But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
It was so easy to be in denial.
Ron was only too willing to believe that Harry had gone off on another one of his half thought out quests without telling anyone. It wasn't the first time that Harry had vanished. He never took anyone with him, always disappearing into the night and returning a day later.
Blaise liked to say Harry needed some time away from the idiocy in the room. Seamus and Dean had mad theories of Harry's Death Eater hit list. Cedric never bothered to guess, only saying that Harry was plotting something. Hermione believed that Harry simply needed some time alone to think. Ron believed that she was probably closest to the mark, but he may have been biased.
But as hours stretched into days, it became increasingly apparent that something unexpected had happened. And when they tried to send him a message through the communication Galleon, there was no response. The enchanted coin stayed cold. At the end of the week, when they were gathered around the fire to eat, Ernie said what everyone was thinking.
Ron's stomach, which had been so empty seconds ago, was no longer a top priority. "Don't' say that," he snapped at Ernie. "Harry's not… he can't be." He felt a sudden urge of loathing towards Harry from making them wait in silence without news.
"It's true though," said Neville in a listless voice. "You-Know-Who wanted him dead and Harry would have been back by now."
Ron stood up and the bowl of food clattered on the floor. "So you're going to give up on him?" He really wanted to kick the bowl into the fire, so he did. The action had more force than he thought and it scattered some of the ashes and wood. He heard Daphne give an angry hiss.
"Watch it, Weasley. You nearly burnt off part of my clothes with those ashes. It is not as easy to replace things anymore." She tapped at a burn mark with her wand.
"Please be reasonable Ron," said Hermione, "We are not giving up. We have be to be realistic here and-"
Ron left the cave, not wanting to hear any more of the discussion. He plunked himself on one of the stones that was positioned at the entrance, too angry to stay with them, too scared to leave.
"It's not your fault," whispered Hermione as she crept up behind him.
"I was the last one to see him. I should have followed him or stopped him." Ron sank his head in his hands and recalled the last time he had seen Harry. How could he have walked away from Harry as the Ministry burned around them?
"Harry was a lot more complicated than we ever imagined, Ron. I never really thought about it until recently. He wasn't in our house at Hogwarts, so I thought that he was distant because we don't understand the Slytherins very well. But now I wonder if he was like that to everyone. At times, I felt like Harry was a stranger to me. I think that he was his own worst enemy. We could have helped him with whatever he wanted, but he insisted on going alone.
"We don't know if he's kidnapped or hurt. If we had a burial for him, perhaps we could…" Hermione choked back a sob. "Instead, we are stuck waiting for the next horrible thing to happen and afraid to move in case if he comes back. And this would be easier if we knew what happened to him, if he wasn't alone. Why wouldn't Harry let us in?"
Ron didn't reply. Instead, he reached over and held her hand.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
His ranks had thinned. When Voldemort had been indisposed in the forest that unfortunate October afternoon, there had been an attack at the Ministry. Many of his loyal followers had taken up posts at the Ministry and they had perished in the explosion. Without followers or resources, Voldemort found himself in a position that he had not been in since his time at Howarts.
Eight Death Eaters left in his ranks. The Malfoys, Snape, the Carrows, Avery, and a young one called Theodore Nott were all that were left of his once great circle. The rest were hired hands, cowardly, weak excuses for wizards who were so inept that Lucius wisely kept them away.
Victory should have been his. Instead he was left with the pathetic dregs of wizarding society. Dumbledore was dead and there was no one left to challenge his power. It was he who killed Potter and he was in possession of Hogwarts. Was he not the most powerful of wizards? And yet, he was still struggling to remain in control, as if he was playing a game of chess with some unknown force.
It was fortunate that Snape and the Carrows kept his foothold in the school. It was the parents' fear that kept him in power, but it was a tenuous position. It would only be a matter of time before they would try to revolt against him once again.
But Lord Voldemort was patient. He had spent years working on his goal of crafting the Horcruxes which kept him from Death's grasp. He could wait a few more years, so the young children from the school would grow up respecting him, and serving him, until they finally joined him.
Lord Voldemort could wait.
