Categories > Books > Harry Potter > To Fight the Coming Darkness

Of Death, Remembrance and Dark Magic

by JBern 18 reviews

A chance to say good bye to friends and a time for Harry to implement his ultimate plan.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione, Lucius, Peter, Voldemort, Other - Warnings: [!!] [?] - Published: 2006-09-21 - Updated: 2006-09-22 - 10489 words - Complete

Disclaimer - Harry Potter doesn't belong to me, just like in the other 21 chapters preceding this one.

Acknowledgements - Massive thanks to IP82, ChuckdaTruck, Nonjon and Nukular Winter. IP in particular helped with the wording of the 'revised' little prophecy. FairyQilan has returned, so spelling and grammar should be better than the previous chapters!

Chapter 22 - Of Death, Remembrance and Dark Magic

Harry stood at the open door to the infirmary. Professor Vector had come to the room he was using for the night and brought him here far too early. The new Head of Slytherin had explained that there was a battle last night and that Dumbledore was badly injured and Hagrid was dead.

It made him feel numb to know that the first magical person he had ever known was gone. He still remembered the man's colossal frame bursting through that door and taking him from the Dursleys. It had been a particularly effective memory to use in his third year training against the boggart-dementor. Before then, Harry had many dreams that someone would come and rescue him from his horrible relatives, but never in his wildest dreams would he have envisioned a huge man wielding a pink umbrella, who smelled of whiskey and body odor. Another friend lost to this damn war! Looking at the shattered body of Albus Dumbledore, it appeared that the Keeper of the Keys hadn't been the only one to suffer from the latest Dumbledore decision.

What would look like a muggle oxygen mask was on his face. There was a small reservoir of liquid in a basin that was being slowly evaporated into steam. Fawkes sat perched next to the bed. The firebird leaned over the basin and let a tear fall from its eyes. The misting water rose from the basin and into the mask. Fawkes then returned to trilling a gentle song for its master. Dumbledore had bandages covering what was left of his right arm. His long beard was mostly gone looking melted in some spots. The skin on the right side of his face looked horribly burnt and a patch covered his right eye. Prior to entering Harry was suppressing his urge to throttle his headmaster, but gazing on the damaged creature in front of him left him devoid of his anger. Although, Harry's bitter resentment remained.

Madame Pomfrey stood looking even worse then Harry remembered from last night at St. Mungo's. She eyed him, "It is against my better judgment letting you in here right now, but he insists on seeing you. I am going to put a privacy dome around the two of you, so that your talking does not wake Mr. Lupin. The headmaster is having difficulties breathing. Do not aggravate his condition! I understand the two of you are not on the best of terms, but you will conduct yourself like a proper gentleman in my ward, or you may very well end up here as a patient. Do we have an understanding, Mr. Potter?" The nurse could be rather intimidating.

"I will conduct myself accordingly," Harry answered.

Harry sat in the chair next to Fawkes while the nurse erected a privacy dome. She nodded at the headmaster and tapped her wand to a bracelet on his left arm and a matching bracelet on hers. "Albus, I will feel your heartbeat and sense your breathing through the bracelet. Mr. Potter has been warned to be on his best behavior. You will be on your best behavior as well. If you do not mind your breathing or if I sense any distress on your part, I will remove Mr. Potter from the ward and whatever business the two of you have will wait until I say so. Is that clear?" A solemn nod from the headmaster was her answer, as she stepped outside the privacy dome.

Dumbledore pulled the mask away from his face. His voice was raspy and his breathing labored. "When someone tells you to experience everything in life, I recommend skipping the part where you try to breath acid. I am sure you have questions." He said replacing the mask and taking a series of breaths.

"Why? What did you hope to accomplish by fighting him? You knew you weren't going to win." Harry said making a conscious effort to control his anger.

"Sometimes even though the battle cannot be won, it must still be fought. I have a letter in my office from Hagrid for you. His injuries in France were more severe than most were allowed to know." Dumbledore paused to take another two breaths before continuing. "Protecting Madame Maxine from a manticore, he was stung by its tail. His mother's blood flowing through him prevented him from dying there, but the same blood prevented any of the cures. He had at most six weeks left to live."

Harry allowed himself to sink back into the chair as he tried to process that information. He remembered the birthday party and Hagrid's arm wrapped in bandages as the half-giant causally dismissed his injury. Only now did the subtle messages, like the look in Hagrid's eye when he said that Madame Maxine was recovering in France, the gift of the powerful amulet hanging around Harry's neck right now, the admission that he wouldn't be teaching this year, and the crushing embrace he had given Harry before going leaving. The clues had been there, but Harry had missed them all! Hagrid knew he was going to die soon! Harry cursed himself for missing the signs!

Dumbledore motioned to Fawkes and the familiar disappeared. "Fawkes will return with your letter and a vial to hold my memory of the battle. My faithful friend is feeling guilty for being unable to save me sooner. Foolishly, I underestimated Tom's renewed power and our battle became a one sided affair. We had a limited window to attack his werewolf allies. It is the reason I insisted on the prisoner exchange last night, because I knew exactly where he would be. It was a golden opportunity to reduce his powerbase."

"You should have told the Minister and brought more troops. You should have brought me!" Harry hissed.

"You were needed here for the prisoner exchange. As for the Ministry, there are too many security leaks. Myself, Hagrid, Remus and one other were the only ones who knew of this plan up until I told three more teachers whose assistance I ..." Albus coughed a few times and took several more breaths from his mask before finishing, "... required to perform the wards. Look at the memory Harry and when you do ask yourself if you are ready to face him? You are not, but I will do my best to make you ready. I will need to recover first, but I think I have bought our side time."

Clutching the armrests, Harry fought against his own anger. He wasn't really sure where his anger should be directed. Instead the two of them sat there until Fawkes returned with a letter in its beak, a small vial in one of its claws and an arrow with black feathers in the other claw. Dumbledore looked at the arrow and shook his head sadly from side to side.

"What?" Harry asked while taking the envelope from Fawkes.

"Bane's answer. Look out the window and tell me what you see?"

