The Potter will, Voldemort has a discussion with Peter. Harry learns the shocking truth behind his years at the Dursleys.
Chapter 9 - Secrets of a Successful Death Eater
It was well past nine in the morning before Lord Voldemort made his first appearance of the day. There was a slight spring in his step that hadn't been there before. The minions he encountered on his way to the kitchen may have noted the strange expression on his face and that his cheeks had regained some of their color. It frightened them to think that something would actually make him cheerful. They dared say nothing for fear of their lives, their magic and their very souls.
He passed by the room where the ritual had been performed last evening. The door was slightly ajar. Concerned that something may be amiss, he opened the door the rest of the way. Inside, the lifeless body of Percy Weasley lay on the table. Peter was circling around him whispering incantations and fluidly moving his wand. He chanted for a solid thirty seconds before pausing to force a greenish liquid down the throat of the deceased. From the wand movements and the color of the potion being used Voldemort recognized this as the second of four stages in the creation of an inferi. He also knew that the caster had a ten-minute window to prepare for the next casting. He would have ample opportunity to ask Wormtail for an explanation.
"Peter, you continue to surprise me. I see you are doing some beginning Necromancy here. Branching out into some new skills? When I instructed you to dispose of the body as you see fit, I did not expect this."
"Good morning Milord. You might not recall, but before I was Ron Weasley's 'pet', young Percival here was my caregiver. He was very attentive and a decent enough person. I thought it fitting that I give him a proper send off."
"And what pray do tell do you plan on doing with your new toy?"
"I had thought of sneaking him back to the burrow for the next time one of those wretched blood traitors shows their cursed faces, but now I am leaning towards having one of your servants at the ministry sneak him back into the office. After all, he is just missing from work today now isn't he? A little glamour charm to cover his new look and an odor controller and who would notice? He could very well kill a couple of people or at least maim a few. Besides, the mayhem and chaos would be entertaining."
"Why Peter, that is truly inspired thinking. Definitely the ministry idea! I was just concerned you would keep him around here. His constant presence would have been rather unsettling to young Penelope. So do tell me, what has gotten into you lately? You seem so different. I have had half a mind to check you for poly juice if it wasn't for that silver hand."
"Master do you remember that raid in Brighton two months ago? One of the worthless muggles I disposed of had a large collection of books. His vocation was what muggles call a 'motivational speaker' and the collection of books I took from him has been most inspirational. They focus on the power of positive thinking, creating career goals and identifying the mindset that will allow you to succeed in your life."
Lord Voldemort had seen many things since he first began walking this earth. It had been a long time since something made him chuckle. It was a foreign sound in his throat. As ridiculous as it sounded, one of his minions was quoting career advice in the middle of creating a walking soulless killing machine. Maybe it was the euphoria from last nights ritual, but it was genuinely amusing listening to Peter at the moment. He was a bit on the famished side, but wanted to see where this bizarre conversation was heading.
"So tell me what have you learned about your career goals and what attributes have you identified as contributing to your success as a Death Eater?"
Peter had a slightly glazed over fanatical look in his face as he sorted through the potion vials looking for the third stage activation agent. "First I had to isolate the attributes of a successful Death Eater. One of the most important is the ability to generate fear. You will notice that I have begun dressing in darker clothing, my previous cloaks were more of a grayish color tinge to them. I wanted to do that whole billowing cloak thing that Snape does, but I haven't been able to persuade him to teach me the secret. Neutral colors do not evoke much reaction as either very dark or very light colors. So I decided that a better wardrobe would help bolster my self-image and reinforce my core values allowing me to perform at a higher level. From there I looked at what characteristics do your more successful servants possess. Bella is a fanatical killer. She is absolutely ruthless, willing to kill man, woman, child, or even a kitten at a moments notice. I am working hard to emulate that, but what seems to be giving me the most trouble is how she knows just when to finish off a victim. She seems to grasp instinctively on when torturing no longer seems to be generating any tangible returns. I guess it is more of an art form than something that can be taught. The next thing I noticed is that to really excel you need to have an air of sophistication. Lucius, Severus and of course yourself seem to have that ability to charm while killing. It seems to unsettle your opponents and has an executive quality to it, but one of the rules to changing your mindset is to acknowledge your own personal shortcomings. I know I will never be a brilliant conversationalist. It also seems to be a problem trying to integrate Bella's ferocity with witty banter. I am not sure it can be done. That explains a theory that I have been working on as to why she does that baby talk thing. So, knowing that you are a 'performance based employer', I figured that you are more interested in quantity versus quality. You will probably be more impressed by a large body count versus creative ways of killing at least initially. Plus I figured as I killed more, my performance would naturally evolve to include either witty banter, baby talk or whatever little idiosyncrasy I may develop."
Voldemort nodded thoughtfully as he listened to Peter continue to spew words from his mouth. Somewhere during the conversation, he was certain that Peter had started speaking in tongues, using phrases like 'performance based employer' or 'developing collaborative synergy', whatever in Slytherin's name that actually meant! He sighed as the realization set in that yet another of his inner circle had slipped past the thin line that separates sanity from insanity, but at least Peter seemed to believe every word from those muggle books. He certainly seems motivated lately. Voldemort made a mental note to try and observe Peter at the next battle, to see this new mania firsthand.
"Well it is good to see you are taking steps in a positive direction Peter. I will be expecting great things from you in the near future. I should leave you to your reanimation. Perhaps when there is time later you could tell me more about your career 'roadmap', but for now I should leave you to your little project here on the table."
