Disclaimer: See Chapter One
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews for the last chapter, your thoughtful reviews always amaze and inspire me! The end of this chapter may be shocking for some but I give an explanation for why I did what I did in the Authors notes that follow. Things in Harry's world are about to get ugly, but I hope you continue the ride with me. And now the continuing saga of Passageways!
It was December 24th and the plaza of the Eveningshade village of Night's End, so named by the first Eveningshades that had occupied the area centuries before, had been decorated for the Yuletide festivities for that evening. Evergreen garlands and mistletoe were everywhere and fairy lights lit the area in warm illuminating hues.
Their lord and his invited guests would join in the festivities, and their town matriarch the High Priestess of the Morrigan, Lilith, would bless the proceedings. There was an excited energy that went through every man, woman, and child as they would celebrate the first Yule of the reestablished hamlet.
Climate control spells enhanced by ward stones had been cast around the village plaza creating a comfortable temperature for the festivities, which would undoubtedly go well into the early morning hours. Barrels of mead and homemade spirits would be on tap for those adult witches and wizards who indulged, and butter beer and Yule punch for the younger aged.
The Blacks, the Potters, and many heads of the fringe families and covens would be there to celebrate the ancient observance of the Winter Solstice, and to solidify alliances between one another.
While preparations for the Yule celebration was taking place in the village, Eveningshade Mansion was also a hive of activity, but for very different and very deadly reasons. A war council of sorts was meeting together in Lord Eveningshade's study, finalizing plans to let loose the first volley of a campaign of revenge and retribution that would end with the annihilation of thirteen pureblood houses.
Though retribution was indeed a major reason for this war council, it was not the only reason. It was also a calculated strike that would weaken the power of the Purist Party within the Wizengamot and Voldemort. The intended family was not only a part of the Thirteen, but also a financial backer of Voldemort and its family head was a part of Voldemort's inner circle.
They would be killing two birds with one stone as it were, and Harry was anxious for a little payback for the attack at Kings Cross Station. He had hoped that he would have a chance to get to know his maternal grandfather and perhaps even one day bring him into his confidence about who he really was. But that dream had been ruthlessly taken from him and he had sworn that he would find the perpetrators and personally deal with them in the most horrendous way he could think of.
Harry was realizing that something within him was changing. His thoughts were becoming more focused and his mind became more calculating. A feeling of indifference dominated his emotions when it came to the anything outside of his family. Indeed his sense of protectiveness for those he considered his family and his people overshadowed any feeling he had toward the magical community in general.
Whether this was a side effect from the Eveningshade family magic asserting itself within him or the influence of the Morrigan, who's many incarnations included her being a goddess of war, he did not know, but as the days went by he worried about it less and less.
Right now he felt that his new family and his rediscovered people were in danger, in danger from multiple adversaries both dark and light, and he would bring the entire country to its knees in subjugation if it meant that his people were kept safe and prosperous.
"We've changed the date of the attack to December thirty-first, to allow you more time to fully recover. We will need you at full strength Harry, if we are to successfully penetrate the wards surrounding the home. Though the wards are minimal, we don't want to alert them of our presence and give them a chance to form a defense." Arcturus Black stated from his place at the circular table, that he, Charlus, Dorea, Orion, Cygnus, and of course Harry and Bella were standing around.
"Will they all be at the manor?" Orion asked.
"They are hosting a New Year's ball. All of their family will be in attendance as well as a few other families. From past parties I have attended there, it should break up sometime around two in the morning." Arcturus replied.
"Will there be any children there?" Dorea asked pointedly.
"They have two minor aged grandchildren, ages six and eight." Arcturus replied indifferently.
"We won't harm the children." Harry stated heading off his grandmother's obvious next statement.
"It's unwise to leave any witnesses my lord, especially an heir who could one day do as you are doing and seek revenge." Orion replied dutifully.
Harry sighed tiredly and pulled his hand down his face. He was still feeling the effects from the blast on his body, but he answered thoughtfully. "In ages past, the children of our enemies were kept as spoils of war, raised by our people, however, their memories were modified and oaths of loyalty administered once the reached eleven years of age. I suggest we do the same here, we have families within the village that could raise them as their own."
"That is a possibility." Charlus began. "There are still laws on the books in reference to chattel obtained through conquest. Though they are very old they have not been repealed. However, you would face a very unfriendly Wizengamot Harry for trying to invoke it.
"Although blood feuds are still recognized, and the chattel law could be used, you would not find a very sympathetic judicial body, and you would have to come forward and claim them as spoils of a blood feud, which means you will have to legally proclaim who you are and that a blood feud exist between you and the victim's house.
"This also means that you would be exposing yourself to the twelve other families, and risk them all coming after you at the same time. You must be prepared for a significant backlash from this attack." Charlus instructed them.
Arcturus began to chuckle loudly drawing every eye in the room toward him. "Ever the honorable Gryffindor, Charlus!"
Harry gave the Black of Blacks an inquisitive look. Arcturus cleared his throat merrily. "Harry my boy; this is an instance where you should be more like a cunning Slytherin. If all goes as planned there will be no need to inform the Wizengamot at all. Why would you want to?
"The Wizengamot will have no idea who attacked or where the missing children are. They have no method of tracking them. Why expose yourself to them unnecessarily? Granted that word will eventually get out that House Eveningshade has returned, but they will have no proof or even reason to suspect your house's involvement.
