Warnings: May contain slash, gore, violence, crude language, spoilers for the Harry Potter series, spoilers for The Banned and the Banished book series, adult themes
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JKR and associates, of which I am not one. The Banned and the Banished belongs to James Clemens (Jim Czajkowski) and associates, of which I am not one. In other words, this is not mine.
While Harry Potter had never exactly had a normal life, what with an abusive family situation, having his parents murdered as a baby, and being a wizard, these were not totally uncommon things, in general. There were, of course, things that made him stand out (something his height could not do, for he was hardly above five-foot-six); his hair, for one, stuck out all over the place, his eyes were an unmatchable shade of green that had only two other sources – the Killing Curse and his mother's own eyes – and, finally, there was a slim, white line over his left eye, reaching just a centimeter over the bridge of his nose, in the shape of a lightning bolt. This scar, usually unnoticeable because of the way his fringe hung in his face, was caused by his parents murderer, who just so happened to have half-died sixteen and a half years before and was, at the moment this begins, standing in front of the young hero.
Voldemort, once known as Tom Marvolo Riddle, stood at just under seven feet tall, had skin the palest shade of alabaster, eyes as red as blood, and no nose. His tongue was split down the middle, more exaggerated than a snake's, which was appropriate given that he spoke the serpent's tongue. This was the most evil and most powerful wizard in the world, and Harry was on the wrong end of his wand.
Not five minutes before, the seventeen (nearly eighteen) year old wizard had held a golden winged ball called a Snitch to his lips and told it the honest truth, as he saw it. He told it that he was going to die. For the first time in his life, he had seen his parents, spoken to them, and had been reassured that coming to join them would not be painful. But, as the bright green that was perhaps dimmer than his emerald irises came swooshing upon him, straight for his face, he wondered if they were quite right. There was, however, no time to think, as the malevolent magic struck his forehead, lining his scar and seeming to fill it with more taint than it held even before, and he blacked out.
Not for the first time, he cursed to prophecy made by Sybil Trelawney. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, born to those who have twice defied him, born as the seventh month dies, and the Dark Lord shall mark him as his equal... well, Harry had memorized the entire thing from hearing it just once, and part of it declared that one would die at the hand of the other.
The last thing he saw was a plain of green that slowly concentrated on two points. They stayed there in his sleep, and what he awoke to was not something he had expected.
Having the patterns of normality broken seven moons ago, Elena Morin'stal had become accustomed to her companions. Er'ril, who had but one arm, was her fore-most protector and her teacher. Kral was a bit strange, a mountain man of giant proportions that could never lie by his own moral code, and could be either the one to lift everyone's moods or the one to bring them down with harsh reality. Mogweed was kind, always listened and seemed as out of place as Elena herself, but the once-si'lura who had lost his shape-shifting abilities was her confidant. His brother, the wolf si'lura Fardale, was fierce and could always find Elena just when she needed someone most. Even Meric, the elv'in man from the clouds who wanted only to spirit her away would stick by her to the end.
It was not any of them who had thrown her for a loop, however, but Nee'lahn. The slight nyphai had said to burn down the dying wood that was so blighted by a fleet of spiders she identified as "The Horde." When the pustules filled with baby spiders that swelled so quickly had first popped, they had all been frightened, but the next morning, when the flames were burning the diseased forest, Elena could hardly believe it. Nee'lahn was, after all, the most mild mannered of the bunch, even more so than her, and that the nymph could be so cruel as to do this to trees at all... but, then, she had proclaimed them dead. The spiders were perverting the trees' intended purpose, destroying the corpses.
And so the trees burned. Meric began driving them forward with gusts of air that he drew from the heavens, forging a path in the trees. She rode behind them, Mist, her mare, dragging her feet. It was hot, but there were worse things in the forest, like blood red spiders that swelled like the pustules they burst from.
Nothing really went badly (excepting the "mysterious disappearance" of Er'ril's stallion) for a while until Elena had to use her magick. It wasn't that she was afraid – she'd gotten over that during the six moons of training under Er'ril – but she knew that those around her were afraid of what she did. There was a power in her no longer wielded by any other person in all of Alasea or any other land ruled by the Dark Lord of Gul'gotha. She was the only person bearing the power of Chi (though it was not Chi's power, as her Uncle Bol had said on the eve of his death), and only the second blood wit'ch to grace (or curse) Alasea with her presence.
She had been foretold by a prophecy made the mage Greshym, now a dark mage of the most unholy order in the service of the Dark Lord. The return of the wit'ch of Spirit and Stone, Sisa'kofa, that was what Elena was. But at least with her creamy white left hand, she was not all wit'ch. The bloody stain of her right hand would not rule her.
Having shed her deerskin gloves, Elena grappled for the silver knife at her waist, holding the intricate hilt that seemed almost made of wire. With her eyes focused firmly on the ruby rose set at the top of the hilt, she made a slit in the palm of her right hand and fisted it.
The moons since the deaths of everyone she had ever loved had dulled the pain somewhat. She knew she had saved her parents pain by burning them. She knew that she couldn't have known how to help her Aunt Fila or stopped the Dark Mage Greshym from taking her brother (and likely using his blood in some sort of dark ritual for the Gul'gothal Lord). She couldn't even have stopped her Uncle Bol from looking at the corpse of Rockham, or Pintail the owl from being killed. It was her fault.
But it was more the fault of her magick. She pulled a tight rein on it as it fought to escape her, to be used by her or else use her instead. No! She opened her first and watched as everything froze.
The trees, once foreboding, became beautiful. The spider webs were delicate, breaking in the breeze of her power and Meric's wind. The spiders themselves stood as tiny ice sculptures, frozen in their frightened, hurried flight from her wrath. Elena saw none of this, only that when her hand closed and her magick was stowed away, what little that was left, there was something not frozen, not turned into a piece of artwork by her hoar frost. Something that her magick had recoiled from, that had caused it to shy away and claim refuge in her blood red hand... something that was human, or seemed to be.
In the center of the iced glade lay a figure. Well, more a blob of black cloth, but the light of the fires playing off of the ice allowed them to see that there was a person there, unconscious and oblivious to the danger. On one edge of the cloth (later identified as a cloak) were his feet, though they were clad in odd boots, as if made by a blind cobbler. On the end opposite with a mess of black hair, rather short, but sticking out every which way. Beneath the hair was a delicate face with a pair of thick black spectacles barely remaining on his nose. It was obvious that he was asleep, but it was not anything of that sort that gave anyone pause.
