My Gilded Life: The Alternate Ending
A Harry Potter fanfiction by Andrew Joshua Talon and Anonguy
DISCLAIMER: This is a fan based non-profit work of prose. Harry Potter is the property of Time Warner and the creation of J. K. Rowling. My Gilded Life was written by Perfect Lionheart aka Skysaber. Please support the official release.
Note: My good friend Anonguy, myself, Vex the Warlord and several other members of The Fanfiction Forum decided to MST Skysaber's infamous fic, My Gilded Life, wherein Skysaber (Perfect Lionheart actually, which should not surprise you) possesses the body of Gilderoy Lockhart at the start of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and proceeds to have his merry way with the Wizarding World, including such crimes as mind rape, mass murder, fraud, kidnapping, slander, copyright infringement, use of the Unforgivable Curses, child marriage, polygamy, political assassination, grand larceny, blood magic, perjury, and terrorism.
That was not in any way an exaggeration.
This is an accurate count of the crimes that Perfect Lionheart himself defended as being "for the greater good". This story is an abomination. And yet, in my riffing of it, I saw a glimmer of potential in the premise. After all, who is the villain in their own story?
Certainly not Perfect Lionheart as Gilderoy Lockhart.
With that in mind, I present an altered ending for the story itself. The difference begins at Lockhart and Dumbledore's final duel in Chapter 14. If you can stomach it, skim the story to that point.
And here is the finisher of the fight:
...That was when Dumbledore made a mistake. Focusing on me, and following my retreat so he could keep me in proper wand range at optimum dueling distance, he didn't notice until he'd done it that he'd stepped on my cloak, discarded at the very beginning of the fight before we'd parted to duel.
The instant his foot met fabric the entire cloak sprang up and wrapped him tight, cocooning his body and sinking fangs into his neck to deliver poisons to both paralyze and stun him.
This was no accident. I'd deliberately dropped it before we'd each retreated to proper dueling range, so it had been in the middle between us, and I'd animated it long ago to serve as exactly this sort of trap against him. It'd been stealthily creeping into his way this whole time, making sure that so long as he was coming towards me it would be in his path, yet quite carefully appearing harmless the entire time.
Hey! I'd known all along that I couldn't best Albus Dumbledore in a fair fight! So I'd prepared contingencies, as in the event this duel happened no way was I going to restrict myself to fighting fair!
I had come to realize that it's not so much the resources you have, it's how you use them. I'd known all along that Albus could beat me spell for spell. He had been doing this, and viewed as formidable at it, for a very long time, while I was a recently recovered coward and incompetent.
So I'd laid a trap or two for him, hoping that while he was beating me his awareness of other things would be diminished. It had been a gamble, but it had paid off. Knowing I probably had only moments before Albus got out despite the venoms, I hit him at once, without delay, with my one unique spell.
It was the only spell I had that could get through his still erect shields, unique spells being hard to block, and I'd been saving it to use for just this moment so he still had no experience to base a counter off of.
My first week of spell practice in this reality, in the Room of Requirement, I had invented one unique curse of my own, using Lockhart's botched medical spell as a basis to create a Boneless Curse - vanishing the bones of a target.
There was already a bone-breaker curse, but broken bones can be cured in seconds. Regrowing vanished ones, however, took about twelve hours of painful treatment, and that was if you had the proper potion on hand to do it. So it was far more debilitating to de-bone your target than to stun or even bludgeon him, while still not being fatal.
So Dumbledore lost the use of both of his arms and legs, as the first target I hit was his collarbone (without which the arms are useless) then his pelvis, and finally finishing up with the one I should have started with, vanishing his jawbone so he couldn't speak, and finally summoning his wand.
No arms, no legs, no voice, and your options are limited.
It was probably Dumbledore's shock at the unexpected nature of the cloak's attack more than anything that carried the day. But the guy had already proved that he was not immune to surprise taking him out of a fight, as that was the way Draco had done it in the novels.
So, surprise had been what I'd counted on all along to carry me through this fight, should it ever happen.
