~Chapter Eighteen~

Newly appointed Minister of Magic, Lucius Malfoy, walked around the room with a grace perfected of years as Lord of an Ancient House. Waves of people flowed around the Ministry as the crowd congratulated and celebrated Lord Malfoy's new position; each person attempting to boast their own personal knowledge in varying areas to improve their relations with Lucius after such a performance of knowledge.

With so many people around it truly was a feat to remain poised yet Lucius never brushed anyone aside. Regardless of their blood status, wealth, or political leanings, Lucius greeted all of them with an open and hospitable courtesy. Even those who he spoke very little of in private were greeted well. A Minister of the People, the crowd were beginning to call him.

All through this Ariel watched from the shadows.

Within the Atrium, he monitored the swell of people. Lucius held the power and would do so for a year at least. He would introduce new laws and sway all people to with his words. The Wizarding World would become a place befitting of their magic, their power, and their ability to remain away from muggles.

However this meant plans kept by Ministry workers who desired a higher standing needed to work around him. Every single person within the Ministry held their own agenda and all of them would need to discover which way Lucius planned to lead the Wizarding World before they could plan for their future within it. Their constant schmoozing would become tedious but they would all need to be dealt with. After all, the only plan to succeed would belong to the Dark Lord.

Whether the people eventually discovered this plot mattered little in their scheme. Lucius would be there to control the outcry. He would direct the people's anger to a more worthy cause and the changes within their world all because of a Dark Lord or he would point out the good the Dark Lord was causing with these changes. And Ariel knew he would be more than capable of the task entrusted to him.

The Order would remain vigilant, Ariel knew, and ascertain Lucius' direction for the government fairly swiftly. They wouldn't give up their ideal. However it would be a year before they could enact any plans to thwart the government and by that time new laws would have been implemented. The laws would protect both the new governing body and the people of the wizarding world from muggles and no one would desire to have them removed.

The world would be altered into a place where all magical creatures would be welcomed and safe; and it would all be due to the Dark Lord's careful planning. The beginning was now and everything was falling precisely into place. Yet there was still an important detail Ariel needed to remove before the Dark Lord would be satisfied.

Ariel strode through the crowd towards the newly appointed Minister and offered a smile. Lucius twitched knowing Ariel was still invisible to the Order. Knowing Lord Malfoy's thoughts on the matter, Ariel laughed.

"Relax; the Order won't think it strange to find you speaking to air. They will however see you speaking with an inconspicuous person who they vaguely recognize but don't care to approach later."

Lucius didn't break his composure however the tension within his muscles eased, becoming more relaxed as he recognized he was in the company of an ally and someone he could trust.

"I believe congratulations are in order, Minister Malfoy." Ariel continued, a cheeky smile brightening his face.

"Hardly, after all it is you who convinced our Lord's followers of my worthiness for the position."

"And it is you who supported my words with actions."

The rebuttal boosted any lingering doubts within Lucius' mind. Though he had known he could make an excellent Minister of Magic, actually making truth his beliefs provided an insecurity he'd never before acknowledged. Ariel's presence freed him of this insecurity. Whether done by coercion or not Lucius was grateful. Yet there was still a concern on his mind.

"The Dark Lord will not join us tonight?"

Ariel smirked. Death Eaters were often so predictable. They would fall over each other to prove they were worthy of their Lord if they weren't all rigid with composure.

"Believe me, Lucius, he will be thrilled with your results however he believes openly supporting you too soon will create a negative effect on your image and any laws you pass within the first few months."

Lucius nodded, understanding the logic within their Lord's decision. It certainly would become more difficult to pass new laws if the populace and the High Lords within the Ministry believed they came as orders from the Dark Lord. No matter how popular he currently was, no amount of popularity would overcome the fear instilled by the Dark Lord.

"What of your plans then, Ariel? How will you enjoy this success?"

A glint in Lucius' eye had Ariel turning his focus completely towards him. However Ariel knew returning to the Dark Lord's side wouldn't be welcomed until a slight obstacle was finally removed. The Death Eaters could, after all, only tolerate their Lord's wrath of abstinence for so long. Besides, Ariel welcomed the day he could finally claim to belong completely to his dear Tom.

