"Don't go," she pleaded out of desperation. Her eyes were red and swollen. Her mascara was smeared and running from her well of tears.
"I have no choice, Narcissa, I must..." Malfoy held his wife about her shoulders, comforting her as best he could.
"Shhh," he placed a finger at her lips, "I have made the Vow, Narcissa, I would be dead for certain here."
The blonde witch sobbed aloud. Lucius Malfoy pulled his wife's weeping face into his chest and hugged her tightly, rubbing one hand in circles about her back.
"This last day - with you and Draco... it was more than I deserve, Cissy," Malfoy frowned down at her with a look of epic sadness wrought upon his face. This look was more than enough to set her off into tears once more.
"Don't-" she wanted to protest but again Lucius silenced her.
"Please," he picked her face up by her chin, looking down into her eyes, "I love you dearly, you must know that... but I nearly destroyed this family, Cissy..." Malfoy shook is head at his own disappointment. "This is my chance Narcissa... my chance to set things right..." she sobbed loudly once again, causing him to pause and hug her gently, wrapping his arms fully around her - stroking her, comforting her.
"You will see, love, everything will be fine, just fine," he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her gently. Three decades swept past them. They had first met so long ago - within the halls of Hogwarts, like so many else. Narcissa was crushed with the emotions of all their memories. She did not know how to let him go. Finally, after a long moment Lucius broke their kiss and painfully pulled himself away. She kept her face held up to him though, her lips held out, begging for him to kiss her once more.
"I have to go now, Cissy..."
"No..." she begged him, but his only response was a sad, frowning, forced smile.
"Its all going to be fine, I promise you... I love you Narcissa, more than life itself..." he took a deep breath, choking back his own parting tear, "Goodbye Cissy... goodbye for now, I love you so very much," he gave her one last meaningful kiss. He finally pulled away to get one good, long last look deep into her pale blue eyes - commiting them to his memory. "I need only speak with Draco before I go."
"Draco!" he called aloud. The blonde haired boy came from a back room. Narcissa turned frantically from her son back to her husband, and back and forth again. Draco was staring at the floor as he entered the room, but upon hearing his mum's sobs he looked to her - fear, pain, worry - all stricken across his face. Lucius let go his wife and nodded for his son to follow him outside. Once the door to the old house was closed, Lucius fetched a pocket watch from his cloak and checked it before he turned to his son.
"I am leaving now, Draco," Lucius said with an odd seriousness about it. He frowned down at the sight of his son who was standing, twidgetting his hands and staring back at the ground.
"Head up, Draco!" Lucius commanded of his son. Draco's face popped up but he could not hide all the emotions still torn across him. He could hardly force himself to look his father in the eyes.
"I want you to know, Draco, that I am very proud of you... you know that, don't you?"
Draco first shrugged but then nodded sheepishly in response to his father. His head drooped back down to the ground as he did this.
"I said head up, Draco!" Lucius said with more fervor. "You are a Malfoy! A great wizard, from a long line of Pure Bloods! You do not hang your head, Draco, do you understand me?!"
Again Draco only nodded.
"You have no reason to hang your head, no reason at all." Lucius took a step forward and placed a hand on his son's shoulder. Draco looked to it with surprise and then back up to his father. "Only twenty and already twice the man his father ever was..." Lucius trailed off in thought.
"I have hurt you, Draco, I know that... I have hurt your mother, I have hurt this family." Draco shook his head in protest but his father did not let him speak. "You have made it through though Draco, you have proved yourself and you have made me so proud. You will be a great wizard, I know this. But I... I have sinned Draco. I have a debt and must go now to repay it. Do you understand me?"
Draco shook his head again, not wanting to accept what his father was doing.
"Your mother will need you now, more than ever," Lucius took his hand back and rummaged around within his robes, pulling out a small, black leathered book. The Malfoy family crest was imprinted on the front of it.
"The Malfoy's are one of the oldest families in all of Britain, it will now fall on you to carry on that legacy," he handed the leather book to his son. Draco shook his head.
"But..." Draco croaked, not having spoken in so long and on the verge of tears, "I don't...you'll be back, right?"
Lucius smiled down at his son, "I nearly let the Dark Lord ruin our lives. You saved us though, Draco, you and you alone. You saved me, your mother, our family. You did what you had to, for your family. You did what the Dark Lord had ordered you, because you had to, but you were wiser, you did not scar your soul. I know you will grow into a fine man and that is all I can ask for. It is now my turn, Draco, my turn to make amends. I have forced our proud family into hiding, into running for the last two years. I nearly ruined us Draco, but I will right this now, and I know you will go on to restore our honor... I am so proud of you."
Draco looked down and ran his fingers over the crest, hiding his now watering eyes from his father.
"Inside is my Will and Testament-"
"No!" Lucius said fervently, "no, Draco, you are a man, you will be strong and we will face this like men!"
Draco looked back up to his father and nodded.