"Let sleeping dogs lay Harry, and keep yourself out of the Ministry's influence and wand tip as long as possible. Now is not the time to be honorable, now is the time for misdirection and anonymity." Arcturus finished.
Harry sighed again and looked enquiringly toward Bella who gave a slight nod, and then looked to his grandmother who gave him a supportive nod as well. Realizing that the clandestine approach would be the better option he voiced his agreement with Arcturus' suggestion.
Focusing now on the diagram laid out on the table of the manor's floor plans, and the location of the ward stones, they began to discuss tactics and entry points and individual assignments.
"Now, the most important aspect of magic dear is intent, and especially so for our particular brand of family magic." Lilith explained to Lily as they strolled slowly through the village. As they walked witches and wizards of every age bowed or curtsied to the ancient Eveningshade witch.
"They really respect you, don't they?" Lily asked as they walked.
"In magical society we are raised to give deference to our elders, especially those brought up in the old ways, and seeing as I am the oldest thing around, I'm always getting invited to dinners and events and given tokens of esteem and such, you'd be surprised what I walk away with." Lilith winked with a conspiratorial smile as they came to the tree line at the edge of the village.
"Now as I was telling you about intent in using magic, the Eveningshades have many unique abilities that have been passed down through our bloodline, which did not come from our human bloodline." She looked at Lily meaningfully. Lily nodded her understanding hearing the same thing from Harry.
"You mentioned that you would be teaching me one of those abilities today. What exactly, will you be teaching me today?" Lily asked curiously.
"Not every ability we have is offensive in nature my child." Lilith began. "Some of our abilities are defensive. Now, not every member of our family can access all the abilities that have come through our heritage. So I don't want you to become discouraged if you are not able to perform one or more of them. Do you understand?" Lilith asked gently laying a withered hand on Lily's shoulder.
"I do." Lily nodded though her voiced trembled slightly with worry that she would not be able to access any of the Eveningshade magic. Lilith smiled warmly at her.
"Now, one of our best defenses is the ability to obscure our opponent's view of his surroundings by creating a cold dense mist."
"I've seen that!" Lily excitedly replied. "In the family history book that Harry gave me. It was used when the MacTavish attacked one of our ancestors. They created a mist that seemed to envelop and terrify MacTavish's men!"
"Very good, Lily! Yes, the mist has an almost Dementoresque property to it. It not only obscures our enemy's vision but it produces a chill that penetrates to their very bones. It is enough to make the bravest of wizards wet themselves in terror." Lilith chuckled softly.
"So, how do I summon the mist?" Lily asked excitedly.
"Very astute Lily, there is no spell but it is a minor summoning that occurs. Now, you must be very focused, and visualize in your mind exactly what it is you want. Your intent will guide your magic in the summoning of the mist." She told the young girl.
"But how is it done?" Lily asked.
"Through our…non-human blood line, you see we have a connection to the environment around us; through that connection we can manipulate it for short periods of time, longer if you are very powerful. Watch me and reach out and feel how the magic feels around me, it will help you duplicate the same feeling."
Lilith closed her eyes briefly before they popped open and began to glow the Eveningshade killing curse green. Lily stepped closer to Lilith and placed her hand on the older witch's chest and immediately felt the buildup of magic.
Within seconds a slow rolling mist formed at Lilith's feet and spread outward and all around her. Lily was amazed at how fast the small clearing they were in filled with the dense cold mist. Soon the trees and the village completely disappeared from view.
Just as quickly as the fog had appeared it had retreated and then disappeared as if it had never been there. Lily turned her eyes back to Lilith's and saw her smiling proudly.
"I haven't done that in years!" She stated. "It felt wonderful to do it again, glad that I could still do it!" She chuckled happily.
"Now did you feel the magic I was using? Every spell, every curse, and every jinx has a specific feel and pull on your magic. The most powerful Eveningshades could tell what an enemy was going to cast before they actually loosed the spell, giving them an edge in a fight, either countering the spell or knowing deflecting it with the appropriate shield." She stated.
"I did feel it." Lily told her new mentor. "It was like cool running water going through you and something else, like…like a pulling sensation?"
Lilith smiled proudly at the young girl. "Yes, I was actually pulling in the air around me and then pushing it back out in the form of the fog, my magic physically changing the composition of the air."
"Wow!" Lily replied in wonder. "So do you think I'll be able to do that?" She asked.
"We'll never know until you try child." Lilith replied with twinkling eyes. "Let's give it a go, shall we?" Lily nodded quickly, enthusiastic about learning the incredible useful ability.
Lily stood ready to give her best and Lilith stood behind her with her soft hands on her shoulders. "Now…" Lilith whispered. "Remember how the magic felt and try to replicate it within yourself, once your magic responds to your desire the air will automatically begin to flow into you pulled and changed by that same magic."
Lily focused on the feeling she had felt from the older witch, remembering every detail of how the magic ebbed and flowed and willed her magic to recreate the same fog her mentor had created. It started with a trickle and remained that way for several minutes. Lily began to have doubts that she would be able to summon the mist and the trickle began to diminish.
Suddenly at the moment she was about to give up she heard the voice of the ancient Eveningshade began to fill her ears with soft encouraging words and told her not to give up. Lily grimaced in renewed concentration refusing to let her mentor and herself down.
