I just wanted to point something out. I have 359 people who have added this story to alerts. If everyone reviewed once I would have 6,462 reviews. Instead I only have 365 reviews. Now I'm not saying I review every chapter of every story I read, but still, it's something to think about.
Since this is the final chapter can at least 35 people, of the 359 people who have me on Alert, review? That way I can get the 400 reviews I want? Enjoy the final chapter. I'll work on The Lambs and Soul Seeker now.
May 20th 1996.
"Tell me about it again?" Harry asked softly.
He was leaning back against the dungeon wall, his legs stretched out in front of him and his cloak tucked under his bum like a pillow. Bellatrix turned her head a fraction of an inch. She gazed at him out of the corner of her eyes. Her lips twitched slightly in amusement and the person she had been staring at a moment ago stopped screaming as her attention caused her spell to falter. She lowered her wand.
"Tell you about what?" She said, followed by a high-pitched giggle. She knew what Harry wanted to hear: she had already told him three times in the last ten hours.
Harry smiled at her, thanking her for being patient with him. "The night you were arrested."
Bellatrix laid her wand on the ground beside her, and rubbed her hands together gleefully. "Oh what a fun night that was, was fun that night!" She swiveled around so she was now sitting and facing Harry. "Rudolphus, Rabastian and I, and Barty of course. You haven't met dear Barty have you, Harrykins? Barty's as batty as a two-knut whore, he is, but oh so fun to have around for a party. He was at our Lord's resurrection you know? How come you haven't met him, then?"
"Don't know, perhaps Voldemort thought he'd be a bad influence on me?" Harry waved his hand, inviting Bellatrix to continue.
She grinned up at the ceiling, lost in thought for a moment, before turning to Harry again. "Was such a good night, I can still hear the screams ringing and ringing in my ears. It was a month after you defeated our Lord. We went looking for you, you know? We was gonna hurt you, make you scream and cry." She licked her lips, her eyes were sparkling and it made Harry feel distinctly uncomfortable as she fantasized about torturing him. "But we didn't find you, no, no, no, they wouldn't tell us where you were."
"Who?" Harry asked, though he already knew the answer.
This was mostly for their 'guests' attention. Harry smirked as his eyes met the crumpled form of Albus Dumbledore. The man was laid out on his back, arms and legs splayed though they were twitching and shaking. His mouth was open and a little bit of sick dribbled down his chin. When Bellatrix had lowered her wand a moment ago, he had immediately begun to retch. For ten hours they had tortured him, and Harry had to admit the man was lasting better then anyone could have expected. The chain around Dumbledore's neck rattled as he rolled to his side with a groan.
"You won't-" Dumbledore started, before he dissolved into racking coughs. "You can't expect to win!" He finally spat out.
"Crucio," Harry said, effortlessly putting the man back under the effects of the torture curse. Dumbledore screamed, his arms clinging to his chest, as he fought not to scratch at his eyes and face. Hurting himself distracted from the pain. It was as if someone was crawling along inside of you, dancing along every nerve in your body and pressing down with their weight making it hurt, and hurt, deep inside of you. Albus wanted to claw those things out of him, pull them up through his skin so they couldn't hurt him anymore. He knew it was irrational, he knew it was the magic making him hurt not any foreign intruder and yet he still scratched at his face and bit through his lips, and had to lie on his stomach and arms to stop himself gouging out his own eyes.
Bella gave a giggle, clapping her hands as she watched the old Wizard writhe on the dirty floor. "Alice and Frank Longbottom, of course, dearest," Bella sing-songed when Harry finished the spell and Dumbledore fell silent.
"What happened?" Harry's eyes never left Dumbledore's face as he spoke. The old man was panting, and Harry merely raised an eyebrow as pleading blue eyes finally rose and met his.
"Oh we had such a party." Bellatrix actually stood up and twirled around in a circle before dropping back to the ground with a smirk. "They wouldn't tell us where you are. So we 'crucioed' and 'crucioed' and then I 'crucioed' too, and Barty 'crucioed' with us, and the screams, Harry, it was like music ringing out into the night. Rudolphus and I danced as they screamed you know, waltzing around the room to the sounds of their pain and our 'crucios'." She licked her lips again. "But then the Aurors came and the party had to end. Oh, but Harry, the Longbottoms never forgot that night."
