Author's Note: The following will be in Italics: Parseltongue, thoughts, flashbacks, letters, spells and dreams. Anything else incorporated with Italics will be duly mentioned.
Author's Note: Any additional notes, such as characters and spells made by me, will be duly mentioned. I'd rather not be accused of stealing, thank you very much.
Disclaimer: As much as I wish to the contrary, JKR owns this world. I'm just messing with it.
Full Summary: Harry Potter was accused of the murders of his relatives, and thrown into Azkaban. Nine years later, he was released. With the threat of Voldemort looming over the world, can Harry put aside his differences and save the world from Voldemort for good? SlightlyDarkHarry, eventual HPDG.
Chapter Five: Destiny Denied
The skies of the world beyond the veil were clear, but day and night seemed to fly by as though heightened to a speed tenfold its normal rate. The two newly transformed wizards had been flying for hours, or days, at this point, and while it felt like so much shorter, it looked so much longer. It was hard to determine exactly what it was, but Harry Potter's new animal sense seemed to think it had only been about three hours since they had gotten rid of the Dementors. How the Hippogriff within knew this, he was not sure of, but he trusted it. It had saved them from the Dementors, that was for certain, by being able to fly for so long without rest. Only one more horde had attacked them ever since, and they had been left behind easily as the Hippogriff and Thestral were far, far more agile.
Harry had long decided that the time in this world simply moved ten times faster than it did in the real world. At least four days in this world had passed by now, if the speed of the sun was any indication, which meant that at least ten hours had passed since he had crossed through the portal leading into this world. There was no way of knowing if this was true or not, but it seemed a fair estimation to Harry. He had no watch, so he had nothing but instincts to rely on in this case.
There was still no sign of Fred and Daphne, and certainly no sign of Sirius. Harry was sure he saw the bodies of the wandering dead around other areas, but nobody he recognized. He wondered if they were actually dead, and not simply trapped in limbo, like Sirius was. This made him wonder if he'd see his parents in this world. It was a thought that somewhat terrified him, since he would not only be technically older than his parents, he'd be seeing them for real for the first time in almost twenty-four years (he didn't count the echoes of the Priori Incantatem). Not to mention the fact that Harry knew James' hatred of Severus, and that was not something he wanted to discuss with his father; after all, Severus had become a friend of Harry, and James would not like this one little bit, not even if it was his son, who had grown up without James and Lily for almost his entire life.
Now he wondered why he cared what his parents would think, when the people they had sided with had betrayed him so long ago. He still loved his parents, as only he could, but their opinions and their beliefs could go to hell as far as he was concerned.
Scanning the skies with his green eyes, Harry saw that they were coming up to a large city. It looked remarkably like London. He didn't want to stop, and he told George as much.
'That's fine,' responded George, who was not bothering to look over at him, but instead scanned the city. 'There's nothing in Parallel London for us to see anyway. It's almost empty, from what I see.'
He was right. When Harry swooped down and looked at the streets, he saw that they were completely empty aside from one or two people, who looked to be wanderers of the world. He shook his feathered head impatiently, wondering what other surprises this world held for them. There was no one here. Nobody was appearing out of the shadows, and no one was calling out to them.
Well, we are animals, he reminded himself. I'm sure Daphne and Fred aren't expecting that.
He ascended again, rejoining George in the air, and picked up his speed. George, who had the incredible speed of a Thestral, was easily able to keep up. They continued their search, knowing how little time they had; the real world was still in danger, and Harry was worried for Severus and the others. He knew they could defend themselves, but he wasn't sure what Voldemort was planning, as his scar seemed to be nonexistent in this world; it had not throbbed once since he had come here.
'Well, that was painful,' muttered one Fred Weasley to himself as he stood up and brushed himself off. 'Do I not have scars anymore?' He ran his hand over his face, feeling nothing but unmarked flesh. 'Well, what do you know? It's like my body decided to heal itself. At least I'm not naked...'
Fred looked around him, unsure of where exactly he was. It all looked so familiar, yet so different. Looking up, he saw that the sky was a crimson red, and a dark one at that, and the sun was actually moving at a speed that the eye could detect.
'Time is faster in this world,' he commented under his breath. 'Then how effing long have I been unconscious?'
He looked around him again, and noticed that the surrounding area was a peculiar sight, as though he were underwater; everything was swishing a little.
'I can't breath underwater, can I?'
He pulled out his wand from his pocket and muttered the Levitation Charm on himself, bringing himself up into the air so he could see around him. The scenery looked as though it could stretch on forever; whatever this place was, it might have been some sort of alternate version of the real world.
'Where are you, brother?' Fred whispered. 'I can barely feel your presence right now. Is this world blocking our bond as twins? Are you... still alive?'
He let the charm falter and fell, landing on his feet. Conjuring a broomstick, he hopped on and took off towards the east, hoping to find his brother and the others.
It was several hours later that he was passing through some sort of town, and he realized with a jolt that it looked exactly like London.
'George!' he shouted through the streets, as he landed his broom in the middle of the road and shouted into the world around him. 'Harry! Daphne! Where are you guys?'
There was no answer, no calling reply. He was all alone. There was no one else in the world around him, and he couldn't stand it. He was used to the presence of all kinds of other people, and whether he enjoyed that presence or not, he certainly missed it now. As it was, there was no one returning his yell, and his eyes, for a moment, stung with tears.
Suddenly, a shadow swooped over him, and he looked up.
A Hippogriff was flying overtop him, except it was the most peculiar Hippogriff he had ever seen. It was jet-black in color and easily bigger than any normal Hippogriff as far as Fred knew. It seemed to be looking for something. Its eyes were scanning the ground, as though it could see everything below it. Fred wondered if it had the intelligence of a human; it seemed to be a lot smarter than any Hippogriff he had seen in his life.
'OY!' shouted Fred. 'DOWN HERE!'
The Hippogriff, however, did not notice, and it soon took off into the sky again, joined by a Thestral. The two creatures flew together to the east and out of view.
Fred cursed loudly.
'IS THERE ANYBODY HERE?' he screamed. 'HELLO? ANYBODY? WHAT IS THIS PLACE?'
No sooner had the words left his mouth, a cackling laugh was heard from somewhere to his right, out of his line of sight.
'Ahaha! Yeh be in the land of the dead, lad! There ain't anybody here to hear yeh scream.'
Fred spun around, letting his broomstick fall to the ground, and pointed his wand at the source of the voice. A cloaked figure was walking out from one of the alleyways, leaning on a long wizard cane, his hood concealing his face. A gleaming dagger was fastened to his belt, which was covered by his cloak; Fred could see the gleam of the silver.
'Who are you?' Fred demanded, holding his wand with both hands, and keeping it directed at the cloaked man. 'What do you want with me?'
'I don' want nuffin', son,' sneered the old man, holding his cane tightly and leaning slightly on it. 'I be havin' everythin' I needs where I be standin'. You ain't lookin' so bad. I's wonderin' what yeh're doin' here in the land of the wandering damned.'
'That's not your concern,' spat Fred, disgusted at the man's appearance, which seemed to be rotting. He must have been over a hundred years old. Long, dirty white hair hung from inside his hood. 'Who or what are you?'
The man laughed again.
'I's a wizard, jus' like yeh are, yeh ignorant fool,' he cackled, and he pulled the dagger out of his belt and held it at his side, his long, sickly fingers keeping a tight grip on it. With his other hand, he pulled off his hood magically with his cane. 'Yeh wants to know my name? Yeh got it! I be Morfin, the son o' Marvolo Gaunt! I am an heir teh Slytherin!'
