Disclaimer: See Chapter One.
A/N: Sorry about the delay everyone, but between work and football, this took a little longer to post, not to mention that I rewrote it a couple of times because I was not happy with the first two drafts! And yesterday was my birthday so I didn't get to it then. I'm selfish that way :P
Anyway, WOO HOO! Over three thousand reviews! What a wonderful milestone. Thanks to everyone who reviewed, you guys are awesome! Well, I hope this chapter lives up to the standard you guys have come to expect, so without further gilding of the lily, here is the next chapter of Passageways!
"Fifteen minutes till Portkey deployment! I want to see final equipment checks from all teams!" Auror Captain Alastor Moody ordered the three teams. This was protocol for all deployments where the likelihood of hostile engagement was high.
"Sir, yes sir!" Twelve voices replied in sync with each other. Each team checked and re-checked their equipment they would need for the assignment. They would not be wearing the standard red Auror robes. This was a covert operation. All teams would be wearing matte black uniforms with one inch thick dragonhide inserts that covered their torsos, backs and thighs. Knee-high dragonhide boots would protect their legs and feet.
Each member had been issued an individual emergency Portkey for immediate extraction. This portkey would take them to the Auror Medic station at the Ministry. Every member was also issued a secondary wand and tactical boot knife that had been rune etched to be able to cut through any physical bindings and pierce any body armor whether magical or mundane.
"Status!" Moody barked.
"Sir, team Alpha is status green, sir!" Amelia Bones replied.
"Sir, team Bravo is status green, sir!" John Dawlish replied.
"Sir, team Charlie is status green, sir!" Team leader Shacklebolt replied crisply.
"Outstanding! Team Alpha!" Moody directed his gaze to Auror Bones.
"Sir?" Amelia asked, standing at attention.
"Your team will arrive on site first. You will cast concealment charms and your team will immediately take to the air for aerial reconnaissance. If hostiles are present you will tap your badge three times, the protean charm will then alert the rest of us of the current situation.
"If the area is safe, you will tap your badge twice. Two minutes later team Bravo will portkey in and begin to establish base camp and set up a ward blind to conceal our presence and then they will begin their preparations for ward mapping of the area.
"Once the blind is operational, our ward breakers will slice into the ward scheme and create a temporary undetectable hole into their detection wards, Dawlish will send the signal for team Charlie to portkey in. This could take some time depending on the strength and complexity of the wards.
Team Charlie, once you've been notified of success you will then proceed to enter and inspect the facility and get us a layout of the structure, and any documents listing personnel or recruitment lists. This is critical, anything that mentions the other facilities is a must have, and if you can find any operational plans or raid deployments wouldn't go amiss either.
"Make copies of everything, we don't want to alert them to our presence if at all possible. Your secondary mission is to capture one of their higher ups for interrogation, if the opportunity presents itself.
"Team Alpha you are our eyes and ears and our shock team if things go pear shaped. IF you are fired upon you have permission to respond in kind, in other words if they start shit, I want you to finish it! Is that understood?!" Moody barked out.
"Sir, yes sir!"
"Team Alpha! You're up! Count down to portkey deployment in 5…4…3…2…1!"
Amelia and her team felt the familiar tug behind the navel, and within moments they appeared in the cold night air near Inverness Scotland. With military precision they immediately took up a defensive posture and observed their surroundings quietly. They were less than about half a kilometer from the objective. The ward boundaries around the training facility extended three hundred yards in all directions around the complex.
Seeing no immediate danger, Amelia communicated to her team with hand signals, to mount their brooms and cast concealment charms upon themselves and then to proceed to their assigned areas. They would now communicate with each other through light signals to each other with their wands.
Amelia tapped her badge two times to signal team Bravo that they were a go for deployment. Two minutes later and team bravo had appeared and immediately began to set up a ward blind. Once the blind was constructed, team Charlie was then notified and two minutes later they appeared within the safety and concealment of the blind.
Team bravo then began to work on a ward splice to allow team Charlie through the wards undetected. It took them nearly an hour to achieve the correct runic algorithm that would allow them a temporary entry point. The access point would not hold long before the wards would reassert themselves and close the opening.
"You have about two hours at the very most before our splice deteriorates and the wards are backup at full strength." Dawlish informed Shacklebolt and his team. With a curt nod, Team Charlie passed through the wards and made their way to the large warehouse like building three hundred yards away.
Amelia and her team watched nervously from a hundred feet up in the air as they watched team Charlie make their way to the building. Shacklebolt's team did not use any disillusionment charms or any other magic while outside the building. They did not want to accidently trip any other wards that could detect concealment magic.
They arrived at a side door toward the back of the building. The door was made of steel and appeared to be secured with just a muggle Deadbolt. A quick low level revealing charm showed no magical locking spell or ward.
Shacklebolt withdrew his knife from his boot and pushed it between the edge of the door and the door frame near the locking mechanism. He pushed the knife up and made contact with the lock and with a quick twist the bolt seemed to snap. Shacklebolt looked at his men giving them a small nod.
