Remus Lupin had faced many trials over the years. Trial number one: growing up in a school of magic while hiding the fact that he was a werewolf. And to make matters worse, he graduated at the top of his class, only to be spurned away from employment at every turn. Losing all of his schoolmates through the first war, their deaths scarring him one by one as they fell in battle, yet he alone survived. He was once a brave, proud man. Over the years he was chipped away piece by piece, broken into fragments of his former self. It all began when a man he considered one of his best friends betrayed James and Lily; which led to the false imprisonment of one of the most gifted wizards he had ever known, Sirius Black.
He disassociated himself from Sirius, turning his back on the one man he should have believed until the last breath, abandoning his only friend as they banished him to Azkaban.
For these sins, he should have been punished many times over.
But at this moment, when the world around him was seemingly falling apart, he felt true happiness for maybe the first time in his life.
“Here is your son, Mr. Lupin,” said Healer Francine. A newborn was held in her arms, wrapped snugly in soft blankets. “A beautiful baby boy, congratulations!”
Remus could not describe this feeling, this sort of tranquil peace and utter contentment as he held his son in his arms. His fiance was looking up tiredly at them, a serene smile on her damp face. Remus looked lovingly at his family, feeling the weight of nearly three decades of pain slowly ease of his shoulders. He looked deeply into Nymphadora's eyes, his eyes watering as he finally realized what had happened.
He was a father. The woman at his side loved him. They were to be married as soon as possible. He had a son. His life finally had purpose.
“Thank you, Nymphadora,” he bent low and kissed her. “You have made me a very, very, happy man.”
“Apollo has your eyes, Remus,” she said softly, her energy spent after eight hours of labour. “Look at him- he has your eyes...and my nose...” she said affectionately. “Thats our son !” she said contentedly, her hand coming up to tenderly touch her baby's forehead.
“Yes, he is ...”
Remus studied his son's sleeping face. He knew he will be well protected. Being named as a child's Godfather was a powerful binding contract in the magical world. Sirius broke out of Azkaban- an impossible feat- to help Harry when he discovered that Peter was still alive.
Harry Potter was destined since birth to save the wizarding world- a magi of unprecedented ability. Apollo would have a strong Godfather to watch over him. Remus smiled, cuddling his tiny son in his arms.
He had faith in Granger, always did, and always will.
Destination, Determination, Deliberation...
Hermione Granger put one foot in front of the other as she tread down the lonely road, still caught in a daze. She was crying so hard, she couldn't concentrate enough to apparate, but she knew she had to warn them. She had to warn everybody. Even if she couldn't use her magic, she'd walk; she couldn't stop -the closer she got to Hogwarts, the better. School was already out for nearly a month, she set it in her mind that the N.E.W.T. Exams was nowhere nearly as important as this. Presently, she no longer was a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A crippling emptiness echoed inside her. Hermione finally came to terms with what had happened at the lodge, and the fact that the responsibility placed on her shoulders was too heavy for her to bear alone.
Destination, Determination, Deliberation...
She had failed them. Failed Dumbledore, failed the Order, and most importantly, failed Harry. He had came to her, begging her to help him, and she had promised she would. Her final exam was to ensure that the prophecy did not come to pass; that the heralded emergence of Dark Sons of Magic would be avoided, that her first love would return to her. She wanted him back: the Harry that was her best friend, from the first year boy who would avoid the books to play quidditch; the same boy that protected them through the years; the same boy who would eventually become a hero who would always find a way, no matter how difficult the task seemed. One who fought for justice, and would do anything for those that he loved.
All in all, a true Gryffindor.
That was all gone now. She couldn't even sense his presence that morning. He was standing right in front of her, but he was a completely different person, he possessed an arrogant stance while a heavy, ominous magical aura lingered around him. It was his face, it was the same voice, but it everything was so different. It was unnerving, that sense of being in a secluded room with someone she knew intimately, yet was a total stranger to her.
Destination, Determination, Deliberation...
Running that morning over and over in her head, Hermione desperately searched for something that would give her inspiration, anything that could help them now. He said someone took his memories from him. For now, that was her only clue to find out what his intentions were. St. Mungo's was the only place where the culprit could have gotten to him, the short period of time before Ron and she picked him up. She'd inform the the Order as soon as she could calm herself down enough to appar-
A truck horn blared at her, knocking her out of her thoughts like a sledgehammer. Hermione froze stock still as the headlights of a semi bore down at her with frightening speed. Snapping back to reality she realized that she had wandered in the middle of the deserted road. Putting up her hands in panic, her magic jumped into overdrive and inches before certain death, there was a sudden crack and she had disappeared.
Marcus Schweinstieger was at his desk, drinking his mandatory cup of coffee as he settled in for the long haul. Being the administrative assistant on the main floor of the Ministry of Magic was a time consuming position, a job description that needed someone present from seven in the morning until ten in the evening. With the severe lack of hands on board since the the Battle for Durmstrang a little over a month ago, Ministry personnel and Aurors alike had to occasionally take the double shift. He didn't mind, the extra money would come in handy if he wanted to start his own little business, as was his and his girlfriend's original plan. The quicker he paid off his schooling loan, the better for him, and the better for Amanda. Maybe just a year more, and then he'll have enough saved up....
Just then a single coin popped out of nowhere, falling with a sharp cling in the main hall of the ministry of magic. Curious, Marcus sat up a bit straighter, his brow furrowing in concern. As he got his feet under him to investigate, there was the feeling of air being dramatically sucked in, then expanding in a bubble of low pressure as seven figures port keyed into existence. However, only two were standing. Without hesitation, one of the visitors lunged for the front desk, and grabbed hold of the horn shaped crystal that sat innocently in the corner.
“Hey! You're not allowed to use that!” Marcus interjected, caught off guard. “That's only for emergencies...”
Marcus broke off as he realized that five of the other six were dead, an expression of blank horror stricken on their faces. The other mysterious wizard was on all fours, apparently trembling or crying, he didn't know which. Lewis Zabini rapped the horn with his wand and it began to pulse red. The hallways throughout the ministry of magic came alive with a rising wail of a siren, the light from the candles now strobing orange and scarlet as the Red Alert was triggered.
