AN:(15 October 2010) It's frustrating, but this isn't betaed either. I mean, I was more or less resigned to my fate after all this time and then there was a miracle. Armand DuBerry sent me a PM proposing to take care of it for me. Unfortunatly it would seem that his profile is set not to accept PMs. Which makes it hard to accept his offer. If you are him and still interrested (or if you are interrested at all) please contact me with a way to actualy answer.
What else? Oh yeah! Someone asked to post the list of the nicknames and who they correspond to. I thought it was fairly clear but then again a reviewer thought that D was actually Draco... So here it is:
T = Tonks
Assistant = Susan Bones
H = Hannah Abbot
D = Daphne Greengrass
B = Blaise Zabini
little D = Draco
the foaming guy = Snape
old man Nick/ the old flame = Nicolas Flamel
the show off = Minerva McGonagall
anything else with old inside = Dumbledore
space pirate (and all variants) = Moody
my fan = Ron
Hermione's changes each time.
Anyway, I own nothing. Confused people should go see my profile or review their questions (I always answer). People who want have an idea about how fast the chapters are going to come should go to my profile too. I think that covers it.
It takes my mind two and a half seconds to return to its normal (ok, default) state. I personally blame the terrible wordplay more than the amazing feat of transfiguration. I start to raise my wand immediately but two silent spells are already flying my way so fast that even dropping to the ground is of no help. D doesn't last much longer than me, her shield is immediately blown to bluish shards that are flung everywhere, only to dissolve as they touch their surroundings. One bright red beam of light and she's out cold. It's fairly frustrating to watch when petrified and silenced. "Accio wands." Now that the fight is mostly over, Black seems to relax some and, somehow, that pulls me out of my state of panicked frenzy. Obviously he is going to indulge in some evil overlord gloating and torture D in front of me. Maybe offer me a chance to join the dark side (which makes no sense since I'm pretty sure I'm already there). My mind splits itself between taking his appearance in and trying to remember anyone mentioning my wandless capabilities in the dog's presence. That second task is over in a matter of seconds since I haven't been awake for that long. As far as I can tell, my ace in the hole is still there, but then again I don't know what the others may have said while I was out.
Still, I'm confident.
Even if he does know anything, he doesn't look like he is going to take measures against it so that's fine. Now that I have that down I transfer the free processing power back to trying to find apparent weaknesses. He is tall; maybe all of ten centimeters short of old man Dumbles. He's pretty thin though, almost rachitic I'd say… If I were three years or so older I'd have a shot if it came to grappling. He isn't crippled in any obvious way beside that, though there are quite a few scars on his limbs… His eyes, well if mine weren't so stunning already I certainly wouldn't mind having his. I always liked blue almost as much as green. Though I do hope that people can't see the crazy in mine as easily as I can in his. Ah, well… if they can there's always sunglasses… His hair… hmm… "You know, it really is long and silky." What do you know, all that wand waving he was doing while I stared at him was actually him putting a line of silence (don't confound with a silencing ward please, it really hasn't anything but the general results in common) and lifting the silencio he had put me under.
He gives me a sour look.
"You could have helped me then you know!" Right. There goes the last shred of my already tenuous hope of having a reasonable conversation. I try to nod at him but it would seem that he isn't quite ready to lift the body bind just yet. Guess that crazy does not, in fact, mean stupid. "This is most likely where I'm supposed to say something about this not being, in fact, a valid reason for torturing me horribly before killing me. Unfortunately I just don't bother with reading the script these days… and I'd prefer not to mention torture at all from now on. I do tend to ramble and I'd rather not give you tips if I can avoid it. I'm fairly creative." He gives me a bemused look and for a second I wonder if purebloods are so far removed from reality that he can't even get that joke. "I'm not going to hurt you Harry." Huh. "No?" He nods. "No." Oh. "Ok… that's cool. So… where's my new item then?" And now he is laughing. Weird. It's not even a psychopath kind of laugh, or even just a manic laugh. Just a regular, breathtaking, happy laugh. I don't think he could scare me more if he were to eat baby bunnies alive right in front of me. It's one thing to know you are facing a powerful madman. But facing someone as frighteningly skilled and strong who is still sane enough to give that kind of laugh?
