The two blondes looked at each other, the witch calmly, the wizard with caution. He remembered exactly what his cousin was capable of with her wand.
"Pandora…" He stated slowly.
"Lucius." She replied.
"To what do I owe the… pleasure?" Lucius asked, carefully avoiding sneering. Sneering at Pandora could have lethal consequences.
"You are aware of Great Aunt Cassandra's gifts?"
"Then you should be aware that they pass only through the maternal line."
"It seems that I have inherited a… variant of them." She did not seem pleased.
What could he say to that?
"My condolences." Seemed apt given Pandora's attitude.
There was a pause, as both parties debated what to say next.
"I know of your… affiliations, Lucius."
"Do you?" She seemed very calm, Lucius wondered why.
"You do not seem concerned, Pandora." He commented.
"Why is that?"
"I would have you watch a memory… or rather, a series of memories."
"I have dreamt something that alarmed my greatly. It concerns you, your affiliations, your family, your Lord, his enemies and the survival of magic, itself." She sneered as she said the word 'dreamt'.
"My…?" He paused again. "Very well, Pandora. Pensieve or pensieve projection?"
"Pensieve. I will be joining you, you must see the entire series or this will be for naught. I suggest asking Severus Snape or Alexander Gibbon to guard us during our immersion."
"As you watch, it will become clearer."
"When do you wish this to happen?"
"Now, Lucius. I will not leave until you have entered the pensive and watched, in full."
"Very well. Wait here, please, cousin."
Lucius left his study and entered an odd room. It held a large fireplace that was elevated with a broad heath, a set of stairs leading down from the heath to a chair set immediately in front of the fireplace. A pinch of floo-powder was thrown into the flames.
"Severus Snape, Spinner's End." He said, speaking clearly.
A face appeared in the flames.
"Lucius? What do you want?"
"My cousin Pandora, is here. She wishes me to view a series of memories. I would have you guard us."
"Us?" Snape replied.
"Yes, she says she will join me."
"Now. She will not leave until I have watched whatever it is she want me to watch."
"E-excuse me?" Snape spluttered.
"It seems, there is no accounting for taste." A fleeting twist of his lips and Snape's face disappeared from the fire.
A few seconds later a tall man, dressed in heavy black robes stepped out of the flames.
"Dramatic Severus, very dramatic."
"They suit my current disposition, Lucius."
"They do." Lucius sighed.
"Shall we get this over with?" Severus was hard, almost unforgiving.
"Yes." He paused. "Severus? I am… sorry, for your… loss."
"As am I, Lucius, but that will not change what has occurred. Where is your pensieve?"
"In my study, this way." Lucius sighed and lead the younger man through a door and into a large room, well lit by tall windows.
A slim blonde woman sat on a wing-backed leather chair, her back rigidly straight.
"Pandora Lovegood. Severus Snape." Lucius' introduction lacked much in the way of courtesies.
"Mrs Lovegood." Neither seemed very pleased at the need to be introduced.
"Shall we get on with this?" Lucius waved and a cupboard opened, another wave and a large shallow bowl floated out. It settled in the middle of the room, a single leg descending from it to touch the ground, forming a tripod for it to rest upon.
The witch stood, her back still rigidly straight. She did not so much walk across the room, as glide, she steps flowing seamlessly into motion. She slowly reached into her robes, causing Snape to tense, but her movements were so slow that he had ample time to retrieve his own wand and point it in her direction. The barest of pauses and her movement continued, her hand emerging, not with a wand, but with a very long thin phial.
Silvery-gold strands swirled through the phial, moving slowly, twisting, rising and falling. With the barest of nods from Lucius, Pandora unstoppered the phial and upended it over the pensieve. The strands poured out like a thick oozing syrup, falling into the pensieve and bleeding out to cover the surface.
Lucius reluctantly held out a hand and Pandora, just as reluctantly, placed hers in it. The two bent and their faces touched the liquid of the pensieve. Shadows changes and shapes formed around them.
