Prologue: The Next Great Adventure
"I KILLED SIRIUS BLACK!" Bellatrix Lestrange cackled madly as she raced along the Ministry floor like a little girl on a sugar high, Harry Potter giving chase just a few scant feet behind her. Harry noted that for a middle aged woman who spent the better part of two decades in Azkaban, she was a fast runner.
The Boy Who Lived had just moments earlier witnessed his godfather being killed at the hands of this sycophantic monster with black curly hair, this utterly repulsive racist and killer, this three-quarters mad scoundrel. And yet, Harry had more on his mind than just revenge. He had something worse boiling underneath his psyche. This past year, his fifteenth year of life and his fifth as a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it had made Harry realize the tragedy of his life, and that he wanted to die.
Harry didn't need thirteen reasons why, he needed one. His life was a nightmare. He had friends and family, but in his despair, he felt deep down that they weren't enough to defeat the anguish and pain that dominated his mind. If anything, they were obstacles that he wanted to shove out of the way.
When Harry had been first introduced to the Wizarding World on his eleventh birthday, he had found joy. He had discovered wonder and amazement for the first time, a supernatural escape from his menial real life. His life a mere five years ago had been an endless torrent of abuse at the hands of his so called aunt and uncle, the gluttonous bastards who underfed and underclothed him, mocked him and dehumanized him, beat him down physically and mentally. More important than magic and free ice cream sundaes at Florean Fortescue's however, he had found real familial love in the Wizarding World. His friends Ron and Hermione were truer companions than anyone could ever ask for. As the cliché went, they were thicker than thieves, and nothing, not death itself, would ever separate them. Ron's family, the Weasley's, had all but adopted Harry into their red-headed clan, and he considered Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to be his surrogate parents. He was the most famous boy in Wizarding Britain, beloved by almost everyone. He was a celebrity, and not to be too modest, his own late parents had left him a sizable inheritance, making him quite a rich young man.
But then Harry met Draco Malfoy in Diagon Alley and realized that life is cold and cruel, even the Wizarding World. Wizards, for all their talents, were just as corrupt, selfish, and evil as Muggles were. In fact they were worse, as what is worse than a bully? A bully with powers. Draco Malfoy and his venal father and mother had proved that even with magic, there was still an unavoidable class system, and that bullies still stamped their boots on the necks of those weaker than they regardless of whether you had a magic wand in your pocket. One of his teachers, Professor Snape, had it out for poor Harry from day one, get this, out of a childish "sins of the father" vendetta. Snape hated Harry's biological father James, and Snape took every opportunity to rub in his vicarious contempt for the boy. To make things worse, a group that could only be described as terrorists, the Death Eaters, had put a mark on poor Harry's head. In five years, there had been multiple attempts on his life by the Death Eaters. The leader of these band of tyrants, Lord Voldemort, had murdered Harry's friend Cedric Diggory in cold blood right in front of him at the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament last year. Harry never told anybody, but seeing Cedric's dead body, and being forced to hold onto his cold lifeless corpse so it could not be claimed as an Inferi had traumatized Harry more than any beating from his cousin Dudley ever could. He would have cried himself to sleep every night, but he wasn't allowed to display emotions at home.
This year had been the worst. An utterly contemptible bitch named Umbridge had taken over the school by decree of the Ministry of Magic. His mentor Albus Dumbledore had abandoned him to the abuses of her as well as those of Professor Snape during his legilimancy lessons. And lets not forget the hassles of dealing a libelous press who besmirched Harry's name at every turn, as well as Harry being constantly being kept in the dark on his summer holidays. Harry knew why he was being kept off balance like this. It was so he was easier to control in his fate-bound battle against Voldemort. Dumbledore was using him as a pawn to defeat the madman. It was hideous, the manipulations that old man Dumbledore had done against him. Enough to where Harry wanted to lash out.
"I KILLED SIRIUS BLACK! COME AND GET ME!" cackled the mad old witch once again, and it was the instant after that insane repetitive shriek when Harry had finally decided upon what he wanted to do with the final minutes of his life. It was impulsive and selfish. He knew that he would regret it, that there would be repercussions both long term and immediate, that is if he had been planning to live. If he weren't suicidal, Harry would probably lose everything from doing what he was about to do. His freedom, his friends, the trust of Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix, and perhaps most of all, his soul. But something deep inside him, perhaps Lord Voldemort himself, told him that it needed to be done. He raised his wand...