"Inside are a few things I have deemed important and meaningful enough to stow away with me as I've had to run and hide. Some documents - the key to our family's vault at Gringotts - a few other treasures I have managed to save. Goodbye, my son," Lucius opened his arms and hugged his son to his breast.
"I will see you in two days?" Draco asked, but Lucius did not give an answer.
"Father?" Draco asked as they took a step back from one another. Lucius smiled a loving smile at his son. He reached into his cloak and pulled out the already glowing tobacco pipe.
"I love you, son," Lucius said and the next instant he was gone.
. . . .
The town of Tabor was already asleep. Malfoy stood on the banks of the Luznice, looking across the river at the old Hussite town. Its buildings and houses came right to the shore. Only the street lamps and a few windows still aglow offered any light. It was a starless night.
'Fitting...' Malfoy thought to himself as he stared up at the black sky. He looked to his right - the bridge was a ways down. Not a soul was in sight. He lifted the hood of his cloak, hiding his bright blonde hair and then apparated to the opposite bank. He trecked his way up the steep edge and disappeared down one of the town's narrow, cobblestoned streets.
Malfoy did not meet a soul as he wound his way through. The entrance to the Witches Brew was tucked away in a dark, dead-end alley. There were no windows or anything else down this alley, just brick and stone. Only a mad man would wander down an avenue like this, alone at this hour. Trash and graffiti littered it the whole way. At the far end, a broken and rotting sign hung above a door that appeared not to have been used in a hundred years. The sign's letters were worn but still legible: Čarodějky Břečku, or Witch's Brew.
Malfoy walked up and hesitated before it. The door was windowless and of warped and aging wood. Black flakes of it's ancient paint were chipped and curling off it. The door knob had a cob web stretching from it to the door. No sound could be heard from the opposite side. Malfoy was unsure of what to do. He first drew his wand, then slowly reached for the unused knob.
Just before he touched it, a hideous looking face of a witch, or rather of a ghost, popped its head through the door. Malfoy fell back. The ghost witch gave him a quick look up and down and then began cackling madly.
"An Englishman!" the ghost screeched in a high pitched, raspy voice, "Vhat buzinez do you have here, zon of Merlin?"
Malfoy collected himself from his initial jolt. He drew himself back up and stared boldy back at the ugly face of the ghost witch, "I seek an audience, I was told I could find the wizard known as Bedrick here."
Her cackle ceased. The eerie smile of the ghost's face vanished. She sneered at Malfoy. Without saying another word, her head disappeared back into the black door. Malfoy awaited patiently.
After a few minutes the ghost witch came back through the closed door, this time fully. She stood, or floated rather, crooked with a large humpback. She glared eerily up at Malfoy for another moment before she finally spoke.
"He'll zee you, Englishman."
Malfoy did not respond and the witch just continued to float there, blocking the entrance to the pub.
"Well, don't just stand there you daft! Come in, come in," she cackled, curling her long, boney fingers at him, beckoning him forward. Still unsure, Malfoy stepped forward but the witch did move. Malfoy took a deep breath and held it - this was going to be unpleasant.
He stepped forward, through the ghost. The icy, cold feeling jolted him. He hurried past and once he reached the door, he passed right through that as well.
There were a number of shadowy looking witches and wizards present within, scattered about the pub's rickety wooden tables. The pub was just as dark as outside. There were no windows but there was a melted candle on just about every table. Several burning torches lined the walls. A three manned band played live, eerie witch music from a far corner. Other than the music though, the pub was oddly quite. Almost all turned to look at the newcomer as Malfoy entered.
Malfoy hesitated at the entrance, looking slowly around the pub. To his right was the bar. It was lined with stools, half of them filled, with a single bartender manning it. Behind him ran a tall shelf the length of the bar. Green, purple, crimson and other colored bottled drinks filled its shelves all the way to the ceiling. The stuffed heads of various creatures, both magical and non alike, filled in around the pub's otherwise baron stone walls.
Malfoy's eyes lingered on one inparticular. It was not stuffed, but a skeletal. It looked evil. The bone was stained a yellowish white from all the smoke of the pub and as old as it appeared to be, Malfoy was sure he could still see remants of its long ago degraded hide still lingering in bits here and there. He had never seen the head of this animal put up in display. No one hunted this animal, it brought on horrible fortune. His eyes traced up the long, spiraling horn that jutted out it's brow.
"Co k piti?" an old wizard called to Malfoy from behind the bar, bringing him out his reverie. Malfoy turned to look at the old and gray bartender, but he did not respond. He did not speak czech.
"Anglicky?" the bartender then asked, "English?" he clarified in a heavy accent. Malfoy nodded and headed for the bar. "Vhat'll you be havin'?" the bartender asked in broken english. Malfoy shook his head.
"Bedrick?" Malfoy asked. The bartender's eyes narrowed in on him as he looked Malfoy over suspiciously. He then nodded to the far end of the bar. When Malfoy looked, he saw that the ghost witch was floating before another door and was turned, smiling creepily, waiting for him. Malfoy nodded thanks to the bartender and continued on to the waiting ghost.
