Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the Potter-verse do not belong to me. They belong to J.K. Rowling, etc. Likewise, the Buffy-verse does not belong to me. It belongs to Joss Whedon. I have used some lines from the third season episode of BTVS "The Wish." This is a parody of that episode, and I claim no rights to anything remotely original about its plot. I stole it all ;)
This story takes place after the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin Quidditch match in Order of the Phoenix. No major spoilers for OotP, and I've altered the end a little to suit my own purposes. Special thanks to my wonderous Beta, The Morning Starr, without whom this story would be riddled with sodding adverbs and involve far too much sneering. Enjoy!
"This is a dumb world. In my world there are people in chains, and we can ride them like ponies." -Evil Willow, "Dopplegangland"
Draco Malfoy had never felt angrier or more disappointed in his entire life. He stood at the railing of the highest Astronomy Tower still in his Quidditch robes, wind whipping through his white blonde hair. Normally he would never allow his hair to become so messy, nor would he remain in his sweaty Quidditch robes any longer than was absolutely necessary--he positively despised sweat--but at the moment these facts hardly registered to him. Instead all his concentration was focused on the letter clutched tightly in his hand. Shaking slightly, he smoothed the parchment and read his father's words again:
There is not a word to accurately describe the amount of utter disappointment I am feeling in you at this moment. If it weren't for His plans for you, I would no longer consider you my son. You're certainly not worthy of the title, and it galls me to know that I am forced to put up with the disappointment and humiliation of having you as my unfortunate responsibility for the next three years.
How is it that a pureblood from one of the finest wizarding families--no the finest wizard family--can continue to bring shame and dishonor upon his family in such an unseemly manner? One would think your mother and I hadn't instilled any sense in you at all, much less wizarding pride. I am starting to believe that Dumbledore is right in choosing Potter as his protege--you have failed miserably in ever beating the boy at anything, even such a trivial activity as Quidditch. Your past failures and recent behavior lead me to believe that you are no longer worthy of the noble name of Malfoy.
Your mother is a disgrace in all the better society circles because of your ridiculous inability to do anything right. She has taken to refusing to acknowledge your existence to her friends--it's the only way she can continue to hold her head up in polite company. I am horrified and disgusted that you are my only flesh and blood legacy. You are a bitter disappointment. But no matter. Perhaps your mother and I can contrive to produce another heir, one worthy of his parentage.
Draco felt his throat tighten and he swallowed hard over the lump that was threatening to form . This is all Potter's fault, he thought bitterly, crushing the letter in his hand. Potter always ruined everything. And everything was always about Potter. He was all anyone ever talked about, and Draco was sick of hearing about him. But most of all Draco was sick of being compared to him, and coming up miserably short in the process. And now his father had all but disowned him because of Potter, called him a horrid disappointment and threatened to have another child to replace him. It was unbearable that his own father thought Potter was better than him.
"Having a good cry, dear?" a warm voice asked softly from behind him. Draco spun to face the intruder, a young woman with curly brown hair and a concerned expression on her pretty face.
Draco glared at her. "No," he sneered, "and it would serve you better to mind your own business and not come nosing about in mine. Who are you?" he demanded.
She didn't bother to answer his question. "It might be better for me, true, but would it be better for you?" she asked. "Come on now, Halfred's here." The woman smiled at him comfortingly. Her voice was soothing and warm, her manner calm and helpful. "Your emotions are written so clearly on your face," she murmured gently. "Why don't you tell me what's causing such... bitterness and longing?"
Draco felt mesmerized by the soothing quality of her voice and before he knew it, words were spilling from his mouth. "Its Potter," he found himself muttering. "Its always him. He ruins everything. He has everything. The whole school thinks he's a bloody hero, when really he's nothing but a half blood git who happened to get lucky a few times, and now everyone worships him." Draco realized he sounded like a petulant child, but in his blazing fury found himself not caring.
"Do you ever wish you were this Potter fellow?" she asked sympathetically.
Draco sneered. "Wish to be that dirty half blood orphan?" he snickered. "Have to be friends with Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers? No, never. But sometimes I wish..."
"Yes?" she interrupted. The soothing tone leached from her voice and her eyes focused intently on his face.
"Sometimes I wish Harry Potter had never come to Hogwarts," he said bitterly.
The woman smiled broadly. The sound of shifting, tearing flesh rent the air as her smile widened more than was humanly possible. Her entire face seemed to be breaking apart, skin peeling away from her features and reforming into a scarred, pitted version of its former self. Only her eyes remained unchanged, but their glazed expression held no comfort now. Draco was horrified to see that she looked as if she'd gotten in the wrong way of a dragon and never received proper medical attention. Draco backed away from her, his back hitting the railing of the tower after only a few steps. He could get no farther from the woman who had suddenly become a monster. He had never seen anything like her, not even in The Monster's Book of Monsters , but she certainly looked dangerous enough for that oaf Hagrid to love. The gleam in her eyes was one Draco knew well--it bespoke of the desire to hurt, to maim, to kill.
