AN: Right, hopefully, with this chapter now done, I can try and accelerate my update rate. I'm finding it rather difficult to find things for Harry to do to occupy his time for the next few months, and not just timeskip to the end. With that said, Riddle's segment of this chapter was by far the easiest, and most fun, to write. I think I made his plan pretty clear at the end there, but for those that didn't get it, well, I guess you'll just have to wait and see what's coming, eh? Also, I've been recently making use of a Discord chat server, and one of them have asked me to post this link on here for you to follow, so here it is: discord. gg/eJfSD93 (just remove the space).
Forum link is on my profile.
Beta'd by: The trolling SnarkLord
Chapter 21 – Plots and Plans
It wasn't until the school term had restarted that Lily or James saw Harry again, though it wasn't exactly difficult to track him down. He was clearly visible from the castle, down by the lake, and he had one of his Servants with him, 'Deceiver' if Lily recalled right.
James immediately went down to the lake to speak to him, going over what he'd been instructed to say in his mind. Dorea, his mother, had not been happy with Charlus' actions at Christmas, not at all. Harry was obviously a powerful entity of some sort, and purposefully aggravating something like that was not a very wise move, no matter how much he rubbed Charlus' old instincts the wrong way.
She'd told James to give him their apologies to the boy, and to make it clear that no insult had been intended that evening. She'd told him to explain that Charlus was simply lost in memories of the last Blood War with Voldemort, and the previous one with Grindelwald, and it was simply his nature as a veteran of two wars that caused his mouth to speak without thinking his words through.
James, personally, thought those words were wasted on the purple-haired boy, but wisely chose not to argue with his mother. He could see that Charlus had earned some little respect from Harry for his actions, even if that was tempered with at least a mild amount of irritation, and he likely had dismissed both of the older Potters from his mind already. He really didn't seem the sort to dwell on things, or even the type to hold a grudge.
If Harry didn't like you, he would make it obvious, and his 'revenge' would be swift in coming, and likely painful if his previous actions were anything to go by. Of course, judging by the gifts that had somehow made their way under the tree for Blake and Rose, if he liked you then you were a rather lucky person.
He banished these thoughts from his head as he came closer to the lake edge, only to pause as he saw something that he hadn't noticed from a distance. Harry was not on the edge of the lake, he was dancing on the surface with Deceiver, who seemed to have a devilish smirk on her face, her eyes glistening with laughter at some sort of joke if he was reading it right, and he knew what that looked like with his own pranking history.
"Good morning." Harry greeted him, pausing in his dance with Deceiver, who also looked across at him with curiosity.
James took a deep breath before speaking. "Harry, I wish to convey to you the apologies of the Head of house Potter and his Wife for the deplorable manners you were shown recently. First, I wish to apologise for the reaction the wards had to you, and can only blame oversight as th-… the original Harry had been entered into the wards, and we had not realised they would react so to you. Furthermore, the reactions of the family head were beyond what is acceptable, and so I-"
Harry raised a hand, cutting James off before he could finish.
"It doesn't matter." Harry told him. "The wards did nothing to me or Sirius in the end, and your father is a soldier who has always fought for what he believes in. He is hard-headed and stubborn, but not a bad person. I can understand his reaction to one of my nature given just how… devoted he is to what he believes is good and right, something that is almost diametrically opposed to my own nature. I can respect him for his choice to stand at the vanguard of his ideology, but that is all."
"Well, thanks, I guess..." James trailed off, relieved that Harry wasn't mad about his parents, but also unsure what to really say now.
Harry smirked lightly at him. "Your mother made you memorise that speech, am I right?"
"Yeah." James sighed, not seeing any point in denying it. "She is the most politically savvy of us all, so..."
Harry chuckled. "The effort is appreciated, but unnecessary, I have no issues with you or your family worth mentioning."
"Thanks." James mumbled. "Okay, how the hell are you standing on the water like that?" He eventually burst out. "Is it an enchantment, some sort of charm, or what?"
"It's a natural ability of mine." Harry admitted. "Though it's quite simple to enchant a pair of shoes, or even scribble a few runes on them to repel water and amplify the force of water resistance. Balance would be an issue, and you'd need to fine tune the enchantments, but… it's definitely possible, and not too difficult either."
"Huh, really?" James mused. "You might want to pitch an idea like that to the Weasley twins, I know they plan to open a shop when they graduate, and ideas like that might sell well."
"I hadn't thought of that." Harry admitted. "Perhaps I could give them a few ideas of mine, a few things I've done in the past…" He began to mumble to himself, and James only managed to catch a few words here and there, something about detachable wings, another bit about water-skating, and an almost unheard mumble about VR goggles or something.
