XIII - Henry's Goal: The Seal of Gryffindor
The gusts of wind were ridiculously strong, so much that only Lord Voldemort was able to stand before it, and that was with a very powerful, multi layered magical shield around him. The snake-like Lord's face contorted into a fierce glare as he observed the figure before him stand perfectly still, its eyes glowing like two red flames.
Nearby, Tonks attempted to crawl against the overwhelming force toward Hermione's fallen body. She had to place her arm above her eyebrows as she did so because suddenly, the dark clouds became blinding yellow light. She reached out with her free hand, tears falling from her eyes.
"Hermione, I won't let you die like this!" cried Tonks choked, still unable to reach the body or accept what she just witnessed. "You can't be dead!" There was a loud bang and Tonks was violently thrown into the air along with the debris from the last unbroken wall.
Lord Voldemort channeled all his power toward his magical shield and was merely knocked off his feet by the sudden explosion. He cursed and stood again fast, only to find himself baffled once again.
That couldn't be Harry Potter.
Where the boy had been standing a second before the bright light came, now stood an unrecognizable chalk-white being with long, silky red hair that looked as bright as the flames on his eyes. The pure black aura that emanated from the being was so intense that it was clearly visible throughout his entire body. It was flowing dramatically all around him like a cloud of smoke - a physical manifestation of the most passionate hatred.
Unable to stop himself, Lord Voldemort's jaw dropped. He knew what this creature was, but it wasn't possible, it couldn't be! And then Voldemort realized his moment of shock and distraction would be his downfall as he heard the being speak with a godlike voice that seemed to come from everywhere at once.
Voldemort instinctively held up his wandless hand and thought an incantation, but the black aura extended toward him, like a giant tentacle, and it broke through his most powerful shield.
"Impossible!" Voldemort screamed, enraged. The aura felt like fire against the palm of his hand as he attempted to deflect the spell, but it was useless and the flesh was burning away fast. Lord Voldermort screamed again, half from pain and half from outrage.
The blackest aura Voldemort had ever seen went through his hand and grew within an instant to cover his entire body. Everything went just as black and Voldemort felt his unnatural heart give one suddenly painful, powerful beat.
And then he experienced something completely unfamiliar - he lost control of his surroundings, a sensation that only enraged him even more.
For a few seconds, Lord Voldemort was floating in the middle of dark empty space, no floor beneath him. He looked around in confusion, cursing angrily, and then he was falling extremely fast. The force pulling him down was so intense he could barely hear his own scream. Then he was sure he had been blown into pieces; he fell extremely hard at the end of the seemingly eternal, dark abyss below, and amazingly, was still conscious. The entire place he landed on was convoluted and strange, the skies blood red, the ground black. It was all like a terrible nightmare, yet another thing the Dark Lord was unfamiliar with.
You like to curse, don't you half-blood?
Voldemort hissed angrily at the voice. It was more frightening than his ever was and it was so loud inside his head that he was sure it would burst. Then the same sinister creature appeared before him, but there were hundreds of the exact same being, all floating in midair around him.
I will make you feel all the pain you have inflicted.
Again that terrible voice that originated from all of them at once was so much colder, the malice greater than the one even he had ever projected. Soon all the figures raised their palms toward him simultaneously and chanted, "Crucio!"
Voldemort could only scream like he had never screamed before.
The variety of sensations was too much for him to process. His body felt like it had somehow - impossibly - been instantly melted, cut into pieces, twisted and crushed. He lost all sense of self and could only hear horrified screams, not believing they were originating from him.
Does that feel good, you scum?
The voice mocking him would have enraged him at any other time, but Lord Voldemort had never experienced such intense agony before and his mind was simply gone. He was surrounded with lights that came from all directions, so many Cruciatus Curses at once that he knew it would be impossible to inflict this much pain in real life.
It felt to him like hours had passed this way before something finally stirred deep down inside him.
It was a completely unfamiliar feeling; he did not know how to identify it. Amongst the myriad of agonizing sensations, an understanding finally came to him. As his body twitched on the unnatural ground, without controlling it, he was begging for mercy.
His Dark Lord voice was so pathetic, the shame almost as unbearable as the pain. "PLEASE!" he bellowed. "MAKE IT STOP!"
Cruel laughs similar to his own came from all the figures surrounding him. The one floating right before him grinned at him, bloodthirsty, and raised his hand over his ear, tilting his head toward Voldemort mockingly.
"What was that?" the wizard-vampire asked, the voice emanating only from that one figure. The rest of them were still laughing, the cursed beams of light still emanating from their palms. "Ask again."
"STOP THIS!" screamed Voldemort, the light of the curses and the pain blinding him.
"Ask nicely," cooed the wizard-vampire, his smile widening. Then he raised his palm toward Lord Voldemort and another much brighter, and red, beam of light came out from it, and the moment it made contact, Voldermort knew it was over.
