The members of the North American Confederation make decisions, and two Horcruxes are dealt with.
By Dr T
The members of the North American Confederation make decisions, and two Horcruxes are dealt with.
Main characters and canon owned and operated by She-Who-Must-Be-Named and her Minions. I just twist things around to please myself.
Harry and Hermione were not told exactly where they were taken for the next three weeks, but it was someplace obviously in the Appalachians or the related mountains. They were in a small valley with low ridge mountains and a mostly-frozen creek on one side. It was obviously some sort of holiday camp, made up of six cabins and a central pavilion/dining/meeting building. While there was access to Mundane things such as cable and the internet in the central building, the cabins had magical heating and lighting. The camp was close enough to some small urban area that there was a bit of light pollution, and when the wind was right they could sometimes hear the sounds of a major highway. Packard and his three security people (paired male-female, so the six would look like three couples had they accidentally encountered anyone) were joined by a couple from the Collective on December 27, and a pair of technomages on January 2.
Part of each day, Harry and Hermione went over their experiences in the British magical world with their minders, dating back as far as they could remember. Every day except Christmas and New Year=s, the teens were given extra spell training and some information on North American magical cultures. The technomages were overjoyed to learn that Hermione was an excellent arithmancy student who had continued her study of Muggle maths and physics during the summers, and who had even been able to pick up a smattering of computer coding – the group was always interested in recruiting talent. They were glad to give her extra coaching in all those areas, while Harry was given some basic physical training. Hermione found herself looking forward to the end of the war in Britain, so that she could take up the offer the technomages made her to join them.
Shortly after New Year’s, the pair was told that the political situation they had caused would soon be under discussion at ‘high levels,’ but that was all their tutors/guards felt they could say. The pair had expected more information than that, and they consulted with other with a mere glance. That night, Harry called Hermione to the bedroom he occupied in the two-room cabin. Silently, he opened the tent they still had with them, and the pair went inside. They then used every privacy ward they knew. They were not to know that, once the technomages had learned the pair was not sleeping together (or otherwise visiting each other’s bedrooms), they only had the living area and the small kitchen bugged.
“What is it?” Hermione asked, more concerned about Harry’s actions than anything they had learned that day.
“First of all,” Harry said sincerely, “I want to thank you for sticking with me; not just since Ron left, but really since that first Halloween.”
“You’re welcome, of course,” Hermione replied. She looked at Harry and continued, “You are my best friend, and it was also the right thing to do.”
Harry merely nodded. “And I’ve needed your friendship as much as your help.” Their eyes locked. “Part of me, selfishly, wants you to keep helping me. On the other hand, if we aren’t given any help by any of these people, well. . . .”
“To put it bluntly, we’re screwed,” Hermione stated, making Harry blink from her choice of phrase. “I know you don’t blame me, but the information I had on the magical situation here really wasn’t accurate.”
“I don’t blame you,” Harry said. He knew too well that Hermione was sometimes uncritical of her sources, just as he knew even better he couldn’t do half as well.
“I thought the technomages were more independent than they seem to be,” Hermione said with a sigh. “I thought they would take us in. . . .”
“Which they have,” Harry pointed out. “And we shouldn’t be surprised that the Collective isn’t mentioned back home.”
“Unfortunately true,” Hermione had to agree. “I think we have asylum, but we might not get more help, and if they don’t help us with your Horcrux, well. . . .”
“Then I am screwed, anyways,” Harry replied after a moment. “The technomages would likely give you more than training, I’m sure they would welcome you into their group no matter what else happens with me. I know,” he added quickly as Hermione took a deep breath to argue, “you would be willing to come with me no matter what happens and no matter where I go, but you also need to live your life, Hermione. No matter what they decide, please, do what is best for you, not what you think would, well, comfort me.”
“Harry, why haven’t we dated?” Hermione asked.
“Right, not much chance of a date recently, but why haven’t we . . . well, why aren’t we. . . .”
“Even more attracted to each other than we are?” Harry asked.
Hermione nodded. “I thought maybe we had some sort of love potion or spell on us, making us attracted to other people, but those tests before Christmas would have revealed if any were still active.”
