Yuri-Hime-Chan: Yeah, Jen wasn't exactly as discreet as she could and should have been when she heard the prophecy, but in her defense, destroying all the orbs around her wasn't intentional. Much as happened in Princess chapter 27, her anger just likes to break stuff.
TetrisLame: You were the only one who caught the difference between "Light" and "darkness" in the prophecy. While it can mean Dark philosophy or dark magic, it most refers to Jen's blindness.
Kingdom Hearts KeyBlade: To be honest, I don't have any definite plans for how Dumbledore will die, or even if he will die "on screen" at all. The big thing keeping him safe right now is that Jen didn't pay close attention to the initials under the prophecy orb, nor does she know his full name. If she ever figures that part out… Yeah, it won't be pretty.
I must say, I very much enjoyed reading all the prophecy interpretations you guys left me. Most of you were very close to what I had intended for it to mean, and a few even pointed out valid points that I hadn't considered.
Disclaimer: When Harry turned 17, did he just send the Dursleys off with essentially a friendly "Take care of yourselves!", despite the fact that they had verbally, emotionally, and (arguably) physically abused him for apparently his entire life? If so, I don't own the Harry Potter franchise; it belongs to J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Press, Warner Bros., and whoever else she sold the rights to.
Comforting an Agonized Soul
Jen's connection to the Blacks' London townhouse was, as far as she could determine, unique. The instant she had entered the building for the first time – even before she adopted Bellatrix as her mother, when her closest ties to the family were as Sirius's goddaughter and Dorea Potter née Black's great-granddaughter – the magic saturating the walls had washed over and through her, almost as if Grimmauld Place was welcoming her home. Her sonar had threaded through the wards overhead, expanding to a degree she had never before considered possible. As long as she was within the wardline, she could feel everyone and everything; she knew exactly what was going on in any room of the house without leaving her chair. Total awareness.
So, when an unexpected guest entered via the Floo, she was informed the very instant it happened.
She could not keep the grin off her face as she walked down the stairs from the library to the ground floor. Of the literally hundreds of magical cores she had encountered in her life, she had only found one that leapt and danced as this one did, spinning around like a lovesick maiden swirling her favorite dress about herself to music only she could hear.
She turned the corner into the drawing room and truly looked at Luna Lovegood for the first time.
The younger girl was widely considered at Hogwarts to be exceedingly strange, if not a bit mad. Jen, however, along with the friends she had gathered over the previous year, knew that was not the case. Luna could be absentminded at times, yes, and she was more than a little socially inept, her isolation the result of her 'flights of fancy' pertaining to creatures that no one else could see. A stroke of luck on Jen's part had actually revealed the truth about that the previous September: the Lovegood line was blessed – or possibly cursed – with an incredible empathic sense that bypassed even her unnaturally strong mental shields. Rather than actually feel the emotions of everyone around them, however, the members of that family instead translated what their sixth sense detected into visions of fantastical beasts. Even after an entire year, Jen did not know everything about her friend's talent, but what she did know was that it was the most intriguing familial ability she had ever heard of.
Quietly taking in the dirty blonde hair that fell down past the girl's shoulders and the vibrantly orange and pink sundress for a moment, Jen cleared her throat. "Find something interesting there?"
"Perhaps," came a dreamy voice. Luna reached up to tap one of the portraits on the family tree that she was staring at. "I can't tell if this is a spot on the tapestry or if he just had a giant wart on his nose."
Her head tilted in curiosity of its own accord, and Jen walked up to stand behind her friend. The blonde was pointing to her great-great-great-uncle Arcturus, not to be confused with the wizard of the same name who was Sirius's grandfather. As for the question… "Honestly? I don't really know."
A sigh. "Too bad. Now I want to know. Oh, well." Luna spun around and, compensating for the slight difference in their heights, pushed herself onto the balls of her feet so she could stare at Jen's face. "Your eyes are very pretty."
"Thank you," the darker of the pair replied with a smile while her gaze flicked over her companion. The blonde would never be a classic beauty; her silver eyes were too large for her face, and while she had a delicate little button nose, it was higher compared to her upper lip than was common. Still, her 'witch next door' looks, as Jen had heard their mutual friend Kenneth Towler refer to them, were undeniably cute. "You're not looking too bad, yourself."