A dark street with old Tudor buildings. A low wall and a gate. The pair watched at a tall being crossed in front of them, it's robes trailing on the ground, but bare feet could been seen as the being stepped from the road to the pavement in front of the gate. A wave of a skeletal hand and the gate opened. Voices were heard and screams came. A child cried. The inside of a room formed around them, a woman with dark red hair lay facedown on the floor in front of a child's cradle. A man in black enters, he staggers in shock, falls to the floor. He pulls the dead woman into his arms and sobs over her, as her child cries behind them. Piles of ashes lay where a body had once stood. The child, scarcely more than a baby sits in his cradle, his bleeding face screwed up as he cries for parents that will never again, come.
The scene changed again. A street sign. 'PRIVET DRIVE', black block letters on a white background. Dawn's light bathing a suburban nightmare. A plaque on brickwork, the number 4 painted white. The door opens and a thin woman goes to step out, only to come in contact with a fabric wrapped bundle. She bends, lifts the bundle, folds back a corner of the fabric. It is the child from the cradle. The woman's face screws up, not like the child's had, in distress, but in anger and disgust. She turns back into the house, closing the door behind her.
"This is the past. This is what has happened. Now we will see what the future could bring. But not one future, we will see many, based on decisions that can impact on those futures."
She waved her hand and Lucius watched as the woman from the house beats the child, a man, large and fat, pulled the child around by his arms, threw him in a boot cupboard. The child grew, small and skinny, but he still grew. He cleaned, cooked and washed. Another child, looking so much like the fat man that it was clear he was man's son, hit, kicked and bit the small child. The child ran, away from the man, away from the larger child, away from the woman. Yet every time he ran, when the sun rose, the child was back in that boot cupboard again.
A classroom, the child in the back row, he's been called on by the teacher, children laugh, the teacher laughs and the teacher's hair turns blue. Running. Being chased by the larger child, now a fat boy, and two other boys, the child screws up his face and suddenly he's gone, a look around and the child is on the roof of a building.
A dark building, glass panels separate people from animals, snakes, lizards and spiders. The two children, the woman and the fat man are standing in front of an enclosure of a large pale snake. The fat boy bangs on the glass, but the snake doesn't move, eventually the two adults and the fat boy wander off, the child talks to the snake and the snake responds, the fat boy returns, pushes the child away and leans on the glass. The glass vanishes and the fat boy falls into the enclosure. The child grins, only until the two adults look at him. The fat man grabs the child by the arm and yanks him around, snarling face just inches from the child's.
A pile of letters, one addressed to -
Mr H Potter.
The Cupboard under the Stairs.
4 PRIVET DRIVE.
Now the child bruised, his arm is deformed, the forearm lays with a bend in it. There is blood on the child's face, on his clothes. Clothes are many sizes too large.
Hogwarts. The sorting hat. It dithers, but finally places the child in Gryffindor. A red haired boy and a bushy haired girl running at his side. A mirror and a professor, the professor speaks to the child, grabs at the child, attempting to force the child to in front of the mirror. The professor scream and the child pushes his hands against the professor's face. The face cracks and burns, flaking like ash.
A snake, a book, a red haired girl and a ghost. The snake chases the child, a phoenix drops the sorting hat at the child's feet, the hilt of a sword emerging. The child grasps the sword and fights the snake. A fang slices deep into the child's crooked arm, the child pulls it out and stabs the book with it, the book bleeds ink and the ghost shatters into light. A bird of fire and the child is flying.
A fat woman, she looks like the fat man. She speaks, insults people, hateful words flow from her mouth. The child looks at her, there's hate and disgust on his face. The woman inflates, blows up like a children's balloon, she bobs about the room and floats out the door and into the sky. The child is pulling a trunk down a dark road, a large black dog creeps from bushes, it looks at the child. A strange bus, a dark room looking out over a market area and a train line. Dementors floating near Hogwarts. A full moon and a man shifts into a werewolf, it leaps at the three children and the man in black, the black dog leaps at the wolf. A man, ragged and dirty, smiles at the child and hugs him close. A hippogriff and rider take to the night skies above Hogwarts.
A large goblet filled with fire. Pieces of paper float out of it. Viktor Krumm. Fleur Delacour. Cedric Diggory. Harry Potter. A dragon, it's chasing the child, he's on a broom, they crash into a bridge, the dragon falls. A red and gold room, a golden egg screams. A lake, cold and dark, the redhead boy floating in the water, a rope tired to one foot. A maze, giant spiders, a sphinx. A cup, the child and a taller boy grab it together, it's a portkey. The child falls to the ground. A short man throws a killing curse at the taller boy, he falls to the ground dead, in front of the child. The child is tied to gravestone, a knife slices his arm, the same arm the snake's fang sliced. A cauldron melts in to flame and a man emerges from the flames. Two wands connect and a brilliant gold light bathes the child and the man. The child falls to the ground and points his wand at the cup, it flies to his hand and the child vanishes from the graveyard.
