Chapter 1 The Fortress
Thanks to darrelldeam and alix33 for taking a look at it. All mistakes are my own.
This is a challenge fic. I know I'm supposed to be working on This Time The Potters, but I just can't seem to write that story right now. So I came across this challenge and it tickled my muse. Here is the challenge:
I'M GIVING A CHALLENGE!
Name (of challenge): The Fortress
Name of challenger (as in your name): Crazy Aunt Ella
Due date (if applicable): N/A
Pairings/characters: Up to whoever takes up the challenge. (Still undecided if there will be any)
Summary: When the ruins of an ancient fortress are found after centuries being lost many long forgotten secrets are revealed to the Wizarding World.
Like how Muggle borns came to be and why every generation there always seem to be one individual more powerful than anyone else.
Can be set any Era
I don't think I've quite followed the guidelines, but this is where my muse went when I read it. This will be a Powerful Harry story; it just takes a while to get there. There will be cussing in this story, I believe all teens curse, well, maybe not Hermione, but the boys would. Though I have the pairing as Harry/Luna, this is not a romance fic, so it will take a while to get there.
AN: the italic paragraphs are from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I own nothing you recognize.
"So why are you still here?" Harry asked Ron.
"Search me," said Ron.
"Go home then," said Harry.
"Yeah, maybe I will!" shouted Ron, and he took several steps toward Harry, who did not back away. "Didn't you hear what they said about my sister? But you don't give a rat's fart, do you, it's only the Forbidden Forest, Harry I've-Faced-Worse Potter doesn't care what happens to her in here — well, I do, all right, giant spiders and mental stuff —"
"I was only saying — she was with the others, they were with Hagrid —"
"Yeah, I get it, you don't care! And what about the rest of my family, 'the Weasleys don't need another kid injured,' did you hear that?"
"Yeah, I —"
"Not bothered what it meant, though?"
"Ron!" said Hermione, forcing her way between them. "I don't think it means anything new has happened, anything we don't know about; think, Ron, Bill's already scarred, plenty of people must have seen that George has lost an ear by now, and you're supposed to be on your deathbed with spattergroit, I'm sure that's all he meant —"
"Oh, you're sure, are you? Right then, well, I won't bother myself about them. It's all right for you two, isn't it, with your parents safely out of the way —"
"My parents are dead!" Harry bellowed.
"And mine could be going the same way!" yelled Ron.
"Then GO!" roared Harry. "Go back to them, pretend you've got over your spattergroit and Mummy'll be able to feed you up and —"
Ron made a sudden movement: Harry reacted, but before either wand was clear of its owner's pocket, Hermione had raised her own.
"Protego!" she cried, and an invisible shield expanded between her and Harry on the one side and Ron on the other; all of them were forced backward a few steps by the strength of the spell, and Harry and Ron glared from either side of the transparent barrier as though they were seeing each other clearly for the first time. Harry felt a corrosive hatred toward Ron: Something had broken between them.
"Leave the Horcrux," Harry said.
Ron wrenched the chain from over his head and cast the locket into a nearby chair. He turned to Hermione. "What are you doing?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you staying, or what?"
"I …" She looked anguished. "Yes — yes, I'm staying. Ron, we said we'd go with Harry, we said we'd help —"
"I get it. You choose him."
"Ron, no — please — come back, come back!" She was impeded by her own Shield Charm; by the time she had removed it he had already stormed into the night. Harry stood quite still and silent, listening to her sobbing and calling Ron's name amongst the trees. After a few minutes she returned, her sopping hair plastered to her face.
"He's g-g-gone! Disapparated!" She threw herself into a chair, curled up, and started to cry.
Harry felt dazed. He stooped, picked up the Horcrux, and placed it around his own neck. He dragged blankets off Ron's bunk and threw them over Hermione. Then he climbed onto his own bed and stared up at the dark canvas roof, listening to the pounding of the rain.
"We should go too," Harry said in the silence, fingering the necklace. If they stayed here who knew what would happen? Right now, he didn't trust Ron to not give them away. Oh, he knew it wouldn't be on purpose, but Ron said a lot of things in anger and that might lead to them being caught. He was angry at the redhead; this was the second time Ron had left him when he needed him most. He felt bad that he couldn't comfort his true friend, but he was far too emotional right now. Now all he had to do was get her to leave.
