The Second Chance
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing of J. K. Rowling and Kurinoone's universe. This story is written with permission from Kurinoone, and is based on Kurinoone's fabulous, beyond awesome story- "The Darkness Within" (which was inspired by Project Dark Overlord's wonderful story- "The Shattered Prophesy").
For those who have read this story previously, I have decided to rewrite the entire story as I am very unsatisfied with the great number of mistakes and how the story turned out. I can promise you that this will definitely be 70% different from what I wrote last time.
Chapter 1: The Clock Strikes Twelve
"No," repeated Damien frustratedly for the upteenth time. "I said no, Hedwig. Harry doesn't like birds that peck his finger, be it affectionate or not. You are not going to do that ever again, hear me?"
The snowy owl hooted, then hopped away, looking sulky, its amber eyes glaring at Damien. Not for the first time, Damien wondered if buying Hedwig for Harry's seventeenth birthday present had been a good idea. But it was too late to back out of it now; he had already spent his Galleons, and he had been training Hedwig for the past few weeks for the grand moment the clock striked twelve, in which he would present Hedwig to Harry.
It had been admittedly difficult keeping a live snowy owl secret from his family and friends, especially his elder brother, who had a knack of finding out things he shouldn't- in Damien's opinion. Somehow he managed to plunge through, storing poor Hedwig first under his bed with a silencing charm, then his cupboard, then the broom closet, only letting her out in the darkest of nights for not more than one hour. The shopkeeper had assured Damien of Hedwig's intelligence, but now Damien was starting to worry about her temper. Hedwig tended to make a lot of fuss if she were displeased. Harry had little patience too. What if Harry ended up killing the poor owl?
However, now Damien had more pressing matters on his mind. He only came to find Hedwig to distract himself from doing something rash. Part of him was screaming at himself- do something, Harry is currently being tortured by Voldemort, and you're standing here playing with an owl! - but his father's words came back to him, and his memory conjured up Harry's stern expression before him.
Hedwig gave another mournful hoot, and Damien reached out his hand to stroke her feathers absent- mindedly.
"Sorry for the hard time I gave you," he said, not for the first and last time. "But it'll be over soon, I promise. Once the clock strikes twelve, you'll fly over to Harry and perform that spinning- flying thing we practised before, okay?"
Damien could have sworn Hedwig rolled her eyes.
"Alright, I'll just be popping back to the Burrow," said Damien, looking at the timepiece. He was anxious for news of Harry, and the first place likely to receive information was Ron's home. All the members of the Order, including his parents, were there. Damien had returned to Potter Manor few minutes ago to free Hedwig from her cage, on the unlikely but hopeful event that Harry would turn up for his seventeenth birthday party unharmed and on time. "You can fly away now. Just remember to turn up when Harry turns seventeen. You still remember his scent?"
Damien held up one of Harry's robes and offered it to Hedwig, but the snowy owl seemed to roll her eyes again. She then hooted and flew away into the starry sky. For an involuntary moment, she looked as though she would nip Damien's finger- an owl's way of showing affection- but on remembering the youngest Potter's orders, hurriedly withdrew her beak and soared out of the bathroom window. Damien sighed and hung Harry's robes in the bathroom, before opening the door and letting himself out.
"Dad!" called Damien. "I'm done. Can we go back now?"
James had insisted himself accompany Damien back to their Manor. He was getting more and more paranoid since Harry left, and wouldn't let Damien out of his sight for more than ten minutes.
His father appeared, looking pale, his hair messier than ever. He ran his hand through his dark hair again, and refusing to meet Damien's eyes, he said, "The Order has news."
"What? What did they say?" suddenly Damien was afraid of the answer.
James did not supply him with one. He just strode over to the fireplace and threw a handful of Floo Powder into the red flames, which immediately turned a blazing emerald green.
"The Burrow!" he said, almost a whisper. Then he was gone.
Voldemort stood towering over the boy he'd once seriously and foolishly considered as a son, feeling waves of rage coursing through him, disrupting his rational thinking. Harry was clearly fighting the urge to hiss in pain at the flare of pain on his forehead, which gave the Dark Lord certain satisfaction.
Satisfaction that he'd hurt the boy that betrayed him. Stabbed him back where it hurt the most, like what Harry had done to him.
