A/N - This chapter is sponsored by copious amounts of Costa's Black Forest Hot Chocolate and blueberry muffins. Safe to say I've put weight on. Heh.
Harry stared around him when he stepped into the room Arawn had taken him to for his lessons with the three gods. His first lesson, due to the strange gods finding it amusing, was with life. Apparently life was the beginning of everything so obviously it would be the beginning of his lessons. Harry personally didn't see how they correlated but he wasn't all too willing to point that out to three powerful gods.
So, though silently wondering if immortality and long durations of sleep possibly had more of an affect on their mental state than they would admit, Harry went to his first lesson. From the god of Life. Even though he himself wouldn't actually be able to give anything life because he only had death energy and any idiot could see the issue there. Which brings us to Harry standing like an idiot, gaping at the room around him, because he felt like he'd suddenly just stepped into a secret meadow in the middle of a forest. He actually had to glance behind him to make sure the door was still behind him.
Stepping further into the room, amazed by what he was seeing and also slightly confused as to how this room was possible given they were currently in the underworld.
"Glad you could arrive! Are you excited about learning from me?" Harry would never admit that he made a noise like a startled dolphin when Amatheon jumped out at him from behind a nearby tree.
"Er… what exactly am I going to be learning from you?" Harry asked once he felt that his heart was no longer lodged in his throat.
"I'll be teaching you how to listen to nature of course! And possibly, if I think you might be able to, to get it to do your bidding. Though we'll work up to that. First you just need to learn to listen to what nature has to say to you, sound good?" Amatheon asked him, seemingly practically bouncing with excitement though Harry wasn't really all that sure why given it didn't sound like all that interesting a lesson. Not that talking to trees wasn't a little cool, but silently Harry wondered when the best time it would be to point out that he tended to kill small plants when around them for too long.
Probably better sooner rather than later.
After lessons with Amatheon and learning to listen to trees and grass and other planty things - and also learning with the added help from Beli how to control his death energy enough to at least not sap the life out of surround foliage - Harry had lessons with Arawn (apparently they were sticking with age in terms of order this time.) where he was taught long forgotten languages. Which was actually far more interesting than it sounded given his teachers were the spirits of long forgotten leaders and scholars. Harry found it fascinating and as long as he at least attempted to ask in the language they were teaching him, then he could ask whatever he wanted.
He learnt far more from them than he ever had from his history teachers. Which admittedly wasn't all that hard.
Of course his favourite part of lessons with Arawn though was when he got to meet the Cwn Annwn and learn how to have some modicum of control over them. Well, as long as his orders didn't contradict or clash with Arawn's in any way.
Harry loved that part of the lesson and mostly spent that time cuddling with the hellhounds and naming them all. Arawn seemed to be stuck between exasperated and amused whenever he checked on them and basically found Harry in the middle of a puppy pile. But he never said anything once Beli quietly pointed out to him that Cwn Annwn were basically the only animal that wouldn't feel uncomfortable around Harry and so were the first animals to play with him.
Harry's psycho owl didn't count. Even Beli couldn't explain the behaviour of Horus.
His lessons from his final teacher, and the lessons Harry secretly was most looking forward to, were Lord Beli and the Peverell's teaching him new rituals. They were the only lessons that didn't actually start at the same time the lessons with the other two had. In fact, much to Harry's frustration, Lord Beli had told him that he would have to wait two weeks longer in order for him to fully recover all of his death energy. Not that he didn't get to do anything in those two weeks. In fact during those two weeks he had basically been given a brief run through of what exactly he would be learning and why. Turns out he would have a job when he returned to the realm of the living.
Though finally the day arrived for his practical lessons and Harry was practically vibrating where he stood waiting for Lord Beli to arrive in the room Arawn had given them for the lessons. Apparently it had been warded so that nothing could interfere with the rituals and nor would the rituals make the inhabitants of Annwn uncomfortable at all.
"You arrived early today, Horatio," Lord Beli greeted with amusement colouring his voice as soon as he stepped into the room and saw Harry already there. Harry just blushed brightly and hesitantly bounced/walked over to stand near Lord Beli when the god motioned him over.
"I was possibly a little excited."
"A little? He's been in here vibrating like a rabbit on a sugar high for the last fifteen minutes. He wasn't this early for his lessons with us, let me tell you!" Antioch muttered from where he was standing with his two brothers by the wall Harry had been standing next to.
"Well, before we start, I have something to give to you. A gift of sorts though it will also aid you in your quest," Beli told him, before making a large staff appear out of nowhere and handed it over to an awestruck Harry.
The staff was almost as tall as Harry, coming up to his shoulder and appeared to be made out of a pale wood with what looked to be a cluster of berries carved into the top. There was also a thin black cloth tied just under the cluster of berries that had five silver bells attached to the ends of the cloth. Strangely, no matter how much the staff moved, the bells never actually made a sound.