Fred's insides froze over. This man was the son of Marvolo Gaunt? He had heard about the Gaunts from Blaise Zabini, who had researched them a few years back. Morfin was the brother of Merope Gaunt, who was the mother of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
This man was Lord Voldemort's uncle.
'I'm not afraid of you,' shouted Fred, though he sounded a little afraid. This man was easily four times his own age from the way he looked and also looked as though he were an ancient mage. He wondered if that was what the man was. 'Though I wonder why you look like you're a hundred years old, when you supposedly died while your nephew Riddle was only a teenager. You're not that many decades older than he is.'
'I'm only 'bout sixty years old, yeh stupid blood traitor,' laughed Morfin. 'This is me body decayin'. I be much younger an' much tougher than I be lookin' righ' now.'
'You don't look all that tough,' snapped Fred.
'Care to take tha' bet, fool?'
Fred moved back a little, allowing space for a duel, and Morfin Gaunt sneered.
'You're on, Gaunt,' Fred yelled.
Morfin Gaunt jeered, and leapt backwards through the air as though he could fly. He landed on his feet a good fifteen feet away from where he had stood, and he raised his cane.
'Serpensortius!' he hissed.
A long black figure erupted from the tip of his wand, throwing itself to the ground in front of him. It was at least twenty feet long and about three feet round. Its eyes were yellow, and its serpentine figure curled and uncurled, hissing at Fred, who was rooted to the spot in surprise.
He's a Parselmouth, Fred thought with horror. This isn't good.
Morfin was hissing at the snake, in some sort of speech that Fred could neither understand, nor recognize. He knew it was Parseltongue, and the knowledge that he was right terrified him to his very skin.
The snake suddenly lunged at Fred, easily covering the distance between them, its fangs dripping with venom. Fred reacted instinctively. He non-verbally summoned his broomstick and jumped on, dashing into the air.
Morfin merely smirked.
The snake sprang upwards in another lunge, and grabbed the end of Fred's broomstick with its teeth. It hung off of the broom, and Fred felt the extra weight upon it as he was pulled down a little. Morfin had his wand pointed at the snake and was muttering something in Parseltongue, and the snake was steadily getting heavier.
Oh, no, you don't, Fred thought angrily. Pointing his wand right in the snake's face, he snarled, 'Depulso!'
The snake was banished, removed from the broom with a fast-paced smash into the ground below.
'Evanesco!' called George. The light hit the snake, and it smoldered until it vanished into thin air, its ashes blown away. Morfin looked at the snake as it vanished, and his twisted grin also disappeared, replaced with a snarl.
'You dare destroy my snake, the pride of Salazar Slytherin?' he roared, his lack of proper English skills forgotten as he sprung his wand on George. 'Suffer, blood traitor! Crucio!'
Fred stood up on his broom and jumped off just as the red light smashed into it, blowing the broomstick to smithereens. The red-headed twin fell to the ground and landed on his feet, breaking his own fall. He stood up and brandished his wand at the old Slytherin descendent, to find that he had disappeared.
'Behind yeh, fool!' cackled Morfin.
Fred spun around again, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Morfin toss the gleaming dagger with a sweeping motion, aimed right at Fred's heart. He had not a moment to waste.
'Depulso!' he cried.
The knife was halted in midair and flung back in the same direction. It shot at Morfin, the same way it had shot from him, and struck Morfin right in the heart.
Morfin sagged, his chest covered with his own blood, as the knife tore through his body, coming to a halt on the ground behind him, now red as well as silver. Morfin gave a yell and staggered, leaning on his cane. His face was hidden by his long, filthy hair. Then Fred heard him snicker.
'Yeh fool,' Morfin whispered, standing up straight again, his hair still covering his face. 'Did yeh think it would be that easy? Yeh have no idea how this world works! The damned are immortal here! Nothing yeh throw at me will work!'
Even as he spoke, Fred could see his body healing itself, the hole in his chest closing, and his clothes reforming with his skin. He flung his hair out of his face with a flick of his head, and Fred could see with repulsion that he was grinning. The wound closed, his clothes and skin healed, and he was perfectly fine again. He conjured another dagger magically.
'I s'pose if I can' throw it at yeh,' sneered the old man, 'slashin' yeh to bits will work well.'
He raised the dagger and, against his own words, threw it like a flying wheel at Fred, who deflected it with a Shield Charm. He spun on the spot to evade the forced momentum of the dagger and shouted, 'Impedimenta!'
Morfin was blasted backwards by the force of the spell, but he caught himself in midair, floating ten feet above the ground. He spun his cane in his hand over his head, brought it down to point at Fred's face, and shouted, 'Crucio!' Fred just barely dodged it, having to throw himself from the path of the spell, which smashed the ground around it. Morfin laughed; he was enjoying the torment. He spun his cane in front of him, never letting it stop, and a barrage of Stunners flew at Fred in waves, propelled by the spinning wheel that was Morfin's long cane.
'Can yeh take that, scum?' Morfin sneered.
Fred pointed his wand upward and covered himself in a full-body shield charm, and Morfin's spells slammed into his magical wall one by one. It was beginning to give way, and Fred knew he had seconds before it would vanish and he would be pelted by stunners. Then he had an idea.
He brought down his wand, letting the shield stay put, and Disapparated from the spot. The shield fell and the ground inside its perimeter exploded with the force of a bomb from a tight barrage of spells. Fred reappeared on a small building nearly on level with the flying Morfin, who was still laughing. He let his cane stop spinning and held it at his side. Then he twirled and vanished, reappearing five feet to Fred's left.
'Not bad,' cackled Morfin, leaning on his cane again. 'Yeh managed to hold equal wif the heir o' Slytherin. But yeh intrigue me, boy, an' it makes me wanna stop fightin' yeh for t'moment. Why is it yeh came here?'
'I'm on a rescue mission,' Fred said quietly, suppressing his intense fury; the impact of the stunner barrage had injured him a little. He pointed his wand at Morfin. 'What do you know about Sirius Black?'
Morfin looked a little confused.
'A Black, yeh say?' he said. 'I know there was another Black somewhere in 'ere, but his name ain't Sirius.'
'I thought this world only held those who were trapped in limbo between life and death?' Fred demanded, not finished with his silent interrogation yet. He pointed his wand at Morfin, who looked amused at this. 'Are you even dead?'
'O' course not,' laughed Morfin, and as he spoke, his appearance became less ragged and more of the appearance Fred had known from the Morfin that Zabini had shown him. He still had long hair, but it was a grey-ish color now, and his skin wasn't as sagged. 'I created a Horcrux before I passed on. It saved me from death, but kept me here. I be a guardian to this world, in a sense, while m'father guards another part of t'world, an' me sister jus' lies aroun' somewhere in here.'
'You created a Horcrux?' Fred said incredulously.
'O' course I did,' said Morfin dismissively. 'All o' the Gaunts did, 'cluding my sister, Merope.'
'Then why are you here and not still in the living realm, like your nephew?'
'Cause my nephew – Riddle, did yeh say? – created enouf Horcruxes t'keep himself alive in the living realm. We only ever created one each, an' as such, we were trapped in limbo for eternity. We don' much like it, but it saved us from death. Out o' all o' us, Riddle apparently feared death the most. 'Tis pro'bly 'cos o' hell that he did create all them Horcruxes, I be thinkin'. I'd like to pass on, meself. I lived long enouf.'
'Is it possible for you to pass on?'