It was impossible.
Somehow, the pain was ten times worse than before. Before, he had no idea what it was to feel something like it. He was gone from reality, all sense of identity lost. All he could know was the pain. He begged but it was useless. He could hear what he was screaming, but his brain was in so much agony he could no longer understand that it was he who was speaking those words.
"Please! STOP! I didn't know! I didn't know how it was!" More and more ear splitting screams. "I didn't know it was like this! Please make it stop! I will never cause pain again! Please!"
Then it all stopped so abruptly, Voldemort yelped with surprise. He was curled on the floor in a fetal position, shaking uncontrollably, sobbing, his face wet with unnatural tears. He screamed as soon as he saw the wizard-vampire stand close to him, smiling down at him.
Voldemort crawled away from the horrible being, wailing, his eyes wide with terror as he watched his attacker slowly approach him. He was still in so much pain that he hadn't noticed the surroundings had changed. They were back on the ruined house, and Voldemort was crawling over the debris, unable to stand, his limbs extremely weak and sore.
"You will never cause pain again, you say?" Now it was just one terrible being, his voice condescending and full of venom. "Oh, how surprising! Are you redeemable then, half-blood?" The wizard-vampire still slowly approached the pathetic, retreating figure of Lord Voldemort, savoring each moment. "Why should I spare you?"
"P- Please," replied Voldemort, each movement feeling like it would cost him a limb. "Forgive me," he begged.
The wizard-vampire kept his delighted smile as he finally reached down and grabbed Lord Voldemort by the collar of his robe, effortlessly lifting him above the ground. "Why should I forgive you?" the attacker asked coldly, his red eyes glowing with hatred.
"B - Because I - I won't do it again," begged Voldemort, his voice shaking from weakness and terror. "I swear, n - now I know w - what it's like... p - please, spare me."
The attacker threw his head back and laughed loudly and cruelly, his grip tightening. "You know what it felt like for all your victims now?" he sneered. "It was about time."
"S - Show me mercy, please," pleaded Voldemort, limp and powerless.
The wizard-vampire's smile grew, and became even more bloodthirsty than before. "Alright, I'll show you mercy," he cooed softly, deceivingly, but then the tone changed into one of pure hatred, a savage growl. "The same mercy you showed all your victims, you filthy rat!"
Voldemort's eyes were unable to register the movement.
Before he knew it, there was an extremely sharp pain on the side of his neck. The wizard-vampire's fangs were buried deep inside the abnormally white flesh of Lord Voldemort, the bite so hard it should have broken his neck.
The liquid inside was odd, unlike any human's blood, yet warm. The vampire consumed it like any other delicious meal, gush after gush, the unnatural pull on the veins completely paralyzing Lord Voldemort's body.
And at that moment the vampire Harry understood everything about Voldemort's life, from early childhood until the present day.
He saw and understood all of the half-blood's passions, about his wretched quest for power and immortality, especially the years before his rise to power as a Dark Lord. Within a few seconds, he witnessed all of Voldermort's struggles and determined efforts to find one wise enough, powerful enough, to teach him what he wanted...
And then, amongst the ocean of rapid images only a vampire's mind could comprehend, he saw Henry Cunningham. His attention immediately focused, for an instant, on a few select memories.
The images revealed his Maker standing beside a young and human Tom Riddle in front of a real-life sized statue of Salazar Slytherin. The white marble was crafted into perfection to show all of the famous wizard's well-known attributes; the long beard and straight long hair, the severe looking eyes and strong jaw. An intimidating man even in stone. Riddle was kneeling before it, beaming with amazement, while Henry Cunningham watched him with a mischievous smirk.
"Lord Cunningham," Riddle was whispering excitedly, his fanatical gaze focused only on the statue. "Thank you! This is perfect! The Great Lord's most valued possession shall be my Horcrux at last!" He had his arms raised toward it reverently.
"Perform the ritual flawlessly, my apprentice, and you shall achieve what no mortal wizard has before," declared Henry, his grin widening. How the poor half-blood had stubbornly begged to be turned, only to be refused every time until he had no choice but to look for immortality elsewhere. How he, Henry, savored each moment of Riddle's struggle - all evident on his expression.
Harry was suddenly horror-struck. Why did Henry help Voldemort? He suddenly felt ashamed for not having known better. He should have trusted his gut feeling about the most cunning of all Slytherins.
But then he was distracted from the variety of emotions that came to him. The next set of images showed Voldemort's Horcrux ritual and how the core of his being, in the form of his dark aura, extended to envelop the majestic statue. He saw the strange, ancient rune shine for only a second on the statue's chest, right at the end of the long ritual, after Riddle had stabbed a helpless muggle in the chest to finalize the evil spell.
Then Harry felt something he had never felt before while feeding; like he completely merged with Voldermort - to his intense disgust. There was something tying him to the hated half-blood, something he couldn't comprehend or control.
