Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or anything affiliated with it. If I did, Harry wouldn't be nearly as big a pussy as he is in canon.
Author's Notes: I am absolutely humbled by the overwhelming response I was given for the prologue. Each and every one of you are awesome, and I am completely in your debt for making me a grinning idiot for the first week after it's initial release. I hope I don't disappoint any of you with the upcoming chapters, as the story will possibly get heavier, and much more intense. I will do my absolute hardest to try and write the best I can for all of you because you all deserve nothing less. FFNet version is edited for those who don't want smut. FicWad version is unedited for those who do. You can review on either, but preferred on FFNet as I check it more often. Once again, thank jon3776 for his insight and help into this story. If you have not read his stories, do so, you're missing out! Thanks again! I guess I'm still in shock. Oo
I know some people had a problem with the length of the last chapter and I apologize as this one is a bit longer. For those that did have a problem with the length, I've put a (1) in the middle of this chapter. If you feel that you want to take a break and come back at a later date once you've reached that point, then you can. Simply press CTRL F to bring up the Find search bar in your browser and type in 1. It will take you directly to the mid way mark without you having to search through again to find where you left off. I would have broken this chapter up into two but, well, I'm kinda lazy in that regard. Enjoy either way.
Chapter Warning!: This chapter contains NC-17 material.
Words in the italic parenthesis are a translation.
Thalarian T.M. Productions Presents:
Harry Potter and the
Queens Of Darkness, Ladies Of Light
Chapter One: Queen In The Garden Of Eden
October 1st, 1981...
James Potter smiled warmly, chin resting in the palm of his hand at dining table. The smells of the kitchen were dancing wonderfully across his nose, and he couldn't help but relish the thought of digging into the superb meal Lily was most likely making. His eyes delightfully watched his wife as she moved to and fro in the kitchen, tasting, testing and preparing her personal masterpiece. His eyes darted down to her backside briefly, enjoying the sight of the tight muggle jeans and he whistled suggestively. She turned to him, waggling his eyebrows as she caught his face. She laughed, rolling her eyes for good measure, but the blush tinging her cheeks told him that his advances were quite welcome.
His whistle gave way to the sound of excited laughter and James shifted to its source. He couldn't help but laugh along with his year old son, who had found a delightful practice in smashing his peas with his weapon of choice. A sippy cup.
Harry laughed as more of the vegetables splattered across his plastic baby plate, and soon he was 'ba'ing in tune with his childlike havoc. James watched, trying vainly to hold back another bout of laughter, as Harry suddenly looked at the smashed peas as if it held the secret to life, green eyes wide in wonder. The year old then looked at his cup and threw it up in the air with a yelp. Harry leaned over the edge of his high chair, cackling madly as his cup hit the floor.
James finally let his laughter come forth at his child's antics. He reached down and scooped up the cup, giving it back to Harry. Before the year old could begin his attack upon the peas anew, a well manicured hand pulled the plate away. Lily waved her finger in front of James face, smirk across her lips.
'Don't get him so worked up before bedtime. You know he just wants you to play.'
James smiled, playfully biting at the finger near his face. The redhead pulled her hand back just in time, laughing and smacking him lightly across the back of his head. He leaned back in his chair, watching his wife move back to the sink.
'Don't worry about him Lils', I'm sure he'll be fine before bedtime. If anything, this will just wear him out more!'
James leaned back over, grinning mischievously at his son, who now was happily drinking from his cup. The elder Potter spoke in a theatrical whisper, making sure Lily overheard.
'Playtime's gotta' be our little secret Harry! Otherwise your mother is gonna' be evil and stop us!'
James smiled at Lily's lighthearted 'Hey!', catching another soft slap to his head. The Marauder took it all in good humor, focusing back on Harry. He was surprised to see his son staring intently at him, sippy cup still at his lips. James wasn't sure what to make of his son's look, not normally seeing such a thing on the year olds face.
James' jaw dropped. Lily had turned from the stove, a similar look gracing her fair features. Harry's face was alight with glee however, cup abandoned, arms outstretched to his father.
Shock set in for only the briefest of moments and before he knew it, James was holding his son in the air, laughing hysterically. Lily was at his side in an instant, her overjoyed demeanor mirroring her husband's. The two spun their child around as he continued his speech, James pointing to Lily and trying to coax Harry to identify her as well. The redhead held her son, dancing with him merrily as he repeated his first spoken word.
James couldn't believe it. It was like an adrenaline rush suddenly came over him when Harry pronounced his first word, enraptured by the beautiful sight of Lily holding their child. He couldn't hold back the face splitting smile as both mother and son laughed in their childish dance, excited beyond belief.
Dada. His son's first word.
It was one of the happiest days in James Potter's life.
It was also his last.
The front door to the house exploded, a myriad of splintered wood and shattered glass. Lily and Harry screamed out and James burst into motion, snatching his wife by the arm.
'It's him Lily! He's here!'
The family of three quickly moved through the kitchen towards the far doorway, hearing the part of the front wall to the house detonate inwards as well. Lily reached the living room stairs first, Harry crying openly in her arms. James grabbed her shoulder, turning her around to face him.
It broke his heart, seeing the absolute fear and uncertainty in her eyes, and the Potter patriarch vowed he would do everything he could to make sure she and his baby were safe. He whispered to her, heart thumping in his ears as they heard Voldemort enter their home through the hole he made.
'Take Harry and run, I'll try and hold him off...'
Her beautiful face became a mask of defiance and he knew she was going to argue her point. But there was no time and only one chance to give them hope. He crushed his lips to hers and she whimpered, salty tears tracing her cheeks to their bonded mouths. He whispered his love against her lips and she quietly sobbed out hers in response. He pulled back, his eyes clinging to her vibrant ones for only a moment, before he leaned over, kissing his wailing son on the forehead.
They could hear Voldemort entering the kitchen, the wall next to the opposite doorway blocking them from the Dark Lord's sight. James nodded to his wife, watching as she hesitated for only a fraction of a second, before bounding up the stairs.
James leaned back against the wall, eyes closed. He burned the vision of Lily dancing with Harry in his head and tears stung the edges of his vision, even though he refused to let them fall.
He knew he would never see them again.
He took a deep breath, pushing off from the wall and walking through the archway leading to the kitchen. He was contumacious in his step, refusing to show fear as his most hated enemy stared at him from across the room.
He watched as Voldemort's eyes narrowed, no doubt drinking in his bold attitude. James quickly assessed the situation, bringing up his Defense lessons and Order training. All that separated him from the Dark Lord was a few meters of room and a kitchen table with chairs. He would have to make the most of it.
'Give me the child...'
James didn't answer Riddle's chilling voice but his face screwed in anger, wand slipping inside of his hand. Voldemort tilted his head slightly, acknowledging the challenge. His own wand was already in his, long prepared for the assault upon the Potter family.
James moved first.
Wordless spells flung from the tip of his wand, the most dangerous ones he could think of. The Dark Lord stood still, waving his wand in return, summoning a powerful shield to deflect all that was cast at him. James moved to one of the side counters, dodging Voldemort's spells as well, and he quickly grabbed the cutlery block holstering Lily's cooking knives. He chucked it with all his strength and even as the block left his hand, spells were erupting from his wand like a gun.
Voldemort finally moved, shifting so the blades and block flew harmlessly by. His wand motioned downwards and each of James' spells rocketed at ninety degrees straight into the floor. Voldemort let loose a bone exploding spell, waving his wand towards the elder Potter's head.
James hooked his foot underneath one of the rungs of the closest chair, hoisting it up with all the strength his leg could give. The spell impacted the chair mid-air, decimating the piece of furniture in a large display of wooden fragments. James fell backwards from the force, rolling on his side as the killing curse impacted the floor where his head had been. He shoved off with his feet, sliding across the slick tile floor, cutting and burning curses spewing from his wand as he coasted.
Voldemort waved his wand to the side, redirecting the fire into the wall. Another motion and the cutting curse slammed into the upper cabinets, dish ware and glasses pulverized by the impact. The Dark Lord snarled, irritation lining his features. The table levitated with a simple spell, and his wand shot it towards the dark haired man before him.
James' eyes widened and he instinctively swung his wand overhand, magically splitting the table through the middle. Both sides flew past him as he twisted through them, snatching up a tipped chair. He hurled it with one hand, his other already training spell work on Voldemort.
Riddle swung his arm wide, smashing the chair with his forearm. His shield was already cast even before the pieces landed, James' curses ramming against it in an explosion of sparks. Voldemort spun as he dropped his shield, effortlessly dodging the remaining hexes. Another Killing Curse and several other high intensity spells shot from his wand, whizzing straight ahead.
James gasped and he moved without thinking, grabbing the handle of the fridge door next to him. He ripped the appliance door open, ducking behind it as each spell slammed against the metal on the other side. Food and liquid erupted as the door took the entire brunt of the attack, denting with each hit. James jumped out the second the spells stopped, an organ piercing hex already flying forward.
Voldemort thrust his wand forward like a spear and James never had a chance to dodge as his spell was redirected. The purple hex slammed into his stomach and the elder Potter fell backwards, blood flying from his mouth. James hit the ground with a thud, coughing as he felt his insides twist.
He stood up quickly despite the blood pouring from his abdomen like a faucet. He cast another series of spells, gagging as blood filled his mouth. Voldemort easily swatted them away, shooting off a dislocation curse of his own. The spell rushed into James' shoulder, and the he cried out as his joint shifted, wand falling from his grasp. Even as his arm hung limply at his side, his eyes drifted up to the form that walked towards him slowly. His eyes met Voldemort's and James smirked viciously, denying the Dark Lord any hope of seeing him beg for his life. His voice rasped, red flecks splattering against his lips as he spoke in contempt.
'No matter what...he will kill you one day...Tommy...'
Voldemort's eyes blazed and James had to keep from laughing at his anger. Although James knew he was about to die, he would forever have the last word.
He closed his eyes, smiling as he watched Lily dance with Harry in his mind...
Voldemort stared out of the tower window of his throne room, several stories in the air, watching as battalions of his ever growing army went about various activities. The glass cover took up an entire wall, several meters extending throughout the room, overlooking his tremendous compound and fortress hidden deeply in the land of Wales. Completely blanketed from the outside world thanks to some of the most powerful wards ever conjured.
Various Trolls, yeti-sized beasts, from several clans went about working with the mechanic Mercenaries who had been hired, trudging along slowly with the various weapons of destruction that the Dark Lord was amassing for his armory. The Mureque'd Tribe of northern Ireland, disgusting green skin with even uglier yellow spots lining their skin like a disease. Just one of the several Troll factions that had taken the oath to serve under the rule of Lord Voldemort. Even despite their different markings and colorizations, the trolls shared one common trait.
Strength and brutality. Large and muscle bound, barely intelligent creatures, whose only worship was the bloodstains that plagued the field of battle.
Red eyes scanned towards another end of his compound, taking in the the sharp triangular tents. Symbolic banners bearing differing tribal motifs from the various Orc Hordes that had joined him.
Even despite losing the leader to the Dal' Mouth Orcs in the assault upon the Burrow, which in turn led to their disbandment, many of the Hordes had taken up the Dark Mark banners for themselves. They too had pledged service to the him, listening to the promise of war and the tasting of man-flesh. Though only slightly larger then men themselves, the Orcs were still brutish, far stronger then even powerful men. While not nearly as intelligent as the Death Eater ranks, the Orcs had one of the greatest metal working skills any had seen. Combine that with the uncanny Blood Magic's from the Sabbat Kindred, and it provided a deadly arsenal at his armies command. Kindred being another label for the entire vampire commune.
The Sabbat Kindred, whose faction comprised of the feared Tzimisce vampires, as well as many other lethal clans. The word Sabbat signified no single vampire clan, instead giving label to the entirety of factions who it consisted of, tracing it's origins almost as far back as the Iron Ages. The Sabbat had been with Voldemort during his first uprising, helping him understand muggle technology, but falling under and breaking apart after his fall. When word of his rebirth had abound after the Tri-Wizard Tournament the Sabbat elders began contacting his Death Eaters, and soon himself. They were ready to take up Voldemort's mission again, desperately trying to remove themselves from under the thumb of their rival faction. The vampire clans of the Camarilla.
Voldemort had promised them the destruction of the Camarilla, as well as human farms for which they could feed.
That promised destruction would have help from the vampires hated enemy, the Werewolves. Led by their Alpha, Fenrir Greyback. Fenrir had been instrumental in the attack that led to the death of Albus Dumbledore those few years ago and had since led raids against many cities across the entire United Kingdom. While it was difficult to manage Fenrir and his pack leaders with the Sabbat elders in the same room, a simple display of power kept all of them in line. Fenrir's sadistic streak had trickled down amongst his packs, anger at their oppression from the Wizarding governments all across Europe. It made for great fuel with which to feed the fire of hatred in the Lycanthrope's minions.
The Dark Lord's eyes once again shifted, taking in the spell firing range and the training cloaks newly inducted Death Eaters wore.
The ranks of his personal armada had expanded beyond even his expectations, the Dark Mark prominent across each and every one of their forearms. The promise of riches and the pleasure from the occasional slaves the more prominent Death Eaters enjoyed had led many from across the globe to his outposts. Each were given an immediate Dark Mark upon induction, then sent through various Dark Arts training. From there, they would be broken up into squadrons, which were much easier to command during battles and raids.
Voldemort could barely contain his personal sense of power. The army before him was only the beginning. Even now, his diplomats were scouring the globe for more dark factions with which to build the back of his catalystic army upon.
The two large iron doors at the entrance to his throne room opened, an ebon cloaked figure walking seamlessly into the room, hauling a gagged and bound victim. Their head was wrapped in a wet, red stained sack; legs confined and arms shackled.
Voldemort turned from the window and unclasped his hands from behind his back, stalking slowly to his throne. He seated himself upon the atrocious construct, built from the bones of fallen enemies, stained black from the coloring mixture used from their burnt skins. The dark warrior before him fell to one knee, dropping the figure next to himself, before placing his palms upon the floor, bowing gracefully.
"What do you have to report?"
James Potter stood from his kneeling. His pale skin stood out against his ink black hair. Golden eyes no longer hidden behind the glasses he wore in his former life. His face was expressionless.
Without any preamble he tossed the struggling person forward, the figure grunting as their body met harshly with the floor. James reached over, snatching the top of the sack and yanking it off. A middle aged man's face was exposed, hide shoved roughly in his mouth, muffling his sounds. A black bruise lined one cheek, eye long since swollen shut. James leaned forward again, tearing the hide from the man's mouth. He spit and coughed as James pulled him to his knees.
"Honestly James, must you treat our esteemed guest in such a way?" Voldemort said sardonically.
There was a faint upturn at the edge of James' lips, but it vanished almost as soon as it had begun. The man before them began to speak incoherently before the Dark Lord, until the elder Potter placed a hand upon the man's shoulder. In an instant, the clothing began to burn away and James' gauntlet sunk slowly into the man's flesh, hissing and bubbling as if being eaten through by acid. The man screamed, the sound reverberating off of the walls as one of James' fingers slowly sunk halfway into his skin. It wasn't long before the skin covering the entire top of his shoulder had been melted away, revealing the tense and bleeding muscle underneath.
Voldemort grinned in morbid satisfaction. "Yesss, that's much better." With a silent command, James pulled his armored hand from the scorching skin and muscle. The man slumped forward in the elder Potter's grasp, whimpering and sputtering like a wounded child.
The Dark Lord crossed his arms, leaning back in his throne. "You lied to me Savaar..." he said softly, coldly. "You told me that you and your bounty hunters could track down anything this side of the Wizarding world. Including Potter and the Order."
Savaar looked up painfully. "W-we tried...but they aren't using magical communications...and the members we...we knew of have...relocated..." He began to shake. "We are trying muggle..methods. We can track them...I swear it..."
Voldemort leaned forward, forearms resting against his thighs. Savaar cowered greatly when Voldemort's red eyes narrowed only inches from his face. He said nothing, simply letting the bounty hunter steadily quake in fear. After several moments, he sat back, chin rested upon a raised fist.
"It seems we have a situation then, my dear Savaar..." he stated. "I paid you and your hunters your price and gave you privileges that no others were given. You swore to me then that the Order would not stay hidden for the month. It has now been four..." red eyes glared hatefully. "And you have yet to deliver me anything worthwhile."
"M-my Lord...please we will..."
Voldemort's hand snapped into the air, yanking on something invisible. Savaar screamed as his tongue was suddenly torn from his mouth with an unseen force. The wet appendage landed in front of the bounty hunter, splashing in it's own blood. Crimson liquid poured from his mouth like a geyser as he continued to cry out, desperately trying to form pain filled words. Tears streamed down his face, and his chest heaved, hocking up more thick red fluid on the floor.
Voldemort let the man wallow for a moment, before tilting his head. "Savaar, dearest of all my friends." he stated piteously. "Lean your head forward, otherwise you will choke on your own blood."
The hunter continued to cry, eyes barely open, but he complied slowly. Tears, snot and blood dripped from his face.
Voldemort bent forward again, speaking softly. "Do you see? Lord Voldemort has mercy..." The man blubbered, nodding.
Savaar's eyes shot open as he felt a hand upon his shoulder. His eyes flew to Voldemort, taking in the Dark Lord's sneer. He tried to plead with him as he felt James hand begin burning through his shoulder again.
"Just not for those who fail me as you have..."
James hand suddenly sunk through the hunter's collarbone, burning through the mans flesh like melting butter. Muscle gave way and Savaar wailed, struggling as the dark warrior's gauntlet sunk even further, deliquencing the entire top of his shoulder and rib cage. Blood pooled in his eyes, ears and nose, soaked through his clothing and bathed the floor near his knees. James' smirk widened as his fist slowly closed around his heart, sizzling and searing. Savaar's body jerked about violently and the Potter male ripped the organ from his body.
The dead husk fell over, smoking from the gaping hole traveling from his shoulder to his chest. James' walked forward, dropping the heart in Voldemort's ebony claw. The Dark Lord swiveled it in his armored claw, inspecting. He looked upon the body, smiling madly.
"Thank you Savaar. We shall benefit more from your death, then from your life..."
James snatched up the body, dragging it towards the large wall window by the leg. With a quick motion, he heaved it through, letting glass and corpse fall several stories to the ground below. Shouts and yelling drifted up as the body landed in the middle of a firing range.
Voldemort knew how to effect a person's mindset. And this simple act would prove fruitful for the new recruits. A silent message.
Constant failure. Immediate execution.
James stood before him again, bowing as he had been before. The Dark Lord tapped a clawed finger against his chin, preparing his next move.
"Eradicate those of Savaar's personal bounty guild. Use their bodies as messages to call for more bounty hunters. Offer triple the price for Order members whereabouts." He held out his hand, giving Savaar's heart to James. "Give this to Hermione. I do believe she might be able to use it in her latest experiments."
James nodded, turning to walk from the room. Voldemort's voice called out.
"And do tend to your wife's pleasures before you leave. I have been receiving complaints from my Death Eaters that she isn't...gentle...with some our female slaves while you are away."
The dark warrior turned his head, looking at his Lord from the corner of his sight. Another small smirk graced his mouth, before he nodded and left the room, iron doors slamming closed.
Voldemort stood from his black throne, walking back to his window. He looked down, seeing Savaar's body being levitated away, and training resume for the recruits below. He took in the compound again.
The Dark Lord knew exactly where Potter was. Hiding somewhere behind the walls of Hogwarts, where those insufferable house elves created a barricade not even he could break through. Hermione and Albus had worked tirelessly against it for nearly two months, but results had not been promising.
Harry had not been seen since his defeat all those months ago, and in a way, Voldemort was not happy.
Potter was not an adversary to be underestimated, even if he was considerably weakened after their last battle. He was resourceful, and when the odds were stacked against him he had an uncanny ability to break free. Such as the events at The Church.
Voldemort had to hold back a sneer. Even though Snape was now collecting maggots six feet in the ground, it didn't help the anger that he had once again helped Potter slip through his fingertips. So if he couldn't get Potter at Hogwarts, he would get his little Order outside of it. Most of the older Order members had been dealt with, but there were still enough to be a thorn in his side. On top of this, there had been whispered reports that Potter might be recruiting from those he had attended school with.
This did not even begin to include the foreign governments that allied themselves with the boy. With the knowledge that many of the world's wizarding leaders were working with young Harry, Riddle had realized that they all needed a taste of what opposition against Lord Voldemort truly meant. And taste it they would.
In the flavor of seven of the darkest and deadliest wizards and witches, who would lead the destructive armies of The Dark Lord Voldemort.
Voldemort inhaled deeply, relishing the sweet nectar of power that nestled deeply within his body. No being on Earth could understand what the Dark Lord had at his fingertips, but soon they would know.
They would know, when Voldemort paraded the destroyed body of Harry Potter, mounted upon the highest pike in front of his marching armies.
