The Final Confrontation, and a odd result.
Harry Potter and Merlin’s Reaper
Chapter Twenty-seven – Bait
The Dark Lord Voldemort snagged a drink off the tray carried by a passing Muggle slave. Why was he at this party? It seemed that this was all his life was anymore. Paperwork that he did not care about, briefings that he did not want to hear and parties with people he did not want to know. Was this what he had spent his life struggling to achieve?
This endless treadmill of mediocrity was not what he had expected when he began his pursuit of power. It was all so damned boring. Even that thrice-damned Reaper had been quiet for most of three months. Throughout the rest of the world, the actions of terrorists caused reports to flood into his in box, but here at home… nothing.
This ‘nothing’ made the man born Tom Riddle nervous. He fully recalled that when he had been the terrorist, the periods of time when he had done ‘nothing’ was when he was his most dangerous. Something was coming. Something was…
The huge window in the ballroom shattered as two score round… somethings shot through it before bouncing off the far wall scattering as they did so. Riddle flinched slightly as one of the round objects came to rest at his feet, and he recognized the severed head of the chief of his security detail. The others must be the rest of that detail. The Reaper was evidently no longer doing ‘nothing’. Was it wrong that he was looking forward to what ever the upstart attempted?
An amplified voice Riddle recognized so very well echoed in a singsong timbre throughout the ballroom.
“Tommy-Boy, come out and play-ay! Tommy-boy, come out and play-ay!”
Riddle felt Anti-Apparation and Anti-Portkey wards bloom over the property. He was evidently the only one to notice, he watched several in the crowd splinch themselves horribly in an attempt to escape. He silently cursed the cowardice of his followers, and began searching for an escape route that did not involve going through the shattered window, which was obviously the way the attackers wanted everyone to attempt to leave. It was then he noticed a few dozen House Elves pop into the room. Each of the elves was dressed in robes reminiscent of those of the Reaper and carried miniature scythes, as well as a glowing vial. As soon as they arrived, the elves flung the vials to the floor and popped way. The crystal vials shattered upon impacting the floor and out spilled…
Riddle’s eyes widened. Fiendfyre! The cursed flames burst forth and spread, creature shapes were beginning to form and pursuit the scrambling panicking crowd of partygoers. The choice of finding another way out taken away from him, Riddle vaulted through the shattered window.
The master of the world hit the ground outside the window in a roll, coming immediately to his feet. He watched in amazement as the window he had just exited though repaired its self, trapping the rest of his fellow party guests inside with the fiendfyre.
“Oh, well done Tommy. That was very athletic for a man of your advanced age.”
Riddle whirled casting a cutting curse toward the voice. His eyes widened when he saw the ease that the hooded speaker batted the curse away with a wave of his scythe.
“Reaper!” Riddle hissed. “What do you want?”
“I told you the first time we met Tom, I want you and all your followers dead. Weren’t you paying attention?”
“Show yourself. I want to see your face when I kill you.”
The man in the robes started to laugh. “If seeing my face means that much to you Tommy, why not?” With a wave of his hand, the Reaper’s robes dissolved away to nothing revealing simple clothing, trousers, boots, and a leather jerkin. The man’s glamours fell away as well revealing…
“I… I don’t know you.” The Dark Lord admitted.
“I’m crushed, I really am. I’m told I resemble my father.” The younger man smiled. “Think Halloween 1981.”
Riddle’s eyes widened. “Potter? I killed you. After you were dead, I burned your body to ash!”
“I guess I must have gotten better Tommy, though as I recall it, I killed you. Twice. Have you ever heard of a Dimensional Traveler Tommy? I enjoyed ending your pathetic life so much; I came looking for another Tommy to kill. Happy birthday to me.”
Sergeants Evans and Cooper were in position. Acquiring dart weapons had been something of an adventure unto its self, until someone thought to ask the elf people if they had any ideas. The elves held a conference and found that one of their former owners had something of a collection of ‘Muggle’ weapons. A raid found hundreds of weapons, most unusable due to extreme age and lack of maintenance, but three functioning air rifles were found, complete with darts and cartridges, pilfered from a zoo or large animal vet no doubt.
The problem was they only had three doses of the weapon. How should they be distributed?
