THE LAST PRINCE II: The Pact and A Prophecy
Summary: see chapter 20.
Disclaimer: see chapter 20.
Warnings: see previous chapters.
A/N: Last two chapters. Can we get it up to 300 reviews before it ends? And just to address one anonymous review:
Harry CANNOT leave England even if his or Severus' life is threatened because, well, he is the High Lord of magical Britain, and he holds office there. And before you ask, no he CANNOT leave the post vacant because it would bring chaos to the Ministry and all that jazz. And there won't be a story if I make him and Sev pack up and go. So there. And the Grandmaster has to be kept a secret until I say so. Otherwise, we wouldn't be getting the 3rd Book in the trilogy –C.
P.S. Poll on what I should do next is still up –vote if you haven't already.
The Last Prince II: The Pact and A Prophecy
By: C.M. Oliver
Chapter 49: Leads and Limbo
"So, did it go well?" Albus welcomed Severus as soon as the onyx-eyed man was back from conversing with Harry.
"Well as it could be," the Potions Master sighed. 'But really, must I be clad in white for it?"
The old wizard chuckled. "Ah, Severus. We merely wanted harry to see this dream of you differently from his usual nightmares. There is no sinister reasoning behind that contrary to what it may seem." As Severus rolled his eyes, Albus let out an amused chuckle.
"Now, we wait –the game so many play and lose. Shall you join me in searching for something to occupy ourselves with?" Severus snorted. "How do souls entertain themselves in Limbo anyway? Counting clouds? Oh, pardon me. Everything here is made up of clouds." Albus' eyes twinkled with mirth.
"That is where being creative comes into play." The former Headmaster then waved his hands loftily in front of them, A life-sized chess set, much like McGonagall's bewitched ones, appeared before Severus' very eyes. The dark-haired wizard smirked. "Fancy losing yourself a few matches, Albus?"
"Oho, not quite, dear boy." Albus chuckled. "I had years worth of practice with Nicholas Flammel in the afterlife. I may have picked up a thing or two."
"We shall see," Severus took his spot behind the black pieces with a thoughtful look on his face. "Was he the one who taught you how to play?"
For a second there, the Potions Master thought that he saw a wistful look cross the features of his mentor. But it quickly gave way to a timid smile. "No. A once dear friend taught me the rules of Wizard's Chess. He was a Grandmaster in our day… pity, he no longer plays the game."
Severus took a deep breath as he filed the information away in his mind. There would be time to analyze that tidbit of information once he was back in the land of the living. It should contribute to the growing wealth of doubts and information that he was engendering with regards to this whole fiasco him and Harry were currently embroiled in. Across the board, Albus took his spot behind the white pieces. The man may have been a brilliant strategist, but he was innately hopeless in a chess game. Severus confidently met the man's gaze. "Your move, Headmaster."
A tiny smile crept up Albus' lips as he moved a pawn. "Now, it is yours, Headmaster," he gestured towards Severus who winced a little at the reminder of his oft-shunned role in the last war. Albus noticed this.
"It was necessary."
"Yes, but –"
"If you still have blame left in your soul, lay it on me. Now, I believe that it is your turn. "
Severus conceded the argument and moved his own black pawn on the board. "I believe in Harry –"
"We all do, my boy –"
"He will do whatever it takes," Severus continued on as he watched Albus discern his next move. "I think that is what worries me the most."
"What?" Albus finished his turn. "That he will sacrifice everything to see to it that you endure?"
"Honestly, yes." Severus shook his head. He was watching the board, trying to see if the older wizard was already laying down a trap. "His selflessness… scares me. I –Albus, what if Corvus could not be found? What if the counter curse fails?"
Albus cocked his head on to one side as he saw Severus move a knight. "Young Harry has everything at his disposal to be able to bring you back. Yes, even the means to track this estranged cousin of yours. It will only be a matter of time –ah, your move."
The pawn that the Headmaster placed right next to Severus' knight was promptly disposed of. "I do wish you could tell me more, Albus. There are far too many unknowns this time around that makes dealing with Tom Riddle seem like child's play."
