No cliffie this time, I promise.
A/N2: in which Harry is rescued from the Dementors, which causes him great embarrassment and more than a little anger. Harry gets a quick lesson concerning the Patronus Charm and discovers something very important about casting that particular charm. Voldemort reacts rather badly to the news of Harry's interaction with the Dementors, and Chiun has a Parent/Teacher conference with Professor Flitwick. Hermione is tasked with being a tour guide, and is treated with seeing Harry train. Harry and Chiun take a field trip to explain to the Dementors just how big a mistake they made in attacking Sinanju and the consequences of ever making that mistake again. Hermione gets an interesting offer and Harry is handed his Dark Lord Hunting License and sets out for adventure.
A/N3: Boy, some people really don't like cliffhangers.
Harry Potter and the Sun Source
"You don't really believe the Master thinks of you as his son do you?" Harry recognized Ho-Sook's voice from his childhood in Sinanju. "You are just a hobby round eye, soon he will tire of you and send you back to where he found you!"
"No," Harry whispered shaking his head, tears streaming, and freezing on his cheeks. "No, my father loves me, he has trained me. I've had my night of the salt, I am Sinanju."
"You're a foreigner round eye." the little girl's voice rang out. "You aren't Sinanju, you aren't even Korean, you're nothing. No, worse, you're just a freak the Master is playing with until you start to bore him."
Harry sank to his knees, his heart racing and his breathing completely out of control. His shivering was costing him the control of his body. He fell forward, face first into the snow and lay there fighting to breathe.
He felt a hand grab onto his hair and pull his face from the snow, pulling his head back, and there was... something in front of his face, but all Harry could see was the disapproving faces of the people of Sinanju.
Minerva turned to find Cho Chang running up to her. The transfiguration instructor wondered what might have gotten the Head Girl so excited. "Calm yourself Miss Chang. What is the problem?"
"Dementors!" the girl gasped, out of breath from her run. "Dementors by the Greenhouses. A class of second years is trapped there with Professor Sprout!"
Dementors on the grounds of Hogwarts? Minerva put her left hand to her breast. Of all times for Albus to be in London for one of his political meetings. "Miss Chang, get all the students you can into the castle. I can't impose lockdown until they are all inside."
The Head Girl nodded and rushed out to perform her duties. Minerva pressed her wand against the Hogwarts Crest next to the door of her office. "All Staff," she said clearly. "Danger to the students. Meet me in the Entry Hall."
The Horde was suddenly scattered when... something moved through them.
The First had been about to consume the essence of the One, when without warning the horde was thrown about as if they were caught in one of the savage storms of their former island home. Once stability returned to the horde, the One was gone.
Utterly gone. The flavor of his essence had seemingly vanished from their presence. This was... perplexing. Still, their hunger burned. The horde milled about for several minutes before a decision was made. The magical aspects of pain were beginning to make themselves known to the horde, but not in any way that would force retreat. Still, before the horde could fight their way through the aspects to begin their hunt for the One anew, they would need to feed. A closer, easier meal presented itself. As one, the nine demons turned and began their stalking approach toward the knot of fifteen isolated children and a single adult in silence, the terror their aura inspired stealing way the voices of their soon to be victims.
These were not the One they were to seek out, somehow that One had escaped them when they had him in their midst, but these whimpering children would feed the Horde nicely, once sated the hunt for the One would begin anew. The nine paused, savoring the flavor of the terror that radiated from the children.
There was a sensation of motion. A faint sensation, almost imperceptible. Harry's mind began to clear, the screams of terror and accusations of not being good enough started to fade.
He was being carried Harry realized. He opened his eyes and saw the snow covered ground moving under him at a rapid clip. A flash of red fabric momentarily appeared in his line of vision, Harry associated that particular hue of red with his father's preferred traveling robes.
"Father?" he whispered.
Harry was gently lowered to the ground, then a pair of sharp blows across his cheeks brought him to the barest beginnings of focus.
"My Son," Chiun of Sinanju said quietly, "Center your mind."
"Father?" Harry asked, his mind withdrawing further from the fear.
"You are no longer dreaming while awake My Son. You need to focus, you need to regain your self control."
Harry concentrated and found his body to be utterly out of synch with the world. That hadn't happened since he had learned to walk. First he focused on his breathing pulling in the back into his normal rhythm.
A flash of silver accompanied the shouted incantation, but the sum of Harry's concentration was focused on regaining control of his body.
Filius Flitwick scrambled to Harry's side, while he stared opened mouthed at the old man. "Oh... my. You are Chiun of Sinanju?"
"I am," Harry's father answered, while watching his son's recovery.
"Was he kissed?"
Harry's father seemed confused by the smaller man's question until Harry suddenly sat up.
"What happened to me Professor?" Harry asked, shaking his head to clear it of the images that still echoed in his mind.
"Dementors are on the grounds," Flitwick spat as if the mere name was simply too vile to have within his mouth. "Horrible things. Demonic emotivores. They thrive on fear, but they feed on happiness and will consume your soul through mouth to mouth contact if allowed, leaving a mindless still living husk. There is an entire second year Herbology class trapped in one of the green houses."
"I have never heard of such things," Chiun said quietly. "This knowledge must be added to the Book of Sinanju. What are their weaknesses?"
Flitwick glanced over at the others of the staff that had gathered to attempt to drive off the dementors. Dumbledore hadn't responded, of all the times for him to be away from the school, they needed his power. "They are immortal and unkillable. They are vulnerable to the Patronus charm, but that only drives them off, it doesn't do them any permanent harm."
"They are solid enough," Chiun mused. "Perhaps they cannot be killed, but they can certainly be damaged..."
"Father, no." Harry said rising to his feet in a fluid motion. "I'm the one who has brought shame to Sinanju by being taken out so easily. It is my responsibility to face them."
"My son," Chiun said gently, "you are not yet at the stage of your training that will allow you to function under a state of nirvana. The demons had no idea I was there when I retrieved you. I cannot see them, but they stand out against the world."
Harry's expression hardened, Chiun could not protect him, not now. The shame he felt would not allow it. "Professor, you said that they thrive on fear and feed on happiness. How do they feel about anger?"
"What? Mr. Potter, no one can get angry in the presence of a dementor, the very presence of the creatures cause blood chilling fear."
"Father, I can do this." Harry said pleadingly.
"I think perhaps you need to do this my son, or you will forever doubt your skills," the Master of Sinanju thought for a moment. "Do you know this preposterous charm?"
"No Father I don't, but I can learn it," He turned to the Charms Professor. "I'm going after the dementors, you and the staff circle around and get the kids out of there. But before I can do that, teach me the patronus."