Harry sat at the head of the large table in the Great Hall, Neville in a chair next to him. Fleur, Marietta and Demelza were in the kitchens preparing a few things for the Order to eat upon their arrival.
With the elves gone, food stuffs had to be prepared manually, charms in place to keep the food from spoiling. It was also hard to obtain large stockpiles of food with the war going on, as most members couldn't venture outside for long without being identified.
"How's Moody holding up in Durmstrang?" Neville asked.
Harry shifted through some of the papers he had in front of him. "Well, to quote part of his last letter...'These damn Kraefte couldn't hit the blind side of a shack if I threw them against it.' So in Mad-Eye speech that probably means the training is going fine. Viktor has been taking salvaging parties out into Berlin to gather as many supplies as they can while Alastor defends the castle. But he says things aren't looking very good..."
Neville watched as Harry's brow creased lightly, the edges of his lips turning down. Neville understood that no one really knew the stress that Harry went through on a daily basis. It wasn't enough to try and defend Great Britain, but he had to coordinate with so many other countries on how to deal with Voldemort. The once chubby boy could only imagine part of what Harry dealt with, having been alongside Harry for most of the Dark Lord's biggest attacks.
Neville had been shocked stupid, just as the girls had been, when Harry revealed what he had of his plan. But it really wasn't hard to grasp once one thought about it. Neville tried to imagine what he would be like if someone were to kill his family and friends, then bring them back to life to destroy him. A person could only take so much before they began to get desperate. And with Britain under assault, Germany and France on the extreme defensive, and every other country screaming in Harry's ear, Neville really couldn't blame him. Harry hadn't told them the entire truth and Neville knew that. But from what he had revealed it was probably best that the less he knew at the moment, the better off they would be.
Even though his curiosity had been substantial when Harry owled him a couple months back, asking for his assitance in getting some underground transit to certain locations. The request had been very vague, giving no details as to why he was traveling to certain places around the world, but the small bit of information Harry had given them last night finally shed some light on an otherwise unknown plan.
He just hoped Harry knew what he was doing.
Neville started when Harry's voice pulled him back to reality. He shook his head, giving Harry a soft smile.
"Just thinking a bit."
Harry smiled back. "Don't think too hard, you'll break something."
Neville chuckled, closing his eyes and stretching out in his chair.
Harry took a long glance at his good friend. He was well aware that Neville and the girls suspected that he wasn't telling them the entire story, but were willing to accept that he had to do it. Whatever it was. There was just too much going on.
Harry looked up as the doors to the Great Hall opened, revealing Kingsley, Tonks and Hestia. They were always the first to arrive.
After Amelia Bones' death, Kingsley had been unanimously elected as the Head Of Magical Law Enforcement. It had only been under his guidance and quick thinking that Hogsmeade had not been lost the day Ron and Ginny had begun decimating it. It was also under his watch that the Auror's were holding the Ministry building as much as they were, no matter what credit Scrimgeour took. With the fall of so many magical police, the Auror's, Hit-Wizards and Unspeakable's had all been regulated under Kingsley's command.
Hestia had been leading the Hit-Wizards as best she could under Kingsley's watch, mainly keeping them as scouts around Hogsmeade. In the beginning, Hit-Wizards had been primarily used to capture normal criminals rather than dark wizards the Auror's were trained to combat. But with the declining number of Auror's, Hit-Wizards were starting to get more intense training, using their newfound skills to offset the barrage of bounty hunters and mercenaries.
Tonks had been the biggest change in the last few months. After Remus' death the metamorph had closed herself into a shell, refusing to talk to anyone freely. It had been well known that the two carried a small relationship and Harry had caught Tonks sneaking from the werewolf's room a couple times back when Grimmauld was still standing. She had all but fallen out of the Auror's, spending most of her time out in the Shrieking shack, or with her parents, using her metamorph abilities to venture out into muggle London for the Order only when needed.
Harry stood slowly, shaking hands with Kingsley. "How are things going?"
The black man just shook his head, face definitely not one bearing good news. Harry nodded, understanding that he would brief him during the meeting. He shook hands with Hestia, turning to Tonks and giving the woman a warm hug. She responded, accepting his kindness, before sitting alongside the other two.
Fred, Angelina and Alicia were the next to enter.
The members of Harry's old quidditch team had suffered just like the rest of the Order members. George had been lost during the attack upon Hogsmeade. His death had all but shattered Fred, who even to this day would stop his sentences waiting for someone to finish them, but forgetting it would no longer happen. Angelina had been dating George, their relationship beginning to venture into serious territory. But when news of his death reached her, she had collapsed in a heap of tears that no one could wipe away for quite some time. Alicia had been trying so hard to keep the two standing, keeping her relationship with the lone twin stable, and giving her best friend a shoulder to cry on.
The entire Gryffindor Quidditch team back when Harry was a member had always been close, so adding Oliver and Katie's tragic ends on top of George's had almost compeltely crushed those three. Even a large part of Harry. Voldemort had attacked a Quidditch match a year ago and Oliver had done what he could to evacuate the innocents. He ended up taking a Killing Curse to the back as he shielded a young girl who had been separated from her mother. Katie had been one of the terrible loses sustained when downtown London fell to the hellish Gargoyles produced by Hermione's evil hand. She had been helping collect supplies for the Order, dying when she confronted one of the beasts, trying to save a group of terrified and confused muggles.
The three took their spots next to the three Ministry officials. Angelina and Alicia gave him tender smiles, Fred giving him a weary grin of his own and a small nod. Although they had their own losses, they had always supported Harry and given him their unyielding trust in any decisions he made in his time leading the Order.
Padma and Susan arrived mere moments after Harry's former Quidditch teammates.
Susan had taken the death of her Aunt Amelia very hard, but in true Hufflepuff fashion, she had turned her depression in a drive to better herself. She had trained hard to make herself a witch of considerable skill, carrying herself with a confidant step.
Her eyes sought out Neville's, and the two shared a sad smile that Harry took notice of. It was like that every time the two were in the same room, and Harry couldn't begrudge them their sorrow.
Losing Hannah had been difficult for them both.
Padma looked a bit more haggard then Harry remembered, no doubt spending sleepless nights researching and developing new techniques for the Order. Harry gave her a softening gaze, and she smile tiredly in return, shifting her eyes downcast. The Boy-Who-Lived tried desperately to sympathize with her. Parvarti's abduction had them all bent out of shape, none more then her twin sister. Parvarti had tried to defend Hogwarts after The Church, alongside the Auror's, Unspeakable's, teachers and a few other graduated students. She happened to be one of the unfortunate women who had been nabbed from behind, carried off over the shoulder of a Death Eater. They had received letters weeks later; pictures showing the poor Indian girl being violated over and over by faceless dark wizards. Padma swore to Harry after he had recovered, sobbing uncontrollably, that she would help the Order no matter what. Anything to get her sister out of the chains of slavery
The two girls took up places at the far end of the table, their seats being a bit distant from those in attendance already.
The next to enter was Harry's very own diplomat, who had gone out of her way to reach as many Ministries on Harry's behalf as she could. It was taxing, traveling between countries so much, especially under the cover of darkness and stealth to avoid detection.
Su Li gave Harry a courteous bow as she entered, readjusting the many papers she held in her arms. The young Chinese witch had trained to be a Healer at Saint Mungo's alongside her best friend and Harry's former girlfriend, Cho Chang. She, along with Cho, had been the first two Healer's to respond to Madam Pomphrey's emergency call after Harry's bloody return to Hogwarts after The Church. Harry and Su had never been friends, even less after Harry and Cho's falling out in his fifth year and avoidance during his sixth. But seeing him lying on that medical bed, sobbing, broken, bleeding and on the verge of death struck a chord with not only Cho, but Su as well. They had been the one's to hold him down when his new arm was painfully aligned with his body, whispering softly to him that everything would be ok. They had also been the two to stand alongside Poppy and Fleur, monitoring him entirely during his recovery. After his awakening, the two young women wouldn't be denied their place in the Order.
Within moments, the largest push of Order members began to filter into the Great Hall.
Dean Thomas, who had been detained and forced to watch as his mother was tortured to death. Harry's personal counter against bounty hunters.
Colin and Dennis Creevey, the two members most involved in the Order's muggle operations.
Ernie Macmillan, who had rallied the defense attempt during the Downtown London Massacre. Who lost his wife a year ago.
Lee Jordan, having lost his parents two years prior in a Death Eater attack, but finding love with another Order Member, Lisa Turpin.
Lisa, who also lost her younger muggle sister almost two years ago.
Terry Boot, the Order's field healer, as well as another member in the muggle operations.
Romilda Vane, who was also at the Quidditch match where Oliver was lost. The only expert Potion maker the Order had.
Penelope Clearwater, Percy's wife, who was working as hard as she could alongside her husband to evacuate everything of importance from the Ministry.
Victoria Frobisher, who had also been one of the former student defenders during the Hogwarts Raid.
Justin Finch-Fletchley, who lost both of his parents when Luna destroyed the Hit-Wizards in muggle London.
Almerick Savage, one of the Auror's stationed at Hogwarts in Harry's sixth and seventh year, also one of the only Auror survivors during the Hogwarts Raid.
Sessna Walters, another Auror who wore an eye patch. She had also been stationed at Hogwarts in Harry's seventh year.
Williamson, the Auror who took part in the battle at the Department of Mysteries during Harry's fifth year. Now leading the Unspeakable's under Kingsley's command and Harry's personal assassin.
Each member took their reserved seats, greeting Harry in their own ways and starting small, casual conversation. Harry looked at a few of the empty chairs, knowing that not every Order member would be here for this but hopefully Minerva would enlighten them once Harry made his final declaration.
The witch in question strode into the Hall, robes trailing behind her slightly. She awarded Harry a nearly invisible smile, before taking her seat next at the opposite head of the table.
Minerva herself had changed much over the last few years after Dumbledore's death, even more so in the last few months. Harry could understand. It wasn't easy watching every person you had worked with for so long be killed in a one sided fight. Witnessing students you tried so hard to protect, being killed and kidnapped. And knowing that the school you so cherished, where you spent so much of your heart providing life's tools to eager minds, slowly deteriorate into nothing more then an empty shell filled with far too many painful memories. It had actually been her decision, her first major one as Headmistress, to evacuate Hogwarts. It was even harder since she had to carry the school entirely on her own before it was cleared. She had been close to Hagrid and Madam Hooch, even closer with Professors Flitwick and Sprout. And burying them had taken their toll on her heart as well.
A hush fell over the Order as the final members silently walked through the doors.
A tall, young black man who's back stood straight as he walked. A young slender woman, long black hair pulled across her shoulder and over her chest. Another young slim woman, blonde hair flowing down her back in soft curls.
Blaise Zabini. Daphne Greengrass. Tracey Davis. Three Death Eaters.
Harry's Death Eaters. His 'Severus Snape's'.
There presence was welcomed, even if not entirely trusted by every member. But Harry had made each of them pledge an Unbreakable vow to him before the entire Order, proving their places. Which, if broken, would destroy their magical abilities.
Blaise and Tracey had joined before the events of The Church, Daphne after. Their stories had been the biggest shocks to Harry.
Blaise himself had believed the nonsense of Wizard superiority over muggles, if not as blatantly obvious as Draco had been. He had even gone so far as to use the term 'Mudblood' on several occasions, demeaning any who was not in their Slytherin 'Pureblood' group. Until, of course, he fell hopelessly in love with a muggle girl after his graduation in Hogwarts. Harry didn't know all of the details, as Blaise refused to speak much of it. Harry never pushed him to reveal anything he didn't want to. From what Harry knew, somewhere along the line Zabini had been in muggle London and had rushed into a beautiful girl returning home with groceries, knocking them unceremoniously from her hands. She was quick to verbally lash out at him when he spoke down to her and he was instantly smitten with her strength and passion. He was, unfortunately, already forced into the Death Eaters by his parents and tried desperately to keep his relationship with the girl hidden. But the Death Eaters had found out and instead of killing him outright they made him pay with his woman. Blaise had been trailed during a time he went to meet her and both had been captured. Chained and beaten, Blaise had been forced to watch his love passed from Death Eater to Death Eater, raped against her will, reaching out and screaming for him the entire time.
They killed her, forced him to renew his vows to Lord Voldemort. The next day, seeking out Harry and swearing the The-Boy-Who-Lived his life.
Daphne had been forced into the Death Eater ranks much the same way Blaise had been. She had never shown any interest in any person, constantly refusing to bow down before male Death Eaters as their plaything. She had even gone so far as to kill the few who tried to force her and it wasn't long before she had a little reputation amongst their ranks. It came as great shock when she was knocked unconscious from behind during one of their attacks on the Ministry, awakening to find herself bound and stripped to her knickers before a group of lusting male dark wizards. She thrashed and screamed as they grabbed her, each one prepared to ravish her body. But it had been a sudden defensive raid by the Ministry that had saved her from being violated, a freak chance that they had stumbled across the house where she was being held. Although Harry had not seen it, Daphne relayed to him that it had been an Order member who had draped a cloak over her nude body, whispering that it would be ok. She went home with them, trying to stop her shivering and accepting their kindness in her weak state. It had been the spark to light the fire of desire within the young woman for the first time. And soon, she and her newfound lover began to meet in secret, behind the Death Eaters and behind the Order. Lust blossoming into love, love into a secret marriage.
So it had been with tears streaming from her eyes that she swore loyalty to Harry after her wife, Katie Bell, was killed.
Tracey was another story altogether. She had joined the Death Eaters entirely of her own free will, her parents having been killed when she was little by Auror's for being suspected Death Eaters, directly after Voldemort's first fall. Her bitterness simmered throughout her school years at having her family torn from her by an entity that said it had Wizarding Britain's best interests at heart. So she joined after graduation as well, beating off the men who tried to subject her, and destroying the lives of Ministry members whenever she could, letting her hatred consume her entirely. But during a retreat effort after a Hogsmeade attack, where a simple wizard and witch had been walking with their six year old daughter, her surviving squad mates killing the mother and father without warning or remorse and quickly resuming their retreat. Tracey had been rooted to her spot, watching a poor little girl cry over parents who could no longer hear her. Watching as another little girl had her family taken. It had been without preamble, without thought, that she scooped up the little girl and took her to a safe location.
She had approached Harry, swearing her allegiance to him, in hopes of making a future for her now seven year old, secretly adopted daughter.
The three stood off to the side of the Hall, half hidden in the shadows as they always did. Even with everyone on the same side, they kept themselves separate for the group. Marietta, Fleur and Demelza entered not long afterwards, the conversations dying away when the three women began to lay out food and drinks.
After everyone was situated, eating and drinking softly, Harry stood.
"I would like to thank everyone for making it out here tonight, as I know not all of you can do so without risk." His eyes drifted quickly to the three still somewhat hidden in the shadows.
"Let me start this meeting by letting everyone know that our operatives out of country are still fine and active. Alastor is holding down Durmstrang with Viktor and the German Kraefte. Charlie is still leading a small task force in Norway and Sweden." He took another sip from his glass. "Seamus and Lavender are in France, working with Minister Delacour. Cho will be delayed in China with her father, Minister Shin Cho, until their border squads can begin defense patrols. Hopefully we can get them home soon." He sat down, the assembled members all speaking with hushed agreement. He made a small motion for Kingsley to being his report.
The black man nodded, pushing a few pieces of parchment towards Harry, deep voice resounding through the Hall. "The Auror and Unspeakable force inside of the Ministry building is holding down levels Four, Five, Eight and Two. With the Atrium secured we've been able to keep supplies coming in through the fireplaces. Scrimgeour has had us all lock the floo against those who don't have authorization rings, hopefully to deter any possible attack from the Death Eaters. This is the only floor separating the Department of Mysteries from the rest, and where the Inferi and Ghouls are coming from with the most impact."
Harry nodded. "What about the other levels?"
"Along with the Department of Mysteries, One, Three, Seven and Ten have been shut down to our forces, and we have no idea what could be lurking inside of them. Level Six has been overrun with undead, and we haven't been able to deactivate the floo network there, so we have no idea what could be coming in and out of it. We've halted them up to the IC Wizarding and British Seats on Level Five, but with most of our force fighting in the Atrium, we're losing ground and quickly. It's beginning to be overwhelmed and I'm not sure we can hold it for the next two weeks. I will most likely pull them to the Beast Division on Level Four before the week is out, then have them retreat back to the Auror Department on Level Two by the end of the month."
Harry ran his fingers over the maps covering the parchment, mentally tracing the routes Kingsley spoke of. "What then?"
Kingsley, leaned back, crossing his arms across his chest. His voice was tired. "I'm not sure, but so far we're trying to play it safe. The Auror's are down to fifty percent, the Unspeakable's down to seventy. It takes time to train the new cadets. Hestia and the Hit-Wizards are still tied up with keeping scout watch on the outskirts of Britain. If we're going to do anything, I have a feeling I'll pull every squad from the Auror Department at that time, move them to the Atrium, and then abandon the building entirely. Scrimgeour has already set up a safe house inside of Hogsmeade, and the entire Ministry force will move in to secure the town for good, making it our new, unofficial Ministry building."
"What kind of problems are we going to get with the Ministry Departments being lost?" Harry asked.
"We don't know. Percy and Penelope..."Kingsley made a small wave to the young woman across the table. "Have done an amazing job in transporting all important documentation and artifacts that we could get. Until we move into Hogsmeade for good there's really just no telling yet."
Harry shifted through the parchments a little more, everyone silently watching him as he thought. It was an unwelcome scenario, especially if there were still items inside the Department of Mysteries or any Level that Voldemort could use. But lives were more important then possessions, and Harry trusted Kingsley's judgment.
"I'll go with whatever you feel works best, so long as no one's life is uselessly thrown away."
The black Auror gave an affirmative nod, making small notes on his parchments. Hestia stood up next, walking near Harry's seat. With a quick flick of her wand, a small picture in her hands was enlarged to the size of a small billboard, allowing all in the room to see.
"As you all know, the Hit-Wizards and myself have been keeping a close eye on the borders of Britain. Thanks to Padma's zoom spell we were able to take this photograph."
With another flick of her wand, the black and white photo was activated.
The photo itself seemed to be taken from the edge of a cliff, overlooking a vast ocean or sea. In the distance, floating slowly through the water, were two large muggle ships. The picture itself zoomed in and out, refocusing time and again as it watched the ships slowly drift by. The Order members watched quietly, the picture replaying a few times before Harry spoke up.
"Those look like freighter ships." he said, eye narrowed to inspect the image.
"What are 'freider' ships?" Romilda asked from the back of the table.
Colin spoke up first. "Those are called 'freigh t er' ships. Muggles use those in their commercial industry to ship goods and such overseas. They use other methods as well but ships, especially ones of that size, can move entire stockades of supplies from one city to another."
"So what's the point behind a picture with muggle contraptions?" Dean asked incredulously from his seat next to Su.
Hestia tapped her wand against the picture, and it paused in it's action. Another tap, and it zoomed in close enough to the ships for the image to pixelate. Near the top of one of the ships, almost as if flying above each end, were two giant, blurry black dots. Twin blurry triangles extended from the back of each one. Each member was soon leaning forward, speaking at once, trying to decipher what they were seeing.
"What are those?"
"They look like birds."
"I think those are those plane things we've seen before."
"Maybe the camera messed up."
"Are those muggles firing something into the air?"
"Those are Gargoyles..."
Every head shifted in her direction, questions dying on their lips as they gazed at Daphne. The girl's hand was clenched firmly, and Tracey was leaning against her, whispering, rubbing her arm soothingly.
Her voice was cold and venomous again as she whispered. "Those bloody things...are Gargoyles..."
The entire Order's attention drifted back to the picture. Hestia hesitated for a moment, taking in the Death Eater's distraught state, not sure whether she should continue. Her eyes sought out Harry's, and he gave her the 'Ok' to continue.
She cleared her throat. "Like Harry and Colin said before, these are in fact muggle freight ships and those are indeed Gargoyles. This picture was taken by myself and Tonks three days ago, right next to the English Channel."
"We've been patrolling there off and on." Tonks added. Her voice was hollow, soft, as if she was barely listening to what even she herself was saying. "But nothing up until that point had come up. It's not everyday that muggle ships cross that way, especially with those creature's flying over them."
Harry looked back at the three Death Eaters, taking note that Daphne had calmed down slightly. "Have you three heard anything about this before?"
Blaise shook his head, voice cold and collected. "No. The Dark Lord doesn't use those things unless it's totally necessary. They aren't controllable unless the Dark Lord or Granger are in the vicinity, otherwise they run rampant. There are spells used to cage them whenever they are not in use."
"That wouldn't make sense then." Neville said aloud. "Why would You-Know-Who waste his time attacking muggle ships that hold no value to him?"
"He already risked exposing us to the muggles when he attacked downtown with those things." Demelza stated softly. "It took the Ministry an entire month to cover everything up."
