Chapter 1: The Last Light is Flickering

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Uncle Vernon swelled ominously. His sense of outrage seemed to outweigh even his fear of this bunch of oddballs.

"Are you threatening me, sir? he said, so loudly that passerby actually turned to stare.

"Yes, I am," said Mad-Eye, who seemed rather pleased that Uncle Vernon had grasped this fact so quickly.

"And do I look like the kind of man who can be intimidated?" barked Uncle Vernon.

"Well…" said Moody, pushing back his bowler hat to reveal his sinisterly revolving magical eye. Uncle Vernon leapt backward in horror and collided painfully with a luggage trolley. "Yes, I'd say you do, Dursley."

He turned away from Uncle Vernon to survey Harry. "So, Potter…give us a shout if you need us. If we don't hear from you for three days in a row, we'll send someone along…"

Aunt Petunia whimpered piteously. It could not have been plainer that she was thinking of what the neighbors would say if they caught sight of these people marching up the garden path.

"Bye, then, Potter," said Moody, grasping Harry's shoulder for a moment with a gnarled hand.

"Take care, Harry," said Lupin quietly. "Keep in touch."

"Harry, we'll have you away from there as soon as we can," Mrs. Weasley whispered, hugging him again.

"We'll see you soon, mate," said Ron anxiously, shaking Harry's hand.

"Really soon, Harry," said Hermione earnestly. "We promise."

Harry nodded. He somehow could not find the words to tell them what it mean to him, to see them all ranged there, on his side. Instead he smiled, raised a hand in farewell, turned around and led the way out of the station towards the sunlit street, with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley hurrying along in his wake.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pages 869 – 870

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Running a hand through the thick stubble covering his cheeks, Riley suppressed another yawn, settling for a pull from his cigarette. His back pressed up against the hard concrete of the building, he exhaled a plume of light, bluish smoke. A heavy, instant developing camera hung from a strap around his neck.

Though his posture was nonchalant, his eyes, hidden by wrap-around sunglasses, saw everything, cataloguing each and every person leaving the train station. If what his friend said was correct, then – there he was!

From the train station emerged a family of four. The father, an extremely large, beefy man with a reddened face walked by, his thick mustache quivering as he muttered to himself. A tall, bony woman with an unpleasantly horse-like face walked beside him, her eyes narrowed to slits. A blond boy followed behind them, a perfect recreation of his father, wearing a look of fear and uncertainty on his features.

However, it was the boy leading the family that commanded the majority of his attention.

The boy didn't look a year over fourteen. Black, unruly hair topped a pinched face with vibrant green eyes. Carved into his forehead, partially hidden by his hair, was a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt. An odd mark, but it had made placing the kid simple. What did his friend even want him for?

Shrugging, Riley flicked away the cigarette, which had burned down to the filter. It wasn't his place to question his friend, only to act. Peeling himself away from the concrete wall, he began to trail the family, blending in among the crowd. Around the corner he followed, until the quartet arrived at a family-sized saloon.

Un-slinging the bulky camera from around his neck, Riley raised it to his narrowed right eye. Focusing the view upon the rear of the car, centered upon the license plate, he snapped off a quick picture. He quickly turned, walking back in the opposite direction. As he did, the camera spat out a still-developing picture. Re-hanging the camera around his neck, he took the photograph between his fingers, and began to shake it as he made his way towards a bank of pay phones.

Reaching the nearest free phone, he quickly dumped in a few coins, before punching a number in. As the phone rang in his ear, he waved the photograph in the air, urging the colors to form together. On the fourth ring, it was answered by an irate-sounding man.

"Detective O' Brien," a voice barked into the phone.

"Hey, it's William."

"Sergeant, where the bloody hell have you been? We've knee deep in shit over here, and we haven't heard from you in three days-"

"Look, I'm on something hot," Riley answered, cutting over the detective. "I need you to run a plate for me."

"You okay, Sarg?" O' Brien asked, the venom departing his voice, giving way to concern.

"Look, I just need this, right away."

A brief silence settled over the line, before O' Brien let out a heavy sigh.

"What is it?"

"PCZ 8809"

"Okay, got it. Hold on a minute."

Riley waiting impatiently, twirling the photograph between his fingers. His friend had insisted upon taking a picture of the license plate. Riley had a fairly good memory, and had remembered his share of license plates, but who was he to question his friend?