Still, holding out long enough for the surprise to work had pushed me farther than I'd thought I could go. Albus was an astonishingly powerful duelist, and he'd pushed me near my breaking point with just a portion of his power. It had taken everything I had just to keep him interested enough to play with me. I was panting in relief when I saw his eyes gloss over as the poisons took hold.
I'd been lucky. Nor was a simple memory charm going to fix this, either. Well, not fix it all of the way. But that, as a component of other things... well, it was a good place to start.
Seeing the man who had caused so much pain and anguish trapped, I quietly whispered, "To the victor go the spoils, old man," and took the Elder Wand out of his grasp and into my own...
Now, that's what could have happened, but this is what really happened:
All my skills, all my powers! I was invincible! I laughed merrily as I unleashed a barrage of spells from every memory I could call upon, as fast as I could...
Only to watch them all be deflected or counter-spelled the moment they left my wand. Dumbledore stood there with a determined expression on his ancient face.
"You will not defeat me!" I cried, and unleashed another flurry of spells, throwing potion grenades as I ran around him. I had decided to adopt the strategy of fighting a video game boss-This is what it was, essentially, and I felt I could at least hold my own. Dumbledore would toy with me at first, to see what I could do, if I interested him. That was his way, after all! He wouldn't just outright unleash his full power against me... Right?
Dumbledore dodged or shielded himself against my grenades, continuing to counterspell my curses. His expression was unreadable as numerous wizards and witches ran for cover in Diagon Alley. A stray shot of mine flew towards some Aurors, but Dumbledore caught it in time. I knew they were here to fight me too, to capture me for Dumbledore. I had to escape, too much was counting on me!
Then Dumbledore did something strange. He Apparated back to the Aurors, turned to them, and gave them a simple order. I paused, ready for anything.
"Get everyone out of here, now."
The Aurors nodded and Apparated out. They reappeared around any wizards or witches taking cover and quickly evacuated them. Dumbledore made no other motions, simply watching and waiting for the exodus to complete. I smirked at him.
"Going to cover this up, Albus? You're going about it the wrong way. Maybe they are sheep but enough doubt will remain so that you will be overthrown!"
Dumbledore sighed. "I'm afraid you misunderstand me, Gilderoy," he said patiently. "I'm not covering this up. Indeed, I'm going to relate everything you have been doing to the papers and my own actions. I take responsibility for handing Harry over to you-That was my fault. I will not cover it up."
"So... What is all this?" I asked.
Dumbledore looked around and nodded. "You spoke of my duel with Gillert. Do you know why there were no other witnesses to the event?"
"You confronted him yourself in private," I said boldly, "because you were trying to get Gillert to back down, pretend to die so you could resume your plans."
"Is that what he told you, Gilderoy?" Dumbledore asked sadly. He shook his head. "No Gilderoy, that is not the reason." The glass window of a nearby store shattered. I started, and looked around as more panes of glass burst apart. The ground began to rumble and the air seemed to boil. I looked at Dumbledore, whose hair was waving in a breeze that seemed to come from nowhere. I abruptly realized that the wind was coming from all around him.
"The reason is because we were both fighting at our full power," Dumbledore said, quite calmly as lightning crackled around him. "And anyone who was nearby us would have almost certainly perished. I ask you one last time, please, turn yourself in."
"You... You're bluffing," I said. "Trying to intimidate me!"
"Intimidate? Yes," Dumbledore said. "Bluffing?"
Dumbledore vanished, and suddenly I was being hit from all sides by dozens of spells, fierce ones that shattered my magic armor, broke my bones, silenced my lips and vaporized my wand. Dumbledore was Apparating and casting so fast it was as though he was everywhere, a storm of magic!
The very ground shifted underneath my feet, broken glass became bludgeons which stuck me hard enough to knock the wind out of my lungs. Thunder boomed above me as a storm raged - a storm created by the sheer power unleashed against me.
This was no old decrepit man... This was Dumbledore. A great and terrible wizard.
