The Way Home

A/N

Final Chapter of this arc. Harry will be heading home in the next.

Again, thank you all for continuing to read and review etc.

As always, do check out my other social platforms. All links are on my profile.

TBR

Whilst the nation quietly celebrated the demise of Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry did no such thing. He thought that he would feel a sense of elation from killing her, but the truth was, this Bellatrix had not murdered his wife. She had not been the one to challenge him in front of the Blacks, and she had not been the one he held a burning hatred for.

When he considered the woman., he realised that the two of them had barely encountered each other throughout his years on the run, perhaps twice at most.

Killing her turned out to be an empty gesture to himself, but it was a means to an end. If this did not provoke Voldemort into a confrontation, nothing would.

Still, he held on to the loathing for the woman. It fuelled his intent to kill her when he made it home.

"Are you alright, Harry?" Sirius questioned, breaking him from his thoughts.

"Fine," Harry answered.

Sirius looked at him sceptically for a moment and shrugged.

Was he fine?

Harry didn't know. He felt good for ridding Britain of the Dark Lord's most dangerous follower, but it was a hollow victory for him. Without Narcissa to show for all his efforts here, all of it was meaningless.

He needed to kill Tom, and he knew just what would spur the man into action.

"Lee, how about you let me use your radio for a bit," he requested.

The former Quidditch commentator looked at him questioningly before releasing a deep breath.

"Why have I got the feeling that you're going to do something stupid?"

"Because I am," Harry replied easily.

Lee shook his head as the Weasley twins adopted the look of mischief they wore when they knew something was afoot.

"We'll show you the way," George offered.

"Who are we to deny the country's sweetheart his request."

"So long as he let's us in on it."

"Of course," Fred agreed. "Come, let us show you our communications operation."

Harry grinned amusedly at the duo. Before following them and Lee Despite all they had endured, they had managed to cling on to the wit and sense of humour they were known for.

"This is the base of our efforts to upset the Death Eaters," George explained as they entered what had once been Ron's room within Grimmauld Place. "Here, we break the news that lift spirits, mock people if it is a slow day…"

"And provide music for the masses," Fred finished proudly. "Now, perhaps you would like to share just what it is you are up to, Mr Potter," he urged.

"Well," Harry began scratching his chin in thought, "a little mockery would be a good thing, some goading and some insults should do it too. Maybe a song to round it all off."

The twins nodded their approval.

"And who is it that we shall dedicate this to?" Lee pressed.

"Why waste time?" Harry sighed. "Let's send this directly to the Dark Lord. He can't have anyone questioning his bravery, can he?"

Lee shook his head.

"Rather you than me, mate, but it's all yours. I'll let one of these clowns do the introduction and then you can take over."

Harry nodded as Lee began readying the equipment.

Forget the death of Bellatrix, this was a good an idea as any to lure Tom out of the shadows.

His ego would not let him ignore such a move.

(Break)

Sleep had not come easy for Narcissa the previous night. The weight of her sister's death weighed heavily on her, not because she was as saddened by it as she expected, but because she did not mourn for her the way she thought she should.

If anything, Bellatrix not being around any longer felt as though a burden had been lifted off her shoulders, that Narcissa could breathe just that little more freely.

It was an odd thought. Bellatrix had never truly been a danger to her, so why was she so relieved?

She knew not, but she was, and it only added to the many other questions her warring emotions raised.

Still, she could not help but smile as she remembered the dream she'd had when she eventually did succumb to fatigue.

It had been her wedding day, but not the gawdy affair she had shared with Lucius. In this one, she had married Harry, the smile she wore during the ceremony unguarded, bright and sincere.

She remembered her mother teaching her how to fake a smile when giving her vows to Lucius, but those lessons were not needed here. With Harry, she couldn't imagine any woman being happier on their wedding day than she had been.

Well, as happy a dream could make someone.

Again, she had to remind herself that none of what she was seeing had come to pass. The empty and loveless home she had lived in for almost three decades was a stark reminder of that.

So why did she still yet cling to a strand of hope that these were more than dreams, that small part of her not allowing her to believe otherwise?

Narcissa prided herself on approaching things with a cool logic, but logic was not something she wanted to implement here. That very same part of her that held onto hope was not so easily dismissed, and the hope only grew as the radio crackled into life.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of wizarding Britain. Rapier here. Over the past years we have brought you news, music and laughter in these dark times, but tonight, we are bringing you something different."

"Indeed, we are Rapier," the second voice continued. "This very evening, we were contacted by none other than the man who has been making waves across the country over these past days and he wishes to speak with you…erm… do you have a codename?"

"There is no need for one," the new voice spoke, his tone cold and foreboding.

Narcissa felt a jolt of excitement overwhelm her. She knew that voice. It was the one she had been hearing in her dreams.

"Harry," she whispered, shuffling closer to the radio.

"I have no need of a moniker nor to hide from those I hunt. My name has been whispered by those who know that I am coming for them, and it is them I speak to first."

A moment of silence followed, but when the voice sounded again, it somehow sounded louder, and more threatening than before.

"To those of you that have allied themselves with the Dark Lord, I urge you to run. He cannot protect you from me, nothing can. I give you this one chance only to flee like the cowards you are, or you will die. Those you care for will die. Do not take my words lightly, you need only see what I have done. Where is Fenrir Greyback?

"He is dead," the voice of Rapier answered.

"As is his entire pack," Harry continued. "Bellatrix Lestrange is dead along with many other fools who felt safe hiding behind a white mask. There is nothing for you to gain but everything lose from standing by him. Take the chance I am giving you, do not answer his call."

"And what of the Dark Lord?" River questioned.

Another short silence followed as Harry considered his words, but when he did speak, there were assertive and uncompromising.

