~Chapter Sixteen~

He felt numb. Staring into the Gryffindor common room fire, Chris couldn't believe what was happening. It had yet to truly hit him and he was hoping it never did. He rather doubted he could handle the entire notion and complication that was his life. As it was, these facts continued to sweep past his conscious making it harder to concentrate on the fire flickering before him. If he could concentrate on the red and golden flames than maybe he could convince himself, maybe he could forget…

Ariel was his brother.

Yep, there it was. Chris sighed, his head falling into his hands. The very person he had been lusting over was his twin, his brother. Every single moment they had shared had been incestuous and he'd never figured it out. Never had he felt the connection that had once belonged to only them. His skin crawled thinking about it but his body and mind still lusted for the other teen. The very notion of this terrified him like nothing else.

Chris figured their bond had been warped by their separation at such a young age. He'd read, when he'd become curious, that twins had a special bond and simply watching Fred and George was enough to make that statement accurate. Yet that explanation didn't help much for anything else his twin had suffered through because of their separation. Chris might have had a twisted bond but Harry's very magic was warped into something completely unrecognizable.

His brother had been through so much and Chris had known nothing about it. He'd lived a life of luxury obtaining anything that he desired by merely asking. On the other hand, Harry had never had anything to his name. He'd held nothing but the threadbare clothes upon him. He'd cried out for help to anyone he could ensnare yet none had been able to help him. Harry had even called out to him in his dreams for help but all Chris could do… all he could do…

Chris shivered. How could he not have seen the similarities between them? Certainly they weren't identical by any stretch of the imagination but they were still twins. He should have felt… noticed something about Ariel that drew in his attention. There had to have been something that sparked recognition.

Thinking on it now, Harry did have the same coloured hair, their father's hair. Though Chris kept his short so it would curl in every direction, he was betting that Harry kept it long to avoid such a problem. His eyes were green a similar shade to their mother's only brighter though Chris had his father's eyes. Then there was their height. They were similar yet Harry was a little shorter and slimmer but that might have been due to the abuse rather than anything biological.

Cursing, he leant back against the couch running a hand through his hair the motion picked up from his father. How could he have missed something like that?

His parents weren't taking it well either. Though they had given the child away to begin with they weren't taking anything well. Chris could still hear his mother's screams of denial and his father screaming in general at Snape. The entire room had been up in arms with what had been unveiled.

The room had exploded with voices, each a different accusation for the couple. James, Lily and Dumbledore had been the centre of attention with Snape answering as many questions as he was permitted given his spy status. The answers weren't pleasant to hear in any state of mind. They were told of the Unspeakables and their terrible plots to make Harry into something of a weapon because of his connection to the Dark Lord. Snape couldn't go into detail as much as they desired to know, not because he wasn't permitted but because he didn't know the details.

Nothing had been right afterwards, the entire room had fallen silent in contemplation. Chris had simply walked out not thinking about anything other than the shocking news. He'd abandoned his parents to the deluge of hate and hadn't cared. Even now that he had removed himself from the situation he couldn't bring himself to care. All he wanted was Ariel. He wanted Harry by his side as it was meant to be.

Together they would take care of the Dark Lord and all of his Death Eaters. He would have no need for his dead friends or his failure of a family. He wouldn't need Snape to spy any longer on the Dark Lord's following. But most of all he wouldn't need Dumbledore ruling his life. All he needed… all he wanted…

Chris curled up into a ball, tears streaming down his face. All he wanted to do was sleep and never wake. This was a disaster.

x-x-x-x-x

James sighed. Eventually he and Lily had managed to escape the accusations of their fellow Order members. However the damage was already done. There was nothing from stopping them informing the press about what had happened to the youngest Potter. Certainly he didn't plan to stop them.

What they had done to their sons was inexcusable however during the height of the last war they hadn't been thinking all that clearly. Everyone wanted something different and he couldn't have interpreted anything. After the attack on their children Dumbledore had come around and spouted nonsense about dark auras and needing to be separated. The new parents had easily bought into it fearing for their lives.

However James had always believed the decision had been wrong. Not that it helped at all. Harry had disappeared and by then everyone knew they had given their son away. It hadn't been handled at all like they had planned and in the end Dumbledore still came away with a clean record… except for this time.

Dumbledore was in as deep as they were now and there was nothing to be done about it. James at least could see where they went wrong and admitted so to the group before leaving. Lily and Dumbledore were adamant they had done the right thing. Lily raged on and on about how that dark child was ruining their lives. James couldn't see it. All he saw was the child they'd abandoned finally gaining freedom and paying back what had happened to him.