“Maybe they did,” Harry said with a shrug. “I know they are pretty puzzled about something.”
“About you, yes, but that seems associated with the Horcrux,” Hermione pointed out. “I’m pretty certain they suspect it’s there. We should probably just go ahead and admit to it tomorrow. Still, back to the point, I’m not longing for Ron.”
“Nor I Ginny,” Harry admitted. While they were in transit, the last time he had looked at the map showed Ginny and Neville going to a broom closet, and Harry had lost all his remaining interest. He was not to know that they were there plotting against Snape, the Carrows, and the Slytherins, not snogging. “You are very pretty, but. . . .”
“No spark for you, either?” Hermione asked.
Harry half-smiled. “Well, there was that one night in transit. . . .”
Hermione returned the smile. “We were both still hurting because of Ron’s leaving and worried about what kind of reception we would get here. I don’t regret that my first time was with my best friend.”
“Neither do I.”
Hermione kissed his cheek. “You’re my best friend, my partner,” she said. “And you are attractive, and of course now I know you are a great kisser, but as much as I love you, I’m not in love with you, either. Still, don’t think I’ll just leave you because it might look better for me in the short term.” Hermione hugged her best friend, and, for the first time, she felt he really hugged her back properly. “Harry?”
Hermione thought a bit more. No, there would never be real romance between the two, but heaven help anyone who tried to come between the two best friends. They meant so much to each other. . . . “Harry, may I spend the night with you?”
Harry simply hugged his best friend.
The next day, a series of very different meetings was held, the first between one of the technomage leaders and an aide with the Chair of the Confederacy Council’s Policy Oversight Committee. In the complicated arrangements which governed the Council=s rotating formal leadership, this position was the closest anyone ever got to being a prime minister or formal leader. In this case, the position was currently held by a representative of the General Wizarding Population named Paul Marshall. “I’ve been over all the material,” he said, shaking his head, “and I’ve shared parts of the information with the rest of the Committee. We all agree that this Voldemort is a Dark Lord as well as a terrorist, and he and his followers have too much power in Britain. However, there is not enough proof to make the International disenfranchise the current British Ministry. The abuse of the First-born magicals is horrendous, but unfortunately it is an internal matter. We have told the British Government that we would consider allowing any First-born to migrate here.”
“Was that the conclusion of the entire Committee?” Superintendent Smothers asked.
“Which part? That the abuse is horrendous? Yes.” Smothers and his aide both nodded their understanding. While there was no group exactly corresponding to the British and European ‘Purebloods,’ many of the Old Colonial Families leaned in their direction. That the Old Colonial representatives did not try and white-wash what was going on in Britain was a good sign. “We also agreed on the fact that we don’t have enough evidence for the International to disenfranchise the Ministry . . . yet. There really isn’t quite enough for us to agree that it needs to happen, except we have all decided to read between the lines, so to speak. There have been many reports which can only be what the British would have called ‘Muggle-baiting’ just a few months ago. The unMarked British Ambassadors both here and to the International of course claim that it’s nothing of the sort, just a few exaggerated incidents. Because of your information, however, we have told the Ambassador here that if the ‘incidents’ do not rapidly die down, we will formally bring them up at the February International meeting. We’ve been spreading the information around to all the other Ministries as it is. I know the Spanish, Australians, Indians, Tibetans, New Zealanders, Japanese, and both the Spanish American and Portuguese Unions either have or will by next week express similar concerns.@ The Spanish American Union included all of Spanish-speaking South America and the Caribbean, Central America, and most of Mexico. Parts of northern Mexico and the south-western United States had overlapping authorities, split between the Union and the North American Confederation. The Portuguese Union was Portugal and Brazil.
“Did the Old Believer representatives agree we could approach the Druid Council, or even the Tuatha?” The Tuatha were three senior Druids, appointed for the political, magical, and religious authority, and the final authority for internal matters within the Old Believer community.
“Actually, Representative Tudyr ab Evan ap Hari will be taking you to a meeting as soon as you leave. I don’t know who with, and I don’t want to know.”
