Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Shades of Gray

Chapter 16: The Hunt

by Shadow_Rebirth 11 Reviews

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2008/11/15 - Updated: 2008/11/16 - 6872 words

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Title: Shades of Gray: The Hunt
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: StormyBabe1988
Rating: T/PG-13
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, language, spoilers
Chapter WC: 6,624
Story WC: 83,930
First Written: November 10, 2008
Last Edited: November 15, 2008
Posted: November 15, 2008
Summary: Harry has a dark secret: He isn't a wizard. But that certainly doesn't mean he can't do magic. Unfortunately, it also means that in the face of fanatical governments and enraged demigods, Voldemort is going to be the least of his problems. AU, Gray!Harry, foreign school, vampires, werewolves, politics, no pairings.

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Shades of Gray

Chapter 16
The Hunt

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"Come oooooon, Blake!" Ryan whined for what must have been the hundredth time that afternoon.

A tic had long since developed in Harry's left eye. He grit his teeth, trying—and failing—to block out the werewolf's voice. It didn't stop Ryan from continuing his pleading.

"It's not like I won't be visiting sometime this summer," Harry finally snapped. "I just can't right away."

"But why not?" Ryan demanded. He'd spent the past few hours demanding Harry visit his home in California over the summer with all the fervor of a dying man.

With a rather forceful clunk, Harry snapped the lid to his trunk close. That morning he'd been relaxed. Hell, he'd been downright joyful. Silvermoor's final exams had ended the day before and today was officially the first day of summer. School was finally out and he was packing his things because while he had the right to come and go to his dorm room during the duration of the vacation, he wasn't planning on spending any of that time at school.

That good mood had mostly gone down the toilet once Ryan had begun badgering him. Harry had long since agreed to visit Ryan over the summer—he was actually rather interested in seeing a werewolf community—but his shaggy haired friend wanted more details than that.

Unfortunately, Harry was unable to give more specific details and unable to even explain why he wasn't sure when he'd be free. It wasn't as though he could just tell Ryan that he was planning on hunting for Voldemort's Horcruxes.

Abruptly Harry's thoughts ground to a halt. He sent Ryan a rather calculating look, causing the werewolf to back off, suddenly wary.

"Blake...?" Ryan questioned hesitantly.

"There's...something that I might need your help with," Blake said finally. He was doing some quick calculations in his head, coming up with a way to use Ryan without actually revealing any information about his life as a wizard. "A treasure hunt, of sorts, though it's quite a bit more complicated than that."

"Why ask me?" Ryan asked after a few moments. His head was tilted to the side in curiosity but his face was uncharacteristically serious.

"Because Senka's not allowed to leave the elf settlement, Zahra's dealing with problems at home, Damion's father is royal jackass and a control freak, and I don't know Azrael all that well," Harry joked. "Plus you've been bothering me all day."

Ryan rolled his eyes. "Oh, so I'm you're last choice, even over Azrael?"

Harry smiled brightly in reply. Ryan made to shove him, but Harry simply pushed him off the couch with a solid wall of air. The werewolf squawked loudly and landed in an undignified heap on the floor. He glared at Harry and grumbled under his breath as he climbed back onto his feet.

"Though I suppose the fact that you’re a wiz at transfiguration helps too," Harry snickered.

Ryan grin popped back onto his face, as bright as ever. "Too true," he agreed. "Though....you might want to honestly consider asking Azrael to join on this little 'hunt'." As Harry's questioning look, he expounded his statement. "Azrael's incredible with enchantment and anything to do with chemistry. Not to mention that he's a blessing to have in a fight; his family trains their children from a very young age to be warriors."

Harry quietly considered Ryan's suggestion. He honestly didn't know Azrael all that well, but he still considered the silent vampire to be a friend. The only question was, could he trust him with something of this magnitude?

Eventually Harry lifted his gaze back up to Ryan. "If you'll vouch for him, I'll invite him."

Ryan cocked an eyebrow then shrugged. "Eh, sure, I suppose I'll vouch for 'im. He's a good guy, if a little shorthanded in the social department," he said. Ryan ran a hand through his hair, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Well, no, that's not entirely true. He just doesn't make any attempts to interact with people, for lack of interest."

"Right, well, I guess I'll go ask him now then, if he hasn't left yet."

