Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Return

Chapter 4

by Taure 6 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,...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2007/04/22 - Updated: 2007/04/22 - 5450 words

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~Chapter 4~


Arctarus dreamed.

It was a strange feeling, being in a body yet at the same time, not. He experienced everything that the body experienced, felt everything that it felt, but the body was not his to control. He was simply a spectator, watching the world around him play out.

It was the same body as before, and he was once again in Hogwarts, this time not in an office but walking determinedly through one of the cold corridors. It was the late evening, and a chill hung in the air as he walked towards a stone gargoyle set into an alcove. He stopped before the alcove, straightened his robes with a sigh, and said,

"Bumblebee."

For a moment, Arctarus was confused, but all was revealed as the stone guardian started to revolve slowly around, revealing its treasure: a spiral staircase leading upwards. He took the staircase and the entrance started to close behind him, inadvertently shortening his walk to the top, where a heavyset door awaited him. He knocked.

"Come in, Harry."

So it was true, Arctarus thought as he opened the door and entered the office beyond; he was in the body of Harry Potter. The office beyond was a large one, but its occupant appeared to be bereft of enough furniture to fill it. There were bookcases filled with books, many portraits hanging on the walls, and various cabinets holding magical artefacts, but somehow it seemed to Arctarus to be rather bare. He closed the door behind him and took a seat in front of the large desk that controlled the centre of the room, behind which sat an elderly witch with a stern face.

"You wanted to see me, Minerva?" he asked, leaning back in his seat nonchalantly and folding his hands together on his lap.

"Mr. Potter, a disturbing rumour has reached my ears," she began in a firm voice, but Arctarus thought that he could detect a hint of worry, and perhaps even a croak of sadness in her tone, and she looked like she was reluctant to carry on. "It has come to my attention that you have been-" she faltered here, and for a moment Arctarus thought that she might cry, before she cleared her throat and carried on, "-that you have been practicing magic that Professor Dumbledore himself banned."

Arctarus shifted in his seat, and his hands moved to grip the armrests. It was a subtle movement, but one that Arctarus noticed gave him greater freedom of movement.

"Really, Minerva," Harry replied smoothly, magic lacing his voice. "I would've thought that you of all people - you who have known the rumours that I have suffered in the past - wouldn't give credence to such things. People will always be-"

"Do not play coy with me, Mr. Potter!" demanded the headmistress, anger in her voice as she stood up behind her desk, age doing nothing to slow her vehemence. "I taught you as a boy, and you couldn't charm me then - don't even try now!"

She took a breath, steadying herself.

"I can't believe how blind I have been, looking the other way while you conducted your 'experiments' - all the staff felt the Dark magic that was thrown around tonight; I had a good mind to call the aurors!"

She seemed to compose herself now, and sat back down at her desk, peering over at Harry, who had stayed motionless for the whole of her tirade.

"I know the hard life that you have been dealt, Harry, and it is for that reason that I shall let you go without informing the Ministry, but I must ask that you leave the castle, at once. There is no place for Dark wizards at Hogwarts, especially one of your...stature. I am sorry."

Arctarus finally moved, sitting up straight in his seat. He knew that his face would look blank - unfeeling - but even he could feel the rage that Harry felt.

"Minerva...you cannot be serious."

"I have nothing more to say to you, Mr. Potter," she replied, turning back to some piece of parchment on her desk. She was clearly trying to dismiss him. "You will kindly pack your things and leave."

"No."

"What?" said Minerva, and the earlier anger had returned as she looked up from her desk at Arctarus, who was still sitting down as if he were talking about the weather over a cup of tea.

"I said, no," Harry repeated, and as he said this he stood up, tall and imposing, casting an eerie shadow over the desk. Arctarus thought that the light in the room was beginning to dim. "I was reluctant to come here ten years ago, but now I am here I have grown used to the comforts of Hogwarts: I shall not leave. You'll have to come up with alternative arrangements."

McGonagall's eyes narrowed and she too stood up, and Arctarus noticed that she had her hand in her robe pocket, probably clutching her wand.