"As you always have, Tom, you lurk in the shadows. Let us not pretend you do not know who I am or that this day wasn't coming. I am everything you fear, everything that haunts your dreams and take your followers from you. You cannot escape Death, Tom Riddle, they will always have their due."

"DEATH!" a squawk followed punctuating the statement.

"Come, Tom, prove to everyone that you are what you proclaim to be. Meet with me and fate will decide which of us shall live. If you do not, I call you coward and I will find you regardless. You cannot flee from Death. You will find me where it all began on Halloween 1981. There it began, and there it shall end."

Narcissa felt a chill creep up her spine as the radio fell silent once more.

Harry was going to fight the Dark Lord. Why would he do such a thing?

She had witnessed first-hand what the man was capable of and attempting to stand against him was all but suicide. Only a fool would do something like that.

She shook her head as the message from the Peverell lord played over in her mind, frowning at a sudden realisation.

"Halloween, 1981," she murmured.

She, of course, knew the date well. It had been when the Dark Lord was thought to have fallen whilst attempting to kill Harry Potter. The boy had lived and the world had been at peace during the years that followed.

But if Peverell was referring to that…

Narcissa shook her head once more.

It was impossible. There was no conceivable way that Potter and Peverell were the same man, the one that she herself had married in her dreams during the 1970s. How was such a thing possible?

It wasn't, was it?

Her logical mind fought to prevail, but as much as she tried to deny her dreams, the emotions she was experiencing, she simply couldn't. Still, she clung to them like a lovesick fool, and it only served to bring her to tears.

Again, she questioned why this was happening to her, questioned what kind of magic she was experiencing to feel this way. If it were merely a series of dreams, dismissing them out of hand would be simple.

They were not so.

These were visions, glimpses of another life that were somehow spilling into the one that she had lived.

When would it end, and what did it all mean?

Now more than it had over the prior days, the questions burned, and she found herself yearning for the truth of the matter, if only it would stop teasing her with the snatched moments of a time and place that she was happier.

Composing herself as best she could, she pondered what it could all mean, but to no avail. No answers were forthcoming, and no conclusions drawn.

Narcissa Malfoy would merely have to wait for this all to come to an end of its own accord.

There was little else she could do until Harry had fought the Dark Lord, something she was apprehensive about.

If he were to fall, she may never get the answers she sought, but if he were to triumph, she knew that she would learn the truth however, it was likely that the truth would leave her more conflicted and torn than she already felt.

(Break)

For the first time in his life, the Dark Lord felt a sense of loss. It wasn't that he cared about Bellatrix beyond her role as his most loyal and devout follower, but more for the principal of her being taken. He supposed he had developed a fondness of sorts for her over the decades he had come to know her, but it was not this that fuelled his current feelings.

No, it was only temerity Peverell had shown in doing so.

She had suffered, there was no doubt of that, the spell used to rob Bella of her life one she herself had used often and bragged of. It was a rather unpleasant way to meet one's end. The victim would experience severe mental and physical trauma, spurring them into a frenzied mutilation of themselves.

The effects of this were gruesome, and Bella had fared no better than any of the victims she had described since he had made her acquaintance. In her final throes of life, she had clawed substantial amounts of flesh from her face and neck. Even one of her striking violet eyes had been gouged almost from the socket.

It was a rather grim sight to behold; an undesirable demise for any indeed.

Still, it was neither the loss of the woman or the nature of her death that irked him so. It was what led to it and the helplessness he experienced in preventing it from happening.

She had been taken from this very room, unimpeded and by the damned raven he had cursed countless times. He despised the bird and would strangle it the first chance he got.

Nonetheless, the pest had proven to be as elusive as ever and the Dark Lord had been unable to follow. There was no magical trace to be found and nothing else to be done.

Not since he had been a boy nor experienced what happened to him the first time he had encountered Harry Potter had he felt such a way and it was something that did not sit right with him.

When he had been a teenage Tom Riddle and had learnt of the cruelty of the world, he had vowed that he would never find himself in such a helpless situation, and yet, it had come to pass more than once.

Even now, he felt the oppressive feeling of vulnerability he had experienced throughout his formative years under the care of Mrs Cole and the other workers at the orphanage.

He shook himself of those feelings.

The Dark Lord was no longer a mistreated boy, nor was he a mere mortal. Whoever this Peverell was, he could not hope to compare to Lord Voldemort, the wizard that had gone beyond what any other had done to ensure his legacy, though he could not deny the ruthlessness and efficiency his newly found foe worked with.

In less than a week, Peverell had caused more damage to the Dark Lord's regime than all of those that had opposed him combined had over many years.

His werewolves were dead, many other of his followers were dead, and even Bellatrix was gone.

It was unnerving to say the least, but still would only prove to be a minor setback.

When Peverell was dead, the Dark Lord could rebuild and resolidify his hold of magical Britain, though the former would need to be handled first.

Peverell had already made too much headway for his liking, and it could not be allowed to continue.

But how could he get to the elusive man?

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the radio coming to life from the corner of the room and his irritated but pensive mood shifted to one of fury as the mocking voice spoke.

Ever since he had established his position of power, these voices had been transmitting. At first, they had been little more than foolish messages of hope and encouragement to resist his regime, but they had grown to be an annoyance, and more recently, an anger-inducing addendum he did not need.

He knew of the transgressions against him perpetrated by Peverell, the failings of those tasked with ridding him of the man. He did not need them parroted at him by the smug cowards broadcasting them for all to hear. Yet, the Dark Lord listened, both his curiosity and anger being suddenly piqued as Peverell himself spoke to the Dark Lord.

He endured the bragging, the berating and insults, but his chest tightened as the missing pieces of the puzzle he had spent the past days forming were gifted to him.

"Impossible," he whispered in denial.