The First noticed something the rest of the Horde had not. A new emotion had been introduced to the mix, souring the flavor of the children's terror. This wasn't the terror that sustained the Horde, nor was it that tantalizing happiness that each of the Horde craved, and consumed greedily when found. This was something else, something focused, something strong. This was an emotion that the horde had never encountered before. This new emotion... it... caused pain.
As the rest of the Horde became aware of the new emotion that was building in intensity by the second, the First began the search for the source. This new feeling could not be allowed to spoil the meal that the Horde craved. The Horde could not communicate in the way of men, but the concerns of the First were immediately known to the entire group of demons and they began searching for the intruding unfamiliar emotion that had grown so intense so as to overwhelm the ability of the Horde to sense the terror of the children entirely.
The Third suddenly found the source of the unknown emotion, and just as suddenly the Horde awareness flared with... terror? How was that possible? The Horde didn't know terror, it inspired terror, it consumed terror. The Nine were shocked into immobility, for in a split second they had become the Eight.
Filius Flitwick stopped dead in his tracks, his mouth open in an odd combination of horror and amazement as the fog cleared revealing Harry Potter standing toe to toe with the black floating cloak of a dementor.
Too fast to see, Potter's hands flashed about the emotivore and a shredded cloak fluttered to the ground exposing the seemingly diseased skeletal form of a dementor. A single stroke from the boy severed the demon's head from it's neck, then Harry set about dismantling the rest of the body.
Filius could clearly see the jaw of the demon still trying to work as its body belatedly attempted to flee even as parts were ripped off of its frame and crushed in the boy's hands, Harry's young face a mask of rage.
Nothing had prepared him for seeing Harry Potter in action. After the boy's first encounter with the Death Eaters in Hogsmeade Filius had contacted family among the Brethren to ask about Potter and his 'House of Sinanju'. Filius had been told in no uncertain terms that under no circumstances should anyone from Sinanju be annoyed in any way, that the House of Sinanju had a credit rating on par with Ragnok himself and that Gringotts would place any bet for the House of Sinanju in any endeavour, but never under any circumstances would they offer odds against that Muggle House in any of the betting parlors.
Filius had been surprised by the first point, shocked by the second and utterly flabbergasted by the third. Goblins bet on everything, from both sides. The idea that the bank wouldn't even contemplate a bet against a Muggle house...
Now he was beginning to understand. Potter crushed the still moving demon skull under his heel before vanishing into the diminishing fog in search of his next target. Filius shook himself and restarted his search for the trapped students.
Chiun stood impassively, his arms behind his back, observing his son's performance. The rage the boy was maintaining was effecting his performance, though the boy was still cutting through the demons like a hot knife through butter. Only three remained standing, and Harry was closing on one of those.
He would have to schedule a few training sessions to ensure the boy wasn't picking up any bad habits from this situation before unleashing him on the target, the Master of Sinanju thought to himself. Also he planned to drill the boy on his appallingly poor technique when he rescued the silly woman who jumped from a perfectly good aircraft with a bed sheet strapped to her back. Chuin shook his head, when he had arrived to find the boy face down in the snow with a crowd of demons surrounding him Chiun had thought for a moment that he had lost his youngest son...
This combination of Sinanju and Magic was far too important to lose. Perhaps he should do something about that.
The teacher with goblin blood had found his wayward students and had returned them to the castle, guiding the sobbing, panic stricken children through a path that avoided the demons and what Harry was doing to them, and had sent them in the company of some older students to the school nurse before joining the rest of the staff in acting as a wall between the demons and the school. Chiun approved. The small man knew his business, and went about it in an efficient manner, as one should.
The assembled staff had quit casting their silver animal spells and along with a small crowd of students they were watching in amazement when they saw through the clearing fog what Harry was doing.
"Excuse me, sir?"
Chiun turned to face the young girl who had approached him, "yes?" he asked taking in her bland Caucasian features. White women, he thought, how did they contend with their hair?
"I'm Hermione Granger sir," she said affecting something of a bow, "the Deputy Headmistress asked that I help get the students back into the castle and suggested that I offer you the safety of our hospitality while she and the rest of the staff deal with whatever Harry Potter leaves of the dementors."
"And why would you think that I would need the safety of your hospitality?" He asked gently.
"Professor McGonagall suggested that you might be a muggle sir, and Harry Potter has a tendency to do some extremely dangerous things," she hesitated for a moment as an expression of extreme frustration crossed her features, "impossible things. Like fighting dementors."
Chiun's eyebrows lifted, "my son doing the impossible? Ridiculous, he is at least two years of training away from doing impossible things"
Her eyes went wider, "your... son?"
Forgetting the girl, Chiun spun back watch Harry, he was down to a single demon and something... odd was happening.
Harry crushed the 8th demon's ribcage between his hands, his senses searching for any other targets. There had to be one, he could still feel a tickle of their aura through the rage he had allowed to fill his mind. The last of the fog cleared away, revealing the lone surviving dementor, the creature no longer capable of the camouflage now that it was alone.
Spotting the remaining demon standing fifty meters away, Harry dropped the bones fragments of his latest victim, and began his slow stalk of the last of the demons.
His anger at what the dementors had done to him continued to build. Not that they had nearly killed him. Death was, after all, part of life, a most intimate part of an assassin's life. Harry knew that his life could end at any time due to carelessness on his part, due to his skills not being as sharp as they should be, due to bad luck, or due to an opponent better than he was.
The dementor demons had clearly taken him by surprise and for that moment in time they had been better than he was. That was the chance he took when he officially became an apprentice to the Master of Sinanju. No, what angered Harry, what drove the fury that was his defense against the soul suckers, was the fact that they had embarrassed him in front of Chiun. In front of his Master. In front of his father.
As Harry had taken the dementors quite literally apart he hadn't really been focusing on anything beyond finding and eliminating each of the creatures as threats. As Flitwick had said, these things were immortal, and Harry wasn't killing them, but their influence was much reduced as they were broken into progressively smaller pieces. Now he faced a single foe, the creature Harry somehow knew was the leader of the others. This was the one responsible for his humiliation in front of his father. This was the one that had shamed him.
This was the one who was going to get special treatment.
In his two minute drill of the patronus charm with Flitwick Harry had barely managed a silver mist, not the corporeal animal shapes that several of the staff were trying to use against the demons. Still, the Charms Master seemed to be quite excited that he had managed that much in such a short period of time.
Flitwick had been emphatic that even a mist could drive off one of the demons if it was applied correctly.
The dementor that remained seemed to realize that it was the sole survivor of its group, and made to escape, but the creature's speed was limited to a fast walk, so Harry easily cut it off before it could leave. As he had with the others, Harry stripped the demon of its cloak, so that he could better see the unfamiliar weak-points. Then, palming his wand, Harry thrust his right hand into the creature's ribcage.
