Magicks of the Arcane
Newcastle – 9. April 1996
Music, a magic far beyond the comprehension of mere mortals; and, once again, Albus' words were proven right. For many, the notion that music could be intricately tied into magic was nonsense – nary a fairy tale of old folks, and only for young impressionable children – told around cozy campfires, and when it was time to put the unruly youths to sleep.
Hard facts, information found in ministry approved books, old dusty tomes, and scrolls from the golden ages of magic all were unified in their belief that magic could only be linked to music if the vocal chords had been altered by any means.
It was a logical notion; yet a foolish one only taken serious by those that never entered into magic's true realm.
Albus Dumbledore had taken Harry on a trip that not only showed him other parts of the world, but also many magics long lost; and, in the process, he did something invaluable for his young, impressionable apprentice – he threw him into the ocean of mystery, occultism, and legend that was magic – letting him drown until the boy, out of his own strength, learned to swim.
In front of the desecrated tomb, where even the hardened curse-breaker had already abandoned their jobs, the headmaster had used old magic – a spell so arcane that its language defied every belief of modern linguists – and had, subsequently, shown Harry magic in its true form.
Since then, Harry had come to several conclusions about magic that he vowed to note down as soon as he had the possibilities again.
Magic was sentient, but did not present the same front for everyone. In essence, magic symbolized something different for each individual; whether they knew and acknowledged it, or not.
And Harry felt grateful for magic to present itself to him in such a similar way as he imagined it did to Albus.
Music, a strong conduit for emotion fit him, a very emotional person, perfectly.
As soon as he had come to this simple conclusion, his whole perception of magic changed once again; and he welcomed the change – for it could only lead him to even more incredible insights in the workings of such an incredible force.
Harry stood in the shadows of an empty alley, trashcans were stacked against the wall – one had fallen over, a bid of garbage spilled out, the lid was nowhere in sight. It stank of rotten food, urine, and booze; no one had cleared this alley in a long time.
The senses he had honed under Albus' tutelage immediately identified the cause for the shabby and bedraggled alley – an orange web of magical strands; a notice-me-not ward. Harry eyed the strands speculatively. It wasn't a hastily cast ward, obvious tampering would be noticed immediately, but neither was it a masterpiece of craftsmanship.
That in itself was telling. A notice-me-not ward wasn't necessarily an important ward, so why would someone go to the length of adequately temper-proofing it?
Harry smiled as he heard the soft, dulcet tones of a harp in his mind while he redirected some of the ward strands without alerting the caster – it led him directly to his target: a second, hidden ward; much complexer, and much more important than the first one, but woven into the average notice-me-not ward.
It was an advanced form of the Certior Fieri, he believed – simply a marvelous ward scheme, definitely of Goblin design in accordance to its deviousness.
Harry carefully put the orange strand back in place and stepped back from the whole scheme that covered the entrance to the mysterious underground facility Walden McNair had talked about. Breaking into the whole thing on his skill alone would have been a really good exercise, if not for the fact that one mistake would likely cost him his life, and that it would take years.
He sighed, and pulled out a large piece of parchment – the complete list of the wards surrounding this building, as promised by the Goblin King once Harry had successfully bested on of the Goblins in Olkreg's tournament.
Had it been the best solution for the mission the Order had given him? He doubted it; although he was a teenager, he didn't believe himself to be invincible, to be perfect. Albus, Moody, Sirius, Moony – all of them would have tackled the problem differently, and with different outcomes too. It was unfortunate that his own method had taken that much time – especially as Great Britain was at war and every wand was needed against the impeding darkness.
Yet, Harry didn't feel that his excursion and training under the harsh taskmaster Harlecrack was a mistake. It was his destiny to utterly destroy Tom Marvolo Riddle, and as the headmaster had said, to do so he had to become a machine of war – an insurmountable bastion of magic that would make even the feared Dark Lord quake in his boots.
The Goblins hadn't taught him much in respect to magic, its origin, or even new spells; such was the task of Albus and himself. No, the goblins had done something vastly different, but no less important: they had made him into a fighter.
