Harry Potter and the Tides of the Moon
Disclaimer: All JKR's, not mine.
Summary: AU After OOTP- After Harry is thrust back in time, he has to contend with surviving the rest of his years in Hogwarts and living his new life around people that he knows will one day become Death Eaters. Can he find the balance between giving people a chance and doing what he knows is right or will he crumble under the pressure that comes with knowing the future?
A/N: Thanks for the reviews everybody. Oh, and review again!
S/N: I still anticipate that there will probably be one more chapter, plus the epilogue. As you recall, there is going to be a long time jump, I pushed it back one more chapter but it needs to come eventually.
S/N 2: As always, the Christmas chapter has a Christmas song theme and title, this time Silver and Gold by Burl Ives.
Chapter 39: Silver and Gold
Harry woke up early the next day in order to make breakfast. Getting out of bed as quietly as he could as to not wake Bellatrix, he walked down into the kitchen, used his wand to light a fire on the stove, and started frying some eggs and bacon. As they cooked, he made some toast, poured some juice, and levitated a few spreads onto the table in the corner. Just as he was finishing up, Bellatrix entered the kitchen wearing a nightgown, though she appeared to be well rested, surprising for what she had gone through the night prior.
"We need to talk," Harry said, as she sat down for breakfast, wanting to clear everything up before the day started. He had been preoccupied with her safety and well-being hours earlier, but now that he knew she was okay, he wanted to voice the things that had been on his mind at the time but he chose to keep to himself.
"I figured we would," Bellatrix nodded, understanding that a lot had happened over the last twenty-four hours. She had gone against him by joining the Death Eaters the night before, as she was only supposed to talk to Lucius about it—Harry had simply not reacted badly to it at the time because he had seen how hurt she was and did not want to bring her even more pain.
"Why are you doing this?" Harry asked bluntly, wanting the real reason for why his wife, whom had been so hesitant to even be around half-bloods less than a year prior was willing to betray all that she had once held dear.
"For Nymphadora," Bellatrix answered, scooping eggs onto her plate and buttering a piece of toast. "After you told me that they went after the Moons, I started to realize that we can't keep hiding like we're doing. Eventually, they are going to come after us, and by proxy, my sister. I needed to help, I needed to get involved and this was a way for me to do it. I've been thinking about it a lot and Christmas just highlighted the need to do something for me."
"There were other ways!" Harry snapped, not accepting her answer as anything more than placating him. "You could have joined the Order, we could have found a Death Eater and gotten information from them, we could have..."
"Does my being a Death Eater help or hinder your fight against Voldemort?" Bellatrix interrupted, wanting to know whether her being a Death Eater would allow them to defeat Voldemort more quickly as she expected it would.
"Hinders," Harry answered instantly, not finding any positives in having her be around them. "I'm going to be so worried about you. This isn't some Slytherin gang that you can control, Bellatrix, this is serious. Do you think you're going to be able to do this without killing, hurting...torturing? There's no coming back from that."
"I'll figure a way to not do that stuff, and if it gets dangerous, I'll leave," Bellatrix replied, having already come up with a plan: her cousin Evan was willing to do all the dirty deeds, all she had to do was keep him around enough to 'give him the pleasure' of doing the actions that she could not do herself.
"You think it'll be that easy?" Harry said in a low voice, disbelieving what he was hearing from her. She was usually confident in her everyday life, but to him, it felt like she wasn't taking the situation seriously, which he believed would get her killed in the end.
"No," Bellatrix shook her head in the negative, not anticipating it to be easy at all. "I know it's going to be the most difficult thing in the world, but I need to do it. I need to."
Harry furrowed her brows at the choice of her words, perplexed by what she had meant. "Why?"
"I'm scared, Harry," Bellatrix sighed, putting her fork down and hanging her head. "I've been around such great people; Alphard is probably the kindest man in the world, Nymphadora is so cheerful and innocent, I just don't want them get hurt. I need to do this for them. I can't sit in the quidditch stands anymore. I'm too good of a witch for that to happen."
"I understand, but..." Harry replied, pausing mid-sentence to rub his forehead. "There were other ways to do it, Bellatrix. I thought you were just going to talk to Evan and Lucius last night, not come back with the Dark Mark."
"Yeah, Evan was a bit more gung-ho about it than I anticipated, but I'll have him under control soon enough," Bellatrix answered, having practiced placing him under the Imperius Curse after the meeting the night prior. It was her first use of the Unforgiveable, but she knew it would most likely not be her last. "I have other reasons for wanting to do this, as well," then upon seeing Harry's face, she added, "You told me that you believe there is a horcrux in Gringotts, correct?"
"I think so, yes," Harry agreed, having hoped that it wouldn't be, but admitting that all signs pointed to that truth. It was the last place that he could think of, having checked out nearly all the other ideas that Dumbledore had left in his journal, though he knew not just where in Gringotts it would be.
"If Lucius had a horcrux, what if another Death Eater has it, as well?" Bellatrix started, anticipating that her presence in the Death Eater circle would be critical. "How would you figure that out? Would you and try to break into every single vault? How would you narrow it down without more information?"
Harry stayed silent for a moment, weighing her words, before conceding their value. "And you think you'll be able to figure it out?"
"I can see who he favors, and maybe just maybe, get a chance to pinpoint it," Bellatrix answered with a nod of her head. "It's better than just having you guess which vault it is in and try to burgle it blindly."
"I think you had it in the future," Harry said, giving her a small smile that showed his discomfort on the subject.
Bellatrix smirked at that, fully remembering the stories that Harry had told her about the future. "Then I'll find out who has it in this timeline," she resolved, placing her hand over Harry's and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"I still don't like it," Harry shook his head, scooping his own eggs onto his plate and grabbing a piece of toast. "You said reasons..."
Bellatrix looked Harry in the eye, bracing herself to admit her deepest secret. "I'm tempted by it," Harry gave a small nod, but stayed silent, not wanting to express anything one way or another. "For as long as Voldemort is around, I will be tempted by it. I was raised on blood purity, Harry, it's hard for me to just overwrite eighteen years worth of that. I know, I know, I just said I was worried for Nymphadora, and that's what scares me, I'm still tempted by it even with these growing feelings of mine. I'm worried that I'll screw up and I'll lose you because of it. I'm worried if I just give in for a moment, I'll lose you. I need him gone. I need the idea of him gone. When that happens, I can start working on my sister and parents and hopefully get them to change their ideals as well, but I can't do it while I'm tempted by it."
"So this is your way of satiating that need?" Harry replied, wondering if that was what she meant.
"In a way, yes," Bellatrix agreed, hoping that by acting like a Death Eater, she would see the disgusting actions and it would change her outlook on life to be more similar to the way Alphard viewed muggles.
"There's no way I can get you to pretend to be arrested by Alice or Frank, right? Get you out of the Death Eaters that way, give up this facade?" Harry said, giving one last option before they went fully ahead with her plan.
"I need to do this, Harry," Bellatrix replied, her voice showing her resolve, though Harry could hear a hint of fear, as well. "I get it, it's a crazy plan, it's something that risks everything we have built together, but I need to do it. If I can survive this, that means no matter what happens in my life, I am not tempted by whatever darkness I have inside of me. I'm doing this for you, for Nymphadora, for Ted and Andromeda, for Alphard, and most importantly, I'm doing it for myself. It seems foolish, I get it, but please, just trust me, I know I can do it."
"It's just, you've never taken a step like this before, so it seems crazy for you to just jump straight to something this drastic," explained Harry, clarifying why he was confused by her actions. "It's like you going out into the muggle world and driving a semi-trailer before learning how to drive a car. It's too large of a jump for me to believe that this will end well."
"This is the one way I could help that truly uses my skills," answered Bellatrix, knowing that she was a powerful witch and an accomplished legilimens, each of which would allow her to perform well as a spy. "For years before I met you, I made a name for myself amongst some of the current Death Eaters. None of them will suspect anything by seeing me. It feels more natural to me."
