Disclaimer: I do not own any recognizable properties found in this work of non-profit fiction. I do not own Harry Potter or any other recognizable properties.
A/N, PLEASE READ: All right brothers and sisters, I'm back! Now, I know I left things hanging pretty badly the last time we met, but I am here to make it right and hopefully deliver you another great story for your enjoyment. With this story I'm going to try to keep the chapters flowing like an episode of a TV show. So, lengths may vary but I'll try to keep them stuffed with action and dialogue as is fitting to that format and the story. I also plan to try to recapture some of the darkness of the early parts of PART ONE and tone down the more fluffy and angsty stuff, from Harry, from the second half. There will still be some fluff here and there but I want to move this story forward and not dwell on it too much.
At the end of each chapter I will make a note of the 'cast' introduced in said chapter by order of appearance, so as to remind people of who each character is.
Now, without further ado, I welcome you to:
THE GOD OF DEATH, PART II:
"...Throw roses into the abyss and speak: 'Here are my thanks to the monster who did not succeed in swallowing me alive'." -Friedrich Nietzsche
"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - Carl Jung
I. Gawain Robards' Bad Day
Gawain Robards was not having a good day, that much alone was a certainty.
It had all started normally enough. He woke up after a night of drinking stout beers and cheap whiskey, accompanied by even cheaper cigarettes, and dragged himself to the shower to wash away the dingy feeling that usually came with such a short but heavy sleep. Following this, he had ventured to the kitchen of his Welsh country house outside of his hometown of Swansea, idly running his fingers over the pictures hanging in the hall, as he always did, and set the kettle to a boil while lighting up another cigarette and taking a long, glorious drag, exhaling with a soft sigh.
When the kettle started to scream he added the tea leaves and let it steep for a few minutes before pouring it into a mug. He added nothing to it, as it already had rosemary mixed in with the tea leaves and that was all he needed.
He had finished his tea, washed the cup and flooed to the Ministry as he always did, arriving a bit later than everyone else, as was his habit, and started making his way through the still-crowded Atrium.
To his right, a fireplace flared and out came a young witch who, rather gracefully, didn't even try to have footing and landed flat on her face.
He paused and shook his head at the clumsy girl. Had it not been for her clothes though, he doubted he would have even recognized her; it also helped though that she worked in the same Department as him.
"You really need to learn to walk, mate," he told the girl in his dry Welsh lilt as he tugged her upright. "Jaysus, Tonks, you look like shit."
Nymphadora Tonks did indeed look terrible. Her hair, usually a bright pink and short or shoulder length and purple, was now long and a sort of black/brown mixture that looked like it had been thought about in regards to a brush but little more than that thought was ever done about it. Needless to say, she looked a mess.
Now, this happened to the girl once a week, so it came as no surprise to Robards to see her this way, but that didn't stop him from worrying. He liked Tonks; she was about the only friend he had left in the Auror Office these days.
It had been worse after that whole Harry Potter fiasco two years ago. The girl had been positively devastated by the sentencing of her friend. Robards himself still felt a bit ill when thinking about it; it was not his finest hour. And that set him apart from the rest of the Auror Office, who were all on the side of Crouch, Scrimgeour and Savage on this one.
Tonks grumbled something rather unflattering under her breath at his comments but straightened up and righted herself. Robards waved his wand at her briefly and her hair became a bit less of a rat's nest, but she barely noticed, trudging on toward the lift without so much as a by-your-leave.
Gawain stuffed his wand away and followed after the young woman, shaking his head.
He stepped into the lift with her and told the attendant to take them to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Level Two.
"So, I take it you went and saw him again this morning?" he asked the downcast Auror at his side. Not that he needed and answer to the question; he already knew.
"Yeah," she answered softly, eyes directed at the floor.
"How is he?"
Tonks shrugged. "Same as usual. Just sits there, staring at the wall, doesn't talk, doesn't even look in my direction. Doesn't recognize me." The last word was spoken with so much sadness that it made Robards frown.
It was no secret in the Office that Tonks had bent a few rules and called in a few favors and gotten herself a pass to Azkaban. She went and visited Harry Potter every week, the same day and time, every time. Thursday, eight in the morning, before work, during the guard shift change. She had done so since the second week of his imprisonment.