Feeling the eldritch energies that animated the demon crawling all over his forearm, Harry pulled the creature closer to him. He closed his eyes and delved deep into his memories for something happy. Ah, that was it. Harry focused on the first time his father told him that he was of Sinanju and whispered, "Expecto Patronum."
For the first time in its existence, the First was alone, alone without the awareness of a horde to comfort and guide it. The First could still sense the rest of the horde at some level, but the group awareness was gone.
The One was back. The Horde had been hunting the One, but somehow that had changed. Now the One was hunting the Horde, picking them off one by one. The Third had been the first to slip away, then the Ninth, then the Sixth and Seventh in rapid succession, followed by the Fifth, Second and the Eighth. Then there had been a pause while the panicked Fourth had filled their diminished group consciousness with terror, terror that had no flavor, for it was the fear of their own kind, and suddenly the Fourth was gone.
The First was alone. Now the essence of the One was all around the First and the demon felt impacts around its form. Then there was pain in the center of its being when something alien invaded the energies that sustained the First in this world.
Then something new happened, the One had placed one of the aspects of pain into the First's body.
It was inside the first, and it was feeding on the Energies of the Horde. The aspect of pain was growing!
The dementor tipped its head back, its sightless eyes pointed to the sky, and for the first time in the history of creation, a dementor screamed.
The scream surprised Harry. He had been unaware that the creatures could make any sound at all. His surprise turned to shock when... something started to pull his arm into the dementor. Reflecting that being physically sucked into a demon couldn't possibly be a good thing, Harry jerked his arm and wand free of the screaming demon and slowly backed away from the creature.
Three bolts of silver... something erupted from the screaming demon's mouth and eyes, then a larger gush of energy came from the gaping hole that Harry's arm had left in the creature's chest.
Harry immediately came to the realization that being somewhere else was probably a really good idea, since the Castle wards prevented apparation, he spun on his heel and began running away from the demonic fountain of silver magic as fast as he could.
Still the dementor screamed.
Harry was most of twenty meters from the screaming dementor when the creature began to pulse with the silver magic.and a rapidly expanding silver dome started to spread from where the creature stood. Harry glanced over his shoulder at the growing bubble easily calculated that it was overtaking him. He didn't like making his abilities known, but he didn't think he had much of a choice. Throwing caution to the winds he concentrated and ghost stepped. He reappeared five meters from where he had been without breaking stride, and saw that the dome was still advancing on him at a rapid clip. Ghost step, Ghost step, Ghost step, after his fourth reappearance the expanding dome was inches from his back, and Harry disappeared again.
The dome pulsed again and bloomed beyond the point where Harry should have reappeared. The screaming had stopped and the staff and few students that remained were shocked by the sudden silence. Harry Potter flashed into existence in front of the staff, falling to his knees in seeming exhaustion as the silver dome disappear with an audible 'pop', leaving behind a bowl shaped crater in the earth fifty meters across and twenty five meters deep in the center.
The staff alternated their disbelieving stares between the hole in the ground and Harry Potter. After several seconds Filius Flitwick broke the silence. "Are you alright Mr. Potter?"
Harry turned from the hole to face the Charms Master. "An important safety tip for your Patronus Charm presentation Professor, one should never cast that charm inside a dementor. Bad things happen when you do."
A short distance away Chiun of Sinanju turned to the young woman at his side. "It appears that I was mistaken and you were correct Miss Granger," the old man said quietly. "It seems that my son has started doing impossible things ahead of schedule."
"I must admit Master Chiun," Dumbledore said from behind his desk, " I am surprised that you have come to visit young Harry at this time. I'm sure that your business has you busy in other parts of the world."
"Normally you would be correct School Teacher," the Master of Sinanju answered easily. "However, I am concerned by the amount of time this contract has been taking. The constraints you placed upon my apprentice have become unacceptable."
"I'm not sure I understand," the Headmaster said hesitantly.
"A simple elimination should not have taken five months. The restrictions you have placed upon my son are starting to make the House of Sinanju look bad," the old man said folding his hands on his lap. "As soon as I realized that you were unlikely to relent and allow my apprentice to do his job in an expeditious manner, I took my understanding of the situation to your Empress."
"Yes, Elizabeth the Second, Empress of the British Empire."
Dumbledore's eyes went wide. "The Muggle Queen knows about Voldemort?"
"Of course she does," Chiun said quietly. "The House of Sinanju works for Empires, not for school teachers. Her father authorized me to take your original contract in 1944, and your Empress would have been notified prior to my taking your contract in 1981. Since you declared your dark wizard vanquished and paid the cancellation fee, I saw no reason to bother her. When you just wanted to hire my apprentice, the same applied, since after all, you were not hiring the Master of Sinanju. However the interminable delays involved in my apprentice's assignment changed all that. Your Empress was quite concerned about the threat to her magical realm."
"I was unaware that the Court of St. James had employed your house..." Dumbledore said, still trying to process the change in his world view.
"Oh, yes. We have had many profitable exchanges with the several families that have ruled Britain. Though I was surprised to find that your Empress was under the impression you had terminated the Wizard Grindelwald saying that you yourself had told her it was your doing."
"I will explain to Her Majesty at our next meeting..."
"I'm sure you will," Chiun said graciously. "In the mean time I will be spending a week or so bringing my son to his peak of performance from the appalling sloth he had fallen into at this school. Then he will execute his first Royal warrant."
Dumbledore nodded. At least the Potter boy was still going to make the attempt, though he had to wonder just how much the old Korean's meddling was going to end up costing the House of Dumbledore. "There are sections of the castle that, as a Muggle, you would have difficulty entering," the Headmaster said. "Well, not difficulty, but let us say that in an attempt to avoid property damage, I could assign you a guide to assist you in your day to day activities. I was thinking Miss Chang, our Head Girl would be an excellent candidate."
"Chang? You would saddle me with a Chinese thief?"
Dumbledore was taken aback at the vitriol in the man's voice. "I assure you Master Chiun, Miss Chang is..."
"Unacceptable," Chiun said in a tone that suggested the topic was not open for discussion. "I've not the time to keep her from infecting my son with several horrible Chinese diseases and maintaining a constant inventory of my belongings. That girl that tried to keep me 'safe'... Miss Granger... she will do as a guide."
Every time he dealt with the Master of Sinanju Dumbledore came off feeling like a small child, despite being more than four decades the Korean's senior. As he nodded his agreement, he found himself wondering just how he was going to talk Miss Granger into it.
"The look on your face tells me that I am not going to be happy Rookwood," Voldemort said as he tipped back the potion vial. "Did those damned demons kill the boy?"
"My Lord," the former unspeakable stammered. "I... I don't know how, but the boy killed the dementors."
"WHAT?" The Dark Lord sat up in his throne.
"A full horde, nine dementors, were dispatched from the Legion of Dasyus, as per your orders. I don't yet know what the boy did, but my sources within the Ministry tell me that there is now a huge crater on the grounds of Hogwarts and Dasyus itself told me that the horde that was sent no longer exists."
