This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by
JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to
Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner
Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark
infringement is intended.
Author Notes: Welcome to the ride. . . Reviews, comments, suggestions are all welcome and so are criticism and flames – I'll rise to the challenge.
For Cruisers: No ships sailing yet in this fic, but bear in mind that this fic will invariably lead to H/Hr (thanks to the hopeless HMS Pumpkin-pier in me!)
Dedicated to the die-hard HP Fan-fiction readers and writers all over the world. Fandom rules!!!
Harry Potter and The Sacred Alliance
It was a hot July afternoon in Little Whinging, as a skinny bespectacled underage wizard with untidy jet-black hair was doing something no wizard would ever do – watching television. If you count dozing off on the couch in front of The Matrix, mouth falling open, as watching television. Rarely did Harry Potter ever get the whole of Number 4, Privet Drive to himself without being locked alone in his bedroom or, more likely, in the cupboard under the stairs.
Having to visit a wedding ceremony in London, Harry's uncle and aunt, Vernon and Petunia Dursley, remembering Moody's warning, were forced to leave him alone in the house. A very reluctant Dudley had gone too, although he would have preferred to pick up another fight with the gang from the neighboring locality. Free to do whatever he wanted for the evening, Harry had decided to spend the time watching the Muggle movie The Matrix from Dudley's DVD collection, if not for the Muggle paranoia surrounding the film, then at least to keep his mind free of other things. Unlike the normal teenager wizard who worried over school results, girls, the Quidditch League, brooms and so on, Harry Potter had to cope with much more. The recent happenings in the wizarding world. The rise of Voldemort. The prophecy. Sirius. Harry tried his best to keep these thoughts away during daytime (As if the nightly doses in nightmares weren't enough!) by scrutinizing the Daily Prophet, reading up his school books, completing his homework and indulging in Muggle hobbies like reading fiction. Hermione really ought to be impressed, he had thought.
The front door of the house, which had been twice locked by the Dursleys, burst open, jerking Harry awake from his peaceful slumber, which was itself a rarity in the life of Harry Potter. The dream had been of a martial-expert-Harry tackling dozens of suit-wearing Death Eaters with a gun shooting laser bolts looking remarkably like stunning spells, all mind controlled by the artificial intelligence known as You-Know-Who. Shaking of the dream, Harry stopped for a moment to wonder why the heroine was looking like a cross between Cho and Hermione (What the hell am I dreaming of!?) before he remembered the source of the interruption.
Not expecting the Dursleys to be back so soon, Harry cautiously went over to the front door, wand out. A tired-looking middle-aged man with light brown hair, flecked with gray, was standing at the door, the wand that had opened the door held in an out-stretched hand.
Harry gaped in surprise before blurting out, "Lupin!?"
Remus Lupin had taught Defense Against the Dark Arts to Harry's class in Hogwarts before he was sacked when it got out that he was a were-wolf. He had also been a close friend of Harry's father James and Sirius Black. Beside him stood another ex-DADA teacher, 'Mad-Eye' Moody, who had spent the major part of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts locked in a trunk, while an impostor disguised as him taught his classes.
"Hello Harry, how are you doing?"
Lupin tried to smile, but barely succeeded. Harry guessed that Lupin, like himself, wasn't taking the loss of Sirius, in addition to the turmoil that the wizarding world was in, well. Moody, unsurprisingly, didn't even attempt a smile.
"Evening Potter! A good idea to keep that wand out. We are taking you Mrs. Figg's house," growled Moody, his magical eye taking in each-inch of the Dursleys' house.
"So why are you here?" said Harry.
"This place is not secure lately . . ." Lupin answered.
"But Dumbledore said that this house is safe!"
"Of course it is! But once you are outside the compound, you're on your own," said Moody.
"Harry, there has been an attack, but we cannot say much here," added Lupin in a low voice. "We'll explain at Mrs. Figg's. We'll have enough time until your aunt and uncle return."
