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Harry Potter and the Council of Souls



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Old October 28th, 2007, 12:07 am
Mumblecow  Undisclosed.gif Mumblecow is offline
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Harry Potter and the Council of Souls

I wrote this peice of fan-fiction for fun. As it is 77 pages, I'm going to hazard a guess that you will not want to read all of it, but I would appreciate it if you gave me some constructive criticism. (It is a fifteen chapter story.) Enjoy, and please comment.

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CHAPTER ONE

APOCALYPTIC AFTERMATH
Harry Potter looked out the window of the Gryffindor dormitory. He had been longing for some peace and quiet, and here it was. But it didn’t seem very great. A large number of innocent people had died. Harry’s friends. He decided that he’d better take a walk to clear out his mind. The whole of Hogwarts was cheering and celebrating. Voldemort had been defeated at last. Parents were hugging their children. Although parts of the building were ruined, Professor Flitwick was doing a rather good job putting everything back together. Harry strolled by all the people, and many waved and cheered to him. He was reminded of the time in his fifth year when everybody finally realized he was a hero. Harry stopped by the edge of the lake. Hagrid was happily slicing pumpkins for the end-of-term feast. Harry didn’t stop to tell him there would probably be no feast, as this was a time for mourning. Hermione and Ron were sitting on two large rocks near the lake, talking about something. Harry solemnly walked over to greet them. “Hi,” Harry said. “Er…hi,” answered Ron, who had swallowed the toast he was eating, “You startled me for a second there.”
“D’you guys fancy a walk?”
“Sure,” said Hermione and Ron at the same time.
Ron placed his toast on a smaller rock, then stood up with Hermione and Harry.
They walked back up to the Forbidden Forest, and started down the side, so as not to disturb any of its inhabitants. Harry felt dazed, almost as if he had dreamed Voldemort’s defeat. But everything suddenly felt good. It was almost as if Harry had had a normal seventh year at Hogwarts, instead of running around, hiding from Death Eaters, and trying sincerely to kill Lord Voldemort. And Harry was glad about this. Voldemort had maimed his childhood, his future of growing up with a family. Now, Harry was back with Ron and Hermione, carefree. It all seemed so new. Voldemort had been destroyed perfectly.
“Harry, you seem so deep in thought. What is it?” Hermione asked him worriedly.
“Nothing,” he said, quickly wiping his mind clean of the Voldemort-related troubles.
They walked on, into the thick trees in the Forbidden forest. Nobody mentioned Voldemort. Nobody mentioned the terrible things that had happened in the past days. Instead, they decided to discuss happy things. Ron talked about how Percy was studying spells, back at home at the Burrow. He was planning to someday become Minister of Magic.
“Bit ambitious, but hey, least he’s made up with mum and dad,” remarked Ron, shaking his head.
“So they’re speaking now?” asked Hermione, remembering three years ago when Percy Weasley insulted his parents for helping Dumbledore, and left the house to live in London.
“Yeah. I reckon all of these deaths might have meant something, they’ve brought us all…er…closer together. Fred would’ve been glad…”
Ron’s voice trailed off. It was the first time he had openly mentioned that his brother, Fred Weasley had died. Hermione gave him Ron an awkward half-hug, while Harry patted him on the back. They fell silent, and said no more, as there was nothing more to be said. What had happened had happened, and there was no going back. Morning dew littered the ground, and Harry felt a soothing feeling, as if all was good in the world.
The only sound to be heard was the quiet footsteps of the three friends, trotting off into the evil-free world.


THREE MONTHS LATER…


CHAPTER TWO

THE PLOTTING OF THE NIGHT

Harry was sleeping in his home in Godric’s Hallow. Nobody was there, and all was quiet. The home had been hidden from all prying Muggle eyes, and only Harry could see it. Little did he know that miles away from this safe suburban home, a group of weary Death Eaters were creating a conspiracy. If anybody were to guess a spot that the followers of an evil man would come to meet, nobody would have ever figured out their location. After all, had Lord Voldemort not fallen to his demise a short time ago? No men in their right minds would attempt to bring back the dead. But these men were not ordinary. They were wizards. Wizards with one thing in common: the urge to seek revenge.
Indeed, somewhere in a small village, three men were having a discussion inside a muddy, deserted hut. Years and years ago, a family had lived here. It had been more than a hut then, a large home, welcoming to the everyday visitor. The family of four, the Shunpikes, had been quite superstitious. A sign of this lifestyle was their house, which had no ladders at all, due to a rumor Mr. Shunpike had heard at his day job, the Bureau of Magical Maintenance, which dealt with carpentry and related things. One day, Mrs. Shunpike was awaiting her husband’s arrival. Hours passed. No sign of him. And then, at precisely nine fifty-four at night, there was a rough knock coming from the other side of the Shunpike’s wooden door. Letting her breath out in out deep puff, Mrs. Shunpike opened the door. Voices were what awaited her.
“He had it coming, old Shunny boy.”
“No, really, he was a good man. Why did you – ahhh!”
There was a piercing shriek in the cold night air, followed by a flash of green light. Mrs. Shunpike gasped. Had something happened to her husband? This was one of those times where she wished she was a witch, instead of a Squib. Then she would have been able to take on those- those… thoughts of hatred flooded her, and she stuck her head out the door.
“I don’t know who you are, or where you come from, but what did you do with my husband?!”
There was silence.
“Answer me, you soulless-”
And then she stopped, as a high-pitched cackle broke through the darkness. Mrs. Shunpike squinted, she saw a hand…it was reaching for something…yes, definitely a wand. She turned to run, but the cold, high voice hissed, “Avada Kedavra!”
From then to a period of time afterwards, the house was empty, until the eldest son of the family, Stan, moved out of it to find a job. The younger Shunpike son, Steve, sold the house to a Muggle real estate company. Nobody was able to explain the deaths. They had at first taken Stan into custody, for he had been previously been seen practicing charms on one of the villagers. But no Muggle jail could hold Shunpike, and he managed to escape to his home, where he kept under a few strict spells to keep the Muggle policeman from finding him. Steve had not been too fond of his older brother’s company. One day, they had an argument.
“I’m trying to sell this house, I can’t do so with you and your stupid security jinxes. Move out or I might have to report you to those polishmen, whatever they’re called.”
“Listen, when father died, I became the man of the house.”
“It’s not your ruddy house!”
“Well, then what should I do?”
“Get a job, get a real life. Just leave me out of it.”
With this comment, Steve stormed from the room. About a month later, Stan was packed and he left the house. He also left his previous life, to go on and join the bold defenders of pure-bloodedness. The Death Eaters.
This house had been home to nothing but graying moss and dust bunnies for a long time, until three Death Eaters had moved into its unwelcoming shelter. There names were Draco Malfoy, Samson Fennigs, and Crowley Crabbe. Somehow, the Malfoy family had persuaded two supporters of Lord Voldemort to help avenge the fallen lord. The room filled with a musty air as Malfoy paced down the hall, stroking a dark crimson snake. He held his nose upright, and Crabbe could easily see that his cousin was right, this boy was spoiled and prejudiced.
“It’s been eighteen years, and I still have not served my purpose to the Lord. But how? How can I serve him? What is there to be done for a man of great accomplishment?”
Fennigs, a dark-skinned man of about twenty, spoke up.
“Draco, the Lord was a great wizard. He faced things that no mortal ever dared to attempt. But he was no good man. Did the Dark Lord not rip apart your family? And also, how many times must we explain? He is dead. It is as simple as that. Volde-“
“Don’t you dare speak his name, you despicable oaf! You did not help him succeed. You were safe, at home. Probably hoping for Potter.”
Malfoy said the word “Potter” with a hateful glare, as if this unfortunate boy was no more than a slobbering bull hound. In mid-step, Malfoy stopped and thought over what he had just said.
“Would it be considered a good deed for the fallen master if I killed Potter?”
At these words, Crabbe, who was usually quite silent, snorted. He had been a second-cousin of one of Malfoy’s old school friends, and he was proud to be so. His cousin had died fighting for Lord Voldemort, and this made him want to live up to Vincent Crabbe’s assistance to the Lord.
“You think my ideas are funny, do you Crowley? I reckon you are too cowardly to finish your cousin’s work.”
Crabbe instantly stopped. He had never known what his cousin had accomplished, and he was yearning to finally find out. Yet Malfoy went on, not looking at Crabbe.
“But, whaddid my cousin do?”
“Clumsy oaf; killed himself in the end…”
Now Crowley Crabbe was shaking with fury.
“Yes, that is what I shall do. Fennigs, will you assist me in bringing Potter to his untimely demise?”
Fennigs shrugged his shoulders and said, “Most certainly, Draco.”
Malfoy looked pleased. He already had one helper, and surely Potter wouldn’t be able to destroy a force held together by one thread, a thread of need. Need to avenge Lord Voldemort. Yes, the “Chosen One” could not be so elusive this time. The luck was with them this time.
All three friends raised there glasses and said, “To the end of Harry Potter, the boy who lived. To the Dark Lord, who will soon be avenged by our willingness to serve. And to Draco Malfoy, who will triumph over the others, who will do what the almighty Voldemort never could. Kill the filthy half-blooded Potter.”
They paused for a short moment to fully appreciate these words, and then continued with the toast.
With a clink of three glasses simultaneously coming in contact, miles away, the boy named Harry Potter awoke to a pain in his magical scar. A scar that he had not expected to hurt in a long time. A scar that symbolically represented the life feud against Voldemort, and the Boy Who Lived.


