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Chapter 24

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Even as the batboat pulled up into the sand the men in it saw a boat that had obviously belonged to Joker.

How many purple and green boats have you seen?

Batman sighed as he looked at the battered object. "The knock knock jokes drag that boat past comical and directly into sad."

Harry looked askance at both the boat and his partner, "Batman, it went to sad long before the jokes."

Snape's mumbled growl brought the pair around as he saw the dastardly duo drag a cackling guard towards the water.

Or at least Joker was doing the dragging while Bellatrix looked on in mild amusement, a feeling which quickly disappeared when she saw the two masked men and the traitor.

Her malevolent hiss would have done a wet cat proud.

"Snape!"

She had barely spoken the words when she thrust her wand in his direction. "Avada Kedavra, blood traitor."

Raven managed to dodge the sickly green curse although it came near enough to hitting him that he had to hurriedly pull off his cloak as the spell had hit the cloth and was even now spreading across its black expanse.

Even as the cloak hit the ground he let loose a curse of his own. Although judging by the thoughtful look on his Lords face he would soon be teaching the younger man about the rather painful bone crushing curse that he had used.

Eager little sod.

Bellatrix's shriek of pain told the group that his spell had been a direct hit, and even at that moment the crazed woman stared in agonized disbelief at the ruins that had once been her wand hand.

Her convulsive grip had managed to crack her wand, which was even now leaking a rather suspicious looking black liquid.

Dropping the ruined device on the ground Bellatrix dove forwards and managed to get her damaged arm wrapped around Crow's slender waist, her other holding a dagger to his throat.

"Hah, you fucking blood traitors no better than stupid Sirius and in the end just as dead."

Before she could slit Harry's throat a deep rasping tone seemed to be pulled from his usually tenor vocal chords.

The three people able to see Harry's face all froze in shock as his eyes even through the opaque lenses could be seen to blacken to that of the darkest night.

"If we are dead Lady Lestrange than what does that make you."

The deranged womans eyes widened impossibly, even as Harry's voice returned to normal he continued speaking.

"And that you frigid bitch was a rhetorical question."

Before she could move away from the boy who had killed her master the blackness crept out of the boys eyes and in a macabre parody of tears began to creep down Crow's face.

When they reached the wrist holding the dagger one of the trails seemed to slide onto the woman. With an agonizing effect, Bellatrix's shrill screams were only silenced when the second tendril of black spun around her throat.

Bellatrix was dead the moment that she hit the ground although her grip remained firm on the dagger it never nicked the teens pale flesh.

Joker had watched all of this without so much as a twitch but the moment that her body had hit the ground he could no longer contain the fit of giggles that struck him at that moment.

Even as he ran towards the building that Belly had promised would hold everything that he ever wanted, the giggles would not stop. Dodging both curses and batarangs Joker found that his new found fear of teenagers actually lended his feet a certain swiftness that would have been lacking if it had only been Batman running him down.

But like a pack of wolves the trio hunted down the cackling figure closing in on him, and finally cornering him inside of the building all six eyes fixed only on him, tracking his every movement even as frantically searched both his mind and his pockets for a way of escape.

Finally he broke, Joker lunged directly towards the waiting three and somehow managed to get through, although to say that he was unscathed would be a lie.

Leaving strips of clothing and skin behind Joker flung himself at the closest door, the door which happened to be the one that the Lord of the Dark had pointed out to the other two men on their previous trip inside the inner sanctum of the once powerful Grindewalds fortress.

Both Crow and Raven shared a knowing glance while Batman tried his damnedest to look inscrutable. Maintaining ones dignity while attempting to pummel a clown could in and of itself be laughable.

When the three men entered the room albeit with quite a bit more caution than the permaclown before them, only Batman remained puzzled as to two questions.

Where had Joker gone?

And what the heck was that arch with a tattered cloth on it doing directly in the center of the room?

Turning to glance questioningly at the other two Batman was for a moment forced to pause because of the differences between the two expressions that met him.

Snape's face had paled to the point that his sallow skin had turned a milky white with two high points of color on his cheeks. His mouth was pulled back in a grimace of both fear and disgust. Fear which was obviously held for his master and disgust at the portal which stood so innocently in front of them.

Harry's face on the other hand was a mixed bag. On the one hand he appeared apprehensive about the room that they had entered but that was swiftly turning to joy. His head was cocked at a slight angle almost as though he heard something that the other two couldn't.

The lenses on his mask still held black in them, though less than before it had attacked the woman who had attempted to kill its master and as yet another tear like strand appeared both of the older men tensed themselves for a trauma that would never come.

It appeared to be whispering in Crow's ear, its own singular sentience now beyond question at least for the three men that had witnessed the black magics particular feats on that day.