"But first . . ." said Moody gruffly, tapping his wand over Harry, "I'm going to Disillusion you."
Harry felt a familiar sensation as if a cold liquid was trickling down his body. A moment later he found himself taking the exact appearance of whatever was behind him.
"OK follow me, Harry, while Moody will take up the rear."
Harry did as he was told, wondering sulkingly why two grown-up escorts were required to accompany him for the short walk to old Mrs. Figg's house. As if he couldn't take care of himself. But his thoughts soon traveled to Mrs. Arabella Figg's house, which he hadn't visited for the past few years. He used to spend his holidays there at a younger age when the Dursleys went away in vacation.
The house looked same as before, old and slightly battered. Mrs. Figg, a batty old squib, was talking animatedly with one of her pet cats, whom she called 'Mr. Tibbles'. She greeted Harry with a warm smile.
"Hello Mrs. Figg. Er . . . I never thanked you for standing as witness for me in the hearing . . ." Harry greeted her, unsure of what to say.
"Don't mention it Harry! Your mother was a very good friend of mine . . . a fine young lady she was," at this she started sniffing into a handkerchief. Harry did not feel like continuing the conversation.
He couldn't have even if he wanted to, since to his astonishment, he found the face of the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, smiling at him from the fireplace. Harry had been very much enraged by Dumbledore's attitude towards him and Sirius the year before, which were in fact intended to protect them. He was a little ashamed of the outburst that this had culminated to in Dumbledore's office, with Harry practically demolishing the office in his anger.
Dumbledore was currently giving instructions to Lupin and Moody. Harry caught something about Ministry officials being present in the area and Mundungus Fletcher being in hospital, before Moody, Lupin and Figg exited from the front door ("See you later Harry!"), leaving him alone with Dumbledore's head.
"Good evening Harry. I assume you have calmed since our – ah – discussion in my office last month."
Dumbledore's eyes lacked the nearly ever-present twinkle, which, Harry thought, was either due to some grave crisis that had just taken place, or because he was disappointed with Harry's behavior. Harry sincerely hoped it was the first reason, and then mentally kicked himself for such selfish thinking.
"Hello Professor. I am sorry for loosing my temper like that . . ."
"No Harry, I am the one who should apologize for keeping you uninformed. But I am here to discuss more urgent matters. As you may have guessed from my conversation with Remus and Alastor, there has been a Death Eater attack on Mundungus when he was on his way to Little Whinging from London. He managed to escape but it seems that they knew he was in charge of your protection. Ministry Aurors have stationed in your area to be on the lookout for Death Eaters."
Harry gulped as Dumbledore paused for the news to sink in. If the Daily Prophet was to be believed, this had to be the first Death Eater attack after the skirmish in the Department of Mysteries three weeks ago. But that brought back memories of Sirius' death, so Harry shut that thought out. At least this explained why he had been escorted by Lupin and Moody. But he hadn't seen any Aurors, so they must be under Disillusionment charms, he thought, as he was now under. Or Invisibility Cloaks.
"But how did Fletcher escape?" asked Harry.
"As you know, Mundungus is a member of the Order. We have methods of knowing when a member is under attack from the enemy which Voldemort didn't know of. I contacted Fudge, who apparated ministry Aurors to the location. Since the Death Eaters were few – they do not generally come out before the dark – Mundungus was able to defend himself until the Aurors arrived."
"But why . . ."
"You must understand Harry, that time is running short and I'm sure your questions will be answered when the time comes. You may have remembered that Voldemort failed in possessing you for long in the Ministry hall. The power that drove him out also diminished his Legilimency powers, but he will regain them soon. Hence it is of utmost importance that you are capable of Occlumency before he recovers his former ability to delve into your mind.
"From what Professor Snape has informed me, I gather that you can fight off the Legilimency curse on your own, which similar to resisting the Imperious curse. But it is important to learn to clear your mind of all thoughts – this prevents the curse from affecting you when your consciousness is weak, like when you are asleep, when it is not possible to resist. Unlike what you think, this will not stop you from experiencing Voldemort's true emotions, unless he himself practices Occlumency. Occlumency is similar to what Muggles call Meditation. It will shut off your own feelings from Voldemort and prevent any magical influence including forced visions from reaching your mind."