Lily lost track of how long she was concentrating but suddenly she felt the trickle begin to increase to a gentle flow and then a feeling of cascading water flowed through her. She heard her mentor whisper 'wonderful', she opened her eyes without losing focus and nearly gasped as the clearing was once more completely covered in thick, cold, rolling mist.
Excitement took over Lily causing her to lose her concentration and within seconds the mist dissipated leaving the clearing as it was before she had summoned the mist. Lily was bouncing on the balls of her feet with joy.
"I did it! I did it!" She proclaimed loudly and exuberantly, jumping up and down.
"Yes, you did indeed!" Lilith smiled as the petite redhead through her arms around Lilith in a near bone breaking hug.
"What next?! What can you teach me?!" Lily asked excitedly. Lilith smiled patiently at her young protégé. She could tell that Lily would be a powerful and formidable witch when she matured and just hoped that she would still be around long enough to train her to take her own place as the teacher for future Eveningshades and a priestess to the Goddess.
"Let's try accelerating your reflexes next."
The meeting had been exhausting and Harry just wanted to close his eyes, but Arcturus and Charlus had wanted a few private moments with him after the others had left to get ready for that evenings celebration.
"Harry…" Charlus began. "Once the Wizengamot has learned of the extinction, there will be a thirty day grace period for any remaining family member to claim the seat. Failing the appearance of an heir, the members of the Founding families will begin to take and review applications to fill the vacant seat in the Hereditary seats.
"As an ancient house you would easily qualify but it is no guarantee of acceptance. You must have the vote of two-thirds of the seated Founding families. As of today we would fall short by three votes. However, you have one thing going for you that the others do not. House Eveningshade had a Hereditary seat before the 1810 extermination of your family.
"A well prepared oration on your part about the circumstances surrounding your houses' disappearance may emotionally move enough of the members to convince at least three if not most of the remaining votes to reinstate your house." Charlus finished.
"And if that doesn't work…" Arcturus began. "There are other…persuasive measures you could take. Such as a whispered reminder of what House Eveningshade had done to their enemies in the past. Those horror stories are still whispered in many old houses." Arcturus grinned evilly.
Harry chuckled. "Well let's hope it doesn't come to that."
A soft rapping at the study door caught the attention of the three seated men. Rose Evan stood at the door supported by a walking cane. The three men rose from their seats and as one bowed to Rose as was the custom of all pureblood men when a lady entered the room.
"Am I disturbing you?" Harry's maternal grandmother asked with some trepidation.
Harry looked to the other men and a silent agreement was made between to continue this discussion later. "Not at all Mrs. Evans, we were just finishing." Charlus replied warmly.
Rose ghosted an embarrassed smile. "I was hoping to have a moment with Lord Eveningshade."
"Of course my lady." Arcturus replied. "Charlus and I were just leaving." The two older men bowed once more and exited the study.
"May I have a moment of your time Lord Eveningshade?" She asked Harry.
"Of course, of course. Please, come in." Harry replied congenially.
Rose slowly walked into the study relying heavily on the cane she was using. Harry moved toward her and escorted her to one of the oversized leather arm chairs. He helped her sit and with a casual wave of his hand silently closed the door to his study and took the seat in front of her.
They stared at each other for a long moment, and Harry suddenly felt a little nervous sitting in front of his grandmother, though she was still unaware of the relation.
"Oh my! Where are my manners?" Harry suddenly exclaimed. "Would you care for some tea?"
"That would be lovely my lord." She replied with a half-smile.
"Please, I have asked you before, call me Harry." Harry told her kindly.
"Winky!" Harry called out, and as if she had been listening in to the conversation, the diminutive elf appeared with the smallest of pops, with a full tea service and biscuits.
"Thank you Winky." Harry told the elf with genuineness.
"Yes, thank you…um Winky is it?" Rose asked.
"Yous' welcome miss, and I is Winky." The little elf curtsied in her toga. Rose smiled at the strange creature.
Harry prepared his tea with no sugar and with just a twist of lemon. He took a careful sip and found it to be the perfect temperature. He sighed contentedly and sank back into his chair closing his eyes.
Rose Evans watched the young man in front of her with great interest and with no small amount of curiosity. He was no older than sixteen yet he was a lord and acted like a man twice if not three time his age.
Harry slowly opened his eyes and found his grandmother's warm brown eyes staring back at him, and strangely enough it did not bother him in the least. She had a kind face and an approachable quality that he found very inviting.
Seeing the cane propped against the chair brought reality crashing down on Harry, Rose had just lost her husband and oldest daughter not four days ago, and though Harry was extremely busy with other family affairs which kept him from dwelling upon or even thinking about the tragedy, she had been recuperating and healing under the watchful eyes of Dorea and Aunt Cassie.
The events were still raw and fresh in her mind, she was physically healing at an astounding rate thanks to Dorea's healing expertise, but the emotional trauma was not so easily fixed. She had nearly lost everyone she had loved and though Lily spent most evenings with her and would sleep in the same bed, Harry knew that it would be a long process before she was truly well and whole.
"How are you doing?" Harry asked softly and immediately chastised himself for the stupid and insensitive question.
Rose caught the self-reproved look in the young man's eyes and smiled internally at his youthful and innocent verbal blunder.
