Flight of Death
By: Winters of Despair
As Nico walked silently through the dim halls of his father's palace he thought, not for the first time, that being the living son of the god of death was something of a performing artist's act.
Being alive, there were certain things he had to do in order to pull off the 'emanating death' aura. Hades son though he may be, not everything came naturally to him. His father had taught him a whole collection of tricks after the second defeat of Kronos which had taken place four years ago. He didn't mind the slightly longer hair or the darker clothes. Learning to walk lightly and silently had been fun as well. It made Hades proud of him, and whenever that happened he couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment.
Nico knew he was lucky. When he wasn't spending time with his friends at Camp Half-Blood, he spent the rest of the year in the Underworld with his father. As a result, he got to see much more of his father than your typical demigod. Heck, even Persephone had adopted him. He had a family again. Nico couldn't ask for much more.
The weeks before he left to go to Camp Half-Blood were growing shorter even as the days grew longer, but Hades had sent for him again. He had been agitated, Nico knew, because the frail messenger who had delivered the summons looked rattled.
He assumed that there would be one last mission before the start of summer. He fulfilled requests for his father in the land of the living because of the god's inability to interfere directly too much.
Such was the life of a demigod.
He quickly found out he was right as soon as he entered the throne room.
"Lord Hades." He bowed, but his father quickly waved him back up. It seemed he didn't have time for formalities. He paced the room in an agitated fashion, exactly how Nico had expected to find him.
"Son, I have one more job for you before we separate for the summer months. It is rather important, so listen closely."
"As we speak, the one who has dared to name himself Voldemort is in a fight for his life. I have spoken to the Fates, he is destined to lose." He stopped pacing in an attempt to calm himself down and gather his thoughts. "However it seems that the one prophesized to destroy him is having difficulty fulfilling his destiny."
Nico was vaguely startled. He had heard his father rant about Tom Riddle before, the man hadn't died when he was supposed to, seventeen years ago. Apparently the problem had caused a huge hold up in the paperwork system.
His father despised anything that threw snags into his well-polished system.
Tom (or Voldemort as he preferred to be called) was also part of a rather fascinating community of mortals who could perform magic.
"There's a prophecy about him?"
"Him and the boy destined to kill him." He then recited:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."
Nico's eyebrows rose. "As prophecies go, that one was rather poor."
"Indeed, but such is the way of mortal magicians. The prophetess was never very good to begin with. Her power is weak and unrefined."
"But if there's a prophecy," Nico said, "I shouldn't be able to do anything about it. Aren't prophecies, well, inevitable?"
Hades mouth twisted into a wry smile. "Prophecies given by mortal magicians are the will of the magic they borrow, not of the Fates. You, as a demigod, are far stronger than a measly magical force. Therefore you can interfere with these kinds of prophecies. The will of the gods is far stronger than the will of a drifting power."
His smile faded back into seriousness. "But we are wasting time. More wizards are flooding the checkpoints. The battle is coming to a close and the boy is losing. I need you to go and show this insolent man that I am not someone a mere mortal can run from."
Nico nodded, "Of course father." He drew the shadows to him and began to disappear. "Where to?"
"England. A school called Hogwarts."
Then Nico was gone. After a moment of contemplation Hades headed back to his throne, a great deal of tension fleeing from his body. His son was strong and trustworthy. Soon everything would be set right.
Nico welcomed the cool embrace that he had long since learned to associate with shadow travel. He enjoyed missions to the wizarding community the best, because there was no need for subtlety. He could use his powers to his fullest extent without having to worry about rearranging memories after the fact.
He used this fact to appear in a dramatic fashion on the school battlefield (which it probably wasn't before, but was certainly what it had evolved into). Shadows pooled on a sunny patch of ground where shadows had no business being. When enough had gathered they became inky black, obstructing all light from getting through. And if the witches and wizards didn't take note of these happenings, they certainly noticed when the shadows sprung up from the ground forming a dome as tall as Nico.
When Nico's body had fully formed in the land of the living the shadows made their retreat. They sunk down to the ground, clinging to the Lord of Death's son and finding refuge from the light in his own natural shadow. The total blackness of the shadow faded and the ground could be seen once again in his dark outline.
All around him, fighting had ceased. What was probably an epic battle between a teenager and a tall man – who looked more reptilian than human – had screeched to a halt.
A well-practiced dark grin spread on Nico's face. Sure, Percy had the force of the raging ocean behind him and Thalia had the power of lightning (literally) at her fingertips; but there were certain moments when Nico could simply just bask in the fact that he was the son of Hades.
When everyone around him unconsciously took a few steps back, he thought that this was definitely one of those times.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle," he ennunciated, "I'm glad I could find you."
The man with the face of a snake narrowed his eyes. He laced his words with poison. "You dare speak my name? Who are you?"
