Disclaimer: I own neither Charmed nor Harry Potter. I am merely playing with the ideas of their existence. I'll have them back to their owners when I'm done... Hopefully not too worse for the wear.
Christopher Halliwell's dreams were disturbing and distressful, as usual, but this time something outside his dream world pulled him back into the realm of the waking before the heat of it could really fire up.
The sixteen year old snapped awake and was immediately met with scarlet snake eyes staring into his own, not two inches from his face.
He jumped backwards in shock, exclaiming, "Oh my God!" before he could stop himself.
The man with the slit scarlet eyes straightened, a slight smirk playing on his lips. Without a word, he turned and walked away from Chris' bed, going into the living room and giving the still surprised teen time to catch his breath.
When at last the initial shock wore off, Chris sighed and closed his eyes, once again thanking his older brother for putting him in this oh-so comfortable situation. Well, he thought absently as he finally managed to pull himself together, at least I'm not the only one suffering. Dear Tommy must be getting pre…tty damn frustrated, too, by now…
He rolled out of the bed, too lazy to stand, and hit the floor painfully. Groaning and wondering at his own intelligence, Chris hauled himself to his feet, rubbing his now thoroughly bruised shoulder. In a familiar moment of spite, the teen called into the silent living room, "Don't worry about me! That loud thump was nothing! I'm perfectly fine!"
There was no answer… not like he'd really expected there to be. Chris merely rolled his eyes again, strolled over to his bedroom door, shut it, walked back over to his closet, and pulled out some clothes to change into.
Wyatt had locked him in this wing of his extensive mansion with 'Tom Riddle' as either punishment for assisting the Resistance, or in an attempt to 'turn' him; he wasn't sure. Maybe both. He could also only guess at whether Riddle had done something to piss the Source off, too, because the man didn't seem overly fond of Chris' company, either. The only difference between Riddle and Chris' situation, however, was that Riddle was allowed to come and go as he pleased. That had been a day ago. Within that period, Chris had attempted to escape three times only to be brought back by either Riddle or Wyatt himself.
Once again, Chris sighed and walked out into the living room where Riddle was doing… some sort of paperwork. Maybe tracing out a map or plan or something… The man shot him a cold glance upon his entering before returning to his parchment. Chris made a face, choosing not to reply, and opened the 'front door' where a demon was standing guard. He was starting to formulate a small plan, mostly out of boredom rather than a continued plot to escape.
The demon looked up and hastily bowed in recognition of the Source's little brother. "What may I do for you, Lord Christopher?" the guard asked respectfully, more than a little nervous. Chris had made quite a reputation for himself with his brother's subjects.
"Besides get out of my way and let me go?" Chris retorted, and didn't wait for the now-even-more-uncomfortable demon's response. "I want five raw potatoes and a black marker. Thank you." He shut the door before the demon had time to voice its confusion.
Riddle glanced up, eyes narrowed slightly. Apparently he had heard the request.
Chris took satisfaction in ignoring that and plonked himself down on the sofa beside Riddle's. For an instant, he held out his hand for the TV remote before remembering his telekinesis, along with all his other powers, was bound. He rolled his eyes, got up, snatched it off the coffee table, and sat back down before turning the television on. Riddle was still staring at him.
"You're watching television?" the wizard hissed incredulously.
"No shit, Sherlock," came the sarcastic, easy reply. When the evil one continued staring at him, he flipped the channel and elaborated, "What, between leading a rebellion against you and your boss, and going on many a hot date, I never had time before. Now I have plenty."
Chris got the feeling Riddle rolled his eyes, but didn't look up to make sure. Only moments later there was a knock on the door.
"COME IN!" Chris yelled, fighting back a smirk at Riddle's death glare in his direction. Wow, he was glad Wyatt had forbidden the wizard to kill him. Behind some of Riddle's glares, Chris was sure the man was plotting his ultimate, agonizing murder.
The demon guard hesitantly made his way in and handed the supplies to the young Halliwell before bowing his way out of the room. Chris beamed, took the permanent marker, and drew smiley faces on the potatoes. On the backs, he wrote rather ordinary names until he came to the last one. He held it up thoughtfully, then remarked, "I think this one looks like a Tom. Tom's a pretty common name, don't you think? And randomly selecting a last name, I'm going to say Riddle… Yeah, that sounds right…"
Riddle merely continued to stare at him with an unreadable expression. Chris didn't wait for his response and scrawled 'TOM RIDDLE' on the back of the spud. He beamed. "Mr. Evil Overlord, meet my new bestest friends: Bob, Jane, Bill, John, and Tom."