“ALL PERSONELL-” Zabini said, his voice heavy. “SECURITY ALERT CLASS ONE, ALL HANDS ARE TO TAKE ARMS AND REPORT TO THE MINISTER. I REPEAT, SECURITY ALERT CLASS ONE! ALL HANDS ARE TO TAKE ARMS AND REPORT TO THE MINISTER! WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!”
Marcus paled, his eyes widening as he saw the fear in the other man's eyes. What in the world was going on?
“Schweinstieger, we've got to hurry. I want Ulysses and his Beastmasters to get the trolls, get the Skrewts, get anything they can that could fight. Get them to secure this building's perimeter - forget the muggles, we've got bigger problems to worry about. Get the M.A.R.S guys to take them away-” he pointed to the five corpses he and his mate 'ported back to the HQ- “ And alert the remainder of my squadron that we've got trouble. A lot of trouble.” He looked solemnly at his fallen comrades. “Tell them..tell them..tell them that our mission failed, and our team was nearly wiped out. And be sure to inform the minister, that he is coming .”
“Who? Who is coming?”
“Just tell her what I said, soldier,” Zabini said tiredly.
“What? No! Tell me!” Marcus shouted as the sound of numerous forces flooing into the hall by the fives and sixes adding to the building cacophony of rushing footsteps, the wailing siren, and countless voices now barking orders or demanding answers. “What's going on here?”
Zabini simply shook his head in denial. Doing something that Marcus has never seen before, the Unmentionable removed his hat and pulled away the scarf that kept his identity secret. Placing those items of clothing on the front desk, he resolutely burned off the Ministry Badge on the heart of his Unmentionable robes, and then took the boots off his feet.
“I have been given the gift of rebirth. It was obvious that I was sent to die, but the father above has shone his light favourably on me. I have yet much to do, for now I know a man cannot comprehend what it means to truly live until he has stared death in the face. I begged for mercy, Marcus. Literally got on my knees and begged. I have a daughter that I love more than anything else, and I will not throw my life away twice in one day.”
With those words, he placed his muddy standard issue boots on the table. “I quit. Tell the Minister that I am no longer loyal to her, and she should choose carefully which men's lives she so impudently plays with, for this time- she has chosen unwisely.” He nodded, smiling shakily. “The Commander will be here shortly. Have a nice day,” Zabini said in a hollow voice, and simply walked through the congestion of arriving aurors as he made his way to the floo fires.
Stepping into the green flames, he smiled in gratitude. He has been given a second chance to appreciate his family. He would not waste it.
Immediately outside the ministry of magic, an Auror from the Beastmaster division was crouching over a grate on the pavement. He incanted a spell and struck the metal bars with his wand. A low, echoing tone resonated from the grating, giving the impression that a huge chamber laid underneath.
“Gnorkle! Borkle! Zorkle!” Hugh Van Der Shaaf called to his guard trolls. “Come on up! About time Ulysses let you three stretch your legs!”
There was a roaring growl in response. Van Der Shaaf backed away as the two-tonned creatures magically squeezed through a relatively tiny three-foot-wide manhole, traffic swerving madly to avoid them. Van Der Shaaf chuckled, his prize pets finally having the chance to do what they were meant to do.
“Now, orders: Protect Building! Smell enemy! Kill him on sight!”
The two other trolls nodded, both brandishing massive clubs. Their hide was covered with a heavy, coarse bearskin and thick leather straps bound their massive feet.
“Stupid muggles and their pollutants...” Van Der Shaaf cursed, watching the traffic come to a sudden halt, some motorists leaning far out the window as they gaped in awe of the eight foot tall creatures. The three guard trolls stood to their full height, smelling the putrid exhaust coming the crowded street. “We got strict orders,” Van der Shaaf said evilly, feeling that burning sensation on his left forearm.
Ah..the good old days...
“No muggles are to be present in the immediate area. Clear it away boys, we'll just tell 'em it was the intruder,” he snickered, motioning to the busy street. The Trolls roared in glee, and as a unit smashed a foot unto the road, sending a tremendous magical shockwave in all directions. After a rampage that lasted all of thirty seconds, thirteen cars, a bus, and twelve other vehicles were smashed into bloody bits One vehicle managed to avoid the massacre, and was gunning it hard as it sped away from the nightmare scene. Hugh laughed as his pets guffawed at the carnage they created.
“Don't let him get away,” Hugh said, smiling. “~Remember: our little secret~” he added in a sing song voice. One of the trolls picked up the crumpled remains of a Mini, and threw it in a high arc after the speeding pickup. The bloody chassis landed a few metres in front of the escaping vehicle with a tremendous crash. With no time to maneuver, the driver swerved but could not possibly avoid the deadly obstacle. The truck's nose hit the wreck and angled sharply downwards, the tail end thrown into the air, the tray flipping completely over as the vehicle litterally capsized head over heels. With another deafening crash, it toppled, throwing the driver headfirst out the windscreen.
“Excellent..a bit of muggle mashing to start the ball rolling,” Hugh mused, feeling his nerves tingle with anticipation. With avid attention, he watched the upturned pickup seesaw on its cabin as it balanced precariously in the huge crater created by the impact. After a few seconds, a figure suddenly appeared next to the overturned pickup truck. Hugh frowned. London was under a very strict Anti-apparition ward- no wizard he knew of could could simply appear out of thin air....
Who the hell was that?
Richard Narinesingh couldn't feel anything from the neck down. He was happy he couldn't, because he could see his right leg was laying a few feet away. From what he could see of the accident, his wife was dead, no doubts about that. She was buckled in, she could not have escaped the crush. He never buckled in, that's why he was robbed of a quick and painless death. Nevertheless, he was going to join her soon, that he knew. But first, he had to talk to this person who stood above him, blocking out the fading light. He could have sworn he appeared out of thin air, so he knew that he was on his way. Impossible visions were acceptable at times like this, right?
Touching the crucifix pendant on his chain, he smiled up at the shadowy figure.
“Are..you..an angel? Am I already dead?”
“Angel ?” the blindfolded man asked, dropping low on his haunches. He thought for a moment. He didn't know who he was, really. The only thing he knew for certain was that he was the Commander of the Elite Division at the British Ministry of Magic.