A bolt of verdant light erupted from Harry's wand, striking Bellatrix dead on the spot.
At first he couldn't believe he had actually done it.
Harry casually walked over to inspect her body, bending down carefully over the insane woman's body, looking for any signs of life. Her skin was still warm, but there was no pulse coming from her wrists or her chest, and the pallor of the witch's face described perfectly clear that she was no longer alive. It was then as he got up when he heard the most dreaded of voices.
"Well done, Harry" said a cold, clear voice inside of him. "And you actually meant it. I wasn't expecting that."
"SHUT UP!" shouted Harry out loud, sounding insane himself.
A smirking apparition, a white ghost of a floating head drifted into Harry's purview, coalescing like an angry star until the full body of Lord Voldemort was corporeally present.
Harry, emboldened by his actions, immediately tried to cast the killing curse on Mr. Riddle, but Mr. Riddle immediately threw Harry's wand aside with a casual wave of his own potent magic.
"So weak my boy, and yet..."
Voldemort's villain monologue could not be finished as both he and Harry saw a green light coming from one of the many entrances of the Ministry. A moment later, the cavalry had arrived, upright and confident in his moral and magical superiority. He nonchalantly looked over at Harry with false concern.
"Oh dear, the savior of all Wizarding England Albus Dumbledore is here to save the day, Potter. Whatever shall we do?" asked Riddle teasingly to his young enemy.
"It was foolish of you to come tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way" spat Dumbledore piously.
A defiant Riddle made one last caustic comment before readying himself for the duel to end all duels. A fight that would make Dumbledore vs Gellert Grindlewald look like two overgrown boys roughhousing with each other.
"By which time I shall be gone, and you..."
He made a flourish with his wand.
"...shall be dead."
Thus began yet another battle for the ages, the latest in a long line of pyrotechnic light shows as a battle of wills between good and evil commenced. Harry merely tried to avoid being seen by either bastard until he could run away, softly scurrying into the darkness of the Ministry like the world's largest mouse. By the grace of Merlin, he succeeded, though that may have been because the Headmaster was currently dealing with anthropomorphic fiendfyre.
Harry quietly sneaked into a side entrance of the Department of Mysteries and religiously approached the Veil. Touching the stony edges with his hand, he stared deep into the swirling blue and gray mist that some wizards believe is the border between life and death itself. Harry laughed cynically to himself. Lots of things might count as the border between life and death. For instance, a jealous husband's fist. A dead man's curve. A banana peel on a wet frictionless floor. He was so lost in his own despair that he hadn't heard the loud steps behind him.
"Harry? Be careful. You know what they say about those who gaze into the abyss for too long."
It took Harry a second to decipher who the voice could belong to. It carried a compassionate albeit harried tone. He turned around and smiled. 'Mione always made him feel better, if only for a moment.
"Very funny, Hermione, but I've had to share my head-space with a homicidal maniac for fifteen years now and still turned out OK. I don't think the abyss is going to gaze back into me anytime soon."
"Still, Sirius just died. I know how important he was to you, and I don't want you to get any funny ideas about jumping inside the Veil to rescue him. Now come on, we gotta get over here."
The fighting between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the next room was intensifying. Booming supernatural sounds were echoing everywhere, with shards of glass blowing into the room. Purple and green shadows could be seen flickering on the walls.
"Where is everybody?" asked Harry, half between caring and not caring.
"Professor Lupin is taking everybody home, and that includes us. He's in the Brain Room. Now come on, lets go."
Hermione was gently but forcibly grabbing Harry's wrist with her hand, attempting to drag him along into the Brain Room as if he were a small child and she were his mother.
"Harry, are you crazy?" she asked impertinently, turning around to see Harry staring again at the Veil. She momentarily let go of Harry in her confusion, but immediately pulled back onto his arm once she saw that he was beginning to run into the archway.
"Harry!" she screeched, terrified. "The Death Eaters are all in custody. We're safe for once. You don't need to do this" she pleaded. She looked at her dear friend, her best friend, with all of the love she could spare in her eyes. "Harry, please. Things are going to get better."
"No they aren't" he replied, forcible removing Hermione's grip and sprinting into the next great adventure.