Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Shades of Gray

Chapter 18: The Crusaders

by Shadow_Rebirth 17 Reviews

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2008/12/05 - Updated: 2008/12/06 - 6088 words

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Title: Shades of Gray: The Crusaders
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: StormyBabe1988
Rating: T/PG-13
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, language, spoilers
Chapter WC: 5,618
Story WC: 94,220
First Written: November 20, 2008
Last Edited: December 5, 2008
Posted: December 5, 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 18
The Crusaders

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For several long seconds, Harry stared at Senka in shock. The elf managed to hold his gaze during that time, before abruptly collapsing, like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Harry reflexively reached out and caught her as she fell while his mind worked itself up into a panic.

"'Mm fine," Senka slurred, barely even conscious. She struggled to get back on her feet, but Harry just shook his head mutely before levitating her over to his couch.

Senka groaned quietly as her back met the rough fabric of the couch. Not for the first time Harry cursed himself for not learning any healing magic. There was no way for him to help—or even just to stabilize—Senka.

"Hold on," Harry said quickly. "I'll create a portkey to New York's magical hospital—"

"No!" Senka said sharply. She rose a few inches off the couch automatically before her face screwed up in pain and she fell back again. "No hospitals," she said hoarsely.

"Senka, you need help," Harry replied, frowning in concern. "And I can't do anything."

"No hospitals," Senka repeated weakly. Her eyes began to drift close and Harry started panicking again.

"Damn it!" he cursed aloud. He ran a shaky hand threw his hair, a nervous gesture he'd picked up years ago, before grimacing when he realized that his hands—and indeed, his clothes, couch, and floor—were covered with slick blood. The only reason Harry wasn't nauseous was because the situation was too dire for him to care.

Making a split-second decision, Harry created and portkey and quickly activated it while holding Senka as steady with his magic as was possible. They landed in the middle of one of Silvermoor's wide stone hallways and Senka immediately wrapped one arm tightly around her midsection and began hacking up blood.

Harry hesitated for a moment, torn between making sure his elvin friend was okay and getting help, before quickly sticking his head through the doorway in front of them.

"Professor Cyan!" he yelled out. "Professor!" He desperately hoped that the Healer was here in Silvermoor even though it was still summer. If she wasn't, then Harry would have no choice but to take Senka to a nearby hospital, no matter her wishes.

To Harry's infinite relief, Cyan came out of a back room of the Healer's Wing, a scowl fixed firmly on her face. "Mr. Gray," she barked. "What are you doing here?"

Harry didn't bother to answer the fayerie's question. He turned back to Senka and carefully levitated her into the room and over to one of the beds. To his horror, her eyes were beginning to drift shut again.

Upon seeing Senka is such a condition, Cyan was by their side in an instant. "What happened?" she demanded. Her hands were already hovering over Senka, beginning to heal some of the worst wounds.

"I don't know," Harry replied with dismayed shake of his head. "She just showed up at my apartment. She...she refused to go to the hospital and I didn't know what else to do, so..."

Cyan's eyes cut to Harry sharply. Her mouth thinned, but she didn't say anything and Harry had a strange feeling that it wasn't just because her attention was on healing Senka.

"Go to the headmistress' office and get Mikhailova," Cyan said after a moment.

Harry hesitated, but eventually turned and began to race towards Mikhailova's office. It was almost eerie to see the halls of the school so empty. Harry ran faster.

The young man literally skidded to a stop in front of Headmistress Mikhailova's office in the back of the Alpha Building. He knocked a few times in rapid succession before letting himself in.

Mikhailova had been hunched over her desk and when Harry burst in she looked up, startled. When she saw who the intruder was she only looked more surprised. Taking in his uneven breaths, disheveled appearance, and panicked expression, she raised an eyebrow in silent question.

The words practically fell from Harry's mouth as he rushed to get them out as quickly as possible. "It's Senka Williams, Headmistress! She's badly hurt. Professor Cyan told me to come get you."

The ice elf's eyes widened once more, before quickly narrowing. Almost faster than Harry could track, she was out of her seat and standing next to Harry, a thunderous expression on her face. Harry gulped and took a step backwards, confused as to why she was suddenly so furious.

