Warning: This story contains both slash and het.
Chapter Title: Emancipation
act of freeing
Lightening flashed across the sky in jagged stripes, highlighting the outlines of a thousand skyscrapers. Rain fell like it was the end of the world. Fatigue and drug-withdrawal induced delirium crept through his mind (whispering animal thoughts from the lizard-brain that lurked, instinctual and ancient, under his skin).
Tobias was standing in the rain-soaked plaza that served as the entrance to a curving white skyscraper, rivulets of blood - both old and new from freshly opened wounds - winding their languid way down his wrists. How long he had stood there, he did not know, gathering strength for this one final exertion.
Finally, he exhaled, crossed his arms tightly across his bruised, battered torso, arched his head back, and black pupils flared wide across his eyes.
And then Tobias was rising, through the sleeting rain, feeling the power of this pure, physical magic pouring through his every pore, thundering through his veins. And in violent anger he cursed the Dark Lord for flinging him away, that dark night, in that unimaginable ballroom, just when he could have learnt, and gained so much … even as he adored the irony that it was the very magic he had observed (absorbed), learnt (uncovered), in that moment, that had allowed his escape.
His head pounded, black creeping in on his vision as more blood from his body mingled with the streams of rain falling down his loosening hands. Using this last vestige of energy he had, forcing his magic to take him to the balcony of the highest room (of sanctuary), the immense penthouse that he would have known nothing of had he not risked followed the Lady one late night, what seemed like a lifetime (stolen) ago.
As he flew over the railing, bright poisonous colours flashed exhaustion across his vision, and he lost control, and consciousness, tumbling down like a ragdoll, rolling and crashing through the glass of one of the expansive, ceiling to floor windows, and dizzily thought, head crashing back, that suddenly the silvery rain felt very much like deadly shards of diamond pain (glass panes).
Five Minutes Earlier
He slammed her down, breathing in the intoxicating, beautiful scent of her arching, silky neck, as golden curls tumbled against the white marble floor, her eyes dark with pain and arousal.
The Lady awoke, struggling for breath, silken sheets falling about her naked body as she sat bolt upright, the heavy diamond cuffs around her wrists pulling her back to the present, away from the days of the first war, when she and the Dark Lord had been unstoppable, allied and immortal, wrapped in the delirium of their own power.
That was before he had begun to lose his sanity, to corrupt his true ambition, before he had died, died and been reborn more brilliant and terrible than she had ever known him to be.
Sliding gracefully from the bed; and it was so easy to do so without disturbing the man currently sleeping deeply beside her, she went to the windows to gaze out, out to the dark and storming sky.
She had heard reports, of course, despite the tight security, heard of the events of the Dark Masque, and heard of Tobias' subsequent and spectacular disappearance.
She could not find him, had spent days scouring her sources, all to no avail, and wondering why he had not returned to her. He was important, significant, and she had known that for a long time, even before realizing his true parentage, had known from the first time she saw him, a mere child enchanted with a fantasy, obliviously running in front of her screaming limousine.
Memories. She did not normally think so much of the past.
Then, suddenly, a roll of thunder crashed through her thoughts, mixed with the sudden, cataclysmic shattering of a million particles of glass as a dark figure came flying in through the window to her right. Instinct took over instantly as she flung her naked body away, twisting through soaring pieces of glass, hair flying about her face, furious, as she turned, arms spread and proud, intent to kill burning in her eyes.
He lay, blood spreading from beneath the black coat that fell about him like dark wings, face pale and beautiful, water sliding down it as if he had been drowning.
The man from her bed, a rogue warlord, leader of the most powerful mercenary force in the world, had bounded from the bed at the first sound of crashing glass, and now stood, eyes narrowed and alert, a gun pointed directly between Tobias' closed eyes.
'Cease.' The Lady's voice was soft and commanding, a chime on velvet, and her eyes met those of the warlord and he, slowly, lowered his weapon.
Coolly, expressionlessly, she turned her back, lifting an elegant white silk robe from the floor and sliding into it, taking her time with the movement, distracting the warlord as he watched the smooth lines and grace of her body.
'It would be best if you left now." She turned, eyes meaningful, tilting her head toward Tobias in a generous answer to the question in the warlord's eyes. 'He is an … operative of mine.'
He nodded decisively, and gathered his clothes, dressing rapidly and efficiently, crossing the room to place a telling kiss on her lips. She tilted her head back willingly, folding her body into his, eyes dark and knowing, never closing, and watched him walk out.
