The Dark Lord's Equal
by Lens of Sanity
"Changing history to suit your purposes has a long and successful history" – Rorschach's Blot
June 18th 1996: Ministry of Magic, Level 9, the Department of Mysteries, Death Chamber
20:58 Sidereal Time
I have no idea what's going on, it's chaos. Harry is twelve inches in front of me, he looks terrible, bloody slash across his face and a wild look of desperation flitting across his eyes. I am not going to let him down, he's just hit Dolohov with a Petrificus Totalus curse, Dolohov for Merlin's sake, he's something like the fourth most dangerous person in the world right now and Harry clocks him without a second thought.
I'm still recovering from this Tarantallegra, my nose and right wrist are still busted, and worse, that fucking bitch Bellatrix LeStrange is within spitting distance. Looks like Harry was right, Sirius Black really must be one of the good guys, anyone fighting that twisted wreck of humanity is alright in my book.
"Come on!" he yells in desperation, dragging me to my feet with clearly waning strength "Just try and push with your legs-"
He heaves again and my robes tear along the left seam, and we both watch in slow motion as the small spun-glass ball drops to the ground. In an unholy turn of events my left foot gives one final involuntary kick just at the wrong moment and the prophesy sails inevitably toward the cold unforgiving floor ten feet from where we stand.
Well done there Longbottom, way to do the family proud. It's not like that little glass ball is at all important, not like there's a Dark Lord and twenty murderous terrorists going to any trouble to collect the thing. No no, you can buy three of them for a Knut down Knockturn Alley. Face it Longbottom, you're just no damn good.
"Harry, Fb sorry!" I say as he locks eyes with me. What I see in that gaze is unexpected.
Locked into the green eyed stare it's like time grinds to a crawl, I could see a hummingbird's wings or catch a snitch using two fingers. Across his eyes little black flecks begin swirling like a raging blizzard until they are unbroken jet black, and then from the opposite direction the same blizzard begins in jade. He blinks and a new look crosses his face as time and the chaos around us crashes back to normal.
"Hey, Neville mate..." he flashes a shit kickin' grin totally out of nowhere, and turning back toward the fray he finishes "...watch this"
Well I'll be damned, it worked. Oh, and secondly that was one weird-ass sensation; much like being transfigured into a fine mist, and right as you are about to blow away in the breeze your body snaps back together. Not painful per-say, but definitely maxing out on the weirdness meter.
I take stock of myself and my surroundings, low end physical and magical exhaustion, a few bumps, bruises, and a deep little gash across my left cheek. I can feel more than a dozen magical cores actively fighting, and I have a very young, very nervous looking Neville Longbottom staring me in the face. Okey-dokey, Department of Mysteries Battle it is then.
"Hey, Neville mate... watch this" I spin round and bring eleven inches of phoenix wand to bear on whoever is foolish enough to get in my way.
I run a practiced eye over the area, taking stock of the double handful of combatants, as well as note that Albus Dumbledore has taken the time to properly backlight himself against the doorframe, outlined in his most heroic pose. Enough of that foolishness, I've seen this memory enough times to know Padfoot is acting like a jackass and has about twenty seconds to live.
I spring forward and unleash a well drilled spell-chain designed for this specific situation. Barrages of spells splash themselves against the shields of both LeStrange and Black, knocking them both of balance. An invisible hook like a fishing line scoops Sirius away from the Veil and slams him into the far wall, as a number of far less friendly hexes direct themselves at the crazed Death Eater whore standing before me.
I don't even give her the opportunity to begin using her baby voice, nostalgic as that might be, as I snap off the remainder of my chain. Damn she's still on her feet, nice going girl. We trade spells for a while, slapping away some of the more telegraphed jinxes using specific shields until I've had enough and brush off one of from the old days.
"Confringo, Sectumsempra, Chiroptera, Abolesco, Oblivate, Lacero, Incarcerous"
It was nicknamed 'the crazy chain' because let's face it, who uses medical bone vanishing spells, schoolyard hexes, and high level dark arts in the same chain. It's just not done. Let alone the fact that there is a memory charm in there, you'd have to be mental to use something like that in a real fight; hence the name I suppose but screw it, I like the thing.
I give her some credit as Bellatrix still manages to free herself from the ropes, even if she is a little the worse for wear. I snap off a Lesser Prewett and she drops under the combine weight of so much offensive magic. I'm breathing hard by now but really, I'm Harry Potter, did you honestly think she stood a chance against me?
In shadow and out of most people's line of sight, the fall of Andi Tonks' sister went surprisingly unnoticed; she's still in one piece, albeit one big flat piece, covered in cuts, breaks, and bruises. Dora Tonks is being revived and tended to by a cantankerous Mad-Eye Moody, the girl is tiny, was she always so small?
The Order members who are still active are binding the fallen and tending the wounded under the Headmasters direction. We need to get to the Atrium, I have an old friend who is about to make an appearance.
My head is ringing as my vision swims back into focus. Right where am I? I seem to be pinned under something, oh yeah okay, this is a statue from the Fountain of Magical Brethren, Albus must have animated it like he did last time, only now I was hit with a bit more force.
He is over there duelling with a Dark Lord and not giving me even the slightest opportunity to have his back.
I leverage myself up, being careful not to make any sudden movements else one or the other of those two will start paying attention to little old me, and I have just the spell for this situation. Something I came across a number of years back when I was doing research into how destructive a piece of magic I could throw at an opponent.
Left, right, swish to the middle, 90 degrees, turn horizontally, downwards slash, pause, turn, over and under, half twist clockwise, pull back, and, jab...
Technically this is an Incendios Grata with the McIntyre Wandmotion, or McIntyre Amplifier. It was crafted as an academic exercise and is generally useless in a fight because it adds fourteen seconds to the casting time. But in a situation like this, where the target is distracted, this magic is nothing short of gods-sent.
A column of red and gold fire bursts out of my Holly and Phoenix hot enough to flash boil steel, black soot and billowing smoke worming throughout the raging inferno, as magically conjured flames race toward their target.
