Title: Harry Potter and the Cup of Death
Synopsis: Post HBP Harry decides to forgo returning to Hogwarts to search for the remaining Horcruxes with Ron, Hermione and the only one who can complete the riddles Dumbledore has left Harry.
Disclaimer: I am in the sandpit- JK Rowling, Warner Brothers and Scholastic own all rights to everything you recognize.
A/N: This story is a sequel to two other stories of mine 'Unseeing eyes' – which I recommend reading first, and 'The Perfect Plan' – which I haven't quite finished yet and is really just based on the account Sirius gives to Harry of the night the Potters were killed. I have also just posted the beginning of a series of HP poems most of which will involve this 'universe' under the name 'Poisoned Chalice'
"I will drink the poison you hand me.
I will not hesitate to take death from you.
I will drink your poisoned chalice.
And I will change the world."
-Aislinn Vitelli, extract from 'Poisoned Chalice'
Chapter One: Time To Grieve
Mist crept across the ground as though it had a life of its own. It swirled and moved around the open fields and through hedges, around frozen half dead flowerbeds and birdbaths. From the window Aislinn could see the high fence with its wrought iron gates and the white gravel pathway that led up to the house. Behind her the fire she had enchanted earlier had faded away to a few sullenly glowing coals. She blinked and shifted to sit straighter in the window seat, as she did do the large textbook in her lap fell to the carpeted floor with a muffled thump. Shifting underneath the thick patchwork quilt, she leaned down, her hand scrabbling like a pale spider on the dark Arabian patterned carpet for the book. Finally she clutched the book and straightened. She shivered and settled back under the blanket, her pale blue, bloodshot eyes glanced out at the gently swirling mist again.
She shifted once more as she blinked at the mist; she could almost imagine that a tall figure would appear in the mist, silver beard glistening by moonlight, eyes twinkling with happiness as he strode confidently down the path, eyes glancing to see her waiting for him. For a moment her daydream seemed to solidify but she blinked and he was gone. She shivered. And finally shifted, her bare feet touched the floor she carefully walked over to the bookshelf, she returned Advanced Defensive Magic by Louis Roquefort to its place between Jinxes for the Jinxed and Defending Against the Dark Arts.
Behind her she heard soft footsteps in the hall, for a moment her heart leapt- partially in fear and partially in hope- then she shook off the feeling. She was not alone with her heavy footed and sleeping governess tonight; she was now in a house being guarded by the Order of the Phoenix.
Behind her the door swung open on silent hinges.
"Aislinn?" came the soft and sleepy voice of her old tutor. She turned to face him. Remus Lupin was rumpled looking, his tired eyes blinking blearily, his hastily pulled on dressing gown was threadbare and from what she could see the pajamas underneath were equally old. "You should be in bed, we are leaving early in the morning." he added with a slightly reproachful tone.
"Yes." Her reply was soft and accepting. He sighed, and ran a hand through his already messy hair. He walked into the library and closed the door; his eyes ran over the window seat and her patched quilt and almost extinct embers and then glanced at the bookshelf behind her. Slowly he walked to the table and chairs on that side of the long hall that was the library in the Vitelli household.
Remus pulled back two chairs and indicated that she should sit down as she walked over he lifted his wand and twirled it, a tray with steaming mugs and a round apple cake appeared and lowered onto the table. As she sat he flicked his wand at each of the six fireplaces in the library, one by one they came alight, next he waved his wand at the candles on the tables and they sprang to life, flickering softly and helping bathe the room with a cheery look that belied the tension in the room.
Remus poured the thick brown liquid into two small cups, Aislinn recognized the dreamy smell of hot chocolate and a tiny smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Here Aislinn," he said passing her a cup.
"Now Aislinn, we have to talk about some things I wasn't going to raise so soon-" he was staring at her with an expression of regret and sadness. "- but I think perhaps it is time to start talking about some arrangements that need to be made." She nodded woodenly; she didn't want to talk about changes just now, she wanted desperately to pretend nothing had happened- that he was coming back. And she didn't want to talk about anymore 'arrangements'.
The last time someone had wanted to talk about arrangements it had been Professor McGonagall, the small but wiry Professor had arrived early that morning with three members of the Order, her face grooved by new lines and her eyes bloodshot. Aislinn had rushed to answer the door, she had felt the blood drain out of her face at the sight of McGonagall and Lupin, she had seen the grief in their faces. Neither had spoken, Aislinn had asked with a silent tilt of her head the question she could not utter, the little sniffle that had escaped her Transfiguration teacher told her everything she feared and with a little cry she had turned and run, robes billowing out behind her as she raced through the house to her Great Uncle's study.