"The staff is made from the wood of a particular elder tree and the cloth is made from woven thestral hair. The bells will always stay silent unless you are using the staff in a sending ritual. Though I believe the dead will always be able to hear the bells. Amusingly, this staff could be considered to have a brother wand. Though I couldn't possibly tell you where it is. Antioch? Do you perhaps know?" Beli asked with an amused look to Antioch, who was staring at the staff with wide shocked eyes.
"Wait, the Elder wand? Antioch's wand? The one all the wizards are raving about because they have the ridiculous idea that it'll give them power over you, my Lord? This staff is made from the same word?"
"Used the same thestral as well, actually. It's a very special staff."
"Um… I'm very grateful for the staff, but well… the last one you gave out hasn't really turned out all that great for the previous owners. No offence, Antioch," Harry pointed out anxiously, holding the staff a little further away from him.
"Offence most certainly taken, you little heathen!"
"Have no fear, my little necromancer, that staff will only ever be able to be used by a necromancer. It doesn't have a magical core so it will in essence just be a large stick to wizards. However it has been imbued and created by my own essence. It will enhance your own rituals and make them stronger."
"Oh! Well, then thank you so much, My Lord! Really! You didn't have to do this for me, but I most humbly accept it!"
"My Little Necromancer, I am most happy to give you everything you may possibly need. If I could, I would give you the world, but I have the feeling you wouldn't want it even if I could."
"I bloody well wouldn't! Eeesh, can you imagine the headache that would be! Not that er… I wouldn't be grateful for the gift that is. Um… should we get on with our lessons?" Harry asked, not so subtly changing the subject before he actually managed to insult Lord Beli.
"Yes, it's probably for the best. You need to get used to the staff after all. First though, I want to see your form when you perform the funeral rites. See if you can get used to this staff."
"It'll work for funeral rites then?" Harry asked, looking dubiously at the staff in his hands and silently wondering if that meant he would no longer need to use his first staff, which he was inordinately attached to.
"It should work, though you'll find it easier to use your staff made specifically for funeral rites. This one should work in a pinch though, I'll have to make you a special holster for them both so you can carry them around with you and not have to rely on one of us to bring them to you when you may need one."
"You're thinking I'm going to need them more often then?"
"You are pretty much a fully fledged necromancer now. And with the happenings going on between the mortals, it is safe to say that soon there will be quite a lot of new spirits needing a little help to find their path to the afterlife," Beli told him, though Harry took it more for the warning it actually was. It seemed the war had picked up quite a bit in his time in Annfwn.
"Right, better get practising then, hadn't I? Are the motions the same with this staff, even without the ankh?"
"They are. And once you're comfortable with this staff, I shall teach you the new rituals you will soon be needing to perform." Harry just nodded and then took up his stance to perform a funeral rite, just deciding to imagine a large bonfire in his head. He didn't think Arawn would appreciate if he burnt his house (more like castle to be fair) down.
Harry spent about six months training with the three gods, though almost no time at all had passed in the living world. In fact, if Ignotus was to be believed, then only six days had actually passed, though apparently in those six days Voldemort had been strangely quiet. According to Severus, the Dark Lord was actually showing some semblance of common sense by not killing anyone and therefore not giving Lord Beli an all access pass into his abode. Not that Lord Beli really needed permission or for someone to die in order to enter someones house, but generally He didn't bother unless He was actually needed there. Of course, what Voldemort didn't know was that Lord Beli had been quite busy the past week training Harry, so he could have gone on a killing spree and Beli wouldn't have been the one to collect the souls.
Upon returning, Harry slowly made his way back to Little Hangleton and his little cottage there. After all, even Voldemort wouldn't think he was stupid enough to literally return and live on his doorstep - clearly he didn't know the sheer depths of Harry's stupidity. Plus the little cottage was now protected up the wazoo with wards created by the gods. He would go so far as to say that his cottage was now more protected than Gringotts. However, his energy wasn't quite up to the amounts where it would be safe to use a gate to get there - which was why he wasn't leaving the country - so he had to walk the distance and his progress was made all the slower by the fact that a good majority of the muggles in Great Britain had fled the isles for safer countries where they didn't run the risk of being mauled by a particularly pissed off conifer so he couldn't even hitch a ride or just get the train there.
He had had to walk most of the distance, occasionally stealing a car that had seemingly just been abandoned at the side of the road until the car either ran out of petrol or Harry ran out of road. That was another problem he had encountered. The plants were taking back Britain from the humans. He would be lucky to find a stretch of road longer than twenty miles before he'd have to stop because there would be trees and shrubbery blocking the way and creating a newly grown woodland area. Really, it was quite inconvenient but he'd never say that aloud.
