Two men stood in a small chamber atop a vast tower as the sky turned crayon black and the wind howled like a Banshee in heat. Garreth Aughty frowned as he pointed to the glowing crystal ball set in the midst of a giant worktable, a table bigger than a fast food junkie's waist line. Two long, thin, pink, and rather fluffy triangles stuck out of the back of the frame holding the abnormally large, yet oddly clear, marble.
"Do you see the patterns?" His voice was cool, collected, refined, and full of intelligence and facts like Hermione after a weekend slumber party at the Library of Congress.
Shep Fanz, the somewhat average looking, nondescript, fairly unoriginal second person in the tower, leaned over the crystal ball, frowning as he spotted something in his teeth. Absently picking it out like an eye crusty at the lunch table, he tapped the ball a couple of times. "All I see is snow. I don't get it."
"Patience," Garreth Aughty said. "You must have patience, or else you will never understand."
"Can't you make this go any faster?" Shep Fanz whined. "Like, really soon now? I'm hungry."
The day dawned bright, like a five-megawatt laser burning through Harry's eyelids. He, however, wanted to stay in his blankets; they were so warm and comfy, possibly like the Vampiric Embrace he had been reading about in his DADA book the prior night. Why would he possibly need to get up on this glorious weekend? It was a time for sloth. Or maybe Quidditch.
"Food!" Ron bellowed at him abruptly. The redhead sat up in his bed and slammed his feet to the floor.
Resigned that his best friend, his best mate, or, come to think of it, really, his only male friend, was forcing him to get up or else be run over in the race to the Great Hall, Harry rolled out of bed and found Ginny Weasley standing there at the foot of his bed, ignoring his state of undress; he watched her in her nightgown as she openly rifled through his wardrobe and trunk, all of which were open for their contents to be seen and admired.
As she turned around with an open expression of disgust on her face, looking as though she had just stepped into a pot of cremated remains, she spotted Harry watching her with curiosity. "Harry!" Her rich, warm tone left him as soothed as an infant swaddled in a miniature straight-jacket. "I've been looking for your deodorant to nick! I've already taken all your socks, after all."
Harry, surprised and shocked that she was casually admitting to stealing all his socks, sat befuddled. He had resorted to stealing Hogwarts tea towels in lieu of socks, but for some reason the house-elves refused to return them when they washed them. It was getting tiring trying to find where they had moved the supply to each day. "Deodorant, Ginny? Why?"
"You know," Ginny said with a smile that showed her teeth off to everyone, the white squares brighter than a highly polished chess set. "All that flobberworm mucus . . . mmm, it's such a good flavour, it's better than mouthwash!"
"But . . ." Harry paused to try and articulate the problem as he saw it. "We're at Hogwarts, Ginny. No one brushes their teeth, wears deodorant, or anything like that. Most of the time we don't even shower."
Ginny looked disappointed for just a moment. "Oh. Well, let's go to breakfast, then, shall we?" She gave him a winsome smile as she used her wand to transfigure her nightgown into the same thin, worn clothes and robes she wore all the time, patches all over them like a gleeman's attire. Then she casually Transfigured Harry's pyjamas into luxurious deep seaweed green clothes and robes for the day.
They were happily trailing after Ron and Hermione, who were arguing like two people passionately in love with each other but in dreadfully deep denial about the birds and bees and how the birds really just want to eat the bees, until Ginny pulled Harry into the first broom cupboard they passed. The last thing he saw before the door shut was her mouth descending on his as her arms reached out for him. She was like some kind of overly amorous octopus. He thought that perhaps he could begin to understand those students who had an odd interest in the giant squid.
It took him a while to remember where he was.
Her voice was breathless, her lips so close to his, he thought he might be able to count the cute little wrinkles in her pucker, if not her nostril hairs. If they had light, that is. Broom cupboards were notoriously dark - dark and cramped and full of cleaning supplies. Why Hogwarts had one every ten feet was a bit of a mystery, but Filch did like to keep the castle clean. The mirrors were rather convenient, if a bit dull with their reflective properties, but that was another story.
Of course, it was a good thing his upbringing had left him with a healthy love of small, dark, enclosed spaces with limited airflow. Otherwise he might be forced to find a more creative cloister to share with Ginny than a mangy cupboard devoid of light yet abundant with the romantic, pungent aromas of ammonia and bleach.