Albus scratched his chin before deciding on another pawn. "I wish I could do so, my boy. But Fate has restrictions in sending help. All I can tell you is that whatever it is that has to be done, it cannot be done alone – There are grander things in store for you and your bonded and it must be met with your hands joined."
"I'd better not die here then," Severus countered with a bishop. "You do seem very confident –relaxed even, Albus. Can you –can you see the future?" Albus met his former protégé's gaze. "Fortune-telling is never an exact science. Nothing is set in stone. But even so, no. I'm afraid that I do not carry the Sight. Perhaps, I can ask Sybill to–"
"Never mind." Severus surveyed the board once more and saw Albus' plan to trap his bishop in two moves. He moved another pawn. "The Prophecy?"
"Not entirely. Yes, the Fiama Prophecy plays a part. But mostly, it is the very nature of you both. There is reason why Fate brought your souls together. How many times have you both defied time, logic and even Death?" Albus took Severus' pawn with one of his own. "Quite frankly, I've lost count. How many seemingly insurmountable obstacles have you overcome together?"
"Too many to bloody count." Severus used his bishop to take Albus' pawn, deciding that the need to protect his kingside castle was more important. "Albus, may I ask you one more thing though?"
"Ask away, my dear boy."
"Is it –is it possible for me to speak to another soul like you while I'm stuck here in Limbo?"
Albus put a knight forward, delaying his capture of Severus' bishop. "Perhaps, that could be arranged. Who is it that wish to converse with? Your mother? Your grandfather? Or perhaps your dear friend, Lily Potter?"
Severus shook his head inwardly at Albus' missed opportunity and moved his bishop to safety. "Although I would never otherwise turn an opportunity to speak with them down, no. Not now. I have another soul in mind. Actually, this has to do with harry more than myself. I believe it should help him better deal with what is to come with the Wizengamot and perhaps, give me clarity on my role in his life."
Albus finally saw his mistake and with a frown, moved his knight back. "Who would you wish to speak to?"
"I wish to speak to Nile Peverell."
Senior Auror Gawain Robards slumped down in his swivel chair dejectedly. It was in the wee hours of the morning, twenty days after the much-publicized attack on Lord Severus Prince. Since then, he and his team have been scouring every inch of Magical and Muggle Britain and even neighboring countries in search of the perpetrators. They have even sought help from International Ministries. But sadly, all efforts were to no avail. They had no leads, no progress, nothing. Robards was almost at his wit's end. Voldemort's reign was child's play compared to this. At least then, they knew who exactly they were dealing with. Now, although they were dealing with less people, it was unnerving not to know who their leader was, who this Grandmaster was.
The Auror Corps Head sighed as he read through the piles of reports on his desk. Six days ago, the Minister himself ordered his troops to redirect their efforts from searching for this mysterious figurehead to the man's right hand (as it seemed that way), Corvus Port –Lord Prince's estranged cousin, and now, prime suspect. Their orders had been clear. Corvus was needed alive, and as soon as he was found, he was to be delivered straight to the High Lord no matter what circumstance or time of the day it was. Robards thought the request peculiar, although understandable. Of course the High Lord wanted revenge for his husband, and to deliver such in person. Robards did away of what he personally knew of the young noble, Harry Potter. He was one of those utterly shocked at the revelation, but having been subjected to the man's presence both as Tristan Peverell and as the pre-teen Gryffindor, Robards was one to agree that the Savior of the Wizarding world did deserve the Seat and was completely capable of handling the brunt of the power it held. Harry Potter had indeed matured, for the short time that he was away after the War, until his reemergence right after Christmas. Robards may be years advanced in age, but he could see himself willingly following the commands of the markedly younger Vanquisher of Voldemort; He was a worthy general. Gawain Robards could call himself proud to be serving under the young man's rule.
The Senior Auror was almost halfway through his usual stack 'failed raids' reports when something broke through the quiet rustling of papers. He looked up.
