Toward End Game
He felt a sudden warmth, then a bitter cold. As he reached to hold Draco tighter, to comfort him, he realised his boyfriend's body was gradually becoming less solid misting at the edges. Harry released Hermione's similary fading hand and struggled to retain his grasp of Draco Draco looked up, grey eyes stricken in his pale face, mouthed something soundless and then vanished.
Harry was alone. Clouds of dirt blew up about him; he put one hand over his mouth and nose; the other protected his glasses. Flying stones bit into his legs, tore at the material of his trousuers. He winced, and tried to step forwards. Surprisingly, the earth was firm beneath his feet relieved, he pushed on, fighting the howling winds.
I'm in the middle of a storm, he thought; a dust storm. A desert, then? He ploughed onwards, the reassuring weight of his wand offering small comfort in the pocket of his jacket. He dodged his head lower, feeling rather like those Muggle Arabian explorers he'd read about.
"Hello?" he tried, but recieved only a mouth full of upthrust sand. He spat.
Are the others around here somewhere? he wondered. Do we have to find each other before we can begin? Or is this another war I have fight on my own? And what the hell is End Game, anyway..?
Up ahead the dust had thickened into a churning wall. Harry gritted his teeth. At the edge of the dust-wall, he took a deep breath understanding, somehow, that what he had come to find was on the opposite side. Here goes nothing, he thought and plunged in.
For a few moments he was buffetted by the winds and the rocks, but before he could cry out in pain he emerged, bedraggled and muddy, on the other side.
He was standing on the edge of a battle field. The dust storm was gone, reined in by the wall he'd just passed by, and he could see clearly to the bleak and barren horizon. Scattered as far as the eye could see were the bleached bones and the decomposing bodies of dead soldiers dead soldiers and civilians, Harry thought. But they weren't really dead the eyeless sockets and sinew twisted mouths were moving, contra the occasional gusts of winds they were speaking, soft but audible.
HarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotter.. did this..
"Like, no," said Harry. He felt a strange guilt at the accusation, though; he looked away. "What do you mean, I did this?" he muttered.
"We died for you, Harry," said another voice, clearer than the rest.
Harry started, and swung to fix on the person who'd spoken.
It was Cedric Diggory. The handsome, intelligent Hufflepuff who'd been killed by Voldemort, all those years ago. The boy who'd proved himself Harry's equal, or near enough; and been murdered despite everything. The innocent, Harry found his mind supplying.
Cedric was lounging against a broken flagstaff. He looked rather the worse for wear but eleven years of decomposition could do that to a boy. He was a skeleton, or near abouts, wearing only the ragged remnants of his robe. Harry remembered the boy's voice, though; he remembered the way Cedric held himself, proud and benevolent and kind.
"Cedric?" he mumbled.
"Harry," said Cedric, nodding. "This is your war, after all. We died for you."
"Voldemort killed you," said Harry.
"He was aiming for you. I just got in the way. I'm a civilian casualty. Just like your parents. Just like every other wizard or witch who tried to oppose Voldemort, and died in the undertaking. Because it was never between them and Voldemort it was always for you."
"That's not fucking fair," Harry snapped.
"My balls were eaten by weevils ten years ago," Cedric snorted. "I have a beetle in my brain and a bird's nest in my ribcage. What the hell is- fair, Harry, when you think about it?"
"I did not do this," Harry repeated.
"If you say so. But it gets better." Cedric grinned, or tried to his skeletal features were already set in a permanant, beaming grimace. "Follow me."
Harry glanced behind him.
"I don't have a choice, do I?" he said.
"Of course not. This is End Game. No one has a choice. Least of all, you. You can go back and change the past, Harry. Now, come on."
The skeletal Cedric began to tread a path through the bodies, and Harry followed. For a second he thought he heard his mother's voice but he found he couldn't turn around. He didn't want to see her disintegrating; he didn't want to hear her blame him, too.
I didn't ask to be born Harry Potter, he thought. I didn't ask to fight Voldemort. I didn't ask for anything of this. If I had my way, no one would have died. It was all an accident. A stupid, stupid accident. I don't want
He stoppped, because Cedric had stopped. The boy was pointing across the field of the slain toward a small cavern, built out of Harry winced bones.
"You have to be joking," Harry said.
"'Fraid not," said Cedric.
"You're a fool, Tom," Lucius said, his arms folded. "This is suicide. For you, and for them, and for the world, too. There's no point in being the victor if there's no one around to gloat at."
"There's you, Malfoy," said Voldemort, smirking.
"Oh, yes. There is me. But when it's over, you'll still be outside the circle. You'll die like the rest of them. Don't they say that the last one standing is the winner? That would be me my family."
"And you'll be tortured to the end of your miserable, circle-encased existence by the fact that you couldn't beat me. The fact that you couldn't save your own son. That's punishment enough, I think for one who's betrayed me. Too scared to get out and fight, as always, Lucius. Hiding in the wings, sending others out to do your job."
"I wanted to play."
"Only for the glory. Otherwise you would have explained it to the others ahead of time. Isn't that right?"
"Who's to say that I didn't explain it to them?" Lucius demured.
"If you had, it would be over already," said Voldemort. "Over before it had begun, even."
"..bugger," said Lucius.
"You were only ever interested in taking centrestage, Luc. Is that why you decided to change sides? Because you couldn't stand the fact I would order you around? We were always so brilliant together our minds so alike. And should you destroy me, well there will be no one stopping you from taking over the world. The Death Eaters will flock to your side oh, it's only ever been the glory, Lucius. Don't try to fool me into thinking your sentiments are anything more than self-serving. You took in Harry Potter because he was famous, because you thought that if it ever came to this, you'd have the upper hand. If he was any other boy, you'd have had him murdered. Don't deny it."
