VOLDEMORT'S LAST SPELL
Harry Potter and the Mark of Cain
Summary: 1981. Voldemort intended to kill the whole Potter family, but something unexpected happened. Now, the Dark Lord must face the result of a severely twisted Prophecy as well as a very old... thing. What history can Harry have after this? What history can he make?
Genres: Action/Adventure – as well as other topics not on the Genre list (if you come from Mastermind Hunting, you'll recognize them).
Rating: T – for violence, swearing, and issues relative to procreation. This story will contain historical facts and behaviour models not in usage in our "civilized" society, as well as ideas about religion that are quite... undogmatic. Remember that it's a fiction, and don't sue me if you don't like it, I merely write this for the fun of the readers – and my own. Besides, following Ben Franklin's saying, one shouldn't be bitten by the word "dog" on a piece of paper – although this is disputable… but I digress.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you might recognize. The Harry Potter universe belongs to its owners, and this story is written only for enjoyment; as such, I may own the plot and some non-canon characters and locations, but that's all. This story is labelled as Alternate Universe, and will contain data from the official books, but some facts and characters are going to be adapted to my needs.
Additionally, someone told me the first chapter of my story resembled a book from J. Auel. I can tell you that all of it came from my mind, and that no copyright infringement was intended. I don't claim ownership of the various fantasy realms and historical facts that will be crossing over this story either. And, if you find out that I like Civilization (the video game) from this story's first chapters, note that I don't own this either – except my own copy.
posted November 7th, 2005
The spell killed James Potter.
The spell killed Lily Evans-Potter.
The spell should have killed Harry Potter, but it didn't, and the snake-faced man calling himself Lord Voldemort looked at the crib in wonder. He stepped forward and moved the linen around, but there was no trace of the baby.
Voldemort had felt the pull of magic when he had cast the spell the last three times. The very last draw had been more than usual. He even felt quite drained of his considerable power because of it. Taking a vial from his pockets, he swallowed the energizing potion.
He then looked at the just deceased mother thoughtfully. Had she done something to protect her son? He knew, thanks to his spy, that she had been a Charm expert, with a passing interest in Runes. Too bad she rejected his offers to join...
He was so lost in his thoughts that he missed the sound of a person walking in.
"So, that is what Tom Riddle has become?"
The Dark Lord whirled around, seething at the use of his muggle name. The newcomer was a little old man standing in the doorway, leaning on a gnarled staff. Despite the large cloak and hood covering most of his bent figure, Voldemort still noticed a white beard and twinkling eyes, not unlike Dumbledore's. His wand aimed at the seemingly unarmed man, he addressed him. "I am Lord Voldemort!"
"Voldemort... Vol de mort..." the man pronounced thoughtfully. "Doesn't that mean Flight of Death in French? Or rather Theft of Death, in fact. Thievery is much older than flight in human civilization." He stopped tapping his chin and looked at the self-proclaimed Lord. "Did you steal something from Lady Death, Tom?"
"For the last time," Voldemort started, yelling, "I am Lord V-"
"Voldemort, I know. A pitiful anagram if I ever saw one. Especially as it is a complete sentence, meaning that you have to say "I am" twice if you want to introduce yourself. As I said, Pitiful."
The Dark Lord was on the verge of cursing the man badly, but he was also quite clever – or he wouldn't have reached his current status – and something in the newcomer's stance suggested a hidden power. And, now that he was calmed, he realized that he knew the voice.
"Who are you?" he asked suddenly, his eyes narrowed.
"Who am I? That's a very good question. Can't you answer it by yourself?" the unknown man asked. He straightened up, gaining a full foot in height, and the cloak's hood fell back, revealing chiselled features and piercing eyes.
Voldemort gasped. "YOU!"
The man tilted his head, and smirked. "Me, indeed."
Chapter 1 – Homo Neanderthalensis
120000 years ago...
The storm was frightening. In the tribe's memory, never had the sky poured so much water and light. While the shaman was looking outside for a sign, the others were huddling in a corner of the cave. They had been lucky to find one in the first place, and doubly so since it hadn't been occupied by dangerous animals. However, they didn't have any dry wood to start a fire, and the cold day wasn't going to help their health.
The cave was located in one of the hills the landscape consisted of, facing a flat bit of trees-covered land. It thus offered a good view of any incoming threat, and, incidentally, a good view of the storm.
Everybody jumped when a lightning bolt landed nearby, much larger than the others and much louder. Several trees exploded from such a violent manifestation, and their remains were ablaze for a couple of minutes, slowly doused by the constant downpour.
The rain kept falling for a long time, and the shaman looked back toward the frightened tribe members. They were hungry, not having eaten anything for a couple of days, and the children were dosing off in the women's laps, only awoken by the numerous thunderclaps.
