AN: As the chapter title suggests, this is the second last chapter of Fate's Gamble Round Two there's going to be, the next one will be the final chapter and epilogue rolled into one. After this, it will be a long time before I pick up Fate's Gamble if I ever do so again. I've been doing this for years, and I really need to get back to the stories that I started and have yet to finish. Perhaps one day, when the Reinforced Series and Spirit's Balance are done, I might come back, or I might write something completely new, who knows, but for now, Fate's Gamble will soon be put to rest. Thank you all those who've stuck with me so far, and thank you all those who provided constructive criticism. For those who left only insults and flames, I know this story is far from the greatest, I know there's a lot of problems with it, but before you leave such on someone else's story, please do what I did and try to write a story of your own to see what it's like.
Beta'd by: The trolling SnarkLord
Chapter 24 – Penultimate Chapter
Harry sat quietly in the classroom, ignoring everything going on around him. McGonagall was attempting to give them all a lesson on transfiguring materials and how it differed from alchemy, the transmutation of materials, but he already knew the differences between them, and so the lesson failed to hold his attention. Instead, his eyes were focused upon what he held in his hands.
From an outsider's perspective, it would look like a shadowy orb filled with tiny glimmering lights, and while true, it did not convey the magnitude of what he held in his hands. After all, how many would believe that he'd created an entire galaxy, compressed it to the size of a tennis ball, and then accelerated time within it many billions of times over.
If a muggle scientist were to look upon it and know what it was, they would salivate at the thought. With this, they could actually do something to verify whether the 'primordial soup theory' of the early twentieth century was actually at all a possibility or whether it was fantasy. Granted, those realities where magic was a force of nature, such things might have been… 'helped' along, but there were innumerable realities that lacked such a thing, and what he was doing could lend weight to certain arguments for or against the most commonly believed theory of original life.
Under Harry's awareness and the vastly accelerated time he held in his hands, planets and stars formed into solar systems, life sprouted into being, some civilisations even developed, and then came death. Some of them died out through war, fighting either themselves or other species, resulting in mutual destruction. Others died due to illness or famine, and yet others died after their worlds could no longer support life.
A little depressing, but it was the purpose of life to produce more life, and it was the purpose of death to eventually lay them low. In the end, death would always win, it was impossible to completely defeat death without becoming something that couldn't truly be called alive.
He was an example of such an entity, and his body itched. Shapeshifting helped, allowing him to express himself in a variety of ways, his form often reflecting his emotions, like a happy person wearing bright clothes, or a depressed one switching into darker colours. Still, he wondered if he shouldn't embrace this feeling, at least temporarily, and discard his physical shell for a short while.
He'd never gone without a body. Have multiple bodies out and about, yes, but an entire human-like body was about as significant to him as a strand of hair at this point. All of the bodies were him, yet none of them gave up any sort of weakness as they could be abandoned as easily as fingernail clippings or earwax. He wondered if it should feel like when he shed a skin as a tarantula or snake, he'd done that a time or two when shapeshifting.
McGonagall asked him a question, sounding irritated that he wasn't paying attention to her. The question was NEWT material. He answered it perfectly. Not once did he look up from the small universe he held in his hands, watching as a new civilisation sprung up, developed space travel, and encountered the ruins of some of the previous races. The religious fervour that developed was intriguing, the previous races had not been half as religious as these ones were.
His mouth twisted into an amused smirk as he heard them speak of a 'mother goddess', one that bore absolutely no resemblance to himself in appearance, personality, or values. Of course, given that this race had developed from cephalopod-like creatures and had four 'arms', four legs, and a multitude of articulate tentacles, perhaps it wasn't so surprising the deities they had imagined up bore no relation to something that had descended from a bipedal mammal.
The clacking of their beaks and the clicks and whistles they used for a language was fascinating though, very information dense, and containing pitches that would have been inaudible to human ears. The etched and written form of the language was very angular, resembling old human runes more than anything else.
