Pyromaniac Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts.
Harry grunted in annoyance as he rose from the freezing waters, his clothes soaked completely. He hated cold water more than anything. Having to swim through it wasn't his idea of fun. Closing his eyes, he flared his magic slightly and felt its warmth spread through his body and over his skin, giving him a light orange sheen as it took the shape of fire. It was gone as quick as it appeared, leaving him completely dry and more importantly, warm.
When he opened his eyes, Dumbledore was looking back at him with a strange expression on his face. Ignoring it, he made his way beside the older mage, peering at the cave walls around them. Taking his eyes off his younger partner, Dumbledore held his wand high in the air as he turned slowly on the spot, examining the walls and ceiling closely. Harry wasn't sure what it was, but he could feel a strange sensation sweeping across his skin. It felt similar to his own magic, only not as hot.
"Yes, this is the place," Dumbledore said.
"How do you know?" Harry asked, having a fairly good idea how. Obviously, the place had magic and if he could feel it, no doubt the so-called greatest wizard alive could too.
"It has known magic," Dumbledore said simply. Harry watched Dumbledore revolve on the spot, evidently concentrating on things Harry could not see but only feel. "This is only the antechamber, the entrance hall," Dumbledore said after a moment or two. Harry rolled his eyes, holding his tongue between his teeth, keeping the desperate resort of 'Oh really?' unsaid. "We need to penetrate the inner place. Now it is only Lord Voldemort's obstacles that stand in our way, rather than those nature made."
Dumbledore approached the wall of the cave and caressed it with his blackened fingertips, murmuring words in a strange tongue that Harry did not understand, nor really cared enough to ask about. Twice Dumbledore walked right around the cave, touching as much of the rough rock as he could, occasionally pausing, running his fingers backward and forward over a particular spot, until finally he stopped, his hand pressed flat against the wall. "Here," He said. "We go on through here. The entrance is concealed."
Harry twitched at the elder once again stating the obvious. This time he didn't try hold his tongue as he said, "Oh really? I wouldn't have guessed."
Dumbledore stepped back from the cave wall and pointed his wand at the rock, ignoring the blatant sarcasm dripping from his voice. For a moment, an arched outline appeared there, blazing white as though there was a powerful light behind the crack before disappearing. Dumbledore then stood completely still as he stared at the entrance intently, as if he were reading something carved into the rock. Harry was becoming increasingly bored but knew he could do nothing but watch. This wasn't his area of expertise. Blowing shit up was.
Then, after two solid minutes of watching, Dumbledore said quietly, "Oh, surely not. So crude."
Harry sighed tiredly. "What is it, Professor?"
"I rather think," said Dumbledore, putting his uninjured hand inside his robes and drawing out a short silver knife of the kind Harry used to chop potion ingredients, "That we are required to make payment to pass."
Harry stared at the knife held in the headmaster's hands. "Payment? Is it flesh? Or blood?" His voice sounded disturbingly eager. Dumbledore frowned at him but didn't comment on his tone of voice.
"You are correct. I said it was crude," said Dumbledore, who sounded disdainful, even disappointed, as though Voldemort had fallen short of higher standards Dumbledore expected. Harry found it rather arrogant of the light wizard to assume so much. "The idea, as I am sure you will have gathered, is that your enemy must weaken him or herself to enter. Once again, Lord Voldemort fails to grasp that there are much more terrible things than physical injury."
"Or you're underestimating him, just like he knew you would." Harry spoke up. Dumbledore was a bit irritated at the condescending tone his pupil was using but chose to ignore it, rolling his sleeve up. There was a flash of silver, and a spurt of scarlet; the rock face was peppered with dark, glistening drops before Harry could blink. The old mans speed was impressive.
"Do you think I am underestimating him, Harry?" Dumbledore asked, passing the tip of his wand over the deep cut he had made in his own arm, so that it healed instantly, just as Snape had healed Malfoy's wound earlier in the year when Harry had taken great pleasure in trying to disfigure the ponces face.
