And the Dead Live
*** Sorry about the slight delay. I was helping herd a clowder (look it up, I had to) from Orlando to Tampa. We lost a few in the Serengeti, but gained a few while going through Nepal and crossing the Appalachian Mountains.
"Yecchh. I think I got the wet spot," complained the Overlord as he withdrew from between the thighs of Gwenog Jones and rolled over onto his back.
Gwenog gave a tired chuckle. "I think the entire bed is a wet spot, master."
"Don't forget the carpet … or the chair cushions."
"I've got to hand it to you … most guys never even got past the chasers at one go," Gwenog complimented as she morphed back into Tonks.
Harry merely pretended to buff his nails against his bare chest. "What can I say? They lacked the Overlord Mojo." Rolling onto his side to face Tonks, Harry tried to ignore the damp sheets. "And I have to hand it to you; that was definitely an experience. I never would have guessed that Gwenog was a grunter. Or Cassidy a screamer with a foul mouth!"
Tonks laughed lightly. "Admit it … your favorite was the lesbian seeker who hated herself for falling for a man!"
Harry returned her laugh. "Okay. You really got me with that one. Are they really like that?"
"How in Merlin's name would I know?" she asked while rolling her eyes. "I just follow the first rule of Auror Infiltration training: give each disguise a completely different set of characteristics or personality from your own."
"Makes sense. I must admit to some curiosity about the 'real' you, however."
"Hecate hump her hands! You're a talker! Why can't you be a civilized male and just belch and then roll over and fall asleep after sex?"
Harry chuckled. "I'm the Overlord. Me and civilized don't mesh too well."
Tonks gave an exaggerated sigh. "Fine. What do yah wanna know?"
"What was up with your response to the 'true form' request?"
"Well … I thought it was funny. And he's my favorite actor."
"You know what I mean."
Crossing her arms under her breasts, Tonks began to flex her arms in a playful attempt to distract her master.
"Please continue that. I'm quite capable of listening while watching, though."
"Okay, okay. I just hated all those emo-douchebags I've encountered. Trying to get into my knickers by pulling out an 'I'm sensitive' act and saying things like 'Ooo, I'm only interested in the real you' amidst a bunch of cheese, whine, and poetry … I mean if yah wanna shag me, just charge in bollocks first and say so!"
Harry shook his head in confusion. "Hokay … but if you're not into sensitive, that kind'a begs the question: How did you and Remus end up hooking up?"
Tonks groaned and placed her hands over her face. "Crap. I knew this was gonna end up there."
"Hey, you're blocking the view!"
"Whoops. Sorry, master." Tonks quickly returned her arms to her previous actions.
"Much better. Pray continue."
"Wellllll … oh! Do you like movie stars? I've got a few actresses I'm really good at! My Halle Berry is enough to make even a die-hard racist an equal rights activist!"
"No more stalling. But … we'll definitely try that later. I'm not Ron."
"Yeah, that prat was racism personified. He used to say that he'd 'do' all of the Flying Foxes except for Angelina. And she's a freaking wildcat in the sack!" Glancing upwards, Harry smiled. "Thank you, Luna!"
"Fine!" Tonks harumphed. "Yeah, Remus wasn't really my type, but I was curious, yah know?"
"No, I don't. Curious about what?"
"A girl hears rumours, yah know? Animal stamina … a savage in bed … that kind'a thing. And he had the professor vibe workin' for him, too. Figured he might be a fun shag."
Harry's brow furrowed in puzzlement. "That doesn't sound like a sterling endorsement for marriage."
"It's not. But there's a rather shocking omission in DADA class: The Potion doesn't work against werewolves."
Harry wasn't an idiot … though he did play one around Hermione. "Teddy was an accident?"
Tonks blushed. "'Fraid so. I think I might have wanted a kid someday … but I was just a kid myself, then! One with a great career ahead of her. The rug-wolf put paid to that."
"I … I had no idea. Well, why didn't you … you know." Harry held his hand above his genitals, bent his wrist, and started making strange grabbing motions.
"Rub one out for him instead? I should've."
"No, no. I meant … end … the pregnancy."
Tonks shook her head. "I'm passing familiar with the muggle world, but that's just not done in the magical one. Unless it's a squib, of course … and you have enough money to get away with it."
