Sure strokes of the brush transformed the blood-whetted ash into a myriad of geometric shapes interspersed by runes, somehow weaving around the four immobile bodies yet undoubtedly connecting them to the alchemical circle that was slowly nearing completion. Nylon rope, securely anchored to masonry bolts drilled directly into the carport's floor acted as a double-check against any of the four wizard's constitution overcoming their magically induced stupor. It seemed an unnecessary caution, but proved fruitful when one of the captives actually awoke.
Lucius Malfoy was accustomed to the smell of blood. In fact, while valiantly pulling himself to consiousness, it was that smell that urged him to greater desperation in overcoming his stupefaction. It was with some confusion, however, that his first sight upon waking was Harry Potter calmly painting something onto the cold concrete floor he was bound to instead of the expected battlefield. Looking around, he could make out the prone forms of Goyle to his right and Rookwood to his left, but only the soles of the feet of whomever was across from him.
"What is this, Potter?" His voice was harsh from lack of moisture, but contained no less of the haughty arrogance than his usual manner of speech despite his evident disadvantage. His last memories before waking began clearing, and he remembered.
Malfoy's master had assured them that Potter's seventeenth birthday would be his moment of weakness. The blood wards that had for so long protected him would have fallen, and with the sheer amount of skilled wands sent to capture him, Harry Potter would stand no chance.
How wrong had his master been.
Potter had emerged from his dwelling, the muggle home little better than a cave, and was far more powerful than any of the death eater's intelligence had even hinted at. He barely used his wand, actually batting aside some of the darkest curses known to wizard kind with his bare hand. Those few hexes that made contact with him seemed to have no effect, and it was doubtful that he even noticed them. Wizards, even if silently casting, still had to use the proscribed wand movements to invoke the magic. Potter simply pointed his wand and the magic gushed from him, a torrent of elements, multicoloured lights, and destuction. Memories after the battle had begun became disjointed; hazy. He remembered trying to escape after seeing so many of his fellows cut down in such a short time frame. He could not apparate. His portkey did not function. He tried to run on foot, but obviously he did not get far. Then nothing, until waking up nearly naked and bound with an itchy green rope to a cold stone floor.
The boy looked almost startled to see him awake. "Well, I suppose if anyone deserves an explanation, it would be you, Malfoy." After a moment of looking at him, he went back to work on his design, holding an unremarkable brown ceramic bowl in one hand, and painting more of his array a bit at a time with an equally unremarkable paintbrush in his other.
"Tell me, what do you know of alchemy?" His work didn't slow, nor did it speed up. He kept the same unhurried pace, continuing as though chatting with a friend while studying for an exam.
The question was absurd. "Alchemy is little more than an esoteric branch of potions." Everyone knew that. What was the boy's game?
Potter actually chuckled at him. "Oh, you couldn't be more wrong, Malfoy. Fortunately, that is what most everyone believes." Potter stopped drawing for a moment, staring into the bowl and absentmindly stirring it with his brush while he collected his thoughts. "Everything we are taught at Hogwarts, all the spells; all the theory; all the potions... are all derived from and extrapolated from alchemy. You could say it is the mother of all magic."
The boy who lived began his work again. "The year was 1992. You placed a cursed pocket diary on Ginny Weasley, causing the Chamber of Secrets to be opened and Slytherin's monster to attack the school. Naturally, I was blamed for this." Malfoy said nothing, as the boy's face had somehow darkened with bad memories. "I took to hiding from the other students in the last place anyone would look for me, the least used section of the Hogwart's library." He looked directly at the death eater again. "The alchemy section."
Turning back to his work, he continued his tale. "Long ago, Hogwart's actually had an alchemy class. All the reference material and even the textbooks are still there, under preservation charms, just waiting. So, I became curious. I began to research it. The more I researched it, the clearer things became. Towards the end of that school year, I successfully invoked my first ritual."
"If learning that alchemy was the mother of all magic was the first great truth, then discovering that magic is all about symbolism was the second. Wand movements symbolize actions; the swish of the levitation charm symbolizes you targeting the object, the flick symbolizes the lifting of it. Incantations symbolize invoking a specific power. Why is this important? Because when it comes to creating an alchemic circle, the materials you use matter."
"For my first ritual I was simply trying to increase my spell affinity." The boy didn't miss the confused look on Malfoy's face. "I know now that even among those who have actively studied the art, the concept had never been thought of. I was only trying for something simple. True alchemy is the art of moving a quality of one thing to another. I had created seven spell crystals, and charged each with a different spell. I was only a second year, I didn't know much magic."
