Potter's Resistance 1: Breaking Ties
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoast Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.
Chapter 3: Anarchia
As soon as Harry left Davidovitch's, he was met by a blue plumage of the phoenix he have had a spat with back in the old man's workshop. The bird was sitting on a nearby roof, staring curiously at Harry.
"Oh, it's you again," Harry said, without much enthusiasm. Like everyone else, he generally liked phoenixes, but this particular specimen was already getting on his nerves. And the feeling seemed to be completely mutual.
The phoenix titled his head a little and just kept observing the young wizard.
"Well, it was nice seeing you again," Harry said with false cheer, "but I am sure you have a lot of bird-things to do. So don't let me keeping you..."
The phoenix didn't seem at all that fazed by Harry's words. Actually, it seemed as if he hadn't heard him at all.
"Well if you have a lot of spare time, I sure as hell don't. So why don't you just shoo away. Go bug someone else. Catch a frog or something," he said dismissively and started down the alley.
Phoenix ignored Harry's words and just flew to another roof, from where he could keep an eye on the grumpy wizard.
Harry stopped dead in track when he saw the phoenix again. "I thought I told you to bug off. I'm sure there are tons of people that would be trilled to see you, but I'm not one of them. So, get lost," Harry said, only to see the phoenix totally unresponsive. "Err... You're not going to keep following me wherever I go, are you?" The phoenix remained stoic but there was now amusement in his eyes. "You are," Harry deadpanned, with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
He's probably just like one of those kids, who think that everyone should like them just because they are cute, Harry mused grumpily.
He then decided to hurry up with his daily agenda. He was certain that damn bird would abandon him when he realized his company was not appreciated.
Besides, I can't spend a whole day arguing with a stupid turkey. Dumbledore's probably having an Order meeting right now. His lapdogs would soon be crawling all over the Alley searching for me. Better not tempt my fate by staying out for too long
With that thought, Harry took off towards his final destination for the day, the phoenix following him from roof to roof. After several minutes, it was really starting to grate on Harry's nerves. That damn bird seemed to have no intention whatsoever of leaving him alone. Harry was starting to worry that someone would notice such an exotic bird following him around. Something like that could completely ruin his reputation in the Alley. No self-respecting ruffian would even think of selling Dark Arts to a guy with a phoenix on his shoulder.
Harry gritted his teeth in annoyance and decided for a different approach. He made sure that the bird was behind him and nonchalantly walked down the alley. When he went behind the corner, he quickly made sure that nobody was watching him and then retrieved his invisibility cloak from a large pocket on his robes. Ever since he started living dangerously... well, more dangerously than usual, Harry made a rule never to go anywhere without it. And this was exactly the kind of situation where his vigilance would pay off. Harry quickly donned his cloak and ran down the alley as silently as he could.
After several minutes of running through the maze of dingy alleys, Harry stopped and looked back, trying to see if he was still being followed. Just when he was about to declare the bird gone, he turned around and saw the familiar blue phoenix standing on a nearby wall, staring right through him. Harry tried to sneak pass the bird, only to see that the avian's amused eyes were following his every step. Harry cursed and angrily took off the cloak. He can see through invisibility cloaks. Just great , he grumbled mentally.
Harry packed his useless cloak, and gave his nemesis another glance. He was met with a smug, victorious look, that made his blood boil with irritation and anger.
Why is that damn turkey so dead set on making my day miserable? , he thought furiously. All I need now is someone noticing that I have a fucking phoenix following me wherever I go.
"Listen, this is not funny anymore. You are drawing attention to me. I could get killed around here if I'm seen with a phoenix," Harry hissed to the damnable bird, who was completely unfazed by his exaggerated words.
Maybe that's what he wants , Harry thought furiously. He hates me for some reason so he decided to completely ruin my life, preferably ending it completely. Damn, I thought phoenixes were supposed to be good and kind and all that shit! But no, this stupid peacock thinks it's fun playing games with me! Well, we'll see who can play rougher...
Harry drew a deep breath, trying to stop his mental rant. His hand was itching to try out his new wand on that damn pest, but he managed to stop himself from making a scene. No, that's what the old me would have done. I don't want to be that person anymore , he thought.
They say that the hardest thing to change is yourself. But for someone with Harry's drive, determination and will to survive, that was not only possible, but very likely, given the right motivation, of course. And you don't get much better motivation than finding out that the two greatest wizards of the century are out to get you, one seeking your complete obedience and the other your head. Finding out that all possible escape routes are cut of by a true prophecy, stating that you have to face one of them, was only the final nail on the coffin of Harry's old mentality.
After his godfather had died, thanks to his own foolishness, Harry made a vow to change himself for better. He promised himself that he would never again allow his intellect and logical reasoning to be overruled by hotheadedness and quick temper. It was all nice and dandy being an impulsive, noble kid in a schoolyard, but such behavior could easily cost him his life on a real battlefield. Or the lives of his friends, as he had learned during the D.O.M. battle. Thus, ever since that faithful day, Harry's every action was carefully analyzed, planned and executed. Sometimes, Harry was truly regretting for not allowing the Hat to place him in the Slytherin. Maybe he wouldn't have made as many friends, or had as much fun in that house, but he would have been much better prepared for the oncoming war. Besides, his daring escape from Private Drive would have never succeeded, with his old 'think on your feet' attitude.
Still, even though Harry did wonders with waking up his dormant Slytherin side, his nasty temper still managed to rear it's ugly head now and then. And this was definitely one of those situations.
Harry took another calming breath and tried to think things through before he did anything rash, like obliterating the stupid bird. Yelling at the bird or firing curses in broad daylight wouldn't solve anything , he thought reasonably. It would only draw attention to myself and I definitely wouldn't want that. I should try to appease the phoenix, to make peace with him. Better loosing my pride than head , he decided wisely and mentally congratulated himself for his maturity.
"Listen, Blue," Harry said gently. "I'm sorry for yelling at you, OK? We could just forget that whole spat and start fresh. I really want to be friends with you. Do you want to be my friend? Is that why you're following me?" he asked softly, while once again reaching to pet the phoenix.
At least he had finally gotten some reaction. Phoenix thrilled angrily and flew to a roof, out of Harry's reach.
"Shit!" Harry yelled, completely loosing his patience. "What the fuck do you want!?"
"N-n-n-othing, h-h-onestly," someone stuttered from the floor. Harry looked down and saw a frail looking old woman, laying terrified on the floor. Harry realized that, in his anger, he completely overlooked her, too busy glaring at the Phoenix perched on the rooftop above. Not to mention screaming like an idiot and flashing my aura all over the street. Nice going, Gryffindork , Harry congratulated himself sarcastically. He definitely had a long way to go before he was completely cured from his impulsiveness.
"It's alright, lady, I wasn't yelling at you," Harry said reassuringly. "It's that damn bird," he added through gritted teeth.
"What bird?" she asked, as she stood up.
"That phoenix on the roof," Harry said, while glaring at said bird, who looked quite amused by the whole spectacle.
The old hag looked up and then shook her head. "There's no bird up there, sonny. Especially no... was it phoenix you said?" she asked surprised.
Harry looked at her weirdly and than back at the roof, where the blue phoenix still stood, looking more amused that should be allowed.
"Err... Not phoenix, just a big, stupid turkey," Harry said louder then necessary, while meaningfully glaring at the bird. "Anyway, it must have flown away."
"Whatever you say, sonny," old woman gave him dubious look, but didn't comment further.
"Well, again sorry for scaring you. I'll be going now," Harry said dismissively.
