DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN HARRY POTTER.
Cogita Mori (Remember Death)
Book 0: Childhood
Chapter 02 - Bonding
-In the end, Death claims us all!
** Previously **
"Look at me, young Harry." Death said. "I do not like those who escape my grip. Those who go against the natural order of things. Those that violate laws set before the dawn of men himself." The smile that spread across Death's face was terrifying and something much more sinister than Voldemort could even hope to achieve.
"You will live, Harrison James Potter. You. Will. Live!" Death said before vanishing out of sight.
Harry's body drew a sharp breath before lambent green eyes snapped open.
** Now **
"I hate these update meetings." Lily mumbled as she stepped out of the floo, followed shortly by her husband. "Always someone dead or some attack with dozens of causalities. When will it end, James?" Lily shivered.
"I don't know, Lils." James replied, rubbing his hand over her shoulder. "But you heard what Albus said about the prophecy. Voldemort will be vanquished; it is only a matter of time."
"Time…" Lily muttered. "How many people are going to die until then." She sighed. "I'm going to see the kids."
James watched her leave the living the room and ran a hand through his untamable dark hair. He let out a sigh and fell to the couch, his mind going over the contents of the meeting. Lily was right. This war was taking too long.
James was let out of his thoughts when Lily let out a blood curling shriek. James jumped from the couch, nearly hitting his leg on the coffee table before sprinting as fast as he could – out of the living room, up the stairs and into the bed room the twins shared.
He approached the bedroom and the first thing he noticed was the lack of door. He stepped inside to see Lily curled in the corner, holding her babies in her arms while staring the cold corpse lying in the middle of the floor. James stared at the body. Beneath a black hooded cloak lay someone pale, with jet black hair and dark, hollow eyes.
"Bloody hell!" James whispered, looking at Voldemort. He poked the corpse with his foot, hastily pulling it back and watching it like a hawk, as if expecting any movement. When the corpse remained woefully still, James let out a brief sigh of relief and looked towards his still alive kids, crying in their mother's arms.
"Are they hurt?" James asked softly, draping his arms over Lily and the kids and hugging them all.
"I-I don't know." Lily sobbed softly. "Harry seems fine but Katie has a small wound across her right eye."
James sighed in relief, thanking and cursing whoever prophesized Voldemort's conqueror. Cursing for if not for the prophecy, his kids wouldn't be targeted so openly, and thanking that the prophecy was somehow correct. Katie had vanquished Lord Voldemort. "It's going to be alright. He's dead and we are all alive and well. I'm going to call Albus."
"Wait." James stopped at the door's threshold. "T-Take it away." Lily said, eyeing the body with disdain and anger.
James said nothing, flicking his wand and watching Voldemort's body rise. With another flick the body was removed from the door. James stepped into the living and didn't even bother lowering the body with care. He simply stopped the spell and Voldemort's body fell to the floor with a thump sound. One final flick and the body was banished against the corner.
James grabbed a handful of floo powder before throwing at the fireplace. "Albus's Office." James intoned.
"James." Albus's voice echoed from the fireplace. "Have you forgotten something?"
"No. I –" James paused. How did one go about explaining that the greatest dark lord in recent times was lying dead in his living room? "Voldemort came for the twins." James said softly and Albus's face seemed to pale. James didn't get any other word in as Albus appeared in the middle of the room in a flash of fire.
His old and weary eyes scanned the room and immediately landed on the corpse tucked away in the corner. Tom's face may have aged slightly but he still recognized his old student. "Homenum Revelio" Albus whispered and immediately felt four presences in the house. One standing behind him and three more upstairs.
Albus seemed to sigh in relief and felt for the first time in many years a measure of peace. Tom was gone, for now. He turned backwards only to see James staring at Tom's cold corpse.
"Look at it." James whispered. "The most powerful dark lord in recent times. And there he lies."
"However powerful Voldemort may be, he is still human, James." Albus chuckled.
James's face paled. "Is?" He hissed.
"I'm afraid that it is true." Albus replied solemnly. "Voldemort would have taken steps to ensure he would not go down so easily. I am afraid this is not the last time we will see him."
"What am I going to do with that?" James said, pointing to the body.
"I will take care of it, rest assured. Are young Harry and Katie well?" Albus asked, intending to know who the final savior was.