"It's not wise and you're more clever than this," Harry sighed, though Bellatrix could tell it was starting to dawn on him that she needed to do this, rather than it being her desire to do it to protect him. "Me coming up with the plan? Believable because I'm stupid and I have no forethought. Heck, even the Order of the Phoenix called me out on it right away, Dumbledore only placated me because he knew I would change my mind. But you? You're not stupid, and I just don't really understand why you need to do this."
"I need to do it," Bellatrix reaffirmed, not allowing Harry to go a moment thinking that he was swaying her. "I've been feeling this way for a while now. Feeling that I needed to do something, it's been growing every time I speak with Andromeda, every time I see Narcissa, every time I play with Nymphadora, every time you come home late at night half beaten to death."
"How come you never talked to me about it?" Harry inquired, having hoped that she would come to him if she were having these sorts of feelings. He was her husband, so the idea that she was having a moral dilemma and not talking to him about it was something that did not bring pleasure to his heart.
"Because I can't keep using you as my moral guide, I need to do things on my own," Bellatrix replied, aware that Harry couldn't be her light to break free from her darkness anymore—she had to do it herself. "I'm a strong person, I need to be strong here."
"You are strong," Harry agreed, not wanting her to think otherwise. "But why? Why is this so important to you?" He questioned, repeating himself once more, knowing that there was something else, though he couldn't quite place what it was.
Bellatrix looked down once more, before looking back up at Harry. "And then there is the practical truth of all of this, in addition to all of that," she murmured, her voice filled with the emotion that was welling up inside of her.
"Which is?" Harry prodded, seeing the change in her countenance immediately.
"If I do nothing and you don't come home one night, how do you think I'm going to be able to live with myself?" Bellatrix answered, her heart dropping at the just the idea of Harry dying. "If I sit on my bum and watch you do all the work and something terrible happens, I will never, ever be able to forgive myself. My life would be as good as over at that point."
"Nothing is going to happen to me," Harry assured her, though he realized how hypocritical he was being in saying that. He couldn't guarantee that, just as she couldn't guarantee she would be safe as a Death Eater.
Bellatrix gave him a nod and a small smile, knowing that they were simple words of comfort and nothing more. "I answered your questions, now answer mine," Bellatrix started, turning the questions on him. "Why did you allow me to do it? You gave in quicker than I anticipated."
"Honestly?" He asked, and upon seeing her raise an eyebrow, said, "I was hoping Dumbledore wouldn't allow it. I never expected him to be okay with it because it's, and I'm being honest, a really stupid plan. Me trying to be a spy was dumber, granted, but this is still stupid. And when he agreed, it kind of changed things. I realized that you would probably go off and do it on your own, and I thought that it would be better for us if we did it together as a team, rather than you being by yourself."
"So you wanted Dumbledore to stop me because you didn't want to tell me no?" Bellatrix gave a snort at that, realizing just how like Harry that sounded—fearful of her wrath.
"I was trying to stop an argument," Harry honestly replied with a shrug. "I knew if he said no, you would accept it more than if I did. If I said no, you'd run off and do it anyway, but him? It might have been different."
"You really don't want me to do it?" Bellatrix questioned, wanting his truthful opinion on the matter, not one that was marked by his fear and anger at her actions the night prior.
"No, I do not," Harry said, shaking his head in the negative. "I'm proud of you for wanting to help, don't get me wrong, but this...it's stupid. This will not end well for you, for me, or for our marriage. And that's all I really care about in the end. You, me, our family, future Asteria, that's all that matters."
A small smile played at Bellatrix's lips at the mention of their future daughter as quickly as it disappeared. "If things go south, I promise I'll flee," Bellatrix assured him, promising that, if anything was wrong, anything at all, that she would immediately escape from the situation.
"And go where?" Harry questioned, skeptical that they would be able to hide from Voldemort as thoroughly as they would need without Dumbledore's help.
"We'll use the Fidelius Charm or something," Bellatrix shrugged, though Harry could see she wasn't as nonchalant about it as she seemed—she had a plan, she just didn't want to reveal it to him just yet. "Just give me until Easter."
"That's three months," Harry said quietly, counting the days in his head, trying not to think of all the possibilities that could go wrong. "Can you handle that?"
"Can you, is the question?" Bellatrix replied, fully aware that it would be just as hard on him as it would be on her.
"I wish you could do it in a month, as a month is all you should be around them," Harry returned, willing to concede a shorter time, though he knew she would be under for three months with or without his permission. "Figure out who else is a Death Eater from those I already know, see if you can find out where the horcrux is, and figure out any future plans and then we'll have Frank and Alice arrest you and throw you into Azkaban or we can fake your death or something."
"That's a lot to do in so short of time, but if that's what you want, that's what we'll do," Bellatrix agreed, happy that Harry seemed to be willing to work with her on it, rather than ignore it and hoped it went away. "Three months."
They went silent for a few moments, each eating their breakfast as they contemplated the conversation. Harry understood what Bellatrix needed from this, full closure from the darkness that her life was leading towards before she met him. She needed that door closed entirely, or else she felt that she would fall off the wagon sooner or later. Meanwhile, Bellatrix understood why Harry was so against it—he was afraid. He was afraid that he would lose her to the beliefs and ideals that had ruled her life up until she met him, and by being around those ideals once more, it would revert her to her previous mindset.
"I know we won't be together very much until this is all over," Bellatrix slowly started, her purple gaze meeting Harry's. "But I promise, I will always be next to you in our bed at the end of the day, okay?"
Harry's heart dropped at the idea of her not being next to him, and for a moment, there was a frown on his face, but he quickly shook his head, not wanting to think of such horrors. "Alphard's going very lonely around here, what with me doing the Order thing and you spending your days around crazy murderers," he said, changing the subject, realizing how their life would change how Alphard lived, as well.
"We'll figure it out," Bellatrix said, reaching across the table and rubbing Harry's hand in a comforting manner.
"I believe it," Harry agreed, steeling his heart to the idea of Bellatrix being a Death Eater. They would get through this, and when Voldemort was gone from the world, they would be happier and stronger as a couple for it. "And as for Alphard, I think I have an idea to keep him from being lonely. I know just the house elf for the job."
The next night found Bellatrix placing her mask upon her face, pulling her hood above her head, and disapparating from her home, arriving a moment later in the basement of a manor house that was owned by a Death Eater, though she did not know whom. She quickly took her place in a circle of other black cloaked-people, each of whom were looming large over as a threat as any misstep by her could end her life. She was surrounded by Death Eaters, as a Death Eater in the center of the circle, whom Bellatrix believed to be Rodel Lestrange. She knew that Rodel Lestrange, father to Rodolphus and Rabastan, was part of a group of Death Eaters named the Knights of Walpurgis that had been loyal to Lord Voldemort before any others had joined, so the idea that he would take over for Pyrites was unsurprising to her. There were a few Death Eaters that dared to speak, but each quickly went silent as a tall wizard strode in from the door across the room.
"He's here again," Evan Rosier whispered from under his mask, his eyes gazing upon the Dark Lord as the taller wizard made his way through the ranks.
"Something must be going on," Rabastan returned, earning the attention of Bellatrix on the opposite side of Evan.
"Why do you say that?" She whispered back, wondering why the pair were confused by the Dark Lord's appearance, having always assumed that Voldemort was at every meeting.
"We don't usually see him unless someone is being initiated, and no one is tonight," Evan replied quickly, informing his cousin of the various intricacies of being a Death Eater. "It's usually run by Pyrites, or sometimes Rabastan's father."
Bellatrix cocked an eyebrow from under her mask, confused by that knowledge. "You don't see him all the time?"
"The Dark Lord is busy," Rabastan replied, keeping his voice as low as he could. "I've only seen him a handful of times, each one scared me half to death."
"Busy with what?" Bellatrix inquired, though they did not get a chance to answer as Voldemort took his place in the center of the circle, sending Rodel back to his spot in between Avery and Bellatrix's maternal uncle.