That was news to Harry. "You mean if I practiced Occlumency, I'd still have seen myself as the snake attacking Mr. Weasley?"
"Yes you would, unless Voldemort was able to prevent it from reaching you by practicing Occlumency himself." Dumbledore smiled. "Occlumency will not seal your mind from true visions. You will have to practice clearing your mind of all thoughts. You can do this twice a day – once before you sleep at night and again just after you wake up in the morning. This will also help in having dreamless sleep, which I daresay you are lacking very much."
Harry nodded. He would give anything to stop the dreams that he witnessed in his sleep. He would have mentally cursed Snape for not explaining Occlumency to him, but caught himself as he remembered that anger, even directed towards Snape, would only cloud his mind.
"Now I have other matters to attend to," Dumbledore broke into Harry's thoughts. "I expect you will take this practice seriously."
"I promise I will Professor."
"Your aunt and uncle will be back in a short time. Remus and Alastor are waiting for you outside to accompany you back to your house. I know you may dislike this, but you must not roam outside your house alone especially after dark, as the protection that runs through you and your aunt's blood is only effective inside the house."
Harry knew the protection Dumbledore was referring to; it was the result of his mother sacrificing her life in order to protect him from Voldemort when he was baby. It was the reason Dumbledore had insisted Harry to stay in his aunt Petunia Dursley's house (who was his mother's only alive blood relation) during summer, even though the Dursleys' disliked him with all their heart.
A major part of Harry's anger and frustration, that was directed towards Dumbledore and Harry's friends the year before, was the direct result of him being stuck in the Dursleys' house all summer without a drop of news from the wizarding world.
But if the weeks after Sirius' death brought a change in Harry, then that was in controlling his temper. He perfectly knew the danger in roaming the streets after dark – only last year he and his cousin Dudley had almost been soul-sucked by two Dementors right there in Little Whinging. And the recent attack on Mundungus Fletcher only aggravated the risks.
"I understand, Professor" was all he could say.
Harry caught a flicker in Dumbledore's eyes as his head left the fireplace – unless mistaken, Harry could only recognize it as pride.
* * *
Two days passed since Harry's meeting
with Dumbledore. The digital clock on the desk read 11:45 PM. Harry
was staring blankly, quill in hand, at a 3 foot long parchment under
a lamp-shade, empty except a bold heading that read "USES OF
METALS IN POTIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS". However, Potions where
the last things on his mind.
' . . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . .' The words of the prophecy still burnt like fire in his memory. It did explain a lot of things to Harry – why Voldemort had tried to kill him while he was a baby – his destiny was to kill Voldemort or to die in the attempt. '. . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not . . .' What power did he have that could he have that Voldemort didn't?
Dumbledore had mentioned a force, locked somewhere in the Department of Mysteries, that was more wonderful than human intelligence, more powerful than the forces of nature, and more terrible than death. It was this force that had saved Harry from Voldemort possessing him. Harry drooled, pondering over the nature of this elusive force; his Potions essay lay untouched.
Harry suddenly found himself in a deserted alley, bordered by lamp posts, none of which were glowing. From the square houses that surrounded the alley, Harry judged that it was a Muggle neighborhood. The were was an eerie quietness in the moonlit atmosphere. Apparently it was very late into the night. No lights were lit in any of the houses.
Harry had never seen this place before, yet he somehow knew where to go. He moved – but he wasn't walking – he was slithering. He could feel his fangs, dripping with poison. Adrenaline pumping with excitement through his veins, he swiftly neared the house. He needed to get inside the house. He proceeded towards the door – there were letters on the nameplate – they somehow sounded familiar – GRANGER.