Panicked surfaced within him for the first time.
He lost sense of time or his surroundings. He couldn't stop feeding and he knew Lord Voldemort's unnatural life was fading, but even so, he couldn't move, his fangs still inside the flesh. His chest hurt, and there was a strong tug, as if by feeding from Voldemort he was feeding from himself. He stopped sucking the blood but he knew his aura was somehow leaving him, inexplicably, along with the fading life force of Lord Voldermort, soaring above both of their bodies.
And then, without warning, Harry felt his aura return to him so abruptly he was knocked backwards. He fell hard on the ground, suddenly blind with pain and completely disoriented.
But even among the shock and confusion, Harry noticed something had changed. The ground was no longer a terrain filled with debris. It was a smooth and cold stone floor.
It felt like his body was on fire.
He tried to focus on where he was but his vision was blurry. His chest was inexplicably sore, as if a part of him had been ripped off. He looked at his hands but could only see them clearly when they were a few inches away from his eyes. The color had gone from chalk white to his usual fair skin, and he felt the long mane of hair that had appeared before shrink back to its previous length.
Something in front of him was making a loud whooshing noise and radiating a strong, white light. In that same direction, something was drawing him closer and a powerful wind blew from behind him. The painful heat was going away but instead leaving him feeling strangely singed from the inside. Harry blinked hard, crouching on the floor, until he finally managed to see what was happening before him.
Lord Voldermort was a mere dried up corpse floating in midair before Harry. The same rune from the Horcrux ritual was shining brightly above his chest, the color pure black, and immediately Harry knew that it was composed of his own, pure black magical aura. A few seconds later, the rune expanded and the body burst into dust that was immediately dispersed by the wind.
But before Harry could process what he saw behind it, the light intensified exponentially and the magnetic pull disappeared. Instinctively, he covered his eyes with the sleeve of his robe and summoned all his remaining strength. He stood up and backed away, against the strong unnatural winds that seemed to move around like a tornado.
Then a remarkably strong hand seized his shoulder and forced him to kneel.
Startled, Harry disentangled himself from the hold and saw that Henry Cunningham was also kneeling right beside him, a smug, euphoric smile on his handsome face. Harry felt his power had been almost completely drained and realized, to his intense annoyance, that an attack would be useless.
"You succeeded," his Maker told him, his smile growing. "Congratulations. Now watch," he ordered, gesturing forward with his chin.
"What's going on?" Harry demanded angrily. Every movement he attempted sent a wave of pain throughout his entire body. "What did you do?"
"Calm down and sit still," insisted Henry, holding Harry down by the arm. "All will become clear very soon. For now, observe quietly."
Amongst the confusion and the bright light before him, Harry managed to take in some of his surroundings.
He was inside the Chamber of Secrets.
They were on the center of the large, dark chamber. It was an underground atrium that led to many narrow passages, and on each side there were about ten huge serpent statues, all lined up and baring their fangs. Right in front of him was the end of the Chamber's main passageway, the place he knew there was a very huge, carved out face of Salazar Slytherin, out of which a huge basilisk had come out to attack him years before. Only that this time, there was something else right in front of it, a silhouette that seemed to be the source of the light and the gusts of wind. It looked humanoid, but it was completely still - like stone - a shadow within the bright light.
Then Harry noticed that there were two others.
A few feet beside Henry knelt Draco Malfoy, and next to him, Ginny Weasley.
Caught off guard by her presence, Harry shot her a quizzical look, but soon noticed the terrified expression on her face. As soon as she met his gaze her eyes became even wider.
"Harry!" she cried desperately and moved to stand, but Draco seized her arm and pulled her back down to her knees. Her face was wet with tears, her entire body shivering, and her eyes moving around her surroundings with intense horror. Draco, on the other hand, looked the happiest Harry had ever seen him as he observed the phenomenon very closely. Harry stared at him for a few moments but then felt his Maker pull his arm.
"Witness what is about to happen, young one," Henry demanded, his free hand gesturing forward. "The miracle of a millennia."
Still confused and angry, Harry had no choice but to obey.
For the first time, he noticed the two yellow lights that were originating from eyes like those of a basilisk, shining even brighter than the fading white light that originated from the humanoid figure. The winds were subsiding and collecting, it seemed, behind the figure, causing a strong sucking sensation for a few seconds. As soon as the wind was gone there came one last ray of bright light and then all was still and quiet.
Harry saw it clearly for the first time.
Snow white marble carved into perfection was before him, the statue portraying an instantly recognizable middle aged wizard in one of the classic dueling stances; his right hand - usually the armed one, but in this case, wandless - was extended forward, index and middle fingers pointing at the target, and the left hand placed near the right forearm with the purpose of shield casting. The posture was perfect and graceful, every detail about the correct angles of the arms and legs flawless, the result of a dueling master frozen in time during a battle.
