Chapter 51: Wands
It's not paranoia if they're really after you.
That's what Moody always says, usually followed by exclamations of ever-present vigilance.
I can't help but feel on edge in the Great Hall during breakfast the morning after my capture. The contrast between fighting for my life, versus sitting down peacefully for a meal, is vast.
Despite not having much of an appetite, it's relaxing to just sit and soak in the monotony of a thousand years of idle chatter. I let the conversations blur around me as white noise as I work on recalling any information that I can remember the Prophet printing on the Black Crows. It's not as good as the Ministry records surely are, but I can't just go strolling in there and scouring them for data. Well, I probably could, but it's not a good idea. This is also a good exercise to try and spot any patterns in the operations that are sloppy enough to be in the national paper.
It's never front page news, and I only remember a couple of instances when there was any photographs along with the articles, which were only unimportant ones quickly snapped of the Aurors to add substance. I suspect that somewhere in the editing process, somebody is having a large sum of gold going into their pocket to keep this out of the news. Today's paper will probably be different from the previous ones because this was a very high profile crime. They've shown their strength in a way that has previously been hidden, which means that they are either very desperate, arrogant, well-paid, or a combination of the three. One of the biggest mentions the Crows have had was when the Ministry revealed that the World Cup terrorists had been affiliated with the Crows, only after long weeks of waiting. Bolder and bolder, they get.
I let out a frustrated sigh, turning the Elder Wand in my fingers, reviewing the nigh-impenetrable wards of the "Crow's Nest", as I've taken to calling it now. The wand is powerful, making it more capable of a task like dismantling wards like this, but the problem is that the very same wand was used in their creation. It's not an even balance, either – In fact, it's more weighted in their favour, than mine. It was a complex task for Belladonna to do alone, using branches of dark magic to further strengthen the sections used to hide the building. It's the most complex set of wards I've ever seen, eclipsing Azkaban easily. Hogwarts may beat them out in sheer strength, but Hogwarts' protections need to be flexible to allow so many different people, and means of transport, to operate safely within. Registering each student to the wards would be impractical, but for a place like the Crow's Nest, it's a necessity for security, and adds an additional layer of protection.
Brute force is an option to me, as I can locate where the Crow's Nest actually is, whereas the Auror Office doesn't know it's exact location, but the magical backlash of this method would probably alert half of London that something was amiss, and exploding, so I can't exactly do it without the revealing the existence of magic to the common folk. If there were any of the Cornwald family left, I could use blood magic to greatly assist, but the last Cornwald I saw was in Hogwarts about fifty years ago.
Frustrated, I leave the table and head down to the Chamber of Secrets to continue my experiment.
"Focus, Harry. The three D's."
Strangely enough, Tonks' instructions don't help, even after repeating them for the sixth time. She apparates beside me again.
"Try and imagine throwing yourself to where you're trying to go? Like you intend to… leap there." She bobs up and down.
After I'd sent a post owl off to Fudge asking to make an exception for underage magic laws, for my safety, Tonks and I went for a walk, which then led to side-along apparating off into the Scottish highlands to try and teach me. We ended up in a shallow valley, neatly protected from the wind.
I try again, really try, but fail to achieve anything more than turning half a step to my left. Now I can see Tonks' unimpressed, and somewhat disappointed, face. Not a set of emotions most people want to see in their girlfriend.
"Everyone makes this look so much easier." I say glumly, dropping down to sit on a patch of grass. "Jumping around the country arm-in-arm with Albus has made me take this for granted."
"You just need to engage it once, then work on it from there." She tries to encourage me. "You have to focus, but don't force it. Ignore that you've gotten it wrong a bunch of times, like really? Who doesn't-"
"-get it after, what? Eighteen tries? You have to fall into it, then just land." I drop my head into my hands. I'm glad she went into Auror work, and not teaching.
"Maybe we can give up for today?" I suggest hopefully. "I can always just make a portkey when I need to travel."
"Lalalala!" She clasps her hands over her ears. "Can't hear you breaking the law! Lalalala!" She disapparates and pops onto a nearby boulder. I scoff, climbing back to my feet, brushing my hands on my jeans. She's dangling her legs over the edge of the large rock, looking down at me expectantly. I close my eyes and focus, picturing a flower not far from me as my target. I slowly exhale and- "Would it help you be motivated if I flashed you?" Well, there goes the focus.
