The Time of Consequences.
Disclaimer: This is a work of Fan Fiction set within the Harry Potter universe. As such all Characters and Locations belong to J.K. Rowling and this work is not being produced for commercial gain.
I remind you this is an M rated story. I don't really do gratuitous but it just allows freedom for the villains to be villains.
This is a continuation of Time and a Snorckark, it would be better to read that first.
Clare looked out through her own eyes as she appeared in Knockturn Alley. She attempted to regain control of her movements but felt laughter as her reward.
"Fool. Do you think to test the will of Lord Voldemort? Once you allowed me the freedom to use your voice, I could have done this any time, but I was content to wait. Now shut up and stop distracting me."
She had suspected for some time that the ghost she had allowed to possess her was not Quirrell, but this revelation was too terrifying to contemplate. She watched now as she approached a stranger. He appeared the worse for drink and stumbled as he made his way towards them.
Voldemort approached his victim. "Imperio," he commanded. "Hand over your money pouch." The wizard handed over a small pouch to Voldemort, who tucked it away. "Now run as fast as you can into that wall." After watching his command carried out, Voldemort wandered over to the now unconscious figure. He quickly modified his memory so that he would recall being battered by Lucius Malfoy and left him lying in the gutter. He now had enough money for lodgings for the night, and that would be all this body would require.
Sitting in a small room above the Leaky Cauldron, he took time to evaluate his plan. He had two goals, always the same two. Immortality and power. The stone would have given him both, but that avenue was closed to him. Albus might be a fool when it came to power, but he wasn't stupid enough to leave the stone in the same place once it was obvious he was after it.
Still, he had immortality of a sort at the moment: he certainly couldn't die in this form, and there were always weak-minded fools he could possess. Next, rather than a stupid schoolgirl, he would take someone with more influence.
Sirius put down the mirror, ending the call from Hallam. He could barely believe the news he had been given. He looked at Luna, who was staring white-faced at her shoes.
"I take it this was not part of your timeline?" asked Sirius.
"What? Filch, savaged to death? A schoolgirl missing, or the fight on the second floor between a Cerberus and a troll? I think I might have mentioned at least one of those events if I knew about them beforehand."
"What is that fool playing at?" Sirius demanded." Allowing a Cerberus anywhere near children. I've got a good mind to pull Harry and Hermione out of that school. I'll be visiting Amelia in the morning, and I doubt I'll be the only one when this news breaks."
Luna just nodded. After excusing herself, she took the floo back to her home. She immediately went off to find her father. She knew, left to herself, she would start to blame herself for Filch's death. They had known about Fluffy and just left it be. Her dad had pulled her out of her last depression; better to speak to him before the new one took hold.
Early the next morning, Sirius waited patiently in Amelia's receptionist area. He was flirting with the receptionist, a young witch named Carol, when Amelia admitted him to her office.
"I take it this is your weekly check up on me, Lord Black?" Amelia joked, but there was hardness in her eyes.
"No, I wish it was that simple. Have you heard about the events in Hogwarts last night yet?" Sirius asked, taking a seat in front of Amelia's desk. For once he sat upright rather than slouching down.
"I – we've heard nothing from there. Is there a problem?" A hint of worry came into her voice.
"Yes, you could say that. Before you ask, I know Harry is fine and I've heard nothing to indicate anything has happened to Susan. I've got good sources in there, Amelia, I would know." Some of the tension left Amelia's face as Sirius spoke. "That's not to say that no one was hurt. Last night, during the Halloween feast, a troll got into the castle. The students were sent back to their common rooms."
"What? Why?" Amelia interrupted Sirius. "Surely the thing to do would be to keep everyone in the hall – some staff there and some staff to go looking for the troll."
"It gets worse. Before sending the students back to their common rooms, it was noticed that a seventh year Hufflepuff was missing. While all the students were moving across the school, somehow, to add to the confusion, a Cerberus was also running around .
"Oh, Merlin, you've got to be joking! A Cerberus, in a school? How many?" The disbelief was clear to hear in Amelia's voice. She ran her fingers through her hair as she spoke, a clear sign to those who knew her that she was starting to feel stressed.
"Pardon?" Sirius asked. "How many, what?"
"How many were hurt?" Amelia clarified.
"As far as I know, the Cerberus chased the caretaker's cat and cornered it. Filch came to his cat's rescue, only, it was a very short rescue. It tore him to pieces. Then the troll turned up, attracted by the smell of blood."
"Please tell me this is one of your sick jokes."
Sirius grimly shook his head. "Anyway, the staff had turned up by then, although even they were startled by what they saw. The second floor corridor had turned into a battle zone. The Cerberus killed the troll, and Snape and Hallam killed the Cerberus."