"Yes, they are alright. Come on, Albus." James replied, heading upstairs. But even as he walked, he couldn't help but to keep Voldemort's corpse on the corner of his eyes as if he expected the dark lord to rise any moment.
Albus stepped through the destroyed entrance and into the room. Lily seemed to have calmed her children down and was now fussing over young Katie's wound. "Albus." Lily said, noticing the old wizard in the room. "Thank Merlin you came. This is dark magic. I can't get the wound to seal up. I might need to go to St. Mundo's." Lily said sharply.
Fawkes, who had remained perched in Albus's shoulder during this ordeal, hoped from his master and landed on the floor. He wobbled to young Katie that at the age of two was smaller than the immortal phoenix. Fawkes lowered his head and gently dropped a single tear in Katie's forehead.
The tear slithered downwards, passing over the vertical slash on her left eye and healing the wound. Lily seemed to sigh in relief and patted the bird on the head. "Thank you, Fawkes." Lily smiled and the bird cried softly, before flying back to Albus's shoulder.
"Dark magic is notoriously hard to heal." Albus said, staring at the scar in Katie's eyes. "She will have that scar for the rest of her life."
"A small price to pay for her life." Lily replied bitterly. "Voldemort found us, Albus. How did he manage that?"
"I am afraid the answer is clear, my dear." Albus answered sadly. "While I would not like to believe that young Peter betrayed you, you know that the secret can only be reveled voluntarily by the wizard. It cannot be coerced by force."
"THAT RAT." James snarled. "WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON H-"
"You will do nothing." Lily hissed. "My children are alive and I don't care for petty vendettas right now."
"Indeed." Albus mused, looking at Harry who seemed unusually quiet for a two-year-old. "Did young Harry always have that mark?"
Albus motioned at young Harry's hand. And there, emblazed in the back of his right hand was a pitch-black imprint. It seemed like a simple broken circle at first, but if you looked more carefully, you would notice small details – small scales along the dark lines and fangs on the end. It looked like a snake about to bite its tail.
"Where did you get this, Harry?" Lily said, picking up his hand and softly rubbing the skin of his hand, hoping to be a simple smudge. But however forcefully Lily rubbed the skin, the dark ink moved right alongside it.
"The Ouroboros Mark." Albus mused in thought, peering into the mark more closely. "One of the oldest mystical symbols known to mankind."
"He gave it to me." Harry replied with a soft smile.
"Who gave it to you, Harry?" Albus said, curiosity blossoming behind his eyes. Katie may have vanquished Voldemort and got a scar to prove it, but young Harry seemed to have a mark of his own.
"The man in the black suit." Harry said.
"What man, Harry?" Lily asked, gripping James arm tightly.
Harry seemed to think but was unable to properly answer his question. That was until his eyes landed on Albus's wand, firmly gripped in his hand. "He gave you something too." Harry said, looking at the Elder Wand.
"He gave you that stick." Harry said happily, staring at the Elder Wand, a gift from Death itself.
Albus's blood ran cold and he felt a shiver crawl up his spine. Had the boy really met Death?
** Later that Night **
Lily laid on her bed, her green eyes observing the darkness and seemingly fixed on the wooden ceiling. She rolled to the side and turned her head to the window, looking at the faint light coming from the moon. She turned to face the ceiling again, silently observing the tiny crack that ran over the rough wood and disappeared in the corner.
"This sucks." Lily said to the darkness of the room. She sighed and turned to the opposite side once more, trying to clear her head of the endless train of thoughts. Next to her, James slept peacefully, as if the events that had occurred mere hours ago were long into the past, and long forgotten.
She shook her head and sat up on the bed. She tossed the warm blankets to the side and hopped out of bed. Even through the lack of light she managed to cross the room with practiced ease. As she approached the door, the wooden door opened itself and she walked out the dark bedroom and into the even darker corridors of the house.
She looked backwards to check if she had awakened James but he remained woefully asleep. She shook her head and stepped outside, heading downstairs into the kitchen. She picked a cup and filled with water before drinking it. The freezing water running down her throat felt like a blessing in the middle of the night.
She still couldn't believe it. Peter had sold them out to Voldemort. She shivered at just the mere thought of losing any of her children. What kind of monster would murder a child in cold blood just for some forsaken prophecy? "And to think we suspected Remus." Lily said bitterly, putting the cup down and heading back upstairs.
