Disclaimer: I don't won anything you recognize (except if it is from one of my other stories...) And it's valid for all the chapters of the story!
Chapter 1: An Eventful 7th Year
Some people believe that when you are going to die, your life flashes in front of your eyes.
Harry Potter never spared the belief a glance… If you were to ask him right now what he thought about it, he'd have to agree…
As he was paralyzed by fear and watched Voldemort's Avada Kedavra race the distance between them, Harry was reliving his life, more particularly his seventeenth year.
After Dumbledore's death, Harry had really felt crushed. He knew everything was now down to him. Voldemort and him were in the middle of a chess game, unfortunately the dark side had taken the white queen and Harry as a little pawn, was nowhere close enough to change into another piece…
Following Dumbledore's wish, Harry went back to his so-called 'safe place' aka the Dursleys, 4th Privet Drive, Surrey.
The Dursleys had enough self preserving to understand that Harry would soon be of age and able to perform his freakiness in them. They weren't much of problem for Harry. However being locked down in a house without magic proved to be impossible for the restless wizard. Especially with the current climate: Dumbledore, the Horcruxes and so.
The problem was soon resolved. Using the memory of one of his discussions with the departed Headmaster, Harry assigned the cleaning of the house to Kreacher (after giving him a plethora of orders to be obeyed at all times), and warned the Ministry. They stopped checking his house after that. His blatant use of freakiness and the green monster were enough to inspire terror into the Dursleys. In fact Dudley was so terrified he made sure to stay far away from his cousin; a fact that was noticed by the entire neighborhood and Dudley's friends. They assumed Harry wasn't a 'juvenile' delinquent anymore but a gangster or something.
Oddly enough it didn't deter the girls or the young kids. The latter had always felt comforted and protected by the quiet 'Potter kid' and the formers were excited by the Bad Boy image. Him being good looking was an added bonus. But Harry wasn't interested. He had given up on the one girl he liked (dared he say he loved her?) to avoid her targeting and wasn't about to let his hormones put someone else in danger.
Instead of going out too much he spent his time using the several items left to him by Professor Dumbledore. There were three books: Charms and Wards to disguise, Mannerisms and Magical Body Enhancements: Know your client and The Art of War (Magical Edition).
This is how Harry's summer went. Reading and learning, first the Art of Magical War (the muggle one was good, but what was the point in studying supplies and weather when every wizard could Apparate?). Then he went to Mannerisms and Magical Body Enhancements. He found out how Snape's cloak always whirled around him, or how Dumbledore's eyes twinkled; he even discovered how Lockhart had teeth that white. All in all, at a first glance it was interesting but not that useful. What was really important was these thick paragraphs explaining why people used these mannerisms and enhancements. It discussed in great lines the psychological state of mind of these wizards. Why they did it and how they perceived themselves, thus enabling a sales person to point out the things that would stroke their ego. For Harry it was more important; it was an introduction to people's mind and through the memories he had viewed, it also enabled him to understand Tom Riddle better than before.
Charms and Wards to disguise was a very interesting read. Harry learned of the different kind of magical concealment. He learned how to apply them and also how to feel them and remove them (mind you, he only learned the theory as he wasn't about to spend his whole time warding the house). He even learned how to tell when there is someone around hidden under an invisibility cloak. The most interesting thing was obviously an added page hand-written by Dumbledore. It contained explanations, wand movements, incantation and pieces of advice to cast the Fidelius Charm.
It pointed out that with the death of both the caster and Secret Keeper, the Charm would fall. Harry resolved to learn it and perform it on Grimmauld Place the soonest he could.
Dumbledore had left two other items to Harry: a Pensieve and a wooden box. The Pensieve was clearly a gift as it came with a small note from the Headmaster.
I hope this will help you as much as mine helps me in the great adventure that is life.
A little smaller than the Headmaster's, this Pensieve was made of dark obsidian and bore Harry's mark: a lighting bolt in the center of the bowl. The wooden box, sealed with powerful enchantments, could only be open by Harry's magical blood. Inside he found nine little bottles filled with a silvery substance. He knew what it was; after all he had spent half of the previous school year going through other people's memories. Something disturbed him greatly though. He remembered the one from the Ministry official in Little Hangleton, the one from Dumbledore's and Tom Riddle's first meeting, the discussion between Slughorn and Riddle, Riddle and his uncle Morfin, Riddle and Hepzibath Smith and when Riddle applied for the Defense Against the Dark Art's job. That made six. Where did the other three memories come from?
Harry checked the bottles and found small indications on them. As he expected he found small tags with initials, BO+MG, AD+TR, HS+TR, TR+MG, TR+HS, AD+LV. Those he understood but there were those three other tags, AD+SS 1, AD+SS 2, and AD+SS 3.