The tame wand waver Potter had the best suggestion. “Tag us both. If either of us gets up from that, hit him with the third dose.”
It had been hard not to start to like the Potter kid. He had worked closely with the snipers to prepare for this day. He had even had them shoot him with darts full of saline so that he would know what it felt like so that he could fight through the hits.
The Snipers were to wait until the pair of wizards began their fight. Potter had already removed his robes to allow the best shot on his body. He was supposed to talk this ‘Riddle’ out of his robes to display any armor he might be wearing, then start the fight. They were to wait for at least five minutes so that both of the intended target’s heart rates would be elevated, then hit them with their doses.
Three weeks of practice with these air rifles had both of the snipers well versed in their capabilities. The Weasley Twins had done something magical to render the air within what they called ‘wards’ dead calm. All Evans and Cooper had to do was wait for their targets to present themselves.
“Are you ready to die old man?”
The boy’s mocking tone infuriated Riddle. No one had spoken to him in such a manner since his second year at Hogwarts. He made to remove the formal dress robe he wore, and then paused.
“Oh, by all means Tommy, make yourself comfortable. I wouldn’t be so rude as to kill you when you weren’t looking… I leave that to ineffectual cowards like you.”
Riddle knew what the boy was doing, and it annoyed him to no end that it was working. That this boy could make him so angry with so little effort grated. Riddle was seventy-two, not yet gone to seed, but no longer at his physical peak either. This boy was under twenty, young and strong. Riddle hated him for his youth and strength, both physical and magical. Riddle dropped the outer portion of his formal robes leaving himself clad in a long sleeve white shirt and black trousers. Riddle clasp his wand in his right hand and decided to open this battle with a mental attack. Twirling his wand, giving no indication that he was casting anything, he sub vocalized “legimens!”
He was in the boy’s mind, falling, falling. He suddenly came face to face with a… version of himself, a somewhat reptilian version of Tom Riddle being slowly dismembered joint by joint, the wound being cauterized, then the next joint, fingers, toes, wrists, ankles. And the screaming. This version of himself was screaming, always screaming as it took him hours to die. Riddle clawed his way out of that vision, back into himself and stood panting eyeing the young man that was smiling at him.
“Come on Tommy, did you think I wouldn’t expect that? Now you know what I did to you last time… I hate repeating myself; I guess I’ll have to be creative.”
Major Llewellyn lowered his binoculars “Potter has made contact Your Majesty.” The commander of the King’s Army raised the binoculars back to his eyes. “That fiendfyre is a horrible thing. That manor house is fully involved. A single wizard has escaped the manor, from Potter’s body language I believe it to be the pretender to your throne.”
“What is Potter doing? Have they started fighting yet?” William asked.
“He appears to be speaking to the Dark Wizard.” Llewellyn said. “He did say what when Voldemort was angry, he tended to make mistakes. In the planning stages he said that he would mock Voldemort until the Dark Wizard attacked.”
The king nodded, wishing he had been born one of the warrior kings of old, leading his men into battle rather than sitting in the relative safety of this blind more than a mile away.
The killing curse ripped the air between the Dark Lord and Harry, who dodged the green spell returning a bone breaker that hit the older man’s left hand.
“Is that all you’ve got Tommy? I admit your normal opening gambit is normally the Cruciatus Curse, but moving directly to the Killing Curse is a sure sign that I’m scaring you. Poor Tommy, is big nasty Harry being mean to you?”
Riddle had no response beyond a rapid spell chain of curses, few of which Harry actually recognized. Not trusting any shield he knew to stop those spells, he dodged instead, rippling off a series of spells in response. A Reducto caught Harry in the shoulder and spun him around twice; simultaneously one of Harry’s arrow spells pierced Riddle through the thigh.
“Not bad Tommy, you’re pretty good for an old man, you tagged me pretty good.”
“Damn you Potter.” Riddle spat as he vanished the arrow and slapped a healing charm on his thigh. “I will find your loved ones and kill them slowly.”
“You’d have to master both time travel and dimensional transfer Tommy. No one I love here. The only thing I live for is to kill you and your followers.” Harry summoned a fist sized stone from the garden behind Riddle, and laughed as the stone impacted on Riddle’s head.
Enraged, the Dark Lord the most powerful cutting curse he knew.
