Harry Potter had only been back from Hogwarts a week when it happened. Cedric was dead only a week before that, so Harry was dealing with everything all alone when his life turned so dreadfully to type: a brief moment of boredom punctuated by mind numbing terror.
Harry awoke to the sound of the front door being smashed. He sat up as he heard a large group of people storm up the staircase. He pulled out his wand as he heard the unmistakeable sound of a gun sounding off and his aunt's scream asking them why they shot Vernon. Harry panicked as he looked at Hedwig in her cage. In a fit of adrenalin fueled strength, Harry pried the door open to her cage and grabbed the first piece of paper he could find. He scribbled out a little note and tied it to her leg and opened the window just in time for his own room door to swing open wide.
Harry turned around slowly, looking at the strange men. They were dressed in black like in those American cop shows with guns with a flashlight attached to the barrel.
"My aunt and uncle are dead, aren't they?" he asked a moment before two wires flew at his chest, sending volts through his body. His muscles felt like they were on fire. The feeling was weaker, yet familiar to one he felt far too recently. As his body fell to his knees and then to the floor, the memory of the snake faced murderer pointing the stick at his face. He only wished to forget, to be able to ignore the visions of times past that blundered through his consciousness time and time again. Just as he was about to pass out, he heard one of them tap his ear and nod. "Yes, sir. Targets acquired."
"Yes, sir," the man said into the phone. "Two of them, cousins, their mothers were sisters...yes I understand that it's the target's paternal line we're after, but that's not to say that they won't be useful. And if I'm right we might very well have another of the Eagle's descendents...yes sir." He looked up and noticed a pretty blonde woman walking in with a folder tucked under one arm. "Actually sir, we've got the genetic results right here...oh yes, sir, genetic mapping with the new computers only takes an hour or so these days...now let me see..." he said, trailing off as he ran his fingers over the report. "Sir, we have confirmation of sixteen markers. ...Yes, sir, but that's why I think we can have subject 15 exercise to lose weight while we explore the memories of subject 16...no, sir, subject 15 is obscenely obese, it would be quite unwise to put that much strain on the Animus...I'm glad you agree sir...oh I think you'll find subject 16 quite willing to put up with our requirements when we put pressure on family...no sir, I don't think either are active members of that organization, actually I don't think they even know of their connection. ...Perfect then! I'll get them started right away."
Harry awoke to a white room. Everything was white. The walls, the floor, the ceiling and all furniture. And so was his shirt. His hands went to his pants, only to relax as he felt the familiar holly wood in his pocket. Hedwig and his other possessions were no where to be seen, a quick glance about the room revealed a door with a muggle electronic keypad, a locked closet and a bathroom. He glanced about a bit more and noticed a series of red lights.
'Well, at least I wasn't kidnapped by Voldemort's minions this time,' he thought to himself. But why him? And what would muggles want with him, except maybe that they knew about the Wizarding World.
The door opened with a sound of compressed air, sliding into the wall. A middle aged man in white stood motioning him to the doorway.
"Come along, Mr. Potter," the man said in an American accent. "You were rather difficult to track down, you and your cousin. Time's a wasting."
"Who are you? Why are you doing this?" Harry asked, making no move towards the door. The man sighed before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a gun.
"Now, Mr. Potter," the man said in a half-growl.
For a half second, Harry thought about pulling his wand on the man, but realized that he didn't know where he was or how long had passed. He would have to play along, at least until Hedwig returned from her mission. Slowly, so as to get a good look at the surroundings, Harry made his way to the door. He glanced around and noticed a number of other white things. The chairs, the desks and a strange white bed-table thing with a series of lights down the middle in a sort of slow strobe.
"Get on the Animus, Mr. Potter," the man with the gun commanded. Harry must have made a confused look because the man sighed and motioned towards the bed-table thingy. "There, Mr. Potter, that is the Animus."
Harry walked towards it without any sense of hurry, making sure to take in as much of his surroundings as possible. He glanced about and saw a clear glass window where his cousin was forcibly running on a treadmill. Two blocky men in black suits with suspicious bulges under their arms watched over the fat teen as he huffed away, sweat streaming down his face.
"Dudley!" Harry called out in surprise. Dudley either could not hear or did not respond.
"Ah, yes, your cousin," the man with the gun said. "He was going to be our first choice, but his weight could potentially break the Animus and a treadmill is cheaper to replace should something go wrong. But don't worry, Mr. Potter, he is safe," the man flashed Harry a threatening look. "For now, at least."
Harry shot a glare at the man, but slid onto the bed-table-animus, whatever. Almost as soon as he was done positioning himself, a glass view screen moved over his head and a display shown.
"I think you'll find this remarkably like those video games people your age like so much," the man said.
"I've never played one," Harry replied sullenly.
"Really? How very interesting," the man replied in a voice that suggested it was not, in fact, interesting at all. Harry heard the sound of the door sliding open and saw a new person entering the room. She was blonde, pretty and also wore white.
"Seriously, what's the deal with the white?" Harry asked.
"Never mind that," the man said. "Miss Stillman, begin the Animus program for Subject 16."
"Oh, Ezio," the woman moaned in his arms. He was a boy and Christina was a girl. They were together and everything was right in the world. Then there was a pounding at the door to Christina's room, leaping from the bed at the vulgarities thrown his way by the girl's father. Moments later, he raced across the rooftops, his shirt clutched into his hands. He dodged a few of the Pazzi goons, having to pause several times to encourage them to "sleep" before he continued on his way. He leaped over chimneys and walked over rope hanging between the great plazas of the city. He jumped over the gap between two houses and jumped down into the courtyard of his parent's residence.
And then he was in Hogwarts. He looked around and saw a young Sirius and Remus. Merlin, they couldn't have been more than his own age, probably closer to 13 than 15 and were grinning in an evil way. Harry glanced at the shorter boy with them and saw red. His hands reached out and started squeezing the life out of Wormtail while Sirius and Remus tried to pry him off the boy, but his hands refused to let go. The memory of the grave yard was too fresh, the mental wound having not had enough time to scab over. Wormtail looked up at the owner of the hands choking the life out of him with confusion and horror, as if he didn't understand how his friend could do such a thing.
There was a flash of pixilated imagery and Harry was thrown out of the vision. His chest heaved as if with great exertion and his brow was wet with perspiration. His muscles seemed to relax, but they ached as if he'd been using them.
"What happened Miss Stillman? I'm looking for the memories of a master assassin, not some idiotic English boarding school!" the man hissed.
"I don't know what happened," Miss Stillman protested. "But he's been in there for three days! His mind can't handle this combination of mental and physical stress. Dr. Vidic, let him sleep and I'll go over the records and hopefully find out what was going wrong."
The man grumbled under his breath about what useless people he had to deal with, but motioned for her to retract the viewer. Harry took deep, slow breaths. He was exhausted and he was hungry. His body betrayed him as he tried to get up and he realized that his lower half was hooked up to a few machines that took care of his personal waste. He felt weak all over and his body wanted nothing more than to just fall over and die. But this wasn't unlike his punishments as a child for doing something as simple a regrowing his hair after it was shaved off.
"Why are you doing this to me?" he asked as the nurses disconnected him from the medical equipment. For the first time he found himself yearning for the vile tasting potions that Matron Pomfrey had forced down his throat at school.
"You are part of the future, Mr. Potter," Dr. Vidic replied. "You see, the past is written in our DNA, in our genetic code."
"What's a genetic code, or DNA?" Harry asked, having not paid attention to muggle science the past five years as he was understandably distracted by other things. Dr. Vidic looked at him like he was insane.
"Mr. Potter, I don't care what kind of education you've had, you should at least know the basics of genetics," the man taunted. "What were they teaching you at St. Brutus's? Never mind, the name alone reveals its purpose. No, the genetic code is what separates a human from an ape, an ape from a monkey and even a snake from a bird. It is the language of life, the song of existence. The past of you, your parents, their parents and so on and so forth going back and back and back, is all written in your genetic code. This device, the Animus, allows us to read and review the memories of your ancestors while you relive them. For example, you are descended on your mother's side from Ezio Auditore, whose memories we were just now reading."
"So, when I-when I saw them-"
"Yes, that was a memory, but what possessed you to strangle that young man's friend resulted in a break from synchronization which then exiled you from the memory, as that is not what happened," Vidic continued.
"So, since the past didn't happen that way, I can't review the memories unless I continue on the same way," Harry guessed.
"Who was he? Just out of curiosity," Vidic asked as he paced about the room.
"He was responsible for my parents' deaths," Harry said quietly, wincing as the young nurse improperly removed the tube from his urinary tract. She gave him an apologetic look. Another disconnected the IV from his arm. He tried to stand up, but his vision swam and they helped him into a wheelchair.
"Get some rest, Mr. Potter, you'll need it," Vidic commanded as the teen was rolled away into his locked room. Once inside, the nurses helped him to the bed and reconnected the IV. Harry could still hear the man berating the blonde woman for her "incompetence." Harry listened as Vidic and Stillman discussed what they saw on the video. It was just a repeat of Harry's vision of his-He had been his father. He saw his father's life. This was a chance for him to see everything that his father and ...he could see his mother's life as well. If only he could convince them to let him. He needed to go back into that machine. He needed to know who his parents were, not just what people thought of him. He was more than his father's face with his mother's eyes. There was so, so much more to him and to them. He needed to go back inside.
Harry awoke later to a nurse dragging in a plate full of food. Well, one could suppose it could be called food: preprocessed, bland, efficiency-only foodstuffs. There was nothing solid, everything was a gel or a liquid and there was little dairy save for some ice cream for "desert." Harry didn't care and ate it all, perhaps a bit too quickly. He choked slightly on the mush/breakfast thing as it went down hot. Harry took some time and allowed it to cool before continuing on.
"Come along, Mr. Potter, tick-tick, time's a wasting," Vidic said about three quarter's through the meal.
"I'm eating," Harry said. "And what happened to my pants? I want them back." Vidic opened his mouth to make some kind of platitude, but Harry continued on. "And I want to see my cousin."
"Your cousin is fine," Vidic said. "He's losing weight nicely. He'll be a new man if you see him."
"When I see him," Harry corrected.
"Oh, right, of course," replied Vidic with a smirk. "When."
Harry finished his food and pushed the tray away. "My pants and my wallet, now."
Vidic looked at him and was about to say something, but the look in Harry's eye made him pause. There was something ethreal there, something beyond mortal ken, in Harry's eyes that made him nod to a nurse. "Give the boy his things."
Harry didn't thank him as he slid off the bed and into the wheel chair. He was weaker than he ever remembered being, but there was an inner strength that was pushing him forward. He ignored the nurse who prepared to push him along and grabbed the wheels and rolled himself into the other room. He was kidnapped, set into some kind of machine and his cousin, while not his favorite person, was being used in a similar fashion.
He rolled his chair right up to the Animus and with an indignant look towards his jailors pushed himself into a standing position and slid onto the machine.
"Very well, Mr. Potter, your things will be returned to you when this session is done," Vidic commented. He nodded towards his assistant. "Miss Stillman? Begin the session. And this time-get the right sequence!"
