A/N: Honestly, the amount of support I received after finishing my first book was amazing. I jumped from being in the fifties for favorites and follows all the way to having nearly 350 and 500 respectively. You guys are all so amazing and I knew you were excited so now that I have a rough image of how I want this story to plan out, I figured I'd post it as soon as I could. Obviously, my outline is very basic, and I normally get really good suggestions in the comments of things people would like to see included so I hope the support continues to help me grow as an author.
As for the Teddy Lupin Story, a few of you gave me some great suggestions like making that story a continuation of this one and instantly, I smacked myself in the forehead for not thinking of something so obviously brilliant. Of course, I had to tweak some things but overall, I think it will come together nicely. Basically this means that I don't have to divert my time between two stories and can continue giving the 'Harry Black Series' my all until it's completion.
P.S: If any of you are artists, maybe you could draw some Fanart of the Characters or Story Moments. You don't have too, but if you do, it'll make creating these book covers much easier haha! I want to credit the artists that I used for my cover, but I can't seem to find their names on the links I got the picture from... but if I use your fanart... it will be easier to credit.
Now that the announcements are out of the way... Let's hop on into Chapter I of Book 2!
Shoutout to my Beta helping me check this chapter SmokeyKabob!
Chapter I: It Slithers in the Dark
How many years? He thought to himself. How long has it been since I was confined to roam this earth as nothing more than a phantom, a shade, a disgraceful apparition? How long was I forced to consume rodents for sustenance, drink from murky waters, and fear for my safety in the weakness of these vessels? The man scowled as he stared at his reflection in the mirror, his new vessel's hand attempting to resist his control. No longer will I be prey. No longer will I be the one living in fear. It may have failed before, but Quirrell was weak and my plan was misguided. This time I will succeed, and the world will tremble before my name once more… Harry Potter, I will kill you.
Water raced down Harry's body as he tried to work the knots and kinks out of his muscles under the heat of the shower. As he placed the palm of his hand below his chin, moving it to the side in order to crack his neck, he couldn't help but chuckle at the absurd intensity of his training with Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore. Luckily for Michael who lived at Grimmauld Place and Neville who visited frequently, after Augusta had agreed to join the New Order of the Phoenix, their training was over after finishing Sirius or Remus' regimen.
He, however, was not as fortunate. His meditation sessions with Dumbledore placed heavy strains on his exhausted mind, and for the first two weeks of the training, he had passed out before the training was complete. 100 mental attacks? Harry thought as he scrubbed himself with the shower sponge shaking his head, That man is insane. Even after a month, the furthest Harry could go was twenty repelled attacks before collapsing. While his occlumency was without a doubt growing stronger, he still had a ways to go as Dumbledore had claimed not to even be using fifty percent of his full power yet.
Still, Sirius and Remus were watchful of the Old Man, and Harry was thankful for their intervention, allowing him free-time to fly around with Michael and Neville, test out the Weasley's gags, and most importantly, some time to write to the Princess. Remus had suggested the use of Kreacher to deliver letters to both Greengrass siblings, as while both Remus and Sirius felt no ill-will towards either Greengrass Sister, their parents were enigmas. Peacetime may have shone on the surface, but every adult in Grimmauld Place, with the inclusion of Harry, knew the truth. War was coming, and a neutral house wasn't worth the risks.
Harry turned off the shower faucet before reaching out into the steam-filled room, grabbing a towel and quickly drying off. Harry looked at himself in the mirror. His hair had grown out a little bit, and while it wasn't as messy as the pictures of his father's hair, his fringed hair had certainly grown messier, with a single strand often falling onto his forehead. He didn't mind much but knew it would bother Daphne to no end.
As he squirted the Cedar and Green Apple cologne to his neck, he couldn't help but think back to the last time he'd seen Daphne in public, the train station. While the feeling of her vanilla-balmed lips pressed against his was certainly a positive, the foul feeling magic radiating from Mr. Greengrass had dampened the mood. Astoria had promised to send him an SOS if anything happened, and from the post he had received from her, she seemed to be doing fine, if a bit lonely.
Harry hoped he'd get more insight into both Greengrass Sisters' lives today as he had planned a very busy schedule. He had agreed to spend his day with Astoria as she prepared for her second year, while at night he had arranged to meet up with Daphne for their Stargazing Show. Slowly he pulled on a salmon-colored tank top he had received from Tonks from a 'The Bent-Winged Snitches' concert she'd gone to the week before, as well as a pair of black shorts before he walked downstairs to find Sirius in the kitchen with Emmeline.
