Do to the somewhat overwhelming responses I've gotten I've decided to leave this fic up and keep writing it, when I can find the time. (when I'm not working on the sixth book)

Chapter 17

The meeting hall was huge, dark colored stone walls covered in hundreds of burning torches rose nearly twice the height of an average human. The floor was stone as well, swept recently, and three rows of dark colored armchairs sat in an enormous slightly misshapen circle that vaguely resembled an egg, with the top of the point flattened. The armchairs that made up the flattened top of the egg were all dark red and elegant, silver embroidery and black swirls, and quite comfortable. While the others were a variety of other colors and not nearly so grand. On the wall behind the kingly dark red armchairs was a huge seal, which depicted the fortress Vairlock seated on an beautiful tropical island, a single fang resided in each of the upper two corners of the seal, both of which were bloodstained. Vertical, above the fortress, was a sword, with Vairlock carved into it in swirling letters, in the pale gray area below the bit of blue sea beneath the fortress were the phases of the moon, in black. Chandeliers made of gold, carved to resemble elk antlers, hung from the ceiling. Each held a hundred tiny candles.

The enormous bronze and wood door opened and vampires began streaming in. Summoned from all over the world by the powerful call of the oldest living vampire they came by the hundreds. The old and the young, many too young to have mastered flight came by boats, tying boats up at a dozen long piers constructed just for this. The older vampires at once claimed the innermost circle of armchairs, the youngest being sent back to the furthest.

Vampires chose new vampires on a variety of factors, one of the strongest of which was looks, seconded by strong personality and adaptability. A dark sense of humor was required for vampiric life and that was also high on the list. Intelligence came next, followed by wit and cunning, followed by obedience to more powerful vampires. Fledgling vampires were taught and cared for by whoever created them until they reached a few hundred years of age. After that, they usually left to fend for themselves. People who did not make good vampires often killed themselves, or ended up serving more powerful vampires. For these unfortunates there was no one to control how many other vampires they created. It often went that some fledgling vampire would briefly fall in love with a human, make them a vampire as well, and have no idea of how to train them, and eventually tire of them. Consequently, the vampires tended to overpopulate by the stupidity of the youngest. The oldest, naturally having survived many centuries and gained much wisdom, despised this stupidity. The oldest vampires got that old because, form the beginning, they were different. The younger ones also, in order to escape the incessant wrath of the oldest vampires, banded together in 'flocks' led by one who was slightly smattered, quicker, tougher, older, and more powerful that the others.

It was clear the older vampire thoroughly disapproved of the majority of the younger ones. Many of whom seemed to have been whores, drug addicts, and like peoples when they had been transformed into vampires. Every vampire wanted to lead a flock, for there was safety in numbers, and even more safety in having lesser vampires to throw at the vengeful older ones. Palpable scorn flowed unchecked from the old ones, and their power, which they did not attempt to hide, sent the weaker vampires cowering in the shadows.

Except for a few lone vampires, graceful, intelligent, watchful, quiet beings, who roamed the room, studying every face, giving calm respect to the older ones, and fleeing from no one. These few loners were those who might just have a chance at surviving the ages intact, and eventually joining the oldest. The older ones treated them with a bit of grudging respect, and acknowledged their presence, turning their anger and power on those less likely to survive, the ones who should not have become vampires in the first place.

From a secret office, situated behind the seal, which contained many spy holes, Nasiji, Arai, Cassandra, Kylar, and Relmar watched the masses below. As the tide of vampires began to slow Cassandra, Kylar, and Relmar went down to join them, heading for the row of dark red chairs where some of the other oldest vampires were already gathered.

"Shall I join in or keep watch from the back?" Arai asked as the two finally turned away from the spy hole.

"Keep in the shadows and watch carefully, this could get a little difficult. Don't let them know where you are." Nasiji instructed, Arai nodded and vanished down a secret passage that came out in the back of the hall. Nasiji, releasing her power about her, entered the room, drawing instantaneous silence from those assembled there. Many of the younger ones staring in pop-eyed shock that such a powerful being even existed amongst their kind. While everyone centered on the row of vampires at the front Arai slunk through the shadows at the back, watching, and listening warily.


"Right, left, left, right!" Draco blocked the second left, but missed the right completely, his sword swishing through empty air "Getting better. Go take a break." Harry told him, thankful of a breather Draco flopped onto the grassy hillside beside the trail, and began stretching out. It was hot and they had been practicing for hours. Harry sat down to watch as Ricalien began sparring with Seamus, who was next to useless with a knife or sword, though his magical dueling wasn't so bad.

