Summary: A four year war with no end in sight, Albus Dumbledore decides to banish Voldemort forever with ancient magic, only to trap The Dark Lord and Harry Potter in a place where they must live together until they're rescued - if they're ever rescued - without magic. (Was started before HBP or OotP, so it's pretty much AU, even if it's in the future)
HP-LV also HP-DM RL-NM AU, Fluffy and OOC'ness (overly gorgeous HP,LV,DM), Violence, Kink, Bondage, and surprisingly not very dark!
The Space Between
The wizarding war was at its height. Both Light and Dark had claimed their victories over the other too many times to keep track of. Their losses from both were staggering. They waged battles on every hilltop and in every building. The fought throughout every village they intercepted one another in. Nothing was being gained from either, except destruction.
Albus Dumbledore knew he must act soon and stop them both before they literally wiped out the whole wizarding world.
Fear was no longer an issue. That had long since been ripped away from everyone. Especially twenty-year-old Harry Potter; The-Boy-Who-Lived, Auror for The Ministry of Magic, and Dumbledore's second in command.
His life was an unusual one. Truthfully, he lacked much of a life whatsoever. Since the day he turned seventeen when the war began, his life ceased to be. Hard as nails and cold as ice, the once fragile and innocent boy grew into a powerful, deadly killer of evil. He wanted to change that; the lifeless part, anyway. Searching, he and several others claimed a small piece of paradise they named 'The Holy Ground'.
Wiping blood on his trousers that stained his hands, he sneered. Malfoys always did bleed too much. Their regal pureblood tainted his hand, repulsing him to think of it on his skin. Watching Draco Malfoy carried off while nursing his arm brought an impish smile to his lips. He always loved a good fight, and he always beat Malfoy.
"Get well soon, love!" he shouted out, and laughed as Draco hissed back insults to him while countless Death Eaters coddled him and carried him off.
There was a sort of 'honour' between the sides in The Holy Ground. It was a rarity to be ambushed alone in the neutral place. He could walk around freely surrounded by Death Eaters and not be touched. This was a rule they made. The war itself had destroyed most of their freedom. This was all that they had to look forward to.
This neutral zone just happened to be a small wizarding village that used to be called Hogsmeade. It sat at the boundaries of Hogwarts, a wizarding school Harry had once attended. It was deserted nearly three years before, being half destroyed from a long battle. None of the shops were open. Sadly, all had been looted by both sides. It was a now a place to relax and kick back and let the hells of war drift away… even if for only for a day or so.
Albus Dumbledore did not like anyone visiting there. He loathed the idea that one of his own might be thwarted - sleeping off a night in the pub - surrounded by who knows what. Albus wasn't allowed there anyway. Neither him, nor Voldemort, could step foot on that ground. But Harry never listened to Albus. He felt compelled to be there. It was better training than anything else he had come up against. It gave him access to Draco, who was currently Lord Voldemort's second in command and far too cowardly to ever fight in any real battle.
They would duel each other every time he'd visit, all day long. Spar with wands, swords, or fists. And he normally slept with Draco all night long. It was something they both looked forward to after a long day of warfare.
At first, the excursions followed duels of who could drink more Firewhiskey. He had decided to hold off on drinking after the last encounter with the vile fluid. He woke up lying underneath Lucius Malfoy, Draco's nauseatingly obnoxious father. How that happened, he certainly couldn't remember and hoped it stayed that way. He never could look Lucius in the eye after that, especially when the older man would flicker his tongue at him on the battlefield as they drew wands. Fearing that if he drank too much he'd wake up under Voldemort, he weaned himself off the hard stuff.
"Go kill his fucking arse! I demand it!" hissed Draco, slapping out at the fretful Death Eater healing his wounds.
"Yes, sir," he replied, drawing his wand.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Sit down, lap boy," he growled. "I didn't mean it literally. You never touch Potter - Do you understand that? Never. Touch. Potter."
This was a general rule, written on page three of the official Death Eaters handbook.
Never touch Potter.
Harry was Voldemort's prize. The Dark Lord had claimed him long ago. At first, all he wanted to do was kill him. Him... Not Lucius, not Draco, not some nameless peon. He couldn't give a witches tit if Draco shagged him into the mattress night after night as long as he didn't kill him.
