During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...
I I I
Out of all of the reactions Dumbledore was known for, screaming frustration was not usually among them. But he did so as he paced around his office that evening as he contemplated the growing tide of events.
The struggle between him and Voldemort, while on its surface a bitter one, had down beneath some of the markings of a gentleman's duel or a stately game of chess. Each side considered and contemplated their actions, then made a move. The other then waited, considered that move and thought about it a while before making a countermove.
All very sober, relaxed and gentlemanly, each one granting the other plenty of time and chances to make their next planned attempt to gradually outwit the other, using the rest of the world as their pawns.
It was a game at which he'd excelled.
This Dark Muggle, on the other hand, fought like a dirty old ruffian. Albus had never seen anything like it in magical culture. This Colonel struck, and struck, and kept on striking without any pause or respite.
It was maddening. Albus hadn't even properly formed a response to his first attack yet!
It took time for information to filter back from his contacts. It required time for careful thought to consider the opponent's move and plan how best to counter that. And, of course, the more there was to consider the longer it required to think things through properly.
Dumbledore was shocked by the sheer volume of information pouring back to him about this Colonel. He was used to asking his contacts and subordinates for "anything you might know" about someone or something. Most of the people knew little enough that it was the work of but a moment to put it all together and assemble a coherent whole.
But information hadn't stopped pouring back yet!
It was more than a little humbling to the old man to find out how widespread Colonel Sander's influence was, and that made him really worry. So far he had found businesses openly proclaiming allegiance to him in almost every nation, and the image of Colonel Sanders was iconic in several of those. He made no attempt to hide who he was or that he was present and active.
The implications of that frankly scared the old Headmaster!
Virtually all Dark Lords found secrecy to be their greatest ally. Dumbledore himself had achieved much that he credited to having kept his secrets better than the rival Dark Lords he opposed.
But then... it struck him. Their patterns were the SAME!! Both he himself and this Dark Colonel had deceived the public, holding forth a front of a kindly old man for their own dark natures to hide behind!
The thought was chilling.
This Sanders had seen through one of his greatest advantages, or done the same by himself. Albus had believed himself to be the only one clever enough to have pulled off such an immaculate deception. But here it was, he had a rival, no, an ENEMY who had flawlessly achieved the same general image!
What was worse, this Dark Colonel had information sources that Dumbledore knew nothing about, and had been using them to terrifying effect in all of his strikes. Dumbledore was an old hand at secret wars. He knew the kind of data you needed on your foes before you could safely initiate attacks on them. Worse, the informational requirements grew more and larger to pull off the kind of success rate this Colonel's minions had achieved, and worse still, they grew larger yet again to accomplish anything like his stealth.
Those kind of strikes required a detailed knowledge of your enemy, his tactics and defenses, and precisely how to bypass them. One of the perfect examples of this was how they'd taken Trelawney: in and out without fuss or bother, even managing to strike his own office in the meantime!
The most dismaying thing to the Headmaster was how they had achieved all of this without setting off any abnormal alarms.
Dumbledore was now unsure whether his pocket oracle was alive or dead, if the chicken left in his burned out office was a warning, or the body of his seer. But he had reviewed what he knew of the occasion and tracked his being dosed with malaclaw venom to that point, when he'd last spoken to his oracle in his office.
That raised several uncomfortable questions.
For one, he had to consider Trelawney having been turned by the Dark Colonel - but discarded that at once. He knew her mind too well, had implanted too many suggestions and subconscious orders, and had seen her too recently for her to have been subverted away from him that easily. But then he had to ask if that person in his office had been an impostor, and could not see how that could be. She had given a true prophecy, one he had personally seen the accuracy of too many times for it to have been faked, and more than that the wards had detected her as having Trelawney's magical core!
Of course, those two intruders who'd been through Snape's potion stores had managed to flawlessly duplicate the magic cores of two of his students. But that brought him back to the prophecy.
Unless, the Colonel had sent a seer to impersonate a seer?
