Disclaimer: As this story ends with a shudder and a bang (that just so happened to be delayed long past its cue), I still do not own the rights to HP & Co. Ah, sadness, thou art familiar...
Apology: Since the last chapter, I went to Chicago to visit my boyfriend, got engaged at Anime Reactor 2009, had the most stressful college quarter of my life, and finally found the ability to write again as I sat here angsting to Nimohtar for the last months about my lost ability to write. You all can thank her for her inspiration via a fic she's been writing that always brought me back into the HP fandom.
I love you all more than I can express for your support. This story is for you. 3
Epilogue - Ineluctable // not to be avoided, changed, or resisted
18 September 1997
Harry Potter Missing! Minister Malfoy Promises Reward for Information
By: Amanda Hugginkis
Harry Potter, Boy Who Lived-to-Betray, has been declared missing officially after two weeks of speculation on his whereabouts. Minister Lucius Malfoy had this to say at the Press Conference late last night: "Any with verifiable information on Mister Potter's whereabouts will receive lifetime amnesty and an Order of Merlin First Class for their assistance. High Minister You-Know-Who has declared that a cash reward may be substituted in a sum of fifty thousand galleons for the successful capture, unharmed, of Lord Mylläkkä." This has already caused a storm of movement around the Wizarding world, many with hopes of glory or riches on a hunt for the Boy Who Lived. But be warned, readers – the High Minister has also stated that any falsified leads will be considered treason and a fatal offense. (For more information, see page 3)
1 November 1997
Was Boy Who Lived Offed by High Minister?
By: Rita Skeeter
It is suspected that the Boy Who Lived is now the Boy Who Died. The boy the world once trusted as poor, sweet, and innocent Harry Potter, recently revealed to be a horrible, demonic Vampire creature called Mylläkkä, also revealed to be on the side of You-Know-Who, has vanished without a trace. Invisibility Cloak notwithstanding, one might say it could be a skill he acquired from a less-than-savory sort, but everyone knows that with the recent events and inklings of a possible relationship between the Boy Who Lived and You-Know-Who suggest that once-sweet Harry Potter, now wretched and evil through and through, could know a lot more than any witch or wizard could imagine. If not the product of a lovers' quarrel, then what? Could You-Know-Who have possibly taken irreversible action?
If he is in fact dead, then perhaps the Wizarding world is better off, and a slight bit safer, as his theatrics caused a lot of stir among the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when he took the life of the bumbling, yet strangely brilliant Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, but if Harry Potter is in fact dead, offed by the High Minister, You-Know-Who himself, is anybody safe? Especially when it is speculated that Harry had been on his side, especially a side of a romantic nature. Who would have thought that Harry Potter would end up in a romantic relationship, let alone a crude, unnatural one, with the wizard who tried to kill him as a baby? If the High Minister didn't kill him, how is he handling Harry Potter's disappearance? When did the Wizarding world stop making sense? The Wizarding world, no matter how twisted, is watching fervently, unblinking, as each story unfolds.
2 November 1997
Prominent Reporter Found Dead
By: Trish Pettingale
Early this morning, prominent reporter Rita Skeeter was found dead in the Daily Prophet foyer. This is a tragedy for journalists everywhere and, yes, all Wizarding kind.
She was found relieved of all her skin.
19 December 1997
New Hogwarts Headmaster Announced!
By: Skylin Providence
In the wake of recent events which have shaken the Wizarding World, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been left leaderless. Now, the High Minister has assigned the post of Headmistress to Minerva McGonagall, formerly Deputy Headmistress under the late Albus Dumbledore. Disgraced just before his death at the hands of Lord Mylläkkä, Dumbledore left Professor McGonagall as the best candidate for the post.
An anonymous source within the school covertly informed this reporter, "I don't feel safe anymore. The woman's a Death Eater!" Another student expressed the opposite feeling, stating that he has total confidence in the High Minister's choice.
Whatever the case, Minerva McGonagall has taught at Hogwarts for decades and has been an unwavering source of support to students and faculty alike. She has made it clear that she will keep her position as Transfigurations professor for fifth through seventh year students.
13 May 1998
Loss of a Hero: The Boy Who Disappeared
By: Yuuki Toshi
Harry Potter, better known as the Boy Who Lived, is now as the Boy Who Disappeared. After being revealed as the Dark Lord Mylläkkä and killing the Headmaster Dumbledore he disappeared from the school and has not been seen since. So this leaves the question: where is he?
The Minister of magic Lucius Malfoy and High Minister Voldemort (formally Dark Lord Voldemort) have been reported throughout England and the United Kingdom seeking information, and would only say that they are on the trail of the missing Dark Lord.
Potter had seemed like a fairly normal student in school if one was to ignore the heroic deeds - many of which people are questioning. He recieved average grades in most subjects, did poorly in some and exceeded in others, which leads us to ask how and when he became a Dark Lord, in league with the very man who had tried to kill him.
Months have passed now and still no questions have been answered. (for more information on the searches still in progress, see page 14)
29 August 1998
Search for Boy Who Lived Called Off After a Year
By: Trish Pettingale
This is a sad day for the Wizarding world. Today, after eleven months of searching, Minister Malfoy has formally called off all investigation into Harry Potter's mysterious disappearance. "It has become unmistakably clear that Mister Potter does not, in fact, want to be found. The High Minister and I believe him to be well wherever he is, and have faith that he will return. Until then, there are more important things for our resources to be used for." Minister Malfoy refused to take questions regarding the decision.
4 Febuary 2002
Radical Rebels Target Ministry!