There it was, an unmistakable hoot of an owl. And true enough, a hazy form in flight was heading towards the lone window of Robards' office.
'Post? At this time of the day? And why isn't it heading towards the Ministry Post Office instead like all standard official correspondence?' The Chief Auror hurriedly stood up from his seat and opened the window. A smoky-gray screech owl landed on his desk, a tightly rolled scroll lodged in its left leg. Robards took his wand out and carefully casted a blanket detection charm. It glowed blue. Nothing. Not even a homing or tracking charm for the bird. He pocketed his cherry wand and proceeded to untie the missive from the owl's leg. The screech immediately took off as soon as the scroll was unfurled, but Robards paid it no mind. His sharp brown eyes were cemented onto the small scrap of parchment as soon as he read the first few words written on it:
Corus Port can be found at 11 August Way, Wiltshire.
There were coordinates at the bottom, written in a loopy scrawl. But there was no signature.
'An anonymous tip?' Gawain Robards had never thought that he could run as fast as he did when he was still an Auror trainee some 50 years or so ago, but run fast, he did. Clutching the parchment tightly in his left hand, he made his way towards the nearest secure Floo connection down the corridor. With a shaking right hand, he threw the purple powder in the grate.
A very weary-looking Amelia Bones appeared on the other end about a minute later, rubbing her tired eyes. All DMLE personnel were on call 24/7 since the 'incident' on New Year's Eve, including their Department Head. "Robards! Are you aware that it's three in the morning? This better be good!"
Robards froze slightly at his superior's caustic tone. Everyone was on the edge, an understandably so. But the man disregarded whatever propriety may dictate. He was to speak the words that he had longed to say ever since Task Force Royal had been formed.
"Madame, we now have a lead on the whereabouts of Corvus Prince."
Another wave of Albus' hand paused the chess game and Severus was then seated on one of two cushy armchairs that the old wizard had conjured from clouds. The onyx-eyed man did not know why Albus even bothered –souls did not get famished – but a low table was set for tea off to one side. The man then left to get Severus' request, with a promise to return once the two have already spoken in private.
But as of now, Nile Peverell has yet to make an appearance. Severus absently toyed with the hem of his, once again, black robes –similar to the ones he wore during the Engagement Party –as he waited for the emergence of the infamous nobleman. He quietly gathered his thoughts on what to actually say once he's had his chance to speak to the Peverell Progeny.
"You know, you look awfully a lot like my Euphrates," a dulcet baritone broke through Severus' reveries. He looked up and his dark eyes were met by quite a fetching sight. He stood up. "Lord Peverell," he greeted the newcomer with a curt nod. The other man smiled.
"Please, call me Nile. I no longer own that title." Nile waved his hand. "Take your seat, Lord Prince. Albus tells me that you wish to speak about my heir." Nile took the seat opposite Severus as the Potions Master reclaimed his.
"Nile, call me Severus then,"
"Of course, Severus," Nile nodded, his beautiful evergreen eyes sparkling with amusement as he saw the tea service. "Mind if I fix myself a cup?"
"Go ahead." Severus replied. Nile was adding lemon to his cup, when he noticed Severus staring. "Yes, is anything the matter?" Severus felt his face flush.
"No –it is merely –you resemblance to my husband is quite –astonishing."
"Do you believe in reincarnation, Severus?"
"You mean, souls getting a new lease in life?"
"Something similar to that." Nile took a sip of his tea before setting the plain white cup down on the mahogany console. "The muggles have the general picture, but their understanding of it is quite different."
"What do you mean?" Severus waited on curiously at the man who looked so much like his beloved Harry –it just made him ache more for the Gryffindor. Nile caught Severus' expression and smiled. "They say souls get re-housed in new bodies when people get reincarnated. But if we were to take that for fact, then I should not be existing right before you –neither should Euphrates back at home."
"He –you're together then?" Severus asked. So his and Harry's ancestors found a way to be together somehow. It lifted a burden that the Potions Master did not know was lodged inside him. Nile's face brightened, as if reading Severus' thoughts.
