As Harry rode Kahlan (the bike, not the lady), through the night sky, descending down towards the familiar, if menacing, shadowed Forbidden Forest, Ginny clung to him from behind, her arms wrapped around his body. As he glanced back at his helmetless passenger with her flaming red hair soaring out behind her, her couldn't help but let a small smile break through the stony sadness that had possessed most of the ride back from Malfoy Manor.
He was alive.
Ginny was alive.
For now, that was enough to keep Harry going.
The bike roared towards the ground, blending in with the dark shadowed forest, with only the acidic green details that Sirius had reapplied after much persuasion from Harry standing out amongst the bike's smooth, ink like blackness. With a few rough bounces, the bike skidded to a stop, the wheels tearing up the grass and digging into the soil beneath. Harry brought the bike to a stop, turned off the ignition and deftly hopped off in a well practiced manoeuvre. His legs still buckled slightly from the long flight back however.
Turning around, he wrapped his arms around the petite redhead, still on the bike, and lifted her up into the air, off the bike. She giggled in response, her chocolate brown eyes that he loved so much lighting up in momentary joy. In the faint moonlight illuminating them, her eyes reminded Harry of the first time they had ever met, as they flashed and swirled with a life of their own.
Harry swung her around in a circle once, secretly pleased to be able to show off his well muscled body as Ginny's hands grasped at his firm biceps. He let his eyes roam over the spattering of freckles that painted her face, running just over the bridge of her nose and reaching out to her cheeks. As she smiled her face lit up, and to Harry, she was breathtaking.
They were still wearing there half-assed Malfoy family disguises from the night before, and now that they were safe and on Hogwarts grounds, they quickly stripped out of the clothes, and changed into fresh clothes they had brought in a moleskin backpack.
Harry made sure to turn away while Ginny changed, and like the gentleman he was, refused to even have one quick peek at her naked body-
"Hey I saw that, no peeking!" Ginny complained.
Well, he tried.
"Do you like the look of me with less clothes on," Ginny murmured, her voice suddenly very close. Harry gulped, and very slowly turned around.
"Tricked ya!" Ginny cried triumphantly, fully dressed in her usual outfit of well fitting jeans that showed off her firm, yet thin legs, and a cream tank top that wrapped around her body snuggly, but was loose enough to allow the flowing material to shiver as she ran around Harry.
"It's cold though," Ginny commented, rubbing her bare arms.
Harry agreed. It was about three in the morning after all. Even more so, although he was dressed in his usual gear of slightly grease smeared jeans and white, tight fitting shirt, he was missing his beloved leather jacket that had been destroyed months ago.
Fortunately, Harry knew a few party tricks these days.
He withdrew his redwood wand, and with a furrow of his brow and concentration, three orbs of blue firelight dripped out of the tip of his wand. They passed through his hand harmlessly, but he felt the warmth of the flame heat his shivering body. Ginny stepped closer towards him, seeking the warmth of the fire.
"I knew you were going to be useful for something," Ginny commented as the couple began to walk the motorcycle behind Hagrid's hut.
Harry just smirked and wrapped an arm around her small waist, and pulled her closer towards him.
Their moment of peace was destined to be interrupted however. Mere minutes once they had entered the castle hall Ryan Potter was sprinting towards them, robes torn and frayed, an old worn out parchment in his hand and his black hair more of a mess than usual.
"Finally, Harry, where have you been?" Ryan asked breathlessly.
"Nevermind," Ryan cut in when Harry began to formulate a response, "We don't have much time. You need to come with me."
"Wait, what's going on?" Harry asked, not moving. Ryan grabbed Harry's wrist in an ironclad grip and begun tugging him away from Ginny and up the nearby stairs. Despite Ryan having less muscle bulk on him, Harry was unable to hold his ground.
"You need to go see Dumbledore, he asked for you-"
"Aw hell no," Harry snapped, finally breaking his arm out of Ryan's grip. "I went through hell tonight and the last person I want to see before going to bed is that evil old man-"
"Shut up!" Ryan roared, his voice amplified by the silence of Hogwarts' halls at night. Harry blinked and was stunned by the sudden outrage from Ryan. Sure, he had a temper sometimes, but this was something else.