It took the better part of three hours, but I eventually managed to apparate onto that wretched boulder. Another few hours of practice before I really got the hang of it, and another letter to Fudge before getting a response… from his secretary. She said that the Ministry cannot waive such laws for students that haven't completed their OWLs, and to stop sending letters. I made a point to start sending more, and Albus decided to join in the game of doing so too. We had talked about writing to the Daily Prophet, but pissing off the leader of the country, magical side at least, probably isn't a wise move when he's the one that decides in the end.
The bloody owl she used to send the letter knocked ink over Draco's potions homework too. He demanded to have mine to copy into his own writing. I'd tried to reason with him that Snape wouldn't accept it, so he said to burn my copy. Hermione, quite helpfully, agreed, stating that "copying" Draco's, in Snape's eyes, would lose more points than not turning it in at all. Instead of following their plan, I came up with a much more convoluted one, which involves Draco telling Snape that I copied his work, so that Slytherin gets more house points for bringing my cheating to Snape's attention. Despite Draco's protests, Hermione shot that plan down too.
I restarted the whole assignment from scratch after giving Draco mine.
Wand weighing. Weighing of the wands. Wands being weighed.
The ceremony of weighing the champions' wands goes back as far as written accounts of the tournament go. In order to ensure that each of the school's champions, or two in our case, have a working wand, an outside party, today in the form of Garrick Ollivander, inspects the wands for blemishes and that no other wandlore-esque issues would prevent it's utilisation in the various environments brought about by the tournament.
Through careful inspection of the rules, we, that is to say that Hermione and I, decided that I should only need to present a single wand to pass the inspection, and that I could keep my spare wand in reserve. I kept the fact that I will be predominantly utilising the, so called, most powerful wand in existence, as my primary during the tasks. Of course, I present my original wand to Ollivander, as there is no way I would willingly hand over the Elder Wand to anybody, especially a wand maker.
As the champions, and respective headmasters, gather to one side of the great hall, barring Cedric, Garrick accepts my wand from me. I tune out of Cedric's interview with Rita Skeeter to focus on the white haired man sitting opposite me around the table set up for a small number of tools.
"Ah, yes." The old wandmaker smiles fondly as his eyes flutter slightly as he gently holds the wand in his fingers. "One of my slightly more recent pieces of work. A particularly old holly tree was generous enough to shed the sample, and the magnificent phoenix to donate the core." He turns the wand and brings it up to eye level, looking down the length towards me. "A few dinks and bruises along the way, but in marvelous shape, for the most part." His bushy eyebrows knit together slight and he reaches for a small loupe attached the lapel of his waistcoat, a particularly nice green cashmere piece. He hones in very quickly on the place where that oaf Lestrange snapped it during the summer. "I hear tell that you mean to put me out of business, Mister Potter." I groan quietly.
"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that my secrets get out. Talking to a bookshop owner about my career aspects and not expecting them to end up in the Prophet was stupid of me, really." I grumble.
"Talks of wandlore have a funny way of grabbing attention." He smiles at me over his glasses as he lets the loupe drop, apparently having no comment on the lack of break in the wood.
"As fascinating as it is, I don't think it will become a profession of mine. I might delve into the art when I come across things when I travel, but I don't think Ollivanders has anything to fear from me." I joke. Garrick leans back and points my wand up into the air and a hot blast of fire twists up towards the ceiling, followed by a flash of light from the camera in the room.
"Bravo!" Ludo Bagman claps excitedly as he leads the others back over to us. "I take it everything is in working order?" My turn was last out of the four of us, as I'm kind of the "fake champion". Well, I definitely am the fake one.
"Absolutely." Garrick turns the wand back to me. "It's always a pleasure to see my wands being cared for." He gives Bagman a look.
"Ah, well – Yes, ah." The man grimaces and scratches his head sheepishly. "I never took another up on a broom with me."
