AN: Sorry took so long to update, my computer thought it funny to refuse service for awhile.
Chapter 4: Of Legends and Re-Birth
"Are you implying that you can remove that damnable collar from him?" Lucius questioned the new boy.
Dark Elves were not quick to trust and Longbottom had the reputation of being clumsier than his wife's half-blood cousin Nymphadora Tonks. There was no way he would allow anyone to harm his mate further whether it be on purpose or by accident.
"Rest assured Lord Malfoy, I am merely implying I know how to. The Oracle shall be the one to summon those who actually can," Neville stated in all confidence making Severus Snape blink at the teen in disbelieve.
"The Oracle? Surely you don't mean Loony Lovegood," Draco sneered viciously at his yearmate.
"Do you know of any other Master Necromancers?" Neville snarled back dangerously.
"Ms. Lovegood is a Necromancer?" Severus Snape exclaimed disbelievingly.
"Have been since the age of seven," Luna's misty voice drifted into Harry's bedroom.
"Nothing is as it seems," Harry smirked, remembering his mum's parting words to him.
"Too true when it comes to serpents in the lions den, right Harry?" Luna gave her friend a dazzling smile. Harry stared at his younger friend, "How did you.."
"I'm also the descendant of Gaia, remember?" Luna answered before he could finish his sentence.
"Shadow, I suggest you start explaining while I go prepare myself in the Dark Lord's Ritual Room," she airily instructed before drifting out the room. Neville nodded and held up his hand towards the Slytherins to stop them from either questioning her further or from following her.
"She knows her way even with booby-traps lying around. The collar which Harry carries around his neck is a unique one, its name is Venom. The thing not only prevents the wearer from using magic, it also drains the magic the longer it is worn. This particular collar once belonged to Morgan Le Fay who created it to spite the goddess Diana. You see Morgan Le Fay had been in love with Merlin for a very long time and felt he would soon ask to her hand in bonding. This however was diverted by his love for a young woman he'd met out in the forests one day. The young woman was the goddess Diana's favourite child, whose soul was purer than a phoenix or even that of a baby unicorn. In her jealousy Morgan enlisted the aid of Macha, the goddess of treachery and deceit. Together they devised not only the collar but also a curse which would prevent Diana from sending or rescuing the poor soul. The curse would prevent the soul from being reborn for another two thousand years. And only from a union between a witch, born from a dark family and would willingly sacrifice herself for the light throughout her life, and a wizard, born from a light family, who was tainted with a dark soul. Now before any of you start jumping to conclusions, Diana did not sit idly as the two others hurt her chosen one. She travelled to Hades and begged him to aid her in her quest. While the two were unable to undo the curse they did know that the mere existence of the collar posed a threat. The solution Hades came up with would enable Diana's favourite to not only survive the collar but also unleash powers no mortal could control, in effect become immortal. This however did not come without a price; the Three Fates insisted that they would determine the fate of the boy. His life would be full of trials and tribulations to determine whether or not the boy would be worthy of becoming a semi-god. Diana agreed knowing it was her 'child's' only chance. Hades, suspecting a trap, argued that if at one point the soul was defeated by the collar before its judgement-day he would be allowed to stand trial."
"Great, I really am a freak," Harry grumbled.
"No, Harry, you're not. Vernon was wrong, hell, I was wrong," Dudley told his cousin, taking the smaller hand into his own, "Harry, if anything you are the kindest person I know who honestly deserves this who semi-god thing."
"I'm glad you think so, considering, Harry will not really be the one the gods will judge. Lord Voldemort, I need you to summon every Death Eater you have to the Ritual Room, make sure they bring their families with them. Vixen, please summon Dobby and tell him 'the Phoenix is rising'. He'll understand what to do. I will summon the true brothers and the Veelas," Neville hurriedly instructed before disappearing in the shadows.
"Well, what are you waiting for people? GET.A.MOVE.ON!" Ginny barked at those present.
Luna finished her the last of her preparations just as the first of the expected guests arrived. She giggled, 'guests' she was in their bloody strong-hold. Lord Voldemort looked around the Ritual Room with renewed respect towards Harry's self-appointed guardians.
