Harry Potter and the Seventh Horcrux
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent,
intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next."
- Ursula K. LeGuin
Chapter One: Making the Choice
The Dursley Family Automobile
It was the mere beginning of yet another summer for those who lived in England. For muggles it was the beginning term of laziness and hanging with friends and family. For wizards it was just another day in a world of confusion, chaos and unavoidable fear. But for one boy, who was raised in the muggle world but belonged in the magical one, it was the beginning of the end. The end of either good or evil, and what made this one lone boy even more special, is that in the end it would come down to him to decide which would reign supreme over this world. And it would prove to be a more difficult choice than anyone, including him, would ever suspect.
This unique boy was the only raven haired member of a quartet currently traveling down the road that led away from the train station that housed the famous Platform 9 ¾. In the drivers seat was stationed a man so beefy that even though his seat was pushed all the way back, his gut was still hanging onto more of the steering wheel than his own hands. Beside him sat a pale and terribly thin woman who was nervously nipping at her right fingernails, every once in a while glancing to check on the two boys seated behind her.
The young boy on the right, who was quite obviously the obese man's son, was chewing on a white chocolate bar that had already begun to melt from the warmth of the midday sun. Beside him sat the heroic Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. His silent sighs could only be detected by the heavy falling of his chest, as it rose only to collapse after a pause that seemed to carry the sorrow of the entire world.
Harry was leaning his head against the window, praying to any and all deity's he could think of, for the sun to stop sending such massive waves of heat that seemed to fry the entire earth. It was after this single thought that his wish seemed to be granted, something that never seemed to happen to Harry Potter. The shade of some tree or building seemed to have blanketed the car from the pulsating heat. Harry smiled contentedly as the first sign of good fortune for his summer when he opened his eyes to look out across the bridge they were currently climbing and his heart sank.
It seemed that not only was his car covered in shade but most of the massive bridge as well. It was when he saw the end of the shade flicker that he made a horrifying connection.
It isn't shade, it's a shadow, he thought quickly, and it's flapping!
Harry rolled down his window frantically and leaned his head out to look directly up. Sure enough the creature that had cast the shadow was indeed flapping its wings from directly above them. However, what he had assumed might be a hippogriff or a thestral, was not even close to the creature that was currently hovering a hundred feet above them.
The hard green scales that bubbled across the sides of the animal looked more like stones and cast no reflection. The venomous yellow that lined the underbelly of the horrifying monster looked much fleshier than its sides and made an obvious display of the gigantic muscles that they were restraining. It was the wings more than razor sharp and still visible fang like teeth that made the beast's identity even more obvious. The fifty to seventy five foot wing span could belong to no other creature, muggle or magical, than that of a dragon. The fact that there was a black robed, white masked wizard riding the beast made it even more dangerous to Harry.
His Aunt and Cousin who had started at his sudden movement had frightened Vernon so much that he swerved before gaining control of the wheel enough to be able to start his rant against his nephew.
"BOY!" he blared at the top of his lungs, the sound echoing painfully in the small car, "GET YOUR HEAD BACK IN HERE! I'LL NOT HAVE YOUR HEAD BASHED IN BY ANOTHER CAR ONLY TO BE CURSED BY THOSE WRETCHED FREAKS FROM BACK AT THE STATION!"
Harry's head quickly darted back inside the car, but not because of what his uncle had threatened, but because of the danger that was currently flying directly above them.
"You have to drive faster!" Harry said, still dazed from the appearance of the massive creature above them.
"HOW DARE YOU!" his aunt hissed angrily, all nervousness forgotten, "SIT BACK AND SHUT UP! I WILL NOT HAVE YOU ORDERING YOUR UNCLE AROUND AND GETTING HIM FINED!"
Harry knew that this was getting him no where and was quickly thinking about the situation. His wand and his trunk were locked in the boot of the car along with any other magical devises that could aid in this situation. The sound of honking and swerving tires announced that Harry wasn't the only one to have spotted the terrifying sight.
"What is wrong with people today, it's like they've all gone mad!" his uncle exclaimed looking at the cars and the panicked people inside them.
"Or they saw a dragon", Harry mumbled to himself, still looking around the car for anything helpful. If only Uncle Vernon hadn't forced me to let Hedwig fly back to Privet Drive before we left I could have sent a message to the Order! he thought, silently cursing his Aunt and Uncle's hatred of all magical things.
Harry saw no other alternative but to try again to get his Uncle to do something to get away from the dragon that was most obviously looking for them, before he was forced to take drastic measures.
"Uncle Vernon" Harry started, "please listen to me - ", an unexpected punch to the gut from his cousin prevented him from continuing.
"Mum told you to shut up, so SHUT UP!"
Harry groaned in response to the punch, clutching his stomach, but it was drowned out by a deafening roar that seemed to shake the bridge below them.
It appeared that they had now reached the top of the bridge unlike the other cars on the road that had slowed, and in some cases turned in the opposite direction going against traffic. This left Harry and his relatives alone and an easy target.
The angry emission from the dragon above had definitely gotten the attention of his family - Petunia was screaming her head off while Dudley had given away into a dead faint. Vernon, who hadn't spotted the dragon yet, became flustered and spoke with an edge of hysteria.
"PETUNIA!" he shrieked, "PETUNIA? What is it? What's out there? What's happening?"
Petunia's barely audible reply was drowned out by a second growl. Harry turned to look out the rear window and didn't even get a chance to say one word of warning before a torrent of fire attacked the road a few feet behind them. The force of the explosion caused the car to flip end over front and land on the hood of the car.
Harry was now lying flat against the ceiling, listening to the screeching sound of the metal scraping down the slant of the bridge slowly losing momentum. The car was still spinning during the descent causing broken glass from the crunched car and snapped off metal parts to swirl along with the passengers inside. Harry was still conscious enough to shield his eyes from the flying glass with his right hand. His left didn't seem to be moving from where his body was trapping it down with its weight.
