Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work. I own nothing except Salazar's wife, son, and various other original characters. This story is an AU of sixth year, but it will contain a few spoilers from Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. However, it will still seriously diverge from canon. Also, this story is a sequel and will not make any sense without first reading How to Tell the Truth from the Lies.
"blah" : Parseltongue
Italics: excerpt from a book /newspaper or any other written form
Bold: a word or phrase that is emphasized
Italics, Underlined, and Bold: location/date of a scene in the story
Chapter Six: Past Imperfect
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, The Headmaster's Office: November 20th, 1996 (Late Afternoon)
Dominic de Dorée had lived for a great many years and had done a great many things. Some good. Most neutral. And others more terrible than others could imagine. More horrible than he ever cared to admit, locked deep inside himself never to be brought forth again. Never mentioned but always remembered.
And Dom found that such regret left a bitter taste in his mouth. The weight of decisions made was heavy indeed. Unalterable but unavoidable. Sins of necessity and circumstance more than choice. Damnation earned to save someone else.
After all, Dom had once been a Death Eater.
"As far as I can tell, the artifacts recovered are minor," Rookwood said as he glanced at the papers in front of him. "Thirteen semi-rare spellbooks, three wands in various states of repair, eleven rings with weak enchantments, a few other odds and ends. It seems that everything had been gone through by the Dark Lord's servants."
His boss leaned back in his chair, contemplating the robbery. "Did anyone see you take what was left?"
"No, no one saw else." Rookwood shook his head. "They all assume the Death Eaters took everything not spelled down. Not that there was much to begin with. Goldstein's been semi-retired for some time now. He hasn't seriously dealt in antiquities for nearly a decade."
Revan rubbed a hand over his chin. "Then, why steal from him in the first place?" he mused rhetorically. "Unless there was something of particular value or interest. Or they believed that there was. Did you get an inventory?"
"Yes." The younger man flipped through his papers before settling on one. "Nothing really. A collection of coins dating from the eleventh century, a grimoire written in a language no one could read, a sword that reportedly belonged to--"
"A book no one could read?" Revan interrupted.
"Ah… yes." Rookwood traced a finger along the paragraph in front of him. "Blue-covered with silverish runes. Every page inside was filled, but like I said, no one recognized the language. Goldstein approached several scholars when he first purchased it with no luck."
"That has to been what they were after," Revan allowed, idly moving a strand of long brown hair from his shoulder. "Either one of the Dark Lord's followers can read it, or they know someone who can."
Augustus marveled at how quickly the man had figured it out. He settled more fully in his chair, absentmindedly listening to the faint hum of the secrecy wards around them. Even as habituated as he was to them, Rookwood could still feel the tingle of magic as he sat in Revan's office. A testament to the man's power.
"And what of the Death Eaters themselves?" Revan's voice filtered through his mind. "The rising Dark Lord's followers?" There was a peculiar timbre to his tone. Searching but not accusing.
Rookwood felt a twinge in his belly. "They all escaped. The Aurors didn't even arrive until after they'd already left."
"Hm…" Revan's eyes narrowed. "Almost like they knew exactly when to leave."
"Sir?" Rookwood tried not to fidget.
There was a snort. "Oh, come now. Surely, you must have heard whispers. Rumors of sympathizers in the Ministry." Revan looked at him steadily. "Of more than simple sympathizers."
Something within Rookwood lurched. It constricted and twisted, winding his organs together like a visceral rope. And his boss just watched. Just studied him with a neutral expression. Only to drop a bombshell.
"Of course, some of that is not rumor." Revan casually ran a fingertip over the rim of his teacup. "I should think you off all people know that."
Rookwood's insides froze over at the implication. But he came back to himself a second later, wrist slowly twitching to release his wand. The cedar wood slid down to his fingers, hidden from sight by the desk between them.
"Did you honestly think I would not find out, my dear student?" Revan asked softly, face a mask. "I have been your mentor from the very first day you set foot in this department. I personally recruited you from Hogwarts. Headboy and among the top of your year. Second only to Molly Prewitt."
Rookwood's hand tightened until it was white, nearly snapping his wand. A bead of sweat ran down his forehead to his pockmarked cheek. His heart fluttered painfully as a strange feeling squeezed at his chest.
"I know you, Augustus." Revan's silvery eyes practically glowed. "Just as surely as I know that you have your wand in hand under the desk."
"Come to turn me in then?" Augustus finally spoke. "If you even go that far. Perhaps I'll simply disappear."
Revan gazed at him over steepled fingers. "No." Everything about him was unreadable. "No, not that at all."
