Chapter Dedication: to each and every one of you who sent me messages bugging me about updating this thing. You're much appreciated. Thanks for your perseverance! I have not forgotten you.
Author's Note: Good grief, this story needs work. Looking back on it after what – two years, three, since it's starting, I can't believe the masses of mistakes, issues, and weird crap that I put into this thing. That said, I'm still determined to finish it if just because I started it, and it's soooo close to being complete. Please bear with me on my horrid updates, and long waits between chapters with a story that should well be abandoned due to epic failure.
LoL. I get some of the most interesting reviews on this story…
"ss,Parseltongue,ss" Just so that you know.
Disclaimer: Not Mine. Talk to Rowling. Just borrowing them a while.
Harry was not looking forward to finding out what would happen if he didn't get the cuffs off of him before it was too late. He could only control the magic so much, and the Founders were no longer nearby to contain the damages. He was sure that if the cuffs continued to block his magic's natural discharge that the resulting explosion would be quite spectacular, and he wasn't sure that he or anyone around him would survive it.
The Founders' Heir
Cygnus Chilcott watched the room spin, his fingers tapping nervously against his thigh in a broken rhythm as he waited out the room. Once it stopped he stalked across the round antechamber and through a door with only small hesitation. The office beyond was tall and cluttered, filled with ebony shelves reaching far above his head that were overflowing with scrolls and tombs, files and folders. An odd assortment of knick-knacks and items he couldn't identify were scattered about. Some looked like ancient instruments of torture, and old childhood toys. A skeleton of an infant dragon of unknown species hung sinuously along one of the upper shelves, half cast in shadow, and partially illuminated sunlight. Light streamed down from a high round window, and Cygnus squinted against the brightness of the morning sun. It cast the office's dark décor into a strange discord that put him on edge.
"Chilcott," a man's voice greeted him. Cygnus couldn't see the man past a general, silhouetted outline. He was seated behind a raised desk that put the sun's streaming light just behind and above his head. Cygnus could only make out a head of light hair and broad, barely-stooped shoulders.
"Director," Cygnus returned his greeting. "Elddir's here."
"Yes, I know."
Cygnus waited for more and when nothing seemed forthcoming he offered more information. "He did not deny the charges placed on him and he came willingly."
"As expected," the Director said, his tone curiously satisfied.
Cygnus against lapsed into silence. The Director's sudden interest in the boy, Elddir wasn't in itself unusual, but Cygnus heard the note of familiarity in the other man's voice when speaking of the boy, as if he knew the lad. Cygnus had done his own investigating into the mysterious Elddir, and had found nothing. That only the Director and perhaps Albus Dumbledore knew who the boy was or where he came from was curious in the least. When the Ministry directive came down the Auror lines to arrest the boy on a host of charges Cygnus had taken the chance to see this boy for himself.
And then the Director had called him into his office.
Cygnus hadn't been into the deep parts of the Ministry in months, typically receiving his few, short orders from the Director via messenger, which suited him fine if he didn't have to deal with the Director's odd theatrics.
"Elddir was placed in low-security confinement," Cygnus continued, trying to guess what the Director was looking for from him. "With the administering of Haldren's Cuffs, the Auror Depart –"
The Director's voice was sudden and harsh, cutting through Cygnus's words and thoughts like a sword.
"He was placed in low-security," Cygnus repeated.
"You placed Haldren's Cuffs on him?" the Director asked in a dark tone.
Cygnus didn't respond, biting his tongue till he tasted the copper tang of his own blood. The man seated behind the curtain of morning sunlight was the man said to be in charge of the Unspeakables. Cygnus had counted himself amongst those number for almost a year, but had only met with the Director twice before, and had never seen more than the man's outline. The Director and his shadowy team of cowled Unspeakables were revered and sometimes feared, and no matter that Cygnus may be one of them – or being courted to be one, rather – he certainly didn't feel like it, standing before the Director like a schoolboy before the Headmaster with dirty hands. He wondered if he was about to be expelled from their ranks before ever fully having joined them.