After what felt like hours of spinning, screaming and scrapping, but what was in reality only a few moments, the onslaught stopped. Although he was still trembling Harry cautiously opened his eyes and surveyed the damage. His right hand had several slits of glass that were embedded in it. His body ached and his leg was warped into an impossible angle, showing that it was undoubtedly broken. Harry wasn't sure it was a good or a bad thing that he couldn't feel the pain from the leg yet, but for the moment he was willing to except it as a plus. Slowly he pulled his left arm free and laid himself on his back.
It was when he realized that he was the only one still audibly breathing that he glanced around to the other occupants of the car. Dudley was laying half sideways out of the hole where his door used to be located. His aunt was in a most uncomfortable looking ball with her knees on the torn head rest. Harry sighed silently seeing short breathing coming from the pair, and he simply chose not to think about the blood that tainted the car.
His uncle he quickly realized was not in the car. Although he held no love for the man, he was still his uncle and Harry began trying to lift himself up to find him. He had no more than lifted himself to a crawling position when he heard faint footsteps approaching. His first thought was that it was an emergency crew. But he swallowed his shout for help as he saw the edge of a cape drape onto the ground.
That, Harry thought, Is definitely not a Muggle physician.
Trying not to make any noise Harry lowered his head to see out the back window and saw a man in a black cape, wand in hand, standing over his uncle's bloody body. Vernon was on the road about fifty feet behind the car, giving short ragged breaths. The man in the cloak waited a few moments before a single green curse emitted from the wand quickly putting an end to his Uncle's short breaths and his life altogether.
Harry's head jumped up so fast at the sight of the curse that his head thumped hard against the floor of the car, causing it to groan in protest. The man with the wand turned in an instant and began walking towards the car. Harry looked around the car for a weapon, anything to defend himself with. He thought briefly about making a run for the keys and then to the locked trunk but upon further inspection he saw that the keys had broken off in the ignition and there was no way to open the boot.
What Harry did find though was a long, jagged piece of glass, which he quickly grabbed. Ignoring the cuts that he was getting for holding the shard he quickly raised it, poised to strike at the man who had walked to his side of the car. The knee of the man bent and soon Harry saw his assailants face and swung hard at it with the glass.
The man seemed to almost be expecting the attack and had a hand ready to grab Harry's arm. Instead of trying to grab the glass with his other hand, the attacker used it to haul Harry out of the car in one fluid motion.
After the initial shock of the man's actions, Harry quickly remembered that he was still armed with the glass and swung again. This time the assailant knocked the glass from Harry with his left hand and brought his right hand around to grab Harry throat hard and hold him against the side of the car.
"Good Morning, Potter," said a familiarly cold voice.
Using his free hand the Death Eater ripped off his mask and grinned maliciously at Harry's struggling form.
"Fenrir!" gasped Harry.
This was the same werewolf that had bitten Remus Lupin when he was just a boy and condemned him to a life of horror. This was the same werewolf who had urged Draco Malfoy to kill Dumbledore. This was the same werewolf who inspired fear in all parents in the Wizarding world because his favorite victims were always children. This was the same werewolf that now held Harry's life in his hands.
"I'm so happy I could be the one to do this, Potter," he growled menacingly, "Poor little Remus will probably cry himself to death when he sees your body once I'm done with you."
With inhuman strength he lifted Harry off the ground and threw him twenty feet. Harry landed harshly on his already injured leg and let out a small scream of pain. Harry felt himself being lifted by the throat again and opened his eyes to see Fenrir practically purring.
"I was the one who turned him" he boasted to Harry, "did you know that? I heard he nearly committed suicide after the first full moon. Do you think he'll try to end it all again?"
Fenrir pushed Harry roughly against the side of the bridge and bent him backwards so that his upper body was hanging over the side.
"Well? Do you?" the werewolf asked vindictively, "Do you think he'll just jump off the side of this very bridge? Stand where you are now, weeping and slobbering like a blustering child and then jump?"
Fenrir pulled Harry off the side of the bridge and flung him onto the ground at his feet before adding, "How does it feel to know it would be all your fault?"
Fenrir bent down to Harry's level and jerked his head up by the hair.
"Aw, poor little defenseless Harry Potter" mocked Fenrir. "No more Dumbledore to save you. No more parents to sacrifice themselves for you. No more godfathers to get in the way. No, boy, it's just me and you now."
Fenrir reared his leg back and released it against Harry's side with all his strength, catapulting Harry to the opposite side of the bridge. Harry landed on the overturned car and the momentum carried him onto the other side of the car. Coughing blood, Harry looked around for some kind of weapon to defend himself with. Prophecy or not, if Harry took anymore blows from the werewolf he wouldn't be alive enough to fight anyone.
The all too familiar feeling of imminent death began to seep into his mind and replace the pain of the beatings he was receiving.
Harry tried to look around all the sides of the car in an effort to spot where the next attack might come from. Harry heard Fenrir shout in pure unadulterated fury and wondered what Harry had done to upset him further. Then Harry heard Fenrir shriek in pain and a torrent of blood flew over the top of his head and splattered the wall behind him.
What the hell was he doing? Harry asked himself, Surely he wasn't blooding himself up! So that must mean…
Harry raised himself up on his good leg just enough to see over the car. Sure enough there a second cloaked figure besides Fenrir Greyback. At first Harry assumed that the newcomer was a second Death Eater. But that was before he saw the long blade slash out threateningly towards the werewolf. The Newcomer's face was hidden behind a black hood but Harry guessed from his solid but thin build that he was a man.
The werewolf lunged at the Newcomer, mouth open wide, and within seconds both men were struggling against each other on the ground. Fenrir used his inhuman strength to try to pin the Newcomer down. The Newcomer instead used his flexibility to worm his way out of each stronghold. Finally the werewolf managed to pin the Newcomer down successfully.
Harry grimaced as he heard the hard collision of forehead against forehead reverberate across the bridge. The Newcomer had found himself on the receiving end of a superhuman headbutt. Deep scarlet liquid stained the faces of both men but the Newcomer owned an expression of pain rather than the triumphant one on Fenrir's face.
