A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, shows the team in acti...
It took two weeks for the group to get used to each other and used to working together. Dorff, Wells, Loomis, and Jones were each out on missions at least two nights a week, and were often doing surveillance the other nights. Alice and Lily took care of the general house cleaning (which they could do without strain due to magic) while Tabitha and Tom took kitchen duty.
Because James Potter knew of the safe house's location, Dorff's team was paired with Longbottom's sub-team of Potter, Lupin, Black, and Pettigrew. Other than one short visit each, none of Dorff's team ever visited Longbottom's safe house or the Marauders' house, and besides Dumbledore, the only members of the Order of the Phoenix who knew where Dorff's team was located were Longbottom and Potter.
In terms of the fight against Voldemort, things slowly swung around to the forces of light that summer and early autumn of 1980. This was in part because of the American reenforcements, and in part because of Barty Crouch's new 'kill first, ask questions later' approach to dealing with anyone caught in the commission of a suspected dark activity.
In the middle of all that, of course, came two births. Alice went into labor early in the morning of July 30th, giving birth just after midnight. By then, Lily was also in labor, and gave birth late that afternoon. Dumbledore was there, and assured the parents that he would take care of registering the births (in different towns, of course, in case anyone tried to check on their locations -- they had lost one family that way already).
Friday, October 31, 1980
"Tom, will you stop reading that and listen."
Tom looked up from the old scroll. "What's up?"
"Have you heard anything I've said?" Henry demanded.
"I heard you send all the others out to various locations to keep an eye out for Death Eater activity." They knew there was at least one low-level spy somewhere in Voldemort's forces, but not who it was. All Dumbledore would say was that he had more than one source and was hoping for at least one more soon. Obviously, the information had just come through about the meeting and they were scrambling to cover one set of possibilities on short notice.
"Right. The problem is, there are two more places and only one of me. Even Lloyd is covering a location."
"I'll go!" Alice Longbottom said.
"Don't be silly," Henry snapped.
"Having had a baby months ago does NOT disqualify a person from finally going on an active mission."
"I think it does, at least for two years. You agreed to one. If you don't like that, ask Dumbledore to be reassigned."
"I take it you want me to go," Tom said, jumping in.
"Any objections? We know they're going to have a meeting tonight, and we need to know if it's at any of the known locations. We would need you to watch for about four hours, and identify anyone who shows up without a mask. I saved the least likely for you."
"Least likely, huh? You don't know much about cliches, do you?"
That confused Henry, so he decided not to pursue it. "Just apparate or portkey out if you get in trouble. Here's the info." He handed Tom a slip of paper. "We're out of invisibility cloaks, but there's plenty of cover. Disillusionment should be more than enough."
"We'll see." Tom checked his watch. He had just four hours to get ready to go.
Tom apparated, already disillusioned, well over an hour before dusk. He would have to be there some five to eight hours, since he had left a little early, and he hoped the spells he had used would work -- having to take a 'bathroom break' during this type of surveillance could be fatal. He arrived in an apple and pear orchard on a country lane that skirted a low ridge. He was across the lane from a rundown cottage, and behind the small gamekeepers cottage was the wooded ridge.
Tom had collected a number of oak leaves that afternoon, and magically inscribed runes, glyphs, and symbols onto them before leaving. He set five down twenty yards apart, setting four of them near trees. He set a small, flat, inscribed stone atop each leaf. Then he repeated the process closer to the center of the circle. With his wand, Tom traced a circle and pentagram while chanting six sets of incantations, using the outer leaves as star points. If he had done the spells correctly, and if they reenforced each other as predicted, he should be safe within the inner area from any spell shot at him, and from detection. He would still be vulnerable to a physical attack, but he had created a portkey to an open area (no one could apparate in or out of his enchanted area). So long as no one physically came across the area, he should also be hidden. Since one of the charms was a distraction charm, he should be safe from that.
Tom sat down and leaned against the apple tree he had used to center his creation. The life force of it and the other four trees were built into the spelled area. The weak spot was the forward point of the star, but even that laid over a tree root.
Now the hard part began -- the waiting.
The first person showed up a little after 9:00. He came out of the woods, in full Death Eater regalia. There was a brief few moments of light inside the cottage, before things dimmed, and Tom guessed the windows had been spelled to contain the light. He was wearing Muggle night vision goggles, magically enhanced, and was sure he could identify anyone who showed up without a mask.
Others started to gather a little before 11:15. These were all fully dressed in Death Eater regalia, down to the masks. The most Tom could do was keep count. He pulled out his wand and the portkey. He would be ready to go as soon as he felt the meeting had started. Whether or not that would give either the Order or the Ministry enough time to organize a counter-strike was something he didn't care about at the moment.
A total of twenty-one people at arrived by 11:50, meaning it was a large gathering by Death Eater standards. It was at that moment that six people apparated near the woods. Four in masks, and two without.
