Disclaimer: I don't own 'The Punisher' franchise, or the name. I don't own anything from Harry Potter. I am in no way profiting from writing this story.
A/N: This is, in no way, connected to The Punisher franchise, comic-books, games, or movies. It only uses the identity, symbol, name and the title – nothing more.
Throughout history, there have been many 'avengers', vigilantes, rebels and criminals who live above the law to do what they call "the right thing". The law is petty – politics fickle. It changes from age to age. From one country to another, from one man to another, a murder could be reasoned as necessary, tortures could be justified, rebellions deemed morally wrong and the true thing, the right thing, will be debated, stamped on, hidden from view, or closed off forever.
The magical world, in particular the wizarding civilisation, is yet another one of those places where politics change, where light and dark dissolve into grey, and where good and evil become merely flimsy words used in an attempt to reason with the crooked and the greedy. The wizarding civilisation is, to say the least, corrupted. Insurgent groups, such as the Death Eaters, run rampant while the good are powerless to do anything. Another non-sanctified group of vigilantes, who call themselves "The Order of the Phoenix", are committed to stopping him, yet their members are comprised entirely of a ragtag bunch of magical folk from different sects of wizarding society, led by a senile and delusional old man who has a fetish for muggle sweets and is blinded by his own reasoning of justice. What, then, is "justice"? Yet again, it is another flimsy word used to satisfy personal agendas and personify greed and corruption. Gold is the only thing that matters, in this day and age of the magical world – those who wield gold, wield power. Therefore, in the wizarding world, there is no good and no evil, no retributive justice, no rehabilitative justice (as Dementors do prevent any chance of rehabilitation) and no true justice.
In the midst of it all, is one Harry Potter, and what he has accomplished. Although his methods are brutal, can anyone deny their results? Perhaps once it was a personal vendetta, but this would only mean that Mr. Potter was a vigilante, and it would be almost blasphemy to call him a mere vigilante. It would mean associating him with terrorists and rebels.
No, Harry Potter is in a league of his own. For he surpassed the vendetta and the anger, and never once used revenge as a means to justify his actions, as many do. Even if he did, his actions would be forgivable – after all, he is a man who has lost so much but decided to get even. But no. He was never an avenger.
This was not about revenge. It was about punishment.
The night was truly one of the darkest and quietest nights of the decade, ever since the nights experienced in the peace between the First and Second wizard wars.
Death Eaters employed guerilla-type raids often – their random attacking patterns and wild and unpredictable tactics made them fearsome opponents. Combined with the considerable magical prowess of such Inner Circle Death Eaters like Bellatrix Lestrange or Lucius Malfoy, this served to generate wide-spread fear and provoke emotional responses from the general wizarding public. There was no logic to their attacks, and whenever there was logic, such as an objective or goal, there was rarely ever time for Aurors or the Order of the Phoenix to respond.
But even as thousands of wizards and witches slept peacefully across the country, there was a distinctive tension in the air. It was thick, like charged energy, as if something was going to happen, something gigantic, something immense. Something that would change the whole course of the war.
The quietness of the night was suddenly broken by the quick scurrying of shoes moving rapidly across the ground. The trails in the dirt were clear although there was no one there, suggesting a disillusionment charm or invisibility cloak.
In a location a fair distance to where this was taking place, just off the coast on a small island that was invisible to prying eyes, a man was woken up by the shrill sound of beeping.
He quickly got up, walking across the bare wooden ground to check his computer, where a window had suddenly popped up with a red warning icon on it.
His grim, dark emerald eyes became grimmer as he narrowed them. The man closed the window and straightened up before doing a few quick press-ups and sit-ups.
He was only dressed in trunks. Although his body was intensely muscular, it showed numerous scars and fading bruises. The man hardly looked at them these days – they were old history, after all.
Walking across to the cabinet, the man punched in a four-digit code on the keypad before it beeped affirmatively and opened with a mechanical click. He pulled out a set of black combat fatigues and put them on, before pulling out padded torso armour and pushed it over his head, adjusting it slightly as the man grabbed his boots and socks and sat down on the bed to put them on.
