Just wrapping up a few loose ends...
/ Parseltongue /
Thoughts & Mindspeech
/August 3rd, Unplottable Location/
"I would suggest you all brush up on your skills if this is what you will be facing. Oh, and Bella? Do not fail me again."
He turned his wand on her and whispered a spell almost lovingly.
Thrashing and screaming on the floor for a surprisingly short period of time, Bellatrix shakily forced herself back into a kneeling position and bowed her head as shame filled her being. She had let a sixteen year old boy with a fraction of her experience best her in a full out duel. Bellatrix Lestrange had failed her Master and she knew that she deserved whatever punishment he chose to bestow upon her.
Watching the penitent woman move to kneel before him yet again, Voldemort's lips curled up in an open expression of disappointment and barely veiled disgust.
"Look at me, Bella. I want your memory of the duel."
Looking up obediently despite, or perhaps because of the pain she knew the Dark Lord would inflict during his use of Legilimency, Bellatrix focused on the memory in question so that it would be the first thing in her thoughts. Flinching visibly when the angry presence that was the Dark Lord filled her mind, she did her best to remain quiet as he pulled up several other memories as well.
Pulling the memory of the recent duel up with practiced ease, Voldemort viewed it rapidly and set it aside for later consideration. Moving on to Bella's memories of her brief scuffles with Harry at the Ministry, he repeated the process of viewing and setting aside the images.
His little Serpent seemed to have rather abruptly grown fangs and the instinctual response to bite whatever bothered him at the time. Voldemort was curious if the events in Diagon Alley were the first actual manifestations of this darker edge to his little Serpent's personality or if the signs had been available for some time, had any one bothered to look. It's about time I bothered to look, he mused. It's past time.
Making sure he had all of the memories he wished to go over more thoroughly, Voldemort withdrew from the woman's mind and smirked viciously.
"Leave my sight, all of you! Oh, and Bella...when next you gather my new Death Eaters for training, you will all be training with me."
/August 3rd, Office of Amelia Bones, Department of Magical Law Enforcement/
Settling back in her seat with a low groan, Amelia Bones set her monocle on the desk and rubbed at her eyes while she contemplated what she knew of the day's unprecedented events even as her mind offered up images of the destruction that had occurred in that small section of Diagon Alley.
"The Death Eaters apparated in," she mused aloud and could almost see the frantic crowds as they tried to escape the black robed bogey men. "An unknown wizard ordered what must have been a retainer or servant of some sort to get people under cover while he advanced to openly challenge Bellatrix Lestrange as if he knew her personally."
Frowning over what she had just said, Amelia replaced her monocle and picked up the transcripts of the witness interviews. Skimming through, she paused and reread one account before nodding.
"Our nameless wizard called her by name and taunted her after his opening attack, so he had to know her somehow, whether personally or indirectly. The first few salvo's were relatively calm on his part, being composed mostly of Reductos and a few more advanced spells until she returned the taunting and seemed to anger him with something she said, at which point they traded shots with equal viciousness." Amelia read through some of the other accounts again and shuddered. "Equal only in the nature of the spells; from the looks of things she was facing someone who was clearly way out of her league, resulting in her panicked flight."
Marvelling over the buoyant mood of many of the witnesses given their close scrapes with death, she came to one clear conclusion. This wizard's bold and fearless attack on one of the most feared Death Eaters alive had given the people a renewed attitude of hope they hadn't shown since the news of Voldemort's return had been announced.
"No bystander deaths...copious collateral damage...well, which would you rather have, old girl? Broken buildings and living people or dead people and pristine buildings?" Amelia had to admit that the deadly focus of the attacking wizard seemed to have kept the Death Eaters so thoroughly focused on him that they never had a chance to get up to their usual mischief and all but one of the buildings would be repaired in a matter of days. Magic was a beautiful thing. "Who are you? I haven't seen anyone duel like that since Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort..."
Thinking about the Pensive memory she had seen of the duel between Albus and Voldemort in the atrium, Amelia wondered what would have happened if Albus had been the one duelling Bellatrix as he duelled now and shuddered. She somehow doubted they would have had so few bystander injuries since the other Death Eaters might have felt less cowed, allowing them the freedom to continue their mischief and mayhem around the duelling pair.
"You weren't always so restrained, Albus. I remember when you duelled against Grindelwald and that was one of the wildest, most unrestrained duels I've ever seen," she mused and thought on how the older wizard had changed over the years from a bright, charismatic and attractively powerful man into the still intensely charismatic and powerful, but manipulative and secretive man he was today. Thinking along those lines led her to a recollection of the day she had been invited to join a 'greater' cause.
- - - Flashback - - -
Settling herself in a seat across from Albus, Amelia arched an eyebrow at him and smiled a little.
"What was it you wanted to talk to me about, Headmaster Dumbledore?"
"You're a strong and intelligent woman, Amelia, and one who is in a prominent position to make a difference in the war against Voldemort. I have a proposal for you that could make your position even stronger," Albus replied with a smile, eyes twinkling merrily.
"I'm listening," Amelia stated even as she adjusted her monocle and resisted the urge to frown suspiciously. She didn't know why she didn't like the sound of this, but something in her gut told her it wouldn't sit very well.
"With proper guidance the wizarding world could become an ideal home for all of us, Amelia. Right now, that guidance is weak and has been corrupted by violence and greed," Albus began. "I want to help make our world better, to help make it into an ideal environment for our people to grow and be happy in. There is one group devoted to the cause of ushering this Golden Age in to being for the wizarding world, a group solidly in opposition to Voldemort and his violent and dark ideas of change and conquest."
"What group would that be?" Just hearing Dumbledore speak in such an impassioned way about this ideal society where everyone would be happy and peaceful made Amelia nervous. Several groups had attempted some form of Utopian society over time and none of them had ever been more than marginally successful. In her opinion, humans simply weren't cut out for perfect peace - they fought tooth and nail for everything they achieved as if it were intrinsically tied in with their need to breathe. They would begin to stagnate and die in such a controlled environment...until Dark Lord after Dark Lord rose to give the people the strife and external motivation they required. She swallowed carefully and continued to give Albus her full attention despite her misgivings.