"Spell crystal?" Lucius had never heard of such a thing, and as dry as his throat was it was painful to talk. Even had he thought of bearing the indignity by yelling out for help, there would have been no way to raise his voice.
The boy continued working, moving across to Rookwood for whatever it was he was doing. "It's a fairly simple potion that boils down to a crystal about the size of a snitch. They are most commonly used in warding structures, holding one spell to be triggered at a later time. Anyway, these," he gestured at the black-red diagram being drawn around the captive death eaters, "alchemic circles are most effective when using whetted ash. For my first ritual I burned my first year charm book, the first book of magic I ever opened, and wetted it with my own blood."
He stopped for a moment, seeing nothing before continuing. "It was effective beyond what I had hoped for. I don't recall exactly which spells I had placed into the crystals. What I do recall is that after that the spells I had for lack of a better term, aligned, myself to were far more powerful than any second year student had a right to be casting."
"The only two problems I had were that the crystals would consume themselves in the process of the ritual, and finding things of importance to use for the ash. While not difficult to brew, the crystals did take time and ingredients. Ingredients which I did not have a vast amount of. I had enough to do a few more rituals before I ran out, so once I did I began to look for other options."
"And thus began my rituals to increase affinity for the elements. Numbers are important to these things, I had to pick up a smattering of arithmancy. But more important is balance, and what is more balanced than the elements? Fire and water. Earth and air. Best of all, no spell crystals to worry about for this. I discovered that any ash will work, but the rituals became much weaker without the symbolism of sacrifice in the ash."
"So, every summer I would stock up on materials for spell crystals. The more combat spells I learned, the more complex my spell affinity rituals became. Seven crystals became three rings of seven became seven rings of thirteen. In between those I would do element affinity rituals. On a slow homework week, I would get four or five rituals done."
"I was much more powerful than my peers, and gaining more power almost every day. When I was learning the patronus charm, the moment I could produce the patronus mist that charm went into my affinity rituals. A few months later and I banished over a hundred dementors back to azkaban with one charm. Increasing my affinity to a cutting curse increased my affinity to all cutting curses, increasing my affinity to a blasting hex increased my affinity to all blasting hexes. Instinctively, though, I knew I had to keep quiet about my newfound strength."
"It was easier than I thought it would be. Instead of spending an hour on a transfiguration essay to get an exeeds or an outstanding, I'd spend ten minutes on an acceptable and fifty minutes studying alchemy. I was as shoddy at a newly learned spell as everyone else until I had worked it into my affinity rituals. No one suspected a thing. The more time I spent on alchemy, though, the easier all the sub-branches of magic became. Wards, runes, potions, battle magic... everything I was ever interested in was easy to understand"
"You expect me to believe this? That whatever you're doing right now is some kind of alchemy? Spare me, Potter. I'm familiar with scare tactics and you're doing a poor job of it."
The boy laughed. "It worked well enough on your son, you pompous ass."
Lucius somehow found the strength to strain at his bonds. "Draco! What have you done to my son!"
Potter turned to him with a gimlet eye for a moment, then shrugged and continued his work, moving over towards Goyle. "It was last year. I was looking for an empty room in the dungeons to brew more spell crystals. While they don't take up much space, the rate that I was accomplishing the rituals meant I had to create a lot at once. I happened to see your spawn shove a girl into an abandoned classroom and have his two cronies guard the door. When it came to your son, I was already at a curse first, ask questions later mindset."
"Even had they seen me coming, and then had they tried to block my stunning spells, they would have had no chance. As it happened, I was able to stun Crabbe and Nott before they were able to make a sound, and interrupt your baby boy as he was trying to rape Daphne Greengrass."
"It turns out he'd been doing this for at least a couple years, and the girl was hysterically mute from it. I stunned him, pulled the others into the room, and tried to send Daphne on her way." He stopped for a moment, a soft expression of warmth on his face as he thought of her. "The girl wouldn't leave my side."
"During the Tri-wizard tournament, Snape accused me of stealing from his stores. He threatened me with veritaserum. He gathered it from his storeroom right in front of me, showed me the distincive flask he stored it in. His storeroom was just around the corner from where your son had dragged Daphne."
"That greasy bastard must have had some kind of warning ward around his storeroom, because just as Daphne and I were leaving with the veritaserum, he comes storming up swearing that he'll have me expelled this time and not letting me get a word in edgewise. So, I stunned him as well, and floated him to the room with the others."
