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A Funeral In My Brain

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Jun. 18th, 2006 | 06:05 am
posted by: weeniethesilly in bohographics

I wrote this for the Hot Summer Nights With Draco and Hermione fanfiction exchange, but then I realized it worked for Laurel's Mistaken Identity challenge, as well. So here it is, all 10,000+ words.




I felt a funeral in my brain
By Emily Dickinson

I felt a funeral in my brain
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a box
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And being, but an ear
And I and Silence some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here.



There are some things in life that you just don’t want to remember and some things which you simply cannot remember. Regretfully this is a tale of the former rather than the latter, despite my deepest desires. Days and nights and weeks and months have been spent contemplating these memories. They replay, rewind, fast forward, and pause throughout my subconscious nearly every day without my consent. Once, foolishly, I tried to rid myself of them forever. I brought out my Pensieve and placed my wand to my temple, drawing out the silvery tendrils of memory that plagued me. I watched as the liquid, reminiscent of smelted platinum, swirled until my own shadowy visage came into view. I was a young boy then, only seventeen and still at Hogwarts. To my dismay, I still couldn’t escape it.

I can still feel the cold stone floor beneath my feet as I hurried down that darkened corridor. It was late, much past the time that students were allowed to be out, but rules had never been able to quell my curiosity, worry, nor my foolish bravery. That night I was on a mission; a common occurrence for me. Sometimes I was out to investigate and other times I would just throw caution to the wind and take action before I even understood what was happening. This night was a combination of both.

The night had progressed uneventfully for the most part. I had been digging through my trunk, looking for a lost Potions text when I recognized a familiar battered piece of parchment. I withdrew it slowly, reverently, not having looked at it in months. Out of pure habit, I knelt on the floor and unfolded it in front of me. Reaching in my pocket, I retrieved my wand. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”


Instantly threads of ink began to run across the page. They rushed forward, twisting and turning until I was gazing at a full map of the school, complete with secret passages. Then, like stars appearing in the night sky, tiny dots cropped up over the parchment. My eyes darted sporadically through the names that labelled each dot, wondering if there might be something of interest.

Most of the students were tucked away in their four-posters, though untroubled sleep was hard to come by those days. Hogwarts, without Dumbledore presiding, was no longer viewed as a safe haven for the younger generation. Only the dauntless or pertinacious sent their children away to the magical boarding school. Without my parents there to decide for me, I chose to come to Hogwarts despite the dangers that many feared. As I saw it, the only way to be completely safe from death was to be deceased. Therefore, concern for safety was a nonentity on my priority list. At the time I had believed that I still had something I needed to attend to. As usual, the Prefects were patrolling the corridors. Their dots moved slowly between the thin parallel lines that made up the walls. Without even realizing it, I found myself searching for the Head Girl. Before long I espied her dot, motionless outside the Room of Requirement. I noticed another name nearly overlapping hers. The Head Boy was apparently at a very close proximity to her. Apprehension prickled. Outright panic struck when the pair of dots moved into a seemingly blank wall and disappeared. They had gone inside the Room of Requirement. Patrolling there was unnecessary, as its location, even its existence, was privileged knowledge.

This wouldn’t have been such a problem, had this been a typical year with a proper Head Boy, but neither provision was met. Usually a Head Boy was selected for outstanding leadership abilities, accountability, integrity, honesty…This year the criteria fell well outside that realm. Wealth, influence, power, an intimidating father…Yes, not only was his father a convicted Death Eater serving a life sentence in Azkaban, but Draco himself bore the Dark Mark on his left forearm. I still hadn’t worked out why he remained at school, but my instincts told me that the disgusting monster that he answered to had a nefarious hand in it.

As soon as I had realized the implications of the situation, the silvery cloth that was the invisibility cloak was in my grasp and I was out of the Portrait Hole. It seemed to take hours to reach the right floor and hours more to reach the right corridor. Just around the corner from my quarry I paused, draping the gossamer cloak over my head. I checked the map once again and found no sign that the two of them had made an exit. My breath caught in my throat so violently that I felt as if I was choking, but still I pressed on.

Across from Barnabas the Barmy, I wasted no time in opening the secret door. Pacing past three times whilst focusing all of my concentration on rescuing my friend, I grew more anxious. There was no telling what frightful sight I would come upon once I stepped through the door that had just materialised, but I knew that something was horribly wrong.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, to be cliché. So many decades later, as I languish here in my old age, I wish that something had stopped me from entering. Maybe a patrolling teacher who happened to see one of my arms flash out of the cloak; or an earthquake, the end of the world…Anything. I would give anything to go back in time and stop myself from crossing that threshold.

Most unfortunately, nothing halted my fateful progress. But instead of the moulding dungeon I expected to find, decked out for torture and torment, I stood gaping in bewilderment at an extravagantly lush bedchamber. Why this sort of room would be necessary for whatever devious plans the Head Boy might concoct was a mystery. Moving slowly and deliberately, as to keep quiet, I ventured further in. My eyes rose up to the expansive vaulted ceilings. They were absolutely resplendent. To one side of the room I could just make out a sitting area and an enormous fireplace. Picture windows of soaring height graced the opposite wall, affording a breathtaking view of the Grounds and the twinkling lights of Hogsmeade in the distance. Straight ahead stood a mahogany bed draped in fine crushed velvet and piled with soft pillows. Everything was coloured in muted browns and greens with fine gold accents. It was like I had stepped from the dank corridors of the castle into a regal mansion. The walls were adorned with fine artwork; the floor was covered with an intricately woven rug, depicting a night sky that matched the view outside.

Even in the presence of such eloquence, I felt a sinister sense of foreboding creep up on me. Upon reaching the edge of the foyer, I peered around the corner and into the depths of the chamber and suddenly the blood in my veins turned to ice, stinging and burning under my skin.

The platinum-haired Slytherin’s hands were snaked around the Head Girl’s back, pulling her tightly to his chest. His face was buried somewhere in her volumes of amber hair. The muffled sound of his voice carried across the room and filled me with a rage that I had never known before. Incensed beyond sanity, I plunged forward and violently tore at the Invisibility Cloak. In one fluid movement, I cast it aside and drew my wand.

