Harry stepped back as the warrior raised his sword. "So you're here to kill me?"
"Exactly," the Phoenix said as he charged. "Once your soul is dead the body is useless."
The Boy-Who-Lived dodged to the side, rolling across the leafy ground and breaking a branch off one of the larger trees. The magic running through it was pure and clean. Elder trees were magical trees that were hundreds, thousands of years old and had huge stores of magical energy in their wood. The potential for such a wand could be limitless!
Harry raised the branch, focusing a bit of his own magic into and was surprised at how easy it turned into a sword.
Phoenix charged again, the two blades clashing ferociously in a burst of sparks as he followed up with a rapid flurry of slashes.
For some sort of wizarding assassin, Harry was surprised at how sloppy his sword fighting was. Each move was cumbersome and poor – Godric would have lectured him terribly.
Harry pressed forward an opening and managed to cut through the armour, the warrior stepping back in surprise.
"What? How could this be? I was trained by the best!" Phoenix roared angrily, his slashes becoming more frenzied and wild.
Harry deflected them before pushing his blade forward, disarming Phoenix. He kicked him in the legs, making him fall before raising his sword to the warrior's neck. "There's more to it than good teaching," Harry said calmly. "Now, leave me!"
"You haven't seen the last of me Potter!" The warrior spat as his form began dissipating. "You will die by my hands!"
As the warrior disappeared, Harry sighed, letting his sword turn back into the long branch before he too disappeared.
As Harry opened his eyes, he took in his surroundings wildly.
It was merely his bed in the Gryffindor boys' dormitory. As he got up, he looked down in surprise to see his hand still gripping the branch.
Harry smirked as he rubbed his tired eyes, glancing at his watch.
It was seven – maybe he'd skip breakfast after all and grab a bite from the kitchens later.
"Hedwig," he said softly.
His beautiful Shadow Phoenix appeared to him in a burst of dark flames.
Harry quickly took care of his unkempt appearance, body odour and breath with a few quick cleaning charms before grabbing a cloak, charming the hood with a notice-me-not and a darkening charm like the one on his armour.
"We have to make a little trip to Diagon Alley," Harry said as he grasped her tail and they both disappeared in a burst of dark flames.
As they appeared, Harry wrapped the cloak around him and looked around.
Some of the shopkeepers were just opening up now – some however, looked like they had opened much earlier, and Ollivander's wand shop was one of them.
He checked his wand was still in his holster, and then went across.
Taking a deep breath, Harry walked in.
"Mr. Potter," Ollivander greeted as he rose from his seat by a book. "I remember your wand quite clearly – eleven inches, holly and phoenix feather, an unusual combination. What can I do for you?" Surprisingly he ignored the fact he was supposed to be in school.
Harry stepped forward, a little surprised that he recognised him even under his hood but always thought that he might've had wards. "I would like a wand made for me."
Ollivander raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Potter, you do realise that a second wand is illegal?"
"But then, how am I supposed to fight the Lord of Darkness with this?" Harry asked, raising his own wand. "We have brother wands. We can't fight each other."
The older man grew silent as Harry continued. "You knew this, I believe, but since at that time he was effectively dead it would be no cause for concern. However, darker times are coming and I am the only one who can stop him." He slid across the branch. "If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to use this wood."
Ollivander's eyes bulged as he saw it. "Mr. Potter! This is wood from an Elder tree!" he took it reverently, examining it. "A very ancient one also. Where, must I ask, did you find it?"
"That's irrelevant," Harry said, "What I do want to know is if you will make one."
"Of course, I must have a magical core…"
"That, also, has been taken care of," Harry said, sliding one of Hedwig's feathers across. When she had heard he needed a new wand, she had given him one of her feathers.
The older man's eyes bulged even further as he picked it up. "A Shadow Phoenix feather? Those are almost impossible to find! Why Mr. Potter, a combination of this sort would make a very powerful wand! Incredibly powerful! Perhaps this whole century would not have seen a wand of this sort!"