Harry shook his head as he rolled over onto his back. "Tower's Heart! Was anything I thought I knew about anyone true?"
"Most likely not, master. One of the priorities was keeping you in the dark about … well, a lotta stuff. Sorry."
"Still, why marry someone over an 'accident'?"
Tonks sighed. "I was carrying a werewolf's kid. Not a lotta options after that. That's why I asked Remus to make you Teddy's godfather. Having the godson of the Boy-Who-Died-Saving-Us might've reopened some of those closed doors."
"Bloody hell. Another title. Did they get me a statue, too?"
"Dunno. I was dead before then, remember? I'm not certain of the title, but that was the leading choice Dumbledore was thinking of using in the eulogy."
"Great. Just … great. I'm sure in his notes he even marked down when to let a single tear fall."
Tonks was about to respond but thought better of it. Instead, she just increased the speed of the flexing of her arms.
Opening the door, Luna swept into the room. "Knock, knock."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Come in Luna."
Stepping onto a wet spot on the carpet, Luna lifted her bare foot and looked at it curiously. "Are you decent?"
The Overlord chuckled. "I haven't been accused of that in years."
"Oh, okay. I just wanted to let you know that Fay had the solution to your little problem. And Hermione's been reading up on everything she can about the area." Standing in place, she started bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet and enjoying the squishing sound she was making.
"That's great!" Harry allowed himself a dark chuckle. "Looks like I won't have to cancel dinner tomorrow after all."
The three of them talked for a bit. Harry knew from the start that Luna was actually fishing for an invitation to join them. He took a bit of perverse joy from pretending to be oblivious … much as he did in playing the idiot around Hermione.
The Elven Queen's answer to the problem was a bit of magic from the Overworld. One would take a small chunk of the arcuate fasciculus from the brain of a being who spoke the language and keep it under the tongue after a small ritual was performed. It allowed the elves to speak the language of lesser creatures (which for the elves basically covered every other creature) without having to actually learn the language. Harry had no idea what an arcuate fasciculus was, but figured after eating a heart or two from fallen foes that it couldn't be too bad.
Her attention span being exceeded, Luna finally wandered off and the Overlord chuckled and settled back down next to Tonks in his bed.
Before eventually drifting off to sleep, Harry smiled and rolled over to say a few words to Tonks. "If you ever find me acting like one of those 'emo-douchebags' you're so fond of, feel free to slap me. But not if Hermione's around. I find there's no telling whether she's gonna jump left or right."
"Sure thing, Boss."
After a morning quickie with his favorite metamorph, the Overlord decided to check in on his favorite mad scientists. Well … the two with breasts.
Idly wandering thru his dungeons, Harry kept an eye out for Luna and Hermione but stopped to chat with a few of the more cognizant residents. One young man actually had the audacity to spit at his face. The fellow – whose name Harry couldn't recall – smiled and attempted to display his razor sharp wit. "You've got something on your face," he smirked.
Harry merely smiled back before his fist shot through the bars of the cell. The punch broke the youth's nose and he flew backwards, blood gushing down his face.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "So do you. What a coincidence. I'll have Gnarl look up any surviving family you might have. Then … they won't be." With a small wave goodbye, Harry continued his stroll deeper into the dungeon.
Keeping a mental checklist in his head (… keeper, keeper, mines, scullery, mines, troop whore, keeper...) as he passed other prisoners, Harry continued to meander about until he heard moans punctuated by screams that stood out even among the others heard in various areas of the dungeons. Crap! Is someone playing with the Device of Infinite Suffering again? he wondered. Even if Luna and Hermione weren't involved, it promised at least some amusement.
Following the screams, Harry entered a large, repurposed torture chamber and found the two he sought. Surprisingly, the resurrected Bellatrix Lestrange was with them. Unlike them, however, Voldemort's right hand psycho-killer was currently suspended in the air, spread-eagle, face down, and around four feet above the floor. Her nude body was covered in sweat.
Aside from one of the people present having been recently brought back from the dead, this wasn't that unusual a sight in his dungeons. The added hint of surreality was caused by his two Hogwart's alumni.
