Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 35: The Legacy of Katalysator Part II
aka the megachap… part two
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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 35: The Legacy of Katalysator Part II
September 1, 1945
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland
“Lockhart, Sigmund,” Dumbledore called from his spot beside the spindle-legged stool, upon which laid a hat that had just finished singing a song. Sigmund sped towards the stool without an ounce of the nervousness that had been shown by his peers. Granted, he was a transfer student to Hogwarts, as opposed to a wide-eyed first-year entering the school’s hallowed halls for the very first time.
Already, Sigmund could tell that the education at Hogwarts would be far different from that at Katalysator. He wondered — not for the first time since the defeat of Grindelwald — what had become of the underground facility that had been his home for most of his life. He couldn’t say he missed it, per se, but he also couldn’t say that he was a fan of the muggle orphanage he had been assigned. There was nothing wrong with it, really. The children were all treated fairly well, but Sigmund had been forced to grow up very fast at Katalysator and he felt years older than his contemporaries in the orphanage. There was also the fact that he was unaccustomed to being unable to use magic whenever he pleased. It was probably the shift that he was least happy about.
He had ridden the train alone that morning to Hogwarts. A few people had popped in and introduced themselves but none had stayed for long. No first-year wanted to sit with a third year, even if they were both new students — that prospect was simply far too intimidating. On the flip side of the coin, the third years all had their friend groups established and none of them had ordained to branch out during the ride. Sigmund didn’t blame them. He had never really associated with anyone at Katalysator except for Simon and, in the beginning, Ivan. After his duelling victories, everybody had turned on him rather quickly, so he had merely associated with the one person he had known he could count on.
Thoughts of Simon — more specifically, the image of his glassy-eyed form lying face-up on the hard, cold stone floor of Katalysator — were still rather painful, but Sigmund tried to force all of those thoughts from his mind as he stepped forward and took his seat on the rickety stool. He noticed a small spark of recognition had lit up in Albus Dumbledore’s eyes.
‘Hmm,’ mused the soft voice of the Sorting Hat upon being placed atop his head, ‘you have the potential to be rather difficult, Sigmund… or is it Gideon?’
‘Sigmund, please,’ he thought. He liked the name Sigmund, and though he honestly could not say he looked back at his time in Katalysator fondly, it was a part of him that was important. Such an important part of him like that shouldn’t simply be discarded and forgotten. With some disgust, he realized Shevchenko would probably have told him that. That was another topic that made his blood positively boil. Shevchenko — Grindelwald’s right-hand man, as far as Sigmund knew — had gotten off with only three years in Azkaban prison. He had given up names of high-ranking officials in the empire, and in exchange, the ICW had granted him a lesser sentence in Azkaban.
‘Sigmund, then,’ the hat agreed. ‘You have had a very interesting life already, haven’t you? I am most sorry for your friends and family, but the experiences have made you great.’ Sigmund thought the comment a touch insensitive, but he didn’t disagree with the hat. If Katalysator had taught him any lessons worth keeping, it was that sometimes a blunt approach was the best and that one would have a rather difficult life if they didn’t possess a thick skin.
‘You are wise beyond your years,’ the hat told him. ‘Rowena would roll over in her grave if I did not christen you an eagle but, then again, Godric and Salazar would kill for such a protégé.’
‘What about Hufflepuff?’ asked Sigmund. He had read up on the four houses in a battered copy of Hogwarts, A History that he had managed to purchase second-hand with the small number of galleons he had been given to go shopping. He thought he was quite hardworking.
‘Oh ho! Is it Hufflepuff you want?’
Sigmund tried to give the mental equivalent of a shrug but was unsure if he succeeded or if such a thing even existed at all. ‘I don’t really care what house I’m in, I was just surprised you didn’t mention it.’
‘Ah yes. You do fit all four houses in a sense, but I think we can rule out Helga’s, bless her soul. You fit it, most certainly, but far less so than the other houses. You are wise beyond your years and you have pursued knowledge for much of your life. But then again, from the age of six, you desired to escape and to take revenge. You wanted to be strong enough to hurt those who hurt you. If that is not the definition of ambition, I don’t know what is!’
‘And Gryffindor?’ Sigmund prompted inquisitively.
‘Well, you would not be sitting in front of me without the traits Godric most cherished. You have a resilience that Gryffindor house is well-known for. Any number of the things in your life could have broken you. Yet you stand before me — as a matter of speaking, of course — as strong as any who have ever taken your place on this stool before. You faced death and did not cower, but spoke your mind. Yes… it is difficult, very difficult, but I think you will do quite well in—’
Sigmund stood far more calmly than the others. He caught a small, nearly imperceptible smile on the face of Albus Dumbledore as he made his way to the Gryffindor table. One of the third-year boys shuffled down several seats to allow Sigmund a spot, something he was thankful for. It would have been rather awkward had he been forced to sit with the first years.
“Welcome aboard!” the boy told him with a charismatic smile and an outstretched hand. “The name’s Prichard, Simon Prichard.”
Sigmund felt his heart skip a beat at the name. Another Simon. Bitterly painful memories swam to the forefront of his mind once more, but he did the best he could to shove them down as ruthlessly as he had the feelings of isolation, fury and despair after the death of his former friend.
“It’s nice to meet you, Simon,” said Sigmund, taking the hand of the boy who would quickly become one of his best friends. “The name’s Lockhart, Sigmund Lockhart.”
September 3, 1945
The Transfiguration Classroom, Hogwarts
“Master Lockhart.” Professor Dumbledore’s voice rang through the class as the bell to signify its conclusion sounded through the castle. “If you have a moment, I would be profoundly grateful if you would spend it chatting with me.”
Many of the students would have snickered at the man’s remarks, but since his defeat of Grindelwald, most of Hogwarts simply looked at Dumbledore with slacked jaws — even if he had taught them Transfiguration for years.
“I’ll wait for you,” Simon told him, but Sigmund just smiled back at him and waved him off.
“Don’t bother. I don’t want you to be late for class on my account, and I’m not sure how long this will take.”
Simon shrugged in acquiescence, leaving Sigmund alone in the room with the man whom he had last seen duelling Gellert Grindelwald.
“I take it that you remember me?” asked Dumbledore, sounding more curious than anything else.
Sigmund nodded. “Yes, sir. I don’t think I can ever forget, I doubt I’ll ever see anything like that day again — let alone forget about it.”
“Let us hope that you must never see such things once more. My preconceived plan, Master Lockhart, was to ask how you were managing the drastic shift in culture and pace. Though, seeing as you outperformed all of your peers today in my class with what appeared to be little to no effort, I fear my question may be needless.”
Sigmund hesitated. “It’s… very different, sir. I’m not worried about the wanded subjects, but I think I may be behind in a lot of others.”
Dumbledore seemed to hesitate before asking his next question. “Sigmund, please refuse a professor’s prying if it is in any way unwanted, but — and I ask this in the strictest of confidences — what truly happened in the facility of Katalysator?”
Sigmund’s eyes widened. “Did it not say in the papers, Professor?”
“It did,” Dumbledore said carefully, but as he did so, he pierced Sigmund with that blue-eyed stare. “But we both know that the papers did not tell the full story.” At Sigmund’s look of surprise, Dumbledore sighed, and he suddenly looked how Sigmund thought he ought to fifty years from now. “Come, Sigmund, surely you noted the familiarity with which myself and Grindelwald addressed one another?”
Hesitantly, Sigmund nodded. “You knew him, sir, didn’t you?”
“Knew him? Oh, Sigmund, that is not a strong enough piece of terminology. But yes, I knew Gellert Grindelwald. I dare say I once knew more about the man than any being, dead or alive. Consequently, I know that Gellert’s primary philosophy — well, aside from the greater good which he preached, of course — was that no action should be taken without definite and precise reasoning. Gellert would not have merely imprisoned children for the sake of it as the papers across the globe seem to universally believe. Gellert was many things, but a psychopath was not one of them. A more apt description would be an extremely high-functioning sociopath whose intent led him very far astray. With this in mind, I can say with the utmost certainty that Grindelwald had a very definite purpose for Katalysator. If you do not wish to discuss it, I will of course respect that as your right. But if you would be willing, I would be immeasurably grateful.”
Sigmund sighed. “Can you answer a question of mine if I answer a question of yours, Professor?”
Dumbledore looked surprised by the query but nodded quickly. “You need merely only ever ask for me to part with bits of knowledge that I have collected over my years. For the sake of your proposal, however, you have yourself a deal.”
Sigmund hesitated. “It was a sort of school,” he answered. “They started teaching us history when I was six and magic came a year or so later. We started with small stuff but worked our way up. The better you did in class, the more opportunities you got.”
Dumbledore’s brow furrowed. “Is it safe to assume that your freedom was rather limited while under the care of Grindelwald’s empire?”
Sigmund nodded. “We were only allowed out of our rooms for lessons, meals, and restroom breaks; or the library, if we were granted special permission.”
Dumbledore sighed. “So it was a facility to train and condition the next generation of Gellert’s forces.” He looked disgusted. “I cannot, in all honesty, say that I am surprised.” He fixed Sigmund with that same, penetrating gaze. “I will allow you to ask your question, but first, is it also safe to assume you are rather far ahead of the Hogwarts curriculum for your age?”
“Only in the wanded subjects, really, but yes, I’m rather far ahead in those.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I shall make this class more interesting for you then,” he decided before taking on a resigned look. “You may now ask me your question. The only things I would ask you to avoid are questions centring around Gellert and the duel you witnessed.”
That was perfectly fine with Sigmund since he was planning to ask nothing of that sort.
“Well, sir, I was wondering if you know where Emily Riddle is now or what she’s doing?”
Sigmund could have sworn he saw something flash in the professor’s eyes, but it was gone so fast he could neither register nor analyze it appropriately.
“Emily Riddle has taken up a position at a rather, how should I say… questionable establishment.” Dumbledore fixed him with a hard look. “I would advise you not to pursue that avenue, Sigmund. Though, if you must know, she took up a position at Borgin and Burke’s — a shop in Knockturn Alley.”
He hesitated before making his next statement. “If you must pursue a meeting with her, please be on guard and know that it would be best if you were not seen in Knockturn Alley.”
Sigmund nodded his understanding. “Thank you, sir.”
June 21st, 1946
The Hogwarts Express
Finest of greetings,
The most marvellous institution that is Hogwarts thanks you profusely for your dedication and eagerness with your education this year and we eagerly await your return next September!
Wishing you the most satisfactory of summers,
Order of Merlin First Class
Enclosed was the list of passing and failing grades and Sigmund’s individual grades themselves.
They had never been graded at Katalysator and it was a sort of rush he had not experienced before to look down and feel his chest swell with pride, even if he had known he would score very well — at least in the wanded subjects. He had been asked to perform magic like that since he was ten or eleven.
Hogwarts built students up, Katalysator threw them to the wolves. For many of the pupils of Katalysator, that formula broke them. But for those who embraced it, they quickly jumped far ahead of their contemporaries, who were bound to more traditional lines of education. Hogwarts cared about pumping out dozens of competent witches and wizards each and every year. Katalysator, as Sigmund now understood, cared about producing the best soldiers possible, even if many never quite made the cut.
“Oi, Sigmund, you okay?” Simon Prichard asked him.
He shook his head, ridding himself of the memories. “Yeah, thanks, Simon. I sort of spaced out there.” Then, he looked down at the parchment once more.