By: Amberlina Brown
Opposition has shown itself in the form of masked assailants, witnesses say. "T'was terrible!" Miranda Carthwrite, secretary to the Magical Games department said. "They stormed in in those terribly ugly yellow robes and were firing curses everywhere! Why, if not for the color, I'd have thought they were Death Eaters!" This was an opinion shared by many. "Doesn't seem right. Only been peace for four years and all of a sudden we've got more masked freaks disrupting us in here!" James Starr was overheard saying. This reporter is unsure of the aims of this group, but it is surely opposition to the High Minister's rule. More information is sure to come. (For witness accounts, see page 8)
21 March 2005
Statute of Secrecy Reworked
By: Dennis Creevey
The proposed reconstruction of the Statute of Secrecy passed through the Wizengamot without objection today, as expected. The proposed changes ranged from tighter security at the Leaky Cauldron to mandatory Unbreakable Vows for Muggleborn children and their families. Consequences of death have been added to the Statute for any willfully exposing the Wizarding world, and the High Minister seemed very pleased in a rare appearance after the proposal was signed into effect. "For too long the Wizarding world has been cowering. With these changes, we hope to secure our own longevity and prevent unnecessary conflict. We are superior, but we are outnumbered. We may feel secure in our world with the new revisions."
18 June 2007
10th Anniversary of High Minister's Victory
By: Jayna Steele
Around the Wizarding world today there are mixed feelings. Ten years ago today, High Minister Voldemort's reign began with the fall of the Ministry of Magic. Some look upon the changes since wrought with joy – security, a return to the traditions that made the Wizarding world distinctive and strong, and the slow return to stability and peace – and others see this date as something to mourn.
"Things are dreary," said Lavender Brown, assistant to Madam Malkin. "Sure, things are safer... but the High Minister was still a tyrant born of a hostile takeover. He rules with fear and threats of death. It isn't the same in the world anymore when you have to watch your every step in case one of his Enforcers might think you're out of line and off you." Others, however, disagree obstreperously. "I think this is the best thing that could have happened to us!" Zacarias Smith, Curse Breaker for Gringotts and part-time Enforcer, believes. "The High Minister weeded out the corruption and set the Wizarding world back to rights. We should be thankful and be done with it, and celebrate this like the happy occasion it is."
26 December 2013
Attack on Ministry Leaves 21 Injured, 3 Dead
By: Trish Pettingale
In a dire celebration of the Yule holidays, the infamous rebel group Bennu's Ashes stormed the Ministry of Magic late last night. In a flurry of spells the building was sent into a veritable panic, and the yet-untested security that has sat untouched in the years since the High Minister took control was overtaken in moments, leaving the dastardly insurgents to move through the various departments.
It is with a heavy heart that the deaths of Delores Umbridge, Percy Weasley, and Chance LaMeare are announced at the hands of these fiendish rapscallions, with at least seven other wizards and witches still in Scarlet condition in St. Mungo's Spell Damage ward. Minister Malfoy will be visiting the injured personally, it is rumored, later this afternoon.
It is yet unknown what Bennu's Ashes hoped to accomplish when it mercilessly struck down witches and wizards only wishing to perform their duties, disrupting otherwise peaceful times with their hate and darkness. The High Minister has already sent word that his elite Enforcers are on the job of investigating what the goal was, and this reporter hopes that with a more stringent, trained guard force, the upcoming new year will not bring yet more tragedy to a world that has yet to forget what the taint of darkness feels like. (For witness statements, see page 2.)
19 January 2016
Ron Weasley Speaks Out: Twenty Years After Betrayal
[Start of Interview]
Nathan Gainsborough conducting Interview with Ronald Weasley
NG: Good Evening, Mr. Weasley.
RW: [nod] Evening.
NG: Shall we get started?
RW: Go ahead.
NG: It's been a long time, Mr. Weasley. This is the first interview you've granted in almost twenty years. Is there a reason why?
RW: I didn't see the point before.
NG: And now?
RW: Things have changed.
NG: What kind of things, Mr. Weasley?
RW: I had enough of things. It was time.
NG: I can't deny it's a big honour to be able to speak to you like this, to hear what you have to say. There are a lot of people interested in you.
NG: Oh come now, surely you must know? You're considered a hero to some of them.
RW: Not everyone, though.
NG: No, indeed. You have made yourself some enemies it's true. You've been a wanted exile for a long time now - in fact, ever since Harry Potter left. You were his friend, once upon a time.
RW: Was, yeah. Can't miss out that part. It's the most important part after all.
NG: Tell me a bit about the two of you. How did you become friends?
RW: From the moment we first met. On the train to Hogwarts for the very first time.
NG: That's quite a beginning.
RW: Isn't it just? You'd think it'd mean more to him than it did. He was my best mate, practically a brother to me. It was me and him, and Hermione. Thought we'd be mates forever, didn't I? And then he goes and does something like that -
NG: "That", Mr Weasley?
RW: [bitterly] Shacks himself with You-Know-Who - sorry, High Minister now, isn't he? We'd been fighting him for years - years - and then he just goes and switches sides on us, the bloody tosser.
NG:And this still angers you?
RW: Of course it bloody - [sound of frustration followed by sigh] He left us. He left us all. Turned his bloody back on us and left us to him. It's like we didn't even matter to him - any of us. Like all those years as friends didn't matter at all. Didn't even send word, did he? No apology, no excuse, just… nothing. He was just gone.
NG: Would you have listened to him, then, had he offered any?
RW: [pause] I wasn't exactly given the chance, was I?