Voldemort said nothing of value throughout the short meeting, only insisting on the Death Eaters continue their assignments before adjourning for the night. As the Death Eaters broke the circle, a Death Eater appeared from the other side of the room, having missed the meeting, though Voldemort had made no mention of being displeased with the absence. "Hello Bellatrix," Rodolphus Lestrange said, walking up to the witch as the other Death Eaters apparated away to their homes.
"It's been a while, Rodolphus," Bellatrix returned, recognizing the voice immediately, inwardly wondering what the purpose of the masks and cloaks were if everyone knew each other anyway.
"Two years or so," Rodolphus agreed, nodding his head under his robes. "It's good to see you where you belong. I'm sorry I missed you last meeting, I just arrived back in the country a few minutes ago."
"You knew I'd be here eventually," replied Bellatrix, trying to think of a way to exit the conversation, feeling ill-prepared to talk to the wizard that had an unrequited fascination with her. She ignored his statement about being out of the country, not wanting to arouse suspicion and believing that, if she played it smart, he'd eventually tell her about it without her prodding.
"I had hoped," Rodolphus laughed, before taking a step away from her. "I'll see you later."
"Of course," Bellatrix agreed, giving him a wave and apparating away, where she appeared in the backyard between Alphard's apartment and the house. She used her wand and banished her mask, while transforming her black cloak into a purple one, not wanting to appear to Harry in her Death Eater robes.
"You're home early," Harry said as the back door opened and revealed his wife. He was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper and drinking some tea, having assumed she would be gone for another hour or two.
"It was a quick meeting, but one that gave some insight into how I should go about this," returned Bellatrix, taking off her cloak and tossing it onto the chair as she grabbed some food from the icebox. She tapped her wand onto the plate and instantly the food was hot, as if it had just come out of the oven. "I don't think I'm going to say anything until another Death Eater is marked, at least nothing substantial. I don't think it'll be wise."
"Fair," Harry nodded in understanding, seeing the intelligence of that. "I want you safe, so keep the specifics limited until the suspicion is off you."
"Okay, with that being said, I've learned something from Evan," Bellatrix started, her brow furrowed in thought as she tried to remember the meeting exactly as it happened. "I don't think Voldemort is around very much."
Harry gave his wife a curious glance, confused as to why she came to that conclusion. "What makes you say that?"
"Evan said as a much when he let slip that Hektor Pyrites was the one that led the meetings," Bellatrix answered. "Now that he's locked away, Voldemort has apparently been coming more, which is scaring some of the younger Death Eaters. He told them at the meeting prior to my joining that he wanted them to find new recruits."
"So they are recruiting," Harry said quietly, happy to have learned that the Order suspicions were correct and that the various actions the Death Eaters had taken over the past few months were solely to garner fear to gain followers, rather than preceding a much grander plan. "We had heard about it, but now we know, it shows that Voldemort is reeling from his defeats. They don't get reported, but he's losing a lot of his followers since the Aurors are starting to use the Unforgiveables."
Bellatrix's head jerked over to Harry, her face clearly showing her surprise at the proclamation. "When did that happen?"
"A couple of months ago, after Barty Crouch took over the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," explained Harry, having heard about the change in the rule from Alice and Frank, each of whom weren't pleased with Barty Crouch's newly imposed rules. "So do you think Pyrites had the horcrux in Gringotts?"
"Too soon to tell, but I don't know, since Voldemort hasn't been around very much, I assume that's what he's working on right now, no?" Bellatrix opined, not being able to think of another reason that would make Voldemort busy enough as to not be able to appear at his own meetings. "So perhaps he hasn't given it to anyone, but if he had, it might be someone in his past, a Death Eater from the first group."
"Like?" Harry prodded, wanting Bellatrix to continue with her thoughts.
"Don't know yet, but I'll find out," Bellatrix said in a resolved tone.
"I mean, Malfoy already had his horcrux, so I presume all the horcruxes are created and ready to be deployed," Harry said with a bit of a shrug, then adding, "Though, the cave one still isn't there, so perhaps I'm incorrect in that assessment, but if I am, then why did Malfoy get the diary if Pyrites is the more important Death Eater?"
"Galleons, probably," Bellatrix answered as she started to eat once more. "Pyrites is a good wizard, but Malfoy's Gringotts vault can do his talking for him."
Just then, there was a loud knocking sound that travelled throughout the house, as if someone was loudly knocking on the roof to announce their presence. Sure enough, a small house elf appeared next to the table. "Bustle has come as Master Harry asked," Bustle said with a small smile, nervous to hear the reason for Harry writing to him via owl.
"Thanks Bustle, it's great to see you," Harry said, flicking his gaze down to the elf. "You remember Bellatrix, my wife." Bellatrix made a movement with her eyebrows to acknowledge the elf's presence, but continued on eating as if nothing was happening.
"Master Harry really does live in Mistress Lycoris' house," Bustle said, his tennis ball-like eyes moving all around the room as tears began to well up. "Bustle misses his home."
"Well, I'm hoping to change that, Bustle," Harry started, seeing how the elf was reacting. "Would you like to come work here? You'll be taking care of Lycoris' nephew, Alphard, who lives in the apartment behind the house; we do most of our own cooking, so really, you'll just be keeping him company and taking care of the house if he needs it."
"Master Harry wants Bustle to work for him!" Bustle squealed, happy at the mere idea of working around Harry.
"If you want to, yes," Harry grinned, unsurprised by Bustle's enthusiasm as the elf had always said he wanted to work for Harry. "What are your terms?"
Bustle looked up at Harry, his face full of confusion. "Terms?"
"You are going to get paid, Bustle, I want to see what it is that you want," Harry replied, not wanting the elf to even think that he would be working for free.
"No, no, no, Bustle must not be paid, Bustle is honored to work for Master Harry, but…" Bustle started, before pausing, realizing that he did indeed want something. "Bustle would like his old room back, if Master Harry does not mind."
"Old room?" Harry asked, wondering which room was Bustle's in the past.
"The room in the basement behind the fireplace!" Bustle answered excitedly, thrilled at the chance to see his old room once more. "Mistress Lycoris insisted that the room be built without a door so Bustle could feel like it was his own, which is why Master Harry may not know about it."
"You're right, I had no idea there was a room behind there," Harry shrugged, having never really ventured down into the basement except for the few times that Alphard needed help down there. As far as he knew, it was a den that was primarily used for storage, though it was spacious and had a fireplace on the far wall that created a nice ambiance. "It's yours, of course."
Bustle and Harry then went to the backyard, where they met Alphard. Alphard and Bustle immediately hit it off, Bustle remarking how Alphard reminded him of Lycoris. While Alphard stayed hesistant to accept Bustle's help, knowing it was to keep him company, the older wizard did not voice any complaints, so with that, Harry allowed the pair to get to know each other more as he crossed the backyard and entered his own home. Before long, Harry and Bellatrix headed to bed, fully aware that Voldemort would call once more soon enough.
Sure enough, two days later found Bellatrix back in her Death Eater robes as the Death Eater meeting was just wrapping up. "Bellatrix," a male voice said, barely trying to hide his identity from her at all, instead allowing her to know who it was by his voice alone.
"Good to see you again, Rodolphus," Bellatrix replied, giving him a slight nod of her head. "I'm glad you're back for good it seems."
"Not for good, I'm waiting for my next assignment from the Dark Lord as we speak," Rodolphus smiled, hoping to impress her over the fact that he was personally in contact with the Dark Lord.
"Is that so?" Bellatrix returned. Showing a little more enthusiasm on the outside than she was feeling on the inside.
Bellatrix looked at Rodolphus' mask, just making out his gaze from under the hood. She knew she could use his desire for her to gain more information, as he was still asking about her to Narcissa even though she explicitly told him it was not going to happen nearly a year prior. If she could gain the information she needed, perhaps details about Voldemort's favored minions or various activities that she was not privy to, perhaps she could find something that would allow the Order of the Phoenix to end the war against Voldemort more quickly.
