Dumbledore finds his powers beginning to decline, while Voldemort's are growing. Harry discovers new powers, but will the Wizarding World accept them? The Prophecy is revealed to all, but is it o...
Until the End
Lord Voldemort sat serenely at his desk. He gently swirled a heavy crystal goblet in his left hand and watched as the heavy red liquid circled the glass. In the low light of the room, the liquid in his glass could be easily mistaken for blood instead of the fine, aged Port that it was. As he savored his wine, he carefully organized his thoughts from the night's meeting
The report about the previous night's attack on the Baddock family had been disconcerting, but not unexpected. His Death Eaters who had gone on the raid claimed a total victory as the family had been eradicated. However, the Hofis brothers, who had been sent along to observe how his Death Eaters operated, were less than impressed by what they had witnessed.
According to them, the attack on the Baddocks had been sloppy and poorly executed. None of his men understood their individual responsibilities, and they had rushed the home like a disorganized mob.
In their arrogance, Voldemort's men had underestimated the Baddocks and they were caught off guard when the mother and father fought back. In the ensuing fight, one of his Death Eaters had been killed and another had been seriously injured.
Once the brief fight was over, his men had fought amongst themselves for the honor of torturing and killing the family. This further delay allowed time for a squad of Aurors to Apparate in and engage his men as they were casting the Dark Mark over the burning home. This unnecessary fight had cost him the life of another of his men.
Voldemort simply could not afford stupid losses like these. While his forces had been bolstered by the recent attack on Azkaban, his men were still vastly outnumbered. His best estimate put his disadvantage in the neighborhood of twenty to one.
While the numbers were definitely against him, he did have an ace up his sleeve. When they were ready, his men would be able to strike quickly and quietly anywhere in the country while the Ministry and Dumbledore's pathetic group stumbled about blindly trying to protect everyone.
His Death Eaters, especially the newer crop, needed training working together before his plans could move forward. This was the main reason that Voldemort had recruited the Hofis brothers. The two men were highly skilled and were used to operating in small groups behind enemy lines. It was going to be their responsibility to train his Death Eaters and they had promised him that by the time they were finished, his men would be the among the most dangerous and feared groups in the world. When his men were ready, his reign of terror would truly begin.
The measures that Fudge had called for at the Press Conference that he had called today could spell trouble for him, but he doubted it would be anything major. The changes that he had proposed were drastic. Fortunately for him, they would be tied up in governmental wrangling and debates for the foreseeable future.
One thing was certain though, Fudge had outlived his usefulness. While his constant denials had helped hide Voldemort's return for over a year and had allowed him to consolidate his power. Once he was spotted at the Ministry, the jig, as they say, was up. Voldemort knew that an enemy was never as dangerous as when he had nowhere left to run. Fudge had reached that point now. With his error in judgment revealed for all to see, he was now backed into a corner, and he was fighting for his political life.
Voldemort decided that it was time for Fudge to go. He was going to cut off the government's head, and watch as the body stumbled about and attempted to pick up the pieces. It would buy him time for his men to train and allow him to continue to build his strength while he planned his next move.
Voldemort had spoken with the Hofis brothers after tonight's meeting and they had assured him that Fudge would be dead by the end of the week. He silently congratulated himself on his foresight. Bringing 'The Hand' into his ranks had been a particularly brilliant move on his part. Now that they were marked, he had even begun to refer to them as 'His Hand.'
With a sigh of satisfaction, Voldemort finished the last of his wine and reached for the fist sized lump of quartz that sat on the desk in front of him. As he sat his empty glass down, he couldn't help the chill of excitement that he felt every time he went through Snape's stolen memories. Without another thought, he allowed his mind to dive into the stone in search of the secrets it hid.
Harry woke with a start and almost tumbled out of his small bed. He was drenched in a cold sweat that made the thin sheet that he was wrapped up in cling to him in a very uncomfortable manner. He grabbed the offending sheet and tore it off of him so that it fell in a lump onto the floor. Harry never would have thought that he would miss the absence of his nightly trips into Voldemort's mind, but, he was finding the dreams that his own subconscious produced to be nearly as disturbing.
