Author's Notes: Thank you to my Betas Katie and Marley, this chapter is dedicated to Katie because she is just so awesome and has helped me through this, and I will always love out little slash discussions. To you, babe! And thank you to all my wonderful reviewers for all the wonderful comments. They make me grin. *Grins.*
Warnings: past-Harry Sirius, Harry/Draco, Harry/MOC, Pansy/female!Blaise, Seamus/Justin, Harry/Hermione/Ron implied, Terry/Ginny, Moon/Nott implied, (eventual) Harry/Justin, OotP spoilers, fantasy, action, adventure, cross-generation, underage sex, violence, language, romance, angst
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Lyrics and quotes belong to their respective owners. Lyrics within are by Enigma.
A Few Things:
ONE: Sign up to get the chapters sent to you: dented-sky.notifylist.com/paperflowers.html
TWO: Check my LJ for cookies, rants, references and early chapters: livejournal.com/~dentedsky
THREE: Please please please review...? *Puppy dog eyes.*: dented_sky @ hotmail.com
Part 1 - Blood Magic
Chapter Six – The Amber Pendant
In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
- Imaginary (Evanescence)
He was a soldier of course, in a war he couldn’t win
But without him I’m lost, so I stood by his side and went down with him
He would always tell me, “I know you’re afraid but you can’t leave me now
“Lean on my shoulder, soon it’ll be over
“I’m trying to build our future; I’m doing this for us
“You’re the only one I love; the only one I trust”
- The Only One I Trust (City High)
I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
And when my life is over remember when we were together
Because we’re alone
- Song for You (City High)
Across from Harry was the fierce structure of Blaise Zabini, wearing her uniform of high legwarmers, shorts, thick gloves, and a tight purple lycra turtleneck under her corset.
She threw her silver chains at him, and he sliced them away with his sword, letting the clean cut of metal on metal clink loudly through the room. She swiped again at his head, and with the other hand threw a blast of Gravity Element, which threw him off his feet in a wave of black magic.
He grunted and got straight up, only to realize too late that she had thrown both her chains at him. He crossed his arms in the sign of an X, the physical shield he knew to protect his chest, and the chains circled around and gripped, hard.
He gasped, and Zabini let out a bark of laughter. With her grip on the other end of the chains, she pulled a little, making the wound chains tighten painfully. Harry exhaled, but kept a good grip on the hilt of his sword.
“C’mon, Potter!” Zabini crowed. “You can do better than that!” She pulled again, and the chains dug in further. With his armour on, his skin was not broken, but the crushing of his flesh and the grinding of his bones was enough for his concentration to filter into drips and drabbles through the pain.
She pulled again, and Harry groaned. “Think!” she demanded. “Which Elements can you work, and which would be best for this situation?”
It had been a couple of weeks since Harry’s first training in the Elemental Arts, and he was also much finer with the sword and self defence. Now he got private tuition from different Pegasus Lair residents, filling his days with hard and expansive workouts.
Harry narrowed his eyes and focused his pain into magical energy. He silently asked the Earth for a piece of storm, and brought the outside Element into himself. The crackling energy filled him up in sharp sparks like metal nails falling into a glass, and then he pushed it through his arms and hands.
The Lightning, blue and silver, sizzled from his skin and struck the chains, then travelled along them fast like an electrical transmission. It hit Zabini hard, she cried out, loosening the chains around Harry’s arms. He shook them off, then ran at her with his sword raised.
“Stop!” Luna shouted from the side. He did as he was told, and he let her come up to him and take his armoured gauntlets off. Zabini and Harry watched as Luna put her hands on his reddened skin. A soft green glow escaped from under her palms and the redness and pain receded.
Zabini nodded to Harry, smirking. “She’s a specialist in the Heal Element. Destined to be a Healer, innit.”
“I choose my own destiny,” Luna said softly.
“Are you a specialist in anything?” Harry asked Zabini.
She rolled her eyes. “Yah, Gravity, innit? Nobody has it better than me.”
He turned to her and faced her properly, curious. “How can I find out which Element I’d be good at?”
“Practice, mate, practice. Although…” She brought a finger to her lips and tapped them thoughtfully, cocking her dark head to the side. “I’d say you were a Death specialist, with those eyes the colour they are.”
“I think so too,” Luna put in. “But don’t look so scared, Harry, you probably could have more than one specialized Element up your sleave.”
