|Harry Potter and the Heartlands of Time
Author: joe6991 PM
Sequel to Wastelands! Time has all but run out for Harry Potter. There are no more second chances. No more desperate bids for salvaged redemption. The game has changed, and in the end Harry will learn that the cost of his defiance has never run so high.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Harry P. & Fleur D. - Chapters: 14 - Words: 59,926 - Reviews: 944 - Favs: 1,213 - Follows: 1,273 - Updated: 10-08-12 - Published: 09-15-10 - id: 6325846
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Hollow lies.
A/N: Where have your updates been, you ask? Languishing at the bottom of my to-do list, I'm afraid. Having made the leap into original published fiction, the majority of my writing time is consumed by that these days. It has to be, but I shan't abandon this story—it will be finished.
Here's an update to prove just that. Please read and review!
Harry Potter and the Heartlands of Time
Chapter Twelve – The Darkened Underpass
…milliseconds influence centuries.
I have to hand it to this fuckin' universe.
To the gods and would-be-gods that I've always suspected are pulling the strings just behind the scenes. T'is a dark and thin curtain, to be sure, between reality and the void, but they string it well.
A round of applause from one tired old man.
"Something at the door," I muttered, and chuckled between gritted teeth, stained with blood. "Something to see me at the door."
This couldn't be real.
It felt real, and it certainly breathed like it was real. But no.
If I had reset back to the start—if all the work over the last few months had been undone—then I should not have survived the trip back. Not again. I was too torn and soul-weary for such a journey.
The twenty odd thousand corpses that had littered the grounds of Hogwarts were testament enough to that.
So not a reset. It couldn't be.
Which left not much in the way of explanations, save one.
I was being fucked with.
Someone—something—thought it could take the piss. Normally I'd rise to such a challenge, but I was tired these days. Old and tired. So with little to-do, I went downstairs, bloody and shirtless, to confront whatever so desperately wanted my attention.
Petunia stood in a daze at the bottom of the stairs, amidst the heady aroma of cherry blossoms and something akin to wet ash. Her eyes were glazed, staring at nothing and through nothing. I spared my aunt not a moment longer, and spied a lady in red waiting for me at the front door.
"Saturnia...?" I ventured. The woman, all blonde hair and blue eyes, giggled softly. She played with a cerulean gem on a chain around her thin neck. "No, too easy. Well, you make that dress look good, if nothing else."
"Thank you, Harry." Her voice was soft, red velvet—as smooth as silk with a dash of all-too-sexy.
I rubbed at some of the blood dribbling down my chest and shrugged. "Human?"
"No." She titled her head. "Well, almost. Before you."
I nodded. "Always my fault, when it comes to women." The door frame felt real, as did the slight breeze blowing in from outside. I stepped out onto the garden path, a few inches from the lady in red. "So I'll give you some credit, and a measure of respect, I suppose. This illusion is as real as any magical construct I've come across—and a lot more than most. But this isn't time travel."
"I know time, my dear. I know its taste, its scent and the way it moves not from one moment to the next but to all moments—and the heartbeats in between. I'm still up on the Atlantean ship. This is all happening... in my head. Or your head. What is it you want?"
"Just a glimpse of the legend, Harry. Just a moment of your delicious, aromatic time."
"The world has ended for less..."
"Take a girl out for a drink?"
"Vanilla, cherry, and honey-almond. Little expensive at twenty-five a pop, but I feel like one suave son of a bitch smoking these bad boys."
"So they knew just what to send, didn't they? A pretty girl, dressed in red, and some fine scotch."
After a quick stop in what looked like a Marks & Sparks for a set of clean clothes, the lady in red and I slipped into a quiet booth in what looked like a London pub. I sipped at something that tasted a lot like scotch. What looks like scotch...
"Who are 'they'?"
I waved the question away. "Whoever—whatever—sent you. Your boss, love. The evil overlord, the man with the plan, the moron who thinks I'm such good company."
"I'm Lily," the lady in red said. "You never asked, but that's my name."
I flicked back the rest of my scotch and motioned to the waitress across the dark and smoky pub for another. My mother would be proud. "That's a lovely name."
"Yes, I've always liked it." Lily reached across the table and squeezed my hand. "I'm named for my great grandmother."
A tasty glass of fruitful menace arrived and I chuckled into its depths. "Oh come now. Really? This is a new one."