He'd remembered what Ariel had shown him in the Department of Mysteries. Standing in the middle of their lounge room at Godric's Hollow everything around him had melted. The walls collapsed in and covered the furniture. Every single photo they kept on the mantelpiece faded into nothing. Yet one photo had stood out amongst the rest. It was the only photo they still held that revealed they had two sons.

They'd been only a few months old in the photo both lying side by side eyes wide open and staring at the camera. James and Lily had been cooing at them to keep their attention whilst the photo had been taken. It was the only memory of Harry that he had everything else had faded with time.

He had failed Harry and Chris. Nothing could ever be the same again but he was willing to make it work. When they managed to get Harry back then they could attempt to be a family once again. Then they could finally be whole again. Until then everything would simply continue to spiral out of control.

James sighed as a knock at the door echoed around the room. When would this be over? He answered the door.

x-x-x-x-x

Ariel woke, a smirk dawning on his face. Last night had been the clinching factor for his plans. His brother was right where he wanted him. Add that to the news Severus had delivered to the Order and his plans were falling into place one after the other. It was so easy, so perfect. His revenge was so simple he almost couldn't believe it was occurring as he envisioned.

Turning in bed, he looked at the Dark Lord and smiled. Tom was an unexpected bonus.

When he'd begun calling to people for help, he'd never imagined that he would ensnare the Dark Lord. After their first meeting, Ariel had been in shock. Certainly he hadn't planned to ensnare the man but he was glad it had occurred in such a way. Tom was nothing like he'd imagined. He wasn't perfect not by a long shot but there was something about him that simply oozed protection. Ariel felt safe with him.

The man once he'd found Ariel hadn't pushed anything. He hadn't attempted to force him into any relationship that could be harmful or disrespectful unlike some of the others had planned for him. Ariel was quite thankful the Dark Lord was in fact the one to locate him. Their meeting had been bitter sweet for neither had any idea how to approach the situation yet loved the fact they had each other. Finally nothing could keep them apart… except themselves.

Scarlet eyes opened, awake and alert in seconds yet pulling Ariel in closer at the same time. The contradiction of his movement and his emotions caused Ariel to laugh breathlessly.

"Good morning." Ariel whispered taking in the Dark Lord's appearance.

The man wasn't the most attractive however his appearance wasn't what solely drew Ariel's attention. He loved the man's intellect and how he could think of numerous scenarios to differing changes in war. He was swift in attack and only defended when he had to. The Dark Lord was the embodiment of the snake his ancestors stood for.

The Dark Lord gave a twitch of his lips indicating a smile whilst tugging Ariel closer. Ariel took it as a decent reply for early morning. It was likely the only reply he was to receive for his efforts. They remained wrapped in each other for a moment just listening to the sounds of the dawn echo in through the window. Considering they'd gone to bed at dawn, they knew they'd slept for an entire day.

"How are you meant to spend eternity with me?" the Dark Lord whispered.

He'd known that question was bound to crop up eventually. Ariel knew it was one of the many things the Dark Lord worried constantly over yet refused to reveal. Being alone was how he'd spent his entire life. He'd watched as his friends had grown old, had children, and eventually died. Then their children had children of their own and he was still left alone. To finally have someone capable of pleasing him emotionally only to lose them to age wasn't something desired by any.

However Ariel wasn't certain how to explain this. The topic was quite complex and while he had no doubt Voldemort would understand what he spoke of he wasn't certain it would be pleasing to hear. After all few lived after revealing they knew. Regulus was evidence of that.

"When you attacked that night on Halloween determined to be rid of my brother and I, you had undergone a ritual." Ariel started.

The Dark Lord froze. How did Ariel know this? No one had known about that particular success in his goal towards immortality. There weren't any remnants of his attempts lying about or any of his failures. Surely no one could possibly have known about this. Yet Ariel was hinting at exactly that. Reluctantly he permitted this conversation to continue needing desperately to know what information Ariel kept.

"When your soul was sent from your body during your failed attempt the part that you'd broken away had no direction. It couldn't travel with you as you were little more than a spectre. Instead it chose to travel to the nearest healthy body it could find."

Red eyes narrowed. It couldn't be possible!

"It travelled to you." He uttered in near disbelief.

Ariel nodded.

"It travelled into me. Chris had been harmed by your attack but I was healthy. I've carried a part of you for nearly my entire life with no way to be rid of it or to trap it within a safe part of my mind. It ran rampant around and caused my magic to take a rather dark leaning."