Sigmund Lockhart has achieved:
Ancient Runes – O
Arithmancy – E
Astronomy – A
Care of Magical Creatures – E+
Charms – O+
Defence Against The Dark Arts – O+
Herbology – A
History of Magic – A
Potions – E
Transfiguration – O
Sigmund had expected the low grades in Astronomy, Herbology and History of Magic. His history teachings had been rather selective and biased at Katalysator, and they had not focused on Magical Britain. Besides, it was rather difficult to catch up when the professor specialized in putting a group of students to sleep. As for Astronomy and Herbology, the fact that he had passed at all was rather miraculous. They had never bothered with it at Katalysator, and he’d found himself so far behind his peers in September that it had been quite laughable.
He wasn’t that bothered with Astronomy, if he was honest with himself. If he ever needed it, he would grab a star chart and that would be the end of it. He just didn’t see the value in knowing it, and it seemed like more of a waste of time than anything else.
Sigmund wanted an O+ in Transfiguration, but knew that such a thing would be a stretch, with Dumbledore teaching — the man just expected so much of him. He would have also liked an O in Potions, but they had never spent a whole lot of time on them in Katalysator.
Perhaps next school year he would ask Professor Slughorn for some additional assistance.
“Let me guess,” interjected Simon with a roll of his eyes. “Straight O’s in the wanded subjects?”
Despite himself, Sigmund smirked as he passed the parchment over to his best friend. “See for yourself.”
August 14, 1946
Borgin and Burke’s, Knockturn Alley
It did not take Sigmund long to realize after entering the alley exactly why Professor Dumbledore had advised him not to be caught here all those months ago. It was a sketchy place, full of magic that he knew Britain’s government would classify as ‘dark’.
He had been taught that dark magic did not exist, but if truth be told, he wasn’t really sure what to think on the matter. If nothing else, any magic designed to kill or torment was on his personal shit list.
It had taken more than a week after he received his Hogwarts letter to slip out of the orphanage and make his way to the alley. By now, he had acquired all the necessary items, but he had one more thing to do.
If he were any other thirteen-year-old boy, Sigmund would have been terrified to enter the dingy shop that was Borgin and Burke’s. As it was, he had seen far more than any kid his age had the right to, and frankly, after watching three titans go to war in the courtyard of Katalysator, he couldn’t say that there was much in the world that scared him. The things he was nervous about were more mundane — if Emily wasn’t in, how would he explain his presence? If she was in the back and he asked for her, would whoever was working the front actually fetch her? If he did manage to see her, would she recognize him? And if she did, would she even care?
All of those thoughts were washed away when he entered the sketchy establishment to see the tall, stunning girl with raven-coloured hair examining something on a shelf with a fair bit of interest.
He tried to speak twice before he finally managed, but when he did, his voice was surprisingly even. “Emily?”
Upon hearing her first name, Emily paused and stiffened, slowly turning around in a fairly defensive posture.
When her eyes landed on Sigmund, there was a split second of confusion before her face split into a radiant expression. “Sigmund! Is that you? I wasn’t sure we would ever meet again!”
Sigmund nodded and stepped forward to meet her, finding himself rather surprised when the older girl wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close to her for a few seconds.
“Did you attend Hogwarts this year?” she asked him when they broke apart, ignoring the faint blush that had risen on his cheeks.
“Yes,” he told her. “It was a bit… different from what I was used to.”
Emily’s eyes darkened. “I can imagine,” she commented, tapping her wand on her wrist and displaying the time in analogue form. “Technically, I’m not supposed to be on break for another ten minutes, but Borgin isn’t exactly one for enforcing rules. Would you like to get lunch in Diagon? If you have the time, of course.”
Sigmund hesitated. “I have the time, but I don’t, uh… have the money.”
It was a rather blunt admission but completely true. The money he was granted each summer from Hogwarts was enough to cover his school things if they were purchased second-hand, but barely.
Emily just waved her hand and smiled at him exasperatedly. “I would hardly ask you lunch and make you pay, would I? That would be quite rude on my part, especially since you took the time out of your day to come and find me.” She glanced around the shop before speaking. “I do hope you realize the crowd that frequents Knockturn Alley. I would feel guilty if you were hurt on my account.”
“I do,” he assured. “I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I’ve seen a lot worse. It takes a fair bit to worry me nowadays.”
Emily nodded her acceptance of that statement and quickly summoned a fashionable purse with a wave of her wand. She led him out of the shop and back up towards the main alley.
As they walked, Sigmund couldn’t help but notice the absence of the hungry stares that had bored into him on his initial journey down Knockturn. It wasn’t difficult to realize why. Danger positively dripped from Emily. He had no idea how she did it, but her entire demeanour screamed ‘do not cross me.’ Sigmund would have found it astonishingly impressive had he not seen the young woman duel Gellert Grindelwald to a near stalemate while still in her seventh year at Hogwarts.
They discussed a great number of things during their lunch together at one of the alley’s nicer establishments. Emily asked him about Hogwarts and his grades, expressing her congratulations at the O+’s he had achieved.
When he mentioned Slughorn, her eyes gleamed.
“I’m not really sure how I should approach him about help,” Sigmund admitted. “We… uh, weren’t really encouraged to ask for help in Katalysator.”
Emily just smiled at him. “Oh, that will be no trouble. Tell him I send him my regards and that he is more than welcome to owl me.”
Sigmund didn’t understand the hidden context there, but he accepted her words quite easily.
When they had finished, Sigmund thanked her gratefully once more for saving his life and she again just smiled at him. “I would hardly let somebody as adorable as you die, would I?” When he blushed, she smirked and gave him a mocking pat on the head. “How are you getting back to the orphanage?”
He shrugged. “I’ll just walk.”
“With that trunk?” she asked, indicating the bulky, secondhand model he had purchased. It wasn’t equipped with Shrinking Charms, since those models were out of his financial range and the ban on underage sorcery made doing so himself impossible.
He shrugged again. “I bought it last summer. I’ve done the trip with it a couple of times.”
“That… is a travesty,” Emily declared. She pulled her wand from her robes and twirled it elegantly through the air in complex patterns that Sigmund thought resembled runes he had seen in the back pages of his textbook. Some — most, if truth be told — he didn’t recognize, but Emily only took a minute before sliding her wand up her sleeve. “Done,” she told him. “From now on, just tap the trunk with your wand to shrink it and do the same to restore it.”
Sigmund gaped at her. Those kinds of charms cost dozens of galleons and she had just casually done it for him, free of charge. “How do you just do things like that?” he asked her, perplexed.
There had been a time when Sigmund had thought himself a sort of prodigy. Then he had met Emily Riddle and he knew that he would never match what she had been capable of at eighteen. If he was a prodigy, she was a once in a lifetime talent — if not a once ever.
She smirked. “As I recall telling you that first day, I am simply better at magic than most.”
Sigmund just rolled his eyes.
“You should teach me,” he said, only half-joking.
There was a long pause in which Emily appraised him, but she smiled softly at him. “Ask me that again in a few years and I might reconsider.” She stood, offering him her hand. “Come on, I’ll apparate you back to the orphanage. I still have ten minutes left of break and it will save you an hour of walking.”
November 6, 1947
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Sigmund was walking on eggshells as he fingered his wand whilst walking down a particularly dark and shadowy corridor one Thursday night in early November.
That summer he had been made the fifth-year Gryffindor male prefect. He considered it a massive achievement, especially when considering all the adaptation he’d needed to do following his arrival in the UK.
An adaptation that he was still very much working on.
Luckily for him, he had crafted quite the reputation since his arrival at the castle more than two years earlier. He had continued his prowess in the wanded subjects and was unanimously considered the most talented student in the school. His Arithmancy grade was creeping up, and he was determined to score an O on the O.W.L. exam that awaited him in June. His Potions grade had soared, largely due to the help of Horace Slughorn — who had suddenly been all too willing to help him after they had spoken about Sigmund’s friendship with Emily.
It was something that perplexed him greatly, but he was hardly going to complain. The man had been a massive aid, both in and out of classes.
One area he hadn’t adapted quite as well in was his communication skills. It was by far his biggest downfall as a prefect. Cassandra, the other fifth-year prefect, was a million times better at it than he was. She had a calm, cool countenance and seemed to radiate a quiet sort of confidence.
Sigmund was different.
They hadn’t exactly been encouraged to give orders in Katalysator. They had been far too busy taking orders. Communication wasn’t something they had spent a whole lot of time working on — not in this sort of way, at least. Subsequently, Sigmund largely chose to lead by example and let Cassandra lead through her words. She had been trying to coax him into speaking up more recently, in her own sort of way, but he was quite reluctant to come out of that shell and risk making an absolute ass out of himself.
None of that was currently on his mind, though.
In less than forty-eight hours, Gryffindor would open their Quidditch season against Slytherin. Sigmund wasn’t a Quidditch player, but he still had a vested interest in the match.
For one thing, the Slytherin versus Gryffindor rivalry was as old as Hogwarts itself and as intense as any feud Sigmund had ever witnessed. For that reason alone, he wanted his house to triumph, but it was far more complicated than that.
That rivalry tended to escalate during the build-up to matches, which made his life as a prefect absolutely hellacious. It was unbelievably stressful trying to keep everyone in line whilst the tensions in the castle were so high, and that was the precise reason why Sigmund was currently ready to draw his wand at any moment.
It was fortunate that was the case, for a high-pitched scream sounded from somewhere nearby.
In a flash, Sigmund’s wand was in his hand and he had located the fray with a hasty Homenum Revelio. There were four people in a nearby classroom, and it was in that direction Sigmund charged.
When he realized the door was locked, he cast a Silencing Ward on the corridor and blew the classroom’s door off its hinges. Three wands turned on him right away, all belonging to upper-year Slytherins. Two of the assailants found themselves disarmed and lying face-down faster than they could fire a spell. The third did get off a nasty curse which would cause the skin to become extra vulnerable to the elements and risk long-term damage, but Sigmund had him bound faster than the boy could have ever anticipated.
The final figure in the room was Cassandra, who was slumped against the far wall. To Sigmund’s relief, she seemed to be both unharmed and fully clothed. That ruled out the darkest possibility right away, something the lone-surviving Lockhart was grateful for since he would have had no idea how to handle that if it was the case.
“Cassandra,” he breathed, rushing over to her at once. “Are you okay?”
She nodded mutely.
“They were t-terrorizing one of the first years, so I stepped in.” She winced. “They… didn’t like the idea of taking orders from a Gryffindor prefect and decided it was time to show me a lesson.”
Sigmund breathed out through his nose. “Thank Merlin you’re alright. Jugson — the one who got off a curse — is a really good duellist. It’s a miracle he didn’t get any hits in.”
Cassandra looked at the floor and mumbled, “I’m going to give up my badge.”
Sigmund looked incredulous. “You’re what?!”
“I’m going to go to Professor Dumbledore and give up my badge.”
“Why on earth would you do that?”
“Because I don’t deserve to be a prefect. This proved it; if I can’t defend myself or protect others, I don’t deserve to be a prefect. It’s just that simple.”
“Cassandra, that’s the single most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” She looked up at him with wide eyes, but he didn’t allow her time to interject. “That’s completely off the mark. Everyone has their strengths. We’re not all good at everything.” He hesitated. “I… was forced to learn how to fight when I was really young. I started learning magic way before all of you because, if I didn’t, I would have gotten badly hurt.”
Cassandra’s expression changed. It was now one of confusion and concern, but Sigmund continued before she could divert the topic of conversation, clearing his throat and ridding himself of the memories that came unbidden with his words.
“The point is, that’s why I’m good at magic. The thing is, both of us know I’m useless at being a leader.” Cassandra opened her mouth to argue, but Sigmund shushed her with a hand gesture. “Don’t argue. It’s true, and that’s okay. As I said, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I’m good at magic, but you’re the best leader we have in the house. If you stepped down as prefect, everything would go sideways within three days. We need you, Cassandra. Just because you’re not good at this one thing doesn’t mean you’re a useless prefect.”