Technically, as far as he knew- his whole life was nothing but a title.
“You...don't look..like an angel,” the dying man chuckled pathetically, blood leaking out his nose. “A swordsman -maybe.. an angel... of death? But, ha ha..” he choked, smiling in his final moments. “But...”
“ Go on.”
“I don't know- maybe I am dead already...Tell me this,” he whispered. “Azrael... he has a sword.. a big...big sword..or..so they say...” he stammered, his eyes closing with the adrenaline rushing through his mutilated limbs. “You have a sword..but ..your...eyes..are covered...” he mused with a cough. “His eyes blazed... no.. they shone with righteous fire...” Richard heard a sort of laugh from the stranger, more like a grumble of annoyance, but it definitely had humorous undertones. What in the blazes was so funny?
“You're right- Azrael.. the angel of death did wield a sword.” The stranger braced his elbows on his knees and interlocked his fingers, crouching casually over the dying man as he spoke. “I have the blood of many on my hands, all in the name of justice and the will of a higher power. Wherever I have gone, death is by my side. Your demise will not go unforgotten, Richard...” the stranger said softly, his anger focused on his true target, the nondescript building housing the Ministry of Magic.
“How did you know my name...? It can't be... did God really send you?” Richard said desperately, his hand clutching the folds of the stranger's dark cloak tightly even as he felt his life slipping away.
“You have wit, even up till the end, muggle. I will humor you, my good man, because as far as I know, maybe I am he, because my eyes also burn with a righteous fire...”
The stranger removed his blindfold, surveying Richard with perpetually glowing eyes. Slowly he felt all his suffering easing away, his hopes and dreams dying with his final breath....
“Yes. Go...he is calling you- ”
And with that, Richard Narinesingh saw his life flash before his eyes, and then he was gone.
Back at the Ministry, Sherry Diggory was frantically organizing her forces for this unforeseen attack when a tiny owl came zooming into her office. It dropped a small note, and then it was gone. She opened it quickly, scanning the few words there.
Contact Marcus Schweinstieger on your private line. I have urgent information.
Looking across at Jeremy Kingsley, she frowned. What is he on about? Putting aside doubts, she reached into her cupboard and procured a crystal ball. Waving her wand once above it, it began to grow cloudy and gray, the lobby downstairs coming into view in its depths.
“Marcus, what is it? Who reported this alert?” Diggory demanded. Marcus looked slightly intimidated as the small looking glass showed her angry face.
“Agent Zabini, ma'am,” Marcus said tentatively. “He's-”
“Put him on, immediately ” Diggory said imperiously. “I want to know what happened with-”
“As I was about to say; he has quit, Madame. There were only two survivors from his team, and the other man is now being treated for trauma. I have no information on their mission, or who was the opponent. Why are there dead-”
“Where is he now? What is the current status?” she asked desperately.
“I don't know. All I know he was an Unmentionable, and said he had 'another chance at life'. He also left a message: 'you should choose carefully which men's lives you so impudently play with, for this time- you has chosen unwisely.' Does this make sense to you?” Marcus inquired. At that moment, Sherry Diggory's face changed dramatically, her eyes dilating and her chin dropping a few millimeters. She gave Jeremy Kingsley a terrified look.
“What else did he say?” She asked with a forced calm, her throat noticeably constricting.
“Nothing much really. Oh wait- on the other hand, he did pass on good news- Commander Potter should be back soon-” Marcus added with a more pleasant note. His short-lived smile was quickly replaced by befuddlement as Sherry screamed from the looking glass.
“MASTER...SOMEONE...COMES,” Gnorkle, the smartest of the three trolls said uneasily. “WIZARD...”
“Who? That guy?” Hugh asked flippantly. He dug into his robes, pulling out an omnoculars. He zoomed in as the robed figure got up and proceeded to walk towards him.
“He's pretty far..” Hugh said in self musing. “ Hold on, this guy has his eyes covered....I can barely see his face.” A sudden feeling of uneasiness struck him, making his blood run cold. Frowning, he noticed that from the way he moved, it is apparent that he was not having any trouble navigating the rubble strewn all over the road. Was he really blind? Or was this some sort of ruse?
Better not take any chances.
“Kill him -you three! Don't allow him to come near!” With a roar of glee, the three massive trolls began to pound their way down the street, their clubs held brazenly over their heads.
The stranger paused mid stride, feeling the ground tremble as something came charging down at him. The smell came next, then the faint magic power emanating from the semi-sentient beings. Like specially trained attack dogs, he could feel their anxiousness and thrill for the kill exuding from them. The rumbling pattern of their feet- very fast..no..not that it was fast... more than one..and they weren't small either.
They were big...definitely two...maybe three...
As they drew closer, his other senses attuned to the situation. The stranger sensed out again with magic. There was an acute familiarity with each other- they were a team. Highly resistant to magic. Too large and too stupid for humans, and too small for giants. Not intelligent enough to have morals, neither values. Simply a blood lust, a thirst for violence...very, very dangerous.
Most likely Macedonian Trolls. Quite formidable opponents.
He no longer had any fancy moves.
He no longer had split-second reflexes.
That part of him was now gone, taking his vision along as a penalty.
But all in all, that did not matter.
He was the most gifted magi in the entire Auror fleet. Solidus or no Solidus, he commanded an arsenal of magic that no one has ever come close to achieving, not even Voldemort himself.
And now, with the Sword once again under his command, he would demonstrate to these fools what it meant to wield true power.
The eyes of the Grim itself, and with it -the undeniable right to cast judgment on those who would judge him, those who would sentence him to death without trial.
The stranger stood up, his hand closing on the hilt of the weapon strapped to his back. Immediately he could feel its power grow, its shape and size changing to accommodate his true intention. With a smooth movement, he pulled it out of the sheath. His fingers closed tightly around the leather bound handle as the massive blade began to glow a blinding white.
He drew it back with both hands, the once forbidden incantations left unspoken as he felt magic surge through him.
Protego Maximus, Reducto Exertimus , Protego Exertimus, Reducto Maximus
With a fluid motion he brought the weapon up over his head then swung it downwards as the magic words left his lips:
As the three huge Trolls converged on the intruder, Hugh Van Der Shaaf barely had a chance to blink before that immense flash of light literally ripped him apart.
