Hello!

I am glad you like my story! Please enjoy this chapter. As an aside, I am thinking of stopping this story at this point or perhaps a chapter or two ahead, and write a sequel. When I started with this story, I could not write as easily as I can now. I am sure most of you feel that the first few chapters are not my best work…and I concur with those ladies and gentlemen.

Thus, I am thinking to continue this story as a sequel, away from the errors of this story…with a partial fresh start at least. I would like to know what you think about this idea. It is ultimately you, the readers that I am writing this story for. Please post your opinions along with your valuable reviews. Thank you very much for reading and reviewing.

Sincerely,

Karldin.

CHAPTER 34

"This, , is a rainforest of South America. More precisely in the country of Chile where the war against the Red Court rages fierce as anywhere else. Please follow me", said Rashid calmly as they appeared amidst a lovely and quiet green forest. Shafts of gentle sunlight, and the chirping of morning birds did very little to reassure Harry who saw the trails of death and fear hanging in the very air of the woods. The tranquility of the surrounding nature did not deceive the perception of his Sharingan…he could pick up traces of violence everywhere; traces not visible to anyone but him. He absently adjusted the handle of the War Fan upon his back and cast a small cooling charm to combat the uncomfortable humidity of the region.

"I hope you do remember what I said in Mexico. I will not fight your wars", Harry reminded the merry Wizard mildly. In the few hours he had been with Rashid, he had come to somewhat like the man for his unfailingly upbeat nature. He had certainly needed the cheer after his less than amicable parting with his friends, especially Vector. The depression of teenagers. I am very familiar with this, sighed Evolette, and he knew she was quite tired of his brooding. He couldn't quite help it though. Over the past two days, the thought had crossed his mind that he could be quite insane for rejecting the advances of a woman like Septima Vector no matter his reasons. Rashid dispelled his reverie even as they tread a path hewn roughly through the foliage of the forest.

"We are not asking you to fight wars here, Harry. No, it is quite the opposite", chuckled the Gatekeeper as they trudged through the forest. Harry grunted, and did not bother to reply…a debate with the overly articulate Gatekeeper would be futile as hell. Why else would he bring me to a war zone such as this?, he demanded of Evolette. When no answers were forthcoming from her, he stewed in silence and followed the content Gatekeeper. The nature of this 'training' he was to undergo was something he had tried hard to decipher, but no answers were given to him. He had even wanted to catch Rashid in a Tsukuyomi to force the answers out, but Evolette had convinced him that there wasn't a worse idea.

"Please pull up your hood, Harry. I am afraid the village we are about to step into will be a little less than welcoming. The last thing we want our enemies to know is that you are present here", advised the Wizard kindly even as the dense trees on both sides of the path suddenly stopped along with the path. Harry found himself looking over the edge of a cliff at a goodly sized village with more than a couple hundred houses strewn haphazardly. Marring the rustic remoteness of this rainforest Village was the slaughter that was being visited upon it. Even from their height, Harry identified Red Court Vampires attacking the hapless Villagers…infecting them and killing them with abandon.

"Why have you brought me here, Rashid?", he asked quietly, his Sharingan flaring red with fury as he beheld a small boy being sucked dry in an instant by a Red Court Vampire. The next moment the Vampire lay in two pieces, both halves still twitching as the new player spat angrily. Half Vampire, said Evolette even as he thought the same thing. The Gatekeeper turned solemnly to him, and indicated the carnage going on below them with a wide gesture.

"I brought you here, Harry, because of the failures of our world. Do you observe the resistance to the Vampires? I am certain you have discerned their real nature", said Rashid in that same level voice.

"They seem to be half-vampires. I don't think they can hold out for long", he replied, watching a Red Court Vampire overwhelm one of their half-blooded relatives. He couldn't help but grin in appreciation as he saw a duo cut a bloody swathe through the Vampires. One was a man, but his attention was drawn to the dark haired beauty at his side who seemed to be even more ruthless than her companion. What?, he asked innocently as Evolette sent her disapproval at his leering, and looked on as the object of his attention neatly dodged a swipe by a Vampire and took his head off with a machete. "They seem to be doing well, nevertheless", he commented appreciatively as the man literally cleaved another opponent in half.