The man – a boy really, as he couldn't have been more than fifteen years old with his small stature and lack of stubble – was untouched by the cold flame, and for a distance of several feet out from his body, there were no spiders. True, they had fled from the advancing party, but the spiders had fled from him. The fact that he had not been there before the magick was released did not go unnoticed either.
Slowly, without even realizing it was happening, Mist had crept forward to the boy. All the horses had, the creaking of the wheels as the circus cart was pulled along going just as unnoticed as the crunch of horse hooves on the shimmering ice. None of them seemed to notice, even Tol'chuk and Fardale who were in the wagon, until Elena's feet touched the ice, crunching it beneath her boots. Even as she moved forward, her magick recoiled further within her, though she didn't know why, or what could cause such a reaction.
"Elena!" The shout from her liege man should have startled her, should have made her turn around and apologize for approaching an unknown entity who could easily be a tool of the Dark Lord's. But it didn't, she didn't. Instead, Elena crouched down beside the collapsed figure who breathed evenly on the glimmering ice. He was certainly young, couldn't have been more than a few years older than the girl, and small, as she was practically as tall as his slightly-curled figure implied. The shallow breaths sounded loud in her ears, the pale face flushed around the cheeks. She reached out a hand, her un-gloved right hand, and touched his forehead.
That simple movement, that tried and true method of finding out if a person was sick, had unexpected results. While Elena came into brief contact with fevered skin, the boy immediately jerked back, rolling several feet away, near the edge of the ring of frozen spiders, and seemed to sway slightly to a stop. His eyes were unfocused, the spectacles having fallen off as soon as he started moving, and he stared as if he couldn't quite see where he was. A small white line rested on his brow, disappearing under his messy fringe. But Elena's eyes did not look to the scar on his forehead, nor the black and red cloak that hung about his shoulders and pooled under him as if it were a shadow, nor even the odd garments he wore beneath his cloak. Rather, she stared at his eyes. There were eyes that were very familiar to her, because they were her eyes. The eyes of Joach, Aunt Fila, Uncle Bol, and her mother.
His burst of energy drained quickly, as the bright eyes drifted back into his head and the boy crumpled back onto the ice, shivering. He was out cold.
"Get back!" It was shouted too late, obviously, but Elena withdrew regardless. Her magick had settled, no longer trying to draw away from the mysterious boy, so she figured he must be safe. Perhaps the fact that the demon spiders, the Horde, had kept away from him was a good sign. "You fool of a girl, what were you thinking? He may be in league with the Horde!" Er'ril didn't sound terribly convicted, noting the lack of spiders. By now they should have approached, yet they had not come at the group yet.
"We should bring him with us," Elena mumbled as Er'ril's arm wrapped around her. "He doesn't look evil, and perhaps he is why the spiders are gone?" He was, she knew he was. She knew that everyone could tell.
Nee'lahn rode forward on her mount, eyes flicking forward to where Meric drove the flames. "Er'ril, it would be wise to bring him along. Truss him up if you will, but the wood spoke of only one evil dwelling under its bows, and it was no boy. We must get behind Meric, regardless, unless we want the Horde to file in before us."
Violet eyes shone down, and Er'ril acquiesced. He picked up the boy easily in his one arm and tossed him into the caravan as it passed, bells tinkling merrily, before mounting the draft horse once more. Tol'chuk could guard the child, make sure he could do nothing against them. If he was an agent of the Dark Lord, then the og're could snap his neck like a twig, and Fardale would not let them be harmed, especially not his younger brother.
They continued on behind the fire, occasionally seeing Meric or the back end of his horse through the smoke. Even when they lagged behind because of the muddy shoals of the creek, they were not accosted by a single spider, which, as Elena could tell, made some of her companions even more nervous. It was not her magick that kept the creatures at bay (and she had little left, though Er'ril forbid her from draining it), that much she knew. It truly had to be the boy who lay in a fevered sleep. After another few hours of rather calmly driving on, Elena left the cart behind, trotting up beside Kral who was not far from Nee'lahn and Meric, guarding them.
The forward company broke through the burnt out skeletons of trees not long after, though Mist had tripped at one point and Elena scooped up onto Kral's great warhorse, Rorshaf. The mare had followed along placidly, not even munching on what little undergrowth remained on their path. Even she knew it was not wise. And then they had entered the wide plains, glad for the open air and fading sunlight.
Or, rather, they would have been, had there not been people there. People with arrows and swords, ready to attack. No fight was made, but instead Kral jumped from his steed, taking an arrow to the leg despite only doing as the threatening party had told him to, and shouting gruffly in the horse tongue something that could only be taken as an order of retreat. Elena was carried away, bouncing uncomfortably in the saddle of the great horse with shouts following. Rorshaf refused to turn back. She hoped they would all be okay.
Harry remembered something touching his scar, as cold as iron in winter... or a corpse. He remembered jumping away, feeling glass (or was it ice?) below him as he slid away from whatever it was. He tried to stand, really he did, but everything was just so hot, and the air was so cold, his scar was frozen. All he really remembered was the cold, a pair of bright green eyes, near identical to his own, and a hand with a faded stain of blood. Then, he had passed out. Well, he was dead anyway, so he had nothing to fear, least ways Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
The sky that met him was not, in fact, the sky, but the top of a light brown tent. Well, he was pretty sure it was a tent. His glasses were very clumsily placed on his nose, as if they had been put on by someone with Hagrid-sized fingers and not the best coordination, so everything was a bit out of place. But he was pretty sure that it was a tent. Were there tents in Heaven? Then again, he was likely in Hell, if the muggles had the right of it. Suicides and murderers went to Hell, and he had as good as killed everyone he loved, hadn't he? By walking to his death instead of fighting it, no matter what Dumbledore had said in memories, he had killed himself, too. He wasn't that dense after all, just dead.
"He's awake!" A hushed voice, that of an old woman, swarmed his head, making him shut his eyes. Everything hurt! It was so hot and itchy... he wanted to scream. But he couldn't, because his mouth was dry, his throat already raw, and he didn't quite know what to scream about. Should he scream in mourning? In pain? Guilt? Perhaps fear, or remorse? When no decision was made, he kept silent but for a small grunt to acknowledge that he was awake and he could hear everything just fine, if painfully.
