Harry and Tonks meet the stranger
Tonks: "Nice save. I thought for a second that I was gonna have to hex you."
OverKill: "Now, you wouldn't do that, would you?"
Tonks: "And why wouldn't I?"
OverKill: "Well, I did sort of create you-"
Tonks: "Actually, Joanne Kathleen Rowling created me. And Harry. And pretty much everything else from the last chapter."
OverKill: "Okay, maybe I didn't create you, but I did get you living quarters with Harry, didn't I? I don't see Rowling doing that!"
Tonks: "Hmm... okay. So the basic plot's yours. I'll go that far."
OverKill: "Thanks ever so much!" (Grimaces) "Now how about reading the disclaimer?"
Tonks: "Err... didn't we just cover that?"
OverKill: (Checks script) "So we did. Well, thank you, Tonks. You may go now." (Starts to walk off)
Tonks: "Hey, umm... Can I ask you a question?"
OverKill: "You just did, but I'll let you ask another."
Tonks: (Glares for a moment) "Yeah, well, I was wondering if Harry and I... if we actually... that is, if..."
OverKill: "If Harry and you get some nookie?"
Tonks: "Err... Yeah?"
OverKill: "I can't tell you that. It's one of the main plot lines of the story!"
OverKill: "No!" (Walks off with a suddenly hyperactive Tonks bouncing around)
OverKill: "I'm not confirming that right now, and that's final!"
The stage door slams shut as the author leaves a disgruntled Tonks staring at the closed exit. As the lights go out, the young metamorphamagus suddenly announces, "That sounded like permission to me. Oh, Harry?!"
To Thine Own Self, Be True
Harry and Tonks whirled around with their wands drawn, Harry casting a disarming charm and Tonks followed up immediately with a series of binding charms, finishing up with an anti-portkey and anti-apparation ward. Their speed was such that their would-be assailant, one Bellatrix Black Lestrange, didn't even get a single spell fired before she was incapacitated. Just in case, Harry snatched Bellatrix's wand out of mid-air and pocketed it.
"I suppose that I can't blame you, although none of this is necessary," Bellatrix calmly explained. "Oh? And why is that, murderer?" Tonks questioned in a menacing tone of voice. Oddly enough, Harry noticed, that comment seemed to actually hurt the reputedly-insane witch.
"Because I'm just here to talk. I don't want to harm either of you, Nymphadora," Bellatrix replied. "Don't you DARE call me 'Nymphadora'! I HATE THAT NAME!" Tonks exclaimed.
Attempting to interrupt the pending cat fight, Harry commented, "Riiiggghhhttt... and we should believe that you aren't the slightest bit sore about being foiled by six teenagers not two weeks ago AND having your friends arrested because...?" Harry asked with sarcasm heavy in his voice.
"No, I'm not upset that you and your friends managed to escape us, or that you retained the prophecy. It's not your success that haunts me," Bellatrix informed the others, "but rather Sirius's death."
"How can you say that?" Tonks exclaimed in fury. "YOU were the one that killed him!"
"I have NEVER wanted to kill my cousin! What happened at the veil was an accident, I swear!" Bellatrix vehemently replied.
"What did you think would happen when you started firing off killing curses and banishing people into the portal in the DEATH chamber?! That he would start singing the national anthem?!" Tonks retorted disbelievingly.
Harry, who had until this point remained silent in the cousins' argument, spoke. "Tonks, I don't think that she intended to kill Sirius. The truth is that she had sent only stunners at Sirius. I know; I was right next to him. Sirius was already unbalanced from his jump and the force of the spell sent him right through the veil. Now, I would like to hear the rest of this no-doubt fascinating story, but I don't think that a sidewalk in plain view is the best place for any more earth-shaking revelations. How about we duck behind a few of these trees and ward the area. Then we can find out why Lestrange here didn't try to kill us on sight. Sound fair?"
"Yes, that would be for the best. We're lucky that we haven't drawn any attention as it is. Did you get her wand?" Tonks questioned Harry. "Right here," Harry replied as he patted his pant's pocket.