He had an eternity.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
She had begun smoking, standing at the entrance of the cave and letting the tip of the cigarette be the only sign of life in the dark. Blaise thought it was rather melodramatic of Daphne, an action that didn't quite suit her personality. She was an unsentimental type of person, a beacon of sensibility when others let their hormones dominate. Others had cried, tears streaking down their faces as the looked out hopefully for Harry's return. Daphne's tears were of smoke and ash, a fitting tribute for someone was quite adept at causing destruction. It spoke of how much she missed him, for she had teased Harry mercilessly when he smoked, she found the habit unnecessary.
"You should come inside," Blaise said to her, his breath sending a puff of steam into the frigid air. "You'll catch a cold."
She looked at him with disdain. "Don't try to be comforting, it doesn't suit you. I needed to come out here to get a breath, it's suffocating in there. I can't stand them." Daphne tilted her head back and looked up at the dark sky. "This isn't what he would have wanted."
"Like we know what he would have wanted." Blaise made a face of disgust. "I would have never picked MacMillan as a leader. He's never going give those speeches, the kind of sermon that set fire to peoples' souls and cause action. But Harry saw something in MacMillan that the rest of us couldn't, and we have to respect that."
"Harry liked to keep things quiet, that's the only reason that we aren't stuck in a prison or dead. Now that he's gone, they are spitting in his face by marching right into the public eye. Granger, Thomas, Boot, all of them are so excited by this stupid plan. They forgot that keeping quiet was the reason of Harry's success. We aren't dead yet, but that doesn't mean we should act like morons." She dropped the cigarette, stamping it under her foot with unnecessary force.
They stood in silence, watching the waves crash along the craggy surface of the rocks. The whispers of excited voices deep inside the cave could be heard. Harry had told Blaise that the Dark Lord had stashed an army of inferi in the next cave over. Nobody had ever had the urge to test that theory.
"I'm leaving before they attempt their plan," said Blaise. "You should come with me."
Daphne snorted. "I thought you said we should show faith in our new leader."
"I did." A thin smile came to his lips. "But someone needs to rescue them when they fail. Who would be better than us?"
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
A shove in his ribs jolted Dean from his thoughts and reminded him once more of the tight grip around his wrists.
"Nobody's gonna rescue you, nobody ever does," said the Snatcher. The sentence wasn't given with malice, rather with a sort of resigned attitude.
"What makes you certain?" Dean asked aggressively. He knew he should have kept his mouth shut, but he was so angry with himself for getting caught. He wondered if anyone else had made the same mistake.
The Snatcher grunted. "Your name is on the list of people who are to come here to the Manor. I would have rather taken you to Azkaban, but orders are orders." He led Dean through the dank hallway that smelled of mildew.
Dean followed reluctantly, the chains digging into his wrists. He could make out a cloaked figure coming their way.
"Who goes there?" The voice was a bit familiar to Dean's ears, slightly raspy and weary.
"Just bringing a prisoner," replied the Snatcher.
The figure came closer and Dean could see the pale face of Draco Malfoy peering out in the shadows. Dean clenched his hands, a deep seated urge to attack Malfoy at his fingertips.
"Are you insane?" hissed Malfoy. "The Dark Lord does not want to be bothered with trivial matters. He'd kill you if you awoke him to show off another Mudblood. Take him to Azkaban."
The Snatcher shrugged as he shoved Dean to the ground. "Do with him what you want. I already checked him in the front yard and got my bounty. I don't have nothing more to do with him."
Dean heard a crack of Apparition and Malfoy mutter to himself. "Get up, Thomas. I guess I have to deal with you after all."
Dean climbed to his feet awkwardly, the chains around his feet and wrists making it difficult. He followed Malfoy down a quiet hallway. "You look a little pale, Malfoy. What's the matter? Life not treating you well?"
Draco tugged on his chain, nearly sending Dean onto the floor. "Shut up! I'm trying to do you a favor. Right now, I'm the only one who knows about what you did to Hogwarts, and I'm working to hush it up before morning arrives. But it won't do any good if you wake everyone. With any luck, I can send you out to Azkaban without anyone knowing and they'll think you have already been interrogated."
"What's with the change of heart? I thought you hated people like me."
Draco smiled grimly. "My life is ruined and the only person who could have put it back to normal is dead. I disliked you, but that's nothing compared to how much I hate him."
He opened an iron gate. "Stay quiet and no one will know you are here."
Dean could see a small blonde figure curled up in the corner of the room. He knelt down next to her as Draco clicked the lock shut. On closer viewing, he recognized that it was Luna.
"Attention passengers, we will be arriving shortly," she mumbled in her sleep.
