The first (and last) battle of the Second Wizarding War was an exam day. An agitated and apprehensive air having settled upon not just Hogwarts castle, but the entire nation it settled itself within. Most having their own reasons to dismiss or explain away the complete and abstract sense of unease, whilst others simply could not shake the feeling that something was wrong...
And something was about to happen...
In a wand shop in Diagon Alley, a man found his entire collection sprawled across his floor after crashing into his ladder hard enough to shake the shelves.
"So many fallen wands, can only be an omen of sorts..."
Further down the alley, a hooked nosed goblin scowled as he rang a bell only his kind could hear. Biting back the sneer as the lumbering guards at the door responded and strode towards the loud and insufferable humans on the other side of his desk...
Shivering in a cave not far from the Highlands town of Hogsmeade, a grubby (yet still high spirited) half-giant tended to the whining and barks of his similarly large hound,
"Yer alright, Fang. Yer alright."
A cracked vial met the black, scrutinising gaze of the disapproving potions master. Biting back bafflement and uneasiness as he restrained himself from picking up the item itself to take a closer look. For he did not need that observation to know a dark omen where one sat...
Wheezing in laughter before falling deathly silent, the man in the patchwork suit unintentionally ignored his shaggy, dark haired lifelong friend as he felt a... shift within the instincts he very much ignored from his other half.
A disgruntled barmaid hid her irritation behind a dazzling grin and the fluttering of eyebrows. Ignoring the shaky and disturbing feeling in her stomach and the shiver running down her spine. She passed off as much as she feasibly could on the part-timers so she could flee to the wine cellar and catch her breath...
In a Ministry corridor, black and dreary and surrounded by men and women many years their senior, a young lady scowled as she hurled a folder of parchment in the apathetic face of the red head before her and stormed off after spinning on her heels. Eyes prickling with tears and filled with an irresistible desire to go home...
Elsewhere in the Minsitry, a young woman shook her head and subsequently her hair transitioned from a vibrant, nigh-flourescent shade of yellow to a gentle periwinkle. In the privacy of the empty bathroom she allowed a little of her monumental fatigue to settle upon her face for the briefest of moments before the spunky, junior Auror returned to the world with her bubblegum pink mohawk...
A sherry bottle clutched between her knees and a very full glass teetering in spindly, shaky hands, the dishevelled woman sat rocking back and forth on the carpeted floor before her roaring fireplace. Locked away in a tower in Hogwarts castle, she was wondering if anyone would heed her warning or if they would fall like all the others who hadn't...
In an armchair under the warm, golden rays of the afternoon sun, a blonde woman thanked her House Elf for settling a blanket across her lap and returned to her act of reading a novel. Ignoring the ominous aura at her back, emanating from further into the Manor. Wondering if today would be the day she regained her courage...
And, in a room displaced from the very concepts of dream, time and reality, a man placed the cerulean quill in his hand back in its inkwell,
"It would appear, my dear, that we should be expecting company in the near future."
A woman, startlingly beautiful and draped in the same twilight colours of the room offered the stout, balding individual a gentle nod and a few soft words in reply. He blessed her with a grin that stretched from ear to ear.
In a moment, seemingly unknown to all, everything stopped. The world collectively held its breath and felt a cold, foreign sensation settle upon their shoulders for an instant longer than any was comfortable with. A clench of the heart coming to all as everything seemed to freeze in a startling sense of morbid anticipation...
Things only falling back into motion, like the collapse of a house of cards, when Harry Potter (the Boy Who Lived) staggered and fell to his knees with his hand firmly clasped over the lightning bolt scar that dominated his forehead. Curled over in agonising pain that his students and teachers (those who deigned to view him in this state) surmised was likely stress related.
But it was in fact a call, a call to action from the boys deadliest foe. A call that, when he answered it, would mark the first step towards the rest of his life.
Voldemort's downfall came from frequent and, perhaps in hindsight, ludicrous underestimation of his enemy.
A slip of a boy, narrow in a way that bordered on unhealthy, hear like a blackened nest of a bird and green eyes so deep and rich in colour they were more like sharp jewels than human eyes.
Those eyes had never left him, not when they'd found him in the Atrium with him. Cutting the same malevolent, intimidating figure that had caused lesser men to flee or beg, taunting him for his inability to murder in turn the woman who had killed one of his own.