CHAPTER THREE

WHAT NEVER HAPPENED
Harry felt his forehead. It appeared to be cold, yet he had felt a burning sensation scarcely seconds ago. Groping for his glasses in the dark, Harry’s hand came in contact with them, and he grabbed his wand.
“Lumos,” Harry muttered. A small drop of light appeared at the tip of his wand. Harry used this light to find his lamp. Pulling the cord, he said, “Nox.” The light from the wand vanished, and he was again in mostly darkness. Around Harry’s bed lay a pair of emerald green dress robes, a yellowing map of Hogwarts, a few pairs of old socks, and some Muggle clothing which he donned when in non-magical territory. Next to these objects was the photo album Hagrid, a half-giant, had given to him when Harry was only eleven.
With a grunt, Harry swung his legs over the side of his bed and got up. An owl flew through the window, and he snatched a piece of parchment from its talons.
Harry,
Ron and Hermione tell me you’ve been living in your parents’ old house. How are you holding up? Scar not bothering, I assume? Anyway, the Weasleys told me to inform you about their holiday to Romania. Charlie’s friends are gonna take them on a tour. Do you fancy going? Send your response by return owl. Which brings me to another thing; I got you this new owl. She’s named Gilvon, and I would like to give her to you.
Cheers,
Rubeus hagrid
The barely legible handwriting, along with its message, made Harry smile for the first time in days. He didn’t know what was keeping him so unhappy, Voldemort had been defeated and the dementors were back in Ministry control, so they couldn’t be sucking the happiness out of Harry. Pushing his gloomy thoughts to the back of his head, Harry wrote quickly, and somewhat more sloppily than he would have usually done:
Okay, Hagrid, I’ll go. Tell Mrs. Weasley I said hi.
Harry stuffed five pairs of jeans, three sweaters, and four T-shirts into a duffel bag. He also packed a book Ron had given him a year ago, along with his holly wand, a Nimbus Two-Thousand Four (he had lost his Firebolt when he was sixteen), and a thick Elder Wand, which he had taken from Voldemort a few months ago.
When satisfied with his luggage, Harry slung the duffel bag onto a bedside table and waited for his new owl, Gilvon, to return. A few hours later, the red-brown owl soured through Harry’s window, and landed on his dresser.
“About time,” Harry muttered, but the bird took no notice. She simply stuck out her foot, which had a tattered note attached to it. Harry’s eyes rose as he saw the letter.
Harry you have to leave! Death Eaters intercepted your letter; they’re coming to Godric’s Hollow!
Harry stared at the paper in horror for a few seconds. Then he turned it over.
Sorry, Harry. I had to do that to make sure you were the real Harry. If the enemy had truly found your owl, they would not bother to read this side, they would come to Godric’s Hollow after you. As you know very well Death Eaters are no more, as is You-Know-Who, we have nothing to worry about. Come to King’s Cross right now, we’re all waiting. Mr. Weasley has enclosed a portkey with this message.
Harry was now not scared, but greatly confused. If there were no longer any followers of Voldemort, than who were the enemies? And what Portkey? Then he noticed the owl, which appeared to be choking on something. “Scourgify!” murmured Harry distractedly. He stared back at the letter. Then he looked at the object that had just thudded to his feet. A Muggle car battery. Harry remembered how Mr. Weasley collected batteries, and laughed. All of a sudden, something occurred to him. The battery was the Portkey! He grabbed it, and felt the familiar feeling of a hook yanking him off his feet.
Harry landed on the rails of a train track. An express locomotive was speeding at him. Just in time, he grabbed his wand, and hollered, “Petrificus Totalus!” It worked surprisingly well, but of course he may have merely stunned the conductor of the train. When Harry was out of the way, he cast the counter-jinx on the train to get it moving again. Then he hoisted himself up and saw the smiling face of his best friend, Ron Weasley.
“Blimey Barny, your hair got darker.”
“Oh, shut up,” Harry said, grinning. Then Hermione ran up and hit him with a hug so hard she almost knocked Harry back onto the train tracks.
“Harry, we’ve missed you; where’ve you been; has anything happened?”
“God Hermione, give the guy a chance to breathe.”
Harry smiled, and then filled Ron and Hermione in on what he had been. Hermione was very interested on the Anti-Muggle shielding charms that had been put on the house. Ron was interested in Harry’s new broom, which he had received from Neville Longbottom as a birthday present.
“A Nimbus Two Thousand-Four? Not close to the speed of the Firebolt II, but I hear they hold together pretty well.”
Hermione rolled her eyes as Harry and Ron went into deep discussion about the new models of brooms, and which team had ordered how many of which model. This chat ended when the Weasleys walked over.
“Hi, Harry!” said Arthur, enthusiastically extending his hand, “Did you see the work I did on that car baggabe? Hope you weren’t much shaken up, sorry, I must’ve accidentally dropped it on the tracks while transporting it.”
“Harry, you look starved! Have you been eating enough lately?” exclaimed Mrs. Weasley.
“Harry ol’ chap, what’s up?” asked George, “You get ’ear okay?”
Harry put on his most realistic smile as he shook hands with and hugged all the Weasleys. When he saw Percy, George secretly jinxed off Percy’s eyebrows with his wand behind his back.
“Hey, Harry!” Bill Weasley called. He and his wife, Fleur Deleclaur, were also coming to Romania with everyone else. After the hellos had stopped, Harry and the Weasleys got ready to make the routine journey to Hogwarts.
“Why are we returning to Hogwarts?” asked Harry, puzzled.
“We need to pick up Ginny, and also I want to ask Headmistress McGonagall a question or two.”
They slid through the wall to Platform 9 ¾ like gelatin, and Harry was astounded to see the Hogwarts Express just waiting there for them. The driver, who he had never seen before, showed his face. Harry squinted, but in the dim light he could just make out the face of a man who used to work at the bookstore in Diagon Alley.
They clambered aboard the train, and set off to Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione grabbed one of the rooms. George, Bill, and Fleur got a second one, and Percy, Arthur, and Molly got their own room. Harry sat down and asked his friends, “What’s happened in the last four months?”
“Not much, really,” Ron replied, “No signs of You-Know-Who, or any of that stuff.”
Hermione said, “Ronald here has been attempting to get a driver’s license.”
Ron groaned, “And I almost got one, but that git rear-ended me. He had it coming, anyway…” Ron’s voice trailed off.
“What did you do to the poor Muggle?”
“He deserved it, should’ve known when he bought that thing it couldn’t handle being flipped over.”
“You WHAT?”
Harry and Ron had a laugh about the driving application incident, while Hermione heard a noise outside. She got up and looked down the hall. Nothing. She started in a pace down to the front cabin, and then Hermione broke into a run as a hoarse voice screeched,
“Where are you, girly? Are you allllliiiiive in there? Not for long. Old Fenny has some tricks up his sleeve this time, disgusting little Mudblood.”
Hermione sent stunning curses behind her, but then, in a puff of black smoke, a figure appeared before her. It was Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf who supported Voldemort and enjoyed killing young children. She screamed, and Arthur Weasley ran out of his cabin. “Stupefy!” He bellowed, though more Death Eaters appeared. Bill, Fleur, Molly, and George opened their doors curiously.
Seeing what was happening, they joined in the fight. Ron stood up suddenly. “Where’s Hermione?” he wondered aloud. He and Harry looked at each other, and then bolted out of the room into the hall of the still-moving train. “Expelliarmus!” gasped Harry, aiming his wand at a Death Eater, who flew back and smashed the windows behind him.
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” yelled a short, fat man. Molly Weasley deflected the spell and sent a hex at the man’s head, which transfigured it into a teapot. Smoke poured out of the teapot, which gave the Death Eater the ability to quickly disapparate. “How did they know we were here?” asked Harry. “Expelliarmus.” he added as another Death Eater drew his wand.
“They must have tracked us here!” yelled Arthur over all the noise. A woman in robes of blood red sent a jet of green light at Ron, who threw himself to the floor. “Crucio!” screeched Hermione, and the woman cried out, giving Ron and Harry time to pull themselves up. Without warning, in the middle of the hall, Draco Malfoy apparated.
“Hello, Potter. Weasel. Mudblood.”
Harry acted at once, muttering, “Imperio!” Draco instantly dropped the smile. He walked towards the Death Eaters and said, “Oi! Stop fighting, we have work away from here tonight.” One by one, the men Disapparated. Harry flicked his wand once and removed the Imperius Curse. By instinct, Ron punched Malfoy in the nose.
“What da ell wash dat all aboud?” said Draco, rounding on Ron. Then he turned to Harry, “I swear dey adted on deir own, I nebber told ebbyone you were ‘ere, I dinnit know.”
Hermione said, “Harry, it looks like he’s telling the truth. Reparo,” she added, pointing her wand at Draco’s nose.
“Who are these people who were after us? Leftover Death Eaters?” demanded Harry, glaring at Malfoy.
“Actually, t-they are old friends of m-my dad’s. We formed t-the Pact of the Shadow Avengers.”
“What the bloody-” started Ron, but Malfoy cut him off.
“The Shadow Avengers are a group founded by my father. H-he ordered them to finish his bidding after the D-Dark Lord died. When he was killed two months ago in A-Azkaban, I became the leader.” Malfoy now had tears in his eyes, and for a fleeting moment Harry felt sorry for him. Then in a loud snap, Malfoy Disapparated.


