A/N: Feeling much better now, just a nagging pain when I cough…Could it get anymore colder here? We had a snow storm that certainly made up for the lack of snow over the holidays…
Thank you to all you who reviewed and sent a "get well soon" greet.
To VacantSkies, I know I have been "out of the matrix" for quite awhile now…But my appreciation for your above and beyond the call of duty that you have done in this daunting task of beta-ing this story. To those of you curious about his "magical" touch in the beta-ing field visit his website on this site.
off we go to Chapter 11…
"Harry…Wake up, son…"
The Crown Prince of Gryffindor shifted. He vaguely registered the fact that someone was speaking to him when he felt someone insistently shaking his shoulders as he opened his eyes.
"Wha…" groaning, he cleared his parched throat. "What?"
"The prince is awake! Get Madam Pomfrey…"
Harry heard a door open; he felt so disoriented that he just wanted to fall back to sleep, but then his eyes snapped open and he abruptly sat up. "HERMIONE!"
"Calm down, son…Calm down…The princess is all right; so is Prince Cedric. Not to worry, they're fine," King James reassured while he hugged Harry.
Harry looked at his father, feeling anxious despite the spoken reassurance as he recalled the horrible scene that he came upon with Lord Ron Weasley at the west tower of his castle.
After the attack at the Great Hall of Gryffindor two young men were dashing through the castle to make their way to the west tower…
Harry and Ron returned to the guest bedchamber of the Crown Prince of Hufflepuff. After releasing the locking spell from the door, Harry gave the agreed password to Lady Cho, who they had left there to watch over the Prince of Hufflepuff and the Princess of Ravenclaw. He was sickened when he saw the distraught expression on Cho's face.
"Harry…something has happened!" Cho sobbed upon the entry of the pair.
Rushing over to the side of the bed, he saw that the positions of Hermione and Cedric had not changed but now there was blood trickling out of the nostrils of the pair. Feeling his gut twist, Harry turned to Cho and softly asked, "When did this start?"
"A few minutes after you left! I just happened to look between them and the door, trying to keep my wits about myself, when I noticed the blood. Harry, blood is a grave sign when one is under the Legilimens Spell!" Cho's voice went up a notch as she started to get more hysterical.
"I heard Hermione calling for help," Harry whispered.
Cho looked incredulously at the prince, and after a pregnant pause asked, "What do you mean you 'heard' Hermione calling for help?"
"I heard her voice in my…in my head," Harry admitted and expected ridicule, but Cho's nervous expression did not waver.
"Did you inform Albus?"
"Luna is seeing to that," Ron answered. He too was shocked when he saw blood on the prince and princess. Ron could see the turmoil on his prince's face as he stood frozen at the foot of the bed.
All three turned towards the door as they heard footsteps climbing up the stairs. Lady Lovegood entered, followed by King Amos of Hufflepuff and Albus Dumbledore.
Lady Luna took her place beside Lord Ron and then gave him a faint smile before she turned her gaze to her princess; she then gasped and clutched his arm as she gave him a questioning look. Ron placed his hand over hers and guided her to a place where they would not be in the way but not too far to see what was going on.
"What happened?" King Amos asked as he looked at Cho.
Harry answered, "An hour or two before the attack Hermione offered to heal Cedric, thinking that maybe he just needed a jolt to wake up." Everyone in the room noticed the prince's voice cracking at mentioning his fiancée's name.
Amos looked at the future ruler of Gryffindor. "Prince Harry, I am surprised you allowed the princess to perform such a risky task, considering we all knew the danger this night held."
Harry lowered his head in shame. He should have insisted that they wait till whatever peril had passed before allowing Hermione to try to heal Cedric. But now his rash decision might have cost him his fiancée along with his friend's life. Harry was about to mumble his apology when he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up at the King of Hufflepuff.
"Harry, there is nothing to be sorry for. What I said did not come out right. Let me rephrase what I just said," Amos addressed the prince. "I am truly grateful that you and Princess Hermione along with your friends decided to kept Cho and Cedric company tonight, even if you were not obligated to do so. I too am thankful that the princess offered her magical healing skills for my son and I also know that she is a very stubborn witch and that meant you would probably have no say once the princess made up her mind to try to heal my son. I had no idea that she could perform Legilimency, a magic which is quite dangerous without the proper training."
