Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related concepts are owned by someone who isn't me. I will never seek or accept money for the circulation of this work.
Author's Note: This story is the continuation of 'Holly Evans and the Spiral Path'. As the original story was my first work I made several dubious choices in the layout and execution. I'm changing the format from Journal entries and scripts into a more traditional style, so I've moved into a new story file. This chapter is also a recap for the veterans as well as an explanation for others that may not wish to plow through my earlier fits in trying to learn how to write. Hopefully this chapter will contain enough information to not require new readers to go through the earlier story, but it will still be out there for reference and enjoyment. After all, the devil is in the details.
One other thing- we go over the graveyard resurrection here, as it's a critical moment that affects this story, but it also serves as a test for those new readers who may not know how dark and discomforting this story can get. If you can stomach this, you'll do fine.
Further background information is posted in a forum on Fanfiction(net). .net/forum/Contours_along_the_Spiral_Path/81293/
The Spiral Path
Rated: M/NC17 for sex, torture, rape, murder, drug use, vulgarity and being written by an American (and that's just this chapter!)
Chapter 01: Amelia and the Red Rook
Saturday, 1st July, 1995
The silence in the middle of a sun-dappled wooded glade was broken by a young woman falling through the trees to land roughly on the ground. She let out an 'oof!' and rolled to a stop.
Said woman slowly sat up, disentangling herself from her grey traveling cloak. Beneath it she was dressed in a more modern outfit of bluejeans, layered henleys in rust and forest and a sturdy pair of hiking boots. The first thing she did upon rising was to resettle her green-tinted glasses onto her nose and shake the bracken from her spiky, dark-red hair.
The girl was a short witch (barely more than five feet tall) named Holly Evans. She mumbled, "I hate portkeys."
She dusted herself off a bit more while looking around the clearing until she caught sight of a wooden shack tucked near some boulders. Grabbing her canvas rucksack which had landed nearby, Holly sighed and trudged towards the shack. It was a run-down place, probably a hunter's retreat.
Entering it kicked up a swirl of dust that could be seen floating in narrow beams of sunlight. The main room had a small wood table with four chairs and a wood-burning stove, though unlit. A half-height bookcase acted as both side table and washbasin stand. Other than those sunbeams peeking through a few cracks in the boards over the one window, light was provided by an oil lamp set on the table.
Holly sat down at the table and placed her knapsack on it, rooting through the contents. She pulled out four objects; a tile-covered book, a folding travel chessboard, a crinkled paper sack filled with dark red candies, and a cigar box, labeled 'White Owl Invincible'. She opened the box to retrieve a thumb-thick cigar, tearing off the tip with her teeth and lighting the other end with a small flame produced from her fingertip. Once the smoke began to curl around her face, she sighed. She then began to fiddle with the notebook, rearranging the tiles woven onto its cover so that they formed a shallow bowl.
An older woman with greying blonde hair stepped forward from the other room in the shack. Her clothing consisted of a well-tailored navy-blue dress of sorts with flaring sleeves, ornately-embroidered trim and numerous openings for pockets that appeared to contain nothing, as they did not detract from the dress's clean lines and professional appearance. She sat opposite Holly, waving the smoke from her face.
Holly whispered, "You might want to take a deep breath of that, Director. It's very calming."
Director Bones replied, "If you think it necessary, why not drink a Calming draught?"
Holly pointed at the bag of candies with her cigar. "That's what's in those. I got tired of Albus' lemon sours, so they're black cherry flavoured."
"Then why do you-?"
"ALL OF IT! ...Ma'am. I need... all of it, to do this." Holly then gave the Director a look of apology for her outburst.
"That doesn't quite smell of tobacco..."
"The center is hemp, Madame Bones."
"Where would you get such a thing?"
"It's a gift from a very large friend. Can we start, now?"
The stern-faced witch paused a moment, taking a calming breath. "Very well, then. You have been summoned for a hearing on Monday next, to attest to those events that occurred on 24th June that resulted in the death of your fellow champion Cedric Diggory, as well as the deaths of the following men: Vivien Avery; Caiphus Cook; Argyle Crabbe; Richard Derrick Sr.; Roderick Gibbon; Gerald Grimbly; Erwin Hastings; Trevor Jugson; and Aristotle Nott. I have come here to record your testimony, so that you might not be required to go over all the details in a public forum with the press attending. I have a few questions for you, that you will answer truthfully. To ensure that result, you will be taking Veritaserum-"
Holly rasped out, "No."
She cleared her throat before clarifying, "I said 'no'; I will not be taking Veritaserum. You are not here to collect or record my testimony, nor will I guarantee that anything said or seen here today is the whole truth. What you will get is as honest a recounting of the meaning of my experiences as I'm willing to give. I will cover the events leading up to my being burned to death, and how those events led to the death of several prominent members of society who aren't worthy of your sympathy. I'm doing this because you deserve to know more. You've earned my trust, at least temporarily."
Director Bones sat back. "And how did I accomplish that? I sent you to Azkaban."
"Yes, and you also have an undercover agent close to me, telling you of my secret plans to destabilise the magical world and undermine the authority of Albus Dumbledore. But you did these things in the interest of protecting magical society. I'd swear, you're one of the last independent thinkers left in the Ministry. You've earned the truth by being you."
The Director gave Holly a moment's re-consideration. "Tell me what you wish for me to know, then."
"The first thing you need to know is this." Holly grimaced in pain for a moment, and then her form changed to that of Harry Potter- seemingly a short reincarnation of James Potter with paler skin, wearing the same clothes Holly had been.
Amelia bolted back from the table, her wand aimed between Harry's eyes; one deep green, the other a sightless grey. They stared back at her from over the green-tinted lenses that had slipped down his nose.
"We've met before under other circumstances. I'm also Harry Potter. My knickers are binding me up awfully right now, so I'm going to switch back, alright?"
Amelia nodded nervously, though she never took her eyes from her target.
Harry shifted back into Holly, immediately releasing her squint and held breath in relief. Amelia slowly lowered her wand and stepped forward to get a closer look at Holly's face. Behind the tinted glasses that obscured Holly's eyes, she now saw that the left eye was only an empty socket that was occupied by a moving sphere of whitish gelatin of some sort, reminiscent of Alastor Moody's replacement eye. Thankfully it didn't appear to flick about in all directions as his did.
