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Harry Potter And The Game of Death

Level 1

Chapter One: Death Approaches

The shadowy forms of Dementors swooped through the chill night air. The land lay covered in a cloak of shadowy fog, the light of the moon and stars hidden behind a dark cloak of clouds.

Harry tightly grasped his wand. He was the only thing standing between the creatures and his friends. It was up to him to protect them.

Yet no matter hard he tried to summon a Patronus, the spell did not work. The faint stream of silver coming forth from the wand only delayed the inevitable, slowing the creature's advance rather than denying it.

On the ground next to him, his friend Hermione knelt over the canine form of his godfather, Sirius Black. From the corner of his eyes Harry could see her hands flying as she assessed the damage wrought on Sirius' body by the transformed Professor Lupin. Sirius had engaged the berserk Werewolf to keep the rest of them safe, but the Professor's claws and teeth had torn bleeding gashes along Sirius' transformed body.

Blood matted his coal black fur, and his breath came in pained heaves. And given that he had not been in the best of shape to begin with, what with being nearly starved after a year on the run from the authorities, it was quite likely that Sirius lay on death's door.

Even thinking about the possibility of the man dying caused Harry's heart to ache. So great was the pain that it felt as though one of the bony, spectral hands of the Dementors had clutched around the organ.

But no, Harry could not allow himself to be distracted by his godfather's plight. He shook his head to clear the dark thoughts and focused on trying to perform the Patronus Charm. Because if he failed against the Dementors, then not even the best Healers in the world could save the man.

For Dementors devoured a person's soul. Leaving behind naught but an empty husk, devoid of being or spirit.

Harry screamed into the night air as the silver stream of light from his wand began to slow. "Come on, come on. Work already! I can't let Sirius die on me here. Not yet. Not when I've only just found him!"

He tried to think of happy memories as the spell required, grasping blindly as he searched for one that could form a Patronus.

The day when he found that he was a wizard rose from the depths of his mind. That was when Harry had learned that he was not a Freak. That his parents had been wonderful people who had loved him with all their hearts. And the day where Harry had first felt there could be a place where he might find even a tiny shred of happiness.

The silver stream brightened as the memory surged through him. For a moment it looked like a creature might be forming.

Then the silver light once more began to dim.

Of course that memory would not work. Harry mentally berated himself for even trying it. The Dursley's, the nasty people who had raised him since he was a baby, were a part of that memory. Their very presence tainted it like an oil slick covering a patch of clean water.

The next memory Harry tried was the night he first came to Hogwarts. He recalled sitting in the enchanted boats on the lake, gasping in amazement as he saw the magical castle glowing in the distance. Of meeting children his own age who wanted to be his friend, of being welcomed by Professor McGonagall, and of the thunderous welcome given to him by the entire Gryffindor table upon his Sorting.

The silver stream of magic began to change. A small, angular shape began to form within it. Then it burst like a bubble that had been pricked and the stream of light began to dim even faster.

Memory after memory flashed through Harry's brain as he threw his entire being into the fight.

Flying on a broom for the first time. Winning his first game of Quidditch. Freeing Dobby from the Malfoys. Receiving the album of pictures from Hagrid filled with photos of his parents. Seeing Hermione wake up from the Basilisk's petrification.

All of those and more were found and tried. Yet not a single one worked, and the light from Harry's wand continued to fade.

The Dementors were close, now. Harry could feel their baleful aura pressing in on him, affecting his mind as it dug into his soul. He once again heard the voices of his parents the night Voldemort had killed them. Pain and anger tore through him as he heard his father's voice rise in fear, as his mother's voice screamed in anguish.

But no matter how hard he wracked his brain, no memory that could save them came to mind.

A soft hand touched Harry's shoulder. "You can do this Harry. I know that you can."

Hermione's confident voice broke through the clutter. Ever calm and reliable, his best friend brought him back from the brink. And as if it were buoyed by her confidence, the silver stream of magic holding the Dementors back began to strengthen.

"But why, Hermione? Why do you think that?" Harry desperately fought to keep his voice under control as the fear of failing took hold on him. "'I don't know if I have it in me. I can't even make a corporeal Patronus. Let alone one that could chase off so many Dementors!"

"Because I trust in you," Hermione said with a tremulous smile. "I've trusted in you since the day you leapt onto the back of a giant troll that was about to kill me, and I've never had reason to doubt. You've faced far worse things than this, and you've never been beaten yet."

A sign of strain appeared in her expression while she spoke. The Dementors were nearly close enough to touch, and Harry's spell protected her even less than it protected him.

Hermione's eyes grew dilated and her breathing sped up. But even under the strain of the Dementor's baleful aura, the bushy-haired girl managed to push through. "I know that… that you are an amazing wizard, Harry… one who will face even greater challenges in the future. So do… what you must… and… protect…"

Her words cut-off mid-sentence as the dark power of the Dementors overwhelmed her mental defences. Hermione's body slumped to the ground with a soft thump, twitching as her unconscious mind was tormented by nightmarish dreams.

Harry gave a cry of anguish as he watched it happen. But he held his ground; for if he were to let go of the spell and rush to her side, then all three of them would certainly perish.

"No. No. No!" The young wizard screamed in rage at the creatures surrounding them. "Not Hermione too! You can take my life if you want but you can't take hers! Never! Not while I'm still here."