Harry stood and looked out into the expanse of the forbidden forest. Several plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the area near where the colony of Acromantulas lived. "I see smoke and lots of it. It looks like part of the forest is on fire."

"Perhaps it is best that Rubeus did not live to learn of my betrayal. His friend Aragog was also dying and chose to die in battle rather than in prolonged agony. It was only the control he had over his ilk and his friendship with Rubeus that prevented an attack against the castle or Hogsmeade."

The pieces of the puzzle began to fit together in Harry's mind. "You told the centaurs. Bane was the other one you told."

"Yes, I let Bane know that Aragog and many of his adult children would be dead at the conclusion of our battle. The centaurs are using this opportunity to wipe out the colony to the best of their abilities."

"Hagrid didn't know? You really are a master of manipulation!" Harry was stunned at Dumbledore's duplicity. The frail, battered man before him seemed to wither even more.

It was a full minute before Dumbledore responded. The injured wizard looked as if he was summoning energy he did not have for a long reply. "Yes. I will have to live with the shame of betraying allies, but if the colony attacked Hogsmeade the toll would have been too many. You have accused me of sheltering you to try and protect you. To some extent that is true, but not for the reasons you might have thought. If you truly are to become a leader, you will have to make decisions like this all the time in a war. People look to me and see the twinkle in my eyes, well one eye, now. They see the person on the chocolate frog card and not the blood on my hands. I will have much to atone for in the afterlife, but I will face it knowing that I did what I felt was right and the consequences be dammed!" Dumbledore lapsed into a coughing spasm and Harry had to press the mask to his face. Dumbledore calmed after a moment and gestured to Harry's wand. The nurse had come out of her office and was glaring at Harry.

Harry watched as Dumbeldore used the borrowed wand to withdraw the memory and helped him place it into the vial. "Harry, I need to rest. Take your letter and mourn our dear friend, Hagrid and the others lost to us. We will speak again, when I am better."


Harry went to the Room of Requirement to read the letter from Hagrid. Sensing his need, the room provided a bench in the middle of a meadow on a sunlit day.

Dear Harry,

I never was much good at these things, so I'll try and be brief. Had to use one of those self-correcting quills with a vocabulary charm on it. I tried writing one without it and it wasn't pretty. Could have used one of these back when I was in school. I'd like to thank you for many things, Harry. You believed in me when they dragged me off to that prison. When I first started teaching, you, Ron and Hermione would ask lots of questions in class to help me through the lessons. I can't say thanks enough. The three of you came down for visits and even stood up for me after that reporter woman revealed my past.

Whatever happened, you can rest assured that I went down fighting. I was already in a bit of pain and it wasn't going to do anything but get worse. Olympe had the best healers in France look me over and the Headmaster was beside himself when I broke the news to him. Blames himself for sending me on that mission. I told him that he didn't put a manticore there. He had Poppy look me over just to confirm things, but in the end nothing short of what used to be in Vault 713 could have saved me.

I'll have that axe you made for me tonight. It's already claimed Greyback's worthless life and Remus said after you two talked that if the axe was made by your hand, it should be able to kill old Tom Riddle. That's another thing I have to thank you for. He's just Tom Riddle. The same rotten bastard that turned me and Aragog in and got himself a pretty little award, when it was really him all along. He took away my chance at being a real wizard, so tonight is payback time. I'm not afraid of him anymore because I'm already dead. My body just doesn't know it yet. You've been standing up to him since you were one and tonight I won't be afraid of him or anything else. With some luck, I took him with me. If I didn't, then I know you'll finish him soon enough.

You're a great wizard Harry Potter. Never forget that for a minute.

Your Friend,
Rubeus Hagrid

By the time Harry finished the letter. The sunlit day was overcast and the room had started to drizzle. Harry put the letter into the folds of his robes to protect it from the splatters of rain that joined with the hot tears rolling down his cheek. After sitting in the rain, for thirty minutes Harry stood and the rain stopped. He wanted something to destroy and he watched the room provide him something suitable. The meadow shifted. A white Volvo station with the Grunnings logo appeared in a driveway as the rest of #4 Privet Drive materialized in all its meticulously maintained glory.

Harry started in the backyard with the hedges with severing charms and incendiary curses. The stone birdbath no neighbor ever looked at, but Vernon always made him scour with the small wire brush wasn't there. Instead it was the same fountain that was in the atrium at the ministry. It was a symbol of prejudice against lesser creatures - just like they would have thought about Hagrid. Harry savagely destroyed the fountain and banished the pieces into the detached garage with a loud crash as Harry began hurling more powerful curses at the garage he painted most every summer even though it didn't require. Harry then turned his attention to Vernon's precious company car. Bludgeoning hexes pummeled the metal. Harry was momentarily impressed with the room's attention to detail as the airbags on the car triggered. For the first time he tried the banisher nicknamed the 'Hammer of God'. The station wagon was hurled end over end into the street like some movie special effect. The same flaming curse he injured Voldemort with in Susan's house crashed into the exposed undercarriage and it detonated.

With the preliminaries out of the way, Harry looked upon the house. He didn't really want to say that he was raised there, it felt more like he was kenneled there. He blew the front door off its hinges and sent the remnants of the door into his Aunt's china hutch shattering the 'oh-so precious' grandmother Dursley's hideous pattern. Harry stopped at the little angels on the mantle that represented his never born cousins. He made the room get rid of them. The door to his cupboard and the second bedroom received special attention riddled with piercing curses and conjured arrows before he blasted them into oblivion.

Harry spent the next ten minutes moving from room to room destroying furniture, pictures, vases, mirrors and anything else that caught his eyes. When there was nothing but debris left he went back to the front yard. Focusing on his anger, he began throwing the most powerful curses in his arsenal at the house. Bludgeoning curses hit like boulders from a medieval catapult. Gouts of fire charred set the debris inside ablaze. The blasting curses blew holes through one side of the house and out the other. Finally, the house collapsed upon itself.

Spent, Harry sank to the ground. He looked at the destruction wrought by his spells. The neighborhood now resembled a war zone. Several other homes were now burning and damaged. It was impressive to see how much devastation his magic could cause, with even the stray curses. He checked the time. It was eight fifteen in the morning. Harry realized he should grab some breakfast and go see Susan.

