Disclaimer : I do not own anything of the wonderful world of Harry Potter. All of it belongs to J.K.Rowling.
Harry Potter and the Final Journey
Severus Snape apparated directly outside the old rumbling house near the graveyard in Little Hangleton. Draco Malfoy was already there trembling slightly with fear and trying very hard to conceal it. He was not for the first time cursing his fate and had already come to the conclusion that being a death eater was highly overrated. He was forlornly thinking of all the things he had not done in his life.
He had no one to help; the only person who would have was as good as killed by of him. Albus Dumbledore was gone. He started shivering more. He had not finished the work entrusted to him by the Dark Lord. He did not save himself and he did not manage to save his parent's life, as his mother would surely be killed. He felt tears slowly coming down his cheeks.
While Malfoy was silently crying thinking about his fate, he was joined by Snape who had just apparated in front of him. Snape looked at him his face unreadable and said "come Draco, we cannot keep him waiting." Draco looked at him his eyes full of anger and fear and said bitterly "You had to come just then hadn't you. I was trying to buy my way out of this mess" he realized what he was saying and clamped his hand on his mouth and looked at Snape trembling in anxiety and a horde of other frightening emotions.
Snape looked at him inscrutably for a moment and then with a touch of impatience said "This is not the place to talk about all this. Surely you would know that. Come with me now and at least place a little of the trust your mother placed in me by asking me to make an unbreakable vow with her for your safety. Come Draco the more we delay the angrier he will become." Snape then took hold of the terror filled boy's hand and led him inside the Old Riddle Manor.
The old building looked like it was caving into itself from the outside. On the inside however, it was totally different. The Manor as it had existed before was no longer there.
The whole place was divided into huge caverns, which was warded heavily and looked eerily terrifying as it was meant to be. In the center of the Manor was a huge room, which was circular in shape and at the far end from the entrance was placed a throne like chair on which sat the Wizarding worlds most feared and hated figure. Lord Voldemort.
"Well, well, well Severus, Draco," said Voldemort, his lipless mouth twisted in a smile. "So the old fool finally received what he deserved in the first place, hmmm, but Draco," very softly and menacingly, "What is this I hear about Severus casting the spell which killed Dumbledore?" the smile still there but his red eyes were gleaming rather nastily.
Malfoy gulped and fell down on his knees and started blabbering, "Master, I would have killed the Headmaster; Master I was just, just…. I was going to really…"
"Draco, this was your test, you know and I cannot help but feel disappointed. However since you did let the others inside Hogwarts, I will not kill you right now. But I must punish you not only for your cowardice but also for your father's rather poor efforts at teaching you. Crucio". The pain tore through him for what looked like forever before Voldemort took off the curse.
Malfoy was lying on the ground; trying to come to terms with so much pain and for the first time he felt a sympathy for the dozens of people who had fallen victim to Voldemort's Crucios.
Lord Voldemort then called a Death Eater and told him to bring a woman inside. "Now Draco, let me see whether you pass this test. If you do then I may be able to accept that you do have the making of a decent Death Eater. Narcissa come here. Let us start with a Crucio. Come on Draco."
Draco started shaking violently. He knew however, unless he compiled with Voldemort's wishes both his mother and himself would be killed and in a horrible manner too. He raised his arm and whispered the most, well the second most horrible curse next only to the Avada Kedavra. "Crucio…" His mother gave a shriek that rent the skies and crumbled to the ground, as pain ripped through her.
After a minute, Voldemort said, "Enough, for now" with a smile on his face, which was enough to start shivering. "Do you understand Draco; this is only the beginning of what could happen if you cross me." "Yes Master, please forgive me. I will make sure that I will never make a mistake ever again", Draco was now sweating with the effort of speaking to Voldemort, as he did not know what would happen next.
Voldemort looked down at Draco, "You are being spared only because of the fact you did help even if it was very little. Now go. Severus you must train him, as it would befit me. Draco you may leave with Severus and come back as better than you are now. I hope you follow."
Draco was very much relieved, but before he could say something Narcissa Malfoy spoke up, "My Lord, you are indeed being very merciful. Draco will never fail you as indeed our entire family would always consider it a privilege to serve you, My Lord."
Narcissa and Malfoy then left the Riddle Mansion to return to Malfoy Manor. They knew they had been let off easily only because the Dark Lord was in a good mood, because of the death of Albus Dumbledore.
Otherwise, Narcissa shuddered as she thought of just what could have happened. She was glad her son had escaped, though it was only for the moment. She frowned. She had a lot to think about. The first thing she had to do was to speak to Severus. Yes. It was convenient that the Dark Lord had also said the same. Then she had to make a few no a lot of quick and important decisions….
She would have to consult Severus about them as well. As she thought of Snape she bit her lip with guilt. He had killed Dumbledore only because of her, she knew. Merlin, what could she have done though. Draco, her only son was a bit arrogant and foolhardy, but that was to be expected was it not? After all… Well no use thinking about the past really. She had to think and plan for the future.
