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Devil Has Come To Carry Me Home

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.


 

“Oh my Lord, take my soul,

Lay me at the bottom of the river,

Devil has come to carry me home,

Lay me at the bottom,

The bottom of the river.”

- The River

 


 

We’re all familiar with the fanfiction trope of “X event happens to Harry Potter leading him and X amount of other people to end up in another reality”, or something of that sort. As much as I enjoy reading those stories, I think it’s a shame we haven’t seen much of the reverse: X event happens to someone(s) from another reality, and they end up in the Wizarding World. So, here are some one-shots and story prompts based on that premise. Feel free to take these ideas and run with them. Enjoy!

 

 

1) XUR, AGENT OF THE NINE

 

Fic Title: "Ain't Nothing In This World For Free"

 

Accompanying Song: "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage The Elephant

 

Harry paced outside of the Room of Requirement. He thought very hard about exactly what he needed as he did so.

I need a way to fight Voldemort, I need a way to fight Voldemort, I need a way to fight Voldemort.

For this was the night after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. This was the night after Harry learned the prophecy. And most importantly, this was the night after Harry’s godfather had died trying to save him.

Harry was quite sure it would take a while to clean up Dumbledore’s office. He had left quite a mess behind, after all. Did he regret it? Absolutely. But not for the reasons you would think. Harry had made a mistake by letting his anger bleed out in front of the person responsible for most of the crappy life he had led so far. He was supposed to be smarter than that. The Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin for a reason, after all. But now Dumbledore might have finally gotten an inkling of exactly how much Harry hated him, and that just wouldn’t do.

He would have to mitigate the damage by willingly going along back to Privet Drive like a good little soldier. Granted, it was now impossible for him to stay there, under the thumb of Dumbledore, but appearances had to be kept up. Harry had wondered exactly how long it would take Dumbledore and Snape to get rid of Sirius once they realized they couldn’t use him as a control. “Try and convince Harry of this, Sirius, and we will let you talk to Harry more frequently”. Sure. Harry had deliberately avoided conversation with his godfather once he realized how easily manipulable he was. And now, the Chief Warlock, who could have easily gotten Sirius a trial, had disposed of a less-than-useful asset.

Just one more reason to kill the man.

The door to the Room of Requirement shimmered into existence before him. He pushed the door open, and strode in. He was expecting something along the lines of a weapon, or perhaps a forgotten book with information Voldemort had never learned. He knew for a fact he would never be able to take the Dork Lard in a straight up fight, that just wasn’t how he was cut out. Even in the DOM, he had done his best to avoid direct confrontation. But now, war was here. And he needed a very special surprise for a very special someone.

What Harry was not expecting, was a person.

At least, he thought it was a person. A dark cloak hung over the figure’s face, obscuring a good deal of it. And yet, just poking out of the edge, Harry fancied he saw…tentacles? It didn’t matter; if the Room said this…whatever…could help him fight Voldemort, then he would take it.

“Err…. hello?”

The figure turned to face Harry, yellow eyes flashing from underneath the cloak. Harry gulped. Definitely not human then. Still, there was no guarantee he was unfriendly. Harry kept going.

“I’m looking for a way to fight a Dark Lord.”

A raspy voice seemed to drift towards him. “It seems that wherever the Nine send me, there is a Darkness that must be fought. But wherever this is, I am afraid I am unable to tell.”

“Hogwarts. School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

The figure tilted his head. “Witchcraft? Wizardry? These are terms only the Hive use; yet from you I sense not the Deep’s taint. Perhaps you are a Warlock in the manner of Toland, but not as far fallen. Or it may be that you seek a weapon, as the Titan did, to kill those who would use the Light for their own purpose. And yet again, you may follow the philosophy of the Hunter, and seek to balance Light and Dark in your own way.”

Harry blinked.

“Err…no offense, but I understood absolutely none of that.”

The figure jerked in shock. “So…you are truly as young as you look, and have little to no experience with either the forces of Darkness, or of the Light. I see now why you study. And I also see now why Fate and the Nine have led me to you.”

It was Harry’s turn to jump. “Um…yeah, Fate…there’s…listen, basically, there’s a prophecy that says either I kill a Dark Lord, or he kills me.”

“…A prophecy. I have not heard one of those in quite a while. Might I hear it in its entirety?”

Harry hesitated, and then thought ‘screw it’. And told him.

“…Hmm…either must die at the hands of the other…which means…”

“Yeah, yeah, it means one of us is going to kill the other. I told you that.”

“I think not, young Guardian. There is another possible meaning.”

Harry’s stomach clenched. “And that would be?”

“That the line is literal. That it is impossible for you to die, except by the hand of your Dark Lord. The same would of course apply to him as well.”

“So…I’m…immortal?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps it merely means that you are unkillable. Only the Nine would know for sure.”

Harry’s thoughts whirled. If there was a possibility that he couldn’t die, except by the hands of Voldemort, then…

The Dursleys. That was the real reason that despite everything they had done to him, they had never succeeded in killing him. Mother’s love his arse. And who had been the one to arrange both his stay at Privet Drive, as well as all of his confrontations with Voldemort, in the hopes that one would kill the other off? Dumbledore.

“Look, Mister….” He trailed off as he realized he had no idea what the person’s name was.

“I am Xur, Agent of the Nine. And from Them, I bring gifts to aid you in your struggle.”

“Good, then. As far as I know, I’m a wizard, through and through. But what did you mean by those other titles you used? Warlock, Titan, and Hunter?”

“Let us start with the last first. The Hunter is the blade in the shadows, the knife in the dark. They are always the first in, and the last out. They are the first to strike, in exactly the last place the enemy expects. All but invisible to allies and enemies alike, until the time is right.”

“And the others?”

“The Warlock is the scholar. The learner. The one who can conjure the right string of words and numbers to force reality into a new shape, or to tear it into a shrieking hole. They sing of the sun, walk through the Void, and call down the storm. They may be slow to act, but in the end, it is they who will have the last word. As for the Titan…a Titan is a wall. They are the barrier upon which the enemy breaks, the pyre upon which their dead are burned. But they are also the fist, forever moving forward, never breaking stride, steadily taking the fight to wherever they go. And they will never, ever stop.”

Harry swallowed. “Is…is there a way to tell which I am?”

“Of course. The Nine would not send me if I were not prepared to sell to Guardians of all types. We shall try some of my wares, and whichever works the best for you, shall tell you which kind you are.”

“Right. Let’s…let’s do that.”

Slowly, the fig…Xur…drew from somewhere a pair of…were those gauntlets? And was that a beetle on the side?

“Kephri’s Sting. To vanish from sight is a valuable skill to all, for to strike invisibly is the best strike of all. Try them on.”

Harry felt the gauntlets slide up on his arms, desperately trying not to think about what was on them as they did so. Just as they reached his shoulders, he felt something…click?...with his magic. Almost as if he had slotted in something that was just supposed to fit there.

“To use them, you must crouch.”

“Err...what?”

“Crouch. Now.”

Harry did so, and sat on the floor, waiting. He was just about to open his mouth and say that it wasn’t working when he gasped. His body had just disappeared. And even better, there was no tell-tale shimmer as there with Disillusionment.

“Wow. This is almost as good as my Cloak.”

That got Xur’s attention again. “Cloak? You have a cloak that grants invisibility?”

“Yeah, it was my dad’s.”

“Fascinating…wears a cloak, seems to specialize with vanishing…you could very well be a Nightstalker Hunter, young Guardian. But we must make absolutely sure. Stand, and remove please.”

Off came the gauntlets, but not back into Xur’s cloak. They remained on a table that had mysteriously appeared next to thee pair. Thank you Room of Requirement, Harry thought. He was jerked from his reverie as Xur produced another piece of armor.

“The Heart of the Praxic Fire. Made for those who seek to burn all around them, but especially for those who blur the lines between life and death. On with it.”

The chest-plate was a bit on the heavy side, but as it slid on, Harry felt the same click as he had earlier with the gauntlets.

“Now, to test. If you truly are a Warlock, conjuring a ball of flame while wearing this piece shall be no test at all.”

Harry turned to face the wall, and pulled out his wand.

“Incendio!”

FWOOOM!

…The entirety of the wall was ablaze. Harry blinked. His Incendios had certainly never done that before.

“Fascinating…most fascinating…wears robes in the style of a uniform, and has an aptitude with flame…you truly are a remarkable individual, Guardian. I wonder…I have one more item you may wish to try. Set the Heart aside, and we shall make one final test.”

Harry pulled the chest-plate up and over, and then placed it next to the gauntlets. He turned back to see Xur standing there with...what appeared to be leg armor.

“It is not often I outfit a subtle Titan. And yet, your ability with vanishing speaks for itself. Clearly, the Nine knew you would need this particular kind of protection.”

“What are they?”

“They are the Antaeus Wards. The closest, perhaps, my Masters’ hearts.”

Wards, Harry could understand.

“How do they work?”

“Put them on, then slide, and you shall see.”

And Harry did.

“Is…is that…a Protego shield?”

“You have a name for it? Amongst the Titans, it was once known as the Juggernaut. It has been refined into what you hold now.”

Harry stood. “So…which am I? Warlock, Titan, or Hunter?”

“You, Guardian, are something very special indeed. You are capable of being all three if you so wish. There is no denying it. You are capable of balancing not only the Light and the Dark, but the Guardians themselves as well. And so, I can sell all three pieces of armor to you.”

Harry’s spirits dropped at the word ‘sell’. “How…how much for them?”

“For each piece, it is thirteen coins.”

Harry gaped at that. “Thirteen GALLEONS!”

Xur was undisturbed. “I know not what a…Galleon…is.”

“Oh…Sickles, then?”

“Sickles…yes, that sounds appropriate…thirteen sickles for each.”

Harry pulled out the coins and counted them out. He pulled on all three of the items, intending to make his way invisibly back to his dorm room and hide them, when Xur once more spoke.

“There is one more item you may wish to see.”

“And that is?” Harry asked from inside his robes.

“This.”

Harry pulled the Heart down just in time to see a glint of silver and the unmistakable crusting of dried blood in Xur’s hands. He stepped closer for a better look.

It was a Muggle gun. But unlike any Muggle gun he had seen before.

Spikes pointed out from all angles of the barrel, and a knife stuck straight out from the front of the weapon. Harry could clearly see it had been well-used, and not just as a gun.

Cautiously, he reached forward to touch it. “What…what is it?”

“This is the Crimson. It was once known as the Red Death, until a Guardian took it and…improved it.”

Harry was almost afraid to ask. “And what…does it do?”

“It will take from your enemies all that they took from you. Slay them with this weapon, and their life shall be used to heal any injury you may have. In addition, if you manage to land the killing blow to the head, the gun shall reload itself with the act. For ideas make the best ammunition, after all.”

Harry swallowed. “This…weapon…sounds like it was made to fight hordes of enemies. Not Dark Lords. Don’t you have something that can do that instead?”

“That is not my place, not is it yours. To permanently end the Darkness, one must become a more powerful form of said Darkness. And the only way to do that, is to weaken the servants of your Enemy. Only then will you be able to stand on the field victorious, the strongest thing in existence.”

Harry nodded in understanding. Voldemort would never have come back if not for his followers. The same applied to Dumbledore. He would never have gotten as powerful as he had without using at least some of this logic. He would end the Death Eaters first, and Dumbledore’s followers at the same time. Then, he would stand back and watch the two Lords kill each other, only for him to step in at the right time. Just as Dumbledore was probably planning to do to him and Voldemort.

“How much for this one?”

“For a weapon, the price is also thirteen coins.”

Harry dropped the required amount into Xur’s hands.

“Thank you. For giving me a fighting chance.”

“Chance? No, young Guardian. Not a chance. A Destiny. Now go. Bring balance to your world. Give both Life and Death freely. And perhaps we shall meet again at the end.”

Harry would think about both the strange figure and his last words many times in the days to come.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

2) XUR, AGENT OF THE NINE, PART TWO

 

Fic Title: "Ain't Nothing In This World For Free"

 

Accompanying Song: "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage The Elephant

 

Hermione was miserable.

Harry had left her. Had left them. She couldn’t blame him; they had given him every reason to leave. When she said they, she of course meant not just herself and Ron, but every grown-up that had ever interacted with Harry. Sirius had been killed. Murdered. And what had Dumbledore done? Packed him off back to his relatives with absolutely no comfort or therapy.

Hermione had tried, of course, in the brief time they had had riding back on the train. But all she had been able to get out of him was that he was going to fight the Death Eaters, through any means necessary, and that he would mourn Sirius when he was done. An attitude that had frightened Hermione immensely. She had still immediately offered her help, of course. She even went so far as to suggest, after ensuring Ron was asleep, looking in Grimmauld Place for any Dark Curses they might be able to learn in a fight. Harry had merely twisted his lip in a half-smile and said he had already found what he needed to fight. And no amount of further prodding got him to open up further.

It was two weeks later when Dumbledore himself had come bearing the news. Harry had disappeared from his relatives’ house, and not even the Headmaster could find him. Which led Hermione to begin asking herself exactly why the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and Supreme Mugwump of the ICW would be concerned with the Fate of one specific student, no matter if he was the Boy-Who-Lived. After all, Dumbledore hadn’t been in the least concerned before, when Harry was…exactly where Dumbledore had put him.

Hermione had begun to put the pieces together then. Harry had always been under the Headmaster’s thumb, in one way or another. She remembered now how Harry had told her the manner of his introduction to the Weasleys. Really, the woman had been coming to the Platform for how long, and couldn’t remember where it was? That was a load of hippogriff dung. Ron might very well have been meant to meet Harry to give him a good impression of Gryffindor. And hadn’t Harry told her the Hat wanted to put hi in Slytherin? True, that might have been the Headmaster seeking to protect Harry from a House that would despise his Half-blood status, but once again, why should the Headmaster care? It wasn’t like any of the other cases of the sort had ever drawn attention from him; Luna Lovegood, for example.

Once Hermione started, she couldn’t stop. She began to see conspiracy at every turn. Was everything and everyone arranged around Harry in order to keep him under control? The set of traps First Year; Dumbledore deliberately hiring an incompetent DADA teacher Second Year, as well as reinforcement that Slytherin was a truly evil House; the convenience of Sirius’ plight Third Year that Dumbledore had ‘known absolutely nothing about’; and the fact a Death Eater masquerading as one of Dumbledore’s old friends had walked around right under his nose for an entire term. Hermione was hyperventilating by the end of it.

The one thing she couldn’t figure out was: why? Why would Dumbledore go to such lengths to keep Harry on a certain path? Was it the prophecy? Did Dumbledore truly believe something as sketchy as Divination enough to ensure that things happened as foretold, whatever they were? Had Dumbledore told Harry what those things were? Had Harry done a runner and decided to do things his way, and not Dumbledore’s?

Hermione simply hadn’t known for sure. Until two days after Dumbledore’s visit, when she read the Daily Prophet.

“DEATH EATER ATTACK IN ALLEY! RESCUE BY UNKNOWN WIZARD!”

Hermione had entirely forgotten her breakfast by the time she finished the article. There had been seven Death Eaters; one of them Dolohov. They had been going for Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, and had failed miserably. The unknown wizard had been waiting for them. All seven Death Eaters had died, shot through the head with a Muggle gun. Which should have been next to impossible. Protego shields countered Muggle bullets, everyone knew that. The fact that the bullets had somehow disappeared from the bodies only added to the mystery. But it was what had been done to Dolohov on top of the holes in his head that told Hermione all she needed to know.

There had been a thin, red line running all the way up the man’s side. Almost as if burned there by the Darkest of magic. And his had been the only face with an expression of unimaginable pain, instead of surprise.

Harry had been the unknown wizard, of that Hermione was sure. He had used the visions he was obviously still receiving from Voldemort to predict the attack. He had somehow managed to find a way to hide from even the most powerful of wizards, since she knew for a fact Dumbledore had taken his Invisibility Cloak to try and track him, and then given it to her for safe-keeping (she suspected to track her whereabouts should she meet up with Harry). And he had taken his revenge on the people that had hurt his friend.

At least, she hoped she was still his friend.

Once more reports of failed and annihilated Death Eater squads began to pile up, and still no sign of Harry came, she had begun to doubt. She had all but given up once she had boarded the Hogwarts Express for the trip back to school, and Harry had been nowhere to be found. Ron had been with Seamus and Dean, lying up a storm about how Harry was a coward and he had been the one to actually lead the fight at the Ministry.

Hermione had taken violent exception to that.

She was sure it would cost her prefect badge sometime in the future, but it had been worth it. As it was, she was still upset the lout had gotten the position, and not…Harry.

The feast and Sorting weren’t just the same without him. She had been tempted to adopt his favorite attitude and simply begin moping, but that wasn’t who she was. Her friend was out there, somewhere, fighting for all he was worth. Alone. She had to help him. For once, she was glad Ron had been made a Prefect. He was so clueless he would never notice when she split up with him during their rounds. Surprisingly, her badge hadn’t been taken, but only because Professor McGonagall had taken her side. A first, she dryly noted to herself.

Regardless, she now had the perfect excuse to visit the seventh floor whenever she wanted. She had been unable to arrange a trip to Grimmauld Place during the summer, so she had been unable to study anything beyond the spells they had learned in the DA. Which, she would now readily admit, were practically useless against anyone taking the fight seriously. She needed more. She needed the Room of Requirement. And so she went.

I need a way to help Harry, I need a way to help Harry, I need a way to help Harry. The door flickered into being before her. She turned the knob, and in she went.

She blinked. In all her time spent in this Room, she had never seen it take on this appearance. Not had she ever seen the figure that now stood directly in front of her, almost…expectantly.

She pulled her wand out, but kept it pointed at the ground. Best not to provoke the potentially dangerous…thing. It seemed like a person, but the face-tentacles and yellow eyes seemed to suggest otherwise.

And then it spoke.

“So, the Nine have sent me to another such as the One. Like, but not like. Truly Fate is a marvelous thing.”

The One. Hermione in all of her life had only ever known one person worth being called “the One”.

She couldn’t help herself. “Harry? You’ve seen Harry?”

The figure chuckled. “Of course. It was he I was first brought here for, to help fulfill his Destiny. Tell me, oh Guardian, will you let me do the same for you?”

Hermione blinked in confusion. “Fulfill his Fate? What does that mean?”

“He did not tell you? You, his only friend?”

Hermione’s chest tightened. “He…he said that?”

“In not so many words. You were the only one he would speak of, and the only one he ever described with fondness. That is how I recognized you. As to fulfilling his Fate, it is quite simple. There is a prophecy, that states that he and a Dark Lord are doomed to fight to the Final Death. And whichever one survives, shall live forever. That is why he has been avoiding you; he did not wish to burden you with this knowledge.”

Her mind whirled. Harry…immortal? As in…never aging? Never dying? Never…spending his life with her, as she would only admit she wanted in the blackest hours of the night?

“No…no…”

“It is the truth, Guardian.”

“But…why…why would…poor Harry…”

The figure bowed its head, in shame she thought. “He said the same to me about you, on many occasions. More than anything, he wished to have you by his side at the end. But he would not accept help that was given, only paid for. And so, I tell you this now, despite all the times he has warned in his visits to never do so. For if he was willing to pay what he could to assure a Pyrrhic victory, perhaps you will be able to pay enough to make his victory a true one.”

“What…what did he buy?”

The figure sighed. “Many things. Many weapons. Many ideas. All of the ones I had to offer, and more beside. I have lost count of the ammunition I have supplied him with in his many times here. But I think, perhaps, that it shall not be enough. For one man cannot carry power all on his own.”

Hermione thought of Dumbledore. “Yes…yes, you’re right…what…what power can I buy to help him?”

The figure reached into his cloak. “The One has described you enough to me that I was able to pronounce you a Warlock, one unafraid of using both the Sky and the Deep. A balance of the two, as he is the balance of Light and Dark. Together, and with this, I hope the two of you will be able to balance the world.”

Hermione looked down at what the figure now held in his hands. A pair of gauntlets, ridges running up the sides, and blood encrusted up to the elbows. She supposed she should have been horrified, but somehow, the gauntlets themselves radiated no evil. Only Death, and Life, in equal measure.

“What…what are they?”

“The Karanstein Armlets. Made by a vampire, long ago. Rip into your enemies with them, and you shall find your every injury healed, as well as your life extended. It is not true immortality, but it is far better than what the One has discovered that his Dark Lord has done.”

Hermione swallowed. Could she…would she? To be with Harry, for as long as she could? Yes. Yes she could.

She set her jaw. “How much.”

“Thirteen Sickles, as it is for all my wares.”

Hermione counted out the coins under her breath, and placed them in the figure’s hand. The gauntlets slid up her arms under her robes, and with something she could only describe as a click in her magic, they adhered.

“Is there anything else?”

“Yes. There is a weapon. One I have saved, should the Nine see fit to send me to you.”

“Let me see it.”

Slowly, a long barrel came into view. “This weapon has not the abilities of those I have sold to the One. There is no regeneration of ammo; there is no restoration of health; there is no ability to break your enemy’s shields. This weapon is designed to strike from the last place your enemy would expect. It is the Patience and Time; and should you possess both, then your enemies shall learn to fear the silence. To use it, one must merely crouch, and aim.”

Hermione took the rifle, cradling it in both arms. It was heavy, but not unwieldy. She set it up on the floor, bipod out, as she had seen in Muggle films. Then, she sighted down the scope. Instantly, she gasped. She could see. She could see the direction all living things around her were in, and whether they were friend or foe. And most importantly, she could see a single green arrow, pointing in the direction of what could only be Harry.

As she removed her eye from the glass, she noticed that she herself had disappeared entirely from sight. She couldn’t help it; a grin lit her face. She was coming for Harry. And there was no way Dumbledore could stop her.

“I’ll take it.”

One exchange later, and she was prepared to walk out with her new acquisitions. She had just opened the door when she slapped herself in the head.

“The books! There must be hundreds of them here, all with things we can use! I have to get them!”

The figure began to chuckle from behind her. “Oh, young Warlock. Did you truly think that the One would willingly come back here just on the off-chance I should be here as well? I think you will find he has stripped this place entirely of its valuables; books, and everything else. One cannot finance a war on Death alone. Now go; you have a long journey ahead of you.”

Hermione already knew that. But it would be worth it.

“I’m coming, Harry.”

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

This story is set at the end of Fourth Year for Harry Potter, and just after Charlie Bradbury’s death for the Winchesters.

 

3) DEATH AND THE WINCHESTERS

 

Fic Title: "Nothing Satisfies Me But Your Soul"

 

Accompanying Song: "Oh Death" by Jen Titus

 

Harry watched as Voldemort rose out of the cauldron, and cursed his poor choices.

When his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire, he had immediately been ostracized by the entire school. Again. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except this time, there had been a difference. His friends had not stood with him. Ron had devolved into jealousy, and Hermione into patronization, with the end result being both quite plainly stating in their own ways that there was no way Harry would ever survive on his own. Harry had not been happy about that. Not. One. Bit. So, he settled down to do whatever he needed to survive this fiasco, and left his so-called friends to their mongering.

They had realized quite quickly when the First Task rolled around that Harry had not only been over-prepared for it, but that he was quite clearly fed up with the stupidity of wizards. He had spent ten minutes getting the egg and then returning it to the nest, multiple times, in a different way on each occasion. First was a Summoning Charm, then a Switching Spell, then a Levitation Charm…you get the picture. While Harry was disparaging the ability of the event’s planners in not so many words, he was also sarcastically ripping holes in all his schoolmates as well as his teachers for their reactions to his entry, no matter whether or not he had cheated. With a great many words. When he was done, Harry took the egg, tucked it under his arm, and to the audience’s eyes, disappeared with a crack.

Apparition was, as anyone could tell you, extremely difficult to master for someone so young. Therefore, those who had seen said Apparition immediately jumped to the conclusion that Harry had been capable of much more flashy methods when it came to deal with the dragon, but had simply ignored them to prove a point. One that stung quite a bit.

Harry had, of course, done it to prove a point. But he was willing to admit that learning Apparition was out of his league for the moment, and so were most of the implied dragon-slaying skills everyone now thought he had. What he had done instead was to let Dobby know to be on standby, and at the appropriate moment, whispered the House-elf’s name. Dobby had instantly popped Harry away, back to the secret room on the seventh floor that Harry had discovered, and had been using to hide from everyone else. Well, Harry hadn’t so much discovered it as had Dobby tell him about it. The Come-And-Go Room, the Elves called it. And it was perfect for those who did not wish to be seen.

Harry had instantly gone right back to his studies, even picking up Potions with surprising vigor now that he was no longer forced to spend time learning it with Snape. Dumbledore was quite put out that Harry seemed to not only be skipping all classes, but also to be deliberately avoiding any and all human contact. Well, almost any. He had warned the other Champions about the dragons as soon as he could, for two reasons. One, to watch their nerves jitter under the strain, and two, to have a favor he could call in during one of the other Tasks should he need it.

To avoid any undue strain between Cedric and himself, Harry had even avoided asking Cho Chang to be his date to the Yule Ball. And he made sure Cedric knew that, on no uncertain terms, thereby further putting himself in Cedric’s good graces by promising never to make a move on his girl. Not that Harry anticipated ever being able to make much of a move on anyone for much longer. He had done the math, and without a study partner as prepared as Hermione had been, added to the fact he was still a fourth year, and even with the complete stupidity of wizards taken into account, there was still a very good chance he would be dead at the end of this. So, knowing that, when the Yule Ball rolled around, he made sure to take someone he knew deserved at least one good thing in their life without any complications: Luna Lovegood.

They may not have been close friends, but she was one of the few people Harry knew that would just let him be…well, Harry. And for the entire night of the Ball, he just let her be Luna, no strings attached. Harry had been tickled pink to see Hermione and Ron fighting on the dance floor, even though he did feel a bit sorry for Ron’s date, Padma. He and Luna had done their best to cheer her up afterwards, and Harry was glad to learn that Padma and Luna already got along relatively well. The three of them had had quite a good time, and Harry’s night had been quite complete when Cedric had come up and given him the solution to the Second Task.

It had been relatively straightforward, or so Harry had thought. He had immediately locked up every single thing he owned that could ever be deemed precious to him, and stored it in a part of the Come-And-Go Room that he made sure only he could open. After all, how many Parseltongues were there around? Still, Harry worried. And so, he scraped together all he could for underwater retrievals. He even went so far as to look into scuba gear before he learned that the Tournament forbid any and all Muggle technology in the event. Typical.

When the Second Task had rolled around, Harry had once again been both over-prepared, in that he had had Dobby pop him into a suit of armor out of sight from the castle that he had charmed waterproof and Bubble-headed, and put out, once he learned exactly what had been put at the bottom of the lake. Ron. His erstwhile best friend. Harry had briefly debated leaving him there, but he really didn’t trust Dumbledore’s competence enough to ensure he wouldn’t drown down there. So, he had released Ron, and then none too gently blasted him with an Aguamenti that ensured he would shoot out of the water just in front of the spectators. Hopefully painfully. He had then settled back with his appropriated armor and battle-axe to wait for the other rescuers. He thought briefly of saving all four hostages as well, but thought better of it when he realized how very much he wanted to keep things friendly between the other Champions and himself.

Long after Krum had come and gone with his hostage (Hermione, Harry noted), as well as Cedric with Cho (standing guard over someone’s girlfriend for them was yet another way to keep on Cedric’s good side), Harry noticed it was getting close to the time limit. After one last look around for Fleur, he released the last hostage, a little girl, and began clanking his way back up to the arena. He believed the only reason he didn’t get more trouble from the mermen was the afore-mentioned battle-axe he had gripped in his hand.

Once he got to shore, he had handed the little girl (still sleeping) off to Madame Pomfrey, gave a good piece of his mind over a Sonorous exactly what he thought of using people as valuables, and then had to deal with a thoroughly bawling Fleur desperate to thank him for rescuing her sister. One more person whom he was more than glad to have in his corner. The fact she was quite beautiful had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Third Task. The maze. He, Cedric, and Fleur had all worked together to take down an Imperiused Krum, and then once that was dealt with, Cedric and Fleur had both insisted he take the trophy for himself. He had protested, but it had done no good. He had been about to suggest they share the prize, but one look into their eyes and he had known that such an offer would be just as insulting to them as it was to him. So, he had sighed, thanked them, and touched the Cup.

What happened between then and now does not bear repeating.

Just for once, Harry wished he could have had somebody, anybody, there with him. Shoot, he would even take Malfoy, just to use as a distraction. Cedric could have shielded while he attacked, or vice-versa with Fleur. But he was alone, and now there was nothing to do but watch Voldemort rise once more.

The Dark Lord slowly lifted his arms, and seemed ready to make some dramatic announcement, when the most unexpected of sounds suddenly came from behind Harry.

That of someone slurping from an empty cup.

Voldemort’s red eyes gleamed. “Who dares to disturb my return?!!”

The slurping stopped. An extremely old sounding voice took its place. “When you have lived for as long as I have, you learn to enjoy your tea to its fullest, no matter the surroundings.”