"They forgot everything else though?"
"Oh, yes. They're quite insane now. They don't even know their own names! They must have enjoyed themselves quite a bit if that night is all they remember?" She looked away in thought, her lips pursed. "I wonder did they enjoy it as much as I did? I dreamt about it, every night until I met you. The Dementors rather enjoyed it too, I'd wager." She let out a cackle then, her head thrown back and Harry found it rather amusing that Dumbledore flinched from the sound. "But why do you want to know?"
Harry didn't answer her. Instead he stood up and slowly walked closer to Dumbledore before crouching down.
"My whole life I've been at the mercy of others." He said softly. Bellatrix looked over at him warily, picking her wand up off the floor as she came towards him. "I suppose I can't be mad at my parents, after all I was a baby then. But you, you had the power to put me with people who would love me. And you didn't. You, the one with power, left me powerless with Muggles!"
"You heard her," Dumbledore gasped out. "They were looking for you."
"At the Longbottoms. There were other families that would have loved me. Other families the Death Eaters wouldn't suspect!" He stood up, his face hard and his mouth turned down in anger. "No, you wanted me helpless, powerless. I was at the mercy of merciless Muggles, and when I thought I was saved – each and every time – you would ride in on your high horse and tell me why I just had to go back!"
Harry pointed his wand at Dumbledore again. "Was it worth it? Crucio."
When the screaming had stopped again, the teenager frowned. "You practically encourage child abuse-" Dumbledore tried to speak to deny it but nothing would come out of his mouth but air, "-then you send me to that place, for something I didn't even do and once again I'm at the mercy of someone else. Helpless once more. But at least I was not alone this time. Fortunately, or I'd probably have gone insane. Then, if those crimes were not bad enough, you kidnapped me, tied me up and made me watch you kill my lover. I watched helpless, powerless as he died. And you, you could only mock my pain."
"I wonder," he said after a moment's pause, "if I felt the way the Longbottoms did as they watched each other be tortured to insanity? Helpless, powerless, and now they are at the mercy of the St. Mungos staff. I suppose it's a fitting end to you. After all, it's your fault they are there (if you hadn't believed the prophecy neither Neville nor I would have lost our parents). And it's your fault I'm here, right now, seeking revenge. No, revenge is a nasty word isn't it, Tinkerbell?" He tapped his wand against his thighs as he turned to look at his friend.
"Retribution," she said breathlessly, "divine retribution."
"Justice for all of your crimes." Harry looked at her with a fond smile and she reached out to squeeze his hand softly. It finally dawned on her what Harry had planned for the old man. Fitting. "I hope you enjoy the rest of your life, Albus."
"You're not going to kill me?" He seemed awed at the fact.
"You don't deserve the mercy of death. I've decided to be like you, merciless! Enjoy the rest of your life drifting in an endless abyss of helplessness." He raised his wand again, and so did Bellatrix. As they spoke, Albus' eyes widened in understanding and he realized the significance behind the tale of the Longbottoms. "CRUCIO!" They bellowed together and his world exploded, once more, into a familiar, blindingly bright explosion of pain and terror.
May 22nd 1996.
Over the past two days, Voldemort would sometimes enter the dungeon where Albus was being tortured. He never once raised his own wand at the older man. Instead, he wrapped an arm around Harry's waist, pulling the boy back to rest against his own chest and he laid his chin on Harry's head. Voldemort would smile slightly as Dumbledore screamed and begged for it to end. Soon though, the screams began whimpers equally as pained, and the pleas were nonsensically mutterings, the whisperings of a mad man.
Voldemort had long dreamed of torturing Albus and finally killing him, but he had to admit that Harry deserved this more. Harry had put up with so much more than he ever had to, Harry had suffered so much more and yet Harry had come out, through it all, as a better person.
Voldemort smiled faintly, as he leant back against the dungeon wall. Harry was in his arms, leaning back against his chest and he tilted his head back so Voldemort could reach his lips.
"He lasted a surprisingly long time," Harry finally said. Voldemort hummed in agreement and they watched as two Death Eaters grabbed Dumbledore under the arms and lifted him to his feet.
