Disclaimer: You don't fuck around with the infinite.

A/N: A prologue AND a chapter on the same day - ain't I a peach.

Act I – I Am Here to Kill Grief Itself

Chapter One – To Hell With It

It felt like saying goodbye because it was goodbye.

A torrent of liquid flame burnt across the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The flame licked at the walls of the castle, flowing up the outer stone shell of the old school and melting the window glass in its frames.

The flame spread quickly, alive and devastating. It had washed clear across the surface of the lake, creating great torrents of superheated steam. Yet even the cool, deep waters of the forgotten loch could not quench the resolve of this fire. It danced amongst the trees of the Forbidden Forest, slick like oil on water, and was silent – so very silent.

Harry Potter stood at the heart of the inferno.

The flames surged around him, burying him to his knees in what was essentially magically-charged super napalm. Hellfire. He stood in the epicentre of the fire as if it were water, as if he were wading across a river. His eyes reflected the red-hot blaze and did not blink. A stink of burnt matches and rotten eggs poisoned the air surrounding the castle.

Sulphur, Harry thought. It was a strange grin that bared his teeth.

"What have you done, Potter?" Lord Voldemort hovered above the reaching flames, utilising that annoying ability of his to fly without a broom. A cloud of utter, seething darkness flowed beneath the hem of his robes.

His Death Eaters had fled or been consumed. Rowle and Yaxley were ash in the wind, for sure, although Bellatrix may have escaped with the rest… Harry would deal with them soon.

"Done, Voldemort?" Harry laughed, his eyes wide and wild. "You better get used to this heat, 'cause I'm sending you straight to Hell."

The wand in Harry's hand smoked – the wood blisteringly hot. Yet his hands were cold. His entire body was freezing. Cold was good, though, cold was power. The flames surged up on his left, obscuring his view of Voldemort, and an arc of pure white fire blazed overhead. There were screams in that fire. Screams of demons yet to come.

They rose from all around – from within the flame and beyond. Creatures of pure seething heat, with burning coals for eyes, reared up out of the river and screeched, shattering the higher windows of the castle, before falling back into the inferno.

"It's coming!" Harry laughed. "And, Voldemort – It. Is. Hungry…"

"Avada Kedavra!"

The old favourite. Harry stepped up out of the flame and onto a bridge of ice that formed beneath his boots. Pure white frost that refused to succumb to the damning heat of the flames. And why should it? The fires of Hell were no match for the power of the Winter Knight.

The greasy green light of the Killing Curse was absorbed by the river of liquid flame. Harry brandished his wand before him, freezing the air, and rose on a set of crystal steps until he was level with the Dark Lord.

"You've changed, Harry Potter," Voldemort said. He sounded unnerved – uncertain in his arrogance.

More demons came now, screaming up out of the fire. Hideous creatures of misery and regret, burning and burning. They swarmed beneath Harry and Voldemort hungry and desperate. They fed on souls, dealt in universes, and despised the living. Their screams were tortured, agonising, yet Harry could sense their purpose… they were waiting. Always waiting.

Harry reached into the pocket of his jacket and removed a small silver cup. He tossed it through the air at Voldemort, who caught it with a flick of his wand so that it hovered between them above the blanket of demonic fire. "Look familiar?"

Voldemort reeled. It was Hufflepuff's Cup. The last of his Horcruxes.

"And with that damned snake dead, you're down to your last card." Harry smirked. "You know, leaving pieces of your soul lying around is possibly the dumbest fucking move you've ever made. There's a whole other world of magic out there that bargains in souls, Voldemort, and it's coming to collect on yours."

Voldemort raged. "You speak of the Nevernever…" He joined the dots. "This lake of fire… you used my soul fragment to link Hogwarts to the Nevernever, at the cost of…" Sheer tempered hatred rippled across the Dark Lord's face. "Avada Kedavra! AVADA KEDAVRA!"