She enjoyed that aspect of him, that he understood when nothing could or should be said.
The moment the door closed, she crossed swiftly to the intercom in her study, robe flying about her, gave an order, before returning to Tobias' side, and fell to her knees over him.
Tobias swam in and out of consciousness, aware at first of the soft, yielding surface beneath him, then, later, of the dark, creeping sensation as unknown to him, his dark blood spread through the Lady's snow-white sheets.
Then, for a while, nothing, utter blackness.
Slowly, Tobias again became aware of sensations, of the murmur of voices, of the soft, clean, warm scent of healing magic; the white shimmer of consciousness blocked by magic sedative, and, ultimately, a beautiful face, dark eyes exquisitely familiar, wide with a concern that he would never have been allowed to see had he been lucid.
Lilith, Wolf of the Lady, curled lithely in a corner of the Lady's bedroom against a sun-warmed windowpane. She was, ostensibly, reading her book (a heavy, hard-backed print of the rare Fables of the Golden Age she had found in the Lady's bookshelf) but was in truth switching her attention from the dawn-sun and Tobias, sleeping in the Lady's now-pristine bed.
Thinking of the devil, Tobias stirred, flinging an arm out across the bed, hands fisting slowly and unconsciously in the sheets.
Lilith uncurled, dropping the heavy book as she did so; utterly careless of the heavy thud it made, and moved silently across to the bed. She looked down at Tobias, at the flawless face that only a few hours ago had been a horrific mess, covered with countless shallow, bleeding wounds and pores.
His entire body had suffered the same damage, and the Lady had said, her voice even but eyes furious, this was the kind of damage that could be caused by tearing oneself out through prison magic when the wards had only been lifted enough for one-way travel. She hadn't said, but Lilith knew, that prison magic such as this, especially prison magic laid down for the Dark Lord's own dungeons was so powerful that nothing should have been able to survive such trauma, not without a wand, not without focused magic.
She leaned across Tobias, her dark, feathery hair falling down over bare shoulders to swing over her face, and reached out a slender, pale hand, to delicately trace the arching cheekbone, admiring the play of golden morning light across it.
For a moment, there was complete, peaceful silence.
Then Tobias' eyes snapped open, pupils blown, and suddenly Lilith was flipped, slammed down onto her back, the wrist of the hand she had traced his face with caught in a vice-like grip that sent white-hot flashes of pain across her vision as his body pressed heavily down on hers, his face inches away, twisted in an animalistic snarl.
For a single instant, Lilith was sure he was going to kill her. He loomed above her like an avenging demon, eyes glittering with blind rage. And she was terrified, for the first time in years, she froze.
But she knew, she recognized the raw, paranoid reactions of a tortured prisoner.
So instead of fighting, she softened her body from whip-snap tightness, relaxing into his grip, and whispered, as if speaking to a mortally wounded creature.
'Tobias, Tobias. Tobias.'
'Yes.' He growled, grinding her harder down into the bed, and she felt it. Felt the vindictive, animal darkness she saw in his face creep out through his fingertips, dark tendrils of violent, sexual force that left her shuddering with sickness and lust.
But she was a Wolf, powerful in her own right, and with a strength of will and mind not normal. She lay still, and sensed it the moment rational intelligence returned to replace that animal-instinct reaction.
He fell away from her, eyes snapping closed, then open in bright clarity, and she rolled smoothly over, standing over him as he stretched, suddenly and incongruously cat-like and indolent, over the gigantic expanse of white sheets and silky pillows, never taking those hypnotic eyes off her.
'Lilith.' He murmured, voice rough and husky, laughter curling around the l's.
She raised her fine, dark eyebrows, placing her hands on slender hips. If she had not witnessed the events of a few moments ago, she would have completely believed Tobias was perfectly fine. He wanted to pretend that attack, that shocking lapse in control had never occurred, was attempting to cover it with charm and flirtation.
She showed him that she was not fooled, but did not press the matter in words. He was … too volatile.
Tobias' eyes flashed, and he rolled over, effortlessly exposing his bare back, and Lilith had to close her eyes for a moment as her vision flashed, overlaying that smooth skin with the torn and bloody expanse it had been the night before, when they had worked frantic hours to heal the blood-poisoning and skin-ravages.