"WHO ARE YOU?" screamed the werewolf maintaining his hold.
The Newcomer merely spit blood into the werewolf's face. Fenrir really didn't seem to mind as he used his tongue to wipe it off but still gave the man a second headbutt for good measure.
"Are you with those Order freaks?" the werewolf questioned.
"I'm with Blockbuster Video, mutt!" responded the Newcomer defiantly.
The werewolf gave a third truly gruesome collision against the Newcomer's skull.
Harry could see the blood gushing from the pinned man's face. His nose broken, his forehead gushing nearly collapsed and bruises on his wrists from being restrained and yet the Newcomer never gave up. Harry felt a strange mix of admiration and pity for the Newcomer. He knew what it was like to be pinned down by a monster with no hope. But then again the Newcomer wasn't hopeless was he…
Harry had gone unnoticed by both parties during their struggle. If Harry moved quietly but quickly enough he could save the Newcomer and possibly himself. If only he had enough time to plan it out…
But unfortunately for Harry he did not have the time to plan out his rescue mission. The sight of the mangled flesh and the taste of the Newcomer's blood were too much for Fenrir to resist any longer. Harry saw the change in the werewolf's face seconds before it happened. The yes turned a midnight black and the knife like teeth lengthened considerably. A thick, pink, saliva dripping tongue emerged from Fenrir's mouth and swept over his pink lips in anticipation of the kill.
Harry, forced to work on his adrenaline rush and instinct once again, charged unmercifully. Harry threw all his weight and momentum into the impact and collided with the werewolf's shoulder sending them both flying. Fenrir, who had been to preoccupied by his unexpected prey, had been caught off guard. Harry landed almost ten feet away from the werewolf, who looked positively livid.
This time it was the werewolf who charged Harry who was still sprawled on the ground in the spread eagle position. The werewolf was closing in quickly and Harry's first instinct was RUN! but his bad leg gave out underneath him and Harry dropped to the ground like a stone. Harry struggling to get up again, tried to push down on the cement and lift but his right hand landed on something not so flat. Harry looked down and saw that the Newcomer's sword had been tossed there during the earlier struggle. Harry turned back and saw Fenrir only two feet away…
Grasping the handle, Harry leveled the blade out in front of him like a spear. By the time Fenrir noticed the sudden appearance of the sword it was too late. Carried by his own charges' momentum he was swiftly impaled through the chest by the sword, whose tips jettisoned out his back and a wave of fresh blood. Harry felt Fenrir go instantly still and the feeling of warm liquid carried itself across his abdomen, soaking into his shirt.
The werewolf's dead weight put even more pressure on the swords handled which was digging in a most uncomfortable way into Harry's stomach. The pain began to worsen as Harry struggled desperately to lift the weight of the dead body off of him. After three attempts Harry left the handle to be set against him painfully.
"Here let me help you with that, kid" said a gruff voice from above him.
Harry focused his attention on the hooded figure of the Newcomer. In, what Harry grumpily decided, was an effortless move, the man lifted the werewolf's body and dropped it to the ground next to Harry. Harry sighed contentedly as the building pressure of the handle blade was finally gone.
"Thank you," said Harry, lifting a hand to shield his eyes from the mid-day sun.
"I believe that's my line," said the Newcomer with what Harry could have sworn was a smile.
"Who are you?" asked Harry as he tried to stand.
The Newcomer grabbed his elbow to steady him and Harry leaned against him for support.
"I think we'd better get you outta here, kid," said the Newcomer, looking to the sky.
"I'm not sure how fast I'll be able to go with my leg all torn up," replied Harry.
At the words "torn up" the Newcomer snapped his head down to look Harry over. "Shit!" he cried as he realized that Harry's shirt was stained with blood from the chest down. Instantly the Newcomer pulled up the hem of Harry's shirt and nearly hauled it over his head.
"Hey!" cried Harry in alarm.
"Are you injured?" the man asked, still searching Harry over for the origin of the blood.
"It's his," explained Harry, pointing a thumb over his shoulder towards the dead werewolf.
"Take it off!" ordered the Newcomer immediately, "if you've any open wounds and the werewolf's blood mixes with yours you could become infected."
Harry ripped off the shirt and flung it onto Fenrir's lifeless form in under two seconds flat.
"That's a good lad," encouraged the Newcomer, "but we've still got to get out of here."
"Won't the Order be here soon?" asked Harry.
"Yes," said the Newcomer, "but it'll be worse if we're still here when they do."
"What?" asked Harry, "Why would it be worse?"
"Don't you see?" asked the Newcomer, "Only someone in the Order could have tipped off Voldemort and his crew."
Somehow Harry wasn't surprised that the Newcomer had no qualms about using Voldemort's name. Harry knew there were too many other wizards who had to use pseudonyms like 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" out of fear. But the idea that there could be a spy in the Order of the Phoenix troubled Harry.
"Who else knew about the last minute change in your arrival time, eh?" asked the Newcomer knowledgably.
Harry remembered that after Dumbledore's funeral both Professor McGonagall and Mad-Eye Moody had spoken to him about the travel arrangements to Kings Cross.
"We don't want to worry you, Potter" explained McGonagall, her teary face becoming suddenly firm.
"Worry me about what?" Harry has asked them.
"The Order feels that it's imperative to continue treating your security with the utmost scrutiny and proficiency," said Moody. "In light of that we don't want you traveling with the other students on the train, in case there was an incident."
"You think there will an attack on the Hogwarts Express?" cried Harry in alarm.
"We've received no confirmation of an attack, Potter," answered McGonagall, whilst glaring a hole through Moody's skull, "but we would like to continue being careful just in case."
"It's also important," reminded McGonagall, "that you are seen doing things as normally as possible so that people will start to feel comforted. Normally Albus would be the one setting those kinds of examples but…he's not here anymore."
"How can I act like I'm living my life as I always do if I'm not even on the train?" asked Harry.
"We'll be sending Bill Weasley under Polyjuice Potion so that people will think you're there."