Potter was gone. The fools that worked in the Department of Mysteries had assured him that those that passed through the veil, did not return.

They knew not to where it led, but those who had willingly or unwillingly gone through were never seen nor heard from again.

The Dark Lord shook his head.

No, it couldn't be Potter.

For weeks after he had caught the man in the department Lord Voldemort had been inconsolably furious. Although he was allegedly dead, there was no satisfaction in the event, no vindication for the many years spent as little more than presence without his body.

The Dark Lord had dreamed about killing the boy himself only to have the closure of doing so torn from his grip when the moment had arrived. He had been angry but had gotten over it.

In truth, Harry Potter had been but a blip in his ascension, but one he'd rather not have had to endure. Time and time again he had been foiled by the boy, and then he had simply vanished through the archway.

If anything, the end had been unfitting, anti-climactic even, and did not correspond with what the Dark Lord had learned of the prophecy regarding the two of them.

However, he was not one to curse what had proven to be a blessing, until now.

With Potter gone and the prophecy no longer hanging over him, Voldemort's entire focus was able to be given where it was needed, and the remaining pockets of resistance were quelled to a tolerable degree. There were still members of the Order of the Phoenix that managed to elude capture, but they had proven to be little more than an irritant.

Without Dumbledore, they were nothing.

"You cannot flee from Death."

The cold words from the cold voice of Potter had stilled the Dark Lord, left him with a disconcerting feeling for a moment before he composed himself.

"I do not flee," he growled, "I overcome."

The radio had fallen silent some minutes prior, but the Dark Lord wanted a reaction, he wanted Potter to hear him.

"I DO NOT FLEE," he seethed, reducing the radio to dust with but a flick of his wand.

His concern had given way to a palpable anger, a rage that for many years had been reserved for Potter and had once again found a home within him. The man ignited a fury within the Dark Lord like no other could and learning that Potter of all people was behind what had befallen him this past week only fuelled it more so.

Potter? The pathetic and mediocre weakling had orchestrated this?

Were it not for the chill that ran down the Dark Lord's spine at the thought of the man, he would dismiss such a fantastical notion.

Potter had proven himself inept, lucky throughout their encounters, but ultimately lacking any real talent of note.

Still, the man goaded him, mocked him as though they were equals.

A frown formed at that thought. The prophecy spoke of Potter being his equal.

The Dark Lord shook his head.

No, Potter could never hope to be his equal in anything. The man was pathetic, and yet, he had caused such devastation since he had returned.

"Godric's Hollow," he murmured thoughtfully.

Killing Potter there would indeed be a fitting end to the entanglement they had found themselves in for the past two decades. A much more fitting end indeed.

Still, he would need to exercise caution. It would not do to for all his work to come undone because of his eagerness to finally be rid of the man, but this was not an opportunity he would pass up.

"I'll be seeing you, Potter," the Dark Lord muttered, already piecing together a plan to ensure his victory.

(Break)

"Could I have a word, Harry?" Sirius asked from the open doorway to what used to be his bedroom.

Harry nodded and entered the room for the first time since he had left Grimmauld Place so many years before.

Evidently, it had been left untouched. Even the quill and ink he had used to write a leaving note to his godfather was still on the bedside table where he had left it.

He never did finish that note and he had always carried the guilt with him. He simply had not known what to say to the man to make him understand why he was going or explain what he was going to do. How could he when he himself could not answer the questions Sirius would ask?

He released a deep breath as he took a seat on the edge of the bed and took in the appearance of perhaps the only person who had never doubted or belittled him in his life.

Sirius had aged, his once thick, dark locks streaked with grey in places, his beard following suit. He wore the expression of a defeated and tired man, the weight of everything he had endured etched into his skin with every wrinkle.

"Do you think it is wise to provoke him like that?"

Harry shrugged.

He did not wish to fallout with Sirius, but he would not have his method questioned, not when he knew Voldemort better than any.

"It's the only way to get him to come to me," he replied.

Sirius nodded.

"I'm not debating that, but questioning the sensibility of it," he sighed. "Look, Harry, whatever you have been doing has worked. I've seen that for myself, but this is still him. He is just as dangerous, especially for you."

"Maybe," Harry agreed, "but I am more of a danger to him here than he is me. I won't die here, Sirius. Fate won't allow that, not until I meet him again at least."

Sirius looked at him confusedly.

"I don't know what that mean."

He didn't and as Harry took in the frustrated visage of his godfather, he took pity on him.

"Where I live now, he's there and waiting for me. I will survive here because Fate has already chosen our final battleground."

Sirius snorted.

"I still don't get it."

"I don't expect you to," Harry chuckled.

Sirius shook his head and stared at the younger man speculatively.

It was hard for him to think of Harry as such, but he could not deny it. Harry had grown into a man, one that had lived to be older than Lily and James. That was a sobering thought.

"Your home…am I there?" he questioned.

After a moment, Harry nodded. There was no reason to conceal the truth from him.

"You are," he confirmed. "I was even your Defence Professor for a year."

Sirius's eyes widened.

"I'm still at Hogwarts?"

"You're just finishing your seventh-year."

"Bloody hell. What about you? You've not really said much about your life other than you're married with a daughter."

"They're what's important," Harry returned, "but I play Quidditch professionally."

"Bollocks," Sirius snorted. "What team?"

"The Falcons."

Sirius nodded appreciatively, his gaze becoming one of longing and regret.

"I wish I could see it," he murmured.

"You've got a season ticket," Harry pointed out.

"You know what I meant."

The two fell silent for a moment before Sirius spoke once more.

"Your parents…"

"Will be safe this time."

"I know," Sirius said dismissively. "Do they know about you?"

Harry shook his head.

"They were fifteen when I arrived," he explained. "I couldn't just, you know."