She was trying to forget the expression in his eyes, ignore that primeval rage he had concealed so easily, trying to restrain the instinct that this beautiful boy lying so easily across the bed was infinitely more dangerous than she could have believed possible, even of Tobias.
He was like a stranger, something not quite human, something alien floating behind the death-curse green of his eyes.
'The Lady left orders that you were to be taken to her once you awoke.' Lilith explained after a moment, turning away and bending over a chest and withdrawing a set of perfectly pressed and folded clothes and carelessly tossing them over to the bed.
Tobias smoothly snatched the clothing up and began dressing, and it turned out to be his own, from before he was taken by Dumbledore.
Black, sleek, well-tailored pants, and a casual, no less expensive shirt with a sophisticated dark coat that he slid on easily, flicking the collar up so that it met the dark hair that curled at the base of his head.
As he slid on the boots, he felt something in the pocket, and Lilith's lips curved smugly as he drew out a pack of his favourite cigarettes.
Her body seemed to relax infinitesimally as he returned a grin, and at that he frowned internally.
Lilith had always been highly-strung, so intelligent and attuned to the moods of others, and that had made her cold and reserved unless around those she trusted. Tobias was unused to the subtle but deep wariness she was now exuding around him.
Despite this, as she walked forward, sliding past him, her hand caught his momentarily, as if she had sensed his fresh craving for reassuring and undemanding physical touch. Her fingers curled in his, and she smiled softly, neck curving as she caught his eye over her shoulder, and opened the door, leading him out.
She was, above all else, a master of her wiles.
Lilith stalked rapidly through the penthouse, stiletto-clad feet clicking lightly against the floor. Tobias, walking behind her, coolly admired the aesthetics – of both the penthouse and Lilith. She wore a designer suit that was tailored so sharply against her curves and lean figure, she could have been any rising director of a company that would own a building such as this.
Business-like, she informed him, 'No-one from your side of the operation should have known of this building, and it really is quite impressive that you were able to discover it.'
He could hear the almost-proud smirk of her lips in her voice.
To his unvoiced question, she continued. 'We run the legitimate face of the business from here. The Lady generates a terrible amount of profit, and despite being able to work our … special kind of magic when it comes to tax officers and cleaning the money, the Lady has judged it important that we at least superficially abide by some of the accepted forms of business so as to conduct certain legitimate operations.'
They swiftly exited the penthouse - a masterpiece of design and perfectly circular - via a huge elevator, sleek and silver with an ornate antique mirror hanging off the back wall and buttons that looked like they had been inlaid with rubies. Lilith pressed on one such, after Tobias followed her in, and turned, easily leaning against a wall for the few moments it took for the elevator to arrive.
Lilith gestured easily, one slender arm sweeping out just as the doors slid open silently.
'We're on the roof.' Her face hardened. 'I suggest you tread carefully.'
She watched him leave, silently springing into beautiful motion like a tiger, and only when the doors had closed again did her carefully crafted expression fall away, and she gazed at the place Tobias had been standing, her temptress eyes wide.
What the fuck had happened to him?
It was so very, very different from when they had seen him at Hogwarts - and even the thought of that made her furious with a dark rage. It was different from how he had been, even before that. He was, somehow, more.
He had become … too powerful, dangerous, terrible, and beautiful that she could not possibly encompass what she sensed in his every easy, carelessly seductive move.
Tobias walked out onto a helipad.
The Lady caught his eye immediately in the wide expanse. She was standing by an idle helicopter, talking into a mobile, her back to him, with golden curls tumbling down her back, high-heeled legs in a gracefully intimidating stance, crooning into the phone.
'No, Mr Abbot, the offer is not genuine, but take it, and when the foil plays out we'll take the product by coercion, and leave them in a weak position if we can gather enough evidence of the discretion… Exactly, if the ministry can't know, they will have no choice but to become a holding, and we gain the product, as well as the information legitimately in the eyes of any outside observer. Yes … Yes, thankyou so much.'
Her voice purred, dangerous and steely beneath a sultry tone, and she snapped the phone closed, swiftly flipped it open again, dialling another number, and stating rapidly:
'Camille, would you call the Chairman of Watersmith & Co. and inform him that I wish Mr Abbot to be immediately placed under covert investigation, incrimination pending. Let them know that the fraud should occur within eight hours, then inform General Tassinger that his offshore account is effective immediately and the product will be transferred to his deposit box within 24 hours.'