Wow, this is tiring. I mean sure, I'm channelling about as much magic as half a dozen of those kids graduating the Auror Academy could manage, but I'm no ordinary Auror by any stretch.
Come on Potter hold it together, you're Harry fucking Potter, Badass, you can keep up with a little bit of magically created fire. And hey, if you don't keep it up good ol' Voldemort over there is gonna kick your sixteen year old ass.
That would be embarrassing wouldn't it kid.
Sweat is starting to pool across my brow as the seconds tick by. Oh hell, this isn't good, my core is still severely limited by my Scar, keeping this up is probably not the best idea. Shut it Potter, just hang in there, what's a little super heated flame after all the shit you've gone through.
More seconds tick by, ten seconds, twenty, thirty seconds. The flames began to lessen as I cut short the spell, dropping back into defensive stance instinctively. Of course Voldemort is absolutely fine, bastard that he is, scorched and well aware 'the-only-one-he-ever-feared' is bearing down on him, but still fine.
He makes a strategic withdrawal, and this Battle is over.
I wobble gasping for breath, before falling to my knees. An almighty throbbing breaks through my scar as I flip onto my back. The pressure increases as the Horcrux inside me takes my magically weakened state as an opportunity to attempt possession.
This is so not part of the plan.
I take hold of myself; will myself back to the fore. And I push back, a little at first but enough. Harder and harder the pressure mounts and I barely hold it together. Then it breaks, like cresting a hill it's all downhill from here. A short while later it's all finished, a different kind of battle is won.
The fighting is over, for one more day at least.
"...it is mainly about who can cheat the most in a dick measuring contest" – nonjon
June 18th 1996: Ministry of Magic, Level 8, Atrium
21:20 Sidereal Time
Time to get to work I suppose. Just because you defeated a Dark Lady and then chased off a Dark Lord, and then fought for your very Soul in an odd battle of wills and possession, does not mean you get to slack off.
There is work to be done.
The Atrium has begun filling up with all those ever-so-helpful politicians, jobsworths, and other assorted timewasters. Minister Fudge is looking on top form, confused and bumbling, who would have guessed.
Some of the Auror office are starting to make it here, though none of them seem to be doing anything but mill about and get in the way. I spy Madam Bones finally, so taking stock of both the Headmaster and the Minister I get on with my work.
"Jenkins." I shout "Jenkins! Front and centre NOW"
Junior Auror Jenkins is at this point only about three months out the Academy, so hasn't had the chance to grow a full backbone yet. I like the guy though, and he's one of the only people in the room I recognise.
"Do you know who I am?" He nods "Spit it out man."
"You're Harry Potter."
"Excellent, do you know who that was Albus Dumbledore and I were fighting?"
"Yes, it was You-Know-Wh-"
"Voldemort, say his name for Merlin sake you're supposed to be an Auror" I cut him off again before he can respond "Now, do you know the way to the Department of Mysteries... it's on Level Nine if you need a hint"
"Yes" he immediately answers.
This is to the good. What I'm doing is a little Dark Lord trick I picked up somewhere along the way; if you get someone repeatedly agreeing, in this case saying 'Yes' over and over, they are far more likely to just keep on agreeing with you without stopping to think about it.
I also keep interrupting him before he can reflect too much on my authority. I need to ensure he runs off to follows my orders before questioning the fact that I do not technically have the right to give orders.
"Good. Now go down to the Time Room, you know where that is?" nods "...and search through the wreckage for the most robust Time-Turner you can find. I'll be leaving here in precisely five minutes so it may be wise to run." I peer at him closely "What are you waiting for man? Hop!"
As Jenkins runs off I get to the second most important thing I need to do here, provisionally depose the sitting Minister of Magic. I round on the group who are just standing there looking at me in confusion, taking a deep breath I lay out the spiel that I had written down beforehand which has the best chance of working.
"I Harry James Potter in my capacity as Head of an Ancient and Noble House temporarily strip you, Cornelius Oswald Fudge of your position as Minister of Magic on the grounds of gross incompetence and corruption leading to the resurrection of the Dark Lord Voldemort and his subsequent attack on the Ministry Building.
Madame Amelia Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, you are now raised acting Minister, I would advise you to take Mr. Fudge into custody until the Wizengamot meeting, which will be scheduled for 8 o'clock tomorrow morning."
I take another deep breath and let it out for a long moment, giving those in the Atrium a chance to digest some, but almost certainly not all, of what I just said.
There is quite a bit of spluttering from that bowler hat wearing sack of-, anyway, after I give him 'The Gaze' and point out that with the backing of not only the Director of the DMLE, but the newly exonerated Albus Dumbledore, I in fact do have the authority to strip him of his position.
Admittedly this is only temporarily, but given that Voldemort was here recently, and that I have already called an emergency session of the Wizengamot in the same breath as I fired him, those watching can be sure it sticks.
It also helps that Fudge's close personal relationship with Lucius Malfoy was brought up when the Death Eater was carted past by Kingsley. Neville is at his side and I wave him over, noting that Jenkins is making his way back to me.
I take in Madame Bones "Jenkins, good work man, we'll make an Auror out of you yet. Now take possession of a Healer and drag it to a young brunette girl on Level Nine, she has been hit with a Flame-Cutter Curse in Purple, and she is to be given Alpha-Prime priority, I need her on her feet and on Hogwarts grounds an hour before sunrise. That gives the Healer..."
"...less than six hours. Once you've briefed them pair up with the rest of the Aurors and start dealing with those Death Eater prisoners."
Damn, so much to deal with. I can only hope I don't forget something important. Oh well, yippee-kai-yay, and no rest for the wicked. Madame Bones is starting to get a little peeved that I'm ignoring her, and I have too many other things I need to do.
"Okay, you have questions" a statement not a question, applicable to both the new Minister and the old Headmaster "Bring Aurors Shacklebolt, Tonks, and Moody, as well as Percy Weasley to Hogwarts Headmasters office in one hour. Spin back to... 22:32 after you have finished dealing with what has happened this evening. I would also appreciate if you sent out the call to the Wizengamot in my name as I am going to be too busy to do it myself..."