"For now", said Rashid dryly. Harry grimaced as a new wave of Red Court Vampires came pouring in from the surrounding forests, intent now only on overcoming the dozen strong resistance. "They are a few members of the Fellowship of Saint Giles, Harry. They are the misfits and outcasts of our society, the half-vampires who have banded together everywhere to disrupt Red Court movements. They are most valuable allies and braver than my fellows would acknowledge. However, I am not above slipping them some necessary aid here and there", added Rashid, looking meaningfully at him.

"Why should I help?"

"Because among the number of the fellowship are two people you have been searching for: Your friend Hermione Granger's missing parents. We would have retrieved them as a favour but for those annoying compacts we have with their group", asserted Rashid before he could cut in. Go, Harry. We lose nothing by finishing a few Vampires. You have done more for far less, urged Evolette. Harry did not even hesitate for a second as he disappeared with a ripple of air, only to appear below where the conflict hotly ensued. A frothing Vampire rushed at him, only to fall to the ground with his face burnt off completely by Fiendfyre.

The skirmish stopped only for a moment at the brightness of the spell, and everyone turned towards him. Harry smirked at the woman who had caught his fancy, and looked down to see the point of a sword protruding from his chest. Kamui really is something else, he thought with satisfaction, amused by his opponent's dumbfounded look. Before they could recognize his technique, he blasted the Vampire back with a powerful stunner. "Expulso", he said, casually swiping a hand against another Vampire.

They hit really hard, thought Harry, pressed by more foes even as Vampire debris rained around him from his previous spell. Sharingan kept up with his Vampire attacker, allowing him to use reflex and body to the fullest. He wove through his snarling opponent's relentless attacks, parrying frantically the lethal jabs and punches. "Tsukuyomi", he said with gritted teeth as a punch grazed his cheekbone. Not bothering with finesse, he simply incapacitated the opponent's mind. Allow me, said Evolette suddenly, and he gave up control of his body to her without hesitation. He felt curiously disconnected, as if seeing another person's actions through his eyes.

They turned, and saw the remaining Vampires all fall upon the defenders, leaving the terrified Villagers to barricade themselves within their ramshackle houses. Harry felt Evolette weaving magic with a simply stunning finesse; he was like a quarry worker compared to a sculptor if one contrasted their prowess. He felt his mouth move, whispering foreign words as the magic took effect. That should do it, said Evolette with satisfaction and promptly returned control to him. He watched with fascination as hundreds of twigs rose everywhere around them, and elongated into fine needles.

Remind me never to be your enemy, thought Harry with amazement as every Vampire in the vicinity was torn apart by the hail of needles. The Fellowship members let their guard down warily, forming up behind the duo that had led their charge. I was talented in my prime, said Evolette modestly. The magic in your body is stronger than mine, and more potent. But I did not know that the wound in your side hurts so very much, she observed softly. Harry dismissed her concerns…the pain was always there, but it was not incapacitating.

"Well fought, Harry", commended Rashid, appearing beside him as the Fellowship members approached. "They seem to be somewhat impressed by your skills. Try to be compassionate and understanding of them instead of treating them with your normal abrasion. They too have known pain like yours", he advised softly. Harry nodded shortly as the man and woman stepped forward from their group and spoke to Rashid.

"Wizard, you said you would bring someone who would help us. Is this him?", asked the man gruffly. He was unmemorable and unremarkable, but Harry had seen him fight. The woman was anything but…she was a dark haired beauty covered with Red tattoos. They all were, but she wore them particularly well. Rashid nodded, and motioned for him to lower his hood.

"Harry Peverell, meet Martin", he indicated the man, "and Susan Rodriguez his partner. They have been tasked with repelling the Vampire invasion in this area, and are closely allied with the White Council. Susan and Martin, please meet Harry Peverell who I see you know by reputation", he finished wryly. Harry found some satisfaction in being pointed to and whispered about in hushed tones of amazement, and the one called Martin actually stepped back in apprehension. The woman, Susan, appeared to be made of sterner stuff as she studied him openly. There was something familiar about her Harry couldn't quite place.