With a quiet pop Harry sent his trunk back to his apartment in New York. He swiftly exited his now much barer dorm room and headed over to Azrael's, just down the hall. The dark haired mage lifted his hand to knock, but before his fist even came in contact with the wood the door opened, revealing Azrael standing in the doorway.

The tall vampire raised one eyebrow in silent question, his crimson eyes boring into Harry. Harry resisted the urge to gulp and take a step back.

"Er, hey Azrael," he greeted tentatively.

Azrael's expression didn't falter. "Blake," he returned evenly. "How can I help you?"

Harry shifted awkwardly. He took a deep breath and then spoke quickly. "I know that we don't speak all that much, but I was wondering if you could help Ryan and I with something this summer. It's kind of a big...project...but your input could help a lot."

Azrael's second eyebrow joined the first. He stayed silent for several long moments, still staring at Harry. Then, as though Harry's had just asked to borrow a pencil, he shrugged and said, "Sure."

Harry struggled to keep his mouth from falling open in shock. "Just like that," he asked, surprised. "You're not even going to ask what the project is?"

"No." Azrael shrugged again. "I'm sure you'll tell me soon enough." Harry's mouth closed with an audible click. He definitely didn't know the Draconis heir very well.

"Well I suppose you're right," Harry said with a chuckle. "I'll explain all of the details to you and Ryan. Are you done packing?"

After Azrael's confirming nod the two of them returned back to Harry's room, where Ryan was waiting with a bored look on his face. The werewolf's expression quickly changed however when he saw Azrael trailing behind Harry.

"Hey Azrael!" Ryan greeted as he got up the couch. "Good to see you'll be coming along."

Harry dropped heavily into one of the chairs, releasing a sigh as he did so. He ran a weary hand through his spiky hair, wondering how in Merlin's name he was going to explain the Horcruxes to Ryan and Azrael without giving everything away. He momentarily considered telling the full truth to them, but discarded the thought almost instantly.

"....Have you ever heard of Horcruxes?" he asked finally.
Ryan shook his head, but Azrael's eyes instantly narrowed. "Soul fragments," he muttered.

"What?!" Ryan exclaimed, his eyes widening in shock. His gaze quickly darted between Harry and Azrael, silently begging for answers.

"Horcruxes are created when a person magically tears their soul apart and ties the soul fragments to various objects," Harry explained. "This allows for a form of immortality, because even if one fragment is destroyed the others survive separately, but it comes at the cost of insanity. Several decades ago Voldemort, a wizard Dark Lord, created seven Horcruxes. I...I need to find and destroy all of them if he's ever to be defeated."

Azrael's eyes narrowed further. "And why do you care so much about stopping this Voldemort character?"

"You forget that I lived in the Wizarding World for five years," Harry replied smoothly. "Several people I knew were killed by him, including a man who was like a father to me. Most wizards do not have the strength to stand up to him and I doubt any magical beings will step in until Voldemort has gone too far. As such, at this time I'm probably one of the only people who can, and will, do anything."

Azrael nodded slowly, accepting Harry's answer. The suspicious expression on his face flowed away, to be replaced with a contemplative look. Likewise, Ryan was tapping the arm of the couch thoughtfully.

"And so you want to hunt for these...horocuxes?" the werewolf questioned.

"Horcruxes, and yes, I do. I've already found out about what six of them are. Two of them, a diary and a ring, have already been taken care of; the third is a golden cup that's in Gringotts; the fourth and fifth are a locket and a diadem, of locations unknown; and the last is Voldemort's familiar, a snake.

"I'm going to try to talk to the goblins about the cup as soon as I can, but there's little I can do about the snake. For now I—we—need to focus on the locket and the diadem. The only problem is that I have no idea where to start looking."

Ryan whistled lowly. "Wow, you really have been working on this, haven't you?" he asked. Harry nodded, deciding not to reveal that he'd gotten most of his information from Ciar.

"A fayerie might be able to help you," Azrael murmured. At Harry's confused look, he continued. "A few rare fayeries called Diviners are born with the ability to divine the location of objects."

"Yeah, yeah!" Ryan said, instantly perking up. "But..." He slumped down in his seat again. "...Most of them are probably in Avalon, so unless you can magically whisk us there, I don't know how we'd find one of them."

Harry resisted the urge to groan. Great, just great. Now, in order to find the Horcruxes he first had to find a "Diviner" fayerie. As if his task wasn't difficult enough already...