Harry could easily admit that his knowledge of magic outstripped his peers and even some of their parents by wide margins – be it Transfiguration, Charms, or Battle Magicks. Until his lengthy stay with the goblins though, all that had made him in the eyes of adults was an adventurous student who had studied ahead and was quite intelligent; someone to be watched in the future, for sure, but not someone to be immediately concerned over.
Now, roughly four months later he knew exactly the same amount of spells he had known before his mission started, but he himself was different and the way he would use said spells would be very different too.
The goblins had forged him into a warrior, bloodied and tried in the most dangerous arenas of their kind. A warrior whose magic represented itself as music and who planned to tell legends and stories to little children as soon as he retired...
What an interesting conundrum he had become – a far cry from the downtrodden child that had once lived in a cupboard.
Harry walked out of the alley and onto the streets, soon entering a seedy looking building where he had cheaply rented a room for a few days. He greeted the bartender with a nod, put some pounds on the table and then marched the stairs upward and into his rented room.
As soon as he was there, Harry's wand sprang into action and for three minutes it looked like he gave directions to an invisible orchestra. The whole room was scanned by no less than thirteen spells to search for any magical and muggle means that could spy on him. Another fifteen spells of all colors followed and made sure that the room was as soundproofed, hidden and concealed as it could possibly be.
For the last spell, the one that would complete his safety measures, he stowed his wand away and pulled out The Dagger of Sku'grad. It was a very interesting bit of magic that Albus had introduced him to, back in the dingy apartment in Egypt.
How had the headmaster phrased it?
'Not light by any means, as nothing that requires sacrifice could ever be, but not truly dark either.'
Blood Magic, more specifically, minor blood rituals. Back then, Albus had used a minor ritual to great effect. Harry looked on his wrist and saw the small mark of the two-faced man – a symbol he shared with his headmaster. The truth ritual had bound them together as the guardians of a secret they had specified beforehand. No Legilimency, no Veritaserum, no Compulsion could make them talk about it; nothing at all.
He didn't know if Albus ever caught on, although he suspects the old man to know, but Harry had been so fascinated by the concept and the possibilities that he had done his own research in the topic, probably wandering on the same paths that Albus had walked in his youth.
Even without his wand in his hand, the magic around him buzzed and the dulcet tones of a harp had been replaced by the pleasant if surprising thrum of a horn. How curious. Magic anticipated what he would do next, it seemed.
Harry gripped the dagger and made a deep cut in his left hand, letting the blood pool for a few seconds. Then he put the dagger away, and dunked the thumb of his right hand into the blood, before tracing three archaic looking runes on his left arm.
Afterward he let the blood drip in a circle around him and started to chant,"Ogma, brother of the Tuatha Dé Danann, I seek your protection against the eyes of my foes. I offer thee my blood for thy protection."
Instantly he felt a foreign feeling invade his body, his soul, his very being; he did not fight it.
Ogma, or at least the remnants of his being that were woven into magic had accepted his request, and would protect him against all forms of scrying for the next two weeks.
Why all the bother? Because scrying, as imprecise as the art could be, was the only magic that couldn't be warded against with conventional means. In Harry's opinion it was better to be safe than sorry and apart from being a bit of obscure knowledge, the minor protection ritual had barely cost him five minutes.
He unfurled the few scrolls the goblins had given him and took a stern look at them. Truly, the wards around this facility were incredible, and without the key that the goblins had graciously gifted him, he doubted he'd be able to enter at all. The cleverly disguised Certior Fieri beneath the notice-me-not ward was only the beginning; behind them, a web of hundreds of different wards awaited.
Harry sighed. It would still be a dangerous and long mission. Now that he knew exactly what kind of wards awaited him, he had to think of countermeasures and calculate the best possible route through the facility with the least amount of danger.
Not an easy task by any means.
For two hours, Harry burned the many different wards into his mind; thanking his Occlumency training with Albus all the while.
Then, he readied himself.
His trusted holly-wand was safely secured on a dragon-hide arm holster, corked vials were clipped on his belt, as was the Dagger of Sku'grad and a second nondescript wand for emergencies. The chest piece of his basilisk hide armor – really, the only piece that had survived the last two years – fit him as well as it had done when he had first put it on for the Tri-wizard tournament; it was further concealed by the large, heavy cloak, partly tucked into his belt, that Harry wore.