The man's eyes were wide open and glazed over. His face was a mass of bloody scratches, tears and dried vomit, but he didn't seem to notice. His clothes were filthy as well, wrinkled and unwashed. Dumbledore looked around the room, as if seeing it for the first time.
"I can't see the sun," he whispered as he was dragged from the room. "Everything was so bright before. Hurt, hurt so much but I miss the light."
"It's night time." Geoffrey Goyle grumbled. "There ain't no sun up." Dumbledore let out a pitiful whimper at that and tried to curl in on himself. Angus Nott elbowed him in the stomach and tugged him forward, forcing Dumbledore to keep walking. Harry and Voldemort followed them at a sedate pace. Bellatrix had already gone up the corridor, skipping and laughing, in the lead of the procession.
"Oh," Bellatrix sighed as she turned around to look at Harry. "What a party. I was so glad to be invited."
"It was what you did best," Harry said in reference to her habit of torturing people to insanity.
Dumbledore suddenly froze at the sound of Harry's voice. He spun around, knocking Nott to the floor. He looked for one moment like the man he used to be, fierce and proud and dangerous. His finger was pointed at Harry and he glared. "Crucio, Crucio, Crucio," of course nothing happened, and suddenly Dumbledore's mouth trembled and fat tears leaked from the corners of his dull blue eyes. "Your fault, all your fault." He hissed at Harry, looking no more dangerous than a child throwing a tantrum. Harry flinched back nonetheless.
"No, it's your fault." Harry whispered before nodding at Nott and Goyle. The two men carried on dragging him down the corridor. Harry watched them go, with Bellatrix still leading merrily. But neither he nor Voldemort made any move to go with them.
"Does it make it any better?" The Dark Lord asked, his voice was low and so very welcome right then. Harry smiled and leant back as Voldemort moved behind him, his arms wrapping around Harry's waist.
"No," he admitted shyly, turning in Voldemort's arms so they were face to face. "But it helps." He tilted his head up and Voldemort leant down to press their lips together. They stayed like that, locked together, lost in one another, for some time before they reluctantly drew apart.
Voldemort kissed his forehead and smiled softly. "It'll get better in time."
"Every one keeps saying that."
"Then it must be true." Voldemort said taking Harry's hand in his, before leading them out of the dungeons of Malfoy Manor.
May 22nd 1996. A few hours later.
Mungo Bonham founded St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries in the late 1500s or early 1600s. St. Mungo's Hospital is widely known as the primary Wizarding hospital in Britain. Located in an abandoned department store in London, the hospital's Healers treat wizards for all sorts of magic-related illnesses and injuries, and in extreme circumstances have been known to treat Muggles as well. The hospital's logo is a wand and a bone, crossed, and unsurprisingly donations are always welcome.1
Lucius Malfoy was one of the hospitals most generous donators. In fact it was only the year before when Lucius made a very public donation to the hospital. He had given away so much money that the old Minister had invited the entire Malfoy family to share his box with him during the Quidditch World Cup final. Though you could argue that Lucius got the raw end of the deal: giving away so much money and having to put up with Cornelius Fudge for an entire day, all in the same week.
But it was such that, when Lucius Malfoy flooed in to St Mungo's that day and demanded a room be prepared for Albus Dumbledore, no one dared to refuse him. They only asked the most necessary questions and tried to keep well out of his way.
"Sir," one Healer asked, scurrying out of the way as Lucius strode through the hall. "Which floor shall we ready?"
"The fourth floor," Lucius said curtly, "Spell damage."
"And which ward, Lord Malfoy?" A second Healer asked as they met her on the stairs.
Lucius gave a slight smirk, a twitch of his lips marring his impeccable mask for but a moment before he composed himself and answered. "The Janus Thickey ward." He said with an air of finality.
The two Healers looked at each other, caught in a moment of stunned silence, before the woman suddenly shouted, "ward 49!" up the stairs. Lucius heard the staff scurrying about above his head and he frowned. Some people just had no class.
The Janus Thickey ward was also known as the long residents ward. It was where you sent someone whose brain had been permanently affected by magic. Alice and Frank Longbottom were there, along with Gilderoy Lockhart (who Obliviated himself instead of Ron while Harry was in the Chamber of Secrets, before Azkaban). Lucius watched as the matron bustled up to him, her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.
