Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Ten Plagues

BLOOD

by Jeram 0 Reviews

Harry begins his search for the secret of Horcruxes, but stumbles into a secret war that is struggling for control of reality and magic itself. Harry starts looking for information on Horcruxes, b...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Characters: Bill Weasley,Cho,Fleur,Ginny,Harry,Ron - Warnings: [!!!] [?] - Published: 2011/01/30 - Updated: 2011/01/30 - 7097 words

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Disclaimer: All non-original Harry Potter characters belong to JK Rowling and her affiliated companies. I'm just taking them out for some overdue cleaning.

The explosion rent the peaceful air.

Debris from the destructive wave littered the streets of Hogsmeade, the all too familiar echo of powerful magic still lingering. All down the paved roads, panicked citizens ran from the houses seeking what had to be a horrible attack by Voldemort's forces. Several paranoid old wizards and witches had already sealed their houses with powerful wards which would take days to take down, but the alternative was far worse.

Auror-on-duty Lynch raced through the crowd, pushing gawking villagers aside. He swore under his breath when he had to wait for an ancient witch to dodder out of the way. Lynch pushed forward to see what was causing the commotion. He had a sudden, horrible thought, envisioning a grisly scene of blood and dismembered limbs scattered everywhere. Gory messes had never exactly been his specialty.

The oddly glowing remains of a building, perhaps several buildings, were scattered at the nearby street corner. Occasionally, strange pops and whistles could be heard as magical items were crushed by the still-moving stones on the ground. Oddly enough, a large fluorescent sign lay on the ground, waving in wind but partially stuck to a jagged metal spike. Only the word "NO" could be seen on the battered banner.

Lynch frowned at the sight. "Okay," he said loudly, turning to the now rapidly fleeing crowd. "Did anyone see... all right, that isn't a good sign." A bone-chilling sense of cold swept over the Auror, and his nose twitched at the sudden smell of decay. Paling rapidly, he turned around, holding his wand in his now shaking hand.

"By Merlin..."

Harry groaned as he sat up, shaken out of unconsciousness by a girlish shriek. He looked around at the ruins of Weasley's Wheezes and sighed. "Well, bloody hell." Harry rubbed his forehead and sighed. "I wasn't expecting all this to happen. A bit of a concussion, maybe, but not this full on wreck. And where the hell were the rest of the limiters? On holiday?"

Harry pulled himself out of the fallen bookshelf and unsteadily got to his feet. He grinned suddenly as it became quickly apparent that the banishing was successful. Harry started to chuckle when an answering cackle answered him from behind.

Now feeling a bit uneasy, Harry turned... to face the gaping smile of Cedric Diggory.

72 hours earlier

"Gah! Bloody hell!" Harry clutched his burnt hand and cursed the manufacturers of the "Easy Rune Writing Quill", which apparently caused a similar effect to Blood Quills when used incorrectly - something Harry had found surprisingly easy to do. Instead of carving lines in one's skin, the Easy Rune Writing Quill would change temperature to indicate mistakes in copying runic marks. Naturally, Harry soon learned to ignore the minor bursts of heat so apparently the Quill had decided to be a bit more forceful in "helping" Harry write correctly.

Shaking his head and rubbing his throbbing hand, Harry left the Quill on the ground where it had fallen. The Quill had been among several items from Hermione to assist Harry in finally learning about Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, which she had insisted would be crucial to their critical work in finding and destroying Horcruxes. At first, Harry had agreed to stop her nagging, but after a week of being extremely bored at the Dursleys, he had decided that anything was better than slogging through the Famous Artifacts and Curios book, which had to be nearly as long as Hogwarts: A History.

The subject of Runes was actually fairly interesting once Harry had skimmed past Hermione's "suggested introductory text" and into the books she had recommended for advanced comprehension, which seemed to be far better written. Hermione had raved about the efficacy of the Quill in learning proper Runic structure, but then again, Harry doubted the Quill had needed to burn her at all.

Now that his hand felt better, the whole situation seemed a bit amusing to Harry. He looked down and picked up the quill, inspecting it carefully. "You know, you must hate having to deal with a stupid git like me instead of a hard worker like Hermione. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I think I'll work better by myself." Harry put the quill in the book of Realigning Runic Remunerations and carefully gathered up his extremely novice attempts at Rune Realignment.

