Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Harry Potter characters and it's a bloody shame!
A/N: Sorry it took so long and sorry if there's a typo here and there. I have been writing diligently and there's more in the offing. MK
Chapter Twelve: Vengeance is mine
"Christ what a mess." Cam complained as he toed a piece of rubble out of his way with the sad remains of his tattered boots.
He loved his boots.
"Oh, I don't know..?" Dozer added supportively. "A few repairos and a cleaning charm or two and we should be ready to reopen in a couple of years or so."
"I was talking about my boots." Cam clarified abruptly.
The rest of the group sniggered at that.
"Has anyone seen my Order of Merlin medal?" Harry asked off handily as he sifted through some nearby rubble.
"I think what's left of his darkness is lying on top of it." Raven suggested.
"Ewu..!" Stalker grimaced in disgust at the sad remains of a sad arsehole. "I'm not going anywhere near that disgusting pile of shite." he balked shuddering in revulsion.
"Me neither" another put in.
"Probably cursed. I don't need to read the future in those entrails; it says it says touch 'em and your cursecd with constipation for life!"
Some paled at that, others laughed uproariously.
"Diarrhea more like. Judging by the way that wanker ran his mouth."
"Merlin, kid... I'll never forget the look on your, er his, well,.. your faces when he thought you were actually really going to jump." Stalker gasped shaking his head in relief.
"I was." Harry returned matter of fact as he continued searching for his lost medal.
"Whadyamean, you was?" Dozer blurted aghast, grabbing his shoulders and pulling Harry around to face the rest of them.
"I- was-really-going-to-jump. " Harry clarified succinctly.
Dozer's face paled dramatically. Several others gasped at that and a few, like Cho, stifled a sob.
"Jee-sus, Kid..." Dozer grasped both of his shoulders supportively as if to reassure himself that he was still among the living.
Harry gently extracted his friend's grasping hands and returned to his search, offering in after thought as he did so. "That was then, this is now."
That was then...
Madam Bones hastily drew everyone's attention, in the hidden Reception Hall, to the enfolding drama within the adjoining Ballroom. "I believe this is it? Yes, the Unspeakables are mobilizing for an assault. I caution those who are faint of heart to look away or better yet, return to your homes as a battle is a ghastly, however unfortunate, a necessary thing if wars are to be won!"
No one left the Hall this time. Their attention was riveted to the Unspeakables movements as they took up flanking positions around the Ballroom.
A horrific crash from outside caused several of the charmed windows to buckle and shatter, spraying shards of glass across the Ballroom floor.
Wands appeared like, well, like magic as shields snapped into being and deflected deadly shards away from themselves. The floor became a mine field as razor shards of the broken glass littered the area.
One lone figure stood off on the stage, seemingly unconcerned on the one hand and expectant on the other.
Wraith had donned an "Order of Merlin" medal that hung proudly around his neck. Hermione snorted next to Susan in understanding.
By Susan's expression she could tell she didn't quite grasp the tactic, but before Hermione could clarify, Ron cut in.
"It's sauce for the goose. He's baiting the Dark Wanker. It'll piss him off no end that someone's wearing the nation's highest honor for successfully resisting him and freeing his other captives. If its one thing that used to set Riddle off it's when Harry goaded him about how un-scary and not-all powerful he is."
Though disappointed that she was not getting to put her two pence in first, Hermione agreed with a curt nod of her head at her fiancé's summation.
"Is he crazy?" Susan gasped, her own hand going for a wand she didn't currently have as it was confiscated for her own protection.
"To face Voldemort?" Ron asked incredulously. "I'd say yes." he answered his own question looking relieved that he wasn't the person in question making the attempt.
"W-Was Harry.. I mean was Harry ...?" Susan half murmured in apprehension.
"Crazy?" Hermione guessed what she was going to ask. Susan nodded her head apologetically, but her eyes indicated that she still wanted to know the answer despite her embarrassment.
Ron snorted at that, but Hermione answered: "What my dear Ron is trying to impart is that Harry was not crazy, per say, at least not in the clinical sense but more of a "like a fox" sense. He was very cunning in battle. He was also recklessly brave and self less to the point of insanity, but not clinically crazy." Hermione conjectured.
Ron nodded his agreement, adding. "Harry never went looking for a fight, but damned if he'd ever walk away from one if fighting back was the right thing to do. He'd take on anyone or anything if lives, especially that of innocents, depended on it. "
Hermione pulled herself closer to Ron both in support and affection. Harry was still a tender, but heartfelt, subject for the two of them as well as with Ginny and Neville.
"Is Wraith?" Hermione asked at length, eyeing the man critically. He appeared as calm as a glacial lake despite the horrific sounds of battle that echoed in from the broken windows overlooking the ministry entrance outside.
"Crazy?" Susan clarified to which Hermione nodded curiously, her eyes still riveted to the man in question. She hadn't known what she expected, certainly not Harry, that just wasn't logical, but still,... there was something familiar in the way the man carried himself.
At length she dismissed it as just wistful thinking as Susan answered her question, or attempted to.
"I'd have to say, no, at least not in the clinical sense." At this she winked conspiratorially toward Hermione, who smirked in return.
"He's brave, very brave, like Harry was, but unlike Harry he will go looking for a fight."
"All of Griffon team tends to go that way." Amelia Bones added to the topic at hand, stepping up alongside the gaggle of friends.
She went on to explain herself with no little pride that: "Of all the Unspeakable operatives that have fought and given their all in this war; Griffon team is the most successful and one does not need wonder why when you meet the gentlemen in question. They're a crafty, courageous lot who would go to hell and back for each other."
Amelia Bones paused speculatively, adding... "They are not wholly unlike a certain group of students who stormed the ministry some years back, only more seasoned and experienced as well trained adults tend to be, but for all that no less courageous."
Minister Bones beamed a smile of appreciation toward the remains of the ministry six that currently had their attention glued to the unfolding drama they were witnessing through the transparent wall of the room next door.