He was riding a horse. There is something much more primal about riding an animal than riding a broom. Horses are alive, you can feel their muscles move, the heat their bodies give off. There's a smell too, but he was used to it. A team of three crusaders charged him, but he weaved his way around them, trampling one, the archer, right over. The walls of the canyons seemed to blur around him as he went faster and faster, pausing only to vault from the horse's back into a wagon load of hay. He waited for them to head off before he climbed back out and started to scale the large tower for a better look. Off in the distance he could see where he needed to be. He heard the call of the Eagle and his arms went wide as he spun, landing in the same wagon load of hay he had hidden in minutes before. He walked up and spotted a group of scholars making their way through the town gate. Slipping off the horse, he blended in with the white robed scholars and slipped into Jerusalem.
Then he was back in Italy. He watched and lived and experienced as Ezio watched his father and brothers hung from the gallows as the fat man looked on. He watched and lived and experienced the heart pounding thrill as he hunted down the man and saved his, er, Ezio's sister and mother from Florence/Firenze and out into the country where he fought off the Pazzi minions with the help of his, er, Ezio's Uncle. There was a moment where Harry/Ezio dreaded his uncle being a plumber for some obscure reason, but it passed quickly. At the Villa, Harry/Ezio spent hours searching every part of the villa. He explored the city and investigated every nook and cranny. He experienced the events that lead to convincing Ezio to stay and finish his training. Then after what seemed like weeks and years, he jumped off a building in Florence and landed in Griffindor Tower.
"I don't know, Lily wouldn't like it," he told Sirius.
"Oh, come on, Prongs, Lily never likes our pranks," his padfooted friend replied. "Come along, it'll be great."
James looked doubtful, but eventually his face turned from doubtto a smirk. "Okay, let's go get him."
They walked out on a bright weekend day and sought their prey. Snape sat under a tree. With a crowd behind him and his wand out, he snapped off a spell, dragging the Slytherin into the air and hauling down the undershorts to show everyone what he had. Everyone laughed, everyone but Snape and a certain furious redhead.
"JAMES POTTER PUT HIM DOWN!" Harry watched/lived/experienced the supreme dressing down Lily gave his father. He was confused, why would his father do that? How? He was a bully? There was a moment of static as synchronization was temporarily lost, but it bounced back from a different point of view. He was Lily, his own mother and watched as she chewed out his father to be for hurting her friend. Wait- Snape was his mother's friend? How the Hell? But the moment of shock passed and Lily tried to help Snape up to his feet.
"Come on Sev," she said, pulling the embarrassed boy to his feet, but he threw off her hand.
"Leave me alone!" he snarled. "Why should a mudblood like you care?"
Lily recoiled as if slapped. Her jaw moved up and down, but not noise came out. The shock of her friend saying something like that to her was painful enough. Harry could feel the raw emotional pain that little phrase caused her. Harry struck out at the one who caused him and his mother so much pain, but as Snape was thrown backwards, the memory destabilized and fell apart, bringing him back to the waking world.
"It happened again! What are we paying you for, Miss Stillman?" Vidic demanded.
"You're paying me because I'm the best at what I do, that's why," Stillman replied hotly.
Harry looked down to realize he was once more attached to enough medical equipment to service an ER in a major city. As he was awake nurses arrived and started the process of disconnecting him from everything.
"Where is Dudley?" Harry asked. "Where are my things?"
Vidic gave him a wordless snarl and motioned towards his room. Once more disconnected, he was rolled towards the bed again and set down. He was given a meal and something to drink and he glanced at his pants and shirt. His wand was still there as were his most prized heirlooms: the Marauder Map and the Cloak of Invisibility. He just made sure they were there, not worrying about what he might use them for, as the time hadn't arrived. He didn't want to do anything until he knew Dudley was safe. He sat up in his bed, leaning against the wall. The door opened with a hiss and Dudley walked in. A very thin Dudley. He was still muscular, but not fat. He looked like he had been running and exercising for weeks.
"Harry? What happened to you?" Dudley asked in horror.
"You're so thin!" Harry glanced at his arms and realized that he was probably looking more than a little thin and perhaps even borderline skeletal.
"Well, so are you," Harry countered. "Have they done anything to you?"
"They made me run until I looked like this, but now they're keeping me in some kind of table like you've got out there," Dudley said. "They kept...they made me watch as you stayed on that slab. They kept telling me that you were the only family I had left. So I did what they wanted, I kept running and I ate what they told me. But then they put me on one of those tables too..." he trailed off before he looked at Harry with anger in his eyes. "They killed my parents, Harry. They said they wanted me, but they kept you as well to control me. They didn't...they didn't know about you know."
"I know," Harry said, with a look in his eyes that told his cousin to shut up. Dudley understood and nodded. "They have me going through the Middle East and Italy, living as an assassin."
"I'm in China and India in the 1930s," Dudley said. "They want something called the...sankara? Yeah, the Sankara Stones. I haven't found them yet. They said it's from my dad's side."
"They haven't told me what they're after with me," Harry said. "But it's like late 15th century Italy, late Renaissance. And, or, the Crusades."
"Oh, we read about that in school. Wasn't too interesting then, but it's getting more so now," Dudley said. "This guy, I guess he's my great-grandfather, he was American. I don't know the big deal, but I think he's the reason Dad always hated them."
Harry snorted despite himself. "Sorry, but Uncle Vernon didn't need much reason to hate someone."
Dudley looked away angrily, but shrugged and let his shoulders sag. He was about to say something else, but the door opened with a hiss. "Time to go, Mr. Dursley."
The look Dudley shot Vidic was one of hate and rage. Dudley's hands clenched, but he turned, nodding to Harry, and walked out of the room. He "accidentally" bumped into Vidic on the way out, eliciting an angry look from the man. Dudley faked an apology, but pocketed the code pen he lifted, making sure it was capped as he tucked it into his pants.
Harry Potter slept. In his place was James Potter. Or sometimes it was Lily Evans. One moment he would be Ezio and the next he would be some guy named Altair. Then he was his own grandfather, Charlus Potter. Other times he was other ancestors at other time periods doing other things. It was ever changing and repeated over and over and over. As time went on, he started remembering more and more of what these memories experienced.
After what seemed like days, weeks or even years, Harry awoke to the annoying "tut tut" of Dr. Vidic standing in the doorway. "Time to get up, Mr. Potter."
Grumbling, Harry slid himself into the wheelchair and rolled himself into the animus room where nurses were there to assist him.
"Not even waiting until I'm out this time?" Harry asked in a snide voice.
"We feel that the nurses actions may have had some effect on the fact the Animus continues to reject you time after time," Stillman said as she activated the animus. She leaned over to strap him in, pulling a long seat-belt like contraption across his chest and arms, snapping it in place and tightening it up. Meanwhile the nurses were hard at work removing any sense of dignity Harry still had and reconnecting him to all the contraptions from earlier. The catheter was a particular insult. He might have been thin, but his time in the animus had made him sickly, weak. But as the body weakened, the mind sharpened itself. Deep inside, Harry was already partitioning his mind using the arcane meditation of occlumency, a talent his mother had worked hard to develop with the help of her best friend. Her abilities were starting to blend with his. So were his father's skills. So were other skills that even Harry wasn't sure where they came from. Strapped into the Animus, Harry clutched his wand to his side. He wasn't about to let himself be unprepared when it came time to escape. He glanced at the window and froze.
"Finished, nurses?" Vidic demanded gruffly. They nodded and quickly left the room. Vidic turned to Stillman who was fiddling with the computer. "You can begin when ready, Miss Stillman."
"Wait, before we begin, how long have I been here?" Harry asked. "Since the beginning, not just this last session."
"Nearly three months, Mr. Potter, but still that doesn't help you unless you know where 'here' is," Vidic replied. Harry nodded, glancing briefly at the window once more. Hedwig was perched across the street, a letter in her claws. He gave her a wink and she cocked her head in a position that was the owl equivalent of a smirk.
"I want to see my cousin again after this session," Harry told the white clad man.
The man snorted. "Fine, if that's what it takes. Miss Stillman, make a note of it."
"Of course, Doctor."
And Harry/Ezio was in Italy once more. And he was sleeping with someone known as the Lady of Forli. The next moment it was bedlam. Cannons blew off everywhere, sending mortar and stone flying like shrapnel. He ducked, running along, covering his head from attack. Mario was helping to get the-
BZZZT! SNAP! FIZZ!
The memory vanished, replaced by a black loading screen. His memories flashed faster and faster, older and older until he saw a woman running with a strange orb that he remembered handing to Mario. He and the woman were running, running while naked, and yet not. There were other humans wearing the same thing, but they weren't running. Harry and the woman climbed up the side of the building frantic, the fight/flight instinct honed in entirely at the latter. They ran up and the woman looked behind him and screamed "Look out!"
Then everything was black.
Harry screamed as a dam opened and memories like a biblical deluge gushed through his mind and for a time he wasn't sure who he was, where he was or when he was. He wasn't sure if he was Harry or someone reliving Harry's life. Then the flood stopped.
The room was like a prison cell. One window, one bed, one table and one dresser and a door that was locked from the hallway, not from inside. The walls were stark, undecorated, with only a few personal touches about the room: some objects on the windowsill, a photograph tucked behind some exposed pipes and book on the desk.
"Tom, you have a visitor," a middle aged woman said as she opened up the door. Standing next to her was a younger Albus Dumbledore dressed in muggle clothes of a style prior to the Second World War.
"Hello, Tom," Dumbledore said in a serious but kind tone. The woman left the door open, but quickly left them to their devices. He stared at Dumbledore while Dumbledore stared back at him a moment before moving to hang up his wet coat.
"Don't," he said, while looking out the window. The voice was young, a child's voice. "You're the Doctor, aren't you?"
"No," Dumbledore corrected quietly. "I'm a professor."
"I don't believe you," he said sullenly. "She wants me looked at. ...They think I'm...different."
"Well, perhaps they're right," Dumbledore said kindly as he sat on the bed of the cell like room.
"I'm not mad," he said.
"Hogwarts," Dumbledore said, "is not a place for mad people. Hogwarts is a school; a school of magic."
He nodded slowly as if he believed, but didn't want to admit it, still not totally sure the man wasn't just a doctor trying to trip him up.
"You can do things, can't you Tom?" Dumbledore asked, giving him a little nod. "Things other children can't."
"I can make things move without touching them," he said with a strange tone to the voice. "I can make animals do what I want without training them. And I can make bad things happen to people who're mean to me." He paused and looked Dumbledore in the eyes. "I can make them hurt...if I want." he paused and looked Dumbledore over once more. "Who are you?"
"I'm like you, Tom," Dumbledore said as he leaned forward slightly in a conspiring manner. "I'm different."
He gave the professor a sullen look then fixed him with a challenging stare.
"Prove it," he said in a smarmy voice that held just a tinge of the accent he would speak later in life.
And that was when Harry realized whose memory he was reliving.