"Okay, I've got," O' Brien said without warning, the line coming back to life. "The car is registered to Vernon Dursley, of Number Four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. He has no priors, Sergeant. What's this about?"

Not bothering to answer, Riley dropped the phone, leaving it dangling from its silver cord as he walked away. He had the information his friend wanted, and needed to get it to him immediately.

Getting back to his car, he jumped in. Starting the engine, he pulled out into the traffic without looking. Ignoring the squeal of brakes and the blares of horns, he sped off towards his flat, paying no heed to any form of traffic control or road sign.

His car miraculously intact, he pulled up to his flat just ten minutes later. It jumped as he rolled up onto the curb, bouncing him in his seat. The underside of the car squealed as it scraped against the concrete. Not bothering to even place the car in park, Riley leapt out. He ran into the building, before running up the stairs, taking them three at a time.

Upon reaching the third floor, he ran down the hall, stopping at the fifth door on the right. The numbers '309', cast in copper, were nailed to the front of the door. He opened it, running into the flat.

The living space was a testament to bachelor apathy. Empty food containers and drained brown bottles lined the counters, while piles of rubbish dotted the floor. Further into the flat, in the living room, stood his friend. The blond man stood far away from the furniture, as if the ratty chair and couch were contagious. He was completely still, eyes staring straight ahead, not even acknowledging Riley's arrival. Framed by a thick blond mustache and goatee, his mouth was thinned to a single line, conveying great displeasure.

Luckily, Riley had just the thing to brighten his friend's day.

"I found out where-"

"Silence," his friend commanded, finally acknowledging his arrival. Obediently, Riley closed his mouth tightly, unwilling to let out any sound. The blond man was dressed oddly, in a black robe. The fabric stretched tightly across his torso, giving him the appearance of a body-builder. Moving forward, the man reached into his robes, withdrawing a long, wooden stick.


Immediately, an immense pain knifed through Riley's head. As he collapsed to his knees, the events of earlier that day swam across his consciousness. It all made him want to scream, but remembering his friend's request, he kept his mouth shut.

Without warning, the pain stopped, causing Riley to rise hesitantly from the ground, his head still pounding, but grateful that the agony was over.

"He will be pleased," his friend said distantly, speaking more to himself than Riley. Shaking his head, the large man looked downward, a glare of intense dislike upon his face.

"Filthy muggle…Avada Kedavra!"

Immediately, a green light sprang forth from the wooden stick, rushing towards Riley. In the fraction of a second before the light struck him, Riley only had time for one final thought:

"What's a muggle?"

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June 25, 1996

The windows had been thrown wide open at the smallest bedroom in Number Four, Privet Drive. While the occasional breeze flitted across the windowsill, respite from the early-evening heat was rare.

Within, the air seemed to have a sluggish quality to it, as if the circulation itself had fallen still. His shirt tossed carelessly to the side, Harry Potter lay on his bed, his gaze focused straight at the ceiling. Beads of sweat ran down his head and body, staining the worn comforter.

Paying little attention to his own discomfort, Harry continued his study of the ceiling. Aside from the occasional trip to the bathroom, he had not moved from the bed, not even to eat. His stomach rumbled in protest of this, but the hunger pain was distant, as if belonging to someone else.

The large crack in the center was a roaring river. From it flowed several estuaries, reaching out in all directions. Most ran dry, the splits in the plaster disappearing into white. Others ran all the way to the wall, connecting the two.

He had started with forming pictures, but almost every materialized shape eventually shifted itself into a something which reminded him of his godfather. The simple arch of a crack became a stone archway. A few seconds before, he had been trading barbs with his hated cousin, and then he was…

"Gone," Harry whispered to himself.

Well, so much for not thinking about Sirius.

A soft knock upon his closed door temporarily chased away his thoughts, surprising him. It was an actual sign of respect for his privacy, an almost alien act during his tumultuous fifteen years at Privet Drive.

"Uh, come in," Harry said uncertainly, swinging his legs over the bed, moving into a seated position.

Slowly, the door opened, admitting Aunt Petunia. In the early evening gloom he could have sworn he saw a flash of pity, before it disappeared so quickly that he may have just imagined it.

"You haven't heard from Dudley, have you?" she asked, her voice regaining its normal vitriol.