No one wants a pissy tree taking offence after all.
Especially when you could understand said pissy tree. Really, they were quite cruel with their insults.
So most of his journey was made on foot. Harry hated walking. Which he felt the need to tell whoever had the unfortunate luck to be keeping him company at the time.
Which at the moment was Ignotus once again. Apparently the other two Peverell's felt that because Ignotus was Harry's main mentor, then he'd have the dubious honour of accompanying Harry the most.
"So, the muggles are leaving and the wizards have noticed that their own people seem to be disappearing if they happen to be outside after dark?" Harry asked on the sixth day of his journey (so he dawdled, it wasn't like he was on a schedule) as he carefully climbed over the massive roots of a tree that he was fairly certain wasn't there two weeks before and thus had no right to be so huge. He mumbled a soft thank you when a thin vine like branch reach down and gave him a bit of help over the overly large root.
"Yes, though the only way out for the muggles now would be by those flying tin can contraptions. And even then they can only leave from the major cities now. Pretty much only London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow are safe enough from nature to leave from. Though that won't be true for much longer. Indeed, Manchester probably only has another week before it is completely taken over and there will be no runway long enough."
"Suppose they'd have to get the army to use their helicopters in that case. Not much need for a runway with them. How many muggles are left, do you think?" Harry asked, cursing silently when he tripped over a root he hadn't noticed. Really, there definitely wasn't a bloody forest in the muddle of M6 the last time he looked. This was just getting inconvenient.
"Fewer than half the population of muggles remain, I'd say. Maybe even lower than that. Many of the muggles that are remaining know of the magical world in some way, either being the parent of a muggleborn or married into that world. Amusingly, some of the first muggles to flee would be what would now be called squibs."
"Big up the squibs," Harry said, highly amused by that little bit of information. "So what about everyone in Little Hangleton? I can't imagine some of those willingly leaving. They're quite proud of the fact that they can trace their family back several generations and not actually moved further than a street away."
"You're right of course, many of those in Little Hangleton have stubbornly remained. Though in some ways they are some of the safest people in this country. Voldemort won't target them as he does not want any unnecessary attention, Dumbledore won't attack them because he's all for loving muggles no matter who they happen to live near and of course the gods have made your shop their base of sorts, so nature won't harm them either. In effect, Little Hangleton is the safest place in Great Britain."
"Good to know! So… are we nearly there yet? Or do you think I have enough energy yet to just port there?"
"The answer to both of those questions is no. No you're no where near Little Hangleton and no you do not have the required level of energy to create a gate. However, I'd imagine we only have another day of travelling to do before we actually are there."
Harry sighed at that and carried on carefully making his way through the newly grown forest of the M6. He carried on trudging through the trees in silence for a while, the sun almost set to the side of him when a breeze swept through the trees, carrying a message on it.
"Huh, it seems we may soon be getting some visitors and it may be wise for me to at least be in a tall tree and off the ground for the first few minutes."
"Who is it?"
"There's a hunt coming this way. Though I should be safe, in the midst of a hunt the Cwn Annwn may not recognise me at first. And you know the rules of The Hunt in a forest. Don't get caught after sunset," Harry said before he quickly started to make his way up the nearest tree, thanking Amatheon for the low branches and the help he was getting from the tree itself. He only stopped when he felt he was high enough up the tree to be safe.
It was only a few minutes later when they heard the distant barks and howls of the oncoming Hunt. Harry turned to where Ignotus was calmly hovering near the branch he was sitting on and grinned in amusement before voicing what they were both probably thinking, "I wonder who they're actually hunting or if it's just a non-specific one for those unlucky few who don't heed warnings to stay inside after dark."
"We're not inside," Ignotus pointed out to him, which just made Harry roll his eyes.
"Like Cwn Annwn can fly. We're safe and as soon as they realise that we're either not who they were sent after or after they catch my scent and realise that we're not prey at all, we'll be perfectly safe," Harry told him, then glanced down between the branches when he heard twigs snap and leaves crunch, signalling that the Hunt had reached them. "Oh look, it's Bob, Geoff and Nigel!" Harry whispered, pointing to each dog as he named them.
"You named Hellhounds Bob, Geoff and Nigel? Really?"
"What's wrong with those names? Good strong names, those! I wonder if Clarabelle is in this hunt? She's a little angel!" Harry said, almost squeezing a moment later when a huge, scraggly wolf-like dog came up to the tree and started barking up it, mossy, decomposing tail wagging excitedly. "Clarabelle!"
"Really though?" Ignotus asked, sighing as he watched Harry carefully but quickly make his way down to the four hounds now pacing in front of the tree and hoping they had recognised his apprentice's scent and weren't just excited that they got to eat early.
