By: Tellemicus Sundance
Chapter 8—Burning Bridges
July 16, 1996
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Septimus Arburg watched from the shadows as the various guests arrived.
Just a short week ago, he had been approached by a Ministry wizard with a tantalizing offer. To enroll in a new Law Enforcement branch that the Minister kid was assembling. And the best part of the offer was that those were deemed worthy of the job and were employed would be given above-law powers to do what they felt was needed to bring in criminals and maintain order where and when the Aurors wouldn't or couldn't. A job where he could even arrest Aurors and throw his weight around with no one to answer to? Oh, he just had to have that job!
With the public announcement of the Minister repealing the Statute of Secrecy, this gave Septimus, Black Watch, and all other Wizards the power to do as they pleased in the world. And with the Minister's stated plans of conquering first Scotland and then the rest of the United Kingdom and turning them into true nations of magic, it was his assignment to lay the foundations for that plan. That was how he found himself wandering through Edinburgh Castle, the old relic was a major tourist attraction.
He had originally come to this place because he thought that it had held some kind of militaristic significance to the Muggles, if those ridiculous parades and festivals were anything to go by. What he found instead was something quite different than anything he'd been expecting. Apparently, the castle garrison had been called away to reinforce the Muggle Army as it battled against the invading dragons with wavering successes. Shortly afterwards, the castle had been seized by a criminal gang who had immediately gotten to work at forcing an ever-growing group of slaves to strip down the castle of all unnecessary decorations and to refortify it as a true castle. The amount of work that had already gotten done was actually respectively impressive, even discounting the fact that the gang could raid warehouses and other town stores for their needed supplies.
Arburg had spent the past day observing everything going on. And that was how he learned of the banquet that the gang leader, a man called Norman Arminger, was hosting for the different other gangs and cartels that were secretly stationed in the city's underworld. If Arburg was reading the situation properly, he was guessing that this Arminger fellow was hoping to entice the other Muggle crime bosses to side with him and take over the city. Arminger was already taking steps to do that. He and his men had easily overrun the skeleton crew that the garrison had left behind to watch the castle. Those men's bodies, as well as the city Council officials, were hanging by meat hooks from the parapets over the gatehouse that overlooked the Esplanade, the east entrance. It was a show of power if Arburg had ever seen one before.
Each of the different groups arrived with escorts of five to ten armoured and rather intimidating men. Though each group had a slightly different uniform, all of them brandished improvised weapons. These weapons included, but not limited to, bats, clubs, hammers, various types of knives, basically anything that could be used to cut or bludgeon a person to death. And, if his trained eyes weren't fooling him, all of the leaders had guns at their sides, but none of the henchmen bodyguards did.
The hidden wizard couldn't help but chuckle sardonically at situation. Of course the leaders would have the most dangerous weapons. They had to maintain their level of superiority over their minions. And, what was even more amusing was the fact that once their established government had all but disappeared for various reasons, the Muggles would immediately shift back to their older, more primeval ways where brute force won over reason and compassion. If anything, he thought it was a vast improvement and quite fitting since their worth as a people and their true natures were finally showing themselves.
"Welcome, gentlemen," Arminger said from where he sat at the head of the large banquet table. He was dressed in an expensive business suit, but there was no mistaking the light coat of chain mail that he wore underneath it. With his dark, graying hair cut short, slight age lines creasing his face, and a body figure that almost suggested frailty, he struck a slightly conflicting figure of seriousness yet weakness. Arburg himself found himself questioning the man's authenticity to be the leader of the gang he controlled. "Thank you all for arriving on such short notice and under times of duress."
"Spare me the pretty words and political talk, Norman," one of the cartel leaders growled, glaring at Arminger with repressed disgust. "What do you want this time?"
Nodding with a slight smile on his face, Arminger said, "I think you all can agree with me that times are rapidly changing now. Those beasts are spawning far faster than we've anticipated and are much more deadly than we've ever thought they could be. Last I heard, the Royal Army was losing more men than the dragons they were trying to kill. Whole divisions of troops were being incinerated to dust. In fact, I hear that the cowardly Americans are resorting to everything from gas to nuclear weapons."
There was a general round of snide chuckling at that declaration. Clearly, no one at this assembly liked the Americans. A sentiment that Arburg himself wholly supported as well.