The Animus was suddenly engulfed in flames and sparks that flew from the electronics as Harry screamed in rage and pain, his voice calling out from the beyond. People several floors down looked up from their work in horror and surprise both from the voice and at their computers as they fizzled and popped, the screens flickering on and off, the speakers echoing Harry's scream of pain and rage even if they couldn't understand the words he spoke. Slithering its way through the walls, beyond the soundproofing, the voice instilled an instinctive fear in them and they only wanted to get away from the sound.
In the room with Harry, Vidic hit the computer with his jacket, hoping to smother the flames and preserve the computer core. Neither noticed the bright glow surrounding Harry. Stillman was frantically trying to untie Harry from the machine as he writhed in pain, screaming curses in his rage as his back arched pressing himself tightly against the strap. The scar on his forehead glowed with an unholy light that seemed to stream outward, emanating rage and evil. She realized that he wasn't hurt by the flames, they danced across his skin as if they were unable to actually touch him even as his johnny was in flames. He was as a witch tied to a post in the midst of incineration as the strap burned through, freeing him.
The entire block was fried as Harry's magically infused rage flew out from him, his words emanating from the computers, the mp3 players, the cellphones and any other gadget in range, speaking words few understood intermixed with sharp piercing screeches that echoed out like modems calling for help and reaching for freedom. Abstergo went from online and logged in to digitally non-existent in an instant.
The flames continued to dance over his flesh as Harry sat up with a strength he shouldn't have had. He was like an avenging angel of death, all skin and bones, come to call. Any free object swarmed around him, orbiting him like satellites. They danced with the flames, became smoke and ash, and then dissipated as if they never were. Harry glared down his nose at Vidic and pulled the medical sensors from his chest with one hand while pushing himself upright like Frankenstein's Monster rising from his slab. Vidic looked upon Harry and knew fear and for a moment his conviction in the Templar movement wavered, twisted by the primal fear he had of his One before him. Harry absently waved his wand, still glaring at the man who had so abused his person and mind, and with a single word the IV, Catheter and other meddlesome medical gear vanished. Naked, looking not unlike some reanimated corpse from some movie of Lovecraftian eldritch horrors, he stood on his own two feet and pointed his wand at Vidic.
Vidic cowered before him.
"What are you?" he asked, holding up his hands before his face and looking away, as if he could ward off Harry's vengeance with false piety. Thoughts came unbidden to Harry's mind. Actions surged through his psyche as he pondered whether or not to stab a knife through the man's skull, or crucio him into insanity. The Killing Curse came to mind. Other, less forbidden, but equally dark spells came to mind. Fiendfyre could burn the man to ashes, as if he had never been. A cutting curse would make it easy to bring him back as an animated corpse under his control. A knife through the heart. A severed head to send back to his masters. Exsanguination, a simple spell, as easy to cast as Lumos, came to mind. The possibilities were nearly endless. With a second primal scream of rage, he forced back the flood, trapping the memories in walls stronger than steel, yet more fine than the finest feather. He stood like Moses, parting the seas of the memories so he could walk through. As he walked the memories boxed themselves up, all fitting in their special places until all of Harry's ancestry was contained in enough crates to resemble a warehouse of infinite proportions.
Finally, after the struggle was contained, Harry found himself with his wand to Vidic's forehead, the man still shivering in fear. There was still an urge to kill the man, but it was nothing compared to before, but Harry was aware enough to realized murdering the bastard would cause more problems than it solved.
"Obliviate!" he said flicking his wrist. Vidic turned slightly numb, but stilled as Stillman ran around the room. Harry ignored her and focused all of his will and power on the man cowering before him. "You saw me kill myself after going insane. I didn't know who I was or what I was doing and something caused the Animus to go up in flames, setting me off. It was really bloody."
Harry was about to leave it at that, but remembered another spell that seemed useful for this, and flung his wand at the man. "Legilimens!" Harry forced his way through the man's mind like a steam train over an unfortunate squirrel, picking it apart piece by piece. Eventually he realized what the eventual goal was.
"What are you doing?" Stillman demanded.
"I'm sorting through his mind, finding his goal," Harry said when he was done. He flicked his wand and silently sent a sleep spell at the man, making him fall to the ground in a heap. Harry looked more like a skeleton than the young man he was. His muscle-mass had mostly vanished and his hair had grown out, making him look even more unkempt than before, but it parted in front of his face, showing off his most famous feature that seemed to flicker and catch the remaining light in the room.
"How?" she demanded.
"I'm a wizard, Lucy," Harry said. "We hide from the world, keeping to ourselves, but if the Templars' plan continues we might not have that choice."
"Wizard? But how, we've never-"
"Wizards have always existed as far as we know, we go back at least to Merlin, probably before, History of Magic wasn't my strong suit in school, although I now have a new appreciation as to what dead people can teach me," Harry said, massaging his forehead. "I've seen things, old things. I know stuff. If I hadn't been who I am, I might have really gone insane. But really, at sixteen the knowledge of an 'ancient all powerful civilization' existing in the depths of time, isn't as scary as a 60 foot basilisk when you're twelve. That's still pretty much tops. Especially now that I know how to kill him."
"A long story, one I can't allow you to remember," Harry said before pointing his wand at her with a flick. "I killed myself. It was really bloody. Oh, and change the color scheme, maybe add some grays in here. The all-white-all-the-time is really giving me a headache. And before I forget, you need to forget about all references to magic in relation to wands and me. They're all fiction or mortalized legends left over from Those Who Came Before."
She slumped back into her chair numbly as Harry turned towards the door being forced open. Dudley stood there, having shoved the electronic lock open with a crowbar.
"Ready, Harry?" he asked.
"Almost," Harry said, flicking his wand a letting a silvery strange flow from the side of his head into the Animus. He doubled it, and returned the original back to his mind. "Our escape doesn't change anything, really. They're just going to find someone else and next time they might not be as lucky."
Harry cut his finger and started drawing on the floor.
"What are you doing?" Dudley asked.
"Bloodwards," Harry said. "My mother was an expert in them. Now no one will be able to harm anyone in this room. Or the bedroom. They'll justify their actions, rationalize them away, but they can't harm anyone here anymore."
"Why blood?" Dudley asked a little nervous of the blatant display of magical power. The pentagram Harry drew glowed sickly
"It's always about the Blood," Harry muttered to himself before shaking his head slightly to keep the memories in place. "Blood is power, Dudley, it's what kept dark wizards from attacking me in Privet Drive, it's what kept you and yours safe from wizards," Harry said. And yet it had done nothing against normal humans, Harry thought to himself before adding in some modified "notice me not" aspects to the wards. "And there's a good chance that whoever they bring in after me is going to be some kind of relation."
"But the tail, you blowing up aunt Marge..." Dudley trailed off. "What about those things?"
"They were never meant to harm. And also, Aunt Marge isn't related to me, so the blood wards wouldn't work in her favor anyway, and mine have a bit more protection than those my mother set up, considering they were specified against Dark Magic and I'm focusing on Non-Violence," Harry said as he walked into the bedroom and started writing on the wall. Some of the things he understood. Others he knew. He had to write. It wasn't really a compulsion, just something that was necessary. Miranda understood. When he was done, he slumped back into the wheelchair Dudley had ready for him. A few notice-me-nots and they were on their way, rolling and walking out of Abstergo unnoticed and unmolested. "Did they find what they were looking for?"
Dudley smirked. "They thought so, but not really. Did you know they don't think the Grail is real? Same thing with the Ark of the Covenant."
"And you do?"
"It's...being studied by top people," Dudley said hesitantly. "Where are we anyway?"
"Paris," Harry said, looking up at the Eiffel Tower in the distance, half remembering something from some other ancestor who had spent time in the city. "I think I know some people who owe me a favor or two who live nearby. But first, I need a few potions to get my strength back."
"You can do that?"
"Dudley, if you only knew what my parents could do..." Harry said with a look of amazement. He glanced down the street. "I've been here before."
"Harry, we've never been to France, you know what Dad was like," Dudley corrected him as he wheeled his cousin down the walk.
"Dudley, put your hand on my shoulder," Harry commanded and as soon as the larger teen did so, the street transformed. It was older, cleaner, but there was a side street that hadn't been there before. "Go in there, Dudley."
Dudley was hesitant, his lingering reluctance to trust magic was not as strong as it once was, but was not entirely vanished either. But he swallowed his fear and turned onto the street. Dudley had never been to Diagon Alley, and this street in France was similarly different from the norm. The style and fashion were very similar to that typically found in magical Britain, but it was different enough to never mistake for Britain. Robes were shorter for women, much more like the dress-suits the Beauxbatons students wore to the Tri-Wizard than the long formless robes that trailed along the ground of British magical society. Men tended to wear less flowing robes, much more like muggle suits than those favored by most British Wizards. But the architecture was older, much older than in London. It was more Roman than later civilizations, with marble steps and finely carved columns propping up overhangs, but the buildings had been built upon and those buildings had been built upon, so it seemed as if a balcony on top of a balcony on top of a balcony until they were nearly touching across the wide streets of the Magical Quarter of Paris. Dudley gawked at the sight.
"I remember when those were built," Harry said, glancing towards the converted Temple of Hecate (now a potions supply store and warehouse) next to a stable converted into an outdoor bar. "I was so impressed by their ability to build quickly."
"No, you weren't, Harry," Dudley corrected. Harry winced as he realized what he had just said. The Paris Magic Quarter was nearly two thousand years old, there was no way Harry could have been there.
"No, you're right," Harry said. "That wasn't me. It's hard, so hard to not remember... everything."
"...yeah... ..." Dudley said, trailing off as they paused. "Now what are we doing here?"
Just as he said that, Hedwig flew down and landed on the arm of Harry's chair. The two of them ignored the looks they got from the people around them as they clearly didn't belong, well, maybe it was something more on Harry's part. When Dudley watched them look at Harry, it was like they didn't know what to think about him. It was like they were trying to figure out what he was doing there. And while, yes, Harry was in a wheelchair and looked quite sickly, he still didn't think it was quite normal to get those kind of looks.
Meanwhile, Harry was reading the letter attached to Hedwig's leg. His eyes scanned over the words and as he finished, his hands clenched, crumpling the letter in his hands.
"Damn old fool!" Harry said, throwing the letter to the ground.
"What was it?"
"Dumbledore was telling me to stay home, that someone would be there," Harry hissed. "It seems someone let Dementors into our old neighborhood."
"Evil, dark creatures that feed on people's souls," Harry said. "He doesn't even realize that we haven't been there for three months."
"Has it really been that long?" Dudley asked.
"That's what Vidic said before he put me in that last time," Harry said. He grumbled and reached down to pick up the abandoned letter. He waved his wand over it and erased the message and wrote his own with a transfigured stick into a pencil. He tied it to Hedwig's leg with the same ribbon Dumbledore's missive had used and ruffled the feathers under her chin. "Take that to the Delacours, girl. As quick as you can."
The owl rubbed her head against him before taking flight. They didn't have to wait long, as a crack was heard and two people stood in front of them. The man was tall, dark haired and handsome. The woman was the kind of woman that makes straight men drool and make fools of themselves, in other words, she had veela blood.