Hermione wiped at one eye, nodding her head in gratitude toward the minister, while Ron smiled and pulled his fiancé a tad closer toward his chest, Neville and Ginny mimicking the sentiment nearby in an affectionate, albeit, wistful embrace.
An almighty bellow of pain and outrage preceded a deafening crash that sent a shockwave throughout the Ministry, actually knocking a few onlookers from their feet.
"What in Merlin's name was that?" Ron exclaimed in surprise.
An Unspeakable cast several hand signals, from his vantage point at a broken window, that caused several of the disguised attendees to snicker and snort appreciatively. Another bellow and crash had them laughing outright. None appeared anything more than amused by the antics of their fellows; never doubting for a moment that they would successfully complete their task without casualty.
Ron and company shot the Minister questioning looks of concern that were answered with a light chuckle that.. "I believe all is going to plan, Mr. Weasley." she answered loud enough to reassure the others around them. "They have left nothing to chance and are more than equal to the task of seeing their plans successfully completed. They're an amazing bunch." she added with no little pride.
She knew through her own debriefing that Griffon team was doing what it does best at the moment.
Several more crashes outside heralded a barrage of shouts of alarm and the unmistakable sounds of wand fire echoing from the hall outside that led to the ballroom.
One Unspeakable held his hand up and began counting off fingers, his fellows moving with precision into position around the Hall. To the casual onlooker they would appear no more than party guests attending a pleasant evening's entertainment. Some were at the bar ordering a drink, others getting an appetizer or engaged in light conversation, even a few drifted away from the dance floor and were snogging in semi private alcoves.
Susan startled when her aunt stepped out onto the stage congratulating Wraith on his award.
Her head swiveled toward her aunt who was still standing next to her, smiling winningly as she just shrugged her shoulders unconcerned. "Sauce for the goose" she added chuckling with a wink of appreciation toward Ron.
"Speech, Speech!" several called out amongst applause and cheers.
The doors to the hall exploded inward and careened across the floor scattering a few party goers, more out of necessity than alarm.
"Yes,.. by all means do favor us with a speech?" a magically enhanced and mocking voice called out from the door.
Gasps and shudders of dread filled the Ballroom as the crowd cringed back and away from the hideous spectacle of the Dark Lord suddenly standing amongst them, flanked by nearly a dozen of his Death Eaters.
Wraith had to stiffle a snicker as Raven was shuddering in supposed fear like a virgin on prom night.
On closer inspection,.. the Death Eaters looked quite worse for wear with torn and smoldering robes, some sporting arms that hung at odd angles or favoring a leg.
Only Voldemort looked unscathed. No surprise that as he'd undoubtedly let his minions do all the actual fighting thus far, saving his strength to intimidate and dialogue his supposed greatness.
Wraith held his hand up to his brow focusing his attention on Voldemort. He rolled his eyes as if upon unwanted recognition and drawled. "The door was open, all you had to do was knock you great arse."
Voldemort seethed and was about to launch into one of his infamous tirades, but Wraith cut him off which only served to infuriate him more so.
"Well as to a speech? Hmm, I hadn't really prepared anything..." Wraith drawled, smirking down at Voldemort who looked ready to explode. "But since you asked? How about heya Tom, long time no see, but for all that you're as creepy as ever, so- Piss Off!"
Snickers and snorts filled the Ballroom as the partygoers laughed at the Dark Lord's expense.
Ron snorted appreciatively along with the minister, though Hermione caught Susan's eye and quipped. "I thought you said he wasn't clinical?"
Susan shrugged incredulously, riveted to the scene in front of her. Her hands brushed back and forth across her arms, trying vainly to dispel the goose bumps rising across her flesh.
"You dare mock the Dark Lord?!" One of his more courageous zealots stepped forward brandishing his wand threateningly in Wraith's direction.
Wraith pulled a face of alarm. "Dark Lord?!" he gasped in sudden terror and dropped to his knees pleading in supplication. "Oh no,.. please.. forgive this unworthy dog your almighty darkness? Allow me to wet myself in a show of good faith that you are truly gruesome."
Snorts and guffaws filled the Ballroom, oblivious to or in spite of the Dark Lord trembling in fury.
Puzzled.. the dark lord attempted to affirm his advantage. "Your precious Unspakables lie dead to a man in the entrance hall outside. You are alone, Wraith is it?" he mocked that last.
Harry shrugged indifferently, clarifying Voldemort's statement of previous as he did so. "We can always get knew dueling mannequins."
"Dueling mannequins?" a startled Death Eater asked in sudden trepidation.
"Uh-huh." Harry quipped. "We dressed em up like Unspeakables and you all took the bait like the eager idiots you are."
At that one such Unspeakable canceled the concealing glamour on one such and tossed the remains of a dueling mannequin, dressed in a tattered Unspeakable uniform-minus his masking cowl, at the Dark Lord's feet.
It was at that moment that Dozer and Stalker came swaggering in, catching a few startled looks from their fellows and a few snorts from others. Both headed straight for the bar and downed the first drink they got their hands on, completely oblivious to the unfolding drama they'd walked through in the process.
Stalker gargled the first gulp and spit it out, pulling a face of disgust. "I can't get the taste of giant out of my mouth for anything." he gripped.
Snorts and out right guffaws followed that, enraging the Dark Lord as was undoubtedly intended.
Voldemort's red eyes bulged in alarm. "Kill them al-urk!" the dark lord began to scream in command before he pitched to one side, a cutting hex gashing his shoulder-deeply by the look of it.
His subordinates fared far worse as they dropped to a man beneath a hail of wand fire from some hundred or more wands that were now leveled in his direction.
His eyes cast wildly about as he tried to come to grips with carnage sprawled around him as a last Death Eater struggled to rise before falling back to the tiled floor and shuddering his last before going still.
Wild eyes turned to madness as the Dark Lord arched back his shoulders and laughed long and hard.
Amelia Bones turned her head slightly toward a gapping Hermione Granger and intimated pointedly. "I believe you mentioned something about clinical insanity?"
She'd barely chuckled at her own jibe when the maniacal laughter abruptly ceased, catching them by surprise.