Voldemort’s mouth sharpened into an unnatural grin. “You shall not be enjoying your tea for much longer, you insolent and decrepit man. Wormtail! My wand!”

A strangled noise came from where Wormtail had been standing. Both Harry and Voldemort turned to see what had happened, just in time to witness Wormtail’s lifeless body slump lifelessly to the ground. Two men stood behind him. One held the knife that had done the deed, blood still dripping from the edge. The other, the afore-mentioned wand.

The one holding the blade spoke first. “Seriously? You just let other men walk around holding your wand? In public? Dude, not cool.”

Voldemort began to swell in rage at that, only for the second man to hold up the wand in both hands.

“Seems to me people like you ought to have their wands snapped, just in case.”

And that’s exactly what the second man did.

Voldemort gave an inarticulate cry of rage and charged forward. Or, at least he tried to.

BANG!

The second man suddenly had a shotgun in his hand. “Rock salt. Hurts like crap. Especially to the undead, which is what you are. Now, you’re going to sit very still, and our mutual friend is gonna explain to you, in very small words, exactly how stupid you’ve been.”

The figure behind Harry, whoever he was, moved forward. “That’s putting it mildly, Samuel. I believe I shall have to be even more monosyllabic than I am with you to get my point across.”

A look of hurt crossed the face of the second man. Samuel, apparently. He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped when the other man held up his hand. “Not now, Samuel. Now, I believe it would be a good idea to stop our guest from leaving.”

Everyone turned back to see Voldemort crawling along on the ground towards the remnants of his wand. Another shotgun blast, and Voldemort went spinning once more.

The figure gave a sigh. “Really, Dean. Was that necessary.”

This time it was the first man holding the weapon. “No. But it was fun.”

“Yes. For you, I suppose it was. Get him up. I need him to know exactly what he has done, and what the cost has been.”

The two men strode over to the collapsed Dark Lord, yanked him up, and dragged him over in front of the person Harry was beginning to think of as their boss. Once Voldemort was deposited in front of him, the figure knelt down, and began to speak. And the more he did so, the more Harry’s blood began to run cold.

“Did you really think you could escape? Especially from Me? There are very few that have, Tom Riddle. You are one of those that was never meant to, in this world or any other. Now, as entertaining as it might have been to see this story play out as Fate wrote it, I found I rather didn’t care for the outcome. Fate can be like that, you see. She hates seeing anything, or indeed, anyone, outside of her control. Myself included. And the way things might have happened, there was absolutely no way I could interfere directly. But Fate quite forgot that there have been times when I have called upon various apes to do what I could not alone. This was one of those times, for which my…” here He glanced at the two men still standing, “…associates will be well rewarded. One of their own, returned from my care to the land of the living.”

The figure sighed. “You know, as plans go, yours was not the worst I have ever been forced to endure. But you really should have been more careful which vessels you chose for your Horcruxes.”

Voldemort jerked his head up in…was that terror?

“Oh yes, I know full well what those abominations are. Such a shame they cannot save you now. You should have learned your History, Tom Riddle. It might have told you of certain other individuals. Brothers. Who all thought that they could cheat Death. Cheat Me. One with a Wand; one with a Cloak; and the last, with a Ring. This Ring.”

The fig…Death, Harry thought, that’s Death…raised his hand into the light. On it, Harry could indeed see a Ring, glistening in the moon. “Originally a Stone. Meant to summon the spirits of the dead for conversation. And thus, intimately tied to both Me, and souls in general. So when I finally realized that someone had had the utter gall to tie only a part of their soul to it, well, there was only one Fate worth granting that someone. It has taken a long time for someone to come along capable of wielding the First Blade, but come along they have. And now, your soul is as vulnerable as any other.”

Death stood, and brushed himself off. “This is not farewell, Tom Riddle. For where your fare is paid, things shall be most unwell for you indeed. You are mine now. And I shall have no mercy on your soul. Have at him, boys.”

Harry widened his eyes, and then averted them as a blinding flash erupted from Voldemort’s body. An unholy shriek seemed to erupt from every corner of the graveyard at once, and then abruptly ceased, as if the vocal cords of whatever had made it had been cut. Harry turned his eyes back. There, on the ground, lay what remained of Voldemort. Just a lifeless puppet, the malice that had driven it gone.

Dean spoke first. “Is that it? I was expecting a little more, I dunno, pizzazz.”

Death dryly responded. “Yes, because what would be a Winchester adventure without ‘pizzazz’. Go; you will find your friend alive and well when you return home. And, as much as am loath to say it…thank you.”

Sam nodded. “Of course. By the way…what Fate was so horrible that you were willing to bring us along to an entirely different world just to avoid it?”

Death rested both hands on a cane that had appeared out of nowhere. “That is for Me alone to know. Well, I and…” here he turned to look at Harry, “…one other. It has no bearing on you, of that I can assure you.”

Dean shrugged. “Works for me. You know where to find us.”

And with that, the two brothers were gone, leaving Harry alone with Death.

Harry slowly raised his chin. “Am I going to die, too?”

“Eventually, child. In the end, everything dies. But not today, I think. Now, up you get. You have quite the ordeal ahead of you.”

Harry found the ropes binding him had vanished. Slowly, he stood, rubbing his wrists. “An ordeal? What could possibly be worse than this?”

Death, unbelievably, chuckled. “Well, for one, you are going to have to explain to your dear friends back at Hogwarts that you were kidnapped by one Peter Pettigrew to be used in a ritual to resurrect the Dark Lord. A ritual that you were, fortunately, able to disrupt by stabbing Pettigrew in the back. I believe that your account, combined with the Dark Mark on the rat’s arm, shall be more than enough to get your godfather acquitted.”

Harry gaped. Then, he spoke. “But…why?”

“Why would you tell them this? Well, I imagine the truth would be a good deal more difficult to believe, wouldn’t it?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I got that, it’s just…why would you help by telling me?”

Death sighed once more. “Because, Harry Potter, in another world, in another Time, things would have gone very differently today. And I am all too well aware of how it feels to be Fate’s plaything. You deserve, more than most, I think, a different ending to your story. Now, I believe that touching that cup shall return you to whence you came, where I also believe you have quite a few friends of the female persuasion waiting anxiously.”

Harry bent down, and picked up his wand. He hobbled over to Wormtail’s body, and then hauled it back in the direction of the Cup, being none too gentle as he did so. Just as he was about to touch it, he stopped.

“You said one other would know that Fate, and looked at me when you said it. What was it?”

Death took a while to answer. “…I mentioned the three brothers. And the items I gave to them. As you can see, I have the Ring. Your Headmaster is currently in possession of the Wand. And you, yourself, have my Cloak. Passed down from generation to generation within your family. Yours has always been a heritage closely associated with Death. And, should you have ever had all three items in your possession at once, then you would have found yourself the Master of Death. The Master of Me. With all that entails. I, for one, do not wish a Master. And I know for a fact that you wish no more titles than you already have. Especially not that one.”

Harry nodded in understanding. “You thanked them. Sam and Dean. I can’t; so…thank you.”

Death gave a bow. “Of course, Harry Potter. We will not meet again for a long while, I should say.”

Harry raised his eyebrow. “Are you sure?”

Death laughed. “Of course. After all, you and I have an appointment.”

And with that, Death was gone, along with Voldemort’s body, leaving Harry alone in a graveyard.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

4) DARTH VADER

 

Fic Title: "I Made The Devil Run"

 

Accompanying Song: "Bad" by Royal Deluxe

 

Vader drifted in the Force.

His work was done. It had cost him everything, but in the end, he had seen it through. The Force once more had balance, the Dark and the Light in harmony. He reflected on how the code of the Sith had reflected the truth of the Force more than that of the Jedi. Always two there were. No more, no less. The Jedi, in all of their hubris, had never understood that by definition the path of Bane was closer to the will of the Force than they could ever hope to be. Power should be shared, yes. But share power among too many, and the whole system would collapse. He had seen the truth of that in both the republic and the Jedi Order as a whole. And it had cost them both everything.

Of course, the antithesis of that truth was what had cost him everything. He had attempted to grab all the power he could. True, it was for others’ sake, but in the end, he had still done it. Both he and Sidious had fallen into the trap of control. For different reasons, but with the same result. And now that their fates were fulfilled, Luke and his sister, whoever she may be, would rebuild the galaxy in a better image, without the failures of their father.

Two they were. No more. No less.

A familiar voice dragged him from his reverie. “So. It is finished.”

He turned…or what passed for it here…to face the speaker. “Starkiller. I had wondered who the Force would send to tell me my punishment.”

Galen Marek hung in space. “A fitting choice, I thought. In many ways, I was your mirror. Raised in the Dark, turned to the Light. Some man named Kenobi wanted to come, but in the end it fell to me.”

Vader nodded. Even in death, he was to be denied reconciliation with his old Master. Fitting. The bass of his mechanical voice thundered. “I am ready. Let it be as the Force wills.”

“Are you sure, Vader? This will not be a normal punishment, by any means.”

“Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One. I killed him. His son may have brought him back, but the galaxy still had the misfortune to know me first. No matter how harsh what is to come may be, it cannot be said I do not deserve it.”

“A wise answer, Vader. But you do yourself too little credit. It was you, not Anakin Skywalker, that did most of the work of balancing the Force. For every Jedi that you killed, the galaxy moved that much closer to a new era. One without either the Jedi, or the Sith. Your son will train a new order, one much more suited for balance. And your daughter will sweep away the ashes of both Republic and Empire, and create something entirely new. Your legacy is not entirely pain, Vader. It is also change. Change that has been too long in coming.”

Vader sighed. “You always were idealistic, Starkiller. Perhaps that is why I kept coming back to you. You said you were my mirror, but to me, you were more. Anakin Skywalker had an apprentice, once. He failed her. I am…glad…that despite my intentions at the time, I did not fail you. At least, not as badly.”

Marek briefly grinned, but then saddened once more. “We all fail, in the end. The stakes are just higher for some of us.”  

He crossed his arms in determination. “It is time. Your punishment is to be thus: you were the Chosen One. You were meant to balance both the Force itself. But due to the failures of the practitioners of both sides, you spent the first half of your life in the Light, and the second half in the Dark. Because of this, your soul was divided in two as well: Anakin Skywalker, and Darth Vader. This is something that was not meant to be. And many worlds and times away from here, a similar Fate is about to befall another Chosen One. He is already standing on the edge of the knife. But unlike your past self, there is none of the Dark to give him that final push. He will pull back into the Light entirely, and balance will not come. This is your task: you will be sent to him in the form of an avenger. You shall teach him of the Dark, and of its harmony with the Light. You shall be to him what Palpatine should have been to you. Now, this Chosen One already has a teacher of the Light, what you would call the Grandmaster of his order. He has fallen into the same traps as Skywalker did. He operates entirely out of fear, never daring to release control for even a moment. He will see you as a threat, and seek to eliminate you. Trust nothing that he says or does. His manipulations are unmatched, even by the Sith. His current opponent, as well as that of the Chosen One, is a Dark Lord. One of the same sort as Maul; savage and vicious, barely more than an animal. He is not your enemy, but neither is he your friend. This will be the second part of your task: arrange things such that this Dark Lord and the Grandmaster are more equal opponents. How you accomplish this is up to you.”

Vader nodded once more. “I understand.”

“Now, here is what will happen to you at the end of your punishment. Should you fail, and the Chosen One remain with either the Light or the Dark fully, then you shall return here for all eternity. Forever trapped in that suit currently supporting your body, drifting endlessly. Alone. But should you succeed, then you shall be reunited with those your other self loved.”

Vader’s breath caught at that. To see Padme again…Kenobi, Ahsoka, Rex…he would do anything for even the chance.

Marek smiled at that. “Yes, I thought that would motivate you. Oh, and one more thing.”

He waved his hand, and suddenly, Vader was free. Free of those accursed metal confines, free of that abomination that trapped his soul in his body.

“You have suffered long enough for now in the coffin of Anakin Skywalker. Now, walk in his body, for at least a while. And with that…I must depart. May the Force be with you, Vader.”

The image of his apprentice faded, and eventually the rest of his vision as well.

“May the Force be with you…Galen.”

 


 

“SIRIUS!”

Harry couldn’t move; Remus had him gripped too tightly. Harry had to do something; anything. Go after Sirius; go after Bellatrix. But going after her meant that he was admitting Sirius was gone, that he was…dead.

Sirius was dead.

He felt the rage well up from within him; he felt it pull at him like gravity itself. He was drowning in it. He had to let it out. He threw off Remus’ grip, and was just about to run, when something flickered in the edge of his vision.

The Veil. It was moving again.

Something was coming through.

Was it…no, it couldn’t be…?

It wasn’t.

A figure, dressed all in black, stepped out of the Veil of Death.

It seemed to tower over all around it, even the Veil itself, no matter how tall the structure was. The figure’s cloak seemed to sway in some unseen breeze, flowing in ever-moving shapes. A helmet covered the figure’s head, with the only clue it was indeed a person inside being the eyes that stared out from the mask.

Red eyes.

Harry knew only one person with eyes like that.

He raised his wand.

“REDUCTO!”

A blade of light to match the eyes appeared in the figure’s hand, and deflected the spell. A deep, mechanical voice seemed to rise up from around the figure. “Good. You are already mentally capable of bringing harm to others. That will save a good deal of time.”

Harry could only stare in astonishment. Whoever this was, it wasn’t Voldemort. Not even the Dark Lord could move fast enough to do…whatever the figure had just done. On top of that, the voice was wrong.

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry could see Remus step up beside him, his own wand matching the direction of Harry’s. “Who are you?”

The figure seemed amused at that. “Who am I? That is a very hard question to answer, Harry Potter. For now, all you need know is that I was once like you. Chosen by the universe itself for a very specific purpose. I failed in my task. And now, I have been sent to ensure the same does not happen to you.”

Harry sucked in his breath. The universe itself… “Do you mean, like, a prophecy?”

“Yes. Now, we must move. We have very little time.”

“Time for what?”

“Why, to deal with the one that just killed your godfather, of course.”

Bellatrix. Just a reminder of what she had done brought all the rage back to the surface.

The figure halted in his stride, and glanced back. “Your rage is good. Anger can be an excellent motivator. But not like that. Hold onto that spark, but do not yet feed the flame. Power means nothing without control.”

The figure resumed his relentless path forward. Harry and Remus both did their best to follow the figure, the red light of his blade casting an unhealthy glow around them as they went. Ahead, they heard the sounds of battle. They turned a corner to a sight Harry had never thought he would see:

Dumbledore was fighting. And losing.

True, it was two on one, the Dark Lord and Bellatrix versus the Headmaster, but even then Dumbledore shouldn’t be handling it this badly. Suddenly Harry realized exactly why he was doing so poorly: he was only using non-lethal spells. Oh sure, some of them could cause severe physical harm, but Harry could see Dumbledore was using them only as distractions. Every attack he set up that seemed to have even the slightest chance of succeeding hadn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping either of his opponents. And they knew it.

So too, apparently, did the figure.

“Do you see, Harry Potter? Do you see what relying solely on the Light will get you? I wonder if the true reason your father fell was because he was not prepared to do what was necessary. Unlike your mother. The only time your Dark Lord has lost, it has been to someone willing to do anything to stop him. Even die. Yet still your master will not learn. Will you make the same mistake as him? As…your father?”

Harry’s anger shot through the roof. How dare he! How dare this…man, this…monster, presume to know anything about him! Chosen One or not, he couldn’t know! He would never know how it was to grow up parentless, how it felt to have everyone you knew turn on you, how it was to be treated like scum by the elite of the world!

The figure answered his unspoken thoughts. “But I do know, Harry Potter. Why else would I have been sent to you, if not for that reason. The only question that remains, is this: what are you going to do now?”

Slowly, Harry raised his wand. He had always been willing to do whatever it took to stop Voldemort. The only difference now, was that it no longer mattered what happened to him. His mother had not died to save him. She had died to stop the Dark Lord. This was just the next logical step in self-sacrifice.

And he would begin by depriving Voldemort of his best lieutenant.

He focused all of his hatred, all of his anger, all of how he felt at the unfairness of his life into two, simple words:

“AVADA KEDAVRA!”

The jet of green flew across the room, impacting exactly where he had meant it to.

Harry had expected to relish the look on Bellatrix’s face, how it felt to see her body crumple to the ground. But he felt nothing.

“Well done, my apprentice. You have learned to use your anger. And you have done so without holding on afterwards. You have done far better than I would have at your age.”

Dumbledore’s face was frozen in horror. “Harry…what have you done?”

Voldemort’s laugh echoed throughout the room. “Cannot you see, you old fool? He has tasted hatred for the first time in his life. And now, the Dark has him!”

 


 

Vader moved to stand beside Harry. His reverberating voice thundered in response. “Never. What he has done, he has done not for his own sake. And that is not the way of the Dark. It is the way of the Light. Or what the Light should be.”

Dumbledore turned his wand away from Voldemort. Vader was flattered; here five minutes, and he already deserved more attention than a well-established Dark Lord. “You have manipulated my student.”

“No more than you, old man. Do not think I am unaware of your actions regarding a certain prophecy.”

Was it his eyes, or did he detect a trembling in the Headmaster’s hand? “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

Two sets of red eyes bored into the man. “I think you do. And sooner or later, all truth comes to light. Even yours, Headmaster.”

The old man’s wand went very still. “And what, may I ask, is the name of the man that thinks he has discovered my truth?”

His cloak made a particularly dramatic swish. “Vader. Darth Vader.”

“A Dark name, for a Dark Lord.”

A hiss from Voldemort. “Never! I am the Dark Lord here! It is my time!”

Vader nodded his head in recognition. “As you say. It is your time. But you are now not the only Dark Lord here.”

Voldemort stood straighter. Vader had felt them too; several presences had appeared around him, hiding in the shadows. Obviously, Voldemort’s and Dumbledore’s sheep. He reached out and whispered through the Force into Potter’s mind. They are coming. Get to your friends; they will need your help more than I.

He had barely finished before Harry was running. Voldemort was laughing. “Fool! He runs from a power that he doesn’t understand! Weak! Like you, Vader!”

Vader unclipped his lightsaber from his belt. “And that is what you fail to understand. The both of you. He is not running from something; he is running to it.”

Both Voldemort and Dumbledore’s wands were now glowing; one green, one red. The Headmaster spoke first. “If that is true, why are you not running yourself?”

Voldemort’s voice devolved into a whisper. “After all, surely you must realize you are surrounded.”

Vader took his stance. “All I am surrounded by is fear…”

He ignited his saber. The surrounding area was stained with crimson light.

“…And dead men.”

And he charged.  

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

4) LOKI OF ASGARD

 

Fic Title: "Long Live The King"

 

Accompanying Song: "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay

 

First, there was darkness.

Then, there was Light.

He was…

Where was he?

Someplace…cold. Not as cold as space, but still.

Space. He had been in space. He was…falling.

And then it all came rushing back to him. The Jotunns, Thor’s banishment, the revelation of his heritage, Odin-sleep, the bridge…it was all too much.

His eyes flew open with a gasp. They were met with the sight of a great, arching ceiling that seemed to fade into shadow. So…definitely not back on Asgard, then.

He managed to roll over onto his side to get a better view of his surroundings. Hmm. What appeared to be an entryway hung in front of him, with nothing but a veil of mist by way of a door. As he stared at the mist, he fancied that he could hear, for the briefest of moments, a whisper that came from beyond.

Forcing himself to his feet, he thoroughly examined the…veil, as he’d called it before. As he circled it, he noticed that all trace of the whispering disappeared once he was behind the artifact. For he could now see that a magical artifact was undoubtedly what it was. Ancient runes were engraved on every square inch of the structure, whose functions even he was skeptical to guess. But the one thing he could discern for certain was that some of the writings, those added more recently, all seemed to refer to the veil with the connotation of…death.

 So, he was dead then. Or, more likely, he had been dead, and Death itself had spit him back out, considering the position he had awoken in. The only way he could have ended up like that was if he had fallen through the veil itself, from…whatever afterlife it led to. The one thing that truly bothered him about that was…why didn’t he remember any of it?

Footsteps. Far away, but coming closer. Best not to make himself known until he had at least some idea of what he was dealing with.

Swiftly backing behind the artifact, he threw all the concealing spells he knew over his position. So, his magic still worked here, but it seemed…weaker. As if the source of magic was…going out. Dying, even. A worrying thought.

But not as worrying as the two individuals that had just entered the room.

One was obviously the curator of the artifact, judging by how he walked as if he owned the place. He seemed to run his eyes over every inch of the room, as if he knew exactly where everything should have been. Loki was tempted to snort.  It wasn’t like there was much in here to begin with.

Loki’s deduction of the man’s occupation was confirmed when he spoke. “I can’t make it out, Albus. Nothing seems to have moved, and as far as I can see there isn’t anything in the corners of the room that shouldn’t be. You’d think a magical disturbance like that would have shaken at least something loose.”

The second man, Albus, Loki supposed, spoke for the first time. “I think not, my dear Croaker. It is, after all, the eye of the storm that is the calmest.”

Croaker harrumphed. “Some storm. We lost quite a few Time Turners when…whatever that was blew through.”

“My sincerest regrets, Director. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to…acquire…the necessary components for those devices.”

Loki’s eyebrows slid upwards at that. So, these magicals, whoever they were, were capable of turning in Time. What that entailed, Loki couldn’t say for certain, but he would hazard a guess that the method was not, strictly speaking, legal. A grin lit his features. If something wasn’t strictly legal, then there would be no strictly legal course to pursue should something happen to it. Say, theft, for instance.

Albus continued. “I must, however, confess that it is the timing of this occurrence that bothers me more.”

Croaker blinked. “How on Earth…” ah, Loki thought, so they were on Midgard, then, good to know… “Could anything be more disastrous than broken Time Turners?”

“I can list several things right this moment that would be so, but the worst is the one that I fear has, unfortunately, happened.”

Croaker drawled. “And what would that be, Chief Warlock?”

To Loki’s mind, ‘Chief’ and ‘Warlock’ instantly put this man in a new light. Now that he could see it, the beard, the robes, no missing eye, but definitely scars…this might very well be Midgard’s version of his…that is to say, of Odin.

“I should say that a soul has come back from the dead, Director Croaker. One that was never meant to be in this time, nor in this place. I think you will find all of your Time Turners no longer functional, if only due to the fact there is now a loop in reality that goes against their very nature.”

With, apparently, the magical knowledge of his mother. Oh joy.

“A soul? That’s dangerous stuff, Albus. Any idea who it might have been? And where they might have gone?”

“I will admit that I have a fairly good idea of exactly who it was, and also that they are long gone.”

Wrong there, old man.

“And if I am not mistaken, it is a problem that will keep. For now, I must return to what I was originally doing when you first contacted me.”

A problem that would keep? Him? Loki, the God of Mischief, could keep? Oh, he very much doubted that.

Croaker slapped the Chief Warlock on the back. “Interviewing new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors again? Still haven’t got that curse lifted, then?”

“It can be a bother, true, but it has its uses. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have the business of a school to attend to.”

“Of course, Albus. Give Snape my regards.”

“I shall, Croaker.”

And with that, the two men left, each lost in a world of their own as they contemplated what this could mean for the world.

Loki waited until they were quite gone to drop his concealment. So, the Chief Warlock also ran a school. A school of magic, and by that he meant only Light magic, of course. Odin forbid the proper Dark Arts be taught, much less the correct defense against them. A curse that had its uses, indeed. Loki was beginning to suspect that pontificating old man of quite a bit more than your basic power-grabbing. At this point his list consisted of: illegal experimentation, indoctrination, ruthless removal of his opponents, and thanatology, and Loki was quite certain that the more he learned of this world, the more that list would grow.

Learn more of this world…should he? After all, a place that could actually teach Thor, of all people, even a modicum of humility and decorum couldn’t be entirely bad. And he had always loved a challenge…

He had failed in his plan to prove himself a worthy ruler of Asgard. Perhaps he could prove himself a worthy ruler of Midgard instead.

True, the elderly Warlock seemed to have a good deal of the power sewed up, but if there was something Loki was an expert at, it was leveraging even the smallest of chinks in his enemy’s armor. His mind made up, Loki reapplied his concealment spells and strode from the room.

If he had been paying attention, he would have heard the faintest trace of laughter coming from the veil.

 


 

Odin’s beard, just how much paraphernalia did these wizards require?

So far in his journey down this Alley, he had been practically run over by people carrying familiars, cauldrons, potion ingredients, telescopes, balances, books, paper and quills, and so much more. Seriously, just what were you supposed to do with a self-filling inkpot? Even Loki could see that, as far behind the times as these wizards were, it would be infinitely simpler to charm the quill itself to be re-inking.

Typical humans.

But there was one area that these people seemed to be far ahead of Asgard in.

A sign hung in front of Loki; a single, ancient word scrawled on it. Ollivander’s.

And that one area was wands.

A bell chimed as Loki stepped into the shop. The darkness was not hard to adjust to. The sense of being intensely watched, however, was.

“I would like to point out for your benefit that the last person to attempt to sneak up behind me had a knife plunged into his throat.”

An answering creak of a voice replied. “Somehow, I don’t doubt it. My name is Ollivander, sir, wand-maker of some small renown. And might I have the pleasure of knowing your name?”

…His name. Blast it all, his name. He couldn’t very well give his true one, now could he? No; it would have to be a false one. But which one to use?

After a long moment, he spoke. “Loch. My name is Loch.” Close enough to his original name there would be little confusion, but far enough that it sounded vaguely Midgardian.

Ollivander’s brow furrowed at the name. “Loch. A Scottish name. But not, I think, a Scottish temperament. Very well, Mister Loch, let us see about your wand…”

 


 

Four hours later, Loki had everything he could reasonably think of to pull off any charade or plot he may be forced to enact. Including most of those accursed items he had previously labeled “paraphernalia”. Like the books. Especially the books.

He had done his best to avoid outright theft. Best not to call too much attention to himself. He didn’t want to end up a higher priority on the Chief Warlock’s list than he already was. In the end, he had been forced to transform (or transfigure, as his books said) some of his spare supply of gold into replicas of the local currency. Idiot humans, claiming that something couldn’t stay transformed for forever. All it took was enough magical power, and the thing would last until the sun gave out. Although, granted, it would have taken quite a lot more out of Loki to do it without his new wand. Ebony, with phoenix feather. And perfectly suited as a focus in this world that Loki could already tell was beginning to lose its magic.

For Loki knew now that this was definitely not his version of Midgard. Even on his brief visits to the place, his magic had never felt as it did here. He had even magically transported (or Apparated) himself to where Mjolnir had landed after Thor’s banishment, and there had been no trace of the entire incident.

All the more reason to keep a low profile. If there was another Asgard, as well as another Midgard, then there might be another version of him, or Odin forbid, of…well, Odin, running around. And that was something Loki was simply unprepared to deal with.

He would have to build a power base. And he had all the time in the world to do it, right underneath the Chief Warlock’s nose.

 


 

Dumbledore put down his spectacles. He had hoped that by now Quirrell would have been possessed by Voldemort, but after that interview, he was quite sure the man had been just as un-dangerous as he had been before his trip to Albania. After that disturbance, Dumbledore had been sure that Voldemort had returned to the land of the living. Well, at least enough to control one cowardly teacher. But no such luck. And now, Dumbledore had no idea where Voldemort was. Or even if he had successfully come back at all.

He glanced up at the man that sat on the other side of his desk. Black hair, brown eyes…

For a brief moment, Dumbledore’s heart stopped as he considered that it might not have been Tom Riddle that had made his escape from the afterlife that he had been banished to. If it had been instead, oh, say, someone such as James Potter, who bore a strong resemblance to the man now sitting across from him…then all of his plans were now well and truly ruined.

Dumbledore cleared his throat. “So, Mister…Loch…tell me, what qualifies you for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher here at Hogwarts?”

Loki of Asgard grinned, and opened his mouth to reply.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

6) TOLAND THE SHATTERED

 

Fic Title: "Dead Body Moving"

 

Accompanying Song: "Dead Body Moving" by Devil Makes Three

 

They might have been Kings and Queens of the Deep. But they have toppled Oryx…and they have not replaced Him.

Toland cursed all those that had wronged him as he made his way across the Sea of Screams. He had plenty of people to choose from; Eris Morn, his fireteam member, for what she had done in the Hellmouth and since. The Awoken Queen and her half-witted brother for their attack on Oryx, and their individual attempts to reclaim the Dreaming City. And the team of Guardians that had slain the Taken King, and then left His Throne sitting empty for any to claim.

And She was coming to claim it.

Toland had known for a long time that She was coming; practically every event of any importance that had occurred within the last few years had Her marks all over it. Toland may have been fool-hardy, and arrogant, but even he was wise enough to realize that his time wandering the Ascendant Realm was drawing to a close. He had done all he could for the Guardians; now he would wash his hands of them. Either they would become stronger on their own, or Savathun would Take them all. Neither ending boded well for Toland. If the Guardians won, then Eris, the Drifter, and the Man With The Golden Gun would all turn their attentions to those such as him. If Savathun won, then all that existed in this plane of existence would eventually fall under Her sway. And Savathun was too cunning too allow a Warlock like he had been to continue plundering the Ascendant Realm for its secrets.