"Through here," she said in her screechy voice. Malfoy manuevered around her this time and used the door knob to open this door. It was a storeroom on the other side with several kegs and a number of glass bottles of firewhiskey and other concoctions lining the shelves along the walls.
"Keep on," the ghost followed him in and Malfoy hurriedly stepped aside as she glided past him to yet another door in the back of the storeroom. She did not wait for Malfoy this time as she disappeared behind the door. Malfoy walked up to it and waited. The door opened.
Just as dark as the rest of the pub, if not darker, a single table sat beneath a gothic looking chandelier. Several candles burned within it. Their and a countless number of past candles' wax coated the entire piece. The hardended remnants hung over them like stelactites of some cursed cave. Several, none-to-pleasant looking wizards all looked up from the table at Malfoy. They were playing a game of wizard cards. A number gold coins were stacked before each with several littered across the table.
Malfoy entered and the ghost witch exited back out, closing the door after her which finally drowned out her hair raising cackle. Malfoy lowered his hood.
"Lucius Malfoy," the one at the head of the table recognized him, "vhat vould bring you to zis part of ze vood.?"
"Bedrick?" Malfoy asked. The wizard nodded. "I bring news - good news, and a gift for your master."
This captured all of their attention. Malfoy was cautious. He gripped his wand tight within his robes. This was not his first rodeo. Bedrick's grunts around the table all looked young and ametuerish, but Malfoy could not get a good read on Bedrick himself. If he was an entrusted minion of Kaan's, Malfoy would have to be careful.
"Very gud, vhat is zis news und givt zen?"
Malfoy hesitated. He gulped. "I must deliver it to him myself."
All cracked up laughing at this, all but Bedrick that is. He eyed Malfoy more carefully. All of Bedrick's goons silenced however as they noticed their boss was not laughing.
"Voolish Englishman, you zink zat you can just come here und demand zu zee ze Hrabe, und poov, it iz done?"
"He will want my gift. And you will be rewarded for your service," Malfoy said.
"Iz zat zo. Let me zee zis givt zen und I vill zay."
"No," Malfoy said calmly. The tension in the room suddenly spiked. A hint of nervousness interrupted the arrogant smirks upon all Bedrick's men's faces. Nothing else was said.
Without warning, one moved to curse Malfoy, but Malfoy was a step ahead of him. Malfoy apparated, reappearing behind him, Malfoy grabbed the young wizards arm and reaimed his firing wand at one of the wizard's copatriots. He was blasted backwards out of his seat.
Malfoy abandoned the one he had a hold of as several stunning spells struck him. Two quick flashes from the corner of the room dropped another two wizards and just as Bedrick was finally standing from his seat a bright flash and a loud bang tore the whole room apart.
Dings rang and echoed across the room as all the gold coins rained across the room. Bedrick clenched at his head, it felt like it was splitting in two. He couldn't sit up. He saw only Malfoy's black boots walk up before him as he writhed on the gound.
Malfoy reached into his cloak and pulled out a yellow piece of parchment that was folded and sealed with a red blotch of wax that bore his family crest. He dropped the sealed letter to the ground before Bedrick.
"Deliver this to your Master and you will be rewarded. I will return here at this same hour on the morrow."
. . . .
'Is it even possible for a day to both drag on forever and fly by in an instant?' Malfoy pondered to himself. He had not left his room since he had checked in last night. He sat at a simple wooden desk with his back to the door. The day had dragged on for a life time, but now - now that his time was nearly up, he could not tell where all the time had gone.
The room was modest. The sheets on the small bed were undisturbed. The drapes over the window were left only slightly cracked. No light shone in though as it was already night. From Malfoy's angle, he could see the clock tower at the town center, but then again, he did not need to see it. He had listened carefully every time the bells tolled, he knew all to well the hour. Malfoy was staring down, only - always down. He was staring at a photograph.
The photo hovered at an angle just above the desk. The photo had captured a brightly blonde witch and and two wizards, taken before a magnificent looking Manor in the background. Every so often a white peacock would wander into the bottom corner of the photo, its head pecking at the ground for food.
Malfoy traced his finger along the image of his wife's face. So beautiful. His son, so handsome. He would never see them again. Malfoy had not shed a tear since he was a boy, but a silent one rolled down his cheek now. So much time taken for granted... and now time was up.
They still had each other though, his son and his wife. Narcissa lived for their son. He would redeem their honor and they would live well the rest of their days, not having to run, not having to hide. 'How true,' he thought now of the words Harry had spoken to him. How had he fallen so?
His own father... Malfoy's memories traced back to his own father, Abraxas Malfoy. He had instilled in him the same hatred, the same prejudices Lucius had tried to instill in his own son. Malfoy felt ashamed. Malfoy's thumb now traced across his son's face within the photo. He was indeed so proud of him. Draco had risen above it all. He was a better man than his father... what more could a dad ask for.