"Come," Mikhailova instructed, barely even glancing at Harry.

She began to stride towards the Healer's Wing and even though he was taller than her, Harry almost had to jog to keep up. It seemed Mikhailova was downright scary when she was pissed off; Harry could feel magic rolling off her in waves.

When they reached the Healer's Wing, Mikhailova threw open the door and swept over to where Cyan was standing over Senka. The elvin girl looked a good deal better than she had when Harry had departed, but sweat was running down Professor Cyan's brow and she was obviously growing exhausted. Thus, Harry wasn't too surprised when Mikhailova rolled her sleeves up to her elbows, placed her hands a few inches above Senka's torso, and began to help.

Harry paced nervously near the wall as silence pervaded the room. He desperately wanted to help, to do something other than stand there like an idiot, but he knew as well as they did that he'd only get in the way. Then with a sudden jolt, Harry remembered the rest of his friends. He swiftly pressed a finger to the small metal ETC that was placed directly behind his ear and channeled a small amount of magic to activate it.

"Ryan?" he called out in his mind.

There was silence for a few seconds, then, "Whozzat? Erg, Blake? ...What the hell? It's almost two in the fucking morning!"

"Senka's been hurt," Harry replied without any preamble.

"Senka was— Wait, what?!"

"Can you get to Silvermoor?"

"I— Silvermoor? What the hell?" Ryan questioned, clearly confused. "I can't make portkeys yet like you can, Blake—Er, Harry. Damn, I'm never gonna get used to calling you that...—Anyway, I'll get there first thing in the morning through Gringotts. How is Senka? Is she alright?"

"She's not in immediate danger anymore," Harry answered. He briefly glanced over to where the two older women were still working. "...At least I don't think so. I've got to go now; I'm going to tell Azrael too."

Without waiting for a reply, Harry cut the connection and concentrated on Azrael. "Azrael, are you there?"

Unlike with Ryan, Azrael answered immediately and Harry offhandedly remembered that it would already be almost nine AM in Italy, where the vampire lived. Harry rapidly repeated what he'd told his werewolf friend.

"...I won't be able to come," Azrael said after a moment. "I'm in the middle of training and my father won't let me leave, not even for something like this. Will you keep me updated on how Senka is?"

"Of course. I understand."

Mere seconds after Harry finished his conversation with Azrael, Professor Cyan and Headmistress Mikhailova stepped away from Senka with identical sighs. They both cleaned up the blood on and around them and Cyan began to fix up Senka's clothes while Mikhailova headed over towards Harry.

"How is she?"

"She'll be fine," Mikhailova said tiredly. "Did she say anything to you about what happened?" Harry wordlessly shook his head and the headmistress sighed.

"She's awake," Cyan said suddenly.

Both Harry and Mikhailova's heads snapped around at that to look and found that indeed the teen was struggling to sit up in bed. Cyan pushed her back down with a sharp reprimand. To Harry's great surprise, Senka actually glared petulantly up at the professor.

"Miss Williams," Mikhailova began with surprisingly gentleness. Senka grudgingly tore her gaze away from Professor Cyan to give Mikhailova her full attention. "Can you tell us what happened?"

Senka's eyes flickered over to where Harry was standing next to the ice elf. Frowning, Mikhailova followed her line of sight.

"Mr. Gray, would you please—" the ice elf started to say.

"No," Senka interrupted with a quick shake of her head. "He can stay. This...This is important." She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. They remained closed as she spoke. "As I'm sure, you're well aware, Headmistress, the elves have been rather...anxious...lately. Yesterday our King finally came to a decision regarding the current...situation...of the Magical World. I disagreed with his choice and as you know, going against the king is considered a traitorous action, punishable by death. I...I fought my way out and just barely managed to Apparate away."

Harry gaped openly. Situation? What did she mean? What on Earth could the elves be deciding that made Senka's disagreement so bad?

As Senka spoke, Mikhailova began to scowl, her face growing thunderous once more. "I had feared that this was the case," she growled. "But I had hoped that they would be more...open-minded than this. You may seek refuge here at Silvermoor, Miss Williams. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some important calls to make."