With a deep breath to calm his pounding heart, he groped blindly for his glasses. Once he had them in place, he flicked on his lamp and glanced at his alarm clock for a clue as to what time it was. As usual, the only information that his broken clock was able to provide was that it was AM. He took a quick glance out his window and saw, by the gentle brightening of the night sky, that the sun was about to rise.
Well, Harry thought with a rueful shake of his head, no sense trying to get back to sleep now. I might as well take a shower and do some studying. He stood up, grabbed his bath towel, water glass, a clean pair of boxers and quietly padded out of his room towards the shower.
Twenty minutes later, a much refreshed Harry Potter left the bathroom and ran smack dab into his uncle Vernon. His uncle glared menacingly at him and muttered under his breath about the cost of hot water as he entered the now vacant loo and slammed the door behind him.
Harry continued on his way back to his room, casually whistling an annoying advertising jingle that had become lodged in his head on the trip back from King's Cross yesterday. He shut his bedroom door and was taking a sip of water when his world suddenly exploded. Searing pain lanced through his scar as it burst open and sprayed a fine mist of blood onto the floor. He collapsed to the floor in agony and he was vaguely aware of a popping sound as the glass he was drinking from shattered under his body weight. He hissed in pain through clenched teeth as he violently pressed a hand to his scar in a vain attempt to stem the overwhelming agony he felt. As he struggled to maintain consciousness, he heard Voldemort's sinister laughter echoing in his mind.
Hello Harry, Voldemort spoke into his mind, his voice gentle and laced with false sincerity. I just received something that I have desired for a long time and I thought it would only be right that I share it with you. After all these years, I have finally discovered the full wording of the Prophecy that the two of us share. I wanted to let you know that it shall be fulfilled today. Are you as excited as I am?
N-NO!, Harry mentally screamed at the voice in his head. Get out of my head you B-Bastard! Despite his defiance, Harry was beginning to panic. He needed to get up, to run, to get help; anything. But the pain from his scar was too much for him, and he couldn't even force himself off the floor. He began to despair. He couldn't fight this, the pain was too much for him to handle. A large part of him felt like just giving up, right here and now. If he would just give up, then it would all be over. There would be no more pain if he just let go and allowed death claim him now; he would be free. He would find the peace in death that he had been denied in life.
Harry almost gave up and let death take him there on his bedroom floor, but, he noticed a slight tickle in his head and he realized that these weren't his thoughts; Voldemort had planted them in his mind.
Harry felt something snap inside him and his unbreakable spirit returned. He focused all of the anger, grief, and rage that had been bottled up inside him, and he began to fight back. To his surprise, the pain that he felt through his connection to Voldemort began to decrease, and he slowly fought his way to his feet.
Oh Harry, Voldemort whispered again in his head. This is what I love about you. You always fight so hard, never willing to give an inch, regardless of the odds against you. Please forgive my crude attempt at deception, but I hope you realize that I had to at least try.
Over the past fifteen years, I have dreamt of little more than slowly crushing the life from your body with my bare hands. You can't even begin to imagine how bitter I am that now that your end is at hand, I am unable to be there to feel the last breath leave your body. The Blood wards prev...
FUCK YOU! Harry screamed back at Voldemort across their shared connection. He dropped sharply back to his knees as fresh wave of pain rolled over him.
Manners Harry, Voldemort chided. It is impolite to interrupt when someone is speaking to you. Given the pressure you are under at the moment, I will forgive you. Now, as I was saying before your last outburst, the wards around your relative's home prevent me, and for that matter any Wizard who means you harm, from entering your home.
However, and this is the best part Harry, they have no effect at all on Muggles. If they did, I dare say that your dear Uncle would have found himself unable to enter his own home after they had taken you in all those years ago. Isn't the irony of this situation absolutely delicious? That fool Dumbledore placed you here where you would be safe from the reach of me and mine. How utterly fitting is it that the same Muggles that he champions and protects are going to bring about the death of his precious golden boy?
Believe me Harry; I am truly sorry that things have to end this way. If the circumstances had been different, you and I could have achieved such great things together. I know that you are scared Harry, but don't worry, it will all be over soon. Your executioners will be there momentarily.