"Then be thankful I will be the one using it," Harry said. "Can you have it ready?"
"Of course!" Ollivander gushed. "Come back at the end of the day and I will have it ready for you!"
As Harry reappeared in his dorm, everyone else already out, he took off his cloak and beamed at his phoenix. "Thanks, Hedwig. You going to see Fawkes now?"
The Shadow Phoenix trilled a positive and Harry chuckled. "That a girl, Hedwig. I always knew you'd go for someone more…mature."
His bird gave an annoyed but affectionate nip at his finger before disappearing in black flames.
He dropped the cloak in his trunk, closing it and casted some strong protection and security charms out of habit before exiting to see if he could still make breakfast.
"You look tired," Hermione observed as Harry ate his breakfast.
Harry smiled with exhaustion. "Didn't sleep very well. What do we have first?"
"Charms, then Potions." She scribbled something down on her notepad that she seemed to carry all the time. "I managed to look at those letters from the castle-owners…"
"And?" Harry chewed slowly on a chicken wing, savouring the flavour.
"…They all refused."
"That won't be a problem," Harry replied. "Potter Manor we can use if worse comes to worse. We'll continue researching in the library or use the Room of Requirements."
As he finished the remainders of his meal, the pair got up to go to Transfiguration.
"Crucio!" the dummy that represented the figure of a Death Eater shouted.
Neville dodged it by leaning to the side. "Sectumsempra, Reducto," he uttered softly, jabbing his wand.
A deep slash appeared on the fake robes on what was supposed to represent the wand arm. The Death Eater gripped its hand in pain before being blown to pieces by the powerful Reducto curse.
Across the Room of Requirement, the Twelve were engaged in similar duels against dummies that were programmed to be equal in ability but know more spells – Harry had requested it as the Death Eaters would have had more knowledge being older so he wanted the Paladins to be ready for anything.
Harry wordlessly sent a powerful flamethrower curse at another dummy Death Eater, burning it to a crisp. "Remember that casting spells wordlessly is more effective than shouting them out!" he reminded as another dummy appeared in place of the burning one.
"Erado," Luna said quietly, as a powerful beam shot out and cleanly tore through the Death Eater dummy's torso.
Theo smirked as he wordlessly fired a burst of purple flames at his dummy. As it clutched at its burning head, he shouted "Macros Maximus!"
It was cleanly sliced in half by the sword-like beam.
"Incarcerous Flamma," Daphne said with a smirk as burning ropes conjured themselves around her dummy.
"All right, enough," Harry said as he cancelled the dummies. "How good are your Patronuses now?"
At that the dummies changed to look like the massive cloaked figures of Dementors – heck, they even had a frosty aura around them and the fear effect was reasonably mild.
Pushing away the dull memories of his parents, Neville recalled one of the times when Ginny had gotten someone with a Bat Bogey hex and shouted "Expecto Patronum!"
The incantation was similarly shouted across the Room, and the Dementor-look-a-likes were repelled very well by the various ghostly-white animals.
"That's good," Harry said with a smile as he cancelled the dummies completely and the Room changed back to its original size. "I think we'll end it at that, shall we?"
In truth Harry was surprised at how rapidly everyone had grown. Many of the D.A. had progressed even faster than they had last year, and the Slytherins had caught on quick to the spells he had taught them.
Maybe the fact that they were going to change the world helped to spur them on.
Either way, tomorrow he'd have another meeting with the Dark Lord – and he was as tough as they came.
They were in the middle of the school year, and Harry believed that with even further training he'd be on par with two of the greatest sorcerers in the world.
It was surprising really – he thought it would take longer, but everyone was working out perfectly. Dumbledore thought too well of him, and as long as old Voldemort kept believing he was already invincible he was protected from both sides.
Now it was time to perhaps play another card.
The official revealing of the Paladin Lords.
"Come boy! Dumbledore won't play around with you and neither will I! Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort bellowed.
Although for some people it would seem insane for the Dark Lord to try to kill his supposed invincibility, for Harry and him it was merely routine.