Harry's luck was with him however when he stopped onto the ground and was suddenly tacked to the floor by four overly large, slightly moulding hellhounds. All determined to show Harry their love by possibly licking him to death. Ignotus was quite positive no one had ever seen the like of it before. He certainly hadn't. And over the sounds of happy whimpers and yips from the dogs, rang Harry's laughter as he hugged each of the dogs in turn, making sure to give each one the same amount of love and attention.
Really, not for the first time, Ignotus wondered just what Harry was blessed with to make his life so very interesting.
After their brief reunion with some of the Cwn Annwn, they decided to set up camp where they were and make the rest of the journey the following day when they woke up, which was quite early given Harry didn't have anything to block out the sun. It was with much grumbling and cursing on Harry's part that they then carried on with their journey along the now forested motorways of northern England making their way steadily to Little Hangleton. It was nearing sunset once again when they finally broke off the motorways to join the smaller A roads that would lead them to the small village Harry lived in and only an hour after that that they finally saw Harry's lonely little cottage along the road that would lead into Little Hangleton proper.
"Home sweet home!" Harry said with relief, quickening his step somewhat as he finally walked through the small gate and into his garden, walking down the family little path to his house. It felt like years since he'd been here, though he knew it hadn't been, and he couldn't help but give a happy sigh of relief as he entered his house.
A happy sigh that was echoed by Ignotus as he bid a hasty fairwell and faded from view and back to the Green Room.
Of course the happiness soon left him when he noticed that his house looked not dissimilar to the aftermath of a drug raid. Clearly his divine lodgers weren't all that interested in tidying up after themselves. Or he'd been hit by a looter who got lost.
Suppressing the urge to cry at the injustice of having to return to a messy house after a week of walking and navigating bad-tempered trees, Harry just sighed and walked into the kitchen where he could hear voices talking - and hoping that it was someone he knew and not the burglar he was possibly interrupting - completely ignoring the fact that there weren't all that many people left and those that were left probably had other things on their mind than burgling.
"Harry! Welcome back to the land of the living. Literally," Mabon added with a grin when Harry entered the kitchen (and gave a silent sigh of relief at not coming face to face with a burglar).
"Mabon, Modron, nice to see you both. How's things?" Harry asked politely, moving to take a seat that the breakfast bar. Which to be fair was actually just the end of the counter that didn't have any cupboards or drawers under so Harry had shoved a stool there to create a breakfast bar. He remembered seeing one on Changing Rooms once and had always wanted one since.
No one ever said he was a normal child.
"All good. The bakery is doing surprisingly good business all things considered. We have subtly been influencing the residents here to leave soon however. And possibly been finding ways to aid that by leaving mysterious donations in their bank accounts. So far though they seem to be remarkably stubborn and are ignoring even our more stronger suggestions," Modron said, sounding like she wasn't sure whether to be impressed at the mental fortitude (stubborness) of the Little Hangleton residents or frustrated.
"Wait, when you say suggestions, do you mean you're mojo-jojoing them?"
"You never struck me as a Powerpuff Girls fan. And yeah, that's exactly what we mean. Why else do you think the muggles haven't decided to just cut their losses and nuked Britain?" Mabon asked him with a wide grin, which just made Harry stare at him warily.
Shuffling on his stool awkwardly and trying to ignore the little paranoid niggle that was practically screaming at him to demand if he'd ever been mentally manipulated, Harry decided to just focus on the more immediate revelation that was revealed. "Who else have you done this to then?"
"All the muggles. Pretty much. Most prominently the leaders of the world. We had to do something so that everyone not involved in this petty war the wizards have going on doesn't get caught in the crossfire but at the same time even the densest of muggles would notice the mass evacuation of the British Isles and Ireland."
"Good point." Harry conceded with a sigh. Really though, he wasn't sure why he cared to ask, it wasn't like his morals actually worked much. "So how are you going about that and what exactly are you doing?"
"We're slowly erasing all knowledge of the magical world from the minds of all the muggles that knew of it. We're also visiting the few pagans in the world that worship one of our forms and are giving them messages through dreams that we're reclaiming Britain as punishment for how the world has treated what they were gifted with, telling them to pass the message on and give warning to any remaining brits to get out while they still can. Obviously it took a little while for anyone to believe them but the fact that they were all from different countries and then of course the fact that Britain was slowly becoming over grown really did help speed things along a little," Mabon told him with a bright smile that had Harry rolling his eyes. No one had any business being that cheerful.
"Working on everyone but the delightfully stubborn residents of Little Hangleton that is," Modron added dryly, her opinion of everyone coming across clearly.
"What about the rest of the magical world? I mean, they didn't get the message and surely they're going to wonder why every muggle is conveniently forgetting about them," Harry pointed out, warily taking the sandwich that Mabon cheerfully placed in front of him with a silent nod of thanks.