The temperature on the battlefield dropped a few degrees as Nico continued to smile. "Your Grim Reaper."
Voldemort would have scoffed had shadows not spurted from Nico's hand, solidifying into the shape of a sword. He began walking forward, taking a few practice swings and 'accidently' chopping off a Death Eater's head.
Nico leveled his bloody sword at Riddle from ten feet away, ignoring the exhausted teenager who was supposedly the prophecy child. "I will be your opponent."
Voldemort never got the chance to refuse, for the next second Nico had launched himself at the man and there was nothing for him to do but defend himself.
Indeed it seemed that there was nothing else he could do.
Harry willed it all to be a nightmare. Certainly it would explain why he had been losing so badly to Voldemort to begin with (hadn't Dumbledore promised him that this was something he could handle?) and now it would explain away the eerie new arrival that had stepped in and unwittingly saved him.
He closed his eyes for two seconds and then opened them. Nothing had changed.
Every skirmish around them had stopped, each personal vendetta put on hold to witness the deadly combat that had taken center stage.
It was clearly one-sided, but not in the way most would expect. Voldemort was losing badly.
Within the first thirty seconds the Dark Lord had several small cuts over his arms and face and one more serious gash across his torso. He had summoned a gleaming silver sword of his own with an emerald green tip but he was barely keeping up. The loss of blood was hardly helping as he staggered over a small bump in the terrain.
It was the smallest mistake, but it proved to be his undoing as the strange young man knocked his sword aside and smoothly cut his wand in half all in the same motion. Somewhere in the back of his mind Harry registered that Voldemort had been holding the Elder wand (and shouldn't it have been more difficult to break than that?).
Voldemort froze, momentarily defenseless as his mind failed him for once and went completely blank. He only vaguely registered the stranger's words, immersed in a feeling he hadn't felt so strongly in years.
"You can run from death, but you can't hide from it," the man declared in a smooth chilling voice. "He always finds a way to get even." The black sword plunged into Voldemort's heart ensuring that he would never again be able to return to the land of the living.
Nico dispelled his sword back into the shadows as he watched Riddle's soul sink toward the Underworld to await judgment. Something as hideous as that, he decided, definitely wouldn't have a glimmer of a shot at Elysium.
Perfect silence reigned for a few indescribable moments before a shout of outrage was heard from a Death Eater. The spell was broken and whoops of excitement burst forth from the other side. Many of Riddle's followers gave up without a fight, and those who stubbornly fought on were incapacitated within minutes.
Through the chaos Nico approached the teenager, who had somehow ended up in a tired squat on the ground. He extended his hand in a gesture of assistance.
His offer was regarded warily before the teenager gave an almost imperceptible shrug and reached out his own hand to be pulled up.
Nico grinned broadly, easily discarding his 'son of Hades on a death mission' personality in favor of the charismatic person he had grown up to be. The teenager appeared thrown off guard a little by this, but he didn't look like he was going to ask so Nico let him wonder.
The teen nodded, a little unsteadily perhaps. "Yeah, you? I mean, you just sorta… killed Voldemort." He said the words like he didn't quite believe them.
Nico laughed. "Just fine. Nico di Angelo, nice to meet you."
"Harry Potter," he responded absently, staring at the motionless body of the reptilian human. "He really is dead, isn't he?"
"As dead as a mortal can possibly become, and with his soul on its way to Hades."
Harry's attention shifted back to him, but it was confused. "Hades? Isn't that…?"
For the second time today, Nico's eyebrows rose. "Yes?"
Harry paused. "Er, nevermind. Just the way you said that."
"Okay," Nico nodded, taking his awkward reaction in stride. His father's personality had been rubbing off on him. He enjoyed messing with people's heads entirely too much. "I guess I should be going now. My work here is done."
"Your work? Wait. You mean you came here just to kill Voldemort?"
"Of course, what did it look like?"
"But," Harry floundered, "the prophecy…"
"Irrelevant to the situation. My father saw you were losing, and sent me to make sure Riddle died properly this time."
"Yes, my father. It is rather insulting to the gods after all when someone tries to obtain immortality without their permission. Since he hadn't actually succeeded he was left alone; but to search for immortality for the sole purpose of avoiding death? That's a direct insult to my father.
"Riddle was supposed to die about seventeen years ago, and again today. The Fates weren't going to let him go this time."
Harry's confusion deepened. "Who are you?"
Darkness swirled up around Nico's body again as he prepared to shadow travel back to his father's palace. "Forgetful are we?" he said teasingly. "Nico di Angelo." Then he vanished and Harry was left staring at open space.
"That's not what I meant," he finally muttered before his friends jumped on him and the celebration began.
Nico relaxed in the folds of the shadows, reappearing just outside the throne room. He had been gone hardly ten minutes. "All in a day's work," he declared to himself, pushing the door open to inform his father of the good news.