"Due to these terrible disasters, certain opportunities are now open to us," Arminger continued seamlessly. "The Queen, the Minister, and his Government have all long since abandoned London and, as of five days ago, the military has lost contact with them. You know what this means, gentlemen?"
They didn't instantly answer, though a number of the thugs and bodyguards gained wide sneers of delight at the implications. With the Queen and government leaders gone and the military fast being ravaged by the increasing numbers of dragons, this meant that society was about to undergo a massive change. And they could very well influence it as they wished with little to no fear of consequences for the foreseeable future.
"At long last, our time of hiding in the shadows is over," Arminger said, nodding to himself with a self-satisfied smile. "We can now rise up to take that which should've been ours. We can become the kings we were always meant to be."
"So what are you proposing?" one of the other gang leaders demanded, glaring slightly at Arminger. It was obvious he greatly disliked the man.
"It's simple," Arminger said. "We form our own kingdoms."
That statement drew raucous laughter from the various men and their bodyguards.
"It seems you've lost your bloody mind just as this country's lost its security."
"I never said it would be simple, easy, or quick," Arminger said levelly, not seemingly affected by the others' obvious disbelief. "This world is entering a new age, and I'm going to take my share of it. As you've likely noticed, food has become a precious commodity lately. The dragons have destroyed many of the factories and warehouses that provide us with our necessities. And despite what some of you may think, eventually things will degrade back to the Dark Ages. Even those precious guns you're carrying will be rendered useless when you no longer have the means to resupply the wasted bullets."
"Are you saying you believe that the dragons will overthrow us?"
"I'm saying that they already have," Arminger said, waving his arm out towards the window. "Look out there: our Garden of Eden's going up flames everywhere, whether by them or us. At the rate we're going, millions will be starving to death or turn cannibal within two months, probably less. Basic utilities will begin shutting themselves down. Riots for food and shelter will break out, destroying what little that remains. Then there's disease and famine. And that's not even counting the dragons who will be dining upon us for years to come."
No one had any snide remarks to make this very graphic and likely accurate depiction of the future.
"What I'm proposing is that we ally ourselves together," Arminger continued. "The factories we still have available here in this city will be sufficient enough to suit our immediate needs. It takes training, but a single, knowledgeable man properly armed and armoured can be like tank to the unarmoured and untrained. A hundred men so armed, acting as a disciplined unit, can rout thousands."
The men, even Arburg, nodded to that statement. Maybe this man deserved his position after all.
"Of course, as you've likely discovered, there's a more immediate crisis that we must deal with first. Right now, there's only one real form of wealth: food. There's enough food in this city to feed the population for about two months, if nothing was wasted and if there was a rationing system; one month, more realistically. A great deal has already been lost and destroyed. Then everyone would die. There is, however, enough for a smaller but substantial number of people for a year or more. And remember, gentlemen, there is no longer a government to stop us anymore. Not here in Edinburgh, not in Great Britain, and soon not even in the whole world." As he had spoken, his voice had continued to rise in volume with equal amounts of passion.
That got an excited buzz.
"Now, before I call this meeting to an end, I would like you gentlemen to think on one last detail," Arminger said. "There'll be only two ways to live in the times that are approaching—farming, and living off farmers. I don't feel like pushing a plow."
The banquet soon broke apart as the various factions began quietly discussing amongst themselves the various points that Arminger had made. At the same time, platters with fresh food were brought and laid out on the table from the kitchens by a line of slaves. A feast that made even Arburg's mouth water, those smells were surprisingly appetizing. There were dishes loaded with roast beef, chicken, and Scottish beef, all served with a thick broth and large goblets of whiskey for the drink
Despite himself, Arburg shook his head at the cunning of that old man. Throwing a banquet for his hated rivals, giving them an accurate estimation of the state of the world in the near-future, tantalizing them with images of power and grandeur, and finally playing off their figurative and actual appetites to subtly nudge them to agree with his schemes. This man was cunning. And the fact was, with enough time, cooperation from his rivals, and a bit of good luck, his plans to become a king just might work!
Arburg sneered deviously at this thought. His superiors and the Minister were going to love this! Without a second thought, he Disapparated away from the castle and back to Hogsmeade to make his report.