'If only one of them was curious enough to stay with me.' he thought. 'It would be easier to find a successor, then.'
He looked back towards the rain-covered countryside, and a lull in the storm outburst allowed him to hear something unusual. Well... it wasn't unusual at all, but he hadn't thought of hearing it outside, especially under such rain.
A small child was crying.
He looked back at the tribe and checked with his memories, but the group was whole and he frowned.
"Torg!" he called in the usual slow and guttural speech patterns his brethren spoke.
The strongest hunter advanced. "What, Sagh?"
"Come with me." the shaman ordered, and Torg obeyed. The shamans were respected in the clans, and the lone tribe thought they were lucky to have one, even if Sagh was quite old. However, if he didn't find food soon, their respect toward him would drop as well as his life expectancy. More than one shaman had been killed by the members of his own tribe in order to appease the spirits. Everyone knew that, and everyone accepted it. It was the natural order of things.
The old shaman and the hunter walked carefully out of the cave, the former guiding the latter towards his destination. The shaman didn't really need the escort to move around, but anything could happen in the uncharted wilderness, and he had to be cautious. They got nearer and nearer, until their beacon was louder than the spattering of the rain around them. The two men recognized the sound and hurried toward it.
After moving several branches and wood splinters, they found an unusual scene.
A baby was crying. A youngling, it seemed, but a strange one. Sure, it was human like them, but it seemed... clean, as though it just came out of the purest pond. And the beast skins that were covering him were thin and soaked, and... white? It wasn't even a colour they had the habit of seeing around, and the two men looked at each other in wonder.
The baby's cries, though, brought their attention to the scene again, and they noticed the other unusual thing. A large bear, one of the deadly animals prowling the countryside, was resting near the baby, its claws having ripped in the baby's leg. For the men and for the animal, one would have considered the wound a mere scratch, but the white cloth around the baby was already red around the injury.
Torg recoiled at the sight of the great animal, but Sagh held his arm and motioned to the scene again. They carefully prodded at the unusually-coloured bear and found that it was really dead. Dead, and black. Blackened, and still fuming. And a strong smell was coming from it.
The shaman understood what had happened, and quickly thanked the spirits, and the baby. Had he not been there, the animal would have been devoured by carrion eaters before the tribe could have located it. However, because of the rain and the crying baby, the prayer was quick. The shaman would have time to thank them later – on a full stomach. He quickly went down and carefully disengaged the baby from the rubble. After motioning to the hunter to stay there, he ran in the rain toward the cave.
Once there, he prayed the spirits loudly to get the others' attention before giving the baby to the women, instructing them to take an especially good care of him. He then led all the hunters and even some non-hunter males toward the place where the burnt animal rested and, under the downpour, they all managed to haul it in the cave in record time. They then returned to the site to fetch the few dry branches and splinters remaining from the lightning-induced tree explosion.
Generally, eating the meat of a predator was difficult since the muscles were usually taut and hard to masticate. In this case, though, the large animal had been thoroughly roasted, surely from one of the lightning bolts, and it was perfectly palatable. After taking care of the baby, the shaman sorted the bear's parts, removing whatever wasn't edible from its body. The women followed suit, cutting and serving the meat for everyone.
Their stomach full, there was still meat for several days, and the members of the tribe thanked the spirits with their shaman. Unlike some of the other tribes, they were still unnamed, and they decided to use the incident as an identification token – like the Tribe of the Wolf they had crossed the previous spring, named that way because they had adopted wolf cubs many seasons ago.
Fed and heated by the circumstances, the Tribe of the Bear then vowed to take care of the providential baby, whom they called Har.
Five years later...
"No, Har." the old shaman said, taking the stone from the boy's hands. "You have to crush the petals like this, and-."
The old shaman coughed suddenly, interrupting his explanation. Noticing this, the young boy took a few plants from a pouch on his side and gave him. The man nodded weakly and chewed the plants to recover a proper breathing.
Har looked at his mentor and wondered how long the old man would be able to teach him the ways of Nature. Sagh had crossed the limit of 30 springs, and all members of the tribe knew he wouldn't be able to live much more than that, especially crippled by his coughing fits.
Since their adventure with the bear, the tribe had moved around, meeting other tribes and animals, and had survived against all odds. As soon as Har had been able to walk and talk, he had shown a keen interest in the shaman's work, and Sagh had taken the curious boy under his wing, teaching him all he knew. In the facts, Har could already replace the old man in all the usual aspects of his work: guiding the tribe, finding a place to rest, finding food. The rest of a shaman's job was to gain knowledge about plants and animals. Some plants were usable as food, while others were poisonous, and the knowledge of which was what made the difference between a healthy tribe and a dead one. Other plants were usable to heal wounds too. Har had an example of Sagh's work permanently etched on his right leg: three large scars were going from his hip to his knee. He had been told the story of his discovery numerous times, and knew he was lucky to have survived the encounter, and doubly so as he wasn't crippled at all.
