Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Prodigium :: 05 :: Devours

05 • Devours

Knowing that Severus was a Potions Master (who didn’t know that?) and an Occlumens, Albus reluctantly agreed to a suggestion offered by Tonks, who as a half-blood with a muggle-born father had a lot more knowledge of the muggle world than most involved in the Order. The sensory deprivation Snape was subjected to not only induced anxiety, but also decreased his brain function temporarily. As such, when given veritaserum, he was unable to resist its effects.

The whole sordid story came out in front of Amelia Bones, who had brought along specialty auror equipment to record things. Snape had never truly been on the Light side and had been playing Albus for a fool all along. True, he was obsessed with Lily Potter and had fancied himself in love with her, but more rational brains saw it for what it was, especially given how his creepy ‘devotion’ had transferred to Ginevra Weasley for superficial similarities in appearance.

They were unable to get the location of Voldemort’s headquarters from the man, as he truthfully did not know where it was, and getting there required having been branded with a Dark Mark. He had been honest when he informed them earlier that Voldemort was necessary to regain access, but it was also true that assistance could be provided by one who was already in on the secret. Thus, Severus was able to enter after the apparent death of the Dark Lord due to Death Eaters being on the premises when it happened, so they were not stripped of the ‘key’ and could escort others in, such as the two prisoners and Severus himself.

Albus lost a lot of respect that day from the people around him. For so long he had insisted that Severus was on their side, could be trusted, was repentant, and worked hard to atone for his sins and mistakes, that finding out otherwise shattered many preconceptions and much of his image. However, he was determined to persevere and regain respect and trust, though he doubted that Molly would ever speak to him again, and Arthur was iffy.

He did not want to even think about the record number of howlers he would be subjected to when the media caught wind of this.

*

The Daily Prophet practically screamed at the readers the next day that Severus Snape had been arrested, which caused Harry to wonder exactly what had happened. It could wait, surely, for when he had returned to the school, though he supposed he could mosey on over to the ministry and indulge in a little memory theft. In fact, even though he already knew of the majority of the moles in the ministry, it might be worthwhile to know intimately if these people were victims of circumstance or were as guilty as Snape. And, as importantly, to know how to find them when the time came for the deaths to start.

Harry might not care much for the British wizarding world, but he was uniquely positioned to do something about the cancerous corruption fostered and bred by Voldemort, his people, and those like-minded. And what was left afterward? Perhaps it would encourage people of open minds to move to fill the gaps.

And, despite what Dumbledore might think or wish, Harry was not about to ‘vanquish’ Voldemort because he felt it was his duty, or that he somehow owed his fellow magicals something, or even that he was the only one who could. After all, a prophecy was not an absolute. He intended to kill the man simply because it was clear Voldemort would not let this go, and he could never get on with his life until it was done. The biggest drawback was the reaction storm to expect afterward.

He did, on occasion, wonder what might have happened if he had not been cloaked when Dumbledore had visited the first time. But then, had he not been, the old man might not have had to come investigate. Either way, his life would have been vastly different, and given how the students, staff, and the greater magical population of Britain reacted toward him, he was certain that different life would have been infinitely more aggravating, restrictive, and unsatisfying.

The next few days showed more headlines regarding Snape; it seemed that everyone was out for blood and the Daily Prophet was more than happy to fan the flames as high as they could go, and take potshots at Dumbledore for his role in things. Would they learn that the exalted were simply human, too? Probably not. All the more reason to consider leaving the country once his ‘predestined’ role was complete.

The Wizengamot threw Snape into a trial so fast one might think they were attempting to hide something. And it was probably true that most of the audience, for it was an open trial, were too much like sheep to see that the questions asked of Snape were tailored to show him in the worst possible light (with plenty of grey thrown on Dumbledore) without any questions worded in such a way as to shed light on their own foibles, failings, and outright illegal actions.

The start of term feast back at Hogwarts featured the new professor, named Slughorn, who was accorded a standing ovation after his introduction by three houses. Dumbledore looked to have a forced smile on his face, but again, Harry doubted many, if any, noticed it. His new hobby for the second half of the school year would hopefully cause Voldemort to pull his hair out in frustration—that is, if he actually had any.

*

Voldemort was feeling ever so slightly dissatisfied with life. He had returned to his headquarters to not only see far too many of his minions lounging around as though it was a gentlemen’s club (something he could unfortunately not correct just yet, but would soon enough), but also that his beloved Nagini appeared to be hibernating for some strange reason—or was possibly deceased. Of the prisoners taken during the raid, one was already dead and the other was severely impacting his food budget if the gossip heard was anything to go by. And speaking of gossip, another one of his missing minions had been seen on the premises.