"I believe I shall play with a lion cub first." Ariel replied, turning towards his target.

He didn't need to see Lucius to know he was scowling.

"Have a good evening, Minister Malfoy."

x-x-x-x-x

Chris had his eyes peeled. However Cornelius Fudge losing to Lucius Malfoy couldn't hope to hold his attention. Not when there was a far greater interest roaming around the hall. His gaze swept across the crowd of enamoured people searching for dark hair and vibrant eyes. Ariel was here, Chris could tell and he wasn't leaving until he spoke with him.

His parents had been quite disheartened when they'd learnt the truth. Ariel was their lost son, Chris' twin. They had lost their son only to find him again on the other side of the war. Nothing would ever be the same for their little family. However it didn't stop Chris from attempting to pull their family back together. Once Ariel, once Harry was home, their lives could start moving forward in a direction more to their liking.

And if Chris still felt such feelings for his twin who could fault him?

They'd been born together. They had shared everything when they were little. Their bond would supersede the bond Lord Voldemort had begun forming with Ariel. Harry and Chris belonged together and nothing would stop him from having that once again.

Now if only he could find his brother. Their talk would sort everything out.

As if a messenger had answered his call, Chris spotted Ariel. His brother stood talking to their new Minister of Magic as if no one else in the world mattered. Ariel looked proud and pleased. Malfoy lapped up the attention his brother was bestowing him and it infuriated every bone in Chris' body. A lowly Death Eater was getting more attention from his brother than Chris had in his entire life. Yet before he could express any fury Ariel turned and smiled in his direction.

Behind Ariel, Malfoy scowled. Chris felt smug knowing exactly what the Minister was thinking. Chris had won this round and he hadn't needed to even be in their direct presence. Ariel would speak with him.

The feeling of elation didn't last long as Ariel began moving away from Malfoy and even further away from Chris. Ariel wasn't moving towards him, he was leaving the celebration. Chris wasn't deterred however, they would speak but first he should congratulate their new Minister.

Carefully, he manoeuvred away from his parents and in the direction Ariel headed. Lucius Malfoy smirked in his direction yet welcomed his approach as he had done with every other person in the hall no matter what words they spat at him.

"Minister Malfoy, congratulations on your new role in our society."

"Thank you, Mr Potter; I'm certain your support will go a long way into correcting the ways in our society."

Chris withheld a wince as everyone around him smiled approvingly. Now it would seem as if he supported the decisions the new management would make. He should have been more careful with his phrasing. His parents were going to scold him when he returned.

"Yes, well, Mr Fudge was hardly the right person to lead us during these difficult times. Also you should address me as Lord Potter as it will be my title."

Lucius smiled as if talking to a child.

"It will be your title eventually. Until then however you are simply Mr Potter."

Chris smiled back bitterly. His father wasn't even using the title at the moment. He didn't care for politics so the title was simply being wasted on him.

"Of course, how could I forget? I'll take my leave now; I seem to be needed somewhere else."

Chris watched Ariel disappear around a corner as Malfoy sniffed.

"You are most welcome to depart. I fear keeping you hear wouldn't be in anyone's best interest."

Chris smirked. Even the Death Eaters held a healthy wariness towards his brother. The fools that they were wouldn't know what hit them when Ariel turned towards his side and destroyed each and every one of them. Chris wouldn't just be Lord Potter; he would be hailed as the next Leader of Light.

With a smile, Chris bid his farewell and walked in the same direction Ariel had left knowing he would be united with his brother once again.

x-x-x-x-x

Ariel walked the paths of the Department of Mysteries in contemplation. These cursed halls had held him for many years; years in which he had desired nothing more than to be free and see the sky. They held secrets not many knew and even fewer would guess. Not even Dumbledore or Tom held any idea as to what the Unspeakables worked on. They were a department all of their own and with no one to limit their ferocious ingenuity.

Looking back on his tortured years of confinement, Ariel couldn't help but wonder what would have become of him should he have been permitted to live as Harry Potter, the younger brother of the Boy-Who-Lived. It was easy to see that Chris held his brotherly bond in high regard. There was no reason to believe however that their parents would have done the same. If anything they'd already proven they didn't care for such bonds.

