Declaration: I write for my own pleasure and not for profit. I do not own Harry Potter Universe.

With You by My Side

Chapter 34- Opening Salvo!

The incantation 'Morsmordre' was a spell that was created by Lord Voldemort and can be cast by anyone that has a tendency towards the doctrine of crime and causing pain. Like the 'Patronus Charm' this charm needs emotion to fuel it and it is just the opposite to that of the above spell. When cast, the spell creates a thick smoke, the colour can be decided by the caster and the cloud of smoke can be willed into a particular shape after casting. For Voldemort, the colour was so dark green that it was nearly black and that was what he thought was the favourite colour of Salazar Slytherin his many times grandfather. The shape that Voldemort gave to it though was more sinister, it took the shape of a skull with a serpent crawling through the space that would be the mouth and come out of the socket of the left eye. It was truly a macabre depiction of the philosophy of rendering their enemies into nothing more than bones through their twisted ways.

Though the spell could theoretically be molded into any shape depending on the casters will, once the witch or wizard was bound to Voldemort as his follower, the spell would always give shape to the 'Dark Mark'. Only those bonded to Voldemort would now be able to use the spell to cast the dark mark while anyone trying to do so would experience pain similar to that of a 'Cruciatus Curse'. When cast by his followers, the shape was nothing more than a mark, a representation of their evil ways and to inspire fear in the masses due to the destruction they left in their wake. When Voldemort would cast the mark in the sky however, it would be a beacon which would call his followers to his side, and that would not be limited to just the death eaters but to any other witch or wizard that was not marked but willing to follow his lead. In addition, any other magical races or creatures that was of a 'darker' nature or that sided with Voldemort would be attracted to it like a moth to a flame.

Though the spell in itself could not be classified as 'Dark' magic, it could theoretically be called only as a branding spell after all, but its intended use by Voldemort certainly made it the darkest of the spells known to the wizarding world. When Voldemort cast it on bare skin, the mark would solidify onto it much like that of a brand on livestock but unlike that of a normal brand, the mark on the skin would connect to the magical core of the witch or wizard bearing the mark. This allowed the dark lord to not only summon the witch or wizard in question to him but also to impose his will on them. Voldemort did not deign to have the mark on himself, instead he used the brand on the nearest follower to call those he needed to and the beauty of such a connection was that no distance was great; the speed of response of the one called was only determined by the distance.

In extreme cases and if he was in physical contact with the Dark Mark, Voldemort could access the magical core of any one of his follower and draw power from him or her, giving a temporary boost to his own core. Though not permanent, the drain on the followers magic if not limited could eventually kill the follower. Fortunately for the followers and unfortunately to Voldemort, the physical contact mainly by pressing his hand onto the dark mark could only be maintained with two followers at the same time.

The dark mark was like a drug to those branded by Voldemort; the longer they were bound to him, the willing the death eaters would be to do anything that Voldemort asked them to do. Only those with a strong will or an overbearing loyalty to others, prominently family, could fight the impulse to submit to the dark lord's will but they would have to have the need to fight against him in the first place. Being magically stronger than Voldemort or powerful occlumency shields could hold out longer but then those who took the dark mark would never fight against the doctrine of Voldemort. That itself would mean that the marked followers, with a few exceptions like Snape who were brought into the fold more due to their particular skills, were anything but model citizens.

Then there was the diary that belonged to Tom Marvolo Riddle when he was not more than sixteen years of age. The diary was initially meant to be a chronicle of the exploits of the brutal and often subtle young man before he became the evil incarnate as he renamed himself 'I am Lord Voldemort'. The diary was a beautiful work of advanced charms, which not only held his secrets but with the right password would let the seeker assimilate the knowledge that Lord Voldemort was prepared to impart. The diary was meant to be a tool for teaching spells of the darker nature without the actual presence of an instructor and without being caught.