When a stack of parchment suddenly appeared out of thin air next to him, and words began to burn themselves onto the parchment, James made his retreat. Harry seemed to have disappeared into a world of his own and was no longer paying any attention to him.
James wasn't insulted, he and the Marauders had done the same whenever they came up with new prank ideas, especially if they intended to test them out on each other before targetting the school at large.
Helel grinned as she saw James Potter beat a hasty retreat from the lake, before glancing beneath her feet to the surface of the water she was standing on, her grin widening further. While it was entirely possible that she could come up with a method of doing so herself, she was not a magic specialist, and this was something that Jesus, the son of God, was known for, along with turning water into wine and magnifying the amount of food he had available.
She had already been informed that, according to Gamp's laws of transfiguration, while food could not be conjured from nothing, you could increase the amount you had available as long as you had something to start with. She also now knew that water could be turned into wine, though it was not easy even for an adult to make anything of quality.
It made her wonder if the Jesus of this world was in fact a wizard. Zelretch had said he had barely lasted two decades before being killed by another deity of another pantheon, though she did not recall which in particular he'd said it was supposed to be. Walking on water, turning water into wine, and feeding the five thousand were some of Jesus' more well known miracles. There were his cures as well, though she didn't know how effective magical methods of healing were. The only real obstacles she could think of would be raising the dead, something that wizarding magic could not accomplish, but maybe he'd found a way around that, or it could be that those particular stories were embelished and not entirely accurate, she did not know.
She smirked at Harry, her 'master', though she loathed even thinking of anyone using that title, as he uncosciously maintained his balance on the shifting surface of the water. The stack of parchment, now as thick as her hand was broad, growing larger as he added more and more ideas to the list, even including diagrams and explanations on how to achieve the desired results using wizardcraft.
She stepped behind him and looked over his shoulder, wondering if it was possible for her to replicate this with her own demonic power. Demonic spells were formed from 'imagination' and 'power' in her original world, so theoretically she should be able to emulate these spells, though of course it would not necessarily be simple, and an understanding of the underlying principles could only help.
Still, she had never used particularly complex magic. Efficient? Yes, she could do that. Complex? That was something else, as she'd always been rather direct in her application of force. She could amplify her physical abilities easily enough, use various elemental blasts, and even conjure up constructs like chains or cages made of raw demonic power. Beelzebub had been better at the constructs than her though, crafting terrifying swarms from nothing in an instant, Leviathan had been better at the elemental manipulation, especially water and ice, and Asmodeus had been a master of charming others. She'd simply had the raw power that the others couldn't match, and the flexibility to be at least good in each of their specialisations.
"He's going to be like that for a few more hours yet."
Helel turned to Tamamo-no-Mae, who'd materialised not ten feet away, at the edge of the lake. The fox woman indicated Harry with a nod of her head, and re-iterated her previous statement, adding on that 'he'll be back with us by supper'.
"Does he usually… break away from reality like this?" She asked the kitsune.
"Occasionally, yes, though break away isn't the right way to put it." Tamamo hummed to herself. "Toss something at him or grab hold of him and he'll react as usual, but he does like to experiment and invent things, it's one of his more defining traits. If he wasn't, well, what he was, then I imagine he'd be quite happy as a researcher or scientist, 'pushing the bounds of knowledge' as it were."
Helel laughed at that, taking a few steps off the surface of the water and settling on a rock beside Tamamo. "If he'd been a human during my time, I would have tried so hard to recruit him. Heck, I'd have even attempted to find a way to convert humans into devils, there's probably some way to do it, but the how escapes me."
"Probably." Tamamo agreed. "I'd say there's probably a way to do anything as long as you're creative enough, but… it doesn't really matter, does it? Harry's here with us, and there's nothing that's ever going to separate us. That's more than enough for me."
Helel settled down to watch Harry mutter to himself. Well, that and enjoy the rather fine weather. There was a sharp chill in the January air, but that didn't bother her, and the view was wonderful, incorporating mountains, woodland, the lake, and even the castle, it was truly a sight to behold.
Not that she hadn't seen other amazing sights in her time. The underworld could be quite breathtaking, if in a different manner to this, and she had flown higher than the clouds and gazed down on a primordial earth, or at least had the memories of it. She could even recall heaven and its halls. Still, there was something to be said for a more natural beauty, without the hallowed grace of the upper realms or the primal form of the lower realms.
