A/N: This is it, the story I originally set out to write. Defining Moments, as it turns out, was simply back-story to this story. Just call me George Lucas.
None of the characters are mine in any way, shape or form. They belong to JKR and all her corporate associates.
Thanks to Arnel for her work as my new beta! Welcome to the insanity!
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The room was dark, but Harry heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps on concrete echoing across the empty warehouse in London’s Docklands. “They’re here,” Harry whispered, a feral grin spreading across his face, white teeth flashing in the darkness.
It had been almost three years since Voldemort died. Harry and Ron had gone into the Aurors to track down the disorganized Death Eaters. They had been driven on through exhaustion, pushed on by a burning, almost unhealthy rage that if they had not been careful, might have consumed them. Lestrange was the first to fall, dead at Harry’s hands after she had wounded Ron in an attempted escape. Pettigrew, true to his cowardly nature, had come quietly when Harry finally dragged him out of his hole. He was awaiting execution in Azkaban. Nott, McNair – the others fell one by one. But there was still one member of the inner circle left at large.
Harry and Ron pursued him relentlessly, and the other Aurors on the case had backed away, letting them take the lead. He was theirs. Him – and his son. They had hundreds of deaths on their hands but it was the killing of David and Meredith Granger that pushed Harry and Ron to inhuman lengths to catch him. Harry touched his wand to his throat.
“We have the building surrounded. You won’t come out of this alive if you choose to fight. Give yourselves up. This is your one chance, Draco, Lucius.”
Harry shrugged. “We knew it would come to this. They had their warning. I’m going to enjoy this.”
“Too right,” Ron said, drawing his own wand. They looked each other over. Their eyes were bloodshot, with dark, heavy circles underneath them. The net had tightened suddenly for the Malfoys. In a fortnight, Harry and Ron had chased them from one end of the British Isles to the other. They’d had little sleep, catching snatches here and there between raids, always arriving one step behind their quarry. Hermione was frantic with worry; Ron hadn’t been home for more than an hour in a week. But now, their prey was trapped, caught by the anti-Apparition wards put up by the other Aurors. There was only one way for this to end. Vengeance burned bright tonight. The other Aurors were waiting outside. By unspoken agreement they didn’t care, or want to know what happened inside the warehouse tonight. It only mattered that they produced bodies when they were finished.
Harry gestured to Ron and pointed left, and then indicated that he would go right. Ron nodded. They split up and took the two different paths thought the mass of boxes.
Harry walked quietly forward. He turned his senses up, listening to every sound in the warehouse. He stepped around the corner carefully.
Ron was working his way down the other aisle of boxes. Footsteps moved quickly in front of him. There was a noise – a muffled swear. He spun around the corner. Draco Malfoy started to turn to face him, his back to a wall of boxes.
“Expelliarmus!” Ron bellowed before Draco had a chance to react. Draco’s wand went flying into the darkness. “Stupefy!” With a sickening thud, Draco hit the concrete floor of the warehouse, and blood began to trickle from his nose. Ron rolled his eyes in disgust. It was almost too easy, in the end. Ron stooped to cast a Coagulation Charm on Draco’s nose. Can’t have him bleeding all over the place. He tried to scan around the warehouse as he did so, feeling a bit disappointed at his catch. Draco didn’t matter to him. He’d never been linked to the Granger’s death, and although his crimes after he’d escaped to join his father were grave, they weren’t the crimes he wanted repaid. In the end, Draco was just a pathetic schoolboy bully.
Harry heard the commotion on the other side of the warehouse, and saw the flashes. He put his head up to watch carefully, and saw a movement on the up catwalk. Lucius had his wand out. “Ron! Move!” Harry put every once of air in his lungs into the warning.
Ron heard Harry’s bellow and dove behind a set of boxes, as a flash of green light burned into a crate. He swore madly. Stupid, stupid, stupid…you’re lucky you’re not dead…
Harry was already working his wand “Expelliarmus!” Harry said, and had the satisfaction of seeing Lucius dive out of sight, searching for his wand.
“You all right, mate?” Harry called out…God, Hermione…please answer Ron…
“I’m okay!” Ron’s voice called out. “Looks like I owe you another one.” Harry breathed a sigh of relief. “Draco’s Stunned. I’m going to bind him up – you keep his dad off me.”
“Right. He’s on the catwalk above us, so watch your head.”
Harry moved cautiously up a set of stairs to the upper catwalk and heard footsteps. He tried to move silently in the shadows. There were too many shadows…well, he was a wizard after all. Positioning himself behind a crate, so he would not be exposed, he pointed his wand at the ceiling.