But she didn't attack him. "Done!" she said, her voice gravelly and low, completely unlike what it had been only moments before. She raised her arms and Draco cringed, expecting her to attack then, but she merely snapped her fingers and was gone with a loud crack.
Draco blinked, wondering frantically if he'd just hallucinated the whole incident. Why had he even bothered talking to such a strange person? His mind felt cloudy and dumb--the harder he tried to remember the specifics of their conversation, the less he seemed able to recall them.
Running his fingers through his messy hair with disgust, Draco smiled to himself. If only his wish could really be granted...
Hogwarts would be a much more pleasant place without perfect Harry Potter.
After a long shower and a therapeutic shredding session--his father's letter now lay in tiny pieces in the common room dustbin--Draco felt more like himself again. Avoiding his friends, as he wasn't in the mood to hear Pansy sulking about Slytherin's spectacular defeat on the Quidditch field, he headed for the dining hall for a late dinner. Unsurprisingly the Great Hall was fairly empty, with only a few students straggling behind. To his disgust Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle were among them, apparently waiting for him to make an appearance. With a frustrated sigh he resigned himself to having his dinner ruined with bitter talk about the Gryffindors.
"Hi Draco," Pansy simpered as he took his seat, giving him her most winning smile, which turned out to be rather more repugnant than anything else. "Great game today! Really brilliant catch!" she batted her eyelashes at him.
Draco frowned. "Are you mocking me?" he asked, his voice shaking with anger.
Pansy's eyes widened and she shook her head emphatically "Oh no, Draco. It really was brilliant! The way you knocked that annoying Creevey boy into the Ravenclaw stands right as he was about to catch the snitch... you were very brave," she said with a longing sigh.
"Creevey?" Draco asked in confusion, his eyes traveling to the empty Gryffindor table across the hall. "You mean that repulsive Mudblood Potter worshipper?"
"Potter?" Pansy asked in confusion. "Are you talking about Harry Potter?"
Draco fought the urge to roll his eyes in frustration at Pansy's denseness--such a common gesture was beneath his dignity. "Yes, Potter. The bloody Boy Who Lived. Supposed conqueror of the Dark Lord and overall sodding git."
Pansy shrugged. "I've certainly never met him. I had no idea Creevey had those sorts of connections. And anyway, he goes to Durmstrang, doesn't he?"
Draco sat frozen in his seat, his fork poised halfway to his mouth. Potter was at Durmstrang? Pansy had never met him? What was going on here? Could it be... had his wish actually come true?
Draco carefully laid his fork aside and leaned back, trying to appear casual, but inside he was screaming for joy. He wanted to interrogate Pansy about Potter, or rather about the entire un-Potterness of this reality, but instead he said in an off hand way, "The slight crash I had with that insipid Gryffindor seems to have rattled my mind a bit. Tell me, what exactly has been going on in the wizarding world lately?"
Pansy looked revoltingly concerned. "Maybe you should go see the nurse," she suggested. "Oh no, I forgot, you can't. She's quite unavailable, if you know what I mean," Pansy said with a giggle.
"I don't need to see the damn nurse," Draco glared. "Just--"
"Draco," said a familiar voice from behind him. Frustrated at the interruption, Draco turned to face the speaker. "We need to talk about the plans for tonight," Ron Weasley told him quietly.
Draco glared at him arrogantly. "Weasley," he sneered, "I don't recall giving you permission to exist, much less talk to me."
Pansy gasped. "Oh, Ron!" she pleaded, "pay him no mind, he's not himself after that Quidditch match." She gave him a coy smile and fluttered her eyelashes. Draco looked from Pansy to Weasley, shocked into silence, a brutal reprimand dying on his lips. Why in the name of all that was evil was Pansy flirting--flirting!--with this Muggle-loving blood traitor? Clearly things had changed in unforeseeable ways in this reality. Changed in ways Draco found extremely disconcerting.
Ron's eyes narrowed in displeasure and grabbed Draco by the arm, hauling the smaller boy from his seat. He didn't speak until he'd dragged Draco to a little-used classroom. Once they were safely concealed, Draco pulled away, crossing his arms over his chest and giving Weasley his most hate-filled look. No one--no one--touched him without his express permission. He waited impatiently for Weasley to speak, his thin pointed face twisted in anger. How dare Weasley manhandle him like that? Who did he think he was?