Mikhailova turned on her heel and strode out of the Healer's Wing without a second glance. Harry had a feeling she was attempting to restrain her anger; not at Senka, but over what had happened. And he wasn't even precisely sure yet what had happened.

When Harry looked back at Senka, he found that her eyes had opened and she was staring at Harry with an unrecognizable expression. Cyan had already left as well.

"I have to admit, I'm confused," Harry said after a minute.

A small grin flitted across Senka's face. "I'm not surprised. The Magical World has been in turmoil for quite some time now, but it's just recently that it has finally come to a boil," she replied. "The elves—well, at least some of the settlements—have decided to support a wizard named Voldemort."

Harry's brain stopped working for several infinitely long moments. He stared blankly at Senka, unable to comprehend her words.

"V-Voldemort?! But, I mean, why?"

Senka chuckled humorously as she stared up at the ceiling. "You've only been in the Magical World for a short time, but you've doubtlessly noticed that some magical beings have a great...distaste...for muggles and wizards. They see them as lesser beings," she said with a sigh. Harry nodded silently, remembering the mocking words he'd often heard his peers use. "You have to understand that magical beings once ruled the world, in a way. We were seen as gods by muggles and some magical beings were like gods, in a way. Demigods might be a more accurate term to use. However, we eventually sealed ourselves off from the muggle world and they slowly forgot our existence. Before long even the wizards, a magical subspecies who evolved from mages, allowed their memories of us to erode.

"Over time some magical beings have become angry over how the wizards' and muggles' feel superior. There are some who want things to go back to the way they were thousands of years ago or even to wipe out the 'lesser' races. No one has done anything, however....Until now. Now many different magical beings, who call themselves 'Crusaders', have decided to back Voldemort, who also seeks the destruction or enslavement of the muggles."

"But why join a wizard? Don't they hate wizards too?" Harry cried, more confused than ever.

Harry felt as though his mind was chasing itself in a circle. None of this made any sense! Sure, he'd noticed the disdain and superiority that many magical beings held, but why in Merlin's name would they join up with a wizard? It completely defeated the purpose of what they wanted to accomplish. He felt like there was some big piece of the puzzle that was missing.

"I do not know," Senka replied with a shake of her head. "It was not explained to us. Of course, there are still many magical beings who disagree with this philosophy, myself included. I fear that the Magical World may be on the edge of another World War, this one for the fate of the muggles and wizards."

Something about that last sentence struck a chord in Harry. "Another World War?" he asked curiously. "You mean there's been some in the Magical World before?"

"Several," Senka agreed. "The biggest of them occurred about two and half thousand years ago. It was around then that we began separating ourselves from the rest of the world, because of how badly the world was ravaged. The most recent was about a thousand years ago, though that one was relatively small, and the oldest remembered one was four thousand years ago. We magical beings have a very long history..."

At that moment Professor Cyan returned, several bottles of potions in hand. "Please drink these Miss Williams," she said. "And Mr. Gray, please let her sleep."

Harry nodded. "I'll spend the night here at Silvermoor," he told Senka. "Ryan will be here first thing in the morning and I'll send notes to Zahra and Damion tonight."

After saying goodnight, Harry began to realize just how tired he was after this whole fiasco. He dragged himself to his dorm room, all the while lamenting that he would have to get up again in just a few hours.

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In the middle of the next morning, Ryan and Zahra arrived to see how Senka was. Like Harry, they were both very concerned about this new development. It just figured that Harry would go from one war into an ever larger one.

Some time before lunch, Aetius and Ciar also stopped by. They'd apparently heard about what had happened and were concerned, even though neither of them had Senka as a student.

"I had no idea that the situation in the Magical World was so bad," Harry commented as he sat with Aetius outside the Healer's Wing.

Aetius grunted noncommittally. Harry stared at him, surprised by how somber the usually boisterous vampire was acting.

"Professor...?"

Aetius turned to him, but still seemed to be lost in thought. "I hadn't expected anyone to begin acting so soon," he said finally. "But I suppose Lord Noctis' boldness should have been a warning..."

