Harry Potter: Lord of Darkness

Check & Mate

Lord of Darkness

Check & Mate

***One day ownership will be mine... BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY! ***

*Follow me on the Twitters at AngelSlayer135 for occasional progress updates on stories

***LoD***

Moments before Umbridge entered the Wizengamot chamber

"Excuse me, Madam Bones, could I talk to you for a second?"

The director of the DMLE paused in her travel towards the meeting to notice Sirius Black hurrying to catch up with her, "Ah, Lord Black how can I help you today?"

Waving off her formality the man gestured to an open space out of the hallway, "Just hoping for a bit of an update, with Harry being an obvious target by at least Umbridge we have been worried about him."

Amelia nodded, "Yes I can imagine. You were an Auror once, so you know I cannot give you details on an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you that thus far we have not had much luck in tracking her down. Between interviewing teachers, dealing with potential corruption in the department, press interviews, tracking Death Eaters, and now this…"

The Black Lord raised his hands in mock surrender, "Hey I know you and your department are working hard. Despite my brief stay at Azkaban I remember what it was like dealing with all that crap. I just want to know what I should be expecting."

"Of course, perhaps we can catch up a bit more after the meeting? I will make some tea in my office if you would like."

His patented 'foxy' grin reappeared, "And if you don't mind me being a tad late, I have heard you enjoy biscuits from a certain well-known baker just down the street…"

She flushed slightly in embarrassment, before he offered his arm and began to lead her towards the meeting sanctuary. By the time they had taken five steps, however, an ear-shattering explosion erupted, shaking the building and causing both to fight for their footing for a moment.

Both adults stared at each other, before sprinting towards the, thankfully closed, doors and pulling them open. Eyes widening, they observed the chaos present before them.

It looked as though a bomb had gone off at the center of the room. Bodies were thrown about haphazardly. The floor, and many of the desks that would be used by the members, were stained red with blood and moans of pain echoed in a horrible symphony that reminded both adults far too much of the previous war.

"B-bloody hell..."

Seconds later other Aurors began to arrive one immediately raising the question that the others were thinking, "Wh-what happened here!?"

The Director immediately shifted into her 'Auror mode', as she called out orders, "Get the wounded out and to St. Mungos, tell them it is an emergency and to lock down their facility for anything but extreme cases and to call in all hands. Begin locking down the Ministry."

A younger Auror nodded, before raising his Wand to begin levitating a nearby injured politician, before Sirius practically jumped him, "No don't!"

"The hell is your..."

"We don't know what caused this you moron! You cast a spell in here and you could trigger another explosion due to unstable Magic!"

Madam Bones bit back a few choice curses. The former convict was right, it wasn't common, but such situations had been encountered during the previous war with the Dark Lord's 'experimentations', "Lord Black is correct, start carrying out anyone you can move without complicating their condition. Sirius could you..."

"Already on it, I'll start with the opposite side."

***LoD***

It was rather amusing, the boy-who-lived noted as he strolled down the deserted hallway of the Ministry. Such a thing would be unheard of during normal business hours, but his little act of 'retaliation' had Ministry officials running around like terrified children, making slipping in unnoticed almost trivial. Really, he could have snuck in without such a distraction, but this way was just so much more fun, and useful for the future. If he was going to steal something why not remind Dumbledore why the older man shouldn't mess with his followers in the process?

Still, his destination was close by, the 'Department of Mysteries'.

"Such a dull name for something so... mysterious." he noted as the sealed doors opened before him with a slight gesture. This single act immediately brought the attention of several Unspeakables, who moved to confront the boy.

"Halt, you can't..." All of them promptly froze, eyes glazing over, before they began muttering to themselves and wandering off in random directions, oblivious to the events around them. Really it was quite rude of them to interrupt his afternoon stroll, who did they think they were after all? He had originally considered just massacring the group, but it was far more fun to play the political game for the time being, and a group of bodies would not aid in that agenda.

"Love Chamber, dull. Space Chamber, slightly less dull. Death Chamber, mildly interesting... ah here we are, Brain Room." With that the student strolled inside, to find what he was looking for.