'Yeah,' grunted Morfin, 'yeh'd have to destroy the Horcrux I made though, and I dunno where it is anymore. It's been moved.'
'Did Vol- er, Riddle, move it?' Fred asked, despite himself.
'Think so,' Morfin said gruffly.
Fred thought for a moment. This sounded like something Harry could use as information, unless he already knew. Voldemort, for the moment, was an immortal wizard.
'He's callin' 'imself Voldemort is he?' Morfin sneered suddenly. 'The arrogant fool... thinks he's better than everyone else, I s'pose? Usin' me father's name to boost his own ego; what a fool he turned out t'be.'
'He wanted his name feared among wizards and witches,' Fred said, 'and he hated his own father's name, which was Tom. So he took the letters of his full name and fashioned himself the name Lord Voldemort with its letters. "Tom Marvolo Riddle – I Am Lord Voldemort".'
'Me sister gave him that name for a reason,' said Morfin quietly. 'She expected him to respect his father, whether he was Muggle or wizard.'
'I thought you all hated Muggles?'
'Not me sister. She was differen' from me n' me father. She was one of you blood traitors.'
Fred took note of this and filed it away for later use – he knew that Zabini would love to hear about this. The young man loved studying up on Slytherin history to find out about Voldemort, or any other Heir of Slytherin.
'So what now?' asked Fred quietly, not bothering to look at Morfin. 'Are you still going to try and kill me?'
'M'eh,' said Morfin uncaringly, 'I don't have a reason to anymore, now I know who yeh are an' where yeh stand. Yeh want to travel round the world beyond the veil, be m'guest.'
'Got it,' said Fred, conjuring another broomstick and mounting it.
'One more fing,' said Morfin, looking up at Fred, who had begun to rise upwards into the air. 'If yeh need me for somethin', call me name wif the Sonorus Charm, an' I'll hear it. I be hearin' anyone who needs m'help and calls for it in this world.'
'Sounds good,' said Fred, whose respect for the man had grown in the last ten minutes. He knew now that Morfin only wanted peace in his mirrored world. 'Thanks again, Morfin.'
Morfin merely grunted, before twirling and Disapparating. Fred took this as his que to return to his mission, and he took off, in the hopes of finding Harry, George and Daphne.
Where is this guy taking me? Daphne thought unhappily several hours – or days, in this world – later.
She was sitting in a magical cage, with her wrists and ankles still tied together, and couldn't move. The Silencing Charm was still applied to her so she couldn't speak either. The cage was sparking with magical lightning, and if she touched the bars, she'd be zapped. She'd learned this when she had first struggled. She had wisely decided to stay still after that, at least until she was able to find a method of escape. Without the ability to use wandless magic, she was a sitting duck.
This sucks, she thought angrily.
The man who had caught her was up ahead, riding a black stallion. He had not removed his mask; Daphne assumed that he didn't want to risk his identity. She idly wondered if he was someone she knew, or thought she knew. There weren't many people in this world, so she probably didn't know this person. He might have been a wandering person trapped in limbo, just like countless others she had not yet seen in this new world.
The ride itself was very dull. After she had been bound and thrown in her cage, the man had fastened it to his wagon, attached that to his horse, and had taken off. It had been days in this world since that had happened. She wondered how much time had passed since they had thrown themselves headlong into the portal. She was getting annoyed with her current imprisonment, but as long as she had a Silencing Charm on her, she couldn't voice this. Even if she could, she knew it wouldn't be smart to try it. That masked man wasn't the one in a magical cage.
They looked to be crossing a field right now. The sky was still crimson red, and the sun was still moving at a speed she could see. It was insane to her. It was as though time simply did not wait patiently for people in this world. She wasn't sure what she thought of this. Sleep was severely cut into for her – she had not even slept yet – and she had no idea where her wand was anymore, so she couldn't Disapparate.
This guy thought of everything. He must know just how to capture prisoners, the bastard.
From ahead of her, she heard a snort. 'It's not a practiced art, miss.'
Had she been able to make a sound, she would have gasped. Nobody had been able to read her mind for some time now. It was simply unheard of. She had it so well protected that outside intrusion was almost impossible.
He must be one powerful Leglimens.
An hour passed by, and she saw a small cabin ahead of them through the bars. It looked to be quite the home, though it was small. Not bad, I guess. I probably won't get a grand tour, though.
The masked man parked his horse outside of the cabin and jumped down, pulling out his wand as he landed. He pointed it at the cage, which floated out of the wagon and was gently laid on the ground beside it. He flicked the wand once and the top of it disappeared. Another flick caused Daphne's bindings to vanish and her Silencing Charm to disappear.
Gasping for a breath she had long since held, she stood up and pointed a long finger at the man, shrieking, 'What did you think you were doing? I'm not some possession!'
'Never said you were, misses,' said the man darkly. 'You're my ace-in-the-hole right now.'
'What the hell are you talking about?'
The man sighed.
'Look,' he said, 'you're with Potter and those Weasleys. I could see as much in your mind. You're also not from here. You're from the living world. Right now, you're in a form of purgatory run by the Gaunts, who are more or less immortal. Time flies by fast because that's how the world was set up. There's a global population here of maybe fifty people at most.'
'Only fifty people?' Daphne gasped, grasping her chest with shock. 'How in the hell – ?'
'Did I not just tell you that this is a limbo-type world?' said the man impatiently, cutting her off. 'Most people die, but those who are less fortunate fall down here. You chose to come here to find a man named Sirius Black, did you not?'
'I-yes,' said Daphne, resigning herself to the fact that she could not Occlude herself from the man.
'He is down here,' said the man, 'but he is somewhere else in the world. Well,' he added, 'the darkened version in this world.'
'But enough talk for now. I have something I need to do, and I can't have you running around. I might need you, and until then, you're not going anywhere.'
'You can't just keep me prisoner!' shouted Daphne, affronted by this.
'Watch me,' said the masked man, waving his wand; Daphne was suddenly raised into the air, her arms and legs pinned to her sides. 'There are no rules or laws down here. This is purgatory. This world is ruled and governed by no one. Gaunt may watch over the world, but he doesn't restrict us, and that's why we can do whatever the hell we want here.'
He walked into his cabin, directing his wand so that Daphne floated in behind him. The innards of the place were quite small, with only three rooms. The main room was by far the biggest, and had the most in it. A small couch, an armchair and a table sat around the perimeter, with a couple of bookcases with all kinds of books lining the walls, and a long pole that ran from the ceiling to the floor stood near the opposite wall. The masked man waved his wand, and Daphne floated towards the armchair and was seated on it. The man waved his wand again and Daphne was fastened to the chair by magical straps.
'So now what?' she spat. 'Will you be keeping me under wraps for my entire stay?'
'Of course not,' said the silver-masked man, sounding affronted at this. 'This is only a precaution; since I don't know you, I can hardly trust you to stay here while I'm gone. I'll be back in a few days.'
'A few days?' yelled Daphne in scandalized tones.
'Days, hours, however you refer to them in the living world,' snapped the man impatiently. 'I think it's something like six hours in the real world, two and a half days here. Now I must be off, I have someone I need to find.' He threw a Silencing Charm at her again, and for the second time, she could not speak. She glared at him. 'Have a cozy stay.'
He turned around and walked out the door, slamming it behind him. The room was steadily getting darker, and Daphne knew it was getting to sundown. Heck, in five minutes it would be pitch-black. Daphne slumped back in her chair, wishing she could speak, but unable to break the charm.
Come on, Harry, she pleaded in her head, where are you?