“Lumosphere!” he whispered. Light shot out his wand, and coalesced into a ball of light that dispelled the shadows of the warehouse building. Shadows now worked in his favour, as he saw the black shadow of a man crawling along the far catwalk. “Accio Malfoy’s wand!” Harry cried, and had the satisfaction of two wants fly through the air at him. He muttered an anti-Summoning charm on them and stuffed them into his pocket. Malfoy decided to make a break for it, standing up to run.
“Stupefy!” Ron called out from the floor of the building, but he missed. Harry stood up and ran after Malfoy. Ron was charging up another set of stairs to the catwalk. Harry was ahead of him and he followed Malfoy through a door that led onto the roof.
Suddenly Harry was tackled from behind and hands tried to close around his throat. Harry kicked his legs back, and was rewarded with catching Malfoy in the crotch. The hands slackened and Harry spun free to face the man. Harry raised his wand, and cried out “Stupef…” But Malfoy dove out of the way and at that moment, Ron came barrelling through the door. Ron hit the ground, eyes widening in surprise.
“Damnit!” Harry swore, and dove down to his friend, Malfoy temporarily forgotten. “Enervate,” Harry incanted, shaking Ron. “You all right mate?” Ron groaned, nodded his head. “Sorry about that.” Harry looked around the roof. “He’s somewhere out here, and this is the only exit. You stay here and shake it off. Make sure he doesn’t get past you.”
Ron’s nodded shakily, still a little dazed. Harry stepped away, creeping quietly around the cooling units and other boxy structures on the roof of the building. It was quiet. Too quiet.
Harry only had a split second to react before the large piece of wood zipped through the air. It missed his head, but caught his hand, and sent his wand flying. He spun toward Malfoy, and grabbed the two by four and twisted it hard. Harry’s superior conditioning came in handy as he wrenched the bludgeon out of Malfoy’s hand. Harry let it spin off into the night, and dove in on Malfoy. His fist connected with the side of Malfoy’s face. The man roared in anger and swung a kick that connected with Harry side. He gave a shudder of pain, and swung at Malfoy, connecting with his jaw this time, sending the man sprawling. Harry searched quickly for his wand in the dark, then remembered the Malfoy wands in his pocket. He reached for one, but before he got there, Malfoy tackled him. Harry found himself sprawling on the roof and he felt the top of his head brush the concrete parapet on the edge of the roof. Malfoy was straddling him, and Harry was holding him off. Malfoy had a knife clutched in his hands. Harry was holding the point only inches away from his chest. Harry tried to tilt the knifepoint away from him, straining against Malfoy’s pressure.
“You were always an annoyance boy…ever since you lost me my house elf. And then, how could a boy like you defeat the greatest wizard ever? And what for? For the sake of Muggles, and Mudbloods? You could have been with us, Potter. But now, all because you felt that those people were equal to the purest blood. Or was it deeper? Could you not stomach the fact that we were more powerful than you? Is that why you destroyed us? So we couldn’t rival your power? Is that why you hated us? Please tell me, I must know.”
Harry grunted. “You were always wrong.”
“Do tell, Potter.”
“The moment I hated you is hard to pick out. I was pretty upset when you gave Riddle’s diary to Ginny. But that wasn’t it.” Harry tried to twist Malfoy away.
“Do go on, I’m so amused.”
“But the moment I hated you, personally?”
“Was the moment my best friend Portkeyed into Professor McGonagall’s office and cried for three days because you killed her parents. Her defenceless, innocent parents. You sick, twisted, bastard son of a bitch!” Harry threw Malfoy off him. The knife went flying in the darkness.
“You mean the Mudblood’s parents?” Malfoy laughed, standing a bare meter from Harry, holding his side. “They had to die. No Muggles should have ever produced a witch who could out perform a pureblood. Such a pity you never saw that.”
Harry launched himself at Malfoy, grabbed him, and threw him against the parapet, bending his back over the edge. “You think you’re funny?” Harry had his hand on Malfoy’s throat. He could feel Malfoy’s pulse pounding as he twisted the man’s head to look down at the drop below. “I’ve dreamed about this moment…for a long time, Malfoy. I would lay awake at night, and dream up curses that would give you ultimate pain. True, excruciating mental pain. Emotional trauma the likes of which you couldn’t even imagine. Physical torture, mind-cracking torture. I did some reading on Muggle torture devices. They were actually pretty ingenious. I could start by pulling out your fingernails. That’s supposed to be pretty effective. And then I could start breaking bones,” Harry said, twisting Malfoy’s wrist with his free hand. The man actually started to look panicked now.
“Not so big a man now, Malfoy? Staring down at death?” Harry said. “I think I’ll start with your nose.” Harry let go of Malfoy’s wrist temporarily and swung. Blood began to pour from Malfoy’s nose. He cried out.