"What?" It came out at a lower pitch than normal, hoarse with disbelief. "What?" Rookwood repeated. "I'm not sure what you mean."
Revan chuckled then. "I know you, Augustus, as surely as you know me. When have I ever shown true loyalty to the Ministry?"
His subordinate paused and considered for a long moment. The sentiment was certainly true. Revan was not pleased with his employer, and that was putting it lightly. Augustus had long believed that much of his mentor's research toed the line of legality, often stepping beyond. Further, he clearly recalled several long rants over the Ministry's stupidity, talks during tea about the Dark Arts and forbidden magics, other little hints and implications. Revan was obviously a sympathizer, something he had suspected for a time now. But Rookwood had hoped that his boss would simply look the other way, would know of his doings but pretend ignorance. This was entirely unexpected.
"This is not a trap, Augustus," Revan added, expression devoid of its normal good humor. "Or a test of loyalty. I know that I can trust you. Can you find it within yourself to trust me?"
Rookwood hesitated but slowly released his wand and set it in his lap. "What do you intend to do?" His mind raced with the possibilities, thoughts dancing all over the place.
"Nothing nearly as horrible as you are imagining," his mentor replied with a vague sense of amusement.
Augustus had the grace to flush. "What is it that you want then?"
"I want you to tell me more." Revan smiled then, pleased if cautious, eyes gleaming in the dim light. "Tell me about the Dark Lord."
(End of Flashback)
And such a funny thing to recall as he sat in the headmaster's office, sipping at tea gone cold. Lost to the knowledge that the only reason he was here in Hogwarts and not tossed out on his ear or in a cell was because of Harry. The very person he had both betrayed and then saved. Only to continuously betray again. Treachery through omission.
A that thought, there was the sound of a throat clearing. Dom jumped, blinking rapidly. He lifted his head to look at Dumbledore, startled out of his reverie.
"You seemed lost to your own world, my boy," the old professor commented and studied the male across from him. "Knut for your thoughts."
Dom exhaled. "Just remembered something I need to deal with. A personal matter."
The headmaster smiled in understanding but did not question further. Instead, he waved his hand, the tea on the table instantly warm again. Dumbledore practically twinkled with amusement as he nibbled on a lemon-flavored biscuit and watched as Dom shook himself from his memory.
"Ah, forgive me. My mind often wanders," the vampire put in lightly. "It is no matter."
Albus beamed. "No worries. I find that such a thing often happens to me as well. A consequence of age I expect." He paused for a minute to take a sip of tea. "Now," the headmaster finally directed them back on topic, "as I said before, you would definitely be a benefit to the Order, specifically with your knowledge and potential for connections. I would like you to attend the meeting with me two nights from now, allow me to introduce you to everyone."
The Defense professor considered. "I was supposed to practice dueling with Harry, but we can do that in the afternoon instead. I think he would rather I go."
"Very good. Very good indeed." Dumbledore chewed on his biscuit. "Do you have any recommendations for potential allies or new members? As you can see, we need all the help we can get."
"A few." Dom's eyes narrowed in thought. "Some from my current incarnation's university days. Two or three non-humans who know my true name." The vampire tapped his cup carelessly. "Though their willingness is anyone's guess. Many see no reason to support the Ministry, even in a second or third-hand capacity. They have no love of the current government and have little to lose if it falls."
His companion nodded. "Perhaps you could get into contact with a few covens then. Especially if you're a member of one." Dumbledore gazed at him hopefully.
But Dom shook his head. A coven for all intents and purposes was a large and extended vampire family but a rather close-knit one. Many of his kind gravitated to such things for protection or even simple companionship. To have someone to face the ages with until they too finally died. Vampires were like humans in that regards, only they lived much, much longer. But they weren't immortal, not by a long-shot. Like wizards and witches, their own inherent power determined how long they would live, and many could not use magic as freely or easily as Dom. Most vampires didn't even reach a thousand, though five hundred was within reach.
Dom, however, was lucky on that front. He wasn't a purebred strictly speaking, having had a sorcerer for a grandparent, among other things. And that was enough to more than double his lifespan and make him as powerful as most human magic users. If not more so, considering how lazy the majority of them were.
"No," Dom finally answered, "I have not been in a coven for centuries. Never really my thing, I suppose. Many members are related through blood or marriage, sometimes siring and adoption. But my family was always very small, not even a proper clan. We never grew to be something like that." He paused to think for a moment. "I do not think any active covens remain in Britain. Only a few loners like myself or maybe a mated pair or two with their children. Most have fled to friendlier lands."