I can see there are going to be objections, and in a brilliant move I ignore all of them. Instead of addressing any of their questions I fire off my last little bombshell "...And if it's not too much trouble, bring me a LeStrange. I don't care which one but I would prefer whichever is the most capable of walking unaided."
I'm guessing the assumptive, hopefully commanding air I was going for worked at least a little. Given that I'd grabbed Neville and was through the floo before anyone could stop me. From the looks on their faces before I left, my orders will probably be followed.
I have so much to do tonight, and already I'm exhausted.
"And you, Harry, are a miracle. It's easy to believe in you, if you allow it." – mira mirth
June 18th 1996: Hogwarts Headmasters Office
21:44 Sidereal Time
Watching Harry I will admit that being confused is a state I am more familiar with than most. This whole day has been strange bordering on absurd. Weird to think that just a few hours ago I was flunking my History of Magic exam, I just don't understand why we have to remember the specific dates on which the almost identical Goblin Rebellions happened.
Ask me anything about wizard history and I'll be as able to answer as well as any; 'What group first enforced the Interdict of Merlin and for what reasons?' Questions like that, you know, ones that actually matter to our culture, but why Goblin Rebellions, I just don't get it.
I got sidetracked there for a moment. No, this being the same day on which I failed my History O.W.L. is what has me confused. A few hours ago, not long after the ill fated, pointless History exam, I found myself in a fight with those bastard Slytherins, while Harry and Hermione were apparently wrestling a Giant or maybe battling Centaurs or something, I really should ask about that at some point. So I landed my first spell in a real fight, an Impediment Jinx, against one of those faceless Slytherin guys, and less than an hour later I'm winging my way into a real honest to goodness battle, riding on the back of a Thestral.
I had overheard that comment about a rescue of wanted mass murderer Sirius Black, and the possibility of having to square off against the Dark Lord, but whatever. If Harry thought we were just going to let him do it alone, which I have no doubt he did, he had another thing coming.
So we break into the Ministry, I meet that cackling psychopath Bellatrix, a load of spellfire gets tossed around, and I manage to land a few curses on some Death Eaters. This was not how I thought today would go but then again things could have been far worse, I could still be sitting my History of Magic O.W.L. for instance.
This is where my confusion grows to levels never before experienced. We were on the ragged edge, everyone was down, I was wandless and injured, and Harry was all but falling over with exhaustion. Then I break that glass orb and it's like a switch is flipped. Harry suddenly starts tossing around the kind of magic I've never seen before in my life, rapid fire spells being let loose with ease, and at the end of it LeStrange is down in a bloody pile, hopefully dead.
Next time I see him he's staring down a room full of people, issuing orders with this commanding presence, and people are jumping to do as he says. That one Auror, what was his name, Johnson? Jenkins? Looked like Solstice had come early when Harry told him he'd done well. Even Susan's Aunt Amelia, a woman who I know quite well and am willing to admit intimidates me quite a lot, didn't really question the toppling of Fudge, or suddenly being in charge of the Ministry.
And now I'm in a room of Hogwarts I've never seen before, all these portraits looking at us, and so many silvery devices of indeterminate function making noises in one corner. Harry strode in, bonded a House Elf who was wearing like four hundred hats, and set about brewing a Potion on top of what I can only assume is Headmaster Dumbledore's oak desk, using ingredients the crazy elf presumably stole from Professor Snape.
"Brewing this is so far above my skill level, but it will be simmering for the next few minutes. Do you have any quick questions? I'll give you a full explanation later, but you look as if you're about to explode mate."
What do you say to that? "Urm.." when in doubt there is always thickly mumbling I guess.
"Bellatrix is alive I'm afraid." Harry takes a stab in the dark.
"Oh" damn, not one of the things I wanted to ask, but still damn. "It's like you're a different person Harry. And that look on your face when you were talking to Fudge" I sort of state as he smiles slightly and begins turning back towards his potion.
"That was 'The Unforgivable Gaze,' my signature wizarding effect. You know the type; Snape has his cloak billowing, Albus has his eye twinkling, Hermione has her hair with varying levels of bushiness depending on how much stress she is under. I have my intimidating glare that the younger Aurors started calling 'The Unforgivable Gaze' and the name kind of stuck, my eyes are green so I guess it fits." Okay, as if that didn't just open up even more questions.
He interrupts me as I'm about to say something to that affect "I've travelled pretty far back in time Neville, I'll tell you about it..." He looks up as people start entering the room. "...Urg, I'll have to tell you about it later."
Travelled back in time? What the hell. And from the looks of it, there is no way that Time-Turner has anything to do with it. What's really a pain is that I can't even ask anything else as he's fully focused on brewing again. Either that or he's intentionally ignoring the people filing one by one into the room.
Some time passes and Amelia Bones floos in followed by several others and an unconscious prisoner. Harry bottles up his potion, pockets several others the Elf had brought him, and walks across the room toward what turns out to be the Sorting Hat. Pulling out a ruby encrusted sword and strapping it to his back with a wave of his wand, he turns to the prisoner and hits him with a bolt of twisting red light.
The man crumples at the middle and is steadily transfigured into a hand-sized Death Eater plushie, complete with tiny silver mask. Grinning he picks up the stuffed toy and straps it to his belt, blatantly ignoring the looks of all those in the room.
"You ready to come on another Harry Potter adventure Neville?" I just kind of nod in a bemused sort of way, and then I have a Time-Turner around my neck, so we both vanish across the sands of time.
Have I mentioned I'm very confused?
Sticking my Time-Turner back beneath my robes I stretch my back and let out a long sigh of relaxation. We're back to half-four in the afternoon, a few hours before the famous Ministry Battle. The Headmasters Office is empty and even the thrice damned Phoenix is missing.
I've had a busy couple of hours, and I have a long road yet to travel before I can get any real rest. Still, I can take a few moments in the afternoon sun. Moment over and I look over and find myself once again surprised at how young Neville looks.