Meanwhile, Harry's heartbeat had slowed into a moderate pace. Now that he had had Ginny and Nigel safely out of harm's way, it was the best case scenario that he'd been hoping for. Right now, there was no knowing what Voldemort would do to him- he was well aware of his father's creativeness when it came to torture- but somehow the thought was steadying, almost soothing.
Soon, it'd be all over. His nightmare of a life would be snuffed out. He just hoped it would happen a bit sooner.
The footsteps stopped before him, and a familiar shadow cast over Harry. For some unexplainable, inexplicable reason, Harry was reminded of the time when he was six and he had been caught wandering off premises in Riddle Manor.
"I gave you your greatest dreams and ambitions," said the high cold voice, familiar, yet Harry felt a little unused to the coldness directed at him. "But it was you who decided to fill your last days with nothing but pain and torture."
An immense blanket of silence fell across the room; the Death- Eaters stopped shuffling excitedly, and waited with bated breaths for some action. Harry found an indiscernable urge to roll his eyes. That was the Dark Lord, always pausing for dramatic effect. Harry used to tell him that pauses only served to ruin the climatic effect, but as usual Voldemort never listened.
"You have given me nothing but pain and torture all my life," said Harry, tilting his head in an awkward angle to raise his eyes, so he could meet the ruby red gaze. "Why end things differently?"
Something flashed across Voldemort's features, something unreadable; but Harry took it as a sign of vulnerability and smirked. Probably not the best course of action, for it served to anger his father further, and within minutes he had incurred the wrath of the Dark Lord upon himself.
"Macnair," said Voldemort, his ruby red eyes boring into Harry's, contempt and fury somehow etched in his expressionless mask. "Thirty strokes, no more."
He transfigured a whip from thin air and laid it down before the Death- Eater's feet, who promptly went on his knees to thank the Dark Lord for such a high honor. Voldemort's lips were pressed into a thin line, struggling to alter his personality from the protective father he had been for over a decade to a merciless killer within seconds. Harry could tell he wasn't having much luck.
For a moment, Harry was sure Voldemort was going to walk away- Harry guessed that as much as Voldemort had hardened and forced himself to inflict tortures and punishments, he would never stick around to watch the Dark Prince bleed before him. It was far from understandable to Harry, as what kind of enemy doesn't want to watch your foe suffer and die before you, considering Voldemort was the all- time Dark Lord? But he noticed that so far, the Dark Lord had avoided looking at him altogether, especially when the Death- Eaters were laughing and jabbing him in his back.
Although there was only one explainable reason, Harry didn't fool himself into thinking Voldemort actually still cared. He had been lied to from the very start! He'd rather die than let it happen again. The Dark Lord stopped for a moment to deliver his last words.
"You're throwing away everything a wizard could ever want, do you realize that? As a punishment, I shall ensure that you'll suffer beyond your greatest nightmares. You will regret doing everything you did, betraying me," he spat the last word.
Harry found himself laughing humourlessly, a dry and raspy sound that reverberated eerily in the chamber. "You gave me everything Tom Riddle Junior ever wanted," he corrected. "I never yearned for the things he craved for."
The Death- Eaters were now looking a little less cocky; most of them looked surprised. None of them had heard of Tom Riddle Junior. Doubtless Voldemort's past was still hidden in the dark to them.
Voldemort looked as though he was going to say something else, but Macnair picked up the whip and lashed it mercilessly on Harry's back, accompanied by the excited cries of 'ONE!' and the moment was lost. The Dark Lord turned on his heels and forced himself to complete the last few steps, ignoring Harry's hiss of pain behind him, fiery determination fuelling his hatred towards Harry Potter.
It was definitely bad enough that blows were raining down on his back, each one stinging more than the next; but his scar chose that moment to flare up to an unbearable point, causing Harry's first cry of pain to leave his throat. Harry could have sworn he saw Voldemort's steps falter, but he tore his eyes away from the figure he once called 'father' immediately after, opting to concentrate on the whip that sliced the air once more.
The Death Eaters' jeers amplified with each strangled cry that left him, rejoicing in the torture of the Dark Prince.
There was a rustle; a flurry of movement, and Harry caught sight of Lucius' silver hem of his robes trail across the floor, sprinting after the Dark Lord, before Harry's world was spun into a spinning world of darkness.