A second chill went through Dumbledore's old bones at the thought of his enemy having such a resource, and MORE! A seer he was willing to RISK on such an endeavor!! That implied he might have more than one, enough not to miss one terribly much if she got lost out on assignment.
A very small thought way at the back of Dumbledore's head began to wonder if this Colonel Sanders had indeed surpassed him in so many ways, if the Dark Colonel might not just surpass him in everything?
Already he had reason to believe what he'd thought was his own trademark victory as a Dark Lord, being taken as the Leader of the Light, was not done first and better by this Dark Muggle. Surely he'd surpassed him by defeating him and taken mastery of the Elder Wand, even if Dumbledore himself retained actual physical possession of the device. But then to also have a pet seer, or more than one if he went on risking one like that...
The Headmaster felt genuinely scared for the first time since he was a small boy as he sat gingerly down in his seat, lowering himself slowly and wondering if the legs on this one would fall out from under him also.
Still, it did no good to dwell on fears, and the Dark Ravenclaw firmly dragged his mind back from speculation to what he did know.
His guest, whether Trelawney or not, had dosed him with malaclaw venom by dipping a corner of her hankie in his tea; an ingenious approach that put him on edge with how adroitly she, whoever she was, had slipped by his defenses.
If his guest had uncorked a potion and poured that into his tea, the paintings then hanging around his office would've told him. But women especially are dipping napkins or handkerchiefs to wipe something more or less all of the time! If his wards went down to that level of detail nothing he could've done to himself could've handled it. Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of warnings per real problem was just too much!
People did certain things as normal parts of their routines. Even he could not record every sip, sigh, or snigger to occur in Hogwarts! Every time a button was buttoned, or page read, was something that might've been done against him by a foe on this level.
Dumbledore himself was known for how elegant were his schemes, but even he would've hesitated to venture a plot as carefully crafted and risky as this! The Colonel was truly a terrifying foe to have accomplished it. And that was only the beginnings of what he'd uncovered about these plots and schemes!
With a tired sigh, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair, only to have the seat collapse, dumping him onto the floor just as a tripwire set for just such an occasion released a heavy rock from his office ceiling, crushing the old man beneath its tremendous weight and leaking a puddle of blood out over the office floor.
Before he died, Dumbledore had an instant to wonder at the ease and utter contempt with which this Dark Muggle kept killing him. Then the boulder had crushed down upon him.
After Severus brought him back again he had to pause to consider the artistry this Colonel Sanders displayed, as having fallen backwards in his own chair Albus got to watch the boulder accelerate in the microsecond before his life got extinguished by the weight.
Truly, he had so far been mere prey for 'the Chicken'.
That would have to change. That MUST change. But how?!?
I I I
Bellatrix stepped into the quaint little muggle house and smirked as she beheld the occupants.
Vernon had just looked up and was about to use the word 'freak' when his chin disappeared, along with the rest of his jawbone, as the operative part of his scowl disintegrated into a shower of blood, bone and tooth fragments.
As Petunia's shrieks, that would've lit up the neighborhood, were met and canceled out by the silencing wards placed around the house, Bellatrix smiled at her prey.
In an innocent sounding sing-song the Death Eater declared. "Ooooh, is the widdle bully scawed?"
Casual flicks of her wand transfigured the fireplace into a giant hand holding Petunia, and stretching her abnormally long neck out just a touch more, while another sent Dudley careening over the counter into the kitchen and crashing into the cabinets there, where the cutlery drawer sprang open and dozens of knives leapt out to impale him dozens of times through soft tissue, nailing him to the broken cabinetry without killing or even seriously injuring the boy.
Bellatrix had learned how to take her time with these things.
Vernon had rolled backwards off his chair. One hand was investigating the bloody ruin that was his face, and from the shocked look in his eyes Bella deduced he was not quite able to bring himself to believe that part of him was no longer there.
Pity. He'd be so much more fun to play with if he could grow a pair.
Bellatrix adopted a playful air, doing a fair McGonagall impersonation as she instructed, "Now, so you know, you aren't the only ones who have tortured the helpless. Union rules required that I come explain a few things to you so you scabs can be appraised of the regulations on this sort of thing. First."