Dean gave her a poke when he heard Malfoy walk away. "Wake up."
A pair of large eyes opened and Luna gave a stretch as she sat up.
"Hello, Dean! I had an amazing dream. There were all of these people gathered in a room and they were telling the most wonderful stories. I even saw Harry's uncle there, the fat one with the giant moustache."
"Harry's uncle? What was he like?" He was relieved to see a familiar face, even though she was supposed to be in Hogwarts.
Luna tapped a finger to her chin as she contemplated his question quite seriously. "Fat."
"What are you doing here?"
"Daddy was printing things in The Quibbler but someone cracked the secret code. They took me away from Hogwarts because of it. Daddy stopped printing the paper, but they still don't know about the secret radio broadcasts."
Dean leaned against the stone wall and listened to the occasional drip of water that echoed down the hallway. The relief at seeing Luna's familiar face was beginning to fade and all that was left was listlessness and despair. "I'm a prisoner. I never thought this would be my life."
Luna crawled closer to him and gave Dean's hand a small pat. "A lady in the dream told me there was a storm going on right now and I shouldn't listen to what the thunder says. One day the skies will clear."
Irritation grew in Dean, tired of Luna's calm and irrationality and her stupid dream. "Then what am I supposed to listen to, the lightening?"
"Yes." He could see her smile in the dim light. "Why do you think Harry's scar was that shape?"
The anger dissipated after she spoke; he was too surprised by the connection she made. Dean wondered what it was like to be her, in which nonsensical statements had its own hidden meaning.
He wrapped his arms around his knees and stared at the wall once more. "I wish that someone would come and get us out. But nobody is going to rescue us."
"I know," replied Luna serenely. "Isn't that wonderful?"
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
It had taken him months to crack the code in the Quibbler. Theo had used the knowledge to prove his loyalty to the Dark Lord. No longer did he have to walk around Malfoy Manor with timid footsteps. As far as anyone knew, he was the face of Wizarding society's future. Not Malfoy, not Potter, him. It was a comfortable position which suited Theo well, especially since he used the code for his own gain before he handed it over.
The war was going badly, a tense stalemate of opposing parties. The only reason there was not a pit of bodies in the Thames River was because most people were in hiding. The sheer disdain the Dark Lord felt for everything that did not bear his mark was terrifying. Theo could see no future in this world and had used to code to send out a message, hoping to find Potter alive. Instead, he found Blaise and Daphne.
It was absurd how disappointed Theo had been, considering he had never been fascinated with Potter like others, viewing him as mundane and overhyped. But he knew that Potter would have at least heard him out. Blaise and Daphne had stunned him, trussed him up, and administered Veritiserum before he could even raise his hand in submission. It was only after a lengthy interrogation that they placed tenuous trust in him.
Theo walked along a street in London, making his way to a dark overpass. There wasn't much time to give out the information. In just a few minutes, the sun would set and it wouldn't be safe. No one was out in the dark anymore, not since the dementors had started to swarm.
"They've been caught," Theo said with little preamble to the two unrecognizable faces molded by Polyjuice Potion.
"Who?" asked the female, her austere tone recognizable in the shrill voice.
"All of them." Theo pressed a hand to his forehead as he recalled the incident earlier in the week. "The Dark Lord is talking about a public execution next month."
Blaise gave a bitter laugh. "It is not a surprise; they were trying to break into Hogwarts to find a way to get everyone out. It was only a matter of time before they were caught. What method does the Dark Lord plan to use? The killing curse? Dementor's kiss? Death by water? Dismemberment by giants?"
Theo couldn't help but noticing these few short months had turned them all into miserable cynics. He couldn't remember when the last time he had smiled. Blaise had given him the first sound of laughter in months, and even then it was a hollow sort of chuckle that was more despair than joy.
"Right now he is leaning towards a large display of power. The Killing curse is effective, but does not lend the sort of fear he would like to deliver. I expect it will be gruesome and painful."
"I suppose we have to rescue them."
Theo nodded to the both of them. "Good luck with that. I doubt I'll be able to contact you again before the execution. Just be cautious." He left Daphne and Blaise and made his way back to the grey streets of London.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Even though every chair was occupied, the Great Hall was largely silent. The only noise the clink of silverware as the students nibbled at the breakfast. Most of the teachers watched them from the staff table and ignored their own food. The exception to this rule were the Carrows, who were perfectly content to stuff their faces.