"What's all this here racket, eh, Mrs. Norris," Filch turned the corner and saw the three teens out of bed, out of hours, and he smiled happily, his crooked teeth curving upwards into a grimace. "You'll be coming with me, you three. Detention for the lot of-"
Ryan didn't even flinch as he watched the caretaker collapse to the ground in a slump, his thick overcoat billowing over his limp body. Harry and Ginny just watched, their eyes and mouth open and shocked.
"We need to go, there's no time left," Ryan said again, and this time, Harry felt compelled to follow. He glanced behind him, and saw Ginny was also following, although she looked quite nervous about the whole situation.
Ryan took off in a run, leaping over the body of Filch. Harry did the same, ignoring the hissing of Mrs. Norris as she slunk into the shadows nearby, her yellow eyes were narrow slits as she watched them leave her master helpless.
A minute of sprinting later, the three students had arrived at the entrance ot the headmasters office. Ryan slipped past the gargoyle as it slowly opened it's stone doors and leapt up the stairs three at a time.
"He's here professor, I finally found Harry," Ryan cried as he reached the top, Harry still trailing several meters behind.
"Excellent work, I knew you would be able to Ryan." The voice was rasping, and there were awkward pauses punctuated throughout, as if the man was struggling to speak. As Harry finally ascended the stairs, what he saw astounded him.
Albus Dumbledore, the man who had caused so much pain, separation and loneliness for Harry and many others that he cared about, lay on his large, circular purple king bed, decorated with regal gold and purple inlays and large billowing curtains that were drawn back, allowing Harry to see the old man.
He was on the verge of death.
His right leg had been twisted so many times that it now resembled a scrunched up rubber band. The man had his robe pulled down to his waist, and his once powerful chest looked like it was collapsing in on itself. Old scars mangled with fresh black oozing, blood flowing tears in his abdomen. Most horrifying of all were his eyes. Gone was the ever-present, all-knowing, sparkling blue eyes that had irritated Harry so much. Now there was simply inky darkness that engulfed the whole eyeball.
"Harry," the dying man rasped, "Come closer, let me see you." Harry unconsciously took slow steps forwards towards Dumbledore.
"Can… you see me?" Harry asked slowly, his voice soft. Dumbledore chuckled once, which caused black oil like substance to erupt out of his mouth. He wiped it away quickly, staining his magnificent bed with black smears.
"No, not in the conventional sense Harry. I am powerful to be able to sense magic in the air, but alas, I find that as I grow more tired, my reach is steadily declining."
Harry noticed that there was a chair beside the bed. He presumed that Ryan had been sitting there earlier. Harry sat down, so he was close enough to talk to the old man, without him having to strain his voice so hard.
"What… happened?" Harry asked tentatively.
"I may have somewhat underestimated Tom Riddle," the headmaster admitted, coughing softly. "I have but minutes to live Harry, I need you to listen to me."
"The only way to defeat Tom Riddle is to make the prophecy come true," Albus paused as he sensed Harry flinching. "Yes, you know the prophecy I am talking of."
"When the dark lord falls to the hands of a child,
His soul will be shattered, his soul will be scattered,
He'll be truly alive, but not truly living,
As neither can live, while the other survives.
The child of Potter, pure of heart and blood,
Shall be sacrificed on a fateful night,
And only then shall the Dark Lord be living,
And only then, can he be defeated."
Harry finished reciting the prophecy as he had heard from Sirius, and watched as Albus gave a small nod of his head in affirmation.
"The first half of the prophecy was fulfilled sixteen years ago, when your brother reflected the killing curse back at Tom Riddle," Albus explained. "The second half has yet to occur. You, Harry, are the child of Potter, pure of heart and blood. Tom has tainted Ryan's blood, so it cannot be him. You are the wizarding world's final hope"
Albus had found the strength to lift an arm and grab Harry's wrist. Long, slender fingers grasped weakly at Harry.
"So you're saying, that I need to let myself be killed by Voldemort, so that he's then able to be killed by someone else?" Harry asked bitterly.
