Sorry for the delay. You may not believe it but I have been trying to focus on finishing another fic - one that I've been writing even longer than Weapon. I've nearly finished all the chapters for that one, which will be good for its readers. Then I can hopefully focus more evenly on fics.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed, you are the greatest. For people asking, the chapters on FFnet and AFFnet are usually the same - except where noted.
Weapon XC Remorse
"What?" Grey eyes opened wide in surprise.
"Show me your wings," Harry repeated. "Don't bother pretending you don't have them."
"I don't know what you are talking about," the blond replied.
Harry sighed. This was just not his day. "Draco, don't bother trying to lie to me. I really don't like it when people lie to me. You bear the blood of a tenshi in your veins so of course you have wings. Show them to me."
There had been a tiny possibility that Draco hadn't known about his heritage but the fact that he did not even blink when Harry spoke the word tenshi removed all doubt. The blond knew but just like all beings who were caught out from a truth they did not want to reveal, he was struggling to hide it. "Or is your blood so diluted, you don't have wings?" Harry added the challenge.
"Shut up Potter! What would you know?"
"Quite a bit actually. Come on Draco, you know the truth about me, why wouldn't I know the truth about you?"
The blond looked infuriated for a moment before he forced himself back to calm. Harry was impressed again at the maturity that the boy was displaying. He had no regrets about the fact that he'd eventually crush Draco like an ant but if things had of been different… perhaps the boy would have been a decent ally. It was not to be and there was no point in dwelling on those things that could not be changed.
"Humph. I suppose that is fair," Draco allowed. "All right, Potter, if you are that desperate, I'll show you but don't complain to me about the consequences."
Harry laughed. "When have I ever complained about consequences?"
Despite the fact it was winter, and the snow was lying thinly on the ground Draco shed his outer robes, folding them roughly before he laid them on the driest patch of ground he could find. He didn't remove his inner shirt and there was a faint ripping sound before his wings flashed into being. They were small and white and Harry doubted they'd be able to carry the boy for any distance. Maybe he could glide, and they'd be good enough in emergencies but they weren't like his. Draco couldn't fly, not like he could. Internally Harry grinned, inexplicably pleased.
The blond seemed happy as well and Harry could well imagine the surge of power going through Malfoy at the moment. He hoped they were far enough away from the castle that it wouldn't immediately arouse suspicion but he couldn't bring himself to care. "Very nice," he complimented the blond.
"Aren't they?" Draco smiled. Grey eyes glowed and he twirled his wand through one hand and Harry could see the little sparks that it shot out in response to the boy's elevated power levels. Draco had quite a nice flow of magic through him now. It was far more than a usual wizard but not enough to really cause him problems. Malfoy could challenge Dumbledore if not for the vast gap in experience and Harry began to see how the boy thought he could be his own side in this conflict. But it wouldn't be enough. It couldn't be enough to stop him.
"Kind of ostentatious and rather conspicuous though."
"Oh I don't think so," the Slytherin disagreed, "but if it makes you feel better, I'll cast a concealment charm." Draco waved his wand with the words and Harry felt a barrier materialise over the Quidditch Pitch. It wasn't the charm he'd have used but it was serviceable enough and would sufficiently muffle the power of their fight from those who should be asleep in the castle.
"I wasn't talking about your wings," Harry said.
Draco frowned and the expression did not suit him. "What?"
Harry let the grin he'd been hold back flow on to his face. "I wasn't talking about your wings," he repeated, reaching his arms up as if to yawn, his fists touching his shoulders. With a swift motion, almost as if he was pulling down he let his own wings out.
The sound of fear in the blond's voice gave Harry a thrill. He let his wings arch high over his head and fanned the air lightly.
"That's not possible," Draco brought himself under control though his voice still quavered slightly.
"Because if either of your parents had of been a tenshi, the Serpent Lord would never have been able to kill them."
"They were both human," Harry agreed, lowering both wings so that they swept the ground and tucked in close to his body.
"Then this is not possible. I will grant Potter, it's a very good illusion."
"I think you'll find it's more than possible, Malfoy." There was a rush of power through his body and Harry felt energised. If the Shadows had of been here they would have been feasting. But they weren't and he would not call them back just yet. Not until he calmed down. And all this talk was hardly calming. With a quick flick, Harry shot out a spell and the duel was joined again.