"The spitting image of the other..." a hushed voice whispered, another woman of middle age. "The men were right to bring him here. Obviously the brother of the demon... did you see how all the spiders have kept away? It's bad luck to kill a spider you know, and I expect he killed a great many for that sort of fear." Spiders? Perhaps acromantulas... but what would acromantulas be doing in Hell? Aragog had been good, as far as spiders went (not that Ron would agree), so what was this they were talking about? Harry might have shaken his head, were it not pounding already.
Two pairs of feet padded away over the dirt floor, he could hear, and more muffled whispers came from beyond. Heavier feet returned, and Harry could feel everything upend itself as he was hauled to his feet none to kindly, arms suddenly being gripped behind his back. Something coarse (he assumed rope) was soon tying them together, and he was led... well, somewhere. He didn't open his eyes all the way, the glow behind his lids telling him that there were fires, perhaps a campsite, and he wisely saved his vision. He didn't want to see flames; it would only make him feel all the hotter, and he wasn't sure how much the human body could take.
"Tried passing him off as an innocent," the man on Harry's left grumbled. The young man in question opened his eyes slightly, watching as an olive green tent flap was lifted through crooked glasses. A strong jolt from the right caused the spectacles to fall from their precarious perch and an audible crunch soon followed. If his wand hadn't been taken by these mysterious muggles – for what could they be but muggles? – he could fix them, but if the stick had been taken, he was up river without a paddle. "You lot are a bunch of monsters!"
Being shoved back first against a thick wooden pole was not a good experience for Harry, especially when he couldn't see more than vague blurs (worsened by his fever) and was already sore from the past week – hell, the past year. He couldn't scrounge up more than a moan, gritting his teeth as the tight knots over his hands were further flexed to loop the remaining rope around the pole.
And yet it didn't seem like Hell. Not when he was treated harshly – the Dursleys had done worse – and certainly not the remarks. He'd heard worse from Malfoy on a good day. Hell was not rough treatment when a man had a fever, nor was it mildly biting remarks, more like love nips than wrenching teeth. If they really wanted to do something to him, they would have brought the apparitions of those who he loved or hated, as either would work, to torment him properly. Somehow, he wasn't in Hell.
Something dug into his hand as he clenched his fist tighter and he jolted slightly, invisibly. The blurry company in the tent did not speak, whether they were awake or not remaining unknown. Slowly, he opened his fist and ran his fingers along the rough hewn stone circle in his hand, rejoicing slightly. The Resurrection Stone, as a tool against Death, would not have traveled with him to beyond the grave, which meant he was alive. But, then, if he was alive, what of the Wizarding World? What of the horcrux in his head? Aside from the fever, the aching, and a lack of vision, he felt much the same, the fact that he was near to swooning not withstanding.
Just as he thought of what he could possibly do with the ring, a scream of utmost agony caused him to seize up. What could induce those screams but the cruciatus? Maybe they weren't muggles at all, but Death Eaters in disguise? He heard the words "birthing tent" from somewhere off to the side, but he was too busy quivering. Whoever was screaming had stopped, but that didn't make him feel any better. Death Eaters tortured, then they toyed, tortured some more, mentally assaulted people... Hermione had drilled him what she had read of the first war. It wasn't pretty. He ignored the mutterings of those around him, something about wolves, ogres (whatever an ogre was – there was no such thing in any of his school books), and something about a girl.
Harry tried to keep control over his breathing, but soon the baying of dogs, nickering of horses, and screams that seemed to only last a second apiece, dying in the throats of their source had him quivering. Death Eaters were surely attacking by now. Perhaps the muggles were truly just muggle gypsies being attacked by Death Eaters. He shivered, sagging against his pole, not daring to open his eyes even a bit, until the tent flap opened once more.
The blurred figure of a woman with a long mane of black hair entered the room, something the size of a small dog, but moving too jerkily and with too many legs following at her heels, clicking. A gasp came from somewhere to Harry's left, but he didn't look, to busy keeping his head from wavering as it was from fever. The gasp came from a woman, but that was all he could tell.
"Sweet Mother! It can't be!" A gruff voice, full of shock. Harry didn't have to turn his head at all to see the man who spoke, as he was across the tent and gaping. All he could make out was that the man in question had dark clothes, black hair, and one arm, an oddity in an of itself. Harry turned his eyes back to the woman, who had stopped moving but to swipe some hair from her face as she, too, turned to look at the one-armed man on the stake. Where were the Death Eaters? Who else could have caused such suffering? Unless... he squinted, trying to get a better look, first noting that the woman bore a striking resemblance to Bellatrix Lestrange, but he soon blushed. He'd thought she was merely wearing light clothes... but she was naked, standing in front of all these people as if she didn't really notice! Eyes immediately fuzzed again, but the blush didn't vanish.
"Er'ril! I knew it! I knew you weren't dead!" Harry, of course, was confused, but assumed it was complex and nothing to do with him, as was obvious. No one had started spouting about Voldemort, magic... nothing of the sort. Not even a mention of the Boy-Who-Lived, and that alone made it obvious that these people, if not muggles, at least knew nothing of the modern magical world. The lack of gunfire did make it kind of obvious that the deaths outside the tent were magical in some form, after all. Perhaps the spiders the old woman had mentioned were out killing? Well, Harry didn't much care; he was dead already, after all. He couldn't die twice.
A fourth person spoke from the left of "Errol" (though who in their right mind would name their child that was beyond him; all he could think of when he heard the name was the Weasleys' owl) spoke next, "Er'ril, you... you actually know this woman?" Though Harry didn't avert his eyes from the obviously evil woman, he did note that the speaker was about the same size as Hagrid and his voice was of the same timbre, but it was obviously not he. Hagrid would have recognized him right off the bat after all, and half of his words were incomprehensible.
Harry, for all his effort, swooned at this point, giving way to his fever. He awoke again to a choked cry, the barest of moans, but it got him all the same. It took a moment to remember just why he was tied so, but when he saw the woman (who was still naked) facing the area slightly before and to the side of him, he recalled, and twisted his neck to catch what she saw. The many-legged thing that he had seen before (now revealed as being winged as well) was wrapped around the face of the other woman, blood dripping slowly onto the floor as her skin pulled tight; whatever the young wizard had eaten that day (he couldn't be bothered to remember what, or even if, he had eaten) was spilled on the dirt at his feet and his throat burned. Even his nose burned, giving him the distinct impression that the bile had gone into it as well. He couldn't be bothered to remember.