It took another two months for the potion and ritual to be in readiness—the first of March, coincidentally—and by then he was heartily sick and tired of seeing reports in the news of countless deaths of his agents in the ministry being murdered. Each and every time the killer left behind a calling card of sorts—a shattered Death Eater mask.

Was this the work of the same man who had effected his ‘death’ at Diagon Alley? All evidence had pointed toward the man being something of a moron, but. . . . Was it truly possible that he had just never noticed the man’s intelligence and cunning? Had he become derelict with regard to his people? Arrogant and vainglorious? After a few moments he scoffed. How ridiculous! The man was obviously an exception . . . as was that other fellow. But that was it, exceptions to prove the rule.

The deaths and shattered masks continued to pile up, distracting him somewhat from his plans. He did, however, decide to magically create a taboo on his name. People foolish enough to believe Dumbledore would soon enough realize their mistake, just in time to die of it. It was simply too bad that Dumbledore himself was unlikely to perish given that his use of the forbidden name would most likely occur in places the Death Eaters could not appear without causing more problems than Voldemort wished to court.

*

Harry took the time, in between killing people to annoy Voldemort, to head on over to Lucius Malfoy’s home and check on the diary. It was, as he expected, nonviable. Thus, he swapped it with a duplicate and added it to his collection at № 12 Grimmauld Place. The only major project he had now was the final death of Voldemort, but that could wait.

He considered killing Fudge, but the man was valuable in a strange sort of way, and too incompetent to be all that dangerous. A lady named Umbridge, however, ended up dead late one night, a Death Eater mask shattered over her corpse. She was not one of them, but many people might suspect she was a supporter, even though it would be untrue. Umbridge was the sort to try to get Harry sent to Azkaban had she the slightest idea that he was not fully human, so her death was simply a way of proactively protecting himself. Others like her were dealt with similarly.

Harry also took the time to mist Voldemort again once he had regained a body, mainly to check to see if the man had created any other Horcruxes. That he had not suggested Voldemort continued to be unaware that his rebirths had rendered his Horcruxes nonviable one by one, and that he was now as vulnerable to true death as any other man.

A check on Dumbledore revealed that the man still had no real idea of how Voldemort had secured protection from death, though he was beginning to suspect Horcruxes as one method, possibly because it was the most easily available to study, despite information on them being difficult to come by. Certain books had mysteriously disappeared from the Hogwarts library, only to reappear in the headmaster’s private collection. The check also revealed that Voldemort had placed a taboo on his name. Harry grinned widely once alone at that information, and began planning times in and around his other killings to make use of such a convenient tool.

Nasty insects were easily enough transfigured into ‘people’ and used as visible bait in reverse-taboo traps. The Death Eaters would arrive, see the ‘person’ and begin shooting spells, never noticing that an extra Death Eater had also shown up for the ‘fun’. Harry would quietly kill them, picking them off from behind, then burn the corpses to ash.

By the time the first of June rolled around (and with it revision week for the NEWTs), Harry had killed off a simply enormous number of Death Eaters. Voldemort was pissed, but also practicing something called Wizarding Logic—which is to say, next to no logic and precious little common sense, a common affliction among those who had lived too long within the wizarding world.

He spent revision week dreaming up things to do once he was free, and then happily enough sat his exams for the following two weeks. The evening before his final exam—Muggle Studies, incidentally—Voldemort chose to reveal himself by storming Hogwarts with an ‘army’ of his remaining Death Eaters, dementors, and various other nasty and malicious creatures. A poor showing, all told, with the exception of dementors. An informed and determined first year could handle many of the creatures, after all.

Beings boiled onto the grounds and into the castle via the forest, the sky, the front gates, and through various not-so secret passages (some of which Harry assumed had to be repaired). The students mostly began screaming and flailing around in a panic, causing Harry to slap quite a number of them and demand that they do something constructive, such as getting the younger years to safety.

With that out of the way Harry headed outside to see how things fared. Dumbledore was in the middle of a battle with Voldemort, and only the old man’s deep understanding of defensive magical tactics appeared to be keeping him alive (and frustrating Voldemort at the same time).

Rather than do the heroic Gryffindor thing and leap into battle with plenty of warning for his opponent, Harry wandered up behind the fighting duo and coughed loudly. And as soon as Voldemort half-turned to see who was foolish enough to do such a thing Harry cast an overpowered severing charm, once again nearly beheading the man. Voldemort dropped to the ground dead seconds later.

Dumbledore gawked for several long moments, then turned to Harry, a look on his face of confusion mingled with protest. But before he could say anything at all, Death Eaters all around them began screaming and clutching at their arms. They, too, dropped to the ground, exhaling their final breaths on a battlefield of Light victory. The creatures, seeing that the tide had turned, were torn between enjoying the buffet of corpses and scuttling off into the forest.

“Harry!”