"The Order of the Phoenix is the name of the group I am referring to. I want to invite you to join our ranks, Amelia. I invite you to help me, to help us, in our quest to make our world a safe and perfect one for our children. Surely you would want that for your self; wouldn't you want that safety and sense of security for Susan? Surely you want your niece to be able to live without fear," Albus murmured softly and cajolingly.
Feeling herself being lulled and warmed by that seductive tone and the power that was laced through it like an intoxicatingly strong whiskey, Amelia steeled herself against the uninvited intrusion and frowned when that comforting feeling faded away as her mental shields re-asserted them selves.
"I will have to think on it, Headmaster Dumbledore. Given my position in the Ministry, such things cannot be taken lightly," Amelia replied and stood. "I appreciate your hospitality, but I must return to my duties."
- - - End Flashback - - -
Rubbing her arms as a bone deep chill filled her, Amelia shook her head.
"Dark Lord after Dark Lord...we've had three in less than sixty years if you count Riddle separately from Voldemort...and now there's this new wizard..." Based on the accounts she had read, she was only too aware that this man's respect for life might very well not be limitless given how badly he had hurt the Death Eaters that had managed to target him. What would have happened if the bystanders had targeted him as well? Somehow she didn't think things would have turned out nearly so well. Sighing sharply, she growled and really wished the masked bastards hadn't all had emergency port keys presumably keyed to Bellatrix's.
A quiet knock pulled her from her irritated contemplation and she sighed.
"What is it?"
Angela poked her head into the Director's office and smiled at the frazzled older woman.
"This just came for you, Director. I think the Prophet is a little leery of messing up on this one," the young witch stated with a smirk. "The delivery boy was so nervous /I /could have scared him to death."
Smiling a little despite her mood, Amelia beckoned her secretary in and sighed when she saw what had to be a proof copy of the Daily Prophet's most recent edition.
"A proof copy? You may be right on with that assessment, Angela. Thank you. Has anything further come in from the investigations going on in Diagon Alley?"
"Nothing new so far, Director. Would you like some tea? It might be a long night..."
"Tea sounds lovely, dear. Thank you." Amelia opened the newspaper and the very first thing she saw was a picture taken from behind the wizard who had attacked Bellatrix. It showed him practically looming over her, bone white wand aimed at the terrified woman who lay cringing on the ground at his feet. Savouring the fear on the evil woman's face, Amelia felt a twinge of guilt shoot through the elation this picture inspired; could she really gloat over seeing anyone, even Lestrange brought so low? Smirking a little she decided that, yes, she most certainly could gloat over such a thing and sat back to enjoy the hope and freedom that image made her feel.
"Oh, the people are going to eat this up," she breathed. "Who of us thought we would ever get to see that mad woman afraid of anyone?" Still smiling a little bit, Amelia focused on the first article and was surprised at how non-confrontational it was. "I see what Angela meant...it's possible that they are afraid of making whoever he is mad at them, so they reined themselves in...good show. Good show, indeed." Reading on, she relaxed some and settled in to wait for further information from her investigative teams.
/The Daily Prophet - Front Page - Special Morning Edition August 4th, 1996/
/A NEW REASON FOR HOPE? /
As the photo above demonstrates, there is no one who cannot be beaten in a duel - no one who cannot be made to feel fear for their life. Whom ever this wizard is, whether he be Light or Dark, we owe him a great deal of thanks for the deaths of nearly a dozen Death Eaters and the resounding demonstration that Bellatrix Lestrange is not without weakness.
Diagon Alley took a great deal of damage during the fast and furious duel that took place there today just as the sun was setting, but the damage was almost entirely collateral. Only five individuals were injured seriously enough to be taken to St. Mungo's for treatment and of those, only two were serious enough to require an overnight stay.
Though the damage to Diagon Alley was appalling it can be repaired in a matter of days. Lives cannot be replaced. Thank you, who ever you are, regardless of your personal motivations. Today this reporter saw a reason to hope that this war will eventually come to an end with something of our society left intact.
Do not be fooled my fellow Wizards and Witches. This is but the beginning of a new era and we must change to meet it! Today proved to me as nothing else ever could have that we must fight for what we believe in and to protect those we love. Do not sit idly by and wait for someone to save you. We must save our selves if we are to survive this new war.
/RIVAL DARK LORD OR VIGILANTE JUSTICE? /
Just barely an hour ago, this reporter witnessed one of the most terrifyingly destructive duels of current times. Over a dozen Death Eaters apparated into Diagon Alley near Gringotts Bank and barely got a spell off before a mysterious, black cloaked and hooded wizard directly challenged Bellatrix Lestrange to a duel and proceeded to attack her without mercy.
Many store fronts were damaged terribly or destroyed completely as spells flew every which way and rebounded from the combatant's shields. It must be stated that this duel became so violent that the rest of the Death Eaters - those who were alive and well enough to do so - took cover to save their own cowardly skins. Bellatrix Lestrange fled from this unknown wizard, her fear as clear as day on her face.
Who was this new wizard to make You Know Who's left hand woman cower in fear for her life? Was this a personal vendetta against Lestrange alone or was there another motive? Only time will tell and this reporter intends to find out. Until then, we can all only hope that the light has a new Champion against evil.
/August 3rd, Snape Manor/
Picking up the tightly rolled piece of parchment that Harry had laid on the kitchen table once he had calmed down enough to be truly conversational again, Remus eyed the younger wizard a little more cautiously than usual.
"Whatever is on this parchment really set you off earlier today while we were at Gringotts. Are you sure you want to get into it now?"
