WARNING! Disturbing scene! Harry meets with Moody. Moody gets some new toys. Neville gives a history lesson, gets the spotlight. Tonks and Mack forge their stones, Voldy gets headaches, Harry gives...
A/N: There is a section in this chapter that I really, really, really didn’t want to write. Unfortunately, it’s necessary for the plot and Voldemort’s character. That said; I firmly believe rapists and especially child rapists should be tortured to death.
I will try to keep those scenes as non-graphic as possible, but there will be some disturbing images here. Please excuse it, and if you don’t want to read it, I will preface and follow that section with:
Harry walked through the castle to his office in a very good mood. The morning’s training had gone well. The students were routinely running the nature trail blindfolded, and this day, they’d first run the Grinder without benefit of sight. Harry was proud as he could be of all of them. Three had broken legs, and sixteen of them had broken other things, arms, wrists and ribs mostly. At Harry’s request, Healers Jacoby and Merrifield had been on site to tend to such injures and as soon as they’d been healed, the students had returned to their exercises. With their ‘go-to’ attitudes, the grueling months behind them, the ‘special training’ the Aurors were giving them, not to mention the prospect of building their own lightsabers ahead of them, Harry was confident they could stand against anything the Death Eaters could throw at him…and more!
Yes, he was very happy.
A disturbance in the force alerted him of Moody’s presence before he’d stepped down the hallway leading to his office. Alastor was waiting at the door.
“Potter!” He greeted the younger man.
“Mad Eye.” Harry returned. “What’s up?”
“Those silver balls.”
“That what y’ call ‘em?”
“Yeah. What about ‘em?
“I want a hundred of ‘em! The Aurors have gotten sloppy. It’s time and long past time they discovered they aren’t as good as they think!” He smiled his frightening smile. “Constant vigilance, y’know!”
“I can’t give them to you…not just yet.”
“Because as you pointed out recently, one can never tell if there are anymore…how’d you say it…oh yeah! ‘Death Eating scum’…in the Auror department. Those remotes are still absolute top-hush!”
“Well, shit!” Moody swore. “I’ve seen what you lot have been doing with them, and if they can be used like that, for the Auror cadets, we might not lose so many.”
Now Harry was on the back foot. He hated the idea of anyone dying because he hadn’t or couldn’t do something. Worse, Moody knew it!
Growling at having been boxed in, Harry passed his hand across the scan plate and opened the door to his office. Entering he gestured Moody inside.
“I hate to risk losing such a valuable asset to Voldemort, but you’re right. I can’t let people die if I can do something to help prevent it. The problem is…how do we go about it?”
“Well, my chief artificer can make them for you, but I absolutely cannot have any of them falling into Death Eater hands. That’s absolutely critical. If the Deez get hold of even one, they can take it apart, find out how it works, build more and use ‘em to train their own in combat, and that’s something we can’t afford. So, how do we get the remotes to the cadets and still prevent the Deez from learning about them for the next three months?”
Harry broke off as Hermione wandered in, followed by Luna with Fawkes tucked into the baby sling she preferred, and behind, them, was Neville. “Hey Harry, that was a hell of a run this morning.” She gave Harry a warm kiss then chirped. “Hi, Mad-Eye. What’s up?”
“Hello, Love. We’re trying to figure out how to give the Auror cadets the chance to train with the remotes, while keeping Voldy and the Voldettes from finding out how they work.”
“Give them different remotes.” Came from Luna, who was cooing at Fawkes, who in turn was nestled into her sling, playing up the part of ‘forlorn waif’.
Moody raised his eyebrow, Hermione gasped in shock, and Harry was stunned speechless. Such a simple answer and yet, he hadn’t thought of it!
“Stokes!” He called out.
Seconds later the little elf was standing in front of him. “Good morning, Harry Potter. You has called for Stokes?”
“Good morning, Stokes. I want you to put the second batch of remotes on hold for now and concentrate on making some for Mister Mad-Eye.”
“Certainly. Will they be being magical based units?”
“All of them, but I don’t want them to look anything like the remotes we have.”
“Stokes can be doing that!” He replied, and turned to Moody. “Mister Mad-Eye, how is you wanting them to look?”
“Well, how th’ hell should I know?” Moody shot back. Instead of quailing, Stokes replied: “Because you is being they user. Harry Potter is having Stokes making the remotes look a certain way because his students can understand them like they is. You is needing them for…?”
Stokes let the question trail off.
“I wanna use ‘em to train up the Auror cadets…and more’n a few of the older officers too!
“Any suggestions?” Harry asked the group.
“Make them look like that eye of yours. It’s creepy enough.” Neville piped up, which surprised Harry. He usually kept to the background. It seemed that Susan and Hannah had been good for the shy youth.
He went on. “And claim you invented them. That’ll keep the purebloods from trying to glom onto them, like the Malfoy’s did with the floo system.
“What?” Harry had never heard that particular story before.
“Oh yeah. In the mid twelve hundreds a Scottish couple named Macenarny, invented, and then developed the floo system. Ignatia Wildsmith, who’d married into the clan, saw their invention and helped them by developing the activator…the floo powder, and for nearly four hundred years, everything was pretty cool. Unfortunately, in 1628, a family of wealthy French immigrants, or more likely ejected expats, named Malfoi, found out about it. A few Imperius curses, or something like it, and the Macenarny’s descendents handed over the plans and the formula for Floo-powder.
The Malfoi’s claimed their ancestors had invented the floo system in France and the Macenarny’s had copied an already functioning system, and while too many people knew Wildsmith had invented the floo powder, the Malfoi's dropped some gold in the right hands and managed to steal the whole mess. The Macenarny clan sued, but because they were Scot, and not English, the predominantly Norman, Council of Elders, sidelined them. Like now, the council was filled with corruption, and like now, gold was king. The Malfoi’s had it, the Macenarny’s didn’t. The whole clan, all twelve hundred of ‘em, left Britain proper, vowing never to return to such a corrupt country, and went on to America, where I believe they are still inventing things. In fact, I understand their family is behind much of the Technomagery there.”
“All right. That’s all very interesting but it doesn’t tell me…”
“Harry…” Hermione piped up. “Remember what you said about Dumbledore, and squibs?” At his nod, she went on. “The same thing applies here. Since Mad-Eye is a pureblood, not to mention he’s considered one of the most dangerous men in Britain, nobody would dare to claim his work for themselves. In this case, fear keeps the crooks honest.” She smiled at the oxymoron.
“OK.” Harry nodded his understanding. “But I think I’ll have a little chat with Carolyn anyway. If anybody does try, they’ll take one look at her and run screaming!”
“Yeah, I like that girl! She’s a firecracker, that one!” Moody commented, and then asked: “So what now?”
“Well, now we design a new remote.” Hermione replied. “Stokes?”
“Lady Gryffindor?” Stokes returned, anxious to please.
“Can you design a magical version of the remotes?”
“These remotes is magic.” The little mechanic replied, pointing to the units on Harry’s desk.
When Hermione raised a questioning eyebrow to Harry he explained: “I needed them like yesterday, so I had a chat with Stokes. He suggested the first batch be magical, so we could use them immediately. The next batch will be the shielded electrogravimetrics.
“All right.” Moody interjected. “So what does that mean?”
“Basically it means we can make them for you but you have to design a new shell so they won’t be recognized.” Harry replied.
“Design a new shell?” Moody was confused. “I’m an Auror, not a bloody artist!”
“Fortunately, a couple of my students are. Luna? Would you ask Dean and Orla to join us and then stick around? I’d like to have you help design a suitably mysterious looking magical shell for the remotes. It has to be good enough that people think it’s beyond their ability to understand, and you’re the best at that.”
Nodding, Luna ghosted from the room with a happily trilling Fawkes snuggled into his baby sling.
“Speaking of…” Harry mused. Then: “I know Amelia will be thrilled to death, but I’ll have to contact Croaker too. He’ll need to sign off on it so nobody can whinge about using them in training.”
Nods all around indicated everyone was in agreement. Harry went on.
“Stokes, since these are going to be used by many people, we have to cut the chances of someone stealing one and taking it to Voldemort, to an absolute minimum. I want you to set them up so only Mad-Eye can activate them. Also, I want you to build in a self destruct device that will explode violently if anyone but you tries to open the shell.”
“Harry!” Hermione protested. She hated seeing this darker, harsher side of the man she loved. He was by no means, going dark as Dumbledore had asserted, but he was unyielding in his goal. He intended to end the war, even if he had to die to do it.
“Death Eaters!” He shot back.
Hermione scowled in frustration. Harry was absolutely implacable where it came to Death Eaters. His policy seemed to be: ‘Azkaban is the second best place for Death Eaters!’