Harry and George had been flying for a long time, and they were still having no luck in finding their friends, and in George's case, brother. It was beginning to get on their nerves, and even their animal forms were not pushing down their anger.
'Did they hide themselves permanently or something?' Harry thought-asked impatiently an hour or so later.
'I guess they must have,' was George's reply. 'We haven't seen heads or tails of any of them in a long time now. How much time do you think has passed in the real world?'
'Merlin only knows,' muttered Harry.
They continued flying. A good part about their forms was that they seemed to float through the air; neither of them was tired. Their wings were large, and did not become fatigued easily. They had all the time in this world to find their friends in this world, while in the other world, something would be sure to happen soon. Harry still couldn't feel Voldemort's presence in his mind, but he knew that Dumbledore would soon know about their disappearance. The meddling old manipulator made it his business to know everything about those he considered his personal weapons, including and especially Harry, and Harry would see to the end of that when the time came. For now, he wanted Sirius back.
Another Dementor horse appeared, and George acted at once. Boosting his speed so that he could fly directly over Harry, he took a dash and then transformed, landing on Harry's back as a human. Wasting no time, he whipped out his wand and thought about his most hated memory, the day he had tried the Unbreakable Vow on his own brother.
'Expecto Patronum!' he shouted.
The silver Thestral shot from George's wand, aimed at the Dementors, who dashed out of the way. George's Patronus would have none of that, however, and shot silver light at the Dementors at once. The Dementors were blown backwards, but came back at them, only a few of them vanishing.
'Watch out for these ones, George, they won't back off easily,' Harry mind-spoke.
'They're not getting me,' George shouted. 'I'll fend them off! PROTEGO!'
One of the Dementors had flown right at George with its hands outstretched, and George's Shield Charm forced it backwards, bouncing it into the next Dementor and halting both. The other eight or nine continued at George.
'Crud,' muttered George.
He waved his wand, and non-verbally shot some sort of silver jet at one of them. It tore right through the Dementor's stomach, leaving a large gaping hole, which oozed out black liquid.
'Dementors have blood?' said Harry, astonished.
'Apparently they do,' said George, agreeing with Harry. 'No wonder they're so dark. Even their blood is dark. Oh well.' He swiped his wand through the air twice, and two jets of silver light tore through two more Dementors. 'I didn't want to use this spell, since it's actually Fred's creation and we hadn't tested it yet, but it seems to work better than the Patronus since it doesn't burn my energy.'
'Fair enough,' conceded Harry, who spread his wings further and snapped at one of the Dementors with his beak. The Dementor in question was pulled in and flung through the air. George fired another jet of light at it and it exploded.
'I could do this all day,' said George, who was grinning madly. He swept his red hair out of his eyes and fired another, which narrowly missed another Dementor – there were only five left.
'You might have to,' yelled Harry into George's mind. 'Here comes another horde!'
George looked around. There were four coming from his left and six from his right. He swore aloud and raised his wand again, only to have another Dementor rip it from his hand and fling it away. Another Dementor formed some sort of electric shadow ball from its hand and fired it at Harry, who was hit between the wings. He immediately began to descend.
'I've been hit!' Harry shouted. 'We're going down!'
George didn't wait for another warning; he immediately jumped off of Harry's falling body and transformed into midair, taking flight before he touched the ground. He flew up underneath Harry.
'Transform, quickly!' George all but screamed.
Harry was now barely conscious, but he seemed to have enough energy to transform back. A second later, his human body was back, and was falling from the sky. George flew directly beneath him and Harry landed limply on George's back.
'Don't worry, Harry, I've got you,' shouted George. 'Try and hang on!'
But it was no use: while George's Thestral form was quite fast, the dozen-odd Dementors had caught up and were keeping speed. They continued firing shadow balls at George, who had to swerve again and again in midair to avoid them all. This won't hold up for long, George thought desperately. How in the hell are we supposed to escape this?
Then, suddenly, his silent prayer was answered in the form of an incantation:
An enormous silver shield made of pure magical energy appeared around George, who, for the moment, looked shocked. Harry, who was barely conscious, did not respond, but merely laid limply on George's back. Then George saw another figure flying by broomstick towards them, a silver mask adorning his face.
'Keep flying, kid!' the masked wizard shouted. 'This shield will hold!'
It looked to be true, as the shield was holding up against the Dementors. They fired shadow balls at the shield, but all of them were absorbed by the shield, which seemed to feed off of the added power. Two Dementors swooped at the shield and tried clawing at it, but the shield vaporized them and they were burned into ashes.
'This shield is all but impenetrable,' yelled the wizard. 'You dark monstrosities won't get your grimy hands on them with this protecting them. Have at THIS!'
The masked man raised a long wand and began hacking and slashing at the Dementors, who were sent flying one by one by waves of grayish-silver light. The man seemed to be in his prime as he fought off the rotten creatures.
At last, there was only one, and it was surrounded by an aura of shadow. The man fired off another wave of gray light, but the Dementor raised its hands and blocked the attack.
'A smart one, are you?' the man sneered. 'No matter, you won't last long.'
The advanced Dementor seemed to think differently, for he raised a long-fingered, gnarled hand and shot off two dark jets of light, which tore at the simmering shield the man had conjured and blew it off. The masked man swore out loud and shot off another wave of light, which the Dementor dodged easily.
'You don't give up, do you?' snarled the man, angry now.
George wanted to help, but he had Harry to worry about, so he flew down toward the ground and waited for the man to finish. Upon landing, he looked up. Neither was gaining any advantage on the other. Then, suddenly, a jet of silver light that seemed to come from nowhere tore through the Dementor's chest, and it exploded into particles. Both the masked man and George looked over. Fred Weasley was floating on a broomstick, his wand trained on the spot that the Dementor had been floating in moments before.
'I don't know who you are, mate, but mind explaining why this whole world is crawling with Dementors?' yelled Fred, descending to a level of height to match the masked wizard.
'Can't be explained,' said the man. 'This whole world is warped. You'll have to get used to it. Even Gaunt can't do anything about it, and he owns this world.'
'Morfin?' asked Fred. 'He said he ruled this land, yeah. Or do you mean Marvolo?'
'I mean both,' replied the masked man. 'By the way, your brother's below us, as is the Potter boy.'
'George and Harry?' shouted Fred. 'Hold on, I'm coming down!'
He bent low on his broom and zoomed down towards his brother and his friend, with the masked man in tow behind him. He jumped from his broom before he landed and he ran towards the Thestral, who had his brother's dark eyes. He then saw Harry unconscious on his brother's back. With the help of the masked man, he heaved Harry off of George, who transformed back immediately, and gently laid him on the ground. He looked peaceful in his unconscious state.
'Should we revive him?' asked George, who took his wand out again. 'Use Enervate or something?'
'Leave him be,' replied the masked man. 'He deserves a bit of rest. He did, after all, out fly about sixty Dementors, give or take a dozen, and then fell a hundred feet or so, after being shot in the back. He needs the rest.'
Fred and George looked at each other, nodded, and looked at the man before them.
'Who are you?' asked Fred, pointing his wand at the man.
'Yeah,' said George, who also pointed his wand at the wizard, 'who are you?'
'We don't recall seeing you before –'
'- And we're the ones who know about nearly everyone –'
'- In the wizarding world,' they finished in unison.
The man sighed, raising his arms in surrender. Both twins looked a little surprised, but neither lowered their wand. They had this man in their power, and they weren't going to change that.
'I would have told you who I was later,' said the man, 'but I guess I have to now.'
And with one fluid motion, he tore off his mask.