July 17, 1996
There was a rather faint salty taste that lingered in the air as she quietly walked down a street of Ullapool. Nestled by the shores of the Loch Broom and being a fishing port in days past, and was one of the few that remained in all of Great Britain that was mostly untouched by the dragons' rampage and the following quickly escalating riots and destruction of the fleeing city folk. But even then, the city was nowhere near its usual vibrant and lively self. Many of the homes and businesses had been abandoned as the residents fled across the sea to the Hebrides, Skye, and even Ireland. As it was, Fleur could walk down the streets in plain view and not have to worry too much about unintentionally charming the ignorant Muggles with her Veela powers accidentally.
It had been an emotionally painful time for the young woman. The man she loved had been killed in a Death Eater attack, which the Ministry refused to believe or even act on since they were so busy with reconstruction. The most they had done was send a half-hearted letter of condolences to Bill's family explaining that his death was the result of trying to assist the Ministry and getting caught up in a riot with opportunistic thieves seeking to raid Gringotts during the confusion. The Weasley family and Fleur hadn't even bought the excuse for an instant since they knew the real reason for why he was there and what he was doing.
Fleur may not have gotten along with the family at times, namely of course Molly and Ginny. But after Bill's death, she just couldn't bear the thought of seeing any of them so soon after the eldest son's death. She hadn't told any of them this yet, but Fleur had begun to get strong suspicions that Bill had been intending to ask her to marry him after the end of the school year, in front of his entire family no less. That would've been exactly the thing he'd have done, she knew.
Sighing out loud at where her thoughts had once again taken her, Fleur shook her head lightly and returned her attention to where she was going. There was a small café that was still open for business at the end of this street. She knew because Bill's younger brothers, the twins, had asked her to meet them there so that they could talk about something. And since it was in the middle of a former Muggle Town and in broad daylight, Fleur had a very good idea of what they wanted to discuss.
Finding the café, she quickly entered the door and easily found the pair of identical redheads. It would've been hard not to find them since they were the only customers in the place. They sat back in the farthest corner booth, crouched forward and whispering lightly to one another with solemn expressions on their faces.
Walking up to them, she offered them a weak smile as they took notice of her presence. Unlike most of Bill's family, she rather enjoyed these two's company since they were among the few who were a bit more resistant to her charm that most others. Plus they were quite amusing most of the time. "Hello."
"Fleur! It's smashing to see you!" one twin, Fred she decided to call him, spoke up as she settled in the opposite booth seat of the pair.
"Truly, always a delight to see a pretty lady!" George added in.
"Pretty? Are your eyes broken again?" Fred demanded in an obviously fake scandalized voice. "She's too gorgeous to be a mere 'pretty'!"
"Too true, oh brother of mine," George agreed instantly. "But I didn't think putting the moves on her would be a brilliant idea right now."
"Aye, aye!" Fred nodded in acceptance. "Still, that was a rather bitter bit of slander you just spat out. You should apologize to the lady."
"Wasn't there something important you two wanted to talk to me about?" Fleur interrupted, smiling a bit more genuinely despite herself.
Before the boys could continue, the cook of the café came forward and Fleur graciously ordered a cup of tea, mirroring the brothers. The cook seemed to guess that they were discussing things that they didn't want others to hear and quickly left. Once he was judged to be safely away, the twins became serious very quickly as they turned their attentions back to her, "Fleur, have you heard anything from Tonks, Hestia, Emmeline, or anyone in the Order lately?"
Confused but quickly thinking back to past week, Fleur could only shake her head in negative. "Why? Did something go wrong?"
The twins looked between one another brief before saying, "You know that Percy became the Minister, right?" At Fleur's nod, they continued, "Well, we just learned that he had had Mum and Dad arrested on charges of conspiracy and treason."
"What?" Fleur gasped, shocked. "How could he do that?"
"Percy's always been a stickler for the rules and wanted to be the big man in charge," George said frowning in anger.
"And now that he's finally got what he wanted, he thinks that he can do anything he wants," Fred agreed, just as angry.
"But why arrest…?"
"We never included Percy in the meetings—" George said.
"And he probably knows none of the three of us are official members yet—" Fred continued.
"So he sent his people to get the ones that he did know about—" "Who just so happen to be our parents—" "We think he's got people going around arresting everyone who he doesn't like—" "Or who don't agree with him—" "So that he can stay in office after the Ministry's finished."
Flabbergasted, Fleur could only sputter in anger and incomprehension at what the brothers were saying. Fleur had never liked the middle Weasley child. He was far too devoted to obeying the established rules and forcing others to do the same. And while that may have been a natural reaction to being related to the twins and putting up with their notorious pranks, his domineering and somewhat smug personality did him no favours to garnering Fleur's acceptance of him. Of all the Weasleys, Percy had practically exemplified all that it meant to be a Pureblood as far as the Veela was concerned.
