Finally, the last chapter of Part II is here!
I give up on making promises for updates... with my school work and stuff I really never know when I have time to write.. to be fair I also spent a lot of time spellchecking past chapters and checking plotholes because Part II will be uploaded anew completely. Next chapter, interlude between part II and III, and timeskip...
It felt like a part of his life ended today. In a way, that was a good analogy. He was a part of magic, and magic was entering a new era, one where emotion and logic would not compete anymore, but join together and form something new. He felt it as soon as the Muggle Army backed them up, in their formal uniforms, their unified stances…
It wasn't them, of course, that turned the war, but the idea of them, and what they represented. As soon as the enemies saw them and realised that they were fighting with Britain; magicians, creatures and Muggles alike joined against the rest, they finally seemed to lose hope. Harry saw a few scream at the Muggles as if trying to convince the army of switching sides, but they were shot down when they resorted to violence, and the fires died on the tip of their wands and in the core of their souls, all vigour and the conviction of being right, gone. They burned out like stars, some faster than others, but eventually they all clustered together, defeated, looking at the mighty dragons that were now guarding them, hopelessness in the eyes of the beaten.
It was not only the enemy forces that had gotten a shock. Harry saw Muggles forming rows and rows around them, enthusiastic, wanting to know what was going on. Now they were in a group, they all buzzed, rather than the ignore-and-flee behaviour they had had when they had been separated. Odd things, groups. They could completely change human behaviour and beliefs. Harry sighed when noticing the press huddling together already, impatient to get the best view and story. It seemed that the chances for their original plan to succeed were ruined after all.
With a determined movement, he put the mask over his face again and drew his wand, using an air spell Lucius had taught him to come over dramatically to push the people in front of him away. It felt even better than he would have thought, but there was no time dwelling on the feel that power over these people gave him. He was far too worried about not seeing Marvolo anywhere, and knew that he would have to be here in his stead until he came.
Wordlessly, he looked at the people kneeling on the grass in front of him, still wet with morning dew. He wondered how many of them were still alive, and how many of their side were still alive… With a pained heart, he looked to the right, where one of the dragons lay smashed against a building, which Harry thought he could correctly identify as the Treasury, deep cuts all across the body. The blood like lava that was hardening now the creature didn't breath anymore, did nothing anymore to keep the fire warm. It had taken several trees and a lot of ground and rubble with it in its fall, and the broken, black wings stuck out against the white stone like a sinister, spiky war monument. Thankfully, the Muggles had been warded from it, the mighty beast protected by many eager magicians. Harry hoped that Charlie wouldn't see it in this state, and that he and Xaphia were safe. Not that many dragons had taken the sky, but he did not know if all those in the tunnels had survived.
Perhaps in the magical parts of London, the fighting was still going on… he didn't know. As long as they did not receive the word of surrender, they would continue. It reminded him of the story he'd once heard of a Japanese soldier in the jungle of Vietnam who had remained fighting for years and years while the war was long over, simply because he did not know.
"Ross," he called out, recognising one of the Death Eaters close to him, the long, reddish hair and beard visible even with the mask, in striking harmony with his name. He'd never really spoken much to the man, who had not joined them very long ago, but in that time he had quickly gone up the ranks to squad captain, and Harry decided that he was trustworthy enough. After all, Harry had only joined last summer as well.
"Yes… My Lord?"
Harry blinked in surprise at the title, but tried to not show the effect it had on him. It was odd to be called that. Of course, Death Eaters had called him that before, but there had always been a hint of uncertainty, of doubt, of mockery or reluctance. Despite Marvolo wanting them to call Harry that, he had never truly proven himself. Raids were not enough… But now he had fought a few smaller and two large battles, and the respect necessary to earn the title had been gained.
"Send scouts to the magical areas and ensure it is known that their main generals have surrendered. Bring all survivors up here, and after that all bodies for them to be sent home."
"But… the Dark Lord gave the strict order to burn the bodies… he said there is no place for enemy corpses on this land."
"That may be so, but it is the least offering of respect that we can give. If we burn them, there will be families who will try on their own to rebel, as they were not at least given the honour to bury their dead. Consider the previous order invalid." His heart galloped wildly in his chest, waiting to see if the man would do as he said, if he believed Harry to have enough authority to directly overrule an order of Lord Voldemort.
Ross shouted orders to several other Death Eaters, and together they went on their way, off into the dust that hung in the air due to destroyed brickwork, crossing the street that was no longer accessible to cars, all Muggles who were here having clambered over stone heaps and fallen trees. Harry hoped that Marvolo wouldn't be angry at him for changing orders, but it was his firm belief that they would gain nothing but anger if the bodies were all disrespectfully burnt as if they had not been people. He tried to reach his lover mentally, but the only thing he got back was a disturbing chaos, and when he tried to look through the man's eyes all it resulted in was a headache that welled up like a bump that slowly rose after a heavy collision with one's head and a brick wall. –Harry could know, he still had not forgiven Dobby for the trick at King's Cross a few years back-
Harry noticed that the ones who were bowed down on the grass were shackled together by fine, silver threads, and wondered what spell it was. He had never seen such a thing before. Perhaps it wasn't even a spell, but an item? He did not dare to come too close to them though. He wasn't certain of how immobile they were, and how desperate to get free.
"Young Lord," a familiar voice said, and Harry looked over his shoulder, arching an eyebrow before realising the man couldn't see with the mask in place.
"Since when do you give me a title, Lucius?"
"Since you blew up Dumbledore, killing the leader of the main faction that would have given us trouble."
"Did they fight today too, the Order?"
"No. It seems they have seized control over Hogwarts. 'The Last Hope' they are calling it. To me it more looks as if they are keeping the children hostage. Thankfully we have several people there."
"I know… Sameer, Eyolf and... what's his name again?"
"Ambrosius. Lucky coincidence, that. Apparently he wasn't even sent by our Lord, but he has had ties to the Dark for years and quickly informed our lord of having gotten the position. Where is our Lord anyway?"