"Fools!" Voldemort cursed at the Unspeakables as all pretense fell. "You think me the fool and thereby prove yourselves all the more so. Do you honestly think I did not know this for the trap it is? Do you truly believe the greatest Dark Lord in history did not plan for such an eventuality? The giants were merely a diversion. No more than cannon fodder- a means to an end. Even now a horde of vampires, werewolves, night wisps and the like are laying siege to your precious Diagon Alley with orders to leave none alive! Even if you should manage to capture me...?", at this he laughed sardonically, "thereby saving you precious ministry, you will have lost in the end as you will have no one left to minister over- Ha-Ha-Ha!"
"Ha...Ha...Ha... to you too-git!" Wraith mimicked sarcastically from the stage catching the Dark Lord's immediate attention as his red eyes fixed ominously on the object of his ridicule.
"You will die this night." he threatened the gathering, his smoldering gaze drifting over them ominously.
"Perhaps?" Wraith smirked in return with a distinct air of incredulousness. "First let's see how things fair in Diagon Alley, shall we?"
A tap of his wand to the com link on his shirt's lapel activated his com-link and another tap magnified the volume for all to hear. Cho Chang's voice crackled audibly from the com center hook up.
"Com Center agent Night Wisp here-over."
Ron smirked at the irony whilst one such Unspeakable guffawed and actually dared to elbow Voldemort meaningfully as he pointed his thumb in the direction of Cho's voice.. "He-He.. Night Wisp- he-he, get it?"
The Dark Lord sneered in contempt and raised his wand to curse the man, before thinking better of it and lowering it back to his side after several dozen wands made their presence around him known by suddenly pointing at his head and chest.
Dozer just smirked mockingly at the simmering Dark Lord as he sipped the drink in his hand.
"Night Wisp, this is Wraith. How do things look in the Alley? Over."
A snort, that may have been just a crackle of static- but wasn't, answered.. "Several groups of vampires, werewolves and other dark creatures attempted to assault the Alley not twenty minutes ago-over"
"Diagon Alley was evacuated prior to-correct?"
"Affirmative" Cho acknowledged. "Once the creatures were fully invested in their attack, we raised the wards preventing escape and dispatched the Goblin warriors. A battalion of Gringott's elite made short work of the opposition. It's a bloody mess down there, literally so- over."
Voldemort's pale snake like face gapped stupidly.. "Impossible...?" he rasped in disbelief.
Wraith snapped his fingers.. "That reminds me-The wards?"
Voldemort growled in sudden understanding and his hand shot into his robes, undoubtedly to activate a port key on his person, only too late.
On Wraith's cue the anti-apparation and anti port key wards had immediately snapped into place over the whole of the Ministry, trapping everyone inside.
Hermione and company gasped as the tell tale prickling sensation of anti-appration wards went up, making their skin crawl as the inhibiting magic settled over them like an oily mist.
Voldemort's hand dropped to his side a small metal disk fell absently from his fingers.
"Not going anywhere for a while?" a smart aleck Unspeakable asked with a snort, offering the surprised Dark Lord a Snicker's candy bar.
Voldemort didn't get the joke, but it was obvious the Unspeakables did as they laughed fit to bust at their comrade's antics.
"You think you can mock me, scum?" Voldemort seethed in outrage. His wand flew up and the bright green of a killing curse flew from its end like a bolt of lightning.
Fast as he was, Wraith was a fraction faster as he hit the dark lord's dropped port key with a levitation charm.
With pin point timing the diskenlarged as it flew into the air and intercepted the killing curse before it traveled a scant meter.
The disk ripped to shreds and hot shrapnel splattered against hastily erected shields and walls with equal ineffectiveness.
"Ah-Ah-Ah,.. none of that now, snakey puss." Wraith goaded leaping down from the stage. "Your business is with me, unfinished business, that is."
Hermione shot Susan a look of alarmed disbelief that had Susan shrug offering simply. "Alright, so I was wrong-he's clinical."
"If your business is dying, then by all means...?" Voldemort goaded plying his fingers lovingly across his yew wand.
"You like your wand- yew with phoenix tail feather- isn't it? Mine's holly with phoenix tail feather- the same phoenix as yours- remember? You're the only one who's going to die her tonight-Tom."
Hermione gasped within Ron's trembling embrace. They dared not hope, but still..?
Troubled by this revelation only momentarily, Voldemort snorted incredulously: "You'll find that more difficult than you believe whelp...I'm immortal!" he bellowed playing his trump card, or so he thought
Wraith feigned a look of surprise, scoffing in return... "Really,.. given the definition of the word than apparently so am I."
"What madness is this?" Voldemort scoffed at the notion.
"I died and came back, at least I think I died, .. maybe twice even?" Wraith conjectured counting absently on his fingers whilst his fellows snickered at his antics.
Hermione though wasn't laughing,.. she was doing the math and looking somewhat more skeptically at their apparent host. "Yep, it was twice. It seems I'm fated to kick your arse."
His fellows laughed and jeered in anticipation of that.
"Don't be a fool!" Voldemort spat. "Only one is prophesized to have had the power to defeat me and he's long dead. Using a dead child's wand hardly makes you anymore of a threat." he sneered in contempt.
Both noted the party goers erecting shields and barriers around the Ballroom with disregard as neither had an illusions what was to come.
"Ah, yes... Harry Potter." Wraith acknowledged wistfully before he launching into a complete retelling of the famous prophesy between the two.
Voldemort gapped in consternation as the last words of the prophesy fell from a smirking Wraith's lips.
Hermione gasped in shock, many others echoing the same, except Amelia Bones, who if anything looked expectant, that and proud.
"What...but how could you...?" Voldemort struggled but was cut off...
"Er,.. I did mention fated- arse kicking, right?" he chuckled at his own joke this time before explaining.."Anyways, Dumbledore told me the contents the night after you failed to retrieve said prophesy. It was originally made to him so he had obvious knowledge of such." Wraith explained.