Regardless, he was now wholly convinced that he was in some circle of Hell. Watching someone be killed so foully by the strange spider creature – which he now saw all too clearly from a few feet away – was one heck of a punishment. He could imagine little worse than to see something like that, which made it all the worse as everything caught up with him. Death Eaters, even the ones who backed out like Snape, had seen this sort of thing – done this sort of thing – and laughed. A shudder ripped through him. Merlin... It was awful.
"Now, Er'ril," the voice of the woman with the creature rose above his inner tirade and Harry tried to keep his shivering down as he pressed himself closer to his pole, away from the spider creature and the woman who had entered with it, "where is the wit'ch?" All movement stopped on Harry's part. Witch. Muggles on the search for witchcraft then... had he entered the circle where, perhaps, wizards were punished by a seeming Salem Witch Trial sort of thing? Trial by fire? Would they burn him? That would explain the stake and the comments of the men who had tied him up. Hadn't they claimed someone tried to show him as an innocent or something? Well, how could he move? These strangers would give him immediately to the fires; he couldn't cast a freeze-flame charm on them either.
"I'll tell you nothing, Vira'ni. You can kill us all," the man with one arm had snapped. But what good would that do him, to not give up the magical person in the tent? It was likely a loop of some sort, though. What better way to torture than to have someone be defended at the price of others' lives again and again? Harry knew no worse. He blacked out yet again, hoping the heat of his fever would keep him unconscious until the deed was done.
When Harry woke again, it was morning, and a wet cloth lay on his brow. There was dewed grass beneath, as he could feel it tickling at his neck when he moved even the slightest bit. Though no longer bound in ropes as he had been, a coarse blanket was rapped tightly about him and not the least bit comfortable. Opening his eyes to the pale morning light, there was little he could do but stare around. He was no longer deathly warm, nor did everything seem insanely cold to the touch (even the cloth on his forehead was simply a bit chilled and soggy).
Turning his face to the left, hoping to keep his eyes from the light for the time being (it always hurt to look at lights without his glasses), Harry came face to face with something rather odd. His vision was good to about five feet out, at which point everything started to blur. What he saw was very close, and very furry. A large wolf, perhaps even the same size as Remus Lupin had been in his lupine form, lay with its snout within a few inches of his own. It was a dark gray color, almost black, with white dots above its eyes. It would have been hard, under normal circumstances, to ignore the impressive maw and the teeth that came along with it, but Harry could. Bright amber eyes tore straight to him.
Even as Harry began to comprehend that the eyes just matched those of Lupin, he saw... well, he saw something, suddenly, in his mind. A pack of wolves traveling through the territory of a great bear. They come across another wolf, young and wounded. He is brought from the bear's territory by the pack, but he is not shown the way to their home. He is not pack. It wasn't words, and Harry couldn't really describe how he felt as the images came, but he understood, even as he wondered. He was an intruder to whoever had rescued him – a lone wolf rescued by a pack – and was not to be trusted. Merlin only knew how it even happened.
However, thoughts of pack, of family, made him think of Sirius, of Remus, and finally of his father. He didn't know how, but again, something happened. He saw when he first met both men and saw Prongs. A dog drags a boy into a house, another follows. The dog turns into a man, and the second boy attacks him, but another man stops him. They leave together, bearing a rat, their quarry. The second man suddenly becomes a wolf, the full moon hanging behind him, the first again a dog. Demons swoop upon them, and the rat escapes. A stag comes, becomes a man to protect them from the demons, and the dog runs away. He didn't know how or why, but he saw it, and somehow, Harry knew that the wolf saw it as well.
A small boy stands before a great serpent. It strikes, impaling itself on the boy's sword. Bitten, the boy crumples, dying. The tears of a flaming bird save him.
It wasn't stopping.
A man, the rat from before, cuts away his own hand and stabs the boy who is now tied to a grave. In the distance, a corpse may be seen, with a large snake, though not so great as the first, going over it as if trying to decide whether or not to eat it. A figure rises from smoke. A demon.
Even though Harry fought to pry his gaze away, the images continued to come. Why couldn't he remove his eyes from the wolf's?
A man, the dog, stands before a great arch, laughing as he dodges streaks of light. He pauses and is struck. He falls away, looking surprised, and disappears. A woman, dark and cruel, stands in his place, laughing as the boy fights his way to where the dog fell. The man who was a wolf stops him. The woman continues laughing. The dog does not emerge.
God damn it! First Cedric – why couldn't he help Cedric?! – and then Sirius! Whatever tricks were being played... he couldn't move, couldn't fight what was happening. It made no sense, and he couldn't try to have it make any whatsoever! He surrendered.
A young man with blond hair stands over an old man, looking about to kill him, with three others at his back. A fifth person appears, takes one look at the old man, and sends a green light at him. The old man seems to be still for a moment before his arms give way and he falls backwards off the tower. The murderer stands on a grassy plain, bathed in moonlight. The boy and he seem to fight, yet the man stops others from hurting the child. He leaves. The boy walks with a giant man and finds the old man, dead.
The wolf stands beside a woman with pink hair, hand in hand, smiling. The woman holds a small baby with green hair. They hand the child to the boy, now a young man himself, and leave. They are splayed out on the floor, peaceful. Dead.
It was not Harry who turned away, but the wolf. Its snout now faced off to its left, directly "above" Harry's head, looking almost pensive. He blinked, luckily not teary eyed (as he couldn't wipe anything away, bound as he was), and finally settled his own head in a neutral position. So far as he could tell, the wolf wasn't going to eat him... and what had occurred gave him a lot to think about. It had seemed like one of Snape's legilimancy attacks from fifth year, showing memories that he tended to not want to see, and yet that had been physically painful, making his scar ache and his body sore. There was no pain and, now that he thought of it, Harry's scar didn't hurt at all. It hadn't been so... normal since fourth year, and even that had only been in blips.