"I wouldn't have said it otherwise." Harry snapped. "I didn't expect you to be quite so arrogant. Of course, the saying 'power corrupts' does have merit, so it's understandable."
The blazing silver outline of an arch had appeared in the wall once more, and this time it did not fade away: The blood-spattered rock within it simply vanished, leaving an opening into what seemed total darkness. "After me, I think," Dumbledore said curtly, and he walked through the archway with Harry on his heels, lighting his own wand lazily as he went. He wasn't used to being talked to in such a way, and Harry had hardly any interaction with the man over the years. Dumbledore had only this year started to realize how much of a prick his little boy savior really was.
An eerie sight met their eyes: They were standing on the edge of a great black lake, so vast that Harry could not make out the distant banks, in a cavern so high that the ceiling too was out of sight. A misty greenish light shone far away in what looked like the middle of the lake; it was reflected in the completely still water below. The greenish glow and the light from the two wands were the only things that broke the otherwise velvety blackness, though their rays did not penetrate as far as Harry would have expected. The darkness was somehow denser than normal darkness.
Harry groaned, slapping his forehead. "More water. This just keeps getting better and better."
"Let us walk," Dumbledore whispered quietly, ignoring Harry's seemingly random comment. "Be very careful not to step into the water. Stay close to me." He set off around the edge of the lake, and Harry followed close behind him, grumbling about how he wasn't stupid enough to step in the water like a certain Weasley would. Their footsteps made echoing, slapping sounds on the narrow rim of rock that surrounded the water. On and on they walked, but the view did not vary: on one side of them, the rough cavern wall, on the other, the boundless expanse of smooth, glassy blackness, in the very middle of which was that mysterious greenish glow.
"So," Harry drawled. "Do you think the Horcrux is here?"
"Oh yes," Dumbledore answered. "Yes, I'm sure it is. The question is, how do we get to it?"
"Couldn't we try a summoning charm? Maybe he forgot to ward against such a simple piece of magic."
"Certainly we could," Dumbledore said, stopping so suddenly that Harry almost walked into him. "Why don't you do it?"
"A warning might be nice when you stop," Harry growled. "You wouldn't want me to knock you over and break a hip, hmm?" Ignoring the headmasters raised eyebrow, he wordlessly cast the summoning charm, aiming his wand towards the green glow in the middle of the lake. With a noise like an explosion, something very large and pale erupted out of the dark water some twenty feet away; before Harry could see what it was, it had vanished again with a crashing splash that made great, deep ripples on the mirrored surface.
"What the fuck was that?"
"Language, Harry," Dumbledore chastised. "And that is something, I think, that is ready to respond should we attempt to seize the Horcrux."
After that, they walked in silence until Dumbledore once again stopped suddenly, nearly causing Harry to crash into his back for a second time. Harry growled low in his throat, fighting the urge to push the headmaster into the lake. "What did I tell you about warning me you senile old coot!"
"If you could stand back against the wall, please; I think I have found the place." Dumbledore said. This time he was running his hand, not over the rocky wall, but through the thin air, as though expecting to find and grip something invisible. Harry watched with an annoyed expression, rubbing his hands together as they sparkled. His temper was wearing thin.
"Oho," Dumbledore exclaimed happily, seconds later. His hand had closed in midair upon something Harry could not see. Dumbledore moved closer to the water, the tips of his buckled shoes found the utmost edge of the rock rim. Keeping his hand clenched in midair, Dumbledore raised his wand with the other and tapped his fist with the point.
Immediately a thick coppery green chain appeared out of thin air, extending from the depths of the water into Dumbledore's clenched hand. Dumbledore tapped the chain, which began to slide through his fist like a snake, coiling itself on the ground with a clinking sound that echoed noisily off the rocky walls, pulling something from the depths of the black water.