It seemed that doing something called realigning runes was common practice when dealing with complex warding, as Harry had discovered in his reading, typically any situation that needed something beyond the most basic warding. The so-called runic alignment of a rune (which Harry still had trouble understanding) was another way of talking about the rune's structure. Combining or altering the runes in subtle and mostly incomprehensible ways could be used to do a a variety of things with magical objects.

After reading several well-written but fiendishly complicated chapters about the potential applications and combinations of altered runes, Harry became reasonably certain that Voldemort was an expert in this field, and used that expertise to create his Horcruxes. "Naturally," Harry mused to himself, tracing the outline of the Ingaz dek-sigel orlog, an example of basic rune realignment. "Detecting and destroying the blasted artifacts might require a bit more finesse than simply an over-powered Reducto or two. Probably what caused Dumbledore to lose his hand."

Dumbledore... Harry had avoided really thinking much about the murdered Headmaster lately. After that thought came up, Harry's thoughts always went down the same road. What if things had gone just a bit differently, if he hadn't drunk the cursed liquid guarding the fake locket, if he hadn't frozen Harry... but then Harry's thoughts turned inward, as they often did when he failed to keep his thoughts from wandering.

"If I had only realized all the clues - I should've been able to realize how to get into the Room of Requirements. And I barely utilized Dobby and that sneaky rat Kreacher at all. Hell, it all started going wrong when the ferret got the jump on me back on the Express. Ah, damn them. I haven't the time to cry about my mistakes." Feeling the beginnings of a small headache, Harry closed his eyes and sighed, massaging the muscles in his forehead.

CHAPTER ONE : BLOOD

I always knew it would come down to this. After all this time, all this painful abuse I suffered at the hands of my family, I will soon have my revenge. From the moment I met my soul mate, I knew I had the perfect opportunity. Unimaginable power will be within our grasp, and I will never be alone again. They will all pay for abandoning me. I hate my mother and father for abandoning me, I curse them to the ends of time!

They sired me, but then what? Left me to fend for myself against a harsh world where lies were believed as truth, and radicals held sway over idiots in robes. My plan is so simple, yet so perfect. All these years, they have underestimated me and it shall be their downfall. And we shall bathe in their blood. Red as their hair. A fitting tribute to my love.

All pretenders will be vanquished, and the truth will be evident for all to see - the masses will run in terror like the sheep they are, but no matter... Power, true power, needs the help of no paltry minions nor armies of hardened soldiers; this power shall arise from the pools of their filthy blood. Sometimes I hate myself, hate what I must do to purify this wounded world of ours, but my love cannot bear to step one foot on a world tainted by the stench of inferiors. Although the murder of my so-called friends and loving family will be a joy to fulfill, the mass genocide of humanity will prove tiresome, but I will be patient.

The insignificant and false concepts of love and benevolence will be shown as the lies they have always been, and their champions will fall before our might, weeping miserably on the fallen bodies of the innocent.

Soon enough, my love, soon enough... we will both be truly free.

Then Pharaoh gave an order to all of his people. He said, "You must throw every baby boy into the Nile River. But let every baby girl live."

Harry found himself on a familiar dirt road, facing a dilapidated old house. He grinned. Excellent. He hadn't been sure if he'd be able to apparate there, but it looked like Harry Potter had once again proven to be the exception to the rule. "Mandatory apparation license my arse!", Harry grinned to himself.

Harry glanced around, wand already in his hand, as he carefully examined his surroundings. Hmm... one could never be too careful. With a nod, Harry whispered "Accio Invisibility Cloak."

After waiting a moment, Harry shrugged, satisfied that no cloaked figure laid in wait for him - and if they did, there wasn't much else he could do at the moment. Pushing open the scarred wooden door, Harry stepped himself and looked around. It looked a bit different from what he remembered, now a room completely in disarray, broken bookshelves in various states of disrepair, and a hideous old chair that reeked of an aroma that Harry did not care to speculate about. Harry quickly closed the door and walked over to the chair.

"Professor Slughorn? Is that you?" Harry spoke directly at the rancid chair and waited impatiently for the corpulent man to reveal himself, but scowled after a minute had passed without anything happening. "Professor, you know it's me! I'm here to talk to you like we planned at the funeral."

Suddenly, a rug on the floor rose into the air and twisted into a ball. The rug expanded rapidly and coalesced into the tired form of Horace Slughorn. With a grim smile, Slughorn grasped Harry's shoulder and pulled himself to his feet. He turned a wary eye on Harry.