Regardless, he couldn't figure out how it had happened. Animals certainly couldn't perform legilimancy, certainly not non-magical ones; he'd never heard of magical wolves outside of werewolves, and it was day by then. Harry certainly hadn't done... whatever it was that had happened at the time. He couldn't even clear his mind to use occlumancy, let alone do something as complex as legilimancy! He couldn't fathom it, and decided it was really for the best that he not even bother. Hermione was the thinker, Harry merely did things and got everyone killed. Including himself. The Hounds of Hell could do whatever they pleased, so long as they didn't rip him to bits too slowly.
The crunch of grass under a heavy foot alerted the young wizard to the approach of someone. He titled his head back just as the owner of the feet spoke. "I see you're awake," the voice was smooth and young, belonging to someone of perhaps twenty-five years. From what Harry could see (as the man had stopped just outside his range of clear vision) he was rather tall with nondescript brown hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. He was a bit weedy and wore animal skins in the facsimile of some sort of hunting outfit, or so Harry assumed. "What's your name?"
"Harry," he replied, then glanced back at the wolf. It watched the man intently, though with no sign of caution or ill will. "Is that wolf yours?" The wolf itself did not shift its gaze, though Harry heard the man take a step forward, the wet grass squeaking slightly beneath his feet.
"You could say that," He murmured. Harry thought he sounded perplexed, though he didn't mention it. After all, who was he to pry into the lives of a keeper of Hell? Of course, the man could be a fellow inmate, but one never knew. The man was, by then, kneeling by the wolf, sending it curious looks every so often, before redirecting himself. "Well, Mr. Harry, you've come across an interesting bunch, I must say. Or, rather, we came across you, didn't we? Were a bit busy now, but I should think it wouldn't hurt to bid you welcome to the Circus of the Morning Star."
Harry blinked slowly, then snorted slightly. A circus in Hell? Well, he had read a book last summer – Dudley apparently having received it and sticking it in his room – about an evil circus that stole from people their wildest dreams to make them sideshow freaks. What was it the book had said? "They drink the wine of violence" or something like that. It was horridly tedious, but he supposed that this could be a circus similar to the fictitious one in the book. Those sorts were certainly the kind he expected to find down under (not Australia, which was just full of criminals). He wondered vaguely if what had happened last night (if night and day were indeed observed in the pits) had been part of the act, but decided not to bring it up.
"Interesting occupation," He finally stated, deciding what to say. He squirmed slightly in his wrappings, gave it up as a bad job, and opted to continue the conversation. "You said the wolf is yours? Well, he's kind of off, I've noticed," the man didn't seem to understand. Perhaps it was the phrasing, but Harry continued regardless. This Hellion no doubt already knew, but the young wizard was bored, and a conversation was far more fun and entertaining – for him least ways – than torture. "His eyes. It's really weird when you look into them, that's all." The man's gaze snapped immediately to the Boy-Who-Lived, and Harry realized that they weren't so dark as he first thought, but amber. From the closer distance, he thought the man rather resembled Remus, though bigger and not so haggard. There was no response to Harry's comment. (The man was not, after all, a wizard, and so probably couldn't understand all the magical things Harry knew, so perhaps death wasn't such an equalizer.) Perhaps he hadn't expected Harry to notice, but he could he not?
"I... suppose..." it had been a full minute between the initial comment and the small allowance. "Um... listen. Don't say anything to the others about what happened the other night, if you were conscious for much of it – I didn't really notice. Nee'lahn – the woman who was killed – was a dear friend. We will all miss her." He wondered briefly what happened if someone died in Hell, but didn't ask. It seemed somehow insensitive.
"Oh..." anything in his voice that could be considered jovial died a very painful death. "D'you think you could help me out of this cocoon? And, er, where are these 'others'?" Due to limited head-rotation abilities and the mass of blankets, Harry couldn't see anything past himself, even vague blurs, just open plains of green. The only beings in sight were the wolf and its master, which made him curious.
The man seemed to size him up and glanced again at the wolf (Harry could have sworn it nodded) before standing properly from his position, taking a few steps, and releasing Harry from his hot and itchy prison. "The rest are taking care of the aftermath from the... unfortunate happenings of two nights past," was the reply as the last of the coarse wool was unwrapped. "There was... a bit of a mess, you see." Of course there would be a mess, given that the Bellatrix-look-alike had killed at least one other person with her winged acromantula thing, or whatever it actually was.
Gaining a hand up from the man, Harry found it surpassingly easy to stand, which was odd given that he knew he must have been feverish for almost a full day since his death, and what little he had eaten beforehand had been spilled quite liberally the two days previous. Then, he wondered (for he was doing much wondering since his murder) how the food had come to Hell with his spirit and if the rolling of his stomach was from hunger or because he was dead and it was adjusting... or something.
The first thing he saw was a mass of darkness, mostly a charred sort of black, with the occasional smudge of green or brown, and towering spires all mashed together. A freshly burned forest, it seemed. Near the edge he spotted a smallish figure kneeling and patting a lump of brown. A grave, perhaps? He tore his eyes away and scanned the West, the sun at his back, before groaning. There was a fire, and he could guess that it was the camp from the night before burning. His glasses were toast.
"My glasses were still there," he sighed, sitting again and absently carding his fingers through the fur of the wolf. He paused, realized what he was doing, and glanced at it. The beast, however, didn't seem to mind, and simply huffed at him. "Don't suppose you know of a place where I could get a new pair of specs?" He glanced hopefully at the man, but he was digging through a bag.
Upon resurfacing, the man held out a folded cloth, held level in his long hands. "I picked up what I could find," he mentioned. "I suppose I'm a bit of a pack rat that way. You never know what will come in handy, but I'm afraid that they are quite broken. You might be able to give the glass to a crafter, but otherwise they're useless." With sudden realization, Harry picked up the cloth from the man's hand and, sitting with his legs criss-crossed, opened it on the flattened grass before him.
Shards of glass lay in varied sizes, all with coatings of dirt upon their surfaces. The plastic framing was snapped in seven places, and one of the hinges was contorted viciously. He had never realized how much damage a few walk-overs could do to the delicate frames (they had always stood up to Dudley's beatings), but they were totaled. With a sigh, he reached to his pocket, immediately feeling smooth wood beneath his fingers, and drew the wand he had won from Draco Malfoy with practiced ease. With merely a thought and a tap, the glasses cleaned and fixed themselves, only a small chink in the glass showing.
"Brilliant," he murmured, glad that he could see properly again.