Momentary surprise flickered in his silver eyes when he found my wand aimed at his throat, but it was quickly replaced with an expression of cool indifference. My hands shook with hatred, but not enough to cause any difficulty in hexing the little ferret. His fear betrayed him, though, for he loosened his hold on her ever so slightly.

“Let her go,” I grated through clenched teeth. Draco looked down and Hermione, seemingly questioning her; she returned his gaze, pleading. “Now.” I let the tip of my wand graze the pale skin of his neck, just enough for it to be a threat.
“I thought you were going to tell him.” His voice came out in a low growl, but there were strange tender undertones to it that unsettled me.

Strengthening my grip on my wand, I began to suspect there was something horrible going on here, even more so than what I had feared. “What do you mean?” I looked at Hermione now, hoping desperately for her to tell me that the Head Boy had gone mad. “What does he mean?” I implored.

Her eyes misted as she turned her gaze up to me. The expression on her face could be interpreted as nothing other than an apology. Still, I refused to understand. I intentionally blinded myself to the situation that unfolded before me. I had my reasons for denying it.

**********



A few months earlier, I noticed a change slowly come over Hermione. Actually, my perception of her is what changed, though when it happened I could not see that. Before that school year, I never considered her more than a close friend. She had promised herself to Ron, though only through furtive glances when they believed that no one watched. The casual observer only witnessed their petty quarrels and incessant sniping. Eventually, the time came where she grew impatient and waiting for Ron no longer appealed to her. Through a series of very tense encounters, she cast Ron aside in search of someone who would pay her the attention she deserved.

It was then that I noticed the way she tucked strands of hair behind her ears while she studied. I noticed the gracefully gait of her walk. The curve of her hips under her grey uniform skirt. She had the tendency to bite her lower lip when she was concentrating.

For six years I had never really seen, but when I did fall, I fell hard. It wasn’t the same as it had been with either Ginny or Cho. Those had been mere crushes; they had come slowly and without my notice. Hermione was not a crush. She was an infatuation and so much more. The perfect companion. I would provide the sheer dumb luck and unchecked chivalry and she would provide the logic and grounded stability.

I started watching her from the corner of my eye during class, finding the subtleties of her movements intoxicating. Rather than admiring from afar, I had the perfect vantage point. There was always an excuse to see her. There was always a reason to speak to her. No one suspected my growing obsession with my own bookish best friend. I had hoped that she might pick up on something, being the perceptive witch she was, but that was not the case.

One Friday, the day before a Hogsmeade weekend, my desperation bubbled to the surface. I cornered Hermione, on the pretext of asking an academic question, in the common room. The hour was late and the fire slowly died down into smouldering ashes. The crazed glint in my eye must have been obvious, because when I moved closer to her, she flinched involuntarily. Her name rolled from my lips, slipping out reverently as she backed into the corner of the room. I pressed against her, taking in her scent; it was a mixture of musk and the smell of parchment. “Come to Hogsmeade with me tomorrow,” I murmured, my eyes searching hers.

She looked away, exposing her graceful neck to me. I resisted the urge to touch its smooth skin. “I’m already going with you.” Hermione referred to the fact that the Trio would be going together. “I always do,” she added, sounding as if she was trying to convince herself that that was all I had meant. It was obvious that I wanted more than mere friendship from her now.

“Come with me alone. No Ron.” I lowered my face until it was barely inches from hers, but paused for her reply. She squirmed under me with obvious discomfort, but I took no notice. How blind I was to not see what I was putting her through!

She turned her face up to me, fear reflected in her eyes. “Harry?” she questioned as she tremulously placed a hand on my chest. “Harry?”
I suppose the combination of our close proximity, the late hour, and the darkened room overwhelmed her. I wrapped my hand around her delicate wrist and held it down to her side as I leaned my weight on her, pinning her against the wall with realizing what I was doing.

“I’ve wanted you, Hermione. Only I didn’t realise it until you decided that Ron was wrong for you.” Unable and unwilling to stop myself, I began to trail gentle kisses along her neck. “You need someone who can care for you,” I murmured in her ear. Why did she stiffen when I touched her? My free hand reached up and cupped her smooth chin, firmly tilting her head up to mine. “And I care.” My lips crashed down upon hers, my tongue probing at her tightly closed mouth. She leaned into me slightly; I anticipated her kissing me back, but it never came. Just as I trailed the tip of my fingers over her soft breast, she pushed hard against my breastbone so that I stumbled backwards, stunned.

Staring at me in disbelief, she drew ragged breaths as a tear trickled down her cheek. “Don’t treat me like a hand-me-down. I’m not some plaything to be passed between friends!” she spat. With one last icy glare, she stormed past me and up the stairs to her dormitory. I gawked after her, open-mouthed, until her copper locks disappeared around the corner. To follow her was futile, however. Her reaction had been most unexpected. It wasn’t that I had thought she had feelings for me, but I hadn’t counted on the intensity of her fury. It was never my intention to make her feel used, and later I found out that it wasn’t entirely my fault.

Lavender Brown told me the following week, in passing, that Hermione walked in on the two of them snogging only the day before my advance, thus stirring the dormant feelings she harboured for the redhead. My timing had been most unfortunate, but I did not give up. On our next trip into Hogsmeade, I slipped away to the Apothecary and its pre-made potions. Scanning the shelves, I gasped as I found more than I had hoped for. “Amortentia,” I breathed reverently. Lifting the warm vial gingerly off the shelf, I carried it to the register. The attending witch eyed me suspiciously but said nothing when I slapped down thirty Galleons. She snatched up the gold, favouring me with a greedy leer that revealed yellowed, crooked teeth.

I hadn’t expected to find a love potion as powerful as this one, but now that I had, I felt even more eager to capture Hermione’s heart. Insomnia ruled that night, no matter how long I laid still and closed my eyes. It seemed that the closer the dawn drew, the tighter the knots in my stomach constricted. Details, possibilities, scenarios…They ran through my head like a waterfall of information that I could scarcely process. By the time the stars disappeared and the first rays of morning crested over the horizon, I had what I believed to be a foolproof plan.