Suddenly Harry raised his head up, noticing the thoughtful expression on Azrael's face.. "...You know someone?" he guessed.

Azrael's gaze cut to Harry, surprised. A smirk flitted across his face and he nodded slowly. "I have a friend who's a fayerie," the vampire replied. "I can at least ask if he can get us in contact with a Diviner in Avalon. It's a long shot, but it's the only shot we have."

Harry nodded pensively. "Sounds good to me. In the mean time I can talk to the goblins and then we'll meet up at my apartment." Instantaneously, Harry conjured up a piece of paper and a muggle pen. He quickly scribbled down his address before handing it to Azrael. "Here's the address of my apartment. You can meet me there once you've finished. And Ryan, I assume that you want to go home first...?"

"Yeah," the werewolf agreed. "I'll probably meet you in New York first thing in the morning though, once I've told my parents where I'll be. I won't tell them about the Horcruxes though, I promise," he quickly assured.

Harry nodded and the three teens stood up, ready to go their separate ways.

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After leaving Silvermoor, Harry headed straight for the Gringotts branch in Myrddin's Circle and used it to get to the branch in England. There he quickly approached the tellers and asked to meet with Grimsheild, his account manager.

Harry had been waiting in the lobby for only a few minutes when a younger goblin came to lead him to Grimsheild's office. Harry knocked firmly on the solid wooden door as the goblin strode off. Seconds later Grimsheild answered and Harry slipped inside.

"Ah, Harry," the elder goblin greeted with a single raised eyebrow. "How good it is to see you again. Please, have a seat."

Harry nodded in reply and then sank into one of the rather comfortable chairs in front of the Grimsheild's desk. Said desk was just as messy as always, though Grimsheild seemed to have no trouble finding things on. Ordered disorder, Harry assumed.

"How have things at Silvermoor been going?" Grimsheild asked curiously.

Harry grinned. "It's been a rather...interesting...experience," he answered. "But, unfortunately, I'm actually here to discuss something of importance to the Wizarding World."

"Oh?" Grimsheild replied. He folded his hands before him on the desk, suddenly gaining a much more business-like air of detached, professional interest. "And what might that be?"

Harry paused, considering how to word his next statement. Things could either go good and bad from here, but Harry had the sinking feeling that he'd soon be doing little more than pounding his head against a metaphorical brick wall.

"Voldemort created several Horcruxes," Harry finally said. His voice was soft, but serious. "They have to be destroyed before he can be stopped. One of them...One of them is in a Gringot—"

"No," Grimsheild instantly said, even before Harry could finish his sentence. His voice was flat and devoid of any emotion. "Absolutely not, Mr. Potter. We do not touch our clients vaults."

"But the Horcrux—!"

"No," he repeated firmly. "Horcrux or not, it would be a violation of our policy of the highest order. We do not break our client policy, even if said client is a wizard. I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do to help you."

Harry's lips thinned as he stopped himself from grinding his teeth together in frustration. He was tempted to continue the argument, but he knew that it would do little but push him farther away from Grimsheild, and that wasn't something he could afford. He'd just have to find another way to get the cup.

"Thank you, Grimsheild," Harry said instead, his face just as blank as the goblins. "I'll take my leave now."

Grimsheild nodded, his severity slipping away. He sighed and looked at the young mage before him with sorrowful eyes. "I wish you luck, Harry."

Harry paused with his hand on the door handle. He was just about to leave when a sudden thought crossed his mind.

"Actually, there's one more thing that you might be able to help me with..."

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The next morning Harry's doorbell rang at almost exactly 10 O'clock. The dark haired teen snapped shut the book on Soul Magic that he'd been reading and silently treaded across the floor to the door.

A quick wave of magic turned the door transparent on his side, allowing him to see out. Surprisingly both Ryan and Azrael were there, waiting. With raised eyebrows Harry removed the enchantment and opened the door.

"/Gooooood/ morning, Blake!" Ryan chirped as he bounded inside. "Look who I managed to pick up!"

Behind Ryan's back, Azrael rolled his eyes and grumbled under his breath. Harry grinned and motioned the two inside.

"Got any breakfast? I'm starving," Ryan prodded. He slumped down onto one of Harry's couches in the same manner that he did in Harry's dorm room: As if he owned it. Azrael rolled his eyes once more, but followed suit.

"You're always hungry," Azrael pointed out.

