AN: Nothing better to do. Might as well make up for lost time and do some back to back updates. I literally posted Ch X 2 minutes ago. Let's see how long it takes me to finish this.
WARNING: This chapter contains scenes of a graphic nature. Don't get excited, you perverts, I don't meanthat kind of graphic—I don't write that smut :P I mean there is a scene in here that involves gratuitous amounts of violence and bloodshed. I thought it was time I let you see Pyrites' idea of a little fun.If you were in any way disturbed by this story's previous torture, then I would advise you to proceed with caution. Reading this might be like going to the dentist and getting teeth pulled…
Disclaimer: I own no rights to Harry Potter. If I did, I wouldn't be writing this from the same desk I started writing fanfiction at 7 years ago. I'd have enough money to be able to move out and get married and not be a broke college student still living with my parents.
As soon he arrived, the first thing Harry took notice of was that the burning sensation in the Dark Mark had vanished. With the pain gone, he was then able to give his full attention to the matters at hand.
The neighborhood was quaint and tidy. Perfect cookie-cutter homes lined the well-lit street, separated from each other by white picket fences. Each yard had a well manicured green lawn, sporting quintessential features such as flower gardens, trimmed hedges, and the occasional tire swing. The Dursley's would have approved of such a fine example of average Muggle suburbia. Everything seemed to be in its rightful place… except at the home Harry was standing in front of.
Here, the flower bed had been trampled into the dirt by the numerous black-robed figures storming their way inside. Windows had been shattered and the front door hung off its hinges from where it had been blasted through. The screams that emanated from within pierced through the otherwise tranquil air of the cool night.
Through the shards of the front bay window Harry could make out at least a dozen Death Eaters moving about inside. Jets of different colored lights preceded various destructive sounds. Crashes, shattering, explosions…. And still the ceaseless cries of those inside being mercilessly tortured.
Whatwashedoinghere? Harry had absolutely no desire to be a part of this. Was this the retribution that Voldemort had referred to- forcing Harry to witness such heinous crimes? Well he wouldn't give him the satisfaction. He answered the call, he went where he was told, but now it was time to get out of here. But though he wanted to escape he found that he couldn't force himself to move, not whilst he could still hear the pleas of those Voldemort choose to be his victims. Harry couldn't just run away and leave them here to die. And though he was defenseless and outnumbered, he knew that he had to do something to help. He threw off the Invisibility Cloak and jammed the Mask on, preparing to rush inside. But something had changed…
As soon as the Mask had touched his face, Harry felt overwhelmingly nauseous. He took a step forward and stumbled, unable to gain his balance. It felt as if his head had been stuffed with cotton and he could neither see nor think clearly. Coiling its way through his mind was a low, hissing voice. It grew louder; stronger; constricting his thoughts until Harry was cut off from them entirely. It was then that the hungry, serpentine language unhinged its jaws and consumed him.
Harry's eyes snapped open… but they were not his eyes. The eyes that now scanned the night were not the famous emerald green but rather a shade of darkest black. Iris, retina, pupil—everything completely blacked out. Beneath the Mask a devious grin grew wider, unbefitting of the boy's usual features. But he was no longer Harry Potter. He was a Death Eater.
All semblance of his self forgotten, he strode into the house, taking care to tread on a family portrait that lay in its shattered frame on the floor. Upon his entrance, all activity in the room seemed to cease and all eyes turned towards him. The two Death Eaters currently taking their turns with the victims slowly lowered their wands and merged back in with the surrounding crowd. Despite being hidden behind a mask, everyone knew who he was. And everyone wanted to know what he was going to do.
But Harry took no notice of them for his attention was drawn solely to the figures lying in the center of the floor of their living room. A man and his wife, no doubt. They clung to each other, whimpering and crying, as they watched his approach fearfully. Harry did not break his stride. The sea of black robes parted for him as he made his way through. With no hesitation he reached a hand out to either side of him and snatched up wands from two unsuspecting Death Eaters. They each made instinctive, noncommittal movements in response, but their shock and building curiosity kept them otherwise motionless. The air in the room was thick with anticipation.