Holly glared back at the Director as the woman returned to sitting. She took a moment to draw deeply from her cigar once more. Her body relaxed into the exhale.
"I am Harry. I was born Harry. I only became Holly when Lily sacrificed her life and soul in a modified ritual intended to protect her son from the soul curses. I'm telling you this because it is relevant to these events that you know one other effect of that ritual. When Voldemort was defeated-"
Amelia gasped slightly at the sound of the Dark Lord's name.
"Pull it together, woman! When Volll-deee-morrr, whose birth name was Tom Riddle, killed Lily and then tried to kill Harry, his second Killing Curse was reflected back upon him, destroying his body in an explosion that blew apart the upper floor of the Potter's house. Despite this, Riddle survived, though only as a spirit. Somehow a part of his soul was caught in the wake of all this wild magic, and ended up attached to my forehead. The other consequence of Lily's sacrifice was that her soul was merged into my body, and thus I was changed into a girl. I grew up unaware of any of these circumstances- I just thought my parents were killed in a car crash and that I was placed with my muggle relatives to be raised as their servant girl."
Holly took a draw from her cigar, allowing the Director a moment to catch up.
Amelia shook her head. "These... this is extraordinary!"
"No doubt. I'm sure you would have heard about it if this sort of thing had happened before. The next event of note is the death of Professor Quirrel in 1992."
"Which was never explained to my satisfaction."
Holly nodded. "Professor Quirrel was voluntarily playing host to Riddle's wayward spirit. They were nearly able to steal the Flamel Stone from Hogwarts, except that I stood to oppose them. In the course of that fight, I shoved the Stone into Quirrel's mouth and used magic empowering my fist to shatter it. The resulting explosion of his head left small pieces of the stone embedded in my flesh."
"You... killed a man. You were twelve at the time?"
"My age is a point of some debate, but for all I knew I was twelve then, yes."
"And how is it that you can empower a fist with magic?"
"You should read some muggle comic books- they have all sorts of wonderful, imaginative ideas. That one came from a bloke named 'Iron Fist'. But never mind my hobbies. Do you recall the stories surrounding the death of Penelope Clearwater?"
"Ehmm... yes. She was killed by the basilisk's stare. The great beast was killed by Harry- wait, YOU killed it!"
"Yes. I killed it, using Gryffindor's sword. It's a story for another time, but the important detail is that I nearly died, crushed by its coils and poisoned by its venom. I was healed by the application of Phoenix tears, various potions and treatments applied by Healer Pomfrey, and an unusual catalysing effect from having the bits of the Philosopher's Stone stuck in my body. It changed me, in many ways that I do not wish to recount at this time, but it also empowered me, expanding my access to magic a bit. I had to relearn how to cast things so as not to overdo it."
"Why are you telling me this? I would think such a tale would lead many to desire your body and blood to empower their own 'access to magic'. It also supports those allegations from Rita Skeeter about your being inhuman."
"Why this is relevant goes back to the piece of Riddle's soul, stuck to my forehead. It was empowered as well. Once awoken, it began to feed me nightmares- memories, really, of the worst atrocities witnessed or committed by Riddle. Whenever my mental defenses were down, I would receive these horrible images. The soul-piece was corrupting me, trying to break down my will and my morals."
"Please specify- what do you mean by 'mental defenses'?"
"Occlumency. The notebook/Pensieve on the table there was created by Perenelle Flamel, who invented the discipline. It includes a chapter that explains how to develop the skill as a protection from magics that interfere with thought and memory- her specialty."
"Surely you couldn't learn that from reading a single chapter in a book!"
"No, but having tortures replayed in your head every time you relax gets to be a potent motivator for practicing. I learned quickly what would or wouldn't keep the horrors at bay. If I hadn't had the guide, I would have developed the techniques eventually anyway. It just would have taken ten times as long, and probably resulted in a few more murders before I had it down."
"Alright. Now, tell me why this is relevant to the events of June 24th."
"It is relevant, because the empowered soul splinter also served as a connection between me and Riddle. This connection also allowed me to see visions of him once he had returned to Britain in the company of Wormtail, or as you know him, Peter Pettigrew. This connection also fed visions to Riddle of my life, but only when I was experiencing great emotional stress."
"So, he saw your battle with the dragon in the Tournament?"
"Dragons, battles, plural- yeah, I would guess so, but that's not why I'm bringing this up. 'Great emotional stress' is another way of describing a sexual climax. Your secret agent and I have been... very active... in producing these stressful moments together."
Director Bones gave Holly a disbelieving smirk. "Riddle must just love you-"
"He felt pain when I felt pleasure. Love for him is an acid. A really tremendous, earth-rocking 'O' made him feel like he was bathing in cooking oil."
"I stand corrected. He must hate you more than any other person who has ever lived."
"Yes. He does." Holly smiled; the first time she had done so during the meeting.
"Miss Evans, I had no idea. I apologise. I had thought that you were being cheeky during your trial last year, but I have tortured you worse than I could have ever known. Three months in Azkaban must have been... truly like Hell itself."
"It would have been. That's why Tonks broke me out. I only stayed two weeks, in total." Holly stubbed out her current smoke and lit up another cigar. She took a deep pull, coughing hoarsely after seeming to swallow the smoke from around her head. For relief, she took another cherry sour.
Amelia had watched her movements through this while also deep in consideration. Finally she spoke up. "I... I don't know how to deal with you. On the one hand, you have confessed to escaping from your proper imprisonment, but on the other, I agreed even before we sat down that the sentence was cruel and excessive for your circumstance- killing Marcus Flint to prevent your rape at the hands of his gang. You readily admit to having the Dark Lord as an invader in your mind, yet your confessing of it indicates that you feel it is not sufficient threat that you would ask me to kill you, for the safety of everyone."
Holly corrected her. "Had. I had the Dark Lord as an unwanted mental house guest. His splinter has been removed, the connection severed."
"And how was that accomplished?"
Holly leaned back and took another drag from her cigar. "That... is the story you're here to be shown."