"Not to mention it'll be good to have an extra wand at the ready," added Moody before seeing McGonagall's glare and adding, "just in case, of course."
Only Moody, McGonagall, Bill and Harry knew about the change in plans. Unless, of course, one of the other three had told someone else, but Harry doubted it was likely that they'd have done so. After all, Harry hadn't even told his friends. Harry had been flown to the Leaky Cauldron by Moody before catching a Portkey to Kings Cross. Since this plan had required much less time than riding the Hogwarts Express, he had arrived a good four hours earlier than the train.
His Aunt and Uncle had been waiting for him outside the train station as McGonagall had asked them and then they'd driven home. Well they'd almost made it home before the dragon attack and then Fenrir and now… here he was.
It seemed that Snape was not the only Order Member that Dumbledore had been mistaken about…
"Come on…" started the Newcomer when an enormous growl ripped through the sky from somewhere over the horizon.
"The dragon?" asked Harry dumbly.
"And his rider" said the Newcomer, scanning the sky around them, "Must have been given instructions to get you alone for the werewolf and then go terrorize the surrounding Muggles. We won't have much time before he comes back to check on the werewolf."
The Newcomer grabbed Harry by the arm and swiftly began guiding him towards the wrecked car.
"I thought that Fenrir was his rider," panted Harry as he tried to keep up on his injured leg.
"No," explained the Newcomer, "werewolves and dragons, like all dark creatures, don't mix well together. They're too antsy around each other to ever join forces and work together. The werewolf must have apparated here once the Rider told him where he'd left you."
The Newcomer let Harry lean against the overturned car before strolling over to his Cousin Dudley's unconscious form and checking for a pulse.
"Is he… alive?" asked Harry through the lump in his throat.
"Yes," answered the Newcomer while checking Petunia's pulse, "they both are."
The Newcomer took out two shoelaces from within his robe and tied one to each unconscious member of Harry's family.
"These are portkeys," explained the Newcomer in answer to Harry's curious expression, "they'll take them directly to St. Mungos in London. Portus."
The unconscious bodies of his Aunt and her son evaporated from sight and Harry said a silent prayer of thanks before asking, "What about us?"
"We've got other means of transport," answered the Newcomer cryptically.
"Which is… what exactly?" asked Harry trying to distinguish a broom or another portkey from the rubble of the day's battle.
"Just a moment," said the Newcomer as he went to the werewolf's body. "Looks like a kabob doesn't he?"
In one swift movement the Newcomer pulled the sword out of the werewolf's abdomen and sheathed it into a sling on his back.
"What is that thing?" asked Harry, referring to the weapon.
"This is called a katana," answered the Newcomer.
"And that's what's supposed to get us out of here?" exclaimed Harry. "Can't we just take a portkey, too?"
"I only had two of them, kid," shrugged the Newcomer.
A third roar from the Dragon was heard and this time they both could see the beast in the distance. Each massive wing was flapping hard in the air, bringing it ever closer to them.
"So what are we supposed to do now?" cried Harry.
"Come on, kid!" exclaimed the Newcomer in excitement, "haven't you ever wanted to slay a dragon before?"
"WHAT?" Harry shouted in panic and fear that maybe Fenrir's headbutt's had mentally incapacitated the Newcomer in some way.
The Newcomer chuckled and said, "Just kidding!"
Harry sighed out loud and the Newcomer laughed again.
"Grab onto me!"
Harry limped over to the Newcomer, using the car for support, and grabbed the man's right arm.
The dragon and its rider had now landed on the bridge.
"You can call me Jonathan!" the Newcomer yelled over the sound of another growl from the massive beast.
Harry smiled to himself and thought, And finally the Newcomer has a name.
A second later bright orange flames erupted around the pair and in the next they were gone. Leaving a bewildered Death Eater to look back and forth from the place where his targets had disappeared to his dragon that had never released any flames.
His master was not going to be happy about this…
12 Grimmauld Place
The Same Day
Deep within the bowels of 12 Grimmauld Place there was a disturbing argument brewing. In the converted basement/kitchen a large circular table had been constructed by Arthur Weasley so that every member of the Order of the Phoenix's Inner Circle could see each other equally. Mad-Eye Moody and Minerva McGonagall had just arrived with Bill Weasley and now the meeting was about to begin. Today's gathering would be a large factor on the fate of the Order of the Phoenix's future and who would decide it. With Dumbledore gone the position of leader was empty and desperately needed to be filled.
Despite her many protestation of taking over her friends' position, Minerva McGonagall was still the majority of the Order members' choice for the new leader. Minerva had already said that running Hogwarts was going to be time consuming enough and absolutely refused to take the position. While many people thought this was a plausible explanation, other thought it was because she was still grieving over Albus Dumbledore's death.
Another candidate to take over Dumbledore's position was Mad-Eye Moody himself. While it was true that Mad-Eye had a great many roles in leadership positions in the past and he knew more about Wizarding war tactics than anyone else in the Order, many people just couldn't stand taking orders from the deranged and highly paranoid ex-auror. The problem was people didn't trust his judgment enough to give their lives for him.
There were a few that thought Harry Potter might take over the Order of the Phoenix but there were too many members against that idea. In fact, the strongest voices against Harry's leadership were Molly and Arthur Weasley, who had known the boy the longest.
Remus Lupin's name was tossed into the air several times but shot down almost immediately. The fact was that three nights out of every month, and the weeks before and after, the Order's leader would be defenseless and dangerous to everyone around him. It would be too easy to cut off the "head" of the Order during those three days.
Several other names had been tossed around including Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt and the eldest Weasley boys. There were so many valid points for one candidate yet so many equally negative ones per candidate. There was simply no way to win. Dumbledore had had power and knowledge. He was a born leader and there was simply no way to replace him. But unfortunately they had to do it today.