Then the statue's wizard robe changed within a few seconds.
It gradually became dark and cloth like, completely losing the texture and appearance of marble, which made it look like the garments had been placed on the statue itself. The hair became life like as well, transforming from stone into a flowing black mass, as well as the long, dark beard. Yet the flesh on the body and the face remained chalk-white and as hard as marble - the face of Salazar Slytherin.
And the face was slowly moving.
Harry was stunned. The figure's eyelids appeared to become liquid stone for a few seconds as they slowly closed, the yellow light behind them suddenly gone. The texture seemed almost as hard and white as marble, but Harry could finally tell it was slightly different. It was the extremely hard flesh of a really ancient vampire. During each tiny motion, the surface seemed to instantly melt only to return to its stone like appearance as soon as it became still again, as if it had never moved. The figure's mouth opened and, with one loud intake of air - the first in a millennia - the stone like being awkwardly fell on his knees, the body excessively stiff. His yellow eyes slowly absorbed the surroundings, the expression on the face one of complete shock.
"At last...My Master..."
Henry's reverent voice came from right beside Harry, but he couldn't move his gaze away from what was before him. Every slight movement as the being slowly began to breathe again looked too remarkable, the stone-like texture liquefying for an instant and then returning to its previous state, as if there had been no movement at all.
Henry Cunningham, his eyes shining with excitement, stood and approached the extraordinary being, closely followed by Draco Malfoy, who was dragging Ginny by her wrist. The red haired girl had even more tears falling down her cheeks as she quickly reached out to Harry with her free hand when they walked past him, but couldn't reach. Harry knew she still expected him to save her, to rush to her aid, but his body forced him to remain motionless. He could only observe quietly, clutching his aching chest, his breathing labored. The pain throughout his body and the exhaustion made him feel like he was made of lead.
He could only observe, helpless, as Henry Cunningham gracefully knelt in front of Salazar Slytherin and, after a low bow, spoke to his Maker in a reverent, emotional tone. Harry immediately noticed Henry was perfectly speaking Latin, the universal wizard language during the Middle Ages. For the first time, he felt immensely relieved that learning the language was still mandatory at Hogwarts.
"Valetudo exsisto vobis, meus optimates," [Health be with you, my Great Lord] greeted Henry, and the stone like being's yellow eyes focused only his fledgling's face, recognition slowly surfacing. Harry heard his Maker as he continued speaking, this tone soft and affectionate, as if speaking to his sickly father. "A millennia has obduco utpote Gryffindor locus suus miserabilis Signum. Ego curo subterfugio, quod pro vicis ego insisto is terra, lost vacuus vestri Valde regimen, pallens insquequo meus vox sensim reverto volo. Iam nostrum vires quod palma vadum reverto. Imbibo ex is vas of vita, Vinco, cruor of septem. [A millennia has passed since Gryffindor placed his wretched Seal. I managed to escape, and for centuries I tread this earth, lost without your Great guidance, weak until my power gradually returned to me. Now our strength and glory shall return. Drink from this vessel of life, Master, the blood of seven.]
Henry gestured with his hand and immediately an intimidated but very determined Draco Malfoy approached them, dragging Ginny Weasley behind him.
The helpless young witch whimpered as Draco forced her to her knees right next to Henry. The blonde wizard glared down at her, pressing down her shoulders to keep her still.
Then Henry seized her face with both hands, startling her, but a second later she became motionless, her eyes wide with fear. The deceivingly young looking wizard-vampire switched back to modern English as he spoke to her.
"Don't worry, sweetheart. There will be no pain," Henry assured her softly as he gently caressed her face with his fingers, wiping away her tears. Her eyes became more dazed each second as she looked into his. "Stay still and quiet. No pain."
Ginny's eyes would not leave Henry's, and her breathing became progressively slow and rhythmical. Fear left her pretty face and was replaced with complete peace and tranquility.
"Do not move," Henry ordered, still softly, as he moved her neck closer to Slytherin's stone-like mouth. The elder vampire seemed more than eager to drink the much needed liquid, but it was evident the body was still too hard, each movement lethargic. And yet there was a fierce glow in his basilisk eyes that clearly expressed his newly found awareness.
Henry held Ginny in his arms, almost affectionately, her head resting sideways above his elbow, the side of her neck completely exposed. He moved the girl as close as possible toward his maker and, very slowly, Salazar Slytherin opened his marble mouth, revealing two long, extremely sharp fangs that cut into her flesh as soon as they made contact.
The effect of the feeding was visible almost immediately.
Only a few seconds passed before Harry noticed the unusual haze forming all around Slytherin's body. It had to be his magical aura, but it was almost unbelievable to Harry, who had never seen anything like it before - it had every single color and shade imaginable. As it radiated strangely, electricity forming within the smoke like a small storm cloud, Slythein's body gradually lost its marble texture. The skin was still pale but not nearly as white, and as the elder vampire withdrew his mouth, the movement had been as graceful as that of any other of his kind. Slytherin sighed with pleasure, savoring the remaining drops of the extremely delicious blood.
