Determined to take the fight to Voldemort, Harry decides drastic measures are needed.
A muffled pop signalled Harry Potter that his minder that disappeared. A quick glance at the digital clock he had repaired told him the time in wavering red numbers; 3:40 am.
Harry knew he was being watched but had only been back at Privet Drive for only three days, and he had quickly found regularity in the shifts. It seemed that the night was divided in three different shifts, each shift four hours long.
During the day the cat-loving squib Mrs Figgs found a suspiciously large number of reasons to bump into him. As far as his guards were concerned, his daytime guard was assigned to him for the entire day. As of yet, Harry had still to discover the identities of the Order members that were guarding him.
The only thing weak link Harry had discovered in the whole schedule was during the night when the shift ended. Each time a shift ended he would be presented with a small window of opportunity. At the end of each shift, his guard would apparate away and a minute or so, a new guard would appear at Privet Drive. There was always a small amount of time between the departure and arrival of his watchers.
If he had to give a reason, Harry would venture to guess that perhaps the strange hole in shifts was because they had to share an invisibility cloak, or wait for Moody to screen the incoming guard to determine his identity. Whatever the reason was, Harry was glad it existed as he was about to take advantage of it.
Knowing time was of the essence, Harry slipped into his shoes and opened his window. After making sure there where no nosy neighbours or other people to witness his strange behaviour, Harry jumped to the ground.
Landing lightly on the grass he had mowed the day before, Harry briefly thanked Wood for all the quidditch training he had received from the fanatic Keeper. After Harry's narrow fall from his broom in his first year, Wood had introduced a new training exercise to Harry's regime; safe falling.
It had consisted of Harry dropping of his broomstick from varying heights and landing safely. After some nasty bruises, the young Seeker had quickly gotten quite proficient in it.
Dismissing his line of thought, Harry made a wild sprint towards the back of the yard where his objective was; the garden shed. Fumbling with the latch, Harry managed to wrench the door open just as a sharp crack reached his ears.
Darting inside the shed, Harry quickly closed the door. Heart pounding he hoped the newly arrived guard wouldn't have seen the door closing. Pressing his ear to the door, he listened intently.
After managing his heart back to it's normal rate and still not hearing anything, Harry let out a sigh of relief. He had done it.
The messy-haired teenager allowed himself a brief minute to regain his bearing and steel his frazzled nerves. He had been extremely nervous all day long that Moody would be on guard and his whole scheme would be discovered thanks to Moody's mad-eye.
But his luck had held and his gamble had paid off.
Reminding himself why he had come here, Harry turned towards the most unlikely object in the shed, and probably in the whole of Privet Drive; a bubbling cauldron. Harry grinned as he imagined how his 'dear' relatives would react if they would by any faint chance stumble into the shed. Pulling out various ingredients, he set to work.
Mundungus Fletcher was not a happy camper. The notorious crook had been assigned guard duty by Dumbledore himself and wasn't keen to screw up again. That said, he was itching to leave, just before his shift had started one of his shady contacts had informed him of a large amount of cheap chimera scales that would be sold at a discount price.
With the upcoming conflict prices for wand components had sky rocketed. Chimera scales were widely used in wands that were more suitable for the more questionable spells. Mundungus knew that the deal he wanted to close was a very lucrative one.
The problem was that the longer he would wait, the larger the chance would be someone else would beat him to the lucrative opportunity.
Deciding the Potter boy wouldn't be going anywhere, Dung apparated with a muffled pop. He reappeared a moment later in the dingy and dirty entrance hall of Grimmauld 12, the once proud house of the Black family. He let the invisibility cloak fall to the floor where it pooled in a pile of liquid silver.
He was immediately greeted by a tired looking Bill Weasley. "Mundungus, what are you doing here, you're twenty minutes early."
The crook in question began stuffing his pipe with his seedy looking tobacco and smoothly lied, "Really? I could've sworn it was already time. Must've been the poor quality of the watch I bought. Should've known I was being swindled."