The group had stopped around dusk and set up camp, Harry and elves were taking advantage of the last two hours or so of light to work with the humans on their fighting. A little way away Hermione, Ron, Dawn, Parvarti, and Carol were practicing archery while the others worked on knife and sword fighting. Harry usually left it to the elves to work on the humans training, not because he couldn't teach, but because he was not completely confident of his not accidentally killing someone. He knew he shouldn't be so worried, he never lost control and if one of them did make a fatal mistake he was very sure of his own ability, they weren't in any danger.but it still made him nervous. Plus the training was a chance for the humans and elves to get to know each other even better. A week and half had passed since they had left Hogwarts and Harry had settled down to actually enjoying himself.

Glancing sideways, he noticed that Draco had stopped stretching and was watching Ricalien and Seamus with a frown, his attention elsewhere. They had not spoken again since Harry had clearly told Draco what a mess he'd gotten himself into, and so far Draco appeared to not be doing anything about it either. He'd managed to keep the elves from noticing the dark mark, and had obviously not gone to any meetings that had occurred, but each day he grew more weary and tense, and his eyes had taken on a dull look. Knowing how to read humans, they were such revealing creatures, Harry noticed with approval a growing sense of despair, tempered with a great deal of caution. This was good, Draco would not act until they were about to leave the elf kingdom, and then he would really have no place to turn except to Harry. This gave Harry time to figure out what he was. So far, Harry had completely ruled out Draco's being of any one element, or even two or three, though the possibility of all four remained. The War Mages had many smaller branches, the Grand Master War Mages, the regular War Mages (of which the Elementals was one of two major branches) then there were seers, the sea nymphs, necromancers, shape shifters, and the Ri'lasan (known to regular humanity as angels).

He had eliminated Grand Master War Mage, as well as Ri'salan, shape shifter, seer, and sea nymph (duh). This left only necromancer, War Mage, or an elemental with all four elements. Harry was leaning towards War Mage, but if Draco was a war mage then Harry should have realized it long before now. Harry had recruited a few war mages in the past and he knew what to look for. Moreover, Draco should be long dead. Harry had survived because of regular chances to discharge bits of his power (against Voldemort each year and his Aunt Marge, and the dementors). Draco showed ability with air and fire, and likely water, but nothing of earth. And he simply did not have the attitude of a necromancer, you could usually tell a necromancer by their attitude. Necromancers were very calm people once they had been trained, and rarely got worked up over anything. Before training they usually had a bit of a temper, but a good deal of wisdom well beyond their age, and a sort of soul-searching gaze that was unmistakable. They also tended to be very obedient; the war mages had arranged this purposely, it would not do to have untrained necromancers discovering how to raise the dead on their own. Moreover, any rogue necromancer was a problem; twice in ancient times huge wars had started because of that.

Therefore, Harry was left to conclude that Draco was probably a war mage, but if he was then his powers had been removed, destroyed, irreparably altered, or disabled. He would need a chance to test that last one, it was possible to disable a war mages power, heck the right dark magics could do it to any witch or wizard, and it was often deadly given time.

Harry looked back towards the fight, he also had his suspicions about some of their elven companions. Ricalien for one showed every sign of begin a war mage, and she was young so her powers had not destroyed her. Harry turned slightly, Hermione and Ron were arguing, and Draco was watching the fight before them with intense interest, or, rather, he was watching Ricalien, an idea began to form in Harry's mind, he turned at the sound of elvish cursing. Another of the elves, Aerith, a quiet elf who never spoke much, but saw everything and as probably the most powerful of the group, and had strong potential as a seer, had just lost a fight with Jalim. Harry had not had time to check on either elf, as it was he had enough trouble keeping up with his current apprentices. Realizing that it would be evening at Hogwarts as well Harry rose and slipped away from the group, silent and unnoticed, a grand master war age was never observed unless he wanted to be.


"Concentrate, stay calm, don't-" Harry was cut off as Ginny lost her concentration and promptly let out a shriek of pain, Harry raised and hand and the floor cooled. He was training his apprentices to resist extreme heat or cold, it was simple enough once you got the hang of it. Right now Ginny and Harry were sitting on the floor, Harry was slowly raising the temperature of the floor until it was burning hot. If they managed the spell, which had no incantation or wand move, it was a matter of simple concentration, then they wouldn't get burned. All the magic entailed was convincing yourself that while the floor was hot it wouldn't harm you, and then forcing your body to so completely resist any burning that the burning just didn't happen.

Ginny groaned and shifted, every part of her that had been touching the floor, namely her bottom, had been scorched by the heat. Harry reached out and touched her forehead, the silvery web of healing magics appeared. Harry touched a few strands of the silver around her ear and sent a bolt of magic through her temple, completely healed she relaxed and readied herself for another try. This was an ability that every war mage had, no matter what branch they occupied, and Harry was determined that his apprentices would learn it. So far Albus and Sirius, and surprisingly Neville had managed it, then again they were the most powerful of his apprentices, being first class elementals. Severus however, was having difficulties.

"It's okay Ginny, I don't expect you to get it in your first twenty tries, we'll just keep working at it. That's enough for today though, I know have a lot of homework." Harry said, Ginny stood and stretched.