"That isn't possible. If anyone was capable of killing dementors it would be me," an all too familiar pain started to bloom between Voldemort's eyes. He viciously clamped down on his defenses against the girl. The potions weren't working anymore.
"The dementors are in an uproar My Lord," Rookwood continued from where he knelt on the stone floor, knowing he was a dead man.. "They were as surprised as I that they could be killed. Dasyus refuses to have anything to do with the boy." Indeed the entire legion of dementors had returned to the safety of the island of Azkaban, but Rookwood wasn't going to tell Voldemort that.
"What magic does the boy know? To destroy dementors? How is that even possible?" The knife like pain between his eyes was worse than ever. "Thurkell!" he called.
"My Lord?" the woman answered entering the room from her potions lab carrying a steaming flagon, "do you need your dose?"
"Of course I need my dose you idiot," Voldemort spat. "Why else would I call you?"
A wry smile creased the woman's lips. "I believe this will make you happy My Lord, I've only just completed it. My test show that it is ten times the strength of that swill Snape made for you. This should keep the Veela pacified for weeks." She bowed before Voldemort and offered the flagon.
Voldemort's right arm swung up, wand in hand, "Reducto!" The Potions Mistress' head exploded into a fine red mist, the potion container fell to the stone floor, shattering and spilling the potion.
"You aren't getting rid of me that easily Charogne," the girl's voice mocked him while she had momentary control of the body they shared. "Potions Mistresses are so hard to come by aren't they? How long do you suppose before you can replace her?"
Through force of will Voldemort wrested control from the girl. "Rookwood!" He screamed, his wand pointing at the kneeling man. He wanted to kill the former unspeakable so very badly, but his followers were so few in number that he didn't dare waste one just yet. "Find me another Potions Mistress. Find her now, or you will die horribly!"
Rookwood, recognizing that getting out of the Dark Lord's presence was quite probably a good idea, exited the room bowing the whole way.
~ So Potter can kill dementors can he? ~ the girls accursed voice echoed in his mind. ~ Anyone who can do that can probably pull you out of my body Charogne. Then I will have to reward him, even if he is English.~
"I will take his body for my own and I will see you dead bitch!" Voldemort screamed in impotent fury.
~ Of course you will Charogne, of course you will. After all, you've been doing so well against him so far haven't you? ~
Outside the castle, the sun shone for the first time in weeks, not that Harry could see it. He felt it well enough as the February sun warmed his skin where it touched him.
Harry himself was stripped to the waist and blindfolded, carefully balanced upon a wooden rod, two meters long and five centimeters thick. Harry then balanced the rod on top of a large rubber ball, which was itself balanced on top of a smaller rubber ball, while making both balls bounce. The hard part of this exercise, Harry reflected, was getting the lower ball to bounce in rhythm with the larger ball. Of course Chiun throwing things at him didn't help much.
"Pathetic," the old man called from his place in front of his youngest adopted son. "I leave you alone for five months, with specific instructions to maintain your training and you become... this. Lazy and fat, just like all the whites," Chiun punctuated his statement by tossing a pair of throwing knives toward his apprentice.
Harry felt the two blades cleave through the air toward him, sensing immediately that neither were going to come close to hitting him, he concentrated on his breathing and maintaining both the bounce and his balance. The first of the blades flew through the space his hand was coming to occupy, so Harry's reflexes snatched it from the air without his having to decide to do so. This action imparted enough of the knife's kinetic energy to cause Harry upper torso to turn ninety degrees to his right. The second blade hit the far left end of the wooden rod Harry was balanced on, and the energy imparted caused the rod to turn ninety degrees to the left.
Harry fought to keep a smile from appearing on his lips while he kept the two balls bouncing in synch. This particular exercise was a lot of fun, but he had to be careful to never let Chiun know he was enjoying himself, otherwise the old man would go out of his way to come up with a less productive, but more unpleasant exercise to replace it with.
Now the exercise called for more blades, coming closer with each set. Of course Harry knew that the biggest mistake he could make would be to think he could anticipate what his father might do next.
"Mr. Chiun?" Hermione Granger called as she rounded the corner to the secluded area that the old Korean had claimed for 'exercising' his son. "Professor Dumbledore said that you asked that I act as your gui..." the girl stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes wide and mouth open as she took in the sight of a shirtless, blindfolded Harry Potter standing on a pole balanced upon a pair of bouncing red rubber balls.
"Ah, Miss Granger," the old man said as he threw something at Harry. whatever it was hit the end of the pole Potter was standing on causing it to mushroom until the rod split, leaving the portion still balanced upon the bouncing balls only 2/3rds as long as it had been. "Thank you for coming. You Headmaster is of the opinion that I will be needing a guide, and between us we agreed that you would be a suitable candidate."
Hermione closed her mouth and forced herself to stop staring at the half naked Harry Potter. "Issneun gihoeleul jusyeoseo gamsahabnida. nan nae choeseon-eul dahagessseubnida." Hermione responded carefully with the phrase she had spent three hours practicing the phonetic pronunciation of with Su Li of Ravenclaw. Who knew that 'thank you for the opportunity, I will do my best' could be such a mouthful?
The ancient Korean smiled. "Your accent is horrendous, as if you trusted a Chinese to teach you a civilized language, but I thank you for both the attempt and your intent. I believe however, that I speak English well enough to make your butchering of my mother language unnecessary."
"I'm so sorry" she said with a blush.
"Relax Miss Granger, I was teasing you. So few of your countrymen would even make the attempt, and I appreciate the hospitality, I truly do."
"How does he..." she asked gesturing toward Harry.
"Poorly, and with abysmal balance," the old man said, as he kicked an even smaller rubber ball toward his son. The ball skidded to a stop underneath the other two balls while they were at the apex of their bounce. Harry smoothly incorporated that third ball into his balance, and it joined in with the bouncing exercise.
"Do not be so proud of your self for succeeding at such a minor exercise," Chiun barked in Korean. "I saw the evidence of your sloppy execution at the scene of your catching the falling woman.
"I didn't take her mass into account for my landing," Harry explained as a stone tossed by his father caused the middle ball to be knocked away in mid bounce.
"Leaving marks on the pavement like a flat footed elephant," Chiun huffed. "Pathetic. I have spent the final years of my life trying to bring you into the purity of Sinanju and this is how you perform?"
"Final years?" Harry laughed. "When has mere age ever finished a Master of Sinanju?"
Hermione glanced back and forth between the old man and Harry Potter as they carried on their conversation in a language she didn't understand and barely recognized as being Korean. The old man's tone was dismissive while Potter's was conciliatory and warm.
That this an actual family dynamic she was witnessing?