The towering black spires now had individual branches – though not quite clear, as they were old glasses – he wondered how they'd always sized themselves for the ten years he had worn that exact pair, but didn't dwell on it – the wolf had hairs instead of being a blob, and he could now ascertain that the figure by the woods was a young boy, probably no older than fourteen judging by his size. There had been younger children taking refuge in the Room of Requirement. He could see also a figure emerging from the woods, the one armed man from the night before, and a few others (all quite tall, and he vaguely thought two of them looked like Hagrid and Grawp) heading toward them from the blazing tents.
The boy stood, brushing off his pants, and Harry turned himself back to the man – he still didn't know his name – grinning broadly. "Thanks for your help, though I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone about what I just did," the wand was already back in his pocket, "It doesn't take a genius to tell you lot aren't magic." Obviously, there were still wizards and muggles in Hell, and the man fell into the latter category. He could have fixed them himself otherwise.
"I..." there was a sort of hesitant awe as he nodded, staring at the now empty handkerchief that lay on the crumpled grass. "My name is Mogweed," he stated finally, thrusting out his hand to shake. When the hand dropped, they both stood up, and the wolf went immediately to greet the young boy as he approached.
"... And nothing will stop me," she stated finally, bringing her red right hand down to her chest and ensconcing it in a black deer-skin glove. When both hands were covered – one the pale hand of a woman, the other the bloodied magick of the wit'ch – she backed finally away from the grave, away from the small clump of dirt where both a woman and a seed were buried. With one final breath, she turned away and decided to check on their mysterious visitor.
It had been a full two days since he had been found in the frozen glade, and only the night before had his fever broken. Given the late recovery, she was surprised to note that he was standing up, and that his spectacles (reportedly crushed) were perched on his nose. Fardale was loping up to her, however, and she patted him absently when he arrived at her position. Er'ril had been in the forest, making sure all of the spiders were gone, and she saw him crossing over to the caravan where his new stallion (simply christened "Horse") was waiting for him and standing curiously close to her own mare.
Giving Fardale one last scratch (he was trying to catch her eye, but she didn't feel like engaging in the si'luran image-speak right then), Elena continued over to the pair. The mystery man had been her charge since the day before, and it was up to her to decide whether or not he was well. Then the others would figure out what was to be done with him.
"Good morning," she pronounced as she approached, reaching up to brush her hair behind her ear before realizing – for the dozenth time in the past few days – that her hair was cropped short, and instead ruffled the back a bit. It was a smooth enough transition. "I take it that you are feeling better? No chills, hot spells, nausea, stomach ache? Not dizzy at all?" Of course he would be though, considering he hadn't eaten at least since they had picked him up. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders up and down before shaking his head in the negative.
"Right as rain," he affirmed this by stretching languorously, "if a bit tired still. Gotta shake the sleep off is all." He grinned in a sort of lazy manner, adjusting his spectacles slightly on his nose as they seemed to tilt slightly to the right. "I'm Harry. What's your name?"
Elena prided herself on being a smart girl; forward thinking, introspective, and capable of improvisation in particular were phrases commonly used to describe her by teachers in Winter's Eyrie. However, when confronted with the question of her name, especially when she was masquerading as a boy, was not something that she or Er'ril (who was pretending to be her father) had thought of before setting out from Kral's mountain home. It had never occurred to her that someone might ask the name of the innocuous boy who would have a minor role in the supposed circus itself and would mostly be seen to do menial tasks.
"Len," she burst after half a moment's panic. El could hardly be considered a name and if Joach had been interrogated, surely her pet name would have been revealed, and Len had certain masculinity to it without being all canceling of feminine qualities. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Harry." Thinking on it, Harry was an odd name. Had he been particularly furry as a baby? Had his parents thought him to be some sort of woodland creature to name him for the hair on his head rather than some more normal quality? It seemed rather stupid.
The young man tilted his head, furrowing his brow in a mildly concerted manner. "Er... it's just Harry. My surname is Potter," he corrected. Elena had no clue what a "surname" was, but she assumed he meant something along the lines of a family name. She nodded simply, however, pretending that she knew what he was talking about. She wasn't terribly world-wise; perhaps "surname" was a word commonly used on the plains. Dialects were obviously quite different on this side of the Teeth.
He seemed about to say something further, but Er'ril strode up, single hand resting on the silver pommel of his sword. It was as if he were evaluating the odd boy before them. "Why do you wear the cloak of a dark mage?" Asked the plainsman, scanning the figure.
Elena had to admit that the robe he wore was similar to that of the mage who had killed her parents. It was long, reaching the grass easily, and an inky black even after being tossed in the dirt and the escapades from when he was located. However, it had some definite differences too; the lining was a shimmering red fabric, and a crest of red and gold sat proudly on his breast, displaying a lion. Beneath were odd garments, fading blue trousers and a white shirt with a curious rounded neckline. Even his boots were odd, cutting off at his ankles and seeming to be pieced together with cloth in the oddest of places. Er'ril had a point, but somehow, she knew he was wrong.
The head-tilting was exacerbated due to some obvious confusion. "Dark... mage?" He didn't seem to get it, but then his head sprang up straight and he snapped his fingers, looking sheepish. "Oh! Gotcha." Such odd words! "It's the uniform for the school I used to attend," a pause, "well, the robe is anyways. See the lion? It's the symbol for Gryffindor, my House." Now Elena was confused. His House, his line, was Gryffindor, but then what was a surname? Maybe he meant "sire-name" or some such. A man named Potter Gryffindor did seem likely to name his child something as silly as Harry, after all.
"So you are Harry Gryffindor then?" Elena affirmed. It was better to get the confusion out of the way now. She figured that, given the strange speaking patterns of the boy (he can't have been any older than Joach, surely) that she wouldn't understand anything he said unless filled in by a third party, and she didn't want to be so helpless in the knowledge section as she was when it came to her magical training.
"Er... well, no," why did he seem so confused all of a sudden? "I'm Harry Potter; my house in school is my dormitory, Gryffindor." Harry (who was again Harry-of-the-inexplicably-curious-name) said it slowly, as if speaking to a retard or something. It made a bit more sense though, that he should be the son of a man who made pots. But it was still a weird name.