"Any idea what his plans for the future are?" Helel eventually asked. "You've been with him much longer than I have, and it seems to me that he's not doing much of anything, aside from champing at the bit. It's like there's something he wants to do, but can't for some reason."
"I've only really known him a year and a half." Tamamo frowned. "Fran and Liz have been with him two more years than I have, but I do know that Harry is getting really bored and is… anxious? That's probably the best word for it, anxious to just be done with this world already. However, he can't actually take Voldemort out for another four months or risk this world collapsing in on itself."
"Why would it collapse?" Helel asked her.
"Not sure, myself, but according to Fate, she needs time to slot Harry's existence into the 'fate' of this world, or something like that." She shrugged. "Fate is not absolute, we've been told that, but it's like dropping a boulder into a stream, rather than a pebble in a river. If she doesn't mitigate the damage somehow, then 'something' bad happens."
"So Harry could kill this 'Voldemort' person, but there would be some sort of backlash from it that would… what? Destroy this world? This reality?" Helel mused.
"Sounds about right." Tamamo agreed.
The two of them settled down and chatted as the stack of parchment grew higher and higher, both of them lost in the simple joy of good conversation.
Fred and George jumped a mile in the air when, with a heavy thud, several stacks of parchment as tall as they were landed on their table in the common room. Looking up, they saw the 'other' Harry giving them a rather pleased smile (predatory, a part of their minds corrected them).
The two gingers blinked in sync, glanced at one another, before looking back to the Slytherin in their common room, and then to the common room itself, dominated by red and gold. Fred idly noted that Harry's purple and black colour scheme really clashed with the red and gold, while George wondered how he'd got in, as he rather doubted someone had told him the password for their dormitory.
"Can we help you?" Fred asked.
"You intend to open a shop after graduating." It was a statement, not a question. "I believe you will be interested in what I have here." Several sheets of parchment were slipped from the top of one stack and then handed to the twins. Each couple of sheets were bound by a black ribbon.
There was silence in the common room as the twins read through a few of the 'booklets' each. One rather unhappy looking Gryffindor approached the purple-haired boy with his wand out, only for a twitch of Harry's wrist to throw him back into his seat and silence him, without the Slytherin even turning to face him.
"A lot of this goes right over my head." Fred admitted eventually. "The little explanation at the start does sound pretty good though, and there are step by step instructions."
"We can't take your word for this, you understand." George continued. "We'll have to experiment ourselves… and that's a lot to go through." He eyed the stacks of parchment a little apprehensively.
Harry waved them off uncaringly. "I know, I know, just be sure to come see me when you're done verifying it all."
With that, he turned and left, leaving the red-haired twins to go through the stacks of parchment themselves. A curious second year reached for one of the stacks, only to yelp in pain and withdraw with a visible burn mark on their hand. Only a few others made an attempt, and they all came away with steadily greater injuries.
After one particular seventh year ended up with a plasma whip wrapped around her arm to the shoulder… well, no more attempts were made after that.
The cold January kept most people indoors that month, but there were always a few who bucked the trend. There were the people who were so wrapped up as to be unrecogniseable. Of course, there were also those for whom the weather meant nothing, and Harry did get more than one envious look for seeming so comfortable in so little.
It took a student pointing out that he might be using warming charms for others to emulate his state of dress, but even that wasn't a perfect solution, a jacket with a warming charm on it won't stop your face or ears that are exposed to the cold. Still, for most, it was good enough.
Harry avoided both students and teachers almost completely. With the Grail War, as short as it had been, he'd actually somehow managed to forget the events of Hogsmeade prior to the Christmas break. Andariel had been… rather visible, and the others he'd summoned back then had not exactly been very subtle either.
He was unsurprised that it was the demon's appearance that had generated the most talk, and with that the greater number of rumours as well. The obvious glee she'd displayed when slaughtering humans had everyone on edge, especially when the Prophet had ran an article on how his summons had made no distinction between the 'true villains and those who were unfortunate enough to have been forced to fight by the dreaded Imperius curse' as it was put.
He was kind of tempted to summon Andariel and tell her to give the Prophet an interview from her perspective, but when he mentioned doing just that to Lily, she advised against it. The rather sadistic gleam that had appeared in her eye for but a moment implying that she didn't buy into the imperius defence herself.
Of course, while things like that made him wonder if the wizarding world was inherently broken, he couldn't think of anywhere that such… inconsistencies didn't exist. The tales of many worlds were woven into innumerable gripping narratives, and almost every last one of them possessed an example of broken logic.