He hated to admit it, but he claimed him now for other, more selfish reasons. Harry had grown up well. He was, admittedly, very beautiful. He was an elegant little minx in his adulthood; looking extremely boyish in every fashion and lustfully touchable in every way. Those luminous green eyes, that unruly black hair, the tight little arse… It drove him mad with desire. Oh, the dark fantasies that formed in his head whenever he sauntered into his dungeon, running long, spidery fingers over sets of manacles.
He reminded him so much of someone... Oh yes, himself. They looked very similar at a distance. At the ripe old age of... seventy-something, he looked no older than thirty-five. Nicolas Flamel may have destroyed the Philosophers stone, but he had forgotten about his book of notes he left hidden in his fortress when he died. Now, in the hands of Voldemort, he was not only immortal--he was absolutely, bloody-fucking gorgeous.
He was larger than Harry, and better groomed, to say the least. His jet-black hair lay flat and tidy, his dark eyes could charm the nastiest of souls, and chiseled features shot his greek-god status into overdrive.
"Get out. I don't want to see you tonight," said Harry. He rolled over to the side of his bed to make room for Draco. "I haven't forgiven you for ambushing me yet."
Curling up next to him, Draco pulled the woollen covers over his chest. "But you will..."
"I'm too tired for sex right now. I'd just fall asleep in the middle of it."
"Always reassuring to see your humour is still as lifeless as your libido." He had elfish features, with a pallid face and matching hair, set with dazzling grey eyes that stared down at the black haired man -Practically perfect in every way- Besides his roguish personality, he alone could almost bend and mould Potter into anything he wanted; at least he tried. It was the only place in the world where he could win against The Boy Who Lived, and he worked harder at that than any job Voldemort ever assigned him.
They certainly had no love for one another. They would never admit to that. In fact, they boasted to their friends and fellow troops about how much they hated one another. Boasted so much, that it sort of seemed to backfire, and everyone whispered about the true love they carried for the other.
'Ridiculous.' Harry would say, 'Love Malfoy? Malfoys aren't even human. They're some sort of genetic veela-breed that makes you think you want them, but you don't, really.'
'Ludicrous!' Draco would shout, 'Potter has no soul. He's just a soldier created by Dumbledore to serve his needs. Who could possibly fall in love with someone so cold and reckless?'
Besides, admitting he may have any sort of feelings for Potter other than hate might just lose him his job. Voldemort warned him about that. Potter was his now. He had big plans for him, and he would make those plans a reality soon enough. No other word was given about it, as Voldemort had doubts about his loyalty in everyone; especially Draco's... when it came to Potter.
As it was, Draco had another reason to deny the feelings; he was married. Yes, the arranged marriage to Pansy Parkinson became a reality on his 19th birthday, or as he calls it; the day he died.
War does seem to make one do things they might not normally do, as in the case of Harry's 40ish year old protector and friend, Remus Lupin. He and a few others in the Order of the Phoenix began frequenting The Holy Ground on a regular basis. At first it was to watch over Harry on Dumbledore's orders. Soon after, he returned regularly; to play poker, and begin his illicit affair with Narcissa Malfoy.
It was like stealing candy from a baby. So easy, but the thrill of being caught in the act was nearly as fulfilling as the ghastly deed itself. They both prided themselves on their aloofness outside of the bedroom. They pretended to hate the other as they crossed paths. Who would suspect those two? They were practically the same empty shells of hate. No one deduced a thing! It was all too easy...
"Saw the werewolf here last night - Stop that!" said Draco, wiggling his head in between Harry's legs. They refused to relent, and he found quickly that strong thigh muscles made effective chokeholds.
Harry applied more pressure before shoving Draco's head back through. "I know. Saw him when I got here. He still shags your dad?"
"It's my mother. My father has much better taste." he chided, scanning the room for any sort of item that might help him pry Harry's thighs apart.
Harry grimaced. "Well I've heard he's shagged Voldemort. Please tell me that's not considered 'better taste'."
"Why do you wear these to bed?" Draco's fingers ran across the waistband of Harry's shorts, pinching them to yank them away from his skin. Letting them snap back roughly, he smirked. "You're always making things difficult for me."
Harry rubbed his stinging belly with his fingertips, sending sparks of electricity through Draco's groin. "I wear them to keep you from raping me in the middle of the night. And don't deny it; I've woken up too many times with your tongue up my arse."