He stood, and as he did, so did Henry and Draco, who had been kneeling. The elder vampire gazed at the chamber he had made so long ago, but still felt like it had been the other day. He observed his powerful hands as he closed and opened his fists, slowly coming to terms with what had happened.
Harry knew Henry and his maker were whispering to each other but their voices were hushed, and the growing weakness throughout his body had numbed his senses. He could no longer keep up with what they were saying. They conversed for a considerable time, comprehension dawning on Slytherin's face. The whole time, Malfoy merely watched them with amazement.
Then Lord Slytherin looked down at the unconscious form of Ginny Weasley.
"Vigoratus puella iam. Suus cruor est quoque proprius, nos servo suus," [Heal the girl now. Her blood is too special, we must keep her] ordered Slytherin, looking straight at Draco Malfoy, who gave a low bow and immediately carried Ginny a few feet away. He carefully placed her on the stone floor, took out his wand, and began to move it close to her body as he began to recite a long incantation.
"Asriel, meus plurimus fidelis parvulus, vos ero remuneror valde pro vestri factum," [Asriel, my most faithful child, you will be rewarded greatly for your achievements] Lord Slytherin said with intense delight.
"Ego sum veneratio ut servo vos, Valde Sator," [I am honored to serve you, Great Creator] Henry answered reverently.
At this point, Harry knew his body had reached its limit. His vision was becoming impaired again, and before he could stop himself, he was laying sideways on the floor, groaning. The conversation going on in the room sounded distant, but he could still hear some of their exchanges with great effort.
"Secundum nos subsisto Hogwarts, nostrum domus, vos vadum docui mihi totus illic est scio super parcus universitas, meus discipulus. Tunc ego mos constituo ut, quod quam, Novus Universitas Ordo vadum suscipio," [After we rebuild Hogwarts, our home, you shall teach me all there is to know about the modern world, my fledgling. And then I will decide when, and how, the New World Order shall begin] Slytherin was explaining.
"Sic, meus domino," [Yes, my Lord] answered Henry.
"Vestri liberi es quoque mei, quod they ero remuneror valde pariter. Lemma vadum sto praeter meus per ut procer. Vado quod vigoratus vestri primoris unus, sit in poena quod is must exsisto gratias ago pro quis is has perfectus," [Your fledglings are also mine, and they will be rewarded greatly as well. They shall also stand beside my throne as princes. Go and heal your first one. He must be thanked for what he has done] declared Slytherin. As soon as his exhausted brain processed what the elder vampire had said, Harry felt intense relief, but also confusion and anger.
A few seconds later, he saw his Maker's face as he gazed down at him with a smug expression.
"My dear fledgling, are you in pain?" asked Henry gently as he knelt next to Harry, lifting the sleeve of his robe. "It seems your body barely withstood that sudden transformation." He moved his wrist toward Harry's mouth. "Drink. It will heal you quickly and also answer some of your questions without wasting our time." He winked, a dark smile growing on his handsome face.
Harry could only glare at his maker, still baffled at what had transpired, but the burning sensation and weakness were unbearable. Without thinking twice, he bit into Henry Cunningham's wrist and drank.
The bliss was overwhelming.
It was literally a heavenly substance, what he was consuming, he was sure of it. As the ancient and powerful liquid entered Harry's body the familiar flow of images came - within a few seconds - into his mind, but as he was used to now, they all made sense to him. In a moment, he understood.
He saw a beautiful auburn haired woman wearing what he could easily identify as an elegant, pureblood witch robe, standing in front of Henry Cunningham. It was his mother, Lily, and she was handing him a huge, ancient tome. "Lord Cunningham, thank you," she whispered excitedly, her eyes glowing fanatically.
Harry saw his mother, hours before that had occurred, chanting a long incantation that made a rune of light appear inside her baby's room. It absorbed into the baby's body, and then reappeared again on the floor, large enough to cover the entire room. Lily stood in the middle of it, moving her wand in slow, complex motions while Henry closely observed from a corner. After a while, Lily cast a magic circle, the rune still drawn with white light, and stood in its center. She held baby Harry in her arms and kissed him on the forehead, whispering, "I'm sorry, my sweetest. This will protect you."
His mother then put him back on the crib and raised her wand at him, speaking another incantation. Bright white light landed on the baby's forehead and a shiny lightning shaped mark appeared on it. The infant merely stared calmly at his mother, apparently unharmed. Lily held him again, tears running down her cheeks as she pressed her beloved son against her chest, rocking him softly.
Harry then saw Lord Voldermort as he came into the room that night and shot the Killing Curse at the baby, only to watch, flabbergasted, as the curse returned to him to destroy his mortal body. Only the strong tug on the center of his being kept him on the earth, his bodiess soul forever bound to the cursed Mordorgoth child. All this happened while Henry Cunningham watched with satisfaction, hidden in that very same room with an invisibility spell.