“I am a Water specialist too,” Luna told him, though she was not boasting, just stating a fact.
Zabini, not to be outdone, squinted in concentration, much like Tonks would when changing. Then she jumped up into the air, and stayed there, floating.
“See? Gravity Element.”
Harry stepped back. “Okay,” he said, “one more spar.” He raised his sword.
In the underground Gryffindor dormitories, Hermione was holding a mirror with one hand, and putting make-up on with the other. Harry lay on her bed and watched.
“Do you want some, Harry?” she asked after a moment of wrestling with the eyeliner pencil.
Harry shook his head, smiling.
She looked at him. “Could be fun.”
He shook his head again, and looked over to the other side of the room, where many people were gathering around Seamus’s bed.
“Come ye, come ye,” he joked, “come ye and see thy magic change even the most frumpy into something worth a snog.” Seamus stepped back and brandished his wand, then pointed it to the clothes lying on his bed. “Substeren!” The clothes wiggled and shimmered, and changed into something else. There were gasps from the others and someone clapped.
Then he waved his wand and they flew over to Harry. “No more baggy clothes, my friend! Time for something appealing for once!”
Harry picked them up and looked at them. They were just jeans and a red shirt, and he hoped they were harmless.
A little while later, he and his friends gathered around the door to the party room. There was, as usual, a great scramble to the chocolate and beer.
“Jeeeeezus, Mary and Joseph,” exclaimed Seamus, “I sure did a good job on you!”
The jeans and shirt Harry was forced to wear were tight, and Harry would not stop blushing at Seamus’s constant leering. Ron elbowed Seamus away.
“Wow,” breathed Parvati, “Hermione’s wearing make-up!”
“She is?” Ron exclaimed, looking over at Harry to peer into her face. “Ohhh, so she is.”
“Glad you noticed, Ron.” Hermione was good at sarcasm when it came to Ron Weasley.
They got their drugs and entered the dark room eventually, but not before Harry saw Malfoy get a good view of that night’s attire.
Ron slung his arm around Harry’s shoulders and Harry had an arm around Hermione’s waist. All three were on a high, enjoying the loud pumping of music through the room like blood through their veins, and the flickering of light once again gave the feel of strobe lights in a Muggle club. They hung around with many different groups, laughing and dancing.
It was about an hour later when things took a turn. Parkinson and Zabini had gotten hold of the stage in the middle of the room once again, and were enjoying themselves immensely, when they suddenly both froze up, twin looks of horror hitting their faces like snow thrown at ice.
Harry saw Moon and Nott leave, followed by a few more Sytherins, until all the Dragon League was gone, and everyone else in a mild panic.
Not once since Harry had been at Pegasus Lair did Voldemort call his followers until after midnight, and he had the feeling that something was different this time; something was definitely wrong.
He ran after them.
They had gathered outside on the oval, talking quietly amongst themselves. He felt the chill of the night air against the bare parts of his body, and only then, as he stood staring at the cluster of Slytherins, did he notice that others had followed him.
Ron grabbed his arm. “What’s going on?”
Harry shook it off. “Something’s not right this time; I can feel it.”
“Something wicked this way comes.” Hermione muttered the old song. All three tensed up.
Harry took a deep breath and walked over to the group. They quietened when they saw him, and made room for him as he walked straight up to Malfoy.
Malfoy, predictably, was smoking. “What’s going to happen?” Harry demanded.
Something flickered in Malfoy’s cold eyes. “Nothing,” he said softly. “Just the usual routine. And I ask you now,” Malfoy added as he looked at Harry meaningfully, “to stay well away.”
Malfoy took a drag from his cigarette and Harry grabbed his arm. “I know something’s up, you have to tell me, or I’ll follow you.”
Malfoy looked surprised.
Harry nodded. “I’ll follow you, I will.”
The other lifted his hand and grazed Harry’s cheek with cold fingers. “You can’t.” There it was: a small, sad smile on Malfoy’s lips.
He looked up to his fellow Death Eaters and they all Apparated, the sound of their combined spell echoing across the field. Little did Harry flinch from it, as he was suddenly very cold and very unaware of anything else other than growing fear for Malfoy.
It was then that nearly everyone had wandered outside, relishing the fresh air. There were about twenty metres away from Harry, and he was staring at the spot where Malfoy had just stood a moment ago.