Stepping out into the hallway, Harry realized that he might have taken his anger a bit too far. Flitwick and McGonagall, as well as several other teachers were there with their wands drawn. Several house elves were cleaning up dust and debris. Some of the statues had fallen in the corridor. The inhabitants of the portraits were nowhere to be scene. One could almost feel the residue of magic in the area.

"Mr. Potter! We thought the castle was under attack! The outer wards actually started weakening." McGonagall exclaimed.

"I am sorry Professor. I just learned about Hagrid and went looking for a place to be angry. I didn't realize that I might be damaging the castle from inside the room."

Professor McGonagall looked ready to continue her dressing down, but Flitwick stopped her. "No harm done Mr. Potter - at least none that I can tell at the moment. Ever since Professor Vector and I learned of this marvelous room, we have been trying to understand how it functions. I believe that it started drawing power from the wards to protect itself. Truly magnificent! Minerva, why don't the rest of you go back down to the Ravenclaw tower and reassure the students. Albus will also probably want to know what happened. I'll stay here with Mr. Potter until the house elves have finished cleaning the mess up."

"Very well, Filius. I trust you will show more restraint in the future, Mr. Potter." The head of Gryffindor said before turning around and leaving with the rest of the teachers.

Harry shuffled his feet annoyed with himself. They watched the house elves reattach a statues arm and continue scourgifying the dust. "Rather impressive tantrum you just had there, Mr. Potter. May I see your wand?" Harry handed him the wand without thinking about it and watched the charms professor cast a variant of the priori incantatem on the wand. It was the same one that aurors used to determine spells cast by the wand. Harry cringed as the last dozen spells appeared. Flitwick looked at them impassively raising a bushy eyebrow occasionally, before smiling broadly at Harry.

"A word of advice Harry, never hand your wand to someone else just because they ask for it, even me. The staff is going to be instructed to never ask for your wand again. Anyone who has a problem with it can take it up with myself, or the headmaster. I am impressed by your spell selection. Some of those spells aren't even in the books in the restricted section. I think I can skip the first few things I intended to show you. You're farther along then I thought. I assume you have the books from which you have picked up some combat magic?"

"Yes." Harry offered a simple answer not wishing to divulge any secrets. He was pleased by Flitwick's praise.

"Bring them and together you and I will evaluate what spells best suit your dueling style. Be back at this spot at noon and be prepared to duel."

"I have the pensieve memory of the Headmaster's fight," Harry said.

"Bring it, your other memories of him and your pensieve. Both of us need to know his current strength. I don't know if the room would or could create a pensieve, but I would also rather not take a chance that the fabricated construct would disappear taking the memories with it. The headmaster has agreed to bring on an assistant charms professor to handle the first through fourth years. This will leave me with a rather large block of open time. Your dueling instruction will be the focus of this time. Until school starts plan on spending at least four hours a day with me." Flitwick seemed almost as eager as Harry now.

"I understand sir. Thank you. Who is the new instructor?" Harry asked out of curiosity.

"Andromeda Tonks. She was one of my most capable students. It also doesn't hurt to have another friendly wand around the castle."

"Technically, she is also a relative of mine." Harry said thinking with the tiniest bit of humor that Mrs. Tonks must also have great expertise at handling 'difficult' children.

"One of the main reasons the headmaster readily agreed."

"Sir, I intend to go visit Susan again at St. Mungo's. I need to be leaving shortly."

"Harry, go see Professor Sprout. She will escort you there. I know that you dislike this escorting business, but just like we were saying a second ago, it never hurts to have an extra friendly wand around. You are a high priority target in this war. Like it or not you require protection."

"I don't like it, but I can see your point," Harry replied with a hint of resignation heading off.

Harry began to feel a bit better as he walked towards the Great Hall, but was stopped yet again. 'At this rate, I am going to be late seeing Susan!' "What can I do for you this morning, Hannah?" He looked at the blonde Hufflepuff witch in front of him.

"I don't like you spending a whole bunch of time with Ginny Weasley, especially while Susan is recovering in the hospital. I don't pick up much from you anymore, but you look guilty." Hannah had her hands on her hips and glared at him with her penetrating stare.

"Don't go looking for trouble, Hannah. Keep out of this." Harry's anger returned in full force. It came out fairly threatening.

"I don't like threats, Harry. Tell me what you are doing with her."

"No. It doesn't concern you. It doesn't concern anyone but me and Ginny."

"I'm making it my business! You don't think Susan will hear about this? I don't know what you are doing with her, but I know what it will look like and it is going to hurt Susan. She puts up a tough front, but I will not stand for you playing games with her!"

"And just what does it look like, Abbott?" Harry asked coldly.

"It looks like you're thinking with your dick!"

Harry's already frayed emotions were now past their breaking point. "Listen up! Ginny is helping me with something. It is not any of your business or anyone else's. What kind of games do you think I am playing? People are dying out there. There's a damn war going on! Maybe a dumb bitch like you hasn't figured it out yet, but I just found out I have to bury another one of my friends this morning! Do you think I like waking up in the morning to find out who's dead today? Do you?" Harry found himself right in Hannah's face and the cringing witch was dealing with both him and his naked raw anger spilling over his Occulmency shields. "I will tell you one time and one time only. Keep! Your! Fucking! Nose! Out! Of! This!" Harry watched Hannah slide down the wall and begin to shake uncontrollably.

Harry didn't even bother looking back as he continued. Lisa Turpin and Hermione were standing in the hallway gaping open mouthed at the exchange. Lisa stepped around him giving him a wide berth and a slightly fearful expression and headed over to help Hannah. In the small part of his mind that actually gave a damn about Hannah's feelings, Harry realized that her empathic gift would in all likelihood make the elder Abbott sister worthless in a real fight. The rest of Harry's mind couldn't really care less at the moment. Hermione followed Harry into the Great Hall.

Hermione waited a minute before asking politely, "Do you want to talk, Harry?"

