Dear Ron, and Hermione if you're reading this along with him (which you probably are),
Hope you two are well. Yes? Good. If not, well, I couldn't care less. Now pay attention. You're about to find out something fascinating. Totally blew my mind when I found out. Of course, my reaction was probably nothing compared to what yours will be when you finish reading this letter.
Now, you're probably wondering why exactly I'm writing instead of saying this to your faces. Truth be told, I'm in no condition to talk to anyone. But we'll get to that once I'm done driving home what I want to tell you.
To get started, I asked you two a question a few days ago.
Really, it wasn't one that was hard to answer. Well, it shouldn't have been. If I only had a few days left to live, what would you say to me? To be honest, I expected at the very least an 'I don't know.' As my best friends, I expected you'd start thinking about it seriously. I mean, I do have an insane psychopath after me.
Well, you never answered me. In fact you looked at me as through I was crazy. As though I'd finally lost it and had started casting Unforgivables.
Worst mistake you two could have made. At I write this, I am in the Hospital Wing, dying. Yes, dying. You didn't read wrong. I'm not exaggerating. When I asked you that question, I asked it in all seriousness. Because I knew the next time we saw each other, I wouldn't be able to do much more than stare at the ceiling.
I have a disease that's extremely rare. It has no name. I've had it for a month now. I found out from Madame Pomfrey after I went to her for a potion to relieve my headaches. I'd been having them for a solid week before then and I was tired of them. You won't remember that - I hid my discomfort well. Apparently the headaches weren't the problem - they were merely a part of something much worse. The virus works very quickly and without pain until there's nothing anyone can do; I haven't suffered for too long. I believe I'm in the last stage of it. I might even be gone by the time you've read this entire thing. I don't know.
I think you should know I wrote to Voldemort, telling him about this. I sent the letter to him with Hedwig, hence why this came with a school owl and not her. What would his reaction be, I wonder. But I'll never know. I won't know if he even gets the letter.
I'm getting off-track now. What I've meant to say this entire time, is that even if I would see the light of another day, we would no longer be friends. I asked an honest, serious question - I expected an honest, serious answer. What I got was two people who laughed off the question and went on with their lives without a second thought.
What were your words, Ron? 'Don't be stupid, mate. Everyone knows you're going to defeat You-Know-Who and live to a ripe old age.' Well, guess what. I died before that could happen. I knew I was going to die, even before you did. Even with someone like Voldemort out there, who existed for the sole purpose of seeing me fall to his wand.
And what was your response, Hermione? 'Oh, please, don't talk like that Harry. You're not going to die. You're the Boy-Who-Lived. You're our savior.' Yeah, well, now I get to claim the title of 'the Boy-Who-Was-Defeated-By-Disease' or 'the savior who caught a virus and dropped dead'. Whatever. I did die, you pathetic excuse for a human being. She who claims to know it all can't even tell when her best friend is slowly dying.
You'd better pray if there's an afterlife, we don't meet again. The result would not be pleasant, I can assure you. In fact, I can picture it perfectly even as I lay here.
Hermione, you would launch into a pre-planned and rehearsed speech that would go something like this: 'Harry, I'm ever so sorry! I honestly didn't know you were going to die! If I had, I would've given you a serious answer! Forgive me, Harry. Forgive us! If we'd had any idea...I'm so sorry! We've been horrible friends! Please, let us make it up to you.'
And Ronniekins, when I refused to listen to Hermione, you would get ever so angry. You always were a short fuse - never did take much to set you off. You'd blow up at me entirely. More than likely you wouldn't say anything worth listening to. That goes for both of you.
I can't see now why I chose you for friends over Draco. He's with me now, laughing at my predictions of what you'd do. We've come to a...truce of sorts. He's known I'm dying since I spoke to you last. He cornered me after I stormed off, and he pestered me into telling him everything. Including what you did. Or, should I say, what you didn't do. So you both know, I gave him permission to take out his anger at you on you. Him and the rest of his snakes. I suggest you tread cautiously. Even a lion can succumb to a cobra's bite.
I haven't the strength to write much more, so I will finish this quickly.