"No wonder then..Potter obviously killed himself rather than face the insurmountable task of trying to defeat me." Voldemort supposed, puffing himself up in false bravado.
"Sheesh... idolize yourself much?" Wraith sneered getting a laugh from his fellows. "There were many reasons I took my ill advised leap, the least of which was worrying over facing your sorry arse." he scoffed indignantly.
"I..?" Ron caught his admission, sharing troubled looks with the rest of his friends.
"You're not Potter, Potter's dead." Voldemort sneered in disdain.
"Oh, Tom... will you never learn?" Wraith shook his head wearily. "Didn't I mention I was immortal? Fated- arse kicking?..Any of this getting through?" he chided, with a roll of his eyes. "The wrapping may have changed, but I'm still me, much like yourself. Whilst I may have ended up scarred, at least I'm not ugly and scaly." he added under his breath getting guffaws from his comrades.
Voldemort's wand shot up and a telltale green colored curse began to form at the tip before Harry warned, admonishing a finger...
"None of that, the proprieties must be observed, Tom, remember.. from that night in the grave yard after your rebirth?"
Voldemort paused, his red eyes went wide in recollection.
"You tried to put me under the imperious, failing that you magically made me bow whilst your death beaters jeered around us. Brave lot that.. grown wizards picking on a fourteen year old."
"No... no it can't be...he must've told you? .. Someone.. must have told you what happened that night?" Voldemort grasped desperately for an explanation other than what the rising hackles on the back of his neck warned him what was right before his eyes.
Harry tapped his chin thoughtfully. "It's possible, I suppose, but could he have told me all in so short of time? Could he have told me how you demanded his mother step aside so that you could kill her only child, how she needn't be harmed? I'm guessing you had promised her as some sort of token to the greasy swine- Snape, as a reward for his jealous treachery. By the by... if you've mistakenly been entertaining me in your house of horrors these past many weeks that was Snape. He,.. ah sort of showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time, er.. so to speak." Harry shrugged in feigned regret with a smirk on his face.
Laughs and snorts filled the room around the two at that whilst those not in the know growled in disgust at Voldemort's cowardly actions the night he'd slain the Potters, shooting looks of utter contempt at the now trembling Dark Lord. Many more doubted that his trembling was in rage, rather than fear.
All bullies were inherently cowards beneath their blustering exterior.
Once the laughter died, he continued to conjecture. "Perhaps Potter told me how when you possessed him in the ministry lobby that you goaded Dumbledore, trying to get him to kill Potter in the false hope that he would destroy you as well? He may have told me that, but I doubt he would have mentioned how it was his profound loss over losing his Godfather that night' that it was that which ultimately drove you from his body."
Hermione gasped at that, her hand covering her mouth as her mind began to reel. She fell back into Ron's supporting arms, needing to feel his sheltering warmth more than ever. For the first time since that horrid night she began to consider things from a more pragmatic point of view... Could it be? Can he really be Harry?
Susan's eyes shifted to her friend and back toward the unfolding scene. She knew that look in Hermione's eyes and knew that the wheels were turning as Hermione was working her way through a problem that had thus far eluded her. She too felt the trepidation that she saw growing in Hermione's eyes which were now solely riveted on Wraith.
It couldn't be Harry, aunt Amy had said that he died? But Wraith just said that he'd died...?
Harry shrugged indifferently, no longer divulging past memories to try and validate his identity. "Bottom line.. It doesn't matter if you believe I am who I claim to be. All that matters is that we have unfinished business. For once in your miserable existence you're going to face someone alone on your own merits, not surrounded by your gang of bullies and zealots. For once you're going to face someone who doesn't tremble at the very mention of your made up anagram of a name; sorry I had to throw in that last tidbit of reminiscing from the Chamber of Secrets. You remember, dank, creepy place, big snake..?
Voldemort gapped at that... it couldn't be?
Ginny gasped, her hands brushing up and down her arms trying and failing to dispel the chill going down her spine.
"You're going to face someone who doesn't quake before your hideous countenance."
Snickers and snorts of agreement filled the Ballroom at that.
"I'll say, look at the puss on that wanker."
"Get a paper bag." one suggested and the room roared in laughter.
Voldemort screamed in rage and fired off a cruciatus at the nearest, still disguised Unspeakable. The curse was deflected, by hastily erected layers of shielding, and flew out one of the blown out windows.
A bellow of shock and pain shook the Ballroom and one Unspeakable glanced over the window ledge curiously.
"Hey, there's giant rolling around in the street out there that looks none too pleased."
Seething, Voldemort raised his wand again but was distracted, violently so, by the red streak of a torture curse hitting his flank.
Voldemort screamed and fell to the floor thrashing and jabbering as the curse ripped through his body clawing at his nerve endings.
Whistles, jeers and catcalls of appreciation filled the Ballroom as the infamous bully was now the bullied.
Harry stopped the curse too soon for their liking and many groaned in disappointment.
Voldemort managed to rock back onto all fours, gagging as he tried to catch his breath, a look anguish warring with that of deepest loathing.
"The Unspeakables and aurors were empowered to use the unforgivables, Tom,... weren't you updated by one of your informants? Nasty business that. It appears you don't much appreciate that curse anymore than your many victims did." Wraith surmised
Enraged, Voldemort unsteadily rose to his feet. He pointed his wand tip at Wraith and spat.."Now you will die."
"You first." Wraith smirked in return.
Without further ado, curse after curse flew from Riddle's wand. The cruciatus, the killing curse, one after the other in rapid succession.
Wraith dodged , deflected or shielded each with nearby debris making it look relatively easy. He served only to infuriate his opponent who cast faster and faster, putting more and more strength behind each curse as if that would do what la lack of skill and finesse could not. After a few tense moments that seemed like hours to some, the Dark Lord ceased his barrage with a frustrated scream of rage, shaking in fury and panting heavily from his exertion.
"Seriously?" Wraith goaded in disappointment. "That's it..The killing and torture curse? I was expecting something more grand not amateur hour. Sheesh,.. have you gotten jaded."