***LoD***

"Malfoy, hey can you hear me, you alright Lucius?"

"B-Black?"

Sirius nodded, before crouching lower to the blonde, "Everything still attached? Bleeding anywhere?"

"What happened?"

"No time, we need to get you out of here. Is anything hurting more than normal? Anything broken?"

"N-no..."

The Black Lord gave another nod, before slinging the injured man's arm over his shoulder and gently lifting him up, earning a groan of pain. "Yeah yeah suck it up, at least you are still in one-piece you whiner. Others aren't so lucky."

Looking around, though his vision was still blurry and his ears ringing, Malfoy noted that the man's words were correct. More than a few bodies visible from his vantage point were torn apart in ways that made him wretch.

"Try not to puke on me alright? I still have more people to try and pull out of this catastrophe."

The blonde could barely wrap his head around the situation, and absently noticed his voice was beginning to tremble due to the shock, "Wh-where are we going?"

"Just outside, we have stretchers being setup to take you to St. Mungos, but we need to get everyone out of the room first. No idea how stable it is, and we can't start Magical treatment until you are clear."

"N-Narcissa?"

"She's being called in. Do you want me to try and get her assigned to you?"

Lucius had just enough clarity to give a slight shake of his head, "No... too much emotional attachment."

Sirius shook his head just as the man passed out, going limp against him. "Figures, you would be awake just enough to make my life more difficult..."

***LoD***

With his initial 'choice' made, and several more Unspeakables left wandering off in random directions, Harry casually walked back into the main hallway when another door caught his eye, "Time Room... how interesting..."

A glance around showed no one else in the area, earning a slight grin as the teen went exploring once more.

***LoD***

Narcissa Malfoy fought the urge to strangle her, currently unconscious, husband. Apparently, the man was stubborn enough to make a request to her cousin so that she would not be the one to treat him.

'If only Bellatrix was trained… or not wanted for murder, how fun it would be to have him waking up to her care.' The woman mused before shaking her head. It didn't really matter anyway, because the former Black daughter had a backup plan. Sure, it technically meant she would owe her older sister a favor, but she had been meaning to come up with more excuses for them to interact.

The three women had been apart for far too long.

"Mrs. Malfoy?" The woman glanced up, noticing the questioning look in one of the nurses' eyes, "Do you want to take over treatment of your husband or…"

A quick shake of her head answered the question, "No, my cousin informed me that Lucius did not want any conflict of interest. Please have him moved to my sister Andromeda's care. A nod of understanding from the, slightly pretty, girl confirmed she understood as the matron moved onto the next victim.

It was going to be a long day.

***LoD***

Amidst the chaos currently consuming the Ministry the arrival of Albus Dumbledore went relatively unnoticed, that is until he approached Amelia Bones directly and announced his presence.

"Director... what happened here?"

The woman seemed to be in an odd state somewhere between collapsing from exhaustion and running a marathon. Combined with the constant orders she was giving to virtually everyone who entered the room, and the Headmaster was relieved that he had finally found the person in charge.

The madam gave a short nod to him, before directing another handful of Aurors, and gave a slight gesture for him to follow her into a vacant office. Once there, and the door shut behind them, the woman seemed to fall into one of the empty chairs.

"Amelia?"

"There was an attack Albus... on the Ministry itself."

His eyes widened, before hardening a moment later. Clearly the Death Eaters had no intention of remaining dormant as they had hoped. "What do you know?"

"Less than four hours ago an explosion took place in the Wizengamot Chamber. There was a meeting scheduled for minutes after the incident, so we assume that the members were the target. Thus far we can confirm over twenty dead. I have called for an evacuation of all levels of the Ministry and a full sweep by Aurors."

"Do we know how the attacker entered?" he questioned, earning a defeated shake of her head. "I see... are there any..."

A knocking on the door cut the man off, before a younger individual's voice called for the Director once more, upon hearing her consent an Auror stepped in, before giving a slight bow to both individuals, "Uhm Director we found something..."