A little incursion in the Headmaster's memories led Harry to see something crazy. Too crazy to be just an invention; furthermore, if Slughorn memory had had one positive effect it was to prove you couldn't fake memories inside a Pensieve. Hence Harry trusted Snape. He couldn't believe it himself, but yes, Snivellus Snape, Severus 'Half-Blood Prince' Snape, bloody git Snape was indeed on his side. Not really on the Light side but definitively against Voldemort. Dumbledore had applied the old principle: 'The enemies of my enemy are my friends'.
On the 31st of July (at 00:01), when Harry officially became the Man-Who-Lived, he left his relatives house for what he believed would be the last time. Granted, his life's expectancy was getting smaller by the day, but he was still 17! As he crossed the front door, he sworn to himself he'd do anything he could to avoid going back to these… beasts. He met Hermionse, Remus, Ron and Tonks just in front of the lawn. It kind of surprised him as he didn't tell them he would be leaving that soon. It had led to an interesting demonstration of logic from Hermione.
"What are you doing here guys? I though you were visiting East Europ?" Harry asked.
"Well we knew you wouldn't stay here a minute more than you had to do. As you are not licensed to Apparate, we figured that in the absence of a portkey you'd get out from the front door within minutes of midnight." Hermione explained with a roll of her eyes. "It wasn't that hard really. Duh!"
"Hmm, interesting deduction. Of course you mean, Remus and you figured it out while the others followed, right?"
Hermione nodded and smiled. "So, what do you want to do now you're a big boy?"
The answer was easy: live. And he had tried to do that, but being the Chosen One limited his possibilities…
A few hours after Hermione had finally made Harry agree to go back to Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall Floo-ed in. She told them that the governors would only allow the school to remain open if the Ministry doubled the Aurors stationed in Hogsmead. Of course Scrimgeour had refused flat out but the Headmistress knew that Harry would be the trump card.
In the end, Hogwarts remained opened, Harry had the right to do portkeys (well, he would once he'd know how) and buy Ministry controlled goods. In exchange he had to go to Hogwarts for his final year (big deal!), come some times at the ministry and give a few interviews. Luckily for Harry, the minister was so happy of having cornered the Boy-Who-Lived that he forgot to specify what Harry could or couldn't say in the Daily Prophet.
When he would try to correct his mistake, the damage was already done…
When Harry left the minister's office he directly went to get his Apparition License. A quick glance at his scar and the letter from Scrimgeour ensured a test in the five minutes (considering none were planned for the next ten days…)
Harry had then led Ron and Hermione to Gringotts where he learned he had access to his family vault. The Potter vault contained a bit of money, but not much, some jewelry, a good number of precious stones, a few magical artifacts, lots of books and some clothing from centuries ago to twenty years ago.
Harry had it emptied and transferred to his personal vault. He then went to buy three trunks (one for him and one for each of his friends) in dark wood. Those cost him a fortune, as they were reserved for Unspeakables he had to flash his authorization from the minister but it didn't come with the usual discount reserved to Ministry's officials…
Each trunk was the same. Eight compartments opening with a magical check. All of them were Expanded and protected to put up with all the stuffs Unspeakables usually carry all the time. It led to a class about magic and trunks.
Harry opened the last compartment. "Ok, I'll take three of them" he said while looking at the sale woman.
"Three?" she asked totally bewildered. "First you can't get even one if you're not from the Ministry and then are you sure you got the money for that kid?"
"I guess so" Harry replied, his eyes cold while flashing the letter Scrimgeour had given him and dropping a bag of galleons.
"Now, I know of a man who lived in his trunk for a certain amount of time. Can I do the same in this one?" he asked, quite innocently.
The saleswoman closed the lid of the trunk sharply and peered at him through her small glasses.
"You intend to live in your trunk?" she asked sharply.
"Well, yeah… I mean… if it's possible then yes."
"Forget it." She said firmly.
"Because I say so kiddo." The saleswoman snapped.
Annoyed Harry replied coldly. "You have to give me a reason. I won't follow that rule unless I know why you're setting it."
"You want a reason?" she asked quite angrily. "What about you'll be dead?"
"Air isn't renewed so how are you going to breath? The compartment has an Expansion Charm on it. What will you do if it fails? You have magic, don't you? What will you do when after a short amount of time the wood will suck it out of you? Unable to breath, unable to move, unable to do magic: that's what you'll be if you go live inside a trunk. It's a trunk not a house! But you do what you want as long as I get paid. Who am I to tell you what to do?"
No need to point out that Harry never nurtured this kind of idea anymore…
Harry had his vault emptied in his trunk: one compartment was taken by the money, stones and jewelry, another by the books and a third (with hardened interior) contained the magical artifacts. He gave the clothes to the goblins, asking them to deal with in the best way they could (hard to do anything with clothing that used to be top of the fashion in the 1780s…).
