A/N: This is the longest chapter yet and early to boot! Another plot twist is revealed along with foreshadowing some future troubles. Un-beta'ed, I apologize in advance for any errors.


NGD 1 is pretty much a continuation of the prologue but there are a few spoilers for this chapter that are a bit downplayed in NGD. I'm exhausted from editing this beast so look for NGD 1 tomorrow.

Text Formatting:

'Character thoughts'

Emphasis, Article Heading

Foreign words, spells, letters, media text (newspaper/books)

- Parseltongue -

: Telepathy :

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Good Intentions

By: SheWolfe7

Chapter VII:


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The Private Dining Room

Torres Villa, Luarca, Asturias

Tuesday the 4th of February 1975

8:45 AM

Breakfast was a strangely quiet affair, one that put the Royal Guardsmen standing at attention at the end of the room on edge. The father and son had always had lively discussions while they supped, no matter what troubles the two had to deal with. Captain Renaldo, the head of Prince Evaristo's Private Guard, observed his charges with concern. It had been obvious to everyone that Prince Evaristo deeply cared for the well being of his son, so why were the two acting so oddly?

He had served as Captain to Prince Evaristo's Private Guard for over a dozen years now and was trusted implicitly. Renaldo was privy to all of Prince Evaristo's affairs and he had always performed whatever task had been asked of him without question. For ten years he spent one hour a week in a small orphanage in Zafra manipulating the memories of Muggles and forging the necessary paperwork for an orphan that did not exist.

It had been both a relief and a trial when the Prince had brought home a young teenage boy in June. While it spelled the end of his weekly visits to Zafra, it also caused him to spend five extremely long days (using a Timeturner no less) making all the appropriate changes to the documents and memories of the Muggles at the orphanage. Every loose end had to be neatly tied to prevent any later investigations from discovering anything out of the ordinary.

During the summer, Renaldo had spent a great deal of his time around the new young master of the household and had learned quite a bit. Having served Prince Evaristo as long as he had, he knew better than to ask any questions. All his questions would be answered if the situation warranted it and only when it became necessary for him to know. So he carefully paid close attention to what was known to the Royal Family to be true, what the general public thought was true and most of all, what was unsaid.

Renaldo would not dare to say that he understood the whole situation or what motivated either of his charges, but he could honestly say that if he lived to retire he would count himself lucky.

Anastas finished his orange juice, wiped his mouth, and set his napkin on his plate. "There are some appointments that I must deal with so I'll be staying at the Palacio until the end of the week. I will be unreachable for most of Monday and Tuesday next week so if anyone inquires about my whereabouts, tell them that I'm still training with Elder Asikis. I've decided that it will be inconvenient to return to Hogwarts this year so I will continue my independent studies and take the standard evaluations at the end of the regular school year."

Evaristo looked vaguely amused. "I see. You plan to continue building your contacts through social gatherings then, as we discussed last summer?"

"Yes, I think it best for this first year."

"Very well, that is suitable with my plans. Before you leave I think it best to inform you that you are to slay the Cuélebre on Midsummer night this year."

"And why pray tell, am I to slay the legendary Cuélebre?" Anastas questioned disbelieving.

"Simply put…politics."

Anastas groaned with heartfelt irritation. "I hate politics nearly as much as I despise all the goddamned useless social necessities I now have to abide by. Dare I ask why I was given such a normally hopeless task?"

"The Courtiers doubt your loyalty and this was the most efficient way to prove that you are not a threat to the succession. Your Granduncle would have had you Bound to the Family had I not known of an alternate path."

"I see," Anastas commented with a frown. "Never let it be said that no advantage comes without a price of some sort. Still, it could have been much worse. It looks like I will have to stop by the Library before I take my leave."

Evaristo nodded slowly before staring intently at him. "I know why you're leaving and I will not stop you. There are issues in your past that you have avoided too long and you will never be able to actively plan for the future until you deal with those issues. Take things slowly and only commit yourself to making a decision when you have all the information at your disposal. Nothing bad will come of waiting a few months, possibly even a full year. Do not rush matters."

Anastas knew his adopted father's Gift was strong and would heed his words. "I will do my best."

"Good. Is there anything else?"

"No. I'll see you soon."

Evaristo smiled, "Have a good trip."

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A Private Bath

The Nautilus, Magnus Court, Italy

Thursday the 6th of February 1975

11:02 PM

Cyril cautiously glanced up and down the hallway before unlocking the door to the private bath he had been assigned. The Nautilus was a well known spa and resort that was frequented by all sorts of wizards and witches from around the world. He could not afford being seen here as it would result in a scandal which he wanted to avoid at all costs.

There were already rumors that he was having an affair which, while unconfirmed, posed no serious threat to his situation but a scandal with photographic evidence would ruin all his plans. If things continued as they had for the next three years, when his youngest son Cleto turned fifteen, he would finally be able to divorce his wife Magda and eventually marry his own secret love.

For the last eighteen years he had paid the price of underestimating an opponent and with his freedom so close, he would not make the same mistake again. Had he the strength, he would stop meeting his love but her presence was the only bright light in his life.

Fausto, his eldest son, was the living proof of his entrapment and though he knew that it was his own actions which had led to his marriage, he could not help feeling resentment towards his own son. In the early years of his marriage, his negative emotions and his unstable behavior had nearly led to his own ejection from the Family. If his father had not intervened by removing his grandchildren from their care and into his own, there could be no telling how his children might have turned out raised in such a hostile environment.

After his children had gone, Cyril was finally able to clearly see what sort of man he had become. He had allowed all his negative feelings to fester and grow until he became as selfish and spiteful as his wife. Worse yet, he had lashed out at his own children who were entirely blameless. The shame of what he had done never quite diminished in all these years and he had taken great pains to remain distant from his children, for fear falling back into bad habits.

To this day Cyril considered his past behavior to be his greatest failure as both a man and a father. He had sired three healthy, gifted sons and he was practically a stranger to them. He was a disgrace. It was too late to become a true father to his sons as the damage had already been done, so the best he could do for them now was to set them free.

As he locked the door behind him, Cyril smiled as he saw her in the candlelight. Her curly brown hair hung around her waist in thick waves, her skin shone like honey, and her voluptuous body was covered in a robe of aqua silk. For several moments they simply stood still, watching the other.

Apolinar's wife Isabella was heralded as the most beautiful woman in Spain but in his eyes, no other woman could ever compare to his love. Cyril had known her all his life and had never loved anyone but her. Their love, when it was known, would cause a great scandal. A love like theirs was forbidden.

Cyril was the Warlord Presumptive, grandson of a Sovereign Prince and Ramona was a Duchess, daughter of a Prince of Asturias.

They were second cousins, one from the Primary line of succession and the other from the Secondary. By no means was intermarriage between members of the first four lines of succession allowed unless both parties were disowned and sterilized. It was a decree that had been inked in the blood of a slain Sovereign Prince following the usurping of the Asturian throne and a three month long civil war in the early tenth century.

It was a price that they were both willing to pay. Both of them had done their duty, they had each married and had children to insure the proper continuation of their bloodlines. His father had raised his own children and Ramona's two children would be well cared for by her brother-in-law. They would endure the scandal and the stipulations for their marriage because both of them had suffered enough apart. Only these precious stolen hours together had made either of their lives bearable and even then, the constant fear of discovery allowed neither of them to fully relax. Better to have their relationship open for the entire world to see than to continue creeping around like criminals.

Almost at once the two moved together until they were locked in a tight embrace. It was the first time they had met privately since early December as Cyril had been too busy with Family affairs to sneak away for a few hours.

"I've missed you," Cyril murmured brushing tender kisses along Ramona's face.

"We both have our obligations," Ramona answered, tightening her arms around him.

Cyril gazed into her dark eyes. "Someday soon there won't be any obstacles left to prevent us from the happiness that we deserve to have together."

"That day cannot come soon enough."

"It will come though, I promise you that my love." Cyril commented before kissing her.

Ramona only deepened the kiss. It would be hard but the end result would be worth waiting for.

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The Formal Receiving Room

Ithavoll Castle, Lake Vänern, Sweden

Friday the 7th of February 1975

9:07 AM

Under the watchful gaze of a dozen Royal Guardsmen, Anastas patiently awaited his appointment with Her Majesty Erika, Queen of Sweden.

Originally he had not anticipated having to meet with the monarch this year but due to the sudden shift in his plans, it was best to get the matter over and dealt with. According to tradition, he could not assemble an Asturian Private Guard until he was formally acknowledged by the Torres Family at his majority at age eighteen. The Lund Family had been a noble family as well and had he any surviving family; he would have had to wait until he was sixteen to assemble a Guard. Luckily, as the sole Lund descendant all he needed to do was formally make a request of the ruling monarch to quicken the proceedings. Of course Anastas knew that he would not get such a request without paying some price. As he knew, there were no such things as freebies. Not when it came to politics and anything that had to do with power.

When it came down to politics he was something of a double edged sword. He was a Prince of Asturias and a Friherre (Baron) of Sweden, the former taking precedence over the latter according to the internationally recognized Blood Rite Laws. His unique position gave him a great deal of authority in Asturias and, to a lesser extent, Sweden. Both allowed him to have a fairly large number of guardsmen pledged to his service. As a Prince of the Secondary degree, he was allowed a Private Guard force of 1,500 and as a Friherre of Sweden; he would be allowed a Guard of 3,000. That allowed him to have as a whole 4,500 Guardsmen, which considerably outnumbered all but the greatest nobles and his dual nationality would allow his Guardsmen to travel freely in either country.