As Stokes acknowledged his orders, Luna reappeared with Dean Thomas and Orla Quirke in tow.
When Harry explained what Moody wanted, Orla looked thoughtful, but Dean split his face with a bright grin. “It’s not my usual kind of art, but OK. Who knows, we might invent a whole new art-form today.” They immediately turned to Stokes and began to talk.
Moody was suitably impressed. “Damn, Potter!” He commented. “You know how to get things done!”
Harry smirked and said: “It helps having truly motivated people involved, not just someone who’s in it for the short term profit.”
Harry shooed the group out of his office and into a small conference room across the hall, where they got to work.
For likely the first time in his life, Neville Longbottom was the center of attention…or rather, his brand new lightsaber was. The students all wanted to see the new weapon. He was suitably nervous, of course. This kind of thing was new to him. His gran had run interference for him as a child; though she’d insisted he take lessons in deportment, as he was the heir to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Longbottom…and during his years at school, most of the attention was focused on Harry.
Seated beside Harry, Hermione was spared the intense scrutiny. Truth be told, more than a few of the students were wary of both her magical acumen and her considerable temper.
Her new weapon, as well as Neville’s, provided greater incentive for the students than ever before. Every one of them wanted a lightsaber of their own now. Focus during lightsaber practice had sharpened, and Harry saw his students giving extra attention to detail during their exercises.
That evening, Mackenzie and Tonks turned in early claiming they’d need the rest before creating their focusing stones. Harry snickered as he ‘felt’ their ‘resting’ through the force. From then on in, neither of them would have any grounds to say he was overactive in bed.
Hermione, who was just then, under him, meeting his every passionate move with one of her own, agreed.
In Little Hangleton, the self-styled Lord Voldemort was furiously torturing some of his minions because he’d run out of the soothing elixir that took away his pain.
Because they would be going directly from breakfast to the forge room, Harry excused Tonks and Mackenzie from their morning’s workout. Remus was missing too, but that could be understood. Harry figured he could tease him later on that day.
Three rumpled instructors entered the dining hall, and set to, on a high protein, low mass meal intended to keep them alive for the next five days. Remus only ate his usual, but Tonks and Mack began some industrial strength scarfing.
Envious stares came from all over the hall.
At the end of their repast, as they stood up, a tremendous ovation erupted. They knew what it meant. The students were saluting their accomplishments. By creating their own focusing crystals, they had passed a threshold of sorts. Harry decided this would be a good thing to do from now on. In the future, everybody who achieved the level where he considered them ready to build their own lightsaber, would get the same kind of ovation.
Tonks blushed to the tips of her hair, while Mackenzie, not being a metamorph, only flushed in the normal manner. Remus and Judith saw them off with gentle kisses and protestations of love.
As they left the hall to meet with their designated force sensitive elves, Sparkey and Gemma. Harry stood and addressed the crowd.
“I think that was a brilliant idea. In fact, I like it so much; I think we should applaud everyone who’s ready to make his or her crystal. Whaddya say?”
The resulting noise convinced him.
When calm again reigned, he added: “Y’know…there are two people here, who never got that ovation.” Instantly Hermione and Neville both blushed bright red. The students began their applause again, standing and clapping wildly and whistling for the first students to make their own weapons. Technically that would be him and Dobby, but neither cared. The display of esprit de corps was enough. Harry grinned as Hermione swore eternal revenge for embarrassing her.
That afternoon, Harry and Hermione both wandered down the family wing to see their two favorite kids, Sarah and Kyle. Doreen led them from their flat to Rachael’s where they found the kids floating each other, carefully watched by two nervous parents.
“Very, very good!” Harry clapped. Both kids looked up and lost focus, dropping the few inches to the pillows under them.
“Harry!” Erupted from both throats as the littlest students tumbled forward to climb their favorite Jedi.
All of them had a blast as the kids showed off for the two Jedi. When they were finished, he asked them to try to stand on their hands, calling on the force to help. It took some doing, as neither child was used to handstands, but with Harry and Hermione helping, guiding them with calm, steady voices, they put forth more effort than they would have on their own. Like Harry’s older students, they wanted to impress their teacher.
Harry transfigured a thick mat under both of the kids and then taught them to drop from heir handstand into a roll. More than a few flumps followed, as both youngsters fell, but smiles and laughter all around, greeted him each time it happened.
By the end of the hour, both kids could drop from a handstand, into a roll and end up on their feet.
“Outstanding!” He praised them. “Now, practice! Next time, we’ll take this another step, OK?”
Happy “Okay’s” sounded.
Harry asked Hermione to keep the kids occupied while he discussed their future training with their mothers. Rachael was getting along with her own force capabilities, but all four parents were wholly encouraging as their children, began to eclipse their abilities.
Harry once again checked up on both kids’ appetites, finding that both were taking pieces of fruit from the bowls and long drinks of chilly water from the jugs. Doreen told him that Kyle wasn’t nearly as stubborn about eating his greens as he’d been before, but Harry thought it more likely that Sarah had influenced him. According to Rachael, she ate everything!
Also according to Rachael, both Kyle and Sarah had just advanced from the preschool level books to their first ‘real’ books. ‘The Illustrated Tales of Robin Hood’. The books were liberally illustrated and so, neither child had difficulty in associating the words with their corresponding images.
Their physical training was going as well, with both students studying Tai Chi and swimming. For four year olds, they took their ‘training’ very seriously indeed. Playtime also included the other children of, or near their ages, there were a dozen kids of various ages, after all and it wouldn’t do for Kyle and Sarah to avoid them. They did have to be careful not to tell the other kids about the force. Kyle was having the most difficulty so, with Doreen’s permission, Harry placed a mild compulsion to prevent him from wanting to talk about the fun things they could do, outside their flats. Rachael said there was less of a problem with Sarah, but should it become necessary, she’d ask him to do the same.
Good byes followed as he and his beloved left the family wing and ventured ton the visitor’s wing where they encountered a happily weeping Arabella Figg. Lorelei Mentasus told them that she’d been able to unblock another memory of Arabella’s grandchildren.
Tea followed as Mrs. Figg nattered on about how beautiful that little girl was, while they understood that the ‘little girl’ in question, was likely older than Harry, just then.
Harry and Hermione departed for the dining hall for supper.
That evening the combined birthday party had only four guests of honor. Katie Bell, Kenneth McMichael, Wayne Hopkins, and a furiously blushing Ron Weasley.
Some of the siblings attended, most notably Kenneth’s brother Kyle, and his ‘very bestest friend’, Sarah Dobbs, along with their parents. They gave him several CD’s and a player, Harry’d had Stokes modify to work on magic, a large box of Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans…and an electric toothbrush…also modified to work on magic.
Wayne was happy to know that his parents were not only safe but nearby, and so insisted he didn’t need anything. Nevertheless they presented him with some casual clothing ‘for afterwards’. Since Harry knew he liked to sketch, he presented Wayne with a few pads of paper and some good quality pencils.
Katie insisted on sharing her gift from Harry…a huge box of Belgian chocolates. Oliver gave her a pair of tickets to the Harpie’s/Mudhens, match in September. She immediately pinned the tickets to the bulletin board and cast an illuminating square around them, with the words: ‘THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO! LETS MAKE SURE WE ALL SEE IT…TOGETHER!’ flashing. That simple gesture was as motivating to the group as any speech Harry had made, and quite honestly he was rather annoyed he hadn’t thought of it himself. He promised himself he’d pay for the tickets for them all.
Ron almost died of embarrassment when he opened his gift from Luna. Black lather chaps, a motorcycle hat, sunglasses, and a riding crop. It only got worse as Harry and Hermione exploded into an impromptu rendition of the Village People’s “Macho Man’!
Soon all the mugglebornes and a few half-bloods were singing along.
It turned out that Kenneth was a fan of the Village People, and happened to have a couple of their CD’s in his present, and within a half hour they’d taught the others to sing, ‘YMCA’ and ‘In the Navy’. Luna was having a blast, and poor Ron had just about burnt out his blush-bulb.
19th Mar, Evening:
“Umm…Harry?” Neville peeked in through the office door. Harry looked up from the progress reports he was filling out. Neville seemed nervous…or embarrassed, Harry couldn’t tell which. For some reason, his voice was…off.
His friend’s next words cleared up the confusion.
“Erm…can I get some of that honey? There doesn’t seem to be any in the castle and the house elves told me they were forbidden to bring any more in.”
Harry snickered. “Yeah, Hermione was pretty upset about that, she told the elves to keep the honey away, but she forgot that’s how she takes her tea. She can use sugar, but I happen to know she prefers the flavour the honey gives it. Don’t worry. She’ll let up pretty soon. Anyway, I can give you a couple jars, no problem. Erm…just as a matter of curiosity, which one are you using it on?”