Screw waiting for the right time! I animate his clothes and make them choke him right away.
It's not perfect since he really only owns rags but it's working well enough. He's already dropped the wands so it's pretty much a question of time now. I don't think he can hold his breath longer than I can hold the animation. "The head (cough)… of house Black (sputter)… h-hereby… accepts…" What on Earth is he doing? "…accepts the granted (cough)… title of Miss F-fluffy… as given by house Abbott." Those… are very strange as far as dying words are concerned. Maybe the laughter was just a fluke after all? My ponderings lead me to unconsciously let him a bit looser. "I, miss Fluffy, hereby accept the life debt of Harry James Potter as by himself acknowledged." Shit! I can feel the magic slipping out of my metaphorical fingers already! For a moment, I consider apparating away, but I'm just not so far gone as to try that in an entropy pool yet. Not much point of escaping if you are leaving body parts behind and your opponent is a Black Mage. On the bright side, my old friend (Pa)Nick is back! It's two against one at least now. Or maybe not. (Ma)Nick seems to be evening the odds… Black coughs. I'm not sure if it's because I almost crushed his trachea or if he noticed I wasn't minding him anymore. "That… was pretty vicious of you Harry."
And somehow, it feels like he's praising me. Just disturbing.
"Well, it isn't like you should have expected anything else. If you wanted to go against someone who would just roll over and die you clearly chose the wrong boy." He gives a weak chuckle. "I can see that. Good thing that, like I said earlier, I'm not trying to hurt you. I just want to talk." Ok. Talking is good. I like talking. People rarely, if ever, die from talking (the great exception being death by extreme boredom, but I'm not calm enough to even think about reaching the state of mind required for that). "What a splendid idea! Why, just the other day a friend of mine was telling me I should try to have conversations that don't lead to murder attempts. I think you'll be great motivation Mister Black!" He sighs heavily. "Yes, I gathered that much. This will be a long conversation, I can see. Gods, but I hate sceptics." Once more I try to nod only to be frustrated by his earlier spell. "I know, right? A pox on them all, I say! And if that doesn't work then lets set a mass murderer, a couple of monsters, a psychotic castle and a stupid tournament on them! That'll teach them!"
What? He did say that he wasn't going to hurt me and I just can't help it.
"Oh, and would you mind freeing my upper body?" A wave of his wand and I can finally scratch my nose again. "So, what could you possibly have to tell me that was worth waiting two months for an opportunity Mister Black? I mean, the grounds are nice and all, but considering how windy it gets around here your wait can't have been all that pleasant…" Left unsaid is that doing so makes way more sense for someone who is after my head. He raises an eyebrow. "How could you possibly know about that?" I make good use of the partial freedom he granted me to cross my arms smugly. "I am an annoying bastard. That kind of information falls under my jurisdiction." And there he is, laughing again. I mean, nobody ever praised me for my manners, but this is just plain rude of him! "Not to interrupt or anything, but I do have stuff to do today… would you mind moving things along?"
He sobers up.
"I will. And to answer your question, I guess that I must start by not answering it." Lovely. "For you see, the crux of the matter is simply that I didn't come here for you at all. How to explain?" A pause. "What I am about to tell, young wizard, is a revelation normally restricted to the fifteen circle of life and above. So listen carefully." A pause. I nod. "The fact is that any self respecting tale should end with 'and there was much rejoicing, and much booze'. Or, if you want to be more classy about it you can go with 'and there was much drunken rejoicing'. Or even 'and they rejoiced, drinking to the spirits above from dusk to dawn'. See? It's nice and open. Way better than this happily ever after thingy." I restrain myself from asking if there's a point to this. For one thing, I want to appear in control (even without the use of my legs). That, and you never know when that kind of information can come in handy. "By that definition, on that snowy (don't ask how, it was Wales) October the 31st, most wizarding folk were witnessing (those still conscious mind you) the end of one particularly long and frightening story. And by the same standards, I was pretty far removed from the final act myself."
How very startling.