Harry then heard Henry's voice inside his mind, the sound as gentle as it had been a moment before.
You are my Chosen One. I waited for you for centuries.
When your mother first brought you before me, I knew you had the potential to posses the pure black aura immediately. You were the one whose soul we would bind to Voldemort's, and therefore, to Gryffindor's Seal, where he had unknowingly merged his own believing it to be a Horcrux. Only the act of you killing the half-blood could have resulted in a rupture strong enough to undo the hated seal that, long ago, had turned my Lord and Maker into stone.
Your mother urged me to allow you to live a normal mortal life until the moment to fulfill your destiny came. I agreed, knowing that only your thirst for vengeance would enable you to reach the power you needed - the power to posses a pure black aura and end the life of the half-blood, and in doing so, the bond that tied you to him.
Come, follow us. We shall teach you elements of the supernatural unknown to most mere wizards, concepts too complicated for simple minds. Awake, child, and follow... for our Great Lord is beyond a wizard or a vampire.
He is a god.
The delicious liquid was abruptly taken away from him. Harry gasped, instinctively holding on to Henry's wrist. But his Maker's strength was unfathomable, and with a slight twist he pulled his arm away from the hungry fledgling. Harry sighed as the burning feeling throughout his entire body started to fade away. But he could also feel magical exhaustion wearing him down, keeping him weak.
"Now stand tall and witness the greatest power known in existence," Henry commanded as he stood. He gestured toward the kneeling figure of Lord Slytherin, who had placed both of his strong hands on the stone floor underneath and was quickly uttering a rare incantation. "See now why my Great Master had been shunned back then and judged by ignorant fools like Godric Gryffindor."
Slowly, Harry managed to stand beside his maker, glaring furiously at him and for a moment, not caring what would happen next. "My mother and father," growled Harry, cursing the fact that he had no power left. "You watched them die!"
"No, no, they gave their lives for our cause," corrected Henry dismissively, waving his hand. "But don't worry, it won't be for long."
"What do you mean?" demanded Harry, but then he was immediately distracted by strange, loud sounds like those of thunder. He looked around and studied the Chamber of Secrets with amazement.
The large basilisk statues appeared to be completely covered with thin rays of electricity, and they were glowing with a blue haze. The thin beams of lightning passed from one statue to another, on both sides of the chamber's main passageway, starting from the one on the farthest part of the chamber toward the one in the front, closest to where Lord Slytherin was kneeling. Underneath the elder wizard-vampire, a large magical circle appeared, and inside of it, the most complicated looking rune Harry had ever seen. It was radiating bright white light.
The bolts of lightning from the closest snake statues landed on the rune, empowering it.
The light expanded, similar to how it had moments before Slytherin's return, encompassing the entire chamber and then absorbing into the walls, floor and ceiling.
As soon as it was gone, Harry noticed that right behind Slytherin there was now a large stone archway with an almost transparent veil inside, the edges blurry as if it was only partially materialized - the ghost of the same archway Harry had seen a year before inside the Department of Mysteries.
And this one was shining faintly, the water-like substance in the middle suddenly more noticeable.
Lord Slytherin gracefully stood and paced a few steps away from it, then turned to face it, his long, dark robe swirling behind him. Draco Malfoy was still busy healing Ginny Weasley, but he glanced up with curiosity, observing the archway with amazement. Harry hadn't realized he had been slowly following Henry in the direction of the archway, but stopped halfway there, still distracted by the mind-boggling scene before him. He was too busy studying every detail about the amazing rune glowing on the floor. A moment later, the veil suddenly began to glow more brightly.
Then came Lord Slytherin's extremely imperious voice, truly one of a God, right after the elder vampire lifted his arm at the archway with his index and middle fingers.
A beam of light that appeared to be the reflection of Slytherin's one of a kind magical aura, shot from his finder and landed on the center of the archway. As soon as it made contact, it expanded throughout its surface, covering it completely with its myriad of colors. Then the haze absorbed into the ghostly archway.
There were two silhouettes standing side by side on the other side.
The substance that was the veil made it seem like they were standing on the other side of a foggy window, slowly approaching from their side. Harry observed closely as the two silhouettes finally reached the threshold.
Harry felt like his heart had flipped inside his chest as soon as the two figures entered the Chamber of Secrets.
A man and a woman came out from behind the veil.
The man had shabby jet-black hair, glasses, an arrogant expression and a face identical to Harry's, and the woman had long, wavy auburn hair and radiant green eyes - his eyes, exactly. They wore wizard robes slightly different to the ones Harry had seen them wear on so many magically animated photographs and inside the Mirror of Erised five years before. They were clearly elegant, handsome pureblood wizard robes, garments appropriate for nobility.
