Disclaimer: You know the deal, yeah. It's all gravy, baby, and when you've just emptied two barrels of a shotgun into the head of your favourite bartender, it's a pretty good bet that happy hour's over.
A/N: I felt the urge to write something new today, and this idea came to me in a dream the other night. I kind of like the premise of it. Please read and share your thoughts. A 3,200 word one-shot.
All the best,
Tragedy, Mine Alone
Let the truth be known though the heavens fall.
A dangerous lie to find the truth. To find the men
who would be revealed as its enemy, as our enemy.
As the enemy within.
July 31st, 2015
The Twentieth Glorious Year of Ascension
Dale Penticott could feel the anticipation in the air. The feeling of awed expectation rose back and forth like a wave of determined intent across the three thousand people gathered within Trafalgar Square.
It was a perfect day for the Gift of Healing.
The sun was high in the sky, just before noon, and not a single cloud marred the clear blue heavens. The great floating city of New Atlantis hung magnificently in the sky, its massive foundation chains dangling down to the ground like cords of pure, empiric strength. Once it was completed, those chains would no longer be needed and the Saviour's city would stand as a shining testament to the light and order he had pulled from chaos twenty years ago.
"Two minutes," whispered Roland Abberley on Dale's left. "He'll be here in two minutes."
Dale nodded. There was a taste of magic on the warm summer's breeze. A spark of power leaping through every man, woman and child in the square. All of them, every one, could sense his imminent arrival.
Behind Dale, who stood upon a crystal stage at the very heart of Trafalgar Square, rose the marble column detailing the utter cruelty and madness of the Dark War – days that should never be forgotten, lest they happen again – and atop of the column stood a golden statue of the Chosen One himself, looking up at the sky-city overhead, his greatest work, and looking up into the bright future crafted by his own hand.
From his position amongst the Honour Guard, Dale commanded a magnificent view of London, of the crowd, and could not help but feel vital, feel needed and appreciated, for his role today.
He stood with eleven of his colleagues, resplendent in fine dark dress robes and the white masks of the Guard – masks that set them apart from the wizards and witches in the crowd and especially from the rank and file of the Soldier Guard. The Soldier Guard were tasked with keeping the crowds in order, making sure the red carpet holding the sick and infirm just before the stage was kept clear. It was an important task, to be sure, but Dale knew his was more important – he was part of the elite, part of the few responsible for the safety of the Saviour himself.
"There are more and more every year," Roland said, gesturing to the sick that sat almost cowering before the stage. There were at least a hundred people there, most of them in their prime – a few only children – and all of them being devoured from the inside by their own magic.
"You know he is devoting every moment of his time to finding a cure," Dale replied. "Have faith in the Devotion, and serve him with as much of your strength as you can."
Roland, only newly appointed to the Honour Guard, nodded profusely. Eager to please. He had come very close to suggesting the Chosen One, the Saviour of the Wizarding World, had no control over the wasting sickness. It was a strange affliction, striking without reason or forewarning, but the man Dale had sworn to protect could cure it.
Cure, but not wipe it out… Dale had a near-blasphemous thought of his own.
He shook his head to dispel such nonsense. The sense of anticipation had grown into a palpable touch of awe and wonder now. The heavy, dull roar of the crowd turned to furious whispering. In the distance, Big Ben began to chime the hour…
A reverential silence fell across the crowd.
The saviour of the Wizarding World stepped sideways out of nothing, appearing upon the crystal stage cloaked within robes of crisp midnight blue. He whispered into existence with his eyes closed and his head bowed. After a moment, he looked up and beheld the silent audience before him.
A stunned collective gasp shimmered through the crowd. Here he was – the Chosen One – alive and well, powerful, in the only public appearance he made all year. Just once, always on July 31st, and always to bestow Healing upon those afflicted with the wasting sickness.
As one, the three thousand people packed into the square felt the weight of his gaze upon their shoulders and fell to their knees.