It was time for him to make a fast exit.

Which was exactly what he was trying to do, and so far, failing miserably.

He had hoped that at least someone else would have discovered what he had, and created a Soul World in this place as a defense against Final Death. But no such luck. So far in his wanderings, all he had seen were the remains of the realms of the Mindbender, the Queen, the King, and the King’s Son. He was not fool enough to search for the Throne of Oryx’s sister; either of them. And not even that half-intelligent, half-mad Dredgen had ever put the true power of his cursed hand cannon to use.  

Wait…what was this?

It appeared to be…a hole. A hole in the very fabric of the Ascendant Plane itself.

Not good.

It was almost as if something had drawn a pocket of the Realm outside of its intended space, and then used it to encase…something.

Toland would have stumbled back had he possessed a physical form. This…this went against all logic, Sword or otherwise. This…hole…this…abomination, should not have existed. Somehow, someone, had ripped a piece of the Ascendant Realm away, and wrapped it around a piece of their soul. Not even the entire thing, as Oryx had done with his malevolent Dreadnaught; whoever had done this had attempted to hide themselves from all enemies by ripping their soul into hideously mutilated parts.

Toland wished he could have been sick.

This…he would not stand for this. He would destroy this monstrosity, here and now. Gathering all of his not-insignificant power, he spoke the words that would invoke a battle between himself and the soul of this madman.

“I am the mightiest thing in existence; and I prove it thus!”

And with that, he hurled himself forward at the hole.

 


 

EXISTENCE.

MEANING.

HOLLOW.

REND.

RIP.

TEAR.

IT IS DONE…

 


 

Toland came back to himself. That had been a hard fight; but in the end, his victory had been assured. After all, one soul’s power was far greater than that of a mere slice of one.

He rose, and glanced around to take in the appearance of the Throne World he had just won.

Wait a minute…rise? Glance?

Since when did he have appendages, or eyes?

He looked down, and stared in shock. His body…it had returned. He had thought that only a return to the physical world would have even the slightest chance of granting such a thing. Had he in fact returned to the land of the living after so long in the Deep?

He waved his new fingers in front of his face, and then struck.

“Ow!”

He rubbed his cheek. That had smarted. It was not true pain, the kind he had learned while Ascendant, but it was pain, nonetheless. Somehow, in his battle with the abomination, he had been drawn into the outer world where it had resided. Which meant…

He was safe.

Safe from the Guardians, safe from the Trickster, safe from any and all who might go searching for him in that higher plane. That is, unless, they stumbled upon the remnants of the hole, and followed him through it.

Speaking of…where were they on this side of reality?

He resumed his appraisal of his surroundings. A shack…old, and run-down. Earth, then. He seriously doubted the Fallen could have built something that had survived for this long. There wasn’t much in the way of decoration, and there were obviously blast marks on the walls. Curious…the blast appeared to have come from…underneath him.

Whatever floor had existed in this hut had disintegrated around him, exposing a circular patch of dirt. And directly at the epicenter of the blast were two things: himself…and a ring.

Slowly, he knelt, and touched it.

Hissing, he recoiled. That…whatever it was, had been the source of the hole. And, he suspected, the outer covering of the soul container. Odd…after as utter a destruction as he had granted to that mutilation, there should have been no trace of the physical container left.

Hesitantly, he reached down once more, and grasped the ring.

This…this was something far older than he had ever seen…not even the ruins of Oryx’s Dreadnaught were this old…and Toland had dated that structure himself.

And he fancied he could here the barest whispers of…something…coming from the Stone set into the ring.

The Ahamkara had never been his area of expertise; briefly he regretted not spending more time conversing with their bones. Perhaps then he could have recognized at least some of what the whispering voice was saying.

He stood, and slipped the ring onto his finger. His new bond, to match his new body. He wondered if he could even still classify himself as a Warlock, after all that he had seen and done. He snorted. The thought was ridiculous. He had always pursued knowledge to the expense of all else; no matter that he had ranged further afield than even the bravest of Hunters doing so.

But just to confirm, he raised his hand, and concentrated. Slowly, there took shape in his curled palm a ball of Void energy. Curiouser and curiouser. The Light felt different, somehow, than he remembered. Perhaps this was the result of the Guardian’s awakening of the Traveler. Perhaps not. He would experiment with it later, just to see what changes had taken place during his absence.

The purplish light revealed a crack in the floor that he had previously missed. Toland’s grin took on an unearthly hue as he once more knelt in the dirt, and with one hand still holding the scatter grenade, he began to dig.

 


 

Toland stared once more in horror at the titles of the volumes he had revealed.

Most Evile Magicks. The Darkest of Arts: Legilimency and Mental Manipulation. On Thanatology. The Necronomicon. And one, tiny, manuscript, simply labeled Horcruxes.

He had felt the evil within those volumes as he had removed each of them from their hiding place. These…he hated to call them books…seemed to shriek against reality itself. And not in the way of the way of the Hive, with an underlying melody that brought order to the chaos. These monstrosities screamed only in incomprehensible hatred, and rage against the dying of the light. Those that had penned them had been concerned with only two things: the domination of all other wills under their own, and the assured survival of themselves. They had seen the logic of the Sword, and twisted it to suit their own purposes, as the Trickster had done.

He hoped that one of them might have been the owner of the partial soul he had destroyed earlier. Good riddance: he was the stronger, therefore he was the one that had lived. His opponent had given up living for the barest of existences. It had been a hollow trade.

As Toland began to store the volumes in his coat (he wasn’t about to let such knowledge fall into anyone else’s hands), he began to lay his plan. Aside from this being Earth, he had no idea exactly where he was. He would have to rectify that. Also, he would have to, at some point, gather some supplies. He was Ghost-less now, and starvation was just as much of a threat as the forces of the Darkness. When it came to armaments, he had been surprised to see that his rifle, the Bad Juju, had somehow traveled with him across worlds. He suspected due to its connection to his soul, but it wasn’t exactly something he cared to test. And all of his abilities seemed to be working as normal, albeit they seemed to recharge at an absurdly high rate. He wondered if that was due more to the changes in him or the Light.

That was when he felt it; a restriction of the Light, as if it had been twisted in a certain way that he was unable to comprehend, and with an intent he could somehow feel was more than slightly hostile. Perhaps it was the owner of the soul-piece he had annihilated; perhaps not. Either way, it didn’t matter. Whoever they were, he would deal with them. Permanently.

The last of the books slid home, and he buttoned his coat closed. Swishing robes may have been the height of style, but they were certainly not conducive for combat. He swung Bad Juju over his shoulder and into his waiting arms. Let them come.

He was stronger.

 


 

“Halt!”

Only four of them; barely a challenge. Toland continued slowly walking forward. “On whose authority?”

“On the authority of the Ministry of Magic and of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!”

Toland’s stride never faltered. “I do not recognize these authorities; therefore I do not recognize yours.”

The leader, a dark-skinned man, answered again. “Whatever authorities you may answer to, they have no power here. This is England, and that means you are under our jurisdiction.”

England…Toland recognized that name…from ancient documents, papers written before…

Toland stopped.

…Before the collapse.

“…If this is England, might I persuade you to give me the year?”

The dark-skinned man hesitated, then lowered what Toland assumed was his weapon. “Its 1981, mate. What happened? Accident with a Time Turner?”

Time…of course! How could he have been so slow? He himself had read the Books of Sorrow, and knew the true origins of the Vex. He had always glanced over those tales, barely regarding them, for the Vex had not been the subject of his probing. Now, he realized he should have asked exactly how it was that Crota had been able to tear a hole in both Time and Space to let the Vex into the Ascendant Realm. After all, if one could use the Vex Gate Network to travel in time, could not the same laws apply to the Throne Worlds?

He was dragged from his reverie when the leader once more raised his weapon. “Sorry, sir, but any incidents regarding time travel go right to the Department of Mysteries.”

“I think you will find, sir, that I do not go anywhere that I do not wish. And as tempting as an entire department dedicated to the mysteries of things such as Time sounds, I rather dislike the idea of being dissected for research.”

The man never wavered. “I completely understand, but…”

One of the other three men grabbed the leader by his other arm. “Sir! I’m detecting multiple Dark signatures coming from his coat!”

Instantly the slight hostility that had been there before returned a hundred-fold. The leader’s voice froze into glacial ice. “Sir, I’m afraid I must insist you surrender yourself to our custody.”

Toland sighed, and raised his rifle. “I don’t suppose I could convince you that these are things your Department of Mysteries definitely shouldn’t have?”

Frigid eyes stared unblinkingly. “No.”

“In that case, I am genuinely sorry…”

I am the strongest thing in existence…

“For what I am about to do.”

And I prove it thus.

The head of the man who had been grasping the leader’s arm disappeared. The eyes of Bad Juju glowed as the last of three echoing cracks retorted through the valley.

The leader was already moving, some sort of shield shimmering into before him. Toland suspected that the man he had just killed had been the leader’s partner, judging by how the man seemed to favor protecting his left side more then his right. His bullets slammed into the side of the shield and dissipated, leaving behind screams in their wake. So, these Light-bearers had studied at least some of the ways of Titans. Not that it would do them much good. It hadn’t against Crota.

The remaining two men had begun moving as well, setting up in the same way the leader and his partner would have; right side shielding, left side attacking. As the first bolts of light flew towards him, Toland reached within himself, touched the Void…and Blinked straight upwards.

Instantly, the enemy fire stopped, as they struggled to comprehend where he had gone.

“…parition wards!”

“Outgoing Port…!”

“…illusionment!”

Toland smiled a smile of teeth…and cast his Nova Bomb straight down into the remaining pair of fighters.

Their pathetic shields never stood a chance.

But now, the leader had seen him.

Sprays of red light streaked into the air, emanating from the stick the man wielded as a weapon. Toland was forced to Blink once more to the side, tossing an Axion Bolt as he did so. Just as he predicted; the man shielded. This was exactly how Toland dealt with all Titans that leaned heavily on their Barricades. Just before the Bolt reached, Bad Juju began to glow once more as Toland emptied his magazine into the shield. The leader’s eyes widened as his shield disintegrated…just before the Axion hit.

 


 

To rend one’s enemies…

Toland plucked the stick from the dead man’s fingers. There hadn’t been much to loot from the other bodies; Nova Bomb tended to produce that effect. But on the Leader, Toland had found what he supposed passed for currency, as well as some sort of badge. Hopefully, it would allow him to scrounge some of what he would inevitably be needing in the days to come.

As his fingers curled around the stick, he felt his Light react. As if it were…singing? A group of sparks shot out of the end of the stick, all purple and green. How odd. The…wand, somehow he now knew it was called a wand…seemed capable of picking its master. He aimed the wand in the direction of his previous crater, and did his best to throw a Nova Bomb while wielding it.

That may, or may not, have been a mistake.

Toland groaned as he pushed himself to his feet. Well, at least now he had a pretty good definition of overkill. Whatever else this wand may have been, there were two things about it that were abundantly clear to him: One, it followed the Sword Logic, and two, it seriously amplified his power. Seriously.

Brushing himself off, Toland slid the wand up the sleeve of his left arm. If he could produce a shield like those men had, all while either firing or fighting with his right…

A whole new world of experimentation had opened up.

But now, it was time to leave. More men would be here soon, if they weren’t already on their way. Closing his eyes, Toland let the wand slip between his fingers once more. If his Nova Bomb was now infinitely more powerful…would his Blink be as well?

Not thirty seconds later, ten wizards Apparated in to Little Hangleton to find two massive craters, a burned-out and looted shack, and the dead body of one Senior Auror Kingsely Shacklebolt.

…Is to view them as objects, hollow of existence and meaning. Thirteenth Understanding, Seventh Book of Sorrow.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

7) CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW

 

Fic Title: "It's A Hell Of A Way"

 

Accompanying Song: "Randy Dandy Oh" by the Dreadnaughts

 

“Was it like this when you sailed through?”

Elizabeth Turner glanced at the man standing beside him. “…No. Last time…there were stars. Stars everywhere. Even in the sea.”

Jack Sparrow scratched his beard. “…I think I should have liked to see that. Stars. I’ve sailed by ‘em for long enough; hoped I’d be able to keep on doing the same.”

“Oh Jack…”

Jack was dying. Anyone with any amount of sense could see that. He had begun dying on the Pearl, all those years ago, when she had left him to the Kraken. The process had merely been hastened at that final battle, when Davy Jones had finally deduced Jack’s greatest secret, and stabbed her through the chest, right after she married Will. Will…

He had tried so hard. But in the end, there was nothing he could do. For himself, or for Jack. Things had already been bleak, but after the Fountain, after Jack had been forced to choose again…to save either Angelica, his first love, or Will Turner, the man that had married his last love…Jack’s fate was sealed.

He had chosen to save Will, and in the choosing, had doomed himself.

Elizabeth could see it in his eyes. Once full of fire, and mischief, now empty and lifeless. Jack Sparrow’s heart was broken. And his body was following suit.

As far as she was concerned, this was the least she could do for him. She had made his life Hell on earth, now she would do her best to give him paradise in the hereafter. Will had, of course, violently disagreed when Jack had first brought up the subject. But in the end, he was forced to concede to the plan. Which brought them here, now, to where they were.

Elizabeth and Will had once sailed through the Farthest Gate and over the World’s Edge in order to bring Jack back to life. Now, here they were, sailing through the Nearest Gate, in order to release Jack to his death. Funny old world, ain’t it.

There wasn’t a star in sight. There hadn’t been for some time. It was as if the sky itself had become a reflection of the sea, a path for Things from beyond to tread upon into our world. And as Captain of the Dutchman, Elizabeth had the grave misfortune to know what some of those things were. She merely thanked Heaven that they farthest they had had to sail was just past the plateau of Leng; she had no desire to see any more of the Cold Waste than necessary, and especially not Kadath.

The one thing that had not changed from this Gate’s northern counterpart was the cold. That being said, whereas the freezing temperatures at the entrance to the Locker came from the water, the cold here trickled down from above, and seemed a thousand times harsher than anything Elizabeth had ever felt before. And it only got worse the further south they sailed.

There…in the distance, a thunderous, echoing roar.

Here was the spot.

“Drop anchor! Right full rudder, and haul in the sail!”

After all these years, it still felt strange to have the crew of the Dutchman jumping to her command. Elizabeth doubted she would ever get used to it.

The ship strained for a moment against the anchor, and then settled back again, barely bobbing in the current. Elizabeth turned to face Jack. No more titles for him; he’d left behind captaincy of the Pearl to Will, and had even given up the name of Sparrow. Said it didn’t suit him anymore. Now, he was just…Jack.

“Last chance, Jack. From here, the current will pull everything in. If you go on from here…you’ll  be going on alone.”

Jack’s face twisted in the parody of a smile. “Lizzy…I’ve been going on alone for some time now. And I am nothing if not a man of habit.”

She had expected nothing different. That’s not to say it still didn’t hurt.

She watched as he hauled himself into the dory, and then as he was lowered into the swirling water. She kept watching, even when his little boat had disappeared into the gloom entirely, leaving only a memory.

A whisper fell from her lips. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way…”

But it was. And there was nothing she could do about it.

 


 

On and on he rowed. Jack had always known he would meet his death on the sea; he just never expected it to be in a blithering tiny dinghy. And, ecumenically speaking, it wasn’t the sea that would kill him. Elizabeth had been quite descriptive in her tale of what exactly lay beyond the Nearest Gate.

Elizabeth…the biggest regret of his life. And that was saying quite a lot.

He knew he had never had a snowball’s chance in a desert with her…she was so much greater than he was. But it had been nice to dream…to imagine himself proving to her that he was something more than the scoundrel she insisted he was. And just when he thought he had done it, when he had come back to face the Kraken…she had stabbed him in the back. He had looked up into her face, and there had been only one word he could think of to describe her…to describe both of them.

Pirate.

He had meant it in the highest of praise; she had thought it the worst of insults. And so, she had married Turner, and then fallen to Jones’ blade. And Jack would never have been able to live with himself if she had died. He supposed it had always been his destiny to save her, in some form or another. After all, it was how they had first met. And he also supposed it had always been her destiny to be his undoing. Their first meeting had almost ended with his own execution, and their various escapades thenceforth were no less life-threatening. And in the end, she had delivered him to his end.

He could hear it clearly now; the roar of crashing water. He chanced a glance back…even in this darkness, he could still see the spray shooting up into the black. No need to row anymore…the current had him now. There he sat, as it carried him to his final destination: the Maelstrom. In the end, he had always been meant to die here.

As he felt his boat tip ever so slightly backwards, the first real smile in some time crossed his face.

“Yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirate’s life for me…”

Thus perished Captain Jack Sparrow.

 


 

Blimey…Jack hadn’t expected the afterlife to come with this big of a headache.

Groaningly, he pushed himself up on his side, and forced his eyes open to see exactly what kind of hell he had landed in. Elizabeth had assured him that it would be a better world than the Locker, but Jack knew his luck, and he wasn’t about to put any money on that particular bet.

Hmm…judging by the white bedsheets, appeared to be some kind of medical location…that was bad news. He had never had much truck with doctors, to say the least. But doctors usually meant medicine, and medicine usually meant some form of alcohol. Hopefully rum.

As he hauled himself to his feet, he was pleased to note that they hadn’t removed his effects. His sword, pistol, and hat lay on the chair next to his bed, and he felt a good deal safer once they adorned his body once more. Now…how to proceed.

Oh, that’s right: rum.

And if he remembered correctly…

The clink of coins assured him that none of his gold had been removed either. Good. And if there was no drink to be had in this world, well, he could just manufacture his own, and make a bloody fortune off of the results.

“…And really bad eggs…Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!”

And with that, he strode from the room, looking for a way to make his exit with as little trouble as possible.

 


 

Dumbledore resisted the urge to pinch his nose. “Madame Pomfrey, would you care to explain how it is that an apparent Muggle was able to throw off the effects of a sleeping pills? Much less see enough of Hogwarts’ true nature to not run into a wall trying to climb through a gap in it?”

Madame Pomfrey’s lips were pinched in exasperation. “It’s quite simple, Headmaster: he’s not a Muggle. Which I believe is something you yourself should have checked before you decided to haul him into my infirmary. You yourself should know that those sleeping pills have no effects on wizards.”

Dumbledore sighed. “I must admit that when we did not find a wand on his person, I made an erroneous assumption. It could be he was raised without a wand, or that he’s perhaps a Squib. Regardless, we must find him and retrieve him.”

A certain roguish voice interrupted. “Retrieve him with more bloody manners than you did me, I hope. Any guy that saves a life as important as mine deserves the very best treatment. And maybe a party. With whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey.”

Dumbledore sighed. “For the last time Sirius, I am quite sure that what occurred was entirely accidental.”

A snort from Sirius. “You know Harry’s and my luck better than anyone else, Albus. Just exactly how did you figure a man dressed as a pirate managed to fall through the Veil at exactly the right time to knock me backwards from doing the same? Granted, he gave me a bloody big headache when he did it, but it was worth it to duck what came through after he did.”

Pomfrey perked up. “I haven’t heard this part. What came through next?”

“A ruddy big rowboat is what. Flew right over my head and decapitated my late and unlamented cousin. May or may not have fatally injured a few other dark wankers in its flight. And if the heroic vessel H.M.S. Executioner belongs, as I suspect, to our apparently magical pirate, then all the more reason to congratulate him on having the sense to pick out such an exceptionally capable ship.”

Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “Indeed. But the problem remains: how do we go about finding him?”

 


 

“Need rum, need rum, need rum….”

Hello, where did that door come from?

Jack shrugged. Just the latest in a long line of frankly disturbing (and disturbed) things he’d come across in this castle. In the seven floors he had thus traversed, he had encountered no less than fifteen possessed suits of armor, three ghosts, and a few owls that didn’t seem to trust him.

All the more reason to find some rum.

Slowly, he pulled the door open. Instantly his senses were assaulted by sounds and smells he knew all too well. Laughter, breaking glass, a guitar, distorted singing. And alcohol. A grin threatened to split his face.

Looked like there was one thing in this madhouse that he understood.

 

Whistling, he made his way down the torch-lit tunnel, never noticing the door swing shut behind him and disappear.


 

Abeforth Dumbledore blinked as a pirate, of all things, appeared from the secret passage into Hogwarts. Not to say it was the strangest thing he’d ever seen come out of that tunnel, but it still ranked pretty high.

The pirate swaggered up to the already relatively full bar, slammed down a pile of golden coins and said simply: “Rum. Or whatever’s the strongest you got. And don’t stop until these run out.”

Abeforth looked down at the gold. Not Galleons, but they certainly looked old enough that he could get a good deal of money for them from a Muggle collector, if nothing else. He looked back up to the man. “Coming right up, sir.”

Perhaps he had better send a messenger Patronus to his brother to let him know exactly what, or in this case, who, was wandering around his precious castle…

 


 

Jack was beginning to like whatever world it was he had found himself in. Rum may not have been the most prevalent here, but this “fire-whiskey” they had instead more than made up for it. Blowing actual fire out of your mouth was a definite improvement.

He blinked as the blurry image in front of him resolved into a pair of duplicate individuals. Three bottles in, and already he was seeing double. Better and better.

“Whichever one of you fine gentlemen happens to be the real one, I would be much obliged if you could see your way clear to provide me with some more of this marvelous beverage.”

The doppelgangers shared a glance, and then the one on the right pulled out a chair to sit down in front of Jack. Huh. That was the first time he’d ever seen a rum-induced double move of its own accord. Blimey, this must be strong whiskey.

“I think you will find, my dear sir, that we are both completely real. And I’m quite sure Abeforth would be more than happy to continue supplying you with your drink, as long as you keep paying as well as you have.”

The figure on the left nodded, and moved back behind the bar. This was more of his brother’s area of expertise, and people falling out of death portals in rowboats was something he wanted as little to do with as possible.

Albus Dumbledore continued his speech. “And as remorseful as I am to drag you from your well-earned celebrations, I felt it best to enlighten you as to the chain of events that led to you awaking where you did.”

Where he had awakened… “…Are you, perchance, a man of medical learning?”

“Of learning, yes. Of medical, I am sad to say, not as much.”

So a teacher, then. Probably of a college, and a well-respected one, judging by the man’s eccentric appearance. Only the most brilliant of men could get away with sheer madness. Jack should know, he was one. “And given the faculties to which I awakened in what I assume is the institution under your tutelage, I would assume there were certain complications to my arrival in this world which demanded a response of the surgical kind?”

Dumbledore blinked as he deciphered the pirate’s strange way of talking. “…You would be correct, sir, but not so much for you as for the man who served as your cushion upon your…entry.”

“And said cushion’s injuries would be…?”

A second man thunked himself down at the table. “Just a good crack in the head, thanks for asking. Sirius Black, at your service.”

Jack warily shook the man’s hand. “…Jack. Captain Jack.”

Sirius grinned. “I would assume that made a certain dinghy your ship then, Captain?”

“My dinghy? She survived?”

A laugh. “She did bloody more than that, mate. She saved my life.”

“…Might I inquire as to the exact manner in which said deed was accomplished?”

And with that, Sirius launched into the tale of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, with Albus Dumbledore providing clarifying points to the pirate’s questions. Once Jack was satisfied, they moved on to the tale of how he had arrived in the Wizarding World, as well as some of his own adventures.

By the end, even Albus Dumbledore was drunk on fire-whiskey.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

8) VENOM

 

Fic Title: "I'm A Stranger Here"

 

Accompanying Song: "Stranger" by Devil Makes Three

 

Florean Fortescue was not having a good day.

These days it was dangerous for a man like him to be in business. The Death Eaters had been busy, striking wherever they pleased, with no one daring to oppose them. It was only a matter of time before they became brave enough to attack the Alley itself.

But he had a family to feed. And food required money. So, while his family may have been long gone with very little chance he would ever see them again, he continued to do what he had been doing for the past twenty years: sell ice cream.

Or, at least, that’s what he had been planning on doing today. Right up until he unlocked the back of his shop and found an apparently homeless person sleeping there, his face buried in a tub of chocolate blast.

After reinserting his heart from where it had jumped out of his chest, he had appraised his unexpected guest. Muggle clothes, and yet had somehow managed to make their way through Diagon Alley and break into a magically warded shop. So, likely Muggleborn. And obviously in some degree of difficulty. To be expected; everyone knew the suicide rate for Muggleborns just out of Hogwarts was about one in five. It was just never mentioned in polite company.

His heart went out to the poor fellow; obviously went out for a night of drinking, got properly knackered, and then collapsed sobbing into a tub of ice cream. His deductions pointed to either loss of job or a breakup, both of which he himself had suffered at one point in his life. There had really been only one thing he could do and live with himself after he had done it. To turn him over to the Aurors would be to probably subject him to their infamous treatment of those of lesser stature; to let him go his way would probably be to condemn him to death. And so, after one bucket of cold water, a relatively short conversation involving very simple words and a low voice (hangovers were no fun at all), and an explanation of the circumstances, he had himself a new employee.

Eddie (definitely a Muggle name) may have looked like a complete mess, but he seemed a decent sort. Had even offered to pay for the damages with Muggle money before he realized where it was he’d woken up. And anyone that could get through wards like the ones on his shop without setting off any alarms would make him feel a good deal safer about his chances should the Death Eaters come calling.

Which was exactly what they’d done…right after he’d sent Eddie to take a break and eat some proper food.

No, Florean Fortescue was definitely not having a good day.

 


 

Eddie Brock was not having a good day.

It had all started back with that mess in Wakanda…

At first, he had been thrilled to work with the Avengers. How someone like the King T’challa, the Black Panther, had found out about his “other side”, and then given him permission to do the first ever on-site interview in Wakanda, he would probably never know. What he did know was that it had been merely a cover story to get both he and Venom to Wakanda in time to fight an oncoming horde of aliens.

Venom had been absolutely delighted with the “all-you-can-eat-buffet”, as he called it, but even they had been forced to retreat based on the sheer amount of numbers coming their way. It wasn’t until Thor himself had arrived that the battle turned in their favor. And then everything had gone to crap.

Some guy named Thanos had shown up, wielding what were apparently called “Infinity Stones”. He had proceeded to beat the snot out of each and every single person that fought him, even tossing he and Venom around like they were twigs. They had watched as Thor’s hammer came flying through the sky, and knew even as it hit that it wouldn’t be fatal fast enough. They had dragged themselves over to where Thanos lay dying, just as he had raised his gauntlet with the stones…and snapped his fingers.

Whatever that was meant to do, Eddie didn’t know or care. They had just known that they had needed to finish what Thor had started.

By going for the head.

And just in time, too. Because barely had they spit out the disgusting remnants of whatever the hell Thanos had been, when Venom began to disintegrate.

That had been a very long few months without his best friend.

In the end, after one rescue of the famous Tony Stark, and a newly-constructed gauntlet courtesy of Stark Tech, Thor had been the second one to wield the Infinity Stones, and make the second Snap.

Eddie had never been so happy to see someone in all of his life as he had been to see Venom.

It was the celebration that had really kicked everything off, though. Thor had pulled out what was basically Asgardian kerosene, and of course Venom hadn’t been about to pass up a chance to get some of that. Eddie had passed out after the first sip. Everything else after that was black, right up until that bucket of water.

After a very confusing conversation, and Eddie’s attempts at paying for whatever destruction Venom had caused, he had realized that he should probably keep his mouth shut for once and accept the man’s offer to work off the damages.

It was during said work (manly minding the counter) that Venom had filled Eddie in on what had happened after he passed out. Apparently, Eddie hadn’t been the only one affected, and Thor, Bruce Banner, someone named Valkyrie, and Venom had all decided it would be a great idea to mess around with one of the Infinity Stones and see if they could get any more of that fantastic drink.

Venom had fallen through the resulting portal, and found himself somewhere he had never been before, with strangely dressed people walking around. When he had realized that he had lost all connection to the Avengers, and thus the only people that could have possibly retrieve him from where he’d ended up, he had freaked out. In the resulting panic attack, he had tracked down whatever smelled the most like chocolate in this utterly mad world, and after gorging himself, had cried himself to sleep.

Typical.

What Eddie had been able to piece together so far was that for one, these people were magical. Two, they seemed to think he was magical as well, since he had ended up in one of their “warded areas”. Three, they were also under the impression that he was something called a “Muggleborn”.

“Muggleborn? More like…Ugly-born.”

Eddie groaned, and thunked his head on the table, careful not to land in his dish of ice cream. “Really, that’s the best you can come up with? And what’s the idea with leaving me to clean up your mess again?”

“Well it’s not like I should’ve been worried about how you would react to everything.”

“Yes! Yes! You should have been very worried! Do you have any idea what its like to wake up and find out that you’ve broken into a magical ice cream shop in the middle of London? Do you?”

“Do you know what’s its like to realize that you’re alone in an entirely unknown place with lots of people around who can hurt you in lots of nasty magical ways?”

“…Okay, fair point.”

Venom sounded so smug. “Of course it is. Now, are you gonna finish that?”

It was just then that the bell above the door jingled.