"I'm sorry Harry, but that is the only way," Albus said sadly.
"No!" Ginny cried, jerking Harry out of his thoughts. He had forgotten she was still in the room. "Screw that, there has to be another way! I'm not going to let Harry just up and off himself just because you said a stupid poem that says so!" She had tears welling up in her chocolate eyes, and they were threatening to break and stream down her face. "You always do this professor. Always. You never think about anyone else and only see the bigger picture!"
"You have not seen the things I have, nor done the things I have, nor will you ever have the resolve to do so, Ms. Weasley," Albus said bitterly from the bed.
"This is the curse of those with power, Ms. Weasley. We are forced to look at the bigger picture, and sacrifice the smaller things for the sake of the greater good."
"Do you think I tore apart the Potter household because I wanted to? It tore me apart to do that, but it was my duty. I had the power to stop the upcoming calamity with the next dark lord. If I didn't do what I did, I would have been an innocent bystander, watching the world burn, knowing it was my fault. So I did what I had to, and even more, I made sure that none of the Potter's died in the process."
"Do you think when I murdered the one person I truly loved in the world, I did it because I wanted revenge? Of course not! I had the power, and I was the only one to stop Gerald. It was either I take his, single, life, or I watch as he kills another hundred thousand civilians."
"Tell me, Ms. Weasley, would you kill Harry if you knew it would save all of your family's life?"
Ginny trembled, her hands clutched to her chest, shivering.
"How about, if killing Harry would save everyone you had ever met in your life from death?"
"Stop…" Ginny mumbled, tears breaking from her eyes and streaming down her freckled face.
"Would you save half the population of English Muggles from death if you ended the life of a single person!"
Albus grew quiet, his voice growing weaker. His breathing was becoming more shallow, more rapid. His face was draining of colour, and the black ooze on his chest was solidifying.
"Could you kill the one you loved to save a million lives? Because I did. I did Harry, and I knew what I was doing the whole entire time."
"I will be gone from this world in minutes, and thus, I need to pass this burden onto someone else."
Albus leant out of bed suddenly, both arms reaching forward and grasping Harry at the shoulders. His grip was suddenly painfully sharp. The inky black eyes stared directly into Harry's emerald eyes, and Harry felt as if Dumbledore was staring into his very soul.
"Your magnificent power and your incredible leadership come with a great responsibility Harry."
"You must use your power for the greater good!" Albus exclaimed, shaking Harry vigourously with his arms. Harry just sat there dumbfounded, letting himself be pushed. The grip on Harry's shoulder started to weaken, and Harry watched in horror as the old man began collapsing backwards onto the bed.
"You must… follow… the prophecy…"
One more wracked breath of air left his body, and then Albus Dumbledore, the greatest Headmaster that had ever led Hogwarts, lay still.
The room was completely silent for over a minute as all the occupants struggled to comprehend what had just occurred
"What are you going to do, Harry," Ryan finally asked softly, breaking the unsettling silence that had befallen them.
Harry couldn't answer. He just kept staring straight ahead, his eyes not seeing anything. His glazed expression mirrored his mind as he struggled to think logically. When he didn't answer, Ginny began to fear the worst and her tears started falling again.
"Please Harry," she cried, running over to him, wrapping her arms around him and pulling his head into her chest, "You can't give yourself up. You can't let yourself be sacrificed. You just can't!"
Harry lay unmoving as he rested against her chest, his body still motionless, and his eyes glazed and faraway.
"I don't know," he whispered, a single tear rolling down his face. "I don't know what to do."
When Harry awoke the next day it was to a very sombre castle. News had spread like wildfire, and in the space of six hours, it was as if the whole wizarding world had heard of Albus Dumbledore's death.
He met Ginny in the Gryffindor common room. She gave him a weak smile and walked towards him, reaching for his hands. They simply stood in the red rugged room, holding hands and staring at each other for support. Harry struggled to return her smile.
"What's wrong?" Ginny asked softly.
"Neville," was all Harry replied with, but it was enough.
"There's going to be so much going on today, even this week, that people aren't really going to care about what happened to Neville," Ginny admitted sadly.