Something was ticking in his mind, a mixture of thought and feeling he had felt once before. He knew he should be wiser this time, knowing that the last time Sirius had… left. His mind was getting the familiar cloudiness of emotion and misjudgement, so he blinked several times, took a deep breath, and pushed it all down to the pit of his stomach.
Then he looked over his shoulder. None looking, so he strode, fast, across the field.
Until he got to the rusted shed, sure that no one had notice him leave.
He opened the door and stood, looking in. Two thestrals were resting. He hoped they were ready for flight, as he could not Apparate because he had no idea where Malfoy had gone. If the thestrals were good at finding locations, surely they could find a person.
One squeeze to the earring on his lobe transformed him into a warrior. The sword was strapped to his back and he unsheathed it, then placed the blade on his left palm. He clenched his jaw as the blade sliced through, drawing a line of blood. As he sheathed his sword with his right hand he made a fist with his left to squeeze more blood out, then he went in and gently patted the first thestral to wake it up.
“Here,” he whispered, offering his bloodied palm for the tired thestral to lick. “I need a favour. Can you please take me to Draco Malfoy?”
The winged horse licked all the blood away and sniffed for more. Harry walked out and it followed, stamping its feet noisily.
“I know what you’re planning to do.”
Harry spun around and faced Luna. She was smiling, her eyes bright, hair falling over her shoulders, and she was already in her uniform. He took another deep breath.
“Going to try and stop me, are you?”
“Only if you don’t let me come with you.” She blinked and walked lightly inside the shed to summon the other thestral.
He walked to the doorway and leaned against the metal frame. “Do you know what’s going on? With the Dragon League, that is.”
“I heard them talking about sacrifices to ensure alliances with different Sectors,” she told him as she walked out with the second thestral.
Harry frowned. “Sector?” He had heard Malfoy mention it a couple of weeks ago.
“Oh dear, you don’t know,” she murmured as she patted the scaly creature. She turned her head to face him side-on, her eyes peeking from under her lashes. “Sectors are just sections of the magical world. They hover away from non-magical creature’s eyes, including Muggles, of course. Not always run under wizarding law.”
He tried to process this, but it was almost too big to comprehend.
“Where else did you think magical creatures lived? Surely not forests cultivated by Muggles, though some werewolf covens have been known to like Muggle areas.”
“We’re wasting time,” Harry said, and he hoisted himself up on the thestral’s back, slid down to hug its neck. Luna got on hers and secured her position. “To Draco Malfoy,” Harry commanded, and the muscles in its back moved, its legs crouched, and in one swift movement it bolted through the air and into the night.
There was the loud, hissing rush of air pass his ears as he sped through the dark. Luna caught up to fly beside him; her light hair flying behind her like the frothy waves on the ocean, and her eyes shining in manic glee. Every second the wings beat with a whoop, up and down, and over the lands they went, the earth below looking as small as if the trees and hills were merely children’s toys.
They passed through an unidentified barrier. It was magic, Harry knew, but he did not understand why he had felt the rush of passing from one side to the other, like walking through a thin screen of water. All he knew was that the other side was darker and the air thicker, even though they were flying high. In the distance stood a large stone castle fort; foreboding and standing in shadow. Closer inspection showed Harry it was crumbling in places, some of the roof missing and plant life growing up the walls and over.
Harry signalled to Luna, and they ordered their thestrals to land near the bottom of the hill. They got off, stretched, and stared up the grassy hill to Voldemort’s castle.
Luna turned and smiled vacantly at Harry. “Scared?”
Harry took a deep breath. “It’s what we’ve been preparing for.”
“Oh absolutely,” she said happily.
The grass was long and reached to their knees. Crickets chirped in the distance as they made their slow walk up the hill.
They started to climb the solid wall as soon as they arrived. They had scanned the immediate walls to see if there were any holes, and had decided a view from above was probably their best bet. Then they had charmed themselves to feel lighter than they were, for a quick and painless ascend.
At the top Harry’s latest suspicion was confirmed: most of the roof had gone; either caved in (stone blocks could be seen scattered on the floor below), or possibly weathered away and into the surrounding area. They were on the top of the wall of one of the highest rooms. To the left was another room that appeared, from where Harry crouched, to be mostly caved in. Across was another room they could not see into from where they stood, but there was a large hole in the wall, and he could hear someone talking.