Voldemort sneered venomously at that. "If you think you can do better, than show me?" he challenged disdainfully.
Harry made a show of tapping his chin thoughtfully in contemplation. Finally he snapped his fingers in revelation, cracked his knuckles and twirled his wand at a dizzying speed to warm up...
Susan smiled at the image appreciatively. She loved the way he handled a wand.
Omigod...did I just think that? She slapped a hand over her face to hide her blushing.
"Allrighty then." Wraith's wand snapped forward and he levitated the hundreds of broken window shards up from the ground, flicked his wand a few more times and the shards transformed into tiny, crystallized insects; wasps and bees to be exact.
Tom Riddles eyes bugged out of his head when Harry launched the swarm of the crystallized bees and wasps his way.
He shrieked and swatted furiously as he danced about trying to escape the maddening bites and stings that were like a thousand miniature cutting hexes that never ended.
Finally he bellowed in rage and the air superheated around him as he blast the pseudo insects away with a gust of concentrated air that sent them careening out the broken window from which they originated.
"Shame that..?" Harry lamented as he watched the insects disappear into the night outside. "I must look into bee keeping as a hobby; dreadfully useful little blighters."
Unspeakables guffawed, jeered and cat called loudly in appreciation at that from behind their layered shielding.
Hermione snorted herself and turned her attention to a sniggering Susan. "Certifiable, but a great sense of humor."
Susan nodded as she whipped the tears of mirth from her eyes.
"You dare to mock me? I, the greatest sorcerer of the age!" Voldemort puffed himself up dramatically.
"Really,.. the greatest?!" Harry fawned wide eyed. "Could I get your autograph? It's not every day you meet the greatest self proclaimed "sorcerer of the age". He made quotation marks in the air leering comically at Voldemort.
"Arggg! " Voldemort screamed in rage and slashed his wand forward casting a giant serpent of intense flame, (fiend fyre by the look of it), that he hissed instructions to in parseltongue.
The serpent reared up and then shot toward Harry, it flaming jaws gapping wide expectantly.
"Tathhh-raaa!" Harry hissed for the snake to stop and it pulled up short in surprise, confused as what to do.
Wraith used the momentary diversion to summon the water from every pitcher scattered around the room. The water collasced in front of him transforming to a watery semblance of a famous magical beast. He blew out a cool breath and the water froze into the unmistakable shape of a griffon. A few more flicks of his wand in the span of mere heart beats and the Griffon came to life, casting a baleful glance toward it's impending foe.
It reared up on its hind legs and screeched a challenge from its icy beak, launching itself with claws extended toward the startled snake.
Flamed roared and icy wind chilled the bones as the two thrashed and tore at each other beneath the direction of their master's wands until nothing was left other than a few smoldering napkins amidst a puddle of water that covered half the floor between the two wizards.
Voldmeort gapped in stunned disbelief, not so much from what had happened but from what he'd gleaned. Only one person was prophesized to equal his power- only one.
"It can't be...it just can't be.. you're dead! Nothing could have survived a fall from that height, nothing?"
Harry smirked. "As usual, you're only half right, Tom."
"What's he talking about, Mione?" Ron questioned, he and many others were not cottoning on to what Voldemort was inferring. It was just too hard to believe even when the truth was right before your eyes all but screaming-Here I am!
"A parselmouth?... He's a parselmouth, Ron. The same as Voldemort... the same as... H-Harry..?" she gasped in dawning wonder.
Hermione's eyes went out of focus as she began to turn things over in her mind, scrutinizing the details over and again still not wholly believing the proof before her very eyes, or too afraid to dare hope what she allready believed on some level.
Her eyes shifted toward a clock on the wall, realizing they had been watching the room next door for over an hour; her face fell at that, knowing that polyjuice only lasted an hour and Wraith was still himself and definitiely not the image of one-Harry Potter. But still, what were the odds of someone knowing the things Wraith did, things that Harry had never divulged not even to her and Ron, that and being a parselmouth too?
If Wraith had hoped to provoke a reaction he was not to be disappointed as the Dark Lord began firing off spells and curses so fast that the eye could barely discern the individual identifying colors of each curse. Wraith leapt upward doing a back flip in the air whilst the spell fire passed harmlessly underneath, shattering the stage to barely more than kindling. He continued to deflect and dodge spell fire, never wasting the time and energy to conjure shields, but instead returned curses with equal fervor. Some of the curses intersected incoming ones from the dark lord, deflecting them back on their originator, others changed and twisted into deadly variants that he deflected off the shielding in the room, sending them careening back in the direction of his foe. The aiming was rough at best, but the sheer volume and the mutation of the original spells forced Voldemort to shield and dodge curses, something that he was sorely out of practice in.
Long years of helpless and terrified victims had jaded him into little more than a play ground bully having to do little more than throw a curse or two to receive the satisfaction he desired; that being a victim easily overcome.
Despite that; he was a powerful wizard with advanced knowledge of spell craft and tactics, but for all that, his foe was by no means a slouch.
Equaling him in power, but lacking in advanced knowledge to the same degree, what Wraith lacked in knowledge and experience, he made up for in having trained to razor sharp reflexes and accuracy, not to mention he was a natural warrior who rose to new heights in battle.
A blast of night black eldritch fire erupted from Voldemort's wand, its master growling in triumph as the spell spread into dozens of tiny cinders that propelled like rockets toward his opponent. The cinders hissed and spit eating into anything they contacted like drops of acid, eating their way through the solid matter, (that Wraith summoned to intersect the deadly missiles), like a hot knife through butter.
If a fit of desperate inspiration;Wraith conjured a metallic shield that he slanted up and away from himself. The cinders hit like water drops from a fire hose, the majority of which shot up into one of the enormous chandeliers overhead. They ricocheted off the many prisms, building in speed and launching in all directions forcing both men to run and doge for their lives; Wraith with his shield held overhead like a protective umbrella, Riddle twisting and flailing about and shrieking like some mad marionette.