CHAPTER FOUR

MINERVA McGONAGALL’S TALE
Upon arriving at Hogwarts, Harry and the Weasleys got out, trying to forget the hordes of Shadow Avengers who had ambushed them minutes before. Ron, Harry, and Hermione got out of the train, still as silent as the others. They walked out of Hogwarts station, where students were normally waited on by thestrals pulling carts. When they had finished trudging up the mucky street of Hogsmeade, the doors concurrently opened for the rain-soaked travelers.
Professor McGonagall was waiting patiently by the magical moving staircase. Arthur Weasley removed his bright orange rain jacket, and extended his hand to McGonagall. She shook it quickly, and then addressed Molly Weasley.
“I assume you will be here to pick up your daughter?”
“Yes, is she okay?” asked Molly, biting her lip.
“Of course she is fine,” assured McGonagall. She escorted them to the Griffindor commonroom, where Ginny, along with many other Griffindors were talking.
“Did you hear about Potter’s flight?”
“I reckon he faked his death for attention.”
“Would’ve been dead if Finnigan hadn’t saved his skin.”
Harry was outraged. He had nearly been killed last year, but had managed to survive to destroy Lord Voldemort with his own wand. Now they were giving Seamus Finnigan his credit?
“You do know I can hear you.”
The Griffindors turned around and gaped at Harry. A fourth-year snorted.
“So here is Potter the poser.”
This got many laughs from the Griffindors, but Harry didn’t find it too funny. He yelled, “Sectumsempra!” and slashed at a curtain with his wand. The words, “Seamus is a slimy git” appeared on the curtains. He stormed away, rejoining Ron.
“You reckon we can make it?” asked Ron.
“What d’you mean, ‘make it’?”
“Up the stairs.”
“What stairs?”
“The ones to the girls’ dormitory.”
Harry suddenly had a memory of a staircase sliding open and knocking Ron and himself off their feet, and he almost laughed. “Worth a try.”
They got ready, and then ran at the staircase as fast as they could. Surprisingly, it didn’t move. Clutching the railing, Harry cautiously walked up to the top of the tower. When they made it to the top, Ron asked, “Why you in a bad mood, anyway?” Harry explained about the argument about Seamus Finnigan, and Ron waved it away.
“Ah, who cares about Finnigan anyway?”
They walked into the dormitories, where a large ghost wheezed, “INTRUDERS! GET OUT INTRUDERS!”
“They traded the sliding staircases for this idiot?” whispered Harry to Ron. They tried not to laugh while walking past the blind ghost.
When they reached Ginny’s room, she was shaking. Hermione appeared to be comforting her. “What happened?” asked Ron loudly. Ginny was too nervous to reply, so Hermione answered for her.
“There was a man up here. He knew how to get into the dormitories. The man k-kidnapped a girl.”
“A Death Eater maybe?” was Ron’s guess.
“No,” said Harry slowly, “Remember the men on the train? It must have been one of them. The Shadow Avengers.”
They discussed this for five more minutes, glancing worriedly at one another. Their chat was broken up when Headmistress McGonagall walked into the room. “Potter! Am I glad to see you!” she nodded curtly at Ron and Hermione.
“Er…professor, s-something happened…” Ginny murmured, finally speaking up. She told McGonagall about the Shadow Avengers, and was backed up by Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
McGonagall looked frightened. “I always knew this would happen.”
“Sorry, but what do you mean?” asked a puzzled Ron.
“Lord Voldemort. He must be alive somehow. He still has servants willing to do his bidding. There must be some power that they all share. I remember… four years ago, Voldemort’s servant had returned to his side. I was the first to know. Professor Trelawney explained it. I rushed to Albus Dumbledore, and he just nodded it off. Then later I learned…it wasn’t Black. But somehow, Dumbledore knew. He knew a lot of things.
“A year later, the Death Eaters reappeared. I knew it then. They were gaining power; Voldemort must have been coming back. It was horrible, Muggles were being tortured; I even overheard Severus speaking to one of th-them at the World Cup. I had been waiting in a tent, preparing to take on whatever awful person tried to take me. But nothing happened. Then I heard voices out on the grounds. I yelled and swore at whoever was out there, but I got no response…and then I left. I left the shelter of the tent and tried to face them. Those evil, deranged… yes. I turned and I saw two men. One had long black hair, a short beard, and robes of navy blue. The other was wearing a mask. He took it off, and told Snape a thing that I didn’t hear. But afterwards, I saw the expression on Severus’ face, one filled with deep respect for whatever awful thing this man had just accomplished. I apparated to Hogsmeade immediately to warn Dumbledore. He didn’t seem to mind much; Dumbledore trusted Severus deeply. I knew, then, I know even now, that Snape’s mask had slipped.
“Severus had surely been working for Dumbledore, but I expect that he still saw Lord Voldemort’s aims as the right idea. He might have even helped him more than he had too, I do not know for sure. And then, less than a year ago, I saw Severus again. We fought; he fled like the coward I believed him to be. And then…Potter defeated the Dark Lord. With a wand Voldemort had defeated the one man he did not completely consider pointless. His one servant, yet ironically the means of his downfall. Very strange. Ah, but yes. Where were we before this started?”
Headmistress McGonagall looked around at all of them in a quizzical manner. Harry exchanged glances from Ron and Hermione. “Those Shadow Avengers people, Professor,” Harry answered.
“And they are coming to Hogwarts?” she demanded.
“Probably,” answered Hermione honestly.
McGonagall inhaled deeply before replying. “Then it has started.”


CHAPTER FIVE

THE DEMENTORS
The wind whistled gently as the fifteen-year-old Dudley Dursley walked down the ever-clean streets of Privet Drive. He was very quiet, though his friends, who were walking next to him, were laughing and whooping loudly. They turned at the stop sign near the old playground.
“Next time, Dudley.”
“See you, Big D.”
The boys departed, leaving Dudley standing stupidly on the sidewalk. He then saw somebody who made him shiver. His cousin, Harry Potter. Harry was a strange boy, he had never fit in. Dudley had actually tried to befriend him countless times when they were younger. This ended when Dudley’s father slapped him on the side of the head, roaring not to mingle with “the Potter boy.”
Dudley had doubts of if his cousin would have even wanted him for a friend; Harry seemed particularly moody, especially this summer. He didn’t see why, as Potter had nothing to worry about. He had his life made; he was even some sort of magician. Dudley was, well, just Dudley.
He approached Harry, making sure not to meet his eyes. For all he knew, Harry could be disturbed and possibly dangerous.
“Hi, Dudley,” said Harry.
“Hullo,” Dudley muttered in return.
“So, are you Big D. now? Too bad; I’ll always think of you as Ickle Duddykins. What were you and your thugs out doing? Beating up some poor nine-year-olds again?”
Dudley clenched his fists. He should have known better. Potter was, and always would be, disrespectful.
“Hey, that kid last week cheeked me.”
“Bit thick of you to take it as cheek. From what I heard, he said something about your, er, pigishness.”
“Shut up, Potter.”
“Have you been telling your mum and dad all about your outings with your gang for tea?”
“SHUT UP.”
A chilling wave of air washed over the two teenagers. Dudley shivered, and even the usually calm Harry Potter seemed tense.
No doubt it was one of Potter’s stupid spells. He always acted so…so self-absorbed. While perfect Potter was away learning magic, Dudley was stuck at home, going to a school where he was laughed at because of his obesity and shunned by teachers because he wasn’t very smart.
Dudley ran this accusation by Harry, who seemed surprised to hear it. Maybe this was out of his hands. Potter spotted something, and pulled Dudley into the closest alleyway. Dudley trembled in fear. He saw a sort of fog in the air, and then he began to black out…
He saw his home in the distance. With a cry of pain, Dudley reached out to pull himself there. He withdrew his hand, which had seemed to touch something extremely cold and solid. Dudley gazed into the mist surrounding him, and pressured himself to look harder. He saw his mother’s face, soft at first, but then it became stern.
“Dudley, you are a disgrace to our family. I-I cannot bear to look at you. You are just…oh, please go away. It would be better without you.”
More voices joined in, screeching “We don’t want you, nobody likes you, Dudley, we don’t care about you…”
Dudley silently begged the shadows to forgive him, but they seemed to enjoy taunting him. His father’s face appeared in the mist.
“Dudley, you are a waste of space. You don’t do anything. I don’t understand, we do so much for you, and not a ruddy thing in return…”
“We don’t want you, nobody likes you, Dudley, we don’t care about you…”
Dudley sobbed loudly. Nobody was there to hear him. But…what about Potter? Oh, who was he kidding? Potter wouldn’t help Dudley, he probably considered this some sort of revenge. Dudley felt tortured, he was about to shove his head into the gravely cold substance and end it all, but then a voice roared some sort of strange words.
The haze faded, and Dudley saw Harry’s hand, which he reached out to help Dudley up. Harry had saved his life. He really had saved Dudley’s life. Harry Potter helped his cousin to hobble down the street back to Privet Drive, not knowing Dudley was a changed boy.

CHAPTER SIX

DRAGONS AND DEATH EATERS
Malfoy spat on the floor. “And WHAT happened on that train?”
“It’s not our fault!” growled Greyback in his hoarse voice, “That Mudblood’s friends defended her, and Potter.”
“I have no need for an assistant who can not assist when asked.”
“Listen, you aren’t our boss or nothin’, we take orders from your father, but seeing as he landed ‘imself a spot in Azkaban, we can’t…”
“Don’t you talk about my father like that, you-you…AVADA KEDAVRA!”
Four Shadow Avengers fell to their feet, not to bow to their new leader, but because they had just been ripped of their lives. Among these Avengers were Fenrir Greyback, and the fat man who had opposed Molly Weasley. Draco Malfoy looked at what he had done. But he did not so much as wince. What was done was done, and he had no need for servants who did not obey him. A cruel, twisted smile appeared on Malfoy’s smug face.
A week had passed, and it was now growing cold outside. The Weasleys and company had been staying at the Burrow for a short time, before leaving for Romania. On the night before leaving, Mr. Weasley called them all into the kitchen.
“Now, I know things have been rough in the last months, but things will get better, it is time to start new, happy memories. It is time to forget the life we left behind.”
“Arthur, what if those dreadful Shadow Avengers follow us to Romania?”
“MOLLY! Happy thoughts!”
Harry and Ron went upstairs to their room. Harry plopped down on Ron’s bed, and fiddled his wand between his fingers.
“You reckon it’ll be nice to get away from this all?”
“I dunno, Harry. I sort of feel like I don’t know what’s going on anymore, it’s like I’m living a different life than I used to, nothing’s normal. Ever wished we could go back to Hogwarts, have no more worries than what our grades were, or if we passed those infernal Divination exams?”
“I never really fancied going back to Divination, but other than that…”
They looked at each other, and then laughed. Harry stuffed a few extra shirts into his duffel bag, before he followed Ron downstairs.
“We’re leaving extra early tomorrow morning, so make sure you are all packed,” Mrs. Weasley was warning Ginny and Hermione. The girls rolled her eyes as they joined Harry and Ron at the table. Harry glanced awkwardly at Ginny. He had scarcely seen her for months. “Hi,” he said, to nobody in particular. Ron looked at him rather skeptically. After a few seconds, everyone began to smile. Somehow, something was right.
Bright and early Wednesday morning, the residents of the Burrow rubbed their eyes, having just been woken by an angry Mrs. Weasley. (“We should have left twenty minutes ago!”) They walked quite a distance, into a forest that Mr. Weasley did not believe any Muggles would see them in. In the mouth of the woods, there was a noise. Mr. Weasley checked a handheld device that appeared to be a harmonica. He tapped twice on the left side of it. “Merlin’s beard, somebody else is in here. Not a Muggle. A man by the name of Sakson Ferngon…no wait, this thing is slow, borrowed it from Hanson at the office…Samson Fennigs. Do we know a Samson Fennigs?”
“He could just be a hermit or…”
“Oh, you would wish. I am no hermit.”
A scratchy voice was coming from behind the tree nearest to George. “Expelliarmus!” George yelled. There was no noise. This man apparently had no wand with him. He instead pulled out two daggers, and threw one at George. It hit him in the shoulder. The other dagger was aimed at Fleur, who ducked and shrieked, “Stupefy!” The spell appeared to hit the mysterious man, but had no effect on him whatsoever. Now, Fennigs pulled out a white wand that had been fashioned out of bone. “Avada Kedav-” Hermione swung a thick book at Samson’s head, knocking him over. “Accio!” Harry said as the man reached for his wand. Arthur Weasley kicked Fennigs. “Now tell me, our unarmed friend, who are you working with?”
Fennigs groaned. “Draco. Draco Malfoy. And others. I am proud not to reveal their identities. But remember this. The Lord will rise again. I hope you will do all in your power to assist him, or face certain death.” With a grimace, Samson Fennigs collapsed, dead.
When they had safely Apparated to a certain country road in Romania, Charlie greeted them. “Easy trip?”
“We wish. Ran into a spot of trouble with a rebellious old Death Eater.”
Mr. Weasley explained what had happened. Charlie seemed mildly surprised.
“Hmmm, well, shall we get going on that tour then?”
They agreed, and set off again. Charlie showed them around the main building, which appeared to be a registration area for breeding new dragons. It seemed the kind of place Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, would visit on holiday. Charlie sighed as they passed a man arguing with the register in a thick Tasmanian accent.
“Not exactly much to see here, but…ah, Harry, you’ll find this interesting.”
He pulled open a fire-proof steel door, to reveal a gigantic cage housing an olive-scaled dragon. “The very Hungarian Horntail you fought off at the Triwizard Tournament when you were fourteen.” Charlie smiled broadly at Harry, who tried to grin back at him. They took one more look at the dragon, then left to go see the rest of the building. Harry stepped into one room that he instantly backed out of; inside was a vicious creature that looked as if he would like nothing better than to eat Harry.
“Better you stay away from him; we don’t know what he eats yet.” Charlie told him, half-chuckling. They followed Charlie back up and around the building, but Ginny stopped. “Wait a second!” she hissed at Harry. Harry walked over to where she was standing and saw a sign.