"Lord Noctis?" Harry repeated, shocked. Instantly his mind went to the day he'd found Aetius injured several months ago and the conversation he'd overheard between Ciar and Aetius. "He...?"

"Er," Aetius grimaced, looking a little guilty. "Yes. Lord Noctis is among those who support the suppression of muggles and wizards. About half of vampires do. The numbers for werewolves and mages who are in agreement are less than half that, thankfully. The veela however...They've long been ostracized by wizards, who know about their society. I fear that most of them may choose to help Voldemort.

"As for the elves...The elves are not so split as the rest of the magical world. At least two thirds of the settlements are choosing to side against the muggles, from what I last heard. There are only three settlements who disagree with this new—relatively new, mind you—philosophy. The nymphs are, as always, neutral."

Harry released a sigh. This situation was bad. "What about the other magical races?" he asked.

"The fayeries, goblins, dwarves, and drakyns will stay out of any wars," Aetius said with surprising certainty. "The goblins and drakyns always have and will not change their policy now. The dwarves participated in the world war that took place two thousand years ago, but it was that war that destroyed much of their race. They used to have colonies all over the world, you know. Now the only one left is Hallthor, here in Greenland.

"As for the fayeries...They too took a large blow during the last war. It is most likely that they will seal themselves off from this war, helping neither side. It won't affect them much in any case, since they often opt to stay in Avalon and have no interaction with humans."

"Why are the nymphs natural?" Harry asked curiously after a moments pause. "Because of their healing abilities?"

"Hardly," Aetius said with a laugh. "Though I suppose that might play a small part. But no, it's because the nymphs are seers."

"Seers?" Harry repeated incredulously. "I hadn't known that the Magical World believed in... Divination." The young mage's distaste for the subject was clear in his voice.

Again Aetius laughed. "Unlike wizards, we actually understand divination," the vampire replied. "We understand that no one but nymphs can see the future, and even that is relative. You must understand that 'seeing the future' isn't really an accurate description because the future is never set in stone. What the nymphs are able to see is what, out of the infinite possibilities, is the most likely to take place. And there are certain events that are almost certain to happen, even if they can happen in different way. Though the images they see will be hazy at best, as people make decisions that influence our future, they are able to shape that blurry mess into a rather accurate picture of coming events.

"However, the nymphs have long sworn to never freely give information about the future away. Little things they will tell to those who ask, but even for kings they will not break their silence about major events. Occasionally they will give cryptic warnings about the future, but never more than that. It's a good thing too, really; knowledge like that can corrupt far too easily."

The soft rustling of clothing was all the warning they had before Ciar and Talbot suddenly appeared around the corner. They were both frowning and talking in hushed tones. Though Talbot almost always looked serious—indeed, Harry didn't think he'd ever seen the fayerie crack a smile—he managed to look even more grim than usual. They only fell silent when they stopped in front of Aetius and Harry.

Harry inclined his head politely towards his Magical Creatures professor, but his eyes stayed glued on Ciar. The man had disappeared a few hours earlier in order to get more information from some of his contacts.

"I assume they haven't released Miss Williams yet?" Ciar asked gruffly.

"Professor Cyan is doing a last check up on her before they let her go," Harry answered with a shake of his head.

"Good. I need to ask her a couple more things first. Bora?"

Talbot nodded and turned away. "I'll talk to Lord Darius right away and let you know what he says."

Harry could honestly say he had no idea what they were talking about, but he didn't bother to ask. Instead, he stared off into space for several more moments, his mind still whirling. He sighed again as the weight of the situation began to settle on his shoulders. He just couldn't seem to get away from blood supremacy, could he?

"There’s going to be an outright war, isn't there?" he murmured.

"Yes." Ciar nodded sadly. "Unfortunately, we don't fully know the plans of this rogue magical faction, of these Crusaders, but we do know that their goal will be to destroy as many muggles as they can. It would be wonderful if we could conceal this war from the muggles and wizards as we've managed to do in the past, but their goal will because to cause destruction, not hide it, that will be impossible. It's only made worse by the fact that we're not their main opponents: Muggles are. This will be a difficult and unconventional war."

