- Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter
- Ginny Weasley Harry Potter
- Drama General
- The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 11/27/2004Updated: 07/12/2005Words: 244,604Chapters: 33Hits: 95,778
Harry Potter and the Curse of the Damned
- Story Summary:
- Seventh-year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he's hiding how much it's affecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort discovers what's in the ancient texts?
- Chapter Summary:
- Seventh year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he’s hiding how much it’s effecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort learns of the existence of these ancient texts? Would this be HP fanfiction if it were that easy?
- Author's Note:
- Okay, fair warning. This chapter contains some graphic violence, so be prepared.
The Curse of the Damned
Voldemort's eyes widened slightly as he took in the small group of determined followers standing behind Harry. Although their expressions were grim, they all stared back at the Dark Lord defiantly.
"You surprise me, Harry Potter. I hadn't expected you to bring along any spares this time," he said, his mouth twisting into a hideous manifestation of a grin. His long, thin fingers stroked his chin as he spoke.
Harry felt a chill run up his spine, but refused to let his apprehension show on his face. He clenched his fists tightly. "You've got your...friends; I've got mine," he said, staring dubiously at the Death Eaters huddled around Luna in the corner.
"He dares defile our lord with his cheek," Bellatrix spat. "Let us take out his silly little followers now. The Mudblood's presence is an insult to us all." Harry felt rather than saw Neville tense behind him as Ron stepped protectively in front of Hermione.
"Stand down, Bella," Voldemort hissed, and Bellatrix stepped back meekly, although her eyes lost none of their insanity. "This is my moment, and I will play it out in its entirety. I want his little group to witness his destruction. I'll even allow one of them to survive and spread the tale of his downfall to the rest of world. Lord Voldemort will finally reign again, and Harry Potter will be no more."
George leaned a slightly injured Fred against a pillar and moved to stand defensively by Harry's side. Harry watched Voldemort carefully, prepared to defend whichever of Harry's friends that the Dark Lord targeted first.
"Would you care to choose which one survives, Potter? Take your pick...I might even grant your request," Voldemort said, fluttering his emaciated fingers in the air. Harry had no doubt that if he ever named a person - as if he could - that person would be the first one struck down.
As Voldemort ranted, Harry glanced over at Ginny. Using his Legilimency skills, he tried to read her thoughts in order to learn what had been done to her, but there was nothing there to read. Her mind was blank and open. It was Ginny, and yet it wasn't. For a moment, it shook Harry more than anything else had thus far, until he realized that she was under the Imperius. Ginny was gone, and Voldemort currently controlled her mind - just like it had happened in his dream.
Harry swallowed painfully and dragged his eyes away. She was alive, and that was the most important thing. He intended to see to it that she remained alive throughout this confrontation. That horrible dream would not come to fruition. He had to find a way of getting Voldemort's attention away from Ginny, so that he could cast the Curse of the Damned and end this thing once and for all. There would be no more escaping; at least one of them wouldn't leave this Chamber alive today.
His gaze moved towards Luna, who also hadn't spoken since they'd arrived in the Chamber. Harry extended the stealthy tendrils of his now powerful Legilimency control towards the girl. He'd expected to find her mind in the same state as Ginny's, but he was shocked to find that her thoughts were her own, if still not easy to read.
Luna's thoughts jumped all over the place, moving so quickly that it was hard to latch onto a single thread. If this was how her mind worked on a normal basis, no wonder she appeared so out of it all the time.
Harry had mastered Legilimency a long time ago and was powerful enough to keep even Voldemort out of his thoughts, but reading Luna was damn near impossible. Her mind was so jumbled and full, it was almost like she was a natural Legilimens. The one, clear, strong piece of information Harry could gather had something to do with her mother, but Harry wasn't certain what that meant.
"As you can see, my faithful followers have this situation well in hand. My dedicated servant, Narcissa, has redeemed herself to me with the manipulation of one close to you, enabling me to remain aware of your activities," Voldemort said. His voice was seductive and hypnotic, and Harry had to shake his head to keep from being mesmerized. "Does this all seem vaguely familiar to you, Harry? You see, your foolish attempts at Occlumency in order to keep me out of your mind were useless. Lord Voldemort always knows."
"Luna," Harry asked, ignoring Voldemort. "Why?"
Luna's dreamy expression hardened as she looked at Harry. "I know you're not the real Harry Potter; I know what you've done with him. My mother told me everything," she said, taking a step closer to Narcissa.
Confusion showed on Harry's face; he knew that Luna's mother had been dead for a long time. "What? It is me, Luna. They're tricking you, somehow."
"You're the one who has been tricked," Luna said fiercely. It's all a plot by the Ministry to keep us from communicating with the next world. It's why they've silenced my father's paper - because it reveals too much of the truth."
"My mother managed to escape, and she told me how they are the ones who want to allow the spirits free, and the Ministry is trying to stop them," Luna shouted, pointing at the Death Eaters surrounding her.
"The Ministry has the real Harry Potter, because he heard the voices in that Veil, too. They want to stop him from telling the truth, and you're one of them," Luna said, taking a step towards him.
"You're mad," Harry said, automatically taking a step back. His mind flashed on how easy it would be trick Luna. She was always slightly out there, anyway, and a little more strange behavior would go unnoticed.
"It's true, isn't it, Mum?" Luna asked, turning towards Narcissa.