Harry Potter: wanted for treason.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” demanded Harry.
“It means…they’re back. They’re trying to get you.”
“What d’you mean by that?”
“The Shadow Avengers,” Ginny said seriously, “They’re making you into a criminal, making you vulnerable…”
“Harry! Ginny! What’re you doing?” asked Ron, panting. Harry caught Ginny’s eye and muttered, “Nothing.”
They joined Charlie again, who was showing a skeptical Percy Weasley a chart of all the dragons in the International Draconic Registration Fort.
“Here’s the Blue Winged Kairchor; ah yes, the Frimple Hillback, blimey, I forgot they were that venomous; good lord, we have the Yentoo Ccidkling, I’ve got to contact Relchape, those are classified as illegal in this continent…”
This went on for a while, during which Harry and the others stared, eyes glazing over, at this chart. Finally, Mr. Weasley came over and interrupted Charlie.
“Sorry, but I really have to get to the office, there’s been an exploding manhole down on Pine street…it’s gonna be a lot of paperwork, fourteen Muggles saw it…”
Charlie clapped him on the back. “It’s okay. We’re only going to be here a short time anyway. With a loud snap, Mr. Weasley Apparated.
“So what’re you guys thinking of doing, now you’ve graduated Hogwarts?”
Harry looked at Ron, they had not yet so much as thought about this subject.
“Err…I wouldn’t mind becoming an Auror or returning to Hogwarts, y’know, something like that…”
Ron wasn’t as certain, “Anything really, as long as the pay doesn’t suck.”
Charlie stared at them for a moment, before his eyes lit up and he said, “I bet I know a way you really could go back to Hogwarts.”


CHAPTER SEVEN

RETURN TO HOGWARTS

Harry rolled over, as the ancient alarm clock in Charlie’s guest bedroom gave a shrill shriek. “GET UPPPPPPPP, LAZY ONE!” He rubbed his eyes and stared irritably at the rusty clock. The time was 8:03, AM. He must have been lying asleep too long. Quickly, Harry scooped up a twisted pile that consisted of one wrinkled T-shirt, a pair of ripped jeans, and a long jacket, that swept the floor as he walked. Pulling these garments on, Harry limped down the stairs to greet the others.
Hermione and Ron appeared to be having a quiet argument at the bottom of the stairs. Harry could only hear bits and pieces of it.
“…then what do you want to do?”
“I’m not saying Hogwarts wasn’t a good idea, I just…”
“-it’s always about you, then, Ronald?”
“Fine, I’ll go.”
“Thank you,” finished Hermione, in a satisfied voice.
Harry leaned over the copper banister (goblin-made, he observed). “Wait– what are you two talking about? Go where?”
Ron cleared his throat pointedly and answered, “Charlie suggested we go back to Hogwarts. Y’know, just to escape from this–well, this dragon place. We’ll explain, d’you fancy going on a walk?”
“Sure, but I still don’t get–”
“We’ll explain on the way,” hissed Hermione, still slightly grumpy about her quarrel with Ron.
They left the apartment, and walked down the cobble sidewalk that ran around the dragon-breeder village. Hermione and Ron did their best to convince Harry they should go back to Hogwarts, and get small jobs.
“Besides, Harry, there’s gotta be a few fringe benefits,” said Ron, “I reckon you could teach Defense against the Dark Arts. ‘Course, it may be a pretty bland job now, seeing our good friend Voldy boy is gone.”
He gave Harry’s brain time to register this, and after about two seconds, Ron opened his mouth to droll on some more. He didn’t quite get the chance, seeing as somebody very large was approaching them…
“HAGRID!” exclaimed Hermione, beaming at the half-giant.
“Hi, I’m jus’ here, erm, to look. Yeah, tha’s what. I’m lookin’ around– hey, by any chance yeh guys have seen li’l Norberta? Reckon she misses her poppa.”
Ron and Harry exchanged glances. They knew all too well that Norberta was a dragon Hagrid once owned, until it was reported by Draco Malfoy and he had to ship it to Romania, to live with Charlie Weasley and his associates.
“Er…no, we haven’t seen her,” Harry lied. “Good to see you here, Hagrid.”
“You know,” Ron started, looking at Harry out of the corner of his eye, “you know, Hagrid, We’re thinking of coming back to Hogwarts.”
Harry knew it then. It was done. He didn’t want to disappoint Hagrid.
“Yes, we are,” Hermione chimed in.
Hagrid was beaming now. “S’pose that would be good. Have yeh checked with McGonagall yet?”
“Well, not quite, but I’m sure she’ll let us. You know McGonagall.”
They each hugged Hagrid, then set off back to the old apartment building.

A day later, the three friends were packed and ready. Hermione was going over a few spells in her Wit and Witchcraft book. They dragged the remaining suitcases and duffel bags down to the village green and pulled out broomsticks. Hermione was using a Cleansweep 8-90, a gift from Percy Weasley, who believed broomsticks were “out of style”. They mounted the brooms.
“Uh-I’m not v-very sure I can d-do this,” mumbled Hermione. Too late. Ron and Harry launched themselves off into the air, and Harry felt the amazing feeling of being free, not having to surrender himself to the restraints of solid ground. He also felt another familiar feeling. A drenching, icy cold ripped over the light skies. Figures in cloaks glided through the air, stretching towards them. Dementors. Easily, he produced a Patronus, which chased the demons away, back into the dawn sky. But then a wave of fear crossed into Harry’s head. The Dementors were no longer in Ministry control. The Shadow Avengers must be gaining power.
It took quite a few hours for them to reach Hogwarts. Hermione kept leaning too far forward on her broom, and in the end, flew into a possibly fatal nose dive. Ron grabbed the end of her broom at the last minute, and she was towed from behind by him until the end of the trip. Harry was strangely reminded of the time his Uncle Vernon had taken Dudley water-skiing. When they got home, Harry was picked up from Mrs. Figgs’ house, and he saw Dudley and a friend attempt to repeat the skiing experience, using Dudley’s friend’s new mountain bike, a meter of twine, and a rusty scooter.
It didn’t work out so well. Dudley was sent to the hospital for a dislocated elbow.
Harry had winced away this memory, and set back to flying. Eventually, they all reached the destination.
“You lot okay?” he asked them, after landing.
“Yes, j-just a bit sh-shaken,” stuttered Hermione, her teeth chattering.
“Come off it,” said Ron, rolling his eyes at her, “you’ve ridden Buckbeak, let’s see…one of those bloody invisible birds, now you’re complaining about a broomstick?!”
Hermione muttered something. Eager to once again enter the castle, Harry asked them, “Shall we go in now?”
With two numb head-nods, they trudged up the snowy path to Hogwarts. A hidden voice boomed, “PLEASE STATE YOUR NAME, AND A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR WAND.”
“Er…my name is Harry Potter, with a holly wand, phoenix tail feather–”
“YOU MAY ENTER. AND WHO IS IT WHO FOLLOWS YOUNG POTTER?”
“Ron W-Weasley, sir. Or m’am. And this is Hermione. Hermione Granger.”
The front gates swung open, to reveal the mass castle of Hogwarts. Harry breathed in the chilly air and smiled. He was home at last.
“So, what do we do now?” said Ron timidly.
“I think that would be obvious, would it not? We go inside.”
Hogwarts was not that much different than what they remembered it as. Students jogged down the halls, searching frantically for missing spellbooks, or classes they were late going to. Two Second-years seemed like they were completely lost in an especially violent Wizard Chess battle. Suddenly, a herd of giggling fifth-year girls ran up to Harry.
“Ohmygod. It’s you, canIhaveyourautograph?”
Harry signed a large number of autographs, while Ron stared, almost longingly, at the pen in Harry’s hand, now scribbling a signature.
“It beats Umbridge’s quill,” Harry said later, “Though it may be better to have my name etched in my own skin than ‘I must not tell lies’.”
They stopped in front of the gargoyles leading to McGonagall’s office. Harry thought, and then he got it.
“Thornberry redtart,” said Harry. Ron and Hermione shot puzzled looks his way. “Snape used to eat those, when he was a student here.” Harry explained. They did not ask how he knew this kind of information, because they had no time.
“Well?” asked McGonagall politely.
“Oh, er…um, we were going to visit Hogwarts. We thought you could possibly give us some jobs here?”
“I’m deeply sorry, we’re all filled up.”
Mildly interested, Hermione assured her, “That’s okay, but who are the other teachers?”
“We have your friend Longbottom as Herbology director. Then there’s still Professor Flitwick for Charms…hmm, it’s stayed pretty much the same. Except…we have a new Defense teacher, and a new Potions master.”
“Potions master? Who would that be?”
“I believe you know him. Your old co-student Draco Malfoy.”
“But– he was the leader of those Shadow Avenger blokes!”
“I looked into that. It was not Draco who started the Avengers, but his father. Even though he has a dark past, we Hogwarts staff have decided to give him a second chance.”
Ron nearly choked, but McGonagall paid no notice.
“I’ll tell you what. Go down to the dungeons and ask Draco if he knows any jobs you can do. You know, a messenger job, or a Potions assistant.”
“But─”
“No buts, Weasley. Now you three hurry along.”
With rather dejected looks on their faces, Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked out the door, into the hallway. “Tough break?” chuckled one of the gargoyles.
“I don’t understand, why Malfoy?” wondered Harry aloud.
“We used to go to school with him, I guess that’s why,” Hermione answered, also confused. They walked down the halls, and turned left down the stone staircase to the dungeons. Draco Malfoy was leaving the room he was in. He turned around, and came face to face with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Ron suppressed a smile at the terrified look on Malfoy’s face.
“Hello, Malfoy,” said Hermione coldly, “Professor McGonagall told us to see you.
“Um…y-yeah, okay. Do you w-want a job?”
“A job? Such as what?”
“How about a-a job in…organizing stuff? F-For me to use?”
“‘Organizing stuff’?” Ron repeated, “Any other jobs available?”
Harry suddenly had an idea. “Malfoy, just a minute.”
He pulled Ron and Hermione together and whispered, “Why don’t we take his job? We could spy on Malfoy; see what he’s up to.” Hermione nodded, but Ron was skeptical.
“What would be our pay if we did this job?” he asked Malfoy.
“2 galleons a day.”
“Sounds good to me, hah, that’s probably more than Percy makes.”
It was settled. They would work as assistants for Draco Malfoy.
“When d’we start?” Harry questioned.
“How about in a month or so?” suggested Malfoy.
“Okay.”
They set off to Gryffindor tower to unpack, with no way of knowing what horrors would soon be revealed.