Meanwhile, at Riddle Manor there was great jubilation at the death of Dumbledore. Voldemort was looking at everyone with great satisfaction. Albus Dumbledore the greatest wizard who was responsible for thwarting him at every turn was no more. Harry Potter the wizard, no boy who was such a thorn in his side would now be tackled easily.
It was Dumbledore after all who protected Potter at every turn. Not any more. Once Potter would be taken care of then the wizarding world was his to rule. In fact it was almost his now. He could almost feel it. He looked around and called everyone to order. Immediately, there was pin drop silence and everyone stood around Voldemort looking expectantly and with great fear, at him.
"Severus, you have done well. Now only Potter has to be tackled." Voldemort looked around, smiled and said, "Who wants to be the one to bring Potter to me?"
There was great noise all around as everyone present shouted to be the one to bring Harry Potter to Voldemort. Voldemort was silent for a minute and said, "Severus, I entrust this to you as you have proved your worth with the last task. Do not fail me. If you could somehow infiltrate the Order once again and worm into their inner ranks, it would be so good. We could destroy them from both inside and out. Maybe an altered version of the Polyjuice, hmm?"
"Master I am honored and I would rather die than fail you. But Master it would take a while, as I now do not have the means of the Order. I will find and hunt him out and bring him to you if it is the last thing I do, My Lord."
"Make sure you do Severus otherwise it will be the last thing you do. While you searching for Potter you may also look out for the idiot boy Draco and train him in our ways."
"Master," Bellatrix Lestrange who was silent all this while spoke up, "May I take over Draco's education," Voldemort's, "Silence," cut her off abruptly, "You forget your place Bella." Bellatrix immediately cowered and said, "I am sorry My Lord. I will not speak out of turn." "See that you do not. All of you may go now."
Severus walked out swiftly and apparated to Mafoy Manor. He reached the outer wards and began walking towards the house that looked more like a castle. He reached the main door and knocked the huge brass knocker, which was shaped like a snake. Only moments later a house elf came to open the door. "Master Severus, Madame Malfoy is in the Library. You please comes inside," it squeaked.
Snape went inside the Manor and walked straight to the Library. Narcissa Malfoy was sitting in one of the many comfortable chairs looking extremely worried and chewing her bottom lips with her eyes in a state of total panic. Malfoy was also sitting with his posture showing absolute fear.
He jumped as the door opened and was flabbergasted to see Snape there and the enormity of what he had done earlier at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry hit him at that point. . His life was almost, no completely over. That was it. Over. If this was what fighting for the Dark Lord was …. He was finished.
While Malfoy was stewing in his rather tormenting thoughts Snape had entered the extensive Malfoy Library and had greeted Narcissa. "Narcissa, I hope you are fine and recovered from the Cruciatus curse."
"I am all right Severus. Come, I have much to discuss with you." Before she could say another word Malfoy interrupted them, "mother, do you trust him?"
"With my life Draco," said Narcissa, "he killed Dumbledore for the vow he gave me to protect you Draco. Do not be ungrateful dear,"
Then Draco surprising his mother and himself, blurted, "Out. I want out. Severus, please I am willing to do anything but I want out. Please," he whispered softly, "I am willing to even work with Potter, for Potter, anything. But not this, this is total madness. This is insane. How did Father get into this? He is surely going to be killed as will all of us. Please save us Severus. Take us away from that madman. Please."
"Stop repeating yourself Draco. That will not help. You wish to leave the dark lord's service. It will not be easy Draco. I cannot take you anywhere. The way things are shaping up; you have to fight for or against the Dark Lord unless you want to spend the rest of your life in hiding."
Draco was silent for a minute. Then fiercely he said, "I want to fight and fight against Vol, Vol, Voldemort. Tell me what to do. Even if I die I want to do something to repair all that I have done, especially helping them to kill him. I was so wrong about everything, was so wrong." He finished in a whisper, his eyes wide and shining with tears.
All three of them stayed up long into the night plotting and planning. Draco wanted to openly oppose Voldemort as he felt that would be the only way to redemption for all he and his parents had done. After a lot of argument it was decided to do it that way as it would save both Draco and his parents from the wrath of the public and avoid punishments and time in Azkaban. Plans were also made to retrieve Lucius from prison and then start on the plan to join them with Potter and the Order.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter the boy who was now called the Chosen One by the people was sitting down in the Griffindor dormitory along with his close friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. He was feeling very angry though he did not show it out.
Why did Dumbledore trust him? How could he, he thought, did not Snape show with his attitude, time and again he was a Death Eater? How could the all-knowing headmaster not see through the bloody death eater, baffled him. An ugly look passed his face as he thought of his next meeting with Snape. He would pay. Harry would make him pay.
As he was thinking rather uncomplimentary thoughts he was rudely interrupted by one of his best friends, Hermione Granger, "Harry", she exclaimed, "what are you thinking, you looked different", " Snape", Harry said, just one word but it was enough and Hermione fell silent.