"You, my boy," the Director finally said, drawing Cygnus out of his panicky thoughts. "Have just created a ticking bomb."
Cygnus blinked at the other man's darkly amused voice. "A what?"
Cygnus stared as the Director leaned back in his chair, pulling away from the bright streaming light enough for shadows to fill in features with color. Graying sandy hair atop head and chin did little to disguise a square jaw and strong shoulders. He looked both younger and older than expected; the unbending wisdom of age mixed with the willowy strength of youth. The man's dark eyes seemed to bore into him with something akin to amusement, as if the older man found Cygnus to be a child that was caught doing something terribly foolish.
"And you have no idea, do you, pure-blood?" The Director's lips quirked into a dark, promising smirk.
Cygnus suddenly felt very small.
Harry was restraining himself from scratching at his arms when he got his first visitor. The cuffs around his wrists and the magical suppression that they wrought made the scars along his forearms itch and burn, and he could feel his magic shifting uneasily under his skin, making his head feel a little wooly and his stomach roil. Over all he wasn't very comfortable and the negative aspects of his magic were agitating not only his physical body but his nerves and emotions as well.
So when DeMonte's skinny wizard counterpart returned with a couple unnamed Aurors and a red-headed Weasley, Harry's temper was far shorter than he would have liked when dealing with a Percy imposter and an as yet unidentified Death Eater. He could feel the subtle taint of darkness that the Dark Mark left. He hadn't yet figured out which of DeMonte's party wore it, but he knew it was there.
Harry eyed Percy warily, knowing that the boy should have been secreted away by Dumbledore somewhere still healing from whatever ailments he had from being held by the Death Eaters in a dungeon. Harry knew that the Percy Weasley standing next to the skinny wizard was not the real one. Despite knowing that the real Percy was still wounded, Harry could also see a calculated darkness in his eyes that Harry had never witnessed in any Weasley – though if he was honest with himself, the twins had come close.
"Elddir," the skinny man started, stepping up to the bars of the cell, and squinting down at him. Harry sniffed and peered back at the man from his seated position on the metal bench. The skinny guy looked shaken and pale, as if he had just been given a good scare. Harry wondered what had happened to him or who the other man had managed to piss off. He wasn't feeling very sorry for him.
The man glared at him through narrowed eyes, to which Harry merely looked back at him. The other broke the staring contest early and with a jerky motion, one of his lackies approached with a metal tray. The cell door was unlocked and opened with barely a by-your-leave. The man set the tray on the floor and skid it forward with a booted toe.
Harry eyed the tray with some confusion until he recognized that it was, perhaps, supposed to be food. Harry rose slowly and wandered towards the bars and the tray on the floor. The man remained in the doorway, blocking his immediate escape, but otherwise seemingly unconcerned about Harry closing the distance between them. Harry stared down at the tray, trying to decipher the grey lumps. It was cold. If he had been hungry, he no longer was.
Harry looked back up at the group with a raised brow. "No."
The skinny wizard's superior glare turned into shocked indignance.
"Eat it, Elddir," the man spat out.
Harry shook his head, looking down at the wannabe-food with feigned morose. He couldn't even smell anything off it.
"If you wanted to poison me, you should have chosen something more appetizing than cold slop," Harry advised.
"There is no need for poison, boy."
Harry gave them a flat look, unimpressed and unconvinced.
"Which of you bears it, then?" Harry asked, looking between the little group. "I bet it's that one," Harry pointed at the not-Percy. "He's the one with the Mark. I can see the Dark in his eyes, you know."
Harry continued before any of them could offer a defense. "Did old Tom ask for my head? What's he offering to the one who takes care of little Elddir while he's deep in the Ministry's hold? Will he make you a Lieutenant? Free your family from some dungeon?" Harry leaned forward and pinned the group with a dark gaze through the bars. "Did he promise you the Killing Curse instead of a horrific death?"
The not-Percy had a decidedly non-Weasley look about him now. His face twisted into something mean and almost deranged. The skinny one looked somewhat closed off, while the last two didn't seem to quite know what they had gotten into. The skinny wizard gripped the bars
"What is your name?" Harry asked, preempting whatever drivel the other man was about to say.
