Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to J K Rowling. Also this story is inspired by 'A Shattered Prophecy' by Project Dark Overlord.
Chapter Forty Five
"This…this can't be happening," Sirius whispered. "Alice? That's...that's Alice, right?"
"Yeah," Remus breathed, sounding just as surprised.
James didn't say anything. He couldn't. His shock had rendered him speechless.
"Come inside Alex," Alice said to Harry. "It's freezing out here."
"Can't. Kinda pressed for time," Harry replied. "I need to speak to John if he's around."
"Alex!" a voice shouted from behind James, making him turn around. His breath choked with surprise at the sight of his long time friend, fellow Auror and Order member, Frank Longbottom. "My, my, aren't we blessed?" Frank grinned at Harry as he walked closer. "Three visits in one week."
"I have to make up for the last four months," Harry said as he shook hands with Frank. "And I need to talk to your about something. Mind if we have a quick chat?"
Harry led Frank away from the trailer, heading towards the building Frank had walked out of. Alice bid Harry goodbye and stepped back inside the trailer, closing the door.
A couple of muttered words from Dumbledore and the spell was lifted, so the wizards could see each other again. The expressions on the other three were pretty much like James had imagined; puzzlement, shock and astonishment. Even Dumbledore looked surprised. The four wizards hurried over to the dark spot under a cluster of the trees and cast a silencing charm over themselves so they wouldn't be overheard.
"Okay, what just happened?" James asked.
"Well," Sirius started. "It seems that Frank and Alice aren't actually dead but are very much alive and have now adapted to living like muggles and like to be called John and Fiona."
"Sirius, now is not the time." James warned.
"What is going on?" Remus asked. "Frank and Alice would never leave their son in the middle of a war and hide out as mugg-" He suddenly fell silent as realisation dawned on not just him, but all of them.
"They're answering to John and Fiona," James said slowly. "You don't think they...?"
"Memory Charm," Dumbledore said the words with a whisper. "Of course. It makes sense."
"It does?" Sirius asked.
"Whatever his reasons, Harry didn't complete his assignment for killing the Longbottoms," Dumbledore said. "No mother could leave behind her child in the midst of a war. If Alice is not with Neville, then the only reason for that is because she can't remember him," Dumbledore said. "It is my assumption that Frank and Alice are under powerful memory charms, which is why they think of themselves as John and Fiona. They think they are muggles. They recognise Harry as Alex, whereas Frank and Alice would've recognised Harry as James' son in a heartbeat."
James felt his head spin. "So Harry didn't kill Frank and Alice, but saved them?" he asked. He shook his head. "Why? Why would he do that? Harry has no reason to save them. And he's erased their memories and given them new identities as Little John and Fiona? None of this makes any sense!"
Dumbledore was deep in thought. His gaze moved to rest on the trailer.
"It doesn't make sense to us now," he said, "but once we find out exactly what happened that night, we'll have our answers."
The other three looked over at the trailer too.
"What do we do now?" Remus asked quietly.
"It's obvious," James said. "We get Frank and Alice back to the world they belong." He turned to Dumbledore. "You think you can reverse their memory charms?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes." He turned to face James. "But I'm afraid, I won't be taking away their memory charms, not yet."
James gaped at him. "What do you mean?" he asked. "We can't just leave Frank and Alice here, living like this."
"They've been living like this for the last two years," Dumbledore argued. "They are safe here, but if I bring them back now, I'm putting Harry at a great risk."
James' narrowed eyes widened. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"Harry is still with Voldemort," Dumbledore said. "If we bring Frank and Alice back now, news of their survival will reach Voldemort, no matter how hard we try to hide it. Think what he will do to Harry for his deception? Harry might even be killed." Dumbledore shook his head. "We can't take that chance. Once we have Harry, we can bring Frank and Alice back. Until then, it's safe to leave them where they are." His blue gaze scanned the other three. "No one will mention this to anyone. We can't risk the information leaking out. There are many spies inside the Ministry, we all know that. If the Ministry find out about Frank and Alice, so will Voldemort."
James wanted his friends to come back to their world, back to their son, Neville, but his priority lay with Harry. He couldn't risk Harry's life. Dumbledore was right. There was no telling what Voldemort might do to Harry.
The door banged closed in the distance and James quickly looked around, in time to see Harry walk away. In a matter of seconds, Harry disappeared into the night, disapparating with a gentle 'pop'.
"Damn it!" James cursed, his heart breaking at losing his son once more.
"We'll have our chance again," Dumbledore said. "After all, we know he comes here to meet with Frank."
James turned to look at the building. "Let's find out when he's planning on visiting again," he said. "Come on."
The four of them moved towards the building. Before they entered, Dumbledore pointed his wand at James and changed his appearance. He gave him blonde curly hair and changed the shape of his nose and colour of his eyes.