A woman in pink, she issues orders, sets decrees. Students approach the child, they ask to be taught, taught the things the pink woman won't let them learn. The man in black, a dark house, a dark room. Eyes meet and memories are entered. The man sees through the child's eyes and eventually the child will see through the man's, neither's memories are pleasant. Nightmares, dreams, visions. The child dreams of the only man to hug him, he is tortured and killed. The child tells the man in black, but nothing happens, the child can not see the man in black send patronuses, cannot see him make firecalls, cannot see him yell at an old wizard. Thestrals, a phone booth, five children jammed in. A hall, shelves filled with glass balls. The man from the cauldron is there, he wants something from the child. A fight breaks out. More people come, one of them the man who hugged the child. A witch throws a curse and the man falls through an archway, gone into blackness. The child screams in anger and sorrow. The fight goes on, more people arrive. The old wizard and the man from the cauldron duel.
The older wizard introduces the child to another wizard, old but not as old at the old wizard, he wants the child to get something from the other wizard. He shows the child memories. Memories about the man from the cauldron. He takes the child to a place on the coast, there's a rock, a cave, boat and a pool of liquid. They return to the school, but a blonde boy, almost a man, challenges the older wizard. An argument is had and others arrive, among them the witch that killed the man who hugged the child, the man in black climbs the stairs and after a small bit of begging from the old wizard, the man in black uses a killing curse and the old wizard fall from the tower. The child chases after the man, the two exchange curses and the man leaves. The child cries.
A wedding. The redhead boy in fancy dark grey suit, the bushy haired girl, her hair tamed and neat, in rich red dress and the child, he wears an equally fancy black suit. A patronus speaks of the ministry falling and guests disappear. The girl grabs the hands of the two boys and they too, vanish. A street full of muggles, a coffee shop and a wand fight. Then an old house, it's dark and dreary. A locket, silver with green stones in the shape of an S. The woman in pink again and the Ministry. A forest, bare of green, a tent almost empty. Walking, days of walking and hiding, an argument and the red haired boy leaves. A village, it the same village as when the child was in the cradle. Another graveyard, it's covered in snow. An old lady, a snake, it attacks the child, his wand is broken, but the girl grabs him and apparates away. A patronus walks through a moonlit wood, a frozen pond collapses, the red haired boy is back, he pulls the child and a sword from the pond, smashes the locket with the sword. They're running at dawn, then there's a manor and a dungeon. An elf and a beach. Gringotts and a dragon, flying, falling into water. Hogwarts again. A battle. The man in black is dying, he gives the child his memories. The child finds a pensieve and watches them, he cries for the man in black.
"Here it changes." Pandora said. "It can go two ways. The first we will see it the Light's triumph, then the Dark's."
The child enters a forest, he stands before the man from the cauldron. A curse is thrown at the child, who just stands there and lets it hit him. The child in a place of white, the old wizard, the one killed on the tower is there, they talk. The child opens his eyes, a woman lies for him. There's fight and more still more fighting, dozens of people fight, dozens of people die. The school is in ruins. But the child and the man from the cauldron fight. A sword cuts through a snake. But the man and child still fight. Their wands connect again, but the child knows something has changed, he knows he will win, the wand the man uses is not his own, it is aligned to the child. It rejects the man and flies from his hand. The child's hand reaches out and the wand falls into it. The man falls. He dies, his body dissolves into ashes that float on the breeze. He is dead. The child stands with the red haired boy and the girl, they watch as the child snaps the man's wand and throws the pieces away.
The Wizengamot meets, decisions are made, muggle ways, traditions are introduced, the Statute of Secrecy is let fall. Muggles begin to notice wizards and their magic, they accept wizards into their world. Slowly, so slowly that it's not noticed until it is too late to change the outcome, wizards discover that magic is fading, it is dispersing across the world, soon there is no such thing as a muggle, everyone is born with a magical core, but their cores are so small that they can do little deliberate magic. Hogwarts and Wizarding society is gone, magic is gone and all that is left are the no-longer-muggles.