"Monsieur Potter?" the woman asked with a gasp at his appearance. Harry nodded as respectfully as he could. "Are you well? You look..." she trailed off as if she didn't want to describe how he looked. He had been quite healthy when they had last seen him at the Final Task, and now he was a skeleton with skin.
"It's part of what I need your help with, if you don't mind," Harry said.
"Of course, you saved our youngest when Fleur couldn't," Monsieur Delacour replied before glancing at Harry's companion. "And this is?"
"My cousin, Dudley," Harry introduced. Dudley flushed and looked away from Madame Delacour, but shuffled his feet slightly.
"Could we switch- uh, I speak French not well. I am speaking French better than am speaking German, but much not by," the sturdy cousin said. It was only then that Harry realized he'd been conversing in French the entire time. He flashed his cousin an apologetic look, but the bigger teen shook his head. "Latin or Greek better. Not so French. English best. Please."
The Delacours sighed and nodded. At least Dudley made the attempt. They switched to English. Having had more practice, their accent was negligible.
"How can we be of service?" Monsieur Delacour inquired, motioning them to move closer to the bar made out of a Roman stable. Dudley pushed Harry over while the Delacours walked along side them.
"My cousin and I find ourselves in Paris without coin after some unfortunate events-"
Dudley snorted at that phrase.
"-And we need to get some potions for health and such. We might be in a bit of danger, as well," Harry admitted. They shared a glance, but Harry shook his head. "Not the black robed kind."
"I don't know, Harry, there's a guy in black robe looking at you pretty closely," Dudley said pointing to a man across the street.
Harry commented on this individual with some choice phrases that would have had anyone who could speak early 16th century Italian blushing brightly. Most of them were not anatomically possible, but that only made them more forceful in their impact. He recognized the man from his brief sojourn in the Riddle graveyard. "Avery," Harry finished with a look of hate directed towards the man. The man obviously recognized Harry and vanished with a crack.
Delacour looked at where the dark wizard had disapparated from and frowned. "I do believe it is time for us to leave."
A portkey later and they were in the Delacour parlor.
"Thank you," Harry said even as his stomach felt like it was still in the portkey. Dudley, his first instance of magical travel, was equally discombobulated by the event. While his memories of his ancestor allowed him to relax more in the presence of magic, there was still a lingering mistrust from his upbringing. However, he was well aware that nothing would ever be normal again.
Harry looked up at his saviors with an apologetic look. "Sorry for getting you involved in this. It wasn't my intent. I was just hoping to get some potions and go home." he paused. "Wherever that is."
"What happened?" a young voice asked. "Harry? Harry Potter?"
Harry felt ashamed to be seen by the youngest Delacour in his present state. He wore a johnny, was being pushed around in a wheelchair and looked like he just crawled out of a crypt. Not the best image for someone nearly ready for bed at the tender age of nine. Harry was sure his appearance was the stuff of nightmares. The girl's parents seemed to agree.
"Gabrielle, please go to bed," her mother told her. "Harry will be here in the morning."
Gabrielle was reluctant, but did as her mother bid. Harry winced as she gave him one last look of pity before vanishing down the hallway. The moment she was gone, her mother motioned them over to a table. "Now, I don't mean to be rude, Monsieur Potter, but what is going on?"
Harry and Dudley shared a look, then both shrugged.
"To sum up," Dudley said. "We were kidnapped and held for the last three months before we escaped today."
"Oh," Madame Delacour said, more than a little shocked.
"Is there a long version of this tale?" her husband asked.
"Oh, much longer than you know," Harry said before trying to puzzle through the story of Abstergo, but decided not to mention the stranger parts, like His memories. With Dudley telling his side of things, they explained the basics of what happened to them. "But they were looking for some things our ancestors had. These muggles found a way to read the memories of our ancestors. It seems that everything we know and everything our ancestors knew is still inside us. They had a machine that brought his knowledge forward. They didn't care about our well being, only their goals," Harry explained. The interest was clear on their faces, as was their surprise, but they did not wish to interrupt the story and motioned for the two boys to continue.
"But they were smart," Dudley said. "They didn't let us know where we were or let us contact anyone. We couldn't escape easily. I was only in the machine for short spurts. Harry was in there for days at a time, weeks even."
"It wasn't until we escaped the facility that we realized we were in Paris," Harry said. "And you're the only people I know from France. Uh, how is Fleur?"
"She is in England, working at Gringott's," Apolline replied with a proud smile. "I think she will go far."
"That's good to hear," Harry said. "But you want to know about me. I need some potion ingredients. I don't have money on me now, but Hedwig can bring them to-"
"There is no issue if they are not that rare," Monsieur Delacour said, cutting him off. "If they are too expensive, then we can deal then. But please, you saved our daughter. A few components are nothing compared to our Gabrielle."
"Thank you," Harry said honestly. "You don't know how much that means to me."
Dudley looked him over. "I think sleep first though."
The Delacours smiled at the teen's attempts at staying awake and nodded. Harry reluctantly shut up. He was taken via house elf express and was asleep before he was even out of the chair. The Delacours turned to Dudley.
"And you, young man, how do you fit into all of this?" Apolline asked.
Dudley blushed and squirmed, but found his steel will. "I'm Harry's cousin, Dudley Dursley. Sorry for not introducing myself earlier, I...I'd never been in a place like the magic quarter."
"You are not a wizard?" Mr. Delacour asked, sitting up surprised.
"No, I'm just a regular guy," Dudley said. He thought back on what he was to Harry. He had long since realized that Harry was all he had left. He couldn't go back to Smeltings because of the Templars. He couldn't go back to boxing for the same reason. His parents were dead, killed by the Templars, and he wanted nothing more than to get revenge, but the experiences over the past month were life changing. His ancestor had a sense of duty. And a really strong hatred of snakes and Nazis, two things that Dudley had in common with his great-grandfather. He had gained a healthy respect for magic, for what it could accomplish, but his fear pulled back as other facts changed his world view. Looking at the Delacours he realized that they weren't freaks. If it weren't for their odd style of dress and the creepy monkey thing that took Harry to his room, they could have been average nobility in England. He hadn't seen any magic around them and the house just looked like one of those fancy manors that nobles live in from the 17th and 18th centuries.
"I hope that's not a problem?" he asked.
"I can't help but notice you have an American accent, North East, I believe, but not New England, am I right?" Monsieur Delacour commented. "But Harry grew up in England."
"Oh," Dudley said, scratching the side of his face where the stubble was starting to grow long. "I hadn't really noticed, but now that you mention it, yeah, I do, I guess." he shrugged, not quite sure how to explain the Bleeding Effect that Miss Stillman had explained. "It wasn't really made clear, but after a while we start taking on the traits of the ancestor's life, or lives. My great-grandfather was an American archaeologist. Before then I was a common thug and a bully. I didn't spend any effort on my accent or my education really, but I've come to realize how that had to change. My great-grandfather spent a lot of time and effort on what he accomplished and I guess that drive settled on me. And getting an education from my Great-grandfather's life gives me a step up."
The Delacours looked at each other in surprise. "That is a...useful item," Madame Delacour commented, thinking of the possibilities an Animus could have."
"It's not all great," Dudley said, looking down the hallway where Harry had vanished. "Harry was in it a lot more than me. They couldn't put me in it because last spring I was really fat, I didn't realize how fat until I lost the weight. They made me lose it. But Harry was strapped in right off the bat. He forgets sometimes that he isn't this Ezio guy or his father or his mother. He had an ancestor around when your Magic Quarter was built. That bar we stayed at was a stable. He said that he's using something called occulamany?"
"Occlumency," Delacour corrected.
"Right, that, and he's trying to order his mind, but it doesn't always work," Dudley said. " I had three months to accept my parents death. Harry was strapped in almost the entire time. I think it hasn't really hit him what happened to us. Someday it will."
Harry awoke to the sound of chirping birds and a slightly larger bird poking him in the forehead with her beak.
"Hello, Hedwig," he said, reaching up to stroke her chin. She bent into his touch and made owlish-happy-sounds.
Harry was feeling more rested than he had in a long time. The best was soft, but not so much that one would sink into it. Harry sat up and took a moment to remember where he was. The high ceilings, the gilded doors, the walls that looked as if they were painted by one of the Renaissance Masters; all this reminded him of his location.
He turned, slipping on his glasses and saw a finely dressed house elf waiting for him.
"The Mistress of the Household and her husband are waiting for you in the parlor. New clothes have been set out for you, I hope you will find their suitable for your needs," the House Elf said with a formal bow.
"Yes, your assistance is appreciated," Harry replied formally. The house elf bowed once more before vanishing. With more than a little effort, Harry pulled himself to his feet. He waved his wand over himself, setting a few personal hygiene charms his father had used commonly in his time at Hogwarts when he was late to class or there was some accident in the preparation of a prank. He went from smelly and sweaty to clean and neutral scented in an instant. The next step was getting dressed, something that was a bit more difficult. He managed it after a while and made his way to the parlor.
He bowed to the family and shot a friendly smile at Gabrielle who gave him a wave back as she blushed in her seat. Monsieur Delacour motioned for him to take a seat. Harry wobbly sat down.
"Thank you, once more for doing this, I know you could have refused, and it means much to me that you would do this," He told them. Both smiled before they set in to breakfast. Dudley ate slowly, shocking Harry somewhat, as that was not typical Dudley behavior, but it was right in front of his face. Harry did similarly, keeping to his best manners, hoping to not offend his hosts. They did not speak during the meal, choosing to savor every bite. Harry didn't think that simple bread could taste so good, but there was something almost magical, well considering where they were, it probably it was, about the food. Or it might have just been that it was French breakfast. Either way, it was the best breakfast either of the English boys had ever had. Of course, since they had been fed by either powdered foodstuffs or medical apparatus for the past few months, even moldy English bread and toast would have been positively divine.
Every so often Dudley would giggle at something he remembered or something his ancestor remembered. Harry was sure he heard the words "primate parfait," but he couldn't be sure.
Harry was led to the potions lab immediately after breakfast where Harry spent the better part of a day brewing muscle restoring potions, appetite enhancers and a few other potions to get him back into full health. All of these were his mother's creation or improvements on previous recipes. Downing the potions one after another, Harry's head swam and he fell to the ground as his body shifted and changed, grew. Twice he had to cast enlarging charms on his borrowed robes to fit into them. It took an excruciating hour, but by the end, Harry was in full health even if he was utterly exhausted. He picked himself up off the floor and slid back into his wheelchair, something he would soon abandon. A house elf brought him back to the room he was staying in and he slept, clothes still on, for another sixteen hours when he awoke completely ravenous. His needs were anticipated and he devoured the food made available to him. He got up and realized that the sun was just rising.