"Mr. Potter, I grow tired of this foolishness. You will leave at once, or the aurors will-"

Harry's wand was in his hand like a flash, pulled out of thin air as if it had been hovering next to his hand, invisible, and before McGonagall could even react he had brought it through the air in a grand sweeping gesture, as if he were swinging a lasso around his head. A trail of golden light fell from the tip of his wand, like a shining thread, and when the thread was connected in a full circle, a wave of rich golden light roared away from his person in all directions like the shockwave of a bomb, destroying everything it hit. Glass smashed, portraits caught fire, desks were overturned, paper was shredded, and Minerva McGonagall was thrown through the air like a rag doll, hitting the stone wall of the office with a thud before sliding to the ground, dead.

Arctarus paused for a few seconds, took in the devastated office, and then turned from the room, rushing out of the door and down the stairs, ignoring the shouts of the portraits, intending to get out of the castle as soon as he-

"Ennervate!"

Arctarus woke as if he had been dowsed with cold water, coming back to consciousness with a gasp, the dream still vivid in his mind. His body felt strange at first, like he didn't belong there, but after a few moments he gained his bearings and sat up on the bed he was on, looking around. A man was sitting in front of him.

He was in a small bedroom, Spartan in its furnishing, with just a small, uncomfortable bed and a small, plain desk in the corner. The man who had woken him was tall and skeletal, with expensive looking black robes and pale skin. He was sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, and he was holding Arctarus' diary.

"Welcome back to the land of the living, Arctarus Greengrass."

His voice was cool and melodic, washing over Arctarus' ears like the rustling of leaves or the soft lapping of waves upon a shore. For a moment Arctarus was lulled into a sense of security and trust with the man, but quickly alarm bells started to ring in his head. Who was this man? How did he get here? How did he know Arctarus' name? And why did he have the diary?

Trying to look as if he were taken in by the man's magic, Arctarus studied him. It was clear he was a wizard, and Arctarus knew that he was most likely outmatched: he may be strong, but this wizard simply oozed confidence, and his appearance, though ugly, was transfixing.

"I am Cain," he said simply, giving a warm smile as he said it. There was ice behind that smile, but Arctarus couldn't stop himself from smiling back. "I rescued you from a man who had stunned you in the woods - you ought to be more careful around these parts."

Arctarus couldn't help but wonder if Cain was genuine. Thinking back to the man who had stunned him, from the little Arctarus could remember his attacker had been shorter, and had a more muscular build...maybe this Cain was for real after all. Cain had paused, but just as Arctarus was about to ask after his wand, the stranger spoke once more.

"Tell me, young wizard," Cain began slowly, choosing his words carefully. "Your diary: I am greatly interested in it. It has some potent magic within it, yet its pages are blank...what spell have you cast upon it?"

The warning bells went off once more, and this time Arctarus would not be snared again. Cain had his diary, his wand and all of his most important possessions. He lived in a wood filled with Dark magic, had apparently gone through at least one magical transformation, and he sought the diary's power. Arctarus got angry.

"There's nothing special about the diary," he lied, badly. He wanted it back. "I should like it back please. Where's my wand?"

He knew instantly he had gone too far and given the game away. Cain's kindly façade fell, and the temperature of the room began to drop. When he spoke, all musical quality had left his voice; it was as harsh as fingernails on a blackboard.

"You're far to impudent for my liking, boy," he snarled, standing up from his chair. "I thought you might have had a shed of intelligence in you, but I must say that I was wrong. Now, tell me about the diary or you'll find out how a real wizard plays. Ever heard of the Cruciatus, boy?"

Arctarus froze. He had heard of the Cruciatus of course, what Slytherin hadn't? But never in his life did he suspect that it would be used on him. Fear began to take hold of him, but he didn't respond fast enough for Cain's liking, for even as he began to open his mouth to tell Cain of his secret, pain upon pain surged through him and he began to scream and writhe on the bed. But it was not over.