"Shifting your weight from foot to foot. Not looking me in the eye. Lack of terrifying glare. Total failure of demanding I stop acting foolish and answer some friggin' questions. Were you always this unsure of yourself?" He was, I know, but I'll be fucked if I'm going to talk to him as though he's just a kid.
"Erm, I.. Ur" eloquent there kiddo.
"Neville. You have just gone toe to toe with some of the most dangerous human beings alive, you've followed me back in time for no other reason than I asked you too, and you're standing there shifting you're weight like you don't have any gods dammed right to some answers." I challenge. This is Neville, he is at his scariest when some arsehole challenges him.
I see a flash of the real Neville when he registers my tone but it passes and he asks "Fine, what are we doing, are you going to tell me what you mean by having 'travelled pretty far back in time' and don't tell me we used a Time-Turner, you know that's not what I mean." A good start, I just hope he believes me.
We close on the seventh floor, opposite a familiar tapestry of ballet dancing trolls, our first port of call opens to the Room-of-Hidden-Things and we enter.
"Yeah, for reasons we're not going to get into until we get back to the Headmasters Office in six hours, I've travelled, or more accurately sent my memories and consciousness back in time to today, June 18th 1996. The first day of Voldemort's second war, when 'the Ministry Six' as the histories call us, infiltrated the Department of Mysteries and destroyed the prophecy."
Hmm, I think maybe I need to go to Borgin and Burkes to buy the other half of this Vanishing Cabinet, those things are expensive and as he doesn't know where this half is, I might get it cheep. As I clip the Diadem of Ravenclaw to my belt I decide that perhaps scamming Mr. Borgin can wait until this war is over.
"So why today, why come back today?" Neville shakes me out of my irrelevant thoughts.
"It has to do with the method of travel, I'll get to that when we are with the others. My other choice was May 2nd 1998, the day I defeated Voldemort. But you know me well enough that I wouldn't do anything this stupid and dangerous without making it more stupid and dangerous by trying to save everybody's lives." He just nods at that. What was it Hermione called it? My 'saving people thing' I guess I was notorious for it even this far back.
"If you defeated You-Know-Who why come back in time?" Neville asks as we walk toward the statue of the one eyed witch that acts as guardian to the passageway out of Hogwarts. "No, don't answer. You said you'd get to that when we meet up with the others later tonight." I smile, Neville always was sharper than people gave him credit for. Instead he asks "What are we doing today then, you obviously didn't steal a Time-Turner and kidnap me for no reason."
Kidnap? "We have some shopping to do, a little theft, and we have a healer to visit. But mostly, the two of us are here to destroy fifty-seven percent of the Dark Lord's Soul." Other than pursed lips and a slight frown, he just takes this news as everyday.
Neville rocks by the way, I'm not sure you noticed.
"...because shopping is every bit as dangerous as banking" – JBern
June 18th 1996: Leaky Cauldron, Hannah Abbot's Room
17:05 Off-Sidereal Time
Transfiguring the Death Eater plushie back into what turns out to be Rabastan LeStrange I note that he is still blessedly unconscious. I hit him with a monster Confundus Charm so he thinks he is incredibly thirsty and that the potion I brewed in Hogwarts Headmasters Office is the only thing in the world he can safely drink.
A quick "Rennervate," a downed potion, and a whispered "Imperio" later and I send the man out of the room. My use of 'life sentence in Azkaban' magic garners a questioning look from my companion so I explain.
"Do you know why they are called Unforgivable mate?" I ask rhetorically "There are a few reasons really, for one you can't cast them accidentally. Meaning that if you hit someone with a properly cast 'Avada Kedavra' then you really meant for them to die, as appose to hitting someone in the neck with a cutter and having them die. The person is still dead but the circumstances with the Killing Curse leave much less room for manoeuvring. That is not to say the magic itself is inherently evil.
Now, I am in fact completely rubbish at casting Unforgivables. They send Senior Aurors 'to the farm' as it's called in order to learn the Killing Curse. I've spent considerable time there shooting green light at the animals and all I got for my effort was frustration and a bunch of cows glaring at me in annoyance. No, as useful as the spell is, for whatever reason I cannot cast it at all.
I've cast the Cruciatus twice in real battle; Bellatrix laughed at me, and Amycus Carrow was only out of action for about sixty seconds. One minute tops before he recovered, and that is with the lesson crazy bitch gave me on the subject. Lastly there is the Imperius which I can cast, but only so long as it's on someone with average willpower and only if they stay within about twenty feet."
We head into Diagon Alley as we have some shopping to do. "What I gave to good old Rabastan was called the 'Anima Shatter' Potion, a real nasty piece of work which temporarily crushes the will and scatters the mind of even a Master Occlumens. Among other things this makes it far easier to land the Imperius Curse on a person with a strong, well-defended mind. There is something of vital importance to defeating Voldemort in the LeStrange Vault, so I used the Potion and Curse then command him to go get it."
Neville seems more or less mollified and asks me a few more questions eventually touching on Occlumency. I spend most of the shopping trip making inquiries about the past. Merely double checking that I have in fact travelled back in time rather than having entered some kind of crazy alternate universe.
We are in the past as far as I can tell, which is kind of disappointing if far from unexpected.
I pick up the Potter Family Ring from Gringotts then head back to the Cauldron, and the younger LeStrange. Taking the magically expanded trunk filled with all the gold and valuables stolen from his Vault, I have Rabastan remove the Trace on Neville's new Oak and Dragon wand, then hit him with an excessive 'Everbero' stunner and vanish his pelvis.
I then plant on him a timed portkey, so he will find himself in a MLE holding cell a few moments after we went off sidereal time. I admit it, I only really needed the Hufflepuff Cup, but I think all that money would be better served in my hands than in Cissy Malfoy's pockets.
Just think, I'm halfway toward becoming the next Robin Hood.
We approach the Gaunt Shack not far outside Little Hangleton at 18:39 and Neville asks me the question which has probably been bugging him for a while now.
It took longer than it should to get the Solution, and order those contact lenses without answering too many questions. Even when Confounding the Normals and paying an extortionate amount, it will still take a couple of days before they are ready. Neville has been quiet for a while and we're walking down a dirt path toward the Ring Horcrux.