"So Frank doesn't link your appearance with 'Alex' and get suspicious," he explained, before changing his own appearance, shrinking his beard and changing the colour to auburn.
James braced himself. Frank Longbottom was one of his good friends. His 'death' had left James broken. Now that he was about to see him again, speak to him again, it made James inexplicably nervous as well as excited. He took in a breath and pushed open the door.
As soon as they entered the club, the four wizards saw Frank instructing a group of men to carry various items of furniture across the room. Seeing a friend he thought he had lost, caused a whole multitude of emotions to rush at James, engulfing him.
Frank turned, noticing the four men at the door. "Sorry folks." He waved both hands at them shaking his head as he approached them. "The club doesn't open for another two days. You're welcome to come back then."
James found his voice choked with emotions. He stood by as Remus answered.
"Sorry," he said, keeping his voice remarkably strong. "We weren't sure if you were open or not." He glanced around. "Nice place by the way. It must have cost you a fortune."
Frank laughed, the sound familiar and comforting to the four wizards who stood still, just staring at their old friend.
"This place?" Frank asked. "I'm just renting it for a while. I like to move around. Go to different places. London is so big, you should see all of it." He shrugged. "That's how the previous boss used to do things. I got used to doing it the same way."
"Previous boss? You mean you've taken over from someone?" Sirius asked.
"Yeah," Frank replied. "All of this belonged to John Allen; a good man, kind. Treated me like a son. He was getting too old to move all this stuff around for his club, so I used to do it for him. He left me everything when he died. Didn't have a family of his own."
Understanding dawned on the four.
"Little John," James murmured. "People assumed you were his son?"
Frank shrugged. "Had the same name you see. I let people think what they want. It doesn't bother me."
James had to hold back his smile. That was Frank; comfortable in his own skin, no matter what the world said or thought.
"If you don't mind, folks, I've got a whole place to set up and not enough time to do it." He gestured to the door with a smile. "You're welcome back, Friday night. Don't miss it. It's going to be a heck of a show!" He winked.
"Will Alex be taking part?" James asked. He couldn't help it. He needed to know when he could see Harry again.
Frank's smile melted. "Whose asking?" he demanded, all warmth leaving him at once. "How do you know Alex?"
"We don't know him personally," Dumbledore intervened quickly. "But we've heard a great deal about him from friends. We heard that he comes to your club. We were just wondering if he was taking part in your opening night?"
Frank's expression softened a little. "Alex isn't taking part," he replied, rather stiffly, crossing his arms across his broad chest. "He's busy with other things, so won't be coming here for awhile."
"Any idea when he'll be back?" James asked, unable to keep the desperation out of his voice.
Frank's narrowed gaze caught onto James, refusing to let go.
"What you got on Alex?" he asked. "What do you want from him?"
"Nothing," James replied. "We just wanted to see him in action."
Frank looked James up and down before locking eyes with him.
"That better be all," he warned. "Alex may be young but he can beat guys three times his size. Trust me, I've seen it." He straightened up to stand tall. "You'd be wise to stay out of his way."
"We were curious to see him fight," Remus said. "That's all."
Frank nodded tightly. "When Alex comes to fight, you'll hear about it." A smile forced it's way across his face, his eyes brightening. "That boy is a tornado. Kinda hard to miss him."
James smiled, despite himself. Harry was a tornado alright. Whoever he met, whichever path he crossed, he made sure no one forgot him in a hurry.
The search for Alex had come to a standstill for the time being. Frank had openly admitted Harry wouldn't be back for a while, so there was no reason for James and the rest to wander around the streets of the muggle world. Dumbledore assured a worried James that he would be keeping at eye on Frank and his fight club. If Little John decided to move locations, Dumbledore would know about it.
But the passing weeks brought a great distraction to Dumbledore, for it came the time for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to close. Letters had been sent to parents. Trunks had been packed. Everyone was gathered in the Great Hall, for their last meal under the bewitched ceiling. Everyone that is, but the Headmaster himself.
James had come with a team of Aurors to accompany the students back to Kings Cross. As the rest quietly finished their breakfast, James made his way out of the Great Hall and to the Headmaster's office. He knocked on the door before entering, to see the white haired wizard sitting at his desk, his head lowered over his clasped hands. If James didn't know better, he would have thought Dumbledore was praying.
"Dumbledore?" he called, walking in. "Are you alright?"
Slowly, Dumbledore looked up, his face shadowed with sorrow. James felt a surge of guilt rise inside. It was after all, his son that was responsible for the school's closure.
"I'm sorry," James found himself saying. "I know this must be hard. Hogwarts has always meant so much to you, to all of us."
Dumbledore shook his head before leaning back in his seat, a tired sigh leaving him as his hands dropped into his lap.
