The Daily Prophet
October 20, 1998
Our magnificent leader, Lord Voldemort, has scheduled the execution of the notorious blood traitor Harry Potter for October 31. According to Chief Secretary Lucius Malfoy, who made the announcement from Hogwarts Castle, the sentence of death by Crucio curse will be carried out as usual in the Hogsmeade village square. "We mean to show any subversive elements that Potter is just a common criminal," said Mr. Malfoy.
This final defeat of the traitors in our midst completes the glorious purification of wizarding society that Lord Voldemort began a mere seven months ago. Free at last from the contamination of Muggle presence in our cities and towns, the degradation of intermarriage, and the wicked designs of counter-revolutionaries, we can now begin to build a new and greater Britain for all loyal wizards and witches!
In the end, he chose not to do it himself. Not that anything would have gone wrong. No hysterical Mudblood mother to die for Potter now, no wand to conjure specters. No Severus Snape to change sides yet again.
It was simply better, more politic, this way. So he sacrificed the pleasure it would have given him.
Malfoy thought it was a reward, being allowed to perform the curse. A bit of revenge for his time in Azkaban. Malfoy's as great a fool as all of them. They can't see that power, real power, means having men clamor to do your killings for you.
Malfoy killed Potter, and Lord Voldemort watched from his seat on the dais. At his merest nod of permission, Malfoy acted.
This is what it means, to be a lord.
But other things are too important for a mere follower. Other things are meant for only one man, one powerful and deserving man, to know.
When Lord Voldemort goes into the Department of Mysteries, he goes alone. His footsteps echo on the stone stairs. When he stands before the stone archway, in the silence he can hear the faintest tantalizing whispers.
He wants to step through the black veil. The archway makes him want to step through. It is death, and death is always seeking.
Lord Voldemort, the greatest wizard ever known, the destroyer of death, raises his wand and cries "Mors mortis."
The stones shudder with a deep cracking sound, and then they're simply gone. Not even the smell of dust remains.
But the whispers. The whispers are louder, louder, they're voices, and Voldemort feels a growing rush of air, as though something invisible and enormous is passing through the space where the archway used to be.
"Ron, Ron, wake up!"
"G'way." Ron turns over. Ouch. Fucking concrete. Fucking bad shoulder. Thicker sleeping bag would help. Hard to steal, though. Bulky. Maybe-
"Ron!" Hermione's voice. Harry's, before. So, dreaming. Stupid dream, telling him to wake up.
Maybe he should, though. He hates dreaming about them.
Ron opens his eyes.
And sees them, standing over him in the almost-darkness.
Harry, Harry's escaped, Harry's free and he's found Ron somehow, traced him all the way to this Dublin squat, and it'll all be all right now, they can stop Voldemort now, they've got another chance, and Harry's brought Hermione and god she's so beautiful and he's missed her so much and
And Hermione is dead. Ron saw Greyback kill her.
"Fuck," Ron says. "I'm dreaming after all." He sits up, hands pressed flat to the cold concrete real floor, biting his lip because he will not cry.
"You're not dreaming, Ron, for heaven's sake!" Christ, he's even missed how she gets shirty.
"You're dead," Ron says. That's the sensible thing to say, right? The logical thing? It's what Hermione would want him to say, if she was actually here.
"Yeah, mate," Harry says. "We're dead. But we're here. We can all be together again."
Ron gives up on logic then. Logic's for chess, not for important things. And if anybody could come back from the dead, it'd be Harry and Hermione. "You're really here?"
Hermione reaches out for him, and so does Harry, looking embarrassed. Never hugged him, Ron thinks, blokes don't. . . . And then sod that, and he flings his arms around them. For a second it's like hugging a draft, cold and insubstantial, but then it's warm and it's real and Ron is safe at last. Home and safe.
"Let's get out of here," Harry says. Ron laughs--he can't help it, he's so happy--and gets up.
He leaves his needless body behind on the floor.
The Quibbler Special Edition
November 2, 1998
At least six hundred wizards and witches have died in the past day of unexplained causes, according to anonymous sources in the Department of Blood Purity and Public Health. "Whole families, usually, and not a mark on them," says one mediwitch who has been called to no fewer than twelve scenes of such mysterious deaths.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Auror office has ruled out Avada Kedavra.
Lucius Malfoy, Chief Secretary to Lord Voldemort, refused comment to inquiries by The Quibbler.