All his plans for world domination changed when Tom Riddle had an interesting conversation with his then head of house and potions professor Horace Slughorn. The gift of immortality now seemed within the grasp of a determined Tom Riddle and after a brutal rape and murder of his fellow classmate, a girl from Hufflepuff, split his soul and put a part of that soul inside his diary and took upon the persona of Lord Voldemort. His goal of being the most powerful wizard alive and ruling over the entire world got a big boost with his first horcrux now made.

With a part of his soul now imbedded in a diary that was meant to be part pensieve and part teaching tool, naturally the diary gained a modicum of intelligence. The piece of Lord Voldemort in the diary would respond to anyone writing in the diary as if he was conversing with the man himself, and if found worthy would be taught all that a sixteen year old Voldemort was to offer. The part of the soul would not only have the memories but the diary would now carry his magical signature; the only thing it would lack in order to make the diary another Voldemort in the eyes of magic was having active magic. If someone was to infuse it with magic even temporarily, then for all means and purposes, the diary was Lord Voldemort.

Even at that age Tom Riddle was well versed with dark curses and knew where to find the most potent of them. His most important reason for making the diary near sentient even without the soul piece was to impart his philosophy of wizard supremacy over non-magicals and other magical creatures. Tom Riddle knew of his own heritage as a half blood and then as the last of the descendants of Salazar Slytherin; riding on the misinformation about the disdain Slytherin had for those of impure blood, Lord Voldemort altered his own philosophy to lure purebloods with a promise of domination over the others. His usage of the title 'Lord' also helped in laying the foundation of a cult that would rise on the shoulders of the elite purebloods of the wizarding society and later on wreak havoc on peace. Lord Voldemort and his 'Death Eaters' were born.

Now after nearly fifty years of splitting his soul for the first time, the same piece of soul Tom Riddle a. k. a Lord Voldemort would be used to begin the offensive against his death eaters.

Minor Break

Nathaniel Issacs was always proud to be a pureblood; he could trace his lineage where both the parents were purebloods back to seven generations, something which only a handful could truly say. He could only say they were purebloods until that time because there were no record of any Issacs before that and rumor was that they were a bastard line. If anyone of would bring up that matter, Nathaniel would do his best to stomp the rumor very quickly or if that was not possible then stomp the witch or wizard fanning the rumor. Their family prided themselves in being ruthless when dealing with their enemies and the only thing they did not have to assert their dominance was magical power and ability, something that they were loath to admit. The thought there were others that were of lesser origins, like the Potters or Bones' who had more than one muggleborn in their heritage as a mother needled the previous heads of house and Nathaniel was no different. The fact that at least the Potters could trace their family to Godric Gryffindor and then later on changed their name to Potter to escape the witch hunts was conveniently forgotten. The only saving grace in his mind was that many of such families were at the brink of extinction mostly due to the efforts of pureblood fanatics like himself.

Sorted into Slytheirn, Nathaniel was proud of his house's traits which he felt he had in spades; cunning and ambition made him the second best in his year at Hogwarts. He was a little below average when it came to magical power but what made him stand out from his forefathers was his intelligence which he used to great advantage when needed. His natural talents were inadequate to give him the coveted top position during his stay at Hogwarts and so used the traits that were trumped up by a perverted Slytherin house, killing a muggleborn witch after brutally raping her. If allowed to flourish, she would have met her match only in Lily Evans more than twenty years later and Hermione Granger much later, but at that time was untouched and naturally was at the very top of that year.

After taking over the family business, Nathaniel used his intellect and more often than not his unscrupulous traits to eliminate most of the competition without raising any suspicions with the law enforcement. He grew to be the only trader with a reputation to supply anything that was either a potions ingredient or enchanted object for the right price. More importantly, he was the go to man for any black market items, so much so that no one opposed his inclusion into the death eater ranks, mostly for his wealth and connections.

