Disclaimer: Ahem! I do not, never have done and never will own the Harry Potter series. They are the property of Bloomsbury and, apparently, Warner Bros. No money is, of course, being made. Thank you.
Summary: "I have to face him…alone. You both know that."
The war rears its ugly head and both Voldemort and Harry are presumed dead. But are they? 20 years on, there are whispers of a new fear – a wizard willing to kill in order to get what he wants. Bodies begin to disappear. Harry is thrust out of his secluded life with his son and becomes Headmaster of Hogwarts. Can the new Headmaster face his past and save the wizarding world? More importantly, will he be able to do so when the blows become too personal?
Post-Hogwarts. No Slash. Post-OotP with a few concepts from HBP.
Thanks to: Dark Syaoran, DGD, Lord Ravenclaw, LT2000, nonjon and Taure for reading through early versions of the first chapter and giving valuable feedback on it.
Special Thanks To: Daggiebel, my wonderful and ever patient Beta. IP82, who proved to be a strong wall to bounce ideas and chapters off of.
Note: This is NOT part of any competition.
A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. -
The setting sun draped a crimson radiance over the golden buildings before it was swallowed by the night. Harry squinted and spotted stragglers scurrying into their houses, nervously glancing over their shoulders as they did so. With Voldemort back, the general wizarding public had reverted to the 'every man for himself' mind frame that had run riot during the first war.
To his right, plastered on the freshly mown grass, lay the Daily Prophet.
Fudge Assassinated, Scrimgeour New Minister
Special report by Robert Robertson
Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and his two sons were murdered at their Yorkshire retreat in the dying hours of yesterday evening. Soon after, the Wizengamot held an emergency meeting and appointed Head of the Auror Department, Rufus Scrimgeour, as the new Minister for Magic.
Ministry officials have confirmed the death of Cornelius Fudge, and it is thought that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself committed the murder before sending up the Dark Mark (see left). The Ministry has been in uproar after the first major attack following the events at the fabled Hall of the Prophecy (reported last week).
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts and Supreme Magwump, said, "We may mourn for the loss of Cornelius Fudge but a sinister mood has gripped our nation. Now we must work together to bring Lord Voldemort to justice before he leaves a path of destruction parallel to his first rising. Minister Scrimgeour is a born fighter and will front the crackdown on terrorism; he has my full support." Minister Scrimgeour was unavailable for comment.
Harry sat, silently frustrated, as darkness descended and wrapped around him like a stifling blanket. His fingers itched to draw his wand, storm into Voldemort's hideout and kill him before anybody else died. He felt guilty that he did not care much that Fudge had been killed, but he knew Fudge was only the first of many to die unless he, Harry, stopped Voldemort.
Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…
Ever since that meeting the words of the prophecy reverberated through his mind. It kept the grief for Sirius at bay; he had a job to do. A job Sirius would have expected him to complete without moping around.
What annoyed him the most was that he had been transported from house arrest in Privet Drive to house arrest in the Burrow. While he loved the Weasleys dearly, he had inconvenienced them so much he almost felt culpable. He had convinced them a few hours previously that they should all go to Diagon Alley and leave him at home.
However fervently Mrs. Weasley tried to convince him that mail order was the latest wizarding craze, Harry all but forced them to go. Hermione and Ginny stayed (Hermione had already bought her things and Ginny had not grown much – Mrs. Weasley was more than capable of picking up the other materials) while Ron had to go as he was a full three inches taller than the previous year. Kingsley was given the job of looking after them.
So there he was. Sitting at the highest point of the Weasley's garden, thinking and brooding. He thought he heard a noise and swivelled around.
"Oh, Hermione, Ginny, what are you doing here?" asked Harry woodenly. Ginny anxiously bit her lip while Hermione frowned.
"What are we doing here? We're here to find out whether you've been kidnapped. You've been out here since dinner!"
"So?" said Harry.