"My people," the God-Lord Voldemort said, his voice soft and melodious. "My loyal people. I appear before you today…" And here he paused. Dale sensed the crowd tense. "…disappointed."
A heavy groan spread like a dull ache through the mass of robed people. Tears fell down more than a few faces. Disappointed. The word was a knife to their hearts.
"Another year of peace, of prosperity under my guiding counsel, and yet the devotion you provide me does not afford a permanent cure to the sickness that afflicts the poor people I see before me."
His words were mesmerising, Dale observed. He felt guilt through to his very core. The Devotion was a binding magical contract with the God-Lord himself, a sacrifice of power and forbidden magics that every member of the Ascended society was privileged to provide upon reaching eleven years of age. A magical contract signed in blood and wrought in devotion.
A few ounces of any given individual's power was a small, necessary price to pay for the safety and prosperous government provided by Lord Voldemort and the Twelve Great Houses of pureblood lineage.
"I am, however, and will always be, a forgiving lord." The Chosen One smiled. His pale, snake-like features were a tribute to his noble lineage. A direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin. "Bring forth the sick to receive my Gift of Healing."
There was no wind, but the dark blue robes billowed about the God-Lord's form. The bright summer sun didn't seem to touch the aura of immortal majesty surrounding his body, as he raised his wand across the weeping, kneeling crowd… and waited.
The Soldier Guard managed the flow of sick and wasted people up the cloudy-blue crystal stairs toward the pedestal Lord Voldemort stood upon. The children, first, as was only fair and right.
Walking with the aid of a cane, and dressed in fine robes that hung lank from her tiny frame, the first child to approach the God-Lord – understandably shaking with nerves – was a bony, skeletal thing. Her hair hung lank and thin in greasy brunette patches, and her eyes were so wide and so hollowed back into her skull that she looked absurdly frightened. Her skin was yellowed and covered in sores. She was no more than seven years old.
Dale's heart went out to the girl. Despite her illness, the clear pain wracking her every movement, she still had the courage to approach a figure as daunting, if not benevolent, as the Saviour. Her bravery was inspiring.
As she had been instructed, she fell to her knees only a few feet before Lord Voldemort and bowed her head. Dead silence gripped the crowd. It was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. A silence that was, by its weight, deafening.
"What is your name, child?" Lord Voldemort asked, his words ringing clear and true across the square.
Dale was close enough on the stage to hear the girl take a terrified, rasping breath. "M-Maria, my lord," she managed. "Maria Birchgrove."
"And you wish to be well, Maria Birchgrove?"
"Yes, my lord," the young girl wept. "So very much."
"Then be well," Lord Voldemort said, and tapped her on the top of her head with his wand of legend – the Elder Wand.
Maria screamed. Her wails pierced the veil of quiet hovering across London. She rose three feet off the crystal platform, her entire form seizing in raw pain. It only took mere moments, but it felt a lot longer. Almost as soon as it had begun, it was over.
The young girl, Maria Birchgrove, stood for the first time in months upon her own two feet, unsupported, and her skin was whole and unblemished. Her hair was full and clean, shining like silk in the sun, and her thin form had filled out, no longer a walking skeleton – she had been cured.
More and more of the crowd were silently weeping now, as Maria laughed in pure joy.
And why not? Dale thought. They were witnessing a miracle. A disease that in the last ten years had killed hundreds, that resisted all potions, all forms of magical treatment – indeed magic seemed to increase the severity of the sickness, yet not for the God-Lord. His strength, his power, could overcome even death.
Their silence may as well have been thunderous applause and raucous cheering. Yet that was simply not done. Such displays would be frowned upon in front of Lord Voldemort himself.
Dale thought he saw a flash of annoyance cross the God-Lord's face as Maria stood laughing before him, free of the debilitating sickness that had marred her life. A moment later she seemed to remember her place, however, and fell once more to her knees before her saviour.
"Come," Lord Voldemort said, "and be healed."