But with such indecision the Order felt they needed a new way to select a leader. Strangely enough it was Rubeus Hagrid that provided them with the tools to which they needed to survive. Hagrid had found one of Fawkes's tail feathers and managed to preserve it for last week's meeting. Minerva McGonagall had recalled a complicated choosing spell that bordered dangerously on the Dark Arts. Unfortunately it was the only option they had left, one they couldn't afford to misuse.
"As Albus Dumbledore has instructed," started Minerva McGonagall, "I will lead today's meeting and then our newly chosen leader will take over for the next."
The assembled group nodded their heads and waited for the Headmistress to begin working on the ritual but to their surprise she did not. Instead she waited for every head in the room to be turned towards her before beginning again.
"I would like to begin today's meeting with a moment of reflective silence for Albus," she said personably to the group. "He gave so much to us that I feel it only right. If you could all please…"
The group took out their wands and raised them to their own temples and began to hum. When every eye in the room was closed Minerva crossed the room to the closed cabinet located there. With a quiet Alhomora the doors clicked open and she retrieved the object she desired. Before the humming ended completely she had relocked the cabinet doors and placed the object in front of the person standing directly beside her, Arthur Weasley.
Arthur opened his eyes and slowly pulled the wand away from his temple. Attached to the tip of the wand was a cloud of pale floating liquid that he led into the bowl below him. Next he slid the bowl to his wife, who was next to him, and sat back down on his hard wooden seat. Slowly, one by one, every member of the Order extracted a memory and placed it lovingly into the pensieve that McGonagall had retrieved. Finally there was only Minerva McGonagall to go and she took the most time. Nearly ten minutes past before she found the perfect memory of the man she held as her closest friend and placed in the pensieve.
When Minerva was done she silently moved the pensieve into the storage cabinet where it would sit until the fight of the Order of the Phoenix was done. Minerva remembered how nearly 16 years ago Albus and the surviving Order members had retrieved the pensieve and watched together the memories of the ones they had lost during the battles. It was, in the Wizarding world, the final act of closure for a group such as themselves. And here they were starting the fight all over again…
"Minerva?" called a tentative and sympathetic voice from her left.
Minerva McGonagall turned to look into the eyes of Nymphadora Tonks, her former pupil and current auror. Minerva smiled and brought her thoughts back to the here and now, where they were needed most. She saw the concerned looks that her fellow members were giving her and knew she must have been in quiet thought for some time. Nodding her thanks to Tonks she stood and raised her wand.
A brilliant blue flame shot out of the tip and stopped in the dead center of the room. It began to twirl and move, completely oblivious to the air currents, and continued to do so. Minerva summoned the phoenix feather that Hagrid had saved and with a thought sent it shooting into the blue flame. An explosion like fireworks erupted and sparks flew everywhere but didn't burn what they touched. Instead, they were snapped back into the flame from wherever they landed, the flame turning a violently red color. Minerva nodded to her fellow Order members and those that wished to become a leader stood from their seats.
Arthur, Bill and Charlie Weasley practically stood as one. Mad-Eye was slower but was followed, out of respect, by Kingsley Shacklebolt. Minerva gave it another thirty seconds in case others needed to gather up their courage but when no one else stood she sat down. After another ten seconds Minerva stood again to indicate that she too wanted to be a leader. She barely noticed the mixture of pleased and shocked faces that she had chosen to do so, especially after she had denied vehemently to take over.
Those that were standing each used a single thought to create the next step of the ritual. A knife appeared in each candidate's hand and without hesitation they drew deep cuts into their left palms. The blood from each candidate flowed along an invisible track in the air directly from them to the red flame. When the last of the blood trails connected with the flame, it changed to a deep plum color.
A single thought was echoed through the minds of those standing: Who will it be?
Without warning, the purple flames lit the blood trails on fire which raced back to the candidates so quickly no one had time to defend themselves. The flames burned the blood trails to nothingness and then seeped into the open wound sealing each of them with a burning hiss. Those standing screamed in agony as the last of the flames seared and scared their flesh with a painful burn.
Minerva looked down at her palms and saw the Roman numeral "I" branded onto her left hand where her wound had been. Inspired by an idea she grabbed Arthur Weasley's hand and confirmed her suspicions. She raced around the room looking at everyone's hand and when she finally came back to her seat the whole room was in uproar. Molly Weasley was magically wrapping her husbands hand in a cloth. Bill and Charlie were muttering to each other about the possible interpretations of the new scars. Mad-Eye Moody looked rather appalled at having been "tricked" into some kind of Dark spell and was furiously telling his neighbors about it. Kingsley Shacklebolt was speaking to Tonks and Remus Lupin about his new "birthmark".
McGonagall cleared her throat once, and when people continued to talk she decided to use a tactic that she reserved for intolerably gossip filled first years. Using her thought magic she raised her wands and the sound of nail screeching down a chalkboard filled the room. Finally they turned to her and she stopped.
"Now that we've all settled down" she said sternly, "I believe it is time to discuss what's happened. If we could all sit, please."
"Why did it burn us, Minerva?" asked Arthur.
"Because it was Dark magic, Weasley!" cried Moody, "We've all been duped into it by her!"
"Oh shut up, Mad-Eye!" rebuked Molly Weasley, "I've had enough of your complaining about Minerva! Honestly you act like a two year old sometimes!"
Mad-Eye sat back down on his chair and Minerva could have sworn she heard him mutter something about being "in cahoots".
"If all those who were candidates would please show their hands" she instructed as one by one they followed her lead.
"Your left hand, Charlie!" whispered Molly Weasley across the table to her son.
Minerva almost smiled.
"As you can see we each have been given Roman numerals," she pointed out.
The group looked to each hand and nodded their agreement of the observation before Tonks found the flaw.
"But I thought the next in line was the only one to be marked."
Minerva smiled, "When using the regular ingredients, yes. But since we had a phoenix feather with us the results were more than expected."
"More?" asked Moody triumphantly, "I told you it was Dark magic. You never get the proper results when you use it!"
Minerva continued as if he hadn't interrupted, "Not only did it choose the next in line, but it gave us a line of succession. Thus if the current leader is under duress than the next in line will take over and we won't have to repeat the spell at a later date."
