Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Return6 Reviews
It's 2200, and the world has known peace for hundreds of years. Now, a dark power thought to be destroyed is returning, and the world shall find itself woefully unprepared. Meanwhile, at Hogwarts,...
Five years later
When Captain Oliver Thrall of the aurors was called in for a briefing with the Minister of Magic and the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, he thought it was just a routine mission he would be going on. After all, there had not been a serious problem for an auror to deal with beyond apprehending the average criminal in decades. So when Oliver walked out of the Ministry lift and into the bustling activity of the auror offices, he was in a light mood, whistling some tuneless song to himself under his breath.
Though the Ministry building was in fact underground, the fake windows along the walls were magically displaying a beautiful day outside, and everything in the large, airy office was lit up with a golden glow. The majority of the open-plan room was taken up by a maze of wooden cubicles, with low, thin walls so that their supervisors could see when the aurors were shirking their paperwork, which covered almost every shelf and desk within the cubicles. The supervisors, captains, and other holders of special positions were given more private offices around the edges of the room, though the large glass windows into these offices meant that privacy was never truly obtained. On the opposite side of the room to the elevator was the door leading into the office which declared itself to be belonging to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. It was to this office that Oliver was headed.
Making his way through the web of cubicles and people, Oliver barged his way to the office at the end of the central row, stopping several times along the way to greet friends. He was in no hurry.
"Oliver!" cried one woman - a fellow auror - as she came up to him and gave his sturdy frame a rather forward hug, before stepping away, brushing her long, light brown hair out of her eyes. Oliver unconsciously did the same to his own straw coloured hair. He always got nervous around Marie, who was the most popular among the aurors - a captain like himself - and in Oliver's opinion quite beautiful. She was almost as tall as him, and had an athletic build, neither being stick-like enough to be called slender, yet not having the curves to be counted voluptuous.
"You coming to this meeting too?" asked Marie with a slight French lilt to her voice, "All this secrecy is rather exciting...they won't tell anyone what it's about!"
"Um - yes - yes, I'm coming...I didn't know you were though," replied Oliver, who was rather startled by Marie's presence and her news. Oliver hadn't known anything about secrecy. He could tell that his day was about to take a turn for the worse. Still, Oliver was never one to back down from a challenge, and grasping a passing strand of courage he managed to stammer out, "Shall we walk together then?"
Marie gave him a lively smile before grabbing his arm and pulling him down the aisle, far quicker than he would have gone by himself, and yet still managing to chat to everyone and anyone as she went. It was not long before they reached the Head's door, where Oliver composed himself (got to look good for the high-ups!) and knocked in a subdued manner, trying to ignore Marie's bouncy attitude next to him, to little success.
Not waiting for an answer, Oliver opened the door and entered the surprisingly dark and stuffy office, holding the door open to let Marie in before letting it close with a soft click. It was a rather plain office, the walls being a bare faded white, and for some reason the blinds over the window were shut, as if someone could see in from the wall of rock that was really behind the glass. To his right, at the end of the rectangular room, several people were already seated around the desk of the Head of Department; all of them were the kind of people you moved around in the corridors. Sitting in the most comfortable chair behind the desk, where the Head of Department would usually sit, was the Minister. Opposite him and sitting in front of the desk was the elderly Head of Department - Mortimer Higgs - and the chief auror - Simon Needam.
"Ah, good good! Captains Thrall and Rousseau! You're the first here," said the Minister, getting up from his chair and drawing his wand, "Do take a seat while we wait for the others!"
The Minister waved his wand and two more seats shimmered into existence next to the desk, before he sat back down into silence. Marie walked over to her seat in her usual fashion and dropped herself down into it, looking around the drab room as if it were her first time in there. Despite her happy exterior, Oliver thought that she looked a bit nervous, and he noticed that she was avoiding looking in the direction of the Minister. Smiling at her when he caught her eye, he moved over to the chair next to her and sat down in it, admiring the Minister's transfiguration skill.
It was not long before the two other auror captains arrived and they too were seated facing the Minister, who began to speak in a serious tone.
"Well then, now we're all here," said the Minister, "We can begin. Mortimer, if you would brief us on the situation?" the Minister let the end of his sentence trail off, making it sound both like an order and a polite question. Higgs nodded and stood up, making everyone other than the Minister have to turn in their chairs to face him.