Harry stopped to stand directly over the terrified subjects on the floor. He twirled each of the wands through his fingers casually as he looked down at them and smiled a twisted smile that no one could see.
"Please… Please don't hurt us anymore…" The man begged, literally on his knees. His wife clung tightly to his side. "We'll do whatever you want… We have money…"
His pleas were ignored as Harry opened his mouth and bellowed a curse. "CRUCIO!" He shouted, and the spell shot out of both wands simultaneously, the left driving into the chest of the man; the right into that of the woman. The room erupted in a cacophony of noise as the raucous cheers of the astounded Death Eaters managed to overpower even the Muggles' screams of anguish as they convulsed grotesquely on the floor. After perhaps half a minute, Harry strengthened the spell even further, but even then their shouts could barely be heard. Death Eaters clapped him on the back and punched the air in triumph as Harry Potter—"The Chosen One"- continued the Cruciatus curse on not one, but on two Muggles. Their fits were growing weaker now as the spell took its toll on their bodies. A foamy saliva oozed from their out stretched mouths and only the whites of their eyes could be seen as they fell closer to insanity. The Death Eaters could not handle it anymore and many were overcome by triumphant laughter. A chorus of "We've got Potter!" went up around the room.
"I think it's my turn now," a cool voice said a few moments later, and though it was low it was still clearly heard amidst the commotion. A figure stepped out of the crowd and into the center of attention, a tattered brief case clutched within a white gloved hand. Harry acknowledged that his time was up and ended the spells with a snap of each wrist. The screams subsided into moans as the two Muggles collapsed. Harry unceremoniously dropped the wands that he had used and the Death Eaters they belonged to scurried to gather them up off the floor. "He used my wand!" One of them exclaimed, thrusting it into the air. Another round of cheers went up again. Harry joined the mass and stood silently, oblivious to the congratulatory remarks he was receiving.
Broken glass and specks of blood covered what was probably once a pristine white carpet. Husband and wife attempted to crawl towards each other, but Vel Pyrites made a "tsk-tsk" sound. "Oh, I don't think so," he said, flicking his wand. Thin cords shot out and bound themselves around the victims, keeping them from moving any closer together. He crouched down to appraise them. He picked up the woman by her thick brown hair to better view her tear-streaked face, causing her to wince and shy away.
"Please…." She managed to choke out through her sobs.
"Don't you touch her!" The husband shouted. Vel shrugged and obligingly let go, causing the woman's face to drop hard onto the glass-covered ground with a sickening crunch. She groaned. The Death Eaters laughed.
"Why are you doing this to us?" The man cried out hysterically. "For Christ's sake, we're just dentists!"
Pyrites turned to him, feigning interest. "Dentists? You don't say. I always fancied I'd make a good dentist. You cause people pain; I cause people pain—we've got quite a bit in common." Pyrites said wryly. "I could use more hands on practice, though, you know? My procedures are a mite bit rusty. As are my instruments…"
Without even glancing down at his case, Pyrites managed to procure a rusty set of pliers. He dangled them before the man's face, whose eyes grew wide in fear.
"Say 'aah'," Pyrites growled, gripping the man's tear and sweat drenched face and forcing his mouth open. The terrified victim jerked and pleaded, eyes never losing sight of the pliers. But just as the tool was about to reach inside his mouth, Pyrites paused and released him. The man panted in relief and Pyrites sat back on his haunches. "No…. I want to make sure that I'm doing this right. Don't want to be too hasty, now, do I? I'm going to need you to tell me what I'm doing wrong. Tell me; is this proper procedure?"
As he asked he lunged at the whimpering woman on the floor and in one swift movement had shoved the rusty metal instrument in her mouth. With no hesitation he clamped down on several teeth and wrenched back as hard as he could, sending fragmented shards of enamel flying across the room in a spray of blood. The howl of pain the woman unleashed was cut short as she began to choke on the blood pooling in her mouth. The gurgling and bubbling could clearly be heard as she continued her attempts to scream. She thrashed back and forth, coughing, gagging, and spitting blood. Pyrites ever so calmly wiped some of the splatter from his face.
