Warnings: Character death, Darkfic, Suicidal Implications

Note: Flamers will be reported, and the reviews deleted. You have been warned of character death; this is a dark story. I will not spoil it by coddling people and saying which character. If you DO NOT LIKE character death, then DO NOT READ.

Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own anything having to do with any aspect of Harry Potter. This story garners no profits and is made purely for fan entertainment.


~Prodigal Son~

Dim flames crackled somewhere in the distance, barely noticeable below the sounds of dripping water and the scurrying of rats. The dank surroundings were further dampened by the stench of death and decay that permeated the air, choking any who would attempt to traverse such a place. Even the various pests avoided the central area of the chamber, despite the tantalizing feast decaying within their grasp. After five years, the only living human in the vicinity could not bring himself to care.

The figure knelt in the middle of all the mess, not minding the rot and ick seeping into his tattered robes. The added filth made little difference to its current state. Neither too did the depressing atmosphere of the cavern make a dent in the man's current state of mind. Merely complimenting it, in a way.

Stark black hair tangled in a mess around the man's shoulders, clumped and matted with blood, and other things best left unidentified. His skin was tan, yet held an unhealthy, ashen tinge, as if a recent bout of illness had once claimed him very recently. The robes barely clung to his slender frame, furthering the notion. However, the unseen watcher from the shadows knew different.

Green eyes snapped open, revealing haunted, blank depths which caused even the watcher to shiver. The man kneeling lifelessly within this room of death and decay was barely recognizable from the curious, foolhardy, lively young thing he use to be. But then, the unnoticed figure reflected, war changes everyone. Simply it was a matter of how drastically it taints the soul, and in what way. Quite obviously the despondent man had been destroyed by it.

Gliding forward silently, the watcher curiously beheld what the man had been concealing, clenched tightly in the fist which rested on one knee. The dull shine of sharp metal winked in the almost nonexistent light of the room. The sight of such a thing did little to excite, beyond the obvious curiosity as to the man's purpose in his domain.

Even as the man spied the silvery, ghastly emanation from his unwelcome companion, the only response was a slow blink of the eyes. Face remaining blank, mouth remaining firmly closed. Obviously this man cared little for company, however little did it dissuade. Rather than awaiting a response to his presence which would never come, the spectral figure wisely took matters to bear. The voice which came from the ghost was not one with which others were familiar; carrying a lilt of ancient dialect that had not whispered through the wilds of the continents in many hundreds of years, carrying a strength and resonance normally covered with gruff murmurs and hoarse litany.

"Child, what causes such apathy from the likes of Godric's own?"

Little expecting a prompt answer, the spectre was overcome with mild surprise at the near silent whisper, the man's voice as hoarse and deathly blank as his features. Marvelling at such statuesque stillness in one of the still living, the shade listened close, frowning unhappily.

"You know."

"Verily, the vast armies warring on the lawn was little hardly missed, Child. Broken does not begin to describe the state of things. Or your current conundrum. What has transpired?"

"You know."

Frustration budded in the back of the ghost's mind, however was forced aside. Assuredly he knew quite well the events that transpired to leave the child as he was. Fate was a cruel mistress which many a foolish soul attempted to dodge. Strangely yet even those so self-assured in their own cunning or bravery oft were overcome and overburdened by even that which was expected.

Little doubt encompassed the mind, the figure before him was still no more a child, despite all appearance on the contrary. Those forced to mature before their time were simply well versed in mimicry and impersonation. The desperate struggle to survive by the single means one knows how. The child before him would continue being such, until he made the final decision.

"Tell me."

Emotion sparked within the fathomless depths, before dying out. The man's gaze trailed unerringly to the blade. Despite all misgivings, the ghost felt a swell of pride and pity for the creature before him. Harry Potter was long deceased, simply the spirit refused to desert the husk. Perhaps he was wrong. Regarding the broken statue, he beheld neither man nor child; a broken old soul. For, truth could be gleaned from deeds of the soul. No one died a child, and this one was already dead inside.

Insight coursed through him, even as he ignored the man's silence to his demand. The ancient spirit knew to expect no answers from the deteriorated husk. Gliding to kneel at the man's side, the ghost gazed around the wretched chamber and found in himself a sudden shame. Such a grandeur shrine, built with both life and death well in mind. Yet decayed into a requiem of sundered hope, and despair. Despite all intent... intention meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Sighing heavily, the ghost placed a silvery hand upon the man's shoulder. Such received no reaction. Finally, the specter murmured quietly, "What do you wish, my son?"

"Rest."

Closing his eyes, slowly he nodded, accepting even as he mourned and celebrated. Shocked to stillness, a near inaudible plea caressed his ears.

"'m scared."

Heart swelling with confusion and sadness, a strange look overcame the shade's blood-spattered features. "Scared of what, son?"

"What if they don't forgive me?"

The monotone words at last held a tint of emotion-driven fear, as the man turned his eyes to gaze at the silvery ghost. Dull eyes still shone, lifeless, yet oddly glinting now. Incapable and unwilling to offer true comfort, the spectre shrugged eloquently, noncommittal even as honesty colored his words.

"All is forgiven, in the end."

Features twisting in grief, the man nodded jerkily, whether in agreement or acceptance, the ghost was unsure.

"Then why are you here?"

"Because... I am unwilling to be forgiven. There is... much I have yet to atone for. Many things...."

The ghost wavered briefly, looking distant at his own words, staring unseeing at the imposing stone figure towering over them both. Several tense minutes ticked by, the ghost lost in thought, and the man lost in mourning. Tracing a phantasmal wound along his chest, the specter beheld the familiar sight of his own silvery blood. A grim smile crept across his face, and he nodded in an almost satisfied way. Glancing at his companion, he dropped his hand and stood, looking down at the distraught man, eyes oddly gentle.

"Go rest, my son. You have no place in this cesspit. You have more than earned the right of reprieve.... All is forgiven.... Go home."

Without pause, the specter glided silently whence he came, sparing no glance until the exit of the chamber framed his silhouette. Hesitating before gliding through the sealed door, he finally turned, eyes drinking in the scene with sadness and pride. Shaking his head, he continued on his way. The duty fell upon him to inform the Headmistress.

Deep within the Chamber of Secrets lies the final resting place of Harry James Potter. Young child. Blooded man. Old soul.

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Note: Yes, this is my first story/update in a long time. Does it mean I'll update my multi-chapters any time soon? Hopefully, but probably not. This was inspired out of the blue for no conceivable reason.