Susan cupped her fist over her mouth, speaking around it in thought, eyes scanning the group. "Not only that, but like Zabini said, either You-Know-Who or Granger would have to be nearby to control them in the attack."
Lisa sat back, hand settled atop Lee's. "It doesn't make any sense." she whispered.
"It makes perfect sense..."
Even though his voice was low, the entire room stopped speaking. All eyes focused on him, and he stared off, lost in thought.
Harry knew, the moment Daphne had identified those creatures, exactly what was going on. His fears were only confirmed when Blaise shed some light on the nature of Hermione's abominations. It was a terrifying thought, but one that couldn't be ignored. His eye flicked back to the picture
"Those Gargoyle's aren't attacking that ship..." He said, letting his sentence hang in the air.
Confusion was the most prominent facial feature, many of the members looking back and forth between themselves. Padma was the first to grasp it.
"'Harry, you don't mean..."
"Yeah, I do." The Order looked back at him, and Harry pinched the bridge of his nose, eye clenching shut. "Voldemort isn't having those things attack anything. He's using them to guard the ships, or to escort them. Whatever crew those ships had, they're probably all dead."
A strangling quiet fell across each one of them, many going pale. Dennis was the first to speak up after several silent moments.
"But what would he use those ships for?" he asked tentatively. "Could he be using them to ship supplies to France and Germany?"
Williamson shook his head. "No. You-Know-Who relies on darkness and subtly." he said in a gruff voice. "Using things like that would only paint a target on any place he docks them at, letting anyone who's watching know where he or his outposts are at."
"As it stands, we don't know what he has on those ships, or why he has them." Harry said in a voice that stated the topic would be closed. He spoke to the three Death Eaters. "I need each of you to keep an ear open, and report anything of importance concerning those ships to Kingsley." Each one nodded.
Hestia shrunk the picture, handing it to Harry. As she sat, the Creevey brothers stood, giving their accounts on their ventures into the muggle world.
It wasn't long before each member gave their collective reports, each person providing something else for Harry to think about and analyze. None of it was promising. From Dean's intelligence, it was starting to become increasingly difficult to stop the tracking efforts put up by Voldemort's forces, raising the chance that an Order member might get caught. Su's was even more disheartening, hearing the difficulties that the Ministries in Russia, Spain, Sweden and Italy were facing with Riddle's influence in their countries.
Hearing each person speak only strengthened Harry's resolve to do what he was planning. How long would it take before the entire world was under Voldemort's thumb? The United States, China, Japan and Russia had already seen some of Voldemort's forces. Places no one thought the Dark Lord could even touch. And now with each of them on his side, how much longer would it be before the Dark Lord truly went on the offensive?
It was as if a curtain had been pulled over all sound when the last member sat. Nobody spoke, but glances were exchanged when they took in Harry's somber mood. His chin rested on a closed fist, eyes staring blankly at the tabletop, lost in thought.
Fleur looked around, meeting a few people's eyes, before she stood and walked around the table. She sat on her haunches next to Harry, placing a hand on his arm and another on his shoulder.
He started for a moment, blinking owlishly.
"Sorry. Got lost for a moment." He laughed lightly.
Fleur's concerned look only deepened, but he gave her a reassuring smile. He stood slowly, everyone watching him as he did so. Fleur stood next to him, her hand still on his arm.
"Minerva, how long could it take you to reopen the school?"
The Headmistress was dumbstruck for a moment, as were many of the others. She didn't answer immediately, quickly thinking things over in her mind.
"I have no idea, Mister Potter." she stated slowly. "Most of the previous students have moved, not to mention there are no..no longer any...professors." Her voice cracked for a moment. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Even if we had a faculty, it could take over three weeks to a month to reopen the school. It might be even longer without the house elves. We would need to find a grounds keeper, cooks, cleaners. On top of that, half of the classrooms have been destroyed. Some of the dungeon chambers such as the Potion's room and Slytherin dormitories have caved in. The Astronomy and Ravenclaw towers are no longer standing. You know this already."
Harry's brow tensed slightly, more thoughts flowing through his mind.
"Kingsley, would you be willing to spare Hestia and Tonks to a possible Hogwarts faculty?" he asked.
The black Auror looked at the two women, just as confused as they were.
He turned back to Harry. "I could, if they made the choice."
Harry nodded. "Neville, Padma, Romilda, Fred, Terry, Lee and Susan... "
Each one of them looked up, glancing amongst each other in bewilderment.
"...would each of you be willing to join a Hogwarts staff?"
Neville and Fred answered almost immediately, both of them agreeing wholeheartedly. Each of the others were quick to follow as well.
Minerva stood quickly, seeing the course of the conversation. "Mister Potter, you cannot be serious! I wish this school open just as much as you do, but we can't just open the doors without any kind of long term plan. We have no cooks, barely enough dormitories for the students to sleep. We don't even have the funding to buy foodstuffs and supplies for them!"
Harry's eye met hers, and he withdrew a small envelope from the backpack next to his chair. He slid it towards the two Creevey brothers.
"Colin, Dennis. Inside this envelope is a muggle debit card. You two know how to use one, right?" They both nodded. "Good..." He looked back at Minerva, but continued to speak to the two young men. "The card is connected to a muggle bank where I've had an account created through Gringotts. Your new orders are to spend the next month buying general food items and food stocks. Anything that can be used to prepare meals in bulk and then some. This card should be accepted in just about every muggle store. Buy enough food to feed at least three hundred students for the next two years." There were several intakes of breath.
The brothers paled, barely able to answer. Colin reached out a shaking hand, opening the envelope and going over the paperwork inside.
Minerva stared at Harry in shock, which was quickly replaced with exasperation. "Please Mister Potter, I understand what you're trying to do. But food is the least of our problems. They still need wizarding supplies. On top of that there are still many places that are buried in rubble. It is not safe for children to be here."
She was right, and Harry knew there was no way he could argue that point. Both towers outside were still piles of debris left from Voldemort's wake. The dungeons as well. Any students that decided to get a spell of wanderlust could easily get themselves crushed in the dank region of the school.
Harry pulled out another small bag from his backpack. It was gold and light in weight, a small zipper near the top. He turned to Fleur, handing the sack to her. She looked at him in befuddlement.
"This is a Gringotts Weightless Money Pouch, linked directly to the Black family vault Sirius left me. There is more then enough money in the vault to cover all expenses for school supplies. Would you and Mari be willing to go off into Hogsmeade and see what shops are still open? Also find any wizarding contractors willing to come up here and begin cleaning and repairing the parts of the school that they can. As well as any cooks to prepare large meals. No matter the cost."
Fleur was taken back for a moment, but soon, it all made itself clear to her. Her eyes softened as she looked at him, and she ran a soft hand over his cheek. His eye closed slowly, and a deep, weary sigh drifted past his lips.
She knew what he was doing. It was hard not too. Hogwarts was his home, no matter what state it was in. It was the place that kept him warm, when the rest of the world was cold. The place that kept him sane while the rest of the world leapt into madness. The home that gave him hope, when there was none to be seen anywhere else. So it was only natural that he would do everything in his power to bring it back to life. To bring children here and give them a place to call home. To live and laugh. To imagine and dream.
To give them hope.
"Of course 'Arry."
He smiled at her gratefully, turning his gaze to Marietta. The former Ravenclaw's eyes were wet, but her smile was just as heartfelt as Fleur's.
"Why are you doing all of this Harry?" It was one of the rare times Minerva ever used his name.
He knew that now was the time to take one of the first hardest steps in his plan.
"Because we need this school, Minerva..."he took a deep breath, preparing to continue. "This school has always been the epitome of hope for Wizarding Britain, even in it's darkest times. It has always been the safe house for those unable to protect themselves. Voldemort is a master at attacking the mind and with this school unopened, he is doing exactly that. Stripping away people's hope." It wasn't long before he was meeting each persons face with his gaze."We need to show the rest of the world that no matter what happens, we will continue to exist. No matter how many times Voldemort throws himself at us, we can still stand. That he can do the un...unthinkable...and we will still fight him every step of the way"
"We've all suffered greatly from this war. Each person in this room has fought for their life, and for others. We've all tasted was it means to be afraid. We've all felt what it means to be alone. We've all buried friends, lovers and family."
He felt Fleur's hand on his shoulder again, silently giving him the strength to continue. He glanced up, Neville, Marietta and Demelza were all looking at him expectantly. They knew what he was about to do, and their faces betrayed none of the support they sent to him.
"And that's why I, Harry Potter, am leaving the Order of the Phoenix for good..."
In the first two seconds after his declaration, a pin could have dropped and the sound would have had the impact of an atom bomb.
In the third second the outcry was instantaneous; loud enough to make him wince.
Harry leaned against the sill of the large open archway window, letting the cool night breeze cascade over his body, eyes raking over the expansive Hogwarts grounds. His battle robes were packed for the time being, mainly being worn for show in the Order meetings. He had escaped to one of the larger hallways on the Third floor after the meeting adjourned. He had spent nearly three hours doing everything he could to calm down the Order, explaining his reasons for leaving, while still telling nothing of his true intentions. It had been difficult, especially with Fred's absolute refusal to believe what he was hearing.
The rush of disbelief had forced Harry to show them the blind truth. To explain in great detail on how they were losing this war and that if he didn't do something soon, all of their names would be etched in headstones.
With that being said and the initial shock beginning to wear off, every memeber began to calm. Harry gave them each an envelope that contained his final standing orders pertaining to them individually. He gave a hollow promise that he would return but he gave them no timetable, despite many asking for one.
The sound of fast paced footsteps echoed through the corridor. Harry pulled back from the window, watching as Daphne walked briskly towards him, her face sneering. Blaise and Tracey weren't far behind her, both of them trying desperately to talk to her. She didn't listen, instead stopping right in Harry's personal space. She looked up at him in contempt.
"And here I thought you were the real deal Potter." she spat. "But at the first real sign of danger you just thrust your tail between your legs and run."
Harry's green eye narrowed dangerously. Blaise placed a hand on the black haired witch's shoulder.
The dark witch shrugged off his hand angrily, stalking even closer to Harry and shoving her face in his, their noses almost touching.
"You spit on her name, Potter!" she snarled venomously. "She gave her life for you and your meaningless Order's cause, and for what?! So that the hero..." she said the word disgustedly "...she so cherished and looked up to could just give up on everything he once told her was important? That the man who had her believing all that flowery nonsense of fighting for justice and good was just a coward in his own right?!"
"I would be spitting on Katie's name if I didn't do everything I could to stop this war." he said coldly
"Oh really?" Daphne growled in mockery, jabbing a finger into his chest. "You may have had the rest of those do-gooder's convinced Potter, but I deal with liars like you on a daily basis. You fucking hero's..." she said the word again as if it would make her puke. "...are all the same. All talk, convincing the sheep to fight for justice and equality and all that other stupid drabble but when push comes to shove you're the first one to just abandon that which you preached on and on about!"
Harry's eye traveled to the finger still digging into his chest, gazing back up to the dark witch before him.
"Need I remind you, Greengrass-Bell..." he stressed her surname chillingly. "...that your wife fought for what she believed in. She was a wonderful woman with a beautiful heart and mind. She was also a great friend, with whom I fought alongside much more then you ever did..."
Hearing his cold declaration of his importance in her wife's life infuriated Daphne even more then before. She growled crazily, rearing her hand back and swinging towards his cheek. It never connected, as mithril fingers quickly closed around her wrist. She yelped in surprise as he caught her arm but the anger quickly subdued it, once again boiling over. She struggled against his grasp, trying to pry his fingers open with her other hand. Harry held her tight enough to keep her from getting away, but without actually hurting her. He could faintly see Blaise and Tracey's bodies both stiffening, torn between assisting Daphne, or allowing Harry to deal with her.
The Boy-Who-Lived released the struggling woman without warning, causing her to stumble back and cradle her hand to her chest. She let out a furious huff, spinning on her heel and stomping off down the hallway. The three watched her disappear around one of the far hallway corners.
Blaise's spoke to Harry, even though his line of sight was still fixed to where the young dark witch had stalked off.
"She is still trying to cope with losing Bell." he said with almost inaudible sympathy. "She can't mourn her properly in the company of the Death Eaters. They still have no idea about Daphne's relationship with her, but if she's ever caught crying, it will be seen as weakness and she will be punished."
Harry nodded his head in commiseration. "I can understand..."
Blaise turned to him, brown eyes gazing at Harry coldly. "Can you really?" he asked rhetorically. Without another word the young black wizard walked away hastily, tracing Daphne's path in an effort to catch the dark witch.
"He is doing exactly what Daphne is also." Tracey stated softly when Blaise had left their sight as well. "He just hides it better then she does." Her eyes landed back on Harry, searching out his solitary green one. "Do you think this is wise? Opening Hogwarts, that is..."
Harry sighed, crossing his arms across his chest, leaning back against the window sill. "Honestly, I'm not sure. But as I told everyone in the meeting, it's the only thing we can do at the moment. It will be difficult though. The Sorting Hat isn't even functioning, no matter what I've tried."
Tracey's eyes were suddenly laced with mild surprise. "The Sorting Hat? How can you reopen the school if you can't sort the students?"
"I've already spoken with Minerva about it before I left the meeting. We're going to have to abolish the House system. Even if we tried to keep it there would be no place to put Slytherin and Ravenclaw students."
Tracey couldn't believe her ears, disbelief lining her voice. "This school was founded on the House system, Potter. You can't just destroy a tradition that's defined this school for generations."
"It's not my choice, Davis. We can't sort the students ourselves, so we'll just have to try something new. Times are changing, whether you believe it or not, and we're going to have to adapt if we have any hope of rebuilding this school." he said defensively.
The blonde witch mulled this over, nodding in resigned defeat. He was right in a way. The Sorting Hat was the only thing that could properly sort the students into their respective houses and without it working, trying to do it themselves would probably have terrible results. Her eyes darted to the landscape that Harry had been watching earlier.
"What do you think is making the Sorting Hat unresponsive?" She asked with indifferent interest.
Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure, but what I do know is that it's not only the Sorting Hat. The ghosts have long since vanished, you couldn't find them even if you tried. The paintings, even the ones of the former Headmaster's and Headmistress', have stopped working altogether. Nothing resides in any of the pictures anymore then simple backgrounds.
Tracey's eyes glanced around the hallway, taking in the persona'less' pictures that normally hung upon the walls. "I did notice that earlier. Do you think perhaps the magic around Hogwarts is... weakening?" Her question was stated as if she had a hard time believing it herself.
"No, I don't think it's that." Harry leaned his head back, eye closing. "I think it has something to do with the house elf protections. The elves were as much a part of this castle's magical essence as the Sorting Hat and ghosts were. Although I'm only hazarding a guess, I think whatever the house elves did with their sacrifice, the Sorting Hat, the paintings, even the ghosts are using their magic to keep it fully powered. Doing something like that might be what's causing them all to stop working."
Before Tracey could respond, Harry fished out three small envelopes from his pants pocket. He handed them to her. "When you get a chance, give one of these to Blaise and Daphne respectively. I felt I should give you all your final orders away from the rest of the members..."
Tracey took the white envelopes from the wizard in front of her, tearing open the one addressed to her without waiting. Two small gold pins fell into her outstretched hand. She held them up in the dim light provided by the few scattered torches nearby. "What are they?" she asked.
"Emergency Portkey's, created to tear through even some of the strongest confining wards. One for you, one for your daughter. They are activated by a phrase. One that's stated in your letter. Be careful though, Marietta designed them to be used only once." He explained.
Her eyes drifted across the letter that was contained within. "Why would we need...emergency..." her voice died out lightly, before her eyes shot up to Harry's. "You want us to tell the Dark Lord you're leaving Hogwarts?!" she asked loudly, atheism in her voice.
He held up a hand before she could argue her point further. "It needs to be done, Davis. I'm at the top of Voldemort's..."The blonde witch shuddered softly."...list of enemies. I need you three to tell him this for two reasons. One, it keeps you all in good standing with him. Any information is good information to him. Anything pertaining to me that is, but if it backfires, you all need a way to escape. Two. He hasn't been able to breach the house elf blood wards since they came into existence. Even so, I need to keep his attention away from the school for as long as possible while it's being reopened. You know the prophecy, we all do. If he knows I'm no longer behind it's walls then he'll start directing his resources into finding me. That will keep a good majority of his gaze from Hogwarts and potentially the Order."
Tracey shook her head incredulously. "You'd be committing suicide, Potter. He has eyes and ears in places even we know nothing about. It would only be worse if he knew you were somewhere outside. He'd have the best trackers money could buy searching through any trickle of evidence that said you were spotted somewhere. Not to mention if he thinks he actually found you. He'd send an army after you, or even worse, attack you himself."
"That's what I'm hoping for. The more energy he wastes chasing my ghosts, the less energy he has to waste against everyone else."
"How can you even hope to stay hidden?"
"That...is something I will tell no one." he stated, effectively closing that part of the conversation.
Tracey stared at him for a moment before nodding, placing the other envelopes in her robes, preparing to take her leave as well.
"Davis..." She turned to him, just in time to see him pull a small, wrapped package from his pocket. He held it out to her and she took it, looking it over. "Something I was able to get for Tiffany. You'll have to de-shrink it before you give it to her though."
There was a small upturn at the edge of her lips but it disappeared quickly, replaced by her more common indifference. She turned without another word, beginning her departure anew.
Harry waited until the final Death Eater was out of sight before his voice called out.
"You can come out now..."
He could see a figure move in the corner of his eye, slowly slinking out of the shadows.
"'Ow long did you know I was 'zere?"
Harry watched as Fleur pulled her hood down, silvery blonde hair waving around as she shook it out. She had switched clothing to a more muggle attire consisting of jeans and a hooded sweater. Her hair had been pulled back. Crystal blue eyes opened, watching him. He smiled for the first time in the past few hours.
"About twenty minutes before they showed up."
She placed her hands on her hips in mock annoyance, a small pout gracing her lips. "And you just let me stand 'zere? You are so ungentlemanly!"
He laughed lightly, beckoning her to join him in his nightly pastime. Fleur walked up next to him, letting out a content breath as the cool air brushed against her skin. Even though the climate was chilly, Hogwarts always had a way of being overly warm. Harry had once told her that he was fairly certain it had something to do with the magic surrounding the old castle. It would explain why the girls were always able to wear uniform skirts and not be bothered by the outside temperature when inside it's walls.
"I take it you heard that entire conversation."
It wasn't a question, but a statement.
Fleur bit her lip, eyes falling to her feet. She had heard everything, and had almost screamed in anger when she learned what he had planned for those three to tell You-Know-Who. She turned to him, eyes shimmering softly.
"Why are you doing 'zis 'Arry? It doesn't make sense. You're willing to risk your life but no one else's? You're just going to up and leave everyone to go do some'zing you might not even accomplish? Even worse, you won't tell any of us what you're doing. 'Ow can you expect any of us to put our fai'z in you?" Once the dam was opened there was no stopping the flood. Her voice cracked, but she pushed on, willing herself to continue. "You're one of my best friends 'Arry. I 'ave told you 'zings 'zat I 'ave never told ano'zer living soul. Should you not do 'ze same for me? Not just me, but for Nev and Mari and Dem? For everyone 'zat looks up to you?"
Harry turned to her and she almost recoiled by the hardness his single eye carried. It was a look she never thought would be directed at her.
"You know I can't do that Fleur. No matter how many times you ask, plead or beg me to tell you."
Her soft hands grasped the front of his sweater and she forced herself to harden her own eyes.
"'Zen just tell me why? Why are you doing 'zis?"
He hung his head slightly, brining his hands up and cupping them around hers. He held her hands softly.
"Because I'm not strong enough..."
"What?" Her confusion was obvious.
He pulled her hands from his sweater lightly, turning back to the window sill and leaning against it. He took a deep breath.
"When I fought Voldemort...and them...I was somehow able to meld my wand with the Gryffindor sword. I didn't even know what I was doing until it had already happened. It became some weapon I'd never seen before, but I knew how to use it. I had no idea where the knowledge came from, but I didn't care at the time. It felt natural, just like my wand did the first time I held it. I could cast anything from it that I wanted, and the effect was so much more powerful then before." He paused, collecting his thoughts. "I haven't told anybody this, but I honestly don't remember everything from the battle itself. Just overwhelming rage and pain. Sometimes though, pieces of it will flash through my head when I'm walking around, or eating, even researching. Towards the end of the fight it was torn from my grasp and as of yet, I have no idea where it is"
"Do you 'zink You-Know-Who 'as it?" she asked softly.
He shook his head. "No. I can remember it blasting away Lovegood when she tried to grab it. It obviously wasn't going to allow anyone but me to hold it and even if Voldemort somehow did get his hands on it, I'm sure we would have known by now. No telling what kind of spells he would try to create with that thing in his grasp, and he would have used it the first chance he had. Just another way of flexing his power."
"If 'e doesn't 'ave it, where do you 'zink it could be?"