Even after eight months sitting in the Headmaster's chair, Snape found the seat uncomfortable as if it were made from stone. He had hoped he would be one day be recognized for his talents, but acquiring the post during the middle of a war was the best he could do. While the people were no longer in any direct danger, the Dark Lord was still in control of Hogwarts, and it was this fear that kept the rest of the populace from attacking.
The Dark Lord was even losing his influence on Azkaban. The dementors that had once guarded the cells had left, traveling the country in search of fresh souls. The Snatcher's responsible for capturing Muggleborns had started an illicit trade of their own, and were willing to free the prisoners for coin. When the Dark Lord had heard of this he had finally decided to take some action. Today, a public execution was scheduled, and everyone at the prison would take a portkey to the Hogwarts' lawn and be sentenced to death. The students were required to attend, with the belief that they would see the hopelessness of any resistance and submit willingly to the Dark Lord's new reign.
Snape was interrupted from his thoughts as a sparkly figure stepped through the doorway of the Great Hall.
"Sybil, what brings you here?" McGonagall stood up as the Divination professor approached.
"The fates have decreed…" she began wearily, but was unable to keep the mistiness in her voice. "My presence was mandatory."
The Carrows descended upon Trelawny as she approached. She spent most of her time in her tower and they were already twitching with excitement at new prey.
"Tell us a fortune," demanded Alecto as she wiped her mouth with her sleeve.
"Yes, is someone going to die today?"
They guffawed in amusement and Snape gave a thin smile to hide his disgust. There was something tantalizingly comforting about their provocation, a familiar memory of McGonagall's own derision of Trelawny's subject.
"All I have in my possession is a deck of tarot cards. They are not the most dependable of mediums." She withdrew the pack from her sleeves.
"A fortune," demanded Amycus. "Now."
She withdrew the deck from her pocket, dividing the cards and pulling out the first one from the deck. "Oooh, it appears we have the man of three staves."
"And what does that mean?"
"Someone has made a perilous journey and found success. He is strong, and has a ready understanding of teamwork, and respects his own virtues. Through his own success he will find the courage to lead others to their final destination."
Snape noticed that McGonagall was watching the scene with curiosity. Perhaps it really was the end of the world, that she was seeking comfort in such a flighty subject. Trelawny pulled out the next card from the deck and gasped in horror. The card fluttered from her hand as she fell to the ground and Snape knew what it was before it landed on the table.
It was the card of Death.
He heard the Carrows cackle with glee as McGonagall led Trelawney to a seat. Snape made his way out of the Great Hall with a determined walk. It was rather amusing that she had pulled out that card of all others. Unlike the Grim, and many other dire symbols in the field of Divination, the card of Death was not ominous. It meant rebirth, change.
Preparations had to be made.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Harry was many things: manipulative, clever, arrogant, prone to fits of insanity. One thing he never claimed to be was brave, despite his friends' assurances otherwise. To be a hero, Harry believed one needed a healthy dose of fear, a case of denial, and a pinch of stupidity. As such, Harry considered himself a coward of the best kind. It was hard to be scared of terrible things when the Endless were in the back of his mind. And why would he confront a challenge when one could go around it?
Rising from the ground after six months of inactivity left him weak. His body had become thin, and a short walk left him exhausted. The charms he had placed on his clothes had prevented his clothes from deteriorating. He still had his Invisibility Cloak, a small bag of money, and a few random knickknacks. The lion hat that Luna had given him was gone, but Harry was unsurprised. He Disapparated to the small inn he had stayed during the summer and spent a week recuperating, having difficulty with even the most basic of motor functions.
Using a fork was difficult enough, let alone writing something on paper. He was not fit to challenge the Dark Lord. Fortunately, Harry had tied up that loose end when he had made his decision. Rather than choose a world to fit his liking, Harry had stayed in the one he was familiar with and used the power leeched off the Endless to mold his future. And during that week in recovery, he had spent a great deal of time sleeping as he recovered. After one week, he resolved to put the final matter to rest and sought out Lord Morpheus of The Dreaming.
Harry found a magnificent castle and made his way up the steps to the door. The three beasts that guarded the door made no motion to stop him. Harry followed to corridors that opened, which led him to the open room where Dream sat at his throne.
"Why do you seek me? Your business with us has finished."