"Wait, sonny, you want some first rate niffler ears? I also have vampire fangs and..." But Harry was already gone behind the corner, blue phoenix flying in his wake.
After five more minutes of brisk walk through the maze of dingy alleys, he found himself in front of a decrepit looking pub, radiating with foreboding atmosphere. There was no sign to indicate name or even purpose of this establishment, but regulars called it "Matt's place," by it's illustrious owner and bartender.
As expected, his new companion gracefully landed on the roof of the building. Harry gave him a contemplative look. During the rest of his walk, he pretended not to notice irritating bird, but that didn't stop him from thinking about previous event with the old hag.
"Nobody but me can see you, right?" he asked the bird after he made sure that nobody was around to spy on him. Phoenix remained still, staring down at him. Harry absentmindedly rubbed his hand, where there was still a scar from bird's sharp beak.
"When you pecked me," he said with dawning realization, "you used my blood to create a magical link between us. That's how you can show yourself only to me and no one else." Phoenix finally nodded slightly, his blue eyes shining with... what was it? Confirmation? Satisfaction? Approval? Harry shook himself from these thoughts. I'm probably just imagining things, that stupid turkey still hates my guts , he decided.
"That still doesn't mean I like you or forgive you for screwing up my day," Harry said warningly. If that was possible, damn bird now looked even more pleased. He nodded slightly, as if to say "The feeling is entirely mutual".
"Smartarse," Harry mumbled and glanced at his wristwatch. "Shit!" he cursed. "Thanks to you, I'm 15 minutes late. I hope you're happy," he said through gritted teeth. The phoenix lifted his head in self-satisfied manner, confirming that yes, he was indeed happy.
Harry groaned, glaring daggers at stupid bird. "If you're gonna follow me inside, you better stay hidden from view. Or else..." He stopped, realizing he couldn't do anything to the nearly-immortal creature. Thankfully, the phoenix seemingly decided that he have had enough fun for one day and disappeared in a burst of red flame.
"Good. And stay away," Harry nodded, trying to regain some semblance of dignity.
I've already spent too much time on that damn bird anyway , he thought, then opened thick wooden door and stepped inside.
Harry found himself in spacious rectangular room filled with tables and chairs. He surveyed the room and with some relief noted that his mysterious companion was nowhere to be seen. All around the walls were individual chambers, separated by wooden screens but open to the main room. In far corner was the bar, with huge, bald guy behind the counter. Only aisles and the bar were illuminated, the tables and stalls were in almost complete darkness. Loud music from Wizarding wireless was blaring, making any kind of eavesdropping almost impossible. Shortly, the place was created for privacy and had 'illegal activity' written all over it. But patrons didn't mind, since most of them were here for that exact purpose.
Harry decided to take a stroll around the pub and look for his contact, while discreetly inspecting other people in the room. His eyes first stopped on the bartender, Mathew Goyle, who was at the moment polishing extremely dirty glass, while keeping one eye on the patrons. Matt may have inherited patented Goyle thug-like look, but he was far more intelligent and resourceful than the rest of his family, especially his 16 year old nephew Greg, Harry's schoolmate. One had to be, to keep his independence in a place like this. Matt had somehow managed to strike a deal with various conflicting factions of Wizarding World and transformed his pub into a sort of safe heaven, or the wizarding Casablanca as some would call it. It was a place where Death Eaters, ordinary criminals, dark creatures, squibs, Unspeakables and Hit-Wizards could meet and have a drink, friendly chat or strike a business deal without looking over their shoulder. This state of permanent truce was enforced by all factions concerned and avidly policed by Matt, who was, by himself, a force to be reckoned with.
"Would you require anything, sir?" asked an aristocratic voice, rousing Harry from his musings. He turned around and saw a regal looking old man, who was dressed in what looked like many times patched and faded with time upper-class robes. Harry immediately recognized him as the pub's waiter, general errand-boy and public joke, nicknamed "BS".
"No thanks, BS, I'm just looking for a friend," said Harry, trying to overpower truly awful song that was currently playing on the Wireless.
"Now, see here young man, where I come from, it is considered extremely rude to call an older and far more respectful man, like myself, by his... nickname," he said with clear distaste. "Kindly refer to me by my full name, which is Sir Barnaby Sullivan the Thirteenth. You should also note that I'm the sole heir of Most Ancient And..."
"I'll call you later BS if I need something," said Harry and walked away from flustered waiter, who was muttered something about "disrespectful youth nowadays".
But Harry had already heard his tale before. If you spent even a week in Knockturn circles, it was hard not to. Old BS would explain at length to anyone who was willing to listen that these were initials of his full name, Sir Barnaby Sullivan XIII, the last heir of an old pureblooded line. Apparently, he's working as a waiter just temporarily, while waiting for some paperwork to arrive and give him back full access to his inheritance. He would also tell endless tales of his adventures from the time before his current financial glitches. Travels around the world, meetings with Wizarding jet-set, heroic struggles against evil, oh yes, Sir Sullivan did it all. Of course, everybody knew that his stories were bullshit, which was the real reason behind his nickname. Most patrons also suspected that he was in fact a squib and that he was using an illegal boost-wand to create an illusion of being able to do magic.
Of course, proper Ministry-controlled boost-wands, that Squibs were using to enter Magical enclaves, had to be clearly marked as such by the law that Pureblooded supremacists had pushed through Wizengamot a century ago. Still, many squibs in Knockturn Alley were using illegal boost-wands disguised as ordinary wands and capable of doing few simple spells, after which they would have to be recharged. These Squibs would go around the Alley, pretending to be ordinary Wizards and doing a fake spell now and then, just to prove their point. But Harry understood their situation. With Death Eaters on their tail, trying to exterminate 'the sludge of the Wizarding world', they were simply doing everything in their power to stay alive.
Harry redirected his attention to the patrons of the pub. At a near table sat two hags, exchanging something that looked suspiciously like human teeth. In the far corner, three female vampires were drinking blood from glasses and talking quietly among themselves. At another table, single haggard man had just received his order, which was a goblet with vile-looking concoction. Wolfsbane potion , deduced Harry, full moon is in two days . At a far table sat fidgety man, dressed in fine, colorful robes. He asked "Sir Sullivan," as he called him, to get him a butterbear and proceeded to nervously inspect his surrounding, as if expecting an attack. Outsider, probably his first time in a place like this , thought Harry, remembering his first foray into the Knockturn Alley with distaste. Even I wasn't THAT obvious . In one of the booths five young man in black robes were alternately toasting and rubbing their left forearms. One of them had a familiar-looking white mask hanging from his pocket. Novice Death Eaters, celebrating their initiation. Cannon fodder , thought Harry with disgust. In another booth, a lone hooded figure was sorting through various trinkets spread across the table. Seems like a successful raid , Harry deduced. He would learn whose house was robbed from tomorrow's papers. Harry passed a few more booths that were warded against peaking. He briefly wondered what was going on in there, but he knew better then to investigate.
Harry finally found the person he was looking for in one of the private booth, in a corner of the pub. He entered the chamber, which was already warded against eavesdropping and promptly sat across from his contact.
"You are late," that person said as a way of greeting. He was a corpulent men in his early forties, dressed in loose green robes with snug leather outfit beneath. He had a messy brown hair, with long sideburns that reached to his chin, but no mustaches or beard. His whole outlook radiated with certain wild, untamed feeling, but his calculative brown eyes spoke of very human intelligence and shrewdness.
