So, everyone, this takes place after the Final Battle!
I have to warn you about certain changes though; Sirius, Lupin, Snape and Fred never died. Dumbledore did however. Heh, sorry to all those Dumbledore fans out there. ;)
Enjoy the story!
It was all over. The battle, even the war… Wizarding Britain had fallen under the Dark Lord's ruthless hand. A new reign had now begun… a reign of darkness that would swallow the rest of the Wizarding world into its abyss.
Everything had gone crumbling down in one single evening.
It was horrifying how many things were lost in just one day. Lives, freedom… hope.
Harry had thought that the Hallows would be their trump card. He had thought that after destroying the Horcruxes, after destroying Voldemort's only chance of survival, the Hallows would allow them to deliver the finishing blow. He had been shocked when he learnt that he was the true master of the Elder Wand, but then his shock had dissolved into a sort of giddy feeling. That would be his chance to finish off his arch-nemesis for good!
…How naive he had been.
Snape's move to provide him with his own memories should have appeared suspicious to him, especially after what the traitor did to Dumbledore. But he had been too hopeful that the man might had felt guilty for his action and wanted to redeem himself by helping the Light win.
But with that vile of memories, Lord Voldemort's victory had been ensured.
Snape played out his part quite well, not even Dumbledore himself had been able to distinguish the man's true allegiances, something that had cost him very dearly.
For some reason though, Snape never revealed the truth to his master. He kept the knowledge to himself, guarded tightly in the deepest corner of his mind with the strongest Occlumency shields he could muster. It was not out of betrayal though. It had simply not been his place nor the time to let his master know about that little piece of information.
It would become too much of a distraction, and they needed to focus solely on the upcoming war.
But now that the battle had risen to its fullest, Snape had obviously decided that it would be best suited for Harry himself to reveal the facts to the Dark Lord. He had sworn protection for the boy, and the brat would surely be more than protected once this particular information leaked out.
And that's where the vial of memories came into place. What better way to show the boy the truth than by the means of a pensieve?
A truth that would shock the boy down to his very core.
And a truth that would shatter Harry's foolish dreams to smithereens. How could he have thought that the Hallows would provide him with this final chance at victory? In the end, he never even got the opportunity to claim them, and not that they were of any importance anymore.
Voldemort had won without even using the Elder Wand.
And Dumbledore had, in a way, provided the perfect means for his victory. He had simply turned Harry into the ultimate weapon for that.
But Harry had been too optimistic.
Perhaps, if he hadn't been so accepting and so apathetic for his own fate if it meant ensuring that of others, then everything might have turned out differently. If Voldemort had witnessed the fear he had been expecting instead of the resolution that glowed in Harry's eyes, he might hadn't decided in the spur of the moment to glimpse into the boy's mind for the source of that fierce emotion.
And maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have discovered the one thing that Harry refused to acknowledge himself.
But when had fate been on Harry Potter's side?
More shocked than Harry had ever imagined the man to be, Voldemort failed to pour all of his focus into the situation at hand, and the boy had managed to escape. He had to go back to the castle, inform everyone about the new turn of invents and persuade them that there was no way out of this than by killing him. Voldemort would then be left completely vulnerable without his last Horcrux.
Nagini could be dealt with later. He was the main obstacle. Voldemort would never kill him now that he knew the truth of what really happened that fateful Halloween night sixteen years ago.
They had to work together into making Voldemort somehow still aim his wand at Harry with the full intention of killing him. That was the only way for the Horcrux to be destroyed.
He had even persuaded himself that he could manage to talk Sirius and Remus into it, bringing up some kind of excuse about his parents' death, how it would all be in vain. But it turned out that he never got the chance to do so.
The moment he stepped into the Great Hall, corpses and blood from those injured piling up in the once warm and welcoming hall, he had instantly fallen to his knees. And for the looks on everyone's faces, they could hear it too. That chilling, cursed voice that would seal their demise.
All hope had been lost right then and there; Harry could no longer bring himself to struggle after those words kept echoing off in the walls around them.
It was over.
One week later, Harry found himself sitting on the couch of the Gryffindor common room, the fire that was blazing in the fireplace the sole focus of his attention. Even one glance around would be too painful, especially when he knew that he would never be coming back.
The portrait hole suddenly sprung to life, revealing a boy with platinum-blond hair. Harry couldn't suppress the bitter curl of his lips, a chuckle rising from his throat as he stood up.
"I figured he would be sending one of his own." the raven haired teen said once he had approached the boy, emerald green colliding with silver grey. At last, the former broke the contact, a sigh passing through his lips, "I'm thankful it was a familiar face, at least. How kind and so unlike him."