A long beat of silence stretched between them.
“Do you really mean all of that?”
Sigmund nodded emphatically. “Yes, I do.”
“Okay,” she said softly, “I’ll stay on as a prefect.” She raised a hand to command his attention before he could comment on her proclamation. “I’ll stay a prefect on two conditions.”
He frowned; this had not been part of his plan. “What are your conditions?”
“One of them is that you teach me how to duel. I understand your point, but I refuse to be some helpless damsel in distress who can’t defend herself or back up what she says, especially if you want me to be some sort of leader.”
“Second,” she continued as if she hadn’t heard him, “is that you start being a leader.”
His mouth suddenly went dry.
“Because you can do it, Sigmund. I understand everything you’re saying about strengths and weaknesses, but you’re missing a major point. We’re supposed to work on our weaknesses, not hide from them.” When she saw the dark look in his eyes, she surprised him by reaching out from her seated position, taking his hand, and pulling herself upright. When she stood, she didn’t release her grip. “I can tell you have a reason for not wanting to, but you won’t regret trying it. Who knows, it might even help you get over whatever is stopping you from trying in the first place.”
She put on a perfectly persuasive face when she saw he was still obviously reluctant. “Do we have a deal?”
He sighed very deeply, but nodded.
June 26, 1948
Borgin and Burke’s
Sigmund left Borgin and Burke’s on one of his first days of summer between his fifth and sixth years of Hogwarts feeling more dejected than he had ever felt before. A lot had happened since that first meeting with Emily almost two years ago. He had continued his aptitude for the wanded courses and even raised his Potions and Arithmancy grades to O’s as well. As a direct result, he had been the male Gryffindor prefect the summer previous and he had even entered a rather enjoyable relationship with fellow Gryffindor prefect Cassandra Collins; the same muggleborn girl who he had saved and spoken with that fateful Thursday in November.
He had followed through on his promise to teach her to duel, and she had actually become quite good at it. She would never be a duelling champion, but she was more than competent and would have no trouble defending herself in the future.
Getting him to come out of his shell had been more difficult, but Sigmund had put in a conscientious effort. According to her, he was doing very well. He would never be the leader of the house — nor did she demand that of him — but he had taken steps in the right direction, which was all she had asked for.
Last summer, in addition to being named a prefect, Sigmund had spent numerous days at lunch with Emily. He had slipped away from the orphanage whenever he could, and she always seemed to have time for him. He had told her that he felt guilty about her spending so much money on his food and even buying him quality school supplies as well as several books, but she had simply shushed him and continued the arrangement.
She had become a kind of older sister to Sigmund, somebody whom he truly adored and admired.
Now, though, as he left Borgin and Burke’s after attempting to continue the tradition, he felt rather put out. Apparently, Emily had left the country due to her obligations and would likely not return for several years. It was probable that Sigmund would not see Emily again before he graduated Hogwarts, and that thought broke his heart.
June 8, 1950
The Potions Classroom, Hogwarts
Sigmund sighed with relief as he finished the final exam of his N.E.W.T’s. The year had been a rather stressful one, between trying to keep up on his classes and balancing that with his obligations as Head Boy and his flourishing relationship with Cassandra. As he packed his potions kit away for the final time, Sigmund remarked on the changes in his life.
“Sigmund, m’boy!” Slughorn boomed. “Would you mind staying behind for a little chat? Nothing to worry about, of course.”
Sigmund nodded respectfully and allowed all of his classmates to file out before turning to Slughorn.
“You’re a remarkable young man, Sigmund,” Slughorn told him. “All of your professors rave about your ability and the improvements you’ve made in this class over the years have been astounding!” He smirked. “Being a charming, handsome young lad doesn’t hurt your case either, I dare say, but that’s hardly relevant, now is it?”
Slughorn tittered at his own joke and Sigmund responded with a warm smile. If not for Dumbledore, Slughorn would likely be his favourite professor.
“I was wondering, m’boy, with a brain like yours, what you wanted to do now that you’ve passed through Hogwarts with flying colours?”
Sigmund hesitated. He knew the answer, but he was not entirely certain it was the one Slughorn wanted to hear. “I think I want to try my hand at duelling again, sir.”
“You have duelled before?” Slughorn asked, now intensely interested.
Sigmund’s eyes darkened.
“Whilst I was under the thumb of Grindelwald,” he said quietly, causing Slughorn to pale. “I actually enjoyed it, though,” he added quickly. “I was the youth champion before coming to Hogwarts and I’m miles better now than I was then. I’d like to try my hand at it, I think, but I’m honestly not entirely sure where to start.”
Instead of looking disappointed, as Sigmund feared, Slughorn positively beamed at him. “Well, m’boy, that is precisely why I asked. An old man like me does have some connections, you know?” He chortled. “Why, I daresay you would be the first of my old Slug Club members to go the route of duelling. We are expanding our empire every year!” he joked, but Sigmund got a distinct impression that he was only half-joking.
After a long and informative conversation, and some contact information that Sigmund was genuinely grateful for, he exited the room to see a familiar small, slim blonde waiting for him.
“What did he want?” Cassandra asked after standing on her tiptoes to peck him on the lips.
Sigmund smiled fondly down at her as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Let’s just say, I think I might be able to get us into an apartment faster than I had thought.”
February 3, 1958
The Home of Sigmund Lockhart
I know you likely believed you would never see me nor hear from me ever again, but I think it’s high time I get over myself and pen the letter I should have penned to you a decade ago.
If truth is to be told, Sigmund, I have feared for many years what you may think of me. I could make all of the excuses here that are expected of me. I could tell you that Grindelwald forced me to shove propaganda down your throats. Though this is true, it is hardly a good reason for doing so. I could lie and tell you that I was under the Imperius Curse, or blackmailed, or whatever else I could come up with.
The truth is that I willingly followed Gellert Grindelwald for reasons that I cannot reveal to you. That is, at least in the beginning. Katalysator was the catalyst for the opening of my eyes, which is rather ironic because, though I know not how much of your German you maintained, Katalysator is the German word for catalyst. Ignoring my rambling, once I saw that Grindelwald sought to manipulate and brainwash children to use in his army, I began to have second thoughts. These thoughts led to a thorough but subtle inquiry into the true atrocities Grindelwald and men like Shevchenko planned to commit. After that inquiry, you do not know how painful it was to address Shevchenko as anything less than a monster.
If you have not pieced together the events from the final night of your stay at Katalysator due to your age at the time, allow me to enlighten you. When I saw that the other side was gaining some traction in the war, I made my move. Suffice to say, I contacted the right people and gave them some rather valuable information in exchange for guaranteed protection upon the conclusion of the war. The strike on Katalysator that freed you and the others was orchestrated primarily by myself, as was the final siege on Nurmengard days later.
What I am trying to convey through all of this is that I am not a terrible human being and nothing would give me more pleasure than to see my first true son again.
I thought it prudent to inform you that I have sired a daughter, though I am unknowing whether you will care. The boy she will one day marry shall be born in the coming months. He is from a rather prestigious family but will take on my surname when he eventually marries my daughter. Another clause in this contract is that I have a certain say in the boy’s name, as his family had in the name of my daughter, Adriana.
I have never asked anything of you before and regardless of your feelings towards me, I would like to ask for your blessing to name the boy Sigmund, after you.
Your internal strength, fortitude and resilience still awe me to this day, just as I still and will always recognize you as the son I had always wished to have.
Please respond promptly; I will not judge you for whichever route you take in your response.
I wish you the very best in every regard of your life, and your success on the international duelling stage has brought me much pride. I cannot wait to see it continue.
Lord of the House of Weitts
Sigmund considered himself a rather strong person, but at that moment, he could not stop the tears of genuine happiness from rolling freely down his cheeks.
It would be in that state that Cassandra would find him an hour later.
September 24, 1960
The tension inside of the specially constructed arena was tenser than any in attendance had ever imagined was possible, let alone experienced in person. It had been a full decade since the World Duelling Championships had taken place on English soil, and nearly four since one of their countrymen had represented them in a world final on said soil.
In the 1960 World Championship Final, however, there would be a Brit taking centre stage to battle a man who had been undefeated for longer than England’s wait to host the championships.
Not many gathered in the full capacity crowd honestly believed that the twenty-seven-year-old Sigmund Lockhart had a chance against Igor Shevchenko. Many of the spectators held their collective breath out of nervousness for their champion and in anticipation of the bloodbath that was inevitably on the very near horizon. As a matter of fact, there was only really one woman sitting in the front row of the crowd who truly believed that a rather historical upset was fast approaching.
Cassandra Collins had now been in a relationship with Sigmund since 1947. By now, he had opened up to her about his past, and though she was more than nervous for her boyfriend to square off against the Warlord of Warsaw, she had complete faith in his ability to win. She had been positively blown away as well as moved to tears by his story, but above all else, Cassandra’s belief that Sigmund was the strongest person she had ever met had only been solidified. As much as she acknowledged that her long-time partner was set to take part in the fight of his life, she feared that he would lose control and cost himself the duel just as much.
Meanwhile, in his changing room, Sigmund battled hard for control of his warring emotions.
On one hand, there was pure, unadulterated ecstasy. He had finally reached the pinnacle of his chosen profession; the finals of the World Championship. One literally could not be on a grander stage than the one that Sigmund was about to take. In many ways, he had been training for this moment for twenty years, and he had indisputably been working towards it for the last ten, ever since his graduation from Hogwarts.
On another, there were nerves. He was duelling Igor Shevchenko. The man had taken up professional duelling after his release from Azkaban in 1948. Since then, he had been unbeaten and had won the last seven World Championships. Many of his opponents had been forced to retire due to his wrath, and two had even died in the arena.
Then there was yet another emotion that perhaps drowned out all of the others. Well, a blend of two emotions, if Sigmund was being completely honest with himself. A mixture of red-hot fury and adrenaline-driven anticipation.
Since the age of six, Sigmund had waited for the day he would have the power to claim vengeance on his parents’ murderer. Not only did he have that opportunity today, but he even got to do it legally. Sigmund had been furious when Shevchenko had given up names to assure a lesser sentence but, in a way, he had also loved it. It would mean that his opportunity for revenge was not lost.
Still, though, something about duelling the man who had taught him how to duel was disconcerting. He had heard of student versus teacher before, but this took the idiom to an entirely new level.
His thoughts were cut off by a loud, resounding gong that rang through the arena.
With a deep, calming breath, Sigmund pushed himself to his feet, clasped his wand tightly in his steady hand, and marched out of the changing room, preparing himself for what he knew to be the greatest test of his life.
When he entered the arena proper, the English crowd positively showered him in support, but Sigmund was no fool. He could sense the worry — if not fear and anticipation — in the atmosphere. The Brits supported their own, but most of them expected him to lose this battle.
He would make them all proud and give them something to cheer about, all while proving them wrong at the same time.
When Shevchenko walked out, a hush fell over the crowd. Sigmund and Shevchenko met in the centre of the arena. Sigmund wore a blue and gold duelling tunic while Shevchenko wore one that was red and silver — something that made Sigmund’s blood boil even hotter, if such a thing was possible at all.
“You could have been great,” Shevchenko told him simply as they met eyes, standing nose to nose. “Instead, you bit the hand that fed you and now you shall pay.”
Sigmund did not bother replying to Shevchenko’s message, he simply delivered one of his own — one he had been waiting to deliver for many years. “I’m going to destroy you. And if you mention my parents, I’ll do more than that.”
Shevchenko smirked and made a grandiose gesture to signify they should begin. Sigmund took his place opposite the man and they both bowed. Shevchenko’s bow was deep, sweeping and mocking, whereas Sigmund’s was barely enough to be considered a bow at all. And then, with the same gong that had signified the time for combat was coming, the duel began in earnest.