"That, and we can't even say what happened to him, as what we were doing was technically illegal…" Harry added, his voice dropping off to a low whisper.
"So what do we do?"
"I dunno. I guess we'll go to Gringott's and see if Neville left a will. He is the last left of the Longbottoms. I don't know if there's anything really left to pass on or anything though."
"Hey," Ginny said softly, squeezing one of Harry's hands reassuringly, "It'll be alright."
Harry just squeezed her hand back. The memory of Neville being hit by the killing curse as he spent his final moments killing Bellatrix, the lady responsible for the loss of Neville's parents, was still fresh in Harry's mind. Neville had managed to overpower the seductive whispers of the diadem as well, and had jumped into the fiendfyre with it, destroying yet another one of Voldemort's horcruxes.
"To Diagon Alley then," Harry murmered.
Not only was the bike beginning to run low on fuel, but Harry and Ginny were feeling quite fed up with the long bike rides recently, so Ginny apparated them to the Leaky Cauldron once they had walked outside the Hogwarts grounds. The professors were in so much disarray from the events of the night before that the two teens had no difficulty at all escaping.
Hand in hand, the two teens enjoyed slowly walking down the alley. They took their time, relishing the normalcy of simply window shopping. Ginny dragged Harry's hand and pointed at the newly developed broomsticks while Harry was hard to pull away from the second hand store.
It wasn't until they spied Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour that they thought they might take a rest, buy some ice cream, and sit down before having to face the difficult situation at Gringott's.
Ginny walked up to the Florean at his stand and was pondering the list of ice cream choices. There was a cheery family sitting inside the shop that smiled at Harry as he stood by the door. Harry watched the little boy, who must have been almost old enough to start Hogwarts, as he made a mess of eating his chocolate ice cream. Harry allowed a smile to grace his face. It was good to see happiness in the world at times.
"I'll have a large," Ginny began ordering, but whatever she wanted was never discovered.
Explosions erupted throughout the street, shattering windows and tearing doors off hinges. In the space of seconds, the sky was filled with gruesome, grimy gray smog that suffocated the sun and left the shoppers in Diagon Alley under a shadowy roof.
Black cloaked Death Eaters appeared simultaneously, appearing out of alleys and hopping down from rooftops. In the space of ten seconds, a dozen Death Eaters had taken control of the alley.
Glancing around, the only thing Harry could say with relief was that Voldemort did appear to have arrived with the terrorists.
Another series of explosions rocked Diagon Alley, and Harry leapt forwards and was pulling Ginny backwards away from the ice cream café just moments before it collapsed on itself.
"No!" Ginny cried, watching the Florence and the young family buried away.
"Ginny!" Harry shouted, grabbing her shoulders and staring into her panicking eyes. "Sent a patronus to your dad with a message, as fast as possible, I'll hold them off."
"Harry, you can't hold off that many-"
"Just do it!" Harry ordered, turning away from Ginny and running towards where the Death Eaters were heading, which was made quickly apparent as they all converged on the ginormous white marble building that was Gringotts.
Letting his emotions take over his body, Harry willed himself spread his feathery wings of white hot fire, which erupted out of his shoulder blades. Flapping the wings that were each over six meters wide, Harry soared up into the sky. As he spotted the group of Death Eaters continuing to hurt innocents and destroy the alley, he angled his wings and soared down between them.
Harry held his redwood wand in his hand and willed every ounce of magic he could squeeze into it, trying to supply as much fuel to his fire as he could. When he hit the ground amidst the surprised Death Eaters, the world erupted around him like a small sun exploding. Blinding white light erupted the entire alley, while searing hot flames burned all who didn't protect themselves from them.
The intensity of the flames wilted away, and Harry was left standing in the middle of a large ring of small furious flames that licked at the ground and the boots of the Death Eaters, refusing to be put out.
None of the Death Eaters were dead.
Some of them had shed their cloaks which had been burned, and others were sporting and occasional burn on their leg or arm, but they were all largely in perfect shape.
"Shit," Harry swore, wondering for the first time why he had decided to jump in the middle of this fight. It wasn't his fight. He had always told himself that. Since when had his instincts changed so much.