"I'm bored." Harry grumbled to himself, flipping his Breaker Gorgon from one hand to the other. "Dream is looking over all of the projects with fifty of me, Tyrant's enjoying fights, and I'm stuck here for another four months. Damn it, why did I agree with this again?"
"Because you're impulsive." Serial Phantasm dryly commented. "It is perhaps your most prominent flaw, you can't help but involve yourself in everything around you."
Harry huffed, but didn't disagree. "Why can't Riddle do something, launch a raid that we can fight against, summon demons for us to crush, attempt to infiltrate the school to kill Dumbledore, something!"
"How many of his minions did you slaughter at Hogsmeade?" Seri asked him. "That will have cut his numbers, and I can't imagine it helped his recruitment efforts."
"He's still being too damn quiet." Harry huffed. "It's not like he can pretend he's hidden, everyone knows he's out and about. I'd have expected him to be conducting raids and slaughter just to perpetuate the fear of him. At the very least he should have struck out at some muggles by now if he's avoiding the wizarding world, but there's been nothing."
"Perhaps you've simply missed him?" Helel suggested, playing 'devil's advocate' as it were. Seeing Harry's flat look, she rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I know, nigh omniscient entity of immense power and all that." She shook her head. "Of course, he might be laying low for research purposes. I know that if I was faced with an opponent who could casually wipe out an 'elite' force then I would either hit them even harder myself, or look for something that could destroy them."
Harry frowned, mulling his thoughts over for a few moments.
"Samael?" He asked.
She scoffed. "Samael was driven mad by his own essence, I would sooner cut off one of my own limbs than attempt to use him in any way. He is dangerous, unpredictable, and above all else bat shit insane. No, the only way to use crazies is to drop them in a sealed room and sluice out what's left afterwards."
"That is assuming your opponent is neither insane nor ignorant." Harry pointed out with amusement. "Even I might experiment with such things out of idle curiosity, though I would ensure I knew all that I could beforehand, despite my more… impulsive decisions before."
Helel burst out laughing, and it took her several minutes to get herself back under control. "Impulsive!? I've heard plenty of stories already about your poor impulse control, it makes my rebellion against Father look like a schoolyard brawl. Understatement, thy name is Blackwing."
"Blackwing… that's Alt's nickname for me, and the one that's going to stick by the looks of it." Harry mused. "Ironic, isn't it, that it describes a physical feature of my animagus form, yet I am a shapeless entity that can look however I please, no?" He grinned as he suddenly sprouted golden wings of liquid light, before switching them out with brown feathered wings, and then cycling through a vareity of colours and styles, though never black.
Helel winced and began to rub at her forehead, feeling an oncoming headache as Harry began manifesting wings in more than three physical dimensions. She eventually slugged him across the jaw when he sprouted a pair of wings that existed in forty nine physical dimensions and seven temporal ones.
Harry chuckled and dismissed his alterations, returning to a visibly human form, or at least something that could roughly equate to one. He linked arms with Helel and stepped up to the castle's front doors… that were nowhere near the edge of the lake.
Helel glared at him once again for folding space around them.
He just grinned back at her, eyes sparkling with mirth. She soon mirrored his expression and gave an exasperated huff, surrendering to the innanity of it. She knew that, given time, she would become accustomed to the strange life she now lived, and all that entailed.
She just wasn't certain whether that was a good thing or not.
Tossing another book aside, Voldemort roared in frustration. Another dead end, another pointless waste of time. Ever since the attack on Hogsmeade had failed, he had been searching for any reference to this 'Andariel' demon that Potter had apparently summoned, and he had found nothing!
She was a named demon, she should be easy to find. Very few demons ever received a name, and they were almost always supremely powerful, capable of wiping out armies by themselves, and that was without them calling forth the hordes of lesser demons that they commanded.
The name itself sounded biblical, like Gabriel, Daniel, Raphael, Michael, Uriel, and so forth. Her appearance even supported this, with the extra limbs on her back mimicking the wings of an angel, though with a title of 'Maiden of Anguish' she was obviously no Celestial.
Was she a former Celestial from a higher realm that had been corrupted and now resided in a lower realm? Voldemort did know about planar theory, that there were a great many 'layers' of reality, with the ones 'above' and 'below' being tainted by two different energies that got more intense the further away from their own 'layer' they were. Both of these energies were inimical to mortal life, being flooded with 'heavenly' energy apparently being a quick way to go, exploding with immense power, while 'demonic' power was slow and painful as it consumed you and gradually ate away at your essence.