“No one is going to come for you, Malfoy. The others? They don’t care what happens to you. Moody’s back there. He knows what’s between us. No one’s going to ask any questions….” Harry twisted the man’s wrist again, harder, and was rewarded with a cracking sound. The scream that Malfoy released was eerie.
“Harry!” Ron came running up, holding Harry’s wand. “Clear out, I’ll stun him.”
“No,” Harry said. “He’s had this coming for a while,” Harry said coldly, twisting Malfoy’s already broken wrist.
“Harry!” Ron looked a little panicked. Great bloody Merlin, Harry, don’t loose it on me now, I can’t stop you. “He’s not worth it. Don’t stoop to his level. You’re not like him. You’re not like him Harry, don’t do this,” Ron pleaded.
“He’s slime Ron! What he did to Hermione, and Ginny?” Harry tightened his fingers around Malfoy’s neck.
“You’re not like this Harry. You don’t want to do that. You’re not one of them.”
Harry hesitated, his fingers still around Malfoy’s throat. Shook his head as if to clear it. Dumbledore’s words echoed in his ears. Harry had asked him what made their side right and Voldemort’s wrong.
“We are better because we have compassion, Harry. That is why we must win.”
He relaxed his fingers. He took a deep breath, feeling anger slipping away, only to be replaced by a deep disgust. “You’re right, Ron. Stun this slime and let’s get out of here.” Harry pushed himself away from Malfoy.
In that moment, Malfoy pounced, scrambling for the wands in Harry’s pocket. Harry gave him a stiff shove, and Malfoy’s knees caught the edge of the parapet. Malfoy began to flail his arms wildly to catch his balance.
“Stupefy!” Ron called out, the same moment that Malfoy began to flail. The spell caught him and all his appendages went limp. Harry made a grab for him, but missed, and, limp and unconscious, the Death Eater fell over the edge of the parapet to the street below. There was a sick sounding crunch.
Ron and Harry looked down over the edge of the building and shook their heads. “Sorry Ron,” Harry said, taking his wand back.
“It’s all right, Harry. I didn’t want to murder him, but I can’t say I’m sorry he’s dead.”
“You were right, Ron. I didn’t want to do that.” Harry shook his head, his emotions coming apart. The lack of sleep and the stress was crashing in on him. “I don’t know what came over me, I just…” Harry’s legs gave way, and he sat down on the roof. “I just…I was thinking about Hermione and Ginny…and…oh God, what did I just try to do?”
Ron sat down next to him. “It’s okay, mate, it’s okay. You’re better than them. You walked away.”
“Thanks to you,” Harry pointed out.
“That’s what mates are for.” Ron helped Harry stand. Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody appeared.
“We found Draco downstairs and Lucius over on the side street. What happened?” Kingsley asked.
Ron explained briefly what had happened, and the other men nodded. Kingsley looked at both of them. “Get out of here. I don’t want to see you for three days. When you get back, I’ve got something for you across the Pond with our American cousins.” Ron nodded.
“We’ve taken down the Apparition wards,” Moody said, eyeing them. Harry handed over the Malfoy’s wands and then he and Ron raised their wands and in a moment they were at the Burrow.
Hermione, Ginny, Molly and Arthur were waiting up. Hermione, pregnant and uncomfortable, still managed to launch herself off the couch when Ron appeared. Arthur, the Minister of Magic, looked at Harry.
“It’s over,” Harry said tiredly. “Draco’s in custody. Lucius is dead. He tried to jump me on a building roof, and Ron stunned him. He fell off the roof.”
Arthur closed his eyes and sighed. Mrs. Weasley muttered something that might have been a prayer. Ginny held his eyes evenly, while Hermione sobbed quietly against Ron’s shoulder.
“Mrs. Weasley? Do you mind if I use Percy’s old room tonight?”
“Of course not, Harry. You know where it is.”
Harry started up the stairs and stumbled. Ron caught his shoulder. “Easy there, mate. Ginny, why don’t you walk him up?”
“Well done tonight, mate,” Ron said.
Harry and Ron locked eyes. “Yeah. Thanks for everything.”
“That’s what partners are for.”
Ron and Harry embraced for a moment, and then Ginny helped him upstairs.
“Are you all right, Harry?” Ginny asked.
“Yeah,” Harry replied, but knew that wasn’t right. Now what? he asked himself. This was what he’d been living for, really the only thing he had driving him in life. They were all gone now. All the Death Eaters were dead or in Azkaban.
“Well, get some sleep,” she said as she led him into the room. Harry collapsed on the bed.
“Thanks. Night, Gin.”
The door had barely clicked shut when Harry closed his eyes. His last thought before falling asleep…now what?