As Fleur was thinking on what the brothers had told her, the café cook had returned with her order of tea. The doorbell let out a soft jingle as it opened to admit a small group of burly workmen. They managed to group themselves around a large table off to the side, just inside Fleur's range of vision and she idly watched them from the corner of her eye. The cook was fast to return to take their orders with an almost-forceful need. This was probably the most business he'd gotten in days and he was relishing in it.
Sipping her tea, Fleur had to resist the urge to spit the liquid back out. The drink was not what she'd expected and it seemed to have been poorly brewed. Did she accidently let her Veela charm slip out of her control due to her anger? Muggles were much more susceptible to it than Wizards after all. Maybe she should've ordered coffee instead. Setting cup down and pushing it away in disguise, she refocused on the twins.
"Have you heard anything from the Headmaster lately?" she asked quietly, once again eyeing the newcomers. Muggles or not, it didn't hurt to be a little paranoid these days.
"Last we heard he was doing some kind of project with Mad-eye," Fred answered, just as quietly.
"Probably looking for Harry again," was George's comment.
"You mean they still haven't found him?" Fleur asked, real worry colouring her voice.
Harry was a really nice young man, as shown when he rescued her sister when she could not. Had he been a little older and more mature, she might've entertained the idea of getting to know him better than just being acquaintances. The fact that he'd disappeared around the time of the Blacks' infestation of London worried everyone in the Order greatly. Dumbledore had been adamant that Harry was still alive, though he didn't explain how or why he believed that so strongly. Regardless, the whole Order had dedicated a fair portion of the limited free time in the following days to find him. Not Fleur though, she may have been a little distraught over losing Bill at the time but she was sure that Harry would've shown up eventually.
It was at this time that Fleur caught a familiar movement out of the corner of her eye. A movement that she was very fast to replicate doing herself; drawing her wand from her belt holster. The group of five men twisted around and thrust their pointed wands towards the Weasleys and the Veela as a trio of Stunners flew towards the unsuspecting twins.
Surprisingly, the Twins seemed to sense the change in the air a split second before Fleur had even fully brought her wand up. They ducked to different sides as Fleur threw up a fast shield. The first Stunner was easily and safely deflected to the side. The second and third Stunners slammed into the protective magic in rapid succession after the first, punching through due to the superior power they wielded together.
But Fleur's shield had served its purpose, allowing her to magically wrench the booth the redheads had been sitting on and blast it at the Wizards. Fred and George had already recovered with their own drawn wands and were launching their own spells at the group with almost lethal efficiency from opposing sides. As the booth was blasted to pieces, one of the men launched black ropes towards George. Fleur quickly levitated one of the larger portions of the booth and intercepted the ropes midway to their target.
Using this small window, George sent a strange red smoke cloud into the midst of the men. Fleur didn't recognize that spell, but it almost instantly caused the Wizards to cry out and begin coughing violently. With a ruthless efficiency, the three defenders sent a series of Stunners, body binds, and various other hexes, charms, and curses into the red cloud. As the cloud quickly dissipated, it revealed that all of the men had fallen to the ground, several unconscious or restrained.
Keeping her wand at the ready, she asked, "What was that spell just now?"
"A little treat we created this past year," George answered, pride colouring his otherwise serious voice.
"An instant sleeping gas cloud," Fred said. "A really nifty spell to use in a pinch."
"What's going on out here?" the old cook demanded as he rushed into the room only to stop and freeze at the scene before him. "Wha-What's going on?"
Fleur turned to the man and smiled angelically at him, letting a small portion of her Veela Charm to escape her control. She watched as the man was quickly overcome by the charm's powers. Confident she had him fully wrapped up in her control, she said, "Nothing you need concern yourself with. Please return to the kitchen while we clean up the mess these uncouth men have made of your fine establishment."
"Y-Y-Yes, madam," the cook stuttered out, jumping to fulfil the request of the divine entity who'd spoken to him.
Once the old man was safely away, Fleur turned back to the twins, identical grins of mischievous envy on their faces. "You have no idea how brilliant you just were, Fleur." "If we could've done that back in Hogwarts—" "We could've gotten away with almost anything!"
