Harry Potter and the Birth of a New Sun
"Perfect," he sneered quietly at the mirror. "Pubescent pimples once again."
Nonetheless, this vessel would do… for now. He sniggered to himself, sensing the small spirit inside squirming, trying to fight back. He would expend less energy dominating a child, but such a form would have limitations in the real world, and he would have to be careful not to be discovered.
Anaxarete had been wise in suggesting a Horcrux. It was wiser still that the Malfoy boy recommended more than one, creating a trinity of sorts – "Darkest of darks, lightest of lights," he had said. If not for the black Snitch-like stone, all would be lost. The ebon orb was charmed to release this portion of his soul should his central essence be destroyed. He must first find out how his corporeal self had been murdered… and by whom.
"Dumbledore?" he questioned uncertainly at his reflection. His mind scanned other names, other possibilities… Lucius, Bellatrix, Weasley… P-Potter. A cold shiver spread across his being just at the thought of the name.
"Damn," he cursed. He despised ignorance, especially his own.
He would wait… use this form to learn where the pieces had fallen upon his death. If he could find the other Horcrux, the simple piece of cloth holding the portion of his soul that was filled with the misgivings of his actions – his conscience if one could call it that – he might be able to take control of the one soul he so desperately desired to control. As much as he hated the idea, he would need both pieces to defeat the wizard he despised above all others. To accomplish that would require patience and time to gather more information. Knowledge, after all, was power… the key to unlocking the true strength of darkness.
"Hey, you comin' to breakfast, or not?"
He turned to face a boy his own age, and moved his hand to curse the child for the impudence of his tone, but then checked the movement and, instead, ground his teeth with a distinct clicking sound.
"Yesss," he hissed.
Harry Potter and the Birth of a New Sun
Chapter 1 - Dreams in the Heat
In the silence… drip… within the warm stone walls… drip… Harry could hear every sound… drip… from every room… drip… and could not sleep… drip. The rain, which only moments earlier had roared outside the castle like the hidden waterfall of the Forbidden Forest, left only the lingering drip of water into shallow pools collected between rock and mortar. Uncovered and naked on his bed, he was still hot in the humid air as tiny beads of perspiration pimpled his entire body. He turned and laid his hand flat against the sheet next to him, wondering if she too was awake, listening to the echoing pings of dripping water and the ebb and flow of the night air's breath as it warmly wheezed down the empty corridors. He turned over on his back, brought his hands behind his head and sighed. It was their first night apart since they had left Little Whinging three weeks earlier and, tucked away into a far corner of his godfather's castle, he couldn't help but feel very much alone.
During those three weeks, try as they might to blend in with the Muggle population, word of Harry's arrival always seemed to precede them and witch and wizard alike, people he'd never seen before, would hug him in the street and kiss him on the cheeks.
The Boy Who Lived. The wizard that had defeated Voldemort once again.
Often, he would use his developing power as a Metamorphmagus to hide his true identity as they travelled together across the Mediterranean and Gabriella showed Harry all she knew of home. Barefoot, they walked the beaches of Lebanon and watched the sun plunge into the sea, flashing its myriad of colours; they travelled the stone streets where she once lived, and walked the grounds of her old wizarding school, Al Bsahri, which was being built anew. Together they visited Gabriella's grandmother, Soseh's mum, in Armenia at the base of Mount Aragats and listened for hours as she wove a fabric from tales of magic and mythology, and, slowly, Harry came to know more of the mark on his right forearm, the mark of the dragon Asha with whose family he was now forever bound.
Three weeks of joy, three weeks of careless wonder, three weeks of love -- just the two of them as Gabriella showed Harry a part of her being that was the earth itself.
Alas, they were no longer alone. Yesterday, Soseh and Remus had journeyed together to meet them at Sirius' castle in Greece. Tomorrow, Ron and Hermione would Apparate in and the lot of them would travel together north of Hungary high into the Carpathians to see the birthplace of Asha. There Harry would face a challenge far more demanding than the Triwizard tournament. There he would speak to the dragon Singehorn and ask for its blessing.
Harry rubbed his forehead where once was emblazoned a thin red lightning bolt - the mark left by his nemesis, but cleansed by the magical waters hidden deep in the Forbidden Forest. The motion was purely habit, and Harry wondered if he'd ever not press palm to forehead whenever something was bothering him. Throughout the summer, his head had been free of the burning sensation he'd felt in Voldemort's presence or when the Dark Lord was feeling emotional. He'd been freed of the splitting pain in his skull, apart from the one time it rocked him to the floor just after he'd returned to Privet Drive -- a pain he dismissively attributed to the virulence of his Uncle Vernon.