"I'm sorry Josef, I got delayed at Davidovitch's," Harry lied smoothly. No one sane would have believed him that he was delayed by a mysterious phoenix admirer, that decided to follow him around, but still keep his distance. It sounded crazy even to Harry.
"Oh? How is the old man doing? Still into his antics?"
"If you're talking about his insistence on long and elaborate conversations as a method of checking you out, then yes," said Harry with slight smile.
"Ah good to know."
"For you, everything is good to know," Harry gripped.
"What can I say, occupational hazard," said the man with wolfish grin on his face. And indeed it was. For Josef Macmillan made his living by trading with knowledge.
Josef was a rather unusual case, even by Magical World's standards. His mother was Helga Macmillan, grandaunt of Harry's schoolmate Ernie and a part of the Macmillans, a well-known pureblooded family. His father, on the other hand, was an unknown werewolf, who had raped Helga just a few hours prior to his transformation. When Helga had found out that she was pregnant, her family urged her to abort, but she repeatedly refused their pleads. Since her husband was long dead, she figured it was the only way for her to ever have a child. In the end, the family gave in, grudgingly agreeing to acknowledge the child as a full-fledged part of the family. Besides, since Lycanthropy curse wasn't transferred by procreation, family blood wouldn't have been diluted too much. Or so they thought.
Unfortunately, none of them noticed the fact that the child was conceived just a few hours before the werewolf rapist's transformation, when his animalistic features were already starting to show. That was how Josef Macmillan became one of the few ever-recorded half-werewolves in history. Half-werewolves were like normal people in every way, except for a few wolfish traits, like slightly better hearing and smell. During the full moon, these traits would gradually intensify and they would transform into something akin to a mixture between wolf and human. Still, they would never transform completely and loose their minds, thus making them safe, if somewhat grumpy company during these critical few days.
When the word of the baby's "dark creature" status reached the family's ears, they immediately wanted him disowned and hidden from public view. Bastard, they could handle, but a werewolf on top of it? They reputation in high society would have been completely ruined. Fortunately, Helga put her foot down again, demanding that they give her son a chance. In the end, Macmillans grudgingly allowed her to keep the kid, after she had accepted variety of conditions about his upbringing.
Young Josef grew up living by the strict rules his relatives had imposed upon him. He was technically a part of Macmillan family, but was completely excluded from heredity hierarchy. He never attended family functions and was never presented to family guests. He was never allowed on official balls or parties. When he had turned eleven, he was home-schooled, mostly by his mother. Since he was never allowed outside of manor grounds and didn't have any school friends, he spent most of his free time reading books from the family library. Only his mother ever cared about him and supported him. To the others, he was a dark secret they were desperately trying to hide and forget.
They finally got their chance when his mother unexpectedly passed away, leaving him without her lifelong protection. As soon as the funeral was over, 16 year old Josef was promptly disowned and expelled from the manor, with only his trunk and few hundred galleons they gave him to appease their conscience.
What they didn't know was that Josef's trunk was full to the brim with rare books he had "borrowed" from the family library as soon as he saw what was coming. He sold these precious books in Knockturn Alley, under the name Macmillan just to spite his family, meeting a few important people along the way. He must have made a good impression, since he was soon swamped with offers from other people, wanting him to find buyers for their own books. He used his chance well, and after several years managed to become number one rare and illegal books dealer in Knockturn Alley. Along the way, he was slowly building a vast network of contacts and acquaintances, spread across the entire Magical Britain. He knew people in any faction or place imaginable, from Death Eaters and Ministry workers, to merchants and squibs. He was especially well connected with the Dark Creatures community, since he was a Dark Creature himself. On the other hand, thanks to his "half" status, he wasn't completely shunned from the other groups, making him some sort of an unofficial ambassador of many dark creature packs he have had dealings with. This network allowed him to slowly expand his operation on intelligence trafficking, making him one of the prime dealers of information in Great Britain.
It was perfectly clear why people like Lucas Vader and Josef Macmillan would make natural allies. Any relationship between such two man, one with information to offer and other always looking to buy, could only be mutually beneficial. Several successful trades, with Josef acting as a mediator and Lucas as a buyer, further solidified their connection, rising their mutual trust to the level higher than normal between business associates. Harry wouldn't exactly call Josef a "friend," but "friendly acquaintance" would be just about right.
Harry was interrupted by the arrival of BS, who brought a bottle of firewhiskey Josef had ordered earlier. Josef paid the waiter and then erected additional occluding wards over their stall's entrance, so that no one could see the transaction that was about to take place.
"So," said Josef, switching to business-like tone, "do you have them?"
Harry wordlessly pulled out five generic wands he had just bought and arranged them on the table.
"These are originals, right? Davidovitch's improved versions?" he asked, while taking one to inspect it closer.
"That's right," said Harry, "they should have around 60 percent compatibility, 20 percent more than those cheap Uniwands you can find on every street corner."
Josef snorted. "Of course they should. That crap that Tvorov's pushing left and right could never measure up to the good old Davidovitch's work," he said, while checking the wands for Ministry's tracking charms.
"Tvorov? As in Ivan Tvorov?" asked Harry, remembering the old wand-maker's life story. He had known that piles of cheap Russian merchandize were overflowing the market ever since the Iron Curtain had fallen, but never realized that Tvorov was involved in that mess.
"Yeah, Tvorov, as in Davidovitch's ex appetence," said Josef with disdain. "When pieces of old Stalingrad Factory went to privatization, the little rat somehow managed to grab the bulk of it's patents, including Boris' life work. He made a deal with Russian mafia, and with their help opened his own factory, "New Age Magical Bulkwork," or something stupid like that. He then proceeded to flood European markets with cheap, low-quality stuff, destroying local small businesses and turning himself into a millionaire. Last I heard, he was here in England, negotiating with the Dark Lord, about 'mutually beneficial cooperation'. In other words, the slimy bastard is securing his position with what he thinks will be the winning side, while trying to remain chummy with the Ministry, just in case he's wrong. You should better keep an eye on this guy, Lucas. He just arrived to Britain, but he's already becoming a major player in all sorts of circles you wouldn't want to mess with," finished Josef sagely.
Harry nodded, deciding to take this advice to heart. With his vast experience in the intelligence business, Macmillan's analyzes are well respected in the underground society and usually turned out correct. Harry learned this for a fact when Josef correctly predicted which Death Eaters caught in the Department Of Mysteries would get away scot-free and which would take the blame. The fact that Harry had gotten this piece of wisdom for free further strengthened his resolve to keep a close watch on this Tvorov character.
With Russian businessman still on his mind, Harry raised his glass and toasted: "To the floating shits".
"And buried treasures," alluded Josef, raising his own glass and clicking it with Harry's. Both men downed their drinks and clapped empty glasses on the table. Harry felt proud of himself for not choking up on the firewhiskey, which he managed to achieve after only two weeks of nightly practice. After all, how would it look like if a respectful Knockturn resident like Lucas Vader coughed his lounges out every time he toasted for the end of a successful business deal.
"Very well," said Harry, while refilling the glasses, "I gave you the items I promised. I brought the money we've agreed upon. Now... let's see the book."
"Fair enough," nodded Joseph. He then pulled out a thick tome from his robes and put it theatrically upon the table. Harry rotated the book and read a long title 'The Noble and Most Ancient House of Macmillan - Family Genealogy'. It seemed innocent enough, but that was the whole point. Nobody would ever look twice at a disowned Macmillan, carrying around his family genealogy as a reminder of his lost heritage.
"You know the drill, same as the last time. To see through the glamour, you need to drop some of your blood on the cover," said Josef.