It mattered little though. If he'd remained Harry then he would have endured his early years in whatever place his parents had left him until he'd reached Hogwarts. From there anything could have occurred. He might have been a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin. He didn't particularly feel very brave and loyalty only occurred after he'd had a firm knowledge on Tom's beliefs. The brotherly bond would certainly have been tested if that were the case.

However Ariel couldn't change any of this. All he could do was move forward with his life now and Chris had become an obstacle in this situation.

"Harry!"

His birth name sounded so mundane when it blurted out of his brother's mouth. Would he have felt differently in another life? Would he have craved it?

Ariel shook the question away and continued walking down the path before him. Chris so desperately tried to catch up to him but the magic surrounding the Ministry felt Ariel's intentions. They would work for him this once, Ariel knew. After this however they would once again act as if Ariel had never been kept confined within their grasp for so long. They would act as if he were an everyday employee. He wouldn't miss it.

"Ariel!"

Turning slightly as he rounded a corner, Ariel could see Chris continue his fruitless chase deeper into the building. The boy wasn't even paying attention to where Ariel was leading him. All he cared for was reaching his brother and proving his worth. Ariel however had already decided his fate.

"Are you tired, little lion?"

Ariel entered the Hall of Prophecy. Crystal balls lined each shelf causing the room to emit a rather harsh feeling of foreboding. This location was perfect for what Ariel had planned. A hum entered the room, magic stirring as if in agreement yet tinged with a vengeance not his own.

"If you are tired perhaps you should find someone your equal to chase instead."

"You're my brother; you're my equal. There is no one else that could match me so perfectly."

Ariel's thoughts once again turned to another life. Yet there was nothing there to tie him. No emotions. No loyalty. All he had was what he'd managed to create in this life. No bond could have been stronger than between Tom and Ariel. They were tied together in a way not even a brotherly bond could hope to sustain.

Ariel stopped, sensing the magic desired him to be here. He didn't have long to wait as Chris came lumbering into view. A smile spread over his brother's face.

"We are finally alone."

The glee within Chris' voice was uncanny. The obsessive tone to the words also couldn't be denied. Ariel had played with his brother too much for anything positive to come of it. Certainly he couldn't be blamed entirely on his decision to play with his brother. Breaking his mind would have eventually occurred. However their parents would have been the ones to do so with their smothering attitude. This revenge however suited Ariel more than anything in the world he could ever hope to imagine.

"We'll never be alone. Magic will always be around us. Magic will always keep us chained."

Confusion swept over Chris. He couldn't quite understand what Ariel was saying; though that hadn't changed much. Since their first meeting, Ariel had always spoken with words often too contemplative for Chris. He was a man of action; Ariel of thought. Either way, Chris wouldn't be deterred from taking his brother home.

"Our parents are waiting. We can go home and I can show you around. We could even share a room together like we should have done all our lives. We can finally get to know one another properly."

Ariel smiled softly. Watching threads of magic twine around them, he could feel their intentions start to take effect. Time was running out for them.

"I've told you little lion, we are no longer bound in such a way. You aren't my equal regardless of how we are related."

Chris flinched.

"You're my brother. We were born together. We were meant to do everything together. Our parents might have disturbed that when they removed you from our lives but now we have the chance to fix that. We can live our lives together like we were always meant to. Whether our parents accept that is entirely up to them but I want you."

And oh how Ariel had wanted to say yes, once upon a time. He held no illusions that being part of a family had once been a great desire of his. The love he imagined being given had always made his heart swell and pick up any depressing thoughts he'd held at the time. Such an opportunity never occurred and slowly the desire faded away.

He'd grown and changed long before Chris and the Potter's made their way back into his life. A few short months of knowing their existence didn't make for those feelings to return. What he wanted now was Tom. He wanted someone to take care of him when he desired so and to allow him freedom when he wanted to obliterate those in his way. The Potter's, as a family, would never allow for that to occur. They would simply hold him back.

"It's too late for that little lion."

"What do you mean? We have all the time in the world."

All Ariel could give him was a depreciating smile. Time was out.

Chris frantically lunged in an attempt to bridge the gap between them sensing that Ariel was holding something back from him. Before his very eyes, his hand moved through Ariel as if he were smoke. Ariel's body began to fade from view, gradually becoming eerily opaque.