Malfoy thought back to the beginning of his own demise. Of his joining the Death Eaters... of the first time he had taken a life. It was because of his own father. Malfoy thought back to that fateful day... they had told everyone that his father had died of Dragon Pox. Ha! Truth be told, his father had insulted a Mudblood - a particularly proud and strong mudblood - for the very last time...
Lucius Malfoy got his revenge though, he evened the score. He and his Death Eater friends, they made that mudblood pay. Malfoy's heart sank with the memory of that poor sap's pleas. He looked to his hands that he held open before himself. How could he have. How could he ever wash the blood from these soiled hands?
And then his mother... she had passed soon after. None knew the cause. Malfoy told himself that she had died of a broken heart - from the loss of her beloved husband. She had never bought into all the blood purity jargon as his father and grandfather had, but she loved Abraxas all the same. When she had lost him, when she learned of what her son had then done, on top of all his dealings within the Death Eaters... Lucius feared she had taken her own life. He had never spoken of this to anyone, not even Narcissa. 'How foolish... how blind I was.'
This was his moment though. Could an entire life lived in sin be washed away and forgiven in only moment? 'Seek redemption and it shall be yours...' a voice rang in his head.
"Dong - dong - dong!" the clock's bells tolled outside. It was three-quarters past the hour. It was time to go. Malfoy brought the picture of his family to his lips and kissed it fiercely. He then stowed the picture in a pocket over his heart before he bowed his head and said a short prayer. Malfoy stood up and walked from the room, never looking back.
Cloaked and hooded, he made his way back through the narrow streets of Tabor to the alley, to the Witch's Brew. Facing the door, he took in a deep breath and reached for the handle. Malfoy tripped back once again as the same ugly face of the ghost witch popped through.
"Hehehe!" she cackled at him. "Come in, come in," she called with that screechy voice. Malfoy stepped forward but this time he did not reach for the knob, he simply walked straight through the door.
There were not as many people present this night, maybe fifteen to twenty or so. All eyed him carefully though, just as they had the previous night as he made his way to the back of the pub to the storeroom. Through the storeroom, the ghost witch led him to the room in which he had met Bedrick the night before. The room was empty now though and as Malfoy looked around, the ghost witch closed the door behind him and with a click, she locked him inside. Malfoy was without fear though. He had made his peace. He was ready for whatever was to come.
He waited patiently some fifteen minutes or so until he heard the door leading to the storeroom from the pub open. His heart rate sped up a few ticks. Malfoy positioned himself at the far wall of the room and awaited, facing the door. He heard the shuffle of steps of several different people moving through the storeroom. The door to his room clicked, unlocking... it swung forward.
Several, large, dark looking wizards began filing in; the first one to the left, the next to the right, the next to the left, the next to the right and so on and so forth until a large arc was formed about the room. And then... in he came.
Malfoy had only caught a glimpse as his eyes then immediately diverted. He knelt upon seeing him. He did not mean to, it was more a reflex. He had served the Dark Lord for a good portion of his adult life, one of the most powerful wizards in history... but, Kaan - there was no describing it. His mere presence, it overshadowed even that which he had experienced with Voldemort. It struck both fear and admiration into one's heart. Little was known of the man, Anatol Kaan, but Malfoy knew more than most as he had heard the Dark Lord reference him on many an occassion, and always with reverence. Malfoy now, having only just met him, already understood why.
His features were sharp and well defined. He was handsome - beautiful even. Unnaturally so. His pale white skin was radiant and in sharp contrast to his pitch black hair and eyes. His hair was swept back and hung below his shoulders. He was tall, but not as tall as his host of bodyguards. And for a man said to be ancient, he looked rather as one in his prime, late thirties to early forties.
He wore a crimson red, silk blouse with rich black pants and a fine black robe over them. Kaan's lips curved into a smile upon seeing Malfoy.
"Please, stand," he said with a calm and fluid voice, though still commanding. It was charming, musical even. Malfoy was taken completely off guard. His voice was hypnotizing. Malfoy could not find the strength to stand.
"S-sire," Malfoy stammered. He glanced up, but upon his eyes meeting Kaan's he immediately looked back down.
"Lucius Malfoy," Kaan pronounced his name with a perfect english accent, "student of the late Lord Voldemort, what brings you to my ward?"
"S-sire, I have b-brought you a gift..."
"No, Lucius," Kaan scoffed. Goose bumps spread across Malfoy - he was dead. "I believe gifts are given freely. You Lucius, have come to my lands to barter, yes? I have received your letter."
"W-well, y-yes sire, b-but I believe-"
"That it is a fair trade?" Kaan cut him off. Kaan began to snicker, "how did you put it - what was that - oh yes, Warlord of the British Isles! Hahaha!" he laughed a deep and menacing laugh, "Spoken like a true egotist! Just as ambitious as your former master, I see!" Kaan laughed harder. All of his guard stood stone faced though with no sign of emotion, staring - watching Malfoy's every move.
