Title: Xerosis
Author: Batsutousai
Beta: Shara Lunison & magickmaker17
Rating: T
Pairings: Voldemort/Harry (post-Harry/Ginny)
Warnings: SLASH, AU, character death, super!Harry, Dark!Harry
Summary: Harry's world ends at the hands of those he'd once fought to save. An adult-Harry goes back to his younger self fic. Super!Harry

Disclaim Her: I apologise in advance for any misstatements made about the British government during this time-period, but politics and I very much do not get on, so much of what I found went right over my head. I did my best. Please feel free to rant at me if it makes you feel better. (Also do keep in mind that I'm American, so the British system is, at times, inconceivable to me.)

A/N: So, originally, I completely forgot about putting anything in about Terry's brother or Barty-stalking. And then you people were like, "OMG, BARTY-STALKING!" or "Please show what Harry does to Terry's brother?" and I was like "*sigh* Okay..." So those scenes are for you guys. Because I love you. (And because Barty is too much fun. XD)

Honestly, when I posted that note at the end of last chapter, I expected everyone and their mother to insist I update the following week with whatever I had, but only 35%-ish of you asked for that. The majority of you were okay with waiting. O.o I love you people.
So, for your awesomeness, this is the first bit of Harry's fifth year. The summer, specifically. Hopefully, the actual school year will be out next Thursday or, worst scenario, Thursday after that (erm, the 6th); I keep getting distracted by Criminal Minds and updating the wiki for people reading Fallen Night. ^.^"

-0-0-0-

Rage Like Fire

-0-0-0-

Harry hummed to himself a bit as he curled up in the library chair with a book. If Sirius saw what he was reading, he would be most disproving, but the man was off checking the progress on the wards over the cottage, and a ward on the hallway outside the room would warn him before anyone entered the room. Not that Harry expected anyone would, since most people avoided the house unless there was a meeting. Or they were watching him, in which case they avoided the library unless they needed him.

As Harry had half expected, his godfather had offered the use of his mother's house for the Order. Dumbledore had quickly placed it under Fidelius, having no intention of allowing Voldemort to find the building, especially once it was agreed that Harry would spend most of his summer there. Understandably, Sirius avoided the building as much as possible, so Dumbledore had set up a rotation of adults to stay in the house during Harry's stay. For all that the teen was mature for his age, the Headmaster wasn't willing to leave him completely to his own devices, no matter how much Sirius insisted Harry didn't need a baby-sitter.

Molly Weasley had been quite beside herself when she found out that Harry would be staying at Grimmauld Place by himself. She'd put forth various ideas of him coming to stay at the Burrow or perhaps all the Weasleys moving in with the boy to keep him company. Thankfully, Dumbledore had immediately refused any mention of Harry staying somewhere besides Headquarters or Sirius' cottage. Harry, himself, had been the one to veto anyone else staying with him full time, citing his need to get his work done in peace and catch up with his extra reading. Sirius had supported him, knowing well how Harry enjoyed his alone time during the summer. (Not that Harry didn't like the Weasleys, but he really had no interest in putting up with Ginny's crush or Ron's jealousy for the entire summer.)

Molly and her four youngest were often around, as the motherly woman had been quite adamant about spending some time around the Ravenclaw teen, and Dumbledore did seem to like the idea of him becoming friendly with the Weasleys. His close friendship with Lillian and her Darker friends had probably worried Dumbledore, for all that the man approved of reforming Slytherins.

As for the Dark Order, Voldemort had moved on to staging weekly attacks on mundane shopping areas, moving from city to city at random to keep the Order from guessing where they were going to strike next. Xerosis almost always appeared with him, making a point to use NEWT-level spells or above as often as possible to keep people guessing as to his real identity. He and Voldemort also made a point of scheduling attacks around lunch or supper-time, when someone would be certain to see Harry Potter in the kitchen, just in case some brainless Order member finally connected Harry's similarities to his other self.

Snape was, for the most part, at least told about the attacks before they happened, occasionally being dragged along for the Dark Lords' amusement. Snape was directed to not tell about some attacks or give misleading information on others. Every once in a while, he was allowed to forewarn the Order about an actual attack, to keep them from getting too suspicious. As far as Harry could tell from sneaking in to Order meetings, the spy was behaving himself, but Dumbledore occasionally gathered his forces to respond to an attack too quickly to have not been forewarned, which meant Snape may be relaying the information directly to the Headmaster, leaving the Order out of things. Harry didn't have any way to check, however, not with the way Fawkes had watched him the last time he'd shadowed in the Headmaster's office to watch Snape and Dumbledore talk. Without clear evidence of Snape's wrongdoing, he and Voldemort were at a bit of an impasse about whether or not to kill him, especially since he was still useful in giving them information on the Order and misleading them about half the time.

According to Lucius, who'd heard it from a distraught Fudge, the mundane Prime Minister was quite distressed by these attacks on his people and the magical government's inability to do anything about it. The mundane people themselves were freaking out a bit, and the Ministry couldn't seem to obliviate everyone who saw an attack, which caused all sorts of wild reports to be circulating about what the attacks actually were.

For the most part, Harry and Voldemort enjoyed the fear they were striking in the mundanes' hearts, but they also remained wary of potential back-lash, often picking up a mundane paper or finding a free telly and flipping it to the news to keep an eye on things. Lucius' reports also helped, since the Prime Minister and his Cabinet didn't seem to have any thoughts of returning fire. Yet. (Harry and Voldemort, who were silently following the political strife already ongoing in the country, privately agreed that the Prime Minister was too busy fighting with his party behind the scenes to take much care about the deaths of his people. Once Major handled things behind the scenes, he'd probably turn his attention more fully on the magical-mundane war brewing on the horizon.)

Harry glanced up as his alarm in the hall triggered and carefully switched the Dark book he'd been reading with a sixth year Transfiguration text he'd found in Regulus' old room. Moments later, the youngest Weasley poked her head in, cheeks flushed with heat. "Mum sent me to tell you lunch is ready, Harry," she breathed.

Harry sighed and nodded, waving her off. Every time he had to put up with this Ginny, he tried to find the woman he'd married, but all he saw was a young girl in the throes of hero-worship. He had to remind himself that this Ginny had never been touched by a Horcrux, had lived a sheltered life. Even now, she was sheltered, for all that a war brewed in the streets beyond their residence.

Ron was equally a problem. Harry saw a jealous boy where he'd once seen a brother and auror partner, whining about Harry's money or fame or about how he got to live in Headquarters and find out all about the Order's plans, etc. Harry had almost cursed him three times in the four weeks since school let out, and he never saw the boy except for the occasional meals. True to form, Ron avoided the library like it was a cursed tomb, which made it the perfect space for Harry to hide out.

The twins, on the other hand... Harry smiled to himself as he heard Ron let out a disgruntled shout down the hall, a sure tell that Fred and George had pranked him again. With them being seventeen, they took great pleasure in setting all sorts of traps for their younger brother or apparating straight to their siblings or mother. They'd tried catching Harry a few times, the first week, but his vampire senses often gave him warning of their tricks, and if it didn't, his knowledge of them and his own ability to wordlessly and wandlessly check anything and everything for unusual magics or potions warned him away from things. He'd also utilised a little-known personal ward that kept them from apparating within two metres of him, which kept them from surprising him like they did the rest of their family.

They were absolutely stumped that they could never catch him, but really it was just a new challenge. They occasionally tossed a few things at him, just to see what would happen, but he was still avoiding things without even seeming to try. They'd been pretty well behaved for almost a week, now, so Harry expected they'd try again soon.

"Oh, good." Molly smiled fondly as Harry entered the kitchen. "I hope you're hungry, Harry, dear."

"We know we are!" the twins chorused, dropping their arms around Harry's shoulders.

"Hm," Harry replied, ducking the silent giggling hex they both tried casting at him. As they started helplessly giggling, he took a seat at the table and shot Molly a smile at the offerings on the table. "This looks wonderful, Mrs Weasley."

"Well, tuck in!" Molly replied, beaming.

The twins finally managed to get themselves sorted and sat down on either side of Harry, wearing matching grins as they served both themselves and Harry. Harry cast his spell before tucking in, absently making a note not to eat the broccoli.

When he finally stood, having avoided participating in any conversation, the twins frowned at his plate, which had only broccoli on it. "You're not eating your veggies," Fred commented, eyes glinting happily.

"Pot, kettle," Harry replied, stepping over to the fridge to grab some carrots out of the crisper to munch on. "Didn't much feel like broccoli today. Sorry, Mrs Weasley."

Mrs Weasley smiled at him in response. "Don't worry about it, Harry, dear." Then she turned to her sons. "He's right, you know. Eat some broccoli."

Fred and George traded resigned looks, then reached for the pile of green on Harry's plate. They let out simultaneous squeaks before turning into red-haired mice.

The other Weasleys were momentarily stunned, then all started laughing. Harry chuckled himself and slipped from the room. The twins had ensured that the rest of their family had served themselves before they served Harry, so their broccoli had been free of spells. Mostly, that had been to keep Harry from catching on to the prank, but it never worked anyway.

-0-

"Jim Boot?" Harry asked, leaning against the doorway into Terry's brother's flat.

The teen who had answered the door frowned. "Yeah? Who're you?"

Harry smiled a cold smile, which only widened as the other boy took a few steps back in surprise. "I'm a friend of your brother's," he offered, slipping into the flat and shutting the door behind him

"You're just another freak!" Jim snapped, straightening and trying to appear unafraid.

Harry chuckled at that. "Yes, I am," he agreed. "However, I'm a freak who hates people without magic. Especially people without magic who hurt those with magic." He narrowed his eyes as the room chilled a good thirty degrees. "You've found pleasure in beating up your brother."