A few days after naming his potatoes and talking to/treating them like real people, Chris came walking out of the kitchen, a few freshly fried French fries in one hand and four potatoes in the other arm. He sat down in front of the coffee table in the living room and lined the four spuds up on it as Riddle observed him calculatingly. About a week and they had gotten no further in their 'relationship'.
Chris moved so that he was sitting on the floor beside his potato friends, popped a fry in his mouth, and flipped on the TV.
After a moment, Riddle asked inexpressively, "What did you do with my potato?"
Chris feigned slight confusion and queried, "What-- you mean Tom?" He looked down at the last remaining fry in his hand and looked back up at Riddle, blinking innocently. "He just didn't belong," Chris explained, still giving Riddle a wide-eyed innocent look, and plopped it in his mouth then turned back to the television. "And no, Jane, I'm not buying that lipstick for you, so you can just forget it," he added to the only female potato as a commercial for Glitterbug Lipstick came on.
There was a moment of partially stunned silence on Riddle's end when suddenly there came sounds of yelling, then fighting from the floor below.
Chris rolled his eyes and muttered, "About time."
Riddle's eyes narrowed. They had established long ago that Riddle's strange branch of telepathy could, in fact, hold a candle to Chris' blocking abilities, but still wasn't quite enough to gain the upper hand in a mental battle. The man had to resort to demanding in a dangerously quiet tone, "What is that?"
Chris smirked and replied evenly, "You know, you keep hinting that my Resistance is going to fail, and that we're no good, but you really have no idea what they're-- we're-- capable of. I think you'd find yourself genuinely surprised."
Voldemort instantly got the oh-so subtle hint and rose to his feet. With a cold backwards glance, the man swept from the room, slamming the door securely shut behind him.
Chris rolled his eyes and suppressed a laugh. "What a loser," he commented to himself and hauled himself to his feet using the coffee table. He strode over to the window and looked out to find the three remaining members of FU1 waiting for him on the lawn, all with crossed arms and satisfied smirks. He grinned, opened the window, and jumped out. He landed almost cat-like from the second story jump and was walking towards them without so much as a pause.
"The guards?" he asked, so pleased to see them he couldn't help but let it shine clearly on his face.
"Well, apparently there exists tension between some of the Death Eaters guarding the perimeter and some guarding entrance," answered Joden with familiar mischievous twinkle in his eyes, though something in his smile was forced. Something was always forced in his smile ever since Paris… ever since a couple of months ago. "Wasn't exactly hard to spark a few tempers and blame it on the others. Which brings us to the major point that--"
"We should hurry up and be out as soon as possible," finished Chris, catching his drift easily and letting his teammates lead him to where the jet was hidden (orbing was too traceable). Within only a matter of seconds, they were gone.
It was only a day later that Chris was captured (again) by Tom Riddle, but this time Wyatt had decided putting the two together in living quarters wasn't the way to turn 'Young Lord Christopher'. He went with a different, far worse strategy.
One week later:
As discussion concerning Dumbledore's blackened, dead hand died down, the Headmaster continued his beginning of term speech.
"We are pleased to welcome a new member of staff this year. Professor Slughorn"-- Slughorn stood up, his bald head gleaming in the candlelight, his big waistcoat belly casting the table below into shadow-- "is a former colleague of mine who has agreed to resume his old post of Potions master."
The word echoed all over the Hall as people wondered whether they had heard right.
"Potions?" said Ron and Hermione together, turning to stare at Harry. "But you said--"
"Professor Snape, meanwhile," said Dumbledore, raising his voice so that it carried over all the muttering, "will be taking over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
"No!" said Harry so loudly that many heads turned in his direction. He did not care; he was staring up at the staff table, incensed. How could Snape be given the Defense Against the Dark Arts job after all this time? Hadn't it been widely known for years that Dumbledore did not trust him to do it?
"But Harry, you said that Slughorn was going to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts!" said Hermione.
"I thought he was!" said Harry, racking his brains to remember when Dumbledore had told him this, but now he came to think of it, he was unable to recall Dumbledore ever telling him what Slughorn would be teaching.
Snape, who was sitting on Dumbledore's right, did not stand up at the mention of his name; he merely raised a hand in lazy acknowledgement of the applause from the Slytherin table, yet Harry was sure he could detect a look of triumph on the features he loathed so much. And then…
"What the-- is that someone sitting on Dumbledore's other side?" he asked, brow furrowing as he studied the slightly larger gap between Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall than usual.