I floated down to the Great Hall, winding through the corridors unconsciously, feeling both elated and desperately apprehensive at once. Once, I had to stop and grasp a suit of amour to stave away a growing wave of nausea and vertigo, though I grinned all the while. I’m sure I looked a-fool entering the room with such an obvious expression on my face, but the empty Hall bore no witness against me. I made my way to the Gryffindor table, ignoring the eerie sound of my own footsteps echoing in the silence room.

As I took my place midway along the table, platters of tantalising food and huge serving bowls of porridge suddenly appeared, steaming merrily. Briefly, I wondered if I arrived at just the right time or if the morning meal appeared as the first arrival sat down. I braced my hands on the table as another swell of illness washed over me.

Dire omens disregarded, I prepared for the arrival my sweet flower. It was simple for such a significant event; I finished my work swiftly, just before the doors to the Hall opened and a group of giggling Hufflepuffs interrupted the quiet of the morning with talk about the Quidditch players they fancied. My fingers drummed noisily on the table as I tried to keep my eyes from straying excessively toward the entrance.

Fortunately for my sanity, Hermione was not the type to sleep in, even on a Sunday morning. She would have plans to be in the library spending a day with her Potions text and a well-worn quill. I, on the other had, had much grander ideas of afternoons basking in the sun, without a care to speak of. How romantic my maniacal view of a perfect world was. Hermione would soon see how it felt for her heart to leap at the sight of me, as mine did for her.
She sat down at the table with a muttered ‘hello’ to me, filling her plate with eggs and toast. Realizing that I would look strange sitting there with an immaculate dish, I hastily grabbed a slice of toast and took a bite. Just then, Hermione reached for her goblet and I froze in the midst of swallowing. I watched, barely able to keep from leaning forward in anticipation, until I realized that she had reached for the cup on her left, while I had prepared the one on her right. Only when she poised a pitcher of pumpkin juice, ready to pour, did I clear my throat.

“Wait,” I choked, my food hardly making it down. I seized the pitcher from her, sloshing some onto the surface of the table. She blinked at me, clearly vexed with my behaviour. “I mean…” I stopped to still my shaking hands and regain what was left of my shattered composure. With no sleep and terrible fear for my plots at hand, nerves were getting the best of me. Cautiously, I picked up the goblet that I had planted the potion in and poured the cold liquid inside. “I just wanted to apologize for my behaviour,” I continued. “I don’t know what came over me, and I don’t think of you as a plaything in any sense.”
Shifting in her seat, she stared down at her hands. Akward silence hung thick in the air before I heard her sigh. “Just…I…Let’s forget about it.” Setting her goblet in front of her, I smiled and nodded; only glad she had been distracted by my apology. I was about to give my words of concurrence when she pointed across the hall.

“Look, it’s Hedwig! The post is here.” I narrowed my eyes, but gazed up at the owls streaming over the tables. Snow white feathers were easily distinguished from the earthtones of the common barn owls. Swooping past, she dropped a letter in front of me. Seeing my name written in a familiar scrawl on the front, I tucked it next to my plate.

“Only from Hagrid. Probably wants us for tea. It has been a while.” I looked back at Hermione who was just putting down her cup, with considerably less juice in it. I waited for her to look at me; as I understood things, I had to be the first person that she saw, or it wouldn’t take effect. To my dismay and utter horror, her eyes avoided me, seemingly intent on the eggs that she inhaled.

“Hermione, slow down. It’s bad for your health to eat so quickly. You should see Dudley…” I glanced at her, nibbling on my toast and hoping to find her gazing loving at me. I wanted her to confess her love to me, to wonder why she hadn’t seen how amazing we could be. I spent the meal coughing loudly, asking Hermione foolish questions, banging my silverware ridiculously onto my plate and otherwise causing people around me to wonder whether or not I was sane. Many furtive glances were directed at my behaviour, but the one glance I truly wanted…no, needed…was never bestowed on me.

She drained the rest of her pumpkin juice, swung her bag over her shoulder, and stood up in one fluid movement. “I’m off to the library,” she called hurriedly over her flawless shoulder before she disappeared out the door. I sat blinking despondently for mere seconds before I tore away from the table, tripping over my own feet. Feet pounding out the quick rhythm of my heart, I dashed through the corridors to the library. I pushed past a frightened young girl at the door, only to find that Hermione was not in the room. Instead, I found an angry Madam Pince looking like a bull ready to charge for my disturbance of the peace.

For the next month, I wondered incessantly what had come of that potion. Hermione had to catch sight of someone, sometime, but no relationship ever materialised. It was utterly impossible that she saw no one after taking the potion; it occurred to me that I had been swindled by the old witch. The Apothecary hadn’t sold me Amortentia, but only a cheap imitation, an air freshener in disguise. Irritated, I decided to save myself the embarrassment of going back to complain, instead cutting my losses. After the breakfast incident, no more desperately brilliant ideas came to me. My overpowering feelings did not fade, but our friendship cautiously returned to what it once had been.

**********


Every time I saw her or heard her voice, I felt a twinge; but nothing stirred me more than seeing her in Draco Malfoy’s arms. Instead of pushing him away, as I wished she would, her hand slid down to intertwine with his in a reassuring gesture. “I tried. I really did. You don’t know how hard it is.”

He frowned down at her, though he kept the point of my wand under close watch. “I’ll tell him now, as there is no choice,” she added, giving his hand a squeeze. Untangling herself from him, she took a cautious step forward and placed her hand on my wand arm.

I allowed her to gently lower my arm to my side. “Harry…” Her eyes were searching me, her voice tentative and testing. “I should have told you a long time ago, but circumstances were complicated. So many factors…Draco and I have been dating for some time.” Moving closer, she continued, sounding more assured of herself. “I am sorry that you had to find out this way, but I am not sorry for anything else.”

