Check out my story The Masters for more
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Nurmengard was a fortress of grey-black stone sung into place by the power of the elder wand. The only comparable rival Harry had ever felt was Hogwarts and it took four of the greatest witches and wizards of the age to create that castle.
Nurmengard had high towers which hung imposingly over Harry. Sweeping walls around the perimeter where house elves and witches and wizards stood watch. Harry managed to bypass them all with his cloak.
He had been convinced that Dumbledore had made him for this. To be the ultimate assassin. His legilimency and magic were rivals to grown wizards and witches three or four times his age. His cloak allowed him to walk past wards like they weren't there and ignore enchantments. The elder wand hummed in his robe pocket. It sung to be used. Harry would allow that. Tonight against Grindelwald.
Grindelwald deserved it too. He had burnt people. He had murdered others. Crushed some. Flayed children alive under his orders. Grindelwald deserved to have Harry here despite all the help he had provided to the young centennial wizard. Harry had his own following and friends to look after.
The house elves were the biggest impediment as Harry climbed one of the towers in search of Grindelwald. Their magic was subtle. It was difficult to contest and Harry wouldn't relish one as an enemy though with his powers he could probably defeat several. Just not before they would set off an alarm. So Harry was quiet and careful. He slipped up stairs under the cloak of death.
He had to descend once to climb another tower in his search for the dark lord but eventually he found what he was looking for. There was a man Harry recognized by the nose and cheek shape huddled in the corner of a cell. He was thin and bony. Painfully so. Mold covered his hands and feet and the cold permeated the air though it bothered Harry none. His own powers aligned with the cold. The dementor inside his chest stirred and rested at the sight of the dark lord layed low. He had a single blanket and moldy mattress. He sat by the barred window and gazed out at the sea and cliff Nurmengard was built beside.
Harry removed his cloak after checking for anything living nearby. He barely detected Grindelwald through the wards around the cell. But he was there and there was nobody else. It was late. There would be no one to disturb Harry as he worked. Upon pulling off the cloak Grindelwald turned to examine Harry through the bars in the cell. The room was small. Only Grindelwald's magic kept him alive much like Harry's magic allowed him to survive the Dursley's.
"Oh?" Grindelwald murmured. "And you must be…" He spoke in German. Harry answered him in the same language.
"Grindelwald I have come just as I said I would."
"Ah. You must be my heir. You have Death's cloak."
"I do and am. Do you not know me?"
Grindelwald was silent.
"You don't know me," Harry murmured. "How have you been in contact with me if you don't know me."
"I left behind safeguards in my loyal followers' hands. Copies of my mind should the worst come to pass. Copies which would go to protege's wherever they happen to appear."
"Yes," the dark lord answered. The notion reminded Harry of Tom Riddle's diary but this dark lord had been uninterested in Horcruxes. He even disapproved of them. But, thinking about it, Harry could probably pull off something similar and leave behind remnants of himself upon parchment for others to discover. Harry could do it. There was no reason to pretend that this dark lord couldn't without touching on the soul. Harry nodded.
"It's been an echo of you I've been writing to. And you arranged to meet me. Face to face."
"That was one of the instructions I left in the enchantment." Grindelwald agreed. He stood and walked over to the bars. He stared down at Harry. "And now look at you. You found one of the three."
"I have two of the three. I have the wand. Dumbledore surrendered it to me." Harry began to study the runes on the bars of the cell. He would need to break in first to break into Grindelwald's mind and steal all his experiences.
"You do? He did?"
"Dumbledore trusts me. You aren't my only master."
"So it would seem. How did the memory in the parchment entice you to arrive before me?"
"You promised me your private collection and personal grimoire," Harry answered. This rune would trigger an alarm. This one would reduce the offender to ash. They had the feel of Grindelwald's own magic. He had been imprisoned by his own enchantments. How ironic. Harry carefully began to take apart the ward scheme with the elder wand.
"But that isn't why you're here. You want more," Grindelwald dismissed.
"I shall subsume you. I am talented in mind magic and in your condition with my possession of the elder wand you don't stand a chance. I shall assimilate your memories. I shall take what I need in order to survive. There is another dark lord."
