Warnings: Some language eventually.
Just assume that anything that can exist at this rating, might. Nothing explicit, nothing too gory. But I wouldn't know what to highlight as a warning.
Harry would have shivered, but the strength to move his arms wasn't there. Nearly 3 years in Azkaban, paired with less food than the Dursleys gave him, did that to a person. And that wasn't including the beatings that the guards would give him on a bad day. Nor did it count the two dementors occasionally gliding by his cell. Dementors had been removed from Azkaban, but the Ministry, fueled by Ron's vindictiveness, ensured that he'd have a couple there: just for him.
With his current state and the dementor's ever-helpful presence, he wondered why he'd bothered to rid the wizarding world of Voldemort in the first place. Hell, he'd constantly suffered in one way or another due to Magical Britain. Whether it was Dumbledore's placing him with the Dursleys, his isolation during the Chamber of Secrets incident, the scorn during the Triwizard Tournament, the mockery during the Umbitch – er, Umbridge year, or his outright persecution when the Ministry was taken over. He'd suffered more during his first 18 years of life than the rest of Britain had in their entire life, sans the Death Eater victims. Why did he save them? Harry couldn't remember, but it was too late to reconsider, he supposed.
And yet, they had the gall to lock him up. Were he able to, Harry probably would've done one of three things: Kill himself, Leave Britain and live as a muggle, or become a new Dark Lord, regardless of how hypocritical that was. But no, he was locked inside Azkaban with two personal dementors. Too bad he'd killed Voldemort already, or there might've been a jailbreak. Such a pity, really.
A pass of a dementor's chill broke Harry out of his musings, and rough, loud footsteps now echoed in his empty ward. As he was too weak to get up, Harry patiently waited for the footsteps to reach his cell. It was probably just a guard who wanted to vent his frustration on Harry-the-sitting-duck. Yes, he made a new hyphenated name, so what? At least this one was accurate and appropriate for once.
Due to his foreboding, it was no surprise to hear his cell open. What was the surprise was the soft, still timid voice from years ago whisper. "Harry?". At this, Harry opened his eyes and stared into the face of Neville Longbottom. His once round face had become a bit more square and rough, but it was definitely Neville the Underdog.
Realizing that the other man was waiting for a response, Harry smiled a weak, disingenuous smile. "An auror now, Neville?" his raspy voice choked out.
"So what're you doing here? Unless you're a new guard, but you're not depressed enough to be"
"Well, I'm supposed to escort you to the Ministry. Your sentence is being cut short."
"Really? So Ron and Hermione are coming here instead?" his tone was skeptical.
"No, Harry," Neville grimaced, "I'm supposed to escort you to the Veil for execution. I'm sorry" the look on his face reeked of genuine regret.
Recalling the dream he'd had the previous night, Harry lifted his eyebrow. "Well, let's get going then. Any moment away from these Soul-Suckers" he glanced toward the dementors patiently waiting, "is a half-decent one".
He was in a huge space of nothing. Everything was white, there was no depth but for the invisible floor.
"Rest easy, childe, it'll all be over soon"
"What are you talking about? Who are you?"
"Why childe, I'm right behind you"
Absently noting that he had the strength to turn around in his pre-Azkaban body, Harry was stunned by a woman glowing with ethereal light. It was strange; he knew she was beautiful in every way, but he could only look at her, and not see the individual features.
"Calm, childe, and listen. All will be over soon"
"You mean I'm going to die soon?"
"No, you'll go somewhere far, far away. The Archway of Death is a tool of Judgment, and will send you away where you'll be needed and be content."
"What do you mean? Archway of Death? What is that? And who are you?"
"I am Magic. And all will become clear soon. But I must go now. Take care, childe"
With that, the ethereal being faded away, and Harry returned to the plagued, tortured memories in his dreams.