"Just come back in, it's going to get cold and you've only got a T-Shirt on. Plus Kingsley said we-"
"-weren't allowed out after dark, I know." He played with the idea of going inside. While it was getting rather nippy under the cloudless sky, he did not want to conform to idiotic curfews and certainly wished to avoid Hermione's self-satisfied looks at all costs.
"I know you're feeling down about Sirius," began Ginny sympathetically.
"Every time I'm not completely happy it's always Sirius, isn't it?" said Harry, not unkindly. Before Hermione could argue further, he marched across the garden and into the kitchen. At least this way it's not really on her orders that I'm going inside.
"Finally inside, then?" said Kingsley uninterestedly. He was sitting on one of the old wooden chairs at the dining table with a mug cupped in his hands.
"Yeah," replied Harry shortly. He felt his stomach roar for food and complied by searching one of the cupboards. He was joined by Hermione and Ginny who were both wearing identical scowls.
Before Hermione could admonish him, a ripple ran through the ground that shook the very foundations of the Burrow.
"It's an earthquake!" cried Harry. He remembered learning about earthquakes in primary school, and it was one of the scariest things he had ever come across during his younger years.
"No, that's impossible," babbled Hermione feverishly. "Earthquakes occur on tectonic plate boundaries when a build up of strain energy is released. We're no way near a plate boundary, the nearest one-"
"The wards are being attacked," snapped Kingsley after a quick look outside. "This is one of the most protected places in the country, it could be the inner circle. Here, take these." He passed around three chocolate frog cards to the bafflement of the three teenagers.
"They're Portkeys. When the wards fall, say 'love' and they'll take you to Headquarters."
"Why can't we-"
"There are anti-Portkey wards in place. We'll just stay inside here until-"
Kingsley was cut off as the ground began to shake more violently. China tea-cups began to fall from their racks. One just missed Harry as it fell and a knife knocked out of the drawer almost sliced Hermione's ear off.
"GET OUTSIDE!" yelled Kingsley.
"BUT THAT'S WHERE THE DANGER IS!" shrieked Ginny.
"BETTER THAT THAN DEATH IN HERE!" roared Kingsley. Quickly, they scrambled for the door. He heard a cry of pain from behind him, but Ginny ushered him out.
Ignoring the fresh blast upon stepping outside, he swivelled around and gasped. Kingsley had a long, red gash down the side of his face. Blood began creeping out of it and danced across the Auror's face. He had been hit.
"Kingsley!" shrieked Hermione. Suddenly a spark of lilac etched its way across the sky above the Burrow and a grey screen domed across it. It was joined soon after by a red spark and the dome became a lighter grey, like a middle-aged man's beard. The sparks stayed, though, hanging ominously.
"Hide!" Kingsley said thickly. "Harry, do you have your invisibility cloak?"
"No, it's upstairs. Should I-"
"No, just hide somewhere, anywhere. Do it now! When the wards fall, take the Portkey."
"Can't we just disillusion ourselves?" asked Ginny fearfully.
"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named will see right through it! Albus has told us about some of the transformations the Dark Lord has been through."
"What about you? Will you be alright?" asked Hermione as Kingsley temporarily stopped the flow of blood. The ground reverberated again and a small crack ran its way through the ground. It was accompanied by a wash of turquoise across the dome.
"Don't worry about me. I've got a job to do. Hide!"
Harry narrowed his eyes. He's going to take on Voldemort! He was about to follow the injured Auror when he felt a hand hold him back.
"We've got to hide, Harry." He tugged his arm out of her grasp and glared at her.
"No, you've got to hide. I've got to face Voldemort. It's up to me to beat him, not Kingsley."
"Harry, you can't!" cried Hermione.
"If you go, we'll go," said Ginny intently. A brilliant flash of blinding white light lit up the whole area above the Burrow and the dome grew lighter. Harry had to shield his eyes under its gaze. Then, as if it had never existed, the dome had gone, taking all the other coloured lights with it. The temperature seemed to dip further.