"You… bloody…. bastard!" Her husband stammered out, shaking both with rage and uncontrollable sobs. "Jean, I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…."
"I'm so sorry too, Jean…" Pyrites said, almost sounding sincere. "I don't think I did that quite right… Would you mind if I tried one more time?"
She let out a gargled squeal of protest that Pyrites completely disregarded. He held her head down against the floor and brought the pliers back to her mouth. There was an audible squelching noise as another tooth was ripped from her jaw. "Was that better or worse?" he asked, holding up the tooth to better admire the bloody bits of flesh that still clung to the roots. She groaned deliriously, her pale face a mess of tears and smeared crimson. On the other side of Pyrites her husband thrashed madly in protest, continuing to curse him. Pyrites sighed in exasperation. "There's no need to throw a fit; it will be your turn soon enough. Patience. Just a few more and I think I'll have it down pat."
Even some of the Death Eaters had to look away in revulsion as he continued the process of violently removing the woman's teeth. He flung them carelessly over his shoulder. A few of the crowd escaped outside to relieve the contents of their stomachs onto the home's finely maintained horticulture. A few seconds later they were back inside.
"It's the Muggle police!" They reported, and as if on cue, flashing lights could be seen moving down the street.
Pyrites looked up from his work, wrenching out with a strong jerk one final molar from the disfigured mess of a jaw that remained. Blood oozed down his hands and you could no longer tell that they were white gloves that he wore. "Well? Kill them," he said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and several Death Eaters cackled and ran outside, some jumping through the shattered bay window. Spells flew in all directions. There were shouts, screeching tires, and then a terrible crash. One set of flashing lights went out.
"The Order won't be far behind," A nameless masked Death Eater said with concern.
"Then let's give them a scene worth finding!" Another responded. "Torch the place—leave the Muggles to burn!"
Pyrites bent down and got into the face of the inconsolable husband of the woman he had just sadistically tortured. "Sorry, mate. Looks like we ran out of time. But no worries, I have a consolation prize for you," and with that he stood up and stomped on the man's face with the thick heel of his boot. There was a nauseating crunch as his nose was smashed in and a thick mess of crimson spurted everywhere. Either unconsciousness or death claimed him instantly.
Picking up his case, Pyrites then went over to Harry and slapped a wand into his hand. "I was going to give you this earlier, but you seemed to get by just fine without it." And with a crack, he was gone. Meanwhile, the scene had erupted into a frenzy of movement as the rest of the Death Eaters prepared for their own departure. The motionless bodies of the Muggles were subjected to spit and final kicks as spells were sent out to engulf the home in flames. Amidst the mayhem, a stray elbow caught the side of Harry's face, knocking his mask askew.
It was as if a wave of cold water had washed over him and risen him from a terrible nightmare. The black faded from his eyes and the emerald green beneath reemerged. Harry wrenched the mask away and sucked in air greedily, feeling like it had been an eternity since he had last been able to breathe. But instead of cool air filling his lungs, he was met with an acrid smoke that forced him into a coughing fit. His head spun deliriously and he staggered over to lean against the door frame, trying to clear both his mind and his lungs.
Death Eaters swarmed about, cackling, shouting, shooting off spells. On the lawn they sent green jets of light towards more of the approaching cop cars. Many of them decided to take their leave and sharp cracks could be heard as they Disapparated. The ones still remaining inside the house looked like nothing more than shadows silhouetted against the growing flames. The black smoke rose up into the night sky to meet the blazing image of the Dark Mark that hovered ominously over the home. It was seeing that glowing green symbol that reminded Harry that there were still innocent people within the burning room behind him.
He stumbled back inside in a daze, head still muddled. The smoke burned his eyes and throat but he did not allow that to stop him. Broken glass crunched beneath his feet and three smiling faces looked up at him from the family portrait that Harry vaguely remembered crushing upon his initial entrance. Even through the haze, one face stood out from the picture all too clearly. Harry dropped to his knees, frantically brushing away shards of glass, praying that it was just an uncanny likeness. But there was no possible way of denying it, even though the picture had to have been taken years ago. The girl with the bushy brown hair and slightly enlarged front teeth that was seated happily between her parents could be no one else besides his best friend. Harry felt as if all time and life had ceased as the full realization of the night's events smacked him hard in the chest.