On the way up, she decided to check on the kids. She stopped at the entrance and sighed at the lack of door. They would fix this in the morning. She was about to turn back when her eyes caught Katie's empty bed. Fear instantly flooded her heart and she was about to scream for James when she looked at Harry's and found her there.
Katie and Harry were sleeping together, cuddled beneath the sheets.
Lily sighed and felt a small smile reach her face. "She should have come to us." Lily jumped, startled by James sudden appearance.
"They survived a horror together." Lily sighed sadly, watching Harry yawn before putting his arm around Katie and pull her closer. They looked so cute together. "It figured they would seek comfort in each other's arms."
"They are twins, Lily dear." James chuckled softly. "Twins are special."
"How so?" Lily murmured, leaning back into his embrace, still watching the sleeping twins.
"What is this?" James grinned, wrapping his arms around her slim frame and murmuring into her ear. "There is something the know it all doesn't know? I'm shocked!"
"Prat!" She smacked him playfully.
"Anyway." James continued. "Twins are special because they are together since the very beginning. Their magic entwines with the other during their development. It doesn't matter if they are fake twins like Harry and Katie. Magical twins will always share a close bond."
Lily hummed at his words and looked back one more time at the twins before moving out. If James was right, then it would ease her worries a little bit. Just a little! A mother never stops worrying, but at least the twins had each other.
** Few months later – Dumbledore's Office **
Unlike the many rooms scattered across Hogwarts's, Dumbledore's office was one of the warmest. There was some kind of energy, an aura if you allow it, that invited you in. It was a large and beautiful circular room located in the Headmaster's tower. The walls were covered with portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses, all of whom were snoozing gently in their frames.
In the corner, a fire burned warm and brightly, bathing in the office in an orange glow. Near the hearth, perched on top of a golden perch, stood a small Fawkes, no doubt having gone through the rebirth cycle a few days ago. The immortal phoenix crowed happily as it basked in the heat coming from the fire place.
Near the window stood Dumbledore, with his hands clasped firmly behind his back he surveyed the snow filled grounds of Hogwarts, and watched the rising sun on the horizon. He looked backwards, glancing at the small clock in the wall. It was nearly time. He had promised the Potters he would join them for Christmas lunch.
"Do you wish to accompany me, Fawkes?" Dumbledore asked, looking at the snoozing bird near the fire. When he got no reply from the immortal bird he simply chuckled. "As you wish."
Dumbledore sat down in his desk and began organizing it. There, on top of the enormous claw footed desk, stood books upon books. Some opened while others remained closed in a nearby pile. These books contained some of the darkest and vilest pieces of magic in the known world. These were the kind of books that would get one arrested for simply possessing a specimen in their collection.
He sighed, closing the old tomes and flicking his wand. The books flew away to the shelves in an instant, neatly rearranging themselves. Dumbledore rubbed his temples and sighed once more. Another night of empty searches. He had yet to isolate the source of Voldemort's immortality. No wizard bragged about conquering Death as Tom did.
He was about to get up when he heard the Gargoyle open and wondered who would come to his office at this hour. It was Christmas's day and the school was pretty much empty. He leaned backwards on the comfortable chair and waited patiently for the person to arrive.
Whoever he was expecting, it certainly wasn't the aged form of his younger brother gruffly shoving the wooden door open. The door hit the stone walls of the castle with a loud bang, awaking Fawkes from his restful sleep. The bird crowed unhappily at the man. "Oh, suck it up chicken!" Aberforth barked at Fawkes, getting a disapproving look from Albus.
"What brings you to Hogwarts, dear brother?" Albus asked, stroking his beard and leaning backwards on his comfortable chair.
"Is it true?" Aberforth asked gruffly, waving his wand and conjuring a simple chair to sit down, facing Albus. "Is Voldemort dead?"
"I take it you've read the paper?" Albus asked rhetorically, getting a glare from his brother. Albus sighed and gathered his thoughts before answering. "Dead? No." He said. "Tom is not one to go down so easily. I believe he is still out there, lurking in the shadows, too weak to do anything for now."
"And he will return eventually?" Aberforth asked, filling in the blanks.
"It is only a matter of time." Albus replied regretfully. "Tom is intelligent, powerful and resourceful. There is no doubt in my mind that he will return."