Anastas had no doubt that he would be able to gain Queen Erika's approval to assemble a Guard as her approval would only benefit her in the long run.

Twenty minutes passed by in utter silence before a herald dressed in the black and amber Wifstrand colors came to escort him to the Throne Room. As they passed through the wide corridors of Ithavoll Castle, Anastas absently noted the hanging tapestries portraying ancient battles and the carved runes on the walls that acted both as decoration and protection. Courtiers, Guards, and Servants prowled the corridors as the Swedish Court had a lively Winter Season. Anastas pasted a polite smile on his face and mulled over the snippets of conversation his therapontes relayed to him.

At last they reached the ornate carved doors of the Throne Room, a pair of guards opened the door with a bow. Anastas allowed the Herald to enter ten paces ahead of him, as was proper, before following.

"Presenting His Serene Highness, Prince Anastas Evaristo Rafael Lund-Torres, Prince of Asturias, Heir of the Lund Family of Sweden, and Scion of the Focalor Family of France."

Anastas kept his gaze focused at the upraised dais at the end of the room, upon which the Queen and several others sat. His therapontes whispered to him the number of Royal Guardsmen hidden throughout the room and their positions. Queen Erika sat in an ornate mahogany throne at the center of the dais. She was a pretty blonde woman in her late forties, dressed in elaborate blue and silver brocade robes. To her left sat Consort Gustav and to her right Crown Prince Birger, both men had dark brown hair and a tall, wiry frame.

"Your Majesties," Anastas greeted with a formal bow, stopping a good eight feet away from the bottom of the dais. "I thank you profusely for granting me a private audience so swiftly. I know that with the Winter Court gathered you have little free time."

Queen Erika smiled politely, "It is a pleasure to see you again Prince Anastas, I hope that your Family fares well?"

"Yes they are well, thank you for asking."

Prince Birger, sensing his impatience spoke. "What matter did you wish to discuss?"

"With the somewhat dangerous situation that has developed around me, I have come to formally request permission from Her Majesty to assemble the Lund Guard." Anastas replied simply.

None of the Royals so much as blinked in surprise.

"Your request is not unreasonable," Queen Erika commented after a moment's silence.

Anastas shifted slightly in place being careful to look restless and, very clearly, not a threat. "There are other reasons, of course, behind my request. If I may have you pledge of silence on this matter?"

"Of course," Consort Gustav agreed, interest piqued.

"There has been some disagreement within the Family regarding the appropriate venue to host the opening Anterior Courtship Ball. It was at my request that we would host it at Glitnir Castle, the primary residence of my Lund ancestors, and it is my hope to have a full Lund Guard in attendance. As no one has visited in two centuries, initial evaluations have proved that it would be an appropriate venue. As we speak, it is currently undergoing massive renovations and modernization."

At his words, the Queen's interest was obviously caught, just as he had expected. Inwardly he smiled, now if all the rest of his errands would have such a positive outcome.

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The Master Forge

Cargenven Keep, Wales

Friday the 7th of February 1975

10:25 AM

Niall carefully navigated his way around his husband's personal forge. Several house elves popped back and forth in the forge, some carrying wood for the fire, others carrying raw ore, buckets of water, or other materials. The sound of hammering allowed him to approximate his husband's location. Just as he rounded the corner he heard a loud hiss and spotted his husband lowering a red-hot sword into a bucket of water to cool.

"There you are!"

Aodh turned, frowning. "Is there a problem with Santoro's sword?"

"No it's fine; I'm having no trouble etching the runes on it. I've come about another matter."

"It's important enough to disturb my work?"

"I certainly think so," Niall commented as he withdrew a scroll from his tunic. Twisting it around in his hand, he displayed the Royal Crest of Asturias.

Aodh hummed as he stalked to a nearby sink to wash his hands. When he returned, he took the scroll and opened it.

Lord Aodh Cargenven-

Si Vales Valeo: (1)

I, Prince Anastas Evaristo Rafael Lund-Torres, Prince of Asturias, Heir to the Lund Family of Sweden and Scion of the Focalor Family of France, would like to formally request your presence and that of anyone you deem necessary at a private meeting at my home Glitnir Castle, to discuss an important business matter. It is my hope to have this gathering on Tuesday the 18th of February following a formal dinner at seven o'clock.

Your discretion is greatly appreciated in this matter. Please contact me as soon as possible regarding your attendance and the number of additional guests. If this time is inconvenient for you and yours, please let me know immediately and I will find a more suitable date and time for this meeting.


Anastas Lund-Torres

Prince of Asturias, Heir to the Lund Family of Sweden and Scion of the Focalor Family of France

Memores acti prudentes future. (Mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be. Torres Motto.)

Aut concilio aut ense. (Either by meeting or by the sword. Lund Motto)

Varium et mutabile simper femina. (Woman is always a changeable and capricious thing. Focalor Motto)

"Intriguing," Aodh murmured as he handed the scroll to his husband.

"Will we attend?"

"It would be sheer foolishness not to. Besides, it should be interesting to find out what precisely this business matter is."

Niall looked thoughtful. "Do you think it has something to do with his Adamantine mining or a commission of some sort?"

"Either would suit me but I suppose that we will find out for certain in two weeks."

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The Slytherin Common Room

Hogwarts, Scotland

Friday the 7th of February 1975

11:03 PM

Lucius stared at the three letters he had spread out on the floor in front of him. None of the letters contained any good news and the last, could easily be considered a huge setback in all his plans. For the last half hour he had done nothing but re-read them and wonder what his next step should be.

The first letter was from his father and was short and simple.


I have placed your brother in charge of providing you with the necessary studying materials for the coming trials. My role will be providing you the necessary learning enhancement potions and devices. Enclosed are several Memory Enhancing potions I had a respectable Potions Master brew and seven pieces of the famed Apples of Wisdom. Use everything wisely and especially in the appropriate dosages!

Your Father,

Abraxas Hadrian Malfoy

Patriarch of the Malfoy Family of Britain

Mundus vult decipi. (The world desires to be deceived. Malfoy Motto )

The next letter, of course, was from his brother Cassius. It was not as detailed as his father's though the books he had included made up for the terseness.


The competition will be harsh. I am looking for more books for you but study the ones enclosed for the time being.

Hawking's Wizarding Families. By: Hawking's Genealogical Press. 22 vols.

Introduction to Wizarding Etiquette. By: Angelica Prowe-Anderson. 10 vols.

"100 years of Scandal!" By: Fiona Rupert and Jacques-Pierre Marceau. Magpie Digest.

Dueling: A History. By: Professor Sebastian Hart. 12 vols.

Staff and Sword: A memoir. By: General Winslow Ives.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears. By: Edith Marlowe.

Wizarding Society. By: L.R. Yang. 40 vols.

International Laws and Regulations. By: ICMC.

Encyclopedia of Spells. By: Amon Press Co. 32 vols.

Encyclopedia of Charms. By: Amon Press Co. 40 vols.

Encyclopedia of Potions. By: Amon Press Co. 60 vols.

1,000 Memorable Duels. By: K. Richards. 10 vols.

The Art of Conversation. By: Loretta Collins. 7 vols.

Asturias. By: M. Rodriguez. 5 vols.

Your brother,

Cassius Malfoy

Heir to the Malfoy Family of Britain

Mundus vult decipi. (The world desires to be deceived. Malfoy Motto)

Finally the last letter was from Anastas and only the second letter he had received from his friend and current love interest.

Dear Lucius,

I am writing this letter from my bedroom at Torres Villa. After a month of training with the Asikis Tempest, I have successfully completed my Squall training to their satisfaction. It was pure hell the majority of the time but in the end, I gave a good show and was allowed to return home.

Unfortunately, I will not be returning to Hogwarts this year. There are simply too many things that I need to learn in the forthcoming months and though my education is important, returning to Hogwarts would be detrimental to my other obligations. Thankfully I am so far ahead in most of my subjects that I won't need any tutors and can continue my studies in my spare time. Alas, I suspect I won't have much of that in the coming months.

Though there is much work ahead of me, I will continue to write and hope that you will do the same. I'll tell you more about what I'm doing in my next letter but for now, I have to get going if I hope to make all my appointments today.

Good luck with your studies, I'll see you soon hopefully.

Yours truly,

Anastas Lund-Torres

Prince of Asturias, Heir of the Lund Family of Sweden, and Scion to the Focalor Family of France (a.k.a. the Most Beleaguered Thirteen Year Old Boy in the Wizarding World)

Memores acti prudentes future. (Mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be. Torres Motto.)

Aut concilio aut ense. (Either by meeting or by the sword. Lund Motto)

Varium et mutabile simper femina. (Woman is always a changeable and capricious thing. Focalor Motto)

Lucius snickered slightly as his eyes locked on to Anastas' parting words. He could almost see the exasperated scowl of his friend as he had scrawled the words before rushing off to some irritating gathering or another. It was that image that reassured him that even if things had not fallen out as he had hoped there was still plenty of opportunities ahead of him. He would have to settle for being Anastas' confidante for now and that alone would give him enough insight to grant him a slight edge over the other suitors.

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Belciler's Coliseum, Nineveh

Saturday the 8th of February 1975

11:00 AM

Tancred tested all the preventative spells on his robes, closely examined his sword for flaws, and methodically counted the number of potion vials and potion types he carried on his person. When he was satisfied that everything was in order, he pushed open the door to Belciler's Coliseum and entered.

Belciler's was an elite club that catered to all forms of Wizarding warfare, be it dueling by magic or by weapon and brute strength. It boasted two dozen different levels, each designed to simulate the most difficult and grueling combat situations imaginable.