Narcissa smiled coldly as her features began changing. Her hair lengthened and became even lighter; her eyes became the same intense blue as Luna's. She continued to transform until she resembled an older version of the girl.
"Luna, I told you, darling. I can't freely come back until we take control of the Ministry. The people will help us if we expose that this Harry is a fraud," Narcissa said, malice gleaming in her eyes.
"She's tricking you, Luna," Hermione shouted. "Can't you see that? It's Narcissa Malfoy, and she's a Metamorphmagus."
"Silence, Mudblood," Bellatrix sneered, sending a stunner towards Hermione, who easily shielded herself from it. Harry moved to stand between Hermione and Bellatrix.
"Hold your fire, Bella. I warned you once already," Voldemort said quietly, but the power in his voice was palpable. Bellatrix lowered her wand.
"Yes, master," she said, bowing her head.
"Don't listen to her, darling," Narcissa said, running her hand along Luna's upturned face. "You know the truth; you can feel it here," she said, laying her hand on Luna's heart. She turned and smiled wickedly at Harry. "You've done your part, Luna, and you shall be rewarded. Luna has been most forthcoming with information on your activities. Aside from a brief lapse in judgement when she broke up with Longbottom, she's been most helpful."
Neville inhaled sharply.
"You're wrong," Luna said to Hermione. "My mother is here. She's only inhabiting this body until she can be free to roam on her own. That won't happen until the current Ministry can be overturned. The way to do that is to reveal that this Harry is an imposter and has been for quite some time. My mother contacted me last summer, and she's kept in touch with me all year. We'll be together again soon, forever."
"Oh, Luna," Hermione said sadly. "They've thoroughly manipulated you."
"You think that you can beat me, Harry? You think that this Curse of the Damned will enable you to get the best of me?" Voldemort asked, dragging Harry's attention away from Luna. Harry's eyes widened in alarm.
"Oh, yes...I know all about your little plans. Ms. Lovegood was quite forthcoming. You will never succeed. Old Magic is useless and a waste of time. That is why it is called Old Magic - because it's outdated and based on fallacies. Dumbledore was a fool to trust it. A fool who did eventually succumb to Lord Voldemort...as will you."
Harry clenched his fists in anger. "Albus Dumbledore was the greatest wizard who ever lived, and you know it. That's why you feared him."
Voldemort's nostrils flared. "Lord Voldemort fears no one. I didn't fear him; I killed him."
"You didn't kill him; he sacrificed himself to save me. He chose to do that...because he loved me," Harry said, his voice cracking. He'd never felt more certain about his convictions, and he felt that, even now, Dumbledore was here with him, somehow.
"Love," Voldemort spat in contempt. "There is no such thing. I told you before, boy, there is no such thing as love, only power and those - like yourself - too weak to seek it. I gave you the chance once before to join me and feel the rush of glory my power can bring. I will not offer that chance again. You will die here, today, and my victory shall be complete."
"You've been beaten by love once before," Harry said, nearly spitting his words.
Voldemort's upper lip curled back with his hatred. "I underestimated the blood protection your Muggleborn mother gave you, but Dumbledore's sacrifice didn't have anything to do with blood. It wasn't the same thing, and it has nothing to do with me."
He stopped and allowed his gaze to roam over Ginny, who stood immobile and staring at Harry with vacant eyes. "You...who put so much faith in love...are a fool, Harry Potter. Let us see how much young Ginevra here really loves you. Shall we, Harry?" he asked as he caressed Ginny's cheek with one long, skeletal finger.
"Leave her out of this, Tom. This is between you and me," Harry said, forcing himself to hold his ground. He wanted to rush forward and physically drag Voldemort's hand off of his Ginny. Sparks flew from the end of his wand as he struggled to hold his temper. He wanted to lash out and strike, but Dumbledore had drilled it into his head to let Voldemort attack first, if possible. This time, he wasn't going to make any mistakes. But so help him, if that wanker didn't get his hands off Ginny he was going to forget the wand and punch him in the nose!
"Do not call me by that name," Voldemort snarled, his attention returning to Harry.
"Why? It's the name your mother gave you. Your father's name," Harry said, knowing Voldemort was close to losing control. Words were weapons; he'd seen both Snape and Malfoy use them effectively, never mind the Dursleys. He could do it, too. If he couldn't strike with his wand as he longed to do, he'd try and goad him into beginning this battle.
"My name is Lord Voldemort, and I am the greatest wizard in the world. There is no trace of that weak fool left in me," Voldemort said, shaking with impotent rage.
"So, you're a half-blood, then? Well, if your power can overcome what you consider to be a weakness in your bloodline, why can't all half-bloods do the same? And...if half-bloods can do it, why not simply teach those of Muggle parentage how to use their power to strengthen it? Oh...hmm...isn't that what Professor Dumbledore has been doing all along?" Harry asked, his voice mocking.
Voldemort's rage consumed him. His face contorted into a grimace of rage, and he unleashed a powerful Cruciatus Curse towards Harry. Harry dropped to his knees and rolled out of the way. His friends all backed away, widening the circle around him, but keeping their wands trained on the menacing figure in front of them. Only Ginny remained still where she stood, never even looking for cover. Voldemort fired another three curses at Harry in rapid succession, and Harry managed to dodge all of them. He wanted to return the fire, but feared hitting Ginny in the process. He had to draw Voldemort away from her.
It didn't take Voldemort long to realize Harry's dilemma.