Both Fred and George nearly dropped their wands in shock. Unfortunately, the biggest reaction came from the one who was supposed to be unconscious. Harry, who had just sat up, caught sight of the wizard standing before them and almost fainted again.
'Sirius?' he asked incredulously.
The man laughed, a very different laugh from what they knew was Sirius's bark of a laugh; it was cold and empty.
'No, lads,' he said, 'I'm his brother, Regulus.'
August 28th, 2005...
Albus Dumbledore was not having a good day. In fact, he was downright unhappy. He had heard that on the twenty-sixth of August, Harry had been in a meeting with Rufus Scrimgeour, and the two had discussed different issues for a good hour long. Harry had not left the Ministry that day. It was now the twenty-eighth. Dumbledore wondered where Harry had gone to. If he had tried to flee using the help of Scrimgeour, Dumbledore would have to do something about the old Auror. He still needed Harry, after all, to fight against Lord Voldemort. He would not have the young man fleeing now of all times.
He and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix were currently assembled in his office, discussing what needed to be done. Their first order of business was, to some of their anger, finding Harry.
'Albus, why are you so desperate to find him?' demanded Hermione Weasley nee Granger, who was clearly impatient.
Dumbledore sighed irritably. He had addressed this issue multiple times already.
'As I have said, Miss Weasley, there is a chance that Harry is the only person capable of defeating Lord Voldemort. As we are gathered as a group dedicated to the destruction of Lord Voldemort, we need Harry. If he does not agree to help us, we will have to bring him in with other methods. His disagreement does not hold much water – he is needed in this war.'
'And that's what we don't agree with!' snapped Arthur Weasley, who looked angry, which was quite a change for the normally jolly man. Dumbledore did not flinch. 'You don't seem to understand the fact that Harry is now an adult, and fully capable of making his own decisions! This isn't like it was before he was carted off to Azkaban, when he was only fifteen and we had to decide for him! What part of that don't you understand?'
'I think it is you, Arthur, who doesn't understand the big picture,' said Dumbledore coldly.
'Then explain!' snapped Alastor Moody, which made Dumbledore flinch; Moody had been showing signs of disagreement with the Harry Potter issue a lot lately. 'You refuse to tell us the full story, Dumbledore! Why don't you finally tell us why Potter is needed to win the war? You haven't done a good job of it yet, with only a little hint of him being the only one to kill Voldemort.'
'That is a matter between Mr Potter and myself,' Dumbledore replied coolly.
'Clearly it is not, if Potter won't even so much as give you the time of day,' Moody shot back.
'This isn't up for argument, Alastor!' snapped Dumbledore angrily; most of the Order backed off a bit at Dumbledore's sudden anger, but Moody did not, and neither did Ronald. 'It is not your concern what happens between Harry and I. Should you wish to know is your own business, but you will not be finding out from me.'
'So what are we supposed to do to help this war, or even survive?' yelled Ronald. 'Wait for Potter to come back to us? We don't even know where he is, Albus! Unless it has escaped your notice, he's vanished off the face of the earth!'
'Yes, Mr Weasley, I have noticed. This is why we are gathered. We need to find him.'
'And that brings us back to the point in which you won't tell us WHY we need him so badly!' snapped Hermione. 'We ARE members of the Order of the Phoenix, are we not? Surely this is not a dictatorship where one person gets all the authority and all the answers while everyone else follows calmly like sheep! In case you haven't noticed, Dumbledore, that's how Voldemort runs his Death Eater community!'
Everybody gasped at these words. Many people, like Molly Weasley and Elphias Doge, looked at Hermione furiously, while others, like Moody and Arthur, glared at Dumbledore. It seemed to be a split in the Order; each half was angry at a different person.
'I am disappointed at your accusation, Miss Granger,' said Dumbledore sadly, and he did not meet Hermione's eye this time. 'Unless my hearing is losing itself in my one hundred sixty-five year old state, I do believe you accused me of being just like Lord Voldemort. I assure you, I stand against everything he represents.'
'I'm aware of that, Headmaster,' said Hermione, with less venom in her voice. 'But the ends do not justify the means, as you seem to think! Harry isn't a pawn or weapon to control, or to hone, against Voldemort. If he doesn't want to work with us, we have to respect that. We're to blame for his hatred of the wizarding world anyway. I've told you that before, and if you won't listen to my word, that's your damn problem!'
She stood up, tears in her eyes, and walked away. Moody was quick to follow her, but just as he got to the doors, he turned around.
'I stand to agree with everything Granger just said. Consider this my two weeks notice,' he barked, and left the room, leaving everyone inside feeling that much more hopeless.
There was a silence that held for about five minutes, though it felt like hours to everyone present. Dumbledore was sitting at his desk, his head in his hands, looking weary. Arthur was looking as though he could use a pain-relieving potion; he was clutching his eyes. Ronald, however, looked angry.
'We're in for a long few years,' muttered Dumbledore, hoping nobody had heard him.
Unfortunately, no one's hearing was dimmed.
August 29th, 2005...
'Arise, Lucius,' hissed the voice of Lord Voldemort from his spot on his throne.
A trembling man clad in black robes and a silver mask stood up, trembling from head to toe. Gathering what seemed like impossible willpower, he walked up to his master's robes, dropped again, and kissed the hem of the robes. He then walked back to his spot and stood very still.
'Lucius, you disappoint me,' hissed Voldemort, who looked far older than he was. 'You have still not located your son, Draconis. Why is this, Lucius?'
'My Lord, it seems that my son has hidden himself among blood traitors,' said Malfoy, who looked all but terrified; he had disappointed Voldemort a lot lately. 'I have sent him a letter reminding him of his place, but he has not answered. I have no way of knowing if his letter has even arrived to him. He appears to be under the Fidelius Charm.'
'Your son is a fool,' snarled Voldemort. 'Does he not realize that he is denying his blood purity and his family name to scum and filth?'
'I am aware, my Lord. As long as he does not come back to us, I do not consider him a son.'
'And rightfully so!' snapped Voldemort, who stood up. 'Your family is full of disappointment, Lucius! Your wife, who does not seem to know which side she is on; your son, who has rejected his own life position for half-bloods and blood traitors; your father, who succumbed to a simple disease!
'You repulse me, Lucius! This pain you shall feel is rightfully earned!' He raised his wand, hissing, 'Crucio!'
Lucius struggled to remain standing, hoping to prove that he could bear the pain, but it was an impossible task; his body felt as though it were on fire, with knives sticking into it from all sides. He could not stay standing; he fell to his knees, but held his tongue. If he screamed, he would probably be killed for weakness.
After three minutes, Voldemort lifted his curse, and Lucius stood up weakly, looking deadened.
'You have earned this pain, Lucius,' Voldemort hissed. 'Never forget that. Now leave my presence at once, and redouble your efforts to retrieve your son.'
'Of course, my Lord,' said Lucius with as much strength as he could muster, and he left the chamber at once.
Voldemort turned around, facing a long mirror behind his chair, and put two fingers to his eyes in frustration. He could not deny that he was irritable. Usually, he felt nothing but anger and fury, but right now, he was simply irritable. Turning around, he clutched the back of his chair with his spidery hands, and looked at the other person assembled for the meeting.
'I must confess, I am still amazed that you have joined us,' he hissed, his red eyes narrowed on the portly man before him.
'I serve no one but you, my Lord,' replied the short, portly man, who did not touch his silver mask, nor his hat, which Voldemort was repulsed to look at but said nothing about. 'I will do whatever you ask.'