CHAPTER EIGHT

LEGENDS OF GRINDELWALD
Hermione spent her first day as a visitor to Hogwarts reading books from the library. She sat in the Griffindor commonroom, her eyes flashing back and forth through they pages (“Quick-glance charm,” she told a confused Ron later) and finally falling asleep in the large armchair near the fireplace. “Reckon we should wake her up? It’s nearly noon,” said Harry the next morning, walking with Ron into the commonroom. Ron gave Hermione a small, yet somewhat brutal shake, and her eyes snapped open. She looked at Ron and frowned. “What’re you two doing here?”
“Hermione, it’s almost twelve. Fancy getting some lunch?”
Hermione shook her head. “No thank you, I’d like to do some more reading, if you don’t mind.” Rolling their eyes in amusement, Harry and Ron started out the door.
“Honestly, I swear the girl’s nocturnal or something…” “WAIT!” Hermione yelled after them. Harry stopped moving and turned around.
“I just read something about Grindelwald.”
“Say what? Grinder-who?”
“GRINDELWALD. The dark wizard that Dumbledore defeated.” “So what about him?”
“Here, take a look at this,” Hermione said, handing Ron a particularly heavy book, entitled Sinister Magick of the Twentieth Century. She flipped to page 934, where a chapter about Grindelwald began. She read aloud,
“ ‘Gellert Grindelwald was born to a family of purebloods, all with a deep hatred for non-magical humans (more commonly known as Muggles). He was raised learning the darkest of spells, and enduring the Cruciatus Curse from his parents for misbehavior (See page 452 for full details on Genaro and Hibbélis Grindelwald).
“ ‘When he turned twelve, Grindelwald was accepted at Durmstrang, a wizarding school infamous for their coverage on the use of the Dark Arts. In his sixth year at Durmstrang, Grindelwald was expelled for his dangerous experiments. He fled the country, in fear that the Bulgarian Ministry of Magic would destroy his wand, and went off to live with his aunt, Bathilda Bagshot.
“ ‘Bathilda let him into her home with welcome, but he only stayed there for two years, before venturing off into the unknown. Part of his past is not told here, but we do know that in the early 1900s Grindelwald had built a notorious prison, which is now known as Nurmengard, and started capturing the greatest wizards of the age to challenge to duels. For reasons that are still a mystery, Grindelwald triumphed in all of his duels.” “Well, he obviously had the Elder Wand, so that can’t really be that much of a mystery,” reasoned Ron, smirking.
“Ron, this book was written only about forty years ago. You can’t honestly expect people still believed in the Deathly Hallows then, can you?” “I say as long as there are nutters like Xeno Lovegood around, there’s gotta be at least one person who believes in them.”
“Listen, can’t I just read?”
“Fine.”
“ ‘Years later, Grindelwald was defeated by Albus Dumbledore, currently Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. Grindelwald was locked up in the topmost cell in Grindelwald, where he still sits to this day. Many expeditions have been conducted to find Grindelwald, but Nurmengard remains hidden, up in the mountains or Bulgaria. As legend has it, Grindelwald hid many ancient scrolls, called the Archaic Scrolls inside a hidden cell in Nurmengard. When unleashed, the scrolls could harness powers to bring the forces of evil back to life.’ ”
Hermione solemnly looked at Harry and Ron, who stared blankly back at her. “And what does this have to do with us?” Ron asked.
“Who do you reckon would want to unleash all the ‘Forces of Evil’?”
“Malfoy or those Shadow Avengers?”
Hermione nodded grimly.
“So, er, what do we do?”
Everybody sat in silence for a few moments, thinking what to do.


CHAPTER NINE

RITA SKEETER’S REPORT
Harry, Ron, and Hermione left Hogwarts at nighttime, so nobody would notice their leaving. They flew on broomsticks to Diagon Alley, where they would spend a day before setting off again.
“What are we doing in Diagon Alley?” asked Ron, as they walked down the street to the Apothecary.
“We need to buy a few more things. Ingredients for Polyjuice Potion, books, Ron, you really need new robes.”
Ron looked down at his tattered clothing, and attempted to cover it with his trunk. Harry snorted, and said, “C’mon, we need to get the other stuff.”
They turned at the corner of the road and walked into the Apothecary. Harry nudged Hermione on the shoulder.
“Harry, what?”
Silently, Harry pointed to a witch in a bright yellow poncho. Ron glanced cautiously over his shoulder, then turned around and stared determinedly at his beaten-up Potions book.
“It’s her,” Hermione squealed, “Rita Skeeter.”
Unfortunately, Rita turned around to glimpse the person who spoke her name. When she saw the trio, she smiled broadly.
“If it isn’t Potter? And his friends, you really are his friends, aren’t you? Oh, how sweet, Potter has friends!” Rita stopped at the look on Hermione’s face. She raised her Quick Quotes Quill in a way that was almost intimidating.
Ron turned around to leave, but Hermione dug her fingernails into his shoulder. “OW!” Ron howled.
“Oh, Rita?” Hermione beckoned, “Would you mind writing an article for us?”
Rita laughed viciously. “Why should I? I kept my end of the deal, you promised I would have to keep quiet for a year, you can’t exactly sell me off now.”
“I can always still tell the Ministry you’re an unregistered Animagus.”
“You said – I kept my end of our deal…”
“Yes, I know you did. But I still can tell of your secret.”
“But–”
“I don’t reckon the Ministry will care that you were true to some agreement. I can just Apparate there now, and tell Kingsley you’re an Animagus.”
“That’s blackmail–”
“That’s journalism,” said Hermione, smirking.

Three hours later, they left Diagon Alley. Hermione had told Ron and Harry to do the shopping while she was interviewed by Rita Skeeter, giving her a full account of who the Shadow Avengers were, and how they posed a new threat to the wizarding world.
After Diagon Alley, the group traveled to Grimmauld Place, where they decided to look through the old books to find more information on the Grindelwalds, which was a very old wizarding family. Harry was skimming through Honorable Warlocks of the 1800s when he heard a scream from upstairs.
“Ron?” he called.
“Yeah?” asked Ron, startled. Harry turned around to see his friend sitting on the bed behind him.
“Oh, sorry. Did you hear that noise?”
Ron stood still for a minute, thinking. Then his face whitened and he grimaced. “H-Hermione!”
They ran upstairs, knocking open doors, and then Harry gasped.
“Is she okay?” Ron said worriedly.
“It’s not Hermione,” Harry said slowly, “It’s Kreacher.”
The old elf was lying on his back, a dark ember scorch mark over his heart. Kreacher’s ears, which were usually raised in the air were now drooped on the side of his head. Ron was about to slide down the elf’s eyelids over his tennis ball-sized eyes, but Harry held out his hand, motioning for Ron to stop.
Harry looked into Kreacher’s eyes, and saw the elf’s attacker glaring back at him.
“It was Aberforth,” Harry remarked, frowning.
“Maybe he was under the Imperius Curse?” suggested Ron.
“Maybe,” Harry murmured, “maybe…”