"You fool. You don't want to hit the girl, so you risk taking a curse yourself. You're an idiot, boy. Is that how to hurt you, then? Is the secret not to aim at you at all?" Voldemort asked, his eyes taking on a sickening, malicious gleam. The delight nearly radiated off him. He raised his wand slowly, as if tantalizing Harry with his every move. He stopped when his wand was aimed directly at Ginny.
"Sorry, my dear, but there has been a change in plans," he said, smiling cruelly. "Crucio."
Harry didn't think; he simply moved. As a ray of light sped from Voldemort's wand towards Ginny's still form, Harry leapt from his position on the floor and dove towards her. He took the curse full in the chest and landed on the ground, thrashing madly. He had one coherent thought before the excruciating pain completely overtook his mind - that Voldemort's Cruciatus was ten times worse than anyone else's. He'd forgotten how much it hurt. His screams echoed off the walls and reverberated throughout the Chamber. He bit through his own tongue, trying to contain his screams.
He could hear Ron's voice shouting above all the other voices and saw enough colors and flashes of light above him to know that curses were being fired. He instinctively knew that the others had joined the fray, but the agony he was experiencing was so intense, so all-consuming, that he could focus on nothing else. Then, the pain stopped as suddenly as it had started, and Harry was left in a heap on the floor, panting and trying to reorient himself. Ginny remained in the same spot, staring at him still with emotionless eyes.
"Ginny," he whispered, struggling to rise to his feet and holding his wand out in front of him.
He could see Hermione battling with Narcissa and trying to reason with Luna, while Ron and George both volleyed curses with Lucius. Percy and Fred had already stunned several of the other Death Eaters, who lay unmoving on the floor. Percy was muttering something about Minister Fudge insisting that these people hadn't been Death Eaters, and he seemed to be taking it personally.
What alarmed him most was watching Neville stalk towards Bellatrix with a manic gleam in his eyes. There was no trace of the timid boy Neville had been. Harry could feel Neville's hatred radiating off of him.
"Neville," Ron said.
"She's mine," Neville replied, never taking his eyes off the woman who had ripped his family apart.
As Ron was distracted by Neville's battle with Bellatrix, Lucius raised his wand and aimed it at Ron.
"Ron, duck!" Harry shouted, firing a powerful bludgeoning Curse at Lucius and knocking him to the ground. His curse flew harmlessly in the air. Panting, Harry turned back towards Ginny. "Ginny."
"He's calling to you, Ginevra. You must answer him." Voldemort's manipulative voice called his attention away from the battle. He completely ignored what was happening with his Death Eaters except for a brief scowl directed at Lucius. Voldemort stood next to Ginny, whispering in her ear.
Ginny's wand rose in the air slowly. Her hand shook, as if she were fighting the motion. Her pale skin appeared almost transparent in the dim light of the Chamber, and Harry thought that she was in pain.
"Leave her alone," Harry snarled.
"That's right, Ginevra. You know what you must do. Do it now." Voldemort whispered in her ear seductively.
"Amburoustum,"Ginny said tonelessly.
Harry instinctively raised a shield to protect himself, not knowing what the curse would do. "Protego."
A thin liquid substance sprayed from Ginny's wand, but as the droplets hit his shield with a sharp hissing sound, they deflected back towards Ginny. She was sprayed with several drops of the unknown liquid. Harry saw smoke rising from her skin where the liquid had made contact, and he realized that it was burning her. She didn't make a sound, but he could see the pain deep within her eyes.
"Ginny!" he yelled in horror, taking a step towards her. He desperately wanted to wipe the stuff off of her and stop her pain, but he had to hold his position. What have I done?
Voldemort kept his wand pointed at Harry while he leaned towards Ginny and said, "Again, Ginevra. Do it again."
Ginny whimpered but raised her wand. "Amburoustum," she said with a hitch in her voice. Portions of the burned skin on her arm were literally hanging off of her in clumps.
Harry couldn't bear to raise a shield, knowing that it would hit her again. His horrified gaze was transfixed on the burnt flesh exposed on her hand and arm. Instead, he turned his body to the side and tried to pull back as far away from her as possible.
Burning drops of acid landed on the side of his face, his shoulder, and down his back. The thin material of his robe smoked and burnt away quickly, and only the briefest of moments passed before it touched his skin. His robes burst into flames very quickly, and he had to roll on the ground to put the fire out. He began shaking violently, but used every ounce of willpower he possessed to keep the shock at bay.
His face burned with excruciating pain, and he fought the urge to claw at his skin to get it off. He knew that would only make it worse. He could feel his skin oozing a weepy kind of substance, and he assumed it came from the open wounds. His entire face felt wet and sticky.
The feeling on his back was much the same as on his face. It felt damp with moisture, and he wanted to cry out in agony from the spots where the fabric from his shirt had fused with his skin. If he craned his neck, he could see blisters rising from the redness.
Oddly, the skin on his shoulder and arm looked worse - it was blackened and charred, and the sight of it made him want to be sick - but it didn't hurt at all. In fact, he'd lost all sensation in his arm. It was his back that was killing him.
Harry called up his Occlumency shield and used the Tai Chi skills that Jonathan had taught him to focus on something besides the pain. Getting his breathing under control was the first step. Once he was in his calm place, he reached his mind back towards Ginny. He'd seen her hand shaking. His Ginny was in there somewhere, fighting for control, and he had to help her.
Her mind was still blank, but he could sense her more this time. Her mind resembled a heavy gray fog, but he was certain he could hear a distant screaming.