The large auror then slowly opened the door; Talmage was the first one through with his wand out and took a quick scan of the area. The area he had entered was nearly dark; only a few overhead lights dimly lit the center of the complex, and there were no signs of human activity. He signaled the rest of his team and they all entered taking defensive positions that gave them a 360 degree view of what appeared to be at one time a receiving dock.
Taking stock of their surroundings they noticed that the warehouse main floor had been turned into a training facility, littered with spell damaged training dummies and obstacle courses. They discovered that the wall to their left had multiple scorch marks on it and several set of manacles that were bolted into the wall.
The four aurors became outraged as they saw drying pools of blood on the floor along the wall. It appeared that the Death Eaters were using live people to practice their spells on. At least they were alive when they were hung there.
The team began to document everything that they were seeing, finding more and more evidence that people had been killed and tortured there. At the far end of the warehouse floor they found an office and a set of stairs that went up to an upper floor.
"Talmage…you and Brocklehurst examine the office; duplicate every scrap of parchment that you can find. You know what we're looking for, and be quick about it. I don't want to be here any longer than necessary." Shacklebolt order.
"We're on it, Shack!" Talmage replied and he and Brocklehurst went to work.
"Moon, you're with me." He told the blonde witch, who nodded in reply.
Silently, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Allura Moon ascended the metal staircase. They reached another door, but this one was made of heavy wood. Moon slowly turned the knob and gave Shacklebolt a nod, indicating that it was unlocked.
Shacklebolt tapped Moon's head and she felt the cold tingling sensation of a disillusionment charm be cast upon her. The tall dark auror did the same to his own head and soon the large man was as invisible as his smaller partner.
"I'll take high, you take low." Shack quietly told his partner, who whispered a 'got it.'
Moon slowly pushed opened the door as Shacklebolt pied the room looking for any trouble. Shack noticed a cafeteria style lunchroom in front of him, and further down noticed about three dozen cots divided in half on either side of the aisle. Several voices caught his attention further down the floor.
Moon had entered and gave two light taps of her boot on the ground, letting Shack know that she was in the room. He responded in turn and Moon stepped closer to him until they were touching. Shack reached for her arm and then the top of her hand.
With a serious of long and short taps to the back of her hand he instructed her to stay where she was and take up a defensive position and that he would move forward. Though she wanted to argue and go with him, she followed his orders and would wait for his return.
The veteran auror moved forward and soon found himself looking at about fifteen magicals, nine wizards and six witches in what appeared to be a large commons area. His fist tightened on his wand as the group of men was taking advantage of two naked teenage girls, most likely muggles. They had several cuts and bruises all over their bodies, eyes were red and swollen, as tears fell from their eyes. The wizards appeared to be taking turns raping the two girls.
The witches had their own plaything stuck up against a wall with most likely was a sticking charm. They took turns in brutalizing the man's testicles with a combination of stinging hexes and minor bludgeoning charms. All the fingers on both hands were pointed in unnatural directions indicating that they were most likely broken.
The poor man's left eye was dangling from its socket and his right leg below the knee was totally black and misshapen. Like the girls the man's body was covered in cuts, bruises, and burns. The man's nipples appeared to be completely burned off, and Shack watched as a witch cast a summoning charm on the man's mouth and saw a tooth forcibly yanked out of the man's gums.
Kingsley Shacklebolt wanted with every fiber of his being to blast these witches and wizards into oblivion, but he was severely outnumbered and he was under orders to not engage the Death Eaters if possible. He knew however that these three muggles would most likely continue to be tortured, and this did not sit well with him.
He closed in on the witches and wizards and looked carefully at every face, so that he could identify them all later in the Auror department Pensieve. Knowing that he was doing something rather foolish, he stepped closer to the witches so that he was nearly flush with them, and then taking up a position between two of them who were casting spells at the man, he cast his own, a silent piercing hex straight through the man's heart.
Blood started to flow from the man's chest and within a few moments the man was dead. The two witches that had been casting yelled at one another, accusing the other of killing the man and ruining their fun. A witch fight erupted with the two women hexing each other.
The ruckus caught the attention of the wizards who grinned and began to egg the two women on. The distraction was enough for Shacklebolt to make his way over to the two women who were already in a catatonic state from their ordeal. He apologized to the two women internally before casting the same curse at the two women. He would try and tell himself that it was a kindness to end their suffering but he knew he would carry the guilt of his actions for the rest of his life.
Shacklebolt made his way back toward his partner. He tapped his boot twice and heard her reply with the same. They made for the door and returned to their comrades down below, he just hoped that they had found something worth this bloody trip.
Bellatrix groaned as flickers of consciousness began to ignite her senses. The first thing that she felt was a dull pain that encompassed her entire body, from the roots of her hair down to her toe nails. It was as if she had been hit by bludgers…repeatedly.