"Freaks should be beat!" Jim spat, eyes flicking around for an escape even as he kept his air of superiority. "Terry was a good kid before you lot got your claws into him!"

"Terry is still a good kid," Harry replied coolly, leaning back against the closed door without a care. "Any changes in his personality can be attributed to your abuse."

Jim glanced up and down the kid in front of him, a superior smile curling his lips even as he shivered a bit at the chill in the air. "You're the same age as my brother, aren't you? Terry told me about how freaks can't use magic until they're of age."

Harry smiled at that. "The Ministry of Magic places wards around the homes of mundane-borns to keep them from using magic, but you live here, by yourself, so no magic I perform will be picked up." His smile grew as Jim's eyes widened in understanding. "That's right, Jimmy-boy, no one's going to stop me from ripping your heart out."

"You're just a kid!" Jim tried, backing away from the boy with the cruel eyes.

"I am," Harry agreed. "However, I've also killed a couple hundred mundanes. What's to stop me from killing you?"

"Terry!" Jim insisted. "Terry won't let you kill me!"

Harry laughed and absently put silencing wards around the flat as he started towards the teen. "Terry's the one who gave me your address," he replied before snapping his wand forward and hissing, "Crucio."

Jim let out one long scream as he crumpled to the ground, twitching with pain.

Harry ended the spell after a couple minutes and came to kneel in front of the mundane. "You want to know a secret, Jimmy?" He smiled. "As far as the magical world is concerned, I'm pro-mundane. They expect me to be the one to save your sorry species."

Jim let out a faint whimper and struggled to drag himself away from the younger teen next to him.

Harry chuckled and pointed his wand at Jim's crotch. "Execo. Just to make sure there's no chance of you spreading your magic-hating genes," he offered as blood bloomed at the spot and Jim let out a pained cry. Harry got back to his feet and twirled his wand a bit. "Hm. Well, I have options, I suppose. I could cut you up some more. Which would be fun! But not nearly as satisfying. I could crucio you a bit more... Also fun. Maybe a bit of both? Crucio," Harry cast, then set about utilising the cutting curse to bleed the other while he screamed in pain.

By the time Harry ended the curses, there wasn't much left of Jim Boot except a slowly dying body. Harry leaned over him, careful to avoid the spreading blood, and smiled at what little sanity was left. "You know what's the best thing about my gift?" he asked rhetorically. "It doesn't need you to be sane to work." Then he opened his mouth and sucked down Jim's soul.

As he'd hoped, Jim knew of a few other anti-magic mundanes. Harry would have to visit them soon.

-0-

"Barty, is there a reason you keep looking over your shoulder?" Rabastan wondered drily as Barty did just that.

Barty twitched faintly and turned back to the chess game he was losing. "I can't help it," he whispered. "I swear there's someone watching me."

"...all that time under your father's thumb has made you just a little bit insane," Rabastan decided. "There's no one there."

Barty twitched again and looked over his shoulder at where he swore he heard a faint giggle. There was a shadow under a table with just enough space for a child the size of their young lord. "You're only saying that because you can't see him," he insisted. "But he's there. I swear he's there."

Rabastan sighed and got to his feet. "Where do you think this mystery person is?"

Barty pointed to the table, only to feel the eyes watching him disappear. "He's gone," he offered as Rabastan went to check.

The slightly older Death Eater gave him a disgusted look from next to the table. "Barty, there was never anyone there!"

Barty let out a faint whimper as he felt the eyes again and slowly turned to look at a new shadow. Bright green eyes glimmered at him for a moment before vanishing. The man shuddered again and hunched down in his chair. "Whatever I did, I'm sorry!" he complained to the room as Rabastan sat back down across from him.

"Barty..." Rabastan sighed, shaking his head.

"Oiy, Crouch! Stop being a loon!" another Death Eater complained from behind the day's Prophet.

The faintest of kisses pressed against Barty's cheek and he whimpered again. "Poor Barty," the young Dark Lord's voice whispered against his ear. "Scared of a shadow."

"Please, my Lord?" Barty tried.

"Barty, it's your turn. Stop talking to your imaginary friend," Rabastan called.

"He's not imaginary," Barty insisted.

A throat cleared in the doorway to the sitting room and all the Death Eaters immediately jumped to their feet and bowed to the Dark Lord. "Xerosis, stop stalking Barty."

The apparent vampire ended his invisibility spell and appeared just behind Barty's chair, making Rabastan jump in shock. "But he's so much fun."

"You're late for our meeting," Voldemort added before turning and leaving the room.

"Is it that time already?" Xerosis wondered, glancing over at a clock. "Hmm. Oops." He leaned over and kissed Barty's cheek again as the frazzled Death Eater returned to his seat. "I'll see you later, Barty."

"My Lord, please?" Barty tried again.

Harry chuckled and skipped out of the room, leaving all the other Death Eaters staring after him in disbelief while Barty whimpered and covered his face with his hands.

-0-

Harry was relaxing in the sitting room with the twins and a purple Ron when the whole place shook. A few car alarms out on the street started going off and all four teens ran to the grimy windows overlooking the street.

Far in the distance, a great cloud of smoke was rising, like some parody of a balloon. Down the street, someone was starting to cry.

Harry slammed the window open, startling Ron, who stood next to him. He strained for even the faintest sound of a telly or wireless, but heard nothing. He let out a few Mandarin curses under his breath, then spun and dashed downstairs to the kitchen, hoping the wizarding wireless would prove more useful. Behind him, the three Weasleys traded shocked looks, then hurried after him.

"What was that banging about?" Mrs Weasley asked as Harry slid into the room, but he didn't speak, only switching on the wireless and twiddling the dial to see if he could find something. Anything.

There. '...reports now coming in from just south of Regent's Park of a massive explosion. So far no certain reports of the numbers of dead, but the area is known to house a number of magical families...'

Harry gritted his teeth. Regent's Park was as much a mundane area as it was magical. Magical families with a lot of money and some knowledge of the mundane world often bought houses over there to show off their wealth and their fondness for mundanes. Tonks' parents – Andromeda, 'call me Andy,' and Ted – lived over there, as did Anthony Goldstein and his mum. He and Voldemort hadn't had any plans for an attack today, but it was just as much a possibility of it being a magical attack as it was a mundane one.

The floo in the kitchen flared green as the news started repeating again that nothing so far was known and they all turned to see Dumbledore brushing off his robes. He offered them a strained smile and requested, "I think it's best if the children retired elsewhere for a moment, Molly."

Molly nodded as the floo flared again, admitting more of the Order, and turned to the five children – Ginny had been in the kitchen when the boys had all come running in. "Come on, now, off you go."

Ginny bit her lip and turned towards the door obediently. Ron followed her with a disgruntled look while the twins had a moment of silent communication. "We want to know–" they started.

"Upstairs!" Molly ordered and the twins sulked towards the stairs. She turned to Harry with a smile, assured that he would leave without a fight as he usually did, but this time his eyes were hard. "Harry, dear–"

"I'm not leaving," Harry said quietly, absently noting that the four Gryffindors had stopped on the stairs up.

"Now, Harry, this really isn't a meeting–" Molly tried.

"One of my friends lives near Regent's Park," Harry interrupted. "And Cousin Andy! You can't just expect me to sit upstairs without a word! Voldemort already attacked my friends once this year–"

"This attack wasn't Voldemort," Dumbledore interrupted gravely.

Harry's breath caught. So, the mundanes had finally made their move.

"Not You Know Who?" Ron asked from the stairs, squeezing past his brothers.

"Upstairs!" Molly shrieked.

Harry briefly debated being obstinate and demanding to stay, but he was much more interested in finding out what had actually happened than sitting around listening to the Order argue, so he spun and stalked up the stairs without another word, brushing past the Weasley children a little more roughly than necessary, but he had other things on his mind, like getting to Regent's Park and seeing the devastation himself. Anthony wasn't really his friend, but Andy was family. She had been the one to raise his godson and taught Harry so much about taking care of a family. And when Sirius had introduced them in this life, she'd been just as cheerful as he remembered her, insisting right away that he call her Cousin Andy.

If Andy and Ted were dead, it wouldn't just destroy Sirius, it would hurt Harry, too. He didn't want the first deaths of this war to be Andy. Wasn't losing Ginny right off the last time punishment enough?

He hurried to his room, grabbing his broom and Invisibility Cloak out of his trunk. He took a moment to make sure his extra wand and time-turner were in his robe pocket, then slammed his window open and awkwardly shuffled out onto the ledge.

"Good thing muggles can't see this building," George commented from the doorway.

"Yeah, they'd think you were committing suicide with a cleaning implement," Fred agreed.

Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "What do you want?" he asked, not looking back at them.

"You really think you're going to make it safely to Regent's Park in this climate?" George wondered.

"They'd shoot you out of the sky in a heartbeat, those muggles."

Harry turned carefully and cocked an eyebrow at them, lips curled with an ironic smile. "What's this? A couple of Weasleys speaking of mundanes so poorly?"

"You heard Dumbledore–"

"–this wasn't the doings of You Know Who–"

"–and we all know the Order and the Ministry wouldn't try something like that–"

"–okay, the Ministry might."

"True, brother. True."

"But not in Regent's Park. Maybe at Malfoy Manor–"

"No, no, not Malfoy Manor. Not with the way Malfoy sucks up to Fudge all the time."

"Very good point. But, anyway, not the Ministry, not the Order–"

"–that only leaves one more possible group of people."

"Radicals from France?" Harry suggested drily, even as he slipped back into the room, intrigued. Given, the whole mess wasn't that hard to catch on to, but to see a couple of teens from a Light family laying it out so...

