This story contains JK characters that sprung from her fertile, amazing imagination. To Her all credit doth go!
Chapter Notes: This is a prequel to Albus Potter and the Year of the Badger. It is a story that I love and I should have not published before I was ready. As so many eagerly await Albus Potter and the Black Badger Society, I am hoping they give this story a shot! I think it's worthy and it contains a lot of themes and character development that is woven throughout the Albus Potter I have planned. Fingers are crossed!
This is a Multi-Point-of-View story so pay attention to the Point of View at the beginning of the chapter. If you don't you will be lost! This chapter starts with the theft that creates the conflict. Pay attention to it. Then we pick up the story in Harry's point of view.
Please review so I know you are out there!
So it begins...Early that morning...
Shadows and light played tag across the walls as he walked back out of the Department of Mysteries archive.
It was in the satchel. The future was in the satchel.
"He shouldn't have died. I'm just making it right." was the litany in his head.
He walked passed some Unspeakables working late, but no one suspected anything. Why should they? He was above suspicion. He always did everything right. He was one of the good guys, right? Well this time, he was going to be the bad guy. It was for the greater good. The book in the satchel under his arm pulsated unpleasantly like it was alive, from the spells that were powerful enough to undo this great injustice. He was going to do what needed to be done; just as he had always done...he was going to fix it, even if it cost him his soul. For what he was attempting...that was the price.
Morganna, and the Family of Zombies
Harry made his way through the Aurors office trying to, once again, not look like what he was, an eighteen-year-old boy among men. There were grizzled old veterans with permanent spell damage from curses, younger and eager wizards looking to make a name, and the paper pushers whose only job was to make it all work smoothly. What bothered Harry wasn't that they looked at him like an amateur poser, which what he felt like; but that they looked at him with a respect that he still didn't feel he had earned.
When Minister Shacklebolt had surprisingly offered him an apprenticeship in the Auror department, accepting his experience defeating the Dark Lord in the place of N.E.W.T.'s, Harry had taken the opportunity.
He wasn't going back to Hogwarts with Hermione. There were far too many negative memories to sort through connected with that place for him to be comfortable. It could be years before he walked those halls without seeing the faces of the dead and where they had fallen.
He had changed so dramatically that last year, the school boy was gone, returning to that life would be more ill-fitting than what he was doing now. Protecting innocents, from the dark forces that still slunk in the shadows, seemed like an extension of what he had been doing all those years he was training for the battle that had now passed. The act of becoming an Auror fit him like an old glove. However, when he arrived, he discovered the disconcerting reality that he wasn't some young, interloping punk to the rest of the office, like he was sure they would view him. Instead, they looked at him with a strange reverence that he wasn't sure he would ever be comfortable with.
Oh, he wasn't a wash! He had definitively made a name for himself as a Dark Arts expert, handling rundowns on escaped Death Eaters and possible dark wizards with enough talent and skill to be an asset. But being viewed and talked to by men twice and three times his age like an equal was just...odd.
"Good morning, Harry," he heard from all corners, and he gave a nod back, feeling that dratted cowlick wave at them from the back of his head.
He sat down in the rubble of papers and reports that covered his desk, not sure what to start on first. He stifled a yawn. The anti-exhaustion potion he had purchased from the apothecary had yet to kick in.
Times were not great in the personal realm at the moment, so this drift of work, blanketing his desk like paper snow, was a godsend.
Ginny came by last night, something he had been hoping for, but when she arrived with tears in her eyes, that hope turned once again to shared sorrow. Holding her wasn't as enjoyable as he had dreamed it would be that year they spent apart. His pain for her, was almost as bad as the pain in his heart because of her. This pain was not caused by her rejecting him, she clung to him like he was her salvation. The pain came when he remembered the vivacious red-haired enchantress that stole his heart, and compared her to this inferii who came by 12 Grimmauld Place to weep in his arms once or twice a month. This broken girl was not his Ginny.
But then again, her entire family wasn't themselves either.
George Weasley was attempting to drink himself to death. Arthur worked late hours tinkering with Muggle gadgets, and had taken to sleeping in his office some nights, which was fine with a suddenly apathetic and paralyzed Molly Weasley at home. The ramshackle, warm and lived-in Burrow was falling into disrepair, and if it weren't for the non-stop efforts of Ginny, who had taken a year off from school to help, it would have collapsed already. The chores that Molly did with ease were not as easy for her young daughter and, more often than not, the young girl was working herself to exhaustion with the effort. Charlie hadn't left Romania to visit in months, and Bill was totally occupied with his pregnant wife. But seeing as her mother had moved from France to help take care of her through the last months, his complete absence wasn't valid either.
Surprisingly, the one bright spot was Percy.
As shocked as Harry was to say it, Percy had come through for the family in a big way.
He scoured the bars at night to find where George had parked himself for the day, brought him home to his apartment over Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, and took care of him. He was also managing the shop, which was in dire straights with no new product launches in over a year and half. He did the books and hired George and Fred's old friend, Angelina Johnson, to manage the day-to-day operations, but she admittedly didn't have the Weasley twin touch. All they could afford to man the shop were displaced house elves, which didn't please Hermione, who came by to help whenever she had a holiday from her last year at Hogwarts.
Ron, however, had not set foot in the store for six months. His stated reason was he was helping his future in-laws; now back from Australia and in their right minds, settle back in. The hole in that excuse was that Hermione told Harry that her parents were recovering fine while Ron spent his days in the living room glued to the telly, according to him, a novel Muggle invention.
He hadn't been home lately either.