The first six levels were open to anyone who could afford the basic 40,000 Galleon membership fee. Levels seven to twelve were accessible to clients with a 70,000 Galleon membership and one Magical Mastery, while levels thirteen through eighteen were open only to those with two Magical Masteries and a 125,000 Galleon membership. Nineteen through twenty-one were memorably known as Purgatory and the final three dubbed Hell; being the most elite levels access to them required a 180,000 Galleon membership, total completion of all lower levels with a perfect score, and a signed liability waiver (in the event of the client's untimely death). (2)

There was simply no better place to hone one's skill in combat and Tancred had every intention of spending every available moment training here in preparation for the Combat Ritual portion of the Anterior Courtship Rituals. As he walked into the foyer, he saw with some irritation, that he was not the only one here for that purpose. The foyer was filled with at least four dozen wizards and witches engaged in idle conversation as they waited for vacancies in the Dueling Halls.

"Tancred I would have thought you would have been in the Halls for hours! It's not like you to get such a late start." A grinning blond man called out as he strode forward.

"You're surprised? Heh, I'm amazed simply to see you out of bed before noon Leon."

The blond only shook his head. "No doubt your formidable Uncle has been nagging you ceaselessly but he's no match for my honorable Lady mother. She Flooed over to my townhouse at the crack of dawn to pry me out of bed this morning, if you can believe it!"

"Where the Lady Beatrice is involved, nothing is impossible." Tancred commented with a smile. "How is your respectable Lady mother?"

"Lady Francisca is quite well and will likely badger me to invite you to dinner now that I've finally run into you. It's been ages since we last spoke! What have you been doing?"

"As if you would understand even if I explained it in layman's terms! Now, if one of your mothers' asked, I would be more than happy to explain what I have been doing. Honestly, I could never understand how you could be so…dense when your mothers are easily the most brilliant witches in their respective fields!"

Leon groaned, "It's bad enough that hear it once a week when I go home for dinner, the last thing I need is to hear it from a friend. It's ridiculous how I'm viewed as some damned black sheep simply because I didn't pursue the tried and true path to familial glory. My regular Qudditch team has won eleven National Cups and we've won the World Cup two times since I was drafted for the National team."

Tancred sighed, "I never said that you were worthless, I personally just think it's a damned waste of your intellectual ability to ride around on a broom all day."

"At least Quidditch makes me happy which is more than I can say of what I could have been doing." Leon spat darkly.

"Calm down Leon, I can tell you've been under a great deal of stress and I apologize for teasing you."

Leon ran a hand through his wavy blond hair, trying to ease his frustration. "No, I'm sorry for ranting at you. It's just been a hellish couple of weeks and the fact that Lady Beatrice has been nagging and needling me hasn't improved my mood any. I'm not interested in pursuing the Lund-Torres heir so the fact that I've been herded into it is just annoying me."

"Have you even met him?"

"No, and honestly from what I've heard, I probably wouldn't be interested in him anyway. Apparently when my family was first introduced to him, they ended up talking about Mildred Roth's newest book on Arithmancy theorems. His views on the subject had the three of them completely entranced. Now my mothers are anxious for a match and Massimo's utterly smitten by him."

"I see," Tancred replied, sighing mentally as he added both brothers onto his list of rivals.

"If Master Leonzio Avanzo would please come forward to the front desk, his Dueling Hall is available." A loud voice boomed around the Foyer.

Leon grimaced at the use of his full name which he hated passionately. "Will you join us on Wednesday for dinner?"

"Seven as usual, at the villa in Florence?"

"Of course,"

"Then I'll be happy to; don't forget to tell your Lady mothers."

Snort. "As if I could, have a nice wait. I'll see you later in the week."

"Don't get killed."

Leon laughed as he walked away. "As if I could afford to, winter training starts in a week!"

Tancred chuckled, "And we both know how much you love the nightlife in Naples, yes."

"A man's got to have his vices, especially young men!" Leon retorted, stealing the last word.

A harassed looking wizard approached him, "Good morning and welcome to Belciler's Coliseum. If I could please see your Membership token, sir?"

Wordlessly, Tancred took out a gold token, the size of his palm and engraved with a Nundu.

"Ah, and your name?"

"Tancred Peverell, Heir of the Peverell Family of Britain and Scholar of Wizarding Rites and Relics."

The wizard duly noted his name and membership. "The wait for a Level Thirteen vacancy is at minimum forty minutes."

"I will be more than willing to wait. Is Belciler scheduling for tomorrow or the forthcoming weeks?"

"Mr. Belciler has announced that there will be a queue drawing later this week. A notice will be sent to your residence two days before the drawing."

"I see, thank you for the information." Tancred said with a nod.

The wizard gave a short bow before wandering off to gather information on those that had arrived after him. Tancred moved deeper into the foyer, carefully noting the other people gathered.

A boisterous wizard clad in royal blue robes, talking to a trio of wizards in the far corner, was Aubrey Kissinger if memory served. The wizard was in his early thirties and was a world-renown Law Wizard. His companions were Colum Mahoney a well known American Hit Wizard, Harvard de Vigny a Canadian Unspeakable, and Reginald Holloway a British Undersecretary of the Department of Magical Transportation.

A lone wizard in black robes leaning against the large fountain turned out to be his nemesis Quian Wen. Tancred's eyes narrowed in annoyance. The Specialization trials would be difficult enough even without another competitor in the same exact Specialization. What made it even more irritating was that Quian and he were often neck and neck in their field. It would appear that he would need to do some intense study and practice in his own Specialization.

Quian, who had finally noticed him, smiled slightly as he moved forward to intercept him. "Peverell, how surprising to meet you outside of an excavation,"

"I could say the same of you Quian."

For several heartbeats the two simply stared at each other. Quian broke the contest when he spoke.

"I suppose that we are both here for the same reasons."

Tancred raised an eyebrow. "I would venture a guess that almost everyone in Belciler's is here for the same exact reason."

"True enough," Quian agreed with a slow smile. "He's quite beautiful and well connected."


"My cousin Li Cheng seems quite enamored of him. I saw him on the way out when I arrived."

"It's said that his proposal has already been accepted, his presence here is no surprise. Of course, the two have already met and have already developed a friendship of sorts. At least, that is what I have observed." Tancred commented.

Quian's eyes narrowed slightly at the perceived barb. He, as Tancred knew, had not actually had the pleasure of meeting Lund-Torres. "Friendship is always valuable but it is not enough to build a successful, lifelong relationship."

Tancred smirked; his dark eyes alight with amusement. "And you would know, of course."

Quian colored partly in rage and partly out of embarrassment. He had been engaged to the youngest daughter of the previous Consul but the engagement had been dissolved two weeks before the nuptials were to take place. Rumors had run amok afterwards but no one truly could say what exactly caused such an advantageous engagement to fall apart. Tancred had a few intriguing ideas but wisely kept them to himself, saving them for a more appropriate time and place.

Fortunately Quian was called away before the two could switch from exchanging sly insults to dangerous spells.

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The Basement

The Golden Hind, Western Antioch

Saturday the 8th of February 1975

12:02 PM

Murdoch nearly spat out his mouthful of Firewhisky as he read the front page of Wizarding World Weekly.

Lund Guard to Assemble!

By: Jared Kinneas

Prince Anastas Lund-Torres, a Prince of Asturias, Heir to the Lund Family of Sweden and Scion of the Focalor Family of France, was given permission from Queen Erika of Sweden to formally assemble the Lund Guard yesterday. Sources within the Swedish Royal Court admitted that Prince Anastas was granted a private audience with the monarchs which lasted close to two hours.

The Royal Decree which grants Prince Anastas the right to assemble the Lund Guard was released to the public at eight o'clock this morning at the Royal Capital of Ivatholl. A comparison made between the recently written Decree and the Decree which existed in Jacob Lund's time, has resulted in a few distinct differences. While the number of Guardsmen to be assembled remain the same (3,000) Prince Anastas has been granted leave to gather Guardsmen from outside of Sweden, a distinct deviation from Swedish tradition. With his unique dual nationality, Prince Anastas' Guard will also be able to freely come and go between his residences in Sweden, Spain, France, Russia and the United States.

In the wake of this recent development, speculation has since turned to the Asturian Royal Family and the state of the Asturian Court. Last month it was announced that Prince Anastas was to undertake the Cuélebre Slaying at Midsummer. Further details concerning the Asturian Rite have yet to be revealed.

The following article on page 2 is, in fact, a formal letter composed by Prince Anastas with information to anyone who may be interested in joining his Guard.

Murdoch quickly swallowed his Firewhisky before hurriedly turning the page.

Greetings to all,

I, Anastas Evaristo Rafael Lund-Torres, Prince of Asturias, Heir to the Lund Family of Sweden and Scion of the Foclaor Family of France,

Formally seek the services of qualified adult wizards or witches who possess the following qualities.

Skill in magical and physical combat, both defense and offense

Loyal and discrete

Willing to work in dangerous situations

Adaptable and open-minded

Requirements, which absolutely must be met:

Ability to speak fluently in English and at least one other language

Is legally an adult in one's home country, territory, place of birth etc

A Graduate degree from a primary Wizarding School or equivalent (a graduate degree from a secondary institution or a Mastery is preferred)

Non-criminal history is preferred. I will accept those with a criminal history if they currently do not have any outstanding warrants and if their criminal history does not include the following: rape, murder, use of Unforgiveables, abuse of illegal substances or prohibited spells used for torture. I reserve the right to eliminate anyone convicted of any other questionable offenses that do not fall in the category of those four crimes.