"Yeah, but today I overslept and didn't eat any breakfast," the shaggy haired werewolf retorted without missing a beat. He turned back to Harry. "So, breakfast?"

"In the kitchen. Help yourself," Harry replied shortly. He focused his gaze on Azrael. "How'd it go?"

"...As well as could be expected," he said after a moment. "I managed to set up a meeting with a Diviner, but what their answer after you explain everything will be, I have no idea."

"Well it's a start at least," Harry sighed. "And you got farther than I did in any case; the goblins wouldn't budge. All I could get out of them was a firm statement that they wouldn't break their client policy."

"Maybe you should break into Gringotts!" Ryan suddenly said with a grin as he returned from the kitchen. To Harry's great surprise, the werewolf had managed to make a sandwich from the merger supplies that Harry had. Harry wasn't sure he wanted to know what was in the meal.

"Yeah, /right,/" Azrael snorted. "The goblins have some of the most powerful enchantments and wards outside of Malauak on their banks."

Harry paused at the familiar name, trying to remember where he heard it before. "Malauak?"

"The famed drakyn city," Ryan replied before Azrael could. When the crimson eyed vampire glared at him he took a large bite of his sandwich, feigning innocence.

"It's the drakyn city," Azrael repeated grudgingly, turning back to Harry. "It's more secluded even than Avalon. Supposedly it's somewhere in south Asia , but few know exactly where and even fewer non-drakyns have ever been there. It's covered with every known—and unknown—isolation ward, hiding it from the world."

"Drakyns..." Harry mused quietly. His mind flashed back to Ty, the purple-skinned teen he'd met only a few months before. "I believe I've met a drakyn before; at the Noctis' Memorial Ball.

Immediately Azrael was nodding. "Apalala Kadundor, the drakyn ambassador, his wife, and his son were in attendance," he told Harry. "I wouldn't be surprised if you ran into any of them; they stand out rather easily in a crowd."

"A drakyn? A drakyn was at the dance?" Ryan's eyes were wide in awe. "How come I didn't hear about this?! No one ever hears about drakyns and I was at a ball with three and didn't even know it?! That's so not fair!"

Again Azrael rolled his eyes, "/Anyway,/" he began, "Drakyns are an ancient race, possibly older than even vampires; no one knows for sure. Just as veela are an avian race, drakyns are reptilian and supposedly are descended from the Ancient Ones, the dragons of old. Drakyns aren't very forthcoming with this sort of information though.

"But that's completely off topic. The point of this is that I did get you a meeting with a Diviner. The meeting's at four this afternoon. My friend, Jadyn, will lead us to a fayerie ring, where the Diviner will meet us."

"And where are we meeting your friend?"

"In the Gringotts branch here in New York. He'll be arriving here at 3:30 and then he'll take us via portkey to the nearest fayerie ring, which I believe is somewhere upstate."

Harry nodded resolutely. "I'll make this Diviner fayerie understand why we need their help, no matter what it takes."

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By the time 3:30 rolled around Harry, Ryan, and Azrael were already in Gringotts, waiting for the arrival of Azrael's friend. Precisely on time, the fayerie appeared on one of the transport disks and stepped over towards them.

"Azrael," Jadyn greeted warmly.

The tall vampire nodded and clasped arms with the fayerie. "Jadyn," he murmured. "Thank you for helping us."

Jadyn instantly waved the comment away. "It's no problem. You're just lucky that my older brother happens to be a Diviner, otherwise there's probably little I'd be able to do." The fayerie turned to Harry and Ryan and smiled widely at them. "So these must be the two you mentioned." He thrust his hand out at them. "I'm Jadyn Ratan."

Harry briefly glanced over Jadyn. He was rather average for a fayerie, bluish green skin, pale eyes, and all, but there was a ragged scar running down the right side of his neck. It was mostly hidden by his shoulder length white hair, but it stuck out with surprising starkness against his skin. Harry couldn't help but wonder what could have caused it.

"Hey! I'm Ryan," the werewolf said enthusiastically.

"Blake Gray," Harry introduced with a grin. He reached out to shake Jadyn's hand. "And thanks."

"No problem, no problem," Jadyn repeated. He dug around in one of his pockets before pulling out a piece of rope. "Here's the portkey. It'll take us to the base of a trail about five minutes from the ring. With luck we'll get there just before my brother arrives from Tir-na-nog; he always likes to be early."