"Thank you Milord. If you would like to see the books sometime ..."
"No! That won't be necessary, but if you find something which may enhance our 'corporate strategic goals' please do bring it to my attention." He said walking out of the room wondering if St. Mungo's had ever commissioned a study on the long term effects of an animagus staying in his or her animal form for prolonged periods.
He walked into the kitchen to find his goddaughter looking a bit worse for the wear. A small pang in his chest that wasn't hunger, made him sigh. She was probably upset over the loss of her husband. The irony struck him that he actually felt more human! Who in their right mind would have ever imagined that performing such a dark ritual could make him feel more human! Her hair had a bit of an unkempt look about it and her eyes were swollen and puffy. She looked at a scone for a moment and her shoulders trembled.
"Percy used to always butter my scones for me." She said in a quavering voice. "It was one of the things I loved about him."
"I see you are upset." He said looking to grab a plate quickly not wanting to deal with a hormonal and upset pregnant woman especially one he had vowed never to harm, the temptation might prove too great.
Suddenly her entire posture changed, "Did it sound realistic? I was trying really hard to sound distraught. Was it over the top?" Her eyes glistened.
"No, it was quite believable. I don't think the Weasleys will suspect a thing. I am curious, how did you manage the puffiness around the eyes." He did not want to betray the fact that she had actually fooled him.
"Oh, I peeled an onion by hand up in my room this morning. It had just the look I was going for. I was going to use some eyeliner that I am allergic to, but that makes me breakout." She said looking very satisfied.
"It was an excellent job. Now do remember if Dumbledore is around and you feel this," He paused and extended a delicate feather light tendril of legilimancy, "You need to do what?"
"Think about how much I miss my husband and worry if he is ever going to come home to me and our child." She responded immediately bringing memories to the foreground of her mind. He saw multiple images of Percy.
"Very good. He is a sensitive fool and he won't probe any harder than that. You should be able to gain their trust quickly, because they would never suspect you."
"Will I see father before I go?"
"If all goes well we will be going to fetch him this evening. I imagine that we can make some time for a little family reunion."
"Oh, thank you!"
"Now, I do not want you to be alarmed, but I think you should know that Peter is turning our dearly departed Percy into an inferni. He is going to have him sent to the Ministry as a little surprise gift. I just don't want this to come as a shock to you." He said in a somewhat gentle tone.
"Not Percy! Why did it have to be Percy? Why, please Merlin tell me why?" She shuddered and trembled again before looking up and smiling evilly. "Just staying in character."
"Indeed, and well done."
------(Scene Break because people keep requesting it.)------
It took a minute for everyone to settle down from Narcissa's departure with Charlie. Mrs. Weasley was glaring at Dumbledore and openly worrying about her son's welfare in the company of "that woman". Fred and George looked thunderstruck with huge grins on their face from watching their elder brother practically manhandled by Narcissa Black. Bill looked relieved that he had not been chosen.
Cleftskull regained control of the proceedings. "We will now read the last will and testament of James and Lily Potter. All guardianships and trust allotments previously in effect are hereby terminated and must now be approved by Lord Potter."
Pausing momentarily he withdrew a yellowed envelope with the words 'To Harry James Potter' on it. He slid the envelope across the table to Harry. Harry refocused his breathing and concentrated on his occlumency. Thus far he was impressed by his emotional control. It was the culmination of a very difficult week of exhausting practice. He knew that he could ill afford any childish outbursts today. Otherwise, it would simply validate everyone's pet theory that he wasn't emotionally mature enough to be considered an adult.
"This is the will and testament of James Harold Potter and Lillian Evans Potter. To be executed on the day Harold James Potter reaches his majority in the Wizarding World. The deceased leave the following:
To Remus J. Lupin and Peter B. Pettigrew the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand galleons each. To Sirius Black, we leave only our love. You already have all the money you will ever need. To Frank and Alice Longbottom, we leave five hundred thousand galleons and our hopes and prayers. To Vernon and Petunia Dursley the sum of three million pounds."
Cleftskull listed off several other recipients including Dumbledore, but Harry's ears were not working anymore. The Dursleys! Three million pounds! What in Godric's name for? He stared at the yellowed envelope in front of him, wondering what message it contained for him. He returned his attention to the goblin speaking.
"All other properties and accounts are to be the property of Harry James Potter upon his acceptance of his position as Lord Harry James Potter. Mr. Potter accepting this ring will bring the Potter End of the Line clauses into effect. You will be required to wed within twelve months. You will be compelled to produce an heir within thirty-six months and two additional heirs within ten years. You are instructed to form or contribute to no less than two charitable organizations and fund them a minimum of one hundred thousand galleons a piece or one percent of the current value of the Potter liquid assets, whichever being the lesser. The Potters were once the retainers of Godric Gryffindor and assisted in the construction of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. With this in mind, the head of the family is instructed to provide aid and assistance to the current headmaster of said institution. In turn, the head of the Potter line is entrusted with a seat on the Hogwarts Board of Governors. The Potter family has acquired five hereditary votes in your government. Use them wisely. Do you accept this ring and the responsibilities that it entails?"
"I do." Harry was curious what exactly 'compelled to produce an heir meant'. He would save that question for later.
They repeated the blood-wax-ring ceremony he had witnessed Susan perform and he had already participated in when he assumed the role of Lord Black. He inquired about what properties were owned by the Potters. Cleftskull scanned several documents before shaking his head.