"As you will have noticed," said Higgs, while walking away from the desk and towards the back of the room. His voice carried back to them, though his back was turned. "There has been a sharp increase in the amount of Dark activity over the last five years. While the cause of this remains a mystery to us, the Unspeakables believe that they have found a clue as to where it is all coming from. Observe."
He had reached the back of the room, and as he did so he pushed his hand against the back wall, apparently doing nothing. However, not a moment later a huge three-dimensional image of a globe sparkled into existence, floating in the empty space at the back of the room. It was now clear to Oliver why the room was mostly empty. Higgs walked back towards them, moving straight through the illusion, causing it to shimmer as he came out of the Atlantic Ocean to face them. He pulled out his wand and waved it at the slowly spinning planet, causing glowing red spots to appear on various continents.
"Each of these red spots," Higgs continued, "indicates a concentration of Dark magic, which the Unspeakables monitor through a series of instruments placed around the world. This image," - he gestured to the globe - "is a recording of the levels of Dark magic five years ago. As you can see, there are relatively low levels of Dark magic, and it is, in the main, evenly distributed over the world. Now look at today's reading."
He waved his wand once more, and the illusion flickered, before coming back into existence. To Oliver's surprise, almost all the red was gone.
"I don't understand," said one of the captains, "I thought you said that there was more Dark activity."
"I did," replied Higgs, "Wait a moment and you'll see."
And see they did. Just as he finished speaking, Russia slowly spun into view, and with it came the missing Dark activity. The whole of the easternmost part of Russia - Siberia - was covered in one pulsating mass of glowing red dots. This, mused Oliver, was a problem.
"As you can see," said Higgs to the stunned room, "almost all Dark creatures and beings in the world have migrated to Siberia. This, needless to say, is not a good thing. Anything that can draw together so many Dark creatures and wizards is a danger to us, and must be eliminated. The problem is, we only know what is happening, we have no idea as to how, or why, it is occurring."
"Which is why," interrupted the chief auror, Simon Needam, "We are planning to send two aurors undercover as Dark wizards into Siberia, to ascertain what it is that is acting as a magnet for so much darkness. This task can be performed only by the best, which is why it must be done by two of you."
Complete silence met this statement, as Needam looked around the room, giving each of the captains a piercing stare.
"I'll do it."
Arctarus was waiting.
He was sitting alone in the dark of the Slytherin common room, lounging on one of the black leather armchairs that sat in a semi-circle facing the embers of the open fire. It was past midnight, and the fire had been unattended for several hours, the dull red glow of the cooling embers casting a warm light on Arctarus' face. Though he was staring into the fire, his mind was not on the present.
Many things had changed in the five years since he had found the diary of Harry Potter, and all of them were, in Arctarus' opinion, changes for the better. After only a few weeks of almost constant study of the mysterious diary, his marks had begun to pick up, a result of borrowing Harry's genius. After a couple of months, people began to take notice, hailing him as a future head-boy. Now, five years on, that had changed to future Minister of Magic, and anyone with ambition was falling over themselves, trying to get into Arctarus' good books. For the diary held many secrets, and not just those of magical theory. Arctarus could still remember his surprise at possibly the diary's most shocking secret, which he had discovered the morning after he had found it.
He had just finished a hurried breakfast, and had rushed back to his dorm as quickly as he could, for he was still nervous about the diary being stolen, so soon after he had found it. At that point in time he still only flicked through the pages of the book at random, for he had not yet found one of the many functions of the memoir: the ability to quickly search through the pages for something, like a spell, at just the touch of a wand. So he had ran back to his dorm, tugged the curtains closed about his bed, and simply opened the diary at random, not even selecting a specific year to look at. Though it was now five years since he had read it, Arctarus could still remember that entry as if it were only yesterday, scrawled rather messily on the page.
June 13th, 2002
Voldemort has been defeated! I was in the Ministry last night, speaking with Scrimgeour about his aurors, when the alarms went off. Voldemort had entered the Ministry with a band of Death Eaters, though for what purpose perhaps I will never know. Maybe he was coming for me. Anyway, whatever his intentions, I of course went out to meet him, though I had no hope, for his defeat of me and my near-death at his hands not two years ago was weighing heavily in my mind. Luck had saved me once more that day, but I knew that Luck would not be on my side this time.