"I never thought I would live to see the day that you would be happy to see me, Potter." Draco remarked, his characteristic smirk claiming its rightful place on his face.
Harry couldn't fail to frown at this. "And I never thought you'd be making it out of the war alive. I guess its wonder day for the both of us." And before Draco could retort with another of his smartass comments, Harry had swept past him.
But he had to actually pause again once he caught sight of the figure waiting for them on the top of the stairs, her enthralling presence catching him off guard. She was dressed in a beautiful, silk black dress for the occasion, probably of some famous designer among the nobility, her hair cascading in a river of golden curls down her shoulders.
"I admit that your color of choice has me jealous, Mrs. Malfoy. I would have picked it myself if I actually had been given a choice in the matter." Draco having caught up with him, they walked over to the witch together, descending down the Spiral Staircase without halting. She was there after all as a guard, not an escort.
"Black, Mr. Potter? Surely scarlet would be more to your liking." Narcissa replied as they made their way down, her gentle voice surprising Harry since he had never heard her speak before.
They had been too preoccupied with thinking up spells at Malfoy Manor for him to focus on a mere voice. But he would be lying if he said that it wasn't pleasant. At least much more soothing than the screeches of her sister.
"Yes, red would actually be my second choice. I believe that black would be indeed more fitting for the event." He didn't have to look over his shoulder to know that the woman had probably raised an eyebrow, "He may think it otherwise, but in my opinion, it's a funeral we're going to attend. What better color than black?"
Silence took over after his words, but he did caught sight of the scowl on Draco's features, not that he commented upon it though.
He took his time to observe their surroundings, basking in the warmth and comfort the castle was yet emitting. The tender emotions that rose up in his chest were inevitable. He really did love this place dearly. There was now not a single corridor, secret passage or abandoned classroom that Harry didn't know by heart. Especially now that everything was back into place. The Death Eaters, under their Lord's command, had repaired every single thing that had been destroyed during the collision of the two forces.
Harry somehow knew that Voldemort didn't need any actual motivation for this. It had become obvious to him that he wasn't the only one with tender feelings for the castle.
And apparently Hogwarts was feeling the same way. During this one week that he had been isolated inside the castle, he would always feel a peculiar kind of pleasure radiating off the walls. Whatever he touched, whether it was the chilling glass or a plain wooden table, it would instantly become warm under his touch, making his hand tingle pleasantly.
But it seemed that it wasn't just him. The one time that Voldemort had come into the school during the week, Harry had gotten the impression that the magic all around the castle was in fact humming.
He would never understand how Hogwarts could still be treating the darkest wizard of all so highly, but it probably just showed that no child of the castle's would ever be treated differently, and especially not two of the descendants of the people that had founded it.
"You don't have to agree to this." The whispered words weren't what shocked Harry the most, no; it was the nearly desperate tone with which they were muttered.
He gave what hopped to look like an indifferent shrug of the shoulders, "Whatever for? It was never my choice anyway."
They had reached the Entrance Hall by now and were making their way over to the massive, double doors that shielded them from glimpsing the world outside of this castle. In the past week, the doors had always been locked and no matter how hard Harry had tried he never seemed to get them to open. But he knew for certain that Hogwarts had nothing to do in this, it was all Voldemort's doing.
Today, though… he had a feeling that they would open and strangely enough, he wished that they would remain locked, especially today.
He stopped suddenly, his companions pausing at either side of him. For some reason, he couldn't find it in himself to give the necessary push that would make the gates open.
"A prophesy was made even before I was born," he closed his eyes, not needing to see the questioning stares that he could feel on him, "Others decided that I would live on or die fighting Voldemort. The path was laid out for me and all I could do was go along with it. Then, he decided, that others would live or die because of me. No matter which way you see it, people only ever needed me for being the sacrifice."
His friends had been the only exception, but even they could never follow him along the path he was meant to take. In the end, everything had been for nothing. His very purpose in life had been a lie.
"The world begged for a salvation, someone that would carry all of their burdens on his shoulders and never complain about it. I merely gave them what they desired." He opened his eyes, gaze connecting with the marble, polished floor beneath his feet and he vaguely wondered when he had bent his head, "After all… aren't I the Chosen One?" Harry actually laughed at that, a mirthless, bitter laugh that had his shoulders shaking from the force of it.
Somewhere along the way it must have turned into an insane cackle, but he still couldn't bring himself to care. He was in fact surprised that his sanity had remained intact after everything that happened to him. One last hollow chuckle left his lips, before he felt it… the wetness.
