In the Shadows

A/N

Only ten chapters of this left, including the epilogue.

As always, enjoy, and chapter two of my latest venture When the Roses Bloom Again, has been uploaded here, and chapter four is now available on my website, as is this in its entirety.

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The fire he was seated in front of offered no warmth. There was no comfort to be had in wait, no assurances offered by the flames. They could do nothing to assuage his warring thoughts and could not soothe his anger. His foe was deadly and had proven that beyond doubt.

How Peverell had accessed Hogwarts, the Dark Lord knew not, but he had. Against all odds, he had not only entered the castle, but had taken it from him and then had the gall to mock him for the coup.

Lord Voldemort was under no illusion that what the elusive man had done had been purposeful, planned down to the finest detail, and the damned raven had been there to mock him too.

Thinking of the creature boiled his blood.

He did not know where this Peverell had come from, why he had targeted his followers and what his goal was, but he would not achieve it.

The Dark Lord would personally see to that.

He would make an example of the man, reiterate to those that were looking with hope towards the coward that it was he who was the superior wizard, that even one such as their new hero could not put an end to him.

There were none that could.

Still, the knowledge that he could not be killed brought little relief to the Dark Lord. There was something about this Peverell that did not sit right with him, something foreboding.

His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Greyback, Bellatrix and Lucius, the former of the three looking rather pleased with himself. The werewolf was positively salivating.

It could be that the full moon was near, and he was in anticipation of feeding, or he'd had a breakthrough that would please his master.

One could never be certain with Fenrir.

"My Lord," Lucius greeted him first. "I have continued with my efforts to discover all I can about the Peverells, and although it is not much, I believe it is important."

With a frown, the Dark Lord accepted the offered piece of yellowed parchment that had seemingly been torn from an old tome and began reading.

The Peverells

'Flee from those with eyes of white.'

This was written in a diary of one of my forefathers who was not a man of weakened spine nor heart. His feats of magic are celebrated, his accolades of war and battle still within our vault and his weapons still coated in the blood of his enemies.

Little is known of the Peverells, a family of intrigue when they yet roamed these lands and even more so that they no longer do, but what of them?

It is said they have the power to call upon the dead to aide them, that they wield magic that us mortals cannot hope to understand. They are reavers of souls, harvesting them for the master that seeks them.

Death is this master, the shadowy figure that looms over us all. It is said the Peverells were blessed by him, that they serve only him. They convene with him.

'DEATH!' is the call of their companions and it is said that should it be uttered in your direction, that the end is nigh. Your soul will become theirs.

The Dark Lord frowned at the parchment for a moment before laughing, the ridiculousness of what he had read proving to be a source of amusement.

"He is just a man, Lucius, nothing more. Not an omen of death and no threat to me."

How could he be? This man claiming to be a Peverell could not hope to claim his soul, not when there were so many pieces to it.

"I just thought you should know what I found, my lord," Lucius replied.

Voldemort offered the man a grateful nod to placate him. Seeing a grown man sulk was most unbecoming, and he had no time to deal with such frivolities.

"Fenrir?" he acknowledged, seeing the creature wished to speak.

"His scent is strong," the werewolf said simply. "What shall we do?"

"Do as you wish, but I want him alive. If he is missing a limb or two, so be it."

The werewolf grinned, his lips pulled tightly over his stained teeth.

"And me, my lord?" Bellatrix interjected.

"Unless you wish to be caught up in a frenzied pack of wolves, I would have you by my side to greet our guest when he arrives," Voldemort answered.

Bellatrix's nose wrinkled in distaste at the thought of the creatures as she nodded.

"Of course, my lord."

"Excellent. Fenrir, remember what I said. Keep your pack in line and bring him to me alive."

"I know," the man growled irritably. "You will have him."

"Then be on your way."

The werewolf nodded and stalked purposely from the room.

The Dark Lord leaned back in his chair and merely waited. He was looking forward to greeting the broken form of this Lord Peverell and would take much joy in punishing him.

His hand twitched towards his wand in anticipation, but he curbed the urge.

He would have the man at his mercy soon enough.

(Break)

He had barely walked through the kitchen door of Grimmauld Place when he was pulled into the strong embrace of his godfather. The man wan emotional, unable to form a sentence and Harry chuckled as he returned the gesture.

"Better?" he asked when Sirius composed himself.

The man nodded and gave him an apologetic smile.

"Was it really him? Did you get the rat?"

"I did, and he suffered before he died," Harry confirmed, his cut and bruised knuckles standing testament to the statement.

He hadn't healed them. He wanted to feel the full effect of the beating he had given to Wormtail until the marks faded of their own accord.

"Good," Sirius declared as Remus nodded his agreement from behind the man.

"Bloody hell, Potter," Moody huffed. "When you asked about the school, I didn't expect you to take it back like that. Well done, lad. I bet that pissed the bastard off."

"It did," Harry replied. "He's not happy."

Moody grunted as Hermione stood in front of Harry, evidently torn by the urge to hug him or chastise him. She settled for the former and shook her head.

"Have you gone insane over the past few years?" she sighed. "I would have come with you."

"You wanted to watch me kill a bunch of murdering shits?" Harry returned.

Hermione frowned.

"No, I don't think so," she conceded.

Harry chuckled at the grimace that adorned her features.