After a short period of silence she said rather tentatively, "Harry I know that you are very angry", as Harry abruptly interrupted her to say something she hurriedly continued, "wait, Harry let me explain, while Professor Dumbledore was not perfect, he was not a fool. He would have hardly trusted Snape to be around all of us especially at Hogwarts if he did not have good reason to",
"So you are saying that he had a good reason to kill Dumbledore and he was justified. I was there Hermione it, it was awful". "I am not saying that Harry", she tailed off not knowing what else to say. They all went up to their respective dormitories to try and get some sleep that was impossible to come.
The funeral took place afterward and there, Harry broke off his short and lovely relationship with Ginny Weasley. They were all scheduled to leave the next day on the Hogwarts express and Harry was not sure when he would see Hogwarts again. So he was rather morose and silent as they packed their things.
Harry and the others came down the next day and after breakfast and were getting ready to go to Hogsmeade to take the Hogwarts Express to London from where Harry was planning to go to the Dursleys for a week, after which he would go, well he did not know where probably to the Burrow, his heart plummeted as he thought of Grimmauld Place.
He did not think that he could face going to Grimmauld Place even now though it was more than a year after Sirius. But he might not have a choice after all, as it was one of the safest places to be.
Ron interrupted his melancholy thoughts, "Harry, when shall we come to the Durselys? Tonight, after I go to the Burrow and Hermione to her place? We could take the Knight's Bus, you know, as only she can apparate for now. I will be taking the test soon though."
"And I hope you will not abuse it like Fred and George." Frowned Hermione, turning to Harry, "Harry, shall we come in time for dinner, that way we can bring you something to eat."
Harry turned uncomfortably in his seat and looked at her, "Are you two sure, you know it will be dangerous not to say life threatening," he was abruptly cut off by both of them saying at the same time, "Harry how many times do I have to say that it is our choice and not a compulsion of any sort," "Mate we are with you and we are fighting for ourselves as well, you know," Harry was overwhelmed, "thanks," he said his emotions choking him and there was a silence for some time.
Then Hermione said hesitantly, "Harry, after we leave the Dursleys we need a place more of a base to stay and do our research, I thought perhaps we could use Grimmauld Place, after reapplying the Fidelus, of course. What do you say?"
Harry looked pensive, "I was in fact thinking of the same thing actually. We could go there after this week and I could ask someone from the Order to recast the Fidelus Charm for us. But I need you two to do something and don't say anything for a moment, Hermione. I want you both to go to your homes for at least this week and spend it with your people. I will be all right here; the Dursleys will not dare to do anything. We never know what will happen later on," he trailed off.
There was a moment of tense silence and then Hermione said in a subdued tone, "You are right, Harry. We should do as you say and it is not as if we can do anything at the Dursleys for now. We will meet at Bill's wedding at the Burrow and take it from there." Ron nodded and the rest of the journey was spent in silence, till they had to get down at Kings Cross.
When they reached Kings Cross, Harry met Mrs.weasley who had come to take all of them to the Burrow. She hugged Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny, who Harry saw for the first time since he had got into the train.
She turned to smile sadly at him and went to stand with her mother. "Come along all of you, Hermione your parents have come for you dear, but you will come in a few days for the wedding won't you, along with your parents, of course." "Yes Mrs.Weasley we will come," she said and her parents smilingly affirmed as well.
Mrs.Weasley then turned to Harry and said, "When will you be coming, Harry? When can you leave them?" "I will come in about a week's time Mrs.Weasley. Professor Dumbledore wanted me to stay there for a week, at least." He finished awkwardly.
Mrs.Weasley's eyes slightly shone with tears and she nodded silently and then said, "But you must come in time for the wedding, Harry. I will not allow you to miss that." Harry smiled and nodded and they all parted quietly looking at each other.
Harry went to where his uncle was standing impatiently, "come along boy, I have been waiting for quite sometime." Harry followed silently to the car and got in at the back after putting his luggage in the back. His uncle started the car and Harry went with his uncle for the very last time to No.4, Privet Drive. As he sat in the car and watched the scenery go by, his thoughts also ran along.
It had been a bad year, probably the worst, starting from the time at the Department of Mysteries where because of his foolishness and foolhardiness he had lost Sirius. Then the whole of last year had been filled with Death eater activity, which had cost a lot of lives. Then a man, he had trusted so much had killed Dumbledore, who was one wizard Voldemort had feared. Harry gritted his teeth at this, thinking of Snape.
Now he had to find the horcruxes, four of them, then go after Voldemort, and kill him in order to save the wizarding world and in order to live. He fingered the false locket in his pocket. Dumbledore had lost his life drinking from the basin for a horcrux, which was not.
As he was thinking they had reached Privet Drive and his uncle who was gnashing his teeth and telling him to go inside before the neighbours could see his owl. Harry lugged his trunk and his cage inside, went upstairs to the smallest bedroom, and placed his trunk on the floor before throwing himself on the bed.
In the night Harry had a small dinner and tried to escape upstairs when he was stopped by his aunt saying, "You will be leaving in a week won't you." He just nodded his head and went back to his room. He just lay on his bed and started thinking all over again when there was a flash.
End of Chapter - I