NG: Do you consider it a betrayal, then?
RW: What do you think? 'Course it was. I mean, how would you feel finding out about something like that? It was Harry…
NG: That wasn't the only thing he did to you, though, was it? He was responsible for the death of your father.
RW: Yes. He was.
NG: You must hate him for that.
RW: [coldly] For that, yes I do. I'll never forgive him for that. Ever.
NG: Was it his betrayal which spurred you into rebellion?
RW: You could say it was part of it, yes. But we'd been fighting for a long time before then. It was more a continuation than a start. But…yes, I'd say Harry's betrayal made it all more urgent.
NG: Did you think it was possible to win? After all, you must have seen that there was little hope of overthrowing him; Albus Dumbledore had been killed, the then-Dark Lord had control over Hogwarts in the form of the surprise Death Eater Minerva McGonagall, and all that that implies, and the one hope of victory - Harry Potter - had deserted, disappeared. So, why fight?
RW: What else was I meant to do? My whole life I'd been hearing of the terrors and the disasters from the First Rise. At Hogwarts, I saw what Harry was going through - was with him through most of him. The nightmares, the sadness, the fear - I saw it, I felt it. And Harry - how could Harry let someone like that take over, and join him, even? I've never understood that. And now you ask me why I fought? How could you let someone like that take over? They were murderers, evil… It's not right.
NG: You could have surrendered, accepted it. That's what many people did.
RW: It's not right.
NG: But the rebellions failed in the end, if you forgive me for saying so, and here you are now, with very little accomplished.
RW: It's not over. There'll still be people who will carry on with the fight, even after I'm gone. The important thing is to try. And that's what we did.
NG: What about the changes that the High Minster's rule has introduced? The return of tradition, the increased safety of the Wizarding World from the muggles?
RW: Pure-blood politics, the lot of it.
NG: But ones that keep Wizards safe. You can't disagree with that, sur -
RW: Safety is one thing - but a safety guaranteed and upheld through murder and suppression is another thing entirely! It shouldn't be borne. How would you like to live in a society where you have to watch your every word, what you say and what you, just in case you get on the wrong side of the tyrant-in-chief? Because you know what happens when you get on the wrong side of them - they'll destroy you, and your family, and everything you've got, and they won't be satisfied with anything less. That's what I was fighting against. That's what I was trying to put a stop to. And there's nothing wrong with fighting for a cause like that.
NG: [pause] I see you feel very impassioned about this…You said you've stopped now. Is that true?
RW: Yeah, it's true.
NG: Was there a particular reason for this?
RW: No. Not really. It was just time, that's all.
NG: Would you care to elaborate?
RW: I'm tired of it, okay? Twenty years is a long time - more than enough for anyone. Most of my friends are dead, the rest are either imprisoned, or missing, or have defected! I'm getting older. I have injuries that will last for the rest of my life! I have nightmares about things you couldn't even imagine! And most importantly of all - most importantly of all…I have my family to think of.
NG: Your wife and daughter.
RW: Yeah… They've been through enough. It's time for it all to stop, at least for me.
NG: Would you say it was worth it, in the end? The fighting?
RW: I... don't know any more.
NG: It took its toll on you, from what I can tell - and on some of your friendships, and your relationships to your other family members.
RW: We chose our sides. In the end, it's all there is to it.
NG: Is that so? What about Hermione Granger? You mentioned her before.
RW: Hermione chose Harry long before any of us ever found out about him going over to the other side. I never knew anything about it.
NG: In effect, you lost two friends that day.
RW: Yeah, you could say that. It was never the same afterwards - how could it be? But… as I said, she chose her side, and I chose mine, and we all have to live with it. [sigh] For what it's worth…I think she's happy where she is. She was always the one in charge, you know, even at school, always the one crusading for this, that and the other. As for Harry and I, we…
RW: [long pause] Sometimes, just sometimes, I look around me and I see all these people - the people I'm fighting with, and I'm fighting against -, I remember all those years together at school, all the fear and the hatred, and the killing, and part of me.. part of me understands, y'know, why he did it. Why he switched sides, and why he left afterwards…
RW: [sighs] It gets to you, you know… I don't think I really understood it until I went through it too.
NG: Do you not blame him then?
RW: I… no..
NG: No? What is it then?
NG: Mr. Weasley?
RW: [quietly] I think I'd like to end here, please.
[End of Interview]
13 October 2020
Phellytones: Evil Menace or Useful Integration?
By: Gordon Stetherwright
"A step towards modernisation!"
"A disaster of catastrophic proportions!"
"A new and innovative form of communication, designed to make lives easier!"
"Silly, idiotic nonsense!"
Those were just a few of the arguments that raged among the Wizarding world on the subject of Phellytones, the muggle devices of communication that allow for spoken communication between people both at home and on the move.
Today is the one year anniversary of the day that the very first Phellytones were first put on trial in selected establishments throughout Wizarding Britain, and we shall be taking a look at the history of this at-times controversial idea, the pitfalls and the triumphs, and whether the end result is to be considered success or failure!
It was five years ago that the motion to integrate this Muggle invention into Wizarding society first reached the ears of leading retailers of industry, and the public. The scheme was introduced by none other than Muggleborn Hermione Granger, a well-known and established champion of justice, and patroness of change, as a means of supplementing more traditional means of communication, as well as allowing for more interaction between Muggle and Wizarding families.