When his consciousness resurfaced, he heard the sharp cries of 'TWENTY- NINE' and sighed mentally. The whips weren't sufficient to kill him- yet. How long would he endure this torture?
The last cry was accompanied by a bone- shattering slash across his shoulder blades, causing him to keel forward and kneel, face- down, in his pool of blood. His world was swaying dangerously, tilting and darkening; the pain in his forehead was so intense he felt as though his head might split in two. A trickle of warmth down his lips told him the worst.
A hand grasped his torn shoulder and pushed him upright roughly, causing another involuntary hiss of pain. A face peered closely at his, then jeering laughter rippled through the chamber.
"Only a few whips, and you get a nose-bleed!" cried Macnair, clapping his hands in malicious joy. The Death- Eater was childish, yet evil.
The laughter stopped as Macnair raised the whip for the thirty- first time. "Now why don't you come quietly to your cell, Potter... before I decide that thirty strokes aren't enough for you."
Harry caught sight of Lucius and his father standing on the balcony through the open doorway. An idea sparked in his dying mind.
"You wouldn't dare," he said softly, laughter suggested on his features.
Macnair's smile disappeared, to be replaced with an ugly snarl. A quick glance around confirmed that the other Death- Eaters were thinking the same. Determination to prove himself overcame his fear, and Macnair walked forwards and slashed the whip down Harry's back for the thirty- first time. The blow was not as hard as he would have liked it to be, and he was quick to withdraw the whip and laugh forcefully after that, but it didn't change the fact that he had done it. He had defied the Dark Lord's orders, and he was going to pay.
A hushed silence travelled through the room, and Harry saw through his blurring vision Voldemort striding into the chamber, his robes billowing behind him, Lucius following in his wake.
Again, a pause. For the dramatic effect.
"Harry's torture was a lesson in which you did not take, Macnair," hissed the Dark Lord, his wand trained lazily on the Death- Eater before him.
Macnair's face was an ashen gray. He opened his mouth several times, but emitted not a single sound.
Though Voldemort could have easily used a non- verbal Killing Curse, he felt it necessary to enunciate each word, allowing the fear to travel home. Macnair's eyes went wide, then the curse hit him. He fell back into Harry's blood with a sickening splat, lifeless.
Voldemort's wand was now pointed at the Dark Prince, who was set in a kneeling position before him. For the last time, emerald eyes met ruby ones.
"Goodbye Harry," he said, his face covered by an expressionless mask; the mask he adapted when he didn't want to show what he was feeling. Which meant he adapted it quite often.
This time, the Dark Lord did not utter the words. Just a quick blast of green light from the wand, and Harry slumped forward like a limp doll. Beside him, Lucius gave a cry, and darted forwards to the boy he had loved like a son. Severus Snape, who was standing in the crowd of Death- Eaters, clenched his fist so hard his knuckles went white.
"All of you, leave," commanded the Dark Lord. "And remember the lesson taught today. Those who defy me defy life instead."
If Harry were awake, he'd tease Voldemort on how much he sounded like a Professor.
Lucius was still on the ground, staring at the lifeless form, disbelief etched on his features. In a minute, he had transformed into a man ten years older, and tears of grief clouded his eyes.
"Another chance," he whispered. "He deserved another chance."
The door behind them was now closed. Nobody dared question the Dark Lord why Lucius was allowed to stay behind. Frankly, most of the Death- Eaters were bracing themself for Voldemort's call to carry out Lucius' dead body by now. After all, hadn't they just learnt their lesson for disobeying orders?
Voldemort cast a shadow over both Lucius and Harry. Twilight was now filtering through the floor- to- ceiling windows, bathing the chamber in an eerie red glow.
"Nobody deserves second chances, Lucius," said Voldemort, his voice soft yet intimidating. "Harry certainly did not. But I gave him one."
Lucius' head snapped up, his grief suddenly misplaced. "My Lord?" he enquired, tentative but hopeful.
The Dark Lord did not answer. He pointed his wand at Harry, and a trail of silvery mist started to leak from the lifeless figure. Lucius was feeling for Harry's pulse. He placed a thumb over his wrist, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
"He's alive," he half- choked, half- whispered. "He lives. But... how?"