"Alright, let me get this straight. In Hogwarts School," Amelia emphasised the word school as she spoke, "a place we are frequently told is the safest place in the country, a troll and a Cerberus wander around, a member of staff is killed, and a girl goes missing? How certain are you of your facts? Someone's career ends today, and I'd rather it not be mine."
"Hallam reports to me. I've got him there to keep Harry safe. I was on-site myself, once I found out about the troll. I heard what I now know to be Filch's screams. Hallam then reported to me about the Cerberus. I'm certain there is enough there to investigate."
"Carol!" Amelia shouted. "Get Scrimgeour in here, now. Then tell Fudge I've got a major incident. This is going political." Amelia turned to Sirius. "Is there anything else?"
Sirius shook his head.
"Then you best leave, unless you want to explain to Fudge that you have an army of informants. " As Sirius got up to leave, Amelia spoke again, this time in a more conversational tone. "Thank you, Sirius."
Sirius left the building, noting the increased busyness of the aurors as he moved through the department. It looked as if someone was in for a bad day, he mused to himself as he headed for the apparation points.
Clare's day was not going well. Trapped as a passenger in her own body, Voldemort forced her onward through London. She hadn't eaten since lunch time yesterday, and he was making her walk too fast. While she had no control over her body, it seemed that she was getting all the pain impulses sent to her. She ached in more places than she could bother to count after last night's fall, and now this morning's exertions were starting to take their toll.
They headed towards Whitehall, negotiating a busy London street. To add to Clare's misery, it was raining: a cold, wet, relentless drizzle that made it seem that the whole sky was full of water. Her hair was plastered to her head and her school uniform gave her no protection from the elements. She shivered as the autumn wind, channelled through the buildings that loomed like a concrete canyon, ripped through her.
She was numbed now by tiredness and temperature. She wished to stop, to have control over her body. As if her wishes had been answered, she came to a stop and she felt her body was her own again. She swept back her hair from her eyes just in time to see the delivery van speed around the corner towards her.
Voldemort found himself a spirit again. This time was without the strange blackout he had experienced on the last two occasions. He was still where he wanted to be: next to the Ministry of Magic. He cautiously entered the building, alert to any wards that might attempt to slow or capture him, but nothing prevented his progress.
Fudge headed back to his office, not concentrating on where he was walking. He was trying to come to terms with what Amelia had just told him. Albus had a Cerberus in Hogwarts. Someone had died, and a student was missing: thankfully only a squib and a Muggle-born, but still. Amelia intended to investigate and possibly arrest Dumbledore. Arrest the Chief Warlock? It was without precedent.
What should he do? His first impulse was to send an owl to Albus to ask him, but that might not be the best plan. Should he send for Lucius? He always gave such excellent advice. While he had been walking, his legs had been on autopilot and he found himself his office. He poured himself a brandy and swirled it around his glass. The flash of the colours through the crystal calmed him slightly, and he took a deep breath of the aroma as it drifted up. Closing his eyes, he took a sip of the liquid. He swirled it across his tongue, taking in all the flavours before swallowing and allowing the warming of the spirits to take effect.
Opening his eyes, he started to violently cough at the sight of the spirit in front of him. Hovering in front of him was a barely visible figure of a man. "It looks, Cornelius, as if you are making the same mistakes as I did." It didn't exactly speak so that he could hear it, but the words seemed to appear within his head.
"Who are you? What do you mean?" Fudge managed to splutter once he was able to speak. Ghosts were not exactly an unusual sight in the wizarding world, but it was very strange to see one within the ministry and within his own office at that.
"I am Unctuous Osbert, and I too was a puppet for the Malfoys when I sat in your chair."
Fudge sat straight in his chair. "I don't know what you mean. I'm Minister for Magic, and I make my own decisions."
A faint smile could be seen on the spirit's face. "You don't have to lie to me, you know. I've been where you are. I know what it's like. Out of my depth; pulled to and fro by bigger forces. Played like a fiddle by a Malfoy." Voldemort watched the impact of his words on Fudge. He had gone from upright to slumped forward in defeat. Now was the time to make his offer.
"I can help you. I have experience to give to you. If you allow me, I can give you my memories; I can advise you. With me to help, you can really rule. Not Albus Dumbledore or Lucius Malfoy, but you. I can show you how to really use the power you have."
Voldemort paused, watching his words have an impact on Fudge. He had shown the bait; now he needed Fudge to allow him in. He could force his way into someone, he knew, but to really control them he needed to be allowed to possess them. Quirrell had known this, and while he was a passenger in his body he had never been able to take full control of him. With Clare, he could have taken her over at any time. He was hoping for Fudge to make the same mistake she had.