Luna blushed at the compliment. Jen stepped away so that they were no longer nearly touching, and yet more hot blood suffused the girl's cheeks. "Jen… What in Merlin's name are you wearing?"
She shrugged nonchalantly. "Just something I had laying around." The sweltering heat wave hitting the country was putting a strain on even the cooling charms and icy dark magic suffusing the house's walls, so rather than subject herself to heatstroke in one of Bellatrix's floor-length dresses, she had conjured up a thin vest and a miniskirt, an outfit similar to what she had worn while working behind the bar at Candyland. After ten months of robes, elaborate gowns, and canvas trousers, her Muggle garb was both odd and comforting at the same time.
Comforting was good. She had not had the best week.
Chuckling at Luna's mild discomfort, she snagged the girl's hand and dragged her to a couch. Jen slid into the seat opposite and carefully curled her legs beneath her; she had gotten out of the habit of wearing knickers when she was eight, and between Voodoo rituals that required at least partial nudity and prostitution that required full nudity, body modesty eventually became something of a foreign concept to her. At this moment, though, she was sure that giving a free show would send Luna into a dead faint from embarrassment. "So, not that I would mind you coming over purely because you wanted to, but you seem to have something you really want to tell me."
"How did you know?"
"Well, for one, you're twitching like you're about to wet yourself."
Luna huffed and crossed her arms. "Now I'm not sure I want to tell you."
"Okay." Leaning back against the arm of the sofa, Jen simply smiled softly and waited. Which of them was less patient?
Today, it was the blonde who broke first. "All right, so you remember how Professor Flitwick was going to come to my house and let me sit the end of year exams for fourth year? Well, he did, and guess what? I passed!"
The Black heiress's face split into a broad grin. "All of them?"
"All of them!" Laughing brightly, Luna leapt into her arms and gave her a hug worthy of a starving python. "All Es except for an A in Herbology and an O in Arithmancy. I'm going to be in your year now!"
"That's great." Faux sorrow tinged her voice as she continued, "Wait, no it's not. I'm the only fifth-year girl in Ravenclaw without a roommate. Now I'll have to share."
"I promise I'll leave you a pathway from your bed to the door, and if you're nice, I might even give you half a shelf in the bookcase. In return, though, can you make sure you keep that creepy knife away from me?" Luna asked in a far more serious tone.
I hadn't thought about that. She only saw my Death Focus once, but her reaction then was rather extreme. Her dagger, made from a human femur that she had cut out of its still-living donor, was saturated in black magic; there was no telling what Luna's familial gift manifested as when looking at it, and Jen was in no hurry to find out. Whatever it was, it had seriously disturbed the empath. "Sure."
The girl frowned before peering closely at her. "Are you okay? I think your Melanchist is larger than it was when we left for the summer."
Her grin petered out at Luna's question. Ever since she had broken into the Department of Mysteries a week previously, the blasted prophecy she had the serious misfortune of being named in had been repeating itself nigh endlessly inside her skull. The more she tried not to think about it, the less she could help herself from doing exactly that. In an effort to disprove to herself the validity of those raspy words once and for all, she had done a little digging into divination and prophecies.
The results had not been comforting.
Many of the materials taught in Divination were debatable, but prophecies were another matter entirely. Like scrying, a discipline she herself had long trained in, the field of prophecy had been researched and studied for years before finally being declared truth. Unfortunately, that meant that the pronouncement she had heard earlier was an actual warning of future events.
Which isn't what I wanted to find out at all. A dreadful chill ran down her spine, and she impulsively pulled Luna closer to her, causing the younger witch to squeak in surprise at the sudden embrace. If prophecies are true, then Potter and I are the only ones who have the ability to keep Voldemort from crowning himself as the first British witch-king since Mordred of Camelot. Because that's exactly what I wanted for my life.
Damn it all, I'm a black witch, not some fairy tale heroine! Saving the world is not in my job description!
Despite the uncomfortable portrait the prophecy painted, Jen had already realized that it answered some questions she had long wondered about. Why an old woman, one who was more than a little callous and stained beyond measure by the murders she had gleefully committed, was the only person to follow the cries of a raped little girl. Why, when she underwent a dangerous ritual to sacrifice her magical core for a connection to the planet, she was the first one in documented history to survive. Why dark magic came so easily to her, requiring only that she imbue a spell with hate and rage to twist it into something far more dangerous than it had been before.