The twin lights of death closed the distance between Harry and Voldemort fast, yet not fast enough. The rising flames reached a crescendo, the world drew in a terrible breath, and a fountain of white-hot light exploded beneath the pair of them. Thin cords of golden fire pierced the hovering silver cup, which shrieked acrid black smoke before being incinerated, and then struck Voldemort with all the fury of magic – true magic – unleashed.

Harry dived out of the way before the curses could strike him. He fell through fierce heat, the power of his bargain with the Winter Court cooling the air about him as he fell. He landed hard on another bridge of ice as Voldemort screamed in untold agony.

The beast rose up behind the Dark Lord. A creature of shadow and flame, a monster bred in one of the darkest corners of the universe and in the farthest reaches of the Nevernever. It was huge, a monolithic presence of living fire. Wiry horns twirled out of its head, broken and ragged. It must have been a hundred feet high – more. Its shadow cast the castle into darkness.

A deep grumbling emanated from within the beast as Voldemort fought with the thin beams of pure fire that pierced his body, holding him in place, nailing him to a cross. He was to be sacrificed it seemed, to the dark gods that existed on the edge of the Nevernever and the Outer Gates.

It's not an Outsider, Harry thought. But it's only a breath away…

That deep grumbling from within the beast was laughter, Harry realised with a jolt of true fear. Voldemort, to his credit, still raged in the grip of the hellfire. Still desperately clung to his smoking wand. Jets of random curse light burst from the tip, scattering harmlessly against the massive fiery chest of the beast.

Its jaw fell open and the flame at the heart of the creature was like looking into the sun. The sun at night.

Even the protection of Winter was not enough to stop the wave of heat that washed over Harry. It was enough to save his life, to leave his exposed skin burnt, but without his link to the Court he would have been incinerated.

Voldemort was flayed alive before the might of the beast bearing down upon him.

Harry laughed – and screamed – Harry wept as the beast consumed the man who had murdered his parents. It surged up above Voldemort and then came crashing down, its giant maw open wide, and devoured him whole.

The Dark Lord was destroyed.

Several things happened very quickly after that.

All at once the flames flickered and died.

The fires receded faster than they had appeared. In a rush of heat and light the fire fled up and into the gap left by Voldemort. It left in its wake scorched earth, layers of ash inches thick, yet all the fire disappeared. The trees in the forest stopped burning, the smoke rising above the wood in a heavy cloud, and the lake ceased sizzling.

All that remained of the link he had forged was a circle of swirling dark light in the centre of the field, below where Voldemort had been consumed. It was barely five feet across, yet it was this portal that all the flame had flowed from, that the beast had risen from. It was still there, a glaring gap in the reality of the world. It would collapse in on itself soon enough.

Harry found his feet in the aftermath and stood in relative disbelief. He had done it. It was over, and he had won. In no way did it feel real, feel done. For all the long years of his short life he had been building toward this point, this victory, and as such the moment was beyond reckoning.

"I win…" he whispered into the near-silent air. Through the smoke a twilight sky watched the world from overhead, and Harry stood alone on a battlefield of ash and smoke. "It's done."

But at what cost? The lower levels of Hogwarts were blackened beyond recognition. Harry hoped Dumbledore and the other professors had gotten the students up one of the towers. The massive mahogany doors of the Entrance Hall had been burnt clear away. Harry could see the grand staircase beyond, and a figure rushing down to meet him.

Reality came crashing down hard. He had won. He was alive. Dear Merlin…

The Winter Court was going to hang him for this.

He had tipped the balance of power in his favour, against the wishes of the Winter Lady and the Queen. He had directly disobeyed the Fae and upset the balance both here and in the Nevernever between the two Courts. Harry honestly hadn't expected to live, but he had, and now there would be hell to pay.

Not literally… as that had already been done. He absently rubbed his chest, staring at the softly spinning portal into the Nevernever. He felt a pain in his heart, like a jagged hook pulling him toward the gateway to Hell.

Why was his scar still burning?

It was Albus Dumbledore that found him first amongst the ash.

Clearing a path through the debris with his wand, Albus found Harry sitting dishevelled – yet relatively unhurt – on a block of melting ice, glaring at a spinning portal of energy that shook the old professor to his very core.

