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Sword and Shield

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    Percival Graves knew he was, for all intents and purposes, fucked. It had been weeks since Grindelwald had come to taunt him. Or feed him for that matter. Say what you would about the bastard but he took his villianing seriously. Hell, Percival was sure that hideous mustache of his was grown just so he could twirl it. He was also surprisingly conscientious with the whole "keeping his prisoners 'fed' regularly" thing. Of course, those meals were watery gruel and stale bread, but Graves had passed the point of caring after a few weeks. In fact right now, he would actually really like some.

    And that was the whole point, Grindelwald had not shown up for... He didn't know for sure, measuring time was rather meaningless when his life had become an endless cycle of sitting in the dark, broken up by rounds of torture and villainous speeches of wizards finally taking their place yaddah yaddah yaddah, and food being delivered.

    But back to that, Percival knew that he was dying. He couldn't feel his limbs and his mind felt hazier than normal-- or at least, what was normal these days. At this point he held out little hope of anyone finding him. Or even really recognizing that he had been replaced. Pathetic.

    Unexpectedly the door opened, flooding the small cell with light and making Percival cringe back, covering his eyes with his arm. By the time they adjusted the two figures had stepped into the cell, both wearing matching expressions of distain for the filth and smells.

    "Dear me, how do you manage to live in this?" The male said. He had messy black hair and green eyes. "Then again, I suppose you don't; that is after all the reason we are here."

    "You and your gallows humour," the female sighed. She had brilliant red hair and eyes the exact same shade as the male. "And please stop wearing that face; with what we have planned it will make it very uncomfortable for him."

    "But I like this face!" The other whinged. "This face is much better than my Dementor-esque form. Or the one where I look like a gaunt corpse walking around in a suit."

    "I don't care; take it off."

    He pouted before his features shifted to a middle aged man with sandy brown hair swept back from his face and reaching to his shoulders, curling at the ends, in a black turtle neck with a black blazer. "There. You happy now?"

    Graves finally found his voice, even if it was raspy with disuse and broken from far too much screaming. "What are you? What do you want with me?"

    The female tilted her head and hummed, "Now this won't do." And suddenly Graves found himself seated at a table along with the two-- beings. The male waved his hand and the table was filled with food and drink, to which he immediately helped himself to a slice of pizza. A goblet filled itself with water and a plate appeared with easily digestible foods. Graves just eyed it warily. "Percival, honey, we swear that none of this food or drink will be harmful to you."

    Percival was a bit surprised to feel magic wrap around him in response to such an unspecified oath but relaxed slightly just the same. Picking up his fork he asked, "So what do you want with me? It's unlikely that you just stumbled across me and decided to feed me."

    The man paused in the middle of his burger. "You were dying. Not quite dead yet, but certainly in the In Between. As such, you were in my realm and I have full rights to... Well, do whatever the hell I like, really."

    "Your...realm...."

    "We're what you would call gods," the female said. "We manipulate the world around us as we see fit. And sometimes we get bored and mess with things just because; Fate more than the rest of us, but we all have our favorites. Death's for instance, is the one whose form he was wearing earlier. I myself have a chosen few who honor me; one of whose form I am indeed wearing: a woman by the name of Lily Potter. Even with her no-maj upbringing she strove to learn all she could of my gifts, even some that are now deemed illegal. It was this knowledge and my blessing that allowed her to save her son at the cost of her own life."

    "Her son is my favored." Death cut in, picking up a hotdog. "There isn't just one world-- it's a vast multi verse of infinite outcomes: each decision makes a branch and those spawn yet more. And in each of these, my favored has managed to unite my Hallows. Of course, only one of them has all the power of being the Master of Death, it would be a madhouse if there were Masters running all around the multi verse, hopping dimensions and time. I don't even want to think about it. But the rest do carry the title and some of the powers. And each and every one of them willingly accept dying, to accept me."

    "Not a healthy mindset, that one," the female-- Magic-- said, daintily eating a pastry. "Then again, I suppose we can blame his upbringing for that." Death nodded, agreeing while he spooned some curry and rice into his mouth. "That headmaster of his sure didn't help," he said.

    Percival just watched the verbal tennis match with a slightly bemused air. He sat back and folded his hands over his stomach, "Now why do I feel like I'm in a department meeting listening to a presentation for a proposal the presenters think I won't like?"

