The Second Chance
DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything of Harry Potter. This story is inspired by Kurinoone's awesome story 'The Darkness Within', which was inspired by Project Dark Overlord's wonderful fic- 'A Shattered Prophesy'.
So yeah, this is the last installment of The Second Chance. To think it's been 3 whole years! This is my first ever completed story :3 so cheers! As you must have all realized, I depend greatly on all of your wonderful comments, reviews, supports and ratings to gain inspiration, so much gratitude is owed to you guys: especially Kurinoone of course, who wrote the Dark Prince trilogy series, and by reading and reviewing every single time, thank you so much :)
Thank you to all my faithful readers and reviewers, (and beginning from the list I neglected to mention in my haste to upload the last chapter): Chapter 28 Of the Second Chance is hereby dedicated to: merl7, xturkeysexygranneh, 7 Guests, Ash-Bookworm113, Phoenixx Rising, Oirasse, tiger1lily, Lilyzinha, Jessica, G, JustSmile x3, Potterholic1999, dark lady, Clawdor, AwesomeReaderandWriter 357, Nyra Lily Potter, Caroline, leaflakes, MrsGinnyWeasleyPotter, Kurinoone and avidreader.
It was now middle of November. One whole month had passed since the final battle of Hogwarts, since the Wizarding World had been split into half: the so called 'Pure' and 'Impure' region' ; it was ironic that the Dark region also happened to be the part of the former.
There were quite a few places in which Voldemort managed to conquer in Britain- almost a quarter of Diagon Alley including Knockturn, a significant part of Hogsmeade, Rookwill, even Greville Town and the surrounding areas; the little villages scattered around Hogwarts. The Ministry of Magic building. Godric's Hollow, however, remained untouched - so was Hogwarts itself.
The areas conquered however were under a separate reign; under Lord Voldemort. Where the border lines were drawn, and only those whose blood were deemed pure or worthy enough were allowed to enter... the fine line between Muggles and wizards was marked clearly by the bloodshed in that war.
Hogwarts now acted as the only bridge left to mend the rift between purebloods and the latter; the only place where both kinds of wizards were allowed to mix freely.
For most it sounded like a tragedy; but for some parts, the change brought good too. Old pureblood families who had always detested Muggles were now content; the muggles had already been completely moved from their homes to the 'Impure' region- the non- wizarding community was safe at last.
In the established 'Pure' region, Voldemort built his empire and grew steadily; establishing a new Ministry of magic of their own. As for the old Ministry, they had relocated it to a temporary location which was in high profile secrecy; Fudge had long since been sacked, and Kingsley was now the acting officer.
...Britain was never quite the same again.
A Month Later
"The meeting is over."
At a simple gesture of Voldemort's hand, there was the scraping of chairs and the rest of the Death- Eaters who were now acting as officers in the Pure empire- hastily stood and left. The younger wizard sitting at his right hand also stood, but fingers closed in a vice- like grip around the other's wrist and yanked Harry downwards.
Harry allowed himself to fall back a tad ungracefully into his seat, his face registering surprise- but even so Voldemort felt it was an improvement. For the past month, Harry had remained completely emotionless; unmoved and impassive to almost everything he did.
"My lord?" Harry questioned, as the double doors closed softly behind them.
Voldemort did not speak, instead he left Harry pondering in silence until the last of the footsteps had faded away. It was only then when he appraised the boy for what felt like the first time in months... and for that brief moment he wondered if he should have done things a little differently, but the notion was gone within the second.
Harry looked defeated; there was no other better word to describe it... and in a sense he was. He was tied to being a supporter of the Dark Lord's cause, bound forever to the 'Pure' region where he had sworn his allegiance. The Wizarding community was already divided; only few were allowed to cross the boundaries, and it was only with consent from both parties that admission was given.
Harry stared resolutely at the table before him, his arms itching to fold across his chest- but he kept them by his side with much difficulty, posture still straight though his expression did not suggest the slightest hint of submission.
"During the battle, a month ago," Voldemort began suddenly, his ruby red eyes never leaving Harry's face, "you may wonder how you managed to survive the Killing Curse."
There was a flicker of emotion across the younger's face, but it was quickly over, replaced by a completely nonplussed impassive mask.