She nodded, before waving her hand for him to continue.

"As you know all meetings of the Wizengamot are recorded for official record unless declared otherwise."

Both elders nodded, "I am aware, continue."

"Er, well ma'am we found that the record book had been secured at such an angle that it received only minimal damage, and well..."

"It recorded who committed this attack?"

The young man nodded, before gently handing the book over.

"Dolores Umbridge."

***LoD***

Despite his injuries the Malfoy Lord had been released after less than a day at St. Mungos. Apparently, there were far more urgent patients, and save for the dulling pain he was given a clean bill of health.

Returning home, he idly wondered where the Potter heir would be at that point of the day. With the holidays in effect the students had been given a rare opportunity, the right to move back and forth between their homes and Hogwarts through Floo, and carriage, travel. Most, naturally, had chosen to stay home but it appeared that the raven-haired teen had opted to go back and forth.

"Welcome home Lucius." Narcissa pleasantly intoned as the man slowly made his way into the living room, a slight limp in his step from the pain still present. "Draco will be down shortly with our Lord."

The man's eyes widened in surprise, before giving a curt nod and eyeing his favorite chair longfully. He wanted to just sit down and relax but knew that it was not proper to do so, especially when their Lord was in the house. He would need to bear the pain and wait until...

"Take a seat Lucius, you know I don't care whether you act all prim and proper around me." Harry's voice sounded from behind him, causing the Pureblood to jolt in surprise as he turned around.

"M-my Lord I..."

"You are still in pain, take a seat and relax."

"Th-thank you my Lord..." the blonde stuttered, before collecting his pride, calming his heart rate, and slowly dropping himself into the cushiony object with a sigh. The teen took a seat on the couch opposite, while his son took a spot on the other end. Moments later his wife reentered with a tray of refreshments for the group.

"I see you are recovering quite nicely."

The Malfoy Lord nodded, "I am, the healers estimate I will be fully mobile within the next day or two at most, and pain free by the end of the holidays if I am able to minimize physical activity and stress." A moment later he took the offered glass of, rather expensive, alcohol offered by the matron of his house, while she herself paused to assess where to sit.

"Anywhere you would like Lady Malfoy." The boy said, answering the unspoken question.

'Probably doesn't realize that she would prefer to be sitting in his lap' Lucius mentally mused, as his wife took a spot between the two teens, although slightly closer to Harry than her own son.

"Now then, I assume you have questions?"

"I..." the blonde paused, it was a rather delicate situation. How did one question their Lord about a potential assassination attempt made on their own person? "I do, my Lord, if you do not mind."

A carefree wave urged the man on.

"Shall I assume that you were the one behind the attack?"

"In a sense. Can't be wasting a loyal follower, now can we? That does remind me that I need to pay Bella and Luna a visit before going back to Hogwarts though. Your sister-in-law has been rather insistent lately."

Noticing his own wife's struggle to contain her sarcastic comment the older man made the connection instantly. Bellatrix was clearly whining about not getting enough sex... again. Still it wasn't his concern, or place, to question his Lord's carnal habits, even if his own wife was involved. "Have I... displeased you my Lord?"

The boy quirked his head to the side slightly, "No, have you done something lately that you believe would displease me Lucius?"

He wanted to claim 'no' but who could honestly say? Perhaps his Lord was simply fulfilling his retribution for all his previous betrayals. "I have not, but... well I was part of the attack you planned... my Lord."

Okay, so it came out a bit more petulant than the blonde had intended, but he had almost been blown up.

"Yes... and yet you are still breathing, with all of your limbs still attached I might add. Do you truly believe that is by accident Lucius? If I was displeased with you then neither of these things would be true right now."

The older man's eyes widening in realization, and more than a little shock. In that moment the Malfoy Lord understood exactly how dangerous the boy could be. Not only had he pulled off a massive assassination on one of the most guarded groups of individuals in the Wizarding World, but he had done so in such a way that he controlled how much damage had been done.