"Same thing. We contacted a few remaining believers of old gods and told them what was going to happen. To our understanding, the rest of the wizarding world have basically decided to cut their losses but have allowed any wizards or witches fleeing the conflict to enter their countries. Personally I think once this has all been settled, Britain will be quite the lovely spot. Amatheon really has outdone himself," Mabon told him, glancing out of the window to the back garden, that Harry was relieved to see hadn't been taken over by the megalomaniac blackberry bush.
"We've also learnt that a message was sent to the remaining muggles here before communications became impossible telling them that the world's armies would aid in getting them out. So far they seemed to have managed to get across a sort of time table before communications cut out. It seems they send rescue teams into major cities every other day. Though I have no idea how they'll know when they've got everyone out or if they'll just risk leaving people behind. It'll be quite interesting to watch the panic should that happen," Modron told them with a grin.
Harry frowned in confusion at her blood thirsty grin before asking what was on his mind. "Aren't you the goddess of fertility, shouldn't you be all compassionate and er… motherly?"
"Not a chance. Sure I help worshippers get knocked up but it's not my child and thank Don for that. I dislike people in general and really can't stand children. Not that I want them hurt or anything. Would be a waste of a prayer if they were," Modron added, much to Harry's shock and Mabon's amusement.
"My sister doesn't have a maternal bone in her body. That's more Don's area. Though that also depends on the day and her mood. We gods are somewhat mercurial in our affections towards you mortals."
"Good to know."
"Oh, not you! None of us would dare hurt you! We definitely don't want to bring the wrath of the Three down on us. Especially Lord Beli. Totally not worth it."
"I'm feeling all warm and fluffy inside. So basically the only people soon to be left in Britain will be wizards still fighting their pointless war? What happens after? You know, when one side either concedes defeat or just runs out of fighters?"
"We didn't think that far ahead. Though I imagine we'll just leave them be. As long as they don't do anything against us. So we're probably going to wipe them out going on past experience," Modron said with a sigh, sounding more put out at the energy that'll take than the actual wiping out of human life. Though he'd already learnt she didn't care about that. Really gods were just too much hard work.
"Well, shall we take bets on which side wins? Actually, which side do we want to win? Are we still rooting for old VoldieBear?"
"Sure, why not. He's the most interesting and surprisingly least batshit insane of the two leaders."
"That's not really saying much though, is it?" Harry pointed out, he had absolutely no confidence in the sanity of either, though he supposed that Mabon was right in that Voldemort was probably a touch more sane than Dumbledore.
"Well, you do have a point. Still, Voldemort is also more likely to actually worship us given proof whereas Dumbledore will blindly carry on with his greater good and stick to his belief that the Old Ways are dark and harmful. How worshiping gods can be harmful, I don't know."
"Well, I'd imagine it's pretty harmful to the sacrifices that you get," Harry pointed out, which just got him an eye roll from the two gods in the room with him.
"Oh we don't get that many live sacrifices anymore and you know it. So changing the subject just slightly, are you going to be helping us in trying to get the stubborn muggles out of Little Hangleton at all?" Harry just stared at Mabon and wonder silently how the god thought that would be even the tiniest bit a good idea.
In the middle of one of the oldest forests in Britain, next to an particularly ancient yew tree in Kingley Vale, which admittedly was much more of a forest now than it has been in centuries, stood a twitchy, dirty blond male and if there were any humans left around to have been watching him, they would have placed money on him waiting for someone - probably to do some sort of dodgy deal or the like.
Luckily there weren't any people around to witness him and more so, there were no witnesses around when the person he was meeting arrived. In a blinding flash of light another young man, with light brown hair and several visible scars on his face appeared in front of the first man.
"You managed to get away from your master then," Aeron observed in a bland tone of voice, which just made Barty all the more twitchy.
"I did. It wasnt too hard. My Lord is too busy trying to work out just why the muggles are fleeing and where Dumbledore is hiding nw that Hogwarts is no longer habitable. Of course there are several of my colleagues who are increasingly disappointed at the lack of sport around anymore, more so because My Lord has not lifted the ban on targeting the muggles in the local village," Barty told him with a roll of his eyes. Really, he couldn't understand why some of the slower, blood-thirsty death eaters couldn't grasp why attacking the muggles near them was a bad idea.
"Hogwarts is still habitable inside. They just find it hard leaving. And that also brings me to the main reason that I called you here. Your fellow death eaters are hindering the gods attempts at wiping the knowledge of wizards from muggle minds. Admittedly, there aren't that many muggles left for them to out the secret to, but there are enough. Should any survive the attacks and then go on the escape the country, they will tell more muggles what happened. And because the ministry here is almost empty of useful worker and obliviators, there is no one to stop them from doing so. We cannot keep watch on every muggle. There is too much to do and keep watch on for us to waste time babysitting your death eater friends. You need to tell your Lord to stop them. Or we will stop them and we won't waste time finding out who the culprits are first. We will just wipe all the death eaters out."