"No, I don't suppose you could," Sirius agreed. "Will you tell them?"

"No," Harry denied. "I'm a grown man, Sirius and don't need a mother and father. As much as I wish it, the James and Lily I have come to know are not the same ones that died protecting me. They are James Potter and Lily Evans. If they marry, they may have another Harry but it won't be me."

Sirius released a deep breath as he looked at him sympathetically.

"That must be hard."

"Not really," Harry disagreed. "I thought it would be but when I met James and realised he was just a teenager, I couldn't see him as my father. It was even harder with Lily. I lost my parents when I was a year old and even what I have been through couldn't change that. I have a wife and daughter of my own now. They are my family."

Sirius smiled at the mention of them.

"Can I see the picture again?"

Harry handed the picture of Helena over and Sirius stared reverently at is for several moments.

"She's beautiful, Harry," he complimented as he frowned. "There's something familiar about her though, but I can't work it out."

Harry laughed.

He had thought that Sirius would have identified the familiarity he saw in his daughter immediately upon seeing her, but the man had proven to be rather dense.

"Maybe if you saw a photo of her mother it would help," he suggested, offering another photo from the collection he kept with him.

Sirius accepted it, his frown deepening before he looked at Harry in shock, aghast and in disbelief at what he was seeing.

The photo was one of Narcissa and he on their wedding day, both were smiling brightly, unguarded as the photographer snapped the image.

It was one of his favourites and he had three copies of it himself.

"You married Narcissa?" Sirius asked dumbly. "You married my cousin!"

"I did," Harry answered unashamedly. "Believe me, I didn't plan on it happening, but I fell in love with her."

Sirius appeared disgusted by the thought.

"But she was always such a snooty cow."

Harry huffed and allowed the insult to go over his head.

His godfather was very biased towards any that had ever carried the name Black. One of them could have been given the Order of Merlin for saving muggle children from a burning building and he would still treat them as he would the others.

"When was the last time you spoke to her, Sirius?" he asked. "I don't mean just being in the same room as her, I mean really speaking to her."

The man shrugged.

"I don't know, probably a few months before I started Hogwarts."

"So, when she was what? Seventeen?"

"I suppose she would have been."

"So, you don't know the kind of woman she became?"

Sirius adopted a similar look a scolded child would if they had been caught doing something they shouldn't.

"No, I don't," he sighed reluctantly.

Harry shook his head amusedly.

"She is the kindest, most generous and beautiful person I have ever met. When I first arrived where I did, she nursed me back to health, helped me when I needed it and never asked for a thing in return."

"So, you just married her?"

Harry punched the man on the shoulder as he laughed.

"I married her because I wanted to and she wanted to marry me. We are happy, Sirius."

Sirius released a deep breath as he stared at the younger man questioningly.

"Alright, fine I can accept that," he conceded, "but you and Cousin Cissy? I never would have guessed."

"No, I wouldn't have either," Harry agreed, "but it works. We work and I wouldn't be without her."

Sirius offered him a smile.

"I'm happy for you," he said sincerely. "I won't pretend she wasn't a stuck-up bitch when we were growing up, but if you say she's different, I'll believe you."

"Thank you," Harry returned.

"Anyway, as interesting as you knocking up my cousin is," Sirius continued with a grimace, "that's not what we were talking about."

"You won't change my mind," Harry sighed.

"No, because you're as stubborn as both your mother and your father," Sirius grumbled. "What I was going to say is that I am going to be there with you. I won't take no for an answer, Harry. This is my war as much as it is the rest of the people that live here."

Harry had expected this but had equally expected that he could come up with a reason to deter Sirius from involving himself. Perhaps he had forgotten he wasn't dealing with the teenage Sirius that was in awe and a little afraid of him.

This Sirius was neither and he would be at Godric's Hollow regardless of what steps Harry took to keep him away.

"Fine," Harry huffed, "but if you're going to be there, I need you to do something for me."

"Name it," Sirius responded simply.

"I need Malfoy alive."

"Malfoy?"

Harry nodded.

He didn't much fancy explaining his need of the man, and much to his relief, Sirius did not ask for reasoning. His godfather merely nodded.

"I'll do what I can and ensure the Order does the same."

"Thank you," Harry returned gratefully. "Now, whilst we wait, I have a few preparations to make. I'll be back here before going to Godric's Hollow."

"We'll be ready," Sirius assured him."

There was nothing else that needed to be said for the time being, and Harry took his leave of the house.

The inevitable fight with Voldemort drew ever closer, but it was not this one Harry was concerned for. Here, this Voldemort knew little of him or what he was capable of.

If anything, this was little more than a sample of the man he would face in the months or even years to come. The Tom Riddle he had come to know during his formative years may be more experienced but irreparable damage had been done to his soul, and if Harry had come to learn anything about the subject, a soul so fragmented and traumatised as Tom's would be to his detriment.

The man simply did not know it yet.

(Break)

Only moments after the radio had fallen silent, the manor had become a flurry of activity. Raised voices could be heard, the stomping of hurried feet, and even the sounds of physical altercations taking place.

Waiting for several minutes after all had seemingly settled once more, Narcissa exited her rooms with her wand drawn and made her way to the main part of the house where a considerable showing of the Dark Lord's numbers operated from.

For years now she had played hostess to these people, in name only, however. She had long given up in being either welcoming or courteous, showing these men and women the same level of respect, they showed her.

None.

Instead, she ignored them, keeping her own activities to her own rooms where they could not tread, pretending there were not an assembled force under her roof.

It worked for the most part and she had grown used to their presence, but she didn't like it nor understood why they needed to be here. In a way, it served to tighten the Dark Lord's hold over her husband and home.

If Lucius were to be killed, the access to the family wealth would continue through Draco and the Death Eater presence here. If both Malfoy males were to die, nothing would be lost.