"I'm not upset about Hogwarts closing," he said. "It's the right thing to do, in light of recent events. I could not even dream of putting my students at risk."
"So why are you upset?" James asked.
Dumbledore looked down at his desk and James followed his gaze. Their were stacks of letters piled there, some open, some still sealed.
"Don't take them to heart," James said, surprised that the strong and proud Albus Dumbledore was broken by a few angry letters. "What do you expect from worried parents?"
Ever since the true identity of the Dark Prince came to light in the public eye, Dumbledore had been receiving mounds of letters daily from parents, demanding an explanation from the Headmaster. All wanted to know why Dumbledore had allowed a killer to roam freely in his school, amongst innocent children.
Dumbledore picked up the parchment lying on top of the pile and held it out to James. "This one isn't from a parent," he said. "Sit down before you read it," he suggested.
James came forward and took the letter, lowering himself into the seat opposite Dumbledore. His eyes widened and mouth dropped open in surprise when he saw the letter. Dumbledore had been right. This one wasn't from a distressed parent. It was from a Death Eater.
Dear Albus Dumbledore,
You know me as Jason Riley. I am one of Lord Voldemort's inner circle Death Eaters. I understand if you do not wish to continue reading but I request that you do, since what I am about to tell you is invaluable.
You may wonder why I have written to you. I'm afraid I have no other option left. If you receive this letter then it is safe to assume that I am no longer alive. This letter has been dated to reach you should I not make the holding payment for more than six months.
Through my years of service, I have inadvertently stumbled upon the secret most dearly held by Lord Voldemort. The Dark Lord's wish to win the war and rule the wizarding world is only secondary to his true desire: to be immortal. I'm afraid that this wish has already been granted. The Dark Lord as created Horcruxes.
To my knowledge, he has created seven. One Horcrux is within himself, the other six are inside inanimate objects. As long as these Horcruxes remain, Lord Voldemort cannot be killed.
I know the identity of two of these Horcruxes. I have enclosed my findings and some thoughts on what the other items might be.
You may wonder why I have passed this information to you, since in this war I am on the opposing side. Consider this my last chance to get revenge on the one who will most likely cause my death. You are the only one who can stand against the Dark Lord.
I hope you will be able to destroy him.
James looked up from the letter. "Horcruxes," he breathed in horror. "Seven of them?"
Dumbledore nodded, a grave look on his face. "I had always feared Voldemort would do something like this," he said. "But I never imagined he would repeat the terrible act of creating a Horcrux seven times."
James ran a hand through his hair, fear pounding at his insides. "We have to find the Horcruxes," he said. "It's the only way we can destroy him."
"We have two confirmed," Dumbledore pushed a journal towards James. "As for the other four? They can be anything."
James reached for the journal and opened it quickly. He found pages upon pages of notes, scribblings by Riley, on what the possible Horcruxes could be. He flicked to the page that had sketches of what Riley considered to be definite Horcruxes.
One was a simple black book. It had nothing special about it. There were thousands of plain black books in the world. With nothing to distinguish it, the Order was going to have to burn every black book in the wizarding world, for a chance to destroy this Horcrux.
The other drawing was of a silver pendant in the shape of a serpent, that had two heads on either side of its intertwined body. The eyes of the serpent were a shimmering green. James stared at the drawing of this strange pendant, feeling his heart quicken. He had the uneasy feeling that he had seen it before.
"Even if we know what the Horcruxes are," Dumbledore said, "it doesn't mean we can find them and destroy them. Horcruxes are amongst the most powerful of dark magic. The energy needed to destroy one is far past most capabilities, and here we have seven-"
There was a knock on the door, interrupting Dumbledore. James turned in his seat to see Damien walk in.
"Sorry Professor," Damien apologised, "but everyone's looking for my dad."
"How did you know I was here?" James asked.
Damien didn't say anything, shooting a look at the Headmaster. Understanding dawned on James.
"Remind me to confiscate that map as soon as we get to the Headquarters," James said.
Damien gave a weak shrug. "You can take it if you want," he said. "It's not like I'll need it anymore."
James felt his heart miss a beat. The map he and his friends had made to explore Hogwarts was going to be of no use now. What was the point of the map when there would be no more Hogwarts to explore?
"I'll be right down," James said. Turning to Dumbledore he said quietly, "I trust we will discuss this at a meeting tonight?" he asked, lifting Riley's letter.
Dumbledore nodded. "The Order will be informed this evening."
James dropped the letter onto the desk and got up. He gave the journal with the sketch of the serpent pendant another look, before turning away. Damien had taken a few steps closer to the desk, when his gaze caught the open journal.
"That's a drawing of Harry's necklace," he said with surprise. "What're you looking at that for?"
James paused, eyes widening. Behind him, Dumbledore straightened up.