"And then?" Aberforth asked with a sigh. "Is your savior going to defeat him?"
Albus's blood ran cold at his brother's words. "Savior?" Albus asked, regarding his brother carefully.
"Don't play games with me, Albus." Aberforth's old face twisted into a small arrogant smirk. "I was there when that crazy professor you have running around spilled her prophecy. I was the one that sent your little pet death eater running away with his tail between his legs. I believe that young Severus is starting as the Potions Master here at Hogwarts. You always kept your cards close to the deck."
"What do you want, Aberforth?" Albus's voice was hard and cold. "Certainly you have not come here to mock me."
"Indeed I did not." Aberforth replied honestly and looked at Albus straight in the eyes for the first time this morning. "What would you do to defeat Voldemort? To truly vanquish the dark lord permanently?"
"Anything." Albus answered truthfully.
"Even at the expense of fostering something greater and possibly more dangerous?" Aberforth asked slowly, getting a shiver from the headmaster.
"Dear Merlin, Aberforth. Who could possibly be more dangerous than Tom? He is regarded as the most powerful and dangerous dark lord of all time." Albus whispered, looking at Aberforth with akin to disbelief.
Aberforth snorted. "Grindelwald." Aberforth spat the name. "was the most powerful dark lord in history until Voldemort came around."
"True enough." Albus replied, dismissing the look of hatred his brother sent him. "But Tom is very different. He is the most brilliant student that ever graced these halls." Albus replied, looking at his brother carefully.
"Why have you come here, Aberforth?" He asked. "I am sure you wouldn't come here just to talk about dark lords."
Aberforth sighed and began reciting.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
Albus narrowed his eyes as the prophecy regarding Voldemort's vanquisher echoed in his chambers. "I trust I need not tell you that this is to be kept secret, dear brother." Albus said seriously, getting a snort from his brother.
"As if I would ever get involved in your wars. Look at what happened last time." Aberforth snorted and sighed sadly, and for once Albus did not detect any hint of aggression towards him, but merely a sign of acceptance.
"There is been another prophecy."
As soon as those words left Aberforth's mouth, Albus's heart speed up slightly and his entire attention was focused on his brother. "When?" He asked, swallowing drily.
"The same night, mere minutes after you left." Aberforth replied.
"And you waited nearly 3 years to tell me this?" Albus asked in disbelief.
"And why should I have told you about this? I told you countless times that I want nothing to do with dark lords and your quest to rid the world of them."
"Then why?" Albus asked.
"I was never one to believe in prophecies." Aberforth said and Albus nodded in acceptance. "But you should have seen it, Albus." Aberforth's voice was like a whisper. "You should have heard her, Albus. You could feel the truth in her lips, the power behind her words." He shivered. "I didn't sleep for several days. My mind kept going back to that night."
"What did it say?" Albus asked.
"The true dark lord approaches…"
Albus face paled at the very first line. It already spelled trouble.
"Born from shadow and death…Born as the Seventh Month dies…He will have terrible power You Know Who know not…and none can stand against him…for he is one with Death itself…"
"Harry…" Albus's voice was a faint whisper.
"He comes…as both a God of Creation to calm the world…and a Destroyer, to reduce everything into nothing…the true dark lord approaches…"
The room was quiet.
"What happened that night, Albus?" Aberforth asked quietly. "No one can survive the killing curse. Don't come at me with fairy tales about love and that non-sense! Something very dark and very powerful protected the Girl-Who-Lived that fateful night."
"I-" Aberforth had very rarely seen his brother without words. He waited patiently and could only be shocked when Albus's face settled into resignation. "We are doomed."
"The boy, Harry. He is the one, isn't he?" Aberforth asked and Albus merely nodded. "The fated most powerful dark lord to ever live is the brother of the Girl-Who-Lived." Aberforth chuckled drily. "Fate is a fickle bitch who dotes on irony."(1)
"What are you going to do?"
"What can I do?" Albus asked, feeling as if his old age had suddenly taken its toll. "I'm old, Aberforth. I can't deal with another one when I can barely hold my own against Tom."
"Teach him." Aberforth answered instantly, forcing Albus's eyes to snap to his brother in sheer disbelief.
"I'm sorry?" Albus asked, thinking, hoping he'd misheard his brother.