"Voldemort." Grindelwald agreed. "I had heard. But for you to be here…"
"He was destroyed but seeks to return to power. I need every edge. That means taking everything from you." Harry hesitated. "For what it's worth I am sorry it has to come to that. But it isn't like you didn't do worse to more people. Consider this your true comeuppance."
Grindelwald sort of bobbed his head in loose agreement. Harry destroyed a rune. The ward scheme weakened. Harry paused. He had been worried that would trigger an alarm or some of the other wards. But there was nothing. His prudence was enough. He was being careful enough it seemed.
"You are a monster of my own creation. Of course I knew that such a thing was a possibility. I expected Voldemort. You must have attracted the attention of my extent followers in a way Voldemort avoided."
"I published papers. I did research. Voldemort hid his power. He was afraid of Dumbledore I expect," I answered. "I had Dumbledore's support. Using house elves or other they passed on the parchment to me. You must truly have had loyal followers. And of course you must have known that a curious student such as myself would be attracted to the power of such an artefact. It was a well laid trap."
"Not a trap. No. A path. Death comes for us all. This was a way to extend my existence," Grindelwald disagreed. "I doubt you told Dumbledore you were receiving my instruction."
"I didn't. No. I told another but not Dumbledore."
Harry waved his free hand and the bars slid open. He leveled the elder wand at Grindelwald. The dark lord didn't react. He looked resigned. "I shall conquer death. With you. My apprentice." Grindelwald murmured.
"My accomplishments are my own. They don't belong to Dumbledore. They don't belong to you. They don't belong to Voldemort. Legilimens." Harry dived into Grindelwald's mind. Eye contact and wand in hand he was able to brush aside the weak and decrepit Occlumency defenses in the way.
But what first?
Harry began with Grindelwald's education under Manton. He stole the memories and drank them deeply into himself. The wisdom of the transfiguration and conjuration instructor was juicy. Grindelwald moaned in the real world aloud as Harry pursued deeper into his memories. Harry sent waves of pacifying pleasure into the dark lord's head.
Next the grimoire and private collection.
Harry touched a memory and learned that it was here in Nurmengard sealed away in a secret chamber. No matter for him. He would retrieve it at his leisure.
Memories of the war followed. Killing witches and wizards in the name of Grindelwald's ambitions. Hundreds of memories of them. More memories of ordering the death of others.
Then came the memories of searching for the elder wand. Grindelwald stole it from the wand maker Gregorovitch. The weapon Grindelwald had been looking for in his war had been this. But it hadn't been enough to defeat Dumbledore when he entered the war. Harry saw the legendary duel from Grindelwald's perspective. Grindelwald collapsed in the real world as Harry devoured him alive. He took everything. Anything which could be useful.
Then he retreated to his own body. It took several hours and most of the memories weren't truly absorbed. It would take time. More time than Harry could spend here. Harry then considered killing the dark lord. He had the horcrux inside him. Only murder could turn that around. But would this be murder? Grindelwald was a husk. Spittle frothed from his mouth from Harry's assault. He may be slipping into brain death. This wouldn't be murder. It would be a mercy killing. Harry would have to find another way to expel Voldemort from his soul. He would need to truly kill someone. This wasn't that.
Harry slid the bars back. He began to reapply the wards around Grindelwald's cell. It wouldn't be exact and would leave some evidence behind but it would be close and it wouldn't be enough to implicate Harry. Harry wrote the last rune and pulled his cloak over his head. The hidden passage here in the fortress was next. He knew all the books in the hidden library. Dark books on the deeper mysteries of magic. And the crown jewel, Grindelwald's own Grimoire. Harry would eventually assimilate the memories of the contents from Grindelwald's mind but the book would help. He would eventually assimilate the memories of every book Grindelwald had ever read but it would take time. Potentially years as Harry dreamed the contents or pursued them in daydream waking hours. The grimoire and private collection would speed up the process and allow new insights. Some of the dark books on soul magic called to harry. Blood magic. Mind magic. Dark curses. Harry would have to select carefully. He couldn't take the whole collection. He would have to pick and choose.
Harry found the wall which hid the collection. He found the ward scheme and activated it with the elder wand. The bricks flowed away from Harry to reveal a door into the deeper recesses. Harry entered. Grindelwald's grimoire was there. Harry took it immediately. He looked around at the vast library. Family magics given to Grindelwald were here. Harry would one day move all of them to the Potter manner he was rebuilding but for now they should rest here. He would read them all eventually but what to start with.