Harry shook his head.

"I haven't seen him all day."

"Of course you haven't," she sniffed, before turning on her heel and exiting the room.

For a moment Harry considered lying back down, but in the wake of the conversation his stomach's rumblings had become far more persistent. With a sigh, he fished his shirt from off the floor, pulling it over his head. Keeping it off would have been more comfortable, but why give his aunt another thing to complain about?

Trudging downstairs, he made his way to the kitchen. After taking a quick inventory of the refrigerator's contents, he pulled out a few select items, enough to throw together a serviceable roast beef sandwich. Wishing to get away from the stuffiness of the kitchen, he took his sandwich out onto the patio.

The temperature was notably cooler outside, the back patio being the recipient of a light breeze. Seating himself upon one of the deckchairs, he attacked the sandwich. Though he tasted little, his dinner was gone in a few bites, leaving behind only a few scattered crumbs.

"Maybe I should start eating meals again," observed Harry without conviction, staring at his plate. Of its own accord, his gaze drifted upwards. The night sky was completely clear, giving an unblemished view of the stars above. For a few moments he lost himself in the tiny pinpricks of light.

A memory, half forgotten, cropped up as he stared at the sky. He remembered that when he went to primary school, teachers had told him that some of the starlight came from so far away, the star had already died by the time its light had reached the night sky. This thought had always appealed to a younger Harry. Even gone for thousands of years, their light still shone on.

Maybe that's how people were, too, he realized. Everyone that Harry ever talked to said wonderful things about his parents. How his mother was one of the smartest girls in her year, a practical Potions prodigy, capable of brightening a room with her smile. Harry's Quidditch skills were always being compared to his father's, and a fond smile would come onto people's faces when talking about the pranks he pulled.

Wouldn't this be how Sirius would want to be remembered? Not for his stupid, maddening end, but for all the smiles he had inspired during his lifetime? To his steadfast dedication to his godson, despite twelve hellish years locked in Azkaban?

The whispered glide of the patio door opening drew him from his musings. Glancing to the right, he saw Aunt Petunia hesitate for a moment, before sitting on another chair at the opposite end of the patio.

"Dudley's usually back by now," she said without preamble, staring straight ahead.

Turning his head, Harry looked into the kitchen. Through the immaculate window, he saw that the hour hand had almost reached ten.

She was right. This summer, it seemed that Dudley always made it home before nightfall. Harry supposed that after dealing with a Dementor, the urge to stay out late into the night faded quickly.

"Maybe he's at Piers' place," Harry offered lamely.

Petunia shook her head.

"No, Dudley is always good about calling us."

Silence stretched out following her statement, during which Harry began to grow resentful. Is this what it took for his aunt to finally be civil to him? Worry over her precious Duddikins?

Anger beginning to well up inside him, he turned his attention away from her, towards the skies above. When was the Order going to get him out of this hell-hole? It had already been three days. Were they planning on leaving him here half the summer?

The harsh ring of the telephone cut through their uneasy silence, startling Harry. At once, Petunia jumped up, and rushed towards the door, her housedress trailing slightly behind her.

"Duddikins?" she answered breathlessly, tearing the phone from its cradle.

She closed her pale blue eyes at the unheard answer, leaning back into the wall.

"Where have you been? I've been worried sick about you!"

Her eyes flew open at the response.

"Duddikin's, don't worry! Mummy's on her way."

With that, she slammed the phone down on its cradle. Moving to the kitchen table, she un-slung the strap of her purse from the kitchen chair, reaching inside.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, stepping inside the kitchen.

"Dudley hurt his leg at the park," Petunia answered distractedly, finally extracting her car keys from the purse.

"So why didn't one of his friends get help?"

"How should I know," she irritably snapped back, opening the door. "If your Uncle comes back first, tell him I've gone to get Dudley."

Before he could get in a word edge-wise, the front door slammed shut, leaving a concerned Harry to his own devices.

Dudley was always home before dark, and never went out alone. He always had his gang of friends around. Not only was it strange that he had waited until dark to call, but why would his friends leave him alone?

Something was very wrong here.

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Hit heart rate accelerating, Harry raced upstairs, towards his bedroom. Maybe he was just being paranoid, but having been in trouble so many times, he trusted his instincts. Reaching his room, he ran through the doorway, plucking his book-bag from the floor. Unceremoniously, he dumped its contents onto the bed, scattering all his magical possessions about the comforter.