He had participated in the torture and execution of Hermione Granger's parents.
Everything had gone numb. Harry crawled on his hands and knees over broken glass and spilt blood to get to the two bodies lying motionless on the floor. He reached Hermione's mother first and tried desperately to shake her awake. "E-Ennervate," he stammered, shaking his newly retrieved wand at her erratically. Her head lolled to the side and lifeless eyes stared up at him, still wide and filled with fear. Her mouth had been transformed into a nearly unrecognizable bloody pulp filled with scattered remnants of teeth, jaw broken and hanging unnaturally. Harry scampered away from the sight, unable to bear it, as silent tears rolled unhindered down his face. He couldn't think. He couldn't move. He couldn't bring himself to believe that this had actually happened.
A moan to his left drew him back to the present. Harry's head snapped up to see Mr. Granger's form shifting slightly in its binds. He clambered over to him, the bloodied carpet beneath him squelching with his every move. Harry frantically clawed at the magical cords that bound his friend's father but his efforts were in vain. Mr. Granger groaned with the pain of his obliterated nose and tortured body. Though not conscious, he was definitely alive. But Harry wasn't sure for how much longer. He had to get him help…
"Freeze! Don't you bloody move," A command came from the doorway. Several Muggle police officers stood there, guns drawn and pointed directly at him. They took in the scene—two disfigured bodies lying motionless in a burning room, a young man leaning over one of them covered in blood. Harry attempted to raise his hands to show he meant no harm, but apparently the sudden movement was too much for the traumatized officers to handle and one of triggers got squeezed. A searing, red hot pain shot through Harry's right shoulder as the bullet tore its way through his flesh. He clamped a hand to it, great quantities of warm blood pumping out over his fingers. He slumped over, but before he could hit the ground, someone forcefully grasped a fistful of his hair and wrenched him back. Within a split second Harry felt the familiar tube squeezing sensation of Disapparation just as a bullet whizzed past his head.
The grasp on his sweat-matted hair was released as they arrived and Harry collapsed on the floor. He clutched his freely bleeding shoulder as he spun around in search of who had taken him and to where. What he instead found was a wand aimed at his face.
"Sleep," came the command, and a light blue and gold mist was emitted from the end of the wand. Before he could even formulate a question in his mind, Harry slumped over in a deep slumber.
When he next awoke it was to find himself laid out on a worn couch in a dimly lit, unfamiliar room. He raised himself up and winced at the pain in his shoulder. It no longer burned as intensely as it had before but had instead been reduced to a stinging ache. Harry touched it gingerly and found that it had been bandaged. He looked around in an effort to figure out where he was and was startled to find that someone was sitting in a chair directly across the room from him. He was even more startled when he realized who the greasy-haired, hook-nosed man was.
"You!" He shouted, jumping to his feet in fury of rage at finding himself face to face with Severus Snape. He attempted to lunge himself over the coffee table at the murderer, but Snape merely flicked his wand and Harry found himself thrown back onto the couch. Snape came and hovered over him, his wand never moving more than an inch from Harry's face.
"Not a word from you, Potter," He snarled through gritted teeth. "I have just saved your life, but I assure you that the guilt that you will feel over the next few days will make you regret it. You will bear the burden alone and you will do so silently. You keep your head down, your mouth shut, and you do what you are told. Understand?"
Snape was livid. His face was paler than usual and his words were ice cold. Harry was so taken aback that he could not respond. Was Snape threatening him or trying to help him? His confusion even managed to overtake the hatred that he had for the man. In the next moment, he had wrenched Harry off the couch and thrust his Death Eater mask and wand into his chest from where they had sat atop the little table. "Get out of here. You have a grieving friend to console." Snape ordered and then swiftly left the room, leaving Harry standing there more lost than ever. With nothing else to do, he Disapparated back to Hogsmeade.