The cloak and the heavy-duty combat robes he wore had been enchanted and spelled to hell and back by him – as much as his knowledge allowed for – and Harry was fairly certain that no simple Stupefy had the ability to fell him.
Harry left the pub soon after and came to rest, once again, in the abandoned alley. This time though he would enter, hoping beyond hope that his calculations had been correct. It was one thing to know what awaited him; another matter altogether, to successful circumvent them.
He drew his wand and his lips twitched – the harp was playing again. It was clearly a job that called for delicate wand work and Harry had no problems to oblige his magic's call.
So it went on, for several minutes, as Harry disabled the notice-me-not ward and the Certior Fieri beneath it without alerting the ward holder. Further he went, disabling three stunning wards, a lesser concealment ward, two greater compulsion fields and even further, the last line of defense around the entrance: a complex death ward that didn't present itself in strings like all the others, but like a cascading waterfall of pitch black ink – instantaneous death for those that dared to cross uninvited.
It was, in fact, that very ward that had given Harry such a headache as he studied the schemes; until a sudden idea had taken hold of his mind and he had started to calculate anew.
All wards had a certain reach and every reach – without fail – presented itself as a circle. That was the reason why only certain wards had to be redirected during the Order's long hours of observations and stake-outs.
And, Harry thought with a smile, all the necessary wards that would've detected his entrance into the facility had been taken care off for now. The death ward, as dangerous as it was, only had a minimal reach.
Harry went through his calculations again. After he crossed the death ward, he should have free space for approximately four steps into the hallway until he encountered the next ward. Those four steps would've normally been accounted for by the other wards that came before the death ward... but, well... they were all redirected by now.
So, Harry had four steps of breathing room; and he decided to use them wisely. His thoughts went out to his trusted familiar, and in a flaming pillar – perhaps not the most inconspicuous way to arrive – Hedwig appeared and landed gracefully on his shoulder.
He gave the black colored wall of the death ward a last look and then whispered,"Okay, Hed, go for it."
For a second the world was awash in flames, then he stood in a cramped corridor, Hedwig still on his shoulder, and the outer reach of the death ward exactly two feet behind him. The corridor itself was long and stretched, and seemingly went on forever.
Harry's wand rose again, and he started to disable the next wards.
According to the goblin schematics, the death ward had been the most worrisome obstacle. The rest of the wards – and there were still plenty ahead of Harry – were solvable by the young wizard, if time consuming.
Hedwig flamed away, and Harry continued with his work...
Despite all the obstacles, all the numerous wards and traps that stood in his way, Harry successfully maneuvered himself through the maze-like structure, until, after what seemed like minutes spent in silence, he finally arrived at another door – not warded this time.
The harsh light that was shining from magical hovering lamps, and the clinical white walls felt so un-wizard like that, for a short moment, Harry even doubted the information he got at the Yuleball. Still, for the first time since he entered, he heard voices: they came from behind the unlocked door and Harry knew that a fight was imminent.
Harry dillusioned himself and got rid of scent and noise per his usual charms. Then, with a silent Alohomora, he opened the door and sneaked in, happy to see that there were only three wizards. One was resting on a couch near the eastern wall of the room, and two sat around a small table, playing some cards and drinking Firewhiskey.
"Take that, mangy bastard!" one shouted, flipping the topmost card of his stack over.
The other wizard scratched his beard and flipped a few sickles on the table. "Doesn't matter, next round's mine..."
"You wish! Ey, Grevet, awake yet? Relief's coming soon... wouldn't want them catchin' me sleep'n."
When no answer came, the wizard turned around to wake his companion. The last thing he saw though, was a clean slit through Grevet's throat, before death claimed him too.
The third wizard jumped up from his stool and sprayed the whole room with a silent Aguamenti charm. Harry, now discovered, knew that his first priority had to be to silence the man, or at least the duel that was sure to follow.
"Suuri Katvekartio," Harry uttered harshly, dodging a Reducto that was thrown in his direction.
