THE BINDING OF FATES

CHAPTER 44

THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN


"Is it done?" said Lucius Malfoy. He sat comfortably behind the desk in his study. His visitor was of average height, light brown hair, and had terribly plain features. He would fit in anywhere if it weren't for the insane off-centering of his pupils. Barty Crouch Junior closed the door behind him quietly.

"Yes," Barty Crouch Jr. said. "Took a while, but yeah. Shrinking Solution, maximum dosage."

"Let me see," Lucius said, pointing on the desk.

"Watch it. Be very, very, bloody careful..." Crouch opened a plastic tablet case and laid it down on the smooth varnished surface. In it was a singular tablet, half red, half yellow, in a tiny zip bag.

"What is that? An every flavour bean?"

"No. It's called a tablet. Never heard of one?" Crouch asked.

"A muggle term, correct?"

"Correct. Except, instead of medicine, this is a powdered version of highly potent shrinking potion. I finally got the alchemy to work, and without killing the user either. That took a few tries."

"So it really works." Lucius Malfoy inspected the small tablet. "And how are we getting it past Azkaban's Auror screening?"

"George Mulciber I. He turned eighty recently. Word has it that he wants to see his son, Jr. ,before he dies."

"Ah. He was faithful. So we give it to the father. And how is he getting it past them?" Lucius asked.

"No. The Aurors detect intent using a sneakascope. We can't let him on the plan, that's the first thing they ask- you plotting a prison break? So we do it another way," Crouch said with a grin. "Did you know, that the muggles are very good at circumventing prison structure and bypassing guards? There is a complete economy in there, prostitution, racketeering, contraband, gambling, the works."

"Prostitution in a jail? That sounds like something only muggles would do. You've been studying them again..." Lucius said. Thinking about it made Lucius Malfoy shudder. He always thought Barty was a lunatic, and that was before he was tried and sentenced to Azkaban. Until his father Barty Crouch Sr. smuggled him out by substituting his mother instead.

"Sort of. So how did you think my old man came up with the scheme to get me out? You should be thankful. If it weren't for something I remembered, something father told me, about the muggles... We won't have a plan with such a high chance of success! Father is a genius when it comes to thinking outside of the box. I mean, a high ranking ministry official, who swears he is an enemy of our Lord, gives me the slip? If it is one thing I can be sure about, is my old man's loyalty to purity of magic."

Barty Crouch Jr smiled into the mirror on the wall. He grinned widely, checking for plaque or bits of food stuck in between his teeth. Ever since he got out of Azkaban with black, almost rotting teeth, Barty swore that would never happen again.

After healing them with magic, he flossed and brushed his teeth every night, and never missed his monthly muggle dental appointment.

"The plan?" Lucius demanded.

"Do you know how the muggles get things from the outside into their prisons?"

"Many ways, I presume. Bribery?" Lucius said.

"That takes too much time and effort. We capture old Mulciber, knock him out. We stick it up his arse." Crouch demonstrated by shoving his index and middle fingers upwards, clapping his bicep with the other hand in a swift movement.

Lucius flinched.

Crouch continued. "Poison him before he gets on the boat to Azkaban with a timed enema, and Peter picks up the tablet when his shit explodes inside. It'll be in there somewhere." He pointed to the bagged tablet on the table and laughed. It was melodic and feminine.

"Are you serious? Do you believe that he would... bite a shit covered tablet?"

"Yes."

Lucius' eyebrows went up. "Come now. Really?"

Barty Crouch Jr. stopped picking at his teeth. He turned around calmly, right eyebrow raised. "He is a fucking rat. What else would a rat do?"

"Ah," Lucius said, defeated by that logic. "My mistake."

"He delivers the package to our lady and smuggles her out, inside his mouth. The tablet would make her shrink to the size of a... well, have you ever heard of the muggle story Thumbelina?"

"Actually, I have."

"Right. This size." Barty brought his finger and thumb close together. "However, the effects last only ten minutes and is quite painful when it ends. It's like growing all your organs, bones, and every fucking thing from the size of a fetus, into an adult, within twenty seconds. You should hear the screams."

"I am thinking that either Bellatrix will try to kill you if she finds out you did that to her, or fuck you rotten for letting her experience a new type of agony."

"Ten years ago I might have been tempted, old boy," Barty Crouch said. "Now, she's... Bah. I think the dementor has more tits. Can't imagine what her clunge looks like now."

"She was once very beautiful," Lucius lit a pipe. "She's also very powerful."

"Yadda yadda, power, beauty... means nothing when we're hiding like this, like... vermin. We are the strongest. Pure. Yet..." Barty Crouch raised his arms in frustration. "It's taking too long, much too long to mix. Two whole fucking years!"

"Patience," Lucius Malfoy said. "The Rudimentary potion must be allowed to brew. Lord Voldemort has suffered years of agony. He has been uncharacteristically patient. We must be as well."

"Ach, he's still in the Forbidden forest, yeah?" Crouch said.

"Yes. As a phantom. Feeding on the unicorn he has marked."

Both men looked defeated for a moment.

"Our lord, brought low to be a fucking parasite! Fucking Q-Q-Q-Quirrel and his st-st-st-st stutter was the worst choice possible. He could have picked someone more competent. Someone like Snape. Or even you," Barty said.

Lucius raised his eyebrow at Barty Crouch. "I was designated the responsibility of purifying the families, reclaiming magical strongholds. Any host would quickly age and die within a few years. Do you wish me dead, Barty?"

"Of course not, old chap." He frowned comically and put his hand to his heart, hurt.

Barty poured two tumblers of scotch from Lucius' cabinet. He made a meal of turning his back to Lucius. He smiled at Lucius over his shoulder, hands hidden from sight. With a flourish he turned on his heel, two drinks in his hand. He put one in front of Lucius Malfoy. "A good year."

Lucius sneered. Barty pushed forward the tumbler, a manic gleam to his eyes. Lucius hesitated, then took it, bringing it to his lips.

"Ah-ah!" Barty Crouch grabbed it from his hand just before Lucius drank it. "I changed my mind!" He shoved his own tumbler towards Lucius. "So sorry. Take this one."

Lucius put down the exchanged glass. He studied Barty with calculating intensity. His hand dipped under the table where his spare wand was hidden away.

Did this man just try to poison him in his own home with his own alcohol?

"No?" Barty said. He grabbed Lucius' offered drink, swallowed it down, then took the other, and swallowed that down too. He let out a satisfying sound when it burned down his chest. He picked up the bottle of liquor and looked at the label. "I take that back. A great year."

Lucius scoffed. Barty really was crazy.

"Relax," Barty clapped Lucius on his shoulder and squeezed his fingers into the meat. "You are so tense! Can't do this without you, old chap. The Dark Lord is depending on us."


The end of the school year was approaching. School examinations, the final round of Quidditch matches, and the much hyped dueling finals were just around the corner.

Jon and Alexandria were enjoying a short walk through the flower garden on a balmy June evening. This place reminded him of Sansa's favourite pasture south of Winterfell. Alexandria's hand was tucked in by his elbow. Jon had both hands stuck in his pants pockets.

"Out with it," Alexandria said after a short while. She knew Jon was troubled. She was finally going to find out why.

"Alexandria, I need your help."

"Help?" Alexandria said. Jon asking for assistance was a rare occurence. "Are you sick?"

"No. You have taken very good care of me every time I was injured. You are very much appreciated, Alexandria," Jon said. Alexandria thought those words would have been perfect except that Jon delivered them with his usual flat tone. It was hard to get the Lord Commander to open up sometimes. This was a rare event.

"So, what do you need, mon amour?" She snuggled closer to his arm and rested her head on his shoulder. Both Jon and Harry were growing at ridiculous rates. She was 5'5 when she arrived at Hogwarts. Jon was her height when they met then shot up to 5'8. Harry had sprung up since last summer; from 5'1 to 5'6 and put on almost thirty pounds as well. She was monitoring their health every month with a routine checkup.

"Tonks," Jon said.

Tonks? That totally ruined the mood. She was somewhere on the continent!

"Why?" she said.

"I need her for sparring. Harry is going to wipe the floor with me," Jon said dejectedly.

"You can't be serious."

"My only chance would be the Aegis," Jon explained. "And that is not allowed. It is a magical duel, Alexandria. He knows my moves. And I sort of know his- but he keeps pulling magic out of his arse, almost at will. I need to practice against a warrior of magic."

"And how am I to get her?" Alexandria asked.

"Please ask your man, Monsieur Valmont, to contact her. She is in France, somewhere."

"Jon, I think you can post a message to the Auror department in London. They can forward your correspondence, non?"

"I do not know. I am still learning how things are done. Can you do this for me?"

"Sure," Alexandria said. "Why did you not ask me to practice?" she folded her arms and huffed.

"Mistress Tonks has a similar style to Harry. She's fast, agile, and casts instinctively. Also, she improvises, a very good all around combatant. I cannot, in good faith, cast seriously against you."