"Lord Potter, your family has a considerable amount of land at its disposal, but all residences have been destroyed by either the forces of Grindlewald or Voldemort. At this time there are no properties ready for habitation. If you desire, I will have a reputable architectural firm conduct site surveys of the various holdings to determine the most desirable location for a structure."
"No, don't worry about that now. The Black family properties are fine for the moment. I have more important things to worry about."
"Very well then Lord Potter. I will take my leave. Feel free to contact my colleague Scarmaker. He is currently the Black account manager and ranks among our most efficient managers. The manager of the Potter account is currently unfilled. You may elect to appoint Scarmaker to this position, or fill it with another selection if you wish to keep the accounts separate."
"Thank you for your advice Cleftskull, both now and earlier. I will defer to your judgment. Please ask Scarmaker to manage both the Black and Potter accounts." The goblin looked thoughtfully at Harry and nodded before leaving. Harry sat back down and looked at the room full of people claiming to be his friends. It pained him to think that the most supportive people today were Susan and Narcissa. He looked at Susan.
"A lot to take in huh?" She asked with a look of concern on his face.
"Yeah. Growing up I had nothing. Now it seems like I have everything, but it still feels like I have nothing."
"You've got me." She whispered and squeezed his arm under the table.
"Thanks for reminding me."
Harry opened the letter and looked at the worn parchment contained within. The script was blocky, obviously written by a man.
I hope you never read this, or if you do I am right beside you having a good laugh at my foolishness. Somehow, I doubt it. I have just been informed of a prophecy that may possibly concern you and it scares me. I have never put much stock in prophecies in general; sometimes I feel that once you have heard one, the actions you take are colored by what you think you are supposed to do to fulfill the prophecy. As such, it becomes self-fulfilling. If you don't know what prophecy I am referring to talk to Albus Dumbledore or go to the Department of Mysteries and they will allow you to access it.
What does a father say to his son in such an instance? I am sure you would like to hear me say that I am confident in all the precautions and preparations your mother and I are taking. I'm not. Maybe I am just a stubborn twenty-one year old, but hiding under a fidelius charm just doesn't seem proper. My plan involved two dozen hit wizards under contract, the Marauders, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Alastor Moody and a heavily warded castle in the Scottish highlands. Needless to say, your mother and Dumbledore outvoted me. They are putting too much stock in obscure spells and forgotten rituals. I often wonder if it is us using the magic or the magic using us. I don't blame them though, that attitude seems to be everywhere in the magical world, but I am beginning to believe that magic does not in fact have the solution to every problem. Your mother says that I am a cynic. I prefer the term realist.
In the event that both your mother and I fall, she has enacted an obscure blood magic ritual to protect you by placing you with her sister. There are no members of my family left that are related close enough. They seem like decent enough muggles, I suppose. I don't like the way this whole transaction took place though. It seemed a bit heavy handed on our part. I hope that Lily's actions did not reap unintended consequences. The Dursleys seemed quite reluctant. Out of my own guilt, I added the extra million to the previously agreed payment.
The day I became Lord Potter ranks among the saddest in my short life. I sat in an empty room and stared at the family tapestry. You would be shocked at the number of Potters that never reached the age of thirty. We are the vanguard of the light, but it looks as if we are losing. So many wars, so many battles have all but destroyed our noble family. The cost of freedom for Britain has been paid with Potter blood. Now there are just you, Lily and I - in all likelihood there will be just you by the time this letter is opened.
I will try and liven up the mood here. Rereading the letter has depressed me as much as I am sure it has you. I sound like I am already defeated. I am still breathing. I have a beautiful wife and a fantastic son! I'm not beaten yet! Remember that Harry. As long as you are breathing, as long as you can still get back on your feet, you aren't beat yet! Rest assured that if he comes for you, it will be licking his wounds from fighting me! I'm a better quidditch player than a dueler, but I am no slouch. I hope you have taken to the greatest sport in the air as well. My motto is Seekers may win the game, but Chasers play the game! I would have been pro, if this damn war wasn't around, but I can play what if games all day long.
No matter what be true to your instincts. Don't hesitate to 'go from the gut'. Peter and Remus are always telling me that 'thinking gets me into trouble'. Sirius doesn't think, so he isn't allowed to comment.
I will leave you with this parting advice; you have a destiny to fulfill. Do it son! Make sure that your children do not have to sit in a room reading a letter from their 'old man' about how history has a tendency to kill off people named Potter.
I love you son,
Harry finished the letter and felt the overwhelming strain against his occlumency shields. In his minds eye, the cracks and fissures in his protective wall became gaping holes as his emotions surged outward. He opted to use a technique mentioned in his text called 'pain redirection' with his left hand he pounded the bottom of his fist into the table. The jolt of pain traveling up his arm helped to relieve the pressure on his shields. Susan jumped in surprise and joined the rest of the people in the room looking at him strangely. The only one who truly understood the purpose behind his action was Dumbledore. Their eyes met briefly. If looks alone were capable of hurling curses across the room a full-scale battle would be in progress. After a minute, Harry looked back down at the letter in his non-throbbing hand.
In a cold voice devoid of any emotion Harry said, "I need to go see the Dursleys. Bill will you escort me there? I need you to check the wards there to see how much time they have to get out of there."
"Why do you feel the need to go back there Harry?" Dumbledore asked.
"I need to find out what you and my mom did to them! I don't trust you to tell me the truth and as much as they hate me, I expect they will give me a straight answer."
"I do not understand Harry."
"Apparently, whatever it was it made my father feel guilty enough to give them an extra one million pounds!" Several people in the room murmured.
"Harry, I would caution you against going back there ..."