"Take the Portkey!" cried Harry over his shoulder as he rushed towards Kingsley and an approaching figure.
"No! We're going with you!"
"I said take the bloody Portkey! There's nothing you can do but injure yourselves. Voldemort's no walk in the park, you've never been up against him, he'll kill you!"
Harry sprinted harder and spotted Voldemort deflecting all the spells Kingsley was sending at him. He grimaced as Kingsley was thrown to the floor. He did not get up.
"Ah, Harry, how wonderful to see you," sneered Voldemort as Harry ran closer. "I was speaking with your mudblood protector friend here, and he informed me you were gone. You can understand how relieved I am that you've joined me. Oh and you've brought friends as well? Charming." His thin pale lips were drawn into a cold smile.
Harry's hands slowly closed into fists. Here was the man who robbed him of everything. His mother, father, Sirius. It was because of him that Harry went to the Dursleys. "Reducto!"
Voldemort yawned and flicked the curse away. "Now, now, Harry, violence is not always the key. Has Dumbledore taught you nothing?"
"Stupefy! Reducto! Stupefy!" Two of the curses missed and the one of the stunners was again lazily batted away. Harry was fuming now, he had to hit him! Beside him, Kingsley began to stir. He's alive!
"I'm growing rather bored of you, Harry," said Voldemort coldly. "I tire of the constant annoyance you face me with. Funny how you slither out of the most unfavourable of situations. Snake-like, in fact. Perhaps you do belong to Slytherin."
"Conjunctiva! Impedimenta!" Both rebounded off a thin shield around Voldemort and rebounded harmlessly away.
"However, this time you will not escape. I will personally make sure of it. Today, the prophecy will be fulfilled. Let me start with your friends."
"No! Crucio!" The sickly red curse passed straight through the shield and struck Voldemort squarely in the chest. To Harry's horror, other than a raised eyebrow, the Dark Lord showed no other effects. Both Ginny and Hermione gasped, their first actions since being glued to the spot by Voldemort's mere presence.
"Fool," spat Voldemort. "You hold only righteous anger. You have to mean it. Crucio!"
Harry could not dodge in time and felt the familiar unbearable pain course through his body. He bit his lip to stop himself from screaming. A trickle of blood rolled down his chin as he pressed down harder. He could not hold it in any longer. His scream pierced the still night. Quickly, it was released, and he panted deeply, suddenly aware that he was on his knees.
"Fallangata!" yelled Hermione shakily. A yellow, concentrated beam arced perfectly towards Voldemort, who side-stepped skilfully.
Hermione's eyes widened, and Harry bellowed for her to move. She ducked in time, and the curse dissipated innocuously. Kingsley crouched down and reached for his wand. Before he could do anything, Voldemort shot the Killing Curse at him. Simultaneously, Harry shot another stunner at Voldemort.
The two curses brushed past each other, just enough for the Killing Curse to be deflected away from Kingsley. Harry's smile was wiped off his face. He paled, mouth ajar. The green curse of death had veered away from Kingsley only to strike Ginny in the shoulder.
"No!" Harry bellowed as she fell awkwardly into a crumpled heap. She was dead. "NOOO!"
"Take the bloody Portkey!" hissed Kingsley painfully. Harry delved in his pocket and extracted his Chocolate Frog card Portkey. Face stinging with tears, he banished it towards Hermione.
"Love," he yelled. Before either Hermione or Voldemort knew what was happening, she was gone.
"I meant you, Harry! Why didn't you take the bloody Portkey yourself?" winced Kingsley difficultly.
"Potter, you lost your chance. You won't save this disgrace of an Auror now. Avada Kedavra!" This time, the Killing Curse struck true. There was nothing he could do, Kingsley was dead.
"I'm gonna kill you," breathed Harry erratically. "I'M GONNA KILL YOU! Avada Kedavra!" A brilliantly green jet of light the size of a log lit up the area and rushed towards Voldemort. Harry had to avert his eyes as the radiance blinded him.