It seemed to be coming out more and more as its master matured into physical adulthood, as though it gained in power as he aged.

Before the two men could make a decision on their course of action it was taken forcibly from their hands.

The two had been so focused on the strand that was still speaking to Harry that they were only aware of their own strands when one managed to wrap around Batman's neck and no matter how he struggled it refused to come off. Seeming to burrow deeper and deeper into the skin leaving behind only a seeming tattoo around his neck forming into a sort of collar.

Severus's own strand was doing the same and although he had every desire to blast the thing from the mortal plane, he trusted in his master enough to believe that Harry would not allow him to be harmed, and certainly not his soon to be lover.

When Harry's attention returned once more to the room in which he stood, it took him only a moment to notice the twin collars that the grim faced pair even now were tugging at.

Well perhaps twin would be a lie, Bruce's collar seemed to be of a much more ornate nature, twisting and curving in such a way as to add protection to the once vulnerable throat.

Severus's strand had lowered itself in such a way that it not only protected his lower neck but also covered a fair portion of the man's chest. Creating a fair approximation of armor around the vital organs, of the violently cursing man.

Harry's smile was soft as he watched what his magic had wrought.

"Oh hush Sev, he's only doing that to protect you, on my orders."

"He?!" The question came out rather strangled as a moment later Snape pulled out the front of his robe and looked down it.

"I can most assuredly protect those without any assistance from you, you pox laden construction."

It seemed that even magic couldn't stand up against Snape's vitriolic temper, at least in some matters, if Snape's relieved sigh was any sort of evidence to go on that is.

Batman had ceased to struggle as soon as Harry had stated his involvement in the matter. He didn't like it but he could see that the younger man was dead set on his course of action and refused to give in.

The boy could give lessons to a mule on obstinancy.

Snape of course was right up there as well and he wasn't moving an inch until everything was clarified to his satisfaction.

Lenses once more an opaque white, Harry smiled somewhat sheepishly at the two men.

Reaching out to gently stroke the portion of Batman's cheek that was accessible from underneath his mask.

"It would seem that I'm not the Lord of the Dark."

Snape's snort expressed enough disbelief on the matter that no words were necessary.

"But rather," continued in unperturbed Crow, " I am a vessel capable of controlling that which is truly the Lord of the Dark."

Batman's rasping voice caused a shiver to run down Crow's spine as the man spoke. "So you are saying that you have been possessed by a creature capable of bringing all of the creatures of the night together."

Crows face broke into a rather self-satisfied smile. "No, I am saying that each successive generation has had a Lord of the Dark and that each person has placed with their dying breaths all of their magic and memories into a single magical construct, which has over the years become sentient enough to discuss with me the possiblity of being allowed to take over the world."

"An idea which," Crow continued after taking a moments breath, "I most swiftly vetoed."

"All of the powers," murmured Snape a distinctly Slytherin gleam in his eye, "as well as all their memories. You would have almost no chance of being defeated if you did attempt to take over the world."

Harry's face lost his smile, "But if I attempted that than I would no longer be the Lord of the Dark but rather a Dark Lord which is something that I think all three of us would protest to."

"Besides," Harry said, "I can't take over the world we have to go through the Veil."

That announcement led to such a cacophony of sound that Crow was nearly forced back a step, it seemed that they were most displeased with the information that he had just given them.

When both men had spent most of their surprised ire and had ceased to yell at him, Crow began to explain.

"You do remember the prophecy don't you?"

Snape's tone and expression were both sardonic as he replied, "Which one?"

Chosen am I, as the voice of the mortal god.

Chosen is the girl to rip away his public fa├žade.

Chosen is the Bird to become his brother.

Chosen is the Bat to become his lover.

Chosen is the butler, the true believer.

To become their one and only receiver.

A broken doorway which leads them away.

Is not to be visited until another day.

But when we enter learn they will of Sauron's evil will.

And join we will a group of hero's sent to kill.

The madness which festers in those lands.

Will be eased by this joining of hands

Harry stopped there, as all of the other parts of the prophecy had come true Snape almost sighed although he did have two questions.

"Fine, that prophecy. But if we are to go into that where are Batgirl and Robin? The prophecy speaks of them as well. And where the hell did that cackling maniac go?"

Harry's answer was cheerful to the extreme although it seemed to have a rather disheartening effect on the others.

"I'll answer them backwards kay?" without waiting for an affirmative Harry began. "Joker is standing about three feet away having the life choked out of him by Batman."

Spinning on his feet Snape finally realized exactly why Batman had been so silent for most of the conversation. Not to say that he was ever the soul of words but his silence had been rather unnerving with all of the strangeness occuring around them.