"Now we shall see what the future would be if the Dark were to triumph at Hogwarts." Pandora's voice echoed hollowly.
The child enters a forest, he stands before the man from the cauldron. A curse is thrown at the child, who just stands there and lets it hit him. The child in a place of white, the old wizard, the one killed on the tower is there, they talk. The old wizard sighs, it's now down to others. The child has missed something that the old wizard had tried to tell him. The child is dead, his body is carried back to the castle and the fight goes on. The defenders are demoralized at the child' death. They still fight, but they have no heart anymore. One by one, the students join the attackers. The red haired boy is killed as is the girl. They are examples to the Light, of what it means to defy the Dark.
Muggleborns are killed. Halfbloods imprisoned. Muggles targeted as animals. But muggles begin to fight back. They don't care who's side you're one, if you're magical, they will kill you. Diagon Alley. A flash and crash and the alley is gone, hundreds of witches and wizards dead. Hogwarts is next. Settlement by settlement, they spread. Settlement by settlement, the muggles begin to exterminate the disease that is the Wizarding world. Less than 5 years after the battle at Hogwarts, there are no witches or wizards left to feel Lady Magic's gifts and magic fades from the world.
"Lady Magic is not happy. What can we do? What action will end with what result? Now we will watch what we can change and how those changes will effect our world." Pandora says.
"There is a way to stop this?" Lucius asked.
"Watch and you shall see."
The child is locked in the boot cupboard while the woman, fat man and the fat boy, drive away in a muggle car. It is days later before they return. There is a police vehicle in front of the house. The two adults are arrested and the boy taken away. The man from the cauldron emerges from his cauldron and rules unopposed. Muggles revolt and Diagon Alley is destroyed. Hogwarts last only a few more days. Wizards are hunted and the witch-burnings begin again.
The family return from the zoo and the snake enclosure, the boy is beaten, he screams and screams . A neighbour capitulates and calls police. The fat man and the woman are arrested. The old wizard stands against the man from the cauldron, but his is no match. Muggles are hunted until they begin to fight back, they target the schools, the children of the Wizarding world. They fight with drugs and chemicals, muggles are vaccinated and are immune to the diseases they are spreading. It take 15 long painful years, but magic still dies.
A group of wizards hunt down the man from the cauldron's tokens. A book. A ring. A locket. A cup. A diadem. The child. The snake. For the Greater Good they are all destroyed, one by one. Even the child. Laws are passed and new rules come in, muggles are friends, they are integrated into Wizarding society, interbreeding becomes required by law. Children are born with weaker and weaker magic. Five generations and strong is the witch or wizard that can light a wand. Schools close, there are no students. Magic is too weak.
The child is taken in the night, by the man from the cauldron's people, he is raised as a son of one of the man's followers. The man rises to rule uncontested by any bar a few, a few lead by the old wizard. The fighting comes to the attention of the muggles, they have devices that can record images and send them all across the world in seconds. Magic is exposed and the witch-hunts begin. Wizard-folk are rounded up and held in small areas, children are taken from parents, muggles experiment on them to find what makes them magical. Once an answer is had, wizards are killed in huge numbers, injected with sleeping drugs and drowned. Less than 10 years after the child's parents are killed, the child dies in the arms of the man in black, the last two wizards left to suffer at the hands of the muggles.
The child is young. Bare weeks have passed since his parents were killed. He lies in the boot cupboard, his is arm broken, his cheeks are sunken, he is hungry, he is dying. It is dark, the middle of the night. There is movement in the hall outside the cupboard. The cupboard door opens, the child is too weak to react. A goblin gestures and the child floats out of the cupboard and into the hallway. The goblin removes something from its pocket. It wipes the something through the blood on the child's face and speaks. It chants quietly for at least a minute. The something changes, it swells and grows arms and legs. When the goblin stops chanting the something looks exactly like the child.
It has the same injuries, it has the same scars, it has the same hair it has the same eyes. The goblin gestures again and the something-that-is-now-the-child is wearing the same rags as the child. With more gestures the something-child is floated into the cupboard and the door closed behind it. The goblin reaches out a bony hand and closes that hand around the child's ankle and with a 'pop' the two vanish.