She was the darkness to her half-brother's light, she his foil and he hers. She could not stand in opposition to him if she died early, and it was only through Elsie that she had attained her prophesied 'Power'. An evil grin grew in her mind to a width that would turn the Cheshire Cat green with envy, though she worked hard to keep it off her face where it would certainly scare Luna. She almost hoped he would walk the same route she did; should he ever find a master of his own, she would be fully justified in killing him without a moment's hesitation.
Shaking her head, she decided she had left her friend's question unanswered for long enough. It might not be a bad thing to request some help, either; one of her favorite things about Luna was the unconventional thinking she brought to any situation. "It's just some things that came up recently. I may be being forced down a path I don't want to tread, but I don't know what to do about it."
"Oh, that doesn't sound good." The blonde pulled herself out of Jen's grasp and knelt on the other cushion of the loveseat. "Are we talking about not wanting to follow a rule society says you have to? Is your Head of House telling you to do something for the good of the family even though the burden on you is too heavy?" Luna laughed faintly in an obvious attempt to brighten the mood. "Maybe… I don't know. Are you named in a prophecy or something?"
Her responding laughter rang stilted and false to her ears. "Let's go with the third one, just for convenience's sake."
"Fine, fine. If you don't want to tell me, you can just say so, you know." The younger witch rolled her eyes before nibbling lightly on her bottom lip for a moment. "Besides, true prophecies aren't that hard to deal with."
Her friend nodded. "That's right. My gran on my daddy's side used to have visions sometimes, and she once told me that people get too worked up over them, either trying to avoid them or trying to make them come true. Fate doesn't have expiration dates; it'll happen when it happens. You can't run away from from the future, no, but just because you know doesn't mean you have to run towards it, either. Worry about today today, and tomorrow will work itself out in its own time." Luna smiled serenely. "Who knows? You don't want to do whatever it is now, but if you do nothing more about it than keep an eye on how the situation develops, when it's finally time, you might not even mind it."
I seriously doubt I'll ever want to fight Voldemort head-on, but she has a point. The line about 'if the Dark Lord does not fall at the One's hand' means it's not a guarantee that this One, whichever of us it winds up being, will survive. I know I can't take him on now, but his last war went on for over ten years; who knows what I'll be capable of after that long? Not to mention, if it ever does look like Potter's winning our little 'Contest'… Well, the House of Black has never been accused of playing fair. "Thanks, Luna. Have you ever thought about going into the advising business when you leave Hogwarts?"
"I haven't, but that's not a bad suggestion. That'll be three galleons, please."
Peeking into the library, Dora found her baby cousin right where she expected, laying on her belly on a sofa with a book propped in front of her. She squinted slightly to make out the title embossed on the leather spine. 'Arte of the Succubus, volume 2'? "Are you seriously reading smut in here?"
"Only skimming, really. I'll savor the steamy parts in the privacy of my bedroom later." Jen glanced up from the thick text, purple eyes that the metamorph was sure she would never get used to sparkling with humor. "Unless that was actually a request?"
She shook her head rapidly. "No thanks. I'm not interested in other girls, kids, or relatives, and you're all three."
"Please, you're only seven years older than I am. That's not enough of a difference to justify calling me a kid," the younger witch said with a roll of her eyes.
"You're not of age yet, though," she chirped back. "Besides, everyone knows that it's not the years that matter, it's the experience."
"Experience? You really want to go there, sweetie?"
With a huff, Dora walked over and snatched the porn out of her cousin's hands. "Get your head out of the gutter, kid, before your brain starts to rot. I actually came here to talk to you about something serious."
That caught the girl's attention, and she pushed herself upright. "What is it? Did something come up with your parents?"
"No, nothing like that. It doesn't even have to do with them; it's about you. What's got you moping around lately?"
"Moping? I haven't been moping."
The denial was just a hair too quick, and the currently electric blue–haired woman raised an eyebrow. "Fine, maybe more brooding than moping, I suppose, but either way, something's put you in a mood, and I want to know what it is."
"Dora, I'm a teenaged girl," Jen reminded her unnecessarily. "I think I'm allowed to be overly dramatic or self-absorbed once in a while."