She swirled her index finger next to her temple and concentrated. As she pulled her hand back, a silvery ribbon of memory was drawn out. Holly snapped her head to the left slightly to detach it and then reached forward to place the luminous strand into the small tiled bowl on the notebook. She gave the Director a haunted look.
"You get to see my six hours in Hell."
Holly and Amelia found themselves standing near the edge of a graveyard. The memory started up with the arrival, by portkey, of Cedric and Holly in their Tournament garb. The moment they landed, a squat man popped out from behind a nearby tombstone and Stupefied them both.
Amelia turned to her fellow observer. "I don't understand this. How can you see things in the Pensieve from when you were unconscious?"
Holly barked out, "HALT," and the scene froze in time.
"This isn't just my memory. This part comes from Newt." Holly held out a cupped hand. The gel-looking sphere in her eyesocket slipped out from behind the glasses and formed into a pale lizard-shaped blob of animate ink. It crawled down Holly's arm to present itself to Amelia's scrutiny. The Director leaned forward, placing her monocle in her left eye. Newt winked at her and smiled.
"Fascinating. But I thought your Pensieve only allowed two observers at a time."
"Well, my daughter is the exception to many rules."
"Your daughter?" Amelia watched as the ink creature climbed back up Holly's arm and returned to the safety of her eyesocket.
Holly explained, "Mutating due to phoenix tears, basilisk venom and Flamel stone did a number on my biology for a while. Newt is the little blessing that made suffering through it worthwhile."
"I remember you suddenly matured over a weekend, shortly before your last encounter with Mr. Flint. Was that just another unfortunate effect?"
"That was Hermione's brilliance, curing me of being that hybrid creature. That was the same weekend where I learned I was Harry."
"And thus the first public appearance of Harry Potter, being seen entering Gringott's."
"Yeah. It was a pretty bad news day."
"Why would you say it was 'bad'?"
"That's when I learned that the Potter fortune had been embezzled, and Harry is theoretically in debt to the goblins for a half-million Galleons."
"You told me when we were hunting for Sirius Black that the goblins want Holly for themselves."
"Uh huh. They're willing to clear the debt and return nearly five million Galleons if Harry will sign rights for Holly's life over to them. Before you ask- I still don't know why, but it may have to do with a goblin prophecy about a 'burning dark girl'."
"And... why would you tell me about Newt?"
"She's a co-star in our show. You'll see. RESUME."
Holly and Amelia watched as Wormtail and the Riddle-baby thing gathered the two champions and twisted time back 6 hours using a Time Turner from around Wormtail's neck. They then moved everyone to a low point in the graveyard in front of a Mausoleum marked 'Riddle'.
Amelia mused as they walked to catch up with the show. "Time Turners are highly-controlled by the British Ministry. Someone with considerable influence must have been aiding them."
"Couldn't it be a non-British Turner?"
"No. Our Ministry is the only one in the world with access to Time Turners. It is a uniquely British magic."
Holly gave the Director a thoughtful look. "Huh. The sun still never sets on the British Empire, except when they want it to. ACCELERATE."
The process of preparation by the Riddle-baby and Wormtail flashed by at high speed. Amelia politely turned away as Holly and Cedric were stripped and inspected, then strapped to monuments. Holly kept the fast-play moving through the first attempt that was suddenly aborted.
Amelia turned to Holly and asked, "Wait. Why are they restarting the process?"
"I spat in their gravy. You can see Wormtail turning me the other way to prevent that for the second go."
Once again the preparations came to a head, with Wormtail slicing off his own hand as the third main ingredient. Holly called out, "RESUME." The memory slowed to a real-time speed of display.
They watched as the mixture turned sour due to Newt releasing a liquid into the mix.
"See- that's Newt. She had collected some of my urine. She was a real trooper that day. ACCELERATE."
Amelia saw Holly's pillar ripped off its pedestal and dropped upside down in front of the Riddle Mausoleum. The sped-up process continued, though Wormtail's missing hand slowed his progress considerably.
Amelia turned back to the real Holly. "Is it my imagination, or are you in constant pain during this?"
"I was. You remember the splinter of Riddle in my forehead? It was screaming at me the whole time. Try doing magic while surrounded by fifty shrieking ten-year-olds, except they know your name and constantly babble about how their master will strip your skin from your body and rape your soul. It got worse when he rose."
"So I take it they were eventually successful."
"Third time's the charm. RESUME."
The twisted homunculus of Tom Riddle hissed, "Hurry up, Wormtail!"
The Riddle-thing was suspended above the cauldron by one of its feet. Pettigrew finally succeeded in slicing off his big toe and adding it to the brew. He then tremulously aimed his wand at his suspended master and said, "Liberacorpus."
The gruesome thing fell into the broth. In the memory, the air and earth seemed to ripple in protest of the magic being invoked. Holly appeared to be resisting a hellish torture within her head. Cedric didn't seem to fare much better; though he was gagged, he successfully vomited past the cloth onto his bare chest.
The cauldron itself was consumed in the dark cloud of Riddle's rebirth. He stretched forth as a pale, noseless, hairless being... with both sets of genitalia and a modest pair of breasts.
Amelia whispered with disgust, "Merlin preserve us."
Once properly reformed, Riddle gathered smoke and mist about him until he was clothed in a heavy black hooded robe.
And then he disappeared.
The Director gasped and then called out, "HALT!"
Holly gave her a meaningful look. "Yeah. He's still there, we just can't see him. Even in the memory, though, you can still feel his presence, can't you?"
She nodded slowly. Holly called out, "RESUME."
Wormtail shuffled forward to where the Dark Lord had been standing, mewling, "Master, my Master! Here is your wand."
From somewhere nearby, they heard a ghostly voice call out, "Come to me, my Death Eaters!"
While they couldn't see Riddle, they could see a bony wand applied to Wormtail's forearm tattoo, making it slither and glow.
Within minutes, several meteors of black smoke plummeted into their clearing, each one coalescing into a black-robed person wearing an ornate silver and white mask, never with the same design. Each one bowed towards where Riddle was probably standing and then moved to a position in a semi-circle of several rows. They stood quietly as more of these wraith-forms appeared.
Amelia whispered to Holly, "Have you ever seen that form of transport before?"