It was more fluid this time, their charms and hexes more powerful and their range of movement greater. As he had suspected, Draco could not fly, but he could and did use his wings to vastly improve how high he could jump and he used them to change his trajectory mid leap. He was practiced with them and his power flows were smooth but Harry was simply stronger.
The blond held his own for a while, but every now and then Harry slipped a jinx or hex through his defences. He had a soft smile on his face and sometimes the black haired wizard didn't counter or dodge one of Draco's charms. At those times he flicked one wing out, catching the charm in his feathers or using them to repel the charm, usually straight back at its caster.
"It's not possible!" Draco screamed again and Harry laughed.
"I told you it's more than possible, Malfoy."
"How?" the blond screamed, throwing everything he could at the black haired wizard.
"I'm the Chosen One. I am meant to defeat the strongest Dark Lord in centuries. Of course I need power to do that."
"But you aren't going to defeat him!"
"And you are one of the few privileged enough to know that truth."
"Why?!" The quarterling snarled.
"That is the core of the matter," Harry agreed. "The answer is pretty simple," he continued, and the two of them paused in their spell casting. "He told me the truth Draco. It seems such a simple thing doesn't it?"
"Indeed, it is a bit more complex than that. He told me the truth and that was the start. And then he showed me the truth and after that he waited. He waited until I could accept that truth."
"That cannot be everything," the blond objected.
"That is a much abridged version," Harry admitted with a shrug. "We don't have time for me to elaborate." The blond was dripping blood from several wounds while Harry still seemed fresh. "I'm not going to kill you now. I was but I think I'll leave it to another day. Never under-estimate the power of the truth, Draco. It is far more precious that most will ever understand." Harry lowered his head, his green eyes sad and their sparkle dull.
The Gryffindor was not so lost in the grief of his memories that he missed the blond's attack and with a contemptuous ease he flicked away the curse, green eyes rising to meet gray. Harry shook his head, and it should have been a warning but Draco had never taken those subtleties well and continued to attack.
Charm after charm, jinx and curse he rained down on the Gryffindor and Harry seemed to take every one of them. But nothing worked. Everything was shrugged off or never even hit the black haired wizard. Green eyes just watched the efforts, the expression dull and uncaring. Draco was expecting counter attack and so he was moving as he cast but he was not as careful as he should have been and the instant he dodged too close, Harry reached out, his hands faster than quicksilver as he gripped the blond's throat. There was a startled yelp and Harry looked down at his prize.
"I said I would not kill you Draco, but if you irritate me, I will make an exception," he said softly. Harry brought his free hand around and spread his fingers over Malfoy's face. Energy crackled between his fingers and he flexed them. Every charm that the blond had just cast was rebound in that motion and at point blank range, there was nothing Draco could do to avoid the magical backlash into him.
He screamed, trying to claw at his face, struggling as Harry continued to hold him firmly but eventually his thrashing meant he squirmed out of the other wizards grip, bruises already forming on his throat. The blond didn't even feel himself hit the ground as he continued to claw at his body, his fingers tearing what was left of his robes and rending red tracks over his skin. Blood poured from the self-inflicted wounds but Draco didn't feel it. There were too many curses all trying to act as one.
Harry looked down at him, ignoring the blood and the screams. "If you come at me again Draco, I will kill you. But I did give your fate to something else…." The black haired wizard recalled his discussions with the Shadows. "And while they have been…" what had they been really?
Was omission the same as a lie? What else could that have omitted? Harry closed his eyes and turned his face to the over cast sky. The air was cold and he needed that to hone his thoughts. It hadn't even been an hour since he sent them away but already he felt bereft and with his immediate anger fading and a deeper anger banked until it could be unleashed… it was a cold night.
"You do whatever it is you are doing Draco. Just leave me alone and we won't come to this again," Harry said as he walked away, spreading his wings out fully before letting them vanish with him into the darkness of the stands. Behind him the Slytherin still writhed on the cold ground, clawing at his body as the charms continued to work.
It would be a long night for the blond.
It was 4am in the Gryffindor Sixth Year Boy's Dormitory and everything seemed quiet and peaceful as one might expect at that time of the morning. There were a few snores but the occupants of the room were asleep, most lost in faraway dreams that they would not recall when the sun rose. In the darkness at the ceiling, all was not well.
The younger Shadows were wailing, their voices silent save to all those who could hear them and the older Shadows brooded, making ominous dark stains on all they touched. Their master was close but none dared to approach him because while only a few had heard that order, all of them had felt it.