One of the ones without a mask was clearly a prisoner. Tom didn't recognize him, but he was unconscious and his wrists were tied behind him.
The other was clearly Voldemort. Tom shuddered when he was what Voldemort had turned himself into. He was an alien, inhuman creature.
The group was moving towards the cottage. Tom knew that as soon as they crossed the threshold, he had to go for help. Just before they reached the door, however, Voldemort stopped and looked straight at him. The others stopped and looked as well.
The hex would have missed Tom by three feet. Voldemort had somehow detected the enchanted area.
The wards flared but easily held. "Avada Kedavra!"
Although said empathically, it was the softest killing spell Tom had ever heard. Most people had to scream the spell, even to kill a fly.
The wards again held, but the runes on top of the stones were started to glow red hot. Another major curse and they would explode. Tom activated his portkey. His leaving pushed the stones over the limits of their structural endurance, and they both shattered and smouldered the leaves.
It took Tom a few seconds to recover his poise, and then he collected himself and apparated back to the safe house. He hadn't wanted to splinch himself, after all.
Voldemort was slightly startled to see a number of small explosions across the road. He turned to his Death Eaters. "Execute the auror and then have everyone disband for the evening." His eyes sought out two followers. "Rastaban, Severus, come with me."
He marched across the lane, the two puzzled Death Eaters following. "What did you see, Severus?"
"I saw nothing until you turned suddenly, Master. You sent a simple stunner, which flared against some sort of magical boundary, then the Death Curse, which did the same." There was a pause. "That should not have happened."
"Then I heard a slight rush of air, which meant someone portkeyed out. After that, there were a number of instantaneous small explosions."
"I'm not certain, Master. I think somewhere between . . . seven and twelve."
"There were ten." He knelt down and picked up a burnt leaf, and then a fragment of the stone. He raised his wand and cast light around the orchard. "I see. I know what was done, although not how to do it. Very clever. Someone managed to build a pentagram which supported numerous wards. It was anchored on these trees. The trees absorbed the Death Curse. They will certainly sicken, and may die." He stood. "There is not a wizard in Europe who could have done this. Not even Dumbledore and Flitwick together could have done this. This means those . . . druids and their ilk have reentered the fight." He paused. "That explains much of what has happened since mid-June. Our enemies have a new group of reenforcements. I thought as much, but it is good to have proof."
He turned to Snape. "You work in Diagon Alley, and do part-time work in Hogsmeade. Snoop around and find out anything you can about these people."
"Yes, Master." Snape bowed.
"Lestrange, disillusion and climb that tree. If you make a sound, they will capture you. Do not attack anyone. Even if Dumbledore shows up and turns his back on you, do not attack. Understand?"
"No, Master, but I will obey."
"Let's make certain that auror is dead. Then we may leave."
Alice and Lily were sitting in front of the fire when a set of beads flashed as chimes proclaimed someone had apparated in. They stood and took out their wands. The door opened and revealed Tom Lawrence. They kept their wands at the ready, while he kept his away.
"They're at the cottage," Tom said breathlessly. "Voldemort is there, along with a prisoner."
"You're sure?" Alice demanded.
"Do you think I could mistake someone else for Voldemort?"
"No," Alice admitted, "no, from what I've heard I have to admit no one could. I'll alert the teams. You should go back about ten minutes after I send out the notice."
"Right. Somehow, I was spotted. Voldemort sent two curses in my direction, although they both just missed."
"So they are either going to be cleared out or laying a trap? Great. How many Death Eaters were there?"
"About twenty-five or twenty-six . . . twenty-five plus Voldemort, and the one bound man." Alice nodded and hurried out.
Lily came in and handed Tom a small glass of lemonade. "Thank you, Lily."
"You're welcome. Be careful."
"I will. I just hope I don't apparate right in the middle of the Death Eaters."
"Go in in a crouch, on the off chance they haven't already cleared out." She smiled. "Of course, if you'd care to babysit Harry and Neville, Alice and I could go instead."
"Somehow, I think the only two people who would think that is a good idea are you two."
Lily smiled. "Probably."
Alice came in. "Eight minutes."
Tom sighed. He stood and stretched. "I wish I could stick to potions and rituals."
It was clear when the Order and Volunteers arrived that the dirty work had been finished. The Dark Mark hung over the cottage, and the body was laying just outside the cottage door.
Rastaban was disappointed. The opposition only said what had to be said. Still, he had an excellent visual memory, and a good artistic hand. He would be able to make drawings of some of the Order and Volunteer members.
Friday, November 28, 1980
The masked Death Eater opened the door, and two men dragged a shivering unmasked Death Eater from the room. "No one seems to have much luck tonight," the doorkeeper sneered.
Severus recognized the voice. 'Malfoy. Trust him to get a job that runs few risks," he thought as he made his way into the room. He knelt before the Dark Lord.
"Well, my potions maker, have you discovered anything?"
"Only negative information, my Lord. There have been no new North Americans visiting either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade."