I tell you this and say goodbye, not as your friend, but as a formality and an act of pity. You'd drive yourselves crazy trying to figure out if I killed myself, if Voldemort killed me, or if this was an accident. You'd be wrong on all counts, but the mental image of you tearing your hair out over it is pathetic enough that I chose to tell you. 'You'll make your real friends in Slytherin,' the Sorting hat once told me. I see now, as I die with Draco beside me and neither of you within twenty feet of me, that it was correct. I would have done well in the House I cast aside on the word of two wizards, neither of which I knew well and had just met.
Perhaps it was choosing Griffindor over Slytherin that began to seal my doom. Perhaps it was not. None of us here - that's Madame Pomfrey, Draco and I - know, nor are we likely to find out in the time I have left.
Harry James Potter
Hermione gazed at Ron, stricken. The letter lay on the table before them. Both had read it. Neither had realized just how much their non-answers had affected their once-best friend. The bushy-haired witch slumped forward, buried her head in her arms, and began to weep. Ron could offer her no comfort - it was just as much a shock to him as it was to her.
Harry had hid his illness well. But as they were supposedly closer to him than anyone else in Hogwarts, and supposedly knew him better than he knew himself, they hadn't seen what was right under their noses.
In the end, Ron rested his hand on Hermione's shoulder and said nothing until she stopped crying. "Do you want to go to the Hospital Wing?" he asked gently.
She nodded, wiping her eyes. "I have to see...I have to know if..."
Ron nodded and got to his feet, helping her up and leading the way from the Griffindor common room. He needed to know if Harry was still alive as well...if there was still time to give him an answer.
Meanwhile, Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard since Gellert Grindelwald, known by the people closest to him as Tom, was highly amused. The only physical sign of it was the upward quirk of his lips, but those who knew him well would see that his scarlet eyes were glinting with humor.
"Well, well...you've got them in quite a twist, I'd imagine," he told the person sitting across from him, between Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy.
"Oh, I'd like to think so," the young man said with a casual shrug. "If the letter didn't do it, my 'death' certainly did."
Draco slapped him on the back with a wide grin. "Are you kidding? You're brilliant! I wish I could've seen their faces!" He was the one who had suggested this whole setup, and had provided Harry with everything he needed to write that letter.
Tom let out a low chuckle. "As do I." He stood, walking around the table to stand behind the young man and rested his hands upon his shoulders. "You certainly know how to twist people's emotions, Harry."
Harry smirked and flipped his hood off his head, looking upward to meet the Dark Lord's eyes. He looked more like a thirty-something year old version of Tom Riddle than a half-human half-snake mutant. He shared a telepathic connection with the Boy-Who-Was-Thought-to-Be-Dead. It was Tom who had been the one to send the headaches when Harry asked, by simply posing a question no one alive could possibly answer. Such as what happens after you die.
"I learned from some of the best." He gestured towards Severus and Draco. "And it helps that I know them so well. I don't know if I could have done it to anyone else." He shrugged once more.
"So, Potter," Severus said, leaning his chair back on two legs and resting his feet on the table. "The world thinks you're dead. Those two, your real friends, the Ministry..." He trailed off thoughtfully and glanced into curious Avada Kedavra green eyes a few moments later. "What do you plan to do now?"
"Why, li'l old me?" Harry asked, switching to a high-pitched falsetto and adopting a Southern bell accent, batting his eyelashes and putting a hand to his chest for effect. Draco snorted, Severus coughed into a hand, and Tom chuckled again. "In all seriousness, I plan to make some popcorn, find a comfy chair, sit back, relax, and watch the world burn."
"Excellent plan." Tom nodded with a smile. "In fact, I think I'll join you. Severus, Draco?" The two raven-haired wizards watched as Severus deliberated slowly.
"As tempting as it sounds..." the Potions master drawled after a minute or so, only to yelp as Harry socked him in the arm. He glared at the teen, who was grinning cheekily. "Oh, very well then. I suppose I shall tell Albus that there are no raids planned and that we threw a huge soiree once we heard of his demise."