"You were one of my Horcruxes Harry," Voldemort said flatly, watching greedily as he detected both shock and surprise from the boy sitting across him. "I planted a part of my soul in you which tied round your magical core, gifting you the ability to speak Parseltongue, and amongst that, you were marked the heir to Salazar Slytherin."
Heavy silence fell for a moment, Harry once again staring blankly at Voldemort, his gaze no longer penetrating; cold, but dead, silent.
"When you were hit by the Killing curse, the spell's dark magic chose to eliminate that weaker piece of life compared to your magical aura- my Horcrux" Voldemort continued relentless. "But you may find your ability to speak to snakes has not diminished... I implanted more than my soul in you Harry. I invested my own magical core." He smiled mirthlessly. "It may be that while you no longer feel intense pain in your scar around me, but there will always be a shadow of it."
Harry's eyes seemed to narrow slightly at this, but otherwise he gave no reply.
There was a long silence after that. Voldemort stared at Harry, willing the boy to show the slightest bit of emotion- frustration, anger even- he wanted the boy to lash out; he wanted to see the brimming confidence, the power he had once built up in his young warrior; he didn't even know why. But there was nothing left; just an empty shell.
Even Harry's aura, which had always been magnificent and annoyingly dominating, had retracted back slightly, as if Harry were holding back. It felt no longer as strong as it was when Harry had been actively rebelling against him, not as strong as it ought to be. It wasn't really- but it still felt weak.
"You said you were tired of this," Voldemort said at last with a sigh, "Stop fighting me, Harry."
This seemed to provoke a slight reaction, and Voldemort felt a twinge of triumph as he watched Harry's eyes narrow slightly, though the boy's tone was perfectly submissive.
"I don't know what you mean, my Lord."
It was a wonder how the boy could make a submissive, meek sentence sound both annoying and challenging. Voldemort felt his temper with the boy snap.
"Do not lie to me Harry," he hissed, "you know perfectly well what I mean. You sworn to be fighting on my side-"
"- I have," Harry interrupted, but was cut across by Voldemort.
"- but not whole- heartedly. I see you hesitate, I see you glance across the borders to the Impure region during the Mark." I see you turn away, eyes hooded and lifeless each time. "You claim submission, but you aren't. You are acting like a petulant teenager being grounded and I am not tolerating this behaviour any longer."
Harry could scarcely believe his ears. "Excuse me?!" he very nearly spluttered, unaware this was the first time in months he had spoken to Voldemort out of turn. "How does me obeying your every single bloody order tie in with a petulant teenager!"
"You ignore me unless you're forced to reply," Voldemort deadpanned.
"I thought that's what your followers are supposed to do," he didn't bother keeping the sneer out of his voice.
"Problem being you are not my follower."
Harry stopped short, the words dying in his throat, stunned into silence. What was that supposed to mean now? With Voldemort's second intentions and double meanings you could never really tell, but still...
"Meet me in the hallway at eight sharp tonight Harry," Voldemort said at last, effectively breaking the silence as he rose to leave. "It's been ages since you dueled me."
For a moment Harry had the sudden urge to ask "Are you really Voldemort?"- really, the day had been full with surprises. But as the familiar ruby red gaze held his once more, he just nodded in reply, before pausing at Voldemort's raised eyebrow.
Voldemort cocked his head to one side. "In the unlikely event you do beat me, Harry... I'll grant you the night off. Free reign. One night only."
He turned to walk away, barely holding in a satisfied smirk as he watched Harry stare after him with an almost comical surprised expression.
Damien stared out of the window lost in thought. It was raining heavily outside, the sky overcast with dark angry clouds which refused to scatter, and he was beginning to feel increasingly anxious. Harry had promised to drop by one last time, and if he gave his word, he knew his elder brother would come despite the rainy weathers these days... yet weeks had passed since the Marking... Harry had still failed to appear.
He grew increasingly frustrated each day, pacing restlessly by the window every night just in case Harry arrived late but his wait was always in vain. Often he would wake up blearily to sunlight glaring at him through the window, his neck aching from slumping over at an awkward angle, and he would crawl to bed and stay there till afternoon.
It wasn't healthy, really- he would be disorientated and half- awake throughout the day, but he couldn't just roll over and fall asleep with his inner voice screaming at him to turn around and watch the window for a glimpse of his elder brother.