When first proposed, the scheme was met with wild disagreement from almost every quarter of the Wizarding World. The old traditionalists lamented over the threat to tradition; the magical industries feared the collapse of many a business; the departments of finance argued that the cost of introducing these new devices would be astronomical and the ruin of Wizards everywhere; even the owl-breeders worried over what would happen to all the owls who had so faithfully delivered our letters for over 5 millennia. In fact, the only people who supported the notion were the Mage-Crafts, their lone hands timidly raised in a sea of angry waving and shouting, eager for the opportunity to test their skills in either the adaptation of spells and machine needed to make Muggle appliances function alongside magic, or the creation of an entirely new device incorporating the two.
One would imagine that with such blatant opposition the scheme would have fallen through at the very first hurdle! However, Ms. Hermione Granger rose to the challenge and within mere weeks had been granted sanctioned support from the High Minister himself to begin the first forays of experimentation into this project; thus the agency W.O.R.M.S. (Wizarding Office Researching Muggle Science) was born.
The path of the "Phellytones Introduction Group", as it came to be colloquially called, was at times a difficult one. Although the majority of opponents to the scheme were content to keep their displeasure to mere talking, there were several incidents of a more physical nature, including a number of attempts to sabotage development, and various attempted assassinations of the three leading Mage-Crafts in charge of the project; Allegra Fitzgerald, Barbarello Dougal, and Imelda Kettlesworth, which prompted greater security measures being put into place, and the W.O.R.M.S. to spend an undetermined amount of time under the Fidelus Charm for their continued protection.
In spite of these setbacks, progress continued at a fast rate, and within a short amount of time the first prototypes were released for trial on a limited basis, with major Wizarding businesses as well as a select 1000 private Wizarding citizens participating in the trial scheme; of these, the most notable were Madamme Malkin's Robes For All Occasions, Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, and former Minister of Magic Lucius Malfoy.
Now, a year later, and a week before the results of the trial scheme are to be released, tensions are high as people wait to see whether or not the Phellytones are to be scrapped for good as a lost cause, or released to the public domain.
People in support of the new changes might be pleased to hear that W.O.R.M.S. has last week announced the newest projects for the future - including the Confuter, a box-like contraption which will provide users with an astounding array of useful and beneficial abilities.
As for those who continue in their desire to stick to their traditionalist ways, the only consolation I can give them is that if these items are introduced on a wide-scale basis, they will not be compulsory.
2 April 2024
Neville Longbottom New Director of St. Mungo's
By: Cassandra Crimsonchin
Neville Longbottom, 43, has been announced the new Director of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. From an early age, Longbottom has longed to be something more than average.
"I just figured I'd be a regular old Medi-wizard. Being announced as Director is a great honor, something I couldn't even begin to imagine," says Longbottom when asked how he feels about his new position of leadership. One of the youngest wizards to achieve such a title, Longbottom plans to bring about change in the way St. Mungo's handles their patients. His long-term goals include more time with patients, a deeper level of care, and not being so quick to throw patients into the UnCureable Ward.
Longbottom's parents, Frank and Alice Longbottom, have been patients at St. Mungo's for many years, which sparked the desire to see better care for the mentally and physically ill of the Wizarding world in Longbottom's heart. With diligence, he studied hard, and has now, at an early age, achieved his goal.
18 September 2026
The Memoirs of a Best Friend: The True Harry Potter
From Chapter 4: "The Difference Between a Hero Forged and a Hero Dreamed"
[In anticipation of Hermione Granger's new book, the Daily Prophet has been given the go ahead to share with you all a short excerpt. Remember, 'Memoirs of a Best Friend' hits shelves on Friday.]
"'Once upon a time' and 'happily ever after' may be fine for fairy tales, but it simply doesn't hold up in reality. Harry was a kind soul – too kind, one might say, for the role he as thrust into – and not everyone is strong enough to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. Don't get me wrong, Harry was strong. He was stronger than Ron and I, stronger than the Order of the Phoenix or even Voldemort himself! He had a strength of character that was nearly insurmountable. However, once you load the expectations of a world onto a person's shoulders and make them believe they could only achieve acceptance if they met them? It is crushing. I watched for years as Harry bowed under the weight.
"We were young then, though. I was too naïve to see the reality of what was happening, and instead Ron and I let him fall. It was too hard to believe that Harry Potter – someone that even I as a Muggleborn and his best friend had been convinced was beyond human fallibility – would be crushed beneath the weight. And in the end he wasn't.
"Many today, even twenty-eight years since his disappearance, believe Harry betrayed this world. He did not. Harry chose to live his own life instead of capitulating to what the world expected of him, instead of falling into the role of hero that many expected. Why place your hopes on a child, I ask of you all? You are as guilty as any if you read this, obviously drawn to read simply because Harry Potter is a household name. You asked a boy too young to know himself to know exactly the path to take. The blame is your own.
"But I believe Harry did the right thing for all of us. Whereas you all were too frightened to fight your own battle, Harry was unafraid to turn the tides of battle in his own favor. He became the hero you all dreamed him to be for so many years, forged in tribulation, pain, and death... he became that hero with his own dreams in mind. I applaud him for that, and if you have an decency remaining you will do the same, whether his ideals matched your own or not."
8 July 2027
Hermione Granger First Muggleborn Minister of Magic
By: Trish Pettingale
Months after Minster Malfoy's injury at the hands of Bennu's Ashes rebels and his subsequent resignation from the position of Minister of Magic, the votes have been counted and his replacement has been named.