"What do you mean?" I can be pretty sure I know exactly what he means but it's best to be sure.
"Why bring me with you on this hunt, or whatever it is we're doing, why me and not say Ron?" He's carrying a pair of bolt cutters over his shoulder and I can tell from his look that he really wants to know the answer to his question.
"Ron used to be a close friend I suppose, but well, you can't really spend thirty years sleeping with a man's wife and still have any respect for him." I catch the look in his face "Don't bloody well look at me like that, Urg, fine okay I'll tell you a little story about my life, that is if you are actually interested?"
We come upon the Noble House of Gaunt in all its Shacky glory and I get on with what I'm about. While the curse on that damn ring is dangerous, there are probably a cart load of other protections I will have to Mad-Eye my way through.
"After Sirius died in the Department of Mysteries Battle I took a few hits and got a bit depressed. It took me a few weeks but I eventually came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to simply ignore the war. I would focus on Quidditch, hack off most of my schoolwork, and generally leave the real problems to the adults.
I also decided that the thing I needed most was a girlfriend.
So that's what I did, I got this big stupid obsession about 'claiming' Ginny Weasley, and when I was around her and my friends I just let everything slide. Don't get me wrong, I spent most of that year trailing Draco Malfoy and working through the history of Tom Riddle with Dumbledore. And at the end of the year Dumbledore died and I was rather violently thrown back to reality.
We, that is Hermione and I, go on a yearlong scavenger hunt for pieces of Voldemort's Soul. The same hunt that you and I are on right now, only there is no cat smelling tent nor is there a Weasley bitching and moaning at us. After a brief stay under the hospitality offered by Malfoy Manner, where there is some torture and I lose a close friend, we find ourselves in Shell Cottage.
Tensions were high and for reasons I'm not really going to get into involving frustration in his lack of... physical aptitude, I accidently sleep with Bill's new wife, and one thing led to another when Hermione burst in trying to stop us.
The three of us felt super guilty and sort of decided never to mention it ever again. I defeated Voldemort a few months later, and because of guilt, and the debt we felt was owed the Weasley family, both Hermione and I ended up agreeing to marry Ron and Ginny respectively."
Having never spoken these things out loud in this way, I'm quite surprised at how cathartic it is to just throw it all out there. I finish stripping the Ring of the withering curse and release the sticking charm keeping Neville on the wall, well out of danger of the compulsion trying to force both of us to do something stupid.
Something stupid along the lines of putting the ring on our fingers without checking for withering curses. Bad things would come from those kinds of actions, of that I can be sure.
Briefly slipping the newly cleared Ring on my finger, and then feeling ever so glad we didn't need those bolt cutters, I do a Snatch-And-Side-Along, cracking us to our next location.
"This is where I was meant to live. I was supposed to stay here if anything had happened to them" – Lorddwar
June 18th 1996: St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, Reception
19:09 Off-Sidereal Time
I find myself having a hard time getting a read on this new Harry. He claims to have travelled back in time an unspecified length of time, which I guess he probably has given the magic he was hurling around in the Department of Mysteries, and the suspicious level of knowledge he is using on this hunt for mysterious objects.
I tried to figure out why he would bring me with him on his quest to 'destroy half of the Dark Lord's Soul' but when I asked him, he gives me this unhelpful story about how he won the war the first time around.
Harry has just finished talking to the welcome witch about a mind healer and we have been told to go into the waiting area until one is free.
"So I'm only with you because everyone else is injured and you don't respect Ron. And you don't respect him because you've been sleeping with his wife, risking an Honour Duel with Ron at best, and Blood Feud with the Weasley Clan at worst. I'm what, a backup side-kick?"
He takes a moment to throw up a Dome of Silence as he barks a short laugh "Ha! You're far from a side-kick as is possible to be Neville. I've been telling people for years; while I killed Voldemort, it was Neville Longbottom who won the war."
Now that is just downright ludicrous. How in the name of Merlin could I have won a war? No worse than that, if what he said is true this war ended in less than two years from now.
"From your expression would I be right in my deduction that you do not believe me?" I just kind of nod disbelievingly.
"It's true you know. That Prophesy we destroyed, erm tonight I suppose, named me 'the Dark Lord's Equal' but it could have applied to ether of the boys born at the end of July in 1980. So when I ask who you think the two most magically powerful people in the world are, what do you say?"
I think Albus Dumbledore first of course, but Harry asked me for two and I'll take a stab at where he is going. "I'd guess He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and You probably."
"Close but you're way off. You and I are the two strongest, not Beardface, not Snakelips, You and Me."
Right well now we know he's just fucking with you Longbottom. When did you first perform accidental magic, at age eight. How many times have you been called a Squib, countless. You're flat last in the year for every subject save Herbology and now a guy who you once looked up to as a friend it standing there being a complete arsehole. I'm out of here.
I turn to leave.
"You have been using your father's wand for the last five years, it never chose you, and you never won its allegiance. From what I understand of wandlore it was such a terrible match that you'd have been about as successful channelling your magic through a stick of fucking celery.
More than that though, the night Frank and Alice were injured a young Neville Longbottom was given a brute force Obliviation to stop him crying. It was done by a Junior Obliviator, a man who would eventually call himself Gilderoy Lockhart and whose own backfiring spell would eventually land him in the same ward as your parents. He caused quite a lot of damage to your short term memory, and made it difficult for you to remember the lessons at school.
Combine that injury with the wand you were using, and the only way you managed to get through your exams at all is by brutally overpowering every single spell you've ever cast. We're here now to find a Healer who can fix the damage, although I should warn you... with the memory block removed you will remember what happened on the 5th of November 1981."
I don't respond. I'm not sure I could say anything even if I had something to say.
It does not take all that long for a man called Healer Stanhope to get to us, we have a little bit of time so I'm not too worried about the wait. Neville and I stood quietly as I wanted to give him a chance to absorb some of what I just told him. That, and give him the opportunity to brace himself for uncovering his principle Dementor memory.