With a smile, the King of Hufflepuff squeezed Harry's shoulder and moved to the side of his son and the Princess of Ravenclaw. Harry followed and stood at the side of the king, he saw that the king made no attempt to come too close to the figures. Dumbledore stood silently at the foot of the bed; Amos then turned his head and faced the overseer of Stonehenge.
"Albus, what do we do? There are now two of them in there. We cannot merely wait."
Dumbledore looked at the king and shifted his gaze to the Prince of Gryffindor as he pondered their next move. "This is not good, bleeding means that the prince and the princess are in mortal danger and any harm to them mentally will manifest physically…what to do now, indeed?"
"I have to do something…" Harry said in anguish. "Hermione's in trouble, she told me that she and Cedric needed help…"
Dumbledore and Amos turned sharply to regard the young prince. "When did the princess tell you this, Prince Harry?"
Harry blushed slightly and looking sheepishly at the two he said, "Well…um…you see, I heard her voice in my head."
Albus and Amos looked at each other then turned again to Harry. "You mean she sent a telepathic message to you?"
"Uh…I guess…" Harry shifted awkwardly under the intense gaze of the two older wizards.
Amos looked again at Dumbledore who nodded his head. "Prince Harry, have you and the princess been able to exchange telepathic messages before?"
"Umm…no, not that I'm aware of…this would be the first."
"Excuse us, Prince Harry, Albus and I have to discuss this connection between you and the princess and see if there will be a way that we can try to coax them out of wherever they are."
Harry just nodded stiffly, still feeling odd at having to admit hearing Hermione's voice in his head. The King and Overseer moved to a corner where they conversed under a cone of silence.
He looked over to Lord Ronald and Lady Luna, they too were discussing something under hushed whispers; from the expressions on their faces Ron was not too happy with whatever their talk was leading to. Cho was still seated beside the bed with an anxious look as she stared upon the prone forms on the bed. Harry's attention was drawn to his fiancée. He noticed beads of sweat had formed on her forehead; her eyes were closed and though her face remained expressionless, blood continued to trickle from her nostrils. Her back was rigid, one delicate hand rested on her lap, the other on the forehead of Cedric.
He was starting to feel desperate. "Hermione's a strong woman. She'll get through this. I know she will and she'll bring Cedric out too if it's the last thing she does…But dear Merlin, let it NOT be the last thing she does…"
He did not notice the approach of the two men until he felt a hand on his shoulder and his eyes met the sober ones of Dumbledore. "Prince Harry, we have a proposition for you, a very hazardous one, though…"
"Just tell me. I'm willing to do anything to bring Hermione back…"
"What's the damage?" the King of Ravenclaw asked his Gryffindor counterpart.
"Hard to estimate, John, reports are still coming in. Good news is no deaths…so far," James said, remembering Sirius' unstable condition.
John and James were seated at the bedsides of their respective wives in the hospital wing of the Gryffindor castle, which had been magically extended to fit all those harmed during the attack . Queen Sara had been hit by a severing charm on her right arm. If Queen Lily hadn't cast a shield charm in time, then she would have been mortally wounded. Since she was a Muggle, she was more vulnerable to magical attacks and her healing would take a much slower course, even with the aid of potions and magic.
Queen Lily had been given a sleeping draught so she could regain her strength. She'd expended too much magical energy during the attack and now she was in a state of pure exhaustion. Both kings felt quite guilty that their wives were the ones lying on the hospital beds and not them.
"I saw him leave the Great Hall with Albus. As to where they were headed to, it's anyone's guess," James replied.
The rulers of the kingdom of the lion and the eagle looked around at the others at the hospital wing. John's eyes strayed to the platinum blond gentleman from Slytherin who was confined to a bed as Lady Ginny stood vigil at his bedside. The father of the awardee was conspicuously absent.
"Did you see the children?"
James shook his head slowly. "I pray just this once that my son and your daughter were snogging safely somewhere unaware of the horrors in the Great Hall…"
John chuckled softly. "I hear you on that, James. I hope those two got locked up in a bloody broom closet in the castle."
"Don't fret, John, the Aurors will locate them." The King of Gryffindor noted the anxious tone in the Ravenclaw ruler's voice despite his joke.
John stated softly, "James, you know what this means…"
"Aye, John…Slytherin has formally declared war."
