Two updates? So soon? I had to reread this story to catch myself back up and I have to say it's not bad. Sure there are things I would do differently if I had to do it again but that's life and what The Masters is for.
I would not expect another quick update. I have just been a writing machine lately and that's bound to change. Basilisk remains my focus.
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Harry dreamed he was at Durmstrang academy. He recognized the halls like he had walked down them a thousand times. Which, of course, he had memories of doing so. So what was the difference in saying that he had, in fact, been here before?
His schoolmates gave him a healthy birth as he walked. Nobody wanted to get in his way. It was rumored he cursed students who did so. Of course it was Gellert, not Harry.
Professor Manton appeared suddenly and in his way. Harry paused to consider the teacher. It had been some time since they had a private conversation and the professor gestured for Harry to join him and walk and talk. Harry did so. He felt his wand in his robes. Somehow familiar.
"It has been some time since we last spoke. How fares your special project?"
The project into the souls of the animagus. It was slow going since all Harry had to work from were textbooks and primary sources. He had no animagus to experiment on and had to rely on such second hand accounts.
"It's been difficult, sir. I'm not an animagus myself and don't know of any students who are one." Let alone a student who would be willing to let him experiment on them. He could imagine it now. The students huddling away from him out of fear.
He felt nothing malicious towards his fellow magi. It was the muggles who he felt contempt for. And no small amount of pity. They would never feel the rush of a well cast spell. They would never feel magic. They were truly alone and at his mercy.
"So you must rely on second hand sources. That's never slowed you down before." The professor went on as they walked through grey corridors. Durmstrang was a drab and cold place. Harry felt at home here.
"No one conducted so much as a homenum revelio. The most basic of soul magics. Let alone plunged into the deeper mysteries. One can only do so much with conjured animals and plants. They lack souls. They lack a certain spark. No one seems to want to explore the deeper mysteries. Mind magics are explored to an extent and where psyche touches on soul I have learned much but little more past that. How the mind shifts when one changes form is fascinating but not quite what I had in mind." Harry elucidated.
"I have a book by Harfang Munter which may be able to assist you. In it are some rather contemptible magics but I trust your discretion. I shall loan it to you. On the condition you do not repeat the experiments within."
Harry nodded, eager to gain new knowledge and glad of his teacher's confidence. "I shan't. You have my word. Some soul magics are truly vile. I am only eager to learn of how the soul shifts when a person changes and nothing more."
What his professor didn't know wouldn't hurt him. And no one would miss a handful of muggles.
Harry woke up from the dream and looked around the train compartment. He was in the process of aborbing Gellert Grindelwald's memories but it would take time. He wasn't suddenly on the level of the dark lord in his prime. He had the grimoire to assist but subsuming the dark lord was no easy task. He woke up tired. His mind had been working all night long after all. He took a drink of water and sat up. He rubbed his face hard.
It should have come as less of a surprise what Grindelwald had done to muggles he got his hands on. Harry had never considered experimenting on them. But for Grindelwald it was a natural next step.
And it wasn't like the muggles didn't deserve it.
Harry flinched from the thought which came unbidden. He didn't really think that. He wanted to get along with muggles. He didn't want to hurt anyone. Did he? A couple names came to mind and Harry pushed them down. They were all wizards or had done horrible things to Harry and were already dead. No sense in pursuing such matters. The Dursleys were gone. They could torment Harry no longer and hadn't been able to for quite some time. They deserved his pity not his contempt.
Someone like Bellatrix Lestrange or Peter Petegrew deserved his contempt. But there was nothing to be done about them and they were both magi not muggles.
Though muggles had burnt wizard children at the stake.
But without the muggles the magi would have died out.
It was a complicated issue with no clear cut answers. He wouldn't find one sitting in his bed. The muggles had weapons capable of destroying the magi on accident. Nothing could be done to take that away. Could it? The second world war heralded the atomic age. A barrier with no small amount of energy was broken. Could things ever go back? For thousands of years the statute of secrecy didn't exist. It was a new invention. The natural order was different. Magi didn't hide from muggles. At least not once they came into their power.
Maybe… Grindelwald had some good points. Maybe if things could go back then they should.
It would take a ridiculous amount of power to wipe humanity back to the bronze age or thereabouts. But it shouldn't be impossible. Afterall, the muggles had that power. Why not the magi?
Harry frowned, deep in thought. Michael stirred in his bed and slumped back down. Ernie lay still as a statue.