The headmaster steepled his hands. "Yes, the Ministry's policy for the last hundred years or so would've undoubtedly seen to that. What of the mainland?"
The vampire sighed. "Not many of us in France either. I would say that those who are still in Europe are in the northern lands, Norway and the like. Perhaps some in Switzerland. Certainly not in Romania or the lands to the east."
Dumbledore couldn't help but smile. "Too many Muggles looking for you there I'd think." He reached for his drink.
"Especially after that stupid book." The Defense professor crossed his arms over his chest and rolled his eyes good-naturedly.
The old man chuckled, but then, his face took a more serious turn. Albus very carefully set down his tea and nudged the plate more fully on the table. And there was something about the human's eyes, the hard gleam to them that made Dom hesitate. A fierce chill of foreboding rolled down his spine like a bead of sweat. He knew he wasn't going to like what he was about to hear. Not in the slightest. Not at all.
Dumbledore exhaled and folded his hands in his lap. "What do you know about liches?"
The vampire froze. "Liches?" A part of him desperately hoped he had misheard, even as the rest flared with anger.
Albus gave a slow and serious nod. His twinkle had completely vanished, swallowed by the abyss.
"Abominations." Dom felt his lip curl with absolute revulsion. "Not Dark. Not Light. Just perversion. Against everything natural. A blight on nature herself. One of the worst magics in existence." He all but hissed the last, pointed canines showing.
The old man sighed but said nothing. He knew there was more.
"They are…" Dom gritted his teeth for a moment. "Wizards who have exchange their life for power. They are dead but walk as the living, draining the life-force and power from others since they have none of their own. They tie their soul to either their own corpse or another object to stay in this world." The vampire turned away. "The former is… like an Inferi that retains their minds. The latter is a much more difficult magic, but they are able to transfer from body to body. After evicting the previous inhabitant that is." He shuddered at the mere thought.
"How is that different from a Horcrux?" Dumbledore interrupted softly. There was a calculating cast to his face, hard but infinitely saddened.
Dom's head snapped up, though he hadn't even realized it had lowered. "A horcrux is a soul shard. A split soul. It can live like a parasite off another without killing." He allowed emotionlessly, "There is some overlap, but those with a horcrux are not dead. The entire point is to evade it. They do not die unless all the horcruxes are destroyed; some part of them always remains alive and can call back the other soul fragments."
He exhaled. One hand clenched at his side, fingernails biting into his palm. Blood pooled and then flowed down his skin, but it was an anchor to reality and brought him back to himself.
"They can also use constructed bodies or animals. Liches cannot; they can only take from sapients." Dom slowly unclenched his hand. "For all intents and purposes, a lich is little more than an animated corpse with the mind and magic of a man. They can only ever inhabit dead flesh. Not even Voldemort went that far." He bit the inside of his mouth. "The sole good thing is that a lich cannot grow more powerful. He or she only ever has the same magic they possessed at their transformation."
Dumbledore sighed, a pained and tired sound. "A lich has joined Voldemort's army."
Dom clenched his hand again. His teeth ground together. His insides crawled beneath his skin, shivers of disgust. But he took a very deep breath and somehow managed to fight back his nausea.
"I figured as much when you asked. I had only hoped that I was wrong," the vampire murmured after a minute. "How did you find out?"
"Rumors Severus reported and Bellatrix later confirmed," Albus replied quietly. "She said that Voldemort has been trying to find one willing to serve for some time, and apparently, they have finally reached an agreement. Filius felt powerful death magic at a recent raid, and he's always had a strong sense for such things."
"He should," Dom commented absentmindedly, still focused on the lich. "He is part sprite, after all."
The old man wasn't even going to ask how Dom knew. "Yes," the headmaster confirmed. "His paternal grandmother. There is some brownie lineage on his mother's side as well."
The Defense professor gave a curt nod but redirected the topic. "He sensed the lich at a raid you said. Which one?"
"Just last week." Albus continued, "The attack on Whimsic Alley in Glasg--"
A loud and ringing sound interrupted him then, so shrill that it startled the sleeping portraits on the walls. Dumbledore was instantly on his feet and stepping over to one of the many devices on his desk that had just lit up, now pulsing a bluish light. Dom was quick to follow, right on the old man's heels.
"It's an alert," the headmaster answered his companion's unspoken question. "There is an attack in progress."
Fawkes chose that moment to flash into existence on his perch. The bird took mere seconds to fly to his friend's shoulder.
"Where? And who sent the message?" Dom questioned, only giving the phoenix a cursory glance.
Dumbledore twisted the device in his hands, and a face appeared in the small mirror at the top. Definitely feminine, neither young nor old but something in between with dangling earrings just visible.