:What have we done?: the question reverberated through them.
:We have done nothing!: One of the Shadows replied anger lacing their tone. :We have done what we have always done.:
:No,: a deep voice intoned, cutting off that line of reasoning before it could get started. :Our Master is right, we did lie to him.:
That brought another wail from many of the younger Shadows. They cared nothing about right or wrong in this case, they were in pain because their Master had forsaken them. It didn't matter how this had been caused, all they cared about was how to fix it.
:At least he did not banish us forever.:
:But he threatened to.:
:He's a child still.:
:He is our Master.:
That was the final word on the matter and all of them acknowledged that.
One of the older Shadows came forward, glancing down at the bed where their Master slept, oblivious to their discussion. :Perhaps we can use this,: it intoned, its voice heavy and dark, like that chill drip of water down one's back. :We are playing the game that we are two forces, one serving the Dark Lord and one serving our Master. So what would happen if one was to reject us? Would we not all serve the other? And if it was our Master who rejected us, and his keepers found out, do you not think they would order him to take us back?:
:Yes!: Many of the Shadows hissed, rejoicing in the possibility of returning to their Master's side and the feast he represented.
:No,: another ancient Shadow spoke. :I agree we can use this, but not that way. If he is forced to order us back, that will lead to resentment and we will be the targets of such feeling. What he could do then… that could be unfortunate. No, for this we have no choice but to obey and to determine now how to avoid this for the future. Why did we not tell him?:
The question hung heavily in the air.
:Because he did not need to know.:
:I will grant that,: the old Shadow agreed, :but might he have wanted to know?:
Again there was heavy silence.
One of the younger Shadows calmed enough to think and it timidly slunk forward. :There are many things he would want to know,: the voice was relatively high pitched and at the change something below stirred. Unnoticed by the Shadows, emerald eyes slitted open and ears strained to catch their conversation.
:So why have we not told him?:
:Some we do not know,: the younger Shadow said.
:But those we do?:
There was no answer and the older Shadow sighed. :Because we are playing a game with the one being we should know better than to play with. So for now we obey… and when he calls us back, we tell him everything.:
Even now, there was some shock to that but for the most part the Shadows agreed. There were a few who didn't and they formed a block behind the oldest of them. :We have done nothing wrong!: they insisted angrily.
:Nothing we perceive as wrong,: the ancient Shadow agreed amicably. :But it doesn't matter what we perceive as wrong, does it? It never has. It only matters what he thinks is wrong. And he thinks our actions were wrong.:
:He has to apologise,: the oldest of their number was not cowed by the ancient presence.
:You know our Master so little,: came the reply in a chiding tone. :He will. You will see. Just as we will apologise to him.:
:Yes! Because that is the way it must be!:
:Why should we apologise for doing what we always do?:
The old Shadow groaned. The answer was implied in that question yet they could not see it. :'What we always do',: it intoned. :That implies we cannot change, that we do not change, and we know that we can. We should have thought about our Master's desires. This Master, not the others, not the past. And we know that this Master places the most weight on the truth and so we will tell him the truth. He does not like to be manipulated does our Master and while we manipulate others every day we should know never to manipulate him.:
:We always manipulate them. How else can we keep them happy?: The challenge was returned.
:There is manipulation and manipulation,: the old Shadow sighed. :Telling our Master all the truths he wishes to know as we discover them is not manipulation, it's something we should already have been doing. We know this Master, we have seen his life, the pain he felt because he was pushed and pulled and never given a choice and then what do we do? We do the same thing! We withhold information from him just because we felt 'it was not the time.' In that instant, do you know who we sounded like, who we were?:
:We were us!:
:We were Dumbledore!: the old Shadow spat, disgust liberal in its tone. :We were the man our Master is going to take great pleasure in seeing brought low and if we continue that way, he will see us brought low as well! And what will come of that?:
Silence again was the reply.