He needed preparation after all.
"Accio rock," Harry said softly as a rock went flying in the way of the green curse. "Avada Kedavra!"
For Harry to truly show that he was devoted to the Dark Arts, he needed to use the Darkest of curses.
And it was truly difficult to resist them. The lure and power of them were intoxicating, beckoning for him to control another, torture another, kill another…
But Harry never did like the Unforgivables. He could conjure knives out of thin air, bribe and persuade or kill in a hundred different ways so why did he need to use curses that were so draining?
Voldemort dodged the green curse and the pair traded forth powerful spells that blazed with fury and light.
"Stop," Voldemort commanded.
Harry lowered his wand, but within an instant he could easily flick off another curse if called for.
It would have been so easy now to kill him…to kill his archenemy.
But no. There was still much to learn and much to do before.
"Enough for tonight," the Dark Lord said. "I must save my strength. On Saturday night, the citizens of Hogsmeade will know the true terror of my name."
Harry gave a dark smirk, and perhaps although the Dark Lord might think it was because of the 'spreading fear' part, it was something else.
Thank you for giving me the location of your attack…
"Did you do it girl?" Harry asked his Shadow Phoenix as she flew in through the window.
Hedwig gave an affirmative chirp.
Harry smiled as he picked up the enchanted book to which the small trinket placed in Dumbledore's office was connected to.
He frowned as it began to vibrate in his hands. Harry tapped it twice with his wand.
"Headmaster," the cool voice of Snape said as he entered the office. "The Dark Lord is planning an attack. When, I do not know."
"Yes, I would have expected so," the grandfatherly voice of the Headmaster replied. "He has been unusually quiet lately. Lemon drop?"
"No thank you, Albus." Harry chuckled at the annoyed tone of the Potions Professor.
"Was there something else you wished to see me for, Severus?"
"Yes, Headmaster. It concerns the subject of one particular Harry Potter." The disdain in his voice was clearly apparent.
"And what of him?"
"Do you not see the changes in him? Potter is quiet – too quiet now. I hardly hear anything about him now, he has not gotten a detention this whole YEAR and in Potions…he could almost pass as…polite."
"Ah Severus, you still see him as James Potter. The certain events in Fifth year that took place could have changed young Harry greatly – the teachers inform me that he is well dedicated to his studies. He is determined to defeat Riddle, and I will be there to support him along the way…"
Harry snorted before tapping the book again, and the link cut off.
He took his Paladin medal, tapping it several times with his wand. The medal glowed brightly before he used his wand to inscribe the meeting time tonight. It blinked again to show that the message was sent.
As the Twelve met in their usual place for a meeting, Harry, instead of sitting at his usual spot was standing in the middle so he could address them all fully.
"On Saturday night Voldemort is going to attack Hogsmeade," Harry said. There was no fear of that name anymore. It was merely a name, after all.
He smiled. "This is our time. We're going to show ourselves on Saturday night."
Before Saturday came around, Harry devoted all his spare time into training. He upped the ante with his duels against dummies and fought against seven opponents, being careful not to push himself too hard.
As Saturday came on, Harry made a Portkey out of a large rock with the Paladin Lords insignia on the bottom. Testing it, he was relieved to find it worked perfectly.
Harry and Hermione were currently sitting in the Library in their favourite spot, several secrecy charms around them.
While they both had come in to look up spells after dinner, Harry was now fiddling with his wand nervously. "What if I haven't trained them well? What if they die? What if you die? What if…"
"Harry," Hermione sighed. "We fought well in the Department of Mysteries, and now we're much more powerful. You're much more powerful, especially since the magical blocks have been removed. If we stick to the plans, everything will go fine!"
Harry relaxed. "You're right…but I can't help worrying…"
"That's perfectly natural of course, they're all your friends and allies and you trained them. They'll do fine, trust me."
A warm buzzing came from his bag. Harry grabbed it and opened it, putting it up to his ear so the silence charm around the book activated and only he could hear it.