"Not really. I just want something to eat and then I have to find Professor Sprout." He said grabbing a muffin and an apple. It wasn't much, but it would have to do.

"I don't really think she would like to see you threatening one of her prefects. I am curious what you and Ginny are up to as well, but I trust you and I sense it's important. It is hurting you to keep secrets, but I know you'll tell me when you are ready." Hermione met his gaze and put her arm on his shoulder.

The two of them looked at each other. Harry couldn't think of any way to say it without being blunt. "Hagrid was killed last night."

"No! How?" Hermione looked stricken.

"He and Dumbledore led an ambush against Voldemort and a bunch of werewolves. Dumbledore is badly injured."

"How bad?"

"Missing an arm bad. Breathing through a mask bad. Possibly blinded in an eye bad." Harry answered.

Harry had to put an arm on her to steady her. She buried herself in his chest and sobbed, "Calm down Hermione. We'll get through this."

Harry did his best to comfort her. He thought about showing her the letter, but opted against it. There was a not-so veiled reference to the prophecy in it. Even in Hermione's distraught state, Harry doubted that his friend would miss the clue.

He helped her sit down and stayed with her a couple of more minutes. When Ron came into the hall, Harry quickly updated him before heading over to Professor Sprout. Ron took it stone faced. His best male friend was a contrast. He would express anger instantly, but hold on to sadness indefinitely. For three full days after his father had been attacked Harry had watched his friend's tight expressions. On the second night Harry was certain he had heard Ron crying into his pillow. Neither of them ever mentioned it.

Ten minutes later, Harry and Pomona Sprout were headed back to the infirmary and flooing directly to St. Mungo's. Harry paused and looked at the resting figure of Dumbledore before stepping into the flames. The man had once radiated power, but now he looked broken.


Inside the pensieve, Voldemort watched the image of Harry Potter circle around Dumbledore's desk anxiously. A couple of portraits, with the main instigator being Phineas Nigellus made several snide remarks to the distraught boy. Finally, he settled into the seat looking defeated. Thirty seconds later, Dumbledore arrived via the floo in his office. Voldemort still felt his injuries from the battle with Dumbledore two nights ago. The few injuries inflicted by the "One Armed Leader of the Light" had been easily healed. The broken ribs and the resulting punctured lung had lingering effects. The lung was functional now, but his breathing was ragged. The ribs were healing, but the soreness was a constant reminder of just how close he had been to complete defeat. An illusionary glamour covered the fact that he will be walking with a limp for the next few weeks. After he was treated, he obliviated Georgina Crabbe's memories. That removed any clues to his condition.

"Sirus?" The boy asked hopefully. The headmaster sighed and shook his head.

"I have contacted the head of the Department of Mysteries, but the Veil remains beyond even their understanding. I fear he is lost to us."

"He tricked me into coming there," Harry muttered sobbing into his hands.

"Much of your blame should be directed at myself, Harry. I suspected your connection to Tom and it required that I maintain a certain distance between the two of us. I wished for him to see that we did not have a relationship beyond student and teacher. I have made mistakes in keeping information from you. I will correct this now. You asked me once to explain why Tom has specifically targeted you. At the time I declined to answer that question to keep you unaware of the burden fate has bestowed upon you. In light of tonight's events, I will reveal the prophecy to you."

"You can't! It was destroyed." Harry muttered.

"The item in the Department of Mysteries was merely a record of that prophecy. I was the witness who provided the record to the ministry."

"Tell me," Harry said looking up from his hands with a look of anger on his face.

Voldemort and Snape observed Dumbledore taking the Potter brat over to the pensieve in the corner of the office. The headmaster stirred the pensieve and both saw watched the ethereal form of the Divination instructor appear.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal... The light shall falter but withstand... Protected in the year of fours the Chosen One flourishes and the Dark Lord fails... The final reckoning shall come and magic's true champion is selected as the Chosen One's seventeenth year dies... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...

"She's a fraud!" Harry exclaimed.

Dumbledore shook his head. "You know all too well the prophecy she gave concerning Peter's escape. I assure you that she does have the talent. A spy for Tom was listening at the door and heard the first two lines and relayed them to his master. Of all the magical children born in July, there were two candidates - yourself and Mr. Longbottom."

"Do you mean it might not be me?"

"Unfortunately, no. Tom chose you and marked you. As for the rest, I had originally thought the year of fours referred to your survival at the end of the Triwizard Tournament, but I now believe it is actually referring to the leap years. In 1992, the Basilisk was unleashed on the school. Not only did you defeat the creature, but amazingly enough, the school escaped any fatalities. Tonight in 1996, you survived yet another encounter with him and many of his inner circle are in custody. I suspect that any further encounters for the remainder of this year will be more favorable towards our side. It ultimately alludes to a final battle in the summer after your seventh year."

The memory of Harry did not seem too pleased. In fact he started slowly and quickly worked himself into a screaming frenzy. "You knew all along. Sirius died for nothing! Mr. Weasley almost died for nothing! You should have told me years ago! Damn you! So all I am is a weapon to you!"

The Dark Lord watched as Harry began smashing delicate, and in some cases irreplaceable pieces of magical equipment. This continued for five minutes before Dumbledore stopped him and sent him to Gryffindor tower.

Exiting the pensieve, Voldemort summoned Severus to his central chamber.

"What do you think, Master?" Severus said. He was proud to have finally accomplished his mission of delivering the prophecy to his master. Snape highly doubted his master would share the wording of the prophecy anytime soon.

"It is vague and defines no clear winner." Voldemort continued the conversation in his thoughts. 'I was also at a loss to explain the ease with which the great serpent was dispatched in the boy's second year and this year has not exactly been a year of unprecedented success for the cause. Still, I have my lingering doubts. While I ponder Dumbledore's interpretation, I will tread cautiously. I suspect they will begin training the boy in earnest, in anticipation of a final battle in his seventh year. They may believe that they have time. I may need to strike before then.' Returning to the Death Eater in front of him, he said, "Antonin will be returning in two days time to be reunited with his daughter. He is bringing with him more supporters. They will be green, but they will replenish our ranks. I am also considering several initiatives, including one from the young Frenchwoman who served as my eyes at Gringott's. A pity I did not view her memory sooner, else I would have learned that the Bones girl had been at St. Mungo's. My spies in the Ministry report that she has been moved to Hogwart's already. Ms. Beaucourt has a theory on how it may be possible to launch an attack against the Order's Headquarters. Would you like to hear it?"