The second thing she knew was that her head felt like a Hippogriff had run rampant inside her skull, she still hadn't managed to open her eyes, the effort was just too painful. Next she realized that she was lying on the cold hard ground.
This confused her. Why was she on the ground? Where was she, she asked herself. She tried to focus her mind on the last thing she could remember and found the process…frustrating.
'Let's see…I remember breakfast this morning with Harry and the girls. I remember him saying something about going to the Samhain festivities with Aunt Cassie. I-I needed to be…somewhere…someplace? Ughh!' Bella grabbed her head and pressed down on it.
"Think…think Bella." She groaned. "I-I think I was supposed to meet with someone." She began to reason.
"No, no…I was being called! I was somehow being called to…GRINGOTS! I came to Gringots, I entered the Eveningshade vault!"
An echoing chuckle startled Bella from her thoughts. And then everything came back to her, entering the vault, hearing the voice and walking into the archive passageway. There was a large opening she had not seen before and a female voice calling…calling to her.
She remembered entering the large open cavern and...feeling an intense cold, then seeing a tattered and torn cloak hovering a few feet above the ground fluttering in an invisible wind and glowing green eyes.
She recalled trying to back away but tripped and fell on her arse, she crabwalked backwards as fast as she could, but was suddenly stopped when her head connected with a stone wall and then there was only darkness.
"Sweet Circe, have mercy!" Bella whispered to herself, when she realized that she was still in the cavern and that-that…thing, that Dementor with the glowing green eyes was most likely still here.
'Wait a tick.' Bella began to think. 'Dementor's don't have eyes. So…whatever it is, it may not be a Dementor.' She thought hopefully.
Low, feminine laughter caught Bella's attention but she was still too frightened to lift her gaze, afraid of what was there in the flickering emerald light. Whatever it was, she was still not sure it was friendly, after all if it looks like a Dementor and feels like a Dementor, then…
"I will not harm you Lady Eveningshade, I am bound to our house, I am for all intents and purposes…your servant." The low womanly voice echoed in her head.
Slowly, the sixteen year old Lady of House Eveningshade lifted her eyes to gaze upon the thing…the being that was returning her gaze. On closer inspection Bella noticed the differences between the entity and a Dementor. This creature was not skeletal like the soul sucking freaks of nature that guarded the wizard prison.
Through the tattered and torn cloak or shroud this creature wore, she could see flesh at least something resembling flesh though it was a blue-green in color. She could also tell that whatever it was it was definitely female, as its breasts could be seen through the torn strips of cloth. Though it wore a hood, strands of the blackest hair she had ever seen fluttered a drift in the invisible wind. She was beautiful…well, in a demonic creature kind of way, Bella mused.
What continued to unnerve her though, were the intense glowing green eyes that looked back at her seemingly with an undefined excitement, and then there was the bloody cold that she could feel in her bones. She tried to push down her anxiety and stood up on shaky legs.
Bella noticed as she looked around, that the creature was in the middle of a ten foot in circumference circle, surrounded by thirteen large glowing stones that were etched with various unknown runes. She walked around the edges of the circle and could feel power emanating upwards from the stones.
The creature's eyes followed Bella's path as she walked. "It is not a cell, merely a conduit for us to speak and interact." She smirked at the young witch, who was thinking that she was some kind of prisoner.
Bella startled in surprise when she heard the creature speak, heard but did not see. The creatures mouth did not open but Bella heard her as clear as day. Some sort of telepathy or legilimency, she surmised.
"Who are you?" Bellatrix asked at length.
"I have gone by many names, but I have always been partial to Euryale." She replied mentally but grinned nonetheless.
Bella tilted her head in thought. The name was familiar but she could not place where she had heard it before. It was not a common name to be sure, it sounded Greek or maybe Persian, she thought.
"Um…what are you?" Bella asked curiously. "I have never seen anything like you before."
Again, Bellatrix heard a low chuckle. "As to what I am…I believe I will allow you to discover that on your own. However, all you need to know now is that I am the Bearer and the Keeper."
"The Bearer and the Keeper?" Bella asked with confusion.
Euryale smiled. "Yes…I am the keeper of the ancient rites and rituals of our House and the bearer of the ability to use them.
"It-it was you I heard in my dreams, the voice that was calling to me!" Bella stated, now recognizing her voice.
Euryale smiled and nodded. "Only the Eveningshade blood that flows within you could have brought me here and allowed you to hear my voice.
"How did my blood bring you here?" She asked, her curiosity peaked.
"When the lord's blood mingled with your own, it altered your body chemistry." Euryale began.
"As his blood mixed with yours, you became new, more than what you were. Your family magic has now been added to the fusion of Eveningshade magic. And in turn the magic and gifts of every matriarch of our house that preceded you is now yours, and when you leave this mortal realm you will pass it to the next matriarch.
"Once your new magic had settled, it called to me, as it has done for every new matriarch for five millennia. Know this my Lady, that only a woman, who is a powerful sorceress of the blood, can call me forth. Your predecessors were all powerful sorceresses; and they have all complemented their husbands. For only a powerful sorcerer, could call forth the blood rings of our house and become lord, and he needs a strong companion. It has always been so.