"We'll talk about that later," Fleur interrupted as she focused her attention on the one remaining Wizard who was still conscious. He was wrapped up in a body bind. "You two clean up the mess, I'll speak with this man."
Walking forward, Fleur quickly bound the other unconscious men in summoned ropes, chained their hands behind their backs, and threw all their wands to the side. Finally, she removed a portion of the body bind from the man, enough for him to speak freely. Bringing out her Charm once again, she asked, "Why are you attacking us?"
"I-I-It was our mission," the man stuttered, clearly trying to fight off the effects. Fleur frowned at the clear sign of resistance and increased her Charm's power by another considerable amount. The man's struggles slowed before stopping altogether as he fell sway to her angelic appearance.
"Could you please explain your mission to me?" she asked in as cute a voice as she could muster, to reinforce her Veela power with some actual charm.
"Our mission was to observe the movements of Fred and George Weasley and Fleur Delacour," the man answered immediately.
"Why?" She already had a strong suspicion, but she needed to be sure.
"The targets were believed to be insurgents involved with Dumbledore," the man said. "If they were to meet anyone on a pre-set list outside of a magical community, orders were to capture and detain until their fates could be decided."
"And who issued these orders? What Department do you work for? Have you already reported our location to your superiors?"
"Minister Weasley," the man said, speaking the answers in the order she'd questioned. "We work for the Black Watch. Yes, we reported before engaging the targets, it is standard protocol."
"Black Watch?" Fleur repeated. "You mean that new law enforcement unit?"
"Fleur, I think we should leave now," Fred called from where he was peeking out the window cautiously. "These guys might have friends waiting for them that'll come running if they don't report in after a short while or something."
"And it'd be a right shame to go Azkaban for something we didn't do," George muttered from the back corner, where he was busy reattaching the repaired booth.
"You're right," she agreed, though was reluctant to abandon her interrogation so quickly. Still there was one question she felt she needed answered first. "If you had captured us, would we have been given a fair trial for our supposed crimes or would we have been shipped off to Azkaban as soon as possible?"
"Once you had left the magical community to engage in clandestine dealings with other suspected insurgents, you forfeited the right to a trial," the man said, heedless of the danger. Fleur, at first surprised, quickly glared at the dumbfounded man and Stunned him point blank in the face out of anger.
Turning to Fred and George as they came up to her, she said, "We can't go home. This man already contacted his superiors. They'll be waiting for us if we try to return and arrest us with no chance of a trial."
"What?" "Are you serious?" It was quite clear from the looks of their faces that this news was extremely unwelcome to them.
"Yes," Fleur was every bit as disgruntled as they were. "We're…fugitives now. Undesirables."
"Outlaws," the brothers chimed together.
Suddenly, their once bright future and hopes of somehow restarting their prank shop in Hogsmeade seemed so much more unlikely. Despite only being out of Hogwarts for a few short months, they had already invested nearly all of the gold that Harry had given them last year into purchasing and opening a shop in Diagon Alley. It was a shop that had gone up in flames with the rest of London and took their hopes, dreams, and all their assets with it. They were next to broke again with only a faint hope of being able to get back on their feet to try again in a few months' time.
A hope that was now and likely forever gone.
So distraught with their increasingly morbid thoughts, neither of the boys noticed the semi-familiar sensation of being dragged into a Side-Along Apparation by Fleur. She needed to get somewhere safe and it'd be better for all of them to stick together for the time being.
Cotswold Hills, Gloucestershire
Harry wasn't entirely sure when he started to regain consciousness. At first he just seemed to be swamped in a field of darkness, hazy images that floated through his mind that were quickly forgotten as new ones took their place, and an overwhelming sense of loss that seemed to be crushing his very soul. It wasn't until he began to register the pain that he truly started to awaken.
His body was burning, throbbing with each beat of his heart. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think. It just plain hurt. Still, never let it be said that he didn't have a considerable tolerance for pain which was why and how he was able to finally open his eyes and force himself into a seated position on the bed he was in. Harry didn't really know where he was and he honestly didn't care at this point. It just didn't matter to him anymore.
His wand was broken. What else could possibly matter at this point?
Even without his glasses on, he could see the two snapped halves resting on the bedside table to his right. He could see the red and gold feather than lined the core of his wand sticking out of the broken ends. Maybe it was his imagination, but the broken feather's strands seemed to be…droopy, as though lamenting its own sad state. It was a state that Harry himself felt explained his own perfectly. How could he fight without his wand? How could he live without his wand? The simple fact was that he couldn't.