There were also numerous other signs on his body, which were too unusual to be scars – except the strangely-shaped one on his forehead. When they had met the Tribe of the Cave, one of the few sedentary tribes, he had understood a bit more his markings, without having a full explanation. The Tribe of the Cave inhabited a set of large caves, and they used animal blood as well as charcoal against the caves' walls. Under their shaman's ministrations, the blood and charcoal suddenly took life and became animals and hunters!
The rupestral paintings reminded Har about his strangely coloured "scars" and he understood it was the same thing: drawings. His drawings didn't leave when he bathed, though, contrarily to the paintings on the walls or on the painters' hands.
After a few discussions with Sagh, the two of them had come to the conclusion that it was a manifestation of the spirits, and they let the subject drop.
Hearing the sounds signalling the hunters' return, Har shook his head to clean it from stray thoughts. Sagh was unable to move away from their cave, and Har stood to welcome the hunters and to inspect their booty. It wasn't much, though, and he frowned, knowing that they would have to move away soon or the winter would catch them.
Har, being acknowledged as Sagh's heir, designated the parts of the meat that were eatable and the ones that weren't. Between those, he made a secondary sort to get the pieces that animals were able to eat. He then gave those to the tribe's new addition: a pet wolf.
Their last meeting with the Tribe of the Wolf had been fruitful, and they had exchanged pelts against a well-trained female guard wolf. Har had immediately taken a liking to the animal, to the point of naming it – Lil – and they had often kept guard together. The other kids were still afraid of the large animal, and the adults were wary of it, but Sagh and Har had deemed the animal not only interesting, but also vital for the tribe's development. And it had been proven true quickly, as the wolf had warned them of incoming wildlife threats several times already.
Har returned from the meat sorting to see Sagh coughing into his hands. After the coughing fits, they both looked at the blood in the old man's hands. Har understood the solution to his current dilemma, and Sagh confirmed it with a nod. The old man was dying, and he had to be left behind. In a rare display of affection, he hugged the man, a lone tear forging its way on his cheeks.
The next day, Har brought Torg and the oldest woman, Shia, to the shaman's side, and he told them to listen to Har and to leave the place before the winter could take a hold of them. They didn't have enough pelts for all of them to survive a harsh winter.
The two adults understood and nodded solemnly. Har nodded as well, and repeated Sagh's packing orders to a subdued tribe. An hour later, they were gone, never to see the old shaman alive again.
Six years later...
Har was running. He was running as if his life depended on it. Which it was, in fact.
Blad, the head hunter since Torg's accident last winter, had missed the beast, and the wild boar was chasing after him. Har was losing ground, but he arrived near a tree with low branches and hoisted himself up at the last moment. The surprised boar looked up at the man-child that had evaded its just fury, while keeping its direction and speed. The noise it made when its head struck the tree trunk made Har wince. The boar's spine had snapped, and it was barely moving, slowly dying.
Har called the hunters, and they gave the beast the mercy blow before dragging it towards the autumn camp. Har didn't have to scold Blad: the two of them knew that things like this could happen. It was the natural order of things.
Years of running and generally surviving in a harsh environment had also brought changes in Har's silhouette. Despite being taller than several of the other members of his tribe, he had developed a healthy set of muscles. However, he was relatively late in some other parts of his development, and had just experienced his first puberty changes.
As young shaman, he was also in charge of the tribe, and the women started to look at him with an interested eye. Several came to his bed, and he knew why. After all, there wasn't much privacy in the camp, and he had seen the others do it as well. The first times were hesitant and messy, but he quickly understood the mechanics and joined the nightly game like the others.
It was the natural order of things.
Seven years later...
Harry looked at the green-eyed little girl playing with the wolf cubs and smiled. Contrarily to most of his tribe members, he still had all his teeth, and was still growing. He was now reaching the impressive height of 6 feet and 4 inches, a full foot taller than Blad, while most of the others barely reached 5 feet. The constant outdoor activities made him strong as well, and he was often able to participate to hunts and miscellaneous strength contests.
The girl, named Lia, looked at him and smiled as well. Har nodded and looked at the wolf cubs and their nearby mother. The guard wolf had suddenly left the camp one night, only to return a few days later. In the meantime, the clan had heard wolf howls around the site, and had even thought to leave. Lil had returned, though, and had given birth to four cute cubs several months later. Despite being trained as a guard wolf and accepting humans' food and affection, Lil surveyed her cubs closely, even growling when her cubs complained of the humans' attentions. Strangely, Lia was the only one able to take one in her little arms without them complaining.