John met the eyes of James, "The darkness has begun."
In the throne room of Slytherin, a circle of hooded figures stood with heads bowed down. A married couple stood at the center of the circle. An eerie and hearty cackle filled the silence.
"Tell me, Bella, was there fear?"
"Aye, my King, fear and terror on everyone's faces and in their souls," the Marchioness proudly exclaimed.
"Lucius, I see that you finally fulfilled your duties."
Lord Malfoy kept his head bowed as he stood on the sidelines. He gritted his teeth in an attempt to prevent any reply. His son was left at Gryffindor; he himself had performed the Cruciatus on Draco. He knew that it would be the only way that he could keep himself and his son in good graces with his king by using Draco as a spy—he'd be much more useful than Pettigrew . Marquis and Marchioness Lestrange were starting to gain the trust of King Voldemort and if he did not play his cards right, Lucius knew that his position as the right hand man of the King would be very much threatened by them.
"Tell me, Bella…were you able to play?" King Voldemort asked, his voice becoming nauseatingly childlike.
"My king, the time was too short! All I was able to do was duel with my cousin…"
"From what I heard, Rodolphus saved your arse…"
This caused a few snickers from the other Death Eaters assembled. Bellatrix looked around and mentally filed those who had ridiculed her. "Let me see... McNair, Crabbe, Goyle…. Yes, I will get you for that…"
Bellatrix cleared her throat. "My husband was very helpful during that time, he—unlike some here who cast pitiful hexes –was able to literally cut my cousin down to size."
Marquis Lestrange took his wife's hand and kissed it. "Ah, Bella, you simply inspire me to do my evilest!"
"And the Potters? What of them?" the king of Slytherin quickly inquired.
Everyone in the room became silent, not knowing what to tell their king. The Death Eaters knew that none among them had been able to harm any of the Potters. This was a sign that they had failed in one of the objectives of their king's plan, but no one in the lot was willing to inform King Voldemort of that in fear of their leader's reaction. Unlike in other kingdoms, Voldemort had a nasty habit of killing the messenger.
"The Queen of Ravenclaw was physically harmed, your Majesty," someone answered.
"I did not ask about the Queen of Ravenclaw—why should I concern myself with a mere Muggle?" Turning towards the other Death Eaters he asked, "Did I not ask about the Potters?"
"The king and queen of Gryffindor remain unharmed," Baron Antonin Dolohov replied.
"I see…and what of the prince?" Voldemort asked slowly.
Rodolphus answered, "He was not seen at the Great Hall at the beginning of the attack, your Majesty. His presence was known only towards the end…"
"And tell me, Marquis Lestrange, who encountered the young prince and was he challenged to a duel by any one of you?"
The Lestrange couple quickly traded glances; the exchange between them did not go unnoticed by Voldemort.
"Tell me, Bellatrix and Rodolphus, did any of my followers encounter the young prince of Gryffindor?" asked the King of Slytherin in a soft, steely voice.
"Your Majesty, Bella and I were the ones who encountered Prince Harry."
"He managed to disarm me, your Majesty," stated Bellatrix. Then she added in a rush, "But Rodolphus was able to take revenge on the young prince…"
"Really now," Voldemort replied raising an eyebrow, "and how, may I ask?"
"I mortally wounded Duke Sirius of the House of Black, sire," Rodolphus replied with a bow.
There was a deafening silence in the throne room of Slytherin, then a chuckle was heard from the King himself. The Death Eaters gathered, looked at one another as if trying to search for a signal if they should join him in his laughter. King Voldemort continued to laugh and Death Eaters started to join in. When everyone was laughing along with the King, he abruptly stopped and menacingly asked, "Enlighten me, how does mortally wounding the cousin of your wife seem like you were attaining retribution for what the Prince of Gryffindor did to me, Marquis Lestrange?"
Rodolphus remained silent as his wife answered for him, "Your majesty, Sirius is…was the godfather of the prince. We saw how shattered the prince was to have witnessed the demise of his beloved godfather. It worked better than any Cruciatus could have."
"Is that so, Bella?" Voldemort asked in a slowly, "And can you confirm that Rodolphus was able to finish the task?"
"Aye, sire. We saw it with our own eyes," Bella replied.
"So you did not directly harm the prince, is that so?"