"You are losing control to your Vampiric side, aren't you?", he said suddenly, deducing the purpose of the tattoos in a flash of intuition. He knew he was right when he saw her glare at him with that all-too familiar bloodlust. Suppress it, urged Evolette unnecessarily. Beside him, Rashid grinned like a child as Susan' warning tattoos disappeared completely, leaving her gasping and panting and completely fine. The Fellowship posse gasped as one at what he considered a fairly simple thing to do with his eyes. Suppressing foreign influences was something he had learnt the hard way, back from when he had had to fight the repeated assaults of Cruciatus.

"How did you do that?", asked the one named Martin in a low voice. Harry said nothing, and did the same for him as well. Susan was staring at him as if seeing some great deliverance, as were everyone else in the little group. Finishing up with suppressing the last man's infection, Harry looked at Rashid, knowing that this was one of the reasons he had been brought here.

"You know this won't hold for more than a month", he said.

"A month is more than enough for them, correct?", he asked, looking at the Fellowship. At their firm nods and thankful smiles, he turned back to Harry. "This is part of your training. If you are to be the Archive's companion, you must understand humanity- and humanity shines brightest in duress such as this. We have not the time to send you to psychology classes, Harry. They will be your companions for atleast the next few months. Learn and live with them as best as you can.", he said and disappeared with a small waver.

The Gatekeeper keeps his word. He told us that we need to keep a low profile for the duration of his instruction, and this is a good way, advised Evolette as he seethed internally. You have to get to your friend's parents anyway. Focus on that matter for now.

"Do you have somewhere we can talk?", he asked his newest companions curtly. "I have a lot of questions for you."

…..

"Wow, talk about living in squalor", Harry muttered as he followed Susan and Martin into a deserted and slightly dilapidated manor. Susan shot a glance at him, and Martin merely snorted even as the other Fellowship members dispersed wordlessly to different parts of the house. "Seriously, this is where you live? I have come to expect certain standards of cleanliness even from holes such as these", he commented. It was the truth: Aunt Petunia had made him keep his cupboard as clean as the rest of the house. Precious Petunia would not have a single corner of the house unclean. He whispered a small spell that lifted the dust from the air, leaving it cleaner and more breathable than before.

"As a courtesy for intervening in that fight, I will allow you to ask that question", said Martin gruffly, without preamble.

Straight to business? Okay, thought Harry, bemused by the wariness and hostility evident in the two half-vampires' bearing. "You can relax, both of you. Any enemy of the fucking Red Court is a friend", he said, trying to bring some ease into the proceedings. When they remained as tense as ever, he sighed and began. "A friend of mine from Britain lost her parents to the Vampire infection. She was very close to me and I wouldn't see her suffer needlessly. Rashid tells me you are essentially good people, and I think I trust the fellow. So, can you help me find them?", he asked, forcing a measure of politeness in his tone.

"Names?", asked Susan softly. "Alex and Sarah Granger, from Sussex. You know them?", he asked eagerly, seeing Susan's reaction shout recognition and familiarity.

Susan nodded warily, and looked at Martin as if for permission. At his assent, she began speaking. "I do know them. It was I who recruited them into our Fellowship…one of my first serious assignments. It took every bit of patience and empathy in me to convince them that they could not be around humans until they were taught control, and trained. They are still in one of our training facilities. I am afraid being away from their daughter is not doing wonders for their mental faculties", she finished. Harry exhaled noisily, more than satisfied with the work he had done.

"Can you have them brought here?", he asked intently. "Oh, you'll be getting my support in return for whatever time Rashid wants me to lay low. That should be enough payment for getting me Hermione's parents", he said exasperatedly, noting their reticence. Rashid had taught him more of the Raw World's customs in the two days they had been together, and he had come to understand that it was safer to deal with exchanges rather than favors. That was the White Council's preferred method, after extortion by might.

"Not even close", Martin cut in even as Susan opened her mouth. "Peverell, if the Red Court knew you were here they would send down entire armies. Our task would be negated if you let this area go to waste- we are here to preserve the peace, not to fight wars. Your presence is actually a liability. We are the ones doing your Wizard a favour here, by agreeing to host you. Not the other way round", he said acidly.

