AN: Another chapter done, and I'm trying to hurry to the end of this particular 'round' of Fate's Gamble. I've been thinking that an alternate of HP was a bit... stale, and actually a bit of a bad idea. Don't worry though, when I eventually get around to round three, it will be in a totally different -verse for everyone to play around in! Not sure where this is going to end, but so far it looks like Percy Jackson is going to be the next world to visit. I'm not sure whereabouts in the timeline to drop them in (probably the start of Lightning Thief I think) or just how I will drop them in, but that's all in the future. For now, please enjoy this additional chapter.
Beta'd by: The trolling SnarkLord
Chapter 22 – Dinner Date
Lord Voldemort looked over his gathered followers, almost laid on his throne. He still held their awe and fear, as it should be, despite recent events. One failed raid on Hogsmeade, even one that had resulted in such losses, could not erase decades where a bare handful amongst the population even dared to say his name.
This would not last forever, however, and to maintain their loyalty he must allow them their… excesses. As much as the vaunted purebloods thought themselves above the rabble, they still had the same desires, for the pleasure of the flesh, for money, for sadism, and control over others. All of these were heady drugs, moreso even than actual drugs were he believed, and it was this that played a major part in his recruitment efforts, the chance to really let their baser selves loose.
"Severus, do you have anything further to report about the boy or the old man?" The dark lord questioned his spy amongst the servants of the light. He knew that whatever information the man would give him would be incomplete, he was a known double agent after all, but nevertheless Severus took pleasure in his petty revenge against even those that hadn't had anything to do with his school time woes.
"Potter is continuing to carelessly display his incompetence." Snape sneered. "The other day I gave him an impossible task, to brew Felix Felicis by the end of the session. Rather than fail at the task, he instead managed to create a perfect potion in under two hours… when the potion is supposed to take six months at the least."
Voldemort's eyes gleamed. Felix Felicis was one of the most complicated potions in the world to brew, something only potion masters would attempt, and even then errors were not uncommon given the fiddly and exacting nature of the potion, so that Potter had managed to brew it was quite telling of his skills, yet if he had done so…
"I assume you brought a sample with you?" Voldemort leaned forwards in his throne.
"Of course." Severus reached into his robes and pulled out a flask of the potion, a dose of about twelve hours worth if it had been brewed correctly. Quickly taking it from his minion, Voldemort examined it, both with his mundane senses and with magic, the results coming back as positive.
He pulled the cork out… or at least attempted to.
It wouldn't budge, even when subjected to his enhanced strength. Rather than get annoyed, he instead pointed his wand at it, which again resulted in nothing. He tried several more spells, all of which produced no results. Now getting somewhat annoyed, he placed the vial on the floor and unleashed a number of blasting curses at it, and while this absolutely destroyed the floor, the vial did not even sport the smallest of cracks.
"Severus… did you protect this flask by any chance?" Voldemort narrowed his red eyes at the greasy-haired death eater.
"No, my lord." Severus answered him. "It is not me that's denying it to you."
"Then Potter is either properly paranoid, or he was aware to whom you would deliver this vial." He picked the vial back up, examining it carefully. "What of the rest of the potion, did Potter keep it or did you claim it?"
"I did not allow the arrogant brat to keep it… though I presume he protected all of the vials as he did that one." Severus reluctantly allowed himself to speak what was almost a compliment of the Potter brat.
"Get him to remove the protections on them all, and return with them here when you do." Voldemort commanded him. "Felix Felicis is a most useful potion, and a cauldron's worth of it would most certainly aid us in our goals."
"I understand, master, I will do so immediately." Severus knelt before the dark lord.
"Be sure that you do, Snape, I do not treat failure lightly." He warned him.
Altrouge leaned back in her seat, tilting her shades down to look at Harry with her crimson eyes. She saw the smile slowly grow on his lips, a mild aura of malign intent radiating around him… or perhaps she was just being dramatic. Either way, she was sure that, behind his breaker gorgon, Harry would have a somewhat evil glimmer in his eyes, and she wanted to know why.
"What have you done this time, Blackwing?" She asked him. "And before you open your mouth, I recognise that look you have about you. I've known you, what, almost a decade now?"
Harry grumbled to himself for a moment before replying. "I made a perfect batch of a rather, let's say desirable potion, and our wonderful potions professor has just presented it to his lord and master. "However, while he can touch the vial of the potion, and even see inside of it, he's having a rather difficult time actually getting to it."
"I can't imagine that Riddle is particularly pleased with that." She smiled, her own grin now matching his as she imagined his frustration.