"Funny; I was going to ask you that same question. It appears to be a physical mist form, thus the speed is much slower than Apparating. Still- it works through the Anti-Apparation jinx, so you can't fault them for the ingenuity. Also, it explains how the Death Eaters often intruded on their most-protected enemies, back in the day. What I wonder is how the ones in Azkaban don't escape. Mind you, the Dementors prevent a person from focusing on anything, but you'd think the typical Death Eater would make an extra effort if it meant escaping from those demons."
"I'll have to look into that."
Finally, however many faithful were expected had arrived, and they could hear Riddle address his troops.
"My friends. I am so happy to see you all come so promptly to celebrate my resurrection."
One figure mumbled, "Not all..."
"Avery, are you concerned with the absence of some of our trusted comrades? Fear not; those who are missing are not expected... or will be dealt with. Instead, prepare yourselves for a return to glory! A return to power! A return to strength!"
The assembled rose up in cheer from the speech, and quieted just as quickly to allow their master to continue.
"I have arranged for a 'coming back' party, one that will stun the magical world into submission. We have gathered this day to celebrate my rebirth, but tonight, we shall revel in our latest victory! In a short while, the Cup that brought my two visitors here to help..." at this, the Death Eaters laughed.
"Yes, they have been most helpful. Their conveyance will bring us back into the arena at Hogwarts, where we shall rain down destruction on the coddlers of mudbloods and muggles, from both the school and the Ministry."
Another cheer, slightly less enthusiastic.
"We should thank our helpers! Allow me to introduce you. This is Cedric Diggory." Cedric was highlighted by a nimbus of yellow. He looked around in a panic, but couldn't shift far with his bonds so tightly knotted.
"Mr. Diggory comes from a poor but decent family and has done us no particular wrong. We shall spare him of any trouble. Our other guest is of rather more interest."
The memory-Holly's body, still suspended by her feet from the pillar leaning on the Mausoleum door, was flipped up and levitated to the center of the proceedings.
"This is Holly. Black Holly. The Unholy Evans. Lady Holly Jade Evans of the House of Black. Tell me, my friends, does she appeal to you?"
Several low chuckles rumbled up, but another voice barked out, "She's a half-blood lesbianist whore!"
"Ah, Jugson. You should not judge her so harshly. She has provided for my return by her own vow of non-aggression. She doesn't threaten us. At least for now."
Memory-Holly relaxed a little in her restraints. The real Holly sucked in a breath and held it.
"Still, the Portkey won't be ready for a while. Rape her."
The cloaked figures went quiet, several having made a half-step backward.
The Dark Lord must have appeared upset, as his following command was unusually venomous, as well as magically reinforced. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I said, 'RAPE HER'."
Memory-Holly growled out, "Riddle..."
Amelia shouted, "HALT!"
The real Holly turned to look at her with a tightly-imposed calm. "Yes, Director?"
Director Bones took a moment to recover her composure. She then politely offered, "I would be amenable to skipping forward, if you prefer."
Holly stared at her for several uncomfortable moments. Finally, she said, "Fine. Just shut your eyes while I accelerate to a point where you need to pay attention again."
The memory-Holly's body lay splayed on the stone table with cuts and bruises covering her. Blood and other fluids dripped from her skin onto the grass.
The voice of the Dark Lord came close enough to whisper in her ear. "Release her from the hexes. I'd like her to speak."
Holly's body was released from Death Eater control, and she immediately doubled up and turned to vomit onto the ground.
Riddle teased, "I'm sorry. Did you drink too much, my dear?"
The Death Eaters laughed and followed around her as she rolled off the table and retched again. Her body was overcome with convulsions from overused and torn muscles. Her lips were cracked and torn.
Riddle spoke with a pleasant, airy quality. "Please understand, Miss Evans. This wasn't personal. In fact, now that you've gone through our 'hazing ritual', you can become one of us! Would you like that? To have the power to punish others for your suffering, and the freedom to indulge your every whim? I can give that to you. Think about it. We'll be back in a few hours to see about your response. Wormtail, petrify her. The rest, stow your john-thomases and follow me."
Holly wrested control of her voice from her pain and fear. "D-done so soon? Tell me, Devo. Why make everyone else do the work? C-can't get it up?"
"What? What did you call me?"
"Immortal Lord Devo. It's a much better anagram. At least, it would have been until nineteen se-seventy-eight or so."
"You will address me as 'my Lord'!"
"R-really? Sure it's not... milady? Tell me, can you even get an erection anymore?"
"You will stop this-"
"Breasts too tender, maybe?"
Holly screamed while her body writhed in a furious twisting of muscles and limbs.
The Death Eaters threw out a cheer as their master hit Holly again with the torturous curse.
Her screams continued for a moment after the spell let up. Riddle's voice teased, "Hurts, doesn't it?"
Holly dribbled blood and spit from her mouth but smiled all the same. "Are you k-k-kidding? I f-finally climaxed."
Holly's breathing after the cessation of this round was having difficulty, but her demeanor seemed to rally at this point.
"C-c'mon, Devo. My muggle uncle did worse with a car battery and an icewater bath!"
The third time, Riddle had chosen to target Cedric instead. The boy's screams filled the night sky. The Death Eaters turned to watch him squirm under the Cruciatus.
With the attention of the assembly focused away from her, Holly quickly rolled in to a crouch and grabbed a broken-off piece of tapered marble from a nearby grave. She deftly stalked up behind one of the Death Eaters in the back of the mob. With a double-handed overhead swing, she caved in his skull. The one next to him shouted, "Nott? Fucking Hell!"
Holly hadn't waited for a response, immediately releasing the stone and taking the dying man's wand for her use. She ducked between the headstones and, with a moment's concentration, disappeared into the background under a Disillusionment charm.
"HALT!" The Director of Magical Law-Enforcement glared at the real Holly.
Holly looked back at her and then back at the scene. Aristotle Nott had collapsed to the ground, blood in the process of running out of the opening in his head like a wellspring, frozen though it was at that moment in the memory. She then looked back at the Director.
Amelia pointed at Nott's body. "You murdered him!"
"So you can see where I don't necessarily want to consider this as giving testimony."
"You didn't need to kill him. Why did you do that?"