At the age of 47, prominent politician and activist Hermione Granger was elected only the third youngest Minister of Magic today, taking her place as the first Muggleborn to ascend to the position in Wizarding history. "This day is not about my blood or any election gotten despite it, this day is about the Wizarding world embracing hope in the face of a darkening horizon! As Minister, I promise you all that I will fight to elevate our world and uphold the values we hold dear. And with this hope we will strive evermore for true peace through knowledge and progress, taking our glorious world to new heights!"
Later in her speech, the Minster outlined plans to integrate several new technologies like the Phellytone and the Telefission, stating a need to keep the public informed through several mediums. "While we keep ourselves hidden from the muggle world, we mustn't let our wish for separation cloud or good judgment. There are a good many things produced by those who do not have magic to aid them, and we cannot let prejudice and fear cloud our good sense." Minister Granger went on to outline plans for organized educational systems below and above Hogwarts level.
Many are skeptical of the new Minister, though she has the High Minister's full support. "What can a mudblood really do? I think the Dark Lord fell off his rocker a bit, he did," Knocturne Alley shopkeeper Isabella Rosier said. While many hold reservations about the new Minister's blood status, others worry about her age. "She isn't even middle aged!" Augusta Longbottom cried, clucking her tongue. "Why, what is this world coming to? First my Grandson is promoted and now this? She's a nice girl, but she's still a child!"
It remains to be seen how Minister Granger will fare, but the Wizarding world has spoken with her election over the traditionalist Argo Pyrites, showing a clear desire for a new movement in our world. And mote shall it be.
Harry leaned against the railing to Riddle Manor, fingers clenched on the wrought iron fence. The garden wasn't nearly as overgrown as he had thought it would be; either someone had put up a stasis spell over the years, or Tom had actually made someone fix it up at some point. It was odd, though, to see it so hardly changed.
It had been thirty years, after all.
Could he really enter? His heart stuttered to a halt at the thought of seeing Tom again, aged though he surely was. And what of Lucius, Hermione, of the others he had bonded with over the years? Icy fingers gripped his being. Could he stand to look at them, older and changed? It was true that wizards aged far more slowly than Muggles, but thirty years wrought changes on any mortal.
Why had he even returned? Damn Valerian for talking him into going back, and damn Dante for helping him. Damn them all, anyway. How could he face them all now after he'd left with hardly a word?
But… he knew why he'd come back. He'd missed them all so much he could hardly breathe, and he had spent far too many moments of those thirty years in solitude and miserable. Valerian, wonderful friend he was, hadn't tried to replace what Harry knew he'd lost. What he'd taken from himself. But he had been there, silent in the shadows and reminding him that he wasn't truly alone.
For all the good it had done.
But to return now? He wouldn't be welcomed, he knew. He didn't expect to be. But looking into the mirror and realizing that so many years had passed and he was entirely unchanged had been difficult. Impossible to comprehend. And the mortality of his friends had hit quite painfully in the center of his being as Valerian had slipped him a newspaper from the Wizarding world, showing Hermione accepting the position as Minister of Magic. She would be nearly fifty now, nearly middle-aged in Wizarding terms. That made Harry himself nearly sixty. He shuddered.
It had been like the world had been pulled out from underneath him. How had time managed to get away from him that way? Wasn't the saying that time only moved quickly during enjoyable times? How had the most miserable times of his life ended up passing in a blink of the eye?
"Immortality, pet, is a curse far more often than it is a blessing. I have told you this before. Why do you think so many of the long-lived come here to stay? Amongst other unchanging, time does not seem such a disease."
He had never mourned the loss of Valerian's powers, his punishment from the Fates for defying their edict, as much as he did in the current moment, staring up at Riddle Manor under the full moon and wishing he could turn time back.
Would anyone even remember him? He wasn't an idiot, he knew they'd remember him, but would they really? Did anyone ever think of him anymore, remember the way he spoke or how he stood? He remembered them. He remembered the way that Hermione's hair would stand on end when there was a storm, the way Lucius's scowl would make his lips pout outward. He thought of the look in Luna's eyes when she'd explained the Wrackspurts to him that night in the Great Hall and the way Neville's jaw had quivered, for all is strength, at the idea of disappointing his grandmother.
He remembered the tilt to Tom's head when he was curious, the way his fingers would clench spastically when Harry brushed his fingers against the hollow behind his ears. He remembered the darkening cast to red eyes when he was angry and the vein that jutted from his forehead when he wanted nothing more than to hit Harry over the head.
Merlin, he had missed them all.
Was he even a passing thought anymore?
Did they resent him?
He wouldn't blame them if they did. He had been selfish in leaving, so self-centered and childish that it made him sick. So he'd felt useless. A normal person would have tried to find a purpose, something that made him feel worthwhile. But no, not Harry Potter. Harry Potter had run away with his tail between his legs.
He shouldn't have come back. His grip tightened on the aged iron and he felt it bow in his grip. He had trained much over the years, and though he had only begun to develop his strength, the old metal was too malleable to hold up under the pressure. He pulled his hands away and grimaced, eyes falling to his feet. What place did he have in this world now? He had done his job and faded into obscurity as he had always planned, vanishing into the shadows without a trace. So why did he feel so hollow because of it?
He balanced his way down the path to the graveyard, taking care to jam his heel down with every step to steady himself in the mud; preternatural ability had never been much help on his lack of grace. He couldn't stay. He didn't know if his martyr complex was back at work or if he was being selfish, but whichever it was he was leaving. They were fine without him.
The muddy ground of the graveyard squelched beneath his boots as he sunk with every step, weaving between century-old tombstones. Another place that was eerily unchanged. His gaze was drawn to the most familiar stone of them all, standing just a bit taller than the others. He hadn't meant to go off course, but his feet seemed to have ideas of their own as they led him to the right, circling until he stared down at Tom Riddle Senior's grave.