"What I can't figure out," Aetius piped up, "Is why they think they can win. They are out numbered even with fayeries pulling out. What do they have on their side that makes them so bold?"

Ciar rubbed his temple as if to ward off an encroaching headache. "They wouldn't make their intentions so obvious unless they were sure of their victory," he agreed. "Granted, elves always deal with 'traitors' internally, so they probably hadn't expected Miss Williams to escape. But that still changes little."

Harry frowned as he listened to the two professors throw theories around. Clearly this situation was even more complicated than he'd thought. They were right though. Just why was this new magical faction think they could win?

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The sound of his name being called caused Harry to halt as he walked through Silvermoor, where he'd spent the past few days instead of returning to his apartment. He glanced back and saw, to his surprise, that Jadyn was running after him. As Kailash's younger brother, Harry had only ever met the younger fayerie once.

"Ratan," Harry greeted politely. "How can I help you?"

Jadyn attempted to smile, but it came out as more of a nervous grimace. "I've got a message from my brother," he said, going straight to the point.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Then why didn't he send me a note? Or, if it's not so important, then why didn't you just wait until the start of school? It's only a week away."

"That's partly what it's about," Jadyn said quickly. "I won't be returning to Silvermoor this year. My parents are pulling me out, though they won't tell me why." He made a face. "Something to do with security since my brother's a Diviner. Since I'm here to collect the stuff I left in my dorm room, Kailash wanted me to pass this note onto you. I have no idea why he didn't just send it to you."

As he finished speaking, Jadyn pulled a slim envelope from his pocket. He handed it to Harry, who took it despite the confusion he was feeling.

"Say hi to Azrael for me, will you?" Jadyn asked.

Harry nodded absently. He was still staring at the envelope even as he said his goodbyes to the young fayerie.

The young mage didn't even make it back to his dorm room before curiosity got the better of him and he tore open the envelope. Inside he found a surprisingly long letter from Kailash.

It turned out that the letter was in fact a long explanation of the fayeries' attitude toward the upcoming war and how their king was officially going to stay out of it. Kailash mentioned that, though Jadyn didn't really understand it, he and many other fayerie students were being pulled back to Avalon so that they wouldn't get caught up in the war. He had to send the letter to Harry through Jadyn because all outgoing mail from Avalon was being monitored.

Harry was confused as to why Kailash felt like he owed Harry enough to tell him about all of this, especially since he could get in trouble for doing it.

Regardless, Harry was glad for the letter. All he'd heard lately was speculation about which governments were going to do this and which groups were going to do that. It was nice to finally have something sure, even if it was just that the fayeries were refusing to get involved. In a way it was just as bad as helping to kill the muggles, but he could understand their reasoning.

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Not long after Harry had gotten absorbed in a book about enchantment than a knock came at his dorm room door. He glanced up as the knob turned and Zahra let herself inside.

"Hey Blake," she greeted and Harry realized with a wince that he still hadn't told Zahra or Senka what his real name was. He was tempted to not reveal it at all, but Damion, Ryan, and Azrael already knew.

"Zahra," he replied in kind. "How's Senka?"

"Completely fine, for the most part; Professor Cyan did a great job. She's sleeping right now and probably will be for the rest of the day."

Harry nodded. "Say, Zahra, did you find anything more about your brother while you were home?"

The Egyptian girl shook her head dejectedly. "Nothing," she answered as she slumped into a seat across from Harry. "No clues whatsoever. It's like he just disappeared into thin air..."

"Do you..." Harry hesitated. "...Do you think it could be related to what's going on with the rest of the world?"

Zahra's brow furrowed, but after a moment she shook her head. "I don't see how it could be," she said honestly. "Jibade had nothing against muggles. I mean, my family works with them all the time! Plus he was one of the kindest beings I've ever met. He was always a mediator between my father and me when we fought and he didn't have a mean bone in his body. There's just no reason for him to get involved or for someone to involve him!"

Seeing how much this was affecting Zahra, Harry quickly changed the topic onto the upcoming year. They'd already signed up for their upcoming classes that summer and Harry was curious as to what his other friends had chosen.