As a final token of my respect for you, I have ordered that they make your death quick and painless, and I promise that I will stay with you until the end. You don't deserve to die alone and surrounded by strangers.
Harry fought desperately to tune out Voldemort's mocking voice as he once again struggled to his feet. He felt a strange sensation rising through his chest and up into his head. It felt like a cross between a mild electrical charge and bubbles of carbonation. The more he concentrated on this new sensation, the stronger it grew. As this feeling began to grow stronger, he was surprised to find that the pain he felt through his scar was decreasing.
While Harry had no idea what was going on here, he wasn't about to question his good luck. He knew that he needed to act quickly. He needed to warn the Order and get ready to hold off the soon to be arriving Death Eaters until help had a chance to arrive. The only problem was that he could not do anything while he was still locked in his mental struggle with Voldemort. If he was to survive past the next few moments, he needed to break the connection.
Since the strange sensation he felt rising in him seemed to be fighting down the pain, Harry concentrated on it with his entire being. He felt it grow until it his body was practically pulsating with this strange energy. With a great mental shriek, he pushed with everything he had at his scar connection.
With a great deal of satisfaction, Harry felt something give. For a second, he thought that he had severed the link. However, before he could relax, he felt the energy that had been rising in his body burst forth in a rush of power that launched his psyche from his body. With a feeling of unimaginable speed, his mind's eye flashed across the invisible thread of the connection as it drew him unerringly towards Voldemort.
For a brief moment, Harry felt surprise and fear emanating from Voldemort's mind as he crashed into it. With no small amount of satisfaction, he realized that his parent's murder was now the one who was screaming in agony. Almost immediately after they started, the screams vanished, as the connection finally snapped, and Harry found his mind once again thrust back into his body.
Harry opened his eyes for the first time since Voldemort's mental assault to find himself on his hands and knees in a quickly expanding pool of blood. A shard of glass, from the tumbler he had broken when the attack began, had been shoved clean through his right hand when he had crumbled to his knees for the first time. The small pulses of blood pumping from the wound, in time with the frantic hammering of his heart, made it apparent to him that he had severed a fairly major blood vessel in his hand.
Harry didn't have time to worry about this little complication though. With a mighty heave, he forced himself to feet and wobbled unsteadily for a few seconds. The adrenalin that was flooding his system fought a battle for dominance against the fatigue he felt from his mental struggle, and the heavy blood loss he had experienced. Fighting through the black haze that was clouding his vision, he lurched towards his desk and snatched up his wand in his left hand.
To Hell with the underage magic restrictions, Harry thought distractedly. This will be my third offence, so maybe I'll get lucky and they'll send Aurors to arrest me straight away.
The Vanishing Charm that he produced was a little awkward, because he was forced to use his off hand for the spell, but it did the trick and the shard of glass disappeared from his hand. Harry nearly swooned again when blood began to freely pour out of now gaping wound in his hand. Thinking quickly, he brought is bleeding hand down onto a blank sheet of parchment on his desk before removing it to wrap it tightly in his still wet bath towel. He only hoped the makeshift bandage would help stop the bleeding.
Harry snatched up the parchment that was now adorned with his bloody handprint and called Hedwig over to him. He folded the parchment in half and placed it in Hedwig's waiting beak.
"Get help quick girl!" Harry shouted in near panic. Seeing the state her master was in, she was out the window in a flash. With a sinking feeling, he realized that he was in serious trouble. The blackness was once again encroaching on his vision, he was very dizzy, and he was certain he was only seconds away from vomiting. If help didn't arrive soon, he doubted that he would even be able to defend himself.
Harry's heart sank even further when he heard a rapid fire series of cracks that could only be the sounds of apparating wizards. For a brief second, he thought that the Order had arrived. However, the sudden unearthly chill that swept over him dashed his hopes. He knew this feeling only too well; Dementors had returned to Privet Drive.
Almost in slow motion, Harry looked out his window and saw them. There were maybe a dozen black robed Death Eaters and twice that many Dementors circling around them. He saw a flash of green, which could only be the Killing Curse, spring from the group of Wizards and rocket into the sky. He couldn't imagine what the curse had been aimed at until he saw a ball of white feathers fall out of the sky.