The twins smiled grimly at Harry's poor joke, then chorused, "The muggles did this."

Harry watched their grim faces for a long moment, then commented, "Magical people often underestimate what mundanes – muggles – are capable of. They look at them and they see a lack of magic, they see a people capable of nothing. It's like looking at a baby tiger and thinking, 'Oh, it's so cute and helpless, surely it's no threat to me'."

"Until the tiger grows up," Fred murmured.

Harry smiled without humour. "The mundanes grew up a long time ago, we just hadn't really crossed paths. Maybe we poked them with a stick now and then, but never enough to really catch their attention. This time, the stick couldn't be ignored – won't be ignored – and they're going to fight back with weapons far greater, far more destructive than simple claws and teeth."

"It's all You Know Who's fault," George muttered.

Harry let out a loud laugh. "Voldemort may have been the cause behind it coming right this minute, sure, but this would have happened eventually. You can't keep obliviating them and hope they'll never notice something is off. You can't continue sharing the same land, the same cities, and think they'll always over look everything."

"You think they would have eventually, what?" Fred asked.

"Spotted a dragon running around in a preserve?" George suggested.

"Or, maybe, they'd think a kneazle was a little too smart."

"Or, maybe, one day, they'll elect in a Prime Minister who will find out about our world and they'll be scared," Harry said quietly, not smiling at their thoughtless jokes. "Maybe that Prime Minister will happily announce to the whole world that magical people exist. And, sure, some people might think that's pretty cool, but more people will be scared of what they can't understand and they'll fight it in the only way they know how."

"And how's that, then?" Ron demanded from behind the twins. "Throw a couple of punches our way."

Harry smiled then, almost amused by his once-brother's sense of superiority. "No, Ron, they'll destroy the world." Then he turned and, tossing his Cloak around his shoulders, scrunched back out onto the ledge and jumped onto his broom and away.

"Muggles can't destroy the world," Ron scoffed as Harry was making his escape.

The twins traded a worried look; they weren't so sure of that.

-0-

Xerosis appeared in Voldemort's meeting room about half an hour before the explosion just south of Regent's Park and strode forward, uncaring that he'd interrupted a meeting. Voldemort turned to glare at him, but whatever he might have said was halted when he saw the cold expression on the teen's face. Xerosis didn't even sit down like he was wont to, just stood next to his chair and intoned, "We are about to have a very large problem."

The Dark Lord grimaced at that and waved his Inner Circle out. "What happened?"

"One moment." Xerosis turned to the retreating Death Eaters. "Lucius, how close is Narcissa to Andromeda?"

Lucius turned back to the young Dark Lord, blinking in surprise. "Andromeda, my Lord? Not particularly, why?"

Xerosis sighed. "Would she be willing to invite Andromeda out for tea? Perhaps a shopping expedition in Diagon?"

"Xerosis," Voldemort warned.

The apparent vampire turned angry eyes on his partner. "Don't you interfere," he hissed, then looked back at Lucius, who flinched away from the fury-filled eyes. Xerosis sighed and reached up to rub at the bridge of his nose. "Please, Lucius, it's important. To me." He looked up at the man, weary from his three-hours long trek through the ruins. Perhaps using the time-turner to protect his cousin was cheating, but he had the means, and Fate owed him.

Lucius nodded his head. "I will do what I can, my Lord." He sketched a quick bow, then turned and finished herding the Death Eaters out into the hall. Bellatrix was one of the ones he had to herd and Xerosis vaguely heard her snarking about her eldest sister.

Xerosis dropped into his chair, slumping tiredly to one side. "In maybe twenty minutes, there will be an explosion about five blocks south of Regent's Park, most likely caused by a mundane bomb. There's a small group of houses down there that are owned by magical families with mundane ties that have money. All of them, as well as many of the surrounding buildings and businesses, will be completely destroyed."

Voldemort frowned and leaned back in his chair, focussing on the problem the teen had just handed him rather than at his anger for being snapped at moments before. "There's no way to stop the explosion?" he asked.

"There may well be, but we didn't do anything about it," Xerosis replied tiredly. "Practically the whole of London north of the Thames felt the explosion."

Voldemort sighed and glanced at the teen, considering the rips in his robe and the brushing of dust. "You went to the scene."

Xerosis let out a choked laugh. "I had to see it myself, figure out exactly what happened. See if..." He ran a hand over his face. "Andy lives there, with her husband. I never really got to know Ted, but Andy is my cousin. I wanted to know if she might have been killed."

The Dark Lord silently bemoaned his partner's familial attachments. "If nothing else, this will show the magical world that the muggles can and will attack back."

"Never mind showing how much damage they will do, and how many innocent lives will be lost in the middle," Xerosis agreed, sitting up in his chair.

"Do you know who set the attack?"

"So far as I could tell, they have no idea. There were mundane teams all over the place, looking for any clues at all, but they were having a hard enough time deciding what had actually done the damage, never mind setting about finding anything. There were a couple of magical teams mucking about, too, but they were completely at a loss." Xerosis snorted. "Merlin, wizards are so useless when it comes to the mundane world."

Voldemort glanced up in a plea for patience. "What did you find out?" he asked, knowing the teen was capable of finding things out on his own.

Xerosis was silent for a long moment, then quietly replied, "From the looks of the aftermath, I'd say a gas pipe exploded. Since no such thing happened in my original timeline, I'd say it was done on purpose by someone. When the... attacks really started, there was a group of mundanes who would snoop around for areas where two or more magical people lived within a couple of blocks of one another. They'd block off a large second of the sewers or underground tunnels in the area, fill the blocked off section with gas, then set it off. It would blow up much of the surrounding area and take out more mundanes than magicals, but still..."

"You think someone thought of something similar," Voldemort commented.

"Yes. They don't have the same technology as they did then, but it wouldn't be too hard to set a pipe bomb or other improvised explosive to go off after a set period of time. It probably wouldn't be too hard to block off a section of sewer, either, though it might be harder to do with the underground tunnels at this point in time. After the government starts falling apart, sure, underground is fair game, but not yet."

Some running and the distant sounds of shouting came from out in the hallway before someone dashed into the room, falling to their knees in front of the two Dark Lords and flinching like they expected to be cursed.

"What?" Voldemort demanded, already guessing what was going on.

"My Lords, apologies, but there's been an explosion in London. It wasn't set by any of us!"

"It's the mundanes," Xerosis replied comfortably, relaxing in his chair and absently pulling out his stolen wand to fix the tears in his robes. "They're making their move. Send Lucius to us."

"Yes, my Lord Xerosis," the Death Eater whispered and scrabbled out of the room before one of them could curse him.

"We'll have to use this," Voldemort commented, twirling his wand between two fingers. "A couple of whispers in the right ears..."

"Rita Skeeter would take this story and blow it completely out of proportion," Xerosis commented, spelling patches of dust out of his abused robes.

"I take it you're familiar with her?"

"You could say Rita and I have some history together, yes. She's not aware of it, but I've got some blackmail on her that will have her citing whatever we want her to say."

"Can you set something up, or should I use a Death Eater?"

"Mmm... She's an unregistered animagus. A beetle." Xerosis shot Voldemort a smirk and the man smirked back in understanding.

Lucius swept into the room and bowed quickly. "My Lords," he offered, then focussed on the apparent vampire. "Narcissa got Andromeda to agree to a meeting in Diagon about ten minutes before the explosion, my Lord. She should have been away from the house at the time, but I have yet to hear anything back from my wife."

"Andy may very well run back to her home to see what happened," Xerosis commented, more to himself than Lucius. "We shall have to wait and see. At any rate, thank you, Lucius."

The Malfoy patriarch offered the faintest of smiles in response.

"Lucius, have someone else wait for word on Narcissa's return. We need you in the Ministry, twisting this to fit our needs. The attack was put together by mundanes, likely using a mixture of gas and a pipe bomb. No, you don't need to know what it means, just make it sound good," Voldemort ordered. "Have someone fetch Jenkins for me on your way."

"My Lords." Lucius bowed to them and hurried from the room to do as bid.

"Jenkins is...?"

"A mudblood, disgustingly enough, but he married well and despises muggles. He found Lucius and requested an audience with me shortly after Christmas. He lives in London, and his muggle knowledge should help him spin things properly for your Miss Skeeter."

Xerosis nodded, absently tapping his chin with one finger. "From the sounds of things, the Order is aware that this attack was mundane-created, so we shouldn't have too much trouble from them. If the mundane government declares this to have been a gas main leak, the Ministry could very well try a cover-up."

Voldemort smiled cruelly. "It's good you have a time-turner, then, isn't it?"

Xerosis responded with a smile of his own, then glanced towards the door as shuffling footsteps approached.

The man who entered walked with a slight limp, his left foot dragging slightly, but he didn't seem impeded by it, bowing and murmuring, "My Lords."

"Jenkins, Lord Xerosis has a task for you," Voldemort offered, shooting the teen at his side a smirk.

Xerosis rolled his eyes, then focussed on the Death Eater. "We need to put the right spin on this attack, preferably before the mundane government starts pointing fingers and getting everything mixed up. Lord Voldemort says you live in London?"

"I do, my Lord."

"Were you at home when the explosion occurred?"

"I was, my Lord."

"Excellent." Xerosis smiled in pleasure. "I love it when things work out. We'll have you setting up a meeting with the reporter Rita Skeeter. Knowing her, she'll be digging everywhere for someone to talk to, and you going to her will make her absolutely ecstatic. You'll be mixing a bit of your actual experience with what Lord Voldemort and I have figured out from the attack, so make it sound good."