"Ginny?" he called out to her within his mind. "You can fight this, Ginny."
"Harry, you fool," Voldemort laughed almost gaily. He was enjoying this immensely. "You think a foolish little girl can beat me? She'll never resist me; she never could."
Harry felt the familiar rush of Ginny's anger within her mind. He could feel her presence stronger than before...and she was fighting.
"He's not finished yet, Ginevra. Hit him again," Voldemort commanded.
"No, Ginny, don't. It's me; it's Harry. Follow my voice; you can fight him. You're stronger than him, Ginny. I know you are."
"Harry?" her voice was vague and faraway, sounding very unsure.
"I'm here, Ginny. You're doing great. Fight him."
"Ginevra, I said to curse him again, you stupid girl," Voldemort demanded.
Ginny's entire body shook as she struggled to shake off the Imperius. Her arm rose again, and for a moment Harry thought she'd failed.
"Ambur-," she began before spinning in the opposite direction and snarling at Voldemort. "No! You bastard. I hate you. I hate you. Amburoustum."
The curse left Ginny's wand and hit Voldemort before he even had time to raise a shield. He was still too stunned that Ginny had broken away from his Imperius Curse. In that split second of confusion, Harry grabbed her and pulled her away from the madman in front of him. He raised his hand and shoved at the blank air, using his anger to force Voldemort back and away from them.
He wanted to hold Ginny and calm her and tell her everything would be all right, but he couldn't do that right then. There was no time, and he was still using most of his energy to block the pain from his burns. Instead, he dragged her slight body behind him and pushed her towards Fred, who remained standing behind him, using a pillar to support his injured leg. Fred caught her and pulled her tenderly to his chest. She was crying hysterically, but Fred held her firmly in place. Harry used his eyes to plead with Fred to keep her there, and Fred nodded mutely in acknowledgement.
Voldemort's screams from the burning acid finally lessened. The skin on his face hung in clumps, peeling and raw. Open sores oozed painfully, and Harry shuddered to know that his own face couldn't look much better. Voldemort turned his hate-filled eyes towards Ginny. "No one dares to defile Lord Voldemort."
"She got you, and she got you good, didn't she, Tom? You should see her Bat Bogey Hex. You don't want to mess with her," Harry said calmly. Now that Ginny was out of the way and free from Voldemort's spell, Harry allowed his full anger to surface. How dare he touch her? He was going to pay for that. Harry felt that surge of power that he'd felt during his duel with Snape, only this time, he let it come. His fingers tingled with energy as he glared at his foe.
"Diffindo," he snarled and was satisfied to see his curse meet its target.
Voldemort's eyes widened in surprise that Harry was able to penetrate his shield. "Insolent fool," Voldemort snarled. "Crucio!"
Harry easily dodged this one and returned with a Stunner and a particularly harsh Stinging hex that Abe had shown him. Voldemort blocked them without effort. They circled each other, each firing curses at such a rapid rate it was hard for the eye to follow. They each met with limited success, but each would hit their mark on occasion. Harry felt rejuvenated as he allowed himself to unleash some of his anger and frustration. He'd come a long way from the last time they'd dueled. Both combatants became bloodied and bruised, but remained on their feet without stopping. It was only when they both fired at the same time that something went wrong.
Harry and Voldemort's curses hit in the middle and ricocheted sideways. Harry's bounced harmlessly off the wall, but Voldemort's more powerful Cruciatus hit Bellatrix, who was still battling with Neville. She went down in a heap, panting and howling. Something about her screams was oddly sensual and out of place under the dire circumstances. Harry knew without a shadow of a doubt that Bellatrix had enjoyed that pain, and it made him shudder with revulsion.
Voldemort lifted the curse immediately, confusion written clearly on his serpentine face. Harry used this moment of distraction to fire and once again hit his mark. Voldemort raised his wand and fired a curse at Harry, who easily blocked it. They began their battle anew. Harry's mind worked furiously. He knew that their wands were brothers; they shared the same core and couldn't be trusted in battle against each other. Voldemort lacked this piece of information, however. Harry had never revealed that important detail when he'd given his interview to the Quibbler and pretended to be just as confused as everyone else over why Priori Incantatum had occurred. In fact, he'd been so uncomfortable with yet another strange connection to Voldemort that he hadn't even told his friends about the brother wands.
Professor Dumbledore had shown Harry a way to get around the problem, and Harry wanted to use this bit of information to his advantage. Dumbledore had told him to aim his wand slightly to the left while saying the curse, only jerking it back into place at the final second the words of whatever spell he was using left his lips. He'd told Harry that by adjusting his wand at the last second, he could control the aim of his spell.
Harry grew weary with the exertion of the battle. The Cruciatus had taken a lot out of him, and his back ached painfully. He could feel his skin ripping anew with every move he made. Still, he fought to continue his meditative breathing in order to block the pain and continued the battle. As their spells crossed again, Harry realized too late that Voldemort's spell had ricocheted towards Fred and Ginny. Fred took a powerful bludgeoning blast that forced him into the stone pillar, gasping for breath. In the confusion, his grip on Ginny lessened, and she turned her tear-streaked face towards Harry and Voldemort.
"Ginny, no!" he shouted, but his moment of distraction was enough.
Voldemort's Bludgeoning Curse hit him in the chest and forced him back several meters, gasping for breath. He sat on floor for a moment, shaking his head to try and clear it. He spat out some blood and struggled to rise on his shaking legs while Voldemort watched him with sadistic amusement, like a cat toying with a mouse before he killed it.