Eddie watched from the back room as a man dressed all in black, and wearing a mask, strode in.

“Hmmm…bad guy?”

Eddie watched as the man pulled out a stick from his robes and pointed it at his new boss.

“…Bad guy.”

 


 

Fortescue could only watch in shock as a trail of black goo latched onto Avery’s arm and crushed his wand.

A hulking black behemoth stepped out from somewhere and pointed a single talon directly at the Death Eater. “YOU COME IN HERE, AGAIN…IN FACT, YOU GO ANYWHERE IN THIS CITY, PREYING ON INNOCENT PEOPLE, AND WE WILL FIND YOU, AND EAT BOTH YOUR ARMS, AND THEN BOTH OF YOUR LEGS, AND THEN WE WILL EAT YOUR FACE RIGHT OFF YOUR HEAD, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? YES? SO, YOU WILL BE THIS ARMLESS, LEGLESS, FACELESS THING, WON’T YOU? ROLLING DOWN THE STREET…LIKE A TURD…IN THE WIND. DO YOU FEEL ME?”

Avery shrieked in terror. “What ARE you?!”

Half of the behemoth’s face peeled back to reveal…Eddie?

“WE…ARE VENOM.”

Avery began to shake uncontrollably.

“HMMM…ON SECOND THOUGHT…”

And Venom opened his…its…mouth…

And swallowed Avery whole.

Fortescue could only watch as the black goo seemed to recede into Eddie’s body. “Eddie? What…was that?”

Eddie gave an apathetic shrug. “Oooo, I…have a possession.”

He seemed to hear something from outside the store, and turned towards the entrance. “I’ll be right back, Mr. Fortescue. Got to take out the trash.”

As the door swung shut behind Eddie, Fortescue fancied he heard…

“POSSESSION?!?!”

“Hey man, at least it’s better than parasite…”

…Yes sir, Florean Fortescue was definitely having a good day.

 


 

Immediately, Eddie’s hands shot up as he realized exactly how many people…wizards…were currently pointing their danger murder sticks at him. Still, he had to try and keep this civil, for Mr. Fortescue’s sake…

“Listen, guys, I know you’ve probably got a real good reason to give my friend’s place a makeover, but…”

“SILENCE!”

“…I think we’d both really appreciate it if…”

“DOWN ON THE GROUND!”

“…if you could find a way to leave well enough alone. Whaddya say?”

The apparent leader switched his grip on his stick. “SHIELDS!”

The rest of the group copied the leader’s change in stance. “COPY!”

Eddie shrugged. “Alright then. SHIELD!”

“COPY.”

A collective scream from the crowd.

Venom answered with a roar of his own.

A bolt of green light shot forward and hit his right shoulder. It hurt, sure, but nothing compared to fire. If that was the best these wizards could do, then this could be easier than he thought.

Venom grinned…and jumped.

 


 

“HMMM…EYES…LIVER…PANCREAS…SO MANY SNACKS, SO LITTLE TIME…”

The last wizard hung suspended in the air, Venom’s hand around his throat.

“…NAH, NEVER WAS ONE FOR HEAVY LUNCHES.”

The puny man let out a sigh of relief.

“THAT”S NOT TO SAY WE’RE JUST GONNA LET YOU GO…”

The man began whimpering.

“NOW, NOW, EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE FINE…WE JUST WANT YOU TO TAKE YOUR BOSS A MESSAGE…”

“…A…a message?”

“YES…THAT’S IT…YOU TELL HIM, THAT IF HE COMES HERE AGAIN, IN FACT, IF HE SO MUCH AS THINKS ABOUT SENDING HIS GOONS TO MY FRIEND’S ESTABLISHMENT, THEN I WILL FIND HIM, I WILL RIP HIM OPEN FROM HIS GULLET TO HIS GARGLER, AND THEN I WILL USE HIS INTESTINES TO STRANGLE HIM TO DEATH. DO YOU FEEL ME?”

“Yes! Yes, I feel you!”

“GOOD. AND JUST TO MAKE SURE YOU WON’T GET ANY IDEAS ABOUT SHOOTING ME IN THE BACK…”

SNAP! SNAP!

“…I’M AFRAID I’LL HAVE TO DISARM YOU. NOW, ON YOUR WAY, LITTLE MAN. AND TRY NOT TO FLAP YOUR ARMS LIKE A RUBBER CHICKEN WHILE YOU RUN.”

Venom dropped the man…and watched as he collapsed on the ground. “…PATHETIC.”

A scurrying noise alerted him to the fact there was already a rat moving in on the fresh meat. "OOO! APPETIZERS!"

He swooped down, chomped off the offending rodent's head in one bite...and then promptly spat it back out again. Whatever the rats around here tasted like, it certainly wasn't normal rat. He wouldn't be eating any of those for a long time to come. Best let the rest of them clean up the mess.

Oh, well. No harm in looting what was left of the bodies.

A few of the magic sticks seemed to react to Eddie when he picked them up, so he set those inside for later investigation. If he could figure out a way to magic himself a portal back home, so much the better. The rest he snapped. Better to not have anyone come along and use them on him.

When they had finished, Eddie brushed his hands together and checked his watch. “Hey, we still got ten minutes left on our break. Anything you wanna do?”

“THE WAY I SEE IT, WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT.”

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

9) GAMORA

 

Fic Title: "We Could Be Immortals"

 

Accompanying Song: "Immortals" by Fall Out Boy

 

Orange.

Why couldn’t it at least have been a decent color?

Gamora groaned and rubbed her eyes. Nope, the sky was still that same offending shade. Just as it had been when she had first woken up in…wherever this was.

The last thing she remembered before that was…falling. Falling to her death, thrown by her…by Thanos. He had cast her aside, sacrificed her life, all in pursuit of that damned Stone. She wished she had never learned where it was; she wished Peter had pulled the trigger sooner; she wished…

She wished a lot of things.

And none of them were ever going to happen, so she should probably quit feeling sorry for herself and do something about it.

“Best idea I’ve heard all day.”

Instantly her legs kicked out to sweep the source of the voice off its feet. They were met with nothing but air, so she continued her swing around in an effort to get a look at her visitor.

Human. Male. Medium height, curled and lengthy hair. Shabby clothes, but a face that belonged on someone relatively rich. Mustache included.

And he was grinning at her in a way she didn’t particularly care for.

“Nice reflexes. You’ll do.”

She snarled at the man. “I most certainly will not!”

He held up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, easy princess. I didn’t mean it like that. And as much inclination as I might have, I’m afraid that, frankly, neither of us has the time. You’re more than a tad bit late, you know.”

She settled into a combat crouch. “Its not like I planned out the exact moment of my death, you know.”

“No, but your attempts to struggle certainly didn’t help. And now I’ve got to give you the short version of the speech, instead of the long one.”

“Why should I let you continue speaking at all, much less give a speech?”

“Because, darling, I’m the one that knows how to get out of this place. And both of us need the either to do it, or we’ll be stuck here for who knows how long.”

She drew her sword and pointed it in the direction of the man’s lower regions. “Fine. Talk, quickly, or I’ll remove something very near and dear to you.”

“Very well. Long story short, this is the Soul World. There are very few ways to get to it; the first is if you are sacrificed in pursuit of the Soul Stone. A soul for a soul. Your soul is then held in stasis here for eternity, with your body long destroyed and gone. That’s the way you got here. Another way is what happened to me: sacrificed myself to save someone near to my heart, and in the process lost my soul, leaving only my body to wander this plane.”

“So, you’re soulless?”

“Yes. Just as you are bodiless. And one cannot return to the land of the living without having both a body and a soul.”

“How do you know this?”

“What, you think we’re the only people that have ever ended up here? Walk around for long enough and eventually you’ll run into all sorts of interesting people. Rather interesting fellow with a humungous ledger and a pair of scissors, for one. Doesn’t matter; what does matter, is this. We can help each other get back.”

She recoiled in disgust. “I am most definitely not sharing a body with you, no matter how good the outcome.”

“Oooo, kinky. But no. What I’m talking about is something a bit more complicated, and also a great deal simpler. We trade each other some of our blood. From mine, you’ll get physical form, and probably the ability to do some of what I can do, and from yours, I get another chance at living, with a new judgement in the hereafter if I can atone for at least some of my shortcomings.”

“…It sounds simple. Where’s the complication?”

“The complication is that in sharing our blood in the required way, we would be effectively bound together by said blood in the familial way. Permanently.”

“…You mean marriage.”

“I can’t say for certain. For all I know, it could be as siblings, cousins, spouses…you get the idea. The goblin I got the ritual from was fond of cackling wildly and speaking in riddles. When he wasn’t mumbling about “self-inserts” or someone named “Rorschach”, that is. Let me tell you, I had a hard enough time dragging that information out of him, and if I’d stayed any longer, I would’ve started pulling out my hair. And I happen to like my hair very much.”

“I can’t imagine why. It looks like a gundark’s nest.”

She ignored his spluttering indignation and pressed on. “And what assurances do I have that we’ll end up back in my world once we’re done?”

He sighed, and ruffled his hair. “Absolutely none. From what I’ve been told, we’re not from the same reality. This place is sandwiched between each and every universe that exists, yours and mine included. The only way to leave this place if you are summoned back using the Soul Stone. And a separate Soul Stone exists in each and every version of reality. So there’s no telling whether it’ll be the one in yours that gets used first, or the one in mine. All I know for sure is that its going to be very soon, and after that, the other Stone won’t be used for a long time to come. So, in the end, there’s a fifty percent chance we end up in my world, and a fifty percent chance we end up in yours. Sorry, but those are the odds.”

She thought about it. Very long and hard, she thought about it. But in the end, there was really only one choice she could make. “…I should think it would be at least polite for future family members to introduce themselves, don’t you?”

The man made a rather exaggerated bow. “Sirius Black, otherwise known as Padfoot, Hey You, wizard, and prankster extraordinaire. And your name?”

“What, your mysterious informants didn’t mention it?”

“All they said was to look for the green woman with looks to kill and the speed to match. Am I wrong?”

“…No, you are not. My name is…Gamora.”

“Gamora? Isn’t that a kind of killer eel?”

“If it is, its not one I’m familiar with.”

He snorted understandable. “Right; different worlds. Still, some coincidence. Hokay; here’s how this is gonna work. Your sword.”

She moved it from where it had been pointed to someplace a little higher. “What about it?”

“I’m gonna need you to cut your palm open, and then mine as well. Do you by chance happen to have a scarf or something close to it on you?”

She ripped the sash from her belt. “Will this do?”

He took the offered remnants. “Perfect. Now, slice away.”

Two cuts later, and both of their palms lay bleeding.

Sirius gestured with his left hand. “You can put that thing away now. I’m gonna need you to hold the other end of this sash.”

She reached out and did so with her non-injured hand.

“Now, we clasp the two wounds together, and wrap the fabric around our wrists.”

A bit of awkward fumbling later, and everything was in place. Sirius cleared his throat. “Right; I’m gonna need you to repeat after me, only replacing your name with mine. Ni kyr'tayl gai sa'ad, Gamora.”

“Ni kyr'tayl gai sa'ad, Sirius Black.”

There was a flash of light, and the fabric disappeared.

“…What exactly was that?”

“Adoption ceremony to officially bring you into the Black family, and to bring me into yours. Blood, magic, inherited abilities…anything of that sort, we now share.”

“Magic?! What do you mean, magic?!”

There was a tremendous ripping noise.

Gamora turned to see a yawing black hole had opened right beside them.

“Whoops, would you look at that! Time to go!”

And with that he darted forward, dragging Gamora behind him.

“Black, I am going to KILL YOOOOOOUUUUU…..!”

 


 

“Does it hurt? Dying?”

“…Prongslet, you have no idea.”

Harry turned. That had been Sirius’ voice…but not the Sirius standing in front of him. This Sirius…had someone with him. A woman. And their outlines didn’t flicker like the other spirits did.

“…Sirius?”

He smiled. “I’m here, kid. For real.”

 


 

Gamora watched as the young man staggered across the clearing and wrapped himself around Black. If she were a gambling person, she would say this had been the person Black had sacrificed himself to save. She could see in the teenager’s eyes the same war-torn look she and her sister had acquired early in their lives. Seeing someone he probably thought dead alive once more had probably been more strain than he could bear, judging by the sobs she heard coming from the direction of Black’s chest.

What concerned her more were the apparitions now enclosing them on all sides.

She remembered Black referring to himself as a wizard, and giving the fact he had mentioned magic with a straight face, she was willing to bet these were proper ghosts, not make-believe ones. And everyone knows you can’t fight ghosts with a sword.

That wasn’t to say she wasn’t going to at least try should it become necessary to defend herself from them.

But the figures seemed on the whole to ignore her, and instead encircled the reunited pair. What confused Gamora more than anything was that there was one that resembled her now-permanent companion, right down to the insufferable hair.

The ghost-Black hissed. “You should not be here.”

The real Black looked up from where he was comforting what Gamora supposed was his son. “I’m afraid Destiny doesn’t agree with you there, mate. And don’t think I don’t know what you really are; I know all about the Endless. Plenty of time in the Soul World to uncover all sorts of nasty secrets. For instance, that you lot are nothing more than twisted reflections, meant to drive the wielder of a certain Stone to suicide. Bad form, I must say.”

A red-headed lady stepped closer. “And what if we are? Is it wrong to want my son back in my arms?”

“Considering all that you did to ensure the exact opposite of that, I’m gonna have to say yes.”

Black knelt down to face his cling-on. “Harry, its okay. Its gonna be okay. I just need you to let go of that Stone for me. Can you do that?”

Harry sobbed once more. “…H…How?”

Black chuckled. “You called. I came. And on time, for once. Now, Harry. The Stone. Drop it.”

Gamora watched as a small, dark grey object fell to the ground between the two. The instant it left Harry’s hand, the ghostly figures disappeared. Just in time, too; the man that had slightly resembled Harry had begun looking positively murderous.

As Harry and Black continued comforting each other, Gamora took the time to take stock of her surroundings…and her new appearance.

She had rather been expecting to look exactly the same once they were through the portal; apparently, she had been mistaken. Black hadn’t been kidding when he said they would inherit traits from each other. Her green skin was now pale white, something she was extremely grateful for. It would lessen the amount she usually stood out in crowds. Her hair had stayed black, but it now came off of her head in waves and curls, giving some bounce to it. And her cheeks had become slightly more angular, as well as fuller. Anyone looking for Gamora, Daughter of Thanos was going to have a hard…time…finding…her…

She was trapped in an alternate world. She looked nothing like what she supposed to. Even if her friends managed to track her here, they would never be able to find her. Much less recognize her if they did.

If she had been capable of hyperventilating, she would have.

Okay; maybe things weren’t as bad as she had first thought. Magic existed in this world; that usually meant magical transportation. Maybe even to other worlds. And if the Soul Stone existed here, that meant the other Infinity Stones did too. If she could get ahold of the Space, Reality, or Time Stones, she could fix everything. Yes; that would be perfect.

In the meantime, she would enjoy the sensation of knowing there was absolutely no one looking for her, for good or bad reasons.

Harry and Black seemed to be nearing the end of their mutual consolations. Good; she had things to do, resources to leverage.

Black knelt down and picked up the Stone, and placed it in Harry’s pocket. “Trust me, Harry. That Stone has power, but its been twisted to the purposes of something far more powerful than you or I. What we are going to do, is stick it to said something, using its own twisted traps.”

“…You mean Voldemort?”

“No Harry. I mean Death.”

Death? Black never said anything about screwing with Death!

“…You mean the Tale of the Three Brothers was true?”

“In a way. And what we are going to do with that Stone is something Death has been trying to prevent for the past century, and something Destiny has been trying to bring about for the past few millennia.”

“…A Master of Death.”

“Exactly. Did you ever wonder why Death would let something like old Moldy Shorts’ Horcruxes stand?”

“How do you know about…”

“I just do. And the answer is because Death thought She could manipulate events using the prophecy to kill off the only two individuals capable of Mastering Her.”

“Death is a Her?”

“Really? I tell you that the only reason both of your parents died, and Voldemort survived, is because Death was being prissy, and that’s all you can say? Death is a Her; I mean, Sirius-ly.”

A grin slowly stretched across Harry’s face. “Its good to have you back, Sirius.”

“Good to be back, pup. Now, please tell me you have your Cloak on you.”

Harry pulled what looked like a silver sheen out of his back pocket.

“Fantastic. Fasten it around your neck, but leave the hood down. We need Moldy Shorts to see its really you.”

“And why’s that?”

“So that you can rile him up into dueling you, of course.”

“Duel? But Dumbledore said…”

“I know what that old wanker said. And he’s been on Death’s side throughout this entire mess; how else do you explain all the coincidences related to him? No, if I know anything, its that what the old fool told you and Snivellus was a complete lie. You don’t have to die. Technically, there’s more of Vulture-wart’s soul in you than there is in him. Because of that, you are more than capable of killing him permanently.”

“Sirius, I’m not gonna cast that…”

“I know, pup. And I wouldn’t ask you to. He’ll do it for you; and since you’re already the true master of the Elder Wand, it’ll bounce back when it hits your Expelliarmus, and, well, that’ll be that.”

“Wait, what do you mean I’m already the…”

“Long story, and I don’t have time to explain. My lovely companion is getting a bit antsy, and we’ve got a Dark Lord to kill.”

Harry seemed to notice Gamora for the first time, and took a step back. “Sirius? Who’s she?”

“Hmmm. Frankly, I’m not sure. We’ll have to find out from Gringotts later.”

“Ummm, about Gringotts…”

A sigh from Black. “I know Harry. All you have to do is tell the goblins that they had a Horcrux in one of their Vaults, as well as Hufflepuff’s Cup, and either never figured it out, or never reported it. Do that, and they’ll rush to make reparations. But, again, that’s later. Destiny awaits.”

He chuckled. “Always wanted to say that.”

And he began to stroll deeper into the forest, pulling Harry with him.

Gamora jolted forward. “Wait! What am I supposed to do?”

Sirius never slowed. “You’re an assassin, right?”

“Yes!”

“The fellow we’re going to kill has a lot of hangers-on that like to think they’re hot stuff. Since you look like my cousin Bellatrix now, you should be able to slip between them with ease, and then slip something sharp into them with ease, if you get my drift.”

“No! No I don’t!”

“Ah, don’t worry about it. You’ll catch on. Just follow my lead.”

Follow Sirius Black’s lead.

For some reason, that sounded like the worst idea Gamora had ever heard.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

10) SUSAN PEVENSIE

 

Fic Title: "You Should See Me In A Crown"

 

Accompanying Song: "You Should See Me In A Crown" by Billie Ellish

 

Once upon a time, there was a family.

That is how these sorts of stories usually start, isn’t it? It’s a classic opening, one used since time immemorial to immediately direct one’s attention to the main focus of the tale: in this case, the family. But in all the hundreds of stories we’ve heard that began with “once upon a time”, have we ever really stopped to consider exactly what Time the storyteller is referring to?

I would venture to say no. No we haven’t.

And I suppose that, in a way, that is what this story is truly about: Time. A Time after the end of this particular family’s various adventures, just beyond the little postscript that reads “and they lived happily ever after”.

And they did. Live happily ever after, I mean.

All except one member.

Her name is Susan Pevensie. This is not her story.

But it is, however, her Time.

 


 

Susan Pevensie both loved and hated this house.

Loved, because it had been the beginning of some of the best parts of her life, as well as the one place she had truly felt like calling “home”. Never mind neither she nor her family had actually lived there; that had been Professor Diggory, and, occasionally, Aunt Polly. It had always been the one place she could count on to be accepted, to let her many masks slip and just…be. Not a Queen, not a schoolgirl, and certainly not a spy, although she technically hadn’t been the last for very long. Well, in this world at least.

And hated, because it was the secrets that this house held that had taken her family from her. Secrets of worlds beyond worlds, of other places, other times. Secrets of other wars, both fiery and cold. Secrets of clandestine meetings and midnight conferences.

And the most important secret of all; that of a certain, ancient wardrobe that had once stood in an abandoned attic.

The one that Susan was currently standing in front of.

Even now she wanted nothing more than to take an axe to the thing and reduce it to nothing but splinters. But she couldn’t. Not after all she’d done to get here.

It had begun, as it usually did, with the War. Father had been called to America on the pretext of “study lectures”. As if anyone with even half a working brain couldn’t see that was clearly a cover story for “espionage and covert activities”. Susan had immediately done all she could to become indispensable to Father and his…partners. It had been ridiculously easy; compared to her years of experience with intrigue as Queen Susan, the boys the Brits had overseas were like children. Although, she supposed she shouldn’t be so hard on them. She herself had been woefully inadequate until the incident with Prince Rabadash. After that, Susan had driven herself to become Narnia’s shield against further knives in the back. But she had wished that her Father and his associates would’ve taken things a bit more seriously.

In the end, she had gotten what she wanted. She had gotten deep into the inner workings of the British foreign intelligence services, and by the time she returned to England, she had a standing offer to come and work for them in the future. The only reason she hadn’t immediately accepted was because of her family. To continue working for the people she had been would have required drastically cutting communication with any and all ties she might have, Peter, Edmund, and Lucy included. It would be a lonely life; she knew that much. And so she had come home, hoping to see if Edmund (her fellow spymaster after Rabadash) could be convinced to come with her. But she had arrived home to tales of the Dawn Treader, World’s End, Aslan’s Country, Harfang, and lost princes.

She had been replaced.

She should have expected it; Aslan had told her and Peter that they wouldn’t be coming back. She just hadn’t expected that to apply to her more than it had to her older brother. Here, he was still High King, and she was still Susan the Gentle. The one no one ever saw unless they were looking. And everyone now seemed to be looking at Eustace and Jill, Edmund included. And Eustace and Jill were looking at Peter. She was practically invisible.

So she had joined. Her life became one of parties, flirting, seduction, and above all, of pretending. Pretending to her targets to be a flighty thing easily approached, to her siblings to be a snooty and stuck-up teenager, and to herself to be an uncaring block of stone as she watched herself fade into the background even more around her family.

Even her parents had taken to spending more time with Eustace and Jill than they did with her. Father hadn’t stuck with the service after the War, and Susan wasn’t about to let her mother know what she had truly been doing since then. Eventually, any and all mention of her dried up completely. And there was nothing Susan could do about it.

She had been on assignment when it had happened. Her parents had come up for one of their gratuitous (and infrequent) weekend visits, and she had been extremely glad to see them board the train to leave. It was only a few hours later, in the middle of a vitally important society gathering, that she had received the news.

The train had crashed a hundred feet from her parents’ station.

And somehow, every single important person in her life had been killed by it.

She had managed to hold it together for King and country for, oh, about fifteen seconds. She had fled the party, and collapsed sobbing in the official car she had arrived in. Thank goodness for darkened windows; she shuddered to think what damage it would have done to her image had anyone realized it was her soul being ripped out in that drab, dingy back-seat.

It was only weeks later that she was finally able to pull herself together enough to go through her family’s effects, as well as the Professor’s and Aunt Polly’s. And what she had found in their recent correspondence had filled her with unholy amounts of rage.

Rings. Bloody. Magic. Rings. Those, of all things, were what had gotten her entire world killed. Aslan hadn’t been happy with merely killing off those who had planned the escapade or done the actual digging up, He had gone and wiped out every single person even remotely involved with the events. And she knew it had been Aslan. Why else would they have been unable to recover any of her family’s bodies?

Their clothes, of course. Their luggage, absolutely. Anything and everything else? No problem, right away ma’am. But their bodies? Disappeared; vanished. Along with those blasted Rings. Aslan had taken her family from her, as well as the evidence of their (to His eyes) offense, and left her to suffer. Alone. Forever.

She wouldn’t stand for it.

She had worked her way up the ranks, unafraid now of letting the real Queen Susan out for all the world to see. Gentle, yes. Gracious as well. But merciful? Never. Not after what she had been through. She made youngest Section Chief ever, gender notwithstanding. She now had more pull in the clandestine community than practically all others, minus the MI6 Director and the Prime Minister. Well, and old Winnie. But Churchill was Churchill; he would always have more power than anyone else. And it had all been worth it for the chance to get this accursed house all to herself for the required amount of time.

Manor houses weren’t cheap, and this one had been no exception. It had taken practically every favor and shilling she possessed to get the owners to part with it, but in the end, it had all been worth it. All the years, all those promotions, all those she had used and discarded had been leading to this exact moment.

If Aslan wouldn’t let her through…then she would push Him aside and make her own way into Narnia. And if He killed her for it? Well, then at least she would be reunited with her family.

She had done all she could to ensure the wardrobe would take her where she wanted; portals to other worlds never completely sealed up, after all. She had procured artifacts meant to leverage said portals open from every conceivable source on Earth and beyond: from Egypt, Israel, Greece, Italy, Atlantis, Singapore, Arkham, Innsmouth, Dunwich, R’lyeh, and even Leng itself. And as a final focus for her attempts, the wardrobe itself. All that mattered now was ensuring none of the forces she was about to invoke would kill her before she could get through the door.

She sat in the carefully inscribed circle, took a deep breath, and began to chant.

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn…”

 


 

In her tower at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Sybil Trelawney began to scream.

 


 

“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate…”

 


 

Sybil Trelawney began to plead. “Please…please no…”

 


 

“…Gorgo, Mormo, thousand-faced moon, look favorably on our sacrifices!"

 


 

Trelawney’s eyes rolled back in her sockets.

 


 

“…ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!”

 


 

Trelawney Spoke.

“A Queen of Ice shall rise once more; one who wields the Lion’s roar. Her old world now is torn apart; and none can heal her frozen heart. In fire and flame alone she falls; then builds again remembered halls.”

And then she collapsed.

 

 

The wardrobe door burst open.

Light streamed into the room. In the distance, a Lion roared.

Slowly, the door swung shut on the form of Susan Pevensie.

Thirty seconds later, the forces that she had summoned ripped reality itself to shreds, the Earth included, as the only one that had been holding them back vanished from existence.

 


 

Black.

It wasn’t supposed to be back.

She had failed.

“You did not fail, child.”

…She knew that voice. She hated that voice. She could have gone the rest of her life without hearing it. She almost snorted. In a way, she guessed she had.

“I have said it once, child. You are not dead. If you were, we would now both be in My Country.”

“And would that be such a terrible thing to have happen?”

“In more ways than you know.”

This time she did snort. “How could anything be more terrible than what You’ve done already? You left me. Alone. I would say that’s plenty terrible enough.”

“Child, you were never alone. I was with you the entire time.”

Her voice cracked like a whip. “And You did such a tremendous job of showing it, didn’t You? We learned Your other Names, You know. All of us. Even the one You had in our world. And at their funerals, when all the priest could do was drone on and on about how everything You did was for a purpose, I prayed. I prayed for months for something. Anything. All You had to do was give me just one of their bodies back. Just one, and I would have stopped. But You didn’t. So neither did I.”

Aslan was silent for some time. Susan had just dared to hope He had gone, leaving her alone once more, when He began to speak again.

“The reason I could not send you the remains of your family, child, was that they still had use of them.”

Susan’s breath caught in her throat. “You…you mean they…Narnia…”

“Yes child. I had need of them in Narnia. All of them; your parents, as well as your brothers and sister.”

Her voice was cracking now. “But...not…me?”

“No Susan Pevensie. You were not meant to be a part of the ending of Narnia.”

Narnia…gone?

“Never. All worlds will always have a place in My Country. But the Narnia you remember…that is gone, yes. Its time had come, like Charn before it.”

Susan’s tone froze once more. “Charn. Yes. A world with no good thing left in it. I thought that was Your basis for judgement. Sodom? Gomorrah? Something along the lines of “if there be one righteous man found” then salvation instead of damnation? I refuse to believe that Narnia could have fallen that far. Especially if my family was there.”

“And yet fallen it had, child. And your family perished along with it. But that is their Story. I shall tell to you now yours. Tell me, what did you think would happen should you succeed in your attempts to leave your world?”

“Either I’d be in Narnia…or I’d be dead. Either way, it would be better than what I had.”

“Better for you, perhaps. But not better for your world. The forces that you dealt with to travel beyond are not kind ones. Their rage when they realized you had left, leaving no recompense for their help, was enormous. And equal in degree was their punishment. Your world is gone now, child. Gone, because you, like Jadis before, spoke the equivalent of the Deplorable Word. And I allowed the Old Ones to hear it.”

Horror. Disgust. And finally, anger.

“So its true, then.” She hissed. “You truly do have no mercy. You left me alone, You dumped my family in the only land they truly loved solely for the purpose of ending it, and then You allowed my own reality to be ripped apart to teach me a lesson.”

“Of course. Am I not the Great Teacher?”

“All you have taught me is pain. How to endure it, and how to give it. So if there is any compassion left in You at all, know that this was your final lesson to me. I shall find you again, Aslan. And when I do, You shall know such pain as you cannot possibly imagine.”