I’m quite sure that my jaw hung open as this information registered. This had been the last thing I suspected when I saw them on the map. An attack, an ambush…I almost wished that he was torturing her. Anything but this. Agony struck me, spreading through my veins and out to my limbs with burning intensity. I was as if I had been Crucio’ed, yet a wand never lifted against me.

Suddenly, like hitting an invisible brick wall, an idea struck me. “Wait,” I cried, gripping her shoulders. “It’s alright; it can be fixed.” Struggling, she pulled away from me and retreated to Draco’s side. “Of course, this is entirely my fault. Forgive me; I can explain all of this. I’m sure you must have wondered why you should fall for him, the disgusting…” Hermione stared at me, looking perturbed. “You see…I slipped you a love potion, about mid-October.”

I expected her to smile, to rush forward and hug me for freeing her from him, but she did not. “How dare you…No, I will not be angry. I forgave you for the potion and I will forgive you for your ignorance.” She looked at me, an inexplicable emotion in her eyes. “I knew about the potion as soon as I sat down that morning. Did you not think that I, who identified it perfectly at the beginning of our sixth year, would not recognize its aroma? I knew, and when Hedwig came with your letter, I switched the goblets. Then I took care not to even glance at you so that you would have no reason to think the potion hadn’t worked. I wanted to save you the humiliation of being discovered.”

All I could do was stare at her in disbelief. She had known all the time that I had been wondering, not knowing… I realized that I should have known it would take a better effort on my part to capture Hermione. Apparently Draco had found the key that had eluded me. The thought that I should have known better was of no comfort, though. All my past agony seeped back through my body, mingled with regret and embarrassment. She had known all along of my foolish plots and of my wanting. My face grew hot as I stared at the two of them.

“You…” There was nothing sensible to say in that situation, so I let go of logic and reason. “Malfoy? Have you forgotten the way he treated you every year? Called you a Mudblood? The teasing, the hexing…What about me? How can you call yourself a Gryffindor and be so disloyal to your friends? This lowly snake has been after me since the beginning of our first year. Last year he nearly murdered Dumbledore. His father is a Death Eater and so is he. What are you thinking?” I spat incredulously as Draco stepped forward, his statuesque features etched with rage.

“Don’t act as if you know a thing about me or my family. It appears that you hardly know Hermione, as it is, so don’t pass judgement on me. You know nothing of what has happened this year.” He opened his mouth as if to continue on, but my fist connected with his jaw before he made another sound. Shocked, he placed a pallid hand on his cheek where a colourful bruise was forming. Still, I was not satiated. My arm drew back menacingly with the intention of inflicting as much harm to the Slytherin as possible, but Hermione moved to stand between us, expression stoic.

She placed a hand delicately on each of our chests and looked from one vehement face to the other. “I will not have my life divided between the two of you. Harry, you have the right to be angry, but please restrain yourself. There is much you have yet to understand. Draco is right. You do not know what has happened this past year.” She turned to gaze at the blonde. “Draco, try to understand an overprotective brother’s hatred, if you will.” His icy eyes locked onto mine, but his chin dropped in a nearly imperceptible nod. She let her arms fall, but opted to hold her place between the two of us. The heavy air that surrounded us seemed to lift, at least slightly. “Now, perhaps we should all sit down.” Her gesture directed my attention to the sitting area near the fireplace, where a third chair suddenly materialized. The Head Boy and Girl both moved towards the chairs, but I stayed rooted to the spot.

“No.” The word fell to the floor like a lead weight; the couple swung back around to blink at me, disbelieving. “No, Hermione. I will not listen to whatever ridiculous reasoning you are about to give me. You should never have gotten close enough to this Slytherin monster to learn anything about him, much less close enough to fall for him.” My brow knit tightly and my eyes hardened like dark emeralds under my lashes. “If you did not wish for your life to be divided, you should not have wielded the knife.”

With that, I turned on my heel, glancing over my shoulder only once to see my chair in front of the fireplace fade from existence.


**********


That was the last time I spoke to her. There was an ache inside of me that I knew would never heal now. Perhaps deep down, I knew that I should have given her the chance to explain. She deserved that and more, after what I had put her through, but pride prevented me from having any contact with her. With my friendship withdrawn, Ron relinquished any kindness he felt toward her, as well. She ended up with only her Slytherin to keep her company, and it seemed that that was enough for her. Never did she show any sign of distress; I did my best to mirror her actions. Losing her was hard, but it was easier that living with the knowledge that she loved my enemy.

Ron and I continued on with the fight against Voldemort, shy one team member, pretending to ourselves that nothing had changed, but all the time knowing that it had. Hermione had been the one we took our questions to. If she did not know the answer, then she would find it, relentlessly searching until there were no more books left. Now it was just the two of us, barely scraping by in our sheer foolish bravado.

Occasionally, we would find ourselves at Grimmauld Place with Hermione, but the three of us vigilantly avoided ending up alone. The animosity within our shattered group was downplayed, so the rest of the Order hardly understood that we no longer wished to be addressed together. Nevertheless, it continued to haunt us at all times, though I think that it molested me more so than Ron. Always, I wanted to scream at her, to question her presence. I become ever more paranoid about her ties with Draco Malfoy. He was still a Death Eater, running with a pack of merciless killers, as far as I knew. Why Hermione remained by his side was another question; one that I refused to acknowledge, all in the name of feigned indifference.

It was not unusual to find myself alone on duty, under the cover of darkness and my Invisibility Cloak, safeguarding potentially vulnerable areas against attack. Most frequently, I wasted the night away watching the few witches and wizards who had the audacity to defy Ministry’s warning not to stray away from their homes after dark. Always, their cloaks were pulled taut around their stooped forms. There was no unnecessary loitering anywhere. Everything had surely changed once again, at the hands of Voldemort.

Time took its toll on me. I changed, flowing from life inside Hogwarts to a world where happiness was scarce. My unbridled passion for Hermione ebbed away into an ache that I thought little of, except when she was near. Darker and dimmer faltered the Light I fought for. Once, it had been a beacon, but now it had dwindled to a candle dangerously flickering in the wind.