"I'd really like to be able to see you this way . . ." His voice trailed off as he realised how awkward that might be. After all, they were mostly undressed, and maybe she wanted to keep some things under wraps. Just before he could tell her to forget what he said, to drop it like the "punishment" dished out for yesterday's attack by Draco and his Goon Patrol on their exposed backs, Ginny kissed him softly again, the sensation akin to that of a caterpillar crawling across his face before it someday became a beautiful butterfly.
"All right, Harry," Ginny said quietly, so quietly it was as though she were violating a grave in front of the deceased person's relatives. "I don't mind. You're the only one who will ever see me like this."
"You know," Harry mentioned as they both lit their wands and their eyes adjusted to the new light, "I've had these fantasies about finding all those glorious freckles on you, tasting and naming each one . . ."
When they no longer squinted in the wandtips' brightness, Harry finally visually feasted upon her, feasted like a Ron Weasley that had accidentally and unwillingly skipped a meal, his eyes devouring the beauty before him. "Hmm."
Ginny smiled absently as she ran her eyes slowly over his form, slower than a sloth crossing the Amazonian Rain Forest. "Thought there'd be more, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Just the seven on your face, eh?"
"Yup, just the seven freckles."
Still, Harry was undaunted by this unexpected development. So she had only seven freckles, he could accept that. There were far more than seven languages, so he could just call each one freckle in a different language. She certainly had other things he could count and explore. The few bits of clothing they still wore prevented him from seeing everything one way or the other, though.
Harry was happy that his love was there, that her fiery red hair still beckoned to him, and that he had all of her developments before him to admire. "I've always loved your hair," he murmured as he idly ran his fingers through her long locks. "It's like a raging fire, or maybe a really lush carrot . . . no, like a tomato, an over-ripe nearly rotten tomato longing to be plucked . . . no, no, it's much better than that . . . it's like a gluttonous mosquito mashed onto your arm! That's the exact shade! How I love this colour!"
Ginny smiled, her own hands reaching into Harry's spiky hair, as though his bed conspired to make Liberty Spikes while he was sleeping. She had yet to find the courage to admit to him that she paid Dobby handsomely, the currency being Harry's manky old socks, to sneak into his room every night and apply liberal amounts of mousse to make it stand up just how she liked it. It was such an original shade of black, it was the exact hue of those Muggle charcoal briquettes she saw one time before her father burned the shed down.
"I love your hair too, Harry," Ginny said as she pulled him to her and the two exchanged a passionate kiss. "And your eyes, they're so much greener than those of a freshly picked toad's . . . they make me think of pond scum overgrowing a rock, or maybe a mouldy bat carcass from the potions store."
To Harry, Ginny's eyes were such a glorious brown, looking into them was like staring into two steaming fresh cow patties. "Oh, Ginny, I love your eyes, too!"
The kiss they exchanged this time was so heated, so passionate, that Ginny moaned as their tongues entwined. Harry was unable to stop himself. He giggled. "Stop that!" He was having a hard time controlling his reaction. "That tickles!"
Ginny arched one eyebrow and then glued her lips to Harry, sucking like an American Hoover on European voltage and bonding their mouths together like Liquid Nails. This time, Harry moaned back, causing Ginny to giggle a bit, but neither broke the kiss. Opting for some experimentation, Harry spent a few pleasant minutes humming different tunes as their tongues fought for dominance like two tomcats locked into a one foot cube.
Harry found that humming Jingle Bells drove Ginny wild, her tongue almost reaching his uvula, while It's a Small World made her irritable, to the point she bit his tongue rather painfully. It occurred to Harry that perhaps this was the reason people simply did not moan into each other's mouths when kissing, as it was clearly quite dangerous.
Separating at last, they both paused to catch their breath and consult their thoroughly Muggle-like watches. "Wow," Harry said after a moment. "I guess we should get to breakfast now."
As Harry and Ginny arrived in the Great Hall, they quickly hurried to their seats. Ron was sitting at the head of the last segment of the Gryffindor table. He had used his wand to raise the opposite end of the table so that every scrap of food was slowly sliding towards his gaping maw. Harry casually pulled a candelabrum from between his friend's front teeth, absently snuffing the candles as he took his own seat.
"Are you sure he didn't swallow a dimensional trunk when he was little?" Harry asked Ginny while grabbing some food items as they went rolling past.
