The Harbinger of Destiny: Herald of Fate

Prologue


The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.

Robert Heinlein.


Settled silently in her place at Gryffindor table, Hermione Granger sent an encouraging smile at a nervous looking first year. The girl, who was wringing her hands in anxiety, noticed Hermione's gaze and seemed to calm down. Her job done, Hermione turned away from the first years and her smile immediately dropped, leaving her mouth caught in a tight line.

Diverting her eyes and her attention away from the spectacle that was the Sorting, Hermione matched gazes with her friend Ronald Weasley, who acknowledged her with a sad nod of his head. The relationship they once had, close and nearly intoxicating at the end of their fourth year, was only a shadow of what it once was, strained by the loss of the third of their triumvirate.

For a second, as their eyes met, that tension seemed to wash away, and, locking gazes in a mournful way, their lives seemed to interlock as they once had, in mutual dismay.

Hermione shook her head, and broke the staring match. It was the beginning of her seventh and final year at Hogwarts. She would be learning important things this year, planning for the future that awaited her behind these walls. She should be excited, happy. Instead, her mood was overcast by the dreary reality that once again her old friend would not be joining her on her adventures.

Not able to stop herself, but knowing the futility of it just the same, Hermione allowed her gaze to sweep across the Gryffindor table. All she saw was Colin Creevey engaged in an animated discussion with an overwhelmed and newly sorted first year, Lavender Brown laughing gently at something Parvati Patil had just said, and Dean and Seamus conspiring quietly beside an equally quiet and somber Ron.

Three times her eyes had followed this same route, desperately seeking the boy who she hadn't seen since the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, portkeying away from the school grounds and subsequently her life. She should really no better than to hope.

Distantly, she heard McGonagall conclude the Sorting Ceremony and Dumbledore begin to speak. Beside her, Neville, shooting her a concerned glance, nudged her and she grasped on to cohesion enough to listen to the headmaster's words.

"—Hogwarts has been bestowed with a great opportunity to assist in the coming war with the Dark Lord. This year, Hogwarts will host the Elvin High Lord Heir Amin Elliot Siff Ranus and his sister Lady Allenia Riza Ranus. The Elves are a generally reclusive people and have not yet formed an alliance in the coming war with Voldemort"-he ignored the flinches and continued-"I ask that you all treat our visitors with the utmost respect. If they are sorted into your house I trust you to make them feel at home and if they are not sorted into your house I trust you not to bring house rivalries between a possible alliance between the Wizarding World and the Elves."

Hermione nodded mutely at that. It would not due to ostracize possible allies just because of some petty difference of opinion. If Harry's disappearance had taught her anything it was that some things were not worth the pain they could cause. The bitterness between Gryffindor and Slytherin was just one of those things. The Headmaster continued.

"That being said, there are several things about the Elvin culture that differ from our own. Some of these things you may not approve of, but I must ask you to hold your tongue. The culture and the morals that the Elvin people hold most dear are not likely to change, regardless of our opinions, at least not now. And friendship between our two cultures is more important than taking offense with something beyond your control."

This statement had several people's attentions piqued. Hermione was hit with a sudden sense of foreboding. There was something wrong with the way the Headmaster had fidgeted as he said those words, how the twinkle had dimmed fractionally, almost imperceptibly. Dumbledore paused for a second then cleared his throat.

"The High Lord Heir Amin and Lady Allenia will be bringing their servants with them to Hogwarts for protection and personal needs and among these servants are several slaves."

The majority of the Great Hall gasped and Dumbledore nodded slightly. Hermione felt her stomach lurch. Slavery? And they were bringing the slaves to Hogwarts? It was bad enough with the House Elves enslavement.

"Yes my children. Slavery is a common part of the Elves culture. While the Elves are here I must ask that you treat their slaves and servants with respect as well as adhere to the regulations on said persons as set before them by their Elvin masters. In other words, do not encourage revolt. Remember that by accepting the Elvin culture, you are furthering the goals of the Wizarding World. That must take precedence over all else."

He let the chatter erupt in the Great Hall as the students absorbed his words. Beside Hermione, Neville fidgeted restlessly, shaking his head. "I can't believe this," he whispered to her, Hermione mutely nodded. Across the table, Ron caught her eyes again, gauging her reaction. After all, he was well aware of her views on House Elf enslavement. She shook her head slightly, then shrugged helplessly. He turned away.