Once Jenkins had nodded in understanding, Xerosis explained, "That explosion was caused by gas, of that I have no doubt, but I'm also doubtful on how natural the cause was. The gas line in that area is slightly off to one side, not directly in the middle, however there is a sewer line which runs through the centre of the explosion. It is possible to seal off a portion of the sewer and fill it with gas. Something simple, like a pipe bomb, could then be set off inside the sealed cavern, setting the gas alight."

Jenkins frowned, considering everything, but his eyes had the light of comprehension, so Xerosis just sat back and let the man work everything out in his mind. After a few minutes, he nodded. "I should be able to create a believable story from that, my Lords. How am I expected to keep Skeeter from adding her own spin on things, however?"

"Miss Skeeter is an unregistered animagus," Voldemort reported. "A beetle, to be exact. If she doesn't want pictures of her form provided to the Ministry, she will take your testament as fact and stick to it."

Jenkins' lips curled with a smile. "As my Lords command."

"Go forth and create chaos, Mr Jenkins," Xerosis ordered and the man shuffled out. Once he was gone, the teen turned to Voldemort and commented, "I like him."

"I thought you might." The Dark Lord nodded. "When do you need to return by?"

"Hm. I spent three hours in the rubble, so going back any time before I used my time-turner should be acceptable."

Voldemort snorted. "You're waiting to hear news about your blood traitor."

"I am," Xerosis agreed, seeing no point in denying the truth.

Voldemort shook his head, then glanced over at the teen, who scowled at him. "If you're so desperate for news, go wait downstairs in the receiving room. If nothing else, you might be able to calm the idiots down there who are, no doubt, panicking."

"I very much doubt I will calm them, but they'll certainly shut up," Xerosis agreed, standing. "Always a pleasure to see you, Tom, darling."

"Potter," Voldemort growled.

Xerosis smirked and blew him a kiss, then dashed out of the room, ducking a curse. He chuckled to himself as he started down the hallway, familiar enough with Malfoy Manor after regular meetings in the building for the past two years that he didn't require a guide.

The receiving room was, indeed, full of witches and wizards who were arguing about the attack. Xerosis leaned against the doorway and watched them argue until he was bored, then started casting curses until they'd all run for it, leaving only one tired wizard in the far corner. "Why are you in here?" he demanded.

The man hurried to his feet and sketched a quick bow. "Forgive me, my Lord, but Mr Malfoy insisted I remain here until his wife arrived and bring her straight to you."

Xerosis waved his hand. "Go get some sleep. I am more than capable of waiting for Narcissa on my own."

The man bowed again, relief crossing his face. "Thank you, my Lord. You are a great and wonderful Lord."

Xerosis sighed and, as soon as the man was gone, dropped himself into a comfortable couch and considered his robes. The hem was a little ragged from his trip through the rubble, but coming back with a perfect robe would probably make everyone suspicious. Coming up with a badly destroyed robe, however, would put many of them into a panic. The hem was fine as ragged as it was, but he'd have to spell some dust back onto his clothing and maybe one or two rips. Certainly not as many as had existed when he first shadowed into Malfoy Manor.

Xerosis had just finished applying the last of the damage to his robes when the sound of apparation came from the secured room off to the side of the receiving room. He glanced up and smiled when he saw Narcissa step in. "Narcissa! Brilliant!"

The woman startled a bit at his voice, then sighed when she recognised him. "Forgive me, my Lord," she offered.

Xerosis frowned, seeing the pain in her eyes and the dust marring her lovely blue robes. He stepped forward and gently took her arm. "Narcissa, sit. What happened? You look like you've been to the site of the explosion."

Narcissa eyed his own robes and smiled tiredly. "As do you, my Lord."

Xerosis waved that away and snapped his fingers to call a house elf. "Some water and chocolate for Lady Malfoy," he ordered the creature before turning back to the woman, who offered him a grateful smile. "Is Andromeda okay?"

"She is... distressed, but alive," Narcissa offered, taking the drink and sweet that the house elf conjured on the table next to her. "Her...husband is dead, killed in the explosion, but her daughter, as far as I know, is alive."

"Nymphadora was at the Order meeting that was called moments after the attack," Xerosis agreed. "Andromeda heard the explosion and had to go see what happened, I'm guessing."

Narcissa nodded. "Yes. I agreed to go with her, since I had asked her out in the first place. My Lord, it was..." She looked away, closing her eyes.

"Mundanes are capable of terrible deeds," Xerosis murmured, knowing all too well what she had seen. "And that was a mundane attack, of that I am certain."

"Can we truly stand against them?" Narcissa asked, glancing back at the young Dark Lord. His child-like appearance often made the Death Eaters think him soft, and he occasionally had to remind them with a heavy hand that he wasn't to be looked down on, but at times like this, he was glad for his youthful form.

"I don't know," he admitted, "but we must try. This war we have started with them will have happened one day or another on its own, through causes outside our control. Better to strike pre-emptively and have a fighting chance than to wait for them to attack us and have no other option but to run for our lives." He took one of her hands in his. "Narcissa, I don't know if we'll survive this, but I'm certain that we have a fighting chance."

The woman searched those pale eyes, so much older than her own, and nodded her head. "Thank you, my Lord."

The apparent vampire smiled. "Thank you, for getting Andromeda out of there. Was she suspicious?"

Narcissa let out a quiet laugh. "Of course she was, right from the start, but she was willing to have tea with me. It wasn't until after she saw the skeleton that had been her house..." Narcissa took a sip of water, shaking with the reminder of the scene. Xerosis broke off a piece of chocolate for her and, once she'd eaten it, was able to continue. "After she saw it, she turned to me and demanded to know why I'd insisted we go out for tea at that very moment. It's not polite pureblood custom to have tea out of the blue like that. I..." She looked away. "My Lord, forgive me, I told her an acquaintance of mine insisted I take her out for tea at that very moment."

Xerosis shook his head. "Estranged or not, I hardly expected you to lie to your own sister, Narcissa," he assured her, patting the back of the hand he still held. "If she asks for my name, you may tell her it was Harry Potter who asked the request."

Narcissa gasped. "M–my Lord, is it wise to mention the boy?"

Xerosis smiled knowingly. "Mr Potter is hardly as against us as he leads the world to believe, Narcissa. I am in contact with him, and it was he who worried after her health. That the request came from my lips instead of his, is a minor item to debate over. If she brings it up with him, he will no doubt agree to have sent the plea."

"Andromeda is very clever, my Lord. Will the boy be able to lie well enough to convince her it was all him?"

"Mr Potter will manage, I am certain," Xerosis assured her. "Now, will you need assistance in making your way upstairs, or will you manage on your own?"

Narcissa straightened and brushed some dust off her robes. "My Lord, I am the Lady Malfoy. I am always capable of making my own way."

Xerosis chuckled fondly and dropped a light kiss to the back of her hand. "Then, my lady, I bid you adieu. There's much work to be done if we want those foolish witches and wizards to pull their heads out of the ground. As it is, their rear ends make fantastic targets for the mundanes."

Narcissa covered a smile and rose to offer a quick curtsey to the young Dark Lord before he stepped backwards into a shadow and vanished.

-0-

Harry saw no reason to hide what he'd supposedly been doing for the last hour. Knowing the Weasleys, one of them was certain to have told the adults that he'd left with his broom and the intent to visit the site of the explosion. Considering none of them had ever appeared at the site, looking for him, they had probably only just got out of their meeting before he'd returned. With any luck, Andromeda would be there and he wouldn't have to play the panicked cousin anymore.

He was just reaching to open the front door when it was pulled open and he found himself blinking at Sirius, with Tonks, Remus, and Andromeda behind him. They all stared for a moment, and then Harry dropped his broom and shouted, "Andy!" jumping forward to hug her.

Andromeda caught him and hugged him tight. "Oh, you stupid, stupid little boy," she whispered. "What were you thinking, flying to the site of the explosion? You could have been hurt!"

Harry bit his lip and gave her the most pitiful look he could manage without tears. "I'm sorry, Andy, but I had to make sure you were okay! No one else seemed to care to check and their meetings always take forever! You could have been buried under rubble, crying for help, and no one could hear you."

Andromeda sighed and hugged him tighter. "Harry Potter, you're supposed to be a Ravenclaw, not a silly Gryffindor."

"Oiy!" Sirius cried from behind Harry, and Harry knew his godfather had forgiven him for running off.

"I have a saving people thing," Harry admitted, putting just the littlest hint of shame into his voice.

Andromeda sighed. "At least you admit you have a problem," she decided.

"Oiy!" Sirius complained again, tugging Harry away from his cousin and holding his broom in front of the boy. "Don't go dropping expensive brooms on the stoop."

"Sorry, Siri," Harry intoned, green eyes sparkling.

Andromeda smiled at him and shook her head. "Go put your broom away, child, and maybe a change of clothing. Molly's working on a lunch for all of us."

Harry blinked. "You too, Andy?"

Andromeda managed a pained smile. "I'll be staying with you and Dora in Grimmauld Place until Sirius' cottage is finished, then we'll be moving in there with you."

"You're certainly not going back to your old house," Sirius pointed out gently.

"No," Andromeda agreed. "There's not a whole lot to go back to."

Harry darted forward and hugged her again, then dashed down the hallway and up the stairs to his bedroom. There, he stashed his broom and Cloak in his trunk, then set about pulling out new robes, sighing a bit over the ones he'd been wearing, knowing that Sirius would probably insist they should be thrown out. He'd quite liked the dark blue set. Maybe he could talk his godfather into getting him a new one. Or two.

The Weasley boys didn't bother him again while they were still there. Ron seemed rather disgusted that Harry wasn't punished for leaving Headquarters like that, while the twins just kept watching him, as if trying to figure out a particularly complex puzzle. Considering how often they looked at him like that when trying to prank him, no one thought anything of it, though Harry was a little concerned about what they were thinking.