"What? Why?" Hermione hiccupped, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Shouldn't we wait to see if he comes back?" She desperately wanted Ron to return. She feared he wouldn't and that made her sad, but she was sticking with Harry no matter what. She knew he needed help to end this war, and she had sworn to stand by him. She glanced longingly at the entrance of the tent, like any minute her redheaded friend would appear, but it stayed empty.
"No, I think, well, I think we need to move on. Perhaps, he'll find us if we go, but right now I'm kinda hoping he doesn't. Look, Hermione, I know you're in love with the git, but I'm very upset with him right now. Oh, I'll probably get over it, but now, no," he said reassuringly at her sad look, and shook his head at the thought.
"Oh, Harry, honestly," she said, still sniffling, "you know how he is. I am sure this will all blow over and you two will be best mates again. You just wait and see." She gave him a watery smile. "But, I don't understand why you think we should leave? Isn't this spot as good as any?" she asked, curling further into the blankets. "We still have so much to research and we should stay here, just in case," she added with another longing look at the entrance.
"No, we need to go elsewhere. That rain is getting worse and I'd rather have walls around me. We can look for a cottage or something and then research some more. Maybe we can hunt and find food," Harry said as he turned to his side so he could watch his best friend think it over. He propped his head on his hand and looked at her tear filled face, once more cursing his so-called best mate.
"Harry," she started, and then stopped when his face went stony.
"Look, Hermione, you are my best friend, and you've always been there for me. You know how he is, blabbing when he's angry. No, we need to go," he tried again. "You're hungry, I'm hungry and we need to fix that. Besides, we can think better if we aren't worried someone is going to find us. Well, not as worried."
Hermione sat up and listened to her friend, what he said made sense. Ron really did have problems keeping a secret, and they really did need to get safer lodging, if just for a little while. Maybe if they randomly Apparated around the forest they'd run into a hunting lodge. That might bring them food or at least the tools to hunt. She silently berated herself for not thinking of stocking supplies, but they had left in hurry. "Alright, we will leave in the morning," she conceded, not wanting to fight anymore tonight. "I don't want to think about it right now," she said as her jaw firmed, but tears were still running down her face. She got up from the chair, laid in her own bed, wrapping Ron's blankets around her like a shield and turned towards the wall of the tent.
They both stayed silent the rest of the night, just listening to the rain on the canvas. Both of their thoughts were in turmoil. This adventure wasn't going like it was supposed to; the clues they were given were shite, they were hunted and had few resources. They were just abandoned—again. Both were losing hope that they could complete this quest. Not only that, but the Horcrux gave off an evil aura that they had to fight every minute of the day. If only they knew how to get rid of the damn thing. It was late in the evening, or early morning, when they went to sleep.
Bright and early the next morning Harry got up, took care of necessities and started packing. Since they had little food, he decided that breakfast wasn't that important.
Hermione disagreed and forced him to eat some crackers. She had spent the whole night thinking and now she was pissed. Oh, she still loved that redheaded fool, but his jealously issues were very grating. "I'm so mad this morning," she said as she roughly put her clothes in her purse. "I can't believe he left us like that, and those accusations, that prat." She gathered up her toiletries and shoved them in as well.
"Well, I'm pretty upset too, so don't look for me to calm you down," Harry said, calmly putting things in his Mokeskin bag. It wasn't a big on the inside as Hermione's purse, but it still held quite a bit.
"Fine," Hermione spat as she started putting her books in her bag.
"Hermione, I was thinking, can we put the necklace in your bag if I put it in my Mokeskin one?" he held up the ugly bag that Hagrid had given him. He didn't know if you could put an expanded bag in an expanded bag, logic says no, but when did magic follow the rules of logic. Besides, the tent was expanded and it went into the purse without issue.
"I don't see why not," she answered. Standing up from her packing, she turned to him and tilted her head to the side in thought. "Why?"
"Well, I think it's one of the reasons Ron left, not the whole reason, but part of it. There's a lot of Dark magic coming off of this and it might be affecting us," Harry said, lifting the necklace in question off his chest.
"Oh?" she asked thoughtfully as she eyed the necklace warily. "Well, give it here and we'll see if your theory is correct," Hermione stated, holding out her hand.