    Magic's mouth twitched upwards but it was Death how put aside his pie and said bluntly, "We want to de-age you, toss you into the future, and let you flail about, causing untold mayhem and upsetting innumerable plans, while helping my favored and bringing down a Dark Lord."

    Percival choked a little.

   "What Death means to say is we want to de-age you, place you in a point of time where you would be in a position to help teach and protect others, and, yes, help bring down a Dark Lord...and perhaps a Light Lord too...."

    Percival blinked. "And why, pray tell, would I need to be de-aged for that?"

    The two immortals shared a glance. Magic replied, "To fit in of course."

    Percival tilted his head. It's not every day a mortal can make two gods sweat but Percival Graves, even half dead, was rather intimidating. And they knew his responses would only get worse the more their plans for him were revealed. Especially the ones for his interactions with Harry Potter.

    Death put on his Big God pants and said gruffly, "Because we said so." Then promptly cleared his throat as Magic covered her face with a hand and shook her head. "It's better if you are around Harry's age: he'll trust you more and most people won't be as suspicious of you when you pop up from seemingly nowhere. Plus, as despicable as it is, the main fighters of this war are children. Or at least on the Light's side."

    "And either way," Death cut in, "I'm giving you as a gift to my favored. He needs someone that will always be on his side, who will teach him and care for him. You will do perfectly."

    "And if I don't want to go?" Percival raised an eyebrow.

    "We're gods, child." Death suddenly dropped the charade and his eyes glowed with the knowledge of eons, power radiated from him drowning Percival in the smothering sensation.

    Magic's eyes too began to glow. "The Magical World has stagnated. They have lost their way and are losing their connection with me. Already feats of magic that would have been commonplace in your time are near legend. You are needed." Her voice resonated. "Would you give up this second life, this chance to save and change the world, to protect?"

    Percival had already known his answer; it was written into the foundations of his very soul, after all. It was, more than anything, the reason he chose to be an Aurora, that need to protect, to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves. "I will protect."

    All at once the power disappeared letting him draw breath once more.

    "In that case, there's just a few more things to do like heal your body, even if you're going to keep those scars; it wouldn't do for yo to walk around all skeletal. We need you in fighting condition. And then there's this," he reached out and placed his hand over the right side of Percival's neck. He tried to jerk away as an intense burning pain came from where the hand was. It lasted no more than a second, then Death was moving back and Magic conjured a mirror. There, on his neck, was the mark of Gellert Grindelwald.

    "Now, now," Death reprimanded," that is not Grindelwald's mark; it's mine. Or rather, it's the mark of the Deathly Hallows. I told you I was giving you to my favored; this is his mark, as their Master, even if-- strictly speaking-- he hasn't mastered them yet in this universe. Anyway, it will show those who know of such things who you belong to and will be a delightful red herring for a certain meddler. That man needs more to preoccupy his time with instead of pulling strings on my favored." He muttered.

    Magic waved a hand and healed Percival. "In the vein of keeping with Death's distraction, a wand," she handed him a black wand with vine like swirls of silver reaching from grip to tip," elder wood, 11 and 3/4s inches, unyielding, with thestral hair core. Let the man think of that what he will.

    "You'll need to go to Gringott's as soon as you can manage, preferably with Harry, but I doubt you'll be able to for a while yet. You'll be landing in a spot of trouble I'm afraid."

    With that he felt a tug not unlike a portkey and then there was blackness. When he regained his senses he noticed he was in a park, not a very well watered one either. As he watched a group of teenagers, led by a youth with a rather unfortunate resemblance to a beached whale, held down a smaller boy clearly intended to harm him. He was ready to step forwards when another young man called out to them, clearly provoking. Percival's breath caught in his throat. The boy, even though he was physically identical to Death's earlier form, gave off a completely different presence. Even with his ragged clothes hanging off his thin frame, there was a fire in him, one that burned so bright Percival, even all the way across the park as he was, could feel its heat. Those emerald eyes hidden behind spectacles flashed with defiance even as the whale-child bore down on him and the rest of his posse jeered. "Who's Cedric then, your boyfriend?" The flabby one was saying.

    Percival made his way across the park and that's when he noticed the rapidly falling temperature and the darkening sky. He could hear Magic's words echoing in his head, You'all be landing in a bit of trouble I'm afraid.