"Or you could continue as you are, blown by the winds of political fortune. Clinging to those with more wisdom than you. I can help you change that. You can be your own man if you allow me to help"
"W...what, what do I have to do, how will you help?" Fudge stuttered over the words.
Yes, I have him Voldemort fought to keep the triumph out of his voice. "It is a simple thing: you just have to allow me in. I can feed my memories straight into your head. Give you lessons within your mind, teach you to see other people's weaknesses, keep that stutter out of your voice. But only if you allow me in."
"What do I have to do?"
"Just focus your magic as if casting a spell and say 'come into me'; it is an easy thing." Voldemort watched Fudge; he was doing to do this, the fool. His servitude would begin soon.
Fudge took a deep breath and sat up straight in his chair. "Come into me."
As Fudge said the last syllable, Voldemort allowed himself to lose the vague shape of a man he had been holding. As a swirling cloud of mist he moved into Fudge. Moving up into his mouth, through his body, into his mind, making sense of the man's memories, taking note of all that was useful. Oh dear, it looks as if Albus is in for a bad day, he chuckled to himself.
"So, Cornelius, let's get the new you established. Call your secretary in."
"Dolores, could you come in here, please?" Fudge shouted.
"No, Cornelius, that was not the way to do it. One does not ask of underlings; one commands. Let me speak through you and I will show you how it is done," Voldemort scolded him.
"If you want," Fudge agreed. Voldemort couldn't believe this weak-minded fool. That schoolgirl had shown more resistance than the man who had become Minister for Magic. He had been allowed in of the man's free will, and now he was willingly allowing him to speak for him. That was all he needed.
Fudge looked down for a moment, and Voldemort looked up at the thing in front of him. She wore a pink fluffy cardigan over her ministry robes.
"Hmm hmm. You called, Minister?"
"Ah, yes, Dolores. Call Lucius for me. Tell him I want to see him immediately, I have some news that will be to his profit, and, Dolores, I can't stress the immediately enough. I want him here within the next half hour."
His commands issued, he started to shift through the paperwork on Fudges desk. Glancing up, he watched the secretary shift from foot to foot. "Was there anything about those instructions you didn't understand?"
"Then why aren't you doing them?"
He smiled to himself as she rather abruptly left the room. Underlings were useful, but they needed firm management. If you weren't careful, they started thinking for themselves, and the next thing you knew they started to take independent action.
Turning his mind inward, he found Cornelius. "That was how you treat underlings. Not that you will ever get the chance again. I rule this body, and I will soon have this country as I want it."
He turned his mind away from Fudge's pathetic whimpering. One last thing to do now. He concentrated and he ensured that all the body's pain impulses went to Fudge and not him. A little test was required. Opening the desk drawer, he placed his hand in it. Leaning back on his chair, he suddenly dropped forward, hitting the open drawer with his knee and sending it slamming back into his hand.
A satisfactory test; he felt no pain. Looking at his hand critically, it certainly seemed that his fingers were broken from the angle at which they now bent. Checking on Cornelius, he found the man was crying like a baby. Some people had no dignity even within their own heads. Still, it would be best if no one saw his injuries. Taking Cornelius's wand, he quickly healed the damage to his fingers and returned to looking through the paperwork on the desk.
Luna awoke to a buzzing in her ears. Her sleep had been restless and full of troubling dreams. While she might give intellectual consent to the idea that not everything that had happened was her fault, she still couldn't help but feel responsible every time something happened.
The buzzing grew louder as she got up out of her bed. She came awake as she reached for her mirror and saw Harry and Hermione looking back at her.
"Are you alright? Is there a problem?" she asked, not bothering to keep the worry out of her voice.
"We're safe, Luna, don't panic. We are just going a little stir crazy here. We're still locked into our common room, and nobody's telling us anything. We've tried to contact Sirius, but once he found out we were safe, he had to go." Harry didn't bother to keep the reproach out of his voice.
"Okay, I honestly can't tell you what is going on there at the moment. But I will tell you what I know about last night." Luna then told them about the events of last night: about the troll and the Cerberus, about the missing seventh year, and lastly about Filch's death.
Hermione gasped in horror at that last detail, but Harry watched Luna with a concerned expression.
"How are you holding up?" he asked her. "I know you tend to blame yourself if things go wrong."
Luna considered telling him she was fine, but knew he would see straight through her. "Honestly, Harry, I can cope. I know on one level it's not my fault, but on another..." she trailed off. Then she remembered something her dad had told her. "Harry, could you do something for me? Please?"