Neville is led off and it occurs to me how often I find myself using the 'what-time-is-it' spell. This is the first Operation I have been on in years without my Tactical Display keeping time and the mission clock in order. I notice with annoyance how reliant I've become on the technology.
What was the phrase again, 'machines break, eyes don't' or something along those lines. Whatever, the important meaning of the saying is; when stealing ideas from the Normals it makes good sense to follow the advice when it comes to drawbacks. In this case, overreliance on technology is going to get you killed.
My first self should be winging his way to London on the back of a Thestral soon enough. We're going to have to wait a little until my home is empty of Order members. No, not my home, damn I didn't think about that. With Padfoot alive again it is his home. Hmm, plainly I will have to convince him to sell it to me. There is no way in hell I'm living in Potter Place without good reason I can tell you that.
Yes that's right ladies and gentlemen. Harry James Potter, the boy who spent ten years of what passes for childhood living in a cupboard under the stairs, being beaten, neglected, and suffering from long term malnutrition, owns Potter Place, rather than the Dumbledore Cottage in Godric's Hollow. Not only do I own a home, but the traditional seat of Lord Potter is possibly the Mansion-iest Manor House in Great Britain, easily the equal to Draco's Ancestral Home.
And furthermore I cannot stand the place.
Can't stand the look of it, the smell, the stupid fountain roundabout out front of the colossal entry hall. Growing up in that huge pretentious monstrosity goes a long way to explaining the spoiled brat mentally my father James Potter was so famous for in his early years. If it were not for the kickass library I doubt I'd ever bother visiting Al.
As I reaffirm my decision to do whatever it takes in order to acquire the seat of the House of Black, Neville returns to the waiting area with a slightly dazed look on his face. I thank Healer Stanhope and lead him out on unsteady legs toward an Apparition point.
Two more stops and it's back to Hogwarts.
"...he's got a Longbottom after him this time, of course he's worried" – Clell
June 18th 1996: Grimmauld Place, Street
20:16 Off-Sidereal Time
Standing outside Number Twelve we have a little bit of a problem. Well not so much a problem, as something which will take a degree of finesse. Neville does not know the Secret and so cannot see the building. I can do something called 'ghosting,' physically bringing him through the Fidelius without him having to know the secret, much like how Poppy can be brought through to the old Headquarters for Healing without ever knowing the Secret.
This is in fact one of the main reasons I believe prove Snape actually did hate Voldemort, and wasn't just pulling everyone's chain. Had Snape been fucking with us he could have ghosted a whole swarm of Death Eaters through the Fidelius and simply assaulted Grimmauld Place.
Whatever, that is off topic. I could do that with Neville, however if we stroll through the front door in full view of any Order members we will more than likely be forced to answer some rather pointed questions.
Making use of my Cloak of Invisibility we shuffle homoerotically close. I am more than a little uncomfortable with this turn of events, though we do vanish from sight and make it through the front door without detection, barely without detection given what greets us in the entryway.
The scene is bedlam. Harry Potter and his friends have dropped off the face of the earth. They are not at the Ministry, and they are certainly not at Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix are gearing up for a battle, doing all those last minute preparations and age old little ceremonies soldiers have been doing since the beginning of time.
We move to a shadowed corner and Circe save me but I'm glad Mad-Eye isn't here to see through the Cloak. Neville is still quite out of it. Understandable given the harrowing memory he is in the process of reintegrating.
A long time passes; Dora Tonks causes a huge scene during her inevitable reunion with the umbrella stand, the rest of the Order get themselves in fighting shape, and the last occupant of my home vacates the building. I double check with a 'Homenum Revelio' and we're clear.
After a long conversation with Kreacher he is convinced to get me the Slytherin Locket, my luck is still with me as I was concerned Dung Fletcher had stolen it before Sirius died rather than after, when the man was swiping everything not nailed down.
As we wait once more I offer Neville an Invigoration Draught and I see from his whole aspect that he is focusing on his newly uncovered thoughts. The Cruciatus Curse does not cause insanity, it causes pain, and if held for too long, death. Used intermittently over fourteen hours however, while the target is praying its attackers don't check a cupboard they recently hid their son, and well... Neville could use a distraction.
"Life after this war was pretty bloody fantastic you know. Interested in hearing about what we've got to look forward to?"
"Did I go for my Mastery in Herbology?" Neville bursts in as though grasping at a lifeline.
"Yep, one of the world's most respected authorities on the subject. I was actually surprised at what Herbology involves in the real world. I used to think it was all gardening, standing around in a greenhouse up to your elbows in dragon dung." I get an acknowledging look, for some reason everyone seems to think that.
"That's one of the main reasons I want to go for it, do some travel you know. Being quite good at the subject helps too."
Professor Sprout really should tell her students about what Herbology really involves. She would get far more people interested in taking the N.E.W.T. if they found out Curse Breakers do less travelling than Field Herbologists. It comes from the fact that all the most interesting plants are in far flung corners of the earth.
Much loved tourist destinations like Cambodia, Nicaragua, and West Africa, are all in a day's work.
Neville speaks ten or eleven languages, negotiating his way across borders means he's had to develop skills dealing with corrupt governments and idiotic politicians. His crew gets attacked by local Dark Wizards, which apparently happens on a disturbingly regular basis, so he is forced to keep his duelling skills nice and sharp.
There is more, all of the supporting skills people running expeditions develop, Neville already has, making him not just one of the most respected people in his field, but probably one of the most badass individual alive.
"In a couple of years you'll be in the deepest darkest jungle, back doing your research where you belong."
We're quiet for a while before he asks "What did you mean about You and I being the most magically powerful. I can feel how much better this wand is, but I just don't see myself ever going toe to toe with a Dark Lord the way you do."
I think for a little while and come up with a story he might benefit from hearing "Things were pretty sweet after Voldemort was defeated, for decades the only real Dark Uprising happened in 2008 when the Dark Lady Xi-Feng and her followers were threatening the Chinese Olympic Games.