"Uh, McGonagall," replied Ron in a 'duh' voice. Harry made to retort, but--
"No, I think Harry's right," interrupted Hermione, also squinting at the gap. There appeared to be shadows gathered between the two professors, despite the lighting, and, now that they looked, they also noticed a plate that did not seem to belong to either Dumbledore or McGonagall.
"Who is it?" asked Ron after the moment it took him to see what they were talking about. He was craning his neck conspicuously to see better, but the other students had erupted into their own conversations and paid no mind.
"I don't know," said Hermione with a frown. "I can't even see if it's a boy or girl. And all the other teachers are already there…"
Before the trio could get further in the investigation, Dumbledore cleared his throat, signaling his desire for silence. As soon as it was ensured, he continued, "Now, as everybody in this Hall knows, Lord Voldemort and his followers are once more at large and gaining in strength."
A glint of silver caught Harry's eye and he glanced sideways to see Malfoy making his fork hover in midair with his wand, as though he found the headmaster's words unworthy of his attention. Dumbledore continued to speak, but Harry found his attention drifting between Malfoy and the mysterious shadowed space, leaving no room in his mind for the headmaster's warnings about dangerous, dark times. Harry was actually beginning to wonder if anyone else knew the space was there, when the deafening scraping noise of benches being pushed back signified the release of the students and Dumbledore sat back down, turned to the space, and spoke to it.
Eager to stay and see if the shadowed person would move into view, and not at all eager to leave with the gawping crowd who had no greater wish than to see 'the Chosen One', Harry lagged behind under the pretense of retying the lace of his shoe. While Hermione took off to fulfill her responsibility of shepherding the first years, Ron hung back with him.
"You didn't touch your meal," stated Dumbledore to the shadow, pleasantly reproving.
There was no response, except to shift slightly so that Harry caught a glimpse of white hair. Medium length male-styled white hair.
The pause expanded until Harry was having a very difficult time making his shoe-tying excuse still believable. He added (for good measure) wiping his nose, scratching his cheek, brushing a speck of dust off his trainers… He even feigned catching the laces on a protruding corner as he headed away, therein undoing the bow again before Dumbledore spoke once more.
"Seeing as you were arguing quite ardently before, I don't think you can convince me you're a mute, now."
"Actually, I was just ignoring you," came the iciest response Harry had ever heard anyone use while addressing Dumbledore. He actually forgot he was trying his shoe and stopped to stare.
"Your manners never cease to amaze," commented Dumbledore pleasantly without skipping a beat.
"And your amiability has never been so welcome," the stranger, whom Harry could now identify as being around his own age, retorted, seemingly bored.
"Ah, amiability. What a good word."
There was a pause, and then, "…Merely appropriate."
"Well, at the very least, I'm glad you see me that way," said Dumbledore, eyes clearly twinkling gently.
There was another pause, and then a cold, "Amiability isn't a characteristic I'm overly fond of."
"Then perhaps I should have Professor Snape try and convince you to remain," responded the headmaster lightly, taking a sip from his goblet.
At this, the stranger leaned forward so that his visage was in the light and Harry could see him clearly. At first, the boy-who-lived was taken aback. The stranger did look sixteen, maybe seventeen, only he had pure, shock white bangs outlining his smoothly angular face while the rest of his med-length hair was dark brown. His vibrant green eyes flashed almost dangerously.
"Look," the stranger said in a voice sharper than a razor, "you might as well stop wasting your time and effort on me 'cause there is no way you're going to convince me to stay. You'll just have to keep me caged in this… cage… for the rest of the year, and quite frankly, I don't think either of us would enjoy that very much."
"We've had this conversation already, Mr. Halliwell," Dumbledore replied almost… jadedly. Harry wondered how long the two had been arguing about this. He didn't have long to speculate, however, for at that moment Professor McGonagall appeared at his and Ron's shoulders.
"Misters Potter and Weasley, I trust you have not forgotten the way to the Gryffindor tower over the summer holidays?"
"Oh, no, Professor," said Harry immediately, feeling a blush begin to creep up his neck. "I was just--" He motioned wordlessly at his perfectly laced trainer, unable to string together a coherent sentence, he was so flustered. Before McGonagall's eyebrows could arch any higher, he grabbed Ron's arm and hurried them both out, intending to put as much distance between himself and the witness to his eavesdropping as possible.