"Hell if I know," Harry muttered. "Keeping his thoughts shut. It's all blurry. He'd better be okay."
He reached out behind him with his magic, expanding it through the air, tasting the other magic, letting it brush against the energy of the others who followed his steps. Many Death Eaters had been fighting in the Ministry, Diagon and the rest of the city still, just like many of their allies. Thankfully, most of their enemies had surrendered or fought to the death when word received them that they had lost. The rest was dead now… he had no need for any others like those on the square, except two generals they had found fighting in the tunnels and one that had managed to make a wreckage in Gringotts. –which had also meant that the blasted Goblins had finally done something of use too. Sadly that particular general wasn't exactly a useful source of information with his head on a stake, but it was a small price for the Goblins' loyalty.
With his magic, he ensured that the remaining two were still there, just like the Death Eaters and the three traitor werewolves they had found, who had suddenly turned on the rest and tried to take as many of their allies with them as possible. He wasn't quite yet surewhy they had betrayed him, but he suspected bribery had to be involved. Surprisingly, while losing three wolves on his side, he had also gained one…
He felt the –quite weak- magic of the former Order member, Lupin, not sure why he had betrayed the Light. Harry, maybe? But then he should have contacted him sooner… The only other person he could think of that would be able to sway Lupin would be Black. Well, if that was true he had finally been concretely useful. Still, he hadn't taken any risks, and bound the wolf just as securely as the generals that were being led to their execution. Suddenly, he felt a disturbance, and realised why the magic had been so weak. He stopped abruptly and turned around, striding towards the Death Eaters who held Lupin under restraints, and grabbed the man's chin, lifting it up so amber met glittering ruby, hissing when they disconnected.
"Take him to St. Mungo's. His life is seeping away. He's most likely been cursed by a draining spell. If he doesn't want to at least end up as a squib, he'll need medical attention. Go, take him."
His followers hastily bowed and dragged Lupin away to the hospital. He had reached word of the dwarfs about half an hour ago, of that they had successfully been able to maintain control over the hospital, and no major damage had been done to the building or the patients, although a Bombarda had blasted the research centre away, which would be both expensive to replace and set the potion development a few steps back. He didn't mind the first one too much, -even if he would have to pay it himself, he would make damned sure that the best health care was available. If it wasn't for the hospital and their research and expertise, Harry might have been dead weeks ago.-
He continued on with his silent, black parade following him through the streets like an army of ghosts, their skeletal masks not doing anything to alter that image. He saw the Muggles, some clinging to the wall, shying away from it all while still throwing curious looks, unable to cease from wondering what was going on, some completely lost in their own world, dismissing everything that happened around them. Not one of them spoke or came up to stop them, not even two police officers who were patrolling the streets and caught sight of the Dark Army, dragging two prisoners with them. Perhaps they had already been informed by the government, he didn't know. Several of the British Muggle Army were also out on the streets, though Marvolo imagined that most were guarding the city's entrances and the mass of surrendered enemies.
To not even heighten the panic and culture shock, he had kindly asked most creatures the Muggles had not seen yet to leave as soon and quietly as possible, or go to magical London. The dragons were unavoidable now, also because he had heard one of them was lying dead in the park he was on his way to. However, that did not mean that he suddenly had to try and make every single culture integrate, though it would not be a good idea to hide them either when asked about it by the Muggles. He figured he would just have to let them get used to magicians first and make it clear from the start that there were also other magical races.
It was highly annoying that things had turned out this way, he thought. It would have been much preferable to first regulate everything with the Muggle government and only after get it out to the press and public, like the Muggles he had invited before had advised him. They would have to be very careful with the possible panic and chaos that would ensue, and religious or otherwise groups that would be against magical interference.
Finally, St James's Park came into view, and he instantly sought out Harry, who was talking to a Death Eater. Seconds later, he recognised him as Lucius, but neither had noticed him yet.
"…having gotten the position. Where is our Lord anyway?"
"Hell if I know. Keeping his thoughts shut. It's all blurry. He'd better be okay."
"Your concern is touching," he spoke up, and both Harry and Lucius looked up as Marvolo approached them, grimacing slightly at the unpleasant sensation of walking over muddy grass, and he placed his bare feet carefully to avoid the rubble that lay scattered over it.
Harry smiled. "That was sudden. I didn't even sense you coming."
Marvolo's mouth twisted upwards slightly. "You hardly ever do. Every time again I still have to warn you…"
Harry didn't answer on the not very carefully veiled pun, and merely rolled his eyes as Marvolo casually brushed some of the dust off of his robe and gazed with disgust down on the ones who were shackled together. They looked so... pathetic. How could they ever have formed a threat? How had these people gotten so much power and men behind them? There was nothing…special about them. Magicians, yes, but weak… a weakness that came forth of laziness and the comfort of sitting in their homes, doing nothing until today. He wondered if any of them had ever honoured magic, ventured into the wild and tried to discover more than their educational books told them. It was doubtful. Such waste…
Well, whether they had or not would not matter much after today anymore. He would gather the information needed from their minds and dispose of most of them. There was no use in keeping people around who lost and would hold grudges and work against him. He would give them a chance to join, and execute the rest when not under the eyes of the Muggles anymore. Unfair? Certainly, but that was the right of the strongest, to determine life for the weak. Something wizards would finally be able to do with the naturally lesser species that was Muggles. Not that he'd ever speak out his hatred openly when dealing with them…
His Death Eaters gathered behind him after dropping the two captured generals in front of the rest, shackling them to the people who were already kneeling in defeat. Marvolo hoped this was all… he had received no other word of his various troops, but there might be small forces fighting in isolation, cut off from the rest. Glancing at Harry, and then at the gathered Muggles, who just could not seem to stay away, he addressed both his followers and enemies.
