The ‘top predator’ has no natural predators in the food chain as an adult, and it is the apex of hunting prowess. In the natural order of things, lions are top predators while snakes are not.
“Oh, hell no, bitch!” Harry barely noticed the words he shouted as he silently Summoned Voldemort’s smouldering carcass back to his feet. The enfeebled once near-immortal form had been trying to limp away from the scene of his defeat. “You’re not getting away like that, Tommy boy.”
It was with pleasure that he channelled extra power into a Cutting Charm that was aimed at the broken figure’s knees, neatly amputating both legs. With a quick flick, the wounds were sealed, just like the missing wand arm on his foe.
“We’re going to play a game, Tommy,” Harry said with glee, “and you’re going to just love it. I know I will.” Harry gauged the distance carefully and then really pumped his magical strength into a Banishing Charm, sending the crumpled body into a tree on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. “Ooh, too bad, I didn’t make the goal.” At the least, Voldemort would not be escaping any time soon, his body now far too broken for even accidental magic to move it anywhere about England now.
Harry whistled and absently strolled over to the shattered body. “Did that hurt, Tommy?” There was only a glazed look in the red slits that passed as eyes. “Awww, that’s no fun. Enervate!” When the form on the ground let out a high-pitched cry, Harry giggled. “Welcome back, Tommy. Feeling better?”
Blood trickled out of Voldemort’s mouth, but Harry really would have been hard pressed to care at all. “You know, Hermione truly was a brilliant witch.” Harry carefully moved his wand in the pattern she had taught him, silently willing the magic to do what he wanted. He was richly rewarded when Voldemort’s ears lit up with the blue flames that Hermione had once been so good with. It took a different variant to make something living burn like that, but she had been the smartest witch in the school. “It’s a shame you had her killed like that. It means I have to make sure you suffer more than she did.”
Harry did his best to ignore the pitiful mewling coming from the once proud Dark Lord. “Really, try to be an adult about it. You’re crying like a firstie caught by Filch the caretaker.”
Voldemort had no idea just how lucky he was that Ginny had died painlessly, otherwise Harry would have spent years finding new ways to torture a human body. Her death would still be paid for in blood, but it required nothing beyond what Harry felt compelled to do for Hermione. The brutal savagery imparted upon his virtual sister had been beyond even what animals might do to each other. How much more so was it when a human, graced with the power of introspection, did such to any other living thing, let alone a sentient one?
When Riddle’s ears were fully melted and charred away, with the flames working their way around his head, Harry extinguished them. “There, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?” It mattered not at all that the figure would never hear any sounds again. Between the blisters and the mass of distorted flesh where there once were ears, it was nearly certain that no intelligible hearing was possible by the broken body before him.
The next bit of transfiguration required a fair level of precision and control, so Harry paused to take a deep breath. He moved his wand through the proper arcs and conjured a large tub around Voldemort’s body. Slowly filling it with water, he was content when there were a good two inches in the bottom. It was tricky, but he successfully created a small magical pump that caused the tub to act as an inverted fountain, sucking water from the bottom and pouring it in a uniform ring from the top edge back inside the tub. The running waterfall would prevent anything from escaping. The water was shallow so that the Petrification spell would not drown his now-paltry foe. After all, he would be deprived of the show should the broken body flail about.
“Before we move on to the next little bit, Tommy, I need to make sure this works. I hope it’s as good for you as it was for dear, departed Bella.” Harry cast the first SuperSensory Charm. “That’s ten.” Then he did it again, careful to layer it on top of the first one. “That’s one hundred.” Four more times, and Harry smiled. “There we are, one million times amplification of your senses. Let’s just test that, right?” Harry lazily flicked out the Tickling Jinx and watched as Voldemort’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets.
Lifting the curse, Harry gave him a smile that he was sure Umbridge would have envied. “Just one more check, there, Tommy, before we move on.” Harry Transfigured a bit of twig on the ground into a fat, ripe Habenero pepper. Gently picking it up, he jammed it forcefully into Voldemort’s mouth, taking great care to tear it open on the teeth. This time, one of Voldemort’s eyes actually did bulge out of its socket briefly before they both closed in unconsciousness.