With a delicate snap, the Lady closed the connection, and finally turned to face Tobias, where he stood, in the centre of the enormous platform, hands in pockets, darkly observing her actions.
There was a moment of silence, and the Lady's eyes, intense and lovely, bore through him, and then she strode forward easily, the cream silk scarf around her neck playing in the wind, soaring behind her head.
Then they were face to face; two proud figures on an open expanse high above the ground, in a soaring city of steel and skyscrapers.
When she spoke, her voice was razor-sharp.
'Tobias, you have few options. The first is that you come down with me, come back to us and be one of us, once again.' There was no lingering vestige of concern or emotion, without hesitation, as efficiently as if she was conducting business, ticking off options one by one.
'Secondly, I would give you the resources to go, and live anywhere in the world that you so wish, as I would any of my people who were loyal and long-serving.
'Thirdly, you return to Dumbledore,' and her mouth twisted on the name as she spoke it.
'Be that for morality, revenge or ignorant imbecility.
'And lastly …' Her eyes darkened, and she turned, lightly, to face the sweeping horizon off the edge of the roof.
Tobias came up, silent and expressionless, to stand beside her, the wind whipping through his hair.
'Yes.' He stared out at the sky, at the dizzying open drop off the edge of the roof. 'Lastly.'
He understood, and so did she, even though he had doubted that even she could, strange as that doubt now seemed. For many who returned from imprisonment, from torture, life itself would only be further torture, and the invitation was, he had to admit, very tempting.
Looking now at the Lady's profile in the periphery of his vision, cold and unmoving, Tobias knew that she understood, but could not tell if it was from having watched and known people who had made those choices … or from being one of them. And he was intensely curious about the Lady.
He didn't know how long they stood like that, shoulder to shoulder, at the edge of oblivion, and he couldn't have known that the Lady's expression, so unreadable to him, as she watched the sky was a compound of rage at, and longing for, that same death for which he was being given the choice.
Later, when he considered what had made him think of it, Tobias remembered how he had thought of his connections to this world, of love and lust, and of the woman who stood beside him, and how that had led circuitously, to thoughts of both family and rape. Of the family created in her underworld, of imprisonment, and of Hogwarts and his blood family, of sex, lust, and the darkness found within his shattered self while a prisoner of the Dark Lord.
And in thinking of family, and of imprisonment, and that last escape, he thought of Sirius Black.
He turned to the Lady and smiled. And she looked across, through his eyes to a skeleton of a man that grinned cruelly at her through eons past. She recognized brilliance, and sheer, unyielding insanity, shining cruelty and a burning age and love that she had known before, but never expected to see come from anything human, let alone in this lifetime.
And, as certain as she had ever been of anything, she knew that this image, this … vision was an omen.
'My godfather,' the vision rasped, and her world shimmered, and there was Tobias, smirking and whole.
'I want to find Sirius Black.'
'Ahh.' Her voice changed and lifted, rich with amusement and her eyes sparkled, and Tobias suddenly recalled, as if from a lifetime ago, the Lady's deep and abiding love of causing chaos.
'Let me make some calls, Tobias.' And her lips curved in a wicked smile as she opened the sleek mobile once again.
This is how the next five minutes went, how the most secretive and dangerous people in the underground world made contact.
The warlord the Lady had shared her bed with, who controlled the largest private army in the world, had done some sensitive business, involving secret magic-technology research bases and decapitated scientists, with Sirius Black not too long ago.
Not having any direct involvement with the pureblood mercenary she couldn't contact him directly, needed someone with whom he was already familiar.
She had the warlord's private number, requested that he pass along this very simple, very compelling message.
'Your godson would like to meet you.'
So simple, it would sound to anyone like a code, and not literal truth.
In this new age of technology, satellites and magical communication, it took a mere two minutes for the reply to arrive, and it arrived in this form; the elevator pinged lightly, a messenger smoothly walked across the roof, silk tie flapping in the wind, and handed the Lady a slip of paper.
She glanced down at it; her lips curved in amusement, and instructed the messenger to retrieve the Wolf who was her best helicopter pilot, Leo. This was a delicate operation, and required discretion.
The messenger placed a hand to the handset in his ear, and within moments, there was a deliberately explosive crack and Leonard apparated onto the roof, dreadlocks flying, grin in full swing as he saw Tobias.