Silently, he grabbed his arm above his cloak. "The Dark Lord calls," Rodolphus said, in a tone that Bellatrix could just make out as bragging, as if he was telling her simply to try and make her jealous, as if his greatness was something that not many could reach, including herself.
"I'll be here," Bellatrix blankly answered, hoping to gain some good will so he would be more open to revealing the secrets that he may have about the Dark Lord and the various goings-on of the Death Eaters.
Rodolphus nodded, and walked down the hallway that led to Voldemort's private quarters. With a deep breath, he entered the room with his head parallel to the ground. The walls were made of stone and in the center sat a throne-like chair, with black wood and purple cushions. "Hello, my lord," Rodolphus said as he bowed in front of the seated Dark Lord.
"Rodolphus, welcome," Voldemort replied as he twirled his wand in his right hand. "I hope being back home finds you well."
"It does, my lord, but I live to serve you," Rodolphus returned, unsurprised at Voldemort's kind words as he always honored those that pleased him as greatly as he punished those that displeased him.
"Who is waiting for you outside?" Voldemort said, noticing that Rodolphus' thoughts were on another.
"Bellatrix, my liege, I was speaking with her before you summoned me and I did not believe it to be out of my turn to keep her around while I rushed to your side," Rodolphus answered, feeling confident enough in his place amongst the Death Eaters to speak openly with the Dark Lord.
"Bring her in," Voldemort said, motioning towards the door, allowing the wizard to retrieve the witch from the hall.
Silently, Rodolphus got to his feet and left the room for a moment, before returning with the hooded and cloaked woman. "You called for me, my lord?" Bellatrix asked, as she joined Rodolphus in bowing in front of the Dark Lord.
"You were with Dumbledore's grandson, correct?" Voldemort questioned knowingly, hoping to gather more information about Dumbledore via his grandson.
"Not his grandson, no, my lord," Bellatrix started, making sure to keep her eyes on the floor. "His great-nephew, the grandson of Dumbledore's brother."
"How did Lord Voldemort not know about such a nephew?" Voldemort questioned, though Bellatrix didn't know if it was more rhetorical than anything else. "For as long as Lord Voldemort has known Dumbledore, no mention of such a nephew, let alone a brother, has slipped through the wizened lips of my enemy."
"Dumbledore does not get along with his brother, my lord, and the pair have not spoken to each other in a long time," Bellatrix replied honestly, knowing that the truth would prove sufficient of an answer. She could feel Voldemort in the back of her mind, prodding her thoughts, searching for the truth as she herself answered his question. "As far as I am aware, no one at Hogwarts knew about Harry prior to his arrival."
"Interesting," Voldemort said quietly, not finding anything contradictory in Bellatrix's memories. "Have you met Dumbledore's brother? Do you know where he is?"
"No, my lord, I have not met the man and I am not even aware if he is still alive," Bellatrix said, answering in ignorance this time, having never spoken to or of Aberforth prior to that night. "They made no mention of him in my presence."
Voldemort weighed that information, disappointed that she did not know anything more about Dumbledore's brother, but not outwardly upset. "How good of a wizard is this grand-nephew?" Voldemort questioned, wanting the witch's view on the wizard. "He was the one that captured Pyrites, whom Lord Voldemort had deemed worthy of personal lessons."
"He is a fine wizard, my lord," Bellatrix admitted, though hoping she wouldn't have to say anything more than the bare minimum as the thought of Harry made her occlumency skills waiver due to her deep feelings for him. "He is skilled in a few facets of magic, but underdeveloped in others."
"An equal to you?" Lord Voldemort inquired, rising to his feet for the first time. "I have heard good things about you, Bellatrix. It is why I let you into the fold even though you have a questionable history."
"I live to serve, my lord," Bellatrix quickly said, not wanting even a hint of disloyalty from her being in Voldemort's mind. If he questioned her desire to serve him, even in the slightest way, it would put more attention on her than she was willing to have, which would prevent her from divulging any information to Harry in order preserve her own life.
"We shall see," Voldemort replied, before turning his gaze over to his other servant, who had remained silent up until that point. "Would you like another mission, Rodolphus? You did very well in your last one, I feel it only right you receive another honor. If you continue pleasing Lord Voldemort, you will be honored above all."
"Anything you wish, my liege," Rodolphus said, inwardly giddy at the prospect of Bellatrix seeing Voldemort honor him.
"The trolls on Man, I wish for them to create discord," Voldemort ordered, hoping Rodolphus could sway them as he did the giants. "Go to them, recruit them, direct them to create the chaos that Lord Voldemort seeks."
"As you please, my liege," Rodolphus said, bowing his head in agreement. Underneath his mask, he had a large, proud smile on his face, as he knew that his hope of being known as Voldemort's most loyal and powerful servant was becoming more and more possible each day.
"Good, you two are dismissed," Voldemort said, allowing the pair of Death Eaters to leave for the night.
Quickly, the two got to their feet and scurried out of the door, not intending on saying around the Dark Lord any longer than they needed. "Looks like you made a name for yourself," Bellatrix said as they exited the room and began walking down the hallway to the large den that served as the meeting room for the Death Eaters.
"Becoming a Death Eater was the best thing that ever happened to me," Rodolphus said, as the large smile started to take shape on his masked face once more. "I will be the leader of the Death Eaters in Pyrites place in no time."
"You seem more assertive than you were when I knew you," Bellatrix opined, noticing the change in his personality. He seemed less brutish and more thoughtful, as if he had a plan to gain the power he desired and was using all of his skills and talents to pursue it, even if the plan ended up being ridiculous.
"I bring honor to my name with each mission I take on," Rodolphus explained, puffing out his chest a bit, which earned a slight roll of the eyes from Bellatrix. "I have become an even greater success than my father."
"So it appears," Bellatrix drawled, only making conversation with the wizard in order to be able to use him in the future to gain more information. She disliked him in every way, his boorish nature being something that made her inwardly cringe at the lack self-awareness that came with it. "Well, until next time, Rodolphus."
"Wait," Rodolphus said, putting his hands up to stop her. "Do you want to come with me? Rabastan and a few others are joining me for a nightcap for my return. I was too tired a few nights ago, so we pushed it off until tonight."
"I shouldn't, I need to get home, it's been a long day," Bellatrix replied, not at all wanting to see him outside of what was absolutely necessary.
Rodolphus paused for a moment in thought, before saying, "Where are you living now?"
"I have a flat in Manchester," Bellatrix said, though immediately flinched at the revelation, knowing that she might have made a mistake in admitting it. While Rodolphus might not look into it, if he were to mention it to someone that would, which could be detrimental if someone saw her and Harry together in Manchester.
"Well, I'll be around," Rodolphus said, taking his mask off to reveal his face for the first time. He looked older, but generally had the same dull, thin face. He wore a cocky smile, which made Bellatrix roll her eyes once again. "Have a good night, Bellatrix."
"Same to you," Bellatrix said politely, before disapparating. Rodolphus stared at the spot she just left for a few moments, before apparating away himself, truly believing it was only a matter of time before Bellatrix came around to him.
Bellatrix, meanwhile, arrived on the doorstep of Alphard's house a few moments later, swishing her wand over the body and transforming her clothes back into their normal appearance. She entered through the door, and upon hearing voices in the kitchen, she headed that way, her stomach growling a bit in hunger as she hadn't eaten lunch or dinner that day. "Good evening," Bellatrix said, entering the kitchen where she saw Harry standing over a stove listening to Alphard talk from the kitchen table.
"Hello niece," Alphard smiled as he watched Harry kiss his wife on the cheek.
"How'd it go tonight?" Harry questioned, a hint of worry in his voice though he hid it well.
"He asked about you," Bellatrix replied, sitting down at the table next to Alphard as Harry cooked them both a meal. Her uncle poured her a glass of iced tea, which she accepted with a large gulp which abated her parched throat.