"Speaking of taste, you'll have to tell me how lovely the old man tastes once he's captured you. He said he has big plans for your tongue." He wagged his eyebrows at Harry, smirking down at him with a wicked grin.
"If you thought you had any shot in getting me to shag you, you just destroyed that. I'll never be able to get it up now," he sighed, scrunching up his nose in revulsion. "Maybe we could watch that muggle tape recording of Remus and your mum going at it again. That might help me." He grinned with that trademark, child-like innocence at the blond, falling into a fit of giggles as he watched Draco's face begin to flush.
"Fuck you, Harry. I had all of those destroyed... I think. Nearly forty copies. Wasn't easy getting into the vaults of all the Death Eaters to get them either. Took me a whole month."
Yes, the affair wasn't as secretive as they might have thought, but Remus and Narcissa were oblivious and no one let them in on the joke. Especially Harry and Draco, who used it against one another any time they ran low on insults.
"Oh, that's a shame. I wanted to try that thing Remus did. You know, when he bent your mum over the desk and bayed up at the moon. And that thing she was saying… what was it again-"
Draco refused to let him finish. He grabbed his jaw with both hands, yanked him up, and kissed him roughly.
Harry jerked his head back and rubbed his jaw with his fingers. "You need a shave. I'm not kissing you like that."
Draco snorted. "At least one of us here is man enough to grow facial hair. But don't give up hope... someday you'll be a man, too. Then I can teach you how to shave like a big boy."
"I shave," hissed Harry. He rubbed his chin, feeling it baby smooth. "My whiskers are... sparse, that's all."
"Sparse? They're pubescent. My grandmother has more than that," Draco smirked. He crawled over onto Harry's lap and captured his wrists, shoving them behind his back. "Now, where was I?"
"You've gone sodding mad. Let go of me. Don't you have a wife waiting at home for you?" There. He'd gone and said it.
Draco felt himself deflate.
"Touché." He dropped Harry's arms and sat back on the bed, attempting to remove the bad taste that had suddenly formed in his mouth. "Remind me to kick your arse for that when we wake up." He lay down again and pulled the scratchy blanket up to his shoulders and rolled away from Harry.
Harry fell back into the mattress and smiled to himself as his eyelids fluttered closed. "I'd like to see that happen," he whispered. "Night, Draco."
Approximately ten seconds later...
A knock at the door rang out, startling both young men into panic. No one ever knocked on the door to their private room. "Who the bloody hell..." said Draco, scrambling out of the bed.
Harry leapt up, gripping his wand and glasses that lay on the bedside table. Putting his glasses on, he pointed the wand out towards the door. "Open it." he instructed.
Throwing the door wide open, Draco jumped back to give Harry an open shot of whoever had ignorantly decided to disturb them. Seeing the face of the intruder, Harry groaned and dropped his hand. Draco rolled his eyes and walked back towards the bed. "Oh, it's you, Lupin. We were just talking about you."
"Oh, what about?" said Remus, looking between them.
Needing to change the subject, Harry threw up a smile. "Never mind that, boring stuff. What's the matter?" he asked.
Remus clapped his hands together and rubbed them briskly, then clasped his fingers and popped all of his knuckles. He had an awful habit of doing that when he was nervous, and it was the second time he'd done it in less than 30 seconds.
"It's Voldemort. He's at the wards and he's calling you out." he replied sullenly. Both men turned to face Draco, who looked back with wide eyes.
"You did this on purpose, you fuck! I could have had an hour's sleep." scolded Harry, grabbing up his clothing from the floor. Remus glared daggers at the blond for a moment - then blushed and walked out of the room. He just looked too much like his mother.
"I swear... I didn't know." Draco replied defensively. He should have known, but he honestly didn't. Why didn't he know old Voldemort was going to attack? Big plan... forming soon... 'You don't need to know this, Draco.' The words from his master rang in his ears.
Heaving in a deep breath, he looked over to Harry with a fearful expression creasing his forehead. He reached down into his cloak pocket hanging on the desk chair and pulled out his wand. He ran up behind him, taking advantage of his 'one leg nearly in his trousers, the other half-way in' status, and wrapped his arm around his neck. He was larger than Harry, so his leverage was greater. Throwing himself back onto the mattress, Harry fell on top of him.