A cone of silence – a very useful spell from Finland – spread from his wand and instantly encompassed the whole room, making it nearly impossible to hear the cries of fury and shouts of alarm from the enemy wizard.
The red bolt of the Unforgivable smashed against the table Harry had summoned into its way, breaking it into many pieces.
"Percutere!" An invisible fist sent the wizard flying against the wall.
With a few additional swishes of his wand, Harry transfigured the four legs of the table into sharp stakes, driving them with force through the arms and legs of the wizard; another flick summoned the wand from the man.
There were no dulcet sound of harps, nor were there soothing horns playing in the background of his mind – no, once again, familiar drums invaded his very being, louder perhaps than they had ever been.
Their wild rhythms didn't change as he stalked toward the barely conscious man and barked, "Legilimens!"
Memories flashed past him as Harry ripped through the man's mind without holding back; eating with unknown Ravenclaws some when in the past, applying for a ministry job but being rejected for a lack of talent and influence – Harry concentrated more. Those weren't the memories he was searching for.
It took another three minutes until Harry finally let up and the man's head lolled back, drool coming out of his mouth and blood trickling down his ears. It was a brutal way of gathering information – a way Albus surely wouldn't approve of – but Harry was in a hostile place where every bit of gathered intelligence counted.
The Goblins had taught him this lesson well: never show mercy to the enemy.
What he had learned from the memories was extremely valuable as well, and would definitely save his hide. A new rotation of guards was to come in the next ten minutes, ordered to protect the entrance for another eight hours.
Harry's lips twitched. He would have to take care of the next rotation and then he'd have enough time to completely search the facility.
His brain quickly came up with a plan of action: he transfigured the three corpses into small pebbles, hiding them in the stuffing of the couch. Then he brandished his wand and started tracing runes into the air – quite obscure, and quite a lot of them. After he had finished his spell craft, and had looked it over one last time, he nodded satisfied with his work and disillusioned himself once more, hiding in one of the corners of the room.
The fight against the relief troop of three Death Eaters; two apparently being new recruits, went about as planned. They tripped the nasty wards he had set and two of three were dead before they even had the chance to contemplate what had happened.
The last one, an experienced Death Eater, took a bit more of his time, but even then it was a quick fight and the man soon joined his brethren on the ground; a large bleeding cut on his throat.
Now that two thirds of the guard was dead and the next shift would only arrive in another eight hours, Harry started to work his way through another set of wards and left the room, entering another corridor – with only one door at the ending.
It was cruel.
Disgusting even, and nothing that had happened in his short but adventure filled life had prepared him for what he saw at the moment. Bile rose in his throat and he fought hard to keep it down as his eyes scanned the room, first tears pooling and blurring the edges of his vision. The Goblins had been brutal, the greater demon Dumbledore had fought had been horrifying, but nothing...
...absolutely nothing came even close to the amount of horror he felt this very minute.
Voldemort would pay.
And Harry wouldn't kill him in an ordinary way – no, nothing but ripping the beast's remains apart would suffice.
Tom Marvolo Riddle would be completely eradicated; his remaining soul and magic would be eliminated in a most painful way, until even the weaves of magic itself didn't remember him.
With fire in his eyes, Harry stepped over the dead scientists and walked over to a large filing cabinet on the far side of the room. He randomly ripped one compartment open and took out a thick folder.
'Marius Solvings – Werewolf – bitten in '78: preliminary experiments led to the death of the specimen. The potion '#23' will have to be tested again on another, perhaps younger beast.'
Harry threw the folder away. He already knew what had happened in this disgusting facility; the minds of the scientists had shown him that much, and the files he just saw had only made it more real, had absolved him of the last vestiges of doubt he harbored.
Riddle had founded this facility to discover a way of enslaving werewolves – who were notoriously difficult to bewitch with the Imperious curse – and even further; to find a way that transformed them on his command. Most experiments Harry had seen in the scientists' minds had been geared toward a special kind of mark, closely related to Riddle's dark mark, but others had also involved potions and horrifying rituals to force transformations.