When asked why he did this, he pointed out that he'd probably need a lot of money in his quest for the Horcruxes. He didn't know if it was true, but the amount of money he spent this day was enough to forget this specific answer.
Harry dragged his friends to Dragon for Everyday Use. There he bought them an entire set of dragon hide clothes. They tried to refuse but Harry snapped at them. It was that or they stayed in Hogwarts when he went after a 'You-Know-What'.
In the end, Hermione had a pair of robes tailored for a feminine silhouette, a pair of gloves, a wand holster, and a pair of boots. The whole set in dark green. Ron tried to have his in bright orange but the utter look of confusion from the tailor, the one of annoyance from Hermione, the one of anger from Harry and especially the lack of such a good led him to take a set of dark red that blend well with his red hair (Surprisingly, but Harry suspected Hermione of doing some Charm on the coloring).
Harry had his own robes so tailored that he ended by getting a set custom made. Ron and the tailor hadn't understood his obsession but Hermione did. Harry asked for pants. Pants! They were never used but by professionals Herbologists who dealt with dangerous plants. It took a good three hours before the dressmaker managed to get it right but in the end it was exactly what Harry wanted: black leather trousers he could wear around muggles (ok, it was dragon hide, but muggles weren't going to know that). He completed the set with a pair of boots reaching his knees, and a sleeveless vest he could wear under a shirt or a tee-shirt. He had the robes transformed in a cloak (opened in the front) but closer to the body, with wide sleeves.
Harry also bought himself a pair of Dragon Hide gloves, once again customized. He had the fingers cut. The left one looked more like a gauntlet, thin and elongated up to his elbow, while the right one was more like a mitten. There were a few Charms like protection against cold and fire but the best one was an anti-fingerprints. Harry didn't know why but he was always scared some Death Eater would put the Imperius Curse on a muggle official and create problems.
All in all, he made an impressive figure: clad in black Dragon Hide with a green shirt bringing out his eyes, and a waist holster tied to his right leg supporting his wand (and enabling faster withdrawal).
Harry went to the Apothecary and raided the place. He bought at least one of every single ingredient available. A quick stop at the book shop to get his class books and the three friends went to Knockturn Alley. There they found a shady shop selling used wands. Harry insisted in each of them getting one. Even though they weren't perfect and cost much more than they should, he reasoned they could come in hand one day. Harry even found a small pair of vanishing cabinets and bought it without his friends being the wiser. Finally a stop at the Quidditch shop to get three brooms and Harry had spent more money in one day than in his entire life, but felt that at least he'd have a better chance to survive the war.
The rest of the year was a blur to him. There was the birthday party and then the wedding. Everyone had a good drink but Harry was totally wasted. He remembered a small talk he had with Bill the trashed-groom.
"You know Harry… Ain't easy now. People look at me strang'ly in da street."
"I know what ya mean. Scars. People like 'em. You shouldn't give a damn. I don't, 'ven if it's hard som day."
Bill nodded. "Mmm… Got ta try that."
"You do that. Did you… consider chirurgic? Maybe muggles Healers can find a way to lessen the scars?"
"Good idea." Bill answered after a few minutes of thinking (or dozing off, you never know when one is wasted).
"Now my time to give wisdom. Don't push away people for their own protection. What ever you do people will always target your loved ones, you bein' with 'em doesn't change anythin' to tha problem."
"Why are you tellin' me tha'?"
"'Cuz you like Ginny and everybody knows it."
That was a conversation with the devil. The next morning, Harry woke up naked in Ginny's bed. One look at her face was enough to know they had sex that night and another at the sheets was also enough to know it was also her first time…
Lots of screams and tears later, Ginny had understood (again) why they couldn't be together with Voldemort around. But the glint in her eyes told another story.
Surprisingly, Ron didn't say anything but that even though unhappy with the situation he understood the dilemma and respected his friend's privacy. Hermione gave them the cold shoulder for a long time…
The rest of the summer was spent at Grimmauld Place (once again under the Fidelius, Harry as the secret keeper). It was bleak.
Hermione refused to say anything to Harry and spent her time with Ron. The ginger haired teenager knew he wouldn't want to become an Auror if he survived the war; he didn't have much faith in being picked as a player for the Chudley Cannons either. He made a few enquiries about jobs after Hogwarts. He was unlucky enough to do it once in front of Hermione. The girl took it as her personal mission to find the best employment for him. She decided (Ron agreed with it mind you) that he would become a trader: his abilities for tactics, his will to get money and his deep understanding of stocks led them to countless nights were they poured over olds issues of the Daily Prophet (sometimes twenty years in the past), Ron predicting the fluctuation of the market.