"Hey Neville? D'you think we can go to Gringotts before the Ministry? I need to sort out my affairs and write a will"
Personally, Neville couldn't believe how easily Harry was taking this. He was going to die in a matter of hours, and he was asking to go to the bank! But he couldn't really deny the person who'd given him confidence and pride. Not even if he asked to escape, probably. So Neville agreed.
One hour later
A shower, a change of clothes, and a strengthening potion later, Harry was walking into Gringotts Bank. He waited patiently for a teller to become available, and quietly spoke.
"Hello, Master Goblin. I was wondering if Griphook is free at this time"
The teller would've sneered, but realized that the stranger had said 'Master Goblin'. No one displayed them respect, so he simply chose to answer the question. "Yes, I am available at this time, Mr. …?" he inquired.
"I can verify my identity in private Master Griphook. An inheritance test will prove it. And thank you in advance for the time". Wordlessly, Griphook led the stranger to his office, took out a blood testing parchment and ritual knife, and handed them to the stranger.
Harry cut himself and waited for three drops of blood to fall before his wound sealed, a result of the knife. Griphook peered curiously onto the parchment and stared at it shocked.
Harry James Potter-Black
Lord of the House of Potter
Lord of the House of Black
Blood Heir to the House of Windsor
Magical Heir to the House of Windsor
Blood Heir to the House of Gryffindor
Magical Heir to the House of Gryffindor
Magical Heir to the House of Hufflepuff
"Lord Potter-Black, I must say it's a shock to see you've escaped Azkaban" Griphook started.
"I haven't escaped. This stop is a detour before I supposedly get executed. And please Master Griphook, please call me Harry," he calmly responded.
If Griphook didn't remember how much Harry had worked to be forgiven by Gringotts for breaking in to get Hufflepuff's Cup, he would've been shocked again. However, he gathered his composure. "If you'll forego the title as well, Harry. Now, what may I do for you?" a worried tone – a first, for a goblin to worry about a human – crept into his voice.
"There are two things. One, I want to visit the Black vault. Afterward, I'd like your assistance in writing a will. If you'd oblige, I'd also like your help in carrying it out and enforcing a few of the tenets I plan to put into it. You'd be well-compensated, of course"
After the War ended, Harry had done Gringotts a lot of favors to be forgiven and to establish a friendly relationship with them. What happened exactly was strictly between him and Ragnok, the President, but it was well known that Mr. Potter was to be treated well.
"Why, yes, I'd be willing. I'm your account manager, after all. So, what can I do for you…?"
Ministry of Magic, Department of Mysteries, Elevator
"Neville, who are we meeting at the Ministry?"
He didn't want to refuse Harry, so he reluctantly gave in. "We're going to see the Weasleys, Luna, the Minister, and the Undersecretary. Malfoy is minister, and Marietta Edgecombe is Undersecretary."
Noticing that Neville was still nervous, Harry stopped. "Neville, don't be scared. It's sad to see Malfoy as minister and have a final meet-up with Ron & Hermione, but it doesn't matter."
"But Harry, you know you're innocent and you're going to die!" How was Harry taking his death so calmly?
"If you'll check for listening charms and swear an Oath not to tell a soul what I'm about to say, I'll explain" After finding no charms and swearing a Wizard's Oath, Harry continued, "The Veil isn't just an execution tool. It's an instrument of Judgment, and takes appropriate action. Hell, they probably chose the Veil because they think it's ironic, Sirius and then me."
He spoke further. "I don't really know what'll happen, but I don't think I'll die. Neville, you're freaking out more than I am, and I'm the one walking through. Just promise me one thing: If they decide to start torturing me one last time, just banish me into it, please?"
Dumbly, Neville nodded. The elevator reached the proper floor and opened. Harry, feeling weak, quickly downed another Strengthening Potion. It was temporary, but this wouldn't take long, hopefully.
The duo stepped out and took a familiar route to the Veil. Waiting there were some familiar faces. Luna stepped toward him first, dreamy voice ever-present. "The Nargles are going to move soon."