"This is the end of the world as you know it. Today is the end of discrimination against all minorities. Today, the ones with power rose up against the unthinking mass. Revolution on a scale that will lead to new miracles all over the world. No hiding anymore, for all forces are joint. Today means victory for us all, for today, we have broken our chains and demanded the freedom that we deserve. Let it hereby be known that magic is might." He finished his speech with his head high, looking with pride at his followers, who sank to their knees as one and the awed Muggles at the sidelines. But then, he only truly had eyes and ears for the reaction of one person specifically.
This is brilliant love… Finally, we have what we deserve. Though I must say that I am a bit skeptical about if this is going to turn out like the Muggles are thinking right now. It's going to be discrimination of the majority right now, I assume…
And I don't care about them, Marvolo mentally shrugged. He wasn't all that bothered by how the Muggles would be treated in the end. As long as his followers made sure they wouldn't lose the status of respect he planned to create, they could do what they wanted. He doubted most wizards would want much to do with the Muggles in the first place. The purebloods certainly would just be glad they could openly practise magic, but not mingle too much with those they thought unworthy of their presence.
"We have really won? It's over?" Harry mumbled softly. It sounded like a rhetorical question, but he answered nonetheless.
"Not completely… but we have won the main war, yes. There is a chance of rebellion, of battles in the magical communities outside London… but most of the public is on our side so… it's unlikely to get very much out of our control. The only remaining problem is Hogwarts really. I did not receive word of any of them being here today, so chances are that they have holed themselves up In their castle. Nonetheless, it won't be that long until we can seize it, possibly without even much force. We'll have to get rid of Mc Gonagall and some other teachers most definitely, but there will be those who can be persuaded, if they aren't on our side yet."
"I heard from Lucius… He seems to know more about it."
He raised an eyebrow at the man who bowed and quickly informed him of the situation in the school. It wasn't very good news, but at least he had people there already, trustworthy people who would undoubtedly do their utmost best to gain control.
"So… after this… we'll go home?" Harry asked hopefully. He felt very tempted to say 'yes', go home, take a bath, have sex and sleep, but he couldn't afford that.
"Not exactly. I wish to visit St Mungo's first of all, then Gringotts and lastly the Ministry. There will be lots of work to do to rebuild the trail of destruction that has been left through the city. And after that, after we have dealt with the affairs of the Wizarding World, we may need to pay the Muggle press a visit…" Harry sighed deeply, and Marvolo knew that he wasn't very happy with it and just wanted to go home and cool down from the battle. "Lucius," he said, turning to the man. "While I go to St Mungo's, you are to be here in my stead. Gather everyone well-versed in Legilimency and see what information you can get out of them." And in a lower voice, he hissed, "If you dare to use torture spells or any other curses in front of the Muggles I will skin you alive, make sure to inform the others about that as well."
The man nodded hastily. He wondered if it was a good idea to give Lucius power again, but then again, it had been quite a long time since his former right hand had fallen from his position, and he had done very well to earn back the trust he had lost with both insulting Harry and destroying the Horcrux. He was glad now that he had not killed Lucius, who was far too useful , intelligent and both magically and politically strong to be disposable. And more than that, he did not want to have Narcissa against him as well, who was the matriarch of a very old line and held quite some influence herself.
"Come," he spoke to Harry, gesturing for his lover to walk with him. "The apparition wards are still up to prevent backup. I'm not sure if the mainland got word of the defeat yet or not but I wish to take no risks."
"What if they have a second army at the ready?"
"Then we are ready to fight again. Despite the losses, we can probably take them. And if not, I will have to consider calling the Dementors anyways. They were my last backup. However, they came here in a last desperate attempt to crush us. The chances of them not having sent all their forces is low. Several countries switched their position to neutral after the Battle of France, and their armies were weakened a great deal. Seeing the size of the enemies' forces today, they can't have a second great attack coming."
Harry just nodded, and Marvolo wondered how to get to St. Mungo's fastest. Apparition was out… it wasn't that far but he rather avoided the Muggles that were now getting far too curious. Flying? No, best not let them see even more magic today. They had seen dragons however… he threw up a temporary distortion shield that would make it unclear for anyone what exactly happened behind it, and shifted to his Animagus form. It never felt very pleasant, the transformation. While he had gotten more used to it, it was still very painful, bones growing and material changing. Only at the end could he heave a relived sigh, which made smoke sizzle through his nostrils.
Everything instantly looked different. It wasn't as large of a change for him, with his already heightened senses, than it would have been for anyone else, but still. Contours of things were vaguer, colours were more hued purple and orange, and there were several misty things visible. Shapes and smells going past… At first he had confused them with spirits, but now he knew they were the memory trails all dragons could see, though for him it wasn't very usable as he could neither interpret nor clearly see them.
~Harry~ he hissed, gracefully sinking through his legs, flattening himself as much against the ground as possible. He smirked inwardly as his lover suddenly had a very dazed look, having to shake himself awake before hesitantly taking one of the spikes and climbing up until he saw at the base of Marvolo's neck.
~I'm ready,~ the teen hissed back, and Marvolo rose and tried to find a good position to fly from. Not finding any immediately, he turned towards the street and started to run to gain speed, ignoring the cries of the humans he nearly trampled, after which he unfolded his massive wings and caught the air under them, using a technique the other dragons had taught him when he'd hunted with them to rise directly from the ground with only a short running distance.
He turned his head when he recognised a greeting, somewhere far away, a loud cry that pierced the skies. He wished he could imitate it but was too afraid of saying something else, and Parseltongue could not carry that far. Despite his lover being pressed against his back, he felt slightly lonely, but knew it was just his dragon mind speaking at the inability to greet back. He gained height fast and with fierce wing-beats, he set course for the hospital.
"But you still have quite an image… not exactly that of helping and healing people" Harry hesitantly said. "How will you ever change that?" They had just landed at the hospital, finding the Dwarfs had all returned home, and only a few Death Eaters helping the staff were still there. That last fact alone should have been an answer to the question of how he was planning to make the hospital part of the system instead of being something on its own. "Also, St Mungo's has been Neutral for ages... A hospital has to be neutral."
"So should a school be, technically," he coolly pointed out. "Right now, it's purely Light, and it will be as long as McGonagall is still there." They walked down a rather empty corridor, but he threw up privacy spells around them just to be certain.