"Does it start at 'one' and go to 'six', or the other way around?" asked Charlie hesitantly.
"I'm not sure" confessed Minerva.
"Who has 'one' and who has 'six'?" asked Molly.
"I have 'one'," declared Minerva with a faint blush that only her closest neighbors could see.
"I have 'six'," said Charlie Weasley with a grin.
"That settles it," said Bill with a grin of his own, "It goes one to six."
Charlie smacked him in the head but it lightened the mood considerably.
"Very well then," said Arthur, "Minerva is our new Order leader. Agreed?"
A chorus of 'agreed' followed except for one noticeable voice.
"Alastor?" said Arthur archly.
"Fine," said Moody gruffly, after a pause in which every Order member had glared at him.
The Island of Aeolus
The Same Day
A white and grey seagull was perched on a rotting piece of driftwood, contentedly cleansing itself with its beak, when a flash of violent orange flames erupted not five feet from its resting place. A young raven haired boy fell to the ground and was helped up by a man in a black robe. The seagull took flight into the air with an irritated croak, leaving the two men as the only occupants of the seemingly abandoned pearl white beach.
The man named Jonathan lowered the hood of his robes and smiled at his surroundings. He looked to his companion, grinned and asked, "So what do you think, Harry?"
Harry looked up from the beach towards his rescuer, expecting to see a hood, and instead he saw Jonathan's face for the first time. Buzzed black hair mixed nicely with his chocolate eyes making him appear younger than Harry thought at first. Sculpted facial features gave the man a tough look but it all came together quite well.
Harry swept his gaze from Jonathan's smiling face to the perimeter around them. Tall green trees stood sentinel between the pearl colored sands and the forest interior. Harry was strongly reminded of a picture his Aunt Petunia had stuck to her fridge that one of her "weekly tea party friends" had sent her while on vacation. The words "WISH YOU WERE HERE" had been stamped across the bottom in large white block letters, while the background had been a beautiful Hawaiian beach.
"Are we in Hawaii?" asked Harry curiously.
"No," chuckled Jonathan, "We're in a much better place. What made you think it was Hawaii?"
"Just something my Aunt showed me once."
The memory of the postcard merely reminded Harry of the incident on the bridge no more than an hour ago. He sighed and added his Uncle Vernon to the growing list of casualties in his mind.
When would it end? he asked himself angrily, before answering his own question, When you kill him.
Jonathan placed a comforting hand on Harry's shoulder and said, "Don't dwell on it, Harry. You'll avenge them all soon enough."
"Yeah, but HOW?" Harry exploded knocking the hand away and falling to his knees as his the last of his strength gave way. "That's what everyone keeps saying but how do they know. Merlin, I don't even know what I'm going to do!"
The prophecy looming in the background combined with the deaths of the people that were supposed to be constants in his life was too much for him. With Dumbledore's funeral just the other day and Fenrir's attack, Harry knew things were coming together too fast. Just last week he'd been afraid of taking a life, and yet this morning he had taken his first life. It was just too much, too fast.
While Harry was busy filtering through his own emotions, Jonathan had been watching him closely. He knelt down beside Harry and placed the hand back on the young man's shoulder. Harry turned to his rescuer with a wondering look.
Jonathan sighed and asked, "Would you like to know how to fight, Harry?"
Harry eyes widened and he sat quietly for a moment before replying, "I want to know how to protect my friends… I don't want them to die because of my weaknesses."
Jonathan nodded and asked, "You know there's only one way to protect them, don't you?"
"He told you the prophecy didn't he, Jonathan," Harry stated; it was not a question.
Neither male felt any need to clarify exactly who 'he' was.
"He did," admitted Jonathan. "If you ask me, I will teach you Harry. But remember that I won't just be teaching you how to defend yourself. If you start training, I'll teach you how to kill. And you, Harry, will have to be willing to learn. You may not want to be a killer Harry, but sometimes you don't have a choice."
"Like this morning?" asked Harry.
Jonathan nodded, "Exactly like this morning. I know that you may not feel like it now, but it was self defense. And next time, and yes there will be a next time, you may not have the luxury of claiming self defense."
Harry felt tears in his eyes and uncertainty building in his chest.
"It won't be easy Harry, none of it will be," Jonathan continued, "but what in life is anymore?"
Could he do it? he asked himself. Could he learn how to take a life? Could he become a killer?
And yet, from the deepest recesses of his mind, the answer came quickly.
You don't have a choice.
Jonathan stood and offered Harry his hand.
Harry stared at the hand in what felt like the longest moment in his life before he reached out and grasped Jonathan's hand in silent agreement.
As Jonathan led Harry through tall trees and into the forest he could hear a teasing voice calling out to him from inside his mind.
Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Became-A-Killer.
The Same Day
Remus was going absolutely insane with worry. Not that Tonks blamed her fiancée for being panicked, but she had never seen him more upset. Tonks could vividly remember each night of the full moon before a transformation, how upset Remus always became. Tonks hated to see the object of her affections in such turmoil, but this was ten times worse. Her heart pounded painfully against her chest as she watched Remus move from one spot of the bridge to another. She couldn't imagine how badly Remus would react if he found some evidence that Harry had been killed during the attack.
Half an hour after the selection ritual had ended, Fred and George Weasley had bounded into the meeting and announced that there had been an attack made against Harry. The room had gone deathly silent until Fred explained that there had been no body matching Harry's description at the scene. McGonagall, seizing what little hope she could out of the information, had sprung into action and ordered Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody to investigate the scene.
Remus demanded to go but McGonagall thought he might be too unstable at the moment. Tonks had never known Remus to curse, but he had spouted off a dictionary full of swears at Minerva before fleeing the room. Tonks chased after him and caught his arm before he apparated to the bridge, dragging Tonks along for the ride. She and Remus had just landed off to the side of the bridge when they were pulled into the brush by Moody and Kingsley.