A barefoot Luna was carefully balancing herself on Bella's slick shoulder blades. The tip of her tongue sticking out of one side of her mouth, there was a frightening look of determination in her eyes. Huge metallic gauntlets out of some steam-punk nightmare encased her small hands and she currently had in a two-handed grip one end of a strange, translucent, gelatinous … goo … connected to the junction of Bella's spine and skull. A sharp tug stretched the goo-stuff thinner as Luna leaned back and Bellatrix raised her head and screamed in torment.
Hermione stood before the suspended woman with a clipboard and quill in her hands. "Did that time hurt more … or less? How would you rate it on a scale from one to ten? Remember, this is for posterity."
Hermione nodded and jotted down a quick note. "Interesting."
Harry ignored Bella's continued screaming as Luna tugged a few more times. Finally, he couldn't contain his curiosity any longer. "What in Merlin's name is going on here?"
"What?" asked Luna looking up. "Harry? What do you – WOAH!" she yelled as she lost her footing on Bellatrix's slick shoulders. There was a loud snapping noise as the goo separated from Bella and Luna tumbled backwards. The strange gelatinous mass went flying from Luna's hands and flew, stretched, and wobbled through the air.
As the anchor point of the goo had parted from her body, Bellatrix went silent in mid scream. Her entire body suddenly went limp as if she were a puppet whose strings had just been cut. The Overlord, with reflexes discovered on a quidditch field and honed on the battlefield, snatched the flying mass from the air as the gem on his armband glowed a strange shade of amber.
"Sorry 'bout that. Slippery little sucker," grinned Luna from the floor.
Harry shrugged. "It happens all the time. NOT! Now what the hell is this thing?" Carefully, Harry poured the amorphous glob from one hand to the other like a strange mixture of melted silly putty, snot, oysters, and a slinky.
Hermione looked up from her notes. "We believe it to be her soul."
Harry peered at the mess and raised an eyebrow. "It sure doesn't look like any soul I've ever held before."
Getting up, Luna brushed off the back of her robes. "We haven't worked out all the kinks yet. It's an experiment in progress."
Harry continued to pour the mass from one hand to the other. "So … you asked me to return the soul to Bella's body just so you could try to take it from her again?"
"Yep. We'll understand the end results better if we have some kind of idea of what the person was like before we started."
Harry frowned in confusion. "And exactly what are you starting?"
This time Hermione answered. "We're trying to come up with ways to help you improve your ability to manipulate souls. Before we can do that, we have to come up with some idea of how your power works. Hence," she continued while waving her quill toward the suspended sack of flesh, "our experiment utilizing Bellatrix. We've based the work on your spellstones, but it doesn't seem to work as well for non-Overlords … even with substantial tweaking."
"Oh. Hookay." Whatever, shrugged Harry. "Now what?"
In lieu of a response, Hermione walked over to a cluttered table and returned with a glass case almost completely covered in runic etchings. "If you would … pour that into here. This should hold the soul safely until we can get it to that soul chamber you told us about. The one that you and Gnarl used in regards to your memories."
"And then what?" asked Harry as he poured the soul into the box.
"Then, we begin Phase II!" piped in Luna.
Harry sighed. "I really don't wanna know. Just … don't blow up my tower."
"Don't worry, Harry. The odds are definitely against something like that happening," Hermione reassured him.
Harry merely sighed again.
Walking over to stand before Bellatrix's head, Harry asked, "Is she dead?" Grabbing a handful of hair, Harry raised her head to check on her. Glassy eyes stared blankly forward and Bella's mouth sagged wide open with a trail of saliva dripping to the floor of the chamber.
Distracted, Luna glanced up while carefully trying to remove her gauntlets. "What? Oh, no. Right now, she's pretty much akin to the victim of a Dementor's kiss. I'm certain that the minions can keep her body fed and watered until we're ready for Phase III."
"What is … forget it. I don't want to know. So are you just going to leave her here in the meantime?"
"Well, she did fill back out between her escape from Azkaban and her death. I intended to ask you if you wanted to store her in your chambers and keep her as a body-pillow or something."
Caught by surprise, Harry waited until the shock of Hermione's statement faded. Somehow it wouldn't have been nearly as surprising if it had come from Luna. Curious, he raised Bella's head higher and examined her face again. Her current position also gave him a good view down the front of her body. She was definitely no longer the haggard prison escapee, he noted. "That idea is absolutely disgusting! But, somehow, also strangely arousing." Ultimately, Harry shrugged. "Why not? I'll give it a chance."