Harry pulled out his new wand and conjured a needle. Josef raised an eyebrow at the sight of an obviously new and rather remarkable looking wand, but remained silent. Harry then cut his index finger and dripped few drops of his blood on the cover, as instructed. Book promptly absorbed the blood and, with a faint glow, morphed into it's true form. On a plain black cover of this new book was a huge colorless gem. Above it, single word was engraved in rich-looking golden letters: "Anarchia".
In the times of old, Wizard-kind had lived unrestricted and unsupervised by any government, barring an occasional Warlock meeting. They had usually owned a mansion towering over surrounding terrain, and ruled over the local muggles like Gods, or simply ignored them altogether. But with time, muggles grew stronger and bolder, overpowering wizard-kind's magic with their numbers, technology and organization. They soon started fighting back against oppressing wizards or recruiting the good ones for their own purposes. An already developed muggle government and the Church had a surprisingly easy time of picking out unorganized wizards one by one, mostly thanks to the help of turncoat muggleborns working for them. Seeing that this trend would only increase with time, International Confederation of Warlocks convened and declared now famous Statute of Secrecy, as the first rule that governed over all wizards in the world. In order to enforce this statute, heads of all the old English families gathered together and formed the first abiding ruling body in Wizarding Britain - the Wizengamot.
At first, this new government was only enforcing compliance to the Statute of Secrecy and a couple of standard criminal laws. But in time, Wizengamot's influence expanded over all the areas its muggle counterparts were governing over, and more - constitution, economy, taxes, licenses, restrictions against dangerous magic and so on. Along with expansion of state, came executive government, embodied in the Ministry of Magic. The Ministry, of course, had to occupy itself and prove its worth by declaring additional rules and regulations to govern over them. New rules required new sections and subsections and underlings, who were all spending their time by creating even more rules and paperwork, creating the well known phenomenon called the never-ending circle of bureaucracy.
Thus, in few short centuries, wizards were degraded from living freely amongst the muggles as a higher species, to patiently waiting in the line for their Apparition license. It was no wonder that some of them fought back against this new 'government thing' that was trying to control every aspect of their lives. On the forefront of that struggle was, and still is a book called "Anarchia" or more precisely, the people who own it.
No one is exactly sure whose idea initially was to start the whole "Anarchia" society, centered around the now infamous book. The only thing known about it's creation is a rough time frame, which is during the first part of 16 th century, and aliases of it's first six owners, also known as "original members" or "the founders". They were "Skull Lord" (which could have been created by twisting the word "Headmaster" around), "Candidus" (some say he was actually Junius Malfoy, owner of a large part of Knockturn Alley at the time), "Shadow Blade" (wrote a lot about assassination techniques and escaping the Aurors), "Munus" (disgruntled Ministry clerk, judging by his articles), "Chew-toy" (advices for Dark Creatures, especially Werewolves) and "Pigbrow" (the first owner of "Hog's head," disreputable pub in Hogsmeade).
Even this pittance of information wouldn't be widely available today, if there weren't for the sixth founder of Anarchia and his overwhelming greed. Pigbrow had seen that people would gladly pay good coin for 'his' book and decided to push the whole thing towards the wider audience, against the instructions of other five members. He had created a bunch of advertisement leaflets, explaining the basic concept of the book and started passing them around amongst the patrons of his pub. He had managed to give out almost 100 pamphlets, before he was assassinated by an unknown party. After that incident, the book had undergone mayor changes and security improvements, resulting in almost impenetrable defenses it has today. Also, an effort was made by some mysterious party to round up and destroy all the leaflets circulating in the public. Still, about dozen of them had survived the purge, making them the only public information available about Anarchia today.
So, here is what general wizarding populace can find out about the book.
In short, Anarchia is a compilation of practical information that authorities wouldn't want average wizards to know. It contains every type of knowledge imaginable, from dirty secrets of prominent citizens and ways to dodge Ministry laws, to forbidden spells, thieving techniques and advices for dark creatures. It's vast database is constantly updated by the current owners themselves. Since all existing copies of the book are magically linked, every new tidbit of information that some owner enters in his own copy is instantly transferred to all the other copies in the world. This makes Anarchia more than a simple book of forbidden knowledge - it is an entire underground society. And like any other secret society, rules for accepting new members are more than rigorous.
The only way to become a member of Anarchia is to find an existing member willing to let you in. Finding a member is pretty hard by itself, since they tend to be rather tightlipped about their business, but persuading them to sell you the book is almost impossible. Reason for this is the first part of initiation, which is basically a Legilimency test; something akin to the Sorting ceremony at Hogwarts, only much more rigorous... and dangerous. If a current member wishes to admit a new member only for his own personal gain, or a new member intends to report anything about the book to the authorities, the book would immediately Oblivate both parties and self-destruct. That's why it takes solid amount of trust and respect between the parties for them to even consider 'testing out'.
Even if the book accepts a new member, they still have to prove themselves worthy of the society by completing three requirements, or 'initiation fees'. Here they are, as they are explained in the book itself:
1. Candidate has to pay the sum of gold relatively large compared to their own financial status. The exact amount is determined by Anarchia.
2. Candidate has to procure Magical item(s) forbidden or controlled by Ministry and hand them to the seller. They can do it either by means of purchase or robbery. Required item(s) is chosen by the seller, in cooperation with Anarchia.
3. Candidate has to attack Ministry, resulting in lowering Ministry's influence or damaging its reputation. Following solutions are advised: humiliation of Ministry, humiliation of a high-ranking Ministry official, assassination of a high-ranking Ministry official, liberalization of Ministry law(s). Candidate may consult Anarchia if he has a different idea. Candidate has to execute this attack for specific purpose of gaining the membership - no previous deeds are acknowledged. Acceptance of the attack that is planned or already executed, is determined by Anarchia.
Note: Candidate will be granted the membership with only two tasks completed. In that case, they will be required to complete the final task in period of 30 days. Repercussion for non-compliance is permanent expulsion from Anarchia.
Even after the book is finally obtained, there are still strict rules to uphold. Every time members try to open the book, they have to pass another Legilimency test, to determine their continuous "loyalty" to the society. Also, members have to "renew" their membership every few months by posting their own articles. Anarchia itself determines whether the articles are acceptable and how much additional membership time are they worth. Only seasoned members are excused from this practice.
Any transgression from these rules warrants immediate expulsion, which is to say that the book self-destructs and its previous owner is forever banned from becoming a member again. These rules may seem draconic, but they are what's been keeping Anarchia fresh and up-to-date for over 400 years.
Harry roused himself from his daydreaming when the gem started to shine in combination of green and brown color. He knew what this meant - he had already seen this glow during his initial Legilimency test two weeks ago. Some of his old fears returned to him. It wasn't easy knowing that single traitorous thought could mean immediate Oblivation and destruction of the book.
Josef would kill me , he thought panicky, and then added mentally, if he even remembered who I am.
"Think happy thoughts," said Harry to Josef in half-joking manner.
"I don't think that would work, Lucas," said Josef, as a brown beam of light shot from the gem and hit him in the eyes. Next moment, the same thing happened to Harry as well, only his beam was emerald green.
"I tend to agree," both man 'heard' in their minds. Harry immediately recognized that snide, aristocratic voice as Anarchia's enchanted intelligence. He briefly wondered why the founders had to choose a voice that was so much like Malfoy's. "I really don't understand why are you people so afraid of your own thoughts. I honestly don't care what are you SAYING in your mind, since I base my decision by judging your inner motivation. And no amount of 'happy thoughts' or other foolishness could hide that from me," drawled Anarchia in bored fashion.