"What'd you say, Damy?" James asked.
Damien came closer, peering at the journal. "That drawing," he said. "It's of the necklace Harry wears."
Dumbledore was out of his seat and around the desk in a heartbeat.
"Mr Potter," he addressed. "Are you certain you saw this pendant around Harry's neck?" he asked, pointing to the sketch.
Damien nodded. "Yeah."
"Are you sure?" James asked.
Damien's eyes narrowed. "It's a unique looking pendant," he said, with a little annoyance. "I'm not going to confuse it."
James turned to face Dumbledore in shock. He couldn't believe Harry had been wearing a Horcrux the entire time he had been at Hogwarts. Harry had a piece of Voldemort's soul with him, and he was right underneath Dumbledore and the Ministry's nose and no one had managed to find out. James had to applaud Harry's nerve.
A small smile came to Dumbledore's face.
"I guess we have another incentive to find Harry," he said.
James didn't smile. In fact, his heart dropped like a stone. The last thing Harry needed was another reason to be hunted down by the Ministry and the Order.
"You're not serious?" Draco asked, grey eyes wide. The game of chess lay forgotten between him and Harry. "You're not listening to Potter junior!"
"I made him a promise," Harry said. "I told him I would look for him."
"Look for who?" Draco asked, annoyed. "There is no Peter Pettigrew, you know that."
Harry fell silent. He did know that, he believed it with the very depth of his soul, that there never was a Death Eater named Peter Pettigrew. But as much as he fought it, denied it, willed himself not to think about it; he couldn't banish the memory of Lily Potter, sitting in her staff quarters, broken and sobbing over him. He remembered her words, her hate towards this Peter Pettigrew and it confused him.
"Harry?" Draco's call broke Harry out of his thoughts.
"I promised Damien I would look for Peter," Harry said. "When I don't find him, Damien will have to admit his parents are liars." 'But damn good actors' He added mentally, remembering Lily's anguished cries as she sobbed Harry's name.
Draco frowned at him, looking not at all happy. "Fine. So why don't you just ask the Dark Lord?"
Harry paused, brushing a hand through his hair. "I don't want father to get involved. Ever since the Hogwarts Express attack, he's been a bit...funny with me."
Draco grunted. "What'd you expect when you go around killing his men to save brats like Potter?"
Harry gave him a look but didn't say anything.
"So," Draco started, staring at Harry. "What are going to do?"
A knock sounded on his door.
"Whatever I have to," Harry whispered to Draco before waving a hand, opening his door.
As Harry expected, Lucius walked in with the smug smile he always wore when Draco was seen in Harry's company. He held a bag in his hand.
"You boys almost done?" he asked, nodding at the chess board settled between them.
Harry smiled at him. "You kidding? Our game's never finished."
Draco smirked as he turned back to his father. "That's because Harry never admits defeat, even when I've clearly won."
Lucius chuckled. "He wouldn't be the Dark Prince if he admitted defeat." He reached into his bag and pulled out a glass bottle. "A gift for you, Prince."
Harry got up, taking the bottle of Firewhiskey, a special brew Lucius brought back with him every time he travelled up north.
"So the initiation went well?" Harry asked, as he walked over to the table in the corner. He reached into the shelf behind it to pull out three glasses.
"Very well," Lucius replied, walking over to join him. Draco followed after him. "Master was particularly impressed by the new recruits."
"Yeah, I can tell," Harry said, scratching at his scar. He poured the amber liquid into three small glasses, before picking one up. "I didn't think I could take much more of his enthusiasm." He sipped at his drink.
Lucius picked up the remaining two glasses, passing one to his son. His eyes never left Harry though. "Have you had anymore nosebleeds?" he asked with concern.
Harry shook his head. "Not since father started throwing back those calming draughts." He smirked even as he reached up to rub at his prickling scar. "But even with the effects of the draught in place, it still gets a little...tough sometimes."
Lucius looked worried. "I trust you have brought this to Master's attention?"
Harry waved a hand at him. "It's fine. There's no need to go running to father with this," he warned. "He'll insist I remove the pendant." His hand went to the silver chain around his neck.
Lucius didn't look happy. "If you're distressed-"
"I'm not distressed," Harry cut across him. "It's nothing I can't deal with." He raised his glass to take another gulp. "Besides, I've got new recruits to terrorise should I need a distraction."
Lucius' worried expression melted and he smiled, shaking his head at Harry.
"You do realise Death Eaters aren't here for your amusement?" he asked.
"That's all their good for," Harry teased. "Even at that, they're barely interesting enough to hold my attention for long."
"Come now Prince," Lucius said. "The Dark Lord chooses a select few to join him. The Death Eaters must have something remarkable about them."