You and I had met up in a bar somewhere when we both happened to be in the same country, I don't remember which country but it really doesn't matter, this was one of the few times I got significantly drunk. Anyway, this total prick working for the International Federation of Warlocks spots us and offers to buy us a few drinks. Excellent we think, yay we made a new friend. So we wake up the next morning-ish and low and behold, what do I find.
A magically binding contract, signed in blood with the names Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom.
You eventually did track the guy down and cause him... harm, but that didn't change the fact we were now contracted to take a Portkey to China and dispatch the local Dark Lady. It was laughable really, as soon as word got out that the two of us were in the country her entire base of support vanished overnight, and she was left with nothing save her fortress and a double handful of marked followers.
As soon as we found her base we just tore down the wards and strolled in the front door wands-a-blazing. The entire uprising lasted four days once we got there, and I swear I spent more time listening to Hannah yelling at me than I did fighting. As if it was somehow my fault we had to go to China."
I always liked that story, fun times.
Taking a book and the Slytherin Locket, we thank Kreacher as we head out the door.
Stepping off the boat onto the shores of sunny Azkaban, it is 20:51. This is my first choice when it comes to destroying the Soul Fragments infesting these objects, because if it works the magic inherent to the items will remain intact. I tested this method a dozen years ago when I found a Horcrux belonging to a Dark Wizard named Darius, and was interested in whether my theory held true.
It worked at the time, only Darius was nowhere near the wizard Voldemort is. I would regret having to use a Basilisk fang from the Chamber of Secrets, an Annihilation Potion, or worse of all Fiendfyre.
With a prayer it won't come to that, we walk toward the security checkpoint. I Prongs Away and advise Neville to do the same.
The bureaucrat we are lead to by one of the guards has a disdainful air about him, and his pettiness is pissing me off no end. I patiently count off reasons why I should not strangle him. Eventually we convince him this is not some half-arsed rescue attempt for one of his precious little prisoners, and we are taken to one of the Dementors.
During our walk down to the depths of the trefoil castle I get an idea. It probably won't work but it's worth a shot. "While we're here do you want the 20 minute wandless magic super seminar?"
"Wandless magic? I thought only really powerful people could do that, and it's supposed to take years of study."
"Yeah well, I came up with a quick and dirty method for teaching people the... 'knack' I suppose is a good word, the knack to wandless magic quickly. It's not particularly pleasant but I can teach you it in a few minutes rather than the normal months or years." If it works I add silently, as it almost always fails.
It doesn't take him long before he says "Sure, why the hell not" although I am beginning to doubt whether or not he factored in our location before agreeing to my instruction.
"Well first I'll have to teach you the Scary-Aura. Pick a spell, any powerful spell you know and draw in all the power you can, but do not actually cast it." Prongs is covering us so Neville lets his Patronus dissolve and does as I say. "Now build up magic for the spell as far as you can, remember not to actually cast the thing though." His wand tip is pooling a brutal looking red, and sweat is beginning to bead his forehead."Just when you think you can't hold it in anymore -"
A loud echoing boom reverberates through the hallway as his viciously overpowered blasting curse slams into the floor.
As my laughter subsides I choke out "Good try" Before his glare doubles me over in fits again.
Eventually I get myself under control "When you get to the busting point next time, put away your wand and sort of flare the unfocused magic backwards, just unleash the raw force instead of directing it into a spell." Unfortunately there are no more hilarious explosions, so after a few attempts he does manage to generate a Visible Aura. It's brief, uncontrolled, and a bit wonky, well it does take practice and so I'm proud of him.
"Congratulations, you can now prove you are in the top one percent of spell casters in terms of raw power." It takes a little more explanation about how so few people can do, or bother to learn how to generate a Visible Aura. The skill is more a party trick than anything, useful only for scaring off the unwashed masses.
We reach our Dementor and instead of doing what we originally came here for I get on with the lesson. "Right, now back to wandless magic. Wandless is completely different from wanded, you don't cast any spells, and you can't get anywhere near the control or efficiency you would be able to with a wand. You instead use your raw magical power to force the universe to do as you desire. Will something to happen and then build up your power and make it happen.
Think of any Accidental Magic you performed as a kid and you will realise it wasn't actually accidental. You really wanted to do whatever it was you did, because you can't accidently do magic any more than you can accidently get a woman pregnant. You did it on purpose."
Neville tells me a story I vaguely remember about his uncle throwing him out a window, and I see he at least grasps some of what I'm saying."Now as I said, doing this takes a special Knack which takes most people a long, long time to get right. But we have here a Dementor, and you know how to perform a Patronus. So I'm going to put you in a room with one and you're going to Will the Patronus Mist to form without your wand, in a way analogous to producing a Scary-Aura."
He clearly doesn't like this idea, and to be fair neither did I when I was desperate to get over my irrational belief that it should be the same as with a wand, and so came up with the method. This is how I learned, and the two of us have equally terrible Dementor memories. If anything can convince a person to force the universe to bend to your will, it's the effect of a Dementor making you relive your most horrible moment.
Were both a little shaken after the wandless session, and as I move onto focusing on the reason we are here originally, I become concerned that I've forgotten something important. Mentally I do a quick rundown of recent events:
Successfully complete time jump; check.
Save the life of Sirius Black; check.
Chase off Voldemort, sack Fudge, steal Time-Turner; check, check, check.
Pick up Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw in the Room-of-Hidden-Things; check.
Deal with Ring, Heal Neville, acquire Locket. Oh the cup, and swipe Cup; check, check, check... and check.
Seems as though everything is under control, or is at least going to plan. Merlin do I wish I could use my Command Inventory, it would make keeping track of events so much easier. No; remember what we talked about, no more overreliance on technology!
So next order of business; deal with Horcruxes,
The plan is quite simple, there is a fragment of Soul in each of these four objects, and Dementors eat Souls. So the theory goes; having a Dementor Kiss the Horcrux should destroy the Soul, all the while leaving the objects whole and undamaged.
These are powerful magically enchanted objects whose loss would be a great shame, bordering on a crime. Though I will say I'm more than a little sceptical on its odds of success, given that they are running at less than ten percent.
It works? Bloody hell!
Now I owe Astoria five Galleons.