Robards felt kind of bad for the girl. She had not been able to let go of her guilt at what had happened. She had been right there in the pit with him and the other Aurors on duty when Harry was sentenced in that farce of a trial. She had been right there and not been able to do anything. He also knew that she had been at the Malfoy Manor when they had stormed the place and taken Harry Potter and Barty Crouch Jr. prisoner. Why she was there he didn't know and no information was to be found on the matter, but he had his theories.
It was the same, yet different with James and Sirius. They had been there too, but Tonks and them did not get along at all now; which was a switch because it used to be that Tonks looked up to her cousin and James, now there was naught but resentment between them. Gawain was a wee bit of a people-watcher when he had nothing to do and there were a lot of interesting things he had noticed about the people he worked with over the years.
The day didn't really seem to get any better or worse as he sat down at his desk and began flipping through the various case files that had found their way to his station since his last time being there the previous night. Nothing special or difficult. Just your run-of-the-mill petty crime and some lady who claimed that there were dark wizards performing a ritual in a cave near her home; something about seeing flashing lights coming from the cave at night. That might be something to look into later. He doubted that there was anything going on but well, this was his job. Whatever it was, he was duty-bound to at least give it a look.
At this point however, was when things decided to change for the worse.
He was idly reading over the statement given by the woman in the file when he heard his name being called.
He looked up from the file to see Savage standing at the corner of his desk, looking down at him with that smile that was so insincere that it was practically mocking.
"What do you want?" Gawain asked, looking back down at the case file in his hand.
"I need you to go to Azkaban," Savage answer in that strange accent of his; was it even English?
Robards glanced back up at the man and felt the urge to punch him in his perfectly groomed head. How the man managed to look so damned impeccable with that long hair and thick beard he had no idea. "Why? That's not my area."
Savage's smile became a smirk and he chuckled softly without opening his mouth. "We've apparently got some dead prisoners. Need you to go and take a look, see what caused it."
Robards scowled. "Not interested, mate."
Savage's smile turned almost feral, finally baring his teeth. "I think you will find it quite interesting when you hear who they are."
"Yeah? Who's that then?"
"Harry Potter and Barty Crouch Jr.," Savage answered in almost a whisper.
Robards' head snapped up so fast he felt and heard his neck crack. "Beg pardon?"
"You heard me," Savage said, still smiling. "Harry Potter and Barty Crouch Jr. are both dead and I need you to go to Azkaban and investigate it. The Dementors are under strict orders not to touch them and they were two perfectly healthy young men, so I need to know what happened. And you are the lucky man who gets to do it. Also, there's no need to inform Mr. Crouch of this. He already knows."
Gawain rubbed his eyes, feeling a headache coming on. This was the last thing he needed.
Savage turned and walked away, but called back over his shoulder as he did, "And take Tonks with you."
Said girl's head snapped up at the sound of her name and looked over a few desks at Savage, then to Robards, who was still trying to stave off a headache.
She stood up from her own desk, tossing aside a case file and hurried over to his desk. She still looked a wreck, but better than earlier. Gawain sighed, knowing that that was all about to change.
"What's going on? Where are we going?" she asked.
Gawain looked up at her and sighed again. "Get your coat, Tonks. We're going to Azkaban."
Tonks frowned and tilted her head. "Why?"
Gawain stood and tossed his own case file back on his desk. "Couple of dead prisoners," he answered her, grabbing his long trench coat off the back of his chair. He reached into the pocket and pulled out his cigarettes, stuffing one between his lips and lighting it with a snap of his fingers. Ministry rules be damned, he needed a smoke and couldn't wait to get outside to do it; besides, he wasn't the only one that did it inside, but the others had fancy offices they could hide in.
"Isn't that a job for the Azkaban guards?" Tonks asked, turning to go get her own coat and tripping over her own feet. Luckily she caught herself on Williamson's desk before she could hit the floor for the second time since entering the building.
Gawain followed after her, taking another drag of his cigarette. "Normally, yes. But these are some high-profile inmates, so Savage is sending us. Probably because he doesn't like us or something." The sarcasm in his voice was palpable.
Tonks pulled on her own long coat, hers black in color and ending just above her knees. It also wasn't as loose-fitting as Gawain's was.
"Who is it?" she asked as they started walking toward the lift.
Gawain held up a finger as he took a drag of his cigarette. "I'll tell you when there are less ears. Don't want this getting out yet."