"Oh?" Harry smiled, enjoying the feeling that for once Voldemort had no idea about him or who he really was. "About?"
"How good of a wizard you are, how he didn't know who you were, about Albus and Aberforth," Bellatrix replied easily as she took off her outer robe and placed it down onto the chair next to her. "Sounded like you really bothered him by beating Pyrites."
"How did you answer all of that?" Harry's smile faded a bit, seeing the seriousness of the situation.
"I don't know much about Albus or Aberforth, so don't worry," Bellatrix answered with a shrug, having never met Aberforth Dumbledore. "And as for your skill as a wizard, I said you were good in some ways, weak in others, but didn't specify further than that."
Harry nodded as he bit his lip in thought, wondering why Voldemort was suddenly so interested in the Dumbledore family. "Learn anything in return?"
"No," Bellatrix said, shaking her head, not revealing that something would be going on in regards to the Isle of Man, knowing that it was probably a test for her on Voldemort's part. "But soon enough. He keeps asking for more Death Eaters with the expectation that there will new ones by Easter, so I'll be able to divulge everything soon."
"Soon enough," Harry smiled, though it didn't quite reach his soul. He was still worried about Bellatrix's safety, so the idea of having to go a few more months did not sit well with him, but he knew that, for the time being, Bellatrix was entrenched in her plan.
Bellatrix took a sip of her iced tea, as her brows furrowed in thought. "How loyal was Rodolphus in your time?"
"He pissed away years of his life in Azkaban rather than deny working for Voldemort, so take that for what it is," Harry answered brutally honestly, allowing her to read into it for herself. "Why do you ask?"
"Just trying to categorize what I know from experience versus what you told me from the future," Bellatrix replied, adding, "Rodolphus has apparently devoted himself to the cause, so just wanted to know if that was a change from what was supposed to happen due to being kicked out of Hogwarts or not."
They all went silent after that, as Harry finished up the cooking and served them all. As they ate their dinner, there was a relaxed quietness to the meal with small talk here and there, but generally, they all kept to their own thoughts. An hour later found Bellatrix sitting in the living room, Alphard reading the paper in the corner as Bellatrix stared down at the parchment and quill that was in her hand. "You look perplexed," she heard Alphard say from across the room.
"Just thinking about things," Bellatrix returned, placing the quill down onto the end table next to the couch. "Do you know of any trolls on the Isle of Man, uncle?"
"Not particularly," Alphard shrugged, not aware if there were trolls on the island or not. "Should I?"
"No," Bellatrix said, shaking her head in the negative. "I was just curious."
"That's what the Dark Lord is going to do next?" Alphard asked, earning a slight nod from Bellatrix in response. "You're playing a dangerous game here, Bellatrix, be careful, okay? I would hate to lose my niece after becoming so close to you."
"This war will end sooner, I just need to do this," Bellatrix replied, though Alphard knew it was more for her peace of mind than for his own.
"Do you need to do it really?" Alphard inquired, though he didn't expect an answer. "Or is that you simply want to do it?" He noticed Bellatrix look down at the floor, and he immediately knew that his words had reached her. "Silver and gold, everyone wishes for silver and gold, but just remember, the gold ring around your finger means something more important than any words a silver-tongued devil may spout."
The next night found Bellatrix standing in the Death Eater circle, in between Rabastan and Evan, as Lucius Malfoy gave out orders straight from the Dark Lord's mouth. The Death Eaters were to meet in two days time, where they would attack a village in the south of England. Bellatrix did not know the immediate goal for the attack, but she understood that it was in an effort to gain supporters by spreading fear. The Death Eaters figured that if wizard and witches were scared for their families, they might be more willing to join in order to prevent any such attack on their homes.
After the meeting, Rabastan and the others invited her to a nightcap, which she reluctantly accepted in an effort to further ingratiate herself into the group. She wanted them to feel comfortable with her, where she could then use them to gather information she herself couldn't get without risking her own safety. She remembered how loyal they were to her back in Hogwarts, so she knew that they enjoyed her company as much as people like them could enjoy someone's company. With that in mind, she resumed her old, cutthroat personality that she used to have, hoping that the other Death Eaters that used to be her friends would start to become more comfortable with her being around more.
Before she knew it, the next night had arrived and with it her first mission as a Death Eater. She met with Rodolphus, Rabastan, and a few other of her former Slytherin friends and they all apparated to the location together. With her bone mask over her face and her walnut wand held tightly in her hand, she went off by herself, intending on being on the periphery of the attack, where she could do no harm and not be seen. She didn't want to use her magic at all, but if she did have to, she had a plan that was risky but hopefully would not get anyone injured.
The Order of the Phoenix, meanwhile, was just starting to respond to the attack. Harry, Edgar and Frank, who were all together at the time they were notified by a Patronus message from Alice, quickly grabbed their wands and apparated out, hoping to save whoever they could. When they arrived, there were Death Eaters all over the immediate vicinity, sowing the discord and terror that Voldemort had made a prerogative. As Edgar ran off to subdue a Death Eater that was animating a tree to destroy a house in the distance, Harry made his way into the throng, hoping to help anyway he could. He swished and flicked his wand, using his magic to overcome the various curses, jinxes and hexes that were flying through the air like fireworks. He quickly put out a fire that had overcome a row of hedges, preventing it from spreading to the house next door, before moving deeper into the thicket of the fight.
He turned and moved his gaze across the land, where he saw two Death Eaters standing apart from the others. His eyes met one of them, and almost immediately, the two made their way towards him. They both brandished their wands, making Harry raise his in response, as the duel started in full. The first attack that came from them was swift, though not particularly dangerous.
He flashed his wand and parried the attack, knocking one of the Death Eaters off their feet, leaving the thinner one to attack him on his or her own. The spells came fast and furiously, with the Death Eater being able to hold off Harry long enough for the other to regain his wits. Two on one Harry fought, as his mind started to wonder who the one Death Eater that was challenging to him was as he didn't know any Death Eater with that much talent. Again, and again, the thinner one tested him, never using an Unforgivable, but sending various dangerous and crippling curses nonetheless.
Before Harry could react, he was hit with a bright orange blast and he immediately felt the effects of his own spell. "Bellatrix," Harry whispered, realizing who it was that he was fighting for the first time. Knowing he had no other choice but to fight back in order to protect her cover and his own life, he lethargically flashed his wand towards the Death Eater and Bellatrix, transforming the ground beneath them into mud. He acted quickly as he felt his energy draining from him, and sent two Stunning Charms at the pair, but those were quickly deflected by a Shield Charm from Bellatrix's wand.
"We beat him," Rodolphus cackled as he saw Harry stumbling around and falling to one knee as he tried with all his might to stifle a yawn.
And Harry knew that he was probably correct: he was going to lose the duel. The purpose of the Sleepy Charm, he knew, was to take someone totally out of the duel for a brief moment, which granted an opening to the opponent to attack with all their might. With Bellatrix and another Death Eater across from him, he knew it was only a matter of time before he was hit with a Stunning Charm or a worse curse. Luckily, however, he felt a presence behind him and he turned his tired gaze over to it, where he saw Frank standing with his wand held out. Alice soon followed him, each stepping in front of Harry to protect him.
"Let's go," Bellatrix said, turning around and apparating away, leaving Rodolphus confused before he too disappeared with a twirl of his cloak.
"Are you okay?" Alice asked as she bent down to check on Harry.
"I'm fine, I was hit with my own spell," Harry answered lowly, his mind a bit foggy from what had taken place, as well as the symptoms of his spell.
"The Sleepy Charm? I thought only a few people knew it," Frank asked with a raised eyebrow, looking over at Harry. He swished his wand and a piece of chocolate appeared in front of Harry, chocolate that had been vanished by Frank months prior in order to help any member of the Order of the Phoenix that had been affected by a Dementor should one attack.
Harry took the piece of chocolate and ate it, feeling better as the chocolate began to take effect. "Yeah, you, me, James, Edgar, and..." Harry replied, before trailing off at the end, not wanting to admit the final person who knew the spell.