Though somewhere in his mind, behind the pain, he knew it must have been an illusion, he could have sworn that he saw thin yet amazingly painful lines of blood slowly draw themselves up his arms and legs, as if a sharp knife were running over his skin, splitting open his flesh. And was that smoke coming out from underneath his clothes? It was; he was on fire! As soon as he realised this, the sensation strengthened and it felt as if flames were engulfing him, his skin cracking and blistering and turning black as it scorched and melted underneath the strength of the flames. At the same time as this, a strange taste entered his mouth, as if oil were being poured down his throat, choking him, sending him dizzy with the taste and fumes; he tried to spit it out, but his mouth was locked open, an iron grip locking his jaw in place. A gurgling sound filled the room as his screams were drowned by the thick, black, fluid in his mouth; he couldn't take it anymore, he just wanted to die, for it all to be over, for the pain to stop...

And it did. The flames died, the cuts healed, his mouth was clean, yet the memory of the last ten seconds was still engraved on his mind, and Arctarus rolled over on the hard wooden floor - he must have fallen off the bed at some point - and he sobbed into his chest.

Cain looked down upon him, satisfied.

"I shall return tomorrow," he said coldly, pushing Arctarus over with his foot so that they could see each other's faces. "You will tell me about the diary then, or I shall cast it on you again, and next time I shall not be so generous."



*


Cain walked out of the boy's room into a long, pleasantly lit, corridor, carefully locking the door behind him, and headed down the softly carpeted passage to where it expanded out onto a landing. He looked down from the top of the staircase into the airy entrance hall; no one seemed to be around, so Cain descended the stairs and took one of the leather armchairs near the fireplace lit with Gubraithian flames.

He placed the diary on his lap and stared at it for a while, trying to discern its power, but once again it evaded him. The diary was frustrating him to the point of rage: he could feel its power, yet he could not utilise it, nor understand it.

"You are not a horcrux," he spoke to the diary, and himself. "I can tell that much...yet you feel like one."

He reached for his wand.

"I wonder..." he whispered, musing to himself, and with a flick of his wand he conjured a quill; a prod of his wand made it ever-inking.

He flicked open the diary to a random page, took up the quill, paused for a moment, and then wrote upon the page.

What are you?

He watched, transfixed, as the ink seeped into the page and soon he was left with a black piece of paper once more. For a moment it looked like that was going to be all that happened, but just as Cain was about to slam the diary shut in frustration, writing began to appear on the page.

You are not Arctarus, Dark wizard. What are you doing with my diary?

The diary did not belong to the boy then, Cain thought as he read the message scrawled on the paper, excitement at finally making progress running through him. The power of the diary would be his yet. Taking up his quill once more, he pondered what to write next, and was just lowering the quill to the page when-

CRASH!

The fireplace - and the wall behind it - exploded into the room, and only Cain's quick reactions saved him from the flying debris, as he quickly cast an Imperturbable charm on himself, causing the burning shafts of wood to swerve to avoid him as they rocketed through the air. Several chairs had been skewered with sharp lengths of wood and the grand piano was on fire. Cain waited, wand at the ready, for the attack to come.

Spells of every description started flying out of the smoke-filled area where the fire had once been, and Cain spun on the spot, apparating to the other side of the room to avoid the spells. Needing to get the smoke out of the way, he cast a Wind charm at where the spells were coming from, making the smoke billow out through the gap in the wall and into the morning air. Standing in the hole in the wall was a single wizard of average height and stature: solely unimpressive. Cain was surprised he had been able to do as much damage as he had.

Deciding to end it quickly, Cain gave his wand a flick and the room was suddenly filled with giant wooden golems, burning with eternal fire, transformed from the pieces of wood that had previously made up the wall. At a silent mental command they started to advance surprisingly quickly at the wizard, who tried to destroy them with spells and jets of water, to no avail. Eventually the intruder was forced to apparate further into the room to avoid the golems, and Cain to advantage of the disorientation of apparition to hit him with a stunner.

Dissipating the golems and casting a repairing charm at the wall, Cain moved towards the now-unconscious body of the man who had attempted to assassinate him.

"Who is he?"

Cain looked up to see Eve and Oliver standing at the top of the stairs, most likely drawn by the noise of the fight. It was, of course, Eve who asked the question, her sultry voice sounding seductive to him even at the distance he was from her. Oliver stayed at the top of the stairs, apparently in shock, but Eve descended slowly, wanting a better look at the wizard who dared invade her home.