"Killing isn't exactly your thing, Hermione."

"And it's yours?"

"When it has to be," Harry muttered. "You can't win a war without it."

Hermione gave him a sad smile.

"Too right, lad," Moody agreed, "but you need to watch yourself. A pack of werewolves passed through the square this morning. Voldemort has sent them to look for you."

"I know," Harry shrugged. "They're taking their time about it, but they'll catch up with me soon enough."

"I suppose you have a plan to deal with them?"

Harry nodded.

"They'll die and I'll give Remus Greyback's head."

The werewolf was taken aback by the candid reply, and he snorted.

"What would I do with that?" he asked.

"You can use it as a toilet for all I care," Harry suggested, "or to give it a whack whenever you're in a bad mood. I don't know, Remus, do whatever you like with it."

"It's not exactly a gift I was expecting," the werewolf replied. "Why don't you keep it? I'd prefer a book."

"Suit yourself," Harry chuckled. "I'll send it to Voldemort. Maybe he can have Greyback kiss his arse one more time."

"Harry!" Hermione scolded, "when did you become so crass?"

"About the time I had to go on the run from a bunch of nutters that want to kill me," he answered. "Is Buckbeak still here?" he asked, changing the subject.

"He's still in the attic," Sirius sighed. "We tried to set him free, but he keeps coming back. I think he likes it up there. He comes and goes as he pleases."

"Haven't the muggles noticed?"

Sirius shrugged.

"Things like that don't matter anymore. Do you think Voldemort cares about that stuff?"

Harry shook his head.

"No, I wouldn't have thought so."

"I can take you to see him if you'd like?" Hermione offered.

Harry suspected that it was done under the guise of speaking to him alone, and he would not deny her. It was not as though they would have many more opportunities to do so. The thought saddened him, but life had become what it had.

He did not belong here anymore, and she did not belong in his world.

"Why not," he replied, waving to the others as he followed the girl up the several flights of stairs to the attic.

Seeing the Hippogriff again brought back memories of the night that he and Hermione had saved Sirius from being taken into Ministry custody and he smiled as he bowed to the creature that had stood at his entry.

When the beast followed suit, Harry patted the feathers on the side of Buckbeak's neck.

"How are you doing boy?" he whispered.

For having spent what was likely several years in the attic, he looked healthy and certainly seemed comfortable with being here.

"What happened to Hagrid?" Harry asked Hermione.

The woman shook her head.

"Nobody knows," she answered. "We think he was killed but we have no proof."

Harry nodded his understanding.

To Tom and the Death Eaters, the half-giant was no one of import and they would not have made a song and dance about his demise. They probably threw him in the forbidden forest to rot and forgot all about him.

"Where did you go?" he asked.

Hermione released a deep breath.

"I went and stayed with Viktor for a while. When he heard about what was happening here, he wrote to me and asked me to leave," she explained. "I shouldn't have. I should have been…"

"Yes, you should," Harry interjected. "What choice did you have? If you would have stayed, they would have found you just to get to me. You did the right thing."

"It doesn't feel like it," Hermione murmured. "Look what happened to you."

"It was hard being on the run," Harry admitted. "Every other week they would find me, and I would have to find a way to escape. There were times that I wondered what the point was in fighting anymore. I wasn't ever going to kill him as I was, but it all worked out in the end."

Hermione nodded.

"This new home of yours, what's it like?" she asked curiously.

"It's just like here for the most part," Harry answered, "but it's 1977."

"1977?" Hermione gasped. "That means your parents…"

"Are there," Harry confirmed, "but they're younger than me. Funnily enough, I was their Defence Professor for a year."

Hermione shook her head in disbelief before her features fell.

"Are you happy there?"

Harry nodded.

"There are things here that I will always miss, but yes, I'm happy."

"Then I'm happy for you," Hermione replied somewhat sincerely. "I'd thought you'd died, Harry. Knowing I didn't say goodbye to you was the worst feeling I've ever felt."

"I'm here now," he comforted, "still dead here, but this is something."

"It is," Hermione agreed, "but you have to go back."

"I do," Harry sighed. "I have my daughter waiting for me."

"And your wife," Hermione pointed out.

"She'll be there too," Harry confirmed with a smile.

He would not be leaving this place without Narcissa.

"Who is she?" Hermione asked.

Harry snorted as he shook his head.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me. Out of all the farfetched things we have seen and done, it wouldn't be who your wife is that I wouldn't believe."

Harry nodded thoughtfully.

If anyone would understand, it would be the girl stood expectantly in front of him.

"Who would be the person you think I'd be the least likely to marry?" he questioned.

Hermione frowned for a moment before shrugging.

"Probably a Death Eater," she mused aloud, "but even you're not so dense to marry Bellatrix Lestrange."

"Oi, I'm not dense!"

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him.

"You thought it was a good idea to kiss Cho when she was grieving for Cedric."

Harry grimaced at the memory.

"Not my best idea," he conceded, "but no, I didn't marry Bellatrix. You're not far off though."

Hermione frowned once more.

"I can't think of any other female Death Eater," she mumbled. "I mean, there's Alecto Carrow."

Harry shook his head firmly.

"Definitely not," he denied.

"Then I have no idea," Hermione sighed.

Harry smirked at the woman, readying himself to be amused by her reaction.

"I married Narcissa Black."