"Except the Hospital Wing in it," the other stubbornly countered.
"I already changed it to some degree… the image we have. People don't associate the Dark anymore with the first war, or Grindelwald, but the good changes that we have worked hard for the past time.
And it's all pure management and marketing, really. Trying to sell a product or an image isn't all that different. It has to be credible, of course, but we can make it credible. You need to change the way people think… make them think that they believe something different than they currently do and then try to play in on that," he explained.
"Make them forget part of what they associate with you and only remember the good things?"
"Exactly. And look at the Weasley twins with their shop. Everyone knows they are dark, but even the family of those they killed is still going there to buy their things. It's all about the image their shop has. They manage to create a fun and easy environment during a time of war, linking themselves more to their products than their own actions. They have a perfect brand to cover their dark marks. Though if I have a say in it, that will become a symbol of luxury as well."
"Still don't know how that links to the hospital becoming Dark. Why not leave it as it is?"
"Because we need the Healers to conform with my plans. They will not be happy about sharing their magical treatment with Muggles, but I will need them to train Muggles, and have Healers at the larger Muggle hospitals. If I allow them to be a company of their own, not linked to the government in any way… if they don't want to cooperate, then they won't. I never said I wanted them to go Dark per se, but obedient to the government, yes."
"But you can't force them to relinquish their ways either. I'm not sure St Mungo's ever gave a crap about the government."
"I can make it a law. Don't worry though, I won't overturn the way they do things here, and won't have them deny entry to non-dark people. I fear they would rebel even against laws in that case. I actually went here to also talk to the head staff, to see what I can do and to express my... concern for the ill."
"Do you mind if I don't come with you? I want to see if I can find healer Grace to thank her again, and also see if there are any people I know that have been harmed. Moreover, Ron should still be here somewhere."
"That's alright. You wished to step more out of the political aspect anyways, am I correct?"
Harry nodded. "It doesn't thrill me like it seems to do you. From public relations to threatening and mind games… I don't know, maybe I'm just not good at it. I prefer fighting."
"You will be required to sit through some meetings and have your say, but with things like this, you don't have to." Marvolo reassured him, something for which Harry was very glad.
"Thanks. By the way, shouldn't Sirius be here too? You know, As Minister?"
"If you can find him, please, but I don't feel like locating him right now. He ran off after the talk to the Muggle Minister and I have not spotted him since. With all the magic hanging around, it won't be easy to find him except for a point-me spell, and I noticed that your damned invisibility cloak cancels even that, which the mutt still has."
"What, you expected him to return it mid-fight?"
"You gave it to him yesterday," Marvolo muttered. "It would have been proper for him to return it. No manners at all."
"At times like these I notice how old you are," Harry laughed, which tuned into a yelp as he was dragged into a –thankfully empty- hospital room and pressed against the wall.
"Old?" the man said dangerously, pressing himself fully against the teen.
"I... I mean... well technically,"
~I don't have time for technicalities, love~
Harry's breath caught when cold lips lightly touched his neck, a wet, thin tongue dragging over his pulse point. He released a soft moan, and he blamed it on all the pent-up sexual frustration that he reacted this way right now.
He was unceremoniously dropped to as Marvolo removed himself.
"I have an appointment that shouldn't wait," the man said with an evil smirk.
"You didn't even make an-"
"And this really is not the place to be shagging like a bunch of rabbits."
Fingers twisted themselves into his hair, pulling and forcing him to look up. "But if you behave, I will have very long, very rough sex with you when we are finally home."
All his protests died at the same instant his tongue dried at the words. He nodded jerkily, wincing when that caused the grip to tighten, and he closed his eyes and counted to ten to calm his pounding heart as Marvolo left the room, the last contact a brief touch to his lips with icy fingertips.
Only minutes later, he finally got to his feet and walked away, pushing thoughts of that promise away to do what he wanted to, but he couldn't resist the sentence 'oh that man is like a flame' to slip past his lips. He didn't know the rest of the song, so just hummed a bit as he made his way down to reception again, which they had passed previously. In the chaos, they hadn't been noticed, and there had been no-one behind the counter, but he still thought the best chance to get information was there somewhere. At least he'd seen Healers near it.
A sudden, dirty image shot through his brain and he walked a bit faster, muttering curses under his breath to Marvolo. As he passed a door though, he heard a very familiar voice.
"... Glad you're alright. I wondered… you mean…"
Harry stopped, surprised, listening until he was sure that it was indeed Sirius talking, and he slowly pushed open the door, his eyes widening when seeing who lay in the hospital bed. "Remus?" he said, shocked, and the occupants in the room tuned to face it. "Sirius… and Ron?"
"Hey Harry," both of them said, and Sirius got up from the bedside he'd been sitting and hugged him. "It's good to see you. I knew you'd be okay of course… Suppose that's one good thing coming from the most powerful wizard of the world fussing over you."
"He doesn't fuss," Harry started, but then remembered the ridiculous amount of protection, the armour, the spells, the bodyguard… "Alright maybe a little," he admitted, making Ron snort. "Anyways, I'm not here to discuss me. Remus… I'm very surprised to find you here. I was under the impression that the members of the Order didn't dare come into a place crawling with Death Eaters, even if said place was a hospital…" He tried to keep his tone neutral, but couldn't contain his bitterness at 'member of the order.'
