Note: I really appreciate those who are still reviewing. It means a lot.
THE HAND OF FATE
The way back home, 1940
"Not what you expected, eh?" Septimus said softly. His facial expression appeared bored as usual, but Harry knew better. Septimus was amused. Harry could tell because of the slight curve of the right corner of his mouth.
They were huddled in a mostly abandoned concrete shelter, hidden from muggle view by a Notice Me Not Charm. Still they had to be careful of the occasional soldiers coming and going. The easiest way to remain out of the way was to press themselves against the walls. Harry never thought there would be a day he would get dirty with a Malfoy. But here he was…
"Not quite," Harry admitted.
How was he supposed to predict that after the chaos at the World Wizarding Assembly that Septimus would decide to help the Resistance efforts? Which was why they were in the trenches in the first place. There was no better way to get communications from their spies deep in Germany than to get as close as they safely could. The Maginot Line, the strong fortifications the French had placed on the border they shared with the Germans had been completely bypassed by Hitler's decision to violate Belgium neutrality.
"They're late," Septimus stated, glancing out the slit to look at the position of the moon. "Are you certain we have the right location?"
Harry was about to respond verbally when he saw a soldier dressed in a Nazi uniform. Instead he nodded his head almost imperceptiby. This was the agreed meeting place. Granted, Harry could never be absolutely sure about anything. He had thought there might be some discord at the assembly; he never would have guessed there'd be anarchy. His misjudgement had resulted in a scar that Septimus would always have across his left cheek.
Septimus parted his lips to speak and Harry quickly covered his mouth with his hand. Harry gestured to the right where the soldier could be seen barely in Septimus' line of sight. Septimus pressed his lips together and Harry dropped his hand down to his side.
Harry felt the muscles in his body tense as the soldier kept walking in their direction, as if he knew they were there. Harry inched instinctively toward Septimus as he had never really liked being alone in the midst of danger. Even though he had been in this timeline for a few years, he still had the reflexes he had developed during the Second Wizarding War. Sometimes he had flashbacks when something triggered memories he'd rather forget. But it was happening less and less often with time. But this situation, it brought everything back.
The soldier was dressed in a uniform, not robes, yet the way he was heading toward them reminded Harry of how the Death Eaters marched at him and his friends with their wands pointed to attack and kill. As he got closer, Harry was struck by his appearance. He had black hair that was cut short, but clearly had a tendency to curling. He was tall, many inches taller than Harry and of a height, if not taller than Septimus. He had pale skin that as he drew closer contrasted with his gray eyes. Harry knew those eyes. They were the exact same shade as his godfather.
Before Harry could process much else, Septimus pushed himself away from the wall and waved his wand around them, saying, "Finite incantatem!"
"Malfoy," said the man who looked like he could Sirius' twin.
"Black," Septimus said.
They both wore completely blank expressions on their face, but then surprisingly, they embraced closely and in a very French manner, kissed each other on the cheek. Only after that, did Septimus turn around and gesture for Harry to come forward.
"Harry, this is my good friend, Phineas Black. Phineas, this is my assistant, Harry Gaunt."
"I've heard about you," Phineas said. "Good to meet you." He nodded his head in acknowledgement but he made no move for any physical greeting and was only half paying attention to him.
Still Harry was struck by how similiar he looked to Sirius, although standing as close as they were he began to see some differences. Phineas has a slightly rounder face, probably because he wasn't as wasted away as Sirius had been at Azkaban. This couldn't be Phineas Nigellus Black; he looked nothing like the portrait and he was much too young. The former Headmaster would have been much older by now, if he was still alive.
"Harry," Septimus hissed.
Harry blinked. "Sorry," he muttered, realizing he was abjectly staring at Phineas. "You look like…" his voice trailed off. He couldn't say he looked like Sirius! Sirius wasn't even alive yet. What was he going to say? Merlin, he felt like a school boy again. "A student of mine… Alphard Black."
"My great nephew?" Phineas said. "Or is it my great, great nephew?" He shrugged. "I can't keep track, but he's a good lad. He has his screws properly placed. How did you know him?"
It was then that Harry remembered who Phineas was. He had been disowned by the Black family for supporting muggles rights! That totally made sense he'd be here. Harry had thought that Sirius had taken after Alphard and they did look similar, but Sirius most definitely had inherited his good looks from Phineas.
Septimus sighed. "Harry was a professor at Hogwarts. He taught Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Phineas turned his full attention and gaze to Harry. "Now I see why Abraxas wanted you here."
Harry felt himself grow overly warm from Phineas' close scrutiny.
"But I'm surprised you're here," Phineas stated bluntly, shifting his gaze to Septimus. "Your usual methods involve manipulating the politicans from behind the scenes. Shouldn't you be pulling strings at the Ministry of Magic?"
"Being predictable is boring." Septimus twirled his wand in his hand, something Harry knew he did when he was actually bored. "Now tell me, Black, do you have anything interesting to share?"
Phineas lowered his eyes and pulled a wand out of the sleeve of his uniform. It was unlike any wand Harry had ever seen before. It was rougher in structure than Ollivander's, but strangely beautiful as its form was more natural.
"You want to show me your wand?" Septimus said with obvious inflection on the last word.
Phineas gave Septimus a pointed look and then slowly twirled the wand in his hand. "Do you know who the maker of this wand is?"
"Not Ollivander," Septimus stated. "Definitely not."
"Do you know?" Phineas asked, looking toward Harry.
Harry knew of only one other wandmaker and so he said, "Gregorovitch?"
Phineas looked surprised, if the slight widening of his pupils were indicative of that. "Good," he said. "Very good." Then he paused. "Have you heard the rumors surrounding Gregorovitch?"
"The absurdity of him and the Elder wand?"
Harry wanted to open his mouth immediately and say that it wasn't ridiculous at all, but he kept that to himself. He wasn't supposed to know that. He wasn't supposed to be here. But he was, and he didn't want to alter too much more than what he had already.
"Not at all." Phineas paused. "It's true."
Now it was Septimus' turn to look surprise, which was only obvious in the slight marring of his forehead with wrinkles between his brows. "Now Grindelwald has it," Septimus stated with finality. "One of the deathly hallows… and the most powerful wand in existence…"
Septimus turned to Harry and pinned him with his gaze. "You must returns to Hogwarts."
Harry didn't even get the chance to say a word.
"You must tell Dumbledore."
A/N: What do you think of this chapter? Of Septimus? Of Phineas? (I did some digging in the Black family to find Phineas. He was disowned as he supported muggle rights!)
Released on November 7, 2016.