"I need to know what really happened to lead up to what you'll find on that parchment," Harry stated calmly. "I'm going to go to the library and read and you two can do what ever you want to try and figure it out. It's not something I want to deal with right now, so please leave me out of it until tomorrow at the earliest." With that statement made, he turned on his heel and left the dining room in a swirl of billowing robes.
"That was just strange," Severus observed dryly. "Has he had this attitude all along or was I too blinded by my own need for atonement to notice?"
"Hmm? Part of it he had from the time we brought him here and yes, I think you were blind to it most of the time," the werewolf mused and unrolled the genealogy onto the table so they could both go over it at the same time. "This...almost arrogant presence, though? That appeared rather abruptly just before his duel with Bellatrix and it has been fading since you two fought it out, but..."
"But it's still clearly noticeable," Severus finished for Remus. Leaning over the parchment with the werewolf, he traced the Potter line back to Gryffindor with ease. "Well, he was right when he said nothing looks out of the ordinary on the Potter side," he mused.
"It isn't the Potter side that set him off though." Remus drew the spy's gaze to the Evan's line and traced it up, only to stop a generation back and circle his finger between two names. "Ambrosius Reginald Evans...the very late Lord Evans that Harry said was actually Lord Grindelwald and Tom Marvolo Riddle..."
"The Dark Lord is his grandfather and Grindelwald is his great grandfather..." Severus pulled out a chair and sat down slowly as the potential ramifications of that kind of family history hit him like a ton of bricks. Many characteristics tended to follow family lines and Harry's maternal line of descent was full of Dark Lords.
"What do you really think are the odds that Lily's mother had consensual relations with Tom Riddle?"
"I don't think it's very likely at all, but he always could be a charming and seductive bastard when he wanted to be, or so I have been told, in any case..." Remus shook his head and nudged Severus. "You fell for the bait at one time yourself."
"Yes, but for power, not for sex," Severus pointed out. "I don't know if he ever had any lovers on the side that were anything more than a way for him to vent his frustrations and fill his physical needs...he's too possessive for something so casual as that...and she was Grindelwald's daughter...that would have been a major score for him if he knew who she was."
"A major score...yes, she would have been that," Remus admitted. "Look at Lily...she was beautiful and strong. If her mother was anything like her on top of being the child of the late Dark Lord, then I fully agree. So, how do we go about getting the information that Harry is requesting?"
"We can't very well just go walk into St. Mungo's and the Ministry and ask for it," Severus declared. "And with Albus looking for you, you couldn't do it anyway."
"We can't as things stand right now, no...and I agree about my need to not show my face publicly for the time being." Remus grinned. "As it stands, I need to check on something, but if I'm right, it wouldn't put either of us in any more of a pickle than we're already in thanks to the ritual vows and it would give us the legal authority to get information and set things up on Harry's request..."
"I'm not going to like this, am I, Wolf?" Severus asked with a thunderous scowl.
"I don't know. You might. You might not...but how do you like the sound of Steward Snape and Chamberlain Lupin?" Remus grinned wolfishly.
Severus sat back further in his seat and eyed Remus for several long moments before his face took on a considering, calculating expression that soon turned into a smirk.
"You're talking about the old Retainer Oath, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. I'm going to look into it before I formally propose it to Harry. I want to make sure it isn't going to make things worse instead of better in a twisted way..." The werewolf laughed a little. "I'm not sure how I'm managing to handle one master, as it were. How do you manage with three very powerful Masters who all think they have your complete loyalty?"
"Three?" Severus snorted. "I only have one Master and he scares the hell out of me lately. The Dark Lord and Albus...I can predict what they're going to do and they are definitely not my masters no matter how much they would like to think so..."
"What brought you to this realization?" Remus asked, his amber eyes bright with curiosity. The spy seemed a great deal more relaxed and settled since his verbal battle with Harry and he wondered if this epiphany had occurred during that same battle of wills.
"I remembered my vow while we were fighting...right about the time he started to turn that new wand of his on me." The potions master eyed Remus intently. "I could feel the bloody wave of power rising right along with his hand...what the hell is that thing made of? He'd have killed me in the mood he was in..."
"That was probably the one time during your spat that I got worried," Remus admitted and then sat up straighter, eyes going wide as he recalled one of the things he was supposed to do. "Oh, bollocks, Fang! Yes, we definitely need to talk about that and you need to make anti-venom!"
"What are you going on about, Wolf?"
"Harry's new wand is made from the fang of that Basilisk he killed in second year. Ollivander said it will remain deadly for centuries, possibly permanently now that it is being used as a wand...So we need anti-venom in case one of us touches the wand accidentally or out of necessity...might not hurt to make one for Harry's blood, too," the werewolf mused as an afterthought. He all too clearly recalled the acrid scent of poison that filled the air whenever the teen had cut him self during the day's proceedings.
Severus swore he could feel the colour draining from his own face when Remus explained why they were going to need Basilisk anti-venom. A Basilisk fang wand?! How the bloody hell...
"He isn't affected by it?"
"Not a bit and even Ollivander was surprised by that. Didn't you notice that he handled it with his bare hands at Gringotts?" Remus asked with an arched eyebrow.
"I suppose I didn't think anything of it. He handled it like it was an ordinary plain piece of bone...and I honestly didn't think about the fang's potential properties since the beast it belonged to was already dead. We need to pull out my Pensive so you can show me what went on at Ollivander's and then duel in the Alley..." Visibly shaken, but recovering quickly, Severus focused on Remus with an intent stare. "He scared you, too, didn't he?" There was no doubt or question in Severus' tone when he made his statement.
"Merlin's balls, yes...I've never seen anything like that duel..."
"So give me a moment to fetch my Pensive and you can show me this incredible duel," Severus stated and hurried off to do just that.
Shaking his head, Remus groaned and shook his head. He was torn between wanting to see the duel again from a safe perspective with the input of an impartial observer and never wanting to see his cub cast those dark spells ever again. Composing himself, he focused himself on the two major events he wanted to share with the potions master so he could move them to the Pensive with greater ease.