Would other magi see the point? Harry felt suddenly alone. It wasn't an academic question, not really. Not for Harry who had done and seen so much. Harry had seen muggles executed alongside magi in the memories of Gellert Grindelwald. Those who didn't comply were liquidated. Harry saw literally thousands of people die and had allowed still more to be executed on his orders. Grindelwald's orders. Not Harry's. Harry hadn't killed anyone outside of self defense.
But he was considering it. If you were unwilling to kill thousands of people you are already off the list of potential great figures in history. What did Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar have in common with Adolf Hitler? It wasn't a semantical question for Harry who lived on the cutting, bleeding edge of history.
He knew he didn't like the answer. He knew his fellow magi wouldn't see it the same way. They hadn't for Gellert Grindelwald. They wouldn't for Harry Potter.
Dumbledore especially would be aghast at such thoughts but Harry didn't live and die by Dumbledore. He looked up to him and their relationship was complicated, especially now. But Harry was his own man. He'd carve his own path. Even if it meant digging up some truly ancient bones.
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"Susan wants to summon her parents' ghosts." Daphne informed Harry at the breakfast table. Harry hesitated.
"I think that's a terrible idea."
"Well it's on her mind. Surely you could pull it off."
"Maybe…" Harry trailed off. He didn't like it. The dead and the living were of two separate worlds. Crossing over could be disastrous for either side. Sure there was the resurrection stone but Grindelwald believed that could be used to summon a horde of the undead. Not to truly resurrect the living. Harry wondered what Dumbledore thought the resurrection stone did but he dismissed such musings. No spell could truly bring back the dead. No spell could forge a soul and make something truly alive. "It wouldn't be them. It would be less than a ghost and barely a memory."
"What about summoning a demon?"
"It would be dangerous. They are obliged to try and kill you should they detect weakness in your circle. And I would need the name and would like holy water on hand just in case. Why the curiosity with the creatures of faerie?"
"Susan was asking. I figured I had better talk to you about it."
Harry bobbed his head in an agreeable fashion. "You'll be careful though, won't you?" Harry pressed.
She nodded easily. "If I have to summon something I'll be careful. I don't anticipate having to but I could."
"Cold iron is the bane of the fae. I'd have some on hand if you do bring something out. And the dead abhor the light and fire. They aren't like us mortals. Not anymore."
"Not that you're just a mortal," Daphne accused with a wink. Harry sighed. There was some truth to that. He was a powerful wizard. A font of magic and life and light in this world. He was no common muggle who had simple decisions to make. Harry's would have long lasting complications. He had to be careful.
"Do you have dress robes? For the dance?" Daphne asked.
"Yes I do but they probably don't match whatever you have going on."
"We can head out and pick some up."
Harry agreed. Michael would be practicing basic occlumency and augeomancy. He was still some time away from allowing Harry to practice breaking and entering his mind. Ernie still was wary of Harry. But he had respect for Harry's power. Harry was dueling seventh years now. Ernie had likely seen Susan's strides in progress and would ask for his help soon enough.
Subsuming Grindelwald would only assist in this.
Su Li was studying french. Sometimes that's what it takes. You just had to sit down and study. Harry did that all the time. Daphne did too. Susan might want to summon her parents' ghosts but she would wait for Daphne.
So Harry and Daphne left for Cannes. She took him to a seamstress to get outfitted in his new dress robes. He dressed smartly with flares of silver and green trimmings to match his eyes. Daphne had fun dressing him up and watching him try on different outfits. He allowed it. Her joy was his joy and he felt it in her mind where he gently touched her thoughts.
She twisted away from him in the street and he caught her hand. She glanced back at him and he smiled before pulling her close and planting a chaste kiss on her lips. Then he released her again. He let a small smile flirt with his lips.
She beamed and he basked in the flavor of her emotions. "What was that for?" She wondered.
"Do I need a special reason?" He shot back with a small shrug, a grin still playing with the corners of his mouth.
"I suppose not. It would be interesting if you had one, I think."
"I felt like it." Harry shrugged again. "I suppose you had better get used to it. That or become afraid of my wants."
"Well I certainly don't want that. I suppose it's something to become accustomed to."
"What now?" Harry wondered.
"Now…" she made a show of thinking. "Now we get ice cream I think. I've heard of a decent place. Come on." She led him by the hand through the street. He was behind her and just watching her. Staring at her. He took in the sight of her blonde hair around her shoulders. It was quite long. Mid back length or thereabouts. He wanted to run his fingers through the straight blonde fronds.
He promised himself. They would have time for intimate moments later. Time was always pressing but he had enough for this. He would take the time to make the time. Such things were important and meaningful. They made Harry human. There was a quiet magic to spending time with Daphne that had nothing to do with wands and wills. He truly drank it in and appreciated it.