"I thank you for honoring me with your presence Master Chiun" Filius said in the formal way of the Brethren.
The Master of Sinanju nodded magnanimously. "It is unusual for me to meet anyone with a real interest in the History of Sinanju."
The small man shrugged. "I am usually taken to be a dwarf, but your son identified me as having goblin heritage within seconds of meeting me, and he spoke to me in the Brethren's tongue. That caught my attention and my interest. Then young Harry was involved in routing a Death Eater invasion of Hogsmeade. That made me check with relatives among the Brethren concerning your House. You have quite the reputation with the Goblin Nation."
Chiun smiled, "The House of Sinanju has been dealing with the Goblin Nation for centuries. Doing business with beings who understand the importance of bills being paid in full and on time is always a refreshing change."
"In exchange for telling me the history of your house, it seems only fair that I tell you of your son's adventures here at Hogwarts. I've yet to meet a parent who wasn't interested in how their children behave when out of the parent's sight."
Chiun's eyes sparkled with interest. "That seems fair. What can you tell me of my son?"
"Harry is inordinately polite and cooperative, unless he is pushed. Then he can be quite forceful in his pursuit of what he considers 'the right thing'."
Chiun nodded, "he has always been like that, I have had an inordinate amount of difficulty in getting him not to try and rescue every stray that crosses his path."
"Indeed?" Filius laughed. "Such an act was his introduction to the students of Hogwarts. Harry prevented an attempted sexual assault on the Hogwarts Express, punishing the attacker severely."
"And for free," Chiun sighed, what was he going to do with the boy? Still, he should get some useful information out of this meeting. "What can you tell me about the demons my son fought on the grounds?"
"You wanted to speak with me father?" Harry asked as the knelt before the Master of Sinanju.
"Yes," Chuin responded with a sigh, "it is about your friend, the Bulstrode girl."
Harry shot a glance toward Hermione Granger who was standing to the side and pretending not to listen to the conversation between father and son. Harry was relatively sure that she didn't speak Korean, but she definitely caught the name 'Bulstrode'.
"Harry..." Chiun hesitated.
What the hell? Harry thought, Chiun never hesitates.
"My son," the old man continued, "I never thought that you were the type to throw yourself at the first pretty face that came along."
Harry kept his face impassive, though his feelings about this topic was clear in the tension his body showed. Chiun sighed. The young always thought they knew everything, even when they knew they didn't.
"It is not that she isn't pleasant enough, because she is. It is not that she isn't pretty enough, for she is almost Korean in her beauty. As strong as she is, she could easily bear you many children and tend to your house and fields. The question is, do you really see her leaving the lands of her family for Korea? Or do you propose staying here?"
"I don't know," Harry admitted, "I hadn't really though it though that far."
"I have noticed her... annoyance at your practicing the 37 Steps.
"I know," Harry said shaking his head. "I've tried to tell her that I was just practicing an exercise, but that just made her more angry."
"There is no understanding women," the Master of Sinanju said in sympathy for his son's confusion. "We can learn the rhythms of their bodies, but their minds will forever remain a mystery."
"Harry, let me try and explain; I was not much older than you when I took my wife."
Harry blinked. "I had no idea that you had ever married father."
The old man waved his hand. "It was long before you were born. We married in a grand spectacle in the traditions of the village. My wife was of course young and beautiful, much as your Millicent is, and we were very happy."
Harry nodded in appreciation of Chiun's story in ways that Remo had never done. Chiun loved his eldest son, but the boy lacked any real interest in the history of Sinanju.
"I would travel to ply my trade and return home to my beautiful Bo-Bae, and we were happy." The old man paused to allow his son to absorb the information he was being given. "It wasn't long before Bo-Bae began telling me of her feelings. And we were happy."
"Feelings?" Harry echoed weakly.
"Indeed," Chiun confirmed. "And before too long, my gentle flower began offering me her suggestions. And we were happy."
Chiun hid his smile at Harry sudden pallor. His son was well aware of how much Chiun appreciated suggestions.
After four years of wedded bliss, her mother Jin moved into our home, and Bo-Bae's suggestions became opinions that were soon joined by Jin's. And we were happy."
"Happy," Harry echoed again.
"Yes, we were very happy. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, so very very happy."
"Oh," Harry said, taking in his father's wisdom, and beginning to understand.
"And then one day after forty years of blissful happiness, when I was out on a job, Bo-Bae went for a walk along the coast and slipped on a wet stone. She fell and struck her head, knocking herself unconscious, and she sadly drowned in a tidal pool," the old man said shaking his head at the memory, before brightening, "and everything was alright again."
Harry sat in silence for several moments, and then spoke. "I think I understand Father."
Chiun smiled and settled into one of his levels of relaxation. A father's work is never done.
Although he would never admit it, Harry was getting bored with this exercise. In the five days since his father had arrived at Hogwarts, he had brought Harry to the highest level of preparedness the boy had ever known. His blood was practically boiling for the chance to go out in the world and demonstrate what he could do.
Harry was bored beyond description with the china plates flying at his head, the ones with the pastoral scenes that seemed to float in front of his eyes, the ones with the image of Buckingham Palace in a faded powder blue that came zipping in, sometimes with a curve or a dip or a hop, and the plain white ones with the gold trim that sometimes came straight for the cranium with enough speed to crack his skull.
Harry's left hand seemed to float up and gently touch most of the plates. Some of the plates he did not bother to block, and in the plates that were not blocked was the skill he was reminding his muscles and nerves to perform. Skill was not muscle but timing, and timing was merely being in unity, making and then keeping his perceptions in tune with reality.
This act of keeping the death plates from harming him reminded him of a simple lesson long ago when the Master of Sinanju had used slow bamboo spears that had at the time looked so fast that Harry had stood in terror as they came at him.
But these plates came five times as fast, just slightly slower than a 9 millimeter bullet. They whacked into the castle wall behind him, tearing gashes into the ancient stone blocks. But the lesson he had learned from the bamboo staves was still the lesson now. Do not defend where you are not, but only that which is valuable to you. The hooking, dipping plates would only harm him if he went at the plates themselves, instead of staying within the zone of his body, and merely protecting it from the plates' intrusion.
The last plate came horizontal at his eyes, seemed to hang for a moment, then arched above his right ear and rose cracking into the wall with an echoing crash.
"Home run," said the hurler of the plates, whose joy, unmitigated and mounting, was in making Harry's life hell. Standing behind Chiun, the hurler of plates, was Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott, all panting from the exertion of conjuring the plates that Chiun had been throwing with such abandon.
"It's not a home run, Little Father. The pitcher doesn't get home runs. The batter gets home runs," Harry explained. Remo had made a point of taking Harry to a few baseball games. Harry didn't really see the point of watching fat men waddle around the bases, but it made Remo happy.
