The Lacrimosa is Mozart's, and the numbers are important, pay attention to the numbers.


Whatever Gods May Be

[part the second - and all disastrous things]

by Incendiarist


Pale, without name or number,
In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
All night till light is born ;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
Comes out of darkness morn.


iiv.

"Where is he?"

"Probably being dragged around Diagon Alley; today's the thirty-first, remember."

i.

Screams, delirious chants of whatever words the speaker seemed to think would make them innocent, and half-choked sobs seemed to follow a person through the prison, clinging, almost as though the sounds could discern between sane humans and the soulless beings that were so feared by the wizarding populace. (Or perhaps the Dementors drank in the sounds as well as the souls.) It was a bit odd, and more than a bit creepy, and it was for this reason that when the Aurors made their weekly inspections, it was whilst accompanied by a pair of the black-robed creatures.

Kingsley Shacklebolt walked through the altogether depressing, claustrophobic corridors of Azkaban, trying to ignore the pleas for help of those whom he passed the cells of. He was starting to realise why everyone so despised Azkaban Duty, beyond it meaning extended time spent in the company of Dementors. It was really horrible to try and pretend like all of these people didn't exist, to hold back the desire to free them all because dammit, these were human beings too, for Merlin's sake. But he controlled himself - just barely - and continued the walk to the wing of the prison which contained some of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's most trusted Death Eaters. Those were the dangerous ones, the ones the Ministry was really worried about. If Sirius Black had already escaped… Shacklebolt shuddered. Best not to think about that.

When he finally reached the wing, he was met with all of the same sounds, not that he had expected anything different. There were the same moans, the same hoarse screams, the same banging against the cell doors. And, at the very end of the wing, so quietly as to be almost entirely drowned out by the others even with Shacklebolt within such a close proximity, there was a decidedly - different - sound. At first, the Auror had thought himself to be imagining things, but when he peered through the bars, he found his hearing to be perfectly fine.

Bellatrix Lestrange, née Black, was singing. He strained to make out the words.

"Qua resurget ex favilla..."

Odd choice of song, a very distant part of his mind pointed out, trying its damned hardest to be heard over the much louder screams of 'why isn't she being affected by the Dementors?'

"Judicandus homo reus," she sung, and looked up at the Auror from her position on the floor in the corner of the tiny room. There was no emotion in her eyes, and Shacklebolt almost took a step back. Generally speaking, prisoners don't look like that. Even the insane ones.

She smiled.

v.

Neville Longbottom did not care for Professor Lockheart. To be honest, he thought the man was rather pathetic. (Though, their little group picked up Obliviate after only a few minutes in his presence, which was nice.) Most people thought Professor Lockheart pathetic, actually. Save starstruck females, of which, sadly, there were many.

Why did he go to the duelling club, then? Simple: he wanted to see what would go wrong. He was a great fan of things that went wrong; one of the many reasons why he always screwed up his Potions, to Snape's eternal enmity. The other reason was, of course, his cover, but Neville always tried to have an ulterior motive. Something about how it made him feel like a rebel, because he wasn't doing what he was just because he was told to. Stupid deities.

In any case, the duelling club wasn't as chaotic as he'd hoped, and when Potter and Granger suddenly decided that now would be a good time to hold a conversation in Parseltongue, well, the response was a tad underwhelming. There were some mutterings of 'Should've known. A Potter and a Muggleborn in Slytherin. Of course they must be Parselmouths. It's the only way the Hat would be so crazy,' and 'You've got to be joking,' but otherwise, there wasn't much else. Certainly not any screaming or rumours of the two being the next Dark Lord and Lady. Well, correcting that; any new rumours of the two being the next Dark Lord and Lady.

ii.

Automatons.

That's all they were anymore. To the casual observer, perhaps, they would appear normal. That was what they had wanted, too, and the irony was not lost on It.

They acted as they had always done when they were still alive, to a degree, and that was exactly what It needed.

It and the boy, Dudley, were four now. The boy didn't know anything was wrong with his parents yet, and probably never would. That was an upside to It having eaten them when It did - had It waited any longer, the boy would have had a memory of how they acted before. Of course, considering his IQ, it was possible that he might not have noticed, anyway.