"Thank you for taking good care of my journal, by the way."
"Oh –" Severus reddened. "I did not mean to –"
"No, no, it is quite alright." Nile assured him. "It was meant for you. Keep it. Learn from my mistakes. Let Harry glean from it as well."
"So you and Euphrates –"
"Soul mates always find each other, Severus. No matter what. Not all though are lucky like you and Harry who find theirs in their lifetime, but everyone eventually gets reunited with their intended, one way or another. My Euphrates and I found each other in the realm of after-death."
A pang of unease crossed Severus' features. "If I perish, will Harry and I find each other in the after-death?"
Those sentiments did something that Severus did not expect to happen, in any realm whatsoever. Nile stood up from his seat and enveloped the current Lord Prince in a tight hug. A mere minute later, the Peverell Progeny pulled away, leaving Severus still in shock at what had just transpired. Nile smirked uncharacteristically and resumed his place on the couch opposite Severus.
"Pardon me, Nile, but did you just –"
"Hug you?" Nile chuckled. "Yes, yes I did."
"I get that, but why?"
Nile fixed Severus a pondering gaze before taking another sip of his tea. "Euphrates wishes to convey his good tidings and has asked me to tell you how proud he is of you. You've completed his life's work, the Male Pregnancy Potion. Back then, it was only a dream for brewers, but you've made it into a reality."
"Thank you," said Severus, resigning himself to the fact that he may never get a straight answer for Nile's earlier antics. "Although I wish it were completed sooner. Maybe if he was able to get it done, then you two –" Nile shook his head.
"Euphrates and I –we both knew the moment we've met that we were not meant to end up together, at least not in our lifetimes. But we knew that there was reason, a purpose –something we both full realized the moment we saw each other in this plane of existence –"
A pregnant pause ensued.
"Harry and myself?" Severus clarified.
"reincarnation," Nile continued on, "Does not recycle souls, but chances. It does not re-house them in bodies anew but instead, takes those bodies and breathes life anew unto them." He locked gazes with the dark-eyed wizard. "You want to know why you and Harry were specifically brought together, right?" When Severus nodded, Nile replied. "There is no reason –it just is. And before you ask, no, I do not have the gift of Sight either."
"Was that what Fate told you when you had asked?" Severus cocked an eyebrow in wonderment. Nile laughed.
"You really think I am that special for Fate to ever grant me audience?"
"Honestly, yes," said Severus. Nile smirked. "Flattery will get you anywhere, my dear Severus." He took another sip of his tea. "I was granted audience, alright, but I did not have the opportunity to question Lady Fate myself. Perhaps you should speak with your ancestor –"
"Inquisitive Prince men," quipped the emerald-eyed man. He then drained the last of his tea. "Existence is one big leap of faith. Neither life nor death is a constant. The same thing applies to you and Harry. Foreseeing the future is not necessary for anyone to know, however, that come what may, you and my heir will endure."
"You can continue to ask questions, but there is no guarantee that the answers will come in an endless stream. Sometimes, all you need to achieve clarity is to accept that sometimes, there are no answers. The Pact, the Fiama Prophecy are all but yardsticks by which you can track the progress of your existence. Do not let it dictate your choices. What you and Harry have is special and purposeful –the same way I had to meet Euphrates, they same way I had had to take my own life, the same way your ancestor had failed then to complete the Male Pregnancy Potion. There is no better advice I can give you other than to believe. Believe, Severus, and all will fall into place." The former Lord Peverell then stood up. "Will you be so kind as to take a message for that foolishly brave heir of mine?"
"Of course," said Severus. The smile returned to Nile Peverell's lips.
"Stop being so Gryffindorish. And do not, under any circumstance, forget to name an heir after Euphrates and I." he winked. "Well, I'd best get going. Albus tells me that you were looking forward to finishing that chess game with him. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but that old coot is rather hopeless at it, so I'm pretty sure you'll win. But I wish you the best of luck anyway… as with everything else," he ended meaningfully. Nile turned to leave. Severus watched him go.
