Chapter 1 – Hollow Victories
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It is the day after 'The Victory' and in the halls of Hogwarts hope and despair are both in the air. Grieving family and friends move through the doors of Hogwarts speaking of new hope for the future and their despair at the terrible cost.
This new day has bought many tearful reunions and soon the inevitable sad farewells will begin. Watching it all is the victor, the champion of the light, yesterday's hero Harry Potter sitting slumped in the corner of the Great Hall. Tremors rack his rail thin frame, and small sparks arc between his fingers. If someone looked closey they would see that fresh tears mark his pale, bruised face.
There was no celebration for Harry Potter. Too many died to bring about his victory, his parents, friends and masses of people he didn't know and now never would. He had died and courtesy of a piece of evil sorcery been returned to life but the cost of surviving his second killing curse was high. Ever since the 'death' of Voldemort he had been plagued by a whispering, insidious voice in his head. He had tried to block it out but it always returned, whispering and mocking him. Since the final battle he had been unable to sleep and was feeling utterly spent as he sat in the great hall.
"You are weak Harry; you allow them to treat you this way…"
The voice was back. He needed rest, sleep and healing but couldn't seem to find it. Looking around the hall at all those grieving and mourning was just too much so with movements made jerky by exhaustion the "hero of the hour" stood, swaying slightly and waled quickly from the Great hall. His exit almost unnoticed amongst the crowd.
In the corner Luna Lovegood frowned as she watched Harry stalk from the hall.
"Harry, Harry wait…please hold on for a minute mate," begged a tired, familiar voice.
Harry stopped, flinching as he turned to face Ron. , "What is it Ron?" he didn't bother trying to hide the tideness in his voice.
Sensing something was wrong Ron tried to put his arm around Harry. He wished he was more shocked when Harry pulled away, "Mate we've been worried about you, Mum's going spare looking for you".
"I'm just tired, didn't sleep well last night". Ron tried another tact "Mate you need to eat and besides people will want to talk with you. No use running away"
"Ron" began Harry his voice oddly devoid of emotion. "I'm tired. I am not hungry and I certainly don't want to talk to bloody anyone right now
Ron could do nothing but watch as his best friend walk unsteadily away towards the stairs to Gryffindor tower.
Re-entering the great hall Ron spotted his family sitting with Hermione at the Gryffindor table and walked over to join them.
Molly frowned at Harry's absence, "Where's Harry Ron? He should be here, with family the poor boy".
"He's not coming Mum. He said he's tired and then took off to the common room."
Molly glanced at Arthur who shook his head. "Molly dear I am sure Harry will join us later. He did look exhausted last night." Arthur paused anticipating his wifes next comment. "Molly I will check on Harry and let him know about the memorial service. For now let's just leave him be."
Sitting with the Weasley's Hermione Granger found herself toying with her food. Barring a few ministry officials Harry hadn't spoken to anyone. He simply avoided everyone. Except for a few minutes in the shattered Gryffindor common room he hadn't been seen since last night. She was starting to worry. Something was very wrong with Harry but hadn't had the chance to speak to him properly since before the final battle with Voldemort. Last night he had disappeared, and then showed up this morning looking exhausted, with pale skin and shaking hands. What was it, just exhaustion an injury? Or was it that Harry's breaking point been reached?
Ginny Weasley watched Hermione toy with her food, pushing it around on her plate. A part of Ginny wanted to comfort her, tell her that he would be alright, that things would be alright. Guilt and anger wouldn't let her. Last night she had let her anger and her grief speak terrible hateful words. She wished she hadn't said them and she should have immediately apologised but she had been too angry.
Things were not alright. Her brother was dead. Just the thought of it was enough to make breathing difficult. Her brother was DEAD. He won't be coming back.
As she lay crying in bed a terrible thought had arisen 'this is Harry's fault'.
She tried to deny it, to logic it away, she couldn't. Ginny knew it wasn't fair. She knew others were grieving, others felt the same pain she felt. But still she heard the little voice blaming Harry. 'His fault, his fault, his fault…'
Then she felt a hand on her arm.
"Ginny, Ginny wake up."
The voice spoke just above a whisper "Ginny I want to talk to you."
Her half awake mind suddenly joined the dots "Harry?" she whispered.
"Come down to the common room we need to talk" He whispered and quietly walked out the door.
Minutes later Ginny descended the stairs seeing a solitary cloaked figure sitting in one of the ripped chairs. "Harry, where have you been?" she began her voice getting louder "Everyone has been looking for you since dinner."
Harry shrugged away the question "Ginny I need you to.." what he wanted to say was cut off as Ginny reared back.
"What you want, WHAT YOU NEED, my brothers DEAD you fucking prick, you pissed off and left us to fight for you. Your cunning fucking plan killed him, killed Remus, killed Tonks you should be the boy-who-kills" through out her shrill rant Harry sat as if stunned. Then simply got up and silently walked away leaving her furious and red eyed in an empty common room.
Yes she shouldn't have said what she had. She had let her famous temper control her tongue. With a sigh she promised herself that she would talk to Harry.
It was growing dark when a figure emerges atop the damaged Astronomy tower. Harry Potter The-boy-who-lived looks over the edge and seriously contemplates jumping. Then the dark and familiar voice was back.
'What will you do now boy? You are like me now. You shall raise your banner and a new dark lord shall arise'
'Yes you will boy. Potter the dark lord, the great betrayer'
He shudders as once more dark twisted magic started to flow through him. It was getting stronger now. He could feel it burning his veins flowing in waves off his skin.
'Your friends fear you now. Soon they shall turn against you.'
'Yes, they will Harry. They shall turn on you and….'
'Yes they will. They will force you to fight them and fight you will. You have killed, you will kill again. Revenge, Hate, Death your path to power'
'NO, I'll kill myself before I travel that path.'
'You don't have time to fight it Harry; already the darkness has claimed you. You feel the power in your veins. You are strong Harry. They are weak. The weak fear the strong'
'No I don't lie Harry. Already they plot against you. The champions of the light will destroy you to save themselves. They are right to fear you. You feel it, soon you shall use it and then we shall see.'
Shuddering convulsively Harry moves closer to the towers edge.
A familiar voice pierced the haze in Harry's mind. "Harry what are you doing?"
Harry shudded convulsively and moved closer to the towers edge.
"Mr Potter, what are you doing?" demanded the sharp, accented voice of Minerva McGonagall.
"Step back Mr Potter," demanded another voice. Without looking he can feel the protective spells, woven around the newcomer.
'See boy already they are defending themselves against you, the threat you represent'
'Get out of my mind'
'Harry you can cast me out. Use your power free yourself. Walk the path of power'
"Harry, who are you talking to?" Minerva's voice sounds nervous, concerned.
Harry turned toward her but staggered, almost falling to his knees as another surge of power channelled through his body.
"Watch out he's casting a spell".
"Wait Dawson hold your fire..."
Harry didn't move or cast a spell but still a barrier of silver light reflected the stunner.
'Strike them down boy, quickly before they kill you'
'Kill them Boy'
Disconnected from what was happening around him Harry Potter the-boy –who-lived fought against the dark presence in his mind, a shadow of his mortal enemy that was left behind. Harry fought against him even as he realised that he was losing the battle. Dark magic coursed through him as more spells struck the shield protecting him. He was losing control and that left him no choice, it all came down to now.
Harry stepped off the tower.