This is a full-time position and will require relocation

All Guardsmen accepted are required to sign a thirty-year service contract and swear a Wizard's Oath to keep secret all my affairs and actions.

All Guardsmen accepted will, without question, undergo any additional training I deem necessary.

Benefits include:

Room and board, plus meals

Allowance for weapons, armor and clothes

Full medical care

Forty-five days of vacation, fourteen days of emergency leave, and twenty-one days of sick leave

Regular pay is 100 Galleons a week. Bonuses will be awarded for active combat or merit, each incident will be awarded 20 additional Galleons and is unlimited.

Death benefits include: 10,000 Galleons bestowed to individual(s) of your designation and a full-service funeral of your choosing.

Retirement options begin at 2,500 Galleons and increase depending on one's record of service and length of service.

Interested individuals that meet these requirements are required to:

1) Send a formal Letter of Introduction-- enclosed with a writ of identity and a copy of official graduate degree(s) and school records.

2) All Letters and enclosed documents are to be addressed to the following:

Secured Evaluation Chamber

Fensalir Hall, Sweden

3) Letters must be received no later than 11:00PM EEST, Sunday March 1st 1975.

All qualified parties will receive a notice no later than 11:00PM EEST, Sunday March 16th, stating the time and location where assessment tests will be conducted. Testing may take up to two weeks depending on the number of attendees, room and board will be provided free of charge.

Prospective guardsmen should come prepared to face any and every situation (un)imaginable.

I look forward to working with you,

Anastas Evaristo Rafael Lund-Torres

Murdoch wasn't sure what, if anything, to think of this strange announcement. Instinctively he knew that it heralded nothing but trouble and would make keeping an eye on his comrades that much more difficult. Still the boy had brains, he had to admit, and knew what he was looking for and how to get what he wanted.

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The Fairy Mirror

Vals-sans-retour, Broceliande Forest, France

Monday the 10th of February 1975

1:00 AM

It had taken three days to melt the ice covered Fairy Mirror; three tedious nights working in near darkness so that his presence remained undetected by the other forest dwellers. The Muggles had access to a very small portion of Broceliade and the ancient forest was filled with magics and creatures best left undisturbed. Here at the doorway of Vals-sans-retour stood the Fairy's Mirror, a minor body of water that acted as a border between the Muggle portion of the forest and the Wizarding.

A variety of Charms layered into an elaborate web spread across the forest had kept stragglers from wandering near the Mirror until he had completed his business. He would be long gone before the forest dwellers noticed his presence and should they choose to investigate the matter they would find remnants of a ritual older than the forest itself. They would keep their distance after that discovery, as he very well knew.

All of his most urgent plans had been taken care of and the rest would wait until his return.

Anastas had painstakingly carved out all the necessary runes in a large spiral that centered along the shore of the Fairy's Mirror, a process that had taken two full nights as the ground was frozen solid. When he had arrived today, he had filled the runes with a sticky paste made of raw Timeturner Dust mixed with crushed amaranth petals, lotus nectar, and hydra scales. Using a Levitation Charm, he floated above the center of the Fairy's Mirror as he carefully emptied a vial of peach liquid into the rippling waters below. As the last drop in the vial fell into the sacred waters of the Fairy's Mirror, Anastas directed himself to the very beginning of the spiral of runes.

Without hesitation he removed a single phoenix feather from a pouch at his waist and dropped it unerringly onto the very first rune in the spiral. The moment it made contact with the paste filled rune, the feather burst into flames as it devoured the flammable paste. Within seconds the paste was completely consumed and the orange-red phoenix fire turned a blinding white as it sought out sustenance. The air was filled with the scent of burning flowers and melting earth as the phoenix fire jumped to the next closest rune as if it were alive and sentient.

Pleased that everything was proceeding smoothly, Anastas drifted back to his former location above the center of the Fairy's Mirror. He watched the phoenix fire enforce the power of his runes which in turn would sustain his ritual while the waters of the Fairy's Mirror heated below him. As the fire came closer to the shore and the final rune, Anastas shifted his position in the air, turning himself upside down so he was headfirst over the water. The instant the last rune caught fire, he released the Levitation Charm and plunged like a rock towards the water. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see the phoenix fire jump onto the surface of the water, igniting the liquid in the vial. Holding his breath, he felt the flames lick at his bare skin and then his entire body was submerged in boiling hot water.

He hung suspended for only a few torturous seconds and then…his head broke the surface of a pool of temperate water.

Releasing his breath, Anastas sluiced the water from his hair and face as he looked around the lush oasis. A hot blast of wind caressed his reddened skin, encouraging him to wade out of the pool and take a few Potions to cure the surface damage done to his body.

Mocking laughter brushed along his right ear. - Home, sweet home! -

Anastas shook his head as he awkwardly clambered onto the smooth stone walkway. "Yours perhaps but this place is most certainly not mine."

- Yes, I suppose you could say that this is my home. I was 'birthed' here after all. Truly a more magnificent prison could not have been built to house me in luxurious comfort! -

"It weeded out the greedy didn't it?" Anastas murmured as he took out several vials from the knapsack around his waist.

Phantom fingers brushed along the back of his neck. - So many worthless mortals left without even searching for me, lured away by the perpetual riches left on this island. Then when the power hungry came, I ate them and remained trapped here. Those were dull days… -

Anastas drank his potions and then stood up. "I'm exhausted. Which way is the bungalow again?"

- Follow the path bordered by orchids and turn down the third right hand path. -

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Palacio d'Asturies, Oviedo, Asturias

Monday the 10th of February 1975

6:57 AM

Evaristo stumbled in the hallway, on his way to meet his father and oldest brother in the Throne Room. Alarmed, Captain Renaldo rushed forward, taking hold of his right arm to steady his charge.

"Prince Evaristo are you well?"

Weakly Evaristo waved his Captain away. "I'm fine…I'm fine."

Renaldo frowned and reluctantly let go of the Seer. Evaristo drew a deep breath and released it with a shudder.

"That son of mine…"

"Your Serene Highness?"

Evaristo merely closed his eyes, a faint smile on his lips. "He has a long, hard road ahead of him. Change stalks his footsteps and the peace that has sheltered our world will soon break."

Renaldo felt a chill as he gazed at his charge; he was all too familiar with that expression, a look that spoke of Sight beyond the physical world.

Evaristo blindly pulled a silk handkerchief from a pocket and dabbed at the drops of blood forming along the edge of his eyes.

"What is wrong? I have never seen you like this." Renaldo questioned anxiously.

"He's made me blind." Evaristo murmured clenching the bloodstained scrap of silk.


Evaristo chuckled softly. "I never would have thought it possible Renaldo. One moment it was there before me like it has always been and in the next it vanished…as if it had never been!"

"I do not understand."

"Each Seer has a unique perception of the future. Most visualize it as a form of water, fluid and mutable. Right now, it is gone as though it had never existed. It would be like emerging from a forest and seeing a desert where an ocean should be."

Renaldo simply stared, aghast. "What could have happened to cause such a…reaction?"

"Not a 'what' but a 'who'."

"Prince Anastas?"

"There could be no other likely suspect. But why now, I wonder?" Evaristo muttered as he opened his eyes.

Renaldo said nothing and after a few minutes to regain his bearings, Evaristo continued on his way to the Throne Room.

It was a meeting that he had hoped he would never have to schedule but a stroke of ill luck had set an unfortunate set of events in motion. The timing could not have been more inconvenient and Evaristo could only ponder whether it had been an accident of fate or a deliberate human manipulation. He could only hope, for their sakes, that it was the former.

There were few things that Evaristo regretted but his absence from the Asturian Court on a cold December night some nineteen years ago was one of them. So much heartache and bitterness could have been avoided if only he had been closer by. The following incident had proven to be a rude awakening to the Torres' Family but at least measures had been taken to avoid the entrapment of another of their kin. Still, it was most unfortunate that Cyril had to pay the price.

Now Ramona and he were likely to pay an even greater price for letting their reckless passion get away from them. It was one thing to pursue such a forbidden love while one of the pair was married and bound by a very strict marriage contract, but it was quite another for that love to bear fruit. The first was scandalous, would lead to expulsion from the Family, as well as other punishments, but the latter…that was literally a treasonous offense.

Treason in Asturias had always been paid for in blood, and most of the blood that was spilt on the executioner's block belonged to Wizards and Witches who had committed crimes due to aspirations beyond their reach. A select portion of that blood, however, had belonged to Royals who had committed or tried to commit crimes against the Family or against their monarch. The Torres Family had no mercy for traitors, blood or no.

Evaristo could only wonder what fate awaited his unlucky cousins.

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Unknown location

Anastas carefully made his way to the center of the island. A hot summer wind carried the scent of exotic flowers in full bloom mixed with the salty ocean air.

The island as a whole was largely misleading. It was completely circular, perhaps no more than a mile and half wide and was eternally in the thrall of summer. While there appeared to be an endless ocean, it was nothing more than an elaborate illusion. The vegetation that existed on the island, while real, was biologically impossible to coexist. Tropical palms bloomed alongside stately willow trees and flowering cherry and apple trees, paths were lined with orchids, amaranth, snowdrops and lilies.

A natural spring spawned the natural rock-lined pool that he had arrived through. Rough beaten paths led away from the pool at the heart of the island, leading to a comfortable bungalow, a dozen stone altars, and a large garden filled with herbs and vegetables. Aside from the vegetables and herbs, fruits, nuts and mushrooms could be gathered in the surrounding forest and fish could be found in a wide creek that bisected the island. It was something like a private retreat, only it had existed long before such a concept was ever dreamt of and, of course, it existed in a separate plane of existence.