Hermione had been there for him through thick and thin since the day he met her. During their first year the brilliant girl had helped Harry race to the Philosopher's Stone. Last year she had nearly lost her life last year in order to provide him with the clue he needed to uncover the truth of the Chamber of Secrets. While this year his best friend had even risked their friendship in order to keep him safe when his Firebolt had arrived from an unknown sender.

This would not be the end for them. Not when there was still so much more for them to do and accomplish in their lives. Harry would fight these monsters.

And he would win!

With renewed strength, Harry eyed the creeping forms of the Dementors. He gripped his phoenix-core wand and summoned every bit of magical energy he possessed, digging it out of his body and shoving it into the incomplete spell.

Harry might not have a memory happy enough to power a proper Patronus Charm, but he did possess a potent well of magic far beyond his age. It was time to let loose the floodgates that contained it inside of him and see what might happen.

Silvery light flared into being, raging out from his wand in a torrent of magical power. The shadowy forms of the Dementors flinched back from the sheer power contained within its glow.

Harry felt a grin stretch the corners of his mouth at the sight. It was the first sign of fear Harry had seen in them that night and reversing the tables on the blighted creatures felt good. "Yeah, that's right. Can't get us now, can you? Even if it's not complete, it's enough to hurt you guys and make you back away."

He spared a glance at Hermione. His friend's breathing had started to calm as the power of the Dementors began to recede. Sirius' panted breaths came out more easily as well.

Help had to be on the way. Whether it was Professor Dumbledore, or Professor McGonagall, surely someone had to be coming for them. The crazy swirl of the Dementors must have been too large to go unnoticed for long.

If Harry could hold on just a little bit longer, then one of the powerful wizards or witches in the nearby school were certain to come. At this point he would be relieved to see even Snape arrive, though the man bore no small amount of blame for the situation happening in the first place.

But as time passed and no help arrived, Harry's tight grin began to fade. And as the minutes began to stretch, the strain of holding the empowered spell began to overwhelm him.

As though sensing it, the Dementors began to inch closer. The Dark Creatures shifted and writhed as they circled through the air around his position. Prowling like hunters stalking their prey. Waiting for the moment when his light would fail and cast the world into darkness once more.

Harry could feel the magic leaving his body faster than it could replenish itself. He would be able to keep this up for a few more minutes yet but could not do so indefinitely. Sooner or later his body would run out of magical energy. Sooner or later his power would fail, at which time they Dementors would close in and devour their souls.

No. No! He could not allow that to happen. Harry struggled against the very notion that he would fail. There had to some way out of this mess. There just had to be one!

But nothing more came to mind, and no one appeared to save them. The woods remained silent as the grave while Harry grew ever weaker.

Then something began to change.

A feeling deep inside Harry's body, born of need and desire, stirred. It came from within the furthest depths of his flesh, his blood, his bones – no, his very soul. And it would be constrained no longer.

A distant beat began to fill Harry's ears. It was a song of some kind. A tune without words and without sound. Somehow it filled his ears and entered his brain, forcing the unknown change within Harry to accelerate.

After what felt like an age, Harry recognized it. He had heard a similar tune once before, back in the Chamber of Secrets when Fawkes' Phoenix song had uplifted his spirit.

The song was magic!

It continued to grow within him as it rose in both pitch and intensity. Forcing itself to complete its terrible melody. A melody which fought against the laws of nature and magic, against all that was alive and part of this world. And Harry could feel that it was different than the Phoenix Song.

This new tune felt as desolate as the surface of the moon and colder than the vacuum of space. It made the world feel bright and dull at the same time. As though Harry could see everything in colour one moment, then in only black and white the next.

A groan passed his lips. His body shuddered. And as it did the song swept out, wrapping around the Dementors each of which shuddered in turn.

Whatever this tune might be, and whatever end it sought, it was consuming Harry's magic at an exponential rate. Neither his body nor his magic reserves could handle the song while also maintaining an overpowered Patronus spell.

Something would have to give. And the answer as to which was soon revealed.

Harry felt the Song wrap itself around his body. It trapped what little remained of his magical energy inside and used it to feed itself, its pitch nearing a crescendo.

The light of Harry's incomplete Patronus vanished as the flow of magic to his wand was shut off. And freed from its defending aegis, the horde of Dementors swooped in for the kill.

Then time froze as four glowing lines of glowing green text floated before Harry's eyes.

Welcome, Master, to the Game of Death

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A/N: What with Level 1 of this story nearly being complete and all I've gone back and begun to edit every chapter to bring them more in line with my original vision.

This story is a bit of a writing experiment, so please keep that in mind as you read. I wanted to write a Game oriented fic where everything is not viewed through the lenses of the game, and where darkness exists but hope triumphs. And because I am a sucker for romance and good heroines (of which the HP universe has many), the Harry of this story will also (eventually) get together with seven wonderful ladies. Each of whom will be a fully fleshed character rather than a notch in his metaphorical belt.

If you are a new reader, gird yourself up for a long story if you wish to continue onward. And if you have already finished the story and are beginning to read it again, then my hat is off to you.

Thank you for giving this story a shot. I hope that you enjoy it.

Until Next Time,

~Elsil