Chapter Forty-One: Two Years Later
They were five miles into the hike when Trucido heard someone behind him lengthen their steps, trying to fall into pace next to him. He glanced over; it was Lucius, of course.
"My Lord?" Lucius asked, with an edge of sarcasm. Trucido considered ignoring him, but then nodded acknowledgement.
"May I inquire as to our destination?" Lucius was obviously annoyed. "Any why, pray tell, are we walking there? We could fly or apparate."
"It's the only way to find where we're going," Trucido said, as if that were obvious.
"And where would that be?" Lucius was even more demanding this time.
"Won't know' til we get there," Trucido said casually.
"Shh," Trucido said firmly. In his peripheral vision, he saw Lucius' jaw drop in a moment of gracelessness quite unlike him, before he gained his composure. On the inside, Trucido was grinning. He can't stand some 24 year old 'kid' talking to him like that, Trucido thought, amused.
"Trucido—" Lucius said in a more commanding tone, dropping the 'Lord', trying to take charge.
Trucido wasn't having any of it. He stopped in his tracks, leaving Lucius to stop unexpectedly, knocking him off balance. "Am I your Lord, or am I not?" he demanded.
"Yes," Lucius said grudgingly. Trucido continued, trying to leave him behind.
"Can't you—" Lucius started, but Trucido cut him off a third time. Lucius' pale complexion was turning red with frustration. It was the most fun Trucido had in a long time.
"Shh!" Trucido repeated, "I can't listen when you're talking." Lucius fell silent.
Trucido focused on his sense of hearing, turning slightly to the right and uphill. A minute later and he came to a stop, gazing around the hill. Lucius caught up again and stood stoically, raising an eyebrow.
"This is it," Trucido said. Boulders were scattered across the landscape like a giant's game of marbles, and the ground was rocky. A cluster of boulders on the side of the hill suddenly moved, rolling apart in unison to reveal a dark hole in the ground.
The five Death Eaters accompanying Trucido were fairly shocked; they'd all suspected the pressure of being the new Dark Lord had finally cracked the young man. They hadn't really cared, since he was more a figurehead than anything else. They'd been the power behind him all these years, Lucius in particular. However, Trucido had to be indulged here and there to keep him cooperative, and while the walk had been tedious they'd followed along faithfully. Now they were completely mystified, and it occurred to them for the first time that Trucido actually had something in mind, and was up to something they weren't in control of.
"Wait here," Trucido commanded, leaving them behind and striding into the cave.
Inside it was dark, and still. "I've come," he announced.
Finally, movement. Writhing up to him, the Naga Oracle uncurled into an upright position, snake body supporting his human half.
"You know, at first I thought I was hallucinating," Trucido told him . "Then I realized that I wasn't just dreaming, and you were speaking to me." Trucido had followed the faint hissing voice for miles to find the location of the cave.
The Naga Oracle looked pleased. He gestured for Trucido to exit the cave, and then followed at the young man's side.
Outside, the faces of the Death Eaters fell, pale in horror.
Trucido didn't feel the need to explain himself or his companion in any way. "They don't looked particularly pleased," he hissed in Parseltongue, the gift of snake-speech that he'd inherited from his father.
"In the old daysss, I wasss more powerful than they," Shissskae rationalized. "Sssince the departure of their esssteemed leader, through you they havvve gained all the power they ever dreamed of."
"To a powerful alliance, then, my new friend," Trucido proposed, folding his arms and gazing at his 'followers' with a newly acquired aura of confidence, authority. The plan gave him a feeling of control he'd been without for so very long.
"We need to prepare," Trucido spoke in English to the men.
"Prepare for what?" Lucius asked, as if dreading the answer.
"To resurrect my father," Trucido informed them.
They looked at him blankly, faces frozen with the same expression of horror.
"… you want to… bring Lord Voldemort back?" Lucius asked slowly. "…really?"
Trucido looked at him closely, with feigned suspicion. "You do not? Well my father will definitely be interested to hear of this."
"With you assss Dark Lord, they do assss they like. They have nothing to fear from you, they gain nothing by bringing him back," Shissskae commented.
"Well things are about to change around here," Trucido responded. "I assume you all remember the Naga Oracle," he said to the others. "He has given me the information I need to return my father to corporeal form."
He enjoyed the way the others actually grew fearful to hear his hissing speak, it just reminded them too much of their former master. It was one thing that had always set him apart, proved his lineage and right to succeed as Dark Lord. He was a powerful wizard in his own right, but simply not ambitious enough to assume complete authority. Voldemort's inner circle had taken advantage of the situation after their masters seeming demise. The fear of the father had transferred to the son, giving him enough respect that everyone listened. "You're sure this is the best way?" he asked Shissskae in parseltongue.