In politics, plausible deniability was always useful.
“Why do you care so much, anyway?” Marshall asked. “I understand why you care in general, of course, because I feel the same way, but you have, in effect, put the tiny amount of political muscle your small group has into this.”
“We are nearly all Mundane-raised, although not always First-born,” Smothers pointed out, ignoring the implied weakness of his group, which he did not agree with. “We know that Voldemort will not be contained by Britain, or even Europe, without some major fighting at some point. In the unlikely event he wins, we would all be slaughtered.”
“As would the Collective, even before you,” Marshall pointed out.
Smothers nodded. “True, and that is also a consideration. We are well aware that the Squib nature of the Collective makes many others nervous.”
Marshall defended himself on that point. “Maybe a few, but it is the very nature of the Collective that makes most of us nervous. If they were all magic users doing the same thing, we might fear it even more. A collective mind could be a very dangerous thing.”
“There is a collective mind, but the Collective membership is not controlled by it!”
“Yet . . . that we know of,” Marshall pointed out. “It is more than the sum of its active parts, and there may be unconscious influence as well as conscious contact.”
“I think some people have been watching too: much Star Trek the Next Generation and Terminator movies,” Smothers retorted.
“I don’t even know what those movies are,” Marshall answered back. “Be damn careful of the Collective, and even more so with dealing with the Old Believers.”
Smothers stood, bowed, and left without a word, followed by his aide. Marshall made a note to learn what the Star Trek and Terminator references meant.
As for Smothers, he was taken, alone, directly to a small conference room, where three elderly people, two wizards and a witch, were waiting for him. He blinked as he realized that he was not meeting with a few members of the Druid Council and one of the Tuatha triad, the best he had hoped for, but the actual full Tuatha.
“We have questions for you, Superintendent Smothers,” the witch stated. “Please be seated.”
Smothers managed to sit despite his surprise.
“No, we rarely meet Outsiders as a group,” the witch continued. “We thought this might be time to make an exception.”
“Why come to us to help with the abominations contained in the boy=s scar and the evil object he brought with him?” the eldest of the three asked. “We destroy such things, and you do not wish the boy destroyed.”
“True,” Smothers asked, his throat very dry from nerves. He knew that he could quickly, and unknowingly, tread on dangerous ground. “We hoped you would know how to safely separate it, and since the one in the scar was either the last or the next to last Horcrux, we hope there might be a way to glean information from it, especially as to what the earlier ones are and perhaps even where they might be.” While Harry had admitted to the scar being a Horcrux just the day before, the technomage exams had already revealed it as such.
“We cannot,” the old man replied. “We are somewhat surprised you have not created a device; what is it you call them?”
“The generic term is ‘gizmo,’ sir.”
“Ah,” the old man said. “A gizmo, then, which could interact with the abominations and at least glean the information you seek.”
“We have come close, but at the moment, Harry’s active magic is partially blocking our readings,” Smothers admitted. “We were able to gather information from the locket Horcrux. Unfortunately, the locket was the third one made, and gave us no information Harry did not already have on the first two, both of which have been destroyed.”
“Ah. As for that separation, we have friends who might do it without destroying it immediately.”
“Err . . . not the Voodoo Queens?”
“No,” the witch answered. “Well, they likely will be on any team we might put together, but we trust them little more than you do. Their cousins in West Africa will help us as best they can, and if needs be, deal with the Vodun Alliance in the Americas.” This was a loose confederation of both magic and religious practitioners’ various groups spread throughout the Americas and West Africa.
“Why else do you seek our help?” the oldest of the three asked.
“The best way to deal with Voldemort and his forces needs raw numbers of skilled magic users, at least three hundred,” Smothers said bluntly. “If we exerted all our power without leaving us totally undefended, we could at best put together twenty decent fighters, five really good fighters, and a support crew of sixty. No one seems to know how many of you there are, but unless there is a major, all-out, international effort, the only way we can help the British free themselves would be a strike force too large for any other group to put together.”