Silence followed his statement and he waited for the realisation to set in. When it did, Hermione's mouth fell agape, and she stared at him in disbelief.

"You married Malfoy's mother?" she hissed. "How did that even happen?"

"It's a long story," Harry chuckled, "but she isn't Malfoy's mother. She was my healer when I arrived, and everything just happened from there. We fell in love, got married and had Helena."

Hermione shook her head.

"There's more to it than that," she accused. "Things like that don't just happen to you, Harry."

"There is," he sighed, "but it's complicated. All you need to know is that I am happy. She makes me happy."

Hermione gave him an understanding smile before snorting.

"Let me see the picture of your daughter," she demanded.

"I'll do you one better," Harry offered as he removed a photo of himself, Narcissa and Helena that had been taken only a few weeks prior and handed it to her.

"You do look happy," Hermione said sincerely, "and your daughter looks just like her."

"She does," Harry agreed.

"How did Sirius not see the resemblance?"

"Because Sirius didn't have much to do with her," Harry explained. "She's older. He's only seventeen where we live."

"Fair enough," Hermione replied. "What's he like?"

"Exactly as you'd expect him to be," Harry huffed. "You thought you, me and Ron got into trouble at Hogwarts. My father, him and Remus are in detention every other day for something."

Hermione giggled.

"I bet they didn't rescue a wanted criminal from the astronomy tower."

"No, but they are worse than Fred and George. Ron would have gone mental if the twins were half as bad."

Hermione nodded soberly at the mention of the younger redhead.

"I still miss him," she muttered. "He was a pain at times, but it's not the same without him."

"It's not," Harry agreed.

"I never really got over what happened at the wedding. I still can't get my head around what he did."

"He did the same thing I would have if I was in his position," Harry replied.

"It doesn't make me feel better about it," Hermione choked.

"Well, you could always ask him yourself, or get to say goodbye to him at least."

"Don't be stupid, Harry," Hermione huffed. "Even magic can't bring him back."

"Not the way he was, no," Harry replied, "but I can bring him back if he answers a summons."

Hermione frowned sceptically.

"You can do that?"

Harry nodded.

"I can."

Hermione continued to eye him questioningly before shaking her head in denial.

"No, I wouldn't even know what to say to him."

"Did you ever?"

She gave him a look of exasperation.

"This is a one-time opportunity for us both," Harry explained. "I can't bring him back where I am because he is not of that world. If you say no then we won't do it, but I don't want you to have any regrets. This chance won't come again."

Hermione pondered it for a few moments before nodding.

"Okay," she agreed. "If you can do it, I'd like to see him."

Harry gave her a look of encouragement and closed his eyes, his own nervousness at seeing the friend that passed on so long-ago setting in.

After only a few minutes of concentrating, he found the link to Ron and opened a connection between them.

It brought a smile to his face that there was no hesitation, and as he felt the presence of the redhead, he opened his eyes.

"He's coming," he confirmed.

Hermione gasped as the form coalesced in front of her, the boy appearing as he had been when he died.

It was an odd feeling for Harry who now stood taller than the gangly boy. Both he and Hermione were approaching their mid-twenties and here was Ron, still not a day older than seventeen.

"You got old," the Weasley commented.

Hermione gave a watery chuckle, eliciting a grin from the boy.

"Hello, Hermione," he greeted her as though they had been apart only a few hours.

"Ronald Billius Weasley," she choked. "You have to be the biggest prat I have ever met in my life."

Ron turned to Harry, aghast by the telling off he was receiving. Harry could only shrug.

Some things truly did never change.

"Blimey, this is what I get for dying for you."

"I didn't want you to die for me!"

Ron deflated, though he remained unapologetic.

"Rather me than you," he commented. "I wasn't going to let that happen."

Hermione could only shake her head as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed.

"You don't have to apologise, Hermione. I jumped in front of that curse, and I'd do it again. That's what friends do, isn't it?"

"Only idiots," Hermione snorted, "and you're the stupidest boy I've met."

"Just as charming as ever," Ron sighed. "Anyway, why did you bring me back?"

"We just…"

"Wanted closure," Harry cut in. "We didn't get to say goodbye."

Ron smiled at them both.

"It's not really goodbye, is it? You'll be here with me one day."

Hermione nodded.

"What's it like?" she asked.

Ron shrugged.

"It's not really any different to being there," he replied. "I get to play Quidditch whenever I want and eat, but I do miss you both. That doesn't mean you're allowed to die though."

"Food and Quidditch, Ronald?" Hermione huffed.

"It passes the time," the redhead returned. "There's no Malfoy to deal with, so I have no complaints. Hold on, I think I'm being called back."

"It's alright, Ron, you go," Hermione urged. "I'm just glad I got to see you."

"Me too," Ron agreed, "and you'll see me again. Just not until it's the right time, yeah?"

Hermione nodded.

"And you, Harry," Ron added. "Not until you're an even older man than you are now."

"Bugger off," Harry chuckled. "I'm twenty-three."

"Really? Well, I'll see you when you're much older. If you have a son, name him after me."

"No chance," Harry returned with a grin.

"Well, it was worth a try," Ron sighed good-naturedly. "See you later."

With his parting words given, Ron was gone and the two of them stared at the spot he occupied.

"Do you feel better?" Harry asked.

"Not really, but at least he's happy."