After a fast Scouring Charm into the mouth and an Enervate, Voldemort’s eyes were open, and Harry was surprised that there were actually tears coming out. Who would ever have guessed that Voldemort could cry, and, moreover, that if he did so it would not be in blood?
He knew Tom was unable to hear him giggling, but that was all right. This was about vengeance, not about gloating final speeches and lessons on how master plans needed no explanation. The final stage was ready. It was with almost casual ease that he enacted the NEWT-level bit of Transfiguration, and Tom Riddle’s clothes became, ounce for ounce, a horde of fire ants. His body was the only island of safety from the water, and the ants would not be amused by the continuous disturbance of the fountain.
Harry ignored the wildly spinning eyes and the swarming mass of ants floating up and latching on to their victim. The pallid skin was turning an angry, bright red as the naked form was covered in acidic bites. Harry remembered reading about the invasive pests and how they were slowly taking over parts of the world that were non-native habitats, destroying local ecological balances. Only cold weather stopped them, so should any few escape his water barrier here in what was once merry olde England, they would not last out the winter. That was assuming that what was left of cratered England would have cared in the first place.
Ron had looked as red as his hair when the goblins’ protections around the Horcrux in the Lestrange vault had finally killed him. It was a terrible way to go, burned to death while buried alive by Galleons. It was ironic, in some bizarre and horrid way, that Ron, confused but loyal in the end, had died in a pile of what he had complained so bitterly about never having.
Voldemort’s eyes were no longer thrashing about. Indeed, they were not even visible under the swarming mass of ants. As far as Harry could tell, his foe was no longer breathing. The shifting and bulging mass of ants was far from finished, however, and that was just fine in Harry’s opinion. It was somewhat depressing, though, to realise that Voldemort had been allergic to the bite of the fire ant – a pity that his death had come far too soon.
Harry settled himself down by the tub, content to wait for the ants to devour the remnants of the worst Dark Lord in history. He was unwilling to risk anything remaining behind that some misguided follower might try to revive or use as an emblem of power. Resigned to a long wait, he Summoned the book he had found on temporal theory and went back to his reading. He really wished Hermione had survived, since she was always the smartest person around, and this book held the key for the crazy idea that had been hounding his brain for years now. Well, usually she was the smartest witch ever, and he could easily forgive her occasionally hormone-induced slips. He had, after all, been the victim of his own hormones a time or two.
oOo oOo oOo
It was dark, stuffy, and smelt of horrid things when he opened his eyes. Sitting up, he slammed his head sharply into the ceiling, and he paused to wonder at the situation. Reaching out, he realised that he had found himself stuck within his cupboard once again. The utter darkness made it impossible to see, but the long-since memorised contours of sheet rock, nails, and storage bins made it absolutely certain that he was back. His final act of killing himself had done the trick, and now he was here. Or there. Whatever, he was back, and back in a way that would cause the world to change forever.
When Hermione had died, so had most of the great Horcrux Hunt. It had taken a few more years, years in which he buried himself in the few books that had survived the fall of Hogwarts. Britain was a smoking ruin, and Voldemort had been working on replicating the effect on the continent. Harry had been on the run ever since the fiasco that led to the fall of Hogwarts, carrying the diadem and doing his best to learn more magic as fast as possible. Harry knew he had no chance in a flat-out duel. What he needed was an ambuscade. An ambush with impeccable bait. Which was him. Or, rather, a Polyjuiced and Imperiused Snatcher that looked like him, right down to the faded and worn pants.
Getting up, Harry flicked out his hand, smashing apart the cupboard door that kept him locked up. Oh, how he loved wandless magic. Snape had shown him the secret, reluctantly, as Harry scoured the dying man’s mind with a forced Legilimency rapport. No matter how, Snape had shown him in those memories of his mother that it was, after all, possible to control magic without a wand. Harry had spent those years on the run learning more than just wande