"I'm coping a day at a time, Harry. Thank you for your concern." She replied earnestly.
Harry smiled sheepishly and then frowned. "I'm sorry…that I was not able to save…"
"You saved my little Lily, Harry. And for that I will be eternally grateful. From what Lily has told me about you, I know you would have tried to save my husb…" Rose suddenly choked on her words and her eyes filled with salty tears.
Harry was quickly out of his chair and kneeling in front of his grandmother clasping both her hands tenderly in his own. "I'm so sorry. I wish…" He whispered.
Rose cupped his cheek and smiled warmly at him through her tears. "I know Harry." She whispered. "Dorea has told me somewhat of your life, and from what I have heard, and what I can see in your eyes, I can tell you are a good man, and would have done everything you could have."
Harry looked down at the floor guiltily, here this wonderful woman was telling him what a good man he was and yet just a short time ago he was planning the annihilation of another family. The juxtaposition was stark.
Rose sensing Harry's self-accusatory silence, continued. "I know about what you're planning to do Harry." Harry looked up at her in shock.
"I was also told what had happened to your family in the past, and about the threat hovering over them today. And although I might not understand the complexities of this magical society, I know what an evil man with followers can do.
"I was very young, but I still remember the Blitz. My family lived in London, though my father was off to war, so it was just me and my mother. She was a nurse and felt that it was her duty to stay and help those who could not help themselves.
"Those were dark days in my life Harry, there was so much death and destruction. I cursed the name of Hitler every day, praying that god or someone would strike him down. If I had the power to stop that horror from taking place I would have.
"I look at your situation similarly, at least I try to. Your world is on the brink of war, add to that the families who wiped out your family still exist today and pose a potential threat, if I understand the politics correctly. Dorea has been educating me somewhat on pureblood politics. I like her by the way." Rose gave a quick smile.
Rose took a deep breath to center herself again before continuing. "My daughter, Harry, is a part of your world now, and from what I understand she is a member of your house. Which means she is in danger as well. She is all I have left Harry, and I want you to protect her, and if that means that you must destroy a hundred families, I want you to swear you'll do what's necessary to protect her."
Harry was beyond stunned at this new development, and seriously considered hexing Dorea for her blabbering. But Dorea he realized, had a sense about people that was unparalleled by anyone he knew, and so he knew if she had trusted Rose with these things, she had a very good reason for doing so.
Harry looked at his grandmother with hopeful eyes. "You don't think I'm a monster for…well you know." Harry asked.
She squeezed his hands tenderly. "No Harry, not that my opinion truly matters, but my heart tells me that I can trust you, and that what you are doing is simply protecting your family. That is something I understand."
"I consider you my family as well Rose. This is your home as long as you want it to be. I will do anything to make your stay here comfortable and happy."
"I know you will Harry." She stated as she made to get up. Harry helped her to her feet. "After all a grandmother should always feel welcome in her grandson's home." She looked piercingly at him.
Harry looked gob smacked at the redheaded woman in front of him. "Did you know that Lily talks in her sleep?" She smirked.
"…" Harry blinked owlishly.
"Dorea had entered my room this morning just as I had asked Lily about what she had said in her sleep; needless to say neither Dorea nor Lily would confirm or deny what Lily had spoken in her sleep. Dorea merely told me it was not her story to share, but that I should ask you.
"So please…Harry. Tell me, are you somehow my grandson, do I really have another family member to love?" She asked staring tearfully at him.
Harry stood and turned away from her and approached the large window just behind his desk that looked out upon the lush grounds surrounding the mansion. He closed his eyes tightly and sighed heavily.
"It would seem that fate has its own timeline for revealing my secrets." He laughed almost bitterly. Harry was then silent for several minutes as he stared out upon the grounds, and Rose did not interrupt him, allowing him to collect his thoughts.
At length she heard him speak in a low voice almost a whisper. "It is true, I am your grandson, but this…you knowing…complicates things."
Rose pressed her trembling lips together tightly in a bid to calm herself at his confirmation of what she had heard Lily speak. "I don't understand how this is all possible, but why does it complicate things? Did you not want me to know? Do you not want me to be your…" She asked urgently.
Harry quickly turned around and held up a hand to stop her. "I am very happy and honored that you are my grandmother, Rose. The how is a long story, but begins with a magical room and a thousand year old spirit of a castle. However, now is not the time to go into lengthy details." Harry told her gently.
"So explain to me this complication." She swallowed thickly.
Harry sighed and pushed his hands back through his hair. "There are people here, family and allies, which do not know about my true origins, and I rather they not know."
"I can keep our secret Harry." Rose insisted.
Harry smiled at her warmly. "I believe that you wouldn't purposefully disclose my identity, but here, while you're living amongst magicals, there is a danger of someone pulling it from your mind. There are people here that can view your surface thoughts at a glance, and others with greater skill that can enter your mind and shuffle through all your memories.
"It is illegal for someone to do so, but nevertheless it is still done. Andromeda, Bella's sister, to give you an example, has a gift that allows her to know when someone is being deceptive or false. If she were to ask you a direct question regarding our family relationship she would know immediately if you were telling the truth or not."
"Oh my!" Rose exclaimed.
"There is a solution to that particular problem." Harry looked up and Rose turned around to look at the new voice in the conversation.