Oblivious to what was happening right outside in the street, Jeremy Kingsley was trying his best to keep Sherry Diggory calm.
“Don't worry, Madame Minister, we have activated the Impenetrable Ward on the entire building. Nothing, or no one will be able to get in-”
At that moment, the entire western wall of the main hall imploded in a cloud of thick, brown dust, mortar and broken bricks flying in at deadly speed. Most of the aurors screamed and dove to the ground, responding instinctively to the attack. Kingsley barely had time to raise his shield, protecting both himself and the minster from the lethal shrapnel. When the dust had partially settled, he could see the building on the opposite side of the road had suffered a similar fate, it's eastern face completely vaporized into rubble. A huge concave arc had eaten away the road, including the infrastructure underneath the blacktop while the edges of the buildings lining Oxford Street were smoking hotly, glowing red along broken walls and structural beams.
Kingsley new what it was immediately. This was the telltale signature of the destructive arc of the Ultima curse. As if temporarily shocked, the security ward finally kicked in and he could hear the ministry voice announcing calmly through the halls:
Warning Warning. We are under attack. Perimeter breach on the western wing. S class intruder approaching Ministry premises. All personnel, please evacuate in an orderly fashion. Warning Warning. We are under attack. Perimeter brea-
Jeremy bundled up Sherry Diggory and turned to the elevators, hustling her inside. He had to protect her!
-Warning. We are under attack. Perimeter breach on the-
“This way, Madame Minister. Let's get you to safety...” he whispered in a taut voice, literally having to drag her in his arms, she was to scared to move. When the elevator door closed and they were alone, Sherry Diggory slumped against the wall, her eyes low as she contemplated the final few minutes of her life. She knew what was going to happen.
-class intruder approaching Ministry premises. All personnel, please evacuate-
Potter had arrived, and she was about to die, there was no question about that.
But if she were to die, she would go down in for a worthy cause. Taking out the Orb of Obliteration, she drew her wand.
- On Ministry premises. All personnel, please evacuate in an orderly fashion. Warning-
“What are you doing?” Jeremy asked, looking at the cause for this whole disaster with an air of doom.
“He wants this back. But I swore on my family's grave that I would not rest until they were avenged,” she looked into the swirl of memories pensively, knowing that with her last act of defiance, she was damning all of her enemies to suffer as she did.
“Celiuria dese asien Levieum Obliviimar! Celiuria dese asien Neverium Oblivimar asi Resuscitarius! ”
Kingsley's eyes widened as the severity of that curse really settled in. “NO!” Without hesitation, he drew his wand “ Expelliarmus!” The minister was thrown back forcefully into the corner of the elevator, the orb falling out of her hands. Picking it up, he rapped his wand on it, trying to counter the forbidden curse she had put on it. “Have you gone mad?!” he screamed.
“Too late, Jeremy. Too late...once Potter get his hands on that, every time he looks at it, or even thinks about looking at - he will be consumed with the obligation to continue my work. He will rid this world of those Dark wizards, he will not find rest ..” she laughed contentedly- “until every last one of this generation is dead.”
“My god, Sherry- what have you done! This was our bargaining piece! Now you've gone and cursed it?!” Kingsley screamed, looking down at her with utmost disgust. In that fleeting moment, the last two years of his life finally made complete sense. She had planned this from the beginning. All of her attempts to have him under her control, all of the drugs, the Obliviation attempts, all of it was for this.
Absolute control of The Boy Who Lived -the only one capable of stopping Voldemort.
“You would do all this..for Cedric?” Kingsley asked sadly, finally realizing the scope of her grief, and the true state of mind of the Minister of Magic. How could he have been so blind?
“You have to understand, Jeremy, I loved my family more than life itself. Could you believe it when Fudge tried to cover it up, disregarding his life as if it were merely dust he was sweeping under the carpet? I couldn't- how could I ? I swore I would have my revenge, before Amos- before Cedric. I cursed myself with a sacrifice of blood to initiate the spell – a willful offering onto their graves and henceforth fortifying my firm resolve.” She grimaced in pain , then whispered a faint counter-curse. Her left hand slowly withered away, leaving a badly healed stub of her left forearm. Kingsley knew she was determined and a strong woman, but never suspected that she was capable of doing this....
“You really are insane...” Kingsley said in a shaky voice, his eyes narrowing on hers. He grimaced, chastising himself for not seeing it earlier. “You had me, no ..not only me, Potter, Dumbledore...you fooled us all. You did, didn't you?” He questioned accusingly. “The Demonic Rite: The Vow unto to the Dead,” Kingsley took a step back, feeling his pores raise in anxiety. “Dark magic..traits of a tainted soul....”
As soon as he said it out aloud, Jeremy knew he had made a terrible mistake. Suddenly, he saw a vision of dozens of snakes on her head flash before his eyes. Before he could react, it was already too late, he was frozen, rooted to the spot.
The Medusa Curse...
“Sorceress...” he gnashed out between his teeth. Sherry Diggory smiled sweetly.
“No..just a loving mother who would do anything for her son,” she said softly, then pointed her wand.
In all of his years as a Far Seer, the one thing Jeremy Kingsley never would have predicted was being assassinated by the one whom he was sworn to protect.
As the green light ripped his life away, his killer began to cry in sorrowful mirth, her sobs coming hard and fast as a once brave wizard toppled over, murdered by her own hand.
She had risked everything, done the impossible, but ultimately, she knew that this was for the best. Cedric would still be alive today if Barty Crouch Jr was executed after his sentencing, as he should have been, according to the verdict handed down by the Wizengamot. That fool Fudge; no, not only him- the whole Ministry had believed Crouch's pathetic tale of unwillingly being under Voldemort's control. If they weren't so gullible, if they were strong like as she was, if they really had the guts to do it, he would have been dead, and none of this would have ever happened.
Her son would have been Tri-Wizard Champion, and Eternal Glory would be associated with their namesake. She would have had a family to be proud of, a family to love, instead of eternal hatred.
Potter was the one who should have died, but unfortunately, he survived. So be it. That was in the past. Right now, her mission was complete.