Weasley glared right back at him, obviously just as angry as Draco. "Crucio," he said with a sort of calm delight, pointing his wand at Draco.
Draco had only a brief moment to feel shocked before intense pain was suddenly shooting through his entire body. His bones themselves felt as though they were crumbling into dust beneath twitching skin and clenching muscle. Just as suddenly as the pain had engulfed him it was gone, leaving him shaking and weak on the cold stone floor of the classroom.
"Need I remind you, Draco," Weasley asked with a triumphantly malicious grin, "my place in this organization? I assure you, the Dark Lord values my talents far more than he does your miserable existence. If it weren't for Ginny's ridiculous obsession, I'd have taken care of you long ago. You do nothing but ponce around and sneer. Completely useless." He practically spat with fury. "Its no wonder you're never given anything of importance to do. You'd only mess it up."
Draco shuddered on the cold stone, not attempting to stand. Shock and confusion coursed through him with the realization that in this reality, Weasley, Harry Potter's best friend, was a Death Eater in service to Potter's greatest enemy. "Where's Granger?" Draco blurted out. He didn't think he could stand it if that filthy Mudblood had been recruited as well, or worse yet, was thought well of among the Dark Lord's servants.
"She's in the holding cell, with the rest of the Mudbloods," Weasley replied. "If all goes as planned tonight, she will cease to be a nuisance to us once and for all."
Draco stood on shaky legs, taking a deep breath. "What are the plans for tonight, then?" he asked, trying to clear his racing mind. He needed to be able to think, and the curse Weasley had put on him had shaken him badly.
"We'll meet at nine tonight in the Great Hall for the ritual." Weasley's eyes took on a demonic gleam of anticipation. "Tonight will be the ultimate purifying of the wizarding world. No longer will Mudbloods and blood traitors get in our way. Just make certain to be there. I'm sure you won't want to disappoint your loving father."
Draco nodded numbly, his mind racing. His wish had changed everything, it seemed. People he had thought of as pitifully dedicated to Dumbledore were now doing the Dark Lord's bidding with relish. Mudbloods had been rounded up and placed in some kind of holding cell for whatever this ritual thing was. Tonight they'd be purifying--did that mean they were simply going to kill all the Mudbloods in school? Surely not. For some reason the idea made Draco very uneasy.
"Come along, Draco," Weasley ordered, sweeping from the classroom in a swirl of black cloak. "We have preparations to make."
Draco followed, not knowing what else to do. His mind felt numb and slow--this reality was not how he'd imagined life without Potter at all. He'd just thought maybe he'd finally win a few Quidditch matches, maybe not be compared so much to the bloody Boy Who Lived all the time. And maybe... maybe his father would be proud of him for once.
"Remind me of what exactly the ceremony entails," Draco commanded in his best impression of himself as the arrogant snob. Weasley was moving quickly through the corridors, deeper and deeper into the dungeons.
Weasley smiled gleefully. His utterly cheerful outlook on exterminating half the school was beginning to make Draco feel a bit queasy. "Its wonderful," he told Draco in an awed voice. "The Dark Lord is truly brilliant. I am not privy to the exact specifications of the spell, but its effects... it will suck the magic out of wizards and feed their power into whoever performs the ritual."
Draco stumbled a little at his words. Suck the magic out of wizards? It was the most horrifying thing Draco could imagine, apart from being Kissed by a Dementor. He shuddered. "Amazing," he agreed, trying desperately to believe it. Just then Weasley stopped abruptly. They had come to a section of the corridor in which there were several small cells dug into the walls, the openings covered with bars. Only one cell was occupied. A thin man with dark straggling hair crouched in the corner, knees drawn up to his chest, his face pressed against them.
Footsteps rang out, echoing along the dank corridor, moving slowly toward them. From the shadows on the opposite side of the cell from them emerged a girl unlike any Draco had ever seen. Her red hair hung straight to her shoulders in a gleaming mass. Her body was encased in a black, corset-like contraption that forced her flesh into lush curves. Draco wondered she could even breathe, the thing was cinched so tightly. Tight black pants clung to her thighs, ending in tall boots that clicked loudly on the flagstone floor as the flickering torch light reflected off her shimmering hair.
She ran her hands along the metal bars of the cell as she approached them, her nails ringing against them with a high pitched screeching sound that made Draco shudder. Her bottom lip stuck out in a pout, glistening dark red against her pale skin. "Bored now," she announced in a childishly singsong voice that hardly matched her looks.
She walked straight to Draco, to his immense surprise, and laying her hands delicately against his chest, she looked up at him with limpid eyes. Draco couldn't hide his shock--the girl looking up at him with intense desire in her eyes was Ginny Weasley. "Can puppy come out and play?" she asked him in a voice that managed to be both childish and seductive.