For all that time had gone by in the flutter of an eyelash, Voldemort's rebirth might as well have happened in another lifetime. Harry's fingers traced over the rough stone, head tilting and making his hair tumble over his shoulder. Forty years since that day. He had been so terrified. He remembered the way that same stone had dug into his arms as he'd struggled and the hot pain of the knife delving into his arm, but that was all he really remembered. He tried to picture the moment Voldemort had stepped from the cauldron but couldn't.
His fingernails dug into the stone painfully, eyes going round. He knew he shouldn't have lingered. He couldn't turn around, oh how he didn't want to turn, but he found his body disobeying him as he moved, centimeter by centimeter, breath by breath. His eyes stayed glued on the ground. "It's been a while, Tom." He tried to summon up a cocky smirk or a jaunty wave, anything to make him look less like a horrified fool. But he could do nothing but stare at his feet with ragged, panicked breaths fogging around him in the cold night.
He had expected a lot of things, but the left hook to his jaw had not been one of them. His eyes flew up automatically to his attacker as his hand moved to press the source of eye-watering pain. Through a film of reactive tears, green eyes locked with red and he was lost.
"Fuck you, Potter!" He looked so much as Harry remembered him, straight nose and high cheekbones casting long shadows in the moonlight. Perhaps there were new lines across his brow, the faint trace of creases around his mouth that would probably be more obvious in another few years. But otherwise Tom Riddle looked just as he had thirty years prior, livid crimson eyes included. "Where in the hell have you been, you ignominious twat?!"
Harry could hardly breathe. "I-I was just leaving. Nevermind. I'm sorry I came back." He was stuttering like a child, and the painful pounding of his heart echoed in his ears. A mistake. He never should have come. He couldn't handle this.
He meant to turn away, meant to run as fast as his legs could take him out of the anti-Apparition wards so he could get the hell away from Little Hangleton. But the sudden panic on Tom's face, stark and painful to look at, halted him in his tracks. "If you take even one step, Harry Potter, I will track you down no matter what realm you escape to and flay you alive!"
Whether it was the command in the voice or the way his heart had wrenched, Harry obeyed. He kept his eyes tracking Tom as he came closer. Tom's hands were shaking, Harry was distressed to see, and his knuckles were white as he clenched them.
"If you had left for a week, a month, a year, I might have forgiven you. But you leave for thirty fucking years and just waltz back? Who in the hell do you think you are?!"
Was there really a response for that? Harry closed his eyes.
"Answer me, damnit! What in the hell were you thinking, abandoning our plans for Britain and running off? You… you…!"
"Is that all you cared about?" Harry was advancing now, some part of him smirking darkly as Tom took a step back. "Your war? I should have known. Riddle me this, Tom: who in their right mind would stay where they weren't wanted? Who would stay when they had outlived their use to the world? I had nothing tying me here!"
Tom was seething now, teeth bared in a snarl. "That's your excuse? You pathetic Gryffindor coward!"
"Who are you calling a coward?!" He was face to face with him now, fingers curling in Tom's collar and eyes blazing.
"You, you twit!" The glare in Tom's eyes changed too suddenly for Harry to move away, barely managing to tilt his head to avoid a broken nose. It was hardly even a kiss, all teeth and smashing force against his lips, but Harry fell under its spell immediately and without reservation, second hand moving to curl in the short hairs at the back of Tom's neck and yank him closer, holding his head crushed against Harry's own.
Ah, it was such a conundrum that something so wonderful was something so easy to forget. One could think they remembered passion in its absence, but the reality was so far from memory. Fire lit Harry's veins and scalded his mind, settling him into a state of blank bliss. Tom's teeth gnashed at his lips, tongue twining through his mouth and running across the roof of his mouth. Harry shivered and fell into Tom's grip.
Summoning every dredge of willpower he had, Harry used the hands he had twined in Tom's hair to pull the man's head back, separating their lips. That was as far as his resolve extended though, he mused, finding himself unable to do more than pant against Tom's lips and shudder in his arms.
"You're an idiot, Potter."
"So are you, Tom. But you missed me, didn't you?"
Talk was cheap. Harry was happy to put off talking until later as their lips clashed again, sending them into oblivion.
It was hours before they found themselves walking in silence from the graveyard, slightly damp and more than disheveled. Harry tried not to focus on how utterly kinky it was to have had angry, ruthless sex in a graveyard – on the tomb of Tom's father, no less! – and more on the idea that he was back. For better or for worse, Harry didn't think he could escape back to Sceaduwe now if he tried.
Tom had gone silent in between standing and pulling up his trousers, jaw set stonily in the moments Harry had managed a glimpse of his face. Obviously things would not suddenly be perfect after thirty years of absence; sadly, sex could not erase fissures as deep as those dividing he and Tom.
He heard Tom mutter and watched what had previously been a blank stretch of stone wall transform into a door. A twitch of Tom's hand had the door swinging open, and Harry immediately recognized the drab wallpaper of the Manor proper, yellowing floral print peeling at the edges. He vowed to convince Tom to let him spruce up the place.
...This was assuming, of course, that Tom didn't simply kick him straight out once he was done screaming at him.
He wished he was vain enough to know the grooming spells Tom did. While he had been able to superficially dry his clothing, he could still feel the weight of his wet braid thumping dully against his back. He was sure he looked a fright. Tom, on the other hand, looked as groomed and perfectly put together as ever, though Harry would not tell him that the backs of his trouser legs were muddy. Let the silent berk be human for a minute.