Andromeda was the one to make supper that night and Harry happily compared it to one of Molly's usual meals, which made Andromeda flush with pleasure. She then proceeded to ask him about his cooking, likely knowing exactly how useless Sirius was in the kitchen and guessing that Harry made all the meals. Harry tried downplaying his own skills in the kitchen, but Sirius had chosen to join them and had no problems telling all about Harry's skills. Andromeda shot the teen a knowing look and he flushed, caught in his own lie.

That night, Harry was just drifting off to sleep when the faint sounds of someone crying woke him up again. It didn't take him but a minute to recognise Andromeda's voice, then he slipped from bed and padded down to the sitting room, where she was curled up on one of the couches with a cup of tea. She glanced up when Harry stopped in the doorway. "Oh, Harry," she said, subtly wiping at her eyes. "What can I do for you?"

Harry watched her for a long moment, expression understanding, before he slipped over to sit next to her on the couch. "I'm sorry," he whispered, "about Ted. He was... kind of cool."

Andromeda let out a quiet laugh and ruffled Harry's chin-length hair. "Thank you, Harry. You're a good kid."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I bet Mrs Weasley doesn't think so, after the way I acted earlier."

"One minor blow-up after over a month of quietly walking away from those meetings? I'm sure she thinks you're an absolute angel. Or, at the very least, a normal teenager." She shook her head, smiling fondly. "Go back to bed, Harry."

Harry considered her. "You'll be okay?" he asked.

Andromeda leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I'll be just fine. Bed. Go on."

Harry nodded and with a quiet, "G'night, Andy," he left the room and made his way back up to bed. When he didn't hear her start crying again, he mentally patted himself on the back and snuggled in to sleep.

-0-

The next morning's Prophet made Harry grin a bit madly as he read through the article on the front page. Jenkins had spun a fantastic story, citing the series of gas-based explosions three years ago in Guadalajara, Mexico and some similar incidents to support his theory behind the cause of the explosion. Skeeter, true to form, had taken the story and made it absolutely epic, insisting that Jenkins had a point and ending the article with a question about whether this was the start of a war.

"You are disturbingly pleased by that article," Andromeda commented, buttering her toast. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were behind the explosion yourself."

"Andy, you wound me!" Harry cried, setting the paper down and leaning over the table, eyes filled with sorrow. "To think me capable of such an act of violence and destruction!"

"Kid, I have heard first-hand accounts of your duel with Voldemort; you gave about as good as you got."

Harry widened his eyes. "Against Voldemort," he pointed out.

"Living with Sirius has turned you nutters," Andromeda decided. Harry put on a wounded look. "Yeah, nice try. I spent plenty of time around your godfather, Harry. Don't think you can get that past me."

Harry grinned. "It works on Siri."

"Yeah, well Sirius is insane. I'm not."

"You should try it some time. Being insane is brilliant."

"Eat your eggs."

Harry grinned a bit wider and tucked in.

Over the next couple of days, he was constantly trading owls with his friends. He'd only been able to tell them that he was staying in London somewhere, so they were understandably concerned. Hermione and Neville had also wanted to know what he knew about the attack, rightfully expecting that he wasn't willing to just sit about and cool his heels when he could be snooping. Lillian's letters ranted on about how vile muggles were and made suggestions for killing them that, while a little disturbing and often creative, weren't really plausible with the way the Death Eater attacks were run. Luna just asked how to make a pipe bomb.

When the wards on the cottage were finally finished, Harry, Andromeda, and Tonks made for the place with all speed and settled in to their rooms. By the next day, the two guest rooms were filled with Harry's friends, including Lillian, who Sirius grumbled about, but didn't bother turning away. Luna, never one for conventional rules, had offered Lillian her usual bed in the larger guest room the girls usually had, then curled up in Harry's room on the floor. The second day, Harry rolled his eyes at his best friend and hunted down a cot for her, which she had him set up in his room, insisting that it was too crowded in the guest room. Which was a load of bollocks, but Harry knew better than to argue with Luna, so he let her sleep in his room without complaint.

The cottage was quite crowded for a good week before Sirius finally got tired of fighting over his gaming systems and cried to the kids' parents. When Harry and Luna were the only ones left – Xenophilius was off on an expedition on the continent and unable to collect his daughter – Sirius jokingly looked up into the sky and pleaded with James and Lily to take Harry back. Harry had smacked him, then dragged Luna out to his garden to work with his abused flowers. Neville had helped a bit while he was there, but they still needed a lot of love.

Harry had spent almost two hours fighting with his godfather about whether or not he would be allowed to visit Diagon Alley for his school shopping. Luna had made herself some popcorn and sat on the sidelines munching it while Harry and Sirius got louder and louder in their most epic fight ever. Considering they'd never actually fought about anything before, it wasn't saying much, but Andromeda had assured them both, once they'd calmed down, that it had been on par with the fights Sirius had waged with his mother in the weeks before he ran away. Honestly, Harry was just glad he hadn't gone dementor on his godfather, though it had been a near thing. (Catching sight of Luna out of the corner of his eye every few minutes had helped him keep his power in check, which had probably been the girl's original intent, knowing Luna.)

In the end, with Andromeda supporting Sirius, Harry had admitted defeat – well, it would perhaps be more correct to say that he stormed out of the living room and slammed the door to his room before shadowing away to kill some mundanes. Andromeda had collected a list of subjects Harry was interested in studying that year and promised to get him the best books she could find for each of them, even if it meant traversing Knockturn.

When Andromeda got back from her trip, however, she had the strangest look on her face as she stepped into Harry's room. Both he and Luna were curled up on his bed, reading the most recent edition of the Quibbler together, which included a series of photos that supposedly had rare animals in them. They were trying to be the first to spot each animal, Harry constantly complaining that Luna had helped take most of the pictures while the younger Ravenclaw cheerfully pointed out that Harry had stolen his vision and reflexes from vampires, which meant he was cheating too.

"Harry," Andromeda interrupted as they were turning the page.

"What's up, Andy?" Harry asked, already searching the new photo for the creature in question.

Andromeda shook her head at the two, but continued with, "I just had the most interesting conversation with my sister."

"Narcissa, I assume," Harry replied, then groaned as Luna spotted the creature. "If it was dear, insane Bella, it wouldn't have been interesting. More exciting, I think. Curses being flung about, aurors being called. Someone probably would have died."

"Or at least ended up in St Mungo's," Luna added airily. Harry snapped his finger out to point to the creature and the girl muttered, "Cheater."

"You're finding the same number as me, so stop whining."

Andromeda stepped forward and took the magazine away from them before they could get started on the next photo. The teens gave her disturbingly similar pitiful looks and she rolled her eyes. "You. My sister."

"I suppose she's not too bad to look at, but her husband might crucio me if I try anything naughty with her," Harry quipped.

"You are being purposefully thick," Andromeda replied. "How do you know my sister?"

"Well, see, her son–"

"Harry, don't make me get some Veritaserum."

"You have Veritaserum in the house?" Luna asked, eyes lighting up with mayhem. "Hey, can I borrow it to ask Harry some questions about faeces?"

"Luna, for Merlin's sake, would you stop mentioning that?" Harry complained.

"But you start turning this lovely green colour that matches your eyes–"

"Don't think I won't turn you into a peacock."

"That is cruel and completely uncalled for–"

"Merlin's dirty y-fronts!" Andromeda shouted.

"Ew..." Harry and Luna chorused.

Andromeda rubbed tiredly at her eyes, muttering, "Would you just stop playing insane for one minute?" She opened her eyes and met sharp green eyes without a glint of humour in them and took a surprised step back.

"I don't know Narcissa personally," Harry said quietly, "but we have a common acquaintance. I mentioned to him that I was worried about you and he found some way to get Narcissa to ask you out to tea."

Andromeda swallowed, unnerved by the dark knowledge that Harry usually hid with jokes and mucking about. Sometimes, it was easy to forget that this boy had held his own against Voldemort and remembered watching his mother murdered. "Who is your... common acquaintance?" she asked, wanting to know. Whoever they were, they had saved her life. Narcissa had refused the life debt, insisting that she wouldn't have saved her if it hadn't been asked of her, and Andromeda wanted to know who she owed.

Harry offered a humourless smile. "I don't think you want to know, Andy."

Andromeda shook her head. "Harry, please. I know that anyone who knows Cissa is probably Dark–"

"He's a vampire," Harry interrupted, watching her with a strange intensity.

"There are a lot of vampires out there, Harry."

Next to the boy, Luna smiled knowingly. No, there really weren't a lot of vampires left, not with Harry hunting them to extinction when he was bored.

"Not a lot of vampires who go by the name Xerosis, though, are there?" Harry replied, an unamused smile touching his eyes.

Andromeda's eyes widened. "You know that monster?" she breathed.

Harry cocked his head to one side. "Monster?" he wondered in a child-like voice. "What is a monster but the face of man?"

"L'homme n'est ni ange ni bête; et le malheur veut que qui veut faire l'ange fait la bête," Luna quoted. "Blaise Pascal."

Andromeda frowned at her. "Wait, what?"

"It's a quote from a French mundane, Blaise Pascal," Harry offered. " 'Man is neither angel nor beast; and the misfortune is that he who would act the angel acts the beast.' " He turned to Luna. "I didn't know you knew French."

Luna smiled mysteriously. "I know many things."

Harry grinned and kissed her cheek. "You really are my favourite, Luna."

Andromeda cleared her throat. "Are you trying to excuse Xerosis' actions?"