"And?" Frank prodded, assuming he knew who Harry was referencing, but wanting to make sure his first thought was right.
"My wife," Harry said bitterly, staring down at the spot of where Bellatrix just stood. Silently, he turned and went to try and help the muggles that had been injured, leaving Alice and Frank confused, before they too started to help. Most of the Death Eaters had retreated, though a few pockets of duels were still ongoing. However, before long, the muggle authorities had arrived, forcing the wizardingfolk to retreat in order to preserve secrecy.
An hour later found Harry sitting in the living room of his home, the fire from the fireplace the only source of light in the room. He heard the backdoor open and he knew Bellatrix had arrived home, though he stayed silent. "Harry?" Bellatrix said, seeing the fire blazing and the shadow of a man dancing on the wall behind him. The fire and the still alight Christmas tree that was in the corner were the only light in the entire house, creating a dark and eerie ambiance that chilled even Bellatrix.
Harry glanced over at his wife, before returning his gaze to the fire. "Hello."
"Are you mad?" Bellatrix questioned, seeing the look on his face and recognizing it as something that she had only seen once: in his memories of her from the Pensieve.
"You attacked me!" Harry exclaimed, rising to his feet, knowing that he needed to confront her over her actions.
"I have a plan, trust me," Bellatrix stated, having intended on using Harry's confusion to further sell her plan. "If I can build Rodolphus up so much that he looks indispensable, then perhaps Voldemort will give him the last Horcrux, allowing me access to it."
"That's dumb," Harry scowled, before shaking his head, not wanting his anger to cloud his reasoning. "So by having you two duel me, that somehow makes for your plan?"
"Yes!" Bellatrix exclaimed energetically, wanting Harry to see the path to ending the war for himself. "If I can make him look good while simultaneously making you look bad, not only will that get us closer to the Horcrux, but it'll also make you look less of a threat to Voldemort. If he thinks you just got lucky against Pyrites, he won't care about you or that I dated you."
"Why couldn't you tell me?" Harry asked, a bit hurt and worried that there seemed to be a distance to their relationship that hadn't been present before Bellatrix started spying on the Death Eaters. "I'm your husband, not some test subject in a science experiment."
"I wanted it to look real," Bellatrix said, walking over to him and wrapping her arms around Harry, who instinctively returned the gesture. "I love you, I knew you would be okay, so I took the risk."
"You have to warn me about these things, if this is going to work, I need to know what you're doing," Harry said lowly, as he brought Bellatrix's head closer to his chest.
"I will keep you informed of my plans from now on, I promise," Bellatrix returned as she closed her eyes. "And I'll make it up to you?"
"How?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow, before Bellatrix quickly grabbed his hand and rushed them up to their bedroom.
The next day, Harry found himself in Dumbledore's office in the early morning, planning on going to capture another Horcrux later in the day. "I hear Bustle has started working for you," the older wizard said, having conversed with the house-elf a few days prior about his leaving Hogwarts.
"He insisted that he come and talk to you before accepting," Harry smiled, recalling how Bustle was adamant in showing deference to Dumbledore, whom it appeared treated the house elves with such respect that they grew attached to him.
"He was a good worker," Dumbledore replied, happy that Bustle had found a home that he liked. He wanted all house elves to find a good home, and was not at all upset if they ever came to him to announce they were leaving Hogwarts—he expected it. "Anything else before you go?"
"How do you intend on destroying the horcruxes?" Harry asked as he got to his feet, curious as to how the venerable wizard would overcome the various protections.
"I was thinking of using alchemy, specifically brewing alkahest, which would dissolve all of the horcruxes into their base elemental materials, destroying the magic," Dumbledore replied, knowing that he had quite a few options but had yet to make a firm decision on the matter. "That, or maybe I'll just use Fiendfyre, either one."
Harry furrowed his brow, not familiar with what Dumbledore referenced. "What is alkahest?"
"The universal solvent, I learned how to create it during my work with Nicolas Flammel," Dumbledore answered, informing Harry on a subject of magic he was grossly ignorant about—alchemy. "It's a step away from azoth, the universal healing panacea, which itself is a step away from the creation of the Philosopher's Stone and therefore the Elixir of Life."
"How did he create the Philosopher's Stone?" Harry inquired, fully aware that Dumbledore probably didn't know himself, but wanting to see how the older wizard would answer.
Dumbledore stared at Harry before he burst out with laughter. "You really think he'd tell me that?" He said, unable to contain himself, earning a smile from Harry, having never seen the usual stoic wizard respond with such laughter. "All I know is that it's azoth with a few extra catalysts which is then solidified, but it's a secret he will forever hold to himself. I'm not even sure his wife knows, if I'm being honest."
"No, I didn't think you'd know," Harry said, then adding with a shrug, "But it was worth a try."
"Want to know the secret to the Elixir of Life?" Seeing Harry's nod, Dumbledore said, "Water. It's literally just water with the Philosopher's Stone in it.
"That seems unlikely," Harry replied, not knowing whether Dumbledore was telling the truth or not. After all, the Philosopher's Stone was known even in muggle circles, so the idea that the famed Elixir of Life was simply water with the stone in it seemed incredibly dubious—nothing ever came that easy in the world.
The older wizard gave a small smile, his blue eyes twinkling, before saying, "Fawkes will come to pick up the package later tonight. It'll keep you from having to travel with it."
"Sounds good," Harry agreed, before turning and heading towards the door. "You sure you don't want to come?"
"You can handle it," Dumbledore returned knowingly, having full faith in Harry's abilities. "Good luck."
"Thanks, I'll see you later," Harry waved, before opening the door and taking a step onto the stairs. He paused as a curious expression took shape on his face, before turning and entering the office again. "Sir, I have a question. If it came down to it and a Horcrux was in Gringotts, would that be a problem for you?"
Dumbledore stared back at Harry with a blank expression on his face. "Are you asking me if I could break into one of most highly secured places in the world, which has numerous spells, curses, and beasts around every corner to prevent someone from entering a vault that is guarded from such incursions, in order to steal a horcrux of Tom Riddle?"
"Yes," Harry nodded in the affirmative, having meant to imply just what Dumbledore said. "I know Voldemort has done it, so I was wondering..."
"It would not be a problem, no," Dumbledore smiled, earning a small grin in return from Harry, who silently nodded his head and left the Headmaster to himself.
Harry arrived at Diagon Alley a few moments later. He walked down the alley twice, wanting to make sure nothing was amiss, before taking his usual seat outside of Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. He took out the paper and started to read, wanting to appear as if he was just out on the alley for the day, not wanting any potential Death Eater to be suspicious. He stayed there for two hours before, feeling a bit hungry and knowing he had other work to do for the day, he started to pack up his things, intending on getting a bit to eat in the Leaky Cauldron.
"Fancy seeing you here," Regula Moonshine said as she saw Harry getting up from his seat outside of Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.
"Regula, it's been so long," Harry joked, knowing that the pair saw each other every couple of days because of the Order of the Phoenix.
"Two days is such a long time," Moonshine nodded sarcastically in faux agreement with his assessment. "What are you up to?"
"Just going to grab some lunch, what about you?" He questioned in return, before quickly adding, "Care to join me?"
"Sounds good," Moonshine agreed as they both made their way to the Leaky Cauldron.
They spent the next hour discussing various topics, a cordial and friendly vibe between them. Harry respected her ability as a witch immensely, having known that she was one of the better Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers that Hogwarts had ever and will ever have. She told him about her time as a Hit Wizard, the various criminals that she was forced to catch, which interested Harry a great deal. Eventually, the topic moved onto Death Eaters and Bellatrix, where Harry explained that Bellatrix had bitten down her blood purity ideals that she was raised on in order to become a person that Harry wanted to love.
"If I were to judge people by what they feel, I wouldn't be able to interact with anyone," Moonshine sighed, finishing off the last of her drink. "It's not black and white, some of the best people in the world still look at me like I'm an outcast-even some people in the Order of the Phoenix. Just because they think of me as dangerous, even if they don't say it out loud, doesn't mean they're not good people."