"So Harry's blood created the change within me?" Bella asked.
Euryale smiled and nodded. "Not just yours, but every Eveningshade." She said mysteriously.
"I don't understand."
"The Eveningshade magic is unlike anything you have been taught about magic. Our magic is not of this world, but of other realms. It is parasitic in nature assimilating the host's magic into its own. But magic in your realm is a peculiar thing and all though our magic is very powerful it has its limits and restrictions in this realm.
"It is not known to us why, but for our magic to be accessed or optimized there must be a Lord and a Lady to facilitate it. Our magic is blood based and when the blood of the Lord of the House no longer flows or he has renounced his title and magic, then the magic of the Eveningshades sleeps until it is reawakened when the magic chooses another lord.
"It is similar to vampirism, in that if you destroy the progenitor those that were bound to him are released and they lose their powers. The Eveningshade magic only flows true in our kinsmen when there is a lord that wears the blood rings. It is the same with others of our kind."
"I've noticed that you have used the word 'our' repeatedly when referring to the Eveningshade family. What is your connection to them?" Bella asked the creature floating in front of her.
Euryale smirked at the young woman before her and wondered how she would handle what she would divulge to her. "Eons ago there was a tear in the veil that separated your realm with the realm I come from. Many of the magical creatures you have come to know came through at that time; trolls, doxies, dementors, even faeries, unicorns, and centaurs.
"Some of these other worldly beings were intrigued by the humans they encountered, some so much so that they even copulated with them, and produced, quite unexpectedly, hybrid children. The Eveningshades as they call themselves now, is one such of a very few existing mixed bloodlines.
"The first few generations looked barely human at all, but they eventually came to look like any other human, though their abilities were quite different. Though they blended better, all those of the bloodline were left with a tell-tale sign of their ancestry. A small, but identifiable physical sign that was common to all of the same blood." Euryale smiled enigmatically.
"In what ways are they manifested?" Bella asked.
Euryale smiled again. "My, what lovely green eyes you have my lady." She smirked.
"What? I don't have green eyes. I mean after Harry and I were married I noticed a few green specks, but, I don't have…"
A large floor length mirror appeared before Bellatrix. She gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. She looked at her complexion and noticed that her once purple orbs were now an unnaturally brilliant green, they looked just like Harry's, and just like Lily's, and just like… "You?"
Bella turned to look at the floating woman. "It's you, isn't it? You, you are the first of the blood!"
Euryale grinned widely. "I am, the first bastard child of a blending was my son, who is the progenitor of your line. I was fascinated by a certain human male, and I lay with him. To him it was like a dream, nothing more. By the morn I was gone, and he would go about his life never knowing that he had impregnated me that night."
Bella was stunned by the revelation; this creature was Harry's ancestor, the founder of her husband's family. They were descendants of a race not indigenous to their world. She smiled to herself thinking how the purists or even her own family the Blacks would respond to learning that bit of family history.
"You, Bellatrix Eveningshade are now a guardian of our family secret. Reveal it to no one!" She commanded in a deadly tone.
"Save your husband, no one else should know, until the next matriarch is chosen. This is your burden, and your curse to keep what you will be given and taught here hidden from all others. Only you can enter this chamber, only you will be able to use its secrets, and only you will pay the price."
"What do you mean…pay the price?" Bella asked with trepidation.
"You are here to learn the magic of summoning; in times of dire need it is the responsibility of the matriarch to save her husband, her family, and our house if necessary. As you have seen in the passageway, there are many tablets and scrolls that will provide you with…resources to aid you. Some are more dangerous than others, but ALL demand a price." Euryale informed the young witch.
"What sort of a price?" Bella swallowed hard.
"Some demand a sacrifice such as blood, some demand life and still others…the more…darker, may demand a soul. The matriarch must be a woman of deepest conviction and a most serious mind. This part of our family magic is extremely dangerous and it is why this knowledge is not shared.
"We can touch the heavenly and the horrific and because of that connection to what men call heaven and hell we are bound by the laws of both. We must remain forever neutral, to remain in the shadow, to be gray. To purge one side of our nature or the other is to create an imbalance within our magic and cause its eventual loss.
"BUT WE DEFEND OUR OWN!" Bella jumped at the sudden fire in Euryale's voice and the sudden drop in temperature in the cave.
"We destroy those who seek to destroy us; we were nearly driven to extinction by those who now rule the magical world. By the laws of magic and the old ways we are justified in taking our vengeance upon those who sought our destruction!
"This is your mandate young matriarch of House Eveningshade, to help your husband bring to ruin all those who conspired against our family. Unleash the power of our family on all those who would persecute us or subdue us! Remind them why our name is only whispered in fear! Remind them that hell has no wrath like an Eveningshade wronged!" Euryale growled.