Tonks nodded, her expression growing worried. Who could have died that was so high profile that they needed to keep it quiet? Her first thoughts were of Harry, but she shook her head. Couldn't be him, she had just seen him that morning and he looked the same as he always did – not good, but not near death either.
They stepped into the lift and Gawain told the attendant to take them to Level Six, using Auror authorization to get them there first rather have to wait for the stops of the others in the lift with them. They got a few dirty looks but Gawain just gave them a two-finger salute and ignored them.
They left the lift and made their way down to the Portkey Office. They were met with the sight of Percy Weasley, the latest Head of Department for Magical Transportation, severely berating some poor girl who looked close to tears. What the dressing down was for was anyone's guess but Tonks was in no mood to even see the loathsome redhead and shouted out to him.
"Oi, Weasley, quite harassing the staff and get your scrawny arse over here. We need a Portkey."
Percy looked at her with a look that could very well result in Tonks' death; or at least could if he had that sort of power, which he didn't, so it was actually quite ineffective.
While he was glaring at Tonks, the girl he had been yelling at took the opportunity to slip away quietly before anyone else noticed her.
"Auror Tonks, I am the Head of the Department for Magical Transportation," Percy reminded them unnecessarily, "and I will not be spoken to like that. If you require a Portkey, then find someone in here to do it for you."
Gawain looked around the room and then back at Percy. "Well, looks like that's you, mate. You're the only one in the room not doing anything, so hows about making yourself useful and getting us a Portkey to Azkaban, yeah?"
Percy face was as red as his hair, which was an impressive feat in Gawain's book as he actually hadn't been aware that that was possible without some skills like Tonks'.
With his long face, Tonks thought it made him look like some sort of strange carrot, if carrots were red anyway.
Tonks idly wondered if she could make him madder and see if he turned purple, more like an eggplant. She didn't like eggplants. Or carrots for that matter.
Finally, without saying anything, Percy turned on his heel and marched through the office. "Johns, get these two Aurors a Portkey!" Gawain flicked the butt of his cigarette at his back, but the younger man didn't even notice at it bounced harmlessly off and landed on the floor.
Percy exited the room via a side door after pawning the job off on someone else.
They were approached by a dark-skinned woman of obvious African descent. She didn't look happy but she smiled at them anyway. "What can I help you with?"
Gawain decided to take point on this one and addressed the girl. "As your useless Head of Department failed to properly inform you, we need a Portkey to Azkaban, with priority."
The woman nodded and motioned for them to follow her.
She led them to a back room where an assortment of a random items were housed on shelves that were arranged much like a library's. She went to a shelf near the back of the room and reached up to the top shelf and pulled down a length of knotted rope. She checked a small tag that was connected to the rope and then brought it back to them.
Gawain took the rope from her and read the tag himself, muttering a short pass-code under his breath, too quiet for either of the girls to hear - though Johns had her own codeword, which she had already used on it. Suddenly the paper was filled with writing telling him that this was a multi-use, two-way portkey and it also told him the activation code.
He nodded in thanks to the woman who smiled and left them to it, returning to her station.
Gawain held out the rope for Tonks to grab onto and drew his wand with the other hand. Tonks wrapped her fingers around the rope and nodded that she was ready. Gawain tapped the Portkey and whispered the code and suddenly they were almost literally ripped out of their current setting and thrown into another.
The climate of Azkaban Island was always stormy. High waves rolled in from a roiling sea to crash violently against the craggy shoreline. Dark clouds blotted the sun and cast the entire area into a sort of half-darkness. Rain fell intermittently, on and off again, while cold wind buffeted the island for all that it was worth.
All in all it was a dreary place. Probably the most uninviting location on the entire planet. Of course, Gawain couldn't really say that with authority, having only been in his native Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland, France and a couple of times to the United States, but out of all of that, this was by far the worst. London was probably the second worst. He hated London. He worked there. And he worked with arseholes. When he thought of work, he thought of those arseholes; when he thought of those arseholes, he thought of work; when he thought of work, he thought of London; when he thought of London, he thought of work and when he thought of work, he thought of those arseholes; so when he thought of London, he thought of those arseholes. It was a vicious cycle. So, yes, Azkaban was the worst place, but London came in at a close second.
Gawain landed fairly steadily and stayed on his feet, but Tonks, being the clumsy girl that she is, found herself flat on her back on the hard, wet rocks that made up the isle that Caer Azkaban had been built on. She groaned and pulled herself back to her feet, waving her wand over herself to get the damp out of her pants and coat.