The entire room had been transformed to look like the original Oracle at Delphi. There were trees and other plants dispersed around the room, the ceiling allowed not only the view of the sky, it also allowed the elements in. The Dark Lord felt the soft breeze and the warmth of the sun despite the fact that they were deep in the dungeons of his Manor. There was a separate partition which contained a white, fluffy divan and had a large bowl of incense on each side. Despite the massive amount of smoke it was not suffocating the area. Lastly he looked at the sacred circle at the floor, it had been enlarged and a pentagram had been drawn in the middle. All the elements were represented in the candle-lit room and radiated the sort of ambiance one would never thought to find in Slytherin Manor, purity. The girl herself was dressed in the finest, snow-white, silk robes, ancient Greek in its design. Several other ceremonial robes were hanging off the side and she gave him one to wear. Ginny, Lucius, Draco and surprisingly Severus Snape were each handed their own robes upon their arrival. It was refreshing to see the Potions Master in different robes from his customary black. Ginny was given blood-red ceremonial robes, Lucius was handed golden yellow attire, Draco an emerald green, Severus blue attire and Lord Voldemort a set of smouldering grey ceremonial robes.
Luna then wordlessly motioned for the Severus to take his place in the top triangle of the Pentagram. Ginny was to stand at the right, the Dark Lord opposite him on the left. Both Malfoys were sent to stand on each of the Pentagram's legs. The girl then motioned for Harry and Dudley to remove their robes and lay skyclad in the centre of the Pentagram. Once the main persons had taken their rightful places she addressed the entire room, which regardless of being expanded was packed.
"Fellow wizards, witches and creatures, we have gathered today to witness the death of Harry James Potter, the re-birth of the Phoenix-Child, and the death of Dudley Vernon Dursley, the re-birth of the Serpent-Child," her lips barely moved yet her voice rang clear and strong surprising many present. Murmurs started as soon as everyone realized why they had been summoned.
The Legend including the Serpent-Child however was only still thought by dark families since the Light side had long since decided snakes were evil. However, every pureblood had heard the myth of the Phoenix-Child; it was a story they told their children, teaching them that the old ways were to be honoured and respected always lest the gods would become displeased with them. It was one of the main reasons why most old pureblood families disliked the open acceptance of Muggle-borns by the Ministry and Dumbledore. Thunder and lightning accompanied the thundering voices of Vixen and Lord Voldemort,
"SILENCE!" The combination of the four was enough to shock everyone into silence and obedience. Luna smiled at the two cousins in the sacred Pentagram, Harry and Dudley had grown irritated like the two leaders and as a result unconsciously released their joined elemental magic.
"You will have noticed the numerous plain ceremonial robes floating in the far-side of the room, please take one and wear it. Those unable to do so may go skyclad. I shall be invoking the gods soon," Luna explained more to show that she knew what she was doing rather than believing that those present were ignorant of the proper etiquette. Once everyone had settled she closed the circle.
"Hail Goddess Diana, Mother of the Earth, Mother of Life, hear your humble servants' plea," Luna intoned in a soft spoken yet crystal clear voice. Everyone remained silent, their heads bowed as a sign of respect to their sacred mother. A golden mist appeared just above the circle and the most beautiful face ever seen by any of them could be seen inside the mist.
"Greetings, Cassandra, child of Pythia." The voice reminded Harry of Fawkes, the Phoenix only he could understand her. Luna bowed respectfully in greeting then once again her clear voice could be heard throughout the room,
"Hail Hades, God of the Underworld, Guardian of Departed Souls, hear your humble servants' plea." Like earlier a silver mist appeared just above the circle, in the middle the face of the Horned God appeared.
"Greetings, daughter of Pythia; tell us the nature of your summons," a deep rumbling voice spoke.
"My Lord and Lady, we stand here before thee to ask thy help in releasing the curse which was thrust upon my brother and charge. The one who has led an accursed life and rose from its ashes time and again but the burden cast on him now will kill him," Luna answered.
"Luna dear, let us undo with the formalities. We know you've summoned us for the trial," Diana said kindly, offering the two skyclad teens in the circle a wink.
