A Life for a Life
Harry thought that he knew darkness, he had stared it in the face often enough. But when faced with a faulty Time Turner, a war, the destruction of a ring, and no way home; he decided that he'd have to reevaluate what darkness truly was.
Disclaimer: I own no rights to Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. This is for fun only.
AN: Past events follow through HP book seven, with disregarded epilogue. Inconsistencies to be explained throughout.
~Hogwarts – May 4th, 2005 - Morning~
Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin, and Nymphadora Tonks all landed hard on their knees in the infirmary of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They immediately looked around at one another in confusion and shock as Poppy Pomfrey rushed to their aide.
Draco Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, and Ginny Weasley were almost directly on her heels as was Minerva McGonagall, and she was the first to ask what the five pushing themselves to their feet were thinking. "Where is Harry?"
Hermione, suddenly realizing that a familiar weight around her neck was missing, felt for the chain and the gold hourglass. She gasped, "My Time Turner is gone!"
The other three instantly reached to their own necks. "Mine's gone too!" Ron exclaimed.
"So are ours," Remus and Tonks said at the same time. Neville simply nodded for the same.
"But you all have your emergency Portkey?" the Headmistress asked worriedly.
They all looked to make sure their badges were still attached to their robes, even though they'd all felt the pull of the Portkey bringing them there, and then nodded. That was when an explosion rocked the very foundations of the school and everyone ran to the windows that overlooked what was left of Hogsmeade, now engulfed in a raging inferno.
"Harry!" Hermione screamed with tears of fear in her eyes as she saw the blaze that was quickly consuming the deserted town and the location of their friend.
All of a sudden, a small globe that McGonagall always carried with her since the Headmaster's death, started to let off a high-pitched whistle and she pulled the glowing white orb from within her robes. She looked up at the others, tears coming to her own eyes. "Lord Voldemort is dead," she said quietly, almost a whisper.
"And Harry?" asked Ron hesitatingly.
McGonagall held the duel colored globe only facing in one direction. She slowly turned the ball around for the others to see, the other side was as well glowing white. "He will be remembered," she said shakily as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
~Hogsmeade – Ten minutes previously~
The group stopped warily at the edge of what was once the town square of the village. The shops and houses around them were now little more than burned out shells. Unsteady skeletal walls and foundations stood bleakly against the rising sun. That was all that remained of Hogsmeade. The Fiendfyre had done its job spectacularly well and Voldemort had been more than pleased with his young followers. Harry remembered that day well, for it had been the last day that he'd been able to see anything more than shadow with his normal eyes.
"Do you suppose he'll even show? Or send some of his lackeys again to try and ambush us?" Ron asked as he held his wand tight in his hand and stared around at the desolate village center warily.
"If he doesn't show, we'll just capture his Death Eaters again, and then maybe Harry will finally allow us to kill the thing," Neville said, looking at Harry beside him, who didn't look back, simply staring blankly in front of him. Harry didn't much look people in the eyes anymore; he felt that it unnerved them.
"He'll show," Harry whispered after a moment. His firm grasp around the ivory staff he held in his left hand, tightened slightly. It was the only show that he was even the slightest bit apprehensive about his own plan, otherwise, he almost appeared bored to the others.
Hermione set an enchanted cage down roughly a few feet in front of them and then backed away so that she was aligned with the others again. "I still think we should have killed it first," she said with distaste in her hardened voice and looked at Harry, who this time turned to look at her scared face. She was the only one he ever really did look at these days, for Hermione was one of the few that really only looked at him too.
"Perhaps you are correct, Hermione," Remus said quietly, placing a hand on both her shoulder and Harry's comfortingly. Harry looked back in front of him as Remus continued. "However, Harry is right, he would hide himself away until he was fully recovered and then eventually he'd created another. One we wouldn't know about."
"It's passed the time," Tonks commented, interrupting Remus anxiously. "Maybe he doesn't want his pet back after all."
Harry suddenly took a step forward, his staff clunking on the blackened stone beneath his feet. "He's here," he said with a small smile on his lips.
"I see you are just as in tuned to me as ever, Harry Potter," a hissing voice came from in front of them and then Lord Voldemort and several robed and masked Death Eaters appeared before them.
"The stench of your twisted magic is so distinct, how could I not know you had arrived," Harry hissed eloquently in Parseltongue, simply so his friends would not understand and he took another step forward to stand beside the cage. He leaned down and placed his hand on the top of it almost lovingly. "I knew you would come for her."
"If you have harmed her…" Voldemort warned, taking a step out of the ranks of his Death Eaters.
Harry smiled morphed into a cruel smirk. "Relax, Tom, she is unharmed, for now," Harry stressed the last words as he straightened.