"Except you can't." She grinned when the girl frowned at that pronouncement and twirled her wand next to her leg in a seemingly idle fashion. "Adopted or not, I don't let my little cousins stew in their own angst. You can either tell me now, or I'll make you talk."
"You? Make me? Ha!" The dark-haired youth smirked at her. "Do your—" Whump.
"Worst? If you insist."
Jen blinked several times in surprise and just stared at Dora while her fingers roved deftly over the small, yellow throw pillow the metamorph had conjured and banished in a smooth chain, almost as if she was trying to convince herself that it was real. "Did you just—" Whump.
Dora snorted as the blue pillow joined its fellow in the girl's lap after bouncing off her face again. "I can keep doing this all day, you know. Might as well get whatever it is off your chest."
"So that's how—" Jen's hand shot up and caught the red pillow. "—it's going to be, huh? I'd have thought all of you would have learned from Sirius's mistakes last year." The three tiny cushions rose into the air, duplicates appearing from nothingness. Dora winced as she realized this might not have been the best way to pull the girl out of her slump. "I always get even."
Panicking, the Auror threw herself behind the opposite couch as fifteen pillows flew in her direction. Another conjuration, and she banished her newest projectile in time to see Jen vault over the back of her own sofa. Hiding behind a barrier did not stop more of their current weapon from popping into existence and racing after their target.
She grinned despite herself as she fired a number of bolsters as quickly as she could swish her wand. A pillow fight wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but she couldn't argue with the results.
Unfortunately, Jen's wandless casting was tilting the battlefield further and further to her advantage. Not only could she create multiple pillows in the time it took the older witch to conjure one, Jen also had the pillows on the ground rising into the air only to shoot at her. She simply could not keep up.
Well, who said I had to play by the rules? Materializing one more pillow and duplicating it so there were more than a dozen, she charmed them to levitate and banish themselves at a regular interval. A tap of her wand on the top of her skull soon had the cold and sticky feeling of disillusionment sliding down her back, and after applying a silencing charm to her feet, she crept away from her barricade and toward her foe's.
Just because her klutziness had nearly caused her to fail Stealth and Tracking did not mean she was incapable of sneaking up on a preoccupied teen.
Pillows flew faster and faster at the couch she had left, causing her to sweat slightly. Had she not already moved, she would have been caught in the middle of that. Still, victory was nearly at hand. She peered around the side of Jen's sofa and slowly pointed her wand at the girl. It was at that moment that Jen raised her right hand to shoulder-height and snapped her fingers; Dora yelped as she was grabbed by unseen hands and pulled into the air.
"Oh, now that's not fair."
Jen turned around and smirked as the Auror quickly became visible once more. "Silly Dora. I spent nearly two thirds of my life blind. For the Baron's sake, did you really think you could sneak up on me by simply turning yourself invisible?"
The woman groaned as she realized she had dismissed that possibility. After a month of Jen having her eyes uncovered, she had not considered that the teenager would continue to use whatever trick she had developed to work around her previous disability. Why would she need to when she could now see?
"You really, truly did think that would work, didn't you? Unbelievable." The dark-haired witch shook her head as all the pillows they had fired rose from the floor. "Well, I guess I'll simply have to discipline you for that."
Dora gulped and said in a tremulous voice, "Now, Jen, you know you don't want to do that to your favorite cousin."
To her surprise, Jen nodded at that. "You have a point." Dora's relief was torn away when a wave of the girl's hand had the pillows encased in a pink glow. "I want to do this."
The floating heralds of humiliation flew.
She could barely breathe as the pillows just kept hitting her. They did not have much force behind them, but the laughter caused by the tickling charm on all of them prevented her from catching her breath. The levitation charm failed then, dropping the panting woman into the fluffy mass below her. With a giggle, her tormentor jumped over and flopped down at her side.
"You are an evil, evil witch," Dora forced out between her gasps for air.
"You're just now figuring that out?"
The retort the metamorph shot back at that involved a pine cone, a traumatized squirrel, and truly bizarre forms of self-gratification, but to her disappointment, it did not prompt even a hint of a blush from the teen. Huffing, she let her head fall onto the pillows beneath her. "You going to tell me what's wrong now that I beat you?"
Jen snickered at that, though she finally shrugged her shoulders. "End of last year. Aunt Cissy being kidnapped by her own husband. Sirius having to side with Dumbledore, even after everything he did to hurt our family. A war building on the horizon." She sighed. "You know, just life being crazy."