On a bright September morning in 1993, and on his way to his warehouse, Nathaniel suddenly found his dark mark flaring in pain asking him to report to his master. That was a shock to the wizard as everyone in the wizarding world knew that the dark lord was vanquished by the 'Boy-Who-Lived' and not even the death eaters knew about the whereabouts of Lord Voldemort, whether he was alive or not. There was only one cardinal rule among the death eaters and that was, when their master called you better not delay in answering his call lest you earn his wrath. Even though Nathaniel did not know if his master was alive, he had no other option but to answer the call of his master. Concentrating on the connection between his dark mark and the other dark mark which was being used to call him, Nathaniel apparated blindly only using the 'signal' from the other dark mark to guide him. There was no way he was going to remove his wand from the holster; pointing a wand at the dark lord was a death sentence and so with his hand on the end of the wand that was sticking out of the holster, Nathaniel willed his magic. Apparition was the only magic he could do without really using his wand and that was necessitated by the need not to have his wand in his hand when facing Lord Voldemort.

Landing in a room that was shrouded in darkness, Nathaniel saw a single wizard in one corner of the room, trapped in what looked like a cage. He was perplexed but recognized the wizard who was apparently held captive. Nathaniel knew that only the dark lord could call him there; he might have used the dark mark on this wizard's forearm to call him, which was the usual practice, but Lord Voldemort was nowhere to be seen.

The momentary confusion was enough to give the wizard in the cage to get a drop on him and the next thing that Nathaniel saw was a bright red curse streaking towards him and he could do nothing but get stunned.

Inside the cage, Severus Snape gave a satisfied smirk after casting the stunner, he reminisced about the events that brought him to this day. Even he loved it when a plan came through flawlessly.

Flashback

After another session of combined study, the ten students were relaxing in the 'den' that was commandeered by Harry and Hermione. The couple was still assembling the equipment they needed for their potions research and so the room was very different from what they were used to. What no one knew was that Harry and Hermione also had another room that was connected to their 'den' and that would be a private office due to Harry gaining part control of the castle's wards. Harry and Hermione wanted to keep that room a total secret and use it as a command center to oversee the security of the castle, but that was still in a planning stage as it was only about fifteen days since the start of the term and most of the time was spent in taking their practice O. .

Their rest was disturbed by the arrival of professors McGonagall and Flitwick, this was not surprising but the arrival of professor Snape was. The other eight students sensed that it was going to be a private meeting and began gathering their books and parchment to take their leave. One by one Neville, Padma, Susan, Hannah, Colin, Ginny, and Michael wished the professors and made their way out of the room but Luna did not budge.

Harry and Hermione exchanged bemused looks before Harry decided to address their friend, "Um! Luna…"

All those that were present in the room were unnerved by the intense stare that Luna targeted Harry and Hermione with. For once Luna lost all levity and with her eyes boring into Harry, spoke in a solemn tone, "I do not know what you were planning Harry but I do know that you should not start with Lucius Malfoy. Malfoy should be left free to contact Lord Voldemort, which is the only way to save your friends and loved ones and end his menace once and for all."

The two students have stopped wondering how Luna was able to give these nuggets of information long ago, but for the three professors in the room it was still a bit shocking. Harry and Hermione exchanged resigned looks before Harry asked their friend, "Can we at least bankrupt him?"

The blonde girl cocked her head to one side and held it for a few seconds before brightening up, "Oh! There is no problem with making him a pauper; in fact I am sure you should not leave him with any means to influence the Ministry. That would force him to take steps that he would not normally do and that would play right into your hands."

By now even the professors stopped wondering how Luna was able to do that, instead they began to think of ways to do just that. They were however drawn back to reality when Harry proclaimed that plans were already underway with Sirius' help to strip Malfoy of all his finances. That brought a bright smile onto Luna's face and she immediately grabbed Harry in a tight hug, barely restraining her squeal of delight. She drew back to kiss Harry on his cheek and did the same to Hermione before skipping out of the room without giving a thought to her teachers present in the room.

"Well" Snape drawled bringing everyone out of their stupor, "That was entertaining."

Harry smiled wryly at the retreating girl, "It's her secret to say but I can tell you that if she says something then it would be foolish not to take that into account."

"So are we going to shelve the plan?" Hermione wanted to know.