Narcissa shook her head at the sight of Lucius and Draco having a rather heated discussion as she entered the family parlour room. It was here that the important Malfoy conversations took place. Well, once perhaps. Now it was used mostly for Lucius to hide from the Lord Peverell.

"I forbid you to be there, Draco!" Lucius hissed.

"You cannot forbid me, father," the younger blonde replied. "I want to see Potter destroyed by our lord."

Lucius shook his head.

"One of us must remain within these walls and our lord insists that I be there."

Draco's nostrils flared irritably as his gaze bore into his father's.

"So, I am to hide like a coward?"

"You are to ensure our line is preserved," Lucius returned. "You must protect your son."

The two men stared stubbornly at one another; the stalemate only broken by the sound of a baby fussing.

Narcissa had not noticed the other blonde in the room, a young woman that could only be Draco's bride who was holding a bundle of blankets close to her chest.

It was not the blankets her own gaze was drawn to, but the haunted eyes of Astoria Greengrass. Within them, she saw the small amount of hope flickering, seemingly at the thought of Draco getting his own way.

It faded as the younger man sighed and nodded reluctantly.

Evidently, Draco was not a good husband and his wife lived in fear of him.

"I will stay," he muttered.

"Good," Lucius sighed. "Now, how many of the cowards fled?"

Draco shrugged.

"A lot managed to, but we stopped more. Those that live are in the dungeons."

Lucius nodded.

"They fear him, Draco, even more than they do our lord."

Draco snorted derisively.

"They fear Potter? He has always been weak."

Lucius cut him off with a shake of his head.

"He is no such thing anymore. Whatever Potter has become has the Dark Lord concerned. With the history between the two of you, I would rather you were not present to provoke his ire. The Dark Lord would not be grateful for your interference."

"I have already agreed that I will not be there!" Draco hissed as he stormed towards the door, the same way he did as a child when something did not go his way.

His wife dutifully limped after him, her eyes now devoid of anything firmly on the floor as she tried to soothe her babe.

Whatever Draco had done to her had broken her spirit and Narcissa suspected the reason the woman continued on was for the boy she carried in her arms.

She had seen that look in patients she had worked with during her stint at St Mungo's. Many of them chose to end their suffering themselves rather than relive or continue to endure what they had.

"Must you allow him to treat her as he does?" she snapped at her husband.

Lucius looked at her in disbelief before shrugging carelessly.

"She is his wife, is she not? He can treat her the way he sees fit."

And there it was, the same callousness she saw in her son reflected in the eyes of his father. Lucius had dared not treat her in such a way, but she had come to learn of his own discretions throughout the years, his proclivity towards more barbarous inclinations where women were concerned.

To him, they were to be used in whatever way he saw fit, with or without their consent.

"Good luck tomorrow, Lucius," she offered insincerely.

The sight of the man and thoughts of her own son sickened her, and she would not deny that she hoped Lucius would finally reap what he had sown throughout his life.

He had made many miserable, her included and Narcissa could think of no redeeming quality the man possessed.

She had once thought him to be a good and doting father, but in truth, he had done nothing but create another monster in Draco.

If the world had any kindness left in it, Lucius would meet a miserable end and Draco would be unable to continue as he was. She did not wish her son dead, but something had to be done. He needed to understand the way the world should be and not the lawless state wizarding Britain had become.

For too long, he had done as he wished, and something had to give. Even the dark world they lived in could not be so cold, could it?

(Break)

"The waiting around is the worst part of it," Sirius muttered from his place in front of the fireplace that had once belonged to the Potters.

Harry had spent the entire day in Godric's Hollow, preparing for what was to come. The home he had spent the first year and a half of his life in had opened for him as though it was welcoming him back.

This, however, was not his home. His home was waiting for him and this was merely a stop on the way there.

"It won't be much longer," Harry assured the man and the other Order members who had insisted on being here.

"You can't know that, lad," Moody growled. "These bastards will make you wait and strike when you don't expect it."

Harry snorted.

"It will be soon."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because they're already here."

The first of the Death Eaters had arrived shortly after dawn, undoubtedly scouting the area for places they could seek an advantage. There would be none for them here.

Harry had already seen to that.

Throughout the day, more and more had arrived and hidden themselves within the village, or so they believed. They could not hide from him nor from Olin who was keeping Harry informed of their movements.

Tom himself had commandeered the church as the base of his operation. Still, Harry knew that too.

The Dark Lord was under the illusion that he had control over what would happen. Little did he know that Harry was firmly in control of everything, and when the moment arrived, Tom would learn, but it would be too late.

Lord Voldemort was already dead, he just didn't know it yet.

"You're awfully calm, Harry," Sirius commented. "I don't know if that is a good thing or not."

"I'm not calm, Sirius, I'm ready," Harry replied. "This is just nothing new to me. The only difference now is that I will not be relying on luck or be lured into a trap. It is him that has already fallen into mine. As always, his ego is his downfall."

"Death!" Olin cawed.

"Today is the day, old friend," Harry comforted, stroking the raven's plumage. "Today is the day."

The gathered witches and wizards fell silent, seemingly waiting for the festivities to begin.

It wasn't until some time later that Harry stood from the armchair that he had been seated in and readied himself that a word was spoken.

"It's time," he announced simply, detecting movement from several different places in the village. "Olin, you know what to do."

Olin nodded before vanishing in a plume of smoke.

"As do we," Moody added, gesturing to himself and the rest of the Order.

Harry nodded.

"We'll make sure Malfoy doesn't get away," Sirius declared, referring to himself and Remus.

"He won't be going anywhere, just don't let him die," Harry instructed.

"We won't, but what about you?" Sirius asked.