It took him a moment, observing the water drops that seemed to materialize out of thin air on the flawless, white floor, to realize what was, in fact, happening.
Cursing lowly under his breath, he took off his glasses in order to wipe away the stupid tears, when a handkerchief was shoved into his line of sight. His eyes went up, following the length of the arm holding the item. The yellow blur that his eyes came up with was probably portraying the matriarch of the Malfoy line, reminding him that two members of the said line were still standing next to him. His gaze slipped back to the handkerchief, it seemed to be made out of white silk or some sort of, none too cheap, velvet.
At last, he took hold of it, feeling a tad ashamed at having ruined something so beautiful, "Thanks."
Narcissa held out her hand then, and he actually felt embarrassed about the wrinkled mess that had become of the flawless handkerchief. He couldn't help but blink when the elder witch took it without so much as grimacing in disgust, muttered a cleansing spell with her wand before performing a circular, little move that had the handkerchief straightened out and smooth again, and then handed it over back to him. "Hold it until we arrive. It might be of need again."
"Yes, can't have him sneering at me for showing such weakness in front of our guests, right?" Harry spat bitterly, pocketing the item while offering Mrs. Malfoy what he hoped looked like a grateful smile.
He hadn't smiled in quite some time, after all. So, he really wasn't surprised when his lips ached lightly from the pull. He could hardly remember when was the last time he had smiled or laughed for that matter. Was it at Bill's wedding? God, it seemed like decades ago.
But he nearly did crack a small smile when Draco reached forward and opened the doors for him with one push. The blond must have sensed his reluctance. But who could blame him though? Walking out of this castle meant going right into his doom.
It took him great effort to force the sudden bile back down his throat, and even greater to move his legs. But he did never the less. There'd just be one too many consequences if he didn't.
He instantly breathed deeply, filling his lungs with fresh air, eyes closing if only momentarily in bliss. The joy to be outside again.
His companions didn't complain for the delay and he was truly thankful for that, but they all knew this moment of happiness couldn't last long. He would be angry if they were late. Letting out an exasperated sigh, Harry was the first one that began walking; it would be quite a while till they reached the Black Lake after all. He knew that there was no postponing the inevitable, but he still was eager to see the scenery he had missed so greatly during that week, marvel the beauty that was Hogwarts and keep as much detail as he could etched into his mind.
A reminder, so that he would never forget what his home looked like.
"People will start rebelling soon." Malfoy said from somewhere behind, snapping Harry out of his musings abruptly, "They won't stand to be controlled by him."
Harry was able to hear Narcissa's sharp intake of breath, probably out of fear for hearing her only son speak so disrespectfully of their Lord. And Harry didn't blame her. If Voldemort ever heard the youngest Malfoy question his authority like that, he would certainly not hesitate to show the boy what happened to those who defied him in such a way, whether or not they were the son of his right hand man.
"Don't illusion yourself. Only fools would fight against him now that he's become so powerful." He definitely knew all about that. He had been fighting for a lost cause from the beginning.
From the corner of his eye he saw Draco falling in step with him, but the boy's next question nearly made him freeze.
"And are you a fool, Potter?"
But Harry didn't answer, instead his eyes focused on the path ahead. A fool… Just a few days ago his answer would have been a definite yes, but now…
"All is lost…" Harry couldn't help the shiver that ran up his spine as Voldemort's words came back to him, the words that had been hissed into the air that night after the Dark Lord found out the truth.
"The amount of the corpses of students surpasses by far that of Death Eaters. You have lost, Harry Potter…" Voldemort had said, with no little concealed glee.
"Do you feel proud now that so many people died in a battle that was never theirs to fight? In a battle that should have been led solely by you, their Savior? Many lives have been lost tonight, but I shall bestow you with one last chance to bring forth their salvation…
"Come to me, Harry Potter, and no further harm shall come to your comrades. Surrender yourself over to me now and there will be no more unnecessary deaths…
"Make your decision, Boy-Who-Lived, but choose wisely for the lives of so many souls rest with you."
But the Dark Lord was not through just yet. In Harry's mind alone he had continued, "Your destiny is calling, Harry, and you'd better not keep it waiting." Harry's knees had buckled underneath him then, green eyes staring brokenly ahead just as everyone in the Great Hall turned to look at him. Tears had made their way down his cheeks as he gazed at the faces of all the people he cherished, people that he knew he had failed.
And Voldemort knew it too.
He was aware that Harry wouldn't have been able to take all that guilt, to continue, knowing that all those people died for him. One life, for the sake of millions of others…
And his friends knew it; they had seen it in his eyes, the resignation. He had bolted then, hauled himself up and ran out of the Hall as fast as his legs could carry him. The tears had increased as he heard them, Sirius, Remus, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and many others calling to him, screaming and begging him to stop, but he couldn't.