"The fact of the matter is," the teen continued on, snapping the blonde from his own thoughts, "that you are in a rather powerful position right now Lucius. Your influence in the Wizengamot has more than tripled with the thinned-out numbers. Minister Fudge will be blamed for this entire situation, which gives you a chance to recoup your political status as Minister, and you have the sympathy card to play with your injuries. Hell, I imagine you could even try and get some sort of medal bestowed upon the survivors of the attack, thus giving you an appeal to the more militant in our society."

The boy-who-lived was right, he hadn't considered all the political ramifications that one simple act could cause. The Ministry was still in a very vulnerable state, the people were terrified, and the normal sides were being rearranged faster than Severus could drop Gryffindor's House Points.

"Ah, I see you are finally grasping my vision... well the parts I have given you a glimpse of at least. This isn't quite the end, but the dominoes have already begun to fall."

Before he could make any further comments, Narcissa broke her silence, "Thank you my Lord for such a generous gift you have bestowed upon my husband and family." One did not need to be a Slytherin to hear the purr in her voice. "I do so hope you will be staying the night here, I have missed your presence around the house."

Even Draco rolled his eyes at the blatant flirting.

***LoD***

"You did not mention his planned attack."

"That is because he didn't mention it. I cannot read his mind you know, and even if I could I wouldn't be stupid enough to try. Clearly you can tell he is dangerous."

Dumbledore gave a defeated sigh, "Yes, that much is abundantly clear."

The schoolboy nodded curtly, before turning to leave. "I will speak with him and attempt to find out why, but knowing him..."

"His plan may very well reveal itself in the next few days." The Headmaster finished, "Perhaps a more direct approach is required."

Nott shrugged, "Most of the Slytherins are gone for the holidays like usual, but he remained behind. If you are going to act, it would be best before the others return." With that he left, leaving Dumbledore to silently ponder the boy's words.

***LoD***

Silence

An almost unnerving quiet blanketed the Slytherin common room, one that Harry had nearly forgotten about. There were no students around, and even his female followers of different Houses had left for the break, at his own request. To say they had been a bit upset was an understatement, but he had assured them that it was necessary for his plans, and that was true. The situation would not be nearly as successful with others constantly following him around.

He was sure they would be upset with him afterwards though.

Still, there was no avoiding it. The last part of his plan, a project that one of the former Death Eaters had been working on, had just been delivered to him the night prior, which meant that now all he had to do was wait.

"Funny…" he whispered to the empty room, "In the end it all comes down to the actions of another." For a brief moment the teen thought that maybe Dumbledore wouldn't take the bait, that maybe he would choose a more diplomatic option.

But those thoughts passed a second later, floating away into the soft crackle of the nearby fire. He had an odd habit of second guessing himself when he was completely alone, something that had emerged when he was still at the orphanage.

Harry was sure that the Headmaster would make his move, as sure as the sun would rise the next morning. The only thing he wasn't sure of was the outcome of their next encounter. There was a possibility, and really it always existed, that he wouldn't be walking away alive. His thoughts shifted like a gentle breeze, images of those he cared about flashing before him as a smile formed on his lips, before falling.

"They will be okay. Even if the worst happens, they will be okay, I made sure of it." He wasn't exactly sure who he had been trying to convince in those few moments, but the only one person in the room couldn't even believe himself.

***LoD***

Attack on the Ministry leaves Wizengamot crippled!

A deep sigh escaped the lips of Amelia Bones as she dropped the front page of the Daily Prophet onto the large wooden table. She knew that the truth would get out, it was hopeless to try and hide something like this, but she had also hoped for another day or two of crisis management before the full scope of what occurred was circulated.

As it was the attack had happened less than forty-eight hours prior, and the Ministry was still in absolute chaos. Most employees had not returned, and the few that had were mostly being denied access to the building for safety and investigative purposes.

All active Auror vacations and time off had been canceled and all officers put on mandatory overtime until the crisis was resolved. The initial investigation, and the few interviews that had taken place, all pointed to the fact that Dolores Umbridge had in fact been the source of the explosion, and that it had taken her with it.

