A/N – Well, here it is, the sequel to Harry Potter and the Power of Truth. For those of you who were so wonderful in your support, I thank you. First the sequel, then, maybe, the prequel.
For those of you who haven't read HPPT, this story will make a LOT more sense if you do.
Chapter One: The Return
Hermione Granger surveyed the scene from where she hid behind a large rock. The sky was overcast. It hadn't rained in days, which for this area just south of London at this time of year, was odd. Rain was always just a matter of time here.
As she turned to her left, where Ron was laying against a log, catching his breath after his mad dash across the field, she smiled. Sometimes, he was such a little boy. His eyes sparkled with excitement; he was eager to return to the fight.
Which might prove to be sooner than they expected, Hermione thought as her eye moved to a point behind him.
"Ron! Behind you!" Hermione took aim at the figure in black behind him, and fired over his head, barely missing him if the look on his face was anything to go by.
"What in the bloody hell are you doing?" he yelled.
"Saving your skin, you git! Duck!" she yelled back, not even bothering to glance at him.
Ron ducked, barely in time as the whizzing noise past his ear proved.
"Bloody hell, Mione!" he scrambled to his feet.
"Ron!" Hermione's eyes widened, and he turned, taking the yellow blast directly in his face. He stumbled, then fell, coming to rest on his back.
Hermione scrambled over to him, shaking him by the shoulder. "You stupid, stupid man! Why in Merlin's name did you stand up?"
"Because," he said, looking up at her from his prone position, "You were shooting at me."
"How, exactly, does that make any sense at all?" she asked with a smile as he sat up. They heard the buzzer go and, moments later, the others came running from their various hiding spots.
"That," Fred puffed. "Was brilliant!"
Ron, wiping yellow paint from his face, grimaced.
"Why didn't they have paintball when we were kids?" George was grinning happily. "This is amazing! Hey, Ron, you're yellow."
Hermione giggled as she helped Ron to this feet. He eyed her for a moment, then, with a wicked look, pulled her tightly to him, kissing her hard. When she finally pulled away, breathless, she too was covered in yellow paint.
"You know, Ron, you're supposed to avoid the paintballs..." Lee Jordan snickered. "Not jump up in front of them."
"Yeah, yeah, yuk it up," Ron said dryly. "Come on, let's head back home. Mum will have dinner ready soon, and I'm starved."
Apparating back to Potter Manor, they found Molly and Arthur in the kitchen. Molly was fussing over dinner while Arthur fussed over Harry and Ginny's twins, Lily Mione and Jamie.
Ginny sat at the kitchen table, checking over some papers. Her job, heading up Muggle Admissions at Hogwarts, took up a lot of her time, but most of it she could do from home, and she loved it.
"Ronald Weasley!" Molly exclaimed. "What in Merlin's name happened to you?"
"He took one for the gipper, Mum," George said, lifting a pot lid on the stove and sniffing appreciatively. "Dinner ready?"
"George, put that down! Get out of there!" Molly scolded, turning from her youngest son to swat at the twin.
"But, Mum, we've been playing hard and now we're hungry," George complained. "And Angelina has a class tonight and..."
"I know," Molly said. "And dinner will be ready shortly, but you're not sitting down to the table in this house in that state. Go on, showers and change, the lot of you!"
Hermione glanced at the clock.
"Early dinner tonight, Molly?" She asked, noting it was only five oclock.
"Harry's called a meeting of the Order, love," Molly explained. "I thought you knew?"
Ron glanced at her. "No, we didn't. Where is Harry?"
"In his den," Ginny said absently, "But he's on the phone with Minerva, so leave him alone."
"What's going on, Gin?" Ron asked solemnly. Harry hadn't called a meeting of the Order in months.
"Don't know," she wrote something on the paper in front of her before looking up at her brother. "He's been pensive for a couple of days. I know something's wrong but... well, I don't know what's going on, but we'll know in a couple of hours."
Ron nodded, following Hermione from the room.
"Well?" she asked. "What's going on?"
"No idea," Ron said, heading up the stairs towards the shower. He didn't, either, but he intended to find out.
Right after he washed away the yellow paint.
Harry paced in his den. He'd just gotten off the phone. Every Order member was contacted, all would be there.
Now he had to figure out how to tell them.
As he paced, he thought about the prophecy, as it had been revealed. Was it a prophecy? Who knew? All he knew was that it had been totally out of character for... the person who gave it. And he obviously remembered nothing of it.
And Harry had been the only one there at the time. He'd reviewed it, again and again, watched it from all angles, thanking Dumbledore again and again for his seventh-year gift of a pensieve.
And still he didn't fully understand. But the part he did understand, he was tired of. When was this going to finally end? It had been going on for... well, forever, really. But since about 1955 for this round. There had been a seventeen year break, but the Death Eaters had still been around... one too many Death Eaters, it would seem.
When would it end? The original prophecy, the one about him, had said that he would be the one to expel this wickedness from their world, but how many times did he have to do it?
Harry was tired. He just wanted to live a normal life with his family around him, raise his children with his wife, and worry about things like the stock market and inflation, not about Dark Lords and their minions attempting world domination.
He'd worried about that since shortly after his eleventh birthday. Almost twenty six years. He wanted it to be done and over with.
So this time, he must make sure that not only was this new power-seeker taken care of, he must also see to it that every one of those in league with him were neutralized. In one way or another.
Sighing, he looked at his watch. In two hours, they would all be here, and he'd better have a plan.
He picked up the phone once more.