Neville blushed furiously. “Ummm…both, actually. Turns out, they ummm, share ‘everything’.
Harry fell back into his chair laughing so hard, Neville thought he’d choke.
At breakfast on the twentieth, Harry greeted his students. “Good morning all!” Greetings and salutes came back.
“This morning I’ve managed to gather the whole lot of our Aurors for some intensive training.” Instantly he could see eyes narrow. The Aurors had proved to be more than adept and in some cases, more than willing to shoot at them. While they were usually able to avoid and or return the hexes, it was no easy job. In fact, that was what Harry was looking for. Between the Aurors and the remotes, he was carefully whittling them down to the critical few who would be facing the Death Eaters.
“Today, we’ll be outside practicing ‘circle inner’…with us in the barrel.”
Groans and muttered curses greeted the announcement.
And so it went. The dun-garbed students filed out of the dining hall and through the great oaken doors to the still frozen, front lawn. There, a hundred or more yards from the castle, they formed into a ring of Jedi, surrounded by a larger ring of trigger happy Aurors. Grinning, Harry released all thirty of the remotes into the air. Needless to say the students weren’t really happy about that. Just to make things a bit more interesting, he transfigured a tea table in the center of the ring and sat himself, Hermione Neville, Susan and Remus down, and announced: “We will be having tea. I truly hope we are not disturbed!” Winky popped in with a pot of tea.
The students understood. They were responsible for protecting their leaders.
Remus whispered over the table: “I hope you know what you’re doing, Harry!”
“Yeah.” He returned. “Me too.”
“Harry?” Hermione asked. “How are you going to get the Aurors to aim at us?”
“I promised the one or ones who hit any of us, a hundred Galleons.”
Susan and Neville moaned in unison: “We’re all gonna die!”
For the next hour, they sat there, sipping tea, as spells, charms and hexes and not a few curses flashed over and around them. In the end, Remus and Susan were hit. Harry, nearly so, several times, Neville scorched from a near miss, and Hermione was a nervous wreck.
On the Auror side, half of them were down, a third of those wouldn’t be walking without hospital care, and all of them had suffered scorches, internal and external difficulties, odd charms effects, such as vibrant colours never intended by nature, extra limbs or fewer than normal, Hands switched with feet, hair that grew so thickly they couldn’t move, see, or cast spells, boils, tentacles, and huge teeth, clothing that tried to imprison them, grass that trapped them, animals that threatened them, interesting transfigurations and other fascinating effects from the rebounded magic.
On the Jedi side, less than a quarter, were so affected. Some were unconscious, some were hurt, but most were simply suffering the effects of annoying hexes.
Harry had the Jedi students levitate the casualties, to the infirmary where he left a most irritated group of healers, medwitches and apprentices to sort the casualties out. Then, he escorted Hermione to their quarters where he handed her a phial of calming draught. She raised an eyebrow but he crossed his arms and frowned menacingly. She downed the draught, and in minutes was feeling much calmer. In fact, the term she used was ‘mellow’. Harry kissed her softly and left her to nod on the couch while he took a shower.
When he returned, she was stretched out on the couch, sound asleep.
Smiling fondly at his beloved, Harry sat at his desk to tackle some overdue progress and supply reports.
At supper, Harry congratulated his students.
“You lot, have done very well. Very well, indeed. Today, you took what I’ve been teaching you, and put it to work. You became a team, with each of you taking a position and supporting each other. That is precisely what I wanted to see, and like usual, you’ve not disappointed me. Not at all.”
“But a few got through, Harry!” Steven Cornfoot called out. “And a lot of us were down!”
“I was expecting it. This was your first full-on battle against people you weren’t familiar with. All in all, two hits, one hit by area effect, and a few dozen near misses out of several thousand fired, is damn good! That twelve of you lot, were downed, was simply a matter of experience. Don’t worry, we’ll be doing this again whenever we can, until I am assured nothing will get through.”
The Aurors attending the meal added their congratulations. In spite of the demonstrations they’d watched on the sixth, and despite the past two weeks of practice, they’d expected the Jedi to be pretty easy to beat. This day’s exercise proved them not only wrong, but very wrong.
Harry went to bed with a feeling of foreboding. He had no definite, and yet, he felt this night would be important. Finally he rolled out of the bed and headed to the floo, where he tossed a pinch of glittery powder into the fire and called out: “The Bones home, Amelia Bones!”
Tootles, the Bones’ house elf, answered the call, saying ‘Mistress Amelia was in bed and should not be disturbed’. When Harry insisted she rouse her mistress or he’d come over and do it himself, she relented. Five minutes later, Amelia appeared in her nightgown and a bad mood.
“You better have a damn good reason, Potter, or lord of three houses or no, I’m going to come through and pull your intestines out through your nose!”
Harry laughed out loud, but before Amelia could make good on her threat, he held up his hands and said: “Hold on, Amelia. There’s something happening tonight. I’ve been getting flashes of fire and death since around six. I think the force is trying to warn me of something. You’d best put your crew on full alert.
“I’ll need more than a feeling to authorize that kind of overtime, Harry!”
“Amelia, if it turns out a bust, I’ll pay that overtime myself!”
Seeing how serious he was, Amelia sighed. “You just love making my life difficult, don’t you?”
Harry chuckled again.
Amelia cut off the connection and made her own, commanding the Aurors and their foreign allies to full alert. The dozen Aurors who’d remained at the castle overnight, all departed through the main floo in the entry hall, with an uneasy and apologetic Harry bidding them good bye and good fortune.
Needless to say, Harry didn’t get much sleep that night. He cast a Solumnus charm on Hermione so she wouldn’t be disturbed, but for himself, he slept only in troubled fits and starts.
At nine PM, Snape mustered the one hundred fifteen well-indoctrinated purebloods in the corridor outside Voldemort’s throne room at Riddle manor. Though each had made a life for themselves, most relying on social position and blood status rather than actual accomplishment, there were a few who’d actually earned their positions. However, each of them knew they’d been given the nearly unheard-of opportunity to serve the dark lord. Snape’s subtle use of potions and other magical influences of the past fifteen years, ensured their avid participation.
They stood silently in stiff rows, eagerly awaiting the master’s appearance.
Voldemort read his tome, ‘Famous Necromancers in History’, and sipped his very expensive elf-made wine. He found it contributed greatly to the effects of the pain-dampening potion, when things got to be ‘a little too much’ for the potion alone. Just now, he sipped, knowing his new servants were waiting. He was the master, after all. It was only right that his servants awaited his convenience.
A quiet signal was sent and Snape chivvied the new recruits into the throne room, instructing them to kneel in arcs before their master’s chair. They would wait another hour before he arrived…but it was only just.
After all, he was Lord Voldemort!
Draining his glass, Voldemort set the goblet down, closed his book and stood. Walking to the door he bent over and with some grunting at the effort, picked up his familiar. A sixteen-foot long snake was rather heavy after all.
Nagini was not happy. She could felt he insanity rising in her familiar. His mind was growing more and more erratic as the seasons grew long. Soon, she would have to find a safer burrow, but she didn’t know how to escape this one. Whenever she fled to the wood surrounding the cave-above-ground, he would call for her and she found she could not refuse to go to him. Even when she was hunting, if he called, she had to return.
Entering the throne room, Voldemort nodded nearly imperceptibly to Snape, acknowledging his contribution of the past decade and a half. Snape remained motionless…as a servant should. Behind him, Lucius fumed. Until recently he was the dark lord’s favorite…
~…well after dear Bellatrix, may her soul burn in hell for eternity.~
He kept his shields at an unobtrusive level. He could shore them up should the feel an incursion, but to have them at maximum was an invitation for the dark lord to practice his Cruciatus. Lucius could tell anyone who wished to know, that the dark lord had no need of practice!
Now, the greasy spy, had taken his place, and it was all the fault of that blasted Potter! He and his little friends had kept them occupied long enough for Dumbledore and his Order to arrive and capture the Death Eaters. Then, someone had sent that miserable box to him, with that damning note. He suspected it was Snape, but there was no proof. And to top it off, Lucius’ plan to kill the minister…that flawless, perfectly executed plan, had somehow failed!
The dark lord was most intolerant of failure of any sort, and such a major failure…after the Dark lord had had to expend necessary resources to remove him and his fellows from Azkaban…after the suspicion had been cast upon him by whomever had sent that crate to the manor…
The dark lord had made his displeasure perfectly understood!
That lesson, had cost him months of convalescence, and he had only recently become able to walk unassisted. Worse… according to the healers, Draco was now the last Malfoy. If only he hadn’t arranged the ‘accidents’ that had claimed the lives of his father and brothers, there would be another chance to carry on the Malfoy line, but now, Draco was their only hope, and truth be told, he really didn’t trust his heir to do even that without detailed instructions and constant supervision. For that, for the embarrassment of the dark lord’s suspicion, for the indignity of his punishment, someone would pay, and pay dearly…and just now, Lucius’ jealous eyes were turned on Snape.