The sound of footsteps brought the woman from her pondering as a man entered the room with a slight grin on his face, one that, despite knowing it was fake, still brought a smile to her own.

"Well good afternoon young lady, I was just in the area and thought I would stop by for some tea, would you care for a cup?"

"Hello to you too Sirius."

The Marauder's chuckle filled the underground chamber as he took a seat near her, "So... I'm the second one to show up huh... you know it is bad when I'm not late."

Before she could reply another voice called from the hallway as a pair entered from the same direction, "Or this place is just bloody hard to find."

"Or you are just really bad at following directions Frank. Seriously Alice, why do you keep that man around?" The Black Lord teased as the Longbottoms entered the room.

"What can I say, I have gotten used to him and it is just far too much of a hassle to look elsewhere." The woman replied in a similar tone, earning a pout from her husband as they too took seats. Within twenty minutes the other chairs had been filled, the remainder of the Wizengamot now fitting around a single round table. Of the original fifty-seven members, only fifteen remained.

"So, what's on the agenda?"

Lucius spoke up first, flinching slightly from the pain still present in his arm, "I think the most important order of business is securing the Ministry and preventing this sort of thing from happening again. Has there been any progress in the investigation Director?"

"Some, we are working under the assumption that Umbridge was not working alone, based upon her ability to not only gain access to the Ministry itself, but also the explosive device she used."

"Any more information on that?"

Bones nodded, "It wasn't easy, with the little that remained, but the initial analysis has shown that is appears to be a mixture of several different compounds. We can say for certain that a few of them are from the Muggle world, while the only one identified that is Magical, thus far, has been Dragon's Blood."

"An odd choice," Lucius noted, "Combining ingredients in such a way is incredibly difficult and dangerous. If someone were trying to make a weapon there would be easier means of doing so."

"But not if they wanted something to slip through security." Sirius chimed in, "Assuming that things haven't changed much from when I was an Auror, the only objects to receive a full scan are packages above two liters in volume. If we take that into account, the number of methods that ensure large scale destruction drop dramatically."

"They could have used an artifact though, or Charmed a bag to bring more in." Frank Longbottom remarked.

The Lord of the Black House nodded, "Yeah, but I don't think it's a coincidence that it took Umbridge with it. I mean if someone else is pulling the strings then they wouldn't want it linked back to them. Any object that survived could be a link. They probably figured that we wouldn't look into the Muggle side and stick with Magical causes."

"And we almost did, the only reason we even thought to check this route was an offhand comment made by one of our Muggleborn Aurors about remembering the smell from her father's collection of firearms."

"So, gunpowder was one of the chemicals?"

She nodded, "It was. It appears the attacker wanted to combine several very unstable substances into a single container. Best we can figure they did so and immediately and placed it under some sort of stasis Charm that would deactivate upon use of a trigger."

"Do we have any further clues on motive?"

"Nothing concrete yet," the eldest present noted in a slight amount of defeat. "Our original assumption was that the Wizengamot was the target, but we have also found well over a dozen Unspeakables wandering about on the lower levels, seemingly unaware of their surroundings. This could also have all been part of a much larger plan to acquire some sort of artifacts or knowledge as well."

Silence fell on the room once more, until it was broken in a softer tone, "Not that I want to be the first to make the accusation..." one of the younger members called out, "but have we heard any word on Fudge? He was rather close to the woman, after all, and her own journal has revealed an almost zealous focus on him. Not only that but he would have had a good deal of knowledge about security and the layout of the levels containing the Unspeakables."

The other members shifted around, more than a little uncomfortable with how the conversation was going, despite having similar thoughts.

"We... have not found any signs of him yet, no. With all of our officers pulled back to work on securing the Ministry..."

Sirius interrupted, this time with understanding in his voice, "Amelia we get it, way too much going on and not enough Aurors to do even the normal duties. This entire year has been one giant disaster from the start. Let's just hope luck is on our side for once and we get a bit of a reprieve."