Harry shook his head vigorously, "Oh No! We are going ahead with that but we will change targets to include every one of the death eaters except for Lucius Malfoy."

Hermione accepted that with a smile; after all it took the both of them quite some time to come up with the plan. Hopefully it would work and remove the threat of the death eaters once and for all. They discussed it with Sirius and Amelia but there was no way to ascertain that the plan would work, it was never done before. They could see that the three professors were intrigued but none more than professor Snape; he had the most to gain if any plan to get rid of Voldemort or his death eaters would work.

Harry brought the black diary that was once just a diary but now something much more, out of his 'mokeskin' pouch. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick knew what it really was and so were a little vary but professor Snape was confused, thankfully he kept quiet. "Do you know who Tom Riddle is professor?" Harry asked the potions professor.

Getting an answer in the negative, Hermione took out the piece of parchment that was charmed to rearrange the letters in the dark lord's original name to spell out the anagram 'I am Lord Voldemort'. Snape was shocked to learn from Harry and the others, that the tag 'Lord' was really not a deserved addition or even an honorific bestowed by someone in authority. It was just an anagram of his muggle father's name. That actually made his stomach queasy; to know that he willingly joined a mad man on a convoluted idea of superiority over others. Snape finally understood that the pureblood rhetoric that Lord Voldemort came up with was to actually disguise his original plan of subverting even the muggles and rule the world. One has to only replace the references to purebloods with magicals and the meaning was clear; Lord Voldemort wanted the magical world, preferably with him at the helm, to rule over the non-magical world. It was genocide at its most savage. Snape thanked the stars that he woke up after only a few months under the banner of the dark lord and was firmly entrenched as a supporter of Albus Dumbledore; otherwise he might have been a willing participant in mass murders. He silently reiterated his promise to Lily Potter that he would do his best to help her son to not only survive the war but also to put Lord Voldemort firmly where he belonged, six feet under.

Raising the diary, Harry started to explain what it was, "This is in essence a representation of Voldemort. It has his magical signature, his memories until he was sixteen, and has a piece of his soul in it."

Though Snape was surprised at that, he could not honestly say that he was not expecting that. The only way that the dark lord survived more than one disembodiment meant that there was something like a horcrux to fall back on.

"You do not look surprised, professor?" Hermione asked.

Snape grimaced, "I suspected something like that and having dwelt in the dark arts myself, I knew about horcruxes. The headmaster also suspected something like this but he had no proof." There was no need to say that the headmaster did not share his suspicions with anyone; it was well known that Dumbledore like to play the cards close to his chest. It was probably fortuitous that Harry and Hermione got the diary and not Dumbledore. If that happened there was no way that any other living soul would have known that Voldemort relied upon a horcrux to prevent his death.

"Well then" Harry's voice cut through the silence that followed professor Snape's declaration, "This diary true to its name can be written into. We suspect that was how the soul piece was able to influence Ginny to open the Chamber of Secrets."

With that Harry took a quill and wrote, 'How are you doing Tom?'

As the three professors and two students watched, the writing disappeared to be replaced by, "Is that you Ginny? Why did you not come to me earlier?'

"It took about two seconds for the writing to disappear" Hermione supplied.

Harry nodded his head in acknowledgement, "As you can see, the diary responded like in any normal conversation and that means that it can be classified as intelligence. What we are trying to stress here is that if it was a person, then the written word would have been processed like normal speech."

"What we think is that when anything is written in the diary, Voldemort's magical signature would be all over it and the only thing stopping it to be Voldemort is the absence of active magic" Hermione supplied.

The three professors however were totally bewildered by that explanation and added to that they were not really sure where this was going. Professor Snape had a thoughtful look and before either Harry or Hermione could try and elaborate, he interjected, "Let me see if I understood what you are trying to say. If we write something on the parchment, the dark lord" here he used his fingers to mimic quotes, "actually thinks the written word." The two students had looks of relief on their faces and it turned to smiles when the professor finished, "Say for example, if we write a spell on it, all that prevents the spell from working is active magic. As the dark lord was proficient in 'wandless' magic, if we could supply the active magic, then the spell might actually work."