There was yet more confusion over his name and what "House" meant when the boy said it. Elena didn't know why, but her liege man seemed extremely interested in the mysterious boy. What did it matter, anyway? Surely they would merely be giving him a lift to the nearest town, at most, and never hearing from him again! It wasn't until Mogweed spoke up, asking to speak to the pair for a moment while Harry played with Fardale (for the wolf seemed to like him) that she found anything of a noteworthy oddity about him.
"He can speak to Fardale," Mogweed revealed immediately, looking terribly bewildered. "He does not even have si'luran eyes, so he is not like Tol'chuk. The only time before..." he glanced at Elena who nodded. She was the only non-si'lura that had looked into Fardale's eyes and seen anything other than the curious slitted amber, and that first time had been an accident. It was useful of course. "But it was different, or that is what I gathered. Fardale's image was unclear, as if he did not know how to express it, but I got the gist of what he meant; that child spoke to him. Fardale saw... something. There were flashes, of a man turning into a dog, that same man hugging the boy, and of him dying. There was a wolf and a stag as well, but that is all I could make out."
He rubbed his neck, looking at the young girl and the man before him, casting a glance also to where the boy sat scratching his brother's head and to the cart where the remaining three of their number were pretending to be busy, but always looking over with guarded expressions. The boy was an unknown. Elena followed his gaze to each point and sighed herself. It was so complicated.
"He looks just like you, Elena," Er'ril stated finally, the wheels in his mind obviously turning in ways he would rather they not. "It's perhaps not the best idea, but were it possible, this could better cement your disguise as well. As I said the other day, the Gul'gothal Lord's men are looking for a young girl, a child. They are not looking for brothers." He too sighed, lifting his hand from the sword pommel to rub at the back of his neck, much in the fashion that Mogweed had not a minute before. "We will find out his course; where he hails from and where he journeys to. I don't know of any school with black robes for a uniform, but then, I never paid much mind to the affairs of children, certainly not now. But something... something to that name. Harry Potter of House Gryffindor. It is familiar."
Elena remained silent. Why should Er'ril take such a risk? Even she didn't trust the boy, and she had watched over him, acting as his nurse for his entire sickness on the plains. But she kept her mouth clamped tight. Er'ril knew best. She was just a child herself, no matter how much she saw herself as a woman, she was just a little girl who could still masquerade as a boy without any notice.
So they would speak to him, she supposed, and then what? He would join them? What sort of suspicion would the boy have towards them in the first place? And not only was there the effort of her training, but the boy now believed her name to be "Len." It had been hard enough to get Meric to treat her as anything less than a princess, and it would be a full leap to get him to refer to her as a boy in any manner, but to call her by a fully different name would be beyond him most likely. His elv'in sensibilities would never stand for it.
I just hope Er'ril knows what he's doing, Elena sighed mentally.
A/n: Hm... I'm surprised I managed to get a full chapter out of this, really I am. If I continue, great, wonderful, if not, oh noes. Like HPatHC, this is at least starting as a dump story; this is by no means my new project... I think. I make no promises of completion or updating. And any future chapters will be shorter than this, I guarantee you. It should mostly be Harry's perspective, but there will be occasional scenes from someone else's eyes.
Okay, so you've probably never even heard of the Banned and the Banished. Start by picking up Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens. Trust me, it's a good series, and I've read that book alone at least ten times since I was in elementary school. (It's an adult book mind you – I was reading things like the Once and Future King and Dracula in Elementary school.) However, if you don't want to, the italics below are a quick synopsis of Wit'ch Fire and a little bit about each character. Also, there is general information about this universe. Very bottom says what happened this chapter.
Anyway, love it? Hate it? Tell me. As this is one of now two stories at all involving this particular series, I'm curious to see what sort of demographic I'll get. The other fails, and epically so, so I wouldn't recommend it.
Characters: Elena "Len" Morin'stal – age 13 or 14, a young farm girl. She is the second blood-wit'ch in recorded history and bears her magick in the crimson stain on her right hand which may be renewed by moonlight (for ice) or sunlight (for fire). She's fiery tempered, loyal, and very compassionate. Originally, she had long red hair, but it was cut and dyed to hide her. Elena is the only hope to defeat Dark Lord of Gul'gotha. Her blood magicks are her only weapon at this point.
Er'ril – age over 500 (though he has not aged), a warrior of the Standi plains during the war against Gul'gotha 500 years ago. He once was the protector of his brother Shorkan, a mage, and now protects Elena. Immortal due to a ritual that took the lives of Shorkan, the mage Greshym, and a young mage and created a book that would be given to the prophesied blood-wit'ch. He is distrusting, cynical, and highly protective of those he cares for. He is guiding the group to A'loa Glen in the Archipelago. He wields his sword with his one arm, how he lost the other is a mystery (for the moment).
Mogweed – age unknown. A si'lura (shape-shifter)stuck in the form of a human. He is caring, but selfish, and willing to sell out others if it means he will regain his shape-shifting ability. Mogweed is also a jealous sort of person and will keep information to himself if it suits his goals. He uses his words as his weapon. He's a bit of a pack-rat. His appearance is that of a rather nondescript man, but he still bears the amber eyes of his si'luran heritage, as does his identical twin Fardale.
Fardale – age unknown. A si'lura stuck in the form of a large black tree wolf. He is caring, compassionate, and cares more for his identical twin Mogweed and his friends than regaining his shape-shifting ability. He can communicate with Elena, Mogweed, and Tol'chuk (and now Harry) using the pictorial telepathy of the si'lura. He and Mogweed journey with the others in hopes of discovering a cure before they are stuck forever.
Kral – age unknown. A mountain man of the royal Clan of the Senta Flame. He is caring, refuses to lie under any circumstance, and can tell when others lie with little effort. He is an elemental of rock with the ability to cut off his pain receptors for a time and makes himself essentially as hard as stone. He journeys with the others due to prophecy and the hope that he can save his people from death. Looks like Hagrid, but a bit shorter. Wields an ax.
Nee'lahn – age over 1000. The last of the nyphai (dryad/wood nymph), Nee'lahn journeys with the hope that Elena can cleanse her woods and return the nyphai to being. She is kind, but vicious in battle. As a nyphai, she is an elemental of trees and uses her tree-song to ask their aid. Now deceased. She used her elemental affinity to help in battle, now all that remains of her is the lute made from the core of her tree. She is pale with honey eyes and hair and looks a rather waifish-twenty.