"Padfoot," Emmeline spoke, "When you whisk eggs, you need to tilt the bowl. Otherwise, you're just going to be smacking your eggs for no reason. Honestly, didn't you ever learn how to cook?"
"No," Sirius replied honestly, "Had a House-Elf or the Hogwarts Kitchens all my life. I'm wondering why you learned how to cook?"
"It's therapeutic," Emmeline responded, and Harry could hear the grin on her face. "Plus I'm good at it. Here," she spoke lifting what Harry could only imagine was a completed dish, "eat."
"Holy shit that's good," Sirius spoke in ecstasy, While Harry normally may have assumed he was just trying to talk-up Vance due to his attraction to her, Harry had tried Vance's Beef Wellington one day, and calling it good would have been a tremendous disservice to Vance's talent. It was at that moment Harry had jokingly given Sirius permission to marry her. As someone who loved food, Harry definitely wanted Vance to stick around.
Harry smiled as he heard her laugh. Both Sirius and Emmeline weren't exactly a couple yet, despite the fact that she had nearly become a permanent resident. While Harry didn't want to rush his Godfather, he deeply hoped that Sirius would finally stop being so concerned about the past and try to move forward. Secretly, he wished the same for Remus, who unlike Sirius hadn't even made an attempt at befriending the opposite sex outside of Andromeda and Tonks. He knew his Uncle believed himself too dangerous to be around in 'that sort of way.' Despite all of Harry's, Neville's, Michael's, and Sirius' persistence that his mindset was completely untrue, Remus himself didn't believe it yet.
Harry cursed internally as he stepped on a rickety floorboard of the house. In truth, the house had been disgusting upon first moving in. Since they couldn't hire a team of elves to clean without giving the business the location of the house, the duties of organizing all the disgusting crap in the house fell to its residents. Sirius had barked at Kreacher for refusing to take down certain paintings or clear out Regulus' room, but Harry had helped the two come to a compromise, all the 'Black Family Heritage' that Kreacher wanted to preserve could remain in Regulus' room. Still, even with all their cleaning efforts, the house still needed a lot more work. Of all the things that disturbed him within the house, there was one object that had once been hanging over the fireplace that gave his body chills... The Ancestral Sword of House Black. The weapon was a full hand and a half sword with the blade itself as black as onyx and the hilt a dull brown. The reason it had such a frightening nature was that nobody besides Kreacher with the use of Elf Levitation Magic could even move the sword. When Sirius had attempted to hold it, he claimed it felt as if all the magic was being sucked out of his body. It was clear that it was not destined to be wielded by any user of magic, and yet, it resided in a Pureblood home.
"Harry?" Sirius called out breaking his focus.
"Yeah," Harry spoke a bit nervously, feeling as if he had interrupted something.
Sirius and Emmeline walked out of the kitchen and with a smile Sirius spoke, "What's got you up so early? Normally on free days, you're not up until one in the afternoon."
"True," Harry said with a grin, "but I've got plans to do my back to school shopping with Astoria today before I meet up with Daphne for our date tonight. It's in Muggle London so it should be safe enough."
Sirius nodded but spoke cautiously, "I want you to live your life pup, but don't get careless, especially now. Vance has told me about some rumors going around with Azkaban being understaffed after your Dementor extermination. Many of the inmates were His followers. Have fun, but stay sharp, alright?"
Harry nodded, "If there's any trouble, I'll call Kreacher to get us out of there. We're still using the Black Cottage in Dublin as the transport spot, right?" Sirius nodded and Harry continued with a teasing grin, "Alright, well I would stick around, but I see that you and Em are clearly busy with each other, so I'll be heading out now."
Sirius gave a playful scowl before Emmeline laughed and spoke, "Do you want some breakfast before you go? We made some ham and cheese omelets for everyone."
"That depends," Harry said with a chuckle, "did you make them, or Sirius? I need to know if I'm going to be dying of stomach pains later."
"Watch it pup," Sirius said with a laugh before Harry followed his Godfather and Emmeline into the kitchen. The joy he felt as he bit into one of Vance's omelets had made Harry feel certain that there weren't many better ways to start the day than with Em's food.
On any other occasion, had you told Astoria that she'd be seeing her big brother come morning, she would be ecstatic. But when her oddly acting father and Lucius Malfoy were having a private discussion in her father's study a few doors down relaxing was a near impossibility. When Astoria felt her father's magic at the train station, she couldn't believe it was the same man. Her father had always been a cold man, but the magic she sensed didn't feel cold. It felt malicious.