"Sybill," the old man whispered, turning the device again. A burning cottage took the place of the Divination teacher along with coordinates and a few strange runes. "Midsomer Worthy. A mixed community of magic and Muggle." He carefully but quickly put the device back down and waved his colleague closer. "If you wouldn't mind accompanying me--"
He didn't even get a chance to finish before Dom snagged a hold of his robes.
Albus blinked. "Oh… well, then. Fawkes, if you would please?"
The phoenix jerked his head. And all three of them disappeared in a burst of flames.
Midsomer Worthy, The Outskirts: The Same Day (Evening)
It should have been quaint. Homey. The sort of place people chose to have a family. Where everyone knew everyone else. Where neighbors were friends and, more often than not, kin. A nice little hamlet nestled between a small forest and some old castle ruins. Safe. Secure.
Yet, reality was far different.
The entire village was burning. Not a single building was untouched. Already the pub and post office were little more than smoldering rubble. The fire station was in similar shape, one of the first things to go. Flames even licked the roof of the village church, already spreading to the old cemetery just beyond.
And in the meantime, children shrieked for their mothers. Men and women ran back and forth in search of their families. Spells flew through the air, a rainbow of deadly colors.
The Death Eaters just laughed.
Molly Weasley stood amidst the chaos, firing spell after spell at her two opponents. She successfully downed one with a silently cast Concussion hex, the other swiftly meeting a similar fate. The woman then turned to a third Death Eater and sent him crashing into a nearby wall. He twitched but didn't get back up. Molly searched for another enemy, mind stirring as she looked around, but none were close by.
Beside her, Bill shielded a Muggle and his son before banishing his own opponent into a burning home. The man screamed as he was engulfed, but the sound soon died and was forgotten. Bill didn't even listen as he shoved a Portkey into the Muggle's hand, both he and his child disappearing a second later.
Molly just gave a sharp nod of approve as she and her eldest progressed down the main street of the village. A vague feeling of familiarity settled in her stomach as she passed by houses, but the redhead was too preoccupied to care. Her attention instead centered on the battle around her, and a quick Bone-shattering curse to the legs followed by a Stunner from Bill brought down a Death Eater harassing an elderly Squib. Molly's subsequent conjured wall saved Titania Shacklebolt from the Cruciatus curse as she tended to Sturgis Podmore. All three of them Portkeyed to safety soon afterward.
Arthur joined the mother-son duo near the communal garden, bleeding from his left nostril and a small cut on his arm. Tonks wasn't far behind but left their group as they arrived at the green grocers, joining up with Apollo Avis and his oldest nephew as they tried to contain the blaze. Bill went with them, his Curse Breaker skills doing much to put out the fire. The Weasley parents were left with little to do, looking around for anyone else to help.
In the distance, Molly could see Sybill dueling fiercely with a Death Eater. The professor had been the one to call in the raid, on duty at Grimmauld Place for the night. Now, she was fighting for not only her life but that of the two little girls huddled behind some debris to the left of her. Yet, before Molly could rush to help, Sybill sent her opponent flying with a well placed curse. The man landed hard and did not get back up, neck at an unnatural angle. The teacher paid no mind to him, however, too busy calming the girls before shoving an old can in their hands. The two vanished in a whirl.
Dumbledore was just a little way over and by the mostly intact primary school, a whirl of red-purple robes as he fought three people at once. It wasn't surprising that the trio was no match for him, handedly defeated and stunned, down before they even realized what had happened. Albus was already turning to other opponents before they hit the ground.
Dom was off to the side of the headmaster, undoubtedly sticking close to the old man since there was always a chance that one of the Order could attack him by mistake. That and the fact several enemies were nearby. These were better trained than the ones Molly and her family had faced, but it was clear that they weren't the elite. Merely fodder to keep the Order occupied. Simple soldiers. Not the general.
Molly's eyes scanned the area in turn. She was again beset by recollection but shoved it to the side. Too busy Searching. Looking. Feeling. A sudden current of power caught her attention, echoing and deadly. Her gaze unerringly went to the remains of the Town Hall.
And there he was. Black robes and startling white mask lined with silver and red. A deep grey cloak that swished and intersected spells. Battling Bethany Fenwick and Caedus Solo with a cold sort of ferocity. Sending spell after spell in a steady but unpredictable stream. Banishing curses. Exploding hexes. Nameless spells she had no name for. Casting Unforgivables with an ease seen in very few.
Diggle believe what he would, but Molly wasn't an idiot. She knew enough of Arthur's activities in the last war and of her enemies to know who this was without even seeing his face.