They passed few people in the halls, and Harry wasn't surprised to find that so. Those they did see wore dark robes, but gone were the masks and hoods of the Death Eaters. Every head turned to stare with wide eyes at him as he trailed along at Tom's heels.
He hadn't wanted to see anyone so soon, and he cringed. Tom radiated anger in front of him, likely borne from his horrible impatience. Harry turned and faced the speaker regardless, less than surprised that, once again, Fate toyed with him. Draco. Of all people, why did it always have to be Draco Malfoy?
He was older. Much older. It was striking how like Lucius the boy looked, hair brushing his shoulders and patrician features stark. He might have even thought it was Lucius himself if it wasn't for the upturned curve of the boy's – no longer a boy, Harry reminded himself – nose and the blue gleam in silver eyes. He had gotten a more soft cast to his face from his mother, a beauty to add to Lucius's already handsome genes.
Realizing he'd been staring, Harry forced up a stiff smirk. "Ah, Little Pretty? My, you're not so little anymore, are you?"
The silvery eyes narrowed and his mouth screwed up into an indignant frown. However like Lucius the boy might look, Harry could tell in that instant that he would never live up to his father. He had very little control still, it seemed. "Who in Slytherin's name do you think you're talking to, you flighty git?"
An impatient growl had Malfoy's eyes flying to Tom, widening as he bowed at the waist. "My lord, I apologize for my impetuous manner. I merely wished to update you on my father's status."
"And? I expect Lucius came out of surgery without complication?"
Draco nodded, blond hair swaying. "Yes, m'lord. The Mediwitch whom I met with seemed sure he would make a full recovery without the limp he's been troubled with."
"What? What happened to Pretty?"
Draco opened his mouth as if he would respond, but a hand clamped over Harry's wrist and yanked him towards Tom. A glare silenced Malfoy and they were down the hall again, Harry making an annoyed sound in the back of his throat. "You are so rude, Tom. I expect some things never change, hmm?"
The wall connecting with the back of his head caught him off guard, and he could do little but gape as Tom sneered at him, nose inches from his own. "You would be amazed at how much can change in a person, Potter."
"Like your propensity for physical violence? I never thought you'd stoop to using your hands, Tom."
The snarl he got in return was wordless and followed by the swish of Tom's cloak as he turned on his heel. "Get into my study now, Potter, and shut your mouth."
Harry had forgotten how little he liked being ordered around. He followed nonetheless, jaw set in a frown as he stared at Tom's back. It was like he'd never left, and Tom's attitude hadn't moved an inch.
Tom threw himself into his chair without his usual grace, and Harry took a moment to look around the room. There were less pieces of furniture now and even fewer trinkets littering the walls and desk, leaving the office barren of personality. Harry wondered where everything had gone. Paperwork was still an ever-present staple, stacks held upright by only magic.
Harry sat slowly, not taking his eyes from Tom's still posture, the way red eyes tracked his every move. It got annoying quickly. "Well?"
"Well what?" Tom hissed, eyes narrowing.
Harry's eye ticked. "Well what do you want from me? We obviously have things to talk about, but you're doing fuck all about it!"
"Me?" said Tom in a dangerous tone. "I was not the one who ran away. I was not the one that didn't think to tell anyone why in the hell I was leaving." Tom was standing now, hands planted on his desk and eyes alight with anger as his voice rose. "I was not the one to didn't think to send an owl in thirty fucking years to let people know I was alive!"
Harry winced and sunk in his seat, responding automatically. "Careful, Tom, one might think you care."
Harry heard the snapping of wood and stared wide-eyed as Tom's magic kicked up around him, a fierce snarl contorting his face. His desk had twin fissures running along it from Tom's hands. "Care? Do you think I would be so angry if I didn't?!"
"Yes! You were always angry, you git! You're the one who kept pushing me away because you couldn't even own up to loving me!"
"You loved me too, you inconsiderate excuse for a halfwit!"
They both panted in the silence that fell, trying to reign in the magic and emotions that were out of control. Harry was slightly stunned by Tom's round-about, half-assed admission of love for him. Sure, it wasn't chocolate and roses, but when had he ever wanted that? Tom hadn't denied it, and that spoke more than a thousand words ever could.
"Where have you been?"
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts, looking away from the defeated slump of Tom's shoulders. "Around. I spent a few years in Sceaduwe before I couldn't take it any more. I've been traveling since between the immortal realm and the mortal one, popping in on any conflicts around the world."
Tom's expression was deadpan. "You've been a mercenary?"
"Mmm," Harry said softly. "Spent a few years in the Middle East when I fist started out, but that war was rather droll after a while. The wizards there weren't very friendly because of all the disruption. Did some work in Africa with some slavery business, then helped the Salem Aurals with a dispute with some South American wizards. Then there was that civil war in China about twenty years ago..."
"You've been helping Muggles fight wars for the last thirty years?" Deadpan had changed over to incredulous now. "Have you entirely lost what little mind you had, Potter?"
Harry sneered. "Better to have some use in the world than to sit on my backside signing papers for the rest of my life, Tom."
Tom scowled darkly, lips curled in a snarl, but he didn't respond, settling instead on trying to burn a hole through Harry's head with his eyes.
Harry tugged his braid over his shoulder, yanking off the elastic tie and slowly unwinding it. "I didn't have a use here, Tom. The war was over and I'm not suited to the things you do. I would have left eventually, whether it was from boredom or necessity."