Ariel relaxed against the Dark Lord's hold. The man gripped him like nothing would ever rip them apart. The possession Ariel felt emanating from the man couldn't compare to anything he'd felt in his life. He felt comfortable leaning into the restricting embrace.

"My parents didn't understand what was happening. Dumbledore had little idea either. So instead of attempting to research further they abandoned me. My body began undergoing several transformations in the time I spent away from them and lying in that tomb within the Ministry. My dear Dark Lord, having your soul makes me immortal. As long as you survive, I survive. No one can take us away from each other."

The Dark Lord shuddered wrapping his arms further around Ariel's waist. The reassurance he felt when Ariel mentioned that astounded him. He never wanted to be parted from the one he'd worked so hard to obtain. Christopher Potter wouldn't be able to have Ariel. He'd kill the child off long before that would ever occur. Ariel smiled knowing what Tom thought.

"We should get up and attend breakfast. I'm positive there are numerous people waiting for us to surface."

Voldemort could imagine what would be on their minds. He'd made it clear he would be taking Ariel as his partner in crime and life. The fact Ariel was so young bothered quite a few of them. However he wasn't about to simply allow them to ruin what he'd finally gained. It had taken quite some time for this to come about and he wasn't letting it go.

Together they dressed in slightly more appropriate robes of green (for Ariel) and black (for the Dark Lord), heading for the Dining Hall. As they entered they took note of those that had managed to wake to greet them. After the previous night not many had surfaced once again. Those noticeably missing were Bellatrix and both Lestrange brothers. The other Inner Circle had managed to wake and was sitting at the table though appeared a little worse for wear.

"Good morning." Ariel smiled.

The Inner circle replied with various greetings all pleased to notice their master hadn't bothered to punish them for not standing as they entered the room. Ariel might not have been able to calm the Dark Lord but he certainly kept his darker nature at bay especially in the morning. Remus of course ignored all protocol and hugged Ariel ignoring the glare he was receiving from the Dark Lord.

A calm hand slid into the Voldemort's making his tense figure calm. Together they walked the length of the room and took the two seats at the top of the table. Remus claimed a seat beside Ariel while Fenrir took his other side. Lucius had already claimed his usual spot to the Dark Lord's right.

"We were worried the pair of you wouldn't turn up today." Fenrir growled.

The joke missed its mark as their leader sent a rather narrowed glance at the wolf, magic rising within the room. The Inner Circle tensed ready for the outburst.

"Relax, Fenrir didn't mean what he implied." Ariel explained. "He only meant you've been taking care of me."

Ariel smirked as Fenrir burst into laughter nearly falling off his chair. Remus frowned at the implication but let it go as did Lucius and Severus. They weren't about to attempt to fix this if it went south. The Dark Lord appeared disgruntled but accepted Fenrir hadn't meant anything too damaging by his words. Ariel wasn't hurt by the words so the wolf could live another day.

"I like you pup." Fenrir rumbled once he'd finished laughing. "You and I shall get along quite well."

"I do believe you have some explaining to do." Severus brought up; displeased he'd been left out.

He enjoyed that Ariel could joke with others. It provided evidence that he wasn't as damaged as a teen should be growing up within the Ministry. However it didn't make allowing Ariel to wander around any better. He wanted to make certain Ariel was perfectly healthy in both body and mind. His potions should have taken care of his body's health but the mind was a different and difficult thing to work.

"I suppose I do." Ariel agreed as he pulled a few dishes towards himself and began serving.

That signalled the beginning of whatever meal they could call this. It certainly couldn't be called breakfast what with this array of foods. Yet it wasn't quite a lunch spread either. None cared however as they were finally eating after a lengthy celebration.

"As you are all aware my parents gave me away when I was little due to an overwhelming, in their belief, concentration of dark magic seeping from me." Ariel began.

He frowned as a few of the dishes remained unknown to him. Living off whatever gruel the Unspeakables brought him certainly gave him a rather different view on many items. However he piled a small amount of each dish onto his plate, determined to try as many as he possibly could.

"The Unspeakables," he continued, "managed to track me down at age five. Specifically, they tracked the residue from the attack site on Halloween. The idiots were meant to locate the Dark Lord instead they found me. They had no clue as to who I was at the time only that I had the same magic surrounding me as the Dark Lord did. Obviously that was good enough for them."

The group frowned at Ariel's lack of emotion. This had happened to him. Shouldn't he have shown some level of despair or horror at the thought of what would come?

"You seem rather detached from this Ariel." Lucius commented.

Ariel shrugged tasting some sort of vegetable.

"The Unspeakables might have messed with my emotions a little. I don't feel the same fear as you do which is why I can control fear in another's mind. Fear means very little to me."