As the whispers and shouts of outrage died down, Dumbledore spoke once again. "I ask you now to greet High Lord Heir Amin Elliot Siff Ranus who will be joining the seventh years and his sister Lady Allenia Riza Ranus who will be joining the sixth years."

The doors to the Great Hall swung open and the teachers at the head table quickly got to their feet and bowed slightly, Dumbledore included, as two figures in hooded silver robes walked into the room. The students, in a mix of confusion and fascination, remained seated. Trailing behind them, a group of seven other figures, six men and a woman, all of whom in standard black robes, hoods down except for four of the men, followed after them, stopping about ten feet behind them as the two approached the Head Table and bowed in return.

As the two stood up once again, the teachers seated themselves and Professor McGonagall opened the Sorting Scroll once again.

"Ranus, Allenia."

The smaller figure reached up and put down her hood, revealing her face to the Hall. She stood perhaps 5'7, around four inches shorter than her brother and was petite. Her dirty blonde hair was sorted into two braids which wrapped around her head and met in a third which fell to her lower back. Her ears, the most obvious sign of her Elvin lineage, were pointed. Her almond eyes were golden, set in her tan face, and wide-eyed as she took in the wonders of the Great Hall. Her mouth was small and pouty, upturned in a smile, and her nose small and pointed up, giver her a sweet and rather innocent look.

She approached the Sorting Hat with an air of excitement and plopped the Hat on her head, and herself in the chair with a rather regal grace. Hermione watched the emotions on the girls face as she talked with the Hat. A sort of puzzlement at first, quickly followed by a shy smile, and then a nod of agreement. The Sorting Hat divulged it's decision.

"Gryffindor."

Hermione started. An Elf, a slaver in her house, sleeping under the same roof as she? In Gryffindor, the house of the brave and virtuous? It didn't seem possible. Applause shook the table, and Hermione forced her hands to act out the motion as the girl settled in next to Ginny, who quickly engaged her in pleasant conversation.

McGonagall cleared her throat once Allenia was settled and read the next name off the list.

"Ranus, Amin."

The second figure, taller than Allenia, shook off the hood gracefully. His chestnut hair was done up in much the same manner as his sisters', except where she had two braids, he had three, one in the center, before it converged into one. The resemblance between the two lay mostly in their faces, as the same golden, almond-shaped eyes peered out from a tan face. A thin scar ran down over his equally thin eyebrow. Unlike his sister, his mouth was taut in a tight line, and his pointed ears strained back towards his servants, as though trying to catch them speaking out of turn. He was muscular, but not bulky, and admittedly good looking, though Hermione couldn't shake the cold aura coming off of him.

As he settled the Hat atop his head, shooting it a look of disdain at its ragged appearance, and sat on the stool, his face turned from cooly impassive to indignant. "He is mine to do with as I will," he whispered angrily, in an odd lilt that spoke of a foreign tongue. Hermione had to strain to hear his words. His brow furrowed from beneath the Hat and a sneer crossed his lips. He pulled the Hat off his head as the Hat shouted out its decision.

"Slytherin."

The boy stood and dropped the Hat quickly on the stool. He turned towards the Slytherin table, who hurried to free a space near Draco Malfoy, but did not hurry to take that place. Instead he addressed the Headmaster, gesturing to the people who had stood behind him in their black cloaks.

"My Overseer Undernoble Barrylus Kabul and my Guardian Undernoble Felinar Freelasco will require seats at your table Headmaster," he said in his strange lilt.

"Of course," the Headmaster said cheerfully, conjuring two more chairs at the end of the table.

Two of the Elves in black stepped forward to take those seats. One, Freelasco, Hermione guessed, had his dark hair cropped short and was extremely thin. He had dark eyes and his tan complexion seemed out of place. He took the offered seat beside Hagrid with a sneer at the half-breed. The other, an extremely large bull of a man, with blond hair, tied back in a short braid at the nape of his neck, and sapphire blue eyes settled next to him.

"And the rest of your company?" the Headmaster enquired pleasantly.

"They will eat in your kitchens when their services are not required," Amin answered shortly. As if on cue, the rest of the people who had accompanied the Elvin Heir and his sister in took up posts, one hooded man on each of the four walls of the Great Hall, leaving the remaining woman standing alone.