"He's told Snape to get me to remove the protections I put in place, and has… encouraged him to do so quickly." Harry's eyes, behind his breaker gorgon shone with an inner malice towards this world's potions master.
"And you'll refuse to do so, of course." Altrouge nodded, but stopped when she saw Harry shake his head.
"As a good student, I would of course do as my professor says." He gave her a faux-innocent look. Altrouge wasn't buying it however, and after another huff of laughter, he continued. "Of course, just because they can now open the vials doesn't mean the potion will come out even if you tip it upside down."
Altrouge narrowed her eyes. "Unless the vial was tipped upside down over the floor I am guessing?"
Harry shook his head once again. "Felix Felicis is desirable enough that I'm sure someone would lick it off the floor. It usually takes six months to brew, and even then it's a very… particular potion that even consummate professionals can have difficulty with."
"Felix Felicis… Lucky potion?" Altrouge wondered aloud, getting verbal confirmation from Harry. "How does that even work?"
Harry chuckled. "You know that Servants have a Luck stat, the wizarding potion works in a similar manner to that. At least as far as combat is concerned, it is noted for making 'all ventures tend to succeed, whether through unlikely circumstance or by simple happenstance'. Essentially, it doesn't make the impossible possible, but it does cause the drinker to act in a way that will give them the result they desire, even aiding them in manipulating others."
Harry's eyes half-closed as Akasha shone a light on something that was essentially Felix Felicis on steroids… Path to Victory. He pushed it aside though, it wasn't currently relevant to him, and he wasn't particularly interested in it, the power being located in one small corner of the multiverse and seemingly not spreading very far from there.
It wasn't like he couldn't emulate it either if he so chose to do so.
"So, what plans do you have for today?" Altrouge moved the conversation on.
Harry leaned back and glanced at the sky as he replied. "Dream or Destruction has a new 'engine' design she wants me to look over with her, this one should convert 98.8% percent of matter into energy, which is the best she can reliably get at present using purely mundane designs. We'll also be looking over the mecha and spacecraft designs we've got, and she wants to start work on a bio-mech design as well that she read about in an odd pen and paper RPG book she read a few days ago." He tilted his head to the side. "Apart from that, I've got no particular plans."
"Then you wouldn't mind accompanying me to the theatre this evening then?" She asked him.
Harry frowned. "You don't like the theatre." He commented. "You find it boring and wildly inaccurate, much preferring going to the cinema to watch an action movie or two."
"Can't a girl choose to feel classy once in a while?" She pouted.
"Of course she can, and I wasn't saying that I wouldn't go." He wrapped his arms around her. "I'm just a little surprised is all."
"Oh, couldn't predict me?" She asked impishly.
"You know I choose to see as little as I can." He huffed.
Altrouge chose not to reply, instead making herself more comfortable in his embrace. A smile graced her lips as she settled herself down for a nap in the arms of the one she loved.
It was curled up like that that Snape found them.
An acidic comment almost leapt off his tongue at the sight of them, but he held it back, though barely. He did have some survival instincts within him, and he had been informed that the dark-haired girl was in fact Altrouge Brunestud, as difficult as it was to stomach that thought.
The last thing any Potter needed was an attack dog like that, no matter how pretty it was.
He froze in place momentarily as one crimson eye met his own. A frown creased her brow and she gently untangled herself from Potter, gracefully rising to her feet. Her expression of disdain directed at him told him exactly what she thought of him, and she had likely divined his own train of thought as well. Severus doubted he was the first to look upon her with hatred or disgust.
"Do you want something, human?" She asked him. "I would say a picture would last longer, but then it really wouldn't, would it? Well? Get on with it already!" She snapped at him.
Once again Severus had to almost swallow his tongue. He wasn't used to disrespect from someone who looked like a teenager, and he had to remind himself of just who she was, what she was, and what she would likely do to him if he actually spoke his mind to her.
Potter obviously saw no reason to rein her in.
"I was marking the classwork that had been handed in and found myself… unable to grade Potter's efforts." Snape said as levelly as he could, using Occlumency to keep his thoughts to himself proving its worth. "I am here to get him to remove this annoying… prank, so I may grade him accurately."
Altrouge went to respond, but Harry stirred beside her. He sat upright, with none of the indications of just coming too that anyone else would have, none of the grogginess or yawning. He just sat up after a moment of slight movements, and tapped a fingernail against the vial.
"There, that should make things easier for you then." He stated, and just to make sure he was being truthful, unstoppered the vial there and then. Seeing it come open easily, Severus turned and left, not even taking the time to be polite, to say any form of farewell.
If he had stopped and turned, he would have seen the malicious grin that both of them sported.