Voldemort smirked as he passed his scheming lieutenant. He was well aware of Lucius’ mind. The blond aristocrat was not nearly as impenetrable as he thought. Even now, his surface thoughts were turned to finding a way to first discredit Severus, and then, kill him.
Seating himself on his throne, Voldemort looked over the ranks of newly received Death Eaters, and smirked with satisfaction. These hundred men would do a great deal to even the odds between him and the ministry. Yes, the tides would be turned, and he would once again be the greatest wizard in the world!
Another half hour would pass before Voldemort would rise to address his minions.
“My servants!” Voldemort cried as strode back and forth before his kneeling minions.
“Tonight, is a momentous occasion! Tonight, you, who have pledged yourselves to me, will earn the right to be called Death Eaters! Each of you will go out with your groups and find a muggle to play with. You will bring them back here, and…entertain me.”
Cheers erupted from the kneeling mass. He was about to punish them for daring to interrupt him, but in one of the few intelligent decisions he’d made, decided to let this lie. They were cheering his plan, after all, and he could always torture them later, if things went awry.
As the black-clad terrorists gathered into groups of ten, each led by a seasoned Death Eater, they, by unspoken consent, made the decision to avoid Little Whinging entirely.
They felt that decision would save a number of their lives. Specifically, theirs.
They were right, but they were also wrong.
Small groups of murderers appeared in various places across the country, breaking into homes and, in one case, a battered woman’s shelter.
Those men didn’t fare well, at all. The women there had had enough and more than enough of men beating them, and took their frustrations out on the hapless idiots who’d invaded their home.
Amelia Bones would get several calls the next morning from MI-5.
A house in Oxford erupted into flames as one group dashed out, dragging a bound and silenced child of eleven years. She wouldn’t be the youngest victim by any means.
Screams erupted from the large home in Manchester. The Death Eaters emerged carrying four bound and terrified girls, one of them being only six. Behind, they left the bodies of the rest of the family, cooling on the floor. Seven people died in that home, from sixty-two years old to four months.
One cried “MORSMORDRE!” and the Dark mark flared overhead.
Just seconds after they’d deserted the building, the Aurors arrived. The spell-fight was one for the records, as nearly two hundred spells were fired in less than twenty seconds. Six Death eaters escaped vial Portkey, taking two of the hostages along with them. Two remained behind, but one died of her wounds in the muggle treatment unit at St. Mungo’s.
Like Snape’s crew had done in December, the eleven Death Eaters arrived at the late-night West Ham football team victory party via portkey. They were all facing outward and as soon as they’d appeared, killing curses flashed and nine British citizens, three of them being children, fell dead. The rather drunk fans who survived the initial assault, bellowed in rage and rushed forward to attack. Killing curses and the Cruciatus flowed like water. Dozens more fell, but it didn’t stem the tide a single bit. The Deez suffered four immediate casualties, as their men were literally torn apart. The Aurors, alerted by the Cruciatus monitoring charms, arrived to see muggles attacking Death Eaters. Were it not so devastatingly grim they would have laughed.
Stunners flew and several of the muggles and all but one of the surviving terrorists fell. That one had just managed to activate his portkey. He’d also grabbed the wrist of a young lady. Fortunately for her but not for him, she was dead already, having just been hit by the killing curse. Five prisoners were taken and seven muggles names were noted for possible inclusion into the military or MI-5’s anti-terrorist task force, in the future.
For the rest, the obliviators would be working overtime.
In Amesbury a small apartment complex exploded, as a Death Eater underestimated the destructive power of methane gas. His assignment was to set fire to the rubbish in the basement while the rest of them broke into flats and abducted the muggles living there. To him, the large, pressurized, accumulator tank, was just a piece of muggle junk of no particular worth. It was large and painted white, with green stripes, so he decided a bit of target practice was in order. The explosive hex ruptured the pressure vessel and the superheated metal ignited the suddenly released methane.
The explosion claimed fifty-seven lives, including all his compatriots. He survived…for about an hour, buried in the rubble, as the building burned itself around him. A week later, the coroner’s report indicated that most of his bones had been shattered by the eruption, but he’d suffocated trying to breathe smoke and toxic gasses.
At around on AM on the twenty-first, simultaneous stunners flew, and a girls dormitory in a small private school in Sunderland, was quietly emptied of its young charges. Severus Snape, who led the odd sized group of fifteen, cautioned his men to remain silent and do no collateral damage. He had given three other team leaders similar orders, in order to assure the dark lord was pleased with this night’s revel.
Fortunately for the intended victims, of those other groups, two team leaders, Gibbon and Dolohov, had decided to ignore the spy’s advice and began with a few rousing rounds of the Cruciatus, leading the Aurors right to them. Both team leaders escaped, but the teams they led either died, or were captured. Their victims were treated as necessary,
Obliviated and returned to their beds.
Still, though less than half the Death Eaters would return to their master, there would be sufficient sacrifices to provide for the anticipated entertainment.
One group of Death Eaters found some oddly dressed teenagers, vandalizing the statue of George Buchanan in a public park in Edinburgh. Thinking them easy prey, they attacked.
They chose their victims unwisely. They learned to their fatal misfortune, that the group was a part of a local street gang, known for their vicious and ruthless efficiency. None of them survived the effort, however, the members of the gang did lay them out neatly in the park, staking them to the ground by driving their own wands through their throats.
One group hit a pub in Argyleshire, that was just about to close. The thirty-seven people inside, all military from the nearby base, didn’t take kindly to having their bartender and old friend, killed like that. They showed their dissatisfaction through the old adage: “There is no problem so insurmountable that it cannot be overcome with a suitable application of violence.”
All told, in those few hours, more than four hundred men, women, and children were murdered, tortured to insanity or cursed and left to die. On the plus side, there were sixty dead terrorists and another twenty in chains, headed to France and a date with a bottle of Veritaserum.
Voldemort was horribly disappointed. He’d sent out one hundred and twenty six men, and only fourty-six had returned, and of those who had returned, fifteen were wounded.
Voldemort showed his displeasure at his minion’s abject failure, with his favorite curse. Two of the subject of his displeasure ended up transfigured in to logs and were, that night, burning merrily in the fireplace. He noted the lesson was not lost on any of his minions…especially his new recruits. The dead ones and most of those still living, had failed in their rather simple mission. They had failed to subdue muggles…MUGGLES! Dolohov and Gibbons were experienced Death Eaters. How had they failed? Crabbe and Goyle were idiots, so he could understand them, but Parkinson and Travers were actually rather intelligent, so, how - had - they - failed?
Voldemort couldn’t understand it. All the groups had failed except those led by Snape and Malfoy. They’d done as ordered. In fact, they’d brought back almost enough sacrifices to keep everybody there happy…and if not, well they could always take turns. Voldemort was smugly sure the captives wouldn’t mind ‘servicing’ his men…too much.
One new recruit was having more than a bit of difficulty with a small child who struggled, screamed, kicked, flailed and bit. After one particularly painful bite, Voldemort watched as the new terrorist, slapped the little girl. She couldn’t have been more than six. She fell back howling in pain.
“I’ll give ye sommat to wail about y’ stupid little slitch! He cast the Cruciatus on her.
“Leave her alone, you miserable son of a bitch!” A teenager yelled. Instantly the new Death Eater, outraged that someone…a mere muggle at that, would dare to insult his dear mother like that, turned his hateful face to hers, pointed this wand to the little girl and snarled savagely: “Avada Kedavra!” The little girl fell back her eyes wide with pain and shock. Her death was a mercy, compared to the fate that awaited the others. The teen screamed in horror at what he’d done, but too late. He turned his wand on her and cast the Cruciatus laughing in pleasure as she writhed on the parquet, screaming in agony.
Voldemort nodded in approval. After all, one must know how to deal with these filthy muggles, mustn’t one?
All around them other Death Eaters were doing the same, ‘tenderizing’ their victims for the big event. Some had already begun the rapine, the screams of pain, fear and torment from the twenty or so young women, teenagers, girls and a few boys, echoed from the walls as the captives were savaged.
Unfortunately several of the new recruits were too anxious and their victims died of over exposure to the agonizing curse. Voldemort shook his head in exasperation and muttered: “Good help is so hard to find these days…”
The recruit who’d killed the child now advanced on the Cruciated teenager on the floor. He kicked her onto her back and ripped open her skirt. Lifting his own robes, he prepared to mount her. Already at full mast he shoved roughly into her body. Too bad for him, she was made of sterner stuff than he. Fighting the tremors that threatened to immobilize her, she swung her fist as hard as he could, and drove a biro into his temple, killing him quickly. Seeing one of his own killed by a mere muggle, Voldemort surged to his feet. Instead of fainting in terror at his hideous face, she glared back at him, defiance in her eyes and that blood-covered pen in her fist! He didn’t think twice as he cast the curse that ended her life.