When the last of the acidic missiles splattered against the floor and burnt right down through the marble tile; the two combatants paused to gather themselves. Voldemort was cursing and tearing away smoldering bits of robe to try and avoid further injury whilst Wraith chuckled at his foe's misery.
His eyes strayed toward the tinkling chandelier overhead and, taking a leaf from Voldemort's page, cast a quick transfiguration spell that transformed the glass prisms of the chandelier into a titanic crystalline cobra.
A quick command in parselmouth with a locking code word had the giant reptile gliding across the floor ominously toward a preoccupied Voldemort.
The cobra reared up and enormous glistening fangs of razor sharp glass lanced downward and ripped a gash across Voldemort's right shoulder. The Dark Lord screamed and twisted away gibbering new commands in parselmouth as he backed away favoring his wounded shoulder. Too late, he realized his mistake in that the cobra would obey only one master. The snake spite venom that came as a spray of glass slivers that tore and gouged cruelly into the Dark Lord's face and shielding hands as he threw himself to the side and cast a reducto curse with power born of desperation.
The curse struck and tore the giant cobra in half, but rather than fall to pieces, Wraith was a step ahead with some quick transfiguration and charm work that had Susan awed.
The two halves each transformed into smaller representations of the original. Now two large cobras came slithering Voldemort's way from two opposing directions.
Voldemort fired reductor after reductor, blowing the writhing terrors into smaller and smaller pieces only serving to create smaller and smaller versions of the once whole that came relentlessly onward until he was faced with the prospect of fighting off literally dozens of common sized snakes made of pure glass all promising to cut him to ribbons when they arrived.
At seeing his opponents triumphant smirk the Dark Lord growled his contempt and disappeared from view.
"What, but how could he apparate with all those wards in place?' Ron gasped in disbelief, realizing too late what was transpiring.
Hermione knew, she had seen this before and a mournful whimper breeched her lips in dread of what was coming. Her fingernails dug cruelly into Ron's arms as she shuddered in dread memory of what was coming.
She couldn't belive that Wraith looked expectant, if anything triumphant, before he grunted in pain and clamped his hands to either side of his head as if trying to keep it from exploding.
"Y-You are mine... this body is.. mine..."he struggled in a voice not his own, his blue eyes turning ominous red at their cores.
Voldemort had possessed his body as he done so many years before in the ministry lobby when he was a hapless fifth year teenager in his original body.
The faintest of smiles curved at the edges of Wraith's mouth as it fought and failed not to groan in pain from the onslaught. Despite the agony his feet slowly, inexorably carried him in the direction of the blown out window.
"What is he...No!" Susan barked in alarm as her friend's intentions became clear. Not this,...not again..?.
"You... are... mine." Wraith reiterated in Voldemort's demanding voice.
Impossibly another voice answered the challenge only it wasn't Wraith's, but another's. One not heard for several years and then only as a teenager's. Now the voice of a man long thought dead as a child, came through laced with undying vengeance.
"YOU-ARE-MINE!" Harry Potter's voice thundered from Wraith's throat. "Our past-our future-mine! Neither can live whilst the other survives...Neither-Can-Live-Whilst-The-Other-Survi ves!" He chanted that phrase from the prophesy like a mantra as his feet dragged his barely controlled body toward the beckoning hole where the window once was, high above the unforgiving streets below.
"No...no...noooo!" Voldemort's desperate voice bled through as he tried to halt the body's progress or turn it away managing only the slightest of pauses as the body trudged onward relentlessly towards its eventual doom.
Red eyes began to flicker and dim as a hint of another grew from its depths until his eyes glowed emerald green fire.
"Here is the power you know not ,Tom. Here is what you fear and despise above all else; The power of death. " Harry growled out as his hands gripped the broken frames, preparing to jump to certain doom.
"Now you will know what it is to die as you should have done, and deservedly so, many times over. You will know what it is to lie broken and unable to scream as you throat fills with your life's blood. You will know the terror as the world dims before your frozen eyes and the darkness closes in, crushing you in its eternal grasp. You will know the frustration of rising up only to look down as what was once- yourself, knowing that all you had been and hoped to be is forever beyond your grasp.
You will know what it is to despair!" Harry bellowed as his legs coiled and he leapt out into the night air oblivious to the screams and shouts of alarm around him from his terrified comrades.
"Noooo!" Susan wailed in terror, throwing herself bodily against the wall, clawing desperate to get through and prevent what was to come. Her own memories clawed and tore at her heart as she realized she was now hearing what it was like for Harry when he died.
And it was Harry, impossible as that was to believe, she knew finally after seeing and hearing with her own eyes and ears what her heart already knew to be so.
Harry Potter was alive. That, and he had just killed himself to protect them all by taking Voldemort with him.
Amelia wanted to console her niece, she wanted to gather her up in her arms, as she had done countless of times over the years, and reassure her that everything was going to be all right,.. but it wasn't.
All that she had fleetingly dreamed had come to a fatal end and she was powerless to avert the coming tragedy.
Harry Potter knew what Voldemort feared and he used it against him: death.
Tom Riddle was seeing his end coming through Harry's unyielding eyes and he couldn't, wouldn't face it.
"NOOOO!" Voldemort's desperate shriek of denial tore from Wraith's throat as he released his hold and fled before the unforgiving street ended his mad dreams of immortality.
Wraith transformed, not an instant too soon, into his animagus of an owl. Wings pumped madly to stall their descent, tail feathers brushing the gound as he pulled out of the fall and winged it back to into the ballroom, sharp eyes searching for it's fleeing prey.
Green luminescent eyes scanned the ballroom from the feathered head. He transformed, in mid flight, stepping smoothly forward as his former self only now with still glowing green eyes that had others gasping in relief at his survival, and some pointing in abject wonder at the change.
His wand shot into his hand just as an oily puddle on the floor rose up into the black cloaked dark lord.
Red sulphuric eyes met emerald fire and the two wands fires simultaneously, the spells of each colliding midair and locking in a beam of eldritch power that was glowing so bright that many turned away lest the burned out their retinas. Others couldn't help but watch, mesmerized by the spectacle as each sorcerer poured more and more of their ambient magic into the beam.