Several more questions were directed his way from McGonagall, all answered with the same lack of attention as the previous one was. She seemed to be trying to make a point about how you should pay attention in class, it was just unfortunate that she'd picked him to use for her example. Several transfigurations were requested of him, all done simply by a tap from a strand of his hair. She then began to slip impossible requests into her instructions – things such as magical creatures that displayed their properties, something transfiguration should be incapable of doing - and he responded by 'twisting' the laws of magic to accommodate her instructions.
The miniature dragon that actually breathed fire shut her up, and she soon had her own wand out and examining it intently. Transfiguration could easily have given something the form of a dragon, and even the flight. Technically it was charms that animated it, but it was still supposed to be impossible for it to enact acts of magic without being imbued, enchanted, or somehow enabled to create fire-breath through spell-work. He hadn't done that though, he'd performed a magical transfiguration, rather than a form-based one, and judging by McGonagall's expression, she had worked out what he'd done, if not how.
Hey, he was a central multiversal existence, the laws of physics and magic were what he said they were. It was akin to a reality marble and Marble Phantasm combined from a certain perspective. He overwrote reality – like a reality marble does – but what he was doing was a 'natural' thing due to his nature – like how Marble Phantasm manipulated the natural order of things – which kinda trumped both of those things even if it bore a superficial resemblance to both.
The lesson came to an end soon afterwards, Harry's unopened textbook and untouched notepad and pen disappearing into his 'school' bag, before it vanished into thin air, stored away for his next lesson. His created universe floated before his eyes as several electronic parts materialised in his hands. He brushed his fingertips against them as he walked, merging them together in a way superior to soldering them, dismissing them back to Dream's workshop when he was finished with one component and moving onto the next.
His eyes never left the dark orb with glimmering lights that hovered before him.
McGonagall sighed, feeling defeated.
It was obvious she and the others had nothing to teach this Harry, but he still turned up for his lessons as he was 'supposed' to. He paid literally no attention to any professor, but answered any question posed to him with complete accuracy, no hesitation, and a voice so distant he may as well be in Australia for how much he was focused on you.
She didn't even know what it was that had held his attention throughout her lesson. That 'ball' he had been holding looked to be more smoke than substance, and the little lights in there reminded her of a few of the trinkets Dumbledore kept in his office – essentially intriguing to look at, but she had no clue what they even did, or how.
She had gotten irritated at him for ignoring her, and had sprung a number of questions on him, many of which he shouldn't have been able to answer, and when he'd answered them perfectly, she'd moved onto impossible things to get him to trip up… however, the two foot long dragon that was currently nibbling on a discarded quill put paid to that. She had checked the magic woven into it, and none of it had been charms, it was all transfiguration, and no, he hadn't transfigured runes onto the inside of its throat, or any other work arounds either.
"This is impossible." She grumbled, glaring at the mini-dragon. It had been proven more than four centuries ago that such a transfiguration just wasn't possible, no matter how much magic you poured into it, yet here it was in front of her, in complete defiance of all known laws of magic.
Creatures like dragons and acromantula had magic of their own, it was the only way the latter survived their own weight when moulting, and the former breathed fire without volatile substances inside of them. It was literally impossible for a witch or wizard to replicate such natural forms of magic in their spell-casting, yet… there the damn thing was.
She was also nervous, very much so. You-Know-Who had been very quiet ever since the slaughter of Hogsmeade, as it was called, and while some people were cautiously hopeful that this meant no more He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, everyone else was waiting for the anvil to drop on them from above.
And to think, that… strange boy was supposed to stand between him and them. Truly, she did not have much faith in him. His ability to actually fight? Yes, she did think he was capable, but willing? He seemed to regard most of them with contempt at best, disgust at worse. She had not failed to notice how Severus had seemed rather… unwell recently, dark circles around his eyes, jittery hands. He hadn't been sleeping well, and given the expression Harry wore around him, she didn't think she'd have to look far to discover the culprit. If it wasn't Harry himself, it was bound to be one of the girls that he surrounded himself with.