He arrived with a pop and immediately whipped off the black robes. He pulled the Invisibility cloak out of the pocket he had crammed it in, relieved it was still there. He threw it on and began the walk up to Hogwarts, wrapping the black robes tightly around the silver mask as he did. He tried not to think, to allow his mind to go blank, but flashes of memories from the night would not allow themselves to be forgotten.
From the time he put on the mask up to the moment it was knocked off, everything was a blur. Remembering it was as if he was watching himself from outside a fogged-up window. Words were muffled, colors were muted, and everything around the edges of his perception had been darkened out. He could see himself walking through the crowd of Death Eaters towards Hermione's parents and he could see the fear that they had in their eyes as they looked up at him and begged for salvation. But he delivered only further suffering. Whathadhedone?
By no means would he have ever intentionally harmed someone in the way that he had tonight, and especially not if they were the parents of one of his best friends. If Harry had had any semblance of control he would have done all that was in his power to stop the attacks, whether they be on the Grangers or someone he had never met. Regardless of whatever oath he had sworn or what tattoo he was forced to bear he would have never done something like this. Voldemort had enchanted his mask to force him to carry out his will. As long as that mask was on, Harry had absolutely no control over his actions. Despite knowing this, he took full responsibility for what had transpired this night. And Snape had been right: the guilt was crippling.
He allowed his feet to carry him without thinking about where he was going and before long Harry found himself standing at the doorway to the bedroom Ginny had shown him earlier. Had it really only been a few hours ago that he had lain peacefully in bed with her? It felt like a century. Harry staggered into the room, gratefully numb to the physical and emotional pain he was ridden with. He slid off the Invisibility Cloak and dropped it to the floor carelessly along with the bundle of robes that he held. He stared blankly into a mirror, just barely able to discern that the image that stared back at him was himself. His black hair was more of a mess than usual as it was matted down in places with sweat and ashes. Dark grey soot covered his pale face save for where the streaks of tears had carved their way through. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with the hem of his shirt, the neck of which had been sliced to allow access to the wound beneath. Harry took off the bloodied garment to closer examine the bandaging. A thick square of gauze had been taped down and he peeled it back to reveal a gleaming red circular mark. He touched it gently to find the entire area was warm and tense. He experimentally tried lifting his arm but could bring his elbow no higher than his shoulder. Harry sighed. It was just one more scar to add to the myriad that already covered his body. Faded pink gashes marred his chest, a few of the larger ones still containing stitches since they refused to heal magically.
Harry turned away from the mirror in disgust and staggered towards the little bathroom connected to his room. He turned the water on in the shower to hotter than he would usually enjoy and got undressed. His forearm was still wrapped up in gauze from where Pyrites had helped him hide the Dark Mark beneath. Harry unwound the bandaging to keep it from getting wet so he could continue to hide it later. He stepped into the shower and allowed the scalding water to wash away the vestiges of the night's events, his tears indistinguishable from the water running over his face. His various injuries stung fiercely, but he stood motionless beneath the steaming stream. The water pooling about his feet turned dark brown with the blood of the Grangers and the ashes of their home.
That morning he had woken up in his hospital bed in St. Mungo's. He had been reunited with his closest friends after nearly two months. He felt the burn of the Dark Mark for the first time. He was forced to face Voldemort as his servant. He was tortured by the Cruciatus. He returned to Hogwarts. He was told that he had actually been killed and somehow resurrected. He felt the burn of the Dark Mark again and answered its call. He lost complete control of his free will and tortured his best friend's parents as he was cheered on by Death Eaters. He witnessed and contributed to the Grangers' deaths. He was shot. He was rescued by the man that killed Dumbledore. …It had been one hell of a day, and Harry knew it was still far from over. He prayed that his overwhelming plethora of emotions could be washed down the drain as easily as the rest of the filth from the night, but the blood that was on his hands would be with him for the rest of his life.