Ginny patted Harry's hand. "Don't worry about it, Harry. He's just a growing boy. The only thing that we ever lost was our bottomless money wallet. It had all of the family fortune in it, but that disappeared, oh, about ten years ago. Not even Ron could get that down his throat. I think."
Harry speculatively eyed the redhead consuming food, dishes, and silverware, along with the random parchment or textbook, and wondered about it. If he was just a growing boy, then Harry knew who he would turn to whenever Godzilla showed up in the Forbidden Forest.
"What's wrong with Pansy?" Ginny asked Hermione, who was buried to her toes inside some massive textbook. Hermione's morning routine always involved a Sticking Charm on her book, her plate, and her food. She really must secretly love Ron to not be bothered by his eating habits.
Hermione's head appeared out of the index pages, glancing over at the super-slimy and smelly snaky section. "Looks perfectly normal to me," their shrubbery-headed friend said before she vanished back into the book. Not even her toes were visible now, although the pages twitched on occasion as though she were running from word to word.
Harry watched as Pansy writhed and undulated like a moulting snake up and down Draco's leg. "Maybe her skin is itchy?"
Ginny smiled at him briefly, shaking her head at the same time. "Now, Harry, she's probably just living up to her reputation as the Bitch Queen of Slytherin."
Any further discussion of the topic was brought to a halt as Seamus dropped onto the seat next to the book Hermione was swimming through. "What a morning, eh, Harry?" He shot Harry a wild wink as he looked closely at Ginny's face. "How'd you like waking up to Ginny's face, then, Harry? Eh? Eh?"
The other Gryffindors, being the gossip bloodhounds on a Holmes trail that they were, all became dreadfully silent while leaning nearer to hear what was being said. "Uh, it was nice, I suppose." Harry felt a bit flustered at the sudden attention. Ginny laced her fingers through his own under the table, lending him silent support like a reinforced concrete pillar he knew would be there until the end of time.
"Looking forward to more of that, eh? Think that maybe sharing a bed if you two stay together will be just sunshine and lollipops, hmm? Lollipops? Know what I mean? Know what I mean?"
Harry was a bit puzzled by the question. "I don't think so, Seamus. I mean, sunshine interferes with sleep, and that's the only reason to be in bed, right? Especially when there's a Quidditch game to be had. And no, of course you don't want lollipops in bed. They get sticky, they fall out when you sleep, and then you wake up with your face and hair all stuck together. Ewwww."
Ginny reflected once again how lucky she was to have a cute, innocent boy she could train from the ground up to be the perfect boyfriend, and later, husband. He had no preconceived ideas. As she discovered with him what worked and, in the future, what worked even better, she could guide him to be the best that there ever could be at seeing to their mutual happiness.
Seamus, apparently frustrated at how the conversation turned out, moved off to join the rest of the Gryffindor students as the Great Hall universally emptied for the first lesson of the day at some unspoken signal. Harry and Ginny lagged behind a bit, as Harry was enjoying the sensations that Ginny was inducing by stroking her hand up and down his back like a painter paid by the minute.
"Potter," the simpering voice of an unwanted snake called out. Harry turned and looked around, before he spotted Pansy as she continued to shimmy up, shake down, writhe around, and jounce over the top of Malfoy. The blonde was forcibly holding her away from his face for a moment so he could sneer at Harry like he was beholding a midden of soiled nappies. "Do you pay for the Weaselette on your arm?"
"Weaselette?" Harry paused to glance around. "I don't see any weasels around here except you, Malfoy. You did know the ferret is a weasel, right?"
"I was forced into that!" Malfoy shot back with enough heat to soften butter. Crabbe and Goyle stepped up behind their boss and cracked their knuckles like popcorn in a microwave oven. "My father made Moody pay for what he did to me!"
"Wait," Harry asked, confused at the strange statement. "Are you saying you're for sale with your father's approval? You turn tricks for money?"
Crabbe and Goyle, hovering directly behind the blonde, both seemed very interested in that news. Malfoy shot a nervous glance around at the others before he placed his back against the wall with a quick two-step. "What?! Of course not! No Malfoy is ever for sale! We do not do tricks!"
"Really?" Harry asked, surprised at the answer. "I thought your daddy sold your whole family to Voldemort for a song and dance."
Malfoy ground his teeth audibly together for a moment before he opened his mouth to spout more frowsty thoughts, but he was cut off abruptly.