Harry choked back a derisive chuckle. "There's a switch! Normally, you can't wait to send me back to that hellhole, but the moment I might actually want to ask them questions it's not safe anymore."
Harry didn't wait for him to answer. He stood and started towards the door. Susan was following him, but at the moment he didn't care. Bill looked at Harry and back to Dumbledore confused for a moment.
"Harry, are you sure?"
"Yes Bill. You are the best person I know when it comes to wards. I'm going with or with out you. I'd prefer with you, but I settle for the other."
Molly Weasley chimed in, "Harry, please stop and wait for a moment."
"No! I think I have listened to enough half truths and misinformation for one day. Are you going to release your lock on this door old man?"
"I believe we should all calm down Harry, before anyone leaves this room."
"I will make this simple for you Albus. You need me. I know you need me. You know you need me. I will never be your puppet again. Your manipulations of my life ended today. Those days are over! The will said aid and assistance, not blind servitude. You can either accept it or not. Your problem, not mine. Deal with it! So what's it going to be?"
Dumbledore waved his hands and the door opened. He nodded to Bill. "Bill, you and Remus accompany him."
"I only need Bill."
"And who exactly will be protecting Bill while he checks the wards?"
"You realize this is not over Harry."
"Not by a longshot! I suppose if I can work with the greasy bastard, that I can work with you. By with you I mean with you not for you." Harry spun around ignoring the collective gasps.
Harry looked out into the conference room where a security detail of six armed goblins had entered at the other end. "I am guessing that Gringotts frowns on the use of magic inside the bank. Come on we will let our wise leader deal with them."
The goblins eyed Harry and the three people following him as they crossed in the room. Harry looked at the lead goblin and gestured back into the private room. The goblin sneered at him before nodding and letting them pass.
"Susan, what are you doing?"
"He's going to watch Bill. Who is going to watch you?"
"No one needs to watch me."
"Well too bad. We're both adults now, last time I checked. So to use your own argument, 'deal with it'".
"Good point. Bill, can you drop a glamour on us outside to make our clothes look like muggle clothes."
"Is the floo still connected at Mrs. Figg's?"
Remus answered, "Yes it is."
"Good. We will go from Fred and George's shop." Harry said leaving no doubt who was in charge.
Lord Voldemort stood at the edge of a rocky cliff, watching the waves crash against the rocks below. It had a timeless quality to it, the brutal relentless power of nature. He paused to drink in the majestic scene before him and consider his place in the universe. Was he the tidal force cresting against the ignorance of mankind? Or could he be the shoreline, defying the forces that worked against him? His Death Eaters shuffled nervously behind him in obvious discomfort. The ten muggles they had captured were herded into a small circle, with their eyes glazed over from the imperious curse. The sole squib lay stunned after Voldemort grew tired of his screams. They would wake him when the dementors arrived.
He thumped his unicorn hide vest in anticipation. Unbidden from the back of his mind the words of Albus Dumbledore could be heard. He had still been possessing Quirrel at the time and the pathetic fools were bemoaning the deaths of the unicorns in the forbidden forest. Dumbledore's words went something like "knowingly killing such a noble creature is an unforgivable act that stains the killer's soul."
He muttered under his breath, "Well Albus if that is indeed the case, what does killing them, drinking their blood, grinding their horn into powder and skinning them for their enchanted hide get you?" The vest was comfortable, flexible and more spell resistant than dragon hide. The powdered horn coated his yew wand and amplified his spells strength and the blood kept him from falling back into the abyss for so many years. In his eyes the creature was truly a source of beauty, life and security. It was also a colossal waste of magical potential. The world idolized such creatures, but refused to acknowledge the storehouse of power they contained. The knife in his belt, hand carved from yet another horn was the only thing he knew of that could actually harm a dementor. A fact he routinely promised to share with the world at large should they not agree to his terms.
Small specks of darkness could be seen from a distance. There were five of them. "Good I brought enough offerings," he thought. They moved slowly hovering perhaps ten feet above the water. He began to feel the first twinges of despair from their presence. From his spies, he knew that in their presence both he and Harry Potter heard the exact same thing, his voice gloating to Lily Potter before he killed her. Yet another way the two were intertwined, but for wholly different reasons. The boy obviously was terrified of the loss of people so closely connected to his life and for him - it was the realization of defeat. Complete and utter humiliation. He had been so powerful, only to be undone by a toddler. Apparently, the powers that be had been offended enough to not only bring about his defeat, but to do it in such a manner could only be considered cruel.
Listening to the cries of Lily Potter at the back of his mind, he summoned his patronus. The ethereal serpent coiled protectively around him. Feeding him warmth to fight the cool terror wafting before them. A glance over his shoulder and he saw some of his 'fearless' followers cramming chocolate into their mouths. Peter had a bar halfway to his face, but seeing his gaze upon him refused to bite into it.
The five dementors hovered about ten feet in front of him in a semicircle. He stepped back and signaled to his soldiers. "Send the offering!"
As one the ten muggles stood and walked forward. Two knelt in front of each dementor. They began to shake as the unnatural terror began to overcome the imperious curse. Like rabid animals the dementors descended on their feast. Most of his heartless killers turned away rather than witness such a great violation of the living spirit. Bella looked on with a look of hatred and terror, but would not turn away. Again, Peter surprised him. He watched as he munched on his chocolate bar, as if watching a dinner show. By the end two of the muggles had completely broken free and had managed to crawl towards him before they collapsed in paralyzing convulsions.