Harry sighed and sat up, sliding his bare feet over the bed's edge. The air was warm, but he was feeling cold. Thoughts of Voldemort were crawling into his mind and he didn't know why.
"He washed away," he whispered to himself, again rubbing his forehead for no particular reason. "I saw him wash away. He's gone." But then memories of Dumbledore's words splashed cold water upon his face.
"Perhaps, Harry… perhaps."
The young wizard stood and began to pace the room. Soon, he didn't know when, the Centaurs would call him to help them battle the Dementors. As the great comet Ebyrth grew brighter in the night sky, marking the ever cyclical battle, Harry remained ignorant of how such a battle would take place, or where. What he did know was that he would return to Hogwarts in just over a week, and he felt certain that the time for action was near at hand.
He stopped at the mirror and looked at the young man before him. A year ago, perhaps, he would have looked forward to battle -- a chance to prove himself a great wizard. Now, however, he had nothing more to prove and his heart had turned toward other things. Visions of a raven haired beauty with copper brown skin and ebon eyes brought a smile to his face. He turned and faced his empty bed at the far side of the room and imagined Gabriella at his side. His stomach grumbled… hunger.
"Accio wand!" he called.
His wand, which was resting on his nightstand, flew into his hand. No, he had nothing to prove to anyone. With hard work and lots of practice, his gift was returning. Last year, Gabriella's father, thinking Harry a Muggle, cursed him with a spell to protect her at all cost. It had given him powers such as the ability to use magic without a wand, but it also made him irrational, jealous, and prone to fits of rage. Harry had nearly killed Seamus Finnigan because of it. The curse and its madness, like the scar on Harry's forehead, had vanished in the Cleansing, a Centaur sacrifice Dumbledore had called it, that burned the evil from Harry's being. All that remained was a mark on Harry's right forearm placed by Gabriella's mother, Soseh, a symbol of unity among all people, a symbol that he was both servant and master to the dragon.
"Silly worries and stupid fears," he muttered to himself. He would face his future when it stepped up to greet him, not in bed staring at the ceiling, or pacing about his room. Wondering if there might still be some shepherd's pie left in the fridge, he slipped on a gauze robe, tying it loosely about his waist. "Lumos!" His wand lit brightly as he made his way out his bedroom door and down the long stone corridor toward the kitchen of Sirius' castle.
There was a slight flow of air down the corridor that sent a chill over his damp body. It was refreshing and freed his mind from the thoughts of war and darkness to focus on love and passion. He had come of age, and was seriously considering if Gabriella was the one. His parents had married just out of school, and the last three weeks had only strengthened Harry's resolve that soon he would ask Gabriella the question. First, he wanted to talk to Ron, and the fact that his best friend would be arriving tomorrow seemed to quicken Harry's heart. He was nearly to the kitchen, his mind firmly fixed on his last night with Gabriella, when he saw the flame, the glow, and a puff of smoke. Harry turned toward a side door and came face-to-face with Draco Malfoy.
In contrast to Harry, who was wearing the plain gauze wrap falling half-way down his thigh, the blonde was wearing long, fine robes of green satin; his long hair was meticulously coifed back, and his steel eyes were bright with mischief. No remnants of the scar he bore on his face last year remained; his skin was as silken white as ever. He took a long drag on his cigarette and let out a long, slow puff of smoke that billowed toward Harry's face. Harry stood frozen stiff.
"Damn, Harry," drawled Draco with a sly smile, as he eyed Harry up and down. "Were you expecting me?" Harry's back went rigid as he clenched his wand. His eyes darted in every conceivable direction. "No, Potter" answered Draco without being asked, "I'm here alone." Draco took one more puff and flicked the cigarette into the air, only to vanish it with his wand before it started toward the ground.
"What… what are you doing here?" whispered Harry, not sure if he really trusted what Draco had just said, and still holding his wand firmly, all thought of Gabriella draining from his mind. Draco drew a step closer, his grey eyes shimmering in the light of Harry's wand.
"You had a fanatical spell over the Dark Lord," breathed Draco. "It was his ruin." He took another step closer to Harry, forcing the bespectacled wizard to pull in his wand ever so slightly. "Now, every time Father looks at his fabricant arm, I see the same crazed look in his eyes. Beyond all reason, he wants to destroy you."
"I'm done fighting wizards, Draco."
"Done? I think not. We had a deal, Harry," said Draco with a thin smile on his lips. "You gave me your word that you were in it all the way. The game's not over."