"HEDWIG!" Harry screamed futilely. He never saw her hit the ground though, because blackness finally overcame his vision and he felt himself falling backwards. His last thought before unconsciousness claimed him, was how his near constant companion and friend over the past five years was gone.
Dedalus Diggle was not a fighter, but he joined the Order of the Phoenix during Voldemort's first rise to power because he felt that he could help. He volunteered to baby-sit the Potter boy because it would free up some of the more battle-hardened members of the Order for more dangerous assignments. Plus, it didn't hurt that this seemed to be a very cushy assignment. According to Dumbledore, the wards protecting the boy at his Aunt and Uncle's home were very strong, and they would prevent any wizard who meant to harm Harry from even setting foot on the property. His job was simply to sit safely inside the wards and watch the house through the night. He even carried a medallion that would summon the majority of the Order in case trouble came a calling.
To say the least, Dedalus was shocked when twelve Death Eaters and a large group of Dementors appeared in front of number 4 Privet Drive. His first instinct was to make a break for it, but he remembered that he was safe behind the wards and nervously removed his medallion and sent the emergency signal to the Order. All he had to do now was be patient until the cavalry could arrive.
When two men dressed in muggle fatigues broke from the Death Eater ranks and almost casually strolled through the ward line and approached the front door Diggle froze briefly. The flash of a Killing Curse from one of the Death Eaters outside the wards and a scream that echoed out of the house spurred him into action. Safely under his invisibility cloak, he took the most careful aim that his shaking hand would allow and cast the deadliest blasting curse he could manage at the two men.
Unfortunately for Dedalus, the two men dove out of the way as soon as the blue spell light started towards them. His spell, which had missed its target, impacted on the sidewalk and sprayed fragments of concrete and dirt into the air. As he searched through the cloud of debris for the two men, he saw a spherical object arching through the air towards his position and he quickly threw up a Protego shield to intercept it.
He was about to send another spell at the men when the sphere struck his shield and burst in a brilliant flash of light followed immediately by a very loud bang. Blinded, and temporarily disorientated, he stumbled backwards and didn't notice as his cloak caught on the hedge behind him and he appeared in full view of the two killers. Dedalus Diggle died seconds later when a slug from a .44 Magnum burst his head like a melon.
Albus Dumbledore and Alastor Moody were just sitting down to begin their discussion that had been delayed by Snape's arrival the previous evening, when the alert medallion's that both men wore sang out a warning note. Dumbledore tried to suppress the feeling of dread that was descending over him as he sprang to his feet. Harry was in trouble. While he had full faith in the wards protecting Harry, but there was simply too much at stake for them not to respond to any threat to the boy's safety immediately.
Fully aware of what the warning meant, Alastor gave a low growl and moved to stand next to Dumbledore. The ancient wizard was in the process of enchanting one of the few silver instruments that had escaped Harry's recent tirade, into a portkey that would take the two wizards directly into the boy's bedroom. As Dumbledore held the finished portkey out to Alastor, he was comforted by the look of fierce determination that shown in the old warhorse's one human eye. With a firm shout of "AEGIS" the portkey activated and the two men vanished.
As the portkey neared is arrival point, the two wizards felt themselves slammed into an anti-intruder ward and thrown backwards. They found themselves thrown to the ground across the street from Harry's home. They quickly got to their feet and surveyed the situation. A group of maybe a dozen Death Eaters was arrayed across the street from them, strangely enough, facing them instead of trying to gain entrance to the property. With them was a large group of Dementors that started to float towards them as soon as they had regained their feet.
Alastor immediately began to stump across the street towards the Death Eaters. He paid no mind to the approaching Dementors. Moody was aware of his own limitations, and he had learned long ago to ignore them and focus on his strengths. The hard life he had lead to this point left him with very few good memories strong enough for him to conjure a Patronus with. Albus was with him though, and he knew he would have little trouble dealing with the Dementors alone. Moody had spent his whole adult life dealing with Dark Wizards, and he had a large chip on his shoulder after he was injured at the recent battle at the Department of Mysteries when his much preached vigilance had slipped. The Death Eaters between him and the boy didn't know what was about to hit them.