Putting the glass case down, Hermione nodded and made another note on her clipboard. "I'll have her cleaned up, cut down, and everything taken care of before tonight. Was there anything you needed us for?"
"What? Oh, yeah! I just wanted to let you know that I was going to head over to Earth in a bit. I have that dinner to go to and then … I think that it's time for Albus to get another gift. And I think I'll probably need one of those dam runic stones you were telling me about. This one's likely to tick Albus off."
Hermione examined the huge globe before her. Scaffolding had already been placed around the sphere by the minions for her and Luna's convenience. Once Hermione and Luna had transferred the probable ectoplasmic soul-essence from the case to the soul chamber, it had expanded much as actual souls were reported to do. "At the very least, it shows some of the characteristics of a soul."
"Well, remember that the subject is completely insane. That might have some bearing on the coloring and consistency of a soul. We'll have to make a few attempts on some additional prisoners to make certain that it's not our extraction procedure." Tapping her chin in thought, Luna continued. "Probably from both worlds. It might be that there's a difference in the souls from Earth and souls from the Overworld. That might explain the difficulty we had with the process as well."
Hermione merely nodded in acknowledgment while making a note to remind her to work on setting up control groups and the like.
It never once occurred to the young woman that - not too long ago - she would have found everything about this completely abhorrent. Now, this was being done to help her Harry, her master, and absolutely nothing would stand in the way of her doing so.
"I'll have a minion fetch a prisoner to try your protective helmet on. We don't want to fry our brains like that poor construction worker did."
Luna waved dismissively. "I already checked it while you were working on the rune scalpels."
"How did you do that?"
"I put it on and stuck my head in there. It tingles, but seems to work fine."
Hermione stared at the puzzled, unblinking blond. Finally, she merely sighed in resignation and looked away. "Nothing. Here's your scalpel. Just give me the other helmet so we can get started."
Luna took the painstakingly enchanted blade with a Mona Lisa smile on her face. Hermione should know better than to enter a staring contest with her. Only Hedwig had ever come close. The avian Hedwig ... not the unicorn. The unicorn was a pushover.
Once both women had clambered onto the scaffolding, they both stuck their heads into the sphere and set to work. Last night, they had discussed this phase while Harry had been with Tonks.
Hermione was the first to find her section. "Found it! Memories with Voldemort."
"Toss it. But save her combat skill, killings, and use of torture. Those will be needed. Ooo! Even better! See if you can graft Harry over Voldemort in those!"
Hermione carefully started excising the unwanted data and started working out the replacement procedure.
"I've got her knowledge of sex," came from Luna.
"Keep it. Definitely. Hmm. I'm going to remove most of her childhood, but what do you think about her learning to cook?"
"Between Mrs. Weasley and Harry, it's just a waste of space."
"You're right." After a few more careful cuts, Hermione tossed a chunk of soul-stuff over her shoulder into one of the many troughs they had placed around the sphere for just this purpose.
Luna looked around the inside of the sphere in frustration. "Dammit! I need more suction!"
Hermione glanced around the familial memories. "Found it! It's under sex-ed with her father. Gross."
Luna looked at the area indicated. "Yeppir, that's it. Thanks! Found anything unusual related to Harry?"
"Not yet. Wait! She once thought about raping him. She thought that Voldemort might find it funny."
"Well, keep the desire to ravish him, but cut out the reason why."
"Will do," responded Hermione. Going back to work on Bellatrix's familial memories, she saw something and shuddered. "Bloody purebloods! Sirius! How could you?"
Luna turned her head to look at the offending memory. "Meh. They were young and she was kind of hot."
"Still. That's just wrong."
"Keep it anyways. That position requires an uncommon skill," Luna advised after glancing at the offending memory. "Maybe replace Sirius with Harry too?"
As Luna started tossing chunks of soul and memories over her own shoulder, Hermione had to sigh. This was going to take a long time. And they had to be ready for that dinner party later, too!
The Dowager Lady Malfoy cast another furtive glance at their dinner guest as she pretended to dab at her lips with her napkin. She inwardly winced as she saw her son in her peripheral vision raise an inquiring eyebrow at her from the head of the table. Will that stupid boy never learn the art of subtlety? At least his mouse of a wife knows enough to keep her head down and let the experts handle things.