"Yeah, it sucks."
"Tell me about it." The girl reached over and grasped her hand. "Hey, Dora?"
She shrugged back, her pink spikes changing to ringlets of gold as she relaxed. "No problem. I gave big sister advice to my other cousins when they were younger, so I'm used to being right about stuff like this."
The younger witch propped herself up on one elbow. "Other cousins?"
"Dad's the youngest of three, and much as I love his brother and sister, they breed like puffskeins. I've got to have ten or eleven cousins on that side of the family. I don't see them much, though, on account of him being the only magical one of the bunch. Still not sure how that worked out; usually when one sibling's magic, the others are, too," she commented. "Since we can only reveal the existence of magic to Muggleborns' immediate family, I'd be required to Obliviate them if I lost focus and my hair morphed. Not to mention, I really don't want to have to explain to Scrimgeour why I had to arrest myself."
That got some honest laughter out of the girl.
An idea came to her mind. "You know, I'm scheduled for some time off this weekend, and there's a magical spa in Edinburgh I've wanted to try out that is supposed to give the best massages. How about we make a girls' day of it? Not only would it relax you, we could get you all primped and prettied before you and Sirius head to the Ministry on Monday."
Jen smiled. "Sounds good."
"Whu?" Petunia groaned as she rolled over. "Whazzah?"
Her husband snorted as he forced himself out of the divot in the bed. "Who the hell would be ringing the doorbell at three in the ruddy morning?! Don't they know that people have to work tomorrow?"
A flash of pity for whatever fool was trying to get their attention crossed her mind for just a moment. Vernon was a little ill-tempered if he did not get enough sleep. Of course, anyone who would get decent, hard-working folk up in the wee hours of the morning without a very good reason deserved the tirade he would surely give them. "Just…" She yawned. "Just be careful. Could be some drunk waiting out there."
He grunted in response and pulled a cricket bat out of the closet. It had been decades since he had actually played cricket, ever since he started putting on a little excess weight, but he still kept it for self-defense purposes. She listened closely as he stormed down the stairs, the old steps creaking, grumbling all the way. Finally, he arrived at the front door, and she heard him shout, "What do you—"
Silence. Thud. Silence.
"Vernon?" she called nervously, grabbing her bathrobe from the chair it was laid across to wrap it around her thin nightgown. Scurrying down the hall, she peeked into the stairwell and nearly shrieked when she spotted her husband slumped against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. "Vernon! Are you all right?!"
Her feet had barely hit the ground floor when she felt herself being picked up and yanked towards the kitchen table. Just before she hit it, however, the pull reversed directions and threw her against the wall next to the stairs. She stayed there, somehow unable to fall.
"He's just unconscious; you don't have to worry. Yet." She looked down and to the left to find a black-haired woman squatting and staring into the empty cupboard under the stairs. "Don't know why I thought it'd look the same after all this time. Stupid of me, I suppose."
"Who are you?!"
The intruder snorted and stood, turning to fix her with a dark purple gaze, eyes sparkling with some unknown emotion. Having a better look, Petunia realized now that rather than a grown woman, she was seeing a teenage girl. A hooligan, most likely. Considering how she was being held against the wall, there was no doubt that she was a freak, as well.
The girl grinned creepily. "Ah, do you not remember me? I guess that's understandable. After all, it's been, what? Almost ten years?"
"I don't know who you are, girlie, but we will call the police—"
"Okay, you do that. I'll wait." The freak crossed her arms and stood silently for a few moments. "Oh, that's right. You can't, not while you're stuck there, can you? A pity, but it means no one will interrupt us.
"As for who I am, that's easy. Let's see if this jogs your memory." A snap of the freak's fingers made a bundle of white cloth appear, and it quickly unrolled and wrapped around her head and over her eyes. She affected a quivering pout and a whiny voice. "Please, Aunt Petunia, I'll do better. I promise!"
Recognition and rage flooded the woman. "You!"
"Me." The cloth vanished, and Lily's runt of a daughter bared her teeth in a mockery of a smile. "Good to see you again, Petunia. I was just in the neighborhood, and I thought I'd come by and say hello. Maybe have a bit of fun while I was here."
"You're not welcome here, you freaky brat! Get out of my house!"