Hermione was nodding her head while Harry tried to clarify, "Well, not sure about the spells that have to be cast, but say like the protean charm…"

"No way!" Professor Snape exclaimed in amazement. He now knew why he was asked to help; he was the only one among the forces of the 'light' side that could do the job.

Harry and Hermione were ecstatic that their idea at least had some merit. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick however were looking at the other three as if they grew an extra head but before they could question them, professor Snape explained the idea, "The dark lord calls his followers through his dark mark. No one knows for sure how it works but we think that it has a protean charm component. The dark lord pushes his magic into the dark mark while thinking" the professor again used air quotes to emphasize the point, "the name of the follower he wanted to call."

That was a huge surprise to the two professors and the realization of what Harry and Hermione were planning slowly dawned on them. They could only gape at the two students who had the audacity to think that they could turn the tables on Voldemort by using his own creations to strip him of his following. No one paid any attention to the diary which was still trying to demand attention and the written word began to turn into what could be rage filled sputtering rather than polite enquiries, 'I demand you reply this instant... What is going on Ginny?' and so on.

"We feel that the actual method of calling could be replicated if we transfer the dark mark and the name of the follower at the same time. Since it takes about two seconds for the writing to disappear, there would be enough time to activate the dark mark by pushing in some magic" Hermione reasoned.

Snape though had a better idea, "Casting the dark mark itself would act as an activation step" with that he took his wand and pointing it at the open diary intoned, "Morsmordre!"

Unlike the hazy mark that appears when cast into the air, the mark was very well defined and had a dark Green, nearly black colour on the parchment. Snape rubbed his own dark mark surreptitiously but was seen by Harry. The professor gave a rueful smile, "The dark mark heats up whenever the spell is cast or is activated and that is how every one of the dark lord's followers know to be aware of any activity."

As soon as the dark mark on the parchment dissipated, Tom Riddle was back with a vengeance, 'Who is that? I demand to know who of my follower that is. I am Lord Voldemort, I demand compliance…'

"Well it certainly works" Professor Flitwick dead-panned.

Since the wards at Hogwarts or any other magical home would prevent apparition, they could not 'call' the death eaters into any such a dwelling. There was no way to even test the idea out other than call a death eater using the diary; Harry and Hermione reasoned that if using a wand to cast the spell is not enough to activate it, then they might have to use a channeling rune in conjunction. That could complicate things but hopefully it would still work out, there was nothing else to do but to actually do the deed.

For that reason Harry decided to speed up the purchase of a house that he was planning to; that would be where the death eaters would be lured and then worked upon. The house that Harry wanted was in the same neighbourhood as that of Hermione's house and later on it would be the home that Harry and Hermione planned to live in. None of the professors, especially Snape would know that the house was near Hermione's; only Snape would be given the information that was required to reach the house while professors McGonagall and Flitwick would be kept in the dark about the location of the house. This was to ensure that there was no way that the Granger's home could be compromised; even though the druidic wards that were around their home would ensure total safety. Once their use of the new house as a trap for the death eaters was done, Harry and Hermione would then set up the druid wards on their future home and then furnish it to their heart's content. Only then they would reveal the location to the professors or at least that was the plan.

End Flashback

So here a week after Hermione's birthday, Snape was glad that the plan worked. Inside the house, one of the largest rooms was stripped bare of furnishings and anything that would show that the house was non-magical. Towards one of the walls, a square cage that was three feet wide on either side and about six feet high was erected. The opposite wall was removed to be replaced by a glass partition that was charmed to allow spells to go into the room but not out of it. On the other side of the wall Sirius, Amelia and Dora were there to provide backup in case it was needed.