Robards stuffed the portkey into the pocket of his coat and began walking toward the entrance to the imposing tower that was Azkaban prison.
Tonks trotted up beside him. "So, are you gonna tell me why we're here now?"
Gawain pulled up short and sighed, fishing another cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it. "I suppose I'll have to. You'll find out in a moment anyway and its probably best you aren't walking when I tell you." Tonks scowled at this but motioned for him to go on. Robards exhaled a lung-full of smoke. "Harry Potter and Barty Crouch Jr. were found dead in their cells this morning. Probably not long after you left here, if I had to wager a guess."
Tonks, for her part. Looked stricken. Her eyes had gone wide and her mouth hung slightly open. She wasn't breathing.
Before Gawain could become too worried about her lack of breath, she inhaled sharply. "What?" her voice came out as a small whisper and Gawain almost didn't hear it over the crashing of the waves on the rocks behind them. "No..." she shook her head. "No, no, no, no. I was just here. He was fine. Harry can't be dead. He was fine, I was just here, I saw him. He was fine." She kept repeating this, as if doing so would make it true.
It was like the world had just come crashing down around her and all she could hear was the sound of her own heartbeat and her own whispered words as Robards' words reverberated in her head. Without her knowing, her knees had gone weak and she sank in a sitting position on the rocks, the wind whipping her hair into a mess and the salt spray of the ocean coated her skin. She noticed none of it.
Robards sighed and took a drag of his cigarette before crouching down in front of the younger Auror and held out the smoke to her. She didn't even acknowledge it, still muttering to herself. Grimacing, he put the butt of the cigarette between her lips and waited. It didn't take long before she was coughing violently after getting an unexpected lung-full of smoke and tar; and probably all kinds of other toxins that cigarette companies didn't tell you about; not that he cared, mind you.
The coughing fit was enough to pull her out of the shocked state that she had fallen into and now she just looked utterly broken.
"Stay with me, Tonks," Gawain coaxed, drawing her back to the moment. "We have a job to do, no matter how unpleasant it is. You can break down later, mate, but right now I need your head in the game."
Tonks nodded, her eyes a bit misty and she bit her lower lip as she nodded again, more firmly and climbed back to her feet.
Gawain nodded too and motion her to continue on the way to the entrance. He looked down at his cigarette and sighed, flicking it into a nearby puddle before turning to follow the now-miserable girl.
Tonks didn't say another word as she and Gawain entered the interior walls of Azkaban. They were met by a guard, who didn't look too happy to be having Aurors there to do their job for them, but he showed them the way to Harry and Barty's cells, where a couple more guards were inside taking photos of the bodies.
Without words, Tonks and Robards split up and went into separate cells. Gawain looked at the body of Barty Crouch Jr. and crouched down, looking him over.
Barty was laying face down on the floor, legs extended and slightly parted, arms resting bent at the elbows, hands extended upwards. He was laying with his head toward the door and his bare feet toward the opposite wall, a thin bedroll was in the corner, covered in a threadbare blanket. The man's hair was long and matted, knotted in some places and completely dirty. His facial hair had grown long and scruffy, as Azkaban inmates were not allowed grooming tools of any kind. His skin, once a clean pale hue, was ghostly white and almost translucent, and coated with a layer of grime. His nails were unevenly chewed, a habit that Gawain vaguely remembered the man indulging in at times.
There was no sign of foul play to suggest a non-natural cause of death, but that didn't rule out such means as poison or a Killing Curse. What made him suspicious was the almost perfect way the body was laid out, and the lack of any real expression on the face.
"Guard," he called out, and one of the guards outside poked his head in. "Have the bodies been moved at all since they were found?"
The man shook his head. "No, sir. We just took pictures of them for the records, as protocol dictates."
Gawain nodded. "Thank you." He reached into another pocket of his coat and pulled out a set of sterile rubber gloves. He pulled them on and then reached forward to brush Barty's hair out of the way of his face and neck. He scanned the revealed flesh for any signs of puncture or wounding but found none. Frowning, he gently turned Barty's head to the other side, noting absently how easy it was, given that by now rigor mortis aught to be setting in. Pallor mortis and algor mortis were already in effect, as indicated by the even paler than normal skin and the coldness of the body.