The three other teens nodded and reached out to grab onto the rope. Jadyn muttered something that Harry assumed was in the fayeries' language and the portkey activated with a sudden jerk. After a few seconds of being roughly spun around as they were transported, the ground beneath them shifted into a well-worn dirt path.

Harry glanced around curiously and found that they were on a path in the middle of the woods. Harry recognized few of the trees and quickly realized that they must have been in upstate New York as Azrael had suggested earlier.

Jadyn led them up the path, chatting amiably with Ryan as they went. Not five minutes later however he suddenly broke off the path. They walked only a few feet through the trees before they entered into a small grassy clearing. At the north end the clearing was a wide circle of mushrooms about five feet in diameter: A fayerie ring.

Jadyn opened his mouth to say something, but Harry didn't hear it. His eyes were glued to the fayerie ring, which had abruptly begun to hum with energy, sending shivers down the mage's spine. The magic began to swirl, as if forming a vortex, before suddenly expelling and fading away.

Instantaneously there was a flash of golden light originating from the ring. When it faded away it revealed a fayerie standing calmly in the middle. He bore a striking resemblance to Jadyn, but he looked older; around twenty or so. His straight hair was almost waist length and he was dressed in a strange blue robe.

"Kail!" Jadyn called in greeting. Smiling brightly, the younger fayerie bounded over to his brother and proceeded to drag him out of the fayerie ring. "Guys, this is Kailash, my older brother. Kail, this is Azrael, Ryan, and Blake."

Kailash bowed politely towards the three teens. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he murmured. He was smiling with amused patience as Jadyn practically bounced around him. "I believe you wished to ask something of me?"

Harry stepped forwards toward the Diviner and returned his bow. "Yes, thank you for meeting with us, Ratan."

"Please, call me Kailash," the older fayerie replied. He waved one hand, instantly conjuring five chairs. "Have a seat and we shall talk."

However, as everyone took a seat, Jadyn began shaking his head. "I should get going," he said. "This isn't my business. It was nice to meet you, Blake, Ryan. I'll talk to you later, Az.“ He impulsively reached down to hug his brother. "It was good to see you again, Kail!"

And with those parting words, Jadyn strode over to the fayerie ring. He grinned impishly at the group and waved as the magic swirled up once more and he disappeared with a flash of golden light.

Kailash shook his head in amusement, but his smile quickly faded as his face turned serious once more. "I'm curious," he began after moment, leaning back in his seat, "About why you need a Diviner. Jadyn expressed that the situation was rather...urgent...though he didn't know why."

"It is," Harry replied with a grave nod. "We need help finding the locations of several Horcruxes."

Kailash breathed in sharply in shock. "Horcruxes?" he demanded.

"Just boggles the mind doesn't it?" Ryan interjected with a grin. Both Harry and Azrael threw him glares. "What?"

Harry rolled his eyes before focusing his gaze back on Kailash. "A...particular person created and hid several Horcruxes. It is imperative that we find and destroy these Horcruxes as soon as possible. I know about three of them, but the third is a living animal."

Kailash's mouth tugged down to form a harsh frown. "You're not going to give me any more details than that, are you?" he asked.

Harry shook his head. "Sorry," he said after a moment.

The fayerie sighed in resignation. "I figured as much," he muttered. "Horcruxes. Merlin, how did you kids get involved in something like this? No, don't answer; I suppose I don't want to know." He sighed again. "Alright then, tell me what the objects are so that I can tell whether or not I'll be able to help."

"Thank you," Harry said sincerely. His shoulders slumped with relief.

"It's fine," Kailash answered, waving the sentiment off. "Life's been boring since I graduated from Silvermoor five years ago anyway. I've had little to do but sit around Tir-na-nog and help nobles find their missing silverware. Something interesting like this will do me some good so, if anything, it's you who're helping me."

Ryan let out a bark of laughter. "That does sound boring," he heartily agreed. "I'd never be able to stand something like that."

Kailash replied with a grin of his own, but his eyes never left Harry's. "The objects?" he prodded. "Oh, and you were right about the living animal you mentioned before; I can only divine the nonliving."

"The two other objects that I know of are a locket and a diadem," Harry answered.

Kailash raised one white eyebrow. "You're going to have to be more specific than that," he said dryly. "There are millions of objects that match that description."

"Well..." Harry's glanced shifted uneasily but he eventually sighed. "The locket belonged to Salazar Slytherin and the diadem belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw."