"I don't have the faintest clue. Kingsley and Williamson searched the grounds where I battled them and neither could find a thing. They even searched for my wand and the sword separately, thinking maybe they broke apart after the battle. Besides you, they are the only two people, bar possibly Voldemort, that know I no longer have my wand or the Gryffindor sword in my possession."
"You're saying 'zis 'as left you weak? But 'ow? I've seen you cast wandlessly before."
"Wandless magic can be easily accomplished by witches and wizards who are in direct connection with their magical centers, their cores. It's why Aberforth could do it on such a regular basis. A wand acts as a focal point for wizards and witches, something for them to concentrate on to give them the ability to cast. Wands have elements inside that once had magical cores, but no longer. The 'space' that core was at is still there however. When a wizard picks up the wand, part of their own magic can settle inside, take up part of that space so long as the ingredients are compatible with a wizards own magical center. When you cast a spell, in a way you're already focusing on your own magical center, but only the small part your wand has actually siphoned from you naturally. Wandless is simply omitting the tool, and focusing directly on yourself. But some people can't handle the amount of concentration and control to achieve it. Sometimes there's just too much for them to handle at once, and they can burn their bodies out in a matter of seconds. And that's where the problem stems from. The harder the spell, the more concentration it takes to cast, like it would with a wand but on such a farther scale."
Harry hesitated for a moment, bringing his artificial arm up in front of himself. The mithril reflected the moonlight beautifully, it's lunar rays sparkling off of it's unblemished surface . "This is the only reason I can cast wandless so easily now. The metals inside this are natural magic conductors. But metals never had magical cores, so they don't have the power a wand could have when in the hands of a wizard. It's because of this that I can't...I can't even cast my Patronus...anymore."
Fleur studied his profile, her heart going out to him when she saw a glimpse of anguish flash across his face. She frowned when it passed, his strong facade coming back into his features. Her hand slid over his and he turned his attention back to her. That's when she first noticed the dark circle under his eye, a silent warning that he had not slept in days. Possibly weeks.
"Your are not sleeping properly." she mentioned.
He nodded lightly. "Yeah. With everything that's been going on I can't always get to..."
"Your dreams keep you from sleeping." her voice interrupted.
He looked up at her in surprise, wincing when her hard gaze pinned him. Fleur could almost always see right through him. He nodded again.
Her eyes only hardened more, hand squeezing his in emphasis. "And you planned on leaving tonight wiz'out an ounce of sleep, didn't you?"
The veela's tone was slightly patronizing and Harry rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "I was going to down some potions before I left. I'll be fine, honest..."
Fleur groaned, rolling her eyes. "Men and 'zere macho ways, I swear."
Before Harry could defend himself and his slightly hurt pride, Fleur sat on the archway windowsill, swinging her legs over the side, letting them dangle over the edge towards the ground below. The sill itself was several feet wide, plenty for her to sit comfortably with room to spare behind herself. She faced him, all traces of her previous annoyance gone. Instead she rewarded him with a warm smile, patting her lap.
"You leave in a few 'ours, 'Arry. Until that time 'owever, you are going to sleep. I will not take 'no' for an answer, ei'zer." Her words, although stern in statement, left her mouth with compassion.
Harry couldn't begrudge the veela her concern. He knew what he was doing to his friends was almost heartless in some way. Withdrawing from the protection of Hogwarts with Voldemort out for his blood. Not telling them exactly where he was going or what he was doing. Leaving them to wonder when, or if, he would return.
He crawled onto the sill without any defiance, laying on his side and settling his head on her lap. He couldn't suppress the warm purr that escaped himself when one of her soft hands strummed through his hair, her delicate fingers parting the strands in a continuous pet. Her nails lightly grazed his scalp and his eye closed almost of it's own will, refusing to stay open no matter how much Harry rationalized otherwise. Her left arm draped over his shoulder, other hand softly settling into his. Her index finger traced faint patterns in his palm, lulling even more relaxing feelings to slip into Harry's mind.
"'Arry?" Fleur asked after several minutes of silence.
"Yeah?" he murmured softly.
He felt Fleur shift slightly, pulling him a bit closer. "'Do you really 'ave 'ze money to reopen the school?"
It was one of the many questions she had in the back of his mind. While she would follow his orders and use the money pouch to purchase all that was needed, she couldn't help but wonder just where that left Harry's monetary position.
"It will be a bit of a stretch but yes, there should be enough." he said after taking a moment to calculate in his head. "I've been contracting with Gringotts through owl post. Good for nothing goblins charged an arm and a leg to have a muggle account set up through them since I couldn't risk leaving the castle yet. Colin and Dennis will more then likely use the entire account and I've instructed the goblins to emergency transfer from the Black vault in case of an overdraw. By the time everything is accomplished between you, Mari and the Creevey's, the entire monetary aspect of the Black Vault will probably be close to drained. That will leave me with my family vault to rely on for direct money, which should sustain me for at least several more years. Don't worry, I'm not putting myself onto the street yet." he chuckled.
"Good." she said softly. Her hands continued their hypnotic movements and she felt his body beginning to slack. For a moment she was tempted to draw upon her veela powers to try and relax him a bit more. But she knew the effects would only be temporary, and if she let him fall asleep on his own the chances were that he would stay that way. She was drawn from her thoughts as he shifted in her lap after awhile, laying on his back. His solitary emerald eye gazed up at her and she was slightly surprised see open doubt linger there.
"Do you think..." he paused, searching for the right words. " Do you think I'm, you know, doing the right thing?" his voice was unsure, even irresolute.
Fleur was taken back for a moment, but she composed herself. "You mean in regards to 'ze school?"" she asked.
Harry shook his head. "Not just the school, but...everything. Dealing with Voldemort and the war. Pulling out of the Order. Leaving Hogwarts. Everything..."
Fleur wasn't sure what to say, crystal blue orbs searching his. That single moment was all it took to remind Fleur that no matter how amazing Harry was, how brave and courageous he could be, deep down he was still just a simple young man. Someone who only wanted to pick a snowball fight with his friends on a nippy winter afternoon. Someone who wanted to sleep in on a lazy fall morning. Who wanted to play Quidditch on a leisurely spring day, or go swimming on a beautiful summer evening. Who just wanted to be a normal wizard...
...instead of being looked at by an entire world for guidance.
Tears stung the edges of her eyes, but she held them back for his sake. "Yes, 'Arry." she breathed out with as much reassurance she could give. "You 'ave done wonderfully..."
He made no acknowledgment to her praise, instead closing his eye, taking a deep-seated breath.
"What would you do if someone brought Bill back to life? Twisted him. Made him dark. Used him to mock the life you two shared. Then tried to get him to kill you..."
A hundred thoughts rushed behind the veela's eyes and her jaw clenched. Harry could feel her whole body tense and she tore her gaze from him. He watched from his position in her lap as she stared at the moon, almost as if it held the answer. It was a difficult question to ask and Harry felt his worry settle in the pit of his stomach. The last thing he wanted to do was trudge up emotional scars that had yet to fully heal.
She exhaled lightly, the breath steaming from her supple lips. "I would..." she was still staring at the moon, voice thick with emotion. "...I would do every'zing I could to...kill 'ze bastard who would dare dishonor my Bill."
He smiled faintly. "Thank you, Fleur."
His thanks caught her off guard and she looked back down at the young man who had closed his eye and settled down. She stroked his hair for nearly an hour, long after he had finally fallen asleep, pondering his question in her mind. She came to the conclusion as why he would ask her such a thing gradually, mulling it over. She smiled when she had it completely figured out, leaning over and pressing her lips to his scar.
He wanted an honest answer to whether he was doing the right thing. And she hadn't even realized she had given it to him.
"You're welcome, 'Arry." she whispered against his scar.
She pulled him close, focusing her veela magic on him. It would be difficult to centralize it for the next couple of hours, but she was determined. It would be the last time they would have each other's company for who knew how long and Fleur would do everything to give him just a small moment of peace, even if it was from his own dreams.
Later that evening, Harry walked swiftly away from the dark structure of Hogwarts. He had decided long ago that his battle robes would serve no purpose in this adventure. They were cumbersome with what he planned to do. He had opted for more muggle attire, a black jacket and pants. A black under shirt made form some type of muggle Nylo-something material, Dennis had explained it to him but long since forgotten the terms. Gloves and boots. Every piece strengthed with armor and element resistant charms, courtesy of Tonk and Hestia.
past Hagrid's cabin, heading for the Forbidden Forest. Even though the half giant was gone, that small house would always be his to Harry. No one could ever really take his place.
Harry stopped for a moment, taking a few deep breaths, before readjusting his backpack and broom and continuing. It was difficult to awaken, and find that his first true friend was gone, never to return. Deep down though, he couldn't help but be proud. Without Hagrid's help, there would have been no one to beat back as many of the Trolls as he had when Voldemort attacked. It had been Albus' intervention though, that led to the half giant's end.
Now wasn't the time to think about the past. He had to concentrate on the very near future.
He made his way slowly through the outer edges of the Forbidden Forest, keeping a close eye on the shadows around him. After the death of Arogog, the entire species of acromantula was nowhere to be found, and apparently Mosag, Arogog's mate, had disappeared as well after Hagrid's death.
Harry could almost sense them, before he heard the soft trot of hooves on the forest floor.
"Harry Potter..." A deep voice stated when the trotting ceased.
Harry turned, a light smile on his lips. "Hello Firenze..."
The centaur gave him a small smile of his own, but it vanished as he bowed his head in recognition. The two centaurs behind him, one of which Harry recognized as Magorian, and another he didn't know, bowed slightly as well. When Voldemort conducted the Hogwarts Raid, he had destroyed even those that dwelled nearby in the surrounding area. The result had been the death of almost the entire Merpeople populace, the giant squid, and several other creatures. Such as the Centaurs.
Magorian, Bane and many others had tried to defend their forest, as well as part of Hogwarts, to no avail. Bane and several other centaur warriors had been slaughtered by the outlying Orc Hordes. Firenze had by sheer chance, shot the fatal arrow that struck their Ribbald Orc Leader through the throat. The moment after had been the self destruction of the house elves, driving the Orcs away before they could scatter. Seeing his bravery in battle, Magorian had accepted the exiled centaur back into the tribe.
Firenze's influence had been good for his tribe, and many times Harry had left the castle to speak with his ex-Divination teacher, as well as Magorian. At those times, Harry had still not researched enough to make a definite plan, but spoke of how he needed to do something to end the war. His willingness to sacrifice himself had been enough to impress the centaur leader, and it was with Magorian's help that Harry was allowed some knowledge into what lay in the darkest parts of the Forbidden Forest.
"Human Harry. You are going on your journey?" Magorian's deep voice rumbled.
"Yes..." Harry nodded.
The centaur trotted up to him, inspecting him. Harry stood his ground as the centaur invaded his personal space. Nothing impressed them more then bravery.
The centaur leader stared at him for a moment, turning back to Firenze and nodding to some unspoken question. Magorian and the unknown centaur then cantered off, leaving Firenze with his human friend.
"Will you walk with me Harry Potter?" Firenze waved his hand in the direction Harry had been going.
Harry nodded, and soon the centaur fell in step with him. They carried on for awhile before he spoke.
"There is a thick air settling within the forest. The creatures are becoming restless, and the shadows darken." Firenze stated softly.
"Why is that?" Harry asked.
Firenze looked to the night sky, taking in the stars.
"I do not know. None from our tribe know. The sky is not as it was yester-evening. We cannot explain what we saw in the stars and planets. Mars shone bright, more brightly then ever before. But then so did Venus, and that in itself was unusual."
Harry took note of Firenze's suddenly tense tone.
"But we also saw...we saw Pluto..."
Harry stopped dead in his tracks. "What do you mean you saw Pluto? I thought that was impossible..." While he was no master interpreter on the stars as Firenze was, his recent talks with the centaur were enough to give him a small grasp of what they believed in the planets that dwelled in the night sky.
Firenze inclined his head. "We believed so as well. Pluto has never been seen before. But it shone brighter then even Mars or Venus. But it was...was so much darker as well. Almost as if it was taking the light Mars and Venus were giving, and making it it's own."
"What does that mean?" Harry asked apprehensively.
"As I said, we do not know, but there are whispers in our tribe, Harry Potter..." Firenze looked around them, as if he was making sure they weren't being watched. He leaned in close. "There are whispers that Pluto is making a statement. That it will begin to devour Mars' and Venus' light. Then move on to Saturn or Jupiter. Uranus or Neptune. Possibly even Mercury."
Harry's eye searched around them as well, not sure what Firenze was looking for. "What are you talking about...I don't understand..."
"Pluto has always been the darkest, Harry Potter. The coldest, and the farthest," Firenze stated, as if it were obvious. "But it has always been unseen. Unmoving. With it's movement, it can only mean one thing..." Firenze trailed off, suddenly changing topics. "...You are going on a journey so save those you care about, correct?"
Without warning, Firenze pulled away from him, trotting away. Just when Harry thought the centaur was going to disappear into the shadows of the forest, he turned, looking him squarely in the face. His voice was grave, distant and almost ghostly
"Although I do not know for sure, I'm quite positive Pluto is confused. It is taking the love of Venus. The fight of Mars. The knowledge of Mercury. It is devouring what it needs from the others, in order to keep itself together as one. Because it is the smallest. It is the one that has been lost for the longest. At the very edge of oblivion. It is preparing itself, for what we have always known will come."
Harry had no idea what to make of this. Firenze had always been sensible, never this vague with him. Something was happening that was scaring the centaur beyond belief.
"What is that?"
Blue eyes met Harry's and only thanks to the silent air in the forest did he hear him.
"Goodbye Harry Potter. I wish you safety upon your journey."
Without another word, the centaur leapt into the shadows, vanishing into the night.
Harry flew carefully on his broom, shifting through the tight squeeze between the trees. He wasn't sure how far he'd come into the forest, but he'd been on his path for nearly an hour. The moon overhead helped him gauge his course, and it wouldn't be much longer before the first part of his plan came into effect. That was, if any of the secret texts were to be believed.
Firenze's words still played in his mind but he had not the slightest clue how to deal with it. Nothing the centaur said had made much sense, even less thanks to his sudden departure, but there was definitely something going on.
Harry pulled lightly to the right, zooming past a particularly large tree. He could easily pull his broom up and fly amongst the top of the tree line, but he was well beyond the house elf blood wards, and there was no telling what could be watching overhead. It was best to stay hidden within the forest itself.
He had never been this far into the forest. He highly doubted anyone had, especially at the speed he was going on his Firebolt. The scenery itself seemed almost untouched by the hand of humans, thick forestry claiming all parts of the landscape. If not for the nearly full moon and clear sky, he was almost positive he wouldn't have been able to see anything at all.
But this was where his journey began. Going to a place muggles and a few wizards had searched for since the dawn of time, but never locating it. Oh there had been many idea's where this sacred place lay, but each one of them had turned into nothing more then assumptions. In the beginning Harry doubted even he would be able to find it. By sheer dumb luck, Magorian had made a mention of 'some tree myth' deep within the forest.
A little research later, and what do you know. Only a simple week to narrow down a locale that people believed may not have even existed.
Right in Hogwarts' backyard. A place nobody cared to look.
But even Harry was beginning to have his doubts, nearly seventy miles out, and his 'artifact' still had not resonated.
'Maybe I should just head back...'
As if on cue, he felt a soft heat nestled against the side of his leg. His heart leapt into his throat, and he brought his broom to a stop. A trembling hand slid into his pants pocket slowly. He closed his eyes and swallowed the lump that settled in the back of his throat. This was the point of no return.
He pulled the small silver ring out of his pocket, holding it in the palm of his hand.
The ring itself was simple, though almost large enough to be a small bracelet. However, engraved in red, were ancient runes that Harry had written with his own blood. Written from the tip of one of the Philosopher Stone shards he had used to slice his palm. The runes faded in and out of a soft illumination, and the heat began to intensify.
The ring began to pull lightly against his hand, silently leading him. He placed it at the front of his broom, magically attaching the two and allowing the ring to direct him. He charmed his Firebolt to avoid the trees while still following the small device.
It was the first stage of Harry's insane plan. And by far the easiest. He settled comfortably on his broom, allowing his thoughts to wander as his broom flew automatically
When Harry had stumbled across the shards, he hadn't the slightest clue what to do with them. In his darkest moments, he realized he could possibly brew the Elixir Of Life, extending his life. However one needed the entire stone for such an endeavor, and all he had were shards. He began doing research upon the stone itself, trying to find any information as to what else it could be used for. Most of the books he found within the Restricted section had been of no help, citing nothing more then the great use of the Elixir Of Life.
He had all but scrapped his research, almost discarding the whole notion of even using the shards.
Until he stumbled across a small blue book, buried with others inside old, shoved away boxes. It was a documentary about wizarding afterlife, what possibly lay beyond. It spoke lightly of the thoughts of reincarnation. Coming back to life. Things of that nature. While not truly any help of it's own, it was enough to get Harry's gears to turn.
He thought about it for nearly a month, the thought initially abhorrent to him. He could never do it. But what other options did he have?
If Voldemort could bring his friends and family back to life to fight for him, why should Harry not do something similar? He was amazed the thought even occurred to him, but the more he dwelled upon it, the more sense it made.
So he buried himself in the Restricted Section, living off food and potions with minimal sleep, soaking in every text he could. Every black book on rituals. Every white book on spells. Parchments written by the greatest research wizards, and the lowest insane muggle. The amount of stored muggle books the library actually held was quiet a shock.
It was around that time he stumbled across a thin red journal, written by someone who obviously did not have nurturing parents in his life. He had almost tossed the book aside, when the very next page held the key to unlocking Pandora's Box.
'And there I stood, before her grave. My constant failed experiments had led me to this point, but I realized it was all worth it. Before, I believed the soul to be it's own self, something which I could pull forth and shove back into her body. As my most recent subject found, that was not the case. Too long we have believed the soul is the vessel, and the body the tool. How wrong we are. It is the body that is the vessel, and the soul the tool. Having come to this conclusion, I know that the body can be brought back into the living so long as you use the soul. Like a hammer, used to reconstruct that which is broken. To use the soul like a hammer, to reconstruct the body...'
The writing had then been broken off into some asinine jabber that made Harry cringe. But it had been enough.
He had narrowed his research, focusing on soul resurrection rituals, before he realized the answer was in front of him the entire time. In the beginning, especially from what Albus had told him all those years ago, the belief was that there was only one way of doing what he was planning.
But with the Shards, there was an entirely new way to do it. So long as one thought a little on the mentally unstable side.
So he began to look into the warriors he wanted and in the initial stages of his research he looked into some of the greatest fighters and magical beings ever known. The legendary King Arthur. The partial god Gilgamesh. Hercules the God Child. Invincible Achilles. The Black Knight Sarevok. Vampire King Dracula. The Blood Archer Shirou Emiya. Even the great Merlin himself.
Harry's train of thought was broken for a moment as the runes began to glow a bit brighter. The ring in front of his broom was actually the epitome of the initial flaws his ritual would have had.
One of the many problems that had stopped his plan cold.
The ability to control those he resurrected.
That was the one of the major setbacks in the ritual. Even if he brought them back to life, that didn't grant him total control over them, whether they were willing to help or not. Because of this, the ritual had to be broken into two parts.
He had wracked his brain at the time, trying to find some way to bring those he brought back under his command. Then it clicked. The only beings he'd ever truly seen enslaved were Dobby and other house elves. Collars. Collars that bound their magic to their masters. Made sure they did their masters bidding.
So Harry had set to creating his own type of collar. He had used similar components that were used in his artificial arm. Mithril and silver were well received magical conduits and would have the greatest capabilities. After the collars had been fashioned he sliced his palm with one shard of the Stone, using the blood at the tip to inscribe the ancient runes. The moment the tip left the surface of the collars, it hissed and smoked, sinking slightly into the metal, permanently engraving the intricate patterns. He then shrunk them and stored them away for safekeeping, and if the ritual was any kind fo success, the collars would be indestructible.
Harry's broom hitched up slightly, flying harmlessly over a fallen tree.
One of the runes was a powerful location spell Harry had modified, similar to removing a memory for a Pensieve. During it's inscription, the writer had to focus solely on a destination from memory, whether he had been there or not, and nothing else. If that location existed, then the ring would lead you to it whenever you came within the spells range.
Harry could still feel the goosebumps upon his arms, despite the warming charm on his body protecting him from the chill. He had not the slightest idea where the ring was leading him, and even less knowledge about what he would encounter once he got there. There were so many unknowns and not enough guarantees.
The next worst unknown was their magic. That was another purpose behind the collars.
Locking whatever height he could bring their magical power too.
One of the deeper problems Harry encountered with his ritual was the possibility of magical degeneration. When something dies or doesn't exist here, magical being or wizard, it's magical core dies slowly thereafter. In many of the texts he aquired some wizards and witches who had extremely close brushes with death lost some magical power. Sometimes even leaving them as squibs.