"You mean, aside from his family buying Potter Manor for a pittance with collusion from the goblins? He'd just raped me and was conspiring to commit mass murder and mayhem. I don't work for you, Director. When the law demonstrates its ability to protect me and mine, I may ask to live within its protection. Until then, you can expect that I'll abide by the law mostly by accident. RESUME!"
The memory continued its recounting, but Amelia stalked up to the real Holly in a rage.
"There was NO EXCUSE for that! If you had the opportunity to escape, you should have taken it!"
Holly faced the Director. "Funny; I thought Hufflepuffs admired those that stood by their friends. Cedric was still alive! I couldn't leave him there. I... well look." Holly pointed to a distant headstone that exploded into several Death Eaters as they ran towards it, tracking Holly's false trail.
Soon after, Holly redirected Madame Bones' attention to where Cedric was lashed to an angel of death statue. They could hear Memory-Holly whispering to Cedric, then she cut his bonds. Before either could make good their escape, Cedric's naked body was lifted up into the air twenty feet by some invisible hand around his throat. He struggled, choking. Holly was also flung into the air and then thrown into a dense collection of sharp tombstones, hard enough to break her right arm and scrape her face bloody. A stone sphere seemed to grow from out of the ground, and Holly's hands and feet were seized by animated plants. She was stretched backwards over the 6-foot stone sphere with her hands and feet mummified in the strangling roots.
From nearby, they heard Riddle shout, "My friends, the party is back here."
The Death Eaters quickly reconvened near the Mausoleum.
Riddle used his power to shake Cedric's body in the air several times, and then dropped him forcefully onto the ground in front of Holly.
"It seems our agreement has been broken. I am very disappointed, Miss Evans."
Cedric clambered up to kneeling, but was forced back down to all fours with an unseen gesture from the Dark Lord. Cedric looked panicked as his own limbs shifted outside of his control to present his bare arse to the sky.
"Since Mr. Diggory has been left out of the festivities up until now, we shall see about 'catching him up.' A number of you are prone to enjoy such entertainments; please, step forward."
Six of the masked men moved towards the front of the assembly, once more strapping back the bottom half of their robes to provide free movement for their hardening manhoods.
Cedric looked at Holly with an overwhelming dread, trembling fear overcoming all his self-control.
Riddle barked out, "Wait!"
His men stopped their advance.
"It occurs to me that young Mr. Diggory might prefer to earn his freedom from us. All you have to do, Mr. Diggory, is kill Miss Evans." Wormtail's hunting knife dropped point-first into the ground between Holly and Cedric.
"Kill her, and I promise to let you leave... unmolested." The Death Eaters jeered and laughed at the humour.
Cedric trembled in fear and confusion. In a daze, he gently pulled the knife from the ground and shuffled forward to look at Holly.
Holly's eyes swirled and glowed, drawing Cedric in to stare at them. He found himself leaning forward until their foreheads touched. At the same time, Cedric brought the knife blade up to press against Holly's throat.
Riddle cackled. "A moment of intimacy, before you choose? I'll allow it."
Cedric whispered, "Holly, I can't..."
Holly concentrated. A moment later, she shouted...
... and Cedric toppled backwards, dead. The lingering green light from the spell left his forehead like smoke.
Amelia stepped forward. "HALT!"
Holly interrupted, "Just shut up and watch. RESUME!"
The Death Eaters stood stunned. Memory-Holly strained to break free of her tethers, but was interrupted when her tongue was pulled to stretch out of her mouth by over a foot, until taut.
Wormtail's hunting knife was yanked out from Cedric's lifeless grip and spun through the air, stopping suddenly to hang before her eyes. Riddle whispered, "Enough of you."
Her tongue was severed near the root. Blood gushed from her mouth.
Riddle whipped the tongue into the air like a celebratory streamer, provoking another cheer from the Death Eaters. It landed some feet away, only to be retrieved by Wormtail to some laughter.
"Anyone else want a piece of her? We've certainly been inconvenienced enough to justify keeping a trophy from this one."
One man stepped forward. "Please, My Lord. 'This one' owes me an eye."
Amelia paled. "Is that... Walden MacNair? He's been missing for the last week."
Holly nodded. "I'm the one who poked out his eye in summer of '93. He felt justified."
A cheer went up and the burly man took hold of the hunting knife. He strolled forward and stood there for a moment. With little ado, the knife was plunged into Holly's left eye, but not far enough to take anything but her vision. He pulled the knife away in an arc, cutting her face open near the socket.
A second cheer greeted his roar of victory.
The mutilator turned back and crouched in front of Holly. "I should take the other one, too. Maybe the Dark Lord will reward me, allow me to keep you, my little dearie. I'll put you in your own cage, where I can feed you and teach you tricks. Would you like that?"
Holly stared at the man with her remaining eye. The two locked gazes for a long moment.
They could all see Holly slump in defeat. The conjured sphere melted back into the earth, leaving Holly chained by the binding roots, kneeling on the ground.
The Death Eater that had taken her eye rose to his feet. He took three steps back from facing Holly and spat at her ruined body. He then dropped the knife, drew his wand and incanted, "Avadaaaaa..."
Riddle lurched forward, screeching, "MacNair, NO!"
A charge of green light arced between MacNair's wand and Holly's scar. MacNair's body filled with an eerie light emanating from his pores and orifices, and then he exploded into a bright green ball of fire. It burned up four others standing near him, plus one recently resurrected Dark Lord. Several others were burned as well, stuck trying to Apparate until Riddle's jinx fell with the destruction of his body.
Memory Holly was also caught in the blast and fell backwards. Her hair burned and her skin cooked into a paper-thin covering.
The flames cleared and Amelia stood up from her crouch behind a memory-tombstone, then looked at Holly, standing there. She was smiling again.
"I love that part. Y'know, aside from me being burned as well. Watching it in replay is... therapeutic." A giggle escaped Holly's lips.
They could hear men moaning. One shouted, "The Dark Lord! He... he..." and another answered, "He is gone, burned like the others! Exeunt, lads!"
Over a dozen Death Eaters Disapparated in a mass exodus.
Amelia looked around as the memory continued. She heard the moans of the dying taper off into silence. She turned to Holly and asked, "Is that not the end?"
"Nope. I was still conscious. With Riddle's body destroyed, all his protections fell. I could be found."