Grabbing his wrists, he held them in one hand, pressing the wand tip against Harry's throat with the other.
"Don't go," he whispered into the black hair fanning over his face.
Harry tugged lightly at his wrists, but the grip around them increased in pressure. "Draco, this isn't a joke." he stated. When you were called out, no one should stop you. Not even flighty blondes.
"He'll go away," He wrapped his legs around Harry's waist, anchoring him down.
Licking his lips nervously, Harry tried to relax a bit. "Mind telling me why I shouldn't go wipe the floor with him?"
Draco shook his head, flailing his silvery locks of hair out over the mattress. "I don't know why. Just have a bad feeling."
Harry sighed heavily. "He's calling me out for Merlin's sake," He would have been angry, but he could sense a chilling fear in his friend. This was something new, as the Second-in-Command normally masked his emotions effectively. "Are you hiding something from me?" he asked faintly, leaning his head back over Draco's shoulder so their cheeks grazed against the other.
Drawing back the wand, he tossed it on the floor and pressed Harry's face closer to his. "No. He wouldn't tell me about this."
Remus knocked at the door again and began shouting for Harry to get a move on.
Draco whimpered lightly and captured his mouth with his own. His hands slipped off their hold very slowly as they kissed. A single tear slid away, disappearing into the hair on his temple when Harry stood up.
Buckling his trousers, Harry smiled down at the blond. "Don't worry. You're acting like your mum right now. You remember that part on the recording, where she began to cry-"
"Shut up, Harry," snapped Draco, wiping his eyes on his sheet. "I'd better go see what's happening out there. I'll lick your wounds later. Don't get too messy." he said, arching a seductive eyebrow at the hero, hoping he was masking his worry better.
Harry chuckled and threw his cloak over his shoulders, fastening the clasp in front. "Oh, that's good of you, but I'm afraid you'll be too busy licking your master's wounds when I'm through with him. That is, whatever's left of him. Hell, you may very well become the new Dark Lord tonight," he teased. He straightened himself and smiled, but Draco knitted his brow in sadness. He knew Harry didn't love him the way he loved the arrogant prick. It burned at his very essence every night and day. If anything were to happen to Harry… it would destroy him.
Lord Voldemort stood tall at the base of the wards leading to The Holy Ground. Kicking dirt up into the magic streams, he snorted to himself with a humourless grin. Lucius stood at his side, wand drawn, pointed down at the nameless muggle who lay at their feet. His wretched, toothy smile gave no comfort to the young man who lay bleeding from nearly every hole in his body.
"He's coming!" shouted Peter Pettigrew; a worthless, spineless, useless Death Eater. Wormtail was used to running, shouting to his master, hiding behind the larger man's robes. It was something he did every time they graced a battlefield. "He'll be here momentarily, Master. He's coming out with Lupin. They're alone."
"Excellent. We need a witness from the Order," said Voldemort. "What about Draco? I need him to witness this too. It's just as important as having Lupin here."
"I saw Draco heading this way, Master. He'll be here!" cried Wormtail.
"Make him drink the Polyjuice Potion," said Voldemort. Lucius nodded and wrenched the poor man's head back. Immediately, the man's looks contorted into a perfect replica of Harry Potter. Lucius tossed the invisibility cloak back over him as he spotted Harry and Lupin approaching in his peripheral vision.
"When I cast the spell on Potter, kill this pathetic muggle. Potter will be in my clutches before anyone knows what's happened… and his apparent corpse will be lying there instead," said Voldemort. "Once that's done, we must be certain Lupin and Draco check the corpse and are satisfied he's thoroughly dead, then you (he pointed to Pettigrew) portkey the corpse away. I'll handle Potter myself. Keep the others stunned until we've departed."
Lucius and Wormtail nodded quickly.
"Don't screw this up. I need them both to think the boy is dead... then they'll never try and get him back."
Albus Dumbledore stood several meters away from the trio, fretting inwardly at what he was about to do. Opening a portal to the seemingly unknown would drag not only Voldemort, but himself into it, trapping them forever... at least he hoped it would. The old, ancient magic he'd been studying for nearly a year had promised to do just that. He and Voldemort would disappear, living on the other side of the portal in the tiny area he had created for them.