From what little his companion was able to tell him, the island was loosely connected to the world at large and was accessible only via certain locations and under special conditions. The mysterious Creator that had made his parasitic companion had likewise made this island and had left the parasite here to be found. All but one of the altars had some sort of treasure ranging from chests full of gold and silver, to priceless gems and fabrics, rare magical ingredients and crystals.

Anastas had used the island in his world as a safe haven, one only to be used on the rare occasion he was grievously injured or in need of supplies. It was an ideal location as it was secure and, most importantly, time was almost suspended in this world. He could spend months here and return to the real world and find that only a few hours had passed. He had already determined that he could not afford to stay more than half a year here or when he arrived back in the real world, he would be too distanced from events. That should be more than enough time to begin to work through his past and decide what he would do next.

Anastas arrived by the pool and took a seat along the edge, closing his eyes he drew in a deep breath and plunged into his darkest memory. The one from which all his fears stemmed, the one that gave him strength to carry on, but also made him doubt his intentions. All the emotions of betrayal and guilt paled in comparison to the sharp, bitter taste of truth that this memory held for him.

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It was almost over. The battlefield was bloodstained and devoid of all life save this one before him. On the ground, Voldemort lay gasping as his lifeblood pumped from his body.

"It's finally done," Harry whispered, wiping his cheek with his robe sleeve.

Voldemort wheezed, "You may have killed me Potter…but I have won."

Harry's dull eyes stared down at him. "What can you possibly mean? I've executed all your servants, destroyed all your strongholds, and undone all the evil that you freely wrecked on the Wizarding World."

"And what have you become in the process? How many have you killed? The world that remains is nothing…but a shadow of what once…was." Voldemort gasped out, chuckling softly. "You have been from the very beginning…my tool. My will has been carried out…through you! If I cannot remake this world then I…will…see…it…burn."

"No," Harry cried out in disbelief. "No! I have never been your tool! Never!"

Voldemort grinned. "Oh but you have, silly boy. Don't you think it strange…that the Goblins gave Weasley…that scroll? Have you ever…known a Goblin…to do something for nothing? When the tunnels collapsed in Rasha'ule…did you not wonder how you…survived unscathed? I led you across the world…continent by continent…and you were only too happy…to follow like a rampaging…dragon! How many innocent people…were unwittingly sacrificed…to your Maelstroms? Can you count the thousands who…starved to death in their wake? How many invoked…your name hoping to be saved…and in turn….how many reviled you for…the terrible price of that…salvation?"

Harry stared, unable to look away and unable to refute the possible truth in those words.

"Death comes…for me…now. But you…will remain as…my precious legacy...to this…corrupt and misbegotten…world. Wallow…in guilt…and madness…until eternity's end…my…beloved…enemy! May the world…tremble in fear…

Dark…Lord…Moros." Voldemort choked out, blood covered lips twisted into a smirk, and his crimson eyes alight with malice.

Harry watched as Voldemort finally went still, awareness fading from those once bright eyes.

"Was he telling the truth?" Harry whispered, his whole body shaking unsteadily.

He waited for an answer but received none-- which was answer enough.

Throwing his head back, he let out a howl of pure agony and let the Diablo take him.

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Anastas jerked out of the memory as the taste of bile filled his mouth. He twisted his head to the side and vomited until his stomach was empty. Even though his body felt warm, he felt chilled to the core inside.

- It still galls you, does it not? That he was able to make you play the fool to the very end? - A sly voice whispered.

"He was more cunning than I ever gave him credit for." Anastas agreed bitterly as he cast a few spells to clean up the mess.

Cool fingers trailed through his hair. - Voldemort is proof that even in madness there is brilliance. He was a dangerous foe. His counterpart, if he exists in this world, must have taken a different path to power, or you would have seen the signs of his presence already. -

"Perhaps…or maybe my time in Azkaban has weakened me."

- Do not be foolish! You are as healthy and strong as I can make you. If you feel any less, that is simply because you are out of practice. As long as I have known you, you have despised any perceived weakness on your part. -

Anastas wiped his forehead of sweat and chuckled mirthlessly. "I came here to come to terms with the past but how the fuck can I just let the past go? Especially that last memory? Victory at that price is no victory at all and it is my fault that such a thing even happened! I have no identity of my own; every thought or action I undertook was solely the product of other people's desires or outright manipulations!"

- Think of that memory as a festering wound, it is time to cleanse the wound and heal. Never forget what has passed but do not expect what passed to re-occur here. You are an unknown in this world. - Fingertips traced idle patterns along his back, causing Anastas to shiver. - Yes, you were a tool that was used but you are no longer that naïve boy. I have granted you power beyond what these foolish mortals could dream of in their wildest fantasies. The only thing that remains undecided is what you wish to do with that power. -

"You make everything sound so easy to do but it's not."

- I can make it that easy, as you know. If you wish, I can dull the emotional reaction you have to that memory or any others. You need a clear head if you are going to play such a dangerous game. I cannot lose you after all… -

Anastas narrowed his eyes. "I suppose that's a more subtle way of saying that I should yield to you?"

Breathy laughter fanned his ear. - I wish you would yield to me but all will pass in due time. Power attracts power, sooner or later he will seek you out. Until he does, and until you are able to evaluate him thoroughly, I would suggest that you simply immerse yourself fully into the image you project to the world. There are many facets to Anastas Lund-Torres and though only a few are shown to the world, all of them need to be properly cut and smoothed. -

Anastas got to his feet, "I think I need a good workout."

- I wish you were less influenced by those foolish mortal tendencies and more like myself. Then you would not need to come to this lavish prison to reflect on your humanity or lack thereof. -

"If I were anything like you, the world would exist only at my whim."

A feather light kiss pressed against his lips, causing him to recoil and almost fall into the pool at his back. - Exactly! Then I would have all of your attention to myself and no longer have to share you with lower life forms. -

"I'd sooner kiss a Dementor…" Anastas muttered as he stalked away.

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Palacio d'Asturies, Oviedo, Spain

Tuesday the 11th of February 1975

10:17 AM

Anastas nodded to a few courtiers as he made his way to the Private Receiving Room his grandfather favored, wondering curiously what sort of meeting was taking place. He had arrived in Luarca a bare twenty minutes ago before being told that his father was not in residence. Then when he had arrived at the Palacio, a grim faced guard had tersely informed him of his father's current location. There was a strange tension in the Palacio, one that he had instantly detected when he had arrived. Something was not right and likely whatever was causing it had something to do with however was in Private Receiving Room.

The door ward glowed a vibrant gold, a clear warning that the meeting taking place was not to be interrupted unless there was an emergency. Frowning at having wasted his time for nothing, Anastas quickly cast a Recording Charm on the gilt mirror across from the warded doors and left his father a message.

"I've returned and will be browsing my ACR proposals and selecting the appropriate trials. Unless you have any objections, I will take residence here at the Palacio until the end of the week and perhaps longer. Please find me at your earliest convenience."

Finished, Anastas quickly turned back around and headed upstairs to the adjoining Private Study rooms attached to the main library. The pair of guardsmen let him in without question as he was one of the five people allowed to enter this particular room.

To prevent any tampering, the room was heavily warded and guarded by Royal Guardsmen. A veritable mountain of scrolls littered every available surface in the room and Anastas groaned softly at the daunting task before him.

This was the first time that he had actually seen the number of ACR proposals he had received and if he remembered correctly, all the approved or rejected proposals would have been moved to a separate room. Turning to the mirror next to the door, he tapped it with his wand.

An exhausted image of his father appeared. "As of 9:00PM February 10th, 7,298 ACR proposals have been received. Of those proposals 3,588 have been rejected, 1,626 have been accepted and 2,084 have yet to be read and/or evaluated. 972 of the accepted proposals are from haute monde members, 409 accepted proposals are from non-member Purebloods, 212 accepted proposals are from Halfbloods and the remaining 33 accepted proposals are from Muggleborns.

"All proposals that have yet to be sorted and sent by haute monde members are located to the right side of the room and proposals sent by Pureblood non-members are located on the upraised tables on the left side of the room. Proposals sent by Halfblood and Muggleborn wizards and witches have been placed on the floor on the left hand side of the room. To increase the efficiency of the sorting process, all proposals to be rejected should be sent via the open fireplace while approved proposals are to be placed in the Vanishing Cabinet. Lord Salandra, the Seneschal, was kind enough to offer the services of the Royal Clerks who will send personalized messages to all the approved suitors. Everyone who has access to the proposals has sworn an Unbreakable Vow to keep their silence regarding the entire selection, approval or rejection process."

Anastas smiled slightly, "They've done quite well for themselves. I suppose it's time that I do my share."

Walking over to the right hand side of the room, he paused seeing that it had been further divided. A podium filled with ribbons and notes explained the system of organization.

Ribbon Code

Purple Royalty

Blue Nobility

White Commoners

Red Female

Green Male

1 stripe 14-19 years old

2 stripes 20-26 years old

3 stripes 27-32 years old

4 stripes 33-38 years old

Black Unread

Yellow Undecided

"Seems simple enough," Anastas muttered, turning to the largest of the piles of scrolls, that belonging to the so-called 'commoners'. As far as he had been able to tell, all the Royals had already been sorted out leaving only two stacks of Blue and White ribbon wrapped scrolls. Spotting a few Yellow ribbons, Anastas took the topmost scroll and unbound it, nearly dropping the extra scrolls and other contents.