Why, we ask, is our new government ignoring this horrible outbreak? Lord Voldemort has promised safety and security for wizardkind. But is he hiding a secret that the people deserve to know?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, turn.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, turn.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, turn.
When Remus turns this time, he finds Sirius standing next to the metal-framed cot.
"Oh, good," Remus says. "I've been looking forward to the hallucinations. They ought to make the next round of experiments much more bearable."
The imaginary Sirius looks stupid for a second, the way he always did when he was surprised, then says, "I'm so sorry, Remus. I never meant to leave you again."
Remus crosses his arms, trying to gather a little warmth from the thin robe. It's never enough. He spends his days walking until he's too tired, then resting until he's too cold. Well, he spends the good days that way. "Since this is my psychosis, couldn't you at least say, 'Hello, Remus, how've you been since I died? Keeping well? Enjoying life as an enemy of the state and a newly classified non-human?' Couldn't I tell you all the interesting things my keepers have been learning about werewolf physiology? Or do we have to launch straight into the really painful subjects?"
Sirius's handsome face--Remus's mind has edited out some wrinkles and those first gray hairs--draws into a frown. "Moony-"
"You know, I almost got married. Before my current job as a laboratory rat. Marvelous girl, and I tried very hard to love her, but I couldn't because you were always fucking there in the middle, you dead bastard. So I told her. Broke it off. And she volunteered for some bloody undercover scheme of Shacklebolt's. And she died." All the words make Remus cough, hard, and he feels a long, deep scratch on his chest open and bleed again.
Sirius reaches out as though to steady him while he fights for air, then stops. When Remus can look up, Sirius is sitting on the edge of the cot. More or less. He doesn't seem to have any weight, and there's something about the light . . . No, the shadow. He doesn't cast a shadow. "I know, Moony. I met up with Tonks, after she died, and she told me about it. She's not angry anymore."
Remus laughs, although that's always likely to set him coughing again. "Oh, this is good. This is a really first class, deluxe bit of madness." All his guilt, washed away with a visitation from beyond. Not working, though. He doesn't feel better at all.
"Remus. Come and down."
Remus sits. He's never been any good at saying no to Sirius. But he doesn't sit very close, because he can, sometimes, stop himself from saying yes. Sirius isn't going to drive him mad from the grave. "I'd like to hallucinate something cheerful now."
"Oh, Moony." One of Sirius's hands twitches; he folds both hands tightly in his lap. "I am sorry, really I am."
The thing to do is keep silent. Or go back to pacing. This will end. Everything ends, sooner or later. Instead, Remus says to his hallucination, "You always are."
"There was nothing I could do. The dead can only wait, you know. We all wait. It's like one of those Muggle airports you see in pictures. We're all hanging about to see who's next through the gates. I thought I'd have to wait for years." Sirius smiles like the sun rising. "And then something happened. Something . . . we were all free. I could come to you."
Even when he's not real, Sirius can twist Remus round, dizzy him with love, break his heart. Remus's heart has been broken since he was fifteen years old. He thinks he's come to prefer it that way. "I wish this was real, Sirius."
Again, the checked movement. Sirius looks like a fidgety boy. "Do you trust me?"
That was always yes and no. And there's no one here to trust, just an overstressed brain gone haywire. But trust has nothing to do with wanting.
Sirius turns, opening his arms, and Remus closes his eyes and lets himself fall.
By order of LORD VOLDEMORT, all newspapers, magazines, and newsletters shall cease publication and all wireless broadcasts shall be strictly limited to official announcements. Anyone violating this order or passing along rumors about the false and non-existent "mystery illness" will be considered an enemy to good order and security in the wizarding world and will be subject to condign punishment according to law.
Given this day the third of November, 1998, at Hogwarts Castle.
"Get away from me!" Draco shouts. "You've got no right to haunt me! It was Snape that did it, not me." Someone will come, if he can just keep out of its reach. His mother, or one of those lazy bloody house-elves, or someone. It won't hurt him if someone else is here, will it?
"My dear boy," Dumbledore says, with one of those kindly chuckles that always made Draco want to kick him. "This isn't a haunting. I'm here because . . . well, I'm concerned about you."
"I don't need your concern. We won, Dumbledore, and you lost." Draco eases his hand towards his wand. What'll work on a ghost? Deletrius, maybe? "I've got power now."