Harry's mother and father were now present inside the Chamber of Secrets, their expressions, for a moment, one of stupefied awe as they regarded their surroundings and comprehension began to dawn on both of their faces.
Harry felt paralyzed.
Nothing about them made it seem like they weren't real, but he was still too shocked to accept it. He watched as both Lily and James became aware of their situation, and after finally understanding, they knelt simultaneously before Salazar Slytherin.
Close to the elder vampire's side was Henry Cunningham, who was gazing at the pair with satisfaction.
"Laus Valde Domino Slytherin," [Praise the Great Lord Slytherin] uttered Lily and James simultaneously in a reverent tone, their bow low enough to almost reach the floor. Their eyes were filled with admiration as they looked up at Slytherin, amazed by his presence.
"Sto per veneratio, meus fidelis secuutus," [Stand with honor, my faithful followers] greeted Lord Slytherin with his imperious voice, gesturing at them to stand. A moment later, they were on their feet. Henry Cunningham approached them.
Henry and Lily greeted each other with a tight hug, and James did the same, like close friends that hadn't seen each other in a very long time.
Harry found himself completely overwhelmed with too many thoughts and emotions, his attention no longer focused on the interactions of the ones before him.
It suddenly hit him how much he had not known about his mother and father after all. He had always believed what Dumbledore and other member of the Order had told him about them, but now he wondered just how much information they had kept from him. And yet he simply couldn't internalize the fact that those were really his parents standing some feet away from him. The parents he had never met, or at least, did not remember meeting before.
Soon, Lily's emerald green eyes - the ones everyone always told him were his - wondered around the Chamber of Secrets until they found him.
Immediately, her entire face lit up with great happiness. "Harry!" she cried excitedly, and after one glance at Lord Slytherin, who nodded, she strode across the distance that separated them so quickly, it seemed that within a second Harry was in her arms.
She embraced him very tightly, practically sobbing his name as she did, and Harry felt his body become tense with shock, still not believing what was happening, his arms stiff on his sides.
"Oh, Harry, my boy! I'm so sorry for all you went through," his mother whispered as she hugged him. "But it was all necessary. It's over now, darling."
He felt a hand on his shoulder and saw that it was his father's. James Potter was watching Harry with a warm smile.
"We're proud of you, son," James told him, and hugged Harry just as tightly after Lily eventually released him.
Both parents studied him with great pride, but Harry could only stare at them in amazement, speechless. His mother trapped him again in another tight embrace, tears of happiness still falling down her cheeks.
"Come along, son," his father said as soon as Lily released him.
James Potter was moving toward the other ones present in the chamber. Nearby stood Salazar Slytherin, his hard face full of determination and at his right side, a very smug looking Henry Cunningham, gesturing at Harry to come along. Next to him was Draco Malfoy, his expression very similar to that of Henry's. Only then did Harry notice the slight change in Draco's eyes, the extra glow that now existed inside his silvery irises. Ginny Weasley stood close to Draco, looking completely healed but staring blankly at empty space, her eyes unfocused.
"My darling, it's okay. We're all together now."
Harry glanced next to him and saw his mother extending her arm toward him, offering her hand, her body turned in the direction where James Potter had just walked off. Harry stared at Lily for a moment and noticed the immense warmth inside her eyes, the clear reflection of the all the motherly love he had missed out on all his life.
He firmly held his mother's hand and walked beside her toward the others.
Miles above, darkness prevailed.
The gorgeous gothic castle that was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry mostly looked like an ancient ruin, especially the giant room known as the Great Hall.
The walls had holes in them so huge, the extensive school grounds and even the Forbidden Forest could be seen from inside. A great amount of smoke came from where spell blasts had fallen, filling the room with the smells of different materials burning. A huge fire, product of a dark spell, burned in one of the corners, where a large part of one of the wooden dining tables had ignited. All around the floor there were bodies of students, Aurors and Death Eaters alike. Most of the stone floor was stained with blood and covered in dust and debris.
Aside from the sound of fire, there were also scattered groans. They came mostly from a petite blonde witch that was lying on the floor, curled into a ball and feeling like her entire body was slowly burning from the inside. She could no longer see or hear or understand what was happening around her. All she knew was the agony the wretched Death Eater had decided to inflict upon her, and she continuously thought how much better it would have been if she had been hit with the Killing Curse instead.
"Please...I want this to end," she thought to herself miserably. "I want to die already! Make it stop!"
She could no longer remember who she was. She could feel the vital force leaving her, but it was moving way too slow, the agony only increasing with each second. All she could do was beg obsessively for all of it to end.
Then she felt a pair of strong hands holding her. She looked at the person, her brain unable to register who it was, but even amongst her agony, she knew this was someone she had seen before. Straight blonde hair, piercing silver eyes, pale skin...
"Look here, Potter. A couple of Hufflepuffs in pain," sneered Draco Malfoy as he gazed down at the girl in his arms. "Shall we put them out of their misery?"