"He's going to have more trouble later, isn't he?" Altrouge guessed.
"Well, he'll be able to get all of the potion out of the vials, but… you'll find that no one will be able to actually drink it." Harry responded. "It will be like there's a shield covering their mouth. I modified the divine curse that Tantalus was under to only apply to Felix Felicis to ensure no one ever drinks it without my own permission."
"And as a divine curse, they can't cancel it out with magic." Altrouge mused.
"Because it's not magic, it's literally divine, godly as it were." Harry explained. "Another god might be able to counter it, depending on their domain, but I don't see that being particularly likely. Even if it is cancelled, I could just re-apply it with a higher authority, and then only Akasha could undo it."
Altrouge chuckled. "I thought you were originally going to prevent the potion from leaving the vials, even if it was open. Why the change?"
"It seemed more fitting." Harry shrugged. "Now, even if they try and lick it off the floor, they will do nothing more than embarress themselves. I find it to be an appropriate consequence for trying to drink a potion that was never intended for them."
A look of mild distaste crossed Altrouge's face. "You were being literal when you said they'd lick it off the floor?"
"I was." Harry nodded. "It is one of the five most valuable potions in the world. Snape really was being an arse when he assigned it to me, he expected it to fail." He sighed, rather disappointed with this world's version of the man. "Now, I'm going to spend some time tinkering with Dream, and get some theatre tickets as well, unless you already have them?"
"No." Altrouge shook her head. "I didn't know whether you'd agree to go with me or not, so I didn't bother to get any just yet."
"Of course I would go if you asked, why would I not?" He replied.
"Doesn't matter." Alt shook her head. "Just be sure to find something entertaining."
He huffed, rolling his eyes. "I have access to literally infinite worlds, I'm sure one of them will have something to meet your tastes."
Getting to his feet properly, Harry bid farewell to Alt and headed to the Chamber of Secrets were Dream or Destruction was already working on a dozen projects with fifty of his selves.
Albus Dumbledore looked over at the students enjoying their evening meal, but found something seemed to be missing. Another look over them all showed a certain lack of… colourfulness that had been present the past few months. It seemed that none of those from the other world, aside from Sirius Black, was present.
"Sirius, my boy, do you happen to know where your fellow companions are this evening?" He asked relatively quietly, looking towards the man sat at the teachers' table.
"Not a clue." Sirius replied. "I know Harry and Alt have plans for the evening, I heard about that earlier, but the others, no idea." He shrugged.
"Plans?" Dumbledore asked. "What sort of plans?"
"Not that it's any concern of yours, but they're going to the theatre." Sirius frowned. "Don't know where or what time though, or even what they're going to see." Sirius, knowing of Altrouge's lack of fondness for traditional theatre, suspected that he might find them watching a pantomime somewhere, but he wasn't about to say that aloud.
"The theatre..." Dumbledore muttered. "They are going to watch the performance, aren't they? Not to, well-"
"They're not going there simply to slaughter the audience, no." Sirius stated flatly. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm trying to enjoy my dinner here." With that, he grumbled and went back to his food, ignoring Dumbledore's attempts to get his attention.
The adults who had heard the short conversation between the two began to worry slightly. Given the traditional beliefs held in regards to vampires of every stripe, what sort of performance would the two be seeing? Several of them conjured up thoughts of skeletons tearing themselves out of actors to danse upon their corpses, or other such magically enforced torment. A few others thought that, due to her age, Altrouge would favour traditional performances, the likes of old Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and those of a similar nature.
The whispers and concern amongst the teachers didn't go unnoticed by the students of course, and neither did the lack of Harry and company, so as a result, as might be expected, rumours spread quickly. Of course, as rumours usually were, these whispers were totally inaccurate, but… not quite as impossible as they would be regarding anyone else.
Dream or Destruction hummed merrily to herself as she examined the prototypes one last time before she started working on something new. She'd been quite pleased with her progress the last few months since Origin had been dropped into this world.
The Chamber of Secrets, acting as her laboratory at present, was large enough for most of her small scale designs to be constructed. Still, she had plans for a spaceship that wouldn't fit in here, a forty-three kilometre long heavy weapons platform that she was just itching to make a reality.
She could do that later though, right now she was making numerous prototypes for more ground-based combat. She had seventeen different human-sized machines that looked to be rather successful at present, three of them had different hover devices to move that were, perhaps, a little inefficient for her purposes, and the ones with seven or more legs were a bit of a mess, two to four legs seemed to work best. The more 'squat' ones with a lower centre of gravity worked better than the ones that aped human form more completely, and as for heads, well, a robot didn't need a neck and there were others ways for them to detect and recognise things than purely visual means, and even then there were better ways of doing it than having the processors interpret data given to them by what was essentially a camera.