Since my loss to him last year I had been driven to delve into magic, and the Dark Arts, further than I had ever thought I would; I dread to think what Ron and Hermione would think of me were they still alive, never mind Dumbledore. Anyway, I digress.
So, I went down to the Atrium to meet him - to duel him - on the very spot where Dumbledore had drove him away so many years ago now. Despite my increased magical aptitude, I still went to meet him in despair, for Voldemort truly was the master of all Magics. But fight we did, and it was nothing like what I had expected. I had always imagined the last fight to be in front of Hogwarts, glorious and bloody, with the cries of hundreds in the air. I now realise that this was a foolish notion. A wizard's battle is nothing like that of the Muggles of the middle ages; like modern Muggle warfare, it is all about positioning, and getting one up on your foe. Apparition was the most commonly used magic in our duel, and again, despite my imaginings, it did not last long. Duels tend not to: it doesn't take long for one wizard to lose focus, to make a mistake: and once one mistake is made, the duel is over.
We duelled further and further into the Ministry, a flurry of apparition and missed spells; enchanted objects and animated guardians were left in our wake. Eventually, though I know not how, we made our way into the Department of Mysteries, and from there to the death chamber, and in there, Priori Incantatem took place once more, and this time with far more spectacular effects. Once again I bested him in the contest of wills, but this time, instead of a few ghostly corpses coming from his wand, a horde of near-corporeal persons came out of the veil of death: everybody Voldemort had ever killed. His own hate was his undoing. Voldemort's victims looked at me for orders, and I gave them, and they struck down Voldemort at my command. I believe it was Dumbledore who passed the final blow, before I cast his body into the veil itself. His immortality gone, and his body defeated, Voldemort died, and I was hailed the hero of the wizarding world. I don't really know what to think about that.
Arctarus could not believe what he had read. Even after so many years with the diary, it was still hard to credit. Such deadly duels of strange and powerful magic were far from what the world was like today, and Arctarus could not see how such a large part of Wizarding history had been forgotten. It was probably a cover-up, he mused.
Arctarus dreaded to think what life would be like had he never found the diary. I would probably still be a nobody, he thought with some distain for his old self. While he had been no slouch before, the diary had become so integrated into his life that it was hard to see where the diary's influence ended and the real Arctarus was found. Other people had noticed it too though, and in his third year some jealous Slytherin fifth-year had stolen the diary, which Arctarus rather foolishly carried around with himself for all to see. At first he had panicked, having his diary stolen, but all had turned out well in the end. For Arctarus that is.
For some strange reason - a reason that still escaped Arctarus - the diary did not work for the fifth-year, simply showing blank pages for all except Arctarus. He had of course not known this until he caught up with the thief, and many restless nights had been spent wondering what magics the thief was discovering while he slept.
He had tracked the thief down by a small piece of scrying magic that - no surprises - he had learnt from the diary. From then on it was simply a matter of getting it back. So he had followed the fifth-year to class one day, and when his to-be victim was not paying attention, Arctarus had shoved him through an open door into an empty classroom, calmly walking into the classroom himself before slamming the door closed.
The fifth-year - a pureblood Aristocrat called Malfoy - tripped over onto the cold stone floor of the classroom, which clearly had not been used for many years, judging by the layer of dust covering every surface. Other than that it was your average classroom: blank walls, lines of desks, and a blackboard. It was early morning, so the room was well lit: not quite the atmosphere that Arctarus wanted to create, but he would have to make do. Malfoy struggled to get up, but froze when he saw Arctarus standing over him, holding a wand.
"Did you really think that you could get away with it?" Arctarus hissed, trying to lay on the intimidation as much as possible. Malfoy seemed intimidated enough. Coward.
"Get away with what?" Malfoy asked, his attempt at sounding innocent failing. Arctarus ignored him.
"/Accio Diary!/" Arctarus thought, and out of Malfoy's bag flew the diary, which Arctarus just about managed to catch. Having retrieved the diary, he was feeling a lot better about himself, and thought he would be a bit adventurous.
"You know," he said to Malfoy, slowly advancing on him, "If you had just gave it back, or admitted to it, I might have let this pass, but now I'm going to have to punish you." If this had sounded at all funny coming from a third year, Malfoy did not show it.