When he opened his eyes, there was no Voldemort. His tear-sticken gaze was drawn towards the ground where Voldemort had stood seconds earlier. In his place was a bundle of robes. Is he dead? Harry stumbled forward and investigated further. An excruciating relief built up slowly inside of him and threatened to flood his grief. He fell to his knees in exhaustion. It's over.
"Relieved?" whispered a voice in his ear. Harry's blood ran cold. Voldemort was still alive.
Without warning, he was blasted through the air at the speed of a firebolt. Before he knew it, he had entered through the open doorway to the Burrow. Luckily, he managed to evade the doorway. His joy was short-lived as he crashed back first into the far wall of the kitchen. He screamed in pain. His back felt as if it was on fire.
Unexpectedly, he felt as if he was shot by a bullet as something entered his mind. It spoke to him in a deep, harsh whisper. "You thought you could kill Lord Voldemort? Foolish boy. I will always have the last laugh. How ironic that the last thing you will experience is your only love, this muggle lover's hovel. Goodbye, Harry."
The departure of the voice was met with the same searing pain. He began to black out and could feel the temperature rise. The ceiling above him was crumbling and looked as if it would fall at any moment. He thought he was beginning to see things as he could make out the figure of a black panther bounding through the collapsing doorway. I'm sorry I failed you mum. His eyes closed for one last time.
Where am I?
All of a sudden, Harry became aware of a soft material caressing his cheek. He blindly stretched his fingers out. They worked. He moved his legs a little. They worked. Is this what death is like? Waking up in a nice bed?
Harry awoke with a start. He rubbed his eyes before stretching his arms. He groped for his glasses and found them on his bedside table. He gazed around at the room; it was brilliantly white with nothing in it but his bed and a white bedside table. For a fleeting moment he thought he was in heaven.
Upon closer inspection he found that the room's holy aura did not just come from the colour of the walls. Sunlight poured in from a large glass door directly opposite to his bed. The doors were open, and the curtains were billowing spectrally in a gentle breeze. Harry pulled back his covers and found he was wearing a pale-blue dressing gown. He licked his dry lips and walked slowly towards the doors.
"I knew the first thing you'd do is go to the balcony. That's two galleons father owes me." Harry jumped, then stood rooted to the spot. He turned on his heel and eyed the intruder.
She held an air of modest normality that was utterly new to Harry. The only feature that stood out was her long, blonde hair that fell down to the small of her back. There was an honest glint in her baby blue eyes and her small smile bore sincerity. She looked very much like a typical rural-bred girl.
"I'm Lyra, by the way," she added chirpily.
"Harry, yes, I know. So how'd you like your room?"
"Err I dunno, I was just looking around you see…"
"How silly of me. Come on, let's go to the balcony, you were clearly heading that way anyway."
She led him past the billowing curtains and onto a very small platform with white railings passing around it. The rising sun set a dance of rays over a sea of water in the distance. The balcony peeked over a towering cliff overlooking a small, grubby beach. Harry watched open-mouthed as small waves rushed in and tickled the sand. A small ship was sailing away towards the horizon, its elevated masts a shadow.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" whispered Lyra. "Sometimes I just stand here and watch the sun set, it kind of reminds me of-" She snapped out of her reverie as if she had only just noticed Harry and flushed. "Sorry, I went into a different world just then, didn't I?"
"No, you're right," muttered Harry, meeting her eyes with his. "It is beautiful." She smiled slightly, draping her arms over the railings.
"We can go down to the beach, I mean – if you want of course." Harry peered down at the secluded beach and the hopeful look on Lyra's face.
"Sure, is there a ladder here somewhere?" Harry's eyes roved around the platform, hoping there was an easier way. He shot Lyra a befuddled look as he caught her chuckling. "What?"
She placed her small hand over her mouth in an effort to abate her giggling. "Don't take this the wrong way, but are you a muggle or something? We're gonna apparate of course! Erm, you do know how to apparate, don't you?"