"And then, there was one other matter..." Kaan held out his hand, lifting it into the light. Apprasing the back of it, the ring about one of his fingers, Kaan continued, "Circe's Seal..." he looked back to the still kneeling Malfoy, "How you even knew this object was in my possession is a question in and of itself, but what I am more curious of, Lucius, is what on earth you intend to do with this ring?" Kaan's eyes lifted back up the his treasured ring. It was indeed very beautiful. "Are you even aware of it's qualities?"
Malfoy was unsure of what to say. He had no idea what Circe's Seal was, or of its importance. But then if he admitted that he did not know, why in the world would he be asking for it in trade for something else? Kaan's questions were met with silence.
"Hmm..." Kaan considered. He let it go though and pulled the ring from his finger and tossed it down upon the ground before Malfoy. It dinged loudly as it skid across the stone. It sounded to be very heavy for its size. "We are agreed, Lucius. Now then, the Key."
Malfoy's heart was beating madly. Something was terribly wrong. This was going too smoothely. Kaan let out an obvious cough causing Malfoy to break his gaze from the ring upon the ground and begin to fumble within his robes. Pulling out a small pouch, he used his wand to summon the golden key from within. The golden glint of it shone brightly within Kaan's black eyes. Kaan smiled gaily upon seeing this beautiful object.
"Come to me, my precious," he summoned it right from Lucius's hands. The Key glided smoothely across the room into Kaan's waiting hands. The warlock took it in and fondled it delicately as if it were a fragile baby. He looked it over carefully and once satisfied he stowed it away within his own robes.
"Very well, Lucius, I am most greatful. This is a prized treasure of mine. I was most distressed when it was stolen from me."
By this point, Malfoy's breathing had become uneven and heavy. This was the end of him, he was sure of it.
"I have to ask," Kaan went on, "how were you able to procure this from him? My men had been most unsuccessful."
"I-I...h-he...y-you only h-have to know how Potter works...I-I have spent a l-long time fighting P-Potter."
"So I have heard. I knew Voldemort well, it is a shame what happened to him. Seems Harry Potter is a thorn in all our sides," Kaan smiled slyly to Malfoy. "If you wish to be," Kaan's mouth turned into a wide, childish grin, "Warlord of Britain," his voice mocked Malfoy, "then there is still much work to be done. I trust, my Warlord, that I will be able to count on you in the coming days as my man inside Britain?"
"O-of course, my Lord!" Malfoy felt a glimmer of hope, as though he might actually survive this.
"Godspeed to you then, Lucius," Kaan turned on his heels and to Malfoy's utter disbelief, exited the room. Malfoy had almost forgotten all the rest present. A loud shuffle sounded as all moved, still without saying a word, to follow their master. Relief swept over Malfoy. The last to leave closed the door behind himself and Malfoy collapsed to the floor.
. . . .
With a few of his minions leading the way, Kaan walked out the storeroom's door and made his way through the pub to leave, followed by the long line of his other body guards. Halfway past the bar, Kaan abruptly stopped and even backtracked a couple of steps. He turned to his right, his eyes falling on one wizard inparticular.
The room seemed to narrow in on this wizard. Kaan's dark eyes were the last any wanted on them. Hushed whispers echoed about. The wizard sat all alone with the hood of his cloak hiding his face. An untouched glass of ale sat atop his small table. As if from Kaan's gaze, a bead of sweat ran down the dirty glass. The rest of the pub had fallen dead silent. A few of its loyal patrons looked terrified, looking from Kaan's posse to the door and back again, wandering how in the world they could escape. All the rest of the eyes though followed Kaan's to the lone sitting wizard. Kaan smiled gaily at him.
"I admit, I am disappointed. This is not how I would have liked for it to end. It is a little too arrogant, if you ask me," Kaan said to the wizard, but he did not look up. The wizard appeared to be looking only at his beer before him.
"As much as I considered it, I could not let myself believe that you would actually have the gall to show yourself here, Harry."
The wizard at the table looked up from his beer and pulled back his hood, indeed revealing himself as Harry Potter. Harry smiled back, looking fearlessly into those empty, black eyes.
"I must know, Harry, what on earth do you want with that silly ring?"
"It doesn't matter," Harry said, "I am here, and you are here, that is all that matters."
Kaan's lips curled into a smile.
"Oh please, dear boy, look around you!" Kaan held out his arms, turning from side to side at all those who stood readied with their wands. "You are hopelessly outnumbered!"
Harry peered over his shoulder in either direction, taking in the number. Kaan had expected this. Apart from his posse, a number who were already present within the bar stood and drew their wands, fixing their aim onto the back of Harry. Those in Kaan's posse numbered anywhere from fifteen to twenty, bringing the number Harry faced to that of a small army.
"You see? Hopeless. I like you, Harry, you've got nerve - brains though, I think not."