Harry laughed - he had to. "Well don't sound as if it was the worst thing ever, Severus. After all, you hate me, remember?" Severus scowled half-heartedly in reply, rubbing his shoulder. Severus had come to Harry a little after his fifth year ended - the day after, actually - with a grudging apology on his lips, but after seeing the way Harry was treated, had not only given the apology, but an offer of help. Since then, they'd formed a tentative friendship. The relationship was a bit strange. It was built mostly on light barbs and insults. Once the mock fights were over, though, they got along pretty well. But if they were ever confronted about it, both would deny it. Vehemently. Had Harry punched him like that in the school, he would likely have gotten Crucioed for it. Just to keep up appearances.
"All too well," the professor responded dryly. "So, anyone I should tell that famous Harry Potter is still alive?"
Harry shook his head. There was sorrow in his gaze, but no hesitance. "I can't take the risk you'd be caught and I'd be brought back there. Back to my oh so loving family." He couldn't help the bitterness that leaked into his tone, and he felt Tom's arms wrap around him in a comforting embrace. The familiarity was nice, and he relaxed enough to smile a bit.
Perhaps the whole story should be told. After he lost Sirius, at the end of his fifth year, he'd stopped caring for himself. Wouldn't eat. Couldn't sleep. He'd felt like he'd lost his entire world. In a way, he had. So he'd convinced himself that if this was going to be his life - death after death, abuse, friends who only saw the Boy-Who-Lived, assurances that he was safest at the Dursley home, which was his personal hell - he wanted to die.
Two days later, the day after Severus had come, Tom had contacted him. His memory of that day - the first dream - was clear as if it had been yesterday.
Harry blinked open his eyes to an unfamiliar room. Stone walls, stone floor with an animal skin carpet, two comfortable-looking armchairs. Tom had been sitting in one of them.
"Why are you killing yourself like this, Harry?" the half-snake-turned-fully-human man had asked softly after a few minutes of silence, during which Harry could dig up no true alarm that Tom Riddle was in his mind.
The teen had barely the internal energy to shrug. "I want to die." His voice had changed - it was low and rasping, because he hadn't been exactly drinking everything his aunt left for him. He raised his eyes to Lord Voldemort, knowing just how deadened they'd look. How broken and torn up he was inside. How they'd show he was unwilling to save himself.
Harry had taken a while to answer that time. "If life...is everything that I have known," he began. "Pain, death, betrayal...abuse...friends who don't care enough to see who I am...I would very much welcome death." Another half-hearted shrug. "It is not worth the struggle." His gaze had slid past Tom at that point, to stare at the wall over the man's shoulder. "It's funny, really. How willing they are to treat me like the savior they know me as one minute, and the next they throw me away like yesterday's newspaper. They see the mask - they do not see the face behind it, nor do they think there is one. They see Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Forgot-to-Die. They see someone who can carry the world on his shoulders or they see someone who has betrayed and lied to them. They see what they want to see. They do not see me. They never will."
"Harry..." Tom stood and strode toward him, resting his hands on the boy's shoulders and staring into his deadened, broken eyes. "I see you."
Fingers clicking softly in front of him brought him back to earth. He blinked and looked up to see Tom giving him a slightly amused look. "You were lost in your own little world," he told Harry.
"Of course I was," the boy retorted lightly. "It's very nice there. It's full of flower fields and bunny rabbits that sing and dance and - ow!" He rubbed his forehead where Tom had flicked it. The Dark Lord was smirking. He hadn't shifted his position, but Severus and Draco had gone - probably to work on some potion or another.
"You, Potter, are a smart-ass."
"Oh, I know."
"So what's with the trip into the black hole that you call your mind?" Tom asked sarcastically.
Harry lifted one hand and wordlessly touched one of Tom's with his fingertips. He didn't need to speak - they both remembered the first time Tom had held Harry like this. Some would call it being intimate, but it was merely a gesture of friendship and comfort to them. A constant in Harry's ever-changing world.
"You need to take care of yourself, little one," Lord Voldemort murmured, tilting the child's face up to look into those bruised once-bright emerald eyes. They had dulled until they were nearly jade in color. This was only the second time he'd visited. The boy was not well, not well at all. He was getting so much worse, so quickly... "There's so much more to life than what you've seen. If you give up now, you're giving up on everything you could have."