He sputtered and spit out a name, seemingly against his better judgment. "Chilcott."
"Chilcott?" Harry repeated. He knew that name, and very well. "A pure-blood name."
Chilcott was stiff and Harry continued, pressing the advantage. "Do you have a son, Chilcott? Or perhaps a little daughter?"
The man's pallor faded further and Harry felt himself smirk.
"Which is it?" Harry prompted. "It's the little one, isn't it? What's her name? Ceridwen, isn't it? Named for her mother's mum. Does your little girl know that her mother only deigned to share your bed but once? Does she know that's why you had her – taken care of?"
Chilcott's skinny frame had all but frozen now, and his brown eyes were wide as he stared at Harry as if he had caught a dragon in a gnome trap.
"Shut up!" Chilcott spat, lunging close to the bars to spit his fury in Harry's face. Harry merely stared back at the little man, his thoughts on the girl he had known and called friend, who had told him more about her family story than she had ought to, knowing the rules they had all lived under for a time. Harry could never understand how such a girl could have come from a father like the one she had been saddled with. She looked nothing like the skinny little wizard straining at Harry's jail bars did.
"Don't worry, Chilcott," Harry said coolly, "She'll rise above anything you could ever hope to be. She'll best all your family and make the Chilcott name a great one, and all will remember her. Not little, old, you. I she even yours?"
Chilcott snarled and lunged at the bars, shooting a fist through and towards Harry's chin. Harry leaned his upper body back, and swiped a harsh blow in the opposite direction. He caught the man's elbow and continued his swing, bending the joint in the direction that it is not supposed to go. The quick, wet sound, 'snap, snap, pop' echoed sickly in the hollow space of the cell as Harry hyper-extended the man's elbow severely.
The man in the doorway lunged forward, but Harry was quicker, dodging to the side and with a push off the bed with his feet he gained height over the taller man. The long length of chain between his bound wrists tangled around the man's neck, and Harry let himself fall to the floor.
The other man came with him, landing in a gasping and flailing heap. Harry connected his bare heel with the man's right temple; hard.
Harry rose slowly, eyeing the skinny Chilcott who was folded at the base of the cell's bars, his arms tangled through and around them as the man held his broken arm with his good. He had yet to pull his arm back through the narrow bars and had taken to huddling against them, staring at Harry with pain-filled watery eyes.
A door slammed from down the corridor and Harry eyed the empty space beyond his cell. The last two of the group had disappeared, the not-Percy being one of them.
Harry nudged the tray of cold slop to sit under the man's nose. "Poison, Chilcott?" Harry asked. "Not a very creative way to deal with a Founders' Heir. I had to deal with Salazar Slytherin for years, mind. Your pesky little attempts at poisoning and intimidation are pathetic. Who charged you with it? Or did you think it up yourself?"
Chilcott merely whimpered and tried to curl further around the bars of the cell. He had apparently, completely forgotten that he was a Wizard with a wand. Speaking of…
Harry searched him with little care for the man's injury, thinking only that he was going to have to apologize to Ceridwen if he saw her again, for giving her father such harsh treatment. Despite her general dislike of the man, the she would not have approved and Harry knew it. Harry pocketed the guy's wand and Ministry badge, patted him non-too-gently on his broken arm, and walked out of the cell.
It was easy to find his way out of the holding cells. The area was nearly empty and he didn't encounter any Aurors interested in stopping him. The elevator, too, was easy to find and Harry paused as he studied the row of buttons and letters, eyeing his bare feet and the hem of his slacks – which were the only things besides the shackles that he wore. He wondered how conspicuous he'd be wandering through the busy Ministry Atrium on a Monday morning.
Perhaps a back way out would better serve.