All flenched - all but for Kaan of course - as the legs of Harry's chair screeched across the floor as he sprung up and it fell back. If you blinked, you missed it. Just as he was standing, a red ball of light shot out of nowhere and streaked towards Kaan. Kaan, however, was no novice and disappeared right before the stunning spell would have hit him. It instead crashed into the bar, exploding a good chunk of it and burst the rest into flame.
"Ah tah tah, Harry, shame on you!" Kaan scolded him from the side. Harry's stomach dropped. He stumbled forward a step, nearly collapsing. "I see the problem now though, you had left your brains behind!"
Kaan was now standing behind a witch with whom he held firmly in place by the back of her neck. Her eyes were glazed over. She stared out into nowhere, lost in a daze. She was obviously under a strong spell, placed within a trance. It was Hermione. How had he?
Harry's heart sank and sank. It sank like a ship lost at sea. Down, down it went, ever expecting to reach the bottom, lost of air, lost of life, but still it dropped mercilessly further. Down and down, not reaching rest 'til all the light of the world had been choked off, 'til all hope of ever seeing the surface once more was strangled. Not until it had reached the depths of the abyss, crushed beneath the weight of all the ocean above it did Harry's heart stop. Hopelessnes swelled in its place. Harry's world was collapsing in on him. His plans, his world, his life - everything was out the window. He regretted it all, he wished only to take Hermione and retreat, to give up. He would let Kaan have whatever way he wanted, so long as he would not harm Hermione... but it was too late. Kaan was toying with him.
"Weak," Kaan taunted. "Did you learn nothing within the trials?"
Harry could not speak.
Kaan then pulled Hermione's head back and to the side, revealing the length of her vulnerable, unprotected flesh of her neck. He lowered his face to it, running his nostrils up and down it, taking in her scent.
"Don't you dare!" Harry came out of his reverie and barked at Kaan.
"Ah, struck a nerve have I? I can see why you like her so much, she smells... mmm... rather delicious!"
"I'll kill you..." Harry threatened with pure hatred beneath his breath, his eyes glaring drastically at the monster.
Kaan parted his lips and brought them gently to Hermione's neck, kissing her softly. Harry lunged. With a loud crash, Harry slammed through the bar and into the wall behind Kaan. Bottles fell and rained down upon him, smashing into the ground.
It had happened so fast. All the witnesses within had fallen back a step, surprised by the sudden attack. Kaan was one step ahead though, and had apparated himself and Hermione away to where Harry had just launched his assault. Harry attempted to rebound, but he then abruptly doubled over in agony. He fell to his knees, clenching at his stomach as he groaned in agony.
Still with one hand on Hermione, Kaan had his other held out with his fingers clenched and curled into a claw like a dragon's talons, attacking Harry. Harry struggled fiercely and after a what seemed like an eternity to all in the room who had to hear is blood curdling screams of agony, finally Harry threw off Kaan's grasp of him. Kaan, as if he had actually had a physical hold on Harry, was thrown back a step as Harry pushed him off. Harry was left heaving and panting on the ground, weakened by Kaan's assault on him.
"It is a shame... so much potential lost."
Harry was far from defeated though. He was about to make another move when something else caught his attention - a voice, a familiar voice... it was not so much a voice, but the voice of a thought. Harry's gaze turned from Hermione and Kaan to another wizard a few paces away. He was cloaked and hooded, but under the intense gaze of Harry, he tripped back and fell over a bar stool. As he fell, his hood came off revealing his fiery red hair. The wizard looked back panicked. Everything went mute to Harry. Everything went into slow-mo. The air was sucked out of the room. So much pain, the worst he had ever felt... it threatened to do him in.
Harry had placed the Fidelius Charm on the Dursleys' house to keep them and also Hermione safe. He had forced Hermione to promise him that she would stay there until he returned. Unsure of what his own fate would be by coming here, he had asked the only other person in the world he thought cared for Hermione as much as he did to become its Secret-Keeper in his stead. Ron. Now Ron stood on the other side - amongst the enemy. Ron had betrayed him. Ron had betrayed Hermione. He had betrayed them, in the worst, most despicable way - the same way Harry's parents had been betrayed and sold out to Voldemort. The same way Harry's life had been torn apart to begin with.
Stricken. Defeated. Harry swayed upon his knees, numb to the world. He was dead within.
With a flick of his hand, Kaan shot his own red bolt at Harry. Harry though was lost... sick... paralyzed by the sight of Hermione under Kaan's hand and Ron's wretched betrayal. He did not even try to block it, he didn't even try to move, his life was over.
The spell struck him high in his top right shoulder, blasting him back into the shattered ruins of the bar. His wand was sent spiraling across the room. He somehow though, miraculously, weathered the attack and managed to remain concious. Kaan smirked even further at this. Several of his goons looked unsure at one another at what they had just seen.
"Checkmate," Kaan said under his breath as he flicked his hand again, though this time a green light erupted and sped towards Harry. He stared the green light face on, welcoming its relief. Then black. He was knock forcely backwards, back into the rubble of the shattered bar and wall once more. Was this death?