And one by one they did come. All of them, all of the sick, took their turn to kneel in the presence of the God-Lord, took their turn to be blessed by the touch of the Elder Wand, and were cured of the sickness that had reduced them to worn-out husks, to lepers and worse…
The immortal man who had vanquished the feared dark wizard Albus Dumbledore, that had wrought peace from the shattered remnants of a fallen world, that had singlehandedly overthrown a corrupt Ministry of power-hungry fools, did not even break a sweat as he conjured the impossible.
It was almost time for the service to end. For the Gift of Healing to finish for another year. As expected, there had been no problems, no security breaches or embarrassing mistakes. There would be promotion in this, Dale was sure, and perhaps one day a personal audience with Lord Voldemort on New Atlantis itself!
The last of the sick were healed and removed back down onto their knees before the crystal platform. The God-Lord surveyed the crowd, immovable and silent, and then spoke.
"We have built a better world from the ruins of the old," he said, and here his voice was tinged with regret. No doubt for the life lost in that war, and the history. "But there is still much work to do. There are those who would undermine our vision, our goal of an ascended society, who would cavort in shadows and malice, and rebel against the wise rule of your lord."
Lord Voldemort paused and Dale felt the crowd's mood shift toward anger – anger on behalf of the man who had sacrificed so much to ensure their survival. Anger that anyone would dare challenge their Saviour.
"These people must be found and dragged into the light. It is the duty of every one of you."
Every soul in the square knew of whom the God-Lord spoke. A name that wasn't said aloud in decent company – a name that was a curse, a blight upon an otherwise utopian civilization.
Once again, silent agreement rippled through the crowd. But then something strange happened, and it was so unexpected that for a moment Dale wasn't sure what he was hearing…
But it was there, and behind his white mask his jaw dropped. Shock rippled through the crowd, through the heart of every person in the square, as the sound of one individual clapping punctured the faithful devoted silence owed to the God-Lord.
Dale's eyes immediately fell upon the source of the blasphemous applause. A man had appeared at the foot of the stairs, using the same magic that was forbidden to all but the God-Lord and the Great Houses. What wizards before the Ascension called apparation.
"Yet another stirring round of bullshit from the mouth of the God-Lord," the man sneered, still clapping sarcastically.
Dale knew who the man was. They all knew who the man was.
His face was recognisable across the entire planet – the most wanted and feared man in all of the Wizarding World. It was an awful face, too, eclipsed with long jagged scars under a mess of dark hair. He was dressed in Muggle clothing – another insult – and a raw lightning bolt was carved into his forehead.
The man was Harry Potter.
"Potter!" the God-Lord snarled, biting off the name for the curse it was. "Die!"
The untempered rage on Lord Voldemort's face, the fire in his crimson eyes, sent fear coursing through Dale's veins. Yet he knew what his task was, and his wand was already in his hand.
"If I were assured of your destruction I would cheerfully accept my own! Ha!" Potter cried and then clapped his hands a final time above his head.
At the same time across the square, two great explosions of green fire blasted into the heart of the crowd, killing dozens instantly and wounding hundreds more – men, women, children – Potter didn't make any distinction. A wave of heat and power knocked Dale back even as the Honour Guard moved to surround the God-Lord.
Great chunks of flaming stone and severed body parts were hurled into the air and rained back down on the crowd. All silence was obliterated now, and the mass of people packed into the parade began to run for their lives as another explosion rocked Trafalgar Square.
Shields sprang up from the Soldier Guard, deflecting the fiery missiles. Dale scanned the crowd, searching for the man who had just unmade weeks of hard preparation and planning. There hadn't been an attack from his rebel group in years… many thought him dead… and now this!
Half a dozen loud pops echoed across the square just in front of the crystal stage. Potter had returned – with a slew of his traitorous allies!