He was more than willing to do this; it would end the war. There had to be two. The alternate world he'd blueprinted would use their very own magic to hold it together and support them forever, keeping them both bound to it until death - or until the portal was reopened. He had no fears of that, though. No one knew he was doing this.
Now was the time - this was the place. Only two Death Eaters stood ready, and both men's loyalty to their Master was shaky at best. There was a reason Lucius Malfoy wasn't second in command; he was a fucking leech. He only followed him for the power, the riches, the women... and men.
Wormtail... Everyone knew that he was out for himself. If Voldemort fell this eve, he'd drop to his knees and suck every Phoenix's member - ship to stay alive.
"Ready to end this misery?" said Lucius to the muggle. The three men stood shielded by a small hill of dirt. It was now or never. "Keep quiet!" He kicked at the invisible mound with his toe.
Lord Voldemort laughed.
Harry and Remus crossed through the wards and stood on the opposite side of the mound of dirt. Their wands were drawn and at their sides. Lucius snaked his tongue out at the charming hero. "Hello, love. Come to suck my cock again, have you?" His voice dripped with lust and sarcasm. Harry snarled.
Albus panicked as he saw the two Aurors walk up to face The Dark Lord. They weren't supposed to be there. Remus was supposed to keep him away. Maybe he hadn't gotten his note. Had he even sent a note? He couldn't remember. It didn't matter. It had to be done, and it had to be now. Holding his wand and a book out, he began the longwinded chant. His wand moved and flickered about as the incantation began.
Voldemort eyed the two men standing mere meters away from them. All five lifted their wands mid-waist, overconfident half-smiles in place. Remus scanned between Lucius and Peter; these two were his. Harry's eyes locked onto Voldemort's. Green against brown, luminous, and full of hate.
Harry spit on the ground in front of the Dark Lord. His lip curled up in a sneer.
"Ah, the pleasure is all mine, Mr. Potter. Are you ready to die?" said Voldemort.
Harry shook his head slightly, keeping his full attention to the man despite the pain in his scar. "I'm going to enjoy pissing on your grave, you pathetic disease." he replied. His sneer increased, his white teeth beaming back at him now. He wasn't afraid in the least, and it unnerved Voldemort to no end. The defiant, resilient, little brat that he was - he'd learn obedience soon enough.
Draco appeared at his master's side then. His wand was suspiciously absent and his expression was more than worried. He felt like he might retch, as the sense of something wrong was overpowering now.
"I should have killed you years ago!" roared Voldemort.
Harry went rigid with fury. "Yeah, I guess you should have. It's a pity you were too feeble then, and too bloody stupid now!" Taking his eyes off the Dark Lord, he tossed a quick wink to Draco - and that's when Voldemort acted.
With a deep breath, he cast out the unfamiliar chant, wand pointed dead centre at Harry's chest.
Lucius dropped down to the dirt floor to avoid the curse Remus shrieked at him.
As if in slow motion, Harry's eyes flitted back to Voldemort, seeing the streak of light blue racing towards him. Gritting his teeth, he spit out a counter block, hoping that it might stop this unusual spell that was about to pierce him.
Wormtail stunned Remus immediately, knocking him to the ground so he fell in front of Lucius.
Draco cringed, covering his face as the blue-white glare of the spell slammed into Harry's chest, blinding them all momentarily.
Albus faltered briefly; stumbling forward. He was out of breath as he saw his most loyal fall back to the ground, clutching himself in pain. The incantation was nearly complete; he might have time to finish it and to let them save Harry.
The cloak was pulled from the muggle and the killing curse was cast. Draco heard the words pound into his ears. He cried out involuntarily, falling to his knees in defeat. His Harry was dead. He knew it. He should have stopped him. He knew something bad would happen...
The body was tossed forward, and Harry looked down at it as he stood up. He shook his head in disbelief, looking down at his own corpse?! He touched his chest, his face. He ran his fingers down his body, pinching himself, feeling the pinches ache. It was then he realised he was surrounded by the light blue flames of magic. He was encased in them, like a glass dome dropped on top of him. He pounded on it, cursed it, screamed out; but nothing seemed to work. He could hear nothing of what was said from outside of it. He realised no one could hear his screams... most of all Draco.
Albus felt a tear slide down his cheek. He paused, lowering his head in mourning for a brief moment. His beloved Harry... Lifting his wand, he continued; almost finished. It was time to make Lord Voldemort pay for his sins.