"I do not know," answered Cain, eyeing the fallen wizard speculatively, and taking note of Kyran entering through the door.

"He looks European," said Eve, bending down to get a closer look, brushing blond hair out of her face. "Probably an Auror."

"You're probably right," replied Cain. "I shall question him later. Meanwhile...Kyran, since you've arrived, why don't you take him up to a room upstairs to await our hospitality."

Kyran grinned - an evil grin, full of malice - and picked up the slumped body, throwing it over his shoulder as he had done for Arctarus. He walked up the stairs and was just passing Oliver when the wizard called,

"Wait!"

Everyone turned to Oliver in surprise: the new wizard rarely spoke unless spoken to first.

"He's still got his wand," said Oliver, and he reached out and plucked the wand from up the wizard's sleeve, and placed it in his own pocket.

Cain nodded at him in approval. Eve smiled. Kyran simply grunted and moved off further into the house to lock the man into one of the bedrooms.

"Well then!" said Cain, smiling suddenly. "It's not everyday that someone attempts to kill me - let us celebrate in the town. Eve?"

Not for the first time, Oliver wondered what kind of relationship Cain and Eve had as she placed her arm around his and they walked out of the house, leaving Oliver in silence.



*


Oliver was screwed.

Captain Dickens - the other auror captain who volunteered for the assignment - had been captured. Not only would the man face torture and death, but he'd also blow Oliver's cover. Oliver had to rescue him and get back to England before Cain or any of the others found out about him.

It had been several hours since the attack and Oliver was still alone in the house, sitting in the once-again immaculate entrance hall, staring into the fire as his mind raced. He had Dickens' wand, so that was a bonus, but it was about the only thing Oliver had going for him. He knew he had to act soon: he had no idea when the others would be back, but if he were caught in the act then he'd die - timing was everything.

Well, you know what they say: there's no time like the present.

Oliver got up with a heavy sigh, dreading the possible consequences of his actions, but he quickly shut off those concerns: he was on a mission, and he was going to complete it. Pulling out his wand, he rushed up the stairs and entered the luxurious corridor, whispering,

"Point me Dickens."

His wand jerked in his hand and pointed down the corridor, angling slightly to the right. /He's somewhere on the right hand side then/, thought Oliver and he jogged down the corridor, waiting for his wand to spin to point at a door as he passed by. It happened at the fourth door; his wand gave such a tug on his hand that he almost dropped it, but he gripped it tightly and cast an unlocking spell on the door, causing it to creek open. He checked back the way he had come to make sure that there was no one else around before entering into the room and closing the door behind him.

The room was tiny and completely unfurnished. Dickens lay on the hard wooden floor - still unconscious - and Oliver rolled him over so that he was facing the ceiling before reviving him with a spell.

Dickens came awake with a groan, but almost immediately he had jumped up, almost knocking Oliver over, and reaching for a wand that had been taken away. Seeing Oliver, a look of shock came over Dickens' face.

"Thrall? What're ye doin' 'ere?" he asked, slightly suspicious. Oliver simply held up his finger to his lips, suggesting silence, before reaching into his robes and bringing out Dickens' wand. He handed it over to its rightful owner before they left the room, checking the corridor first and closing the door behind them, relocking it. Oliver was about to indicate the way out when a thought crossed his mind: the boy.

It was by Oliver's decision that the boy was stuck in that place, suffering who-knows-what kinds of torture, and Oliver could not leave in good conscience until he had freed him. So, stopping Dickens with a gesture of his hand, he whispered once more,

"Point me prisoner."

Not having the boy's name, the spell took longer to work, spinning around in a full circle several times before it settled on a direction: the door directly opposite Dickens' cell. Oliver was beginning to feel the encroaching worry of lingering too long, and he hurried as he unlocked the door and slammed it open, barely taking in the room. The boy was huddled and quivering on the floor and Oliver cast a Feather-light charm on him, picked him up and walked back out into the corridor where Dickens' was waiting and watching, on the lookout for Cain and his friends.

Oliver was just closing the boy's cell door when a slamming sound came from downstairs, followed quickly by laughter and the murmur of voices: Cain was back.

"Damn."