Around him, the new death eaters raped and tormented the children they’d kidnapped and when they were done, they either cast the Cruciatus on them until they had no minds left, or killed them outright.
Severus Snape was thoroughly enjoying the eight year old he’s taken for his own pleasure. The child screamed and struggled, but to him, that made her violation all the sweeter. Withdrawing from the ravaged girl's body, he flicked his wand and muttered: “Avada Kedavra!” and she was still. Snape didn’t believe in sharing.
He watched in morbid fascination as one who’d tortured a child to death now raped her cooling body. Around him, his fellows were staring in disgust, and a few had emptied their stomachs. Not even Fenrir had gone that far, and Fenrir was as psychotic as Bellatrix! He nodded in approval
Voldemort was as fascinated at the level of depravity the recruit showed. ~This one shoes promise! I’ll have to promote him!~
When the Edinburgh police were called to the park the following day, they recognized the marks on the black clad men’s forearms and contacted the Special Investigations office of MI-5. For the first time in living memory, they applauded the gang that had done this.
MI-5 contacted the Ministry of Magic. The call was routed to Arthur Weasley Director of the new Magical/Mundane Liaison Department. Arthur contacted Kingsley and arranged for pickup of those black robed corpses, then left the office and flooed to Gringotts, where he spoke with Dak Graswold, explained the situation and offered the goblins a free meal for the dragons…as soon as the dead men were identified, of course. Their faces would be featured in The Daily Prophet and per their special agreement, The Quibbler. He told the goblin leader, that anyone too prominent would have to be taken by the ministry in order to properly account for them, but they’d be placed in stasis, and after their trials, they’d be turned over to the goblins as dragon food. Their vaults would of course, be seized in accordance with the agreement made with Lord Gryffindor, though Graswold was thinking that since he wasn’t directly involved with their extermination, he would not claim those vaults.
Still, hoping the day might profit the goblins Graswold asked: “And any gold they might have?”
“Well, according to the report, they were most likely killed by a street gang. They’ve probably been robbed as well, but if you find any on them, it’s all yours.” Arthur made a note to himself to plant at least ten Galleons on each of the black-garbed fools for the goblins to ‘find’. It never hurt to foster interspecies cooperation now, did it?
Inwardly, Graswold snarled. The deadly human who masqueraded as a meek simpleton, had specified ‘on them’. He swore in frustration: //Bloody entrails, rotted meat!\\
At breakfast, the Jedi students all read the Prophet with expressions of disgust.
Harry decided to control the rumour mill before it really got started. He stood, drawing their attention.
“All right people! Listen up!” He began.
“You’ve all seen the paper. Like I told you before, it is of concern to us, but for the time being, it doesn’t affect us at all. And before you ask, I hate the fact that we are here, safe and secure, learning to fight these bastards, rather than going out and actually fighting them, but that’s the way it’s gotta be. If you go out before you’re ready, you end up dead…and maybe take your friends with you. You’ve all seen the bad side, four hundred and thirteen people dead. The good side is there were sixty Death Eaters killed, and another twenty captured…and no casualties in the Auror forces. Now, those people paid a hideous price for the rest of us, but that price bought us eighty terrorists that would never kill again. It isn’t fair, it isn’t right and it most certainly isn’t equal, but there it is.”
He paused and took a deep breath before going on.
“It sucks, but there it is. Now, our job is to get trained and then when the time is right, we take out the rest of those bastards. Don’t worry, people. It won’t be much longer. For today, lightsaber practice, and this evening, we run the grinder…blindfolded.” He abruptly turned and left the room.
“Hermione?” Her mother asked, seeing Hermione rising to go after her lover.
“We might not be available for the rest of the day, mum. I can feel he’s depressed as hell, and I can only see one way to make him feel better.”
Judith gave a sad smile, knowing what her daughter meant.
To Hermione’s surprise, Harry wasn’t in the mood to make love. Instead she found him in his office, looking at the photo album Hagrid had given him five years before.
Before she could speak, he said bitterly: “My parents and the Longbottoms, were the last victims of Voldemort’s first rise. Cedric was the first victim of this one. I can’t let him get a foothold, but I have to wait until you lot are trained!” He looked up at her with eyes brimming with tears. “Damn it Hermione!” He cried. “I know you are all putting as much effort into the training, as you can…but I want…It…Ah! Goddamnit!” His face scrunched tightly and his hands clenched into angry fists.
Hermione pulled him forward by the shoulders, and then slid onto the couch dropping one leg behind him and one on the floor. She cuddled him close and began to speak.
“Harry, this is a war. You know that.”
At Harry’s quiet nod, she went on. “Daddy told me once, that there were three rules in war. Rule one: Ugly things happen in war. Rule two: People die in war, and rule three: You can’t change the first two rules. Look at the Jedi, Harry. Not even they could change those rules. I’m certain that they fought back when Vader and the Empire hunted them down, but they still lost. Obi Wan said they were there for over a thousand generations, how many of them do you think there were? A thousand, ten thousand, fifty? They covered the entire galaxy, and yet, at the end, there was only Luke…and maybe Leia.
This is the worst kind of war, my love. It’s a guerrilla war, where the enemy hides as ‘respectable’ civilians, and when he’s ready, he puts on his black robes and his white mask. We can’t know who he is during the day, and by the time he comes out, it’s too late. He’s already begun his murders. We can’t stop that, not just yet, and like you said it would be a waste to try. What we’re doing, is training to prevent this war from getting worse. Yes, four hundred people are dead. But really, Harry, four hundred or more people die every single day in Britain. It’s not that they died, it’s just how they died. Those four hundred people are gone, a tragedy for their families, yes, but more importantly, in the overall context of the war, how many Death Eaters did they take with them. How many people will live because some terrorists hiding behind a white mask won’t be killing them? That’s the equation. Not how many people died today, but how many future lives will go on because those murderers were captured or killed. Unless we take him out…permanently, you told us that Voldemort has the potential to kill three and a half billion people, Harry. Until we are properly prepared, we cannot go out and join a battle we cannot win. Our job just now is to ignore the smaller battles, and unfortunately, their victims as well, and concentrate on preventing the larger ones. As you said: “It sucks, but there it is.”
Harry sighed in regret and leaned into his beloved’s embrace.
They stayed like that until Dobby appeared and said: “We is ready for you.”
“I’ll be right there, Dobby.” Harry stood and held out a hand for Hermione, who took it and rose.
In the training room, Harry walked onto the stage and began his instruction.
“Today we will learn Soresu attack and defend pairs, fifty and fifty one. Now, fifty, attack: Assume the basic position. Left foot forward right foot back. And hold your lightsabers out, eye height, blades to the left, at a little below parallel to the floor, with both hands braced front. A little higher…yes…that’s right. OK. You’ll find that this is an unbalanced position and an opponent could use that to his advantage, but Soresu fifty is a transitional position only. It is a refined version of Shii-Cho sixty-seven. It’s transitional because you will use it to move from an upper block to a sweeping stroke across the opponent’s midsection, and then to the beginning of your next move, which could be either strike or defend. This one is deadly to your enemy, when done correctly, but can be equally deadly to you, if you screw it up…so don’t screw it up!”
The Jedi all laughed nervously.
“Now. Watch closely as I demonstrate.”
Harry held his weapon so the weapon was held at eye height, with the blade at about ten degrees below parallel to the floor, and aimed to his left, his elbows nearly in front of him, then moved in a slow, but nevertheless elegant turning, sweeping motion, stepping backwards with his left foot, then shifting his right foot forward and to the left, while at the same time, bringing the lightsaber over the top of his head, into a sixty or so degree slash from upper right to lower left, and ending up standing to the side, with his weapon held at full stretch in his left hand, his right hand stretched out to the other side for balance, and his feet crossed, but moving to position for a spin. Hermione thought he looked like a Matador with his cape.
The class cheered as he finished the slow motion move, and he blushed.
“Thank you! Thank you all…” He joked. “And for my next trick…” Laughter followed.
Slowly step-by-step, he guided his students around the potentially deadly move until he was certain none of them would kill themselves with it. Then he had them do it left to right.
That evening, he contacted Amelia.
“May we come through?”
“Certainly, but be prepared to answer some questions.”
“Good enough.” Harry replied and threw another pinch of Floo powder into the fire.
Spinning to a halt, he stepped into Amelia’s home. Hermione came along behind him.