:It's easy enough to see,: the old Shadow continued. :The vampires will allow our Master a moment in the sun, I'm sure. And then they will strike and they will most likely win. Why? Because we won't be there! If we continue on this path then he will order us away forever. And the pain we felt with Gryffindor we will feel again, a thousand times worse because this time we have a willing Master, and we will have driven him away. Not misunderstanding, not innuendo and whispers from the bitch witches… but our actions. Do you want that?:
The block that was opposed wavered. That future was too close to deny and they hissed. :We need time.:
:As, I'm sure, does our Master. Go… serve the Dark Lord for the moment and let us watch over our Master. In the end, we will be one, and all will be well.:
:We will. We will send some of the others back.:
Silence ruled and in the room nothing changed. The snores of the sleeping boy still hung faintly in the air and there was the occasional rustle as one shifted and their blankets rubbed against the sheets. The Shadows remained in the inky dark of the ceiling, looking down at the bed where their Master lay, yearning but not daring to approach. His eyes were closed and he seemed so peaceful. It was a far cry from how they had seen him some nights but this was preferable even if they could not approach.
"You can come back."
The words were less than a whisper. They were almost sub vocal but the Shadows heard. They paused, uncertain in a way they had not been for centuries. :Master?: the question was soft, tentative.
"You can come back."
It was a little louder this time but still barely in the audible range.
:Master! We are sorry.: Tears of joy, tears of regret and tears of sheer relief flooded into the Shadow's voice.
:I'm sorry as well,: Harry replied. :But why did you not tell me?:
The question was the same one the Shadows had been considering and for a long moment they were silent. Harry was content to wait, his eyes closed as he lay in the warmth of his bed. In the instant the Shadows realised he had meant his words that warmth had redoubled and he was feeling sleepy again.
:We don't know,: the old Shadow eventually answered honestly. :I guess we thought it was for the best but we will tell you everything now.:
:So what more is there to tell?:
:Narcissa is the halfling. She does know not about you. Draco has not yet told her. Ollivander is a full blood but he watches. He will not act unless you threaten the others. The Vampires do know something of you Master. They suspect that you are allied with the Serpent Lord because they know you are our true Master but they will not act until they can prove it. Voldemort has told Kisha he plans to keep you alive as either a pet or as some drooling fool like the Longbottoms.:
:What about Dumbledore?:
:We think that old coot wants to keep you here so that you can fight back when the Dark Lord attacks. Tactically it's a sound move but his method of carrying it out leaves a lot to be desired.:
:So that's why he wants me to stay in the castle.:
:We think so,: the Shadow's replied, their voice not yet showing its usual amused tenor. They did not wish to strain the relationship with their Master just yet by seeming too comfortable in his presence.
:Why did Voldemort attack the Burrow?: There was a catch in Harry's voice that made the Shadows press close. Their master was close to crying and if they could, they would have lashed out, striking at what was causing him pain but in this instance they could not. They rubbed against him comfortingly.
:You already know why Master. He ordered the attack because he was annoyed about that photo.:
:But he hurt her...: The objection seemed lame but it was the core of the matter.
:In the reality of the situation that most believe Master, it was a logical move for him to make. You are considered his prey and his alone. You are not allowed to have anything that comforts you and so being seen with the girl made him lash out. That is what most will see. They will also see the attack on a member of the Order of the Phoenix. That is all they will see.:
:But he knows why I was with her...:
:He does. We saw to that. But your mate is possessive. He believes you belong to him and any challenge to that claim will be met with his full force.:
Green eyes blinked and two stray tears escaped. :Who attacked?:
Harry could sense the Shadow's reluctance but they answered. :Bellatrix LeStrange.:
Green eyes flashed almost glowing with his anger but then it faded and they remained dull. :But Molly didn't... She wasn't...: Harry couldn't finished the sentence.
:We know Master, we know.: The Shadows murmured the comfort, making sure they pressed up against their Master's trembling body. The Dark Lord might consider Harry his, but his possession faded into nothing compared to theirs. And while the Lord Voldemort had usually been so careful, so considerate in his courtship, the Serpent Lord would discover that his mate was not one to be taken lightly. You did not hurt that which he held dear and the Dark Lord would somehow have to pay for the pain he had caused this day.
"Harry, is this true?"
"Is what true, Hermione?"
Harry turned, still chewing on a piece of toast to see Hermione holding both newspapers. He was tired but it was nothing that would slow him down today. Draco had yet to be seen. The Quibbler was folded back so that the headline was exposed while The Prophet was open to the Editorial with a tiny column circled. The Quibbler's headline gave it away: Ministry is Watching.
"I gather that's about the magical detection devices?"
She nodded, bushy hair bouncing somewhat with the move. Harry reached out, snagging the paper and reading the first few lines. "As far as it goes, it sounds about right."
