TITLE: The One-Shot Series

FANDOM: Harry Potter

GENRE: One-shots, vignettes, drabbles, shorts, plot ideas/bunnies, etc….

RATING: varies chapter to chapter

PAIRING: varies chapter to chapter

A/N: Each chapter of this series is its own little AU; a short one-off to express an idea or concept that's been rolling around my head. Anyone who wants is welcome to take whichever idea catches their fancy & develop it into a full-blown story arc. Just please credit me as the inspiration. Enjoy.

Destruction of the Last Horcrux

Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, watched from a distance with haunted eyes as Harry Potter curled into a sun drenched corner of the room and began to chat excitedly in babbling baby-talk to a bit of scrollwork carved into the stone wall. It hurt her to see him like this; physically healthy, magically powerful and yet reduced to the mentality of a damaged child.

Oh, all wizards and witches ran the risk of insanity. It was simply par for the course when one routinely warped and altered the very fabric of reality on a daily basis in order to form the world around you more to your liking. Most, if they lived long enough, ended up the way that her late predecessor Albus Dumbledore had; a bit eccentric, a few obsessions and his own unique way of relating to various stimuli.

Harry Potter's madness, however, was far beyond wildly colored robes or collecting a myriad of magical knickknacks to display or obsessing over a particular type of sweet. The-Boy-Who-Lived had completely disassociated himself from reality, unwilling or perhaps unable to relate to and communication with his fellow humans. Even the portraits of Hogwarts who monitored his every move for Minerva were not able to reach him with their words. Instead, Harry talked to Hogwarts directly, acting as if the ancient castle was a living sentient being.

He wandered dreamily from room to room, murmuring and talking nonsense to the walls, floors, archways and scrollwork. Unlike Filch, who used a combination of magical cleaners, mops, rags and scrub brushes powered by the sweating arms and backs of children in detention; Harry cleaned and repaired every hallway, room or closet space he encountered with warm sweeping waves of gentle magic the flowed from his body continuously. The windows, suits of armor and floors had never sparkled and gleamed so brightly. Areas of the castle that had been shut down and closed off for decades due to disrepair were once again in perfect usable condition. The wards, once strained to their breaking point from attacks of dark magic, were stronger than ever and visibly glowing with vitality from the raw magical power that Harry continuously fed into them.

Sighing softly, she watched him as he reached out with one hand and petted the rough stone wall. He crooned a gentle murmur of sound and without benefit of a wand or speaking an incantation transfigured all of the plain clear glass windows into beautiful detailed stained-glass pictures depicting scenes from the lives of all four founders. While Minerva was long since used to Harry's incredible displays of immense power, it was times like these when she couldn't help but wonder if Hogwarts didn't actually speak back to him. How else would he have been able to create such images from Hogwarts' history?

In any event, that wasn't what pulled her from her office and sent her looking for him. Once again the wizarding world was faced with a new Minister for Magic being voted into office and once again, Minerva had to petition to keep Harry in her care as her ward. As it was, Harry was dosed with a calming potion once, sometimes twice a day and allowed to simply wander the school. He never bothered any of the staff or students since it was doubted that he even recognized them as existing and he rarely left the castle proper. If he did, it was only to visit the courtyards, greenhouses or the Quidditch Pitch. He never ventured beyond the wards, even into the Forbidden Forest.

Minerva could only hope that the new Minister for Magic didn't plan to make a big splash in the papers by forcibly removing Harry from Hogwarts to St. Mongo's for 'treatment'. The last time that had happened, Harry went berserk the moment he was portkeyed away. Countless people had been injured, thousands of Galleons worth of damage had been done, the wards of St. Mongo's had been completely torn down and Harry had disappeared without a trace for three months. When he was finally found hiding in Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets it had taken another year and a half to coax him back out again. Even then he had been jumpy and twitchy, his magic on the defensive.

That's when she had started feeding him the calming potions. Harry was simply far too powerful magically and far too disassociated with reality to allow for any sort of temper-tantrum. His magic could easily level all of London and he wouldn't even realize it.

Several people from the Ministry had suggested over the intervening years that she should simply replace his calming potion with a poison and let him die. That it would be safer than allowing a madman to roam about while possessing more magical power than anyone since Merlin himself. Minerva harshly denounced such ideas, and would have even if she hadn't believed that Harry's magic would recognize & combat any poison made. There were perhaps some moments when she felt that it would have been better had he not survived his battle with the Dark Lord Voldemort, but she wouldn't ever condone killing him in cold blood.

No, Harry was quite safe and very happy if just left to wander the corridors of Hogwarts castle, communing with the only home he'd ever acknowledged. In fact, knowing that she was due to retire within the next few years, she had begun working up a proposal to the Board of Governors to allow Harry complete access to Hogwarts for as long as he lived.

She could only hope that they would grant this most unusual request if for no other reason than because it was becoming patently obvious to all that Harry Potter was not aging. This extra added bit of horror wasn't really a surprise when she thought about it. The Dark Lord had been obsessed with immortality and had eagerly sacrificed his very soul in order to accomplish that deed. He had systematically fractured his soul into seven parts and then locked them inside of various objects. With his foul horcruxes in place, he was unkillable. His attack against the Potters back in 1981 changed everything. By casting the killing curse upon the child of prophesy he had destroyed his own body and cast his black spirit into a sort of purgatory; damning himself to roam the Earth without rest or peace. Unfortunately, his magic wasn't destroyed along with his body.

What no one realized until the final duel between Voldemort and Harry was that the Dark Lord, in that moment of destiny years earlier, had accidentally sundered his soul once again and created out of the infant child a final horcrux, a separate living being with a bit of Voldemort's twisted soul magically fused to the baby's very mind and magical core. If only they had known or even suspected what the truth of Harry's link to the Dark Lord really was then this all could possibly have been prevented. But they hadn't known and Harry had marched into battle with the Dark Lord and killed him.

For a brief moment, a mere blink of the eye, everyone had been filled with a profound mix of both shock and relief. Then the true horror began as Harry suddenly flailed back with a cry of wrenching pain, his scar split open and spilling blood down his face in rivers. He had collapsed to the ground, screaming and thrashing while his magic pulsed and writhed through the air. Everything that Voldemort currently was and had been attacked Harry's mind in one last desperate attempt to recombine with his single remaining horcrux; Harry's own mind & magic.

No one had known what to do, how to help. Mind healers and soul healers were called in panic. Legilmencers and various mind-arts specialists were quickly consulted. Some said to stupefy him to prevent the Dark Lord from possessing him. Others warned that if they did, it would only clear the way for Harry's personality to be ousted faster. Arguments ripped back and forth on what would be the best path to take.

In the end it was Harry himself who finally destroyed the Dark Lord's last horcrux. Through sheer bloody-minded desperation the young man had literally torn his own mind asunder by ripping the Dark Lord's foul and twisted soul out of himself and then used raw magic to banish it to the neither-realms. By the time the dust was settled and all was said and done, the Dark Lord's soul was utterly destroyed and his magic was residing inside of Harry's magical core, mingling and merging with his own. Unfortunately, Harry's mind and sanity were shredded in the process.

And now a madman walked about with twice the magical power of the Dark Lord, his only friend and confidant an ancient castle deep in the heart of magical Scotland.