Crabbe and Goyle dragged Snape out a minute later. 'What has happened?' Snape thought. 'If they aren't there, they aren't there. Why would he do that to me for no reason?' He was dropped unceremoniously outside the back door of the house they were occupying for the moment. 'He would do it because he's a sadistic monster,' came the answer as Snape talked to himself. 'You've known it for months. You've really known it since you took the Mark. You probably should have known even before that. But you wouldn't admit it to yourself.'
Snape dragged himself home, uncertain about what, if anything, he could do.
Snape had been followed in by two young men who had just joined. They had only left Hogwarts five months before, and had made overtures within weeks. They were to be prized for the moment, as they had family members among the opposition.
"You first," Voldemort ordered.
"I have heard nothing from my brother," the young man said. Had nearly anyone else brought bad news that night, they would have paid instantly Voldemort was glad he stayed his hand when Regulus Black added, "but Barty followed up on a lead I gave him."
Voldemort turned to Barty Crouch Junior. "Well?"
"I temporarily located Peter Pettigrew, my Lord."
"Temporarily? One of you had best explain, and quickly!"
"Pettigrew is addicted to sweets from a Muggle sweet shop in his hometown," Regulus said.
"We've been keeping an eye out there whenever we could," Barty continued. "He went in just this afternoon, at Two-fifty. When he came out, he turned into an alley and disapparated. He went all the way down the alley."
"So, how many sweets did he buy?"
"At least three pounds," Barty said.
Voldemort turned to Regulus but said nothing. The teen took the hint. "If Pettigrew has the same habits as he did in school, he would eat about a pound a week. Of course, it might go faster if he doesn't hide it well. My brother always liked to steal a little at a time until Pettigrew protested."
"He has only appeared once?"
"Yes, Master, but we have only been able to keep a part time look out for this past week."
"I see. Lucius!"
"These two boys will tell you the location of a Muggle sweet shop. We will need to keep an alley near it under surveillance during working hours. Who do we have available who can operate undercover in the Muggle world?"
"Foster and Snape, my Lord."
"Johnson, Smith, and Carson still haven't returned?"
"No, my Lord."
"Inform Snape we will need more of the potions. Only have him report on his other projects when he has something to report. We shall use Foster and these two until the others return."
"Yes, my Lord."
"He knows Pettigrew, does he not?"
"By sight, my Lord."
"Good. If the idiot has any sort of pattern to his sweets habit, we shall have him." He glared at the two boys. "If this was just a one-time impulse purchase, you had best hope we do not end up putting to many resources into it before we find it out!"
Barty Crouch bowed in worship. Regulus Black bowed in terror. Voldemort enjoyed seeing both.
Snape managed to get back to his cold-water flat without splinching himself. Hands shaking, he managed to pour some of the potion he had invented into a glass and gulp it down. It soothed inflamed nerves, and that was certainly the condition of anyone's nerves held under a Cructius curse -- at least until the nerves frayed and were then destroyed.
When had things started to go wrong? At first, the Dark Lord had seemed everything a Slytherin Pure-Blood like himself could ask for. The violence had seemed regrettable, but necessary. Some older students, especially Lucius Malfoy, had long defended the Dark Lord in the Common Room. When had he decided that killing and torture were reasonable tools of political force?
Had it been as that Easter of his Third year when he had been lost? When Malfoy had invited himself and four other boys to Malfoy Manor? Malfoy's older brother had lectured them, inspired them.
'Well,' Snape thought, 'Marcus certainly was a believer.' He remembered being shocked at the news that a number of young followers had been massacred in America that next summer.
'Perhaps that should have been a clue that this was not going to be as easy as many claimed it would be,' he thought. 'That it was not just the 'Muggle lovers' grinding down those who deserved power.' Many of the Old Believers made families like his own and the Malfoys seem open and welcoming to others, yet they rejected Voldemort. If it was, as the Pure Bloods claimed, because they were muddled with religion, that seemed to give them a great deal of power through unity as well.
Snape sat down and doodled some numbers. How large was Voldemort's force? Perhaps sixty full Death Eaters and several hundred more followers remained after months of minor losses, more than half of whom were in Britain and Ireland. Say, at the outside, 300 people in Britain and Ireland for the Dark Lord, with some 60,000 people opposed at the moment. They could spread terror, but could they hope to win? And if they did, what would the other magical communities do? There were over half a million or more in the Confederation alone, and at least a few had knowledge that even Voldemort admitted was unknown in Europe.
So here he was, tied to a leader he feared but no longer respected, in a cause he was uncertain of, in a war he no longer believed possible to win.
He would have to consider his options. There didn't seem to be many. He had killed, after all. He had killed an innocent Muggle boy as part of his initiation, he had killed in two firefights with the opposition.
Snape decided not to worry about that now. He poured himself a small glass of cheap gin. Mixing that with the potion would intoxicate him enough to make it impossible to think about anything for at least eight or ten hours.