Evans lined up on his target, Potter. “Got the evil bastard Coop?” he breathed.
“Aye.” Cooper said with Voldemort’s abdomen in his sights. He was Thirty-five feet from the wizard, an easy shot. The fool was so focused on Potter he had no idea that danger was coming from an oblique angle rather than the man in front of him.
“Take your shot.”
Harry dodged Riddle’s cutting curse when he heard the dart gun cough and looked up to see the Dark Lord reacting to the dart that was suddenly protruding from his belly. Riddle dropped his wand and grasped at the body of the dart with both hands, falling on to his back.
Harry stopped and raised both of his arms to offer Evans a free shot. The impact was just above his navel, with the cold rush of the fluid that the dart contained being pushed into his body.
“SON OF A BITCH!” Harry screamed. “That really hurts.” Harry managed to stay on his feet, and pulled the dart from his flesh. “How you doing Tom? Got a migraine yet? It will be followed by a fever, then a tingling in your hands and feet.”
Harry leaned on his staff as the headache hit.
“What have you done to me Potter?” Riddle ground out through clenched teeth.
“Killed you of course. A surviving pocket of Muggle scientists came up with this.” Harry fell to his knees. “It’s a variant of Wizarding Flu, engineered to attack the parts of your cells that tap into magic, and turns those parts off. It has to be targeted into the most powerful wizards around, but cause it uses magic to propagate and the strength of the hosts magic. Someone more powerful than the host would be able to fight off the infection… So it had to be you or me. I had my allies dose us both.”
“You’ll kill all the magic users?”
“No Tommy, I’ve killed you and me. Most people will catch the flu, and get better. Once they do, they will have lost their magic. The only ones that will die are those who need their magic to survive. You proved to me that we don’t deserve our magic. Billions of people were killed in your name. The survivors tortured, raped, and enslaved. For that I’m killing you and I’m helping the Muggles kill the magic.”
Susan sat staring into the hearth. The sofa shifted as someone sat next to her on the sofa. Susan never shifted her attention to whoever it was. Out there, somewhere, Harry was dying. Their son would never know his father. She would never hold him again. She could feel their son moving in her belly. She would not cry. Not anymore. She and Harry had been together for almost a year. That was more than so many people managed. No, she would not cry.
It was only when a hand wrapped around her own that Susan looked over to the person sitting next to her.
“Are you ok?”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok again Fleur.”
The French witch placed the palm of her right hand on Susan’s abdomen. “You must, for your son, if for no other reason.”
“I know.” The pregnant woman returned her attention to the flames.
“It’s typical you know.” Hermione’s voice came from the other side of the room. “The men rush off to fight and leave us here with no way to know what’s going on.”
Fleur and Hermione exchanged a look; they had agreed that they would do what they needed to do to pull Susan out of her funk. They felt they owed it to her for the months they had spent together with only Harry and Dobby for company.
“It’s dangerous for all of the men. George and Fred are there, The King is there.”
“I know all that Hermione.” The tears started despite her promise to herself that she would not cry. “They are all in danger, and the selfish bastards left us here alone with the other women, despite the fact that we can all fight. But Harry is there intending to die. The others might die, but they will fight like hell to stay alive. Harry is there expressly to…”
Fleur wrapped the sobbing woman into a hug. “We all owe Harry our freedom and our lives. His son will want for nothing Susan. I promise you this.”
Harry was on his knees, eyes clenched in pain from the migraine, the fever burned through his body, his hands and feet masses of pins and needles.
And suddenly, the pain was gone. He blinked in confusion. That was not in the description. The fever was gone as well, normal sensation returned to his extremities. His strength returned.
What was going on? Harry felt his magic pulse.
He felt his magic pulse? He wasn’t supposed to have magic anymore.
“You failed Potter! I survived!”
Harry looked to Riddle who was struggling to his knees. Harry could feel the magic pouring off the Dark Lord. They both had their magic? Oh hell. One of the dart guns coughed again, Riddle gestured with his wand and the dart crumpled in midair before falling to the ground.
Using his staff, Harry heaved himself to his feet. “DOBBY!” he called. “EVAC!”
Evans and Cooper never had a chance to wonder what was happening. A crying elf suddenly appeared next to each of them, and then the two soldiers were suddenly somewhere else.