Truth was, he was worried. Part of him knew and understood now, that Harry could never live with them anymore- when Harry turned up a day before the Marking, breathless, almost panicky when he couldn't find Damien in his room. He still remembered walking in from dinner with the Weasleys to greatest shock of his life; Harry pacing up and down by the window impatiently.
There wasn't much to say; merely Harry telling him in an oddly flat and detached tone he wouldn't be coming back. There had been an edge of pain to it when Harry said it, as though silently pleading, and Damien couldn't bring himself to protest- what good would it do anyway?- and he had said a simple 'okay'. He also managed to hand over Harry's ring, the Pensive, which he had found hidden inside the cracked Layhoo Jisteen. It had taken Damien hours to pry it apart.
Harry had actually dropped by to check on Damien, but Damien insisted he was fine except for quite a number of cool scars criss- crossing over his back. In the end, the youngest Potter couldn't quite manage a scowl when Harry ruffled his hair with a slight laugh and called him a scarred stubborn lion. Whatever that meant. Then his elder brother was gone once more, soaring into the night with the faintest shaky promise that maybe, someday he'd drop by to see his family again.
It seemed rather hollow to Damien, nevertheless he was here waiting again. But as he cast his eyes out into the rain, he couldn't help but feel a little discouraged; he shut the window and climbed into bed, pulling the covers high up above his head to block out the pitter- patter of the raindrops against the roof.
Naturally, on the first night Damien decided to shut the window, Harry decided to turn up. The elder of the pair was barely keeping his broom steady in the howling wind, and much to Harry's brief annoyance Damien had decided to lock the latches as well. Which meant they would not be yielding to any spell unless you were inside. He had cast the impenetrable spell himself after all.
'Here goes' Harry thought wryly, and blasted the window off its hinges with a wave of his hand. He landed lightly in the middle of the room, and another quick charm had the window mended once more.
He turned around grinning slightly, adrenaline still coursing through him from the duel. They had fought over an hour; his muscles were still screaming from Voldemort's creative hexes. He really ought to train more intensively these days. But at the prospect of a single night of free reign, it had drove him even harder still to fight.
Already envisioning the open- mouthed shocked Damien staring at him, Harry crossed the middle of the room. Damien was still sound asleep. The boy was utterly unbelievable.
He snapped his fingers loudly, and his dripping broom was levitated to float directly above Damien. Still no response, not even when droplets of water started dripping from his broom right into Damien's open mouth. Damien snorted slightly and turned away.
Pursing his lips, Harry proceeded to have his Firebolt shake itself dry all over Damien, particularly his face. Damien frowned for a while before suddenly bolting upright with a cry of "bloody hell!"
"You seriously need to upgrade the security of this place," Harry said in a dissatisfied sort of voice. "Honestly Damy, I blasted your window apart to get in here, and you didn't even wake up."
Damien did a double take when he saw Harry and nearly toppled off the bed. Harry's Firebolt gave an encouraging swish, and the youngest Potter promptly slid off the mattress altogether.
"Ow! Yuck- Harry get your bloody broom off me!"
Harry laughed, his eyes sparkling with mirth, before reaching out a hand and plucking the broom out of the air. It fell still immediately.
"I swallowed the mud off your broom!" Damien protested, his face scrunching up in disgust. "You're awful."
Harry shrugged. "Guess you won't be wanting your present, then?"
Damien's eyes lit up, though he remained confused. "What present? Hey wait- this isn't some sort of stupid farewell present is it? And how did you manage to come back here?"
"It is past twelve you know," Harry continued, before his grin widened as a slow, idiotic smile spread over Damien's face. "Ah, the moment of revelation," he commented.
Damien's face was so comical Harry had a hard time trying to maintain a straight face. "It's my birthday!" the youngest Potter sounded completely amazed at the fact. "That would explain- the Dad's been behaving suspiciously... Merlin, I can't believe it's my birthday!"
Damien proceeded to do bizarre jump on his bed, like a five year old on Christmas Eve; he was grinning so widely Harry thought his face was going to split in half.
"Salazar Damy, calm down," Harry hissed, "You're going to wake up half the house at this rate!"
"Half of the house is already awake," Damien pointed out, though he complied by sitting himself comfortably on the bed, Harry across him. "So, what did you get me?" he asked eagerly.