"Good," Tonks confirmed, "let's go. You first, Auntie Dearest." Gesturing for Bellatrix to precede them both, Tonks circled around the Death Eater until she was behind the other woman, her wand never leaving their prisoner. "Move!" Tonks ordered. Without hesitation, Bellatrix walked into the woods, not stopping until they were several hundred yards from the sidewalk.
"Now," prompted Harry after securing the area with some temporary Muggle Repellent charms, "how about you tell us why you're here now. I recommend starting with why you have no desire to kill us, and we'll go from there."
"Okay," Bellatrix responded. "The world knows me as the criminally-insane, loyal slave/bitch to the Dark Lord's every whim. Truthfully, this couldn't be farther from the truth."
"Is this where you pull out the 'I was under the Imperius Curse' excuse?" Tonks asked derisively.
"I know that several of those bastards have gotten off without punishment with that line, but it's the truth!" Bellatrix responded heatedly.
Tonks opened her mouth to respond, but Harry cut her off, "Okay. How about you tell us the unabridged version?"
"It's a long story, and not very pleasant," Bellatrix warned.
"Thank you for your heart-warming concern for our well-being, but I'm sure that we'll survive," Harry replied with a smirk. Waving his wand and muttering a few inaudible words, Harry conjured three large chairs, two sitting side-by-side facing a third. Pulling Tonks to the seat alongside him, Harry motioned with his free hand to the remaining chair. "Have a seat."
Smoothing her robes after she sat, Bellatrix began to speak. "This whole mess started shortly after I graduated from Hogwarts. Being the sort that my parents were, I had already been promised to Rodolphus as soon as I turned seventeen. I couldn't stand the stupid little ass, however, and had no intentions whatsoever of marrying the little pile of dung. As you could imagine, this didn't make either Rodolphus or my parents very happy. The fact that my sister, Narcissa, was already protesting her arranged marriage to Lucius didn't help matters any. What I never expected, though, was that my own family would betray me. One evening, under the pretense of discussing an alternate suitor, my parents slipped me an Imperius Draught. As soon as it took hold, they brought Rodolphus and a corrupt Ministry official into the room. Within ten minutes, they had me married and whisked out of the house, on the way to my darling husband's new master. Voldemort was just getting started and was recruited every able body that he could. He took an immediate liking to me, though, and offered Rodolphus a high position of authority within his ranks if my husband would agree to 'share' me whenever asked.
After hastily agreeing, Voldemort cast some sort of parseltongue spell on me, which strengthened the potion's effects and longevity, with himself as my primary master. He also made it so that I had to obey any order given by any member of his inner circle. I was frequently used, not only for the more dangerous missions, but for... celebrations. I won't go into the perverted goings-on in Voldemort's court, but suffice it to say that I was a frequent replacement for any other girls that proved... inadequate."
"Okay, I'm following you so far," Harry commented, "but surely you were familiar with the Imperius Curse enough to counter it eventually. As you said, you've been subjected to it for over a decade."
"I've got the same question, unless the potion is more difficult to overcome," Tonks added.
"You're correct, Potter. My father taught me at a young age to throw off the Imperius Curse - and any potion would wear off eventually - but Voldemort bolstered it with some parsel spell. Even if I knew what the curse was, I had no way to counter it. Only someone with the parselmouth gift could defeat the lock placed on me."
"Alright. If you were unable to break Voldemort's control over you, and only a parselmouth could free you, then how are you free?" Tonks questioned. "I have a hard time believing that Voldemort would just turn you loose, and the only other parselmouth that I know of is..."
"...me," Harry finished for her. "I cancelled the spell when my curse failed, didn't I?" Nodding, Bellatrix confirm his guess. "Yes. You destroyed the parsel spell sealing the potion. I wasn't able to fight free of its influence until just a couple of days ago, though."