Mundungus did not know if the red-hair in front of him believed him or was too tired to start arguing with him, nor did he care. After picking up the cloak, he followed the curse breaker to the kitchen where a bleary-eyed Emmeline Vance sat hunched over a steaming cup of coffee.
Upon seeing Mundungus come in, she quickly gulped down the remainder of her drink. "Is it this late already?" It obviously was a question she was not expecting a reply to and Mundungus wordlessly held out the invisibility cloak for her.
Vance quickly donned it and fading footsteps signalled her departure. Taking the time to light his pipe, Mundungus waited until the door had closed and a crack signalled Emmeline Vance had apparated to Privet Drive.
"Well, I must be going as well, got some business to take care of. Tell Dumbledore nothing happened." And before Bill could stop him, Mundungus had apparated from the kitchen.
Crinkling his nose in disgust, Bill waved his wand a few times to clear the air of the smoke. "Bloody Fletcher, why Dumbledore keeps the man on guard duty I wouldn't know." he muttered to himself as he sheathed his wand again. Satisfied that the exchange of the shifts had taken place and his task was over, Bill knew headed for bed.
Harry resisted the urge to throw his head back and cackle insanely. Instead he opted for a victory dance he had seen the twins do on occasion. The reason to his exuberance was the completion of a rather advanced potion he had been slaving on the entire night.
It was close to dawn now, and a few minutes ago he had added the last of the ingredients, chameleon tongues, and watched as the potion turned from a dark blue to the lightest of yellow. If truth be told, the colour unsettled him slightly, as it reminded him of Snape's ugly decaying teeth, but the colour matched the instructions colour description, right down to the line of "done correctly, the potion will now turn the colour of a light yellow. This colour reminds slightly of Snivellus' ugly rotting teeth."
As he gazed at the sloppy scrawl that had written the instructions, Harry's mind drifted back to when he had received it.
It had been his first day back at Privet Drive, and not many things had changed. Despite the warning the Dursley's had gotten, he had been assigned his list of chores and pretty much ignored after that. As long as he finished his work on time, he was invisible. It was a deal Harry was quite alright with.
The meaningless work and silent treatment the Dursley's gave him had left him with plenty time on his mind to fully process the prophecy and death of Sirius.
He had received letters, all from his friends. All of them condoled him with the death of his godfather and, in many a different form, urged him not to wallow in his grief but enjoy life a but as, "that's what Sirius would have wanted mate."
Oddly enough, Sirius' death had not hit him very extremely hard. The man had been his godfather and was a fun person to be around, but he had not known Sirius Black very well, it did not take away that Harry felt a stab of loss when he was reminded of the charismatic animagus. He had grieved him, just as he had done for Cedric, but he had not sunk into an abyss of despair nor did he feel tears well up in his eyes every time he heard a dog bark. Like Cedric, Sirius had been killed by Voldemort and both deaths would be avenged.
Then, on the second day, as Harry was contemplating possible different meanings to the prophecy, an owl arrived. The owl flew into the middle of his small room and deposited the package it was carrying. Without waiting for Harry to offer the animal some refreshments, the owl took off again, leaving Harry with a mysterious package.
With the words of the overly paranoid ex-auror fresh in his mind, Harry carefully examined the package without touching it. His next step was to throw his pillow at it, just in case it was a touch triggered portkey.
When the package did not move, he started prodding it with an ornate dagger Dudley had gotten for his birthday several years ago. After several minutes of careful prodding, Harry deemed the package safe and swiftly opened it.
The contents seemed to be several wrapped potion ingredients, a potion kit, a collapsible cauldron, a Gringotts key and a sealed letter with the crest of what he recognised as the Black family crest.
Not giving himself any time to wonder if the letter had been sent in relation to Sirius' death, he quickly read it. The content of the letter had left him quite curious what his marauding godfather had dreamed up. The letter read;
If everything has gone according to plan, which was Remus' department most of the time, you received this letter and it's package a day into your summer holiday. I've been cooking up this plan ever since our chat at Grimmauld during Christmas. You told me that you would like to be someone else for a change.