The Lestranges hesitantly nodded.
"No hex, no curse, not even a single jinx fell upon the Prince of Gryffindor?"
Not one Death Eater replied.
"ANSWER ME!" Voldemort demanded as he watched some of his Death Eaters jump.
"None, your Majesty."
Voldemort paced in front of his hooded followers, his head bowed down. Raising a wand, he muttered a curse and one of his Death Eaters collapsed, a pool of blood surrounding the fresh corpse. A large snake slithered toward the remains as it unlocked its jaws.
"Rodolphus and Bella, did the death of that Death Eater hurt you in any way?"
The couple shook their heads, a cynical smirk started to grace the face of the Marchioness.
"Does anyone in this room feel otherwise over the demise of that man?" Voldemort asked, observing the shaking of some heads while others remained stoically silent.
The King of Slytherin, in a rare display of agility, darted towards the couple at the center of the circle, his black cloak billowing behind him. The Lestranges found themselves prostrate on the floor. When they raised their heads, they found Voldemort's wand pointed at them. Then they heard him mutter, "Crucio" in a loving tone. They felt extreme pain, as if they were being burned from the inside out. The couple screamed in unison as they convulsed on the floor.
Voldemort turned and looked around, gauging the expressions of his followers. "Do you see the difference? The death of someone else has no satisfaction whatsoever compared to a direct attack!"
The Death Eaters nodded their heads slightly as they watched the Marquis and Marchioness writhe under the curse.
"I did not command you to wage psychological warfare! I ordered you to perform such unforgivable curses without any remorse even if you had to cast it on your own flesh and blood!" Voldemort looked directly at his steward.
He turned his attention to the couple on the floor. "Remember this lesson, Bella and Rodolphus…I am dissatisfied with your performance tonight. You had the Crown Prince of Gryffindor before you and what do you do? You aim for his godfather?! What will that achieve—a few tears of grief from the prince, but then what?"
King Voldemort walked slowly towards Lord Malfoy. When he stopped directly in front of him, Lucius automatically genuflected and bowed his head. Voldemort reached out his pale, thin hand and Lucius felt cold skin brush his cheek.
"I did not make a mistake in choosing you, Lucius. Despite your dismal performance as of late, you've willingly sacrificed your own son for my satisfaction." The King looked around and stated, "Lord Malfoy is the Steward of this Kingdom, for I know where his loyalties lie. His only son, his heir, he willingly cursed and abandoned at the Kingdom of the Lion—why? To serve a greater purpose for his King."
Voldemort placed a finger under the chin of his steward. Lucius suddenly found himself looking into the cold red eyes of his master.
"For what you have done, I return your wife to you, Lucius. You have served me well."
Lady Narcissa Malfoy suddenly appeared at the side of her husband. A thin sheet was wrapped around her figure; she was obviously naked underneath, and her pale skin bore bruises, signs of being manhandled by their king.
"Thank you, your Majesty, you are too kind and charitable."
Voldemort smiled at this. On his way back to the throne, he turned and stepped on the Lestrange couple, who were still twitching from the Cruciatus curse. He waved his wand and the couple on the floor stopped moving, their haggard breaths piercing the silence in the throne room.
"Take them to the dungeon. A few nights there will clear their minds of this psychological babble and make them realize that direct force is what causes genuine harm and terror!" Voldemort said in disgust.
Two Death Eaters approached the Lestrange couple and levitated them towards the door leading to the lower dungeons.
The King of Slytherin looked around again. He felt his pet, Nagini, slither on his feet as she coiled herself at the foot of his throne, her body now bulging with a large mass, hissing and bearing her fangs at those still gathered as she prepared to rest.
"There is much to prepare, my followers…for we are now at war!"
Cheers followed in the wake of his grand announcement.
"Oh Harry, don't tell me you are in this place too!" Hermione said in an exasperated tone.
"Where exactly are you?"
"Harry, if Cedric and I knew where we were, do you not think we could have found our way back?"
The Prince of Gryffindor chuckled, for he knew that tone in her voice. He'd heard her use it with him sometimes when he was being a prat. Right now, his fiancée was downright incensed!
"Hermione, darling, I am not where you are. I am merely conversing with you…um…telepathically. Albus and King Amos are using me as a bridge to you. They are asking if you can hear them."