The youngest of the three had not yet spoken. As he stirred, the other two’s body language showed that he was the man in charge. “We still have followers Hidden across the waters,” he said. That there were Old Believers hidden away, even back in Western Europe, was an open secret. “We have three great circles in Britain, and three on the Continent.” That mere admission was as shocking as the large number of circles. The elder was being very open, to show how much power the Old Believers could draw upon, but he was not about to admit that Voldemort himself was sniffing around one of the hidden Great Circles – he knew there was something powerfully magical hidden in the area, and the Old Believers were using this chance to intervene. “We have thirty thousand followers near the circles, or in other enclaves throughout Europe.” Smothers swallowed nervously – curious wizards had died seeking out this much information. “Our membership, world-wide – yes, we have members on all continents now – account for just about half of the world’s magical human population, as best we can tell.@
Smothers was sweating.
“You will, of course, take an oath not to divulge these details,” the witch stated. Smothers merely nodded eagerly.
“We may release three hundred security people to help you. We will send six people to meet with the Boy-Who-Lived and his companion. You will take them to wherever you have them safely tucked away when you leave, if we have an agreement. We will contact the Yoruba leadership. We will have people there to help them, and you, deal with this ‘living Horcrux,’ as well as the locket, if you have not already dealt with it. You will send us a detailed plan of attack, including descriptions of what technomagic gizmos you plan on sending with your own security forces or hope to develop, and what those forces shall be. You will not allow more than two of the Collective to Britain with the combined group – we would really prefer none at all, but understand why that would not be . . . politic. There shall be seven people in the decision making process in Britain: the Boy and his companion if she chooses to accompany him; a senior Druid; two of our security people; and two of your people. If you wish to share a position with the Collective, you may. A high ranking member of our Hidden will both be the liaison to us and in overall command should more forces be needed.”
Smothers thought a moment, and then nodded his agreement. It would mean revealing the hideaway Potter and Granger were at to the Old Believers, although he acknowledged they probably already knew of it. (They did, in fact.)
With luck, they would be ready to move by mid-April at the latest, mid-March if they were very lucky.
The technomages, not to mention Harry and Hermione, were startled at how quickly the Old Believers had things organized. In less than a week, Harry was in an enchanted sleep, surrounded by various practitioners of Yoruba and associated magics, drawn from West Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil, as well as one Voodoo Queen from New Orleans. Old Believers surrounded that group, while a group of technomages monitored their esoteric equipment. To the discomfort of many, three members of the Collective were also present.
Hermione was also present, and was currently in a huddle with some of the technomages.
The chief priestess was growing impatient, as she very much wanted to destroy the evil thing attached to the poor boy=s soul. Only the mutual respect between her fellows and the Old Believers kept her from just doing what she wanted to do as she wanted to do it.
“Interesting,” the chief technomage commented as the conclave broke up. She nodded, and one of her assistants turned to the gathering. The Collective members suddenly stiffened.
“Most of the memories we can access are very fragmented. Our friends here are sifting through the few usable memories accessible in the Horcrux,” he stated. “That should help us identify them and perhaps even locate them. Equally important, perhaps, are the ties binding Potter to Voldemort. In addition to the Horcrux, there are three others.” That surprised everyone.
“From what we gather from our conversations with Mister Potter, and now with Ms Granger, the strongest one comes from the fact that Voldemort used Potter to restore him to a physical form.”
The chief of the Haitian group raised her hand to halt him and asked, “What exactly was this ritual?”
Hermione told her. To her shock, she heard snickers.
“This Voldemort may be a genius, but he may have made a foolish mistake,” the Belizean priestess told them. “Yes, that ceremony brings a soul back into a body, but it feeds off of the power of the enemy. That is what you found, yes?”
“Exactly,” the technomage agreed. “Plus there are two lesser connections. One is likely from the duel Harry and Voldemort fought immediately after the ceremony: Potter forced Voldemort’s wand to spit out curse copies of those he had killed, and in doing so, Potter claimed mastery over Voldemort’s wand, hence that magical connection. The other, slightly stronger one, came when Potter was possessed by Voldemort, only to be thrown out of Potter’s mind. The Horcrux connection does not really directly drain Harry very much. The connection from the ceremony, however, seems to be siphoning off a great deal of power, perhaps as much as a third.”