CHAPTER TEN

NURMENGARD

To say that Hermione was shocked at discovering Kreacher’s dead body would be an understatement. Six hours after she learned about what had happened to the elf, she was still sobbing into the arm of a bookshelf.
To make things even worse, Sirius’ mother had heard about the death of her servant, and she blamed it on the “filthy Mudbloods trespassing on her property”.
In the morning, they left once again, Hermione having pinpointed the location of Nurmengard.
“I’m guessing it will be surrounded by water, so we will need to take a boat. I guess we won’t need any Polyjuice Potion, pity, the materials coast us more than eighty Galleons…”
Ron spoke up. “Can’t we just fly there? I don’t really fancy boats.”
“Nope. I can imagine Grindelwald put a charm around the prison to make the winds extremely heavy and fast-moving.”
They walked down the freshly paved road to the docks at the bottom of the hill. A Muggle sailor greeted them.
“Hullo. I s’pose you lot want to rent a sailboat?”
“Yes, sir.” Hermione said boldly.
“Hermione, how in the name of Merlin do you expect us to sail that thing all the way to Bulgaria?”
“We can…er…give it some assistance,” she answered quietly.
They paid for the boat and set off, sailing for forty-five minutes before Hermione said, “Okay, we’re out of sight of all Muggles.”
“Finally,” Ron muttered. He tapped his wand on the side of the boat and it zoomed off into the horizon. Harry and Hermione held on for their lives, hitting the sides of the boat continuously.
“W-what’s that in the water?” asked Ron nervously.
“What are you talking about?” Harry said, looking down.
He suddenly saw what Ron was talking about: a giant squid, to match the size of the one in Hogwarts Lake, was snapping its tentacles at the side of the boat.
“Just Stun it or something!” yelled Hermione over the sound of the flying droops of water.
“We can’t; the boat is going too fast!” hollered Harry.
The squid made a huge leap, smashing the back of the boat. The giant squid then dove towards the bottom of the sea, ready to rise up again and deliver the final blow.
“EXPELLIARMUS!” Ron bellowed, but the spell missed the squid, instead hitting the water next to it. The vibration filled their boat with water. Desperately, Harry grabbed a harpoon from a basket on the boat and stood up, struggling to stay balanced.
The squid flew through the sky, headed at the small sailboat. Harry released the harpoon a second too early, and instead of hitting its intended target, the harpoon struck the squid scarcely two inches below its heart.
The dying sea creature thrashed in the water. One of its tentacles came in contact with the sailboat’s mast, and it fell back into the water. With a final moan, the beast of a squid sunk into the murky green sea. But the damage was done.
Ron gasped, gazing almost incredulously at the broken pole.
“We’re dead. We are dead. This thing will sink in a matter of minutes. I told you we should’ve taken broomsticks. But of course, you bought this Muggle deathtrap. Now we’re going to die.”
Hermione, who had been silent for a long time, glanced in disbelief into the water below.
“Ron – Ron, shut up. I think we found Nurmengard.”
She pointed into the water. Harry and Ron also peered over the edge of the boat, and gasped. The moment of astonishment passed, and Ron raised his eyebrows.
“So how do we get down there?”
Hermione rummaged through the equipment on the boat, and came out of the pile clutching three SCUBA suits.
“These should work…”
“Oh, I’m not using one of those things. Not after the trouble we’ve gotten into with this Muggle sailboat.”
“Ron, don’t be ridiculous, my mum and dad took me SCUBA diving nine years ago on holiday. It’s perfectly safe.”
They pulled on the SCUBA equipment, even though Ron did so rather grudgingly. Hermione showed Harry and Ron how to work their air masks.
“Okay, here goes,” said Harry, taking a breath. He jumped into the ice cold water. Having only learned how to swim four years ago, he had some trouble at first, flapping his arms wildly. After about ten minutes, though, he got the hang of it, and swam towards the closest and topmost cell.
He climbed through the large window, and then sealed it so no water could get in. Three minutes later, Hermione and Ron were standing next to him. The room was dusty and filled with a brownish mold.
“Alohomora!” hissed Hermione, pointing her wand at the lock hole, and the door flew open. They walked through cautiously, and entered a long hallway. In the corner, Harry spotted a stack of brown prisoners’ robes. They dried off and pulled the robes on.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom cell,” said Hermione. They ran down the hallway, kicking up dust. The next room was a dimly-lit dungeon. The trio gripped their wands and looked around. It was a dusty place, but it appeared no one had been there for years.
Harry waved his hand through the air, as though searching for something that wasn’t there. He brought his hand down, and touched a crease in the stone floor. “Trapdoor,” he muttered, wiping more dust off of it. Ron and Hermione helped him lift the heavy panel, and one by one, they climbed into the darkness.
The instant their feet touched the floor, lights flickered, then turned on. Ron walked over to a small bench in the corner of the small room. He picked up a box, and handed it to Harry and Hermione. They also examined it.
“Do you think these are the Scrolls?” asked Ron.
“We won’t know until we’ve opened the box,” answered Hermione.
She dug her fingernails into the keyhole of the small package and pulled it open. Inside was a single piece of yellowing parchment. Hermione looked breathlessly at Harry and Ron.
“We got it! This is one of the Archaic Scrolls!”
Harry and Ron smiled broadly, and Ron hugged Hermione. Then her grinning face turned to a look of sheer astonishment.
“L–look at this.”
She passed the parchment to Harry and Ron, who confusedly read the peeling handwriting. They also gasped.

To the discoverer of these scrolls, never fear. I have taken them to a safe place where nary a soul can lay hands on them. I will not use the scrolls for evil, but to destroy the worlds’ current menaces. Again, congratulations.

Ron stared stupidly at the parchment. He looked at the others, who looked equally confused. Finally, Hermione spoke.
“Oh well, I guess it’s for the better. If ‘nary a soul’ ever lays a hand on those scrolls, it’s even better that they found it, not us.”
Ron took a different attitude.
“We had an entire month off, to fool around and do whatever we wanted, and we wasted it by traveling to an underwater castle, to no real result?”
“Come on Ron,” Harry said, “This is what we usually do.”

CHAPTER ELEVEN

MALFOY’S ASSISTANTS

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not thrilled about working for Malfoy, but it would be nice being back at Hogwarts. The day they began work, Harry dressed and ran down to the main hall excitedly. Working on the Hogwarts staff was different from being a student. He still ate meals in the Great Hall, but he ate at the Professors’ table. People still stole glances at his scar, but now they were whispering, “Potter’s back!” and “Potter’s a teacher?” It was all new to Harry, and only when the bell rang for third period classes, he realized that he was supposed to be in the dungeons, preparing for Malfoy’s class. Harry grabbed his dragon-skin bag and ran down the hall, ignoring the muffled whispers and the prying eyes looking at him almost quizzically.
“Sorry I’m late,” he muttered, upon rushing into the room. Luckily, Harry had made it there before the students walked in. Hermione and Ron had been sitting on a table, levitating small objects out of boredom.
“Hello class,” said Draco Malfoy smoothly, “Today we’ll be learning about a potion that, used in the right amounts, can make any normal man lucky for a certain amount of time.”
Harry smiled, knowing this potion had foiled Malfoy’s plans to kill Ron, Hermione, and Ginny two years ago.
The lesson rolled on for fifty-five minutes, leaving the students looking dreadfully bored. Malfoy did not seem to notice this, and when the bell rang yet again, he jumped, dropping a bezoar. Harry slid behind a cauldron while Ron and Hermione, along with the others, filed out of the classroom. With a lazy flick from Malfoy’s wand, the door shut and locked itself. He looked around to make sure nobody was watching, and when he saw nothing, Malfoy pulled a small cylinder out of his robes. Harry peered around the side of the cauldron, and heard Malfoy muttering an incantation. The cylinder lit up, and what looked like crimson steam poured out of the cylinder. The steam filled the room. A man walked out. Harry strained his eyes, but he could not see the man’s face.
“Hello young Draco,” said the tall man with a Scottish accent.
“Welcome,” replied Malfoy shortly.
“I indeed hope you have the Prophecy?”
“I do; it was rather difficult getting to it, though.”
“May I ask how you got it?”
“It was tricky, you see. I used my mother’s Time Turner. Went back three years, and I grabbed the Prophecy out of Potter’s hand. But you can imagine the kind of memory charms I had to put on him. I missed twice, also. The Department of Mysteries was blasted to pieces.”
“You did well. But I would like to see the Prophecy now.”
“I-I can’t now.”
“Draco, you are in no place to make bargains here.”
“I’m sorry. R-really, I just can’t.”
“Draco, don’t make me do this. I can and will.”
“F-fine, it’s in my trunk.” said Malfoy, terrified.
The man glided over, and pointed his wand at the trunk. It blasted open, and a spherical crystal bounced into his hand. Harry edged nearer to the man.
“Hurgofend!” bellowed the Scottish man. He stood back and placed the object on the ground. The sphere transformed into something large…a face. The face grew a mouth, and it began to speak.
“HARRISON JAMES POTTER AND THOMAS MARVOLO RIDDLE. ONE CANNOT DEFEAT THE OTHER. NEITHER MAY LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES. TO EACH IS THE SAME. THIS PROPHECY MUST BE FULFILLED, OR ANY LIVING SOULS REFERRED TO IN THIS DECREE SHALL BE SENTENCED TO QUESTIONING BY THE COUNCIL OF SOULS. ANY CHANGES TO THIS PROPECHY WILL RESULT IN AN ETERNITY OF SUFFERING.”
The Scottish man was now grinning insanely. “Draco, do you know what this means?”
“Erm…not quite.”
“Harry Potter is none but the same as Tom Riddle. Lord Voldemort. They’re the same person. The Dark Lord still lives, as long as Potter is alive. It all fits! That is why Voldemort couldn’t kill Potter half a year ago.”
Malfoy thought this over. But then he noticed a movement from behind a cauldron. Harry had accidentally swung his arm down upon hearing he was the same as Voldemort. Malfoy paced over to where Harry was crouching.
“Well, well, well.” said Malfoy, grinning. His grin disappeared when Harry grabbed the Prophecy in a swift motion. Harry stood up, and pointed his wand at Malfoy through the thick crimson fog. “Lumos,” he said, and his wand lit up at the tip. “Stupefy!” he yelled, pointing at the now-visible Malfoy. He would need to use Malfoy for questioning, so it was useless to kill him. But the tall Scottish man was another story. He leaped up and said, “Expellia─” and then stopped. Harry looked into the eyes of the man at the end of the room. It was his father.