Draco had no clue what she was asking. He wanted so badly to move away from her, to run down the corridor and keep running, until he'd left the castle, left this strange reality. He found himself nodding instead. Her eyes, dark liquid pools, hypnotized him. He couldn't look away from her. He felt frozen, as if he were drowning in their amber depths.
She leaned up and gave him a scorching kiss that shocked him to his core, ravaging his lips before finally pulling away with a near painful bite. Draco stood stock still in shock, allowing her to have her way with his mouth. He was strangely attracted and repulsed at the same time. She turned away from him and Draco automatically rubbed his hand across his lips, trying to scrub away the tingling sensation that lingered there.
Weasley laughed. "Always so aloof, Draco. But you let her have her fun," he said approvingly, nodding toward Ginny. She pulled out her wand and unlocked the cell with a quick flick of her wrist. She walked slowly toward the man, her mouth curving in a smile of anticipation. He cowered away from her, scurrying toward the other end of the cell, trying to get as far from her as possible.
"Hello puppy," she said. She flicked her wand again, and the man was suddenly sprawled on his back in the center of the cell. Ginny stepped over him, a booted foot on either side of his hips. A wave of her wand caused chains to stream from the floor and wrap tightly about his bony wrists. Draco gasped at his first view of the man's face. His dark hair, frantic black eyes--Draco had seen that face on too many covers of the Daily Prophet not to recognize him as Sirius Black. Ginny stood above him, stroking her wand and gazing at Black appraisingly, a feral light in her eyes.
Ginny gave the man a wicked smile and dropped to her knees to straddle him. "Aw, puppy's being all quiet. Come on, don't be a spoil sport. Guess what today is," she said casually, as if she were holding an everyday conversation over tea and scones. Draco watched in fascinated horror as she twisted the thin fabric of Black's shirt tight in her fist and pulled, ripping it open to reveal his chest, littered with scars and half-healed wounds. Sirius whimpered feebly. Weasley laughed at the sound, enjoying the show his sister was putting on.
"Today is the ritual. Going to be a big party. Remember I told you about the ritual? All those people you tried to save? Its going to be quick for them." She trailed her fingers down his chest, digging the nails into his half healed wounds. Black whimpered and tried to look away from her. She grabbed a fistful of his mangy hair and forced his head back. "Not for you though. It'll be slow for you."
"Be more careful this time, Ginny," Weasley instructed her with an indulgent smile. "You were a little... overzealous last time."
Ginny stuck her tongue out at her brother in a weirdly childish gesture before turning back to the man struggling futilely against his chains. "That's right puppy," she smiled at him, stroking her wand lovingly, "Ginny's going to make you bark."
Draco watched in horror, feeling sick at the sight of what the girl was doing. She used her wand as a knife, cutting careful designs into the man's skin with obvious delight. The blood seemed to fascinate her, but she took real joy in Black's screams of pain. At the first bloom of red on Black's pale chest, she growled low in her throat and leaned over to lap up the liquid, closing her eyes as she savored it. She did indeed make him bark; before long his hoarse yells could be heard throughout the castle. Draco felt ill--he thought he was going to be sick at the sight of Ginny cutting into the helpless man beneath her with such malicious pleasure. Draco closed his eyes, backing away from the terrible vision. Before he had consciously made the decision to leave, he found himself running through the corridors and out onto the grounds. He didn't stop until he reached the forest, his throat raw with sobs he could no longer contain. This reality was a nightmare, he realized. As much as he hated Potter, Draco knew he couldn't stand to live in this world of torture and horror upon horror. His wish had perverted reality in some undefinably terrible way. He had to find that woman, find a way to get back home.
Suddenly the world went dark, and Draco fell heavily to the leaf-strewn forest floor.
He awoke to find a familiar face hovering above him, calling his name. His head ached, but when he tried to feel for the cause, he found he couldn't move his arms--he'd been tied down. A bolt of fear shot through him. Was he to be tortured as Black had been, then?
"Malfoy, can you hear me?" Remus Lupin was asking from above him, his face grim and his eyes hard.
"Y-yes," he whispered. "Professor Lupin?" he asked, not sure he was seeing correctly.
Lupin nodded. "I don't know about Professor, but..." he trailed off with a bitter laugh. "Now, Draco, you will tell us what is going on at the school. We know something is being planned."
"Please," Draco said frantically, "you're not a Death Eater, are you?"
Lupin laughed again. "You know very well I'm the resistance, pathetic as we may be," he said bitterly, nodding at someone to Draco's right.