"It's just that –Harry and I had a bet. What House were you in when you attended Hogwarts? It was never mentioned in your records –at least the ones that we've managed to unearth." Nile fixed him a curious gaze, his emerald eyes looking quite puzzled.
"Oh, really? What do you reckon?"
"Harry says Gryffindor –" Severus rolled his eyes. "And I –well, I call Hufflepuff."
Nile chuckled airily. "Neither. I'm a Slytherin just like you. And before you ask, Euphrates is a Gryffindor."
The sun was well over August Way, when the Alpha Squad arrived three houses away from their target, Number 11. Number 14 August Way thankfully belonged to a Squib, so they were able to set up surveillance without much hassle.
Senior Auror Aubrey Jones, second-in-command to S/A Robards was leading the extraction team. She, and her partner, S/A Blythe Merewether's team were tasked to apprehend and arrest Corvus Port while Robards' team dealt with the inevitable collateral damage. A team of Obliviators were present as well, seeing as August Way was a predominantly muggle neighborhood. Hopefully they would not be needed much.
"Auror Jones," It was S/A Dwight Kensington, their lead reconnaissance. "The tip is spot-on. Port's magical signature is definitely present at the location. We do not have a visual yet due to the tinted windows, but we are able to detect the presence of two others."
"Fudge and Umbridge?" Jones asked. Kensington shook his head. "Not certain. But one of the two others appears to be barely legal."
"A kid?" Jones raised an eyebrow. "Does Port have a child?"
"Not to our knowledge," Kensington admitted. "But if there is a kid in there, we might need –"
"No," Jones said grimly. "Our orders are clear. We secure the target. Leave the others to Robards. I assume he has been briefed?"
"Yes, Duke did." Kensington sighed. "Parameters for use of force?"
"We are to bring Port in alive. Anyone who gets in the way, deal with them as necessary."
"Gotcha. All set though. When do we move in?" Jones glanced at her watch.
"No time like the present. Blythe!" She called her partner over, who was until then, conversing with the rest of their team. "Showtime!" Blythe Merewether came over, smiling.
"Alright, men and women –let's get cracking!"
It was almost noon when the anti-apparition wards went up, blanketing the whole of August Way. Then, the Floo connections in a 100-mile radius were jammed.
Finally, the front door of Number 11 came crashing down without warning. Blythe Merewether was the one to thank for that, her and her well-casted Knock-Back Hex. Jones was not far behind, her wand at the ready. She pushed past her partner.
"CORVUS PORT, YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR GRAVE ASSAULT AND CONSPIRING TO MURDER LORD SEVERUS PRINCE OF THE COURT OF WIZENGAMOT! SURRENDER NOW AND YOU WILL BE UNHARMED!"
"What in the world –"
A number of different things happened all at once.
There was a shriek, a surprised gasp. Then, a misfired spell.
Then all hell broke loose. Outside, Robards and his team were ready to come in as backup. But when the Head Auror heard the first spell go off, he threw all plans out of the window and barged into the house with his wand ablaze.
"WHAT IN MERLIN'S UNDERPANTS –"
Spells flew left and right. There were at least three people on the ground. Robards grimaced when he saw most of them clad in navy Auror robes. How can one untrained wizard cause much carnage? His eyes zeroed in on the opposite end of the room.
"Fudge –there was no surprise there… Port –all the better. But the third person in the room made Robards gasp. He knew that hair anywhere. A Weasley.
"What in the blazes is going on in here?"
-END OF CHAPTER 49-
A/N: What the hell did just happen there? Who tipped off the Aurors? And who liked Nile Peverell's return to our story? Is this the end of Corvus' freedom? Will he escape again? Who did Robards see that got him so worked up? When will I post the next part?Up next: Chapter 50: Race Against Time –The penultimate end for this part of our Trilogy? Will Severus live? Will the Grandmaster finally be revealed? Don't miss this monster of a chapter!
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