Dorea Potter walked into the room with the grace of a queen. She was holding in her hand a rectangular velvet box. "Oh don't look so surprised Harry!" She addressed her grandson.
"How long have you been listening grandmother?" Harry asked the regal lady.
"I've been disillusioned since she first entered. I'm surprised you did not notice me."
"Grandmother!" Harry scolded. "Well, I was a little focused on Rose's presence. I didn't think I would have a spy in my own study." He smirked.
"Oh please dear, I may be a Potter in name now, but never forget that I am also a Black and we are most expert in the art of espionage." She smirked playfully.
"So what is it we can do for you grandmother?" Harry finally asked shaking his head.
"Well, I knew from my earlier conversation with Lady Rose here, that she would seek you out and discover for herself the truth of things. And without trying to sound too immodest, I knew in which direction this conversation would go and anticipated what your concerns would be. So, I have brought you a solution to your concern my dear Harry. A gift for the Lady Rose."
Dorea handed Rose the velvet box and bid her to open it. Rose gasped as she pulled from the box a sapphire pendant, laid in the brightest of silver settings. The stone was of the deepest blue at about four carats.
"The chain and setting is made of goblin silver which is charmed against summoning, if you look carefully at the stone, you will find within its center, etchings that we call runes. The construct of the sapphire amplifies the magic of the runes." Dorea explained.
"It's absolutely lovey, Lady Potter. But how does this help me?" Rose asked.
"Most pureblood children at least those from old families teach their children a technique called occlumency. It is a technique that allows us to block unwanted invasions into our thoughts by others.
"It is a difficult skill to master taking years to do so. Many families such as ours have many secrets that we wish to guard and protect, and a child's mind is quite easy to read, their thoughts are never far from the surface. So in order to safeguard those thoughts many families have charms such as this one, which blocks most legilimency attacks." She explained.
"What is Legilimency?"
"It is the technique used to enter your mind, dear. This amulet will protect you from all forms except from a direct attack from a particularly skilled witch or wizard. But it will block anyone who only tries a surface scan of your thoughts." She reassured the petite woman.
"T-thank you, Lady Potter." Rose stated gratefully.
"And now that you know that we are related, call me Dorea, when we are with family." The regal lady clarified. Rose nodded in understanding.
"Now I think we have had about enough excitement for now Rose. You are healing wonderfully, but you still need a few more days of rest before you are completely up to snuff. So let me help you back to your room." Dorea informed her threading her arm through one of Rose's.
"Thank you Dorea. We'll talk again soon Harry, if that's alright." Rose stated as she and Dorea walked to the door.
"I am always available to you…grandmother." Harry replied with a warm smile. Rose returned a watery smile back at him and then left with Dorea.
Harry fell back into his chair and drew his hand down his face massaging his head briefly. It had been a very long day already filled with plan making and familial surprises and he still had the Yule celebration to attend. Hopefully there would be no surprises waiting for him there.
The quick vibrato of violins filled the air and the thumping tattoo of a dozen bodhrans excited the hearts of all, squeeze boxes, pipes, flutes, all resonated merrily in every soul as the village square was alive with music, dancing, and merry making.
Children were squealing with delight as performers thrilled them with magnificent displays of magical fireworks, puppet shows where the marionettes were animated to move and perform on their own. Prepared foods and sweets of all kinds were devoured and shared amongst friends and families.
The earth was moving to the stomping feet of young lads and twirling dresses of young lasses of every age, each celebrating life, love, and family. Everyone seemed to be reveling in the magic of the night.
Harry wore a genuine smile as he looked out over his people, his family. This to him was worth all the gold in every vault of Gringotts. This was how life was meant to be. Free from worry of attacks, bigots, and pureblood politics. Simply living life to its fullest with those you love.
Bella was dragging him eagerly to where the dancing was taking place. Placing one of his hands on her hips and holding the other up and out, she began to drag him twirling around the dance floor, kicking up her heels. Her dark ringlets bounced around her face and shoulders, her green eyes much like his now sparkled with joy and happiness as the moved through the other couples. She looked absolutely stunning, he had rarely seen this giddy side of her and he found that it made her simply irresistible.
Harry began to chuckle out loud when Bella had pointed out James trying to work up the courage to ask Lily to dance. He was standing about ten feet down from her just staring at her. Every few seconds he would work up enough courage to take a few steps toward her but then stop and turn around and curse himself for his failure.
Harry was initially surprised to see so many youth in the village, and asked Bella if she recognized any of them from Hogwarts. She had told him that Hogwarts was out of the price range for most magicals, only those from wealthy families could truly afford it, the rest went to some of the other smaller schools of magic.
There were four other schools throughout the country and two more in Ireland that most wizarding families sent their children to. As Harry looked around he did see a girl of about twelve or thirteen years of age that looked familiar.
"Do you who that girl is over there near the punch table?" Harry asked his wife. "The one with light brown hair with the blue ribbon tied in it.
Bella turned and looked and she indeed recognized the girl. "Oh, yes, she does go to Hogwarts actually. Her name is Alice Sombra, she's a third year in Gryffindor. Andi has her as a lab partner in Herbology I believe. She is actually dating the Longbottom heir, Francis, or Frank as he likes to be called, if the rumor mill is true." She said.
"Look at her eyes Bella! They're Eveningshade green; for her to have that color she must have access to the family magic." Harry commented.