***LoD***

He may have fooled the others, even Amelia Bones, but Dumbledore knew who was truly responsible for the attack. Theodore's information, along with the testimonies of both Cedric and Victor Krum from the previous year, all pointed to Harry's involvement. But this was a far greater escalation than he had originally anticipated.

The article written about Corenlius Fudge was an obvious retaliation against their move against Lucius Malfoy, and there would undoubtedly be more damage done once the boy decided to act against his own neutralization of the Delacour sisters and Tonks.

Albus Dumbledore let out a mental sigh as he moved through the near-empty halls of Hogwarts. He hadn't wanted to do such things, but it had been imperative to remove as much of Harry's own influence as possible. He would not make the same mistakes as he had against Tom Riddle decades prior. Voldemort had been allowed to grow unchecked, to build influence without any interruption.

Not this time.

But then Harry had gone and committed this atrocity, to destabilize the government in such a way that it could cause a potential civil war, with the teen himself the obvious intended victor. No, he would not allow such a thing, even if it meant going against every moral code, against every principle he held sacred.

Harry Potter must be stopped, and Albus Dumbledore knew he was likely the only one left who would, much less could, accomplish such a feat. But action had to be taken immediately, the teen, Albus flinched when he realized just how young the killer was, would be far too secure during the summers and acting with other, innocent, students nearby was out of the question.

That left him with only a few short days to act. The staff was at an all-time low due to the investigations and holidays, which meant that now would be his best opportunity. The only time he had to take the life of a Dark Lord before more could be lost.

Albus Dumbledore focused on the future, and the good that would be done with one act of violence, before steeling himself and entering the Grand Hall, where he knew the boy was currently eating.

***LoD***

"Hermione, could you pass the potatoes please." Fleur requested, her voice subdued and almost empty. It wasn't her fault though, she hadn't seen Harry in months and had been more than a little upset when she had learned he wouldn't be spending the holidays at home with them. All of the other girls had returned, even Hermione and Luna, but he had stayed at Hogwarts for 'various reasons.'

It wasn't as though she didn't like spending time with the others, both she and her sister loved being around them, but there was just something about Harry that made everything different. Life was more beautiful around him, more fun. She could have a conversation about anything with the teen and he would often add in comments that she didn't even know about originally.

"Here" a bookworm replied, her tone virtually matching the Veela's, and the sadness in her eyes telling the blonde all she needed to know. It wasn't just Gabbie and her that missed Harry, it was all of them.

Ginny let out a sigh from nearby, she had been alternating between spending time with her family and the others for the break thus far, but still felt rather lonely overall, "Could someone get me a refill?"

Her, normally chipper, best friend nodded, taking the glass and moving to the nearby counter where the juice was sitting. Just as she reached out for it Luna froze, her eyes widening as the cup fell from her hand, shattering on the ground and breaking the silence.

"Luna? What is…"

Tonk's question died on her lips, watching in horror as the young girl's eyes filled with tears, her hands flying up to her mouth in silent horror. They all knew she had seen something, but what they hadn't known was the image she beheld.

Harry, barely upright, covered in his own blood with Dumbledore's Wand pointing at him preparing for the final blow.

"HARRY!"

***LoD***

The Headmaster met the gaze of the only other person in the room, "Harry" he called out.

The boy's face remained passive, even if his gaze was intently focused on the elder Wizard, eyes widening in shock a second later.

"It is time…" With that, Dumbledore diverted his attention to the doors for a split second, and a wave of his Wand sealed the room, ensuring that the few other students or staff could not interrupt. Because of this he missed a slight gesture from his target that took place under the table.

"It is over Harry. All of your lies, your manipulations… it ends today."

The Potter heir's head tilted to the side, "I'm not quite sure what you are talking about Headmaster. If anyone is manipulating things it seems to be you." With that single declaration the atmosphere went from calm and serene to hurricane-like in an instant. Dumbledore's Wand rose in an instant, firing a barrage of spells while his intended target fell backwards from the bench he had been sitting on, narrowly avoiding the flurry and flipping the table up on its side as a makeshift barrier.