"When it comes to recruiting Death Eaters, there isn't much father looks for," Harry said with a smirk. His eyes remained on Lucius. "All he wants, is for them to be of a certain pettigrew."
Lucius stilled, the drink in his hand forgotten. The colour drained from his face. Grey eyes clouded as he stared at Harry.
"What did you say?" he asked, his voice no louder than a whisper.
Harry pretended not to notice his reaction.
"I said, all father wants is for his Death Eaters to be of a certain pedigree," he said. "You know, purebloods?"
Lucius looked relieved. He forced a laugh, shaking his head.
"Yes, of course," he said. "Couldn't have it any other way." He lifted his glass to drain it.
Harry lifted his glass but didn't drink another drop. His gaze darted to Draco, who seemed paler than usual, his grey eyes fixed on his father. Harry fought to hold back his rising panic. Lucius shouldn't have reacted to Pettigrew's name, but he did. He shouldn't have batted an eye at the purposeful slip, but he did. What this meant, Harry wasn't sure, but the tiny beads of sweat on Lucius brow made Harry's heart skip several beats.
Later than night, Draco appeared in Harry's room via the floo. The moment he walked out, Harry rushed towards him.
"Father's here," Draco said, looking worried. "He's gone to speak to the Dark Lord."
Harry grimaced. "How many guesses what it's about?"
Draco shook his head, walking past Harry. "So there's a Pettigrew," he said, turning to look at Harry. "That doesn't mean the Potters were telling the truth."
"Of course not," Harry replied at once, a harsh bite to his words. "I remember what happened. They can spin as many lies as they want, I'm not falling for it." He paused to take in a breath, trying to calm down. "The Potters must have known there's a Death Eater named Pettigrew. That's why they used that name." He ran a hand through his hair. "I've been trying to figure this out and the only thing that makes sense is that this Pettigrew guy must have wronged father somehow. Maybe he turned rogue or something which is why the Ministry and Order know of him. Maybe that's why Lucius looked so surprised."
"Because he wouldn't expect you to know of a Death Eater that's no longer working for Master," Draco said, sounding relieved. "It makes sense."
Harry rubbed a hand at his neck. "But that doesn't explain Lucius rushing back here to speak with father."
"I know," Draco agreed. "Which is why I brought these." He reached into his pocket and pulled out two flesh coloured strings.
"What are they?" Harry asked, stepping closer.
"They were in that joke box you gave me," Draco said. "Since you bought the whole supply from that Gryffindork, these came with it." He held up the extendible ears. "We ought to have a listen."
Harry met Draco's eyes and nodded.
"Yeah," he said. "Let's have a listen."
Harry and Draco made their way through one of the many secret passageways in Riddle manor. This one brought them behind the wall in Voldemort's chamber. It was a hiding spot they had used countless times in the years gone by, spying on Voldemort's meetings when their childhood curiosity had got the better of them. Today though, Harry didn't slide the door to open partly. He simply added his own secrecy spells to the extendible ears, not trusting the Weasley twins to do a proper job, and slipped the two strings under the gap of the hidden door. Both boys put the other ends of the strings into their ears and at once heard the urgent conversation happening on the other side of the wall.
"You're overreacting," Bella was heard saying. "There's no way Harry knows."
"Of course he doesn't!" Lucius snapped. "If Harry knew the truth about Pettigrew, do you think he would stand around calmly dropping hints? He would be out for our blood!"
Harry's heart leapt in his chest. What did Lucius mean by that? What truth was it that had been kept from him? And more importantly, why would Lucius fear his wrath?
"So what are you saying then?" Bella asked, sounding equally annoyed. "Harry doesn't know the truth but he's suspicious?"
"Yes," Lucius said. "It's not beyond the realm of possibility," he said. "He's been with the Potters for four months! Maybe they've raised doubts in his mind."
"Rubbish!" Bella hissed. "Harry's loyalty isn't compromised."
"Not yet," Lucius said, "but if he finds out the truth-"
"Enough!" Voldemort's command quietened the room and Harry felt his scar throb painfully. A few moments passed in silence, before Voldemort spoke in a cold cruel voice. "It seems there's more benefit in ending that rat than keeping him alive."
It was too dark for either of the boys to see much, but Harry felt Draco shiver.
"Lucius, you will leave first thing tomorrow morning."
"Yes, my lord," came Lucius' dutiful reply.
"Bella," Voldemort's voice cooled considerably. "Arrange a meeting with my son for tomorrow morning, before breakfast. It's time I saw for myself what exactly he's been up to in Hogwarts."
"Yes, my lord," Bella replied.
Harry and Draco pulled away from the door, slipped the extendable ears out and hurried out of the narrow passageway. They didn't speak, not until they reached Harry room again. The moment they entered, Harry ran to his bookshelf, searching for something.