The rest of that day had been a blur; the only friends she had known-teachers mainly drawn from the Order of the Phoenix had come and gone. They had told her their plans for his burial- she had agreed to them. Lupin had told her the way he had died, he held her as though he thought she would weep and bury her face in his shoulder, instead she had stared at the small coffee table with it's engraved little legs and clenched her fists in silent anger, clenched them until her fingernails broke her skin and a little blood ran down and dripped from her fists.
Severus Snape was a face she remembered- he had not been a teacher but he had visited them once, she had peeked into the sitting room with wide eyes to see her Great Uncle's visitor and had shied away- the man had a cruel face she remembered thinking, his dark eyes piercing and unfriendly behind layers of greasy hair. When Uncle Albus offered that Snape could teach her Potions the next year she had vociferously demanded a different teacher. And so it had been an ex-auror friend of her father's who had taught her that year and the next year it Was Mad-Eye Moody whenever he had had the time to visit.
She shivered as she realized Lupin was waiting patiently for her to return to the present. She did not wish to know how many guards would be surrounding her now that Snape had disappeared, he had been at Hogwarts long enough to have guessed at her existence and he had been to the house when she was a child- and while she always had to stay in her room when visitors were there he had probably seen enough to guess there was a child in the house. And possibly even enough to guess which of the three Vitelli children had survived the last war when they were supposed to have died.
She lifted the hot chocolate and drank a mouthful and Lupin's face twitched slightly, a momentary look of anguish she had seen on others' faces as they saw an expression or a movement like her Great Uncle's. She had never before thought of him as 'Great Uncle', before he was just 'Uncle Albus'. Now she seemed to need the distance of calling him 'Great Uncle'. She tilted her head and looked up at Lupins shadowed eyes to let him know he had her attention.
"Professor McGonagall spoke to Harry Potter before coming here this morning." she nodded to say she already knew that and he too sipped his drink. "He has refused to tell her what he and Dumbledore-" he paused awkwardly for a moment before clearing his throat and continuing. "- what they were doing. She suspects- as do I- that you know something about it." He added delicately. "There are things that Profe-" he broke off and she nodded again, more jerkily and with a sense of her stomach leaping into her throat. She knew the name he was refusing to speak in front of her. He sighed again.
"Professor McGonagall thought you might tell at least some members of the Order (me and her at least) something about what they were doing." He finished quietly, his eyes betraying how important her answer would be.
"Lupin. I wish I could tell you." She shook her head and lowered her eyes from hi, auburn hair falling across her face to hide her from him. "I don't know everything, I know a little of many things- but he never told me everything. And what he told me was in strict confidence." She looked up at him from behind her hair. "Some things I know I'm sure he never intended me to know." Remus nodded and sighed.
"I'm sorry Lupin, I truly am." He nodded again and gave her a slight smile.
"I understand." She smiled her thanks at him, a bare curl at the corners ofher lips. "There are other things I need to talk to you about- I believe it is time for you to come out of hiding. I know it was intended that you should remain hidden from the wizarding world at least until your coming of age- or even longer." He paused and shifted uncomfortable, his fingers rising to rub at the scars that ran diagonally across his face.
"But you're an extraordinary witch and your strength and wisdom- not to mention your family name and position would be a boost to wizards everywhere – not to mention those in the Order who don't know of your existence. And a wound to Voldemort and his followers." He smiled. "To know a member of the Vitelli family survived the repeated attacks and the despicable way your family was killed…"
"I know what my appearance would do." She shifted as he looked at her with eyes full of sorrow at the words he had spoken. "I understand it Remus." He shifted in an uncomfortable way. "And I - I can't yet. Not yet."
"I rather thought you would say that." He said softly. "The others thought it should wait so as to give you more time to grieve." he reached a hand out and placed it on her shoulder. "But I think you're stronger than any of us have given you credit for." She looked up and smiled slightly at his whispered words.
"Remus, I don't need time to grieve- I will never stop grieving ." She stood slowly.
"I should go now, I do have to be up tomorrow. Good night Remus" hesmiled.
"Good night. Sheslowly walked across the room and pulled the door shut behind her with barely a sound, he heard her bare feet pad up the stairs.
He raised his cup to his lips. "No more grieving." He said softly to himself and took a sip of chocolate.
A/N: Very slow first chapter but it will pick up soon I promise!