The Lady handed him the slip of paper, murmured a few words in his ear, blonde curls slipping to mingle with his dark tresses, then went to Tobias, her eyes dark and glittering, laid her lips upon his forehead, and left without a word.
Leo examined the paper. There was nothing on it apart from a set of co-ordinates, which, unless he was mistaken, indicated a place off the coast of East Africa.
He looked up at Tobias, chin raised, confrontational.
'So, you back then?' His voice was harsh and expectant.
Tobias, jerked from his thoughts, smirked, tilting his hips and lifting his arms up to cup the back of his head.
'Oh yeah.' He drawled out the syllables, and stalked past Leo, slinging an arm casually across his shoulders and steering him to the helicopter, lips whispering and breathing hot into his ear.
'Am I ever.'
Tobias had always enjoyed the company of Leo, that was, whenever the Wolf had any time for him.
It had been rare to see any of the Wolves, occupied as they were with the highest levels of international assassination, politics, sex and espionage – and Tobias had always suspected that each of them ran separate branches of the Lady's operations across the world practically autonomously. The times he had spent with them, however, had been like coming home.
The Wolves, and their Lady, were perhaps the only people Tobias did not view with an arrogance bordering on contempt.
And yet … he had now encountered the Dark Lord, and found his thoughts a whirlwind whenever they turned to that - he was reluctant to classify him as a man.
Tobias and Leo talked about a lot of things on that helicopter ride, but only one conversation stayed with Tobias, something that was, ironically, barely a conversation at all.
Tobias turned from the window, eyes questioning, asking a question that had troubled him for some time.
'How long have you known the Lady, Leo? I know she fought in the first war, that she is a powerful witch, but it just seems … she seems far too young for what I've heard that she's done, things that happened years and years ago, and everything that she has done, what she is.'
Leo had started laughing halfway through, a low, sinister chuckle that held little humour at all.
'What?' Tobias' eyes narrowed.
Leo turned his head to look at Tobias full on, head tilted back against the seat, arms resting easily on the controls.
'Tobias.' Leo raised his eyebrows. 'Have you ever seen the Lady actually use magic?'
Tobias lips parted in shock.
'You mean –' He stopped shaking his head. 'You mean… she's a mundane?'
Leo shook his head, face unreadable.
'Oh, gods no.'
And that was all Leo would say.
Somewhere off the coast of East Africa
The helicopter was one of the three magic-science hybrid prototypes in the world, and it took mere hours to get to the co-ordinates. While magic provided instantaneous transport, when going to an unforseen and unseen destination that could prove dangerous and unstable, more physical means of transport were always preferred.
This was the reason a lot of wizards preferred broomsticks – the Lady just like to travel in style and comfort, hence the helicopter, which was only one among many of the transport resources she possessed.
The sky was grey, with winds whipping the oceans and the promise of rain on the horizon as the helicopter thump-thumped across the landscape.
Leo had no idea what to expect at the co-ordinates, but it was certainly not an abandoned, and obviously scavenged oilrig that shimmered into visibility as the helicopter made its third pass over the indicated area.
Three men stood on the heli-pad, two had P-90 machine guns trained on the helicopter, and a third was manning what looked like a surface-to-air missile launcher.
Leo grinned across at Tobias, teeth sparkling.
'Guess they don't want us to land then. You'll just have to use the cables.'
Tobias was staring down at the oilrig, eyes narrowed and considering, and said,
Before he unstrapped himself, and determinedly moved to the cargo area behind the seats, slamming down the revolutionary, hybrid control that lifted the magical shielding over the open exit.
He reached up to snatch off his headset, and Leo, reaching back, caught at his arm.
'Hey, Tobi. You sure you want to do this? We can turn around, right here, right now.' Leo's voice was dusky and seductive, speaking of underground clubs and glamorous assignments, luxurious life and all the freedoms Tobias had been used to …before.
Tobias froze, eyes wide and blank, as if he had never considered the possibility. And it was tempting. He had idolized the Wolves, had wanted to be one of them with ferocious longing, and was, as all the Wolves were already, half-and-madly-in-love with the very idea of the Lady.
Then he a slow, malevolent smile crept over his face, and Leo knew they had lost him.
That was before. This is now.
Leo watched as Tobias fell, then in delighted surprise as he levitated himself inches before hitting the deck.
Picked up some new tricks then, Tobi. Laughter fell from Leo's throat as the helicopter banked, and peeled away.