"He had only gotten significantly drunk a few times in his life..." – cloneserpents
June 18th 1996: Azkaban Island
21:59 Off-Sidereal Time
As we head out passed the Anti-Apparition Net I look down at the shiny Rings on both index fingers, strange to think I could now style myself Heir of Slytherin and Heir of Griffindor. Should I so desire.
Tom Riddle was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, as illegitimate son of Merope Gaunt of the Gaunt line. Coupled with the ability to speak Parsel he was close enough to fool the Head of House Ring into thinking he was worthy of the honour. Given my Scar Horcrux connection, the fact that Tom Riddle died in 1981, and my blood connection through the Peverells, and I am standing here having successfully tricked the Ring into thinking I am something like Tom's son.
Enchanted objects such as these have some measure of what could be described as intelligence, but they can be tricked. Testament to this fact is the shiny Ring on my left index finger. Note the lack of pain filled screaming.
I Side-Along Neville through the wards of Hogwarts. The Founder's Ring allowing me to fly directly in the face of the one truth I remember from Hermione's lectures on Hogwarts a History, namely; one cannot Apparate under the castle wards. We can all be very glad the school kid version of Voldemort never worked out that little trick, his attacks on Hogwarts would have been embarrassingly effective had he known a method to easily get people through the wards.
I discovered the Ring allows me to do this when I was chasing after Lily's pratish boyfriend during the time she attended this castle. I also have a Founder's Ring you see, it's sitting quite comfortably here on my right index finger.
When researching my family history I learned that my surname comes from a knight who served King Henry II, Lord Barren Sir William Potter. Who was made a Lord thanks to some trouble the monarch was having with a turbulent priest. He married Helga Griffindor, a direct descendant of Godric, and Sir William took her crest as his own, most likely to add a sense of history to his name.
Rooting around in a Dungeon cupboard I finally come across the Prince's copy of Advanced Potion Making, which I pocket as one Severus Snape enters the room, offering us his trademark cloak billowing and on his face the famous 'I need to get laid' scowl. I had noticed the alarm ward go off, and had been hoping he would get here before our return to sidereal time.
"Ah, Potter so you are back from the obvious trap. Let me guess, you got your illustrious Godfather killed by your own stupidity and arrogance." Whoa, you got to admit the tosspot can hit it pretty close to the mark. Still, I've promised not to kill him. I make a snap decision to change the plan.
"You owe the Potter Family a Life Debt, how about you do me three small favours and we call it quits. You can go back to sucking the dick of the snakier of your two masters, disappear into obscurity, or work as a Polly down Knockturn Alley for all I care... Three little favours and you can be free to waste your life hating James Potter for the rest of your days."
There were a number of insults in there, but I'm offering him something he desperately wants. A way out of his mortifying Life Debt.
I see him visibly bite back his habitual response and actually think for a change. I also roll my eyes at his attempt to use Legilimency; thanks to the bizarre method I used to learn the art his probe just passes through, my thoughts seeming indistinct like mist. I would not recommend learning it my way however, it involves having a former Death Eater digging jagged furrows through your brain using a rusty screwdriver, a Dark Lord mind prying you for years on end, and finally a close friend dying in your arms.
Better go for the standard teaching methods.
Following an eternity of uncomfortable silence he grinds out "What. Three... Requests. Do. You. Have. In. Mind." Whoa, he really isn't a happy bunny is he? I moderate my taunting a little.
"Deal with Ginny Weasley for me. You're better at subtle Legilimency than I am..." Understatement, I need to use the incantation and it is far from subtle "...I would like you to implant commands making the ideas of sex on a first date unconscionable and disgusting for her to even think about. Subtle commands; you must do your very best and give me an oath not to change anything else out of spite.
Secondly you are to give her the idea of taking her Potions Mastery once she finishes school. I don't care how you do it, you can have one of your colleagues give her the suggestion for you if you choose.
Lastly you are to organise and pay for her transfer to Salem Witches' Institute, as well as pay full tuition until she graduates. Don't give me any shit about not having the gold, your friend at Room Thirty Four subsidises your income quite nicely so I hear."
He gives me an unreadable look for that last comment. I just cock an eyebrow and meet his eyes.
When the first of my children was born looking exactly like me, I came to the conclusion that he must be cursed. It was another of those of the few times I got significantly drunk, and for some unholy reason decided to name the boy after all the most wretched people in my life. This prick ranks second;
'Albus Severus Tom Vernon Potter'
I woke up with it written in blood on his birth certificate. Luckily I managed to break into the Hall of Records and swap it out for a fake, and then tell the kid he was named for the two bravest Headmasters I'd ever known. I'm ever so glad he never twigged on that the only other head of school I know is Min.
I really shouldn't drink.
We're on a slow stroll back to the Headmasters Office and I'm glad things worked as well as they did. He sneered at The Gaze, and someone may have broken his nose, but in the end Mr. Snape agreed to my proposition.
"You're deporting Ginny to America?" Neville seems bemused more than anything, though it may have something to do with my casually insulting treatment of his most hated professor.
"The woman repulses me. You know she is single handedly responsible for keeping up moral during Seventh Year when the Carrows were running the school. Yet despite vast amounts of experience she has to be the worst lay in the entire world." The memory of it has me cringe unconsciously.
"Worse though; the woman is decent on a broom, good with a wand, and better with a cauldron. Meaning had she gone to any effort getting her own life rather than ruining mine, she could have theoretically become a real person."
"She can't be that bad if you married her."
"That bad, bah. She's worse! No. This way, this way she has the chance to get out on her own and possibly do something with her life. Also, I don't have to drown her." That last may have been said a touch wistfully.
"Fine, different question. What is Room Thirty Four?"
"Heh, Room Thirty Four is the business solely responsible for forty percent of Britain's Boomslang Skin demand, and Professor Snape has been selling student hair to his contact since he started working at Hogwarts."
It takes a moment for him to figure out what I'm talking about, but the look on his face when he does is priceless.
It is ten thirty and zero seconds precisely. Almost time to rejoin the rest of the world.