"What would that be?" Harry asked, but with no real interest as he turned away, leaving the older man's hand to fall to his side. "Friends who betray me at the smallest excuse? Relatives who would rather beat me bloody than care for me properly?"
"No." Voldemort paused, then gently wrapped his arms around the boy's shoulders. "I'm talking about something much better."
"Oh really. Enlighten me."
Later that day saw Harry and Tom reading in the library. Harry was sitting in a comfortable chair with a book held in one hand, cradling his head in his other and resting his elbow on the armrest of the chair. His knees were bent over the other. Tom was curled around him, his chin resting on Harry's free shoulder and one arm resting casually across the stomach of the younger male, occasionally making comments to which Harry would reply.
When Severus walked in on this scene, he paused for a moment. Hard to believe they'd gone from wanting to tear each other's throats out, to brotherly in the span of a few months. It had been Tom who had suggested the idea of Harry coming to stay with him when it had been apparent the boy was not doing so well. Severus who had brought the boy here after Tom had gotten Harry to agree. But it had been Harry who'd come up with the idea of the illness, and Severus and Draco had supported it. To the surprise of both Tom and Severus alike, Draco and Harry had admitted they hadn't been enemies since fourth year. According to Draco, he'd been tired of acting so childishly, and Harry had pretty much given up on Ron and Hermione by then, so Draco had become the friend who was there to steady him when he was feeling unstable.
"My Lord," he said, breaking the silence when neither wizard had noticed him. Both looked up. Neither moved to disentangle themselves. "Bellatrix and Lucius are here to report. I take it you don't want them to see Harry just yet, so I thought I'd warn you. They're on their way here now."
That was all it took. Harry dog-eared his page and set the book aside before he pulled his hood up to hide his face and stood. "Have fun, My Lord," he called teasingly as he vanished deeper into the library, where most people never went. Voldemort huffed and shook his head. Severus allowed himself a small smile.
"You knew what you were getting into when you had him brought here," he pointed out before following the child's example.
"Let it never be said that I didn't," Voldemort muttered, loud enough to be heard. Severus chuckled quietly, feeling the small wave of magic as Tom glamored himself to look like the snake-man that was Lord Voldemort.
"Bellatrix. Lucius. Report," Voldemort said coldly as the two entered the library and knelt. Lucius spoke first.
"My Lord, Harry Potter is dead."
"Is he now," Voldemort questioned, trying to sound interested rather than deeply amused. He knew where the child was... "How did it happen?"
"Draco wrote and told me, my Lord. Potter had been ill for some time - Poppy Pomfrey confirmed it, and that she knew nothing about the rare disease he had contracted." Voldemort was even more amused at this. It seemed Harry's plan was already working. And Poppy hadn't betrayed the young man, just like he'd said. It seemed they were really as close as harry had insisted they were.
"Aww, little baby Potter got a chill and died, did he?" Bellatrix seemed unable to resist adding.
Voldemort's amusement with the situation vanished entirely. "Bellatrix," he hissed. When she looked up at him, he aimed his wand steadily between her eyes and intoned, "Crucio." She was screaming after fifteen seconds. He held it for a full thirty before he released the spell. "Do not speak again unless I tell you that you may do so." She nodded mutely.
"Explain, Lucius," he said to the blonde man.
"I don't know much, my Lord. Only that Potter was very ill for a short time before he died, and that my son was with him when he died," Lucius added, looking away from the intense crimson gaze. Tom was vaguely amused again.
Voldemort let out an inward hiss. He'd been sickened to see how badly the child had been bruised and scarred. How could anyone treat a child in such a way? "I see," he said softly, putting on a blank mask. "That is...unfortunate. Did he suffer?"
"Not for long, my Lord."
"How long would you say he was ill before it began to show?"
Lucius hesitated. "Probably...a month, if not longer than that. My Lord, if I may be so bold as to ask...what brought this on?"
Voldemort shifted, tossing one leg over the other in an attempt to get comfortable. "Bellatrix," he murmured. When she looked up, hopeful, he hissed, "Leave us." She did not know of what he was about to talk to Lucius about, and as long as he was the Dark Lord, she would not know. He despised that woman, and he breathed a quiet sigh of relief when the door shut behind her, throwing off the glamor.