Harry felt the wands aiming at him before he saw them. Two were behind a barrier, that looked to be a decorative half-wall. He nodded in approval.
“Tell me something only I would know.”
“OK, I’m ten inches, uncut.”
“Harry!” Hermione blushed furiously and swatted him.
“Oh, sorry.” That’s something only Hermione is supposed to know.” He grinned.
“Harry!” Hermione hit him again, her face as red as a beet.
Harry chuckled as Amelia also blushed from the ‘information overload’. Then, he said: On the seventh of July at about one fourty AM, I sliced off seven heads in a circle, including that of Bellatrix Lestrange.”
“Good enough.” She replied, still a bit unsettled by Harry’s explicit comment.
“I’m here to see if there’s anything I can do to help. Explain to Her Majesty, I mean.”
“No. Mister Major isn’t really happy, but he’s got other things to worry about just now. Mostly the EU difficulties and the upcoming election…which doesn’t look good for the conservative party. Blair’s new labour party is a shoe-in to win that one, and then we’ll have some new contacts to make. Her Majesty hasn’t’ contacted me as of yet, but I expect she will soon. What can I tell her?”
“As much as I hate to say it, nothing has changed. Our completion date is still June the twenty second. If I could move it up, I would, but Voldemort is rather stubborn about things like that. He usually attacks on or near the solstice, to commemorate ‘the darkness conquering the light’, and so, I’ve planned for everything to come together on that date.”
“Alright.” Amelia sighed. “I understand. War is a nasty business and unfortunately this is a war. The Aurors are celebrating their easy victory over the Deez but I don’t want them to get complacent.”
“They won’t. A week ago, Mad-Eye asked me to provide some ‘training aids’ to help them regain their ‘constant vigilance’ and those training aide are almost ready. You’ll have them in a couple more days. You’re gonna have a bunch of hacked off Aurors, but they’re going to learn to be careful. I promise you that!”
“Good enough. I’ll see you in a couple days, I suppose.”
“Hopefully she’ll understand. She is the queen, after all.”
Just before Harry turned in, Dobby and Winky escorted Tonks and Mackenzie to their respective quarters to sleep. And after five days immersion in the force, they would.
Harry had just finished showering when Sparkey and Gemma presented themselves to their master.
“How’d it go?”
Sparkey took the initiative. “They has both created strong and reliable focusing stones. Both the stones is in the ovens now for cooling.
“They have the dual layer stones?”
“Oh yes. They has both followed the instructions perfectly. Both stones is encased in a shell of diamond!”
“Good. Can you tell me what kind of stones they have created, or is it a secret?”
“Oh, no. They has not asked us to keep secrets from you, master Harry! Mister Mack’s stone is of a dark dark dark amethyst. He says he likes the colour purple.”
Hermione giggled and Harry knew he’d have to ask her about that particular character trait.
Now Sparky gulped. “Sparky is not sure what kind of stone it is, but it is a most obnoxious pink!”
Now Harry and Hermione both fell over laughing! Both Sparky and Gemma had seen the odd pink stone and nether understood what was so funny.
“O…OK.” Harry chuckled, trying to get hold of himself. “You two go get some sleep, and I mean sleep yourselves out! I won’t have you harming yourselves because you’re all worn out, understand?”
Both elves assured him they did and popped away, leaving the giggling humans behind.
That night, Harry and Hermione made love, gently, but filled with passion. They were both deeply troubled by the number of dead, and they were doing their best to reaffirm their lives.
Around the castle, other couples and groups did the same.
In little Hangleton, Voldemort found that his thundering headache did not go away this time. He knew what those bloody teenagers were doing, but when they’d succumbed to exhaustion, the agony remained. It was as if the passion they’d expressed, somehow lingered on…and on…and on. He reached into his bedside draw, and pulled out the little brown bottle which was again becoming his very favorite thing in the world, and tipped it to his mouth, draining the contents of it’s dispenser into his mouth, and following it up with a heavy swig of firewhiskey. Within minutes he was nodding, and in a half-hour was sleeping soundly.
On the twenty third, Mack and Tonks returned to the world of the living. Due to his non-magical character, Mack took a little longer to recover. Nevertheless, they both joined the students for breakfast that morning. Cheers and greetings from all and sundry, surrounded them. The students knew the new lightsabers wouldn’t be completed for a day or three more, but the stones had been forged and that was the important part!
Harry decided to tease them a little.
“Mack” He began, delving into the information Hermione had given him. “What’re you gonna call your lightsaber…Shy Violet?” Hermione had explained that character from 'Rainbow Brite' had been her favorite because the little purple haired girl was a bookworm…just like her. From then on, purple had been Mack’s favorite colour.
“Hermione!” Mack growled, trying to fight off the embarrassed smile.
“Harry!” Hermione joined in, glaring at her lover. Harry, for his part, pretended innocence.
Tonks brayed her annoying laugh until Harry turned his eye to her. “And what about you, Tonks.” Harry grinned. “I understand you’ve developed a new color for lightsaber blades. Hot pink. What kind of crystal did you use…love stone?”
“It’s tourmaline, you dolt!”
Laughs filled the room.
After lightsaber practice, Harry had taken them into his office, showed them the papers, and explained the events of the twentieth. Both adults were grim. The news only underscored the deadly nature of Voldemort’s second rise. Like most of the students, Tonks wanted to go out that night and slice and dice some Deez. Mackenzie was a seasoned warrior, and like his daughter, saw reason where others only saw anger.
Just as the other students did, they readied themselves to focus even more on perfecting their combat skills. Both knew they would most likely be involved in the face off with Voldemort’s crowd.
The training that afternoon consisted of more of the same. Harry had insisted they continue to run the nature trail and the Grinder, blindfolded, and though there were a few more injuries, the students did so without complaint. He had them swimming, again blindfolded, to get them used to a less forgiving environment, and practicing hand-to-hand combat, also without the benefit of sight. Today was a swimming day. Each of them dove in, blindfolded, with a fifty-pound weight stuck to their back and swam the three miles he required. Harry, being the kind of leader he was, never left the pool until every one of his people had, and he was carrying more weight than any.
Harry watched their capabilities grow every day and he couldn’t be prouder.
After dinner, in their bedroom, Tonks and Remus kissed gently and sighed. Tonight would be one of ‘those’ nights. The full moon was upon them, and as they had done since the beginning, Remus would lock himself away in a cage in the dungeon and Tonks would lock herself away in their shared quarters until he returned. Hermione had frequently offered the comfort of their companionship during these times, but Tonks felt she should know at least some of what her lover felt, and always refused.
Voldemort awoke on the twenty-third, knowing that if he were to regain the level of respect he once held in the wizarding world, he’d have to strike a crippling blow against both the ministry and that miserable muggle-loving bastard, Dumbledore! His ‘victory’ on the twentieth was a laugh. A pale shadow of his former glory! A few muggles tortured, raped and eradicated, was nothing…nothing! He had to make a public showing…an unforgettable demonstration of his power! He had to ensure the sheep fully understood the meaning of fear.
He would teach them what it meant to defy Lord Voldemort!
Their holiday was over, and they would soon bow down before their new king!
23 Mar 22:00:
Tonks sighed in pain and sorrow, as she locked the steel cage where her beloved stayed on the full moon. The Wolfsbane kept him peaceful, but he’d gotten paranoid due to both the actions of the madman who’d infected him, and the laws dealing with werewolf contamination that Dumbledore and his cronies had authored. Madam Bones was working hard to eliminate as much of the stupidity as she could, but really, that was a job of years, not months.
The pink haired Auror wept as she kissed her lover and then, at his urging, left the room, locking the door behind her, and casting the asked-for, soundproofing charms.
Remus had never liked her seeing him so vulnerable.
She fled up the stairs, to their flat.
Dobby popped in and handed the goblet of the foul tasting potion to the werewolf, ensuring he drank it, before refilling it with water. Remus gratefully drank the water, washing the nasty taste from his mouth.
“Dobby will be back tomorrow morning to release you, Remus Lupin.”
“Thank you, Dobby.”
Before leaving, Dobby filled the steel bowl on the floor with cool water, and snapped his fingers to activate the security wards. Only when he was sure everything was as it should be, did he pop away.
Even with the Wolfsbane, potion the transformation was horribly painful. Remus cried out in agony as his bones and muscles shifted and stretched, to become a mutation of man and wolf. It never got easier. Each time it happened, he remembered the first time he’d changed. His father had locked him into the garden shed, to prevent his escape. His mother had wept as she heard her precious little boy scream in fear and agony, as he became something that shouldn’t exist…all because of a demented psychopath, who reveled in hurting people!