The offering had been consumed. It was time to get to the negotiation. Negotiation with dark creatures was always a risky proposition; the most important fact was to get into the mindset of the creature you are attempting to deal with. As you are trying to parlay a deal with a race of creatures, you must understand what that race want. In this case it was fairly easy. He had ten soulless husks littering the ground that demonstrated precisely what dementors want. They sustain themselves by feeding on terror, much like his forced diet of unicorn blood. To truly nourish them requires feasting on the soul. It is very straight-forward with dementors. Giants and trolls on the other hand rarely have a clue what they want. Half the negotiation process revolves around getting the barely intelligent brutes to realize what they actually desire, but bargaining with trolls and giants was what Lord Voldemort had Death Eaters for. Vampires and werewolves sought more fanciful goals like 'equality', though some just wanted to be on the forefront of any slaughter.
He pointed at Peter. "Wake the squib and bring him here. Do not use the imperious curse."
Peter complied, dragging the groggy man with his enchanted hand and dropping him at his master's feet. Peter retreated five paces, but not all the way back to the rest of group of death eaters. Voldemort arched an eyebrow - wondering if his little student was trying to learn some perverse form of terror by being in the presence of these floating horrors. Two dementors swooped forward each grasping the arm of the terrified squib, who had enough magical spark within him to just barely perceive the creatures floating around him. The Dark Lord's patronus soundlessly hissed opening its jaws wide in warning when one of the pair approached too closely.
The squib was dragged back to a third dementor. This one leaned in for a kiss, but after a second of drawing at the man's essence, it stopped. Without warning, it exhaled not the silvery spirit of the man, rather a blackish mist directly into the squib's face. The doomed man's body quaked and his free limbs thrashed desperately for a few seconds before going limp.
The squib's voice was more of a moaning whisper, "What is it you desire Lord Voldemort?"
"The service of your kind." He answered.
"This is more than you have previously demanded. In other times you only sought our inaction while you freed your ilk. We prefer those terms."
"You know the ministry will only overlook so many indiscretions from your kind, before their trust in you fails. You cannot hope to remain neutral."
A pause while the group of dementors looked back and forth amongst one another, followed by more black mist. "What is it you offer for our services?"
"Freedom of a sorts. All the muggles you desire. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of them - millions on this island nation alone. I will ask you to strike at wizards and witches on occasions, but for the most part I ask that you kill the non-magical folk in great numbers. My enemies will be forced to expend their resources trying to stop you."
No answer was immediately forthcoming. Voldemort decided to press onward. "I was also hoping to once again perform the joining ritual."
The two dementors holding their translator did nothing noticeable, but the other three drew themselves up in what could only be described as an angry rage. More black mist was breathed into the face of the man.
"No! You were told at the time that the joining was to be done only once. You will have to find another way to escape death's embrace this time! Ask not for this again! You have been warned."
"Very well." He said not surprised by their refusal. "I withdraw that request. Do you agree to the other terms?"
"We desire something larger than this land as our permanent feeding ground."
"Indeed, perhaps the continent of Africa? It is many times the size of England and possesses a much larger population base. There is also considerable strife in that area of the world, which could improve the taste of your food." Voldemort offered knowing that it also possessed dense jungles, desert wastelands and other less than desireable features. In the back of his mind an interesting picture of a swarm of dementors attacking a Nundu. It ranked right up there with Siberia amongst places he would send others to conquer.
"Your terms are acceptable. What are your commands?" The dry rasp of the translator said. The wretched soul would probably only last but another five minutes. Much like negotiating with the goblin clans, it was imperative to finish the deal quickly. Goblins merely like the feel of swift deliberations. With dementors it was a necessity, as the translators keep dying. Briefly his mind pictured him up in front of the DADA classroom answering some first year's question.
"Mr. Voldemort sir, how exactly do you talk to a dementor?"
"Well Timmy, first you should bring a few worthless muggles as an offering. At least one for every dementor is appropriate. Next you will want a squib, wizard or witch. Wizards and witches last longer, but it seems like a perfectly good use for a squib."
Shaking himself out of his momentary reverie, "You will take wands to my loyal servants. They will have a note attached informing them that tonight they will be free. Half your forces will stay, to assist with my assault on the island. The rest of your forces may attack the muggle fishing villages with impunity. Spread yourselves out and force the ministry to dilute their strength."
"As you wish Lord Voldemort." The translator said. Two minutes later he convulsed and expired.
"Our business here is completed. Back to our headquarters to finalize the assault." Voldemort said before he apparated away. Soon there were only 11 dead bodies on a cliff. When discovered the next day, would be a mere footnote in the muggle newspapers, which speculated on the cause of so many deaths along the coastline. Most attributed it to rumors of death cults or gas leaks.
--------(Scene Breaks are starting to grow on me!)---------
The foursome exited from Mrs. Figg's fireplace. The old woman was not around, but as usual there was a small hoard of cats. Susan looked at Harry for an explanation. He merely shrugged his shoulders. Stepping out into the evening air, Harry looked at Bill.
"So, were you part of the whole 'Lets Marry Harry off to Ginny crowd'?"
"No. I didn't know about it, but I honestly wouldn't have been opposed to you as a brother-in-law." Bill answered grinning at him.
"Thanks. I guess. Now that we are away from Dumbledore, I would really like to know why you objected to my emancipation Remus?"
"I was there when James got his news. He didn't take it very well and after all that you have been through lately, I was convinced that you would not handle it very well. I appear to have misjudged you. I apologize."
"Bloody hell! I have spent the better part of five years trying to convince Snape that I am not my father! Now I have to convince you as well?" He asked incredulously. "Any other reasons?"