"Do you accept this mandate, Bellatrix Eveningshade? Do you accept willingly the position of matriarch of our house, and the responsibility of that position, to keep our family secrto support your lord and husband?" Bellatrix fell to her knees and nodded.
"Swear it." Euryale prompted her.
"On my life and magic, I swear to fulfill my responsibilities as matriarch of House Eveningshade, to fulfill the mandate I have been given, and to support my lord and husband. So mote it be." A flash of golden light surrounded Bella sealing her oath.
"Now my child, your education shall begin."
The Morrigan Coven was a buzz about an Eveningshade being at their Samhain celebration and was even more stunned that their Coven matriarch, Lilith Sym, was actually an Eveningshade as well. But had the coven been more aware of the reactions to some of their brothers and sisters they would have noticed the looks of joy on several faces.
Harry had escorted Lilith back to her seat and the two of them were immediately encircled by the coven leadership including Cassiopeia. Harry knelt in front of the ancient witch who could not stop smiling adoringly at him with tears of joy running down her wrinkled cheeks. She had refused to release his hand as she sat.
"There is so much I would like to ask you my lady." Harry told the smiling witch.
"I am not a lady my lord, I am from a secondary branch of the family." Her aging voice replied. "I was a second cousin of the last Lord Eveningshade, Cunobelinus, and I married a commoner."
"You are a Lady in my eyes." Harry informed her gently. "You are family, I only know of one other Eveningshade and she is eleven. I did not know that there were any other Eveningshades living besides the two of us."
Lilith smiled enigmatically and leaned down to whisper in his ear. "You are not alone my lord, we are few but we live."
Harry looked at her with hopeful eyes. "How-how many?"
"Let me tell you a story." She leaned back in her chair, her eyes never leaving Harry's.
"It was exactly 161 years ago tonight that our family was betrayed and the night of horrors fell upon us. I did not know it then, but after years of looking, I discovered the treachery of thirteen houses who had combined to eliminate our house. They murdered all the family heads, their wives and children, they then came after the extended families.
"They had knowledge of where our homes were, my lord, all of them. It was genocide; they wanted to eradicate us completely. I had never seen such brutality and carnage in all my days before and since.
"I was a young woman of twenty-three and our village was gathered in celebration of the night. We were all Eveningshades by blood or marriage. We felt wards go up around us, and then suddenly the night air was filled with the glow of spell fire, and the echo of screams.
"We were surrounded, bodies of my kinsmen fell left and right to curses. I was struck by a bludgeoning curse and was knocked unconscious briefly. During the slaughter the bodies of more of my kinsmen fell over me, covering me, hiding me from our attackers. I watched paralyzed beneath several bodies, as our attackers systematically killed everyone there, the wounded were killed pleading for mercy that would never come.
"The corpse of my kinsmen on top of me, hiding me is the only reason I survived. I lay there for several hours after our attackers left, too scared to move and reveal myself to possible scouts that were left behind.
"At Length, I pushed myself out from under the bodies. It was then I saw the level of depravity that my fellow kinsmen suffered at the hands of our attackers. Many of the women and children had suffered…indignities, before being killed. Men had their genitals cut from their bodies and their heads severed from their shoulders.
"Miraculously, they did not kill all of us. There had been four more survivors from my village. A small boy of two years, twin girls of fifteen and an elderly woman of ninety-two had not been at the celebration, the girls had dragon pox and had been quarantined in a small hut just outside the village, the elderly woman was their healer, and they had hid in a root cellar when they heard the attack."
Lilith's eyes misted over as she recounted her history. "My husband and three children…did not survive. I found…I found their bodies. I collapsed and screamed in rage and cursed at everything. We fled to seek refuge with others of our clan only to find that every location had been attacked and everyone slaughtered as well. We did find survivors here and there, but the clan leadership had been wiped out, at least all but one.
"Our lord had survived, though barely. When he recovered he sought vengeance, but our House had lost all its warriors. In desperation he decided to purge the dark-side within him, he felt that his power would increase with just holy magic.
"He learned quickly the error of his beliefs, there is no light without the darkness to define it. In his haste for vengeance he forgot about that part of our nature and instead of doubling his power, his magic was stripped from him. He left our world in shame and never returned.
"Those of us, who were left, felt the loss immediately. Without a Lord to wear the blood rings of the family our unique abilities fell dormant. In fear of our lives, the twenty-three of us that were left hid our ancestry and took up new names and we left our Ancestral homes in Yetholm and dispersed into parts all around Britain.
"For three days after our Lord departed, I called upon the triple Goddess Morrigan for vengeance. She being a goddess of war, I pleaded with her to smite those who had murdered my kinsmen and destroyed our clan.
"To my shock she appeared before me, she cradled me in her arms and spoke soothingly to me until my pain and rage had diminished. She promised me that one day those responsible would have justice fall upon them and that Our House would return to greatness. I plead with the goddess to allow me to live long enough to see my House restored and justice delivered.