That wish stayed with me, and during the time I was grounded in my own house I started to research multiple ways through which your wish could be achieved.
Now you are probably laughing your arse off at your godfather actually researching, but you can wipe that grin of your face as I have found a foolproof way. I won't bore you with the details, they certainly didn't interest me, but I managed to combine two potions that should get the job done.
Of course, in true Marauder style, it's never been done before and all dangers are at your own risk. On the back of this letter are the instructions to making the potion.
You've probably noticed the Gringotts vault key included in the package, not only is it the key from my personal vault but it is also a portkey that will activate one week from now, at noon.
The potion should take no more than two days to prepare, and another four to simmer and evaporate. Good luck with your endeavour and when the potion works, I'll take you to explore London city and get drunk. I'm going to introduce you to being a teenager, with all it's perks!
See you in seven days,
P.S. Good luck with avoiding the Order members that are standing guard over you.
The letter had been signed with a muddy dog paw. Even after having read the letter over and over, the optimism and excitement the letter almost radiated brought a small smile to Harry's lips.
He had done as his godfather had instructed him to, even though Harry knew making the potion would not bring Sirius back from the grave. It was partially out of curiosity that Harry followed the scheme the animagus had set up, but there was also a part of him that kept wondering if it was really possible, to be someone else than Harry The-Boy-Who-Lived Potter for a change.
Getting past the Order guards had not been too difficult. During his chores he would go to the shed to find some equipment and quickly add some ingredients or stir the potion. The only tricky, and most risky part had been the last phase of the potion, which had been the last seven hours before completion.
But, luckily, that part had gone off without a glitch as well.
Making sure one last time that the potion was ready, Harry carefully placed a lid over the cauldron and moved it to a corner of the shed. There the potion would simmer and stew for another four days.
Satisfied that all he could do now was wait, Harry moved towards the door. As he started to open the door, he suddenly realised he had not thought of a way back into the house. He had been so focused on getting to the potion that he had forgotten to plan his return. Softly cursing at his mistake, Harry thought quick and hard dismissing newly created plans as quickly as he could think them up.
Harry was debating whether he should try to apparate his way back into his room or ask Dobby for help when a loud yell shattered his plans. "BOY, WHERE ARE YOU! THERE ARE STILL SOME UNFINSHED CHORES!"
Knowing he was out of options, Harry quickly grabbed a paintbrush and a can of paint, shot a quick prayer, and marched out of the shed as if there was not a worry on his mind. Walking past a patch of grass that looked suspiciously flattened, Harry caught a whiff of apple scented perfume before he walked past the guard.
Just as Harry reached the house, Vernon stormed out the door, heaving and puffing like a pregnant rhinoceros that was about to charge. Before the obese man could start spraying Harry with spittle and deafen him with his tirade, Harry thrust the paintbrush and the can forwards.
"I wanted to make an early start with the chores, good morning to you too Uncle." Harry pasted an innocently blank look on his face as Vernon eyed him suspiciously. Minutes passed by, and his Uncle's head had returned to its normal beefy colour when he nodded, making his many chins wobble. "Fine then, but you better do it good or you'll be having no dinner, you hear me boy?"
Used to the excessive and unneeded amount of threats, Harry automatically mumbled a "Yes Uncle Vernon" and moved to paint the fence.
As he passed the spot where his suspected his guard for the day was he softly mumbled, "Don't worry, I won't tell Dumbledore you were sleeping and didn't see me leaving the house." Just as he started to feat his bluff hadn't worked he heard, "Thanks." Harry's sigh of relief went unheard.
Luck, Harry mused as he started painting, was something beautiful. Idly he wondered if it were possible to bottle luck, if so, he vowed he would make a fortune selling it.
Albus Dumbledore had a large string of titles to his name, and he had earned them all. Despite his age he was as sharp as he in his twenties, which where roughly one hundred and thirty years ago. Due to his past accomplishments, he was held in great esteem by many wizard and witches. Even the smear campaign funded by Cornelius Fudge had not managed to evaporate the awe many people held of Dumbledore.