Draco turned his head. Several students huddled around a small fire, looking through old books or practicing spells. He recognized Cedric Diggory with surprise--in his reality Diggory was dead. Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott were there, along with a few other Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. There were no Gryffindors in sight, nor any Slytherins, not that he'd expected to see any of them.
"Its not supposed to be like this!" he cried out desperately. "Please, Professor, you have to believe me. Harry was supposed to be here! Everything was different before. Everything was... better," he admitted with a shaky breath.
"What do you mean?" Lupin demanded. "Harry was supposed to be here? Harry Potter?"
Draco nodded emphatically. "Will you untie me, please, and I can explain?"
Lupin sighed. "Fine," he said shortly, "but don't try anything. We know what you are."
Draco rubbed his sore wrists. "Thank you," he said with sincere gratitude that surprised him. "Is there any way to contact Harry?" he asked, not believing those words had escaped his mouth. "For what they've got planned tonight... we'll need him if we're going to try and stop it happening."
"Harry?" Lupin asked with another bitter laugh. Draco frowned. It was awful to see how cynical his former professor had become. "He's cut himself off from us. Since he decided to go to Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts, he hasn't contacted any of us." He frowned. "It wasn't supposed to be this way, you know. He should've been here, with Dumbledore. Now Dumbledore is dead, and the Dark Lord has risen once again, more powerful than before. Still, there may be a way..." Lupin gave a shrill whistle. With a burst of flame a beautiful red-gold bird appeared--a phoenix. "Fawkes," Lupin petted the bird with a small smile, "I need you to take this message to Harry Potter. Just get him here, Fawkes," he added gravely as he tied a slip of parchment to the bird's clawed foot. Fawkes promptly burst into flame and was gone. Lupin leveled his wand at Draco with a steady hand. "Now tell me what precisely is going on."
Draco took a deep breath and told his story, starting with the wish he'd made to the mysterious woman and ending with Ginny's terrible games. Draco was surprised to see tears in his old professor's eyes when he told of Sirius Black's captivity, but the older man held his emotions carefully in check, never allowing the tears to fall.
"This woman," he asked thoughtfully, "what did she look like?" Draco described as much as he could remember--the scaly skin, how she had suddenly disappeared, her seemingly sympathetic nature. Lupin nodded. "Cedric," he called to the tall blond boy, "do we still have that book on Other Realm Demons?"
Cedric nodded and grabbed up one of the few dusty volumes scattered about the camp sight, books obviously stolen from the school library. He brought it to Lupin, his clear blue eyes flickering to Draco with undisguised contempt.
"I think," Lupin muttered, flipping rapidly through the ancient text, "that the woman must have been a vengeance demon of some sort. Vengeance demons grant wishes to those whose pain is so great it simply cannot be ignored. They are drawn to pain, condemned by their very natures to halt its progress. Often, however, they use their powers in such a way as to punish as many people as possible, including the one they were meant to help." He trailed his fingers along the brittle pages of the book, searching for something. "They misinterpret wishes, often tricking people into making them and then taking them quite literally. Although your wish was apparently quite straight forward."
Draco shook his head. "She didn't need to misinterpret my wish. It did plenty of damage without her even trying." He swallowed painfully over the sudden lump that had formed in his throat. "Everything is different here, and much, much worse than it ever was. Everyone is different here, more terrible and awful than I ever imagined..." He looked away from Lupin. He couldn't bear to look at the man who'd become so cynical and bitter. He, Draco, had made him that way. He had created this terrible perversion of the world.
Lupin paused at a page, reading the words rapidly. He held up the book, showing Draco a rough sketch. "Is this the woman?"
Draco studied the drawing carefully. It was her--her scaly skin and yellowed teeth, curly hair and snarling face. "Yes."
"Vengeance demon, name of Halfred," Lupin confirmed. "According to this text, we can summon her. After that we need to destroy her power source, and the spell should be broken. The world will revert to its former state, and your wish will be void." He rubbed his forehead wearily and sighed. "Cedric," he called out, "we need to get into the school, try to stop this ritual from happening and free the captives. In the meantime I'll stay here, attempt this summoning spell. Draco," he added after a moment of thought, "you'll go with them. Its time to redeem yourself."
He clapped a hand on Draco's shoulder and stared hard into the boys silvery eyes. "Don't make me regret trusting you."
Harry Potter was angry. He stared up at the castle before him, its many turrets gleaming with golden light, then back down at the slip of parchment in his hand. "You're needed here desperately," it read, "Please come to Hogwarts as quickly as can be managed." Harry's lip curled in disgust as he stared up at the seemingly peaceful castle one more. He had more important things to do than go visiting at this Disneyland rip-off of a school.