"Understood. Is there anything else I need to tell him? And do I need to find a way to get the message to Dumbledore?" Barty asked, obvious reluctance to do just that clear in his voice.
"No, we won't be passing the same message on to Dumbledore. Mainly because his side is not quite so annoying in exposing magic to muggles. No doubt there are a few remaining muggleborns however that will pass on the message that the muggles got. Whether the Great Dumbledore will believe it or not is up to him however."
"I doubt he will. Anything that would possibly usurp himself as most powerful wizard and possible ruler of every other wizard will risk everything he has work and manipulated for. I won't be surprised if he finds some way of convincing his little followers that it's all a hoax."
"Yes, he is quite the master manipulator. That is no problem of ours though. There is one other job we would ask of you though it isn't pressing, just should you come across Horatio Peverell in a trance or mid ritual, watch over him. The Three Elder Gods will be highly grateful to you should you do so," Aeron told him and Barty perked up slightly at hearing that.
"Harry is okay then?"
"He is fine. Lord Beli and his brothers aided him and watched over him. Now that he is no longer under your lord's gaze, he is able to go back to his official duties safely. Hence why we ask that you watch his back should you be able to do so. Though most likely, he will not need any protection. Only the suicidal would attack a necromancer when they are clearly connected to their Lord."
"Will I be likely to cross paths with Harry often?"
"It is more likely than any gods would like. Your standing orders are to put him before your lord. Only one of them will get you the attention of Death should any harm come to him and it is not your lord."
"Is that all you needed me for?"
"Yes, that is all for now. I shall call you again whenever I have anything for you to do." Barty nodded his acceptance to Aeron before the god disappeared from view once more with a blinding flash that left Barty blinking slightly to try get his sight back to normal. Once he had his sight back, Barty glanced around him before apparating away, slightly more hopeful now that he knew for certain that Harry had gotten away safe and sound. He supposed that he really should let Marcus know as well.
Harry was lounging in his back garden making the most of a rare sunny day and ignoring the persistent whispers of his blackberry bush, a week after he'd finally got back to his little cottage. Really, he never thought he'd actually be able to say that one of his annoyances in his life was a bloody blackberry bush. He knew there would be a downside to being able to commune with plants.
Still, so far he was succeeding in ignoring the blackberry bush trying to get his attention and wondering just what he was going to do in the coming days when he sensed someone standing next to him.
Safe to say he nearly fell off his chair when he noticed Lord Beli standing next to him, a snickering Cadmus standing just behind Him. Harry secretly vowed to get his revenge on Cadmus even as he righted himself and stood up to properly face his Lord.
"Lord Beli! What are you doing here? Is everything okay?" Harry asked, shooting a quick glare to a still snickering Cadmus before turning back to Lord Beli.
"Everything is as it should be all things considered. However the last of the muggle relief planes left earlier this morning. Sadly it has left approximately five hundred or so muggles behind. They seem to have decided to cut their losses. Though many of those left behind just didn't want to leave. A good hundred of them being residents here. However, those not residents of Little Hangleton are now fair play. Already the death eaters have killed a dozen. I have a favour to ask of you now."
"As you're aware, and as you no doubt learnt during your training, when necromancers were more abundant and known of, their main job was to help send on any lingering or lost souls, especially during times of conflict. Now is a time of conflict. You learnt the correct rituals for different circumstance during your time in Annfwn. I would like for you to put all that training into practice now, if that is okay?" Harry gaped at Lord Beli for a little whilse before nodding his head, then realising his Lord would probably want an actual answer.
"Of course! I have a spare set of ritual robes in my room as well. How will I know where to go?"
"Your spirit guardians will be able to lead you to the right places when you set a gate. Eventually, you will automatically know and be able to create a gate to the right place without anyone guiding you. You will need practice first though. Do you think you will be able to do this?"
"Of course! You won't have to worry about me, Mr Lord! Only, if Voldemort learns that I am indeed safe and alive, he'll eventually come here to search for clues as to where I am. I'm going to have to leave here, aren't I?"
"Unfortunately it won't be safe for you to live here for the time being. However, I have a mokeskine bag for you to keep a few sets of robes in and a holster for your staffs that will fit across your back. And when you need rest or a safe place and you don't feel comfortable camping outside, then you will be welcome in Annfwn. You will not be alone during this. I know I am asking a lot of you, but you are literally the only one I can ask."