Kailash, Ryan, and Azrael all gaped at him in shock.

"/Salaz—/" Kailash began, only to cut himself off with a shake of his head. "I don't want to know. I really don't want to know," he decided with another sigh. "Alright, well that should be enough info, unless they had more than one of those objects."

Ryan's grin flickered onto his face and he began bouncing in his seat like a little kid. "Ooh! Ooh!" he exclaimed. "Do we get to see a divining?"

Kailash chuckled lightly. "I suppose so, but there isn't really much to see."

As he spoke, Kailash tucked his legs beneath him so that he was sitting cross-legged. He breathed in deeply and then his eyes fluttered closed. The fayerie's face screwed up in concentration.

Harry physically flinched when magic began to roll off Kailash in waves. It sparked as if made of invisible bolts of lightning, instantly traveling across the earth. The air suddenly became heavy and oppressive to Harry, as thick with energy as it was.

For several long moments Kailash stayed frozen like this and none of the other teens could tear their eyes away. Then, without warning, the flow of the magic reversed and returned to Kailash. The fayerie sucked in a shuddering breath and opened his eyes.

"And, and?" Ryan burst out excitedly. "How'd it go? Did you find them? Did you?"

Kailash didn't react to Ryan's outburst. He was staring off into space a small frown marring his face.

"Kailash...?" Harry inquired quietly.

Kailash's pale silver eyes lifted to meet Harry's gaze. "I found them, but..." He shook his head abruptly, pushing away whatever thoughts were in his head. "Salazar Slytherin's locket is in Great Britain ...In a cave near the coast. I'll be able to lead you there, but you'll have to get it yourself. As for Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem, well...That's a bit more difficult. I can tell that it's somewhere in the Scottish highlands, but...There’s some strange sort of magic around it. My magic kept slipping away from its location, as if it was both there and not there. I've never encountered anything like it before. I'll have to look into it further before I can give you a definite local."

"Hmm..." Harry frowned fiercely. "Well, thanks, for your help," he said. "You have no idea how much this will help."

Kailash flashed him a smile. "Some day you'll have to tell me the story behind this," he replied. "I have no doubt that it's quite the tale."

Harry's own grin was humorless. "You have no idea."

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"Are you sure this is the right place?" Ryan asked doubtfully. He was warily eyeing the dark cave entrance before them as if expecting monsters to come pouring from the interior.

Ryan, Azrael, and Harry were standing on a rocky outcrop before the narrow entrance of a cave. Freezing sea water licked at their ankles and soaked the bottoms of their pants. Annoyed, Harry set up a barrier of air to hold the water back.

Azrael glanced back at the stormy sea behind them, a frown planted firmly on his face. "I assume this is the cave Diviner Ratan spoke of but..."

"We don't know if we can trust him," Harry agreed. He shrugged. "There's nothing we can do but check it out though."

Without waiting for a reply, Harry conjured a ball of light and stepped into the cave entrance. Behind him, Ryan and Azrael briefly exchanged glances before shrugging and following his lead.

The narrow entrance opened onto a dark tunnel that Harry could tell would be filled with water at high tide. The slimy walls were barely three feet apart and glimmered like wet tar in the passing light. A little way in the passageway curved to the left and Harry saw that it extended far into the cliff. He continued to wade through the water, his two friends sloshing noisily after him. Almost as an after thought, Harry warmed the air around them, to keep all three of them comfortable.

The tunnel eventually led into a wide cave with smooth walls and a high ceiling. The hairs on the back of Harry's neck instantly stood up; the entire cave was humming with magic. Harry could literally feel it coursing through the walls.

"Er, Blake, I'm not seeing any lockets," Ryan pointed out. The werewolf was casually inspecting the cavern walls. "Why in Merlin's name would Voldemort hide a piece of his soul here?" he muttered. "Damn wizards..."

"I think...that this is just an antechamber," Harry muttered. His eyes were glued to a section of the wall where the magic converged to form the shape of a solid door. "An entrance to the actual cave. The door is concealed, to prevent entrance."

Harry approached the hidden door, letting his fingertips softly slide over the smooth rock. The magic swirled beneath his fingers, but did not move. Tentatively the young mage channeled some of his own magic.

The reaction was instantaneous: An arched outline appeared, blazing white as though there was a powerful light behind the crack. But then the light faded, leaving the rock bare and solid as ever.

"Merlin!" Ryan breathed. "That was cool! I never expected to see enchantments like that here!"