She disintegrated the shoe and blew off the toes from Vernon's left foot.
"The strong bully the weak. Second."
The Death Eater looked into his eyes and smiled sweetly before doing exactly the same to his right foot. "Magic users are strong, and muggles are weak. You've been upsetting the Union Board terribly with the way you've mixed THAT one up!"
She laughed. It was a disturbingly innocent sound, proving to her listeners that the woman could not be terribly right in the head.
Vernon had run out of hands for clutching at his missing body parts, and now his eyes had begun to widen with a terrified belief. Petunia, on the other hand, though she clawed at the stone finger around her throat, had not yet been cowed enough to calm her rage at magic using individuals. Part of that had to be that she could not tilt her head down to see what had already been done to her husband, and she had no personal experience with how dangerous a witch or wizard could be. It had to be that last that convinced her the brief glimpse she'd had of Vernon's disintegrating jaw had to have been something else. She couldn't let herself be convinced his injury was as bad as it was.
Petunia could not take a world where she and Vernon were not in charge.
"You can't be here!" The horse-faced woman insisted in defiance of all logic. "The Headmaster promised us! No magical folk! No repercussions!He even got us out of that freakish court!"
"Yes, but he's not in charge of the Union," Bellatrix declared pleasantly."So guarantees from him are useless." One more flick of her wand and the electric appliance exploded out of the fireplace, which gouted actual flames. Bellatrix smiled as Petunia screamed, but the flames drew back into the hearth before they'd done much more than consumed most of the muggle woman's clothes and hair, and perhaps singe her a bit.
Petunia was whimpering, yet still as much hopeful as defiant as she declared, "You can't be here! The Head..." she sobbed and closed her eyes as sparks began to fly up threatening her face, "headmaster insisted that no witch or wizard could come here so long as we had the boy."
"The Headmaster is full of promises he can't keep," Bellatrix replied sweetly, before swiping her wand at Vernon and levitating him onto his favorite chair, an overstuffed recliner that she transfigured into a bare steel electric chair surrounded by torture implements.
"But the wards!" Petunia kept insisting weakly in defiance of the reality before her, unable to accept what was happening.
Bellatrix laughed, then raised her eyes toward the stairs and gloated,"Perhaps I should introduce you to the man who got me past those puny wards. The head of the Torture and Violence Union: Lord Voldemort himself."
Petunia's eyes grew wide in horrified shock, stilling her into silence.
Moments later footsteps came down the stairs. Bellatrix bowed as a man hove into view.
It was Harry Potter.
Vernon was too miserable strapped as he was to a hard metal chair dealing with the squirming pain of his bleeding injuries to care. But as Petunia inhaled to shout and make up the difference, Bellatrix hit her with a short Crucio, and the tirade of verbal abuse the horse faced woman had prepared instead turned into throat-tearing screams of unbelievable agony.
Bellatrix held the curse for only a second. It wouldn't do to damage her toys too much this early in play, after all.
Harry seated himself at the dining table, ignoring the evidence of blood and violence around him as if those things were ordinary. As he sat, he spread out the thick sheaf of files he'd been reading.
Files both adult Dursleys recognized as having come from their hidden safe in the master bedroom.
"Oh, don't bother asking how I knew you had these," Harry quipped without looking up at his injured relatives. "I found copies among the Headmaster's own files, and just wanted to check and see if yours matched. A simple unlocking charm handled the lock on the safe. Really, you'd think none of you ever expected me to grow up to be a wizard. But then," the boy looked up, holding a stack of letters written on heavy parchment in one hand."From the correspondence you shared, I know that you didn't. I read Dumbledore's half, the letters you sent to him, and now I've seen your half, the ones he sent to you, detailing your agreements - including the payout you get on my death, which he's already promised to hush up your part in, and he plans to return me to you yet again so you get another chance to off me."
The boy dropped the heavy stack of letters and stood.