One way or another, she had played the cards to bring upon the death of all Dark Wizards, even if it meant that in the end, she must become one herself. Sherry Diggory looked down at the body of one of the Ministry's finest and most loyal Aurors: Jeremy Kingsley. Now she had sealed her own fate. She knew what Potter was here for. Knowing that her chances were slim, she picked up the Orb of Memories and went inside her office. Healing the bruise on her face with a flippant wave of her wand, she prepared herself for her meeting with Mr. Potter. With a sigh of finality, she sat down at her desk, and settled in to wait, her fingers wrapped around her most prized possession.
Downstairs, hundreds of Aurors were at the ready, their wands trained on the now non-existent western wall, waiting for the source of this threat. After nearly a full minute of waiting, a single silhouette began to take shape in the smoky rubble, a hooded figure making his way calmly over the destroyed remains of the street. Almost as if on cue, spells began to rain down on the shadowy figure, numerous bolts of magic searing out of the once hidden Ministry of Magic. After what must have been a volley of a hundred curses, the figure finally toppled over, another cloud of dust rising as the intruder fell in the debris.
“WE GOT HIM!” Joseph Ulfalusi exclaimed, his wand smoking with the amount of curses he managed to release in such a short span of time. With a shout of triumph , the Aurors began to congratulate themselves, those brave enough to advance taking the opportunity to investigate and make sure that he was really dead. With all the commotion focused on the gaping entrance, no one paid any mind when a lone figure emerged from the rear shadows and calmly entered the elevator behind them.
“Good evening, welcome to the ministry of magic. Please state your destination floor,” said the building’s soft female voice, overlapping the repetitive evacuation announcement.
“Minister of Magic's Office.”
“Please state your name and clearance code for direct access.”
“S.T.A.R. Elite Commander, Class 2 clearance. Code 5-5-6-7-9-3.”
“Good Evening, Commander. Access granted.”
The elevator ride was brief, and he calmly walked out the door. With no pre-emptive warning, the ambush was sprung and the stranger had only a hearbeat to react. The first attack came in from the left, while a blinding flash of light sizzled at him from directly in front. Flashing the mantle of the Phoenix, he deflected the Paralysis Curse with ease and ducked as the Killing curse illuminated the empty elevator with a searing blaze.
This felt familiar ...
'...Protego, assimiliar incante reflecto sonorous maximus replicate allevio...'
A shield blocked the Reductor curse that came in next, while the Silencing hex was reflected back unto the caster on his right. There was a sudden warping of reality as an identical image split apart from him and with precise, co-ordinated movements, the two blind swordsmen drew their weapons. A flash of steel - a vertical strike downwards severed the hand from the wrist and with the following horizontal strike, their chests were opened.
Two men died on the spot, clutching their torsos as their lungs collapsed. With a dull thud, both men fell to the ground; not even given the chance to scream. The final member of the ambush froze on the spot.
“...Potter !?” Rebecca Lestrange said hoarsely, her voice not believing it. “What-” she said in confusion, her wand quavering in her hand. “No..”
The duplicate faded away, and the stranger stood alone with the one of the few people he did remember clearly.
“Rebecca, that name means nothing to me anymore,” he said sadly. “It was all so quick, but now it is too late- those two were Sol and Steven, weren't they?”
Rebecca backed away slowly, her whole body quavering in shock. It couldn't be, but it was him...she could feel the magical Life debt that she vowed to him freeze her movements, making her virtually defenseless.
She could not strike down this man!
“It could have been avoided, but they were betrayed by the Minister herself. She has tricked you all, has tried to turn you against me. She knew her time is near, sent nameless faces before- and now you three- to try and stop me. Rebecca, listen to me,” he said slowly. “She wants me dead. I am sure of it.”
“N-no...” Rebecca denied, her eyes widening in shock. Where was this unnatural feeling coming from? Her eyes focused on the massive weapon in his hands, the double edged blade easily four feet in length. Fighting past the fear, Rebecca found her voice. ”I'll stop you!”
No you won't Put down your weapon
The voice rang inside her head so powerfully that she dropped her wand , petrified to the spot.
Follow me You will hear the truth
Rebecca Lestrange numbly followed him through the luxurious sitting room outside the Minister's office, her head dipped meekly in submission. He stood outside the door, his posture rigid with annoyance.
“Sherry? Can you hear me? You made a horrible choice,” he said darkly, his hand testing the handle. It was locked. “Come now, do I really need to destroy this door? After all we've been through, can't we simply sit down and talk like reasonable adults?”
On the other side of the door, Sherry Diggory was crouched low in a corner, her arms wrapped around her knees as she trembled in fear. He wanted to talk? Talk? She highly doubted that. Her teeth rattled as she could see the shadow-play at the base of the door to her office.
He was right outside.
The Chosen one, the 'Hero' who could destroy them all if he wanted to.
And he just told her in a very calm voice that she made a horrible choice.
Her: a Class B magi with only a knack for post-mortem potions and Magical Psychology. Nothing but an Auror dropout who barely scraped through Basic Defense Against the Dark Arts at Lionheart- was going to stop that man with a door magicked with the Imperturable charm?
Who the fuck was she kidding?
Submitting to her fate, she unfolded herself from the floor, and gingerly inched across the room to begin negotiations.
Before she was even ten feet close to the door, an iron grip enclosed around her throat. Pressure began to build up at her temples, air struggling to enter her lungs as she felt her toes leave the floor. Her head began to swim as she was levitated higher and higher, her air passage burning as oxygen was forced out of her lungs. Trying in vain to counter the curse with her wand, she began to cry in trepidation as the door opened easily, allowing the hooded figure to enter inside the office.
“I allowed myself in, if you didn't mind. I grew impatient with this unnecessary stalling,” he said in mock apology. “Tell me what you have done to the record of my memories,” he added politely, the tone deadly serious.
“I..I have it..there..!” she croaked desperately, pointing to the desk she was currently levitating over. Her neck felt as if it were about to snap!
“It's here? Lucky you.” His head angled towards Rebecca.