(In Dumbledore's office)
Chris Halliwell could recall having worse weeks, but this one was definitely the most untimely. For the past six days, he had been enduring the torture of some 'wizard' who claimed to be a follower of Tom Riddle, whom was referred to by the 'Death Eater' as the 'Dark Lord'. Yeah, like that was a new one. Completely original thinker, that Tommy. And only yesterday had his Resistance team once more come to his rescue, and only fifteen minutes after returning to the base and getting healed up had he then been summoned by yet another wizard. This latest wizard claimed to be the headmaster of some witchcraft and wizardry school-- a school that, he said, the law required he attend.
That made no sense to Chris at all, seeing as he was legally considered dead, anyway. Moreover, what could the government do? Force him into a classroom and make him learn? And then, besides all the details, it was war in his country! A war where he was needed, where people looked up to him and put their lives in his hands, put their lives under his command! What did that Dumbley dude expect? For him to just drop everything, tell his brother (the Source of all Evil) 'Hey, hold on a minute while I go get my magical education because I'm still legally a minor and have no rights'? It was ridiculous! Before he could argue his point thoroughly, though, the old wizard had trapped him in a very familiar crystal cage and informed him he would be attending the magnificent start-of-term feast whether he liked it or not.
"I did no such thing," came the by now familiar voice, interrupting his thoughts.
Chris' head snapped up to see the twinkling blue eyes of the headmaster watching him rather pleasantly. He instantly felt his insides harden with rage and was hard put to keep his powers from throwing the old man clear across the room. Instead, he refortified the mental barriers guarding his thoughts and emotions carefully, then responded in his trademark stony voice, "I'd appreciate it if you stayed out of my mind, thank you."
"I do apologize," Dumbledore said in what was clearly supposed to be a sincere voice. Chris would have believed him if he weren't such an exhaustive empath. "I must admit myself just a tad curious about what was going on in there. An old man's self-restraint is not what it once was."
"You can only use senility as an excuse so many times…" Chris warned through scarcely concealed gritted teeth. He was sure using it every five minutes into conversation was overdoing it… just a bit. "How long have you been watching me?" he added, putting delicate stress on the word 'watching,' implying that he really meant 'spying on me and sifting through my thoughts at your leisure.'
Dumbledore seemed to get the hint, for Chris felt a slight-- very slight-- pang of regret. He didn't know if the minute trace of emotion was because the man really didn't feel much of it, or because he just had good mental defenses. It was too early in knowing him to tell.
"Not long; not long at all, my dear child," replied the headmaster lightly. "I ended the beginning-of-term staff meeting only moments ago. Now it is time for another discussion between us."
"Nothing to discuss," Chris replied somewhat like a moody, stubborn child. He instantly blushed and wished he could have stopped to collect his impassive façade before he'd responded. Great impression he was making, here…
"I beg to differ," said Dumbledore in that same pleasant voice.
Once more, Chris couldn't stop himself from retorting. "You don't have to beg. I think you're allowed different opinions in free countries. Of course, I could be wrong…"
The old man smiled faintly. At Chris' narrow glance in his direction, he said by way of an explanation, "I merely thought you should know I do not have a lot of sarcasm or wisecracks directed at me these days."
"I must be like a breath of fresh air then, huh?" Chris replied evenly, but with a good measure of acid.
"Indeed," said the headmaster with a jesting twinkle in his eyes.
Chris just rolled his eyes. The bantering was no longer amusing, and hadn't been for a while. All he could think about was the Resistance. Wyatt had to be furious, had to know that he was gone by now, and the Source's retribution would not wait forever. Wouldn't even wait for long… Chris had already been gone for hours… there could have been an attack on the Resistance; they could have already lost by now. Anything could happen in minutes, let alone hours… He had to get back… But whatever school this was, it was powerful and had some damn powerful enchantments on it, meaning he couldn't orb, flame, or anything. He had a sneaking suspicion that the only person who could lift those enchantments was sitting in front of him, right behind that rather handsome mahogany desk.
He sighed. If there was no way of getting out without letting the man get whatever his problem was off his chest, he might as well get it over with sooner rather than later. "Look," Chris stated in a cold, businesslike voice. "Can you just say whatever you're required to say and then leave me alone? I don't exactly have a lot of time to waste."