The scar on Harry's forehead exploded with piercing pain. He abruptly brought up his hand to cover his scar, but in the darkness his hand came in contact with the bulb socket of the lamp instead, giving him a nasty electric shock, which doubled the pain in his scar. A moment later electric power to the whole of Little Whinging was cutoff.
For a few seconds Harry groped about in the darkness, trying to recover from his trance, until his eyes adjusted to the darkness in his bedroom. Harry was sure that the vision he had seen was for real – the feeling was exactly the same as that he had while seeing the attack on Mr. Weasley. Hermione and her parents were in danger; he had to contact Dumbledore without wasting a second.
Harry tried to keep his head cool and think (which required quite an effort considering his scar was still screaming with pain) . . . An owl would take too much time . . . but he could go to Mrs. Figg's – it would take less than a minute if he ran. Grabbing his wand, Harry quietly rushed down to the main door, making sure the Dursleys were asleep. They were sound sleepers – a power failure in the middle of the night had little effect on their slumber. Harry guessed that it was well past midnight.
Silently opening the front door, Harry ran as fast as he could towards Mrs. Figg's house without creating a racket. Devoid of electricity, Privet Drive was plunged into darkness, somewhat similar to what he had seen in the vision. Harry narrowly missed bumping headlong into a lamp-post. The streets were empty of any sign of life.
Although it was difficult in the darkness, Harry finally reached Mrs. Figg's house and knocked on the door. He waited for ten seconds before knocking again. Still no answer. He was getting impatient. He knocked thrice more, louder each time, pressing his ears onto the door, but could not hear any movement. The emotion that gripped Harry could be described in one word – PANIC. God Dammit! Think straight, he pleaded with his brain, which was currently having the direction sense of a bat trapped in a rock concert hall.
In a moment, he made up his mind. He'd have to go to the Granger's house himself. He quickly made his way back to 4, Privet Drive, examining his plan for flaws. He'd already broken his word to Dumbledore about not venturing out of the Dursleys' house after dark. If there were Death Eaters lurking about, then they would have already come for him.
Coming back to his bedroom, Harry grabbed his school bag, which always contained his money bag, invisibility cloak and map, put in his broom – he didn't know why he needed it, but took it nevertheless – and ran out stealthily to the street. The Dursleys' undisturbed snores still filled the house.
Time was running out . . . at least five minutes had passed since he had woken up. Not knowing exactly what to do, Harry held out his wand meekly, as if hailing a cab – an action that would have been quite normal to a Muggle observer, if not for the fact that the street was practically deserted of cabs, or for that matter, any human presence. Just when Harry was about to give up, a starkly purple colored triple-decker bus appeared out of thin air in front of him, 'The Knight Bus' written in gold letters over its windshield.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Stan Shunpike at you ser . . . Oi! If it ain't young Harry Potter . . ." the conductor began. From his previous experiences, Harry knew that calling Stan 'talkative' would be an understatement.
"Hello Stan," Harry said, showing him Hermione's address in a slip of paper, "I need to get here urgently. I'm willing to pay higher for a really quick trip."
Stan read the slip, muttering something than sounded like "Muggle address" and handed it over to the driver.
"No problem Harry, come on aboard! We have just one other passenger, you see business is . . . "
"How much?" Harry cut him off again, climbing aboard, while the bus started with a jerk. Harry paid the required galleons and sat in a chair, glancing at his Muggle wrist-watch in his impatience to count off the seconds. However, the second hand was not moving at all. Just what I needed now – my watch getting stuck. Frustrated, he was about to ask Stan the time, before he remembered that wizards generally didn't wear personal Muggle time-pieces – students being an exception. He'd worry about his malfunctioning watch later.
The trip to the Granger's house, which would have taken more than an hour on Muggle transport, took a little more than a minute – partly because the roads were empty, but mostly due to the fact that the bus apparated most of the way. The driver seemed to have taken Harry's extra pay to heart. Yet, on reaching his destination, Harry was forced to fight away the disquieting thought that he could be too late.