In the mean time, Harry learned Curses upon Curses in the Black Library (not very moral ones, but still legal). He even found the identity of R.A.B. as Rugulus Aristide Black. Problem though: the only plausible place of hiding had been raided by Fletcher who was still in jail after his Inferius' interpretation. Luckily Harry was still on the Minister's good side. He managed to get to Mundugus.
The meeting hadn't been gentle. In the end the thief was a bloody pulp but he talked. The guard was impassive but he wore a smile that grew wider by the minute while Harry and Ron were 'persuading' Fletcher than giving all his customers' names was in his best 'interest'.
The trio had to go back to Hogwarts before they could find the locket. The only bright point was the absence of Malfoy's visit during the travel.
Back to school Harry had the pleasure of being back in Hermione's good graces, but that was the only good thing. The term N.E.W.T. wasn't exaggerated. The examination had to be nasty and exhausting considering how bad classes were. The work load had tripled in one year, and the free time had simply disappeared to let a small window of time for Quidditch practice. Harry also had the displeasure of understanding Ginny's glint in her eyes each time she saw him…
Of course he didn't understand it very well until Hermione explained it to him, but in essence Ginny figured that to get Harry back she had to make him jealous. Thus she dated every available guy (and even those not so available…) from Gryffindor. When she had exhausted all the guys from Fourth to Seventh year, she went to the Ravenclaws, then the Hufflepuffs, and finally the Slytherins.
What Ginny had started as a way to get her man back had transformed in a desperate quest for affection. Surprisingly it gained her brother's understanding and Hermione's cold shoulder. As for Harry he mourned. People thought it was his way to express his broken heart (as nobody really knew who had broken up between them). The truth was less romantic: Harry was mourning the death of his Ginny, now replaced by a scarlet woman who could easily be compared to Death: in the end, you'll get it.
Unfortunately for Harry and his friends, they were at war and they had the bad luck of being in the middle of it, meaning: Soul Hunting.
Concerning the locket, Harry was persuaded it had been stolen by Rugulus Black, thus he went to dig the Death Eater's body but found nothing. He raided the entire Black house but found nothing. He checked Mundugus Fletcher's stuffs but found nothing. He checked the previous customers of Fletcher but yet again found nothing. And then, one Sunday as he was brooding in Grimmauld Place he said 'Horcrux' just as e was finishing for the hundredth time the counter Sticking Charm on Mrs. Black's portrait. It appeared it was the key word as she felt from the wall uncovering a small hole where they found the locket of Slytherin.
Hermione wanted to destroy the Horcrux without touching the locket. Harry didn't want to take a chance and wanted to just obliterate it; Ron didn't care either way. In the end, the memory of Dumbledore's blackened hand was enough to sway Hermione to Harry's way and they destroyed the necklace by dropping it in a cauldron of acid.
It was the easier one.
The Cup of Hufflepuff was actually easier to find but getting it wasn't piece of cake. Harry, Hermione and Ron found it in Tom Riddle's old orphanage. Luckily the guy didn't know the Fidelius. Even without this specific Charm, there were enough of them on the building to transform it in a sentient place. It took Harry and Hermione seven days to be able to create a door in the wards. Hermione wanted to un-wave them but Harry's understanding of wards wasn't far enough in this path, yet much more advanced than the regular Curse-Breaker about wards modifications; thus the door. Unfortunately, Harry's ability to detect concealment Charms wasn't as developed as he would have liked. A ward triggered a modified Incendio. Hermione face was burned on the right side, Ron's on the left and he lost his left forearm that was burned to ashes.
A quick trip to Indonesia to see a Healer bent to enchant prostheses and Ron was as good as new. Well not as good, but he had a prosthesis on his left forearm and even though it was insensible, he could still use it like a regular piece of his body and could still hold things in his hand. Still, Hermione and him had ugly scars on the face. The flame hadn't touched their eyes, ears, nose, mouth or hair, but the rest of their face (left for Ron, right for Hermione) was ruined. Luckily for them, they had started dating (a lot) a couple months earlier between Christmas and New Years Eve, thus they didn't have any problem with their boyfriend and girlfriend. The Slytherins didn't miss the opportunity to make remarks of 'how Potter's Fan Club were getting scars to look more like him.'
Hermione spent days looking for a way to remove the Horcux from the cup as the three friends agreed they should at least try. They believe that maybe they could extract the soul and transfer it to a living body (a bit like with the diary). They succeeded; at least to extract the soul. They moved it to a rabbit provided by Hagrid, but when they killed the animal, it released a shock wave of magic than send them with tremendous force into the wall. Luckily Harry was quick enough to throw a cushioning Charm and a Shield. Ron and Hermione weren't that fast and ended up in the Hospital Wing for several days.
All in all the friends estimated it was worth it and that everything was for the better. Except that a Junior Death Eater reported their injuries and Voldemort understood what was going on.
Snape who was in contact with Harry (and kept in providing potions) gave a bit of intelligence.