Remus paused for a moment. "Albus had told me that he strongly opposed it. We did not believe that Sirius would have included such a provision."
"Maybe he believed I could handle it?" Harry returned with a sarcastic tone.
"Perhaps the painting does know and is waiting to be alone with you to tell you." Bill offered hoping to calm things.
"You might be right Bill. Did Dumbledore ever tell you what was in the Department of Mysteries?" Both shook their heads no.
Harry thought for a moment. "Lets go back inside Mrs. Figg's house for a moment."
Harry led them back in. Once inside they sat at the small kitchen table. Bill placed a privacy charm so that no one could hear their conversation. Susan looked at Harry.
"Do you want me to hear this or should I wait outside?"
"I would rather you heard it now. If we are going to be serious, then you need to know this now and make your decision. I should have told you earlier, but there was already too much drama." Harry said ignoring the shocked looks on the other two wizard's faces.
"Okay." She answered realizing that this was one of those fundamental truths about 'Harry's World' while thinking 'Be careful what you ask for Susan.'
"Since when are you to dating?" Bill sputtered.
"This morning, but we didn't really want to announce it with everything going on."
Harry saw the frown on Bill's face. He was smart enough to know that this revelation would not be well received by the female Weasleys. Harry decided to add that to the growing pile of things he now considered to be someone else's problem and not his.
"Alright how your mom and Ginny take that really isn't that important right now. This is. The item in the Department of Mysteries was a prophecy. I won't bother repeating it, but in a nutshell it says me or Voldemort - one of us kills the other." Harry took a moment to let it sink in. Bill and Remus were wide-eyed in shock. Susan nodded at him and stood up and gave him a hug.
"Are we the only ones who know?" Remus said slowly.
"Well Dumbledore knows. Voldemort knows the first half of the prophecy not the last part where only I can kill him and vice versa. Other than that, yeah you guys are the first I have told. My guess is Sirius knew and he figured that I needed to be my own man."
"Harry, I ..." Remus started.
"Don't mistake this for forgiveness, Remus. If you think for a minute that I am just going to forget what you did back at Gringotts, you have another thing coming. At least next time when you stab me in the back, you will have all the information. Come on. Lets get this over with."
As they walked towards the Dursleys, Susan grabbed his hand. She smiled at him. Bill and Remus broke off to start examining the wards. The werewolf's posture was noticeably slouched.
"So is that the biggest Harry Potter secret? I just want to prepare myself if there is anything else coming my way." She tried to add a touch of humor to her question.
"Yeah, I think that about covers it. I am waiting for the day when, someone tells me that I am really Voldemort's son or some rubbish like that. So, after hearing all that do you still want to be my girlfriend? Seriously, take a moment and think about it. The most powerful wizard in the world wants me dead. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted out."
"Harry, he wasn't exactly paying me a social call when he stopped by. He killed my family and was probably going to make some death eater's love slave. I don't believe he would leave me alone."
"But if you are close to me, he will go out of his way to get you."
"He will come after me anyway. Might as well give him a good reason." She leaned in and kissed him. For a moment it seemed like just a quick kiss, but there was an underlying tenderness beneath it.
Harry broke it reluctantly. As much as he was enjoying it, there were questions to be asked and answered. As he rang the doorbell, he turned back to Susan. "Thanks. You a good influence on me. I think everyone was waiting for me to fly off the handle, between you and occulmency. I seem to have a grip on things. I don't know what you have heard about my relatives, but the reality is far worse."
His cousin Dudley opened the door. His lips twisted into a sneer when he saw Harry. The sneer changed into a frown, when he looked at Susan. He turned his head back into the house.
"The freak is back!"
"Hello Duds. Nice to see you as well." Harry said stepping inside.
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were in the living room. Vernon was reading the newspaper and Petunia had been engrossed in a magazine article. Both were now regarding him with a scowl on their faces.
"Thought we were done with you for the summer boy. What happened did they send you back?"
"No. I just came from the reading of my parent's will. I have been emancipated. The magic that protects this house will fail soon. I figured you should know, so you can leave. The people who want me dead won't care if you don't like me. They will kill you just to irritate me."
"Your parent's will ..." Vernon started looking at Petunia who had dropped her magazine and paled.
"Yes. Funny thing too, my dad left you three million pounds instead of just two million. The goblins said the transfer will take place tomorrow. The letter he left me gave me the impression that he felt guilty about whatever happened. Since I won't be getting any straight answers from the magical folks, I figured that I would ask the two of you for some answers, seeing as this is probably the last time we will probably ever see each other." Harry said watching his aunt faint.
Vernon's expression clouded over. That in itself surprised Harry. Normally, Vernon Dursley was an emotional billboard. It had always been easy to determine what the large man was thinking. Dudley had rushed over to his mother and was glaring at Harry, wondering if he had used any of his magic on his doting mother.
After considering things for a moment Vernon gestured to the loveseat. "Sitdown Potter, your friend too. Don't know your name Miss. He never was one for proper manners."
Harry started to say something, but Susan cut him off. "My name is Lady Susan Bones."
"So you're not one of those Woolseys that usually come here?" Susan huffed slightly at Vernon's question. Days later, Susan would actually chuckle when recalling the story to Hannah.
"No, I most certainly am not." She said taking her seat.
"Well let's just see how much I can tell you. Your mother and the old man put a curse on us to prevent us from saying anything to you about this. Since I can tell you about the curse now, I reckon that it is broken. They showed up one night with your dad in tow and pretty much told us how it was going to be."