All the street lights were off, just as Harry had seen in his vision; a large power blackout seemed to have occurred – but Harry had other worries to ponder upon. He scrutinized his surroundings, trying to relate them with his vision, which was tough job considering that the vision was from the point of view of a snake, the darkness not helping the task at all. Eventually he recognized the house that the snake had been heading for – it was located just opposite the one he had been facing.
In a few quick strides Harry reached the front door, his heart beating madly, and his eyes caught the nameplate, shining in the moonlight bearing the words "Granger". So far the vision was corresponding with reality. But so had been the vision about Sirius in the Department of Mysteries . . . Doubts formed in his mind if this was just another of Voldemort's tricks . . . But then why hadn't he been attacked yet? Brushing off his thoughts aside, Harry concentrated on the task at hand.
For a moment, Harry contemplated searching the house compound for slithering creatures – but if there had been a snake then it would have found an opening into the house by now. A picture flashed into his mind of a poisonous snake crawling on a bed. Trying his best to ignore it, Harry knocked sharply on the door and waited. This knocking business, brought about by the lack of electricity, was getting to his nerves.
No reply came. Swearing under his breath, Harry knocked louder. No movement . . . just when he was about to consider using magic to force open the door he heard someone walking inside. His heart gave a leap of relief as the door opened to reveal a middle-aged man holding a candle. It took a few moments for Harry to recognize Mr. Granger in the flickering candle-light, whom he had last seen at King's Cross.
There was an edge to Mr. Granger's voice which instantly made Harry feel guilty for disturbing them in the middle of the night for a vision he realized might just be a hoax.
"Hello Mr. Granger, er . . . I'm Hermione's friend from school, Harry Potter."
Harry felt Mr. Granger's scrutinizing gaze before he caught a look of recognition grazing the man's eyes. He thanked his stars that Muggle's didn't read the Daily Prophet. He wouldn't have rejoiced at the idea of Hermione's parents thinking they were anything more than friends.
"Who is it dear?" came a woman's voice, which Harry guessed belonged to Hermione's mother, from above the stairs.
"It's a friend of Hermione's", Mr. Granger replied back before addressing Harry a little more warmly than before, "Well good to see you Harry. Hermione speaks a lot about you, but she's not here. What brings you here at this time of the night?"
The fact that Hermione wasn't here was news to Harry. But he stopped himself from wondering about her whereabouts, as her absence meant that he would be alone in battling the snake if he had to – he shivered at the thought – he had tried to avoid thinking how he would tackle the snake on his own, considering that it was being possessed by Voldemort, and it did not help matters that underage wizards weren't allowed to do magic unless it was a life threatening situation. Scratch that . . . unless the ministry believed that it was a life threatening situation – only the previous year Harry had to face a full-fledged trial for expulsion from Hogwarts when he had used a Patronus charm to save his cousin and himself from being soul-sucked by two Dementors.
"Well . . . Mr. Granger, you might think that this is just a joke, but it's not. This is really important – I've just had a vision of a magical snake – it's possessed by Vol . . . well a dark lord – Hermione may have told you about him. I saw the snake heading towards your house in my vision. I tried to contact the school headmaster but I couldn't. So I came here to warn you."
Harry now wished that it would all turn out to be a mistake, foolhardy though it might make him seem to Hermione's parents, and he could go back to the Dursleys after saying his apologies.
"Hold on a second – you're saying that there's a dangerous snake lurking about here, and he's being controlled by a dark lord – do you mean Voldemort?" Mr. Granger said coolly.
Harry nodded. "Then Hermione must have told you about him. Please sir, you've got to believe me . . . "
But as if on cue the stillness was shattered by a scream from the above. The look of coolness on Mr. Granger's face was instantly replaced by a look of horror as he rushed towards what Harry made out to be the staircase in the dim light. Harry followed suit, his heart pounding madly.
On reaching upstairs, Harry held out his wand and whispered "Lumos". This was a life-threatening situation enough – expulsion or no expulsion. He gasped at the sight that met him – a 6 foot long serpent was slowly crawling towards Mrs. Granger trapped in a corner of the doorway. She looked petrified with shock.