The simplest patrol assignment was Hogsmeade. The town wisely took precautions seriously, placing wards and shields around the perimeter. A curfew of nine o’clock stood in place for all civilians, but it was unnecessary. Not a soul ever strayed into the streets after eight. That is why I was not surprised to find myself alone amongst the dim shops. Their dark windows were shuttered, a few even boarded. The quiet in the village was a far cry from the bustling Saturdays I had spent there with my friends, as a teenager.

Under cover of the cloak, I strolled down the walkway, hands casually stuffed into my pockets. Turning my face to the sky, I saw ever-darkening clouds overhead. It was likely to rain, but somehow I was at peace. To be honest, there wasn’t much time for leisure with the Order in the throes of war. I spent much of my time surrounded by other witches and wizards at Grimmauld Place. The solemnity of the night relaxed me.

Overhead, the clouds gave way to a light rain. I didn’t bother to cast an umbrella charm; my cloak protected me from the drizzle. Fog developed, lazily drifting around the shops, casting a silver tone over the buildings. The air grew cooler as the wind and rain picked up. Soon, there were puddles dotting the walk and I had to draw my cloak about myself tightly to keep warm. The night had started mildly enough, but now the low grumble of thunder could be heard in the distance.

At the sound, I stopped and looked once more at the clouds. Lightning flashed, illuminating a dark alley to my right. Something moved behind me. Instantly, my wand was in my hand and I spun around. Cautiously, I stepped forward. At the same time, ten dark figures emerged from the shadows in front of me. I froze, not daring to move. Under my cloak, they had not seen me; they moved forward with drawn wands.

With another lightning bolt, I could make out the masks that concealed their faces. The Death Eaters.

“We know you are here,” one near the centre of the group called, arrogance and malice lacing his tone. He was tall and lean, with a lock of platinum hair escaping his hood, harshly contrasting with his ebony robes. “Show yourself and make a fair fight. Or are you afraid?”

At first I assumed that they came to wreak havoc on the village, but it was now evident that they had come for me. I wondered for a moment how they knew I was here, as all Order movements were supposed to be confidential, but in the slick of the rain my wand nearly dropped from my grasp. With reflexes reminiscent of my days as a Seeker, I caught it before I hit the ground, but I was not as fortunate with my Invisibility Cloak. In my grab for the wand, I lost my grip on the garment. A gust of wind caught the folds and swept it away before I could even react.

I could not see it, but I’m sure their cold faces smirked at me from behind their masks. I quickly cast a wordless spell; my Patronus galloped away with a distress call.

The blonde Death Eater let out an eerie cackle. “Your Order friends cannot help you. We plan to be finished before they arrive, I assure you.”

“I do not plan to go without a fight,” I ventured. “Do you remember how many times I have defeated the monster that you call a master? I’m sure that he wouldn’t want you to be so arrogant as to assume that you will complete your mission and do what he had not been able to.” I was talking just to delay time, trying to stave off the unfair battle that would soon commence.

Sneering, a high pitched and hysterical female voice called out from the back of the group. “We aren’t here to kill you, fool. You will be captured and taken to our Lord. He will not fail this time, Potter.”

“Either way, there are at least twice your numbers on the way here, most of them Aurors. Apparition takes little time, as you all know. I mean, you have enough experience appearing for Voldemort at his slightest whim. I wonder; do you launder his robes? What about fetching his groceries?” I put forward these taunting statements, not knowing who or how many were coming to assist me. The posture of a few of the assailants changed, conveying nervousness.

“Do not say the name!” screeched the woman. Her cry was accompanied by nods, but I ignored it, as more important things were happening.

Stepping forward, the fair-haired wizard, who was obviously leading the attack, raised his wand. “That is why we start now and get it done. Enough with the chatter.” A quick downward flick of his wrist shot a jet of blue light in my direction. I dove out of the way, bumping my shoulder on a stone as I rolled.

“You never were quite good enough,” I quipped, casting a disarming spell not at my attacker, but at an unsuspecting Death Eater. I quickly tucked the extra wand in my back pocket, in case it was needed later.

“Fools! You fools!” shrieked the witch, now even more hysterical. “Pay attention. The Dark Lord warned us of his skill.”
Petrificus Totalus.” The witch fell flat on her back, her mask askew, revealing her to be Bellatrix Lestrange. “You deserve much worse for Sirius’ sake, but I’ll leave that to the Ministry.”
Suddenly, I was struck with a spell. Before falling to the now muddy ground, I heard a low laugh. A moment later my whole body was pierced by white hot pain. Every inch of my skin was been impaled by thousands of knives and my flesh was seared by invisible fire. I bit into my bottom lip, preventing the Death Eaters from any satisfaction they might have at hearing screams of agony.

The curse intensified, but then lifted, and relief flooded through my now aching body. I lay with my eyes closed, enjoying the feeling, unable to think of anything else. In my state of hazy half-consciousness, I caught the sound of angry voices.

“Avery! You know what the Dark Lord said. He wants the Unforgivables for himself.”

“He was being insolent,” cried another voice to his left.

At this point I reoriented myself to my surrounding and used the Death Eaters’ quarrelling as an opportunity to take them by surprise. I noticed that they had neglected to revive Bellatrix. An advantage to me; only nine to one now. Pulling myself to my feet, I cast a nonverbal spell on an unidentified Death Eater near the outskirts of their circle. The Stunner was effective and its victim fell silently to the ground, unnoticed by anyone other than myself. As the group continued to bicker, I aimed again, this time striking a short, stocky wizard, whom I guessed to be Peter Pettigrew. Unfortunately, he fell forward into the circle, alerting the enemy to my movements.

Swearing under my breath, I rolled out of the way of an Impedimenta curse only to hear another hex bellowed from my right. “Protego!” I was shielded from its effect. As soon as I got to my feet, I was hit by a spell I had never felt before. All the air left my lungs and my limbs burned as if they were being torn away from my body. Being caught by surprise, I could not suppress a scream. The sound echoed through the village, but a split second later I was released from the pain. I wondered why my voice had stopped my attacker, until I realised that the back up from the Order arrived. Ron hit the blonde Death Eater with a disarming spell and broke the hex he had put on me.