The once so proud organisation striving for peace and welfare of all had, under Dumbledore's senility and power-schemes, been reduced to nothing but a bunch of children, blindly following their now-dead leader, against something obviously inevitable, something of which Harry really could not believe all of them still truly believed in. What were they even fighting for now? Revenge? The ideal of a separated society? That had been giving troubles ever since it was set up…
Remus coughed uncomfortably. "I'm… well… I'm actually not really part of the Order anymore," he spoke. "Officially yes... and I came here with the intention to fight for the Order… But then, on the battlefield, I met Greyback." He trailed off and looked at the window, deep lines etched into his face that Harry was sure of hadn't been there when he'd taught at Hogwarts. "I had expected him to kill me, the one who ran away after he'd turned me. I thought he'd left me to die when I was a child, but I couldn't have been more wrong. He'd wanted to take me to the pack, but had been interrupted and had had to flee. He even came back for me, but I had been kept inside by my parents to fight the disease, fight the curse…"
Harry watched as the man curled a bit into himself, and he suddenly realised that he had never given Remus enough thought, and credit. To live with something like lycanthropy was bad enough, but to do so while fighting it one's whole life, staying away from other wolves, trying to suppress a complete side of you… Remus had fought far worse battles than Harry had ever seen. His respect for the man grew in that moment, and he felt ashamed that he'd never taken the time to get to know his former professor a bit better. "What happened then?" he whispered, approaching the bed.
"He… he spoke to me. Well, first he singled me out and cornered me, and then he used my wolf against me in that he is recognised as an Alpha and should be obeyed… he made me listen to him, and it was then that I finally understood that what I had been doing was wrong, that the creature inside of me was not an intruder, but a part of me now, something that could help me reach my true potential. He guided me in letting it loose, and I felt so free for the first time in years… And I fought with my pack, hunted with them. It's… indescribable, the feeling. If this is what Voldemort wants to give us, if I can feel this freedom again… I'll do anything for it."
"Did your pack bring you here?" Harry asked, impressed by the explanation.
"No… surprisingly enough, it was Voldemort who gave the order. On request of Greyback though, I think. It's all still a bit fuzzy… Harry, I… I am sorry. All this time I kept clinging to the belief of that anything dark means evil. I should have known better, teaching defense. I kept hoping that you would return to the Order, to the light. I was wrong. Sirius explained me a lot and I have to apologise."
"Did you know Sirius was on our side?"
"No. I knew he didn't like Dumbledore anymore but I thought he was a faction of his own, truthfully. I think most people still have that idea…"
"And it's true," Sirius threw in, frowning. "What I said during my speech stands. I won't be controlled and manipulated by anyone, not even Voldemort, as much as he'd like to."
"Marvolo thinks I can manipulate you on his behalf," Harry spoke, shrugging. "Personally, I doubt you'd let yourself be swayed even by me. Not that I would want to really. I was the one to put you forward, and my main reason was to have a minister for once who could think for himself."
"Somehow I doubt he's happy with that," Remus spoke softly.
"He can be unhappy with it all he wants," Harry grinned. "That doesn't make it less good."
Remus carefully looked at the black-haired boy, in whom he hardly recognised the Harry Potter he'd taught to defend himself against Dementors, now but two years ago. The change was unmistakable, and slightly worrisome. He grew up far too fast. However, maybe it was also a good thing. Before, he had honestly believed that Harry had been dragged into it all –a 15 year old couldn't be too hard to persuade after all, and what could have possibly possessed him to join the cause of his parents' murderer?- and had had no idea what exactly he got into. He had to revise that opinion thoroughly.
The slightly awkward, scared but brave teen who had reminded him of James so much was gone, and in his stead, there stood a whole new person, whose eyes had hardened and who knew more of the world than he should. It pained him to know someone like Harry had had to face hardships most hadn't seen at the age of fifty, had been used and thrown about like a ragdoll by people claiming to have the best intentions.
Perhaps it wasn't even so different from how he himself had been treated, shut away, poor, his lycanthropy used against him to make him choose a side. Truthfully, he had never suspected Dumbledore of having any other intentions with letting him teach at Hogwarts before, but maybe it was a tad too convenient. He'd known Remus for years and years, knew he was innocent, that he had trouble getting work and was struggling for survival, and yet he was only employed when Harry went to Hogwarts, after something happened to the two previous, horrible teachers, when Harry had grown to understand that he was a hero ad was expected to act like it. Of course, Quirrel had been a first choice as he'd already taught another subject for years, but honestly, everyone with brains could know Lockhart was a fraud…
Also, now he thought about it, Dumbledore had been far too happy with the friendly relationship he and Harry built up and the time he spent teaching him to better defend himself. He himself considered it to be one of the major flaws in his teacher career that he'd favoured one student, and not taught it to everyone. Surely Dumbledore should not have condoned favouritism among his staff.
He carefully looked at Harry again when he heard the last, fully grinned line about Voldemort, and for a moment he was confused as to why anyone would be laughing about displeasing him before he remembered that by some twist of fate, Harry had ended up ranked rather highly in the Dark army, or circle, or whatever they called themselves now. At least, that was what Dumbledore had gathered from informants. –with whom he probably just meant Snape, of whom Remus really wasn't sure what side he really was on.-
Still… Harry must have made one hell of an impact to be happy about pissing Voldemort off and calling the... man? by one of his real names, one which was only known to a select few. He only knew because Dumbledore had once spoken about it and the name had struck him as so odd that it had stuck in his memory.
"What's he doing now?" Ron asked Harry. –Ron, another one of whom he couldn't believe what had happened to the lanky, lazy teen he'd taught in class, or met at Grimmauld's place in summer. Was this really the same Ron Weasley? So confident, so mature.-
"Talking and threatening mostly," the teen shrugged. "He wants to make the hospital cooperate with the government. Not sure how well it'll work but then again… he can get anything done."
"Somehow I don't think it's healthy how much you idolize him…" Sirius said, rather grimly.
"I don't!" Harry retorted, looking like he was torn between being embarrassed and offended. "I just… have a lot of confidence in him. I mean, he's rallied an army of different races to pursue freedom, he can change into a fucking dragon and let's not forget he's returned from the dead. Excuse me for thinking he's… impressive."
The rant made Remus smile, but he couldn't help but get a picture in his head of James defending himself to his parents when his father spoke sternly to him about dating a Muggleborn.
"She's the best of the class, she's showed amazing skills in charms –you should see her spellwork, you wouldn't believe it-, and she's just so…. Confident. I'm in love with her, and you can't change that, and the fact that she doesn't come from some high family doesn't either!"