"She is? I guess she is, but she isn't anywhere close to Harry's level," she touched her finger on her lip, remembering the last time. "You fear the chain binding spell."

"Yes. It cannot be blocked, nor countered. It can be eluded, or destroyed, but the timing... it must be perfect." Jon stopped, looking down the pathway between the rose bushes. He was silent for a while. "There is a reason why the Ministry does not allow certain spells to be circulated in the Libraries. It is a high level transfiguration, with real physical chains. Apart from my Fire Spell, Sleeping Spell, and Aegis, that chain binding is the most powerful spell I can perform. I believe Harry has a counter. I must find another trainer."

"I will try to contact her for you. But, if she is working and cannot make it?"

"You will think of something to persuade her, my sweet heart," Jon kissed her gently.

Sweet heart? Did Jon just call her a pet name?

Alexandria put her arm back in his. Jon had a habit of kissing her when she least expected it. It calmed her, and made her happy at the same time. "D'accord."


"Garrick sends this, Dragonslayer." Valerian finally found Harry in the Room of Requirement. "Sanguini has finished our new armor!"

Harry was working on his striking at the Gallows of Bliss, the seven heavy, malformed sacks of leather that hung from a wooden frame.

"Hey Val," Harry breathed when he finished his three punch and round kick combination. Months ago he gave in to Jon's subtle hints to begin a striking program for him. He had graduated from wearing large, heavily padded boxing gloves to only the linen wrist and knuckle wraps. The leather bags' difficulty and weight started from the left, which was called the Nursing Teat, and increased in difficulty towards the fourth, which was designated the title of Virgin Wench, and the final seventh sack to the far right, which was known as the Gates of Heaven.

The Gates of Heaven was aptly named, for if a ranger could complete the required two hundred heavy strikes within one hundred seconds, he might drop dead from exhaustion and be greeted by the Warrior himself; the God who represented Strength and Courage in battle.

Harry grabbed hold of the Virgin Wench, stopping it from swinging and taking a few seconds to catch his breath. He was dressed solely in running shorts, with wraps around his feet and fists. He was sweating profusely.

Despite Valerian and Harry being a couple, she had only seen him shirtless a few times, and that was when he was sick and hospitalized. And maybe a couple times over the Valentine's week break. Valerian sneaked a couple peeks after he exited the bath and walked down the hall.

Harry was lean, with defined abdominal muscles. He looked much older than he was supposed to. His chest was finally coming in a bit as well.

"Hey yourself," Valerian said appreciatively. "You've been working out alone?"

"Yeah. Jon and I decided to train separately, for now."

"Makes sense," Valerian approached him. "You've never invited me to train with you," she said, slightly hurt.

"Um," Harry blushed. Truth be told, this was sort of Jon and his Man Cave. "Well..."

"I understand. Oh- a pull up bar!" Valerian put down the packages and came across to the horizontal frame. "Haven't done this in a while..." She abruptly pulled off her short sleeved VVS hoodie. Underneath that she had on one of her well worn, and slightly threadbare long sleeved military sweaters. Harry couldn't take his eyes off her. Without the Russian hoodie covering the sweater, nothing was left to the imagination. "Want to join me?" Valerian invited, jumping up and grabbing the bar.

"Sure," Harry said. He walked underneath the horizontal bar and jumped up to take hold next to her.

Valerian pulled her self up in a smooth motion, then muscled up and pushed herself up above the bar. Then, amazingly, she slowly raised her legs into a handstand.

Harry's mouth dropped. Valerian was a gymnast-level athlete!

She swung down and let go, dropping on her feet. "Haven't done that in a long time!"

"When, how...?" Harry was still hanging like a retarded monkey. He let go.

"The Russians pride themselves on training young talent into world class gymnasts. I was part of the military athletic program during my years in training. I learned some basics, and a few bar drills. I'm good at tumbling, and the pommel horse."

"Tumbling... as in flips and stuff?"

"Yes. Do you want to see?"

"Yeah.. of course!" Harry said. He changed the interior of the room of requirement into a tumbling lane with padded mats, exactly how he saw it on the television. "This is alright, then?"

Valerian was amazed at the magic in this room. "It can turn to anything you want?"

"Pretty much, once it's not like... human, or alive."

"This room is incredible! Don't laugh, I haven't done this in almost three years... well... in front of anyone." Valerian stretched a bit, then ran down the lane. Throwing her hands in the air, she cartwheeled. The cartwheel converted into three flips and finished with a full somersault. She stumbled a bit on landing, but recovered, then spun on a heel and posed, arms elegantly outstretched.

Harry was entranced. "That was wicked."

"Thank you," she bowed towards the judge.

"Wish I could do that," Harry said.

"You're definitely strong enough. You might have to work on flexibility and balance." She came close to him and squeezed his shoulder. His skin was warm and slick. "I'm still amazed... you have improved even more these past few months."

"Yeah, feels good to be... capable and strong. I was pretty scrawny before." Harry grabbed his workout towel.

"From what I've been overhearing, you're completely different from last year. And it's not just your height, many are noticing your change in maturity."

"I can't do anything about that," Harry said. "Once I don't goof up and speak like an adult too much, I'm like, well...whatever."

"I gave Jon and Alexandria their packages... lets see ours."

They opened the brown wrapping and the boxes underneath. Harry and Valerian opened the scrolls tied with a ribbon.

To the Crow's Vambrace.

Your new armour is a combination of Diablo, Threstral, Onyx, Elven Batwing and Basilisk hide. It is the longest research and development project I have set upon since my first Onyx gloves all those centuries ago.

I have listened to your concerns, Valerian Goldstein. The difficulty in putting on and removing the heavy plate was a glaring mistake in your design. This armour is discreet, and easily engaged and disengaged. The glove must be the first thing on your body. Put on other garments as per normal afterwards. It temporarily displaces your outerwear to the In-between when used. When you don't need it, the dormant glove shall disappear from view.

Harry Potter, you have defeated my previous armour quite easily by casting the Phoenix magic. I am honored a wizard has found the Onyx Armor's weakness so quickly. In countering this flaw, I was inspired to be better, more thorough and more ingenious than ever.

This new technique, meshing various magical creatures' strong points, is the first of its type. I thank you. This has been my greatest challenge, and my best work to date.

Sanguini

Warning: Activating the armor totally negates healing spells and other self boosting magics until deactivated. Submersion in water negates the magical protection for a very short period of time.

The only thing in the wrapped packaging was one side of Onyx 'finger cut out' gloves. The inner lining was a vivid, bright green. Sanguini left a circular indention for their Clan communication badges to be attached at the wrist.

"Must be put on first before other clothes... I thought he was perverted before, but this?!" Valerian jokingly put the glove in front of her personal area. "A bit small." She laughed at her own joke.

Harry froze. Penelope had done exactly the same thing with his conjured handkerchief. In his minds eye, an image of both girls overlapped each other within a fraction of a second.

Harry now had a vivid image of Valerian naked, the glove hanging from a thin golden chain draped on her hips; the small black accessory blocking the front of her pelvis.

"You're mentally undressing me, again." Valerian folded her arms, irritated. Harry brought his eyes back up to her face.

"Sorry," he sighed.

"This time it's okay. We are alone. But sometimes... I see you doing it when I enter the room. Especially the great hall and the common room. It bothers me that other people are probably doing it too."

"Maybe you should wear a bra."

"Why? My breasts don't sag," she said. "And they aren't like, double d's or anything. They're fine."

"I know. You don't understand, Val. The kids here aren't soldiers, or Dragon lancers-"

"The three other females in the Dragon Lancer Academy didn't wear bras either," Valerian explained. "I'm totally covered!"

Harry watched her chest. With her skin tight sweater, nothing was left to the imagination, other than probably the colour of her...um..

Admit it Harry. You want to see the colour of her nip-

"You're doing it again," Valerian said.

"Ah, Sorry!" Harry looked away for a bit. Valerian hugged him and intentionally pressed herself against his bare skin. She playfully swished her glove against his face in a light teasing slap.

"You're always apologizing. I have never seen someone with such power so quick to say sorry... and humble; and just ...you." She ran her hand through his long hair. It had grown ridiculously fast. Harry was slowly rubbing his hands over her hips and lower back. Valerian kissed him. "You are so warm..."

Harry was getting very heated and he knew Valerian was aware of it.

"You're going to get me in trouble," Valerian said in his ear when she felt him pressing against her. "I can't wait until school is out."

Warning bells went off in Harry's mind. This was an issue he wasn't one hundred percent sure about. Yes, he was horny all the time. Yes, he had a 'willing' girlfriend, or so she seemed.

But, was he a 'minor', or... was he a teenager of age?

This same issue of age and ... hanky panky... he had with Tonks, was raising its ugly head again. Valerian was older than him, but she would be sixteen shortly after his birthday. So, if going by his 'older self' rationale- he would be nineteen this July, and Valerian would be sixteen afterwards, in August.