Shevchenko fired off four spells before Sigmund could even move, but with a long, sweeping gesture of his wand, a shimmering blue dome appeared around him. The dome absorbed the first spell, and Sigmund winced. It was not so much that he had forgotten the shocking amount of raw power that Shevchenko wielded so effortlessly, it was simply the fact that the last time he had duelled the man, Shevchenko was holding back to the point that it wasn’t a fair representation. The second spell shattered the barrier, but Sigmund managed to bat away the third and dodge the fourth. Before he could get anything else off, more magic was hurtling towards him.
Within the first five minutes, what Sigmund remembered about Shevchenko became evident. The man struck with speed the likes of which Sigmund had never seen. Well, Emily had matched it, if not surpassed it, but Sigmund had realized a long time ago that Emily was probably a once in a century type of sorcerer. Shevchenko could cast faster than anyone Sigmund had ever duelled, and at the same time, he put an absolutely terrifying amount of power into each and every one of his spells. He did not throw spells out there needlessly either, and they were all chosen with vicious intent.
“Every spell must have a purpose,” was what Shevchenko had told Sigmund at Katalysator all those years ago. “If your spell is not directly going to help you win, it is useless.”
The man was a monster, but Sigmund couldn’t call him a hypocrite — he most certainly practiced what he preached. Every spell that he hurled Sigmund’s way had the intention of ending the duel in a very violent manner.
After five minutes, Sigmund started to notice patterns.
Shevchenko didn’t use wand movements, but his sharp, dark eyes gave away where his spells would be directed. After he cast a chain of spells, Shevchenko would take a break. It was this that Sigmund chose to exploit. After every fourth spell, Sigmund would retaliate with a chain or high-powered spell of his own. Within two minutes of this, Shevchenko was fuming and Sigmund could quite literally see the shift in his demeanour. Perhaps Shevchenko had underestimated his former pupil; perhaps he had thought this duel was a sure win. Now, Sigmund saw the look of utter blank focus slide into place, and suddenly he knew that he was no longer facing the seven-time World Champion. Instead, he was squaring off with the Warlord of Warsaw.
Shevchenko slashed his wand towards Sigmund and for the first time during the duel, he incanted aloud.
Suddenly, three arcs of lightning hurtled towards him. With wide eyes, Sigmund recognized this spell, though he never thought he would see it in person. It was not as powerful as the lightning spell that Grindelwald had used during the Battle of Katalysator. As a matter of fact, Sigmund had never found any reference to that spell in any tome he had ever searched. Grindelwald’s spell seemed to command lightning itself; it seemed to interact with the earth and force the planet to provide him with lightning. Shevchenko’s variant simply caused the electricity to arc from his wand towards Sigmund, but the benefit here was that he could control each tendril of lightning individually; if he had gained an impressive level of mastery over the spell which — in Sigmund’s estimation — he probably had.
With more than a little bit of déjà vu, Sigmund borrowed the trick that he had seen used by the defeater of Grindelwald over fifteen years ago. With a complex twist of his wand, he conjured a lightning rod from nowhere, which simply absorbed the blast. With another swish of his wand, Sigmund transformed the lightning rod into an oversized spear, which he sent whistling through the air towards Shevchenko. The man tried to raise a shield, but at the last second, Sigmund forced the spear to split into three separate weapons. Though the first slammed into Shevchenko’s shield harmlessly and the second was dodged, the third pierced his ribs painfully and he staggered as he cried out in agony.
It had not been a fatal blow, nor had it even ended the duel, but that was the moment Sigmund knew the outcome was inevitable. Not only was Shevchenko frustrated and caught off guard by his opponent’s prowess, but he was now badly wounded and losing blood at a terrifying rate. He stumbled around the arena, his movement greatly compromised.
If it were any other opponent, Sigmund would have looked to end the duel right there and put them out of their misery. This was not any other opponent. It was Igor Shevchenko, the Lieutenant of Grindelwald, the murderer of his parents, Grindelwald’s Sensenmann, and the Warlord of Warsaw; and Sigmund was going to make him pay.
Ten minutes later, Shevchenko’s body slumped to the ground, unmoving. He was not dead — at least, not yet — but he was beaten, battered, and losing a terrifying amount of blood every second. The arena would have been hushed and concerned if they didn’t know as well as their champion did what the man on the floor had done. Instead, every single man, woman, and child in the arena were on their feet, stomping, applauding and cheering on their champion, Sigmund Lockhart. At the time, none of them knew that Sigmund would never be seen in a duelling arena again.
He had achieved his goals in that area, and now it was onto something that scared him far more than any duelist alive. It was time to start his family — something that he wasted little time in doing as, once he was interviewed after the duel, he wasted no time calling Cassandra forward and, in front of the entire crowd, Sigmund Lockhart got down on one knee and presented her with a ring.
January 26, 1961
St. Mungo’s Hospital For Magical Maladies And Injuries
For the first time since that day in the arena, Sigmund’s eyes shone with tears as he reached down and took hold of his baby boy for the very first time. It didn’t matter that Cassandra wouldn’t be able to bear any more children, as Sigmund had assured her on numerous occasions. The only things that mattered were the two things closest to him now. His beloved wife and the new love of his life, the boy he would cherish for many years until the day that he died, Gilderoy Gavriel Lockhart.
His shining eyes found the blue orbs of his wife, who was still splayed out on the bed, clearly exhausted from the night’s events. With a warm smile, Sigmund passed off his son. Seeing the two of them together — the two people who he cared for more than life itself — caused a warmth to rise within him. A warmth he had never felt before and would never quite experience again.
February 16, 1961
The Lockhart Family Home
It is my deepest regret that I have not had the opportunity to see you in many years. I have been mostly preoccupied with my own goals, but I would like to sincerely congratulate you on both your Duelling World Championship victory and, more importantly, the birth of your son.
I was in attendance during your duel and I must say that you have come a very long way since that day in Diagon Alley when you asked me to teach you to duel. I am extremely proud of what you have accomplished and one day, when I return to England full time, we shall meet again.
It was not the first letter of congratulations that Sigmund had received since either of the mentioned occasions, but it was perhaps the one which had surprised him the most. Giaus’s letter had certainly caught him off guard, but in retrospect, it was far more predictable than the curveball that had been sent his way by a witch whom he thought he would never hear from again.
He was snapped out of his thoughts by a loud, insistent wailing from nearby as his newborn son tried his utmost to gain his father’s attention. With a soft smile for his near month-old child, Sigmund got to his feet and shifted his focus onto a far more mundane thought pattern.
July 10, 1970
The Lockhart Family Home
“But WHY?!” Gilderoy asked his father in obvious frustration and dissatisfaction. “I want to be like you, Dad! You’re the best fighter in the world and you said you started when you were my age! Why can’t I?”
The tension at the dinner table suddenly thickened more than many would have thought possible. Sigmund froze for a moment before, with a clatter, his fork fell onto his plate and he put his cup down with an unnecessary amount of force.
“Firstly, Gilderoy, fighting and duelling are not the same. I was the best duellist in the world at one point, that’s true, but I was never the best fighter. Secondly, the keyword is ‘was.’ I retired as soon as you were born. And, thirdly, my reasons for not teaching you are things that no nine-year-old should ever understand.”
He didn’t yell — Sigmund never yelled. He had been yelled at far too often at Katalysator to ever yell at his own son.
“But WHY?!” Gilderoy repeated, his deep blue eyes widening as he seemed to implore his father to open up. “I just want to be like you, Dad! You started when you were young, so you must’ve understood. And you turned out perfectly! I want to be like you! I want to do everything you did!”
There was yet another long pause as Sigmund seemed to debate something internally. “Gilderoy,” scolded Cassandra, “listen to your father. Be respectful or go to your room.”
“No, Cassandra,” Sigmund said softly, and the attention of the rest of the room was drawn onto him.
“Sigmund, you can’t tell him! It’s as you said — there are things that no nine-year-old should know!”
“I don’t intend to tell him anything he doesn’t need to know, but he deserves to know the differences between me and him. And, to a point, he should understand.” He met eyes with his wife and there seemed to be a brief, silent debate before Cassandra sagged.
“Very well,” she sighed, sitting back in resignation, “I suppose this was always going to happen eventually.”
Sigmund peered across the table at Gilderoy. “You asked me why, Gilderoy? You want to know why I don’t teach you the things I learned at your age?” Gilderoy nodded eagerly, his eyes widening in excitement. “Well, the story starts with a man who was eviler than any other.” He studied his son carefully. “Have you ever heard the name Gellert Grindelwald?”
“I don’t think so,” the young boy answered.
“You understand that some witches and wizards don’t like muggles? You understand that some witches and wizards think they’re automatically better than muggles and even muggleborns because of their magic and their families?” Gilderoy nodded attentively. “That’s nothing new. That idea has been out there for longer than our family has existed at all, and for as long as that idea’s been out there, people have been eager to take a side. Some people believe the nonsense I just told you, and others are like me and your mother. We realize that an idea like that is stupid, but the problem is, both sides feel very strongly about their opinions, and both sides are very stubborn.”
“So they fight?” Gilderoy asked. This sounded a lot like what his mother had told him caused fights.
“Sometimes,” his father answered. “About fifty years ago, a very powerful wizard decided he would use this idea. He decided that wizards shouldn’t hide from muggles anymore and that we should rule them instead.” Sigmund scowled. “The thing that made this worse is that he also wanted to take over all of the wizarding world. He used the muggles as an excuse — as a way to get people to listen to him and help him.”
“He was Grindelwald?”
“He was. While he tried to take over, he took over cities and countries and every time he did, Grindelwald took the children from the people he had killed and he trained them. He tried to get them to believe what he was spreading. He tried to get them to be loyal to him so when they were older — when they had been taught to fight — they would stand alongside him and help him conquer the wizarding world.”
“He killed?” Gilderoy asked in astonished horror.
“Oh, Grindelwald did far worse than kill, but yes, he killed lots and lots of people.” Sigmund fixed Gilderoy with a piercing look. “You remember that I told you that my mum and dad, your grandma and grandpa, died when I was very young?” A nod of affirmation. “They did not just die, they were killed by Grindelwald’s men, and I was one of the kids he trained.” Gilderoy gasped, clasping both of his small hands over his mouth as he stared up at his father as if seeing him for the first time.
“The point of the story is this,” Sigmund told his son, maintaining firm and steady eye contact. “I learnt to fight because I had to. I had no choice but to learn. I also had to know for myself. I wanted nothing more than to escape that place and get back at the people who had hurt me. I wanted to help end the war, Gilderoy, because it was terrible. I never yell at you, never hurt you, and I have a house-elf do all of the chores. Your mother has told me for years now that I am too easy on you, but now you know why.
“I never had a childhood. I was a soldier, not a child. I want you to grow up and choose your own path. There is no war for you to worry about and nobody is trying to hurt you. The best duellists and fighters usually don’t grow up the way you do. The best way to learn something is when you have to learn it — when you have no choice but to learn it. You would have a disadvantage and you have no reason to learn to duel or to fight. There are so many other jobs out there that are so much safer and so much more enjoyable for most people. I don’t want you to have my life, Gilderoy. I don’t want you to be like me because I want you to grow up and live happily ever after. I never want you to go through what I went through. That is why I will not teach you to duel, and it is especially why I won’t teach you to fight.”
September 1, 1972
The Great Hall, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
‘Ah, another Lockhart, I see. I had wondered if I would meet another one of you. Your father was most interesting, but you are very different, aren’t you?’
Gilderoy shrugged. ‘He was older and more hard done by.’