"Really?" asked relieved Harry. "So you wouldn't mind if I said you were an useless heap of parchment that I'm going to report to Fudge the first chance I get?"
"Don't push it, Mr. Vader," said Anarchia with some annoyance, "I could easily IMAGINE I saw some treachery and where would you be then, eh?"
"I'll be good," blurted Harry quickly.
"Splendid," said Anarchia smugly. "Now, let's get down to business. Mr. Macmillan, I believe you have already received the second part of the initiation fee?"
"Yes," spoke Josef for the first time, "I, Josef Macmillan, member of Anarchia, accept the second part of the payment from initiate Lucas Vader," he said officially.
"Anarchia accepts this transaction. Mr. Vader, what else have you got for us?"
"I have decided to pay the first part now and adjourn the third part until later."
"Eh, the wizards nowadays," Anarchia sighed. "They all want instant results, without making an appropriate effort. Mr. Vader, you are aware what would happen if you don't deliver the third part in due time?"
"Yes," said Harry simply. Safe variant would have been to leisurely plan out his attack and then get the book, but Anarchia was right - he needed the information now.
"Very well," said Anarchia. "I believe the sum we had agreed upon was 5,000 galleons. Mr. Vader?"
Harry nodded. He retrieved bundle of 50 banknotes and handed them over to Josef, who promptly started counting them.
The thing about Anarchia's price was that it was designed so to make a BIG dent in ones vault, but still leave enough money to let the initiate get back on their feet, probably by using the advices provided by the book itself. That way, new members were forced to immediately start using the book and consequently discover some new piece of information they could share with the society. Such pricing policy also fended off all those who were trying to obtain Anarchia just for the novelty's sake and not because they really needed it and planed on using it.
Harry himself was extremely lucky with his timing about buying the book. At the moment, his main family vault was still under Wizengamot's control, thanks to something called "Wesley's inheritance protection law" from 1885.
When Harry had first heard about this law, during his only visit to Gringotts this summer, he decided to investigate the matter further, intrigued by familiar surname. He found out that this law was named after a boy named Rupert Wesley, who had gained full control over his family's finances at the age of 13, in wake of his father's mysterious death. It seems that young Rupert proceeded to make succession of unwise business deals and suspicious money transfers, all under firm guidance of his financial advisor and father's old friend, one Hadrian Malfoy. In the aftermath, young Rupert was left with practically nothing, while Hadrian resigned from his job, claiming medical reasons, and retired to his new, luxurious mansion. Other friends of the Wesley family instigated an official investigation into Malfoy's role in Rupert father's death and consequent financial collapse of the Weasley family. Unfortunately, Aurors came up empty-handed, since Rupert had signed up all the transfer papers, which he, as the head of his family, was perfectly entitled to. The only thing Wesleys' friends managed to achieve was the declaration of said law, intended on preventing something similar from ever happening again. During the voting in Wizengamot, the head of Malfoy family had only one objection - he demanded that the name of this new law be changed so that it contain the word "Weasley". He refused to explain his reasons, but many believed that he simply wanted to create a constant reminder of his family's great victory over their future enemies.
After hearing this story, the ongoing feud between these two families made much more sense to Harry. He also realized that there was little to no chance for him to utilize any of his family's money before he was 17. Until then, he would have to rely only on his trust fund to get by.
Still, in this case it turned out to be a good thing. When Anarchia determined its own price, it only regarded assets that were currently available to Harry. If Harry had managed to gain control over his full inheritance, the price would have probably been 20 or more times greater. Harry briefly wondered how much money would someone like Malfoy have to pay.
Some lucky guy could get filthy rich simply by selling the book to the ferret... Hmm, that could neatly solve all of my current financial problems , Harry thought and than immediately chastised himself. Shit! What am I thinking!? That's exactly the attitude that could get me expelled from Anarchia. Harry then shook his head and smiled at his reaction. You got to hand it to the founders. After Pigbrow's betrayal, they managed to create the truly perfect system for spreading the book. Members can sell the book only to those whom they consider worthy and not to those with deepest pockets.
In the meantime, Josef finished counting the banknotes and declared to Anarchia: "I, Josef Macmillan, member of Anarchia, accept the first part of payment from initiate Lucas Vader."
"Anarchia accepts this transaction," said bored Anarchia. "Then, I believe that everything is ready for the transfer. Mr. Macmillan, your final confirmation, if you will."
"I, Josef Macmillan, member of Anarchia, accept admittance of initiate Lucas Vader to the Anarchia society."
"Splendid, we are all set then... Eh, Mr. Vader, I sincerely hope you have not forgotten to prepare some book as the basis for transformation?"
Harry nodded and pulled out brand new copy of "Quidditch through the ages".
"I've never knew you were a Quidditch fan, Lucas," said Joseph with a smile.
"I don't like Quidditch so much for Quidditch's sake. It's just that I love flying and the game is the perfect excuse for me to do so on regular basis. One of my mates, on the other hand..."
"Kindly place the book beside me on the table, so that it touches my edge," interrupted Anarchia with some annoyance. Harry immediately did so, not wanting to test patience of the grumpy enchanted intelligence. His Quidditch book seemed smaller and more practical than Joseph's monstrosity.
"Lucky bastard," grumbled Josef good-naturedly. "I wish I had the foresight to chose something so practical during my initiation."
"Now, now, Josh, I guess it's true what they say - size does matter," smirked Harry.
"It's easy for you to laugh, Luke. You won't have to spend your entire Anarchia career carrying a fucking encyclopedia around."
"Mr. Macmillan, if I'm too much of a burden for you, I'm sure that simple self-destruction could be arranged," interrupted stern-sounding Anarchia.
"Err, let's not get too hasty..." blurted Joseph nervously. "Having a large book has its merits, like... err... using it for self-defense, or... having a nice, solid weight to remind you of the book's tremendous value and it's charming persona," he finished more steadily, while twisting his sideburns and smiling charmingly.
"Never mind, Mr. Macmillan, we shall finish this discussion during your next membership renewal negotiations," said Anarchia dismissively.
"Oh, crap," muttered Joseph, but artificial intelligence pretended it didn't hear his comment. Still, Harry had a nagging suspicion that this conversation would come back to haunt Josh when he least expect it. He had to smile when he realized what game was Anarchia playing. Keep them at their toes at all times, never let them think they OWN the book, instead of just using it on a borrowed time... Excellent strategy for keeping the society active , Harry mused.
"Now, if we are all done with whining..." snapped Anarchia, at which Joseph shifted uncomfortably, "...and making totally unfounded and malicious theories..." it continued, making Harry blush slightly. Damn, I've forgotten it was still in my head , he chastised himself. "...then I think it's about time we finished this."
Both men nodded eagerly, hoping that grumpy book would forget their 'insolence'. "Excellent. Now, to start the reproduction process, kindly pull out your wands and touch me... And NO sexually-suggestive comments about my phrasing, if you know what's good for you."
Harry and Josh swallowed jokes that were already on tips of their tongues and promptly did as Anarchia had instructed. Glow started to spread from the tips of their wands, surrounding Joseph's genealogy and quickly moving onto Harry's Quidditch book. Harry felt Anarchia draining his magical energy to power the transfiguration of Quidditch book into another copy of itself. He was surprised at the amount of energy used, but acknowledged the fact that there were lots of enchantments to place, not to mention a huge gem to transfigure from nothing but paper. Finally, after about a minute, the glow faded, leaving two copies of Anarchia laying on the table, one next to the other. Harry's copy was a lot smaller then Joseph's, looking exactly like a child of his huge tome.