"Well, I was considering (quite seriously I must say) the consumption of large quantities of alcohol. But, somehow, I found myself so far removed from any form of rejoicing that Severus Snape would have looked downright friendly and huggable in comparison." And isn't that a disturbing thought? Maybe he is trying mental torture instead of physical? "Anyway, most that saw me then assumed later that I was quite upset about Voldemort's ultimate demise. I was not. And really, how would that have made sense? Voldemort's right hand man would have rejoiced just as much as the rest. It would have been perfect to take over the Death Eaters (that's basic Sith philosophy)." I find myself nodding again. It makes me feel like a yes man (or, if you really want to be humiliating about it, a cheerleader), but I can't deny that I would do just that if I had accepted to be bossed around in the first place. "No, I found myself euphemically upset because I had been forced to admit that, despite what I always thought, I was susceptible to wizard mindedness."
Now I'm almost sympathetic. Poor guy.
"I had crafted, in a moment of weakness, my first overly complicated plan and Murphy had thought best to take advantage of it almost immediately. It took me flatfooted I must say… I had always fancied myself one of his enforcers (after all while that job is assigned to black cats in the muggle world, I am a wizard and we are much more wary of black dogs). Now, I don't know why he decided to be so blunt about it. Maybe he just didn't think he'd get another chance to show me how powerful he is. The fact is that within two days of my mistake, I had cost their life to my two best friends." That would certainly not be a pleasant thing to have on one's mind. If it were true that is. "I'm sure you have been told that I was a friend of your parents back in the days, though most likely with the added 'until he revealed himself as the treacherous scum he is' bit. What I am trying to tell you is that I was (not treacherous mind you, although I have been called scum by a couple of girls in my years). Now, I know how absurd that sounds given the present situation, but bear with me for a second."
Well, it's not like I have room for denial here…
"Ask yourself what is the best explanation, that Voldemort somehow convinced a person that never showed dark tendencies before (except for his horrible family that by all accounts he hated with fervor) to condemn to death his two best friends since before even Hogwarts… and their newborn son? Or that there is another explanation out there?" Should I answer? It certainly sounds like a rhetorical question but I can have a hard time telling when it comes from a wizard… "Well yes. I suppose that's true. But is this the best place to make use of razors? While it's true that you really need to deal with all that disgusting facial hair, I am having trouble understanding your point. Just because one answer is more otherworldly than the alternative doesn't make it necessarily false." I'm stretching things a bit here. Best to tune it down. Like I read somewhere, it's fine to play the Devils advocate, but only as long as you don't end up believing your own words.
"I know, but I am trying to set the base for the discussion here. It's not like the original story makes sense, is it? We'll get there soon enough If there was something that I did pick up from my family is that a good lawyer always exposes the facts as he wants them to be accepted before going for the evidence. You need to give the bare minimum for your target to listen with an open mind of course, but the gist of it is to use all you ammo at once and thus avoid petty things like counter-arguments." I can't help but give him a funny look at that. "What? Just because it's an Evil tactic doesn't mean it shouldn't be used. I do want you to believe me after all." Cue deadpan. "I was actually going to comment on the fact that those things work much better when you don't inform the target…" He looks a little sheepish but shrugs. "Anyway, the fact is that, while I certainly wasn't fine with James and Lily dying on me like that… well it was War. And they were targets. It wasn't like we weren't going to see each other again after all. Hell, there's no doubt in my mind that to this day, if I could communicate with Lily she'd tease me about finally getting rid of me, hopefully for the next hundred years."
He pauses with a small smile. His face darkens pretty fast though.
"No, what truly pissed me off was that they hadn't died in combat. Not really. They died because they were stabbed in the back by a man I thought my brother (although it was the annoying kind. same category as Regie, really). A man I just so happened to have recommended for the role of Locus for the wards that protected my friends (who were part of the cool, if scary in Lily's case, siblings category)." Fidelius. "So yes… I was a bit… miffed with Peter at the time. So when I found him, and I did… the dumb bastard still hadn't realized by then that I had a tracking charm on his lucky underwear (or at least that's what he told us when we asked. I still say that he probably only had the one) since third year… Anyway, when I found him in muggle London eating French fries dipped in some kind of purple sauce (what do you mean how can I possibly remember that? it was my last free day. it's hardwired in my memory.) I lost it."
I see where he's coming from. Purple? Seriously, who eats anything purple? I mean, the only thing I can think about is beetroot and that's one disgusting vegetable (although I thank it for the wondrous sugar).