"I had a chance to talk with the boy, not long after he lost his godfather," he admitted softly. Lowering his voice further, he added, "After we found out Dumbledore's prophecy, his beacon of hope to his side of the war, was faked." Dumbledore himself probably didn't know. Trelawney was a very good actress, but Veritaserum had proven to be her undoing. She'd staged the whole damned thing, given Dumbledore false hope...sent Tom himself on a wild goose chase. Two people had died because of her false prophecy. Two more were now insane because of what had happened after Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter.
"My Lord, how - ?"
Tom raised one long finger for silence. "You know we share a connection, through his scar, yes? I constructed a room in his mind, brought him into it, and I found out some very interesting things." He paused. "Suffice to say, I know Harry wasn't healthy. He wasn't treated well by his relatives, and he'd just seen the death of Sirius Black. He wanted to die. He told me that if life was only what he'd seen, he would welcome his death."
Lucius was silent. Then he said bluntly, "You know where he is, my Lord. You've not only spoken to him - you've seen him since then. He isn't really dead, is he?"
Tom chuckled. "Indeed I do, and I have. He is alive and well. However, now is not the time to reveal everything. It will be made clear soon." He nodded to his old friend. "Dismissed."
The Wizarding community was devastated. Their savior had died of an unnamed disease before he could kill He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Surely, they were all doomed now.
Hermione and Ron were crushed. Harry Potter had been their friend and now he was gone.
Ginny Weasley was heartbroken. Her one true love was dead!
Albus Dumbledore was furious. His carefully crafted weapon - gone! Now what was he going to do to send hope to his people?
The Prophecy was smashed. The savior was dead. Voldemort was not.
The answer was plain as day. There was no hope. With Harry Potter dead, they would all die if they stood against Lord Voldemort.
"Hey, I didn't ask earlier - when's my funeral?" Harry asked once Lucius had gone, just before vaulting the back of the couch to sit beside the feared Dark Lord. Tom gave him a slight glare as he was jostled, then sighed.
"In a month, Harry, but you're not attending."
"Oh, come on," Harry muttered, moving so one of his legs was tossed over the armrest and he was leaning against the man he'd come to see as an older brother. "It's my death - don't I get to enjoy it as much as anyone else?"
"Harry, no one is going to be enjoying themselves at your funeral. Well," Tom put on a mock thoughtful face. "Maybe Lord Voldemort would, if he were to be there."
Harry snorted. "Yeah, the bastard had an impressive amount of hatred for me," he said flippantly. "I can almost see him doing a victory dance while he was there, just to laugh in good old Dumbledore's face."
Tom smirked. Lord Voldemort, dancing? Fat chance. Nice try, brat, he shot at the child mentally. "I can see him doing that. Well, not so much the dancing part as the bragging."
"Ah, damn. Well, bragging is just as good, I guess."
"Wrong. It's even better."
"Watch it, Tom - your head's swelling again."
One month later
"Am I allowed to go, or are you keeping me prisoner here?" Harry asked, rolling his eyes. Tom sighed.
"Fine, you brat, you can come. If only to give the old bastard a heart attack."
"Before you kill him," Harry deadpanned.
"Assuming the heart attack doesn't. I'm told having one at his age is usually fatal," Tom said, a bit too cheerfully.
Harry sighed. "Who are you going to be taking with you?" he asked, finally looking away from the book he'd been reading up to that point to read Tom's expression. He was stretched out on the couch in Tom's rooms, back propped against the armrest and one leg crossed over the other. Tom was preparing to rally his forces for the raid.
"I dunno. Anyone who wants to go, I guess."
Harry sighed. "I see." He went back to his book, his face a blank slate.
Tom turned, frowning when he spotted the look. He knew it well. Harry wore it whenever he thought of his godfather's death. And Bellatrix Lestrange. "Harry...we're not going to be attacking for a while, so...would you like to meet the Death Eaters?"
Harry whipped his head around to give the older man a wide-eyed look. "You're not serious?"