Harry nodded. "I know, but I still have one handful of sand and a Dark Lord to finish. I'll give him to you, but I need your help to get there."
When Harry awoke with some of his old strength restored. He ate quickly, knowing the mass execution was only an hour away, knowledge courtesy of Dream. He barely arrived in time at Hogsmeade to slip inside the secret passageway hidden behind Ariana's portrait. The school was eerily quite as he made his way down the familiar corridors, most of the students were already outside. Harry was under his Invisibility Cloak when the prisoners from Azkaban landed on the Hogwarts lawn.
There were over a hundred of people captured surrounded by dementors, and Harry was chagrined to realize that over half of them were his friends. They were tied to a giant metal wheel with strong chains binding them together. As Harry understood it, they were to be drowned in the lake together as the heavy wheel pulled them to their watery deaths. It didn't take a genius to realize that it would be an unsuccessful attempt. The giant squid was powerful enough to keep the wheel afloat on its own. The mermaid community would probably take action when they realized that something was going on. But Lord Voldemort had probably forgotten that the lake was alive with its own creatures, beings that were beneath him.
Harry walked closer to the chained prisoners and the gathered students as Voldemort began to speak. He could see that Hermione had been chewing at her lip from nervousness. He could see that Draco had gone ridiculously pale as he had begun to sleep in the day and wake at night. He could see the way Theo kept touching at his pocket, as if there was something important that he was hiding.
Voldemort's voice changed into a more exultant tone and Harry knew that it was time to act. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the silk bag. The sand still smelled of something odd, of rain and storms. He raised the sand in his fingertips just as a strong gust of wind and scattered it onto the observing crowd.
Harry did not see the determination that began to fill their eyes nor the way they gripped their wands. He was too busy making his way to a secluded spot in the forest. But he did hear them all cry as one, the magic word.
And he heard the chains that held the prisoners together snap open. And he heard the inhuman shriek of rage from Lord Voldemort. Harry heard the screaming, and the chants of spells as the exhaustion began to take over him. The sand from Dream was just enough of an impetus to get them to act, enough hope when all they had felt was fear. He turned around to see Voldemort flying through the sky to the Hogwarts gates and Theo Nott handing out wands he had brought with him. But his eyelids grew too heavy, and Harry collapsed into the ground. He closed his eyes and when he opened them once more, he was in a new room.
Harry gave a small smile as he looked at room he was in. He had wanted a prison, a place where Voldemort could stay without being in the waking world and Dream had obliged. The room had seven sides. Six of those sides each had a different window, and the final one had a door. He sat down on the floor and waited. It wasn't long before he heard a crack as Voldemort Apparated into the room.
Harry saw the flicker of surprise on Voldemort's face of his foreign surroundings. But that display of emotion was nothing compared to the anger when he caught sight of Harry.
"You," he hissed. "Impossible!"
Harry smirked. "Improbable. Unlikely. But not impossible."
"I killed you," Voldemort said with absolute certainty. "You were dead."
"I was." Harry gave a shrug as he stood up. "Now I'm not."
"It is an unfortunate situation which can be easily remedied." He withdrew his wand and pointed it at Harry. "Aveda Kedavra!"
"Nice try," said Harry as he stared directly in Voldemort's blood red eyes. "Magic doesn't work in here."
Voldemort's nostrils flared. "What do you speak of, Potter? How is this?"
Harry smiled; pleased he had shaken Voldemort with this unexpected turn of events. "Well, magic works when you are in the world and right now, you're not. We are somewhere in between, like that misty place right before waking, or that squeezing sensation when one Apparates." He leaned against the smooth wall. "That is how you got here by the way. You Apparated away from your losing battle at Hogwarts and you never finished before you were captured by the Endless. As far as the world is concerned, you have disappeared. "
"What nonsense do you speak of Potter?"
Harry cocked his head to the side, noticing how Voldemort gripped his wand as if it still mattered and his frightful appearance that portrayed his disconnect with humanity. "The universe doesn't like you and it wants to show you how very small you are."
He saw a thin smile rise to Voldemort's lips and it was followed by a cold laugh. "Potter, I am the most powerful wizard ever, the most daring and I of all people have managed to conquer death-"
"You think you won against Death!" Harry exclaimed. "I crawled out of my own grave site, covered in mud after six months and I still haven't won. You didn't win; you wandered as a weak spirit for several powerless years because of your Horcruxes." Voldemort's eyes widened slightly.