"That shouldn't be an issue. I can conceal myself", said Harry dismissively. They looked at each other, and a moment later Martin let himself out of the room. "Where's he going?", asked Harry suspiciously. Susan sighed, and seated herself beside Harry upon the now clean couch. After downing a glass of champagne that they got from god-knows-where, she looked firmly at Harry.

"He's gone to contact our superiors. Meanwhile, you and I need to talk. I know the basics about you…everyone does-"

Don't be too puffed up. These are merely the after effects of dropping a meteor and taking out half a mountain and plain in consequence, Evolette said even as Harry grinned smugly. As Susan continued speaking, he settled more comfortably into his couch and slipped into the beginnings of a doze. Listen for me, Evolette. I am going to sleep, he ordered sleepily, ignoring the equivalent of a dirty look she sent him. He did think it was warranted; even his newly vitalized body required its rest after two days of jumping around the continent with Rashid.

Magic was coming far too easily for Neville, and he only had a vague idea why: it was supposedly connected to that blazing lifeforce he had been given by Queen Titania. Why this was manifesting now was something he had no answer to. As he labored upon a transfiguration to turn the flowers in the sprawling lawn of the Flamel manor to stone, he kept track of his tutors' conversation as they sipped tea. A particular sentence caught his attention, and he turned to ask his question. Questions were highly encouraged with the Flamels and that was a blessing to someone as naturally reticent as Neville. He was only now coming out of his introvert shell, and it was a transition made comfortable by the Flamels' kindness.

"What do you mean, underground?", asked Neville curiously, cutting in on the conversation between the two Flamels. It had become evident that Voldemort intended to take the country with one fell stroke…the dark armies he was gathering in the Caucasian mountains was testament to that. The Flamels had been working tirelessly to respond to that imminent threat without compromising his training, or their Department's cohesiveness. To his understanding, they had been working to sneak in as many undercover operatives as possible into the Order of the Phoenix. He tried not to think about his eventual role in the war, for it was obvious that he did have one.

"That is perhaps a misnomer, Neville", responded Nicholas cheerily. "It is our colloquial speech for 'hiding'. In times like these, the Department traditionally disappears completely from the public view. We fight from the shadows…that has ever been our strength. We end battles, not fight them. We are-"

"Stop evading the boy's question, Nicholas", said Perenelle exasperatedly, overriding her husband's skillful verbal parries. "Neville", she said, looking at the somewhat relieved boy, "in the next week, we are going to gather four of our strongest and most trustworthy allies. When we are ready, we shall cast a Fidelius charm over the entire Department to hide ourselves. The safe houses are already made ready, so that is the only thing that remains. A pity Dumbledore is still in his coma, but then again the man was never one I could trust without reservation", she muttered.

Meanwhile, Neville was shocked. A Fidelius over the whole Department? The ninth level was bigger than most people knew…it concealed more space than the entire ministry combined. To ward all that would take staggering magic. No wonder there would be seven of them including the Flamels to do it…such feats were matters of skill rather than brute strength. Fidelius was one of the most intricate wards in existence. From his recent studies, he had concluded that not even the Sharingan could break it. It was as close to impregnable as they could come, but for the vulnerability of the secret keeper.

"Don't worry about Albus, Perenelle. We have our team here", said Nicholas, shooting Neville a sidelong glance. "Neville has raw strength nearly equal to mine, and skill growing every day. Harry Peverell's erstwhile companions will be accompanying Elliott here any moment now, and those three are especially delicate with their spellwork. Once Rostov gets over his shock and joins us, we shall be ready. James and Sirius shall co-ordinate what presence we are willing to put on the field for now."

"But what's Harry doing in all this? You said he was some kind of prophesized savior or something?", Neville asked them with a furrowed brow. It was a question that had been bugging him for a while now; he had seen firsthand the extent of Harry's abilities, and they were so far beyond his that he could not even quantify. He had a feeling Harry would be a match even for Voldemort, and that was saying something for a sixteen year old Wizard, Sharingan or not. "I don't think he will be left alone after he massacred all those Vampires", he added uncertainly. Perenelle nodded in agreement, her eyes flicking periodically towards the gate to their manor.