"Mr. Potter, I don't suppose you know the color of my favorite incantation?"

Harry grinned, pleased to see Slughorn was following the standard paranoid procedure. "I'd say it was a light sea-green. Perhaps you could tell me my favorite Quidditch team?"

Slughorn smiled at the correct response to the nonsensical query. "Why, I believe that is the Holyhead Harpies, with my old friend Gwenog Jones captaining their team."

Harry nodded and relaxed. "Sounds like we've got it all figured out."

Slughorn sighed heavily and settled into the ugly chair. "Harry, my lad, it is good to finally see you. Waiting even these few weeks, I have been worried. I was unsure if you would be able to come here at our previously agreed-upon meeting time." He gestured with his wand and transfigured a piece of wood into small but serviceable chair. "Please, have a seat." He grinned widely. "Let me dispel the illusion so that we may sit a bit more comfortably." Slughorn concentrated a moment and waved his wand with an elaborate flourish. After a moment, a wave of light swept over the room, blinding Harry for a moment.

When his sight returned, Harry was treated to the sight of a well-furnished den, complete with a pleasantly roaring fire and a lush, thick maroon carpet. Slughorn leaned back in his now exceedingly plush chair and turned to pour himself a small glass of brandy. He held it in his hand and looked off, a distracted look in his eyes. "You know, I got this particular bottle from an old friend, Ambrosius Flume - owner of Honeydukes, you know. Imported from France, as he tells it. They only sell a few bottles a year, hardly your common spirit." He sipped his drink, drinking agonizingly slow, to Harry rapidly increasing impatience.

"Oh, how interesting," Harry said, already growing exasperated with the Professor's meandered ramblings. "I can't say I know many people from there."

Slughorn chuckled in a deep voice. "Ah, but my dear boy..." Slughorn paused and looked carefully at Harry. "You are still young yet. I imagine you'll find yourself traveling the world when the 'itch' strikes, as they say. There are truly wonders unimaginable outside our little island nation. Why, I remember my old student Sandra McDaniels, who founded a very successful travel agency. She's offered me a few quite intriguing vacation plans, but unfortunately I've never had quite the time to accept her offers."

Harry leaned his head on his arm and sighed. "I'm sure traveling the world would be a blast, Professor, but in case you've forgotten, I'm not exactly in a position to control where I will be next. After all, I still need to find... well, never mind all that." Flustered, Harry stood up abruptly. "Professor, I'm sure you have enough time to reminisce about fancy liquors and unfulfilled vacations, but my schedule is not exactly open. I had thought I could count on you for help, but perhaps not. I'm sorry to have bothered you."

Looking pained, Horace held up a hand. "Mr. Potter, I - I apologize. You must understand, my life has not been as kind to me as you may have believed. I am not embarrassed to admit that I have tried to improve my lot by helping out talented young men and women. If they grant me favors in return, what is the harm in that? Sometimes such small favors are all I have left to enjoy in this life."

Abashed, Harry waved a hand hurriedly. "Professor, you needn't apologize, I was just - well, I guess there's no good excuse. But the truth is, well, I really am worried. I have very little information on Horcruxes, and I desperately need assistance, if I am going to stop Vold- I mean, Riddle."

Slughorn sighed heavily. "Very well, I suppose I have been avoiding what needs to be done. In truth, the subject is actually far worse than you may have thought." Slughorn nodded to himself. "Yes, Harry, I believe my mind has finally settled to what I need to tell you. But before you ask any questions, let me first explain a bit of personal history."

Sitting back down, Harry nodded and motioned for Slughorn to continue.

"As you know, I was in Slytherin house at Hogwarts many decades ago, graduating near the end of the Great War. That war did not involve us much, as wizards on both sides preferred to stay on the sidelines and let the Muggles settle it between themselves. In truth, most pure-bloods were not aware a conflict was even occurring." Slughorn paused, a far off look in his eyes. "However, I was not a typical student, even for my house. I had a gift for Potions, including several that were not exactly on any common syllabus. In Hogwarts, if you knew who to talk to, there were always ways to gain hidden or restricted information. Much changed after Dumbledore became Headmaster, as he was able to curb many of the dangerous activities the students engaged in - a positive thing it would seem, although in retrospect, I wonder if it truly helped us at all.