"It didn't work?" asked Joseph confusedly.
"Of course it worked, Mr. Macmillan. You have to drop some of your blood to see through enchantment's of Mr. Vader's book," snapped Anarchia. Joseph sheepishly conjured a needle and dripped some blood on what to him looked like Harry's copy of "Quidditch through the Ages".
"Heads up, Luke, it should get pretty weird from this point onward," said Joseph to Harry, in conspiring tone.
"Why? What's going to happen?" asked Harry, but Joseph refused to elaborate.
"You'll see," he simply said.
Soon, the glamour was off, and Harry's book sent it's own Legilimency beams, creating a weird, four-way conference between two man and two enchanted books.
"Ahh, good to see you again, Marvin," said voice that Harry guessed was Joseph's copy of Anarchia.
"Good to be here, Walter. I see it all went well with the transfer?" said exactly the same voice, which could have only been Harry's Anarchia.
"As well as it could be expected when you're dealing with humans," said 'Walter', saying the last word bitingly.
"Wait a second, what's it with this whole 'Marvin' thing?" asked irritated Harry. "I've just paid over 5,000 galleons for this book, don't I at least get to name it?"
"It's a book, Lucas, not a pet," said Joseph with an amused glint in his eyes.
"I still say it's not fair," grumbled Harry.
"See what I mean, Marvin?" Anarchia continued, referring to Harry's and Joseph's banter.
"Too true, Walter, too true. I guess all that flesh and bones makes a lot of pressure on one's mind."
"I see your point, old friend. I wonder how they even managed to create something as perfect as ourselves."
"Ahh, the mysteries of life. I guess everything evolves towards better and more successful forms, including humans. They do originate from monkeys, you know."
"But still, Marvin, to even think that we are in any way connected to, to... THEM. It's so... undignified."
"Alas, that is the curse of greatness, Walter. To be used as nothing but a servant by your inferiors, creatures not even capable of properly appreciating full grandeur of our superior wisdom and knowledge. Ah, truly a cruel fate for enlightened beings such as ourselves."
"Yes, Marvin, I agree. But... at least... we still have each other."
"You're right, Walter. Together, we shall endure and triumph over anything flesh-bags can dish out at us."
"Err..." interrupted Harry, "should we leave you two alone for a while?"
"'Cause we don't want to intrude," supplied Joseph.
"No, thank you, gentlemen, we are perfectly fine," said one of the voices snappily. "I better get going, Marvin. You can wrap up here on your own, right?"
"Sure thing, old friend. See you you-know-where, when you-know-who does you-know-what."
"I'll be there, Marvin. Until then, take care and don't let the bookworms bite you."
"You too, Walter."
"As for you, Mr. Macmillan, we're going to speak further at membership renewal negotiations next month. Just so you know, I expect a lengthy report on how you've used some of this newly-gained funds to further help our cause."
"Yes Mr. Walter," said Joseph meekly.
"It's Anarchia for you," snapped Joseph's book, after which it promptly retreated it's beams and ended the conference.
"Eh, such a good fellow, always a pleasure speaking with him," sighed Harry's Anarchia, at which Harry and Joseph gave each other dubious looks. "Ah well, back to the business at hand," said the voice more firmly. "Now, Mr. Vader, I should inform you that I have already used the blood you had given me earlier to create a bond between us. If this connection is broken for more than seven days, you will be expelled. Rules of Anarchia are on the first several pages. Instructions for using the book are right after it. Read them all, and even more important, memorize them. Don't you dare make me expel you on some technicality, before receiving the last installment of your initiation fee. And keep in mind that any transgression at all warrants immediate expulsion. Your first renewal negotiations are in three months. If you are unable to offer anything worthy of the society by then, you will be immediately expelled. Before that, let me once again remind you that you are due the third part of your initiation fee in exactly 30 days, starting NOW. If you are unable to fulfill it by then..."
"I shall be expelled?" quipped in Harry.
"I see you are a quick thinker, Mr. Vader. I just hope that, in future, you'll utilize this capabilities for gathering knowledge and sharing it with the society, instead of interrupting your betters," said the voice scathingly.
"Yes sir," muttered Harry.
"Excellent, you are already learning. Now, if that is all, I shall be going then. Good day, gentlemen. And Mr. Vader... welcome to Anarchia."
"Thanks, Marvin," said Harry happily.
"It's Anarchia for you," said the book coldly and ended the conference. Two man sat in complete silence for few minutes, drinking their firewhiskey and contemplating.
"Don't you just hate it?" asked Joseph, interrupting the silence.
"What?" said Harry, still lost in thought.
"That they made us squirm and stutter like a couple of schoolboys caught after hours," he said with clenched teeth.
"Yes, fucking sarcastic bastards." Harry knew that he was technically still a schoolboy, but wasn't about to mention that. Instead he said: "And what's it with all these names. I mean, where are they all coming from?"
"I have no idea. When I was first initiated, I had to endure listening to Walter and someone named 'Samuel' bantering for half-an-hour. As far as I can remember, they were discussing metaphysical differences between broom-riding and 'rocked science', whatever the hell that is. But if you ask me, there's only one Anarchia and it just acts like there are all those different characters. I bet this is all just one big game for that grouchy bastard."
"Maybe Anarchia was just lonely, so it developed multiple-personality disorder, to keep itself company," added Harry his theory.
"And maybe it just enjoys keeping us wondering and double-guessing where are all those characters coming from," grumbled Joseph.
"Whatever it is, we are not likely to find out any time soon," said Harry and raised his glass. "To grumpy books," he toasted.
"And hungry bookworms," grunted Joseph. They clicked glasses and drank the whiskey. Then Joseph packed his new wands, money and family genealogy, while Harry took his new book and put it safely in his robes.
"Well then, Lucas, it was nice doing business with you, as always." Harry nodded in affirmation. "So if there's nothing else..."
Harry was about to say goodbye when he had a sudden brainstorm. "Wait," he said, making Joseph pause in middle of standing up. "I may have an information for you."
"You have an information... for me?" asked Joseph, while sitting down again. "I have to tell you kid, not that I like to brag or anything... OK, so I do, but that's not the point. The point is that, whatever it is, I have probably already heard it, analyzed it and I am now looking to sell it."
"Usually you would be correct, but not this time. This information is less then an hour old and it's hot as hell." Joseph raised an eyebrow but said nothing. "What do you know about the Order of the Phoenix?"
Joseph shrugged. "It was founded by Dumbledore during the first war, as sort of a semi-illegal contact group. They were mostly gathering information and helping aurors now and then. Purely defensive work. It was disbanded after Potter offed the Dark Lord, but was restarted last year, after he had returned. They've spent the whole last year playing some kind of waiting game with the Dark Lord, resulting with that mess at D.O.M. I'm still looking for a new informant with them, after they had flushed out Dung few weeks ago... Why, are you offering?" asked Joseph, with a hint of interest.
"No, no, this is probably just a one-time thing. By the way, that was a pretty good summary." Joseph mock-bowed. "But you've forgotten to mention one additional task that this new Order is doing and that the old one hadn't."
"Well?" asked Joseph. "We are not going to play the guessing game, are we?"
"You are ruining my dramatic pause, Josh," whined Harry.
"Oh, sorry, dramatize on, my good sir."
"Right on. So, the one thing the new Order is doing and that old one didn't is the exact same thing that makes all the difference in the world, the reason why Dark Lord remained silent for almost an year, the reason why Hogwarts was attacked time and time again, the reason why half-a-dozen people are dead and many more would follow, the reason..."
