Voldemort reveals his plan, Harry trains with the Aurors. *Reformatted*
The pre-dawn morning sky was beginning to lighten when Bellatrix walked out of Number Four. For the first time in her life she had experienced after-play, the cuddling and gentle touching of someone who behaved as though he genuinely cared for her. She had spent the last hour memorizing the topography of Harry's form and face reflected in the moonlight. It was magic of a type she knew nothing about. He fought sleep knowing in his heart that his dream lover would be gone when he woke; she dozed off and on until she noticed the lateness of the hour. Carefully she extracted herself from his embrace. "Embrace?" she pondered, "He shouldn't have been able to do that; he should have remained fairly petrified throughout the night."
She had kept herself technically pure throughout school - her talented tongue would always bring her "dates" to completion. Her reputation had been tarnished but she could honestly tell the marriage broker that she was a virgin when asked. Hell, she had even passed the "unicorn test" when one of the families had expressed skepticism. When she married Rodolphus Lestrange, a man almost twenty years her senior, their wedding night had been a dismal disenchantment. He had huffed and poked with all the finesse of a clumsy adolescent leaving her sore and unfulfilled.
What Bellatrix didn't know was that her deflowering had been part of a dark maiden's blood ritual that bound her to her husband, his degeneracy, his sadistic cruelty. The ritual planted a seed of evil in her soul that would be nurtured in an environment of utter depravity. That part of the enchantment worked as advertised, no real affection ever developed between her and Rodolphus, her place was to support him in all his endeavors and produce an heir as soon as possible.
She spent most of her first year of marriage "doing her duty" by her husband but failed to produce any results so he lost all interest, leaving her to distract herself wherever and however she pleased. Her less than worthless husband never could get it up for her after the first month; then would beat or crucio her for his failures. She would happily have given herself to her lord and master but he apparently had other inclinations.
Three weeks ago Voldemort had approached her with a proposition.
"The 'Issue of Mine Enemy' is a spell that will allow me to have a less conspicuous appearance," he had told her. She knew something of her lord's efforts to secure his, and presumably his followers' immortality. Everyone in the inner circle had seen the dehumanizing effects of the Dark Lord's spellwork until what was left could only be called "humanoid." She also knew that recruitment had suffered because of Voldemort's less than human appearance - it did tend to put off the purebloods. The spell required the son or daughter of one's greatest enemy, indeed, a vital aspect of the spell was that it must be the caster's greatest threat.
Only one person had defied him more than three times - it would not do for anyone in the inner circle to mention that the Potter brat had survived Voldemort's efforts twice that number. The son or daughter, presumably a child would be taken by force from a parent and then flayed alive. The skin and blood would become the new face and skin of the caster - it did not matter how old - or young - the child was, just that it had been born of a normal pregnancy after three trimesters. The mutilated remains of the child would be sent to the father whose grief and rage would complete the spell. As an added bonus the parents would often fly into a suicidal rage ending their own lives in delicious despair.
Bellatrix had her reservations; what if she failed the Dark Lord in this? The cruciatus curses from her husband, painful as they were, were as gentle caresses compared to the curses of Lord Voldemort. In the end she had agreed; how could she not? Her lord and master even insinuated that she might find the experience enjoyable. Now she found herself walking away from the only true tenderness she had ever known.
Harry woke later that morning thinking, "there must be something wrong with me, I did things in that dream that I haven't even read about in Ron's old hoard of Play Wizard magazines. I should feel bad about it but it's not like I really had a girl, no, a woman in my bed last night, right?"
He got up and groaned. He was sore in places he didn't even know he had. The clock on his small table told him that the Dursleys would be gone by now so he headed down to the kitchen and the smell of the morning's bacon. Something about the smell wasn't right. Not that it wasn't fresh - bacon never had a chance to go bad around Vernon and Dudly. It just wasn't right. He decided to settle for dry toast and coffee this morning.
Harry was startled by a tapping on the kitchen window and relaxed when he saw the owl. He gave the owl some left-over bacon as he removed the scroll and small box from the owl's leg. The note read 'Grab your wand and then touch the bottle cap, it's a portkey' it was signed by Alastor Moody. The note also contained two passwords that told Harry that the note was genuine and the portkey was safe to take. He ran up to the second bedroom and threw on some clothes and trainers before grabbing his wand and touching the bottle cap. Instantly he felt the familiar tug behind his navel.