"Luna, you know you only have to ask."
She smiled; ah, noble brave Harry always shines through. "Tell me about your friends in Hogwarts. You, too, Hermione." She saw the look the two of them shared. "I'm not trying to change the subject, but to know that you are making friends and enjoying yourselves helps me to see the good side of my meddling."
So Harry told Luna about Mike, Terry, Kev and Tony: about the slobby habits of a group of eleven-year-old boys left to their own devices; how Tony was the tidy one by comparison; about the intense but good-natured arguments about religion between Terry and Tony; about Kev's interest in the new bands that he knew about in Manchester; how he and Mike were the quiet ones of the group.
Hermione told Luna about the girls she shared a dorm with: the good-natured teasing she got about being a southerner in a room of girls from the north. Padma was the queen of the group and kept the others in line if they took things too far. Hermione enjoyed the teasing; for once it wasn't about her being a teacher's pet or a know-it-all.
Much to Harry's discomfort, Hermione then told Luna all about Harry's crush on Sally-Anne.
Luna watched Harry to check that they weren't taking things too far. "Do you like her, Harry?"
Harry sighed in exasperation, "Yes, Luna, I think she's very nice, and pretty, too."
Hermione leaned in and whispered, " Harry thinks her hair is like liquid sunshine."
Harry rolled his eyes at Hermione's breach of confidence. This was what he got for having two girls as best friends.
"Are you going to ask her out, Harry?" Luna asked.
"I don't know, Luna, is it worth it? What I mean is, do you know if it will work out between us? You know my future. Is this the right thing to do?"
Luna was rocked by Harry's questions. Would he really hold off on a relationship that she didn't think would work? She took a moment to gather her thoughts. "I don't know your future, Harry. What I know are the things that happened to someone else called Harry Potter." She watched him frown as he tried to understand that.
"I will tell you some things I know about that Harry. That Harry lived with the Dursleys until he was seventeen. He never heard a positive word said to him or knew what it was to be loved. When he was sorted, he went to Gryffindor. For the first three months, he only had one friend; then that developed to two. But that was it; it was only the trio. He spoke to others, but no one ever really saw his real emotions. I did once, in fifth year, after someone close to him died, but that was a one-off.
"You, Harry, are not that person. You have lived with the Tonks and Sirius, who all love you and aren't afraid to show it. You could have gone to any house, but you fit in well in Ravenclaw. We are having this conversation, and you sat there while Hermione teased you about a possible girlfriend. The Harry I knew would have left in anger at that betrayal by two friends. So the Harry I knew didn't date Sally-Anne, but you have already done lots of things that the Harry I knew didn't.
"Do I think it will work out? Probably not, but only because not many people start a lifelong relationship at eleven. Does that mean I think you shouldn't ask her out? It's entirely up to you. I don't think you will marry the same person that you did in my time, which goes for both of you. So, please, never ask me for relationship advice based on the fact that I might know something more than the average person." Luna watched the two as they tried to digest that information.
"Have you ever heard of chaos theory?" Luna asked. She watched as they shook their heads. "Oh, it will be all the rage soon. One of the aspects of chaos theory says things like a butterfly that flaps its wings in China causes a hurricane on the other side of the world. But events are unpredictable and influenced by factors too small to understand." Luna smiled suddenly as she realised what she was saying.
Hermione caught on, too. "So, Luna, are you still to blame for last night's events, or should we blame butterflies?"
"I think we will blame the butterflies. Thank you, guys." Luna ended the call not long after that. Everything was different: some for good, some for bad, but she would just have to live with it. This wasn't her world anymore; she would just have to work on making it better.
Voldemort looked up from the reports he was reading. The trouble with possession was that he only knew what Fudge knew. It turned out that Fudge was not a detail-oriented man. How could he hope to plan with these gaps in his knowledge? As it was, he looked at the door in annoyance as someone knocked for a second time.
"Enter," he called out. He had spoken quite severely to the thing in reception when she had entered without knocking to tell him Lucius was on his way. It had taken most of his willpower not to Crucio her. Still, it would happen. He would find out if she was useful first. Find out her weaknesses and desires, then play her as he played everyone else. There would soon be a vacancy in his ranks.
Dolorous put her head around the doorway. "Hmm hmm. Minister, Lucius Malfoy is here to see you."
He smiled in genuine pleasure. "Thank you. Send him in, and see that no one interrupts us."
Lucius entered the room, looking around it with propriety gaze. He was dressed in the finest velvets in his characteristic black, his pale hair shining in contrast. As he shut the door behind him, he looked across the desk at Voldemort, a faint sneer on his face. "You sent for me, Minister?"