Vice versa, if he was going by his 'current' legal and physical self, he would be only fucking thirteen, and then she would be sixteen. It was a complex puzzle. No wonder Jon did not go all the way with Alexandria.

Jon never pretended to be thirteen, even when they first met. He spoke to everyone the way he would as if he was a grown man. Nobody questioned his strange mannerisms or his knightly behavior. Everyone met him like this, and eventually got accustomed to it.

However, Harry was a kid last year. A wee firstie, 'The-Boy-Who-Lived'; whose pathetic hand me down muggle clothes hung like robes on his tiny frame over the weekends.

Harry wondered if Valerian was really hinting at having sex. The way she moved her waist against his when they kissed could be an obvious hint that was exactly what she was thinking.

Or ...maybe not.

Depending on the point of view, this interpretation of her waistline aggression was quite subjective. Using his now vastly superior knowledge about girls on the whole, hinting and pseudo-obvious insinuations could be easily denied on a girlish whim.

Tonks was a great example.

Verbal and physical confirmation was the only way to go.

This moral dilemma of eventually doing 'it' was giving him a headache. He decided he would simply ask her about it.

"Are you talking about...?" Harry held her by her hips and gently thrust against her a few times. She smiled devilishly.

"I... maybe? I don't know. I was actually thinking about the party Alexandria and Jon would be throwing!"

"What party?" asked Harry.

"Your surp-" Valerian had a blonde moment right then and there. Her eyes opened wide and she laughed into her hand, embarrassed. "Oh my gosh, I am getting just like Jon! He blurts out everything!"

Harry laughed. Yeah, sometimes she did that too.

"Wanna try it out?" Harry's eyes twinkled as he held the glove. Valerian froze. She had the sudden urge to slap him.

Was he telling me that he wanted to have sex, right here, right now? In school? Was he crazy?

Her expression had turned angry.

Harry recognized that look. It was the same look Tonks gave him when they were sparring and he told her "He couldn't wait." He was sweaty then too, and probably had a twinkle in his eye. Tonks' expression was identical to the one on Valerian's face; as if she wanted to deck him and knock him the fuck out.

Why was he thinking of Penelope and Tonks? That was the second time within a minute that he was comparing. He didn't like that aspect of himself.

My twinkle and my sweat on their skin. It is the only common factor between Tonks, Penelope, and Valerian. That must be it!

Valerian looked cross.

Deflection level: Godlike! Prerequisite personal influential sway accrual: Complete!

Dumbledore persona: Execute!

Harry changed the Room of requirement into a bath house with a cozy hot water pool. He bent at the waist, breaking eye contact with Val. He began unstrapping the wraps from his ankles and his wrists. He stood up again and gestured at the pool. "It's warm."

Valerian watched him dubiously. She crouched and put her hand in the water. "It is."

"Seems we have to be naked before we put it on," Harry said. His face was as neutral as can be. "Let's follow the instructions, shall we?"

Valerian smiled guiltily. "You are trying. I understand. But..." she wagged her index finger at him in a no-no manner. "It will not be so easy, Dragonslayer."

Harry understood that she was trying to set boundaries. However, he was beginning to believe Tonks when she accused him in an offhanded joke that he was using his 'dark magic' to make her strip.

Tonks may have been right all along.

Valerian was, at this present moment in time, taking off her clothes; even though a few seconds ago he thought she was going to punch him in the face!

Awesome!

Valerian kicked off her shoes and socks. Then she pulled off her tights. Harry glanced down at her perfect legs and simple underwear. It was less revealing than her Onyx Armour, anyway. With a naughty smile she stood up in front of him and took off her comfortable threadbare sweater. Harry only had a fleeting glance of her firm round boobs before she spun and jumped in the small pool. When she resurfaced she had her panties in her hand. She threw it at his face.

Harry deliberately did not dodge. The wet undergarment plastered his face with a stinging smack.

"Oh!" Valerian laughed. "Didn't think I would have connected!"

He grinned and immediately donned it like a swim cap.

"Bonzai!" Harry jumped in, creating a massive splash.

"Harry!" Val screamed as water splashed in her face. Harry attacked her legs under the water like a shark, grabbing a hold of her thigh. She kicked free and screamed playfully as Harry chased her legs underwater.

When he emerged Valerian instantly grabbed the panties off his head and held it protectively against her. "Pervert!"

"At your service," Harry bowed elegantly, just like Jon did when helping one of the fairer sex. However, he didn't rise from the bow, he froze comically, obviously staring at the wavy image of her breasts through the water.

Valerian splashed water into his eyes, squealing. "Stop it." A splashing war ensued.

"Thirst beyond measure, is man's only pleasure," Harry said gallantly, twisting Ravenclaw's watchwords. He threw his running shorts out of the pool. Valerian's eyes followed the wet garment's lob and flinched when it landed with a loud splat. Her whole attitude, her posture, her expression... changed. From playful, to something...

Far more serious. Her face flushed red, and Harry didn't think it was from the warm water.

Valerian backed off slowly, never breaking eye contact with him. She halted her movement. Harry came closer by the same distance. When he was within arms length, she stepped back again, slower this time, inviting him to chase her.

He did, stalking her intently. When her back pressed against the edge of the pool, she smiled. "Come here," she said softly.

Harry closed the distance and kissed her.

They were pressed skin to skin.

She felt amazing in his arms. When she touched him down there he deepened the kiss, with a positive groan in his throat.

For a few seconds they caressed each other as they made out, until she gently put a hand against his chest. "When the time is right," she said simply.

Harry was breathing hard, but he closed his mouth and nodded. He picked up the new glove and put it on. Valerian did the same.

Both of them inspected it. It looked like a motorist's leather glove. The glove covered the meat of the hand, and ended halfway between the knuckles on the fingers.

"Shazam!" He clenched his fist heroically. Nothing.

"Ban-kai!"

"Cobras, Attack!"

"Wonder twins activate?" Harry and Valerian connected with a fist bump. Still nothing.

"No." Valerian was watching the glove carefully. "It needs... a cue."

A few seconds passed. Valerian closed her eyes briefly, and calmed herself. She put herself into a battle ready state. Her face turned impassive, then she uttered their battle cry. "To arms."

Valerian's glove flickered with magic. It expanded from the wrist and gradually covered her skin. When it reached her neck, it stopped just underneath her mouth and followed her jaw line, covering her ears and the back of her neck.

The Valkyrie's winged headpiece and forehead halo manifested on her hair. The clear inner eyelid of the Onyx Dragon slid down from the halo and completely protected her face.

Except for her wet hair, she was totally covered in a tight, black flight suit. In Harry's opinion, Valerian's previous Onyx armour bustier and bikini bottom was skimpy and revealing, but it was far more modest than this. Now she looked like a superhero, with no part of her gorgeous body left to the imagination.

This armour fit her like skin.

"Yes!" Valerian said. "This is far more like it." She climbed out of the pool.

The light bending hide of the Onyx dragon and the intricate interlocking scales of the basilisk were integrated into the design. The way the snake's scales imperceptibly covered each other and the sleekness and shine of the Onyx dragon combined to make a riveting effect.

With her height and build, she could be a leather clad dominatrix.

As if on cue, Valerian immediately picked up her wand and channeled magic through it.

Apparently, the custom Onyx Spinal Cord on Holly wand Harry crafted for her had a weaponized version to it. Her wand transformed into a long black whip.

Harry grinned. "Oh yeah. Sanguini is on a roll."

"No! No!" Valerian screamed as she finally understood. "Why would he spoil it! That perverted fucker!"

Well, she had a point. Sanguini incorporated a highly sexual aspect in that outfit. All she needed was the high heels and garish lipstick and her dominatrix cosplay would be complete.

Harry laughed. Internally, though.

"Um, Val? I made that wand for you," Harry said.

"You! Yes! I know! You two are so... ugh. Boys." Valerian cracked her whip menacingly. "A dragon trainer's whip. Ironic." Valerian scowled at her wand. It reverted into its original wooden form. "At least I don't have to use this!"

Harry laughed aloud this time.

"To arms!" Harry said, channeling magic through his glove.

Harry's glove expanded and covered his entire body, similar to Valerian's, except it wasn't skin tight. It fit well, with aggressive contouring using what appeared to be dragon veins. It reminded him of a more streamlined version of the Onyx armour.

It covered him completely. The headpiece was a bloody ninja mask.

"Come on," Harry grumbled. "A ninja? Is this some kind of joke?"

"It protects your secret identity, so that is good, yeah?"

"But I'm not a ninja."

"I know. You are too flashy for that."

"Jon is more of a ninja than I am."

"That he is," Valerian agreed.

"You think people would laugh at me?"

"When the Lord Dragonslayer casts magic, believe me, no one is laughing. Don't worry about it, it looks good, strong. Dangerous."

"And no cape. I liked the cape!" Harry said.

"If you want you can take mine. Without it my back and butt were way too exposed... I don't need it anymore," Valerian twisted her neck, watching her derrière. "Does this make my butt look big?"