Meric – age unknown, son of the el'vin Queen and a member of the House of Morning star. He is pompous (think Malfoy), but fiercely protective of Elena. He is an elemental of the air and lightning and may use it to do a great many things such as increase his own speed and create great gusts of wind. He is over six feet tall, very thin, and pale with silver hair. He left the el'vin to search for their king who was forced to remain on the continent when the el'vin took to the skies and now journeys with the group to protect Elena, the descendant of their king. He battles with a rapier and his elemental abilities.
Tol'chuk – age unknown, a half-og're, half-si'lura. He was banished from the og're caves for killing another og're (on accident) and learned that he was half-si'lura from Mogweed. He journeys to purify the Heart of his people – their gate to the after life – and purge the Bane set their by his ancestor which devours the souls. He is very caring, careful, and protects his "brothers" (Mogweed and Fardale). He is about fifteen feet tall at full height, his skin is a sort of greenish-gray, and his eyes are amber and slitted. He uses the Heart and his claws as weapons.
Wit'ch Fire plot synopsis: 500 years ago, three mages (Greshym, Shorkan, and a young boy) made the Blood Diary because of a prophecy, killing them in the process and granting Er'ril immortality. Now he roams the land waiting for the wit'ch.
While picking apples in her family's orchard with her brother, Joach, Elena's hand disappears in a sun beam and comes back bright red, as if covered in blood (at that same moment she starts her first period). That night, "her" owl, Pintail, is killed by some sort of demon worm, though before that Elena accidentally set fire to an apple and increased her bath to boiling, which faded the crimson stain. Two men come and the worms kill Elena's parents – at which point she accidentally sets them on fire so she won't have to see them being eaten by the worms – and flees the farm with Joach and her mare, Mist.
Mogweed and Fardale meet Tol'chuk (who has just been banished, as have they), when fleeing hunters. They journey together until they come upon the township of Winter's Eyrie. Likewise, Er'ril has returned to Winter's Eyrie on the 500th eve of the Blood Diary's making. There he meets Nee'lahn and, the next morning, Kral. The town is spreading rumors of Elena and Joach being demon-possessed, and the two are captured when they try to find sanctuary with their Aunt.
A demon known as a skal'tum kills Elena's aunt to get at Elena (she wounds it with her magick), but it is fought by Kral and Er'ril, Kral killing the beast. Joach is captured by a dark mage – revealed to be Greshym, the same mage who forged the Diary – while they capture the mage's accomplice, and Elena takes Er'ril, Kral, Nee'lahn and the accomplice to her uncle's house where it is revealed that she is a blood wit'ch. More skal'tum attack the house, and Elena flees through some underground ruins with Er'ril and her uncle to get a ward that will allow them to retrieve the Diary. The others flee through the woods and meet Tol'chuk, Mogweed, and Meric. They find a way down into the ruins by following Meric's moon'falcon.
They are found by the skal'tum outside the ruins, Nee'lahn his left behind to act as "bait" for Elena to come and be killed by the skal'tum. In the caves, the falcon finds Elena and alights on her hand – renewing her magick with moonlight – and they find Fardale at a river. They are followed by cave'goblins and eventually they come to a large chamber with a statue of the boy mage who helped forge the diary as well as the ward. Meric meets with Tol'chuk and Kral by accident, but they continue on together because Meric has light. They find the cave as well, just as the old Headmaster (for the ruins were once a school of magick) dies and the goblins attack.
Meric tries to kill Elena, only for his falcon to take the blow in her stead, and he realizes that, though she is the wit'ch who he was sent to kill, she is also the heir he was to bring home. Elena uses her ice magick to kill all the goblins and they leave, only to fall prey to the skal'tum. They kill all the skal'tum, then Greshym's accomplice turns into a mul'gothra (a queen skal'tum) and they kill it, but first it kills Elena's uncle.
They go to the mountains to hide out with Kral's clan, and that's the end of the book basically.
It also ends by revealing that Joach is alive as a brainless slave to Greshym.
Just little things you need to know: 500 years ago, the Gul'gothal lord appeared in the d'warf lands and attacked Alasea – the continent where the story takes place.
Mages are granted the power of Chi – basically God – but he vanished when the Dark Lord appeared. Mages lost their hands if they tried to renew their power after Chi vanished.
Elena (and her predecessor, Sisa'kofa) are granted their magicks by Cho, who is kind of like Chi's sister/wife God.
To access magick, a mage/wit'ch must cut their red hand – thus it is blood magick.
Elementals are relatively common, they have special gifts granted by the land in a certain element (beast speakers, firebrands, air elementals, earth, plant-life, just about anything).
Ebon'stone is a black stone that sucks in light and draws power from elementals.
The nyphai believe that the el'vin cursed them with the blight (the reason why Nee'lahn is the last of her people) while the el'vin believe the nyphai forced their king (Elena's how ever many great grandfather) to stay on Alasea rather than return with them to the sky.
Obviously, this is an olden-style fantasy story.
Elena does not like being a wit'ch, and her group – just about the only people who know about her – are still a bit skittish.
Mogweed and Fardale have 18 months from when they set out to regain their shape-shifting ability or they will be stuck forever. About 6 months have already passed.
Sunlight is the skal'tums weakness, except new-borns which are granted protection until they make their first kill. They can also be harmed by a blade bathed in the blood of another skal'tum.
What happened in this chapter: Vira'ni is from a coastal town, and Er'ril went through as a juggler once. They fell in love and she got pregnant; then he faked his death and she had to abort to save her family shame. The Dark Lord then recruited her - because she had a small elemental talent - and she gave birth to the Horde - the spiders - which, when the forest burned down, crawled back to her womb. The Dark Lord turned them into the winged-spider-thing which is actually a baby skal'tum (half skal'tum, half Vira'ni). The Horde are highly venomous and had killed all the trees, so Nee'lahn ordered them to burn down the desecrated tree-corpses to clear their path from the mountains to the plains.
A bunch of campers caught the group – minus Fardale and Elena – and were going to burn them alive, but then Vira'ni gave birth to the winged-spider-thing and killed them all. She left her "child" to kill everyone who was tied up and went to kill Elena herself, but Elena used mage sight (accidentally got blood on her eyelids and could see the magick in Vira'ni's heart) and used the last of her magick to crush Vira'ni's. With everyone else, they threw a dog at the baby skal'tum, which it killed, and then they killed it because the protections were gone.