Harry's rage rose even further just thinking about it, and the filing cabinet that held all of the gathered data exploded outward with nary a thought of him. Nothing of this disgusting research would ever see the light of day again, he swore.
A last deadly look was given to the bodies of the five scientists. Two had been killed by a quick severing charm, the rest though, after Harry had looked through their minds, had been hit by an ancient Egyptian Rotting Curse he had encountered often enough in Egypt's tombs. It wasn't the first time he had used dark magic since his return, nor would it probably be the last time, but he tried to reduce its use to an absolute minimum.
Already, he felt a faint bit of taint creeping up his mind, trying to subtly corrupt him and prodding his Occlumency shields. He'd have to ask Albus for a cleansing ritual afterward...
With a sigh he opened the door to the next corridor, knowing exactly what would await him...
… what travesty of nature, wrought by human hand.
The corridor was, once again, painted completely in white, but this time there were many, many doors leading to different rooms on each side. He stepped up to the first door and took a deep breath before opening it.
Just as expected, there were the corpses of three men hanging on shackles, and one being caged. They were dead, but the man in the cage had been stuck in a half-way transformation; large parts of fur, and claws sprouting. His facial expression was twisted in agony.
… and the hate in Harry, the hate for Tom Marvolo Riddle grew again, to a level even he hadn't thought possible.
He walked over to the four corpses and opened the shackles, as well as the cage – then he shrunk the corpses until they fit in a small transfigured wooden box he had clipped on the right side of his belt.
They deserved a burial at least, he decided.
And so he went, from room to room, finding ever growing evidence of the depths of darkness humanity can fall into, shrinking not only grown man and woman, but boys and girls, and small babies alike.
And with each shrunken corpse in his box, his heart grew heavier. He had long lost count of how often he vomited as he marched on from door to door; the disgust over his own stench far being outstretched by the horror he was witnessing.
Then, it was in one of the last rooms, his senses sharpened again. Someone was alive! Barely, nearly out of life's essence, but still … alive! He rushed forward, quickly waving his wand – the cage sprung open instantly – and helped the man out of it.
"Stay with me!" Harry shouted, his wand weaving over the man, using every bit of healing magic he knew to restore the man to health.
"...No!" He cried out as he noticed the vitals slipping once more and his wand work intensified.
Harry was completely surprised though, when suddenly the signals shot through the roof and the man in his arms uttered a harsh, "Run! Fool!"
The instincts he had trained since his entrance into the tournament kicked in, and in a flash Harry was in the opposite corner of the room, wand trained on the poor man that half-transformed into some kind of beast and stormed toward him. He knew that a simple chaining spell probably wouldn't hold the man, and he definitely didn't have the time for a long chant to invoke ancient magic.
It had become a habit of him to hate spells he couldn't use silently, but if the occasion called for it, then he'd oblige.
"Magicae Restricta Catenis!"
Thick chains of golden glowing magic burst forth from his wand and completely wrapped themselves around the man, binding him to the ground. Before Harry could do anything else though, the transformation receded and left a sobbing and broken man behind.
"Please," the man looked up, light blue eyes filled with specks of sickly looking amber."kill me."
Harry shook his head, didn't want to accept the fact. "No, I'm sure we can find a some way to help you."
"Too long!" the man gasped out, new fur already sprouting on his arms. "The transformation... it's completely random now... can't control it – just happens... please... It hurts... It hurts so much and … and it makes me mad... please, kill me!"
In the end, Harry looked into the resolute eyes of the man and nodded. Gilbert, that was his name, wanted to die as a human, not as a beast – and it wasn't a wish Harry would deny him. The death itself would be painless for Gilbert, sending him into oblivion where he would find the opposite of what he had endured in the last few months – painlessness, joy, maybe even contentment.
Who really knew what the dead felt?
Harry however knew that he really needed to ask Albus for a cleansing ritual afterward, because – once more – he'd use the dark arts, not matter that they were used for good.
"Find peace in death, Gilbert," Harry whispered sadly and squeezed the hand of the man that looked at him with such gratification that it physically hurt.
A green flash of light, and Gilbert - in human form – slumped lifeless to the ground.
