Harry learns something; without Hermione's help for once.
"Be careful strapping her on that rack. We want her to be uncomfortable, not in pain. Not yet, at least."
The group of Minions maneuvering the unconscious body of Umbridge cackled at their new Mistress's instructions, while Harry looked on, amused at how devoted they were to Luna. Not for the first time, he marveled at how little he knew about the blonde, even with their numerous connections over the years. Despite her… oddness, Harry found himself enjoying her company far more with the passing time. They had so much in common, so much to offer each other. Not to mention, Harry thought, ogling Luna's shapely bottom, she's not bad to look at.
The blonde in question caught Harry's wandering eyes. Abandoning her task, she sashayed her way over to Harry, the impish smile on her face setting Harry's heart racing. She stopped in front of him, eyes dancing with mischief. "Do you like what you see, my Lord?"
Repressing the urge to just nod dumbly, Harry grinned and replied, "What do you think?"
"What do I think?" Luna asked, chewing on her lip. After a moment, she reached up, trailing a finger down his cheek, finally resting against his lips. "I'll tell you later, in your chambers." With that, she spun around and went back to directing Minions.
The breathless and flushed Harry she had left behind her took a moment to start breathing again. "Gnarl, quickly tell me more about this spell you were talking about."
The old Minion was already at his side. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather take care of your Mistress, m'Lord? We can always delay your plans a few hours."
"Don't tempt me."
Gnarl chuckled quietly. "Aw you wish, Sire. As I said before, this "spell" is the base for the three curses your society calls the Unforgivables. In antiquity, it used to be a spell just as you Fireball is, but since then has become such an integral part of the role of The Overlord, its magicks have become a part of the font of power that is unique to you and your predecessors."
"You're saying the spell evolved somehow? How does that work?"
Gnarl seemed to struggle with the question for a moment. "In truth, Sire, the subtleties of magic and its essences is not my forte. Another lead Minion by the name of Mortis might be able to better answer your questions, but at another time. Suffice it to say, we have witnessed some spells change over time while others like the Fireball remain relatively unchanged throughout the centuries.
Harry nodded, at least accepting the basics if nothing else. If Hermione was here, she'd be sure to have a lengthy discussion… No, best not think of her right now. "What do you call it?"
"The Evil Presence, Lord."
Harry bristled at the name. Throwing a ball of fire at someone was one thing, but using magic that was so Dark it even described itself by name as Evil… "How does it work?"
"Well, the process is fairly straightforward. Essentially, you are imposing your will upon someone for a period of time. If and when you release your hold on them, their will becomes subservient to your own – the basis of what you would consider the Imperius curse, albeit a more powerful and permanent version of it."
"And if I don't release the power?"
The malicious grin on Gnarl's face was answer enough. "The original Avada Kedavra, m'Lord. Continue to impose your will on your victim long enough or strongly enough, and you will eventually force their soul or consciousness or what have you out of the body. True, the spell you're familiar with does the job more quickly, but it's so impersonal, so dull. Where's the fun in an immediate, silent kill, eh?"
Harry wasn't exactly sure how he felt at Gnarl's revelations – discomfort, if not revulsion, was near the top of the list – but he was adamant on finishing the conversation. "Where does the Cruciatus aspect come in?"
"I should have though it rather obvious that having one's essence forcibly subjugated by another would not be a pleasant experience, Sire."
Harry grunted in affirmation. He didn't like his options as they stood. Torturing a woman into submission, even one as foul as Umbridge, into subjugation? "Why not simply Imperius her?"
At his, Gnarl actually burst into laughter, both surprising and annoying Harry. "Sorry, master, sorry. You are quite the comedian. Thinking you'd be able to cast an advanced curse like the Imperius correct the first time when it takes hours of practice to learn something as simple as levitation? The idea is simply absurd. Even then, why chance using a spell with such a history of being resisted and risk being discovered?"
Harry was forced to accept the logic on all counts; the Minions might be only slightly smarter than sheep (which, according to Gnarl, had only seven brain cells) but Gnarl had been around the block several dozen times. He knew what he was talking about. "Fine. How would I use this Evil Presence, then?"
"The same as you use your Fireball, Sire," Gnarl said slowly. The way he looked at Harry made him feel as if Gnarl was treating him like a child.
Harry felt his frustration mounting. "But how? I don't even know how it is I've been doing THAT."
"…Apologies, Master. I sometimes forget your upbringing. All that focus on namby-pamby wand-waving and obsession with doing Good." Harry sighed in relief, sensing he was finally about to get answers. "Tell me, what were you thinking and feeling during the wedding when you decided to start setting those henchman on fire rather than using your wand?"
The answer came immediately. "I was furious. They barged into the wedding, killed Bill, tried to kill everyone else there. All because I happened to be present. I just couldn't take it anymore. They had to be punished."