Around me, the sounds of battle broke out. Spells were screamed, warnings were shouted. I couldn’t help but smile at the new odds. Quickly, I spun on my heel and found myself facing a smirking Bellatrix. She had a wild look in her eyes now that she had been revived. “You think you’re clever, Potter, hexing us from behind. Oh, you are the Wonder Boy.” She let out a sickening cackle and advanced towards me. “After the Dark Lord gets his hands on you, you will die begging like your nasty little Mudblood mother.”

Fire ran through my veins as I raised my wand. “Levicorpus.” With a crack, she was dangling by her ankle, twenty feet above the ground. “My mother was a better witch than you ever were, or ever will be.”

Her expression was fear mingled with disgust. “She was a filthy little Mudblood. Worthless, just like you and the rest of the Muggle-lovers.” I dropped my wrist slightly and she took a sharp fall with it. A few feet above the ground, I raised her back up.

“Are you sure you weren’t in Gryffindor? It’s brave of you to insult me when your life depends on whether or not I feel like holding my wand arm up. I know the ground is soft because of the mud, but do you really want to risk it?” Her eyes whipped to the ground for a moment, looking full of concern. “As I thought.”

I should have paid more attention to the Death Eaters behind me, but my confidence in the Order and anger at Bellatrix blinded me. Unexpectedly, I was hit with a Blasting Curse. My face hit the ground first, taking the weight of the rest of my body. My nose broke, not for the first time, and blood poured down my chin and neck, finally stopping to be soaked up by the collar of my robes. I ignored the pain, ignored the moans of the female Death Eater that had just been sent crashing into the sopping earth, and wrenched myself to my feet. Something inside of me snapped with that underhanded spell. Whirling around, my dirt encrusted robes slapping against me, I raised my wand at the first Death Eater I saw.

Draco’s hood had slipped off, revealing his identity. He was facing the other way, Hermione standing nearby, but facing the opposite direction. The pain of my injured face, the pain of never having Hermione, of never knowing my parents, of everything Malfoy and his kind had ever taken away from me came boiling to the surface. I raised my wand, my arm locked at the elbow and aimed directly for his pretty little head. My mouth opened; everything around me seemed to slow down as the curse came up to the tip of my tongue.

“Harry! No! Expelliarmus.” My focus on my long-time enemy shifted to my former friend, who was now holding my wand, her face mingled with fear and regret.
My hands were in such tight fists that my fingernails, as short as they were, left crescent shaped cuts on my palms. “You! So you are still with him. You’ve joined his fight.” My words, harshly toned, came out without hesitation as all of the questions I had wanted to ask her were answered. “Don’t you know that all you’ll ever be to him is a dirty little Mudblood? I thought you were clever.” My breath came in short, shallow huffs. “To think that I ever loved such a witch as you, betraying your-”
“Please, just stop and listen. You wouldn’t listen five years ago, just…” her voice pleaded, prying at my will, but I refused to let her ensnare me again.

“And I will not listen now, not to a traitor like you. You…” I paused, trying to find the words that would sting her. I wanted her to feel at least a small portion of the agony that I felt. “You are just like Wormtail.” The phrase was just loud enough for her to hear and had the desired effect. She winced, looking as if she had been slapped across the face.

Her mouth hung open for a moment, as the battle raged on around us. The Death Eaters were out numbered by the Order, keeping them sufficiently occupied while we had our confrontation.

“Stop living in the past, Harry. Your parents are dead.”

The words cut through me, however true they were and no matter that I had always known that. She was insulting my fight for my parents’ lost lives. This was everything I had ever believed was worth it and she had tried to dismiss it as if it were nothing. She was trying to get to me, I decided. Hermione was a Death Eater now and she had been feeding them Order information. That was how they had known I would be here.

With the most amazing epiphany, I remembered the wand I had taken earlier. Reaching into my pocket, I found that it was still there and even more amazingly, it was intact. Lightning flashed as I seized the weapon and levelled it with Hermione’s eyes. “Traitor. You traitor!” I screamed out through the storm. “Avada Kedavra.” The spell came out in a frenzied attempt to punish her for her crimes. The green light flashed, as was usual. Before she hit the ground my wand was upon Malfoy. Another jade flash and he lay lifeless beside her.

**********


“Draco…you have to promise me.” Hermione looked up at the cold face of the Slytherin, her brown eyes welled with tears. “I have to know.”

He watched her a moment before turning to the side and taking a few anxious steps. Running his thin fingers through his hair, he stopped, looking at her again. “You know it isn’t as simple as you want it to be. Have you not seen what evil my father can commit? Do you really think that he would just let me go?” His tone was that of someone who had spent too much time explaining himself. “My Mudblood,” he whispered, moving towards her and wrapping her in his arms. “If the world were as good as you think it is, we would have a Utopia.”

She rested her head on the front of his velvet robes, collapsing into his arms. “But there is always a way. Always…” Trailing off, lost in thought, she ran her fingers lightly over the soft fabric covering the blonde’s chest. Her eyes closed as the warmth of being near him drew her in, but after a moment, they snapped open again. There was always a way. There was even away to convince Draco. “You are worried about your family? About being tracked down as a traitor? Of course you don’t want to live as a marked man. Voldemort would dog your steps for the rest of your life and it wouldn’t be very long.” She was simply stating what she understood as his reasoning.

“Yes, you understand that it cannot be done without consequence.”

Pulling away from him, she looked into his silvery eyes, delving into their depths with a compelling expression. “You say that it cannot be done without consequence, but what great feat can be done without such? There is always sacrifice in every battle.” He parted his lips as if to speak, but Hermione plunged on, ignoring his attempts at rebuttal. “You say your father is evil. You say that the cause of the Dark Side is now lost on you, so why are you going on supporting it? You betray me every second that you stay loyal to them. Why can’t you risk this for me? If we are to be together, you will have to sacrifice for the Greater Good. I would be a traitor to myself if I continued to be with you.
“If you loathe the pureblood elitist class that you belong to, why can you not remove yourself from it? You only promote the cycle of deterioration. The very thing you detest benefits from your allegiance. How can you stand for it to be so?”