He'd lashed out, wand ablaze with spell on his lips, a suicide run. He'd very much intended on humouring the fool, perhaps tearing into him only when his spells and stamina was exhausted.
'Only when he could see the collossal gap in our power...' That was the Dark Lords thoughts, 'That is when I will kill him...'
That was the issue. The problem his mentality, a sense of pride and accomplishment he had grown used to in years of victory upon victory.
This child was the only being who had ever, truly, levied him any substantial defeat. Though he had done so in such ridiculous scenarios, and though he had been beaten back by and defied by the likes of Dumbledore and his pests in the past, he had never truly lost to any of them. Only this scrawny child who came at him in his school uniform.
Perhaps, if he had taken the enraged teen seriously, approached what would be their final duel with anything close to a modicum of dignity or ruthlessness, he could have ended his foe then and there.
But his taunts lead to him immediately on the back foot, immediately on the defensive, and Lord Voldemort would never recover the advantage...
'Impossible!' He'd thought over and over as his adversary's offensive line encroached upon him, closer and closer. Every spell sending earth-shattering tremours throughout his body and their surrounding making it near impossible to even stand let along block or deflect the juvenile spells he was being assaulted by.
And that is what they were, juvenile.
Diffindo, Bombarda, Expelliarmus, Stupefy?! Had they not punched holes the size of elephants in brick walls, cleaved through metal, had his shield not sent his own dark and vicious curses ricochetting off into the ether, Voldemort would have been offended at how unprepared his foe was when facing him. No Unforgivables, no fancy rituals or esoteric summons, just spells that could be learned from standard Hogwarts textbooks. It was, on Potter's end of the duel, nothing short of an embarrassment.
But how could he be. For the only reason he was still standing was because of his choice of charms and curses.
Potter was many decades his junior and a child of the Light through and through, truly one of Dumbledore's men. What he lacked in experience and skill he was substituting in rage, adrenaline and simple, pure and RAW power. The spells he flung... simply could not do what he was making them. They were not designed to perform to such a high calibre and deadly degree, yet...
He lost to them. He lost to those spells one would expect from a Hogwarts fifth year.
And, in a sea of curses, vitriol and unrestrained tears and profanity, that fifth year executed the most dangerous Dark Lord of all time to the wide eyed and speechless crowd that had formed.
Cementing his place in history, as one of the greatest and most powerful wizards ever born...
Tell tale pops of Apparition hit his ears from his spot in the stands, nestled (unseen) on the stone pews as the brats finished off the Death Eaters just as their would-be-saviours arrived to do the same. Slack jawed and incredulous in the face of their charges miraculous victory.
He resisted the urge to give them a hand, the children that is, paranoid even though it wouldn't give him away. He'd underestimated a group like that one many years prior and had barely managed to live through it; their skill and tenacity nothing short of commendable.
And seeing as, with their victory (and that of their 'leader' in the other room) everything was finally in place, he felt no need to hang onto bitterness or envy.
"With this victory, the boy is more that qualified." An obvious thought that echoed through his mind as he adjusted his cloak and leaned further into the shade, "He will reach out to the boy and, at last, we can begin again."
He grinned. Not the practiced one for the press and the fools in charge. Not the malicious smirk he hid behind his mask. A grin, a grin of glee and a grin of relief.
"Hmm. For a servant to rejoice the defeat of their master... scandalous."
Though in his head, that voice was not his own,
"Heh, master?! Riddle was a tool of my fathers long before he was one of mine, never a master." Though he did not speak, he did deign to scoff aloud at such a preposterous statement, "A pawn in a game far larger than his dreams could have designed."
On his feet. the room had emptied, but it would soon be crawling with Aurors.
He did not fear them, but he had a part to play and a place to be.
Everything lay in the boys hands now,
"With that bastard half-blood finally out of the way, Potter can attain his destiny." A distant doorknob rattled as he swept out of the room, "Everything has finally fallen into place."
An item was returned to his pocket as he made his escape. Long strides where the heels of his boots clicked sharply against the black marble floors. A single card, black as coal and emblazoned with the caricature of a jester, white and decked in reds, yellows and blues. The fool grinned up at him from his place on the paper and his owner smiled back, a smile filled with teeth and a greedy, ravenous ecstasy.
"Shall we play, Potter?"
"The Rewriters of Fate."