Hermione paused. "Ne'er my love. I can only hear you."
"Does Cedric hear me?"
"Loud and clear, mate. Words of advice though—let's leave the endearments to a low. I'm starting to feel a bit nauseous at the exchange between you two!" Cedric replied.
Hermione waited for a response. "Love, did you hear Cedric?"
"His voice sounds distant—I heard him, I just cannot make out his words…Wait, maybe if I can concentrate more…"
"Do not strain yourself, love…" Hermione's voice took on a nervous edge.
Harry smiled to himself. He always felt good whenever the princess worried about his welfare, though he would never openly admit that to her. He tried to focus more. He was hearing the voices of King Amos and Albus, who were asking him questions which he was to relay to Hermione and Cedric.
According to King Amos, he too could hear Cedric, but only faintly. Dumbledore and the King of Hufflepuff had performed some sort of connection with him and asked him to focus on his connection with the princess. The whole time Albus and Amos would be his anchor. They added on an empath to the formula too, since Lady Luna fervently insisted that she could channel some of her feelings to keep everyone calm and try to sort out any dark auras involved. As Harry continued to concentrate, he heard a male voice trying to imitate Hermione's tone.
"Do not stain yourself, love. Oh, love, I'll snog your face off when you pull me and Cedric out…Love this, love that…" the Prince of Hufflepuff mimicked in a falsetto voice.
"Cedric, stop that! Harry may be putting himself in danger too with what he's doing!" Hermione chastised.
"Aye, Cedric! I am putting myself in danger to save your sorry arse!" Harry replied.
"Ah, so I have a sorry arse—is that what you're implying?" Hermione demanded, she felt a whole lot better, taking comfort at hearing her fiancé's voice.
"No love, I'm saying that Cedric has a sorry arse…Your arse I love…soft, yet firm and I love it when you make that sound when my hands are-"
"Eww! Stop! Harry! Too much mental imagery! I beg of you to quit it!" Cedric demanded as he made gagging sounds.
Harry laughed heartily. "Great to finally hear you, Cedric!"
"Believe me—the feeling is mutual!"
"Okay, can we stop this type of talk? The sooner we figure this out—the sooner we will be out of this situation!" Hermione stated in what she hoped was her most business-like voice. She could feel her face burning not only from embarrassment at what Harry said over 'her arse' but also from the passion he ignited when he talked that way about her body.
"But I can talk about your arse all day, Hermione!" Harry whined. He knew that the princess was turned on when he talked like that, it was confirmed when he felt the grip of Lady Lovegood tighten slightly on his arm and when he opened his eyes he saw that Hermione's lady in wait was blushing furiously.
"Harry James Potter—behave, or no thank you kiss when we get out of this!"
"Aye, your highness…"
"You are so whipped, Potter!" Cedric laughingly exclaimed.
"I know—titillating, isn't it?"
Hermione rolled her eyes as both princes erupted into laughter and she could hear it in all its loud glory as she thought of ways that she could extract her revenge at her fiancé's attitude.
"Boys! Get your mind out of the gutter!"
"Getting our minds out now, your Highness," they replied together.
Harry straightened himself in his chair when he heard the overseer clearing his throat as a subtle way of interrupting their exchange.
Harry asked in a somber tone, "Describe where you are."
"It is pitch black, not too hot, but not too cold either. Hermione's wand worked only when both of us were holding it, and casting only the Lumos spell drained us a lot," Cedric replied.
Harry related what he learned to the overseer and Cedric's father. The two wizards conversed first, trying to assess their next step. Those in the room watched as the Prince of Gryffindor suddenly groaned and clutched his forehead. Lady Lovegood let go of the prince hastily as if burned and her eyes flew open, panic etched on her face.
"Evil! Pure evil! Princess Hermione and Prince Cedric are in danger!" Luna squeaked, now clutching the arm of the overseer. Lord Weasley was at her side and he wrapped his arms around her.
"Amos, we have to get them out now!" Dumbledore stated as he approached the bed.
Lady Cho immediately blocked the path of Dumbledore. "Please Overseer, you will be doing more harm than good."
Dumbledore placed a hand on her shoulder as his eyes took on a soft twinkle. "My dear Lady Chang, if I do not do anything now, we may lose them forever…"
Cho let out a sob as she backed away from the Overseer. She started to cry as she collapsed in one of the chairs in the room, not willing to witness what could be the mental death of her fiancé and princess.