"Everybody is asking about Harry it seems", she sighed. "Yes. He will be hunted and sought after quite fiercely, but we have done what we can to protect him from the storm he has kicked up. Suffice it to say he will be well hidden for the next few years…and when he comes out in the open, he will be able to take care of himself without any of our help. We will need his aid if we are to contain the storm Voldemort is preparing to unleash against us. Nicholas and I are not warriors, but nurturers. Anyway, they are here", she said, pointing at the gate where stood four figures, three of which Neville could recognize. His heart leapt as he saw Hermione standing relatively unhurt along with Isabelle and Professor Vector. The man accompanying them wore not Wizarding Robes, but what looked like a crisp muggle suit. They walked in the moment the gate opened at Nicholas' nod, reaching swiftly where Neville stood.

The Flamels rose to greet the guests, all of whom looked quite sleepy owing to the time difference. The suit wearing man looked completely out of place in the slightly Victorian setting, but he did not seem to care as he removed his sunglasses and blew a kiss at Perenelle who shook her head at him. "Hello, Elliott. Made a return to Muggle fashion have we?", she asked disparagingly, giving his crisp attire a once over.

"For you, lovely Perenelle, I will return to the archaic robes I hate", returned Elliott sincerely, and waved his wand at himself. "Bollocks. I suck at transfiguration", he cursed as he came to wear a weird cross between suit and robes. As he jumped around trying to fix his blunder of a spell, Nicholas stepped forward to hug Isabelle and Hermione. Neville watched goggle-eyed as Hermione exchanged pleasantries with the Flamels with disturbing familiarity. By all definition, she should hate anything to do with the Department! But he had also seen the Flamels win people over to their side effortlessly…Harry himself was a case in point.

"Please, seat yourselves. Neville, cease your practice. It is time to talk", said Nicholas, clicking his fingers to conjure chairs for everyone around the table. The clatter of furniture filled the silent, sunlit lawn as everyone promptly moved their seats to fan around the Flamels in a semicircle. Even Elliott gave up his histrionics, and simply sat down at Neville's right with his freakish wear. Neville looked at Hermione, who nodded and smiled at him as she used to at Hogwarts. Isabelle acknowledged him similarly, but Vector seemed somewhat distant and not- quite- there as the proceedings ensued.

"Thank you all for being here", began Perenelle, looking at each of them with solemnity. "Though we cannot take full responsibility for the paths you have tread to come here, Nicholas, Elliott and I have certainly used events to bring the four of you to this point. Before we begin our deliberations, I will say one thing. This is for you, Septima Vector: We are not the Department of Mysteries…merely the founders, but we did not run it until very recently", she said, holding the young woman's gaze firmly.

"Harry cut a deal with you to 'look after me', didn't he? Well, I will not ally with anyone who put him through the suffering he underwent. So forget it. I am here merely at Hermione's request", said Vector harshly, seemingly coming out of her reverie. Neville internally applauded his ex-professor's steel, and as it is the other three women were smiling slightly. It was not easy to speak so freely to the Flamels, whose stature in the Wizarding World was legendary.

"Your loyalty is commendable, Septima", said Nicholas, also looking quite gratified at something. "But Harry himself has come to realize he has no quarrel with us. Indeed we were at fault for not stopping Albus' overly erratic measures to deal with Voldemort, and we will always regret not helping our young descendant. We seek only to help him now, however. But that matter touches only the periphery of our current discussion. I will let Elliott take over here", he stated, and fell silent. Vector did not look convinced, but a pleading glance from Isabelle and Hermione seemed to do the trick.

Elliott literally preened as he finally changed the outlandish attire to respectable dress robes. "Thank you, Flamels", he said irreverently, tossing them a sailor's salute. His blue eyes darkened slightly in colour as he muttered foreign words, and clapped his hands together so loudly that it made Neville jump in surprise. "There, that asshole Alastair can't spy upon us now. That fellow always keeps an eye on me and the Flamels, but my gift is as strong as his", he said smugly.

"Who's Alastair?", asked Neville hesitantly. The others all seemed to be familiar with the name.