His thick torso armour was also black, but unlike his fatigues, there was a prominently displayed white skull emblazoned across the front. It had taken him quite a while to figure out an appropriate symbol, but the man felt it fitting that a bringer of Death would be most well-remembered with the most commonly associated image with Death – the skull. It would certainly make an impact, and he doubted that it would be forgotten any time, either. The Dark Mark was frankly pathetic – it paled in comparison to this, and the man would make sure of that.
He finished putting on his boots, and pulled out several necessary items from the steel closets and cabinets across from him, strapping them to his clothing in several places. He made a brief trip to the armory to grab several weapons, strapped several bandoliers of bullets and knives around him before walking across to the desk to pick up the miniature model of a skull. He whispered the password before feeling a tug on his navel and disappearing as the skull flashed blue.
He reappeared in a field in the middle of a suburban area, a place where he guessed muggles resided. He cocked his M16A3 and began to walk as he cast a disillusionment charm on himself.
Exactly two hundred metres ahead, underneath an Invisibility Cloak, Lucius Malfoy was baffled. The Dark Lord had sent him to retrieve a muggle-born witch – alive and unharmed.
Although he was at first confused, he made the foolish mistake of questioning the Dark Lord's orders, and his muscles were still aching from the after-effects of the Cruciatus curse. The Dark Lord was sure to have a reason for this, as such orders were completely against his doctrines.
Just like they had done in the last few raids, since Lucius was the leading Death Eater he was the one to fire the first spell.
Standing in front of the large suburban house, Lucius knew this would be quick and easy, as the house was much more isolated and further away from the rest of the suburb. "Confringo!" he yelled, flinging off his invisibility cloak and aiming his wand as he fired the spell.
The blasting spell tore through the wall of the house, punching a large hole into its structure as the wood splintered and shattered.
In a smooth, simultaneous motion, each of the Death Eaters pulled off their invisibility cloaks and charged in, firing hexes and curses to add to the total chaos as they poured into the large hole.
Inside, Lucius looked at the muggle family in disgust. The pitiful muggle father stood protectively in front of his daughter and wife in one corner of the room, shielding them with his arms.
As the Death Eaters filed into the living room, the father looked at them shakily before gulping – after all, who wouldn't be scared if men with silver masks, tall pointed hats and black robes blew a hole in your house? "W-Who are you all?"
Lucius managed a sneer behind his mask. "Take the girl and keep her down here – the Dark Lord specified that she is NOT to be harmed in any way."
There was a series of groans and sighs in the group of Death Eaters behind him. Lucius knew how they felt – this wasn't the first time the Dark Lord had specified for them not to harm a captive, although it was usually for a reason. However…this mudblood filth… "Stun the mother and father," Lucius drawled, "so that we can have our fun upstairs."
As the Death Eaters began to move forward excitedly, Lucius then pointed to two random ones. "You two – stay down here and guard the girl!"
"But sir," one of them stammered disappointedly, "Would it not be easier just to stun her?"
Lucius also thought that this was much more useful. However, the Dark Lord had specified for her to be completely unharmed, and the unvoiced threat was clear. "No."
"Are you questioning the direct orders of the Dark Lord?" Lucius asked coldly.
The Death Eater shrunk back. "N-No…"
"Then you will do as you are told," Lucius said before casually stunning the two parents, levitating them into the air as he walked up the stairs with a smirk on his face, similarly mirrored by the other Death Eaters. It was time for them to have their fun…
"This is preposterous!" the Death Eater proclaimed as he began to play with his wand. Both of them stayed standing, their heads turned towards the direction of the muggle-born witch, who now lay there with her face in her hands, trying to stay strong and control her choking sobs. "Why do we have to watch the filthy mudblood without getting a chance to play with her?"
"You heard Lucius," the second Death Eater warned. "The Dark Lord said that she was to be completely unharmed."
"Don't question the Dark Lord's orders! I heard the last one who did ended up spending a night with Bellatrix Lestrange!"
Both Death Eaters shivered at the thought of the insane witch. It was rumoured her ability at torture was on par with that of the Dark Lord's, and in some areas, excelled.
"But still…" the Death Eater looked at the witch like a fat person would look at a tender piece of roast steak. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind…it's not like we're going to do anything…permanent, after all."
"And what do you suggest?"
"Well, it has been a while since I saw my fiancé, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind…"
"But…" the Death Eater was suddenly silenced as horrific screams started to emanate from the ceiling. "Are you sure Lucius would agree?"