"I'm continuing with Transfiguration, Enchantment, and Magical Theory of course," Zahra said. "I decided to go forward with Potions as well. I'm dropping Healing though; it's just not my thing. Instead I'll be taking a second hour of Elemental Manipulation. I got moved up to Advance Physical Arts too, so that'll take up some extra time. My last class is Soul Magic. I heard from Senka that it was interesting, so I figured that I might as well." She shrugged.

Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. He'd known that Zahra was like a demon when fighting, but he hadn't actually expected her to get moved up to Advanced Physical Arts; less than half a dozen second years made it because it was mainly a class for fourth years. He'd have expected Azrael to make it, coming from a warrior background and all, but not the diminutive mage.

"What classes did you sign up for, Blake?"

"Eh," Harry hesitated, scratching the back of his neck. "Transfiguration, Enchantment, Magical Theory, and Elemental Manipulation obviously. I'm continuing with regular Physical Arts, of course, but I decided to drop Magical Creatures in favor of Death Magic."

Now it was Zahra's turn to look surprised. "I thought you could only take Death Magic after two years of Soul Magic," she commented, confused.

"I'm taking a second year of Soul Magic at the same time," Harry replied. At Zahra dubious look, he shrugged. "Professor Ciar believes it's best for me to go straight on to Death Magic this year."

Harry shifted uneasily, unsure as to whether or not he should reveal the truth about the death magic in his magical pathways. After a moment of internal debating, he decided he'd explain it to all of his friends at the same time, once school started back up.

Now there was a conversation to look forward to.

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Less than one week later, Harry found himself leaning on the railing of his dorm room's balcony. He was staring out at the dots on the horizon that were steadily growing larger. He knew that they were carriages pulled by abraxans, bringing the first years to Silvermoor Academy of Magic.

As he stared he couldn’t help but feel slightly melancholy. It was unbelievable that it had already been a year since he'd left the Wizarding World...A year since he'd last seen his friends, barring Neville and Theodore. A whole year...

"Hey, Blake!"

Jolted from his thoughts, Harry glanced back into his room and saw that Ryan was standing just in front of the Curtain of Mist that separated his bedroom from the front part of his dorm room. Behind the werewolf were the rest of Harry's friends. The mage sighed and decided it was time to face the music.

"Hey," Harry greeted weakly as he stepped into the room.

Damion raised one eyebrow. "You called us here?"

"Er, yeah," Harry said awkwardly. He began to run one hand through his hair again before he realized what he was doing and quickly snatched the limb away. "I thought it was time to explain...Well, everything." He took a deep breath as he sank into the only chair left. "As some of you know, 'Blake Gray' is an assumed name that I've been using. My real name is Harry Potter and when I was born I was a wizard.

"My parents, James and Lily Potter, were a wizard and a witch who were among those fighting against Voldemort, the wizard dark lord. When I was only a year old Voldemort attacked my parents' home and killed my mother and father. When he tried to kill me, however, something went wrong. I've found out in the past year that the killing curse, instead of killing me like it was supposed to, was absorbed into my magical pathways, leaving them saturated with death magic. This also had the unforeseen affect of turning me into a mage.

"I grew up as a muggle, but with strange abilities that I was able to control. When I was eleven I was told that I was a wizard, but I soon found this to be more than a bit inaccurate, considering that I couldn't use a wand. It was only a year ago, when I managed to stumble across a book about magical beings, that I figured out that I was a mage. Then I came here and, well, you know the rest."

Harry stared down at his hands, which were resting his lap, unable to look up. He knew that it was irrational to feel so worried and self-conscious, especially when most of them already knew his identity, but he couldn't help it.

There was several seconds of silence as the others absorbed all of this information. Then Zahra made a small, thoughtful sound and Harry looked out purely out of curiosity. The Egyptian mage had a pensive look on her face.

"This is why you're taking Death Magic a year early," Zahra remarked. "Because of what happened with the death magic."

Harry couldn't help but quirk an eyebrow. That was Zahra's only reaction? To comment on his classes? He'd expected her to be indignant at the very least, considering that she had the fieriest personality out of all of them.