Snape arched an eyebrow and smiled at his master. "Of course, Milord. Nothing could make me happier."

Lord Voldemort shifted imperceptibly to a less painful position in his chair at the command table and began to explain the plan. For a moment he allowed a smile to cross his thin mostly colorless lips. 'The Dark Lord Voldemort - Magic's True Champion'. The phrase had a rather pleasing sound to it.


Rufus Scrimgeour sat at his desk. The latest reports on Death Eater activities, budget expenditure requests and a half eaten tuna on wheat sandwich were strewn about his desk along with Citations for Heroism for Bell, Jordan and Weasley. He hurriedly signed his name to the Citations and gave them to Jennings to be sent to the memorial service. Arthur Weasley had been called to the office, where the Minister personally expressed his condolences. Rufus had always thought the man to be a bit of a loon with his muggle obsessions, but respected his dedication to the job. The man's eyes lacked a certain spark that was usually present. It was understandable. In a few short weeks he had lost two of his sons and his family was seen as some of Dumbledore's staunchest supporters. Out of respect for the wishes of the Weasley family, Rufus was sending the citations and a prepared statement to the ceremony. Scrimgeour had offered to make a speech, but Arthur asked in the name of his family and the others that the service be about the lives of those lost and not the war looming ahead.

Returning to the tuna sandwich, he looked at the recent reports of fighting. The aurors and the auror auxiliary force had engaged Death Eaters or their supporters three times in the past week. Casualties were light on both sides and the outcome was inconclusive. This seemed to be a shift in the pattern. It made him wonder who was now commanding the attacks. At first fighting them to a draw could be seen as a victory and he had pounced on the good news.

Rufus then realized that success could be a double-edged sword, as his calls to institute a full-scale draft were now meeting significant resistance. Too late he concluded that the recent spate of battles were in fact just a series of meaningless feints to weaken his mobilization argument. His counterpart in the Death Eater's forces was now changing tactics, with the real battle being fought on the floor of the Wizengamot. Some of the mobilization opponents cited the massive cost, others the human cost of a large and unprepared force trying to fight a smaller and more mobile force, and still others made passionate arguments to allow the auror auxiliary force a chance to prove themselves. The destruction of the werewolves and the spider colony could not have come at a worse time for his administration, politically. His initial response had been to downplay the story, but the people were desperate for any nugget of good news.

Naturally, the role of the centaurs had been changed to 'forces aligned with the Ministry'. Of course, the acromantulas being dark creatures were obviously there courting the Dark Lord's favor. The truth would require too many explanations to the public. The truth also gave Rufus a renewed respect for the venerable headmaster. After years of Fudge's half-truths, he had begun to believe that Dumbledore was slipping. That clearly was not true. It was tempting to release a few details of Dumbledore's injuries, but keeping him sequestered until he is more 'presentable' was probably best. The reaction of the general public would be too hard to gauge. On one hand, it could generate the necessary panic to force his draft proposal through, but on the other hand, it could create 'panic in the streets'.

He gave a cursory glance over the speech to be broadcast over the Wireless this evening. He made several notes in the margin of the parchment about losing some of the highbrow vocabulary. Apparently the speechwriter was forgetting his directives. Rufus didn't want to sound like a smooth and refined politician. That was Fudge's method. He wanted to sound more in touch with the everyday wizard and witch. At the top of the speech he wrote more detailed instructions.

Mr. Sinnelli,

Fix this now! The speech needs to sound more conversational and less like a politician stumping for votes. This makes the second time I have had to tell you to CUT THE FLOWERY LANGUAGE SHIT OUT! There will not be a third time.


As his winged envelope left his desk, two others arrived. The first was more meaningless bureaucratic drivel. The second was from Lawton in Muggle relations. The Prime Minister of the Muggles has requested an update. It was at times like this, he wished he stayed an auror.


The Black Flags hung over the Great Hall once again, reminding everyone of Cedric Diggory's death. Unlike before each of the houses were represented on the flags. No current Slytherin students had been reported dead over the summer, but Blaise Zabini and possibly several others was widely rumored to be a 'guest' of the Dark Lord along with Marcia Compton as threats against their prominent families.

Susan sat in the second row of chairs with Harry at her side. He did not want to speak in front of these people, but could not refuse Arthur's request. He told Susan that he owed it to Lee, Katie, Tony Goldstein and hell even that pompous git Smith! Susan's hand brushed up against his as she calmed him. The cane she was using to help her walk almost slipped and clattered to the floor. Harry caught it just in time. She shot him an embarrassed smile of thanks.

The tension between Harry and the Abbott sisters was tangible. Susan had caught on to it immediately. It put her into an uncomfortable position between overprotective best friend and secretive fiancée. Honestly, Susan did not approve of Harry spending several hours alone with Ginny 'The Leech' Weasley. She had asked Harry for an explanation. He had asked her for five more days and then he would explain what he was doing and the need for secrecy to her. That was four days ago. Grudgingly, she accepted this. Hannah on the other hand, was livid and could barely stand to be in the room with Harry. Chelsea was very protective of her emotional older sibling and had made some very nasty comments over the last four days to both Harry and Ginny, both of whom put up an emotionless mask to the insults. Susan finally had to drag both Hannah and Chelsea into one of the rooms and tell them to back off of Harry. She could care less about Ginny. Neither of her dear friends looked very happy. Hannah directly said that she thinks Harry is cheating on her.