Next to the 'troops' were the artillery pieces, of which two in particular stood out. One was simply a tracked-body based off common tanks with a multiple missle launcher mounted in place of a turrent. It could fire fifteen missles simultaeneously, and if it was restricted to purely mundane methods, could auto-reload all of them in under eight seconds. It had mounted machine guns and laser emitters as well, just for those things too close to use heavy ordnance on.
Standing next to it, though, was something DoD thought much cooler. It, in essence, looked just like Metal Gear Rex from the Metal Gear Solid game, but Dream had updated it to use the absolute pinacle of her technological experience so far. She'd removed the in-game weaknesses it possessed, and even modified the railgun so that, in addition to being a railgun, it was also a high-powered electric gun. Given the rate of fire she could get out of it, as well as the damage output, anyone who underestimated her machine would be in for a world of hurt, and that wasn't even including the speed she could get out of it and its armour.
The troops and mobile artillery just about covered it for land-based combat, though she still needed to work on the Virtual Intelligence programs that they used, and that left naval, air, and even space combat. She had a few small prototypes for each of these already though.
While the Chamber of Secrets was too small for some of the big toys she'd designed, she still had working aircraft and spacecraft, half a dozen examples of the former and four of the latter. For air support, the experimental platforms were designed around several distinct concepts, one of which was a hover design, two more used different jet and rocket propulsion designs, and the last three were more esoteric, one using gravity manipulation, another using repulsion tech, and the last making use of mass-altering devices. Of them all, the repulsion design seemed to be the most viable so far.
The spacecraft she had so far created were small ships, capable of holding a crew of no more than four comfortably, and one of them being too small to hold more than the pilot, no passengers at all. She was experimenting with hyper-efficient fuel sources for these craft, as energy dense fuel was the only way they could last a journey between galaxies at a reasonable speed and not require refueling too often.
Looking around at all of her creations, Dream or Destruction couldn't help but let a broad smile split her face in two. She absolutely loved making things, she was Origin's curiosity made manifest after all, and the freedom to create all of this… it was intoxicating. True, she wasn't just interested in mechanical and electrical construction, but it would do for now. Maybe, once she'd had her fill of high tech machinery and programming she might move onto chemical experimentation. Oh! She could try and mix up a new fuel concoction for the machines to use, yes, that would be both fun and relevant!
Her eyes drifted over to the droids she'd designed, thinking over a few things. Perhaps… yes, perhaps she could convince Origin to create a planet or two for her in his Soul Realm that she could convert into laboratories or factories. If she used one or two of the designs and converted them for use in manufacturing instead of combat, then she could have a mechanical labour force to create everything she thought up, and she would only need to focus on designing it then! As fun as it was actually putting something together, she much preferred the actual concept and design stages more.
She kind of missed the multiple copies of Origin that had been helping her make her beauties, but she understood that he had gotten a little bored seeing essentially the same thing from fifty sets of eyes. He'd stayed around long enough to complete his own magic mecha and upgrade it, but after that… well, he'd reduced himself down to only one or two bodies.
Oh well, more for her to do then. She could freely experiment with all sorts of weapon designs now, without any busybodies looking over her shoulder. Kinetic weaponry, lasers, plasma, sonic, microwave, disabling and lethal… there were just so many ways to disable, cripple, harm, and kill someone that just working on directed energy weapons alone could keep her occupied for decades. Even after she'd exhausted both energy and conventional weaponry, she could focus on chemical or biological weapons…
Actually, that was an awesome idea! Mentally going over various 'alien' races that could be called biological weapons, like the Zerg of Starcraft or Tyranids of Warhammer, she could design something like that. She'd have to put some safety features in there of course, and ensure they could never disobey Origin at least. He'd probably tell her off if she accidentally depopulated a universe, and she didn't want to disappoint him.
Dream shook her head, dismissing the creation of biological monstrosities for now – she'd look into making them another time – right now she was focused on machinery and programming. Finish one project before starting another, she reminded herself, do one thing at a time. She would hate to mess something up just because she was too scatterbrained to notice a simple mistake she made, and she swore to herself that her creations would be the very best she could make them or her name wasn't Dream or Destruction!
With renewed focus, she returned to testing and improving on her current designs, weeding out the designs that were sub-optimal to her end goal.