Cursing, he bear-hugged the contents and headed for the only clear desk in the room and dropped his burden on the oak surface. Quickly sorting the papers out into order, he started with the formal Letter of Intention.

Cras amet qui nunquam amavit; quique amavit, cras amet. (3)

Prince Evaristo Torres-

Si Vales Valeo (1)

I, Tancred Mithra Peverell Heir to the Peverell Family of Britain, would formally request the honor of engaging in Anterior Courtship Rituals with your son, Prince Anastas Evaristo Rafael Lund-Torres. Per your requirements, I have only recently celebrated my thirty-fifth birthday and have never been married. It is my wish to further my acquaintance with your son and should we be suited, take him as my husband.

Unlike the deluge of ACR requests you are likely to receive, I will not waste valuable ink or parchment to boast of my ability to provide for your honored son. Instead, I have enclosed all the appropriate forms. Facts, I have found, are worthier by far than idle boasts.


Tancred Peverell,

Heir to the Peverell Family

Scholar of Ancient Rites and Relics

Sine scientia ars nihil est (Without knowledge, skill is nothing. Peverell Motto.)

Anastas frowned thoughtfully, Tancred Peverell…he was sure he had met this person at one of the gatherings but which one? Ah, that was right! This was the one his Uncle Apolinar had introduced him to. He remembered that wizard, he was intelligent and interesting as he recalled. Curiosity piqued, Anastas continued reading the rest of the papers.

The Letter of Introduction was witty and filled with interesting facts about the older wizard and the enclosed family trees were eye-opening. He had not been aware that the Peverell Family could claim both Ravenclaw and Slytherin ties. The physical and magical assessments were in perfect order as far as he could tell.

Peverell's Academic Record contained a primary school graduate degree from the Marcovicci Institute, a secondary degree from the Eastern School of Traditional Arts and Rituals, and a Mastery degree in Rites and Relics signed by seven acclaimed Masters. A careful study of the academic papers showed just how intelligent the other wizard was, having graduated with some of the highest overall scores in over a century and completely shattering the Arithmancy and Ancient Runes scores. No doubt the latter was the reason why Peverell had chosen to pursue Rites and Rituals further.

Two ten foot scrolls detailed Peverell's accomplishments as a Scholar of Ancient Rites and Relics, which impressed him so much that Anastas decided that he'd accept the Peverell proposal. He skimmed the remaining scrolls detailing current and inheritable assets, tentative dates and plans for chaperoned outings, a prospective marriage contract, and details regarding a prospective marriage ceremony.

"A very worthy contact," Anastas commented as he re-bound all the scrolls and then placed the scroll in the Vanishing Cabinet. "Now, if the rest of these are nearly as interesting…"

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The Formal Receiving Room

Asikis Hall, Rhodope Mountains, Greece

Saturday the 15th of February 1975

9:25 AM

Sarpedon Asikis was unhappy.

When Odysseus had first contacted him regarding the Incident with Anastas Lund-Torres, Sarpedon had been intrigued. The young tiercel had promise by the sounds of things and truthfully, should have been instructed by a Squall Harpy in the first place. He had come away from his first meeting with the Lund-Torres heir feeling pleased; the boy was intelligent and well-mannered. That indicated that he would take to instruction well.

Later he had regretted thinking so idealistically. The boy had been an utter failure. His control had been poor, his temper far too easily roused, and his focus had been deplorable. Sarpedon had feared that he would lose his own formidable temper should he continue instructing the boy and had, instead, given the young tiercel to his second son Zayle to train.

That had not gone any better and, towards the end of their training; Zayle had been close to losing his own temper. Which boded ill considering Zayle was the least temperamental Squall of all the Asikis Tempests.

Then came the day where the tiercel had proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he could literally advance by leaps and bounds. What had triggered his sudden epiphany, Sarpedon and Zayle could only wonder but it had been memorable and far, far too unnerving.

Zayle had been lucky. He'd survived the initial bouts and while he hadn't walked away from them on his own two feet, he had not endured any long-lasting damage. That had been a relief and, truthfully, unexpected. Now that the Healers had given Zayle permission to do leave his bed, Sarpedon was now the unfortunate host to a full convening of the Harpy Council.

Ordinarily such gatherings where held on completely neutral territory due to the fact that having so many Squalls in a limited area was always a bad idea but, as they needed Zayle's testimony and that of others present, Sarpedon had no choice but to hold the meeting at his Hall. The seasoned Squall could only hope that the wards and his Hall would survive the meeting intact.

At the moment, he was the only Harpy present. The six other Harpies that staffed the Central Council were not due to arrive for another ten minutes, and the remaining twenty-eight members that formed the Advisory Council would not arrive until ten o'clock. That would give him enough time to give the Central Council members a brief report on the matter and his impressions before the Advisors could cause problems. It would happen, he knew. The majority of the Council had not been pleased to learn that a wizard-born Harpy had emerged and that displeasure had only deepened when they learned that he was a Squall, no less.

There existed a very tenuous peace between the Harpies and the Wizarding World, and the Lund-Torres heir's mere existence threatened that peace.

He was the first wizard-born Squall to emerge and he was descended of such unique Wizarding breeding that it was almost a guarantee that he could not be assimilated into a Harpy Tempest. That fact was the source from which discord would be sown by the advisors.

Even after Archelaus won their freedom, the danger had never passed. Wizards continued to be intrigued at the raw power and potential the Harpies were capable of unleashing. The only thing that had stopped them from trying to conquer them outright was the fact that of the nearly 60,000 Harpies in existence, around 3,000 of them were Squalls.

A single Squall could unleash massive amounts of destruction on a regular and repeated basis without tiring, as Archelaus had proven. Even a small group of Halcyons working together could cause a single, large disruption in a slightly smaller area. That disruption, however, would occur on a large enough scale to buy the Halcyons enough time to retreat until a proper Squall could arrive and eliminate any remaining threats. Only a few small skirmishes in the first century of their freedom had tested the Harpies but once that defense had proven impregnable, that had stayed the hand of even the most ambitious Dark Wizard.

Now the Council was gathering to evaluate just how much of a threat the Lund-Torres heir was to the Harpy way of life.

Sarpedon knew, as he had been present, that the boy could either be the salvation of their way of life or the destroyer of it. For a young tiercel, Anastas was powerful and possessed numerous and rare therapontes. Even if a more experienced Squall challenged him it was impossible to say who would survive such an encounter. That boded well, in the sense that Anastas could repel unscrupulous wizards at his own leisure but, if his own nature ever led him down a darker path, it would be the undoing of their species. Yet the possibility existed that if they dared to act outright against the tiercel, such an action could incite the rest of the Wizarding World and lead to a war that neither would walk away from without significant losses.

Sarpedon had had weeks to brood about what they could do and so far, he had not found a single ideal solution to this particular quandary. In the end, their best option was to simply wait and see what would happen. Any actions taken before the situation truly deteriorated would either enflame the situation or cause it to explode, forcing them down a single path. He was fairly certain that the Central Council would agree with him on the matter but the members of the Advisory Council were likely to cause some sort of problem in the name of 'observation'.

That meant that all the Central Council would have to be extremely vigilant. The Wizards would not take too kindly to their spying on their affairs and they could not risk alienating the tiercel outright. It was better that he remain indifferent to the Harpies as a whole than to despise them whole-heartedly.

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The Entrance Hall

Glitnir Hall, Sweden

Tuesday the 18th of February 1975

6:30 PM

Anastas idly straightened the gold sheet of silk wrapped around his torso. His fourteen guests were due to arrive in less than ten minutes but as he had guessed, none of them had refused his invitation.

The renovations had been halted for the evening but a few hours of halted work would not cause a delay fortunately. Anastas had made his plans known to only his father, who had agreed it was best to keep the meeting secret for the time being.

Looking around the room, he was pleased to note that the extensive renovations on this floor were complete. Glitnir Hall truly shone brightly, both inside and out. He'd used a series of complex Potions, combined with Transfiguration Charms to alter the very stones of the Hall from the plain, white and silver veined marble to the glowing iridescent Whimsy Stone that his parasite had taught him to re-create. Said stone was bright and glowed with a rainbow-like iridescence that was both captivating and extremely practical. The artificially created stone was highly resistant to all forms of magic and stronger than diamond, which made it nigh indestructible.

Of course the fact that only he knew how to create Whimsy Stone would likely gain him even greater prestige and wealth in this world. After his Granduncle had seen and tested the imperviousness of the stone firsthand, he had agreed to oversee the alteration of the Palacio which would begin sometime in the forthcoming spring.

The gentle murmur of water and birdsong mixed with the exotic perfume of flowers drifted from the large lounging garden he'd added to the main floor. He had decided to install it to provide a relaxing atmosphere and to intrigue his guests with the maze-like garden. It was lavishly furnished with plush furniture and private nooks all with built in Privacy or Sound Dampening Charms, which could be activated at the users' discretion.

Tonight, would be the first trial to see how well his alterations were received and Anastas looked forward to it. Truthfully his paranoia and desire for comfort had lead to the renovation. If such an excessive display of architectural advancement also happened to impress others than it was all worthwhile effort, in his opinion.

: They have come. :

Anastas swiftly strode towards the nearby garden entrance, wanting to make an impressive arrival as well as see their expressions. Excited voices filled the hall as his guests entered and took in the beautiful decorations and the lush garden.