Gnarl nodded. "Now, if my knowledge is correct, you are able to cast the spell known as the Patronus Charm correctly, yes?" Harry also nodded, vaguely wondering if the Dementors had some connection to the Overlord or the Netherworld. "Yeuch. Nasty spell for us Evil folk. Obviously, you know the primary necessity that makes the spell work."
"A truly happy thought." When Gnarl did not respond, it took Harry only a moment to make the connection. "What, you're saying that my 'Overlord spells' are fueled by anger?"
"Correct, though not the full picture. Any negative emotion is the catalyst for the usage of your powers. When you decided to make Death Eater toast, you were filled with a righteous rage at their intrusion and massacre at the wedding. When you battled the Graphorn, presumably you were filled with a more personal fury at his preventing you from coming back to the Netherworld. Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. These are the fundamental sources of your power."
"Oh, Master!" A sing-song voice interrupted their discussion, heralding the arrival of Luna, and distracting Harry from what on earth – or under earth – he thought about this new revelation from Gnarl. "Your prisoner awaits your Evil ministrations." The blonde must have noticed Harry's hesitation, however, as her tone quickly changed. "Is something the matter?"
"Maybe… I just… I wonder if this is right or even necessary. The thought of torturing someone into servitude… It's inhumane."
Gnarl growled in exasperation, muttering about the good days when Overlords didn't have existential crises all the time. Luna blinked slowly. "Oh, poor Harry. You must be suffering from amnesia. The Flumpawumps have got hold of you for sure."
"Uh, what makes you think that?"
What next came out of Luna's mouth was in her usual dreamy voice. It was pleasant to hear, and Harry quite enjoyed listening to her. To Harry, however, the disconnect between what was said and how it was said made it possibly the most frightening thing he had ever heard.
"It's obvious. That's the only way you could possibly forget how much of a horrid person that despicable toad in the next room is. The same toad, for that's all she is, that ruled over the school with an iron fist, punishing any who disagreed with her. The same toad that tortured you by forcing you and countless other to cut open their hands night after night for daring to speak the truth. The same toad that sat by Fudge's side and allowed Voldemort to gain power unchallenged because she was too much of a sheep to an incompetent power-hungry simpleton. If there is one person in this world other than Voldemort who is deserving of horrific punishment, it is Delores Jane Umbridge. Now, Harold James Potter, you go into that torture chamber and put the fear of the Overlord into that woman."
Stunned silence was her answer.
Harry stood still, shocked into silence and more than a little bit of fear.
Gnarl was appalled, and seethed with rage at the toady woman, and the audacity of anyone, even a Mistress, speaking to the Overlord in such a way.
The other Minions scratched their bums and picked their noses, neither knowing nor caring why everyone was suddenly quiet.
It was Harry who finally broke the long silence.
Luna immediately looked confused. "Oh, is Harry not short for Harold? Phooey…"
Harry shook his head, bemused, when Gnarl interjected, "Your Mistress is quite right, Sire. Such vile atrocities committed against your Lordship are unpardonable! If it were up to me, the woman would find herself thrown into the smelter alive, while we slowly dripped in lava. I'll go wake the toad for you, Lord."
Gnarl left, mumbling more inventive torture methods under his breath, as Luna gave Harry one more look. "Are you sure you can do this, Harry?"
He nodded confidently. "Yes. You're right, Luna. That vile woman has hurt too many people. She deserves this more than just about anyone. And you reminded me of something else too." At Luna's silent urgings, he continued, "The day of the wedding, as I fought off those Death Eaters, I realized that stunning and disarming did nothing but allow good people to die by leaving the evil ones alive. That was the day I decided to take up this mantle, to become The Overlord. I knew that to save my friends, I had to do anything and everything in order to end these bastards, even if it meant abandoning the 'Light'. I can't afford mercy to my enemies, because I know they won't return the favor."
"I'm so glad to hear that, Harry." Luna gave him a swift kiss, then grabbed his helm and placed it upon his head. "Dramatics are very important, after all."
"Fine. But only if you take all my armour off later."
"Ooh, is that a command, my Dark Master?"
"I can make it one."
Luna's smile only widened. "You're learning."
Gnarl took this opportunity to re-enter the room, informing Harry that Umbridge was now conscious and ready for interrogation, and Luna ushered Harry away with words of encouragement. Harry took one last second to adjust his helmet and steel his resolve, then entered the room. He didn't know what the future held, but he knew now that he would never again wait passively for it to come to him. Now was the time for action.
A/N: I had originally intended to include the torture of Umbridge, but it just keeps going and going. I found so much material to expand upon here, I decided to separate the scenes for your enjoyment and for my update schedule. Also, kudos if anyone gets the Flumpawumps reference; I'll bring it up again next chapter. Feel free to speculate on what's going to happen, I do so enjoy reviews with substance, though simple ones are welcome as well. Specifically, whether you like my sense of humour/whether you think it fits the story. Woops, there I go begging for reviews again, how unprofessional. Til next time!