Tobias landed, falling gracefully to one knee, coat flaring about him, his messy, dark hair tumbling over his eyes.
The guns trained on him did not waver, though the missile launcher relaxed, pulling out a military issue com-radio.
The bleak, concrete platform was huge, the wind whistling freely across the expanse, and Tobias stayed crouched, wary and ready, eyes watching everything.
His handset-radio crackled, speaking.
Sirius Black pulled away from the classified papers he had recently acquired with a curse.
How the fuck had they gotten here this quickly?
He threw down a pen and picked up a knife, sliding it into his thigh holster.
It was second-nature, and he barely even noticed he was doing it, and only just restrained from sliding on his shoulder gun holster. He paused for a moment, face blank, then swore again, ran a violent hand through his hair, grabbed his leather jacket, and strode out of the room.
He moved swiftly, boots clanging on the metal grilling, passed the mess-hall that the young orphan-girl - whom they'd picked up almost a year ago - had converted into a gigantic bedroom, and heard the huge boom of her music from within the closed hatch.
He grinned, wolfishly, feeling excitement unfurling within him, as if that primal, drumming music had unleashed his careful grip on emotion.
Harry. Of course he'd read the newspapers, from start to finish of the whole affair, from when they had 'found' him to when just recently they had reported his capture by the Dark Lord.
Sirius had seen the signs from the beginning and cursed them and sworn that if Harry re-appeared Sirius would be making an appearance of his own at Hogwarts.
For now, though, it seemed his godson had found him.
Then he was stepping out onto the platform, eyes alight with a hard grey-blue glitter, and saw Tobias, as the boy had caught sight of him, slowly arising, coat rippling about him, and Sirius stopped, utterly entranced.
His dazzling, hard-edged face met that wary, defiant, and dangerously seductive one across the open space. For a moment, nothing moved.
Then Sirius let out a fervent holler, grinned madly, and sprinted across the platform.
Tobias still didn't move, wary and caught off-guard, but when the man collided with him, so hard Tobias stumbled and both of them fell to the ground, he was, suddenly and unexpectedly, infected with that same, irrepressible elation, and laughed, throwing his head back, uncaring that this man was a stranger to him, only knowing that this was the kind of family he would have wanted to find him.
The two rolled across the deck, and the crew that was present grinned at the scene that was so reminiscent of a dog ecstatically jumping someone, just as Sirius might in the animagus form that was so familiar to them.
When the two stopped tumbling, Sirius had rolled onto his side, propping his head up on a hand, casual as any king might be when in his own domain, utterly uncaring of the absurdity of lying in the middle of the heli-pad of an abandoned oil-rig like it was a Caribbean beach, and examined Tobias from where he lay on his back, head cushioned on a hand, examining Sirius back with just as much intensity.
Without looking, Sirius flapped a peremptory hand, dismissing the men, who good-naturedly shouldered their guns, and walked off, into the depths of the oilrig.
As they left, one commented in his thick Irish brogue, glancing over his shoulder.
'Marvellous, lads, now there's two of 'em.'
The end of Sirius Black and Godson's first conversation.
'So what do you call yourself?'
Tobias glanced up at this charismatic, infamous man who was his godfather, and laughed, edged in bitterness.
'How would you know to ask something like that?'
'Hey, kid.' And for some reason, when Sirius said it, Tobias didn't mind being called that at all.
'Why the hell would your name still be Harry, let alone Potter? You disappeared way too young to remember that name. I may be pretty, but I ain't dumb.'
Tobias lay still for a moment, considering. And Sirius, whose metaphorical hackles had been risen ever since he'd caught sight of the boy, wondered how he could ever get such a one to trust him, or even like him.
'Tobias. My name is Tobias.'
And hell, what a different introduction this was when compared to that Tobias'd had with his real parents.
'Like Tobias and the angel. 'God is good.'' Sirius' voice was rough and smug with knowledge.
Tobias grinned, dark and laughing.
'Ironic, isn't it? I think it might have been what the nuns called me at the orphanage. I don't know, I … can't remember.'
Sirius, clearly bored, or perhaps not wanting the conversation to go down that particular path, rolled over and leapt to his feet, reaching down an arm, which Tobias grabbed after a moment, and pulled him to his feet.
'Well, no rest for the wicked, kid.' Sirius was already striding away, across the deck, a wild spring in his step. He shouted the words back over his shoulder, through the wind.
'We gotta tub to commandeer. Wanna come?'