He took a book on curses and counter curses. He took another Grindelwald's memories revealed contained mention of horcruxes and phylacteries. Blood magic next. The deeper mysteries of the killing curse and others. He had his pick of the darkest library he had ever heard of. There were books which made Harfang Munter's book look light. There were books which pursed the deepest of mysteries. What was life? What was death? Where did magic come from? Where did this universe come from? Books on the weave and making holes in it. There was so much. Harry could spend months studying the knowledge of this place. Harry left with his selection. He resealed the hidden chamber with the books in hand and then broke his way out of Nurmengard with no one the wiser.
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"Where's Harry?" Susan asked.
Daphne bit her tongue. She almost began her reply with something like 'the master is busy.' It almost just slipped out of her. She knew he went to Nurmengard. But she couldn't exactly share that. "Harry had work to do elsewhere on the continent and Britain. His custodianship change caused some of his plans to change and there's work to be done at Gringotts and the like." She answered.
Susan nodded. "I just thought he would work with me. I've been improving so much. Its hard to not… you know, be hungry for more."
"He can work with you when he's done with his business. I can help you if it's enchantments you need help with," Daphne returned.
Susan considered that. She'd seen Daphne's power to transfigure the train car into a lounge. "Maybe…"
"My power comes from Harry. Our relationship allows me to tap into his power."
"You mean like…?"
"Like a lord?" Daphne finished. "He is."
Susan's eyes widened. "I knew he was talented but this?"
"Even this. He's too powerful. The nature of our connection lets me use his strength and tap into the power of that relationship. There's a subtle magic to such things. A power if you know where to look. I can teach you how to use it if you want."
"But won't that bind me to him?" Susan asked.
"No more than you're already bound to him," Daphne answered. "And it probably won't be like me and him just something similar. You must have seen how strong Nevile became."
"Because he's Harry's best friend," Susan nodded. "But…"
"I won't force you. Neither will Harry. But I can show you how to use that power. It's how I nearly defeated the Veela."
"You got distracted."
"Something shifted in Harry and my connection. It distracted me. Otherwise I would have won."
Susan nodded. She frowned in thought. It was something to closely consider. Loyalty magics like this could affect the mind, body, and soul. But there was no denying that it had power. It was metaphorical. It was transcendental. "I'll think about it. It's something to consider. Its not, like, a loyalty oath or something is it?"
"Kind of. If you betrayed him you'd lose power. But serving him, working with me on my father issues, furthering his goals, it will all allow you to tap into a deeper level of power. You won't have to swear an oath or bind yourself to his will like You-Know-Who demanded of his subjects. Harry prefers gifts over punishment. The carrot and not the stick. Nothing tricky but I won't lie and say it doesn't affect you. It's the nature of such magic to be deep and penetrating."
"And this will make my spells stronger?"
"It didn't for me. It made my spells more efficient but not necessarily more powerful. Harry prefers to hone the skills that already exist. It might make you a better dueler. But then again you're a fighter. It made my enchantments more subtle and advanced. He even taught me how to use my blood as a medium to weave my enchantments."
"But is it real or metaphorical?"
"Harry would say that there's no difference."
"And what would you say?" Susan pressed.
"Harry changed everything for me. But then I'm closer to him than anyone. That could just be how people and friendship works but that's also how enchanting works. There's a power to it that's hard to explain. It's sort of like the notion that we're all just dreaming and reality is a nebulous concept. I'm not sure if it really matters that reality is a dream. Does it?"
Susan frowned again. "Of course it matters."
"Why?" Daphne pressed.
Susan flinched. She said nothing. "I… I don't…"
"Me neither. But if reality is an illusion it's a persistent one. We can grant it that."
"Kinda scary when you think about it like that," Susan mumbled.
"It is. And it isn't. It can be pretty comforting too. What if I go to bed one day and start dreaming and never wake up? It could happen. Reality could just fall apart and it even seems to some of the time. I have memories which can't be real. What does it mean for a memory to be real anyway? I don't know. But I've felt my connection to Harry. I feel it in my magic and in my core. And he has enemies. Big ones. But he's also not alone."