"But how did Harry cancel Voldemort's spell without consciously trying?" Tonks queried. "What spell would target your mind and be powerful enough to counter such a dark curse?" The answer dawned on her. Turning to Harry with a disbelieving expressed on her face, she started, "Harry-"
"Look, Tonks," Harry interrupted, "I'm not proud of what I did. I had been manipulated into breaking into the Ministry of Magic itself, navigating into the Unspeakables labs, finding out that my godfather was NOT, in fact, a prisoner, then trying to get my friends out of the trap before we all were killed. After being cornered in the DEATH CHAMBER, of all places, my aforementioned godfather rushes into a duel with Lestrange here-" jerking a thumb in Bellatrix's direction "-and gets blasted into the afterlife. I was tired, injured, and more than a little cranky. I'm not making excuses; I'm just trying to explain the circumstances. It's not like I managed to pull it off, anyway. Apparently, I don't enjoy seeing people in pain for no good reason, so I can't use the Cruciatus anyway. That's why it failed on her."
"Okay..." Tonks got out finally, "we're going to talk about this later." Turning back to Bellatrix, she said, "you've covered why you defected and how you did it, but why did you come to Harry? How did you find him, anyway? He has several wards over this area to hide his presence from Voldemort. And wouldn't Dumbledore be the most obvious choice to go to for..."
Bellatrix interrupted her with a laugh. "I don't trust the old man. He manipulates his own allies with a skill not even Voldemort could match. Not to mention that he refuses to fight this war with anything resembling an offensive approach. During both rises, Voldemort repeatedly slipped his plans past Dumbledore without the slightest restriction. Even after a decade and a half of peace, he is still incapable to meeting Voldemort head-on. The same goes for the Ministry." Turning to face Harry, she continued, "Only one wizard has ever stood against Voldemort with any degree of success, and I'm looking at him right now." Talking to Harry directly, she added, "I want that bastard to pay, and I will do everything in my power to help you destroy him."
Raising an eyebrow while Tonks's jaw dropped open, Harry questioned, "You mean that you want to train me to kill that monstrosity? Why? What about me inspired you to make such an offer?"
"As I said, I want him to pay. I'm not sure why, but I believe that you might succeed. A lot of people are beginning to think that you are the ONLY one who CAN succeed," Bellatrix answered openly. Exchanging a startled glance with Tonks over Bellatrix's perceptiveness, Harry continued. "Well, that answered part of Tonks's question, but you still haven't told us how you found me. There are several blood charms over this entire area preventing Voldemort or his followers from locating me here. How did you find me?"
"You are correct; the blood wards kept both myself and Voldemort from finding you. As you might be able to guess, he wasn't very happy with the news. I had no idea where you were until a pair of dementors sought me out at Voldemort's fortress after the Ministry fiasco. They were the same two that the Undersecretary had ordered out to attack you and, thinking that I still answered to Voldemort, they informed me of your address. Since a dementor can't be obliviated, I ordered them off to the farthest post from Voldemort that I could find. While I'm sure that Voldemort will ultimately discover you here, I bought some time for you to move your family to safety."
Although both were stunned that Dumbledore's 'almighty' protection was so easily circumvented, Tonks was the first to recover. "Well, Lestrange, while you certainly can tell an interesting story, you still haven't given us any physical evidence to believe you, other than the fact that you haven't attacked us yet."
"Under the circumstances, I understand you not believing me immediately," Bellatrix responded. "As I told Potter earlier, I can tell you exactly what Voldemort is doing. Now that the Ministry has admitted his return, he has moved up his plans to take over Britain. After seeing his Death Eaters defeated so easily, he has resorted to recruiting help from another source altogether."
"Is he going after rogue hit-wizards, then?" Harry asked. "Trust me: you would rather that he controlled every Auror, Hit-wizard, and Unspeakable in existence than what he has done now," Bellatrix answered grimly. "Somehow, he has made contact with a demon lord and plans to open a portal on the upcoming equinox to the underworld, allowing entire hordes of demonic soldiers to invade Earth and conquer the world! From what I could gather of their agreement, Nahaz, the demon lord, has agreed to allow Voldemort to administer the planet, once his troops have subdued it."
"WHAT?!" Harry shouted. Tonks, not to be outdone, quickly followed with, "IS HE INSANE?! NO DEMON WOULD HONOR THAT BARGAIN, NOT WHEN IT COULD HAVE UNLIMITED FREEDOM!!!"