None had anything to say to counter that. It might have been a useful tool but that meant it could also become a hindrance if the other side found out. Ariel merely continued speaking as no one gave any further comments.

"Once they discovered that the Dark Lord had caused something to happen that night they all became rather eager to obtain permission for experimentation. I of course was moved from my location to the Ministry where I found my own little section of the Department of Mysteries. There were other children present as well however they were being tested for numerous other things not related to my condition."

Severus couldn't believe what he was hearing. Experimentation certainly should never have been done on a child let alone one with well-connected parents. Having the surname Potter should have spared Ariel numerous tortures and yet it had done nothing. The Unspeakables had ignored every little piece of evidence of Ariel's true name effectively erasing the child known as Harry Potter and instead creating Ariel Ashling. Add to this he wasn't the only child experimented on, it brought a lot of shame upon the Ministry.

"Each experiment was more painful than the last." Ariel recounted. "I don't know exactly what their goal at the time was. There was only pain and looming faces at such a young age. I held little hope that anyone would come to my aid considering what my parents had also done to me as well. I was a lost child."

A brief expression crossed his face yet not one of them could tell what exactly that expression had hinted at.

"As I aged in their environment I began to realize certain abnormalities within myself. I knew information not told by the workers around me. The information came to me because I was beginning to become connected to the Ministry. Eventually they began to figure out this was one of my new 'gifts' along with the fact I didn't need to use a wand to work magic. That was when everything simply began to go downhill." Ariel explained a small sad smile on his face.

Many of the Inner Circle couldn't look at Ariel as he spoke. They were so full of rage to what had happened to the teen. How could their government attempt something such as this? Children were meant to be sacred and not treated like experiments waiting to go wrong. They were disgusted.

"How is it possible that you don't fight against me?" The Dark Lord questioned softly in the silence.

No one dared to move as he spoke. They had no idea how their master could believe it was his fault. There hadn't been anything anyone could have done let alone him, the Dark Lord especially.

Ariel turned towards the Dark Lord smiling reassuringly. He took the others hand in his and spoke.

"Tom, dear Tom, you are also the one who set me free. You didn't force those people to do what they did. You didn't force my parents to give me up and until a few months ago you didn't know I existed. There is nothing to blame you for."

The tender moment disappeared after that with a glare. No one commented on the fact their master had appeared human for a few seconds. No one commented at all so Ariel once again continued his story.

"After they had realized what they were creating they began making plans to shut the program down. They couldn't have one of their experiments having intimate knowledge on hidden details not even their bosses knew about. Only by that time I could access all the information within the Ministry including items they kept from me. I knew what they were planning and I wasn't about to allow them to go through with it."

The group sat tense within their seats. Knowing how the Dark Lord had found Ariel next it wasn't much of a surprise what they had chosen to do. Instead they were more concerned about how this had affected Ariel. After all it had left him spending years asleep within the very place he'd been tortured.

"When they entered the room their blood began to spill." A glint entered Ariel's eyes they were all too familiar with. "I killed all of them. None of them lived to see the next day but not before one of them managed to inject me with a sleeping potion."

Severus was horrified. Injecting a potion directly into the blood steam didn't allow for it to weaken as it was swallowed into the stomach. The full effects of the potion would have been unleashed leaving Ariel in the state they had found him in. It would have been devastating to the system.

"Why would they even believe that was a good idea? They should have known better!" He spat.

Ariel shook his head mentioning briefly that they had altered the potion so the dosage wouldn't kill him. An experiment had already been conducted on several of the other children kept in the same area. The disgust the Inner Circle felt for the Ministry only grew.

"The room removed all of the dead bodies before sealing me away in secrecy. I spent years searching for someone strong enough to wake me, to protect me. When one of these people died they would remain in my mindscape as nothing more than a flower so I would remember their sacrifice. Then the Dark Lord found me."

The group smiled tightly still too tense from the previous news. Not that Ariel noticed, he was too busy looking at the Dark Lord. The look was of pure gratitude though there were hints of something else no one wanted to ask about.

Lucius was the one to finally ask the question all had been waiting for.

"What do you do now that Ariel is on our side?"

The Dark Lord granted them a feral smile hand reaching over to take Ariel's hand. Everyone sat forward ready to hear what their next plan would pertain.

"The Ministry is our next target. I believe you, Lucius, would make an exemplary Minister. Then with the Ministry in our grasp, Hogwarts will be next and much simpler to take as our own. The Order will have nowhere to cower and we will rule."


The next chapter will include reactions from Albus and Lily. Hope you enjoyed the chapter!

~MidnightEmber