Harry knew that voice. That horrible male’s voice, whose tenor was quite high and his Ss drawn out in long hisses.
Harry concentrated on blocking his mind. The mental wall went up instantly, and he thanked himself for practicing so hard in the last few weeks.
Their cloaks, Harry’s robe and Luna’s blue skirt flapped behind them in the wind. He signalled for her to keep quiet, to stay low, and follow him to the right. They stood, but kept their knees bent and heads low as they moved across the narrow path to the right, then up to the edge of the next room. The walls stretched down below them, and beside them was some of the wooden construction of the roof which had not yet departed. It provided a good cover for them, if they stayed low in the corner, amongst the shadows.
And they stared.
It was the circle of Death Eaters Harry noticed first, much like the congregation he had witnessed in the graveyard in his fourth year, but so, so much wider and full of people. The black robes, their hoods and the white masks hid the worshippers’ identities. Around them on the ground and floating in the air were red candles, shining yellow light, brightening up the tomblike room. There was something different about them - no longer the scattered group that wandered into the grave yard a little over a year ago, but an organized assemblage of high class warriors.
The circle only broke once, near the far side of the room; the gap parallel to the hole in the wall on the other side. Lord Voldemort walked through a doorway, and passed through the gap in the circle. The corners of the room were dark and anonymous. Silence lapsed in deafening waves.
For what felt like his first time, Harry felt true fear.
He had felt fear before; when faced with Voldemort in his first year, down below the castle, for example. But that fear came from lack of control over the situation…
Tom Riddle had kept his snakelike red eyes, but that was the only think that had not changed. Every part of him had grown: his eyes were larger and focused, his nose small and straight, his lips full and curved into a confidant smile. His skin was no longer scaly, but a smooth, dark brown, and he had grown his hair, black and flowing over his shoulders.
The fear Harry felt by the sight of Voldemort was born from intimidation.
He truly looked magnificent in all his evil glory. He walked into the room and an invisible power brought all attention on him and nowhere else. His followers stood sharp and silent like statues, and Voldemort glided around the space, looking at each one, passionate eyes taking in every detail.
The silence was broken by a sound from above. It was the woopwoopwoop of large wings beating against the air.
Voldemort finally stood still and looked up into the sky, his expression calm, his voluptuous black and green robes billowing around him in the breeze. The Death Eaters made no move, and neither did Harry.
The noise hit a climax and then stopped abruptly as two white beings landed and stood in the only space in the circle. They were tall, and their wings were broad, but Harry could not help feeling that they were rather dull looking for flying beings; their hair was silver and their wings grey, and their faces wore vacant, bored expressions.
The Dark Lord spread his arms and smiled in greeting, though his smile was a humourless twist of the lips, portraying power and control. He walked forward, and bowed his head, just a little. The two winged beings bowed in reply.
“Dark Lord,” began the male of the two winged beings, “we are here to negotiate an alliance. Remember this: your last attempt was nay plausible.” The man, draped in white, had a non-committed tone to his voice, as if he were speaking offhand. “Our kind seldom associates with wizards. Filled with the slaughter of your kind, our history tells us. We see no reason to be here, but alas, no princess finds our door. We need that one favour.”
Voldemort kept his malicious smile as his lips formed around one word. “Artemis.”
Immediately one Death Eater came forward from the circle and bowed down in front of their leader. Harry saw long dainty pale hands emerge from beneath the sleeves to lift up the hem of Voldemort’s robes to kiss. “Master,” she said.
“Stand and present yourself, my dear.”
As Artemis took her mask off and slipped down the hood of her robe, Harry risked whispering very quietly in Luna’s ear. “What are they?”
“Harpies,” Luna whispered back.
“They don’t look like harpies.” Harpies appeared as half-women, half-bird creatures, which screeched and were considered very bad tempered. These creatures, however, had smooth skin and were mild mannered.
“Royal harpies. High-ranking harpies.”
Artemis walked slowly towards the pair, her long silver hair flowing down her back. As she stood in front of them, Harry realized she really was one of their breed. The female harpy lifted up her hands steadily and ran them over the girl; head, face and shoulders. “A half Royal?” the she-harpy inquired of Voldemort.
“Her pure-blood mother was raped by a Royal during one of your mating seasons.”
“Cor!” exclaimed the male Royal harpy. “Such a beautiful rarity. Perfect for our needs.”