"Forgive me little lion, but you and I just weren't meant to be."

Chris let out a frustrated scream as Ariel finally disappeared.

x-x-x-x-x

Returning to the Manor left Ariel in a state of uncertainty. What he'd just accomplished in relation to Christopher Potter was life changing for them both. He would have to live with the result for the remainder of his exceedingly long life. The chains would never break; the magic would always remain. Chris would be punished for as long as he could handle the strain. It wouldn't be pleasant.

Then there was the decision he'd made to remain with Tom regardless of any other connections in his life. Tom had freed him and given him a life. In return he promised to remain by his side. Yet Chris had caused doubts about how he wanted his life to shape and he couldn't shake them by himself.

He found Tom sitting at his desk reading from a stack of papers with little enthusiasm. The man barely glanced upwards knowing only Ariel held the right to walk into his study without knocking.

"Say my name."

Tom glanced up, crimson eyes meeting Ariel's green. Something had unsettled Ariel that much was clear however pinpointing the exact moment wouldn't be worth the effort. Ariel would either grant him hints or would tell him when he deemed himself ready to hear them spoken. In any event, Tom decided to indulge his Illusionist.

"Ariel?"

Ariel frowned.

"No, the other one, I want to hear what it would sound like coming from you."

Crimson eyes narrowed. He had a feeling he knew where this was coming from however he gritted his teeth and pushed away the frustrations. Ariel needed him more right now.

"Harry."

It was only a single word. Yet it still pulled such emotions from him which he hated to feel. He felt the loneliness of living amongst numerous other children all who craved the same attention he desired. He felt the confusion as he was brought to the Ministry. Memories stirred with pain as the Unspeakables started their experimentation. He'd been Harry then as well. Long he'd forgotten the name Harry and connected it with love and family.

Ariel moved around the desk and instead wrapped his arms around Tom's neck, feeling arms tighten around his waist.

"What did you discover?"

Ariel turned his nose into Tom's neck breathing lightly against the skin.

"I don't care for the name Harry."

It wasn't much but those words calmed the Dark Lord. He'd always worried about Ariel's past life and the effect it would have when it returned. Once free from the Ministry's hold there truly was nothing stopping Ariel disappearing from his life. The family he'd once had would always be there to hold a reminder of what he could return to. This however merely proved that Ariel held little attachment to his former life. Ariel belonged with him.

"How were the celebrations?"

Changing the topic wasn't smoothly done however it provided another route of communication less likely to form an argument between the pair.

Ariel smirked.

"Our new Minister shall be officially sworn in by the end of the week."

"Your presence here has done marvels for morale. Lucius would never have felt prepared to take control if you had not shown him the way."

Ariel ran his hands down Tom's arms as he leaned back.

"Thank you, my Lord," he said, a smile cheekily cracking his face. "It is always a wonder when I receive a compliment."

"You don't get enough."

"Now you go too far."

The scowl however aimed in Tom's direction held the playful tone Ariel had come to reveal now he hadn't anything to hold back. It certainly was something Tom had become attached to in recent days.

"I assume the Potter's also arrived to watch the monumental occasion?"

Ariel's joyful tones didn't slip.

"You have nothing to fear, dear Tom."

Tom tilted his head in consideration. Something in the way Ariel spoke had him pausing. He no longer could see the urge within Ariel to play with the Boy-Who-Lived. Yet he desperately wanted to know what had happened between the pair that Ariel dismissed him so effectively.

"How is our little lion?"

"He won't bother us any longer."

Tom's shock showed on his face. Yet he couldn't bring himself to care. Ariel didn't believe his brother, the one who was fated to defeat him, would be a problem any longer. Such a statement as monumental as that spoke of the confidence Ariel held with his belief. Before he was able to enquire further, Ariel leaned in.

"From now on, dear Tom, it shall just be you and I. No one else shall hold my gaze like you. Together, this world shall belong to you as I promised."

Ariel smiled and gently stroked Tom's cheek. He couldn't help it. Tom believed every word Ariel spoke. The world would belong to them.


So here is another chapter. If you find what happened between Ariel and Chris a little confusing, relax. It was meant to be. All shall be revealed as the end draws near.

~MidnightEmber