Albus paced slowly behind the scarred Auror as the Dementors bore down on them. With a flourish of his wand, he pointed it skyward, and he shouted "EXPECTO PATRONUM". His silvery Phoenix patronus burst forth and soared high into the sky with an ethereal screech. Albus watched as the bird rolled over in flight and dove back towards him. With a smile on his face, he threw back his head and stretched his arms out to the side, as if he was basking in the glory of the newly risen sun. A second later, his patronus disappeared into his chest. With deafening shout of "MAXIMUS", a huge silver wave of power burst forth from him. The wave past harmlessly through Alastor, and impacted with the approaching Dementors.
The Dementors screamed horribly as they were scattered and thrown though the air by the silver wave that he had conjured with the help of his patronus. Albus briefly went down on one knee in the wake of such a large expenditure of his power. This was an extremely difficult and dangerous application of the Patronus charm that he had personally developed. The charm basically allowed the Patronus to feed directly off a wizard's raw magic to produce the wave of power. Albus had never taught this spell, because it was very doubtful if more than one or two wizards in the world had the necessary power to reproduce the effect.
Albus was spurred into action again by the distinctive sound of gunshots from inside Harry's home. "Alastor!" He shouted as he regained his feet and pushed forward again. "We must hurry, Harry needs our help."
Moody was hard pressed as he furiously deflected the various curses the Death Eaters were sending his way. He was doing well for himself, but he had still been hit by at least two dark curses so far. He knew that his injuries would require immediate aid once the fight was over. He also recognized what the sounds of gunfire meant for them, and he knew he couldn't worry about his injuries now.
Moody was good, and Albus was in a league of his own, but there were simply too many foes for them to handle quickly, and he knew that they had little time left now. What that they needed was something drastic if they were to save Potter. When Moody was forced to throw himself to the ground to avoid a Killing Curse from the Death Eater ranks, he saw his chance.
His magical eye fixed on the propane grill on the side of the Dursley's shed, and he silently summoned the propane tank towards the backs of the Death Eaters. Carefully, he directed it about 20 feet above their heads before he released his spell and immediately sent an Incendio curse on a path to intercept the now falling tank.
Moody's second curse had just left his wand when he was hit by a Severing curse that removed his wand arm just below his elbow. He accepted the hit with a stoic grunt as he watched his curse hit the propane tank. The resulting explosion brought a smile to the battered man's face.
Twisted shards of burning shrapnel tore through the air and Death Eaters were thrown every which way as the fireball engulfed them. Since Moody was already lying flat on his stomach, he was relatively unscathed by the blast. He heard a muffled grunt from the ground behind him, and he imagined that Albus had not been quite as lucky.
Moody grabbed his wand in his remaining hand and struggled to his feet. He cast a spell on the stump of his right arm to cauterize the wound as he surveyed the damage. He wasn't overly concerned about the loss of his arm, as it had been a clean cut and could be reattached later with little difficulty.
His improvised attack had decimated the gathered Death Eaters. Only two of them had managed to erect shields before the explosion had ripped into the Death Eaters. As he twisted out of the way of a Killing Curse fired at him by his closest foe, he saw the other remaining Death Eater trading curses with the recently arrived Lupin and Shacklebolt.
"You fools are too late," the distinctive voice of Bellatrix Lestrange, the last remaining Death Eater taunted. "Potter is dead by now, and we will be leaving shortly!"
"I'm sure I have a few seconds to spare to play with an old relic like you though." Lestrange spat as she began to stalk towards the weary Auror.
Moody took a step back as he prepared for another fight. While he had practiced using his wand in both hands, just in case, he was by no means as skilled a dueler when he was forced to use his left hand. Lestrange was a dangerous witch and he realized that, in his current weakened and injured state, he was in serious trouble unless she made a mistake.
Lestrange began the duel with a cutting curse. It slipped past Moody's guard and caught him in his good leg, knocking him to the ground again.
"Did the poor old Auror fall down and go boom?" He heard her cackle wildly as she continued to taunt him. "You lost your wittle arm, and you already lost a leg. You look so lopsided now. Would you like wittle Bella to even you out?"