“For our son, almost perfect,” murmured the she-harpy. “To have a witch in the family. New horizons, my friend.” She tilted Artemis’s chin up with a finger. “Wings, she has not.”
“Removed when she was a child,” Voldemort explained. “They can, of course, be grown back.”
“They will have to,” said the King Harpy. “Only then can she marry our son.”
The Queen looked at her new princess. “Painful, it will be.”
“Any pain for my Master,” Artemis replied.
It was then, during the strange conversation, that Luna suddenly grabbed Harry’s arm and squeezed. He looked over her head, and sucked in a panicked breath.
Hovering nearby, in the air, was a low-ranking harpy, whose large amber eyes were staring right at them. It tilted its head and scrutinised Harry unabashedly.
The Queen below them gave a loud, piercing screech, and the harpy turned from them and flew to her Queen. Another flew from the opposite side and landed also, so they flanked their royalty like guards.
The Queen suddenly grabbed Artemis roughly and held the girl in her arms. Something had changed in the air; the power play between Voldemort and the Queen had shifted. Voldemort’s expression was hard while the harpies’ faces were constantly blank. “Our spies, I hope you don’t mind,” said the Queen. “Wizards, we cannot trust. But the girl, we will take.”
Voldemort took a step. “Then the alliance is met?”
“No,” said the Queen. “Marry, the Halfling must. If she is in our family, then she will secure the alliance. We shall leave now.”
“NO!” someone suddenly exclaimed from the circle. One of the figures stumbled out and continued, “Don’t go! Don’t leave, not yet!”
All eyes were on Theodore Nott as he took off his mask and hood. Voldemort was furious.
“How dare you step out of line!”
But Nott only ignored him, to the delight of the Queen, no doubt, and passed him to get to Artemis. He grabbed her hands - her arms still gripped by the Queen’s long hands - and begged her not to go.
“Ted,” said Moon serenely, “it is my duty.”
“No,” Nott moaned, his face hidden by his hair. He planted rapid little kisses all over her face.
“I thought your followers were loyal,” murmured the Queen.
“This is one of our newer recruits,” Voldemort muttered through gritted teeth. “He tends to get passionate at the worst of times.”
Nott tried to pry the Queen’s arms away. As soon as his fingers were laid on her skin, she snarled, her serene face completely transformed to something hideous in one quick second. In response the harpy next to her shot out an ugly, feathered arm and shoved Nott away. “Touch the Queen, you may not,” the harpy hissed in her deep, grating voice.
The Death Eaters were becoming restless; there was a shuffling and rustling of robes between them. Another come forward to the centre of the circle and took off their mask and hood. Harry’s heart skipped a beat when he saw that it was Draco Malfoy, standing up straight and tall and defiant.
He put his arms on Nott’s trembling shouldersHT
, and whispered something in his ear.
Malfoy suddenly bowed. “I apologize, Master, for Nott’s terrible behaviour.”
Voldemort’s red angry eyes turned on him. “Did I permit you to speak? Did I tell you to leave the circle?”
Malfoy got up again and turned away, his hands finding Nott’s shoulders once more.
The Queen had regained her composure, and was staring and the two boys in front of her. “They defy you, Dark Lord. If you only knew who they really are… our prophets talk about them often. The Ice Dragon and the One-Eyed Eagle.” She looked up at Voldemort. “Best you not lose them, friend, power they have much of.”
“How I deal with my followers is my concern and mine alone,” Voldemort sneered.
“This meeting is over,” the King announced. “The princess will ensure our alliance, if that is her wish.”
The Queen gave Moon over to one of her servants, who gripped her tight. Nott watched her with one sad, unblinking eye.
“Don’t go,” Nott tried one last time.
The five figures shot into the air, Moon in the arms of one of the harpies. Nott stared up at them as they started to drift away, and then broke away from Malfoy, ran fast through the room and broke through the circle of Death Eaters. His eyes were following the harpies as they flew into the night.
It was only a second later when Malfoy had started off at a run of his own, following Nott through the room and into the next one. Harry turn and lean over the other side of the wall a bit to see them. Malfoy had caught up with Nott, and they were arguing in whispers.
In the previous room, Voldemort demanded for Bellatrix to come forward. She bowed in front of him, mumbling and cooing. “Find them,” he ordered. “But do not kill them. Punish them for their unforgivable defiance, however you wish.”