Inside the cage, Snape copied the name Nathaniel Issacs from a spare piece of parchment onto one of the pages in the dairy and immediately cast the 'Morsmordre' spell. As soon as the spell was cast he felt a burning sensation on his arm and immediately dropped the diary to the ground freeing his hand that was not holding the wand. The confusion of apparating into an unknown place and the distinct absence of the dark lord was enough for Snape to stun the materialized wizard.

As soon as the death eater hit the floor, the three watchers rushed into the room to secure the unconscious man. Sirius opened the cage to allow Snape to exit; by now the two wizards were at least civil to each other, united by the need to protect Harry and Hermione and so even though there were no pleasantries exchanged, at least there were no hexes flying.

"Thank you Severus" Amelia thanked the potions professor. "We will take care of the rest, why don't you go back to Hogwarts, lest you are missed. Oh! Can you please let the others know that the plan worked without a hitch?"

Severus Snape, greasy git and once death eater was barely able to contain his glee at striking out against the dark lord's followers. His reputation would be torn to shreds if he did cartwheels as his heart was urging him to and so he schooled his features to only a smile that was threatening to split his face. With a curt nod at his school age tormentor, the head of the DMLE, and Dora, Snape exited the house with a spring in his step. He had to deliver Tom Riddle's diary, which was now secured inside the protective glass 'Evidence Box' that would soon be a standard issue to the members of DMLE, back to Harry Potter before he could celebrate in the confines of his quarters. The three occupants left with the still stunned Nathaniel Issacs, exchanged wry grins at the obvious pleasure on the dour man's face and began to reconfigure the room.

Nathaniel Issacs woke up to the harsh glare from an overhead lamp that he was sure was of muggle origin. The lamp was the only source of illumination and it was low enough to not only hide the identity of the three occupants currently only a couple of feet away from him but also was harsh enough to make it difficult for him to open his eyes. He was strapped in securely into a chair and the clearly magical ropes were biting into his skin, making movement impossible. Then he remembered, "Snape!" he growled out, "You traitor! Wait till I get free, you are dead meat…" he would have continued but was silenced.

"Snape is not the one who is in control here" a woman's voice spoke.

Nathaniel began sweating, he recognized that voice. It was that of Amelia Bones; not only was she the head of DMLE but also held a grudge against all death eaters, she lost her brother and sister-in-law to one such raid and it was rumored that she swore retribution. He could see two more people in what looked like auror robes but had no idea as to who they were. Once thing was sure, he was in deep trouble. He wanted to rant and rave but could do nothing due to being spelled silent.

Amelia continued where she left off, "We do not like death eaters. You know and I know that you do not deserve to be free; it took us a long time but we finally identified the secret behind the dark mark." Technically it was not a lie as it was Harry and Hermione who deciphered it and made it possible to 'summon' him but she was deliberately letting him think that it was the Ministry that was involved. "We know that the mark has to be taken voluntarily and this 'I was under the Imperius Curse' ruse does not hold water."

Nathaniel gulped; he was not really a frontline wizard. He mainly worked behind the scenes and supplied whatever was needed for his master; he did take part in the occasional raid but only when there were enough numbers to overwhelm any opposition. He did not relish being under the wand of a very pissed off woman and two other aurors who most likely hated death eaters, and not to mention being trussed up like a turkey.

"You have two options before you and your fate will be decided on your own choice." Even though Nathaniel could not see her face, the voice was hard enough to cut through rock, "Unfortunately, the law states that once you were acquitted of any wrongdoing, we cannot charge you under the same crime. So, we decided that we would not charge you in a court but take matters in our own hands." The momentary elation that he had after hearing the legal tangle died as soon as he heard what was going to happen. If the ropes were not holding him upright, he would have slumped to the floor in a dead faint, as it is he was having a hard time not to let go of his bladder.

Amelia had a sadistic smile in her voice, "You can either cooperate with us and take your punishment or rot in here for the rest of your life, without anyone knowing about your fate."

Since the silencing spell was lifted, Nathaniel tried to bluster, "You cannot do that, you have no legal right to apprehend me. I will take the matter to the minister and the wizengamot, I will have your job" he raged.