'See that you do,' said Lord Voldemort, who walked around his throne and stood at the top of his alter, looking a little impatient. 'I want you to discredit our little friend Harry Potter further. For now, making his name trash among the wizarding world is all we need do of him. Use your immense influence of the Daily Prophet and make sure that everybody in the world hates our dear friend Mr Potter. We will break him yet. If we can turn the wizarding world on Potter, we can bring him down. Not even his friends will be able to help him. As for Severus Snape...' he trailed off a little, his eyes narrowed with fury, '...he will suffer for his betrayal.'
The short man bowed, walked forward and kissed the hem of Voldemort's robes.
'It shall be done, my Lord,' said the excited, quivering voice of Cornelius Fudge, before he stood, bowed, and walked out of the chamber at Voldemort's careless dismissal.
'You!' hissed Harry, still feeling sick from the attack of the Dementor.
'Indeed,' said Regulus Black, who did not look the least bit disconcerted at Harry's angry look.
Fred and George heard the man reveal himself as Sirius's brother, Regulus, but neither of them could believe it. They had been told that Regulus had been a Death Eater, one of Voldemort's minions, and then became cowardly and tried to back out, with Voldemort killing him in the end. It didn't seem possible that Regulus could have been caught in a limbo between the living and the dead if he had bee murdered by the Dark Lord himself. Did it?
'If you were murdered by Voldemort, how did you survive?' asked George, a little coldly.
Regulus sighed. He had been worried about this. He had decided around the time he had found and taken the girl from the woods that he didn't want to explain, but if he had to, he would.
But not yet, and not in the open.
'It's a long story to explain,' he said impatiently, 'and this isn't a good place to start. I have a little villa not far from here, and there's enough room for guests. In fact, there's a guest there right now. Claims to know you, actually,' he added casually.
'What? You have Daphne?' snapped Harry, who stood up weakly and raised his wand.
'It's a way to ensure that you will follow me and let me explain myself properly,' said Regulus simply. 'Do not forget that this is a lawless land. You can do anything you want here without fear of retribution from laws. How else do you think you transformed, Weasley? And you, Potter, you transformed too. You both transformed into winged creatures, and neither of you are Animagus. Don't you wonder how this is possible?'
Harry shrugged; he had, in fact, passed it off as the strangeness of this new world. He had a funny feeling that, even now, Regulus was hiding something about them that they didn't know.
'Look,' snapped Regulus, 'just follow me, and then I can help you find my brother –'
'You know where he is?' demanded Harry at once.
'Of course not,' Regulus replied, rolling his eyes, 'if I did, he'd be here with me, wouldn't he? No, he's out there somewhere in this vast world, but where, I have no idea. But I do want to find him, and I have spent a good six years looking now.'
'Sirius has been down here for over nine years,' Fred pointed out.
'I didn't know about it until six years ago,' said Regulus, who was fiddling with his silver mask now. 'Now, enough of the contradictions. Follow me to my little cabin. You need to find your friend Daphne anyway.'
'How'd you know her name?'
'She isn't a very good Occlumens compared to me,' Regulus said simply.
So he's a Leglimens, Harry realized. That explains a lot. But I'm not going to let that interfere with the here and now. There's still answers I want and need.
'And you will get them,' said Regulus calmly.
Harry was about to reply, perhaps tell him that he himself was an expert Occlumens and therefore reading his thoughts was impossible, even though Regulus had just managed it, when some kind of energy attack hit the ground behind them, causing a small explosion.
Regulus reacted at once; barely taking the time to put on his mask, which was on in a flash, he whipped his wand at the sky and yelled, 'Leflamos!'
A bright fire, purely silver, shot from his wand and flew right at a Dementor, who had been about to fire another shadow ball. The Dementor was engulfed by the flame and burned to a crisp. Another Dementor flew past the falling ashes of the first one; George, who had recovered, pointed his wand at the Dementor, shouted 'Silveus!', and the silver jet of light he had been using non-verbally up until that point flew at the Dementor and tore through its chest, killing it.
'Not bad, Weasley,' said Regulus, lowering his wand but not looking back down. 'At least you realized that more than just Patronuses work on these Dementors. In fact, that silver jet you used works far better than the Patronus, because it doesn't wear you out.'
'That's what I said,' replied George, who was glad he had thought of it.
'Look out, mates,' called Fred. 'More are coming,'
However, it wasn't Dementors coming this time. Not Dementors alone, anyway. Each Dementor was floating through the air, each holding a rotting corpse. Each rotting corpse was holding some kind of weapon.
'What,' yelled Harry, 'in the HELL are those?'
Regulus, however, did not reply; he had gone purely white.
'Not those,' he yelled. 'NOT THOSE!'
He raised his wand again and pointed it right at the horde as a whole, shouting, 'Selvia Fortus!'
The spell seemed to trigger something, but neither Harry not the twins could figure out for the life of them what it was. The ground had begun to shake a little, as though a small earthquake had started up. The tremor was centered on and around Regulus, who held his wand with both hands now. Then it came. The spell, which none of the others had recognized the incantation to, flew from Regulus's wand and shot at the corpses and the Dementors.
It was a curse, and a powerful one. It was a large wave of magical energy. It was purely silver. The wave of energy was ten feet long from side to side and flew with a blade-like curve at the Dementors, who dropped the corpses and struggled to defend themselves with magical shields. One of them fired a large ball of shadow at the wave, only for it to disintegrate uselessly. The wave struck the Dementors, whose shields were destroyed instantly, and sent them flying into nothingness as they were disintegrated. It continued on, eventually fading into the darkness.
The corpses had survived, however, and were now standing up from where they had fallen. Tall, short and average height, the corpses seemed almost like people, only with rotting flesh. There were a dozen of them. Six of them held swords, and six of them held wands. A thirteenth one fell to the ground, landed on its feet, and brandished a long, silver lance.
'What are those things?' Harry shouted again.
'Inferi,' yelled Regulus. 'I have a bone to pick with these murderous bastards.'
Waving his wand sharply, he conjured a long gleaming sword from nothing and held it, blade outward, towards the Inferi.
'Magic doesn't work on them,' he called out. 'In the real world, you could use fire to drive them away, but these ones aren't so easily defeated anymore. You have to disassemble them manually.'
At once, Fred conjured his own sword, while Harry and George transformed into their respective winged beast forms. Fred and Regulus, however, decided to stay on the ground.
'This world is infested with these types of creatures,' Regulus muttered. 'Even when you think you're safe, you're really not. They'll strike randomly, like they are now. But we can't let them beat us! Ready? GET THEM!'
Fred dashed forward, immediately drawing himself into battle with two Inferi with swords. The clanging of swords was heard throughout the entire battlefield. Regulus charged forward and, ignoring the lance, cut through the head Inferi with ease right through the waist. The severed body fell to the ground facedown, while the legs remained standing.
What followed looked ridiculous even in the serious situation they were in.
The legs of the Inferi sprung up and dove into a kick against Regulus, who conjured a shield wandlessly and blocked it at once. The accursed legs then, still in midair, began kicking at the shielded man over and over again, with Regulus struggling to defend himself.
Fred had beaten the two sword-clad Inferi and was now dodging odd-looking cutting curses being sent by the Inferi with wands, while Harry's Hippogriff form was hacking and pecking at the other Inferi. George was in the air battling two winged Inferi. His rotting form was able to withstand magical attacks; however, the Inferi were using some kind of fireball spells, and George could not withstand those.