"I'll be fine, My Lord! Don't need to worry about me. I'll go get everything sorted and then head straight out. You really don't have to worry. I'll look after those that are lost and help them find their way to you," Harry told Lord Beli with a wide smile, getting a small smile back even as Lord Beli handed Harry the items he had told him about. Harry stared at the holster for his staffs, silently wondering just how to wear it, before he then glanced at the bag before looking at Lord Beli once more and smiling his thanks.
"There will be enough room in that bag for everything you think you will need. I would recommend packing a warm sleeping bag and probably some cooking items. However, there is also the high chance you can just scavenge or steal anything you might need. There certainly isn't anyone around to tell you otherwise," Lord Beli told him with a small shrug that just made Harry snicker slightly.
"I really will be okay, My Lord. And should I get into any difficulties, I'll just call you. How will I know when I'm needed once I send on the twelve that are already lingering. Or is there more than twelve already?"
"There are more than twelve, there hasn't been a necromancer for centuries, though many become spirits or ghosts after a few decades alone. However, there isn't as many as I would have feared. As for knowing when a new soul needs help, unfortunately, now that you have accepted your duties, you will be able to feel it. It won't hurt but you'll definitely be aware that your services are needed. Now, do you need anything else?"
"No, I should be fine with what you have given me and if I have any more questions, I'll just ask one of the Peverell's."
"In that case, I'll leave you to get yourself sorted. If you need me for anything, Horatio, then just call for me and I'll come." Harry blushed but smiled happily at that and just nodded, watching as his Lord faded from view before turning back to Cadmus.
"Guess I better get started then, hadn't I? And don't think I've forgotten about you not warning me! That was mean, Cad!" Harry scolded, grabbing the bag and holster and quickly making his way inside and to his room. Cadmus silently following behind him.
"It was funny though."
"It was not! I made a complete fool of myself!" Harry whined, even as he took his necromancer ceremonial robes out of his cupboard and quickly shoving the spare set and the funeral set into his bag.
"You would have made a fool of yourself either way!" Cadmus pointed out, getting a wounded look from Harry as Harry started to change out of his usual clothes and put his necromancer robes on.
"Not the point!" Harry sulked, struggling a little to work out how the holster worked before getting it right so that it basically let his staffs attach over his shoulder without horrifically bunching up his cloak. He glanced at himself in the mirror, smoothing out the robe around his waist. The outfit was basically the same as his ceremonial funeral garb except his claok was a sheer black instead of white, and his robe around his waist was longer, reaching his ankles and again in black. Everything was also edged in gold, including his blue belt. He attached his ankh staff to his holster and decided to keep his newer staff in his hands. "So how do I look?"
Cadmus looked at him with pride in his eyes and gave him a smile and a nod of his head. "You look just like a Master Necromancer. I've never been prouder of you, Horatio." Harry looked at him, stunned before blushing and smoothing down his robes once again.
"We should get going. You'll help me, won't you, Cad?"
"Of course I will. As will my brothers. Our Lord trusted us with your training and well-being, we won't leave you alone, Horatio. I promise. Now, let us go to the nearby church. It strikes me as safer than Riddle's headstone. Once you step into the gate, I'll lead you to where we need to exit for the first few souls."
Harry arrived at the first place Cadmus said there were souls waiting, four to be exact, and immediately knew what Lord Beli meant when He said he would be able to sense lingering souls better. As soon as they exited the gate, Harry somehow knew exactly how many were lingering, where they were and how to send them on. And apparently, according to Cadmus, that feeling would grow the more experience he got so that eventually he wouldn't have to be near the souls, he'd just know.
Glancing around, Harry could just about work out that they had exited a memorial monolith somewhere, but he couldn't tell where as everywhere was pretty much overrun by plant life. Deciding it wasn't all that important to work out where exactly he was, Harry made his way to where he could sense all four of the souls he was here for. Making his job a little easier.
"Do not forget that they will not be able to communicate with you. They have lost their link to our Lord and need you to guide them back to Him."
"I know. Can I not at least try to ease them though? Reassure them that our Lord hasn't forgotten them and has sent help to them?"
"It won't do you or them any good even if you try. They can't hear you. They are trapped between planes. Best just get the ritual done. They'll know instinctively what is happening."
"Okay," Harry said with a sigh, staring at the misty looking souls wandering aimlessly in front of him. At least they could see each other. They weren't completely alone. And they would soon be where they should be.
Taking a deep breath, Harry spread his arms outwards, his new elder wood staff in his left hand and already he could feel the energy building in it. Mentally counting down the steps, Harry then slammed the staff to the ground, bells give a soft chime, before taking a step forward, sweeping the staff in front of him as he did so. He then felt the energy travelling through the staff and himself and felt himself relax. He knew this ritual. It was what he was born to do. He knew what he was doing.