"Harry Potter." Harry turned to see Firenze approaching him. "A moment, please." Malfoy shot Harry a withering look before he stormed off, Pansy fluttering in his wake while Crabbe and Goyle followed obediently with indecipherable expressions on their faces.
Once they were all gone, Ginny gave Harry a quick peck and moved off a short distance down the hall, waiting for Harry to talk to Firenze out of hearing but not out of sight.
Turning to the centaur, Harry smiled. "Hello, Firenze. How are you today?"
"We are well, Harry Potter. We are well."
"We?" Harry looked around a bit, but failed to see anyone else. "Is there someone else here other than you and me?"
Firenze regarded Harry with that disconcerting look that all centaurs seemed to master while in their half-horse play pen. "Indeed, Harry Potter. All centaurs share at some level the minds of all other herd members. Even in my isolation, I am surrounded by my brothers and sisters."
"Really?" Harry asked, thinking about the implications. "I'd like to ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind, Firenze."
"You may, Harry Potter."
"First," Harry began, "I was wondering if having someone else in your head makes listening to music really irritating, as all those stereo effects would be disorienting."
Firenze nodded slowly. "Indeed. We do not have music for that reason, Harry Potter."
"That must be . . . quiet. Not much to do at night, I guess. So do you have a hard time with when to use 'I', 'we', 'you' and 'me'?"
"Not at all, Harry Potter. We always use the term you find most comfortable, for I cannot be we to you without you being me for you and we to see me as you and we."
"Uh. Okay." Harry thought about that for another moment, before asking his final question. "Why do you always call me Harry Potter, rather than Harry, or Mr Potter? Or even Harry J. Potter?"
Firenze smiled as he regarded Harry. "It is as your name is written among the stars, Harry Potter. They cry out your name to us across the heavens, and we see it so."
"Wow. Why haven't I ever seen that?"
"You have not learned the patterns of Braille, Harry Potter. Therefore, you do not see the words. We do."
"Oh," Harry muttered. The excitement of a new discovery was suddenly diminished by the commonplace aspect of it all. "Right, then. How can I help you today, Firenze?"
"Mars appears to be unusually bright, Harry Potter. Unusually bright."
"Ok. Should I take some pictures? I could probably get Colin to snap a few; he likes that sort of thing."
"No, Harry Potter, you do not understand." Firenze thrust one finger out, tapping Harry on his scar that was shaped like a switchback trail up a mountainside. "This mark shows your bondage to destiny. You must explore the bonds you have at hand, for Mars appears to be unusually bright. Tonight, your understanding of this bondage must be complete, or we will all fall."
"Oh." Harry was a little confused by the idea that his scar somehow forced him into some strange relationship with fate, but the centaurs knew things beyond his limited knowledge. Apparently, reading Braille would be quite a useful skill to learn as well, not that Hogwarts would ever have something like that in the programme. "Thanks, Firenze. I'll get right on top of that."
"Very well, Harry Potter. We shall meet again."
Harry watched the centaur amble off for a moment before turning to look for Ginny.
He stumbled backwards immediately as he realised Dumbledore was almost standing in Harry's shoes. In fact, the man was so close that his whiskers were inadvertently cleaning out Harry's earwax. "Ah, Harry, talking to Firenze, I see."
Harry nodded mutely, taking another step back.
"Yes, well, he gave me a bit of a warning earlier. I must say, he's rather focused on the idea of bondage to destiny's desires, and you trying your hand at preparing for it all." Dumbledore stroked his long, silvery beard, like a pet shop owner with a prized ferret under his chin.
"I have prepared this emergency Portkey for you, Harry, should trouble arise tonight." With a flourish, the headmaster handed over a necklace to Harry, who put it on unthinkingly. "Just grasp the pendant, Harry, and it will bring you back to safety in the Room of Requirement. Good day, Harry."
Harry watched Dumbledore walk away with a spring in his step, whistling under his breath the whole time, a tune that sounded surprisingly like /Jingle Bells/.
Harry turned again, spotting Ginny waiting, and rushed to her side. "Ginny, you've got to help me. Firenze just warned me that Mars looks like it's really bright and that means we're going to have some major conflict or something with Voldemort tonight. But he told me I have to figure out how my scar fits into things. Help me, please?"
Ginny gave Harry a tremendous hug, as though a python found a tasty morsel on the forest floor. "Of course, Harry. I promised to be with you, no matter what!"