The hat chuckled in his head. ‘Oh yes, he was indeed. I am not surprised that old Sigmund wanted you to grow up away from all of that. If what I have heard is correct, however, he may find that he should have perhaps taken a very different course of action.’
‘What do you—’ But the hat never let Gilderoy finish.
As soon as it cried out “RAVENCLAW!” for the entire hall to hear, Gilderoy had lost his chance at asking such a question.
June 20, 1975
Gilderoy Lockhart has achieved:
Arithmancy – E-
Astronomy – A
Care of Magical Creatures – E
Charms – O
Defence Against The Dark Arts – A
Herbology – E
History of Magic – P
Potions – A
“I’m so sick of it!” Gilderoy complained to his parents as they read over his end of third-year marks. “Just because I’m the only Ravenclaw in my year that doesn’t spend all day in the library or get O’s in every stupid subject, they call me an idiot!”
“They’re children, Gilderoy,” Cassandra comforted. “They don’t think before they speak. Most of the people who feel the need to put others down aren’t truly happy with themselves. They see other people who are happy and they feel jealous so they try to put them down.”
“Marks are important,” Sigmund spoke up, “your grades in Transfiguration and Potions should probably be better, and your grade in History is rough, but I’m not too worried about that.” Cassandra glared at her husband for that comment, but if Sigmund noticed, he didn’t show it. “In saying that, there is more to life than grades, and if there isn’t more to Ravenclaw than grades and the library, then that house has gone off course. It’s about happiness, Gilderoy, like I’ve always told you. The same reason I made sure you grew up the way you did. As long as you’re happy, everything else will fall into place.”
August 11, 1975
The Lockhart Family Home
The morning had been as mundane as Gilderoy had come to expect. Right up until the owl flew through the window. The same owl that always delivered his father’s edition of the paper.
That was when the morning had become much less mundane.
Sigmund lazily paid the creature, took hold of the newspaper, and actually gasped, paling drastically as his eyes seemed to bulge out of his head. Cassandra glanced over before having a similar reaction. Gilderoy had felt his heart rate quicken. He couldn’t remember a time where his parents had been so obviously flustered.
“Mum, Dad, what is it?”
“Nothing,” Sigmund said sharply, trying to stuff the newspaper away as Gilderoy failed to get a subtle glimpse of the front page. “Gilderoy, could you put the dishes away, please?” Gilderoy frowned. They had a house-elf for that, but he didn’t dare argue. He had never seen nor heard his father like this and it was not a state he wanted to challenge him in.
As he was doing the task set out for him, Sigmund and Cassandra quickly left the room and made their way up to Sigmund’s warded study. In Sigmund’s right hand was the offending newspaper — the one with the front-page headline and vivid imagery that had shaken the man to his very core.
The image depicted a confident, raven-haired woman standing amid a ruined street. Even in the picture, the tendrils of smoke curling into the sky were obvious, and an odd symbol hung in the sky. A massive skull with a serpentine tongue. Sigmund could imagine the thing sticking out that tongue as a way of mocking the fallen, who were strewn all about the street.
Seeing Emily amid such a terrible image had not shaken Sigmund nearly as much as the other dominating component of the image, one that was very obviously Emily’s handiwork. The street was painted with four large words, very clearly drawn in the blood of her victims, and they matched up perfectly with the headline of the article.
I Am Lady Voldemort.
June 18, 1976
The Hogwarts Express
Gilderoy Lockhart has achieved:
Arithmancy – E
Astronomy – A
Care of Magical Creatures – E
Charms – O
Defence Against The Dark Arts – A+
Herbology – E
History of Magic – A-
Potions – A
Transfiguration – A+
This year had been so different at Hogwarts. With the emergence of Lady Voldemort and the reign of terror that was slowly beginning all across the country, Hogwarts had been tense and its population divided.
Gilderoy had never been so grateful to be in Ravenclaw — a house mostly sheltered from the politics and conflicts that tore through the rest of the school like a bitter winter’s wind. Not only had the prejudice of some of the older students — particularly those in green and silver — reared its ugly head since the Dark Lady had announced her arrival, but there was a tangible amount of fear and wariness that lingered in the air anywhere one stepped within the massive castle.
While all of this weighed on Gilderoy Lockhart as he peered down at his rather disappointing grades, he made a decision. He agreed with his father that happiness was important. Now, just like his father, he would be entering a time of war. And just like his father, he also wanted to be ready.
October 2, 1977
The Library, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gilderoy Lockhart had never been so stressed in his entire life. As it turned out, actually putting effort into each and every one of his classes was a lot more difficult than he had expected. Particularly when considering he had only chosen to make that shift during his sixth year.
The work leading up to the O.W.L. exams had been taxing, or at least, he had thought so at the time. It paled in comparison to what was expected of N.E.W.T. students, and Gilderoy was now truly suffering the repercussions of lackadaisical behaviour for his first five years of magical education. He was currently reading a book on Transfiguration and trying to cross-reference examples for an essay due that very next morning. One he had barely started, as the concepts were just so far over his head.
“Knut for your thoughts, Lockhart?”
Gilderoy almost leapt from his seat at the unexpected voice behind him. As it was, he whirled around, ready to draw his wand. He wasn’t sure who he had expected to see. Perhaps Potter or one of his prats on some deluded mission to prank him. He hadn’t spent much time as their targets, but they had played a few small, annoying pranks on his hair that he hadn’t overly appreciated.
It turned out the speaker was not James Potter. Nor was it Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, or any member of Gryffindor House.
It was a quiet, dark-haired Ravenclaw in Gilderoy’s year. He didn’t think they had much spoken to each other beyond the exchanging of pleasantries here and there, but he knew the boy’s name, if not much else about him.
“That is my name, yes.” An odd sort of silence stretched on between them. “Was something bothering you, Lockhart?”
“Transfiguration,” grumbled Gilderoy.
Croaker quirked a brow. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you complaining about Transfiguration before.”
Gilderoy snorted. “Probably because, until this year, I didn’t care enough about Transfiguration to complain about it.
Croaker seemed to contemplate that before nodding slowly. “You have seemed to improve in your classes this year,” he observed. “You’ve been in the common room far less, as well. You could usually be spotted in there on most nights — until this year. May I ask what’s changed?”
“The world,” Gilderoy deadpanned. “Merlin only knows how this war is going to go. It’s picking up out there. You-Know-Who is operating from the shadows, but she’s becoming bolder. Soon enough, it’ll be warfare. I don’t like the idea of being unprepared.”
Croaker eyed him speculatively. “Why do you call her You-Know-Who?”
Gilderoy blinked. “Come again?”
“Why do you call her You-Know-Who? It’s a ridiculous name that makes no sense. She gave herself an alias. Even if we don’t know who she is, it makes much more sense to just call her Voldemort.”
Gilderoy frowned. “I… haven’t really thought about it. I… just sort of went along with what the rest were doing.”
Croaker’s lips twitched. “That’s exactly your problem, Lockhart. You follow when you shouldn’t. You just sort of rode the wave the first five years at school and now you’re paying for it. You’re following trends that make you look foolish.” Croaker’s gaze was hard now. “You have potential. You know that, right? Ever since you’ve started putting actual effort into the classes, you’ve done well. It shouldn’t have taken you this long — Merlin knows you always had a knack for Charms — but you’re getting there. And you know why you’re getting there? Because you actually took the initiative to act and stopped blindly following others.”
“What are you saying?” asked Gilderoy.
“I’m saying that you should start trusting yourself more and others less. It tends to lead to better results, in my own experiences.”
Gilderoy hesitated, but he couldn’t refute anything Saul Croaker had said. It was shockingly logical, now that Gilderoy was thinking about it. “I’ll… keep that in mind.”
Croaker nodded. “Please do.” Halfway to the library’s exit, he paused. “Oh, and Lockhart.” Gilderoy looked at him once more. “Start researching Manton’s law of Transfiguration. It will help you with that essay.”
Gilderoy let out an audible sigh as he clambered to his feet. He had a lot to think about, but first, he had a lot to write…
December 16, 1977
The Charms Classroom
Gilderoy beamed down at the perfect score stamped on the front of their mid-year test in Charms. Beside him, Saul was grumbling about his own E.
The two of them had formed a sort of tentative friendship since their encounter in the library. Gilderoy wouldn’t call them close, but they were certainly friends, of a sort.
When Saul looked over at his score, the boy just scowled. “Don’t get too high on yourself,” he muttered. “Just remember the roles were reversed in Transfiguration.”
Gilderoy winced. Transfiguration was still giving him trouble, and it was something he continued to struggle with no matter how much effort he put in.
“A trade, then,” he proposed. Saul looked confused, so Gilderoy went on. “I’ll help you improve in Charms, you help me improve in Transfiguration.”
The following pause was so long that Gilderoy thought for a moment he had bottled it. When Saul’s face split into a wide grin, he finally breathed a sigh of relief. “You learn well,” the boy complimented. “That, Gilderoy, is exactly what I meant by taking initiative.”
“We have a deal then?”
Croaker’s grin widened. “Yes, we have a deal.”
June 16, 1978
The Hogwarts Express
Gilderoy stared down at his grades with a gleeful expression.
Straight Os in both Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, and he had even scraped an O- in Transfiguration. With or without Saul’s help, he considered that fact nothing short of a miracle.
Saul himself had achieved an O in Charms, something that elated him greatly.
The two boys exchanged broad grins as the train began to pull into Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
“Well, Mister Lockhart,” said Saul with a wink. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”
“It has indeed, Mister Croaker,” Gilderoy returned, trying not to crack up all the way. “I look forward to our future transactions.”
April 14, 1979
The Lockhart Family Home
Gilderoy was home for the Easter holidays of what would be his final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Since his first conversation with Saul about a year and a half earlier, his grades had risen drastically. He could tell that his parents had been suspicious when he had deflected all questions about his newfound motivation, but neither had pressed him. He had the distinct impression that his father wanted to do just that. He thought it likely his mother was stifling those instincts; something Gilderoy was immeasurably grateful for. He had been talking to them during dinner about the project he was partaking in for his Charms N.E.W.T. when it happened — his father went rigid as a board and he quickly shot to his feet, sending his chair toppling backwards and causing his silverware to fall onto the table with a clang.
“Sigmund?” Cassandra asked concernedly. For perhaps the first time in Gilderoys life, Sigmund cut his wife off.
“Gilderoy, to your room, now. Cassandra, go to the master bedroom. Neither of you is to so much as move until I come and give you the all-clear. Do you understand?”
Gilderoy tensed. He had never seen his father like this. The closest he had come was the day the paper had arrived that announced the Dark Lady’s arrival, but even then, his father had not acted so rashly.
“Sigmund… is it…”
“We don’t have time. Cassandra, please.” She nodded, grabbing Gilderoy’s arm and dragging him away. His mother did not release it until he was in his room. Gilderoy did exactly as his father had told him. He did not move as much as a muscle… for the first few minutes, anyway.
Meanwhile, outside the Lockhart Family Home…
Sigmund was gripping his wand so tightly his knuckles were white. He was not scared, per se, but the feeling of dread and apprehension that had gripped his chest upon the triggering of the wards was something he had not experienced since that day at Katalysator all those years ago. The wards had triggered to confirm him not just of a presence, but of a breach — something that should not have been possible. The goblins had installed those wards personally. Barring their collapse, there should have been no way in hell for them to have been breached.
He could think of only two people alive and free who may have been capable of such a feat, a thought that was confirmed when he stepped out of his front door and into his large, expansive yard. Standing about ten feet away from him, leaning leisurely up against a tree and wearing simple black robes was a tall, black-haired woman whom Sigmund had not seen for nearly thirty years.