He was useless now, truly useless.
Before more morbid thoughts and emotions could drift through his befuddled mind, the sound of a door opening caught Harry's attention. But he didn't shift his gaze away from the remnants of his wand. Thus he heard more than saw Darius enter his sky-themed bedroom. The black American walked up to him, carrying a tray of what seemed to be freshly-cooked food and several large glasses of foul-smelling potions.
"You're awake, I see," Darius commented unnecessarily, likely to break the tense silence that was filling the room. "That's good. I don't think I could've stood having to spoon feed you again."
He handed the tray to Harry who didn't really register its presence in front of him. After a moment of sightless staring, Darius finally gave in and let loose a low growl before whacking the back of Harry's head none too gently. "Will you stop that already?"
Rubbing his throbbing head, Harry turned and stared at Darius with almost accusing eyes. "My wand is broken."
"So it is," Darius growled, completely indifferent in the matter. "Shit happens, boy. Get used to it because there's nothing you can do to fix the past."
"I can't do anything anymore," Harry muttered lowly as he turned to stare blankly down at the food in his lap. "I'm useless now."
Growling even more loudly, Darius whacked Harry's head again, this time even harder. "This is why I'll never have kids. You angst over every little thing that doesn't go your way. You're all so self-cantered, arrogant, and stupid, thinking the world revolves around you and you alone."
That little rant quickly penetrated Harry's brain, striking a very tender cord in his very being. "I'm not—"
"Right now, you certainly are!" Darius interrupted loudly, speaking over Harry with conviction. "So you lost your first wand. Shit happens. Wizards lose their wands all the time, far more frequently than they'll ever admit to. Don't get so attached to something that you completely break down if you ever lose it! If you want a damn magic stick so badly, we'll just have to get you a new one."
The pair of them were silent for a few moments. Eventually, Harry turned his attention to the man with an analysing gaze in his green eyes. Doing a once over of Darius' figure, Harry looked up at the fuzzy image of the man he could see. "Where is yours, sir?"
For some reason, Darius' let loose a rather spiteful-sounding chuckle. "Finally noticed, eh? I don't have one."
"What?" Harry asked, finally starting to show a sliver of his old self. "Then…you're not a wizard?"
"I didn't say that, boy," Darius corrected as he dragged a chair over from the desk and took a seat. "I am unique as far as a wizard goes. I can't consciously use magic. In that way, I'm more of a 'Squib' than a Wizard."
"I don't understand."
"I'm an Abnormal as you British would call me," the man spoke, his voice curiously annoyed.
"What's an 'Abnormal'?" Harry asked, already not liking the sound of it. It reminded him far too much of his early childhood with the Dursley's, before he knew he was magical and his aunt and uncle constantly calling him 'abnormal'.
"You haven't heard of us?" Darius didn't seem the least bit surprised. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised. People, even wizards, tend to ignore that which they don't deem normal or understand. An Abnormal is a very, very rare type of Wizard. They are unable to use magic as normal people can, but usually possess a special ability so incredible that no normal Wizard could possibly hope to mimic it."
Seeing Harry's incomprehension, Darius continued, "Imagine that you could use your left hand because he didn't have your right arm. Meanwhile, everyone else around could use their right arms, but not have their lefts. Understand so far?"
Harry nodded hesitantly. It didn't paint a very clear picture, but it did kinda show him that Darius was supposedly a minority somehow.
"By being an Abnormal, I have a very special gift," How he uttered 'gift' made Harry feel that Darius resented it more than he appreciated it. "A gift that is so rare that it's said to only appear once every two hundred years. But in exchange, I am unable to use my magic like a normal Wizard can. Thus, I can't use a wand."
"What…What is this 'gift'?" Harry suddenly felt that he wouldn't like the answer to this question.
Darius seemed to pick up on his hesitation and carefully examined him, searching for something. Finally steeling his gaze, Harry met his stare with his own. Sighing heavily after reaching his decision, Darius said, "I'm a Visionary. I can sometimes see visions of the future."
"What?" Yup, he didn't like it.
After Dumbledore had told him of the prophecy, finding himself in the presence of a man who claimed to see the future very quickly summoned up a deep burning flame of anger. Just what he needed, another person who claimed to have advanced knowledge of the future coming to him with likely another prediction about him fighting some Dark Lord or great evil that only he could stop! Why couldn't these people just leave him alone? Voldemort was bad enough!