"You change the rules on me because I am Korean and not expected to know. I am being cheated of home run," said Chiun, and he folded his long delicate fingers over each other so that his golden robe with the white butterflies settled in repose. Even his wispy ancient beard seemed to rest triumphant. Harry suddenly realized that Chiun was speaking English for his audience and that Harry had fallen into one of the Master's little traps. The Master of Sinanju was going to make much of catching his pupil in an injustice and savor the boy's humiliation in front of the three English students.
"If I were white, it would be a home run," said Chiun. "You whites are all alike. You and your brother gang up on me to rob me of the simple joys in life."
"Little Father, we were exercising. I was, anyway. We weren't playing baseball," Harry pointed out, refusing to buy into the entire situation.
"You wouldn't play with a Korean. Like your Little League. I understand. You whites are all alike. Bigoted. Yet, I maintain myself above your pettiness."
"Little Father, I grew up in Korea, all the games I've ever played were taught to me by you or the other children of Sinanju. The only reason I know anything at all about baseball is because Remo took me to a few games."
"Harry Potter!" Granger barked from where she stood, still breathing hard from the effort involved in creating more than two hundred china plates with an image of Buckingham Palace on them. "Show some respect to your father."
Son of a Bitch! Why did he care what this fuzzy headed girl thought about him? "Miss Granger," Harry said calmly, "perhaps you aren't familiar with the rules of baseball, but just as in cricket, only the batter can score runs. We weren't playing baseball, we weren't even using a ball of any kind much less a bat." Harry gave his father a dirty look which the old man blissfully ignored.
"None of that matters!" she declared as she purposefully strode toward him, taking Harry by the arm and leading him a short distance away. "He is your father. If he says the sky is orange, you should smile and agree." The girl looked furtively back toward Chiun before leaning very close to Harry and whispering in his ear, "You have to make allowances for the elderly, as they are easily confused."
Harry shot his only glance at his father and saw that Chiun had heard her whisper as clearly as if she had been speaking directly to him. Further it was obvious that Chiun agreed with the sentiment, but didn't understand just who the girl was referring to when she was speaking of the elderly.
Harry sighed. Chuin had done it again. Despite a demonstration only moments before that showed beyond a doubt just how dangerous the Master of Sinanju could be, Chiun had managed to convince his audience that he was a feeble old man.
"Miss Granger," Harry said gently. "Look at the wall."
He waited patiently while the girl examined the residue of his exercise session. The shards of china that remained of the shattered plates were starting to crumble to dust as the short term conjuring started to fade, and at the deep cratering of the stone wall that had been caused by the repeated impacts of the porcelain disks.
"Stone, broken and cratered by the impact of porcelain, Miss Granger. Think about that. This is an example of the ability of the Master of Sinanju working at perhaps one third the force he is capable of,"
"One quarter," Chiun corrected his apprentice. "You are not yet ready for one third my efforts"
"Fine," Harry sighed again. "One quarter of what he was capable of. My father is bar none, the most capable man in the world, he is not elderly, he is not feeble and he most specifically does not need anyone to 'make allowances' for him. He makes allowances for the rest of us."
"I am forever afflicted by unappreciative children," Chiun interjected. "I give and I give, but it's never enough."
Instantly the Granger girl was glaring at Harry, and the Abbott girl soon joined her.
Harry just looked to the sky. Why did he even try?
Caradoc Wilkes had run the ferry to Azkaban Island for forty years. It was a thankless job, but it had been his family's responsibility since his great grandfather Octavius had purchased the ferry from the ministry during the early 1800s in one of the early privatization plans.
Making two runs a day, every day for forty years had led Wilkes to believe that he had seen everything that was ever likely to happen on this stretch of the coast, a belief he had firmly trusted in until this morning when an old man in a bright yellow flowered robe and a young boy in denim trousers and a light Cotton vest showed up at the dock and asked to be taken to Azkaban.
Wilkes tried to explain that non ministry personnel weren't allowed on Azkaban. This seemed to cause the old man to sniff and the boy to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"You're bringing grief into my life." the boy said. "Could you please just take us to Azkaban? I'll make it worth your while."
Wilkes again tried to explain to the boy, who despite how he was dressed didn't seem to notice the 14 degree weather of late February, that it would more than his job was worth to take them to the island. The the boy reached out an pinched Wilkes' left shoulder.
The Ferry Master was more than a little surprised when the entire universe exploded in to red hot pain.
After an eternity, the pain vanished as quickly as it had started and Wilkes found himself kneeling on the deck of his own ferryboat panting like he had run for miles.
It was then the boy suggested that things like that might keep happening until he got the boat underway to take them to Azkaban.
The ferry was free of it's moorings and heading out to sea faster than it had ever done before. Caradoc Wilkes had discovered that he was a highly motivated man.
"Can you wait here?" the boy in the cotton vest asked. "We'd really appreciate it."
Caradoc Wilkes nodded energetically from his place at his ferry's wheel. There was no force on earth that would move him on this spot until the boy who caused pain told him he that could move.
"What is this?" a red cloaked Auror asked with his wand extended and ready. "Who are you?"
"We're just here to have a word with your Dementors," Harry explained. "We won't be a minute."
"You are not authorized to be here," the man in the read cloak said. "Damn it Wilkes, you know that you..." the Auror's voice died when the man fell unconscious to the wooden pier.
"Are all the magical police as tiresome as this one?" Chiun asked as he stepped over the prone body.
"Pretty much," Harry answered, while marveling at his father's speed. He had been expecting Chiun to deal with the Auror, and had been watching, but still he hadn't been able to see the old man move.. "Lots of rules and lots of assumptions. They yell a lot if you don't leave anyone to question."
"Hmm," Chiun nodded. "Much like police everywhere. His associates approach."
The pair stopped where the pier met the shoreline and waited. In moments the two Sinanju adepts were surrounded by red robed prison guards.
"Who are you?" the oldest of the guardians of Azkaban demanded.
"You are Warden Hooper?" Harry asked politely.
"I am," the grey haired man responded suspiciously.
"Hi there, how ya doin?" Harry asked with a large smile. "I'm Harry Potter, and this is Chiun, the Master of Sinanju..."
"Chiun the Magnificent," his father corrected him.
"Uh, yeah. Chiun the Magnificent, the Master of Sinanju. And this," Harry said producing a roll of parchment, "is permission for us to interview the Dementors of Azkaban."
"What?" the warden demanded snatching the parchment away.
"Signed, you will note, by the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot," Harry pointed out helpfully. "Maybe you could get your people to lower their wands before they hurt themselves?"
Looking up from the document, Hooper nodded to his senior Auror. "You want to speak with the Dementors? They've only just returned from where ever they ran off to. They won't tell us where they went or why they returned."
"You're short nine aren't you?" the boy asked.
"We are... How did you know? We've to search parties out looking for them."