Bring me the orb in the drawer
Rebecca opened it, and produced a glowing orb full of memories. Harry immediately forgot about the minister, and she fell unceremoniously on the table, bouncing hard on her side and falling to the ground. Reaching for it, he grabbed hold of the object. As soon as he did, he felt a tremendous jolt of pure magic surge through him.
“What is this...?” he screamed, dropping the glowing object unto the plush carpet as his temples began to pound mercilessly. He fell to his knees, holding his head as pain consumed him.
“Thank you..you have completed the spell. My legacy will not die...” Sherry said smugly, trying to catch her breath.
“What''s going on?” Rebecca said, a bystander in the midst of a potentially lethal situation.
“And here I thought, you would go down quietly...” Harry said, his voice trembling in amusement as the Resuscitarius Curse ran through him.. “I underestimated you..Diggory...
“The book you will now seek is in the there...” Sherry said. “It will be you purpose..your sole objective in life. It will be your drug...every time you delve into the past, my will reinforces itself...” Sherry Diggory laughed hoarsely, a triumphant smile on her face. “You will finish what you started, Commander. You will hunt them down! The Azkaban escapees..dark wizards..all of them! I want revenge for my son!”
“Revenge? You will send your own men to die- even... wait!” he mused, his head now being bombarded by the curse trying to influence him to do her bidding. “What is this..?” he stiffened, the most vivid incidents in her recent history running through his mind. He walked over to the cupboard, and waved his hand. The door opened and the body of the Far Seer Jeremy Kingsley fell out. “What do we have here?”
“Jesus Christ!” Rebecca gasped, looking at Jeremy's still-open eyes. Her knees began to tremble, her hands coming up to cover her mouth.
Sol... Warshire...now Kingsley... they're all dead...
“You, managed to kill Jeremy? My my my... been busy tonight, haven't we?” he said in a wry tone. “Even for a novice, stuffing a dead body into a cupboard is definitely a foolish thing to do, Sherry. Your spell casting is potent, I admit that. But sooner or later, I will break this curse you have on me. You cannot control me forever. Unlike the other pieces in your game of chess, I will not bow before you and grovel.”
At this, his voice dipped an octave, an unearthly grumble coming from his mouth.
“I fear no one, not even the devil himself...”
With hand outstretched, he summoned the Tome of Azkaban from the shelf on the opposite side of the office. Taking a feather quill from the very same ink bottle on the minister's desk, he scribbled a single name unto the front page. “But first, I will like to conduct a little experiment to see if what you say is true. ”
Sherry Rosalda Diggory
“Let's now test your Resuscitarius, shall we, madame Minister? Your name has now been joined unto the ranks,” he smiled, closing the Azkaban book with a flourish.
With unnerving patience, he removed his blindfold and picked up the Orb of memories. Staring hard into it, a memory jolted back into his head:
....A hail of letters rained down in the room..he was jumping up ..trying to grab one..someone had sent him his very first post!
As that memory came flooding back into him, a sudden desperation took over and he pounced. So quick was his movements that Rebecca didn't have a chance to blink before he lunged right on top of the minister, impaling her through the chest with the Sword of Gryffindor. Rebecca couldn't believe it. She just couldn't believe it- Harry just murdered the minister of magic right before her eyes!
Sherry Diggory coughed hard with the mortal injury. A chunk of blood flew out of her mouth, finally soiling Harry's robes. As death began to caress his scaly fingers over her heart, Sherry focused on the two glowing eyes hovering over her, his voice going further and further away with each word he spoke.
“Your curse works perfectly,” he said in a defeated tone. “No Dark wizard will rest easy while I live. Now that you have tried my patience over past two years, answer me one question before you die, Minister...”
“Was the price of vengeance worth your life ?” he hissed.
Sherry smiled back, resting her palm affectionately on the blurred image of her son's face as she died. Harry Potter watched her die, his eyes showing no emotion. Rebecca finally found the courage to move. She raced across the room and pushed Harry off her. Even though she knew it was too late, she checked Mrs. Diggory pulse for signs of life, the huge sword buried deep in her chest. With a yell, she grabbed the murder weapon and yanked it back out of her. Harry's eyes widened as she held it in her hands, then unceremoniously threw it away.
What- she could hold the sword? How is that possible?
Rebecca turned around, looking at him as he just sat there, his body still in an unorthodox position from when she pushed him.
“H-how are you doing that?”she said as she walked erratically towards him. “How are you ordering me inside my head?”
“You...you can look into my eyes?” he asked darkly. The curse had no affect on her?
“Harry- what has possessed you? Don't you know that the entire ministry will hunt you down? Hunt the both of us down!? Do you know what you have done? Have you gone mad?!”
Without warning, Harry grabbed the sides of her face, holding her head steady as he gazed into those peculiar eyes of hers.
Nothing. She didn't even blink.
“What are you doing?” she said. “Let me go!”
"Quiet. I am going to tell you something very important. You are the only one exempt from the curse I bear. I think your promise has somehow entwined your life with mine, and your loyalty to me has excluded you from certain death. You should be grateful."
“You're insane!” Rebecca declared, trying to convince herself more than anyone else.
“Insane? I have been cursed with the eyes of the Grim,” he said sadly. “I must wear the blindfold or else...I'll kill everything in my sight. This is what the minister has brought upon me, including taking all the pleasant memories of my life, leaving me in a constant nightmare. As you can see..there is now a catch: for every memory that I want back from the orb- I must slay a dark wizard in return. The Resuscitarius curse: even in death...she still holds reins over me.” He took her hand in his. “Rebecca... are you with me? Do not fear retribution from the ministry. I will protect you.”
Her promise had backfired on her. Even in this radical change of circumstances- the Pledge of Allegiance she promised him ran deep in her blood, reinforced by the previous generations of her ancestors straight down the Lestrange family line.
Like him, she was now cursed into doing another's bidding for the rest of her life.
She nodded, dipping her eyes sadly, her manner resolute even in defeat. He nodded back. That is how it should be.
“I must address the men downstairs.”
“Are you crazy? They'll kill us!”
“They know nothing of what has happened here.”
Rebecca said nothing but followed meekly as he entered the elevator. “What if they suspect you? They know you're the only that can do the Ultima curse!”
The elevator took them to the main lobby, and the doors opened them unto a scene of mass confusion.