Of course, the situation here was vastly different, but it was amusing to say the least.
"Harry?" he spoke up, and the attention of the other three was instantly on him.
"Do you know what will happen now? What is going to change?"
"I wish I did, but only so much can be predicted. What we want to happen is for magic-users to be openly accepted and respected, for the Muggle and Magical government to slowly become one, mainly ruled by magicians, for the everyday life to be regulated so that no-one and nothing will have to hide if that is not their wish. But of course, life doesn't always go like we want. It was not by choice that we had to reveal ourselves already during the battle, and it will make things both easier and more difficult."
"Well… first of all, there are a lot of people who don't believe in magic, who'll want to ignore it, or hate it, be prejudiced for whatever reason… I can already imagine the Dursleys right now…" he trailed off, before shrugging. "Anyways, the positive points are that there won't need to be an endless campaign of slowly making Muggles aware of us anymore. News about it will have been broadcasted throughout the world right now. As much as some will try to deny magic, it can't last long with so much evidence."
"What will change for… well, creatures?" he said, uncomfortably.
"For werewolves specifically, we'll try to end the prejudice, but that'll be hard… also because most Muggles won't take to it well. However, it's quite high up on the list due to Greyback having been in Marvolo's service for quite some time. Things that will definitely change are the current laws about allowing discrimination to happen, and make wolfsbane more accessible for those who want it. Try to remove the stigma… inform people better. For other creatures, it depends on their wants and needs, and the safety of the fully human population, be that Muggle or magical. We can't allow Dementors to roam freely for example, or vampires, but thankfully that is also not their wish."
Remus nodded thoughtfully. It made sense. That did not mean that he did not think of it all without skepticism though. He'd lived through the first war… The ideals then had been good in the start then as well, until Voldemort went mad and his cause died with him the day little Harry Potter defeated him. There was no telling what would happen now. However, Voldemort had reached more now than he'd ever done, in better ways than before, he could not deny that. The organisation was better, the program was better… or maybe merely the propaganda?
"I think…" he started, hesitating. "I think I will take some time for myself and contact the pack, trying to become comfortable and used to the wolf in me…"
"Well, you can," Harry shrugged. "The war is practically over. Only Hogwarts remains now, plus some scattered rebels. You can be glad, you came to sense right on time."
Remus shuddered at the threat that lay beneath those half-laughed words. Indeed, he could be… If he hadn't, he might be dead now. But well, that was war. People dying on both sides. "I hope that those you care for are safe," he spoke, meaning every word.
"I don't know yet for certain of some, but those most important to me… yes." Harry gave a meaningful smile at Sirius and Ron, which Remus didn't miss, and he was glad to see that Harry was so close to them, Sirius especially. The man had never forgiven himself for James. Maybe with helping Harry, he would finally find peace with it all. Suddenly, Harry had a far-away stare, and just when he wanted to ask if he felt alright, the teen sat down at the floor and leaned against the bed with his head, black strands spreading over the pristine hospital sheets.
"Give me a minute," he said, no other explanation given as he closed his eyes. The werewolf looked at the other two in the room, puzzled, but just got two confused looks back. Silently, they waited as Harry kept his eyes closed, various emotions crossing his face without any reason he could see. None of them spoke, all waiting with anticipation, but as time went by he lost his interest slightly, and instead gazed out of the window. He was glad to know that, unlike in the Ministry, it was real sunshine shining through the glass, though the plants on the windowsill didn't look any better because of it.
"Right, sorry for that, I have to go," Harry suddenly spoke, and Remus turned to him, surprised.
"What were you doing?"
"It's a bit... complicated to explain. Anyways, I really need to… oh." He cocked his head. "Okay nevermind. I think-"
The rest of his sentence was cut off when the door opened and a Healer came in, accompanied by none other than the Dark Lord himself.
"Mr Potter? So good to see you again! You have fully recovered from your injuries?" the healer addressed Harry, who gave her a sheepish smile.
"Healer Grace… Yeah, thanks for then."
"Nonsense, it's my work. But now, I have another patient to look at… my, it's getting crowded in here. Visitor hour only starts in half a day boys… but I suppose that we have something to celebrate hmm? Thank you for that freedom of magic."
"Oh yes, I almost forgot that you explicitly asked for that," Harry grinned. "Your wish has been granted."
"As expected," she winked. "Now, my Lord, do you object to my checking the health of the patient before you speak to him?" Remus stiffened when hearing that. He had thought Voldemort would have been here for Sirius, or Harry, not him…
"Not at all," Voldemort coolly replied, and to Remus' astonishment, while he approached the bed, he extended his hand for Harry to take, who was then pulled against the man. He shot a quick glance at the others, but Ron merely rolled his eyes and Sirius' mouth was a grim line while his eyes seemed to shoot fire. Then his vision was blocked by the nurse fussing over him, and he felt quite embarrassed with so many people in the room, being checked up. He endured it, thankful when she was done. He knew that his injuries were still quite bad and that he wouldn't be allowed to leave in the next few days, but it was a relief when she told him that his wounds were not poisoned like they had first concluded might be the case.
"Alright, I will send another healer here with salve in an hour, which will have to be applied on your wounds every three hours for the next two days. After, you will be as good as new," she said. "Usually we could have healed this with magic but sadly we are not quite sure how your… other condition, would affect that. There is not much research on it. Most lycanthropes don't wish to go to the hospital in fear of discrimination… and I am ashamed to admit that that does seem to be the case with some of my colleagues."
"And not with you?" he said, a tad sharper than intended.
She just smiled sadly and shook her head. "My son is a creature, actually. I haven't heard of him in ages but he seems to be doing quite well. He landed in a fairy circle as a child, and they took him with them instead of killing him for some reason. Now he's one of them in a way…"
"I thought fairies were harmless," Harry commented. "Lockhart once brought a cage of fairies… they hung poor Neville on the chandelier and wreaked havoc but that was all."