Opening one of the drawers in her desk and withdrawing a single kitty treat that she would never let her students, or even fellow staff members, know she kept in there, she tossed it to the dragon. Having examined it, she could tell she wouldn't be able to reverse it, the obscene amount of magic used to transfigure it would last, if she were to guess, millennia at the least.
That was no joke.
A skilled and powerful witch or wizard could have something last a few decades at most. Anything else required an actual feed of magic into it, like the leylines that powered Hogwarts' wards, or the 'contribution' all of the Ministry workers provided the Ministry of Magic – it was in the contract they signed – but Harry had transfigured the mini-dragon with no noticeable effort and it contained more magic than, probably, every witch and wizard in Europe combined.
No, she truly didn't believe this Harry would have a problem dealing with You-Know-Who.
As the final two months before Harry could deal with Voldemort slowly ticked away, Dumbledore got more and more agitated. He well remembered Harry saying he would 'slaughter all in his path', and… well, killing had never been something that the headmaster could really stomach. Call him soft-hearted and a fool all you want, he'd never been the type of man that could actually kill someone.
He had gone against Gellert with the intention of killing him, of putting an end to everything that he'd caused, all that death and misery, and yet he couldn't do it. It had nothing to do with their past together, no sentimental feelings from years past, he just simply couldn't kill. He hadn't been able to strike a killing blow against Tom and his Death Eaters, despite their encounters. For goodness sake, he felt sorry for that pig he saw get killed for meat on that farm he'd been to as a child!
He would not, could not, begrudge others their choices, and indeed he felt that he'd failed so many others when he refused to strike a killing blow against Gellert. Killing was just not in his nature, he was much too gentle in nature to even conceive of the idea that he would one day potentially have to kill.
He found himself wandering all over the castle, always catching sight of Harry and those with him, but never actually managing to speak his mind. He knew it was useless, Harry didn't have enough forgiveness within himself to take the Death Eaters out non-lethally, despite his clear ability to do just that. He knew full well that asking, entreating, or even begging him not to kill them would not work, that boy was much too soaked in blood to consider that an option.
There he was again. Sat on a window ledge… a fair bit taller and older looking than Dumbledore remembered him last being, with the reincarnated – or whatever she actually was – Jack the Ripper sat comfortably in his lap. Not far away, enjoying the warming weather, were Blake and Rose, the Potter twins.
The two would miss Harry when he inevitably vanished from this world. Even if Harry had said he hadn't really established much of a bond with them, Albus could easily tell that they had formed a bond with him. It wasn't the deep bond of lifelong siblings – in Harry's own words, there simply hadn't been time for that – but he was at least a favoured mentor or teacher to them.
One of Harry's Servants materialised next to him, earning a glare from Jack the Ripper. It was the armoured Saber Servant, and their body language he could at least read. Agitation, pent up energy, a desire to do something, it was clear as day, even if he couldn't hear a word the two were saying to each other. A portal appeared before the Servant that they immediately dashed through.
As the portal faded, the other Servant he'd seen summoned made an appearance and smirked as she murmured something to Harry. His lips curled upwards into a small smirk, and the two of them laughed with each other. Jack tilted her head back and looked up at the face of Harry's now adult form and said something to him.
Smiling, Harry raised a hand to her head and ruffled her hair, like an indulgent parent would. She enjoyed the contact, leaning backwards into him. The hand on top of her head stayed where it was while the one by his side was brought up and around her, pulling her into a hug. None of this was missed by the Potter girls, one of whom appeared to have a sketchpad out and was sketching Harry on the window ledge.
The other twin, when he got a little closer, he saw had a notebook out in front of her. It took him several moments to work out what it was she was actually studying – well educated he might be, but he didn't instantly recall everything – and found himself surprised at his lack of surprise when he recognised the symbology of demonology.
He wondered what it said that he was surprised not by the subject, but by the fact that it was almost expected despite the near-taboo nature of the material.