"Game? What are you talking about, Draco? There's no game. Half the wizarding world thinks you're dead, and the other half is looking for your father to complete the set."
"You're a fool, Harry, if you think that the Centaurs can win. The Dementors already have Father and the remaining Death Eaters on their side."
"But wizards aren't supposed to interfere in the affairs of—"
"P-lease, Potter," said Draco, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. "When are you ever going to stop being so damn naïve? Already we've regrouped after the loss of the Dark Lord, already we've made new plans, and what have you been doing, playing Snap with members of the Order?" This time Harry, his jaw set firm, stepped toward Draco, but the former Slytherin gave no ground.
"If you're so damn sure you're going to rule the world, then why are you here?" he spat under his breath. Draco let out a slight laugh, the burst of air brushing against Harry's face. The mirth and mischief that were present in Draco's eyes a moment before flickered, and faded.
"You know… you know what it's like, Harry. They're dead, black shells of darkness; they almost killed me, and now I've got to be their chum? Never!" Draco hissed, and then his eyes narrowed and his face revealed a glow of pure hatred. "Father's a fool; he always has been. They'll turn on us the instant we help them defeat the Centaurs just as they turned on the Ministry, and his collection of pure-bloods won't stop them. I'm not going to have him ruin everything again." Draco cast a glance at Harry and, in that instant, could not hold Harry's gaze. Instead, he turned and leaned against the stone wall, looking down at his own two hands.
"This isn't what I am, Harry. You know that, don't you?" The question was almost a plea, but the tone was unnecessary. Harry did know. There were nuggets of goodness in the Slytherin standing before him, waiting to be mined. Perhaps, in another life…
"Come back to Hogwarts, Draco. I know Dumbledore—"
"No," said Draco abruptly. "Knowledge is power, Harry," he whispered to himself. "Together, we can—"
"Draco, if you go down that path—"
"I HAD YOUR WORD!" Draco cried out. His voice echoed down the corridor and reverberated in Harry's ears. Slowly, reluctantly, Harry nodded his head.
"Yes," Harry said, "we had an agreement. And as long as you're here to help me see that the Centaurs are victorious, well, I guess—"
"You still don't get it, do you? It's not about the Dementors and the Centaurs. You think the darkness is gone? If we don't join together and—"
"Harry? Harry, is that you? Is everything okay?" It was Gabriella, calling from down the hallway; dressed in a white nightgown, she was headed their way. Draco straightened and slicked back his hair with one hand.
"You've put on weight," he said to Harry, who was looking down the hall. "It suits you better." There was a hiss and snap, and he was gone. Harry turned to see the empty wall just as Gabriella reached his side.
"That was an Apparition," she asserted with nervous confidence. "Who was here? Is everything alright?" She placed her arm around his waist and pulled him next to her as she looked up into his eyes. He could not lie to her; he would not lie to her.
"Draco," he whispered.
"Asha!" exclaimed Gabriella. "Did he try to hurt you?" She pulled her wand to the ready. Harry smiled. She would defend him to the death; he knew that with his very soul. He extinguished his wand and pulled her close in the darkness. Her hands slipped around his bare back, and whatever apprehension he had felt moments before melted away.
"There was a time," he whispered, "when I'd look into his eyes and see someone that would sooner see me dead as anything else." Harry gazed at the stone wall where Draco had stood, the smell of smoke still lingering in the air. "Now… now it's something quite different, Gabriella." Harry took in a long breath, and then exhaled. "He wants to help me win the war when it comes. But which war? I think, maybe, he has some sort of scheme to bring himself into the good graces of the Ministry -- a scheme to bring himself to power somehow."
"But nearly everyone thinks he's dead. How can he imagine such a thing?"
"He's a Malfoy, love," said Harry as another light appeared down the hall in the direction of Sirius' bedchamber. "Don't think he's done for, any more than his father is. What's more, he's the most sneaking and conniving Slytherin I know, next to you of course." Harry smiled and kissed her quickly before she could protest.
The light from Sirius' wand grew bright and Harry had to shield his eyes as his godfather approached.
"Are you two crazy?" he exclaimed. "Screaming loud enough to wake the dead -- which around here isn't saying much I know… bloody ghosts." He dimmed his wand and walked closer. "Harry, you're more than half naked. Do you have any idea what Gabriella's mother would say if—"
Too late. Soseh appeared from around the corner. Without saying a word, the small woman looked at Harry, and then at her daughter. For an instant, Harry thought he saw a smile, but then her face turned cold as she stepped over to Gabriella's side. Sirius' wand cast an eerie shadow across Soseh's face that distorted her features, making her look more angry than ever as she grabbed Gabriella by the ear, cursing something in Armenian. There was another snap and the two women had Disapparated.