Amelia flicked her wand to silence him again and continued in a bored tone, "The only way you are going to see daylight is if you are going to cooperate with us. I am going to give you twenty four hours to think." She began to exit and turned to him, "… and you can do that thinking on an empty stomach." With that she cast a spell that would take care of his body wastes, there was no way that the three of them were going to talk to him in a stink.

Nathaniel was left tied up and under the lamp that was almost in his face. He was sure that he would not even be able to sleep, what with the harsh glare and the heat that the light was giving off. He did not even have the benefit of a good rant as the head of DMLE left him silenced.

Minor Break

The lack of sleep, food, and not to mention the parched throat forced Nathaniel to actually think about his options seriously. He was sure that Amelia Bones would carry out her threat and literally leave him to rot; it was outside the law for sure but then she had the backing of the entire Law Enforcement department. There were quite a few in that department who had one or more bones to pick with the death eaters and they would not even blink against Madam Bones, besides, he was sure that no one would know that he was even under the tender mercies of the DMLE. His wife and kids would be looking for him for sure but they would have to come to the same department for help and that would be the final nail in his coffin.

Nathaniel was not a very brave man; he was more of a schemer and like a model member of the Slytherin house, preferred to use guile to get his way. Even in the ranks of the death eaters he was regarded as a little more than a coward and would equate him with the very people they sought to dominate. He was barely tolerated only due to his vast connections, wealth, and to procure what was needed. He enjoyed being part of the rampaging raids and reveled at the power to put others under the 'Cruciatus Curse'. He was even subjected to that curse by his master and felt that was painful but his current predicament beat the pain of the torture curse hands down, this was pure agony. He could not even move his hand to scratch an itch let alone writhe on the floor to relieve some of the pain as those put under the cruciatus were seen to do.

Having never felt them, the pangs of hunger and parched throat began driving him to despair. As he feared, the glare of the lamp did not allow him to sleep a wink and the sleep deprived state of his body added to his desperation. He had heard about different methods of making people talk and often scoffed at the weakness of the mind that would capitulate under persistent enquiry. Now that he was at the receiving end, he could only pray that the twenty four hours would end soon so that he could accept the demands of Amelia Bones and obtain salvation from the current torture.

The next day, as soon as he was allowed to speak he rasped out, "Please, I accept whatever demands you have. Let me go…" he nearly groveled.

Unseen by him, Amelia exchanged a look with Sirius and Dora that clearly meant, 'Well, that was easy' and tried to hide her satisfaction. All the three of them heaved great sighs of relief as what they were doing was not strictly lawful; she was the head of the Law Enforcement but that did not mean she should turn vigilante, not to mention Sirius and Dora were breaking the law.

Composing herself Amelia commanded, "You are going to swear a magical oath that you are not going to break the laws of the land." Seeing the terrified look on his face, she tried to placate him, "Oh! Don't worry; I am not going to ask you not to lie or anything like that. You are to take an oath that from now on to not be a part of the mayhem that goes along with being a follower of Lord Voldemort. You are going to do your business and then go home to your family. I am even going to overlook any shady dealings with the stipulation that you will stop your dealings with the death eaters."

Nathaniel was in a bind; he had a flourishing business and frankly the dealings with the dark lord and his followers were actually few and far in between. More often than not he was needed only due to his vast information network and sources for hard to get items. With the fall of the dark lord, his business never suffered unlike a few of them who relied mostly on the hand wringing done by the death eaters for their profit. 'Could he really give up the ways of the death eaters and live an honest life?' that was the burning question. Nathaniel knew that if the death eaters ever got wind of his defection, his life would be forfeit. Then again, there was no way that the others would openly go against him now that the dark lord was no more; yes if the rumors of him being immortal were really true, then his goose was cooked.

Magic was able to do a lot of things but immortality was not one. There were ways to live along life; the Philosopher's Stone was a prime example but the magic of that stone would burn anyone with a black heart. Then there were certain rituals that could do the same thing but was the dark lord so twisted that he would resort to the darkest of the magic to keep himself alive? One thing was sure, the dark lord was not around and there was no guarantee that he even survived that Halloween night or that he would rise again. Right now his priority was to escape this hell and to do that he had to swear to be a model citizen.