"There were always fanatical pure-bloods, but those days it was all about politics, not even the darkest Slytherin would attempt to eliminate Muggles, merely try to remove them from wizarding society through legal means." Slughorn paused to drink a sip of conjured hot water. "My throat," Slughorn explained with a small smile. "Talking so much over the years has given me sore breathing at times."

Harry frowned. "Professor, although I admit this is very interesting, what does it have to do with Voldemort?"

Slughorn shuddered at the name before waving a finger at Harry. "Patience, Mr. Potter, patience. All will be clear in due time."

Harry gritted his teeth, trying desperately not to roll his eyes at this common aphorism.

Slughorn continued obliviously. "You see, I was among several to be recruited by an ally of Grindelwald, although that was not clear at the time. We were a group of young wizards and witches, feeling positively immortal with our whole lives ahead of us. Now, it would be several years before Grindelwald would be a truly powerful force, but his agents were all over Europe, searching for potential allies. There was a war going on that none of us truly understood, and most were not even aware of. Although historians may quibble on the specifics of Grindelwald's alleged alliance with the Muggle Germans, the truth of the matter is that it was merely a smokescreen of a kind - the chance for Grindelwald to attack. By that point, his soldiers were spread throughout Europe, even stretching into Northern Africa and Russia.

"The identity of Grindelwald was a secret, even to us; we were unsure if even his top lieutenants were aware. Although I personally never discovered who he was, I believe the truth will come in handy for you, Harry, if you ever manage to come across that information."

"Do you think that's likely?" Harry asked dubiously. "I mean, Dumbledore probably knew, because he defeated him, right?"

Slughorn stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Your logic is sound, but I do not know for sure - what you probably did not know about their battle is that by the end, there were no witnesses left alive. Only Dumbledore survived that encounter - it was assumed, in any event, as Grindelwald was never heard from again, and his followers disbanded soon after." The heavyset professor shook his head ruefully. "In any event, I am getting off track. As the war progressed, I became increasingly disenchanted with the cause, even before the Muggle war truly started. Although I had extensive knowledge in Dark magic, and what I considered the ability to properly utilize it, I began to see my compatriots and friends lose themselves in increasingly dangerous and evil magics, to the point where they truly began to degrade before my eyes.

"I made a decision at that point, one that I will freely tell you did not come easily. Using advanced mental techniques I can no longer utilize, I successfully purged all knowledge of Dark magic from my mind."

"What?" Harry jumped up, shocked. "You willingly threw away your knowledge? Why couldn't you just no longer use it for evil reasons?"

Slughorn sighed heavily. "Harry, if only it was that easy. Dark magic is a difficult thing to use, and far more to master. In all honesty, I did not believe I had the mental ability to use Dark magic without becoming someone far different than I wanted to be. Indeed, there are those individuals out there that can use Dark magic without losing themselves to corruption, but they are few and far between. Even Dumbledore ceased to use Dark magic after his defeat of Grindelwald."

"Dumbledore used Dark magic?" Harry asked in surprise. "But... that goes against everything he stood for!"

"Precisely, Mr. Potter. Although I cannot be certain, I always believed Dumbledore used a method similar to the one I utilized to rid his mind of any knowledge Dark magic. Yes, it presents a handicap of sorts to dealing with Dark wizards with evil intent, but given the Headmaster's expansive knowledge of mental magics, I am sure he was able to retain knowledge of defending against Dark magic - not coincidentally, I might add, similar to what is taught in the Defense Against the Dark Arts course."

"Hmm," Harry considered this carefully. "So what happened to Dumbledore's knowledge? Did it just - disappear? And... wait a minute!" Harry stopped as he suddenly considered something. "You said you purged your Dark magical knowledge. Then how did you know about Horcruxes when Tom asked you?"

Slughorn smiled widely, a proud look in his eyes. "Ah, that is exactly the point, Harry! You see, you are quite right - I did not lose all knowledge associated with Dark magic, merely how to use it. I was still aware of much of what I had studied - although much was amorphous and not in any real detail, of course. When Tom asked me about Horcruxes, I was not sure if he truly understood what they were - if he did, then I had severely misjudged him, which of course turned out to be the case. Of course, as a very smart student in Slytherin surrounded by purebloods, it was not completely impossible that he would come across the idea of Horcruxes, and perhaps even think of them as a viable way to increase power without using Dark magic. For you see, as odd as it may seem, Horcruxes are not exactly Dark magic, at least, not in the way commonly believed."