Barely able to keep his eyes open any longer, Harry turned off the water and began toweling off half-heartedly. He picked up the gauze and rewrapped his arm to conceal the tell-tale brand of a Death Eater, unable to bring himself to even look at the repulsive image that he wanted nothing to do with. As he staggered back into the bedroom he grabbed a t-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms from his trunk, struggling to pull them onto his pained, exhausted body. He reached the bed just as he managed to pull his last arm through and passed out before he even landed face-down on the mattress.
Mere seconds later, there was a loud banging on his door.
"Harry? Harry, are you in there?" Came a frantic and distressed sounding Ginny Weasley. Harry's bloodshot eyes shot back open. He seriously considered the option of remaining silent in the hopes that she would think him still gone and go away… but she didn't leave him that choice. She tried the doorknob and, finding it open, let herself inside. Harry silent cursed not having the foresight to have locked the door. He groaned audibly as he strained to sit himself back up. Ginny rushed over and threw her arms around him.
"Oh, Harry, thank goodness you're here!" She breathed. He could tell that she had been crying.
Harry rubbed his eyes. "What is it, Ginny?" He asked, although he already knew too well what the answer would be. He wasn't ready to deal with this yet, but he also knew that this was part of the price that he had to pay.
"Harry, it's terrible! There's been another attack! It... It was Hermione's family!"
"What? What happened? Are they alright?" Harry tried to make himself sound as surprised and concerned as he possibly could. He hoped that if he was in any way lacking Ginny would contribute it to how exhausted he looked.
"It was the Death Eaters. Mad-Eye said they broke into their home and tortured them. The house was burnt down and everything. Hermione's dad is at the hospital; they think he might be ok. But her mum… Oh, Harry!" Ginny threw her arms around him again and sobbed and Harry did his best to comfort her. He found that he had at least been shocked by one thing that she said.
"So Mr. Granger… He's alright, then?" Harry asked, this time not feigning his concern. Ginny pulled back and wiped the fresh tears off her cheeks, nodding.
"Everyone's going to St. Mungo's to see him now. Hermione's already there, so is Ron. I just wanted to find you first," she said, standing up and taking hold of his hand. "Come on, Tonks said she would wait for us."
Harry wanted to protest; to pull his hand out from hers and just deal with it all later after he got some sleep, but he knew he couldn't do that. Right now he had to be there for his friends. It was the least he could do. After all, this was his fault.
He allowed her to lead him off the bed. He grabbed a jacket and his wand from where it had dropped it on the floor. The pile of robes swaddling his mask was still there as well, and he kicked them out of view.
He was extremely thankful that Ginny was too distraught to want to talk. She had her fingers laced through his and her head rested on his shoulder. Aside from the occasional sniffle, they walked in silence. When they made it down to the entrance hall it was to Tonks standing quietly by the door, her hair an unusually dull shade of brown.
"Wotcher, Harry," Tonks said sadly. "Good to see you up and about. At least it would be under different circumstances.
Harry nodded. "Where's Lupin?" he asked as the three of them walked outside. A carriage was already waiting by the door.
Tonks looked up into the night sky where a full moon hung over the castle. "He's… around," she eluded, climbing into the carriage.
A Portkey had already been set up for them in Hogsmeade. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Bill Weasley, and his recently wedded wife Fleur Delacour-Weasley greeted them. Kingsley checked his watch. "You've made it with nearly 3 minutes to spare," He said to Tonks. "And I'm glad to see you're doing better, Harry. You probably didn't expect you'd be returning to St. Mungo's so soon."
Harry made a noncommittal grunt in response. Bill came up and looked him in the eye.
"You've got some nerve, Harry," he said sternly, and Harry was genuinely taken aback.
"Erm, Bill, I…" he stammered, truly lost and frankly rather terrified.HowcouldBillpossiblyknow?
"Missing our big day like that. Honestly, what were you thinking getting yourself kidnapped then? You couldn't have waited 3 more weeks?" he laughed and Harry realized that he had been joking. Bill clapped him on the shoulder. His right shoulder. Harry failed at attempting to pass off his grimace of pain as a chuckle, but no one else seemed to notice. He tried to calm himself down.
"Enough chatter," Kingsley said. "Everyone take hold of this hat."