"People in the Order judge you?" Harry said in surprised tone, having always believed that the Order of the Phoenix was free from such beliefs.
"The few that know aren't always like you and Albus, Harry," Moonshine answered, revealing the truth about the situation that she rarely discussed. "You're rare. How many people look down at house elves yet hate the Death Eaters way of thinking? There is a lot of gray in this world."
Harry recalled even Sirius, who Harry knew to be a fine man, looked down at house elves in regards to Kreacher, yet had said not a year prior that you can see a person's worth by how they treat their inferiors, rather than their equals. "I'm sorry you've had to go through that."
"I'm not," Moonshine smiled as they got to their feet, having finished their lunch ten minutes prior. "I'm happy, I've grown up with it, so it's not a new thing for me."
Harry nodded and put his cloak on, knowing that it was a bit chilly outside. "How many people know what I know?"
"Know? Not many, but there were so many rumors when I went to Hogwarts that a lot of people suspect," Moonshine answered, recalling when an ex-boyfriend had spread the rumor around Hogwarts that she was green underneath her clothes. "I mean, I just left Hogwarts six years ago, so it's not like it's deep in the past."
Harry paused what he was doing, his gaze jetting over to her. "Wait, what?" Harry said with wide eyes, surprised at what she had said. "You're that young?
"How old did you think I was?" Moonshine laughed, having always assumed that Harry knew her general age and understood that was why she enjoyed his company—they were around the same age compared to others in the Order of the Phoenix. "I only worked as a Hit Wizard for three years. And it took a year to complete the training. I've worked as a teacher for another two. I only took the job because Albus asked me when he was having trouble finding someone, even though I felt I was totally underqualified."
"You said four years in our last conversation about it," Harry joked, recalling the conversation that had happened in her office at Hogwarts a year prior after Harry had saved her life in Diagon Alley.
"I was including my training in that, Merlin," Regula jokingly rolled her eyes, feigning annoyance.
"I'm not sure I can ever trust you again now," Harry grinned, earning a laugh from the older witch.
"What are you up to the rest of the day?" Moonshine questioned as they walked towards the Disapparition point in the alley behind the Leaky Cauldron.
"Order business," Harry answered cryptically. "What about you? Grading papers?"
"Not today," Moonshine smiled, happy to have the rest of the day off. "Their next assignments aren't due until after the new year."
"You want to come with me? I could always use an extra hand," Harry suggested, wanting to see if the talented witch wanted to help him procure the next horcrux. While he wasn't going to tell her what it was, he knew having another person around would help him overcome any obstacles that Voldemort may have placed on the location.
"I have time, sure," Moonshine nodded, allowing Harry to take her hand in his own and disapparate the pair to just outside of Little Hangleton, where a dilapidated shack loomed in front of them. They were protected by a row of hedges, allowing them relative privacy from the prying eyes of the muggles in the town below. "This is where you wanted to go?"
It took a bit but Moonshine was finally able to see the building that was half-hidden amongst the jungle of vines and trunks. The trees that were growing nearby blocked all light and prevented the occupants of the shack from viewing the valley below. The shack itself was barely able to stand as its walls were mossy and so many tiles had fallen off the roof that the rafters were visible in places. Weeds grew all around it, growing so high that they reached the windows, which themselves were tiny and thick with grime. The chimney on the roof was cracked, with the stone chipping away, creating a small hole in it that seemed to allow birds to nest. Overall, as she pulled her eyes away from the shack and over to Harry, Moonshine couldn't help but wonder whether they were at the right place at all.
"This is it," Harry nodded, running his gaze over the shack. He turned and looked in the distance to where he saw the Riddle Manor, which gave him a shudder of displeasure as memories of his duel with Voldemort came rushing to the forefront of his mind. He had come here less than a week prior to scout out the location, and had immediately recognized the graveyard that he had once been in on that fateful night where Voldemort had returned in his own time. "What we're about to do must stay between us, understood? There are only a few people in the world who know this."
"You have my word," Moonshine promised, not willing to divulge any information that may harm the Order of the Phoenix. "This place feels...dark." She let out a shiver, though did not know if it was because of the cold or the darkness that hovered around the shack.
"That's because it is," Harry responded, taking out his wand and walking up the dirt path until he reached the door. With his wand, he tapped the doorknob, saying the spell in his mind, and it immediately opened slowly with a groan. "After you," Harry said, taking a step out and allowing Moonshine to enter first.
"Such a gentleman," Moonshine said with a sideways glance. "Thank you for allowing a witch such as myself to go into a cursed house filled with all sorts of dark magic, black spells, and probably a few dangerous creatures. How very chivalrous of you," she teased, before grabbing her wand and entering the house. Almost immediately, she was hit with a gust of stale air as dust swirled all around her with each step she took, making her cough as she tried to breath.
"My aunt and uncle taught me manners, what can I say?" Harry replied with a laugh, before covering his mouth as he too tried to get used to the air.
"Not your parents?" Moonshine asked nonchalantly, as she held up her wand in a defensive manner, sensing something dark was inside the house, though she couldn't quite pinpoint it just yet.
"They were killed by Voldemort when I was a baby," Harry answered, revealing to her that Voldemort had played a bigger role in his life than he let on.
"Oh, sorry, I...had no idea," Regula said in return, frowning slightly, feeling a tad awkward for even bringing it up.
"No problem, very few know," Harry said, before jumping out of the way of a group of bats that had flown out of a hole in the ceiling and out of the door, seemingly fleeing from the house. "Gross."
Moonshine had rushed further into the shack in an effort to avoid the bats, allowing her a greater chance to see what was inside. "Does someone live here?"
"No, why do you say that?" Harry asked, wondering what would make her think that. As far as Harry was aware, the cottage had been empty since the 1940s, having been lived in last by Voldemort's uncle, Morfin, and being avoided by everyone inside of Little Hangleton since many around the area thought it was haunted.
"Then why is there a fire roaring?" Moonshine said, pointing to the fireplace, where a bright orange fire was burning.
"There was no smoke from the chimney," Harry replied with furrowed brow, perplexed as to how a fire could be present. "And it's been empty for thirty years. Then again, it's not like there are stockings hung by the chimney with care, so maybe it is still empty like I thought and the fire has simply been there for that long."
"Smokeless Gubraithian fire?" Moonshine gasped with wide eyes, realizing the skill that it would take to conjure such magic—it was not something that a normal wizard or witch could do. "That's really, really difficult."
"Only a handful in the country could do it," Harry nodded with a small smirk, relieved that the fire basically confirmed that Voldemort had been there. "Dumbledore and Voldemort."
Moonshine looked around her environment, a dawning look appearing on her face as she started to put things together. "This is Voldemort's house, isn't it?"
"His family's, long since left in the past," Harry agreed, informing Regula of just where they were. "The Gaunts."
"He's related to the Gaunts?" Moonshine asked, recognizing the name. While the name itself had died out years prior, it had a historical relevance that anyone with a modicum of wizarding history knowledge would be able to remember in one way or another.
"Yeah, why?" Harry inquired, wondering what was on her mind.
"Old family, I thought they died out a century ago," Moonshine shrugged, specifically recognizing the name from various textbooks about a dark wizard from the late middle ages. "What are we looking for, I mean, magic wise?"
"Anything that seems to be guarding something," Harry answered, not really having any idea where inside the shack Voldemort would hide a horcrux.
They each moved around the small cottage with their wands in hand, looking for any sign of magic. As Harry moved towards the wall that held the fire, he motioned towards the flames, before a jet of orange fire came flying out. The flames formed into a fire snake that slithered on the ground but did not burn the surroundings. It attacked Harry, forcing him to jump into the air to avoid the strike. Landing a few feet away, he slashed his wand towards the snake, sending a jet of water at it, which did not do anything.
"Fiendfyre?" Moonshine said, unsurprised that the water did not extinguish the flames.