"Dark Prophet and Voldemort's future glass, bud. I hate him more than I hate Yoghurt, and that's saying something", replied Elliott cheerily. "Now then. I went to a lot of trouble in getting all of you in one place and directed towards one purpose…especially you", he said, looking at Neville. "You were one hard bloke to corner. Your granny and that old creep Croaker were quite hard to predict. Not as hard as the Flamels or Harry, but hard enough. You three, on the other hand, gave me a much easier time", he said, looking at the women.

"What on earth is he talking about?", demanded Vector. The Flamels did not answer, and Isabelle and Hermione remained silent but attentive. "Elliott, if this is your usual prophetic nonsense, I am out of here. You've gotten Harry hurt more than once with your stupid-"

"Seppy, enough. I guided the lad to the best possible choices. Didn't I just say the guy was simply too hard to read? All that magic in one place makes my art very hard to ply, and that Sharingan made it even harder", cut in Elliott almost sternly, quieting Vector's tirade. His sudden conviction surprised her so much that she didn't even object to being called 'Seppy'. "Now, we are here for one purpose and one only: to inform the lot of you that you will all be sent to a certain place. It took all my farseeing and every shred of the Flamels' negotiating to get this bargain. You four are here to be briefed upon this matter", he said, looking at the three ladies and Neville.

"What bargain?", asked Isabelle coolly. This time it was Perenelle who responded.

"A bargain with Titania, Queen of the Summer Faerie; In exchange for us agreeing to Neville staying a few months at the Summer Court, we had her agree to terms that allowed us to send three of our own people as well for his protection. But that is merely your cover; the three of you are essentially our ambassadors to the Faerie courts. Your duty will be to try and ensure at least neutrality and at most alliance with their court. Use Neville as leverage if you must", she added, and Neville gulped uncomfortably.

"The summer Court in the Nevernever. And you are sending us to negotiate with…with Titania?", asked Isabelle with fascination. Neville observed another trait the three had in common. Instead of harboring a healthy fear of the passionate Summer Sidhe like he did, they actually seemed excited to go to the Nevernever. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that research into the Nevernever was a highly esoteric study in the Wizarding World, usually only conducted by the Department mysteries. He also knew for a fact that except Nicholas and Perenelle, no one from the confederate world had stepped into that spiritual realm for more than a thousand years.

"I assume we will be accorded the courtesies of envoy?", asked Vector, the melancholy completely disappearing from her eyes. Perenelle nodded seriously.

"The Queen has guaranteed that any friend of Neville's will be safe in her realm. But you must remember the sheer power she wields…she is Mab's equal, and must never be underestimated. Her power is part of the fabric of nature and balance, and despite the Unseelie Accords' binding, you must not antagonize her. And that is the essence of why we have gathered you. After a small errand we will require your help with, Nicholas and I shall train all of you in the customs and courtesies of the Raw Wizarding World. I assume your acceptance by your eagerness?", she asked with a smile.

"Do I look eager?", Neville put in sourly, before they could all get too giddy with their imaginations. "I have a portion of Titania's strength within me, supposedly strong enough to even counteract Mordite. What if she wants to kill me and reclaim that strength?", he asked, voicing his innermost concern at last. They all looked at him as if he were nuts, but he didn't care. The only thing he was concerned about was not the power in him, but that it lasted long enough to grow and help him cure his parents.

"Titania won't even notice the loss of that strength. The only reason she knows and wants you is because of the bargain she made with Albus", said Elliott strongly. "I have a gift to glimpse the tides of the future, but Titania and Mab are so powerful that they can predict quite accurately decades into the future simply by considering every permutation and combination of chance. I think they have the mental processing power of about a million supercomputers in parallel. You have enough strength to be one of the strongest Wizards in several generations, but that won't even matter to Titania", Elliott told Neville.

"Why doesn't that reassure me?", muttered Neville. Hermione however looked intrigued by Elliott's rant. "But why is Neville being dragged into her net? I thought we owe her nothing?", she asked. Neville looked hopeful at that, but the Flamels shook their heads.

"That we do. But we do not want to appear like we are stealing her strength, nor do we want to offend her. Nicholas and I have painstakingly built a good relationship with her…something that goes back to my brother Arcturus. The Summer Queen keeps her word, and we trust enough in that to send all of you to her", replied Perenelle gravely.