Slughorn sighed at this point, slightly overcome by the memories. "It is unfortunate that I helped him along the path to attempt the creation of Horcruxes, although I will admit he probably would have found out more without any information from me. After that day, Tom acted as though nothing improper had occurred, which to me seemed suspicious indeed. Things were never quite the same between us then, and years later, when he approached me to join his cause, he was not pleased at my polite, but firm, refusal. I believe it was only because of his remaining humanity at the time that he did not push things any farther. Of course, as I am sure he never forgot my answer, after I retired from Hogwarts, where I could be reasonably safe, I went into hiding. I was quite happy to reappear for those years where it seemed he had been vanquished."

Harry nodded. This made sense - he had been wondering why someone who taught for so long would need to hide. But if Tom kept a grudge - which seemed quite likely - Slughorn would indeed be intelligent to stay hidden from the public eye.

"Harry, although this history is necessary to understand much of what you will face, there are two things I need to tell you that will make a key difference in your fight."

Harry sat up straight and nodded, paying as close attention as he was able.

"The first is an old book of Grindelwald's which I acquired while I was still in his service, but have not read since I removed my Dark magic knowledge - make sure to read it when you can, although much will still be above your current understanding. Just be aware that I and others sacrificed much to get the book. The other area of interest is about Horcruxes - something about their true nature."

Slughorn held up his hands, as if in protest. "Now, Harry, I know you are not about to go out and attempt the creation of a Horcrux, but that is precisely why I can trust you with this knowledge. You see, although I told Tom I knew nothing much about Horcruxes, the truth is I knew a great deal - including several pieces of information Tom never discovered."

"Well, with all due respect," Harry asked slowly. "How can you be sure he never found out? After all, it's not like you've kept up correspondence with him, right?"

"Indeed," Slughorn agreed amiably. "The reason I am sure is that if Tom knew what I knew about Horcruxes, he would never have attempted to create one. This is not a matter of being Dark or evil, but an understanding of what a Horcrux truly is. You see, Tom believed, as was commonly thought, that a Horcrux split one's soul and allowed a kind of immortality. That is true, in a way, but in reality splitting a soul is not possible. What is commonly called a 'soul' by the magical community is not a soul at all. Our souls are immutable, unchangeable, impossible to alter in the physical world, as they exist entirely on another plane of existence. What we can change, however, is the magical connection we have to our souls. Even Muggles have this connection, although most have no true notion of what this connection is.

"You know, of course, of how Dementors supposedly 'suck' out their victims souls?"

Harry nodded. He was all too familiar with the monstrosities.

"Removing a soul is not possible, even with a Dementor's power or powerful Dark magic, but removing or destroying that soul connection is possible indeed. Many powerful spells, including the Unforgivables, target that connection, which has the effect of affecting someone physically as well. A Horcrux does not split a 'soul', as that is not possible. Instead, it splits that magical connection to the soul over what is called the 'magical spectrum', a concept difficult to explain - so I will merely say that it is a way our physical world and magical energy flows interact. Voldemort never knew this, as he wanted merely to cheat death, which I will admit is hardly a trivial feat, but by creating Horcruxes, Voldemort sacrificed parts of his magic permanently. Now, he replaced those parts of his magic with other powers, for the most part, but I believe he thought those powers a side effect to creating the Horcruxes.

"Harry, the reason Horcruxes corrupt someone is because that magical connection to the soul becomes fractured and corrupted, which changes forever the flow of magic through the ones foolish enough to complete a Horcrux. As Voldemort did not realize he lost pieces of his magic, he also could not have known what would happen to that wayward magic. You see, a Horcrux in essence is two things: an object with a piece of the original magic, and something... else. The creation of a Horcrux mutates one's magic to become a kind of undead entity, something akin to a ghost without any physical anchor. When a Horcrux object is destroyed, that undead spirit is released, and attempts to find the nearest body. In fact, the very substance of reality is warped by creation of a Horcrux, and..."

Slughorn stopped short with a frown, and looked a bit frustrated. "Harry, I must apologize. I am unable, for reasons I cannot divulge, to fully explain to you the true nature of Horcruxes. I believe in time you will discover the complete truth, but we are both limited by dangerous forces, some of which may be monitoring your conversations."