"Of course." Garrick doesn't look particularly believing. A flick of his wand causes his tools to hop across the table and back into the workbelt around his waist. "Hopefully no breakages will occur during this coming year. Now, I must be getting back – I believe I have a new project to start on..." He trails the sentence off as Albus presents him with a slim, dark wooden case, about a foot long. The group shuffles out of the hall as tables start flying back into place, in preparation for dinner.
"We can't tempt you to stay for a meal, It has been many years." Albus smiles genially at his former student, long before his days as headmaster however. The wandmaker seems to be ignoring everyone as we walk, opting to hold the case up to his ear instead, looking very intent. Albus mentioned to me that he only agreed to be here after being "bribed" by a small gift. I now wonder exactly what Albus had to bribe Fawkes with for this.
The thought is abruptly cut off by screaming from outside.
My wand is barely back in it's holster before I'm on all fours, running as fast as my paws will carry me. The intense cold seeping into the castle already gives away the problem. Once on two legs again, my wand is out and my patronus forms beside me as I run further into the courtyard. A few students are cowering behind the castle's masonry, the tougher of them look to have tried to run back into the castle, but are now curled up on the floor near me.
One dementor just above the, now frozen, fountain immediately scampers back into the sky as the bright blue, gaseous form of Scar pounces on it. I clear the dead flowerbed in a jump and turn to see the second dementor in one of the covered areas. Below it lays the one thing that could break my control.
Looking to have initially interposed herself over Ginny, Hermione is curled up in a ball beside the redhead. The dementor leaning ever closer. It's head suddenly jerks around to face me.
When did I get so close?
It claws at my arm, only now do I register that my hand is wrapped around it's skeletal throat. I drag the cloaked monster away from the girls, Scar bursts through the wall to sit beside them.
My hand glows the with blue mist of the patronus charm as the dementor tugs and pulls with all it's might to pull free from my grip. It's partner dives at me and a blurred stream forms from it's mouth as it attempts to feast.
"Harry!" Albus' voice registers in my ears enough for me to glance over and see that he has the students safely back in the castle. "Come!" I ignore the instruction.
Scar reappears at my side and latches his jaws around the second dementor's arm, playing a tugging match with it to hold the creature in place. Releasing the one that attacked Hermione leaves me hand free to form the Elder Wand in my hand. Five stone pillars grow in a circle around the two cloaked figures and from those sprout thick black chains, lashing out to ensnare the soul-eating monsters. A bastardised form of the bindings Ekrizdis used to trap the original dementors on this plane, the spell continues to pull more chains into existence to create a net.
Scar vanishes, leaving my holly wand free to modify the stone pillars to create a copy of the binding circle Zaldimar created to trap the pixies. If it could hold Peeves, uh - "Peeveross Nog'Throll, Descendant of Chaos" then it can keep these two in place. Once the binding circle is activated, I drop Ekrizdis' chains and use the Elder Wand to bring forth the Elder patronus. The wand initially resisted this spell, in the very unfortunate situation on the boat outside Azkaban, but now it pulls the much darker blue form of Scar forth. A flick of the holly wand gives form to the lighter parter. They both gnash angrily at the dementors, who screech and try to get as far into the middle of the circle as possible. The castle already has a shield in front of the door, stopping the sounds from getting in.
"CROUCH!" I shout. "I know you did this!" I whip my head around, scanning for any hint of his position. "There isn't a hole deep enough for you to crawl back into this time! You'll wish you'd died in Azkaban by the time I'm done with you!"
Silence. Ignoring the screaming, of course. I whirl round and run back into the castle, keeping a very close eye on everyone.
"Search the grounds. He might still be here." I cut Albus off. Nobody here isn't anyone they shouldn't be. Kakaroff is looking shaken, clutching his arm. Madame Pomfrey is trying to get first years to accept the chocolate. Moody's eye is spinning rapidly in his skull. I almost wish Crouch has polyjuiced himself. I spot Ginny sitting down, hugging her knees, against a wall. I drop down beside her and hug her. She's shivering.
"It's ok, Ginny. It's gone." She doesn't say anything. "It's gone, Ginny. It can't hurt you. Tom's gone."
A/N: Been a while. Hope everyone enjoys this, I liked having Harry using some mad stuff from two pretty dark wizards for good. Got a bit intense at the end.
Let me know what you think!