Harry grabbed her hand and half-dragged, half-chased her to the Room of Requirement. "Right. Firenze and Dumbledore both said I had to learn about my being in bondage, well, about my destiny, and what I can do with my hands. Concentrate with me, Ginny!"
Together, the two of them paced back and forth three times before a door appeared in the wall like a cheap magic trick at a toddler's birthday party. "Great!" Harry pulled the door open, which revealed a slightly larger broom cupboard, although there was faint light from torches on the walls in this one and not a mirror in sight. Hanging from the ceiling were leather cords, a whip was on the floor, and shiny black clothing was hung up on pegs on the wall. A thick book was sitting under the whip.
Before he could ask what was going on, Ginny pulled him into the cupboard and locked the door. "We'll learn all about those things, Harry, starting right now!"
Once again, Harry lost all track of time as Ginny sought to expand his understanding of three key concepts: destiny, hands, and bondage. In her opinion, she was simply carrying out the wishes of the Headmaster and Firenze. She was certainly in no position to argue with professors regarding such hard and weighty matters.
They were taking a breather after picking random pages from /The Really Big Book of Every Bonding Bondage Ritual/, both laying on the floor snuggled together. Harry was once again in his full-body leather outfit, complete with a skull mask, everything a lovely shade of glossy black. Ginny's outfit, by comparison, was a full-body outfit with a skull mask in a lovely, yet more feminine, shade of glossy black.
"You know, Ginny," Harry said while idly drawing complicated equations across her back about the curvature of lovely round soft orbs, "Hermione told me you gave up on me."
Ginny chuckled throatily. "Well, Harry, there's a big difference between giving up and getting over. After all, I think today showed you just how much I've been wanting to get a leg over you, right?"
Harry sighed in contentment, realising that his destiny was somehow inextricably tied up with the lovely figure at his side. As he luxuriously flashbacked to their vigorous explorations, he realised that was why he just was incapable of saying "no" when had she told him to get dressed up again before they took a breather.
Harry had secured the keys to the various locks adorning the multitude of zippers on both of their outfits across the back of Ginny's perfectly shaped heels, those delectable orbs of pleasure that she never knew could feel so many things. Now, however, with the flashback over, he was rather regretting how far away the keys were, as those locks prevented him from exploring the next page of The Bonding Book as they had taken to calling it. The new entry claimed to let them hear each other's screams of pleasure. Even more exciting, they would feel a simultaneous echo of the other's pleasure. How the whip was involved was less than clear, but he was looking forward to giving it a go.
Their rumination was cut short, however, as the door was ripped open, and Professor McGonagall stood before them. "I've found you at last!" she said, her voice an evil sneer completely out of character for their beloved but firm and unyielding professor who spent all of her time acting like a signpost with a stern-this and glowering-that. She was wearing an unusually heavy coat and gloves, as if she had just come in from the outside.
"Professor?" Harry asked cautiously.
As they watched in horror, McGonagall's features melted away as the Polyjuice potion wore off, leaving none other than Lucius Malfoy in her shoes. He almost fell over from the six-inch heels but caught himself.
"Malfoy!" Harry growled with fury, trying to rise.
Malfoy flicked his wand twice, and Harry was frozen half erect while Ginny was frozen with a hunch. "No, you stupid boy!" Lucius growled. Once more the features began shifting, but unlike Polyjuice, the change was uneven. Suddenly, Peter Pettigrew stood before them, but this time he did fall over in McGonagall's shoes. It reminded Harry strongly of his Metamorphmagus friend and her running battles with gravity, but then he thought that the stiletto heels probably would be challenging enough without all the melting and shifting about.
Scurrying back to his feet, Pettigrew grinned malevolently at Harry and Ginny as he stood in his hideously striped socks and matching robes. "I've got you now, and your little pretty, too. My Lord will reward me greatly for this!" Without another word, Pettigrew looped a rope around the three of them, and the sensation of a Portkey whisked them all away from the confines of a small broom cupboard with a sharp ripping sensation as though their navels were the key string to unravelling them all.
The threesome landed with a whump! in the middle of an almost empty room, Voldemort the sole occupant of the sole chair, the sole piece of furniture in the room showing how barren and unimaginative the evil man's soul was. "Wormtail!" Voldemort hissed violently. "What is the meaning of this? I told you to bring me Potter! You have failed for the last time! Avada Kedavra!"
The green light robbed Pettigrew of his life just like a light switch took away the prettily decorated glow of a Christmas tree and turned it into a lump of green needles and otherwise tacky decorations.