"What Lucius knows won't hurt…URK!" The Death Eater gave a splutter as a Ka-Bar fighting knife ripped across his throat. He stumbled backwards in shock as the long gash let out a long river of thick blood before falling to the floor, blood seeping into the carpets.
Before the second Death Eater could do anything, the black-clad man appeared, and raised a silenced Colt M1911A2, squeezing the trigger. The hollow-point bullet went straight through his head and shattered the back of his skull as he slammed down, brain tissue and blood oozing out onto the floor.
The man turned to regard the sobbing witch as his expression softened. Bending down so that he was at her height, he said softly, "I'm sorry you had to see that. While you be alright down here by yourself?"
The girl had wanted to scream as the man killed both of them, but had been too much in shock from the shrill screams of her mother and father. Now, she tried to force down the bulge in her throat as she managed out, "Y-Yes."
"Where's your wand?" the man asked, again in his soft tone of voice.
"On the dinner table," the witch replied shakily.
"Grab it, and wait for me down here. I'll go save your mum and dad." The man stood up, pulling his M16A3 off his back and cocking it. He grabbed his M203 grenade launcher and slid a flashbang canister into it, and snapped it onto the rifle with a mechanical click. Once he had checked the chamber and cocked it, he closed his eyes briefly and steadied his breathing, just like he had been taught before hoisting the rifle up into position as he adopted a cautious rifle stance, creeping up the stairs with his finger on the trigger.
The screams coming from the second floor were almost deafening. The man supposed that they were opening with Cruciatus curses as a warm-up before beginning, although he himself never bothered to "warm-up" with a torture, although his torture was more aimed at extracting useful information, not deriving some sort of sadistic pleasure. That was usually reserved for the weak-willed Death Eater looking for some way to gain dominance after being tortured by Riddle – real men didn't need torture to somehow assert themselves.
The screams were coming from the door directly to his right. The man pulled out a thin fibre-optic cable, threading it through the keyhole as he connected it to his PDA.
As the image showed up on the screen in a new window, the man adjusted it, memorising the positions of all the Death Eaters. This was a fairly small group, suggesting that Riddle desired this to stay quiet – however, Death Eaters never really liked to do things quietly.
The man quickly assessed his options before deciding that a direct and fast approach was best. He didn't want to endanger the lives of the parents, after all.
Quickly, the man brought his foot up and slammed down the door with one mighty kick, and followed it up in one smooth motion as he fired the flashbang from his M203.
The canister ejected and made contact with the ground as the man stepped behind the cover of the doorframe and held his ears tightly.
A deafening bang thundered through the room, followed by several blinding flashes of light. The man whirled around and stormed into the room, finger locked onto the trigger as he fired in quick bursts, taking down most of the Death Eaters inside.
One of them managed to quickly regain his bearings and aimed his wand – however the man was faster. He centred the sights and fired a short burst.
Even if the wizard had managed to start an incantation, five 5.56x45 mm rounds that could break the speed of sound would have quickly silenced him. The bullets tore through his head, turning it into a bloody mass of flesh as he fell, his wand clattering uselessly to the ground.
Another Death Eater managed to ignore the screeching sound in his ears and raised his wand. "Avada…AGH!"
The man spun around, slamming his butt into the man's face before firing, point-blank into his chest.
He spun around and finished the final Death Eater as he dropped his now-empty M16A3 rifle, flicking his hand and slashing the man in the stomach with another Ka-Bar fighting knife, twisting it before withdrawing.
The dark wizard gasped, looking at his stomach in revulsion and shock as blood and guts slowly spilt out. He dropped his wand, crumpling onto the floor as he tried to hold in the flow of blood.
The man withdrew a sawed-off Remington 870 shotgun, pointing it in Lucius's face as the blonde-haired pureblood was in the middle of raising his wand. "Try it," he said coldly.
Slowly and reluctantly, Lucius dropped his wand, raising his hands in defeat.
"So, Lucius Malfoy – give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you," the man said.
Lucius pulled off his mask in shock. "How could you possibly have recognised me?" he gasped.
"I recognised your foul stench when I was brought on board," the man said, then gave off a harsh bark-like laugh.
Lucius stared at this madman with fear and terror in his eyes, despite trying to manage a cool composure. "Who are you? Who are you working for?"