"Oh yes," Ron snorted. "I remember. Those blue pesky things. What did he try to use when they got out? Pesternomi-something? I wonder where he got that spell, it didn't do anything. Hermione had to teach us how to freeze them and put them back in the cage…"
"Well, at least that taught me charms could also be useful." Harry shrugged.
"If they were blue, I assume those were pixies, not fairies." Lupin remarked. "I don't think I covered fairies in class though. The usual fairy is humanoid and small, quite vain too. However, they're not the only fairy species. Fairies vary widely depending on the country, and some non-native species were introduced here by travelling witches and wizards who liked them as pets. That brought creatures such a sprites, which are more linked to the dead, into England. They bred with normal fairies and the results were half-living beings that were often jealous of their living parents and killed them. They are usually harmless to humans, unless that human happens to wander into one of their circles while they are also there. Adults can often break the spell, certainly magical people, but children are not always so lucky."
"They sound like… quite horrible creatures."
"It's how they were born… they live purely on instinct." Marvolo remarked. "They don't know the concept of good and evil anymore than an angry bear who is disturbed by a human."
"Then how can they raise a child?"
"It wasn't so much that they raised him…" Healer Grace said, staring out of the window. "But they fed him and kept him healthy, and he helped them in turn. I thought I had lost him but found him years after and tried to raise him properly, but he was too… wild, and the fairy magic had gotten to him. They had taught him how to communicate with the dead too, and it was very disturbing. Of course, we have all seen ghosts, but those are imprints of a person, how they were when they died. He even saw the souls of departed people… Apparently they sometimes return to earth to see how their loved ones are doing."
"I never really believed in life after death…" Voldemort cut in. "Ghosts are one thing, but to believe the spirit actually lives on too? What's next, reincarnation?"
"I'm not asking you to believe… but there are many mysteries to this world, my Lord," she said, respectful bowing her head. "And humans, magicians especially, should do well to not rule out what we haven't heard of or seen yet with our own eyes. Now, I have to go attend to my other patients…" She bowed and went out of the room. Remus was surprised about that the Dark Lord, known killer and torturer, was received so well by the healers of St Mungo's.
"Thank you. Now, Lupin…" He jumped when icy, completely red eyes turned to him. "Just a short message and I will be leaving. I will allow you in Greyback's pack, but if you ever return to the Order, the rest of your very short life will be miserable. I know you still have doubts and don't want the mark and I won't ask that. In fact, I wouldn't give it to you if you begged for it. The war is over and I don't feel like giving any others a privileged status that they do not deserve if not having fought for our side up until this moment. Marked people will, of course, be in a slightly higher tier of society… And yes, that includes those who wanted it and worked for me but whom I did not give it due to circumstance," he spoke, the last line directed at Ron Weasley, who made a low bow.
By now, Remus had given up being surprised about who was all on Voldemort's side. "However, many still see you as an enemy, so you'd do better to leave as quickly as possible. You are one of the few Werewolves who enjoyed education, apart from the ones who were turned after, so I assign you to teach those who did not until professional schooling can be set up for those who missed it."
Remus blinked. Of all things, this was definitely not something he had expected. Actually, he hadn't expected Voldemort to care about werewolf education at all. Perhaps he had misjudged again. Voldemort absolutely seemed different from the insane man he had seen in battles in the first war. He suddenly noticed the impatient, expectant stare and cleared his throat. "I will.. do my best. I always liked teaching so it's not that hard for me to do… I planned on leaving to the pack when I am allowed out of the hospital."
"But you'll visit right?" Harry suddenly asked, and if it hadn't shocked him so much, he would have laughed at the exasperated groan that came from Voldemort.
"The house is full enough as it is with half of Britain constantly over the floor because you happen to like everyone."
"Well that's a good thing, otherwise I'd probably never have liked you either." Harry retorted, receiving a glare.
I will show you exactly why you like me… later." The tone of it, the soft, tortured groans coming from both Ron and Sirius simultaneously and the previous conversations told Remus everything and more than he ever wanted to know. Well, to each their own. Seems he'd read the tone Harry had used when speaking about Voldemort earlier had been taking in correct context after all.
"Black, you can return to office now. Ronald, go help your brothers. I don't care which one of them as long as you do something useful and don't return before tomorrow morning." Sirius gave a long whiny rant about not wanting to be cooped up in an office but was silenced by a deadly glare and the flash of a white wand being half-drawn in threat. "And go in dog-form, I don't want anyone to assassinate you before you start being useful. Also, you had better return that cloak to me tomorrow or I will strangle you with it."
"Thought you didn't want him assassinated?" Harry curiously asked.
"If I have the body I can always turn him into an Inferius," Voldemort smirked, which made Sirius hastily transform into a giant black dog.
"So much more inconspicuous." The teen added dryly as Sirius burst through the door and ran away. Somewhere, a high pitched scream sounded.
"Come, I have more things to do than hang around here and hope to be home before the evening falls. Lupin, you best make your pack proud. Ronald, I expect to see you somewhere tomorrow."
Harry came up to Remus and carefully hugged him, which the man was slightly surprised about. Harry and he had, apart from the year in which he'd taught at Hogwarts, interacted much. After his Dementor lessons and the disaster with forgetting the wolfsbane at the end of the year, they seemed to have either avoided each other, or maybe that was just what he had thought of it. When Harry had come to the Order, he had been too busy to give the boy much thought. To see him here now and have Harry hug him was… odd."
"You will visit right? No matter what he says?"
"Erhm… I shall see… if I'm unwelcome…" he stuttered, throwing the menacing Dark Lord a hesitant look. The only answer was an unimpressed, raised eyebrow that didn't look like it promised much good if he would stop by unannounced.
"Well, then I'll just visit you." Harry replied. "It's a pity that we lost touch after third year. I'd like to mend that, especially now Sirius and you are friends again."
"I'd like to as well. Just don't venture too close during full moon hm?"
"I'll consider myself warned. Well, get better. Sorry for not bringing any chocolate…"
"That's alright, it's my job to hand out chocolate anyways, not yours."