"Trussst meee." The Naga Oracle hissed.
A knock on the compartment door caught Harry and Tracy's attention, and they looked up from their game of wizard's chess to see Draco open the door and step in. A voice behind him caught Draco's attention, and he turned to see Ron and Hermione behind him before holding the door open.
Harry smiled to himself, amused.
In the two years that Harry had now been going to Hogwarts with his friends things had peaceably settled. Having parents was better than he ever dreamed. Lily was safely returned to James, they'd had a sweet reunion.
Nothing had changed much on the dark wizard front: for fifteen years the majority of the Death Eaters let the crusade go and slowly melted away into the regular Wizarding society. The ones left over rallied around Lord Trucido, and the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry sometimes had their hands full with their mischief, but there wasn't enough firepower behind their actions to be a true threat to the Wizarding World. Nothing dramatic enough had taken place that Harry felt he needed to step in and involve himself. He was living the regular life of a young wizard.
Ron and Hermione had gotten used to the presence of Draco, since Harry was a Slytherin and Draco was inevitably around. Draco himself even seemed friendly, and there were no harsh words or confrontation between the potential enemies. Tracy stuck by his side as his best friend. She'd come over to his house the week before term started, it wasn't uncommon for her to visit. Most of Hogwarts assumed they were 'together' even though they never displayed any evidence supporting that, Harry and Tracy didn't particularly care what they thought. 'Why can't a guy and a girl be friends without everyone making a fuss?' Tracy would wonder sarcastically.
Draco, Ron, and Hermione settled across from them in the compartment, although Draco sat next to the window and the other two left a gap between them. They weren't very close friends, Draco seemed sometimes to think he owed it to his reputation to make some snide comments, but his reputation wasn't that 'bad' to begin with. Ron and Hermione seemed to be very much the same people as Harry had known them in what he sometimes referred to as 'his first life'. His first life seemed so very long ago now. Things were better, maybe it was best to be forgotten. Sometimes he dreamed about it.
Maybe it had all been a dream to begin with? He wondered, though he didn't really believe it. Camellia showed up here and there, he knew the Thirteen was out there on their freaky little island. He hoped they weren't brewing any plans in those shifty heads of theirs.
Suddenly he recalled Camellia's words, 'It would have been better for you in the long run. You'll see.' He shivered. He didn't want to know what that meant; he hoped he never found out.
"How was your summer, Draco?" Harry asked.
Draco looked over at him from where he'd been gazing at the window. "Fine, I guess. My mother and I went to France."
"What about your father?" Harry asked curiously.
"What about him?" Draco said with a shrug. "He was gone, busy with other things. My father has never been around, my whole life."
"What does he do?" Tracy asked.
"It's pretty secret, but…" Draco looked as if he were saying something he really shouldn't; he leaned in and lowered his voice. "I have a brother somewhere he likes more than me."
"You have a brother?" Harry was surprised, he'd never heard of Draco having a brother before.
"A half brother," Draco explained. "He's older; my father isn't actually his father. My mother had him before they got married but kept it secret. My father adopted him."
That doesn't sound like something Lucius would do, Harry thought. Adopt someone else's kid? And I thought he was always grooming Draco to be a good little Death Eater. I guess not.
"When I was little, I used to idolize my father," Draco said sheepishly. "Then I saw he couldn't care less about me, and I saw what kind of man he really was."
Oh… Harry was comprehending now. Draco is so different this life because he hasn't been under the influence of his father, he was left to develop into his own person. I wonder what changed that drew Lucius away? Maybe this brother died last time. Though I still think it's out of character for Lucius to care more about someone he adopted than his own son, since he cares so much about blood lineage.
At last they pulled up to Hogwarts. The five fifth-years excited the train, heading toward the carriages that would bring them to the school. A hand fell to Harry's shoulder as he was mid-step, and Harry stopped to see who it was. "Wait," he called to the others, who turned around.
Cedric Diggory smiled at Harry, removing his hand from Harry's shoulder. "Harry, would you mind staying behind and letting your friends go on? Ride the last carriage with me."
Harry looked to the others and shrugged.
"See ya Harry," Tracy said as they walked on.
"I didn't know Harry knew Cedric Diggory," he heard Ron say.
I don't, Harry thought, looking to Cedric curiously. Not personally, anyway. Cedric stood, watching the carriages with a smile as they rode off. He had been last years Tri-Wizard Tournament Champion. Without the interference of Voldemort Harry had never been entered to the Goblet of Fire, nor had the final challenge been tampered with. Harry had been happy to watch, safe on the sidelines with his friends. Now in his seventh year Cedric had been pushed to celebrity, and there was no doubt that he deserved it. Harry was usually just happy to see him alive. The death of Cedric Diggory was something that had weighed on him strongly, and feeling it lift was a relief.