"That hurts," she complained, Harry shrugged.

"Think of it as incentive to get it right, that way you won't get hurt. Good night." Ginny left and Harry waited until the door had closed before getting up and sitting on a fluffy footstool. Leaning against an armchair, knees drawn up against him, he fixed the only other occupant of the room with a piercing gaze.

"Alright Severus, spill, what's wrong?" Severus didn't look surprised that he hadn't managed to fool Harry. He rolled up the left sleeve of his robes and ran his fingers over the dark mark burned into the skin.

"Lately I have begun to feel a constant stream of.well evil.emanating from Voldemort. It just seeps across the link through the mark, it, makes my mind ache. It's almost like he's doing it purposely, to change the death eaters minds, make them think like him, become more strongly connected to his cause." Harry frowned thoughtfully, releasing the Grand Master War Mage side of himself he usually had to keep carefully hidden he noted the smell of only partially controlled fear, and, was it despair? Coming from his apprentice. Severus's eyes had taken on a hollow uncertain look as he spoke and Harry, reaching mentally, sensed a whirlwind of confused near panic in the other's mind. Severus was falling apart, terrified that Voldemort might actually manage to get a hold on his mind.

"Voldemort had undoubtedly been wondering about his followers loyalty. I have to give him credit for cunning, this is ingenious. Rather than kill everyone who has even the slightest difference of opinion he's trying to transform their mentality's, without them knowing that he's doing it." Harry said absently. "And because you are not loyal to him, and because your are a war mage, you can feel what he's trying to do."

"It's not pleasant, I would almost rather not know," Severus shivered.

"Nonsense, since you know you can fight back."

"I know that," Severus growled, his fear was making him angry, "I don't want to go back to thinking like that." The last was said so softly that without his better-then-human hearing Harry would have missed it. As it was his training allowed him to detect the terror in it, which would have to be removed quickly. Fear wouldn't, couldn't, send Severus back to Voldemort, but this was no time for panic attacks or a complete loss of confidence. Harry opted for trying to reassure his apprentice rather than attack back at Voldemort. This could be very useful.

"You won't Severus, you left that and it would a heck of a lot more than a little pressure form Voldemort to make you revert, if it's possible at all." Seeing Severus still uncertain he went on. "Do you think I would have started training you if I had sensed any possible way for you to return to his side?" Harry asked sternly, not mentioning that once even halfway through with their training it was impossible to turn a war mage. Severus thought for a few moments while Harry read the emotions he could smell and feel from him. Harry had a very good sense of his apprentices' minds and how their thoughts worked. He waited just long enough that doubts should have begun crowding Severus's thoughts before continuing.

"You know what he's trying to do, and obviously he's not using huge amounts of power on it, so long as you keep your own mind strong it won't do any damage. Will power Severus, and self-confidence. You've managed to trick your way into his inner circle to the point that you're one of his chief advisors, you can handle this."

"Yes but to trick them that much I have to act dark-" Harry interrupted quickly, a little miffed that Severus had completely missed this.

"Wrong Severus to get past them you have to BE dark." Severus stiffed, shocked. "What do you think war mages are just light and goodness?" Harry asked, allowing a bit of scorn into his voice. "Voldemort's cruelty only bothers you when it gets excessive, darkness, violence, directed correctly, that doesn't phase you at all, and it shouldn't. There is a difference between capturing a killing anyone who insults you, and hunting down and killing a ferocious rogue werewolf. War mages ARE dark to some extent, but it is a different sort of darkness from what Voldemort uses. He obeys no law, thinks only for himself, and has no remorse for anything he does. You on the other hand use that tempered darkness to get past all their defenses, but it is fundamentally different from the death eaters. What Voldemort is doing now cannot change your mind unless you would enjoy walking into a muggle day-care center and killing all the children. Which I happen to know you wouldn't."

Harry paused to let Severus sort through that for a moment, "Do not be afraid of his magics, fear will slow your mind in defending from them. You were not one of them in the first place; you acted out of fear, not greed, or hatred. Voldemort's magics have nothing to use against you because you actively support a different set of ideals. You do not seek to share in Voldemort's power, and killing people doesn't make you feel superior, there is nothing that magic can do to you, so long as you keep your mind strong."

As he finished speaking Harry began to use the most difficult form of telepathy there was, he slowly brushed away uncertainty from Severus mind, Severus didn't want to believe that Voldemort could be simply pushed away without having an effect. Harry couldn't help him much with this, Severus would have to fend off this attack on his own. Harry had to wonder if Draco was feeling the same thing, if he could manipulate Severus into letting Voldemort's attack strengthen him instead of weaken him he might be able to do the same thing with Draco.

This is the last update for a while, I'm busy writing Blood of the Fold (Harry's sixth year) right now and I'm going on vacation for about two weeks to a place without computers.