"We'll have to talk to her. The Longbottoms are allies with the Potters, but if she marries into that family we could form an alliance as well, and strengthen the Eveningshade political support. But! That will have to wait for another day, because I am enjoying this night with my sexy husband and politics is not an allowed topic of conversation." She grinned as she twirled under Harry's arm and pressed herself against his chest, kissing him passionately.
"Now, dip me lover boy!" She gave him her best seductive smile, he promptly dipped her and placed a playful kiss where her should and neck meet, much to her delight.
Christmas morning came very early for the residents of Eveningshade Mansion, many of whom were suffering from the after effects of last night's merriment. Including a very grounded Sirius Black who had managed to get a hold of several pints of mead, and had three up rather spectacularly on his mother's costly acromantula silk robes.
Needless to say that his mother Walburga was not amused by what her oldest son had done, by bringing assumed shame upon their family name by his unacceptable behavior. He was not allowed to visit the village for the rest of the holiday break, which was a compromise hard fought for by Sirius whose mother wanted to have him flogged.
The Potter's, Blacks, and Eveningshades all gathered in the large family room, where gifts were exchanged and hang over draughts were downed. After everyone had been completely sobered up and gifts opened everyone slowly filtered out and went about their day until they would meet for the family dinner that evening.
Harry and Bella made their way back to the warm blankets and soft mattress of their bedroom, divesting themselves of what clothing they had on and quickly melting into each other's embrace. This was their first Yule as a couple and in their own home, and they meant to spend it in the most lascivious fashion possible.
Harry awoke sometime later with Bella's warm body pressed against his; he loved the velvety softness of her breasts as they pressed into his chest and the suppleness of her leg that lay across his waist, he even liked the way her hair tickled his nose as her head lay snuggled into his neck.
Checking the time with a quick tempus spell he discovered that it was near three-thirty in the afternoon, they had returned to their bedroom around ten a.m. so they had been up here roughly for five hours not that he minded but he had promised Rose and Lily that he and Bella would meet with them to give his grandmother the full story of his time travel and his life before coming to 1971.
They say confession is good for the soul, but how do you tell your grandmother and mother what hell your life had been in your time and who it was that caused his childhood to be so terrible. He believed it was bad to speak ill of the dead, and Petunia in this reality was dead and it would serve no purpose or good to speak ill of her now. So maybe an edited version would be better, than the unvarnished truth. Yep, that was what he would do; as Arcturus had stated earlier it is better to let sleeping dogs lay.
Time Jump: January 1st, 1972, 2:16 a.m., McNair Manor
They had been lucky, the wards had been turned off while the party was going on, and were now just coming back up as the last guests left. But they were well inside the wards now and would not trip the boundary wards that encircled the manor. All they had to deal with now was the wards on the home itself, but with Harry's Eveningshade ability to pass through wards, he would be inside with no one the wiser.
The raiding party consisted of Harry and Bella, Orion and Cygnus, and Dorea. Also in their company were two men from the village. Both Eveningshade descendants, the oldest was Jacob Cysgod, 44, his family had fled to Australia soon after the 1810 massacre. He was a bounty hunter and had the Eveningshade ability of accelerated speed that made him one of the best in the business, always catching his targets off guard by his swiftness. He rarely killed his targets but he had no problems taking a life if it was necessary and had done so on many occasions.
The second man was Anthony Tonalita, 38 years old. Like Jacob's family, his fled, but to Sicily where they became successful fishermen. Antonio had enlisted in the Italian army at seventeen and had joined their elite special forces of the Ninth Regiment the 'Col Moschin'.
He had retired after twenty years and felt the call to return to England and Night's End where his great grandfather had been born. He was a warding expert, gifted really; he had an uncanny ability to bring down even the most complicated of ward schemes.
It was an Eveningshade gift that allowed him to see the individual magical lines that connected each ward stones to the keystone which powered all wards. With practiced alacrity and skill he could manipulate the magical energy within seconds, effectively disabling them.
The two men had been recommended to Harry by Lilith and immediately had been welcomed into the strike team.
The night was overcast; blocking the moon's light from revealing the various silhouettes that surrounded the manor. Each individual briefed on their particular responsibility. Arcturus had briefed them on the layout of the home, having been their many times himself.
The family bedrooms were all on the third floor while guest accommodations were on the second. The ground floor consisted of a large formal hall for gatherings, a ball room, a library, and the lord of the manor's study, a formal dining hall and a smaller dining room for more intimate settings. Below the ground floor were the kitchens, and house elf quarters. They were known to have two elves.
Arcturus informed them that it was customary for the entire main family to stay in the manor during Yule and other holidays, and that they should expect anywhere from fifteen to twenty people, including the two under aged grandchildren.
The stillness of the night air, drew Harry into self-reflection as he considered what he was about to do. He found himself in conflict with his self, realizing that he was about to wipeout an entire family, but for what cause? Revenge? For crimes they have or have not yet committed? Could he really justify to himself that he was judge, jury and executioner?
As he warred with himself he heard the distinct caw of a crow somewhere behind him, he glanced over his shoulder looking up at a low hanging branch of a large oak. Perched upon the branch was a large crow who's black eyes stared at him unblinkingly, it spread its wings and dived off the branch and fluidly changed forms into the now familiar a visage of the Crone.