"Just because you give us money does not mean you run this hospital." She sneered. Lucius merely raised an eyebrow. "What makes you think wasting our time will be of any use to anyone?"
"I assure you, ma'am, that I am wasting no ones time but my own. That bed will be needed." As he said that a strange sort of perverse pleasure welled up inside of his chest and he had to try very hard not to chuckle at the thought of Albus Dumbledore living in this pokey little ward, surrounded by loons. "He was Portkeyed to Hogwarts this morning." That was a lie of course; he'd been in the dungeons then. "The new Headmaster is having him brought here post haste."
The matron's eyes widened with horror before she turned to the two women who were making the beds and sweeping the floors. A third was giggling at something Gilderoy said. "Hurry, hurry, that bed needs to be made ready." Lucius snorted as she ignored him completely and began rushing around the room.
"I wouldn't worry about perfection." Lucius drawled, "I doubt he'd even notice." He turned and swept out of the room, just in time to see Nott and Goyle dragging Albus up the stairs. He nodded to them both and stepped aside to let them past before he headed down the stairs and back to the ground floor. He flooed out of the hospital, through the same fireplace Dumbledore had been brought through, and when he arrived at his home he finally allowed himself to grin madly for a moment.
"That's better," he mumbled as the tingling sensation in his chest died away. It just wasn't proper to be that happy all of the time. He'd get wrinkles!
May 23rd 1996.
It took no time at all for everyone to learn about Dumbledore's new residence though no one could find out what happened to him. Not even Severus was informed of how far Harry had fallen in his quest for revenge, but maybe it was better that way?
This morning marked the end to what should have been Harry's fifth. Those who had taken the NEWTs and the OWLs were now free to do whatever they wanted with their time until the 30th of June when the school would close for the holidays. The other years would still have class for the next month, but what should have been Harry's classmates were no longer expected to go to class or sit at their House tables. The seventh years were not even required to remain on school grounds. If they could find a way home now, they were welcome to leave.
Though of course no body left.
Things were just too interesting at Hogwarts at the moment.
Headmaster Snape, as well as Messes. Lestrange and Lestrange were seated in the Great Hall. All three of them wore black, and their eyes were cold and their faces expressionless as they looked over the gathered students. Every child in the school had appeared. There were notably some teachers missing from the head table but no one commented on it at present. Instead they all watched and waited.
"Now that I have your attention," Severus drawled and suddenly every one fell silent. "There are a few announcements I wish to make. Each of my new rules have been met with approval by the Ministry and Minister Lenning." He raised an eyebrow at the Gryffindor table as many of them started to mutter and whispered amongst themselves. It still wasn't public knowledge that Voldemort controlled the Ministry and Severus wasn't about to let anyone in on the secret. "Firstly I'm sure, being as astute as you all are," very sarcastically spoken, "that you have noticed the empty chairs among us. Those professors did not meet the requirements expected of them in order to mold and teach all you fine people." Rabastian snorted. Severus was probably being facetious.
"As such they have been replaced. Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, Sprout, Vector, and myself will remain. However, Professors Trelawney, Hagrid and Binns are no longer acting teachers within this establishment. 'Muggle Studies' is no longer available at Hogwarts and as such Professor Burbage is no longer with us. I'm sure we'll miss her very much." Rudolphus tried not to laugh at Severus' tone of voice.
"'Divination' will be taught by Alona Devlish." A tall woman entered the Hall and took a seat. "Heinrich Guttenburg has agreed to teach 'History of Magic'." A man with a mustache like Hitler nodded at the Headmasters as he sat down. "'Care of Magical Creatures' is now in the hands of Brandon Yacob." A man – well Vampire actually – that looked remarkably like Alvis, Prince of the Vladislav Vampires, entered the room. His hair was not the same shade of white but rather a very pale yellow color. He sat down with a grin, flashing his fangs at a sneering Gryffindor.