"I am the last of the original twenty-three that survived the genocide of our family, my lord. I had begun to lose faith and thought that the Goddess had forgotten her promise…but two months ago I felt the stirrings of Eveningshade magic once again. And I knew that the blood rings had been forged again and that a new lord had risen.
"I prayed to the Goddess in gratitude and asked her to direct you to me…and here you are my lord! These old bones can die happy now knowing that our House is reborn." Lilith smiled and shed joyful tears.
"Don't leave just yet my lady." Harry said warmly, holding both of her hands in his. "There is much I need to learn about our family. And besides you must stay around to see our enemies destroyed." Harry grinned.
The ancient witch giggled which stunned the other coven leaders. Never had they heard their matriarch chuckle much less giggle like a young girl.
"I will remain as long as you need me, my lord." She replied.
"Lilith, if twenty-three of you survived, are there any descendants of those survivors?" Harry asked curiously.
Lilith gave a genuine smile. "There are many my lord, though we are scattered. Some have gone to the continent and others to the Americas, but there are several families here in Britain. We do all come together once a year at every Beltane."
"How many in total?" Harry asked excitedly.
"We number a little more than three hundred my lord. Men, women, and children, all who bare the eyes of our House." She replied without hesitation.
Harry sat back hard. He was completely dumbfounded with the information he had just received. That there were over three hundred Eveningshades was incredible!
"But enough of this talk for now my lord, they are about to light the fires and we must give thanks to the goddess this night." Lilith told him. She stood and took his hand and led him and the others outside. She would give the Goddesses blessings to begin the ceremony and Harry would be the guest of honor.
*WARNING: Graphic content to follow*
The moon had reached its apogee in the night sky, and shown down upon a secluded and heavily warded clearing. On the ground was a large blood soaked pentagram with a naked dark haired man lying in the center of it. His body marked with several arcane runes from head to toe. His head was placed on the top point of the star and his arms and legs stretched out on the remaining other four points.
Surrounding him, were thirteen men equally spaced around the pentagram. All dressed in black robes and silver masks except for the old man at the head of the star, who wore a dark green cloak with Norse patterned designs woven throughout it.
Above each point of the pentagram, suspended in midair by magic were five female nude bodies, virgins, whose throats had been cut to allow their life's blood to fall on each point of the star, blood which would be the catalyst for the dark ritual.
The enchanter from Norway began his recitation as soon as the moon had reached its zenith, the blood soaked pentagram lit suddenly with unholy black and red flames. Pillars of fire at each point of the star shot up and began to consume the suspended bodies.
Skin, muscle, sinew, and tissue sloughed off the burning bodies, falling with a wet thud into the ritualistic circle before being fully consumed by the flames. The chanting became more intense and the runes on the Dark Lord's bodies began to glow blood red.
The Death Eaters who were assembled jumped with a start as a scream of pure agony spewed forth from Voldemort's throat. The hellish flames enveloped the Dark Lords entire body. His followers watched in fascinated horror as their lords body jerked and flailed on the ground in seeming torture.
The enchanter began to slow and the flames began to dim in the ritual pentagram. The smell of burnt flesh saturated the air around them. Those assembled began to see movement through the dense smoked that hid the body of their lord.
When the smoke cleared there were startled gasp of shock and of disgust as a cheap imitation of a human stepped forth. Gone was the handsome and aristocratic looks of Lord Voldemort aka Tom Riddle. What stood before them was some kind of abomination. With rough reddish skin that looked like lava-rock, his eyes were black as coal, his once thick, jet black hair was now white and wispy.
He appeared to be taller now, and more muscular. The purposes of the ritual, had been to make him physically stronger and attune his magic more toward the darkest arts, and purge the weakness of emotion and sentiment from him. The physical changes however had not been expected.
And seen the look of revulsion in his follower's eyes her conjured a mirror to gaze upon his appearance. With one brief look into the mirror, it shattered in the Dark Lords hand.
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS LOTHGAR?!" Voldemort roared at the enchanter they had paid to perform the ritual.
"M-m-my lord, this was an unforeseen side effect. T-there was always a possibility that you're magic had not completely stabilized after your last enhancement ritual. T-this instability m-must have reacted poorly to the ritual, my lord." The man fell to his knees apologizing profusely.
"I cannot be seen in public like this! Is this permanent or will it change?!" Voldemort demanded kicking over the old man.
"M-my lord, all rituals are permanent and all ritual magic demands a price. I-I'm afraid that it is permanent, my Lord." He whimpered.
Voldemort looked at him in rage and fury, and then almost hissingly stated. "And so is this. AVADA KEDAVRA!"
Amelia's team was getting worried, Shacklebolt and Team Charlie had not exited the building yet and Team Bravo had signaled her that only five minutes were left before their splicing ward would fail and the training facility's wards would be fully active again.
She was about ready to send her own team in when she noticed Shack and his team exiting out of the building and began running the three hundred yards between them and the edge of the wards. Amelia gripped her broom tightly as she watched the four person team sprint.