"Welcome to Tank Hill" growled Moody.
Harry saw a tall wooden water tank, similar to the one that re-supplied the Hogwart's Express with water at King's Cross and Hogsmeade stations.
"This is Auror Training Camp A-9, you will be joining the second platoon for their exercises today, here" Moody handed him a maroon cloak like those of the other trainees, "put this on, you'll not stand out as much."
Exercises were just that, physical conditioning, followed by one on one wand to wand combat drills with Moody. Harry was reminded of the drills he had put the DA through in his fifth year and recognized many of the spells and shields from the resource materials that Remus and Sirius had provided.
"Who's this kid, then?" one of the recruits asked. His crisp looking trainee cloak made his already large frame look even more intimidating.
"Whot's your name recruit?" Moody snapped.
The young auror in training snapped to attention and yelled "Sorry sah, didn't see you there sah, Recruit Squad Leader Smythe sah!"
"This 'kid,' Smythe, has seen more action in his short life than most aurors see in their entire careers. How many times have you seen He-who-must-not-be-named?"
RSL Smythe paled, "Nevah sah!"
"This young man has not only seen Voldemort, but has fought him to a standstill on two different occasions, not to mention surviving his killing curse almost sixteen years ago!"
"Harry Potter? I mean sah, this is Harry Potter, sah?"
"Right in one Smythe, he's already a passin' powerful wizard, but he's got some rough edges and you lot have the honor and privilege of giving him a fine finish."
"Sah, yes sah!"
"Who's the best one on one fighter here, Smythe?"
"That would be me, sah!"
"Harry, meet your sparring partner."
Harry looked at the Auror trainee and sighed, "great."
"Right," Moody barked, "face off."
Harry assumed a fighting stance and saluted his opponent. Smythe rolled his eyes and shot off two quick stinging hexes that dropped Harry to his knees.
"What the HELL was that about?" shouted Moody.
"I thought we were dueling," groaned Harry as he painfully got to his feet.
"This aint a duel, mate, we don't learn to duel here. We learn to fight, and if we're very good we get to go back to our rooms at the end of the day."
"And if you're not?"
"To the Infirmary."
Harry shook off the effects of the stingers and fixed Moody with a glare.
"Hey, you're the one askin' me t' teach you t' fight."
Harry nodded, then faced Smythe.
"Tha' was jus a warm up, mate, y' up to it?"
"In for a knut, in for a galleon" Harry replied.
"Face off" Moody barked.
This time Harry jumped to his left, threw up a quick protego shield and got off a good jelly-legs jinx which hit Smythe's unprotected side. He folded like a house of cards.
Moody canceled the jinx and moved close to Harry so that he could whisper and not be overheard.
"Lay off the schoolboy hexes, its insulting t' the trainees. Concentrate on expelliarmus, stupefy, and incarcerous. Even a cutting curse would be allowed here. These recruits have to train hard to earn their badges and they fight like they're gonna kill each other, but they's still mates at the end o' the day."
"Not bad Potter, whot say two outta three?"
"You're on Smythe"
This time neither of the combatants waited for Moody to start them off, they just went to it. Hexes and shields flashed back and forth and neither of the young men stayed in one spot - both knew the advantage being the moving target. Sometimes Harry got in a good hex, sometimes it was Smythe. Both had excellent defensive skills.
By now a small crowd had formed around the two sparring wizards.
"Holy Shite," one of the recruits yelled, "do y' know who tha' is?"
Moody lifted his wand in the air and set off a cannon blast spell, everyone stopped and stared.
"General order number three is in effect as of now. No one has seen Mr. Potter here; no one knows what is going on here. If word of his presence here leaks out I'll know it was someone in this platoon and you will all be discharged with extreme prejudice!"
There was a general intake of breath. Extreme prejudice meant that their memories would be wiped clean of all the training and they would find themselves at home with a great gaping hole in their lives that could never be satisfied.
Smythe hung his head and said, "There was no need t' say that, Sergeant Major, this squad and this platoon are mates an we know when t' keep our gobs shut."
"RSL Smythe, I can't begin to tell you how vital this is. This young man has taken it upon himself to stand between us, all o' us, and the worst threat the wizarding world has seen in this century. We owe it to him to give him, and all o' us the best chance t' beat the Dark Tosser!"