Bellatrix Lestrange was still in the white plain mask, but somehow Harry knew she was very happy. She stood again and walked slowly towards the hole in the wall where Nott and Malfoy had previously gone through.
Harry suddenly felt a pang of terror. He and Luna exchanged glances. In the next room, Nott had pushed Malfoy away, and apparated.
Bellatrix was coming through, and Malfoy was an open target. He seemed to be standing still, thinking. Bellatrix came into the room, took off her mask and they stared at each other.
Harry whispered urgently in Luna’s ear. “Can you manipulate the Gravity or Wind Elements?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe…”
“Good enough. Take me down, behind her, then get me to Malfoy and bring us back up again, to the top of the wall on the other side.”
Luna blinked. Harry took that as an affirmative.
She raised her hands. Harry withdrew his sword and jumped.
He felt himself fall just before the magic took him. Several things happened in the short amount of time it took for Harry to swing through the air in the wide arc: he took his sword to Bellatrix’s back and sliced the blade through her shoulder. Next, as Bellatrix screeched and fell, he sheathed his sword and crashed into Malfoy, grabbing him and pulling him up with him as they ascended into the air.
Either Harry had miscalculated or Luna was not as good at the Elements as Harry thought she was. They never made it to the top of the next wall. Instead, they crashed right into it, and the unstable stone bricks crumbled as they impacted.
Between the rooms there was a hollow space, which they had not counted on. It was like a tunnel, only vertical, and had acted as the fort’s heating system back when it was in use. In every middle room on every floor was a fire place, and each fire was connected to the one on each floor by way of the long chimney Harry and Malfoy had just crashed into.
They never made it to the next room.
Instead they fell down the chimney, and kept falling, their arms and fear wrapped around each other. Air whooshed past them as the plummeted down the centre of the fort, their robes and cloaks whipping around them.
Malfoy whipped out his wand and cast a spell. Their final landing on ash covered ground was dulled, though only mildly. The impact was still hard.
Before Harry could take a breath, however, a stone brick fell after him and hit him hard on the head.
He grunted. The first thing he registered was not pain, but the fact that there were stars in the way and he could not see.
He felt his body go through some kind of shock, and adrenalin pumped through his blood. He ignored the fact that he was stumbling because he had forgotten the use of his legs, and his hands were groping madly at his head and he wondered why.
He fell, again, but was caught by someone, who immediately was dragging him away, further into the darkness. It was loud where he was; a kind of low, beating sound, like the sound rocks made when piled on top of each other.
It was then, and only then, he started to feel the pain.
He closed his eyes and tried to push it away.
“Ow,” he said finally, when there was stillness. He was sitting up, his head against something warm and breathing.
Harry reflected that it had been another mission gone wrong, and they always did. He had tried to save Sirius, and it had not worked. And now Sirius was gone, and for all he knew, saving Malfoy had just had the same effect.
Harry could see nothing and hear nothing. It was a possibility they could both be dead.
Everyone he loved died, and it was all his fault.
Harry felt something tickle his cheek, and then he realized he was crying. And if he was crying, he was not dead, was he?
“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered, “I’m sorry I killed you.”
“I’m not dead,” said a soft, deep voice just near his ear.
Harry opened his eyes. It was pitch black except for one glowing star, just to his right, like a soul hovering in the endless stream of the afterlife.
“You should know, Potter,” the voice continued, “that Slytherins don’t die so easily.”
“I want to die,” Harry moaned, closing his eyes. “Then I’ll be with Sirius again.”
At this the voice said nothing. Harry’s head hurt, a lot, and he moaned again.
“I almost killed you,” said Harry, and realized he was talking to Malfoy, and if he was talking to Malfoy, that mean that Malfoy was alive.
Harry opened his eyes again and stared at the light. Eventually things went into focus; the darkness had walls and the light was being produced by a wand stuck in the dirt beside him.
He shifted and had a better look. He was sitting between Malfoy’s legs, and Malfoy was sitting against the wall of the dry tunnel. Turning his head a bit Harry got a glimpse of Malfoy’s pale neck and jaw.
Harry leaned forward and away from him. They both stood up, before Harry swooned a bit and Malfoy had to steady him.
Hands on Harry’s shoulders, Malfoy said, “I’m not your godfather, Potter.”