'Harry' arrived on a broom, seeing the crater and the bodies.
"HALT- I thought you said-"
"It's Tonks. RESUME."
Harry landed and began to wander towards the centre of the action. He changed into Natalia and then tripped over Cedric's body, which was mostly unaffected by the fire aside from his legs being charred.
The Auror gasped out, "Oh, fucking Hell. H-holly? Where are you, sweetie?"
Natalia cried out and rushed forward, tripping again into kneeling a few feet away from Holly's charred body.
"Oh Shite! You're alive? (Blooorgghhh!)"
Once finished being sick on the grass nearby, Natalia crawled over, a mix of worry and horror etched in her face. She looked down on the burnt body, holding a hand to her mouth.
Holly opened her right eye, startling Nat once more.
After taking control of her hyperventilating, Natalia carefully crawled up so that she could look straight into her eye, while trying to ignore the state of the surrounding person.
A few moments passed with the two locked in a stare. Natalia then sat back on her heels and pointed her wand at Holly. She was so overwrought that she could barely aim, her arm shaking horribly. Finally she cast out, "Dormus, my love."
Holly's body relaxed into sleep.
Natalia dried her eyes and then shifted back into Harry. Harry-Tonks then carefully moved Cedric's body over to where Holly was laid. He grasped the two champions in one arm, An 'Accio Tri-Wizard Cup' later, they disappeared from the graveyard with a flash.
With the one memory ended, darkness enwrapped the two witches.
"Not done yet."
Another memory started.
Wormtail returned in the form of a silver-clawed rat. He transformed into his human self and bowed to a large snake that also approached the crater. He scavenged the area, filling a satchel with any wands found, Death-Eater masks and other interesting leftovers, also confirming that Riddle's manufactured body had already collapsed into an unrecognizable pile of goo. As he worked, he burned the Dark Mark off any corpse that still bore it.
Wormtail then entered the Riddle mausoleum, emerging soon after with a wooden box containing the bones of Riddle's family, plus Holly's clothing and weapons. He knelt down to allow the snake to slither around his shoulders. Just as Aurors began to arrive in a collection of 'pop's, he Disapparated.
Holly called out, "END."
Holly poured the memory strand out of the shallow bowl and into a glass tube. She then stashed the memory into her satchel. She pulled on a green tile at the edge of the bowl; the other tiles constituting the bowl atop the notebook all slipped and smacked back into place across the cover.
Amelia glared at Holly as she finished her puttering. "You killed Cedric Diggory with a Killing Curse. You killed Aristotle Nott. Your stone shattering trap mangled... I think it was Jugson."
Holly popped a candy in her mouth and sat back in her chair. "Thank you- I try."
"And it was your protection that immolated Walden MacNair and those caught in the blast. You knew it would have that effect!"
Holly inhaled deeply from a newly-lit cigar, slowly nodding. "I felt justified."
"The premeditated murder of more than one magical person is enough to earn a trip through the Veil."
"Really? Why are there so many Death Eaters in Azkaban, then?"
"The Ministry could not prove what they each had done- the masks prevent identifying individual actions. On the few occasions where a lone captive confessed, he invariably laid the blame for the most heinous crimes on those that were killed in their capture. You don't have the protection of that anonymity. Why should you remain free?"
Holly squinted in annoyance. "Director, are you suggesting that I should have simply 'taken it'? Allowed myself to be used, molested and probably killed, so that the law would be satisfied with my actions?"
"No. No, I'm merely concerned with whatever acts of retribution you intend to commit. I imagine that you're hoping I'll let you operate freely, as a fellow witch."
"Maybe I didn't make myself clear, before. I used to have screams in my head. Everything's quiet now. I'm not going to pursue vengeance, particularly as I've already done in a good subset of the guilty."
Madame Bones stared at her for a moment before shifting in her chair in discomfort. She shook her head. "This has been informative, but Pensieve testimony is not admissible on its own as proof of anything. Most people's memories aren't this detailed, and often change to suit their beliefs about what they saw."
"You'd like proof, then?" Holly pushed the travel chessboard towards Amelia. She opened it. Within were only twenty-five pieces, each labeled at the base with the name of a Death Eater. All the pieces were black and most were pawns.
Holly explained, "Madame Pomfrey used the records from their attendance at Hogwarts to match the samples taken from my body."
"Of semen. The samples are stored in the base of each piece, other than Riddle's, of course. He never touched me sexually. He used the landscape to do his raping for him."
Amelia rolled several pieces around to read their labels. "Why is he the black queen? Shouldn't he be the King?"
"He's the most powerful black piece on the board, just as Albus would be the white queen. They're both queens."
"What does that make you?"
"The red rook."
"Not the queen?"
"No. I know my place, and I've been captured and taken from the board."
Amelia gave Holly a suspicious glare. "Who would I be?"
"You are a white bishop, but I'm hoping you'll convert to red."
"Who are the kings?"
"Ideas. Or background manipulators. Perhaps Grindelwald is the black king, or maybe it is evil itself; the amoral exercise of power for its own sake. Our white king could be magical society, or the Ministry. Maybe there's a plotter deep in the Department of Mysteries or the ICW that has a backup plan. I hope so."
"And the red?"
"If I knew for certain who my royalty was, I might have survived this game. I was working for those who would change the game entirely. Our king is... the responsible exercise of free will with a conscience. I suppose our queen is the witch known only as Spiral, though she's a hard one to find and doesn't act directly. She's the one who gave me that book and taught me how to turn fear into anger. Our other bishop was probably the Flamels themselves, so maybe I've been fighting a war we've already lost too many pieces to win."
Holly lights up a new cigar and sighs deeply. "Anyway, enough analogies. I'm not giving you this evidence to aid in their prosecution- it's meant for blackmail. You're outnumbered. These are the men who constitute the ones to watch. The ones to track. The ones to avoid. These are the ones that will be trying to kill you, eventually. Maybe this way you can arrange for some time to prepare."
"At least... Riddle is finally gone."
"No, he isn't. Not in the least."
"What? I saw it! He was incinerated!"