"Oh yes, I know about them, why do you think I went after Nagini?" Harry shook his head. "You like to think you mean something beyond this tiny window of time. Well, I have news. You don't. The time and space which you occupy mean so little to the universe that the only thing it needed to fix your great deeds was me."
"You irritate me. I hate you and most of my life has been shaped with the sole purpose of defeating you. And I have." Harry opened his arms as he displayed the room they were in.
Voldemort stared at him and then his lips curved into a smile. "You haven't won yet, Potter. I am still alive."
"I said defeated. I don't want to kill you; I want to make you suffer." His hands felt clammy and his heart thundered in his chest. "I decided to give you the privilege of a choice. One simple choice: live here or die."
"I will escape this place," Voldemort sneered. "You cannot force me to stay here."
Harry nodded as he circled his enemy, making his way to door. "I know you can escape this place; that is what is so brilliant about it. I told you, we are not in a world. There is no magic, no external forces, nothing but you and your choice." He caressed the frame with his hands
"On the other side of this door, there is a woman waiting. Some call her sister, back in the day it was Teleute, and now people have taken to calling her the Grim Reaper. Death is waiting for you on the other side of this door, and the Horcruxes you have made won't be enough to stop it. Because when you open this door you walk right into her arms. You can walk out whenever you want. I'll be going myself; you can follow if you want." Harry gave a cruel smile. "But I know you won't."
"You're lying," said Voldemort, his red eyes narrowed and his body shaking in anger.
"Mmm.. think what you like. You can stay here in this room for all of eternity if you wish. You don't need food or water to stay alive; the Horcruxes take care of that. But you won't have company, you won't have relevance, and you won't have power. Or you can walk through the door."
Lord Voldemort approached in Harry anger, the emotion thundering through his veins. He may not have magic, but he could strangle the boy with his bare hands. But the boy wrenched the door open and flung himself on the other side, the door slamming shut behind him. Voldemort placed his hand on the doorknob to follow and withdrew it back quickly. When he touched the door, he heard whispers, the same kind that had called out from the veil in the Ministry.
He stared at the door in suspicion. He was uncertain if Potter's words were true, and he doubted that the boy had power to do as he said. But then again, he knew he had killed Potter. He had buried the body in the earth and hexed him to see blood drip from the wound. He waited.
Eventually, his curiosity caused him to reach for one of the six windows. The first one had a soft velvet curtain that shuddered at his touch. He pushed the velvet material aside to see a pedestal through the glass window. Upon the pedestal was a cup, a crown, a necklace and he recognized the objects.
It is him, a part of him that is familiar and almost warm and it is on the other side of the glass. It taunts him. It was his at one point at time and he wants it back. He wants it back so much; he aches to have it back. Heat rises in his chest and crawls down his limbs, need overcoming his thinking. The glass before him fogs and he presses his hands against the glass to clear his view. But the steam is on the other side and he cannot wipe it away. He presses his hand on the glass, his fingernails grating against the glass and he wails in anger. He must see, he must have, he must…
And his hands act of their own volition to pull the curtain shut. Voldemort's hands shake as he clenched the material. He did not care for the emotion that took over him.
On the other side of the curtain, Desire is laughing with amusement. Tom Riddle is in her grasp and he cannot escape. And then it walks down the long hallway as another thought occurs to her and she leaves Voldemort and the Horcruxes behind. She walks to the heart of The Threshold and she will not return to him. Already, Desire has forgotten of Lord Voldemort.
Voldemort proceeded for the next window which is covered in a white dingy curtain. He moved it aside and the world twisted and turned and bright lights shined in his eyes.
He is making his way to a girl, one who towers above him like a mountain. Her hands reach toward him.
"Hello, Tommy!" The girl says as she bends down and presses a kiss on the window pane. "You look so much nicer than you did when I first met you." Voldemort is aghast that someone dares to reach for him in such a manner, but he sees the moment again through different eyes.
"Hello, froggy!" The girl says as she bends down to pick him up and presses a kiss on his cheek. "You look so much nicer than you did when I first met you." Her head tilts to the side." I think I like you better this way."
He tries to pull away and he is torn for a moment, trying to remember if he is man or frog. He smells alcohol from her lips as she pulled him close to give him another kiss and the curtains in his hands wrap around him in an effort to embrace him.