Narcissa sighed. She did not often miss her deceased husband but – when she did – it was usually because the current head of the House of Malfoy was busy showing his complete lack of cunning or any other quality that should be exemplified by any proper Slytherin.
"Something troubles you, Dame Malfoy?"
Chagrined at letting her sigh slip, Narcissa decided to cover with a partial truth. "Forgive me, Lord Detrimen. I was remembering other dinners … with my late husband."
Harry nodded in false sympathy. "Even in Kölle we had heard of Lord Lucius Malfoy. A powerful man in British politics … much as I hear his son is today."
Narcissa shriveled a bit inside as she watched her son stick out his chest and preen like a peacock, eating up their visitor's flattery.
Harry was unable to contain his curiosity. Whatever happened to dear old Lucius, by the way?
In his head, his guide-to-all-things-German responded, "Dumbledore's plea for forgiveness didn't go over as well the second time. Released by the courts, it's believed that a number of those related to Voldemort's victims took offense. He was hit by forty-two spells while walking down Diagon Alley in the middle of the day. Unable to locate any witnesses amongst the eighty people present, the Aurors ruled it accidental and closed the case."
Harry fought hard not to laugh. It seemed that Dumbledore was not as great a shepherd as he thought.
Astoria Malfoy née Greengrass was not the political animal that her mother-in-law was, but she was a very observant young woman. She noted her husband's display of immaturity as well as the sudden silence from Narcissa in response to it. Narcissa had been subtly directing the conversation thus far, but now that she had fallen silent, Astoria decided to distract the young German Lord. "My husband told me that he had met you with a young woman of his acquaintance from school … why did you not bring her with you? The more the merrier, as they say."
Harry smacked his "gum" loudly before laughing. "I take it that you've never met her, Frau Malfoy. She is a delightful fräulein and of good blut, but I fear that her dinner conversation would likely be … well, not why anyone would enjoy her company. Sorry about that, Luna. You know I don't mean it.
"Don't worry about Luna. She got bored after the appetizer and went to go work on our experiment in the dungeons," responded Hermione.
In the dungeons? Why there?
"Less likely to blow up the tower if her theories were wrong."
Thank you for instilling me with such confidence, Mione.
"So," Narcissa began, continuing her subtle interrogation, "I would assume your wand is a Geiszler creation?"
"But of course, he -"
"Geiszler is a woman!" Hermione practically screamed into the crystal.
"- was such a delightful boy, the apprentice that brought me her selection. My family tried to avoid the Sondervietel whenever possible – too many muggles surrounding the area. She sent the lad with a number of wands, but I found my match just after a few."
"I had no idea that Madam Geiszler had any apprentices."
"Well, that's what I had assumed he was. She might have just been using him for sex, as far as I know."
Narcissa's cheeks reddened as Astoria tittered.
Did she actually just titter? Gods, she really needs a good rogering!
"In front of her husband?"
Of course. I just don't know if she should come before or after his mother. Maybe I should do both at the same time? Mother and daughter-in-law might not be a full star on the 'man card' but I'm sure that it's at least worth a half star. And it doesn't count for anything if they're done separately, Mione. That reminds me … we should pay a visit to Australia. That would be a full star, definitely!
"Your will be done, Master."
Deciding that he had played the "German Lord" long enough (and realizing that guile was completely lost upon his actual host), Harry decided to get to the point of the dinner.
"Lord Malfoy! Now that we've finished this magnificent repast … I was wondering if I might interest you in a business proposition? Separated from my family, I think it would be best to branch out on my own using the methods my forefathers have used so successfully in the past. Your closest associates would be more than welcome as well, of course …."
Straightening up, the old man put his hands to his back as it popped in several places. "Oww. Merlin's last Knut, what I'd give to be a hundred again!"
Wiping his forehead with one sleeve, the old man looked around the small pasture. Several does and bucks wandered around waiting for him to move from the feeding trough. He was glad that the goats were 'browsers' more than 'grazers.' The last thing he needed at his age was to be trampled by a dozen goats rushing towards food. Belying his thoughts, his youngest buck, Chudley, rushed forward forcing him to quickly shuffle out of the way.
"Keep that up, Chudley, and I'll hex you into chevon straightaway, I swear!"
Chudley ignored the old man.