Nathaniel immediately swore an oath on his magic; he swore never to break the law and also not to reveal whatever happened to him under Amelia Bones' tender mercies, to change his tune. He was perplexed when Amelia added a bit where he had to swear never to join the dark lord if and when he returned; he did not know why that bit was included but he dutifully agreed to that too. He felt that he had the better of the deals as all he had to do was reign in his more primal tendencies, which he felt that he could afford to do owing to his older age. If needed his son could take his place behind the dark lord and save their family if the dark lord was not really dead and was to come back to life.

His elation was short lived though when the penny finally dropped. "You managed to worm your way out of your just punishment and you are lucky that we cannot prosecute you properly. Still, you have to pay the price for your misdeeds" Amelia had him on a tether now and it was the time to lead him around. Nathaniel had no option but to agree on losing fifty percent of his liquid assets; as fines go it was a big amount but since it was only his liquid assets, it was not too big a chunk out of his finances. He was one of the very few of the death eaters who held his finances as material goods in his warehouses or as properties and that actually saved him from going bankrupt. Still, as far as he was concerned it was a fair trade for being cooped up under arrest or worse losing his life.

Harry and Hermione along with the adults in their lives decided to hurt the death eaters where it hurts the most, on their finances. Though, legally they were not fines, they would be shown as donations and since the death eaters were forced to keep it a secret, they could not challenge their loss of money. The donations were anonymous and so Harry was safe from public scrutiny as well as from Law Enforcement department. The money collected in that way would be distributed among 'The Lily Potter Foundation', orphanages in both the magical and non-magical world, St. Mungos, Fund for War Widows administered by Madam Augusta Longbottom, Scholarships for children attending Hogwarts or other primary schools who could not afford the costs, and finally held in trust to help out legitimate businesses or startups that genuinely needed a leg up. Unfortunately, neither the DMLE, nor the Auror Force, nor the Ministry of Magic could benefit from the monetary influx; but the magical oaths would see that there would be a sharp decline in crime which in a way would benefit the general population and so indirectly the three of them would reap the benefits too.

Even though legally only the 'Lily Potter Foundation' was administered by Harry and Hermione, in reality they would control where most of the funds would go. They were determined to do the best for the wizarding world and this was the way they chose to do; it may not have been legal or even ethical but they considered that it was moral.

As soon as he was released, Nathaniel Issacs made the fastest apparition he ever did and was out of the room in a flash. His magical oath also prevented him from ever coming back to that place, not that he would willingly seek to enter the lion's den. He did not know nor did he stay around to find out that he was sequestered in a non-magical house in an upscale muggle neighbourhood. For all intents and purposes, he was jailed inside the Ministry's holding cells and that was a deterrent enough for him to willingly stick to the magical oath that was wrung out of him. Magic would enforce his oath but there was always a price to pay if he did not willingly go with the oath, he resolved to do his best to stick true to his word. He may not turn out to be a model citizen but he would at least not go back to a life of crime.

"We actually did it" Dora exclaimed, more in relief than in disbelief.

Amelia and Sirius celebrated the first blow to Lord Voldemort with an over the top display of lip lock totally unmindful of the pretended gagging sounds coming from Dora. The perfectly executed plan made a devastating start to what would be a cleanup of the streets of magical Britain and the head of DMLE could genuinely say that she was doing her best to keep the public safe. With the help of their brilliant team work, they could very well deal a blow to the death eaters without a curse being fired, something that the Ministry and the wizengamot failed to do. It was a pity that the public would not know that Harry Potter and his wife to be Hermione Granger were indeed their saviours.

"Those two really are geniuses" Sirius was awed and full of praise for his godson and his betrothed.

Dora and Amelia could not agree more and the head of DMLE had only one thing to say, "One down, many more to go…" The future never looked brighter.