Around the room, he was amazed at how wonderful it felt to be steady on his feet. It was a case of not knowing what you're missing until it's gone. He bounced on the balls of his feet as if testing their strength. On a whim he jumped out the window and rolled to a stop on the balcony. It was there that he got to see the outside of the Delacour house for the first time. The Delacours were an old family judging by their home, or at least had plenty of wealth to afford such a place. It was not unlike Ezio's memories of Rome, a bizarre blend of medieval, roman and renaissance architecture. It was like the Roman Villa that had started the building off had been expanded and expanded over the centuries with a chapel in a clear gothic style to the east, while the guest house on the other side of the finely trimmed lawn was pure Enlightenment. The villa itself was white marble and red tiles, set up in a rectangular shape with a square courtyard in the middle. Acting almost on instinct, or at least something derived from his ancestral memory, Harry started climbing the side of the building. Hand over hand, catching foothold after foothold, handhold after handhold, he scaled the roman stoneworks, his fingers finding the most subtle of protrusions until he found himself at the juncture of the wall and roof. Kicking off with his legs, Harry jumped up and backwards, catching the edge of the clay roof before pulling himself up.
An eagle called out as it flew off, disturbed by this new upstart. To Harry, it was like the whole world came into view for the first time. He could see off, far in the distance. The early morning sun bright in his eyes to the east, but he could see every house, every cropfield, every stable. Like a silver ribbon, a curving modern road slithered along the rolling hills, coming close to the edge of the Delacour property, but there was no actual connection to the modern thoroughfare. Hedgerows divided property from property, meters thick barriers of brambles, trees, shrubs and scrub. Squirrels chattered among the trees and shrubs and birds flew in the air.
Harry took it all in: the smell of the air; the sight of the sun glistening off of dewy grass; hearing the birds sing in the morning; feeling the soft breeze across his newly replenished muscles. He stood tall and spread his arms wide like an eagle about to take flight. With a single deep breath, he let himself go, savoring the instant of freefall that made him so enjoy flying on a broom. His body spun in the air as Harry neared the wagon of hay down below so he wouldn't land on his neck.
And then he was tackled in the side.
Dudley had been conditioned to getting up at the crack of dawn while living in the Abstergo complex and even though they were nominally free, the programming remained. So there he was, awake before the sun itself was above the far off eastern horizon. Harry had been asleep for a long while, and he had to admit that he was worried about his cousin. He regretted his childhood actions, and while they were prompted by his father's urging and behavior, they were his own choices. The new memories of his great-grandfather had given him a new perspective. There was this thing they called the Bleeding Effect. From what Dudley understood, it was a blending of the Animus memories and abilities with the person in the Animus. Harry might have gotten magic, but Dudley had gotten an education. He understood things that were alien to him just a few short months before. As it was, in certain fields: ancient history, languages, mathematics and the physical sciences, Dudley could probably have taken his GCSE right then and there. He was still iffy on more recent history, but Dudley could easily read up on that. He had the memories of an adult, something that had profoundly changed the teen. Normally something like this would be "unnatural" and "freakish" to use his parents terms, but Dudley Dursley couldn't deny the truth that he had changed. While his great-grandfather's relationship with his father wasn't great, and his great-grandfather's relationship with his son was non-existent, as far as Dudley could tell (having not had any memories after that point), family was still very important to the man, something Dudley had inherited. The secondary effect was a sort of artificial maturity in his behavior, something that would shock those who knew him before, not to mention his smaller waist size.
So on this bright morning, Dudley went outside to experience the French August breeze. He found himself drawn to the horses, having had many memories of riding them all over the place. Harry also thought that if he tried he could hot-wire a Model A, but there wasn't much way to test it anymore. He pushed these thougts out of his head and enjoyed the morning air.
Until he saw his only remaining family jumping around on the roof of the Delacour Villa.
Rushing forward, he grabbed a length of rope and threw it high, feeling the familiar tug of the rope as he pulled tight around some object. He ran and kicked, timing his jump perfectly to catch his cousin who had taken the opportunity to jump off the third story building, arms spread out like a bird trying to take flight.
The air flew from his lungs as he found himself swinging sideways. His ecstasy of freedom vanished as he tried to reprocess what had just happened. There was a slight impact with the wall before they dropped to the ground.
Glancing around, he realized that Dudley of all people had caught him in mid-flight, assisted by a lasso used as an impromptu whip.
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?" the two bellowed at each other.
"I'm not letting you kill yourself!" Dudley bellowed, his face turning a color known well to those who had offended his father.
"I wasn't killing myself! I was just jumping off the roof!" Harry bellowed back, not quite realizing how that sounded.
"Sounds like killing yourself to me!" Dudley yelled back.
"There was pile of hay! I wasn't in any danger! Why the hell did you tackle me!"
"Oh! Sorry for saving the only family I've got left!" Dudley screamed in righteous fury.
"I was perfectly fine!" Harry bellowed back.
They would have continued, but a perturbed and annoyed Gabrielle Delacour reached out her window from above and poured a silencing potion over their heads, effectively making any other argument moot. The angry part-veela gave them both a glare, said something quite rude in French and pulled the shutters of her window shut with enough force to rattle the glass.
Four hours later at a late brunch, the two young man, now rather grumpy young men glared in silence at each other. Gabrielle, looking like she had just walked out of the best dream ever, looked at the two of them with an impish smile as she stabbed a cherry tomato with a fork and popped it into her mouth. It would be another two hours after that when the potion would wear off. The two boys avoided each other for the rest of the day, Dudley spending time with the Delacours' horses and Harry with Monsieur Delacour in a discussion of magic and politics, however the conversation quickly turned towards the most recent crisis for the Potter boy.
"Harry, are you aware of what is happening in Britain right now?" Monsieur Delacour asked, leaning forward.
"No, other than Voldemort's return," Harry replied, taking a sip of wine.
"The press has... to be honest, the Minister of Britain has taken to vilifying you, painting you as an attention fiend," the older man said. "They have not been kind. Even going so far to call you delusional. You will most likely not be welcomed back with open arms."
"I figured he would do something like this," Harry grumbled. "Fudge is a petty, useless man. His refusal to see the truth will be his undoing."
"He is still politically powerful," Delacour cautioned. "Men like that do not give up power easily."
"I know, in his own way he is little different from Rodrigo Borgia or Robert de Sable," Harry said, his ancestor's memories bleeding in with his own even with his shields in place. "They cling to power even in death, unwilling to give anything up."
"Yes, very much so, but the backers are the problem," Delacour said. "They are the true power, the people who keep their puppet in place."
"Malfoy," Harry hissed lowly.
"Yes, him," Delacour agreed with equal distaste. "He and all his ilk are an embarrassment to the French. We are of the Republic, though the magical side of it. He perverts such things. His family tried similar tactics during the Revolution, but failed. They were cursed, which is why they bare the name of 'Bad Faith.' Strange that so many do not heed the warning."
"Many people only see the gleam of the gold and not of the eyes of the one who holds it," Madame Delacour said as she sat down next to them. "It has always been this way. There are as many fools as there are the wise."
"True, my dear wife," Monsieur Delacour said, kissing his wife's hand. "But this does not make them any less aggravating."
"Then you must grow wiser to deal with them," she said.
"Wouldn't that just mean someone would become more foolish to compensate?" Harry asked quickly, a wry smile on his lips. The couple looked at him before breaking into laughter.
"True, too true," Monsieur Delacour said, holding out his glass for more wine. Their house elf arrived and quickly filled the glass. He took a sip and changed the topic.
"This...Animus was it? Yes, Animus artifact, it is a very powerful item," Delacour said.
"Also very dangerous," Harry replied. "It's hard to remember some times, when it is. Some times I feel like I'm a man from the renaissance, other times I'm trying to find my other pals to go do some Marauding. Then sometimes I'm chewing myself out for some stupid thing I did. The memories overlap, blending and twisting. Sometimes I forget who I am and respond to names other than my own. If Dudley's right, I spent months in that machine. Maybe in short bursts it would be okay. But..." he trailed off, looking the older man in the eyes. "I'm only in the remotest sense sane because of my mother's abilities in occlumency, ironic that the Animus saved me from the same curse it cast on me. If I relax the mental shields the slightest bit, it all floods back in and I can't tell when or where I am. If I was muggleborn I would probably be truly insane."
Monsieur Delacour was a little shocked by the bluntness of the boys estimation of his own sanity. While on one hand he could truly be mad, he was aware of the situation and had partitioned his mind, organized it to keep it in control. But there was one possibility of some assistance.
"Tell me, Mr. Potter, have you ever heard of a Penseive?"
They spent one last night with the Delacours, who had supplied them with quasi-legal portkeys into Britain, specifically 4 Privet Drive. The next morning they both bowed deeply in respect to the older couple and Harry ruffled the hair of the young Gabrielle playfully. She giggled and gave him a hug before giving Dudley one immediately afterward, much to the larger boy's surprise.
"I can't thank you enough," Harry said. "And really, I'm in your debt. Should you need any help in Britain, ever, as and I'll do whatever I can."
"Likewise," Dudley said, shaking Madame Delacour's hand before shaking her husband's. "I might not be magical, but if you need help, call me or call Harry and have him give me a ring."
"It was no problem," Madame Delacour said. "As we said, you saved our dear Gabrielle, it was the least we could do."
"Remember what I said, Harry," Delacour said has he shook Harry's hand. "Malfoy and his kind can only be trusted as long as the rope that hangs them."
"Oh, I won't forget," Harry said. "But I'll do my best to shorten up that rope."
The older man smiled grimly. Harry stepped back, grabbed Dudley by the shoulder and said the command word. An instant later they were at Privet Drive, in Harry's bedroom no less.
Dudley, unaccustomed to magical travel, immediately sat on the bed.
"Don't worry, it'll pass," Harry said.
"Do you get used to it?" Dudley asked, looking a little queasy.
"I haven't," Harry said, leaning up against the doorway, looking slightly green. "Come on, let's go."
Harry bent down and pulled up a floorboard. He pulled his magical gear out of the hole and started shoving it in the trunk.
"That'll be a bit heavy, don't you think?" Dudley asked. Harry looked back up at him with a slight smirk. Dudley rolled his eyes and sighed. "Wizard, right."
"Go get your stuff, we'll put it in here as well," Harry said, organizing the trunk with the precision his mother had been known for. His previous, half serious method had always filled it far too quickly, all his clothes and books in a jumble that slid from side to side. Dudley was there soon, taking only a few things since none of his clothes fit anymore. Dudley, mostly on a whim, went up to the attic, thinking that there might be something that fit him in and amongst the various boxes and such. He knew his parents had stashed a lot of his grandparents stuff here and there, and he hoped that there was something that would fit. It was hard to understand how big one's clothing was until you lost weight. Dudley had gone through his old clothes and realized he could have made a decent sized tent with a few shirts. His father was even bigger than he was, so it was shocking now that he was in a smaller size. In the attic, he pushed boxes aside after quick glances inside. There were boxes and boxes of his mother's old clothes and a few things of his father's back when he was in college. Vernon Dursley had never been a small person, even though he had been thinner when he was younger. Holding up an old Rugby shirt, Dudley realized that his father had been the same size he had been before Abstergo got its paws on his and Harry. He tossed it aside and went through another box. What he found was definitely not what he expected.