'Really?' Tobias hadn't moved, and he called out the mocking question from where he stood, the words singing through the space between them. And the question was so much more than just what he asked.
Sirius halted, and turned, spreading his arms out wide and akimbo.
'What the hell do you think we're doing on this godforsaken ocean?'
His grin was dazzling, conspiratorial.
'In that case, hell yes.'
Later that night.
The submarine was a top-secret government project, lurking at the bottom of the ocean, unknown and undetected, carrying nuclear missiles capable of launching a strike against any city in the world.
It was night, and through the silky-black waters, a squadron of divers slid, down, deeper and deeper into the depths, towards this killing machine that none but the uppermost echelons of a muggle world-power should have known of.
They reached the submarine, and with deadly efficiency, a pressure-bubble was spelled around a hatch, the security locks bypassed, and with an ominous clang, the submarine was breached.
Inside, Sirius pulled off his diving gear, black hair dripping wet, eyes cold and hard as he surveyed his men critically. Tobias had dropped inside last, and as he stood, divested of diving gear, he was handed a gun loaded with tranquilizer bullets that would have no chance of breaching the hull.
Though they intended on using spells, it never hurt to have back-ups.
Sirius jerked his head, signalled his people with two harsh gestures, and they split up, flooding down three alternate routes, moving fast and far too quietly for any without magical aid.
Sirius and Tobias moved rapidly, on an independent mission, heading for the missile silos, intent on making sure the crew couldn't arm the nuclear warheads during the attack, be it purposefully or due to panic. Tobias wasn't trained for military operations, for stealth or action, but he was a natural and had good instincts, but nonetheless, this was why Sirius was staying with him, why he wasn't in the frontal assault.
They encountered only one pocket of crewmen, running down a corridor, boots clanging, and breathing heavily, just as the power was cut, and dark red emergency lighting flickered to life.
Tobias never stopped moving, leaping off the curved, steel walls and flinging himself at the leading man, bowled him over and rolled smoothly to his feet, slamming his foot against the fallen man's throat, crushing his windpipe instantaneously.
Sirius cursed violently, and flung himself out of cover as, raging forward, weaving a fire curse that leapt from his wand in slender, sharp swords of white-hot power, brutally cutting down the two men that had moved to flank Tobias.
Tobias, eyes flaring in the aftermath of the painfully bright curse, jerked his head up, hair flying about his face as he stared at the men that fell around him, then at Sirius.
'Learn to think.' Sirius snarled, striding forward furiously, and grabbed the back of Tobias' shirt as he passed him, spurring him into movement.
'This is military, we're fighting military, you don't just attack! It leaves the rest of the men, and yourself vulnerable, it wastes resources and it is inefficient.' Sirius never stopped moving, barrelling down the corridor, the words staccato-quick, as he rapidly checked every opening.
Tobias bit back a snarl of his own, glancing back at the blood-spattered bodies already at such a distance behind that they were barely more than a dark blur in the emergency lighting. He followed Sirius though, mimicking his body language, moving through the tunnel-like corridors in the same manner as the mercenary.
He hadn't been trained for action, no, not assassination or offensives. He had, of course, been taught how to defend himself, and his aggression, inner rage and natural ability had made him a common and powerful presence at the underground fighting rings.
But he wasn't a professional fighter, and had only his instincts, which worked for him when he was working solo, not when with others, or on a mission, and he understood that, and so, he followed, he assimilated, and he learnt.
Within half an hour, the submarine had been secured, and Sirius strode onto the bridge, where there were already three of his crew waiting, in triad formation, exhilarated and smirking, hands proudly on hips.
'Boss.' The Irish one said, gesturing extravagantly, and grinning, 'The sub is yours.'
Sirius grinned back. His dog-grin, dark and wily.
'Why thankyou, Sammy-boy.'
Tobias, watching, silently leant against the hatch that opened onto the bridge and folded his arms, face half-hidden in shadow, a smear of blood across one cheek.
Slowly, watching the professional movement of the crew as they hacked through the systems, leaving the submarine open to their complete, autonomous control, a self-satisfied smirk settled around his lips, eventually breaking out into a low, rich chuckle.
Sirius glanced up, eyes narrowed, from where he was bent over a console with Sam, arms braced heavily over a screen.
'We just stole a nuclear submarine.' Tobias' voice was pure mischief.