They all crowded together, each clutching a segment of the old cap. Fleur made a bit of a face, clearly disgusted by the hat's decrepit condition, and Ginny rolled her eyes. Kingsley counted down the seconds on his pocket-watch. "3… 2…1…"
And then they were gone, whirling together through a void in space and time to arrive a moment later in the atrium of St. Mungo's hospital. Kingsley seemed to know just where to go and led them up to the fourth floor. Standing in the hall was a collection of Order members, including among them Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Fred, George, Mad-Eye, and McGonagall. Ginny ran over to her mother and a very pale looking Ron lumbered over to take her place by Harry's side.
"Where's Hermione?" Harry asked him.
"She's inside with her dad," Ron said. "We're giving them some time alone."
Harry nodded. "So he's awake then? Is he going to be alright?"
Ron merely shrugged.
"And Hermione? How is she?"
"Her mum's dead and her dad's not far behind. How the bloody hell would you be?" Ron snapped, and then immediately realized what he had just said. "Harry… I'm so sorry… I just…"
Harry waved it off. "It's fine, Ron. I understand."
Ron cast his eyes down towards his feet. "I don't like hospitals," he murmured.
Harry snorted. "Tell me about." He muttered, leaning against the wall and allowing himself to slide down to rest on the floor. Before he could get too comfortable, a man in a white doctor's robes appeared at the end of the corridor moving towards them. Harry was instantly on his feet again to confront Vel Pyrites.
"Long time no see, Harry," Pyrites greeted with a smile and a wink. Harry glared back fiercely. Pyrites narrowed his eyes then turned to the matter at hand.
"Sorry it took so long to get here. I came as soon as I heard. Terrible, terrible," he said to the Order, receiving teary nods in response.
"There was another Healer here earlier, but we thought you would be the best one for the job. Thank you for coming," Minerva McGonagall said.
"Nonsibisedtoti: Not for one's self but for all. I'm here only to serve." Pyrites said with a slight bow. "May I?" he asked, indicating the door.
"Yes, please do. Hermione is in there with him now…"
"No!" Harry exclaimed and everyone turned towards him with confused expressions. Harry thought quickly. He wanted to keep Pyrites away from Hermione's father for as long as he possibly could so as not to give him the chance to finish what he started. But also, he had to make sure that Mr. Granger was not sentient enough to recall the details from the night. He had seen him, without his Mask… the Death Eaters had chanted his name… Harry had to ensure that he was never able to tell anyone this. "I just… I'd like a moment with Mr. Granger first, while he's still awake. I want to know if he remembers what happened."
There was a slight glint in Pyrites' copper eyes that Harry was sure only he was aware of as a secret knowledge was passed between himself and the doctor-disguised-Death Eater. It was a glint that he took to be the twisted man's approval of Harry's cleverness. And though there were a few minor forced objections, no one stopped him as Harry purposefully pushed past Pyrites and into the room that up until that morning had been his own. He closed the door behind him, and pulled out his wand, prepared to do whatever it would take to wipe Mr. Granger's memories.
At his entrance, Hermione jumped and turned around, and Harry realized that she, too, had out her wand. However, she looked as if she had been trying to put hers away when Harry had startled her.
"Why is your wand out?" They asked of each other warily at the same time. They both looked flustered for a moment, before Hermione broke down into sobs.
"Oh, Harry, I just couldn't bear it!" She cried between her tears. "I did something awful!"
Harry moved across the room and knelt down before her. "What did you do, Hermione?" He asked cautiously.
"He was in shock! He couldn't forget what had been done to him; what had been done to my mother. I knew in his mind it was all he could see and think about. He was still being tortured. He didn't once even look at me…" Her teary brown eyes moved to stare at her motionless father. Harry glanced at him, but when he did he saw flashes of him writhing on the floor under Harry's own spell. Harry shook the vision from his mind and looked back at Hermione. He put his hand on the side of her face and turned her head to face him.
"Hermione. What did you do?" He repeated, a little more sternly.