Just like Harry, Dumbledore was quite busy that night. The crafty old codger, as many of his opponents called him, was traversing down a deserted Diagon Alley around midnight. His destination was Gringotts, the wizard bank of Europe.
Albus knew that despite their lack of magic, Muggles had learned several important lesson. Such a lesson was, money is power. And Albus Dumbledore knew that all too well. He had seen many government officials climb to higher offices because of donations they had given.
But that was not why Dumbledore was knocking on the closed and forbidden looking gate-like doors of Gringotts. After several minutes, in which Albus absentmindedly plucked a lemon drop from his beard and happily devoured it, a scowling goblin opened the door ever so slightly and snarled, "What do you want, can't you see we're closed."
Before the irate goblin could slam the massive door closed again, Albus quickly intercepted the action. "Excuse me, but I was under the impression that it was Gringott's policy that they were open all hours of the day?" he kindly informed with a twinkle in his eye.
Snarling silently the goblin opened the door wide enough for Dumbledore to squeeze through. Ignoring the ominous sound the door made as it slammed shut again Albus strode forth into the gloomy and darkened hall and stopped at a counter that was manned with a teller.
The only light between them was a flickering oil lantern that cast an eerie contrast over the goblin's face as he looked up. The teller took a minute to appraise the wizard in front of him and then went back to his job; stocking up galleons.
The goblin was doing his best to ignore Albus' presence. Goblins hated ministry officials as many years of ministry restrictions and regulations had taken away much of their prized freedom. Every several decades, the goblins would be fed up with all the rules and restrictions and revolt. Most of the time they were beaten by the wizards and the victors issued new rules upon the defeated.
It was for this reason that Albus Dumbledore was made to wait as he had a high function on the ministry, that of Supreme Mugwump. Used to this kind of cold hostility from the goblins, Albus patiently waited until the goblin would acknowledge his presence.
After having been ignored for a few minutes, Albus decided to change the status quo, he figured he had waited enough. It wasn't as if the goblin in front of him was particularly important. The old wizard suddenly seemed to choke on the lemon drop he had stuck in his mouth a few minutes ago. After gasping for air a few times and thumping himself on the chest, Albus finally managed to dislodge the lethal candy from his airpipe.
The force with which Albus had been coughing was so large that it sent the candy flying. The airborne candy flew through the air and roughly crashed into the gleaming pile of neatly stocked galleons. The unfortunate candy managed to topple the pile, resulting in gleaming galleons flying everywhere, leaving a speechless goblin in it's wake who saw his work from the last four hours be undone by a single lemon drop.
"Dear me, how very clumsy of me. I most sincerely apologise for any inconvenience I have caused you." If look could kill then Albus Dumbledore would be dead before he knew it. Unperturbed by the dirty look sent his way, Albus continued. "Now that you seem to be doing nothing", here the glare intensified, "I was wondering if you could bring manager Stillhammer for me."
Twinkling eyes watched a fuming goblin make its way into the catacombs that made up the offices of Gringotts. Albus was sure that, had he pushed the goblin any further, the creature would start frothing from the mouth and shoot dagger from his eyes.
It wasn't long before a goblin arrived, a different one this time, and showed him further. After some truly disorientating twists and turns they arrived at a ornately crafted oak door with a bronze inscription that read, Stillhammer.
Giving his guide a kind nod, not that it was acknowledged in any form or way, Dumbledore swept into the office. He knew from experience that only the craftiest and most cunning of goblins managed to ascend to the manager profession and the stakes were quite high.
"Good day manager Stillhammer, how nice of you to let me drop by." Albus showed nothing of the nervous tension inside him, he knew that what he was about to do was risky but it had to be done nonetheless. It was for the greater good.
"As far as I recall, it is still just after midnight so I think good night is a better choice of words." The goblin smiled at the wizard in front of him, making sure he showed all his pointy teeth. "What can Gringotts do for the Headmaster of Hogwarts?"
Albus did not respond to the dig at his greeting but merely returned the insincere smile with one of his grandfatherly ones. "Oh but I am not here as the Headmaster, I am here on behalf of one of my charges. I believe you know of him, Harry Potter?"
