Harry Potter gasped in pain as the ropes binding him to the statue in the graveyard spontaneously vanished, dumping him unceremoniously in a heap on the ground. The Death Eaters surrounding him laughed sadistically as Harry gazed in horror at the now-resurrected Dark Lord Voldemort stood before him, the dead body of Cedric Diggory, fellow Tri-wizard Tournament Champion at his pale, bare feet.

"Pick up your wand, Harry," hissed the snake-like Voldemort, indicating with his own at Harry's wand, which lay abandoned a few meters away, where Harry had dropped it upon entering the graveyard.

Harry scrambled to it, clutching it desperately like the lifeline that the small length of wood was. "And now, bow."

Harry stood stubbornly, refusing to give in to the commands of the evil, twisted creature that stood before him, warped beyond recognition as a human being, the monster that had coldbloodedly murdered his parents that fateful night so many years ago, and who had tried, and failed, to murder him.

"You refuse to bow? Come now, Harry. Surely Dumbledore has taught you proper etiquette. I said BOW." Voldemort waved his wand, and Harry was plunged into the familiar sensation that he recognized as the Imperius Curse.

'Bow. Bow, Harry. Bow.' That voice, it was so inviting, beckoning for him to bow. 'Come on now, just bend at the waist, incline your head, bow.' But he didn't want to bow. Not to this thing in front of him. 'Bow. Bow. Bow.' No, he didn't want to bow. Why should he? What made this creature superior to himself that he should subject himself to such a humiliating act? 'Bow, Harry. BOW!'

"I won't!" His refusal rang out loud and clear in the graveyard, his voice defiant.

Voldemort raised a thin eyebrow on his pale, serpentine face. "You won't?" He laughed, the sound more like hissing than laughing. "I suppose I was wrong about Dumbledore, then. The senile old fool didn't even try to instill his beliefs of manners into you, did he? I said, BOW."

Harry felt an invisible force press down on his back, causing his spine to curve despite his mental protests. He struggled to resist but was unable to, finally succumbing to the caustic laughter of the Death Eaters around him. Voldemort himself laughed as well. "Very good, Harry," he said, as if complimenting a small child. "And now, we duel. Crucio!"

Harry screamed as indescribable pain lanced through his whole body. It felt as though his bones were melting, his blood boiling within his veins. It felt like hours, days even, before it ended, leaving him panted and coughing on the dry, dead grass of the graveyard where it seemed like his very worst nightmares were coming true.

"Crucio!" The pain struck again, and Harry screamed until his throat was raw and he could scream no more, and still the pain continued.

"What a fool Dumbledore is," scoffed Voldemort, letting up on the torture, leaving Harry curled up in a ball, futilely struggling to stand. "The Boy Who Lived, savior of the wizarding world. What high hopes he had for you, Harry. And yet, in the end, you were no different from your fool parents."

Harry felt a surge of anger at this insult towards his parents. "Shut... up... you bastard..." he croaked. It was all he could do in his current condition.

Voldemort was amused at this last attempt at defiance. "Oh, I don't think you're in any condition to order me to do anything, my dear Harry." He sighed dramatically, shaking his head and tsking at Harry's prone form. "I think I grow bored of this posturing, Harry. I will kill you now. And this time, you will die properly. No dear mummy this time to protect you." Harry could only watch and offer a silent apology to his friends, Dumbledore, and his parents. He had failed, and now Voldemort had returned.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Harry saw the green light and closed his eyes, wondering if this was what his parents' last moments had been. He heard a chorus of sharp gasps, then silence. Was he dead now? Was this heaven? Cautiously, he cracked open one eyelid, and also gasped at the scene before him. There, standing tall and proud between himself and the furious Voldemort, stood an imposing figure, white cloak billowing in the wind, a long, Japanese-style sword sheathed on his back. Although Harry had not seen it with his own eyes, the figure, who he now saw was dressed in black Japanese robes and had orange hair as bright as any of the Weasleys, had actually caught the bright green Killing Curse in an open palm and crushed it as easily as crushing an insect.

Harry started as he looked into his savior's eyes and saw that they were a swirling gold, with black scleras. "Are you alright?" the figure, who looked only a few years older than he himself was, asked. Harry was surprised at his warm and friendly voice despite his terrifying eyes.

Still recovering from the effects of the Cruciatus, Harry managed to gasp out, "I'm fine," which seemed to be enough to satisfy the young man, who turned and regarded the circle of Death Eaters and Voldemort himself, who now all had their wands pointed at him, with almost an amused look. The figure reached a hand over his back, grasping the hilt of the sheathed katana with his right hand. Harry was aghast. Surely this man wasn't planning to take on several dozen Death Eaters and Voldemort himself with a Muggle weapon!

That was exactly what the figure intended, apparently. He drew the blade slowly, the rasp of steel against sheath chilling in the cool night air. Harry was startled to see that the blade's color was not silver, like he had expected, but rather midnight-black. The blade seemed to absorb all light, both natural from the moon and magical from the lit wands of the Death Eaters around them.

"Who are you, that you dare stand between Lord Voldemort and his goal?" asked Voldemort, his rage and anger almost palpable in the air.

"Me?" the orange-haired man replied, amusement laced in his tone. "And why should I not stand against you?"

"You ignorant child!" Voldemort hissed. "Here you stand, facing the most powerful dark wizard in all of Britain and you don't even know who I am? I am Lord Voldemort! I have conquered Death itself and rose from the grave again! You have no idea that power you face, Muggle!"

The figure raised an eyebrow. "Muggle? You must mean a mortal. A living, human being." He threw his head back and laughed out loud. "No, I think you're mistaken, Lord Voldemort," he said, putting sarcastic emphasis on the Dark Lord's self-styled title. "You are the one who has no idea what power you're facing. As for who I am..."

Harry gasped as black tendrils of energy emenated from his savior's body, kicking up dust and blowing the grass flat. His golden pupils seemed to glow in the moonlight as the wind picked up, gusting through the graveyard and causing the white cloak, which Harry saw had something emblazoned upon the back, a wide diamond with a cross and two horizontal lines inscribed within it, to flutter madly. The Death Eaters, growing nervous at this sudden display of power, began to back up, while Voldemort himself stood his ground, wand pointed at the man in the white cloak.

"Avada Kedavra!" Harry wanted to yell out a warning to the cloaked man as the deathly green curse sped straight towards his face, but he acted before the words even left Harry's throat. Faster than the blink of an eye, he flicked his midnight-black sword up, batting aside the supposedly unblockable Unforgivable as if it were no more than a tennis ball. The curse ricocheted into the sky, leaving a trail in the clouds.

"You are foolish, mortal," the cloaked man said, lowering the blade again, "to try to use a curse that causes death against me."

"Who, no, what are you?" asked Voldemort, and Harry could see that the Dark Lord's wand was now shaking slightly.

The cloaked man sheathed the long blade onto his back, instead drawing a shorter one from his waist, which morphed into a massive black scythe that was taller than he was. Harry gaped at the ornate designs inscribed not only on the blade but also on the wooden shaft of the deadly, beautiful weapon. "I am human. I am a reaper of souls. I am dead. I am alive. I am hollow. I am the perfect and complete hybrid of beings. I am Death itself. And I have come to collect my due."