He checked the opposite side of the neck and face and still found nothing that indicated foul play. He knew that he probably wouldn't find anything, but the Wizarding World didn't have a such thing as an autopsy, so whatever he put in the report would be marked as the official cause of death and he wanted to be thorough.
So, he levitated Barty up and began systematically checking over his entire body. He found no signs of injury or wounding. He ruled out choking, as there would have been signs in the facial and neck regions, and aside from obvious signs of starvation and malnutrition, there was nothing else wrong with the body.
As unlikely as it seemed, natural causes was only real explanation left to him. But something about that didn't seem right. He wasn't sure what it was but something was niggling at the back of his mind, something about how the body was positioned. It didn't make sense. Barty hadn't died in his sleep – his eyes were open and he wasn't even close to being in his bedroll – and he wasn't killed by an outside force. He had found no trace of poison during his scan of the body and it looked like Barty had just laid down on the floor and then just...died. No pain, no trauma, nothing. Just death.
He sighed and left the cell, indicating to the guard that he was finished. "Natural causes," was all he said to the man, who quickly made a note of it and then motioned to another guard to take the body away.
Gawain entered the neighboring cell to find Tonks sitting on the floor beside Harry's body, tears streaming down her face as she absently brushed the hair away from his face.
Harry was laying on his back, arms at his side in a relaxed pose, legs extended toward the back wall and head toward the door, just like Barty, in roughly the same spot in the room as Barty had been. His green eyes were open and half lidded and staring vacantly at the ceiling. Like Barty, also, his hair had grown long and was dirty, knotted and matted, his facial hair long and wild. Skin the same as Barty's had been; near translucent and cold as ice. It did not appear as though Tonks had even done anything more than sit there and look at him and move his hair.
"He's really gone," was all she said, not even looking up from the face of her dead friend as Gawain entered the cell and crouched beside the body.
"Tonks, we need to look him over," he said softly.
Tonks nodded but made no move to get up from her spot.
With a sigh, Gawain motioned a guard in and asked him to escort Tonks out of the cell and get her a cuppa, with a calming draught added in. The guard lifted Tonks up by the arms and began to pull her out of the cell, but she fought against his grip. "No, no. I'm not gonna just leave him here!"
"Tonks, if you aren't going to help me then I at least need you out of the way. You're in no condition for this," Robards told her firmly, pushing her toward the door, she tried to shove them both off but finally they managed to get her out the door of the cell. Another guard joined them and took over for him in escorting her out so that he could go back to do his job.
He knew that this was hard for Tonks. The woman came and visited Harry every week like clockwork. The only one of his friends who had done so. Of course, it helped that she was an Auror and enough people owed her favors in order for her to get a pass, and civilians weren't permitted to come to Azkaban without authorization from the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement or the Minister himself, and there was no way that either of them were gonna let any of Harry's allies that close to him. Tonks had pulled a lot of strings to get that right and everyone knew it.
He suspected that it was these weekly visits that had made Savage decide to send her along. Almost as a punishment to the girl for being so loyal to Harry after so long. Sometimes, that bastard really lived up to his name.
It was at this moment that Gawain Robards was starting to think that he should have just stayed in bed – er, well, on the couch – that morning rather than come in to work.
He performed the same thorough inspection of Harry's body and found it just the same as Barty's had been. It looked like he was going to have to chalk this one up to natural causes as well.
It didn't make any sense whatsoever to him. How could two men, in neighboring cells, best friends no less, die at the same time with no signs of anything that might have caused it. Both looked relaxed and almost peaceful in death and both were positioned far too perfectly. There was something he was missing here but he just couldn't see it.
Were it not for the shitstorm it would cause without evidence to support the claim, he would say that one of the guards had just gone and ghosted the two and then staged the bodies. But, why leave the bodies in the middle of the floor rather than on the beds?
And it was that kind of thinking that made him just shake his head and forget the whole thing. He wasn't paid enough for this shit.
"Natural causes," he muttered to the guard as he left out and began retracing his steps back to the guard station near the entrance.
He found Tonks sitting in a chair, a steaming cup of tea clutched in her hands, looking as if she hadn't even taken a single sip. Her eyes were downcast and her lip was trembling. "It wasn't natural causes," she said as he approached her. "I know it wasn't. It was too perfect." She looked up at him, her eyes rimmed red from crying and the steel blue of her irises popping brilliantly in contrast. "How did both of them die at the same time with no markings?"