A cough sounded and Harry pulled away, looking at the other man. He gave a slight wave and a grin to Ron. "See you tomorrow. And Remus, get well!"
With that, he joined Voldemort and walked out of the room. With an unsure look, he met Ron's eyes. "They are…"
"Yep," the teen answered with a half-shrug.
"Once Harry has something in his mind he's not to be swatted off of it. However, I am not even sure if it's good to keep him away from Voldemort now… He may be less-than-nice to most and is, in my opinion, not a good man at all, but he's good to him… as a person."
"But to have him with him on the battlefield… isn't he regarding Harry as older than he is and dragging him too much in all the war and complications?"
"Actually," Ron spoke. "We were all in this war long before, when starting first year at Hogwarts."
Remus thought a while about that. It was true, even back then they had had to overcome monsters and traps, dark wizards and manipulations. Now, at least the war was their own choice. "Expected to be soldiers in a war you were born in…" he said quietly. "I'm glad that now you are doing it because you want it, not because you're forced to."
"So am I…" Ron said. "And glad that I'm not some cannon fodder either, or a constant sidekick. Of course, I'm quite over my childish jealousy of Harry… I can't believe that I ever thought he had it good just because people watched him… fame accounts for nothing when it's given unasked and unwanted…"
"You grew up a lot," Remus noted, and he saw the boy in a different light than before. Ron just shrugged.
"Living with the Dark Lord and having some talks with him makes you a lot older by default," he commented, and Remus had to cover his shock.
"Lived with him?"
"For a short while first when I had nowhere to go. It's not uncommon for Death Eaters to stay there when not having a fixed place actually. Then I stayed with Fred and George. I'm back at the Dark Lord's manor now though, because I have to be constantly available as his strategist."
"You must be good."
"It's the one thing I can properly do and enjoy doing so I'm happy with the position… But I have to go now as well… get well!"
Remus lay back on the bed, tired, but having too much on his mind to sleep. Well, it seemed as if he'd switched sides... But far later than he should have done.
The day had been long and tiresome, and Harry had been glad to be able to return before his lover had. He'd made himself some tea and was waiting on the couch in the small living room when he sensed that Marvolo had come home. Patiently, he waited until the man came through the doors, and he got up to greet him with a kiss. Behind his lover he could see a few Death Eaters, who walked away when it became clear they were not welcome anymore.
The moment the doors closed behind them and there was no-one else left but the two of them, a change happened in Marvolo. His shoulders sagged and he seemed to grow much older in a few seconds. Harry was instantly on alert and rushed to his side. "Marvolo?" he exclaimed, alarmed. The man gave a vague wave with his hand and stumbled towards the couch, groaning as he lay himself down on the soft surface, propping his head up with a pillow. "What's wrong?"
"Just tired…" the other replied, heaving a deep sigh. Thankful for it not being anything worse, but still worrying, Harry sat down beside him and stroked his lover's face.
"When did you last sleep?"
"Days ago?" Marvolo muttered, sounding half-asleep already. "Couldn't risk sleeping… morons… able to follow instructions…. No supervision-" Harry released a long, suffering sigh and helped the man up.
"Sleeping here is not the best idea."
"Agreeing with a grunt, Marvolo managed to get to his feet and together, they walked slowly towards the bedroom, hands entwined even as they lowered themselves on the bed.
"Hopefully the sleepless nights will be over now…"he said, kissing his fiancé briefly. Getting an idea, he swung his legs over the man's waist to sit on top of him. Marvolo didn't look as if he appreciated it, but Harry didn't particularly care for the moment of disgruntlement. Warming his hands briefly with magic, he placed his fingers on Marvolo's skin and started kneading it, smiling when it evoked a long half-groan, half-sigh.
"Good?" he asked softly, kissing the man's neck when he heard an agreeing sound. "So, no more war for now… not until you decide it's time to crush the few still rebelling."
"While it might be good to do so, so they won't gain strength… there are more important matters at current, and we also had losses. Let the ones who died be buried first and let us get some respite," Marvolo answered. "Build something up instead of fighting while on the edge."
"So for now, lay low?"
"Only regarding fighting... there's much to do, but that will be political games and trying to keep the people happy. And of course, we'll have to wait and see to find out what the reaction will be from the Muggle side. They were exposed suddenly to magic. Many will deny it like the Prime Minister said he did, but not all of them. Some may flock to us for guidance, some form groups to try and exterminate us. But regarding war, yes, we are finished for now."
"Brilliant," he answered, while his fingers dug deeper into skin, caressing the rougher patches of scales and the smoothness between. He suddenly hugged them man and snuggled up to him, chest against back, the cold seeping into his skin. "How tired are you, exactly?" he cheekily asked.
"Too tired for your games brat," Marvolo groaned.
"That again? Well, I am in my sixties, excuse me for feeling old."
"Dumbledore was still kicking when he was about twice your age."
"I doubt he had a horny lover who sucked the life out of him. At least I hope he didn't because that image is very disturbing. On the other hand, he might have died a lot sooner if he'd had."
"Oh? So this is my fault? Didn't you leave me frustrated at the hospital? What was that promise about very long, very rough sex?" Harry asked, a tad annoyed, pressing his growing erection to his fiancé, who chuckled sleepily.
"I can't help that getting you hot and bothered is so much fun."
"If you would have had hair I would have pulled it now," Harry said. "As it is…" he suddenly flipped the both of them over. "You're lighter than you might think," he smirked as Marvolo gave him a surprised look. "Or I have gained muscles." Deciding that was enough talking, he closed his lips around Marvolo's cock, sucking fervently to get him up. It didn't take as long as he had thought, and hands soon found its way into his hair.
"You'll pay for that," the man groaned out.
"And I'm looking very much forward to that the coming months," he smirked in between licks. Marvolo did not answer, instead let his head hit the pillowed again.
And there is it, end of Part II ^.^ I hope you all enjoyed the story so far. Interlude will be up hopefully soon, after which all chapters of Part II will be published again with better spelling and several minor changes to reduce plot holes :)
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