“Pain is an old friend, child. But for you, I fear it shall never be anything more than a shadow. To that end, I banish you to world well suited to you. One ruled by frozen hearts and minds, where might has made right, and where all victories are hollow ones. You shall climb as high as you wish, but it is only when you have reached the top that you shall understand the true beauty of falling. To ensure your success, I shall bless you with a small amount of Magic. Use it well. Now go. And know that you will always have a place in My Country.”

Aslan blew on her. And the darkness slipped away.

 


 

Susan Pevensie stepped out of the Vanishing Cabinet…and promptly fell flat on her face.

“Ow.”

Why was it that she could never come through those things without an awkward landing?

True, it was nothing compared to some of the injuries she had received, but it was the spirit of the thing. For a long while she lay there, thinking. Pining. Despairing. Her world was gone. Both of them. Her family was dead, as were the Professor, Aunt Polly, Jill, and Eustace. Anyone and everyone she had every loved was now gone forever.

She didn’t believe for one minute that Aslan would ever let her into His Country. He may never have lied, but He had certainly withheld at least some of the truth. So even if by some miracle she was let in, she very much doubted she would see anyone she recognized there. Except maybe those whose deaths she had been responsible for. Yes, that sounded more His style.

Bugger that. If she were going to get to Aslan’s Country, she would have to do so on her power alone.

Speaking of which…

She slowly stood and surveyed her surroundings. Lots of discarded clothes, ranging from torn and ragged to easily surpassing Narnian fashions for beauty. Good for disguises. Books, in some places piled as high as the ceiling itself. Excellent; she would need all the intelligence she could get. And scattered here and there throughout the room were…wands.

Oh yes, she knew what they were. She had seen Edmund stabbed with one, after…

She cut that train of thought before it could lead anywhere. Best to focus on the task at hand. Namely, seeing if any of these wands were still in working condition.

It took a few tries, but in the end, she was able to dig up one that felt like it held a good amount of power within. Silver handle, she noted. As if the point hadn’t been driven home enough. She laid it aside next to some of the more interesting volumes she had uncovered in her search, and then focused on the many robes and gown layering the environment. Now, how best to blend in…

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

11) SUSAN PEVENSIE, PART TWO

 

Fic Title: "You Should See Me In A Crown"

 

Accompanying Song: "You Should See Me In A Crown" by Billie Ellish

 

Susan Pevensie stepped out of the Vanishing Cabinet…and promptly fell flat on her face.

“Ow.”

Why was it that she could never come through those things without an awkward landing?

True, it was nothing compared to some of the injuries she had received, but it was the spirit of the thing. For a long while she lay there, thinking. Pining. Despairing. Her world was gone. Both of them. Her family was dead, as were the Professor, Aunt Polly, Jill, and Eustace. Anyone and everyone she had every loved was now gone forever.

She didn’t believe for one minute that Aslan would ever let her into His Country. He may never have lied, but He had certainly withheld at least some of the truth. So even if by some miracle she was let in, she very much doubted she would see anyone she recognized there. Except maybe those whose deaths she had been responsible for. Yes, that sounded more His style.

Bugger that. If she were going to get to Aslan’s Country, she would have to do so on her power alone.

Speaking of which…

She slowly stood and surveyed her surroundings. Lots of discarded clothes, ranging from torn and ragged to easily surpassing Narnian fashions for beauty. Good for disguises. Books, in some places piled as high as the ceiling itself. Excellent; she would need all the intelligence she could get. And scattered here and there throughout the room were…wands.

Oh yes, she knew what they were. She had seen Edmund stabbed with one, after…

She cut that train of thought before it could lead anywhere. Best to focus on the task at hand. Namely, seeing if any of these wands were still in working condition.

It took a few tries, but in the end, she was able to dig up one that felt like it held a good amount of power within. Silver handle, she noted. As if the point hadn’t been driven home enough. She laid it aside next to some of the more interesting volumes she had uncovered in her search, and then focused on the many robes and gown layering the environment. Now, how best to blend in…

 


 

Harry Potter, Defense Against The Dark Arts Teacher and Deputy Headmaster was headed for the Room of Requirement. It was his favorite part of the castle; the only place where he could let loose a fraction of his total power without accidentally destroying something valuable. Being the Master of Death had more downsides than upsides, as far as he was concerned.

That being said, there were times it came in right handy. For instance, did you know that the dead are not bound by anything like the Fidelius Charm? It had been all too easy for Harry to pick Bellatrix Lestrange’s mind completely clean after her death in the DOM, allowing him to gather all he needed to know on how to kill Voldemort.

But in the end, the cost had been too high. The death toll had been catastrophic; on their side, there had been Hagrid, McGonagall, Flitwick, Dobby, Snape (Harry didn’t mind that one so much), Dobby, Molly and Arthur Weasley, and the most devastating of all, Dumbledore, and Ron. Poor Ron…Hermione had been inconsolable. She had then gone out and cut a swath of destruction through any Death Eaters she could find, barely leaving any body parts behind. That was fine with Harry; more souls to interrogate. But they had been forced to slow down when they realized exactly what the body count was on the other side, and what the result of their continued killing would be.

The Carrow family, wiped out. The Lestranges, gone. The Malfoys, all except for Draco, killed. The Averys, the Notts, the Parkinsons…and so many more. And in the end the entire Wizarding World had realized that if things kept going the way they were, they would eventually wipe themselves out.

To say nothing of the Muggles. Some (read: most) of the exchanges between Harry’s forces and the Death Eaters after Voldemort’s final death had been no-hold-barred, no quarter given. Fights like that tended to result in catastrophic events that even the Ministry couldn’t cover up. Either one. And so the Wizarding World was dragged more firmly under the thumb of the Crown, right down to the economy. Harry was just waiting for the day the Muggle government thought it would be a good idea to regulate the Goblins for the world to fall apart. And the few remaining magicals would stand absolutely no chance if it came to open war.

All the stress of helping to run Hogwarts, as well as being Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, was, to put it bluntly, not healthy. So every now and then he ended up here for an evening, just to…cut loose, as it were.

At least, that had been his plan. Right up until the door to the Room swung open from within, releasing the most beautiful woman Harry had ever seen.

“Oh!” she said. “I’m sorry! I didn’t think anyone else knew about this spot!”

Understandable. Harry and his forces had done their best to ensure the existence of the Room never made its way into the hands of their enemies, which meant repeated Obliviations of the secret. The fac that they had apparently missed someone was a bit…concerning.

He managed a small smile. “Its…quite alright, Miss…”

“Pevensie! And no need for you to tell me who you are: Harry Potter, youngest Quidditch Seeker in a century!”

That…hadn’t been the reaction Harry had been expecting. “You heard about that, huh?”

“Of course! I was extremely put out when I heard you quit fourth year, but it was understandable, I suppose. And here you are teaching! I do so hope you enjoy it as much as you did Quidditch.”

He thought back to having Ginny and Neville’s daughter in his class for the first time. “It…has its moments, yes.”

“Oh, good! Could you offer me any pointers? I was hoping to get a job of some sort here at Hogwarts. Honestly, I’d be happy with just about anything, especially if you’re going to be here.”

She latched onto his arm, and immediately he tensed up. It…wasn’t a bad feeling, but the only two people that had ever produced it were Hermione and, once upon a time, Ginny. She noticed his discomfort and eased off a little. Harry was tempted to breath a sigh of relief, as if she had gotten any closer, she would have noticed certain…reactions. Best to pretend it had never happened. “Well…Headmistress Granger is usually the one that appoints new teachers…”

Miss Pevensie’s face fell.

“…But as it so happens, I believe the Care Of Magical Creatures class is currently bereft of permanent instruction.”

She immediately perked back up again. “Oh, really? That would be lovely! I do so love hippogriffs!”

Harry chuckled. “You and I both. Well, I guess I ought to introduce you to your potential future boss. This way.”

And he began to head towards the Headmaster’s Tower.

Susan followed behind, positively preening. That had gone splendidly; thank heaven those books in the Room were so up to date, to say nothing of the supposedly secret reports Susan had skimmed through. To think that the man in front of her had led a rebellion as a teenager, and won, well…she would say she was impressed, but she herself had done the same. Albeit with a good deal more help. She had deliberately chosen her attire to attract either him or some members of equal standing that had served with him; Neville Longbottom had been one, as well as Draco Malfoy. So what if they were married? It wasn’t the first time she’d disrupted a well-ordered home for the Greater Good.

But she had gotten ridiculously lucky and practically fallen into the arms of the Man-Who-Conquered himself. And she was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Now, all she needed to do was work her way up the social ladder, hopefully without too much bloodshed. She would need as many allies as she could get in the days to come, and that usually meant they had to be alive.

Potter walked up to a gargoyle and seemed to give a password: “Fear in a handful of dust”.

The gargoyle swung to the side, and a door opened, revealing a flight of stairs. She once more followed Potter up the winding flights until they stopped at yet another door. It swung open, and Potter stepped inside. As Susan came in behind him, Potter moved away to the side and announced her.

“Hermione, may I present the lovely Miss Pevensie, here to apply for the position of Professor of Care Of Magical Creatures.”

Hermione Granger stood. Then she stared.

And then she fainted.

Potter sighed. “Just once, I’d like a year to start off perfectly normally.”

 


 

A bit earlier…

“I don’t care, Draco. You know what happens if we let another generation grow up with those values.”

Draco Malfoy, Head of Slytherin House, sighed. “I know, Granger. But there’s only so much I can do. Being branded a traitor doesn’t exactly help one’s image you know.”

“Then you should have thought about that before you threw in your lot with us.” She replied dryly.

Draco snorted. “You got me. Still, it was the right thing to do. And so, I suppose, is this. Very well. I’ll keep the rivalry to a minimum, but the Board isn’t going to like it.”

“The Board doesn’t have a say.”

“They have more than you know.”

Draco stood and walked over to the Floo. “…I’ve got a meeting with the Minister after this. I’ll tell Neville you said hello, shall I?”

Hermione leaned back in her chair. “…Yes. Do that.”

He paused. “…For what it’s worth, Granger, I don’t regret it. Selling out, I mean.”

“…Thank you, Draco. Give Astoria my regards.”

He nodded, and Floo’d away.

Hermione Granger, Brightest Witch of Our Age, Youngest Headmistress of Hogwarts, and Supreme Mugwump of the ICW let her head hit her desk with a thunk. Even with Harry helping her, it was still too much to deal with. She didn’t know how Dumbledore had ever managed. Privately, she suspected a Time Turner.

With a groan, she turned her attention back to the mountain of paperwork in front of her. Sometime she wished things could go back to the way things had been, crazy adventures and unexpected happenings galore. At least then there hadn’t been so much documentation.

The wards registered as Harry approached her office. Odd; he was usually in the Room of Requirement around this time. Perhaps her wish for shenanigans had been granted. After all, it was Harry. Things just seemed to happen around him.

The door to her office swung open, admitting Harry and…what looked like a beautiful woman behind him. Harry gave a little bow. “Hermione, may I present the lovely…

She recognized the woman.

“…Miss Pevensie, here to apply the position of Professor of Care Of Magical Creatures.”

Susan Pevensie. Queen of Narnia, Empress of the Lone Islands, and Defeater of the White Witch was here. Obviously after the events of Prince Caspian; she looked even older than her actress had been in the movie. And, somehow, colder. Probably caused by being forced to leave Caspian behind, followed by hearing about his eventual fate. But where were her siblings?

With a start, Hermione realized that they weren’t there. There wasn’t a trace of anyone else new in the wards; Queen Susan was it. And if she was the only one…

That meant they were after the events of the Last Battle.

Susan Pevensie was alone. And Aslan had sent her to Hogwarts.

To teach.

Hermione fainted.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

12) CATER KANE, SADIE KANE, AND AMOS KANE

 

Fic Title: "We Are The Warriors"

 

Accompanying Song: "Warriors" by Imagine Dragons

 

The man once known as Tom Riddle, now the monster known as Voldemort, strode into the room. “Is the ritual prepared, Severus?”

Severus Snape rose from his position on the floor. “Almost, my lord. The blood-runes will be dried soon, and then we may begin.”

Voldemort hissed in delight. “Excellent.”

Snape sat down once more on the blood-stained floor, and then turned back his work of drawing the binding runes. It had really been too easy; the Granger brat had gotten permission from Black to go through some of the darker volumes in his library. In one of them, she claimed she had found a ritual that could be used to summon and bind three spirits to preform one specific task of your choosing.

Severus had examined the ritual, and determined that Granger had found one of the few remnants of the shadowy Egyptian House of Life, long since been wiped out. Good riddance, Severus thought. Humanity had no need of deities beyond themselves. At least, he had never found them to do a better job than he himself did.

If the ritual’s purpose had been to summon actual deities, then Severus would never have dared repeat any part of it to the Dark Lord. As it was, Severus believed it would merely call forth from the Duat the last witch or wizard who acted as a “host” for the specified spirit. And since he knew exactly which three deities the old fool Dumbledore had chosen for his own ritual, all he had to do was substitute the appropriate runes to call upon a different set of ex-magicians. Ones much more powerful, and dark. Capable of carrying out his true master’s will with little difficulty.

He placed the last touches on the Eye that took up one corner of the triangle, and stood. “It is done, my lord.”

“Well done, Severus. Now, leave us.”

“…My lord?”

“I trust you implicitly, Severus. You are one of the very few. And while I dare not use someone I do not fully trust for this…procedure, if something untoward should…happen, you are one of the few I believe capable of handling any unforeseen…circumstances. Do you understand, Severus?”

Severus bowed his head. “I do, my lord. I take my leave.”

As he strode from the room, the only two other members of the Inner Council in whom Voldemort had any amount of faith took his place. Bellatrix Lestrange was first, taking her position over the Tuyet knot. Lucius Malfoy was next, standing and shivering over the Eye that Severus had just finished. And finally, Voldemort himself in the only remaining corner of the triangle, atop the Staff.

As one, they raised their hands in the air to form a pyramid, with the triangle as the base. Then, still in unison, they began to chant.

“By the power of Ra!”

“…Mut.”

“…Nut.”

“…Khnum. Ptah!”

“…Nephthys!...Nekhbet!”

“Sobek!...Sekhmet!”

“Sokar!…Selket!”

“Reshpu!...Wadjet!”

“Anubis…Anukis…”

“Seshmu…Meshkent…”

“Hemsut!...Tefnut!”

“Heket!...Mafdet!”

“RA!”

A crack in nowhere appeared in the center of the pyramid. The chanting began to speed up.

“Mut, Nut, Ptah! Hemsut, Tefnut, Sokar, Selket, Seshmu, Reshpu, Sobek, Wadjet, Heket, Mafdet, Nephthys, Nekhbet, RA!”

The crack shattered.

Every candle in the room was blown out.

A low moaning seemed to rise from the ground itself, then fade to nothing.

And from the shadows, an ancient, powerful voice spoke. “So you think you’ve got friends in high places…”

A slightly younger voice, but no less powerful, finished the sentence. “…With the power to put us on the run.”

The first voice gave a nasty laugh. “Well, forgive us these smiles on our faces.”

“You’ll know what power is when we are done…”

Two figures stepped forward into the light. “…Son.”

Crocodilian smiles lit the faces of the two men.

“You’re playing with the big boys now.”

Then the screaming began.

 


 

Severus could only watch in horror as the three (not two, a woman had joined the men) figures literally ripped his master and fellow servants to shreds. For he realized now exactly what the three mistakes he had made were. One; he assumed that the House of Life was gone for good. Two; he had assumed that the descendants of said House would be incapable of hosting actual deities. And three; he had forgotten that the only true way to control beings as powerful as these was to know their Secret Names.

And Severus most definitely did not know them.

So he continued to watch from his hidden window, praying to whoever (or whatever) was listening that the three beings wouldn’t find him.

The younger of the men wiped a trail of blood from his face and laughed. “That was awesome!”

The eldest one merely smiled. A disturbing sight considering exactly what he was covered in. “Quite. We really must use this setup again; I do so enjoy theatrics.”

The woman groaned. “Honestly! You two are hopeless; I never should have let you watch The Prince of Egypt.

The younger man pouted. “But Sadie, you know it’s the only film that got three major religions to agree on the chain of events! How could we not investigate such a historical moment?”

A snort from the woman (Sadie, Severus assumed). “Keep talking like that, Carter, and you’re gonna end up sounding exactly like Thoth.”

Carter clutched his heart. “Ouch, man. I mean, ‘You wound me, fair lady!’”

It was then that the two, as well as Severus, realized that the third figure had frozen in place.

Carter immediately readied his sword once more. “…Uncle Amos? What’s wrong?”

The eyes of the man they called Amos flickered. “Amos has stepped out for the moment, my dear. There’s one more loose end we need to tie up.”

What felt like a giant, invisible hand crushed Severus in its grasp. He tried to stifle his cry of pain, but all three seemed to have heard it, nonetheless. And with a terrible wrenching, Severus was dragged through the stone wall and deposited at the feet of the beings. Immediately opting for self-preservation, he bowed his head and dropped to the floor (well, as quickly as he could without breaking any more of his bones).

A swift kick to his ribs disabused him of any hope for mercy. “So, you are the worm responsible for this entire mess. Good. Its been quite a while since I had a good torture session, and I must admit today’s events have left me feeling a bit bloodthirsty.”

The woman stepped forward. “Peace, Set. You know as well as I how much more pleasurable it is to conduct torture of the…mental…variety. Imagine how much pain this pathetic creature would feel if he were to know the truth of his defeat.”

Amos, or Set, as he apparently was now, rubbed his chin. “…You raise a good point, sister. Very well, Isis. Have your way with him. But I’ll still want some quality time of my own when you’re done.”

Isis nodded. “Of course. Horus; with me.”

Carter, or as Severus know knew him to be, Horus, sheathed his sword. “As you wish, sister.”

The two stood directly in front of Severus. Determined to make his feelings clear about the pair of them, he spat a gob of blood at their feet. “Go ahead, little godlings. Rip through my mind, show to me truths that will shatter my brain. The pain cannot be worse than the ones I’ve lived with for twenty years.”

Isis knelt. “You are correct, in a manner of speaking. There is one way in which humans truly are superior to us, and that is the ability to cause themselves pain. However, the worst of the pain that your self-delusionment has caused you, Severus Snape, has been, until now, hidden from you. I shall show it to you now.”

Isis reached out…and touched his mind.

In one moment, Severus was forced to live through every single moment of the life of the person he hated most in this world: Harry Potter. And with every single blow from Vernon Dursley, or shuddering cough from a set of too small lungs, or whispered word of hatred, one thing kept repeating in his mind: Lily’s son, Lily’s son, Lily’s son…

It broke him.

When it last it was over, all Severus could do was lay sobbing on the bloody floor, his own injuries forgotten as he realized exactly what he had been complicit in since the events of October 31st, 1981.

When at last his sobs died out, he reached forward in the most supplicating pose he could make. “My lords, my lady…I cannot…for what I’ve done…there can be no forgiveness. Do as you see fit…I ask only that you punish the one man nearly as responsible as I for…everything.”

“And what man is that, oh Severus Snape?”

“Albus Dumbledore, my lady.”

Severus flinched as a hand cupped his cheek. “That, my dear, was the correct answer. However, I believe you will find it is completely unnecessary. Or have you forgotten that the object of your ire also saw fit to preform the ritual we provided?”

“You provided? But Granger…”

“Is more than she seems, Severus Snape. In much the way that Lily Evans was before her. One found a way for her son to cheat death; and one found a way for her friend to unlock Magic itself. She discovered a method to tie herself deliberately to a specific deity’s power in exchange for her body becoming its vessel. And who else would Miss Granger choose but the wisest in the ways of magic: Thoth. It was Thoth that provided you and Dumbledore with that volume, Severus Snape. For he could see exactly what kind of men you were, as well as what this world would come to if left to its own Fate.”

Severus’ mind was racing. “Then…Dumbledore…”

This time it was Horus that spoke. “Has gone ahead with his own summoning. Did you know he was once best friends with Grindelwald? Believe me, we were just as shocked as you when we found out. But it all worked out in the end; Grindelwald to summon Anubis, one Kingsley Shacklebolt for Bast, and Dumbledore himself to control…”

Severus swallowed. “…Ra.”

Isis hissed. “Precisely. He really should have known better than to try and control the Sun itself. By now Anubis has probably finished devouring what was left of his soul, and moved onto hunting what was left of Tom Riddle’s.”

“And…Granger?”

“Probably dismantling what remains of your pitiful society, with the help of her friends.”

Severus scoffed. “Potter and Weasley? Lucky they may be, but nowhere enough to take on the entirety of the Ministry and the Wizengamot.”

“We quite agree. But did you really think someone like Thoth wouldn’t hedge his bets? Weasley, as you call him, is now the host of Sobek, He-Who-Unites. I anticipate quite a few bodies are going to turn up that have been inexplicably half-eaten by a crocodile. And as for Harry Potter…well, Sekhmet has always been rather blood-thirsty. They should do well together, especially considering their shared betrayal…”

Severus shivered. Whatever or whoever Sekhmet was, he was quite sure he did not ever wish to encounter them. How could he have ever entertained the notion that humanity was truly stronger than the power of belief itself? He had been a fool.

“A fool, you remain, Severus Snape. But now, at least, you are an honest fool. It is time for you to accept your punishment; perhaps Anubis will look on you kindly in the afterlife. Set; he’s all yours.”

Severus Snape screamed.

He didn’t stop screaming for quite some time.

 


 

Amos Kane wiped his hands on his pants. “Well…that was dramatic.”

Sadie snorted. “This from the man I had to talk out of singing the entirety of You’re Playing With The Big Boys Now.”

“I said it was dramatic. I never said that was a bad thing.”

Carter looked up from where he was looting Malfoy’s body. “He’s got a point, sis.”

Sadie kicked what remained of Snape’s corpse. “How do you think he’s gonna feel to know he and James Potter are stuck in the same after life together, with no Lily Evans to play peacemaker?”

Carter jerked. “What do you mean, no Lily Evans? She’s the only one I was sure Anubis would let through.”

Amos pulled out his staff. “Oh, he would have. If the foolish Miss Evans hadn’t made a deal of her own to protect the soul of her son.”

“…Do I want to know who with?”

“No. No you do not. And who knows? Maybe Potter and Snape can bond during their inevitable attempts to retrieve her from where she rests.”

Carter snorted. “That’ll be the day.”

“Indeed. Well, I see no reason to tarry. It’s high time we returned home.”

Carter stood. “A much as I’d like to agree, you seem to have forgotten something, uncle.”

“Oh? What, pray tell, is that?”

“We are in an alternate world. One where the rules of magic are bound to be different. And we are currently standing in the lair of a Dark Lord. Who’s to say we won’t find a lot of nice, convenient books lying around with untold knowledge contained in their pages?”

A whack in the arm from Sadie. “Now you really sound like Thoth. Still, you’re right. There’s no telling what sort of magical things we can find in a place like this; I say we loot the house, then burn it to the ground to make sure no one else gets any bright ideas. Whaddya say, Amos?”

Amos seemed to contemplate the matter. “I say…”

A tremendous crash resounded throughout the manor, followed by quite a lot of distant shouting.

Amos sighed. “…I say we have a bit more cleaning up to do.”

Horus’ sword rang as he drew it once more. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Isis pulled her staff from the Duat. “Oh, well. Hopefully, Thoth will owe us another favor for this.”

Set’s eyes flamed. “At the very least.”

A mass of grey fur rounded the far corner of the hallway, howling as it barreled toward them.

Horus grinned. “..Dibs on the werewolf.”

Then he charged.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

 

13) ANUBIS

 

Fic Title: "A Black Sky Is Warning"

 

Accompanying Song: "Black Sky" by WAR*HALL

 

The wolf of grey fled across the ocean.

The Master of Death followed.

The Battle of Hogwarts had taken so much from him; and of those who yet escaped him, none had been more responsible than the wolf. That was fine; he could be patient. After all, he had nothing but time.

The wolf, however, did not.

America was big, yes, but not infinite. And it was a good deal harder for a werewolf to travel without notice than it was for him. In the end, the brute had only managed to make it as far as Arizona before he was trapped.

What concerned the Master of Death now was that it was beginning to look like the trap was meant for both of them.

 


 

Harry had been sitting in the back of the bar for quite a while now, watching his target. It was remarkably hard for a werewolf to get drunk, but give it enough time, and they could manage it.

Greyback seemed to have at least partially succeeded.

Harry was willing to give it a few more moments before he moved. There were still too many innocents around, and as much as he wanted to get things over and done with, the inevitable altercation, as stacked in his favor as it was, would inevitably lead to a great deal of property destruction. And collateral damage was something he tended to avoid whenever and wherever he could.

That being said, he was beginning to suspect it might be unavoidable. Greyback had given a few glances in his direction so far, each one a little more paranoid looking than the last. He may have been under the Cloak of Invisibility, as well as spelled himself with a Disillusionment Charm using the Elder Wand, but there was only so much one could do about a werewolf’s acutely developed sense of smell. Harry would have sighed in exasperation if it wouldn’t have drawn even more attention to his current hiding spot.

He was just about to ready a series of shield spells and banishments for the few remaining patrons when he walked in.

Harry knew immediately that the man, if that was truly what he was, was connected to Death on a deeply personal level. It practically screamed out to the Master of Death just based on the feel of his magic alone; to say nothing of his clothes. Harry was fairly certain people looking for peace and quiet didn’t walk around in black leather dusters with bullets in their hatband. Or carry a selection of rather large weaponry, either, for that matter. Well, at least openly.

The man never slowed his stride, from one end of the room to the other. When at last he halted, Harry gave an inward groan. Of bloody course he chose to stop in front of Greyback’s table. Where else would the classic Potter luck put him?

The man looked down at Greyback, and then spoke in a voice Harry could only describe as bored. “Been a while since I had to do this sort of thing, you know. Never was one for public executions; too messy. But when the Weaver of Fates cashes in on a favor, its usually best to pay up, am I right?”

Greyback stared up in incomprehension. “…Are you threatening me, punk?”

“Oh, no, quite the opposite, in fact. I’m here to inform you that several beings much more dangerous than either of us have decided your time is long since up…”

Greyback gave a half-howl, half-scoff.

“…And that I have been persuaded to do the job before anyone else does. Much less paperwork that way.”

There was a moment of silence.

Then Greyback was moving, shoving the table out of the way to throttle the stranger.

But the stranger had moved first.

BANG!

The first shot hit Greyback in the side of the stomach, just enough to throw off his projected path from the stranger directly and into the bar itself instead.

BANG!

The second shot hit him in the opposite shoulder, further throwing the werewolf off balance, as he struggled to stand once more. Harry could only guess that the bullets were silver, judging from the amounts of blood coming from the wounds.

BANG!

The third and final bullet struck home directly in Greyback’s throat, turning what had been until then a ferocious snarl into a choked off whimper. The brute collapsed backwards into the spot he had been blasted by the previous shots. He did not rise again.

Harry was horrified. The stranger had been nothing but cold and calculated in his slaughter. Not even a whiff of regret in his magical aura. As if Greyback were nothing more than an inconvenience, an obstacle to be eradicated and then forgotten.

What came next only terrified Harry more.

What few patrons there were in the bar had immediately hit the floor when the fight had started. They were now emerging from their improvised hiding spots, their expressions clearly radiating a mixture of fear, gratitude, and relief. The bartender shakily pulled out what looked to be his best stock from under the counter, and placed it down next to an empty glass. “…I don’t know what that man did, mister, but I’m sure he deserved it.”

The stranger shrugged. “Sure; let’s go with deserved.”

The bartender blanched. “…All I can say is thank God we had someone here to deal with a man as dangerous as he probably was.”

The stranger hummed. “Dangerous? Yes, yes I suppose he was. But not for the reasons you’d think.”

The bartender’s look of fear was replaced with one of confusion. “…Sir?”

“Oh, I have no doubt he would have killed all of you if I hadn’t shown up. But the particular way he would have done it would have been particularly distasteful; I know for a fact he liked to tear the throats out of his victims and drink their blood.”

Harry’s expression of shock matched the one on the bartender’s face. Was this unknown about to reveal the existence of werewolves, and thus the magical world, to a random Muggle?

As it turned out, that should have been the best outcome Harry could have hoped for.

The stranger began refilling his revolver. “You see, my good sir, there are no two ways about it: you should have died today. In pain, and in terror. But whichever god you pray to has apparently decided to answer at least part of your plea. Today, there will be no pain or terror for you.”

The bartender seemed to collapse inward on himself. “Oh, thank God…”

The stranger slid the last cartridge into the cylinder and snapped the revolver closed. “Oh, you misunderstand me. I said there’d be no pain or terror. I said nothing about there not being Death.”

The gleaming silver barrel was now pointed directly at the man’s head. “And by the way, God had nothing to do with it.”

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

Harry had stared in horror as the heads of the bartender and the first patron exploded; he was moving as the second and third went the way of the first; by the time his first spell left his wand, it was already too late to do anything about the last.

“STUPEFY!”

A bloody sword appeared in the stranger’s opposite hand, and deflected the spell…directly back at Harry.

He had time to say exactly one thing before his world went black:

“Bollocks.”

 


 

“Appropriate use of language, Mister Potter. Considering that is exactly what this situation has become: bollocksed.”