Gawain shrugged and took the cup from her hands. She didn't even try to stop him. He took a sip, feeling the effects of the calming draught seep into him. "An odd coincidence, I suppose."
"The Universe is rarely so lazy," Tonks muttered, shaking her head. "Harry used to say that. He was right. This was murder, I know it."
Gawain was inclined to agree with her, but the evidence wasn't there, and never would be. "There's no evidence to support that, mate. This is just one of those rare times where the Universe was that lazy." He set the cup of tea down on a small table by the chair that Tonks was sitting in. "I'll need to inform the families."
Tonks stood up quickly. "I'll do it."
"No, you won't," Robards countered. "You are already all broken up over this. You shouldn't have even been here, but Savage is a right bastard and sick as fuck, so that couldn't be helped. But this is where I draw the line, Tonks. You are going home. The last thing I need is you getting Lily and Hermione worked up by telling them that it was murder."
Tonks' hair started to turn red as her temper flared. "You don't have the authority to send me home!"
"Actually, I do. As the Auror in charge of this case, I am ordering you off of it as soon as you leave here. Now, come on."
He started back toward the shoreline, taking the length of rope out of his coat pocket. Tonks stomped over and took hold of one end and Gawain activated the Portkey for the return trip. They reappeared in the middle of the Portkey Office and Tonks immediately stormed away from him.
He sighed and handed the Portkey to Johns, who came over after seeing them both appear. She took the rope and returned it to the storage room, making a note on a logbook of the use.
Gawain went back to the Auror Office and set about getting the address for Lily Potter – now going by Lily Evans – and Hermione Granger.
He looked around the room and spied James and Sirius talking at James' desk and stalked over to them.
"I reckon I could have slept with her, but we had a row, and, er...I said something about the Pope," Sirius was saying.
James shook his head. "That was a bit stupid, Sirius, you know she's Catholic."
Sirius nodded. "Yeah, I know she's Catholic, but I didn't know the Pope was."
James burst into laughter while Sirius just looked confused.
James laughter died out as Robards stopped in front of them. "Yes, need something, Gawain?"
Robards took out another smoke and lit it, blowing the smoke over the two men. "Just curious about what's so funny over here. Care to share the joke?" Neither looked too happy that he was still there. "Guess not. Well, I just thought you should know that your son, you know, the one you helped toss in Azkaban, is dead."
James blinked at that but didn't seem too upset by it. "How did he die?"
Gawain shrugged and exhaled more smoke. "Natural causes, from what I could tell. I'm on my way to inform the next of kin, and as you are technically still part of that denomination, I thought I should let you know. Well, now you know. Have a wonderful day, gentlemen." As he had done with Percy, he flicked the cigarette at them after taking another long drag.
With that, Gawain turned around and walked away. An intern handed him a file as was passing his desk and he thanked them, flipping it open to see the personal information of Lily Evans Potter and Hermione Jane Granger, including date of birth, place of birth, blood type, height and weight, hair color, eye color, any other physical distinguishing marks, and – most important to him at the moment – their current address of residence. Oddly enough, or not, all things considered, they were living at the same place. 21 Griffin Street, Godric's Hollow, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.
He tossed the file on his desk and made for the Atrium. The file had had a photo of the house, so he would just apparate there rather than try to floo in.
He reached the designated Apparation Area in the Atrium and pictured the front lawn of the house, turning on the spot, and vanished.
He found himself standing on the sidewalk of a quaint village street, looking up at the exact house that had been pictured in the photo.
He ran a hand through his already messy honey-colored hair and resisted the urge to light up another cigarette.
Deciding to just get it over with, he walked up to the gate to the yard and stepped through. He made his way up to the door and took a steadying breath before knocking on the door three times with his knuckles.
He heard a voice shout out from inside and a moment later the door opened to reveal Hermione Granger holding a sleeping baby to her chest. Her face showed recognition as she saw him and she frowned. "Can I help you?"
Gawain sighed. "Hello, Ms. Granger, I am sorry to disturb you but my name is Gawain Robards, I'm an Auror."
She nodded. "I know who you are," she said stiffly. "I was there when you led the father of my child away in chains."
Robards had the grace to look guilty but he pressed on. "Yes. Harry is actually the reason I'm here. Could I come inside?"