"He's a murderer and he enjoys what he does," Harry replied, frowning at his cousin. "I'm not excusing him, and neither is Luna. We're just trying to point out that he has his reasons and while you might find them to be wrong, to him they are correct. Where you see an evil monster, he and other like-minded individuals see a leader with a vision and the strength to do what needs to be done."

"Andy!" Sirius called from downstairs somewhere.

Andromeda didn't move, still watching Harry and Luna with narrowed eyes while they watched her back calmly. "And what do you think?" she asked.

"Hey, Andy!" Sirius called again, his steps sounding on the stairs.

Harry smiled. "I wonder."

Sirius' head poked around the doorway. "There you are! Here, Albus sent you another owl. What are you two discussing, anyway?" he wondered, holding the parchment out.

"What's this?" Harry wondered, eyes widening with shock. "Siri hasn't been opening other people's mail? Has the apocalypse come? Are the mundanes all firing their nuclear bombs at once?"

"...some days, I really don't get your jokes," Sirius decided as Andromeda took the letter.

"You're better off that way," Harry offered cheerfully. "Come on, Andy, what's in the letter?"

Andromeda glanced up from the parchment, eyes darkly amused. "In this letter? Oh, just Albus' usual ramblings."

"That is so not fair!" Harry complained as the woman shooed Sirius out of the doorway. "Come on, Andy! You can't just leave me hanging!"

The door closed behind the two adults and Harry sighed in defeat. Luna smiled a bit and reached over to pick the Quibbler up off the floor. "I wonder who our new Defence professor will be."

Harry blinked once, twice, then laughed. "Better a suspicious Andy than a toad," he decided, relaxing back against the wall. "Well, come on then, Luna. We've got three more pictures to go. One of them's going be the tie-breaker."

"You've actually been keeping score?" Luna wondered, opening the magazine to the proper page.

"Nah. But whoever catches the last one wins by default."

"Agreed."

-0-

"You said Hogwarts would be taken out?" Riddle asked one evening over a glass of wine. Harry would be returning to Hogwarts the next day and they'd just finished another raid. The two leaders had agreed to enjoy a quiet game of chess, which turned into something of a tournament, Riddle winning more often than Harry.

Harry frowned a bit at the board. "Yeah, but it took them a few years." He moved a knight to take one of Riddle's pawns, then glanced up. "Why?"

"I don't want to chance them hitting it again," Riddle admitted.

Harry rubbed at his chin, leaning back in his chair. "They're far less developed now than they were when the war started before, but need creates what idle curiosity does not. They may advance much faster this time just to destroy us."

"It is a concern. Their random attacks are stepping up," Riddle pointed out.

After the first explosion that destroyed Andromeda's house, three other gas-based explosions had taken out magical homes in London. One target had included a large family of mundanes with one magical child, a six-year-old girl. Harry had tried stopping that one, but he'd got to the mundane who'd set the explosion too late, as the bomb was already set up. They'd fought next to the bomb, the mundane with a handgun and Harry with magic. Their fight had upset the building gases, causing the explosion to occur three hours sooner than the mundane had planned it. The mundane had been killed and Harry badly wounded; the house with the mundane family and the one magical girl had still collapsed, killing all of the people inside.

Harry shook the reminder of his failure from his mind. "We talked, briefly, about creating a magical ward to protect important places from damage, but there were so few of us left by that point that it really wasn't important. That was after they'd taken out Hogwarts, anyway."

Riddle nodded. "Do you think we could create a ward like that?"

"I don't see why not," Harry decided, chess game forgotten in light of his new distraction. "The anti-mundane wards on Hogwarts are good, but they didn't hold up under the mundane computers and satellite images. Something about the distance from the satellite made the spell useless. If we could extend the spell..."

"Or a repelling ward of some kind aimed towards their bombs?"

"That would just shoot them off elsewhere, which would still be dangerous. I'd rather they never fired them at all," Harry replied, shaking his head.

"The wards were specifically intended to repel muggles," Riddle offered, swirling his wine glass a bit. "Could we create a ward that would defeat artificial intelligence?"

"You know, I'm not sure. And even if it worked to keep the aiming computers from locking on, they can still fire off to one side if they know where they're aiming. Sonya – one of my partners back then – suggested working a long-range notice-me-not charm into the wards, but we weren't sure how well that would work."

"Making it long range could be a problem, especially if you want to keep using the area it's protecting," Riddle murmured. "Any notice-me-not charm is going to be just as effective close up as it will be from a distance. Is there a way to trick their satellites into avoiding those spots?"

"Or, not avoiding, just not seeing," Harry said, eyes lighting up. "Mess up the image so it always looks like what they'd see if they were there in person. Also, maybe tweaking the current wards to make the ruins look even more uninhabitable?"

"Make it look condemned?" Riddle suggested. "About to fall apart at any moment. That would keep them away."

"There's already a lake next to it, could we change the shape of the lake?"

"Make it surround what looks like ruins?"

"And maybe include Hogsmeade in the wards. Right now, it's this magical town located right next to ruins that people can't help but avoid. That's suspicious."

"Very much so, yes. Extending the wards, though..."

"Maybe not extending, just adding? Could we set up a new set of wards over the town and tie them in with the Hogwarts wards?"

I... don't honestly know," Riddle admitted, waving the chessboard to the side and summoning some parchment and a quill. He did a quick sketch of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, then added a faint line of wards around the school. He considered the picture for a moment, then started adding ward lines around the town. "Covering this much area..."

"We'd need a team," Harry agreed, summoning his own quill and absently marking spots along the ward lines where they'd need people to cast from. "Uhg. How did the Founders manage to cover the whole of Hogwarts with just the four of them? Protecting the whole of Hogsmeade and the outlying houses will require a team of ten people."

"I don't suppose you've got a time-turner of Death that will let us go back to the creation of Hogwarts?" Riddle muttered.

"Ha, ha." Harry spelled away half of the people. "I suppose we could manage with five, if they were all strong enough."

"You, myself," Riddle offered. "Dumbledore, I suppose–"

"If we could get him to see sense."

"Yes, well, that could be a chore. Who else? Severus might work..."

"Depending on how magically draining it is, Xerosis and Harry could both help," Harry pointed out.

"Using two of the same person?" Riddle murmured, eyes distant as he stared through the parchment on the table. "That would double the power, yes. We could all use a time-turner, at that."

"Bringing us to eight with two Dumbledores and two Snapes?" Harry rubbed at his chin. He absently erased his previous marks and put in spots for eight people. "That could..."

Riddle reached forward with his own quill and moved them all around so one of the marks was missing, bringing it down to seven. "More magical number–"

"Wait!" Harry erased the seven marks and quickly changed the configuration so there were four people standing on the ward lines and three people in the centre, standing around a stone he sketched in. "Seven people with four casting the ward and three tying it to a ward stone in the centre. The three in the centre won't even need to be magically powerful as long as they've got a strong will."

Riddle nodded and quickly wrote their own names on the outside four, with Voldemort opposing Riddle and Harry opposing Xerosis. "We'll have to find people who won't have a fit over seeing Harry Potter," he commented.

"Can Lucius and Barty break the Imperius Curse? Well..."

"Barty can be trained," Riddle commented, adding their names to the inner circle. "What about the third person?"

Harry considered for a moment, then added Luna's name. At the Dark Lord's disbelieving look he replied, "Trust me."

"Hn." Riddle left the name where it was and started up a list to one side. "Wards to make the village look uninhabitable to muggles. Muggle repelling wards. Something to keep satellites from seeing it."

"If we can find a way to have the satellites always see the area as they would when they were up close, could we tie that spell in with the wards?" Harry suggested.

"A two-part spell held together by a ward stone?" Riddle murmured, sketching some quick runes to one side. "Maybe. We'd have to put the wards up first and then tie the distance spell in to them after."

"That shouldn't be too hard."

"No," Riddle agreed, considering his runes, then turning them to face Harry. "It will have to be rune-based, though."

Harry grimaced. "Might be a bit hard to apply to the satellites already up there."

"We could just hijack a rocket and shoot ourselves up there–"

"Tom, you're completely bonkers."

Riddle chuckled and sat back in his chair. "I don't know, Potter. The science of space travel is beyond me."

Harry sighed and nodded. "I know. I'll mention it to my friends and see if they can't think of something. If nothing else, Luna will have some magical creature that lives on the moon."

"Potter, your friends..."

Harry grinned. "You're one to talk."

"I don't have friends."

"Minions, friends. Same word, different letters."

"You are insane in ways I don't fully understand," Riddle decided.

Harry laughed at that and drew a satellite above the picture of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. "We can catch any others that are going up there, once we've set the wards around Hogsmeade and made some changes to the Hogwarts wards. Actually, that last is the bit I'm worried about. I mean, Luna and I are students, and Lucius is a school governor, but you and Barty might have some trouble getting in. You more than Barty."

"Never mind figuring out where the ward stone is," Riddle agreed.

"Oh, no, I know where that is," Harry replied with a smile. "We found it when we were cleaning up the wreckage. It's actually the stone at the centre of the arch over the main doors."

Riddle blinked, then snorted. "Clever. Hide the stone holding the wards in plain sight."

"It was probably Salazar's idea," Harry agreed, eyes flickering to the runes the other had written on the parchment and tapping them with the soft end of his quill. "You know more about runes than I do."

"You never studied them?"

Harry snorted. "Hell no. When I was in school, I was a lazy little idiot. I learned a little as an auror and a little bit more when the war started. I've got some runic knowledge from the magical souls I've eaten, but my knowledge is spotty other than what I've learned so far in Ancient Runes. I've done some studying on my own, sure, but it's sort of a 'what interests me when' thing."

"So for all your apparent genius, there're still things you haven't mastered," Riddle commented, a pleased smile curling his lips.

"I never claimed to be all-knowing."