Dinner was a hurried affair, in as much as Molly's meals could be hurried. Angelina and Alicia were both busy that night, so Fred and George stayed, as did Lee. In addition, Charlie and Bill and their families were also there. Amelia and Janie, their wives, offered to take all the children to the third floor playroom while the meeting was in progress. Ginny didn't like the twins to be anywhere near the main floor while Order meetings were going on. She knew that Potter Manor was unplottable, but she was always concerned, nonetheless.
Dinner was barely over when Order members began to arrive. Minerva and Snape arrived first, then Kingsley and Tonks. Lupin arrived alone shortly after. This began the tide of arrivals. Molly had coffee and tea set out in the War Room, but Harry was still nowhere to be seen.
"I'll get him, Dad," Ginny said when Arthur noted for the second time that Harry wasn't yet present. "I'm sure he's just pulling things together in his office."
Ginny knocked on the door to Harry's den softly. She knew better than to open the door without an invitation, especially with Order members present. Anything might be in the process of being said behind this door.
"Come in, Gin."
She pushed open the door to find Harry and Ron facing each other across the coffee table, grim looks on their faces. Harry's pensieve sat on the table between them.
"Everything okay?" She asked, sensing the tension in the room.
Harry said nothing, but sighed and glanced at Ron.
Ron nodded and stood. It was eerie sometimes, the way the two of them could share thoughts without speaking.
"Harry?" she sensed so much tension here... something was terribly, terribly wrong. "What is it?"
"I'll get them settled down, Harry. Ten minutes and I'll send him in?"
"Make it fifteen," Harry said quietly, rubbing his eyes.
"Done," Ron closed the door behind him, leaving Ginny with her husband.
"Harry? What is it?" she asked in a very small voice.
"Gin... come sit down."
"You're scaring me, Harry."
"Oh, love, I'm sorry," he stood, coming to her, and wrapping his arms around her. "I have to tell the Order something tonight, but..."
"It's so hard, Ginny. I'm so tired of all of this."
"Harry?" she pulled back to look into his green eyes, her sudden fear confirmed by the look she found there. "Not again?"
Harry nodded, "I'm afraid so. I... well, it's better that you see it for yourself."
He led her to the sofa, where he sat down next to her, and touched his wand to the pensieve.
As Ginny watched, and began to understand with the help of Harry's whispered explanations, silent tears found their way down her cheeks.
But she didn't stop watching.
"The reason for this meeting is something that happened last year... the night we fought Mahood. It's something that I have to share with the Order tonight, but I wanted you to be prepared."
"What?" he asked.
"You made a prophecy that night. I was unsure before, but in light of recent events, I'm afraid there can be no mistake about it."
"I did what? What did I say? When?"
"Watch," Harry turned, touching his wand to the pensieve.
"Thank you, everyone, for coming tonight at such short notice..." Harry began, half an hour later in the War Room. "I'm sure you're all highly confused. I'll try to make things a bit clearer for you."
"Harry, what is this all about?" Minerva asked shortly. She was a very busy woman these days, as Headmistress of Hogwarts, and her temper reflected that strain.
"I'm getting to it, Minerva," Harry replied, placing the pensieve in the middle of the long table. "I'd like you to see something."
"A memory, Harry?" Neville looked at him, concerned. Neville knew many of the things that Harry had witnessed over the years, few of them pleasant.
"In part, Nev, yes. After we defeated Mahood last year," Harry began, "As many of you know, Severus spent several days out there, after being transformed by Mahood in the final confrontation."
There were sounds of agreement from around the table. The details hadn't been shared with many, and not even everyone there knew the true spell that had been used, or that Snape was an animagus, but all knew that he had spent several days trapped in the body of a serpent out in that field, while Harry and the others were unconscious.
"When I went back for him," Harry continued. "I was surprised to find him in a condition that I can only describe as a... trance. He spoke to me in Parseltongue. I have placed this memory in the pensieve for you to better observe it... I will translate it for you afterwards. I want you to see this as it happened before I explain what it means. I hope that this will allow you to better understand."
With that, he touched his wand to the pensieve and stood back, allowing those seated around the table an unobstructed view. The mist over the pensieve churned, and coalesced into a shape... slowly emerging as the shape of a snake, coiled and hissing on the ground. It seemed calm, all but for the incessant hissing. Despite that, it was in no way threatening.
A few words were heard, an enquiry in Harry's voice, but the hissing continued. It seemed almost repetitive.
With a flash of light, the serpent coiled in the grass transformed, growing and changing into the shape of a man, a very tall, very thin, very dark man. Severus Snape.
A Severus Snape who continued to speak in Parseltongue.
After a moment, Harry touched his wand to the pensieve yet again, stopping the scene. Those seated around the table remained silent, all eyes trained on him.
"I'll now translate what was said," Harry said quietly,
"Their time is now as the masses gather,
They will love, and a new generation will be born,
And in that, their motivations will become clear.
Those in denial of our world will most need it
when the skies erupt and fire scorches the earth.
The western world will hold their own,
but victory is unassured.
Only with a return to true belief in all things magical
will our world be balanced.
Good and evil, black and white, East and West.
The power no longer hidden
will be the only defense.
But first, those who knew each other of old shall find their hatred anew.
He who now reaches for the seat of power,
a thorn in the side of those of bravery and courage,
would seek to dispel all of impure blood.
He has power of heritage, of blood, of name.
And those who dismiss him shall be the first to fall.
And fall they will, for this man, this serpent of green, shall rule
unless one who has gone before, sacrafices all to defeat him.
And if this new power rising is defeated, only then will the world rejoice
in peace and prosperity.
Only then will there be acceptance between the worlds of muggle and magic."
Harry fell silent. There was not a sound in the room until Hermione spoke.
"So it begins again," she said simply, a note of sadness in her voice.
"So it would seem," Harry confirmed.
"My only question is," Snape said from the far end of the table, "Who the hell is the bastard?"