The Dark Lord sighed. "The Stunning Spell masked in a jet of green light. If you had been more observant, you'd have noticed a trail of brown in the spell's wake."
Lucius crumpled to the floor, his back raking with relieved and controlled sobs. His robes were immediately stained with crimson blood, but he paid them no heed. For one long and uncomfortable minute, Voldemort stared at the two figures on the ground, wondering if he had made the right decision. But this decision seemed to hurt himself less, he reasoned with himself. By faking Harry's death, he'd have his powerful warrior back by his side, and the wizarding world's faith would be swayed following the supposed death of the Boy- Who- Lived. A win- win situation.
Carefully he extracted all of Harry's memories and placed them in a flask. Slumped, lifeless on the ground was another figure in black. Voldemort directed another jet of light at what was left of Macnair. Within seconds, there was an two identical Harry Potters slumped in the pool of blood; one barely breathing, the other completely devoid of life.
"Lucius," said Voldemort. "Alert the wizarding world of the Dark Prince's death."
The world stopped spinning as Damien followed his father numbly through the fireplace, his heart beating at double speed. What news did the Order have? Had Harry returned? Was he safe?
The atmosphere in the Burrow was unnerving. All lights had been extinguished, yet there was a faint silvery glow emitting from the dining room. Quickly, Damien hastened to follow his father.
The sight of the silver doe standing in the midst of the Weasleys on the table plummeted Damien's hope, but only by a fraction. A false yet strong belief had took over him. His elder brother would live.
But the silver Patronus took all hope in the Burrow away. It raised its head, and seemed to look at Lily as it did so, then spoke in the voice of Severus Snape, "Harry Potter is dead."
The awful truth took some time to sink in, but the Patronus continued speaking, ploughing on relentless of the grief and sorrow that gripped the room. "The Death- Eaters are departing for Hogsmeade within an hour. The Ministry has fallen. Macnair has been killed- "
A hurled ornament at the silver Patronus caused it to evaporate into nothing but silvery mist. Damien blinked, trying to get used to the sudden darkness. There was loud 'crack' as the ornament connected with the wall opposite and promptly, undoubtedly, smashed into a thousand pieces. This unexpected source of violence proved to come from James.
He was standing up, his face a blur in the darkness, but Damien knew with a sinking heart how his father would look like. Anguished, grieved. Broken. The way he was before Damien was born to him fifteen years ago. And after that, what would follow? An expressionless mask? A cold exterior.
Lily's sobs caused a searing pain in Damien's heart. "Harry's gone," she repeated. "My first son, dead."
Molly smothered Lily in her arms, as though to fence out every human sadness, trying her best to comfort her friend. For the rest of the occupants in the room, there was only shock; just before the truth sank in. Damien stared numbly as his stubborn father uttered his last words, "Harry is not dead", before James left the room, presumably to Apparate to Hogsmeade for revenge. James' statement was neither encouraging, hopeful, nor eloquent- it was just a statement of defiance, of determination to believe in what he wanted to, although that belief itself was already shattered.
A feeling of loss stole over the youngest Potter as he watched his father leave the Burrow, Sirius' protesting voice ringing in his ears. James would never be the carefree father he once was to Damien ever again.
Damien stared in the direction of where Lily was sobbing brokenly; the spot where James had vanished; the unopened presents the Weasleys had heaped on the table, another painful reminder of their loss. His first tear slid down the bridge of his nose, splashing and smudging the birthday card he was going to give Harry which he held in his hands. In one single moment, Damien had lost everything.
Voldemort was seated in his study, rifling through Harry's memories as though he were reading a book. A hesitant knock on the door revealed Lucius Malfoy, his pureblood dignity held high once again, now that his robes and hopes were restored.
"The Death- Eaters are assembled at Hogsmeade, as you ordered," reported Lucius. "They are currently stationed all around the Black Tomb, setting fire and causing general havoc. Only a handful of Ministry officials remain free of our control. Others have either succumbed to the Imperius Curse, blackmail, or have been killed. So far, the Order has not yet arrived at the scene."
Voldemort nodded. "And what of the Dark Prince?"
"His injuries are fatal, My Lord," replied Lucius, looking a shade paler. "The whip was laced with poison that prevented his wounds from healing. I have tried my best to staunch the bleeding... he should recover quickly," he added in reassurance.