There was only one way out of the house that Oliver knew of, and that was by the front door. Unfortunately, there were now at least two powerful people between them and their goal.

"Okay, here's the plan," whispered Oliver, thinking on his feat. "You carry the boy-" he handed him over "-And I'll disillusion you both. Then we'll walk out the front door. Once we're past the house wards then we can portkey back to England: I still have my Return Key."

If Dickens thought this was a bad plan, he didn't have a chance to object as Oliver cast a disillusionment charm on him, causing his body to slowly disappear from the head down, as if some sort of invisible-liquid had been dropped on his head. He threw in a silencing charm for good measure.

"Right..." said Oliver to the empty space beside him, "let's go."

Oliver tried his hardest to act normally as he strolled down the corridor towards the stairs. His hand was in his pocket around his wand, just in case, but he held no misconceptions on how an encounter with Cain would end if it came to a fight. Oliver just had to hope that it wouldn't come to that.

He came out of the passage onto the landing that looked down into the main room; Cain and Eve were there sitting by the fire, glasses of wine in their hands as they conversed, their voices low. Oliver tried to make out what they were saying, but to no avail. Still, their position was a stroke of luck on Oliver's behalf - they were far from the door - and it looked like they were to busy with each other to pay him much attention.

Resisting the temptation to try to sneak out without anyone seeing, which certainly would have raised suspicion, Oliver walked straight down the stairs and he had just started towards the door when a call came from across the room.

"Ah! Oliver!" said a jovial Cain, whose cheer appeared to have been bolstered by the wine. "Why don't you join us? We were just talking about some of our more ambitious plans for the Glade."

If he were still undercover, Oliver would no doubt have jumped at the chance to overhear such plans, but for now he had to get out of the house, before either Cain or Eve noticed the very slight shimmer in the air beside him.

"I'd love to," Oliver said, eyeing the door. It looked very close now, teasing him with its presence. "But there's something that requires my attention in town...I'll be back later."

"If you must," replied Cain, slightly put out. But for once the secrecy of Dark wizards was cast in Oliver's favour, and Cain asked nothing of the nature of Oliver's errand, simply nodding to Oliver and turning back to Eve.

Oliver let out an inaudible sigh of relief, and moved towards the door, pulling it open.

"Oh, and Oliver?"

Oliver paused, standing stock still on the doorstep, not daring to move a muscle. After what seemed like an age, he managed to turn his body to look back into the room. Cain was standing up, facing Oliver from the other side of the hall.

"You never should've betrayed me."

Oliver's eyes widened in shock, and he pulled out his wand, casting a shield, but he was too late: Cain had the quicker draw, and before Oliver's shield was even in existence there were two flashes of bright green light hurtling towards him; he had to leap out of their way, and in doing so he brought himself out of the bounds of the house. The wind was knocked out of him as he crashed to the floor, but he kept his senses, and with one arm he reached out into the air beside him, gripping Dickens; he jammed his other hand into his robe pocket, taking hold of the portkey, shouting,

"Activate!"

The last thing Oliver saw before being whisked away in a spiralling vortex of light was the sight of an angry red curse heading right towards his head - he had escaped with but a second to spare.

Their landing back in England was undignified to say the least. They had no cushioning as they fell onto the ground from several feet up in the air, and Oliver groaned as he struggled to his feet, but he quickly smiled as he saw the rolling green landscape about him: he was back in England, and safe.

Looking around the area where he had landed Oliver found the shimmer that he was looking for, and jabbed his wand at it, saying,

"Finite!"

The disillusionment charm melted away, revealing a man and a boy lying on the grass, both unconscious. Funny/, thought Oliver, /I didn't see Dickens get hit by anything...

He waved his wand at both of them, thinking, Ennervate! The boy blinked as he opened his eyes, then sat up with a look of confusion on his face. Dickens, however, lay unmoving. A chill went though Oliver and he knelt down next to Dickens' body, feeling for a pulse but fearing the worst. He was dead.

Grief welled up in Oliver, mixing with the tension that he hadn't known he had bottled up in Siberia, and he collapsed on the ground, not quite weeping, but his shoulders heaved with sorrow for life cut short. Though he had been an auror ever since he had left Hogwarts, this was the first time he had faced the death of one of his colleagues.