"So let me sum it up," said Harry hotly, "you neglected and abused me, belittled and humiliated me, insulted me, starved me, beat me, vilified me, dehumanized me to everyone, and made me your personal slave; while all the while collecting a small fortune for my upkeep and working a high salary job without responsibilities in a company I own. And all that time you were calling me a 'free-loader', while you were, in fact, living, rent-free I must add, in a house that, it turns up, belongs to me, and plotting to kill me for my money which, as it happens, you are already stealing. Tell me, uncle, did you escape from a Charles Dickens novel? Or do you maybe have an aunt that makes coats out of little puppies or something?" Harry finished, his anger resonating in Vernon Dursley's puke-colored face.
Petunia gasped, and cried, "Oh, Vernon, the freak knows about Cruella!What if the neighbors find out?"
"Oh you have FAR more to worry about than that!" Harry declared, and it was not in a nice way. No, his face was that of a boy who'd been a slave for over ten years coming back to get his revenge.
It was not a pleasant face to look upon.
He grinned in a very nasty way. "No, I am going to show you why Voldemort was one of the most feared wizards ever to grace the British Isles. You see, he did his research, loads of homework before he went active as adark lord. As a Ministry Unspeakable he had access to literal tons of records most of us never see; most don't even know exist and fewer still care to look at, and he was a brilliant student who studied them well. Can I show you some of the truly ancient dark curses he uncovered?"
Petunia furiously shook her head in the stony grasp, but Harry ignored her. "Did you know that most pagan traditions were just muggles worshiping wizards? That's part of why the Hindus have millions of gods and goddesses. But I digress. Over here in the West was a bunch of Greek wizards who lived on Mt. Olympus, and they still have a very nice city there, by the way, hidden from muggles of course. But before they came to power the Olympians had to overthrow another group of wizards who'd previously controlled that area and called themselves the Titans. One of the things Zeus did to cement his leadership over the Olympian wizards was to punish one of those defeated Titans with a horrible curse demonstrating why no one should dare mess with him. I'm sure you've heard the story passed down by muggles of Prometheus chained to a rock and having his liver eaten out every day by a giant eagle?This curse is the source of that legend and Voldemort uncovered it. You see, what it does is constrain one creature so that no food will ever nourish it - except the flesh of another creature named at the time the spell is cast. So you really could bind an eagle to eat someone's liver for the rest of eternity, provided that someone could live through it, of course."
"That is the real problem, of course," Bellatrix giggled, and Harry reached over and tickled her under her chin. The woman purred, literally purred, as she leaned into his hand.
The sight was more than slightly disturbing.
For Bellatrix' part, she had enough flaws and quirks of her own that she didn't care if her Lord chose to speak of himself in the third person. In fact, if he did it much more she might take it up herself, emulating her beloved master by speaking about herself that way, too.
In fact, she gave it a test. "Mmm, My Lord makes Bellatrix happy."
Harry grinned in reply. "Bellatrix, my most faithful servant. Vernon here has plans to murder me. He was the cause of most of the physical mistreatment of my host body here. He is the muscle behind their violence, and the true enforcer of their hate. See to it that he won't strike me again, won't you?"
Alight with an unholy glee, the beautiful yet insane woman turned and quite calmly cast four Reducto spells, the first one taking off Vernon's right arm at the shoulder, then his left leg at the knee, and finally his remaining arm and leg in the same manner. Then she applied minor fiery hexes to the stumps to cauterize the bleeding.
Vernon's wordless howls of pain, for his tongue had already been blasted off along with his jaw, filled the house until he collapsed into weak burbles, already spent.
Petunia had grown deathly still on seeing Harry's eyes flash red as he spoke to the cruel woman. His aunt didn't know what this meant, but she knew that whatever it was could not be good for her or her family.
Harry's eyes kept glowing red as he spoke to her. It was a minor trick, but a useful one, and it was very intimidating imitating Voldemort like this. Besides, it made Bellatrix happy. "Aunt Petunia, you and yours did all the harm you could to me, and you started before I was even out of diapers, LONG before I could've done anything to deserve your hatred. Dumbledore put me here, he says, because of the power of my mother's sacrifice protecting me, and the horrible thing is he is partly right. The energy of that love kept you from killing me, no matter how hard you tried. Don't think I've forgotten those times Uncle Vernon ran me over with his car, or the time you put me in my cupboard for four months at a stretch without food or water, or any of those lesser beatings, or the times you got creative trying to kill me."