Harry finally looked up into Malfoy’s grey eyes. Harry opened his mouth to say something.
It was a while before he said groggily, “Where are we?”
Malfoy exhaled loudly. He pushed Harry gently away before reaching down and pulling his wand out the dirt. “We appear to be underground, somewhere. The way we came in is completely closed off.” He gave a Harry a glare.
Harry ignored him, still swaying on the spot. One side of the tunnel was indeed caved in; loose stones piled to completely block the way. In the other direction, the tunnel lead into thick blackness.
Malfoy’s silver hair glowed in the dim light. “There’s only one way to go.”
“Hang on,” Harry muttered. He groped the straps on his left arm with his right hand, and located the galleon pocketed there. “Should I call for back-up?”
Malfoy screwed up his face in disgust, which Harry knew to mean he was confused.
“I have a way to silently send orders to Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry explained.
The Slytherin pursed his lips and inclined his head. “Have a closer look at the walls first.”
Harry pulled out his wand and cast lumos. He held it up and inspected one side of the tunnel. Against the light, Harry saw that the walls were just made of compacted mud and dirt, and that, in the light, the dirt seemed to sparkle green. When he fingered the wall, bits crumbled away.
“It looks like…” Harry murmured, “…floo powder.”
“Exactly,” Malfoy said triumphantly, tossing hair out his eyes. “We’re in the Floo Network. Abandoned, probably, but still functional, I think.”
With the Proteanis transmute spell, Harry changed the seventh number on the coin to two, which told the others that he had just completed a mission and he was safe. He could order a rescue if he wanted, but he suspected he was still under the fort and therefore, still in Death Eater territory. If there was a chance they could escape on their own, he would rather not jeopardize anyone else’s safety. He hoped Luna was okay, and was smart enough to apparate before the enemy found her.
“Alright,” said Harry to Malfoy, “let’s go home.”
“There’s a problem,” he drawled. “Pegasus Lair isn’t connected to the Floo Network.”
Harry’s heart sank. “Where can we go, then?”
The other boy put his hands in the pockets of his robe. “Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and their adjoining streets are gone. Blown up.”
There was silence before Harry murmured the name they knew would be the only safe place left. “Hogwarts.”
Malfoy’s grim expression mirrored his own.
The Slytherin squatted and drew a small circle in the dirt with his wand. Then he cast incendio and the circle burst into flames. The tunnel was lit up, its walls sparkling green, dazzling them.
Harry grabbed a handful of dirt and threw it into the fire. They looked at each other nervously yet resolutely, before grabbing each other again and stepping in, shouting at the same time: “Hogwarts!”
Hogwarts was Harry’s home. It stood strong and magically on its lonely hill, surrounded by lake and fields, and enhanced by its great forest. He would not call it homely, and not necessarily safe either, but it was the only place he truly loved.
Pressed against Malfoy, he was spun through the floo. The flashing lights of many different fireplaces whipped past his eyes before he closed them and buried his face in Malfoy’s shoulder.
It was, Harry realized, the first time he was reluctant to go the Scotland school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He had betrayed Dumbledore and had scared many others by leaving the Dursleys’ house and running away. Now he would have to face the teachers, and no doubt get punished for his actions.
He and Malfoy fell in a heap on the floor of Dumbledore’s office. They hastily stood up, dusting themselves off and straightening their robes. Across the room, all Hogwarts’s teachers were standing or sitting, drinking tea and staring right at them.
Harry swallowed and adjusted his glasses.
There were additional people: Charlie, Lupin and Tonks, who were looking at Harry with a mix of sadness and concern. The only person missing was Snape.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and stood up. “We’re very glad to see you safe, Harry.”
Next to Harry, Malfoy snorted. “Bet you wish I wasn’t here. Isn’t that right?”
“It would help ye if yer weren’ wearin’ Death Eater’s clothes, Malfoy,” said Hagrid in his large booming voice. He was up the back, his head almost touching the ceiling.
“You knew we were coming,” said Harry quietly.
“Firenze predicted it, yes,” answered Dumbledore gravely. There was a barely discernible “hurrumph” from Trelawney.
McGonagall put her cup of tea down on Dumbledore’s desk and stood up. Malfoy crossed his arm defensively and Harry felt numb, his body limp. They both moved closer together. It’s us against everyone. This is our war, and no one else’s.