Harry had no idea how powerful these women were but if his research was adequate, they were his best options. But pulling them from wherever they were and reanimating their bodies in this realm would most likely cut their abilities, whether they retained the knowledge of them or not. He couldn't use them if their magic wasn't on par with what he needed, and his only option was to do the one single action that had more magic behind it then any other.
The act of sex. Pure and simple.
Magic and sex went hand in hand with each other. At no other time was magic so intimately woven with a person's body then when they were in the midst of lovemaking. Ravishing one another's beings. Hormones and pheromones were at their peaks, stable emotions were submissive, the mind was shut down other then one overwhelming pleasure, and the body ran on absolute lust and instinct.
Magic was based upon emotion, strong ones at that. And with sex, every avenue of emotion was open for magic to run its course. It was not uncommon for wizarding lovers to have many acts of uncontrolled or even unintentional magic. Candle's bursting. Glass breaking. Sometimes even causing some things inside a room to float. Lust and love were powerful, and with both of those emotions dominating a persons mind, their magic could come about to it's absolute peak, completely free from the restrictions of rational thought. Even more so during one's climax.
And while he was sure Roger Davies wouldn't mind being manhandled by brutish Hercules, Harry had decided long ago that his arsehole would only have one purpose in this life. None of which would be used with the term 'ram-rod'.
So plans had changed, and Harry realized that his only course would have to be women of the same caliber as his original list.
There had been more then enough choices at the time, and he had written down every noteworthy name he could think of and find research upon; his first female list had been nothing short of staggering.
Two of Hogwarts' very own founders, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff. Athena, goddess of wisdom and war. The Amazon warrior queen, Hippolyta. The faithful Joan Of Arc. The strongest wielder of the fabled Witchblade, Sara Pezzini. The vengeful Lady Kriemhilde. Dark sorceress Circe. Hishana, Shade Rider of the Valkyries. Caska, commander of the Dark Ages mercenary group, Band Of The Hawk. The dead Queen of the Merpeople, Salathia. Dracula's Vampire Countess, Carmilla. The wife of Adam, Eve. As well as so many more. Several feet of parchment that comprised over nearly three hundred names from every magical and muggle legend and myth. A list that took a week to create, and two to dissolve into the final seven who would be his best chances.
His process of elimination was simple in the beginning. Not enough information on the woman he was researching. Astonishingly vague locations of where they had been at either some point in their life, or at the end of it. A definite problem as time was of the essence.
As the names deteriorated from his parchment, the selection became much harder. It began to boil down to their origins. Their sheer magical power. The magic that they specialized in and used. And which ones he could access the quickest.
Harry ducked his head as a large, low lying branch came into view. The runes were glowing much brighter now, and the broom was beginning to slow. It wouldn't be much longer. That thought made Harry shiver again.
The first and the second women were the most unknown that Harry would pursue. Nothing written about them but mere fiction and faith. So many conflicting stories, far too many differing views upon them. But they were the best, the strongest, and by far the most illogical choice. Which was exactly what he needed.
Suddenly his broom broke through the dense expanse of trees, coming into a small clearing in the otherwise overgrown forestry. And for the first time, since an age unknown, a mortal human eye beheld a white, barely illuminated tree.
It's body looked like large, twisted roots that wrapped around each other like snakes coiling. It's leaves were like that of a willow, a soft cream that stood in a similar color state to it's soft, ivory trunk. The sky above was visible, and the moonlight reflected off of it's surface like sparkles upon water. Small, light wisps of light misted from the entire entity, licking and lapping at the air. Harry sat there, floating on his broom, completely entranced by the sight before him.
The ring at the front of Harry's broom began to vibrate intensely, and the Boy-Who-Lived reached over, unlocking it magically. He pressed a series of the red, glowing patterns, and the bracelet instantly dimmed, ceasing it's shaking.
Harry dismounted his broom, eyes still drinking in the awe inspiring sight of the tree before him. He pulled off his backpack, placing it next to the outlying tree line, and draping his Invisibility cloak over it. He had no idea what he was going to encounter, and having his pack with him would only be cumbersome.
A short silver sword Charlie had given him a few months ago was quickly strapped to his back, and he shrunk his broom to fit inside of his pocket.
He could almost taste the aura of the 'willow' on his lips as he turned to it. Whatever it was radiating, he could feel it cascade across his skin like a soft breeze, and he had to resist the urge to walk closer. He circled it lightly, green eye darting about it, silently searching. He could feel a small drop of sweat trickle down the side of his jaw, and his artificial fist clenched and unclenched in a soft, rhythmic fashion.
This was it. This was the entrance.
It had only clicked when Magorian had made that mention those months back, the scriptures Harry had been researching finally making sense. It was the reason no being had even been able to truly find such a place, and why some doubted it ever existed. Because Eden never actually existed in this world.
It existed outside of it. As did the Citadel.
Where his second awaited.
Harry refocused, trying to clear his mind. Thoughts concerning that one would come after this one was found.
He shrunk the collar to the size of a normal ring, pulling a soft silver chain from his pocket. He slipped the ring upon it and clasped it around his neck. It would have to be quickly accessible.
He checked the small pouch on his belt that held the only Shard he had brought with him, the others securely locked away in Gringotts. When he was positive everything was in order, he turned his attention back to the tree before him, taking a deep breath and taking tentative steps towards it.
Amazingly, the feelings did not deepen as he stepped closer. He looked up into the shimmering branches that grew out of the trunk, taking it in.
"So...now what?" he asked no one in particular.
There was a soft rustle, and a distinct thump only a few feet to his left. Harry's hand shot to his shoulder, grasping the sword's handle, spinning on pure instinct alone. His green eye studied the open air ruthlessly, looking for any signs of movement to accompany the noise. That's when he noticed something amongst the grass, something that hadn't been there moments before. He untensed slightly, hand uncurling slowly from the sword.
He took a few steps forward, leaning down, and lifting the object into the moonlight. He turned it back and forth in his hand, inspecting it.
A small red apple that shined brightly in the lunar glow.
"What the hell?"
Disbelief marred his face and he looked back up at the tree before him. There were no other apples anywhere amongst the leaves and branches.
Without warning, a sudden urge to bite into the fruit filtered into his mind. Harry had no idea what was happening, so he naturally resisted, pulling up his Occlumency. It was to no avail though as the emotion began to get stronger, and in the deep recess of his mind, he could swear he heard light hissing. Something telling him to enjoy the red fruit he held in his hand. To do something he wasn't supposed to do.
The hand holding the apple began to shake lightly, sweat beading on his forehead. The hissing was becoming more pronounced, and Harry threw up his Occlumens shields so hard that it felt like two bricks were crushed against the sides of his head. He tried to focus, tried to drop the red fruit from his grasp, but every time his fingers loosened they would only clench back up.
Before he could stop himself the apple was brought to his lips. His jaw opened of it's own will, trembling as it took the first bite. One bite led to two, which led to three, then four. It wasn't long before the entire apple was eaten, Harry swallowing the last bit. Harry had no idea why his body was acting the way it was, fighting the urge on pure instinct. The second the pulp plummeted into his stomach the hissing stopped, and his shaking ceased.
Harry immediately threw away the core disgustedly, backpedaling from the shimmering tree. He took a few deep breaths, the overwhelming urges disappearing the moment the core left his hand.
He never had a chance to get his bearings before his world suddenly exploded from behind his eye. It felt as if Hagrid had just smashed a Quaffle against the back of his head and Harry reeled. His vision swam, colors meshing in his eyesight like paint running together in a grotesque color display. His body felt weak, and he slumped to his knees. He groaned, placing his artificial hand against the ground to steady himself as he doubled over. Blackness crept into the edge of his vision, and his heart began to slam against his chest.
Somewhere off in the distance Harry could hear creaking and scratching, like old boards being walked upon, and the sound of sandpaper against wood. But his mind couldn't fixate upon the sounds as he fell to his side. It felt like the heat in his body had suddenly escaped through every pore, and he shivered, curling around himself in an desperate instinctual move to stay warm. More creaking was heard as well as the rustle of leaves above him.
The glowing leaves fell around him like snow, and he suddenly felt something begin to wrap around his torso, something else grasping one of his legs.
He could barely make out a tree root enveloping his arm before darkness consumed his mind.
He could feel it in his mind.
Like a mamba gliding across the water. Flawless. No wakes from it's precise movements.
But Harry knew it was there, and he focused upon it.
It was aware of him also, and as soon as his shield descended upon it, it moved again, this time slithering twice as fast. He concentrated again, the thought of two walls encompassing it. Blocking it from either direction.
But it moved even faster, sliding effortlessly under the first wall before it could drop.
Harry grit his teeth, feeling it slide across the second barrier he had erected. While it was stopped for a moment, he could feel it prod lightly, looking for an opening.
It had it! Again, before he could plug the holes, it had wiggled through and was gliding, zipping across as if once again on water.
It was getting closer to its goal, and Harry began to panic. He admonished himself mentally as his distress almost allowing it to slide right past his second to last defense. This time, he imagined a twister, abandoning the simple edge of trying to stop it. If it had come this far Harry needed to use what resources he had to repel it.
It was lost momentarily in the Boy-Who-Lived's mental storm, writhing around as the emotionless winds tore it away from it's destination.
But keeping those winds up took more effort then Harry could realize initially, and it burst free, diving forward.
The seamless movements were disregarded as it came closer to it's goal. Now it was barreling forth, planing on slamming into the last of Harry's defense with ruthless abandon.
Harry met it head on, his final barrier lined with mentally damaging spikes, just waiting for it to ram into one. But Harry didn't concentrate hard enough, didn't place more spines. And soon it was crashing between two of the spikes in his mental wall. Harry hissed in irritation as it snatched up what he had been so desperate to hide from it.
'So...does Molly know that you and her daughter have been meeting secretly in the living room at night?'
Harry groaned, burying his head in hands at Aberforth's question.
'No, she doesn't, and I would really appreciate if you wouldn't tell her I'm snogging Ginny all over the couch.' he stated dejectedly.
Aberforth studied the young man before him, nodding slowly.
'As you seem to becoming better with your Occlumency, I'll reward you by keeping my lips sealed.'
Harry let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, looking up at Aberforth's well placed smirk. The older wizard stood slowly, walking over to the coffee pot sitting atop the stove in the Burrow. Most of the Weasley children were in Hogsmeade , Arthur was at work, and Molly was busy cleaning the upstairs. Bill and Fleur would be returning from their honeymoon later that evening and the Weasley matriarch was in a cleaning fueled mentality.
Aberforth placed a mug in front of Harry, and the young wizard nodded a thank you.
'You did much better today then you did last week.' the aged wizard stated. 'Your biggest problem is your fright when someone gets too far into your mind. You panic, and begin to expel needless energy trying to force the person out.'
Harry shook his head, taking a sip from his cup. 'I can't help it. Whenever someone gets that far into my head I just start throwing everything I can at you.'
Aberforth nodded, as if he had heard such a statement before. 'Perhaps you are just trying too much at once Harry. Occlumency, as I'm sure you know, is about protecting your mind. But you are worrying about the smaller things too much. Trying to protect everything at once without the proper skill. So when an Legilimens passes through and sees even the slightest memory, you panic, and begin barraging something that will most likely move before you get a chance to block it. Prioritize. Begin protecting the most important things, what you absolutely don't want people to see. Start small, focusing on defending only those specific parts of your mind, and let the rest be cannon fodder. As your training continues, begin expanding your defenses to protect the next most important part of your mind. Then so on.'
Harry thought about it for a moment, sifting through the elder wizards advice. He took another sip of his coffee.
'Although I'm not entirely sure you should just put anything out there as a meat shield. I'm sure young Ginny wouldn't like to know how her boyfriend accidentally walked in on Miss Lovegood naked in the shower.'
Black brew was quickly expelled from Harry's mouth as shock took over. His cheeks burned, and he coughed, pounding a fist against his chest. Aberforth threw his head back, and for the first time, Harry heard the older wizard laugh out loud.
Harry grunted as he regained consciousness. He sat up slowly, pressing his palm against his forehead.
He wasn't entirely sure why that memory made itself known during his blackout, but he could clearly remember the embarrassment stemming from Aberforth's knowledge of that incident. Which only made things worse the few days after it happened, whenever he and Luna would blush in each others presence. Each time he felt his cheeks go scarlet whenever they were in the same room, he would glance at the aged wizard, and he could read the absolute amusement behind his eyes, despite his face holding nothing more then neutrality.
Harry forced himself to his feet, opening his eye and blinking it blearily. Everything was hazed over, Marietta's vision spell having been dispelled for whatever reason. Harry muttered the incantation, pointing a gloved, metallic finger at his eye. In the back of his mind he noted the small amount of extra power he had to put into the casting. He felt the spell take hold, a kind of phantom feeling washing over it like a film, and everything came into view.
And for a moment, he wished it hadn't.
The Forbidden Forest, where he was quite sure he passed out, was gone.
Replaced by a perfectly mirrored forest the likes of which he had never seen.
While not holding nearly the dense expanse of trees the Forbidden Forest had, there were still many nonetheless. The grass was a light reddish brown, almost bordering on muddy pink. Even the trees were similar in style, but these came with disgusting ebony trunks, a consistency looking like smashed charcoals. Leaves hung from them with a color scheme of fall. Dark reds, thick browns, shaded yellows. But the leaves themselves looked like serrated blades, shredded at the edges as if willing to cut any who dared pick at them. The air was heavy with a smell akin to sulfur. It's acrid scent almost made Harry gag.
The sky looked as if ichorous fire burned above the seemingly constant overcast. The clouds were tinged with red and orange, and every now and then an explosion would occur, spewing molten rock and lava through the cloud cover and to the ground several hundred stories below. Each time it did this, the sound was like a bomb, played in surround sound as it happened all across the land.
The Boy-Who-Lived was completely unprepared for the sight of it all, and he almost fell back from the sudden understanding that washed over him.
This dark, horrid place was exactly where he had to be.
This was Eden.
This place, which was once written to have been a place of unfathomable beauty, was now the land of demons.
Which housed the fabled Succubi.
And where their Empress lay in rested limbo.
Harry turned, completely surprised to see the exact same tree that had been in the Forbidden Forest. It's white trunk and shimmering leaves leaving it like the traditional odd black sheep amongst the surrounding white ones. It's luster didn't seem lost in the least amongst the burning sky and dark landscape, and if Harry 's imagination served him well, it seemed even brighter then before. Almost as if in laughter. Harry's eye narrowed.
"Thanks a lot..." he said sarcastically with a snort.
While he needed to be here he was almost sure that having your mind warped to eat some god forsaken fruit that knocks you out and causes you to wake up on another realm, which was most likely hostile, was something that was not funny in the least. Before he could think more on the matter the ring around his neck began to hum softly.
The secondary location rune was activating. One he had created to cast once the primary locater had done it's job.
The ring began to float lightly in a direction facing Harry's right. He smiled, and despite the possible danger of the situation, he couldn't help but be somewhat relieved inside. If the collar was working this far, then maybe his chances of success were better then he thought
'Heh, Hermione wasn't the only one who could manipulate charm work..." he thought with a smile.
His soft smile suddenly dropped, eye creasing.
'I meant...Granger...' he corrected. All of his movements stopped and for a moment, he was lost to himself.
And this place, even though he had never been here before, was just a harsh reminder of why he was doing what he was. He shook his head, once again clearing his thoughts.
Harry pulled his shrunken broom from his pocket, resizing it before taking flight. He would need to get over these trees and follow the direction his ring was pointing him in.
However, just as his broom shot past the treetops, it staggered, almost as if it's flight spells were failing. Harry swore out loud as the broom went into a slight nose dive back into the forestry. He pulled hard, the sweeper leveling out just a couple meters from the ground. The Chosen One looked at his broom closely, casting a small diagnostics spell on his Firebolt's charms, making sure they weren't deteriorating. Once again he took note of the extra effort put into the spell.
He pulled up a second time, this time prepared as the broom once again failed to fly past the treetops. Harry groaned as he leveled out. The extra effort in casting. His Firebolt weakening enough to be kept from completely flying. It could really only mean one thing.
Whatever was going on in this place, it was dampening his magic, as well as the charms cast upon his broom.
"Why the hell can't anything be easy?" he mumbled.
His face took on a form of determination, pulling his broom up slightly, and shooting off through the trees. There would be time to vent his frustrations later, but for the time being, he still had a mission to accomplish.
It had been almost the same amount of time to break through the forestry as it had taken to reach that tree back in the Forbidden Forest. Halfway through he had begun to fly alongside a sizable stream, it's waters cloudy and dark. The ring changed directions at the time, almost keeping him perpendicular to the small river. From what Harry could tell, this place was almost a geographical match to the land surrounding Hogwarts.
That was until not even a moment past the forest, the ground dropped off into a massive cliff side.
Harry slowed his broom, studying the situation before him. He took a look a long look to his right and left, dismayed to find that the cliff edge seemed to extend in both directions as far as the eye could see. Even the forest line stayed the same in both directions. It was surreal, like something out of that muggle show Dudley used to watch. Twilight Show. Limelight Zone. He couldn't really remember.
The sky continued to burn overhead, the thunderous detonations still sometimes causing Harry to flinch. He dismounted his broom, setting it carefully on the ground and walking to the edge. He almost staggered at the sight before him. The ground below had to be thousands of feet from the edge, the stream falling into a large waterfall. There was a large pool at the base of the waterfall, which led into an even bigger river then the one Harry had been following.
His eyesight traveled the length of the river below, taking in the next large area of red forest. This forest extended to his left and right as well, disappearing off into the horizon. Past it however, he could make out was seemed to be some type of barren plain. And there, far off in the distance, was a heavy grey fog.
Harry cast Padma's zooming spell on his vision, the line of his sight suddenly tunneling upon his target. The fog seemed to be swirling slowly around something. Something that was glowing much in the same manner as the tree that brought him here.
Even though he couldn't see it, he knew that was it.
It was the other tree. Located in the Garden.
It's where she was, and where he had to be. Now if he could just get off this blasted cliff. With his broom acting the way it was it would be suicide to go over the edge, free fall, and try and to rear it up before he hit the ground. He would have to Apparate.
He canceled the zoom spell as he walked back for his broom. He made his way back to the edge after snatching it up, shrinking it and placing it in his pocket, before surveying the ground below and memorizing where he wanted to go. He closed his eye, taking a deep breath and concentrating on remembering that exact spot.
Nothing happened. Harry gnashed his teeth in frustration. Whatever was affecting his magic was also keeping him from Apparating.
Sudden splashing and churning caused Harry to turn towards the stream edge nearest the forest. The dark water bubbled as if it was boiling, steam and mist rising from the top. It splashed onto the banks on both sides. Harry reached for his sword as it steadily increased in potency, crashing about as if giants were playing Quidditch underneath. Almost as soon as it started, however, it stopped, the waters becoming calm and still again.
Before Harry could react, a dozen pale bodies crashed through the surface, leaping several meters into the air. They landed on their feet, water raining down around them as they landed roughly.
Stark white hair graced each one of their heads, jagged and tousled about much like Harry's. Red tribal tattoo's adorned their chests like battle marks. Eyes encompassing nothing but thick blackness and even without pupils, Harry could feel them staring at him hatefully. Lips were drawn back in a sneer, revealing sharp fangs that were accompanied by reverberated growling. Sinewy muscle lined their male forms, tensing repeatedly as they stalked around him with panther like grace. Black, bone-like claws sat where fingers should have been, clicking and clacking in a vile surround sound as several tapped them together repeatedly. Small, almost comical, ebony feathered wings protruded upwards from their shoulder blades.
It took a moment for the Boy-Who-Lived to recognize the creature's which now had him effectively circled to the cliff, his research making their identities known.
They were moving before Harry had a chance to free his sword from his sheath, closing in at an unnatural speed. Harry backpedaled as fast as he could, forcing his magic to begin working with his body.
The first Incubus snarled, leaping at Harry from the side. He sidestepped, bringing his fist as hard as he could across the back of it's neck. It gave a satisfying snap, and the creature fell into a boneless heap. A black claw grazed the side of his arm as he moved again, a Reductor curse at his lips. It crashed into the seconds midsection, tearing apart flesh and muscle. It howled in agony as it was lifted from the spell, landing haphazardly amongst another small group of them.
Three more descended upon him, and Harry waved his mithril arm wide a powerful, elongated cutting curse being born. It shot diagonally, slicing through one's abdomen, another's chest, and the thirds neck. Harry sprung forward as their bodies bodies separated, crashing through the red haze it created. Silver steel hummed in a beautiful melody as Harry pulled the sword from it's sheath. His feet slid to stop, swinging the weapon from it's removed position on one fluid movement.