"We have decided to make several new subjects available. For Muggleborns, 'Etiquette' and 'Wizarding Customs' will be compulsory. Sarah Sanders had agreed to teach, to my pleasure," he hissed out the word and a red haired woman grinned at him. She was a Death Eater, and a friend of Narcissa's so he hadn't dared refuse her the job. "'Dark Arts' is now mandatory up until OWL level. Hector Gumpas is now your instructor in the art of Dark Magic." A lanky, thin man who had the look of an undertaker enterer the room. "How better to defeat your enemies than to know them?"
His face took on a pinched look as he introduced the last new member of staff. "Lastly, the 'Defense Against the Dark Arts' professor is once again Remus Lupin. Oh how we've all missed him, I'm sure."
Remus tried to smile at him, but Severus sniffed delicately and began sipping at his cup of coffee. He held the cup in front of his face so that no one could see the way his mouth twisted into a sneer as Remus whispered 'hello' to him.
The Hall was deathly silent for a moment before noise erupted from all corners of the room. Some were cheers for a favored Professor, some were exclamations of disgust at the new lessons, some were fearful whispers about the vampire and werewolf on staff, some were dark mutterings about Death Eater teachers, but all of them were loudly annoying. Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, massaged his temple and drank more coffee. Why, oh why, did he ever choose to work with children?
Sometimes, he thought, it wasn't worth getting up in the mornings.
June 27th 1996.
It was the anniversary of Harry's being imprisoned in Azkaban. Three full years ago, Ginny Weasley had died, and Harry had been dragged to Azkaban prison, innocent and terrified. It had been a month and five days since Dumbledore had been taken to the Janus Thickey ward.
The Healers had tried to cure him but of course they failed. They put him in the same room as Alice and Frank Longbottom, because after all their cases were so similar. Now, Frank was practically catatonic. He didn't move around, he didn't speak and he didn't seem to notice Dumbledore's presence. Alice was a little more lucid. She had stared at Albus as he was brought into the room, as he was taken out of the room for tests, and she had frowned at him as he was brought back into the room.
She knew she should know him, but it wasn't likely she would remember him. She didn't know her own name for Merlin's sake. But she knew this man somehow.
Dumbledore seemed to know Alice as well. They had been eating sweets and he walked over to her and handed her the wrapper. "For Harry," he whispered as if Alice was in the position to give it to him.
"For Harry?" Alice asked quietly peering at the wrapper with curiosity. But Dumbledore had gone back to bed. When she fell asleep she had awful dreams filled with red light and screaming. Such screaming, so loud and constant like music. It was like a drawn out, pain filled song, and Alice clutched at her ears in her sleep, trying to block out the sounds.
When she woke, she knew what she had to do to make the screaming stop. Slowly, she walked across the room, a pillow held limply in one hand and the sweet wrapper in the other hand. As Albus Dumbledore slept, Alice held the pillow over his face and pressed down hard.
He woke and he thrashed, but somehow Alice kept her grip on the pillow. The entire time she kept whispering, 'for Harry', but she didn't know who Harry was and she didn't know how to ask. Dumbledore eventually fell limp and still, no longer breathing. Alice left the wrapper by his face, on the pillow, and she went back to bed.
The matron found them the next morning. Albus lying dead in the bed, with a pillow on his face, and Alice, in a bed with no pillow. It wasn't hard to figure out what had happened, but no one could even try and guess why it happened. After all the Longbottoms had been firm supporters of Albus Dumbledore. They just supposed it was one of those things that crazy people did sometimes.
Harry had chuckled darkly, and called it Karma.
"Divine retribution," Bellatrix had argued, grinning gleefully.
June 30th 1996.
Hogwarts was officially closed for the summer and the train had left the Hogsmeade station. As it drew to a stop at Platform 9 and ¾ his parents met Draco, but Harry was nowhere in sight.
"We're going to see him now." A house elf appeared as Lucius clicked his fingers and then disappeared with Draco's luggage. "Come, we don't want to be late."
Harry had been re-enrolled at Hogwarts for the next year, and he was scheduled to take his OWLs at the Ministry building in the middle of August. Voldemort had hired private tutors to help Harry catch up, not trusting some of the Hogwarts staff to do their best by the Boy-Who-Sided-With-Voldemort-Against-The-Light (as he was sometimes known behind his back). The papers had found out about Voldemort controlling the Ministry through Alfred Lenning, but no one had done a thing about it because Lenning was doing a rather good job of being Minister. And anyway that information wasn't as startling as the fact that Harry Potter was shagging the Dark Lord. Now, that was a topic that sold papers.