"Erm…no," admitted Harry, slightly embarrassed at his lack of expertise.
"Don't worry," she said reassuringly, finally winning her battle to keep a straight face, "just touch my arm." Harry felt goose bumps appear down his back as he lightly touched her arm. The warm sensation was replaced by a feeling of being forced through a small tube. In a blink of an eye, they were on the beach.
Suddenly, he felt extremely self-conscious of wearing only his dressing gown. He flushed slightly and made sure the gown was properly covering his body as he sat down.
"Where am I?" asked Harry wistfully, gazing into the distance.
"You're in Yarmouth, my dad's house to be specific. My dad brought you in some time ago, you were pretty roughed up. No need for you to tell me about your story, every goddamn person knows it anyway."
"What? Who's your dad? Why did he bring me here?"
"My dad's a Prewett, Pascal Prewett to be exact. He brought you here because he had to."
"Prewett?" said Harry. "But Mrs. Weasley only mentioned-"
"My dad…well let's say he not particularly close with his family any more. I'm sure he'll tell you the whole story when you meet him."
"Do you go to Beauxbatons?" asked Harry, she looked his age, but he was quite sure he had never seen her at Hogwarts.
"No, father teaches me at home. We…there's no point in going to school. We just stick it out together."
"But – But wouldn't you prefer to be around people your age?" said Harry, the mere thought of not going to school was utterly bizarre; he couldn't imagine learning by himself, with just one person.
"Not really, people our age are idiots – no offence. Sometimes I wish I had a brother or sister, but I'm happy with dad. I don't know what I'd do if he weren't here with me…"
Suddenly the memories came back to Harry. Voldemort had attacked the Burrow. Kingsley was dead. Ginny was dead. It was entirely his fault. He gazed down at the sand, grabbed a handful and let it trickle out of his hands slowly. "It was all my fault," he whispered.
"What was your fault? Father didn't say…."
Harry just sat there, numb with the true severity of it all. He had directly caused her death. I'm practically a murderer. What will Ron and the other Weasleys think? Will I be sent to Azkaban? Do they know the truth, that I killed her? A sickening feeling made its way to the back of his mouth. It's entirely my fault.
"Listen – Harry – I don't really know what happened, but I can tell you wouldn't have done…whatever it is on purpose."
"But I killed her," he croaked, a lump rising in his throat. "I killed Ginny." Lyra looked shocked for a moment then met his eyes. Comprehension seemed to dawn on her as she looked at him before Harry broke the contact.
"Did you cast the Killing Curse?" she asked calmly.
"It was my fault, it doesn't matter who-"
"I said, did you cast the Killing Curse?" she repeated sharply.
"Then it's not your fault!" Harry lifted his heavy head.
"You don't understand," he said hollowly.
"Hey!" yelled a voice from behind him. He quickly wiped a stray tear from behind his glasses. As the man drew closer, Harry gasped. Marching towards them was a short, rugged man with broad shoulders. His hair was long, unkempt and flaming red and crept into an equally shaggy beard. His eyes were small, brown and restless; a wild madness seemed to reside within them. He limped right up to Harry and shook him gruffly by the shoulders.
"Lyra! I thought I told you not to talk to 'im without me, eh? I thought I told you I'd be the one to explain, eh? You better 'ave a good explanation for disobeying me…"
"Daddy, please, am I not allowed to have friends then? Do I have to stay lonely for the rest of my life? Is that what you want?" She stood abruptly and placed her hands on her hips.
"No, honey, but you need to understand that boys his age-" He jerked a thumb towards Harry. "-only think about sex. I'm not gonna let some young whippersnapper take advantage of my only daughter!"
"He's grieving, dad!" she practically yelled. "Apparently, he lost two people and all you can do is make stupid assumptions!"
"Don't you dare get rude with me, young lady!" he roared. "I'm here to protect you! And you just go around disobeying direct orders!"