"Are you sure you're up to this, Moony? We can wait..."
"No, it's alright. You need to know what went on and for all I know, you'll see something important that wouldn't mean anything to me."
"We'll see." Severus sat the enchanted bowl in front of Remus and then returned to his own seat. "Which memory will we be viewing first?"
"We'll view the two in order; first the wand making at Ollivander's, then the duel outside in the Alley. It's practically one continuous memory, anyway, so it will be easier to follow it that way." Taking a deep breath, Remus touched his wand to his temple and withdrew a silvery strand of luminescence which he then dropped into the Pensive. Looking into the swirling silver mist, the werewolf arched an eyebrow and raised his head to meet Severus' gaze. "Shall we? This is going to take a while."
Dropping into the memory as if from a great height, the two men took a moment to look around and relaxed into the familiar setting that was Ollivander's wand shop. They watched as Harry and Remus stepped into the shop and were greeted by Ollivander.
Turning his gaze to the tallest of the pair, Ollivander smiled slightly.
"I almost didn't recognize you, Mr. Potter. Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple, superb for defence and charms and good for transfiguration. How is it serving you?"
Severus gestured to pause the memory play-back spell and shook his head at Moony.
"Ollivander almost didn't recognize him? That creepy old man recognizes everyone including the Dark Lord regardless of glamour charms and a change of body."
"I admit it does make one think now that I can view the conversation as an observer," the werewolf mused. "I wasn't aware of him being that different."
"Indeed," Severus mused and re-started the memory. Dark eyes following the interaction between Harry and Ollivander, the potions master had to chuckle a bit. "Ollivander does seem to like Harry, though."
"I think he does genuinely like him," Remus agreed and continued to observe.
"Ah, so you need a duelling wand, something you can pour some power into without the worry of damage to the wand itself." The silver eyed wand maker studied Harry intently before arching an eyebrow. "May I see your replacement wand? I'm curious what worked for you now that you seem to have outgrown your first wand."
Pulling the red lacquered wand out of its forearm holster, Harry laid it on the counter and watched Ollivander intently.
"Dobby found it in a bin of used wands at a junk shop in Knockturn Alley."
"A junk shop?!" Ollivander threw the teen an indignant look while he studied the red wand. "What tragedy brought this beauty to such a lowly place...though in the end, it has found a worthy home..." He sighed.
"If memory serves me, which it rarely fails to do, then this is an Imperial wand," Ollivander explained. "Given the quality and the fact that the core is an Imperial Dragon heartstring, I feel safe in guessing that it may have belonged to one of the Emperor's during the Ming Dynasty."
Severus half choked when Ollivander announced the wand's origin.
"Ming Dynasty?! How the bloody hell..!?" Severus stared at Moony disbelievingly and then returned to watching.
"That's what Ollivander said, Severus. I don't know one way or the other and didn't see a point in questioning the judgement of the creepy old man, as you so charmingly dubbed him."
Shooting a sharp glance over at Remus, Severus shook his head and gave his focus back to the memory once more. Following the trio into the older wizard's workroom, he looked around briefly before turning back to study the memory Harry and Ollivander.
"What do you want me to cast?" The raven haired teen twirled his wand between his fingers for a moment before settling into a relaxed looking duelling stance.
"Did you notice that, Moony? The way he twirled his wand through his fingers..."
"Yeah, so? He's been doing that off and on at least since we snatched him up. What makes it so important?" Remus squeezed Severus shoulder gently and hoped the spy would relax some.
"The Dark Lord does that all the time when he's thinking," Severus replied and nodded to acknowledge Remus' attempt at comfort. "I'll be fine, Moony. It's just a little disturbing to see how similar they are...especially now that He's taking the restoration potions..."
Remus nodded and redirected Severus to watch Harry in the casting range. He couldn't help but grin when that first reducto screamed down the length of the range and impacted against the wall with a dull rumble.
"Those aren't supposed to be that bright. Every thing I cast with this wand seems to come out more powerful than I planned anyway, so maybe that's what it is..."
Ollivander smiled encouragingly and nodded.
"A truly well matched wand will do that. Unfortunately this wand cannot handle your full capability, but go ahead and push a little. Let me get a feel for your magic."
"Okay...how about a Patronus? That was one I could do with my old wand, so it might still work with this one."
"That's reasonable. Go ahead and try."
A contented smile curved the teen's lips and he raised his wand. Dropping it abruptly, Harry hissed angrily while shaking his obviously burned hand. He froze when Ollivander caught his hand between both of his own and whispered something under his breath.
"Yes, that first spell was just a Reducto," Remus stated before Severus could even ask. "A low powered one according to his estimation."
"He very nearly overloaded the wand by simply drawing up the magic for a Patronus? Morrigan..." Severus sighed explosively. "And then you tell him to cast it wandlessly?"
"He manages it magnificently. Watch. The show just gets better."
The green-eyed teen relaxed visibly, smiled and cast with a sharp outward thrust of his hand. Light seemed to burst from his fingertips and Prongs formed up into stark detail. The Patronus trotted around the room briefly and then the large stag moved towards Harry with a disappointed sounding snort. Brushing past Ollivander with enough contact to rock the man back on his heels, Prongs nuzzled Harry's hand and faded away into nothingness.
Severus closed his mouth with an audible click and watched the young man wandlessly conjure a Patronus that physically shouldered Ollivander out of the way and made noise as its hooves hit the floor. Mouth falling open in a silent expression of fearful awe, he turned to look at Remus with a questioning look in his eyes.
"Yes, it was tangible, audible and damn near fully corporeal." Remus shivered. "It was hard to breathe when he cast that spell. Keep watching. The wand making is the most fascinating part."
"I will remember that. He looked so happy there for a little bit. I'm glad you were able to help distract him from what we now know was bothering him," Severus muttered and watched impassively until Ollivander handed Harry a narwhal horn wand. The boy's reaction was pricelessly funny and the dark eyed spy's laughter announced his opinion better than any words. "So much for the illusion that he's still a light wizard..."