"Yes, Lucius. Some information has come my way that I think you will find profitable. But it is not for all to know. Could you be a good chap and ensure us some privacy? Can't have the staff overhearing us."
Lucius took out his wand and cast privacy charms .Voldemort nodded; he was doing a good job. The charms should ensure no sound escaped the room. Now, to test them.
As Lucius turned around to face him, he hesitated as he saw that Fudge too had his wand out.
"Crucio." Voldemort watched as Lucius fell to the floor; he stood and walked around the desk to see him better. He kept the spell on him the whole time. Lucius's wand had fallen out of his hand, and he absently kicked it out of his reach. He stopped casting for a second.
"Oh, come now, Lucius. You can do better than that. I want to test if the room really is soundproof. Scream for me, Lucius. Crucio." He cast again, keeping the spell on Lucius for a minute longer.
"Hurts, doesn't it, Lucius? You need to learn to embrace pain. I have seen your future, and it's looking bleak. Crucio."
He kept the spell on him for two minutes this time. "I have to wonder: why are you holding out? Crucio." A ten second blast, a pause, and then: "Crucio."
He was watching Lucius intently the man was curled up in a ball at his feet, his hands held tightly to his chest, his lips pulled back showing his teeth in a deaths head grin, that had nothing to do with humour. Finally he gave into the curse that was shredding his nervous system and screamed in pain.
Voldemort smiled; good, his will was wearing away. Holding the spell for a space of ten heartbeats more, he finally released it. Lucius looked up from where he lay on the floor; tears showed on his face and he panted as he breathed. His limbs shook as the effects of the repeated Crucios played across his nervous system. His eyes crossed slightly as they tried to focus on the wand that was held just in front of his face.
"Imperio." While torturing Lucius might be amusing, he hadn't just been enjoying himself. Lucius was a remarkably strong-willed man and wouldn't easily submit to the Imperius: he needed a little breaking first. Also he needed to ensure that he didn't assign him anything out of character.
"Lucius Malfoy, many years ago the Dark Lord gave you his diary. Where is it?"
"It is in my secret room, under the floor at Malfoy Manor."
"Leave here now, and go and get it for me. When you do, leave the room open. Instruct your elves not to touch it; Imperio Narcissa so she doesn't even see it. Once you have done that, bring it here to me. Let no one else see it. Don't let anyone delay you. Get your wand and go."
Voldemort returned to Fudge's desk as Lucius left the office. He spent some time reading before allowing his mind to drift and plan.
It would be good to have a Horcrux in his possession again. With the diary, he could easily get a body again; he could regain the body of his youth. He would have to think on this. Should he give up Fudge as a vessel? This body was overweight and was showing the effects of middle age, but he had power. No need to start the war again when he had already won. It was just that no one knew it yet.
Oh, how he hoped Bones would arrest Albus when she saw him. Either way, he would have to call a session of the Wizengamot and propose a vote of no confidence in the man. That would have to wait for the moment. He would see how today's events would play out. Even if no arrest was made, he would persuade one of his staff who had children at the school to speak to the Prophet. Let that fester in the public mind for a day, then call Albus before the Wizengamot. If Bones arrested him, it would be even easier.
The destruction of Albus as a force in the world of politics would begin soon. Then, he would also need new foot soldiers. His imprisonment in Malfoy Manor had left a doubt in his mind as to whom he could trust. Any Death Eater who was still free was dubious. He needed loyal servants. He doubted he could declare a mass amnesty of those in Azkaban, not if he wished to stay in office. But there might be a way around that.
A commotion outside disturbed his train of thoughts. He heard a scream that sounded like the secretary. Wand in hand, he strode across the room to watch Lucius casting Crucio on his secretary.
"I need to see the Minister without delay."
"Ah, Lucius, come in." Taking out his wand, he modified his secretary's memory, then sent her home, letting her think she had fainted.
Returning to the office, he found Lucius standing in the middle of the room waiting for him.
"Kneel, Lucius." He wasn't happy that this body was so short, either. "Now, give me the diary."
Taking the diary, he felt a spark of magic, a recognition that his soul was still safely within the container. Now, what to do with the delivery boy. Maybe he could help to make Albus's day even worse.
"Listen to me carefully, Lucius, here are your next instructions..."
I came quite close to calling this story "The Butterfly Flapped" might be too strange even for me.
So as you can see I have gone off into new territory.
Many thanks to KGB, who suggested this idea.
Many thanks to the force like abilities of Jedi Goat who gets to beta this and beat it into a readable state.