He nods sadly to himself. "You know how it is right? Sometimes when you're upset you'll start to say the craziest things… Well I may have made a few threats that… made things look bad. And I may have been… less than precise in my casting. So after the little shit had managed to flee (I got a finger at least! the bugger was fast but not that much) and the Aurors came and started asking questions… it looked majorly bad. Then when one of them said that the few things I had in mind were just cruel and I corrected her by saying that they were both cruel and unusual… I'm pretty sure that's when I lost the right to a trial." I stare. He shrugs. "Nobody ever accused me of being level-headed. Even less so when loyalty is involved (did you know I was honorary Hufflepuff before the Azkaban stuff? granted, it had more to do with the fact that I was in very good terms with their three female prefects than anything else, but still!)" I keep staring for a few seconds. "You are telling me, that I shouldn't believe the official story because it's full of holes. And then you go on and tell me that what truly happened is the very thing I was told only with you being the victim instead."
I sigh. "How does that make more sense?" Not that I expected much from someone who spent ten years surrounded by dementors to begin with, but he could at least make an effort damn it!
"If the only versions I get to pick from are just as unlikely why should I doubt the official statement?" In fact his story is even more unbelievable if you take the purple sauce as a factor. Better not to mention it though. "Because the official version was the result of our upstanding ministry folk's careful investigation?" Which mean that there's a better than even chance it's wrong. Damn. He got me there. "Well, that still doesn't mean you are telling the truth. Both versions could be wrong for all I know. So hurry up with the evidence part already." I really need to eat something. It's like I can feel sanity slipping through my fingers as he talks… I restrain myself from looking at my arm. It's innocent until proved guilty, which means that even if the chaotic magic around us did decide to transfigure it into apple pie or something, it still wouldn't be right to eat it. "Right. The evidence. Hmm… I was actually going for the reasonable doubt approach on this one but you said that just pointing out why the ministry version is shit isn't going to cut it… Well, lets start with the fact that if I had wanted to take your parents down I could have. Easily."
So very modest. Not like I am the best placed to point it to him though.
"Don't get me wrong, your father was good. But I am just that much better than him. Got a couple of completely unfair advantages on my side (like any proper Black). And Lily… well… Lily was my equal. Maybe even my better. But she was a healer, and with the Oath… she still could have taken me with trickery (for she was a master in the art) but never if I had gone for a backstab. So how come Voldemort went there himself? He's not the kind to bother if there's no need you know? My guess is that he did because Peter is a sorry excuse for a wizard and he preferred to take a risk and hope there weren't much in the way of additional defenses past the main ward rather than have Peter try by himself and botch things." That certainly is a convincing argument. Still not enough by itself but he makes a good case. "Then, there's the fact that I had no motive. While you may think that neither did Peter, the sad truth is that he was a coward all his life (still is I'd wager). You can ask anyone. Before he proved his worth by challenging Evil Sirius Black to a duel, everyone who knew him would have told you that he was so devoid of positive qualities that the hat must have just picked a house at random."
Now, that isn't very nice. Maybe his positive qualities just didn't fit any of the stereotypes. Like a talented juggler or something…
For a moment I stop to think about how things would be if we had much more houses than four. Either they'd have to narrow their defining qualities or the other would be stuck with ridiculous stuff. Like the house of those who don't snore, or who at least do so in a cute way. Although I'm pretty sure that could be grounds to chuck you in Hufflepuff… Is he still talking? Huh. I guess I'll pretend he made several other good points and listen more closely from now on. "…and lastly, there is the fact that I'm not doing anything untoward to you right now." Well, there is that… "Fine. Whatever, stop rambling already. Just tell me why you are here then. I'm pretty sure you never said." The look of triumph on his face tells me he was waiting for this. "And there his my final piece of evidence your honor!" I interrupt him just for the hell of it. "How can your final anything come after your lastly? You are making even less sense than me and I'm practically starving here…" He waves his hand dismissively. "Professional rule breaker talking here." I refrain from pointing that this kind of statements wouldn't be a very good idea if he hadn't convinced me already. And that if I am convinced then there's not really much point to more evidence.
He keeps going.