“Exactly,” the priestess agreed. “That ceremony creates a body so a spirit can exact revenge. It is powered not by the spirit’s magical core, but uses the power of the enemy to keep the actual body going. If the young one here dies before Voldemort or if we successfully cut the connection, the artificial body will fall apart in a year or two. However, because Voldemort is more than a free spirit, he can recreate a body in other, more permanent ways.”
“So, the question is, did Voldemort know?” an Old Believer commented.
“Exactly. We cannot know.”
“But that may be way Riddle insisted on using Harry’s body; so he could get revenge and have the advantage when they confronted each other again,” Hermione pointed out. The others nodded at that idea.
The eldest of the Vodun group, a Brazilian, then spoke up. “Actually, I would say that Voldemort’s attempt to possess Potter opened the ritual connection a great deal – otherwise the drain should not yet be so severe.* In any case, the important thing is, both it and the Horcrux connections can be severed.”
“And the two lesser connections?” the Yoruba priestess asked.
“The first one, likely from their duel, is currently almost neutral – it would open up more if they were in direct confrontation – but it and the final connection both go in the opposite direction.”
“The one from the ceremony will continue to grow,” another priest from Brazil commented. “It likely started off at most at about a quarter of what it is now, and will increase over the next few years until it drains all magic and life from your friend here if we do not stop it.”
“We will,” the senior priestess stated firmly, “although we can keep the connection for the wand mastery intact while we break the others.” She glared at the technomages, “Whenever we are allowed to do so, that is.”
“Got it!” a technomage called out.
The chief technomage smiled nastily. “Now that our Collective friends are finished and we have copied the memories for further research, we can disrupt the flow of power and then cause a feedback loop, disrupting Voldemort’s power. It may just give him a mild headache; it may cripple him. It will affect him. Would that interfere with your ceremonies?”
The Vodun group looked at each other, and all smiled evilly. “No,” the head of the Voodoo Queens said, pleased for the first time. She was not happy that her group had been superseded by others within her religious sect. “We would have had to disrupt the flow of power first in any event with our first ceremony. Now, we have no need to do so, if you can disrupt it for at least ten minutes.”
“The longer we do so, the more pain Voldemort will suffer.”
“Good,” she said, “we prefer to do things slow.”
*Thus explaining, at least in this Potterverse, why Harry seemed to become a weaker wizard in each of the last two books.
Voldemort was in his private chambers, having given orders not to be disturbed. Suddenly, he screamed as the worst pain he had ever felt hit him.
It lasted for nearly half an hour, and went it left him, he collapsed.
Voldemort would be unconscious for nearly a week, and would not be seen by his minions for over a week thereafter.
Two days after the ceremonies. . . .
“What troubles you, Severus?” Dumbledore=s portrait asked the Headmaster.
“Either that device of yours that Weasley has doesn’t work correctly,” Ron had been leading Snape around the country side in circles since Boxing Day, “or he doesn’t know how to work it, or. . . .”
“Or Potter is not in the country. It led him to Land’s End and faintly pointed to the west-southwest.”
“Oh dear,” Dumbledore said, shocked, “I had not anticipated that!”
“Well, you’d best hope he comes back soon,” Snape snarled. “I don’t know how long some of the weaker students will survive the Dark Lord’s curriculum adjustments! In addition, I have been told that the Dark Lord is still in seclusion, which likely means some grand scheme.”
The portrait said nothing.
The next morning, the eldest member of the Tuatha, Superintendent Smothers, and the chief Druid overseeing Harry’s treatment called a general meeting. There were Druids and other Old Believers, technomages, members of the Collective, and a few others, including Harry and Hermione. Altogether, there were over 200 people present. Most of the people were uncomfortable, as, to the surprise of nearly everyone, they were meeting in of all places a movie theater in a suburb of New Orleans. All were therefore in Muggle clothing, and Hermione, taking a quick peek from ‘backstage,’ was surprised to see that although a few were squirming, none looked anywhere as out of place as many of the magical people had at the World Cup.