"You acted like it."

"I put on a show, because if I didn't, you would never have listened to me," Harry pointed out. "And to set the record straight, I am a defensive magic prodigy. I mastered the patronus charm at thirteen, in the presence of a dementor."

Riddle blinked a few times, then shook his head. "Okay, defensive magic prodigy it is. Everything else, however, depends on what you've learned during your rather long, stressful life."

"That is true," Harry agreed. "Some of my knowledge is stolen, true, but most of what I stole is language or mundane-based. My magical knowledge has been gained through my own hard work."

The Dark Lord leaned forward. "Runes."

"You'll have to figure out which ones need to be added to the stones," Harry said, shrugging.

"Will I need to make the spells, too?" Riddle wondered, uncertain how much ward creation knowledge the other had.

"Mmm... No, I can help with that."

"You want to get this done tonight," Riddle figured.

"Yes." Harry sighed and ran a hand through his chin-length hair. "Getting it done tonight means we can work on figuring out a time in the coming weeks. I'd like to get at least this part done before things get any worse."

"Agreed."

Another piece of parchment was summoned and they leaned over the table together, adding and debating parts for their spells.

-0-

Harry woke the morning of September first to the sound of a bird tapping urgently on the window. He grumbled to himself a bit, but rolled out of bed and stumbled around Luna's cot to shove the window open. The bird that flew in was one of Sirius' small flock and Harry frowned as he reached for the letter.

"Trouble?" Luna asked quietly.

Harry recognised his own writing and almost tore the parchment in his hurry to get it open, not yet answering Luna.

'H,
'Elm tree, ten minutes.
'X'

"Could I be any more useless?" he grumbled, tossing the letter in the bin, a fire spell following, before moving over to his wardrobe for some robes.

"Harry," Luna reminded him.

Harry sighed and tugged on one of his few non-school black robes before moving towards his trunk. "I'm sorry, Luna. I don't know what's going on. I'll let you know as soon as I'm back. Whenever that might be." He grabbed his Cloak, time-turner and broom.

"It's not good," Luna whispered, blue eyes glinting eerily in the light from the setting moon.

"When I wake myself after less than three hours of sleep, it never is," Harry agreed grimly before slipping out of his window and flying into the forest surrounding the house. The elm tree was just outside the wards, so Harry was unsurprised to find Xerosis standing with Voldemort and a couple of Death Eaters. He landed next to Xerosis, asking, "What's going on?"

"...This is only a little disturbing," Barty decided, looking nervously between the copies of the younger Dark Lord while some of the other Death Eaters shifted uncertainly at seeing an apparent enemy.

"Xerosis, get to it," Voldemort ordered.

Xerosis rolled his eyes and looked over at Harry with sharp eyes. "There will be an explosion in King's Cross today at ten."

"How can you know that if both of you are her–"

"Barty, shut up," Harry and Xerosis chorused.

"Sorry, my Lord," Barty mumbled. Around him, some of the Death Eaters shifted again, quelling under Voldemort's angry red eyes.

"There's an old system in place from before King's Cross existed, but it hasn't been used since the mid-nineteenth century," Lucius offered, concern obvious in his voice. "My Lord, are you certain–"

"I heard word from a trusted source and went to check it out myself a few hours ago," Xerosis reported drily. As Voldemort opened his mouth, he added, "Yes, we could probably stop them, but if we can find a way to get the students to Hogwarts without worrying about the bombing, I would prefer that." The apparent vampire smiled cruelly. "There's something poetic about a mundane-planted explosion killing hundreds of insects for us."

Voldemort nodded and turned to Lucius. "How much trouble would it be to get this old system up and running?"

Lucius grimaced. "I don't honestly know, my Lord. I don't know how much the Ministry will be willing to listen to reason."

"Lucius, if you can put pressure on them from your end, Harry can come at them from his end," Xerosis pointed out.

"Will that be enough?" one of the Death Eaters muttered, shooting Harry an unimpressed look.

"Were the suicidal idiots necessary?" Harry asked his future self drily.

Xerosis smirked. "No."

"I hate vampires," Harry decided, rubbing at his face tiredly while Xerosis chortled. After a moment, the teen glanced up at the Death Eater who had spoken, green eyes glowing warningly while the man shivered. "Are you questioning your Lord, scum?"

The man stumbled back and shook his head.

Xerosis snorted and laid a gentle hand on his slightly younger self. "Lucius, Baley, Stuart, all of you get to the Ministry and put pressure on them to get that system working. Drag Fudge out of bed if you have to, Lucius."

"Yes, my Lord," the men murmured before apparating away.

"Grayson, Thompson, get to the Prophet offices and ensure this makes front page," Voldemort ordered the last two Death Eaters other than Barty. When the men were gone, the Dark Lord turned to his two partners, scowling, "Was there a reason you insisted Barty come?"

"Momentary amusement?" Harry suggested with a cheeky grin.

"Potter," Voldemort hissed while Barty let out a resigned sigh.

Xerosis smirked, then snapped his fingers at Harry. "March of 2054."

Harry raised an eyebrow, then considered back to the stated date. "Erm, yeah. I remember. The blue house, right?" he replied, recalling the attack they'd made against a mundane strike group that had been based just outside London.

Xerosis nodded. "Two hours."

"Got it. How long before...?" Harry waved his hand at Voldemort and Barty even as he pulled out his time-turner.

"Four-thirty."

Harry grimaced and offered Voldemort an apologetic look. "I'm sorry?" He'd left Malfoy Manor at around two, and he'd known the red-eyed man still had things to do when he'd left.

Voldemort bared his teeth in response. "Not yet, you're not."

Xerosis rubbed absently at his shoulder. "Give me a break," he complained. "Like I got much more sleep than you."

Harry slipped over to Barty's side, time-turner forgotten, while Voldemort and Xerosis started in on one another. "Come on, Barty, let's escape before we're collateral damage."

Barty let himself be shadowed back to his room in Malfoy Manor. As Harry was checking that he had everything, the Death Eater asked, "Why did you bring me? Will you. Whatever."

"Possibly to keep myself from getting involved in that argument," Harry decided. "Well, and some amusement. Sorry, Barty, but you make it way too easy."

"I'm resigned, my Lord," the man replied drily.

Harry smiled at him. "Probably simpler that way."

Barty snorted, earning a chuckle from the teen. After a moment, just before Harry could shadow away, he asked, "My Lord... Harry?"

Harry blinked at him, always a bit caught off guard when the Death Eater used his given name, since he was the only one who ever did. "Yes?"

Barty looked uncertain, but still enquired, "2054?"

Harry smiled grimly. "Ah. It's a code I use with myself."

"I don't–"

"Barty," Harry warned before the man could press it, "it's not your concern."

Barty considered the boy with the eyes of an adult for a long moment before nodding. "Yes, my Lord."

Harry offered him the faintest of smiles before shadowing away to a park he knew of near the house Xerosis had specified. He'd use his time-turner there.

-0-

"There's going to be a bombing at King's Cross," Harry explained to the waiting Luna as he slipped back in through his window. "I need to wake Andy and Tonks."

"Won't the Aurors try defusing the bomb themselves?" Luna wondered as Harry unloaded his various gadgets back into his trunk.

"Not unless they're idiots," Harry retorted. "At any rate, I fully intend to stress to Tonks how bad an idea that would be."

"What if they make sure the mundane government knows?" Luna asked, following Harry as he left his room and made for Andromeda's room.

"Then the insects get warned. It happens." He knocked on his cousin's door and waited patiently while she muttered sleepily and shuffled out of bed. When the door opened, he offered her an apologetic smile and offered, "Sorry, Andy, but it's important."

"You're far too awake for this hour," Andromeda muttered sleepily before stepping back and waving the two teenagers in. Harry and Luna took the desk chair and the floor next to the chair, respectively, while Andromeda returned to her bed. "Okay, what's so urgent?" she asked around a yawn.

Harry cocked his head to one side. "At ten o'clock, a mundane-planted pile of explosives will be going off at King's Cross."

Andromeda jerked out of her exhaustion. "What?" she whispered, paling slightly.

Harry raised an eyebrow at her. "The Ministry has already received word, but we're not sure they'll really get their behinds in gear in time to get their older system up and running and get the word out for parents to send their kids to Hogwarts that way. Headmaster Dumbledore should put the extra pressure on them to get moving."

"Can't the bombs be nullified?" Andromeda asked, even as she hurried to pull on some robes.

Harry shrugged. "Probably, but I'd leave that to the mundanes; a witch or wizard would probably just set it off pre-emptively. Whether the mundanes get told or not, we're still going to have to find another way to get a few hundred kids to Scotland by the end of the day."

Andromeda gave him a slightly suspicious look. "You don't care if they're told or not?" she wondered.

Harry smiled, but kept his mouth shut.

"You're being more obvious about your muggle-hatred than usual," Andromeda pointed out.

"What ever do you mean, dear Cousin Andy?" Harry replied, looking up at her with suspiciously innocent eyes.

Andromeda snorted. "My husband was muggleborn," she reminded him.

"As was my mother," Harry said, leaning his chin in one hand. "As are two of my friends. I see no reason to fault the child for their parents."

Andromeda snorted again. "You just blame the muggles for being born without magic."

"I never said that," Harry pointed out, amused. "I dislike them because we're all human and it's in our nature to have a certain amount of dislike for those who are different than us. I fear them because I know they have the power to destroy the world, and I hate them because I know they're more than willing to destroy the world to get rid of magical people."

Andromeda frowned. "There are good muggles out there."

Harry shrugged. "Yes, but even good mundanes will choose violence when they're afraid."

"Your friend – Xerosis – and Voldemort are the reasons the muggles are fighting back," Andromeda pointed out.