His Invisibility Cloak tight around him, Harry slipped through the front doors. A boy with red hair was speaking to a girl wearing a ridiculous amount of black leather in the front hall. He recognized them as Ron and Ginny Weasley, ring leaders in several Death Eater missions he'd fought against. Their story was tragically typical of Hogwarts' pureblood students: they'd betrayed their family, killing their unsuspecting parents after they'd tortured them for information before cruelly disposing of them. Harry fought the urge to attack right then--they weren't the Big Evil, he reminded himself. He was here for Voldemort, and Him alone.
Ron turned to a younger boy standing in the shadows, obviously waiting around to do whatever the Weasleys needed him for. "Bring up Black. Our Lord is especially interested in his essence," he told the boy.
Harry didn't know exactly what Voldemort was planning, but he knew it had to end here, tonight. The scar marring his cheek and several others littering his body attested to the fact that his short life had been spent fighting. He just wanted it to be over, one way or another. Sometimes he thought he didn't care who won anymore, as long as it simply ended and he could rest.
Harry followed the boy down several flights of steps to a dank dungeon corridor. After several minutes they came to a line of cells built into the stone walls. Harry had seen enough. The prisoner they'd been discussing would be here, somewhere close by. He threw off his cloak and Stunned the boy quickly, before he had a chance to so much as glimpse his attacker.
"Please," he heard a hoarse voice whisper from inside the nearest cell. "Please, who's there?"
Harry approached the cell, his wand raised. "Who are you?" he demanded. "Where is Voldemort?"
"James?" the man whispered, his voice a mixture of hope and disbelief. "Is that you? But you're... I've finally lost it completely." The man laughed wildly. "I've gone stark mad and now I'm seeing the dead."
"I'm not James. He was my father," Harry said gazing coldly at the man in the cell. "Now, who are you?" he asked again.
"Harry?" the man shook his head. "Is that you? Of course it is. Thank god you're here. I'm... I'm Sirius. You... you were supposed to come here. I waited. But you never came... I was supposed to help you."
Harry snorted derisively. "Help me? You're a complete wreck. Can you even stand?" he asked doubtfully.
"I... I think so." Sirius got slowly to his feet, wincing with every movement. "We need to hurry. They'll be starting the ritual any minute. You have to get me out of here, Harry."
Harry's green eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How do I know you won't attack me, that this isn't some kind of trick?" he asked. "You could have taken Polyjuice, could be Voldemort himself for all I know."
Sirius laughed bitterly, flipping open the rags of his shirt. His chest was a bloody mass of fresh wounds and old scars. "Would Voldemort lock himself in a cage and let his followers torture him?" he asked.
"I suppose not." Harry flicked his wand, unlocking the cell. "Here," he said, plucking the wand from the stunned boy's hand and handing it to Sirius. "You'll most likely need this."
"What's the plan then?" the older man asked as they made their way out of the dungeons. "Voldemort will be performing the ritual in the Great Hall. Only place he'll be able to pack in enough people."
"Then that's where I'm going," Harry said, his eyes glinting with determination. "No plan. I go in, I face him, he dies. You can try to help, doesn't much matter to me. Just don't get in my way." Harry's voice rang out cold and unfeeling in the empty corridors. Sirius shook to think that he was James's son, this cynical, cold boy. James, who had been so warm and full of humor... the boy standing next to him looked like James, but a hard life of continuous fighting, a loveless, friendless life, had turned him into the kind of cold killer James could never have been.
They reached the Great Hall and Harry disappeared beneath his cloak, leaving Sirius to mix in with the crowd of students gathering to attend the ritual. Harry slipped inside the Hall, where everyone was gathered around a wooden chair with strange bits of metal glinting at the headrest. Chains dangled from the arms of the chair, which to Harry greatly resembled the kind of old fashioned electric chairs Muggles used to execute criminals. A makeshift cage had been erected on the right side of the Hall, holding at least a hundred witches and wizards--maybe more. On a raised dais at the front of the long room stood four people--the two Weasleys, a man with white-blonde hair who Harry recognized as Lucius Malfoy, and a dark haired, hook-nosed man Harry had never seen before.
The hall grew quiet as another man--was it even a man?--stepped out from a hidden chamber to the left of the dais. Harry froze and a cold feeling of determination swept through him at his first sight of Lord Voldemort. Having regained his body nearly four years before with his acquisition of the Sorcerer's Stone, Voldemort was considered practically invincible by most. Harry knew he wasn't--the Elixir of Life was no defense against the Killing Curse, it merely allowed the drinker to live forever as long as he continued drinking. That didn't mean he couldn't be killed by ordinary means, but he'd never die of old age. No, Harry thought. He'd never reach that point anyway. He'd die that night, by his hand.