The Dark Lord did not reply as he directed more silver mist into a rotating crystal ball, something that looked remotely like a Divination Prophesy crystal ball. Lucius twitched uncomfortably.
"A-Are those Harry's memories, my Lord?" he asked, a tad tentative.
Voldemort looked up at Lucius. "I have sorted out his memories, allowing him to remember everything he ought to... his memories are exactly the same as before he first met the real James Potter in person." The Dark Lord paused. "With the exception of Draco Malfoy."
Lucius was stunned. His son had always been Harry's best friend. "D-Draco?" he echoed.
"My spies reveal something intriguing, Lucius," went on the Dark Lord. "Your son was reported to have simply disappeared since we captured Harry Potter. He was last seen a house away from Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, believed to be the Headquarters of the Order of Phoenix."
Lucius swallowed, his mind reeling. "But that is impossible," he said, trying to keep himself calm. "Draco would never willingly befriend the Order. Supposedly he got kidnapped?"
"Draco's combating skills would have prevented that from happening, I am sure- at least, he would have put up a fight, which would have left trails on the street. And right before Draco disappeared, I believe he was in contact with one Sirius Black. Doubtless he was brought over by the Order to plot Harry's escape, but they failed."
"No, surely not!" Lucius' face was wild with panic. He was so close to losing Harry, now Draco had went off to join the Order. Voldemort would doubtless hunt down his only son for revenge. "My Lord, I-"
Voldemort put up a hand, signalling for Lucius to stop. Malfoy immediately obeyed the unspoken command, falling back into what felt like horrified silence. What was going to be the Dark Lord's punishment? Immediate death?
"You know as well as I do that your son is living now, because I spare him," said Voldemort in a slow, intimidating voice. "But I will let him continue his shameful existence on one condition, that is you fulfill your duty as protector to Harry. If anyone gets a whiff of Harry's continued existence, if anyone finds out... I shall personally rip your son limb by limb in front of you. Am I clear?"
Lucius nodded, slight relief washing over his features. "Yes, my Lord."
"There is one more matter," said Voldemort, causing Lucius to go taut again. "I may have promised not to harm your son, but my promise will not stand if your son chooses to meet me on my path. If I were to find him opponent in the battlefield, or if he poses threat, and comes to my doors asking for trouble, he will have a more painful ending than Macnair."
Lucius nodded again. "Yes, I understand, my Lord."
"Good. Remember, you are not to let slip to Harry anything he is not supposed to know, including your son, Peter Pettigrew, and of course the truth in itself. Harry will no longer remember anything of Hogwarts, seeing as he only entered the school after he met his father, which I have altered his memories so he will forget. And lastly, the only people who know of Harry's second chance is are the people in this room, and I intend to keep it that way, understood?" The threat was barely hidden beneath the words.
"Yes my Lord."
Silvery mist was rolling in the depths of the crystal ball, containing the memories Voldemort had wiped clean from the Dark Prince's mind. The Dark Lord got up from his armchair. "I believe it is now time to cast the Memory Charm on Harry. Follow me, Lucius."
Harry was still unconscious when Lucius and Voldemort entered the room. The Dark Prince was now lying in his rightful room. However, it was a lie to say that his belongings remained untouched, for the first few things Voldemort did after learning of Harry's betrayal was to destroy all the presents he once gave to Harry. Fortunately, most of them were restored, although if Harry looked closer at the ninja blades, some of them were rather deformed (they had nearly melted in the fire).
The memory charm was placed without fuss or ceremony. The Dark Lord had important matters to attend to- such as the raid going on in Hogsmeade. After staring at the face that looked so uncannily like James Potter, Voldemort turned to leave.
"Guard the Manor while I'm away, Lucius," he said, giving his final order, before he left the room, Lucius in his wake.
Outside, the clock striked twelve.
Harry had turned seventeen.
Magic immediately engulfed Harry's entire being, lifting him off the mattress by several inches. Sparks targeted his every wound or injury, healing and restoring his powers to the maximum. One of the effects of the magic was to lift the Memory Charm, if not temporarily.
Harry's eyelids fluttered open as he took in his surroundings. What was happening? Why was he not dead? Perchance this was only an illusion created by his tired mind.
A strange hooting noise could be heard outside the window. Frowning, Harry immediately leapt off the bed and wrenched the panels open. Night air rushed in to greet him... followed by a snowy owl.