Apparently Voldemort was showing nervousness and was building some kind of fortress in Albania. Snape had been told to brew some very difficult potions and had learned that every Death Eater with some skill was putting them at use. Voldemort was planning in hiding Nagini in this fortress with no one able to get in (or out for that matter) but himself.
According to Ron it was too good information to let it pass. Harry was a bit reluctant but Hermione convinced him. Thus they portkeyed to Albania and when they were close to the Forest they discovered how screwed they were. There was a Anti-Apparition Ward all around it, coupled with a Ward alerting Voldemort himself if any kind of magic was performed by anyone but a Death Eater. They learned that the hard way when their guide summoned the Albanian equivalent to the Knight Bus. Every single person in the bus was slaughtered. Harry, Hermione and Ron just watched, with rage and fear, hidden under Harry's invisibility cloak.
For two weeks the three friends walked through the forest, living like muggles to avoid detection. It's during these days that Harry really understood the man that Dumbledore was. The old Headmaster always wore fancy dresses and had a thing for socks and Lemon Drops. Well, let's say that after two weeks of eating only what he could kill with throwing stones and berries he could pick, Harry was starting to dream about things that had a real taste, like Sherbet Lemon. And even though he had grown fond and accustomed to his Dragon Hide robes, their stern color was starting to get on his nerves. Let's not even get started on his cold feet full of blisters…
When they came into view of Voldemort's fortress, the Golden Trio was at his pick. They were all in top physical condition (thanks to a small darkish ritual) and at the top of their abilities. Ron, Gringotts newest trader, was able to draw attack plans in a couple minutes with minimum information, his transfiguration skills were starting to rival McGonagall's and could cast the Dark Arts like no one. Hermione's skills in Arithmancy, Charms and Transfiguration were unmatched, she had recently been offered a job from the Department of Mysteries. As of Harry, even though he didn't receive any job proposal (then again, the Boy-Who-Lived could have every work he wanted), his speed and fast reflexes were enhanced (another small ritual), his knowledge in Defense Against the Dark Arts was on part to every Auror, no Ward could resist him and he was champion of concealment.
Overconfident in his Wards, Voldemort had only left a handful of followers to protect his snake. Knowing that time was of the essence, the three Hogwarts students managed to skirt around the guards and kill Nagini. Before Harry and his friends could escape the place swarmed with Death Eater. The Dark Tosser himself was there, anxious at first, then in a fury upon seeing his Horcrux dead. Harry managed to activate their portkey escape (courtesy of Snape) but the victory had a bitter taste. Hermione was hit with an Organ Decaying Curse.
She died in their arms proclaiming her love to Ron.
They swore to avenge her… and did just that.
Thanks to Harry's pensieve, they managed to watch the fight again and again. Finally they discovered which curse had been used and especially by whom. The Death Eater was someone they knew all to well: a blonde wizard with grey eyes.
Blinded with rage, hatred and grief, the two friends went to Malfoy Manor and tore the Wards apart. They encountered Natcissia Malfoy, in all her glory and arrogance, who treated they like peasants. But it was war and both boys were to far gone in their grief to care anymore; for them everything was fair. Ron's knowledge of Dark Arts was put to good use and Harry discovered that Bellatrix Lestrange had been right: to perform the Cruciatus Curse you had to want to hurt and revel in your victim's screams.
Mrs. Malfoy talked. She told them everything she knew, from her son's location to the location of every single Death Eater she knew. What followed was a bloody massacre. One by one they tracked all the Death Eater they knew of and executed them. They killed thirteen men and women in three days. They didn't stop, not when they run out of time, nor when the Ministry put a bounty on their head (not by name but still, they had a description, too vague to identify but precise enough to be mobbed in some places). They all took a break for Hermione's memorial. It ended in being a long break.
It had been such a perfect morning. Spring was coming, flowers were blossoming. It was this time of the year when you are comfortable with the weather whatever you wear: never too hot or cold.
Ron and Harry had watched the sunrise, tears falling freely on their cheeks. Today was the memorial. The day they were supposed to say good-bye to their seven-year-long friendship with this amazing person; this little girl who bossed them into learning and later became their sister and lover. A powerful witch who would never have the chance to learn as much as she wanted, would never have children, would never grow old enough to have gray hair in her wild mane nor would ever see a world where those like her would be accepted instead of treated of 'mudbloods'.
Both boys had spent the night up, standing in front of their friend's trunk. A discussion with Mr. and Mrs. Granger had given them the right to take any item they wanted as some kind of memorabilia of who she was. They just didn't have it in their heart to look through it. Every single piece of parchment, quill, clothing, etc., everything that ever belonged to her brought back flow of tears they were unable to stop. The other Gryffindors had understood and had vacated the Common Room after dinner. Every single student of this great house had looked upon them. The Golden Trio, warrior, scholar and fighter; those who opposed You-Know-Who enough time to be on first name basis with both the Minister and the Death Eaters; those who thwarted the Dark Lord's plan since the age of eleven. The Golden Trio, broken. Resumed to two. Two lonely souls. Empty souls with no more but the hollow pain a loved one leaves when dying.