On impulse Harry transfigured a glittering black stone out of thin air just to see Damien's reaction.
Damien gaped, desperately but failing to hide his dismay. "A new Layhoo Jisteen?!"
Harry laughed, "No. Draco said it was a bad idea, so I switched."
Damien's eyes widened. "You've visited Draco?"
Harry nodded, his smile fading a little. "Around the same time I visited you... before the Marking," he confirmed with a shrug.
"And yet you refused to see mum and dad," Damien said accusingly.
"I didn't have that much time Damy," Harry sighed. "I wasn't even supposed to leave that time, I went back on my word- I just- " Harry broke off. "Anyway, I'm here, aren't I?"
"Hang on, does that mean you're coming here with permission? And you're going to see mum and dad?" Damien said excitedly. Harry rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I will... and I suppose there was a sort of permission. I guess." If Voldemort hadn't forbidden him to come to Potter Manor, he would have said so, right...? After all the Dark Lord did promise free reign.
"I'm not opening your present until I've opened all the others" Damien suddenly declared. "I'm saving yours for last, so it'd better be good."
And also, it'd give him an excuse to make Harry stay longer.
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but Damien had already bounded off the bed in excitement, rushing for the door.
"Come on Harry," he said in a whisper, a mischievous look on his face. "Let's go give Mum and Dad a fright."
James and Lily were sitting in the kitchen, a pot of strong coffee brewing on the table. James was holding a piece of flesh- coloured string to his ear, and seemed to be listening rather intently.
"I'm going to ask Fred and George to remodel this," he grumbled. "The conversation alert sensors are working fine, but the signals I get here are far too slow. Everything I hear is almost certainly one minute late."
Lily's eyes were bright with excitement, and she too was leaning forward eagerly, her grip on the cup of warm coffee so tight James was half- afraid it might break.
"What are they saying? Is Harry okay?" she asked. "He never dropped by since before the Marking, has he?"
It turned out that James had managed to overhear Harry's conversation with Damien the night before the Marking, when he had passed by Damien's room after they came back from the Weasleys and heard Damien's cry of surprise. He had been a step away from retracing his steps back to Damien's door, but then he'd heard a second voice- Harry's voice.
Lily found out later, too, and both parents had, with some measure of guilt, listened in to their conversation. They felt hurt that Harry did not plan to come and see them, though in the end they chose not to step into Damien's room.
"Just let him choose, James," Lily had said with a whisper in James' ear, "I know he'll try his best to come back... and if he wants to see us-" she choked off in the middle of her sentence, and James squeezed her hand reassuringly as he led her away from Damien's room.
"He will," he said comfortingly, though he knew his heart was searing, just as Lily's was. "He promised he would, if he had the chance."
But James was reluctant to leave it at that; it was selfish of him he knew, but he wanted to at least hear his son's voice, if not see Harry again. So with help from Fred and George Weasley, including Sirius, had remodeled their Extendable Ears to pick up any conversation going on in Damien's room.
Meanwhile, Damien and Harry were creeping down the stairs, towards the kitchen light. Harry frowned slightly when he heard his parent's hushed voices, but on catching his name being mentioned, he motioned for Damien to stop.
"What are they saying?" Lily was asking, her voice whispered and excited.
James frowned. "The signal's getting worse- there's a lot of noise... oh, Damy's getting hyper about his birthday."
Outside the kitchen, Damien's mouth dropped open with burning indignance. James had been eavesdropping?!
There was a moment of silence, in which Damien itched to throw open the kitchen door and demand an explanation that instant. With the combined effect of Harry's appearance, it would certainly give them a good shock...
"They're coming!" James gasped suddenly. "They've already left the room- quick hide this- "
"Are you sure reeling in the Ears is a good idea-" Lily began, and there was a hasty scraping of chairs-
The kitchen door opened with a crash, even louder than the heavy rain outside, and Harry briefly wondered if Voldemort's love for dramatic entrances had influenced him more than it should.
"Too late for that," Damien said breezily, striding in first, trying hard not to laugh at the panic and shocked look on James' face. "I eavesdropped on you too!"
If James mouth was hanging open at that comment, his jaw fell to the floor as he saw Harry appearing from behind the shadows, mixed emotions sparkling in his emerald green eyes even as he smiled at the sight of Lily and James, still frozen in their attempts of putting away the Extendable Ears.