So taken with grief was he, that he didn't notice Arctarus standing up, taking his bearings and shutting out memories of burning and smoke and oil. Arctarus knew that he was back in England - the warm summer sun was enough to tell him that - but he was unsure of how he had returned home. What he did know was that he had been rescued, and more than that, rescued from a place that he wasn't supposed to be. He didn't want to face that kind of trouble.

He looked down at the dead man, the one who had saved his life, and noticed that a wand was lying on the ground next to the body. A wand, especially the wand of a dead man, is a sacred thing, and Arctarus knew that he had no right to take it, but desperation hardened his resolve, and he bent down slowly and picked up the wand. It didn't feel right, but it would do.

His action seemed to stir his rescuer from his grief, and the man looked up at Arctarus with confusion on his face.

"Hey, kid, what are you doin-"

A flash of red light from Arctarus' new wand cut off his question, and Oliver collapsed to the ground, stunned. He never had a chance.

"Sorry," said Arctarus to the unconscious body. "But I won't let you take me to Azkaban."

Turning away from the two bodies on the floor, Arctarus looked around the hills. He needed to catch the Knight bus, but for that he needed a road. Arctarus sighed. More walking.


*


Far away in Siberia, a man sat in a dark and airy room, lit only by a small fire burning in the wall in front of him. His pale face was a blank mask, nothing betraying the anger burning within him. All his plans had been ruined by two aurors, who would no doubt report back to their superiors all that they had found. And then to top it off, they had taken the boy too, stealing Cain's only source of information on the diary.

Cain hated losing.

At least he still had the diary, he mused as he looked down at the small leather book in his lap. Not that that was much use to him: its power was locked away by some great enchantment, and he could not break it.

Suddenly, Cain jumped up as he heard whispering sounds behind him. He spun around on the spot, searching the room for intruders, but all that met his gaze were shadows and air. Still, the whispering continued, faint as the breathing of a vampire; Cain could not make out any words, but a voice was certainly in the room with him.

He carefully picked up the diary and placed it in his pocket - he would not dare to leave it lying around - and started to walk around the room, his steps soft as he strained his ears for a hint of where the sound was coming from. And then, as he was passing the north wall, he thought he heard the whispers get louder. It was coming from the hidden passageway.

Cain paused for a moment, his mind racing as he thought of the possibilities of who could be down in the cavern - a very short list - and he stepped through the wall, intent of finding, and destroying, any intruder in his realm. He paced along the entry passage, having been down there many times before, and passed through the wall of light without a second thought; the whispers were getting louder.

As he stepped into the cavern, the whispers gained in volume dramatically; Cain was now able to discern it as a chant, but there was no one there to speak the words. He lit his wand to add to the natural light of the cavern, just to check that there was nobody hiding in an alcove, but he found no one: he was alone.

Cain then turned his gaze to the silvery liquid of the lake, staring at it intently. It was the only solution: the lake itself was making the chant. He walked closer to the water's edge, and the words finally became clear to him.

Animus, mentis, corpus,
Agon lemma
Et Facio mihi unam...


Though a lake could have no sex, Cain was sure that the voice was male, deep and powerful as it resounded through the cave. Unsure of what to do next, Cain knelt down to do what he had never done before - to feel the powerful silver of the lake - but either by accident or by the workings of some power unknown to Cain, something happened to interrupt Cain's reach.

The diary fell out of his pocket, and into the lake.

With a cry of anguish, Cain lurched forward to grab it, but it was too late: as soon as the diary had hit the surface of the lake, the silvery waters roiled and rose up like a great mouth and consumed it, before returning back to their resting calm.

Cain was about to attempt summoning the diary back from the waters when he noticed that the cave had fallen silent: the chant had stopped.

Then the voice came back, deep and commanding, and this time there was no ambiguity in the words.

Bring me the boy.

*

A.N. Another chapter! And with a significantly improved update time too. Hope you liked it, and thanks for all your reviews on previous chapters. The chant is of course terrible Latin, a messed up mixture of words, but its intended meaning is thus: "Soul, mind, body, Combine them, and make me one." Have you guessed it yet?
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