"I and Isabelle have decided yes", said Hermione, and Isabelle nodded in affirmation, "But it appears Septima needs time to think". Indeed, the first rush of fascination had departed the young prodigy's countenance, leaving the old melancholy coupled with indecision in her bearing. The Flamels looked as if they knew the cause of her conflict, and assumed understanding looks.

"Of course. You and Isabelle would make a formidable team, but you can defer the decision for a week which is when I will begin your tutoring in the rules of the Old World", said Nicholas gently. "Let us adjourn for lunch", he said, and the table disappeared. Neville fell in with Hermione as the party followed the Flamels towards the manor. He was burning to ask his old friend a few questions, and he would get the answers no matter what. Hermione looked amused at his eagerness, which he was sure showed upon his face. He started with a question he knew would earn him condescension or perhaps even a slap, but he asked it nevertheless. Anything to find a cure for his parents.

"Hermione, what do you know about Muggle libraries and how to do research in them?"

A gaunt, skeletal looking man stood still amongst the crowded valley deep within the Ural mountain ranges. It was crowded not with people, but with creatures straight out of nightmare: hundreds of Dementors floated about, their oppressive aura throwing the sky into gloom and dispelling every hint of natural joy from the landscape. Giants stood tall along the perimeter of the valley, their spiked maces ominous in their hands as they scanned continuously for intruders. Vampires moved around gracefully, their flesh shell belying the true horror of their forms. But all this darkness did not affect the skeletally thin man in the slightest; indeed it seemed to amuse him more than anything else. Then again, the man himself was only barely human…out of his joints jutted out spiky protrusions like thorns. His eyes shone green and brown alternately as he took in the humongous mobilization around him and the dark creatures shrunk away from his gaze and gave him wide berth. Even the Dementors avoided him completely.

Lord Voldemort appeared noiselessly beside the humanoid figure, his tall and handsome figure in stark contrast to his horrifying companion. "Greetings, Thorned Namshiel. It is gratifying to see that Sir Archleone accepted my terms of alliance. Your presence should move things along quite smoothly", said the Dark Lord, holding out a hand courteously to the one called Namshiel. A moment later the man grasped the Dark Lord's hand in a tight grip, releasing it with a laugh as he indicated the armies around him.

"Voldemort, you are not the eager stripling who once came to me for instruction, I see. And I have heard of what you want our Order to do for you. A pity you did not join in with us…all this scum you are gathering pales in front of the might of the Order of the Blackened Denarius", said Namshiel, as if stating a fact. "Those children at your Department of Mysteries do not warrant all this preparation. I thought I had taught you better. What means a single scrap of land like Britain in comparison to the stakes we play for?"

"One step at a time, Namshiel. And the Raw Wizards are headquartered at London as well, if you remember. The Senior Council is a major deterrent to my plans, which is why I must keep them very busy. Which is where you come in, of course", said Voldemort with a cold smile. Namshiel answered with one of his own, and the air around the two Wizards darkened with such oppression that a Dementor actually fled shrieking. "I would deal with them myself, but there are the Flamels and Harry Peverell to contend with not to mention that tiresome Order of the Phoenix. Thus, you take half the army and keep the Raw Wizards off my back when I make my moves."

"I need no ragtag army for those pretenders", hissed Namshiel.

"Then feel free to attack the Merlin and the Council", invited Voldemort condescendingly, smiling at Namshiel's frustration. "I have no doubt you can fight them head-on one at a time, perhaps even three…just like me. But neither you nor I can take on the Merlin and expect to win with any degree of surety, and the same goes for the Gatekeeper. No, Namshiel", said the Dark Lord with a shake of his head, "it is far better to hurl distractions at them, distractions like these…ah, scum, as you so succinctly put it. Let them run around while we complete our goals unobstructed and at our leisure. Is this not how your Order usually operates?"

"It is how Nicodemus operates", agreed Namshiel grudgingly. "Very well, Voldemort. I will keep my word, and keep the Faerie Courts and the Council off your back. You must keep yours and lend my Order these scum when we need them", said the Fallen, indicating the sea of dark creatures around them. Voldemort inclined his head in assent.