Valerian wasn't a lightweight when it came to her arse, not by any means. The skin tight armour gripped her butt like a hungry lover. The front was tight as well, very, very tight.

"Um... can you even move in that?" Harry gulped. He couldn't take his eyes off of her.

"It feels wonderful, it expands freely... feels very comfortable, actually." She did a ballet high kick with ease.

Harry thought he would have fainted.

"Okay then!" He was so happy she was his girlfriend. The weird psychological/physiological bridge that he needed to cross to decide if he should seal the deal felt like it was getting shorter and shorter by the outfit.

Nightie. Check.

Christmas Carols Dress. Oh Boy. Double Check.

Short School Skirt and no Bra. Damn. Triple Check!

Onyx Armour. Double Triple Check!

Superhero Armor. Checkmate!

It would take an army to stop him crossing that bridge. Sigh. Back to the present, time to test this out.

"Cast something at me," Harry ordered. Valerian cast a banishing spell at him. Harry felt a moderate push, but it didn't floor him or send him flying.

"Let's read this again- ah." Valerian picked up the Vampire's terms and conditions scroll. "It also says here, that 'magical components (created from the same creature) interacting with each other may invoke varying results."

"You have an Onyx wand, and this is Onyx armour, with other stuff mixed in. Or something," Harry said, reading over her shoulder. "Could be Priori Incantentum."

"What?" Valerian asked.

"A magical anomaly when weapons crafted from the same animal clash."

"Okay," Valerian said, lost.

"This is a Phoenix core. Let me cast on you," Harry said, stepping back. "Ready?"

"Yes," Valerian said confidently.

"Depulso!"

The banishing spell floored her. Valerian slid along the slippery tiles. She eventually came to a halt and stood up. "Armor doesn't work?" she said.

"What the? Oh crap. The water." Harry smacked his forehead. "We'll have to test it later." He dried their wet clothes with a laundry charm. "Get dressed, let us find Jon and Lexie, yeah?"

Valerian picked up her dried clothes. While Harry figured out how to cancel the armor, she daydreamed as she watched the pool. Harry had seen her naked, sorta. Memories of their little water play and the scenario that lead up to it ran through her mind. Magic was a hell of a thing.

She liked Harry. Harry liked her. This should be simple, right?

He was her first boyfriend, and things had been great since they destroyed the Basilisk. That was almost four months ago. Harry was definitely more relaxed, opening up more to her and Alexandria, instead of being aloof and only confiding in Jon.

Which made sense, of course, they met a couple weeks before Christmas. But... Harry was different. He was technically an adult, the Nemesis of the Dark Lord. And he was twelve.

A very robust twelve, but...

"Figured it out yet?" she called out. They were still trying to disengage the armor.

"No," Harry said. "Some proper instructions would have been nice."

Sex was the furthest thing from her mind, until a few minutes ago. Harry kept their relationship respectful, but underneath his outer calm, Harry definitely wanted to do all sort of things to her. It was clear as day when he did that twinkle thing with his eyes. An aura of hunger touched her magic.

It felt, invasive somehow. Whatever magic he called upon to accomplish that feat was different, but, a bit forward, coming from him.

And even though she was angry, somehow, someway, she had still taken off her clothes, of her own free will.

Harry was so confusing.

Valerian focused and sent the command Stand down to her magic. The armor released her and quickly retracted into the glove.

"I got it," Valerian said. "Oh crap!"

"Brilliant!" said Harry as he turned towards her. She was crouched down, her arms protecting her naked body.

"Don't look! Blasted... bloody vampire! Give me your robe!"

Harry grinned wickedly and picked up his outer robe and draped it over her. "Here," Harry presented her magically dried clothes. Valerian awkwardly dressed underneath Harry's Hogwarts robe.

"So, how to get out of this?" Harry asked. He had slipped on his shorts over the sleek black armor and took his outer robes from Valerian.

"The glove is sentient, like the Mageslayer itself. It responds to a stern authority. Tell it to stand down, or heel, and it should work."

Harry sent a firm Cut that out and his armor retracted. "Nice," Harry said. The black glove eventually faded from view. He could still feel it in the centre of his palm, like holding a warm smooth marble left in the sun. "It's like... a symbiotic relationship?"

Valerian felt a bit, aggressive with it on. Like a Hungarian horntail on battle alert, ready to spike a rival with its namesake weapon. "It activated the whip. Mine feels a bit sadistic. Does it feel like that for you?"

"The glove feels like a contained dragon in my hand. Breathing fire deep in its lungs," Harry said.

"This is truly a work of art," Valerian said, inspecting her glove. "He is talented, I'll give him that."

"Let's see if the others figured it out," said Harry. They left the room of requirement.

They found Jon and Alexandria in the workshop.

"You got it to work?" Jon said as soon as they walked in the door.

"Yes. There is a trick to it- well a few tricks. You need to put it on while naked. Did you do that?" Valerian said.

"Yes," Alexandria and Jon said in unison.

Valerian raised her eyebrow at Alexandria. Alexandria returned the favour, with a judging look on her face. Both of them shared a hidden non-verbal rapport. Harry and Jon were oblivious to their girls' telepathy.

"Right, the glove is Sentient, sort of like the dragon itself. Look. Crows, on me!" Harry commanded, making a fist in front of his chin.

At once, all four of their armours activated. Jon and Alexandria's regular clothes faded from view.

Jon and Alexandria staggered, shocked. Jon's armor covered his chin and ears, similar to Valerian's. However he had a half mask that covered his nose, leaving his eyes and forehead bare. A cloak manifested, the hood pulled down his back. Jon's armour had three weapon harnesses, one across his back for a greatsword, one at his hip for a short sword, and one across his thigh for a heavy dagger.

"Better. Even better than before," Jon was awestruck at his gear. "And now I can use my peripheral vision."

Alexandria got the full Sanguini treatment. She was wearing a mini-skirted version of Valerian's skin tight outfit, and long knee high boots. Harry noted that there was a nurse-type cut and design to the tight outfit. Her face was exposed, with a medic's insignia stitched into the middle of a nurse hat. Her outfit also had no sleeves, but from the way the light played along her soft, slender arms, Harry knew that any exposed area of skin was covered with the Onyx's invisible eyelid material.

Compared to the rest of them, Harry's outfit felt very plain.

"You look like a 'ninja'. Is that what you called me before?" Jon laughed.

"I know, right! Makes no sense!" Harry raised his arms in defeat.

"Es canon!" Valerian teased Alexandria about her super short skirt. "Bonne a baiser, non?"

"Touche. But I like it," Alexandria said. "We look like heros."

"I look like an idiot," Harry said, only his eyes visible in his combat gear. Ever since the first mission to rescue Richard Rabiot, Jon always had a theme to his armour. It must be easy to move in, and allowing multiple anchoring points for weapons. Harry always thought Jon looked the part of a Ranger. Maybe it was the confident way he carried himself, the way he spoke.

"You don't," Jon said. "I think Sanguini knows what you can do, and had no need for frivolities. You have your wand, and your bracer. From watching you fight, that's all you really need."

"So, Harry needs to activate it for us, or what?" Alexandria asked. "It sort of makes sense. Seeing as he's the leader and the strongest."

"Me?" Harry shook his hands in denial. "No. I'm good against magic. These two are the heavy hitters." Harry pointed at Jon and Valerian. Val and Jon, looked at each other, then Harry, each other again, then broke out in laughter. "What? What's so funny? You should be able to as well, just a call to arms and it comes out."

Alexandria was politely smiling behind her hand. "Oh Harry... sometimes I wonder who is more clueless sometimes, you or Jon."

"Do not sell yourself short," Jon said. "With what you are capable of- even if you told me, I don't know, that you can resurrect the dead or some tall tale like that, I would not be surprised."

Harry and Valerian shared a look. Harry tried to rub the back his hair, but sheepishly put his hand down when he realized that it was totally covered.

"About that..."

"By the gods!" Jon interrupted. "You can do that!?"

"Seems so. But, not like ... anytime I wish. It was a combination of a lot of heavy magical stuff- bonding, timing, fate... death. Scary fucking shit."

"Who?"

"Penelope," Harry admitted.

"No wonder her behavior is so... strange," Jon mused.

"Indeed," Valerian said.

"Anyway," Harry changed the topic, feeling very uncomfortable. "A call to battle, and an order to stand down-that's the idea. Pretty cool. Oh, and don't immerse the armor in water, it stops the magical protection."

"Seems a very unnecessary weak point," Jon said.

"All dragons have a particular weakness. Because of the rarity and danger, the Wizardbane, or Mageslayer; no one, so far, has found its weakness. It is highly unlikely a dragon would be submerged in water. That could be it," Valerian explained.

"The threstral's invisibility is also countered by water," Jon said.

"Werewolves also shun the water," Harry added.

"There is a werewolf component in this armour?" Alexandria asked.