"Veritaserum is an underused tool by the wizard world. Within a half an hour, I had learned that the death eater children had been taking Daphne against her will for over three years with Snape covering for them. I learned of your son's task to kill Dumbledore, and Snape's unbreakable vow to help him and do it himself if Draco failed. I learned of who the Voldemort supporters were in the school that they knew of, and I learned of the vanishing cabnet that they were planning to use to bypass the school's wards."
"As far as I was concerned, that pretty much signed their death warrants. I tried one last time to get Daphne to leave, told her that she wouldn't want to see what I was going to do. All I got was a head shake and a tighter grip on my robe sleeve."
"I did eventually manage to get her to stand out of the way. I burned their wands and robes, using blood from each to wet the ash. I constructed my first on-the-fly transference circle. From Snape, I took his knowlege. From Malfoy, his guile. I took Crabbe's physical might and Nott's agility. It balanced, you see. Strength of mind, speed of mind. Strength of body, speed of body."
"I had expected to have to kill them when I was done, and wasn't looking forward to it. Imagine my surprise when just like my affinity ritual consumed the spell crystals, this one consumed the four death eaters. All that was left of them were dried out husks that quickly lost cohesion and broke down into dust."
"Daphne spit on the dust piles before hugging me and breaking down into silent tears. Do you know that she still hasn't said a word out loud, even to this day? Still, as far as girlfriends go, any girl who can watch you do something like that and still want to be with you is definitely a keeper."
Malfoy was trembling in fury. His son had gone missing last year, and no one knew where he had disappeared to. Now he knew that Potter had killed him, and over raping a halfblood of all things? "The Dark Lord will kill you, Potter."
"I assume you're talking about Voldemort? Well, I'm sure he's going to try... and fail. I've got some thoughts on that as well, want to hear them?" Malfoy said nothing, merely shook uncontrollably in his rage.
"Remember that prophecy that your master was so obsessed over? The one in the Department of Mysteries?" He moved over to the last death eater, across from Malfoy. "Your boss only heard the first part of it. Basically, a child would be born with the power to defeat the Dark Lord. He narrowed it down to me, and tried to kill me when I was a little over a year old. His curse backfired, and I survived. Want to know why?"
Despite himself, Lucius was intrigued. "While Voldemort correctly identified me as the child, his ego wouldn't let him even think he wasn't the Dark Lord of the prophecy. A powerful dark wizard, to be sure, but a Lord? From what peerage does he claim a Lordship?" Harry Potter shook his head, amused. "No, he's no Lord, and he'll keep trying to come after me. But when one can't kill the other, eventually there's only one way the battle can end."
"If not my Lord, then who?" He had to know. Once he made his way back to his master, perhaps all this information would save him punishment for his failure to capture the Potter brat.
The boy stabbed his brush into the bowl a couple times, pensive. "The most successful dark wizard of all time, I think. One who actually is a Lord. ...Nicholas Flamel."
Malfoy blinked. The concept was absurd.
"In my studies of alchemy, I came to a horrifying realization. You see, there must always be a balance. A source, and a target. You can't make something from nothing. Doesn't it seem a little too coincidental that right around the same time that a third to half of the population of the entirety of Europe dies to the black plague and untold fortunes go missing, Flamel creates an artifact that gives life and creates gold? Then over the next couple hundred years, somehow phases the teaching of alchemy out of every magical school in the world? Flamel's greatest creation wasn't eternal wealth and life. It was an alchemical battery."
"Hogwarts has one of the most comprehensive libraries in the world. It took very little time to research why alchemy isn't taught any longer. I think he's covering his tracks. If I still had my parents around to question, I would be able to verify the rest of the prophecy and say for sure that Flamel is the Dark Lord I'm fated to vanquish. Right now? That's my best guess."
"Now," he said, placing his bowl and brush off to the side and stepping into the center of the diagram at Malfoy's feet. "I have refined this schematic quite a bit in the two years since I saved my girlfriend. You for speed of mind, Rookwood here for strength of mind. Goyle for strength of body, and Avery for speed of body. Blood from you four wet the ash created from your wands and robes. Muggle rope and bolts bind you pure blood bigots, the bolt holes made by drills from my uncle's factory into the floor of his old carport. The symbolism is stronger than the last time I attempted this, and the alchemic circle is far more refined. Good bye, Lucius Malfoy. It felt good to finally be able to tell someone about this. And thank you for contributing to the 'Power he knows not'."
The last thing Malfoy ever saw was the lines of the transference diagram ignite into foot high walls of blood red fire and his magic visibly leaving his body and entering Potter's.