The trunk was wooden, with a black, thick paper covering with metal and leather on the corners and edges. A heavy clasp held it together which came apart easily with a pinch and a twist that seemed to come easily to Dudley. The trunk was familiar, but Dudley was sure that he had never seen it before. After a moment, he realized he was having the same kind of temporal displacement that Harry had from time to time, though not as severely. He opened the trunk. Inside were books and photographs, both yellowed with age, stacked in a tray on the first layer of the trunk. It was clear that they had once been neatly organized, but had slid around in the tray. He picked up on and held it up. A woman in conservative 40s style dress stood arm in arm with a tall man with a fedora, a slight smirk and sweat stained shirt half opened, showing the man's chest. She looked familiar, very familiar and it took a while to realize that they must have been his great grandparents. He could see familiar parts in the faces of his grandmother, Vernon's mother. Dudley stroked his jaw, realizing that he had the same as the man in the picture. The woman had his father's eyes, or perhaps he should say that Vernon had hers. He had the same straight hair as the man, parted it in the same place. The picture was browned and yellowed with age,s o he couldn't tell the color, but Dudley suspected that it was the same color as his. He returned the picture to its pile and pulled the tray out of the top of the trunk, carefully setting it aside. Inside were khaki pants; shirts of khaki, white and shades in between; black and brown shoes as well as three pairs of sturdy leather boots, the kind worn by soldiers or heavy laborers in rough terrain; and a leather bag that matched the one the man in the picture was wearing. The bag itself contained several journals and letters that Dudley tucked away for later. He reached down deep into the trunk and pulled out a leather jacket. He held it up to the faint light of the moon filtering through the tiny skylight. Almost on instinct he slid first one arm then the other and pulled it snug across his shoulders. The jacket, old brown leather, slightly stiff with age and disuse, fit over his torso like a second skin that had been missing for years. It needed some oil and some care, but he was willing to put the time in.
He looked at the collection and realized three things were missing, but other than a hat, he couldn't quite grasp the others, just that they were missing. He just knew that you never leave your hat behind. Even if there's a snake.
Why did it always have to be snakes?
Coming to a quick decision, he replaced the clothing inside, replaced the tray and closed the lid. There'd be enough time for the other things later, hopefully. He hefted the trunk by the handles and made his way perilously down the attic steps and into the hallway. He set the heavy case down on the carpet.
The new carpet.
He glanced down the hallway to where he watched his father get shot. Three times in the chest up close. A silencer. Pew! Pew! Pew! Blood was all over the carpet. The brown carpet.
There was a new carpet. White.
The now thin young man glanced around and noticed the other changes. New wallpaper where blood had splattered. Roses instead of stripes. A coat of paint where his mother had slid down the wall. White instead of cream. There probably wasn't even an investigation. If Abstergo was as powerful as he and Harry suspected, they could have easily covered this up. Given his parents a "vacation" and have them disappear or some other scenario. By then the trail would be long since cold. Even the memory of a clue would be fuzzy if it existed at all.
His tears were long since shed. The old Dudley would have never noticed these changes. He grew up quick. He was mature enough now to recognize his faults of his previous existence. Living another man's life had changed him just as it had changed Harry. It wasn't that he was smarter, just more conscious of the need for education and intelligence. He was finally using what he had. And he wasn't satisfied with the world his father wanted him to have.
He understood now that his father was a bully. He also understood that until recently, so was he. Dudley was an expert boxer, but a low performer when it came to academics. He had almost no chance at university. He was set to be a middle manager at another firm, probably the same one his father had spent his entire adult life working for. Dudley looked back at his father's complaints of being passed up for promotion after a certain point. At the time, Dudley couldn't be bothered to care so long as he was still the apple of his father's eye. But he wasn't the same person anymore. He wasn't the spoiled brat that used to go Harry Hunting or beat up younger kids for money. Hell, he wasn't even the guy who escaped Abstergo a week ago.
He scratched his forehead as he glanced at the place where the changes began. The first step from the top, cut cleanly. Everything was planned. And then they wanted the Sankara Stones. He didn't know what for, but he suspected they were up to no good. Luckily for everyone involved, his ancestor came by a plane he wasn't flying himself. They had a few landmarks, but hopefully not enough to find the Stones.
There was nothing he could do about it, so he marched right back to the attic with the intent of closing up. Having pulled his new trunk out of the room, he noticed another stacked deeply underneath three other boxes. It was old, enameled wood with Romanesque leaves and flowers curling along the edges and corners. The latch was old, formerly gold, but the gold flecked off in places, allowing the iron underneath to rust, though not all the way through. The latch was stuck, but he pulled it down stairs anyway and loaded it with his own trunk.
He went into his old room and glanced around. A boxing trophy, a few medals for the same sport, clothing that could now fit two of him, a bunch of broken things. Dudley turned around and closed the door. Walking down the hall, he grabbed pictures of his family, pulling them off the wall and wrapping them in an old shirt. He stacked them atop his trunk, one after another until the walls were bare.
"Dudley," Harry said from the door to his room. "What are you doing?"
"I'm taking them with me," he said, gesturing to the trunk, the box and the framed photographs. Harry looked at his cousin and then down at the huge stack. After a long moment of staring at his cousin, Harry sighed and waved Dudley into his room.
"Come on, there should be enough room in my trunk," the dark haired young man said with an understanding tone. He knew what it was like to lose family. After the photos were packed, they dragged the trunks and box down to the street. Dudley looked to his cousin, then back at the house he grew up in. Harry sighed. "You know we can't stay here."
Dudley paused before replying.
"I know," he said. "But I didn't even have a funeral."
"Neither did I, Dudley," Harry said as he lifted his wand. There was an explosive sound and suddenly, without any exposition or warning, the most hideous bus Dudley had ever had the misfortune of seeing. It was three stories tall, purple, dented and battered with patches where the paint had clearly been scraped off.
"We're riding in this?" Dudley asked in a tone that suggested a mood somewhere between incredulity and horror.
"This is the Knight Bus," Harry explained. "The only easy way to travel if you don't have a Portkey or an apparation license."
"oookaaay," Dudley said, stretching out the word as he glanced at the opening doors with raised eyebrows.
They climbed inside, Stan helping with the gear, and Harry paid for the both of them, splurging for the hot chocolate, tooth brush, and hot water bottle. Dudley held his up with an expression that was perfectly clear: "What the fuck?" Harry just shrugged and explained that this was how it works on the Knight Bus.
"Where to, Harry?" the driver asked. Harry went over the possibilities in his head. The most logical was the Burrow, but he didn't want to intrude.
"Diagon Alley," Harry said. "Or the Cauldron, either one is fine."
"Alright! Leaky Cauldron, next stop!"
Dudley discovered that there were worse experiences with magical travel than the squeezing tube effect of the Portkey. The teen felt like he'd just lost a match against a super-heavy weight champion and then been used as karate master's punching bag before being run over by a zamboni. He was pretty sure that Harry's trunk, having slid free during the trip, was the sharp pain in his spleen, and that the small enameled box was what had forced his neck into such an unnatural position. He wiggled his fingers just to make sure he wasn't paralyzed before extricating himself from the pile of luggage.
"That was..." Dudley trailed off as he tried to figure out exactly what the key word was for the experience.
"Unpleasant?" Harry suggested, lifting Dudley's trunk off his head.
"The Leaky Cauldron!" Stan proudly proclaimed.
"Thank god!" Dudley muttered as he hauled his trunk out the back door. Harry, a little more polite, waved thanks to the keepers of the bus and followed his cousin off.
"Now where is this pub?" Dudley asked. The Leaky Cauldron was invisible to his muggle nature, though being around magic was making it easier and easier for him to get used to the changes it brought. Harry set his hand on his taller cousin's shoulder and suddenly the pub came into view. Once inside they found it strangely quiet. Harry was used to having all eyes on him, but this was different. There was no one there to shake his hand (not that he really wanted the attention), there was no one tipping their hats or greeting him as they usually did. Their eyes followed him and his cousin as the two made their way to the bar. Tom, the creaky landlord of the place, looked like Igor's little brother, freshly out of some mad scientist's lair.
"Hello Tom. What's going on?" Harry asked, nodding to the crowd who was still eying him suspiciously.
"Mind you, I don't believe what the Prophet says, but lots people do," Tom began. "Minister's saying bad things 'bout you an' Dumbledore."
"Yes, I'd been given a heads up, but I wasn't aware that it was this bad, or that people believed the old windbag," Harry replied. "Fudge is an idiot and worse, he's a useless idiot who loves being in Malfoy's pocket."
"Hey! What're you looking at?" Dudley challenged, looking one flamboyantly dressed wizard in the eye. The man and several others nearby tensed up for a moment before packing up their things to leave. "That's right. Cowards."
"Dudley..." Harry chided, not bothering to lower his voice.
"They're scared," Harry said, making sure his voice was heard by everyone in the pub. "Most of them know a mass murder's back and calling up his old minions, but they're too scared to do anything about it. They should know sticking their heads in the sand won't work, but they're doing it anyways."
"Just because you can't see the knife that kills you, doesn't mean it won't kill you," Dudley said.
"Precisely, my point," Harry said. "But taunting them just makes it worse."
They noticed that a few people in the back were looking guilty. Good.
"We've just got some business in the Alley, Tom," Harry said.
The landlord nodded. "You know where it is, Harry."
"I know," Harry said. "The same place it's been for the last five hundred years."
"Not quite five hundred yet," Tom replied with a small smile.
"Right," Harry said. "Not quite."
Dudley easily contained his excitement at the opening of the wall, having memories of more dramatic things happening in an ancestor's memories. As soon as they were through and the wall closed back up, Dudley jabbed a thumb over his shoulder back towards the Cauldron.
"Did you see the menu? It's all soup, all the same bloody thing!" Dudley said. "I half expected a bunch of vikings to show up singing about Spam with all the repetition."
"What Dudley, you don't like a good ole' Soup, soup, soup, spam and soup?" Harry inquired with a raised eyebrow. Dudley paused and looked askance at his cousin.
"...that's not a real meal is it?" he asked after a long pause.
"Here, you never know," Harry said before marching down the street towards Madame Malkin's. He pointedly ignored the looks people were giving him and walked with his head held high. He didn't give off an appearance of arrogance, just self assured nature, as if he was right and nothing was going to dissuade him. Outside the bookstore he paused and smirked, remembering back to before second year. "At least this time I'm not going to be assaulted by fans."
"Was that actually a problem?" Dudley asked.
"I wish it hadn't been," Harry replied as he opened the door to Madame Malkin's.
"Why are we in here?" Dudley asked, dragging the trunk behind him. He glanced about the store and saw nothing but pieces of clothing what looked like dresses crossed with muumuus that then got drunk and knocked up a wardrobe at a Renaissance fair.
"If you're going to blend in, you need to look the part," Harry said.
Dudley pulled back a sleeve of a red-plum thing with more frills than could possibly be necessary. "Do women really wear this stuff?"
"No, actually," Harry said, "Because that's the men's rack."
Dudley quickly let the sleeve drop and took a step back.
"Relax, the clothes are for me, not you," Harry said. "And didn't you say you needed a hat?"
"I'll get it," Dudley said. "I just need to find the right one."