"Quidditch and food, what more could the git want?"

Hermione swatted him playfully on the shoulder as she laughed.

"I suppose it will be just me here then," she sighed sadly.

"It will, but you'll be okay," Harry assured her. "When the war is over, you can do whatever you want."

Hermione nodded.

"Viktor asked me to marry him before I left," she revealed.

"And what did you say?" Harry questioned, slightly surprised the surly Bulgarian had it in him.

"Nothing really," Hermione answered. "I said that if I live, I'll go back and give him my answer."

"And he accepted that?"

"He did, but I had to stop him from coming. The Bulgarians would not appreciate it if he left to fight a war that wasn't his."

"No, they wouldn't. Do you love him?"

Hermione nodded shyly.

"I do."

"Then take it from me when I say you shouldn't deprive yourself of what you want. I almost missed my chance, and it would have been the biggest mistake of my life."

Hermione eyed him for a moment and swallowed deeply.

"You really love her, don't you?"

"More than I could ever show her," Harry answered sincerely. "You should go to him, Hermione. There's nothing for you to do here and I'd rather not lose anyone else if I can help it. Find some happiness, you deserve it."

"But the war…"

"Will be over in the coming days. By all means, come and visit with Viktor or even convince him to live here if you must, but don't make me bury another friend. Please, go and live your life, that is the only thing I want for you."

Hermione huffed as she glared at him.

"You know, it used to be me that told you what to do."

"I know," Harry snorted, "but now it's my turn."

Hermione shook her head exasperatedly.

"I won't see you again, will I?"

"No, Hermione. I found my home and that is with my wife and daughter. You should find yours too."

"I will," she promised, wrapping her arms around Harry's shoulder.

He held her. For how long, he knew not, but when she pulled away her eyes were once more full of tears and she removed a photo of them both and Ron from her pocket.

"You were never good at keeping things like this," she mumbled. "Keep this one safe."

Harry nodded as he took it.

The picture had been taken during their sixth year, sometime during the celebrations after Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup. The three of them were smiling, uninhibited by what was happening outside of the castle.

"Here," he offered, handing her the picture of himself, Narcissa, and Helena. "Something to look at if you ever wonder if I'm happy," he explained.

"I can't accept that, Harry."

Harry waved her off.

"You can and will," he insisted. "I have lots of pictures at home and I will be taking many more. I'd like you to have it."

Hesitantly she accepted it and placed it in the pocket the photo Harry now possessed had occupied.

"This is really it?"

Harry nodded.

"An end and a beginning."

"I wish it didn't have to be both," Hermione said sadly.

"It is the hand that fate has dealt. She's a cruel mistress but she tends to get her way."

Hermione looked at him confusedly for a moment.

"You've changed, Harry. Not in a bad way, but you're different. I would have liked to have gotten to know you better."

"Then I wouldn't be the same idiot you used to boss around at school," Harry pointed out. "I will always remember this moment, but it will be the bushy-haired know-it-all I'll always think of you as."

"And it will be the stubborn, short-tempered and sweet boy that I will remember."

Harry smiled and shook his head.

"Then you'd best get remembering him."

Hermione nodded and gave him a final hug. She pressed her lips against his cheek before making her way to the door.

"Thank you for being my friend, Harry Potter."

With that, she was gone, and Harry wished her nothing but the same happiness he had found.

"Always," he whispered as he felt a disturbance within himself.

The werewolves would be arriving where he had placed his tent imminently.

Readying himself for the inevitable confrontation, he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

(Break)

Though she was crying, she was smiling through the tears, these ones being a mix of happiness and longing for the answers to the many questions she had. She remembered Bella's wedding and the events of the day had not unfolded the way she had seen as she slept.

Her engagement to Lucius had been announced, and that was where her career as a healer ended and her stint in the Malfoy home began.

Often, she found herself taking to drinking wine to break up the monotony of the day, or to merely quell any hope she dared feel. She couldn't be sure which. The meaning of the habit had been lost on her long ago.

But things had been different in her dream.

The announcement had gone ahead but she had not been relegated to the position of housewife. No, her grandfather had voided any intention her father and Abraxus Malfoy had, announcing her wedding to Harry Peverell instead.

The thought of Harry staring Lucius down brought another smile to her lips.

Harry couldn't be any more different to her husband. He was a strong man, brave and did what was right. Lucius was a coward with an overinflated sense of self-importance, and she could not help but think how much happier she would have been married to Harry.

Oddly, a part of her almost screamed that she would be ecstatic, would have lived a life full of love and laughter, and Narcissa once again found herself longing for the man she had not even met.

She had given up questioning what was happening to her. Something was either amiss or she was being gifted these glimpses into a life that was not meant to be.

If the latter was a punishment, she failed to see it as such. This was the most she had felt for anyone in her life, and if this was all she would be allowed, she would grasp it with both hands.

Narcissa snorted at how pathetic her own thoughts sounded. She was undoubtedly falling in love with a man she had only dreamed of and was happy to settle for it.

It only spoke volumes of how unfulfilling her life had been or how wonderful one with Harry would've proven to be, but when she pondered it, she found she didn't care.

That one part of her that unequivocally yearned for the Peverell lord would not be stifled, the very same part that could almost feel him reaching for her.