But better safe than sorry.

It sat in the cupboard under the stairs, in the dark. It was nice in there. And there were a lot of spiders that no-one would miss; enough to satiate a growing fae-creature. Barely, anyway. Humans would be better, or dogs, even. But no-one had dogs except Aunt Marge, and she was so obsessed with them, she would notice any changes in their countenance. She didn't seem to note any in her brother, oddly enough, though. And It was very glad of that. It would hate to have to try up any loose ends. Most of them were like a thread on the end of a jumper, and when you pulled it the whole thing would start to unravel. Unravelling was, without a doubt, very bad.

For example, It couldn't do what They would normally do, which was kill the meal after having it, thanks to the blood wards that Professor Dumbledore had put up because he believed some rubbish about Lily Potter's sacrifice saving It from the killing curse. (Unfortunately, being fifteen months old at the time, it was more than a bit out of character to tell the man otherwise. Nevermind that It could. It would probably have blown the Thing's cover.)

That meant that they had to have a heart-beat. So the jumper began to unravel.

It was only through luck that the jumper still existed, to be honest. The Dursleys hadn't associated with the neighbours, or Marge, or really anyone besides themselves, so they weren't missed.

The Thing couldn't siphon magic off of the wards, which was troubling, but then there was Mrs. Figg; a Squib, but she still had residual magic, even if she couldn't use it. It was enough for the odd case of "accidental" magic, if just barely.

Dudley was obnoxious, but It couldn't have him, because somewhere, one of the Ancients must have liked annoying It, and Dudley actually managed to have friends. Friends who would, sadly, have noticed a problem. So It'd have to kill Dudley if It wanted him, and the elder Dursleys wouldn't likely grieve, and people would notice that they were acting strangely, so It'd have to kill them, and then the wards would fall, and good-bye jumper.

It shook it's head in irritation, and disappeared. It had a meeting to get to.

iv.

If they were Gryffindors, they would be dead, they knew. They would have no doubt tried to discover what was wrong with the two - for surely there was something - and they would have gotten themselves killed for it, just as Daphne Greengrass had. She had found something out, the Slytherins were sure of it; they had seen the panicked look she wore when she read the response she had gotten from some mysterious letter she had sent out the night before.

If they'd been Ravenclaws, they might have watched from afar - afar being the library, after curfew, and in the Restricted Section - but ultimately, they would have done the same as their Gryffindor selves, and they would still have ended up dead.

If they'd been Hufflepuffs, they might have gone to a teacher, and explained their concerns, and the teacher would tell them that nothing was wrong and of course Potter and Granger were human, what else could they be? And they would have believed it, and gone on their merry way like nothing was wrong, though perhaps more cautious.

Of course, it was pointless to imagine themselves as Gryffindors or Hufflepuffs, because Granger and Potter would never have been Sorted into either House. Now, Ravenclaw, they would have done well in, if their on-going competition for 'who can shock a professor with the most post-NEWT-level knowledge' was any indication. But, in any case, they were in Slytherin, and as such, the Slytherins were themselves, and would not be getting themselves killed. They knew a warning when they saw one, and Greengrass with her head bashed in by the club of a mountain troll was definitely such.

i.

The next day, the Daily Prophet spoke of a freak accident in which an Auror had been kissed by a rogue Dementor. No lines were connected.

iii.

"Meeting at the new Unspeakable's house."

"He's the one in the Hall of Prophecy, right? What's his name, again?"

"Iain Henlin, and yes. He's found something that might be… bothersome."

"Ah."

vi.

Dobby was not happy. Harry Potter and his friend Hermione Granger had managed to get through the barrier, even though he'd blocked it. It didn't make any sense; how could two humans get past house-elf magic?

vii.

