Author's Note: I have decided to go back and do a little bit of a rewrite of By Deaths To Die after a good reviewer, Quantumphysica, brought it back into my attentions. I'll be adding and taking out a few things, Beta'ing and changing things so that I hope to bring this story back up to my usual standards. The original was written when I was in high school so this rewrite will essentially be the "grown up" version. I'll be aiming to make it quite a bit creepier too. ;) Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own a sugar glider, a dog and a laptop. That is all.
Chapter One...Til Death Do We Part
The water passing by the boat was black as ink, so dark and opaque that he could see the headmaster's reflection clearly where he stood next to him. The only breaks in the dark depths were the Inferi. The corpses were still at the moment, floating like demented fish beneath the surface of the water. The tension that practically vibrated down his spine was nearly unbearable. The dark of the cave was only relieved by the soft low of their Lumos'. Harry wasn't sure it made him feel any better. What he could see was almost worst than not knowing what was actually lying beneath. What made the fear even more palpable was the knowledge that the stillness of the dead was only a temporary state. He had no doubt that once they got too close to the soul fragment's vessel, they would not be as willing to remain still. Not yet, though. It was smooth sailing thus far, the water's surface as smooth as glass and silent. Just himself, Dumbledore, the dead and the darkness.
Harry noted, not for the first time, that the Headmaster's eyes were on him with a calculating gaze. He was no stranger to the manipulations of Albus Dumbledore. He saw more than everyone expected he did. Dumbledore was waiting for the perfect moment but for what, Harry couldn't guess. He was missing too many pieces to the larger puzzle. Too many missing information to even venture a guess, so he waited and watched, hoping the Headmaster's plans would be revealed in their own time. The boat met the frigid stone of the center island with a bump that jarred him almost violently from his musings. Dumbledore stayed in the boat while his student crept unsteadily onto the stone. The Horcrux sat on a pedestal a mere two feet away but even at that distance, Harry could feel the pull it had on him. It felt as though a strand was connecting his scar to the smooth, golden locket, the strand pulling him towards it more and more every moment. He spared a glance back at the still waters all around them nervously. There wasn't any illusion in his mind about what could very well occur the moment he touched that necklace. Nonetheless, he grabbed the thing quickly and scrambled back into the rickety vessel. The metal was cold beneath his fingers but if he closed his eyes and focused, Harry could almost imagine he felt a pulse, like a heartbeat within the Horcrux.
Dumbledore made no move to take the locket when it was timidly offered to him. Instead he turned around, staring back out towards the far shore, a strange, hazy smile on his face.
"I believe it is safest with you, my boy. We don't yet know the effect it could have and your mother's sacrifice will protect you. Best to put it on so it isn't lost, though. If it falls into the water, there will be no retrieving it." The Headmaster said with an odd sort of solemn contemplation.
Without warning, the first shudder wracked the boat, nearly sending them both into the dark depths. The thing almost tipped when something else, something with weight and strength to it, rammed against the wood. Harry didn't want to look. He wanted to stare ahead and pretend that they weren't surrounded by monsters on all sides, probably the frozen bodies of people who had stood against the Dark Lord just as they did. That he wasn't standing there with a man he didn't trust in the slightest. Alas, he forced his eyes onto the depths and felt his stomach go cold and spasm. A pair of milky, dead eyes stared up at him from just below the surface, set in a face that was half rotted away by water and trauma. The Inferi looked like something had taken a bite out of it at some point. Something with a very human sized mouth.
"Sit down, Harry. We suddenly have the need to speed up our journey considerably." Dumbledore ordered and lifted his wand.