"Well, you don't see that everyday." Harry commented as the ghostly prow of a tiny boat broke the surface, glowing as green as the chain, and floated, with barely a ripple, toward the place on the bank where they both stood. "It doesn't look like it's going to hold the both of us."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Voldemort will not have cared about the weight, but about the amount of magical power that crossed his lake. I rather think an enchantment will have been placed upon this boat so that only one wizard at a time will be able to sail in it."
"There are two of us, Headmaster. You can count, right?" Dumbledore turned to give Harry one of his infamous penetrating looks, but the pyromaniac was not fazed.
"I do not think you will count, Harry: You are underage and unqualified. Voldemort would never have expected a sixteen-year-old to reach this place: I think it unlikely that your powers will register compared to mine." Harry snorted at that but said nothing in response as he was motioned to hop in first.
Dumbledore stood aside and Harry climbed carefully into the boat. Dumbledore stepped in too, coiling the chain onto the floor. They were crammed in together; Harry could not comfortably sit, but crouched, his knees jutting over the edge of the boat, which began to move at once. There was no sound other than the silken rustle of the boat's prow cleaving the water; it moved without their help, as though an invisible rope was pulling it onward toward the light in the center. Soon they could no longer see the walls of the cavern; they might have been at sea except that there were no waves. Harry didn't like it one bit, but kept his discomfort hidden.
"Stupid boat," He muttered quietly. "Stupid water, stupid headmaster..." Or not so hidden.
Harry looked down and saw the reflected gold of his wand light sparkling and glittering on the black water as they passed. The boat was carving deep ripples upon the glassy surface, grooves in the dark mirror. Then Harry saw it, marble white, floating inches below the surface.
"Hello corpse," He said brightly. "How are you today?" He raised his wand higher, bathing the area he was staring at in light. What appeared was a dead man lying face-up inches beneath the surface, his open eyes misted as though with cobwebs, his hair and his robes swirling around him like smoke. "Inferi."
"You... are correct." Dumbledore answered, a little unnerved at his strange display.
"So," Harry drawled once more, looking for something to talk about. Dumbledore was starting to hate that drawl. "What do you think they're here for?"
"I am sure that once we take the Horcrux, we shall find them less peaceable. However, like many creatures that dwell in cold and darkness, they fear light and warmth, which we shall therefore call to our aid should the need arise. Fire, Harry."
Harry's head whipped around in an instant. "Did you say fire?"
Dumbledore blinked at his student's gleeful face. "I did."
"Excellent." He felt like cackling, but settled for a very disturbing chuckle as he laced his fingers together in front of his mouth. He couldn't wait to start burning something. All this water was making him antsy.
"Nearly there," Dumbledore said cheerfully, trying to ignore his strange pupil. Sure enough, the greenish light seemed to be growing larger at last, and within minutes, the boat had come to a halt, bumping gently into something that Harry could not see at first, but when he raised his illuminated wand for a second time he saw that they had reached a small island of smooth rock in the center of the lake. "Careful not to touc-"
"Jesus Christ, I am not a retard. Fuck me..." Harry muttered the last part as he climbed out of the boat, purposely making a scene with his steps as he avoided the water. He smirked when the elder's eye twitched.
The island was no larger than Dumbledore's office, an expanse of flat dark stone on which stood nothing but the source of that greenish light, which looked much brighter when viewed close up. Harry squinted at it; at first, he thought it was a lamp of some kind, but then he saw that the light was coming from a stone basin rather like the Pensieve, which was set on top of a pedestal. Dumbledore approached the basin and Harry followed. Side by side, they looked down into it. The basin was full of an emerald liquid emitting that phosphorescent glow.
"Looks like spew." Harry commented mildly, remembering the time he snuck out with the Weasley Twins to get hammered. It looked like the combination of everything they drank that night and brought back up in the morning. "So, what is this nasty stuff?"
"I am not sure," Dumbledore answered. "Something more worrisome than blood and bodies, however." Dumbledore pushed back the sleeve of his robe over his blackened hand, and stretched out the tips of his burned fingers toward the surface of the potion.