Harry and Susan were staying in Ravenclaw with the rest of the students while Susan healed. The two of them had been given the first year boy's dorm, so Susan would not have to stress her healing foot and ankle that much. Terry Boot and Kevin Turpin gave it up without being asked. Susan made sure to thank them. Surprisingly enough, the headmaster overruled McGonagall and allowed Harry and Susan to continue to cohabitate. Harry said that without this arrangement, he would have taken Susan back to #12. It didn't stop the whistles and knowing looks as he helped her get to the dorm room. 'Like anything was happening right now anyway!' Susan thought sarcastically. Harry was treating her like a broken china doll. It was upsetting, but her healer and Madame Pomfrey had both warned her against over exertion and both she and Harry agreed that their 'exertions' might be a bit too much for a week. They still shared the same bed and sought safety and comfort in each other's arms, though she was initially a bit frosty towards him the first night when he came back from four hours alone with 'The Leech'.

She had accompanied Harry into the Room of Requirement each day to watch him practice with Professor Flitwick. Harry had said the first few days they spent looking at memories of both his and Voldemort's fights and noting their strengths. Susan asked and had been allowed to see the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort. It was a level of magic she had only ever dreamed of. She was miserable for the rest of the day, claiming her foot was bothering her, when inside she was horrified that Harry would have to face that monster in battle. Hearing the headmaster describe the killing curse as 'pedestrian', made Susan worry about what kind of spells those two wizards had in their arsenals. All her intended had was five years of questionable schooling, a handful of auror training manuals and a couple of books that were probably on the Ministry's banned list.

Flitwick continued to be fascinated by Harry's corporeal patronus. The day before Susan was allowed to leave St. Mungo's, Harry had performed it for the entire teaching staff and several ministry officials down in the Great Hall. The Arithmancers used their detection equipment on it and set to the long and arduous task of determining how to extract the magical equation that would allow other magical folk to perform this feat. Harry didn't have to say anything, but she knew he hated the spotlight. Just like now after Elise Bell had finished a heart-rending story about her daughter Katie and the things she found joyful in her all too short life. Harry was making his way to the podium.

All the members of the Weasley, Bell and Jordan families had spoken. Susan had allowed her loathing of Ginny to be put aside while the young girl barely made it through her speech and had to be helped off the stage by her father. Fred had made a couple of strained jokes about his twin, but he was obviously hurting.

"I was asked by Professor Dumbledore, who cannot be with us today to speak today not only on the behalf of Lee, Katie and Fred, but primarily in the name of Rubeus Hagrid. Some would say that he was a half-giant, but I say he was a giant among men. Early in his career here, he was expelled for a crime he did not commit. The sad truth is the thing that perpetrated that crime went on to become the one we fight. Still he made his way in this life becoming the gamekeeper here for a long tenure and finally becoming the professor for Care of Magical Creatures. When my parents were killed, it was Hagrid that took me away from that ruined house and when it came time for me to rejoin the magical world it was Hagrid who came for me again. He bought my owl as a birthday present for me. He tried to get me to eat those awful rock cakes. He put me on a hippogriff and told me to fly. I have so many stories about a man who was like an uncle to me, yet I also realize that I do not have enough and will not get any more. He was already dying when he went into battle as I later discovered. I will read a passage from his last letter to me."

Harry paused before continuing. "That's another thing I have to thank you for. He's just Tom Riddle. The same rotten bastard that turned me and Aragog in and got himself a pretty little award, when it was really him all along. He took away my chance at being a real wizard, so tonight is payback time. I'm not afraid of him anymore because I'm already dead. My body just doesn't know it yet. You've been standing up to him since you were one and tonight I won't be afraid of him or anything else."

"In the end Rubeus Hagrid stood face to face with this so-called Dark Lord and with little more than two years of schooling, an axe and almost beat him. That is heroism. I saw the same heroism from Katie, when I watched her in Angelina's memories. She was scared, but in her eyes I saw determination and courage. He offered her a chance to join his twisted cause and she refused him and everything he stood for. That is heroism. When that grotesque perversion of humanity, tried to kidnap Fred, Lee Jordan and George Weasley went for their wands without hesitation. Their only concern was Fred's welfare. That is heroism. I salute their heroism and say a prayer in their names and the names of the other classmates lost this summer - Anthony Goldstein and Zacharias Smith. I hope for a day when the world doesn't require it's heroes to make such a sacrifice, but that day isn't coming anytime soon. I would add to all those stories you have heard already, but I will leave that to others for I find myself empty inside."

Susan watched through her own tears as Harry started walking back to his seat next to her. Tears rolled down his face freely and he made no move to wipe them away. Professor McGonagall stopped him on her way up to the podium and the two briefly exchanged words that made both smile slightly.

When Harry sat back down she put her arm around him and squeezed him tightly. He steadied himself and gave Susan a smile. She watched him look over to his other friends and meet their gaze. Susan watched the exchange and she couldn't help but notice his eyes locked on Ginny's. He nodded at her and mouthed something. She nodded back and Susan could see the anger through the tears.

Harry turned to Susan, "I'm going to need your help tonight." From the sound of things, Susan was about to get her answers.


After the ceremony Ginny spent a little time with her family, but then begged off to spend some time alone. She needed to get away. She headed to one of her favorite spots to sit and think. It was a window with a view across the lake. She pulled a chair over in front of the window. She sat there and shed tears for her brother, Luna, Lee and Katie. The last few days had been the worst of her life. She never thought it could be worse than her second year, but it was. Her 'project' with Harry had almost broken her. Her nightmares were back in full force. As she drifted off to sleep leaning against the window the only happy thought in her head was 'at least my debt to Harry Potter has been paid in full'. She had her 'freedom'. The cost would haunt her for months to come.

"Wake up Weasley." A hand shook her. The sun had set. Ginny groggily came to. She checked her watch. It was almost eight-thirty. She was late. Wiping the sleep out of her eyes, she looked at the owner of the hands that were shaking her. 'Great it's the Abbott sisters.'

"I don't have time for this! I'm late. Let me go!" She made to leave, but all four hands were now restraining her.

"Yes, late for another rendezvous with our friend's fiancée. It's time for some answers you little slut. Make it easy on yourself and tell us or don't. Either way I am going to find out." Chelsea said.

"Leave me alone! I'll scream!"

"Privacy dome, scream all you want. What, Puffs can't be cunning and prepared? Looks like we're doing this the hard way. Hannah body bind her."