“You never said why we are meeting here, sir,” Harry said to Smothers.
“A technomage owns the franchise to this set of theaters,” Smothers answered, “and New Orleans was a convenient place to meet.”
Harry merely nodded. He had undergone his ‘treatment’ for the Horcrux a few days before in South Florida after all, and was still a bit weak, physically. He and Hermione would sit off-stage unless called upon. That way, they could hear everything discussed, but would not have everyone looking at them.
Smothers walked out to the podium and said, “Welcome, friends and allies. You have all been given a briefing of the background. First, let me remind you before we get started, what we are jointly proposing to do is technically illegal where we will be operating. If any of us are captured, we will likely be tortured for information, and then killed. You will not be giving up any information, because of the combination of oaths and spells which you will under, but, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about the torture if you are captured. Even if we succeed, there is a good chance that our efforts will not be recognized, and that we may even be subject to arrest should we live to return. We are planning this effort because we feel it is right and necessary. This is your last chance to back out without being memory charmed at the least.”
Unsurprisingly, at this stage no one was going to back out.
“So first, yes, it has been confirmed that the wizard who calls himself ‘Voldemort’ split his soul several times.” No one gasped at the name, as only Britons and a few other western European magical people tended to do so. And, while Voldemort had his title under a taboo in Britain, that did not extend outside the country. “In fact, he split it seven times. Four of the so-called Horcruxes have been destroyed. The last to be destroyed, which was the sixth one made, held the information about two remaining earlier ones, what they were and where Voldemort planned on hiding them.”
“One was planted within Hogwarts, another was to be stored in a vault in the London branch of Gringotts. Some of our Old Believer friends here have powerful connections with the goblins, and the vault is being searched as we speak. If it is indeed there, the Horcrux will be separated and then destroyed, and the object replaced otherwise undamaged. The final object is either Voldemort’s familiar, or is contained within it. It, and the Hogwarts Horcrux, will be dealt with in due course.”
“We technomages have worked hard and come up with two gizmos which will aid us. One detects the so-called Dark Mark, both when it is a magical sigil on a Death Eater and when they use it to mark one of their raids. For the Death Eater detector, we believe we have an effective detection range of nearly four kilometers, and at least six on the signal. The other gizmo will detect a Horcrux at eight kilometers.”
“Now, as of yesterday we have fifteen vans driving around Britain. Well, actually, we have four driving around greater London and the rest disbursed around the island. They are being driven by Australian and New Zealand technomages, since they’re used to driving regular vehicles on the left side of the road. The drivers are protected by Old Believers. Hopefully, we will at least know where some of the Death Eaters live when we are ready to move in force next week. With luck, we will also have a location on the last Horcrux as well.”
“Our first line of attack will be on the groups enforcing the taboo on Voldemort=s title. This should be the last time any of us use that title except under direct order until the operation is over. Call the bastard anything else you wish. After those groups are taken care of and questioned, the operation will split into two groups. One will be targeting Death Eaters, the other targeting the Horcruxes and Vol . . . err, the Dark Bastard. The first group will be larger and be seeing more actions.”
Smothers looked around. “Good luck to all of you. You will be swearing your oaths and being bespelled as you leave. Thank you all.”
The most senior Old Believer held up a hand to stop the group. He stood and said, “Most of us follow the various and slightly different versions of magic practiced across Europe. For all of us, the bridge between our versions of magic, the common symbol for most of us, is Merlin. We return to the land of Merlin, to free our cousins from oppression. We will conduct a prayer circle for our success tomorrow, which will be preceded by a Haka performed by the New Zealand technomages as well as various Collective members. The Voodoo Queens will be holding a sacrifice tomorrow evening. All are invited to witness these ceremonies. Tomorrow night, the Voodoo Queens will host a crawfish boil for all of us. Collectively, we represent many variations of magic, perhaps the most varied ever to work together. Let us make this our future, not the attitudes represented by the Dark Lord or future Dark Lords.”
That brought a unanimous round of applause.