Only the slightest of widening of the goblin's eyes was the reaction Dumbledore's statement received. After a moment of internal deliberation on Stillhammer's side, the goblin opened a nearby drawer and pulled a file out of it. Dumbledore managed to see the name Harry James Potter before Stillhammer opened the file.
After quickly leafing it through, the goblin spoke. His tone was guarded, weary of what this powerful wizard would want but at the same time he was curious, it was not everyday that the famed Dumbledore meddled so openly in business that did not concern him.
"Mister Potter's finances are more than sufficient to finish his schooling and sustain him for the rest of his life. In fact, it has been calculated that Mister Potter will be able to provide five wives with the means to live comfortably and still have money left."
Filing the number away for another time, Albus set to spinning his web. "Then it goes without saying that Mister Potter has a hefty sum of money lying around here in Gringotts." The manager in front of him had carefully schooled his face into one of polite interest.
"Furthermore, Mister Potter is practically muggleborn. Given the choice I'm sure he'll prefer a muggle bank to a wizard bank. Did you know that muggle banks actually increase the amount of gold their client's store? Imagine what would happen if your clients would find out about this interesting fact."
Albus watched in satisfaction as the goblin in front of him grew paler with each passing sentence. It was only years of occlumency that he didn't let a smug smile reach his face.
Stillhammer knew he had been driven into a corner and could do nothing more than open the negotiations. "I validate your concerns. What do you propose we can do about it?"
It was not until 6 in the morning that both parties finally agreed. The ongoing negotiations could have been mistaken for a friendly discussion by anybody that would happen to eavesdrop. In the end, it was a satisfied Albus Dumbledore that left Gringotts and a pensive Stillhammer that was left to ponder the newest development in the oncoming war.
It was only after the doorkeeper had confirmed the Headmaster had left Gringotts that manager Stillhammer quickly headed towards his superior to inform him of what had happened.
It was most fortunate even though he had made a personal appearance in the Ministry of Magic itself, the world still remained ignorant of his return. He, Lord Voldemort, had decided to adjust his strategy and built up his forces and allies whilst keeping raids as low as possible.
It was, if he did say so himself, a most ingenious plan, worthy of the great Salazar Slytherin himself. Twirling his wand, Voldemort motioned Bellatrix forward.
"Speak Bellatrix, have you obtained the schedules I asked of you?" Surpressing the urge to curse the twisted woman off of him as she snivelled at his robes, Voldemort opted for simply hauling her to her feet. "Speak woman, do you have what I seek?"
Feeling herself get hot under the murderous gaze of those red eyes, Bellatrix pushed her chest forward in an attempt to heighten her sex appeal, unfortunately she had temporarily forgotten the damage Azkaban had done to her body, not to mention mind.
Even for Lord Voldemort, he who had faced demons and laughed them in the face, the sight of Bellatrix Lestrange trying to seduce him was slightly unsettling. Grabbing the offered schedules, Voldemort took two steps back to regain his personal space.
"You have served me well Bella, you shall have your reward shortly but for now, lay low until I call you again." After having dismissed the insane, yet still quite useful Death Eater, Voldemort swiftly erected the necessary wards to insure his safety and privacy.
Taking a quick glance around him, the greatest Dark Lord since Salazar himself concluded that his current residence was far below the standards set for Evil Overlords. Putting that train of thought aside for the moment, Voldemort quickly browsed through the schedules Bellatrix had provided him with.
It was a detailed overview of the temporary holding cells that housed a good number of his Death Eaters that had been arrested in the Ministry of Magic. Ironically enough, they had not changed the guard schedules or defensive wards since the last time he had busted out his loyal followers.
Smirking, Voldemort composed a plan to free his Death Eaters. Sometimes being a Dark Lord was just too easy Lord Voldemort thought as he started cackling evil, scaring the wildlife in the surrounding area.