Harry kept rubbing his scar; it burned so much. Then he heard Hermione's voice again and this time she was screaming. His emerald eyes took on a glazed look as terror enveloped him too.
"HERMIONE!" Harry did not know that he spoke aloud, he thought that he was still channeling his thoughts to the princess. He saw Cedric and Hermione convulsing on the bed, blood still oozing from their noses. Cedric coughed and blood sputtered out of his mouth.
Amos leapt into action. Approaching the opposite side of the bed from where Dumbledore had situated himself he gave one look at the Overseer as they both brought out their wands, but before they could do anything Harry had waved his hand over the couple and screamed, "LEGILIMENS!"
"HARRY!" Hermione screamed.
She felt Cedric grip her arm tightly as they ran. Where, they had no idea. Hermione kept a tight grip on her wand, waving it behind her side to side, trying to figure out what was happening. She and Cedric felt a strong gale slam into their bodies, making them literally fly a few meters away from where they began.
Then she felt something physically hit her and Cedric, separating them from each other.
"HERMIONE!" Cedric yelled back. Hermione heard rather than saw something or someone crash into the prince.
Cedric groaned from the massive force that attacked him; for once he was thankful that Hermione was not with him at that moment. He tasted blood on his tongue but he immediately stood up. "Hermione, stay where you are!"
"By Merlin, try to stop me, brother! You're hurt! I'm coming for you!"
Hermione groped in the darkness, her hands made contact with something, as she gripped it she prayed that it was Cedric.
Hermione exhaled sharply realizing that she did have Cedric in her hands. She lifted the wand and pointed it at the figure, though it seemed that he was bloodier than when she saw him at the start, she knew that this was the real prince.
"Hermione, I want you to run! Run anywhere but get away from me! You are in more danger just staying with me—I do not know when it will strike!" Cedric stated.
"Cedric, if you expect me to go running—you got another thing coming! I do not back down from a challenge!"
An unknown voice was heard, "Ah—famous last words, princess!"
Hermione and Cedric turned toward the direction of the voice and saw that the scenery had changed from pitch darkness to a throne room in green and silver. Before them stood none other than King Voldemort himself.
"This is quite my lucky day now, is it not? I not only have the Crown Prince of Hufflepuff to play with at my leisure but now I have my bride—the Crown Princess of Ravenclaw!" the King of Slytherin spat as he circled the duo.
Hermione was trying to keep Cedric upright and held on tightly to him as she clutched her wand which she aimed towards the hideous being before her.
"You are the King of Slytherin?" Hermione asked softly.
"Yes, my bride—that I am. You see, unlike Prince Cedric here, we have not had the pleasure of meeting. That unfortunate circumstance is due to the fact that both of you were mere infants when I fell…suddenly ill," Voldemort explained smoothly.
The princess looked at him with disgust. "Stop calling me 'your bride,' your Majesty, for I am betrothed to the Crown Prince of Gryffindor."
King Voldemort actually chuckled and the sound made her blood curdle. She was now struggling with the weight of Cedric, who was trying his best to stay on his feet.
"Aye, from what I have heard, the Prince of Gryffindor has again foiled my plans. Nonetheless, that will not hinder me from gaining a lovely bride such as yourself…Tell me, Princess Hermione, why give your attention to a prince when you can have a king?"
The princess had to resist the urge to gag against the taste of bile. She focused her concentration on her fiancé but was rudely interrupted.
"It is no use, Princess, your connection with the Prince of Gryffindor has been severed. You are in my domain now…"
"And what domain would that be, your Majesty?"
"Why, your mind, Princess, and that too of the Prince of Hufflepuff. In this world I have supreme power over everything!"
Cedric and Hermione collapsed as they felt themselves assaulted and totally powerless as if their very souls were being sucked out and their memories were being ripped from them. The last thought that went through Hermione's head was of her fiancé. "Harry, remember I love you…" as she let herself succumb to oblivion.
"NO!" screamed the Prince of Gryffindor, now he too was in the throne room of green and silver.
Harry took in the scene before him, horrified at what he had just witnessed, but then fury took over as he saw his fiancée, lying unconscious in a fetal position with Prince Cedric at her side.