"I'm dead serious." Tom moved to Harry's side and knelt beside him. He took the teen's chin in one hand so he could meet the emerald green eyes with his own ruby red. "You've seen them all before. They don't know who you are yet. They have a right to know, but they don't have to. It's your choice."
Harry bit his lip. "Well, far be it from me to deny them their right. I'll meet them, but I don't have to like it."
"I wouldn't ask more than that," Tom concluded, standing and offering his hand to the young man.
Lord Voldemort in all of his glory strode into the room, silencing the chatter among his Death Eaters. "My loyal followers," he said softly. "Today, we will make history. We will see Hogwarts fall to its knees. We will see Albus Dumbledore dead. All thanks to one child."
"Oh, stop, Tom, you'll make me blush," Harry interrupted, and Voldemort turned to him, his eyes glittering with amusement. They'd planned for Harry to say something, but after a small argument Harry got to decide what to say. He hadn't told anyone, though. The teen paused, then tossed his head slightly, throwing back his hood to reveal a pale-skinned face, nearly shoulder-length dark raven hair, and vividly green eyes. "I believe they" - he gestured to the Death Eaters - "know me as the Boy-Who-Bloody-Won't-Drop-Dead-Already."
Someone in the crowd let out a snort - it sounded like Severus. Someone else, sounding suspiciously like Draco, was nearly doubled over in his attempts to muffle his laughter. Most of them, however, had thought he was dead and were fighting to keep their jaws closed. Harry grinned. Voldemort chuckled softly and turned to his gathered followers. "Do try not to fall over, Draco. Close your mouths, you lot, or you'll catch flies. Harry Potter is alive and well, and has decided to join our cause. You are not to harm him."
"My Lord, may I be so bold as to ask why exactly he changed sides? And how he is alive?" one Death Eater asked tentatively.
Voldemort shifted so he was behind Harry and rested his hands on the young man's shoulders, as he often did when in Tom form. "It's an interesting story," he began when he received Harry's mental go ahead. "Severus came to me the day after Harry's fifth year ended and told me he'd made a truce with him. But he mentioned that Harry was not well. So, not long after that, I contacted him via our connection." One long finger brushed against the scar, and though it had usually hurt when Harry had been with Dumbledore and faced Voldemort, now it was just an ordinary scar. "Severus was right. Harry wasn't well, not well at all. He'd just seen the death of his godfather, and his family had never treated him as a child should be. So...I contacted the boy again the very next night. He was worse, if you can imagine. He'd decided he wanted to die. I told him to talk to Severus or someone else he trusted if he wanted to come here. He has been here for a few months now, and as you can see, he's not doing quite as badly anymore."
"My Lord," another Death Eater said cautiously, "he wrote that letter though, a week after his sixth year started. People confirmed it was his handwriting. Poppy Pomfrey said Harry did have some sort of disease and that he died from it."
"Ah, Poppy," Harry sighed, smiling fondly. "She would never betray my secrets."
"The letter was part of an ingenious plot crafted by this little brat right here," Voldemort added not unkindly, squeezing Harry's shoulders gently. "To explain his sudden disappearance. It's worked brilliantly, judging by your reactions tonight."
"You're making me blush again, Tom," Harry muttered, ducking his head to hide his pleased smile.
"Quiet you," Voldemort hushed him affectionately. He looked up and said, "To business, now."
An hour and a half later, the alarms went off at Hogwarts.
As the students and professors of the school rushed out, the first thing they noticed was Voldemort at the head of his forces. The second thing they noticed was a hooded figure, barely taller than some of the fifth years, beside him.
"A child?" Albus asked into the silence. "You bring a child to fight in your place, Tom? And on a day such as this?" Everyone knew that today was the day when Harry Potter's funeral was to be held.
Voldemort tilted his head, his face splitting into a wide, malicious grin. "No, Albus, I am not like you. I will not let someone so precious fight my battles. And I will not let this child believe it is his destiny to do so."
"Child, Tom? So nice to know you regard me so highly," the teen said, shaking his head. His voice was lower and huskier than usual to confuse the Light. They wouldn't know that Harry was alive and faring better than ever until Voldemort was good and ready to show them.