"Demons, Mr Potter?" Albus asked. "I hope these fine young ladies know what it is they are messing with."
Harry snorted and tapped a foot on the floor. A small magical circle, barely more than a foot across, sprang to life in a burst of intense red light. Once they'd blinked the spots out of their eyes, they found them instantly locking onto the small figure now contained in the small circle.
It was about the height of a house elf, but a dark red colour with pointed ears and horns on its head. Its arms were long and rather well muscled, but it wasn't hunched over like a gorilla would be. It wore the bare scraps of a loincloth and held a lit torch in its left claw, a barbed club in its right arm.
It chittered in a high pitched squeal, spouting words that made pain bloom in Albus' mind. Judging by the reactions of Rose and Blake, it wasn't just him that was affected, but Harry and his group didn't react, especially not Harry, who started speaking that painful language as well. A few moments later, the little red thing looked at the two girls before vanishing in a burst of flame.
"There, that little imp will spread word about these two around the lesser demons that I will be most displeased if anything untoward should happen to them." Harry said. "As long as you don't try and summon any lords or the like, you should be fine." His eyes flashed for a moment as he regarded them. "That does not mean, however, that you should be careless. Always use safety precautions, and never be dismissive of even the lowest of imps."
Rose tilted her head to the side. "What's the strongest demon you can summon?" She asked.
"Me?" Harry blinked. "Well, technically speaking, I can summon any demon, including the prime evils, but I mostly stick to the lesser evils, primarily Andariel, maiden of anguish. You need to remember, I have a lot more than just demons to call on, and while a lot of them are far more power intensive than demons… they're also a lot more powerful and a lot more flexible. Demons hold power in their immense numbers and unrelenting assaults, there's only a handful that possess what I would call real power." He paused for a moment. "The only situation I can think of that would have me summoning a literal army of demons – i.e.: enough to be worth the effort – is one where I had alternatives I could use. Golems and artificial spirits would be my go to choice for an army." He shrugged.
"If there are other options, why teach us demon summoning then?" The other twin jumped in with a question.
"You asked me to." Harry shrugged. "Besides, most of the alternatives are too power intensive for you to manage by yourselves. At least, not without sacrifices, and that can be a rather delicate balance, too delicate for me to want you messing with it without a lot more experience that I can't give you in such little time."
He turned to Dumbledore. "Now, was there something you needed, headmaster?"
Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak, but was left staring at the space where the red imp demon had been just moments before. His eyes then slid back to Harry and caught the glimmer in his eyes. No, he didn't have anything to say… there was nothing to say.
"No, it's nothing." He sighed, before bidding them farewell and wandering away.
Voldemort looked around the cavern he'd personally excavated underneath Malfoy Manor. He'd needed the space for the dinosaur inferi when they'd started getting too large for the manor itself. Thankfully for the integrity of the manor, Voldemort was well aware of how to create a large cavern without the building above it collapsing into the new hole.
Of course, while he said 'cavern' it really was a series of such linked together by tunnels. Each individual cavern held a different type of beast within it. Pack raptors were in one cavern, larger more independent hunters were in other caverns, and pterosaurs and pteranodons were elsewhere. There was also a cavern filled with prehistoric insects, like centipedes that were eight feet long, or scorpions that were two feet long. Granted, said centipedes were originally vegetarians, but being turned into inferi fixed that up. In truth, turning even a goldfish into an inferi would have it strip flesh from bone with what teeth it had.
Voldemort had to admit that he was… quite pleased with the army of zombie dinosaurs he now had at his disposal. During the previous blood war, he'd made use of inferi too, but that was primarily as a fear tactic more than anything else. To use an army of them as part of his main force… it was a change of approach, as previously he'd used hit and run tactics with a small group of wizards, but it may prove to be effective, he'd have to wait and see.