Tonks counted over a dozen Muggle policemen scouring over the site looking for clues. After another thirty minutes of waiting, Moody became impatient and ordered them all to take out their wands. Tonks, Remus, Kingsley and Moody began wordlessly casting Muggle-repelling charms along the bridge until every muggle was forced away. Once the last muggle was out of seeing distance Remus charged onto the bridge, leaving the others in his wake.
Ten minutes later and Tonks was standing on the bridge, still waiting for one of her three companions to voice some of their conclusions about the crime scene. Suddenly Remus stood still and looked to her. Tonks knew the look well enough to know that Remus had just made some kind of discovery.
"What is it?" she asked quietly as she approached.
"I can smell him," he said, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
"We knew Harry was here, Remus," she said gripping his shoulder in support.
"Not Harry," said Remus, "Fenrir."
"Shit!" said Tonks, cracking the heel of her boot against the hard pavement. She hoped to Merlin that Harry hadn't been bitten.
"What is it?" asked Kingsley, who had heard the violent exclamation.
"Fenrir was here," Remus said distractedly.
Kingsley opened his mouth to reply but Tonks held up a firm hand, motioning for quiet.
Remus moved to the overturned vehicle and crouched down beside one of the smashed windows. He lowered himself to all fours and sniffed at a bloody shard.
"This has Harry all over it," Remus said before following the smell of Harry's scent across the bridge to another blood stain. "And this does, too."
"The kid's taken worse beatings," said Moody gruffly.
Tonks glared at the ex-auror and prayed that Remus wouldn't be able to say any of the other blood belonged to Harry. Unfortunately for her, Remus was able to uncover four more moderately sized puddles of blood that had once been inside Harry. Tonks also silently cheered for Harry when Remus smelled two even larger pools of blood that belonged to Fenrir.
"That's too much blood lost for him to still be alive," commented Kingsley, of Fenrir's twin pools of blood.
"Then where's the body?" asked Tonks.
"Muggles must have taken it with them," Moody said to Kingsley, "Remember that mortuary van? The werewolf must have been its only customer."
"Not the only one," said Remus sadly, as they all turned back to him. "None of Harry's family is here either."
Four faces fell at the thought that now Harry had lost everyone he was related to. Even though Tonks had seen how badly Harry was mistreated at the Dursley's home, it was still horrible to think that Harry was all alone now. Or was Harry also in the mortuary van? Tonks voiced her concerns to the group.
"His scent disappears here," said Remus, pointing to a section of concrete by the car. "I can sense some residual magic, so he must have disapparated."
"That's good news at least," said Kingsley.
"Not really," sighed Remus, "There's another scent here with him that also disappears."
"You think he was taken?" asked Tonks worriedly.
"Does it look like he went willingly?" replied Moody sarcastically.
"Actually I think he did," Remus countered, "There's no blood here or any sign of a struggle at this point. I'm sure he went willingly."
"Could have been unconscious" offered Moody.
"Harry was bleeding, Mad-Eye," said Remus, "If he dropped anywhere due to a curse of exhaustion, there'd be blood there to indicate it. And unless you can tell me you are better at sensing blood than I am, I'm going to assume he went willingly."
Moody scowled but held his tongue. Tonks knew he hated being proved wrong so often.
"Did we have anyone here with Harry?" asked Kingsley.
"I told McGonagall there should have been someone stationed on a broom" cried Moody in his 'I-Told-You-So!' voice.
"So if we didn't have anyone here," asked Tonks slowly, "than who did he leave with?"
A deadly silence filled the air as the implications began to brew in the quartet's minds.
"I don't know," said Remus finally, "but whoever it was, he wasn't one of ours."
County Morgue's Office
The Same Day
Jason Lendridge had always hated his job. Being the night watchmen at the local Morgue was not his idea of a perfect summer job. There were only two reasons he put up with it. The first was because the pay was good and it was close to his apartment. Coming from a family that was just on the cusp between middle and lower class wasn't exactly helping him with his university tuition money. As it was he needed to keep both this job and the one at the school to pay the minimum amount to stay in school. Between working and keeping his tennis scholarship he had barely enough time to sleep.
The second reason was that no one ever visited the morgue this late at night so he had plenty of time to finish off the last of his homework. His friends constantly mocked him or tried to scare him with stories about the living dead but after a while he had gotten used to them. Or so he had thought up until ten minutes ago.
While finishing up the last of his English paper he had taken a casual glance at the rack of security monitors on the wall behind him. At first everything had appeared normal until he reached the camera labeled '3F'. This screen, on the third shelf and the sixth one from the left, had been filled with television snow. Jason felt a brief flitter in his stomach before he felt resigned to do his duty.
He followed protocol and checked to make sure that all the wires were hooked up correctly before locking up his small security room. His office, which he shared with the day and swing shift guards, was located at the end of the main hall opposite the front doors. During nights like this, when the full moon was out, light cascaded into the hall from the front doors. Thus creating shadows on the large pillars that lined both sides of the hall.
Jason's shoes echoed loudly as he walked across the main hallway to make sure the main entrance was still padlocked securely. When he verified that it was, he turned and walked back to his office. At the halfway point he could have sworn he heard an animal growling in the shadows and he stopped. His heart pounding louder than his echoing shoes.
"Hello?" he called out into the darkness.
If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Jason physically shook his head to clear out the Friedrich Nietzsche quote that he remembered from his morning psychology class. He had thought it was cool this morning, now it scared the living shit out of him.
When nothing attacked, him Jason sighed and continued his walk down the main hall, convincing himself the noises had all been in his head. At the end of the hall he turned right and bravely stepped into the infinite darkness, using his memory as a guide, until he reached the elevators. Two identical steel doors stood in front of him, each labeled 1 to 6 above the entrances. When the elevators were had not been used in two hours they were supposed to wait on the third floor until someone pressed the call button. Otherwise they were supposed to wait on the floor they had last opened at. Jason checked his watch nervously and saw that it had been over three hours since anyone had used the elevators. Yet only one of them was waiting on the third floor.
The other was patiently waiting on the fourth floor. The ground floor. Jason's floor.