Harry passed Percy in the halls from time to time, and the usually pompous-looking man was starting to fray around the edges and seemed to be aging from the stress. Harry wasn't the only one shocked by the news that Percy Weasley had turned down several higher positions, taking a lower position cataloging artifacts, stating that job was all he had time for. If that wasn't out of character, Harry didn't know what was. Since Percy was the only Weasley Harry saw on a consistent basis, he depended on him for updates about the family. Most of the time, every bit of news was deflected and distorted as Percy, with a numb glassy-eyed vehemence, assured Harry that the Weasley family would be just fine in a few weeks.
Getting over Fred's death was killing the most wonderful family that Harry had ever known. To make matters worse, he could do nothing but watch it happen. He had defeated the Dark Lord, but a stray spell from an anonymous wizard had done more damage to his favorite family than Voldemort ever had. The wheel that was the Weasley clan had lost a cog, and the resulting uneven tread was destroying it, as it attempted to roll on.
"Harry!" came the gruff bark from across the crowded central office area.
He startled from his thoughts, and looked up to see his mentor and boss, Head Auror Gerry Podemore, leaning out of his office door waving him inside.
Tall and broad, salt-and-pepper bearded and grizzled, he had been assigned the job for the interim. Most thought that he was warming the seat for Harry, which Harry strenuously objected to. Nonetheless, Gerry treated the young wizard as his protégé, giving him assignments that would have been tough for a full Auror, much less an apprentice, and even tougher critiques to sharpen his skills. He was no Albus Dumbledore, but he had tremendously increased Harry's practical magical knowledge over the last year.
Harry checked for his wand and headed to the office. He never knew if what he was being called for was an immediate emergency, so he always did that first.
As he slipped through the door into the neat-as-a-pin office, Gerry growled at him to shut the door behind him. It was a very odd move, considering that Gerry usually kept things wide-open around the office. Aurors had to deal with secrets all day long, so among them, they tried to have no secrets with each other.
Closing the door was portentous indeed.
Gerry was brusque, as usual. "How well do you know the Weasleys?" he shot across the desk at Harry with no preamble.
"Grew up with that lot," Harry replied. "Ron Weasley is my best mate." In his mind he silently finished, 'and I hope to marry their daughter one of these days if she makes it back to me.'
Gerry nodded gravely, causing Harry to feel a spike of fear. 'What was happening now? If ever there was a family that didn't need more bad news, it was the Weasley's!'
Gerry rumbled, "I know Arthur; known him for years. What I am about to show you is between us. If you can get this resolved by tomorrow morning, as far as I am concerned it never happened!"
Underneath his typically gruff manner Gerry seemed deeply concerned. Not many people could have seen that. It took Harry a few weeks of working with the man to realize that the heart underneath the bristle was as soft as any.
"I'm not following you, sir," Harry replied, confusion evident.
Gerry sighed. "I can't give this to a full-fledged Auror; this has to be kept quiet, for the sake of all involved. I know you can be discreet, and you're not under any compulsion to report on this. Take the day off, call this a family emergency, and I will pretend this conversation never happened.
Gerry turned to an empty span of wall and waved his wand, mumbling an incantation under his breath. The wall showed a familiar stretch of Hallway that Harry recognized at the Department of Mysteries. It was a place that he would never go. Living in 12 Grimmauld Place, the memories of Sirius were just too hard to face without seeing where he died. From the personnel's' movements, Harry saw it was the end of a working day. Suddenly, there, a familiar face swimming out with the flow of the crowd.
Harry's forehead wrinkled in concentration; something was wrong.
"Do you see it?" Gerry goaded.
Harry's nose for trouble was pointing him in the direction of the guard wizard as he checked over everyone headed out. When he got to the wizard in question, he passed him by with just a nod.
Harry pointed to the exchange, "Imperiused?"
Gerry nodded. "Had him checked when he came in. It was a neat curse, not sloppy at all. I have to give that man credit, he knows his stuff."
Harry prepared himself for the bad news. "What did he take?"
Gerry sighed, "He took out of the archives the most dangerous dark artifact we have in our possession."
Harry startled. "What's that?"
Gerry's baleful eyes locked with his protégé's. "Morgan LeFey's spell book."
Harry rubbed his tired eyes. "The Morgan LeFey?"
Gerry nodded gravely. "The same. But you don't know the Wizard version of her history, do you?"
Harry shook his head.
"We call her Morganna," Gerry began, "and she was maybe the first Dark Lord, or Lady. She was trained by Merlin himself, under false pretenses, and later used that knowledge to bring Camelot crashing down. She tricked Merlin and banished him to another realm, but he managed to get her to destroy herself by projecting himself into her dreams and appealing to her pride, convincing her to use a spell so horrible it has no name. She spoke It and was consumed completely. She invented most of the blackest spells in all the Wizard World. Most are in that book. It is covered in human skin, bound by hair and written in blood. I don't have to tell you what would happen if that book got in the hands of a Dark Wizard.
Harry shuddered at the thought. "Any idea why he would steal such a thing?" Harry inquired after steeling himself for the task ahead.
Gerry handed him a faded piece of Parchment. "Here is a manifest of the spells contained within the book. There were only twenty-one and they are extremely complicated, taking hours to complete; that's why I think we have time if you hurry. See if you can see a spell that might give you a clue as to someone with that flawless a record would try something like this."
Harry scanned the list, and stopped at the third one down. Suddenly, it all snapped into place. He sunk in his chair as the disastrous possibilities paraded in his mind.
"Percy, what are you doing?"
Character Thoughts: I have read many fictions that talk of Fred's death. I know some will accuse me of overstating it's affects on the Weasley's. I have been in a tight knit family when sudden death strikes, I assure you the closer a family is the greater the shockwaves and the bigger the snowball affect. Feel free to comment if you agree or disagree.