"No, just a trend I am seeing," Harry said. "Anyway. It's almost dinner time. Let's go change."

The four of them made their way to the Gryffindor tower and diverted to the male and female dorms. Harry closed the door and ran the eavesdropping spell.

"Jon. We have to get Ravenclaw's diadem. Now that we have the new protection, we should get it as soon as possible."

"Have you figured out how to destroy it?" Jon asked. "The Purification ritual is out, correct?"

Harry sat down on the edge of his bed. "I've... kinda figured it out. But its fucking dark."

"What?" Jon asked, intrigued.

"A wizard, or witch, needs to activate it. Then we take him out using the killing curse- hopefully before Voldemort gets too strong, and destroy the horcrux with Basilisk venom. The Hallow Blade." Harry was solemn. He stared at his hands.

"You cannot cast curses, correct," Jon said. "A condition, trade, which empowers my newfound magic."

"Correct."

"I see. If it is my duty, I shall do it to the best of my ability," Jon bowed his head slightly.

"That curse is a one way street, Snow. A dark fucking street."

"I have done worse in my life, and have not been corrupted yet. Unlike these peaceful times, a knight eventually will have blood on his hands. I will manage."

"We'll be plotting just like Ellewyn Sare, siccing a horcrux on someone. It's things like this I am deathly afraid of. My eyes can still do the red thing. It's in me, Jon. Snape tried to speed it up with the surgery," he indivated his left eye. "But when Bagshot talked about my mother being... beneath my father, and Snape wanting to impregnate her... man I fucking lost it."

"Shit," Jon said. "That was why the tower felt so... heavy when we found you with Bagshot."

"I pushed it down, Snow. Literally quenched the rage by breaking her with the chain binding."

"You what?!"

"Curses activate the horrible cross. That is what one of the voices told me. Bagshot was pushing my buttons Jon... going on and on about what Snape would do to my mother, and she wasn't taunting either. She was dead serious. The Death Eaters all thought that Voldemort was going to kill me and my dad, and Lily would have been Snape's prize bride, slave, new-blood fetish, I don't know." Harry's voice went very low. "No one fucking talks about my mother like that."

"Alexandria did tell me her snake arms and spine were crushed from Vincula."

"Yeah. She's lucky. I cast the chain binding so fucking hard and felt ... happy. The screaming was like a ... a sedative."

"That can't be good," Jon said. Was Harry truly losing it?

"No it's not. Remember what she said in her first lecture? Any spell can be used as dark magic, if used appropriately. Intentionally wishing to cause her grievous harm, brought out the red. And seeing her scream in pain made me regain control... man, it's all fucked up."

"Therefore, from what you are saying... you think intentionally using the horcrux on someone can be detrimental to us as well," Jon said.

"Basically. We have to think deeper, think... like evil geniuses ...except not evil," Harry said.

"A trap?" Jon proposed. "Leave clues for our enemies to get a hold of these horcruxes, use them, and then put them out of their misery?" Jon said.

"And destroy the vessel after! Damn, that's horrible... but a bloody great idea. It's just who, would be the question."


June turned into July. Harry and Jon secured Ravenclaw's Diadem and locked it with the Diary in one of Sanguini's Onyx crates. Annoyingly, the horcruxes refused any type of fast travel, such as apparition and floo fires. Harry and Jon informed Master Ollivander that they needed to secure it safely away from the school, and suggested a secure vault in the bank.

Master Ollivander sent another Apprentice Workshop leave request to ask Dumbledore for permission to leave the school grounds. That July weekend, the both of them used threstrals to bring the cursed objects to The Light of St Valentine's for safekeeping.

When they arrived at Ollivander's shop, Harry and Jon were surprised to see Garth Ollivander, Garrick's son, running the place.

"Lads, he told me to expect you." Garth was in his early forties, slim build, almost an identical doppelganger of the Master Sage except that he was shorter, and had normal light brown hair. "He has been extraordinarily busy with the Bank. Harry is it? I'm honored to meet you. Garth," he offered his hand to him.

Harry shook it with a smile. "Pleased to meet you."

"Jon mentioned you a few times Old Year's night. So did Valerian."

"They did?" Harry said. He was very morose Old Year's night. Not having Jon around for the few days was unsettling. It made him remember how lonely he was without Ron and Hermione in his previous journey.

In fact, it reminded him, even now, that he had many acquaintances, but not many friends.

"Spoke highly of you. Now that my father has filled me in, this trip to the bank would truly be an honor. Look, I have my camera and everything." Garth had a modern black camera case strapped on his shoulder. "Ready?"

"I suppose," Harry said, a bit confused.

The walk to the Light of St Valentine's Bank was short, with only a bit of small talk interrupting the quiet this Saturday morning. Harry was on alert, toting the Onyx crate on a trolley. Diagon Alley was quiet, but Harry was not taking any chances.

When they arrived at the bank, the security wizard from St. Mungo's, Hank Armstrong, greeted them.

"Mr. Ollivander! We've been expecting you. Ah. So your V.I.P. is Mr. Potter. For some reason I thought you were bringing Roderick Hallow himself!" Mr. Armstrong said.

"Um, no nothing so elaborate," Garth Ollivander said.

"Oh. And young Master Black as well. Your uncle is waiting for you in his office, go on in," Mr. Armstrong escorted them into the main lobby.

Jon and Harry froze.

In the middle of the floor was a massive marble statue. Highly detailed, it depicted a mountain of goblin bodies, with a female and male warrior standing knee deep on top of the pile. The man's arms were stretched out, two wands aiming downwards at the climbers. His hair was billowing behind him, eyebrows creased, targeting enemy hands reaching for his legs. Miracle was carved on his shoulder, wings spread aggressively, his neck outstretched, mouth open and breathing fire.

The woman was wielding a massive blade. Her arm muscles were tensed, both hands wrapped around the hilt, slashing diagonally. A depiction of a severed goblin arm and sword in mid flight protruded from the mountain of bodies. Her Onyx bustier and exposed midriff was lovingly detailed and frighteningly life like. Her left leg was planted defiantly on the crown of a helmeted enemy, showing a smooth expanse of inner thigh. Her expression was serene, alarming in its ability to stand out against the violent and chaotic scene.

The main attraction of the sculpture was the caped wizard 'floating' above it all, legs together, booted toes pointing to the ground. Roderick Hallow's face was tilted slightly upwards, totally covered in the WWG mask. His arms were held straight out to the sides, a wand in each pointing towards the ceiling. The artist crafted the 'floating' statue from a massive stalactite. The part of the stalactite that connected the head to the dome far above was charmed invisible.

The massive forty foot sculpture of Wizards defeating Goblins in the middle of the banking floor was way over the top. Harry sighed. The Wizarding World loved their pomp.

"Ah. We are fortunate to have such a lovely day. It's almost time!" Hank Armstrong said. "At nine o'clock that window aligns with the sun, just so.. it's fantastic! Well thought out bit of geometry, if you ask me! Are you ready for your photo, Mr Ollivander?"

"That I am! Lads, do you terribly mind taking a photo with me? It would be a great souvenir for when I head back home."

Harry and Jon smiled at each other and shrugged. They agreed.

Mr. Ollivander gave Mr. Hank Armstrong his magical camera. Hank stood on a specific spot, waved his wand, and the tile sunk below him like an elevator until only his head and shoulders were above ground level. Jon, Garth and Harry stood up in front of the statue.

"Wait for it," Mr. Armstrong said, checking his timepiece. "It's a cloudless sky- alright!"

The Sun's rays angled in a particular opening, and caught the charmed diamonds used as Roderick Hallow's eyes. The precisely cut gemstones refracted the sunlight into a brilliant light that shone throughout the hall. Hank took the shot at the low angle such that the statue loomed grandiosely behind them.

"Perfect!" Hank said.

He showed them the picture. Jon and Harry stood casually in front of the monolithic sculpture, with a nonchalant expression on their faces. Garth looked ecstatic, a proud grin on his face.

"Thanks, Mr. Armstrong!" Garth shook the security wizard's hand.

"It was finished last week. Brilliant, isn't it?" Hank Armstrong's eyes shone with tears. "Valkyrie, for me, is the best part!"

"Sure she is," Jon teased. Jon offered his fist to Harry. Harry grumbled but connected, halfheartedly. Jon grinned. Harry noted that he was getting better at taking the mick out of him. He would get him back soon. Garth and the two boys made their way to the vault master office.

"Okay, let's secure that trunk!" Garth said.


The following week at Hogwarts, Penelope waited for Harry at the stadium's exit after Quidditch practice.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey, Clearwater," Harry said.

"How was practice?" she asked amicably. She fell into stride alongside him.

"Good. Sorta. Maybe frustrating. McLaggen is going to substitute for me. I didn't contest the one match ban."

They entered the castle. The setting sun shone beautiful rays of light through the stained glass windows of the Trophy Hall.