Continuing to stare up at Draco, she hoped and waited for a response. It seemed a lifetime that he stood, studying the woman he held in his arms. His mind pieced through her argument, moving from point to point and searching for any weakness. He found it solid and could see no flaws in her reasoning. “You know that I have always abided by logic.” Releasing her from his arms, he began pacing once more. The decision that he would inevitably make weighed upon his mind. Fighting for the good of Man was plenty of reason to reform, but it would mean changing his entire lifestyle. Finally, he stopped, standing near Hermione.

“You will have the promise you ask for. From now on, my actions will be for renewal rather than destruction. I will protect the weak, not torture them. My allegiance is with you forever more.”
With wide eyes, she gazed at him. Her convincing had finally worked. Now she knew that he was hers, without a doubt.

Rushing forward, she snaked her arm around his neck and pulled his face down to hers, kissing him in a passionate fury. After a moment of hesitancy, his mind still lingering on his future, his hands found their way to her back and pulled her closer than he ever had before.


**********


Suddenly, I found myself standing back in the pouring rain, thunder clapping overhead. The fight raged around me, the sounds filling my ears. In front of me lay two members of the Order, both slain wrongly by my hand. Her hair fanned out behind her head and their hands had landed so that the seemed to be grasping one another. The scene would have been ethereal if it weren’t for the looks on their faces. The male had a narrow-eyed grimace of battle, and the female wore a look of most sincere pleading.

From the corner of my eye, I could see the blonde Death Eater, whom I had assumed to be Draco. He was still very much alive. The incredible mix of guilt, anger, and regret I now felt drove me to insanity. I glimpsed at the wand that was still raised by my arm and my fingers gave way, letting it fall. I turned my back on the corpses of the undeserving dead and started to walk. My legs picked up their pace as I went on and a few yards later I was sprinting away from the battle, away from the Death Eaters and the Order, and most of all, away from the magical world I had caused such tragic destruction in.

Only months later, I was fully adjusted to life in the Muggle community. From Hogsmeade, I had Apparated to Diagon Alley and then continued my run to Gringotts’. However highly unusual it was for a hero to come in with soaking, grimy robes and a swollen face, the goblins let me in. I emptied my account and immediately exchanged the gold for Muggle money. I went into the Leaky Cauldron and though the bar area was closed, I slipped behind the counter. Just as I had hoped, there was a lost and found box containing a long forgotten wand inside of it. As soon as I had it tucked inside my robes, I scurried into Muggle London. That was the last time I ventured into any magical area.

In the morning, after buying myself some clothing, I boarded a plane and flew into Switzerland. The country was a logical choice, given their lax laws and reputation for harbouring criminals. After killing two innocent people, I was sure to be considered one.

I used Transfiguration to hide myself more completely, knowing that the Ministry and the Death Eaters would be searching for me, each for different purposes. My scar was disguised, as it could not be removed. I made myself shorter and plainer. I ended up with uninteresting brown eyes and hair. The less noticeable I was the better.
My days were lived out as a hermit. The fortune I had inherited afforded me a small house, and I took a job at a manufacturing plant. My life as a Muggle was peaceful, but my nights were plagued by dreams of Hermione and Draco, of Aurors catching me, and of Voldemort. In the daylight, I had no fear of being captured. I knew that I got what I deserved, but my subconscious had other ideas.

Over time, even this magic-less existence was touched by Voldemort and his followers. The country I occupied remained peaceful for many, many years after I took up residence within it, but eventually terror started to spread to Switzerland; more strange deaths and disappearances made the news every, each one a little closer to me than before. I suppose that I didn’t want to believe it, but now I cannot deny the pattern in the movements of the Death Eaters. Last week one of my co-workers was found dead in a smoking area after break, his cigarette still burning in his hand.

They are coming for me. I have been found. I write this retelling of my story so the world will know of my defeat, as they should. There isn’t enough forgiveness on the planet that would ease my guilt for this, so I shall make one attempt to help myself rest soundly by giving myself to the humiliation of my own life. This is my apology, though it is not enough. This is my apology and I haven’t got the elegance to make it better.


**********


The old man put down his pen and massaged the aching joints of his right hand. His arthritis had been flaring up as of late. He looked down at his last effort to rid himself of his haunting past and sighed, knowing it would never be enough. “They deserve to know the truth,” he whispered, reassuring himself that his work was not entirely in vain. Bracing his hands on his knees, he slowly got to his feet. Straightening his weathered back, he moved to exit the room.

With a resounding crash, the door he had been about to open was thrown from its hinges. Startled, he lost his balance and stumbled back into his chair. His glasses askew, he found himself staring at something less than human. Voldemort had become even more decayed than he had been before. A result of countless acts of evil combined with the weight of time. Instead of wrinkling with age, his skin had become so taut against his face that it looked as if he had no flesh, but rather, just a skull. His eyes glowed more crimson than they had before and his lips had shriveled into what one might have imagined those of a Dementor to resemble. Horrified, the elderly man sat frozen, while the skeletal wizard moved into the room; a few cloaked figures filed in after him.

“Harry Potter…” His voice was a raspy hiss, but it seemed to be louder than anything that he ever remembered hearing. “I have finally found you after all these years.”

Regaining an ounce of bravery, the former hero sat up, adjusted his spectacles, and rested his arms lightly on the armrests of the desk chair. “And I suppose it is time for me to die? The prophecy was correct after all.”

“Shut up,” growled one of the masked Death Eaters positioned behind the Dark Lord. Holding up one hand, Voldemort quieted his follower.

“Yes, the time for your death has come, but first I want you to know exactly which mistakes lead me to be here.”

Harry leaned back in his chair, looking as if he were about to be read a favourite novel. “As I expected.” Voldemort glared at him. “Do continue though,” he added, waving his hand haphazardly.