Hermione appeared to think about it for a long moment before she nodded and stepped back to let him into the house. She led him into the drawing room, where there was a small cradle set up. She lowered the baby gently down into the cradle and then motioned for him to have a seat. "Would you like some tea, Auror Robards?"
Gawain shook his head. "No, thank you. Uh, is Ms. Evans here?" Hermione nodded. "Could you please fetch her? She's needed for this discussion."
Hermione frowned deeper but nodded and left the room. Gawain tapped his fingers on his leg, itching for a cigarette to the take the edge off of his nerves. But, he was in someone else's house and it would be rude to light up in there, especially with a baby in the house. So, smoking would have to wait until he was back outside.
Hermione returned a moment later with Lily in tow. The older woman looked at him distrustfully but said nothing. The two of them sat on a small sofa across from him. "What's this about?" Hermione asked.
Gawain ran his hand through his hair again. "There's no easy way to put this." He sighed. "At approximately ten o'clock this morning, Harry Potter was found dead in his cell. There were no signs of foul play or anything else to suggest that his death was anything but natural." That wasn't entirely true, but he wasn't going to say that.
Hermione had not heard anything beyond when he had said that Harry was dead. She went stiff and her eyes unfocused and she stopped breathing. Gawain was reminded rather strongly of Tonks when he had told her. He suspected that if Hermione had not already been seated, she would have simple sunk down to the ground as the other woman had, and he couldn't use a cigarette to snap her out of it either.
Lily was not much better, but at least she was still there. "You...you're sure?" she asked.
Gawain nodded. "Yes, ma'am. I saw the body and conducted the investigation. I looked him over myself."
Lily nodded grasping Hermione's hand; the girl didn't even notice. "Thank you, Mister Robards."
Gawain nodded and stood up. "I am sorry for your loss. I'll show myself out."
He walked out of the room and out the from door. As he was opening the gate, he heard an anguished cry, followed by the wailing of a baby.
He shook his head sadly and fished out another cigarette.
He was not having a good day.
Regulus Black circled the country house in the form of Rune the Raven, his keen eyes scanning the area for any sign of a threat. Finding none, he began his descent.
He shifted back into human form as he reached the ground and began walking up the path to the door without missing a stride, the tails of his long robes flaring lightly in the breeze, his shoulder-length hair mimicking the movement.
He knocked on the door slowly, three knocks, three sets.
He waited a moment, then did it a second time. Waited, and then a third time. Finally, after it became clear that he was not going to knock again, the door opened to reveal a tall, well-built man in a brown waistcoat and slacks. His brunette hair was cropped short and left uncombed and his beard was rather bushy.
"Hello, Reggie. Good o' you to join us," he greeted.
Regulus nodded as he stepped inside and the door was closed and locked behind him. "Evening, Tiberius. Are the others here?"
Tiberius nodded and motioned for Regulus to lead the way. "Jus' waitin' on you."
Regulus stopped in the parlour of the house and kicked a circular rug to the side, revealing a hidden trap door. He knelt down and opened it. He could hear the clink of bottles behind him and a moment later Tiberius came into the room with a bottle of Ogden's Best.
Together the two descended down into the dark stairway. Tiberius closed the door behind them, plunging them into darkness. Regulus had little trouble seeing though, thanks to his Animagus form's keen eyesight, and Tiberius knew these stairs like the back of his own hand and had walked them in the dark more times than he could count.
At the base of the stairs was a door, which Regulus knocked on, this time to the rhythm of 'shave and a haircut'. A moment later the door opened and the two men slipped inside.
The man who had answered the door was of average height with shoulder-length hair pulled back into a ponytail and a beard, shorter than Tiberius' and dressed in a simple black waistcoat and trousers. There was also another man in the room, standing beside a round table. This man was a bit shorter than the other man and was clean-shaven with short combed hair and a certain sense of mischief about him when he smiled.
"Malcolm, Fergus, good to see you," Regulus greeted the two.
"Yes," Fergus, the beardless man, replied just the barest hint of an Irish accent audible. "We were beginning to think something had happened to you."
Regulus shook his head. "No. I did a couple of extra passes over the area before landing. You can never too careful, these days."
"True enough, that," Tiberius said, placing the bottle of Firewhiskey down on the table and conjuring four glasses for them all. He began pouring the deep amber liquid into the glasses. "Well, we're all here now. Have a seat, yeah?" He dropped himself down into a chair and motioned to the others.