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Susan watched Daphne light some candles around the circle. It was getting late. Night was best for summoning the dead. There is a magic to the sunset. If you don't want to take me at the word go out into the wilderness away from civilization and wait for all the creatures to roost and for the hunters to awaken. Magic energies changed with the rising and setting of the sun. The rising sun could strip away enchantment and burn ghosts. It was an unmaking and a remaking.
Daphne held her wand before the circle and set the runes in the air just right. Then she beckoned for Susan to come forward.
"What do you need from me?" Susan asked.
"You'll do most of the work. You have closer ties to the deceased and we'll start with a drop of your blood."
"Isn't that… you know… dark?"
"And summoning your parents' ghosts is what exactly?"
Susan sighed. "Fair enough." She held out a hand and Daphne cut across it with her wand with a murmur of a cutting spell.
"Now say your parents' full names. And say 'I call you forth to the land of the living.' Call them three times in this way. Once the memory appears beckon it to eat and drink of the food in the circle."
"Caroline Bones I call you forth to the land of the living," Susan murmured. She said it three times. In the circle a wisp appeared of a pale woman. She had Susan's cheek bones and brow. She had her hair only shorter. In life she would have been a beautiful woman.
Susan gasped and with a Shakey voice commanded the ghost to eat and drink.
The wisp moved to the edge of the circle and ate the food Daphne placed there. After eating the shade became a touch more solid. More real. More alive.
The shadows in the train car grew long.
"Mom?" Susan asked.
"Hello," the specter greeted. "Are you…? Susan? My little Suzy? You… you've grown so much. You still have the same eyes. Is it really you?"
"Yes. It's me. I'm your daughter," Susan choked out.
"Why am I here? I remember… I remember dying. Oh my god I remember dying. How can I be here? What is here? Where am I?" The specter started to panic. "What's this circle? It… it burns. Suzy? I can't see. Everything is going dim. This isn't right. Something is so wrong."
Susan swallowed. "Mom I'm here. This is Beauxbatons. You're on the Hogwarts express. I summoned you."
"Darling what's this circle? Won't you… won't you let me out of it? It holds me back and burns. Little Suzy?"
Susan jerked but Daphne held her back with a shake of her head. Susan made eye contact with Daphne pleadingly.
"The circle is to protect us. It's a shade. At the end of the day that isn't your mother's soul in the circle. It's just a memory of her given shape. Go ahead. Ask it something you wouldn't know."
Susan breathed deeply. "Mom? How'd you meet dad?"
The specter hesitated. "I don't… I can't remember. Honey won't you drop this circle? I can't touch you from in here."
"I don't understand. Why doesn't she know how she met my dad?"
"It's not her. It's just a memory. A shadow of what you know and what she was in life. She isn't whole. What do you know about mind magic?" Daphne pressed.
"Not much… I take it you know more."
"Some. I'm not an expert like Harry is but I can defend my thoughts and organize them magically. A memory only knows what you know. It doesn't have your mother's mind and especially not her soul."
"Mind magic… can you read minds?"
"I can't and I understand that it doesn't work that way. Not as such, at least. The mind is a complicated and many layered object. It isn't the same thing moment to moment. You never met your mother. You don't know her. That's why this shade lacks substance," Daphne explained.
Susan glanced at the specter. She looked away at the ground and listened to the voice of her mother beg to be freed from the circle.
"Get rid of it," Susan breathed.
Daphne summoned a torrent of fire and melted the wisps like wax into nothing. There was a horrible moment where the specter screamed in agony before the fire cleansed it entirely.
"It wasn't real screams. Not really." Daphne explained brushing her hair back.
Susan gave a shaking nod. Listening to her mother scream hadn't been pleasant. Even If it was all fake pressure from a memory.
"Want to summon your father?" Daphne pressed.
"No. No I don't." Susan decided. "I want to go to bed."
"There's no way to summon something more substantial?" Susan asked at length.
"Not without more memories. You don't have them. You never met her. You know her voice but that's about it. That's all I know of, at least. I don't know of any other way."
Susan shuddered and hugged herself. "Harry can read minds?"
"He always knows when someone is lying to him. He knows a great deal. The dark lord was a Legilimens. Dumbledore is too. So is professor Snape."
Susan shook. "But you can defend against this?"
"It's possible. It has other benefits as well. It helps with focus and will with casting. A subtle Legilimens can do a lot with very little. If you even detect a breach."
"My auntie probably knows how…" Susan trailed off.
Daphne nodded. It was possible. Perhaps it was even likely.
"I'll lend you a book on the subject. On mind magic," Daphne vowed.
Susan just nodded.
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