“I think you should start explaining, both of you,” said Professor McGonagall. Harry looked up and into her eyes, then moved his gaze over everyone else individually.
Harry took a deep breath and began. “We weren’t kidnapped. We faked the whole thing. Dumbledore’s Army and the Dragon League took hold of - “
“Dragon League?” McGonagall prompted, her face sharp and severe.
“Yes,” said Malfoy proudly. “A little army of my own.”
The door opened then and Snape strolled in, though his arrival did nothing to alleviate the tension in the room. He took in Harry, before his black eyes fixed on Malfoy. “So you arrived safely then, Mister Malfoy, after being foolishly thrown down a hole and crushed by an outsized quantity of falling rock?”
Of course, Harry realized, if Snape was still working as a double agent for Dumbledore, he had been there at the Death Eater meeting. He had also let Moon leave with the harpies. Harry narrowed his eyes at his Potions teacher, and felt a surge of hatred for him, if it were possible to hate Snape more than he already did.
“Severus,” Dumbledore greeted. “Mister Potter and Mister Malfoy were just about to explain everything.” Then Dumbledore gave Harry an encouraging look, and that was when Harry realized he hated him too.
But Harry opened his mouth and spoke dispassionately. It gave him some satisfaction, however, to speak about something so grand and special that a whole roomful of great, older wizards and witches knew nothing about. He told his audience about Pegasus Lair, about how Ron, Hermione and Malfoy had come to get him, about how they practiced every offensive and defensive spell they could find. Malfoy told them some things too, about the raids on the destroyed towns, how they had perfected the Blood Charm in the beginning to protect everyone on the compound.
Neither of them talked about the particularly Dark magic they had practiced and perfected, and the fact that they could all apparate, as it was illegal. But they did tell them about how they had kidnapped blood relatives to keep in the core of Pegasus Lair.
At this McGonagall demanded they take their blood so they could enter the sanctuary. Dumbledore said that only Malfoy’s blood was to be taken, in which Malfoy responded that it was revolting and unfair.
Near the end there was the predictable commotion and discussion between the adults, and random questions thrown Harry’s way, which Harry answered in monosyllables.
He was just so tired.
And his head was pounding with the beat of a drumming pain.
Eventually all the adults left except for Dumbledore and Lupin. Malfoy sat in a now vacant seat and sucked in his cut fingers. Harry stared at nothing and refused to look at anyone.
He knew the Professors and Aurors would make it to Pegasus Lair and find his friends there. He knew they would walk through the corridors and find the remnants of battle in every classroom. He knew they would go down the west wing and find the relatives, including Dudley and the little girl Malfoy had kept there. He knew they would find their potions, their notes, and their letters. Then they would go into the hall and see all the mats on the ground, and the mural up the back, with everyone’s names, animals and handprints there. There was also the portkey that led to the place where letters were received. Harry hoped they found the dormitory, and brought back his things.
Malfoy was next to leave the office. Harry went after him and saw him change into his Dragon League uniform with the press of his earring as he walked away and around a corner. Harry stopped in the corridor, and looked out a large window at the deserted school grounds. He pressed his face to the cold glass and stood there for some time.
It was not over yet, he knew.
It is just the beginning.
Lupin came out the office stood next to Harry. He put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, a gesture that was not comforting at all. With his other hand, Lupin put something cold and hard in Harry’s own. Harry lifted his arm and spread his fingers. Lying on his palm was a thick gold chain, and attached to it was a gold crescent pendant - the moon. Melded on the inside of the crescent was an orange orb that Harry knew as an amber jewel. He stared at it.
“We’re alone,” Lupin said finally in his deep rich baritone. “We can look after each other.”
Harry disagreed. And besides, Lupin had had a part of Sirius Harry could never touch and that made Harry spiteful.
He turned to his old professor and looked at him with cold eyes. Lupin looked away and at Harry’s throat instead, his other hand came up to smooth down Harry’s shoulder and across his shoulder blades.
If it had been any time before Pegasus Lair, Harry would have welcomed Lupin into himself gladly.
But times were different and what Lupin had said was a lie.
Harry turned away and out Lupin’s arms. He had his army, he even had Malfoy, and that was all he needed.
Walking away, he said one last thing to the man he could have loved but had chosen not to.
“No, Remus, I am not alone.”
End of Part I
Return to Archive | next | previous