His wand he took first, placing the eleven inches of holly in his back pocket. Moving aside a few textbooks, he found a spare piece of parchment. Searching for a quill, he stopped at his eyes moved towards the corner of the room, where Hedwig's cage sat.

It was empty.

"Shite," Harry swore, dropping the parchment to the floor. Of course Hedwig was gone; she always hunted at night.

His thoughts drifted back to Moody's parting words, urging him to give a shout if he needed them. How the bloody hell was he supposed to do that? He had no owl, no way of contacting anyone…

He slapped his forehead, in an almost comical act. Surely Dumbledore must have left at least one Order member watching the house?

Running back down the stairs, he opened the front door, stepping out into the night. His shoes whispering softly on the slightly dried grass, he observed that the street was completely deserted. Not that a watching Order member would make their presence obvious, or anything.

Feeling slightly stupid, Harry began waving his hands wildly above his head, hoping to signal whichever Order member may be watching the house. After a long minute of making an ass of himself, he gave up, letting his arms fall to the side. If there had been anyone watching, they would have seen that display.

So where was the Order?

His agitation growing, he marched across the front lawn, over onto Mrs. Figg's property. Maybe she had a way to get in contact with Dumbledore.

Number Two Privet Drive was completely dark, giving Harry pause as he began to climb the short stoop. Shaking his head, he continued forward, up to the front door. He didn't like the idea of waking up Mrs. Figg, but if he was right, losing a little sleep would be an acceptable loss.

His mind made, he held his finger down on the door bell, causing a loud chime to echo throughout the house. Satisfied, he stepped back from the door, expecting a light to turn on at any second.

None was forthcoming.

Slightly frustrated, Harry pressed down on the doorbell again, holding the chime for a full thirty seconds. If that didn't wake her up, nothing would. For a full minute he waited, but there was no reaction from within the house. Hesitating for a moment, he reached his hand out towards the door, grasping the handle. He turned the handle, but the door remained stationary. Locked tight.

In deep thought, he withdrew his wand from his back pocket, leveling the tip at the door jamb. One simple spell, and he could be inside. Trapped by indecision, he glanced inside the darkened…silent home.

An involuntary shiver, independent of the weather, worked its way down Harry's body as he stepped back from the door, lowering his wand. Even if Mrs. Figg was still sleeping, the racket caused by the doorbell should have woken up at least some of her many cats.

Carefully, he pressed down on the doorbell again, listening closely. Ears straining, he heard the slight rustle of the wind as it passed through the bushes, and the chirping of crickets. No paws padding against the floor, no scratching upon the door, no meowing.

Backing away from the darkened house, his wand held firm in front of him, Harry made his way back to Number Four, Privet Drive. His head jerked rapidly as he walked, inspecting every shadow for a potential threat. With relief, he backed into the house, closing the front door behind him and locking it. Breathing heavily, he leaned back against the door, as if to further barricade it.

What the bloody hell was he going to do?

Shaking his head, he pushed himself off the door, heading towards the kitchen. He passed through it quickly, entering into the back yard. Standing upon the concrete patio, he brought down his wand, pointing it at the grass.




"Petrificus totalus."


His first four spells dug into the ground, tearing up the sod, while the conjured water doused the smoldering divot.

If the Ministry came down harshly upon him, then so be it. The lack of Order presence combined with the tomb-like state of Mrs. Figg's house had unnerved him greatly. At least if the Aurors were drawn by his multiple uses of underage magic he'd have some sort of protection.

Disconsolately, he made his way back into the house, seating himself at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. How could Dumbledore have put him in this position? What good did going back to this wretched house do other than punish him?

For a moment, he considered his future. If he ran, the Ministry would be bound to find him anyway. Though, that might not be the worst thing in the world. He had an inkling that with Umbridge fallen from grace, and Fudge on the verge of being ousted, a change was coming. For all he knew, the next Minister might treat him like Fudge did before the graveyard and treat his use of under-age magic as a mere misunderstanding, as opposed to the uproar his patronus usage had caused.