Harry’s eyes creaked open to reveal the stranger currently sitting in front of him, drinking what had previously been the bartender’s offered bottle. “Care for a drink? They are on the house, after all.”

The stranger then laughed, as if he had said something unbelievably funny. While said disturbed cackling was going on, Harry took the chance to test his restraints. Very tight; unlikely he’d be getting out of them any time soon. Best to play for time, and hopefully get answers to certain questions.

Namely…

“How did I know your name?”

Harry’s eyes widened as he realized the man had just read straight through his Occlumency shields.

“No Mister Potter, your shields are in quite good shape. I was merely able to guess what the most likely question was in the forefront of your mind, and then respond accordingly. And for the record, I was expecting you to be here.”

Harry’s mouth was suddenly very dry. “Expecting?”

“But of course. Who else could the British Ministry of Magic send who would willingly subscribe to their precious “simply stun them all and then give them a smack on the wrist” policy as well as have the required power to pull it off? No, Mister Potter, it was going to be you. And I, for one, am glad. Because now I get to explain to you, in very small words, exactly what it is that you have done.”

Rage ran rampant in Harry’s mind. “Me! If anything, you should be explaining yourself! How dare you set yourself up as judge, jury, and executioner! Just who the hell do you think you are?!”

“I do no think who I am, Mister Potter; I know. And I can assure you, I am well within my rights to set myself up, as you put it, as judge, jury, and executioner. I am Anubis. The Jackal. And that gives me all the right I need.”

A certain idea crept into Harry’s head, and he couldn’t help but smile. “Anubis, huh? Egyptian God of Death? Well, since I just so happen to be the Master of Death, I order you to release me.”

Anubis chuckled. Then he laughed. Then he cackled with wild abandon. When he finally finished, he coughed and took a swig from his bottle. “Oh, I needed that. And for your information, Mister Potter, your title means absolutely mule fritters to me.”

“But I thought…”

“You conveniently overlooked one very specific part of my title, young man: Egyptian. Tell me, what do you think the odds of an Egyptian deity passing through any part of Britain actually are, much less the odds for it happening back when your precious Tale of the Three Brothers occurred? No, no, I’m afraid it was an entirely different manifestation of Death that created the artifacts you now wield; one named Thanatos, if I am not mistaken. From the Greek pantheon. Which leads me into the first thing I wanted to drill into your miniscule mind…”

Anubis’ palm came swinging through the air.

SMACK!

“Do you have any idea how much you’ve bollocksed things up in Britain?! I’ll admit, through some miracle you managed to claim your prophesied places as the Master of Death and defeat Moldy-shorts, but in doing so you ripped the rest of the natural order to shreds. That monster I just put down? He was supposed to have died years ago; and then again at your Battle of Hogwarts, as you call it. But no! You and your precious Leader-of-the-Light stubbornly stuck to your “second chance” policy, and through your bumbling unleashed that brute upon the rest of the world.”

Harry felt it was high time he defended himself. “Now just a minute! You say it was my fault Greyback got away; but here I am, and there he is; and the only murderer I can see in the room is you!”

“Funny, I was about to say the exact same of you. That’s hypocrisy for you. Those people were dead the minute you walked in here with the intention of capturing Greyback alive; I merely expedited the process.”

Harry scoffed. “What, so you can predict the future or something?”

“You know, for being the subject of a prophecy yourself, you don’t seem to have all that much faith in foretellings.”

“Call me biased.”

“Understandable. Did you know that Sybil Trelawney’s family was descended from the ancient prophetess Cassandra of Greek myth? The one cursed to never have anyone believe whatever truth she spoke. Ironic, isn’t it, that every single prophecy Trelawney made, the ones that practically everyone scoffed at, they all came true in the end, didn’t they?”

“…I hadn’t thought of that.”

“I’ll bet you hadn’t. But to answer your question, while I myself may not deal with the future, and even less with the British Isles, in this case knowledge was granted to me by the very person whose notebook you trashed in your disregard for destiny. That is to say, Atrophis.”

Harry racked his brain for a connection to the name. “…One of the Fates?”

“Correct! So you do listen to Miss Granger on occasion; one good thing to know. And yes, it was the Fates themselves that decreed that you would become the Master of Death; just as they decreed that every person in this bar would die, whether by my hand, Greybacks, or yours.”

“Mine?!”

“Yours. It may have escaped your attention, but it just so happens to be a full moon tonight. And if there’s anything more dangerous than a transformed werewolf, it’s a drunk, transformed werewolf. If I had not interfered, Greyback would have died, true, but you yourself would have been turned. And there wouldn’t have been a single innocent left alive.”

White and green seemed to alternate on Harry’s face. “…I don’t understand…if you stepped in…why did they still have to die?”

“Because, unlike you Mister Potter, I am practically the embodiment of the natural order. In the end, Death comes for all. And when it does, we different manifestations will put the chairs up on the table, turn out the lights, and lock the universe behind us when we leave. Everyone dies, Mister Potter. And everyone knows that everyone dies. And no one will learn that more than the Master of Death.”

Harry’s voice got very small. “…What do you mean, learn it?”

Anubis waved his hand. “That is not for me to say. It is, however, for you to find out. If you truly wish answers, both about your shiny new title as well as how much you’ve bollocksed up the Fates’ plans, there’s a camp on Long Island you should visit. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. I recommend stopping in Chicago on the way; they really do have the most tremendous pizza.”

The ropes that had been binding him to the chair disappeared, leaving him rubbing his wrists. He glanced nervously at where the Elder Wand lay on the floor, and then back to where Anubis was now cleaning his gun. Anubis must’ve seen him, judging by his response.

“Pick up your silly twig, boy. You’re playing with the big boys now. Best learn what that means.”

Harry wasn’t above snatching the weapon from the floor; a deity Anubis may be, but he was willing to bet the Elder Wand could do at least some damage to him. He turned to point it at where Anubis had been sitting, only to realize the chair was now empty. He continued with his turn, only to stop when he realized Anubis was standing stock still in front of the door. He seemed to be whispering something to himself, something Harry caught only the tail end of.

“…I send my scourge, I send my sword, thus saith the Lord. Huh. I guess I was wrong; He really did have something to do with it. You know, I met Him once. At the consulate in Leningrad. Anxious fellow; raggedy beard; questionable taste in music, to say the least. And sad. So very sad. I wonder…No matter. To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die. Keep a weather eye on the horizon, Mister Potter. There’s an east wind coming.”

Just at that moment, a green flash came from the sunset as it dipped completely behind the horizon. When Harry was finally able to see again, Anubis had disappeared.

And just for a moment, he fancied he heard the cry of a jackal, sounding out over the desert.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

14) RUMPELSTILTSKIN

 

Fic Title: "Some Legends Are Told"

 

Accompanying Song: "Centuries" by Fall Out Boy

 

Harry Potter was crying.

This was not an unusual occurrence, by any means. And in fact, Harry had quite a few reasons to cry. Very good ones, too. The problem was that as of yet, he knew very few of them. Being abandoned with your only living relatives (who hated your very existence) simply because your parents had died, however, was one he was very well-acquainted with.

Well-acquainted or not, it was not precisely the reason he was bawling his eyes out (at least not this time). The actual reason sobs were currently wracking his small, malnourished, and undergrown frame was one that requires a small explanation to accompany it. The explanation is thus:

A few weeks ago, his cousin Dudley had begun sneaking down to watch television at night. Harry wasn’t sure why he’d managed to get away with it this long; either Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia didn’t know (perhaps), they didn’t care (likely), or they had realized that it allowed their precious Dudders to get his entertainment while also making it impossible for Harry to get any sleep (most definitely). These conclusions were backed up by the fact that Dudley always seemed to have the volume turned up to full, with the glare from the screen directed straight into his little corner.

But here is where his cousin’s (relatively) clever plan had failed: through a crack in the hinge, if Harry were to press his eye up directly against the door, he was able to watch every single thing that Dudley did. And lately, that had been a certain American show called “Once Upon A Time”.

Harry had been drawn in almost immediately; the very fact he was practically never allowed to watch TV would have been enough to ensure that, but the very first time someone called the main character a “freak”, and then said main character flattened the offending party into a pancake, Harry had fallen in love. And so things had continued that way for quite a while, Dudley deliberately dragging the telly into just the right spot, and Harry watching along silently from his cupboard. After enough time had passed, Harry could almost pretend Dudley was letting him watch to be kind; that he was doing this to say he was sorry for what Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had done. It was a nice dream.

But it couldn’t last.

That night, there had been a marathon of the show. Harry had stayed glued to his crack in the hinge, even though it was quite obvious to even him that Dudley had fallen asleep by then. Through five full episodes he had watched, until…

Uncle Vernon came downstairs.

At first, Harry had merely thought it was to retrieve Dudley and carry him upstairs to bed. Unwilling to risk being wrong, Harry had immediately scooted back as far as he could in his cupboard and gone as silent as he could. And he stayed that way for a fair amount of time, until he realized that something was happening that very rarely occurred when Harry wasn’t actually in the room:

Uncle Vernon was yelling.

And as Harry moved once more to look through his tiny sliver of life, he saw that for the first time in history, it was Dudley he was yelling at.

Harry watched in glee as his uncle tore into Dudley for daring to watch that “freak show”. True, it hurt to hear his favorite people ever insulted and bulled, but Harry had heard worse on one of Uncle Vernon’s worse days. The fact that it was Dudley being thus harangued more than made up for it.

That is, up until Uncle Vernon had noticed the direction in which the television was pointing.

The cupboard door had been thrown open, and Uncle Vernon’s rage was officially turned on the one person whom he had no qualms about unleashing it on: namely, Harry.

Vernon had immediately “deduced” that the only reason his son would ever be caught watching a “freak show” like that one was because the “freak” himself had made him do it. And in return for using his “freakishness” in his precious son, Vernon had then proceeded to beat Harry to within an inch of his life, this time neglecting to make sure the injuries were such that they could be easily hidden. And through it all, Vernon made quite clear to his nephew that if there was one thing freaks like him never got, it was a “happily ever after”.

And Harry believed him.

After all, his parents had been freaks like him, and they had died in a car crash. Even on the show, the characters (even the good ones) never got a happy ending. At best, they got revenge on those who hurt them, but that was it. There was no Easter Bunny, there was no Tooth Fairy, and there were no happily-ever-afters.

And so Harry Potter was crying.

He was crying in pain, and in sorrow. He was crying for the life he knew he could never have, and for how he would never be strong enough to get revenge on his own.

So it was that just before he slipped into unconsciousness, the last name running through his mind was the one person from the show that had not only managed to live without a happy ending, but had become strong enough to do whatever he liked to those that hurt him:

“Rumpelstiltskin…”

 


 

“You called, dearie?”

Harry jumped. Or at least he thought he did. His body seemed to be a bit nonexistent at the moment.

“Well of course your body’s not here, dearie. Kind of hard to drag your carcass along with you into your mind at night, even for someone like me.”

Mind? Night?

Harry rubbed his eyes; or at least tried to. “Is this a dream?”

Rumpelstiltskin (for who else could it be) struck a dramatic pose. “Of course it’s a dream, dearie. But why can it not be real as well?”

Then He giggled. “You’ll get that eventually, Harry Potter.”

Harry started. “…You know who I am?”

“Of course I do. This is, after all, your dream dearie. Your…mindscape. I am but a mere player on your great stage. Big fan, by the way. Love what you’ve done with the place.”

Harry turned his non-body to see what Rumpelstiltskin was talking about. This…he recognized this. Rumpelstiltskin’s Castle, only…slightly different.

Namely, in the fact that there were portraits of his relatives lying dead, as well as their tombstones, scattered all over the walls.

Very bloody paintings, those were.

At first, Harry jerked back in disgust, but then his eyes lit up with a hungry gleam as they drew trails from the pictures to the Dark One currently standing in front of him.

Rumpelstiltskin held up one finger. “I know that look, dearie. And I can hazard a guess as to exactly what it is you’re going to ask me.”

Harry’s throat suddenly went very dry. “…Will you do it?”

“I’m sorry dearie, you have to actually ask the question. It’s the way these sorts of things work.”

Harry swallowed. “…Will you kill my relatives?”

“Much as I would like to, I am somewhat hampered by the fact I am currently in a dream. Therefore, the most I am able to offer is to make you strong. Strong enough to do whatever you wish to your tormentors, and whats more important, strong enough to get away with it.”

Harry wasn’t stupid. He knew the rules, better than most he suspected. “And the price?”

Rumpelstiltskin ran his fingernails over his vest. “Oh, nothing too much, you are, after all, a child, and its always wise to keep children on your good side, less they grow up to cause you untold amounts of trouble…”

Harry snorted. He knew exactly what the Dark One was talking about.

“…and seeing as how it’s you, I’m prepared to make you a very special, limited-time offer, dearie. In exchange for giving you that which I’ve already mentioned, all I shall require from you is…” here he pointed, “…that little thing you’ve got sticking out of your hair.”

Harry’s non-corporeal hand flew up to his forehead to rub the only thing Rumpelstiltskin could be talking about. “…My scar?”

“Yes dearie. Or, to be more specific, what’s inside your scar.”

Harry kept rubbing his head. “I don’t know…it’s all…”

Rumpelstiltskin sighed. “Yes, I should have realized, it’s the only thing you have left to remember your parents. How ironic. I’ll tell you what: I’ll just take your ride-along, and leave the scar itself behind as a reminder. And just to sweeten the deal even further, I’ll throw in something I know for a fact you’ve never had…friends.”

Harry scoffed. “There’s no such thing as friends for freaks like us.”

“Well-spoken, dearie. So glad you figured that out. So, in recognition of that, instead of friends, shall we say…followers. Minions, even, if that’s what you prefer. And later…who knows? Who know, indeed. Well, dearie? I don’t have all night. Do we have a deal?”

Harry looked at the offered hand with outright suspicion, but in the end, he sighed, and held out his own in return.

“Excellent. Now, hold still dearie. This will probably hurt quite a bit.”

Quite a bit, indeed. The pain was blinding. If Harry had been able to scream, he would have.

Then it was over, and a small, black shape was dancing over Rumpelstiltskin’s fingers. “Well, well, well. What have we here? I know exactly what I’m going to do with you, my pretty.”

With a snap off his fingers, the shape disappeared. The minute it did so, the room seemed to go just a tad bit brighter, as if the blackness had been leaching off the light.

“Now then. As promised, the power you need to get anything you could ever possibly want.”

And then Rumpelstiltskin’s fingers were inside his chest and he was shoving something inside of him.

“Best go to sleep now, dearie. After all, you’ve got a full day ahead of you.”

The last thing Harry remembered before he slid once more into unconsciousness was the high-pitched laughter of the Dark One echoing throughout the castle.

 


 

Rumpelstiltskin watched as the apparition of one Harry Potter disappeared from where it had appeared. He hadn’t lied when he had just because it was a dream, didn’t mean it was real as well. When someone as magically powerful as Harry Potter called out for the Dark One, a Dark One he got, in some form or another. He was grateful his had been the representation selected by Fate or whatever; he knew quite well who the true Dark One was in Harry Potter’s own world.

“Oh yes, quite well indeed…” he mumbled to himself, as he made his way over to a very specific bookshelf. He had kept his side of the deal: power, the boy’s to do with as he wished. And everyone knew that if there was one thing that was unequivocally equated with power, it was Knowledge with a capital K. All that the upstart Voldemort had acquired in his some sixty years of life, to be exact, right up until the night he foolishly decided a prophecy meant more to him than anything else. He wouldn’t be surprised if the boy made use of Voldemort’s handy wandless spell repertoire to get his vengeance; some of them had been nothing less than brutal. It had been quite the pleasure to tear through that disgusting remnant’s memories, and with any luck, he would get the chance to do so again.

He reached the bookcase, and threw it open.

Empty.

“Blast.”

He shut it, then opened it again.

Seven gleaming volumes stood in front of him, freshly printed.

“Much better.”

He withdrew the first one, conjured up a chair, and began to read.

“Now, now, which one do I start with, I wonder…”

 


 

Hermione Granger lay in her bed, crying.

Today had been horrible.

The bullies usually left her alone on Fridays (excited for what the end of the school week meant), but on the days they didn’t….

It was the closest to Hell that Hermione could imagine.

She was still crying hours later, only this time in her dreams instead of in the real world. It seemed the worst moments of the day had set themselves on a replaying loop, one impossible for her to break. Every mean comment about her bookishness, her looks, her freakishness…

All she could do was curl into a ball and pray to someone, anyone, to end it all.

Surprisingly, this was the first time someone heard.

Hermione did her best to stifle her sniffles as the boos and jeers changed to…shrieks? And were those…screams?

She cautiously raised her head, just to watch her tormentors running away, every single one of them on fire and burning.

“Beautiful sight, isn’t it, dearie?”

Hermione gasped. She knew that voice. She looked up, directly into the glinting eyes of…

“Rumpelstiltskin…”

He bowed. “At your service, milady. I have come, my dear, to offer you something I rather suspect you would like to have: the ability to do the same to those bullies in real-life, that I have just done here.”

She gulped. “…And in return?”

He grinned like a crocodile. “Why, only one very small thing, dearie: that you become a friend to a certain nice young man, whom I am quite sure will serve very well as your protector, as well as your guide on how to use the power I offer. Well? What do you say, dearie?”

“…I accept your offer.”

 


 

Luna Lovegood could only watch from inside her own mind, trapped, as her mother bled to death in front of her.

And no matter how hard she pushed, she just couldn’t break through back into the real world. Back to her mommy. Back to the blood…

“Oh, dear. This won’t do at all.”

Luna whirled to see a well-dressed man standing in her mind with her. “Please! Please help her!”

The man leaned on his cane. “Are you sure, dearie? I’m afraid it will cost you.”

“I don’t care! Just save mommy!”

The man’s cane disappeared, and an evil glint lit his eyes. “Very well, then. It’s a deal.”

 


 

“Neville Longbottom….”

 


 

“Ginevra Weasley….”

 


 

“Draco Malfoy…”

 


 

“Sirius Black…”

 


 

And with every deal made, Rumpelstiltskin’s hold on the Wizarding World grew stronger and stronger.

He couldn’t resist a little cackle. “It’s a small world, after all…”

And then it was back to his work. Dark Curses didn’t just come because you wished for them, after all.

Or did they…?

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

15) BILL CIPHER

 

Fic Title: "We'll Both Have It All"

 

Accompanying Song: "Decipher" by Madame Macabre

 

Number Twelve Grimmauld Place’s library was Black in more than name.

That was something quite evident to Hermione Granger as she dug her way through a multitude of dark volumes and evil-looking tomes. Some of those she had already poured through would have boiled the flesh from her body if she hadn’t meticulously checked them for curses before opening them. But it was necessary. Research was something she excelled at, and right now research was exactly what they all needed. Harry in particular. His connection to Voldemort was growing stronger, and even though Dumbledore continued to assure them all that everything would be fine, Hermione was determined to help her friend, in the only way she knew how.

So here she was, literally up to her elbows in books that would kill her if given half-a-chance, searching for even a glimmer of hope as to how to save her Harry. Her Harry…now that was a thought. One best set aside for later. Focus was supreme right now, and the less distractions she had the better. She simply had to find something, anything…

She flicked her wand over the next volume on the stack, diagnosing any and all curses that may have rested on it. Is she wasn’t so convinced of Harry and Ron’s utter inability to keep a secret, she would have been glad to tell them both that the Trace was set up to work only in neighborhoods that Muggleborn students lived in. After hearing the full story from Harry about how a House-Elf was able to fool the Trace in second year, even though it was only supposed to pick up magic done by the under-aged, she had devoured any and all restricted knowledge she could find on the exact nature of the Ministry’s magic-tracking system. She was never more glad for her diligence than she was now. She had already drawn up an excellent way to defend Harry from the ridiculous trial he was being shanghaied into for defending himself from the Dementors; honestly, you couldn’t charge someone with under-age magic and then slap them with a punishment reserved for legal adults. To say nothing of the Pensive memories and questioning under Veritaserum she had planned. Oh yes, the Ministry would rue the day it decided to go after her Harry.

And if she could find what she was looking for, so would Voldemort.

Satisfied that there were no enchantments hungry for either her blood or her soul on the object of her investigation, she pulled the heavy journal off of the pile and then proceeded to blow a cloud of dust off of the cover.

It seemed to be a journal of some sort, with heavy-duty scarlet covering and golden binding to hold it together. The symbol of a six-fingered hand decorated the front in a slightly flashier golden leafing, with a black number two inscribed atop it. Hermione briefly wondered where the first volume was, if this was the second, before shrugging and opening the book.

Maybe this time she would get lucky. And maybe, just maybe, she could save her friend.

She screwed the book’s accompanying monocle into her eye (she knew as well as anyone else that sometimes certain secrets were hidden from direct view magically), and began to read…

 


 

Hermione dragged Harry up to the top story of Grimmauld Place, doing her level best so ensure neither of them were overheard.

Harry’s constant whispering wasn’t helping in the slightest. “Are you sure this is a good idea? You said yourself the author of that book got a lot stranger after doing what he did; what we’re about to do. Don’t you think…”

Hermione had had enough. “Harry James Potter!” she hissed. “Do you or do you not trust me?”

Harry gulped. “…Of course I trust you, Hermione. With my life. You, and no one else.”

Hermione rather suspected that her cheeks would have been red after that declaration if they hadn’t already been invisible. “Good. Now, keeping that in mind, trust me on this. I know what I’m doing. Besides, the author may have gone a bit strange, but nothing bad ever happened. He got what he wanted, and so did…the other person. And everything worked out fine.”

Even in a house as well-protected as this one, Hermione was rather reluctant to speak the being’s name. Best to avoid all attention until they had everything set up in exactly the right way. Possible outcomes of having a single thing out of place ran on a loop through her head, ranging from dismemberment to evisceration.

Her over-active imagination wasn’t helped by Harry’s muttered “Yeah, everything worked out fine. Right up until journal three, I’ll bet…”

Hermione was tempted to agree with him. But this was the best thing way she could find…and time was running out.

They slipped into the attic, shut the door, and then threw every locking and security charm they knew on it. Once that was done, they let the Invisibility Cloak drop from their shoulders, and got straight to work.

 


 

A single picture of Tom Riddle lay on the floor. It hadn’t been hard for Hermione to locate the appropriate yearbook; what had been truly hard was concealing exactly whose picture they were looking for in it. But the required object had been obtained, and a giant red cross drawn over the future Dark Lord’s eyes. Nine white candles surrounded the picture, all lit and burning brightly.

Hermione’s eyes went rapidly back and forth between the journal and the setup; as far as she could see, everything was in order. Now, to do the actual summoning.

She held out her hand, and silently Harry grasped it tight. Ignoring the feelings said hand-holding produced in her stomach, she held out the journal directly in front of the both of them, and then looked up into Harry’s eyes. “Ready?”

Harry let out a long breath, and then nodded. “Ready.”

As one, they turned back to the journal, and began to read aloud.

“Triangulum, Entangulum, Viniferous Dominus Mentium!...”

 


 

Harry and Hermione struggled to rise from where they collapsed. The attic had already been dark while they worked; now it had completely lost all color.

Above them hung a triangular hole in space, fire blazing around its edges. With a shriek that echoed throughout the fabric of reality itself, a single eyeball appeared directly in the middle of the triangle. The shrieking was immediately drowned out by the most evil laughter either of the teens had ever heard, and considering that one of them had met Voldemort, that was truly saying something.

With a flash, the triangle changed once more, as a bow-tie, top-hat, and limbs appeared, and the fire vanished.

Then, the triangle spoke.

“Oh! Oh, Number Twelve Grimmauld Place! Never been here before!”

Hermione stared in shock. There was a supposedly unbreakable Fidelius around the house; “How did you know where we are?”

The triangle laughed once more. “Oh, I know lots of things!”

Images of the lives the children had led appeared on the triangle’s body. “LOTS OF THINGS.”

Then they disappeared, leaving things back to normal. “Hey! I got something for you!”

The triangle gestured, and with yet another flash, two jars of a gleaming substance appeared in his hands. “Unicorn blood! For you, kids!”

Harry knew quite well what unicorn blood could do in the wrong hands. “Are you insane?!”

“Sure I am, what’s your point?”

Another flick, and the jars disappeared back to wherever they’d been summoned from.

If Hermione hadn’t been convinced this being could help them before, she certainly was now. Nobody else she knew of could break the laws of Magic as casually as he had just done; not even Dumbledore himself. She swallowed, and began the speech she had practiced for most of the day. “Bill Cipher, we have summoned you to offer you a deal.”

“Cute, kid! Offering deals is usually my thing! But since I’m in a good mood, fire away! Literally!”

And for a moment, everything was covered in blue flame.

And then it wasn’t.

Hermione had to scrape her brain together to keep from curling into a ball of fear. This was so not what she had been expecting; it looked like Harry had been right about the third journal…still, they had to try. “My friend has a connection to someone in his mind. I want it gone, destroyed, burnt to a crisp. If it hurts the person on the other end of the connection, so much the better. And in return…” now they were at the part that Hermione had told Harry nothing about, “…I offer myself.”

Harry gasped.

Hermione pressed on. “I know the terms; I know how deals with a demon work. You do this for me, for us…and in ten years, you get my soul.”

Harry opened his mouth to say something, but a quick jab from Hermione’s wand silenced him. She wasn’t about to let him mess this up, or worse, tick off an inter-dimensional all-powerful being.

Cipher seemed to consider it. “Hmm, hm, hm…hm, hm, hmm. Sorry kiddo, no deal! Now, it’s my turn to make the counter-offer! I can’t destroy the connection; I know what it is, and how things in this world are supposed to go. That being said, I’ve always loved irony! I can’t wait to see the look on the whiskered wanker’s face when he realizes he forgot to count the seventh month on the right calendar! So, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll transfer the connection, to you, kid. And because I’m such a good sport, I’ll also help you out dealing with old Vulture Warts! And in return, I won’t ask for something as delicious as your soul. Instead, just occasionally, you two’ll give me a hand with a few plans of my own. Whaddya say; is it a deal?”

Hermione thought about it, long and hard. She rather suspected she knew exactly what sort of plans Cipher was referring to; she wasn’t the sort to jump into something without reading all the way through. She’s seen the warnings come after the spells far too many times for that. But in the end, a world with Bill Cipher in it still seemed better than one with Voldemort.

She held out her hand. “Deal.”

Cipher’s blue flame surrounded her body as they shook. She looked over to Harry, and nodded for him to take Cipher’s other hand. With a single worry-filled glance, he slowly did as she asked. Now the flames encompassed all three of them; an unholy trinity, bound by hate and by fate.

“Well, that wraps things up for me! I’ll be in touch; remember, reality is an illusion, the universe is a hologram, buy gold, byeeeeeeee!”

With one final flash, the triangle disappeared, and both teens dropped like sacks of potatoes, Cipher’s final words ringing in their ears.

 


 

With a groan, Hermione pushed herself up from the floor. She had no idea what had happened last night after her blackout, much less what time it was. She wouldn’t be surprised if they had missed breakfast entirely. What the rest of the house’s residents would say about her unusual lateness, much less how it coincided with Harry’s, she didn’t dare think.

Harry…she turned to see the boy still passed out the floor, his back pressed against where hers had been mere seconds before. With a mumbled “come back”, he flipped himself over and pulled Hermione close to him. Despite how nice it felt, she would rather they not get into any more trouble than they were inevitably already in for.

She shook his shoulders gently. “Come on, Harry. Time to wake up.”

All he did was grab on harder. “No. Warm.”

She did have to admit it had gotten a bit chilly in the attic, but right now that was the least of her concerns. “Harry, if you don’t move in three seconds, I am going to scream as loud as I can for Molly Weasley.”

She had barely finished the last bit of that sentence before Harry was scrambling away, a brilliant red blush on his face. “Not funny, Hermione.”

“It was to me. Now, come on. Time to face the music. Your hair is atrocious, but that’s normal. Thank goodness you listened and put on clothes last night; I can’t imagine being forced to creep through this place in our pajamas.”

Harry’s blush became even more pronounced. “Uh, Hermione…that is…about the clothes…I may or may not have thrown on the same ones I wore yesterday.”

Hermione blinked. Then blinked again.

Finally, she sighed. “Oh, well. It can’t be helped. We’ll just have to make do. Now hurry up already! Right now I feel like I could eat as much as Ron.”

Harry made a face. “Ugh. That is the last thing I needed an image of this early in the morning.”

“I rather doubt it’s that early, Harry…”

 


 

Hermione was, as per usual, correct.

The only person in the kitchen as they came in was Sirius, a cup of now-cold coffee sitting in front of him. When the two teens came stumbling in, both looking like they’d been run over by a train, Sirius merely smirked and went back to reading his paper. His entire train of thought had consisted solely of the single observation “Good on you, Harry”, after which he had concluded that right now it was very much none of his business and that he ought to just enjoy watching the two stagger around obviously sleep-deprived. For instance, Harry had just poured pumpkin juice into his bowl instead of milk.