Harry stood up and looked around the room frantically. "Someone's spying on me? I don't feel anything in my head... Is it Voldemort? Someone else?"

The professor sighed. "No, it is not Voldemort. If only it was that simple, there would be reasonably simple ways to protect your thoughts. I'm not speaking of some hidden Death Eater, spying at your innermost thoughts, but those who are 'listening', in a manner of speaking, for key words and phrases that, for lack of a better word, are too 'sensitive' to leave uninvestigated. Naturally, these spies no doubt still believe you know nothing about them, so they are not quite as vigilant. Luckily, my affiliation with you is probably known only for our Hogwarts interactions, and even then, probably only for my Slug Club."

Harry shrugged noncommittally. "Well, I suppose you are more an expert in any case. So I should read Grindelwald's book, and... do what exactly about the Horcrux problem?"

Horace chuckled in a dry manner. "The Horcrux problem. I don't suppose I've heard it expressed so succinctly, but ah, there it is." Composing himself, the older man examined Harry carefully. "Well, there is not much more I can tell you, at least not for the moment. As I mentioned, I cannot speak aloud or write certain explicit words or phrases, regardless of how useful they may be to you, but I will tell you that the book is a good start. Grindelwald hid his secrets in ways difficult to decrypt, so there is nothing obvious written on those pages. Suffice it to say, I leave you with this key advice: If you happen to find any Horcruxes, do not destroy them!"

"What?" Harry exclaimed. "But, what about Vol... Riddle? Then he's unstoppable!"

"Yes, you are unfortunately quite right," Slughorn replied grumpily. "But for the same reasons as already mentioned, I cannot tell you to wait. All I can do is offer my assurances that this advice will not lead you astray, by any honor I still retain in your eyes."

Harry sighed and glanced at the book. "Okay, Professor. I suppose I didn't really think I'd find any of them anytime soon anyway."

"Do not be fully disheartened, Mr. Potter." Slughorn sat back in his chair, a faint but smug expression on his face. "I believe you may find answers sooner than you might expect." He stood and offered a meaty hand. "I offer you my fondest and most fervent desire of your success. Good luck, Mr. Potter."

Harry grinned as he accepted the handshake. "Thanks, sir. I won't forget you, or your help."

Slughorn winked. "I suppose that is all I could ask for."

*Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
*

- William Ernest Henley

Ronald Weasley was, in most ways, the textbook definition of a Gryffindor: loyal only when it suited him, courageous to a fault, over-competitive when it was unnecessary, and fiercely, angrily, jealous to a near unhealthy level. Ron was quite loyal to his friends, but deep down, at a level he could never articulate, he wanted to be known for something, to be somebody important. He also knew (but would never admit) that being "Harry Potter's Best Friend" was probably the only way he'd ever come close to fulfilling that subconscious desire. Ron hated school not because of the never ending schoolwork (at which he always felt deficient), or even his long-seated distaste for all things Slytherin, but because it was where everyone he knew succeeded. His fairly decent Quidditch skills and above average defense skills were not enough - he was close to friends who far exceeded his abilities.

Ron loved his family, but did not really want to spend much time with them. So Ron waited eagerly for the day when he could disappear with his friends and never need return to Hogwarts. It was the day after Harry's birthday, thus he had to be coming by soon, at least that was what he had mentioned in his latest owl message. Bill and Fleur's wedding was only a few days away, and preparations had only just started to reach a heated pace.

"Ronald, can you find your sister?" A frazzled Mrs. Weasley called out to her son, interrupting his sulking. "She's supposed to finish the decorations on the floral arrangement."

Ron grunted and got to his feet with an exaggerated motion. "Yeah, Mum, I'll go check on her."

"What was that?" Molly poked her head out of the kitchen.

"I said I'll bloody go find her!" Ron snapped.

"Watch your mouth, Ron! I don't have time to deal with your peckishness now. Please just go find Ginny."

"Okay, okay, I'm going." Ron grumbled. He stomped up the stairs to his sister's room, noticing the door was ajar. "Ginny? You in there?" Ron knocked on the door. "C'mon, Mum's stressed and she's taking it out me!" He knocked again a little harder, and the door swung open. Ron peeked his head inside cautiously, but saw no sign of his wayward sibling. He scanned the room and his eyes fell on a pile of several garlands of flowers. "Oh, there they are. I'll just take them down to Mum. Suppose Ginny's already done." Shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed the flowers and hefted them into the air, the pile actually towering over him and impeding his vision.