Lily laughed and roses bloomed, trees swayed in distant meadows, and all seemed well with the world. "I'm your granddaughter, Harry. It is so very nice to meet you as you are now. Young and full of steam."
"If that's true then I regret about ninety-eight percent of the thoughts I've had about you since we met." I shook my head. "Ninety-nine. Merlin..."
"You don't believe me?"
"Well, no." I laughed. "Call me distrustful of such honesty, but revelations such as yours are usually wrapped in so much mystery and intrigue that it's left devoid of all meaning when the truth wills out."
"He said you'd be like this."
"Who said what now?"
"My father—your son."
I thought of Fleur, of the life inside her and the months to go. A shard of the Infernal Clock had pierced her, more than a shard, which meant just about anything was possible when it came to that kid.
"Say I believe you, and I half find myself edging toward such belief, which is absurd, but let's just say I do. How—why—are you here?"
"What's in it for me, you mean?"
"Sure." I ordered a third sip of would-be-scotch in this would-be-pub. "Wow me, honey."
Lily shrugged and ran a hand back through her hair in a way that was somewhat familiar. I resisted the urge to do the same. "You're a lot kinder in your old age. More grandfatherly, and you always had a lemon drop for me."
"I've far surpassed my old age, you know. I'm clear of a thousand years and ran out of patience a long, long time ago. Tell me, granddaughter, what is all of this?" I gestured to the world around us. "A construct of magic, surely."
"Yes, magic. But not as you understand it, not yet. This is a moment of time, suspended in a bubble of... of liquid history. Of... the past. I don't quite understand it, but you invented it, Harry."
"No I didn't."
"Will invent it, then. You're so young."
"I'm really not." Pieces of the puzzle were coming together now. Slowly but surely, as was the way of these things. "You're from the future—a future where I... defeated Voldemort."
"Yes. This future. Your current future."
"So I finally saved the world? Stopped the grinding of the gears at the heart of creation and actually made a damn difference? Don't tease me now."
"I'm of a race of magical folk that cannot be rightly called human, or even witch or wizard, anymore. We inherited Atlantis after the Fall of Time, and lordship of history. Me, and those like me—your kin—are Keepers."
I raised an eyebrow. "You're a fine salesman—saleswoman—I'll give you that. I'm still not buying what you're selling, though."
Lily slid across the cushioned booth and wrapped her arms around me in a gentle hug. "Stubborn young man," she said, and kissed me on the cheek.
"All the nightmares came today..." I muttered.
Lily lifted the cerulean gem from around her neck, pulled the thin silver chain over her head and placed it over mine. "Stay safe, take care, hold strong, and the future will bend to your will, grandfather."
A breeze ruffled my clothes and my hair. A cool, atmospheric wind. I caught a last, quick glimpse of Lily's delicate smile before she—and the whole wide world—faded away, and I found myself back on stony ground.
Or, rather, hurtling through the air at an absurd speed, wiping blood from my eyes as good old Neville Longbottom rushed to my side.
"Harry!" He grabbed my arm. "You're... Merlin, your eyes are bleeding!"
They surely were, but there was no pain. Not much of anything really. I could still taste that not-scotch in the back of my throat. Liquid history?
"Not to worry, Nev," I said. "Just zoned out for a minute there. Where were we?"
"You sure you're okay?"
"Tip-top, old chum. As right as rain." I ran out of sayings, and took a firm hold on the control column of my battleship. We zoomed through the sky, as quiet as a cloud. Ron and Hermione, oblivious to my ocular malfunction, leaned hand-in-hand against one of the ships' mighty cannons.
"Why did that happen?" Neville asked, flummoxed. "Eyes aren't supposed to just—"
"Call it time-lag, I guess." I rubbed at my chest, under my suit, and felt a small gemstone hanging from a thin silver chain around my neck. Well how do you like that, grandpa? "Let's be getting on with those horcruxes, yes."
He hid them all across the globe. One at Hogwarts, of course, and one he keeps with him at all times.
Two of the seven.
I destroyed the diary.
Three of seven.
The rest were somewhat more difficult to track down, and I spent many of my lifetimes scouring the darkest, dankest corners of this planet for pieces of his festering soul.
It took me a long time, too long, to realise why we were so connected. One latched onto my soul.
Four of seven.
Three more—the chalice, the shield, and the sceptre.
Seven of seven. A magical number, drenched in enough blood to dye the oceans of the world bright crimson.