"I will be where I am needed," Harry answered cryptically. "If any of you need help, send up sparks and it will come. There's no need for any of you to die tonight."

With his final word given, Harry followed Olin's exit and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

He appeared in a tree across the way from the church and saw no movement within the grounds. Tom was still within, waiting for a reason to show his face.

Harry would certainly give him that.

As expected, the Order presence took the Death Eaters by surprise and the sounds of skirmishes sounded throughout the village. Having anticipated this, Harry waited for his moment.

Tom was as predictable as ever, and soon, the chill of the Dementors filled the air.

Harry shook his head as he drew his wand and began waving it in intricate patterns.

Within a moment, the coldness of his own magic quashed that of the Azkaban guards who became aware of it. They screeched at one another almost questioningly, the grating sound becoming shriller as Harry's presence only intensified.

He still did not fully understand the effect it had on the creatures, but the magic Harry wielded was of the soul, of Death himself. Even the Dementors could not compete with it.

As such, they became overwhelmed by it, so much so, they could no longer stand to be within it. Soon enough, they fled from it and the voices of the Death Eaters could be heard demanding to know where they had gone.

Harry smirked and ignored the urge to seek Tom out. The time for that would arrive soon enough, and whilst he waited, there were other things he could do to assist the order.

The opportunity to do so came after around five minutes of fighting between the scattered groups.

On the far side of the village, green sparks were shot into the air and Harry left the tree he was observing from to announce his arrival to Tom.

(Break)

"My Lord, the Dementors have gone," Lucius announced breathlessly, having run to inform his master of the unwelcome development.

"Gone?" Voldemort questioned dumbly.

Lucius nodded nervously.

"I can't explain it, my lord, but as soon as they felt that magic, they ran."

Voldemort growled, though any rebuttal he had was interrupted by the shattering of one of the stained-glass windows.

He looked on curiously as a severed head tumbled towards him and came to a stop at his feet. He found himself staring into the horrified expression of Antonin Dolohov.

The Dark Lord flinched as the closed eyes of the head opened, though they were not the cerulean blue of his follower but white and empty.

"You cannot flee from Death, Tom," it spoke, the lips moving as mockingly as it was morbid.

With a wave of his wand, the head was engulfed in flames and the church began to fill with the smell of burning flesh.

"You cannot flee from Death, Tom," the whispers continued, reverberating from the walls around Lord Voldemort. "Death comes for you tonight."

Voldemort snarled.

"Parlour tricks! He has nothing but parlour tricks."

Lucius nodded, but the man had paled.

Potter's fear tactics were working, and the Dark Lord could not allow that.

"Where is he?" he demanded.

Lucius swallowed deeply.

"I do not know, my lord."

"Then find him, Lucius."

The Malfoy lord nodded and reluctantly left the safety of the church, giving the Dark Lord space to think.

Such a thing lasted for but a moment, however, as more windows were broken and more heads deposited around him, speaking similar words to the first.

"Come, Tom, Death is eager to meet you."

"You hide whilst your followers greet him so readily."

"Coward."

"Death."

"Find Me!"

The Dark Lord unleashed a guttural roar and immolated the dozen or so heads of the Death Eaters that had met their end at the hands of Potter.

Knowing he needed to act, he sent the signal for his followers to regroup. Whatever was happening out there was not to their advantage. They were being slaughtered and he could not afford the luxury of casualties, not when so few had answered his call this evening.

With the signal sent, he left the confines of the church and watched as those that had proven their loyalty arrived in droves, some scrambling to escape, some sporting injuries, but all adorning a look of concern at best.

"Come," the Dark Lord instructed in his usual calming tone, though he felt nothing of the sort.

Already this evening was proving to be a disaster, but he would get Potter. The boy could not hope to emerge victorious with such trickery. Lord Voldemort was not fooled by such tactics.

He nodded satisfactorily as he realised he still held a considerable advantage in numbers. The dregs of what remained of the Order could not hope to win in an open fight.

He merely needed to lure them into one.

With an idea forming, he placed the tip of his wand to his throat and addressed the one who's death would put an end to this foolish attempt at a coup.

"You call me coward, Potter, yet it is you that hides in the shadows. Your parents at least had the guts to face me and die on their feet. I remember it well, your pathetic mother and father pleading for your life as I took theirs from them."

Having said all he wished to, the Dark Lord removed his wand and waited, the silence of anticipation almost suffocating. When it appeared that Potter would not take the bait, he sighed and began pondering another approach, only to find that he did not need to as a single raven cawed, landing in an elder tree on the edge of the churchyard.

It was followed by many others, and the Dark Lord readied himself having become wary of the creatures, but none of these had eyes of white. They were nothing but ravens, an eerie gathering, but nothing more than they appeared to be, other than the overwhelming chill they brought with them.

For a summer evening even in Britain, such a chill was unnatural, but even more so was the appearance of the dark figure that entered the church alone, his white eyes burning and the foliage around his feet wilting and dying as he walked through it and towards the Dark Lord.

Voldemort snorted.

More parlour tricks and aesthetics that would not move him, though Potter was no longer the boy he remembered.

Against all odds, he had reached adulthood, and were the Dark Lord not to know the true mediocrity of the man before him, he may have been somewhat impressed.

"You speak of cowardice as though you are not one, Tom," Potter spoke, having come to a stop several feet away. "You and yours have always been cowards. As a boy you cowered in the orphanage and as a student at Hogwarts you took the coward's way out by doing what you have. It was all for nothing Tom. The fragments of your soul now belong to Death."

The Dark Lord narrowed his eyes at Potter, but he was unable to discern whether the words spoken were of truth or merely a fabrication.

No, it was impossible. There was no conceivable way Potter had gotten his Horcruxes, though his heart sunk when the man spoke next, unintimidated by the sheer numbers before him.