Har took his stone club and headed out of their summer cave near the sea, intent on finding an appropriate stone for his new project. The tribe had visited the decorated home of the Tribe of the Cave, and he had had an idea about "portable images." He had first tried to draw on large slabs of stone, but it was much too cumbersome to carry around. He was now trying to sculpt things in small stones, without much success either: all his tries produced split half-finished statues.
That evening, Lia came to his side while the huntsmen recounted the successful hunt of the day, while eating the fruits gathered at the same time. The six men had successfully caught a dozen rabbits alive, enough to feed the tribe in meat for a few days. Harry had instructed them to kill only the ones necessary for the day's food, and he had quickly built a small cave-like place to keep the ones alive... well... alive.
While hearing the hunters' stories, Har was casting glances at his daughter and noticed that she was absently playing with a branch. Ideas whirled in his mind, and he decided to use wood for his sculpture projects.
Eight years later...
The interaction with the Tribe of the Fish had gone badly. The much larger tribe had taken possession of Har's tribe summer spot near the sea and the surly fishers had been ready to pre-emptively gut them on the spot. Only through Harry's quick speech and peace offerings in form of statues and dried fruits did they escape death. These men weren't as easy-going as the tribe, and had something strange about them, as if they were actually searching for a fight.
Deciding that prudent retreat was in order, Har led his tribe towards the forest, and they walked for several leagues before finding an appropriate spot to sleep. What they didn't know, though, was that some of the fishermen really wanted to fight, and a small detachment had followed them through the woods.
The attack occurred mere minutes after setting down. The Fishes fought viciously, their bone knives slashing and piercing skin, but the Bears fought valiantly as well, and drove half of the assailants away – the other half being dead. They had casualties as well, though, and Har couldn't do anything to heal Blad. The strong and easy-going man had managed to push back several Fishes and a few enemies were even lying dead near him. Blad was wept upon by several of them, and Kuur replaced him as head of the hunters.
Har was quite sure that the surviving Fishes had left with a few goods too, but the Bears recuperated everything from the dead enemies before leaving the place. Har was sure that the surviving Fishes would try to raise their whole tribe against them, and the less time the Bears spent there, the better. Thankfully, the moon was high in the cloudless sky and they could walk non-stop for several hours.
When they finally reached a set of caves Har had noticed in their long trips around the country, they settled down and, still having several of them guarding the place, they recovered from the forced march.
Nine years later...
Har didn't understand.
The Tribe of the Bear was flourishing, the hunters were strong and efficient, the gatherers were well-organized, they had enough clothes, and his small wooden statues interested the other tribes, allowing him to trade interesting things. The problem was that all the tribe's members were younger than him. From the discussions around him, he had thought that 30 was the age when one was "leaving the place" but he had already passed that limit several seasons ago.
Like Sagh before him, he had raised Lia to take his place after him, but she had left the tribe when a particularly strong hunter from the Tribe of the Wolf had asked for her company. She had accepted, and the exchange had involved highly-priced items and soft furs, but Har had felt lonely for a long time afterwards. Between the other children, though, he had quickly found a couple of replacements for him, and had started training them as well. It was two boys, this time, and both of them had green eyes as well.
The problem was that he didn't seem to "leave the place" anytime soon. Several times, he had been wounded by beasts, accidents, or enemies, his skin pierced or his bones broken, but he always found himself perfectly healed in no time. He sure was hungry like hell afterwards, but he was at least fit to hunt his own meals if needed.
Another problem resided with the women. Strangely, the children with the better chance of survival in early childhood were the green-eyed ones, and the girls developed into healthy young women, but he didn't feel any attraction toward them or their daughters. As it didn't fit with the behavioural pattern of the other males of the tribes, he supposed that it had to do with his advanced age. However, when they met the other tribes, he repeatedly found out that it wasn't true.
It puzzled him, but he continued teaching his two apprentices the way of the Nature around them.
Ten years later...
Har had decided to finally "leave the place" by himself.
He had already gone way over the age limit, and decided to leave his apprentices in command. After a discussion with the whole tribe, they relented to his views and hugged him, one after the other. It hurt him to leave them, but he couldn't stay there anymore. He wanted to travel everywhere to see if he could find answers to his questions.
He knew he would travel for a long time.
Unbeknownst to him, his tribe would continue to roam their hunting grounds, eventually mixing with the others, and his unique genes – completely unrelated to his long life – would be slowly spread over the countrymen. Even if their intensity would lower with the passing generations, they would bring something to the world. Something new and refreshing. Magic.
To be continued in next chapter: Lost Civilizations...
Har, Har, do you hear the call?
There's something you don't recall:
You are not from this time, boy.
Let's just hope you find some joy.