"This is the hiding place for a /soul fragment,/" Azrael said with a snort. "Did you honestly expect it to be unguarded?"

"But how to open it..." Harry mused aloud, partially as a question, but mostly to break up the retort that he knew would already be on Ryan's lips.

"Blood."

Harry turned to stare at Azrael. "/What?/"

"Blood," the vampire repeated. "It's the most common type of ward used by wizards, particularly dark ones. The idea is that the person trying to get through will be physically weakened. This, of course, does not account for the healing methods of the Magical World nor the naturally advanced healing that most magical beings tend to have."

To demonstrate his point, Azrael strode up to the doorway Harry had pointed out, pulling out a dagger as he did so. Calmly, and without even the faintest hint of a flinch, he dug the point of the dagger across his palm, causing crimson blood to bloom in its wake. He magically cleaned the blade while simultaneously pressing his palm into the rock wall.

The blazing silver outline of an arch appeared in the wall once more, and this time it did not fade. Instead the rock vanished beneath Azrael's hand, leaving an opening into what seemed to be total darkness.

"See?" Surprisingly, there was no smugness in Azrael's tone. He simply put his dagger away and healed his hand by running a finger along the length of the cut, sealing it up, all the while with an unruffled expression on his face.

"Er, right," Harry replied as he cautiously stuck his head into the opening. "Thanks Azrael."

"Good thing we brought you along, eh?" Ryan said with a grin, slapping Azrael on the back. "We'd be stuck without your vampire, blood-obsessed ways."

Azrael rolled his eyes before following Harry into the next chamber. Ryan scrambled after them.

An eerie sight met the three teens' eyes: They were standing on the edge of a great black lake, so vast that Harry could not make out the distant banks, in a cavern so high that the ceiling too was out of sight. A misty greenish light shone far away in what looked like the middle of the lake, though Harry couldn't tell for sure, and it was reflected in the completely still water below.

The greenish light and the glow from Harry's conjured ball of light were the only things that broke the otherwise velvety blackness. Even then the light didn't seem to penetrate as far as Harry would have expected. The darkness was somehow denser than normal darkness.

Ryan let out a low whistle. "Damn, man. It looks like this Voldemort fellow had a lot of time on his hands..." he muttered. "How the hell are we supposed to get across the lake? Assuming we do need to cross it, of course."

Harry nodded absently. "The locket is probably in the middle of the lake," he commented, gesturing towards the green glow.

"Conjure a boat," Azrael said in response to Ryan's question. "Or transfigure one. You're supposed to be the up and coming transfiguration master, right?"

Ryan's chest puffed out in pride. "Hell yeah!" he said and then immediate marched down to the lake's edge, preparing to create boat. He was barely two feet from the water however when he suddenly scrambled back with a yelp.

Immediately Harry and Azrael raced down to the werewolf. "Ryan?!"

Ryan's face was pale and he was shaking with shock and disgust. "Inferi!" he snarled, pointing wildly at the lake. His voice was higher than normal. "There are fucking Inferi in there!"

Harry stared at him, confused. Azrael's face however instantly clouded over. If Harry didn't know better he'd say that the vampire looked personally insulted.

"He dares," the crimson eyed boy hissed. He said no more after that, just stood glaring darkly down at the lake.

"Uh, what?"

"Inferi," Ryan repeated, turning to face Harry. He was scowling and looking angrier than Harry had ever seen him. "Zombies, basically. They're dead corpses animated with magic. It's disgusting; a complete violation of a person's will."

Suddenly all of the tension seemed to drain out of the werewolf. He sighed deeply, glancing back over at the lake. "We can't get to the lake via water then," he muttered.

A frown tugged at Harry's lips as he eyed the lake warily. He could barely believe that Voldemort would go so far to steal people's lives even after they were dead, and yet at the same time it was completely expected. The Inferi only confirmed his belief that Voldemort needed to be taken care of.

"We'll have to go over the lake then," Harry said firmly.

Ryan and Azrael turned to look at him with raised eyebrows, but Harry simply shouldered past them and approached the lake. He repressed a shudder upon seeing a pale white hand drifting just below the surface and then quickly tore his gaze away. With a few swift twists of magic he conjured a stone platform floating on a base of air just above the ground.

"Sweet!" Ryan exclaimed before jumping onto the platform. He stamped on the stone as if to check if it was stable. All of his previous seriousness seemed to have evaporated.