'I don't think so,' snapped George. Raising a clawed front foot, he smashed it into one of them, who broke into six pieces, fell to the ground, and lay there lifelessly. The sword fell point-down into another Inferi who had been battling Fred, and broke it into rotting gunk. George immediately charged at the other Inferi, who had raised its wand again, and tore through its chest and head with his beak. It fell to the ground, defeated, and exploded.
Harry, meanwhile, had torn apart two more Inferi, and was now flying away from a third one, who had taken the lance of the fallen leader. Clearly tired with the game, the Inferi swung its lance long-distanced at Harry's leg, and it missed by a hair.
'That was close,' Harry commented.
He raised a large back leg, which was remarkably like a horse's leg, and kicked the Inferi's head off. Its body continued on anyway, raising the lance again, but Harry wouldn't have any of that; he grabbed the lance with his talons, transformed back, and stabbed the head. The body immediately fell to the ground, lifeless as a rock.
Regulus was still being pummeled by the flying legs of the lead Inferi, who had begun using roundhouses, and Harry chucked the lance at the legs. It pierced both legs together and the severed half of the body was flung away. Harry then walked over, picked up a sword along the way, and stepped on the head of the lead Inferi, ending its reign.
There was only one left. Harry and Regulus raised their swords in unison and stabbed the last Inferi in the head as one. It fell to the ground and moved no more.
'Thank Merlin that's over,' said Fred, who was sighing with relief. 'Inferi in our world never took nearly this long to defeat. Praise to magical fire in the wizarding world.'
'We don't have time to celebrate,' said Regulus, who was back on his broom now. 'Quickly, follow me. I'd suggest Apparition, but none of you know the way there. Now come on!'
Filled with the stench of rotting humans, Harry and George transformed, Fred hopped on George's back, and they took off after Regulus, flying into the morning sun.
The hours seemed like so much longer than just hours for Daphne Greengrass, who was quickly growing more and more annoyed at being held captive by an unknown assailant. Unable to move or speak, she could only look around her, seeing nothing special. There were only a few other pieces of furniture other than the chair she was tightly lashed to.
She had no idea how long it had been since the man with the silver mask had left. All she knew was that it had been at least six hours, but more than likely a lot more. The sun had risen and fallen at least twice now, that was all she knew.
Daphne could not deny that she was really hungry now. She wished she could at least talk. Being silenced by magic for so long left her throat dry. She couldn't utter a single sound, not even a cough. It made breathing surprisingly difficult, though that could be attributed to her fear of what was going to happen when the silver-masked man came back.
Without her wand, she couldn't do much. She was no expert in wandless magic. She needed her wand to defend herself. To top it off, having her arms pinned down to the arms of the chair wasn't helping matters.
She strained her ears, hoping to hear some sign of her friends that she knew would never come. She had given up hope on seeing Harry, Fred and George come when she had realized just how large this new world was. If she didn't know any better, she'd say they were still in their own world.
Letting her ears work their own magic, she could hear the distant sound of winds and some kind of splashing, but nothing that sounded like footsteps, and certainly not people. She noiselessly sighed. She had not expected anything more.
Five minutes later, she tried again. There was still no result. She wished the man would hurry up and come back. He had promised to untie her upon his return, and her legs were beginning to hurt, particularly her ankles. The straps were less than kind in the way that they pinned her ankles to the chair legs. Whoever this man was, he had known what he was doing when he had cast the spell that had her tied up. The thought was less than comforting to Daphne.
Again, she listened for sounds. The sound of beating wings seemed to be sounding out. It was strange. Were there Hippogriffs in this world, or perhaps Thestrals? Daphne struggled against the straps, wishing more than anything that she could move a bit, to get to the source of the noise. It seemed to be echoing from two spots near the house. She also distinctly heard the flight sound of a broomstick.
Merlin, is this guy a trainer? Daphne thought to herself, wishing for at least the thirtieth time that she could call out.
The door suddenly flew open, and four people walked in. The silver-masked man was in the lead, obviously annoyed at something. But Daphne barely noticed him: she had recognized the three that were following him.
'You didn't mention that she was a prisoner in your home, Black,' hissed Harry Potter angrily.
What? This man is a Black? But I thought Sirius was on our side? Unless he didn't recognize me; I don't think we've met personally... Oh, who am I kidding?! HELP ME, PLEASE!
'It was a necessary precaution!' snapped Black, who looked angry. He did not remove his mask. 'I had no idea whether or not I could trust her to stay here, and I didn't want to lose a potential hostage! You are probably unaware, but there are Death Eaters in this world, and if the girl is the child of one of them, I have a means of defeating them!'
Would you take the damn Silencing Charm off so that I can speak?! Daphne mind screamed.
If either Black or Harry had heard her thoughts in that instance, it went unknown, as neither commented on them.
'Untie her, Black,' snapped Harry.
'No!' shot back Black. 'Not until I have had time to explain the situation!'
'We just fought through an entire horde of Inferi and Dementors, and all you can think about is trust issues?' George yelled incredulously. 'We helped you when you went blank, and you still think we'd turn on you easily?'
'Everyone in my life has turned on me,' said Black angrily. 'Why should any of you be any different, even if you are friends and godson of Sirius?'
At this, Daphne lunged at her bonds, trying desperately to speak. Black sighed and pointed his wand at her mouth, and she burst into speech at once with jumbled-up words:
'What are you doing?- Why am I a prisoner?- How do you know Sirius?- What the hell is going on here?- WHERE'S MY WAND?- What did I do t-?'
'SHUT UP!' yelled Black, and Daphne fell silent, looking at him furiously. 'I took off the damned charm, but you're staying right where you are, and don't YOU,' at this he addressed Harry and the twins, 'try and take them off, because they can only be removed by me!'
'I'm a prisoner because you're unsure of who I am?' Daphne yelled angrily. 'That's also called kidnap, buddy!'
'You don't know who you're talking to, girl!' snapped Black.
'Of course I do!' shouted Daphne. 'You're some distant relative of Sirius Black!'
'I'm his brother, Regulus!' Black roared.
Silence fell at these words. Fred and George looked as though they had known this already. Harry, who Daphne knew would know about this already, had two fingers to his eyes, as though praying for patience. Regulus Black looked beyond pissed off. Daphne, however, narrowed her eyes and ceased all struggling against her bonds.
'You're his brother?' she hissed coldly, and at Regulus's nod, she added, 'But you're dead! I heard all about it from Severus! You were killed on Voldemort's orders!'
'Severus did not know the full story,' said Regulus, who had sat down on the couch opposite of Daphne now, looking reproachful. 'He was a friend of mine in the rankings of the Death Eaters. I didn't want him to know that I betrayed Voldemort. I didn't know how he'd take it.'
'I imagine pretty well, since he betrayed Voldemort as well,' said George quietly.
Regulus looked up, hope glistening in his eyes.
'Severus is no longer a Death Eater?' he asked, as though praying for an answer in the affirmative. George nodded. 'Thank MERLIN!' Regulus shouted, and he punched the air in a silent cheer.
Harry sat down, rubbing his scar; somehow, he could feel Voldemort again. He pushed this into the back of his mind as much as he could and said nothing. Daphne, however, had noticed, and this brought her back to her resentful attitude.
'Can I PLEASE get up now?' she asked.
Regulus, distractedly, gave a flick of his wand, and the bindings holding her down vanished. She immediately stood up, flexing her arms in relief, and then her legs. No one spoke. After a few moments, she looked at Regulus again, and held out her hand.
For a moment, Regulus was confused. Then Daphne voiced her request.
'My wand, Black!'