Rodolphus Lestrange. Poor Bellatrix's brute of a husband. One of Voldemort's top lieutenants, his chief tactician. And apparently his new favorite to lead missions.
Even as Molly watched, she knew that his opponents were outmatched. He was simply too powerful, too well versed and trained, too skilled despite is years in Azkaban. Despite the fact that adversary was a former Hit Wizard and the other a master in both Charms and Defense.
Sure enough, Lestrange chose that moment to send a wave of molten air at Caedus with a single twitch of his wand. The man managed to dive to the side, but the edge still caught him in the chest. His cloak and robes instantly charred and melted, not to mention the layers of skin beneath. Caedus managed to hold in his scream, though it was clear that he wouldn't be getting back up. Especially when he still continued to sizzle and burn.
Bethany Fenwick faltered then, eyes flickering to her friend. The second of indecision cost her dearly. The woman received a Killing curse to the face for her efforts and dropped lifelessly to the ground.
Lestrange didn't even bother to look at her. He just ground Caedus' wand beneath his boot as he surveyed the area. Not but a minute later he pressed his fingers to his Dark Mark, a trickle of magic rippling through the village. The other Death Eaters hurriedly ended their own battles at the signal, grabbing colleagues as quickly as they could.
Meanwhile, Lestrange gave Dumbledore a scathing glare behind his mask. He grabbed the closest of his injured comrades and Apparated away. His underlings were quick to follow, gone mere seconds later.
Just like that, the battle was over. Only the Order and a few civilians remained, most of the latter dead. The village itself continued to smolder. Thankfully, however, the fire was soon contained due to Apollo and Bill. A few others chipped in, though most were in the process of searching through debris for survivors. Even Dumbledore was seen directing wreckage to the side with his wand, face twisting with sorrow as he came upon body after body.
The Ministry was conspicuous with its absence. Though it was possible and rather likely that they were dealing with another raid somewhere else. Voldemort did have a penchant for running multiple ones simultaneously.
Molly and Arthur were busy patching up their friends before they sent them on their way. Caedus was in too severe a condition for either of them to treat and had to be sent to Saint Mungo's. Bethany was obviously beyond help, but a number of people only had minor scrapes and bruises that were easily healed. Soon enough, there were no injuries left, just clean up.
As things died down, Molly took a moment to just breathe. The skin on the back of her neck prickled as she glanced about. Her memory twinged, noting buildings and landmarks that should be here but weren't, others that shouldn't be but were. A feeling of hazy recollection shot down her spine.
"Arthur," she murmured to her husband, even as she turned her head this way and that, "does this place look… familiar?"
He blinked at her with surprise. "Now that you mention it… well, yes. It does. Have we been here before?"
The magic of this place was strange but pleasant, a memorable taste Arthur couldn't quite recognize. His eyes took in the contour of the land, the slight hills that he felt should be larger. And the tree line was all wrong. It should reach halfway into the village proper, all the way to the town square, lining one side of the cemetery. But it obviously didn't. Further, there weren't supposed to be this many houses, only a handful. And come to think of it, the church shouldn't be there either. There was supposed to be a meadow with an altar of stone in the center.
This was wrong. All wrong. What was this place?
Arthur did a complete turnaround. He took in everything. The village, the woods, the wrecked castle in the distance. There, he paused. Just ruins. Little more than rock and rubble. But somehow important. Somehow known to him.
Only one of the towers still remained. Yet, the Weasley patriarch could see that it had once been great. Not circular but more of a triangle-shape. Something easily seeable even in the dying light. Very distinct. Very identifiable.
Arthur knew that he had been here before. And the not-so-subtle tingle across his mind indicated that he was more a question of when over if. Certainly not in this lifetime.
In his mind's eye, Arthur could picture the castle for what it had once been. Small and simple but grand. Magic seeped into every rook. Older even than him. Ancient but strong.
A jolt ran through his body. Going to his very core.
Arthur shuddered. He knew this place. Had visited this place, lived in this place. The seat of their family. A home away from home.
This was where Hufflepuff had once lived.
AN: It's ALIVE!! Yes, I am actually trying to bring this story back. However, I'm in med school, which comes first. Updates will not be on a set schedule but whenever I have the time. I am sorry if anyone is bothered by that, but this is just the way it has to be.
Also, I came up with the lich idea long before book seven came out. And a hundred House points if you know where the name of the village is from.
Things to think about: Why would Revan/Dom join Voldemort? Will anyone ever learn the complete truth about him?
To everyone who read or reviewed: Thank you so very much.
Chapter Seven: The Lioness and her Cubs