The only concern now was where to stage the next battle of this conflict. A part of him wanted an all out assault of Hogwarts castle, but that was a foolish idea. The wards would slow his forces down enough for the defenders to tear their way through a not insignificant portion of his army, and even then they could get reinforcements from the Ministry.
There was also the issue of Dumbledore…
Diagon Alley was another option, and releasing his inferi there would cause an immense amount of panic, especially if he did so on a Saturday around lunchtime, when the alley was busiest. That still had downsides to it though, as while it would get a response from the aurors, attacking a magical shopping centre really didn't achieve anything for him.
The third option… oho! Perhaps… yes, perhaps that was the best plan he could concoct. It would cause panic and it would further his other goals quite nicely.
Harry's eyes snapped open and gained an unearthly shine to them as innumerable threads appeared to his eyes alone. Gold threads representing the fate's of mortals, some already starting to darken from impending death, and what had caught his attention was that they were all magical and all in the same location.
Following the threads into the distance, he frowned, but nevertheless got himself ready to fight. A glance at a calendar confirmed what he already knew, enough time had passed for him to be 'allowed' to kill Riddle without the backlash to this world being too extreme.
Taking another look at the threads, he judged that he had around a minute before the first of them was supposed to die, and with this in mind he quickly clothed himself and prepared to slaughter Tom and his minions.
"Going somewhere?" Altrouge asked, her eyes focused on Harry's form, noting that he'd chosen his more armoured outfit.
"Killing Riddle." He replied. "Want to come?"
"Sure." Altrouge agreed, rising from the bed and quickly stripping off her nightwear and replacing it with her current favoured outfit, which resembled a school uniform more than anything else, a button up blouse, pleated grey skirt, red tie, and stockings. Only the black army boots on her feet deviating from the overall professional look.
"Don't forget us." V/V said, the others standing behind her.
"You do know that even one of us alone is overkill, right?" Harry commented dryly.
"So?" Helel smirked. "What is it that internet post said? 'There's no kill like overkill', wasn't it?"
"Let's just go." Harry sighed, and with a brief flash of light the group vanished.
James Branford thought his job was rather boring really. He saw a massive amount of witches and wizards everyday, but he really wasn't the gossipy type, and he wasn't a social climber either. Of course that didn't mean he wasn't aware of everything that went on before his very eyes, it was his job to vet everyone who came into the Ministry of Magic after all!
He was quite aware of just how often certain members of the 'elite' nobility came in to head for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and as much of a hardass Bones was, she was the overall director of her department, and the sub-departments had their own heads. Some of whom, James knew would accept bribes- sorry, 'donations' when offered.
It wasn't like they were particularly subtle about it, and that sometimes made James wonder just how messed up the magical world was that such things were essentially an open secret and no one did anything about it… okay, so his boredom occasionally made him wax poetically about things, but what else was there to do?
Night shifts especially were rather boring, hardly anyone came to the Ministry at night, and the handful that did hardly ever even looked at him, much less tried to strike up a conversation. Was it too much to ask just for someone to say hi to him? Maybe have a pretty woman smile at him rather than just walk past him when she was processed?
The distinctive sound of a portkey snapped him out of his grumbling and he frowned as he looked up. Who on earth portkeyed into the entrance way of the Ministry of Magic? His hand was already reaching for the alarm as something dived right for his face.
He threw himself back in shock, his heart suddenly trying to force its way out of his ribcage as a massive, rotting creature smashed through his desk, reducing it to splinters. It reared up in front of him, like some weird hybrid of anaconda and bug, a loud buzzing that was almost more felt than heard heralded massive wasps appearing around it as well.
It lunged at him a second time, and he was just a little slow on drawing his wand on i-
A long slender white blade pinned the giant centipede to the ground as a complimentary black blade chopped its head off.
James had barely even a second to appreciate the attractive white-haired woman that had just saved his life before she vanished from his sight. A look around found several more women slaughtering their way through the nightmarish abominations.
He shrieked like a little girl when he felt something against his leg.
The decapitated monster was still moving! It's body came close to the head and he could see the clean cut begin to seal itself shut.