McGonagall hid a smirk; Harry and Hermione had managed to be at the scene of the crime every time there was a petrification, they were both known as Parselmouths by the school (incidentally, that soul fragment was really rather helpful), and had maintained a blatantly faux-innocent front for Snape, who now stood next to her in the Headmaster's office, all but demanding he allow him to administer Veritaserum ("They're Occlumens, Albus! Both of them!"). She'd been dragged along to the meeting for Merlin-knew-what reason, and had been vaguely annoyed at first, but seeing how wound up the two had managed to get him, all without physical torture… That was impressive. She'd worked with the man for sixteen years, and she'd not been near that successful. She reminded herself to congratulate them later.

iiv.

"Hello, Harry, Hermione. How is Slytherin House?"

"Lonely, especially now that Daphne's gone. How about Ravenclaw?"

"Also lonely. No-one believes me about the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. They say they're just silly myths."

"How can someone not believe in Crumple-Horned Snorkacks? It's not as though they're invisible, or anything."

"I know! Is it a human thing, do you think?"

i.

"Uncle Regulus?" asked the eleven-year-old. She'd be leaving for Hogwarts the next month.

"Yes, Trixie?" he replied, smiling down at the dark-haired girl.

"I'm hungry," she said simply. Her brown eyes looked up at him, the epitome of innocence.

"Then let's get you some food, shall we?" He took her hand, leading her into the dining room, before calling a house-elf.

"Mister Regulus Black sir, what is you needing?" it asked, but Bellatrix cut off his answer, giggling.

"Not that kind of food, Uncle Regulus."

He tilted his head. "What kind of food then?"

"The good kind," she answered, a smile in her eyes.

vii.

Minerva McGonagall was, they said, a perfect student.

She kept to herself, never got into trouble, had good grades. Professor Dumbledore was considering taking her on as an apprentice, even. No-one ever suspected - or had reason to suspect, for that matter - that she was any Darker than your average Hufflepuff, which had a ratio of Light to Dark of 10/.0037, according to one Muggleborn student who'd rather liked Maths. Of course, very few purebloods knew what a ratio even was, herself included, but it was still a very nice number.

Gryffindor, her own House, was not much higher, and she was the perfect example of a Gryffindor, besides.

Dumbledore trusted her without much difficulty, if any, and she was easily recruited into the fight against her old school-mate, Tom Riddle, when he returned as Lord Voldemort.

She became Trasfiguration Professor in Albus' stead, and Deputy Headmistress, his most trusted confidant. In fact, her position mimicked that of Bellatrix Lestrange. Quite exactly, one might be surprised to note. Amazing that they weren't polar opposites, really.

vi.

"Hi," the girl said, not looking up from her book.

"What are you reading?" the boy asked. He was about her age, maybe a little older, dirty blonde hair and light skin at odds against her ethnic appearance.

"Romeo and Juliet," she answered, still not looking up. "Have you read it?" Her free hand fiddled with the edge of her too-short skirt. It was, like the rest of her school uniform, all but threadbare, and he was sure that if she weren't wearing a vest, he would be able to see through to her flat chest. He could see her arms through the translucent-but-meant-to-be-opaque sleeves, in any case. It was the shirt's fault, for being white.

"Nah, but I know the story, sorta."

She smiled a little, her teeth gleaming against her dark skin, and she raised her eyes, saying, "Doesn't everyone?"

He grinned too. "Probably. So, um… you like that kind of stuff?"

She blushed, and twisted one of her tiny braids on her finger. "Well, I am a girl, aren't I?"

He decided he liked this girl, though he couldn't say why. He'd heard from some of the elder ones that one could, rather than simply eat a human's soul, replace it. He thought he had an idea of how to do it; hypothetically, knowledge of that sort was inherent. "Have you ever kissed anyone before?"

She would appear to have had an inordinate interest in the ground as she replied, "No."

"Do you…?" He let the question hang, the unspoken would perfectly clear.

"Yeah, I do." She smiled, and he leaned towards her, and she leaned in over her right arm, still holding the book, the rest of the way to meet his lips. It dissolved from the chaste kiss that one would expect from eight-year-olds as his tongue touched against her lips, and she gave him access.

What happened then could only perhaps be described as a sharing of breath, as he inhaled and then so did the girl, and then without either of them entirely sure what happened, they had broken apart.

"Wow," she whispered distantly. "Wow." She met his gaze, saying, "Hello, Justin."

"Hello, Mandy."