'Yeah, well, what can I say? I didn't trust the presidential bastard who held the command codes.'
Of course, that wasn't the real reason. His voice whispered beneath the words.
Sirius swiftly punched a number into the board, then stood, turning to face Tobias fully, crossing his arms.
'So, I ask again, what?'
Tobias shook his head lightly.
'I was just thinking … I must have made the right choice.'
Sirius didn't move for a moment, no humour at all in his face, then nodded sharply, eyes intent, and turned back to the console.
A moment later, a small smile crossed his face, bathed in the computer glow, and disappeared just as quickly.
Tobias bled back into the shadows.
City of London
Nearly 24 hours after Tobias had left in the helicopter, the Lady was standing in her penthouse, a report that had just arrived from France fluttering to the ground at her feet.
Each European country that had a prominent magical ministry had suffered attacks from the Dark Lord. The strangest thing, that no-one could figure out, even as panicked reports poured in, was why the attacks were not on magical ministries or villages, not on anything to do with the magical communities.
The attacks were all on muggle cities, and were, unmistakeably, preternatural. Non-explainable by normal muggle standards.
Is he mad? People were questioning, for very different reasons than they normally did. Surely the Dark Lord needed to conquer the magical ministries before even considering the muggle world, expansive and uncontainable as it was.
The ministries were, just barely, managing to keep the situation under control, keeping in check the tidal wave that would break if muggles ever truly accepted the existence of anything supernatural, let alone the truth of the magical communities.
The Lady smiled, softly, taking an elegant sip from her wineglass.
They, the masses, the average populace, failed to understand, always had. This was about revolution. A revolution of world order, not simply of magical world order.
She reached her windows, and knelt smoothly as a book caught her eye, the one Lilith had dropped so carelessly. Fables of the Golden Age – Comments on Prehistory Earth. It was open on a random page.
And lo the Fae creatures of primal force had locked themselves far away from our mortal earth. Yet in the times to come, human mothers would weep, and the grief would turn to rage, for what black emotion it did stir when the most beloved and beautiful of progeny was stolen away by such terrible and tremendous beings. The Fae continued to steal their chosen children away to the promised lands, to the despair of mortals, and it was so foretold and done, until one such would be denied to them, one such with the power to shatter and tear open their gates, and flood the world with the horror of predators and supreme beings far above our lowly human status.
'Stolen children.' The Lady murmured, and smiled, for did she not do the same? Take for her world the most beautiful and gifted?
Tobias. That vision she had seen overlayed upon his face, that grinning skull. It had meant destruction. And in destruction, creation. She had never expected to experience what it indicated ever gain. The world spun, evermore, rotating on the axis of certain cornerstones, and she knew, knew now, something was coming in this rotation.
She gazed out, out through the windows, once again clear and whole, at that world.
And in that instant, the earth trembled, a horrific groaning thundered through the sky, and a skyscraper, a tall, magnificent creation of steel and glass tore itself off the ground with an iron scream that seemed to last an eternity, and … levitated.
The Lady's eyes went wide, and she rose to her feet, so deliberately it seemed the world had slowed just for her.
Then she turned and fled, ran for the elevator in bare feet, slamming down the button for the roof, and as she emerged, spinning around in the wind, hair whipping across her face, obscuring her vision, starbursts exploded around her.
Beautiful, terrible colours, crimsonbloodredvolcano went one building, in a plume of dark fire, and blackpoisondeathpurple streaks melted down another, sluggish and oozing. Greenvileopium smoke exploded as a towering business shattered outwards. And it kept coming, more and more, at least ten, huge, major buildings exploding and imploding, one after another, spiralling a circumference, until finally, that first floating, spinning skyscraper crashed to the earth, and above it all, the burning city of London, the Dark Mark spiralled up and out like a rosebud.
The majority of the city was still intact, but the circle, the flower bloom of destruction was potent and unmistakeable.
And the Lady, eyes so wide the whites could be seen all around, a tiny figure in the exact centre of the desolation, standing on an untouched rooftop, laughed and laughed and laughed.
Then she raised her wineglass, and toasted to the Dark Lord.
And Lord Voldemort, exhausted and shattered, the dark ritual magicks still pulling at his blood, pounding at his soul, smiled, eyes reptilian red in that handsome face.
Hope you enjoyed, and please, do review!
Even just a word or two, though the detailed are adored and loved.
And I promise, next chapter? Lots of criminal activity.