“They also know that even with their combined strength, it still won't be enough to stop me. They will hear me speak, whether they want to or not.Sonorous! ”
“TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC !” he shouted, the booming sound catching them unawares. The Aurors faced him, uncertainty mixed with a sense of panic etched on their faces.
“The Minister of Magic has sent ten men to assassinate me, and by doing so, broken the trust between a soldier and his commanding officer. In self defense, I have defeated the would-be killers, and brought justice upon the traitor in our midst. It is my job as the commander of the S.T.A.R. Elite to protect the innocent from those who will harm them.”
“ She has been executed by my hand, with the use of this sword.” There was a sudden uproar and many wizards pointed their wands at him, ready to strike. He brandished the sword, and it began to glow hotly in the fading twilight. “What is done is done. I strongly advise each and every one of you to stand down and do not provoke me further. I have risked life and limb for this Ministry, for all of you - for that woman...and this is how she repays me? With killers? With deception?"
“Many people in the past have doubted my ability to command the best the ministry has to offer. I have shown you proof that my powers are not to be scoffed at. Think about all the years you have trained to sharpen your skills, think of all the hardships you endured to achieve your goals. Before any of you really consider attacking me, contemplate on what I have accomplished during the past two years, and remember that on this day, I had you at my mercy, but I mercifully spared your lives.”
"There will be some of you who will oppose me. Let me forewarn those with such idotic notions. Voldemort himself could not do it, so who are you to interfere?"
"To those who remember me as the man called Harry Potter know what I am capable of - and my efforts has brought us many a victory on the battlefield.”
“That man is no more. The minister has killed him off nearly a month ago. Now, I live for one thing: to bring swift justice to those who would dare attack the innocent, the evildoers with nothing but vindictiveness in their hearts. In this book are the names of the Azkaban detainees, and it will be my job to make sure that all are accounted for, one way or the other.Rodulphus, if you are listening..."
"I will find you."
A few weeks later, the rising sun was peeking over the horizon; it's gentle rays bathing the two people who stood on the crest of the hill. Godric's Hollow was once a place of life, a place of happiness. Now, all that remained, was dilapidated houses and abandoned storefronts, weeds and wild grass taking over everywhere that their roots could take hold.
The Dark Lord Azrael paused, pulling back his hood and removing his blindfold. He stood there silently, overlooking the abandoned town until he zeroed in on the place he was looking for. There were so many unsolved mysteries and lost years tormenting him all at once that to even begin putting a clarity to all of this, he had to start from the beginning. The one tangible memory of his early years was the name of this place, and that this was where his fate was determined. With his eyes focused only on a quaint two story house, he walked down the grassy knoll, the grass he trod underfoot wilting and turning ashy gray in his wake.
“This is where it began, Rebecca. This is where my fate has been decided when I was a child.”
“Yes...where your parents...”
“Were murdered, correct. Why was I chosen? Who exactly were my parents? These nightmares haunt me still. I need to retrace my life, put the memories back in place. My early years....” Lord Azrael said sadly. “I can clearly remember my first duel, I burnt the face off a man with my bare hands. I was eleven. I do not know why we fought, only the fact that I was very young.”
“We will find more answers soon. When will you next revisit the Orb?”
“Not for a while. I must build the self restraint. I have slain three reformed men already, their only sin was that their names were in that book. I must find peace, then I shall be rid of this curse.”
Walking down the dirty and tumbleweed littered street, it came to him that he suited this place. It was only fitting that one who commanded the Grim should walk down the boulevard of a ghost town. Feeling the dusty wind bite at his exposed face, he approached the two story building, looking at through hollow eyes. There was murder here, this was a place of violence. He could feel it whispering to him. The magical aura that surrounded this place spoke volumes- he was in the right place. Here he would find answers.
“What about Rodulphus?” Rebecca asked, holding unto the arm of the robed figure at her side as they entered.
“Yes....very slippery. Ash... Hargreaves..Rodulphus... and now yet another...”
“Draco, I know. He has been experimenting with that tourist island in the Pacific....” Crossing the threshold, he opened the door and they entered the run down house.
“Malfoy has grown strong. His command of the Infernus have proved troublesome, with one summoning...seven thousand dead overnight,” Lord Azrael said softly. "A whole island, vanished from the face of the earth."
“Will you face him?” Rebecca asked. She knew her brother was helping him, she knew Malfoy could not do it by himself. When Harry found Malfoy...he'll find her brother, and he will settle things.
“Yes. But I am not yet ready. I must find a way to regain my sight, and efficiently negate this curse before I face them again. But that is not the only reason I came here for. ”
Lord Azrael turned to his sole companion, the only person on the entire earth who he could cast his eyes on without the fear of death.
“I will continue the cycle. I do not know when the earth would take my flesh once again, but before that time comes, my legacy will flourish, with you as the mother for my child.”
Rebecca didn't know what to say. There was a time when what she wanted more than ever was to be the mother of his children. Now, that fantasy was twisted inside out. She felt a strong attraction to him, but knew that their child would suffer for it.
She wanted him, always did. But like this, it would be cruel to have them raise a son in this time of darkness. Even so, his will was her own, she was forever bound to him by magic. She would willingly bear him a son.
“I am honoured, m'lord.”
Back in London, the Order of the Phoenix had gone into hiding. Many of the members were undercover, desperately trying to locate the names of Azrael's intended victims before it was too late. Finding wizards and witches who admitted that they were once detained in Azkaban were rare, because it was widely known that only those people should fear swift retribution from the Dark Lord. No one was willing to give away that information- especially if it were true, even though the Order would try to protect them. As far as the public knew, the Dark Lord Azrael singlehandedly destroyed Oxford Street, murdered the Minister of Magic as well as the S.T.A.R. Elite, while the entire Auror fleet was congregated a few floors below. And to add insult to injury, it was reported he walked out the front door on his way out. It was rumoured that he was nigh invincible, a literal Angel of Death.
Albus Dumbledore was at Hogwarts, his eyebrows furrowed in thought as he tried to decipher a code found in the ruins of Azkaban. He himself had to penetrate the Dementor's lair, for he knew that the book Potter used was enchanted with an ancient Icelandic curse.