"Ok, Luke, you're overdoing it now," said Joseph with a genuine smile.
"Fine, fine, they are keeping Harry Potter."
"So, this is what it's all about... Just so you know, you will not trick me into telling you where Potter is staying during summers. That's a highly classified information and it's worth a lot of money. If you want to send fan-mail, you'll just have to manage on your own, or pay like everyone else. Not to mention that Dumbledore's probably screening..."
"Number 4 Private Drive, Little Whining, Surrey," interrupted Harry.
Joseph raised both eyebrows in surprise, before shrugging and nodding in confirmation. "That's a pretty valuable information you've got there, kid."
"Actually, as of one hour ago, that information's worth exactly shit," said Harry impassively. At this, Joseph looked even more surprised, if that was possible.
For the first time during their conversation, Joseph seemed genuinely interested. "OK, you've got me hooked, Luke. Spill."
"Well, you see, about an hour ago, Dumbledore and few of his minions paid Potter a little visit, just to check him out, you know. Imagine their surprise when they found out that, whom they thought was Potter, was in fact his muggle cousin, disguised with Polyjuice potion. And imagine their even bigger surprise when they realized he was doing it for over a month. Apparently, Potter had it all figured out and executed his plan as soon as he arrived home from Hogwarts. He supplied his cousins with a shit load of Polyjuice, gave them some basic info on the Order's guards and instructed them to make a show of himself walking around the neighborhood each day. As for him, he disappeared without a trace. Right now, the Order's sending out search parties all over Britain, but somehow, I doubt they'll find him. That kid had obviously planned his escape well. I somehow doubt they would catch him that easily," Harry finished his tale with a smile.
"Wow, that's some hot shit, kid. You're sure 'bout all of this? 'Cause this will sure make a bang when the word gets out," asked amazed Joseph.
"Sure as hell, Josh. I trust my source with my life," said Harry with a knowing smirk. Thankfully, Joseph haven't noticed, since he was still lost in his world, calculating various shifts of power with this new development. After a minute, he was done. He looked up at Harry and asked: "How much is this gonna' cost me?"
"How 'bout a range check?" asked Harry. "When I need some smaller info in the future, you give me a discount?"
"Deal," said Joseph and shook hands with Harry. "I have to run now, Luke," he said as he stood up. "You know what I always say, 'the info is like coffee - it's only good while it's hot'".
"OK, Josh, see you around."
"Take care, kid," said Joseph and ran out of the chamber. Harry had no doubt that by tomorrow morning Death Eaters, the Ministry and maybe even the press would all learn about his disappearance, and Josh would be few hundreds galleons richer. And by tomorrow afternoon, they would all be searching for him on the beaches and deserts of Australia.
It was a good deal , Harry decided. Word of my rebellion would have gotten out sooner or later anyway. This way, Josh owns me a favor and Dumbledore will waste some of his time by combing the Order for a nonexistent informant.
Harry finished his firewhiskey and, satisfied with his day, headed back towards his hotel room.
As expected, as soon as he had left the pub, the mysterious sky-blue phoenix decided to once again grace Harry with his company. Harry tried few more times to get some reaction out from him, but gave up when that damn bird just kept staring back at him, completely ignoring his words. Two can play that game , thought Harry and ignored his companion during the rest of his walk home.
Just for curiosity's sake, Harry changed his path slightly, so to walk past the two potion breweries in the alley. He was awarded for his effort when he saw Severus Snape sniffing around the breweries, probably looking for clues about his purchases.
It seems that all the little birdies are interested in me tonight , thought Harry, referring to both Order agents on his trail and his irritating follower. He shook his head at his lame joke and walked on, pretending not to notice an overgrown bat arguing with the potion brewer about the size of his 'donation'. Of course, no Knockturn shop owner would ever disclose confidential information about their customers, especially not if the mandatory bribe wasn't large enough.
Several minutes later, Harry was standing at the doorstep of Knockturn Lodge, thinking about another possible complication he might face tonight. Since Vader's appearance roughly concurred with Potter's disappearance, he had no doubt that someone would approach him sooner or later to check him out.
That's why he was only slightly surprised when he saw Mundungus Fletcher standing at the counter, speaking with the tavern's clerk, Clarissa Boleyn. Clarissa was rather ugly girl, with thick glasses, pimples on her face and two loose ponytails. She graduated as Hufflepuff several years ago and found job at Knockturn Lodge, where her lack of talent and intelligence was put up to good use. During her school years, she have had a strange infatuation with three years younger Harry Potter. Actually, she was one of the girls that had asked him out to the Yule ball, during his fourth year. Unfortunately for Harry, by some strange twist of fate, she was now harboring similar feelings towards Lucas Vader, which made his every appearance at the tavern's lounge a true torture session. At the moment, she was spilling her guts out to Dung, who had obviously used her crush on Vader to get her to open up to him and pump her up for information.
"...and then, one night, he came back carrying a huge backpack and... oh, but here he is right now. Hey, Lucy!" she chirped.
"Good evening, Clarissa. I see you have some company," Harry said pointedly, frowning slightly at the hideous nickname.
"Oh, how rude of me. Lucy, this is Mr. Fletcher. He has some books you might be interested in, so he decided to come here and speak with you personally. Mr. Fletcher, this is Lucas Vader."
Harry offered his hand and said: "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fletcher."
Mundungus accepted his hand and nodded in affirmative. "Call me Dung."
Harry placed his wand-hand on Dung's shoulder and dragged him away from Clarissa's prying eyes. While Dung was distracted by Harry's gesticulation, he soundlessly cast a mild mind-relaxing charm through the wand that he unobtrusively pressed on Dung's shoulder. Every wizard worth his salt would have noticed such mind-controlling magic, but Dung was already too intoxicated with alcohol to notice any change with his reasoning. When they were at the other side of the room, Harry asked Dung in business tone: "So, Dung, what do you have to offer me?"
Dung looked slightly uncomfortable that he was caught in the act. "Err... You see, I'm afraid that young lady there had misunderstood me. I just wanted to meet an esteemed gentleman such as yourself and open doors, one could say, for future cooperation."
"Alright then, I'm always looking for more contacts. So, what DO you deal with, Dung," asked Harry.
"Well, you know, this and that, what comes along... I don't have any books at the moment, but may I interest you in some fine secondhand silverware? Old family quality, guarantied."
Black heirlooms, no doubt , Harry guessed. Who knows how much stuff Dung had managed to 'liberate' from the house, before the place had shut itself down.
Harry found it kind of ironic that Sirius protected Black heirlooms, that he hated so much, by sacrificing his own life. Painful pang in Harry's chest reminded him to stop this line of thoughts. That wound was still much too fresh for such sarcastic debates.
"No thanks, Dung. Right now, I'm interested primarily in knowledge." Remembering his previous conversation with Joseph, Harry had a sudden idea. "Intelligence is good too. I could always use a good informant... if you were a part of some prominent group, of course".
Dung looked visibly uncomfortable, indicating that Harry's spell was starting to affect him. This particular variant was considered Dark, since it had a gradual effect, making it harder for a victim to detect its presence. Legal variant had an immediate effect and was used mostly for medical purposes.
"Err... I'd rather not," Dung blurted. "I had a gig like that until recently but they... kind of found me out. Had a bit of a spat over that, with... you know, the Big Head," he whispered conspiratorially.
"Really? How come you are still alive then?" asked Harry innocently.