Harry put it in his Mokeskin bag and handed it to his friend, who promptly put it in her purse. The atmosphere immediately was better. Though they were both still pissed at their friend, they weren't as mad. "I think we should go east," the dark-haired teen stated. "I just have a feeling that's the way we should head," he added when he saw her inquisitive look.
"Well, we really don't have a plan, so I guess we can go east. But, Harry, it will be blind Apparating and that might lead to splinching," the curly-haired girl said, worrying her lip. "And we're both emotional right now, are you sure?" she asked, knowing that that could affect this type of transportation. She had thought about it last night, and she came to the conclusion that perhaps blindly Apparating might be a bad thing.
"Yeah, I know it could be dangerous, but I trust you to fix us up if that happens, so you'll just have to trust me to not let it," the dark-haired teen replied as handed her the last of his stuff. He looked around the tent and noted it was ready to be taken down. So he and Hermione went outside, they were glad the storm had stopped. He tapped the tent with his wand, watched it fold and then put it in Hermione's purse.
"Right, so, I'm the one with the weird feeling, so you grab my arm and I'll lead," Harry said, a bit concerned about doing a side-along. He hadn't been Apparating that long. He only hoped they made it in one piece.
"Are you sure about this, Harry?" she said, not taking one step towards his arm. "Not that I'm doubting you, but you've only just learned how to Apparate. Remember how Ron got hurt last time we did this when we were emotional." She hung her head a little at the memory, and then she looked up when Harry put a hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I have a fuzzy sort of picture in my head," the dark-haired teen stated, giving her shoulder a squeeze.
"Okay, I trust you," she replied and pulled further to his side, linked their arms together and waited. Harry turned on his heels and with a crack they were gone.
They reappeared a few seconds later, many miles away. There was another forest around them. "This is where you pictured? How did you know you wouldn't have ended up in any forest or woods?" Hermione huffed as she let go of his arm.
"Well, I also determined the direction, so east," Harry shrugged, just glad neither one of them was hurt.
"Fine," she snapped, still emotional over Ron's departure, "at least we didn't splinch. Look there's a trail, maybe it will lead to shelter." She pointed to a vague trail that might have been left by wildlife.
"Right," Harry said with a nod, content that she didn't start yelling.
So they followed what looked to be an animal trail as quietly as they could, pushing aside the foliage with one hand and wands at the ready in the other. The forest was large, not a tall as the Forest of Dean, but he sun was hidden enough to create a gloomy atmosphere. After walking for ten minutes the rain started. They both cast charms to keep dry and warm, but they only worked so far, soon enough both were damp and grumpy.
"Wait," Harry whispered, grabbing her arm. They had been walking for about twenty minutes and they were both exhausted from lack of sleep and food. "There's a huge shadow up ahead and I feel magic." He squinted through the trees and looked at the large obstruction that seems to go on for miles. He couldn't see clearly what is was, but it looked to be a large wall.
Hermione gave him a strange look. "Since when can you feel magic?"
"Since we started carrying around that damn horcrux, but that's not important right now. What's important is that large barrier up ahead." He pointed to the overbearing shadow that was dwarfing the trees.
"You don't think it's him, do you?" She tightened the grip on her wand and lifted it ever so slightly in readiness.
"I don't know. I don't feel anything in my scar. However, it could be shelter and I, for one, would like to get out of the rain. So, here, give me my Cloak, we'll sneak up on it and check it out." He held out his hand for the object in question and waited.
"Okay," she answered and dug in her purse to get the Cloak. They donned it and slowly made their way to the barrier that had been creating the shadow. It was stone and over thirty feet tall, which created a place to keep the rain off.
"It doesn't feel evil," Harry whispered as they crept around the wall. He felt a repelling ward, but since it wasn't affecting them, he ignored it.
"No, it feels old," she agreed.
They made their way around the fortification, until they came across a gate. The gate was a huge iron thing that was slightly rusty and almost didn't open and when it gave way just enough to squeeze through, it created a tremendous groan. The two froze, but nothing inside the keep moved.
They ventured in a little ways and looked at the huge building inside. It was a giant stone castle with many little houses surrounding it, which were made of stone and thatch. There were small cobblestone streets that led to a bridge, which led to the giant front door. Nothing stirred; it was like a ghost town. You could tell people lived here at one time, but now it was just plain creepy. You could hear the faint calls of animals in the background, which did nothing to lighten the atmosphere.