"Ah, bugger!" Ron cursed in annoyance. He tried to make his way to the door, but suddenly his foot caught on something and Ron stumbled, plummeting to the floor. Ron grabbed out at the wall in a flailing fashion, but to his astonishment, his hand had somehow pulled on a gnarl in the grain of the wall, and a board popped out of place. Ron stood up and looked nervously at the hole in the wall. "I gotta fix this before Ginny comes back." He picked up the wood and tried to remember an appropriate repair spell.

He gazed closely at the broken wall, and his eyes opened wide with astonishment. Nestled in the opening was a small jewelry box. Overcome with curiousity, Ron carefully took the box to get a closer look. A strange runic mark was blazoned on the box's lid, and Ron felt an odd shiver run down his back. Feeling a bit odd, Ron suddenly got the notion to write the mark down. He grabbed a scrap of paper off the floor and quickly drew a crude, but reasonably accurate approximation of the disturbing mark.

"Hmm, guess I should probably ask Bill about this." Ron begrudgingly added a note to "ask Bill" and stuffed the paper in his pocket. He picked up the box and looked at the hole, trying to remember exactly how it had originally fit.

"Ron, what are you doing in my room?"

Ron blanched and turned to face a furious Ginny with hands on her hips.

"Listen, Ginny, I'm sorry, I just came up to get the flowers, but I tripped and..." He trailed off when he noticed Ginny's expression change from incensed to blank. "What? I know I wrecked the wall, but I'll fix it, I promise!"

Ginny chuckled tonelessly. "I believe you." And with a sudden motion, catching Ron completely off guard, she drew her wand. "Obliviate."

Ron was too shocked to even attempt to defend himself.

"It is not all books that are as dull as their readers." - Henry David Thoreau

Harry leaned back, flipping through the first few pages of Grindelwald's book. The book was written in a mixture of languages, seemingly almost incomprehensibly so, but for the most part the English, though riddled with spelling mistakes, was at least legible. Although Harry could not be sure, the book almost seemed a mix between a diary and log of one random thought after another. Unfortunately, it became clear that the first pages of the book had been ripped out.

As is already considerd. I have decided that pursuing this Unsterblichkeit mixtuer is a fool's errand, with implycations I had nevet even considered. Although the kraftvolle feinde continue to push this ridiculous notion that is clearly impossible, in retrospect, at least. After all, if the process was so simple, chacun aurait fait! But non, as the trickery of the junjo no doumei is no doubt behind this latest expenditure. In fact, I shall next

NaturallY! It was all to easy to see the truth in the matter, those baka no oni were fools of the highest caliber if they believed they could so easily sway me! In fact, the next time I see Mc (much of the text following this had been burnt off the page) I don t think was ? Nao, I will not accept that that dumbkopf coudld ever solve my quandry

On that day, that being 17th of June, 1937, I was able to successfully recreate the rift - but I sincerely doubt that any alterations occurred, as my singular sight seemed not specific enough to determine any anomalous magical signatures. It strikes the question - would resending the timeline cause a change in the rift signature? A hypothetical question at best, as changing the timeline seems impossible at this fluxed stage.

When I find that reprehensible Mulciber, I will kill him. Keeping such a secret from me, his master in all things? The spell of piccolo fuoco - I cnnnont believe it. In any event, it turns out that I was right; the causal change does indeed reapply death mentality to

The next several pages were severely damaged, to the point where Harry flipped ahead to the next readable block of text. His eyes lit up as he recognized key words.

The determination of pain output to energy input for the Cruciatus seems inconsistent with Kallegott's Rule of Two, contrary to common belief. In my experience, the relevant factors are A) implicit mental desire B) retained Cruciatus internal damages C) the consideration of magical force of caster versus subject and D) the standard werkelijkheids breking inherent in all Unblockables. My research indicates that unlike the avADA KedAVRA, any subsequent soul query will result in the complete destruction of the soul container, although I am unsure how non-biological containers would react.

A sudden fiery flash startled Harry out of his reading.

"Fawkes!" Harry exclaimed, surprised by the unexpected visitor. "What a pleasant surprise. Why are you here?"