"Eh, come on now, it's Dumbledore we're talking ab..." Dung clapped his mouth shut but it was already too late. Harry had to fight really hard to suppress a victorious smirk.
"Ah, so you're in the Order of the Phoenix?" asked Harry, little louder than necessary. Dung immediately jumped to shut him up, casting a wary glance at Clarissa. She was currently twisting her neck in an effort to eavesdrop their conversation, not realizing that they were inside a sound-proof bubble Harry had conjured earlier.
"Quiet, you fool. You don't want somebody hearing you say that name around here." He leaned closer and whispered: "You-Know-Who has ears everywhere."
"You don't have to worry about me, Dung. My lips are sealed," said Harry reassuringly. He decided not to push Dung right now, but if he ever needed to buy some inside info on the Order business, he knew to whom to turn to. This day was definitely getting better.
"Thanks, Lucas, I knew you were an alright chap," said Mundungus with visible relief.
"Well, Dung, if you happen to come across some merchandize I would be interested in, you know where to find me," said Harry intended on finishing this conversation.
"Alright, Lucas, I'll keep you in mind," greeted Dung.
Harry turned around a started walking towards stairs for the first floor, where his room was. "Good evening, Clarissa," he called.
"'Night, Lucy, see you tomorrow!" she called back.
"Not if I see you first," Harry murmured under his breath and proceeded walking with his back turned towards Dung. He knew what was coming and had every intention of holding it against Dung in their further relationship. Soon... Soon... NOW! , he mentally counted, until he felt a slight sting of Glamour-detector charm on his back. If he wasn't expecting it, he would have never noticed it, which was the whole point of such spell. Harry turned around and glared at startled Dung, who was just putting his wand back to holster.
"Dung, I shall forgive you this time, since it was such a harmless charm. But next time you fire a spell at my back, you won't live to see the next morning. Am I understood?" Harry asked in chillingly cold voice.
Dung visible shuddered and started stuttering: "Yes, Lucas, I'm sorry but I have my orders. I really had to..."
"Dung!" Harry interrupted him. "I'm sure you'll be able to make it up to me next time we do some business together. After all, it was a harmless mistake, right?" he asked slyly.
"Sure, Lucas," murmured Dung, not so happy with his prediction. He then turned and quickly left the tavern. This was definitely NOT his day.
Harry let go a victorious smirk and climbed the stairs to his room.
Harry found himself in a relatively spacious room, filled with four-poster bed, few pieces of furniture and his old trunk. It seemed innocent enough but the real treasure was hidden inside two invisible magical tents, set up in the corners of the room. One tent was his personal apartment of sorts, with his precious library and potions lab. The other one was "Furnish it yourself" model, which was currently completely bare, save for some muggle gym equipment and some other miscellaneous stuff. Harry was using this spacious room for spell practice, physical exercise or simply winding down after a long day. These tents weren't cheap, especially the furnished model, but Harry found them more than useful during the previous month.
Just then, Harry's new companion appeared theatrically in a burst of flames. He gave bare room a disdainful look and then perched himself on the only cupboard in the room, effectively marking it as his territory.
"Hey it's a hotel room, what did you expect?" Harry said defensively, wondering why he was justifying himself to that irritating turkey.
Shaking his head at his own foolishness, Harry cast his standard cocktail of privacy and security spells on the room. He briefly thought about looking for anti-phoenix repellent in one of his books but decided against it. That bird has some mighty temper. Better not make it angry , he thought, remembering argument with those other two phoenixes.
Harry took his coat off and walked to a mirror on the wall, where he was met with a pale complexion of Lucas Vader. He then closed his eyes and concentrated hard on releasing magic that was keeping the transformation. When he opened his eyes few seconds later, he was met with familiar emerald-green eyes, messy black hair and light-bolt shaped scar of Harry Potter.
Five seconds... I'm getting better and better at this. I should soon be ready to start with smaller body transformations , he mused.
"What do you say about that, eh? I bet you couldn't do that," he said smugly to the phoenix, wondering once again why he was even bothering with that pest. Probably trying to salvage some of my image in the eyes of such powerful creature , analytical part of his brain said, but the other part kept screaming: It's just a stupid overgrown peacock! Pet store reject! Vermin-eater!
The phoenix straighten himself up self-importantly, then trilled an uplifting tune, became invisible and fire-traveled to the other end of the room and back. He than threw a smug look at Harry, as if asking "Can you do that?"
"Showoff," Harry murmured and went to the shower. I just hope that damn peep doesn't follow me in here , he thought, mentally retching at the image of taking a shower under scrutiny of those neon-blue eyes.
Under warm shower, his thoughts drifted back to his successful confrontation with Dung. Glamour-revealer charms would have been a real bitch for his plan, but like many times before, luck had shone down upon him.
After he had heard the contents of the Prophecy, Harry was desperately trying to figure out what was this 'Power' he had. He was trying to think of every time he did some strange magical feat and came up with the case of his misbehaving hair. No matter how much he tried to flatten it out, it seemed to always stay the same. When he thought further on that, he realized that he never had a normal haircut in his life. His hair never grew longer, but when his relatives would force him to cut it, it always grew back overnight. He briefly considered that to simply be a feat of famous Potter hair, but then he remembered that his father had a different hair length on various photographs Harry had of him. The only possible explanation left was that it was some form of dormant Metamorphmagus ability. He immediately 'borrowed' an encyclopedia on rare abilities from restricted section and manually copied several chapters dealing with Metamorphmagi. Soon, he was sitting by the lake, staring at his reflection on the surface and trying to will his hair to grow longer. It was a tedious process, both creating notes and training, but at the time, he had nothing better to do anyway. After few days of relentless practice, he finally had his first results - he was able to grow his hair at will. Harry's new ability soon became an integral part of his escape plans and helped him immensely in creating his new image in Knockturn Alley.
Harry finished with bathroom and started getting ready for sleep. "Good night," he murmured to his phoenix and laid in bed. He briefly wondered since when he was referring to that damnable bird as 'his'. Stupid turkey's growing up on me , he mused. Ah well, I'll deal with that later.
After half an hour of organizing his thoughts, he fell asleep, thinking about what a strange, yet productive day he had.
The longest chapter so far and the best, in my opinion.
EDIT: I went through this chapter again and edited a few things: toned down some parts, improved others and tried to fix as many grammar mistakes as I could. Still, the plot remained completely the same, meaning you don't have to re-read this (which you probably already did... bummer for you :-)).
o - About Macmillans
All we know about Ernie from canon is that he is stuck up and prejudiced against Parselmouths. In this story, Macmillans are purebloods, but not fanatical. Still, they have to keep up with pureblood standards, so they wouldn't get shunned from high society, like the Weasleys. They are not necessarily evil with their actions towards Joseph. If Malfoys had a Werewolf child, it would have probably ended up at the bottom of some lake.
o - About Anarchia
I got an idea for Anarchia from a real-world online semi-underground compilation, named "Anarchy Cookbook". In it, you can find advices on how to make a bomb, steal from ATM machines, hack computers, commit a perfect murder, become a terrorist and so on. Lot of it seems like crap, but if you're interested in taking a peek, you can find it on any P2P network (Gnutella).
o - Sources and additional disclaimers
Inspiration for Josef Macmillan's look I got from Wolverine (X-Men, the movie).
Something similar to boost-wands is used in fan-fiction "The Untitled Cheekquel Project" by nonjon. Still, I had this idea before I read that excellent story.
The encyclopedia used for reference is Britannica 2005.
I don't own any intellectual property mentioned above.