Whipping his face with his sleeve, Harry picked Hermione's hair brush and put it in the more secured compartment of his trunk, with his invisibility cloak, the Marauder Map and his photo album. The others were full to the brim with his possessions and all the Dark Artifacts stolen at Death Eaters places (more like places of execution) but this one was reserved for things close to his heart. With a broken voice he told Ron he was going to catch several hours of sleep and didn't want anything else from her trunk.
He didn't know what Ron wanted to keep and didn't want to know. His sorrow was slowly fading to leave cold burning rage that transformed itself in resolution: Voldemort was going down. Even if he had to slaughter every single pure-blood of the world, even if he had to die himself, Voldemort was going with him! At least when he'd have destroyed the sixth Horcrux… Little did he know by sunset it would be done, but for such a price…
Harry felt something strange during the ceremony. Some people were acting strangely, like if… like if they were restraining themselves. He knew none would try anything as every single Gryffindor would come down with everything they had on the disruptor, still something was strange. He couldn't point his finger on it, but there was this nagging in the back of his mind…
And then it hit him! This young Ravenclaw who went back to the castle! When he had inadvertently touched his hand: his scar had hurt him like Hell, like when… like when Voldemort… like when He touched him. Warning Ron of potential troubles he hid under his invisibility cloak and followed the Third Year (or was it Fourth? He couldn't remember). They went to the dungeons and used passageways that didn't even exist on his father's map. How could this young kid know these? The answer was soon answered as the kid started to suddenly grow, his hair disappearing, his skin becoming whiter, his eyes loosing there warm color to turn into the blood-red globes that adorned the Dark Lord's face. Voldemort was in Hogwarts! Right under their nose he strolled like he owned the place and it was the truth as they couldn't keep him outside.
Before Harry could so much as blink, Voldemort raised his hand and with a dagger slashed his palm, drawing blood on the wall. The stones dissolved to reveal an old wooden door that looked both physically rotten enough to fall with a single burst of wind and magically strong enough to resist a Troll attack. Voldemort confidently walked and pushed it open with one single command (Open in Parceltongue). Harry followed him, beads of sweat falling everywhere around him, his heart biting so hard in his chest it hurt. But he made a promise to Hermione and needed to know why Tom Riddle had come back to Hogwarts.
The answer was very simple. The Dark Lord started to unravel some concealment wards. With dark humor, Harry noticed how he would be faster to do so then gasped when Voldemort did a spell he had practiced so many times: a spell to determine if the object was a Horcrux. Unfortunately he wasn't quiet enough.
"Accio Invisibility Cloak." Voldemort spat with a quick jab of his wand. Harry's cape was torn out of his grip and ended in his nemesis hand.
"Harry Potter…" Voldemort hissed. "So nice of you to come to me. Found anything interesting?"
Harry felt dead. Terror, hate and instincts were screaming at him to react, but it was just so… so wrong to speak to the beast responsible for her death.
"Yes Tom I did." He replied with much more bravado than he felt. "I really did."
"You are incorrigible. I'll have to remedy to that soon. You shan't ever speak to me with such disrespect. But tell me first boy, what did you find?"
"One of your Horcruxes."
"Yes… My last one since you killed my dear Nagini. But what is it?" Voldemort asked, his eyes flashing from supreme hat and anger to taunting and nearly calm.
"Not really mister Potter. This is the focal stone of Hogwarts. Only one with the blood or the abilities of one of the Founders could get in. As there is no Hogwarts' Heir, it had to be with Parceltongue as these lines died out centuries ago. We are the last two to be able to get in. To this stone are tied every single ward of the castle. Its 'conscience' so to speak resides in this piece of rock. It's my last insurance to live for ever and it's probably going to be your resting place. Tell me, how did you find of my Horcruxes?
"Dumbledore" Harry spat with both reverence to the man he respected and hate directed toward his interlocutor.
"Ah, yes… He was always so clever. Good thing he is gone. You are the only other one to know of it with your two, sorry, your last friend." Voldemort taunted.
Harry's eyes flashed and he cast the first hex.
An Impeding Hex, a Bludgering Charm, a Stunner, a Drilling Curse and a Cutting Charm flowed fluently from his wand. Voldemort was already on action, producing a silver shield to block the last two while avoiding the other jets of magic. He didn't have time to attack as Harry had already conjured a steel spear impervious to Banishment, Heat and Cold.