"That's what happened to him on Halloween, 1981, too. He's been there and done that. He's still alive, and I know this for certain because he has already reconstituted himself and sent me a love letter. He quoted passages of my own private Journal that was left behind at the scene, which was linked to one in Minerva's possession. Albus Dumbledore put the secrecy charm on that Journal, and I sealed it with a blood ward; I doubt there are any aside from Riddle who could break into it, and him only because he had my tongue readily at hand to play with. Riddle lives- no doubt he's converted another pawn of the White to make a new body. As I understand it, an old friend of Albus' named Elphias Doge has been missing for nearly a week."
"He has, though we have reason to believe he's still alive."
"I really feel sorry for him, then."
"Do you? Miss Evans, I have never met a more difficult witch to judge in my life. For as useful this encounter has been, I'd rather have you Obliviate me, now. Come Monday, I'll re-hear what portion of these events you choose to share with the Wizengamot, and the rest I'd just as soon never know."
Holly grimaced and rubbed the lower part of her abdomen as if from digestive discomfort. She then hastily gathered into her rucksack the notebook, her cigars and the bag of candies. She rose from her chair, turned and moved to leave.
The Director grumbled, then said, "If you won't Obliviate me, I'll have someone trustworthy do so. But perhaps you could explain one more thing. If you were burned almost to death, Miss Evans, how is it that you are whole and unharmed now?"
Holly turned to face the woman. After a pause she replied, "Whole? Unharmed? Clearly, you have not been paying attention. As to my appearance..."
Holly bowed her head. "A blessed miracle."
"I thought you might say 'magic'."
Holly scowled. "Grow up." She turned and left the shack, leaving the door ajar to allow the sunlight to obscure her departure.
A moment later, Natalia (Nymphadora) Tonks entered through the open door, much to Amelia's surprise. The bouncy, pink-haired witch gave Amelia a jaunty wave before flipping around the chair across from her to straddle it.
The Director gestured with her wand, sealing the cabin door shut. She kept her wand ready, by her side. "Auror Tonks! This was supposed to be a secure and private meeting. I had prepared this location to prevent tracking charms and Apparation. How did you find this place?"
"I'm not Auror Tonks right now, Amelia. Call me Callisto."
"I do not understand."
"Hols is my everything. Despite what I said back when you recruited me, my allegiance is to her first. That's why I'm here, and that's how I could find this place. Holly's here, so I'm here. I will never lose track of her again; I promise you that!"
"Are... are you here to... kill me?"
"Heavens, no! Though I have to say Amelia, asking her to Obliviate what she just told you was about as life-threatening a thing as I can imagine you could ask of her. Hols just poured out her worst experiences so that you would know who our enemies are, and you want to dismiss all that, just so you can sleep tonight? The way I see it, no one who cares about our world should be sleeping soundly, right now. I know I'm not."
"That's not the reason at all. This information is all extremely dangerous to possess, especially as it is so prominent in my thoughts. I have only just now come to realise how vulnerable we all are without training in this... Occlumency. Frankly, I thought it was a myth."
"Yeah, the Black's have always been good with secrets. Occlumency is one reason why."
"This is also arcana from the Black library?"
"Taught to family members in good standing for generations, but it takes years to perfect the skill. We must've scammed it from the Flamels at some point- stole their Stone, maybe."
"All the more reason to erase this day for me! A transcription of this testimony could provide enough information... but, no..."
Natalia stood up, pulled out the open chair next to Amelia and sat down close by, leaning in to offer her sympathy with an air of commiseration.
"You wanna protect your mind to save your life. I get that. How would you like to be able to protect your mind like a fortress, starting today?"
Amelia squinted at the enticing look Natalia gave her. She considered for several moments before she sat back in calm consideration. She replied, "What would that require?"
Natalia grinned, giving her boss an appreciative up and down ogle.
"A bit of 'getting to know you' clothes-less and you dedicating yourself to the Spiral Path. Spiral has empowered me to give you her Mark. If you take it, your mind will be protected and you can share in our secrets. You just have to share some of yours."
"And what do I give up in the process? I am not enslaving myself to be tortured or-"
"Spiral doesn't give orders, Amelia. She asks for your help. When you give it, she lets you know just how happy it makes her by making you happier. Our goals involve protecting the rights of all magicals against these conspiracies of control and subjugation, no matter their race or gender. We just acknowledge that fighting dirty is called for, so we use some of the enemies' tools, too."
"Have you ever met this... Spiral?"
"Amelia, I love Spiral. You know my appetites. She's the only one who ever... satisfied me. When you take the Mark, you'll have the opportunity to know that kind of pleasure, if you want it. No pressure- it's just a personal offer from me to you. Y'know- as a welcome to the red side."
"I didn't say I agreed-"
"Oh, pull the other one! What choice do you really have? Ignorance leading to death or the support of a growing fellowship plus ways to keep your secrets that you never knew you needed. Do you really want to go it alone?"
"I... I need time to consider."
"Of course." Natalia smiled and leaned in to kiss her boss on the cheek. "We could spend the day here, if you like."
Amelia turned to face the young metamorph with a look of shock.
"You weren't joking about... that?"
"Me? Never ever. Amelia, let me just say... you won't believe our incentive program! I'll just give you that time you wanted, now."
Natalia gave the older witch a wink as she stepped out into the sunlight, then closed the door behind her.
Amelia's eyebrows knotted. She mumbled, "What choice, indeed?"
Holly sat with her back to a tree, smoking to calm her jittery hands. She looked up when Natalia emerged from the cottage. The metamorph smiled widely and gave Holly a 'thumbs up' sign.
She nodded back and smiled slightly, stamping out her cigar into the soil between two roots. "Ohhh, Madame Bones. You really don't know what you're in for. But thank you for choosing to believe me." She stood up, took one more look at the shack, and then walked around to the other side of the tree where a red suitcase was leaning.
With a twist of the handle, the luggage was prompted to click and whir while various plates and tubes shifted in their arrangement. When the clacking and adjusting stopped, Holly stood before her reassembled Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. It had been a Christmas gift from her adoptive father, Sirius Black.
She mounted the machine, activated a Muting charm and then started it. A sound only as loud as a cat's purr came from the cycle. Holly sat for a minute to allow the fluids to flow through the engine. When it was ready, she donned her helmet and kicked off, threading her way back along the trail through the forest that Natalia had taken to get there.