Jokers pale face was even now turning a rather unattractive shade of lavender as Batman refused to allow any oxygen to reach his lungs. When he finally lost conscious, Jokers limp form was abandoned to lie motionless on the floor.

"And secondly," said Harry, "or is that firstly... ah well anyways, we are about to have company including both Batgirl and Robin in 5...4...3...2...1"

Just as Harry spoke the last word the door behind them was thrown open with enough force to send it slamming once into the wall and when it not unexpectedly swung back it left a slight dent in the stone walls.

Framed in the archway, standing straight and proud stood the imposing figure of...Minister Fudge. Flanked by two rather surly looking Aurors who looked none to happy to be taking part in an attack on a famously known killer as well as the two very imposing men which stood near him.

Severus Snape alone was enough to freeze the pair of them in terror. Both of them were young enough that they had, had him as their potions professor and both remembered him with terrified loathing.

And although neither one would say it aloud, both of them were even more frightened by the gigantic man in the mask who appeared to be just now leaving the remains of his latest victim behind.

Although Batman had never before met the man that stood sneering at them, he had never the less met more than his share of this particular type of man. In both business and bat suit.

If the over proud bearing on the officious looking man wasn't enough to tell him that the man was a bureaucrat who thought far to much of himself.

Although judging by Harry's rather enthusiastic response to the man, he was no more a friend to his young love than Joker was his.

Harry could not quite cover his disgust at once more standing face to face with the corpulent figure of the Minister of Magic.

He had though to well away from the man forever once he had escaped to America but it seemed that he was never going to be completely rid of the incompetent man and his lackeys.

Although he would pay good money to try and find out just how Fudge had known that he was going to be here.

His face wiped clear of all expression Harry allowed his darker mental counterpart to come to the fore. They had been sharing the spotlight while they explained the magic.

When Crow opened his eyes, closed as he pulled himself from the mire that was Harry's rather unstructured consciousness.

Harry threatened to give Crow a headache before withdrawing fully, allowing his frantic thoughts to die down as he sank into a sort of sleep which allowed him to shut parts of his brain down whenever he chose to.

Before Crow could so much as open his mouth all three of the invading gentlemen were shoved none to gently into the room by a rather irritated looking Minerva McGonagall recognized by everyone and if the only man in the room that didn't straighten his spine and check to make sure that their clothes were neat it was Batman.

His spine was already rigidly at attention, and he had to forcibly restrain his hands at his sides by latching onto his belt. He might not have had a true mother since he was very young but he had known and loved enough women to recognize a lioness when he saw one.

His thoughts were only confirmed when instead of ranting immediately she reached forward and gently straightened Crow's hair slightly.

"It's nice to see you Harry, although I must say I do believe that your companions dress sense has been wearing off on you."

Crow's grin was crooked and warm, as he replied, "I have to fit in Professor, peer pressure and all of that."

Giving one last gentle pat, Minerva moved on, and Batman was forced to bite his lip to restrain a smile when she patted a rather red faced Snape on the shoulder.

"Severus, so good to see you again, perhaps next time you wish to retire you can leave me more than a note, hmm?"

"I promise." Snape said easily keeping his face free of humor, " the next time that I retire from a job teaching dunderheads and incompetents, that I will most promptly tell my employer exactly what I think of them before I leave the premises."

"Thats all that any of us can hope for Severus my..."

"If you call me your boy, I will be most displeased. As you have not thus far grown a beard nor do you have atrocious fashion sense, I will thank you kindly to not repeat his words."

"Dear." finished Minerva calmly before turning to face a red faced and gaping Minister with all of the aplomb of a Scottish woman about to go on a rampage.

"And you Minister Cornelius Fudge, what exactly do you think that you are doing here. I believe that you are very far from your jurisdiction as the English minister of magic."

Trying desperately to appear confident Fudge threw his shoulders back only managing to bring his considerable paunch more into focus.

"I will have you know that when it comes to chasing down dangerous criminals that the American government backs me fully in this endeavor."

"Which is?" The question was more of a demand coming from the considerably taller woman who's hands while on her hips looked to be almost tempted to change that and place them around the now sweating mans neck.

"Why the captor of one of the most dangerous dark lords of our time. Harry James Potter, heir apparent to You-Know-Who."

The growl that erupted from not one but three throats actually had Fudge stumbling back several feet trying to hide behind the hulking figures of his auror bodyguards.

They were no longer there.

One had only moments after he had entered the room behind the minister had been knocked off his feet by a silent spell that Snape had let loose on him. Unable to move or speak other than to breathe the man fought desperately to unlock his frozen limbs from the advanced form of the body bind spell.