"Si vis pacem, para bellum," the man quoted. "If you want peace, prepare for war. I want peace – and you are standing in the way of peace."
Lucius's eyes widened. "What do you want? Power? Money? I can give it to you! Tell me, and I'll give it to you!"
"What I want…" the man said darkly as he leaned into Lucius's face. "What I want…is your master's head. On a pike."
"How dare you! The Dark Lord will…" Lucius choked on his words as the man wrapped his gloved fingers around his throat and slammed him into the wall.
"Let me get this straight," the man snarled. "You are in no position to make any snide remarks. I hold all the cards now, and if I were you, I'd shut the hell up right now."
Lucius nodded frantically as he began to slowly turn blue.
The man carelessly tossed the Death Eater aside like he was a ragdoll before turning to the parents, making sure to snap Lucius's wand as he walked across.
Their torture had caused them to go into unconsciousness. The man couldn't see any physical wounds, and they hadn't been under Cruciatus long enough for insanity, so he saw no reason to stay.
He picked a wand up off the floor and poked it out the window. "Mosmordre!"
As the Dark Mark appeared, he then did some complicated wand movements and added his own special touch, triggered when someone stepped into a certain radius.
He turned around and walked back down the stairs, retrieving his M16 rifle and slinging it onto his back, sticking his sawed-off shotgun into his heavy trench coat.
The girl at the bottom of the stairs shrieked as she spun around, her wand pointed frantically at the man before she realised it was him and lowered it, her eyes still bloodshot from crying. "Are my mum and dad okay?" she asked in a whispery tone.
"They're unconscious, but fine," the man replied assuredly. "Now before anyone gets here, I want to ask you something: Why were the Death Eaters after you? Why did they want to capture you unharmed?"
"Professor Dumbledore said that I was the one to defeat You-Know-Who," she said shakily. "He said that I had a power that he didn't know about that meant I could defeat him."
The man narrowed his eyes. "What year are you, anyway? When's your birthday?"
"I-I just finished my first year…um…thirty-first of July. Why do you want to know?" the girl asked, adjusting her slightly-too-big glasses.
"And what about your parents?" the man questioned. "What do they do?"
"They're not magical… but Professor Dumbledore said…" she gave a yelp as several pops sounded from outside.
The man looked apologetic. "Sorry, but I have to get going now." He spun around, jogging up the stairs to grab Lucius's body before pulling the miniature skull out of his pocket. He uttered another password as the skull glowed blue and he vanished to a different location.
"Wait!" the fragile witch cried as she ran up the stairs, only to see an empty hallway. "I never got to say thank you…" realising that her parents were in the bedroom to the right, she quickly ran in to see how they were.
The man reappeared in an underground chamber that stretched out in an intricate series of tunnels and hallways.
He had explored every inch of the labyrinth, and had completely closed off all entrances – bar a few, although it was highly unlikely that anyone would discover those. Almost impossible, perhaps, given the amount of precautions that he had taken.
Aside from using the labyrinth to store supplies, which were charmed to stay fresh, and weaponry, the ancient labyrinth housed a very useful torture chamber…
He had refined it and honed it to cater for his tastes, and now it carried everything that he needed to extract useful information.
The man strapped Lucius to the steel table, chains charmed to be unbreakable as he grabbed a bucket and filled it up with cold water from the tap, bringing it above Lucius's head and tipping it. "Rise and shine, Malfoy!"
The pureblood spluttered and coughed as he opened his eyes. "You!" he hissed venomously. "Just you wait! The Dark Lord will…"
"…Never come for you," the man finished as he walked across and picked up certain…instruments from a cabinet. "You see, Death Eater…" he growled the title like it was a curse, "your precious Voldemort is nothing. He is weak, pathetic, and a mere schoolyard bully. He hides behind his followers and lets them do the dirty work." He took off his trench coat and gloves, and put on a white coat and plastic surgical gloves.
"Who are you?" Lucius snarled. "To dare sully the name of the Dark Lord?"
The man gave a dark smirk, raising up his hair to reveal a recognisable lightning-bolt scar on his head.
Lucius's eyes widened. "Potter! But you're…"
"Dead." The man stated coldly, picking up a bunch of stainless steel instruments and putting them on a table beside Lucius's body. "Harry Potter died in Azkaban, just as you all believe. I am the man the remains." He looked at Lucius, a dark and sinister glint in his dull green eyes. "I am the Punisher."