Harry's gaze was now as hard as the stone hand that held her. "I could see you got a sick sense of satisfaction out of forcing me to do all the work that kept you and yours fed, the house clean, and the garden winning awards, even while you blackened my name to any who would listen. But have you never heard the phrase: what goes around, comes around? Well, today is the day. Let's start with the money, shall we? I know it's impossible to reclaim any significant portion of it out of your accounts. You three have already spent as much of it as possible on yourselves, and took asick sort of pride out of not spending even a single penny on me. You made me eat leftovers and wear rags, even got my glasses out of a charity bin. So the money is not there to be gotten back. That's fine. I know the amounts. So this morning I dropped by an insurance place and cast a few Confundus charms and filed a few papers. Now you, Vernon and Dudley all have high life insurance policies, have had for years as far as anyone knows. I even had some of the largess of your bank accounts transferred to pay for it, and a few spells there and the records all say, and the people believe, that these transfers have been going on for years."
Harry took a specific piece of paper out of the pile. "So, since I couldn't get the money you'd stolen back any other way, your life insurance gets to pay for it. I'm sure I'll be able to act devastated for a second or two when news of your demise reaches me at school, apparently the victims of some cult. A really sick one, too, by the evidence. There's plenty of blood and body parts around here to be convincing."
An icy calm had descended over the boy as Petunia watched in silence."But the money is only part of it, and the smallest part of it at that. You hurt me in all the ways you could imagine. I wouldn't even have had these eyes had you not poured bottle after bottle of rubbing alcohol down my throat, hoping I'd die, or at least go blind. But this is hardly the time to go listing all of your crimes against your own flesh and blood. If I did I wouldn't have time to pay you back. So, to cut to the quick, what was it you and your spawn always called me? A freak, wasn't it?"
Three robed figures appeared behind Harry. He stepped aside to introduce them. "Allow me to present to you your fates. Werewolves are real in the magical world. Real, but despised, hated and vilified. Your son gets to be one. Similarly, Vampires exist among us, and are just as contagious. Guess what? Vernon gets to develop a pathological fear of suntanning. And as for you, don't think I've forgotten you holding my face against a hot burner whenever I made trivial mistakes cooking. You, my dear aunt, get to be a hag - an ugly parody of a woman with uncontrollable cravings for human flesh. Not too different from what you already are, actually."
As he named them, each of three robed guests threw back their hoods, revealing Fenrir Greyback, a hag, and a vampire.
Bellatrix waved her wand, summoning Dudley out of the kitchen and binding him to the sofa with thick ropes.
As the trio of magical creatures moved to feed and spread their contagion, Harry kept on speaking. "Oh, and just so you know, this is not a power up. I have no intention of giving you any more power to hurt me, so all of you will be cursed so they may only feed off of each other's flesh."
Petunia was the only one not too wrapped up in her own pain to understand, and her face became a mass of horror.
Harry smiled. "Don't you see? That's the beauty of it. Due to my mother's protection none of you will ever be able to kill the others. I couldn't kill you. And you couldn't kill me in spite of over a decade of trying. Now I get to lock the three of you in a tiny box somewhere so you can spend the rest of your natural lives torturing each other the way you once tortured me. Meanwhile the muggle police will report you dead, and I'll get some repayment, both in terms of actual damages and in satisfaction, for what you've done to me."
I I I
Harry threw up in the toilet.
Bellatrix and the other Death Eaters he'd summoned had taken the Dursleys away to begin their punishment. Each of his relatives had been outfitted with chain collars inscribed with most of the runes that made up a Dark Mark. He couldn't give them actual Marks without them willingly committing murder to get one. The necromantic energies were required. But he did include the tracking portions of the Mark, along with a few extra surprises - a remote 'die' command being prominent.