He had no time to self-reflect however, as the Death Eaters were quickly recovering from the shock. Harry flicked his redwood wand, and his faithful flaming blade flared into existence with power. Harry concentrated the power, compressing it.
"Just like how Neville compressed his earth into diamond," Harry muttered.
Nothing seemed to change however. The orange-red fire of the blade had become a white looking colour, but that appeared to be it.
The first Death Eater struck. A green curse sizzled out of his wand, searing and sucking the life out of the very air it travelled through. Harry swung his white, flaming sword, preparing to reform it the moment the killing curse disintegrated it.
Except the sword didn't collapse.
As the white hot flame struck the green curse, the Avada Kedavra combusted within itself, burning away from existence and leaving only a putrid acidic scent behind.
"Alright," Harry said, his heart rate pumping and confidence rising, "I changed something here."
The Death Eaters were staring in shock. No one in the wizarding world had ever heard of the killing curse being not only stopped, but disintegrated so easily by another form of magic, without that magic itself 'dying', so to speak.
At that moment, a familiar orange puff of fire burst into life beside Harry. The four legged fox hovered in the air by Harry's shoulder, searing flames surrounding it like a fire ball.
"Alright Chrome?" Harry asked, keeping his eyes on the cautious, dangerous terrorists. The firefox yapped in affirmation. "Let's see if we can flame together then."
Recalling how Chrome could use a form of fire travelling, which was almost as instantaneous as apparating, Harry tried to remember the feeling of when he had ordered Chrome, and how Chrome had felt as the small fox has been sucked into the vortex of fire, and spit out the other side in a ball of flames.
Harry pushed through his foot that was planted on the ground with all his might. The magnificent, overbearing flaming wings on his back quivered in anticipation. As his foot lifted off the ground, he felt Chrome guide him into the fire vortex. An instant later he was out, and placed directly behind the desired Death Eater.
Before the cloaked wizard could react, Harry's wings sliced down in an scissor formation, and the Death Eater was instantly killed as he was sliced into multiple pieces.
"Wicked," Harry panted.
"Don't just stand there. Kill him!" One of the Death Eaters ordered.
"But Crabbe, did you just see that-"
"Did I stutter rookie? If Goyle or I order you to do something, you will do it immediately. Now, kill that nuisance!"
Harry realized that the two elderly wizards named Crabbe and Goyle must have been in charge. If he remembered from Ryan, they were two of Voldemort's inner circle. Perhaps if Harry could defeat those two, the rest of the Death Eaters would turn tail and run?
With the aid of Chrome, Harry flamed behind his target, his sword already in mid swing, so when he arrived, Crabbe would be sliced in half before he knew what hit him.
Except Harry's white fire blade swung through empty air.
Crabbe had just a meter away, just far away enough that Harry's blade was outside his reach.
"I'm not so senseless as others, Potter," Crabbe snarled. Crabbe raised his wand, and launched a killing curse at Harry from mere meters away. Harry tried bringing his sword up to defend, but found that Goyle was already in position, and was firing another killing curse from a different angle.
Swearing, Harry wrapped his flaming wings around him, immediately cocooning himself. The wings weren't made of the same white fire that his blade was, and the moment the killing curse struck the wings, the orange-red turned sickly acid green, and the wings crumpled.
Harry flamed back to safety, and to escape the two experienced duellers. He could tell immediately that Crabbe and Goyle were on a different level from the rest of the Death Eaters.
Harry couldn't rest though, because the moment he reappeared from the flame vacuum, the other nine Death Eaters had launched green killing curses at his location. Harry swore again. These Death Eaters weren't playing games. It was kill on sight.
Harry dived to the right, avoiding half the curses, before swinging his white fire sword upwards and intercepting three more. The final curse barely missed, nearly singing the side of his cheek as it hissed furiously past.
Before Harry had even stood up the next round of curses were whistling towards him. He tried to scramble upright and dodge again, but his feet weren't moving fast enough. He instead raised his white fire sword, attempting to intercept all eleven curses, a near impossible manoeuver.