"Severus Snape, son of Vampires, will you father this suffering child as your own?" Hades asked formally.
"My Lord, I would be proud to call the child my own if he should wish it," Severus responded after a moment's thought.
"Even though, he is the son of your once sworn enemy? Even though the child has no knowledge of our ways?" the god queried.
"The son of my once sworn enemy is precisely that, the son not the father. I have spent the last five years tormenting the son for the sins of the father; I was wrong. Harry is nothing like his father, he is the most pure boy I been honoured to meet. Never placing himself before others, stoically keeping his own sufferings hidden. Bearing the burdens of others as his own. Neither may have knowledge about our ways, though they can be taught to embrace them," Snape answered.
"And how will you teach them to embrace our beliefs?" Diana asked.
"By explaining what we belief, why we do and do the rites we do, my Lady," the Potions Professor replied. The gods nodded in satisfaction then turned their attention to Ginny.
"Ginerva Molly Weasley, Leader of the Guardians, will you embrace both your peers as your charges?" Hades asked.
"My Lord, Harry is my brother in all but blood. I will give my life for him and kill for him if necessary. Dudley has come to mean a great deal to my brother, for his sake I accept till the time comes that I can accept Dudley because of who he is," Ginny too had thought her answer through before answering.
"Harry James Potter, child of Fate, do you accept Severus Snape, son of Vampires as your father?" Diana asked the stunned Boy-Who-Lived.
"Uhmm, yes, my Lady, I would like nothing more. I've looked up to the man for years in secret, wishing my real dad could be like him. I would be truly honoured, sir," Harry finished looking directly at his potions professor.
"You mean to say you enjoy being harassed?" Hades asked incredulously, none of the former formalities present in his voice.
"No, sir," Harry blurted out before hurriedly adding, "Don't get me wrong. I loathed the way he treated me in school but he was also the one who never asked to be recognized for anything he did. He saved my sorry arse more times than I care to remember but the real reason I've wished he was my dad is because he's never lied or tried to sugar-coat things to me. I might not have like to hear it but I hated not hearing the truth," Harry explained.
Everyone present gasped at Harry's casual manner, only now realizing how little Muggle-raised children knew of proper etiquette. The gods however enjoyed the open and carefree manner the teen dared to use with them, each smiling down benignly at him. "And how about Dudley, will you accept him as your brother?" Diana asked amused.
"I've always wanted a brother and for a long time I thought I'd found one in Ron and the other Weasley boys, with the exception of Percy. But I remember as a child I cried myself to sleep each night not understanding why Dudley could not be my brother. Not because my aunt and uncle would love me, I figured out at a young age that would never happen, but because he was and is the closest thing I'll ever have as a blood brother."
Several of the audience could be seen wiping away the tears that threatened to fall down their cheeks. The sheer agony and pain of a young child could be heard in Harry's voice. Nagini, sensing Harry's distress slithered into the circle, using her tail to open and close it. The prehistoric snake made her way over to the distressed teen, wrapping him lovingly in her coils as she had done earlier. Diana laughed when she saw the protective snake mother the teen who had visibly begun to relax.
"Let me guess, your self-appointed mother?" Hades teased.
"Uhmm, I guess sir?" Harry said uncertainly, earning himself a cuffing over the head by said snake. Causing the gods to truly loose their composure and laugh outright. Once they'd recovered themselves the two deities turned their attention to Dudley.
"Dudley Sangue Dursley, seer of souls, do you accept Harry as your twin? Will you bear his burdens with him and enforce retribution to those who deserve it?" Hades asked sternly, surprising everyone with his sudden demeanour.
"Yes, my Lord. I would do anything to ease the burdens on his shoulder. Harry's pure soul does not, warrant for him to have received the abusive treatment he has over the years," Dudley answered formally.
"How do you mean, young Soul-seer?" Diana asked, truly intrigued.