Whatever within her that was basking in the feelings she was developing for Harry took a sudden turn, filling her with an unexplainable dread and fury as Bella sauntered into the room looking very pleased with herself.

Bellatrix had always been rather unpredictable, something that led to her being utterly unhinged as she was now. She had never been such a way with Narcissa, but everything about her sister screamed of danger, but she did not fear her.

The same thing that longed for the Lord Peverell urged Narcissa to reach for her wand, but she ignored it and Bella looked at her speculatively.

"You're as uptight as ever," she commented as she lounged across the sofa and helped herself to some grapes from the fruit bowl.

Narcissa allowed the comment to go over her head. She was not in the mood to trade barbs with her sister. In truth, she'd much rather Bella hadn't come. She had intended to return to bed soon.

"Suit yourself," Bellatrix huffed. "I won't be staying long, I just wanted to check in on my favourite sister."

"That's not saying much," Narcissa returned dryly. "You've not spoken to Andi for almost thirty-years."

"And you have?" Bellatrix questioned accusingly.

"Of course not," Narcissa sighed. "What do you want Bella?"

The woman shrugged.

"I'm just killing some time before our lord has need of me. I suppose Lucius has told you about this Peverell."

"He's mentioned it," Narcissa replied guardedly.

"Well, the Dark Lord will have him at his mercy tonight. Greyback and his pack are closing in on him."

Narcissa had her doubts that Harry would allow himself to be trapped by the werewolves. Everything she knew of him so far suggested he would expect such a thing and would prepare accordingly.

Still, she found herself worrying for him and felt the urge to send a warning, though there was nothing she could do.

"Shouldn't you be waiting for his arrival then?" she questioned.

Bellatrix nodded.

"I should be," she agreed as she stood, popping another grape in her mouth as she skipped from the room.

When she was gone, Narcissa found herself at a loss as to what she could do. She didn't know where Harry was, but perhaps all was not lost.

"Miffy?" she called.

"Yes, Mistress," the elf replied as she arrived with a gentle pop.

"Can you find Lord Peverell and warn him?"

Miffy frowned before vanishing, returning to the same spot only a few seconds later.

"Miffy can't mistress. The magics there are dangerous."

"For who?"

"Everyone, Mistress. Miffy does not want to go closer."

Narcissa frowned but nodded her understanding.

Such magic would not be created by a lusting pack of werewolves. That meant that Harry was expecting trouble and had indeed prepared for the eventuality.

That meant Narcissa would have to wait for news to trickle in as to what happened.

As such, she turned on the radio and hoped something would be forthcoming soon.

(Break)

It had been some time that Harry had found himself simply looking out towards the horizon and thinking about life. The last time he had done so, he had been living in his tent and had not long arrived in what had become his home.

How things had changed since he had last taken a moment like this.

He was now married, had a daughter and was playing Quidditch professionally; a far cry from the man that had spent years on the run, waiting for the day he would no longer escape the demons that plagued him.

Now, he was that demon, Voldemort and his ilk just hadn't seemingly learnt that yet, but they would. He could almost smell the approaching pack of wolves.

They were close, but not to the end of the chase they believed they were the pursuers in. They were close to being snatched up by the jaws of a predator in wait, a foe that they could not comprehend through the haze of barbarism that skewed their vision.

"I know," Harry mumbled to Olin as the thickets of trees behind them were disturbed by the heavy footfalls and snarling of beasts approaching.

The werewolves; as predictable as ever.

He turned to face them as the first of the pack emerged from the forest, a large male littered with scars who howled excitedly, a gesture matched by those that followed him.

"Well, let's get this over with, shall we?" Harry questioned.

The alpha howled once more, his neck stretching towards the sky before he leapt forward, only to skid across the wet sand as he missed the target.

The creature jumped nimbly back to his feet in search of Harry, but he was nowhere to be found, and before he could search any further, the trees sprang into life and began attacking the pack, eliciting yelps of surprise and fury.

Some were simply throttled grasping branches, others sent sprawling to the ground by flailing limbs. Those that could fled to the beach to what they believed was safety.

Instead of safety, the found themselves amongst a raging inferno that singed their fur and seared the flesh beneath.

More yelps sounded, these ones agonised as they fought to escape the fiery confines.

Many did, though not without first being kissed by the flames. The smell of burnt hair and skin was strong as the creatures whimpered pathetically, unused to and disliking that they were no longer those that hunted.

It was them that was at the mercy of another.

Harry didn't know how well werewolves could swim, but it mattered not. He had no intention of drowning them nor allowing them to escape. They would perish where they stood.

From his vantage point, his wand moved in intricate patterns as he focused and manipulated the elements around him.

The flames were the first things to be noticeably affected as they parted and formed a circle around the dead and still writhing wolves that had been trapped within them, boxing in those that had made it to where the sand met the sea.

With another wand motion, the flames coalesced into three enormous figures wielding scythes, and as the werewolves turned towards the sea, they were greeted by the sight of another that had formed from the crashing waves.

There was nowhere for them to run or hide, and what ensued could be described as nothing less than a slaughter.

The beasts could not fight back. To the figures that swung their weapons indiscriminately, the wolves were the sheep, trapped within the confines of a paddock and easy pickings for a predator.

With no escape possible, they fell in droves until only a few, singed and exhausted creatures remained, and Harry put an end to the efforts of his creations before appearing in front of them.