"I love how you think you have any kind of power over me. It's really quite amusing." The freak twirled around whimsically. "Something I don't love, however, is how you've decorated the place. Don't you fret your bleached blonde head about it, though." A bright smile lit the girl's face. "I'll make it look real hot before I leave."
"I don't want you to do anything to it!" Petunia panted as she stared into the amused purple orbs looking back at her. "What did you do to your eyes? They're supposed to be green."
The girl snickered. "They were, yes. As for what I did… The short answer is magic." She flinched at that hated word. "Longer answer: eyes that don't work aren't any good to me, so you could say that I just needed to find some… replacements."
'Replacements'? Petunia's face paled as the meaning of the words sunk in. The girl had ripped out somebody's eyes?!
"You probably didn't know this, but most people aren't willing to give up both their eyes to someone else, even a girl who needs them. It's a real dog-eat-dog world. One good thing about that, though, is that in that kind of world, all you have to do to get on top is to be the meanest dog out there. Nothing like being abandoned in the bad side of London to teach you that lesson." Another feral smile. "I should probably be thanking you for that, but first, we're missing one last member of our little reunion."
The freak snapped her fingers again, and four huge nails appeared in midair and shot through Petunia's wrists and ankles into the wall behind her. She screamed at the pain, but after a second, her voice stopped working. She couldn't yell. Couldn't speak. Couldn't call for help.
"That's better. By the Baron, you have a shite voice. I'm surprised you didn't break the glass with that. Be back in a sec." Chuckling darkly, the girl raced up the stairs, and a bang echoed a moment later. There was a high-pitched screech that raised Petunia's hopes, but after a few more seconds of silence, light footsteps came back down. Floating behind the freak was her precious Dudley! He was dressed only in his pants, arms and legs bound by rope and a bright red apple crammed into his mouth. "Finally, the whole 'family' back together again."
Petunia opened and closed her mouth rapidly, tears streaming down her cheeks, and the girl cocked her head before waving a hand at her. "You have something to say?"
"Why are you even here? What do you want from us?!"
"I thought it was fairly obvious," her despicable niece remarked. "For four years, you intentionally and systematically abused me. You treated me like a slave; no, not even that. You treated me like a thing, like I was an object that couldn't hope, couldn't cry, couldn't understand what you were doing." She cackled at that. "Thankfully, I'm not one who likes to owe debts. I prefer to get rid of them as soon as possible, and I owe you quite a massive one."
Petunia gasped, and then she screamed again when the girl reached over and traced a ring around each of her eyes. Sharp pain followed the freak's finger, and when she pulled back, the woman nearly fainted at the circles of flesh laying in her palm.
"Can't have you shutting your eyes; you'd miss out on all the fun." Carelessly dropping her severed eyelids onto the floor, the freak pointed two fingers at her eyes, which swung on their own to stare at the girl's fingertips. "That's better. Let's get started."
"No. No no no no no."
"Now you get it. Payback's a bitch."
Humming softly to herself from a rooftop across the street, Jen watched the Muggles of Privet Drive and the local volunteer fire brigade work desperately to quench the queer blue and white flames that licked hungrily over the whole of Number 4. She wished them luck with that; much like Fiendfyre, her cursed fire was nearly impossible to put out, especially without magic. It was not quite as destructive as its big brother, nor did it form itself into a menagerie of carnivores, but it did obey her unquestioningly, which allowed her to unleash it on her old chamber of horrors without worry that it would spread to the nearby houses.
Not that she would mind all that much if that were to happen; none of the people living here had ever cared that a little girl was obviously being abused, so she had a legitimate bone to pick with them. Unfortunately, allowing a variant of the darkest fire spell in existence to spread unheeded was a good way to get the Aurors involved, and much to her displeasure, Dora was on rotation tonight. She did not need her cousin to notice her fleeing the scene of an arson and triple murder.
Petunia's screams, amplified so the whole neighborhood could hear them, transformed into hacking coughs, and Jen smiled. The bubble-head charm must have failed, allowing the smoke filling the house to pour into the bitch's lungs. After another minute, the coughing stopped, and the black witch loosened her restraints on the cursed fire. With the Dursleys all dead, there was no reason to keep the building standing.
The house collapsed in three seconds, and five more after that, she smothered the flames. All that remained was a crater of scorched earth.