"And I need the right set of robes," Harry said.
"Then you've come to the right place, Mr. Potter," Madame Malkin said with just a hint of a smile playing at her lips. Dudley snorted in amusement at his cousin being called "Mr. Potter" but chose instead to start one of the journals he found in his trunk. The proprietress of the establishment sniffed at him before turning back to Harry. "A little early for your school robes, isn't it Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, but I'm hoping to have them today as well," Harry said. "But I have a special request actually. I need a special set of robes."
March 23, 1941
I am not supposed to be writing right now. Our lights are out in the house, but there is always the possibility that a Nazi will see my candle as I write in the shed out back. London is bombed every night it seems. It's getting to the point where I can almost not remember what it was like to sleep through an entire night without the air raid sirens blaring, sending us up from our beds in a flurry of commotion as we try to fit into the tiny shed.
Well, Father and George are in the army now, gone somewhere for King and Country, and mother is in the hospital. They think it's cancer. It's just me now in the house. [There was something more written here, but it was scribbled out. Dudley tried to figure out what it said, but it was too scrambled.]
I am taking the suggestion of Mrs. Miller down the street and planting a few seeds in the windows. I hope it is warm enough for them to sprout and hopefully it will be a good summer. We need all the food we can get now. Nearly everyone else is doing the same.
March 30, 1941
The seeds have germinated. Mrs. Miller says they are a type of summer squash called zukini. I think that is how it is spelled. She said that a single plant can produce quite a few squash, but I'plan to plant five such plants just to be sure. I can trade the extras with my neighbors and even give some to the nurses at Mother's hospital. I purchased some tomatoes and will do the same.
I checked the potatoes from last year. Their eyes are sprouting and I don't see any mold, so they should be safe for planting another year. I hope Mother isn't too upset about my adjustments to her gardens. She is so proud of them.
3 April, 1941
A man came to the house looking for Father. He was tall, perhaps in his thirties or early forties and quite handsome. An American, the first one I've met, though many of the girls say we'll be meeting more soon enough. He wanted to know about Father's work in Italy after the last war. I told him that I would look into it and get back to him. He smiled and handed me a card.
Doctor Henry Jones Jr. PhD
I found father's notes on the Roman and Etruscan digs, as well as my own when I assisted him. I might give this Dr. Jones a call.
"So," Harry said. "What do you think?"
Dudley looked up to see his cousin dressed in a rather strange outfit. While it could still be considered to be robes, it was unlike any of the others. It was white, first of all, with accents of red inside the hood, thin strips on each shoulder and on the barest edge of the torso which was mostly covered up by a wide leather belt that was almost large enough to qualify for a Classical girdle. The hood was peaked, like the beak of a raptor and seemed to stay in place no matter how Harry moved his head. The teen's face was in shadow save for the lowest part along his mouth and served to give him an almost faceless identity. The robes were cut off at the shoulders, allowing Harry's arms freedom with the white shirt he wore under the robes visible from shoulder to wrist. The lowest part of the robes were just above the knees and sharpened into points that gave the impression of grasping claws. His pants were black and fitted into leather boots the color of English muck. The final effect was taking Renaissance styles, tweaking them a bit and cranking up the awesome.
"Those are..." Dudley wanted to make some snide comment, but he trailed off, and went with the rather rare choice for Dudley, an honest opinion. "Those are pretty fucking badass."
"Why thank you, Dudley," Harry replied, the corner of his mouth quirking up. "It gets better."
Harry muttered something under his breath and the robes shifted into a hoody vest and denim jeans with a pair of sturdy work boots.
"Damn," Dudley said. "Talk about useful."
"I think I'll blend in well," Harry said, plucking at the sleeves of his shirt. He said a few more words and was suddenly in the original robe form. He looked to Madame Malkin who was looking over him apraisingly. "I'll take three more sets. Different colors though instead of white. I'm thinking black, green, red and...blue."
"I'll have them for you soon," she replied. "You can pick them up in a few hours with your school robes."
"Thank you, should I pay now?" Harry asked.
"Mr. Potter," she said sternly, making him feel like a very small child. "Every Potter who has ever ordered from me has always paid their bills on delivery, I won't change the rules just because the Minister is an idiot."
"Thank you, Madame," Harry said, giving her a gracious little bow. Both she and Dudley rolled their eyes at the display. Her eyes flicked to Dudley, looking him up and down.
"You said you were looking for a hat?" she asked.
The formerly large boy perked up at that. "Yes?"
"We have quite a selection, if you'd like to peruse them," she prompted. "I do sell more than just robes, after all."
Dudley glanced at his cousin. Harry laughed a little and nodded for him to go.
"I need to go to the bank," Harry said. "Pick out what you want, I'll be back with a bag of gold."
"This gold isn't going to talk, or spit at me or sprout feet and run around, is it?" Dudley asked, only half joking.
"I certainly hope not," Harry said. "I was planning on spending it."
The dark haired boy gave his cousin a nod and slipped out the door, almost instantly blending in with the crowd. Harry noticed immediately the change in behavior around him. They didn't recognize him any more. There weren't any looks in his direction, positive or negative. He kept his head tucked down slightly and his hands together in front of him as he noticed a familiar blond man walk out of a certain side alley. Lucius Malfoy walked within a foot of him and the man never even noticed.
The temptation for an assassination was so strong. He remembered the graveyard. Those faces half hidden in the mist even after Voldemort pulled their masks off. But Harry knew there was no direct exit right now. He needed to learn the layout better. This was, after all, only one in a handful of visits to the Alley that he could remember and most of those visits he had been too distracted to focus on the layout.
Most students by his age would have probably made many such trips, even if they didn't come to buy anything. Harry had only his parents knowledge of the Alley. It was ironic that Voldemort's knowledge, when Harry felt confident enough to go through those memories, had few experiences with the Alley until he was out of school, even less than Harry himself, in fact.
Harry kept going, making sure to blend with the crowd. He slipped behind group and switched often, moving closer and closer to the Bank. About half way there he got the whim to try to truly see them. He concentrated on his memories of Ezio, of the knowledge he possessed. He could feel it happening. One moment there was the bustle of the crowd and everyone moving, the next, he was seeing everything and more. The majority of people sort of bled into the background as unimportant. Lucius, making his way down towards the Ministry, glowed a bright blood red as did the three men who walked vaguely in the same direction. He could see beyond them, a flash of gold, but he couldn't make out who it was. Occasionally through the crowd certain people seemed a brighter blue.
He took note of their appearance and relaxed his vision. Pulling his cloak over his shoulder, he started blending with the crowd once more and before long he was in the bank. He waited patiently for an opening, choosing not to stand out until he swooped in to an open space.
"Hello, good sir goblin," Harry said, setting his key on the desk. "I would like to visit my vault, if it isn't any inconvenience."
The goblin paused, looked at the key and then up into the hood. He sighed. "Very well, Mr. Potter."
One exhilarating trip later, he had his bag of gold. He slipped one to the goblin and went along his way, carefully tucking the bag into a pocket inside his new robes. He wove through the crowds, only noticing a suddenly familiar, if older, face making a sharp turn into Knocturn Alley. It took Harry a moment to realize whose memories he had.
Then he remembered. Yaxley.
The Death Eater had never even been accused after the last war according to some research he had done while recuperating at the Delacour Villa. The man was not one to show up in the grave yard, but Harry knew exactly who he was. When his mother was fifteen, the man had cursed her when she went down the wrong alley. He only got one spell off, Alice and Frank showed up just in time to save her, but the man was gone. His mother hadn't been able to give a positive ID. Harry, on the other hand, had another source of information.
The thoughts and memories were greatly cut off due to his careful compartmentalization of his mind and those others, but one set continued to bleed through. He would see someone, but it would be them twenty years younger or more. He knew the entire inner circle by sight. He knew their names. He knew their vault numbers, their siblings, their children if they had them then and their place of residence at the time. Harry was willing to bet that aside from the children, and knowing how stagnant Wizarding society had become, that almost all addresses were still current.
Harry felt the same impulse that he had forced down when Lucius walked by him earlier, but this time he gave in. He walked into the alley after the Ministry Death Eater. He blended with the crowds, people seeming to not notice the man dressed in bright white and red in the middle of a crowd where everyone wore black or brown. He kept his head low to disguise his face, but high enough to keep an eye on the target.
With our inherent poor night vision, we humans have an instinctive fear of the dark. In poor light branches turn into clawed arms; a settling of a house turns into a monster in the hall. The fear is natural and eventually as we grow older, we learn to cope with it. But Knocturn Alley was aptly named. Where as Diagon was open to the sky, Knocturn had been built upon and those buildings built upon and those built upon until the actual street was more of a tunnel. Only the barest of slivers actually separated one side of the alley from the other. Light filtered through, but it was diffuse, weak. The smells and sounds of the alley seemed so much louder, darker, more twisted, as they do in darkness to humans. Witches turn into Hags. Wizards into Warlocks. What would be a grandmotherly chuckle in Diagon, is transformed, warped into a fiendish cackle. This fear allowed Knocturn to protect its interests. It wielded its fear through the Wizarding World like a scythe in a wheat field.
Eagles have always flown above the fields, watching their prey from the sky with eyes that can see a fish under the water, a rabbit hidden amongst swaths of wheat.
Eventually the alley opened up a bit. Acting on a whim, Harry jumped and caught a hold of a windowsill on the second floor. With a deep breath, he pulled himself up and caught the next handhold. Soon he was stealthily striding across the roof, his prey caught below him. The alley took a sharp right turn and in those shadows, secluded from the others, Harry flew from above, striking his prey like an eagle snatching a fish from the water. Yaxley collapsed, the wind out of his lungs as his mind struggled to keep up. He was dragged into a dark, deserted corner and beaten. The blows came one after another after another. His wand flew from his grasp as he feebly tried to cast a spell. He felt his left scapula shatter under the impact of a boot. His clavicle followed along with his arms, knees and legs. His assailant spread his fingers on the ground and mercilessly stomped on them, breaking ever bone up to his elbow.
Unfortunately for him, screams aren't that uncommon in Knockturn Alley.
The hooded man in white never struck his jaw, never punched him in the crotch, but every extremity other than his head was broken almost beyond recognition. Eventually the hardened Death Eater, the torturer, the murder, could do nothing but sob helplessly. Tears streamed down his face.
"Why?" he asked. "Why?"
"You cursed my mother, Yaxley," Harry said, holding Yaxley's head up by his receding hair. All the man could see was a white hood gleaming in the moonlight with darkness within. Harry began again, but his voice was not his own; Ezio spoke through him, the assassin's Italian accent thick, but clear. "I cannot forget that. One day I will return for you. I will come for you and all your friends. The snake in the grass cannot escape the eagle on the wing."
"Why?" Yaxley sobbed. "Why let me live?"
"My name is Ezio Auditore da Firenze," Harry whispered in the man's ear. "Your master killed my father. He should prepare to die. Tell him Aquila comes for him. Tell him that soon he will rest in peace."
He stood up, his face still hidden in shadows while his eagle peaked hood shown bright in the slivers of light filtering down between the overcrowded street.