A second later the wooden shield was tossed across the room by the older man's Magic, only to find his prey had used the time to move further down, and sent a few stunning and disarming Charms in retaliation, to have them swept aside by the Supreme Warlock.

"I am disappointed Harry, I thought you would put up a better fight than this."

***LoD***

Frowning, Albus Dumbledore raised another Magical Shield, harmlessly dissipating the spells cast by the boy-who-lived. Something was wrong, he just didn't exactly know why. By all accounts Harry should be even more powerful than Tom was, and yet he was dueling at a level that, although impressive for someone his age, was not nearly up to par to defeating a Dark Lord.

Why was he holding back? Why was the teen purposefully avoiding his more powerful spells and Magic?

A thought emerged in the older man's mind, perhaps he wasn't. Maybe Harry had been enhanced when facing Tom for the same reason he had survived the Killing Curse all those many years prior? Perhaps when he had faced down Quirrel, Lockhart, and the Basilisk he had used a potion or ritual to enhance himself ahead of time? None of the deaths in question, which the elderly Wizard now knew had all been the Potter heir from the start, had been instantaneous battles. No, they all bore the signature of someone who knew what they were undertaking. A casual certainty that one wielded when victory was assured.

If that was the case Dumbledore knew that he had to end the battle before the teen could escape. Should Harry be allowed to develop a strategy against his own casting the results could be disastrous.

"So, I feel the need to ask Headmaster," the boy called out from where, it seemed, he had taken a slight break to catch his breath. "What exactly did I do to earn apparent execution from the great 'Champion of the Light'?"

Dumbledore shook off the warnings going through his mind about pausing their duel, surely no one deserved to die without knowing why? Not only that but it certainly would ease his own conscious to speak the boy's sins out loud.

"Where to begin my boy? Your dealings with Lucius Malfoy perhaps?"

Even from where he was standing the Supreme Warlock could see the boy roll his eyes, "Oh yes, I forgot, supporting a politician is punishable by death now. Obviously, Fudge was a much better Minister of Magic, right? I mean it isn't like he put Soul devouring monsters at Hogwarts to kill an innocent man. You know rumor has it that he is under investigation for the attack on the Wizengamot, are you so sure that you have your allegiances straight?"

Frowning, the older man considered going over the facts once more but denied himself at the last possible second. No, there was no more time for second guessing, for over analyzing, or for doubts. Once more Albus raised his Wand and unleashed a torrent of lethal spells, once more Harry was able to dive out of the path in the nick of time, swearing as he did so.

***LoD***

"You know sir…" Harry gasped out as his free hand gripped just a bit tighter over the wound on his other arm, trying to slow the blood loss with pressure, "I am starting to think you want me dead."

Albus chuckled, leave it to a Potter to find humor even in the face of death. The thought of explaining his actions to the boy's parents upon his own passing filled him with dread, but he pushed it aside. There would be time to face all those he harmed, directly or indirectly, when the time came.

"I am sorry you feel that way my boy. Rest assured I had truly hoped it would never come to this, that you would have been able to find your way back to the light."

The attempted snort was interrupted by a deep, and slightly bloody, cough. Moments later the teen had recovered enough to give his reply, "We both know that isn't true. Ever since I started at Hogwarts you have been throwing life-or-death problems at me. The troll that just happened to sneak its way into the castle, the Professor that you all claimed left for family problems but was murdered, the artifact you held in the castle to lure in the Dark Lord… and that was just my first year! The Basilisk in my second, Dementors in the third… and let's not forget the disaster that was last year."

Dumbledore frowned, he wasn't quite sure what the boy would gain from blaming him for all these things, but he wasn't about to play along. "I fail to see why these were my fault Harry, as for last year…"

"Oh please, do you really expect me to believe you never once suspected Alastor Moody, one of your closest friends, to be a Death Eater in disguise? Hell, even Professor Snape had suspicions, but you brushed him off, didn't you? Told him to ignore his gut and just continue like usual, and the other years, really? You chose to use Hogwarts as a trap for an evil spirit. You ignored the warning signs of the attacks from the Basilisk until someone died. You allowed the Dementors to go unopposed, and for students to be placed in harm's way for things as insignificant as Quidditch."