Each tried to force their spell through to the other's end. Back and forth the bead locking the two beams together traveled; first being pushed toward one then toward the other, neither holding sway over the other for more than a few breaths that seemed an eternity to the caster. Bolts of magical discharge ripped away from the whole and tore great gouges in the walls and floor as plaster rained down from the ceiling overhead. The two stood oblivious, locked in a death match, each trying to overpower the other by sheer force of will.
Their auras began to glow visibly around their bodies. Voldemort's a dark purple with specks of black. Wraith's a dazzling silver flecked with golden sparks only it didn't so much as seem to surround his body as it did infuse it.
His whole body began to glow, pulsating with every beat of his heart up from the center of his body and spreading outward. His facial features began to slowly transform as each pulse made the slightest alteration. His hair grew dark as a raven's wing and for those that could see, from their particular vantage point, a lightning bolt scar raised up ominously on his right forehead.
Voldemort's red eyes grew wide in terror as the man before him transformed into the likeness of his once most hated adversary. With growing fear, his concentration waned and the bead of eldritch light was forced back into his wand, which erupted from the pressure.
Wood splinters tore through the Dark Lord's hand shredding the skin and ripping apart the bones like a bomb blast.
Within moments, the once most feared and reviled man of the face of the planet was reduced to a mewling coward that cradled the sad remains of his wand hand trying and failing not to cry openly in anguish.
Reluctantly, Wraith's wand dropped piteously from his hand. In that moment Voldemort snarled predatorily and his left hand tore a wand from its sheath hidden beneath his tattered right sleeve.
The wand came to bear at point blank range a green light of the death curse glowing at its tip when Harry Potter's hands came up in defense and emerald green fire shot out and enveloped the Dark Lord.
Tom Riddle writhed and screamed as if on fire only no skin blistered and cracked beneath the emerald flames.
Instead, the red glow diminished from his eyes until it winked out of existence and black, fear filled, black eyes stared back. The snake like repitian features deminished until the semblance of a once handsome, albeit time ravished, broken man
The Dark Lord fell to his knees as the fire surrounding him smoldered and died. His head tipped up, whether to threaten impotently or to beg mercy, the audience would never know as a booted foot caught him beneath the chin and sent him sprawling backward.
He rolled himself over onto all fours, his mouth dribbling blood and his jaw lolling brokenly.
He'd barely sucked in a painful breath when a booted toe caught his flank and sent him rolling away.
"Anyone got a cricket bat, I want to test a theory." Harry called out referencing their previous briefing for this battle.
The shocked audience around him began to slowly chuckle in relief until all out guffaws filled the hall.
With a scream of rage at being mocked, the Dark Lord found the strength born of rage and surged to his feet. He twisted around and hadn't taken more than a half step when the toe of Wraith's boot caught him between the legs and lifted him clean off the floor.
"Unghh!" he groaned landing on his arse, wide eyed in surprise, but otherwise seemingly unharmed.
"What the...?" Wraith whispered in disbelief before kicking him even more forcefully between his legs from where he sat. Tom Riddle slid across the floor several feet with a grunt, before coming to a stop and again, struggling to rise.
"So that's the price of immortality, huh?" Wraith quipped with a dramatic shudder before calling out. "Hey guys,.. this plonker doesn't have any nuts?!"
Many shuddered in dread at that, but most erupted in side splitting laughter that had Voldemort snarling in rage despite his many hurts. He'd barely made it into a crouch before Harry's knee slammed into the spot where the bridge of his nose, sending him over in a somersault and landing on his chest, knocking the air from his lungs.
He managed to suck in a strangled lungful of air before it was knocked out again by a crushing blow to his ribs. He rolled side to side lurching up onto all fours and retching out his last meal, choking on the dregs of which when another sharp kick to his flank knocked him back down.
"Ughh, ackkk, gaaaa.." he wheezed and groaned.
"Urggg!" he screamed as the knee of his right leg was forced in the opposite direction, tearing the ligaments and dislocating it.
"Gaaa!" he cried out as his left arm broke in two from a quick twist of the wrist and a strike to the back of the locked elbow.
"Ahhhh!" his right ankle snapped in two as Wraith twisted the foot counterclockwise until it snapped.
"That was for Luna, you retched swine. She showed a hundred times more courage in death than you show in mere pain. " he prompted, looking down at the thing that once sent people scurrying in fear at the mere mention of its name.
Hermione cried silently into her hands. She understood now. It had seemed so ominously vague at the time, but now she understood: Luna had known. She had known and she had wanted the world to know, having left a clue to Harry's continued existence.
Death shall have no dominion over the stout hearted.
It was so vague, so misleading and so-Luna. She had given the world all it needed to know in that one simple, enlightening phrase. She had left behind a message of hope.
Harry was alive. He was alive and fighting the good fight. He was watching over and protecting them as he had always done.
Even death could not stay his vengeance and he was claiming it now.
Voldemort flailed and writhed on the blood stained marble as he gagged and whimpered in misery.
When his screeching subsided to mere piteous mewling, Wraith prompted. "My mother begged for her son's life, you cry for your own. Yet, you called her a mudblood, the lowest of the low to your way of thinking. If she was that than what are you? Not a pure blood as you wrongfully claimed, not even a man as the eye can clearly see. Then what... beneath contempt?" he questioned, not really expecting an answer, though answering himself off handily. "Certainly that- contemptible. I suppose I should feel relief, joy even, at the victory I stand over, but all I really feel just now is disgust. That and lost. No family, no more of a future than what you now have. Yours at least will be a quick demise, should you wish it?"
"With that, he pulled his holy wand from his waist band and shoved the tip of it between the dark lord's teeth instructing him to...
"I offer you a quick death that you do not deserve. Redeem yourself." With that he turned away, not even deigning to show his foe the respect of witnessing his demise.
Shields were dispelled and wreckage shifted aside as the Unspeakables came forward to bear witness to their hard won labor's end.