"Oh sure, touching it is just real intelligent."
Dumbledore smiled faintly. "I cannot touch it. See? I cannot approach any nearer than this. You try."
Staring, Harry put his hand into the basin and attempted to touch the potion. He met an invisible barrier that prevented him coming within an inch of it. No matter how hard he pushed, his fingers encountered nothing but what seemed to be solid and flexible air.
As Dumbledore was about to tell Harry to step back, his younger accomplices hand suddenly erupted in a ball of fire, the wave of heat radiating off the fiery limb astronomical. Harry continued to push against the invisible barrier as the flames grew larger, but still could not move any further. Sighing, Harry pulled back, shaking his hand as the flames died away.
"How..." Dumbledore stuttered. "How did... what..."
"What?" Harry asked. Dumbledore stared at the young man for a few seconds before shaking his head.
"Out of the way, please, Harry," He said. He raised his wand and made complicated movements over the surface of the potion, murmuring soundlessly. Nothing happened, except perhaps that the potion glowed a little brighter. Harry remained silent while Dumbledore worked, but after a while Dumbledore withdrew his wand, and Harry felt it was time to speak up.
"The Horcrux is in there, right?"
"Oh yes." Dumbledore peered more closely into the basin. Harry saw his face reflected, upside down, in the smooth surface of the green potion. "But how to reach it? This potion cannot be penetrated by hand, Vanished, parted, scooped up, or siphoned away, nor can it be Transfigured, Charmed, or otherwise made to change its nature." Almost absentmindedly, Dumbledore raised his wand again, twirled it once in midair, and then caught the crystal goblet that he had conjured out of nowhere. "I can only conclude that this potion is supposed to be drunk."
Harry stared at his headmaster. "I'm sorry. Did you just say it has to be drunk?"
"Yes, I think so: Only by drinking it can I empty the basin and see what lies in its depths."
"And here I thought no one, and I mean no one, could be more stupid than Ronald Weasley. Bravo, sir, bravo." Harry said dryly, clapping his hands in fake applause. Dumbledore huffed at the insult.
"I do not appreciate being talked to in such a manner," Dumbledore said sternly. "I've had just about enough of you're rudeness."
"And I do not appreciate having to return to Hogwarts with the dead body of my headmaster slung over my shoulder," Harry replied. "If you're really suicidal, do it on your own time, because I really don't feel like being blamed for murder," He paused for a few seconds, frowning, before continuing. "A murder I didn't commit anyway."
Ignoring the last bit, Dumbledore pressed on. "It has to be done if we want to get his Horcrux."
"Then transfigure something into an animal and feed it the potion, don't drink it your self, you stupid old man."
Dumbledore went to resort, his mouth moving, but no words escaped. This happened for nearly half a minute when he finally found his voice again. "Harry, you're a genius!"
"Quit sucking up." Harry muttered as the Supreme Mugwump pulled a wooden box out of his robes, placing it on the floor. Harry recognized it as the headmaster's candy box. Twirling his wand around his long, bony fingers, the box was quickly transfigured into a large dog that looked surprisingly like Sirius Black's animagus form.
"/Incarcrious/." Harry intoned, aiming his wand at the grim. Thick ropes fired from his wand and wrapped themselves around the creature, making it immobile, and around its snout like a mussel, only this one keeping its mouth open, not closed to stop it from biting.
"Good thinking, Harry. Now, let us proceed."
Harry watched as Dumbledore filled the crystal goblet by dipping it into the basin, passing straight through whatever had kept their hands from touching the vomit-like potion. Holding it in firm hands, the aging wizard lowered himself and poured the contents into the dog's mouth and down its throat. Harry was a little disappointed that nothing happened as Dumbledore went for a refill when suddenly, the grim let out a loud whining moan as it started thrashing against its binds violently. Harry could clearly see the pain in its hazy eyes.