They were a mere twenty yards away when Auror Moon suddenly cried out and fell to the ground. Shacklebolt stopped and ordered the other two to keep going. He ran to Moon who was grasping her left ankle.
"Shack, I fuckin twisted my ankle steppin into a bloody gopher hole!" Moon told her team leader as she was helped to her feet by the large auror.
"Come on, we need to hurry! I'm not sure how long we have. Don't get all pissed at me, but I think we'll move faster if I just throw you over my shoulder." Shack told his partner.
"Fine! But I don't wanna hear any crap from the others about this!" She huffed. Shacklebolt gave her an amused grin before hoisting her over his shoulder and giving her arse a quick slap, before sprinting to the wards edge, chuckling all the way at the indignant blustering of the attractive blonde auror.
Amelia was just about to sigh in relief as Shacklebolt, with his human cargo in tow approached the edge of the wards. But that relief suddenly vanished as the wards tripped before he was able to cross.
A dozen pops were suddenly heard as Death Eaters appeared just feet behind Shack and Moon."Fuck! Nothing for it now. TEAM ALPHA ENGAGE!" Came Amelia's roared command.
Shack had immediately gone to ground with Moon at hearing the pops of apparition. Both Aurors had their wands out and were already picking targets. Shack heard Amelia's shout and knew that that the four broom riding Aurors from Team Alpha were about to unleash hell on the Death Eaters.
"BOMBARDA!" Four simultaneous shouts incanted. Two of the spells hit both flanks of the Death Eaters who had formed a weak skirmish line, sending dirt and gravel and a couple of black robed bodies flying into the air.
The other two spells hit just forward of the center of the line, sending shrapnel like debris flying into the center rank. Five Death Eaters were blinded by the incoming dirt and rock filled wall of pain. The loud and effective curses were enough to startle and confuse the gathered Death Eaters.
"There!" Shack pointed to a Death Eater with a silver mask, who was barking orders at the others.
"That must be one of their trainers. Focus on stunning him Moon! We need to take him back with us if we can." Auror Celeste Moon nodded and took careful aim at the silver masked Death Eater. She grinned maliciously as her first attempt to stun the man was successful, hitting the man squarely in the middle of his back.
Shacklebolt summoned the downed man and quickly bound him with magical ropes, seeing their instructor felled by a curse and taken hostage, the remaining conscious Death Eaters quickly apparated away, leaving five of their brethren behind.
"Bloody cowards!" Moon spat at seeing the terrorist flee.
"No honor amongst thieves…as it were." Shacklebolt chuckled.
Amelia and her team landed and were collecting the remaining downed Death Eaters, and removed any objects or wands on them. Once they had them together they placed a portkey on each that would deposit them in a Ministry holding cell.
"You alright Moon?" Amelia asked, helping the other witch to her feet.
"Yeah, just bloody pissed at myself! A gods' damned gopher hole took me down of all things!" She swore.
"Right, well with that ankle twisted, you better let me side along apparate you back to headquarters." Shacklebolt told Moon.
"Liked the feel of my body that much, huh Shack?" Moon smirked playfully. "Can't wait to get your hands on me again?"
Shacklebolt blinked owlishly at Moon's teasing. "What… no…I mean I was just offering to…"
Amelia and Celeste began to laugh uproariously at Shacklebolt's stutterings. He growled at the pair of them. "Witches!" Shacklebolt shook his head.
"Oh come on you big lug, give a girl a hand." Celeste chuckled as she wrapped her arm around Shacklebolt's neck, preparing herself for side-along apparition. "But I do expect a dinner out of this." She said playfully.
Amelia shook her head amusedly at the pair of them. Shacklebolt and Moon had been partners now for three years and the two teased each other mercilessly with subtle flirtations and innuendo. Those thoughts caused her to look over to her own boy toy.
She watched as her boyfriend, and she hoped soon to be fiancé, was sending the last of the captured Death Eaters back to the ministry. The redheaded Scotsman was as passionate as his hair would suggest. Being a redhead herself just magnified the fiery passion the two aurors had for each other.
But those thoughts were best left for after the mission was complete and they were off duty, hopefully for a little R and R at her place tonight! She mused. Because nothing got the lustful juices flowing like a little evening combat.
Harry was actually a little surprised by the number of people that were here at the Samhain celebration. From the way that Bella had talked those that followed the 'Old Ways' were but a few families. But there were nearly three hundred people here.
Harry was intrigued by the blessing that Lilith had given and how she paid homage to the Goddess, and all things natural. The two large bonfires were then lit and roared into life. As the flames grew taller and a smoky mist surrounded the bonfires, people began shedding their clothing and began to dance, laugh, and make merry as they danced through the smoke.
Harry's hand was grabbed by a passing young witch and dragged in between the two fires where the smoke seemed to be the thickest. He laughed and began to run, skip, and jump as the scent of sage, juniper, and other scents he did not recognize assaulted his olfactory senses.