"It's basically a formality now. Hufflepuff lost both of their matches. Your team basically has it in the bag. Slytherin can't make six hundred points on us," she said. "The Cup's basically yours-" she pointed at the shelf where the Quidditch Cup gleamed in the low afternoon light.

"I know. I still like to play though." Harry paused, watching the wooden plaque with all the years of Cup Champions dating back since the 1900's. Slytherin dominated the rankings. Now was Gryffindor's era. Harry continued along the hall. Penelope walked beside him.

"You didn't do anything really, last game. Except take out the seeker."

"I did what I had to do," Harry said.

"As you usually do," Penelope agreed. "And more, even."

Harry was silent for a time. "What do you want?"

"Exams are coming up. Your Fwooper on Cedar is good enough for coursework, but I need a new wand."

"Ah," Harry said. "Sorry, I should have offered earlier." He did turn her wand to ash during the ritual. And all of his spares too. Only his Phoenix Wand and the Phoenix Bracer survived.

And this ring...

Harry thumbed the ring on his right middle finger.

"Well, I need one. The Ministry is sending its tester to make sure the transfiguration mock exams are good enough for us to continue to final year. Can you?"

"Yes I can," Harry said. He did owe her one. "Meet me after dinner at the workshop. Half eight. We'll discuss it there."

"Thanks," Penelope said, grinning. "Later then."

After dinner, Harry and Jon walked towards the Library. Valerian was under private tutelage under the Gryffindor Head Girl, Claudia Howard, every other evening. Luckily, Valerian kept her almost photographic memory and her lessons went well.

"I'm popping in on Alexandria. She has her shift tonight until ten," Jon said at the entrance to the library.

"Alright." Harry waved him off. He approached the two girls seated at a desk reserved for Seventh years. He waved silently at them. Claudia beckoned him closer.

"Yes, Potter?" she said.

"Can I borrow her for two minutes?"

"Sure," the Head Girl said. "Be quick."

Harry pulled Valerian behind a shelf. "I have to make a wand for Penelope."

"Oh," Valerian said.

"I destroyed her last one."

"Oh," Valerian said again.

"You okay about this?" Harry asked. Valerian folded her arms, thinking. She shot her way out of a military base equipped with surface to air missiles. Harry making a wand for a fellow student was not a major cause for concern.

"I... yes, of course. You are an aspiring wand-smith. You were very professional with me. I trust that you shall do the right thing," she said in a confident tone.

"Just letting you know. It won't be long." Both of them shared a brief peck on the lips. "See ya."

"If I finish first, I will meet you in the common room."

"Cool," he rubbed her arms briefly and hugged her. "Later."

"Bye," she said with a strained smile. Harry left. Valerian sat back down with Claudia Howard.

"You ok?" the older girl asked.

No. I am not.

"Yes. Why shouldn't I be?" Valerian said.

"You've gone all... Russian ice queen princess again thing."

"I have?"

"Yes. Even your accent is a bit more pronounced."

"I didn't realize," Valerian said. "It's alright. Shall we continue?"

While Claudia continued instructing her with review worksheets, Valerian caught herself staring into space. It was nothing to worry about.

"Val? Stay with me here," the older girl said.

"Sorry."

Nothing at all to worry about.


Harry was reading through his apprentice texts and diary on the stained picnic bench. He was doing research in preparation for this new build. There was a gentle knock on the workshop door.

"Come in," Harry said. Harry paused. Even though he knew she was supposed to come, somehow he knew that Penelope was there even before she knocked.

Crap. She's still bonded to me.

"Hi. Thanks," she smiled as she came in. She was covered in the heavy winter Hogwarts cloak, from head to toe. Which was abnormal, seeing that was July.

"Feeling cold, Clearwater?"

"Nah. Just being discreet, that's all."

"Hm," Harry said. "Okay. Come and check these out." Harry showed her a few diagrams of flowers in a text, and laid out on the table were samples of raw woods cut in two feet lengths. Harry was going to enter lecture mode when Penelope strode forward confidently and scanned everything on the table.

"Ah. Flowers." She immediately pointed to the Violet. "This. For the essence, right?" She touched the South American Snakewood sample. "That would do for the wood. And what about the cores?" She eyed the various cauldrons and sealed packages laid out on a section of the picnic bench.

"Wow. Okay. Usually, I am supposed to explain a bit before a client makes choices- but, from experience, instinctive selection might be even better. Magic seeking magic and all that. Under those cauldrons and wrapping are raw core elements. Hover your hand over each one and tell me what you feel."

She placed her hand over exhibit A, a simple black cauldron. She felt nothing. "Not this."

"Ah, so Diablo material is out. Try another."

She placed her hand over exhibit B, which was a package of very expensive Cerebus whiskers. "Feels rabid."

"You like?" Harry asked.

"Nope."

"Then, go ahead. Try another." Harry gestured down the row.

She gave negative responses until the very last two. She paused, then put a hand over each of them. "A core built from these two," she said calmly. "This is what I want."

"Hmm interesting," Harry said. Now he knew why Ollivander was so nutter about his craft. What a witch or wizard picked felt very very informative, especially when the craftsman knew the client well.

"Under the left is Threstral hair, and under the right is Basilisk heartstring," Harry said. He opened the narrow box of threstral hair, and the cauldron of bloody tissue.

"What does it mean?"

"An affinity with Death, and an affinity to the Dark," Harry said. "Sounds like a match," Harry said lightheartedly.

"Pretty much. And the Violet flowers signify Loyalty. Sexually, the colour purple represents frustration. Historically, this darker hue of purple means magic and mystery," she recited easily.

"You know a lot."

"I scored the highest in Herbology and History of magic every year I've been in school," Penelope shrugged.

"Right. So Snakewood, Basilisk heartsting and threstral hair, with Violet essence as polish. Sounds good?"

"You're the expert, Harry," she said softly.

"Yep. Well, not yet, but I get what you mean. Okay. So, to create this wand for you I must take your measurements. It's called the-

"Ritual of Anthroprometry," Penelope said at the exact same time as Harry. Harry frowned, shaking his head.

"You've done your homework, I see."

"What Ravenclaw wouldn't?" Penelope sat down on the bench.

Harry opened Hermione's Arithmancy Anthroprometric Apparatus kit. He took out the measuring tape. "Okay, come with me." Harry escorted her to the measuring pillar. "Kick off your shoes. Stand straight, chin up a bit. Look forward." Penelope followed his instructions. "Five foot five and a half."

Penelope kept her head still but her eyes followed Harry as he made his notes. "You're taller than me. Impossible."

"Yeah," Harry agreed. "I'm full of surprises."

"You were so small last year."

"I know. Without him in my head, I'm getting along much better."

"That's good to hear," she said softly.

"You can step away now. I am going to take your measurements now. I presume that you are wearing something underneath that, right?" Harry said with a warning tone.

"Of course," Penelope said. "Where are you measuring first?"

"Height, arms, spine, waist, hip, bust, hip to floor, inseam, then distance between the eyes," Harry rattled, opening the brand new tape measure. It kept trying to coil upon itself due to its never used stiffness.

Penelope, slipped out of the heavy robe. She was dressed in Harry's white wing wrap underneath. Harry noted that Parvati was right. With her hair growing out, she looked fresh, radiant. A new beginning.

She smiled at him as she extended her arm to the side. "I'm ready."

Harry took the measurements from her collar to the tip of her middle finger, making notes of the elbow length, and the length of her middle finger. "This might tickle. I'm measuring from the base of the skull to the coccyx bone."

"Okay. Careful. I am frightfully ticklish."

"Ready to remove the wrap?" he said in an even tone. Penelope, for once, was on her best behavior.

Penelope freed the wrap. She was naked underneath.

What the fuck.

"A willing specimen makes every ritual stronger," Penelope quoted. "Please continue. I am in your hands."

Harry took a deep breath and got to work. Measuring the inseam of her legs was distracting. Why the fuck would she do this? The phoenix tattoo on her hip was very active, flapping and moving faster with every touch on her skin.

Harry stood up after taking a few calming breaths. He saw her naked already. This was nothing.

"Close your eyes," he ordered. Penelope did so. He measured the distance between them, and at their outer edges. Her face blushed prettily under his gentle touches. With her eyes closed and lips parted, she appeared to be waiting to be kissed.

"Penelope, I'm with Valerian," he said softly when he was finished.

"I know."

"Your wand will be ready by next week," he said. He was very uncomfortable.

"Thank you," she said as she wrapped the white garment around her.

Harry sat down at the bench, his back facing her. Whatever bond thing was going on, it was intense. And this time, it wasn't a mental thing. It was magical, and emotional. He couldn't shut her out.

"What are you doing to me?" Harry said hoarsely.

"Voldemort did a shoddy job, apparently," she said. "This is what a true fealty ritual is supposed to be- loyalty between two individuals, unconditional. A mutual act of support, performing magic through emotion, not wands."

"Is that why you are projecting such ... arse over tit at me?" Harry was watching all the wand making components on the desk, not daring to face her. Her magic was incredible!

