It tumbles to the ground in a graceful arc, the hands that held it going limp, a figure blasted backwards. Prison bars shatter.
Something shifts in its sleep.
"...death will be unleashed, and the red will herald the green."
Prologue: The butterfly effect
*June, 1992: approximately 90 minutes after graveyard event*
A large black dog slowly rose from behind a headstone, blood dripping from its fur. Even Sirius's quickest Animagus transformation had not completely stopped the black threads from cutting into him, but his thick ruff and rapidly dropping height had saved him from the brunt of the damage.
A few seconds later, the dog's form blurred slightly, resolving into a human on hands and knees. Sirius stood, stepped over a body, and knelt to pick up his wand. With a muttered episkey, his throat was whole once more. His physical ills healed, he was free to consider what he had just witnessed. He carefully walked to the altar before him and removed a small knife from a pocket on the inside of his robe, ready to stab if the girl so much as twitched. He'd come too far to be taken down by some overpowered undead thing. After a minute of watching, he stepped back, satisfied that she was truly unconscious.
As he walked backwards, he heard the rush of wind which heralded incoming broomsticks. He jumped back behind a nearby tombstone, eyes trained on the horizon. A few moments later, he muffled a laugh as he saw who Bones had sent. Aurors Nobbs and Colon were legendary in underground circles, known even to someone like him who'd spent the past 10 years in hiding. Their so-called special forensics team had a gift for deriving precisely the wrong conclusion from almost any piece of evidence. In fact, if what he'd heard on the grapevine was correct, the DMLE had bandied about the idea of charming each of them with compulsions to say the opposite of what they believed for a few years before the idea was vetoed. With a quick tap of his wand, he was disillusioned.
The broomsticks touched down heavily as the two aurors stepped off. They quickly began cataloguing the scene, in a way which men unfamiliar with Nobbs and Colon might categorize as professional, or even expert. After both men finished 'examining' the scene, they returned to the altar to discuss their conclusions. Sirius moved closer to listen. After almost dying, he needed a laugh. Who knew, maybe they would reveal something he could use.
"Nobby, this seems a right proper mess." Colon began amiably.
"That it does, Fred. Dark magic is always a nasty business." Nobbs replied.
"Not only that, Nobby. Why's there a girl here?"
"Well..." Nobbs responded sheepishly, "I don't know if you know this, Fred, but dark wizards sometimes...you know...do things to innocent young witches..." Insofar as Nobbs could be described to have human facial expressions, he was blushing.
"I knew that," Fred responded, eyebrows narrowing. "I've been on the force since you were still in your mother's womb, Nobby. I've seen everything these people do."
Nobbs nodded, expression penitent.
"I didn't mean to insult your policing experience, Fred. It's just..." he trailed off.
"Just what?" His partner demanded, leaning forward.
"Just..." A bead of sweat formed on Nobbs's forehead as he desperately tried to dig himself out of the hole he'd just put himself in. "Being the...shining beacon of morality which you are, you are sometimes a little bit...reluctant to assume the worst of criminals."
Colon leaned back, mollified. "I guess you're right, Nobby. That's why I have you here with me, right?" he said jovially. "After all, it can't be for your policing expertise."
Nobbs forced a chuckle before hastily changing the topic. "What do you think killed all the death eaters, Fred? I tried that priory incantaters spell that Bonesy showed us on you-know-who's wand, but it didn't work."
"Did you remember the swish and flick, Nobby?" Fred replied. "No spell works without the swish and flick."
"Are...are you sure that isn't just Wingardium Leviosa, Fred?"
Fred opened his mouth, but nothing came out. A few seconds later, he found his voice. "Yeah, that was it. I was just testing you, and you passed."
Nobby tilted his head, confused, then decided that Fred's idiosyncrasies were above his pay grade. "Anyway...if the spell didn't work, then it must not have been magic what killed 'em, right?"
Fred's eyes clouded over as his thoughts ponderously moved to accept this new fact. "That's a good point, Nobby. I remember a friend of mine who was on Azkaban duty this year-" both Aurors shuddered simultaneously, remembering their times on the Azkaban stint, "who mentioned that Bellatrix broke out using some secret muggle magic called...what was it...opposite reactionaries!"
Nobby's eyes widened. "So you're saying this muggle magic could've been what killed the death eaters?"
Colon nodded. "I'd never insult muggles, of course, they're the salt of the earth, but some of the stuff they do is downright creepy. I mean, imagine it: you're just walking along and then suddenly your head is opposite reactionaried right off your shoulders. It's unnatural. Now you-know-who's used their dread powers, who knows what'll happen."
Nobby thought for a second before his eyes brightened. "That's why you-know-who's hands are burned! Bahry One-hand was in St. Mungo's for weeks after the breakout and he was burned too! Opposite reactionaries must also give the muggles power over fire! And that means..."
"He tried to call up their power but couldn't control it," Colon finished. "That's...that's poetic justice, that is. We should get back to headquarters, Bonesy will want my report soon."
Nobbs nodded as the two strode away. As they mounted their broomsticks, he turned to Colon. "Have you heard about what happened back in Hogwarts? Word's getting around that someone took the stone from Flamel."