"There were other circumstances Harry, the greater good to be taken into account…" the Headmaster tried to argue, only to earn another laugh, this time showing off the blood-covered teeth of the boy, courtesy of a blasting Curse he had taken to the torso minutes earlier.

A few seconds of laughter quickly devolved into coughing as the boy bent over one of the few remaining chairs that hadn't been destroyed in the duel. The Grand Hall now resembled more of a war zone than a place for children to sit down and eat. "Greater good…" the teen muttered, shaking his head wearily, "what a pathetic excuse. Your 'greater good' is however you define it, and you have declared that anything opposing your own views is 'evil'. That was why you had professor Snape removed, because he would no longer march to your drum at your whim. That was why you put Umbridge at the school too, wasn't it? How much did Cornelius Fudge pay you to put her in power over children hm? How much blood money did you receive?"

Albus opened his mouth to answer, but found no words would come out, and merely closed his jaw instead, earning the shaking of a young boy's head. "Or maybe… maybe it wasn't him after all. Maybe it was you. All of this: the possessed professor, the monster, the Dementors, the impersonated best friend… Umbridge, all of it to test, and kill me, isn't that right?"

"Harry, I assure you that none of this…"

"All because you wanted your perfect little soldier, your martyr. But when I didn't die, when I stole your glory from you and destroyed Voldemort, that was when you made the decision to turn me into the enemy… wasn't it?"

Eyes widening in shock Dumbledore stood frozen, trying desperately to connect what Harry was saying and make sense of it. "Harry… what are you…"

"I know sir, about the prophecy, about your plan, about the piece of Voldemort's soul that was stuck inside of me. So, what was the plan hm? Let Voldemort kill me in the graveyard and then triumphantly stroll in and claim victory over another Dark Lord?"

"H-Harry… you weren't… how did…"

The boy managed a scoff, despite the fact he was barely able to stand even while heavily leaning on an object for support, "My mother and father told Sirius, just in case, and he took me to hear the prophecy the first summer we spent together. You know he also mentioned that it had been your idea for the Fidelius Charm, and that you had hinted about using Peter for the Secret Keeper. Did you plan their murders too? Was Sirius being sent to Azkaban all part of your master plan? With all the political power you wield it seems hard to fathom that you couldn't have gotten him a trial. So, tell me sir where do your manipulations end?"

Falling silent, the Headmaster bowed his head in contemplation, he had been confronted with his own sins, or at least how they were perceived by the child, and found wanting. What would he do now?

"I… I am sorry Harry, truly I am, for everything that has befallen you. If I had been a better Magical Guardian, checked up on you then maybe…"

"Maybe what" the boy spat in outrage, his eyes practically aflame with rage. "Maybe I wouldn't have grown up in a bloody orphanage? Maybe I would have been with those who would have cared for me, shown me love and attention? Maybe I would have turned into your perfect little obedient tool!? Well no thanks, I would rather be denied affection and a family than turn into a mindless weapon for your glory. To hell with you. You might play God with people's lives, treating them like bloody Chess pieces in your great scheme but I am not one of them. I walk my own path, you miserable bastard."

With that last act of defiance, the strength left him, and Harry collapsed onto the ground, his back being held up only by the wall behind him, watching as the elderly man gave a solemn nod and slowly approached, Wand raising as he did so. "You are right Harry, you have always walked your own path, and I am proud of you for that… but this is the end."

A last laugh escaped the boy's lips, "Well, you are right about one thing. This is the end…" with that he gave a slight nod to his right, which Dumbledore followed with his own gaze. The slightest sparks of Magic from the boy dropped the Cloak of Invisibility to the floor, revealing a glowing orb that it had been covering since the start of the fight.

A Viewing Orb, identical to the one that Voldemort had used a year and a half prior floated motionlessly in the air.

"Checkmate"

***LoD***