Harry could still see the thestrials pulling the carriages; he'd seen the woodcutter's family die, after all. Harry frowned at the memory.
The carriages were pulling away until there was only one left, waiting for them, empty. I wonder what he wants to talk to me about?
Cedric was looking out to the lake, and Harry followed his gaze. The boats with the first years had moved away from the shore. A silhouette of a person stood on the shore with their back to Cedric and Harry, waving to the boats. Finally the person turned around and headed back in their direction, and Harry saw it was a young woman. She was a couple years older than Harry, and unlike Cedric wasn't wearing robes. Harry tried to place her face, wondering which house she was in.
She smiled as she walked up to them. She had long, slightly wavy brown hair and light eyes. She looked at Harry, almost bashfully, tilting her head. Harry was struck by something in her eyes, something that seemed much older than her years.
Cedric took her hand. "How did it go?" he asked. "She helps with the first year muggle-borns," he added to Harry.
"Smoothly," she replied, standing right next to him. They were clearly a couple.
"Let's go then," Cedric decided, guiding them toward to last carriage. They climbed in and settled, the two of them across from Harry.
"So…" Harry said, confused, waiting for some kind of explanation. The young woman was leaning forward slightly, looking at him very closely. He realized she was looking at his scar, and he shifted restlessly with irritation. Did Cedric have me come back here with him just so his curious girlfriend could ogle at the famous 'Boy-Who-Lived'? That really doesn't sound like something Cedric would do, but here we are.
The young woman reached to her neckline and tugged at a chain she wore there, pulling it out from under her shirt. It was a locket, and she gripped it firmly, looking down at it. "This was my mothers," she told Harry.
Harry didn't know how to reply, still perplexed.
"My name is Amanda Lisle," she introduced herself, reaching out to shake his hand.
"Harry Potter," Harry did the same, taking her hand.
"So I see," she said.
"Amanda isn't in the history books," Cedric Diggory told Harry. "They thought she should be left in peace."
"I was only three and a half when my parents were killed by Voldemort," Amanda continued. "But I remember it well."
Harry was again, taken aback. "I'm sorry for your loss," was all he could think to say.
She nodded. "I've wanted to meet you for a long time," she said. "But never really had the chance."
So have a lot of people, Harry thought.
"I've wanted to thank you." She said and clasped his hands. "When Voldemort entered my house, my mother hid me under the bed, and I saw how you tried to help them, even though you were so little. And thank you for bringing it all to an end."
Harry looked at her blankly, slowly understanding. He could remember her watching him with wide eyes in the woodcutter's cottage. Her hair had been curlier then.
That's right, Harry realized. The parents and boys were killed, I was too horrified by their deaths to think straight and remember there had been a little girl. I've always tried to avoid remembering them how they were, it just made me too sad and guilty. But she lived!
Amanda suddenly hugged Harry, and Harry hugged back. "I'm glad to see you're well," he said honestly. "After all these years, here you are. A survivor."
She leaned back next to Cedric. "It's been a hard thing to live with," she admitted. "But I always hold them in memory."
"They were good people," Harry said. "They took me in when they didn't even know who I was."
"They were," Amanda agreed.
Anyone who's been subscribed to be for a while has probably noticed that I will go through a phase of frantic activity and post a couple chapters, then disappear for a couple months if not a year, before coming back. These phases of activity usually occur during a winter or summer break when I have plenty of time on my hands, to really get engaged in my stories. Then I don't have time anymore, usually resulting in me losing interest because I'm not longer immersed in my writing. I had a couple weeks there with plenty of time, I didn't have anything to do at my job and my boyfriend was working all day. Now however, City College is starting, I'm a full time student and I have two jobs (though they are erratic and sometimes don't need me… I'm a teacher's aide at KidzArt, teaching art to kids, and I just started a second job, working at concerts in my town. I just worked at the sold out Stevie Wonder concert (over 4000 people attended), as event staff, and Velvet Revolver, Alice in Chains, and Modest Mouse are coming up. Fun!
Anyway, my point is, expect me to be unreliable. I HOPE that I don't lose sight of my stories and still keep working on them when I do have time. One thing I want to mention is: every single time I have returned, it was because I was still receiving reviews every week, and the enthusiasm I was getting in my reviews would catch me and make me want to write more and share more with everyone. So keep them coming, this won't be the last you'll hear of Jezaray.
About this chapter: I realize that it's actually two and a half years later, since it's the beginning of fifth year, but that didn't sound as good as a chapter title. Also I originally miscalculated Trucido's age, he would have been 24 last chapter and 26 now, but I like him 24 so I left it. It's a short chapter because it's a transition. Next, we will see what the Shadows of Hogwarts are up to.