"The reason I am here is that Peter is here! Well, he was until Moody blew everything up anyway. Hear my words, he and me will have a long talk once they unpetrify his sorry ass!" He keeps mumbling about the things he wants to do with the guy's peg leg for a while. "Right, right. Are you going to explain exactly how was it that the supposedly dead man was here without anyone knowing about it but you?" With one last curse involving bionic-pirate-guy's personal hygiene, he continues. "Right. Well, the fact is that Peter is an animagus. After I finally busted myself from Hell on Earth I just located my old tracking charm and decided to get some more revenge (one measly finger just won't do it I'm afraid). The little bugger is a rat so it's not easy to find him but I had high hopes until the paranoid patrol decided to screw with my chances. Worst of all is that there's no way any tracking charm could have survived that much entropic magic. Pretty much any magical effect that doesn't rely on runes or downright powerful essence magic must have been busted by this…"
Good thing that most of what I've got falls under one of those categories…
"Wait. Didn't you tell me like ten minutes ago that Peter was a useless wizard? Am I supposed to believe that somehow his one talent was advanced self-transfiguration?" He looks thoughtful for a moment. "Well… no. Now that I think about it, it's more like I am an animagus twice and I lent him a form…" Is that even possible? Some of my scepticism must be showing because he explains a little more. "Of the four of us (yeah, there was a fourth dude but I won't talk about him now. he's a fucker anyway. didn't even try to talk to me before they locked me up), only James had a real gift for transfiguration. I was good enough to follow with his help and that other guy would have been too if there hadn't been issues to prevent him. But Peter was a screw up. After the twenty-something-th time we had to beg Lily to reverse the damage he did to himself while trying, I looked for alternative ways. And I found a couple within Black Magic. I was the best there was at Black Magic and very good with runes too so I managed a dumbed down version of the original. With the number of rats we sacrificed it should be good for another five years at least. You know, there were warnings in the text about sacrificed spirits banding together to influence the caster… We thought that there was no way for that to happen with a bunch of rats (which is why we chose that animal), but theses days I wonder. Peter never had a very strong will…"
I'm getting this strange feeling that being friends with the bloke isn't on the safe side of things… Maybe we should stick with being archenemies…
"Okay… I think we just need to clear the why did you, in fact, decide to say hello part now." He shrugs. He does that a lot I've noticed… can't be very good on the shoulder blades but whatever. "What else am I to do? I guess that I could go hide somewhere nice and warm with lots of gorgeous maidens, but I know myself. I'd be bored of it after two months or something (not the girls mind you, but you can find those in most places anyway). And it looked like you might need a hand. What with castles, and monsters, and tournaments and the pox after your hide." Got me here too. While I do like to look at a gift horse in the mouth (to check for hidden C4 compartments) I would never actually refuse one. Even poisonous gifts have their uses after all. "Alright! Welcome on board minion-lieutenant number 2! Assemblies for Evil-plotting are on even days from eight to nine. I'll talk to Human Resources and see if they can find you suiting accommodations. Now be a dear and release my legs." He waves his wand lazily.
"Here you go"
I sit down and start to look for some food while waiting to feel my feet again. "Thank you. There's still a couple of things to discuss of course. I'd like a copy of that ritual you just mentioned for one but that can wait some. It'd be neat if you could get yourself in life threatening situations near me from now on. I don't think I like having life debts lying around, I'm sure you understand. Oh, and I need you to train you little cousin. She's rather good as far as Red Magic goes but books just aren't enough for Black Magic." He looks thoughtful. Wistful even. "You want your friends to know then? That's fine I guess… It'll be nice to talk to sweet little Nimy again… You know, last time we talked she said I was too big and that I wasn't allowed to walk in her room unless I was on my knees? I don't think I ever laughed as hard if you don't count the day we learned that toddler-you was deadly afraid of stags…" I refrain from asking how he can even know that (I mean, it's not like stags are common house pests or anything right?). No sense in calling more embarrassment upon myself. "How about we just tell T and D here? I think that'll be enough for a while."
I take a look at my watch and frown.
"If D is right, old man Dumbles should be making an announcement soon and I'd rather not miss it in case he still wants to do the first task this month. Wake her up and then transform. I'll explain things to her on the way and we'll talk more tonight."