"You are an idiot, Harry, and she is your greatest mistake. You never should have let a woman get to you, regardless of how attracted you are to her. She is a weakness. Women are to be used to meet your needs and discarded. I'd thought better of you, but you're obviously no smarter than your father. He allowed his base needs to cloud his judgement concerning a woman, as well," Voldemort said, sneering.
"You coward!" Ginny raged. She'd drawn herself up to her full height and hissed like a fierce tigress "You like to think you're this great powerful wizard...but you're not. You're weak and loathsome. What? You need to prove your greatness by attacking a defenseless baby?"
"Ginny," Harry said, desperately wanting her to be quiet and let him do what he had to do before she became another spare. Ginny, of course, was not buying into his plans to keep her out of it for an instant.
Voldemort was incensed by Ginny's disdain. "I am Lord Voldemort. I am the strongest wizard to ever live."
"Lily Potter was ten times stronger than you," Ginny said, crossing her arms defiantly. "She wasn't afraid of you. She stood up to you. She defended her child, her FIFTEEN MONTH OLD child against you, and she beat you. She had more power than you could ever hope to have."
"And I destroyed her," Voldemort snarled. "She couldn't manage to save her own life against me."
"It wasn't her own life that she was trying to save - it was her baby's - because he meant more to her than anything else ever could, her own life included. And you can never know the power behind that love," Ginny said smugly.
"SILENCE!" Voldemort shouted. "You will learn your proper place and to kneel before me in submission before I kill you, foolish girl."
Ginny lifted her chin in the air and spat.
Harry's scar flared with pain from Voldemort's surge of hatred. He clamped a hand to it as he silently cheered for his girlfriend. She refused to be cowed by this bully, and Harry wouldn't be, either.
Voldemort's cold eyes locked on Ginny's, and he took a step towards her, raising his wand. "Avada-"
"No!" Harry leaned over and physically grabbed the hem of Vodemort's robe. He gave a strong tug, causing Voldemort to stumble; he had to fight to keep his balance. Harry aimed his wand and fired a powerful cutting curse that tore into the side of Voldemort's leg, making him howl with pain. Blood gushed from the wound, pooling on the floor.
Taking advantage of his lead, he conjured salt and scattered it across Voldemort's gaping wound. Voldemort shrieked in pain and hissed like a serpent, but still managed to rise to his feet. Now that he had Voldemort's complete attention once again, the battle resumed. Harry was alit from within by that all-intense power, and he radiated with a bright white light. He cast curse after curse and volleyed Voldemort's spells back, using Professor Dumbledore's trick wrist movement. Whenever they fired at the same time, Voldemort's spells misfired, and Harry could detect the extreme annoyance and confusion in his foe. It was time to try the Curse of the Damned. Both were tired, and a lot of their energy had been exerted; he just had to maneuver Voldemort into the open center of the Chamber.
"You have come a long way, young Harry, but you'll never be a match for me," Voldemort said, caressing his wand with reverence.
As Voldemort's wand misfired yet again, he finally lost his patience and fired the Killing Curse towards Harry. Harry countered with a Bludgeoning Curse and dove out of the way.
The two curses connected once again, and the green light of Voldemort's Killing Curse headed straight towards Narcissa Malfoy. Her frigid eyes widened in mute horror. In a split second, she grasped Luna's robes and forced the girl in front of her, using her as a shield.
"Mum?" Luna asked, bewildered, before the rushing sound reached her, and she was enveloped in the sickly green light for a brief instant before dropping to the ground. Her lifeless blue eyes remained open, but the quirky dreaminess that was Luna was gone.
Hermione, who had been standing next to them, froze in horror for a moment. It was Narcissa's slight movement that snapped her out of her daze.
"You foul, loathsome, evil woman," she hissed, firing a powerful stunner at Narcissa. Mrs. Malfoy raised a shield, but it crumbled under the power of Hermione's spell, and she slumped unconscious to the floor.
Hermione gently knelt beside Luna and wept.
Harry clenched his jaw as his anger pulsed and throbbed in his veins. He felt such hatred that it burned along his windpipe. They'd taken Luna's desire to see her mum again, and they'd tricked her. They'd used her in the cruelest way, and he wanted them to pay for it. His emerald-colored eyes glowed with power as he looked towards his foe.
He and Voldemort resumed their duel. Both were physically wounded and exhausted at this point, but neither was willing to concede. The battle was fierce and intense. Sparks flew from Harry's wand as he furiously cast spell after spell. Voldemort's spells continued to go awry each time he cast one at the same moment as Harry.
"Interesting spell you've cast on my wand," Voldemort said, stopping the battle and staring at his wand. "If I had more time, I'd like you to teach me what it is, but, alas, your time has come."
He transfigured his useless wand into a glistening sword with a sharp, gleaming blade. "I think it's time to change tactics."
Harry grinned. "A Muggle weapon, Tom? My, how the mighty have fallen."
Voldemort's face contorted with anger, and he thrust his sword at Harry's mid-section. Harry twirled and moved away. He was about to transfigure his own wand when Fawkes once again swooped into the Chamber, carrying Godric Gryffindor's sword. He dropped it right into Harry's outstretched hand and trilled a song that filled Harry's heart with hope. Somehow, having Fawkes there not only calmed him, but made him feel powerful. He could do this.