Vernon paused pouring himself a brandy before continuing. Petunia was once again conscious and Dudley had run into the kitchen to fetch her a glass of water. Susan noted that at no time did they ask if she or Harry had wanted anything, yet they had the nerve to chide Harry about his "manners".
Taking a long sip of his drink, Vernon continued. "They said an evil wizard might be after you and that they needed to protect you from him. Well, we pretty much told them to go to hell or wherever it is you folks go. They didn't like that answer much. Your mother implied that refusing was not an option and told us that we could do this the easy way or the painful way. From the look in her eyes, I think she would have preferred the painful way. Fortunately, your dad stepped in. I have said a lot of nasty things about your old man over the years, but in truth he wasn't such a bad guy. He said he didn't like this one bit, but he offered to make it worth our while to cooperate. That's where the money came in. We agreed on a price. I was in my twenties back then. The promise of a couple of million seemed so easy back then, if I had known the pain and suffering, I have made them do the painful way. They did their little ceremony and you were bound to your aunt, well almost. They said they would do the last little bit if and when they had to."
Harry normally would have been screaming at his uncle by now. Thankfully, his occulmency combined with Susan's presence and his genuine need to hear this information allowed him to overcome the burning desire to show his uncle a little bit of gratuitous magic. His face merely flushed a bit. The greasy bastard would be proud.
Vernon had drained his glass and poured himself a refill. "Well apparently they needed to, now didn't they? So, sure enough you show up at our doorstep. That's when the real trouble began. You never knew this and we couldn't tell you, but Petunia was two months along and just beginning to show. Not two days after you show up, she loses the baby. Okay, tough life you want to say and it happens all the time. We tried to put it behind us and try again. So we did and everytime, she lost the baby by 10 weeks. Those three little angels on the mantle, the ones she doesn't let anyone touch, well that one is Cassie, the middle one is Vernon Junior and the last one we were going to call her Hope. We went to doctors and specialists. There was no real reason for it they concluded, but we knew it was whatever magic protecting you. You were about five, when we had that headmaster of yours out here, brought one of your doctor types with him and they checked on Petunia. Sure enough the magic was behind it. Said he was real sorry. Said it was an unfortunate complication. Had a little twinkle in his eyes like I was supposed to believe him. I'd been in sales for almost ten years by then and I could smell a goddamn lie when he acted like he didn't know beforehand."
Harry took this all in with a gulp. It was starting to become too much. Petunia was crying openly. Dudley simply sat next to her looking confused and angry. It made him look constipated. So many years Harry had slept in that little cupboard always wondering, 'Why do they hate me?' and here it was in plain English.
"But your kind wasn't through with us just yet. We accepted that there weren't going to be any more Dursley's in this house. You and Dudders were about to head off to school, so Petunia wanted to get back to her law degree. She was going to start classes again, but surprise the old bastard says she can't. He said Petunia was what you call a squid. No, that's not it! Oh bloody hell! Who cares! Anyway, she has a tiny bit of magic in her. Well turns out those protections are a two way street. You both charge em up. Apparently, you have a lot of magic, because you could charge em right quick enough! Petunia on the other hand couldn't. She had to pretty much stay in the house. We weren't allowed to be away from it for more than a few days until you were five. By the time you were seven, we could actually go on a proper vacation. But what is worse than that was watching my beautiful intelligent wife stuck here like a prisoner. Can't work! Can't have anymore children to raise! We decide to adopt and guess what? Not enough bedrooms. Well we just decide to get a new house. Then it turns out that these ruddy protections bound us to this house. So there I am - having to turn down promotions from the company I didn't want to work for in the first place. Watching the people I trained become my managers. I was just there until Petunia could finish law school, but apparently we sold our souls and our unborn children to you stinking bastards! Everytime, I stared at your face I knew it!"
By now Vernon Dursley's righteous anger premeated the den. He finished his second drink and stared into the glass. No one spoke until finally he said his last chilling remark.
"Did you ever wonder why I didn't just kill you Harry? I'm sure it probably crossed your mind didn't it. So many nights, I sat up and thought about it. Just go in wring your skinny little neck, but I knew that that bond tied my Petunia to you. I had a good idea that if you died, then she would to. It was the trifecta in their little wizarding package deal. They would take me away and Dudders would have to live with my sister. By that time, I figured had made it this far, just hold out a bit longer and we could be free. Why do you think we didn't want you to go to that school? Your aunt listened to her sister's stories about classes where you learn how to hurt each other with your magic and how sometimes bad things happened to people there. Well if you went out and got your stupid arse killed it might kill her too." After saying that Vernon hurled his empty glass into the fireplace making everyone jump. He stormed passed them and went into the kitchen.
Petunia had recovered her composure. "Dudley, say good bye to your cousin and then go upstairs and pack. We will be leaving this place. When the protections are gone these people will show up and destroy this place won't they Harry? That's what I thought. Take only what you really want. We will have plenty enough to replace anything else thanks to your Uncle James."
Dudley sneered at Harry for a moment and headed up the stairs muttering "Good riddance" under his breath. She waited until he was all the way up the stairs before continuing.
"I am sorry Harry. I am sorry for many things. Mostly, I am sorry that you became the symbol for all that was wrong and unfair in this life. You were the cause and yet you were not responsible. Hating you was easy - much too easy. While your father and Vernon were dickering over how much, Lily pulled me aside and said if I didn't do it, she would bind you to Dudley and her studies said that I could survive it, but she wasn't so certain about the effects on another child. The nerve of that bitch coming in here and threatening my child! She was probably the reason your kind passed laws preventing children from using magic away from school. They didn't have those laws back then, I guess with your little war going on and whatnot. She would come home and dazzle mother and father with her tricks and then when they weren't looking she would do things to me. I got to see the side of Lily nobody else did. The little girl that got what she wanted, whatever the cost!" The venom in her shrill voice hissed in the room.