Zahra seemed to read his expression, if the smile on her own face was any indication. "What, you expected me to go into a fiery rage, yelling about how you'd kept this from us?" she teased. Harry grinned sheepishly as a reply and Zahra let out a bark of laughter. "We all have our secrets, Harry, and I can completely understand why you hid your identity. It was for your own protection, in a way."

"And even now I wouldn't recommend telling anyone else," Senka commented. She was looking as relaxed as always, which was what Harry had expected; she seemed to take everything in stride, no matter the severity of the news. "Especially with what's going on with Voldemort, your identity definitely could be used against you. I'd recommend laying low for the time being, until we know about exactly what's going to happen."

From the corner of his eye, Harry noticed that Damion's face had suddenly tightened with anxiety. He began to turn towards the vampire, but before he could even open his mouth, Ryan suddenly spoke up and he was forced to dismiss his observation for the moment.

"What I don't get," the werewolf said, "Is how you could have survived the death magic in the killing curse. I mean, doesn't it instantly kill whatever it touches?"

"Death magic is a bit more complicated than that," Harry answered. "It isn't just 'death' or anything like that. It's the opposite of energy, just as anti-matter is the opposite of matter; it's the absence of energy. Because of this it sucks the energy out of anything it comes into contact with, sort of like a black hole. When death magic hits a person, it instantly burns through their magical pathways and into their magical core, sucking away all the energy. It's this lack of energy that kills a person, not the death magic itself.

"When I was hit with death magic as a baby, what happened to me was just a one-in-a-million chance. Instead of burning through my magical pathways, it was absorbed and just kind of...stayed there. It's still there today. I don't know why—or how, for that matter—it did this, but it did. This is the whole reason why Professor Aglaeca refused to teach me at the beginning of last year and why I'm working with Professor Ciar."

Ryan, as well as the others, nodded thoughtfully, digesting this information. It was a lot to think on, Harry knew, especially since it brought together so many other little things they'd known about him.

Harry shifted uncomfortably for a moment before abruptly standing up. "I'm gonna, uh, go for a walk. I'll see you all at dinner," he said before hurrying out of the room. They might have all taken the information very well, but that didn't make it any less awkward for him. He needed to get out of the room for a little while.

The dark haired mage strolled down the hall and to the spiral stairs in the center of the large dorm building. He passed a few first years on the way down and realized that they must be settling in. It was strange to see how young they looked, despite being only a year younger. Had he really had that much of a baby face last year?

At the bottom of the stairs Harry halted abruptly. He was frozen in mid-stride, staring in shock at one of the last people he would have expected to find at Silvermoor.

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A/N: To those of you who asked: Yes, the RAB thing has been planned since before I even started writing the story. Though, admittedly, originally it was only going to be Harry and Ryan (Ryan And Blake), but then as I was writing chapter 16, Azrael literally wrote himself in; I hadn't planned for him to be there at all until the very sentence he came in. It's like he possessed me or something, I swear. It works a whole lot better with him there though anyway.

A few of you might have noticed that there are fluctuations with when types of magic are capitalized and I want to mention that this is done completely on purpose. A type of magic will be written with no capitals (i.e. death magic) while a class will be written with capitals (i.e. Death Magic). Masteries are also referred to with capitals, because it's a title (i.e. Death Master, Death Magic Mastery, etc.). And for those of you who haven't read the info in my yahoo group, a Mastery is equivalent to a Master degree in the muggle world, except that it's the only level; there is no associate degree, bachelors degree, etc. Speaking of which, I'm glad to have finally gotten a full explanation of death magic out...But really, that's another subject entirely.

And, finally, I had a conversation with another reviewer about the weakness of the wizarding race and I would like to mention what I told them: Wizards are descended from mages, making them "lesser" magical cousins, in a way. Originally they were only able to perform feats of magic when under extreme emotional stress ("accidental magic"), but then the invention of wands came about, giving them some rough control over their magic. Compared to magical beings, wizards are very weak and easily subdued; only a step above muggles. On top of having less power and less control, their magic is also less potent because the energy has to get filtered through their bodies and their wands.

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

--S.R.
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