My friends and I flew through the night, across clouds of silver illuminated from Muggle cities below, under a sky scattered with a hundred thousand stars and a pale, full moon that hung fat off our bow.
Setting the ship to autopilot, we huddled together under heating charms and enjoyed a midnight snack of butterbeer mixed with scotch, dipping digestive biscuits into the foamy cream until they were soggy and warm.
"There are thousands of lost temples, hidden cities, forgotten caves, and dark forest hiding places—and that's just on our little island of Great Britain," I said, casting a trail of luminescent light through the air with my wand. "Never mind Europe, or the world beyond that. I had to think like Voldemort, but it was still a considerable challenge to track down the fragmented pieces of the bastard's soul. Took me... decades, probably closer to a century, but I eventually got them all."
I chuckled, thinking of past mistakes and old misdeeds, burning down even my dreams.
"That's a nice necklace, Harry," Hermione said. "Where did you get it?"
I caught myself running Lily's—my would-be granddaughter's—gemstone through my fingers and slipped the chain back under my shirt. "In a stolen pocket of time. I don't know. Not important just now, Hermione. Let's stick to the task at hand, because this will be dangerous."
"Okay, good. The horcrux we're going after first is a shield, like an old school sword and shield, shield. You follow? Good."
"Where is it?" Ron asked. He was handling all of this much better than he usually did. Ron was of a mind, half of my lives, to reach critical mass and overload when it came to the existence of horcruxes and actually hunting them down to be destroyed.
Neville choked on a piece of biscuit. "Azkaban? Blimey..."
"Dementors aren't a problem for me," I said, allowing a slow grin to spread across my face. "Not anymore. I can destroy them, and I intend to do so tonight. All of them—those that are left on the island, at the very least. Some have already abandoned the Ministry, and Voldemort is breeding them in Glencoe, about fifty miles outside of Hogwarts."
"Does Dumbledore know?" Hermione asked, her eyebrows rising into her fringe.
"I sent him a letter about it. Voldemort, if he holds true to form, will attack the castle on Christmas Eve, where resistance is nothing and most of the students are away for the holidays. He usually succeeds, given the magical boons he gained in Atlantis, and Hogwarts becomes something... terrible."
Neville dared ask. "What?"
I cast my mind back over a thousand fallen lives, ten thousand and more, in which I'd lived long enough to see Hogwarts fall, to sink lower than the seventh level of Hell itself and emerge as a madman's maniacal construct of blood, bone, and steel.
"Castle Vanguis, he usually calls it. I've never known why. I think it's a play on the Latin word for snake. Hogwarts dies and in its place rises a fortress of darkness and death that sweeps across Britain like the plagues of old." I laughed. "Did that sound suitably dramatic? I'm trying to impart a sense of dread here."
"That sounds awful," Hermione whispered.
"Awful works, yeah. I once spent seven years in the dungeons of Vanguis, in what was the first-year potions room, as a plaything for Bellatrix Lestrange." I ran a hand back through my hair and took a long slug on the stein of scotch-enhanced butterbeer. "You can imagine that most nights housekeeping forgot the complimentary mint on my pillow.
"That doesn't have to happen this time, though, does it, mate?" Ron asked, his tone almost pleading. "You told Dumbledore so he'll have half the bleedin' Aurors in the Ministry—"
"With any luck, it won't happen this time. And a lot of things have changed," I thought of Atlantis off the north-west coast. "Events usually try and stay on script, but time adjusts for the absurd—and what Voldemort and I will do in the coming months is well and truly beyond absurd."
We fell into a comfortable silence then—the kind of silence shared amongst good friends, charged with saving a world that didn't care if someone pissed on the ashes or summoned the sea to douse the flames. Dark talk gave way to happier subjects, namely Quidditch.
It had been a good long while since I'd played a game of proper Quidditch. I was surprised to find a part of me, not so small, wanted to play again. Careful, Harry, my memories whispered, that was a thought perilously close to normal.
"So, we're heading toward Azkaban?" Hermione asked about fifteen minutes later. The cold at ten thousand feet was taxing our heating charms. It'd soon be time to turn in for the night.
I nodded. "We'll be there before dawn, or just on, if I time it right. In and out in half an hour and then I'll portkey Voldemort's bloody horcrux into the sun."
"Sounds like a plan." Neville yawned. "I might go get a few hours sleep. You lot probably should as well."