Harry smiled. "Time is of the essence, Andy; we can continue our philosophical debate later." He stood and reached down to help Luna to her feet. "Come along, luv. If I have to be awake, Sirius will suffer with me. We can wake Tonks on the way."

Luna entwined her arm with his and they walked together down to Tonks' room, where they woke the clumsy metamorphmagus and left her to get ready after explaining that there had been a bomb threat reported at King's Cross.

At Sirius' room, Luna let Harry go in first, not even bothering to knock. She followed him to the bottom of Sirius' bed, where he stopped to consider his sleeping godfather for a minute before summoning a pitcher of water and magically warming it. This he slipped Sirius' hand in before pulling a chair over and sitting down to watch with a smirk.

Five minutes later, Sirius was woken by Harry's loud laughter. Drowsily looking to Luna for sanity, he found the girl giggling quietly and pointing at the front of his trousers. He glanced down, noticed the wet patch, then realised his hand was in a pitcher of warm water. It took him a moment, but he eventually connected the dots and lurched out of his bed towards Harry, who darted out of the room, loudly shouting, "Siri wets the bed like a little kid!"

"Get back here, you little wretch!" Sirius called back, stumbling after the teen and half falling against the wall from time to time.

Luna, still quietly giggling, grabbed the pitcher and left to return it to the kitchen. There was still some popcorn left with her name on it, and she had front row seats to a crazy show.

-0-

Harry quickly understood why they'd chosen to use a steam engine over their old system. "What about the people with mundane parents who can't apparate or have no access to a floo?" he asked of the room in general. Andromeda had just returned with their instructions, drily commenting that everyone else would get theirs via owl within the next two hours. Since they had three and a half hours or so until the bomb was supposed to go off, Harry wasn't concerned.

"The Ministry, St Mungo's, and the Three Broomsticks are all opening their floos for Hogwarts traffic," Andromeda reported. "As long as families can stick to the schedule, everything should go smoothly."

"I have this amazing mental image of a mundane family refusing to let their child attend Hogwarts because they'll have to step in a fireplace," Harry commented drily.

"They can take the Knight Bus," Sirius replied from behind a yawn. "So, Andy, when're Harry and Luna due?"

"Harry needs to leave sometime between one o'clock and one fifteen. Luna an hour after that."

"Can't we just go early?" Harry complained, rubbing at his face. He'd very much like to just take a long nap, personally. "I mean, technically we're living with a professor. Doesn't that get us some sort of bonus?"

"You're living with a professor?" Sirius parroted, looking at his godson with a befuddled expression.

Harry and Luna both pointed to Andromeda, who looked rather amused. "How did you figure it out?" the newest Defence professor asked.

"Luna told me," Harry reported. "Come on, Andy. Can we go early? Luna and I can behave ourselves. We'll stay in our dorm and you'll never even know we were there."

"I don't know, kid..." Andromeda replied, shaking her head slowly.

Harry turned an evil smirk on his godfather.

"Oh, for the love of Merlin, Andy! Take the little demon before he drives me completely off the mountain!" Sirius complained.

"What mountain?" Andromeda demanded, shooting her cousin an incredulous look.

"The Mountain of Sanity!"

Andromeda rubbed tiredly at her forehead while Harry's smirk widened and he said, "I don't think you were ever on that mountain to begin with, Siri."

"Takes one to know one, brat," Sirius retorted.

"Hey, I will have you know that I am a proud resident of the Valley of the Completely Bonkers."

"...why does that sound more awesome than the Mountain of Sanity?" Sirius wondered.

"Because it is. Not only are there no rules, but there are also valley-wide orgies every Friday," Harry declared before glancing at a nearby calendar. "Hey, what do you know? It's Friday!"

"You're too young for an orgy!" Sirius declared.

"No rules," Harry reminded him before turning to Luna. "I know I'm not your type, luv, but would you like to join me in my room for an orgy?"

"Hmmm..." Luna replied, considering her friend thoughtfully.

"Too! Young!" Sirius tried again.

Andromeda groaned to herself. "Merlin forbid," she complained. "Harry, Luna, get your trunks. I'll take you over early if only to preserve my sanity."

"What about my sanity?" Sirius complained as the two teens traded grins and hurried from the room.

"What sanity?"

Harry caught Luna in a quick hug at the top of the stairs before leading the way into his room. "So, what is your type, Luna?" he wondered as he tossed a couple of last minute things into his trunk.

"Someone a little closer to my own age," Luna replied with an absent smile.

Harry chuckled. "Sorry about that."

"Don't be sorry," Luna chastised. "You would make a very poor Lord if you were only fifteen."

"Hn. Good point." Harry closed his trunk and tapped the top to make it shrink, then tossed it into a pocket. "But, really, who's your type? I know you eventually married Rolf Scamander–"

"I've met Rolf a few times," Luna interrupted absently as she shrunk her own trunk. "He's a nice enough boy, but he isn't willing to accept that Crumple-Horned Snorlacks even might exist."

Harry shook his head fondly and ushered the girl back towards the living room. "Luna, luv, that's what most people think."

"They're quite silly then, aren't they?"

"Undoubtedly."

"Are you two ready?" Andromeda asked when they entered the living room.

"Yes," Luna offered.

Harry blinked at his godfather, who gave him a pleading look from behind his gag. "Um, Andy, why is my godfather trussed up like a lamb off to the slaughter?"

Sirius whimpered.

"I'm thinking of giving him to Severus as a peace offering," Andromeda replied drily.

Sirius whimpered again.

"If you're going to do that, you might want to divest him of his clothing, first," Harry commented, eyes gleaming with mischief as Sirius turned, in turns, green and bleach-white. "After all, we both know how Siri is about first impressions when it comes to possible mates."

Sirius' eyes rolled backwards into his head and he toppled off his chair.

Andromeda blinked at her fallen cousin, then looked over at Harry. "That was brilliantly evil."

"I do try," Harry replied, grinning.

Andromeda let out an amused snort. "Yeah, I see that. Well, go on. You're flooing to the Headmaster's office." She waved the two teens towards the open floo.

"Fair maiden," Harry said, bowing Luna forward, "ladies first."

Luna smiled a bit absently at him. "Why thank you, my Lord," she said before flooing through.

Harry considered his godfather's prone form for a moment while Andromeda watched him with an amused look. "Harry, if you're going to curse him, do it now."

Harry offered her a wide-eyed look. "But I'm still under-age, Andy!"

"I've lost track of the number of times I've seen you performing magic this summer, kid," Andromeda informed him drily. "Not sure how you got past the Trace, but since you spent half the summer in the Black family library, I can make a pretty good guess."

Harry smiled, not commenting on that, and pulled his favourite stolen wand out of his pocket. In truth, he'd never removed the Trace from his holly wand, though he'd considered it, but if Andromeda had seen him using magic, she'd have seen this wand, anyway. " Unbekleidet Bekleidet," he muttered, casting the spell on his godfather.

When nothing happened, Andromeda looked at him curiously. "Yes?"

"It's a German spell, meaning 'unclothed clothed'. No matter what Siri puts on, he'll think he's naked, although others will see the clothing he's put on. It'll end after a week." Harry smirked a bit. "I'm kind of curious about whether or not he'll just stop wearing clothing after a few days."

"My poor daughter," Andromeda muttered, stepping forward and turning Harry towards the floo. "Go torture your other professors."

"You're not coming?" Harry asked, surprised.

"In a bit. I need to forewarn Dora about your prank."

Harry chuckled and tossed the powder into the flames before flooing through to Dumbledore's office. "Sorry about the wait, luv," he offered Luna, who was enjoying some tea and biscuits with Dumbledore.

Luna offered him her absent smile. "The Headmaster was asking about Blibbering Humdingers," she explained. "Why don't you join us, Harry?"

Harry glanced over at where Fawkes was glaring at him, feathers puffed up threateningly. That was reassuring. "No, I think I'm going to go nap until lunch. You enjoy your talk, though." He leaned over and kissed her cheek, earning him a pleased smile, then nodded to Dumbledore. "Headmaster."

"Pleasant dreams, my boy," Dumbledore replied with a smile.

Harry had almost reached the door when Fawkes let out a sharp sound and the teenaged Dark Lord clapped his hands over his ears. "What the fuck?" he demanded, giving the phoenix an angry look. He hadn't much expected Fawkes to like him, not with all the blood on his hands, but neither had he expected the bird to verbally attack him, either.

"Fawkes?" Dumbledore asked, half-rising from his seat and watching his familiar with both surprise and concern.

Harry narrowed his eyes at Fawkes as the bird gave off another piercing screech. With his temper up, it didn't take much for Harry to bring his power forward and he threw it at the phoenix, freezing the fire bird with a warning that was the complete opposite of everything the elemental bird was.

Fawkes let out a sound that could only be described as a bird-whimper, then turned his back on Harry completely and hunched his head.

Harry reigned his power in and stalked from the office, wishing he could control his anger better right then. "Fucking hormones. Fucking fire birds."

He needed sleep. He could figure out what to do about Fawkes once he was thinking clearly.

-0-0-0-0-0-

-0-0-0-0-0-

A/N: I apologise in advance for a lack of sanity in those last couple sections. I've been awake for way too long, but I wanted to make this chapter acceptable before handing it over to my betas. ^.^"
Anyway, for all that I wanted to have the whole year in this chapter, I'm kind of fond of where it's ended. (I dunno. Let's see what I think after I've slept a bit. XD)

ETA: Change in the German spell thanks to (FFN).
Edit made to the Blaise Pascal quote courtesy of Arwen00710 (FFN).
I fail at languages...

Hope everyone has a good week!
~Bats ^.^x