Voldemort turned to glare and sneer simultaneously at the two unknown leather-clad figures. "Who are /you/?" he demanded in a hideous hiss, like fingernails raking down a blackboard stuffed inside a particularly grumpy snake. When they did not react, Voldemort flicked his wand contemptuously at them, releasing them from their Petrification.
Harry rose unsteadily to his feet, grateful not to be wearing heels, and thinking furiously about destiny, hands, and bondage. Firenze had been certain that those three things were critical. Deciding to push the destiny angle first, Harry took one step forward, his hand drawing his wand in a long, slow motion.
"Hello." Harry paused dramatically, knowing Voldemort would not be able to recognise his face just as he had been unable to recognise his voice. His shiny skull mask and tight clothes would see to that. "My name is Harry Potter. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Voldemort cackled like a rooster on an espresso barrel caffeine high, completely ignoring the threat that Harry and Ginny presented. As soon as Harry's wand began moving, Voldemort flicked out his empty left hand, and both Harry's and Ginny's wands flew like mating dragonflies into the evil wizard's clutches.
Voldemort stalked to them as they withdrew toward each other, Harry suddenly knowing they were alone, defenceless, and somewhat inappropriately attired to battle the most evil Dark Lord to rise to power in England in the past few months. Harry suspected there was something in the water that just caused a Dark virus to infect people suffering from weak moral immunity.
With contemptuous ease, Voldemort slammed both wands into a pocket of Ginny's tight leather outfit, and then sealed the pocket shut with a tap of his wand. He continued to pace around them, cackling and laughing and hissing and chuckling. Harry rather thought he sounded like a broken radio trying to tune into My Word on the BBC.
Voldemort paid the weaponless pair no heed as he paced. "Sharks and Acromantulas . . . oh, no, I can do better than that, that was last week . . . Banshees and enraged Veelas . . . damn, that was yesterday morning . . . no, no, framing you for robbing the goblins . . . no, no, I used that one too . . . aha! I know! I shall bury you to your necks in the graveyard, and release the Inferi for a game of football with your heads! Yes! That is how you shall perish this evening, Harry Potter and . . . and . . . and leather girl!"
Harry mentally recoiled in fear, realising just how intimidating Voldemort could be when enraged. It was like watching a politician picking up a baby that was holding a sweet. Ginny screamed her denial at the hideous figure.
"That's right! I'm going to make you beg for mercy like a man standing in front of a customs officer holding an anal probe! You'll fear me like sheep fear a Welsh nightclub! You'll cower before me like a door-to-door salesman that won't go away! And then --"
Voldemort's ranting was cut off as a doorbell chimed throughout the Riddle manor. Voldemort stalked out of the room, at which point Harry and Ginny began frantically trying to escape their bondage situation. If only Harry could reach that key he secured to Ginny's lovely, round, soft, orb-shaped heels, then they could extract their wands from the deep pocket Voldemort had forced them into.
"Who are you?!" Voldemort's voice cut through the empty house clearly, as did the reply.
"Sir, good day, I'm here with a brochure from The Next Great Adventure Company. We're a group that specializes in complete, hassle-free funeral arrangements, designed to spare your grief-stricken loved ones the difficult task of deciding on your final arrangements. After all, you never know when it might be too late . . ." Harry winced, knowing how much Voldemort would enjoy hearing from a door-to-door salesman, let alone one extolling cherished family members and pitching some coffin and a tiny spot of land to rest in for eternity, or at least until a new golf course was needed.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Voldemort's cry of irritation was evident to both Harry and Ginny. Suddenly the stomping of feet, like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum over a misplaced toy, rang out as Voldemort returned. A fat balding man with bulging eyes floated into the room behind him. It took Harry a moment to realise it was a man, and not just Umbridge in a moonlighting job. The resemblance was an unspeakable mystery.
"Crucio!" Voldemort hissed loudly, his wand focused on the salesman as though it was a plunger ready for a plugged loo. After a minute, he released the spell and glared at the man now sobbing and broken, for the entire world appearing like a rag doll dropped in front of a giant three-headed dog. "That for your-"
Voldemort's evil hissing voice was suddenly cut off by a racking cough. Fumbling in his robes momentarily, Voldemort popped a Halls Menthol throat lozenge into his mouth. Relaxing visibly over several seconds with a soft sigh, he turned back to the man on the floor, resuming his interrupted hissy fit. "Avada Kedavra! That for your Next Great Adventure!"