She stood, brushing off the last flakes of blood drying on her forearms. To say that rearranging Dudley's internal organs in alphabetical order had been messy was an incredible understatement. At least forcing Vernon to vomit up his entrails after eating his son's had not required her to get her own hands dirty. Burning Petunia alive was, of course, the cleanest kill of the night, but to really get her point across, she had had to force the horse-faced woman to witness the painful deaths of her husband and son.
Just went to show that it was a bad idea to torture a child who was capable of rewriting the rules of reality on a whim. One never knew when she might come back to get even.
The evidence of the night's adventure gone, Jen sighed contentedly and began to sing.
"Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday, dear Je~en,
Happy birthday… to… me."
A crack rang through the still night air, and a man stepped out of the shadows. Pulling the hood of his cloak up, Voldemort surveyed Godric's Hollow for the first time in thirteen years.
His memory led his feet as he walked a route he had taken numerous times in his mind in the time since he fled Britain following his fall. At the end of his path lay nothing, though he knew there was a quaint little cottage hidden there. On his left sat 15 Lion's Court; on his right, 19. He might not remember the address of his quarry, but it was not hard to figure out.
The Fidelius Charm was an odd spell, seemingly erasing a location from existence unless one was let in on the Secret. Someone could stand outside his own childhood home and, should it be defended thusly, not be able to see or enter it. However, the charm was not perfect; any person who had ever visited the protected place would still remember his times there, just not where it was.
Had Voldemort Flooed or Apparated to the Potters' home in 1981, he would not have been able to return, but he had not. He had walked, and because of that, he could follow his memory until it suddenly jumped from his arrival at this very spot and his actual entry into the house. He knew that the Potters still lived there by dint of them using again the Fidelius in the first place, and just because he could not enter the cottage did not mean they were safe.
He had demonstrated one flaw in the spell last time. Now, he would exploit another.
"Prohibentur apparatum. Prohibentur baiulum. Prohibentur focum. Prohibentur scopam." He smirked as the palings against Apparation, portkeys, Floo travel, and brooms stabilized. Their only way to safety now was Dumbledore's pet, which was more opportunity than he wished to give them, but there was nothing he could do about that. Phoenixes were not hindered by any ward or defensive charm known to wizard-kind; the only way to stay safe from them was for someone to hide somewhere they had never been and establish anti-scrying spells around his property and himself so that their human owners could not locate him that way.
That said, the chances that Dumbledore or his bird were awake at three-thirty in the morning was remote, and even if they were and did get the Potters to safety, he still would have made his message clear: 'You can run, you can hide, but I can and will find you. And when I do, I will kill you.'
Again he raised his wand, his smirk transforming into a vicious smile. "Ignes inferni!" Orange and black flames poured from his wand and morphed into a barrage of snakes, chimeras, and giant wolves that rushed in the direction he pointed, directly between numbers 15 and 19.
He might not be able to see the Potters' cottage, but that did not mean it was no longer there. Fiendfyre did not truly seek out its prey; it merely burned away everything it came in contact with, including locations under the Fidelius. He had tested this very concept earlier in the month, with Alecto Carrow putting a small shack under the charm and verifying its collapse when he was done. Based on the destructive potential of the spell and the likely defenses on the house, he expected his victims had no more than a minute to flee before the dark magic ate its way into their home and consumed them utterly. It would destroy the houses next to theirs, too, but what did the loss of a few Muggles matter?
He turned away to Disapparate, but he looked over his shoulder at the last moment. "Happy birthday, Danny Potter."
I didn't know this before writing the chapter, but the British term 'vest' refers to what in America is a 'tank top' while our 'vest' – more precisely, a sweater vest – is called a 'tank top' across the pond. I'm starting to wonder if this conflicting terminology was deliberate.
After the graveyard scene in Princess of the Blacks, more than a few people asked what Voldemort gained from using Jen's blood in his resurrection ritual. Apparently it was common freaking sense. That's not scary at all…
For anyone who hasn't heard by now, last Friday J.K. revealed that, upon reflection, she thinks pairing Hermione and Ron together was a mistake and that she expects they 'would have needed relationship counseling'. I'm just glad she finally saw the light; after all, it isn't like people on this site have been explaining that exact same thing for the past six years.
Silently Watches out.