"This is bad," Draco paced the room, blond hair falling out of place. "If the Dark Lord sees what you did with that Lahyoo Jisteen..." he trailed off, squeezing his eyes shut and running both hands down his face. "Fuck, he's going to see I helped you!" he said. "I'm so dead. You're so dead. Merlin, it's over." He stopped to see Harry frantically searching the shelves. "What are you doing?" he hissed angrily. "What the hell you looking for?"
Harry pulled back, holding something small in his hands. "This," he breathed. He turned quickly to come to Draco's side. "Slip this into your father's wand holder," Harry instructed, handing a tiny round glass sphere to Draco. "It fits the eye piece of the serpent."
Draco stared up from it to Harry. "What is it?"
"Father gave it to me," Harry explained. "Among other things, it's a brilliant tracker."
Draco's eyes widened. "Harry," he protested. "You're worrying about the wrong thing. The Dark Lord is going to go through your Hogwarts memories. He's going to see you sneak back in and give Potter that stone."
"I'll deal with that later," Harry said, sounding braver than he felt. "I need to see who this Pettigrew is, before it's too late."
"It's already too late!" Draco cried. "Didn't you hear your father's command to have him killed?"
"I did," Harry said. His eyes sharpened with determination. "But before Pettigrew dies, he's telling me exactly what truth he's hiding."
The next morning, Harry rose out of bed with great dread. He knew Bella would be coming to his door any moment now, informing him that his father was waiting downstairs. Harry had no idea how he was going to keep his secrets, with his father invading his memories. A coil of anger uncurled inside Harry, making his fists clench into balls. He hated it when his father cast Legimens on him. He hated it so much, his father had stopped doing it, making Harry vow to tell him everything instead.
Harry quickly washed up and got dressed. A wave of his wand and he saw the tracker was in Malfoy manor. That meant either Lucius hadn't left yet or Draco had failed to slip the tracker into Lucius' snake headed cane. He hoped it wasn't the latter.
Harry waited anxiously for a few minutes, watching the stationary dot of the tracker hover in the air while waiting for Bella to arrive. Finally, he had enough. He pocketed his wand and made his way through Riddle manor, arriving at the dining table. He was surprised to find Bella waiting for him. Usually, his mealtimes were spent with his father, Voldemort.
"Morning, Harry," Bella greeted. "You're late in coming down today?"
Harry walked over to the table and took his usual seat. "I slept in," he lied. "Where's father?"
"He was called away, shortly before daybreak," Bella replied. "I think the werewolves have finally agreed to the Lord's terms."
Relief poured into Harry. His father wasn't here, so he wouldn't be questioned yet. Hopefully, when his father returned he would be in a good enough mood to forget interrogating Harry, just so long enough for Harry to come up with a plan.
"Eat up, Harry," Bella said, prompting Harry. She gave him a worried look. "You have a big day ahead."
The moment breakfast was over, Harry hurried back to his room. This time, when he checked the tracker, he found it moving out of Malfoy manor. Praising Draco under his breath, Harry watched as the tracker pointed to a different location. The co-ordinates were unfamiliar to Harry. Memorising them, Harry quickly left his room, bolting out the front door. He ran to the apparating point, ignoring the Death Eaters that stopped to bow to him. Harry disapparated, appearing in the middle of a dense forest.
Harry searched for any signs of Lucius. Past the trees, in the distance, he spotted Lucius making his way deeper into the woods. Harry followed after him, keeping as quiet as he could. He tailed Lucius to the mouth of a cave, where he saw Lucius stop and raise his wand. A muttered spell and a strange red light enveloped the cave, before disappearing. Harry realised the cave was protected, guarded so no one could leave or enter it. Lucius had obviously removed the spell so he could go in.
Lucius stepped into the cave and Harry followed after him. Lucius' Lumos spell was the only light in the cold dark cave. Harry kept an eye on it, following it deeper into the darkness. That's when the stench of rotting flesh hit Harry, hard. It was the sheer force of his will that he didn't throw up. He struggled forward, covering his nose in the crook of his arm.
Suddenly the light extinguished and Harry found himself thrown into complete darkness. Harry came to a stop, ears strained to catch any sound. He heard the hiss of Lucius' voice as he cast another spell. The sound of rock scraping against the walls of the cave echoed around them. Harry realised Lucius was levitating a huge rock away from the mouth of yet another entrance.
Lucius cast a second Lumos before heading further into the cave. Harry followed after him, stepping through a narrow curved entrance. The sight that met Harry's eyes nearly made him cry out. The small cramped space was littered with what looked and smelled like animal faeces. The stench was so overpowering, Harry felt his eyes water. He stifled his chokes at the awful smell. He felt like he couldn't breathe.