"You can stop looking," Harry said. "They aren't coming back, and there's nothing left for your search parties to find."
"Impossible!" the warden rumbled.
"Maybe," Harry grinned. "But your Dementors all scurried back here missing nine of their number, and I'm still here."
"We will speak with the Demons now," Chiun said pointedly.
Three Dementors drifted into the stone chamber, coming to a rest at the far side of the room. The Warden, Harry, Chiun and a small balding man took up their places by the door. In the center of chamber a raised ritual platform stood waiting.
"I'm not doing it," the small man said. "My contract with the Ministry is for a single session a month, lasting no longer than half an hour. The interrogations when the Dementors returned took more than four hours. You people have no idea just how torturous it is to be in Communion with those things."
"Look Peasegood, this," the Warden said waiving the roll of parchment in the smaller man's face, "is an order from the head of the Wizengamot."
"And I," the man responded, "don't care. I'm not doing it."
Harry glanced toward his father, who nodded. Harry then withdrew a coin pouch from his pocket and held it out to the older man. "Other than the Warden, we're all business men here Mr. Peasegood. Would one hundred Galleons make the effort worth the discomfort?"
"One hundred?" Peasegood gasped while pocketing the offered pouch. "Too bloody right!"
Arnold Peasegood climbed atop the ritual platform, sat on the stone bench and closed his eyes. After a short pause the man began chanting in a language that Harry didn't understand. The chant went on for almost two minutes and then stopped. The small man was bathed in a yellowish light, and when Peasegood opened his eyes they shone with a blue-white light. The possessed man locked eyes with Harry.
§ YOU ARE THE ONE! §
"No," Harry disagreed before pointing at an impassive Chiun. "He is the one. I'm just his apprentice."
§ YOU ARE THE ONE THAT EXTINGUISHED THE HORDE OF NINE! § Peasegood insisted in a hollow echoing voice. § WE HAVE BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING, UNENDING, UNCHANGING, UNCHALLENGED UNTIL THE MAGIC USERS LEARNED TO CONTROL US AND USE US FOR THEIR OWN ENDS. NEVER BEFORE HAVE ANY OF US BEEN EXTINGUISHED NOT EVEN WHEN WE FOUGHT EACH OTHER. HOW HAVE YOU DONE THIS? WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW? §
"How is unimportant," Harry said with a shake of his head. "And what I do now depends on you. Your 'Horde of Nine' was hunting me, they laid a trap for me and ended up trapping themselves. I want to know why."
The three demons on the far side of the room seemed to confer for a second before Peasegood responded from his place on the ritual platform. § WE RECEIVED AN EMISSARY FROM THE DARK ONE OF MAGIC, WE WERE PROMISED A FEEDING SUCH AS HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED SINCE THE TIME OF THE DECEIVER MERLIN. WE LEFT THIS ISLAND TO ENTER INTO THE DARK ONE'S SERVICE. WE SERVED HIM FAITHFULLY FOR A FULL TURN OF THE SEASONS. THEN HIS EMISSARY CAME TO US AND PROMISED MORE FREEDOM TO FEED IF WE WERE TO CAPTURE AND CONSUME THE ONE. YOU. THE HORDE OF NINE WAS SENT TO DO THIS, YOU WERE PREY. BUT THEN THE HORDE OF NINE KNEW FEAR AND WERE EXTINGUISHED. THIS ALLOWED THE LEGION TO KNOW FEAR. WE LEFT THE SERVICE OF THE DARK ONE OF MAGIC AND RETURNED HERE TO THIS ISLAND. §
"Who was this emissary?" Harry asked. "I want to find the Dark One."
§ WE KNOW HIM AS ROOKWOOD. §
"Augustus Rookwood," the Warden suggested. "A former unspeakable. He's disappeared since the reappearance of the Dark Lord." The Warden then addressed Peasegood. "Was Rookwood capable of speaking with you directly?"
§ NO. AMONG THE DARK ONE OF MAGIC'S FOLLOWERS IS A SENSITIVE NAMED ROWLE. HE ACTED AS THE CONDUIT BETWEEN ROOKWOOD AND THE LEGION. §
"That would be Thorfinn Rowle. A marked Death Eater who claimed the Imperus Defense. He still has his place in society and his seat on the Wizengamot." the Warden said.
"Were you in contact with any other of the Death Eaters?" Harry asked.
§ NO, § the demon responded through Peasegood, and then seemed to hesitate for a moment. § WHAT HAPPENS NOW? DO YOU EXTINGUISH US? §
"Listen to this Demon," Chiun said, speaking for the first time since entering the stone chamber. "You are abominations who have been allowed to roam free far too long. Your kind dared attack the House of Sinanju. The ones who conducted the attack were dealt with, but know this; if any of your kind ever leave this island again, we will end you."
§ WE HEAR AND UNDERSTAND. § The three demons floated from the chamber, leaving behind a shaking Arnold Peasegood.
"Mr. Peasegood?" Harry asked. "I'm going to need a receipt."
"Excellent work Harry," Dumbledore effused. "I will contact the Aurors to have Rowle arrested immediately."
"No, you won't Headmaster," Harry said shaking his head. "He's too important. At best he'd just have himself obliviated and we'd lose him as a route to Voldemort, at worst he disappears and Voldemort knows I'm looking for him."
"My son will interview him personally," Chiun said quietly from where he sat. "It should be a simple matter for Harry to determine if the man was a willing tool, or and unwilling dupe."
Chiun seemed to consider the situation for a moment. "Yes. Perform well, I may be watching."
"Yes Father," Harry smiled as he exited the Headmaster's office.
"He's going to kill Rowle isn't he?" Dumbledore asked.
"After he finds out what he needs to know. You hired an assassin School Teacher," Chiun said lightly. "What did you expect?"
"I don't really know, I suppose that I expected him to exhibit the sense of humor of his father tempered by the gentle intelligence of his mother," the wizard sighed.
"And why would you suppose that two people Harry has had no exposure to would guide my son's personality is any way at all School Teacher?"
"So after he gets the information from Rowle, he's going after Voldemort?"
"Yes. It is time to end this. Harry has wasted enough time here," Chiun rose from his chair in a smooth fluid motion. "It is time for me to retire for the evening. Miss Granger should be waiting for me outside your door."
Dumbledore sat at his desk and watched as the Master of Sinanju exited his office. Could the Potter boy actually win against Tom? Could anyone win without Albus' help?
Where had it all gone wrong?
"I believe that Harry and I will be leaving very soon Miss Granger," Chiun said as he followed the young woman up the fifth flight of stairs, still matching her step for step. "I would like to thank you for your efforts on my behalf."
"Master Chiun," Hermione replied with a laugh. "You never needed me after the first hour. Much like your son you have the most amazing sense of direction I've ever seen."