"But that's insane!" the Muggleborn witch objected. "It's a blatant invasion of privacy! And probably breaking more than a few laws, Muggle and Wizarding!"
Harry resisted the urge to smile. Hermione was so beautifully predictable in some ways. She had a point this time. The Ministry's monitoring devices did break rules, and weren't even sanctioned by a Wizengamot vote to give them an exception amendment. "I know," he replied rather placidly.
"Hmmm?" Sure the devices were breaking the Law but when had the Ministry ever cared about that? Reaction to The Quibbler's article had been mixed, and the confirmation that the devices did what had been reported, which had come through The Prophet had been tucked away in the Editorial Hermione had found. All in all, about half of the Wizarding world didn't believe the devices existed, and the other half didn't care. There was a tiny minority who did believe and did care but they were already being ostracised as a vocal but rabid minority.
"What can we do about it?"
He'd thought about that for a bit. Unfortunately at the moment, the answer wasn't much. But he was pretty sure that someone was working at it rather intensely and would be presenting a solution to the world soon enough. Harry motioned Hermione to come close. He'd tell her exactly what was happening but he didn't want the rest of the Great Hall to hear it. The young witch sat next to him and began filling her plate with breakfast. "The sad fact is, Hermione, there is not much we can do about it." He gestured quickly for her not to object while he was explaining. "I could probably launch some sort of challenge in the Wizengamot about their legitimacy but then the Ministry would just have an exception arranged for them. And if challenged on Muggle grounds… Well, I think you know as well as I do how that would go, even with Her Majesty's stipulation on Wizarding Laws."
Hermione nodded though her eyes burned. At least in the past few years she was beginning to learn which battles should be fought and which you just had to leave until you were sure you could win. This was one such.
"Look around you Hermione," Harry continued. "Most Wizards are too much like sheep to even realise that you have to fight for what you want. They expect the world to give them what they want because that's what's always happened in the past. And if the world won't provide, then a spell turns the trick… That's why the Dark Lord is winning but it's beginning to change. They are beginning to wake up but they aren't awake enough yet to understand what the Ministry has done with those devices."
"So where does that leave us?"
Harry flashed her a grin. "I'm pretty sure someone is working on those devices," he whispered conspiratorially. "I'm pretty sure that they will be presenting their solution to the world shortly. And on this one thing, I'm not going to lift a finger to stop them."
Hermione gasped as she made sense of Harry's meaning. "You can't!"
"Of course I can," Harry replied. "And there is one thing we can all do."
"Refuse to have your magical signature recorded. It's just like finger printing after all, and if I've done nothing wrong, why should I be on record?"
The bushy haired witch nodded at that. She hadn't had much time to study Muggle Law but she knew that well enough that finger prints should not be kept on record for those who were innocent.
"Look Hermione," Harry said seriously. "If I trusted the Ministry to use the devices only to track known criminals then I wouldn't feel as I do, but I don't. I don't trust them very far at all…"
"But Harry… you… you're an Auror!"
"Only because I trust Madam Bones. I don't trust the rest of the Ministry. They are still too concerned in their own power and not in doing what is right for the wizarding world. Think about it, Hermione… Why is there Dark Lord after Dark Lord? Binns glosses over that History but look in to it. The past three hundred years have seen the rise of one Dark Lord after another and nothing has been done to change that. Why not? What are they afraid of? Why do they keep a system that allows this? Even the Muggles have gone beyond that."
Hermione nodded slowly and Harry could tell he'd given her a lot to think about. Good! It was about time someone started thinking about this.
"So, you might think it bad that I won't stop the destruction of the devices, but that's the only way to ensure that we can still be free."
"And what about after?"
"Do you intend to keep serving the Ministry?"
"I'll still be an Auror. I don't think I can get out of that."
"And the Dark Lord?"
Harry blinked. That was a dangerous question and one he couldn't give a straight answer for. He smiled, "Hermione, when have you ever known me to back down from a fight?"
The bushy haired witch laughed and smiled at back at him, and the moment of tension was forgotten. She was still not happy about the devices but she had accepted his view and she hadn't pushed into territory where he would really have to lie. He wanted his friends with him, so he didn't want to lie to them but they weren't ready to accept the truth… though with this Hermione was developing. She was opening up and beginning to be able to see, truly see all sides of a story.
It gave him hope, and Harry carried that with him throughout the day.
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