In less than five seconds I fell to the ground, a broken, barely conscious agonized mess. Dumbledore reappeared in front of me, a sad smile on his face.
Some time later...
Harry slowly came to his senses. He groaned softly, and looked around. He was in the Infirmary Wing of Hogwarts, and Dumbledore was standing over him.
"D-Dumbledore...? I..." It hit him then. Every memory of his old life, every faculty of his brain restored. He saw what he'd been doing with new eyes, and felt nauseous and ashamed.
"I... I... Oh God..."
"It's all right Harry," Dumbledore said. "It's all right. The memory modifications have been removed."
"It's all right, he can't hurt you again, I promise," Dumbledore said, reaching down to hold Harry's shoulder comfortingly. Harry shuddered, fighting back tears.
"I... I'm sorry, Dumbledore... If-If I hadn't... If I'd just... It's my fault, I'm sorry, I didn't-!"
"Harry, don't be selfless in a time like this. It is, in no way, shape, or form your fault. Words can't express how sorry I am, but please, just rest for now. You'll get better before you know it."
Harry was silent for a time, save for his heavy breathing as he tried to calm down. It felt like a dream... Or maybe a nightmare. He felt mixed up and scrambled. He wasn't sure where to begin.
However, one thing stuck out in his mind. One thing he had to know. He looked up at Dumbledore, eyes boring into his.
"But... Professor, Lockhart told me that... That in a prophecy, I'm to defeat Voldemort. That you lied to me... Is that true?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore closed his eyes. "I will admit, that there are some things I have kept from you because I feared it was too soon to tell you. This is a burden not meant for a child, but one fate has so cruelly dealt upon you. Would it really have eased your mind any better, knowing that a homicidal wizard would never rest, never stop, until you were dead merely because he believed you were the one destined to defeat him?"
Harry thought about it for a time, and slowly shook his head. "No..."
"There is a time and a place for knowledge, and when you were ready, I would have told you. Please believe me Harry," Dumbledore said, looking tired and aged but utterly sincere.
Harry considered between trusting the word of Lockhart, or trusting Dumbledore. His heart knew who to turn to. He nodded. "I... I believe you, Professor. I just... I have one question. Why? Why did he do it?"
Dumbledore smiled, a hopeless, helpless smile that conveyed his own lack of knowledge as to why any of this occurred. "That, my boy, is something I do not know. There are guesses to be made, a pull from the Dark forces that plague this world, a sudden onset of madness, but the truth to them is anyone's guess." He placed a hand upon his chin and thought for a long moment. "Perhaps we may discover the truth in time and understand it, or perhaps we won't. Sometimes not knowing is the sweetest of mercies after all."
Harry frowned. "Seeing everything now... All I can think is that he wanted to rule the world. He told me how to use charm, how to make people think what you wanted them to... He was so popular, that book of his would have ruined your reputation, and then... What would you have done if he had turned everyone against you?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes thoughtfully, and then shrugged.
"I don't know, I suppose I would have defeated him much the same. Let the world hate me for the lies in a book they read, I would have beaten him because it was the right thing to do." Dumbledore patted Harry on the head affectionately for a moment.
"For you see my dear boy, the path to Darkness always starts with selfish interest. The moments you put your wants over the needs of others, you have already started down that slippery slope. A lesson for the future I hope you remember: Getting what you need is fine, but taking what you want will always lead to your destruction."
Harry smiled at him. "Thanks..." He was quiet for a moment, before he spoke again. "So... Now what will happen to him? And what about Voldemort?"
"Well, Azkaban is back up and running, but I suppose Lockhart will be a bit lonely in there. As for Voldemort, well, that is a topic saved for another day, when you are rested and healthy. We have plans to make, Mr. Potter, I expect your utmost effort in this endeavor," Dumbledore said.
Harry nodded. "I will. I promise..." A terrible intensity entered his eyes. He had met pure evil, been twisted and manipulated by it as had his friends. His loved ones. Innocent people. It would not happen again.