Hearing the distant rumble of an engine, Harry looked up to see twin headlights pull into the driveway. Squinting in the bright glare, he jumped up from the table, hoping that Petunia and Dudley had made it back safely. Running to the front hall, he unbolted the front door and threw it open, his wand pointed forward.

"Ah!" Vernon screamed, throwing up his hands.

"Oh, great, it's you," Harry sighed, lowering his wand.

"What are you doing?" Vernon hissed, eyeing the wand uneasily, his face turning red. "Get in the house, now!"

Turning, Harry went back into the house, towards the kitchen.

"I will not have this unnaturalness in this house!" Vernon yelled, his feet pounding heavily upon the floor. "How dare y-you pull out that – that thing in front of the entire neighborhood!"

Uncle Vernon's tie was askew, and his grey suit was rumpled. His blond hair stood up in electro-statically charged bunches, which combined with his beet-red face and neck, made the man very hard to take seriously.

"Well, I don't think anyone would have been looking until you started yelling," Harry wearily pointed out, taking a seat at the kitchen table.

"Now you listen to me!" Vernon roared, banging both of his first upon the table, spilling both the salt and pepper shakers, and causing a plate to jump. "I've had a long day, and I'm in no mood for your freakishness!"

"Aren't you curious where your wife is?" Harry asked calmly, making a show of examining his fingernails.

Thought it seemed impossible, Vernon reddened further, his shade approaching an alarming shade of purple.

"What have you done with them?" his uncle managed to get out, a vein pulsing dangerously in the center of his forehead.

Harry let out a snort of disgust.

"As much as I'd like to tweak you, you'd probably believe me if I said I fed them to the Dementors."

"You did what?"

"Absolutely nothing!" Harry yelled back, exasperated. "Dudley called, said he hurt his leg at the park, and Petunia went to pick him up."

"Rubbish," Vernon spat, "I know you're lying to me!"

"Why would I bother?" Harry asked, throwing his arms in the air.

"Because Dudley called me earlier, asked me to pick him up at the Polkiss kid's house at ten-thirty."

"Wait, so what are you doing here?"

"Well, I've had a long day, and the Polkiss boy lives so far away, I thought that…"

Vernon said more, but Harry heard none of it.

They had wanted him here, by himself.


"Look, we have to-" was all Harry got out.

Without warning, a loud detonation rang through his head as magical energy arced outside in a bright display, blinding him. Spots dancing in front of his eyes, Harry ducked down, moving into the living room.

"Harry Potter," a familiar high, cold voice rasped, coming from the front of the lawn. Dread filling every inch of his body, he looked out the window.

Clad in dark robes that swirled in the summer breeze, Voldemort stood tall. His bald, pale pate shone in the moonlight, while his mouth twisted upward, into a parody of a smile.

"I confess that my time is short, so I was not able to arrange a final goodbye, but I sincerely hope this will suffice."

Reaching into his robes, Voldemort withdrew two dark, roughly spherical objects, and tossed them casually onto the front lawn. For a moment they rolled, before coming to rest, thrown into sharp focus by the bright moonlight.

Both Petunia and Dudley Dursley had not died quickly, or painlessly, if the final expression on their faces was any indication. Both blood-rimmed mouths were stretched wide, their final screams painted permanently upon their faces. The two sets of eyes had been forcefully ripped out, leaving behind only hollow, crimson sockets.

"Not to worry though," Voldemort continued, withdrawing his yew wand. "You'll have ample opportunity to catch up with them soon enough."

His final threat delivered, he began to approach the house, wand raised.

Vernon Dursley's visibly withered, seeming to draw into itself as his wife and child's heads rolled to a stop. Frozen in place, he let out a single choked sob.

"We have to move!" Harry insisted, tugging upon Vernon's meaty forearm. At once, burning rage lit in his eyes. With a snarl, his uncle swung out his arm, knocking Harry aside. His legs struck a low footstool, sending him tumbling to the hardwood floor. Turning over, he saw his uncle run out of the living room, and up the stairs.

Without warning, the front door was ripped free of its hinges. At once Voldemort strode through, wand held in front of him. Ignoring Vernon, he turned left, entering the living room, bringing his wand down in a high arc.

Reaching to the side, Harry tossed a pillow from the couch into the path of the grey spell, detonating it in a flurry of down feathers. Temporarily obscuring the two combatants, Harry backed into the kitchen, colliding with the kitchen table. Without thinking, he grabbed the plate from the table, still covered with the crumbs from his sandwich, and whipped it at Voldemort.