The next moment, Lily had her arms around Harry, so was James', and in their haste to reach their eldest son, they completely forgot about the Extendable Ear coils of string they were still holding. One of the coils managed to fall neatly around Harry's neck, and Damien subtly jerked it, hard.
Harry choked slightly, and Lily must have thought that Harry was overcome by emotions, for she clung onto him harder, and reigning in his relief and joy to be with his family with much difficulty- Harry stabbed Damien a vicious glare over James' shoulder.
"Well, it isn't fair that the birthday boy doesn't get any attention, is it?" Damien said wryly with a grin.
They threw the surprise birthday party for Damien (which was supposed to occur at dawn) a few hours early, and all the Weasleys were invited over as well. An extremely disheveled but excited Hermione turned up a few minutes late. And as James had neglected to mention that Harry would be present, there was much gawking and cries of delight and surprise when the visitors arrived.
When that happened in the fourth row, Harry rolled his eyes and slumped back in his seat. "Honestly, maybe I should have just waited for everyone to appear before making a dramatic entrance. At least the gawking would only happen once."
"Hey you'd steal my limelight!" Damien objected jokingly.
"Spoiled brat," Harry muttered in reply, though he was still smiling.
Within minutes, a full- party was in progress. After the main course was over, (thankfully Molly and Lily had decided to prepare the food and keep a Freshening Charm on them a few hours prior), Ron, Hermione and Ginny went over to sit with Damien and Harry.
"Blimey, I can't believe you're Kit!" was the first thing Ron thought of saying.
Damien laughed at this before sobering a little as he remembered Kit's darkened eyes glaring at him. He'd almost forgotten about Harry's impersonation of Kit Mason- he had mentally classified them as two different people.
Harry must have noticed this, for he gave Damien a sidelong look and started, "I never brought it u-"
"Shut up," Damien ordered swiftly.
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Been learning Legilimency now, Damy?"
"It's obvious what you were going to say. The Room of Requirement disaster of a training session," Damien said with a shrug. "It's all over now anyway, and besides I already know how creepy you get when you go mental. So it doesn't really tarnish much of your reputation, really."
Harry shot a half- hearted glare at Damien, which the other returned easily with his trademark grins.
"I thought you were holding back in Defense class," Hermione said almost triumphantly, "the Stunner heading for you, you were practically glaring at it-"
"You should have won Neville," Ron said. "You shouldn't have let him win."
Harry rolled his eyes. "There was no point. Anyway, you were the one that got second- you weren't supposed to let him win."
"And moving on to Transfiguration, really Harry," Hermione began in a lecture- tone sort of voice and Damien had to smother a grin.
Ron suddenly gasped, "- your refusal to participate in Transfiguration class, McGonagall thought you had-"
"-Self- esteem problems-"
They promptly burst out laughing at that. Harry resigned himself to his fate with a groan as Ron and Hermione started to recount more and more embarrassing tales about his impersonation as Kit at Hogwarts, to which Damien listened with rapt attention.
Only Ginny remained oddly silent, the laughs and smiles she gave not as vibrant as they should have been. While Ron and Hermione were recounting yet again his disastrous Potions lesson with Draco Malfoy, he quietly signaled for her to leave with him.
They sneaked out through the kitchen back door into the night, where they sat on the slightly damp doorstep in the wet chilly night. The rain had receded back into the clouds, where there had been a full- blown storm, now all that remained was a slight drizzle.
"I thought about you," Ginny was the first to break the silence, "A lot."
Harry turned to look at her; her deep brown eyes held a tinge of sadness, with a contradictory sense of relief and joy. She didn't look teary at all, only a mixture of jumbled emotions. And wasn't that just what everyone felt right now?
He remained silent, allowing her to continue.
"Basically just about following you romping around England searching Horcruxes, you falling sick... Merlin, that feels like ages ago, doesn't it?" She paused slightly. "It's just sometimes, I wonder- when I missed you so much, I wanted you to return-... do you still remember me?" she asked in a rush, and suddenly Harry knew what was that she was bothered by so much.
"Not just as Ginny Weasley whom Kit Mason met at Hogwarts, though I did think you a decent guy then," Ginny added, recalling her having breakfast with the new 'transfer student' and the introduction of Winky. "As the person you first met. As Harry Potter."