The other auror had been rather jealous of his compatriot. He had found himself desperately grabbing at his own throat to try and remove the kevlar covered hands which were even now threatening to remove what little access to oxygen that he had.

His eyes rolling in fear he stared into the sightless gaze of the masked man. When the man finally spoke it was the tone more than the words that had the man dropping into a dead faint, years of service to the ministry not-with-standing.

The words rasped out through a threateningly lowered voice caused a shiver to run up the spines of the rooms occupants.

"How long do I have to hold you before I convince you of your mortality."

Snape rolled his eyes slightly, oh and he was a drama queen.

Moments after Batman dropped the now limp man to the ground, both Batgirl and Robin startled Minerva when they seemed to just appear next to Batman.

Turning to the manically smiling Crow, she consciously put the other three masked occupants of the room out of her mind and pulled the boy that she had hoped still lived.

Crow's body stiffened in shock at the sudden physical contact from a teacher that he had feared would hate him just as much as the rest of the wizarding world had seemed to.

Minerva refused to let the boy go for a full five minutes she just held onto his slowly relaxing body until he allowed some of his weight to rest against her body as he began to hug her back.

When she finally released him it was with visible reluctance as if she was afraid that if she let him go he would once more disappear from sight.

Straightening her robes and waving her wand to tighten her bun once more, Minerva turned on her heel to once more face the now cowering Fudge.

She was unable at first to see why he was cowering, nobody appeared to be doing anything to him. Snape was tying up the two Auror's, the two brightly colored youths were watching his wand with interest and not a little bit of calculation. When she finally looked at the large man that she had assumed was Bruce Wayne, Minerva herself nearly recoiled.

The expression on the masked mans face was feral. The white lenses covering his eyes seemed to glow with an unholy light. Although the rest of his face was in shadow he somehow managed to give the impression of looming directly over the man he was focused on.

As he seemed to flow forward, the bottom half of his face had slight smile which seemed to show quite a bit of teeth for its size.

A slightly irritated clearing of the throat from Crow, had Batman stop and resume his usual gloomy mien.

Seeing the man who must have been at least double Crow's weight and a good foot and a half taller listen to him Minerva tried hard to hide the smile that bloomed on her face when Crow found himself flanked once more by his two protectors.

"Harry, would you like to introduce me to your friends or are you going to attempt another memory charm?"

Smiling sheepishly Crow waved his hand at the three other masked people, "The bat family. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl, and no I don't believe I will try that again, It was less a charm and more a wish then anything else. No true magic remember."

The arch look that McGonagall sent his way brought a blush to Crow's pale cheeks.

"What do you consider true magic, Mr. Potter?"

"Oh," Crow continued cheerfully, "It's not what I consider true magic it's what Voldemort considered true magic."

"I knew it..." interrupted Minister Fudge, " You were in cahoots with You-Know-Who, I knew it all along you see Minerva I told you the boys a traitor."

"Oh shut up." snapped Crow, and with a flick of his hand Minister Fudges ranting was cut short although his mouth kept moving for a good thirty seconds before he realized that nobody could hear him.

"So, now that you believe that I'm in, what was that word you used, cahoots with Voldemort you agree that he did indeed return for at least a little while. So all of those trials and all of those sentences that you laid on me for copycatting Voldemort were well and indeed false. You just didn't want to own up to the fact that Voldemort was back and you weren't going to do anything about it."

Minerva's own smile turned vicious as she realized that she had enough evidence to not only have Fudge removed from his position as Minister but also enough to probably send him to Azkaban for the crimes that he had committed.

Although she tried to hide her glee, the smirk on her face made sure that every conscious occupant of the room new just how happy she was at the news.

Before Minerva could completely drag the men out of the room, Crow's still somewhat questionable power duration for his spells failed him, and the soon to be ex-Minister Fudge was knocked to full conscious as his body hit the ground with a squelch.

HIs fury allowing him the strength needed to do wandless magic, Fudge every last shred of his remaining energy in the curse that he sent directly at the group in front of him.

Minerva's own Stupefy laid him out once more, but it was already to late.

All five of the group had been swept into the veil, which fluttered for a moment after their entrance, seconds later, the bat squealing in panic at the loss of both his master and his pet flew in as well

Seeming to whisper at the frantic witch, who was desperately sprinting towards it the veil halted Minerva in her tracks.

It whispered for at least fifteen minutes before allowing her to once again move.

Her expression sad, Minerva whispered, " I hope your right. They all deserve the chance to be happy."

Turning away Minerva gathered the fallen men in a net of magic and allowed them to float along behind as she left the chamber and then the island.

Once more the chamber stood empty, the gate within no longer blowing its tattered rags but stilled. Until its magic was needed once more.

Fin