"What is it?" Hermione asked, putting away the book she was reading.
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Summon the Twelve. Death Eaters are attacking."
Covering by disillusionment charms, Harry led the fully armoured Twelve to the Forbidden Forest, grabbing the Portkey and letting everybody grab onto the rock.
"The password is 'For magic'," Harry said, his voice distorted to become low and harsh.
"For magic," everyone said, and the Portkey took them away.
They landed again just outside Hogsmeade.
"Wands up," Harry said in a professional tone. "Keep your eyes open, stay aware, try to capture Inner Circle Death Eaters, try not to kill anyone else and don't harm Order members, Aurors or civilians unless provoked."
And with that they charged.
Susan fired the first spell, a powerful Incendio that severely harmed a Death Eater about to torture several children.
"Eradico," Harry snapped tersely. "Adflicto, Sectumsempra, NEX FULSI!" he yelled out the last spell at one about to kill an Auror, shattering his leg and going straight through to maim the hand of another Death Eater.
All around, flashes of light signaled the furious duels going on. The Order members and Aurors were initially suspicious at this new group, but seeing as they were attacking Death Eaters only, joined in with them.
Ginny never missed a beat as she snapped out a terse Stunner to end an overwhelming combination of spells, and while the Death Eater managed to dodge or deflect all those, she angled her wand at the last moment and it caught him on the leg, sending him down.
Ginny conjured ropes, and ran over to rip off the silver Death Eater mask.
Her eyes widened. Lucius Malfoy!
Harry had said to take Inner Circle prisoners for themselves, but Ginny knew that if he was captured by the Ministry it would do more good as it would make Fudge look like a moron from his main donor being a Death Eater.
Ginny levitated him off to the sidelines and began to seek out her next opponent.
Neville however had found a familiar insane female witch torturing a little child particularly loudly. Lestrange!
"Reducto," Neville chanted angrily, firing his powerful curse at the Death Eater.
Bellatrix's eyes widened and she barely managed to avoid the spell before it completely blew apart the wall behind her.
Instantly her dark eyes hardened back into their usual craziness. "Oh, does the big bad man in black want to play? Fine, let's…"
"Incendio," Neville hissed, throwing all of his anger and hatred into the attack.
Bellatrix barely avoid the wild fire and responded with the killing curse, but Neville evaded it nimbly and used one of Harry's favourite spells. "Nex Fulsi!"
The beam came out suddenly and sharply – even as the Death Eater conjured a shield it pierced and broke through it, going through her side.
Neville grinned darkly beneath the mask. "Crucio!"
Bellatrix started screaming in pain – all the hatred, all the humiliation, the anger and despair that Neville had suffered because of his mad parents flowed into the Unforgivable.
He held it as long as he dared before silencing her with a quick Stunner, wrapping her up in strong chains, a variant of the Incarcerous and levitated her away.
Although he wanted desperately to torture her longer then kill her, his loyalty to Harry was stronger than his lust for revenge.
As he retired from the fight to wait at the meeting point, casting a disillusionment charm around him and Bellatrix, he smiled at the realisation he captured his sworn enemy.
As the battle drew to a close, Harry relaxed as he realised this and smiled at the thought of their first victory.
He raised his wand into the air. "Orior Paladin Vestigium!"
The familiar sign appeared above them in a burst of golden light – as everyone looked upon it with awe, the Paladin Lords knew it was time for them to retreat.
Casting disillusionment charms around themselves, they made their way to the agreed meeting point.
"Neville?" Harry frowned. "What do we have here?"
Neville was towering above the prone form of a very familiar witch as he grinned. "Bellatrix Lestrange."
Right now, Harry could literally feel the burning anger and impatience surrounding the Longbottom as he stood above his parents' killer, wand at the ready…
Harry sighed, shaking his head. "Take the Portkey back, all of you. DO NOT get caught. I'll take her someplace where I can safely extract information out of her."
As the rest of them Portkeyed back to Hogwarts, Harry called Hedwig to him. "Take us to Hogwarts first, then I'll get ready and we go to Diagon Alley."