"Hush," Voldemort said softly. He looked back at Albus Dumbledore, knowing now was the appropriate time to reveal everything. "Your Prophecy, Albus, was a clever fake. However, you really should have checked to make sure your so-called Seer didn't trick you into believing she was in a real trance. She was ever so willing to tell me everything. How she was quite desperate by the time you were ready to leave. She's a very good actor - she even fooled Severus, who told me. I'm sure you remember what happened next?"
Behind him, Harry gave a shiver only he noticed. Discretely, Voldemort reached back and touched one of Harry's hands with one finger to soothe him. The only one that saw the motion was Lucius, who narrowed his eyes briefly in curiosity. Just how close were Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort?
Albus let out a sound of frustration. "It matters not," he said through clenched teeth. "It was only a matter of time after Harry had killed you that I would have had him killed. He was far too powerful for his own good." Voldemort narrowed his eyes and heard Harry draw in a sharp, shocked breath.
"Enough talk," Voldemort hissed quietly. He gestured for Harry to step forward and said, "Your savior isn't dead, Albus. In fact, he's closer than you know." So saying, he reached up and tugged off Harry's hood. There was pure silence now, and Voldemort breathed deeply, savoring their shock, uncertainty, and anger. He was well aware that Harry looked far healthier than he ever had when they'd known him as their friend and savior.
In the moments of quiet, Harry strode forward, letting his Death colored eyes sweep over the Light forces. His gaze lingered on Ron and Hermione, and fixed on Dumbledore before he said quietly, "I told each of my 'friends' and Dumbledore himself what the Dursleys did each year. I expected to be able to turn to them for support when something became too much to bear and I thought they knew they could do the same. When I found out Ron and Hermione thought I was merely looking for more attention, I began to think they saw only Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. In fourth year, I found out I was right. Ron didn't see me for me, and though Hermione pretended that she did, she didn't either. Fifth year, it turned out that Dumbledore saw me only as something to be used to kill and then thrown aside. When Severus offered a truce, I accepted because I wanted to turn over a new leaf. I wanted to start over with him. When Voldemort contacted me, though, I'd decided it was too late. I simply wanted to die. In the last four years, the Dursleys abused me, starved me, locked me up in my room for the entire summer. I had nothing to live for - no parents, no friends, no family...and I'd lost the only person who truly cared for me." He allowed his eyes to rest on the pale-faced man standing next to McGonagall. "Perhaps Remus was the only one to see the real me. Yet here we stand, not as friends, but enemies. I cannot call any of you friends. You do not know me, so how can I know you? You do not truly care for me...so how can I care for you?" He stepped back, toward the Death Eaters and Voldemort. "I asked Ron and Hermione what they would say to me if I only had a few days to live. Now I ask you - what do you have to say to me, knowing you might have only minutes to live?" He spun and walked back to his original position, ignoring the dumbfounded faces that watched him turn his back on them.
In the end, it was Ron who spoke first. "What do I have to say?!" he yelled, his face rapidly turning as red as his hair. "You're a traitor and I'm sorry you're not dead!"
Harry merely shrugged. "Rather a traitor than Dumbledore's weapon," he said mildly. Then the Death Eaters moved as one, surging towards the Light army with Voldemort and Harry at the head. The younger man was all but sprinting, his green eyes glowing brightly. This was his chance to finally take out all of his anger and frustration on the very people who had caused it.
It wasn't long before the fight began to die down. Both sides had lost people, but the Light far more so than the Dark.
Harry's hissed "Sectumsempra" cut open the chest of Nymphadora Tonks in several places. As blood sprayed into the air and spilled across the already bloodstained turf, her eyes widened and she fell forward, her fingers clutching at the wounds as if to try to stop the heavy flow of the red liquid. Harry stared at her coldly for a moment. "Suffer for me, as I suffered for you," he whispered, as he had done every other time he'd struck down someone he'd once called 'friend'. Then he glanced away to see how Voldemort was faring.
The Dark Lord was faring well against Albus Dumbledore, giving as good as he got and surpassing even that. Even from here, harry could see that Voldemort's red eyes were always watching for some shift in balance that would turn the duel in his favor. Harry turned away. Voldemort did not need his help.