"He pleases my son," said Lucius, quietly. "You never had a family, Tom. I can't explain it to you in any terms you would understand."
"I had the Death Eaters. I had you. You were my family," Voldemort hissed.
"There's a difference between family and mindless minions," said Lucius. "A small difference but nevertheless.. You didn't love us individually. You loved a mass which could bring you what you desired."
"Semantics, semantics," Voldemort argued.
"Semantics my ass," said Lucius. "You're still an eleven year old orphan whimpering about the fact his parents are dead and why no one loves him. I'll tell you why no one loves you. It's because you're a sociopath. Oh, and the fact you're intending to destroy the universe doesn't win you any points either with the ladies. So, maybe I wanted glory. But I wanted it in my family's name, not in mine."
"Your name is your family's," Voldemort pointed out.
"Don't be picky," said Lucius.
In the tunnel of bones, Harry hunched his shoulders he didn't dare to touch the walls. This isn't fair, he thought again. I didn't want this. I didn't want this war. I didn't mean it to happen it began before I was born, anyway. This is not my fault. This is not my
A bright light flooded the tunnel. Harry turned to his left, and saw a niche in the wall, a screen inset in the bones. It was almost like a Muggle television set, only there was no frame. Inside it, Harry saw Lucius and Narcissa argueing.
"You can't adopt him," said Narcissa. "Why? He's not even of Malfoy blood. Draco's crush on him will be over soon we can send him out. I'm sick of pulling underwear and socks out of the couches."
"This is my house, Narcissa," Lucius snapped. "You'll do as I say."
"I won't have Potter in my "
She stopped she'd been forced to. Lucius had hit her, hard across the face. Harry winced he couldn't believe it. Lucius would never hit Narcissa. And definately not over him. Harry didn't want to see any more; he ducked his head and moved on through the tunnel.
Another screen glittered at him from the opposite side of the tunnel. Harry paused.
"Still looking out for that Potter boy, Lupin? Don't you know he isn't worth your time?"
"I have a duty to him. To his father. As do you, Snape " Remus couldn't help but smirk.
"I've saved his life too many times to count," said Serverus. "I've repaid my debt. Though you're evidently so foolish as to continue crawling along behind him, like a dog if I might say so "
"Take that back," Remus snarled.
They reached for their wands at the same time. Horrified, Harry moved on.
"Fuck you, Granger."
Draco was standing, with his hands on his hips, glaring at Hermione. They were in the dining hall at Hogwarts the duo couldn't have been more than thirteen.
"You know it's true," said Hermione, mildly. "You're just jealous of Harry. You always have been. That's the only reason you tease him."
Draco's features were pinched and pale. With a wild yell, he threw himself at her.
Harry flinched, and moved to the next screen.
"You don't do anything with us anymore," Peter Pettigrew was complaining. "All you think about is that damned baby. Forgotten you have friends, have you?"
"Don't call him that damned baby," Lily snapped. "His name is Harry.."
Harry tore himself away before the two could come to blows, and stumbled onwards. He could feel his pulse beating away in his temples, and the whispers of the dead outside..
"Well, Weasley? If you love him, and I love him, I guess we'll just have to fight, and let the best man win."
"You're on, Malfoy."
"Look, Vincent, Gregory I'm in love with him. I can't explain it any better than that. So you'll either have to deal with it, or fuck off."
"Or we could just deal with you, Draco. Heh, heh.."
"Draco. I forbid you to see him. I won't have a member of my family associated with that sort of "
"Oh, Father? Well, just try and make me stop."
HarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotter.. did this..
"Stop it!" Harry screamed at them all. "I didn't ask you for this! I didn't want it. I didn't ask to be me!" He ran, no longer stopping to stare at the screens which blared their luminous conspiracies at him.
"You're playing dirty," Lucius commented.
"My game. My rules."
"You don't want this," Lucius repeated. "You don't not really. You want revenge, but this isn't revenge it's mindless, wasteful stupidity. Go kill old Albus if you want to get your day's excitement. But don't do it like this."
"Are you pleading with me, Lucius?" Voldemort asked.
"You know me, Tom. You know how low I can stoop. To beg if the situation and the stakes demand it of me. But you know that even on my knees, I can be proud."
Voldemort laughed. "I suppose you taught your son that, too?" he said.
"..bastard," said Lucius, emphaticly.
The tunnel had broadened into a cavern, a dead end. On the far wall hung a sword a silver-green metal. Behind him, Harry could hear the sounds of people stumbling were they chasing him, those malformed skeletons from the battlefield? Their voices were thick in his ears:
Unthinking, he dashed across the room and tugged the sword down from the wall. Holding his wand in one hand, and the sword in the other, he prepared himself for the worst.
They crawled from the tunnel, like zombies and with Cedric at the fore of them, leading the charge. Their bones were brittle, some of them were missing limbs and heads, but still they continued. Harry backed away, waving the sword hopelessly infront of him.
I can't possibly fight all these people, he thought. This isn't fair. This isn't right. I won't I can't someone "help me!". The last part was a scream.
HarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotter.. did this..
They closed in around him; Harry could smell the decay of their rotting flesh it was almost enough to make him retch. He gasped, and flung out his arm, wildly aiming for anything. He felt it hit bone, shattering it and then the sword burst into light, as if aflame. The zombies staggered forwards, some of them shrieking as they caught alight, but all the time drawing closer, pressing in against him.
Harry swung the sword. Their hands enveloped him, dragging his wand from his fingertips, snapping it in two. He thought he saw his mother, somewhere in the crowd then she too was engulfed in the spreading flame.
They were going to bury him alive, make a pyre of their own bodies and set him aflame, as mortal fuel beneath the twig-dry skeletons.
The ceiling collapsed.
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