Sirius's eyes widened. The philosopher's stone had been taken? When? By whom? And, more importantly, how could he get his hands on it? With the elixir and gold, he could live his life like a king. He stood up, visualizing one of his many safehouses in preparation for apparition. It was time to retreat and plan. For the first time in years, he had a goal besides survival.
*June, 1993. Location: Mountains of Switzerland*
Bellatrix dove sideways behind an outcropping of rock, package still cradled protectively against her chest. A few curses whistled past the stones, harshly impacting the rocks behind her. From the size of the marks they left, these Aurors had definitely been aiming to kill, not to subdue. Bellatrix hadn't remembered the Swiss Guard being quite so brutal, but perhaps that was the effect of breaking into the Geneva branch of Gringotts and forcibly retrieving what her Lord had given her before he took her arm. If those people hadn't wanted to get turned into lifeless corpses, she reasoned, they shouldn't have stood between her and her Lord. Most of them were probably dirty muggle-lovers anyway.
Bellatrix flicked her wand a few times, surrounding the package in magical shielding before sending it to a pocket of dimensionally folded subspace only she could access. She didn't realize that these were the effects of the spell, of course. Her Lord had told her that this spell was to be used for safekeeping, and that was all she needed to know.
After making sure her package would remain safe, she stood up from behind the rocks, body already wreathed in multicolored, multifaceted shields. Even without the use of her left arm, Bellatrix Lestrange was still a force to be reckoned with, and she was about to give these pathetic aurors an object lesson in angering a superior magic user. With a wild laugh, she launched herself over the rocks, wand already out and firing.
The one survivor of her attack, found 30 miles away with almost all his bones broken, later described his memories thusly: "I...I couldn't see anything clearly. She stood up and laughed and we readied our wands on her. Then...then the world was fire and destruction. I could have sworn that there were more copies of her spells than there were aurors on our side."
*Approximately 47 seconds later*
Bellatrix stepped over the body of the last auror, brushing the ashes of the second to last off of her dress. She looked up at the sky, trying to pinpoint the location of the one unfortunate who had stepped into the path of her Singularius Nex Maximus Clonizavit. After a few seconds, she decided it wasn't worth the trouble to shoot the auror with a Killing Curse in midair. After all, she had a job to finish. She pointed her wand upwards and whispered a quick spell to summon the dark mark where she stood, burning it into the air above her. That would hopefully keep the aurors busy for a while. After looking over the scene once more, she apparated to the nearest of the Dark Lord's safehouses. Once she checked over the place for magical surveillance and reassured herself that the only bugs there were ones she herself had placed, she resummoned the package. It landed softly on the ground, magical shields cushioning its landing before winking out. She knelt next to it and read the message on the parchment wrapping once more.
"My dear Bella,
You do, of course, know that I am immortal. However, at times, preservation of my immortality requires certain sacrifices. Therefore, if I am ever unresponsive for a year, open this package and put on the locket within. Then, read the runes below."
Bellatrix flicked her wand once, resummoning a perfectly accurate clock already linked to a preprogrammed date. It had been a long year of waiting without him, but it was his will.
The moment the clock flashed green, she slowly opened the package, lovingly putting on the locket. She lifted the note again, carefully reading the runes on it. While she didn't know it, these runes were a precise transliteration of a parseltongue statement.
"I conssent to indefinite posssesssion by the sspirit contained within thiss gold."
Suddenly, the locket glowed as the magic held within it leaped into life.
Initialize recovery procedures.
The spell first activated an initial failsafe, fully backing up all information it held.
Step 1: Memorial comparison.
The spell awoke the horcrux 1.0 consciousness within it for long enough to link up to the horcrux 2.0 network to which that consciousness was connected. It then compared the network to its recently stored version of the network, checking for any differences.
Alert: Horcrux memory compromised! Failures detected throughout memorial system!
The locket sent out a magical alarm pulse to every other artifact hooked into its system, causing them all to compare their own backups. After the other artifacts reported similar results, the locket moved on to the next stage of its programming.
Step 2: Release Horcrux consciousness.
Bellatrix's eyes widened as she felt an immediate rush of magic into her. Unlike most magics, this spell felt strange, yet hauntingly familiar. A few seconds later, she collapsed, eyes flashing red. When she stood up, her mind was no longer in control.
Voldemort rose, taking a few steps to get used to his new body. With an almost contemptuous flick of his new wand, he conjured a silvery arm which fit itself onto the stump by his shoulder. After he was satisfied at his magical prosthetic, he carefully opened his mind to the Horcrux 2.0 network, examining it for inconsistencies. What he found shocked him. The sheer amount of memory gaps looked almost like someone had obliviated him. On its own, this was strange: after all, why would someone have obliviated him rather than killing him outright unless they knew his secret? When he combined that question with the memories he could salvage, the picture grew downright alarming, with one person at the center of the whole event. And so, as he walked forward and let the Horcrux 2.0 system repair itself from his memories, one thought was clear in his mind: Find Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres.
A/N: And so it begins. Sadly, I won't be able to update this that regularly for a while, though I hope I will be able to update by the summer.