A pair of arms grabbed him from behind, and before he could react and attack behind him, he felt the uncomfortable sensation of having your insides squeezed like a wet tea towel, and suddenly he was on the other side of the street, the green curses harmlessly crashing into the sidewalk he had once been crouched at.
"Don't you dare die on me Harry," Ginny shouted in his ear from behind. Harry grinned in return.
"Got it," he replied.
Realising that Crabbe and Goyle were too difficult to defeat when surrounded by so many other death eaters, Harry decided to change plans, and begin eliminating the rookies.
As Ginny apparated backwards out of harms way, Harry raised his left hand, and caused a tsunami of embers to crash down atop his enemies. The fiery wave was quickly dispelled, but the distraction was enough for Harry to flame behind yet another Death Eater and pierce him through the heart with his blade.
"This is taking too long," Harry heard Goyle growl angrily to Crabbe.
"Worthless rookies get to Gringotts and secure that vault," Crabbe ordered loudly, and the remaining eight Death Eaters apparated towards the bank, all too eager to escape from Harry, the flaming angel of death.
"And don't you dare fail," Goyle added, "Or it will be the dark lord that will have his way with you, not us."
Harry didn't know what was so important about the vault, but he really didn't want Voldemort getting his hand on something that sounded so important. He tried flaming past Crabbe and Goyle, but as he pushed off with his feet, he failed to find the familiar vacuum of fire that allowed him to travel through. Glancing around, he noticed that all of his earlier flames had been doused. Only his white fire sword was still alight.
"You're going to need more than a few parlour tricks to take us down," Crabbe said, and Harry could almost see the dark cloth fabric twist into a smirk.
"Ginny!" Harry called. The rookie Death Eaters were entering Gringotts, and Harry was quickly realising that stopping them was more important. Ginny appeared to be thinking the same as Harry, for Harry saw her red hair shimmer around her before the familiar crack of apparition sounded and she disappeared.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief, only to choke when he saw that Goyle was gripping Ginny around her small, delicate neck with one of his strong muscular hands, squeezing hard. Ginny's nails were scratching at his hand to let him go, but a metallic screeching sound made it seem that Goyle had transfigured his body into some sort of metal.
Harry didn't know how Goyle had caught Ginny mid-apparation. He hadn't realized such a thing was even possible. It didn't matter though. Harry's rage built at having to watch the girl he loved be choked by a brute of a man.
Unable to flame anymore, Harry instead resorted to an older technique of erupting the space between his feet in an explosion, and rocketing himself forwards. The explosion burnt his feet and legs, and screamed in pain and anger as he rushed forwards. Goyle dropped Ginny and leapt back in surprise to avoid being sliced in half by the fiery sword. Harry was caught off guard however when a large meter long club soaked in a inky blackness unlike Harry had ever seen before smashed into him. He managed to block to place his sword between himself and the club, but that didn't stop him from being blown backwards over thirty meters.
Coughing, Ginny apparated backwards immediately to Harry's side and placed her hand on his back, ready to apparate them away to safety.
"Damn!" Harry swore, coughing up blood as he did so. "The death eaters broke down Gringotts door."
"It's fine Harry," Ginny replied quickly, "You did all you could, but we need to go now."
The brightest bolt of lightning Harry had ever witnessed in his life fell from the sky at that very moment and slammed directly into the Death Eater closest to Gringotts, tearing his robes apart in an instant. The gruesome smell of charred human flesh filled the alley as smoke rose from the blackened body before it collapsed to the ground, shattering into charcoal.
"Reinforcements have arrived," Kingsley Shacklebolt declared in his rumbling, awe-inspiring voice.
I'm pretty sure people are sick of my halfassed excuses to cover up my laziness to keep up regular updates (cough* not once every 2.5 years* cough), so yeah, I'm just gonna try and say once again that I'm not giving up, and I will get this story done one day.
So yeah, read, enjoy and stuff, I hope you're still into this kinda story :)
Oh yeah, also, a p.s. kinda thing I guess, I am looking at ramping up some of the romance scenes between our favourite couple. Nothing too raunchy, but I feel they deserve a bit of fun, you feel me ;)