Harry had made about three turns around the bonfires in a figure eight pattern when he realized that at some point he had lost all his clothing. His wasn't sure when he lost them or even how, but nevertheless he was as naked as the day he was born.
As he puzzled on this while he stood between the two fires. He felt a pair of eyes on him. He looked up to see the old crone that he had seen earlier in the tent of the Coven leadership. She looked at him appraisingly as she approached slowly.
Harry's head was fuzzy and he felt slightly unsteady on his feet. He tried to keep his focus on what was going on around him and in front of him but he found it more and more difficult to do so. He saw other bodies jumping and skipping by him, but they seemed to move in slow motion. He started as he saw glowing greens eyes occasionally glance at him as they passed.
His attention was brought back to the woman who was now just arm's length away from him. She looked at him curiously, searchingly, Harry felt like he was being studied by the ancient looking woman.
"Why are you here traveler?" She asked with a raspy voice, tilting her head at him inquisitively.
"Umm…What?" He mumbled.
"She asked why you are her young traveler." Harry jumped as the ancient looking woman suddenly turned into a stunning voluptuous looking woman who could put Aphrodite to shame.
"Traveler?" He asked, and then jumped again as the stunning woman turned into a ten year old child.
"You, silly." The young girl giggled. "Why have you come to this time?" She asked brightly.
Harry shook his head in an attempt to make sense of what he was seeing and hearing. "Well…I…you see I'm not from…"
Suddenly the old woman stood in front of him again and placed her hand on his bare chest. "A child of prophecy I see. A destiny this one has."
The old woman was gone again and the younger appeared stepping closer to him, pressing her full breast against his chest and staring deep into his eyes. "He is of the fallen." She said breathily, stirring Harry's nether regions. "But, he has not reached his potential." She said stepping back.
"But he will." The little girl appeared, taking Harry's hands in hers. "He will one day be very powerful, like his ancestors before him." The little girl smiled at him.
"Yes, he will." The Crone replaced the young girl. "But what will he do with this power? That is yet to be known. Will he serve the dark or the light?"
"Neither." The little girl reappeared. "He will remain true to his heritage." She nodded with a smile.
"Youthful optimism." The beauty returned, expressing her skepticism. "His choice has not been made firm yet."
"He has an old soul." The Crone once again manifested herself. "I believe he will walk in the shadow."
The ancient woman stepped back from Harry. "So do we offer him our blessing?" Suddenly the woman split as the young woman stepped out of the right-side of the Crone and the young girl stepped out of the left.
Harry staggered backwards at the sight of the three females suddenly staring back at him. He had to fight the sheer panic that began to build in his chest.
"I like him." The little girl stated with a smile at Harry. "I vote for giving him our blessing."
The ancient looking woman stepped forward again and placed her hands on Harry's chest. "I sense the light in him…however, I also sense the dark. It is weaker than the light side, but it is gaining in strength. Long has his ancestors held favor with us, they have kept the old ways. This one has not yet bonded with us, but I sense that he will. If he is willing to do so, then I say we give him our blessing."
The crone stepped back and the younger woman with her flaming long red hair stepped forward, stopping mere inches away from pressing herself against him.
"What say you traveler, Harry, Lord of House Eveningshade. Will you bond yourself to us as all your predecessors have done heretofore? Will you receive our blessing?"
Harry's mind reeled at was happening and what was being offered. Aunt Cassiopeia had told him about the blessings of the Morrigan, she being a priestess of the coven. The implications for what it could do to him for good or bad were significant. He never truly thought he would actually see the goddess, much less interact with her. And it seemed almost surreal.
But as addled as his mind was, he knew that if he were successful in staying in their good graces, they would be a tremendous asset to him and his family, but also knew that he could pay a terrible price for any kind of insult or perceived transgression against them. He looked up at the three expectant sides of the Morrigan and sighed heavily.
Harry looked at each representation and then lowered his head in deference. "My ladies I am humbled by your offer and of my own free will…accept your proposition."
The three aspects of the goddess merged back into one leaving one single entity. The voluptuous goddess approached him and slowly wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. Harry did not know that he had become erect until warm flesh surrounded his manhood.
He felt like he was in a dream and suddenly found himself on his back with the redheaded beauty astride his hips. It was like nothing he had ever felt as she worked her magic over him. Too soon he felt a familiar feeling in his groin and then felt her surprisingly strong muscle contractions around him.
The goddess as she neared her climax placed both hand on Harry's pectoral muscles. They came together and as she screamed and his chest suddenly burned like white hot fire beneath her hands, leaving the mark of the Triple swirls on each chest. The mark of the Morrigan.
A/N: So what did you think? Before I get a ton of remarks about this, I will let you know that I purposely left the Blessings of the Morrigan cryptic, and will be explained in later chapters. I also know that the Morrigan has many incarnations, and I used the little girl in this story as the rebirth aspect of the goddess and the mischievous side. Would love to get some feedback from all of you!