They offered little resistance as he dealt the final blows, the baleful glare of Fenrir Greyback a bitter but hopeless one.

Harry did not even give him the chance to lunge. Gripping the werewolf's neck with a tendril of magic, the bones were snapped, and the sinewy flesh split as the head was separated from the body.

After this, Tom could ignore him no longer.

"Olin," he called.

The raven had busied himself by feasting on the eyes of one of the lifeless creatures but answered his call by landing on Harry's shoulder.

"Take this to him. Show him what awaits when he decides to seek me out himself."

"DEATH!" Olin squawked.

"Death, old friend," Harry agreed.

(Break)

The Dark Lord paced irritably as he waited for word from Greyback, or better yet, his arrival with the Lord Peverell in his custody. There werewolf had assured him hours ago that they were closing in on the man and that they would reach him shortly.

There had been only silence since.

Bellatrix was, as ever, less patient than him, offering scolding comments and cursing the wolfish man under her breath.

"Surely it does not take this long to bring in one man!" she growled, finally snapping as she stalked towards the window and peered through it. "I even gave him a portkey."

The Dark Lord ignored the raving of the woman. He had grown used to it over the years, but it did not make it any less irksome.

Azkaban had changed her. She was even more delusional than had been previously, even quicker to temper and lacked rationality in almost all things. Were she not so devoted and loyal to him, he would have put her down like a rabid dog.

Even years under the effects of the Dementors had not been able to undo all the work he put into moulding her into the perfect follower.

He just wished she would stop lusting after him. He had made his stance clear, but she would not be deterred. She wished him to father her a child, but he had no need of such a thing.

Besides, the thought of any child reared by Bellatrix gave even the Dark Lord concerns. The child would likely be as unstable as her, and with the power he wielded, it could not be allowed.

No, there would be no child for the woman, despite the incessant hints she gave.

"Something is coming," she whispered, shrieking and throwing herself to the ground as the window broke and a severed head tumbled across the floor.

The damned raven followed looking very pleased with itself.

"DEATH!" it mocked.

Lord Voldemort stared at the creature with a burning hate, his arms trembling, and fists clenched.

"He killed them all, my lord," Bellatrix commented.

"I can see that!" the Dark Lord growled. "I will have him here. Go and fetch the others and send for the Dementors."

"My Lord, do you not think he will expect that? You should let me go alone, I will bring him to you."

Voldemort shook his head.

"No, he has proven to be quite the foe. Even when confronted with the might of a pack, he has triumphed. I will find him and kill him myself."

As though the raven begged to differ, it took flight with a squawk and flew towards Bellatrix.

The spell the Dark Lord fired in its direction did nothing to divert the creature, and it succeeded in seizing the woman by her hair and the two of them vanished in a puff of smoke.

Unleashing a guttural roar, the entirety of the wall was demolished with a single spell and Voldemort took a few calming breaths as he tried to find a magical trace to follow.

There was none, and all he could do was stew in his rage, wondering where the raven had taken Bellatrix.

It would be nowhere good, and he expected that her head would also arrive in the minutes or hours to come.

She would not go down without a fight, but for the first time since he had met the woman, he was not confident this was one she would win.

Peverell was unpredictable and dangerous, and not a man he would underestimate any longer.

(Break)

Bellatrix felt herself slammed hard into the wet ground, the smell of burnt flesh and the crackling of flames filling her senses. She prided herself on having developed a strong stomach for gore, bodily fluids and such, but this was overwhelming.

The urge to vomit only grew when she realised she had been unceremoniously deposited into a pool of blood and faeces, a slurry of human remains that left her looking as undignified as possible.

"You filthy mudblood!" she shrieked, catching sight of a man in dark robes, his white eyes narrowed in fury at the sight of her.

He did not balk at the slur, his murderous gaze unwavering as he levelled his wand at her.

Bellatrix was not quick enough to avoid the Cruciatus Curse sent her way and writhed in agony as the spell ripped through bone and muscle, leaving her a panting wreck when it was eventually lifted.

She did not know how long she was held under it, but her body was spasming and her temples throbbed.

Still, she was not going to allow him to break her.

"You have nothing…on the… Dark Lord," she mocked.

Again, the man remained unmoved.

"Coward," Bellatrix huffed.

The man chuckled darkly.

"You're in no position to call anyone a coward," he chided. "You and yours attack defenceless people in the night."

Bellatrix laughed as she pushed herself up on shaky legs.

"We have a purpose. We have shaped this world," she winced. "What is yours?"

The man seemed to think the question over for a moment before nodding thoughtfully.

"I'm going to kill you, your master and save my wife."

Bellatrix's nostrils flared as she reached for her wand, only to see it in the grasp of the man who had cursed her.

"I'll return it to you, and we will fight," he assured her, "but you will be fetching something for me first."

She begged to differ and was ready to voice her defiance but suddenly felt a presence invade her mind. It was cold, unyielding and overwhelmed her quickly.

She fought back as best she could, but she had never recovered from her years under the torture of the Dementors. Her mind was not as strong as it had once been and the intruding magic took advantage of her inability to defend herself as she once would have.

Her efforts were for nought and as her vision faded, she found herself faced with nothing but the image of a raven, its sight boring into her own.

Try as she might, she could not avert her eyes and she felt helpless to fight back any more than she had.