"Yes, that's exactly why I'm concerned." Dumbledore takes a step closer, and Draco moves back again. Bad. He can't let himself be maneuvered into a corner. Always leave yourself room to fight (room to run), always. "And you don't need to use your wand against me, Draco. Not that it would matter, since I am already dead and beyond harm."
If he can get to the door . . . "You're dead all right. You're all dead, all of you Muggle-lovers and Mudbloods. Potter's dead. We killed your precious Harry Potter!" If he can just get away, he'll think of something later to tell his father. Turn this into a triumph.
"I know. Did you watch while he was tortured to death, Draco?"
"Course I watched. Every second!" Draco leaps for the door, but Dumbledore's suddenly there, blocking it, looking down at him with stern eyes and a sad little frown.
"Yes, damn you!"
Still that same look, that infernal headmaster-look, from Dumbledore. An expression of patience, an inquiringly-arched eyebrow.
Dumbledore's nothing, a ghost, the ghost of a stupid bloody teacher, but Draco knows, with sickening certainty, that there's no getting out of this. No fooling Dumbledore, with his Legilimency and who knows what else. No use, all the lies Draco's been spinning since he ran from Hogwarts. "No," he says. "I didn't. I polyjuiced one of our house elves and sent him instead. Because I'm too much of a coward to watch my enemy die."
"My poor child. How have you been living, if you think that is cowardice?"
Draco sits down in one of the Erumpent-hide chairs and doesn't answer. He's too tired to answer, exhausted to the bone. He's been working like a house elf, telling all those lies. Hiding all that failure.
"You might have been a decent man, Draco Malfoy," says Dumbledore. "With some help. I failed you there, and I'm sorry."
Draco sits, silently, as Dumbledore envelopes him in a deep embrace, deep and quiet as rest.
South China Morning Post
November 5, 1998
The mysterious, deadly illness first reported in Great Britain just days ago has spread to Asia despite quarantine measures. Cases have been confirmed in every Asian nation but Myanmar, whose government has refused comment on the issue.
Britain continues to be the worst hit area, with an estimated 95,000 deaths within its official population of 138,000. Rumors of massive mortality in the so-called "Muggle" homelands, where a majority of the people reside, cannot yet be confirmed.
The government of the self-described "Wizard Lord" Voldemort is said to be in turmoil, and no official communication has been made in the last twenty-four hours.
Tall lad, moon-faced.
(Moon, there was a new moon in the sky when they . . . when they . . . NO. No, stop.)
Tall lad, moon-faced. Soft face, sad eyes, eyes like the way Alice feels when she thinks about the bad things.
Round cheeks, smooth, baby face. Baby? Where's the baby? Didn't she have a baby once?
"Neville," she says, because that was the baby's name.
Baby, rockabye, broken boughs, all fall down. All fall down. All fall down.
None of that.
Alice is hungry. She's been waiting for dinner for a long, long, long time. Why are they making her wait? It's not a nice game.
"I like pork pie," she says. "And lovely roast potatoes."
Oh, his eyes have gone all sad again.
"Never mind, mum," he says. "You'll understand in a minute."
Then he hugs her.
14 November 1998
To All Magical Beings:
Although we are grieved at the sudden and devastating extinction of the human race, life must go on. Indeed, we may hope that without human interference, life will improve for those who have been so sadly oppressed in recent centuries.
It is important, at this juncture, to take stock of our situation and plan for the future. Therefore, representatives of all groups of magical beings (i.e. goblins, centaurs, merpeople, house elves, giants, and trolls) are invited to the first session of the New Magical Council, which will take place on Monday, 6 December, in the conference rooms at the Goblins' Bank (formerly Gringotts).
Please note that human ghosts will not be permitted to attend. Clearly they are not "beings," and in any case their numbers are dwindling rapidly. We encourage all remaining ghosts to move on; the era of humans is over.
Meeting security will be provided by the Goblins' Bank Security Squad, whom we thank for their assistance in these turbulent times.
With sincere hopes for our new world order,
President, The Goblins' Bank
Lord Voldemort does not die.
No one comes for Tom Riddle, who has never been loved.
He waits a few days in the securest part of Hogwarts, then, when the goblins start looking for him, apparates to one of the never-inhabited Shetland islands. The first breaths of clean air surprise him, he's got so used to the smell of corpses.
Lord Voldemort stands on the cold beach, looking out at the gray sea, and says, "I will live forever."