There was a weight upon him... a dead weight. Harry considered he had been struck, but no, he was still very much alive. He reached up and grabbed hold of the form atop him... it was a body. He pushed it off him. The lifeless body of Lucius Malfoy fell over limp to one side. His eyes stared aimlessly into the beyond. If it were even possible, more grief swept over Harry. Though he was now dead, Harry could still feel Malfoy's last wishes... his hopes for his family... his hopes for forgiveness... his hopes for redemption. Anger swelled within Harry, eclipsing the sorrow of his self pity.
As Harry looked into the lost eyes of Malfoy, the floor, the walls, the pub - they all began to shake. Those present looked to each other, alarmed even further. Then, the oddest of things then happened... a trace of electricty - static - sparked across Harry. Those who had seen it were unsure if they could trust there eyes... before several other currents cracked across him. The floor, the pictures on the wall... they all began to rattle more violently
"Thank you," Harry whispered as he reached up and closed Malfoy's lids, bringing him to peace.
"Kill him!" Kaan ordered loudly. He no longer had the cool, calm demeanor, but seemed outright furious. Just as Harry turned from Malfoy to look at him, he apparated once more with the entranced Hermione in tow.
Harry was left clenching at air, right where Kaan and Hermione had just been. Having missed them, Harry straightened himself up. He closed his eyes and put himself into a trance. Several smirked and laughed at this. Some still looked worried. Some looked relieved. One after the other, green balls of light began collapsing upon where Harry stood.
Harry was swallowed whole by the sheer number of spells, but the strangest thing happened. None had ever seen anything like it. Just as the spells reached Harry, they slowed to a halt and enveloped Harry in a shell of green.
The cacoon then grew brighter. Beneath the glow of green grew a white light... a blinding white light. White rays burst out as its beams found cracks within the encasing. Several had to use their arms and hands to shield their eyes from the intense light. The floor began to rumble again. The walls began to shake. And then it happened, the cacoon of light exploded.
. . . .
"Ughuh, ughuh," Ron coughed as he pushed the debris off himself. The only ceiling now was the starry sky above. The roof of the pub laid in rubble with the rest of it. As he worked his way free, he noticed several others were doing the same. Standing still at the center of the mayhem, Ron could see Harry.
There was a flash of light as someone dared to cast another spell at Harry, but he brushed it easily aside. Two other spells came from different directions. This time Harry disappeared in a whirl of his cloak. Ron scrambled to his knees and looked around frantically. Harry was across the remnants of the pub - he had one of Kaan's men held as a human shield within a choke hold. As more emerged from the rubble, several killing curses were cast at Harry, but were absorbed by his hostage as Harry fired his own and dropped two.
Harry abandoned the limp body and disappeared. He immediately reappeared in the midst of everyone. All redirected their wands to the center. As the spells flew, Harry whipped his wand in the air and the same strand of energy burst from it that had the night Malfoy and his Death Eaters had attacked Harry. It wrapped itself around Harry, collecting the spells and once accomplished Harry brought his wand down like a true whip and struck the wizard closest to him.
He spun away, dodging another green blast as he slung the energy whip in the air, firing off several of the green blasts he had collected at his attackers. Four dropped dead. More spells were cast as one of the fiercest battles in wizarding history ensued.
Ron watched as Harry danced in the center of it all. He now had a second wand held within his left hand and bobbed and weaved while he wielded the two wands like some mad mistro gone acrazed. Ron awaited in angst. How Harry survived, how every spell that seemed like it would surely connect but didn't, Ron did not know? But one after the other, Kaan's goons fell.
Someone cast a spell at his back. Harry reached back and caught it with the tip of his wand and as if he were wielding a hammer, he brought it over and down upon the one in front of him, dropping him to the ground. In the same instance he fired a stunning spell at one to his right, blasting him off his feet.
The one who had shot at Harry's back flourished his wand again but his spell trailed off into empty space. Harry reappeared behind him and bringing his wand across the wizards neck as if it were a knife, the wizard fell to the ground, choking to death. Another now stood before him, frozen with fear. The brick and debris around him suddenly swelled up like a tsunami and swallowed him whole.
Harry then turned and his insane gaze fell upon Ron. Ron panicked, he turned tail and ran. He did not make it far though. Something caught him by the ankle and hoisted him high into the air. He awaited for the next blow to come, but none did. As he dangled there, he slowly turned to see Harry duking it out with the last few survivors.
They were shooting one after the other: red, green, blue, and purple, white and black - all the diffferent spells they could muster. Harry deflected each effortlessly.
With a burst, Harry launched himself at one in the center. Like a freight train, Harry collided with him and sent him toppling, skidding, bouncing back across the ground like some ragdoll. He finished some thirty meters away, rolling to a halt, unconcious.
Another fired a spell but Harry rolled out of it and with a whip of his wand, the wizard, as if taken by the hand of an invisible giant, was snatched up, hauled high into the air before he was then cast violently back down to the ground. He did not stir thereafter.