Three Incubi dodged expertly, the fourth being caught squarely in the side. The blade stopped as it ground into it's ribcage and Harry roared forward with the movement, his other hand assisting the one already on the handle. The Incubus' body couldn't hold, screaming in pain as Harry's sword eviscerated it's body. Harry was spinning to the side even before the two halves hit the ground, dodging black talons that were trying to rip him limb from limb.
More Incubi closed in and it wasn't long before Harry was piveting as fast as he could, trying desperately to put some distance between himself and his assailants. A closed claw broke through his defense, slamming him in the stomach. Harry's artificial hand closed around the fist quickly, crushing with all it's strength. Blood splashed through as Harry's mithril fingers caused it to collapse on itself. He kept a firm grip on it, slashing forward with his sword. All of the creature's leapt backwards, just as Harry expected them too. All except for the one he still had a hold of. The steel blade plowed through it's head mercilessly, body twitching violently as Harry let it drop.
Another closed talon caught Harry in the face, the strike rattling his teeth. A body slammed itself into his stomach, wrapping it's arms around his waist. The Incubus hauled him up slightly, running full speed towards the cliff edge. Harry's eye glanced back, watching the edge rush towards them. He dug his feet in, grunting as the creature growled back, pushing even harder. Another rushed forward and without thinking, Harry threw his shimmering blade forward as hard as he could before it could assist the only holding him. The blade tip pierced it's chest, the momentum slamming the Incubus into the ground, pinning it with a disgusting splatter.
Harry reached down quickly, wrapping his artificial arm around the pale creature's head, twisting violently. A grinding crack was his response, along with the body suddenly going limp. Harry wasted no time in wrapping his arms around it and heaving it over the edge with all his strength.
Harry's hand was already unclasping one of the small, charmed phials as he turned back to the Incubi that were charging towards him. A quick flick and the glass was airborne. His hand shot out, releasing a built up explosion curse as he dove to the side. The glass shattered, the acidic potion spewing out in a concentrated mist and spray. Several of the Incubi ran right into it's path, screaming and scratching at their bodies as the green substance ate at their skin. Harry righted himself, opening both hands and firing off an Incendio spell. The green mist sparked, acting as a makeshift flamethrower. The flames burned bright, washing over the Incubi that were clawing at themselves, igniting their skin and burning them alive.
A pair of pale arms wrapped around Harry's neck from behind, lifting him slightly from the ground. Clawed fists were suddenly slamming into his chest and abdomen at an alarming rate. Harry grunted with each impact, growling as his anger began to wash over him. His hand shot back in a fraction of a second, the Diffindo curse already being launched as his palm connected solidly with the Incubus' nose that was holding him. It's head split vertically at the mouth, Harry fighting free before blood and brains could splash over him.
Harry slammed his fist into the ground, a bright orange spell flashing into existence. A rippling, semi-translucent wave arose, flowing forward like a flood and throwing all of the advancing Incubi away from him. The spell was a refurbished shock wave spell construction wizards used for clearing rubble; one that Harry, Cho and Tracey had redesigned for combat purposes.
The Incubi were lifted off their feet, thrown bodily backwards from the unseen force. Harry blurred forward, snatching the last unlucky one by the hair. He slammed a palm into the creature's abdomen, screaming one of the only spells that couldn't be cast silently.
The sword that was still embedded in the now dead demon lurched forward, freeing from it's bloody and deceased confines. It crashed into the restrained Incubus' back, handle first. The blunt end tore it's way through the creature's body as it gurgled and coughed, the pommel penetrating it's back and gushing through it's stomach. Harry grabbed the blood soaked handle, pulling it all the way through
He released it's hair, letting the writhing body fall to the ground. Something suddenly swept his feet out from under him, and the young wizard had no time to contemplate what hit him. The moment his back hit the ground, pale bodies were diving at him from every direction. He rolled backwards, using his sword like a pole vault and throwing himself out of harm's way.
His feet hit the edge of the cliff and Harry staggered, almost losing his footing and tumbling over. He yelped out as more bodies lurched at him, dodging as best one could with barely any room to move. Claws tore at him, and a few barreled over the side as they missed their mark, screaming as they fell to the depths below.
One of then Incubi extended itself to far, and Harry plunged his artificial hand into it's back, 'feeling' his cold metal fingers wrap around it's vertabre. He yelled out, yanking with all his might, ripping the demon's spine from it's body with a sound that did the gruesome act little justice. It's skull was still attached and without even thinking Harry swung the dripping column and cranium around like a flail. One Incubus had it's legs swept out from under it's body, another thrown down from a shot to the chest. One dove at him, claws scratching at his neck, and Harry whipped his makeshift weapon around again, shattering the still red skull against the pale Incubus' head. Harry's eye widened as the Incubus flew over the edge of the cliff
Along with the snapped necklace that held his ritual collar, flying off in mid-air.
Harry moved on absolute instinct, slamming one foot into the ground and pushing off as hard as he could. His body felt suspended in water as he jumped, as if time itself had drifted slower, trying to make him fully understand his unthought action. His body was weightless as it left the cliff edge, hand outstretched to the glittering silver ring. It passed through his fingers, almost in mockery of his failure to catch it, before beginning it's terrifying descent to the ground thousands of feet below.
As did Harry himself.
Time seemed to snap violently from slow motion to fastfoward, Harry's body plummeting terribly. The Boy-Who-Lived grit his teeth, his vision shaking brutally as the wind raced past him, his clothes flapping back. Gusts of air howled in his ears, and he felt it pulling against his arms, his legs and his face. His hand held his sword in a death grip, the wind threatening to tear the weapon from his hand at the murderous velocity at which he free-fell
He could barely make out the Incubus' body that had torn the ring from his neck, it's body skimming into the cliff side as it plunged. A good distance ahead of him, he could make out the shining metal of the ring. For reasons even Harry couldn't explain, he took a difficult glance behind himself towards the now rapidly disappearing cliff top. To his horror, several pale bodies flew over the edge, diving over the steep cliff like professional divers. The sky overhead let loose another insane explosion off in the distance.
The race was on.
Harry's hand shook as it tried desperately to put his sword back in it's sheath. He was barely successful, nearly losing sight of the ring. Once the weapon was secure, he pressed his arms tightly against his sides, clutching his legs together, cutting through the air like a needle. His body shook as the winds fought against him, causing gravity to pull him even harder. The ring drew closer, and Harry held out a trembling hand.
Harry couldn't finish his screaming cast as something slammed into his side, almost knocking the breath out of him. Harry pushed hard against the Incubus that claw dangerously at him, shocked that one reached him so fast. But Harry knew there was no time to wonder, as it already happened, and he had to focus on the now.
The demon screeched at him, and Harry snatched the thing by it's arm, twisting so both his feet were against it's chest. He pushed off, causing him to shoot down even faster, and throwing it against the jagged cliff wall. It's body blasted into it, shredded from the speed of their fall against the sharp rocks.
Harry was now facing the demons above him, his hair whipping around on the top of his head, watching as two of the Incubi propelled themselves off their companions. Harry reared his hands up as they closed in, roaring against the wind and firing off as many explosion curses as he could. Only a single curse impacted one of the barreling Incubi, it's frame almost fully halting in it's decline towards Harry, being violently tossed aside.
The Boy-Who-Lived barely had enough time to brace himself before the second Incubus slammed bodily into him, causing both demon and wizard to hurl even faster in their breakneck fall, tumbling dangerously. Harry planted his forearm against the demon's neck as it's fangs snapped angrily at his throat, his other hand doing all it could to deflect it's razor black talons. Harry clenched his jaw, both hands suddenly wrapping around the Incubus' throat. A burst of instinct made Harry curl up around the creature, using their turbulent state to do a continuous midair somersault around the now struggling demon. It's neck gave nastily, but Harry continued to hold, the limp creature almost blurring as Harry spun around faster and faster.
He released it with a cry, throwing it back towards the remaining Incubi like a bullet, the body completely defying gravity with the force of it's delivery. It's form crashed into the leftover group, who were completely unprepared for the action. Their bodies splattered into the cliff side, entirely decimated.
Harry turned his body back around, eye widening as he realized just how fast the ground was beginning to rush up. He searched frantically through the air, almost instantly picking up the glittering ring collar.
"Accio necklace!" He screamed above the raging winds.
The silver jewelry immediately halted it's fall, flying towards Harry's outstretched hand. It struggled against the intense pull, but soon Harry's artificial fingers curled around it tightly. He took another fugitive glance towards the ground below, his fear jumping up in his throat at the distance in which he still had. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he probably had a minute left. Maybe less. His hand shakily reached into his pocket to fish out his broom. He couldn't Apparate, so his Firebolt was his only hope.
The waterfall that fell alongside Harry suddenly detonated in a mass of cloudy water a ways below him.. The force of the water threw him back , but he righted himself quickly, opening his eye as he did so. Only to have it go as wide as possible in sheer horror.
Dozens upon dozens of Incubi emerged from the waterfall, almost completely blocking Harry's view of the ground below. They flew upwards and before Harry could cast any spells they were upon him. Black claws snatched at him from every direction, grabbings his arms and legs. Snagging a hold of his pants and jacket. Arms wrapped around his torso and knees, another slinking around his throat. His vision was blocked as he thrashed about, trying valiantly to release their hold. More arms wrapped around him, and he could feel more claws dig into his skin. Roaring, snarling and growling reached his ears above the high winds.
A terrified green eye opened and through the expanse of pale bodies, he could see a small opening. The ground was mere seconds away. They were going to crush him against it.
A booming crack assaulted his eardrums. It was like the sound of old time canon's going off.
And one second before Harry would have been smashed in the ground by a mob of snarling demons, the large pile of bodies blastedevery direction.
The edges of blackness slowly crept from the sides of his vision, and he blinked rapidly. His ears were ringing and his frame trembled from the sudden loss of adrenaline. He was on his back in Eden's muddy pink grass, spread eagle, staring up at the otherworldly sky.
He lifted up his arm, uncurling his fingers from around the still intact ritual collar, broken necklace and all. He mentally cursed himself, letting his insticts overide rational thought in the heat of the moment. A simple Accio spell would have made a world of difference.
He rolled over with a grunt, pushing off from his hands and knees. He stood slowly, eye raking around, trying to determine what happened. Off in the distance he could clearly see the cliff, it's high rise far above the tree line he was standing next to. He had no idea how he came this far out, but he wasn't about to curse what could possibly be good luck. There weren't anymore Incubi, and he wasn't falling, so it was definitely good fortune to him so far.
He still couldn't understand what had happened that last second, but he was fairly certain he blacked out for a brief moment. It was when he turned around, however, that his shock clicked everything into place.
Before him, almost like an infinite wall, was the swirling fog he had observed back up on the cliff. It was dense, moving ever so slowly with an unfelt breeze. It blocked his vision entirely, giving no hints as to what lay beyond it's churning depths.
Harry let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, pressing a hand to his forehead. Somehow, in the heat of the moment, he had been able to Apparate all the way from the cliff side to the small clearing right before the smoking vapors.
'I'm going to be real happy when I'm out of this hellhole...' he thought tiredly.
He mended the necklace without a second thought, adding a durability charm as a precaution, before slipping it back on. He checked himself, mentally preparing for anything he might encounter in the other side. He inhaled deeply, taking his first step in. Then another.
It wasn't long before his visage disappeared in the rolling fogs.
Harry wasn't sure how long his feet had trudged on, eyesight entirely blocked by the heavy mist that surrounded his body, but it had to have been well over an hour. The air was cold and stale, but held none of the sulfuric scent that seemed to permeate the rest of the land. The feeling truly was no different then walking in the thick morning fogs at Hogwarts, but there was something else in the air. A heavy feeling that settled in his stomach. His mithril arm seemed a bit heavier then normal, making Harry down one of the restorative potions on his belt for fear of becoming overly fatigued. There were no trees or grass.. Just something that seemed to be barren dirt as he walked.
The Boy-Who-Lived wasn't even sure whether he was walking in a straight line anymore. All he knew is that the collar continued to float forward slightly, and he followed it's direction.
Just when he was almost certain that he would need to sit and take a break, his body broke through the fog, stepping easily out into the open air.
The sight before him was enough to take his breath away.
It was like being in the eye of a stationary hurricane, standing in open air as the fogs continued to roll around what seemed to be a near mile radius. Harry looked up, staring in awe at the large circular overhead that was entirely clear, giving him an unobstructed view of the fiery overcast above. It was amazing in it's nightmarish glory, an event in nature that couldn't be described with simple words.
There was grass on the ground again, a single tree here and there, but it was the dark, almost black watered lake before him that captured his attention. It's calm inkish waters slowly washing onto the rough beach that surround every edge of it. And there in the middle, maybe a quarter of a mile out, was a small island.
With a glowing tree, just like the one that brought him here.
Harry clenched at his chest lightly, grimacing. The heavy feelings he had in the fogs seemed amplified here, almost causing him physical weakness. He pulled out another restorative potion, tipping it back and allowing it's cool taste to sooth his body. It had the desired effect, and he threw the empty phial away.
He slowly walked up to the water, letting it wash over his black boots and the edges of his pants that hung over his footwear softly. His clothes, along with the protective armor enchantments, held resistant element charms as well. Fire, water, electricity, all courtesy of Su and Demelza. He had been prepared to slip out his broom and take flight but the sudden feel of wetness soaking his pants caused him to start.
He looked down, the liquid soaking the bottom of his pants with each successive wave. That's when he took a good look at the water for the first time, it's darkness lightened upon seeing it up close. He knelt down, scooping his hand through it and brining it up to his face. It was amazingly warm, smelling strongly of metal, possibly copper.
Disgust set in when he finally realized what the lake was comprised of, it's depth giving the normally red liquid a subtle blackness.
Anymore thought on the matter was halted the moment Harry felt himself almost collapse. His mithril arm had suddenly become heavy, like a sack of potatoes attached to the side of his body, feeling the lightweight charms beginning to fail. He clutched it, staggering away from the red waters. He fell to a sitting position a few meters away, breathing heavily. The feeling subsided a bit the moment his booted feet left the waters and in a burst of insight he withdrew his Firebolt from inside his pocket. He stood with the sweeper in hand, activating it's flying charms. The broom hovered slightly, before dipping closer to the ground, barely a foot from hitting it. The charms were being effected even more then when he was in the forest.
He reached down, plucking up one of the small rocks on the ground. He cast Wingdarium Leviosa upon it, taking note that it seemed to float a bit higher then his Firebolt. A light push sent the rock floating forward, hovering across the lake's surface. It slowly lost it's gliding power and it wasn't long before it was beginning to skim the top. Another couple of seconds and it fell into the lake with a light 'plop'.
Harry grit his teeth in frustration, making sense of it all. The lake had been the source of his magical depravity, conflicting somehow with his power. It seemed to do the same to his prosthetic arm as well as his Firebolt. It also seemed to keep his potions from taking full effect. He was surprised to find that his ritual collar was not affected at all, still floating diligently in the direction of the glowing island tree.
"Oh come on! Couldn't you pick something a little less cliche'?" he growled out to the surrounding area.
An echoing giggle gained Harry's attention, confusion setting in when the small rock he had floated into the lake was suddenly thrown back at his feet. The upper half of a slim body suddenly broke through the surface, close to the beach edge.
Long, wet black hair framed a young woman's oriental face, white eyes with pink iris' drinking in the young man before her. Soft lips were painted into a sultry smile. Her upper torso was entirely nude, showing off petite, perky breasts that were dotted with small red tattoo's much like the ones that adorned the Incubi. Her skin was a soft cream and tiny grey feathered wings fluttered on her back, similar to the pale blue male demons from before. Blood from the lake cascaded across the natural valleys of her body, dipping around her breasts and neck, tracing her cheeks and shoulders.
For a moment, Harry's heart leapt into his throat as he beheld the woman. Almost instinctualy, he knew it couldn't be her, but the shock of seeing a woman in the lake almost made him believe otherwise.
Suddenly, another slim body broke through the surface. This time a young black woman, tattoo's, petite breasts and feathered wings exactly like the one before. Her hair was braided into glistening dreadlocks. Another emerged, short blonde hair tinged red from the bloody waters, wings and tattoo's. Even more burst through, as if they had been swimming under it's surface like mermaids, waiting for him to appear before them. A quick glance and Harry could easily count around forty of the beautiful women, all of them similar in body frame but different in design. Some with blonde, black and brunette hair. Some with soft tanned skin, others creamy, some dusky.
'That's the last time I ever ask that question...' he thought, barely able to comprehend what was going on.
They all devoured him with their eyesight, as if peeling off his clothes in their minds. A rack of meat thrust in front of starving women. Their wings began to flutter even more.
Harry took another step back as the first one that surfaced dove slightly under the waters, swimming up to the land like a dolphin. She emerged, pulling herself onto the beach with a sexy crawl. Her nude frame was entirely exposed and she knelt widely, arching her back as the red waters splashed lightly against her calves. One of her delicate hands trailed down her taut stomach, burying itself in her hairless cunny. The other reached up, cupping one of her small breasts, fingernails digging and pinching the luscious nipple. Her head titled back, an evil moan breaking through her vocal chords.
Harry was entranced as the black Succubus swam up in a similar style, beaching herself next to the one that was lost in the throes of masturbation. She sat up, leaning over and sinking her teeth into the black haired one's shoulder, a hand coming up and cupping the free breast. The short blonde haired one beached herself as well, this time laying next to the black haired Succubus, licking her side and reaching under her leg to assist the hand that was already fervently stroking her clit.
The three suddenly stopped , eyes drifting back up to Harry, wicked smiles across their lips.
'Come play with us.'
Their haunting voices seemed to come at him from all angles and Harry watched in chilled amazement as all three turned and dove back into the blood lake. Their heads broke the surface a ways out, giggling along with the other Succubi that seemed to be treading.
The lake prevented him from flying across. There was no guarantee that he would be able to Apparate again. It really only left him one option.
Try and swim, with demon wenches that circled the island. Sharks in the hunt.
Harry stripped off his coat, leaving him in his tight black undershirt, casting a temporary water repellent charm on his clothing, hoping that combining that charm with the one already integrated with the clothes would offer a bit more resistance until he reached the island. He tightened the sword to his back, leaving his Firebolt on the ground. His mind began working overtime, gauging the distance to the small island, taking into account the possible threat the Succubi posed, the time it would probably take for the spells on his prosthetic and clothes to fail.
He composed himself, taking one giant leap forward, diving into the dark red abyss.
Warm thick liquid hit Harry's entire body and he surfaced, arms already overhanding before he could think straight. He kicked his legs harder then he ever had before, recalling every swimming lesson Luna had given him those years back. Time was one of the biggest factors. The longer he stayed in the lake, the more likely it was that his arm would drag him down when it's charms began to give way. He took a sideways breath, redness splashing about his face. The Succubi were already surrounding him, their agile movements letting them close in on him instantly. Harry pushed harder, taking another breath, watching the forms zip at him from all angles.
His motions staggered as what he was sure was a hand suddenly caressed the crotch of his pants. Pleasure rippled through him and he pulled up his Occlumency, trying to keep his mind clear and focused. His movements began anew and more hands were suddenly caressing him, grabbing at his body.
One of the Succubi, a brunette with shoulder length hair, splashed up right in front of him. His surprise caused him to halt his swimming and before he could start again her arms were around his shoulders. Her lips seized his, tongue thrusting into his mouth and lovingly meeting his. He struggled against her but demonic strength held him still in his weakened state. Mouths began to lick and nip at him under the surface, biting lighty at his clothed crotch and stomach. He groaned at the feeling, giving the Succubus that held his lips even more access to his tongue. Another pair of lips closed around the side of his neck, sucking the tender skin, tongue lavishing it with attention. Harry's mind began to waver, thrill slipping into the forefront as his body began to go lax.
The weight of his arm him snapped him back to the present and he brought it up, using it's barely superior strength to shove the demon away from him. He pulled his legs up, pushing off the one behind him. The Succubi were deterred for only a moment, moving in again. He cast a mass blinding spell underneath the waters, watching as the flash lit up below the surface. His body sagged heavily in it's advance, the extra power used to even cast the spell almost causing him to double over. He pulled in another breath, a small satisfaction as he noticed several of the demon women surface, howling and rubbing furiously at their eyes.
'Play with us forever.'
He kicked viciously as the voices from the unaffected ones filtered into his head. The resistant charms on his clothing began to give and he could feel them becoming logged. He coughed as disgusting blood splashed into his mouth when his head dunked a bit. His heart felt like it was going to burst from his chest and every limb burned with feelings of white hot needles piercing his skin.
Hands burrowed into his clothing once more, trying to tear the articles from his body, almost pulling him under. He could feel his shirt rip slightly, it's armor charms having long since dissipated. He thrashed about, freeing himself slightly. He was still only halfway to the island and was losing ground fast. His mind raced and Harry saw the same brunette Succubus surface in front of him, arms outstretched. Desperation took over and the Boy-Who-Lived threw up his metallic arm, finger aimed directly at the shocked demon's forehead, gasping while he cast.