“What is happening?” Major Llewellyn barked when the two sergeants and the elves appeared in between himself and his King.
“Dobby is sorry Master Major.” The tiny person said. “Master Harry asked Dobby to move youse Muggles mans if he called. Master Harry called for Dobby he did.”
“But why?” William asked. “What has happened?”
“The evil bastard still has his magic Major.” Evans ground out. “He was telling Potter that he had won. It looked to me like Potter still had his magic as well.”
“Master Harry say that he would call ‘Dobby Evac’ if Muggle Magic didn’t work. Master Harry say he breech cores if he need.”
“Breech cores? What does that mean?” Llewellyn demanded.
Dobby concentrated to find the words that these Muggles would understand. A pair of cracks announced the arrival of the Weasley Twins.
“Weezy One.” Dobby said, grasping George’s hand. “Dobby not have words. Master Harry breeching cores.”
“NO!” The twins rushed to the blind to see if it had started.
“What the hell does this mean?” Llewellyn shouted.
“The magic a Witch or Wizard generates is stored inside his body.” Fred said. “Stored in what we call a ‘magical core’ The more powerful the wizard, the larger his core is and the quicker it refills after use.”
“When really powerful wizards fight if they’re too evenly matched, they can’t really hurt each other.” George added. “Three hundred years ago a Dark Wizard found out how to disrupt the core of his opponent, but that usually causes both cores to breech. The last time it happened was in 1908 in Siberia. I’ve never seen it but the history books say it was spectacular. Even Muggles noticed it.”
Llewellyn paled. “What is it Major?” William asked.
“I think they’re describing the Tunguska Event. That was thought to be a meteor impact with a 15 Megaton yield.” He looked toward the remains of the manor house. “We are much too close.
As soon as Harry heard the pop of the elves leaving with the snipers, he raised his staff above his head and channeled all of his magic into it. Riddle’s eyes widened as he realized what Harry was attempting to do, and unable to rise to his feet, attempted to crabwalk away.
“Good bye Tom.” Harry gasped through clinched teeth. “I’ll see you in hell!”
Harry drove the butt of his staff through his Riddle’s chest and discharged his magic in a single bolt. No spell, no incantation, just pure raw magic.
Riddle’s core ruptured almost instantly, the resulting pulse of magic fed back into the staff, and into Harry and his core, filling it to overflowing.
This is where things started to go differently than what passed for a ‘normal’ breech of cores. As Healer Pomfrey discovered, Harry’s magical polarity was the opposite of what was normal for this world. Rather than rupturing, his core rejected the magic that it contained, contaminated as it was by Riddle’s magic, and the magic was expelled.
A roiling golden fog erupted from the body of Harry Potter and spread over the countryside in every direction.
“What the hell is that?” George Weasley asked as what appeared to be a solid wall of golden mist came at them at more than fifty miles an hour.
“That’s not what is supposed to happen when cores are breeched.” Fred Weasley said unnecessarily.
“Should we run?” Cooper asked.
Then it was too late as the mist swept over them. Reactions to the mist differed greatly. The Muggles felt nothing. They could see the mist, but it had no taste, no smell, and no sensation as it passed over them.
Fred and George Weasley felt pins and needles all over their bodies.
The elves just seemed to fade away.
As quickly as it had arrived the golden mist it passed on, moving away at speed, a solid mass.
“What the hell just happened?” demanded William.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that.” George answered.
“I’m going to check on Harry.” Fred said. Then he fell down.
“Quit joking around Gred.” George grunted.
“I tried to apparate, but nothing happened.”
George pulled out his wand. “Lumos!”
The two wizards looked into the faces of the Muggles. “Our magic is gone.” Fred said.
“But I thought that the weapon didn’t work?” George asked.
“It didn’t.” Evans insisted. “They both got up. We saw them.”
“Evans.” William stood from where he had been sitting. “Take a couple of men and check on Potter. If he’s still alive we owe it to him to keep him that way.”
A/N2: My most profound apologies for the delay since the last chapter for Reaper. My Muse for this one got angry with me and took a prolonged vacation. We are very near the end, and that is already written, I just need to get us there. Since my muse has started whispering to me again about this tale, hopefully we will finish so we can all go on to nicer worlds.