Harry had taken this all in stride. He was so used to them bad mouthing his parents. He was busy analyzing this and looking for any falsehoods. Regrettably, he could find none. Finally he asked the question he had needed to ask her.
"Did she love my father?"
"I don't know. She came back after her fifth year and had a long talk with mother and father. Seems despite how talented and wonderful everyone told her she was, that her being born to normal people was going to hurt her when she left that damn school of yours. She did not take that very well and said that she would find a way to get into their little 'exclusive club'. Next thing you know, she is seeing your father, whom she had always dismissed as a something of a hooligan up until then. Shortly afterwards he loses his parents and they get engaged. My parents died in a 'gas leak' as the newspapers report it and after the funeral I find out it was your mother's enemies that did it to provoke your parents. I only saw your mother twice after that and the last time was right here where she threatened my Dudley. So, I am not the person to ask this question to. So now you have your answers. Please leave. I have packing to do." She stood.
Harry and Susan both stood. He looked at his aunt. "I am sorry for what you suffered Aunt Petunia, it seems we are both victims. Hopefully, you can go somewhere and find the happiness you want, maybe its not too late for you and Vernon to try again after the magic is fully gone, but if you are looking for sympathy from me after the way you acted you are sadly mistaken. Every one of you was an adult and you took it out on me - a defenseless child. You may have been bullied into it, but that is no excuse! Goodbye Petunia Dursley." The universal truth occurred to Harry, bullies are not born they are created. The wizarding world had a great deal of responsibility for the Dursleys, almost as much as they did themselves.
"Harry, before you go I would like to know one last thing. Now that you are an adult, will you have to get married like your father?"
Harry nodded as she continued and turned to Susan, "So I take it you are his intended?"
Susan certainly was not prepared for that question or even the ramifications of that question. She wanted to answer. Her mouth would not work - the sheer insanity of the question! Suddenly it hit her. Harry would be married in a year and a little beyond that, she would be married. The odds of them being to each other were, were, were ....
Harry came to her rescue with three words that would forever change her life. Taking her hand he looked at his aunt.
"Yes she is." He said quietly. Susan was stunned and could only nod.
"I figured as much. Seems nice enough, your kind I suppose? Remember what your kind is capable of. Even the ones all of you consider heroes, like my dear sister." She said showing them the door. He looked at Bill who nodded and mouthed 'two days' at him.
"Bill says the wards will be gone in two days. To be safe, I suggest you be gone in thirty-six hours. Good luck Aunt Petunia and to mimic my cousin good fucking riddance. Pray our paths never cross again or you might see what I am capable of. Remember that I could have just as easily not come back and let them kill you. Think about that every night. Come on Susan, let's go."
They were halfway back to Mrs. Figg's when Susan finally found her voice. "You didn't have to say that to her."
"Huh, I enjoyed threatening her. If anyone deserves it ..." He looked at her.
"No the part about me being your intended. You didn't have to do that." She said slightly exasperated.
Harry stopped and looked at her. "Listen, I offered you a chance to run off when I told you about Voldemort. You didn't. My friends don't seem like my friends so much anymore. They seem like conspirators in some great plot. I have people trying to control my life, who have no business trying to do so. Ginny has gone from not being able to speak to me, to stalking me like that Romilda Vane girl, except she has a small army helping her. I will be honest with you Susan. I like you. I respect you. You are not trying to control me, or if you are you are doing a good enough job that I don't notice it. I don't know if I am in love with you, but you have been the one thing I have been able to count on lately. When I asked you to trust me, you trusted me. Today, I learned that both my new girlfriend and I have to get married. That means either I let you go, or I go with my gut just like my dad said. My gut says pick a friend who will support me. You make me feel good. I will take a friend, who I respect, makes me feel good and has done nothing but support me over some desperate grab at something I am not sure I am capable of feeling. So that's where I stand. If you are planning on falling in love with someone else soon, let me know, but I don't see how I could do much better."
Not only was Susan incapable of speech, but coordinated movement had become problematic. She half stumbled and half lunged at him. She grabbed him. She crushed him to her and sobbed into his shirt.
"Do you mean it! Do you really mean it? Of course I will! We can make it work! I know we will!" She was babbling and she knew it, but words kept coming out of her mouth. Mercifully, Harry stopped her by kissing her.
Harry felt a surge of warmth as he had stumbled through his speech. He would forgive her for the bone-crushing hug. It had a rough day for them both. When he kissed her she kissed him fiercely. Harry hadn't really spent time dreaming of moments like this. He wasn't sure if it was the real thing or two people struggling to find something to hold onto. Either way it felt good - damn good. He saw Remus and Bill approaching them, when the pain hit him. In his euphoria he had let his mental shields slip. It hadn't hurt like this in a long time. Voldemort was stronger than before. Harry could feel it and he could see it in his mind as he sagged in Susan's arms. Remus reached him first as Harry clutched his scar.
"Azkaban - he's taking Azkaban."
Authors notes -
Visit my profile for links to my discussion thread. Thanks to the reviewers of last chapter. Next chapter Voldy vs. Azkaban - my way! Hope you liked my take on the 'real Potters'. They were just 21 after all. Till next time - Jim