Said snowy owl started behaving in a ridiculous manner, swooping high and low, then turning a somersault before landing gracefully on his shoulder, hooting softly. Its amber eyes suggested that it was feeling rather annoyed, for a reason Harry could not comprehend.
On its leg, Harry saw a small envelope attached to it. Feeling as though his dream was getting weirder and weirder, Harry reached for the letter, and the snowy owl obediently lifted its leg, allowing Harry to untie it.
Dear Harry, it wrote. The 'dear' was then crossed out.
When you read this letter, you have probably returned safely from Riddle Manor. Although I don't know if you've lost a limb when you read this (though I fervently hope not), words cannot express how glad I am that you have finally came home for your seventeenth birthday.
How do you like the snowy owl? Her name is Hedwig. If she pecks you on the finger, please don't get annoyed. I've told her over and over again not to do it (I know you don't like owls pecking you), but it's just the way how owls display affection. Even if you somehow get very irritated, please don't kill the poor owl, for I've spent many weeks training her and I currently have zero Galleons in my pocket, thanks to you.
And what do you think about Hedwig's performance? The somersault was pretty cool, wasn't it? It took me weeks to train and perfect her move.
Hope you like your seventeenth birthday present! Although you might not be feeling very cheerful right now, I'd still like to wish you a happy birthday!
Harry's fingers trembled as he read the letter. This wasn't a dream. He was alive! He hadn't been killed. But he remembered the jet of green light heading for him clearly. How could he live? And more importantly, why was he healed, then laid on the bed in his own room in Riddle Manor? Did they have other purposes for him?
Harry noted the Batra bracelet on his wrist and a cold chill ran down his spine. Another purpose?
Surely not. The Dark Lord wouldn't give him another chance, would he? He didn't want to be controlled all over again. What if this time he actually hurt his family? What if Voldemort wiped his memories again, and he never regained them?
The thought was unbearable. In blind panic, Harry rummaged around his drawers, and found some singed parchment and quill beneath his set of ninja blades. Quickly, he snatched up the quill and ink and started to write.
Five minutes later, steady footsteps started to approach the door. A bead of sweat ran down Harry's face. With uncontrollably shaking hands, he tied the letters to Hedwig's leg, petted the owl he could never have for the last time and practically threw her out of the window.
The door was flung open.
It was too late now to pretend anything. He tried to bring up his shield, but Voldemort's Cruciatus Curse punched through it and sent him sprawling on the ground. Magic was buzzing through Harry; he ached for a fight, but he couldn't sense the presence of his wand. It failed to respond to his summons.
Suddenly, something cold weighed down on his head, pressing and driving him to his knees. Images of when he first met James Potter, of when he first entered Hogwarts flashed across his mind, then disappeared altogether. Voldemort's Memory Charm was weighing down on him.
Harry tried to ward it off; for an excruciating five minutes, his magic blocked out the Memory Charm, but the Crustacius Curses Voldemort fired at him weakened Harry's magic greatly. He successfully dodged a few, but more kept coming. Lucius' wand was also trained on the Dark Prince, trying to breakthrough his blue shield.
Suddenly, the pain in Harry's scar flared, and for precious seconds he lost concentration. The Memory Charm hit him with full blast. Once again, the Dark Prince collasped to his knees.
"No!" Harry was now screaming, trying to fight off the charm. "NO!"
But it was too late to do anything. A simple stunning spell, and Harry was lying unconscious on the floor, the memory Charm engulfing his brain. When he woke up, he would be a different person entirely. He would be the person he was brought up to be.
In the doorway, Lucius' shoulders slumped, relieved. Voldemort had detected a disturbance in Harry's memories just before he Apparated away, and ordered Lucius to check on Harry. After that, The Dark Lord suddenly remembered it was Harry's seventeenth birthday, and quickly hurried up the stairs himself. It appeared they were just in time to stop Harry's attempted escapade from the window.
"Watch over him until I come back," said Voldemort to Lucius, after Harry had been Leviated onto the bed once again. "Do not leave this room until I order you to. If you lose him, you lose your son also."
With a final look at the Dark Prince, Voldemort turned and left the room, his black robes billowing behind him.
A/N: What do you think about it? Please review!