Once Harry and Azrael had joined Ryan on the platform, Harry levitated it until they were floating fifteen feet about the ground and then began to move it out over the water. The height turned out to be a good thing because once they were over the water the Inferi began floating towards the surface. Harry shivered at the sight of the pale glimmering hands reaching up through the water before forcefully turning his gaze towards the green mist in the middle of the lake.

It turned out the green glow hid a small island of smooth rock. It was a flat expanse of dark stone on which stood nothing but the source of that greenish light, which looked much brighter when viewed up close. Harry squinted at it; at first, he thought it was lamp of some kind, but then he saw that he light was coming from a stone basin, which was set on top of a pedestal.

The three teens cautiously stepped up to the pedestal, leaving the platform resting a foot above the ground. Side by side they looked down into it. The basin was full of an emerald liquid emitting that phosphorescent glow.

"/Woah,/" Ryan breathed. He glanced up at Azrael. "What is it?"

With a jerk Harry remembered that Azrael was supposed to be very good with potions. He felt a wave of relief flow through him that he had asked Azrael to come; he wasn't entirely sure what he'd have done if the vampire wasn't there.

"It's a...custom potion," Azrael murmured after several minutes of studying the liquid. "It's designed to cause an unendurable pain, if my guess is right. It won't kill its victim, just leave them incapacitated. Most likely the locket is at the bottom of the basin, protected by the potion.."

Ryan inched away from the basin, eying it warily. "Er, right. So how do we get rid the potion?"

"There are wards," Harry said suddenly. He'd been studying the magic swirling around the basin, trying to figure out what the separate layers were. "High level ones. From what I can see they prevent any magic from being used on the basin."

Ryan frowned. "So what're we supposed to do then? Just reach in and pull out the locket?"

"No, it wouldn't be that easy..." Azrael murmured. He cautiously prodded at the air around the basin and found that there was an invisible barrier preventing him reaching inside. He glanced over at Harry. "Blake...Can you remove the wards?"

"Possibly," Harry muttered distractedly. "Just give me some time."

Harry bent over the stone basin, his hands hovering in the air, testing the magic. In their enchantment class, Harry had proven to be the best at the unraveling magic, doubtless because of his ability to sense energy. Since then both Aetius and Ciar had worked with him to advance his proficiency.

A wizard's wards, it turned out, were far different than the ones in the Magical World. They contained a lot less magic behind them and the complexity was almost nonexistent. To a wizard these wards would have been as solid as a ten foot thick steel wall, but to a magical being like Harry, who could manipulate the energy as he saw fit...Well, it wasn't long before he had the magic unraveling beneath his hands.

Finally Harry leaned back with a small sound of triumph. "Done," he said with a smirk. "You can get rid of the potion now."

"No," Azrael said sharply when Ryan eagerly leaned in. "There's no way I'm just leaving the potion."

Ryan and Harry rolled their eyes when Azrael pulled out a vial to hold the potion. The crimson eyed vampire ignored them and used his proficiency with the water element to force the glowing emerald potion to rise up out of the basin and into the vial.

"Done?" Ryan suddenly asked. Strangely his voice was a few octaves higher than normal. Harry stared him in confusion, but the werewolf's gaze was glued over his shoulder. "Cause we've got a problem."

Hearing a sloshing sound behind him, Harry quickly spun around. And then froze in shock.

The surface of the lake was no longer mirror-smooth. It was churning and everywhere Harry looked white heads and hands were emerging from the dark water, men and women and children with sunken, sightless eyes were moving toward the rock: An army of the dead rising from the black water. Under Harry's wide eyes scores of the Inferi latched onto the edges of the small island and began to drag themselves onto the rock.

"Oh /shit—!/"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A/N: Masses of Inferi. Of what oh what will three trained magical beings do? You have no idea how glad I am to have finally reached the first action scene of the story. Though not plot-progressing, they're so much more fun to write than dialogue.

Also, I'd like to thank StormyBabe1988 for offering to beta this story. Your help is much appreciated!

On a different note, I've just posted a new story. Well, story is a loose term; it's actually a collection of HP story ideas that I'll probably never get around to actually writing. I know I'm only supposed to be working on SoG this month, but inspiration struck and I just couldn't help it. Check it out if you're interested.

More info on this story can be found at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ShadowRebirthFanfiction.

--S.R.
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