"I know that!" Bellatrix snapped, "However, Voldemort apparently believes that he will be unable to harm him. But that's not all."
"Oh?" Harry prompted. "What else could Tommy-boy possibly have in the works that would be in the same league as a demon invasion?"
"Apparently, while we were dueling in the main area of the Department of Mysteries, Voldemort was examining their collection of dangerous artifacts. He found a device - an orb - that the Ministry believed to be some sort of dark magic focus. Voldemort believed it to belong to Salazar Slytherin himself, and that it was a weapon of some sort. What time he had left from his conferences with Nahaz was spent attempting to access the orb. He planned to use it to eliminate both you and Dumbledore. He feels that only the two of you have any chance of stopping him, and he wants you out of the way. He lost his temper after another failed attempt to use it right before I escaped, so I brought it with me. Even if you can't use it yourself, Potter, at least Voldemort won't have it. Would that be enough 'proof' for you, Nymphadora dear?" Bellatrix asked, knowing the use of Tonks's first name would aggravate the younger witch.
"Yes, it would, Auntie Dearest," Tonks replied with overbearing sarcasm, "provided that it is the stolen artifact, not some paperweight you stole somewhere."
"See for yourself," Bellatrix returned, reaching into an inside pocket of her robes, "I have it right here." She pulled out a silvery orb that began to glow an intimidating green once it was exposed.
"That's new," Bellatrix commented, "it never reacted to anything before..."
"Amazing!" Harry exclaimed.
"What is?" Tonks questioned.
"The orb." Came the preoccupied answer. Tonks's and Bellatrix's eyes met, then traveled over to the young man, just in time to see him start to radiate the same green aura that emanated from the orb in Bellatrix's hand.
"Harry...?" Tonks prompted, more than a little worried by his reaction to the orb. Rising to his feet, Harry seemed to not notice either Tonks's or Bellatrix's concern, though Bellatrix did a much better job of hiding her true feelings.
"It's calling to me..." Harry announced, his gaze never leaving the silver artifact which now rose to Harry's eye level. "It is time for it to fulfill its purpose," he intoned while reaching for the device.
"Harry! Get away from it! It could kill you!" Tonks exclaimed, reduced to near tears from the perceived danger in which Harry was snared.
"Why would I make something to kill myself?" Harry asked, and placed both hands upon the orb, one palm on either side. The green auras surrounding Harry and the artifact merged and darkened, hiding Harry from view. Before either witch could attempt to 'rescue' him, the green shell expanded exponentially, engulfing both a panicked Tonks and a bewildered Bellatrix.
As soon as Harry was encased in the green shell, it began to grow warm in his hands. Immediately, he found himself in a moderately decorated room. The room consisted of stone walls, floors, and ceilings while the furnishings were colored in black and green. Placed directly in front of him was a mirror. The oddity of this situation, besides the fact that he had been transported to some unknown location, was that the figure portrayed in the mirror was not he.
True, the man had the same emerald green eyes, whose warmth belied the man's cunning nature. The midnight-colored hair was also quickly recognized, although the man's locks reached his shoulders. No, the main differences between Harry himself and the reflection was that the figure appeared to be in his late 20's and did not bear a lightening bolt scar upon his forehead. Before Harry's thoughts could continue further down this path, the reflected image began to speak.
"Hello. If you - or, perhaps, I should say 'I' - am hearing this message, then our society is in grave peril. Before I explain how I know this or why you are now here, I shall need to elaborate further on inter-related manners.
As you may, or may not, have realized, I am Salazar Slytherin. The Chroniculus or 'memory orb' - as many of my colleagues so inelegantly named it - is an automated pensieve. The device which brought you here is of my design and, in short, I have enclosed the end results of my various experiences and adventures upon this world within this device. While this may seem imprudent, considering the many ways such information could be misused, I assure you that this 'orb' is extremely well protected. In fact, this device can only be accessed by one individual, one soul - me."