Voldemort took his place between Ron Weasley and Lucius Malfoy. "Thank you all for coming," he intoned in his high, cold voice. "Tonight you will witness my greatest accomplishment yet, a little invention of my own creation that will change the face of the Wizarding world forever. Bring out the first!" he ordered.
A boy around Harry's age was dragged forward and strapped into the chair in the center of the room. The chains snaked around his arms, trapping him. Tears streaked down his face, but he spoke not a word, lifting his chin in a mute refusal to beg and plead for mercy.
A girl with bushy brown hair ran to the front of the cage, slamming her fists against the bars ineffectively. "Neville! No!" she sobbed. Several of the other caged students began crying as well. Voldemort seemed to delight in their misery. His serpentine face split into a terrible smile.
"Let it begin," he said.
The boy who had strapped Neville into the chair nodded and touched his wand to the headrest. Immediately the strange metal pieces shot out of the chair and curved around, plunging with a sickening crunch into Neville's forehead. Harry watched the entire process calmly, coldly. It seemed to be draining the boy of something that glittered, a molten silver substance. With a furious start Harry realized the substance was the boy's magic itself. The boy collapsed into the chair as the last of his magic flowed into the metal rod jutting from his forehead. Was he dead, Harry wondered, or merely drained of all magic?
Voldemort stepped down from the dais and approached the chair. He placed his wand to a silvery knob on the back of it, and Harry watched as Neville's magic flowed into Voldemort's wand. Voldemort touched his wand to his forehead and the magic poured into the monster himself. Harry's mouth tightened into a thin, grim line. For better or worse, this would end now. He threw off his cloak and lifted his wand. "REDUCTO!"
Draco stood guarding the cage of Mudbloods as Weasley had directed him to. He'd noticed Sirius Black had slipped into the crowd, and could only hope the man was strong enough to stay on his feet once the fighting began. During the demonstration of the Chair, while everyone else was distracted by Longbottom having the magic sucked out of him, Draco turned slowly and hissed at the sobbing girl in the front of the caged crowd, "Granger!"
"Leave me alone!" she cried. "Isn't it enough that you're going to drain us all and kill us?"
"I'm getting you out of there. You'll have to trust me, we don't have much time," he muttered quietly. "At my signal, rush the crowd, try to get a wand. Tell the others. Hurry!"
Draco turned back to the scene before him. Voldemort was approaching the chair. Cedric and the other resistance members were scattered throughout the crowd, heavily cloaked so as not to be recognized.
"REDUCTO!" Draco heard a voice he recognized yell from the crowd--Potter's voice, he realized with an immense feeling of relief. If Potter was here, perhaps they stood a chance. Bodies went flying as Potter's blasting curse struck the crowd between him and Voldemort. Draco used the distraction to unlock the cage and throw open the door. The captives rushed the unwary, panicking crowd, Hermione in the lead, her teeth bared in a feral growl of rage and pain.
Draco began attacking those standing in front of him, cursing everything in sight. The world seemed to slow as he watched his classmates, teachers, friends and enemies engage in viscous battle around him. Hermione and Ron were locked in a deadly duel, fighting physically and magically. A sickening feeling of horror shot through him as the two people he had always seen as utterly devoted to each other battled for their lives. Hermione's Killing Curse hit home and she turned her back on Ron without a backward glance as he fell dead to the floor in a flash of green light.
Professor Snape and his father dueled as well. Ginny saw this and yelled a curse at Snape's unguarded back. Draco watched as his father spit hatefully on the other man, a man Draco had always looked up to and admired, his mouth forming the word "traitor."
Sirius Black fought with a vengeance that surprised Draco, killing whoever got in his way, clearly trying to protect Harry. And in the middle of it all, Harry and the Dark Lord approached each other slowly with wands raised, their eyes locked, ignoring everything else around them.
They both yelled at the same time. "Avada Kedavra!" Their voices rang out, nearly lost in the chaos of flying curses and terrified screams. Draco watched with a terrifying feeling of sadness and horror as Harry's curse missed... and Voldemort's struck its mark. Harry's wide green eyes went suddenly blank, his mouth stuck in a grim, resolved line as he fell backwards into Sirius Black's arms. The last thing Draco saw before the world went dark was Sirius Black, sobbing over the dead body of his godson.
Remus Lupin's hand shook as he picked up a large goblet containing a mixture of herbs and powders. With his other hand he dropped a pinch of herb into the goblet, carefully reading the words from the open book in front of him.
"Oh, Halfred I beseech thee," he said, sure that this strange spell was never going to work, "in the name of all children in pain..." he added the last ingredient carefully, "...come before me." Finished, he set the goblet down and looked around the circle of trees.