Voldemort could not believe his fortune - here was the object of his obsession and on his own field! He prided himself in his skill in Legilimency and here were the heirs of the three kingdoms—their minds his toys!
"You will not harm them anymore," Harry said.
The King of Slytherin merely laughed. "You do not know who you are up against, young prince! You have no right to order me around."
"I will not allow you to harm my fiancée," Harry growled.
Voldemort walked around the pair on the floor, keeping his red gaze on the prince.
"So it hurts you to know that the princess is in pain?"
Harry remained silent, keeping his eyes on the king and his wand aimed at the grotesque figure.
Harry still remained silent.
"Your arrogance will be the death of the heirs of three kingdoms," Voldemort ridiculed.
"You will not harm anyone," Harry replied.
"Really, now? And who will stop me? You?" the king laughed. "As I told you before, you have no idea who you are up against. Your father was arrogant like you. In fact this encounter reminds me of that day eighteen years ago…your father had the same stance as you, trying to protect you and your Mudblood mother. But you know what astounds me? How can an infant overwhelm one of the most powerful wizards of all time?"
"Merlin and Albus Dumbledore are the greatest wizards of all time," Harry replied with conviction. He was still processing the information that the King of Slytherin revealed but he knew that he had to focus on the situation at hand.
Voldemort's anger flared. "Where are these wizards you pledge your alliance to? Are they here to come to your aide? They were no help to you eighteen years ago and they will be of no use to you now!" Harry remained silent as his green eyes blazed.
The king sensed the prince's hesitance. "Ah…so you have no knowledge of what happened that infamous Hallow's Eve eighteen years ago?" Voldemort tsked. "Ignorance is not an excuse, Crown Prince of Gryffindor."
A moan was heard, which drew the attention of the men. Harry knew the princess had regained consciousness. He wished she hadn't but now the circumstances were shifted in the favor of the Ruler of Slytherin.
"So glad you came back, Princess, and look who's joined us."
Hermione did not have the energy to move but she knew the presence of her love. She tried to open her eyes and it took her a while before she could focus. She felt so weak and hollow; her head was in pain.
"Harry…" she managed to whisper.
The Prince of Gryffindor heard her plaintive voice. It tore his heart but he could not, would not, allow himself to react.
"Your prince didn't even flinch at your plea, my bride."
Hermione knew that her fiancée was not reacting for a reason, though she was not aware of what had occurred while she was unconscious.
Hermione said in a firm yet weak voice, "Again, your Majesty, I am not your bride."
Voldemort snorted. "You will be after I mutilate the mind of your fiancé before your eyes."
"Nooooo…." Hermione moaned as Prince Cedric started to stir from his position. His eyes automatically became focused as he took in the situation.
Before the king could make good on his threat, the princess found her strength renewed. Acting on pure instinct to protect Harry, she raised herself from her prone position and brought up her hand screaming, "PROTEGO!"
A blue dome formed around the three as the King of Slytherin's eyes widened in shock.
Harry immediately ran towards Hermione while Cedric pushed himself up. The princess collapsed into the arms of her fiancé who pulled her up, Harry then extended his hand for Cedric to take as the blue dome which protected them dissipated.
"You may be right, your Majesty, I may not know what I am up against…but neither do you," Harry said in a low voice.
The princes now flanked the weakened princess. As the trio raised their hands, Harry noticed the quivering hand of Hermione and he fought the urge to completely wrap her in his embrace. They had no idea where the words came from but the three chanted in unison, "Desinii tuum nutum nostorum mentorum; reverta ad primordium!"
A golden light erupted from the princes and princess. The last thing they heard was an anguished wail from the Ruler of Slytherin as they felt themselves being pulled back.
Lord Ron, Lady Luna, Lady Cho, Dumbledore and King Amos felt a surge of energy ripple from the three heirs. The five heard them gasp as they witnessed the future rulers regain consciousness. They immediately went to their aid.
"The king…the King of Slytherin has returned," was all Cedric said in a choked voice as the three collapsed in exhaustion.
English-Latin translation ("Cease your possession of our mind; return to your origin")
A/N: An explanation as to what had just happened to the three heirs…The rulers try to solve what to do with the heir of the Steward of Slytherin…The heirs will find out the art of war…
Till the next…