At the lead of the group was Chanan Najafian, a tall Arab man dressed in purple robes. Next to him was his son Rimmon Najafian, a talented Cursebreaker whose ACR proposal had already been approved. The graying blond behind them was Aodh Cargenven who walked with his dark haired husband Niall and their oldest son Eoghan. Li Jie strode gracefully between his two sons Li Wu and Li Naosuke. A dark blonde woman in sapphire robes was Teresa Moreno and the brunet next to her was her son and heir, Benito. The Liatos brothers, Hesiod and Solon, had dark, curly brown hair and were dressed in their Family's aqua and black. Bringing up the rear of the dinner party were the two dark haired Lafayette men, Etienne and Sylvester.

"Good evening, I am pleased that you were able to find the time to meet with me. Please be welcome in Glitnir Hall." Anastas greeted as he emerged from the garden.

His guests startled a little at his abrupt, and soundless, appearance.

Chanan Najafian recovered first. "Good evening, the honor is ours I assure you Prince Anastas. You have a truly beautiful home."

"Thank you, I am happy to see that the alterations are pleasing to the eye."

"I've never seen anything quite so magnificent," Hesiod Liatos exclaimed animated.

Anastas grinned slowly, "The Whimsy Stone is quite eye catching, wouldn't you agree? It took to Glitnir like a Ramora to a ship."

"Whimsy Stone? I've never heard of it." Aodh Cargenven commented.

"I would be surprised if you had. Until a few months ago, it didn't exist."

His guests, well mannered as they were, gaped.

Anastas chuckled, "I created it with a combination of Potions and Transfiguration Charms. All in all, it was a very complex and time consuming alteration but well worth the time and effort."

"Indeed," Li Jie agreed, dark eyes thoughtful.

"There is just enough time to give you a brief tour of the first floor before dinner is served, if you'll follow me?" Anastas asked as his guests fell into step behind him.

The tour was short, allowing his guests brief glimpses into the Receiving Rooms, the Lounges, the Coat Room and the Dining Rooms. Several expressed a desire to see the garden but Anastas told them that they would see it after dinner. He had the House Elves prepare dinner in the Formal Dining Room, which could seat a ridiculous number of guests but tonight, only had a single long table set. The south and western walls were entirely covered with large paneled windows, allowing guests to see the spectacular view of the large waterfall several miles behind Glitnir Hall.

After guests had been served drinks and the first course served, conversation was once again struck up.

"I was very surprised to get your letter; your father had told me several weeks ago that you were undergoing training by Elder Asikis." Hesiod Liatos commented before savoring the Ambrosius bottled white wine.

Anastas selected several pieces of exotic fruits from around the world before answering, "I finished my training at the beginning of this month to the satisfaction of Elder Asikis."

Teresa Moreno, the only witch present, questioned. "And what will you do now? Return to Hogwarts?"

"I've decided not to return this year. There are far too many things that I must learn that either is not taught at Hogwarts or that can only be instructed by a select few. My father agreed that it was best if I continue my education with private tutors for the time being, so that I might carry out other obligations. At least for this year, I've not yet decided what I shall do next year."

Li Jie nodded, "I admit I wondered why you chose Hogwarts. Not to say that it is not a good school but a person of your station might do better at one of the premier schools like the Trowynt Academy for example."

"I considered several schools but settled with Hogwarts due to my previous background. Having been Muggle-raised the majority of my life, I thought attending Hogwarts might be the best place to transition into proper Wizarding society. The adjustment was not difficult but, I admit, the classes have not proven much of a challenge yet." Anastas glanced over at Sylvester Lafayette and Benito Moreno, who sat next to each other across the table and several chairs down from him. "As I recall, you both attended the Trowynt Academy for Natural Studies, how would you say the school ranked overall?"

The two exchanged quick looks to see who would speak first and surprisingly, Sylvester gestured for Benito to answer first.

"Well as the name of the school implies, it largely focuses on Natural studies which largely is Potions, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and Healing. It was a good, specialized school."

"I agree and would add that the professors are some of the best in the world." Sylvester added.

Anastas ate a piece of kiwi. "My cousin Prince Guiomar will be attending next year but I do not think the school would suit me personally. I find none of the subjects difficult or particularly interesting."

Rimmon Najafian cleared his throat. "Have you considered the Marcovicci Institute or the Eastern School of Traditional Arts and Rituals?"

"The high standards and variety of classes would suit me at either school but there are, of course, security concerns. Perhaps after the Lund Guard is fully assembled and properly assessed by my Granduncle, the Warlord-Prince, I may be allowed to pursue information about the schools further." Anastas replied as the first course of fruits and nuts was cleared from the table and replaced with the second course consisting of a variety of breads and salads.

About six minutes later, after everyone was served, Anastas initiated conversation.

"I expect that by next week, father and I will begin accepting invitations to gatherings since all the ACR proposals have been properly sorted and only need to be reviewed. Of course, with father's busy schedule, it is likely we will only have enough time to accept three or four invitations a week."

Teresa raised her eyebrows. "Is that so? Do you have a preference yet?"

"I admit I am not overly fond of dinners or dances, the latter because dancing is too restrictive and the former can be repetitive. I would rather see some Dueling exhibitions or live musical or theatrical performances."

Li Jie smiled, "There will be a Martial Arts Exhibition in Beijing in two weeks. I'm sure my son Cheng would be more than happy to escort you."

"My nephews Sophus and Tycho are debuting their Spring collection in Milan next weekend and my granddaughter will be playing with the Athens Symphony for the next month." Hesiod added.

"Vittore said something about an Intercontinental Dueling Event taking place in Rome next month." Eoghan Cargenven reported.

Chanan sipped his wine. "My daughter Shirin will be dancing in Nineveh with her troop three weeks from Friday."

Anastas smiled politely and quickly cut the guests off before more invitations could be extended. "I do not know if having an escort would be acceptable yet but feel free to send invitations anyway. Father will not have any objections if I decide to do some socializing."

"Speaking of your father, why isn't he present?" Aodh asked curiously.

"The nature of this gathering is private and he agreed that the less that was known about it, the better. As this gathering is purely business orientated, no one objected to my hosting it here at my main residence. Glitnir is impregnable and even without it being staffed by my Guard, I am more than capable of defending myself." Anastas answered wryly.

Conversation switched to discussions about Glitnir Hall, the Lund-Torres assets, subtle inquires about the ACR trials, and his opinion on current events. Five courses later and Anastas led his guests to the garden. They were impressed with the variety of Ever-Blooming plants and the relaxing atmosphere.

Anastas stretched his wings, feathers brushing against flowering trees. "Now we have arrived to the main purpose behind this gathering. As you have no doubt already heard, I have been tasked with slaying the Cuélebre this Midsummer. Asturian tradition strictly dictates that my magic will be Bound leaving me with simple brute force to subdue and slay the creature. I have gathered you this evening because I desire to purchase several items with which I would like to commission Master Solon and the Cargenvens to fabricate a weapon."

The guests looked at each other, intrigued. The Moreno Family specialized in magical flora, the Li in magical creature goods, the Najafian in Re'em goods, the Lafayette in wand woods, the Liatos in artistic crafts, and the Cargenven in crystals, mining, and the crafting of weapons or armor. What sort of weapon would require items from all these Families?

"What precisely do you require?" Teresa asked.

"From the Lafayette's, I need two trunks of the oldest Yew. I'll need ten pounds of spun Demiguise hair, twenty pounds of spun Acromantula silk, and five pounds each of eggshells from Hungarian Horntails and Peruvian Vipertooths from the Li Family. From the Najafian's I require one hundred and twenty gallons of fresh Re'em blood from bulls in their prime." Anastas handed Teresa a list. "This is a list of what I'll require from your Family. As for the others, I wish to commission Master Aodh to create the weapon and Master Niall to carve the runes for it. Master Solon will do some specialized gem cutting for me. Should you all accept my proposition that is."

"When do you need the items?" Chanan asked knowing that no more details would be coming.

"The sooner I receive the items the better. This is no ordinary weapon I'm commissioning, as you can no doubt already guess, and because of that I need the absolute best. I'm willing to pay extremely well for these items and your silence regarding my purchases and this gathering."

Li Naosuke glanced at his father and then spoke. "You'll have your items by Friday at the latest. Where would you like the items delivered?"

"Give me a time and I'll pick it up personally from your main residence or an office if you prefer."


Etienne Lafayette, who had not spoken much at all, glanced at him shrewdly. "You are aware that a single trunk alone is worth 1,000 Galleons? For two aged Yew trunks you could be paying up to 10,000 Galleons."

"And it would be worth every Galleon." Anastas countered.

"We'll owl you by Thursday."

The Moreno Matriarch studied the list of plants and the amount needed. "I can have this for you by Thursday afternoon."

Chanan Najafian only shook his head bemused. "If you have 60,000 Galleons, I can retrieve the Re'em blood tonight."

Anastas nodded and turned to the three Cargenvens and the two Liatos brothers.

"What say you, gentlemen?"

"Never let it be said that we Cargenven turn down a challenge! I have a feeling that this may be one of the greatest weapons I might craft with these hands." Aodh answered with a slow smirk while Niall only nodded his agreement.

Solon just grinned. "I look forward to it!"

"Excellent. Let us sign the appropriate Non-disclosure papers and business contracts and properly finish our business dealing tonight." Anastas asked as he snapped his fingers.

Two House-Elves appeared, one holding a tray filled with colored Moke-skin bags each labeled clearly with different denominations and the other with a tray filled with the usual contract scrolls.

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Anastas watched as his guests walked down the drive and vanished when their Portkeys re-activated. All his plans were going well for the time being.