CHAPTER TWELVE

A FATAL INCANTATION
Harry looked into the eyes of his father. Could it possibly be him? Harry only had vivid memories of his father, but he had definitely seen the man in Hagrid’s photo album. And the eyes, the eyes were unfamiliar. The father Harry had barely known had caring, kind eyes. These were clouded with duty. Had his father been brainwashed? Harry had seen the Ennervate spell worked on Muggles, and people intended not to remember certain things, but had his father been brainwashed to force him to work for Lord Voldemort, and kill his own son? Also, what were all the things about Harry being part of Voldemort, “to each is the same”? It made no sense. Harry was so dazed that he forgot to bring Malfoy back to McGonagall.
Hours later, Harry had snuck out of the dungeons, and rejoined Ron and Hermione. He told them everything he had learned.
“Blimey Harry, but isn’t your father dead? Maybe You-Know-Who spared him, but that isn’t really his style.”
If Ron was confused, Hermione was even more so.
“That wouldn’t be too hard to pull off, but it doesn’t make sense. Your father was no use to Voldemort.”
“Yes, but…”
“You were his main target. He killed your parents so you’d be easier to get to…Harry, what did you do with Malfoy after this?”
Harry cursed his stupidity. Malfoy was on the loose, thanks to him. Shaking the memory out of his head, he began to get a different, almost wonderful idea.
“What if…if Voldemort never really killed my mum and dad?”
“Why wouldn’t he kill them? He needed to kill you, they were in the way.”
Harry thought this over, but he still couldn’t shake off the bud of hope that was growing in the bottom of his stomach; he wanted his parents alive, he couldn’t give up the possibility that they were.
A few days passed uneventfully, besides the fact that Malfoy escaped to places unknown. At 6 o’clock Friday evening Harry was called to Professor McGonagall’s office. “Tell us everything that happens,” said Hermione eagerly.
Harry walked down to the office. McGonagall was waiting for him outside the gargoyles. “Potter, we have a vacancy available. When Draco Malfoy ran away, our Defense against the Dark Arts teacher left too. I do not know why, but the main point is it happened. So I need you to fill in.”
Harry was stunned.
“Th-thank you, Professor.”
He turned to walk away, but McGonagall said, “Oh, and Potter!”
“Yes?”
“You start today, you know.”
When Harry had delivered the good news to Hermione and Ron, they didn’t seem very excited. There were more important things than becoming a teacher at that moment. Harry was trying hard to enjoy himself. The Prophecy was most likely wrong, and he doubted it even was a real prophecy. A day ago, Harry had tried the same spell the large man who looked like his father had used, but the Prophecy wouldn’t budge. He tried it several more times, again to no result. Therefore, Harry concluded the Prophecy was just an elaborate trap. Harry was meant to believe it was true, and maybe even kill himself because he was to assume he was the same as Voldemort. It was all so complicated and nonsensical. Harry wondered who would possibly understand it. Dumbledore and his godfather Sirius Black were no longer alive. Harry wished he had them to ask, them to help him. Then something hit him. There was always Hagrid.
“Hagrid! Open up!” shouted Harry, knocking on his half-giant friend’s door. The door swung open. “Hi, Harry. Whasson yer mind?”
“I was wondering about a few things,” Harry said. And then he told Hagrid everything he’d been thinking recently.
“Well, Harry, I think yeh shouldn’ let it bother yeh,” Hagrid said slowly.
There was a knock on the door.
Hagrid swung it open to let whoever was knocking in.
“STUPEFY!” A jinx flew at where Harry had been standing seconds before. Harry got his wand out, while Hagrid gripped his pink umbrella.
“Avada Kedavra!” Out came another curse, this time aimed at Hagrid. But it would take more than one killing curse to kill a half-giant. Harry leaped under a table and yelled, “Stupefy!” A Shadow Avenger collapsed outside. Malfoy dodged another stunning spell, and yelled, “AVADA KEDAVRA!” A pot smashed next to Harry, and he decided to find a new hiding spot. “Sectumsempra!” Crucio!” Expelliarmus!”

Suddenly the room was filled with incantations. When the dust settled, the Shadow Avengers had Disapparated. Harry angrily stuck his wand in his pocket and turned around. Hagrid was lying on the floor. “Hagrid?” Harry asked. There was no answer. He turned Hagrid over on the floor with some difficulty, and saw a scorch mark over his chest. “No,” Harry said, panicking, “This cannot be happening,” he said, as if willing it to be true. But it was true. Hagrid was dead.
Harry was shaking with rage when he returned to the castle. He had buried Hagrid’s body outside his hut, after transfiguring the body into a lighter version of the giant. Hermione and Ron tried to ask him what happened, but he walked straight past them.
“Harry, what─”
He went to the boys’ dormitories and lay down on his four-poster bed. Hagrid had been the one who introduced him to the world of magic. If it wasn’t for him, Harry would be sitting at the Dursleys, being fed miniscule amounts of food through the crack between the door and the wood flooring. His magical abilities could still be bottled up forever, and eventually kill someone. The worst thing was that it had been him─Harry, who had gotten Hagrid killed. It was as if everyone who Harry touched died. First his parents, then Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black, Fred Weasley, Tonks and Lupin…all of their deaths were his fault, even if not directly.
He looked up when Ron jogged into the room. “Blimey…Harry, what’s the matter?”
“Th-there was a fight. Hagrid is d-dead.”
Ron stopped in mid-step. He looked down at his feet. “I’d better tell Hermione…”
A minute later, Hermione walked into the room, now sobbing. They huddled together, around the bed. They would not let Hagrid die in vain. The Shadow Avengers must be stopped.
“That worked out well, Draco.” A man was lounging, leaning on a table Malfoy had propped up in the old Shunpike house.

“Yes. The half-giant is dead. And we have showed Potter what it is like to lose a friend. He fears us more, and we can feed on his fear. At the right time maybe…Voldemort can rise again.”
The man with the accent turned.
“Is he seeing this happening right now?”
“Why yes, actually he is.”
“But how?”
“I did not know, for a while. But it was confirmed recently. I am Voldemort’s heir.”
“No you aren’t, Draco─”
“See?”
“What did you say?”
“I can speak Parseltongue.”
“So you are…”
“Yes, I am indeed,” Malfoy said smugly.
“Then what shall we do next?”
“I think our good friends may be able to assist us in our…takeover game.”
He then raised his sleeve and pressed down on a tattoo showing a fiery skull, with a snake flowing out of its mouth. The Dark Mark.

Harry woke up, drenched in sweat. He turned over on his pillow, scar prickling. He heard voices in the hallway. Leaping up, Harry pulled a cloak over his T-shirt and jeans and tiptoed out of the dormitory. He grabbed his wand as the voices grew nearer. When he swung open the door of the Gryffindor commonroom, a deep red fog filled the entrance. Again, Harry whispered, “Lumos,” in order to be able to see. Crowley Crabbe was holding a long sword to McGonagall’s throat. “Listen, you give up the school, we give you your life. You wanna say no? Fine then.”
“I’d rather die than surrender the children here to you demons.” She said, with a proud voice. And then there was the sound of metal slicing a solid object, and she was silent.
Harry rushed over to the dying professor, “McGonagall, are you alright?”
“Does it look like I’m alright?”
“Not quite.”
“Well, I want you to do something for me, Potter.”
“I will, what is it?”
“Give these Shadow Avengers one hell of a fight.”
She collapsed, dead. Harry ran back down the hallway and yelled, “Avada Kedavra!”
The curse didn’t hit anybody, but that was not Harry’s plan. He meant to ricochet the spell off the walls, and wake up anyone in the castle. They should know what was happening, and with luck they would help him fight.
A few students were already walking out the doors, and into the thick smoke. “Light your wands!” Harry shouted to them. About thirty wand-tips lit up all around. “LISTEN UP; THERE ARE SOME BAD PEOPLE IN THE CASTLE. NOT DEATH EATERS, BUT THEY STILL POSE A LARGE THREAT. I NEED YOUR HELP TO DEFEAT THEM. ARE YOU GUYS WITH ME?” all the bellowing made Harry’s throat sore, but he needed to be heard. After making this statement, Harry rushed down to moving staircases to find Malfoy. He needed to stop him and his cult. At the first turn Harry came to, he met up with Fenrir Greyback. “Ah. Good, I see a Potty that needs to be flushed.” snarled Greyback. He leapt toward Harry, who dodged the blow and shot a Stunning jinx at the werewolf’s head. Greyback ducked and kicked Harry’s jaw. Harry saw stars, but managed to grab his wand again.
“Avada Kedavra!” The werewolf reared backwards, and fell on the floor. Harry moved on. This was no time to mourn a killer.
Draco Malfoy appeared in the Vanishing Cupboard, grasping his mother’s wand. He ran up the stairs and soon reached the level of the Gryffindor dormitories. If Harry wasn’t smart enough to have already realized the Shadow Avengers were attacking Hogwarts, perhaps Malfoy could slit his throat while Potter was in bed. He saw Hermione Granger running down the hallway, fending off Hanson Goyle. “Priori Incantatum!” she shrieked, and a bolt of yellow light sped out of the wand, disappearing into the crimson mist. Malfoy ran on.
Harry was on the tale of an old man, whom he assumed was under the Imperius curse. Stunning the man, he ran on, a stitch in his stomach being the result of this tiresome chase. Suddenly Harry was standing less than ten feet from Draco Malfoy. Malfoy was so surprised that he didn’t even think of killing Harry. “EXPELLIARMUS,” he bellowed instead. Harry’s wand flew up, and was knocked down the empty stairwell. “This is where it all ends, Potter,” sneered Malfoy.
“Not on your life,” said Harry, with a cocky smile. He slid his legs over the railing, and took a fatal leap down into the nothingness below.


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

THE COUNCIL OF SOULS
Harry was consumed by the darkness, he was falling, falling, falling… The drop took forever to happen. Harry didn’t know why he did this. He shouldn’t have. But what was done was done. And then, he felt it. The impact. Harry smashed his head against the ground, and he felt very light. He was leaving his body behind; there was nothing to stop him now. He was dying, and he wasn’t ready…
Ron and Hermione shot spells in every direction, hoping by some blind luck they would make it out alive. Then Ron’s eyes widened. “HARRY.” He ran back to the dormitory. Harry was gone. Ron looked at the Harry’s bedside table. There was a map of Hogwarts, a few spellbooks, and…the golden snitch that housed a Resurrection Stone. Harry and Hermione had rescued it from the Forest nearly a year ago. Ron grabbed it. This was an important time. He looked at the engraved words on the side.

I open at the close.

Then he understood. This was the close. The end of Hogwarts, and many lives. It could even be the end of Ron’s life. “It’s over.” Ron said plainly, and with a loud snap, the Snitch clicked open. Ron grabbed the ring inside, and flipped it over. Dumbledore appeared. “Hello, Ronald. I came at your bidding to tell you what you must do. You must find Harry. He is the key to defeating Voldemort and ending all practice of the Dark Arts once and for all. Now I must leave.”
And Dumbledore disappeared, leaving Ron rather confused.