Dumbledore smiled to himself as he saw the look on Harry's face. Good eyes on the boy, at the very least. It wasn't what he'd hoped for Harry, but now that the magnitude of his fate, their fates were upon him... He seemed ready to meet the challenge. Any doubts about Harry, any fears... They were gone at this.
"I'll leave you to your rest. I must make sure everyone else is doing alright."
Harry nodded and laid back in the bed, eyes slowly closing. Dumbledore turned and headed off back toward the door of the Hospital Wing.
"A fruitful slumber to you, Harry. It's the least of which you deserve." Dumbledore took his leave then, heading back on his rounds. He would be... busy for a time, sorting this mess out.
Overall, that had gone the best out of the rest of Lockhart's victims. Hermione's mother had broken down crying, trying to decide if she could reconcile with her husband. Hermione had been severely traumatized-Dumbledore resolved to get the Weasleys here to help Harry reconnect with her and move on. Moria didn't understand the magnitude of the crimes committed against her, and maybe that was for the best. Bellatrix and Narcissa, both in the grip of someone far more insidious than Voldemort, were undergoing therapy. He suspected Lockhart was safest in Azkaban at the moment, he had little doubt what would happen to him if he was out where Bellatrix could reach him. Sirius had been enraged to the point Pomphrey had been forced to sedate him, and Remus had not been much better.
He couldn't blame any of them though.
Lockhart's little Horcrux Hunt had made things infinitely more dangerous. Rather than banishing the soul fragments to the afterlife, they were now free to roam between this plane and the next one. They might find Voldemort, reuniting with him and repairing his soul. Making him stronger, more dangerous. They had only the diary now.
Alone in the hall and out of earshot, Dumbledore let down his affable facade and allowed himself a very real, tired growl of anger.
"The actions of one fool may have damned us all, and ruined countless lives. All that time with this plan, but no! I will not allow anger to cloud my judgment. Even if the first plan cannot be saved, we will stop Voldemort whenever he shall appear. We must... we must..."
He trailed off, getting his anger under control. It was time for some good old fashioned planning. He had places to go, allies to reassure. Voldemort would NOT succeed, no matter how much Lockhart had cocked everything up. Albus Dumbledore would not allow it.
He reminded himself that the most important thing was that more people hadn't died. And now... Lockhart was somewhere he couldn't harm anyone. For every person lost, save a thousand more. With a thousand lost, a million more shall survive.
He would need to ask even more of Harry and his friends in the future... But he was willing to fight it out to the end, to victory, even if it cost him his life. They deserved the chance to gain their own, true happy ending. And one old man's life, if need be, was worth the trade.
Dumbledore walked to his office, intent upon the Floo. He had so much to do...
Down in the depths of foul Azkaban, Gilderoy Lockhart lay dreaming.
It is the tenderest of mercies that the world will never understand the true depths of horror brought about by this man, this monster given human flesh to disguise its bloated self.
Across the wizarding world, the shallow cut of truth had made the rounds, horrifying the masses who had held him in such esteem. That he had forcibly held the Boy Who Lived prisoner and subjected him to horrible forms of mind control and memory rewriting. That he had used his fame to poison their minds with his unending bile and hatred, and bent them all to his will.
But this is the end of Gilderoy Lockhart, left to rot in the darkness of Azkaban forever more. All he will do is lay and dream, of a time that could never be. Of a world where he sat upon his throne lain with black, and gazed upon the world's despair. For one broken and beaten such as he, and for one who coveted fame before fellow, it was nothing but the purest of nightmares.
Oh, he would not die, for he had proven himself far too unworthy for a simple execution. This is what became of Gilderoy Lockhart, the man who challenged the World and lost. Upon the day his defeat came, the youngsters would gather and sing the hero's name. He was nothing more than a children's game now, like Guy Fawkes and his gunpowder.
But still, down in the depths of Azkaban, Gilderoy Lockhart would sleep. And dream of glory never gained forevermore.