"We weren't doing anything!" cried Harry to the air, as if maybe Mrs. Darbinyan could hear him. "Honest! I was just hungry." Sirius just laughed in disbelief.
"Hungry, eh? Come on then, Harry. Let's check if there's any shepherd's pie left; maybe there's another Mythos or two in the fridge."
"Mythos?" asked Harry.
"It's a Greek beer; bottled in Salonica. It's not bad when you're eating cold shepherd's pie and telling your godfather what the hell you're doing up in the middle of the night." His words were very matter of fact; the two men were about to have a talk. "And it's a damn sight better tasting than Veritaserum." For a moment, Harry thought to ask Sirius when he had tasted Veritaserum, but thoughts of Azkaban pushed the question aside.
They were about to enter the kitchen when a ghost passed through the walls just in front of them. It was a young girl with a sad face; Helena was her name. Sirius immediately lifted his wand and shot a blast at the wall, missing as the ghost passed through the other side of the hallway. Sirius cursed.
"A thousand castles in this country, and they have to pick mine to live in."
"Wasn't Helena born here?" Harry asked.
"That's not the point," growled Sirius as he made his way to the icebox and summoned out a snack and two beers. He wasn't much of a cook, but he could heat leftovers with his wand, almost as easily as he could remove bottle caps. By the time Harry was finished, Sirius had yet to take two bites. He was trying to be patient, but Harry could tell he was about to burst. Harry smiled to himself, thinking that Sirius looked better now than Harry had ever seen him, but Sirius took the look as a smirk, pushed his plate forward and looked straight at Harry.
"Well?" he asked. "If you weren't out for a midnight rendezvous with Gabriella, what were you doing? Who yelled?"
Harry looked down at his plate and then brought his eyes up to meet Sirius'. Here sat the man who had offered his life to protect Harry's in more ways than imaginable and who, like Remus Lupin, bore a spark that was the essence of Harry's father and mother. There was nothing that Harry would not share with Sirius, and there was nothing that Sirius would not do to ensure Harry's safety.
"Draco dropped by to call in a debt I still owed him."
"Draco Malfoy? That's not possible," Sirius asserted. "I charmed the castle myself and there's no way anyone passes the barrier unless… unless you consider Draco a friend." The statement turned into a question as Sirius drew closer to the table, staring intently at Harry's eyes.
"I'm in his debt," Harry answered, trying to avoid the real question.
"You made a wager?" Sirius asked.
"He and I had an agreement to secretly share information in an effort to bring down Voldemort." Harry didn't need to wait to see the reaction on Sirius' face. The veins bulged out on his neck instantly.
"Do you have any idea how dangerous—"
"Voldemort's dead isn't he?" Harry interrupted with a confidence he would not have had the year before. "And you're sitting here drinking beer and eating shepherd's pie with me. A year ago, if I had made that prediction, they'd have sent me to sit with Gilderoy Lockhart at St. Mungo's for evaluation." Harry's mind faded back to his confrontation with Voldemort in the Ministry's Death Chamber.
"If it hadn't been for Draco, Ron would certainly be dead. Hell, we might all be dead."
A glint of ghost passed through the corner of the kitchen on its way to the upper stories of the castle, but Sirius paid it no heed. Instead, he pushed his plate aside and clasped his hands together on the table.
"What does he want?"
"They're regrouping, the old Death Eaters. They're going to join the Dementors to destroy the Centaurs in the upcoming battle. Draco wants to stop it, and he's willing to betray his father to do it. But it has to be kept secret; no one can know he has anything to do with it."
"We've got to tell Dumble—"
"We can't," Harry interjected. The two wizards held each other's gaze. "I gave my word."
Harry expected a lecture at this point, and he was ready to argue against whatever Sirius had to say until the sun rose, but none came. Instead, Sirius nodded his head, took a last swig of beer, pulled the plate of shepherd's pie in front of him and began to eat. About halfway through the dish, Sirius finally lifted his head up to look at Harry.
"I think Remus fancies Soseh; what do you think?" asked Sirius with a devilish twinkle in his eye. "An odd twist if he becomes your father-in-law, don't you think?"
"Fancies Soseh?" asked Harry incredulously. He knew they liked each other, but the possibility that their feelings ran deeper had never really entered Harry's mind. "How can you tell?
"He's acting just like James did around your mother, always trying to impress her at every turn. Did you see him after dinner tonight, when he offered to clean the dishes? I thought I'd never stop laughing after he broke the fourth plate. Canines just aren't meant for housework."