Lucius, holding a handkerchief to his nose, stopped before a pile of rags, lying in one corner of the cell. As the light from his wand drew nearer, Harry realised the pile of rags was actually a person. The small body shied away from the light, curling into a tight ball, whimpers leaving it's ragged form.
"The day's finally come, Pettigrew," Lucius spoke quietly, but his voice rang in the small space. "Your prayers have finally been answered. Your pathetic life has now come to an end." Lucius raised his wand to point at the top of the rags, presumably at the man's head. "Avad-"
"Stupefy!" Harry's spell caught the unaware Lucius, knocking him out cold.
Harry lit his own wand and stepped closer. He had to know what Pettigrew had done, what sins had he committed to be locked up like this for only Merlin knew how long? He paused next to Lucius' prone body, feeling a little guilty. He would wake Lucius up before he left, leaving him to fulfil his orders. Harry didn't want Lucius punished for not completing a direct command.
As Harry came closer to Pettigrew, he realised the man was whispering to himself. Harry wasn't sure if the tortured man even knew Lucius was here, or if he understood how close he came to dying. As the light of Harry's wand washed over him, Pettigrew moaned, as if in pain. Harry saw the man was filthy, almost bald; large clumps of hair were missing from his head and his skin looked like it had not seen daylight or been near water for years. He looked very frail and his whispered words sounded hoarse as if he had not used his voice in a long time.
Harry cast an illuminating spell, so that he wasn't pointing light directly at the trembling man. As soon as the cell was lit up, Pettigrew gave a petrified whimper and tried to shield his eyes. Pity swelled in Harry's heart. At the same time though, Harry knew the Death Eater must have done something truly awful to get such a punishment from his father. Lord Voldemort wasn't one to forgive or forget and his punishments were usually very harsh, but Harry had never seen something like this before.
"Pettigrew," Harry said, fighting the stench to speak. "Is that you?"
Gingerly, the man lifted his sallow face and looked at Harry. Sunken eyes suddenly widened and Pettigrew let out a choked sound of surprise.
"J-J-James?" he asked. "James...is that…that you?"
Harry didn't say anything. Pettigrew dragged his weakened body towards him.
"James! James it's you!" he cried with weak jubilation. "I k-knew you would come. I knew...it." His face crumpled with grief. His mouth opened to reveal missing teeth. "I'm s-sorry. I'm so, so s-sorry," he sobbed. "I…I…I d-didn't want to do it. I didn't want to b-betray you, but the…the Dark L-Lord. He wouldn't leave me alone. He…he said that he was going to kill you and Lily. He wanted H-Harry. He said I-I had a c-choice. I could hand Harry to him and...and he would...would spare you." He dragged himself to sit up but couldn't manage it. He fell back to the ground. "I'm...I'm not like you, like Sirius. I'm not s-strong like Remus. I..I couldn't stand against him. The Dark Lord said he would…would give me power. He said he would make me...me stronger. I'm sorry James. I...I took Harry, I took him to Lord Voldemort."
Harry stood still, in complete silence, listening to Pettigrew. His heart was thumping so hard, his chest was beginning to hurt. Only one thought was spinning endlessly in his mind; it's not true. It couldn't be true.
Harry stared at the small, frail, weakened man. He was insane. He had been locked up in this place for so long, he had obviously lost his mind. For one thing he thought he was talking to James. Harry realised that he had made a mistake in coming here. Potter probably knew about Pettigrew's insanity and had sent Harry after him just to confuse him. That was it. The only explanation. Harry turned to walk away. He would wake Lucius and let him take care of this deranged, filthy man.
"He said he would kill Harry, kill the prophesied one."
Harry stopped in his tracks and looked around at Pettigrew. "What did you say?" he asked.
"The Dark Lord," Pettigrew went on, ignorant of Harry. "He...he said that...that Harry was the chosen one, the one prophesied to kill him. He...he said that once...once Harry died, he would be invincible. I thought that Harry would be killed. I knew it was wrong but I..I took him. I figured he was a kid, fifteen months old. It can't hurt him. It...it would be over quickly. I...I thought the Dark Lord would kill Harry, but...but he changed his mind. James…James he didn't kill Harry. He didn't kill him. He's...he's done something worse...much...much worse. James, please...please...forgive me!"
Pettigrew's sobs began breaking his words.
Harry felt like his blood was running cold. From the depth of his mind, Dumbledore's words echoed in his ears.
"Before you were born, there was a prophecy made about the one who could defeat Lord Voldemort...your scar is not just a curse scar, it's your mark, given to you by Voldemort, marking you as his equal...did you never wonder why you were taken from your parents? This is why. It's because of the Prophecy; because it's about you and Voldemort."
"No!" Harry snapped, forcing the memory of Dumbledore's warning away. "No, this...this is bullshit! The Prophecy has nothing to do with me! You're lying! It's all lies!"