"So you took our your childish angst on Muggle and foreign Wizarding wars? You are the most stubborn, facetious little--"
Harry stood, shaking his head slightly to make his damp, kinked hair swing back behind his shoulders. "Whatever you say, Tom. I can see that some things truly never change, and I'll not stay where I'm not welcome. I suppose I was just feeling nostalgic." He smiled sadly at Tom's hanging jaw, and brushed his hands on his trousers. "It was good to see you, Tom."
He had intended to leave, truly he had, but he quickly found himself in the all-too-familiar position of his back pressed into the wall with Tom's weight leaning into him. But rather than ignited red eyes and snarling lips, he found himself gazing down at Tom's eyes clenched closed as tightly as his jaw, the fingers on Harry's shoulders spasming. "Don't go. For Merlin's sake, Potter... don't do this again."
Harry felt something crack inside him at the exhaustion that lined Tom's voice, the pleading that he hardly even tried to hide. And then his eyes were opening to look into Harry's own, staring without blinking for uncomfortably long. Harry swallowed. "What is the point of this farce, Tom? We just aren't good for each other."
Tom made an irritated sound in the back of his throat and raised on hand, and Harry watched it hesitate an inch from his cheek. "Don't make me force meaningless words, Potter. You know me better than that by now, I'd hope. But I think I am a fair judge of what is or isn't good for me."
"No you aren't, you stubborn git," Harry muttered, dipping his face to contact the hesitating hand and wriggling until it cupped his cheek. "You never know what's good for you or anyone else, you go on pure emotional response if you can. You always have; it was your greatest strength and weakness all in one."
Long, spidery fingers raised to Harry's forehead and he closed his eyes against the hot touch as Tom traced over his scar, faded into near-invisibility though it was. "And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal."
"There is that."
Tom's eyes fell from his forehead to meet his own. "Don't make me go through that again, Harry."
Harry didn't ask what, he didn't want to know. But he couldn't deny the way his dead heart stirred or his unnecessary breathing caught. And he did the only thing he could do as he kissed Tom with everything he had, desperation warring with years of separation. And Tom's hands warmed his cheeks where they clung to him, pulling him closer than was possible, drowning them both.
Harry surrendered himself.
"Let's go, Harry."
Harry looked up from his desk, eyes lighting on his lover. The gray that had peppered his temples had grown to streaks, lines in his forehead from a lifetime of scowls were now visible no matter his expression. But he was as beautiful now as he always had been to Harry, and no one could say that he wasn't amazingly well preserved for his age. The week before had been the New Year's Eve, signaling Tom's 300th birthday, well out of the range of even Wizarding lifespans. Harry had to be thankful to the dark rituals which had extended his lover's life.
"Where to, love? Have business at the Ministry?"
"No, Harry. I want to go."
That caught his attention. Harry's eyes shot up once more and riveted on red. "Leave? Tom, are you sure?"
"I tire of politics."
Harry grinned and leaned over the desk. "Never thought I'd hear that, Mister High Minister."
Tom glided across the room without reacting to the joke, pulling out the chair across from Harry's desk and dropping into it. "I am old. I was old when we ended the war, and it has been centuries since. I am tired and grow weary of this life. Merlin only knows how many years I have left."
Green eyes instantly fell into a glare. "Don't talk like that."
Long fingers reached across the table to snare some of Harry's hair; Tom's fascination hadn't been tempered by the years. He wrapped it around a few knuckles before pulling slowly and watching it fall. "I am ephemeral, Loçkë. You will live out this millennium and the next, only perishing due to external influence. I have survived long, but I have lived far beyond my natural course. It is inevitable."
"Not if you would listen to me and allow yourself to be Changed..."
A snort accompanied by a wry glance. "I will not."
"Because you're a prejudiced ponce--!"
Tom glared and yanked on the few strands that had remained wound around his fingers, jerking Harry forward. Tom ignored the snarl Harry gave him. "I do not want to be a blood-sucker, brat. And immortality..." Tom finally released the remaining hair and flicked his fingers airily, a shoulder shrugging. "I find myself wishing for rest."
Harry closed his eyes and clenched his fists. He hated this conversation. They seemed to have it once every few decades, and it never failed to expose every insecurity Harry retained. He opened his eyes to stare down at his shaking fists instead of into the tired eyes of the man he loved more than anything in his existence.
"But that is neither here nor there, brat, so stop dwelling. I have aged all of twenty years in the last two hundred. I doubt I will die within any reasonable amount of time. And in the meantime, I wish to leave – go somewhere new. I have been stuck in Britain for too many years. What do you say to a change of scenery? Something tropical, perhaps?"
Harry could only exhale, a smile tugging at his lips. "Well... why not?"
I love you all.
Nimohtar - Nathan Gainsborough and Gordon Stetherwright
Venestra - Skylin Providence
Yuuki Toshi - Yuuki Toshi
Raine Ishida – Rita Skeeter and Cassandra Crimsonchin
I have just posted the first chapter to all my current projects, as placeholders for those of you who expressed interest after last chapter's tease of them. They may not be really continued right now, but at least this way you can Alert them and not have to check back to see when I actually take them up (which, to save angst like there was with Para, will be when I am at least halfway if not all of the way done). So check the ending A/N's from last chapter to see if you were interested in any of them.
I'm... heartbroken now, with this ending. It was one hell of a ride, loves. Thank you again for giving me this amazing experience; I don't deserve you all. I hope I paid back with this story. Love. *blows a kiss or twenty*
Search for my penname on Facebook if you have it, I'd love to keep in touch. :)
~~▫ộ» Mischief Managed «ộ▫~~