Either way, if Potter had a Celestial or an Infernal backing him, things became very dangerous for him. He did not know whether his horcruxes would be a sufficient defence against something like that, whether the 'purifying' or 'corrupting' power would simply devour him regardless, or possibly start a chain reaction that would consume his horcruxes due to them keeping him anchored to this particular reality.
It was a tricky situation with no obvious answer, hence his search for this 'Andariel'. If he could find its origins, he could figure out how dangerous it truly was to himself, and whether it was high tier enough to be a risk towards his precious soul fragments.
Unfortunately, demonology was something of a taboo subject in the wizarding world, and while there were lists of known demons and their weaknesses, even he had difficulty finding anything on how to summon them or how to divine their nature.
Not that he was currently contemplating summoning anything demonic. They were, after all, notoriously difficult to control, and the slightest slip could have them turning a small country into a twisted wasteland in a very short period of time. So no, he wasn't summoning any demons, no matter how useful such power would be.
He'd looked for anything that could banish demons or prevent their summoning, and what he found there was rather lacklustre. While such things did exist, they tended to be extremely power intensive, as the magic was corroded by their mere presence. The best defences, according to the books he'd found, used Celestial power to directly counter Infernal energy.
He'd already started collecting as much of the former as he could. The realms 'bled' a small amount of power constantly, and it was possible to capture this power and store it away, though doing so was anything but easy. Already, Voldemort had a glass orb the size of his fist that was filled with liquid golden light.
This wouldn't hardly be enough though, not for a named demon, at best it would cause this 'Andariel' a painful and mildly debilitating injury, perhaps blow a limb off or something if he used it like a muggle grenade. No, it would take some time for him to build up enough to actually do something against that particular foe, and she was not the only one that Potter could call on.
Thankfully, these 'Oni' that he'd also summoned were nowhere near as powerful, and not one of them could use magic it seemed. They were faster and stronger than humans, but that wasn't much of an issue, he did have plenty of inferi that had been left in various places last time around, and he could collect hundreds of them fairly easily, make fresh ones even, as a muggle corpse was as good as a wizard or witch where they were concerned.
Still, that did not mean they couldn't be improved. Inferi were corpses anyway, so it wasn't like they could complain if he started carving strengthening runes into their flesh, and there were a number of potions that could enhance strength and speed that had a number of major drawbacks, at least for the living.
As much as he loathed copying his enemy's tactics, hit and run tactics would not work against this new threat, not unless he wanted to get personally involved in each and every fight with the other Potter. Even then, his forces would slowly be whittled down to nothing, and with recruitment having come to a grinding halt that would simply not do.
He had to respect this Potter though, at least a little. He had proven that he was no simple sheep amongst the flock, and that he was willing to play the hard game, to take a life with his own power. Dumbledore would never do that, not even if it was to save the entire world, or at least he would not do so directly.
Having been born in the muggle world, and while he would deny it to any that cared to even suggest it, he still kept an eye on that part of the world, Voldemort did recognise the signs of some sort of past trauma. There was something in Dumbledore's history that put a mental block on him even thinking of killing with his own power. Engineering a situation in which someone is likely to die, yes, even leading them into a battle where death was a distinct possibility, but actually killing someone himself?
No, Dumbledore was incapable of even conceiving of such an action on his part.
That had made things easier for Voldemort in the past, and even now with the old man trying to preach love and peace, it allowed him to slip a number of things past the Ministry that he wouldn't have been able to if they were more vigilant in their duties. Killing off the veterans of the conflict with Grindlwald had been one of the first things he'd done last time around, and that had only further cemented his position.
So, Celestial empowered 'grenades' for the demon, masses of enhanced inferi for other minions of Potters, was there anything else he was missing? Did Potter have more demons or the like that could match 'Andariel'? If so then he needed to prepare even more, but what could he do?
Perhaps… yes, perhaps he could go even further with that inferius idea of his. Was there any reason it wouldn't work on, say, a dragon? If it was too magically powerful for such spells to take hold, then he could always get his hands on rhinos or elephants, they weren't magical, so it shouldn't prove a barricade to his plans, but… why stop there?
While the resulting creature would be sterile, it was technically possible for magic to 'clone' a dead animal, implanting the memory of a dead animal into the womb of a living one, and wasn't there, once upon a time, a number of rather impressive creatures that walked the earth, non-magical ones at that? Usually he'd have to wait quite some time for a large enough beast to grow, but as time turners had proven, magic could violate even that which science said was utterly impossible, and accelerating time in an area had to be easier than rewinding it, surely.
Yes, perhaps now he had a plan that could work.