After his cackling had subsided, Voldemort put the schedules away. It was time to get some things written down so that he could determine his priorities easier. Making lists had been one of the few habits, other than torturing muggles, that Voldemort still indulged in every now and then. For some strange reason, listing things simply helped his evil brain speed up its plotting. Mentally shrugging at the oddity, Lord Voldemort selected his finest quill and parchment and started composing a list of things to do.
Of course he wrote it in Parseltongue as making a list with things to do was only something some wanna-be independent teenager rebelling against his overmanipulative grandfather would do and it would not do at all if his followers would get that type of impression from him. With a flourish Voldemort finished his list, and glanced through it.
Lord Voldemort's list of Doom
1) Get a new place of operation, preferably an unplottable evil castle
2) Get a new look, current one is just too 60's
3) Get new followers and allies
4) Kill Potter
5) Kill Dumbledore
6) Get trunk, preferably with multiple rooms so that I can hide all those bodies
7) Gain immortality
Satisfied that his list covered most of his important goals, Voldemort once again starting cackling insanely. It would only be a matter of time before those filthy muggles would be history.
After having finished his diabolical bout of evil laughter, Voldemort decided it time for some fun. With a quick hiss he sent one of his snakes to find Wormtail, and bring the blubbering fool to him. Voldemort only used these species of snakes to summon his Death Eaters if they were in another room of the house, it was more efficient that making their Mark burn.
It was not long before a bumbling Wormtail shuffled into the room. The animagus immediately fell to his knees and tried to kiss the hem of Voldemort's robes. Not in the mood to have his robe dirtied, the Dark Lord responded with a swift kick to the face.
After the customary snivelling and grovelling, Voldemort handed Wormtail the parchment. "Read this to me Wormtail."
Peter Pettigrew knew he was in trouble when he spotted the cruel glint in the Dark Lord's eyes. But it wasn't until he tried to decipher the writing that he started to panic. "M-Master, I cannot read this" he squeaked.
Added some magic to his eyes so that they flashed dangerously, Voldemort towered ominously over the now shaking rat animagus. "What do you mean, do you dare disobey my order?" Voldemort hissed in a deceptively silk voice. When Wormtail started sweating and shaking uncontrollably, the effect Voldemort had been looking for, he aimed his wand. "Read the parchment to me or suffer my displeasure."
Peter frantically turned the parchment upside down in hopes that the writing would magically become legible. He managed to stutter "Master, I-I cannot" before Voldemort hit him with a curse that caused the pressure on his ears to increase exponentially. Peter screamed in pain as he felt his eardrums burst.
Smiling cruelly as blood leaked out from the rat's ears, Voldemort fired a different torturing curse that ripped his skin from his body at him. Lord Voldemort starting laughing over Wormtail's screams of agony. It was so fun to mess with his followers' minds and then start cursing them. Yes, it definitely was good to be a Dark Lord, he mused as he absentmindedly cast marrow-heating spell.
Marius Whyte surveyed other prominent members of his family talk at the table. It filled his heart with pride to see his family gathered like this, united by the blood that streamed through their veins. Had his father still been alive, Marius was sure the old Whyte would be radiating in pride of his son.
A beautiful woman appeared at his side. Her whole poise demanded respect and her gait was as elegant as a gazelle. "My Lord, my apologies for my tardiness but there were other issues that demanded my presence."
Facing her to kiss her hand in greeting, Marius softly murmured, "Milady de Wit, your company sets this room alight with your evangelic beauty. Please take a seat, I will address everybody shortly."
Marius waited several minutes before he climbed to his feet. Instantly, an expectant hush fell over everyone present. "Friends, family. For longer than we can remember we have fought against our sworn enemy; the Blacks. This family received its name for being so utterly vile and evil that the blood that flowed in their veins was as black as their hearts.
Long ago, our forefathers vowed to utterly destroy them. Yesterday, my sources within the ministry have confirmed that the last of Blacks, Sirius Orion Black has perished. He has no heir to pass his name on to. Soon, the family of Black will perish and the Whytes shall have prevailed!"
A roar of approval went up to greet his words.
AN: That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed it and comments are more than welcome.
And my thanks to Captain Yarrgh for taking the time to beta this chapter