“Yes, headmaster?” he said, casually creating multiple patronuses to herd the dementors into a group.

“I—” Dumbledore stopped, apparently at a loss for words.

“I agree,” Harry replied, as though the headmaster had said something intelligible, “the aurors should be called straight away. And you’re right, the staff and seventh years can round up all these dead Death Eaters to help out. Excellent thinking. But, I guess that’s why you’re Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump of the ICW.”

Dumbledore shook himself like a dog and nodded.

The next day Harry took his Muggle Studies NEWT, a steady stream of derogatory comments running through his mind, and heaved a sigh of relief when it was over. He was called up to Dumbledore’s office the morning after for a meeting, and he went, rolling his eyes at the necessity.

“Harry,” Dumbledore greeted him congenially.

“Albus,” Harry said just as congenially.

Dumbledore coughed quietly and said, “There is something I should inform you of. I might have told you much sooner, but you were so young, and you have only just recently rejoined the wizarding world.”

Harry nodded and remained silent, knowing that Dumbledore liked to have people ask him questions, rather than just coming out and saying what he wished to impart.

The old man eventually continued, “You see, there was a prophecy regarding you and Voldemort, one which foresaw you as the one with the power to defeat him. And, while you have brought him down, it remains true that no one has ever figured out how he cheated death in the past. I am concerned that—”

“Well,” Harry interrupted, “is that really a concern? It’s not like the Death Eaters all died when Voldemort was defeated before, but they have this time. Doesn’t that say something about the situation?”

Dumbledore coughed again and twiddled with his beard.

Harry decided to overload the man with his unique brand of oratory, even if it was for an audience of one—unless one counted portraits. “Now, one could theorize that the first time didn’t count as he may have been protected by prophecy. And one could also theorize that any idiot could have cast a fatal curse at the man with little to no lasting result due to that same prophecy. In fact, the same could be said of me if you think about it—but that’s not really the focus, right?

“I’ll put forth the supposition that in addition to the possibility of prophecy protecting him that first time, it was also a matter of me personally not casting anything against the man. I was barely a toddler after all, and no one is that precocious! However, when I stepped forward this time I did so deliberately, and consciously cast a spell which could have fatal results. If I am the one with the power to defeat Voldemort, as you mentioned, then that should be the end of it.

“Of course, it would help if I knew what this prophecy stated. Then I could be much more firm in my thoughts on the matter. Even so, even without that, that the Death Eaters all died when their master did strongly supports my theory, and also suggests that they were linked to him in such a way as to. . . .” Ten minutes later he stopped talking, pleased with the way Dumbledore’s eyes had glazed over.

When Dumbledore had not spoken even five minutes later Harry simply smiled and stood up, then left.

*

“Now, who do we have next?” Lucifer mused quietly, glancing at the list of incoming damned souls. “Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort.” He laughed and flipped his long flame-red hair back. “How delightful! I shall have to ask him how that name change worked out for him.”

*

Albus eventually snapped out of it and was surprised to see that Harry Potter was no longer in his office. In fact, it was time for dinner. Had he really been sitting there all day thinking? And to what end? He realized, as uncomfortable as the truth was, that he had been completely unnecessary when it came to Harry’s defeat of Voldemort. All that time, all that planning, all those ideas on how to assist. . . . All of it was pointless. He had never in his entire life felt so utterly useless and marginalized.

He heaved a huge sigh, popped a sherbet lemon in his mouth, and wandered off to the Great Hall to give a speech before the food arrived announcing his retirement. The population therein exploded with chatter, and McGonagall kept eyeing him strangely, but his mind had drifted off into plans to own and operate a sherbet lemon factory, perhaps manufacturing them in different shapes pleasing to the eye. Or perhaps he could run a little shop or café selling lemon-related goods. He would hire only the best bakers! Lemon sponge cake, lemon tarts, lemonade, lemon. . . .

*

Harry snarled as he looked out the window of the Hogwarts Express. Countless reporters thronged the platform, just waiting to attack once he stepped into view. Ravenous hell-beast scavenging morons, the lot of them. A few seconds later his belongings were shrunken and tucked into his pocket, and he disapparated to № 12 Grimmauld Place.

“Perhaps now would be a good time to flee the country,” he muttered. “Maybe go on a world tour. Suppose I should wait for my NEWT results, even though I know they’ll be perfect.”

A week later they arrived, along with a notice from the ministry stating that he was being awarded an Order of Merlin, First Class, and would he like to attend a ceremony? He sent off a reply thanking them and stating in as many ways as possible that no, he would not, in the hopes that it might get his point across. And if not? Not his problem. After all, the Death Eaters were dead, most of the corruption in the ministry was gone, so the British wizarding population should be fine now, right?

Definitely time to consider an extended holiday.

fin