Malfoy was only the most recent in the list of visitors; Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, so many high ranking members of wizarding society asking for closed-door sessions with her father. Despite her curiosity, her fear had kept her locked away in her room. But now, with the casting of the Dark Mark last year, and many 'suspected' Death Eaters entering and leaving her house, she couldn't let any more opportunities slip by. "I will always encourage my cubs to do what they believe is right," Astoria recalled from her conversation with Professor McGonagall. With a deep breath, she pointed her wand at her feet and muttered, "Quietus."
Harry wouldn't be afraid, Astoria thought to herself, and slowly, under the cover of the large manor's darkness, she approached her father's study. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she placed her ear against the cold wooden door, knowing the danger the man on the other side presented, but she quickly silenced herself, biting down hard on her thumb to keep her cool as she listened.
"How do you know he's coming back?" Her father had spoken in a low voice. "Many believe he was defeated for good."
"Many are wrong," Lucius hissed. "I've come offering you one last chance to join the right side. I'm sure the others have already filled you in on your initiation procedure. The twenty-fifth of August, I hope you choose wisely."
"Can He- are you certain He has the power to give me what I want?" Her father spoke softly, in a less appalled voice than Astoria would have hoped for. In fact, her father sounded rather mystified in his question.
"He has the power to bend the world to his will," Lucius spoke. "Make yourself useful to Him, and He will reward you beyond your wildest dreams, after He's won of course." There was a slight pause in their conversation, and for a moment, Astoria wanted to run. She wanted Harry here, she wanted her sister here. The blood in her head was pounding and every muscle in her body screamed for her to flee, but she had to stay, as Lucius continued, "You're a good man Jonathan, it would be a shame if you were to be exterminated, especially with your daughters so close to that boy. Save yourself and your wife. You can always have more kids… obedient ones."
"Of course, yes. The 25th of August, I'll be there," her father replied in a monotone voice.
The sound of chairs being pulled out had sent Astoria into a frenzy and hoping her quieting charm held its effect, she rushed back to her room, her hands trembling from the action and information she had just been witness to. It can't be true, Astoria thought to herself. He can't be coming back. Father, she thought to herself sadly, would you really become one of them?
Despite her best efforts, sleep hadn't come to grip her, and Astoria remained motionless, curled up in her bed as she attempted to digest the information she had heard. No amount of relief had compared to how she felt as she saw the sun emerge from behind the mountain range through her window, and instantly, she began preparing to leave the house. Quickly she showered, before pulling her hair into a loose ponytail, throwing on her cut-up black shirt and red boho shorts, and sliding into her sandals before vanishing with a call for Dobby, the elf that Daphne had left to watch over her during the summer, to Diagon Alley. There were many things about her upbringing that were less than fortunate, but with a household of people pretending she didn't exist, disappearing was quite easy.
Astoria patted down her pockets as she arrived, ensuring she hadn't lost any of the galleons that had been tossed at her by her father in order to 'keep up appearances'. As she concluded that each coin was accounted for, she took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself before walking towards the meet-up point, Quality Quidditch Supplies. Astoria had known she was early, but time seemed to completely elude her as she looked through the windowpane at all the protective gear, custom ball sets, and freshly crafted brooms that adorned the walls of the building.
For a moment, her anxiety seemed to cease, until instantly she flinched, re-entering high alert mode as a hand made contact with her head. Quickly, she turned around and stared at the figure before her. She breathed a sigh of relief before swatting at him, "Don't sneak up on me like that! You scared the crap out of me!"
"Sorry, sorry," Harry laughed apologetically. "You're a little jumpy this morning though, aren't you, Short-Stack?"
"I actually grew a bit this summer," Astoria said, her cheeks filling up in her balloon-like pout.
"Like an inch," Harry teased before allowing his face to fall into a look of serious reflection. "Still, that doesn't explain why you look like you didn't sleep and are a bit over-reactive. Are you okay?"
"I um… I don't know," Astoria spoke tiredly before her stomach growled loudly, causing Harry to stare at her with a bit of perplexity. "Sorry, I'm really hungry, I'll tell you about what happened, but can we get breakfast first?"
"Do you have the money for breakfast?" Harry asked a bit concerned as Astoria shook her head guiltily knowing she only had enough for school supplies and a few elective choices. Harry replied with a sigh, "Alright Short-Stack, I'll buy you breakfast, but please try not to make me poor over the course of one meal."