"I am sorry. I'm in love. What can I say?" she said. Harry cursed under his breath. She wasn't lying. Katie was wrong about Hermione. Hermione was a simple crush. What Penelope was projecting was the real deal.

"Sorry. Find someone else, Penny. I will make this wand for you, as promised. Nothing more."

"I know that. She's good for you. I wish the both of you the best, Harry," Penelope put a light hand on his shoulder. "Some things are not meant to be, and I've come to terms with that. I have your gift of life. I have the gift of levitation." Penelope's feet left the floor, serenely. In her white wrap and bare feet she looked like an Angel.

Harry's jaw dropped. She did it. She could fly.

"I'm nowhere as fast, or agile as you. But I can fly. The upper years in Ravenclaw know you are Roderick Hallow. Saving our seeker at the match converted the skeptics into believers."

"No wonder those blokes didn't tackle Valerian," Harry muttered, remembering Katie's gossip chat.

"My sister told me about the statue in Gringotts. I mean, St Valentine's. You three look good. The light shining from the eyes in the morning is going to wow the tourists."

"Yeah. The statue is a bit much, don't you think?"

"It cannot compare to the real thing." She ruffled his hair, then let her hand run down tenderly to his jaw. "Later, Chosen one." She kissed him on his cheek. "Thanks again."

Penelope floated towards the door, landed, and left. Harry felt like he just survived an intense battle. His heart was pounding with adrenaline. Whatever loyalty magic or whatever it is that was going on with her, it was strong. So strong.

He would definitely have to keep his distance. He didn't have feelings for her, but whatever magic she was projecting... couldn't be good over the long term.


Auror Felix was a few meters away from a gnarled, almost grey Yew tree at the edge of the cemetery on the southern side of Azkaban's fortress. During the journey by boat across there, Old Man Mulciber was complaining about feeling queasy. He tried to explain to the elderly wizard that everyone felt a bit sick on the way to Azkaban, and it was normal. When they escorted him through the first checkpoint, Old Man Mulciber ran back out the door, and dashed towards the first tree he could see.

"Argh- unnnngh!" Old Man Mulciber was moaning in pain, shitting his guts out behind the tree. His faded robes were hitched under his arms, squatting against the jagged bark of the withered Yew tree. "Merlin, fucking hell!" A machine gun round of feces splattered on the frost covered ground.

Auror Felix flinched with each splattering sound. "Are you truly all right?" Felix asked in his high class accent. His back was turned, wand drawn, trying to offer the old man some privacy. Be an Auror, his father said. Keep the family heritage, he said. And here he was, on Azkaban's grounds, hearing something he had no business hearing.

"No! But it's probably the best fucking shit I've had in probably thirteen years! Ah! My guts! Ohhhh!"

Felix blocked his nose as shitting sounds from the darkest pit of hell assailed his soul. He failed to take heed of the ugly rat spying on Mulciber, waiting patiently.

When a sweat drenched Mulciber finally stood up, Pettigrew dived into the mound of fresh shit. Within seconds he had the tablet bag within his teeth.

"Yah!" Mulciber screamed, seeing his shit moving and squirming. "It's alive!" He hastily used his robes to wipe his browned arse and run behind the Auror.

The grass around the mess rustled and Auror Felix spotted the movement. "It's just a rat," he said. "Nothing to worry about. Except that smell! My word, Mr. Mulciber! What did you eat!"

"Sorry. If you gave me back my wand I could do something about the stains," he cackled raucously. The Auror cast a quick cleaning and purifying charm on Old Man Mulciber. "Thanks for that. Dammit. Fucking rat."

The two men turned and re-entered the fortress gates to complete the visit to Mulciber Jr.

Peter Pettigrew scaled the outer walls of Azkaban prison. He scampered into a drainage hole on the fifth floor. He emerged inside the prison. Dementors did their dementor things, eating the flesh off a corpse hanging from its neck, drifting down the halls, lurking, waiting for near death prisoners to reach out to them; begging for it to end.

Normal, every day dementor things. His animagus form was so complete, so perfect, the bloody things could not detect him at all. Within a minute he slipped into Bellatrix's cell.

The witch was a tangle of dirty black hair and stained prison coveralls. The hair was so long and matted she wrapped it around her feet like socks.

"Bella. Time to go," Peter said, kicking her head. Or where he thought her head was.

"Grarughghe."

"Yes," Pettigrew responded. "I'm getting you out. Do you understand?"

"Blooogughitre."

"I'll take that as a yes. Eat this. It will make you very small. I will carry you out, and from there, away from this fucking hell."

"Uoighgtttiegle?"

"Yes, yes, something to eat."

"Trubbbblinkkkhn."

"No no trouble."

A frail dirt black hand came out from somewhere behind the nest of black hair.

"No, open your mouth. I have to be sure. You only get one chance."

"Xeeegghtpplomn."

"Yes, eat. Open Your MOUTH," Pettigrew opened his own and pointed his finger at it.

Two blackened hands fought for a few seconds at the matted hair, and a pale mouth opened, a dirty, bloodied tongue protruded. Pettigrew opened the shit covered tablet and pressed it deep in her throat. She swallowed the tablet, then grabbed the sticky brown plastic, and licked the filth off of it. She began to tremble from head to toe, then laugh.

A soft, girlish laugh, full of innocence.

Within seconds she shrank to the size of a cockroach. Or should Peter say, a hairball. "In you go." He put his hand low to the ground, and gently used his other fingers to prod her into his palm. He put her on his tongue, then transformed into the rat once more.

Four minutes later, with a weird sensation of something moving within his mouth that he was not supposed to chew on, he arrived at the water's edge. As promised, there was a large barrel sitting on the rocky and pebbly shore. He climbed in the stop cork and spat out the tiny, hairy witch. She was covered in slime.

"Fiallbaynath."

Inside the wooden barrel was ten times the space. Peter Pettigrew transformed into a human to give her an update.

"We'll have to be fast, Bellatrix," he said. "The creatures would be looking for us soon. Your transformation would be painful, I'm afraid. I'm going to give our little boat a push." He transformed and climbed out the tiny cork opening of the barrel. When he was in the open, he noticed Dementors were swarming on the outer ramparts, searching. As fast as he could, he returned to his human form and rolled the barrel into the water. He kept pushing until he was waist deep in the frigid sea, transformed into his rat form, and slipped inside the once again.

Inside the barrel was a bottle of water, a pail, and a few loaves of bread. Pettigrew sealed the top of the barrel and settled in for the tide to take them out.

After a few minutes, the screams began. Bellatrix began to grow in size. Popping sounds punctuated the ever increasing wails.

Pettigrew hunched down, and covered his ears. The figure before him expanded in jerks and lurches, a heap of dirty hair somehow being refilled with tissue, bone and organs.

Over ten minutes Peter sat, fascinated at limbs bending in ways they should not, then suddenly re-orienting themselves into the correct position. A child's favourite doll, being cruelly bent by powerful, invisible hands, spine arching this way and that, waist turning full circle, arms and legs rotating in their sockets at impossible angles.

When it was done, Bellatrix looked... smaller than when she was in the cell. Pettigrew put his ear to her mouth. She was still breathing. He gently shifted her hair away from her face.

"Well, fuck me. Maybe I should try this 'tablet' too," Pettigrew whistled.

The tablet had worked, but now the young face before him was of a teenage version of the renowned dark witch. She was still dirty as hell, but her features underneath the grime were not withered and wrinkled, prematurely aged by her imprisonment under the Dementors' gentle care.

"You alive?" he asked.

"Atht kginfuc truh, ltiarmow." Bellatrix said incomprehensibly.

"Yes. Seemed like it would."

The Prisoner of Azkaban was silent for five minutes, breathing in deeply, slowly.

"Tewra," she raised her hand feebly to the bottle.

Pettigrew poured it into her mouth. She coughed a couple times, then greedily drank it.

"From our calculations, we'll be drifting overnight. Then when the tide takes us out far enough, they would find us, out of range from detection. We're free, Lestrange."

"Black," was the first thing she said that made sense.

Pettigrew moved her hair and watched her body. She seemed to be a young woman. It wasn't just her face. The accelerated growth aspect of the yellow side of the pill either failed to age her back to her proper age, or her innate magic cancelled the torturous transformation somewhere along the way.

"Oh. Well. Maybe with this new development, maybe we could get Potter out of there sooner than later after all. We need his blood. Thicknesse has it all planned. I've completed the fetus birth potion... it should finally steep within a few months. The timing should be enough for Thicknesse and Crouch Sr to organize the Tri Wizard tournament for next year- which would speed things up a bit." Peter Pettigrew stood up, rubbing his hands excitedly. "A fitting play. Let me tell you! We set up a trap to capture Potter; away from Dumbledore's clutches, of course, and then we can complete the Ritual of Rebirth. Barty has sourced Lord Voldemort's father's grave... and enough Iron-casked Nogtail piss for the base of the potion. The time is nearly upon us Bella!"