Harry gracefully knelt close to Draco. There was another Hufflepuff girl lying near them, also suffering from the effects of a Dark curse meant to kill the victim in the slowest way. He acted just like Draco and held the girl in his arms, letting her head fall back as she groaned.
"Why yes, Malfoy. I think we shall," replied Harry, flashing a dark grin at his new immortal brother before he bit into the girl's neck very quickly, drinking her blood in a manner he was sure was much less painful than the curse she was enduring.
Draco's grin was even darker, the lust of a newly made fledgling evidently displayed through the sudden glow in his icy silver eyes. His heart filled with glee as he let instinct take over him in a way he had not known before, but had only dreamed of. He became conscious of the two sharp fangs present inside his mouth, savoring each second as much as possible, and then he bit into the side of the girl's neck. The instant the liquid made contact with his tongue, he was lost, as all fledglings are, in the intense pleasure of the feed - his first feed. He gushed the liquid hungrily, barely able to suppress a moan as he did.
Not only her blood but also her life force or magical aura was merging with his. Draco felt as he was literally taking her life into him as he drank, a new and overwhelming sensation. All her knowledge and memories came to him within a few seconds and the feel of the warm liquid was too delicious, too pleasurable for him to stop.
Then someone much stronger than he was pulled him away.
"Now, Draco, remember what I told you. You stop when she dies," Henry reminded him with a patronizing tone. He looked down with amusement at the angry young vampire that was glaring daggers at him.
"Oh dear, I pity any mortal that crosses your path from now on!" Henry chuckled with something similar to affection. "Go on, then, feed until you feel satiated," he ordered, gesturing dismissively with his hand. Draco immediately stood to cross the hall. "You do the same, Harry," added Henry, studying his older fledgling. "You're still weak from the premature transformation. Go."
"Yes, master," answered Harry, and he quickly moved toward the other side of the hall along with his brother, where they could both sense more inviting life force.
The entire Great Hall was suddenly filled with clouds of vapor. Lily and James Potter both stood before the gigantic fire that was consuming almost half of the hall, their wands raised toward it as they attempted to eliminate the stubborn, enchanted flames. Ginny Weasley stood motionless on the threshold of the hall, her eyes still unfocused as she gazed at empty space, lost in a trance.
Henry Cunningham went to stand beside his maker, who was in the middle of the large room examining his surroundings. He could clearly feel the elder vampire concentrating his power for a purpose and observed in silence as the remarkable aura began to faintly emanate from his maker's hands.
About ten feet away from them, Draco and Harry browsed for suitable meals. Harry had to look at Draco when he heard the blonde chuckle suddenly.
"Oh, Merlin. Look, it's Lavender Brown," drawled Draco in a mock-sad voice. "Mind if I feed off your dear friend?"
Harry gazed at the girl coldly. "No. Mind if I feed off one of your friends?" he asked, pointing at a very pale Pansy Parkinson, who was motionless next to him. He suddenly thought she might be dead, but he touched her wrist and there was still a pulse.
"Drain her as much as you want," Draco sneered, then bit into his victim's neck and drank greedily.
Harry held Pansy in his arms and did the same, this time making sure to drink as slowly as possible, her life too fragile as it was for it to be worth it otherwise.
Henry Cunningham continued to observe as Lord Slytherin extended his arm forward and a bright beam of light made by his own magical aura shot out. The beam moved toward the farthest end, where the Headmaster's table had been, and over the glass window that composed nearly the entire wall behind it. The glass was mostly shattered. But right after the light expanded upon contact, the window was repaired instantly, only to be covered seconds later with a thick, cloth-like material.
"Ex cinis cineris a novus quod melior Hogwarts vadum orior oriri ortus," [From the ashes, a new and better Hogwarts shall rise] declared Slytherin with a determined expression. He watched, along with his faithful fledgling, as the conjured material acquired shape and color.
A large banner of Hogwarts School materialized above the glass window, covering it completely, from ceiling to floor. It was almost the same design it had been since the school's foundation, composed by a ribbon like material that displayed the name of Hogwarts in large print at the top and a phrase in Latin in small print at the bottom. But the color of the ribbon was silver instead of gold and the crest that was in the middle of the ribbon-like drawing was different.
The shield shape that was formerly divided into four parts to represent the four Houses was no more. Behind the elegant printed "H" there was only green, and behind it, a lone serpent, large enough to cover the entire area of the crest. There was no lion, badger or eagle - only the snake.
Draco and Harry observed the new banner, the light from the spell distracting them from their feeding moments before.
The blonde wizard-vampire's mouth curved into an accustomed smug grin. Only that this time, it was filled with more pride than ever before. "It's about time that banner looked right."
The two vampire brothers exchanged a triumphant look as the last bit of magic from the ones in their arms absorbed into their immortal bodies.