"I have Lucius to thank for the diary, Bellatrix for the cup, and your ego for the rest; the locket, the ring, and Nagini, of course," he reeled off, holding up five fingers when he was done. "The only piece that remains, is you."

It was odd feeling so vulnerable, something the Dark Lord had not felt since before he created his first horcrux, but if what Potter said was true, none remained.

But how? How had this come to pass without his knowledge? He knew of Nagini's fate, but he had not considered it would be so detrimental. How could it be when he had taken steps to ensure that this very thing could not befall him?

He shook his head.

No, Potter had to be lying. There was no way he had gotten them all. The man was trying to scare him, and the Dark Lord refused to give in to it.

"I see you don't believe me," Potter sighed. "I would suggest you check on them, but you won't be leaving here tonight to do so, Riddle. Death has finally come for you."

"KILL HIM!" Voldemort roared.

As one, the Death Eaters attacked but their spells met nothing as Potter vanished in a puff of smoke and the ravens took to the air. They began diving towards him and his followers, and though he did not know what would happen, he was not willing to take chances, not when he was seemingly so vulnerable.

"SHIELDS!" he instructed, erecting one of his own.

The Death Eaters followed his orders and those that were quick enough were spared from the resulting explosions, and those that were not, reduced to little more than smatterings of blood, bone and sinew that were left behind, spread across the grounds of the church.

He even saw one of the ravens fly into the mouth of a man and choke him from within before the fine mist of blood coated his robes as that head too was destroyed by a blast.

The ravens were proving to be troublesome, but even more so the Order members that took it as their cue to attack, yet the Dark Lord was not concerned by them. They could not hope to match him with a wand.

He had only eyes for Potter, and he scanned the area for him.

(Break)

"There he is," Sirius called to Remus as he ducked a jet of orange light aimed at him by a Death Eater.

All hell had broken loose in Godric's Hollow, and Sirius found himself stood back-to-back with the werewolf, something they had done often during the first year. Remus Lupin was one of only two people left he trusted, and the other was currently causing his own chaos as he squared off with the Dark Lord.

The two were being given a very wide berth from those on both sides of the conflict.

"Wimp," Remus snorted, spotting the indicated Lucius Malfoy who was lurking on the edge of the fighting, firing spells at the members of the Order when they were not looking. "Why does Harry want him?"

Sirius shrugged.

"I don't know, Moony, but he is adamant he is taken."

Remus nodded and the pair dispatched of their current foes before turning their attention to the blonde.

"What's the betting he won't come quietly?" the werewolf questioned.

"I don't care," Sirius returned. "Harry only said he wanted him alive, doesn't mean we can't take a piece of him for ourselves."

"He's going to run as soon as he sees us," Remus sighed.

"Then you engage him," Sirius instructed. "He still believes you are inferior. I will take him when he's not expecting it."

The twinkle in Sirius's eye never boded well for someone. In their youths, it meant that someone who had slighted him would be on the wrong side of a prank.

The last time Remus had seen the glint was when Snape had been introduced to the werewolf side of him in the Shrieking Shack.

Nonetheless, he nodded, and Sirius began skirting around the edge of the fighting whilst Remus fought his way towards the blonde.

"Oi, Malfoy," he called as he neared the man.

Lucius looked at him, his lip curling in distaste at the appearance of the werewolf.

"I see you managed to survive Potter's culling of your lot. A shame," Malfoy said disgustedly, readying his wand, his gaze sweeping across the breadth of the churchyard to ensure the two of them would not be interrupted.

Remus ignored the barb and the two began trading spells.

Despite his penchant for cowardice, Lucius was a dangerous and gifted wizard in his own right and Remus found himself having to work to match him, though it mattered little when a snarling was heard only a few moments later and Lucius Malfoy screamed as he was dragged to the ground by his neck, a large, black dog having appeared from seemingly nowhere.

"Good work, Padfoot," Remus praised as he relieved Lucius of his wand, "but you'll need to let him go so he can be tied up."

With a whimper, Sirius relinquished his hold and Remus bound the groaning Malfoy who was bleeding quite freely from the wounds inflicted on him.

"Did you have to bite so hard?" Remus sighed.

"I couldn't help it," Sirius replied with a shrug having reverted to his human form. "I had to fight the urge to not rip his head off as it is."

Reus chuckled.

"Well, we got him. Disillusion him and make sure he can't move. They still need our help," he pointed out, gesturing to the still outnumbered Order members.

Sirius nodded and set to work doing just that, his wand snapping to chest level as another swathe of men and women entered the gate.

"Who the hell is that?" he asked.

"Isn't that Greengrass?" Remus questioned as the man he identified cleaved off the arm of a Death Eater.

"Bloody hell, it is," Sirius gasped, "and there's Davis, Diggory and Patil," he added, recognising more of the group that had arrived.

There were around thirty of them in all, each engaging the Death Eaters.

"They must have heard the broadcast," Remus deduced.

Sirius nodded his agreement.

"Well, that certainly changes things."

(Break)

Undoubtedly, the Dark Lord was beyond the norm with the skill he wielded his wand with, but this was not the same Voldemort Harry had become accustomed to fighting. Tom would never admit it, he may not even be aware of it, but this was not the same man he had fought in Hogsmeade.

This Voldemort was a fraction slower, his spells less impactful and his temper making him more volatile and prone to emotional responses.

Delving into the creation of his horcruxes had not served him well on many fronts, though he remained an exceptionally dangerous man to cross wands with.

For Harry, however, the Dark Lord here was lacking, and it was only a matter of time before he would be struck down. Already, his frustration grew, clouding his judgement and causing him to make minor mistakes.

He had grown so used to being a superior wizard that he could not fathom being bested. As such, he was not as careful as he should be when faced with one of equal ability.