Harry grasped onto the Shadow Phoenix's tail as she chirped and they disappeared in a burst of black flames, along with Bellatrix.
"Albus!" Moody barked as the Headmaster walked in. "Good of you to join us now!"
The older man's face was creased in concern. "I had some unexpected company beforehand, unfortunately. Any casualties, Alastor?"
The grizzled ex-Auror shook his head. "None – thanks to the help of them." He jerked his head up to the glowing golden sign floating brilliantly in the air above them.
Albus raised an eyebrow. "Another organization has come into play, it seems."
"And from what I've seen of their duels, they're not playing around," Moody said with a twisted grin. "They're good…better than many of our own Order members."
"Better, you say?" Dumbledore asked in surprise.
"Much better. Their tactics and spell combinations are much more effective than our own. Be thankful they're on our side."
"It seems I then must come in contact with this new force. However, we must help to aid the survivors." Dumbledore sighed deeply. "We managed to defend Hogsmeade with little victims. However, with this new force in play, what do we know of their intentions?"
"I'll tell you what," Moody growled decisively. "I saw for myself, Albus. They're here to help. How they fought, how they acted, reminded me of the forces on our side during the First War. They know what needs to be done and do it."
Harry knew he was taking a big gamble by bringing an unconscious Death Eater into the Gryffindor boys' dormitory, a FEMALE one, but knew it was worth the risk and since the wards were on the stairs, wouldn't affect her in the actual dorms.
Harry grabbed his cloak that he used before to get into Diagon Alley, wrapping it around himself and throwing his invisibility cloak onto Bellatrix's prone form. These days, since he learnt how to disillusion himself he found himself using the invisibility cloak less and less but it still did have its uses.
Harry carefully took out his new wand from his trunk.
Ollivander had warned him its power was potentially volatile – he found that out in a solo training session a day beforehand, when he found out that even a simple Stunner became ridiculously overpowered.
As such, he didn't use it in the previous battle – there was no point.
Harry grabbed his new wand holster, slipping it up his wrist before slotting the unique wand in. As soon as the wand holster registered it was holding a wand, it suddenly became invisible.
He might need it to help 'contain' Bellatrix.
Grabbing onto Bellatrix's light and invisible form in chains, Harry stood up. "Let's go, Hedwig."
In a burst of flames they disappeared.
As Harry reappeared in a side alleyway to Diagon Alley, he glanced down at the address he had jotted down in his many night studies.
Dr. Nicholas Hawke Private doctor and mind-healer
Apartment 13, Building 7
The apartment buildings were a part of Diagon Alley that Harry had never explored, or never really had the time to. He decided that once he had spare time he would explore more of the different Alleys.
Very late in the afternoon, few people were around as Harry held onto Bellatrix's light form quite awkwardly to avoid suspicion.
The apartment buildings were rather far off from the main parts of the Alley.
Harry approached the quite worn-down Building 7, stepping in and walking up the stairs to Apartment 13.
He took in a deep breath and knocked several times.
As the door opened, a middle-aged, disheveled wizard looked out cautiously. "Yes?"
"I have need of your services as a mind-healer," Harry answered coolly.
Dr. Hawke nodded briefly. "Come in, then…"
As Harry stepped in, he looked around.
The place was even messier and disheveled than the doctor's appearance – literally hundreds of papers with calculations and diagrams strewn all over the place as well as several different magical medical tools.
"So what can I do for you then, that St.Mungos cannot?" the doctor asked, combing his wild hair and slipping on his glasses.
"I have need of your services as a mind-healer," Harry replied casually. "I've heard you're one of the best in England – perhaps even the world."
"But I still live in a dingy apartment, don't I?" The doctor asked sarcastically. "Mind-healing is thought to be a useless practise. What point is there in healing minds that are too far gone to be rescued?"
"But you specialize in it," Harry pointed out, "And I'd like you to heal the mind of this woman."
He revealed the chained form of Bellatrix Lestrange.