"Oh, Harry," Albus said. It was an awful sadness that broke his voice. "You don't know what you have done."

"I've ended a war," Harry said without turning to face him. "Why isn't it closing? It should be gone by now. He's gone."

Albus had seen Voldemort's downfall from above the unimaginable heat of the fire that had turned his school grounds to dust. Harry had indeed ended it – but at the cost of more than he knew. There were old laws, old truces, that Albus had kept in check since the Second World War. The White Council, the other world of magic – the larger world – was going to come down like an iron hammer on the Wizarding World for this transgression.

"You should have come to me with this, Harry." Albus tried to keep the slow anger out of his voice. He knew he had failed when Harry spun to face him, his face burnt bright red and his eyes still reflecting the fires of ruthless damnation he had called into the world.

"There was no way I could ever kill him in a duel, Dumbledore." Harry was rubbing his chest. A thin trickle of blood cut down across his forehead and over the bridge of his nose. His scar was bleeding. He swayed back toward the portal behind him. "And you would have stopped me from any dealings with the Fae."

"For good reason – they are not to be trusted. Not ever."

Harry took a deep breath and the slow burning coals in his eyes died. Cool emerald, Lily Potter's eyes, reclaimed his sight. Why is that worse? Albus thought, struck by his gaze. Harry, you poor man, what has happened to your soul…?

"What's done is done." Harry shrugged. "I used the Fae and the nature of the Nevernever against Voldemort and his blasted Horcruxes. He won't be bothering us anymore."

Dumbledore frowned. "What did you do precisely?"

Harry grinned. "Summoned something from the edge of the Nevernever, something that you have to pay with a soul for its services. Luckily, Voldemort left his just lying around."

Something wasn't right. Albus didn't like the way Harry was grimacing – clearly in pain. And if this summoning was done, why had the portal not faded away? The price had been paid, had it not? What he understood of the rules of magic as it was used by the White Council – and that was more than any Wizarding World wizard alive – the bargain had been set and finalised. As Harry said, it should be over. No, something was not right.

The truth of the matter struck Albus all at once. The pieces fell into place, the curtain was pulled back, but by then it was far too late. From the moment Harry had set his plan into action it had been far too late. The Elder Wand almost fell from Albus' old hand as the realisation struck him, his face slackened, and he felt every one of his years like a punch in the gut.

At the same moment Harry raised a hand to his bleeding scar. He saw the look on Dumbledore's face and something he had only suspected, something he had gambled with through all of this, became all too clear.

"Oh," he said, and actually smiled. A small, hopeless chuckle escaped him. "Oh damn."

Behind him a lance of pure white flame, a thin rope of hellfire, burst from the darkness within the portal and wrapped itself around his neck. Harry choked as he was pulled back, terrible understanding scarring his face, and a strain on his very soul making him scream to Hell and Heaven for death.

He disappeared into the fiery darkness and the portal snapped closed. Harry's last, desperate scream echoed in the broken silence all across the grounds of Hogwarts.

And then he was gone.

Albus Dumbledore fell to one knee. For all that mattered, he had just watched Harry Potter die. A thousand thoughts numbed his mind to any immediate action. Above all, he had just had a terrible suspicion confirmed. Not that it mattered now. Not that it could matter ever again.

Yet it was confirmed just the same. Harry had been the last Horcrux of Lord Voldemort. His soul had not been entirely his own, not since that night in Godric's Hollow some sixteen years ago.

Oh Harry…

No, Harry and Voldemort had been joined as equals even to the intermingling of their very souls.

The bargain Harry had struck for Voldemort's life had, in every sense of the word, damned them both.

A/N: So, initial thoughts, folks? Fans of Potter or Dresden (or both) let me know what you think. Watch this space for updates, both here and for my other stories. There shall be awesomeness on the way. I'll give a firm nod to the fools over at darklordpotter for their thoughts before I posted it up here for the world at large. The abuse they hurl my way is always extremely beneficial.