Harry's scar was throbbing madly, and this was nothing like the usual – almost constant – irritation in the scar that he had been experiencing ever since the Vodemort's redemption a year ago. This extreme pain was something he only experienced when Voldemort – or apparently a creature possessed by him – was nearby. It was making thinking nearly impossible.
A few seconds elapsed before Harry realized that he would have to divert attention of the snake away before it struck at Mrs. Granger. Mr. Granger was having no luck even after shouting at the top of his lungs. Then it came to him – he was a Parselmouth. He concentrated at the snake before opening his mouth to speak.
"Leave her alone! I'm the one you want." he hissed.
The snake turned abruptly towards Harry at the words, which were unintelligible to humans. Its green eyes glittered eerily in the darkness. It slithered toward him baring its fangs, which here dripping with venom.
"Well, well well . . . how nice to see you Harry! Although your presence here is not at all unexpected . . . in fact . . ." and the snake broke off, a look of triumph gleaming in its eyes.
Harry could have recognized that venomous tone anywhere. What did he mean by expecting Harry?
"Voldemort," he spat, still speaking in Parsel-tongue, "What do you –"
But he was cutoff by a sudden jerk as a strong hand clasped his collar from behind.
"What do you think are you doing, boy?" Mr. Granger growled.
Harry was taken aback by the sudden hostility in his voice but regained his senses when he realized how suspicious hissing to the snake looked – in his second year all the students in school except Ron and Hermione had believed him to be the Heir of Slytherin just because he could speak Parsel-tongue.
He was about to come up with a convincing response when several things happened in quick succession. The green-eyed snake, taking full advantage of the chance offered to it, lunged at Harry's wand arm. Harry barely managed to pull his hand out of the way before its fangs sunk into his trousers, leaving an intense stinging sensation just below his knee. Meanwhile Mr. Granger had let go off Harry's collar and brought a glass vessel, which he had been supposedly holding in his free hand, crashing down on the snake's skull – or where it had been a moment ago as it instantly veered away from the danger area.
Harry stared at his right knee, as blood seeped out, socking his trousers. He pulled up his trouser to inspect the wound, two deep circular marks made by the poisonous fangs. He would have only a handful of minutes before the poison spread through his bloodstream, which would surely be fatal.
"See how these stupid Muggles treat you Harry? You risk your life for them and what do they you pay in return? Join me Harry and I'll make your life worthwhile." Voldemort was enjoying the game.
"If you think I'll join you Voldemort, then you probably need a mental check-up." Harry hissed back through gritted teeth.
But a stab of excruciating pain filled his right knee. He knew that he would have to be admitted to St. Mungo's immediately, if he was to have a chance of survival. He doubted if he'd reach a Muggle hospital in time, let alone a wizarding one. Yet he couldn't give up now; if he did, none of them would live. And then it struck him.
Not wasting a second, Harry pulled out the pocket-knife Sirius had given him, and sliced away the flesh around the wound, which was now bleeding profusely. Trying his best to ignore the pain, Harry yelled "Stupefy! Stupefy! STUPEFY!" But the snake expertly dodged all the stunning spells emerging from Harry's wand. The next moment it turned towards Mrs. Granger who, showing admirable courage, had almost flattened its tail by a lamp-shade.
Harry knew this was his chance. Working up all his concentration, he yelled "Impedimenta!" The snake was blasted away a good three feet through the air, landing in a heap in the corner opposite to the one Mrs. Granger was standing in. Harry cautiously crept up to the snake, to be able to aim a stunning spell. But the snake had not given up yet. Just as Harry got within striking distance, it lunged straight for his throat, fangs outstretched for the kill.
However, Harry was prepared this time. His stunning spell hit the snake right in between its eyes and it slumped to the ground harmlessly. It was then that he noticed the dark red color that the right half of his trousers had taken before he passed out.