"Better hurry, headmaster. He might explode or something," Harry said cheerfully, wanting that exact thing to happen. "Wouldn't that be awesome?"
Ignoring his pupil, Dumbledore continued to feed the transfigured animal the deadly concoction of doom, a name Harry decided for the vile liquid, careful not to spill any on the rocky floor. As they were nearing the bottom of the basin where Harry could see the form of a locket, one of the ropes holding the dog still snapped, surprising them both. Harry was quick to add more rope.
It wasn't long until the last of the potion was drained. The dog stopped thrashing and looked as if it were dead, it's rising chest the only thing telling them otherwise.
"Oho!" Dumbledore exclaimed. "Here it is. Let us leave, quickly." Dumbledore scooped out the locket and quickly hid it within his robes, turning towards his student. Harry was not watching him, but watching their little transfigured friend that was being pulled into the water by a slimy, milky white hand. The surface of the lake was no longer mirror-smooth; it was churning, and everywhere Harry looked, white heads and hands were emerging from the dark water, men and women and children with sunken, sightless eyes were moving toward the rock: an army of the dead rising from the black water.
Harry smirked. "You know, it feels like we are in a bad horror movie or something."
"Don't worry, Harry," Dumbledore said, stepping forward, wand held high. "I'll take car-"
"The hell you will," Harry interrupted, pulling the headmasters arm down. "This is my time. You just sit and watch."
Dumbledore was about to reply when he saw the look on his students face. It was insanely gleeful, his emerald eyes wide, holding a crazed look about them as his mouth was pulled back in a vicious smirk, a few of his teeth bared in a weird snarl. He was trembling in excitement as he brought his hands up, a strange orange glow surrounding them.
"I suggest getting down, headmaster."
Dumbledore obeyed quickly, hitting the deck as a mini-explosion sounded, flames erupting from his students body: crimson and gold, a ring of fire surrounded the small rock they were on, blocking the Inferi's path. The living dead close enough stumbled and faltered before the flames, not knowing what to do next.
"Let's get this party started!" Harry shouted, linking his hands together as his body burst into flames. They didn't stand a chance as another mini-explosion sounded, the ring of fire expanding like a shockwave over the water, turning everything it touched to ashes in seconds. This continued until the fire hit the cavern walls, extinguishing on contact. Harry's cackling laugh filled the silence after the cave stopped rumbling...
But it wasn't over.
More bony corpses were rising from the waters depths, advancing on the two wizards at a rapid pace, and Harry decided on something different.
Clapping his hands together to reignite them, he knelt and placed the fiery limbs in the water, charging his magic, chuckling sadistically all the while. It didn't take Dumbledore long to see what was happening. The water started to churn more violently than before, then suddenly started to boil, steam billowing off the previously icy water in torrents. The cavern was filled with terrifying wails, inhuman screeches, as the living dead were boiled, their rotting bloated skin melting from their rickety bones. Even those without intact voice boxes were crying in agony, no doubt by magic. It truly was a frightening sound coupled with Harry's insane laughter.
"How do you like that, huh!? HUH!? Mwuahahahaha!"
"Mwuaha... what?" Harry snapped irritably.
"You destroyed the boat."
Harry swore in his mind as he watched Dumbledore and Malfoy chat. For reasons unknown, Dumbledore had let a little shit like Malfoy disarm him but not before casting the Freezing Charm on Harry. He was propped up against one of the astronomy tower walls, under his invisibility cloak, itching to roast the little ferret but could not. He didn't know why the headmaster had done what he did, but something was up. Even without his wand, Malfoy would be hard pressed to even hit the elder wizard, but Dumbledore was standing there like he was at a disadvantage. None of it was making any sense.
"Let me at him! LET ME AT HIM!"
The little voice in his head was screaming for Dumbledore to let him go so he could deal to the little Death Eater spawn. A good roasting was what the doctor ordered, but no matter how loud the voice ranted, no one would hear it but himself.