“You are an idiotic Gryffindor, even in the face of death,” he spat out disgustedly before continuing on with his tale. “When Avery came back from the battle in Hogsmeade, he was disoriented. He did not act himself. I knew that something was amiss. As you know, I am a master of the art of Occlumency. When I broke into his mind, a simple task, do you know what I found?”

“I don’t.”

Voldemort ignored his sarcastic response. “I found a memory of him killing two members of the Order, one a traitor to me and the other a filthy Mudblood.
“Immediately I knew that he hadn’t performed the spell. His memory had been altered. I would never have found out if it weren’t for the fact that whoever cast the charm had never used the Killing Curse.” Harry’s interest piqued, but he made no indication that he was at all concerned with what the man standing over him was saying.

“It’s a funny thing, the Killing Curse. Whenever you perform it, there is a green flash of light. You should know, I think, having witnessed it before. Most think it’s simply the spell being emitted from the wand, but they are wrong. The flash always comes slightly after the curse hits its mark. That is because is it not just an emerald illumination. It is actually the result of a memory transfer. Green is the colour of memory. Think, Potter. Is a pensive really silver or does it have a green tinge?” His muscles tightened as the undeniable truth took hold of him. In his mind’s eye he could see his Pensieve casting an olive glow rather than a purely silver one. Why hadn’t he noticed? The grey haired man’s mind raced back to the moment after the Killing Curse as he sat. That view into Hermione and Draco’s world…

“The memory is always the happiest of the victim’s. I have murdered more than any other wizard in history. Thousands of memories have been forced upon me. That’s how I finally figured out the mystery. Most wizards who kill and receive a vision of their victim do not ever speak of it. They think it is a delusion resulting from remorse, but I, having no remorse for my actions because none is necessary, knew better. With a bit of research I discovered the secret, but I am not telling you this to educate you. You see, Avery did not have the Compunction Memory, as I have come to call it. I knew that his memory had been altered. I did a Priori Incantatemon his wand and found that the Obliviate was performed using it, along with the murders. My suspicions rose. It is rare for someone to change their own recollections.”

“I have heard of it before,” Harry replied, thinking of Professor Slughorn’s cover up of his Horcrux slip.

“I explored his mind further until I found another memory of the evening. I saw you kill both Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger before turning and running away. I have always had my doubts about this memory, but I will find out now.” Harry felt Voldemort prying into his thoughts and he allowed him access without struggle. A fight would have been useless because not only was his assailant more powerful, there was a written record of the memory sitting next to him on his desk. “Ah, there it is; the Order must have been trying to cover the true identity of the Boy-Who-Lived,” he muttered as the image of Hermione and Draco in one another’s arms came into his head. “I had suspected a treachery such as this to have caused you to kill. Interesting that they shared the same Compunction memory.The ironic thing about this, though, is that it shows both of us a traitor.”

“You are wrong about that. I have learned to reform my views of people, unlike you. She wasn’t betraying me. I did much worse to her, as is obvious.”

“I care not for your worthless opinion, Potter. You are but an old Muggle-lover on his deathbed, or rather, death-chair.” Raising a quizzical eyebrow, Harry shrugged disinterestedly and waited for the Dark Lord to continue. “I followed the obvious trail you left after that. I had a Goblin under my leadership in Gringotts. He told me that you withdrew all of your gold at once. You had a broken nose and dirtied robes, did you not?” Harry opted to treat the question as rhetorical and went on silently observing Voldemort with a neutral expression.

“After that, I found a wizard who had been at a Muggle transport centre and saw you there the next day. He said you looked in a hurry, I could only suppose why. I questioned the staff and with a few spells, found that you had fled the country. It was simple. I have been rummaging Switzerland for anyone with a memory of a man who appeared suddenly and settled without apparent reason. I had thought it would take longer, but I’ve realized that you aren’t as good of a wizard as our previous encounters might entail. It seems as though you did little more to cover your tracks than change your hair colour.”

“I changed my eyes, as well. Now they are not so much like my mother’s, another of your victims, if you will notice.”
It seemed that Voldemort would not notice and instead he reached into the folds of his robes with a bony hand and pulled out his wand. “My reign will only truly begin when everyone knows that you are nothing more than a corpse. The world’s hero dies tonight, but first…” With a flick of his wand, Harry changed to his un-Transfigured form. His hair went from plain grey to having raven streaks running through it. The amount of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and mouth increased and his eyes flashed, once again in their true emerald colour. Voldemort only seemed concerned with the appearance of the lightning scar on his forehead. His red eyes stayed upon it until Harry broken the silence.
“I am no hero, just a man who you chose to make famous. I cannot say that I thank you for gaining me all of the attention, though. My mother and father resisted you and failed. I resisted you and failed, but there is always a way. I learned that from a dear friend.”

“Enough of this, Potter. You have denied me your Compunction Memory once, but this time I will know. It is time for you to share your fondest reminiscence.”

A muttered incantation and a flash of green light. A high pitched cackle filled the house, echoing on the street. A minute later and the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters filed out into the street, pausing outside the door. “Burn the house.” With a nonverbal spell and a flick of his wand, Voldemort set the Dark Mark over his most triumphant murder. He walked away, robes billowing, with a twisted smile.

A few minutes later a house, in a normally quiet neighbourhood, was engulfed in flames. The blaze wound its way through the rooms and into the study where the body of a dead, but otherwise placid old man sat. The fire licked its way to the desk the lifeless man sat in front of, flames making their way up the mahogany legs and over the surface. Sparks fell on a short stack of paper, igniting an old mans last attempt at redemption. The memoir blackened and broke apart, the ashes floating away on drafts of hot air and leaving a story untold.
[end]


STORY REQUEST
BRIEFLY describe what you'd like to receive: love triangle with Harry (Harry loves Hermione, not Draco). A love potion (can be a major or minor point, does not have to involve Draco/Hermione). Hogwarts-Era.
What rating would you prefer? any, but R or higher if possible
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): non-con, rape, heavy kink

Final Author Notes: I know I turned this into a major tragedy, but I just couldn’t shake this plot for a more cheerful one. So Derranged!Harry lets the world fall into ruin and happily ever after?

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