“Emily?” Sigmund said tightly, cautiously making his way towards her, his wand clasped tightly in his right hand.
Her posture served as a stark juxtaposition to that of his own. She was leaning casually, with her arms folded nonchalantly in a ladylike fashion in front of her chest. The thought of drawing her wand hadn’t even seemed to occur to her. Sigmund knew her to be far too clever for that. Either she was wholly convinced things would not devolve, or she thought she could somehow best him — a former World Champion duelist — without a wand. The thought did not exactly put him at ease.
“They don’t call me that anymore.” she chided him lightly but there was no heat to her words as she pushed off of the tree and took several steps towards him. “I would be quite upset if most people called me that, you know.”
“You don’t seem overly upset to me.”
Emily’s lips twitched. “For you, Sigmund, I shall make an exception.” She peered at him critically. “It has been so long; far too long. I had missed you. I would hug you, but you seem far too tense. I wouldn’t want to instigate anything that could devolve into something neither of us wants.”
“Are you threatening me, Emily?”
“Not at all. I like you far too much to threaten you like that unless the need arises, and threats have never much been my style.”
Sigmund’s eyes hardened. “You like me — the man whom you’ve written once in thirty years — too much to make threats?”
Emily shrugged. “I have been busy. When I first left England, I couldn’t write to you. I was under several vows of secrecy since I was still under the employ of Borgin and Burke’s. I was set to return to England three years after I first left, but during that time I had a falling out with Borgin, and we decided to end our professional relationship. To shorten a long, tiring story, I decided to extend my absence from England and travel far and wide.”
“And you’ve kept busy since returning,” Sigmund said neutrally.
Emily sighed. “And we have reached the point of possible contention so early into our dealings. I had hoped to save such points for later when we would hopefully be more reacquainted.”
“I was raised to not dodge around the point,” Sigmund retorted. “That got you in quite a lot of trouble, especially when you constantly spent time around the Warlord of Warsaw.”
He was not revealing anything overly private. The story of his relationship with Shevchenko had been shared with the media before his duel with the man nearly twenty years ago.
Emily’s eyes darkened. “I was rather disturbed to read of your relationship with him.”
Sigmund quirked an eyebrow. “Really, Emily? You must have desensitized a great deal in the past twenty years.”
“I do not harm children.” Emily’s voice was sharp and Sigmund had the odd impression he had touched a nerve. “I would not dare consider it unless I thought it a life or death situation.”
“I don’t know how to respond to that,” Sigmund answered. “It seems a rather noble place to draw the line compared to most everything else you’ve done.”
“You think I am a monster.” It was not a question.
“Not exactly. I don’t know what to think.” He peered at her critically. “Is it safe to say Shevchenko’s death wasn’t… coincidental?”
There was no note of accusation in Sigmund’s voice. He’d have killed the man in their duel if he could have gotten away with it. Hell, he had tried — had done everything within the rules to do so — but the bastard was tough, if nothing else.
“The assumption is safe, yes. He approached me some time ago and I would have been a fool to turn down his service.” Her eyes darkened. “That doesn’t mean I trusted him, nor does it mean I could stomach him. He was sent out on… risky operations, and he never made it out of one of them.” Emily peered curiously at the boy she had saved more than thirty years earlier. “Do you think less of me for that?”
“No. That bastard should have died years ago. I’m… impressed by the feat, to be honest. He was a fierce opponent, and even though I know that duel left his mobility in question, I can’t imagine he went out easily.”
“I imagine not. Scrimgeour did it; a young and talented auror, that one. He took quite a bit of damage in the duel, but his ambush was masterful, from what I was told.” She spoke with no emotion whatsoever. “If my goals had been achieved, I would have disposed of him personally.”
“That’s… a very casual way to speak of defeating a man like Shevchenko.”
“In the most respectful manner possible, I am not a duellist. You were ― are ― still incredible within your field, but to compare yourself to me in terms of magical ability is rather presumptuous of you.”
“I duelled the man and I knew Shevchenko better than probably anybody alive.” He was actually pretty sure Giaus knew him better than he did, but that was better left unsaid, and the point stood despite the fact.
“You are misunderstanding me. I am not discrediting Shevchenko. I am saying that any who would pose a challenge to a World Champion duellist would not be much of a problem for a true mage, let alone a centennial sorcerer.”
“I’m not sure of the difference. I have heard legendary duellists referred to as mages.”
“Yes, and such a statement is an improper use of the term and an insult to those who truly fit its meaning. A mage is a person capable of magic that puts them heads and shoulders above the rest of society. With no disrespect meant, no duellist would have a hope of competing. That is saying nothing of centennials.” When she saw Sigmund was obviously still confused, she elaborated, “A centennial sorcerer is a witch or wizard whose talent transcended the norms. They are beings who defined the century in which they were born.”
“Is that so?” Sigmund asked. If that wasn’t a threat, it was a very emphatic hint.
“Oh yes, I think you would agree with me if you truly understood. For example,” Emily turned towards the pile of logs that sat near the Lockhart family’s rather large fireplace.
She held out her hand, palm up and the wood rose into the air. With one quick glance back towards Sigmund, she closed her hand and, just like that, the wood was obliterated before his very eyes. It happened so fast he didn’t know how she had done it.
“There was no spell,” he observed, carefully.
“Spells are needless for masters of magic. Intent is the only thing that matters, Sigmund. Intent, power, and creativity. Incantations are simply optional. A way to guide the intent of one’s magic.”
“You’ve made your point, Emily, you can stop posturing. Why have you come here? Why have you gone to the trouble of breaching my wards?”
Emily looked him over. “You’re smarter than that, Sigmund. I think you know why I have come.”
“I think so as well, but I want to hear it from you.”
Emily paused for a moment before a small smile played on her lips. “How very sensible of you to keep a sort of high ground. Very well, as I am sure you well know, I have come as a recruiter.” Her eyes shone. “Years ago, you asked me whether or not I could teach you how to duel. Now is your opportunity. I will teach you everything you could possibly wish to know in regards to magic. In return, I simply ask for loyalty.”
Sigmund pursed his lips. “I think both of us know what I think of your actions, Emily.”
“Do you not think I have tried other avenues? Magical Britain is corrupt. It is polluted to its very core. We must tear the structure down brick by brick and build it anew. We must cleanse the sins of the past. We must shape Magical Britain in a new, brighter image. Surely you see the flaws? Surely you see the benefit in a revolution?”
“The country is terribly flawed, but I don’t see the benefit in terrorist attacks led by blood supremacists.”
She shrugged. “Blood supremacy is a useful lure to draw in support. I care not for the purity of one’s blood, I care about prowess and magic. I tend to abide by a quote you may know of. Blood matters, but ability matters more.”
Sigmund’s jaw tightened. “Quoting Gellert Grindelwald will not ingratiate me to your cause.”
“But you understand the message? Come, Sigmund, you were always sensible. Surely you see what is really going on? Without pureblood support, my campaign crumbles. When I have seized control, I can pull aside the facade of bigotry and enact my true plans.”
“What are your true plans?”
“I’m sorry, Sigmund. I need a vow of loyalty to divulge anything of that manner.”
“And what of your actions, Emily? Even if your intent is sound, what of your methods? Massacres? Terrorism? I can understand the initial message, even if I disapprove of it, but you’ve slaughtered so many.”
“Fear is a powerful catalyst for change. Magical Britain is not going to roll over and submit. It must be seized and then controlled, and there are those outside the Ministry who have always wished to oppose me. They have complicated matters, I must admit.”
“Dumbledore, you mean?”
She smiled bitterly. “Always Dumbledore. If you wish to blame any for my actions, blame him.” At the look of incredulity on Sigmund’s face, Emily waved her hand dismissively. “Come now. Surely you don’t believe a large scale revolution was my initial plan? It would have been so much different had this society not been foolish enough to deal one player so many cards.”
Sigmund didn’t entirely understand what she meant, but he was not going to show her that. “You fear him?”
She snorted. “I fear no one,” she answered defiantly. “It is he who has stayed securely protected in his tower, just as he did when Gellert Grindelwald ran roughshod over Europe.”
“But you haven’t attacked Hogwarts?”
“I have no plans to touch Hogwarts for my own, selfish reasons. To succinctly answer your question, the only thing I fear about Albus Dumbledore is the power he may have as a martyr. I do not wish to make one of him, so no, I will not actively seek a confrontation. Not until I know that he is truly the final obstacle.”
Sigmund sighed. “I can’t drag my family into a war. I cannot kill, I cannot help to build an empire. I will not aid a dark lady, not when the last dark lord I encountered marred my life more permanently than any single event could have done.”
There was a moment of unbelievable tension before Emily spoke. “I thought as much, but I hoped you would see reason. It is safe to say that you will never reconsider then?”
Sigmund met her dark blue eyes without defiance, but with a very obvious measure of finality. “It is.”
Emily truly looked pained, as if his words had struck her. “I’m sorry, Sigmund. You could have been an incredible addition to an incredible world. It is unfortunate that your past experiences have blinded you, but something I should have foreseen.” She dipped her head. “I suppose we have nothing left to discuss?”
Sigmund’s hand gripped his wand very tightly. “No,” he said, “we don’t.”
Emily nodded and, without warning, she melted into what appeared to be a cloud of smoke and drifted back out of the wards, flying away from the Lockhart family home just as easily as she had entered. Sigmund sighed, closed his eyes, and allowed himself an unguarded moment of sadness and mourning. He had lost the girl he had once idolized and he had a terrible feeling that this would not be the last time they would meet.
What had she said? She wouldn’t make threats without reason? If she was half as pragmatic as he suspected, potentially alienating a former World Champion duellist was a pretty good reason…
The feeling was mirrored by a disillusioned Gilderoy Lockhart, who loomed ten feet away from his father with a terror-struck expression plastered upon his invisible face.
July 4, 1979
The Lockhart Family Home
Gilderoy was shaken awake by a tremendous, earth-shaking sound that quite literally caused the house to rock and shake. At once, the recent Hogwarts graduate leapt to his feet and took a firm hold on his wand. He looked out his bedroom window, trying in vain to locate the source of the massive explosion of sound that had woken him. He could see only the full moon and the land cast beneath it, illuminated by its immeasurably powerful light.
Groggily, Gilderoy pondered what to do next. Before he could come to a solution, the door to his room swung open and his mother hurriedly stepped inside.
“Gilderoy, come here now! The floo, hurry!”
Gilderoy didn’t understand what his mother was trying to say, but her frantic behaviour was enough for him to follow her out of his room, ignoring the fact that he was wearing no more than a nightgown. When he entered the room with the floo connection, he was greeted with the near-hysterical visage of his mother and his stone-faced father.
“Mum, Dad, what’s going on?”
“They’ve come,” Sigmund said simply, looking up towards his only son. “The Death Eaters and I suspect their leader as well.”
Gilderoy’s heart skipped a beat. “D-D-Death Eaters? Does this have anything to do with the conversation you had with the ― with Voldemort?”
Sigmund froze, his posture straightening as he gazed towards his only son. “You knew?”
“I was disillusioned,” admitted Gilderoy with no small bit of sheepishness.
Sigmund sighed. “It seems I have failed,” he said sadly. “I wanted to raise you away from the need to be secretive and crafty. It’s not that I didn’t want you to succeed, but I wanted you to be happy above all else. I was never happy until you were born and when you live half of your life angry, frustrated and, at times, even depressed, it is the last thing you wish upon your child.” He stepped forward and rested a comforting hand on Gilderoy’s shoulder. “You have improved greatly. I wish you hadn’t, only because I wish it hadn’t been needed, but just know that, whatever happens, I am more proud of you than I could ever say. Not only for succeeding, but for doing it in spite of my failures.”