Anything further was cut off as familiar bushy-haired and carrot-topped heads pushed past her. "If it isn't Potter? Ready to die, traitor?"
Impassive enough to outdo a Malfoy, Harry responded. "I believe you're mistaken, Mr. Weasley. If I don't recall, you betrayed me to steal more of the headlines, fame, and gold. All things which I never wanted nor needed in the first place. Are you sure you're not addled in the head?"
And with that, an shouting match ensued among the Golden Trio. Well, two shouters and one level-voiced debater. And it carried on. And on. And on. Until Ron got annoyed and silenced the supposedly-unarmed Harry. (In visiting the Black vault, Harry had checked the wands for compatibility. He pocketed three – Sirius's Regulus's, and the wand of Phineas Nigellus.)
Eventually, a familiar, smug drawl echoed. "Well well, if it isn't The-Boy-Who-Lived-To-Betray, Harry Potty." Though it wasn't loud, the cutting voice of Draco Malfoy silenced all others. "Anything to say, Potter? Or shall we just get on with this?" it seemed that 4 years left to his own devices had brought back Draco's haughtiness.
"Actually, yes. One, you've only regressed in maturity since first year. Two, how is this going to happen? Are you supposed to read something out, or do I just silently walk into that Archway?"
"Now Potter," Malfoy drawled in a pseudo-aristocratic manner, "that'd be too simple. Since there's no guarantee you'll just walk in as instructed, Auror Weasley will be placing you under Imperius to ensure it. And, that's it. Weasley, get on with it."
Ron approached again, a gleeful smirk on his face. "Imperio!"
"Punch yourself in the face". At those words, Harry felt a slight urge to do as instructed, but he quickly drowned the temptation. Was Ron an idiot? Harry'd been able to repel the Imperius since he was fourteen! And that was a strong-willed Imperio by Crouch Jr. at that! Compared to Crouch, Ron had as much willpower as a flobberworm.
However, Harry didn't feel like letting them know that quite yet. Jerkily, as if to imitate a struggle, Harry lifted his arm and curled his hand into a fist. He slowly brought it up to rest against his right cheek, and let it lay there, no force applied. It didn't take long for Ron to scream.
"PUNCH YOURSELF!" Despite the louder tone, Ron's will didn't strengthen. If anything, it wilted. Deciding that play was boring, Harry let his hand fall and spoke, "I hope you all will be attending my will reading. It'd be such a shame to miss out on what I've left you, after all"
Sneering, Draco stepped up. "Clearly you're just weak-willed Weasley, I'll take care of this. Imperio!" "Beat yourself, Potter"
If Ron was a single flobberworm, Draco had the strength of a flobberworm army. Yet, they were still flobberworms. "Pathetic, Draco. And you call yourself a Dark Arts practitioner? I can see why Voldemort cared so little for you. Weak and haughty, just like dear old Lucius"
Neither Ron nor Draco passed up the opportunity to hex him. After a bone-breaking curse on both arms, a bat-bogey hex, a Jelly-Legs Jinx, a Trip Jinx, a Reductor curse on his ankle, and several Diffindos, they let up.
"Now, Potter," Draco straightened himself again, "Imperio! Beat yourself up"
"I think I'll pass and just get the execution over with. Bye, Neville, Luna. Be sure to come to my will reading." And with that, Harry tried staggering to the Veil thirty feet away.
As if to deny him relief, Ron and Draco resumed their cursing. Thankfully, their incensed state affected their aiming, but not too much.
Twenty-five feet. Draco landed a Crucio. Needles jabbed into every inch of skin and his blood felt like it was burning. If it weren't for his strength of will, he would've stopped.
Twenty feet. Ron threw a diffindo, lacerating his back open. Didn't seem to hit his spine, thank Merlin.
Fifteen feet. A bone-breaker curse on his ribs. It killed, he could feel his lung compress. Breathing was difficult.
