It was early morning. The sun rose blood red, many had died during the night. Too many. Their lifeless bodies were scattered around the Quidditch pitch and Forbidden Forest. But still the battle waged. The entire war had culminated in this one battle. The Final Battle. To the victor went the spoils; the Wizarding world. It all came down to two people. Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, and Harry Potter.
The survivors of the last fifteen hour battle crowded round the two wizards, animosities momentarily forgotten, too absorbed in the scene before them. Close to the front stood Severus Snape. Harry spared a glance for the dour, blood stained man. Snape shook his head at the young man expected to save the Light. No, his friends hadn't survived. It was something he had agreed to do if he had the chance, a promise to a comrade. Harry processed the information in an instant while Voldemort was distracted; everyone he cared for was dead. Ron, Hermione, Remus, Albus….so many...all gone...forever.
Harry knew that it was up to him. It would end here and now. Either way Harry had lost. All that mattered was how he would die and whether or not he could find the strength to save his world from the Dark. The thought bolstered him. He couldn't let everyone down.
"This is it, Tom. Just you and me now. Let's finish this." He called out confidently. His voice was one of a leader, a commander of an army, no longer a frightened child, he had not been that for some time.
"Very well Potter. You have been a thorn in my side far too long. Say hello to your parents for me, boy." Voldemort called back with a hiss.
They drew closer, wands in hand. No one could tell who cast first but the duel began and spells began flying through the air. The remaining Light wizards cast a shielding spell which a few of the Death Eaters helped maintain so that they wouldn't get injured by deflected spells from the duellers. It was impossible to tell who was winning, they seemed evenly matched. They watched with bated breath.
Minerva McGonagall, especially, she had seen her pupils, her fellow Order members fall. All the Light's hope now rested on a nineteen year old boy, barely an adult, yet never a child. Minerva felt a lump in her throat as she saw Harry hit by a cutting hex.
"Crucio!" Voldemort shouted.
Harry's face contorted but he didn't scream or even flinch. Pain was no stranger to Harry. Voldemort's eyes widened minutely in shock but he recovered quickly. Without a waver in his voice Harry cast "Protego". The spell rebounded off Harry's abnormally strong shield and sent Tom flying, effectively breaking the spell.
Minerva smirked in triumph, it had been such a shock to them all when Harry had been able to shield against The Unforgivables. Albus had been ecstatic, thrilled, his protégé could do what no one else could, what should actually be impossible to do. They were called The Unforgivables for a reason, there was no way to block them. Or at least there wasn't until The Boy Who Lived came along.
"Awww Tom you should know better than that. Your nightly visions prepared me for far worse than the Cruciatus. I don't know why you use it when there are so many more effective ways of inducing pain in your opponent. Such as 'sectumsempra', 'ingero poena', 'lubricus tergum' and 'exuro' for example," Harry demonstrated each curse as he spoke its name without a break. The Dark Lord was on the floor by the end writing and panting.
[You will pay for that, Potter.] Voldemort swore in Parseltongue as he threw a curse that inflicted incredibly painful blood blisters to appear on the eyes. Fortunately, Harry dodged it in time.
Watching from the sidelines as always was Snape. He was one of the people maintaining the shield but most of his energy was caught up in watching every move of the two wizards before him. Snape's, believed non-existent, heart clenched painfully every time he saw Harry take a hit, which admittedly wasn't often but was still more often than it should have been. The two had become accustomed to watching each other's back during the war. After Dumbledore had paired them in the Order they had been forced to put their hatred aside. Comradery had eventually taken its place but they had never been friends, there was too much between them for that. For the past two years, since Harry graduated, he had been in training for this moment. 'It all ends here.' Snape thought grimly. He was confident that his partner could do it. He had felt the raw power Harry possessed and it was intoxicating in its strength. If Harry could just get one spell past his old master's shield he would win.
Harry could tell that Voldemort was beginning to tire. He was slower to dodge and deflect spells sent his way. "You're weakening, old man. Maybe you should leave taking over the world to us younger wizards. Take a break. I hear Florida is a lovely place to retire." He sneered. Harry knew from past encounters that when Voldemort was angry he got sloppy with his casting. All he needed was one small opening in his defences and he would finish it. He blocked the flesh peeling curse that had been Voldemort's response to the taunt. Finally he found it. Harry struck as fast as lightening, "Avada Kedava!"