Astoria smiled for the first time in a while as she nodded, and together, both she and Harry walked towards the Leaky Cauldron, desperate for both breakfast and the need to remove the weight of the information she'd acquired from her chest. In all honesty, Astoria had always found the Leaky Cauldron sort of, well, gross. The place itself felt so ominous as she and Harry approached from the rear entrance, which despite the warm glow of summer always felt cold. Even though Astoria knew it was purposely designed in a way to prevent Muggles from entering, the broken-down old pub never made her feel super comfortable.
However, even with the dark and shabby atmosphere and the strong feeling of musk in the air, the aroma of the pub carried a delightful scent of crust rising for the steak and kidney pies, as well as the brewing of a myriad of soups ranging from familiar scents like tomato bisque to things that smelled rather unfamiliar, but not at all unpleasant. The pub was pretty empty all things considered. Of course, there were people eating, but Astoria had assumed most were simply residents of the pub waking up early enough to catch the breakfast menu, which was surprisingly muggle-inspired. Yet as soon as she and Harry had been spotted, the little movement that occurred in the building came to a complete stop.
Astoria quickly gripped Harry's arm in reflex as all the eyes in the store began to focus on him. Her eyes then shifted to behind the bar as a man with a hunched-back and remarkably bald head moved towards the two of them with an awkward smile taking over his toothless face. "Harry Potter, it's good to see you again. Please, let me know if there's anything I can get you."
It hit Astoria like a crashing wave on the shoreline. She had spent an entire year around Harry, and while at first, the shimmering view of the Boy-Who-Lived had secretly entranced her, Harry had become more of a big brother than a hero to her. But to others, especially those who had never seen Harry in person, it was almost like looking at a god. The boy who killed the Dark Lord, the boy who survived the killing curse, the boy who lived.
"Right," Harry said with a smile, "well, um, Tom. Can we get some breakfast menus please, and if you don't mind, I'll pay in advance. If I don't, I feel that this one," he said tilting his head towards Astoria, "will run me out of Galleons."
"Of course, of course," Tom said with a deep bow. "But please, keep your money. it's no good here."
"I can't take advantage of you like that," Harry replied sincerely, but Tom wanted to hear none of it.
"Please, I'd say you've done the wizarding world enough of a service to enjoy a free breakfast. Just let me know when you're ready to order."
Harry sighed in defeat, and within minutes, Astoria stared down at her bacon, eggs, and waffles in glee as she poured on her syrup. Astoria was thankful that Harry had simply watched in silence, allowing her to finish her plate before he asked gently, "Alright Short-Stack, what happened?"
Astoria told him. She told him about her father's strange behavior, his meetings with a barrage of former death eaters, and most disturbingly she told him of the 'initiation ceremony' that was slated for August 25th. As she finished her tirade, she watched as Harry bit down on his piece of toast before mumbling, "Interesting."
She wasn't sure why, but the level of calm Harry had presented at that moment had shocked her. If the former Death Eaters were planning something, she was certain Harry would have had a bigger reaction, and yet, he looked so focused and entranced in his thoughts.
"You said it was Malfoy Sr. that delivered the message, right?" he asked.
"He was the last one to come, yes," Astoria spoke firmly. "If you don't mind me asking, why did you say it was interesting?"
"The Death Eaters," Harry spoke bitterly, "they aren't particularly brave people. Those not rotting in Azkaban escaped by throwing other members of the organization under the bus or pleading innocence due to the Imperius Curse. Being Purebloods, many of them enjoy a life of luxury and power within the Ministry. If what you believe is true, and they are planning an attack, it's because something or someone has given them the confidence to act."
"But who could give them the support they needed to mobilize?" Astoria spoke now pondering her own thoughts before fear shone in her eyes. "You don't think- you don't think You-Know-Who's coming back do you?"
Astoria watched in horror as she desperately prayed for Harry to reassure her that she was wrong in her assumptions, but that prayer was never answered as she watched Harry slowly raise his hand and place his palm over his jagged scar.
"I don't know what's going on for sure, Astoria," Harry said in a chilling voice, "but I don't like it."
A/N: Well, that's the first chapter down, and I hope you all enjoyed it. I know many of you were hoping to see the Princess this chapter, but be patient, she'll be in the next one haha. At least you got to see my personal favorite character Astoria in this chapter, and since she is my favorite, I'm a bit biased in the amount of page time I give her : P. Anyways, my goal this book is to set up plotlines so they don't become so forced and do more showing than telling, this chapter's a bit of an exception because it's the intro chapter, but still... here's to progress. If you enjoyed this chapter, please be sure to Follow, Favorite, and Review! Until Next Time, Peace!
ALSO: I'm in need of a Beta so if any of you want to edit my chapters for me and tell me if things are making sense, PM me, we can even discord and things, it'll be cool!