"You're going to die, and a foolish songbird won't help you," Voldemort said confidently. He thrust his sword, and the two began to parry.
"So be it," Harry said, as their swords clanked together. Physically, Harry was spent, and even raising the sword was a considerable effort. He hoped Voldemort felt half as bad as he did.
"How can you look at death so casually?" Voldemort asked with contempt.
"I don't, but I know stopping you is more important, and I know people will miss me - that my life has been worthwhile. Can you say the same, Tom?" Harry asked, thrusting his sword and positioning Voldemort in the center of the room.
He felt powerful and strong. Those words were the exact opposite of everything the Dursleys had ever told him, and yet he knew they were true. That feeling invigorated him, causing his adrenaline to rush in a burst of power. It was time. Letting the sword fall to his side, Harry raised his wand and aimed it at Voldemort.
"Mortalis Patronum," he bellowed, releasing the power of the Curse of the Damned. A golden smoke issued from Harry's wand, and the beam of glowing light connected with Voldemort's wand with crackling intensity. Harry's arm began to shake immediately, sending waves of penetrating agony along the burns on his back. Fawkes trilled serenely from his perch near the opening from where the Basilisk had once emerged.
Voldemort's arm shook, as well. "So, you've decided to use this archaic magic, anyway?" he asked, panting. "It will do you no good; I cannot be defeated, and I won't let this nonsense continue. Your silly little friend told me all about your Curse of the Damned. Honestly, Harry, I expected better from you. Do you still think your dead mummy can help you?"
"She certainly succeeded the last time," Harry replied, focusing all his energy and will on maintaining the connection. He refused to let Voldemort's words affect him.
"That was then; this is now," Voldemort replied, sounding almost bored.
"And you're still underestimating her power," Harry said calmly.
He saw a flicker of annoyance flash across Voldemort's face before the mask of indifference fell back into place once again. Both combatants trembled with fatigue as the light between their wands grew and faded at random.
Harry began to see dark spots in his peripheral vision and knew he was close to passing out. He shook his head and forced himself to focus. Voldemort was strong, stronger than any other opponent that he'd ever faced. Harry needed an edge, something to strengthen his power and give him the advantage.
His gaze flickered to Ginny, and he felt his love for her surge. She was huddled against the pillar with Fred, watching his struggle with a look of sheer terror upon her face. He watched her face, fascinated by the flow of tears and knew with the power of his Legilimency skills that the guilt she felt for cursing him was overwhelming her.
If Harry didn't succeed - if something went wrong and he were the one to die - it wouldn't matter that Ginny had survived. The guilt of what she'd been forced to do would kill her. Harry wouldn't let that happen. He had to survive - for her.
The sound of Fawkes' song filled his heart with emotion. Pouring all the love he felt for Ginny into his magic - and noticing that the pain in his scar receded until it diminished as he did - Harry grit his teeth and pushed.
The beam of light grew stronger and brighter, crackling with its raw power and intensity. The light grew and grew until it filled the cavern and caused everyone but Harry to shield their eyes from the brightness. The light from Voldemort's wand seemed to meld and join with Harry's bright white light until the entire Chamber was glowing with an ethereal quality.
"What is this?" Voldemort hissed, and Harry could feel the uncertainty in his voice.
Figures emerged from the light, hundreds of shapes made of light, easily distinguishable as the people they once were. One shape rose behind Harry and spoke in a voice Harry thought he'd never hear again.
"Hello, Tom. I told you we would meet again," Professor Dumbledore said, smiling benignly. The twinkling in his eyes literally made them sizzle with raw power.
"Impossible," Voldemort said. "You're dead."
"I am and thus wield a power far greater than you will ever know. I denounce you, Tom, and claim your magic for your crimes against me. I hereby start the chain," Dumbledore said, raising his glowing hand towards Voldemort. A beam of light shot forth and connected the two. Voldemort screamed when the light hit him, and Professor Dumbledore appeared to glow even brighter before his figure faded.
Voices echoed around the Chamber, all repeating the same words as victim after victim of Voldemort's wrath claimed a piece of his power as payment for their own demise. Harry recognized the majority of the faces - he'd been listing these people in his head for years now. They were all of Voldemort's victims. The room was so bright that Harry thought it would burst with the intensity. He could see his friends huddled against the walls, shielding their eyes from the light and yet still trying to see what was happening.
"Thanks for giving me this chance, Harry," Charlie's voice came from somewhere to his left. Harry heard Ginny's gasp when she saw the form of her brother.
Other victims moved forward as those who'd already shot their beams stepped back. Voldemort dropped to his knees as the light appeared to pierce his skin. Another figure stepped into Charlie's place and met Harry with a familiar grin.
"Hey, kiddo. I knew you could do it."
"Sirius," Harry choked out. He'd managed to control the shock from his burns, but this was too much, and he felt his grip fading.
"Stay strong, Harry. I've waited so long for this," Sirius said, raising his wand and connecting a beam of light to Voldemort. "Take that, you bastard."
Sirius glowed brightly for an instant before he began to fade. The last thing Harry could distinguish was Sirius winking at him, and his heart broke again.
"Don't go," he whispered futilely.
Harry couldn't drag his eyes from the fading image of Sirius and was thus startled to see Jonathan Taylor stepping forth. With him was a woman with long dark hair and two young children tugging on his robes.
"Thank you for giving me this chance. I always wanted to be involved in his downfall, and now you've let me do that," Jonathan said.