Despairing black eyes nearly uttered the curse that would end the pain, but the fear of oblivion was too intense to be ignored, that and the feral need for revenge, however undeserved.
The ruins of a hand flailed at and finally grasped the wand, pulling it down. The arm wavered and the blood stained lips parted to curse their last.
"Look out!" someone cried out from behind, though they needn't have bothered.
Harry knew that Tom was too much of a coward to even end his own suffering. He clapped his hands together and his holly wand erupted like a bomb tearing the once dark lord's body to so many glistening chunks of lifeless meat.
Blood and gristle splattered across scarred walls and broken tiles. No screams of terror or cheers of relief heralded his end, just carnage.
Another play ground bully reduced to no more than a stain of remembrance.
This is now...
Dozer stared for long moments at his younger friend, struggling to wrap his mind around the fact that he was willing to sacrifice himself, not so much for the rest of them, but just for the simple desire for vengeance's sake.
He understood the concept, the need even for revenge. All the Unspeakables understood this better than most, but to actually throw your life away on it was another matter.
What mattered vengeance if one didn't survive to relish it?
As if reading his friend's mind he reassured him that... "I don't want to die and certainly Voldie didn't either, but he wasn't to know that. The anguish of love's loss is what drove him out the first time he possessed me, but I'm afraid that I don't have much of that to draw on these days so I went with plan B. If there's one thing that terrifies Voldemort it's death. I knew he run with his tail tucked between his legs, rather than risk dying, but if not that than yeah, I would have taken him with me if it had been the only way. He knew it, he believed it and he left- end of story."
Dozer shuddered slightly at that, worrying his hand down his face in resignation before nodding his reluctant acceptance of his friend's stance.
Stalked stepped up stoically and clamped a hand supportively on Dozer's shoulder nodding his chin in Wraith's direction in silent plea to let it go.
Dozer nodded with a wan smile, though his eyes remained saddened by the knowledge.
Harry was shifting aside some gore with the toe of his torn boot as he continued his search.
"Jees, kid... let it go already." Raven said, the poly juice having run its course and he looking comical, standing bare-chested in a strapless evening gown.
"When I want your opinion-lady, I'll ask for it." Harry grumbled sarcastically, getting chuckles from his fellow Unspeakables, relieving a great deal of tension in the process.
Once the laughter faded and Harry's blood stained hands continued to shift through the gory remains of Voldemort. Cam added bracingly in promise, "We'll get you a new medal, Harry." Hoping his young friend would stop his macabre searching that was unsettling the rest of them.
"I want this one." He mumbled, continue his chilling work.
"Why?" Cam prompted.
"Because it's mine!" Harry snapped back irately, never taking his eyes away from his searching.
"I earned it and I want it. The bastard took everything else away from me, even my Holly and Phoenix feather wand's gone. He's not taking not one more damn thing! My parents are gone, my god father...my friends all think I'm dead and have moved on... everything's gone.. everything, but the memories. Every time I close my eyes I see what they did to Luna. I don't dream, I only nightmare. I hear my mum's voice pleading for the monster not to kill her only child. I see Susan's eyes turn cold and ask me what good am I if I couldn't even save her friend."
He continued to rant, not registering the mournful gasp from behind at hearing his last admonishment, though the eyes of a few of his Unspeakable friends and comrades turned to painfully acknowledge Minister Bone's and more pointedly; Susan Bone's arrival. Silently they pleaded her understanding.
This was the melt down they had all been expecting that hadn't come after his captivity. That coupled with the fact that he was free now and part of that was more terrifying then anything he had faced before.
Add to that the grisly reminder of the price he'd paid...
"It's not much but it's something. It's more than just a reminder of what they did to me when they.. when they..."
His green eyes went out of focus and he began to hyperventilate.
"H-Harry..?" Cho Chang gasped out, having just arrived on the scene. She couldn't hardly believe what she was seeing in a wounded, green eyed, black haired and now-mature Harry Potter; complete with lightning bolt scar, he was kneeling in blood and gore, his hands caked with it as he half mumbled/ half shouted at the injustice of his life up until now. She took a hesitant step forward, but was caught up by Dragon,( who had morphed back from the double of Amelia Bones,) who shook his head in the negative, knowing that Harry needed to free himself. That and he shifted his eyes meaningfully toward another behind Harry that was bearing anguished witness to his laments.
"..when they... when they.. Oh, God!" Harry screamed in torment before folding in on himself and breaking down in wracking sobs of utter anguish. His blood soaked hands clamped around his head trying in futile to push the pain away.
Susan Bones bolted forward from where she had fidgeted behind, silently crying herself for all he had suffered and continued to agonize over even now on the precipice of victory. Without the slightest hesitation she kneeled down and pulled his shattered form into her arms holding him as he sobbed inconsolably, clutching to her as if she'd fade away to nothingness if he ever let go.
She shushed him cooing gently reassurances as she rocked him in her arms. Others drifted closer offering whispered support as his cries eventually faded and he slumped into unconsciousness. His wounds coupled with physical and emotional exhaustion finally taking its toll and dragging him under into sheltering darkness to heal.
Other hands reached out to reassure them that he was real, first among those was Hermione's. She gentled his raven bangs aside and haltingly ran trembling fingers over his lightning bolt scar, the angry red of which was cooling and fading to pink beneath her searching fingers. Silently she said a prayer for both him and Luna as she gentled her hand lovingly over his brow. She wished she had had Luna's insight and conviction.
Ron's hand clutched her other in an iron grip as he watched from over her shoulder.
"It's really him, Mione." he whispered in abject wonder.
Hermione caught Susan's worried eyes from the other side of Harry's prone form seeking confirmation, though Susan was as shocked and bewildered as the rest. There were so many questions to ask that neither had a clue where to begin.
Ginny was sobbing into Neville's shoulder from behind Susan. Neville stared down in abject disbelief at what he was seeing with Ginny chancing a look whenever she was able to begin to compose herself every now again. Both looked as if seeing a ghost that they expected to disappear at any moment as if he'd never been here in the first place.
Perhaps he really was a Wraith.