She was at the mercy of the bird, and even her ability with a wand could do nothing to save her.

(Break)

"Take her," Harry instructed, following Olin as he vanished Bellatrix in a puff of smoke.

He arrived in a very different Diagon Alley than he had become accustomed to, this one awash with boarded-up up shops and very few people making their way through, their heads down and minding their own business.

Harry took Bellatrix by the forearm and dragged her into a side street next to Gringotts.

"Go straight to the vault and bring me the cup," he instructed.

The woman said nothing but turned and made her way towards the bank leaving a very uncertain Harry in her wake.

He trusted Olin, the raven having never let him down before, but this was perhaps the most important task the bird would have to undertake. Harry needed the cup, and he would much rather not have to navigate the security system of Gringotts.

The lower vaults were said to house all manner of creatures and fail-safes, dragons included. He'd outflown one dragon during his life and he did not relish the notion of having to do it again.

Dumbledore may have been convinced that the cloak could serve him well on this venture, but it was not a risk Harry was willing to take.

If something were to go amiss and he found himself trapped in the bowels where Goblin Law prevailed, all would be lost. His efforts here would have been for nought and Narcissa would be lost to him.

That, he could not allow and he believed that having Bella retrieve the cup on his behalf was the safest option.

The issue he had faced was subduing her, and thanks once more to Olin, that had all but resolved itself.

Still, she would die when her task was complete, and then the only remaining foe that he was obligated to destroy was Voldemort.

It sounded much simpler in his mind than he knew it would be. He believed he could defeat Tom, the one here having destroyed his body and soul with magics that should not be delved into, yet he was still an exceedingly dangerous man and any ill-effects from the perversion of the latter would be minimal.

Harry hoped that it would be enough.

Tom Riddle was not a singularly minded werewolf that lacked logic, nor was he like those that followed him. He was a power unto himself, and undoubtedly the most gifted wizard Harry had come across.

The thought left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth, but there was no denying the truth. Voldemort had gone far beyond what most would believe the limit of magical capability was, but so had Harry.

The younger man may not have the years dedicated to the craft the Dark Lord did, but he had something else; magic that Tom could not wield nor hope to understand.

But was it enough?

Harry shrugged uncertainly.

Only time would tell, but time was something he was running short of. The confrontation would happen soon, but before he could call it the final meeting between himself and the enemy that had stalked him from the shadows throughout his life, Harry needed the final Horcrux.

(Break)

She could only look upon the raven who had closed its eyes. Bellatrix knew not what the bird was up to, but he was no longer paying any attention to her. It was in deep concentration, and she couldn't be certain how long she stared at it, willing her own mind to fight back against the intrusion.

And then she saw it. It was only the slightest slip, but it was unmistakable. The control the raven had over her slipped, the creature visibly wincing from the effort to keep her subdued.

Already lost as to what she could do, she continued staring, her glare boring into the closed eyes of the bird.

He seemingly became aware of what she was doing and they opened them, giving her glimpse into what it was he was seeing.

The sound of rattling tracks and the sight of passing vaults invaded her senses.

He had passed the first line of defence of the bank and would be in the lower levels in only a minute at most.

What did this Peverell want from within them?

Bellatrix did not know but she would do all she could to prevent him obtaining it.

The raven's eyes closed once more and she willed them to open, to give her another insight into why she had been brought here.

When he complied a few moments later, she became privy to what the man sought, and her anger flared.

The cup she saw being held in her own hand was the very same one that had been gifted to her by the Dark Lord for safe keeping. He hadn't explained why it was such an important piece, but she would not allow them to take it.

It was not theirs.

Her efforts that had been so futile previously were doubled and the bird winced once more as she fought against the hold it had over her. She continued doing so, catching further flashes of what was happening to her.

They were back in the cart, heading upwards this time…they were walking across the greeting area of the bank…they were back in the alley walking towards Peverell who was waiting for them…

Bellatrix released a screech of fury as the cup was consumed by accursed flames and the presence of the raven was forced from her mind as she retaliated, the killing curse leaving her wand as though it was second nature.

Peverell was quick, his defence coming even before she uttered the second syllable of the first word and her spell splashed harmlessly against the slab of concrete he had torn from the pavement.

"BASTARD!" Bellatrix seethed, following up with a trio of spells she had perfected when she was a teen.

Peverell knew nothing of the Black magic, and he would suffer the worst of it.

Her eyes widened as he blocked the spells with a shield she had only seen used by other members of her birth family, one that had been created by an ancestor of hers who feared being murdered by his own kin.

"HOW?" she demanded.

Peverell said nothing but circled her and the two faced off.

Those within the alley were frozen in place, looking on as the unknown man and the woman they feared began trading spells, the latter seeming less and less terrifying with each passing moment.

This Peverell that those on the radio spoke of was not just a phantom in the night that they struggled to believe was real. He was before them now, doing just as the rumours had said.

He was taking the fight to the Dark Lord and his followers. Not only that, Peverell was winning.

Back and forth they went, spell after spell being cast until the man roared and an icy chill fell over the alley as Bellatrix was sent sprawling across, her wand bouncing across the cobbled street.

Harry was breathing heavily, not so much from the exertion but from the ice pumping through his veins.

For days he had fantasised about the moment he would have Bellatrix at his mercy, and now that it had come, he did not know where to begin.