"Certainly not chestnuts roasting on an open fire," Harry returned, dodging to the left as the snake attempted to strike him. Quickly, just as more flame monsters were starting to form, Harry twisted his wand towards the snake, which transformed into sand for a brief moment before dissipating away.
Likewise, Moonshine did the same, and before they knew it, all of the various monsters made by flames started to disappear. With one last twist of the wand, the gubraithain fire that was in the fireplace itself was put out, leaving only the pristine logs and pot that hovered above them as evidence that a fire was even there.
Almost immediately, a screech rang out throughout the shack, forcing Harry and Regula to cover their ears. "Do you hear what I hear?"
"That absurd screeching sound," Harry growled as he turned his attention her way. "Yeah, I think all of Scotland hears it, too."
Moonshine opened her mouth to respond, but the sound died down as a black cloak-like thing came flying out of the chimney. "Do you see what I see?"
The sound of the cloak drew Harry's attention, and for the first time, he realized what Moonshine was getting at with her questions. "A lethifold," Harry said, eyeing the dark creature as it circled around them.
Silently, he gripped his wand and sent out a jet of silvery smoke, with coalesced into a large stag. The stag chased after the lethifold, running it down and stabbing the small dark cloak with its silver antlers. The lethifold seemingly screeched, though neither Harry nor Regula could see a mouth, before flying up into the hole in the ceiling, where the bats had originally came out minutes prior. With the lethifold gone, the stag disappeared in a puff of smoke, allowing Harry to turn his attention back to the fireplace.
They both stepped forward, before hitting an invisible shield that prevented them from moving closer to the fireplace. "Shall we?" Regula said as she twirled her wand, intending on taking down all of the enchantments that had suddenly appeared after the lethifold attacked.
They each performed spells one after another, seemingly completing each spell without needing to talk to the other. One by one the various curses, hexes and jinxes disintegrated under their might, the dark magic that surrounded the fireplace slowly but surely retreating. With one final rush of spells, the last of the protections fell, leaving the fireplace safe to approach once more.
"Good work, you always were my best student," Moonshine grinned, having always noticed Harry's talent, albeit it only came out in very specific circumstances.
"I had a good teacher," Harry replied easily, attempting to return the praise.
"Careful, you might make me blush," Moonshine returned playfully, not wanting Harry to think that she was fishing for a compliment.
"What? Oh, sorry, I meant Professor Dumbledore," Harry laughed, heading towards the fireplace once more.
"With that wit, are you sure you were meant to be in Ravenclaw?" Moonshine retorted, though Harry could tell she wasn't offended.
"I'm probably more of a Gryffindor if we are being honest here," Harry said, bending down to see just what the Fiendfyre was protecting. There was a large stone underneath the pot, so with a flick of his wand, he sent the pot levitating away in order to get a better look.
He pulled up the stone from the fireplace to reveal a rotting wooden floor underneath. Using his wand, he peeled the wood back to show a brilliant silver jewelry box. Before he could reach for the box, however, a dementor suddenly appeared out of floor, forcing Harry to stumble backwards as his greatest fear stared back at him in the face.
Immediately, he heard voices in his mind. He heard his father ordering his mother to run, he heard his mother's scream, and he heard Bellatrix calling out to him. His worst, most horrid memories came rushing at him, making him relive them over and over again. Though he was still standing, his legs were shaking, seemingly allowing him to stay upright, albeit just barely. Again and again, the images attacked his mind, showing him the worst ideas and thoughts that were locked away deep in the recesses of his brain.
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry heard Moonshine say, and the voices in his mind disappeared, allowing him to regain his wits.
"Riddikulus!" Harry exclaimed, pointing his wand at the dementor, knowing that it was a boggart, rather than the actual dark being. Instantly, the dementor transformed into a puppet with large eyes and green fur, before turning its attention over to Moonshine. Just as it transformed into a hideous hag, Harry waved his wand and the hag vanished in a puff of smoke. "Thanks for the dementor."
"Of course," Moonshine said, giving Harry a small smile in return. "Shall we see what that boggart was protecting?"
Harry nodded and stepped forward, bending down with his wand in his hand. He gently tapped the silver box a few times, disenchanting any spells or curses that may have been on the outside of the box, before picking it up and lifting it out of the floor. With the box in hand, he got back to his feet and turned towards Moonshine, wanting them both to see what was inside. Before they could open it, however, there was a flash of flames in the corner, and Fawkes appeared in order to take the horcrux away.
"You came quickly," Harry laughed, surprised at the sudden appearance of the bird. He used his wand and conjured a piece of parchment, a bottle of ink and a quill, and wrote a note on the counter in the kitchen:
A late Christmas present for you from Father Christmas. Happy New Year,
He handed both the note and the box over to Fawkes, who took each in his respective talons. With one loud screech goodbye, the bird disappeared in another flash of flames, leaving the witch and the wizard alone once more. "Well, that was fun," Harry laughed, turning around to face Moonshine. "Thank you for your help."
"My pleasure," Moonshine returned as they headed towards the door. "What was in that box, if you don't mind me asking?"
Harry weighed his answer for a moment, trying to decide whether he should inform her about horcruxes or not. "Do you know what a horcrux is?"
"Should I know what a horcrux is?" Moonshine said, raising an eyebrow, having never heard that word before.
"Not unless you want to be a Dark Lord," Harry shrugged, knowing that most people could live their entire lives without even hearing the word and be all the fine for it. "Maybe if you want a full berth of Dark Arts knowledge, but it isn't pertinent to know for regular people."
"What is it?" Moonshine asked, wanting to know what a horcrux was now that she had heard the word.
"A way to attain immortality, you lock a piece of your soul in an object, a horcrux, in order to keep your spirit tethered to Earth," Harry returned, teaching his former teacher about the darkest of dark magic. "And in that box was one of Voldemort's horcruxes, meaning when it is destroyed, along with the others, it will allow Voldemort to be defeated."
"I've never even heard of that, some Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher I am," Moonshine sighed, disappointed that she had never known about such dark magic when it was her job to know.
"Most people don't, it's not something that gets taught," Harry responded, knowing that it was an archaic piece of knowledge ever since Dumbledore took away any book that so much as mentioned it in the Hogwarts library.
"If you need anymore help finding these horcruxes, feel free to ask, I'll always help," Moonshine smiled.
"Will do," Harry nodded, watching as the professor waved goodbye and disappeared with a slight crack. Harry closed the door behind him and he too disappeared, leaving the old Gaunt shack forever.
Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore arrived back in his office and saw a brilliant silver box and a note next to it sitting on his desk. Slowly, he moved towards his desk, before taking his seat in the high backed chair that was positioned behind his desk. He read the note with a smile, and with his wand in his hand, he opened the box to reveal the contents inside.
There, on the purple felt inside the innately adorned silver box sat a large golden ring. There was a black rock inlaid in the ring, which had a symbol engraved deep inside the stone. With a triangle, a circle, and a line, Dumbledore immediately recognized the symbol as that of the Deathly Hallows. After searching for nearly his entire life, he had finally found the hallow that he most desired: the Stone of Resurrection.
Without giving it a second thought, without worrying about the consequences, he reached for the ring, picked it up from its spot in the box, and put it on his left ring finger. It only took a moment before a great pain ran straight through his hand and reached his heart. The sharp pain felt like a thousand hot knives running up his arm, attacking each nerve from his finger to his chest. He quickly ripped the ring off of his finger, but he knew the damage was done: He had made a mistake that would cost him his life.
A/N: Merry Christmas! As is tradition, a new chapter on Christmas! I wish all of you a very happy holiday, whatever you may celebrate. I also hope that you and yours have a very Happy New Year.
A/N: Unfortunately, I had a family emergency that prevented me from going through this chapter more so if it seems a little rougher than usual, it's because it is. I do all the editing myself and I just ran out of time beyond two or three readthroughs, but I will be going through it again and correcting anything amiss in the near future.