Harry looked over at the platoon members, recognizing two of the recruits who had been 7th year students the year before. One was Marietta Edgecomb the other was a Hufflepuff he had seen in the DA two years before.
"Baxter, isn't it."
"Glad to see you too Potter," Charles Baxter grinned, "I see you've kept up the DA work."
"Yeah, well. Having a homicidal maniac will do for keeping you on your toes."
He turned and saw a very contrite Marietta standing beside him.
"I never got the chance to say I'm sorry" she said. "My Ma was workin' for the ministry and I was under all kinds of pressure and I know that's no excuse but I really am sorry. I'll take a magical oath if you want; that I'll never tell anyone about seeing you here, ever."
Harry looked at her and saw the truth in her haunted eyes. He saw her anxious need for acceptance - she'd had a very bad last year at Hogwarts, no one had wanted to be seen with her, even Cho Chang had drifted away from the social leper that she had become. Now Marietta was trying desperately to fit in, to be part of something important, to be accepted as part of a group again.
"It's enough that you would make the offer, Marietta, I'll accept your word as enough." He offered his hand and she took it and shook it once firmly before gathering him into a bone-crushing hug.
"Thank you, oh Harry, thank you." She choked out between sobs.
"Hey, hey, whots this then," growled Moody, albeit with a lopsided grin, "tisn't liberty weekend. Potter, stop fraternizing with the recruits."
Harry and Marietta chuckled as they broke the embrace. She went back to her squad-mates and he walked a short distance away with Moody.
"That was a truly decent thing y' did there Potter, Edgecombe has been havin' a hard time of it - seems some things follow you even after y' leave school."
"Blaming someone for something they did as a kid in school seems like an awful waste of energy." Harry said, "I don't know what I would have done in her shoes."
"Aye, I see 'bout half the poor sods in Azkaban and think, there but for the grace of whatever gods there are. . ."
". . . go I" finished Harry.
Both men thought long and hard on that one.
"Mess call," one of the recruits called out.
Charles and Marietta came to fetch Harry; Moody stopped them and told them to wait just a moment while he put a glamour on Potter.
"You look good as a blond" she said, "can you do anything about the scar Sergeant Major?"
Moody reached into his cloak and pulled out a small tin of concealing makeup.
"Sometimes the best solution is the simplest, here" he said as he handed the concealer to Marietta.
She spread the putty-like substance on Harry's forehead then stepped back and nodded in approval.
"Excellent, now we go by our last names here and we can't call you 'Potter' or the whole battalion will know you're here." Baxter mused "do you have a middle name?"
"And what was your mother's maiden name?" Marietta asked
"Right then, while you're here you will not answer to Harry or Potter, just James or Evans or Recruit, cause that's what we all go by most of the time."
"Let's eat, Recruit Evans!"
As they approached the common mess Harry could pick out the different smells of institutionalized food. Lots of salt, carbohydrates and fats; it smelled wonderful.
As they were going through the line Charles warned "Don't eat too much, James, we have more conditioning drills right after lunch and you'll just make y' self sick."
Harry contented himself with a modest portion of pie and mash along with a Sally Lun.
The afternoon was, as promised very active. Physical conditioning followed by a short jog followed by more sparring drills; as five o'clock rolled around Moody came to collect Harry.
"Best run through the showers before headin' to your relatives" Moody said.
While Harry got a quick shower someone scourgified his clothes and set them on a bench neatly folded. He arrived at Number Four just a few minutes ahead of the Dursleys and did a quick wipe-down of all the kitchen surfaces so that it would look like he had been home but had managed to clean up after himself as usual.
Diner was the same quiet affair that had become the norm for Privet Drive.
Harry went to the second bedroom after dinner to revise some of the materials that Smythe and Baxter and Edgecombe had given him to cram. He had, after all some catching up to do.
Harry read and took notes for about two hours when he suddenly came over very tired. He looked at his notes and looked at the bed and sighed, "just half an hour more, then I'll go to bed."
He kept his promise to himself and groaned as he climbed onto his tiny mattress. His dreams were an odd jumble of basic training and Azkaban and fragments of memories and insights into Voldemort's inner circle. Memories and images that included, to his horror, those of a beautiful dark haired lady with incredibly dark eyes; Bellatrix Lestrange.