Harry pushed the button labeled 'Q' and watched the lift's doors close with a cheery ting as he mentally reviewed the obscure directions he had been told of through the Ministry's lower levels that would lead to one of its secret back doors. The lift stopped and opened to a long, blank hallway. Harry exited and the lift closed behind him. He eyed the expanse of hallway for a moment before moving swiftly down its empty length, the chain rattling against his knees. It was just as he was nearing the lone door at the end of the hall that the ting of the lift sounded loud in the silent hall. Harry looked over his shoulder as the lift doors opened to reveal an elaborately panicked-looking Percy Weasley and a team of blue-clad Aurors led by the stiff DeMonte.
"There he is!" the not-Percy hollared, waving a finger down the hall towards Harry. "Elddir! He attacked Chilcott and Hotts. I think he might've killed him! He's after something!"
"Don't go any further, Elddir!" DeMonte called, as he sprinted down the hallway. Wands were brandished with sure hands as the group swarmed out of the lift into the narrow hallway, but none of the Aurors got a clear aim at Harry with the wide-shouldered DeMonte barreling down in their way.
Harry closed the distance between himself and door, unsure if he wanted to take on DeMonte with a flock of Aurors at the man's back. His hesitation cost him his choice, as DeMonte cast a a couple quick Stunners at him, forcing Harry to dodge them, and taking him away from his escape in the process.
Harry clapped his hands together and the chain clanked and rattled as it twirled and twisted among itself. With a few quick steps towards the advancing DeMonte, Harry swung his arms in a wide, low arc, using the chain as a swinging weapon aimed for the man's chin. Harry missed the man's chin, but got his forearm as DeMonte blocked the attack. Harry's chain rattled around the man's arm, and DeMonte pulled. Harry shot forward off his feet and found the man's fist with his stomach. The blow knocked the wind clear out of him and sent him to his knees gasping.
"Elddir," DeMonte growled out from above him.
Harry could only gasp in air as his diaphragm tried to mutiny, staring blankly at the man's arm, wrapped in chains, clasping a wand...
Harry sucked in air, ignoring whatever DeMonte was spouting out of his mouth, and grabbed the man's wand with a deathgrip in both hands. DeMonte jerked out of reflex, but didn't pull away further.
"Fool, you can't cast with Haldren's Cuffs," DeMonte sneered. "My wand will do you no good."
"Yes it will," Harry said around his attempts to suck air into his lungs. Harry did what he really should not have: he cast a spell with a wand in his hands.
Haldren's Cuffs blocked Harry's ability to cast magic, no matter that he would use a wand or not. The Cuffs prevented the spell from going anywhere and with an ordinary wizard with a wand, would likely have just chucked the magic straight back into the wizard. But Harry wasn't just attempting to cast through Haldren's suppressing Cuffs, but through the two wand cores that lay imbedded within his forearms.
Harry felt the magic build alarmingly, and surge out through his arms and into the wand he held in reverse. The Cuffs heated and flared a bright glow and the magic followed suit. It flared like a small sun, just as bright and hotter than any fire. Harry squeezed his eyes shut against the light and turned his face away. The super-heated magic waned and surged again and suddenly it seemed to be sucked back into Harry's arms.
A near-soundless boom echoed in the hallway and Harry was flung backwards, crashing into something hard and unforgiving and bouncing back onto the floor like a rag doll.
Harry couldn't really see. Bright and dark spots danced across his eyes, blocking out most of the hallway, though he could barely discern that the Aurors at the other end of the hall seemed to be on their butts the same as he was. He caught a glimpse of DeMonte's boots nearby before a dark splotch obscured that section of his sight. Harry groaned and pushed himself to his hands and knees, ignoring the numbness that had come over his arms.
He couldn't quite balance on his own, so he used the wall to find the door behind him, shuffling along with only the goal of putting space between him and the idiot decision he had just made.
Harry heard a muffled, "Halt!" before he slammed the door in their faces.
The wall spun away from him, nearly taking his hand on the doorknob with it. Harry stepped back hastily as the room spun around, whipping up his hair. A strange, distant echo of the Aurors' shouts drifted to him periodically, mixed amongst other semi-distant sounds that came and went as the doors spun. The room slowed and stopped and Harry inspected the identical doors that circled him. Silence reigned. His arms tingled as if he had spent all night laying atop them.