After that, each step came easier to him, flowed smoother into the next step and Harry closed his eyes with a small smile on his lips as he started to almost dance around the slowly fading souls, sporadically slamming the staff into the ground the release the energy building in it. Just before the souls completely disappeared, Harry started to tunelessly hum deeply, slamming the staff more often, then spinning on the spot and pushing his arms outwards once more as he stopped. Breathing heavily, Harry opened his eyes and smiled brightly as he watched the souls finally disappear from his sight with only a whispered thank you reaching him on the breeze.
"Four down, however many left to go. Do you think they're happy now?"
"They're with out Lord. They are no longer lost. I believe they will be happier than they were even though they had been taken before their natural time was up."
"Is that how they become lost? They are killed before their life line was finished?"
"That is exactly how they become lost. It is why it is much more common for it to happen in times of conflict."
"What about all those souls lost in other countries? I'm the only necromancer in the world. What about them?"
"There is not a lot you can do about them. With luck they will naturally find their way to Our Lord, and a lucky few will be guided back by Lord Beli Himself. The rest will just either fade or become ghosts."
"That doesn't seem fair."
"It is the price humanity had to pay for how they treated we necromancers. It wasn't just the wizards who persecuted us. Many centuries ago, muggles knew of necromancers as well and they treated us just as deplorably as the wizards did. They feared us and wanted to either control us or kill us. Humanity now has to pay for those crimes. For getting rid of us, they also got rid of their guides into the after life." Harry listened to the bitter tone of Cadmus as they made their way back to the gate to head to the next lost souls and Harry perhaps understood just a bit better why he was to prioritise the recently departed. Perhaps if the mortals learnt to accept him, then Lord Beli would bring more necromancers into being.
Though judging just how Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore treated him, perhaps even now wasn't the right time to bring necromancers back into the world. Maybe there would never be a right time.
If that is the case, then those killed before their time would forever remain lost as punishment.
A/N - So so so sorry for the wait for this! I honestly have no good excuses. I'm just really pants at prioritising anything. At all. Hell, I don't even prioritise sleep when I should. Of course I'm actually a chronic insomniac so that might be the reason for that. No excuse for the lateness of this though. Well, other than going on holiday (Iceland is amazing, btw, and everyone should go there!), Christmas (I got a Nintendo Switch and it is safe to say that Zelda has pretty much sucked out my soul. Also, even after playing the Zelda games for nearly twenty-five years now, I still suck. Badly. In fact the only game I'm actually fairly good at is Pokemon. Clearly practise does not, in fact, make perfect.), illness (stupid sucky immune system) and getting a new puppy! (He's called Pavlov (I was tempted to called him Beli but my mum gave me that stare mothers have perfected. You know the one, the 'You're clearly a changeling because there is no way in hell I gave birth to you. Choose something else. Now.' That look) - because that's what my mind is like - and he's a cocker spaniel crossed with a bassett hound. Safe to say he's completely nuts, hyper and amusing to watch in a stiff breeze.) So yeah. Sorry? Hope you liked this chapter, belated as it is!
Now, fun mini fact of the chapter, I actually used apple maps to get a vague idea of how long it would take someone to walk from Devon to York. It would, apparently, take about four days and three hours. I'm assuming, because apple doesn't believe in sleeping, that that is also without rest. So, you know, I rounded it up to a week because Harry is pretty lazy, walks slowly and also had to navigate through wild undergrowth. Feel sorry for the Peverells. They had to put up with Harry's whining and 'are we nearly there yets' for seven days. My dad barely coped on a four hour journey with me before threatening to leave me at the next services. Funny story, he technically carried through with that threat because he forgot me at the next services as he hadn't realised I'd got out of the car. Safe to say I to this day, don't tend to complain about long car journeys. Never call your dad's bluff. He may just forget you at the Sandbach Services. (Also mini fact: every time I go down that section of the M6, I am amused by the sign for Congleton Sandbach… and decided long ago that it's an awesome name for an evil villain. One day I will right the dastardly deeds of Congleton Sandbach. *Cackles*)
Right, now for the actual fact of the chapter: Manhattan got its name when Henry Hudson met some local native americans. Apparently he offered them some alcohol for the first time. One of them downed the whole lot and promptly passed out, which obviously prompted Hudson to get more alcohol (as you do) for the rest of them. They loved it so much they named the place Manahactanienk, which pretty much means 'place we all got drunk'. Of course there are other theories as to where the name Manhattan came from, but I think we can all agree that the one I mentioned is much more fun and amusing than any other. :D
So anyways, I have no idea when the next chapter will be out, hopefully it won't take as long as this one did, but I make no promises because you know as soon as I do, I'll break it. Heh.
Let me know what you thought of the chapter as I am a shameless review hoarder. Yep. Gotta love reviews.