Turning back to Harry and Ginny, Voldemort flicked his wand once more, and they found themselves frozen, Harry with his wand in one hand, yet not fully extracted from the pocket in Ginny's outfit. Her wand was still buried fully inside the tight-fitting pocket, her own breathing still deep and fast.
With a second flick, both of them floated along like drunken teacups charmed by an evil wizard to the graveyard outside. The night sky was full of stars. A vast number were visible to the naked eye, as the village of Little Hangleton apparently had no street lights.
Voldemort floated the duo onto the grave of his father, laughing insanely like a cameo actor in a Stanley Kubrick movie. The evil wizard paced away, looking at them as though he was caught in some spaghetti western film. "And now, Harry Potter, I shall bury you and your little playmate in the grave of my father. For his bone gave me my body, and it's only fitting I replace it with a bone head or two."
Harry suddenly noticed that the sky was becoming rather bright. Confused, he pivoted his eyes up through his Petrification and saw a glow at the edges of his peripheral vision. Recognising no Muggle light could make something like that, Harry began hoping that Dumbledore or the Order had tracked them down and were coming to the rescue.
Voldemort, indifferent to the world around him in his moments of lucid insanity as opposed to illicit insanity, raised his wand dramatically. "Say goodbye, Harry Potter!"
Harry tried to say something, but all he could get out was, "Mmmmfh."
The meteor struck Voldemort in the head, crushing him instantly. Most of his body was incinerated and became ash in a flash.
As Voldemort died, the Petrification on Harry and Ginny relaxed, and the air was filled with the rapid-fire staccato of heating popcorn. Harry quickly realised that the Order of the Phoenix had arrived.
Collectively, they gawked at the vast hole in the ground, the flames, and sooty body bits scattered all around. Voldemort's ruby-encrusted shoes and his wand were lying at the edge of the crater.
Dumbledore slowly turned and looked closely at Harry and Ginny. "Who are you?" All of the members of the Order were gathered around, staring in awe at the pair of them.
Harry, knowing their identities were still safely concealed, stood dramatically with one hand raised in the air. "I? I am Braille Man, and this is my partner, Destiny! Mars was bright tonight!" Harry paused to quickly Accio! the shoes Voldemort left behind. Tucking them behind his belt, he was sure Ginny would love them once they got rid of the nasty Dark residue on them. "And now, our work here is done. We must be off!"
Harry grabbed Ginny's hand firmly with his right hand and the emergency Portkey with his newly freed left hand. With a jerk, they both disappeared, only to reappear back in the Room of Requirement's special cupboard.
Exhaling slowly, Ginny leaned into Harry's embrace. "That was . . . definitely a bonding experience. Hmmm, but it didn't use the whip. That's an awful shame. Where were we before we were so rudely interrupted? After all, if I'm your Destiny, we still have quite a lot of pages to work through. But you can start by getting my wand out and practising your Braille reading on me."
Shep Fanz smacked the marble frantically for a moment. "Make it come back! It's not over yet!"
Sighing, Garreth Aughty sat down in a chair. "Do you not understand?" His voice was cold and harsh, no longer the soothing tone of knowledge about to be imparted. "Are your wits so dull?"
Shep Fanz shrugged absently as he scratched at one armpit that would make a cat's hairball jealous. "I'm hungry."
With a flick of irritation, Garreth Aughty conjured a steaming plate of viscera and pudding, watching in horrified fascination as Shep Fanz devoured it instantly like a rabid beast, moaning at how perfect it tasted.
Some things really need no explanation.
You begin to get your pants in a twisty bunch, but you are informed that their random PoV shifts and a spot of left-in Americanisms were right-on and thus used to be correct. As will be a few tense situations. You find yourself suddenly void of a leg to stand on.
As usual, the standard set of suspects were involved in the editing and polishing of this story. Chreechree, cwarbeck, Sovran, and Sherylyn all added their fine hands into this sticky mess. Parakletos has a natural talent for understanding sheep and Welsh pubs.
I considered titling this "A Critical Study of Literary Trends in Harry Potter Fan Fiction," based on one wonderful suggestion. One shall be very tempted.
A trailing note about Echoes of Power. Due to real life circumstances, I'm currently in the process of replacing part of my beta team. As soon as this glitch can be straightened out, things there will resume.
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