Harry was gone. But he wasn’t, because when he opened his eyes, he was in a dark cavern. Wand lying next to him. He stood up and picked up and grabbed the wand. No sooner than he had laid his hands on it did a short old woman tell him, “Welcome home, dear.”
“Th-this isn’t my home,” said Harry, confused.
“This is the home of a number of people who are fans of yours. They wish to help you.”
“So I’m not dead?”
“You’re not what?”
“I’m not dead?” Harry repeated.
“No, you’re Harry Potter,” said the woman. Harry was beginning to think she had gone mad living in this cavern. And he honestly couldn’t blame her.
“This is Harry Potter!” said the elderly lady happily, introducing Harry to a group of other people, “Poor boy, he thinks this is his home and he’s named ‘Dead’.”
“Hi, Harry,” said a plump man who looked about forty. Harry had a strange feeling that the plump man was the eccentric woman’s son.
“Do you know of us, Harry?” asked a wide-eyed boy.
“N-no. Who are you people?”
“We’re the Council of Souls, surely you know of us.”
Harry racked his memory. And then he thought of the Potions dungeon, more than a week before. “Hang on; you’re that lot who make sure Prophecies are fulfilled!”
“And you have just fulfilled yours, Harry.”
“Yes…but is there any way of going back?”
“No. There isn’t. The only way…but there is…you must find something that you never had, something that you love, and you need to want it, something that defies the Prophecy enough to overwrite its existence. I remember seeing you, seven years ago. Alas, Harry, we built the Mirror of Erised. I knew then, you were the one. You were the Chosen One. Oh, but the Prophecy has been fulfilled all too well. I am very sorry. We’ll call you back in half an hour, but you really must get back to the world until then. Remember that: you have one hour to help your friends, and then you will come back to us, forever. This is your destiny, Harry. Make it useful.”
Harry’s feet started to float, he tried to stop them; they had a mind of their own. He was leaving the Council of Souls…going back to where he belonged. When he was close enough to grab the railing and hoist himself back onto the stairs, the floating stopped. Harry jumped over the banister, and started running back up the stairs. It must’ve been a dream. Maybe he had been knocked out, and fallen across the banister. Malfoy must be stopped. He started running, but he immediately tripped over something. “Lumos,” Harry said, and he then looked around. Dead bodies were strewn all over the floor. He recognized a few. Dean Thomas…Luna Lovegood…Dennis Creevey. All these people he had known. He decided to feel sorry for them later, this was very important. He hobbled on, a searing pain in his thigh. Narcissa Malfoy appeared behind him. “And don’t try killing my son,” she warned, holding her husband’s wand. “Crucio!” said Harry, with fury creeping up on him. “I dunno if I’ll end up killing Draco Malfoy…but that was pretty close to it.”
He left her lying within the other bodies. He then checked his watch. He had about twenty minutes left before he would have to face the Council of Souls again. He met up with Hermione, both running in opposite directions. “Hermione. I need your help. Go to the library, and find out as much as you can on the ‘Council of Souls’.”
“Sorry, but I can’t right n─”
“This is really important. Please, Hermione.”
“Harry. You know how much more important this is. We can’t go looking up things in the library at a crucial time─”
“Hermione, please,” he said, this time not bothering to keep the plea out of his voice.
“Sure, then. I’ll do it for you,” she said, sighing.

Draco Malfoy looked down an empty corridor. He ran his hand along the tapestry, looking for an escape. In panic, he nearly tripped over his own feet. And then he saw a glowing door a few meters away. Perfect. The Room of Requirement. He pulled the door open. Neville Longbottom was waiting inside. They looked menacingly at each other for a moment, and then Malfoy drew his wand for a duel. “A-AVADA KEDAVRA!” Neville yelled, already having his out. Malfoy fell on the floor. Neville jumped back. He kicked Malfoy; just to be sure he was dead. Chances were Malfoy was alive, due to Neville’s poor aim, but if so he was quite unconscious. “That was for mum and dad,” he murmured, glaring at the lifeless body on the floor.
Harry was fighting off three Shadow Avengers at once. One of them went flying as Harry deflected the Stunning spells from the opposite two at him. The other two charged Harry, and knocked him into a chair. He saw stars, and the Shadow Avenger with a very mousy face Summoned a rope, which he used to tie Harry up. Then he took Harry’s wand. “Get ready for a wild ride, Potter,” he said, with a hoarse laugh. The Avenger then picked up the chair, with Harry still tied to it, and threw it out the window. Harry didn’t notice at first that his wand had been thrown onto his lap. But it was no use. He wasn’t able to use it, seeing as the Avenger had tied up his hands. But what if…Harry willed his mind to slide the wand over just a little bit…and it flew into his hands. Harry got an idea. He thought of Ron and Hermione’s smiling faces and yelled, “Expecto Patronum!” A Patronus rushed down to the ground, and Harry positioned himself so he wouldn’t absorb the full blow of the fall. He hit the Patronus full-speed, and bounced off it, onto the cool mid-Spring ground. The Patronus split into a million pieces, like shattered glass. He then burned the ropes off his hands and legs, and got back up. A voice pierced Harry’s thoughts.
“Harry Potter, it’s me. I am the same one, the very same person…as you. It is your scar that makes us that way, don’t you remember? Dumbledore told you, years back. I was there, in spirit. You had just destroyed a piece of my soul. I didn’t think you’d find the others. And then you said it. You said the very thing I’d been dreading would happen. I remember the exact words. ‘Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?’ You never knew. We are the same. Potter, if you help me escape, we can both be great. Do great things. Think about it.”
The voice disappeared. Harry’s scar burned like it never had before; he fell down on his knees. And then a dark blob fell out of it. And it grew, and stretched… Harry was now staring at Lord Voldemort, who had risen again. This was it; they both were to die once and for all.
“Avada Kedavra!” mumbled Harry, his lips still numb. The spell hit Voldemort clean in the chest, but the minute it did, it spread out, burning off Voldemort’s robes. Harry saw Voldemort transform into himself, Harry, and he looked down. There was a burn hole on Harry’s chest. Harry felt words coming out of his mouth, words he was certainly not speaking himself.
“I’m sorry for all I’ve done, Harry, really. I did not mean to become a user of the Dark Arts; I just stumbled along that path. Fate has driven me to do terrible things. I hope you can somehow forgive me…Harry…”
And then Harry died, along with the man who had ruined lives, a man of two names, Tom Riddle and Lord Voldemort. As life was ripped from him, Harry glanced at his wristwatch. Ten seconds and counting.
It had been fate. Fate seemed to be the master planner, the one who created this labyrinth of deception, love, and death.


CHAPTER FOURTEEN

THE VEIL AGAIN
Harry saw stars. When he opened his eyes, a tall man was standing over him. The man smiled, and held out his hand. Harry grabbed it and pulled himself up. He got a closer look at the man. He was younger, but this was certainly…
“Dumbledore? Where am I?”
Dumbledore smiled. “Remember a year ago, when you asked me the same question? Where do you think we are?”
Harry looked around, expecting to see the brick walls of King’s Cross, but instead he saw nothing but fine, white fog for as for as his eyes could see.
“I…er…don’t see anything…”
He stared at Dumbledore almost angrily, wondering what he could see that Harry could not. But Dumbledore stood there, rubbing his chin and then, a small nod of his head.
“I see…Harry, last time you were here, you wanted to go back. You knew that Voldemort must be stopped at all costs. This time, you are ready. It’s over for you.”
“And what does King’s Cross have to do with it?”
“I believe that King’s Cross was the turning point of your life. The next step into a new world too…too magical to comprehend. Now you must create your own turning point. Your time was spent—”
“You don’t care, do you?” asked Harry, reproachfully. “You never actually cared about me. I was part of your master plan for the greater good…”
“Harry—”
“SHUT UP. SHUT UP. YOU NEVER CARED.”
Dumbledore looked sadly at Harry. Harry felt a wave of regret, but then he recognized the look. He didn’t want pity. He began to walk off in the other direction, but then he realized he had nowhere to go.
“Where are we, seriously?”
“When you were fifteen, your godfather was killed. Do you not wonder where he went?”
“Beyond the veil…” Harry murmured.
“Beyond the veil,” repeated Dumbledore.
They stood there for a few moments, staring off into the darkness; wondering what this world was. The two friends looked closer, and they could almost see the strings being pulled in the universe, setting off events, messing with their lives.
“I’m going back,” Harry decided, in a sort of final way, “I’m going to tell that — that Council of Souls lot that I want a second chance.”
Dumbledore beamed. “Alas, Harry…remember to watch your step.”
And with that final bading of goodbye, light consumed the duo and Harry disappeared, ready for whatever would come next.


CHAPTER FIFTEEN

THE BOY WHO LIVED

Harry was back in the Cavern, only this time he knew what he had to do. He walked over to the Council, and cleared his throat.
“Yes, dear?” asked the senile old lady patiently.
“I want a second chance. I want Tom Riddle to get a second chance. We didn’t choose our lives; that was the doing of you. You wrote up our destiny. You wrote our lives. The whole world, every life, it isn’t real. We have choices, but the rest is made. My parents are dead, and that wasn’t a needed destiny. It gave me the power, the love needed, to defeat Voldemort, but others could have done the same.
“Not everybody leads a life like mine. A life like Tom Riddle’s, either. Someone has handpicked us, like we’re chess pieces or something. I want a second chance; I want a chance to live an ordinary life. I never knew my family. I wish I had. I wish I had a family.”
Harry stared at the Council of Souls, praying that they would make an exception. That they would help him, and feel his pain. And then it all stopped. Everything went out of focus. Harry opened his eyes again. “Honey, I need to go to the Muggle market to get some more milk.” A man said to his wife. He turned around. Even though his vision was blurry, Harry could see him. Nothing registered. After all, that was only his father. The woman was merely his mother. They were a small family, Harry was a single child.
“I’ll come with you, I need to pick up some more grapes, little Harry keeps eating them, I don’t think he’s going to stop anytime soon.”
“Okay. Good thing his third birthday is in a few weeks. No more terrible twos.”
They walked down to the car, only pausing to pick up Harry. He was strapped into a safety seat, and the car started. They drove down the road, bouncing over potholes. But then they approached a man in a blue Ford pick-up truck.
“James! Watch out for the truck!” shrieked the woman, but it was no use. They skidded to the side, and hit a large van. Harry started crying. He kept crying until a sheriff came.
“Oh lord. It looks like another car crash.”
“Is the baby okay?”
“Looks like it, god bless them child safety seats…”Harry Potter stared up at the rangers. He had no idea what was going on.
“That’s an unusual boy, I tells ya.”
“Hey, it not his fault ‘bout all the yellin’.”
“No, but lookit that scar.”

And Harry Potter indeed did live that day. He was taken to live with his godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius had always thought Harry was a funny baby. From then on, he referred to him as “The Boy Who Lived.”

Harry led a fairly normal life. He went to Hogwarts, made friends, graduated, and became the best Auror the Ministry of Magic had ever known. Later, he got married to a witch by the name of Ginny Weasley, and had three children. All of them led normal lives, and when Harry’s youngest son, Albus, got married, he named the first child Tom. Nobody ever noticed, because what is so strange about the name Tom?

As for Harry, he lived a very long time, and eventually died of natural causes at the age of ninety-three. He often told his grandchildren a tale that he believed he had dreamt up, a winding story about an evil man named Voldemort, who was defeated in the end by a boy with a

lightning-bolt scar.



Last edited by Mumblecow; October 28th, 2007 at 12:12 am.
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