Pettigrew peeked out the barrel. Azkaban prison was shrinking in the distance. They were getting away.

"It's really happening. We are finally bringing him back to life." He raised both hands gloriously into the air, a figure floating in a barrel in the middle of the north sea.

"THE DARK LORD SHALL RISE AGAIN!" he laughed into the open. He looked down at the hair covered girl. "Bella? Are you listening? Bella?"

She was totally covered with her hair, curled up in the corner of the barrel, fast asleep.


Exams were over. It was the last weekend before the year was dismissed. Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup, beating Hufflepuff by a narrow margin, 180 to 90. The Honey Badgers were scoring at will at the beginning of the game, then Ginny Weasley happened. She caught the snitch when the score was Hufflepuff 90, Gryffindor 30, saving them from what could have been a shock loss.

Jon had rendezvous with Tonks a few times in the Room of Requirement to train.

Tonks had demonstrated a dummy technique, a counter to the chain binding. It was a clockwise pirouette with wand held above the head like a baton gymnast. The move was flashy and took some time getting used to. The counter created an invisible scarecrow in the space where the caster stood, displacing them exactly sixteen inches away from their previous spot.

Jon was grateful for her magical sparring. He was learning quickly. Her style was one of an Auror: stopping, and capturing aggressive wizards. All of the spells she showed Jon had a combination of being both overpowering, yet not malicious enough to cause fatal harm.

The best part of it was the predictive combination that she showed him for counter-attack maneuvers. She even morphed into Harry for a few rounds, and tried to imitate his style of casting.

She was unsuccessful about that bit though. When Harry fought, he wanted to use only one spell.

Unless he was toying with you, of course.

Everybody else in the dueling competition tried to overpower the other with numerous spells. Harry only spared Draco and Hermione from quick elimination. Draco was for show, and from what he saw between Hermione and Harry, Harry was enjoying the synergy he had with his previous best friend. Almost as if he was allowing her to gain experience by dueling him seriously, and in turn, proud of her leaps and bounds.

Just like how Jon felt about Harry's physical progress and his absorption of combat techniques. Jon was proud of Harry. And from feedback after Harry's tutoring, Harry was also proud of both he and Valerian's magical journey.

Now it was time to settle this. The year's finals were to be held on the lake.

Slytherin first year Tridant Vance won his duel against Ravenclaw headcase Luna Lovegood. Now it was the second year's turn. Apparently, the entire school thought this to be the main attraction.

Jon was nervous. Harry was the wizard here. Jon was a newcomer to this magical world.

"You can do it, Jon," Alexandria said. "Counter the levitation, counter the Light, counter the chains. That was the plan. You know him best. You got this!"

"Thank you, Alexandria," Jon said. Support was good. But from years of training, any time someone said "You can do it", usually meant a hopeful positive reinforcement that you needed to be better than your standard to succeed.

Basically, you were heading into a thrashing as the underdog.

"Potter! Black!" came Auror Drinkwater's voice. "It's show time!" Jon looked across to Harry. Harry had his head down, watching the pebbly shore of the lake under his feet. Harry's eyes touched his, and both young combatants nodded at each other. They crossed the rope bridge and squared off behind the painted circle.

Filius Flitwick was the referee for this match. McGonagall requested that Snape be excused from presiding over this match, considering what happened the last time against his Slytherins.

After the count, both boys spun around, but then hesitated, wands at the ready.

They eyed each other, both deciding to counter instead of attack first.

For an entire second, nothing happened. Then both struck.

Jon's silence spell and Harry's banishing charm clashed at the exact centre of the platform. A huge explosion burst forth. Both combatants were thrown back from the magical blast.

The crowd went silent. The two boys struggled to their feet. Flitwick was standing calmly behind a crystalline shield charm.

Jon activated the gravity spell Tonks taught him as a short term counter to the levitation charm. He cast a few mist charms at Harry, to reduce his vision. Harry countered by casting a wind charm that spun the mist into a miniature tornado. Jon decided to rush in, close the distance. Proximity was a factor when it came to casting.

Harry tracked Jon calmly, watching his footwork. He secretly cast a thickening air spell around himself, then attacked with a few stunners and disarming spells. Jon easily blocked it with the bracer on his left arm, not breaking stride as he charged Harry.

Harry pretended to be on the defensive, and cast a shield charm around him. Jon knew he could penetrate the shield charm with a spade counter and dashed in.

Jon slowed down dramatically when he was buffeted by a thick, porous, wall of air. His dash turned into a comical slow-motion run. He was caught!

"Vincula!" Harry grinned as he cast the chain binding spell.

Jon attempted the Scarecrow Pirouette counter, even though he could barely move in this sluggish air belt. Amazingly, the exaggerated slow spin worked perfectly. The chains wrapped around the invisible space-displacement Scarecrow.

Harry frowned. He had never shown Jon that spell. Hell, he didn't even know a counter for the Auror's chain binding spell existed!

Jon's space displacement spell cancelled the thick air spell. Both combatants stood metres apart.

"Well done," Harry said, impressed.

"It's not over yet," Jon said.

"Oh?" Harry cast a banishing spell at him, and Jon countered with a textbook Summoning charm. Apparently, this technique theoretically reflected the banishing spell towards the sender. However, when the spells clashed, Priori Incantentum was the result. The perfect combination of the attack and its counter spell bonded and writhed between them, both Phoenix Core wands emitting a bright, golden conduit of magic.

A searing heat scorched the wooden raft below the fiery rope of magic.

The crowd oohed and aahed at this new display.

Eventually both wands grew too hot and both boys had to sheathe their weapons. The wands glowed hotly with magic.

"Knew it would come down to this," Harry shouted at Jon.

Jon dashed forward.

Harry did the same.

The first exchange was almost drill like in its choreography. A jab, cross and attempt at a shoot was countered by Jon, who slipped to Harry's blind spot. Before Jon could grab him and send him flying, Harry threw himself away with a sloppy roll, out of Jon's reach.

"Rolling on the ground is a waste of time! Too much energy. Dodge!" Jon barked.

"Sorry!" Harry had his hands up again.

Jon lowered his stance, palms open in front of him, a medieval wrestling stance.

"Come!" Jon said.

"You come," Harry countered.

Jon attacked. Harry was instantaneously floored, even though he had blocked the hook. Jon was freakishly strong.

Harry's left forearm was definitely fractured. He should never had tried to block Jon, he should have dodged.

Harry struggled to his feet, cradling his left arm against his stomach. This was bad. He was going to lose.

Jon advanced, sensing prey. He swung with his left with a knock out punch.

Harry waited for the last possible moment, then slipped. Jon continued with the right, which Harry ducked, not even raising his good right arm to block. Jon lost patience and finished the left, right, left combination. Harry surged forward under the haymaker, and sunk his right fist into his solar plexus with a well timed counter uppercut.

"Dart hits bull," Harry barked.

Jon felt all of his air expel out his chest, forcing his body to fold in on itself. Harry shouldered him a bit off balance, stepping to the left as he did so.

Harry performed Tonks' favourite sweeping roundhouse kick to Jon's head. Jon went down, hard.

"And the executioner's swing," Harry breathed after catching his breath.

A ringing noise and dull red vision, accompanied by flashing bright sunlight was Jon's world right now. He put one hand underneath him, trying to force himself to his feet.

Harry didn't hesitate and grabbed Jon's wand from his pocket before he came to.

"Decision! By Knock out. Winner Potter!" Filius declared.

The school was stunned. Gryffindor wasn't sure if to clap or not. Everyone was sort of rooting for the new guy. No one expected Harry to win with his soft, harmless spell-casting. And no one thought he had a chance brawling against Jon 'Defense Against Defense Against the Dark Arts' Black, either.

"My first striking demonstration, eh?" Jon muttered. He was laying flat on his back, trying to get his bearings. His head was still spinning. That was the combination he used against Remus after the transformation. Harry had executed the counter punch perfectly.

"I was always a quick learner."

Jon held up his hand to Harry. Harry grabbed him and hefted him up to his feet. "How's the arm?"

"Broken, probably."

"I did feel something give when I connected. Which is why I closed in." Jon shook his head in regret. Dammit. He was overconfident. He wobbled with each step.

"I've broken this arm like...three times already. I'm accustomed to this, sorta." Harry winced with each step. His heel hurt something fierce too. Jon had a hard head.

When they were back on the lake shore, Jon offered his hand again, this time for a handshake.

"Victory well deserved, Lord Hallow."

The both of them shook hands, grinning.

"Victory well taught, Lord Snow."


TO BE CONTINUED

AN: Thank you for reading.

The story continues with a bit of (Canon) acceleration. It would be a combination of both The Prisoner of Azkaban, and the Goblet Of Fire, with a twist, of course!

Thank you once again for your support. Now that this arc is done, feel free to let me know what you liked, what you didn't and any issues in between.

Until we meet again

The Dark Lord Nedved.