"…We're completely baffled, Albus," Remus said as the two of them walked to the front lawn of the house. "We came here, and when we went in, all the Death Eaters were dead. Miss Smith talked about a man who came here and killed them all, then disappeared."
Albus Dumbledore was a man who prided himself on his knowledge.
He didn't like to be kept in the dark. He liked to be the one in control, the one who could predict his opponent's moves, the invisible chess-master. Tom Riddle was, at first, predictable, up to the Department of Mysteries. But then…
The elder wizard shook his head. It would do no good to remember the past. "Is Miss Smith unharmed?" he asked softly as they looked at the torn bodies which had been pulled out of the house and were being dumped together into a large pit.
Remus nodded grimly. "A bit shaken, that's all. Her parents are being treated now, but it's nothing major – they were under the Cruciatus curse, so a few nights at St. Mungo's and they'll be back to full health."
Albus smiled at this briefly, before it disappeared. He was attempting to set her up as the Child of the Prophecy, but it was proving more difficult than he imagined. "And Miss Smith?"
"Being kept at the headquarters," Remus replied.
Indeed, it was much more difficult than he imagined. Especially her parents, being muggles, but it seemed that they had inadvertently defied him three times beforehand.
It seemed that the father, Tom Smith used to be a policeman and had on three occasions, defied Voldemort by rescuing three important Ministry officials separately, however amazing it seemed. The coincidence was immense and impossible to ignore – especially as the mother was a nurse and had tended to their wounds. So it seemed that Miss Cindy Smith was the Child of the Prophecy, and not the recently deceased Harry Potter, nor Neville Longbottom.
All she needed now was the mark…which Albus was sure Voldemort would do unintentionally, if she was captured, like he had planned for her to be. Whatever she underwent would be small sacrifices for the greater good, he was sure.
But this man…Albus looked up at the massive white skull looming over the Dark Mark. It hovered over it threateningly, like it was planning to devour it. This man, whoever he was, was jeopardising Voldemort's downfall. The last he needed was a vigilante, a wild card, and Albus needed to seek him out and neutralise him quickly.
"…Torture is a fine art," the Punisher said fondly as he began to wash his syringes and chakra tools. "The art form is not to actually cause as much pain as possible in the most unique ways, but to do so, while keeping the person alive."
Lucius gulped. "What is it you want, Potter?"
"I am THE PUNISHER!" the warrior roared, slamming his fist on the table.
"Punisher," Lucius corrected quickly. "What is it you want? Revenge? I can…"
"Revenge is not a valid motive," the Punisher replied coldly as he looked at Lucius's body, attempting to decide where to begin. His gaze was reminisce of a butcher looking at a chunk of meat. "It is an emotional response. This is not vengeance. This is punishment."
The Punisher picked up several twisted looking knives. "I'm particularly fond of knives. They have a wide range of uses, and I believe that we'll start with one…" he picked a thin knife up with a curved blade. "This is the starter course. We'll start to know each other better, although you'll be very hesitant." The Punisher walked across and picked up a chainsaw, starting it up as the whirring noise echoed through the chamber. "The main course. You'll slowly start to tell me little things, which you don't tell anyone else. There'll be other things, of course…" The Punisher's gaze fell onto the chakra tools before it returned to Lucius's frightened face. "And then, the finisher…" the Punisher turned off the chainsaw and put it to one side as he picked up a blowtorch.
"Dear Merlin…" Lucius breathed.
"I'll become your best friend. You'll tell me all your secrets, secrets you wouldn't tell anyone else." That sinister glint appeared again in his emerald eyes. "Two thousand degrees, Lucius. Enough to turn steel into butter." He gave off a harsh, barking laugh. "It won't hurt at first. It's too hot, you see? The flame sears the nerve endings shut, killing them. You'll go into shock, and all you'll feel is cold. Isn't muggle science fun?"
"You're sick, Potter!"
"I SAID I AM THE PUNISHER!" the Punisher boomed, his voice thundering through the labyrinth like a storm. "I could always just use Veritaserum, but what's the fun in that? You see, Lucius, it's finally here, justice is finally here. For all your crimes, you are going to be punished…"