Two floors above, Tonks wept into her pillow knowing that her beloved was in such agony, and knowing that there was nothing she could do. She wanted so very much to go down to the dungeon and comfort her man, but she also knew that should he bite her, even accidentally, he’d never forgive himself. Metamorph, or no, she was a human being and so, had no protection from the werewolf’s bite. And so, two loving people, each apart from their loves…died a little more.
At six, the next morning, Harry descended the stairs to the dungeon to release his friend. Dobby and Tonks were waiting for him…Tonks, somewhat less than patiently. As soon as he’d stepped from the stone risers, Dobby snapped his fingers, dispelling the wards.
Inside the dungeon, Remus was still in wolf form. He growled a warning to them, but seeing as the bars were undisturbed, Harry ignored it. Moments later, as dawn broke outside, the transformation began to reverse itself and Remus painfully shifted from dangerous animal to gentle human, once again. Once human again, he collapsed.
Harry unlocked the cage and floated his teacher and friend out and into the arms of his beloved.
Tonks wept as she brushed her hands across his scarred and worn face.
“Come on, Tonks let’s get him somewhere that’s not so depressing.”
Like he’d done so many times before, Harry carried him up the stairs and to the infirmary. Neither Merrifield nor Jacoby had a problem with Remus’ affliction. They treated it as just that. He was carefully cleaned, and healing salves were rubbed into torn and stretched muscles. Iron-rich broth with the necessary nutrients was placed where he could drink it and hot tea was made ready.
Remus woke slowly, the heady scent of the beef bullion breaking through his exhaustion. His eyes fluttered open to find Tonks, Hermione and Harry smiling at him.
“Welcome back to the world of the living.” Harry greeted him. “Your orders are to drink this, take the necessary potions and sleep until you wake up. When you do, you’ll find your lightsaber in my office. ”
Snapping off a weak salute, Remus whispered: “Aye Aye, sir!” before turning his attention to his pink haired lover.
Harry and Hermione eased their way out of the infirmary and into the hallway.
Lavender was there waiting. “How is he?” She asked.
“About as well as usual.” Harry returned.
Lavender began: “I wish we could do more…” then forced her self to turn to another topic.
“Umm…Harry…” She was uncertain how to broach this particular subject. “I’m wondering something.”
“I’m wondering if…well, you know the Longbottoms are in my care. I’m not their healer, but I generally take care of them.
“Well, I’m wondering…erm…I’m wondering if theirconditionisn’tcausedbyacurseIknowit’scausedbyacursebutmaybenotthecurseeveryone thinks.”
Harry stared for a second at the jumbled mess that just came from Lavender’s lips.
“Erm…you wanna try that again? Maybe this time in English?”
“Harry!” Hermione swatted him, but he could tell she was as confused as he was.
Lavender blushed. “I said, what if their condition wasn’t caused by the Cruciatus curse at all?”
Harry was instantly focused on the statuesque blond. “What do you mean?”
“The Cruciatus can cause insanity, but only in rare cases. Usually the victim of overexposure dies of cardiac arrest, or stroke. In all the recorded cases of overexposure where the victim survived, their minds sort of…retreated inside themselves. They hid in a self created…erm…you know what a panic room is, don’t you?”
When both Harry and Hermione nodded, she went on.
“Well, they retreat into that panic room but they eventfully recover with their minds intact…or mostly so…oh, I’m not doing this right!”
“You’re doing fine. Tell me more.”
“There’s always some damage, but it’s usually a full or nearly full recovery. I’ve been observing them for…well, since you brought them here, and some of their behavior is off. Mrs. Longbottom, is more aware than she should be. If she was insane…well, there’s no telling how that insanity would affect her, but so far she’s shown none of the traits of any form of insanity I’ve studied. I know I’m not an expert, but…” Lavender blushed.
Harry nodded for her to continue.
“What if her condition is the result of a curse, but not the curse everyone thinks?”
“You mean what if someone had cursed her to affect insanity?”
“It’s a possibility.” The brunette replied. “In the magical world, nearly anything is possible.”
“All right. We have a hypothesis. Now, how do we test it?”
“Err…I was thinking you could…err…use the force.”
Harry face-palmed. “Oh, God!” He muttered, shaking his head. Then: “Hermione, would you ask Mack to start the training without me?”
“Sure.” She replied, kissed his cheek and headed off.
Turning to Lavender, he gestured toward the private ward where the Longbottoms lived.
In the corner the stasis tank where Sybill Trelawney slept, stood, tall, massive and damning his inability to free her from her Dumbledore-imposed shackles.
Seating himself at Frank Longbottom’s bedside, Harry cleared his mind. Placing a hand on the Auror’s forehead, he reached out with the force. He cried out as he encountered a field of overwhelming pain. Everywhere he could ‘feel’, the agony of the Cruciatus was present. The torture was all around him, sharp and unrelenting, striking his every nerve a million times over. Still, Harry had been under the Cruciatus from Voldemort himself and while this was sheer torment, it wasn’t nearly as intense as the dark lord’s, so he wrapped the force around him, forced himself to ignore the pseudo-pain and pushed further into the stricken Auror’s mind.
There, he received a massive shock. The pain of the Cruciatus was gone. Inside the field of pain, the world was peaceful and quiet. And in that bucolic setting, Harry found another shock.
In the man’s mindscape, Harry found a younger version of Frank Longbottom, along with his wife and baby son, Neville.
“Hello, Frank!” He called. Immediately Frank turned, his wand outstretched. Alice cuddled little Neville to her breast, and shielded him behind Frank, her wand, also outthrust.
“Who are you?” Frank demanded. “Why do you look like James? He’s dead! And why are you dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi?”
Lavender was correct. Frank Longbottom was not nearly as insane as everyone thought. He was merely trapped in his mind.
“Well, let’s take the questions in order. I’m not James. Like you said, my parents are dead. I’m Harry.”
“Tripe! Harry is a baby! Neville’s age!”
“It’s been fifteen years, Frank. I’m sixteen now, nearly seventeen. The same age as Neville. Today is the twenty fourth of March, nineteen ninety-seven. You’ve been in a spell induced coma for more than fifteen years!”
“How…how’s that possible?”
“I have my suspicions, and all of them start and end with the name Albus Dumbledore.”
“Dumbledore? You’re crazy! He’s the greatest wizard alive!”
“Sure he is.” Harry snarked. “Just ask him. He’ll deny the charge so thoroughly you’ll be absolutely convinced it’s true. The problem is, he’s not as bright and shiny as you might think.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald. He’s the only one Voldemort is afraid of.”
“Not any more and I really don’t know about Grindelwald. All we have there, is Dumbledore’s word and the support of some people who mysteriously died shortly thereafter. Now, Voldemort has someone to fear that’s far more dangerous to him than Dumbledore ever was, or ever could be.”
“Me. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…And the Dark Lord shall mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the dark lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”
“The prophesy!” Alice hissed.
“It could have applied to either Neville or myself, which is why we all went into hiding. And it’s all so much worthless crap.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It isn’t real. Dumbledore made it up. He needed a way to defeat Voldemort without risking his own arse, so he made up a prophesy, Imperiused Trelawney into spewing it in their interview just when he knew Voldemort’s spy…”
“Sirius Black, that bloody traitor!”
“WRONG!” Harry snarled. Both Longbottoms stared at him in shock. Little Neville whimpered in fear. Alice cuddled him closely and murmured soft nothings to him.
Harry took a calming breath…and then a few more. “Sirius was set up…by Mister Twinkles. The spies in the Order were Snivellus Snape, and Peter Pettigrew, who isn’t quite as dead as I’d like. Sirius thought it would be a great idea to prank the dark lord, so he and my father decided to switch secret keepers without telling anyone. Unfortunately neither of them knew that Dumbledore had orchestrated the whole thing. Though I cannot prove this, all my research supports it. Albus Dumbledore needed someone to eliminate his last mistake, Tom Riddle….you know him better as Voldemort, but he also wanted that person out of the way afterwards, so he cast the Imperius or perhaps a compulsion, I happen to know he loves using those, on Sirius and had him convince my dad to switch secret keepers.
Like I said, I can’t prove this, because two of the four people involved, are dead, one is working for the enemy, and the other is as bad as Voldemort himself. When my parents were killed, he placed me with Petunia Dursley, my mother’s sister, and her loverly husband, Vernon-the-bloody-walrus, who proceeded to beat me bloody every other day for the next ten years. He had Hagrid of all people ‘rescue’ me from durance vile, and espouse the virtues of Gryffindor while at the same time, condemning the Slytherins. In short, he wanted me to be a martyr, so he disregarded my parent’s wills, ministry law and the sound advise of his closest advisor, Minerva McGonagall and left me on a doorstep at two in the morning…like a bottle of milk. Now since the only people who could have prevented that would be my godparents, meaning Alice and Sirius, he used his influence to have Sirius carted off to Azkaban without so much as a hearing, leaked your location to the nastiest of the Deez, Bella and the Psycho brothers, and told your mum to let you know it was safe to come out of hiding. The day after Sirius went to Azkaban, you were attacked and held under Cruciatus for a long time. Neville got it too, but not as bad. When the Aurors caught the Lestranges and Crouch, Dumbledore bound Neville’s magic and had you sent to St. Mungo’s long-term care ward. ‘Victims of overexposure to Cruciatus’.” Harry formed air-quotes with his fingers. “You’ve been there for the past fifteen years.”