"Certainly. I have more than enough scum for both our uses. But I see the Dementors are being troubled by the sun. Cysgodol Gwylio", he said casually, waving his wand at the sky. Namshiel looked interestedly at the wand in Voldemort's hand even as the entire Valley was plunged into darkness by the spell. The horde of Vampires and Dementors seemed to literally sigh in relief as a soothing shadow blanketed the land, blocking out the sun enough for the Dementors to rage about with renewed vigor. Namshiel indicated the wand with a gesture, and addressed Voldemort in a low voice.

"That is the Elder Wand, yes? I remember it being used against me even today…that wand was always designed to be the instrument that foils us. Is this a signal you are sending me, Voldemort?"

"Yes, Namshiel. I am ready to contain you by any means…diplomacy or force", admitted Voldemort openly as he held up the legendary wand to the sky. "Armaros told me of its location. His previous owner had it on him, I believe. I caused the wand to be wrested from Albus Dumbledore, and thus I am its true master. As you say, I am trying to tell you something now", he said quietly, appearing right in front of Namshiel in a shroud of black vapor. "If you work behind my back like before, I will tear you apart and send you back to Nicodemus piece by piece. I am a Wand Wizard and Raw Magician, and Denarian as well. Even though you are Fallen from grace, your power on this earth is limited. This is my only warning to you, my old teacher."

"I have no wish to do so, my old student, and you can only kill this host body. My coin is eternal. And I have enough strength to rival you", replied Namshiel, seemingly undeterred by the Dark Lord's statement. Then he laughed a crackling laugh, and pointed to the Elder Wand sitting in the Dark Lord's palm. "I know what you fear. It is not me or the other Wizards. You fear what the boy could become. Your game is very dangerous, Voldemort. All your trinkets would mean nothing against the strength of the Almighty."

Voldemort did not respond, and suddenly the two found themselves standing upon the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley of dark armies. "And that is precisely what I warn you against. If you interfere with my War, Namshiel, I will come after you and every one of the Denarians. Tell Nicodemus I will keep our pact, but also tell him to lay off the boy. He is mine to deal with. Here, I will expedite your long travel back", said the Dark Lord, and slashed his wand through the air with a cold expression. Blue light erupted in front of Namshiel, and the force of the spell sent the Fallen flying high into the air…so high and far away that he disappeared from the horizon.

"Bellatrix, I trust you have good news for me", said the Dark Lord, turning as the crack of apparition sounded behind him. Bellatrix Lestrange stood there shaking with a blank and terrified expression, and Lord Voldemort knew then and there that she had failed in finishing the task he had given her. She did not resist in the slightest as he lashed out with Legilimency and tore what had transpired from her mind; as the experiences finished playing, he gripped the Elder Wand tightly. Looking at Bellatrix shaking like a leaf made him want to spit in disgust. He despised weakness, especially in his best liutenants.

"Stop shivering like a filthy muggle, Bellatrix. I will not punish you for Flamel's manipulations. I am a Lord, not a madman", he said quietly, his lip curling as he saw Bellatrix fall down at his feet in tears of gratefulness. "The Longbottom boy has gone where you cannot follow…the Summer Queen will crush you into oblivion if she even becomes of intentions such as yours in her realm. Nicholas Flamel has put both Peverell and Longbottom out of my reach. One I cannot trace, and the second I dare not approach. I will let the Denarian Order do their part", he murmured, and felt his magic manifest in response to his rage. The Elder Wand hummed as forks of electricity danced around the Dark Lord, causing the air to become alive.

"Make preparations, Bellatrix", he said, as he separated himself from his emotions. It was not like him to put up such childish displays…he had learnt and lived far too much for that. "Get up", he urged, and watched her do so promptly. "Now, take what you need from the scum assembled downstairs", he said, indicating the teeming army below them, "and begin the war. I need to teach Flamel and his irritating Department a few things in the meantime", he said, and stopped her before she could disapparate.

"And Bellatrix, please send in those Black Court assassins dear Lucius so kindly recruited for us. I think it is time for some soldiers and knights of the other side to be toppled, and for the king to be dragged out from hiding."