Moody heard her shout, "Accio Eye!" and despite his current predicament, a grim smile appeared on his battered face. With a wet squelching sound, his magical eye popped out of its socket, and began to fly towards Bellatrix's outstretched hand. He silently imbedded a timed concussion hex into his eye as it sped towards Bellatrix.
Moody's hex detonated when his eye was about two feet from Bellatrix. The magically hardened glass of his eye shattered, and dozens of shards of white hot glass tore into Lestrange's upper torso and neck. She collapsed on her back, screaming in agony.
"Bitch" Moody spat derisively, as he fished around in his pocket for the spare eye that he always carried.
Albus had just regained his feet when he saw Bellatrix fall from the blast of Alastor's rather inventive attack. He had been caught in the temple by a piece of shrapnel from the exploding propane tank. It dazed for a moment, and even though his snow white beard was now matted down with blood, the wound was only superficial.
His attention was drawn to the Dursley's front porch. The door had opened and he saw two men step outside. He saw Remus wildly charging at them, firing curses like a man possessed. In his panicked state, his curses were all off target.
The two men in question didn't even acknowledge Remus' attacks. One simply held up a tube and a flare rocketed into the air with a high-pitched zipping noise. The other man casually pressed a button on the cylinder he was holding. In a flash, the two men, along with all the Death Eaters scattered about the yard, disappeared.
The magical flare burst into the Dark Mark above the house, and Albus felt as if it was staring down at him in delight. Seconds later, number 4 Privet Drive vanished in an explosion of blue flame. Albus was caught in the shockwave and thrown backwards to the ground as debris began to rain down on the area. He was vaguely aware of Alastor rolling around on the ground as he tried to put out his now burning cloak. He also saw both Kingsley and Remus, as they lay unmoving and covered in debris, off to his right side.
For a long time, Albus stared at the smoking crater that had only seconds before been Harry's home. He only barely noticed when a thin piece of charred wood struck him in the chest. He made to brush the object off his chest when, his eyes focused on it and he froze.
On his chest, cracked and smoking, but still recognizable, were the remains of Harry's wand. He couldn't think past the lump in his throat as tears began to roll down his dirty and blood-stained face.
"Oh, Harry," the brokenhearted icon finally managed to choke out. "I failed you. I..am..so very sorry."
Many miles away from the devastation at Privet Drive, the Dark Lord Voldemort was just beginning to stir. His entire body was screaming in agony, but although he swayed dangerously, he still managed to struggle to his feet. Angrily, he swiped at the dark streams of blood that were oozing from his nose and left eye. Whatever the Potter brat had hit him with had very nearly killed him. He only hoped that the boy had suffered as well.
He hadn't intended to mentally attack the boy, but the elation that he felt at finally learning the Prophecy had drawn Potter into his mind. He had been forced to improvise somewhat. He had thrust everything he had at the boy in the hopes that he would keep him incapacitated and unable to flee or summon aid before 'his Hand' arrived to deal with him.
That this also allowed Voldemort the chance to taunt his longtime nemesis before the end was an added plus. If he was honest with himself, he wasn't even surprised with the strength of Potter's counter-attack. After all, the boy always performed amazingly when his back was against the wall.
Voldemort prayed that their mental struggle had bought enough time for his men to arrive. Taking a deep breath, he very cautiously reached out with his mind towards the link he shared with the boy. His heart began to hammer violently in his chest when he couldn't find Potter at the other end. With more confidence now, he pushed all of mental energy that he could conjure into finding the boy; still he felt nothing.
Lord Voldemort let a burst of maniacal laughter issue from his mouth as he allowed himself to collapse back onto his bed. No known magic could block the connection that he shared with the boy, so the fact that he couldn't reach him could only mean one thing.
Voldemort knew that he was going to take a long time to heal from the wounds he suffered today. None of that mattered at the moment though, because he now had all the time in the world. As he allowed himself to fall into unconsciousness, one thought flashed through his mind. No one will be able to stop me now, the Prophecy is fulfilled, and Harry Potter is dead......
A/N: Here is Chapter Four. Enjoy.