“Yes, Gilderoy, my failures. I should have learned a long time ago that happiness means different things for different people. I wanted to grow up innocent and free; I wanted that more than anything. What I never realized — not until your marks started skyrocketing — was that the only reason that was something I had always wanted was that it was something I had never had. You had that, but what you never had was the opportunity to be great and it was all because of me.” There was a great deal of obvious bitterness in Sigmund’s voice. “I was selfish, Gilderoy, I was so incredibly selfish. I projected myself onto you, just as Igor Shevchenko once did to me.” Gilderoy reared back at the name as if he had been struck. He knew that name.
“Yes, the one you are thinking of. When this is all over, go to Gringotts; there will be a will and memories.”
“Sigmund,” Cassandra stuttered out, “what is this foolishness? We’re going to be okay, we’re going to—”
“No, Cassandra, we’re not. The floo and apparition are ineffective and the wards will collapse any second. There is no way in hell all three of us are making it out of this, but I will do my goddamn best to make sure that the two of you manage it.”
“Dad?” Gilderoy asked with emotion, tears welling up in the corner of his eyes. “You can’t just give up! We can do this!”
Another explosion rocked the house and Sigmund winced as if the blow had physically pained him. “No, Gilderoy, we cannot. I watched Voldemort duel Gellert Grindelwald to a near stalemate at the age of eighteen. Now, we couldn’t beat her three-on-one. If your name is not Albus Dumbledore, you have no hope against Emily Riddle. You cannot win, merely survive. You two are going to survive. It’s me she wants; I’ll hold her off as long as I have to.” He turned to his son. “Gilderoy, you are brilliant with Charms. Cast the disillusionment over yourself and your mother. When the wards fall, I will meet Emily out in the yard and the two of you will get out.”
“I won’t leave you!” Cassandra protested vehemently. “I won’t let you fight her alone!”
“Cassandra, please. Help Gilderoy get out. If you fight with me, the only thing that will change is that both of us will die. I would prefer Gilderoy to keep his mother, and I love you far too much to let you die so pointlessly.”
When he saw the tears leaking from his son’s and wife’s eyes, he sighed. Stepping forward, Sigmund Lockhart wrapped both his wife and son in a hug filled with unspoken tearful goodbyes and rampaging emotions.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way,” he told them. “I won’t lie to you; I won’t sugarcoat anything.” For the first time, his voice broke, but he gained back a modicum of control quickly enough. “I was young when it happened. My parents never explained what was going on… I would have killed to say goodbye.” Before he could continue, the largest explosion yet shook the house and Sigmund staggered as a blinding flash of magic lit up the world around the property.
“And so it begins,” he declared grimly. Gripping his wand and blasting the front door off its hinges without warning. Gilderoy, trying his utmost best to control his sobbing, shakily made to cast the charm at his mother. Before he could, his father was sent flying backwards as a large, muscular creature sailed into the room. Gilderoy recognized it as a werewolf and as it reared to lunge at his father — whom it had knocked down by surprise — Gilderoy did the only thing he could think to do.
With a flick of his wand, he sent a Stunner towards the creature, but it dodged easily and lunged at him. Gilderoy sidestepped at the last second, displaying reflexes he hadn’t known he possessed and allowed the fully-transformed werewolf to crash headfirst through the wall. More of the beasts were lumbering towards the doorway and he could do nothing but turn to his mother and cast the disillusionment charm over her before turning to the door with his wand raised. His father was gone — he had evidently gone to confront the Dark Lady personally once he had regained his footing.
It was obvious she would argue, so Gilderoy did the only thing he could. He flicked his wand towards the back door, causing it to fly open before he cast a low-level Banishing Hex towards his mother — sending her flying out the backdoor before turning to the werewolves. He knew he would die fighting them, so he was going to do the one thing he thought himself capable of: get the creatures as far away from his mother as he could. Without thinking, he lunged through the werewolf-shaped hole in the wall and just like that, pandemonium broke out at the home of the Lockhart family.
It didn’t take Sigmund long to find his target.
She was standing just past the ward line, strolling forward casually as she twirled her wand between her long, pale fingers. Her eyes found him long before he drew near, but she didn’t attack. She just let him approach, right until they were in range to fire spells.
“You still won’t reconsider?” Emily truly sounded hopeful and full of regret, but both of them knew how he would answer. He shook his head, but she tried one more time. “I can’t leave loose ends, Sigmund, but I don’t want to hurt you. I never have and I never will. Please don’t force me to do so.”
“We both knew it would come to this the second you stepped foot on my property.”
“I knew very little of you. It had been years since we had spoken. Was it so wrong for me to hope for the best?”
“The best? Is that what you call it, Emily? While we’re on the topic, care to share your plans now? I doubt your idea is to let me go, now that I’ve opposed you, so it would hardly matter, wouldn’t it? Who knows, maybe I would even have some sort of last-second epiphany and change my stance.”
“You wouldn’t,” she said sadly. “I know it as clearly as you do. Your mind is a relatively open book, even with the limited Occlumency you know. I’m sorry it’s come to this, Sigmund. If you don’t force my hand, I’ll make it quick and painless.”
“I spent years as a prisoner of war, Emily. If you think I’m going to roll over, you’re delusional.”
Emily opened her mouth to respond, but Sigmund never gave her the chance. A string of spells flew from his wand, but none of them touched her. She raised a transparent shield that absorbed all of them just as she waved her wand nonchalantly. All around the yard, trees animated themselves. Their branches seamlessly morphed into weapons and they contorted into feral-looking creatures with obviously murderous intent.
Sigmund sent out a wave of fire just as he batted away Emily’s next curse, but the monstrosities walked straight through the fire. Blasting Curses had no better effect, and Sigmund realized exactly what Emily had meant.
She had very casually cast an enchantment capable of standing against a potent offence.
His jaw tightened as he found himself pushed onto the defensive. Her casting speed was unbelievable and every single one of her spells felt like a clubbing blow as they slammed into his defences. She made Shevehcenko seem tame by comparison, and he knew this duel wouldn’t last long. Especially not if the oncoming constructs, formerly trees, had their way.
Out of pure desperation, Sigmund resorted to something he hoped would never be necessary. It was something he had researched after he’d seen Emily herself use it at Katalysator, but it wasn’t something he had ever cast before. He wasn’t even entirely sure he could cast it, but there was no time like the present to find out…
He felt strain, unlike anything he had ever experienced as the air seemed to bend, tearing at the seams and letting something unnatural and unearthly pour into their world. His dark-red flames twisted and contorted as they tried to break free of his control. It wasn’t even that conjuring them was taxing, even though doing so absolutely was. It was the fact that these flames didn’t want to submit to anyone. They fought ruthlessly against Sigmund’s control. He was sure Emily could have killed him in the time it took for him to master the control of his spell and direct it towards her, but she seemed morbidly curious.
Again, not a good sign.
Finally, his creation destroyed Riddle’s. Despite her enchantments, the monstrosities were immediately incinerated and the flames seemed to taunt her as they consumed her creation, creeping sadistically towards her, cackling all the way as they did so.
Emily actually took the time to raise a challenging eyebrow before she flicked her own wand and summoned her own Fiendfyre without so much as a word. If not for the adrenaline of battle, Sigmund would have gaped. Based on what he had read all those years ago, conjuring Fiendfyre wordlessly wasn’t supposed to be possible.
The flaming snake and tiger collided. His beast roared as the snake coiled around it. Sigmund watched in complete horror as his fire seemed to become absorbed into hers at the same moment he felt control of the spell wrenched forcefully away from him.
The fire surged towards him and he knew at once he would die. Fighting for control of the fire had been too taxing for him to just conjure more. Even if he did, Emily’s had overwhelmed him so easily the first time that it likely meant he would only be giving her more fire. The only other spell he knew to be capable of countering Fiendfyre was the one Grindelwald had used at Katalysator. While he remembered the incantation, he had no idea how to actually cast the spell.
But the fire didn’t consume him.
Right before it would have, it dissipated following a slash of Emily’s wand. Instead of being mercilessly burnt alive, a very surprised Sigmund — choking, spluttering and unready to defend himself — felt a spell strike him in the chest and the next thing he felt was complete and total weightlessness.
Gilderoy could barely remember the blur of events that were the next number of minutes of his life. The werewolves pursued him and he could do nothing but defend. He had tried to fight for all of ten seconds before realizing that idea was going to get him turned or killed very, very quickly. Any injury he managed to inflict on the creatures healed almost instantaneously and he suddenly gained a new appreciation for the magical healing abilities that werewolves possessed.
Instead of fighting them, Gilderoy had resorted to Banishing Hexes and conjurations, anything to slow them down as slowly — ever so slowly — he inched his way toward the property line. Once outside of it, he knew apparition would be possible once more. He just needed to get out of the range of the magic emanating from the serpentine skull that hovered far above them.
He thought for a split-second that he was going to make it — thought for sure he would survive — when he heard it. A terrified, piercing scream tore through the night and even the werewolves pursuing him paused. Gilderoy froze for a heartbeat, but then his body’s autopilot kicked in to such a degree that he would not have thought it possible and, suddenly, he was running straight through the werewolf pack. Whether it was luck or adrenaline, none of them could touch him as he tore through the night back towards the sound of the screaming, one word escaping his lips and piercing the night just as much as the screaming of the woman whom he could not let die.
By the time he reached the side of the house, he realized that the werewolves behind him were following at a slower pace. That’s how he knew he was walking into an ambush but in spite of all of that, he could not will himself to care. All of his thoughts, all of his emotions, even the world around him seemed to pause as he rounded the corner and allowed his eyes to rest on the most terrifying sight he had ever seen in his life.
There was a body lying prone on the ground and crouching on top of it was a well-muscled creature with matted fur covering much of its body. Its head was buried in the side of the body. She no longer screamed, but she still struggled weakly. That was until she didn’t, and the werewolf — one by the name of Fenrir Greyback — raised his head from the large wound in the woman’s side.
Gilderoy Lockhart had the misfortune of seeing the scene in front of him with perfect clarity. They were directly under the moon’s ethereal spotlight, and the horrific scene before him was lit in a bright, yet ghostly light, only adding to its morbid horror.
His mother’s blood streamed down the creature’s chin like a gory waterfall. Or, to use a more morbidly ironic analogy, like a child who had spilled their Kool-Aid. The only difference was that kool-aid didn’t possess a dank, metallic scent — one that made Gilderoy want to vomit. The smell emitted from the openly-exposed organs of his mother’s body, now on full display after Greyback had quite literally torn a hole in her side as if the skin, muscle, bone and tissue had been little more than paper.
The worst part was the creature’s smug smile as he slowly and deliberately licked his lips, savouring the taste of Cassandra’s blood right in front of her only son. Gilderoy had been so certain that all of the werewolves had followed him. He had been so certain that his mother was safe, but he had forgotten about the one who had thrown itself through the very wall which he himself had used to escape.
Gilderoy Lockhart knew with one hundred percent certainty that he was going to die, but at that point, he was far, far beyond caring. He raised his wand and let out an animalistic cry of loss, agony and blood lust.
Before he could cast his spell, there was a loud crash as a body flew straight through the back wall of the property. Gilderoy froze, along with all of the werewolves, to peer down at the prone form of a man, who coughed up blood as he tried and failed to push himself to his feet. The werewolves jeered as a tall, slim figure crept towards the fallen man, glancing from the man to Gilderoy and holding up her hand as one of the werewolves made to lunge at him from behind. Gilderoy was too transfixed on the broken form of his father to notice.
“Do not touch him,” the figure instructed firmly and the werewolf paused. “I will not see him hurt. He is innocent, blameless and I do not kill children.”