It was the second time Harry had ever cast an Unforgivable, a part of his mind absolutely appalled that the spell would even come from his own lips. But Harry was beyond caring. This place was bringing out the worst in him, and he had told himself long ago that he would do whatever it took to stay alive
The yellow Dark Arts spell smacked right into the Succubus' forehead, eyes instantly glazing over, showing the spell take effect. Harry nearly blacked out with it's casting, but he was able to quickly wrap an arm around the demon's neck.
"Swim towards the island as fast as you can!" he rasped out.
The Succubus made no audible acknowledgment to the command but her body turned and she submerged, dragging Harry along with her. The young wizard barely had time to take a gulp of air before they were surrounded by the warm lake. Her body arched up and down as she sliced through the undercurrents, a torpedo being launched from the bowels of a submarine. Her wrists crossed in front of her and the two shot through even faster. Harry straightened his body as much as he could, hoping the assistance would help the Succubus to swim even faster. They broke the surface and Harry could see the island creeping closer.
The demon complied, amazing Harry as they tore through the red abyss. He took a glance behind them, watching as nearly all the Succubi he had counted before broke upwards where he has just been, red waters splashing around them in what would have made an amazing display. The sultry expressions they held before were no longer present. Lips were drawn back, brows were scrunched and eyes were cold.
They were pissed.
The three that had tried to entice Harry on the beach were at the forefront, ripping through the water with such determination that Harry was almost positive they would catch up in a matter of seconds. The raven haired wizard quickly reached for his belt, feeling blindly underneath the splashing redness. He mentally counted the potion phials attached to the leather strap, grabbing one in particular when his mind hit the right number. He pulled it up, not even registering his relief when he saw it's swirling orange contents with small brown flecks floating inside. A deadly mixture of volatile warslug saliva and petrified mammoth skin.
He pressed a small engraving on the cork. The phial began to shake, the contents bubbling inside it's glass encasement.
The Succubus he was holding onto continued to swim, making a beeline for the island.
Harry's hand gripped the glass tighter, shaking it a bit himself.
Harry put what little strength he had left into the throw, the awkward angle doing nothing to help. But it had been enough. The phial exploded above the pursuing group of Succubi, causing them to scream and dive under, ill prepared for Romilda's amped version of Exploding Fluid.
A grin split his face but it quickly fell when he felt the Succubus that was dragging him begin to slow.
"Look at me."
The demon didn't stop her swimming but she turned her head, eyes beginning to dart back and forth. Harry cursed under his breath. The lake was already starting to tear away the hold of the Imperious. He looked up at the island. It was close enough for him to make the rest of the way on his own, a dozen yards or so away.
The creature did so and Harry let go of her, bobbing slightly when his body was no longer supported by her. His mithril arm was now nothing more then dead weight, and it was all Harry could to continue staying afloat.
"Swim away as fast as you can." he coughed out, trying to keep more blood from getting into his mouth.
The Succubus turned, submerged and began to speed off. Harry knew the spell would only last another minute or so and that the exploding potion did little more then distract the ones that had been chasing him. He began paddling himself towards the isle, the last few yards feeling more like miles. But it was uninterrupted, none of the Succubi resuming their efforts to drag him under. He reached the island, pulling himself onto it's small beach. He cupped his neck as he hacked up, blood being gagged out and air being sucked in causing him to cough heavily.
He took a glance behind himself, the Succubi beginning to surface one by one out in the lake, glaring at him in hatred. Despite their best efforts, he had made it. He crawled a bit farther before finally giving into his limbs wishes and falling flat onto his back, his body fatigued beyond almost anything he had ever felt before.
"Bloody bitches..." he panted, gulping lungfuls of air. He took another look at them, the red waters washing across their bodies.
'Literally...' he added as an afterthought.
Harry stood slowly, a little bit of strength returning to his lethargic limbs. His mithril arm was still heavy but no longer fell uselessly at his side. Being out of the lake itself was helping and he could sense most of the charms on his clothing and arm beginning to reactivate once more. His good hand quickly reached for the Shard pouch, sighing in relief when his fingers closed around it.
A sound akin to wind chimes floated past his ears, and he looked up at the glowing tree that inhabited the island. Some of the shock of seeing such a thing was held back from his exposure to the first, but unlike that one the one in front of him swayed as if in a light breeze. The leaves tinked together like glass, providing an amazingly nice sound in such an ugly surrounding. Also contrary to the tree in the Forbidden Forest, this one held a thick expanse of red, reflective apples. Much like the one he had unwillingly eaten
A light crack and sizzle made Harry glance at his belt, his second acid potion was slowly eating away at it's glass phial. Harry swore under his breath, carefully pulling the barely contained green corrosive away from himself, flinging it off in the waters. The charms protecting the phial from it's acrid contents had weakened enough to let the acid begin eating through the glass. Even with them coming back it hadn't been enough to keep it under control.
Another inspection and Harry shook his head. Somewhere in the lake he had lost two more restorative potions. He was left with only a single one.
He tossed his head from side to side, flinging droplets of blood from his hair as he contemplated his next step. He was in no condition to even try to attempt the ritual, he would need all the strength he could get for that. But it was unknown what kind of condition he would be in after the rite and the last thing he needed was to be half dead when he tried to bring this one under his control. It was too risky.
He pushed the thoughts aside, taking hesitant steps up to the blessed tree. It rose much higher then the one in the Forbidden Forest, making Harry crane his neck to look up into it's branches. The feelings that had riddled his senses with the other were weaker with this one, as if it's power was being drained by something. He raised his hand, pressing his palm against the trunk. His body tingled once the exposed skin touched the bark and he could almost feel a presence settled inside.
"You're here, aren't you?" he whispered in slight awe.
He knew she couldn't hear him but was startled to find his body tingling even more, as if his presence was recognized.
Harry pulled his hand away, stepping back from the tree. The ritual collar, it's charms having restarted, vibrated heavily, even going so far as to begin humming. Harry grasped the silver ring, pressing one of the many runes and deactivating it. A hand that he hadn't realized was already quaking made short work of the pouch clasps, opening the brown pocket that was attached to his belt. He held up the shard, it's purple surface slightly off hue from the burning skies above.
His other hand grasped his last remaining restorative potion, bringing it up to his lips before his internal debate could reason otherwise. He felt it's effects take hold, a slight charge that ran the length of his body. He tossed the phial aside.
Thousands of thoughts flashed through Harry's mind when he brought his attention back to the shard. Reasons why he shouldn't do this. Why it was a bad idea. That he wasn't too far now and he could turn away. He could find some other way to defeat Voldemort. He could return to Hogwarts and plan a different approach.
He took a lungful of air, holding it as his eye closed. More thoughts passed. Telling himself that this was the only way. That without doing this everyone would die. Everyone he still cared for. That there was no way he could become powerful enough without their help.
He gathered courage from every bone in his body, drawing upon all the resolve and determination he could muster. He knew he could have no doubts. From here on, there would be no second chances.
Harry turned the shard in his hand, clutching it with both and raised the purple gem piece towards the sky. His body leaned back slightly. His voice barely above a whisper, speaking a dead language.
"Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec..."
(Love, Succession of Witches)
He could hear the sky give off another earth rumbling blast somewhere in the far distance. It was his cue. He slammed the shard into his chest with all his strength.
Harry's eye shot wide open, mouth opening in a silent scream. His body quaked as the tip of the shard pierced his shirt and punched through the soft flesh of his left pectoral. Pain lanced through him, striking from his toes all the way through to his scalp. His hands wavered slightly and only through extreme effort did he push the shard harder. He brought up everything he had ever known about Occlumency, trying to capture his slipping focus. His voice rasped out, continuing the ritual.
"Excitate Vos e Somno, Liberi Mei!
Cunae Sunt Non!
Excitate Vos e Somno, Liberi Fatali!
Somnus Est Non!"
(Wake from your sleep, my children)
(Your childhood years are gone)
(Wake from your sleep, children of Fate)
(Your childhood years are gone)
The shard dug even deeper into his skin, tearing through the muscle and scraping at his ribcage. Blackish blue veins began to scatter across his skin from the shard, like spiderweb cracks on a broken windshield. They slowly drifted up over his chest, lining his neck and shoulders. They branded down his abdomen, across his stomach and onto his legs. Burned across the skin of his back. Trailed white hot fire as they seared against his chin and cheeks. The Boy-Who-Lived's frame convulsed, almost causing him to fall.
Ichorous grey ooze began to seep around the edges of the Philosopher Stone chip that was embedded in his chest, dripping down through his fingers with a consistency of porridge. Harry gagged, coughed and vomit, the grey goop splattering disgustedly against the ground, drooling past his lips. Still he continued, each word causing more of the sludge to land on the ground.
Veni Hortum Veritatis!
Horti Verna Veritatis!"
(Go to the true garden)
(The garden of truth's Spring)
It went beyond pain, beyond lust, beyond anger. And Harry could feel the shard draw upon each one, though he couldn't even describe the feeling, it was like a part of himself was breaking. A wedge being hammered through part of his being as the shard tore it from him. He could almost feel his spirit cracking, bending and ripping. The shard continued it's descent into his body, pushing past his ribs and lightly touching his erratically beating heart. More words, barely audible, drifted from him.
Urite Mala Mundi...
Incendite Tenebras Mundi..."
(With fiery truth)
(Burn the evils of this world)
(With fiery truth)
(Light the darkness of this world)
Harry roared, wrenching the shard free from his body, slime following it's trail as it left him. He stalked forward, his legs giving out the moment he reached the blessed tree. He fell to his knees, one hand supporting him as he still coughed. The veins across his body disappeared and the the grey ooze evaporated as if it had never been. The echoing effects of the gem piece healed the wound in his chest quickly. He reared back and threw his clenched fist forward, puncturing the ancient ivory trunk with the Philosopher Stone piece. He slumped against it, strength waning, voice susurrate.
(The day, has died)
Harry released the shard, which was now firmly stuck in the ivory trunk. His mind reeled when nothing happened. Worry descended upon his face as he began to frantically stare at the tree. Had he failed somehow? Did he do something wrong?
Without warning, the Stone piece began to glow with an eerie brightness. Harry watched in fascination as the very same blue black veins that had scattered his body now began to creep along the tree trunk. It spread like a cancer, worming it's way around the base and the top. It began to infect the branches, causing the leaves to wilt and die. He was only vaguely aware that all the Succubi had crawled onto the island's beach, singing and sobbing. Some began to roll onto their backs, fingers diving into their nether regions as they ravished their own bodies. Hips thrust to meet their own desires, and many who had had been sobbing were now filling the land with their torturous moans
Harry could feel light winds against his body and he looked up as the overcast above began to swirl. The fires above the cloud cover seemed to become unstable and hazardous, spewing even more fiery rocks and brimstone. The Boy-Who-Lived never had a chance to react as a bolt of thunderous lightning fell from the sky in a fraction of a second, as if an angry god above was releasing their vengeance. The lightning strike impacted the blessed tree full on, bursting into a vast explosion, splitting apart the tree and the groud in which it was nestled.
Harry was lifted from the the impact, fire and smoke engulfing his entire being as he was rocketed away. He could barely register how he was falling, body twisting like a rag doll before he landed hard on his side, sliding to the edge of the island. His frame stopped right at the red waters.
He coughed, groaning as he came back to his senses. He had already been drained by the ritual and the unexpected impact had almost rendered him unconscious. He lifted himself up on his arms, mentally taking note that he was fine except for the dull throb in his side. He could still hear the Succubi, a few moaning in their passions, the rest singing loudly, almost vehemently. He couldn't understand them but it was like listening to a foreign language that seemed bewitching in it's mystery.
His attention returned to the now eviscerated tree, the entire body split into two pieces. Various parts of it burned heavily, as did some of the surrounding grass. Huge plums of smoke rose in the air as they escaped the hole in the tree and land. The ash blocked out the base of the tree and all Harry could really see were the two jagged tops as they leaned away from each other.
That's when, barely visible through the smoke, he witnessed two large, black, leathery wings rise up and spread out. They beat quickly, as if trying to take flight, churning the smoke around even more as they did so.
A curvaceous upper body and head become a bit more visible through the smoke, wrapped in what looked liked ivory vines. The wings beat a bit harder as the body struggled and soon the vines were snapping one by one. Within moments two slender arms broke free and they braced themselves on either side of the split tree, pulling and struggling. It wasn't long before the entire cocoon of roots had begun splitting and snapping.
The silhouette slumped forward to it's knees once it was freed, still surrounded by smoke and floating embers. The wings spread even wider, bursting through either side of the smoke screen.
Harry pulled himself to his feet, unable to move, unable to act. Even thinking was almost lost on the young wizard as he stared in utter fascination at the scene before him. He was terrified. From what, he wasn't sure. But the point of no return had come and gone, and now there was nothing he could do to change the events he had set into motion.
Even still, he couldn't stop a single thought from echoing entirely through his mind.
I did it!
Almost as if in answer to his mental question, the visible wings beat once, lifting the silhouette gracefully to it's feet. The leather appendages then disappeared back into the smoke, conforming to the figure's back. It was all the Boy-Who-Lived needed to see to know that he had succeeded.
Lilith, Empress of the Succubi, was reborn.
Harry took a few tentative steps forward. The figure still had not moved from it's mostly smoke blocked visage, but Harry had no doubt it was staring at him. Analyzing him and assessing him. Two red irises burned bright. Then, as if all the time in the world didn't matter, it stepped through the thick black vapors and towards the focus of it's attention.
Harry felt himself trembling as a pale, nude, beautifully sculpted body broke past the smoke, wisps of it clinging to her as if it would give anything for the demon to stay in it's midst. Slim shoulders titled to and fro as she strutted, attached to a slender, tantalizing neck. Voluptuous breasts bounced lightly with each step, lush and enticing, accented as if her back had a connaturally erotic arch. An unyielding flat stomach, lithe and toned, flushed into a beautiful narrow waist and shoulder-width hips that swayed to a tune of liquid music.
Her arms were slender and firm, no doubt lying as to their true strength. One elegant hand was settled against her flowing hips, the other swaying back and forth in precise, seductive movements with her free arm. Legs that begged to be worshiped stepped perfectly in front of each other with each stimulating stride. Harry couldn't keep his eyes from wandering for the briefest of seconds to the luscious lower lips that were nestled inbetween her legs, hairless just as the Succubi.
Her face was a mixture of porcelain skin, alurring high cheeks and a splendid chin. Hair fell down her back in waves of red liquid crimson, a personification of the blood lake Harry had swam through. It fluctuated back and forth in a non-existent breeze. Her lips, tinged with a soft glossed lavender, were open in a devilish grin, a pink tongue rubbing against a pronounced set of white fangs
It was nothing compared to her eyes, which held a smoldering gaze that caused Harry to grit his teeth in concentration as to not lose himself in them.
Irises that help no pupils, just swirling reds, settled on pitch black sclera's. Heavy lidded with thick eyelashes that seemed to have a natural mascara. They were hauntingly beautiful, hiding none of the intentions she held, even without one of the ornate crimson eyebrows that was raised in obvious lure.
This was nothing compared to the demonic essence that surround her being like a blanket. Enrapturing ancient black glyphs, no doubt a language of demons from millenia past, graced almost every inch of her body. Sharp designs that seemed almost out of place against her soft skin. The black wings which Harry had first been witness to were folded against her back and he could quickly assess they were unlike he initially believed them to settle. Rather then being positioned normally they seemed flipped upside down, rising up above the lines of her shoulders, rather then drifting down near her feet.
She was dark temptation incarnate. Absolutely what every single fable believed her to be. The demon queen that had crafted the art of seduction, passed it to her demon spawn in which to use on the wiles of the human race.
The Succubi began to leave the beach, trailing behind her in a half circle.
Harry's heartbeat thundered in his ears as Lilith stopped several meters away from him but he kept his face as cold and passive as he could. This was the pinnacle of his entire mission. What he had spent countless weeks practicing and preparing for. The moment when he would meet his resurrected face to face. It was proving far more difficult then he could even imagine however, her lust almost acting as a physical attribute, splashing against his skin and causing sweat to bead on his brow. Passion burned in the pit of his stomach and he was barely able to suppress it. Now that she was closer he was mildly surprised to see that she looked barely older then himself, possibly in the cusp of her mid-twenties.
He never broke his hard emerald gaze from her red simmering one. He could see some of the Succubi stalking around them with panther-ish grace, crouched and ready to pounce. Not a single one stood though, as if doing so would be blasphemous in front of their Empress.
But something felt wrong about the whole situation. Harry knew they would have sustained power, even after ressurection. The demon in front of him though didn't show any indication of lost magic or physical weakness.
His thoughts were torn away when one of three Succubi Harry had begun to tag as ringleaders slowly crawled up to Lilith, her dusky skin and brown dreadlocks a heavy contrast against to Lilith's unblemished pale frame. The black Succubus began to weep at her mistress' feet, again speaking in a language Harry couldn't understand. Her entire body quaked with uncontrolled sobs that racked through her. Lilith cooed softly to the crying demon, leaning over softly and running her hands through the dark Succubus' locks. The creature looked up, hiccuping slightly as Lilith rubbed the back of her hand across her cheek, which the Succubus instantly snuggled.
The demon queen returned her gaze to the young wizard, eyes once again meeting his.
"Inara tells me that you're the one who awakened me..."
Harry should have suspected it, even planned for it, but nothing really could prepare him for the consonance of her speech. A verbal aphrodisiac, igniting the carnal desires of anyone that was within listening distance. The type of voice that could have young nuns fingering themselves furiously in a church confessional, even have them fucking debaucherously on a priest's baptistery table.
Harry steeled himself, showing none of the emotions that rumbled just a hair's breath under his skin.
"Yes, I nee..."
"I know what you need, manling..." Lilith's voice cut him off.
Harry's eye narrowed when the demon silenced him with a wave of her hand. She turned her back on him, staring back at the burning tree which was slowly crumbling.
"Whatever you did to bring me back has given me many memories from your life." she stated as if it was mere fact. She turned her burning eyes back to him, striding around him slowly. Harry didn't move, though he felt every muscle in his body tense, readying himself for anything the demon planned to do.
She continued her strides, inspecting every part of him. The Succubi had backed away slightly, giving their Empress room to walk. A smirk graced her lavender lips as the human before her made no movement, allowing her to even walk behind him. He was either brave, or foolish
"Though the specifics are lost on me, I have seen your hatred for this...Riddle, is it?" her honeyed voice asked in question from behind, but Harry gave her no answer, still staring straight ahead. She never halted in her walking. "I have seen many glimpses of you. They are soaking in my mind even as we speak. I know you come here, looking for assistance with something you can not do alone."
Lilith's voice held something Harry couldn't identify and soon she was standing in front of him again. Her eyes opened a bit wider, no longer holding their sultry look. Harry could identify a look of infernal wickedness a mile away, even more so when the demon before him made no effort to hide it.
"A baby tiger has stumbled into the cavern of the ancient anaconda, defiled it's lair and woken it from it's sleep. I am stuck asking myself, manling; why should the anaconda even consider helping the baby tiger?" she asked, almost pompously.
It was only thanks to Harry's mind already being high strung that he was fully primed to dish out any retaliation, should Lilith try and harm him. Whether it was from her or her Succubi children. That's why when Harry saw movement in the corner of his eye he lashed out with all his strength, the back of his mithril fist catching a pouncing Succubus cleanly in the jaw. The maw of the demon made a vile crunch as his magical arm pulverized the bone in a backhand, sending the Succubus sprawling on her side. The creature curled up in a fetal position, whimpering and crying as many of her sisters covered her body with their own in protection. They bared their teeth, snarling and hissing at the dark haired wizard in anger at hurting one of their own.
Harry paid the hostile sounds no heed, but his head dipped low and he tightened the muscles in his arms in case another would attack. His solitary eye stared up maliciously at Lilith through his black bangs . He hardened the resolve inside of himself, knowing that this entire confrontation was an establishment of control that he had to project if he had any hope of enslaving the Empress.
"The next one dies." he declared guilelessly, tinged with a cold ruthlessness.
He expected Lilith to become as hostile as her 'daughters', possibly even angry. He wasn't prepared for a sinful smile to grace her lips as she stared at him in great interest.
"My, my, my; this baby tiger has claaaaaws." she whispered loudly with something akin to mirth. She stuck out her bottom lip in a sudden mock pout. "What's ananacondato do?"
Before Harry could even try and contemplate what the Lilith was trying to say, her body magically burst into hundreds of black crow feathers. Her laughter echoed as if inside a cave and Harry whirled back and forth, searching for her. The Succubi were laughing as well, pulling away from the young wizard but still keeping their circular positions around him.
Harry's heart suddenly leapt into his throat at the sound of her voice from behind. Not crazy and bloodthirsty as it had been in the Church, but soft and reassuring.