Then suddenly footsteps were thundering up the stairs and a second later Malfoy was buffeted out of the way as four people in black robes burst through the door on to the ramparts. Harry stared at the Death Eaters, wanting nothing more than to break free and burn the lot of them.
They all talked some more, all of them obviously having gone to Hogwarts at one time or another as Dumbledore seemed to know all their names. Harry was particularly interested in Greyback when they all started fighting. Harry watched as the werewolf was nearly blasted over the railings. The furious look on his face promised much pain before the door banged open and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his black eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore, to the four Death Eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy.
"I wonder if all that grease makes Snape more flammable."
Harry wanted to chuckle at the little voice but couldn't.
"We've got a problem, Snape," The lumpy Amycus said, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, "the boy doesn't seem able-"
But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.
Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed, something that surprised Harry.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
"Severus... please..." Harry would have frowned if he could. Dumbledore was a lot of things he didn't like, but the man was not one to plead for his life. Heck, the man had wanted to drink that stupid vomit-looking potion back in the cave, as if he were a sacrifice. Something was definitely up.
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape's wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry watched in shocked horror, for the first time in his life, as Dumbledore was blasted into the air: for a split second he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he fell slowly backwards, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight.
"Out of here, quic-" Snape never finished his command as wild, hot magic erupted from an unseen source, crashing into the group and throwing them violently against one of the walls with bone-shattering force. The magic Harry had been trying to use to force the Freezing Charm off himself had been released as soon as the spell ended after the casters death and had struck out before he could reign it in, not that he wanted to.
Stepping forward, the young Potter flicked his wand towards the door, wordlessly sealing it and protecting it with a few charms before waving it in a complex gesture, chanting something under his breath. The tower seemed to shift as walls sprouted from the floor, closing off the previously open ramparts. It was an airtight prison.
"Po-Potter!" Snape snarled, stumbling to his feet. Before any of the others could react, their wands were ripped from their hands to be caught in Harry's left where they were promptly incinerated with a thought. Snape paled slightly at the act.
"Well, well, well... the hunters become the hunted." Harry taunted, his eyes glowing fiercely. Even Malfoy, when he was able to shake off the after effects of being slammed into a wall was able to see the power being restrained. "I've always wanted to know what would happen if a human were to be... cooked in an oven."
Greyback, having had enough, leapt forward quickly, his mouth open wide, showing off his impressive teeth. He was hurdled back into the same wall by a blast of fire that seemed to materialize out of thin air. He screamed as he clutched his face that was now covered in third-degree burns.
"Enough of this crap, time to die."
Before any of them could react, the room suddenly felt devoid of air as the temperature skyrocketed. They watched in horror as their masters greatest annoyance started glowing orange, then yellow, the air around his body distorting from the heat. It wasn't long before the Death Eaters, including Malfoy, were flopping around on the floor, screaming themselves hoarse as their skin was slowly warped from the heat radiating off the teen.
Each breath was painful as the unnaturally hot air filled and grilled their lungs, drying their eyes so much it hurt, causing the fluid within to start boiling. They were all covered in sweat but the body's natural defense could do nothing against such an onslaught.
The screams of agony started dying off, one by one. First Malfoy, his eyes imploding in their sockets, then Amycus whose entire face-skin had been peeled away, including parts of the muscle to show the skull beneath. The last two left alive were Snape and Greyback.
"This is getting boring." Harry boomed, his voice much deeper and more frightening than normal. Snapping his fingers, flames lanced towards the downed Snape, leaving nothing in its wake, not even ashes. Harry then turned to the werewolf, whom lasted as long as he did because he was no mere human. Concentrating, the room reached a new level of heat, quickly bringing Greyback more pain. His blood was boiling in his veins and with a large wet splat, his body exploded in a ball of fleshy gore, the heated blood bubbling as it coated the stone.
And then Harry laughed, the sound echoing throughout Hogwarts even through the solid stone, chilling everyone to the core.