Iridescent green light shot out of Harry's wand only to meet a purple one from Voldemort's. Both wizards focussed all their power into the curses, trying to break past the other. Harry ignored the pain lancing throughout his entire body, blocking it out with the sheer force of his mind. An idea occurred to the young man. He had been studying elemental magic for the past two months and he was almost positive that Voldemort did not know elemental magic. With his left hand he drew the sigils needed to summon lightening; Voldemort was too distracted from holding the spell to notice. It took all his strength to maintain the spell while he summoned the elemental power. When it was ready he flung his hand out at the Dark wizard. Harry had been correct; Voldemort certainly wasn't expecting Harry to use elemental magic. The lightning bolt hit the Dark Lord and burnt him to a crisp. But not before the curse he had cast broke past Harry's Avada Kedava, his power was too drawn up by the elemental magic. He had let his guard down for a split second and now he was going to pay for it.
'No!' Snape acted quickly seeing that Harry was too drained and injured to stop it from hitting him. He dropped his shield, yelling in alarm, "Expelliarmus!" But it was too late. It missed Harry. His spell merged with the Dark Lord's and hit the victorious wizard at the same time. They mutated and wrapped the young man in a brilliant white light. The observers averted their eyes from the figure, but not Snape, his eyes remained riveted. When it finally dimmed the Boy Who Lived had vanished. Snape rushed to the spot Harry had been stood. Unseen by anyone one lone tear fell from the stoic Potion Master's eye and vanished into the soil upon hitting the hard, blood stained ground just before the man's body. Severus Snape finally succumbed to his injuries. It was all over. They had won. But at what cost? What was there left? It was a hollow victory. Severus Snape died.
In his office Albus Dumbledore was startled to sense the wards alerting him to an intruder just outside the Forbidden Forest. Calling his Deputy and Defence Against the Dark Arts professor he set off to find out just who the intruder was.
What they actually found shocked them beyond belief. There, lying on the forest floor, seemingly dead, was a young man; he looked no older than seventeen and would not have looked out of place on a battlefield. He was dressed in pure black battle robes, clutching a wand which was broken in half; it seemed to have been broken when he landed. Blood was pouring out of different wounds all over his body. He had a burn on his left cheek.
"Is he alive?" The Defence professor asked quietly, as though any noise might wake the injured stranger.
Dumbledore cast a rapid spell, "Barely. We must get him to Poppy immediately if he is to survive." The headmaster levitated the wounded intruder into Hogwarts followed by his colleagues.
The headmaster's unannounced arrival in the Hospital Wing surprised the mediwitch but she caught sight of who he was bringing and asked in a stunned voice, "What happened to him?"
"I was hoping that you could tell me, Poppy. The wards alerted me to his presence less than five minutes ago. I do not even know his identity." Dumbledore replied as he lowered his charge onto the nearest bed.
"I'll do what I can. It's amazing that he is still alive from the injuries I can see." She answered wondrously. Poppy went straight to work. First the mediwitch cast a diagnostic spell as she gathered potions she thought might be necessary from her stores; luckily the resident Potions Master had recently replenished them for the upcoming school year. It seemed he would have to make more again. Putting the vials down on the bedside table she glanced at the parchment to see which injury she should heal first. It was already two feet long! She gasped, despite her long career as a healer, as she saw a few of the injuries. The likes of which she had not seen since the last Dark Lord. Snapping herself out of her shock she set to work at repairing all she could.