Harry let out a shuddering breath, shaking his head a little as if he could chase away the unwanted thoughts by the action. Oh, right. Malfoy was still waiting an answer from him. "It's not my life I'm gambling with this time, Malfoy. If I were to fight his authority, others will pay the price. He'd punish them knowing that by doing so he's punishing me as well. And frankly now, try to be realistic. How can he ever fear something of his own creation?"
Draco's golden eyebrows met together in a scowl. Was it just him, or was Potter making no sense whatsoever today? Well, more so than usual at least. As if sensing his perplexity, Potter angled his head so that he could peer at him out of his left eye, before elaborating. "Enemies."
That only served to make Draco's scowl deepen. Yes, totally not making any sense. "You talk like a bloody Ravenclaw, Potter."
At this, Potter actually chuckled. "Really? Must be all the adrenaline rushing up to my head."
"Anxious to get bonded with the Dark Lord?" The words were out before he could stop them. The blank, unreadable expression that took over the raven haired boy's features struck him more than the glare his mother was sending his way. But the pain that was reflecting off those emerald eyes… it made him turn his head away with something akin to shame.
"Um…" he cleared his throat, feeling self conscious all of the sudden, "sorry, wasn't thinking." His eyes snapped up though, the moment he heard the other snort.
"Is that supposed to mean that usually you do?"
"Shut the hell up, Potter!"
"Draco!" Narcissa hissed warningly, eyes jerking to the side to silently chastise her son.
"But mother, he insulted me!"
Harry couldn't help but laugh at this, an actual, heart-warming laugh that had both his companions staring at him weirdly. Honestly, he was pretty sure that the snobbish blond hadn't even realized he had, in fact, whined. "Must admit, Malfoy. You do know how to cheer a doomed man."
Silence reigned over again, but Harry didn't think much of it. His gaze wandered over to the green fields that surrounded them, eyes spotting the faraway shadow of the Quidditch pitch in the distance. He'd really miss this place.
"It's not like you're a pig going to be slaughtered, you know."
Harry stopped dead on his tracks. He turned around slowly, eyes widening as he took in the bitter and somewhat pained expression on Malfoy's face and the fact that the blond refused to look at him. He whirled around swiftly, making his way towards the lake again, knowing that the other two would follow. Strange how in just a few hours he had regained his ability to laugh and smile again, he thought as he felt his lips stretch across his face.
No more than a few moments later, he stopped again. This time without even his notice. Breathe and just remain standing was all he could do.
They were here.
Up ahead, the glittering surface of the Black Lake could be seen, sparkling like a million diamonds under the sun's gaze and ironically enough, seeming as bright as never before. A complete contrast to both her name and the mood. There, at the edge of the lake, numbers of chairs were everywhere, conjured up to accommodate the number of people that had come to attend. No, not come. Forced, was a much better choice of word.
This was the Dark Lord's ultimate victory, greater even than conquering the Final Battle. Of course he'd force the people into attending their Hero's fall from grace, just so that he could extinguish any last traces of hope.
Harry didn't want to compare it with Bill's wedding, no matter how similar the setting was. No, Dumbledore's funeral was more like it.
His hands had started to tremble by now, so he clenched them, clenched them as tightly as he could, wishing for any kind of distraction and that included pain too. Yes, pain was good and more importantly, it was definitely leaving up to its expectations. Too bad that he wasn't allowed to be distracted for long.
He was aware that someone had taken hold of his hands, coaxing them gently into opening, but still he couldn't tear his gaze away from the scene ahead. When the tip of a wand was pressed softly in the inside of his palms and a murmured incantation followed, he didn't need to look, to know that the bloody half moons his fingernails had created were now gone, leaving nothing but unblemished skin behind.
He closed his eyes, relishing the feeling of warm hands closing around his own, and savoring the momentary comfort they gave him, so much like the comfort a mother would probably provide for her distressed child.
A feathery light tug snapped him back to reality. Narcissa Malfoy was staring at him, her silver-grey eyes drifting over to the scar that had marred him for life before centering into his eyes again and then closing briefly as if in a sad manner. "It is time to go, child."
Child… Yes, wasn't that exactly what he was, compared to all of them? A lonely, pitiful child that had been raised for a purpose he'd never be able to fulfill.
He felt he could only nod in affirmative, to the woman or his musings, he still didn't know. Perhaps towards both?
And then they were moving again.
Waiting to hear your thoughts!