-Time Or Manner-
The bang was like a cannon-blast and the golden flame that erupted between them, at the dead centre of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort's green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air towards the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backwards, arms splayed, the slit pupils of his scarlet eyes dilating slowly as the curse burned him. His own curse seared his insides, but did not kill….
The floor is greasy.
A count of twenty-two people had taken to magical combat within the last few hours. Leathery patterns from the bottom of boots, the powdery, black scuff of sneakers, sticky sweat, a little blood, perhaps remnants of saliva dried into a crusty, white layer contributed to what Tom was observing at this point, on the ground of this pretentious battlefield.
The doors are locked and smoke piles its way down the walls as the scents of magic, smoke and fire drift away from the Great Hall. So many times Tom had been aware of death and its smell. It smelled like silence, cold and raw-like a crushed raw egg, with the yolk seeping its yellow blood out in clots of the same scent. Nothing. Sweat, blood, burnt sneakers-all that; death did not smell like that. The floor smells like that and he feels the grease under his fingers as he tries to keep his grip with reality. The floor had not been pristine beforehand; however, this was more than disgusting.
A pair of sneakers comes into view and a few angry thoughts rise to the surface of Tom's mind and he grits his teeth in the effort at mustering dignity. Tom thinks that it might not have been as wise to mock the boy.
There is a silence of hushed voices as everyone appears to wonder if he is, indeed, dead. As he slowly rolls off his chest onto his back, he stares at the boy. Potter. Harry, who is the only reason beyond his own needs and desires why he was here in this room. He had gone to the ends of the earth for this boy, to kill him, to get rid of the annoying connection between them. And here he lay, disarmed, burned by his own curse, minutes away from death.
The boy steps forward, crouching by him, his bright eyes wide with the wonder of what he has done. He still speaks in that loud, arrogant voice of a victor before his time. "I can see you're dying; you've always been afraid of death, and that was your weakness. Running away from what you can't change is, I think, the stupidest thing anyone can do. The only thing you get now is to die quietly like this."
Disdain is how Tom describes the next emotion that rises foremost to his mind. Is he really going to talk about all this? Now? Tom wavered between asking him or just lying there, breathing in semi-gasps as both the stench of the floor wafted up and his organs curdled inside him.
He knows that if he keeps still, the boy will manage to stop it; to put an end to it all. Voldemort must never have an end, he had once told himself on a whim as he made his horcrux. Never. Not in this existence. Not until he could fully comprehend why he was being destroyed by the boy who stood above him right now, heaving with a righteous rage, his wand hand trembling.
It is in that fear that Tom doesn't need to hesitate, he raises himself up a little and he hears the boy start forward. Tom looks at him, and he still doesn't understand. Frustration levitates its way into his bones and Tom grits his teeth before murmuring. "It can be easily concluded now that the reason I may have lost might be for the plain fact that I have not taken the time to understand you...Harry."
Harry appears revolted and confused at once. With his lungs deteriorating within him, Tom's voice is broken and slurred. He is repulsive, of course. With patches of his skin charred black and his insides burning, he is one of the forsaken in hell and even the Saviour cannot look at him with pity.
Tom continues. "We have been two beings on opposite sides of the spectrum, and though we have shared a mind at times, you have not known me, nor I, you. Thus, this has not been a proper battle. For that, I am sorry."
Harry's quiet and confused demeanour gives Tom time to push himself up against a splintered table. He half-leans, half-stands like a frightening doll of white skin, barely held together by glues and threads. His red eyes are like narrow slits of observation, and it is evident that Harry is listening. "You see, Harry, Voldemort always rectifies his mistakes and that is what I intend to do. You want to stop all this? Do you not want to understand why you want to stop any of this?"
Harry opens his mouth to reply, but he stops; his green eyes thoughtful and vacant. Finally, after a moment, he says, "You killed my parents, and the parents of many other people. You separated friends because of the state of their blood! And now you would have killed anyone in this room to achieve your ends. I think it's strictly common sense that I should want to stop it all!"
Voldemort looks away. He despises childishness, but he has to move quickly in order to put his new plan in motion. "My ends, you say? I highly doubt you could even begin to comprehend the good I am trying to do this world. Let us put that aside, however. I have always been a scholar, Harry- at heart and when I strive for knowledge, I gain it. It is unfortunate that your plans may be sprung awry, but I have quite a bit of research to do before we do this again."
The confusion in Harry's expression was incomparable and Voldemort had only to whisper the words. Words that would sacrifice a lot of achievement, but would in the end, gain so much more. The secret words of time….