By his estimation, his commissioned weapon would be ready to be crafted sometime in early May and all the necessary accessories delivered well before Midsummer in June. Processing the remaining ACR proposals would be finished in another week at most. Checking the validity of those interested in joining the Lund Guard was as time-consuming as he had thought it would be but, fortunately, his Granduncle Silvio had been more than willing to grant him the use of a few workers from his Intelligence bureau.

As for the on-going task he had given his own personal demon, each of the operatives delivered reports as regularly as two or three times per week. Now he had more reading to complete than he did free time, not to mention keeping up with his other studies. It was his hope to start attending social gatherings soon so that he could begin cultivating more contacts by the end of the month as well, so he would lose even more of his free time.

For the time being, he was content to simply gather information and flesh out his identity. Making a decision would come when the time was right, after he was positive of what everyone's motives were. It had taken him far too long and far too many arguments with his parasite, to come to that particular decision.

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Anastas watched the water of the pool ripple as he brooded. While he did not want to be someone else's tool ever again, he was certain that he could never simply stand by while the rest of the world was plunged into war. His good intentions had led him astray in the past, so this time he determined that he would try to take actions that could only benefit the Wizarding World as a whole later.

- It is idealistic foolishness like that which will draw master manipulators to turn you into a marionette! Have you learned nothing from your mistakes in the past? -

"I would rather keep the civilian death count to a minimum this time."

- You would rather spend a lifetime atoning for doing what was necessary, even in a world where the past has no impact. That is what you mean. Idiot! It is impossible to save everyone. -

"Weren't you the one that said I had the power beyond mortal fantasy and could use it however I wished?" Anastas retorted.

A hand grabbed his throat. - Do not throw my words back at me! What I have given you I can take back and then, what will you do to save your precious world? You are nothing but another above average wizard without my influence! As you will recall, none of your morals prevented you from becoming Voldemort's successor. Your worthless morals were the root of your downfall; you shattered into more pieces than a broken mirror when the War ended. You may resent them for throwing you into Azkaban but in your heart you know it was nothing more than you deserved! Once again your mortal foolishness never ceases to disgust me. -

"And what would I be without my 'mortal foolishness'?" Anastas demanded, irritated at the constant attacks on his humanity.

- For one thing, without that idiocy clouding your mind, you would actually stand a chance of surviving this forthcoming War relatively unscathed instead of a candidate for the Tartarus Pit or the Insane Asylum. From your own mouth, you admitted that almost everything that you thought was mere propaganda from people who would use you! If your sense of morality is that skewed, and it is I assure you, then it stands to reason that you can only benefit from shedding such worthless ideas and leave them for other idealistic mortals. After all that you have seen, after all that you have done, you would still cleave to such ideals? Continue thinking like that and you will fall under Dumbledore or Voldemort's dominion again. -

"Then what should I do?! If I can't even trust myself how will I know what action to take?"

Cold hands cupped his face, - Follow your instinct! Humans, in their arrogance, seem to think that their ability to reason and empathize will lead them to have a long, fulfilling life. It is laughable! You only survived long enough to become capable of such reasoning due to the natural instincts that guided your lowly ancestors for thousands of years. Your instincts will never lead you wrong, or you humans would never have lasted this long. -

Anastas looked thoughtful. "Instinct…"

- The most useful of all instincts is very simple…survival. You wish to kill your enemy so that your children, if not future generations, may survive. There is no wrong in defending your territory and in protecting your family or those you view as under your protection. It is that simple. -

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Removing Voldemort had been important and necessary in the past world, but in the process he had completely devastated the rest of the Wizarding World and even the Muggle World. Too many had died in the crossfire and he would prefer to avoid that as much as possible this time around…assuming that he chose to oppose Voldemort.

There was not enough information as of yet gathered for him to really make a decision that wasn't based on the past and, to his consternation, Tom Riddle had vanished into the annuls of time. Anastas was certain that he was alive somewhere, that much he could tell in his very bones, but where he was or what he was doing was a mystery that he desperately wanted answers to.

Altogether, it was both a frustrating and tedious time for him. He was never the sort to take sitting still well and even with all these other events and responsibilities requiring his attention, little of it truly captured his interest. Anastas had been molded for war and all the bloody battles, underhanded tactics, and the utter havoc that came in their wake. In a sense, peace chafed him. It left him with too much time to thing about the present and the future, without giving him a clear goal to work towards.

No matter how much he wished otherwise if not for the presence of his ever so helpful, and completely untrustworthy demon, it was likely Anastas could not have distanced himself from his past and bided his time to wait. Logically he knew much of the horrors that had inadvertently committed were the best options available to him. Just as he knew it was better to wait and to gather information before making a decision and taking action. However a part of him could not help feeling guilty just as he could not help but want to rush blindly into action and damn the consequences. War had changed him, he knew that very well, but this eagerness to act was both alien and a little troubling.

His companion assured him that he was just a little more in tune with his baser side and not to concern himself too much. It was not a reassuring comment. Anastas never wanted to be the Diablo and when he pointed that out to his ever so haughty companion, it had told him simply that if he did not want to be the Diablo he had best find a mutual common ground. The wizard decided then and there, that he never wanted to hear another long-winded lecture courtesy of his parasite.

According to the superior being, the Diablo was nothing more than his basic instincts thrown together with a dash of reasoning and a complete lack of morals. The Diablo was nothing more than an alter ego, one that he had created to do all the things that he could not, in good conscience, do. Accepting the Diablo as a part of him would not only help him accept his past and its plethora of demons and nightmares, but it would also help him decide what action to take.

It took two and a half months to realign himself and the parasite had been correct…again. He did feel better and though he was frustrated and eager to take action it was not too hard to wait. When his frustration reached its peak, he threw himself into training and practicing, using the physical activity to keep the darker aspect of him in check.

Anastas turned away from the windows overlooking the long driveway and in doing so, stopped contemplating past events. It was time to think of the future now.

In less than two months he would be fully absorbed into the massive chess game that was the Wizarding World's elite. Entrance in that realm would require all his attention as he planned to thrive there. Four attempts had been made to either kidnap or kill him outright and more recently; someone in Asturias wanted him removed from power in an unquestionable way.

With Queen Erika's blessing, within a year's time he would have fully taken up the powers available to him in Sweden and after he killed the Cuélebre, his place in Asturias would be cemented as well. Already, he had the service of a dozen secret operatives and would have the legitimate service of 3,000 Guardsmen before April.

Five people in this world knew his true goals and four of them had thrown their full support behind him. Thousands of influential wizards and witches were eager to capture his attention and advance their Family by way of marriage, trade, or friendship. Most importantly he had the only known item that might stand in his way, secreted away where no one would ever access it.

Anastas may not have made his decision yet, but he had done the best to gain enough intelligence to navigate this strange world and to fortify his skills and his assets. It would be more than enough, he knew.

He had chased after Pandora's Box and after it had been opened inflicted all the mythical evils to his old world, most committed with his own hands. Wallowing in his guilt, as Voldemort had put it, had not done him any favors aside from amusing the former Dark Lord in the afterlife. Ignoring the issue altogether had done nothing either, as his parasite had pointed out. Owning up to his mistakes and accepting the fact that he had been nothing but a tool to two powerful wizards had done one decent thing for him. It finally allowed him to let go of the past.

He had fucked up, he would be the first to admit that, but really when one looked at the situation, he was not all to blame.

Harry Potter had hated the invincible and infallible Harry Potter of people's expectations but he strove to be what they wanted anyway. Dumbledore had groomed him to destroy Voldemort. In turn Voldemort had used him to destroy a world that he could never conquer, or possibly never wanted to conquer, along with dying with the knowledge that he had royally one-upped everyone. He had been nothing but clay to be molded and that is exactly what they did with him.

In opening Pandora's Box, he had given himself a key. One that had unlocked the sleeping potential that lay dormant in his body. Sure, a possessive touchy-feely parasite came along with that key but, in the end, what did he have to lose but the Harry Potter that he had never wanted to be?

Harry Potter had paved a road to Hell with his good intentions and Anastas had every intention of seeing everything that Hell had to offer.

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1) Si Vales Valeo- Latin phrase meaning "If you are well, I am well" and was commonly used at the beginning of Ancient Roman letters.

2) 40,000 G 400,000 US dollars, 70,000 G 700,000 US dollars, 125,000 G 1.25 million US dollars, 180,000 G 1.8 million US dollars

And because I didn't want to put a note marker here's the breakdown for the guard pay:

100 G 1,000 US dollars, 20 G 200 US dollars, 10,000 G 100,000 US dollars, 2,500G 25,000 US dollars

3) Cras amet qui nunquam amavit; quique amavit, cras amet - Latin phrase meaning "May he love tomorrow who has never loved before; And may he who has loved, love tomorrow as well." It's used here as the standard opening statement for a Letter of Intention for an ACR proposal.

Quick Note: I am looking for a permanent Beta for this story. Specifically, I'd like someone who's good with grammar, has free time now and again, has MS word and knows how to use the tracking changes feature, and is legal for reading smut and is ok with editing smut. Cause I'll get to that eventually. I'd love it if they had Y!M too but if I need to I guess we'll just exchange a lot of e-mails back and forth. If anyone's interested please send me a PM the link is on my bio.

Next Chapter: Lots more character interaction! Probably a time jump, more flashbacks, and more scenes with Lucius and Sev.

Please, please, please review! I really need feedback at this particular stage because so much is going on and I'd like a clue what you all think of it! Feedback seriously helps me write and improve if I know what's working and what's not.

-SheWolfe7 (7-5-08)