Harry looked around the kitchen and decided not to make a comment. Soseh had been kind enough to clean in here, but the rest of the castle was still pretty much a disaster since Sirius had sworn off house elves.
"Well," yawned Harry, stretching his arms about his head. "I think I'm going to head off to bed." Sirius nodded, flicked his wand and levitated the plates into the sink. They could wait until tomorrow to be cleaned.
"Harry, with Ron and Hermione arriving in the morning, this is probably the last chance we'll have to be alone together. What you've told me tonight, I won't share, but don't think for a moment that no one else knows, particularly Dumbledore." Sirius then leaned forward in his chair. "The day will come, when Draco asks you to do something you know is wrong; you know he will, Harry, and when he does, please talk to me first, okay?" Harry nodded. "I'm serious, boy; don't be rash. If you think you see two moves ahead, wait until you see four more. There's a reason they call them Death Eaters, and wiping the likes of you from the wizarding world is top priority on their list. Be careful; be deadly careful."
"I will, Sirius. I swear."
Together they walked halfway down the hallway, and then Sirius turned toward his own room. Harry watched as his godfather disappeared into the darkness, cursed, and then shot a blast of light at a passing ghost.
When Harry put head to pillow, he had an overwhelming urge to use Occlumency. With Voldemort gone, he hadn't cleared his mind all summer; there was no need. Despite the heat, a cold shiver ran down his spine. All the evening's conversations had his thoughts swirling and, with no Pensieve, Harry chose to clear his mind as best he knew how. Thoughts of war and dragons would wait until tomorrow.
He took in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and exhaled. Drip. As he had done all summer long, he tapped the spot where Greg Goyle had skewered his chest with a Quidditch broom, and said a short prayer for the souls of his lost friends. Slowly, he let all thought of the day's events leave his mind. Voldemort swirled away into a cloud of nothingness, the Centaur and Dementor wars evaporated, concern over what Soseh would say in the morning vanished. Drip. Finally, he was aslee— there was a snap, sharp and short.
"AND I DON'T CARE IF I NEVER SEE YOUR RAT LOVING FACE AGAIN!" Something… someone stomped on the stone floor. "Never… ever…," the voice got weaker, "…ever." A lit wand in her hand, Hermione Granger crumpled to the ground and began heaving deep sobs into the sleeves of her dark red robes. Harry, who had half reached for his glasses, and half dove for his wand, also found himself in a heap on the stone floor, thankful that his sheet came with him.
"H-Hermione?" he asked groggily, smarting from having banged his knee on the stone floor. A small splotch of blood began to spread against the white sheet. His eyes focused on his friend, folded in two in the centre of the room. As she continued to cry, her hands covered her face, and her bushy brown hair covered her hands. "Hermione, what's wrong? Where's Ron?"
Hermione turned to see Harry on the floor, blood staining the sheet and concern filled her face. At once she went over to offer Harry her assistance and reached to remove the sheet so that she could have a closer look at his knee. But the sheet was the only thing clothing Harry, and he held it fast.
"I'm fine," he assured her. "If I'm not mistaken, you're early. Where's Ron?" he asked again. The name flushed her face scarlet.
"That foul mouthed ferret farmer can eat Blast-ended Skrewts for all I care!" She was about to cry again and stopped herself. "Socks! Can you believe it, Harry? He wanted to bring more socks!"
"And that's bad because…?" Harry asked, still not quite able to focus thanks to his throbbing knee and his overwhelming lack of sleep.
"It meant a bigger pack, of course," Hermione answered in a tone that reminded Harry a bit of Mrs. Weasley mixed in with… well, Hermione. "He can barely Apparate as it is; the last thing he needed to do was to increase his load by carrying more socks."
"So you insulted his wizardry, by telling him he didn't know how to Apparate?" Harry asked, pricking the point of the argument with his question. Hermione raised her finger to argue, turned the thought over in her mind, and burst out crying again.
"Oh, Harry!" she bawled, and lunged at him wrapping her arms tightly around his shoulders, wrenching the sheet away with her foot, and burying her tear-strewn face in his neck. Suddenly the room filled with light and, for a moment, Harry panicked, thinking that it might be Ron. If only it had been the redhead.
"Harry?" came a familiar voice from the door. Trying to quickly cover himself with a bit of Hermione's red robe, he turned to see Gabriella, flanked by Sirius, Remus and Soseh. All of them had their wands at the ready, but none was more ready to put wand to use than Gabriella herself.