If he could only find who created that book, he could find a way to identify the names, and henceforth try to predict who Potter would strike next. Giving his eyes a break, he closed them briefly as he waited for the knock to come on his door. That boy...he didn't know how to properly control the Ravenclaw magic as yet? He definitely had to work on that or else an enemy would be able to detect him from a mile away.
“Come in, Weasley.”
“Sir,” Ron said respectfully, “I have some disturbing news. Here, she put everything in a letter.”
I can no longer be part of this effort. My life has changed dramatically over the past few months, and I cannot live here anymore. I know what my failure has cost you, cost everyone, and once again, I cannot express my sorrow in not meeting your expectations. By the time you receive this post, I would have already left Britain. To maintain security, I will correspond through Ron if you need any information. Do not contact me directly.
I was not strong enough. I should have stopped him. Once again, i am sorry.
Please do not think I am doing this because I am afraid. As I said before, circumstances have changed. It is no longer my life alone I must consider. I make this decision not for my own protection, but also for my unborn child. He will find us if he knows.
Two months later, the Senior members of the Order of the Phoenix were congregated in a Catholic church. Dumbledore, The Weasleys (excepting Ron and Ginny who were on mission), Maureen Chang, Joseph Ulfalusi, Sean Creevy, the entire staff at Hogwarts, Marcus Schweinstieger and fifteen other members were present to celebrate Remus and Tonks' wedding.
As wedding vows were exchanged and they kissed, a lone person entered the cathredral doors. It was a man of above average height, and around his body was a jacket strapped with a few kilos of explosives.
Dumbledore was the first to recognize this man. Dudley Dursely charged the numerous wizards with a blood splitting scream.
An Eye..for an Eye..
At that moment, Harry Potter woke up from slumber. In a flash, he was gone.
As soon as Dudley came within fifteen feet of the alter, he released the button depressed in his right hand. With a flash of light and flame, Dudley Dursley exploded, destroying the church in the process.
Further down the road, two wizards laughed. Rodulphus Lestrange and Draco Malfoy gave a short, but vibrant round of applause.
"Told you he could do it. Didn't even have to use any magic," Rodulphus teased, nudging his compatriot with his elbow.
"Apparently so. Hmmmm...how come they could not detect him?"
"His mother was an expert at concealment. I'm sure up to this point her magic still lingers over Dursley. That was the reason why we have never found Potter back when he was young, when he was still vulnerable." He looked up to the sky, closing his eyes in his moment of triumph. "Potter..my dear boy..." he mused, pulling his beard.
" 'You will find me' huh? WELL? Here I am!" he shouted towards the sky. "Where are YOU !?"
Lestrange once again began to laugh uncontrollably. Malfoy turned his back on the ramins of the smoldering church. Finally. He has had enough of Dumbledore and his so called 'Order'.
"Cut it out. We're finished here," Malfoy commanded. His companion caught himself after a few moments, and agreed with a smile.
"Yes yes..off to yet another adventure!" and with a crack, both of them disappeared.
When the smoke was clear, one man stood alone, completely covered in ash. Albus Dumbledore had miraculously survived the attack, and he was frantically picking through the rubble for anyone else who had also managed to shield themselves from the blast. With only bloody pieces left behind of the small attendance, Albus Dumbledore felt his heart fall in his stomach. It was the most horrifying thing he had ever seen in his life.
Tears formed as he realized that he was now alone, his dear friends gone in the space of a few seconds. Caught in a daze, his heart tried to deny the information his extensive mind was repeating over and over in his head.
Dead..you could not save them..not one...All of them..gone..where is your wisdom now...Wise fool Dumbledore...
With the weight of this tragedy numbing his rational thought, it took him a few minutes to notice the tattered remains of a cloak of the order of the Phoenix. This clue brought a faint glimmer of hope.
No one present was in full Order uniform today....
There may be a slight chance that all was not lost.
Rebecca Lestrange was downstairs at the former Potter residence when she was brutally attacked by this pounding voice in her head. At first the pain was so severe she thought she was going to pass out. Gathering her senses about her, she dissapparated with a crack.
She reappeared on a grassy knoll overlooking an obliterated church, the smoke and ash still falling thickly. A few metres away, a man was laying quite still, his body twitching in convulsive spasms.
Next to the man, a baby boy was crying loudly.
“HARRY!” She screamed, running towards him. As she looked at his face, she almost fainted. A piece of a Crucifix was lodged into the left side of his face as he quivered restlessly in a state of shock.
“Shhh...lay still..I'll get help,” she said reassuringly, wrining her hands in panic. Who was that child?
“I said...TAKE IT OUT !” he screamed, grabbing her hand in a vice like grip. “Use the Extractor Charm... then..the suture charm... you can do it..”
“I don't know.. if it's in deep..and I remove it badly...you could die..”
“If I pass out, I will die, woman! Take this fucking thing out of my face! NOW!”
Rebecca drew her wand, and did as was told. The moment the bloody piece of metal was extracted, Rebecca's whole universe went dark, and she was transported into a dimension of fire and unending devastation. The next moment, she was back in the real world, Harry desperately grabbing his injured face.
She couldn't believe it- a magical scream. She looked down at her robes..they were singed from the flames alright. That wasn't a hallucination.
“Harry?” she probed warily, half out of fear and the other half in genuine concern. His face was bleeding profusely! He struggled to his feet, holding his mutilated face as blood dripped through his fingers."The Suture charm..I need to close it up!"
“Lucky, lucky..." he laughed, knowing this was probably the closest he has been to dying in maybe two years. "Don't worry about me and pick up the baby. His name is Apollo, Apollo Daniel Lupin." Rebecca looked at the child, her jaw dropping in awe.
"Was that... Nymphadora's wedding that was attacked!?" she said, even though she knew the answer.
"The moment I ported in... I saw them- for a brief moment, Lestrange and Malfoy- but for now, I must rest. Take us home Rebecca. From now on, I will raise this child...”
****To Be Continued...****
Author's Note: The Grim Is Finished. I think the extra time I took to write this one was necessary. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this arc! Once again, I must thank you so much for the support guys, I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, and if it weren't for you, I may not have even finished.
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