As Ron slowly turned, jostling back and forth within the air, hanging by an ankle, he watched as Harry turned to face the last three of the once so many. All four, including Ron, were left stunned when Harry dropped the wand in his left hand and then stowed away his own within his robes. The once terrified three - what was left of all Kaan's minions- turned to one another and smiled. They began to slowly fan out around Harry.
Harry suddenly threw out his arms, like tossing a frisbee, casting two bright beams of red light out, far to the side. Their paths arced hard though, coming back around into the two who where stalking on the flanks. They each ducked and cast strong deflective charms... but at the last moment, the spells' paths bent again and the two spells rushed past the two cowering wizards and instead collapsed onto the unsuspecting one in the center. He was nearly ripped apart by their force.
The two on the flanks had both followed their own beam as it streaked past them and now stood nearly as dumbstruck as their copatriot was right before he had been hit. Each only had just enough time to turn and see another set of red spells cast right for them. Each was taken right off their feet. And that was that. Harry turned back to the still dangling Ron.
As Harry drew nearer, Ron was released and fell with his head on the broken brick and wood below. Ron cursed and grumbled as he tried to scramble up to his hands and knees.
"I've seen a lot of things, Ron... but never - never would I have thought I's see this day."
Ron clenched at his forehead, he felt something warm running down across it. He looked back at his hand - it was bloody. He looked up to Harry who was just some ten meters or so from him now.
"How could you have, Ron ... how could you...?!"
"Well, go on then, GET IT OVER!" Ron screamed at Harry, picking himself up off his hands to face him. Ron had a mad look in his eye.
"You'll need this..." Harry said as he lifted Ron's wand into the air by it's tip.
'How had he...?' Ron pondered as he looked down to his own hand. His eyes suddenly bulged with surprise as his wand was now there.
He immediately aimed it at Harry as he then scrambled to his feet. Harry still had his own stowed away, but Ron had just seen first hand what Harry had done without his wand.
"Go on then," Harry invited him to attack, holding out his arms defenseless.
"You... you stay back!" Ron yelled as he stumbled backwards, away from the approaching Harry.
"You had better use that thing," Harry threatened him.
Ron used it as he continued to fall back. "Stupefy!" he yelled.
Harry did not block nor dodge it. It hit him square in the shoulder, just where Kaan's had. Harry was knocked back a step, but otherwise unphased. Collecting himself, Harry continued walking slowly towards Ron while Ron tripped backwards as quickly as he could.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Ron yelled. The spell hit Harry straight on... but Harry only froze for a second, as he quickly shook it off and continued stalking towards Ron.
"I SAID STAY BACK!" Ron bellowed as he sent another feeble spell at Harry. Harry brushed it off with the wave of his hand.
Harry stopped. Ron stopped.
"How could you have done that to her?" Harry asked loudly.
"Pppsssttt!" Ron spat across his own chin. "She always favored you... she always put you before me... s-she always wanted you!" Ron screamed at Harry. Harry did not respond. "HA! Like your sister, you told me!" Ron took a step forward.
"I did not lie to you."
"You read my letter."
"You're damn right I did! MR. CHOSEN ONE! Mr. Boy-who-lived! Mr. Savior!" Ron began breaking down. "You have everything - EVERYTHING! Did you have to have her too? You couldn't let me have just her?!" Ron bellowed
Harry sighed, "You were my friend, Ron. I left."
"I read the fucking letter HARRY!" Ron spat again.
"You said the two of you were to be married..."
"So maybe you'd get the fucking hint!"
"And you came back!"
"You lost her yourself."
"FUCK YOU!" Ron cursed, sending another spell at him. It was aimed poorly though and Harry needed only to duck to one side to avoid it.
"I'm sorry Ron..." Harry surprisingly said. Ron jerked back, stunned. "But if you loved her... you could not have sold her out to that creature."
"Fuck you, Harry, FUCK YOU! You brought them here! Just like you brought Quirrell, just like you brought the Basilisk... just like how you got Cedric killed!" Ron attacked. "The Dementors, the Death Eaters, Voldemort!" Ron now dared in his rage to scream his name. "You're like a fucking ticking time bomb!"
Ron fired another stunning spell. It struck Harry in his opposite shoulder, tearing Harry's robes there, but otherwise only set Harry back a step. Harry apparated, reappearing right before Ron. Ron was dumbstruck. He again began tripping backwards but Harry matched him step for step.
"You were my friend Ron... I am sorry if I have crossed you, but you betrayed her... HER!" Harry let slip a piece of the rage he was bottlling up inside. He took a step forward. "I can always find a way to forgive you... but not for her."
Harry swung at Ron, connecting his fist hard with Ron's jaw. Ron was sent reeling, keeling over backwards. He fell to the ground and did not stir.
Alright, another one down. Thanks for reading and PLEASE leave a review. Really like to know what ppl think of the story!