"Are you coming, Harry?" Ron asked, as he and Hermione followed Neville below deck.
"In a minute. Just need to press a few buttons and point us in the right direction. Goodnight, you two. Sleep well."
Once they were gone, I stood up, stretched my tired and abused limbs, and went and set the battleship on a slow cruise to give me a few hours before we reached our sordid destination. With a few quick wand flicks, I created an apparation marker on deck so I could find the ship again, and the disappeared with a small pop.
At what point does justice become vengeance, old man?
Who gave you the right to cross the line? You don't see how stubbornly you cling to this path on the road to Hell.
I knocked on the door of the manor house and, shivering in the cool night air, wished I had a cigarette or a fine, vanilla flavoured cigar.
A light came on in the hallway, beyond the frosted, colourful glass either side of the solid oak door and I ran a hand back through my hair, bouncing from foot to foot. I could face down gods, demons, Dark Lords, and all the evil in between, but talking to a pretty girl still had me shuffling nervously.
Apolline Delacour, Fleur's mother, answered the door in her nightgown.
"I... er... Good evening, Mrs. Delacour." Stumbling idiot.
Fleur's mother was half-veela, and stunningly beautiful. She was close to fifty, if memory served, but did not look a day over thirty. A young thirty. A young, beautiful thirty. Several inappropriate thoughts danced through my mind, and I shook them away as foolish.
"The infamous 'Arry Potter," Apolline said, holding her nightgown closed over her front.
"Please forgive the late hour. I called earlier in the day, but no one was home. I was hoping to speak to..." The patter of bare footsteps down the staircase delivered Fleur into the hallway. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw me, but then a small grin fell across her features. "Fleur."
"'Arry. You have met my mother, it seems."
"Sorry to call so late, but I just wanted to make sure you were okay." I shuffled on the doorstep, feeling out of place under Apolline's not-quite-hostile-but-frosty glare. "I guess you are, so I'll be off—"
"Come upstairs, 'Arry," Fleur said, and took my hand, pulling me over the threshold and passed her mother.
"Your father will be home in the morning, Fleur," Apolline said. "I would not expect Monsieur Potter to be here then, oui?"
With that, she left us to our own devices, and I followed Fleur upstairs to her bedroom.
Gentle candlelight adorned bookcases and her dresser, filling the air with the scent of lavender and roses. Fleur sat down on her bed, and pulled me down with her. The covers were warm underneath me, from where she had been laying before my arrival.
Fleur slipped her arms around my chest and nestled her head in the nook below my shoulder. The swell of the life growing inside of her brushed the waistband of my trousers. Such a small, precious thing.
"For once, you arrive not broken or bleeding, 'Arry," Fleur whispered. She twined her feet in mine, kicking off my shoes with her toes. "Can you stay?"
I thought of my friends, alone and sleeping up on the battleship. The nameless vessel would be somewhere over Italy now, heading toward the United Kingdom and Azkaban. I needed to be back aboard before it reached the prison.
"I can spare an hour, yes."
"Magnifique..." Fleur yawned. Her hair, tickling my chin, smelled of strawberries. "What 'ave you been up to today, father of my child? Do I dare ask?"
"Recovering ancient magical relics, for the most part." I also met our granddaughter. I think. "I missed you."
"And I you."
That made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Closer and closer to normal, what with all this feeling and thirst for actually living life. I had to be careful, or too much sentiment would weaken my resolve. It had happened before, in lives when I hadn't been able to let go.
Was I already too deep, wrapped up in this beautiful woman? Oh most likely.
After a few minutes of silence and Fleur scratching her nails lightly against my chest, having undone a few buttons on my shirt, she sighed and straddled me. In the warm candlelight, her hair glowed and her eyes were two spots of soft, yellow colour against the dark.
She leaned down and kissed me, her hands working at the button on my trousers.
I didn't put up much of a fight, and fell that much deeper toward terrible, weak sentiment.
A thousand years has gone so fast.
Dawn broke the eastern horizon and I stood at the control column of my Atlantean cruiser, circling the mighty fortress of Azkaban from above. Ron, Hermione, and Neville were at my side, wands at the ready, gazing down at the choppy sea and the black spire of dementor-infested rock.
"It's ugly," Ron said. "Real ugly."
"What do you expect of a place where happiness comes to die?" I muttered. Something was nagging at the back of my mind, but I wasn't sure what.