Surprisingly, it was Hermione that spat out her spoonful of cereal first. Then again, Sirius rather suspected that was because of the rather official looking letter on the table in front of her, bearing both her name and the Gringotts’ seal.

Her eyes then moved slightly to the left, where an identical letter marked with Harry’s name lay. She then jabbed he spoon directly into Harry’s arm and hissed. “Harry! Look!”

Harry looked up from his bowl, where he had just been contemplating the color “brown”, to where Hermione was pointing. “A letter.”

“Two letters, Harry! One for each of us!”

Harry’s mind slowly pondered the significance of that fact, until it arrived at the only logical explanation. “You think that He…”

Whatever else his mouth had been about to say was cut off as Hermione covered it and gave him a glare. “I suggest we read them first before we say anything else at all.”

Sirius had no idea who “He” was, but he was intimately familiar with what those particular envelopes signified. At the moment, the only thing he was even the tiniest bit disappointed about was that the letters had come after the Weasleys had vacated the kitchen; he would have rather liked to see what Molly’s reaction would have been.

Actually, no he wouldn’t. He would just have to content himself with the kids’.

And they did not disappoint.

Hermione was first. “Married?!”

Then Harry. “Lord Potter?!”

Hermione again. “Missus Potter?!”

Sirius couldn’t hold it in any longer. He sat back and laughed, laughed at the greatest prank ever played on the Wizarding World.

He just wished he could shake the hand of the being responsible.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

16) GHOST RIDER

 

Fic Title: "I Got Fire In My Soul"

 

Accompanying Song: "Glitter And Gold" by Barns Courtney

 

To one Harry James Potter, pain was a very old friend.

Tonight, it looked like he just might become a bit more acquainted with its counterpart: Death.

His body lay beaten, broken, and bleeding on the bedroom floor. Any attempted movement brought nothing more than another flash of pure agony, and with each flash Harry could feel his life slip further and further away. It wasn’t the first time he’d felt this way, but before he had at least been at Hogwarts, where Madame Pomfrey could fix him up. Harry couldn’t believe it, but he found he could say with no small degree of certainty that Uncle Vernon hurt worse than Voldemort had.

And wasn’t that just terrific.

A laugh attempted to push its way out of his lungs, but all that emerged was a rattling cough. His vision went white for a moment from the pain, and then gradually faded back in. As it did so, he resumed the mental task he had been working on before; namely, a list. A list of everyone and everyone to blame for his current position.

Number one on his list was, surprisingly, not Uncle Vernon, but instead a certain white-bearded wanker who liked to sit back in his ivory tower and pretend that everything was going to work out fine. The one that had assured him that going back to his relatives’ was necessary, and that things would work out for the best if he would merely “endeavor to persevere”.

Endeavor to persevere. Harry had thought about that for quite a long time. And when he had thought about it enough, he would have gladly declared war on one Albus Dumbledore.

Not that he was in much shape to declare war on anyone, partially thanks to the second person on his list: one House-Elf by the name of Dobby. He had tried to be kind to the fellow; tried to be understanding and polite. And what had that gotten him? A warning on using under-age Magic around Muggles, and an irate Uncle Vernon that had been quite pleased to find out Harry wasn’t allowed to use Magic outside of Hogwarts. Now Harry found that he could quite cheerfully strangle the little Elf and not feel a thing. Well, beyond the pain such an effort would inevitably bring.

At first, Harry had been tempted to not put the Dursleys on his list at all. After all, they really didn’t count as people. More like mindless animals, creatures that understood only one thing: the food chain. One that Harry, for one shining moment, had been on top of. Their reaction when he lost his position as apex predator was a completely natural one; it was never a good idea to give your enemies a chance to rise once more. Yes, Harry could have found it within himself to forgive the Dursleys, if it weren’t for one very specific thing they had done.

His eyes traveled up and over to his bed, where lay a battered bird-cage, blood splattered on the wires. Harry was reminded of a quote from one of the few Muggle books he’d ever been able to smuggle and read: “A dying dragon digs a witch’s grave”. Only this time, it should have been him doing the digging.

Two whispered words slipped from his lips. “Sorry Hedwig.”

He couldn’t hold her as her breaths got shallower and shallower; he couldn’t bury her when they finally stopped altogether. And worst of all, there would be no vengeance. For her, or for him. Albus Dumbledore would go on living in his tower, Dobby would go on working for his family, and the Dursleys would go on with their normal lives, never admitting that there had ever been anything the least bit “freakish” about their lives.

Harry’s eyes slipped closed for what he was sure would be the final time. He had never believed in Heaven; it was a place the Dursleys liked to say he would never be able to go. They had always insisted that he would end up in the same place his worthless parents had, the place meant for all freaks like him and them. And Harry knew that place was real; after all, hadn’t he been living in it for the past eleven years? Oh yes, Harry Potter believed in Hell. He just wished he could have sent everyone on his list there instead.

“Do you?”

Harry would have jerked if there had been any strength left in his body. As it was, hearing another voice in one’s head was usually a good indicator that you were well and truly on the way out. Maybe it was the Grim Reaper, come to execute judgement. Maybe not. It really didn’t matter to Harry, beyond the fact that playing along with the voice might buy him just a little more time. So he thought back at it, as loudly as he could.

“Yes. Yes I do.”

“You would wish to send all those who have done wrong, to both you and your friends, to Hell? To condemn them to eternal punishment, to burn for eternity for their sins?”

Well, when the voice put it that way…it didn’t change a thing. “Absolutely.”

“Hmm. Interesting. You would have let your relatives live; but they chose to attack something weaker than them, solely because it was associated with you. And thus, your desire for vengeance grew to include them.”

“Yeah? Is that important, or something?”

“Just making conversation, young Potter. And wondering whether or not you would be worth it.”

“Worth…what, exactly?”

“The Wizarding World is in shambles. Crumbling, as Gotham, Rome, and Leng before it. The time has come for judgement to be brought down upon it; but only someone very special is capable of doing what is necessary. Are you such a person, Mister Potter? Will you strike down evil wherever it may be found, with neither grace nor mercy in your soul? Can you?”

Harry would have thought that last bit through rather carefully if he hadn’t been in the process of dying. Which was the point, he rather suspected. Still, he didn’t think his final answer would have been any different than the one he gave now. “I can do it. I swear.”

“You will learn soon, Mister Potter, that in this life, there is only one rule: make no promise, and swear no oath. But your dedication is to be admired. Very well; I will save you, and your friend. And in return, you will bring shake the Wizarding World itself to its core, leaving nothing of the rotting frame left standing. Do we have a deal?”

“…Deal.”

With that, a burst of flame appeared in Harry’s view, despite his eyes still being completely shut. The flame grew in size, and began to take on the semblance of a shape. When at last it stopped growing, it turned. And Harry found himself staring into the eyes of the Devil himself.

“Marvelous.”

 


 

Vernon Dursley had not had a good day.

First, there had been all those awkward noises from the freak’s room he had been forced to cover up during the dinner. He was sure his guests both thought he had a cold at the very least. And then, on top of that, the blasted freak had utterly ruined the dinner with his…freakishness.

But everything had been alright after that. One of their bloody owls had shown up with a letter for the freak, warning him about doing anything freaky around normal people. And Vernon had realized that despite the boy’s threats, there was nothing he could do to them without getting into even more trouble. That had been all Vernon had needed to hear.

First had been the boy’s flying rodent. He had quite enjoyed watching his precious Dudders flatten it with the fire-iron while he held the freak down. The only reason he hadn’t joined in was he had wanted to make sure the freak knew exactly what would be happening to him next; thus, the longer the boy’s owl lasted, the longer the freak’s punishment itself would be postponed.

That had been, in retrospect, a slightly bad idea.

The bloody ingrate had nearly bitten his thumb clean off in an effort to get to his precious bird, and Vernon had lost what little cool he had left. He had turned his full attention to the boy, any thought of dragging out the torture forgotten in his rage. He had even used what little furniture there was in the room for his own purposes. When at last it was over, Dudders had used the iron to toss what was left of the rodent into the cage and locked it shut, and then the pair of them had locked the boy’s remains in his room, the blood from the pair of them covering practically every surface. They could clean it up in the morning, after properly disposing of the freak himself, as well as his effects.

At least, that had been the plan.

Vernon had been awoken by the absence of sound. Usually around this time of the night all sorts of freakish creatures began croaking and hooting and the like. And no matter how much he complained about it, the truth was that it was virtually impossible for Vernon to fall asleep to any other noises. So when it all shut off in an instant, he instantly knew something was wrong.

Making his way downstairs, armed with the fire-iron from earlier, he was terrified to find a figure, small and shrouded in darkness, standing in front of the freak’s cupboard, where’d they’d locked the rest of his stuff. Only the fact that the freak was dead kept him from wondering whether he had somehow found his way past the locks and bars.

Stealthily (for him),  he crept up behind the figure, and raised the iron, ready to strike.

A burning trail of light appeared in the figure’s hand, and then lashed out, binding Vernon’s arm to his neck quite tightly. Then, what Vernon now realized was a chain was yanked backwards, dragging him directly into the grasp of the figure.

Vernon couldn’t help but stare into the burning orbs that now regarded him with barely concealed hatred. He began to shake in uncontrollable fear as the face those eyes belonged to took form in the fire-light.

“No…you’re dead…”

“Yes. Yes I was. And now…I’m back. In black.”

The freak began to laugh. A hellish sound by any comparison, but at approximately thirteen-o-clock at night, even more so. Vernon couldn’t help but wet himself in terror at the sound.

The freak’s laughter abruptly cut off mid-howl, and his grasp on the chain, and thus Vernon’s throat, tightened significantly. He seemed to stare into the depths of Vernon’s soul itself, as if judging it…and finding it wanting. Slowly, a grin spread across the boy’s face. As it did so, the skin of the boy’s face peeled back, and then burnt off all-together. What was left was a horrifically grinning skull, ever flaming, but seemingly never consumed. A single, deepened word, as if drug up from the depths of Hades itself, emanated from the skeletal mouth.

“…Guilty.”

The chain tightened once again….and Vernon Dursley was no more.

 


 

Harry could only watch as Number Four, Privet Drive, went up in flames. Something deep within him, whether his desire for vengeance or his taste for the theatric, seemed to clap its hands at the spectacle. He found he was tempted to do it for real. But there was more yet to be done that night.

Turning his back on the conflagration, Harry strode over to where he had dropped the rest of his school supplies. Not that he’d be needing a wand for much from now on. But still, it was best to keep that knowledge to himself for the moment. He would tell those he trusted eventually, as short of a list as that was. But first, he had to choose. Choose exactly which of the people on said list to tell first, and hopefully, prevail upon them to put him up for the time being.

In the end, there was really only one name that came to mind: Hermione Granger, his best friend, and the smartest witch he knew. If anyone would know exactly what had happened to him, or at least be able to find out, it would be her.

He felt a reassuring weight settle on his shoulder. True to his word (and wasn’t that a first), the Devil had indeed brought back Hedwig. But not, exactly, in the way she had been before. Harry tilted his head to look at the phoenix now sitting comfortably on his right arm. “What do you think, Hedwig? Hermione’s?”

The former owl gave a trill of agreement, and rubbed her head against Harry’s. He couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, girl. Now, how best to get there…”

As if in response to his remark, his broom levitated from off the ground, and then burst into a trail of flames.

“…Huh. That’s one way to do it. But if we’re gonna do this the right way, we’re doing as the Americans do. Surf’s up, Hedwig.”

The phoenix trilled again as Harry jumped atop the broom, perfectly balancing some four feet in the air. “Just like a skateboard.”

The flames from the broom expanded to cover Harry himself, revealing his true nature once more for all the world to see.

“…Let’s ride.”

 


 

Fred and George Weasley could only look on in horror as Harry Potter’s house burned to the ground. It had taken a mighty amount of convincing from their younger brother when his letters hadn’t been answered, but now they were seriously regretting not listening sooner.

Harry Potter was, in all likelihood, dead. And it was, without a doubt, their fault.

As one, they looked to each other, and uttered four words that had never until that moment left their lips:

“…We gotta tell Mom.”

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

17) DAVY JONES

 

Fic Title: "Friends On The Other Side"

 

Accompanying Song: "Friends On The Other Side" by Keith David

 

Breathing, on the whole, was vastly underrated.

Then again, what breathing inevitably brought (i.e. continued life), could conversely be argued to be equally over-rated. Very interesting conundrum.

Harry wondered why this train of thought happened to be the one crossing his mind at the moment, instead of one filled with quite a bit more panicking and screaming. Oh, right. The breathing. Or lack thereof, he supposed. Slowly slipping into unconsciousness due to a lack of air while swimming in a seemingly bottomless lake would do that for you.

Funny old world wasn’t it.

Just a few hours before his biggest worries had been about how to safely rescue…whatever it was…from the bottom of said lake. The reason he had said “whatever it was” instead of the actual name was, at the time, he was still unclear exactly what it…well, was. All he knew for sure was that it was something he held dear. Not willing to risk what little he had in the way of possessions, he had convinced his friend Hermione to help him ward his school trunk with every single Jinx, Hex, and Curse they could think of. Then, just to make double sure, they had ordered Dobby to take the trunk and hide it, and not to let anyone know where it was until after the Second Task was over. Not even Dumbledore; Harry wouldn’t put it past the old man to dare take what little he had left of his parents and stick it hundreds of feet underwater.

Imagine his shock and rage to discover that his beloved Headmaster had gone and done something infinitely worse.

He had taken Hermione herself.

He supposed he should have seen it coming; one could hardly have noticed how he had stared at the Yule Ball. That, on top of the amount of time they’d spent together warding his stuff…well, it was pretty easy to see that she was the most important thing in the world to him. Especially after Ron’s betrayal on the latest in a long line of cursed Halloweens. He’d done pretty well for himself date-wise; Luna Lovegood had certainly been entertaining, if nothing else. And Harry could say that she was certainly more than that. But in the end, it always came back to Hermione. Even Luna had seen it, and let him know in her perfect, dreamy way that she wasn’t upset with him about where his gaze had been most of that evening. Still, he had felt a bit bad about it, and had tried to include her in more things he and Hermione did together. Whether that was replacing Ron or not, he wasn’t brave enough to say. Well, at least not yet.

But there was quite a lot he had been brave enough to say once he had seen Hermione…his Hermione…tied up to that pillar. And most of it he wouldn’t have dared repeat on dry land. Rage, it turned out, was an excellent motivator for spells. Especially of the destructive sort. The pillar had been utterly demolished (Well after Hermione was cut away, of course). It was only once the rubble and dust had begun to settle that he had realized exactly who the other hostages were.

And he proceeded to get even madder.

How dare they use a bloody kid as a hostage?! A chess piece on their bloody board?! Whoever her parents were (he suspected Fleur’s, if his memory served), he intended to give them a sound verbal walloping once he reached the surface. And, really, trying to force him to rescue the ginger ponce? Just what the hell did they think would happen? That the red-headed git would give some half-hearted apology, Harry would roll-over, and everything would go back to the way it had before? Bollocks to that. Dumbledore and his manipulations could go hang. Let the weasel stew; if worst came to worst, he could always pretend that he thought Ron was Krum’s hostage. After all, everyone knew how big a fan Ron was, and surely Krum would have seen that too.

It would serve the sot if he stayed down there.

But the girl? Harry knew quite well that Fleur had been in trouble earlier; and as much as he would have liked to let things stay as they should have been, he would not force anyone to suffer for the failures of their family. Much less a child. Harry proceeded to cut the girl loose, and after a great deal of awkward maneuvering, he had both witches strapped to himself, one per arm. With a silent thank you to Hermione for giving him the idea, he then pointed his wand directly backwards, and shouted (as well as he could underwater) “Auguamenti!”

A jet of water shot out of his wand behind him, jolting all three of their bodies forward at a tremendous rate. Harry nearly lost his grip on the wand; the jerk had been quite a bit worse than he had ever experienced while practicing. He supposed that the extra weight was the reason; the significantly reduced speed seemed to indicate that as well. Harry suddenly had a very, very terrifying realization: at this rate, they wouldn’t reach the surface before his Gillyweed ran out. Could he…should he leave behind one of the girls, and send somebody back for them? But then which one should he leave? He refused to leave behind his Hermione again; but on the other hand, his other precious cargo was barely Hogwarts age. And he’d rather not have any more eleven year olds beyond himself and his friends put into any dangerous situations, thank you very much (He really did have to rip her parents a new one).

His decision was made for him when the young blonde on his left arm began waking up.

He would have liked to have said that he thought fast. He did not. He would have loved to have been able to say that he kept his cool. Once again, he did not. But the one thing he could safely state was that he didn’t freeze. Freezing was something Harry Potter simply didn’t do.

With barely a thought, the jet of water behind him stopped, leaving him free to concentrate on transferring the connecting ropes from his own body to between the two girls. The last of the Gillyweed in his pocket went into the little girl’s mouth, ensuring that she wouldn’t be drowning anytime soon. Then, once they were as secure as he could make them, he pointed his wand once more, and a second jet stream shot out of it.

Only this time it was aimed directly at the girls.

They began rising quite a bit faster than they had been; the missing weight certainly made a difference. Of course, that went both ways. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And Harry shot downwards once more into the water, as if the hounds of Hell itself were after him.

He instantly cut the charm short, but halting his momentum was a significantly harder task. Especially when his attempt to bring himself to a halt using a third blast merely sent him into a rapid downward spiral, spinning wildly out of control. By the time he finally stopped, he could see the girls just breaking the surface, Hermione’s arms wrapped protectively around the little girl in a gesture that somehow looked natural to Harry.

Not that he had time to dwell much on that. He was definitely too deep now to make it to the surface on his own power alone. Hermione had tried to drill the Bubble-head Charm into his head several times already; served him right for never being able to cast it properly. Oh, well. At least he could be sure that now she would be the one that got his stuff when he was gone, and not the Dursleys. Dobby would take good care of her; he had made the little elf promise that out of Hermione’s earshot. He knew quite well what the odds of him surviving the entire Tournament were, and he had made all the necessary arrangements. All except a backup plan, it seemed.

And with that, the Gillyweed ran out.

Everything suddenly seemed to become that much heavier; the water was now a buffalo, sitting firmly on his chest. Breathing was impossible; there would be only drowning from here on out. Harry hoped he passed out from lack of oxygen before the water forced its way into his mouth and nose; the other way had been described in great detail by Hermione, and he had no desire to force anyone to see a corpse that looked like that.

As his vision grew dark, his feet came in contact with…hang on, what was that? Sand definitely wasn’t that hard; besides, he was nowhere near the bottom. Then, with an unexpected jolt forward, the ground began to move.

Harry was so distracted by said movement he failed to notice that he had been able to breathe for the past few seconds with absolutely no problems. It was only when he looked around, and saw the shadowy figures surrounding him, that he began to jump to certain conclusions.

One of the figures, the leader he supposed, stomped forward on a false leg. Harry looked up into the swirling form that could only be a face, and asked a single question. “…Am I dead?”

The figure laughed. “Why? Do you fear death, Harry Potter?”

“…No. Not particularly.”

“Really? Tell me then, son, what is it that you fear?”

…Really, there was only one answer Harry could give. “Failing. My friends, my family…everybody, I guess.”

The figure stroked his face with…was that a claw? “Hmm. A most intriguing answer, isn’t it boys? Still, the rules are clear: a deal to the man who finds the Dutchman. The terms as set by the finder, and the payment as set by the Captain.”

Harry was tempted to gulp. “And…who is the Captain, sir?”

One of the other figures lurched forward and clasped the first on the shoulder. “He wants to know who the Captain is!”

The claw of the first jabbed, and the second figure was sent spiraling back into the murky water.

“I…am the Captain, boy. Captain Davy Jones, of the Flying Dutchman. Now, what are your terms?”

Harry thought. Long and hard, he thought. “I…I guess…that I survive this Tournament? And…and that…maybe…Voldemort dies…for good? Is that okay…sir?”

A pause.

Then, raucous laughter from every corner of the shadows. “Well chosen, Harry Potter! But you need not have worried about surviving…no one dies ‘til their payment to the Dutchman comes due. As for the other half of your request…why, it would be my pleasure.”

This time, Harry gulped for real. “So…what’s the payment?”

“Don’t you worry about that, boy. We’ll handle that in a few years…say, oh, thirteen or so. Well? Do we have a deal, Harry Potter?”

The Captain’s claw stuck forward in a gruesome parody of a handshake. Gingerly, harry shook it. Then, it was withdrawn as abruptly as it had been offered. “The deal has been struck, boys! Take us up; its time we return Master Potter to his friends!”

With a shout, the rest of the shadowy figures dispersed, presumably to do the Captain’s bidding.

“One more thing, boy. You might want to let your Headmaster know what happened here today. Do so. Leave not a single detail out; I want him to realize the truth.”

“…The truth, sir?”

“The living have no secrets from the dead, Harry Potter. And the dead have no secrets from me. Savvy?”

“I…savvy?”

“Good lad. I look forward to our next meeting…in thirteen years.”

And then everything went black.

 


 

Harry groaned and tried to roll over, only to find himself unable to do so. Forcing one eye open, he realized the reason for his lack of mobility.

“Huh. Looks like Madame Pomfrey wasn’t exaggerating when she said she’d tie me down the next time.”

“I can assure you, Mister Potter, that I never exaggerate.” came the voice of the school nurse. “Now, seeing as how you’re awake, I have been…prevailed upon by the Headmaster to…allow certain individuals to express their concern for your well-being.” Her sniff indicated exactly what she thought of that. “Five minutes, Mister Potter, and no more.”

She had barely finished speaking before a multi-colored blur swept into the room, heading straight for Harry. His eyes widened, and then screwed shut, waiting for the inevitable impact. When the only sounds that reached his ears were of extremely loud sobs, and the only pressure he felt was three pairs of arms locked around his arms and legs respectively, he dared to open them again.

Hermione had latched onto his right arm, and was doing her best impression of a waterfall. Her performance was mirrored on the other arm by the little blonde he had rescued from the lake, the one that had almost woken up underwater. And judging by how the third pair of limbs, the one hanging on for dear life to his legs, belonged to a bawling Fleur, he was tempted to wager he had been correct in his earlier observation that she had been Fleur’s sister.

He looked up into the twinkling eyes of Albus Dumbledore in the universally recognized silent plea for help from a fellow man whenever a woman broke down for an unexplained reason. The Headmaster, however, merely smiled and leaned back. “Harry, my boy, someday I hope you realize exactly how lucky you are at this very moment. Now, if you would be so kind as to explain to me how you managed to get Hogwarts’ giant squid to transport you to shore, I would be most grateful.”

Harry opened his mouth to say he had absolutely no idea how he had managed it, much less if he had actually been the one responsible, but only one word managed to make its way past his lips.

“Kraken.”

Dumbledore started. “I beg your pardon?”

Harry swallowed. He didn’t know how he knew; he just knew that… “It’s a Kraken. Not a giant squid. There’s a difference.”

Dumbledore’s face went just a little paler. “…I see. Tell me, Harry, are there any other important events I should be informed about that occurred in that lake?”

Once more, Harry opened his mouth, and the wrong thing came out. “Captain Davy Jones told me to tell you something. He said…he said he wanted you to realize the truth. That the living have no secrets from the dead…and the dead have no secrets from him. Sir? What did he mean?”

Dumbledore’s head bowed, and small trails of light appeared in the corner of his eyes. “…Oh Harry. What have you done?”

Harry could only lie back in confusion as four people, all for very similar reasons, cried for him.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

18) THE ZYGONS

 

Fic Title: “We Are The Underground”

 

Accompanying Song: “I’m Dangerous” by The EverLove

 

The world was ending.

What else was new?

Ted Tonks snorted. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen a place dear to him ripped to shreds by forces beyond his comprehension. The first time, it had been by science. Cold, calculating, and utterly disdainful of life. The second, and now the third, it was by magic. Blazing, raging, and as full of life as science was void. But the end result was the same. The things that he loved were in danger. And he was fairly certain that there was little he could do to protect them.

Just like the first time.

Many, many years ago, when he was but eight Earth years old, he had lived on an entirely different world. Not just another planet, or even another galaxy. No, it had been a completely different universe, one that the doors to had long since been closed to. For him, and all those like him.

They had been happy there, relatively. There were wars, true, and there was sickness. But they had been mostly content to live as they did, with only the occasional disturbance. But all that had changed when the War began.

The only War actually worth being called a War. The Last, Great Time War, between the abominations created on the accursed world of Skaro, the Daleks. And the indifferent, arrogant, residents of the planet known as Gallifrey. Those who ruled Time itself based on nothing but their whims, and dared to call themselves Lords. And their battles had ripped holes in the very fabric of reality itself.

At first, neither side had used time-travel. It was agreed that, between the cold fury of the Daleks and the arrogance of the Time Lords, the results would simply be too dangerous. That was, until the Time Lords broke the agreement. And then everything had fallen apart.

And once it began, it never slowed or stopped. Ted didn’t remember much of that time; he had, after all, been just a kid. His planet hadn’t even been involved in the War up until that fateful day; as neutral as the rest of the galaxy. But because the Daleks underestimated the Time Lords’ willingness to let innocents die to achieve victory, their entire world had been burned from the sky itself. He and his family had been among the very few to escape with their lives, much less their possessions. They had been forced to watch the entire battle, dying and resurrecting within that accursed bubble of Time as each force strove for mastery over the other. And when it was all over, and both sides had retreated to lick their wounds, that was when it happened.

The Time Lock activated. And what few survivors there were of the Zygon race were hurled into the abyss.

Of those survivors, only one ship had arrived in this dimension. At least, that they had been able to find. They had identified the nearest life-supporting planet as this reality’s version of Earth, and had immediately set course, hoping the sentients would be advanced enough to assist in repairing the severe damage done to their vessel.

Alas, no such luck. It appeared that this world was a few decades behind the one they had left; not that their version of Earth was much closer to their level of advancement. Ted snorted once more. As if their precious innovations had been able to stand against the Daleks, much less the Time Lords.

In the end, they had seen no other option than to blend into the human population. What few children there were left were immediately made the top priority; if they were going to survive on this world long enough to see their ship repaired some indeterminate time in the future, they would have to ensure there were descendants. And, after quite a bit of calculation, they had been horrified to learn that if said descendants were going to come from anywhere, it would have to be with intermarrying with the humans. There were simply not enough true Zygons left to keep the population alive beyond a few more generations; and if they were to go the route of isolation, and the hoped for technology was developed in time to save them all, there was still no guarantee that they would be able to find other Zygons out there to continue to rebuild with. To say nothing of the genetic instabilities that would come from that course of action.

No, it would have to be the other option. Hiding in plain sight was easy for a shapeshifting race, and the fact that apparently there were very few other-worldly visitors to this Earth meant there was practically no one looking for them, much less any to notice if certain things just didn’t quite add up.

The Zygon children immediately began to be drilled on human culture and Earth history, specifically focused around the island they had managed to find a home on. They were told, on no uncertain terms, that they would be expected to grow up in the human way, going through the same sort of schools and making the same sorts of friends. And in the end, they would choose a mate from the human population, one preferably at home with the concept of life from other worlds, and willing to assist them in their quest to find a way home.  

During the school year, the Zygon children would do as little as possible to attract attention. They were each sent to a different education center, so as to cover as wide a range as possible, as well as avoid any suspicions from the government. When possible, an adult Zygon would get themselves into a position of authority at the designated schools as a last protection, should the unthinkable happen and one of the children be seriously injured, or worse, found out. Their survival was paramount to none else, aside from maybe their escape ship itself.

And during the summer, every member of the community would retreat into the shadows, inserting themselves ever deeper into the humans’ developing intelligence and technology grid. So it was, that when a certain letter arrived for one “Ted Tonks, Crashed Zygon Spaceship, Baskerville, England”, all available information on the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry” was readily made accessible.

Really, it was pitiful what passed for secrecy to these magic-wielders. Obliviation erased only the memories of living things, and did absolutely nothing to technology but scramble it. Easily reversible for the Zygons. Security recordings and electronic documents could never truly be lost, and every single one from around the entire globe in the last three years was now locked permanently into the Zygons’ database.

Once the Zygon leaders were assured that the letter was neither a hoax, nor a threat of revelation to the outside world, there was really only one acceptable course of action. Ted was packed off to Platform 9 ¾ on September 1st, with nary a single soul to mind him. The world of magic was one the Zygons could not afford to overlook. If the technology required for their endeavors would not exist for some time yet, perhaps there was a way to magically repair their ship. To say nothing of the possibilities associated with magical DNA manipulation.

Due to his utter loyalty to his cause (namely, the survival of his race), Ted had been sorted into Hufflepuff almost immediately. He immediately began to search for the information requested by his elders, all the while doing his best to blend into the background. Upon learning that anything electronic reacted violently to magic, he turned to the fields of Potions and Healing. It was a great relief to the Zygon leaders to learn that the methods used by the magical world seemed to have no negative effect on Zygon physiology, magical gene or no magical gene. That there was a readymade excuse to snoop under the guise of another in the form of Polyjuice Potion was a tremendous discovery as well. It allowed Ted an excellent opportunity to set up both an intelligence network and a somewhat black-market, all the while keeping his cover. A few temporary alliances were made here and there, mostly to gain access to things he could not otherwise obtain, or in the rare case he needed an actual alibi to avoid having the same face seen in two spots at once. It was on one of those rare occasions he was introduced to Andromeda Black.