"I'm sorry, I swear!" cried Malfoy, trying to get out of the sticky situation. He had heard stories about this Arctarus kid. "You can have it back - I don't care - its completely empty anyway: I don't know why you're getting so worked up about it!" He was getting desperate now.
Arctarus paused, surprised, before putting the information away for later consideration, and carrying on with his revenge.
"It's too late for that now, Malfoy," he said, and he raised his wand, crying, "/Adflectum!/"
A grey jet of light shot out of his wand and hit the boy on the floor, causing him to cry with pain: Arctarus had hit him with a mild pain curse, one that would last for an hour or so.
"Never. Mess. With. Me. Again." Arctarus had said as he left the room, slamming the door behind him. A very satisfying revenge.
Coming back out his daydream of days past, Arctarus checked his watch. Higgs was late, and he did not like waiting. The embers had burnt low, now giving off almost no heat, and Arctarus was getting tired. Just as he was about to give up and go to bed, he heard the sound of someone coming down the staircase that led to the dorms behind him. Hoping that it was Higgs, and that he wasn't about to sound very foolish, Arctarus spoke into the fire, keeping his voice low,
"Higgs. You're late."
The boy, a seventh year called Higgs, walked closer and sat down in one of the chairs in the semi-circle, as close to the dead fire as he could get. Arctarus did not need to look at the shivering boy to know him; enough meetings like this had taken place between them now for Arctarus to recognise the pale, spotty, face of Higgs anywhere.
"Do you have the information that I seek?" he said, keeping his voice at a whisper to avoid waking anyone, yet trying to add as much menace into it as he could.
"Of course," replied Higgs, a bit too loudly for Arctarus' taste, "But what about my payment?"
This was the routine. Arctarus would demand his information from Higgs, or more precisely, from the loudmouth Higgs had for an uncle. Higgs would then whine about his payment, forgetting that for the past two years he had always got it.
Sighing, Arctarus lifted his hand off the arm of the chair and passed it into the inside of his robes, quickly retrieving a tiny red dragon skin pouch from an inside pocket. He weighed it in the air as if judging its worth before tossing it over to Higgs, who snatched it eagerly, lest it fall into the fire. Higgs took the cord holding it closed and pulled gently at it, peering inside the mysterious bag. A hazy look crossed across his face, and he was almost drooling at the contents of the bag, ignoring the disgusted look Arctarus was sending his way. The distain that Arctarus felt towards such a weak-minded idiot like Higgs was clearly obvious. Though to be fair, Arctarus thought, it was me that got him hooked on the stuff in the first place.
"There," Arctarus said, wanting to get to Higgs' end of the deal, "You have your payment. Now, give me the information I require."
Higgs looked up, having snapped out of his reverie, and for a moment Arctarus thought that he was going to ask for more, before he sealed the bag once more and put it in his pocket.
"Alright," Higgs said, "But I haven't got much, mind you," - a dark look crossed Arctarus' face, which Higgs ignored - "Only what my uncle slipped to me on the floo yesterday."
Higgs paused for effect. Arctarus grew impatient.
"Okay, well it's like this," Higgs whispered, now realising the need for secrecy, "all this Dark activity that you've been asking me about, its all coming from some place in Russia called Siberia. Dunno where that is. Anyway, apparently there's something there that's causing it all, and the Ministry is gonna send a couple of aurors there - undercover of course - to find out what."
Higgs sat back, finished with his little speech, and clearly wanting to get back to his warm bed.
Arctarus, however, was in a completely different world. This was the news that he had been waiting for, that he had known was coming. He didn't know how or why, but he had known for years that there was some Dark force rising - he felt its pull - and it had something to do with his diary. Dismissing Higgs back to bed with a wave of his hand, Arctarus turned back to the fire, once again lost in his thoughts.
It was almost the summer, and he was in need of a vacation. He grinned to himself as he got up to go to bed himself. He had heard that Siberia was excellent at this time of year.
A.N. Well, another chapter, one that I'm quite pleased with. You can perhaps see where the next few chapters are heading. I've tried to do something different with the flashbacks, attempting to integrate them more with the narrative rather than interrupting everything, but I'm a bit worried that sometimes you don't know whether you're in the present or in the past. We'll see. Anyway, hope you liked it.