And again, Harry shrunk a corpse and put it in his wooden box, before making his way over to the last two doors. He doubted that he'd find any more survivors, any more Gilberts. Or rather, he hoped... for his soul was weeping already and he didn't know how much he could endure before snapping completely.
Harry stood outside the large building that had housed so much death. He left behind eleven corpses, six guards and five scientists – all of them dead and none of these deaths he'd regret in any way.
In his wooden box were the shrunken corpses of sixty-two werewolves, and just thinking about it made him nearly explode in anger.
He barely controlled the vicious drums that asked for blood, vengeance and death.
His wand was trained on the building – he'd destroy it – and there was just one spell he knew that would for sure break through all the wards, enchantments, and safeguards... and it wasn't Fiendfyre. No, once again he'd invoke ancient magic, but this time, to completely eradicate the travesty that had happened in this building... more terrible, and more powerful than anytime before.
"Pater Ignis - Quaero Enim Vestra," he whispered, his wand was waving in erratic motions. It was one of the many spells Albus had taught him, and also one of the many spells Albus had cautioned him against using.
There was no doubt in his mind though, as he continued, "Da Mihi Virtutem Contra Dissolvere Plaga..."
Then his chant changed back into English, "...and may they be smitten by thy might..."
A last downward slash with his wand symbolized the ending of the chant, "Ignis Est Aeterni Delicti!"
Harry poured all of his emotions into the spell, knowing well that it was one of the main compounds that amplified such ancient magicks, and then he watched...
… watched how the sky suddenly started to rain fire over the house, watched how columns of scalding hot lava suddenly erupted from beneath the earth around the house, watched how this cruel place of human experimentation was torn asunder until nothing more but ashed remained.
And tears streamed down his cheeks – curious, he thought, when had he cried the last time, he didn't know – as he walked away, knowing that there was still one large task to be accomplished that night.
Without making any noise, Harry had apparated on a large clearing somewhere in the forbidden forest – far away from Hogwarts, Centaurs and Arragog's nest. It was quite surprising; the forest extended far beyond the borders of Hogwarts' ground and went deep into the land until it finally ended and hit the large Scottish mountain ranges.
He looked over the clearing, and decided that it was large enough. The large gnarly oak, centuries old probably, that stood in the middle was oddly fitting.
In one sweeping motion he dug out sixty-two graves, and with another wide arc of his wand that nearly made him succumb to unconsciousness after everything he had done that day, sixty-two pebbles had been transfigured into headstones – one for each grave.
He went over to the nearest grave, pulled one corpse out of his box, enlarged it, and lowered it gently into the dug up hole. He made it a point to look at the face of the person he just had buried, until with another swish of his wand, soil covered the grave.
It was dawn, and the sky was tinted orange-red when he lowered the last corpse into its grave; the only grave with a headstone that had a name: Gilbert.
But Harry, exhausted as he was, was still not done. No one would ever dare to desecrate these graves, he swore. Every one of them would have peace in the afterlife.
He took a small vial from his belt, a pepper-up potion, and quickly emptied it. The process repeated itself with two other vials – two more than medically appropriate, but he'd need the energy.
And for the next five days, Harry Potter made that small clearing in the Forbidden Forest into one of the best warded places of Great Britain. No one, and absolutely nothing could happen to those graves without him knowing about it.
Before he apparated away though, he looked once more at the headstone of Gilbert, the man that had pleaded with him to be killed.
Tom Riddle would pay.
AN: Well, this was a fairly dramatic chapter. I'm a very 'visual' writer... with that I mean that I play out every scene in my head and see them from the eyes of my protagonist – it was quite sickening, and even though Tom Riddle is a fictional character, even I feel kinda angry at him right now after finishing the chapter.
Suuri Katvekartio – A cone of silence quickly enveloping a room (Finnish spell)
Magicae Restricta Catenis – Restraining chains made of pure magic
Pater Ignis – Father of Fire
Quaero Enim Vestra – I beseech thee
Da Mihi Virtutem Contra Dissolvere Plaga – Grant me the strength against this plague
Ignis Est Aeterni Delicti – Fire of eternal damnation