The Dark Lord conjured a block of stone to block it and returned fire with a Dissolving Curse. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your side) he didn't thing of the hardness of the spear which when right through the wall and pined his left leg to the floor.
With a cry of pain and rage Voldemort launched a Rotting Curse at Harry, followed by a Killing Curse, an Exploding Curse and another Killing Curse. The young wizard moved fluidly, like dancing as he avoided the Curses; each one of them a certain death sentence if it was to touch him. But a Dark Lord knows how to rile up his enemy and Voldemort was no exception.
"So… Avada Kedavra…Did you like you friend's death Potter? Diffindo"
Harry faltered for a precious second. Just enough for Voldemort to hit him with his Cutting Curse on the hips. He couldn't dodge on the left anymore.
"Not so strong I guess…" Voldemort purred with delight. "Yet you managed to master Occlumency in barely a year. Impressive. I could tutor you Potter. You could be great you know. What do you-" but Harry and already launched a new spell Voldemort dissolved without much effort.
Both enemies stared at each other, blood falling freely from their wounds. In total synchronization they cast a Blood Clotting and Pain Numbing Charm. As once they screamed Avada Kedavra. Except Harry's was more out of desperation that anything. Voldemort, like always had a plan.
Two Killing Curses followed the first one before the Dark Lord even bothered to conjure a stone to block death's path. Harry dodged the first one but nearly fell on the floor when he used his left leg to support himself. He rolled under the second one but he was barely up that the third one raced toward him. Instinctively he jumped, his enhanced body throwing him six feet in the air. Doing a back flip he landed on his injured leg behind a wall of stone. He barely registered the pain that immediately invaded his brain as Voldemort yelled "NOOOOOOOO!" and the stone exploded in dust. A magical explosion propelled him against the wall and while he remained conscious, Harry Potter knew no more.
His father was polishing him with gentle swifts of his wand. His Dad made him fly while mom and mother guided him in the hole. They created his body and gave him magic. He looked at them. These children. His children. They were his to protect from the outside. Those inside were his.
HE didn't have the notion of good and bad, Light or Dark. They weren't good or bad. They were his children or not. For a time he protected them, guided them, modified things for them. Then his Dad fought against his father. His mom tried to stop it but his mother stopped her. His Dad left first, never to come back. His mother died soon after. His father and his mom tried to keep in going but they died too and he was left alone.
He protected his kids, sometimes he listened to the Headmasters but it was rare. He had no notion of time, just happiness of a job well done. He kept doing it then one of his Dad's descendants came and used his Dad's gift. He left it happen for he acted a lot like his Dad. Finally he left too. Then one day he came back to his sanctuary. He did magic on him. Things he didn't like. Things not right.
And he came. The one like him. He too had been hurt with the dirty magic. He helped him a bit when he could; until this day when both his brothers came in his sanctuary. The one hurt like him and the one like his dad. They battled. Both loved him. Then he hurt him. He tried to kill both of them. And nearly succeeded in killing him. But he fled, looked for comfort from him. He accepted him.
Harry woke up in the Hospital Wing. The smell, the color, everything was like before, except something was missing…
Where was Ron? He sat up, put his glasses on and looked right and left. Every single bed and more was occupied. Young students, parents, Old students, Wizards, Muggles. All of them in a bed some with scars, other missing limbs. Some kids were crying in a corner, looking at their father whose legs had been amputated. A young woman was howling on the body of her dead son. A student was trying to accomplish magic with his left hand as his right arm wasn't there anymore.
Everywhere Harry looked, there were wounded and dead. Moans of pain and suffering were filling the Wing. Madam Pomfrey was running everywhere casting spells left and right, giving potions and consoling the mourning ones.
With tears in his eyes Harry looked around and found Molly Weasley at his bed, watching him with sad red eyes.
"Ron?" he croaked.
It sent Molly in a fresh burst of tears. She thrown herself to Harry's neck and kept in weeping. Harry didn't need to know more. A cold feeling appeared in his gusts and traveled to his stomach. The taste of bitterness and blood made its way to his mouth.
"He's… He's gone, Harry. He was so brave… He fought 'till the end like a true Weasley. Like a man, like…" Sobs filled Mrs. Weasley's voice. "He was just a baby! My baby. Why did they take him away?"
As once she pulled herself up, grabbed Harry by the shoulder and looked at him square in the eyes.
"Promise me you'll kill Him Harry. Promise me." She asked in a whisper.
Staring in Molly Weasley's tears strained eyes, seeing her pain and suffering and feeling his own anguish, Harry murmured "It's has to end." And cried. For hours, he sobbed for his bookworm sister, for his red-haired brother, for the parents he never had.
But Harry couldn't deal without his friends in this dead Hogwarts. For Hogzarts was dead. No more moving stairs, no more checking the weather on the Great Hall. No more magic. Curse breakers and Charms experts were casting Wards days and night to protect the school until its definitive closure at the end of the year. Not knowing what to do, Harry fled.