"Where are we going?" Draco asked as his parents took hold of one of his hands each.
"Godric's Hollow." Narcissa whispered. Lucius apparated the three of them to the small town.
They landed in the centre of the village, which was a square with a post office, a pub, and a church with a graveyard behind it. In the middle of the square was a war memorial, which, upon closer inspection by the three wizards, transformed before their eyes into a statue of James, Lily, and young Harry Potter. It was a monument to their final stand. The graveyard behind the church where the Malfoys were headed had a kissing gate at the front. It is the final resting place of Ignotus Peverell, Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore, as well as James and Lily Potter.1 They were here today to lay one more person to rest.
An overgrown path led away from the square towards a short row of homely cottages. Draco looked back and frowned at one in particular. "Why is that one so dilapidated?" He asked with a sneer.
"That's where the Potters died, dear." Narcissa said softly, and Draco's mouth made a little 'o' of surprise.
They followed the slightly tidier path towards the church, and then around the building to the back. The pushed open the gates and nodded at the small solemn crowd that had gathered.
A few folding chairs had been spread out, and most of them were occupied. Draco left his parents' side and made his way to the front of the crowd, drawing Harry into a tight hug. "I've missed you, brother." Harry didn't answer. Instead he pressed his face against Draco's shoulder and fought back the tears. "Love you."
"Love you too," Harry whispered and was rather relieved to see that Voldemort didn't so much at glare in Draco's direction.
"What's going on? Oh." His eyes had landed on the small headstone, at the end of a long row. Mentally, he read off all of the names he could see. Kendra Dumbledore, Ariana Dumbledore, Bathilda Bagshot, Lily Potter, James Potter – Tom Riddle. "Oh Harry," he whispered as he pulled the boy into another hug.
There wasn't a grave for Tom, but Harry had left a small urn on the ground in front of the headstone. Instead of ashes, he had placed the two halves of his own holly and phoenix feather wand inside of the urn. A ring of roses and lily's lay around the urn, hugging it tightly on the cold ground. The headstone read, "to the memory of Tom Riddle. As much as I loved you, nothing lasts forever. Rest in peace." Followed by his date of birth and death.
Remus and Sirius, Bellatrix and the two male Lestranges, the Malfoys, Voldemort, Harry and Hermione Granger remained there for the rest of the night. They stood silently and bravely and watched in relief, as Harry didn't break down this time.
Harry bent to pick up the urn, and he reached inside to grab a one half of his broken wand. He put the urn back inside the ring of flowers and cast a spell on the wood so it burnt and turned to ashes. He threw his hand out towards the headstone and he smiled as the wind picked up suddenly and carried the ashes far beyond where he had expected them to reach. Unlike in his dreams the ashes didn't fall on him and stick to his skin, weighing him down with guilt and horror. This time, they floated free in the wind, much like Harry hoped Tom's spirit was doing. The brunette smiled softly, slowly, but it wasn't a sad smile. Nor did he feel the overwhelming urge to sob as he did during the months after Tom's death. Happy green eyes looked over to meet Voldemort's red one, and Harry smiled again, wider; eyes full of love and happiness and the relief that only accompanies finding the time to finally being able to say 'goodbye'.
Maybe everyone had been right? Maybe things really did get better in time.
1 – some of this paragraph was taken from the HP Lexicon.
I wish to thank each of those people who left a review (though, also, thanks to those who read and didn't review) but seriously, to those that reviewed throughout the story, this chapter is dedicated to all of you guys. I hope you liked it as much as I did.
Ah, divine retribution. Who else thought it was fitting?
READ THIS PLEASE. I was thinking, maybe I could do one-shots about the relationships Harry has with different people? Things that weren't covered in the fiction – like Severus talking to Harry about Lily, Harry being introduced to Fenrir's pack, Draco bringing Harry to Malfoy Manor as his 'brother' instead of his friends, etc. If anyone does want me to do so, they will be posted at this URL. If you'd like to offer suggestions, leave it in a review and I'll see what I can do. Thanks.