"Damn." Harry had no idea which door was which, and from his limited knowledge of the room, their destinations changed depending on their placement in the circle. There were more rooms connected to these doors than there were doors. And they all looked the same. He'd have to go through a trial and error to find the correct one.
Shrugging Harry stepped forward to the door directly in front of him, intent on simply making his way around the circle to find the one he was looking for. The first door led to a strange, small room stacked full of cauldrons. Harry blinked at the storeroom and the incredible variety of cauldrons before closing the door with an incredulous shake of his head. He moved on to the next.
"Your capacity for attracting trouble never ceases to amaze me, Darion."
Harry froze at the voice, his fingers brushing the brass knob of the door, the voice's familiarity sparking in his mind. It took him a moment to put the voice from behind him to a memory; the memory of an Heir.
"Gideon," Harry said neutrally as he turned on his heel. He dropped his arms to his sides, feeling no trace of either aggression or trickery. The chains rattled as they settled around his legs.
The old man before him smirked as Harry took in the site of his aged friend. Gideon had clearly lived a span close to Albus' years or more; yet Harry could still see the spark of youth and mischief that Gideon Gervaise had always born.
Harry quirked his mouth a bit deviously, eying the grayed length of sandy hair the man had tied at his neck.
"You've changed," Harry said, his smirk growing.
Gideon looked a bit irritated at that.
"I've matured," he said. Harry could all but taste the airs of personal superiority in the statement.
"You've gotten old," Harry deadpanned, his face carefully blank, but he knew his eyes betrayed his mischief.
Gideon gave a gruff "harrumph," and sniffed dismissively as he gave Harry a critical once-over. "You haven't changed a bit," he said, attempting scorn but smirking through the act. "Figures."
Harry snorted, barely containing a grin.
A distant bang of a door and shuffling of feet broke them from their game. Harry turned and eyed the doors of the room, trying to pinpoint where the sound had originated and what direction the Aurors were likely to come through.
"This way," Gideon said, pushing an ajar door open further. Harry didn't hesitate, hearing the semi-distant sound of the Auror's voices grow a little too close for comfort. He had no desire to try and fight off a contingent of armed Wizards without his magic, Founders' training or not. Gideon ushered him through the door, pulling it closed behind them with a soft click.
A second later the sound of another door opening and the many feet of a group of booted men spilling into the spinning chamber drifted to them. Harry held his breath as the Aurors fanned out into the room, calling orders to each other.
A door closed and the room spun and all sounds were silenced from beyond the door.
"They can't hear us," Gideon said from behind him. Harry turned. "And they can't enter here, even if they knew which door to use at which apex."
Harry raised an eyebrow, impressed.
"Your office?" Harry asked, taking in the tall, shelved room they now stood in. Gideon gave a distracted affirmative as he disappeared through a doorway opposite to their entrance. Harry caught sight of a comfortable sitting room beyond.
"Do you live here too?" Harry called after him.
There was no answer, not that he had really expected one. Harry turned his attention to his old friend's office. It was a large room, if only due to its impressive height. The tall shelves that flanked each side were crowded and over-flowing with books and knick-knacks. A few jars of unidentified substance were dotted about, acting as bookends or paperweights alongside chunks of sparkling rocks and what looked to be a petrified Grindylow. Harry found himself particularly fond of the small skeleton of a newly hatched Peruvian Vipertooth Dragon that was stretched out high in the deep rafters of the ceiling as if it had been caught flying through the high window. Below the window that was emitting a soft glow of afternoon sunlight, was a long painting of the Hogwarts' grounds as seen from Rowena's Tower.
"I had heard rumors of a crazed bloke showing up in the middle of the Hogwarts Welcome Feast," Gideon said as he reentered the office. "I should have known it was you."
Harry scowled. "I'm not crazy."
"You willingly get arrested only to attempt escape once in the Ministry?"
Harry's scowl turned into an annoyed snarl.
A/N: In which the skinny little wizard gets a name!