Regulus sighed, muttered a charm under his breath, and her wand flew from another room and into her hand. She gripped it tightly, forced out a thank you through gritted teeth, and sat back down, next to Harry.
'How did you get it back, anyway?' she hissed. 'You threw it off a cliff!'
'I was gone for over two days in this world, wasn't I?' Regulus pointed out, while he massaged his knuckles. He looked tired now. 'First thing I did was retrieve that wand. Simple Summoning Charm at the bottom of the cliff and huzzah! Wand retrieved!'
Daphne merely nodded, wondering why Regulus had gone to the trouble, and in turn, what had tired him out about it.
'Regulus, you said that there were other Death Eaters down here as well?' Fred asked.
Regulus looked at Fred and nodded. 'Yeah, they've been down here for at least three years in your time. I dunno what they're looking for, but they haven't come any closer. If you're wondering why this world is so empty, this is why. Those monsters, and their pet dragons and trolls and sphinxes and anything else under the son, have basically erased existence in this world. It once held many people from both living and purgatory, but they were wiped out as a whole. Just like I told Miss Greengrass here, there are only four dozen or so people left on this entire planet.'
'They committed global domination?' Harry yelled horrifically.
'Yeah,' grunted Regulus, who was getting steadily weary. He looked down at his hands again. 'This place was attacked before. I was gone at the time. They got everybody in the village.'
'They didn't come back for you?' asked Daphne, despite herself.
'Nope, soon as I came back and found the place in ruins, I hid it with a spell that repelled anyone with a Dark Mark,' said Regulus. 'I figured that if the Death Eaters could use shields that rejected people without Dark Marks, I could make the opposite possible. It took three days in this world's time, which is about seven hours or so in your time, but it worked. They haven't been back in years.
'But I'm losing the point here. You see, the Death Eaters are looking for something in this world. I'm not exactly sure what, or who for that matter, in case it's a person, but whenever I run into them, I fight my way out until I'm able to escape. It's quite easy to escape the Death Eaters if you throw up the right barriers, but when they bring their mythical beasts, it's much harder to escape.'
'But you've managed to each time?' Harry asked, curiosity getting him now.
'Yep, it's not as hard after the first few times,' said Regulus. 'One of the ones down here is Rodolphus Lestrange, he's their leader. He's strong, but all things considered, I'm equal to him in skill. The rest of the Death Eaters are, by default, much weaker than both of us.'
'Are you looking for Sirius when you're out in the open?' asked George.
'Aye, I am,' was the reply. 'He's my brother, and one of the last people I expected to be down here; I always thought he'd die in battle. So, I'm looking for him to make up for lost time. We didn't have much of a childhood, either of us, and when we went to Hogwarts, he was with Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew all the time. Though, we didn't get along back then.'
'You know Severus, though?' asked Harry.
'Yeah, I do. I was a year below him in Hogwarts. He was friends with people like Avery, Rosier and Mulciber, so I didn't see him much. When I did, though, we got along fine. Severus doesn't have a problem with all Blacks, just Sirius.'
'Severus will have to live with the fact that Sirius is my godfather,' muttered Harry. 'Severus and I get along well now, but I wonder what will happen when I bring Sirius back... I know Sirius won't be happy to see Severus.'
'They will get along for your sake if they are both fond of you,' said Regulus distractedly, not really caring. 'Now, I imagine you want to know why I reacted so badly to the Inferi.'
'Well, now that you mention it –' began Fred.
'It would be nice if you told us, so that –' continued George.
'If we face them again, you won't run for the hills!' finished both twins in unison.
Regulus sighed again. He was really beginning to hate the Weasley twins. If it wasn't because of their annoying habit of speaking for each other and ending each other's sentences, it was because of their annoying habit of poking at his mind. They were clearly capable of extraordinary Legilimency, but Regulus was capable of Occlumency at an even greater level, and the poking was giving him a headache.
'It was the Inferi who caused my "death",' said Regulus quietly. All four pairs of eyes looked at him. 'Myself and my house elf, Kreacher, went into a cave on the sea to bring down one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. I intended to use a locket that I had been given years before as a fake, whilst taking the real one. I did not intend to survive, as Slytherin's locket was submerged in a powerful poisonous potion that slowly killed the drinker. I drank the potion, goblet by goblet, until it was empty. Beforehand, I ordered Kreacher to keep me drinking the potion, and to switch the lockets when I finished. Then I ordered him to leave immediately afterwards and take the Horcrux with him. He left me to die, as I ordered him, but not before watching as I was grabbed by Inferi and pulled down under the cursed water in the cavern. It was like a lake that surrounded the small rock with the poisoned basin. The continued dragging me underneath until I couldn't breathe anymore. My last regret before I would face death was that I could not bring down Voldemort for good. Somehow, my regrets were answered, because a portal opened up at the bottom of the lake. It sucked both the Inferi and me into it, and then closed. We all fell into this world. The first thing I noticed when I got here was that I was completely healed. I destroyed the Inferi that had dragged me under, but they continued to come back, until I was forced to flee. This was about twenty-five or so years ago in your time. You guess how many have passed in this world's time.'
'Over two hundred, at least,' said Harry.
'At least,' concurred Regulus.
Neither spoke for a few minutes.
'We need your help,' said Harry softly, and Regulus looked up, surprise in his eyes. 'I'm looking for Sirius. He was one of the only people I trusted before my imprisonment. When we finally overthrow the government of the current wizarding world, I want Sirius to be a part of the change. If you can find a way back as well, Regulus, we would be honored to bring you into the plan as well. For now, we must find Sirius. If we have to fight through Death Eaters along the way, so be it. I learned a thing or two through Voldemort himself.'
'You weren't an heir to him, were you?' Regulus asked calmly.
'No, no, nothing like that,' said Harry dismissively, and he rubbed his scar, bringing the attention to it. It was dull on his skin. 'I have a mind-link with him. No one has ever been able to explain it, but Occlumency does not block its direct connection to my mind. He can place false visions into my mind, and he can make me see what he sees. I've taken advantage of this throughout my years in Azkaban.'
'You were in Azkaban?!'
'I was thrown there on false charges of murder,' Harry replied, his eyes narrowing at the reminder. 'Everybody aside from a select group believed that I murdered my muggle relatives. Severus was a leader of sorts for the group that believed my words, as he and Draco Malfoy testified for me in court. Suspiciously, they were the only two allowed to speak in my defense, among the other few dozen who spoke against me, including my two bests friends of the time, who will remain nameless.'
'Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger,' Regulus said, raising an eyebrow, and he laughed at Harry's surprised look. 'Come now, Potter, I can read your thoughts, you know that. I don't recognize the name Granger, so I assume she's a muggle-born, but Weasley I recognize. He must be the son of Arthur Weasley.'
'So are we,' said the twins in unison.
'So you are,' agreed Regulus, who had read their thoughts without even looking at them. 'You seek Sirius Black, and so do I. We would do better to team up and find him.'
'I suppose we would,' said Harry, nodding at Regulus's words.
'And then, my friends, we will leave this world. Sirius was disowned from the Black family, but there will only be an heir when I return. Both Sirius and I remain childless. I will return to lead the Black family to its former glory.'
'So we now go to find Sirius?' Harry asked, noticing that the sky was beginning to brighten again.
'Now we go to find Sirius,' agreed Regulus.
It's been nine days since I updated, and I didn't want to carry on forever with both making you wait and writing one chapter, so here's the fifth chapter. In case you are all wondering, I plan to have them out of this veil world at chapter seven at the latest, in case you're getting sick of it.
Next chapter: Chapter 6: Found and Unforgotten