Potter's band of rebellious witches and wizards – the Order of the Phoenix. Traitors to peace and warmongers every last one! Terrorists with an agenda of fear and supremacy. Dale despised them with every inch of his being. He had sworn long ago to destroy them all! They fanned out in formation and engaged the Soldiers in fatal combat.
Dale knew their names, their faces. Weasley, Granger, Longbottom, Delacour, Tonks – and there were others – but the core of Potter's operation was here, openly challenging the God-Lord and slaughtering the innocent. And of course there was Potter himself, gazing up from the red carpet in front of the stage with clear insanity etched across his ruined face.
"Slay them," the God-Lord whispered, and his voice echoed through the minds of every devoted witch and wizard there. Another benefit of the Devotion contract. "Slay them all."
Gripping his wand tightly in his fist, Dale stepped forward and obeyed his lord's command. He tore the mask from his face – it was purely ceremonial – and advanced down the crystal stairs, curse-light already flaring at the tip if his wand, against Potter.
Rage as pure and as fierce as the sun bled through his body and soul, and Dale charged the Order of the Phoenix with every ounce of his considerable training.
Yet Potter moved like the wind. Unnatural, dark magic fuelled his enemy.
Dale's first curse didn't even come close. The terrorist bastard disappeared and reappeared a few feet away, smirking. He raised a chipped and battered wand, the glint of a golden feather sticking out of the tip, and returned fire.
The power behind the spell surprised Dale, who managed a hasty shield to deflect the blow. The blue cone of his protective magic shattered under the light from Potter's wand and Dale stumbled back. He recovered quickly, however, and fired a beam of purple light at Potter, aiming for his heart.
Potter… dissolved… and was suddenly ten feet closer. Dale had time to blink, to curse the blatant use of forbidden magic, and then a beam of odd yellow and red light struck him in the neck. He frowned, not feeling a thing, and only seeing the world spinning about his head. Why was it doing that?
He hit the crystal steps hard and his wand clattered away. He watched it roll down the stairs. Potter stepped over him, a grim look of determined anger on his face. Dale tried to grab at his pants, to pull him back, but his arm was sluggish and useless.
I'm hurt, he thought. There's no pain, so it mustn't be too bad… I'm just dazed.
Despite the bright summer sun, Dale felt quite cold. He couldn't feel his legs anymore, either, which should have been worrying but was not. He turned his head and watched Potter storm the crystal stage, facing off against what remained of the Honour Guard and the God-Lord Voldemort himself.
Dale could taste blood in his mouth, like a fistful of copper knuts under his tongue, and the edges of his vision began to darken. That did not seem important, either.
A jet of azure lightning burst from the tip of Potter's wand and dispelled the protections around the stage. He used the forbidden magic with such careless disregard! Why? Dale managed a final thought. Why does he hate us so much? What did we ever do to him?
Another beam of crimson light erupted from his wand and struck the mighty marble column beyond the stage. It exploded in a rain of fiery stone and twisted metal. The statue of the Chosen One, standing tall and proud one hundred feet above the square, began to topple…
"Stop him, my Lord…" Dale prayed as he died. And his prayers were answered as the God-Lord stepped forward, brandishing the mythical Elder Wand, against Potter. "Yes…"
All sound seemed to be coming from far away now, and Dale Penticott's vision had narrowed to a single tunnel. At the end of that tunnel was not light but his lord and Harry Potter preparing to duel.
The last thing he saw in this world was Potter step forward, dark and menacing, his face crisscrossed with those horrible scars, and raise his wand toward the sky. A muttered incantation, a burst of silver light…
A mammoth crimson lightning bolt formed in the sky over Trafalgar Square – the mark of the Nightmare Child, the mark of the scourge of the Wizarding World…
…of the Dark Lord Potter.
A/N: Oh yeah, Terrorist!Harry in a seemingly idyllic – yet brainwashed – future society in which Voldemort controls all forms of magic, is empowered through devotion, and loved by the people. This idea came to me in a dream, of all things, and will probably just stay a one-shot.
Cheers for reading.