With a high, cold laugh, Voldemort stopped the flying projectile in mid-air, holding it in place.

"Really, Harry?" he mocked, before flicking his wand. At once, the white place rushed back towards Harry. Instinctively, he ducked, narrowly avoiding the flying plate. It broke through the glass patio door, the almighty crash echoing in Harry's ears as he rose, wand drawn.


The spell cast, he sidestepped to the left, out of sight. Backing up, he saw his crimson spell fly back from the living room, striking the wall. Turning upon his heel, Harry fled down the hallway, only to stop short in his tracks.

A pale Vernon Dursley stood at the end of the hall, facing Harry. His lips were pulled back into a snarl, while a vein pulsed dangerously in the center of his forehead. Clasped tightly in both hands, the barrel pointed firmly at Harry, was a six-shot revolver, big enough to hunt elephants.

Harry immediately dropped to the floor, hands over his head. To his surprise, Vernon kept the barrel steady.

Without preamble, he began to squeeze off shots. Each one was like a thunderclap, the recoil driving Vernon's arms upwards. Nearly deaf, he turned his head, to see Voldemort, wand raised. Each round fired floated in mid-air, almost casually. With a cruel smile, Voldemort began to lower his wand.

Thinking quickly, Harry thrust his wand forward.


Keeping low, he saw the blue jinx strike his uncle in the knees. At once, he fell awkwardly into the wall, dropping the gun. No sooner had he struck the ground had the bullets reversed direction, slamming into the wall framing the front door, putting fist-sized holes in the plaster. Leaping up, Harry began to pull his uncle towards the door, but Vernon shoved him aside, reaching for the gun.

"Impressive, but ultimately futile," Voldemort mocked, raising his wand. At once, the gun rose into the air, just outside Vernon's reach. As if pulled by strings, the gun floated towards his uncle, before the barrel pressed into the flesh of his forehead. Harry started to bring his wand down, but before he could, the trigger depressed.

The high-caliber round disintegrated Vernon's head in a crimson spray, painting the floor behind him with a fan of blood, brain and bone fragments. The impact threw the body back, slamming it into the floor with a sickening thud.

His eyes wide with terror, Harry backed away from his deceased uncle, panic clawing at him. Turning, he began to run up the stairs.

"Where are you going, Harry? Not upstairs to hide, I hope."

Voldemort's words ringing in his ears, Harry sprinted up the stairs. One step from the top, an unseen presence coiled around his ankle, holding him in place. Blindly, Harry swung his wand backwards.


His curse slammed into the wall next to Voldemort, detonating it in a rain of sheetrock fragments and splinters. Voldemort's quickly conjured shield completely deflected the shrapnel, but Harry felt the coil around his ankle disappear.

Freed from the invisible force, he sprinted down the hallway, lowering his shoulder into the bedroom door. It flew open, allowing Harry to stumble inside. Slamming the door shut, he pointed his wand at the bureau.

"Wingardium Leviosa!"

At once, the heavy piece of furniture lifted into the air. Swinging his wand to the right, he directed the bureau to the doorway, barricading it shut. It wouldn't buy him much time, but a few extra seconds was all he needed.

Flinging the closet door open, Harry withdrew his Firebolt. Running to the window, he mounted the broom. As he did, an explosion tore through the small bedroom. Without looking, Harry rocketed through the small window. Clearing it, he looked back, to see the bureau smash through the wall, ripping a large hole in the front of the house.

Turning back towards the tip of his broom, Harry flattened himself against the shaft, willing it to go faster. As it began to pull away, a crack ripped through the air as the Firebolt snapped in two.

Terror spreading across his brain, he couldn't even scream as he plummeted from the sky, each hand clutching a half of the broken broom.

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Harry hit the ground feet first, both legs breaking with twin sickening cracks, his momentum pitching him forward. His chin struck the dark asphalt, breaking his jaw with a wet snap. The second impact jarred him loose of his paralysis and he tried to let out a gargled scream of agony, but his breath hitched, trapped behind his splintered teeth.

Without thinking, he rolled over, eliciting a far more potent wave of white-hot pain. Raising his head, his eyes widened for a moment at the angle of his legs before he turned his head to the side, violently emptying the contents of his stomach through the aperture of his broken mouth.