The potted plant that had been on his desk suddenly erupted into a mass of tentacle-vines that impaled the undead thing and tore it apart. Yet even the pieces as small as his thumb nail kept wriggling closer to each other. The sight of which made his brain almost shut down in horror.
Thankfully, a blazing sword soon destroyed even the smallest of pieces. The blade was held by a woman in a miniskirt and corset with six white feathered wings and six leathery bat-like wings coming from her back.
Through the wall, more creatures burst forth, looking a little like wingless dragons, or giant lizards, or something. Like the smaller creatures that now filled the entrance hall, and which seemed to be getting denser by the moment, they were all rotting and clearly dead.
The massive creatures thundered across the room and crashed through several more walls, the already large entry growing larger and larger as more offices and hallways were added to the space. The fountain was already shattered and water was spilling across the ground, his desk was in pieces, and the fireplaces for the floo were not exempt from the damage.
It was total chaos.
Bang! Bang! Boom!
James blinked as he saw some sort of metal thing aim a tube of some sort at the larger undead creatures. Twice a noise rang out from it, and a moment later two of the largest undead vanished in spherical conflagrations of heat and light. He simply slumped against the wall as his wand dropped from limp fingers.
There was nothing he could do right now, and everything was reduced to background noise as a small scale war was waged all around him.
Some of those still present in the Ministry at this time must have raised an alert as the distinctive robes of the aurors could be seen here and there amongst the monsters, but they were proving to be, at most, minimally effective against the beasts. The floo fireplaces began to flash green as more people began to turn up, only serving to make the chaos worse as yet more of the inferi kept appearing and reforming from destruction.
A green spell was launched at a group of aurors, only for the ground to surge up into a wall and absorb the killing curse, before exploding into pieces. Death Eaters… in the ministry… and soo many inferi as well. Even during the last war there had never been so blatant an attack on the government. This was hell!
V/V frowned in annoyance as the zombie creatures proved to be effectively immune to everything short of total destruction. It was unfortunate that her entire powerset didn't really include anything particularly effective against things already dead. True, she could rip things apart with vines, and all plantlife was hers to command, but she hadn't experimented much with natural explosives or flammable chemicals.
Plants were capable of such things, but it wasn't exactly a good evolutionary trait, the energy expenditure was too high for something that could only be used once. That didn't mean there weren't naturally occurring chemicals in plants that, when brought together, could result in explosions or chemical fires, there were, she just didn't really consider looking into them or attempting to recreate them in her creations.
She would rectify that oversight after this battle.
Instead, the meagre amount of plants in this place were used for vines, spines, poisons, and the like. She considered some of the roots in the ground around her, but no, the plants she already had access to were more than enough to deal with the Death Eaters and to slow the inferi enough for others to deal with them in a permanent manner.
Helel seemed almost bored, her sword engulfed in holy-unholy fire as she incinerated anything that came close to her, Illya slicing apart anything that tried to attack the civilians about the place, and even Altrouge was contributing to the fight. Volumen Hydrargyrum was proving effective against the zombies too, especially the smaller ones. She would fall into a liquid state and complete coat them, before suddenly compressing her mass and crushing them into paste. While fire was still proving to be most effective at stopping them, the piles of meat she left behind were barely capable of wiggling slightly, and it would be long after the battle was over that they would be in any state to rejoin the fight.
Even some of Dream or Destruction's experiments were getting into things. She could see various designs of droids here and there, prototypes that she had been testing, not to mention the large mecha that was systematically taking apart the largest of the zombie dinosaurs with ease.
Something pulled her attention away from the horde, a perfect circle where nothing stood apart from two individuals that looked across the gap at each other. Voldemort's expression could almost be called heroic, a mix of determination, strength of will, and almost charisma that contrasted greatly with Harry's casual indifference that, in this situation, almost made him appear the villain of the piece.
Still, regardless of the aesthetics, this was where things were going to end.