Pausing for a few seconds to allow this information to 'sink in', the simulacrum continued. "Yes, you understood me correctly. While I cannot know what name by which you are currently known, I can assure you that you were once referred to as 'Salazar Ezekiel Slytherin, Lord of the High Plains and Master of Hogwarts'. While you are most likely protesting such a thing, I swear to you that it is the truth. That you were accepted by the Chroniculus is proof of your heritage. Only my - or 'our' - soul can be admitted into this place.
To answer your next question as to why you are here, the most concise response is 'because it is now necessary'. "In my youth, there was a terrible Dark Lord who came close to completely subjugating the entire world - muggles, Wizards, elves, vampires, werewolves, giants - everyone. To combat this crisis, the various races formed a council dedicated to bringing about Lord Kain's defeat. After years of fighting and heavy losses on both sides, I, along with a select group of trained warriors, managed to infiltrate Kain's fortress and slay the monster that nearly tore our world apart. Since most of the senior members of the council had been killed shortly before the assault, the remaining council members elected me to lead them, since it was my plan which brought about Kain's defeat. I accepted, and drafted the plans for a new legislative body. This 'ministry' would be founded upon the principles of democracy, relying upon the people to choose their leaders and allowing their opinions to be heard. I had hoped that this would prevent a reoccurrence of what allowed Kain to take power in the first place. He had merely swayed some of the more powerful lords of the land to his side and, once they were in his thrall, quickly conquered all those around him. The general populace, too removed from the seats of power, had no idea that such a threat existed, or even that it was possible.
However, acting on information delivered to me by a famed seer of my time-" the figure briefly looked disgusted "-I decided to place a safeguard over this new ministry. Should such a threat occur once more, and the ministry should prove ineffective against it, my Chroniculus would reawaken me so that the council could be re-established and the threat neutralized. The astronomers of my time had established that I was touched heavily by the hand of fate. At my birth, my parents were informed that I was destined to be a guardian of magic itself, and that I would be called whenever the realm itself was in danger. Knowing this, I crafted this Chroniculus and stored the sum of my knowledge, among other gifts, within the device so that my future self - you - would be better equipped to stop the rise of darkness. Once the conditions were met, the Chroniculus would seek me out and complete its mission.
I wish you the best of fortunes on your quest. Failure, as you well know, is not an option."
After this speech - from himself?! -, the room faded away to be replaced once again by the green shell. Before the bewildered Harry could begin to make sense of all that he had just heard, the orb - Chroniculus//? - began pulsing and he dropped to his knees as images bombarded his consciousness: an old man, handing him a silvery staff; himself, holding a beautiful blonde-haired woman in his arms; a group of black-cloaked soldiers slipping into a castle; a tall man with black hair and red eyes, rushing towards him with a mace raised; himself and three friends constructing a castle; himself, addressing a large group of beings from many different cultures and species; crafting a spherical object that glowed occasionally. An entire lifetime, filled with both joy and sorrow, was instantly inserted into his mind, integrating with all that was Harry Potter, yielding a result stronger than either half. While he absorbed all of this new information, Harry could hardly breathe, as he felt as if his entire body was under extreme pressure.
Eventually, the sensations slowed in their approach, and finally stopped. As Harry brought himself back to his feet, the green dome surrounding him collapsed, fading into nothing and leaving no trace that it was ever there. Lying on the ground before him were the shattered pieces of the chroniculus, which was apparently destroyed after its use. Staggering to his feet and turning around, Harry beheld a strange and puzzling sight. Both Nymphadora and Bellatrix were on their knees, feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. The oddity was that he did not need to see them to know how worn out they felt - he could sense it, just as he could feel his own weariness. At the sound of his approach, both women raised their heads and looked in his direction.
As soon as the ladies were caught up in the green dome, Tonks turned to Bellatrix and brandished her wand in a threatening manner while growling, "What the HELL are you trying to pull?! What is that thing?! What did you DO TO HIM?" With her outstretched arm shaking fiercely and her voice wavering, Tonks choked out, "You will not get away with this! I WON'T LET YOU HURT HIM!!! If he's been injured, I will kill you!"