"My Lady." Harry kneeled on the cold ground and bowed his head in deference to the Goddess Morrigan.
"FOOLISH BOY! Why do you worry your mind with such nonsense?!" The harsh voice of the ancient woman admonished.
"M-my lady, I-I only fear that I may be crossing a line, hurting the innocent, punishing those who had no part in the murdering's of the past." Harry breathed.
"Foolish boy, this is not only about vengeance or retribution! This is about balancing the scales, righting the injustice of our people!" She said in a feral voice, she walked toward him, again her appearance changing to that of the seductress he had laid with at Samhain.
She circled him like a shark in water. "Do you hear that Harry?" She asked as she continued her orbit. Harry looked at her confused.
"I hear nothing my lady." He replied keeping his eyes down.
"You hear nothing?" She mocked. "Do you know what I hear my lover? I hear the voices of over a thousand souls of your kin, crying out from the dust, their blood demanding justice! Did your enemy worry about the innocent, the WEAK, OR THE OLD, OR THE CHILDREN!
"Let me reassure you that they did not! What you are doing is bringing balance to that which was skewed, forcing equilibrium back from those who wronged you and yours. But if that is not enough for you, shall I remind you of the world you came from, the war that stole your family.
"Here in this very manor are those who have and will kill the innocent, just like those who killed your maternal grandfather and aunt. They will not stop till the wizarding world is torn asunder, and everyone they deem unworthy to possess magic.
"Is this not why the Lady Hogwarts brought you here? To stop the threat before it grows too powerful, to save those innocents who are targeted merely by the happenstance of their birth?! To bring ORDER TO THE CHAOS!
"HERE HARRY! Here is where you make your choice! Here is where your destiny begins! Take up your wand Harry, and fulfill your destiny, rain down hell upon all those who would rise against you and threaten that which you love and cherish. Be my warrior Harry, and bring magical balance back to all people who possess it!"
Harry lifted his head and the Morrigan smiled in satisfaction as she witnessed the emerald flames within his eyes burn brightly and with an intensity of pure resolve and determination.
Harry stood proudly and bowed to his goddess. "Blessed be thy name, I shall not fail you or my family." The Morrigan grinned and nodded her acceptance of his pledge. She raised her arms quickly changing instantly into the form of the crow and flew quickly from site.
Harry turned back to the manor and let his instincts take over. Soon a cold dense mist spread out across the manor grounds leaving the manor as if an island in a sea of fog. It was the signal to the others to move forward.
The team of seven all dressed in gray cloaks that seamlessly blended with the swirling mist around them made their way unseen to the very walls of the manor. Dorea, and Anthony cast their own anti-apparition, and portkey wards. The floo would have to be taken care of once they entered. According to Arcturus there were only two active floos in the manor.
The first was in the main receiving hall located on the main floor just left of the front doors of the manor. The second was in the west wing of the manor, Lord McNair's study. Orion and Cygnus would head to each one respectively. Harry and Bella would then head to the third floor and stun or render any family there.
Anthony and Jacob would search the second floor and take care of anyone there. Dorea would remain at the entrance and would be responsible for the two minor children when they were found. She also had another task that would create a misdirected suspicion on who had attacked the manor.
Harry approached the front door and concentrated intensely but briefly before stepping right through the solid and warded door. He decided that the feel of passing through solid objects was much like striking your funny bone but having that stinging feeling all over your body. Not very pleasant.
Harry looked around the empty receiving room, gaining his bearing and taking in the vast wealth on display. He smirked thinking that a major financial backer of Voldemort would no longer be contributing to the dark wizard.
He felt a sudden small spike in magic as two house elves popped in front of him with their hands raised toward him. That split second of warning was all Harry needed and had stunned both elves before they could effectively react to his presence.
Harry then felt the remaining wards fall around him and the front doors open allowing the rest of his team in. Without further word each went to his assigned area and task, Bella and Harry quickly moved up the large staircase quickly passing by the second floor and within moments was on the landing of the third floor.
The family suites were in the west wing so they turned with their hoods over their heads and made their way carefully down the hall. They were about to turn the corner when Harry stuck out his arm to stop Bella's movement.
She looked at him inquiringly. He placed his hand on the wall and cocked his head before turning back to Bella. "Wards." He whispered with a smile. "A localized barrier ward, just around the corner. Ah, and we have guests." He smirked.
With their eyes glowing that well known killing curse green, Bella and Harry stepped confidently around the corner. Twenty feet down the hall the two teens saw their targets all conveniently watching them behind a magical barrier. There were four men at the fore with wands drawn and pointed at Harry and Bella. At the very back of the hall were about seven women of various ages and five more men all with their wands out.
Harry grinned in satisfaction as everyone had taken a step back as they saw the two gray cloaked individuals with the glowing green eyes below their cowl come into view. "How fortunate, that you have all made yourselves available to us." Harry said in disguised voice that echoed through the hall.
"I don't know who you are, but you have made a grave error entering my home." Shouted a man, who looked to be in his early seventies if not older.
"Lord McNair I presume." Harry mocked bowed.
"Who are you and what are you doing here!" He demanded.
"Consider me a ghost from the past, my lord. I've come to collect on a very old debt." He grinned but with his hood up no one noticed.
"You are trespassing and if you do not leave this instant I will be forced to remove you by force!"