"That was pretty funny, but I haven't given up on Harry being a Light wizard," the werewolf countered and ignored Severus' amused, almost pitying expression. "He looked at that wand like it had done something offensive and, as much as it takes getting used to, hearing him hissing at it just made it even more amusing."
"Next?" Harry asked with a wry laugh.
"Next we figure out what to use as the shaft of the new wand. Is there anything you feel a particular affinity towards?" Ollivander arched an eyebrow when Harry pulled a foot and a half long shaft of some white bone like material out of his robes and laid it on the work table. His hand hovered over it and his silvery eyes went wide.
"A very old basilisk...I feel phoenix here, in the clean area. Would you know anything about that?"
"Fawkes...so that's how it got into my room," Harry mused. "It was on my bed when I came out of the bathroom this morning and I thought that Dobby had brought it to me from the Chamber."
"I think he's getting used to having to tell some of his stories," Remus mused. "It didn't seem to make him quite as uncomfortable this time."
"Or it simply didn't bother him to tell Ollivander," Severus speculated.
Contemplating the fang, then Harry, Ollivander nodded to himself before frowning a little.
"Very few cores will be compatible with this fang due to the reactivity of the venom. I will collect those that I have and see which one you react most favourably to."
"Would it help if you had something to act as a balance? I have basilisk venom and phoenix tears in my blood and it's the same venom as the basilisk that lost this fang."
"He didn't appear to have any idea what I was talking about at Gringotts when I said his blood smelled of poison, but here he is talking about the Basilisk venom and Phoenix tears in his blood like it's something everyone has happen to them..." Remus frowned a little.
"Both reactions could be genuine...we'll have to ask him and possibly even ask the Mind Healer. You're right to wonder about it."
"The freedom of flight, hatred and a desire for vengeance on the betrayer and love and loyalty to family; those are all very helpful and motivationally powerful emotions," Ollivander murmured. "Given your affinity with serpents, that gives me a few ideas I might never have considered before." He went to a large wardrobe and spoke so quietly they could barely hear what he said before the soft click of an opening lock was heard.
"What language is that?" Harry gave the wand maker a look crossed between confusion and intense concentration. "I can almost understand it...it feels like I should, but I can't..."
Visibly surprised, Ollivander met Harry's gaze and seemed to search for something before nodding slightly. He smiled a little.
"He feels so intensely about a great many things. No wonder he tends to swing from one extreme to the next," Severus whispered. "And what was that with the language?"
"I don't know for sure," Remus admitted. "That's another thing I meant to ask Harry about but there hasn't been time. Keep watching. The next part is quite intriguing."
"Give me a moment and I will lay the cores out on the work table. Kindly turn your back, as I do not want anything to interfere in your choice," Ollivander instructed. "Keep your eyes closed and I will have Remus lead you over when I am ready for you to choose a core." The wand maker pulled a double handful of different shaped and sized phials out of the heavily warded cupboard.
"Oh...what is that?" Eyes still closed, Harry turned back towards Ollivander and reached out to him. "It feels like flying..."
"How does the basilisk fang 'feel' to you, Harry?" Remus quirked a grin at Ollivander and nodded agreeably when the wand maker arched an eyebrow at him. "If something over there feels like flying, how does the fang feel?"
"Vengeance and pain," Harry whispered in a harsh tone, face hardening for but a moment before that other feeling pulled at him again. "It must be a feather or a part of something that flies...it has to be to feel like this..."
"That narrows things down quite a bit," Ollivander commented wryly and put away all but three of the phials. He looked down at what he held and focused on one vial before putting all but that one away. He closed the cupboard and slowly crossed the room towards the almost vibrating teenager. Placing a long, slender glass tube in Harry's hand, he took a step back and watched the relief flow over him as his body visibly relaxed.
Harry hissed something in Parseltongue and shivered while holding the vial like it was incredibly precious to him.
"What in the world is that?" Remus whispered, amber eyes a bit wide as he watched Harry commune with a clearly very magical feather.
"That is perhaps the rarest core material in my possession," Ollivander replied just as quietly. "It is the feather of a nearly extinct South American winged serpent named the Kukulkan for the High Dragon it resembles. They are very magical, wickedly intelligent, deadly poisonous and a beautiful sight to see. I am not surprised by his choice now that I think about it."
"Basilisk fang and Kukulkan feather?!" Severus practically squeaked in his shock. "Do you have any idea what I would give to have just one small feather from one of those snakes? That damnable Basilisk fang alone..." The potions master made a low, almost pain filled sound under his breath. "The potions I could make..."
"So talk to Harry. I'm sure he knows where the rest of the Basilisk is," Remus pointed out with a burst of genuinely amused laughter. "I can't help you with the feather, though."
"I'll do that," Severus stated. "I will definitely be doing that."
"Will this work with the fang?"
"Given the similar natures of both serpents, I believe so, but I would prefer to use you blood as a binder just in case there is a negative reaction. I only need a small vial full." Conjuring the aforementioned vial, Ollivander pressed it to Harry's offered arm and muttered a short spell under his breath; removing the vial that was now full of dark red blood and a swirling silvery luminescence, he took a step back to admire the contents much like Harry had done with the feather.
"My word, you were quite serious about the unusual properties of your blood, young man. Well, lets get your wand made, shall we? The difficult part is over - all you have to do now is watch."
"And then he actually takes Harry's blood to use in the wand? I've seen a lot of blood over the years and none of it looked like that...Merlin's balls, Remus...I wouldn't want to touch that wand even if I can make an antivenin. Unless the poison in Harry's blood is actually still Basilisk, I may not be able to make a completely effective counter agent...I will do some tests and we shall see what can be done."
"Are you...you are serious." Remus shook his head. "Bloody hell...keep watching...this part is really neat."