Remus hadn't really expected the spell to work. It wasn't the average spell, after all, more like an outdated form of a very complicated potion. And the invocation aspect of the spell... he'd never encountered a demon before, had thought they were myths, really. Draco's story had given him a brief glimmer of hope. If there was any chance to change the horror of this world, he had to take it.
As he finished the incantation, thunder rumbled low across the sky and the wind whipped through the ancient trees of the Forbidden Forest, blowing out the candles Remus had lit for the spell. The sky seemed to darken suddenly, and Remus jumped in surprise when he heard a low, terrible voice from behind him.
"Do you have any idea what I do to a man who uses that spell to summon me?"
Remus turned and could only stare at the hideous creature before him, speechless. She was just as Draco had described--no, worse. Words could not accurately convey the way her skin puckered and stretched over the bones of her face, her nose flat and snake-like. He shuddered at the sight of her.
"Draco Malfoy, he made a wish to you. What... what did you do?" Remus asked.
"I had no idea his wish would be so exciting," Halfred smiled maliciously. "Brave new world. I hope he likes it."
"You're going to change it back," Remus growled, his anger rising to the surface. Exciting? She thought Draco's wish had been exciting?! This world, the only world he had ever known, was nothing short of horrifying, and this woman--this thing--was laughing about it?! Remus pulled out his wand and pointed it at the demon, his hand shaking with rage and fury. He had no idea if spells would work on her at all, but he had to try. He'd been sitting on this situation for too long, accepting that this was his life, his world, for too long. It was time to really make a difference in this war, for better or worse. It was time to end it.
"Oooh, a wand!" Halfred mocked. She took a step closer to him.
"I... I'm not afraid of you," Remus said with a glare as the demon continued to close the space between them. "Your power lies only in the wishing."
"Wrong!" Halfred yelled. She grabbed for him, her fist closing about his neck. She slammed him up against a tree. "This is the world we made," she hissed in his ear. "Isn't it wonderful?"
Remus was choking, could feel his breath deserting him. His eyes darted around frantically in his head, finally locking on a glowing amulet encircling the demon's neck. He recognized the necklace immediately as the power source he'd read about in the text on Other World demons. If he destroyed it, would the world revert to its proper form?
Remus began to struggle in earnest, using all his strength against the demonically strong creature. He growled, feeling the wolf within him rise. After all, he himself wasn't completely human, now was he? Remus reached for the amulet, causing Halfred to stumble back in fear, her eyes wild.
Remus pointed his wand at her once more. "Accio Amulet!" he cried out. The necklace ripped itself from her neck with the power of his spell and flew into his outstretched hand. Bending down, Remus picked up the nearest rock and held it high above the glowing stone of the amulet. Halfred watched in horror, weakened without her power source.
"You trusting fool!" she shrieked. "How do you know the other world is any better than this? How do you know you're even alive in that world?"
Remus stared at her, tears in his eyes. "Because it has to be. I have to believe," he told her, his voice hoarse with emotion. His own existence seemed insignificant now, when faced with the prospect of a world free from the terrible rule of Voldemort. He would rather cease to exist in a free world, than remain enslaved in this one. "I have to believe in a better world than this... this hell we're living in."
"No!" she screamed.
Remus slammed the rock down onto the amulet. It shattered in a burst of white light that blinded him and encompassed the world in a blaze of heat and flame.
"I wish Harry Potter had never come to Hogwarts."
"Done," Halfred said with a smile. Nothing happened. Draco scoffed.
"If only. No, I wish Harry Potter had never been born!" He headed towards the stairs leading down from the Astronomy Tower.
"Done!" Halfred shouted in frustration. Nothing happened.
She followed Draco into the school. "No, even better! I wish Harry Potter was the worst flier in existence! Even worse than that Mudblood Granger."
"Done!" Halfred yelled, but it was no use. She reached for her amulet, her power source, only to find her neck bare and cold. It was gone.
"No!" she cried out, but Draco wasn't listening. He headed for the Great Hall, still muttering all the horrible things he'd like to see happen to Harry. He reached the hall and sat down heavily at the Slytherin table with his friends. They joined in his vengeful musings with relish, each imagining terrible fates for Potter and his friends.
Draco glanced over at the Gryffindor table to give a good glare and a bit of a sneer at the object of their discussion. Potter, Weasley, and Granger were deep in conversation, probably plotting new ways to save the school from unspeakable evil, Draco mused. Ginny plunked herself down across from Harry, and whatever she said made them all laugh themselves silly like the foolish Gryffindors they were.
For some reason, though, the sight of them smiling and joking gave him a strange feeling of comfort. He looked away from the Gryffindors with a sigh, and turned back to his friends.