The scene changes. Gringotts, now. Lucius can see himself talking to the man in black, whom he knows to be Severus Snape. They sit with another man with skin the colour of toffee,, Alexander Gibbon, while the goblin healers work feverishly over the child. The men plot and plan. They must hide the child, no one but they must ever know the child lives. But they must also destroy the man from the cauldron's tokens. The old wizard fears that the man will return, he wants the child to fight for the light, but to also die at the proper moment. Lucius and Severus decide that these things cannot happen.
The child will live, they will see to it. They will change his life and theirs. They will see that magic survives.
The goblins chant and the child gets younger, loosing only weeks, but the watchers can see the difference. The child's forehead splits and a black oozing smoke bubbles out, it screams and hisses, noxious and Dark. More chanting and a potion, his face changes, the features soften like wax. Another potion is given and the child's face changes again. Another potion, another change. More chanting, more potions, more changes. Finally Severus Snape gives the child a potion and his faces changes, his features sharpening and his hair darkening. Snape carries the child as they leave Gringotts, wrapped safely in the man's arms. A dirty street, a dark house. Snape holds the child close and enters the house. Day dawns, the child makes no sound. Snape feeds the child and holds him in his arms, rocking him gently. Days pass, the child grows, Snape smiles at the child as he clings to the man's fingers. The child is crawling, scuttling around a room, his laughter driving the shadows away. The child walks now, waddling after Snape as they walk down a street. A card, 'Happy 5th Birthday' it reads, there's a cake and a training broom. Another card 'On Your 10th Birthday' and a picnic. A letter from Hogwarts.
Mr H Prince
1 SPINNER'S END.
Hogwarts and the sorting hat, the child's tie becomes green and silver. A blonde boy, the one that challenged the old wizard, but his face is younger now, he sits beside the child and points at things. A great hall set with rows of desks, students sitting exams. Graduation, Snape smiles at the child, who's almost a man, now. Another wedding, no redheads to be seen, this time. Snape stands beside Gibbon, both smile. A baby, the child-now-a-man cuddles it close. A toddler runs through a park. Another Hogwarts letter.
Mr C Prince.
1st Bedroom on the Right
The child-now-a-man is older. He sits beside a bed as a very old Snape lays still, his hands bony and weak. Tears run down the now-a-man's face and he holds his wand up, letting the tip light with blue fire.
The now-a-man is old, he is the one laying in a bed, now, still and pale. At his side a man, younger, but with his features. It is this man that holds up a wand, letting blue fire light the room. Outside it is Halloween, witches and wizards walk the street of a magical village, pausing at a ruined house, one by one, they hold their wands up and call on Lady Magic to answer them. The night is filled with light as each wand-tip glows.
The pensieve goes dark and the two watchers are ejected.
Lucius staggers to a seat, his face as pale as milk. Pandora has tear-tracks on her face and she, too, staggers to a seat.
"I have watched that more than a dozen times, trying to convince myself that involving you was not necessary. It is no easier to watch now, than the first time I saw it." She whispered.
"S-Severus… you have to… you have to watch…" Lucius could say no more, he simply pointed at the pensieve.
Snape studied him closely for a few seconds, it was not like Lucius to reaction so strongly… to anything. He slowly approached the pensieve and with a glance at Lucius, who just hung his head in his hands. Snape lowered his head into the pensieve.
It took almost three hours before the pensieve released him. And like Lucius, he was pale and trembling.
"What have we done, Lucius?" He whispered.
"We have followed a madman, Severus."
"Can we stop this?"
"We have to. For our children's sake, if nothing else."
"How? How do we do this?"
Pandora stood and pulled out her wand, she touched it to the surface of the pensive and removed the memories, replacing them back in the phial.
"These are yours, Lucius. I hope you make the right choices. For all our sakes." She left the phial on the desk beside the pensieve. "I shall see myself out, cousin." She curtsied to both men and headed for the room with the floo-fireplace.
"What do we do now?" Snape wondered.
"If we base our actions on that last section of Pandora's vision, we should got to Gringotts."
"Getting the goblins involved? Is that wise?"
"I don't think we have any other options, Severus. It's the goblins that created the replacement body, it was the goblins that removed Potter, it was the goblins that worked to save his life."