Another attack was parried, and Harry returned fire with a spell of his own, forcing Voldemort onto the backfoot and needing to defend himself. It was not the man's preferred style but allowing him to continue his onslaught was not the intelligent thing to do.

If the Dark Lord was allowed to establish a rhythm of dominance, it would be near impossible to break it. He needed to be made to think on his feet and not settle.

It was the only way Harry would emerge victorious.

Regardless of what he knew, the knowledge of his foe and countering him were two different things entirely and Harry found himself locked in a stalemate with the Dark Lord who was doing just enough to keep him from seizing an advantage. Although it was frustrating, Harry knew it would likely come to this. Even with a speed advantage, Voldemort was an excellent wizard and did everything right to prevent it.

Harry did not expect to emerge from the fight unscathed, but he hoped he could do so without any grievous wounds. Already, he had been cut several times from debris that had been strewn about and his arm throbbed from where he had been clipped a bludgeoning curse, but he knew if he wanted an opening to strike, Voldemort would need to become more careless, and to achieve that, he needed to believe he was winning.

Harry watched the spells that were sent his way; a Cruciatus curse, a Gouging hex, an Organ-liquefying Curse and finally a simple yet effective Cutting Curse.

Bracing himself, he allowed the last to graze his shoulder, hissing as it cut deeply into his flesh.

A collective gasp of those within the churchyard was heard.

The Dark Lord's eyes positively lit up at the unexpected success and he sprung to take advantage of his wounded opponent.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Harry had anticipated such a move and had not been idle.

Before the first syllable had even been uttered, his own wand was primed and ready.

The triumphant smirk of the Dark Lord was short lived as Harry fired his rebuttal, rolling nimbly away from the oncoming jet of green light and breathing a sigh of relief as it barely missed him.

Voldemort was not granted such a respite and screamed as a loud snapping was heard and he could only stare dumbly at the arm that had been torn from his body, the hand still clutching his wand.

Frantically, he scrambled to retrieve it only to feel a tight pressure around his neck before he was unceremoniously yanked backwards, the force knocking the wind out of him as he thumped to the floor.

"I don't think so, Tom," Harry growled, stomping on the chest of the downed Dark Lord who wheezed a protest.

Any words he had fell on deaf ears as Harry seized him by the throat and took a knee next to him.

"I've been waiting for this my whole life," he muttered. "There were times that I thought that it would never happen, but through a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events, here we are."

Voldemort said nothing as the younger man glared balefully at him, the wound in his shoulder leaking copious amounts of blood and staining the pale skin of his neck a morbid red.

"He's waiting for you now, Tom," Harry whispered. "You cannot flee from Death."

Voldemort choked as the free hand of Potter was rammed into his chest and he felt something grip his heart. It was an odd and most unwelcome feeling being intruded upon in such a way but there was no pain, not until Potter squeezed with all his might and the Dark Lord felt himself filled with an unnatural coldness.

"Goodbye, Tom," Harry mumbled callously as he sapped the final vestiges of life from the man who had haunted him from within the shadows throughout most of his life.

With the deed done, he allowed the body of his foe to slump, to fall forever still.

For all Harry cared, the ravens could feast on what remained, he had claimed the soul and that was all that mattered. The cloaked figure would be awaiting his arrival but there was a final stop he needed to make before finding his way home.

He stood to be greeted by the sight of dumbfounded witches and wizards, those donned in black cloaks eying him warily and the others in a state of shock.

Despite his self-belief, there had been those that doubted him, but they were silent now.

"Drop your wands," he commanded, "it's over."

To accentuate his point, the gathering of ravens that had watched over him took to the sky, their caws serving to warn those that would perhaps not comply.

Slowly, but surely, they did so, and Harry turned his attention to his godfather.

"Where is he?"

"We got him," Sirius assured him, pointing to where Remus held Malfoy by the scruff of his robes.

"Thank you," Harry said sincerely.

"I won't see you again, will I?" Sirius asked as Harry began turning from him.

"No. It's time for me to go home."

Sirius nodded his understanding. It had been a difficult thing to come to terms with, but Harry had built a life for himself, was happy, and that was all Sirius ever wanted for him.

"Well, give the younger me a boot up the arse. Don't let him end up in Azkaban."

Harry chuckled as he nodded.

"I will," he promised, pulling the man into a strong embrace.

"Take care of yourself, Harry," Sirius whispered. "James and Lily would be proud of you."

Harry did not believe they would but did not dispute the man.

"You take care too, Sirius. Find something that makes you happy."

Sirius nodded and Harry offered him a final smile before approaching the rather terrified Lucius Malfoy.

"W-what do you want with me?" he stuttered.

"From you? Nothing," Harry replied coldly, "but how cooperative you are will decide how much longer you will live in the comfort you're feeling now. If you fuck me around, I will ensure that your final moments will be more miserable than his," he added, jerking his thumb in the direction of the corpse of the Dark Lord.

Lucius trembled as he nodded.

The ravens had indeed begun to feast on Voldemort's remains.

"Good, now, you will take me to your home. I have business there."

"My h-home?"

"Ask no questions, Malfoy, and I will not be forced to hurt you."

"I'm coming with you!" a voice interrupted, and Harry found himself faced with a man he did not know. "My daughter is there, and I will be taking her home."

"Your daughter?"

"Astoria Greengrass. She was forced to marry his son," the man explained, pointing at a cowering Lucius.

"Then who am I to stop you," Harry replied.

He could not imagine being in such a position and were it Helena who had been forced into such, he would bring the world to its knees to have her free of someone like Draco.

"Come along then Lucius, I do not have time to waste," Harry prodded as he dropped his wards.

Lucius could only nod as Harry and Greengrass took hold of his robes, and with a final nod of appreciation towards Remus, they were gone.