Ginny struggled to get to her wand. It was missing, already removed before they woke her. Seconds later she was frozen into a full body bind. They propped her back up against the wall. The reality of what they were about to do hit her.

"You should have just told us, bint. Legilmens!"

Chelsea plowed into Ginny's mind. With Ginny's magic trying to fight the body bind, it was even easier to get into the Gryffindor's mind. She had no defenses and Chelsea's promise to the headmaster to never use her skills during school didn't count because technically school wasn't in session. She burrowed through embarrassing images searching for specific images of Harry Potter. The girl was fighting, but she was losing quickly. There! She locked onto the memory. Harry was standing in Ginny's dorm room.

"Fine what's your plan, Harry?" Harry handed her a book from the folds of his robe - Possession: Nine Tenths of My Law.

"I found this book in my library. I was looking for a way to prevent Voldemort, oh for Merlin's sake it's just a name! I was looking for a way to prevent him from trying to possess me again. When I was reading it, I discovered that it is relatively easy to possess someone that owes you a life debt."

"What! Why would you want to possess me?" Chelsea was certain her own expression of horror matched Ginny's in her memory.

"Not you. Pettigrew. I'm going to control him, get close enough to Riddle and kill him."

"What do you need me for?"

"This is going to sound sick, but I need to practice on someone. If you voluntarily help me, I can do it several times to get the feel of how to properly do it. Once I get the hang of it, I'll have you resist me. I get one shot at an involuntary possession. It will dissolve the life debt, so I have to make sure I can do it correctly."

"You don't know what you're asking Harry. I don't know if I can do this."

"I do know what I am asking. I've got a chance to end this once and for all. I have to try. The only other people that owe me life-debts are Susan and your father. Maybe Bill, but he and I haven't discussed it yet really. Your father would go to Dumbledore and I am marrying Susan. I need your help, simple as that. I don't want any more friends to die. Please help me?"

"Can you really kill him, Harry? It's one thing when you are in a fight. Are you sure you can walk up to him and kill him in cold blood?" Ginny asked looking up from the hands covering her eyes.

"I will kill him. I'll stick Peter's wand in his back and blow a quaffle-sized hole right through him. Kill him and the war ends. His lackeys will scatter like cockroaches. If the ministry catches Snape, I'm going to ask Scrimgeour to let me execute him. I can probably get the same deal for you if they get their hands on Lucius Malfoy. Merlin knows he deserves it! If you want money too, I'll arrange it. Say the word and I'll open a vault in your name and put whatever you want in there. Help me end this war Ginny, please."

"I'll do it, Harry. I don't want any money. I'll do it for Luna. I'm ready to give my oath."

Chelsea was suddenly thrown violently out of Ginny's mind. She was shocked at what they had been doing, it was probably the darkest magic she had ever heard of.

"Hannah, we've got to find the headmaster. He needs to know what Potter is doing!"

Ginny broke out of the body bind and started screaming in pain. "Aahhh!!! It hurts! Make it stop!"

"What wrong with her?" Hannah asked. Their plan was going awry. They had intended to get the information and obliviate her and go to Susan with their suspicions confirmed. Whatever was going on certainly wasn't part of the plan.

"She swore an oath to Harry. We made her break the oath. Her own magic is torturing her."

"Stun her! We'll take her to the infirmary. It'll give us a way to talk to Professor Dumbledore."


Susan exclaimed, "You've been doing what!"

"I know it sounds bad, but I've got to try. Dumbledore and Hagrid hurt him. He might still be weak. Pettigrew owes me a debt and I intend to collect. Dumbledore would probably want me to wait and hope that the rat would throw himself in front of a killing curse or something. I've got a shot to finish this and there is no way he could suspect this." Harry was drawing a runic circle with chalk that had been immersed in a potion made from Harry's blood, raw fire crab flesh, and Pettigrew's rat hairs retrieved from a cage stored in the attic of the Burrow. Thank Merlin, the Weasleys never seem to throw anything away! Dobby was kind enough to retrieve them for Harry and not ask any questions.

Harry thought back to his possessions of Ginny. It was a powerful euphoria controlling someone. Occulmency was critical to controlling stray thoughts. Harry learned quickly, when Ginny suddenly removed her clothes on the first night. On the second night he started practicing casting spells as Ginny. It was tricky at first, but he learned fast. Soon Ginny's wand was weaving complex spells she had never heard of before. The spells were weaker then when Harry was in his own body. He would have to compensate for that. By all accounts, Pettigrew is magically pathetic. Last night, she fought his control with everything she had and kept on fighting. He was able to control her for twenty minutes before, he was forced out and there was a brief flare of magic that signified her debt to him had been dissolved. Like most nights, he left first so Ginny would have time to have a private cry and compose herself.

He looked up from a copy of the rough floor plan of Riddle's headquarters that had been created from Penny's interrogation. He would have to move quickly through the house. Depending on where Peter was, Harry might try to free the prisoners first and take them to the portkey area, but his number one target was Riddle. He positioned the charmed mirror in the center of the possession circle and fluffed the cushion he was going to be laying on during his time out of his body.

"Is there any way to talk you out of this?"

"No. I don't want to give any more eulogies. I can end this tonight. Support me on this. I know it's asking a lot."

"If that's what it takes to end this war, then do it. When this is over, no more of this Dark Arts business! I mean it. I've watched you cast Unforgivables and now this. I don't want to marry a Dark Wizard, but I do want to marry you."

"Thank you, Susan." Harry said giving her a kiss. He looked over at the Marauder's Map. "It looks like Ginny isn't going to come. She's still sitting by that window. She said she wanted to be here, but the ceremony today must have overwhelmed her. I am going to seal the door. You might want to relax and read something. Stay off your foot, so no pacing. It is going to take about thirty minutes to get into the right meditative state. Don't disturb me until I am back."

"I believe in you. Now go kill that fucker."

"Language Miss Bones."

"Yes, where exactly am I picking up all these expressions lately? Perhaps from my foul-mouthed fiancée?"