"I don't know what to think about that. But if I were summoning people from beyond I would make sure they couldn't compare notes. I'd be very careful about letting magi talk to one another about this."
"Make no mistake. Harry is mine. I'm his. I've felt it. And it would take a huge amount of energy to summon reality. A godly amount. And I don't care to think of the metaphysical. There are old gods of muggles which can be summoned if you know what you are doing. Archangels and such. Beasts from the feywild and fairy and so on. You can strike bargains with such creatures if you're careful. Make trades. Holy objects have power but is that the power of belief or something more? There are also things from outside the outer gates. What's the difference between that and this? What's the difference between putting my loyalty in Harry and making deals for power, knowledge, and truth?"
"I don't know? Is there one?" Susan asked.
"There doesn't seem to be. The implication is that Harry is such a creature. And so am I. And so are you."
Susan was quiet. "Could he teach me how to summon such entities? Could you? Could he… could he summon the dead? Like my parents?"
"Maybe the barest shadow. There are ghosts in our world which seem to imply that it is possible. Nobody has ever resurrected the truly dead and gone. When a soul goes to where souls go when they aren't around that seems to be a one way trip. Maybe there exists reincarnation but the time scale is too long."
"What is Harry really? What's a lord?"
"I don't know. A young god perhaps?"
"And what does that make you?"
"A servant. To be honest with you… Harry is my master as much as he is my boyfriend."
"And I'm supposed to be a servant too?"
"If you want. I believe in free will. Mortals have the power to choose. And from our choices draw an infinite number of possibilities which allows for reality."
"What about the imperious curse? And other magic to strip the will away?"
"Is that what the imperious curse does?" Daphne asked. "A practitioner of the mind arts can resist such attempts to reduce them. It's not a free win. I don't know of anything which is a free win. Everything has a price. Doesn't it?"
"Think about it. Practice dueling with me. Go read a book and relax. I'll leave the inner mysteries to Harry. He's higher on the food chain than I am."
"You talked about summoning fay…"
"Could you summon a demon?"
"I could. If I had the right materials and so on. A proper circle." Daphne answered. "I probably wouldn't unless I had a good reason. They are fickle creatures. And I'd consult Harry before I did. He would know more about summoning creatures from fairy."
Susan breathed in deeply.
"You're still thinking about the dead," Daphne interpreted.
Susan said nothing.
"You never knew your parents." Daphne went on.
"So what?" Susan snapped.
"Well don't you think I've been tempted to try and summon my father's ghost? There are myths and legends about it. Odysseus did it once or twice. Orpheus almost managed to resurrect Euridyce from Hades."
"You're talking about old gods. Old myths."
"Myths have power. Names have power. It should be possible. I wouldn't try without consulting Harry. And he might say it was too dangerous. And I'd struggle to disagree with him."
"What about something small? A little fay."
Daphne hesitated this time. "I'd need to know the name of the creature. The true name. And a circle. Harry would have no problem paying for a good gold or copper circle if I asked. And I'd like to make other preparations. Cold iron as a back up measure. The fay are basically allergic to it. It would burn them up in our world and theirs I suppose. Why are you so curious about the creatures of fairy?"
"It would be… I don't know… a start. And I could make deals for power and knowledge."
"I won't tell you 'no' but I won't tell you 'yes.' I'd be wary of any deals you make with the fay."
"But not Harry?"
"Making deals of loyalty with Harry can change you, just as much or more so than becoming something like a servant of winter or summer. Or even the wild fay. But it isn't like he wants your name or to force you into servitude. He just wants your help and in return he will help you. It's dangerous but its not like being a witch alone in the world is safe. If you really don't like making deals you could start or join a coven."
Susan shook her head. "I already made a deal with Harry and you. I just didn't know what it would cost."
"You want out?"
Susan shook her head. "I'm already getting stronger. I suppose I'm wary of giving up more especially something so ambiguous where I don't know the price."
"I won't lie to you and tell you Harry is all good. But he's for the most part kind. And he's good to his friends."
"Am I his friend?"
"You're mine. And you're getting there. Even Lisa has power now because of Harry. Hell, I bet Hermione still does too. And just look at Neville. He's the second strongest in our year."
"It has benefits. I'll have to think about it before I start drawing on more of his power."
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