Harry's breath caught in his throat when Cedric approached him. He nodded solemnly at Harry before turning to Voldemort. "I had plans and dreams, you bastard. I had things I wanted to do. I claim your magic for your crimes against me."
Harry felt tears streaking down his face as he watched Cedric's light fade.
His head spun. He didn't know why he wasn't affected by the brightness as all the others were, but suspected it had something to do with the fact that he'd cast the spell. He didn't have more than a moment to reflect upon it as two more figures stepped forward. The light from his parents seemed to shimmer the closer they stepped towards him.
"Mum, Dad," Harry whispered, his lip trembling slightly.
"You did it, Harry. I wish it hadn't had to be you, but you did it," Lily said, gazing lovingly at her son.
"You still need to finish this, Harry," James said. "But I have no doubt you will, and then I want you to live, really live, my son. I'm so proud of you."
Harry swallowed against a painful lump in his throat and nodded solemnly.
Lily turned towards Voldemort, and her face contorted with such rage it was frightening. "How dare you? He was a baby," she screeched, connecting her light with his and dimming it further. Her wrath took the longest time yet to extinguish.
When finally the light in the room began to dim and the last of the figures had faded, Professor Dumbledore's voice filled the Chamber again. "We have done our part, Harry. This is as far as we can go, but he is mortal. Finish it, Harry."
Voldemort, looking battered and bloodied, screeched his rage and pulled away from the last of the light. "I am Lord Voldemort, and I am immortal."
But that was no longer true; the Curse had seen to that.
Harry pulled himself to his feet. He was winded, and his exhaustion was nearly crippling, but he felt oddly at peace. He knew what had to be done, and he was going to do it. His emerald eyes - eyes that were glowing with a power all their own - locked on Voldemort's dimmer red ones.
The Dark Lord was beaten under the ferocity of the attack of light, and he knew it. His eyes scanned the room frantically, looking for an escape. He dropped to his knees next to Narcissa's still stunned body. Her wand lay on the ground next to her, and Voldemort seized it like a drowning man.
Harry's friends raised their own wands around the room, uttering an incantation that Harry had never heard.
He assumed it was the protection spell that Hermione had found in the ancient book of Old Magic, and he fought to keep his Legilimency shield strong. He couldn't let Voldemort realize the others were vulnerable while offering their magic to protect him. As they all chanted the spell in unison, Harry felt a calm, inner peace.
"Avada Kedavra," Voldemort screeched with glee. The powerful spell sped from his wand in a rush of green light aimed directly at Harry. Before it reached him or he'd had the chance to roll away, however, a golden shield appeared around him, slowing the progress of the curse. The spell still grazed his side as it sped passed him, but Harry was left standing, stunned.
His entire left side, from the tip of his shoulder, along his rib cage and down to his hip, burned intensely, stunning him with the overwhelming agony of it. His vision blurred, and he stumbled, grasping the pillar to remain standing. How am I still alive? Their love for me did it, somehow...again.
Harry was overcome with emotion for those around him. These people were his family, and they deserved so much more than what life had given them thus far. Those that Voldemort had killed had taken their vengeance, but it was these living victims whose love kept Harry alive. He used his Legilimency skills to project the intense feelings he had for those around him towards Voldemort. If he could only know these people the way Harry did.
Harry remembered what had hurt Voldemort last year and drew upon his memories of simple scenes in his past. Ginny laughing by the lake, Mrs. Weasley baking him pudding, the twins' showing him their latest inventions, laughing with Ron and Hermione on a kitchen run. Simple, everyday pleasures that had brought him such joy in the midst of the chaos in his life. The real moments...those moments for which he was now fighting.
He could feel those same feelings that he felt for the people in his life returned to him from each of them. They each had stood up, willing to die for him. Every one of them had offered his or her own life for him. Harry's love for them swelled within him in a crescendo of light and sound.
It was more than Voldemort could take. He placed his hands over his ears as if blocking the sound. Blood dripped from his nose and mouth, and he screamed in agony. He fell to his knees, clutching his head in pain.
As Harry watched the pitiful figure in front of him, his mind was filled with images of an angry young boy in an orphanage, getting picked on by other boys. He received another image of a boy alone at Christmas, watching people on the street with bitter loneliness, and Harry couldn't help but feel pity for that long-forgotten boy whose life was eerily reminiscent of his own. A huge wave of compassion rose in Harry's heart; it never had to be this way.
He looked imploringly at his long-time enemy. He still didn't want to kill, no matter what Voldemort had done. There had been circumstances in his life that had made him the way he was, and perhaps it could have been different if he'd been offered the chance.
"It doesn't have to be this way, Tom; you don't have to be this way," Harry said quietly. "You can change. Turn in your wand and accept your punishment. If you surrender now, even if you spend the rest of your life in Azkaban, you can still do the right thing by having your followers stand down. Let it go, Tom."
Voldemort's face filled with a hatred so intense, the power of it alone should have brought Harry to his knees. "Never," he spat. "Don't you dare pity me; I am stronger than you can ever hope to be."
Using the mind link to his own advantage, he sent image after hateful image towards Harry. Details of the crimes he'd committed against innocents, and the power he felt from committing those crimes. With a hateful glare, he showed Harry the image of his parents' home in Godric's Hollow and the looks on their faces as he killed them.
Harry's hatred grew yet again, and he fought the instinct to lash out at this despicable creature. With pain burning in his chest, he forced it down, however. He again reminded himself that it was positive thoughts that appeared to hurt Voldemort, that Harry's hatred only fueled his power.