Harry had a sudden vision of Ginny's seemingly younger face, standing at the edge of the roof, a look of utter terror on her face. Her brown eyes widening with joy as her orange bubble shield expanded before her, the feeling of warmth spreading through him when he saw her smile...
"Sometimes I do," he replied quietly, honestly, hating the way he couldn't give her any hope. "The memories... they're coming back to me slowly, like a haze. Sometimes I'm not even sure which are real and which aren't, all of them seem like a distant dream."
Ginny gave a shrug and looked away. "I thought so," she said lightly.
"I remember you trying to cast the shield... you were there when we were trying to get the Golden Quill," he recalled, broken pieces of pictures flashing through his mind as he tugged on them insistently. His eyes widened suddenly. "- Riddle Manor-"
There was a brief pause as Harry looked rather surprised at his newly recovered memory. Ginny couldn't help but smile at his expression. "You did kiss me you know," she said teasingly.
Harry's eyes glittered with amusement before it faded. "Nigel- " he started. "...I haven't seen him for a year."
"He's grown quite a bit- definitely too heavy for me to swing about anymore," Ginny said with a slight smile on her face. "He seems to have forgotten about the entire Riddle Manor incident." A pause, before- "He still remembers you, you know."
Harry looked up, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Really?"
"Alice says sometimes he would ask her where Alex has gone. Alice always told Nigel you weren't around anymore... guess you coming back to life has to be explained all over again," Ginny said with a laugh.
Harry sobered quite suddenly, and he looked away from her, his emerald gaze trained on the skies, where the first cracks of dawn were beginning to appear.
"Ginny," he said slowly, "I... you realize, I'm not going to be around anymore."
"You're here now," she pointed out flatly.
"It's different... it all depends on him," Harry met her gaze evenly. "He's shown me more leniency than he ever had to all the others, I recognize that- but despite everything, I'm forever still bound to him. Not by any magic or oath, but my own word, Ginny- I sworn to be on his side forever."
He had never admitted this aloud to anyone, not even Damien nor his parents. "I can't just return whenever I feel like it. I'm under his control."
"Is it... suffocating?" she asked gently, trying to hold the emotion out of her voice. "Do you mind being with him, or if given the chance, you would leave him?"
Harry stilled, not expecting the question.
"It's just as well that I don't have a choice," Harry said at last, "I don't know the answer. I'm forever torn between both sides. I miss my family, all of you more than you can imagine- and whenever the emptiness gets too great there's nothing to do about it but duel myself in the training grounds until I crumble." He paused. "But Voldemort... he was the one who raised me, Ginny... I know he hurt and manipulated me, and sometimes I hate him so intensely I just wanted him to burn. Like I did all his Horcruxes. Other times..." he trailed off, unable to complete his sentence. "I don't even understand it myself," he admitted.
"How long will you be around?" Ginny asked finally, her voice almost half a whisper.
"I'm leaving soon," Harry said, his voice just as soft, meeting her eyes once more. "I'm sorry Ginny, but... this can't work. You should move on; heaven knows you deserve to."
"I know I should," Ginny said softly, and for once, there was a hint of tears in her eyes. Not only because Harry would rarely ever be around- because he could barely remember her anymore. Sure, broken memories and pictures forming dreams, but he probably wouldn't feel the same way. It was vague. Like a distant dream, he had said. "But just for the last time," she said, her voice only a light whisper now, "allow me this."
And she leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Harry returned to the Manor as the faint traces of dawn were beginning to streak across the sky. As he stumbled tiredly up the steps back to his quarter, an unfamiliar voice suddenly hailed him.
"Prince, I need to speak to you."
Harry turned around, surprised as he met Regulus Black, still under the disguise of Professor Wynter.
"A private setting would be more suitable," the man continued. "If you would allow me."
Feeling exhausted yet curious or the same, Harry eyed him and finally gave the man an imperceptible nod. Wordlessly, he then followed the man round the entrance of the Manor to a secluded spot in the gardens; a slight cavern held up by a fallen tree. Harry was surprised by how well Regulus Black knew the area; the last time Harry had been here he'd been 6 years old playing with Draco.
Harry raised an eyebrow as Wynter finished placing the wards around them.
"I take it you've realized my true identity," Wynter began, gaining confirmation from the slight narrowing of Harry's eyes.