"I have come as requested, now release her," Voldemort stated with strained civility.
"I release her now, and you will run, again," Harry stated. "Give me what I want first."
Voldemort motioned negligently to one of his Death Eaters. "Give Potter his precious traitor's antidote," he sneered and a Death Eater walked forward warily.
The black robed Wizard held out the vial to Harry, who took it in his right gloved hand without looking at it. He clenched it in his hand for a moment and then without moving his eyes from Voldemort, handed the antidote out to Remus behind him, who took it. Remus uncorked the vial and sniffed at it lightly. He then waved his wand over the contents before placing the cork back atop it.
"It is it," he stated quietly and pocketed the vial.
Voldemort's impatient stare turned to a glare as Harry made no move to remove the charms that locked the cage. "You have your antidote, Potter, now give me back my Nagini," he snarled, taking another step forward.
Harry smirked callously. "Did you really believe all I wanted was to get the antidote from you," Harry hissed coldly and Voldemort's glare turned nearly lethal. Remus placed his hand again on Harry's shoulder cautioning him with the movement, though he didn't know what Harry had said, the look in the Dark Lord's eyes was enough.
"Is it not enough? A life for a life, Potter; that was our deal!" shouted Voldemort.
Harry chuckled darkly and shrugged away Remus' hand. "Oh there will be a life for a life, Tom, but his is not the one I truly care about. He is no more important to me than your precious Nagini is to you. In fact, I've come to care about very little because of you. What I want is a duel to the death, between you and me and no one else," he said almost casually in Parseltongue. "Neither of us can live in this world and I am sick of sharing it with you!"
"You wish for your own death so readily do you?" Voldemort hissed in turn. "So be it. A duel, Potter, you shall have!"
Voldemort pulled out his wand in a swift motion and his Death Eaters all stepped forward. The others behind Harry gasped, but Harry stood motionless before them. He didn't even draw his wand.
"Harry, what are you doing?" Hermione whispered. "You aren't following the plan."
"I've scrapped the plan," Harry said simply and switched his staff to his gloved hand. He then pointed his left hand at Nagini's cage. His hand glowed slightly at the palm, but otherwise nothing happened. "Just you and me, Tom," Harry warned, nodding at the cage, making it quite clear what he'd do if Voldemort didn't comply.
Voldemort narrowed his eyes into mere slits. "Of course, Potter. Stand aside," he ordered the Death Eater's simply.
The Death Eaters all glanced at each other and then stepped back several paces. Harry nodded at his friends behind him briefly. They all had uncertainty in their eyes, but too backed away, reluctantly leaving Voldemort and Harry to face off against each other. They'd all agreed before coming out here, to go along with whatever Harry said.
As soon as they were all clear, Harry raised his hand away from the cage and then sweeping his hand in an arching motion behind him, his friends disappeared with a pop and five Time Turners came to his hand. He shoved them in his pocket as Voldemort watched him carefully and curiously with narrowed eyes.
"They were only in my way," Harry said with an almost careless shrug. Voldemort's eyes narrowed all the more and then started to circle him slowly, with his wand pointed at him. Harry stayed where he was.
"Where is your wand?" Voldemort hissed. "Are you to give up so easily, Potter? I thought you wished a duel between us?"
"Destroyed," Harry answered quietly and Voldemort smirked in triumph and raised his wand further.
"There is a bomb attached to Nagini's cage," Harry said simply. Sparks suddenly flew out of the end of Voldemort's wand as he advanced on Harry, who stayed calmly where he was. Voldemort raised his wand to Harry's temple. "It's set to go off thirty seconds after she's released, regardless of who releases her."
"And why are you revealing this to me?" Voldemort snarled.
"I've released her," Harry said calmly and Voldemort's eyes widened and he took a step back to Apparate away, but there was no time…
~Somewhere in Time, or a Moment Later~
Pain, all encompassing pain that was all Harry Potter knew. He knew there would be pain when he released Nagini, he'd accepted that. But he had no thought that it would last this long. He wanted to scream, but he had no voice. He had no air to breathe and his lungs burned as if he'd swallowed fire. Hot wind rushed around him, pulling his body in every direction. He felt like he was being torn apart from both the inside and out and if he could think, he'd realize he was.
The wind and pain disappeared so suddenly and completely that he was startled as his feet slammed into solid ground. He had a brief moment of thought that he didn't remember leaving the ground, when he collapsed under the impact. The scorched ground rushed up to meet him as he fell, landing harshly on his side. Harry groaned and tried to push himself up, but he lacked the strength to do so, and collapsed completely as his arms gave way. He let his head lay against the surprisingly cool dirt ground tiredly, his long hair hiding his eyes from the night sky, as oblivion overtook him.