Regulus sat down in the seat to Tiberius' right, facing toward the door. Fergus sat to his right, directly across from Tiberius and Malcolm took the final seat across from Regulus.
"So, how did it go?" Fergus asked.
Regulus shrugged and sipped his whiskey. "Went off without a hitch."
"You are certain?" Malcolm asked, ignoring his whiskey. It wasn't that he didn't want it, he was Scottish, he loved whiskey – as if where he was from had something to do with that – but he was holding off until business had been covered.
Regulus nodded. "I oversaw the whole thing myself, even stayed behind, disguised as a guard to make sure it worked. By now, the entire Ministry will know that Harry Potter and Barty Crouch Jr. are dead."
Tiberius drained his glass. "Well, cheers to that bit o' good news."
"Aye, sláinte," Fergus intoned, sipping his own drink. "Then things can move ahead as planned?"
Regulus nodded. "Yes, everything is set, and I'll be off to Dartmoor within the hour."
Malcolm nodded and finally reached for his own glass. "Well then," he looked at Tiberius, who was pouring himself another glass. "I think a toast is called for, wouldn't you say so?"
"I'll drink to anythin', jus' show me the whiskey," the stout man responded with a grin.
The other three chuckled and raised their own glasses. "So, what shall we drink to, then?" Regulus asked.
"Well, seeing at we jus' killed two men, I think death seems appropriate, don' you?"
Malcolm nodded. "To death, then. May it never stop us."
"To death," they all intoned together, draining their glasses as one.
Miles away, two bodies laid on cold stones, dead to the world.
A/N: All right, here we are, chapter one of the sequel to The God of Death. I know, this beginning seems like "Atrocity, what the hell are you doing man?" but bear with me guys, I know what I'm doing. Sort of.
Anyway, here is the Dramatis Personae of the characters in this chapter, in order of appearance:
Gawain Robards (Portrayed by Matt Ryan)
Nymphadora Tonks (Portrayed by Natalia Tena)
Sasha Savage (Portrayed by Caspar Crump)
Percy Weasley (Portrayed by Chris Rankin)
Sirius Black (Portrayed by Gary Oldman)
James Potter (Portrayed by Adrian Rawlins)
Hermione Granger (Portrayed by Emma Watson)
Lily Evans Potter (Portrayed by Clara Paget)
Regulus Black (Portrayed by James McAvoy)
Tiberius McLaggen (Portrayed by Tom Hardy)
Malcolm McGonagall (Portrayed by Toby Stephens)
Fergus O'Malley (Portrayed by Andrew Scott)
Fergus is mentioned in HBP by Seamus, as his cousin. Given that he is a wizard I can assume that he was related on the side of Seamus' mother, thus he would have a different surname than Seamus, assuming that Mrs. Finnigan took on her husband's name rather than the other way round. So, this is again taking a canon character and fleshing them out somewhat for the story. I chose to picture him as Andrew Scott (who portrays Moriarty on BBC's Sherlock) because I wanted someone smaller in stature but very intimidating in presence, with a hint of mischief (as he is said in canon to enjoy annoying Seamus by apparating to and from right next to him) to him and no shortage of intelligence.
Tiberius is also mentioned in HBP by his nephew Cormac McLaggen. It is known that he has some influence with the Ministry and a close friend of Rufus Scrimgeour, which will be touched upon later. On choosing Tom Hardy as the 'fan casting' of this character, I wanted someone who commanded respect and attention when in a room. Tom Hardy has a presence to him that is powerful and given that he can play both rough and refined, I felt he was perfect for a character that seems to mingle in both circles, being both an outdoorsman and a Ministry official.
Malcolm is mentioned only on Pottermore, but is the sole remaining relative of Minerva McGonagall, being her younger brother (at least one can assume, younger) and not much is known about him except that he had a wife and son and would visit Minerva in Hogsmead during her brief marriage. Nothing else is known beyond that he did not die in either war. So, I decided to flesh him out too. On picking Toby Stephens (real-life son of Maggie Smith, who portrayed Minerva in the films) I chose him because of the quiet but assertive presence he has in roles such as Captain Flint in Black Sails, and because he has a resemblance to Maggie Smith, being her son.
All right, hope you guys enjoyed. Leave me some love, please!
Until next time,