She was a student of Healing, much like him. And also like him, she was utterly loyal to the concept of family. That in itself was enough to impress Ted, especially in a Slytherin, a House renown for its tendency to stab even the closest of friends in the back. But what really drew him to her was her intelligence. It took a mere three meetings, two of those under someone else’s face, for her to work out that he was the true driving force behind certain shady deals on Hogwarts’ black-market. After an interrogation of her cousin Sirius on the source of some of his prank ingredients, she had effectively trapped Ted into divulging at least some of his secrets to her, in the understanding that she wanted nothing more than a position in his network.

Ted wasn’t about to settle for giving such a remarkable witch something as little as that.

Within the month, she was his second-in-command, as well as his undercover girlfriend. Secret meetings were so much easier to pull off when one could arrive wearing someone else’s face every single time. The fact that Andromeda’s position in Slytherin shot up due to her seeming “in” with the Moriarty of Hogwarts was just icing on the cake. It was only once they discovered through Ted’s network that a certain fate was planned for all three Black sisters that their plans for the future were thrown into disarray.

Deciding that for once, his loyalties lay more to the witch he wanted to spend his life with than with his brethren, he disclosed every single secret he had to Andromeda under an Unbreakable Oath. After he was done, he fully expected her to pack up and leave him behind to marry the other Rebastan Lestrange, the brother to Bellatrix’s fiancé. She surprised him be declaring that as far as she was concerned, he and Sirius were her only family, and she would stick by him. They were married Christmas break of their Seventh year, and once the Black family had done their screeching and hollering, upon graduation they immediately began working at St. Mungo’s.

That is, until they found out Andromeda was expecting.

Up until that point, the coming war had barely registered to the Zygons. Why should they bother? They could hide far better than any others, especially when there was no one to look for them. But the child…the offspring of a Zygon and a witch…that certainly set their attention firmly on the wizarding world. And on exactly what the consequences could be should the Tonks family choose the wrong side.

There was really only one thing to do: Andromeda took a leave of absence, and was immediately hidden by the Zygons. Ted, no matter how much he would have liked to follow, was forced to remain at St. Mungo’s. As the only first-hand source of information on the war, as well as the casualties, it had to be that way. And if a few experimental genetic procedures were tried on the produced corpses, well, what was the harm?

It was only once young Nymphadora was born that Andromeda and Ted switched positions. The war was really beginning to ramp up, and while no one would dare attack a Black (disowned or not), a Muggle-born was still a target. To seal the matter, certain breakthroughs in genetic alterations of base Zygon DNA were coming faster every day, and as the only truly magical off-worlder, Ted’s own DNA and blood were needed for comparison.

The very first time Nymphadora was caught masquerading around as a young Zygon, the resulting celebration by the head scientists might as well have come from legend. Apparently, she had inherited a magical condition known as “Metamorphism”, allowing her to go even further beyond a Zygon’s natural copying abilities and change any aspect of her appearance at will (with enough practice). Once it was discovered the condition had been documented for centuries, speculation of other surviving Zygon ships landing in the past and choosing the same course of action as they had began to rear its head. If there had been any others, what had happened to them? As far as could be determined, Nymphadora was the only known Metamorphagus on the entire planet. Had the earlier survivors simply blended into society completely, knowing the odds of repairing their vessel were miniscule? Or had they been found out and deliberately targeted? There was just no way to tell for certain, the records long since lost.

Things were further thrown into chaos when the final breakthrough was achieved: inserting the magical gene into an adult Zygon. To avoid the current unpleasantness in the magical world, the test-subject was allowed to go back to his normal occupation and life, doing nothing to draw attention. There would be no magical training for him until much later, if at all. No, his job was considerably simpler: produce an offspring, and then compare the results to the ones already obtained.

One year later, and the job was done. But for Ted Tonks, the hard part was just beginning. The child could not be raised in the normal world: while lacking in full Metamorphism, it had already been confirmed to have the magical gene. And the Zygon leaders were unwilling to risk having two of their precious descendants in such proximity to each other, meaning the Tonks family would be unable to raise them. In the end, a somewhat risky course of action was decided on. Andromeda was currently the healer for one Molly Weasley, pregnant with twins. The fact that only one of the children was expected to live, while regrettable, played perfectly into their hands. And so it was that, when the expected event occurred, Ted-as-Andromeda removed the stillborn babe…and replaced it. The Zygon child did as Zygon children do, and upon grasping his new brother’s hand, forged the telepathic link required for permanent copying. The Weasley family praised the unexpected miracle, and blessed the Tonks family profusely. Thus was the continued presence of the Zygons in the wizarding world assured.

Fast forward a number of years. The Dark Lord was destroyed, and the war finished. Nymphadora went to Hogwarts, as had her father and mother before her. She knew the truth of her heritage, of course, and as such was trained to be on the lookout for other genetic samples that the Zygons had as yet failed to obtain. Once she entered service as an Auror, and began meeting magical things of the more exotic variety, her task became ridiculously simple. Vampires, Acromantula, Werewolves, these and more she acquired, the resulting information compiled and sent back to the Zygon leaders at every opportunity. The Weasley child, however, was kept in the dark. The best kind of spy was the kind that didn’t even know it was one, after all. And the information shared by the twins over their telepathic link was recorded for all Zygons to use.

No more magical Zygons were created or born after that. The calculations had been run for the maximum number of magicals that could travel on the escape ship without the odds of something disastrous happening, and the maximum had (for now) been reached. The Zygons’ full attention was turned to the normal world, and instigation of the required developments in technology began in earnest.

And then the unthinkable happened: the Dark Lord from the previous magical war had, somehow, found a way to come back from the dead. And knowing full well that the both He and his followers held no love for magical “creatures”, as they would no doubt be labeled, the Zygon command decided that, at least for the time, it would be wise to withdraw entirely from the magical world.

Ted sighed, and leaned back in his chair. The replacement for the Weasley twin was already in place; Polyjuice potion really worked wonders when it came to faking deaths. His own potioned and mind-controlled double was also ready for deployment. All that remained now was to explain the situation to Nymphadora, and her husband the werewolf. Yet another development the Zygons had been ecstatic to see; a child with the genetics of a Zygon, a pureblood witch, and a magical creature was something they would dearly like to get their hands on. The survival of the parents was now a top priority, one that Ted had absolutely no problem with. Andromeda either, for that matter. Once their deaths were successfully faked, they would be taken to Baskerville, there to remain in seclusion until the war was over, one way or the other. Should things end poorly, well, the ship was almost spaceworthy once more. And should things turn out to be fine, there were hundreds of other magical communities scattered across the globe. Ones whose methods of magic may be a bit more compatible with technology. An undercover assignment was likely, for everyone involved with the magical side of things.

But that was in the future. This was the present.

And Ted Tonks had a very long explanation to give to a certain werewolf.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

19) DC VILLAINS

 

Fic Title: “All The Best People Are Crazy”

 

Accompanying Song: “Mad Hatter” by Melanie Martinez

 

“NOOOOOO!”

Harry’s scream barely registered to Remus. He was too busy doing his best to hold the boy back, to keep him from following his godfather into…whatever that was.

A single tear slid down the werewolf’s face. Sirius…why? Why couldn’t you, just for once, take things seriously? You had her…you could have beaten her…instead, you taunted, you showed-off…just like you used to do in school. And now…

Now Remus was the last true member of the Marauders.

His arms closed entirely around Harry, more for his own comfort than the lad’s. There was no coming back from this…the last line had been crossed. Voldemort had officially taken everything he could from Harry. His friends lying injured, possibly dying, a few rooms back…his parents, killed in his place so many years ago…and now his godfather, a man Harry had barely gotten to know in the short time they had spent together.

No more.

“It’s okay, Cub. We’ll get her…we’ll get them all. Everyone that hurt you…everyone responsible…we’ll stop them. With whatever it takes.”

Harry began to shudder in Remus’ arms. At first, he took it for silent sobbing, an activity he was well acquainted with. And one he would probably collapse into as well, once he would afford the time. But it was when the first sounds since the screaming escaped Harry’s lips that he knew the cub was doing the exact opposite of crying.

He was laughing.

“Heh-heh…hee-hee…ah-HAAA-HAAA-HAAA-HA! HEEE-HE-HE-HEEEE! AAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA! OOOO-HOO-HOO! HA-HAAAAAA!”

Remus let go in shock. “…Prongslet?”

The laughing didn’t stop. Harry skipped forward a bit, his hands bouncing in the air. “OOOO! EVERYONE RESPONSIBLE! THAT’S A KILLER! GET IT? KILLER? AAAAAA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!”

Harry did a half-pirouette in the air, and made a deep bow to Remus upon landing. “Thank you so much, Moony, for making things perfectly clear! For the first time, I can SEE! And yes, we will do whatever it takes. Starting…” Harry pointed his wand at the ceiling, “…now!”

A jet of flame shot upwards, striking the until-then hidden roof above. It began to spread, burning its way upwards. Remus collapsed in horror at the sight, the Fiendfyre above reflected in the now deranged eyes of his cub. “Harry…you can’t burn down the Ministry...”

Harry gave another skip. “Oh, I’m not, Killer. You see, I’m only burning half. The half full of the planners, the schemers, and the plotters. The half…directly above us.”

Remus had barely blinked before Harry had hoisted him up in the air by his jacket. “You work for me now, Killer. I’m the one running this show. And what a show it’s gonna be!”

The hands at his neck disappeared, leaving Remus to hit the ground with a thud. With a groan, he pushed himself up. “Harry…”

The boy halted in his merry path merely long enough to correct him. “Harry’s not home right now, Killer! You can call me…the Joker!”

Deranged laughing echoed throughout the building long after the boy disappeared from sight.

Remus could only lay on the floor and wonder exactly what sort of monster it was that Bellatrix Lestrange had accidentally unleashed on the Wizarding World.

 


 

Dumbledore was not happy.

While he had planned for Harry to follow Tom’s vision to the Ministry, with Severus widening the connection under the cover of Occlumency lessons, he had most certainly not planned for so many children to willingly follow him in. If anything were to happy to any of the Weasley brats, he was quite sure Molly would tear strips off of him, blind loyalty or not. At least some of the plan had been carried out successfully: Sirius Black was now, beyond a doubt, dead. Blood trackers never lied, and Dumbledore took great comfort in that. The last barrier to Dumbledore’s complete control of Harry Potter, forever eradicated.

It was safe to say that was the only thing that had gone correctly. Once Sirius’ life signs ended, the ones tied to young Harry had gone absolutely mad. Then, the magic recorders inside the Ministry had followed, no longer registering any but the most deadly of curses being flung. It seemed that in his rage, Harry was resorting to any means necessary to secure his revenge.

That alone would not have been cause for alarm, if the very first spell he had cast had not been Fiendfyre. And aimed at the ceiling.

The wards on the Ministry would eventually contain it, but the damage done before then would possibly be upwards to half of the building. To have Harry lash out thus, with no specified target, planted all sorts of doubts as to how good of an idea it had been to have Severus pry open the connection to Tom. One Dark Lord was bad enough; two was unthinkable.

When the exchange of spells finally moved into the Ministry Atrium, and thus to where Dumbledore had planned to reveal Tom’s continued existence, he Apparated down…only to find the room virtually intact, with no spell-fire to be seen anywhere.

What was to be seen however, was a sight that had Dumbledore quaking in his slippers. A giant smile had been painted across the entire floor, the glistening red leaving no doubts as to what had been used for the material. The body of Bellatrix Lestrange suspended from the ceiling left very little room for speculation as to exactly where that much blood had come from. With her mouth slit open in a hideous grin, and a trickling lightning bolt carved in her head, she resembled a vampire caught in the act of feeding, and then strung up to underline a point.  

“Ah-hah! At last, the ever popular Penguin sees fit to grace us with his presence! Tell me old man, did you leave the Batman and Catwoman behind at Hogwarts, or are they merely…hanging around?”

The laughter that followed the voice would have been enough to scare Dumbledore on its own, but it was when he realized exactly who it was that they both belonged to that he was tempted to turn and run.

Harry Potter sat directly underneath Lestrange’s body, the blood from her smile dripping every so often onto his head. The droplets in his hair were matched by the ones coming from his scar, cascading down the side of his face. In the shadows, one could easily mistake his hair itself for being the source of the blood, the trail coming from his forehead merely the evidence of some horrific cranial trauma.

But Dumbledore was not so mistaken. And the blood coming from the boy’s scar told him all he needed to know about the only important injury in the room.

Barely managing to keep his voice even, Dumbledore asked a single question. “What have you done, Harry?”

Harry twirled a knife in his hand. “Oh, you know, this and that. ‘This’ being the lovely lady directly above me, and ‘That’ being the interesting fellow that you just missed.”

Dumbledore took a deep breath. “Am I correct in assuming you allowed Voldemort to escape, Harry?”

“You mean old Clayface? On the contrary, my dear Penguin! It seems no one ever told out flat-faced friend it’s generally not a good idea to try and possess someone like me!”

“And what kind of person is that, Harry?”

“Why, someone who Life’s been good to, of course!”

Harry dissolved into giggles at his little joke, leaving Dumbledore more confused than before. “So, you drove him off then?”

“Drove him off? More like drove him in! Poor little Clayface; utterly unprepared to deal with the truth of life. His teeny little mind just went…POOF! And then, so did his body!”

The laughter resumed once more, echoing harshly throughout the Atrium. While waiting for it to subside, Dumbledore subtly readied his wand. If Harry’s mind had shattered under the strain Voldemort had subjected it to, then it was likely that…

“The rest of him is still trapped inside me, yes, I thought that was obvious.”

That stopped Dumbledore completely. “…How did you…”

“Know what you were going to say next? Why, that’s quite simple. He told me.”

“He? Who is ‘He’, Harry?”

“Oh, no one important. Just the fellow that told me it would be a good idea to smash that prophecy over there.”

Dumbledore’s eyes traveled to where Harry had pointed. To be precise, to the pile of broken glass on the floor.

“No prophecy, no Voldemort, and quite a few dead bodies lying around. Should keep you and your friend the Minister busy for quite a while yet. Oh, don’t worry about your precious Weasleys. Our mutual friend Killer is already looking after them, as well as the rest. More’s the pity; I rather anticipate you could have used the excuse to vacate the premises. How does it feel to be the one stuck for a change, Penguin?”

“I’m afraid you’re just as stuck as I am, Harry. I cannot allow Voldemort to roam free, even if his mind has been, as you say, broken. Neither of us will be walking away from this.”

“Ah, but you’ve overlooked one very important thing old man! Penguins don’t walk…they waddle!”

And with that, Harry Potter disappeared from the Atrium, just as the first Aurors burst into the room. The minute the first fireplace lit up, a cloud of cards exploded from where Harry had been sitting, completely obscuring every inch of the floor, minus the giant bloody smile painted on it.

And one other glistening message Harry had left behind underneath Lestrange’s corpse:

WHY SO SERIOUS?

Dumbledore had no choice but to raise his hands in surrender, as there seemed no end to the wands now pointed in his direction. A single card became stuck in his spectacles, the image of a grinning Joker now obscuring the right side of his vision.

Very well. That was the card Harry and Voldemort chose to play? Then Dumbledore would play his entire hand. And hope that it would be enough.

 


 

“You know, you always were Two-Faced, Ron. It’s just easier now for everyone to see it.”

Ron jerked in his infirmary bed and snarled at the source of all of his problems. “You! You bloody idiot! Look what you’ve done to me!”

Joker took in it all; the Cognivore had latched onto the right side of his face but good. Now there was practically nothing there beyond a few torn strips of muscle, and one eyeball sticking out. He shrugged. “Looks the same to me.”

Ron merely thrashed harder, trying desperately to get at the one person he hated most in the world.

Joker conjured a chair and sat. “Now, I don’t want there to be any hard feelings between us Weasley. I just want to let you know that, when you were being devoured by those brain-eaters…I was off fighting somewhere else. I didn’t break those cages.”

Ron gave one final jerk. “Your battle. Your plan.”

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan. You know what I am? I’m an owl chasing Snitches. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! I just, do, things. Malfoy has plans; Dumbledore has plans; the Minister had plans. They’re schemers; schemers trying to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how…pathetic…their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say that you getting your face ripped off wasn’t personal…you know that I’m telling the truth. It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer; you had plans. And look where that got you.”

Joker released the restraint on Ron’s arm, and immediately held it down to keep him from lashing out. “I just did what I do best; I took your little plan to be the best friend of the Boy-Who-Lived, and I turned it on itself. Look what I’ve done to Hogwarts with a few spells and couple of disobeyed orders, hmm? You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan’…even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow, I say that a bunch of Muggles will be tortured at a sporting event…or a man will get his soul sucked out in a Ministry cover-up…nobody panics, because it’s all part of the plan. But if I say that one, little old Dark Lord, has come back, well then everyone loses their minds!”

Joker pulled out Ron’s wand from where he had recovered it in the Ministry, and slapped it into his hand. “Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair.

Ron pulled out his DA coin and held it up for Joker to see. “You live.” Flip to the other side. “You die.”

Joker smiled. “Now you’re getting it.”

The coin went up in the air…and then came twirling back down.

Chapter Text

I own nothing. Least of all this.

 

20) DC VILLAINS PART TWO

 

Fic Title: “All The Best People Are Crazy”

 

Accompanying Song: “Mad Hatter” by Melanie Martinez

 

 

Dolores Umbridge smiled and sipped her tea. Her last day as Headmistress of Hogwarts may have passed, but in the end, she had revealed the Potter brat for what he truly was: a dangerous maniac, prepared to murder upstanding citizens in cold blood to prove his point. And the fact she had suffered severe injuries at the hands of both him and his precious centaur friends insured she would be lauded for her actions.

A mop of red hair came around the corner, heralding the return of Percy Weasley. While he may not have participated in her Inquisitorial Squad, he was fanatically loyal to the Ministry, and he had proved his worth by taking care of a good deal of her remaining paperwork during her recovery.

“Two visitors for you, ma’am. They say they’ve got important information on Potter, and would like to get a head start on the competition for the reward.”

Ah yes, the reward. Her precious Cornelius had put out a truly enormous sum for the brat; fifty thousand Galleons dead, double that alive. Personally, Umbridge didn’t think he was worth a single Knut, but needs must to get results. Especially when that old fool Dumbledore had agreed to support Cornelius in his search, of only for a chance to get Potter back under control. Umbridge snorted. As if the brat had ever been under control to begin with.

She gently put down her tea, and nodded. “Very intelligent of them. Send them in, Weasley.”

The first person to enter was one Umbridge would very much have liked to avoid; Madame Longbottom was one of the few people she feared, and the only reason she had done nothing to her heir. The vengeance of a Longbottom could be a terrible thing. Still, the fact that young Neville was in her office now as an informant could perhaps lead to a more…understanding…relationship in the future.

The second was obviously some kind of hired help, judging by his appearance. Well, that and the fact he was carrying a rather bulky bag of some sort. Probably evidence Potter had left behind. Her favorite, the Malfoy Heir, came up the rear, obviously as a guard. Good idea; one could never tell with the servants.

Longbottom stepped forward. “Madame. While Harry Potter may have been may been my friend for many years, as of this moment, I am forced to admit that to me, Harry Potter no longer exists. For the greater good, I have done what was necessary. Bag!”

The servant stepped forward, and carefully laid the object on her desk. With a downward stroke, the material parted to reveal the face that had haunted Umbridge for her entire term at Hogwarts, albeit now sporting a rather disturbing group of slits on either side of his mouth.

Longbottom’s voice continued. “I had heard something about a reward, but that was secondary for me compared to the chance to do the right thing.”

Umbridge looked up with a crocodilian grin on her face. “And the right thing you have done, Mister Longbottom. I believe the reward for dead was fifty thousand Galleons.”

A pair of hands grabbed her from behind and spun her around. She just had time to see Longbottom and his servant grab Weasley and Malfoy respectively before a hated pair of green eyes were staring into hers.

“How ‘bout alive?”

She reached for her wand…only for her chin to hit something sharp on the way down. A knife.

Potter leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “Do you want to know how I got my scars? My uncle was…a Muggle. And a brute. And one night, he comes home from work angrier than normal. He beats me to within an inch of my life, yelling the entire time about how I deserved to die with my parents. Me? I’m lying on the floor, crying my eyes out, trying not to move and make things worse. My uncle laughs, and picks me up by the throat. Why so serious, he says. He pulls out my aunt’s kitchen knife from the block. Why so serious? He sticks the blade in my mouth, and then…”

Potter looked past her to the other occupants of the room. “Why so serious?”

And that was the last thing Dolores Umbridge knew.

 


 

Joker wiped the toad’s blood off of his knife. “And thus passed Amanda Waller. Now, while we may be a small operation, there’s a lot of potential for aggressive expansion.”

He first removed Percy’s wand, and then Draco’s. “The problem is, there’s only one spot available, so we’re gonna have…” the two wands snapped in half and clattered to the floor. “…tryouts.”

He walked past, Killer and Scarecrow dropping their captives and following. “Make it quick.”

 


 

Auror Dawlish was rather enjoying his Daily Prophet. He always knew the Potter boy was Dark; had to be, to defeat a Dark Lord. Now everyone else knew it too, and the Minister himself would be giving a speech shortly to that effect.

Dawlish couldn’t wait.

Footsteps heralded the return of the bartender; just in time, he needed another…

His eyes widened in horror as he realized who it was that was standing in front of him.

“…They said you were dead.”

Ron Weasley downed his glass of whiskey in one shot. “Really? News to me.”

He leaned forward, his wand glowing red. “Now; who was it that had the Aurors removed from the Department of Mysteries?”

Dawlish gulped. “Must’ve been Malfoy…”

A fist slammed on the bar. “SHUT UP! Are you telling me you’re Malfoy’s only stooge in the DMLE?”

“Listen, I had no idea what was gonna happen to you kids!”

“That’s funny...”

A coin went spinning.

“…cause I have no idea what’s gonna happen to you.”

The coin stopped.

A moment’s pause.

Then a red light left the end of Ron’s wand.

 


 

Lucius Malfoy stepped into his Wizengamot box. For once, he was glad that Potter tended to chase what was currently the most important thing to him at the moment. He had seen the pictures of the carnage Potter had left in his wake; his wife had become sick at the one of her sister. Nevertheless, Potter had done two tremendous favors to him, three if you counted killing Bellatrix: he had once more removed the Dark Lord from the public sphere, granting a much welcome reprieve until he should once more regain a body. And he had allowed Sirius Black to be killed, thus clearing the way for Draco to be named the Black heir. Well, provided Potter was officially classified as a felon, and thus unable to inherit.

Which was what he very much hoped this Wizengamot session would accomplish.

Making a deal with Dumbledore had truly been a stroke of genius; the old man desperately wanted the boy back under his control. For whatever reason, Lucius didn’t care. All he cared about was that Azkaban was notorious for breaking individuals that were…strong-minded. After making his escape from where Potter’s friends had left him trussed up, he had immediately gone to his stooge Cornelius, only to find the man already interrogating Dumbledore for all he was worth. For once, Lucius found himself on the same side as Amelia Bones, as they both pushed Fudge and Dumbledore to tell all they knew of the events of the night. Specifically, the ones following the death of Sirius Black.

The official story had quickly been decided upon: Harry Potter had taken up the mantle of Dark Lord, and had used the return of Voldemort to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes as to his true purpose. He had attempted to sway Sirius Black to his side, and when he failed, he had executed the man. Then, he had cut a swath through those broken out of Azkaban by Black, being stopped only by the appearance of Dumbledore. Dumbledore had been merely been playing along with Potter’s acting, hoping to have the Azkaban escapees and Potter wipe each other out. It had sounded somewhat close to what Lucius suspected Dumbledore’s actual plan had been, minus the Dark Lord, of course. Best not to mention that little tidbit.

As Lucius sank into his seat, a voice came from his right. “Your wife not joining you?”

He turned…and saw Ron Weasley sitting there, lit wand in hand.

Lucius laid his cane across his lap. “…No. Not today.”

“Hmm. Cleaning up after a certain recent visitor, I imagine.”

“…Yes.”

“Tell me. Who gave the order for there to be no Ministry security?”

“…If I tell you, will you let me go?”

“It can’t hurt your chances.”

“…Pius Thicknesse.”

Weasley’s other hand came up holding a coin.

“You said…”

“I said it couldn’t hurt your chances.”

He flipped the coin. “…You’re a lucky man.”

Lucius relaxed his grip on his wand.

The coin flipped once more. “…He’s not.”

Lucius’ brow furrowed in confusion. “Who?”

“The Minister.”

A red jet of light flew through the air…and Lucius Malfoy knew no more.

 


 

Severus Snape sat drinking in his office. So, Voldemort had tried to possess the Potter brat. More power to him; the two people he hated most in this life, trying to destroy each other. Personally, he was ecstatic over the outcome Dumbledore had reported: the two, locked forever into Potter’s now irreparably damaged mind, possibly forever, since the prophecy stated only they were able to kill each other.

This was the first time Severus had drunk in celebration in quite a while.

Without warning, ropes wrapped themselves around his chair, holding him fast. Three sets of footsteps, moving in time with each other, brought into his sight the individuals that would dare attack him from behind.

“Potter. Longbottom. And Lupin. The freaks.”

Potter twirled a knife in his hand. “And I thought my jokes were bad. So, that was how easy it was to sneak up on the infamous Batman. Pretty pathetic wouldn’t you say, Scarecrow?”

Longbottom tilted his head. “Ture, but considering most of his alarm measures were meant to alert the Penguin, who will not be returning to the castle anytime soon, I’d say it wasn’t too disappointing.”

Snape sneered. “You fools. Dumbledore will always come to protect me. I’m his most valuable asset, more so than any of you.”

Potter clutched his chest. “My wounded heart! Alas, he speaks the truth! To the Penguin, he truly is more valuable than any of us! That is why we’ve insured he will not be arriving any time soon. After all, only the Minister can lift a shutdown on transport from the actual Ministry. And with the Minister dead…well, I don’t think anyone will be bothering us for some time.”

“Fudge is dead?”

“So a little bird tells me. A little bird! That’s a good one!”

Potter cackled wildly.

Longbottom took the opportunity to step forward. “Can I have him first, Joker? He’s spent the last five years tormenting me; I’d love to show him the true meaning of fear.”

Lupin growled. “No way; he’s the one that set Sirius up to be killed. I want to rip his arms from their sockets.”

Potter held up his hand. “All in good time, my fellow freaks. First, there’s a little story I’d like to tell him.”

Snape shivered at how the two’s eyes lit up at that.

Potter slowly walked forward, and then grabbed Snape’s chair and tilted it backwards. The knife hovered right in front of his nose. “Now, my mother was…a genius….”

 


 

Joker removed his knife from the Batman’s mouth. First, he had given him a matching lightning bolt scar, the same as he had to Bellatrix. Really did have to find a better name than that…he’d work on it later. Then, he had given him the trademark Joker smile, permanent, and unhealable. Bella’s cursed dagger really was a fantastic find. But the Bat wasn’t dead yet, oh no. That was for the others to handle.

“He’s all yours, boys.”

He sat back and watched as Scarecrow and Killer began their bloody work. Truly, the both of them were marvels in their respective areas. At first, he had been tempted to give Neville the name Poison Ivy, but he didn’t want Harley getting any ideas. And Scarecrow was just so good at finding what other people’s fears were…and then exploiting them.

A little bird…that had been a fantastic joke. He’d have to tell Canary when next they met…

But first, the Bat had to die, and then the Joker had a date with his Harley.

 


 

Harley Quinn, formerly Luna Lovegood, lifted the giant hammer off of what remained of Dolohov’s face, and then stuck it back in her magically-expanded bag. “I’ve always wanted to do that; a pity I’ll never get the chance to try it on Draco Malfoy. Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to settle for Malfoy Senior, whenever they clear him from suspicion in the Minister’s murder.”

The voice of certain brunette witch drifted from down the hall where it was currently doing its best to crack Dolohov’s safe. “I thought Lucius was mine, since he’s the one responsible for what happened to me in second year.”

Harley rubbed her chin. “You make a fair point. But did he arrange for your mother to die in a supposed accident just to insure there wouldn’t ever be another male contender for the last name Malfoy?”

“…I have to admit he did not. Fine; we’ll split him. Literally, if I can keep him alive through it.”

Harley clapped her hands. “Oh, goody!”

A loud click came from down the hall. “…Safe’s open. Let’s grab everything, leave our calling card, and then get the hell out of here and meet up with Tonks.”

“You mean Canary?”

“Oh, is that what Joker named her? Makes sense, I suppose. Then yes. And pudding afterwards.”

“A simply marvelous plan!”

As Harley skipped back to her partner-in-crime, she was pleased to hear her rhyming under her breath. “Riddle me this, riddle me that, why does a Death Eater dress all in black…”