Jason swallowed hard and pressed the call button. The door on his floor swung open immediately and revealed…
Jason broke into a fit of laughter as he let out the breath he had subconsciously been holding. He stepped into the elevator and pressed the button label '1'. The button lit up and the doors closed automatically before slowly lowering Jason to the bottom floor…the Morgue Storage Level.
Camera number '3F' was located in the Morgue's primary storage room. Jason had only been forced to go down there twice. The first time was when he was being given the tour of the place by the swing-shift guard. And the second, when one of the camera's in the room had shorted out. Jason hoped that this was going to be the same as the latter.
The elevator doors opened revealing a single thin corridor. Dangling from the ceiling were three rows of flickering lights that gave the room a haunted feel. One of the many reasons that Jason hated having to come down to this floor. Even the second floor had better lights than this one. Jason knew that the power from this floor was mainly given over to the cooling fridges at night to conserve energy but that didn't help him now.
Jason strolled past three swinging doors before coming to the right one. He pushed one of the double doors open and entered the room. Jason stopped dead at the sight before him. To his left were the cooling fridges, each stacked in columns next to each other like a giant game of tic-tac-toe. On his right were five display tables, where the bodies were cleaned and given proper autopsies before being sown back up and stored in one of the fridges. Camera '3F' was supposed to be mounted on the back right hand corner wall… but it wasn't.
The camera lay in pieces on the ground below its holder, giving out sparks of electricity every few seconds. Jason saw a piece of heavily dented metal lying next to the camera pieces. Jason realized that it was one of the doors to the fridges. Glancing quickly to his right, Jason saw that the dead center storage fridge was missing both a door and a body. Jason hurried over to the dented door and bent down to examine it.
Scratch marks scarred one side of the door as if some kind of animal had broken its way out of the container. Something that wasn't dead… anymore.
Jason's mind screamed at him about the animal sounds he had heard earlier and he knew he was no longer alone in the morgue tonight. There was something else here and it was strong enough to dent a very thick metal door.
There was a loud 'ding' noise behind him and Justin turned so fast he tripped over his own feet and fell to the ground in a heap.
Jason scrambled into a standing position and tiptoed over to the swinging doors. He placed a hand against them and pushed slowly, opening the door a fraction of an inch at a time. When he could see down the corridor he stopped pushing and focused his eyes on the shadow by the elevators. Something with lots of… fur… was sniffing the ground and Jason put his free hand over his mouth to stop the scream from erupting out of his mouth. He could have sworn he felt his whole stock of hair turn white at the sight of the beast.
It was like a coyote… no something bigger… a bear maybe.
There aren't any bears around here! he thought wildly.
The monster suddenly snorted and looked down the slim hallway. Jason felt his breath catch in his throat. It was almost as if it were looking right at him and… was it grinning?
Jason's heart was doing double time as he eased the door shut and backed away from the door. He kept backing up until he felt his back hit something hard and he screamed and turned to face it.
Just a wall.
A growl from the hallway and Jason nearly pissed himself.
The sound of four limbs stalking closer to the door and he did.
Frightened and embarrassed Jason's survival instincts kicked in.
Jason looked around but there was no place to hide in a morgue unless you were dead!
Jason ran to the nearest storage freezer, threw open the door and pulled the tray out. There was already a corpse on the slab but he didn't care. Jason climbed onto the dead body, placed his hands on the side of the container and slowly reeled the tray back into the freezer. As he closed the door to the storage freezer he saw the swinging door open.
Jason waited for what felt like hours, straining to stop himself from making any noise and tried to listen to the sounds of the animal outside his hiding place. At one point he thought he heard sniffing noises coming from outside his container but he held it together. Then he heard the swinging door open and close again and he sighed with relief.
But then a loud banging noise erupted from somewhere in the room and he prayed to God it wasn't what he thought it was.
The monster was slowly breaking into each of the storage freezers and pulling out the occupants. Jason knew it was only a matter of time before…
His door dented and Jason started to cry.
Another jab, this one more ferocious, and the corners of the door bent inwards.
Jason braced himself as the third and final shove sent the doors flying into him. He gasped at the pain of the contact but hid his head in his arms as tears streamed down his face. He felt wetness against the top of his head and he shuddered.
He was being tasted.
Jason looked up and saw the beast's grey eyes staring back at him. And then the attack began.
A mouth with two rows of knife like teeth dug into his shoulder and the Beast dragged him painfully out of the freezer and onto the floor. Jason screamed in pain as he was dragged into the center of the room, a bloody trail marking his trek across the room. Finally the teeth released him and he spit up blood.
The beast placed his rear on Jason's legs and bent his head down towards Jason's abdomen, it used its nose to push Jason's shirt up to his neck. Jason was immobilized in fear and didn't realize what was going to happen until the moment before it did. The beast reared back its head, let out a triumphant howl before using its teeth to dig into the tennis toned stomach of Jason Lendridge.
When Jason had stopped screaming and the floor of the autopsy room had been flooded with the youths blood the creature stepped back from its prey. It crawled up into the corner of the room like a lonely puppy and slowly fell asleep.
But before the monster's mind left consciousness completely it had one last amusing thought.
"Potter should have known to use a silver blade against me…"
LAST UPDATED: August 11, 2005
The mention of Blockbuster by Jonathan during the bridge scene is a tribute to the Bill Murray movie "The Man Who Knew Too Little." I recommend it to all of you. Some of you may remember this fic as the PHOENIX FIRE TRILOGY. Most people thought it to be abandoned but it was actually under revision to include OoTP and now HBP. I would like to thank my wonderful beta Vira for all her hard work. There is also no Britpicker for this fic so I ask you all to forgive me if you're offended by that. Somehow I think elevator sounds better in this chapter than lift, don't you?
The next chapter: THE ISLAND LIFE will be available in the next few days. But for those of you who can't wait there is a rough draft version on my yahoo group (http/groups. you for reading and please know that the more reviews I receive the faster I will update! And why yes this is a bribe, don't you just love those?