Voldemort freed himself from the curtains as he lands on the floor, brushing down his robes. The effects of his temporary madness are still in him and He makes his way to a new window (and new punishment) without pause. He picked one that is covered with a curtain that goes from ceiling to the floor. Designs were stitched in silver thread that decorated it like stars. Lord Voldemort swept aside the curtain to see a child on a chair.
It was a boy about the age of nine. He was clutching a book in his hand, and ignoring the sunny weather outside. Voldemort was peering into the boy's home, observing the home with omniscient eyes.
"Jasper, it's time for dinner." The boy's head nodded slightly as he heard his mother, but did not respond. There is a noise as a back door opens and another child enters. This one was older and clutched a broomstick in his hands.
"Hey, are you going to eat or what?" The brother asked as he kicks off his shoes.
Jasper raised his head and puts his book down.
Lord Voldemort, from his place on the other side of the window, could see the cover. Harry Potter, A History.
The children sit at down at the kitchen table and carry on a normal day. The eldest, a boy called Stephen, argued with his mother over school assignments. Jasper was silent and seemed content to stare out the window and daydream. The mother shook her head and went outside.
"Make certain to eat all of your vegetables," she said. "I have to prune a few of the plants outside."
Stephen scowled as he looked at his plate full of broccoli and sprouts. And then a coy smile came across his face.
"Jasper," he said. "How do you like the story of Harry Potter?" The tone of deviousness is too apparent to someone like Lord Voldemort and he marveled that a child so obvious exists.
"It's amazing. Did it really happen?"
Stephen nodded. "Yup, fifteen years ago."
"Wow." Jasper moved his broccoli to the side and ate some more meatloaf.
"Eat your vegetables, Jasper" his brother commanded, "unless you want Voldemort to come after you."
"What?" The fork fell from Jasper's hand. "What do you mean?"
Stephen's eyes widened. "Oh, you haven't reached the end yet? Harry Potter cursed Lord Voldemort so he couldn't go after anyone anymore. But you have to make sure you eat enough vegetables or he's going to think you're dead and come after you anyway."
Jasper frowned as he looked at his brother. "I don't believe you."
His brother shrugged dramatically. "Fine. Just don't come running to me if he attacks you in the middle of the night."
Jasper stared at his vegetables and began to stuff them in his mouth.
"You know, if your worried could always have mine too." Stephen held out his plate to his brother. "I don't want you to get hurt."
"But then, Lord Voldemort would go after you!" Jasper didn't think he could handle losing his brother.
Stephen smile as he tipped the vegetables on his brother's plate. "Nah, don't worry about me. I'm going into my third year of Salem Academy. I know enough magic to scare him away."
Lord Voldemort withdrew in anger. How insulting to be reduced to a childhood monster, as if he couldn't attack the boy! He raised his wand and uttered a curse, but nothing happened. Then he slammed his fists against the glass, the pounding echoed in his ears, but the children paid no attention and continued to eat. Voldemort tugged at the curtain in rage and began to pace around the room. Anger burned in his veins and he cursed Potter's name and gripped his wand tighter.
Eventually, the anger dulled and curiosity took hold once more. He picked at the window that was shuttered. It took quite some time for Voldemort to remove open it, and when he did he promptly snapped it back shut.
It took only a second for the image to burn in his brain, the feeling of fire, heat, and power that never ended. A star was collapsing on the other side of the universe and no one cared. It was a swirling mass of energy that whirled through time without control. Lord Voldemort did not like feeling small.
The fifth window had a small tattered curtain with many holes but the moisture prevented Voldemort from seeing inside. He raised his arm to remove the fog to see inside a misty room. He saw several rats scamper across the floor and their chatters. And then a figure emerged, on that was grey and squat. He doesn't know how long he stood there holding the tattered frayed curtains, but he was vaguely aware that he has started screaming.
When he finally regained control of himself, he was on the ground. His throat was raw with pain, but there was no water to ease the dryness. Voldemort climbed to his feet shakily and made his way to the last window.
It was square and unremarkable, the curtains smelled old and dusty. And when he looked out of the window he saw a path. It was a twisted and complicated road that intersected with many others. It was dark, and difficult to see exactly what was going on. Ghostly figures wandered across his window and then disappeared. No one looked in his direction; they lived their lives free from his presence.
Lord Voldemort is in a hell of Harry's own vision. He sought to be free from the Endless, but Harry has given Voldemort to them.