The first were his vital organs, many were on the brink of failure due to spell damage. It seemed he had been subjected to Cruciatus multiple times. It would be astounding if the poor boy was still sane when, if, he woke up at all. The witch poured potion after potion down the stranger's throat to heal his lungs, kidneys and his ribs along with many of the bones in his arms and legs. Spells were needed to heal the gashes in his chest. He had a particularly nasty slash on his left shoulder which went down to the bone and a burn on his cheek. The mediwitch was running through scenarios for how he could have received such injuries but the only thing she could think of were of the Death Eater torture victims. She could sense that it was his magic that was keeping him alive for the time being. Poppy gasped at the level of power she felt and it seemed as though the wizard was drained as well. 'I hope he gave as good as he got.' She found herself thinking. For the rest of the cuts she needed to apply an ointment after they were clean of infection, the smaller ones would not scar but the larger ones certainly would. Finally, two and a half hours after he was brought to her, she felt her patient stabilise. Breathing a sigh of relief she began to move a more sedate pace. At the end of five hours of meticulous potion applying and spells she fire-called the headmaster to the Hospital Wing.
Albus returned straight away, accompanied once again by the Deputy headmistress and the Defence professor. His first question once it was clear that the young man wasn't going to die just yet was, "Can he be woken?"
"Yes, though there are so many painkillers running through his system I will be surprised if he can even tell you his name. His muscles keep going into spasms; the diagnostic says that it is an after effect of being under the Cruciatus curse for a prolonged amount of time. Albus, I do not recommend this. The boy has been through a lot." Poppy replied in protest. Identity unknown or not this young man was her patient and she was honour-bound to protect him.
The headmaster stared at the small figure now in a white hospital gown lying on the bed. 'He looks so small. Yet I can see the muscle on him. How did he get in such a state?'
"Before you wake him I believe you should see this, Albus. It's my diagnosis…" She handed the parchment to the aging wizard in a final attempt to spare her patient undue suffering.
"Dear Merlin! This boy has had an interesting life." He exclaimed as he read the first page. Poppy had folded it into yearly sections.
"Life? Albus that is only the last year!" Poppy practically screamed at the most powerful wizard in England, perhaps the world. The diagnostic, if left to run, which she had, listed every injury the patient had ever had during the course of their life.
"Dear Merlin!" The Defence professor whispered, peering over the headmaster's shoulder, "What happened to him?"
"The only way to find out is to wake him and ask." Albus said regrettably but with the list of injuries he had to know if the person who had hurt this boy was going to be coming back for him. "Enervate." He cast as gently as he could.
The young man's eyes flickered open. 'Green' the headmaster noted absently. He heard the Defence professor gasp behind him and suddenly realised where he had seen eyes like those before.
Harry woke to the familiar smell of the Hospital Wing and opened his eyes to see, not Snape by his side ready to chide him for his foolishness as usual but the headmaster, Poppy, McGonagall and a man Harry thought looked vaguely familiar. Confused he managed to croak out, "What happened? Did I kill him? Did we win?"
All four sets of eyes were on him then in shock. Kill who? Their gazes were curious and suspicious Harry noted. Finally the headmaster spoke up, "Who are you, young man?"
'Who am I? What is going on here?' Harry's mind was racing, ignoring the pain potions in his system, he was nearly immune to them by now. Suddenly he remembered his last conscious moments. He remembered Snape telling him that everyone was dead. Had Voldemort won? Was this a new method of torture? Harry sent out his magic to asses everyone. Only Dumbledore felt him scan them he noted but the old man did not mention it. Harry had been well taught, this was the real Albus Dumbledore, he would recognise that magical signature anywhere. Harry also sensed that Dumbledore was sincere in his question, "You don't know who I am, Albus?"
"If I did then I would not be asking would I, young man?" Dumbledore replied half amused, half irritated. Who was this young wizard who called him 'Albus'? He had never met him before. He was certainly powerful and Albus could sense darkness surrounding him. Was he a danger to Hogwarts?
"I'm Harry Potter." The boy stated calmly as though it was obvious.
"You can't be Harry! He's dead!" The dark haired professor surprised the recovering wizard by yelling angrily.
The green-eyed wizard sneered at the new speaker, "I think I know who I am. I've been Harry Potter for the past nineteen years. Who are you anyway?" Harry replied condescendingly.
The dark haired man fell silent, simply glaring at him. A slight cough drew Harry's attention back to the headmaster, "That would be James Potter and I am afraid that I agree with him. Harry Potter died eighteen years ago."