"Yet in all of my wanderings, you always seem to find me. You are an interesting young woman Miss Granger."
"What I don't understand is how you manage to get past the magical doorways," Hermione noted. "For someone who supposedly has no magic, you certainly know how to get along without it."
"A lifetime of discipline and training Miss Granger. I understand that you are leaving this school at the end of the term."
"I am," she said sadly. "I have loved my time here, but the since the Headmaster refuses to hold some of the students responsible for their behavior, my staying here has become impossible."
"It is important to have standards," the old man agreed. "That means that you will have a fair amount of free time over the next year."
"Well, I will need to research whatever school I end up going to..."
"Perhaps you could spend the year working for me,"
Hermione blinked. "Working for you? But Master Chiun, what could I possibly do for you that would be worth your money?"
They had reached the guest quarters where Chiun had been provided with a room. The door opened at his touch and he paused in the doorway. "My son is the first magical to be taught the secrets of Sinanju. I took him in as an experiment to see what his talents would add to the sum that is Sinanju. I have been quite pleased with his progress and his performance, though I would ask that you not tell him this."
Hermione nodded. "I've noticed how close the two of you are, though you both pretend not to be in your own ways. But how does a job for me work into your family situation."
"Harry's encounter with the emotion demons almost lost him to Sinanju. It became clear to me that I was risking more than my son by allowing him to work. I was also risking the prospect of establishing a line of magical practitioners of Sinanju. So I propose that you bear Harry's son. Adding the potential of your mind to Harry's work ethic would produce possibly the most powerful future Master of Sinanju in all of the House's history. I am willing to pay one hundred thousand pounds sterling for a healthy male child."
Hermione's mouth worked for several seconds, but no sound passed her lips, until she managed to gasp, "One hundred thousand pounds?"
"Fine. I am willing to go to one hundred fifty thousand. Let me know in the morning."
An elf answered the door.
"Good evening," said Harry. 'I'm from the Minister Fudge's Reelection Campaign and I would like to speak with Mr. Rowle."
"Is Master Rowle being expecting you?" the little being asked.
"No," Harry admitted, "but our business will only take a few moments."
"You will be waiting here, Clots will see if Master Rowle is at home."
"Thank you," said Harry said with a smile.
The elf, in starched white pillow case, returned with apologies that Mr. Rowle was unavailable.
"It will just take a minute. I'm really in a rush," said Harry, gliding around the elf who could have sworn she had a hand out there to stop him. She watched the visitor seem to slip through it as she stood there, hand upraised in empty air her magic touching nothing.
Thorfinn Rowle was having dinner with his family. He was poised with a forkful of blueberry pie when Harry entered the somewhat overfurnished dining room.
"I'm awfully sorry to bother you," Harry apologized. "This will only take a minute. Finish your pie. Go ahead. Don't let me bother you."
Rowle, a massive man with the strong rocklike face of a Roman legionnaire, put down his fork.
"Go ahead, finish it," said Harry. "I've heard good things about blueberry pie."
"May I ask who you are?"
"Odoriferous Crotchsniff from Minister Fudge's Reelection Campaign. It will only take a minute. I really don't have more than a minute for you anyhow." If this clown could have a funny name, so could he.
"You can Floo call my secretary in the morning. I am eating now."
"Go ahead, finish it," Harry said helpfully. "I can wait."
Thorfinn Rowle wiped his mouth with the fine white linen napkin, excused himself from the table, receiving scarcely a nod of recognition from his wife and children. "I will give you one minute," said Rowle heavily. "But I think I should warn you that you are not doing yourself any good by interrupting my supper."
Harry merely nodded. He did not have time for polite chitchat. Rowle led Harry into a book-lined den.
"All right. What was your name? What are you here for? What's your immediate superior's name? I told you, you didn't do yourself any good by interrupting my supper. I know Cornelius wouldn't have sent you at this hour."
"His name's Chiun, but don't worry about calling. That's not why I'm here. You see, you're connected to someone I want to speak with, so I'm here to find him through you."
"I beg your pardon," said Rowle.
"C'mon. I don't have all night," said Harry.
"That's right," said Rowle. "That's very right. You don't have all night at all. Now why don't you do yourself a very big favor and leave."
"I take it that's one of your subtle threats?" Harry asked with a smile.
Rowle shrugged his shoulders. He estimated that he could snap this boy in two if he had to, but why should he have to? He merely needed to call for the Aurors and have the foolish child arrested for trespassing. Then when the boy was released in his own recognizance, he would prove that the courts were too lenient by just disappearing. Perhaps in the Lake District.
Rowle's self assurance was somewhat shaken by a searing, biting pain in his right shoulder. It felt like a hot iron was being pressed into the joint. His mouth opened to scream but there was no sound. Just the pain and his visitor's forefinger and thumb where the pain was. Rowle could neither move nor speak. This was worse, far worse than the Dark Lord's Cruciatus! Rowle had been exposed to that curse more times than he cared to remember, but he had always been able to scream. This was infinitely worse!
He fell back onto his desk, like a child in a body bind, helpless.
"All right, this is how I do subtle," said the visitor. "Pay attention now, this is pain."
The shoulder felt as if hot needles pricked the socket But the visitor's fingers hardly moved.
"And this is an absence of pain."
Rowle felt a relief so blessed he almost cried.
"You can have an absence of pain, or this,"
The hot needles again.
"This goes away when I find out where Voldemort is." the boy said quietly.
Rowle tried to speak but he had no voice.
"I didn't hear you."
Rowle tried to scream but he couldn't.
"You've got to speak up."
Didn't this boy realize that he couldn't speak? The boy was a loony and Rowle's shoulder felt as if it were coming out of the socket and Rowle would say anything, tell anything, if only his voice would cooperate. He felt the pain shift to his chest and suddenly his vocal cords were free but he could hardly breathe.
Hoarsely he babbled about the Parkinson's home. But his crazy visitor wouldn't believe him, just kept saying that it wasn't true.
"My god, I swear it's true. The Dark Lord lives in the Parkinson's Ballroom. I swear it. My god, please believe me, it's true. Please. The entrance is behind a portrait of Morgan Le Fey. Believe me."
"I do," Harry said. And then the pain was magnificently, gloriously, joyously gone and a sudden night descended on Thorfinn Rowle, who encountered the ultimate penalty for following the wrong leader.
Harry put the body in a lounging chair, closed Rowle's eyes, and left the room, jamming the lock as he did so, more from force of habit than any other reason. He knew that the blocked doorway would mean nothing to a magical, but it was as he was taught, so he did it without thought. Returning to the dining room, Harry expressed regrets to the Rowle family that he could not stay for dessert, and told Mrs. Rowle her husband would be busy for a while and should not be disturbed.
Harry left the Rowle mansion with a deep feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. It was time to finish this.