With immense effort, he clamped down on his anger and countered with thoughts of Ginny and the love and passion he felt for her, allowing Voldemort to feel what Harry felt when she was near.
Voldemort matched him memory for memory...
Harry found himself in that godforsaken graveyard once again and remembered how it felt to be tied to the headstone - helpless - only this time, he felt the emotions from the other side. The rush of power, the thrill...the satisfaction of watching the young boy in front of him tremble with fear...
...a moonlit broom ride, building sandcastles by the sea, tossing leaves by the lake. Harry remembered small, hidden moments and the intense comfort and joy those memories could bring...
...bow to death, Harry, and the predatory, near sensual rush of feeling of having utter and complete control...
...fingers stroking his hair in comfort, kissing by a waterfall, singing Christmas carols by a fire in a warm room surrounded by people he loved...
...Death Eaters kneeling, kissing the hem of his robes, the ultimate power over deciding who lives and who dies, kill the spare...
...kissing the love of his life passionately in a locker room, feeling his hands on her bare skin, the velvety softness and sweet bliss of her allowing him to continue...
Voldemort shrieked and tried to break the connection to pull away, but Harry wouldn't let him out of his mind. He pushed even more memories, every joyful, stolen moment of sheer happiness despite the war towards his foe. He could feel Voldemort's mind weakening, getting ready to snap. When it did, Harry was forced from his mind with the impact of a freight train. He was picked up and hurled to the ground as if he weighed nothing at all.
Voldemort stood completely still for a moment before he let loose a bloodcurdling scream and burst in a tremendous puff of smoke, leaving Harry gasping and covered in blood, both Voldemort's and his own. The foul-smelling ball of smoke rose in the air, sizzling with malevolent power and causing green sparks to hiss above their heads. An unearthly sound of rage and despair echoed on the walls and increased in volume as the smoke rose into the air.
The entire Chamber began to rumble and shake. Spidery cracks appeared along the ceiling as the pillars shook and swayed. Harry's scar exploded with pain so intense that it made his eyes water. He grasped one hand to his forehead and felt a warm trickle of blood gushing between his fingers. The room blurred and began to sway as he willed the pain to recede.
Everyone in the room froze where they stood, staring with numb disbelief at the ashes that were all that remained of the Dark Lord. No one moved; no one even breathed for a moment, unsure that what had just happened had really happened.
The shock finally began to penetrate Harry's numbed brain, and his entire body began to tremble. He couldn't force his eyes away from what remained of Voldemort if he tried. Is it really over? What did that mean? His mind seemed unwilling to process any more, and he felt suddenly lost and very alone. The pain in his scar had faded, but a dull throb was left behind, making him feel dizzy and unable to focus.
Releasing a primal bellow of rage, Lucius Malfoy grabbed Voldemort's fallen sword and rushed at Ron with a deranged fury.
Momentarily stunned and caught unaware, Ron looked up in time to see Lucius' sword plunge into his abdomen. Harry saw the shock and surprise filter across Ron's face before his eyes rolled back in his head, and he collapsed. Hermione's agonized scream filled the cavern as she bolted towards Ron's crumpled form.
Harry's anger overrode his shock and fueled his energy. He grabbed his own sword and rushed at Lucius. His body was incredibly weak, so weak he could barely stand, but he fought it as he parried with Lucius.
"I am the new Dark Lord now, Potter, and I won't be sidetracked by a silly feud with you." Lucius cackled with madness. His forearm, where the Dark Mark had been but was no longer visible, was bleeding profusely.
Harry was spent and rapidly losing the battle to stay conscious, and Lucius knew it.
"You survived the Killing Curse; now let's see you survive this," he said, slicing Harry's abdomen viciously.
Maybe it was because it wasn't really a sword but a wand, or maybe it was because it had been Voldemort's wand, but Harry could feel the magic as it pierced his skin. He stumbled and fell to the ground next to his sword. Lucius reached down and grabbed a handful of Harry's hair, pulling his head back and exposing the pale white skin of his throat. Lucius placed the sharp blade underneath Harry's throat and taunted him.
Harry was on his hands and knees, struggling to keep the blade away from his throat. His friends stood in mute horror around him, afraid to move lest Lucius cut Harry's throat. Suddenly, Harry bent one elbow and rolled onto his back, cringing in agony as his burns scraped the ground. With his sword still in his hand, he raised it up and thrust it into Lucius' chest.
He didn't have enough strength to do more than slightly puncture Lucius's skin, despite his massive effort.
Lucius eyes widened in surprise as he looked down at the sword protruding from his chest.
With a screech of venom, Ginny broke free from Fred's grasp and hurled herself full force onto Lucius' back. She pressed his body onto the blade in Harry's hand and let it sink deep into Lucius's skin until it poked out through his back. Lucius collapsed, dead, on top of Harry.
Suddenly, as Voldemort's life force swelled and burnt out, the whole Chamber began to shake violently. Chucks of stone fell from the ceiling as the room began to cave in around them.
Harry heard the noise echoing in the Chamber and realized that he couldn't hear Fawkes anymore. His vision dimmed and blurred as he finally gave in to the unconsciousness that had been trying to claim him.
Author notes: So...there it is! Ok, go ahead – I’m taking a deep breath, let me know what you think…
If you're looking for a lighter, fluffier read - I submitted an entry to SIYE summer challenge. Give it a read and let me know what you think.