The body of Peter Pettigrew stumbled in the hallway and caught himself reflexively. He was taller than Ginny, but still shorter than his normal body and much heavier. He paused for a moment and examined the silver hand. It felt odd, like wearing three gloves on that hand. It was peculiar.

Harry attempted to figure out where he was. There were steps leading down in front of him. He started down them.

There was a desk and a person sitting at it. He must be at the cell area. The DE at the desk looked surprised and quickly put the magazine he was reading away. Harry caught the name of the magazine and recognized it from the 'Ritchie Coote' collection of magical pornography that circulated through the boy's dormitories - Busty Beach Veela.

"Which cells are occupied?"

"Cells ten through twelve have a new batch of pretty little muggle birds in them for entertainment, Mr. Pettigrew. Cells two through five have 'guests of the Master' and you should know better than I what that means." The man was in his early twenties and spoke with an Eastern European accent. 'Drumstrang, no doubt.'

Harry looked at the row of keys behind him. "I want to speak to the Compton girl."

"Just speak? You know she has the Master's protection."


"Okay, sir let me unlock the key rack." The Death Eater tapped the rack with his wand and muttered a spell.

"Stupefy!" Harry said stunning the guard and dragged his body over to empty an empty cell. He paused a second and took a deep breath. "Diffindo!" The cutting charm opened the unconscious man's throat and blood began to pour out. Harry felt nauseous, but if he could kill some nameless Death Eater in cold blood he could easily kill their master. He shut the cell door behind him.

He looked in each of the four cells containing a 'guest'. Blaise Zabini looked up at him from a Runes book the boy was reading. Marcia Compton looked like she was asleep. He didn't recognize the witch in cell four and much to his surprise looking a bit worse for wear in cell five was Viktor Krum. Harry had heard that he was recovering in seclusion from an injury. Originally, Harry was going to give the Death Eater's wand to Marcia, but there was a reason Viktor was a Triwizard champion.

He opened the cell door. "Viktor?"

"I still have no intention of joining you, vermin." Viktor replied.

"Do you want to get out of here?"

"What game is this?"

Harry had a lie prepared. "Polyjuice and the game is called jailbreak."

"Who are you?"

Harry had no intention of telling either Compton or Zabini his identity, but this was different. "You once asked me what my intentions towards Hermione Granger were. Right after that Barty Crouch Senior came stumbling through the bushes."

"Harry Potter! How is this possible?" Viktor's eyes were wide with surprise.

"Magic, pretty useful stuff - if you ask me. Are we going to play twenty questions or are we going to do a jailbreak?"


"Here's a wand and the keys to the other cells. There's a bunch of muggles in the last few cells and a dead guard in the first cell. Once we round up everyone, it's up the stairs, past the first junction and left at the second junction. The designated portkey and apparition point is there. Take a portkey to Hogsmeade and contact Hogwarts. Got it?" Viktor nodded.

Harry helped Viktor open the cells. The muggles would definitely have to be oblivated. Viktor kept a silencing charm over them. Harry led the way and Viktor followed at the rear. Harry handed Viktor the girly magazines. When Viktor looked at him strangely, "Turn them into Portkeys and get out of here?" Viktor quickly made a portkey and had Compton take three of the muggle girls with her. Zabini took the other two girls and the older witch with him.

"We should go now, Harry."

"You go, Viktor. I have a second mission."

"Then I will come to."

"I look like his right hand man. I'm going to kill him. You'd be a dead giveaway. Go! Neither Zabini or Compton have a wand. You need to get to them." There was a crack of an apparition and both Harry and Viktor fired stunners and dropped the Death Eater in his tracks. "Take him with you. They might be able to get some information from him."

"Good luck, Harry. Strike him down." Viktor said offering his hand. Harry took it and watched the quidditch star and his prisoner disappear.

Harry returned to the corridor. He saw Lucius Malfoy sneer at him and start down the hallway towards the prison cells. 'Damn! More delays!' Harry said turning back towards the prison cells.

"Following me Rat?"

"No, Malfoy." Lucius started down the steps. Harry waited until he got to the bottom and stunned him.

The silver hand was remarkably strong as he dragged Lucius into second cell. Harry used the lacero charm to completely sever the man's head. 'Scum like him doesn't deserve to bleed to death. Sorry, I can't save him for you Gin.' Just like that, Harry had executed his second person in cold blood. He found he didn't mind it one bit. In the mind he could begin to feel Peter struggling with him trying to wrest control. He needed to hurry. Quickly he started back up the stairs. He needed to get to the central chamber and locate Riddle.

Rounding the corner, he stepped into the chamber. He was in luck. Riddle was over at one of the bookshelves looking at some tomes.

"Good evening, Peter. I trust all is well."

Harry bowed his head and answered trying to make his voice sound meek, "Yes, Master."

"Very good. I was looking for some reading material before I retire for the evening," Riddle said turning back to the bookshelves. The silver hand and wand emerged from the folds of Pettigrew's robes. The irony of the Tommy getting killed by the silver hand he had made was delicious. Harry chose his curse - the blasting curse /Tonare/. It was simple, powerful and effective. It should make good on his promise to Ginny of a quaffle-sized hole in Riddle. Harry leveled his wand at the back of the man responsible for so much pain and agony in his life. Only two meters separated them. He could feel Peter clawing away desperately trying to throw him out of this wretched body. 'Too late Wormtail, your master dies now!'


Voldemort tilted his head studying the books on the shelf as he still tried to hide his ragged breathing. Sleep would be nice, but the pain from his ribs was keeping him awake. He would try reading for a while to tire his weary body out. If it didn't work, he would then try meditation. Too many pain potions made him lightheaded. He needed a boring topic.

'Perfect! Better Living Through Magical Herbs! As boring a subject as there ever was. Though, it would be easier to just ask Peter to kill me now?' He thought sarcastically.

As if in response, Voldemort heard Peter's voice behind him and felt the swirl of magical energy, "Tonare!"


Is it horrible for me to end the chapter there? Probably. Did any of you even consider this as Harry's plan? Hopefully, the twists and turns continue to surprise you. Take a moment and let me know what you think. Full discussion on Darklordpotter. ~ Jim
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