"My bodyguard," Amin explained to the inquisitive looking Dumbledore about the four men. "And my personal slave," he said, indicating the woman, who had her head bowed, the only feature able to be made out was her long and free-falling red hair.

Amin sat down at the Slytherin table and the woman hurried over to him, sitting silently at his feet like a dog. At least that's how Hermione saw it. Several students shifted uncomfortably in their seats at this action and Hermione noted that even the Slytherins seemed slightly off balance. Except, of course, Draco Malfoy, who quickly struck up a conversation.

Dumbledore took his seat amidst the teachers and Hermione shook her head, commenting to Neville, "Hogwarts is definitely going to be different this year."

After the feast found Amin, Allenia, the two Undernobles, the four bodyguard, and the personal servant, along with Professors Snape and McGonagall sitting across from a senile and twinkling old man in said old man's magically enlarged office.

"First of all," the headmaster said as the students, overseer, guardian, and professors settled themselves into their respective seats and the bodyguard spread out across the walls while the personal slave settled down once again at her Master's feet. "Allow me to tell you how very honored we are to have the two of you at Hogwarts this year."

Allenia smiled warmly at him and the headmaster smiled back as she started to ramble. "Oh, it is such a wondrous thing to be here Professor," she said, her voice lilting up at different syllables. "It is so very beautiful, and I am sure you wizards have many things you can teach us, and..."

"Quiet Allenia," Amin commanded and Allenia subsided immediately, and he addressed the headmaster in her stead. "It is an honor to be here Professor."

"We have prepared rooms each for Mr. Kabul and Mr. Freelasco near the Slytherin dormitories Mr. Ranus," the headmaster said. "And we have given you your own room with an attachment for your slaves as we thought that the best suitable situation. Your own room is near the Slytherin dormitories behind the picture of the Elvin Maiden. The password is 'alliance', and you can change it as need be. I trust you already have the Slytherin password?" At Amin's affirmative nod, Dumbledore smiled.

"Well then, that is just about it. Do you have any questions for me Mr. Ranus, Ms. Ranus? No? Well then, you had best get some rest. Your heads of house will show you to your rooms respectively. I do hope you enjoy your stay at Hogwarts."

The Elves and professors filed out, but a strange thing happened as they left. One of the bodyguard, the last to leave the room stopped at the doorway and knocked three times on the wall before shooting the Headmaster a glance from beneath his hood, then disappeared.

The Headmaster's brow furrowed in confusion.

The rooms assigned to the High Lord Heir were moderately luxurious. There was a main bedroom, a bathroom, and a door with a padlock on it that led to the slaves' rooms. Amin held the key to that lock.

While Rosalina prepared the Master for bed, the bodyguard checked the walls for listening spells or any sort of threat. They found none.

Finally locked in for the night, the bodyguard lowered their hoods at last. One of them revealed a strikingly handsome face with short cropped brown hair and piercing blue eyes. He stood six foot two and his arms literally rippled with muscles. His name was Devon Dahlios, a veteran soldier of twenty-two, and a sixth-generation member of an enslaved Elvish family.

The second revealed a wiry red head who stood six foot four and was the tallest of the bodyguard as well as the oldest at twenty four. He had silvery eyes and an amiable aura. His name was Amick Reginald, a newly acquired slave of about two years, but one who had accepted his fate.

The third was a man with a gaunt face and haunted brown eyes. He had white blonde hair and would have been handsome save for his impassive demeanor. He was six foot and solid, not too bulky or too wiry. He, too, was newly acquired but had not come to the same acceptance as Amick. His name was Peliamos Renaldi.

The last and final face was the one that would have surprised the students or teachers, or really anyone in Hogwarts had they seen it. For he was not Elvin, but human. One of only two human slaves currently held in all of the Elvin society. He had ebon black hair which was as long as his Elvin masters, an indirect sign of accomplishment. His piercing emerald and slanted eyes shown out from his tanned skin and a pouty mouth added to his overall thrall. He was short by even human standards, standing only five foot eight, but was well built, with tenuous but not bulky muscles. He was the youngest at seventeen and also the Head of the Bodyguard.

His name was Harry Evans. He was once Harry Potter.