"Fine! Ignore me at your peril, you little bastard. Chevon! Chevon, I tell you!"
The old man slowly turned to the source of a throaty chuckle which had followed his threat to Chudley.
"I've never really liked the taste of chevon. Mutton's better, but after the last eight years I'm sick of it. Give me a good beef steak over anything else!"
The old man cocked an eye at the three youngsters that leaned against the pasture fence. "Can I help … wait, I recognize you."
The cocky sounding lad in the center raised an eyebrow, but the old man ignored him for the moment. Turning to the brunette, he said, "Hermione … Granger, wasn't it?" Switching his gaze to the blond girl, he continued, "And you, I remember … but I don't remember if we were ever actually introduced."
"Luna Lovegood, sir," she smiled.
"And you," began the old man finally turning his attention to the lad in the center, "the famous and dead Harry Potter. My sight may be going, lad, but not my Mage Sight."
Laughing, Harry waved his hand before his face, dispelling Luna's glamours. "Considering who your brother is, Aberforth, I should have expected you to see through my disguise."
"Yepper, that's me … the idiot brother of the Almighty Albus. What do you want of me?"
"Oh, I thought it would be obvious. Your brother killed me. I wish to duel you to send your brother a message."
Aberforth shook his head and sighed. "There's no need for this, lad. You're alive. Forget my brother and whatever feud you have with him. Go forth, have fun, get shagged. Live your life."
Harry laughed. "I do that, too. Don't worry. But I won't change my mind, I'm afraid."
"Alright." Aberforth turned and headed to where he had laid his wand while feeding the goats. "Any particular rules for the duel?"
"I was thinking of the Marquess of Queensberry rules," responded Harry as he pulled out his rod. "Sectumsempra!" Turning to Hermione as Aberforth's head slowly slid from his body, he asked, "That is the one which states 'no rules,' right?"
"That's muggle boxing," sighed Hermione.
"Muggle boxing has no rules?" inquired Luna. "That's silly!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I didn't mean … forget it. It doesn't matter."
Luna frowned. "Is this like that 'one cup' thing? Muggles are so strange!"
The Overlord had to laugh at that. Shaking his head, he turned to Hermione. "Got that runestone?"
Hermione looked slightly offended that Harry might think that she had forgotten something. "Of course! Just break it in the center of the pasture. That should take care of any potential problems."
"Do you think that Aberforth's death will give Harry any problems?"
"If it does, I'll deal with it," declared Hermione in a cold voice.
Luna merely shrugged and enjoyed more of the rose-hip tea the minions had prepared for the two of them. Glancing up at the sphere, she smiled. "She'll be a work of art."
Taking a sip from her own cup, Hermione shook her head. "She'll be a monster. But that's what we need her to be. Well … that and fuckable."
Luna shrugged, then nodded. "As long as she's controllable. Harry's Domination should work, though, even if all the grafting doesn't hold up." Seeing several minions dragging a cage into the soul chamber, she put her cup down and smiled. "Speaking of grafting …."
Seeing the new arrivals, Hermione put her own cup down. "Where the devil have you been? We were expecting you hours ago?"
One of the greens slinked forward and looked quite abashed. "Sorry, Mistresses. The jungle cat was harder to capture than we thought. She's in heat, you see …."
Luna and Hermione both looked to the caged animal. Resembling a nundu in size, it seemed to be a panther combined with a sabre-toothed tiger. Luna and Hermione looked at each other and grinned in delight. "Perfect!" they exclaimed in unison.
Hermione stood and stretched. "Get your gloves, Luna. Let's graft this kitty!"
*** Apologies for the delay. I'm also sorry for the rushed FrankenBella and business with Malfoy. For the first, I'm trying to shorten the story to only 5 or 6 more chapters. As for the second, I've learned that I'm as good at political/conniving stuff as I am at sex scenes. I.E. … I suck at it. I promise to catch up on the reviews, but that'll be after I re-read my work to find out stuff like what name I gave David Tennant and which copper is more likely to say "Merlin fuck my left nostril with a chainsaw." But continue to review. Praise shall be basked upon, constructive criticism will be contemplated before likely ignored, and flames shall be ridiculed because – being an unpaid writer – I don't really care. P.S: No excerpts from Book II this time since I can't think of any more that won't give away planned surprises.