Chris was relieved to see the man's continuously chirpy front finally change into a more somber one. Dumbledore sighed softly and laced his fingers together on his desk. At length, he looked from them back up to Chris. "Mr. Halliwell," he began with a faint note of sorrow, "I understand the situation you are in with the Resistance and the war in America. I do," he added a bit more sharply at Chris' hardly concealed scoff of disbelief. "But you need to understand where I'm coming from. The law requires all underage magical persons to learn the craft unless specifically ordered not to by their legal guardian. Seeing as you have none… there is no way around your attending this school."
"You want to talk legal?" Chris demanded, leaning forward slightly in his chair that was surrounded by crystals, his green eyes blazing. "I'm legally dead, so what can the government do? I don't think it's the law to require a dead person to attend school, even if he is underage."
Dumbledore did not respond immediately, but looked down at his carefully laced fingers. He seemed to be thinking of how to word what he needed to say, or so it appeared to Chris. At length, the older man stated slowly, "Mr. Halliwell, I do not like the position you are in. You have no adult in your life, from what I've seen, and you have a world leaning on you to lead them. You are not ready for that. Now, I'm not asking you to abandon everything, everyone, to come here. I'm just asking you to take a break. You only have eight months before you are legally an adult and can leave. Eight months away from the immediate pressures of war, eight months for rest and rejuvenation. Maybe… in those eight months… you might actually learn something, too."
Chris stared at him, mind spinning. His first thought was, 'Hell no.' But… that hadn't worked to any gain whatsoever earlier that day when he'd first been summoned. This man was firm in his belief that Chris should stay. Maybe… maybe it wouldn't be so bad, coming here and escaping all the stress of war. God knows he'd felt enough… Trying not to get on his brother's bad side and still trying to work with the Resistance. He was so tired, so mentally and physically exhausted… He really did need a break.
But the Resistance-- They needed him. They would lose to Wyatt and Riddle without him… He knew that for a fact, because even with him, they were getting their butts kicked almost continuously. If he were to just up and leave, they wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance.
Taking a deep breath, he forced the words to sound as though they had conviction as they came out of his mouth. "No. I'm not staying. I wouldn't expect you to understand all the reasons why, but there's no way I'm just abandoning everything I've been working so hard with. No way."
"Look, Christopher," said Dumbledore in a voice that took the witch-lighter by surprise. The headmaster had abandoned all formal pretenses and was squaring him a look that spoke of frankness. "There is no chance of you not attending this school. I will not just let you leave and get yourself killed. I knew your Aunt Paige and I know she would still skin me alive if I didn't do everything in my power to keep you safe, so, the way I see it, you have two choices. You can either go through classes by choice and attempt civility to the other students, or you can stay in my office, in this crystal cage, acting hostile until you are seventeen and I no longer have the authority to hold you. There is nothing else. Now, what do you choose?"
Once again, Chris found himself unable to do anything but stare at the old man. Surely he was kidding…?
An empathic sweep showed that the headmaster was not, in fact, kidding. At all.
Before Chris could really start staring again, he collected himself and was able to run through the situation rationally. He knew he wouldn't be able to orb out of this place without the old man's help. Escape, therefore, was not an option. And Dumbledore did not look like he was bluffing when he said he'd keep him in the cage for eight months. So, that really left only one option.
Hating himself for it, but inwardly promising that he'd find a way out of this, Chris asked unenthusiastically,
"Would I have to sleep in the dorms with everyone else?"
Dumbledore smiled, his clear blue eyes twinkling brightly once more. "But of course. Where is your school spirit?"
"Cowering behind my unresolved hostility, of course," came the cold response. Then Chris remembered the beginning of the feast. The sorting… He groaned silently. "Would I have to get sorted, too?"
Dumbledore drew his wand and Chris couldn't stop himself from flinching as his mind raced backwards in time. Strange, Latin based words, pain… a lot of pain… Riddle and his followers… outward defiance, inward terror… so much pain…
"Christopher?" Dumbledore's voice broke through his flash back, sounding concerned.
Chris' eyes shot back to Dumbledore as a door slammed shut within them. He forced himself not to look at the wand held in the wizard's hand, but instead at the sorting hat that had apparently been conjured, summoned, or whatever. He was not going to think about… what had happened. Especially not while this man who obviously knew how to delve into thoughts was in the room. He could suppress those memories just like all the other similar ones. He just had to stop thinking about it.
Without answering the headmaster's querying, concerned gaze, Chris gingerly lifted the hat from the desk and just as gingerly placed it on his head.