"Just remember, Yaxley," the man said, looking down at him. "Nothing is true, but everything in permitted."
Yaxley blinked, and the man was gone.
Harry took a deep breath as he fled the scene. He didn't think he had it in him. He knew that he could kill if he had to, but there was no reason for that. He had just brutalized a man for...for a good reason. Harry, high above the street, sat down on the roof to catch his breath. Voldemort had held the fear for too long.
Harry had the inspiration then. He couldn't go back to who he was before. He was complacent, unmotivated. He had to stop them. They had taken too many lives and escaped without even a slap on the wrist. And now Voldemort was back to lead them.
'I called myself Aquila,' Harry thought to himself as he looked across the London skyline. Big Ben tolled the hour as he watched. 'The Eagle.'
He thought about it. Eagle was a perfectly good cover for him. They would naturally suspect a Ravenclaw, although why they were called "Eagles" and not "Ravens" was beyond him. While it showed courage, he'd been obtuse, unclear in his meanings and words. He used imagery easily mistaken for Hogwarts houses.
He had just declared war against Voldemort.
No, he hadn't.
A man who was dead for nearly five hundred years had just declared war on the Death Eaters.
Harry couldn't help himself but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. It was moments like these, when his emotions shifted like waves on the shore and he found humor in the darkest corners of reality. What was reality but one's subjective view of the world?
He climbed to his feet. Dudley was probably waiting for him at Madame Malkins. I wonder if she managed to talk him into a set of robes,' Harry mused as he dropped to street level in a shadowy corner near the shop. Once more he blended into the crowd, only stepping out when they reached the doorway.
"How is everything?" he asked. Madame Malkin looked up from her work, and nodded to a back room.
"I think your cousin underestimated the size of my stock of hats," she said with a wry smile. Harry smiled to the older woman and slipped into the room where Dudley was up to his waist in hats.
"Having trouble deciding?" Harry asked.
"I know I said I wanted a hat, but this is excessive," Dudley said, gesturing to the piles around him. "And they're all hundreds of years older than what I'm looking for."
"And yet, I bet they are the latest fashions in the wizarding world," Harry commented dryly. Harry picked up a bright purple hat with a stuffed white ferret on it. "How 'bout this one?"
Dudley just looked at his cousin like he was insane.
"Actually, I'm going to get this just for the ferret," Harry said with a bemused smile.
"Do you know anywhere I could find a bullwhip in this place?" Dudley asked.
"No, but we can ask Madame Malkin," Harry said. "Why a bullwhip?"
"You have a wand as a signature tool," Dudley said. "My ancestor used a bullwhip and a pistol. I figured I'd go with the one that's less likely to get me in trouble with the law."
"Fair enough," Harry replied. "Maybe you need a specially made hat?"
"I'm thinking so," Dudley replied
They walked to the door where Madame Malkin was working on the last of Harry's outfits. "Find something you like?"
"Yes, I'll be taking this," Harry said, holding up the purple ferret hat. "Dudley needs a more specific hat. Do you make those, or outsource?"
"My assistant is better at it than me, but we might be able to work something out," the woman said, as she tied off the last thread in Harry's blue outfit. She held it up. "There you go."
Harry gave her a little bow in thanks. With a smirk, the woman waved her wand and the robes folded themselves into neat little parcels that then tied themselves up. Harry tucked them quickly into his trunk as Madame Malkin started getting dimensions and descriptions of Dudley's fedora. She started waving her wand, summoning up an illusion of the hat, changing it in real time as Dudley describe it further. The brim bent a certain way, the color changed slightly. The indentations on the top changed. Dudley didn't want it new. He wanted older, wore, but still stable. He wanted it familiar. He gave more and more suggestions until the result was a fedora, a dark brown with a slightly lighter ribbon along the brim. It was taller than most of its kind, but not by much, with a wide brim that kept the face partially hidden in shadows, allowing rain and other falling liquids to slide away from his face and ears, dripping either forward of back. It seemed to fit perfectly with his jacket for some reason.
"Perfect," Dudley said with reverence. It took less than five minutes for the woman to force the felt and leather into the shape he wanted. She nodded when she was done and motioned for him to try it on. "Could you make it...I don't know, a little less firm? Malleable? But able to pop back into the right shape?"
"Easily," she said. Madame Malkin was, after all, the undisputed master of her craft. A flick off her wand later, the fedora was exactly as requested.
"Now," Harry said with a smile. "How much?"
They were back on the street again, this time coming out of another shop.
"Why do they have an entire shop dedicated to the care of gigantic predators that aren't even common in this country?" Dudley asked.
"Dudley," Harry said slowly. "I supposedly live in this culture and I don't understand it. But you got your whip."
"True, but a dragon hide dragonwhip was not what I was expecting," Dudley said, straightening his hat on his head.
"Where to next?" Harry said. "Might as well go back to Gringott's."
"The bank," Harry explained. "Either that or call up somebody on the Floo, but I don't want to impose on anyone."
"We do need a place to stay," Dudley reminded him.
"I'm seriously considering buying a flat for a safehouse," Harry said.
"You've got that much?"
Harry nodded as they walked. "And more. My parents left me plenty."
Dudley was silent for a moment. "And so did mine."
"Oh, sorry," Harry said.
"No," Dudley said, holding up a hand to stop him. "I need to get used to it." He clenched his fists. "It's just...no funeral. No graves. Only a few pictures to remember them by."
"I know how it feels," Harry said.
Dudley was silent for a moment.
"I'm not sure I can be Dudley Dursley any more."
Before Harry could say anything more, his cousin turned and started dragging his trunk back towards the Cauldron.
"Harry pulled his head out of the green flames. "No one at the Burrow," he muttered. "I guess we'll take rooms if you've got 'em, Tom."
The landlord nodded and handed them two keys. "Adjorning rooms, right up those stairs."
Harry and Dudley trudged up the stairs, hauling the trunks with them. You couldn't say they weren't getting their exercise. They opened the door to the first room.
"This is the room?" Dudley asked. "It looks like it was-"
"Dudley," Harry said in a cautious tone. "Don't insult the room."
"The room? But it looks-"
"-Perfectly fine!" Harry said in faux cheer. He shot a warning look at his cousin and nodded to the room. He leaned in close and hissed. "Don't insult the room. You'll never hear the end of it."
"You mean like mirror, mirror-"
"Yes, precisely! Don't insult the room!" Harry cautioned once more. "Just go in, be polite and go to sleep."
Dudley rolled his eyes but did as he was bid. He leaned back on the ancient, worn mattress that looked like it was as old as the Leaky Cauldron itself. He closed his eyes and then he was someone else.
He was running. The boulder had just crashed out of the wall behind the idol stand and it was like the entire temple had awoken with the express intent to kill him. Poison darts flying out of walls, giant boulders trying to crush him into paste.
He came out of the stone passageway only to find a gigantic chasm much wider than he could walk. He glanced down and gulped as the depths were hidden deep in shadow, much farther than he could see. Reaching into a pocket, he grabbed a handful of some white substance and revealed the invisible passage. Gathering up his courage, he walked out across the walkway, keeping faith that it existed.
He saw the Ibex across the field. He could hear the hunters lift their rifles and aim. He watched the rare beasts fall one by one. In a fit of courage and pain at the loss of such animals, he pushed the former president's gun away.
"That's enough! No more! You don't need any more!"
Teddy Roosevelt looked down at him, a little angry at first, but that quickly shifted to a more grandfatherly expression.
"Right," the former president said. "That's enough. Especially with only so few of them."
He was teaching a class. He blathered on about some anthropologist or other, some process that needed to be taken, but he kept getting distracted. The pretty girl in the front row, who he knew was WAY too young for him, kept blinking. Something was written on her eyelids. He stretched forward to get a better read, but the bell rang, signaling the end of class. He told them something about what to read for next time.
Inside he kept hoping for something more interesting to happen.
"Once again Dr. Jones," said the smarmy man in the white hat, "we see that there is nothing you can possess, that I cannot take away."
"Belloq!" he swore as the man took the idol away with his native friends keeping oh so dangerous bows aimed at his head.
A room away, Harry was having a similar experience, though not nearly so sane. Harry had too many people in his head. At times he was his mother, playing with a familiar looking boy she called Sev. Other times he was his father, messing around with the Marauders and doing their thing. Then he was Ezio, fighting hand to hand against a Pope, which was, ironically, one of the most strange memories he experienced. At other times he was another ancestor, Altaiir, an assassin during the Crusades. He saw fights during the wars, during the uprisings in Italy during the 15th and early 16th centuries; the crusades from a near native and from a Templar invader; the battles with Voldemort, who took sadistic pleasure in forcing muggles into human shields.
Twice this worked at keeping his mother from killing the scaly bastard. She was close, oh so close, but the piece of shit imperioed some poor woman or child or man and had them attack her physically. The second time it had taken an apparation just to escape as she wouldn't allow herself to curse innocents, no matter what they were doing to her.
And then he had his memories of gleefully sending the innocents at his mother. Voldemorts memories were infrequent, but they were stark, unnatural, and so different, so inhuman, that they stood out blatantly from the others. They were sharp like broken glass against his mind. When he was awake, they could be blocked. Occlumency allowed him to filter them, to partition those memories from his waking mind.
Every time he remembered killing his own parents and then casting a killing curse at his own infant form, Harry awoke in a cold sweat. He heaved, spilling the contents of his stomach into the nearby bin. That was the first time that night. That memory was particularly tenacious and popped up several times a night.
Harry was getting better at separating them when he was awake, but that all failed when he was asleep. The memories blended with dreams, experiences with experiences, his own and others, until their juxtaposition was an illusion and sanity a memory. It was getting harder and harder for him to filter them out and nights like this only made it worse.
Author's explanation: This was a great idea. In fact, I thought it was such a great idea that I wrote almost thirty pages on it. Unfortunately, I had too many ideas, and too few hours of time I could dedicate to this. I think someday I might come back ot this idea since a Harry Potter/Assassin's Creed/Indiana Jones idea seems to work so well and yet is so unusual. But I just don't have time to dedicate to another story on the same epic scope as some of my others. So, someday, somehow, this might get some more, but for now it's just a very long false start.
I really like the Assassin's Creed universe. It has a richness that seems to both fit in the real world and stand apart at the same time. I tried to blend it with Harry Potter and that worked pretty well and then Indiana Jones just kind of slipped in there somehow. It was going to progress quite differently than much of my other works with Dudley and Fleur (strange pairing, I know, one I'm sure isn't used much) fighting Abstergo, while Harry lives a double life as Aquila fighting the Death Eaters. Blaise Zabini was planned to have been part of the remaining Pazzi family and would cut off his connections to Death Eater families since they had long memories of what Assassin's could do if left to their own devices. I wasn't sure about how relationships for Harry would progress, except that he would abruptly start shifting personality, forgetting who he was at times. I'd planned to have him, using James Potter's experiences to interrogate Sirius and Remus, but as you can see, that never happened.
I don't own Harry Potter, Assassin's Creed or Indiana Jones.