There was also a special surprise in that each of the Dursleys had been injected with a potent dose of basilisk venom transfigured by Bellatrix into a chemical the body stored in fat but could never use, so it stayed in tissues forever. Most transfigurations were quite temporary, but the necklace held it in place as one of its secret functions.
So, if the magical necklace were ever removed, they'd die instantly from the basilisk venom suddenly appearing in their systems. They wouldn't even know that was a danger until too late. And if they kept those necklaces on he could kill any one or all of the Dursleys in an instant, at any range.
Harry emptied the last of what was in his stomach. The dry heaves began.
An air freshening charm was cast. Harry was so upset and wracked by the sickness that was a result of his emotions that he didn't care who it was, almost didn't notice. Only when hands began to work his weary shoulders did he crack a bleary eye open to see who it was.
Luna was kneeling on the bathroom floor beside him, her hands massaging his shoulders while her face was a picture of concern.
Harry grinned horribly for her. "I thought I'd wanted revenge," he told her.
She nodded, understanding, and he suddenly recalled she'd been sick the day after killing her uncle. He wondered who'd helped her, or if anyone had.
She gave him a small, sad, but wise smile. "When you want it, you think revenge will feel good. After you have it, you realize just what a burden it is."
"I should kill them right now." Harry nodded. "Put them out of their misery. I... when I got Voldemort's memories and skills, I thought I could be better than he was. Yet here I am doing the same thing."
Luna considered a moment. "Not quite the same," she intoned, still rubbing his shoulders in a way that made some of the hurt go away. "But close. I think the defining difference was that he did this type of thing to people who were total strangers and complete innocents - and whatever else they are, you CAN'T call the Dursleys innocent!"
She gave him a small, encouraging look. "Yes, you were brutal. But you can't say they didn't start it. You were a child, and full of love. You still are eager to love those around you. You'd have cherished them dearly if only they'd been kind to you. Instead, they chose to do everything in their considerable power to ruin, main and destroy you. And they kept chasing those plans still. You couldn't leave them alone, as they were still being used as willing tools in this war against you. They would've done the same to you had it been within their power. But all the same you shouldn't let them succeed by turning you into something like them."
"No." Harry shook his head with all the energy of determination his emotion wracked body could summon. "I'll never be like them, or Voldemort. Once was enough. Never again."
He gave her a sickly smile. "I've learned not to like the taste of it."
"There you are." Luna smiled at him radiantly. "That's your difference. It was Voldemort's favorite flavor, and the staple diet of the Dursleys. So long as you avoid any more of it, you should do fine."
She began helping him gently to his feet, sparing a few glances to the muggle toilet, wondering how to clean the vomit out of it. Harry answered by showing her how to flush it.
"Who helped you through this?" Harry demanded as she helped him out of the room. Suddenly he had to know.
Luna smiled softly. "Hermione has soft shoulders, a kind heart, and infinite patience for listening. I'd highly recommend her for all your future 'I got my revenge and now I wish I hadn't' needs - except you already promised you weren't going to do any more of it."
"She held me all night long," Luna told him soberly. "And I never stopped crying. Not once. All night. I know he was an evil man who hurt countless people. I know he killed my mother and was going to murder me. My head can accept that the world is a better place without him. But a small little girl deep inside my heart keeps insisting, 'But I shouldn't have to hurt him! He's my uncle, he should love me!'"
Harry chuckled humorlessly. "I wonder why we never feel like this after killing Snape, or Dumbledore."
"Hmph!" Luna's nose sought the air and she shifted to mock effrontery."I can go on quite happily doing that. You should be glad killing them feels nothing like hurting family."
Harry thought about it a second. "You're right. I am." He nodded.
I I I
I almost didn't post this, going rounds in my mind over 'the Dursley scene is too harsh. I've got to tone it down. Ok, I can't tone it down, I'll have to cut it. How can I save some important bits?' Until it came to me to write the follow up scene where he is hacking up into the toilet suffering reactions. That seemed to take the curse off it.