Responding to Tonks's rather hysterical look, Bellatrix quickly reassured her, "I've never seen it do anything before! Voldemort's been trying constantly to open it for days, and it's just sat there. I didn't know it would react like that with him! I COULDN'T! I don't want him hurt either, Nym... Tonks. Potter's my only remaining chance of coming out of this war alive, much less get my revenge! I want him to succeed in taking down that homicidal maniac, and I will do everything possible to make sure that he does survive!"
As if it were waiting for the two women to formally declare their intentions, the solid green core of the dome faded into translucency, allowing both Tonks and Bellatrix to see Harry on his knees. As they both started to move towards Harry, tendrils of pure energy sparked from the area embracing him and shot towards the two women, halting their advance and dropping them to their knees. Simultaneously, the two witches let out strangled breaths as some unseen force prevented them from rising. As their breathing became increasingly labored, their perceptions abruptly expanded. As the tendrils began to withdraw, they became increasingly aware of each other's presence. They could feel each other's confusion as to what was happening - which was as strong as their own - as well as a strong desire to protect the young man still kneeling before them. Upon thinking of him, they each became aware of the strain he was under, before the link overcame their consciousness and they were overwhelmed with scenes from another's mind: an old man, handling a silvery staff; an attractive blonde-haired woman being held by someone; a group of black-cloaked soldiers slipping into a castle; a tall man with black hair and red eyes, rushing towards him with a mace raised; himself and three friends constructing a castle; himself, addressing a large group of beings from many different cultures and species; crafting a spherical object that glowed occasionally.
The rush of images finally stopped, returning the women to their senses, where they discovered - much to their surprise - that they were still perceiving each other's condition, which was near exhaustion, on an intense, almost instinctual, level. Even more shocking was the fact that they knew, completely and unequivocally, that the man they both chose to serve was now free from whatever energy field had just surrounded them and was approaching them. Still panting, they raised their heads and were amazed by what they saw.
'Sweet Merlin!' Tonks thought to herself. 'And I thought he was hot before!'
'I have to agree. Potter's definitely got it going on!' Bellatrix pondered.
At each hearing the other's thoughts, they snapped their heads towards each other.
With wide eyes, Bellatrix thought, /'you didn't say that out loud, did you?'/, fearing the answer.
Shaking her head, Tonks mentally replied, 'Nuh uh. Did you?'
'No! This means...' /Finishing Bellatrix's sentence with her, they both exclaimed, 'OH, SHIT!'/
"Well, this was unexpected," Harry commented with a great degree of understatement. "Oh, and just for the record, I think that the both of you are rather attractive as well."
"You mean you heard us?" Tonks squeaked while both of the women's eyes opened as wide as saucers. "Yes," Harry mused, "the Chroniculus appears to have formed some sort of bond between the three of us."
Now, both of the women are extremely skilled duelists, having mastered multiple techniques for attack and defense. Therefore, from their experience, they know that in any unknown situation one must remain in control of oneself above all else. However, both Bellatrix and Tonks were also pushed almost beyond their endurance. With the rapid addition of all this profound information, both of the witches in question reacted in a perfectly reasonable manner.
"Well!" Harry said out loud, "I didn't see that one coming..." Muttering to himself, he squatted down and lifted both of the women, one onto each shoulder. Rising to his feet, he glanced around to insure that he wasn't leaving anything. Almost unconsciously summoning the shattered chroniculus, as well as its contents, Harry sent the remains into one of his pockets before disapparating from the woods and reappearing in his bedroom. With a wave of his hand, the bedroom door shut and locked, and the boundaries of the room lit up briefly as several security wards were activated.
Feeling his own imminent collapse, Harry stumbled to the nearest bed and placed the two women on it. With the sudden onset of dizziness - 'most likely caused from the memory absorption,' Harry thought - he laid down between the slumbering witches, not noticing the fact that he had just apparated with two passengers, a skill that no one had yet taught him. He was likewise unaware of the little matter that his wand had not left his pocket since he placed it there before touching the orb and that he had done several medium-level spells without it.
Vowing to get back up as soon as the dizziness passed, Harry closed his eyes to rest. He quickly dozed off to sleep, surrounded by the warmth generated by the women who pledged their loyalty, their futures... their very /lives/... to him.