He didn't need a teacher to tell him to obey and to obey quickly. He was likely to have nightmares of being thrown from this damned boat for months. The vessel gave a lurch before it shot across the water, making a large wake as it went. The boat rammed the bodies of the Inferi every few seconds like a sick wrecking ball with a sickening thud that forced Harry to lose his dinner in the bottom of the boat. Waves crashed against the boat, splashing fifty years of stagnant, dead water over his half freezing form. He was so frigid that he nearly didn't feel the stone cold hand reach out of the darkness and seize his wrist until it was too late. A cry of fear bubbled out of his throat, unchecked and broiling with terror. His scream echoed in the cavernous chamber as if a bouncy ball were set loose in a mausoleum. He jerked away and clawed at the hand, his blunt fingernails leaving gouges in the stiff, bloated flesh but to no avail. The longer he struggled, the more of the creature that had him in it's hold was revealed from the water, using Harry's own struggles to pull itself free from the water.
Terror seized him in it's icy grip, completely and utterly and he turned to his professor for help. Dumbledore was just watching him be pulled closer to the edge though. He just watched as this monster, this creature, dragged him ever closer to a cold death. His eyes, however, it was Dumbledore's eyes that gave his intentions away. In a moment, those electric blue eyes were as dark, cavernous and empty as the watery tomb they struggled through. Pleasure peeked through those orbs just as surely as the Inferi now moved to the surface, as if the man were happy for a job well done. The sight brought bile up Harry's throat and this time, he fought the urge to vomit once more. He wasn't sure which was the bigger monster anymore, the Inferi or the man responsible for his life, and possible death. Desperation gnawed at his insides like a dog worried a carcass. He didn't want to die! He didn't want to be torn apart for scraps! He was only fifteen, there was so much he hadn't done!
The boat crashed against the unforgiving shore at last, shattering the wood into a thousand tiny, useless pieces and the two humans were thorwn violently from the boat. Dumbledore was quick to scramble to his feet. His pupil, however, was no so fortunate. Harry could feel so much at once. The crash of his body hitting rock and dirt, the crunch of his glasses between the ground and his face, the glass that embedded itself around his eyes and wood, like shrapnel, piercing the front of his legs. His scream of pain was cut short by another shriek of horror as he felt the hold on his wrist remaining and now, another set grabbing hold of his ankles. His terror was a white hot poker in his brain, his struggles resuming as the Inferi began to climb over him. All the while, Dumbledore watched from a safe distance with those same empty eyes. Harry reached out for his teacher but only recieved a satisfied smirk for his efforts. The wall grated open to allow the professor out.
"This is the end, I'm afraid. I can get rid of two of Tom's devilish fragments tonight. The locket and the one inside of you. Normally, I wouldn't leave such a thing to chance but I think being eaten should destroy every bit of you just fine. Ta ta, my boy." Dumbledore crooned and the wall slid shut behind him, trapping Harry in for good.
The darkness was suddenly pitch and absolute and his screams were jarring in the enclosed space. His horror fueled brain finally registered the swift agony as a human mouth clamped down on his neck. This was it then...He was going to be eaten, pieces of his rotting corpse scattered around the bay for the dead to feast on at their leisure. But no...No other teeth set into his trembling flesh, no other Inferi sought to taste him. Just the one, the same one that had held it's grip on his wrist the whole journey across the lake. The monster didn't even take any of his flesh, just merely set his teeth deep into the skin almost like a love bite. Except love bites didn't bleed out nor did they feel cold, like ice had set in the wound. Harry found himself paralized in his fear, unable to move as his vision began to fog. Were they merely saving him for later, like some sort of terrible take out? Whatever the reason, he felt himself being dragged slowly into the water, the cold of the waves seeping in to steal the last of his body heat quickly. His head was under before he registered the need for air. He wasn't being eaten, he was being drowned. His chest because to sear with the need and as his body finally gave in to the reflex, he breathed in a lungful of black water. It was painful, the burning need for air never leaving but instead replaced with the ice cold, heavy feeling permeating his chest cavity. His lungs gave a series of painful twitches before they succumbed at last to the demand of the depths. Awareness left him as his brain died and he sank beneath the waves, the Horcrux around his neck beating a pulse against his skin.
A/N: Here it is then, just over 900 words longer than the original first chapter. Enjoy and review!