Before he could cast another spell, however, the duel between the two was intruded upon by a dozen or so men in red robes posing as aurors.

"YOU'RE UNDER ARREST!" one of them screamed.

Harry paid the man no mind as he smirked, a dark green spell leaving the tip of his wand before he vanished into thin air.

He would not get to witness and enjoy her demise the way he envisioned, but took pleasure in knowing that the woman's final moments would be in suffering.

Although Harry would not witness the aftermath, those within the alley did, and one person in particular, who had been peddling his goods, looked on as the aurors attempted to counter Peverell's curse.

Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, and the man watched as Lestrange succumbed to the effects, clawing desperately at her face and ears before falling limp, her features unrecognisable through the self-inflicted wounds.

The aurors seemed to be at a loss as to what to do but turned their attention to the crowd.

"LEAVE, NOW!" the one in charge demanded.

Mundungus Fletcher did not need telling twice, and with a wave of his wand, his trunk was packed and shrunk, and he charged towards the apparation point.

The Order would need to know about this.

(Break)

With the departure of Hermione earlier in the day, the mood within Grimmauld Place was rather subdued. The woman did not explain her reasoning and had merely informed them that she had made peace with her demons and would be leaving.

She hadn't seemed sadden or downtrodden by the sudden turn of events. On the contrary, although she was crying, she seemed happy and Sirius could only guess that she and Harry had talked through what was hanging over them.

He would miss the girl. She had a keen mind and was a brilliant witch, but she had somewhere else to be. She had nothing to remain in Britain for and Sirius was hopeful that at the very least, she would get the chance to live a life not dictated by the circumstances of war.

He was pulled from his thoughts as a loud thud sounded from outside the kitchen.

Someone had been tripped by the troll's foot, but a quick glance around the room told him that Tonks was sitting at the table.

"Who the bloody hell…?"

He was cut off and frowned as the door burst open and a breathless Fletcher arrived, his eyes wide and skin pale.

"'E bloody killed 'er," the dumpy man wheezed.

"What are you talking about, Dung?" one of the twins questioned.

"That Peverell bloke. 'E killed the Lestrange bird in the alley."

Sirius immediately shot to his feet.

"Bellatrix?" he questioned disbelievingly.

Fletcher nodded.

"Yeah, a bloody messy fing too."

"You wouldn't be lying to us, would you?" Moody growled.

"Course not!" Mundungus denied, affronted by the accusation. "Check for yourself if ya don't believe me."

"I'll go," Tonks volunteered, her features changing before she vanished from her chair with a gentle pop.

Those waiting for her return did so in silence, Fletcher's slowly steadying breathing the only sound to be heard. If Bellatrix was dead, that would be an enormous victory in the war.

When Tonks did reappear a few moments later, she too was pale, and merely nodded in response to the questioning looks she received.

A collective cheer erupted from the occupants of the house who began slapping one another on the back. It mattered not that it was none of them that had killed her. They would celebrate the death of Voldemort's most dangerous follower, nonetheless.

"Come on," George Weasley urged, "shouldn't we put out an announcement?"

Lee Jordan nodded.

The listeners would want to hear of this, and Lee had the most effective method of communicating the news to wizarding Britain.

(Break)

Narcissa was on the cusp of drifting off when the radio crackled into life, a loud and jubilant song pulling her from the edge of a dream-like state. She was irritated, having been looking forward to her next dream, but that feeling faded as the familiar voice began to speak excitedly.

"Tonight, listeners, I bring you the greatest of tidings. Forget Hogwarts being retaken, forget cowardly Heads of Departments shirking their responsibilities. The greatest news of all has reached us, hasn't it River?"

"It has indeed," the second voice replied. "We have been informed by an eyewitness that none other than Bellatrix Lestrange is dead!"

Narcissa froze as a fanfare blasted from the radio.

Bella was dead?

"She crossed wands with Lord Peverell in Diagon Alley and met her end. May she rest in hell for all she has done."

"Hear, Hear!"

The broadcast came to an end with another trumpeted fanfare and Narcissa slowly sat up in her bed, numbed by what she had heard.

Harry had killed Bellatrix.

A part of her wished to be furious with the man but another was even more joyous than the voices on the radio had been.

Bella had always been troubled, had thrown her lot in with the Dark Lord, but the thought of her sister dying was not something that had crossed Narcissa's mind in years.

Time and time again Bellatrix emerged from situations that should have been the end of her, but not this time.

She had finally met her match and had been killed.

"Good!" a part of her seemingly cheered.

Narcissa frowned at the conflicting feelings.

Why would she feel such a way about the death of her sister? Bella had never done anything to her, not anything that Narcissa would wish her dead for at least, or had she?

She shook her head.

No, she had not. Bellatrix was short-tempered, had often said hurtful things to Narcissa throughout their lives but she had not harmed her.

Still, she felt almost nothing for the loss of the woman. In fact, if she had to describe any emotion she was feeling it would be relief, and that did not quite sit right with her.

Why would she feel relieved that one of her older sisters was dead?

"Harry," she whispered.

It had to do with the Peverell situation she found herself caught up in. That was the only explanation Narcissa could come up with.

Had something happened in this other life she had gotten glimpses into to make her feel this way? Had Bella done something to her?

Narcissa needed to know and there was only one way she would find out.