Hermione was staring at me. "You smell like lavender, Harry."
I was too old and too tired to be blushing.
"We'll set the ship to circling the island from above, and I'll pull us down through the anti-apparation wards. Then we'll get to work."
"Why would he put a horcrux here?" Neville asked.
"Who's stupid enough to come looking for it here? The dementors alone... Come on, let's be having it then."
Five minutes later and I stood on a rickety old jetty, weather-stained and ruined from a century of use, with my small group of allies. Wands out, we shielded ourselves against the wind and strode toward the massive, dark prison that consumed most of the island.
Drops of rain about the size of two pound coins splashed against my arms. I'd left my suit jacket aboard, the last good one I had, and rolled up the sleeves of my white shirt to get to work.
"It's so quiet here," Hermione said. "I thought it would be louder. Where are the guards? The dementors?"
"I—" A lance of white-hot pain shot through my scar and blood dribbled down into my eyes. I stumbled and caught myself, pressing the back of my hand against my forehead. "Oh... shit."
"Harry! What's wrong?"
I wiped the blood from my eyes and chuckled. A quick cleaning charm sorted the mess on the lenses of my glasses.
A warning, I thought. I guess you didn't get Atlantis after all... otherwise what would you be doing here, Tom?
"He's here," I said, as if discussing the matter over drinks. "Voldemort is here, and he knows I am, as well."
"What?" Ron cursed. "We need to get back on the ship and get out of here."
We were stuck on the island with Voldemort and his Death Eaters—and no doubt a slew of dark creatures under his sway.
"Harry, what do we do?"
My eye was twitching, I could feel it, and I was almost gnawing on my bottom lip. I raised my wand toward the blackened sky and, after contemplating the magic, simply screamed pure insanity against the heavens. Thick waves of ugly, yellow light burst from my wand and struck the clouds overhead, igniting the dark blanket with fetid golden flame.
The fire rippled along the base of the clouds, spreading out in all directions and for hundreds of miles, disappearing over the horizon. After a long minute, the entire sky was aflame and surging with cords of my awesome strength.
Hermione caught my arm and gently lowered it. Smoke rose in thick tendrils from the tip of my wand. "Harry," she said. "What did you just do?"
"I just blanketed the entire northern hemisphere with anti-apparation and anti-portkey wards. Oh, and severed the floo network. A touch excessive, perhaps, but he knows we're here for the horcrux and means to stop us from reaching the damned thing. I just made sure none of them can escape, either."
"You've trapped us here?" Hermione crossed her arms under her breasts and held herself. "Are you mad?"
"As they come, sweetheart." I laughed and she took a step back, uncertain. "You knew that from day one." Ron and Neville were clustered together, standing apart from me. "Don't you see? This is it."
"Harry, mate, we shouldn't be here—"
"This is exactly where we should be, Ron. I can take him. I know I can. The game has changed—I'm stronger and faster than I've ever been. He doesn't know how powerful I am, and that's why I'll win! Lily from the future told me so. You hear me, snake face? AT LONG FUCKING LAST I WILL WIN!"
Horror spread across their pale faces, and Hermione, Ron, and Neville stepped away from me. I watched them fall back with half a grin and blood staining my teeth from the hole I'd chewed in my tongue.
At long last, they understood. I wasn't the boy they'd grown up with. I wasn't the child they saw before them. Horror, yes, but also a profound sadness, as my friends realised I'd let them die if it meant destroying even a scrap of the Dark Lord.
"It's not about saving the world is it?" Hermione whispered. "It's just about killing him, no matter who gets hurt. Harry, you're insane."
My golden shield covered the world in pale, ugly, yellow light. Bathed the sea in horrible shades of regret and the inevitable.
"No, Hermione, no, no, no. I've seen the future. I know what's to come. I'm the only one sane enough to do what has to be done. Now, my friends, shall we go burn Azkaban to the ground?"
A/N: Blimey, next chapter promises some action. Harry's gonna throwdown hard. Right, sorry again about the chapter delay. Next update will be for An Unfound Door, my other awesome fanfic. This was short and sweet, but I've been getting a lot of emails re: updates and I wanted to let y'all know I'm still at it, but concentrating more on original writing.
I won't abandon this story. It will be done. But my original stuff comes first now. Which, by the way, you can check out on Amazon!
Distant Star by Joe Ducie
Available as a paperback or ebook from Cedar Sky!