Shaking his head, the wand maker tuned his companions out and focused on the large fang that lay in front of him. Seemingly as an after thought, he pulled out his tape measure and gestured for Harry to stand.
"I can't very well go by your old measurements, now can I?" The tape measure snaked out to measure the length of Harry's arms and a few other seemingly meaningless measurements before coiling up in Ollivander's hand, who then returned it to his pocket. "Excellent. Now I can begin."
Remus sat forward beside his cub and watched with open fascination as power rolled out from the older wizard's hands and shaped the fang into a decoratively designed grip and smooth shafted wand that gleamed dangerously in the candle light.
Nodding his satisfaction with the length of the actual wand and the shape of the grip after a final inspection of Harry's wand hand, Ollivander poured the vial of blood over the smooth ivory and used his magic to force it into the hollow space inside. Pulling the Kukulkan feather from its vial with careful reverence, he laid it on the shaft of the wand and had barely begun to 'push' with his own power before it vanished into the core with a visible shimmer of discharged magic.
"How curious," Ollivander mused and looked up at Harry. "But then, I tend to say things like that around you quite frequently, so why should now be any different, hmm? Basilisk fang and Kukulkan feather, fourteen and a half inches. This will be a superb wand for the Dark Arts, curses and hexes. Take up your wand, young man and go to the practice area before you so much as give it a wave. I dare say sparks are the very least of my expectations with this Master Work."
Chuckling a little, eyes full of a dozen emotions, Severus shook his head and squeezed Remus' shoulder firmly before sighing.
"A Master Work...a deadly dangerous one at that...I think the Dark Lord may not know what hit him if Harry uses that against him."
"You might be right. The wand certainly reacted powerfully with his magic and, well, you'll see what I mean once we get to the duel. What he does in here is just playing around."
Harry strode over to the practice area, his aura rising around him like heat shimmer as he raised his wand to cast the first spell.
"There! That's what happened when we were fighting!" Severus stared as just the act of preparing to use the fang wand brought his aura into view. "At least he wasn't angry when he was testing it..."
Remus froze when a bright green spell was sent down the range, his face going pale and shocked. Then Harry laughed his delight and said the spell he'd used loudly enough for him to clearly hear it.
Having just finished watching with open delight as Ollivander guided Harry through the process of making a custom wand; Severus almost wished he hadn't missed the real event. If anything could have sealed his certainty on the issue, it was the look on Moony's face when Harry first cast the pot cleaning spell.
"The Pot Cleaning spell...where the hell does he get these ideas?" Severus muttered with a slight smirk.
"He probably came up with it the same way Sirius would have...totally by accident, brat that he is," Remus grumbled. "Ollivander loved it, though. He was so busy encouraging Harry to take the paint off the walls that I think he forgot that he's supposed to be this reserved old man. Okay, now we come up on the point where things get crazy."
"Make sure you break it in well, Mr. Potter. Your power and the wand must become well acquainted or it could prove to be a bit temperamental at times," Ollivander reminded the currently smiling teen. "I'm not sure what spells you'd use to push your limits with it, but I wouldn't be surprised if your mentors can't come up with a few suggestions."
"That statement wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't get the feeling that the Dark Lord is encouraging Harry to study things we wouldn't let him within a hundred miles of," Severus muttered sullenly.
"In other words, you group Voldemort in with us as one of Harry's mentors?" Remus arched an eyebrow and paled a little when he thought about that. "That is a bit scary to contemplate.../can/ we keep him in line?"
"We don't stand a chance of it without help. You know Miss Granger and Miss Weasley are the ones who keep him in line," the spy countered with a perfectly straight face.
"Ha ha," Remus muttered and shook his head. Sadly, he didn't think Severus was trying to be funny.
The calm of the previous few hours was shattered by the sharp sounds of multiple apparitions coming straight into the shopping crowds. Harry straightened abruptly, his aura appearing around him in its typical nearly invisible shimmers and he started to bark out orders at Remus.
"Death Eaters! Get as many people under cover as you can without getting yourself killed, Moony. I've got this."
"Cub, damn it!"
Remus watched him self obey Harry's orders despite his desire to protect his Cub and realized that he had been compelled to do as he was told. He wasn't sure how he wound up back under Ollivander's wards, but he had to admit they were some of the most incredible magical constructs he had ever seen.
"His wards are incredible by the way. Almost nothing got through them."
"Did he just pull you out of the way of an Avada Kedavra?" Eyes wide, Severus stared at Remus after seeing the older wizard calmly reach out and pull Remus exactly far enough out of the way to avoid being hit by a jet of green light. "That was creepy, Moony."
"Uh-huh," Remus agreed. "Especially since I didn't notice that spell at the time...and he wasn't even looking in that direction..." Keenly aware of how dangerously close he had come to dying, the werewolf shuddered and rubbed his arms vigorously. "Damn..."
The angry resentment Harry had been swallowing down since he first saw his genealogical parchment flared into full flame and found a focus when his eyes lighted on the unmasked face of Bellatrix Lestrange.
Shifting into a looser, more open duelling stance, he growled under his breath and glanced over at the still scrambling werewolf.
Severus observed the moment Harry noticed Bellatrix and frowned. The teen had been in his classic, predictably text book duelling stance until that moment.
"He changed his stance...he's never done that before..."
"Reducto! Bella! Oh Bella!" Harry called out to her in a mocking, sing-song tone and advanced on the mad woman. His spell bounced off her shield spell but still managed to push her back a bit.
"Wh-Protego!" Defending herself against attack before she was consciously aware of its source, Bellatrix gestured sharply for the other Death Eaters to continue with their objective - mass, wanton destruction. Grinning madly, she responded with an attack of her own and advanced on her opponent.
"Avada Kedavra! Crucio! Sectumsempra!"
"Look at the way he's moving," Severus muttered. "That swaying, disgustingly graceful way he's dodging spells that should have hit him..."