"I didn't want him to have to live like that…" she said quietly. "I know I shouldn't have but…"
"But what?" Harry asked, genuinely afraid that Hermione had taken her own father's life in an effort to relieve his pain. Harry could not bear that much spilt blood on his hands.
"I erased his memories, Harry. It was the only thing I could think to do that would help."
A wave of relief rushed over him. Mr. Granger was fine. Or alive at least, with the chance to recover and become fine. Even better, Hermione had taken care of the memories for him. Harry's sickening secret would be kept safe and his guilt would be born in silence.
Harry hugged her tightly and she cried freely into his shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Hermione," he whispered, and he meant it more than she would ever know. He was the reason that her life and the lives of her family had been destroyed. Her tears soaked through his shirt and stung the freshly healing wound beneath, the pressure she was placing on his right shoulder near unbearable. But bear it he did, because he deserved to hurt. Harry found some bizarre sense of justice in Hermione's sorrow bringing pain to the injury he got whilst ruining her life.
After a moment, the door opened again and Pyrites let himself in. "I'm so sorry to have to do this, but I'm going to need some time alone to start on treatments," he said to them. Hermione stood up shakily and nodded, wiping the tears from her gaunt face. She relied on Harry to help guide her from the room. He did not even glance at Pyrites as he walked her past but as soon as Hermione was in the hall and safe within the arms of Ron, Harry went back into the room and slammed the door behind him. With strength that he didn't know he had, Harry grabbed a fistful of Pyrites robes and slammed him against the wall, pinning him there with a wand pressed forcefully into his face.
"Don't you fucking hurt him," Harry snarled through clenched teeth.
Pyrites seemed to be enjoying this. "What are you going to do, Harry? Kill me? Torture me like you did those Muggles tonight?" He taunted.
"Yes," Harry growled and a flash of black crossed his eyes. "Crucio."
The spell came much easier than he had expected it to. He kept it on Pyrites only a second or two, just long enough to show him that he was not afraid to use it. Pyrites barely had time to cry out before the spell was lifted, but he was clearly visibly shaken. But that smirk would not stay gone for long.
"My, my. Won't our Master be pleased to hear that Potter does have a bit of a dark side in him after all."
"Do not hurt that man any more than you already have tonight," Harry said, shoving Pyrites away and pointing towards the unconscious Mr. Granger.
"You have my word, Harry. His purpose has already been served. I've had my fun with him," he gloated, smoothing out the front of his robes. Harry sneered at him in disgust and left the room.
Luckily, everyone was too busy comforting Hermione to be suspicious of anything that had just went on and Harry slipped back in amongst them. Ginny was quick to be at his side.
"We're all going to stay the night here to be with Hermione and her father, but you look like you could use a decent night of rest. Tonks is going back to tell Lupin what happened; it's nearly morning now. You should go back with her and try to get some sleep in a real bed, Harry. Merlin knows you deserve it."
Harry found that he could only nod in agreement. He had used the last vestiges of his energy in dealing with Pyrites. Going back to sleep in a bed sounded like the most fantastic thing he had ever heard. After that, everything was a blur in his emotionally ravaged and delusional mind. He vaguely recalled saying good bye and leaving with Tonks, then making their way back up to the castle in the carriage, then the walk through the halls, and then before he knew it he was standing at his door. Tonks gave him a hug and then left to find Lupin.
As soon as she was gone, Harry shut the door, remembering this time to lock it. The first few rays of sunlight were already beginning to creep up outside his window. Stumbling over, he drew the heavy curtains shut and then dropped down on the bed, not even bothering to remove his shoes. In only a matter of seconds, Harry was finally asleep.
AN: So…. That's that chapter…. Hate it, love it- either way, let me know. I'd love to break the 100 reviews mark. I apologize to those disturbed by the gore and stuff. I also apologize to anyone that thought there would be more and was disappointed :P
So not too bad on time between updates, huh? Might be a record for me. Though, this might be the last chapter for a little while. You know, school and stuff. Gotta write a damn 40-page thesis paper so I can graduate. This is a lot more fun, but…you know… priorities :/ I'll be back during winter break.
xX Disapparates Xx