"He's dead. Check him yourself, Draco," mocked Wormtail, violently kicking the corpse. He pointed his wand at Remus. "Ennervate!"
Remus sat up, shaking the dizziness from his brain. Lucius was holding his wand now and pulled him up to his feet. He swivelled him around and bent him forward to look upon his dead saviour.
As his friend's cries filled the air, Harry paled as Voldemort's eyes locked back onto him.
The Dark Lord could see him.
Voldemort smiled softly and stepped forward. He spoke to the others before he stepped into the flame, and Lucius and Peter nodded back to him, yanking the corpse from Remus' grasp.
Harry gazed back at Draco one last time, seeing the pained expression in his features. Draco turned on his father, screwing up his face, shouting out a curse. Lucius fell back, dropping the corpse as he flailed around on the ground, his mouth twisted in a scream.
Remus backhanded Pettigrew, knocking him down.
Voldemort stood directly in front of Harry now, midway into the flames. He held his hand out to the young man and smiled. "You're mine now, Potter. Time to concede."
Hoping to keep Voldemort's eyes from wandering behind him, as he might see Draco and Remus crushing the two Death Eaters in their palms; he dropped his head and took his hand without a word.
Pettigrew grasped the ankle of the dead man and touched the portkey in his pocket. He vanished immediately. Lucius wasn't as lucky.
Albus could only see the back of Voldemort's robe, but it was enough. With a powerful thrust of his wand, the portals opened directly over The Dark Lord and himself.
Harry's eyes widened as the portal opened, dropping both men into it like a powerful gust of air, thrusting their bodies down. Voldemort's eyes nearly popped from his head at the sudden jolt of power as the void took hold of him.
The spell was made for two people. The portal over Albus began to close as he stepped into it willingly, not realising it hadn't pulled him in. It crushed him as he fell to the ground in his new home.
Voldemort and Harry plummeted down, landing hard on the floor beneath them. Hitting his head, Harry was instantly dazed and blacked out.
Voldemort had already begun to right himself. His eyes scanned the room. It looked so dismal and small, but there were doors to exit. He caught sight of Harry lying motionless on the ground, his forehead spilling blood on the surface.
Then he saw Albus.
He sneered and reached for his wand. Pointing it over the withered old man, he inhaled a deep-heated breath. "Avada Kedavra!" he shouted -- but nothing happened.
Albus rolled his head over to face him and smiled as a line of blood leaked out of the corner of his mouth.
Voldemort huffed and cast it again, and again, and again... but still nothing.
"What did you do, you bastard?" he whimpered. He felt the most powerful tantrum coming forth, and he shook with anxiety to hold it back.
Harry began to stir and rolled onto his back. His glasses had cracked in two, splitting the skin between his eyes open. His unfocused vision darted over as Voldemort's sniveled cries filled the air. He saw Dumbledore lying on the floor a few meters away and crawled to him, ignoring the exasperated Dark Lord standing over them.
"Albus!" he shrieked, lifting the old man's head into his lap. "Oh god, Albus… what's happened?"
Old Dumbledore choked as he felt the living flesh of Harry Potter touch him. He wasn't dead... he was here. "Oh, my dear boy," he whispered faintly, lifting a skeletal hand up to brush his cheek. "I am so sorry, Harry. I've made a colossal mistake."
Voldemort kneeled down next to the two men, grabbing the old man's robes up in his fists. "WHERE IS MY MAGIC!?"
Harry quivered in anger and grabbed a handful of jet-black hair in his hand, ripping it backward with all his strength. Voldemort lost his balance and tumbled back onto the floor.
Harry returned his attention quickly to the old man dying in his arms. "Albus, where are we? Tell me how to get us out of here," he whispered gently. He absently wiped the blood from his lips and rubbed it into his trousers.
Albus's eyes began to dilate and he sighed out one last time. "You can't get out. It can only be opened from the outside, and I've told no one of this. The two of you are trapped. Don't kill each other, Harry, you must both stay alive or you'll both die… I'm sorry."
Voldemort leaned in closely to hear his words. He heaved in a deep breath as they were spoken, and shook with disgust.
"Oh, just die already," he growled, garnering another rough shove from The Boy Who Lived.
"Albus... Albus..." whispered Harry, tortured in panic.
But he was gone.