"Stop it!" Darius barked, hitting Harry's head yet another. "I didn't come to you because of you being some fucking Jesus Christ saviour of the world!"
Rubbing his head again, Harry let loose a low growl of his own as he glared at the man for his constant hitting. Wasn't there a law against hitting a bedridden patient or something? For the first time, Harry actually found himself missing Madam Pomfey's overbearing care. "Then why?"
"My visions aren't like prophecies," Darius said. "I don't speak nonsense riddles that only make sense in hindsight. However, the future is always in motion, always changing. It is only the truly big events that are inevitable to occur that I can see with any real clarity. I foresaw this coming age of dragons destroying the world back when I was only a child."
"What?" Harry couldn't believe that. "Then why didn't you—?"
"I was only a child at that time," the man pointed out somewhat harshly. "I didn't know what it was that I was seeing, only that it scared me badly. I honestly thought that my visions were just nightmares at first. It wasn't until my father started researching the dragons' strange behaviour back in the '70s that I started to understand. But by the time I did, it was already too late to stop it since many dragons had already been infected with the disease."
"But that's only the start of my vision," there was a definite air of foreboding in his voice now. "I foresaw the rise of a Dragon Lord. A Dark Wizard of such immeasurable power that he could command dragons to do his bidding. He would first arise from the ashes of England and begin destroying the world. No one could stop him, no one could challenge him, and no one was spared from him. He would destroy everything."
For a moment, there was a very tense silence in the room as Darius allowed Harry digest that kernel of information. Looking up after a moment, Harry looked at the man with a very intimidating gaze in those intense green eyes. It suddenly felt to the black man that the boy wasn't looking at him, but right through him, searching for the truth of his words.
"That's why you came here, isn't it?" Harry asked after a moment. "To find this man and put a stop to him before he could come to power."
"Yes," he nodded in acknowledgement of the boy's assumption. "It is also why I sought you out. Like I first told you, I thought that you could help me spread the word of the disease here, at Ground Zero. Plus, you are a rather promising young Wizard in your own right. You could be a big help in the fight, should you choose to help me."
Harry looked to the side, clearly thinking over Darius' request. "This 'Dragon Lord,' as you called him, is Voldemort, isn't it?"
Darius didn't answer right away as he stared at the boy. Though he wasn't one to willingly believe in fate, which was kind of hypocritical because of his visionary powers, Darius knew that the Potter boy was tied to the lunatic Dark Lord in some powerful but intangible way. If he involved Harry in this any more than he already did, there was a pretty good chance that Harry's obvious fears would come to pass.
"I can't truthfully answer that," Darius said carefully. "While it is true that he was an extremely powerful and dangerous Wizard, there is always the possibility that it's not actually him who'll do it. Remember: my visions are fluid, constantly changing. The decisions we make affect the outcome of everything we do, which affects what others do in turn."
Harry was silent for a moment before he grunted and turned his head away. "It doesn't matter. Without a wand, I couldn't help even if I tried."
"I could do something about that, you know," Darius said, earning Harry's questioning gaze. "I may not be able to use magic, but I can teach you the basics of the ways that Americans use magic. It's quite different than waving a wand and spouting nonsense gibberish."
Despite the clearly mocking tone, Harry chuckled at the man's description. Truthfully, that's what traditional magic in Europe was. Seeing that boy was actually interested in the idea, Darius stood up and moved the chair back to the desk. "We'll talk more about it after you've recovered. For now, eat and drink those potions. You should be alright by the end of the week."
Glancing down at the now cold meal in his lap that he'd forgotten about, Harry couldn't help but wince slightly. He wished that Darius could've warmed it back up for him, but… Oh well, he'd have to make due.
(Author's Note) Well, here it is. The last chapter of 'The Outlaw'. Yes, you read that right. Originally, this story would've been much longer (at least 20+ chapters) but revisions, new ideas, and a few other factors cut this one short.
One prominent reason why I decided to cut this short, for all that has happened in this story, it is essentially an exaggerated 'prologue' that introduces the circumstances and situations of the main story. And that story has been changed to take place after a significant time skip (1-2 years later).
Big time thanks to Slytherin66 for reviewing and helping me create the right kinds of atmosphere for the various scenes. You're help is truly invaluable for this story, for my ideas of the sequel, and my other stories as well. Thank you, my friend.