Harry chuckled as two explosions were heard coming from the main floor, the floos being destroyed, and then several screams from the floor below. "Did you hear that my lord? That was the sound of the beginning of the end of your House and line." Harry said coldly.
"I am quite safe from you behind these wards you filth! Even now my elves will be returning with help, and believe me you will not live much longer once my lord arrives!"
Harry snapped his fingers and the two immobilized House Elves he had stunned earlier now lay in front of his feet. "Do you mean these elves?" Harry mocked.
"Tsk tsk, I guess your master won't be coming. Voldemort, isn't it?" Harry mockingly asked.
"Not to worry, I will be dealing with him soon enough." Harry hissed almost sounding like parcel tounge.
"What is this supposed wrong that I have committed against you?!" McNair asked trying to seem defiant.
Harry stepped closer to the barrier, his eyes glowing brighter. Your House, and twelve others, tried to commit genocide against my House, and was nearly successful. Ring any bells?" Harry asked in a growl.
"Let me give you a hint, it happened one hundred and sixty years ago."
"E-Eveningshade?!" He whispered disbelievingly.
"I'm glad you remember, it will make this so much more satisfying." Harry stated coldly. Just then the barrier flickered and then failed.
"Thank you Anthony." Harry stated softly as Anthony and Jacob turned the corner. Anthony had taken down the ward as his Lord spoke with the filth who were cowering behind it.
"Now where were we?" Harry asked malevolently as he faced the McNairs.
The first aurors on the seen the next morning were still shaking with horror at the sight of a semi-circle of twenty two heads placed on the ground looking up at the body of Lord William McNair. It had been determine by curse experts that he had been hit with a slow working withering curse.
Investigators would state in their reports that it was most likely that Lord McNair had been alive when he was staked into the ground and had to look upon the lifeless faces of his kinsmen until the curse took him completely. Another oddity was the message left, carved into his chest. "AND THEN THERE WERE 12!"
The auror's reported that the decapitated bodies had all been lined up as well, several feet away with twelve of the bodies having a tattoo on their exposed left forearms. The same tattoo, which had been on the arms of several terrorists, that had been either captured or killed over the last few months.
"What does this mean?" Asked a horrified Amelia Bones to her mentor and partner.
"Obviously someone is sending a message." Alastor Moody replied with a huff as he was going over the identification reports in his hand.
"But what is the message, and to whom?" She asked as she took in the charred remains of McNair Manor.
"Captain Moody sir!" An red cloaked auror came walking over swiftly.
"What is it Gilchrist?" Moody asked curtly.
"We found three more bodies sir!" The auror told him.
"More McNairs?" Amelia asked.
"No, we don't believe so. The bodies are mostly intact. We believe they may have been part of the group that attacked the McNair's."
"Show me!" Moody growled and he and Amelia followed the other Auror.
"They were found nearby the back entrance to the manor. It looks like the McNair's did put up some kind of defense fight." He replied pointing out the three bodies.
Moody and Amelia knelt over the bodies to get a better look at them. "Do you recognize them?" Amelia asked.
Moody scowled and flipped one of the bodies over with a wave of his wand to get a better look at him and then the others. "Two of them look familiar, can't place where I know them from though. The third I can't place at all."
"Look at this sir!" Amelia said pointing to a small tattoo on each man's right wrist.
"Looks to be a tattoo of a small dog." Gilchrist stated.
"Nope…it's a fox." Moody stated thoughtfully.
"Gilchrist! Make sure this is in your report. I believe what we have here might be a rival group of the Death Eaters." Moody informed him matter-of-factly.
"Sir, that's quite an assumption to make." Amelia commented to her mentor.
"Not an assumption Ami, a lead that we need to explore. I want the description of that tattoo out to all media sources." He told her.
"But, sir?! If we leak that information it could compromise our investigation! And if it is a rival group it might force them to ground and we'd never find them."
"Or!" Moody said tersely to his young protégé. "It will cause these Death Eaters to expose themselves by looking for this other group for some payback, and we follow the trail they leave behind. That way we get information on both organizations and we bring them down at once."
Amelia wasn't so sure of this plan, but she trusted her mentor and would defer to his years of experience and training.
Alastor Moody looked out over what could be considered a battlefield. The aurors under his command gathering what evidence they could. The bodies had been identified and tag and were being sent to the morgue beneath St. Mungos for further investigation.
"So it begins." He whispered. "I hope you know what you and that grandson of yours is doing Dorea." With that last thought he turned on the spot and disapparated. It was going to be a very long day and he had a bottle of Ogden's Finest with his name written on it back in his office.
A/N: Well I hoped you enjoyed the chapter. I know some of you will be upset with how Harry acted in this chapter and will say it is completely out of character for him. Or at least it was too sudden of a change.
But I think I have provided sufficient reasons for why Harry would suddenly take a harder outlook on what he is doing in this time. With the recent Kings Cross incident, coupled with what has already happened in Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade and the slap in the face with a heavy dose of reality from the Goddess and I think I have created an evolution of sorts for Harry's change in attitude.
As always, your reviews, thoughts and critiques are welcomed and encouraged. Flames are ignored but well thought out and explained criticism is accepted and considered.
Stay tuned as the fallout of this incident is felt in all camps! Thanks again for reading my little story!