"Erm, sorry to butt in," said Harry, "but are you Pascal Prewett?" Both father and daughter stopped and looked at him. Both blinked simultaneously before Lyra cracked a striking smile and nodded.
"You better come inside," growled Pascal reluctantly. Harry side-along apparated with Pascal to a beige living room with arched windows and a comfortable leather set of couches as centre pieces. He was sat down on the large three-seater and was joined by Lyra. Pascal's heavy lidded eyebrows narrowed as he seemed to measure the space between the two teenagers.
"This is a long story," he began huskily. "I only 'ope your attention span is slightly above average for those of your age. As you guessed, I'm the eldest Prewett sibling. Well, there's a lot of crap in my past and to sum it up, one thing led to another, and I ran away. It was cruel and stupid, but at the time I thought it was the best way. After a few years, they assumed I was dead."
"Err…that was kind of vague," said Harry truthfully.
"Pipe down, boy. Now, I was 'aving quite a good life, making money 'ere and there, but my plan failed me for a day. I discovered a prophecy that involved you and the Dark Lord. Dumbledore's probably told you it by now-" Harry nodded "-Well, I made an Unbreakable Vow to Molly when our parents were killed that I'd do whatever I could to kill the Dark Lord."
"An Unbreakable Vow?" Harry asked.
"A vow which cannot be broken. It is punishable by death. After that 'Alloween night, I was still unable to execute my vow – you were far too young anyway - and I 'aven't been able to get a 'old of you…until now. I'll turn you from a lucky dunderhead to a feared and skilful wizard."
"Why weren't you able to take me before now? Why did you run away?"
"Those questions aren't for today. Per'aps I'll tell you one day, but you need to earn my trust first. Now let me lay down the law when training; whatever I say goes. If I tell you to get up, you get up. If I tell you to 'ex Lyra, you bloody well 'ex 'er till she's begging for mercy, you understand?"
"Wait a minute," said Harry slowly. "I need to go back to the Burrow and explain what happened. Term starts soon. I need to go to Hogwarts and…and G-Ginny's funeral…"
"You won't be going back," cried Pascal fiercely. "You need to be trained now. Not tomorrow, not the day after, NOW!" Harry jumped slightly at the sudden shout and was almost rendered speechless.
"No buts! Anyway, you can't go back. The wizarding world thinks you're dead."
"There was an article saying that you defeated Voldemort," said Lyra softly. "They said you took your life to take his; you're a celebrated martyr now."
"What'll they do when Voldemort attacks in a few days?" Lyra exchanged a look with her father.
"That's the funny thing," said Lyra. "There's been no word of Voldemort. Some of his influential followers have been questioned with Veritaserum, and they confirm that the Dark Lord's gone. It's almost as if he disappeared that night. Perhaps he's biding his time, waiting for the right moment…"
"Meanwhile, the idiots in the wizarding world 'ave been celebrating for weeks now. August the third is Harry Potter Day. A statue of you 'as been made in the Ministry lobby to celebrate it. This bodes well for us. I can spend this time training you without that stuck up old shitball Dumbledore trying to find you."
"What've you got against-"
"Don't ask," said Lyra, "it's a long story. Anyway, looks like you're gong to live with us here in Yarmouth!" She looked genuinely delighted.
"I don't care if they think I'm dead!" exclaimed Harry. "I want to go back, I have to go back. You can train me after I sort everything out. Sorry, Mr. Prewett, but I'm not leaving the wizarding world."
"You are leaving the wizarding world," growled Pascal angrily. "You're leaving because I told you you're leaving. You will stay 'ere. You've no choice."
Harry looked from Lyra to Pascal. There's no point in arguing, he thought, there's no way I can persuade him to let me go. Maybe I can try to escape later.
"Fine," said Harry, feigning resolve. "I'll stay."
Please spare a moment to drop a review, leaving your thoughts and OWL rating for this chapter. Thank you.
To Be Continued…