He is destruction's hand, a blast of power that brings change and new life. Voldemort is hate, the bittersweet side of love. He brings misery and forces people together so they are not alone. The insanity he spread brought clarity and entwined the paths of those who, in another life, might not have met at all. His is the villain, the villain from the story you have read. And yet, for all of his power, he has none. The effects of Voldemort's actions are already fading, becoming memories of a past time. Trapped in between worlds, Lord Voldemort's presence vanishes like dreams upon waking.
Lord Voldemort clutches his wand, staring at Death's door. The curiosity has already begun to gnaw at him.
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Harry slammed the door behind him. The rage in Voldemort was palpable and he nearly expected the Dark Lord to wretch the door open and come after him. But the door stayed shut. Harry made his way down the cold marble hallway and he stopped when he thought he heard something. Perhaps it was a whisper of some kind, but there was no one around. He had almost reached to door at the end of the hall when it opened.
"There you are Harry," said Death. She was wearing an elaborate black ball gown and her hair was pulled up and pinned with three violet flowers. There was a paper fan in her hand.
Harry rubbed at his clammy hands. "Where were you?"
"At a fancy dress party." She folded the fan in her hand and tucked it inside one of her gloves. "There was a man who drank too much wine and he forgot to order an item without shellfish."
"Oh." He turned awkwardly as he pointed to the door at the other end. "I've finished."
"How long will Voldemort be in there?"
"For more time than a moon and less than a star," Death replied. "However, you don't need to worry about that since it is no longer your problem." She ushered him inside the room.
Harry saw several comfortable chairs and a table that had two fish in a bowl. One was rather fat and the other was small and they were both swimming in a lazy circle. He reached forward to grab the fish food and tapped some into their bowl.
"That is Slim and Wandsworth," Death said as she removed the flowers from her hair and the curls tumbled down to her neck.
He bent down to get a better look at the fish as they gobbled up the food. "I'm guessing the fat one is named Slim."
"That's right." She laughed. "You know, I reallylike you."
"I'm going to miss you," Harry whispered, still staring at the fish.
"No, I'm afraid you won't." Death tugged at his arm and forced him to face her. "You'll forget soon enough, that's the way it had to be. Otherwise, we will be right back where we started." Death's brushed a few strands on his forehead to the side, her nail scraping alone the scar hidden there. "You'll be just like everyone else, and that's what you have always wanted. I know that about you."
Harry gave a shaky smile as he walked over to the door. He could see the sky from the window and was relieved to see it looked like pleasant weather outside. "Goodbye."
"I'll be seeing you, Harry." She gave another one of her gentle smiles and Harry was filled with an insane want to stay with her.
Harry turned the handle abruptly before he could act and stepped out of her realm. The floor disappeared from underneath him. All he could see was the wide blue sky as he fell, a moment that lasted for an eternity. Then he landed on the ground with the prickly grass underneath him, back on earth. Harry sat up and the sound of wings filled his ears. A flock of birds was climbing into the sky. He watched them turn into tiny dots in before he looked around at his surroundings.
He was in the graveyard of Godric's Hollow, for the tombstone of Ignotus Peverelle was in front of him. Already the memories of the Endless were beginning to fade from his thoughts. He did not think of Despair in her realm, of Dream on his throne, of Desire and its cruel smile. He thought of his friends and the lie he would weave upon his return.
The story came to his mind easily. He had been captured, and forced to live with the knowledge of his failure as Voldemort taunted him. He was to be the last death in a mass execution, and when Voldemort died, he had been freed. They didn't need to know of the nightmares, broken hearts, and a room full of possibility. Perhaps he would even be kind and keep that promise to Draco, suggested that Dumbledore planned to die all along.
Harry thought he heard laughter behind him as he left the gravesite, but saw no one around.
He did not see Delirium, who was perched upon the headstone. But she saw him and she sees You and she smiles in her terrible way.
"I had great fun and I hope you did too. Bye, bye," she says with a wave.
Harry walks down the cemetery road of Godric's Hollow and wonders of his future. Perhaps he will become a dragon tamer or a world traveler. He wonders if he will love anyone and he thinks of dark hair and a kind smile and thinks that no one could compare. But the memory slips through his fingertips like sand and the thought is gone.
Harry exits the cemetery and steps into life.
I have heard the languages of the apocalypse, and now I shall embrace the silence.