Pettigrew jerked a little, his gaunt face turned up to Harry and his eyes widened.
"Lies," he repeated. "Lies...yes that's what he tells him. Lies. He's hurt Harry, hurt him…hurt him so much, but then...then he makes Harry think it was you who hurt him." Pettigrew shook his head weakly. "But...but don't you worry James, don't you worry. I told Harry everything. Harry knows the truth now. I decided to make right what I had done wrong. I told Harry everything after I saw him kill that man, the...the Death Eater. Lord Voldemort made Harry watch the torture and then...then told Harry to kill him." His face fell with grief and sorrow. "It was Harry's first kill. He was afraid, but...but he killed him. Harry killed him. I saw it. I was a rat. I saw it. I saw everything."
"What are you talking about?" Harry shouted. "A rat? What...what do you mean you told me? I've never met you before."
But Pettigrew continued talking as if Harry had never interrupted.
"I sneaked in to see Harry. The Dark Lord...he...he never lets me see him. He forbid me to never try to see or speak to Harry, but I disobeyed him. I never wanted Harry to become a...a killer, never. I told Harry everything. He didn't believe me at first but then...then I showed him the true memories. Harry…Harry started crying. He didn't want to be with Lord Voldemort anymore. He wanted to come home. I was going to bring him home but…but…I…"
Something shifted in his eyes as he stared up at Harry. For a moment it looked like the veil of insanity lifted and Peter Pettigrew was seeing Harry standing in front of him, not James. Without warning the small man lunged forward and grabbed onto Harry's hand. A sudden rush flooded Harry's mind, throwing him into a whirlpool of memories.
Harry saw himself as a small baby, sitting in Sirius's lap, pulling at his hair. Sirius didn't look like he minded. He was laughing and making faces at Harry. A heartbeat later, Harry found the smiling faces of James and Lily looking down at a small Harry as he lay asleep in his cot. A flash and Lily was giggling while planting small kisses on baby Harry's face and forehead. Then, James was running after a one year old Harry as he zoomed around the living room on a toy broomstick. Then came a memory of baby Harry wrapped up in a blanket and in the arms of Pettigrew. Harry could hardly recognise him. Pettigrew had a head full of sandy coloured hair and was quite plump. He held Harry close as he sped downstairs and went outside the front door. A flash later, Harry found himself staring at Lord Voldemort, who was standing in front of Bella cradling a small bundle in her arms. 'Avada Kedavra'. The words left Voldemort's mouth and Harry saw the jet of green light speed towards the bundle in Bella's arms. Suddenly the green light from the killing curse missed and hit the ground, making the surrounding area turn green before fading. Lord Voldemort approached the surprised looking Bella and roughly pulled the baby out of the blankets. Harry saw his one year old self tremble in the cold air and begin to cry.
"My Lord?" Bella asked.
"I have changed my mind," Voldemort replied. "He will live. He will be brought up to obey my every command. The child destined to kill me will kill on my command. The wizarding world's saviour will be the one who will destroy them." He smiled a cold, cruel smile. "He will be the key to my immortality."
Harry watched as other flashes of memories zoomed in front of him but they were too fast to make out. One memory slowed down and Harry saw his own self, not much older than ten, running down the steps of Riddle manor with Pettigrew. A flash later, Pettigrew was on the ground, twitching and screaming in pain while Harry was being restrained by Lucius. Voldemort walked over to Harry's struggling form and ran his finger gently down Harry's cheek, almost lovingly.
"Don't worry son, you won't remember any of this. Everything will go back to the way it was."
The ten year old Harry jerked his head away from Voldemort's touch and glared at him through tear filled eyes.
"You can wipe my memories away today, but you'll get caught," Harry said. "I will learn your truth again one day and when I do, you'll never be able to stop me from leaving you!"
The Dark Lord smiled. "Rest assured Harry, if that day ever comes," he pointed his wand at Harry. "I'll kill you myself." He smirked before whispering, "Obliviate!"
Such was Harry's shock, he yanked himself away from Pettigrew's memories and fell to the ground. Harry sat there on the filthy floor, breathing heavily as he tried to come to terms with what he had seen.
"No," he breathed. "It...it can't be. These...these memories...they can't be real." Harry moved forward, grabbing Pettigrew by the rags he wore. The man fell listless in his grasp, eyes half open. "No," Harry hissed. "No, no, no! Pettigrew!" He shook the body roughly but the man was dead.
Harry let go, letting the lifeless body slump to the ground. Pettigrew had died but left Harry with a rush of memories. But were they real or were they the delusions of a man left to go slowly mad?
Harry rose to his feet, staring down at the body. He had come for answers but instead, he was left with more questions, ones that if answered would threaten to undo his whole world. Harry turned and raced out of the cell, he didn't even stop to revive Lucius.