Holly drove through the trees down to a dirt lane. As she accelerated onto a firm roadway, her cloak changed form as well; the fabric tightened to her shapely body, becoming a leather cycle outfit, tinted blood red.
Holly used thought to communicate with Newt, who was once more occupying her empty eyesocket.
'What do you think?'
'I think you'd better speed up or Hermione'll take a cab home from King's Cross... Spiral.'
'Shhh! That's supposed to be a secret! Call me 'Mum', like you used to.'
'Howabout I call you 'Granny Evans?'
'Howabout I mix you in with Chrys' baby food.'
'Howabout you not run into that lorry heading for us!'
Holly focused her attention on the road in time to swerve out of the way of an oncoming delivery van, though her escape path took her careening off of the narrow bridge the truck had been hogging. With a tap of two fingers on her handlebars, twin broom ends popped out from under her seat and the cycle lifted off into the sky. Another switch killed the cycle's engine sound completely and a third cast a Disillusionment over them.
Holly looked back over her shoulder. The lorry sped up as it rumbled away down the road.
'Bastard didn't even stop to check.'
'It's a cruel world, Mum.'
Amelia Bones apparated to the front door of her brother's house in Chelmsford. A brief moment to let the door recognise her and she was permitted to enter. She walked into the foyer, deep in thought.
Her niece Susan came down the hallway looking for who had arrived and gave her a sunny smile in greeting. "Auntie! You're home early. We were just planning to go out for a dinner. I also heard the most awful gossip; did you know that three girls from my year took the O.W.L.s already? Granger and Patil I can understand- they already were the top scorers; but the third was that show-off, Evans! For being such a glory-hound, she didn't even top the O.W.L. scores; well, at least she's gone now; and all the trouble along with her; even so, she probably cheated; for sure she got Cedric killed; can't the DMLE do something, Auntie?"
"Hmm? About what, Susan?"
"Black Holly! The girl should be thrown in Azkaban for life. No doubt she's running around, having sex with anything too slow to escape her grasp."
Amelia grabbed Susan by her arm and stared down into her eyes. "Shut. Up. You have no idea what went on during that contest. You don't want to know. Listen, Susan. Starting right now, I am going to prepare you for the world. It is a nasty, dangerous place that will tear you apart if you don't watch yourself."
Amelia cut her off. "No. You will be silent. Nothing you have said today was correct. I've never heard such absolute stupidity from you, ever before. To think- you're nearly the same age as her, yet you... your summer will be spent in penance and study."
"What? What did I do?"
"There's a war going on, Susan. A war to enslave the magical, but witches in particular. Holly Evans was, up until a week ago, the sole voice of resistance in that war. What happened at the end of that contest may spell the end of our freedom."
"But... but she's a slag and-"
"SILENCE! If I have taught you nothing else, I at least taught you not to engage in schadenfreude. That... girl was raped by the Dark Lord's followers for hours. She did it to save Cedric Diggory's life. She failed, and has suffered more than you will ever know. It is categorically impossible for any woman to suffer more than she has."
"Because she lived through it. There's a reason the expression 'fate worse than death' was devised."
"So... she isn't returning to Hogwarts, right?"
"Oh, I guarantee that she has been expelled at the minimum. My primary task for the next month is to ensure that she is not crucified by Minister Fudge."
Susan scoffed, adding in a mumble, "I doubt she'd care. Public opinion doesn't bother her much."
"Susan, I'm not engaging in hyperbole. If the Minister has his way, Holly will be physically dragged out into the center of Diagon Alley, her hands and feet nailed to wooden beams and set to hang from those spikes until she dies of exposure and dehydration over the next month."
"Aunt Amelia- d-don't be so... ridiculous! Who would do such a thing?"
"Muggles, hundreds of years ago. When they did it to each other, the strongest could only last a few days. Unfortunately, Miss Evans is a powerful witch. She would... heal."
"You said she had already suffered the worst that any witch could."
"Yes. I did. It would merely be adding insult to injury."
Supplementary note- these are key background chapters from the previous story that you might want to read. In addition, several of the Tangents contain moments of trauma or revelation that help define the characters. Read them at your own risk- usually the Tangents are comedy-erotica, but sometimes they're about sexual assault:
Ch 12 Pass With Your Best Violence - Holly vs. Lockhart, Ginny-Tom, & the Basilisk; it covers some of her background fairly well
Ch 13 I Feel Sick - each year tends to end with Holly vs. Albus; also ends with one of the squickiest moments in the story
Ch 16 Strange Conversations - Florean Fortescue makes an intriguing debut
Ch 19 Crimes Born of Passion - Holly and Hermione hook up
Ch 22 Who Are You - Part 1 of Holly's awakening to Harry
Ch 23 Holly's Crucible - Part 2; confronting Minerva (lotsa background)
Ch 24 Define FUBAR - Part 3; in case you thought the truth would help matters, things actually get worse
Ch 26 Bright Witches Must Be Dimmed - insights into Lily and Perenelle
T 9402 Striking Flint with Steel - Holly is captured by Marcus Flint and his gang. Bad things result.
Ch 27 Criminal - a view of Magical law in action
Ch 29 The Spiral - Holly changes her life's direction
T 9403b Polyamour - Holly and Tonks explore sexuality. Also the first Marking
Ch 30 Sordid Details - Holly summarizes Lily's life, based upon her extensive journals
Ch 33 Railroaded - Holly vs. Albus for year 3
T 9406 Floral Influence - Luna sends Holly some visions
Ch 35 Successive Cruelty - key explanations of earlier influences
Ch 36 Tense Negotiations - Holly and Albus come clean on prophecy
Ch 39 Red Light, Green Light - reSorted
Ch 43 Fresh Snow - Hermione and the Mark
T 9411 Witches' Tales - much about Padma and Violet, plus Hermione and Tonks argue over their roles in Holly's life
Ch 46 That Sinking Feeling - what fame can cost
Ch 47 Subsurface Tension - the 2nd Task, but it's more important for what happens afterwards
Ch 49 Coming of Age - the 3rd Task, though again, mostly relevant for the last section
T 9506 Six Hours - the unvarnished graveyard confrontation
Ch 50 Shattered - Holly vs. Albus for year 4; set up for this story's beginning