His lower body was a complete ruin. The skin covering his knees and calves had been roughly split open, pieces and fragments of crimson-stained bone sticking randomly through. At the sight, his vision began to waver, and the world began to fade away. With a quick shake of his head, however, he struggled against oblivion. He couldn't pass out, not now!

Pieces of roast beef sandwich stuck between his ruined teeth, he vainly attempted to block out the pain, before forcing himself into a sitting position. Struggling to stay up, a high, cold laughter filled the air. Raising his head up, he saw Voldemort stride forward, wand held loosely, almost casually.

"One must admire such tenacity, Potter, even though it hasn't gotten you very far tonight."

Summoning forth the last vestiges of his strength, Harry reached down, pulling his wand from his pocket.

"We'll have none of that Priori Incantatem nonsense tonight," Voldemort said coldly, whipping his wand forward.

Before Harry could react, the red spell struck him in the chest. At once Harry's wand was jarred loose and he went tumbling backwards, the asphalt grating his legs and pulling at the exposed bone. Coming to rest in a ragged tangle, hot tears began to spill down his cheeks.

Voldemort, casually twirling Harry's holly wand between his fingers, walked forward, his crimson eyes alight with mirth.

"Just fucking kill me!" Harry screamed.

He had lost. There was no way he was getting out of this one. No two-way portkeys, no arcane protections, no Dumbledore to save him... nothing standing between him and the Dark Lord.

A wide smile stretched across Voldemort's visage.

"Come now, Harry," he rasped, his voice dropping an octave. "No one 'truly' begs for death. Your eyes betray the same fear I've seen in hundreds'. The same fear, the same ignorance. You don't want death, Potter, and it's arrogant to think you do."

At Voldemort's words, a blazing defiance lit with Harry. Maybe Voldemort was going to kill him, but whatever Riddle planned to do, Harry wouldn't make it easy. Every step of the way, he would fight, never giving a single inch.

Rolling onto his stomach, Harry began to pull himself forward. The contact with the ground set his nerves alight, but he continued on, transferring the pain into screams, splitting his throat.

Without warning, an unseen weight pressed into the center of his back, pinning him roughly in place. He tried to push upwards against it, but his meager strength couldn't overcome the force.

"You clearly have no grasp of the concept of defeat," Voldemort observed, pressing his boot harder into Harry's back.

At that moment, a deafening crack rang out through the night as Albus Dumbledore appeared in a swirl of purple and turquoise robes. His normally kind features were drawn tightly, his bright blue eyes agleam with fury.

"Let him go, Tom," Dumbledore commanded, wand held high. Harry hardly dared to hope, but unbidden, it bloomed within his heart, like a flame unto darkness.

"I think not," Voldemort replied, his tone triumphant. "You should have taken better care of your savior."

Dumbledore began to swing his wand in a wide act, but Voldemort merely let out a cold chuckle.


At once, both Harry and Voldemort were jerked backwards, as if pulled by a giant, invisible hook. Through the churning vortex he was pulled, his vision growing dim. Before passing out, his last thought was of Dumbledore's face in the fraction of a second before Voldemort had activated the Portkey.

It was one of misery, of failure, but most of all, of immeasurable hopelessness...

Even Dumbledore knew Harry would never escape.

X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X

Author Notes:

This will be a novel length Dark Arts story, which will slowly work towards a Harry/Bellatrix pairing. Expect nothing in the way of romance, however.

This first chapter is the brightest this story will get. If it turns out how I envision, it will be one of the most depraved entries into the Dark Arts this site has ever seen. Gratuitous violence, rape and a great deal of canon deaths will be only the start. Consider yourself forewarned for future installments.

The rate of update for this story will be very slow. This is more of a distraction, a way to vent frustration between 'Sitra Ahra' and 'The Unforgiving Minute'.

Chapter one of this story was submitted for the DLP February Dark Arts contest. It placed third. Congratulations to Silens Cursor and Grinning Lizard for their well-deserved finishes ahead of me.

A great many thanks to Grinning Lizard for his help with this chapter.

DLP Thanks:

Silens Cursor, Andromalius, shinysavage, dhulli, Portus, sirius009, knight504, Republic21, Socialist, Insane Juggler