He fled to the muggle world where he proceeded to forget. He was found a week later by Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody. At this time, Harry was in a very select club where he was spending money like there was no tomorrow. His blood stream was full of alcohol and drugs, girls were lined to make out and sleep with James Evan, the rich kid who spend so much; and he used it...
After much screams, threats and promises, the old Auror managed to get the Boy-Who-Lived were he belonged: the wizarding world. Strangely enough, nobody repraoched him his 'escape', least of all Mad-Eye. The old warrior even estabkished some kind of friendship with the 'Chosen One'.
"There is something I don't get" Harry said softly
"And what would that be lad?"
"Well, people tend to look at me with pity. I can see in their eyes, they're wondering if I'm going to break down every second or if I'll leave again. You don't, why?"
Moody stayed silent for a long time. Just when Harry believed he wasn't ever going to get an answer, the oold Auror spoke
"There aren't many left. The fightters of the First War nearly all died, but Minerva and I; and the Longbottoms, but they aren't... there anymore, so they're as good as dead. When He was at the high of his rise of terror, people died left and right. You went to the store to get sugar and when you came back, there was no one left to great you, but the Dark Mark above your house. It was really dark times. Not as much because you were scared but because with everything you did, the others kept in dying."
"I'm not a quitter but there is a time when it gets too much for some people. I broke once. Took them a fortnigh to find me back. I was totally wasted in some brothel in Mexico. Opium was everywhere in my room and hoes where coming in and out all the time. So you see, I know exactly why you left, why you did what you did, and above all I also know how liberating it can be. But life has to be faced. That's why I know you won't run away nor break down. Because you hae tried to forget through every mean you could think of and it didn't work. Thus you are going to grieve for them and dedicate yourself to the fight, right?"
Amazed at the old man's insight, Harry nodded with a small smile. It was the beguinning of a friendship between two similar yet so different persons.
So Harry went back to Hogwarts where the last month of school was subdued.
Every times Harry saw red hair or someone with a wild tame, he broke down and cried. Slytherins tried to exploit it but after Harry sent nine of them on one go to the hospital Wing they relented (probably due to the three weeks long stay of every single of the 'Potter's victims').
Like for Hermione, Harry had kept one item from Ron. His diary. He didn't even know Ron had one. Of course he didn't dare read him but he was glad to have something so close to his friend's heart.
The day of the graduation came. He had barely passed any N.E.W.T. and even though he had five, he couldn't stop thinking about the twelve Os Hermione would have had had. He absently accepted his Gryffindor ring, charmed to be only seen by former Gryffindors and attuned to each person's blood.
His life was dull. There was no more interest in it anymore. He was waiting for the next sighting of Voldemort. He had to end it. He waited in anguish, brooding around, reading some dueling and quidditch books. Hoping and dreading at the same time the call.
Then it came. Voldemort was taking the Ministry of Magic. Half the workers were under the Imperius Curse and the other was fighting against their friends, parents and superiors.
Harry portkeyed there and met Tom Riddle in the place he hated the most: the room of the Veil in the Department of Mysteries.
His rage clouded his minded and in a minute he was beaten, nerves on fire thanks to a couple of Cruciatus, his face burned by an Incendio. Still he was defiant, staring straight into the monster's eyes. Voldemort slowly raised his wand; seeing Harry kept his on the side he didn't hesitate and said harshly "Avada Kedavra". The green light burst toward Harry but didn't go very far. A black mass blocked the spell.
Peter 'Wormtail' Pettigrew had repaid his life debt to Harry Potter.
"Wormtail, you fool" Voldemort sneered. "Never mind that. Avada Kedavra"
As he was paralyzed by fear and watched Voldemort's Avada Kedavra race the distance between them, Harry finished reliving his seventeenth year.
Like hypnotized by the green light, he raised his left hand like to touch it. When it connected with his palm, every single wizard around knew it had gone wrong… Again!
Harry howled in pain as a lightning bolt wound carved itself in his palm. Blood started to fall freely from his hand and a golden bolt of magic replaced the green light, striking Voldemort in the heart.
In the fraction of second it took Harry to assimilate what he saw, the Dark Lord's body exploded in a shower of flesh and blood, releasing the magical reserve of the dark sorcerer. Harry felt his feet leave the ground and being pushed backward. All of a sudden his hand made painfully contact with a rock and a flash of silver appeared in the corner of his eyes.
Harry Potter had accomplished his destiny but didn't care; for he had just passed through what wizards call 'the Veil of Death'.
Goblins call it 'the Ancestors Door'.
The vampires refer to it as 'the Forbidden Paradise Door'.
All these names were wrong. For the creator of the arch named it the 'Door to Avalon'.