“But that’s not how the Cruciatus works.” Frank objected.
“So I understand. Still, it was the supreme muckety muck who put that down as the cause, and since he was the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, nobody bothered to question him.
Now, eight months ago, due to a story that’s even more unbelievable, I was enabled and decided I wasn’t going to be Dumbledore’s sacrificial lamb any more. I don’t like mint jelly. Instead, I pulled some nasty shit and got him fired from most of his posts, had the goblins audit his accounts and overthrew the government. Then I started my Jedi training camp in order to deal with the Deez while I handled Ol’ snake-breath.
A couple months ago, I figured you two would be vulnerable to anything either Voldemort or Dumbledore might want to do, so I convinced Augusta to transfer you from the long term ward, to my training facility. Today, a healer’s apprentice came to me with a suggestion. She’d been watching you carefully, and she felt it was possible that you weren’t quite as insane as everybody thought you were. Well she convinced me and I decided to test her theory and…well…here I am.
“What abut Neville?”
“He’s doing well. I discovered the bindings on his magic last July, and suggested Augusta have them removed. She did, and Neville promptly fried the core of his second wand. Unfortunately yours was broken during the battle at the ministry. Now he’s one of my senior lieutenants.
“Battle? Ministry? Lieutenants?”
“When you’ve recovered, we’ll tell you all about it. In the meantime, what do we do, now that we know you’re not really insane?”
“Can we see him?”
Harry was about to agree when a nasty thought popped into his head.
“No. I don’t think that’ a good idea.”
“Why not?” Alice cried out. “If he hasn’t seen us in fifteen years, he has the right to…”
“Mrs. Longbottom, please understand. I’m not doing this to hurt you, but to help Neville. If I let him know you’re mentally whole and in…here…” Harry threw out his hands encompassing the mindscape. “…he’ll be…divided. We are training to fight the Deez. I have to have Neville completely focused on that goal. If his attention is on you, instead of on his bladework, he’ll go into battle not fully prepared. If he goes into battle unprepared…he dies…and maybe takes some of our friends with him.”
“This.” Harry touched his lightsaber.
“Here, I don’t know. In the real world, yes. And yes, Neville carries one as well. It looks just like mine but his blade is Aqua.”
“How can Neville know I love Aqua.” Alice murmured.
“More than likely from all the pictures around Longbottom manor. Apparently he’s honoring you. Please be patient just a few more months. That’s all I ask.”
Both senior Longbottoms looked like they wanted to argue, but Harry held up one hand. “Please. Give me three months. That’s all I need. After that I’ll move every mountain I can find to return you to the outside world. Please.”
Both of them grudgingly accepted his compromise. And thanking them, he withdrew his probe, fighting through the Cruciatus Shield to open his eyes and find himself staring at Augusta Longbottom.
“Well?” was all she said. Behind her, stood Lavender, Merrifield and Jacoby.
“There’s a shield that appears to have been made of the Cruciatus curse. I believe Dumbledore placed that shield to prevent anyone from entering either of their minds. I was able to force my way through because I’ve been under Cruciatus before. Frank is in there, and his mind is whole. He’s created a mindscape where he and Alice are living with baby Neville. Speaking of…where is Neville?”
“Umm, he still doesn’t know, Harry.” Lavender answered. “Do you want me to…”
“NO!” Harry snapped. Lavender nearly jumped at his vehemence.
“Sorry Lav.” He apologized. “Madam Longbottom I need to say this formally. I Harry James Potter, Lord Gryffindor, wish for Neville Franklin Longbottom to remain completely ignorant of this development until after Voldemort has been destroyed.”
Augusta wasn’t happy but knowing Harry, as her liege, had the right to order this, she inclined her head. “Might I ask why?”
“Because I don’t want him to die.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Augusta, If Neville is to survive this, he must…absolutely must, focus entirely on his training. If he allows his concentration to wander in combat, even a little, he’ll die. Tell me, can he focus on his training, knowing that his parents…parents he’s not known in fifteen years, are mentally able to talk to him?
“I believe so.”
“That’s not good enough.” Harry shook his head sadly. “I have to know for certain, I’m not sending him out to die, because if he loses concentration at the wrong moment, he will.”
“What gives you the right to make that choice?” She asked heatedly, and Harry thought hard for a moment, before something Mack had once told him came to mind. ~Harry, sometimes a commanding officer must make painful choices if his men are to survive.~
“I’m his commanding officer. I have to know I can depend on him in a deadly situation. If you insist, really insist, I’ll tell him…bring him here, but if that happens, he’ll not be going on the mission. I won’t take that chance with someone’s life. Only those I am absolutely positive will perform exactly as expected, will go.”
“You’ve placed me in a very difficult position, Lord Gryffindor.” Harry sighed. Her using his title told him how angry she was.
“Augusta, please understand. I’m not asking forever. All I’m asking you is three months. After fifteen years, is three months all that much? In three months this will all be over.” Harry began using his hands to emphasize his words. “In three months Voldemort will be dead or we both will. If I survive, I’ve promised the people in Frank’s mindscape that I will move any mountains I can find to reunite them with their son, If not, my estate will, but until then, for Neville’s sake, I must have your silence.”
As Harry had, Augusta thought hard before nodding her head once.
Knowing he’d placed his friendship with House Longbottom in serious jeopardy, he nodded back, then turned to the other three. “Healers, I’m afraid I have to call upon your oaths of silence…for the next three months. Lavender, you will come see me for two hours every evening after supper, to practice using the force in order to force your way through that shield and then communicate with Neville’s parents. Once you’ve established that communication and can continue it on your own, you will report to the healer of record…that would be…?”
“That would be me, Lord Gryffindor.” Merrifield answered, somewhat icily.
Harry sighed. “I apologize for the ruffled feathers, but this is too important. Security is paramount here…even more than the estate itself. Please understand, this has to remain secret.”
The three healers gave their reluctant nods and Harry knew he’d angered the very last people he wanted to anger…other than Hermione and her dad, but this way, Neville would remain focused…and maybe he’d survive.
On the thirtieth, Voldemort gathered his minions.
“My servants!” Voldemort crowed. Our last strike was not enough! The sheep are laughing at me! This is intolerable! I wish to show the sheep who their new shepherd will be. On the solstice, I want to strike at two separate targets. The muggle-loving fools, would expect one, perhaps, but not two simultaneous attacks! Let them post their foreign guards where they will. It will make my victory all the sweeter. For I intend to attack both Diagon alley and Hogsmeade at the same time. We shall raze both targets to the ground. Let no one remain alive, let no building remain intact! Tear up the streets! I want both targets to be places of utter devastation!
When the sheep discover their hero, the great and wonderful Albus Dumbledore cannot protect a town, barely two miles from his school, they will turn on him. When they discover the minister, may she rot in the deepest circle of hell, cannot protect Diagon Alley, they will bring me her head on a platter! I want them both to fall!”
Cheers and salutes rang out from Voldemort’s sycophants hailing him as the greatest wizard on earth.
A/N: George Buchanan (February 1506 – 28 September 1582) was a Scottish historian and humanist scholar. He was part of the Monarchomach movement.
Death Eaters are sick, psychotic terrorists. Given the description of Fenrir Greyback, I can see a few of them being this disgusting.
Fighting on two fronts is one military mistake that has caused more nations to fall than any other. Unfortunately, Voldemort didn’t remember this. With the recent losses from his moderately successful ‘recruitment day’, he will be undermanned
Shy Violet is the purple-loving bookworm of the 1980's cartoon ‘Rainbow Brite’. It stands to reason Hermione would like her. On a side note: Samuel L. Jackson insists on a part of his wardrobe in every movie being purple, as he likes the color. In Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, his lightsaber blade was purple.
One of the training regimes we went through as SEAL-pups, was swimming three miles in the Pacific ocean with fifty pounds of sand tied to or backs. I did this both in BUD-S and again several years later in Rescue Swimmer School in Pensacola.
The Longbottoms: I stole this idea from the excellent writer Radaslab, and modified it a little.
You may disagree with my reasoning for not telling Neville but I’ve seen what happens when one loses concentration in a firefight.