It was well into the night when Harry and Altrouge returned to Hogwarts. As Sirius had suspected, they did indeed go to a pantomime, and while she would never admit it in front of anyone but her closest friends, Alt had enjoyed it immensely, even if she'd been yelling 'he's behind you' along with children less than a hundredth of her age.
After that, they'd gone to a restaurant, a much different atmosphere to the performance as while Alt did enjoy more childish plays, she was also a lover of fine food too. She'd been spoiled by Harry, Shirou, and Sakura with their cooking, but there were still a number of places that made food good enough to delight her taste buds.
Neither of them felt like drinking alcohol, so they maintained their child-like forms. A small smile crossed Altrouge's lips as she imagined her older form with an aged-up Harry exchanging pleasant conversation across a two-person candle-lit table under moonlight.
She leaned into his shoulder as he draped an arm across her, her eyes partially closed as she enjoyed the simple pleasure of snuggling into his side. She could smell him clearly, the tang of blood, a slight undertone of paper and parchment, all carried on a pleasant lavender scent.
"I enjoyed tonight." She murmured.
"I'm glad." Harry replied.
"You're going to have to take the others out too, you know." She reminded him.
"I know." He responded.
"Part of me wants to say no and just keep you to myself." She told him.
"I'm aware." Harry affirmed.
"But… I know that would never work. Once upon a time, I'd have told you to cut them out, It would have been me alone or nothing." She said. "Now… I can't actually imagine my life without all of you there, without every last one of you that I've come to care for."
Harry didn't reply verbally, instead squeezing her gently in a hug.
One crimson eye locked onto Harry's as her own arms wrapped around Harry and gripped him tightly. "But no more girls if you can help it." She growled. "I don't think I can handle any more of this lovey dovey crap." Her red cheeks attested to her embarassment as she made her opinion known.
Smiling gently, the arm that wasn't around her shoulders slipped behind Altrouge's knees and he lifted her up in a princess carry, his hold shifting to keep her comfortable. Altrouge huffed as she leaned into his chest, happy to have made her opinion known. She really didn't know how many more girls she could stand being romantically inclined towards Harry, but she had faith that he'd eventually put his foot down and say 'enough is enough'. Either that or, with age, he'd get so distant from the norm that the 'uncanny valley' effect would come into play and girls would be scared off from such a relationship with him, that would be perfectly fine with her too.
Feeling incredibly comfortable in his arms, Altrouge drifted off to sleep.
V/V looked up when the door was nudged open, catching sight of the adorable image of Altrouge Brunestud, the infamous Eclipse Princess of Black Blood – not that the title meant much to her, an Aristotle – being carried like a child through the door. Like everyone around her, she'd taken to carrying a camera with her at all times. Usually she took pictures of beautiful landscapes or plants, she had more than fifty shots of thistles that she found to be very pretty, but right now she used her camera to take a picture of the two just coming through the door.
Doubtless Zelretch and Arcueid would love this particular photo, and either one of them might hang it on the wall back home.
Her eyes followed them as Harry laid her down on a bed, Volumen Hydragyrum stripping her down and tucking her in when Harry had his back turned. He looked between the camera in her hands and her face, giving her a small smile before sitting down next to her.
"Altrouge claimed my attention this evening, but don't think I've forgotten about you." Harry told her. "Is there anywhere you want to go, anything you want to see, that I can take you, tomorrow perhaps?"
"Nowhere on Earth is particularly of interest to me." V/V mused. "If you could, would you take me to other worlds, ones with unusual flora and fauna? I believe that would be something I would enjoy quite a lot."
Harry's smile widened. "Yes, I can do that, and there are… many different examples of plants and animals that are rather exotic as compared to this world, and I am including the Wizarding World in that as well. Perhaps we could start off visiting ents, perhaps?"
V/V smiled. "I think I would like that." She agreed.
"Then tomorrow I will introduce you to some ents." Harry nodded. "I may disappear earlier to make sure that everything will go smoothly, but I doubt that there will be any problems, and if there is… well, you're a kilometer tall plant with superpowers, and I'm..."
"You're you." V/V finished off his sentence. "I have complete faith in you to keep me safe if required, though we both know it would take something big, or simply esoteric, to actually harm me."
"Very true, and… I trust you to be able to look after yourself." Harry reluctantly added that last bit on the end.
V/V started in surprise. She was already well aware of his protective streak, so for him to say something like that, no matter how reluctantly, meant quite a bit. Her smile widened, and in a fit of mischievousness patted him on the head like a dog performing a trick. The disgruntled look directed her way simply made her laugh, even as he grumbled to himself.
"Good night." She said. "Sleep tight."
He huffed. "Sleep is for the weak." He called back, modulating his voice to sound like a machine.