"His entire life Harry has suffered through the abuse of my parents and me. Let me give you a short overview, as I know Harry would never even think of sharing this with anyone. He was placed in my parents' care after his parents were killed. By the age of two he was self-sufficient enough to shower, dress and use the potty. He cleaned and cooked for the family by the age of three and responded to 'BOY', not knowing his name till he started primary school. He was not allowed to eat anything but scraps. Mind you, with the appetite my dad and I, at the time, sported it usually meant licking of the plates or salvaging something from the garbage bin. He lived in the cupboard under the stairs until he returned from his first year at Hogwarts. After that he was given my second bedroom which meant he had a rickety worn out bed, a cupboard and a desk in a similar state. He was mentally, emotionally and physically abused by my parents for being a wizard. He was called and branded a 'freak', he never knew about his heritage or the fact that he was a wizard until Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, came for him. I regret to say that I bullied him and any who tried to befriend him till last year when he saved my sorry arse from Dementors. He could have easily fled and left me, his tormenter, behind; instead he chose to stay and chase away those fiends who tried to steal my soul from me. Unexpectedly it also undid a block which was placed on my own magic. Though mother has since regretted her actions, as a squib, she tried to teach me as much as she could, being Muggle-raised herself. She suspected Dumbledore from having placed the magical block on me the day he delivered Harry on our doorstep since I'd never displayed any magic before. On the day father brutally murdered her, she begged me to tell Harry she was sorry for her jealousy and spiteful actions, as well as telling me to never leave the boy who should have been my brother. Harry's had to endure all this and more, never sharing his burdens with others," Dudley finished sadly.
There wasn't a single dry eye left in the room when the once thought Muggle finished his tale. Ginny and the twins had suspected it to be bad but they had never believed it possible to be this bad. Those who had tormented the Boy-Who-Lived looked shamefully towards the ground. How often had they not made fun of the boy who bore everything with a grunt, only retaliating when his loved ones were threatened?
Harry seeing the sad faces and the expressions of shame walked up to each and every one of them, completely forgetting about the rites which had to be followed upon entering and exiting the sacred circle. He wiped away the tears of Bellatrix Lestrange, giving her a small peck on her cheek. He scratched Fenrir Greyback lightly behind the ear, soothing the werewolf. He comforted each and every person and creature in the room. The gods were pleased as they heard the teen whisper to them, 'Don't cry. Don't feel ashamed. You only did what you thought was right at the time.' Or to others 'Don't feel bad. I love you.' When after some time the occupants of the room had calmed down the teen simply returned to the circle and gave each of the occupants of the Pentagram their own special gesture of love and forgiveness.
"Do you also believe your uncle Vernon Dursley deserves forgiveness, Harry?" Diana finally asked.
"No ma'am, if it had been only me I would have forgiven him but he killed my aunt, and taught my cousin nothing but hatred and fear of the unknown, that is unforgivable, my Lady," Harry answered vehemently. Hades smiled,
"Then I believe each of you have past the test. Those of you gathered here as witnesses have proven yourselves not only loyal to the one you serve but also to the Children of the Gods. Now be witness to the end of their mortality" Hades declared. Out of nowhere Fawkes appeared and burned Harry alive while Nagini bit Dudley with a fast acting poison. The moment they were dead, the Goddess of Life spoke,
"Rise from the ashes Children of the Gods. Thunder and Lightning, Children of the Serpent and the Phoenix. So mote it be."
With her departing words still ringing in the air, the witnesses to the event saw two babies crawl out of their eggs and grow before their very eyes until a mere ten minutes later the teens stood as they had before, with only slight differences to their bodies.
Harry's scar was gone for one, his wild mop of hair now long and wavy, his facial features a bit more aristocratic and his olive-toned skin, golden. He also sported red Phoenix-wings. Dudley on the other hand looked more athletic, his golden hair in a similar fashion as his now twin. While his features too were aristocratic, his complexion was a milky-white. The two were, while similar also exact opposites. Dudley's dark green wings were made out of snake-scales and his birthmark was on his left shoulder while Harry had his on his right. Their birthmark looked like a tattoo of a serpent and a phoenix entwined together.
"Remember children, your true destinies begin now," Hades added as he too faded away.
AN: For those who are not aware, 'skyclad' is the decent wiccan name for naked. It is often done during rites.