"For once in your life stopped manipulating everyone around you." Aberforth pleaded, his face turning soft all of a sudden. "Just because he will grow up to become a dark lord, it doesn't mean he will be evil. You were always too soft. Maybe this is the kind of leader Wizarding Britain needs. One strong enough where you couldn't be."
"So teach him, Albus. Properly!" Aberforth said with near plea in his voice. "He is different from Tom. Harry Potter is loved by his parents, his godfather, and his sister. Put your trust in him and teach him."
"But…" Albus paused. "What if…" Albus trailed off, looking at his brother.
"If Harry does indeed turn out like Tom then there is nothing you could ever done. Listen to the prophecy. He comes…as both a God of Creation to calm the world…and a Destroyer, to reduce everything into nothing." Aberforth finished, hoping that his brother understood.
"Well…this is one way to ruin one perfect morning." Albus chuckled softly, deep in thought. What other choice did he have? Maybe he should follow his brother's suggestion. If Harry was indeed fated to go down as Tom, then nothing Albus could do would prevent that. But maybe, just maybe, they had a shot at reaching for something greater.
"I will." Albus replied getting a surprise look from Aberforth. "I will help him on his path to greatness. After all, Tom did great things – terrible, yes, but Great."
** Few hours Later – Potter Household **
"Albus." Lily's voice rang through the warm living room, cutting through the laughter. "You came." She said happily, wrapping her arms around the old headmaster.
"I promised I would." Albus replied, hugging her back. His eyes trailed around the room. From James and Sirius goofing around, to Remus and McGonagall chatting nearby calmly, and of course, never forgetting the twins. Young Katherine ran across the room giggling like mad as Harry gave chase.
The sheer look of innocence and happiness in Katie's face was enough to warm his heart. "Come join us." Lily said, taking his hand and nearly dragging the old headmaster with her.
"Is it time to open presents?" Katie asked, looking at her mother with her big, shinning green eyes.
"Alright." Lily caved making Katie squeal in delight. "Come along everyone."
"PRESENTS!" Shouted Katie, James and Sirius at the same time and rushed into Christmas tree in the adjoining room.
"They are still children." McGonagall shook her head in disbelief but couldn't help but to crack a small smile.
"Merlin's Balls!" Sirius shouted, startling everyone.
"Language! There are children in the room." McGonagall scowled, smacking her old student in the back of his head.
"Look at it." Sirius whispered and the transfiguration professor turned her head to the tree and blinked. There, at the foot of the tree, were dozens, if not hundreds, of presents. They were neatly stacked up, covering half way up the tree.
"How is this possible?" Lily asked, holding back her grinning daughter and looking at James in surprise. "Is this a prank?" She asked, narrowing her eyes at her husband.
"No." James whispered, looking equally shocked and approaching the tree. He picked up a random present and read the tag.
To: The Girl-Who-Lived.
From: Freya Atteberry
Thank you for savings us from You-Know-Who.
"Bloody hell!" James whispered, picking up present after present. "There are all addressed to Katie. The Wards!" James said, turning quickly to Dumbledore.
"Are secure." Albus replied quickly, immediately easing his worries. "The Fidelius may be gone but your currents wards would prevent any ill intended mail from coming through. These are all owl posts from the people of Britain to Katie."
"They are all for me?" Katie asked, looking the gigantic pile with glee. The mountain of presents was bigger than her. She giggled and slipped of her mother's arms and ran at the pile of presents.
"It's fine, Lily, I assure you. Let her have her fun." Albus chuckled watching Katie tear the paper wrapping apart and squealing. Albus looked around the room and finally landed on young Harry Potter that was staring at his sister and the big pile of presents with something akin to sadness and maybe even envy.
Fear gripped Albus heart. Was his path already being set in stone? Albus worries were woefully unnecessary because Katie came running to Harry mere seconds later. She grabbed his hand and dragged Harry with her to the tree. "You take that half and I get this one!" Katie said, crossing her arms and showing her best bossy tone, that for a two-year-old simply left the room laughing loudly.
Harry's sad face disappeared instantly and was replaced with one of pure happiness. Albus couldn't help but to chuckle softly as those vibrant green eyes twinkled with happiness. Maybe he didn't need to be so worried about Harry's future after all. Harry had his sister to take care of him.
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(1). From Black Company by Glen Cook.