"He moves like a snake," Remus stated and then blinked when he realized exactly what he had just said. "Tell me what you're seeing because I don't have any real context to base it on."
"The spells are fairly calm and basic so far, but he started moving like a seasoned duellist as soon as he spotted Bella. Now he's moving like the Dark Lord would if he had Harry's body. It's quite disturbing..."
Harry avoided the majority of Bellatrix's spells and yelped out his pain when the bone breaking hex grazed his left arm and shattered his humerus. Vision flaring to red as the rage and pain consumed him and kept him on his feet, he assessed his surroundings and renewed his own attack to give himself time to heal his arm while the enemy was recovering from their own wounds.
Remus shuddered when he heard Harry scream as if for the first time, but this time he also saw the moment that Harry stopped trying to win and set out to dominate, destroy and eventually kill his opponent.
"What am I seeing...what just happened to him?"
"I'm not sure and only Harry can truly explain it, but there's his true aura," Severus whispered quietly. "And there's the most frightening sight I think I have ever seen short of being on the business end of the Dark Lord's wand when he's punishing someone for something."
"Harry's not using Crucio," Remus protested.
"Neither does the Dark Lord when he is out to teach you a proper lesson in obedience and respect..." Severus shuddered when Harry began to toy with Bella, his attacks reducing her to a cowering, huddled form on the street. "If the Dark Lord tells you to draw your wand, you had best do it because refusing to fight him will only make it worse...and Merlin forbid you should manage to land a hit on him like she did when she hit Harry's arm..."
"You've been through something like this, fighting Voldemort because he was angry with you?"
"It was before his defeat, during the first war...it only happened once and I never questioned another order..." The spy watched with rapt attention as Harry embraced his power and used it with a frightening level of skill and refined control, the green and black flames of his aura only increasing the sense of awe he felt.
"Here it comes," Remus whispered. "This is what scared me more than anything else I've ever seen..."
Harry raised his bone white wand and aimed it directly at Bellatrix. He hissed out a spell and sickly yellowish-green energy coalesced around his hand and the wand it held before shooting out towards Bellatrix. It was clear that the mad woman recognized the spell when she broke her own attack and dove out of the way of the incoming spell.
Turning, Bellatrix risked a glance up as her closed her hand on something inside her robes. She met the gaze of her tormentor as he stalked towards her and cowered away from him. Pale and shaken, her fear clearly visible to any who could see her face just before she vanished, Bellatrix Lestrange ran from an opponent for the first time in recent memory.
"The Rotting Curse...I don't know what it's actually called since it's a Parseltongue spell, but I've seen it used on people...it's a slow and excruciatingly painful way to die if the screams are anything to go by..." Looking a little green, Severus swallowed carefully. "I've seen enough..."
'Falling' out of the Pensive, Severus sat and rocked in his seat for a few minutes before his colour finally began to return to it's usual and proper paleness and lost the faint green tinge that it had held at the end of the duel.
"I'm not sure he was even aware of what he was doing he was so angry and that's something we definitely have got to get him to work on controlling. If he lost it like that at Hogwarts..."
/August 3rd, Snape Manor/
Curious about how Harry had fared with his maturity and about the source of the intense anger that had been simmering and sparking through the younger wizard's moods for the better part of the entire day, Voldemort stepped through the doorway between their minds and looked around before calling out to the teen.
"Are you busy, my little Serpent?" Voldemort took a second, more detailed look around the Chamber that was his rival's inner core and shook his head. It had been changing gradually over the last few weeks and now it was truly a beautiful place of personal power. Gone were all of the blemishes that had marred it during previous visits, leaving behind the essentials of what Harry Potter truly was; unfortunately the Dark Lord still hadn't managed to completely figure out what those essentials were.
Aware of Tom the moment he stepped into his mind, Harry went to see what the older wizard wanted so he could send him on his way as quickly as possible. Despite his current and immediate resolution to let the past lie in the past, he wasn't very keen on spending the next few hours making polite conversation with someone he was still more than a little ticked off at.
"What do you want, Voldemort?"
The Dark Lord frowned. His little serpent had called him Tom ever since he had figured out who was talking to him in his mind, and though it had annoyed him at first, it had also become comfortable...he had liked the easy, almost friendly familiarity of being called by his birth name. To have Harry change their dynamic now, to be able to feel him pull away and distance him self from the easy interaction they had been sharing disturbed him in a way he couldn't quite put into words.
"What has happened, my little Serpent? What has changed?" Green eyes stared at him and they were filled with a disturbing mixture of so many emotions that Voldemort couldn't quite figure out what Harry was feeling. Then Harry started to speak and he began to understand that a great deal more than Harry's magic and physical form had changed during his maturity.
"I've come to the realization that Fate must hate me very much, that or it hates us both with equal venom...I'm not a hundred percent sure which way that goes," Harry began in a tone of utter calm that belied the tumultuous nature of his emotions. "Why else would it insist on continuously throwing you and I into ever more convoluted and twisted situations that should inspire us to hate each other beyond words while still leaving us so intimately bound to each other's essence?"
Voldemort felt his body go cold at the fury that filled Harry's Avada Kedavra eyes and whipped the teen's magic into a wild frenzy. Why had it never occurred to him that there might be a very valid reason for the boy to have eyes the colour of Death? At that moment he was fairly certain he was looking at his own end and that to attempt to lie to or mislead the younger man at this particular moment in time would guarantee him the same slow and pain filled end that Harry had intended for Bella. "I'm not quite sure which specific situation you are referring to, my Serpent, but I cannot argue with the sentiment..."
"Oh, I'm referring to several situations, actually," Harry ground out. If he was going to have to deal with this can of worms now, then he was going to rip it wide open and get it all out in the open. How Tom responded would determine how he, Harry, chose to react later. "How about the night you raped my grandmother and got her pregnant? How about you finally decide to come clean with me about my Mother."
Taking a deep breath, Harry simply watched the older wizard before speaking yet again.