However, his distraction proved the mistake someone had been waiting for. He let out a hiss of pain and rage as his side was sliced open by a well-aimed Cutting curse and he was forced to his knees. He pressed a hand to it, ignoring the pain, to try and stem the bleeding. It did little good. The wound was both deep and long, stretching from his ribcage to his hip. He winced. If it was any deeper, his insides would have been exposed or damaged. Then he got the feeling of being watched and looked up...into furious brown eyes.
"You!" Hermione shouted. "You let us think you were dead! You've betrayed us! This is all your fault! Die, filth!" She drew back her wand and nearly screamed, "Avada Kedavra!"
Voldemort was wrapped up in this duel with Dumbledore, but not so much so that he missed the words that made both his and Dumbledore's heads whip around in shock.
"...your fault! Die, filth! Avada Kedavra!"
Several things happened then. Voldemort leaped toward Harry, casting a Killing Curse of his own at Granger. Granger fell to the green light at the same time Harry did.
Voldemort realized Harry was still breathing, but his face was twisted in agony. Blood was oozing sluggishly from the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead. "Harry? Can you hear me?" he asked quietly, turning the boy's face towards him. The Death-colored eyes blinked open slowly.
"Well...that wasn't fun," the raven-haired wizard realized that some of the blood covering Harry's robes was his own, and he shifted the material to reveal a long gash in the young man's side. Probably more of Granger's work.
"I can imagine it wasn't," the Dark Lord said, trying to mask his relief. He lowered his voice as he heard Dumbledore approaching. "Back to the manor for you. I'll come find you right after we finish here. I promise you." Before Harry could protest, he pressed a small Portkey into the young man's hand and stepped back. Once he was gone, Voldemort turned and hit Dumbledore in the chest with a Cutting curse. "I tire of this," he hissed. While Dumbledore was focused on the fresh wound, Voldemort cast the Avada Kedavra and the leader of the Light fell.
Slowly, he turned from the lifeless body. "Game over," he said coldly.
Voldemort did not attend the celebration that night. He'd never really enjoyed parties, even as a teen, and besides...there was something much more pressing on his mind.
In his normal Tom form, he knocked gently on the door to Harry's rooms and pushed it open when he heard the quiet "come in". The young man was sitting up, his back to the headboard of his bed. His legs were crossed Indian-style under his blanket, which was drawn up to just below his ribcage, and a book lay in his lap.
"Ah, so it's you." Harry regarded him curiously, dog-earing his page and closing the book with a gentle thud. "Don't feel like attending the soiree?"
"No." Tom stepped further into the room and seated himself beside Harry. "Parties were never my thing." He paused. "Are you angry at me?"
"I was," Harry murmured, "but I understand why you did it. Apparently, it wasn't an ordinary Cutting curse I was hit with." He shifted the blanket to show that his stomach was wrapped in gauze. "The more I move around, the worse it gets, because no one could fully heal it. I'm not to leave this bed for a week, longer if the Healers decide I haven't recovered enough by then."
Tom sighed. "I shouldn't have - "
"Don't," Harry said sharply. "Don't you dare start that. I wanted to come, and if you hadn't taken me I would've followed you anyway." He made as if to lean forward, then winced with a scowl at his bandaged side. "My point being," he added with a sigh, relaxing against the headboard once more as Tom turned to look at him, "that it's not your fault. I was the one who was caught off-guard. It's not like you pushed me in the way of the curse."
Tom sighed quietly and gripped Harry's shoulder. "Well, don't stress yourself over it. Wouldn't want you to be hurt even more than you were."
Harry smiled, his green eyes glowing softly. "No, we wouldn't. Congratulations, by the way. I heard from Severus it was you who killed Dumbledore."
"Yeah, it was." Tom gently drew Harry into a brotherly embrace, careful not to jostle the wound. "Rest now, little one. It's over. We've done it."
"No, Tom," Harry murmured, resting his chin on Tom's shoulder with a gentle smile. "You've done it. Now I've got a question for you - what do you plan to do now?"
"I don't know yet," the Dark Lord admitted. "We'll just have to wait and see."
Well? Did it suck? Is it okay? This is my first Harry Potter one-shot, so you'll have to tell me what you think.