He turned to look behind himself, the Succubi separating slightly, making room for a nude 'Ginny' to walk past them. Everything about her was just as Harry remembered. From the freckles on her skin to the small, almost unnoticeable birthmark on her hip. She looked at him with a warmth he hadn't seen in years.
"G-Ginny?" he asked in utter disbelief.
"It's so good to see you again. I missed you." 'Ginny' said after a slight nod, talking gently. "Did you miss me?"
She turned away from him before he could respond, arching her back and bending herself at the waist. She gripped her knees, staring back at him with sudden lust in her chocolate eyes. "Did you miss this, Greeneyes?" One of her small hands snaked down her stomach and Harry could clearly see one of her fingers dive into her exposed pussy. She moaned, still staring at him. "Did you miss how much of a little slut I was with you? Did you miss making me cum when you took me from behind, in my bedroom at the Burrow when I snuck you in at night? My face, buried in my pillow when you had your lovely way with me? What a little fucking tart I was." she said, another satisfied sigh escaping her.
Harry's jaw fell open in utter disbelief at the words that were coming from 'Ginny's mouth. He took a step towards her but the young redhead threw he head back in laughter, body rupturing into another array of black feathers. The Succubi began to giggle madly.
Another voice he never planned to hear again reached him from his left, and his head turned to watch an equally naked 'Hermione' step through the giggling demons much the same way 'Ginny' had. Although Harry hadn't known Hermione as intimately as he had known the youngest Weasley, he had seen enough of her body during their group swimmings at the Burrow to know that the frame before him was exactly the same. Even her posture, hands on hips with her head slightly tilted, was just as she had stood before him an uncountable number of times.
Only this time, there was a fire in her brown eyes as she stared at him. "Honestly..." she said again, this time throwing her arms up in her hair and arching her back. "...why didn't you ever tell me there was a part of you that wanted me, Harry?" She ran her hands sensually down her abdomen, rocking her hips from side to side. "Why didn't you tell me about those rare times you wondered if your little bookish Hermione was a screamer in bed? Why didn't you ever tell me about that little daydream you had of me? Goody goody girl Hermione, on my knees, sucking you off behind a bookshelf in the Hogwarts' library like a whore." she breathed passionately.
Harry stood, flabbergasted, some of his biggest secrets that had been locked away in the far pit of his mind being thrust in front of his face. He stared at 'Hermione' apprehensively. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
She 'tsked', wagging her finger. "It's not nice to lie Harry." Her bushy hair tossed around as she chuckled. As before, her body shattered into black feathers.
A dreamy voice tore his attention to his right and he was floored as naked 'Luna' stepped through the Succubi in the same manner as the two witch's before her. Many nights that he had held the blonde Ravenclaw close, support from her nightmarish dream, had left the the Boy-Who-Lived with good knowledge as to the aspect of her body. 'Luna' had her hands clasped in front of her as she looked around the entire area in wonder, a far off look in her eyes. She finally focused her baby blues on him, head tilted in question.
"How come you never had your way with me when you held me all those nights?" Her dreamy stare was suddenly replaced by a look of lust that fit her amazingly. "I could feel your heat nestled between us those mornings, dear Harry. How come you never just pulled up my nightshirt and took me like the bitch in heat I was? You wanted to so much after you heard me that day in the shower, moaning out your name." One of her hands traced her inner thigh, the other running the nape of her neck and lifting her blonde hair up. "How come you didn't tell me that you were standing right outside, listening, touching yourself? I would have given myself to you."
Harry made a movement towards her but just as before, a puff of black feathers and fading laughter were all he was given.
A voice that he could only recall one time in his life, brought his attention to his front.
There, a presence that even overshadowed that of 'Ginny' in that moment, stood Lily Potter.
She was just like the photo's he had seen. Beautiful features that were unmarred by the pale skin and golden eyes she had at The Church. Her arms were crossed lightly under her breasts, causing them to be even more pronounced. Her tone was husky, eyes half closed.
"You look delicious enough to break..."
That was all that was needed for the straw to snap the hippogriff's back.
'Lily' barely managed a look of surprise before a raging young wizard blurred forward and snatched her up by her throat, mithril fist holding her several feet above the ground. A piercing emerald eye held her mirrored green ones with hatred.
"How dare you!"he snarled, mere inches from her face. His fist tightened. "How dare you mock them with your sick games, demon! I will kill you if you EVER disgrace them like that ag..."
Harry was never given a chance to finish as numerous hands wrapped themselves around his arms and neck. The surrounding Succubi were suddenly on top of him, wrestling with the young wizard in an attempt to free their Empress. Harry released his mother's clone, instantly trying to defend himself against the screeching demon women.
Two were on his back, trying to bring him down with their combined weight. He reached up, snatching both and hauling them overhead by their hair, each one screaming as Harry slammed them against the ground on their backs. Another leapt on him, sinking her fangs into his exposed shoulder. The dark haired wizard grunted in pain, smashing his elbow into her stomach in response. The creature cried out, doubling over.
Harry swung his mithril arm wide, barely missing one in the face. She reached up, wrapping both of her arms around his artificial one in an attempt to hinder it. He tried to shake her off but several more arms wrapped around the silver limb, restraining it against his will. More Succubi were throwing themselves on his back, other ones crashing into his legs in an attempt to bring the young wizard down.
Harry fought as long as he could, striking and shoving with his unrestrained arm, trying to yank his mithril one free many times. At one point he even reached back for his sword, only to find the silver blade had been torn from his back.
He was in no condition to keep up the struggle for any extended period of time. The fight with the Incubi, the blood lake and the ritual had left Harry heavily weakened, both physically and magically. It wasn't long before the legion of Succubi had him pinned against the ground on his back, dozens of hands holding his arms and legs.
Harry glared hatefully as 'Lily' stepped on either side of him, towering over with a grin of triumph on her face. There were no black feathers this time as the form of his mother morphed back into the exquisite demon body of Lilith. Her hands planted themselves on her hips haughtily, swirling red eyes raking over him as a pleased sound rumbled from her throat.
"There is a darkness inside you, beautiful baby tiger, that I find absolutely delicious." she breathed throatily.
Her eyes hardened abruptly as he struggled some more, grunting as she planted a foot on his chest, pining him effortlessly..
"I do not, however, lay under anyone in enslavement!" she said acidly. Harry looked up at her in astoundment and before he could retort she continued, speaking as if she had read his mind. "Oh yes, your little revive magic gave me quite the insight into your intent. You were a fool to think I would ever submit myself to you willingly!"
Despite the danger of his situation, a small part of Harry took a small breath of relief. She knew nothing of how he actually planned to enslave her, only that he had the intention of bringing her under his power somehow.
Any other ponderings were snapped away as he felt his pants being undone then pulled down roughly. Harry started as one of the Succubi leaned over, pulling his shirt up as well. He watched in confused fascination as two of the Succubi, the black haired one he had identified as one of the ringleaders and one he hadn't seen before dipped their heads down, lavishing his chest and stomach with their warm tongues.
Cool air assaulted his crotch as he felt his undergarments being yanked down along with his pants, and Harry's eye almost bugged out as another pair of warm tongues assaulted his cock with intensity. His head fell back and a silent groan escaped his mouth as he felt one of the salivating appendages wrap around the crown, pumping it in a way Harry had never thought possible. Hot breath cascaded across his scrotum and he bucked involuntarily as another mouth began to suck greedily on one of his balls.
Harry's eye focused on the demon queen above him as her voice gained his waning attention.
"I have yet to decide what to do with you, baby tiger. My daughters are obviously very fond of you, they usually have more restraint before they let their passions get the better of them." she grinned in absolute evil. "Something about you has ignited the fires in their loins. Telali seems particularly affected."
The young wizard was barely able to hazard a glance at who she was speaking of, watching as the blonde Succubus he had labeled as one of the other ringleaders lowered her face to his erection. Harry tried to speak out but his only response was a low moan as he felt his entire member be swallowed by an eager set of lips. The adjoining tongue rippled against the sensitive underside as she pushed her lips all the way to the base. Telali's upstroke was slow, pleasurable, agony as she took her sweet time, sucking hard enough that it almost hurt.
Her lips sealed around the head of his cock and her tongue was suddenly bathing across the top, stroking back and forth. His body shivered as the sensations hit his mind, another moan being released as he began to lose himself to the sensations.
"W-what...are you..d..." he couldn't finish his sentence as yet another pair of warm lips began to work on his cock, kissing and licking the base while Telali continued to lavish the head with lazy tongue strokes.
Lilith smiled even wider, understanding his half spoken question. "What am I doing, you ask?" In response to her mimicked question, she traced her hand to the inside of her thigh, fingers delving into her hairless pussy. An individual finger ran across the length of her slit, parting the pussy lips slightly. It did this a few more times, before being thrust in entirely. A flush quickly crept into her cheeks as her middle finger pistoned slowly. She panted softly. "I am allowing my girls to have some fun. Then, I am going to rape you."
The nonchalance way she said it caused Harry to stare up at her in shock. Lilith threw he head back in throaty laughter for a moment, and the young wizard could clearly see the angry lust in her eyes when she looked at him again. "Do not look so surprised. Was it not your plan to come here and do the same to me if I was unwilling to serve you? I merely beat you to it." she stated with an wicked grin. One of her hands came up and began squeezing and grasping her breast harshly. Her eyes closed, and a deep moan drifted through the air. "You are unique, baby tiger. I am torn on giving you to my daughters for the rest of eternity, or to keep you for myself." Her finger began to dive even deeper, move with such a pace that the raunchy sounds of her wetness smacked with each finger thrust. For brief seconds she would pull the finger out and press it roughly against her clit, rubbing furiously as she stimulated herself even more.
Edited For FFNet. Unedited at FicWad. Link in profile.
Suddenly, all the pleasures around his body came to a screeching halt. It was a brief second that Harry was able to try and decipher his scrambled thoughts, taking lungfuls of air as if he wouldn't ever get a second chance. Sweat fell down the side of his face as he watched Telali and Inara extract themselves from him, devilish grins that screamed out to Harry that they knew something he didn't. More hands accompanied the ones already holding him, as if they were afraid he was going to quickly get his bearings and try to break free.
His attention was brought back to the Empress that stood above him with an aristocratic superiority, her wide smile much more devious then the ones of her daughters. She had stopped pleasuring herself at some point, but Harry could easily make out the wet glistening of her sex, doing nothing to hide the level of her own excitement. She knelt down, straddling his thighs with her own. Her voice was low, fueled with authoritative lust.
"It is time. Prepare him, Aiyoku."
The black haired Succubus smiled, nodding softly. She leaned over, grasping the base of his saliva coated cock. She pumped it a few times, causing Harry to suck in a breath through his teeth, before she held it upright. Ominous feelings began to wiggle their way through his clouded mind as he and Lilith met gazes again. Her pink tongue darted out, licking her upper lip in hunger.
"After this, baby tiger, you will be mine to do with as I please for the rest of time."
Her fingers parted her pussy lips as she descended, preparing to rape the young wizard under her. Her lowering was slow and deliberate, no doubt mocking the fact that Harry couldn't prevent what was about to happen. Harry could feel her heat against the tip of his member, Aiyoku rubbing the head back and forth across Lilith's slit. The demon queen quivered in anticipation, grabbing a handful of Harry's hair and forcing him to look up at her face.
"This is what happens when you cross lines that you shouldn't even be at." she whispered hungrily. She leaned in close to Harry's face. Red swirling eyes, thick with malevolent lust, boring directly into his.
Harry leaned forward against her hand that still had a hold of his hair, glaring. "I will not be your slave, bitch." he nearly spat. She grinned wider.
"And I will not lay underneath. Not then, not now."
Edited For FFNet. Unedited at FicWad. Link in profile.
A light tinkle reached his ears, an oasis of sound through the desert of screaming, moaning and groaning that went on around him.
The ritual ring on his necklace tinged lightly every time his body quaked with Lilith's. It's silent message barely breaking through the thrilling mists that wafted in his head. If he gave up here, then everyone was doomed. He quickly threw his head from side to side, looking for any opening in his situation. The Succubi had loosened their grips enough to take a single hand a piece and pleasure themselves, but even a slight movement on his part and the hands still holding him tightened ruthlessly.
That's when his eye landed on an all too familiar face. Framed with short brown hair. She was staring at him with open desire, but there was something else behind those white and pink eyes. Remnants of something. A lingering wait for his orders.
The Imperious had , amazingly, not worn off entirely.
Harry's eye closed when another moan tore through his throat. If the sounds Lilith was making were any indication, then she was seconds away from orgasm. And he was seconds away from losing his only chance. He opened his eye again, locking it with hers.
Let me go... he mouthed silently.
She shook her head, heaving as her hand stayed buried in her cunny. Harry grit his teeth again.
Let me go! he mouthed more insistently.
The Succubus hesitated for a moment, but slowly her hand unfolded from his arm.
Passions and perceptions the young wizard couldn't even describe, hit his body full force when Lilith orgasmed. Her wings snapped wide open, almost as if they would tear from her body. Her eyes began to glow and the glyphs on her body began to radiate. She let loose a wailing scream, hands buried in the ground as she tried to steady herself, her snatch lettings juices flow freely from her body and onto her unwilling lover.
The thin fiber that held together Harry's will tensed to the point of breaking and the young wizard wasted no time in tearing his arm away from the remaining Succubi who hadn't realized their sister was no longer helping hold him down. He snatched the ring at his neck, not caring as the necklace snapped when he yanked it free. His climax was possibly seconds away behind Lilith's, making it hard to even remember his own name.
But he remembered enough. The single command.
He shoved the ring against Lilith's chest, the Empress barely able to conjure a look of shock through her orgasm.
The ring activated with the voiced command, every rune etched in it's surface igniting in a bright expanse of light. The band of metal shattered into thousands of small pieces, spreading out from Harry's fingers. They swirled around the Empress' upper body before clamping shut and refusing into a thick, runic inscribed collar that encased her slender neck.
Lilith threw her head back, screaming. Her will twisted and warped inside of her soul, bending to subject in itself to that of the human she had been dominating up until now. Something inside of her burned like white hot fire, spreading throughout her spirit like an inferno. A strangled sob rushed past her lips as she wrestled with the quite secure collar, pushing her internal magic against the intrusive force that was causing her to unwillingly submit. Her wings looked as if they were going to snap if they thrashed around more then they already were.
Every Succubi moved in absolute tandem, sitting up from each other and preparing to dive at the young wizard, intent on ripping his body apart. It wouldn't have been hard since Harry was still pinned under the convulsing Lilith, but an invisible force slammed into each one, pining them on their stomachs. They wailed and screamed, scratching and clawing at the ground as they tried to crawl forward. Whatever was affecting their Empress was affecting them as well.
Every terrified and panicked thought that had run through Harry's mind in the last few hours, fractured, leaving a gaping hole for every one of his rage induced ones to filter through. Rage fueled by the demon who had nearly destroyed everything he had worked so hard for.
Without thinking twice Harry sat up, burying his hand in Lilith's hair as she writhed around, twisting the flaming strands in his fingers. She cried out when he jerked his hand back, forcing her head back as well. The momentum caused her to topple off the young wizard and onto her back, breaking their joined bodies. Harry was quick to follow the position, now leaning over her as she struggled.
"R-release me!" she all but sobbed.
Harry gave no answer except to yank on her hair even harder, making her scream in pain. Harry grit his teeth, reaching a hand down and roughly positioning himself at her wet opening.
"This is what happens when you try and cross lines you can't control!" he snarled in her face, before leaning down and crushing his lips to hers. The brief break in sexual action had staved off Harry's own climax for at least a little longer. It gave him plenty of time to drive his point home. Which is exactly what he did.
With a hard, almost painful thrust, he buried himself in her to the hilt. She shrieked, back arching as Harry repaid her previous raping with one of his own. He hooked one of her knees around his elbow, almost throwing her leg over his shoulder. The hand buried in her hair only tightened, no doubt drawing blood, as he brought the fabled women to tears. Her arms were throw to the sides, palms against the ground as she tried to unsuccessfully force him off. Her will refused to budge against the demands the young wizard put upon her. Lilith finally let loose her tears, the crystalline tracks flowing from her beautiful red and black eyes as Harry violated her.
"Not like t-this!" she wailed.
A darkness swarmed behind Harry's green eye, grunting with each thrust as he fucked her with abandon. "Not like this?!" he panted in exertion. "You try and rape me?! Then make demands?!" Harry jerked her hair again when she tried to respond, receiving a strangled cry instead. "Shut up!"
Lilith's back arched again as pain filled pleasure tore her. She couldn't move her head thanks to Harry's death grip on her hair, but her eyes quickly darted to her daughters. They had curled up around themselves, clawing at their own hair and sobbing uncontrollably. They called out to her in their demonic language, screaming, pleading, begging her to tell them what was happening. She tried desperately to answer them, but a second orgasm rippled across her skin, causing her to arch her back so hard she thought her spine would snap.
Harry's final bout of control slipped when the exquisite creature under him found bliss again. His back contorted as his cock spurted, coating the demon's womb with his seed. The hand in her hair clenched even more, the other on her thigh digging hard enough that his short nails left crescent scratches in her unblemished skin. His hips bucked again and again, releasing more of his essence inside of her. Then finally, almost undramatically, the passions and sensations died out and Harry slumped forward to his forearms. His chest heaved with every deep intake of breath, pressing against Lilith's breasts each time he took a lungful. He felt like any moment he would slip into a coma and never wake.
Even so, he forced his solitary green eye to open and stare at the crying, hateful glare of Lilith. Suppressed shudders still wracked her body but she was sneering, showing her her perfect teeth and slight fangs. Her hands were balled into fists, almost as if she would try and strike him at any moment. But she couldn't, as the collar around her neck pulsed slightly.
"You were right...Lilith." It was the first time he had said her name, letting a triumphant grin fall into place. "You won't lay underneath me." He leaned forward, his lips claiming hers and almost customarily, even against her wishes, hers opened in response. Their tongues met, swirling around each other briefly before he finally pulled away.
Her eyes continued to try and stab death through him but he kept his wicked smile. "You will lay however I tell you to lay from now on..." he whispered.
Harry Potter, against all odds, had conquered the only woman in legend and myth who refused to submit, even at a God's wish.
And in doing so, the first chess piece on the Light side of the board had been moved.
Well, there it is, the first official chapter. Hopefully it didn't disappoint.
There's probably a lot of questions you're wondering about right now. Why did the Succubi try and stop Harry? What is Lilith's powers? Why was she in the Garden in the first place? As well as many others. Trust me, a lot of those questions will get answered, maybe not right away, but they are coming. I know Lilith may seem a little Mary-Sue'ish, but she's far from. Anyone who is wondering why she's as exquisite as she is, I just want you to remember that One: She's a demon, and Two: She's the demon of seduction.
I'm honestly a little surprised that no one has guess the next one in the Citadel, although it is a rather obscure character. A few people said Eve, but unfortunately no, it's not her. Good guesses though. I have the next one planned out, but I am open to suggestions on which ones he should get after that, so feel free to leave it in your reviews or messsages.
I want to thank everyone who left a review, even if it was the famous one liners. But a special thanks goes to everyone who left true and honest critiques about what they enjoyed about the story, where they thought it needed improvement, and what they would like to see. It's comments such as those that will truly help me be a better author then the amateur I am now. I couldn't ask for better readers who've taken interest in my story. While I can't conform myself to everyone's wishes, I will try my damnedest to meet as many of you as I can in the middle.
There has been some complaints that Voldemort might be too strong, that his resurrected might be too powerful as well. While I can see your point in some aspects, and I have actually gone back and revised a few things I want everyone to remember that the magic Voldemort and Co. are using is not conventional magic the rest of the Wizarding world is used too. On top of that, the only way to truly capture the essence of Harry's desperation and his decision to do something as absolutely insane as this is to make his struggle against madmen(women) an extremely deadly one.
In regards to the ritual, and Lilith not seemingly having lost any power, remember that the ritual explanation was in a way from Harry's point of view. He based many things on relative faith and hope, without any actual fact. Expect things to possibly not go how he had planned. Other then that tidbit, my lips are sealed.
A very special thanks goes out to jon3776 again for his insight and thoughts on this chapter.
Also, another very special thanks goes out to Nymph14, as she was the first person, long before this story was brewed, to give me some damn good pointers about being an author. Please check out her story 'Not Bloody Likely' and leave her some uplifting and honest criticism. Her story hasn't received nearly the attention it should, and that's something I would love to see changed.
Future chapters shouldn't be as long as most of the major set ups have been shown, but if they are, I'll be sure to put breaks in them until after Chapter 7. I'm sticking to one woman a chapter until that time. If chapters afterwards start to get long I'll break them into separate chapters. If 2-7 are long, I'll put in markers like I did in this one.
Once again, thanks to everyone who has even gotten this far, because that means you're taking time out of your life to read something I'm trying to provide. Would love detailed criticism on some level, but any honest reviews will do.
Thalarian T.M. Productions