The phoenix trilled and held out a talon, which held a rolled note that had not been there a moment before. Fawkes cocked his head and stared meaningfully at Harry. Harry swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. It seemed a bit obvious who would have written and sent such a note. Unrolling the paper, Harry quickly realized his feeling was exactly correct.

Harry, if you are reading this, it means that plans against you have come to fruition. I will not lie to you Harry, not anymore. Your life has been a string of falsehoods, with many conspiring against you and our entire world. I will not deign to calm you with meaningless platitudes or empty proverbs, as has seemingly been my wont. Unfortunately, I have seen that time is rapidly running out, and I no longer have the luxury to compose a properly complete farewell letter to you.

You have a very important journey before you, but it is not the one you expect. You already know about the search for Horcruxes we have already discussed in detail, but I am afraid that search is far more complicated than I first explained. You see, Harry, I have been aware for some time of several warring factions that battle for the very nature of magic itself. These factions exist in the shadows, and fight their wars by manipulating others and corrupting or misusing magical knowledge. Unfortunately, as horrible as the Horcrux situation seems, there are actually far deeper layers involved, which I can cannot currently explain, due to those who may be monitoring your activities.

Indeed, the very school where you have found both happiness and grief is not merely a place of learning or magical education. It is, as it has been for centuries, one of the battlegrounds of the war of control over magic. Most people are completely ignorant of this war, and very few know more than a general notion of what may be occurring.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this quandary; neither faction is the right side to follow, as both merely want power and control. I cannot say whom you know is involved in this conflict, but I have left you clues that I pray will lead you to success and victory. Trust only those who are trustworthy by my word alone. All others may be suspect.

I advise you to seek assistance in the Alley - you will see what I mean soon enough. If I have prepared things correctly, you will find the answers you need.

I do not have much time left to send this to you, so I will leave you with one final warning that will help you when the time is right:

"The Anti-Horcrux does not exist."

AD

Harry looked up from the letter, the familiar feeling of melancholy threatening to overwhelm him. And yet, as he looked over the letter once more, he found himself incredibly confused by Dumbledore's obtuse comments. What on Earth was Dumbledore talking about? And what did he mean by a hidden war, or an "Anti-Horcrux" for that matter, whatever that was. It seemed that perhaps Slughorn's worry of some enemy monitoring Harry's communication was dead on, especially if Dumbledore was worried. The letter suddenly burst into flames, startling Harry out of his anxious musings.

He looked over at Fawkes who shuddered as though vibrating. "Fawkes, are you all right there?"

The phoenix looked at him and trilled once before vanishing in a burst of fire.

Harry sat down, taken aback by the abrupt departure of Fawkes. "I guess Fawkes didn't want to talk about it. I suppose I can't blame him."

And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.

Elsewhere...

Harry stared happily at Parvati, engrossed in watching her every movement, each minor fidget or adjustment seeming almost unbearably sexy. He still could not believe his luck in landing such a wonderful, desirable girlfriend. Of course, considering his past relationships, Harry was more than happy to have a partner who was not an over-emotional wreck. Harry just couldn't wait until she finished her seemingly endless gossip so he could just grab her and-

Harry stared grumpily at Pansy, wondering how in Voldemort's arse he had been saddled with such an annoying, whiny girlfriend. Now, just like every time they talked, Pansy was spending an exorbitant amount of time complaining. On the other hand, Harry realized he probably couldn't do much better, as everyone else was taken, dead, or gay. And in some cases, all three. Of course, the sex was pretty damn good, Harry supposed that he perhaps this time he could just skip the annoying tirade, grab her and-

A sudden jolt. Harry looked down in shock, and watched as his arm began to disappear, slowly at first, then suddenly, without a chance to scream in protest, he was completely, utterly gone. Just... gone.

Harry sat up from reading Grindelwald's book with a start. He had just had the strangest feeling that a part of him had just... vanished. A quick inspection revealed nothing was missing. A feeling of lightness drifted across Harry's chest but was suddenly crushed by such intense, sudden contracting, that Harry cried out in surprised pain. Then, as quick as it had appeared, the pain left. But the memory of that brief lightness prodded at Harry's mind, and he threw the book down, frustrated.

"Nuts to this, I'm going to Diagon Alley."

Next time...

The slimy beasts return and choke their victims to an early grave.

Aseret HaMakot

BLOOD FROGS LICE BEASTS PESTILENCE BOILS HAIL LOCUSTS DARKNESS DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN
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