Ten feet. A Vomiting Curse. The pitifully little in Harry's stomach was soon spilled onto the floor. He heaved, and his lung was punctured by a rib. A few more staggered steps.
Five feet. Blood-seeping curse. All his wounds re-opened, bleeding profusely. Every muscle was laden down with lead.
One step away. Another bone-breaker. Damn, Malfoy wasn't creative. His collarbone got hit, this time. Damn bastard was probably hoping for his skull.
As Harry fell into the Veil, he took one glance over his shoulder. Hermione was glaring, but silent, apparently content to let Draco and Ron dish out his misfortune. Speaking of the two, they were still firing. One nearly got him. An expulso curse struck the tiling at his foot, the force of the explosion blasting him into the Veil.
His last sight was Neville's hesitant thumbs-up and Luna's mixed face – grief, regret, and coldness. As he fell into inky blackness, the peculiarity struck him. Did she regret her thoughts? Or had she always known, simply being unable to do anything? But that was a lie, the Quibbler had sided against him in the end.
With that last thought, Harry slipped into unconscious, and left the planet Earth.
Alagaesia, the Burning Plains
With the battle over, the camp seemed dead. Most that weren't being tended to in the hospital were quietly resting in their tents. Were it not for a sudden gale appearing near the center of the encampment, it may have been quiet.
Yet there was a gale, and a large crack. Standing in a previously open space now stood a large archway. Formed out of an uneven but smooth black rock, it encapsulated a fabric of darkness. No one was witness to a bloody, broken Harry Potter falling out of the Archway. His wounds refused to close, and blood crept over more and more of his discolored skin. His arms looked misshapen, and his ankle was twisted the wrong way.
No, it would be a few more seconds until a curious Angela emerged from her makeshift home and spotted the broken body. She rushed over and found to her amazement that the person was still alive.
She barely noticed the looming Archway as she hefted the body up and carried it onto a spare bed in her tent. Solembum was awake and waiting for her as she fussed over the near-corpse.
'Who is this' the cat inquired
'I don't know. He was just lying there, broken and bleeding. And the battle ended hours ago! He wasn't there before. There was just some dark door behind him'
'Will he live?'
'I don't know. Probably not, but I must try' Closing the mind connection, Angela bustled about the tent, grabbing various herbs and salves.
Twenty minutes later, it seemed hopeless. Nothing she had was having any effect. He'd die within the hour from blood loss. Yet, it seemed Magic had a couple more gifts to impart. A soft humming reverberated throughout the tent, snapping Angela out of her mood and capturing Solembum's attention. A flash of blinding light burst, and when Angela could see ten seconds later, she was shocked.
Levitating above the body were three objects – a wooden stick, a ring, and a silvery cloak. As if sentient, the cloak folded itself and lay atop the man's breast. The wand and ring settled atop the cloak. With that, the person began glowing silver.
Several things followed. Out of all the open wounds, an inky blackness poured out in droplets and sank into the floor. The dozens of lacerations ceased bleeding and started closing. Angela watched in awe as a particularly jagged cut along the man's shoulder and collarbone faded into nothingness, replaced by unblemished skin.
That was another thing, the skin. Before, it had seemed sickly beyond belief. Where it wasn't disheveled, it was the black and blue of fresh bruises. If not that, then the faded yellow of bruises on top of bruises. Now, the colors were fading into a pale but healthy pallor. It wasn't alabaster white, but mildly tanned.
The misshapen arms began righting themselves abruptly. With a snap, an ankle was healed and re-set. The numerous broken bones reverted back into position.
As the silver glow faded to nothing, a new body lay on the bed. All in all, it looked like there had never been an injury to begin with, let alone life-threatening ones.
As Magic's final well-wishing gift, a loud pop resounded as a large trunk materialized next to the bed.
That's the end of the Prologue/Chapter 1. Review?