"While I was growing up, I hated living with the Dursleys, my so called Aunt and Uncle. I dreamed every day of having some sort of family besides them. Then I found out I was a Wizard and began to hope that I might have a magical family member who could take me in and save me from the Muggles who so clearly hated me for being a 'freak'. Fate was at least kind enough to spare me the unending disgust of actually being blood related to them," Harry stated venomously. "But then we come to the question of my actual blood relations, don't we Grandfather? Fate sure stepped in and shafted that dream, didn't it!"
"You were never meant to know that," Voldemort stated as calmly as possible despite the jumble his own emotions had been thrown into. "I knew that I had a daughter before she was even born and I ignored her existence because a female child could never be my Heir...I had no use for her...I did not know that Lily was that female child until I saw her again and looked into a face I never could forget."
"Angelique Evans," Harry whispered.
Voldemort simply nodded his agreement and continued speaking as if Harry had never interrupted him.
"I chose her because she was Grindelwald's only surviving child and the most powerful, strong willed woman I had ever encountered...she was so like Grindelwald in that way..." He shook his head. "She survived our little Revel because the Auror's interrupted us. Many years later Lily turned up as a most persistent and annoying thorn in my side and then the prophecy was delivered to me and I knew she had to be the one...her child would be the one to bring me low if I gave it the chance to grow up..."
Losing himself in his own thoughts, Harry was unaware of the sudden appearance of his aura and the way he had advanced on Tom in a storm of angry, swirling and thrashing power.
Seeing Harry's eyes go distant and introspective, Voldemort kept himself on alert but was still completely unprepared for the sudden assault of emotion driven power that drove him backwards for every step the younger wizard advanced. Shielding him self aggressively, heels dug into keep from giving up more ground than he could absolutely help doing, the Dark Lord rode out the storm that was holding him locked in his bonded's mind.
Thanks to an intimate knowledge of Tom's memories, Harry was very well aware that family was not something the twisted man in front of him had ever spared a thought for but Harry also knew that Voldemort had thought twice before striking his own daughter down. He had been through both Tom's memories of that night and his own and they still made him frown with confused anger and hurt. It had always bothered him that his mother, fierce fighter that she was, chose to plead for mercy from a man who was publicly known for having absolutely no concept of what mercy was. Had she known that the beast who came to kill her and her family was her own blood or had she simply succumbed to the desperate need to protect her child at all costs? Did anyone else know of the rather sordid connection between the two rivals? He wondered as his most prominent memory of his parents played through his mind.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off -"
The sounds of someone stumbling from a room - a door bursting open - a cackle of high- pitched laughter -
"Not Harry! Not Harry! Please - I'll do anything -"
"Stand aside - stand aside, girl -"
Why didn't she rain spells down on him the moment she heard him at the bedroom door? Harry could understand Tom taunting her...that was something anyone would have expected him to do, but why had he hesitated for even a moment before using lethal force? Why hadn't he just killed her outright instead of telling her to stand aside more than once? It seemed to be terribly out of character for the driven, power hungry man he had been and the cruel Dark Lord he had become.
Harry abruptly looked up and met Tom's gaze, his attention focusing his power on the source of his ire. Advancing until he had him pinned to the wall, Harry growled under his breath.
Pinned against the wall as much by Harry's power as by his searching gaze, Voldemort shook his head as if to clear it. When had he lost control of everything? When had this boy become such a formidable man, a power to be truly reckoned with? He knew the answer and that cold certainty made him pull up his own memory of the night he had first seen this fearsome force of will with an almost fearful hesitance. Reviewing it, he realized that he had acted with his usual brutal expediency until he had stood face to face, wand against wand, with the boy who should have been his heir, not his enemy. He had known who Harry was to him, who this irritating child was to him, and in his egotistical madness, had tried to kill him yet again.
Frowning fiercely, Voldemort met Harry's gaze and realized that his little Serpent still didn't hate him and that knowledge disturbed him even as it elated him. "How can you still not hate me after everything that has happened? I would have struck you down already if you had done to me a fraction of the things I have done to you..."
"Would you have been able to kill me, Tom? Do you hate me enough to kill me right now? Do you hate me at all?" Harry advanced in on the older man and met his red gaze with unflinching green. "Did you ever hate me or were you just going through the motions because you were supposed to hate me? Well, Tom?!"
"No," Voldemort whispered in reply and pressed himself harder against the wall. "I'm not completely certain I ever did hate you...I wanted to early on when you insisted on defying me at every turn and succeeded. I hated that a child could do this to me, could reduce me to nothing but a spectre and a memory used to frighten errant children into obedience...but I didn't hate the child..." He shook his head and stepped away from the wall, placing himself barely a foot away from Harry and let his own emotion driven magic join the frenzied maelstrom that was whipping around and through them. The ease with which their power meshed and merged around them was not lost on him. "I don't hate you, my little Serpent," he declared and vanished back into his own mind. He had much to think on.
Trembling in reaction to the seamless meshing of his power with Tom's and the emotional catharsis he had just willingly put himself through, Harry threw himself from his trance and collapsed into a heap on the floor. Looking around at the destruction his magic had reeked on the sitting room he had secluded himself in, he shook his head in silent denial and coiled up into a tight ball when heaving, body shaking sobs broke free and escaped his mouth as primal, angry, pain filled cries.
/Authors Note:/ Hello everyone! Sorry for the wait and for the shorter than usual chapter, but between work, life and my Muses, this is about all I have managed to actually pen out. Never fear - I am NOT going to stop writing on TSDW. I simply have five or six other projects that you will all be seeing in the near future. The most important point to this note, however, is that I am going to be participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge (National Novel Writing Month), so it will most likely be December before I post anything new on my stories. Whatever I write in November, be it Fan Fiction or an original work, will be posted on the appropriate sites and at my Yahoo group in December. Thank you all for your support, your reviews and the time you take to read my work. Cheers!