"This is the last time you will see me before I leave for the Impure region," Wynter continued, and without further explanation he held up a familiar golden locket with a snake engraved in it. Harry stilled with shock at the sight of it.
"That's a fake," Harry said, "I destroyed the real locket."
"I assure you it's real... you can feel it for yourself."
Wynter passed the locket to Harry, who immediately felt his scar twinge slightly as his fingers closed around the locket. "...How?"
"I realize there is no point on holding onto this any longer," the elder wizard said with a shrug. "The war is over and may it be as such permanently. Before, I was a traitor to the Dark Lord's cause... I switched lockets, the real one for the fake."
"But I always felt the connection when I wore the other locket," Harry argued, still staring at the last remaining Horcrux in his hands.
"Your ring is another one," Wynter said with a slight twisted smile on his face. "You may wonder how a mere child could ever have the courage to point a wand at a man and kill. You poured out your memories into that Pensive... Pettigrew believed that you were partially influenced by the Horcrux in it when you murdered the man. The Dark Lord hid his soul deep inside the Pensive."
Harry stared at the man, completely dumbfounded by the sudden revelation.
"...he just wanted you to know," Wynter said at last. "Pettigrew, I mean. He knew I was a turncoat... he told me all of this before he was tortured into insanity." He shrugged. "I figured you would have wanted to know."
Wynter bowed his head a little and turned to walk off.
"Thank you," Harry said, and suddenly remembering his previous conversation with Sirius Black, Harry called out, "Your brother is looking for you."
Regulus paused but did not turn around, his figure tense. "I don't have one," he said coldly.
"Sirius knows the truth already," Harry said, "and I told him you were alive. He's been searching everywhere for you ever since he found out. Just in case you want to know, you can find him at the Black Manor."
Harry nodded at the man once and left the gardens of Riddle Manor; while Wynter left for the Impure region for good.
They never crossed paths again.
The next morning, as per Voldemort's order, Harry was sitting at the large grand table in the middle of the hall again. The feeling was oddly familiar yet foreign.
Minutes ticked past in silence as Harry silently trailed his fingers across the locket under the table. Holding onto the past wouldn't have made things any different, he thought. It would only make things worse. And frankly, he wasn't even angry at Voldemort's manipulation, not when the offence took place so many years ago. He was almost numb.
Voldemort had manipulated him to make his first kill, but his second, third... all the rest he had done of his own accord.
"Father," Harry said abruptly, and without further explanation he held up the locket for Voldemort to see. Ruby red eyes narrowed at this.
"There was a traitor in our midst... it seems that he swapped lockets. The one you gave me was a fake. This is the real Horcrux... it's yours."
Voldemort's face remained a dangerous calm, completely devoid of any emotion.
"The traitor is no more," Harry added for good measure, making to drop the locket on the table between them both, but Voldemort's fingers suddenly curled around his, preventing him from releasing the locket.
"If you think I can trust you with the locket one last time, Harry," he said, "hold on to it."
Harry almost faltered under the gaze. "I destroyed- " he began, but Voldemort cut in sharply.
"Think of this as a new game. I do not tolerate failures, Harry, surely you understand that."
Not for the last time, Harry stared, silent, back at his father, Voldemort's words ringing and spinning off into a hundred different meanings and definitions. Harry swallowed as cold fingers released him. Slowly, under Voldemort's watchful gaze, he looped the golden locket over his head, tucking the locket out of sight beneath his robes. It was cold against his heart.
"I'm not even sure why I'm saying this," Harry began, looking directly at his father. "But thank you."
Voldemort merely smirked in reply, though it was the closest thing to a smile. "You're welcome, son."
A/N: Yes, this is the end! :) Please review? Tell me what you think! It's the closest thing to a fairytale ending right? I can't believe I've actually finished a story. Anyway I need to be waking up tomorrow at 5 a.m. so I better go sleep right now... do at least rate, pretty please?
:D for awesome
O for okay
X for terrible
PS how did my first attempt at romance go? eek, I dont write romance but since Ginny and Harry were kind of together in TDW I thought I should at least mention what happened haha. Did the ending seem kind of rushed? I don't know, since I'm kind of rushed right here... okay I'm rambling again. So, um, bye!
Signing out from the Second Chance