Harry removed the Cloak, when it became obvious that there were no people here. "Wow, Hermione, this is some castle," he said as he gazed upon the biggest building he had ever seen outside Hogwarts.
"It isn't a just a castle, Harry, it's a fortress," she answered, taking in the way the windows were set up to protect the inhabitants. The metal shutters that had slits in them, as if one could fire spells through and be protected at the same time. She noted the walkway that surrounded the top of the barricade, where guards would patrol and the many towers that had similar windows. This place was designed for war.
"How can you tell?" he tilted his head confused. It looked like a castle to him with its huge doors and many windows; it looked to be over eight stories tall and had many towers on either side of it. There was a small mote around the castle, complete with a bridge, which separated it from all the houses.
"See the joined walls with all the towers surrounding the village? That's one of the major differences." She pointed around the square and sure enough at each corner there was a tall tower, with smaller ones peppered around the barricade.
"Oh, I guess you're right, as always." He smiled at her to take any bite out of his teasing.
"Of course, I am." She smiled back and thumped him in the chest. The two shoved each other playfully for a minute, just glad to lighten the mood.
"Look there's a garden. Think we should get some food and then get out of this rain?" Harry asked, pointing to a patch of vegetation right outside one of the little houses.
"Let's," Hermione agreed and they went to the garden only to find that it was almost depleted. They gathered what few vegetables there were, let the rain wash them and looked around some more.
"Which looks safer; the towers, the houses or the building?" the male teen asked as he munched on some kind of yellow squash.
"I'm not sure how old this place is, and while it looks sturdy, who knows if the structure is sound." She worried her lip and looked around, then decided, "Let's go to the castle, the middle should be safe and dry," the female answered as she nibbled on a piece of lettuce. "We can plan there."
The two of them trudged up the path, over the bridge to the huge wooden double doors that they both had to work together to get one opened. They drew their wands, having put them away just to open the heavy door, and Hermione cast a Lumos. They slowly made their way down a long hallway to one of the rooms in the middle of the fortress.
The hall they went down was old and eerie. The torches weren't lit and the Lumos spell was creating long shadows that made the busts, which lined the walls, look alive. The funny thing was that there was no dust, cobwebs or dirt. The floors had fresh straw on them to ward off the chill and the statues were clean. The tapestries looked new, as did the paintings, which were silent for some reason.
The two teens really didn't pay much mind to what they saw. No, they were more interested in the room down the hall that had light coming from the doorway.
"What do you think it is?" Hermione said, and her whisper carried in the hall.
"I don't know, I don't hear anything, so it is probably a light spell of some sort," Harry answered, then turned back to the bright doorway. "I think it's safe." And he started walking slowly towards the light.
Hermione lifted her wand and followed.
The room that was mostly in the center of the building, was large and empty, like a ballroom, with huge windows spelled to shine like a summer's day. A large crystal, unlit chandelier was hanging from the ceiling and there were gold sconces along the walls, which had gold framed mirror adorning them. The floor was polished wood, so Hermione felt her initial guess was correct.
They made their way to the center of the room and were just about to sit and go over plans, when suddenly tall thin walls burst from the floor surrounding the two teens. Harry tried to blast them away, but they just reformed. Hermione tried to banish them, but they just grew again.
A ghost in very ancient clothing appeared. He was tall, very tall, and robust, like a farmer, though his robes depicted nobility. His light hair hung past his shoulders and he sported a beard that hung to his chest. "There is a curse upon this place. Leave now before you die, especially you, mudblood," it said ominously as it pointed its finger at Hermione.
Harry never understood how people, or well ghost in this case, could tell Hermione was muggle-born, but waved it away as unimportant. He grabbed Hermione's hand and started down the first part of the maze.
This was a short chapter; most will be over 4,000 words. Plus, I've outlined the entire plot, with the help of eha1234, whysosiriusumbridge and Micky-The-Supernatural-Mouse. I have four chapters written at the time of the AN, and will try and work on them every other day. I have 11 other stories that you can read while you wait for update, all but one are complete. I hope you enjoy my new tale.
As always check out my profile, I almost always have a poll going.