There was a tiny, defiant part of Gilderoy that just wanted to yell at anything and claim that he was not a child, but somehow, he didn’t think she was referring to age.
“D-d-dad?” He would have stepped forward, but werewolves were blocking his path.
The man tried to answer, but instead of words, another clump of blood simply drizzled out of his mouth. Gilderoy swayed where he stood as the loss of everything weighed so heavily upon him. Then, movement caught his attention, and the only possible way the night could become any more traumatizing for the eighteen-year-old Lockhart heir came to pass as slowly, deliberately, the form of his mother rose and snarled hatefully at him with a malevolent, amber-eyed gaze. She was not dead, as Gilderoy had suspected. She was now just another member of a murderous pack of inhuman monsters. One whose horrid wounds were somehow knitting themselves shut.
Gilderoy would never underestimate the power of werewolves again.
“Control her, Greyback!” Voldemort snapped, and Fenrir obediently interposed himself between the soon-to-be sole member of the Lockhart family and the monster that was once his mother. Then Gilderoy’s broken gaze met that of the Dark Lady and he saw… sadness.
“This should not have happened,” she told him, her voice soft. “This was my fault — completely my fault. If I would have spoken to your father years ago or if I had simply kept my mouth shut during our last meeting, we would not be here.” She actually looked remorseful, and Gilderoy wondered if that was why she hadn’t technically struck the death blow — at least not yet. “I cared too much for him. I told him things I could not. If what I had said got out… if those who followed me had even an inkling of what was truly to come…” She shook her head, seeming to clear it with the motion.
“Bury your father,” she commanded, “he was a good man, and he deserves at least that.”
And that was it. Much like she had done the last time she had met Sigmund, Emily Riddle melted into smoke. This time, however, the smoke wrapped around the werewolves as well and they all vanished into thin air, leaving behind only a sobbing, broken Gilderoy Lockhart, who slumped to his knees as neither his brain nor his body could deal with the trauma of the night’s events any longer.
July 10, 1979
Gringotts, Diagon Alley
Gilderoy emerged from the pensieve the goblins had provided to watch the memories passed to him through the will of his father with tears shining in his bright blue eyes. He had known that his father’s childhood had been difficult, yet never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined the true scale. Now Sigmund’s desire for Gilderoy to be happy above all else made sense to him. The irony was not lost on him that after losing both of his parents in a similar fashion to his father, it was Gilderoy’s turn to improve. Revenge was on Gilderoy’s mind and he had a long, painstaking road to get there.
There were other things, too, but things he couldn’t spend too much time focusing on.
His father’s relationship with Riddle baffled him, probably above all other things he had seen. She seemed so different after coming back all those years later. It was as if she had become a different person altogether. The liking for his father had obviously remained until the man’s end, but she had seemed somehow more detached. Whatever she had done on her journeys had changed her. Or perhaps it could have been other things.
Again, he couldn’t be sure and it didn’t really matter.
The bottom line was that the Riddle who had returned to England had been far less human than the one who had left it years earlier. It had led her to do despicable things. Despicable things that Gilderoy Lockhart wanted her to pay for.
Her and the pack of bloodthirsty mutts who she had tamed.
They would get it too… in the most painful way imaginable.
‘I’ll be happy, Father,’ he thought resolutely. ‘But first, I’m going to do what you did; take revenge.’
July 14, 1979
The Lockhart Family Home
The day was bright, seeming to serve as a complete mockery to Gilderoy, who could feel nothing but sadness.
It had been the day of his father’s funeral. The world should have been bland and bleak. There was nothing worth celebrating that day, for the loss he had suffered was monumental. Those were his thoughts, at least. The sun — which had been shining in full force all day — clearly had other ideas.
It still sat high in the sky by the time most of the guests had left. Sigmund’s body, as declared in his will, was set to rest on a hill near the outskirts of the Lockhart’s property, directly under a tree — the same tree that had stood as a central part of his wedding years earlier.
Gilderoy thought about all of this and so much more as he stared down at his father’s grave. The lone figure lurking nearby — as well as anyone else if they were in a similar position — had no trouble noticing the vacant, dead look in Gilderoy’s eyes.
“Your father was a great man.” Gilderoy almost jumped out of his skin. The last person he had spoken with had been Saul, but his oldest and truest friend had left some time ago.
He recognized this new figure at once upon turning around. He was much older than he had appeared in Sigmund’s memories, but it was undoubtedly Giaus. Even if his hair had thinned and lightened a bit over time, and even if he had more wrinkles than he had while commanding Katalysator.
“You recognize me?”
Gilderoy nodded meekly. “My father… I saw his memories earlier this week.”
“Ah, yes. Your father didn’t have an easy life, but it made him a far better man than most could ever dream of being.” Gilderoy nodded despondently and Giaus eyed him. “He wouldn’t want this, you know.”
“Want what?” asked Gilderoy defensively.
“He wouldn’t have wanted his only son to fold in on himself the moment he was separated from him.”
Gilderoy bristled. “That’s not—”
“It’s exactly what you are doing,” Giaus cut him off sharply. When he saw Gilderoy wince, he sighed heavily. “If you truly have seen your father’s memories, you likely know a great deal about me. Given what I am sure you know, is there any better than I at spotting such things? Do you have any idea how many faces I saw that vacant expression on for the six years during which Katalysator was operational?”
“They really did just kill the parents then?”
“Almost always,” answered Giaus. “Killing is far easier than separating, on most occasions, and Grindelwald was nothing if not pragmatic.” There was a long pause. “Your father hated him for it. I’m not sure he even realized it himself, but it was true. The way he looked at Shevchenko was truly something to fear whilst the monster’s back was turned. I was one of the reinforcements to arrive at Katalysator after leaving to help organize the strike. I saw the way he looked at Grindelwald and it was that same look.”
“What’s your point?” asked Lockhart. “I’m sorry if this isn’t quite coming off right, but my patience is very thin.”
“It is perfectly understandable. My point is this, Gilderoy Lockhart. Your father lost his parents at the age of six. He had miserable days following their demise and it never truly left his mind. One thing it never did though was break him. It made him a better man. It gave him courage that most men can only dream of. It gave him a heart of gold, and beyond all else, it gave him a purpose.
“My point, child, is that not all horrible things in one’s life must drag one down a steep and never-ending slope. Think about what it is you want in this life and use all of this as fuel. Do it not only for your father’s memory but for what he would have wanted you to achieve.” He eyed Sigmund very closely. “And if it is revenge you seek, do so with caution. Beyond all else, your father would not wish to see you join him.”
Gilderoy tried to answer but his throat was constricted. The best he could do before Giaus quietly swept away was a gracious look that he could only hope Giaus interpreted correctly. Whether he did or not, Gilderoy would never know. Giaus’s expression didn’t change as he left the top of the hill, staying only long enough to bend his head forward while standing in front of the grave as if in prayer.
November 1, 1981
A Hotel Room in Rome
YOU-KNOW-WHO DESTROYED BY CHARLUS POTTER!
THE-BOY-WHO-LIVED IS BORN!
By Barbabus Cuffe
As Gilderoy’s deep blue eyes roamed disbelievingly over the article that sat in front of him, those same eyes widened almost comically while simultaneously taking on the gleam of something akin to victory. That made his task much, much easier.
For more than two years, Gilderoy Lockhart had travelled the world in an effort to learn magic. Not just learn it, but understand it — wield it. He had started in Egypt, where he had spent half a year, before transitioning to Greece, where he had spent nearly a year. Now he was in Rome, and he would continue to travel, grow, and learn until he was ready to take revenge.
He was conflicted overall, but there was at least a degree of relief that the Dark Lady was now out of the way. He could train, learn and travel all he wanted, but he was unsure if he would ever be able to match up to her immense power. Not that there wasn’t a small part of him that had so desperately wanted to be the one to deal the killing blow, but it was much more complicated than that. He also couldn’t help but think of that teenage girl who had helped his father. The one who had seemed so much different than the Emily Riddle who had murdered the same man she had previously saved all those years later.
It also made his objective much clearer.
With Riddle out of the picture, it was the werewolves who had his attention. In particular, the monster known as Fenrir Greyback. The one who had turned his mother and the one he was determined to see dead at his hand. It, along with educating himself about the wonders of magic, was his top priority in life.
And by Merlin, he would resort to the depths of hell if he needed to. He would resort to the vaguely mentioned Chaos Magic he had read up on whilst scanning ancient, highly-illegal tomes in Ancient Greece. He would do anything to bring Greyback down, and there was nothing he wouldn’t give up to do it.
January 28, 1986
Somewhere, in a Treacherous, European Mountain Range
Gilderoy’s first major attempt at tracking and killing Fenrir Greyback was going just swimmingly.
That was true, at least, if swimmingly meant being massively misled, becoming lost somewhere in a freezing mountain range, and spending most of the day fighting off monsters of all varieties.
It was a troll that was pursuing him at the moment. It would have been far less troubling earlier in the day, but he had exhausted himself combatting the numerous other beasts that had tried their best to take his life away. He was frozen, aching, and exhausted, and the troll just kept coming.
As he avoided a boulder heavier than he was that had been thrown forcefully at his head, Gilderoy nearly lost his footing. Seeing how he was standing with his back to the edge of a very high cliff, that would have been a fatal error. As it was, he couldn’t dodge. He was boxed in and he needed to do something. Something that would at least give him a moment to strike a seminal blow, but something that wasn’t overly taxing.
The problem was that most things able to harm a troll were quite taxing. They were highly resistant to magic and Gilderoy wouldn’t have time to use the environment to his advantage unless he dazed the troll or something similar.
Dazed it… yes, that was it! He didn’t need to hurt it, only to daze it.
It was a spell he had read up whilst in Rome. One the Romans had apparently employed ages ago on the battlefield when they were locked in large-scale conflicts that obviously weren’t going to go their way. A last resort, of sorts. A distraction.
A horrible, high-pitched sound erupted from Gilderoy’s wand, and it did so with the impact and decibel levels one might expect from a nuclear warhead. Thank Merlin, he had been fortunate enough to learn a spell in tandem that blocked this one’s effects, else he would have deafened himself, possibly for life, as the sound echoed horribly in these mountainous regions.
The troll let out a horrible cry as it fell to its knees. That was all the opening Lockhart needed to levitate the very bolder the troll had thrown at him seconds earlier and use it to cave the creature’s skull in.
It was a fortunate end to a miserable day, but Gilderoy had many more ahead of him, even if he didn’t yet know it.
February 6, 1987
Somewhere in a Treacherous, European Mountain Range
Gilderoy’s triumphant war cry echoed around the vast mountains. The probability that he had just alerted every magical creature within a hundred miles to his location was disturbingly high, but he didn’t much care.
For the last year, he had been stuck in these damn mountains. Every time he thought he had found a way out, his path had been impeded by something. For most of the year, he had been stalked by packs of yetis. It had been extremely annoying, all things considered. Especially because they were very rare creatures. While this had made them mildly fascinating at first, it also meant there was very little written about them in terms of their weakness.
So, after nearly a year on the run, Gilderoy had finally managed to get rid of them… by sending them all toppling off a cliff overlooking a jagged number of rocks maybe thirty metres or so feet below.
Not the most elegant way of dealing with monsters, but he didn’t much care.
Now if he could only get out of these damned mountains.
Seriously, he could write a book about this never-ending adventure, by this point…
September 16, 1989
The Wagga Wagga District, Australia
The night was hot and the air was dry. Really, that much should have been a given in the blistering nation of Australia, but the conditions were ideal for what Gilderoy Lockhart had in mind for tonight. Not that it would matter. His plan, if executed correctly, seemed almost foolproof.
Gilderoy had arrived back home on English soil in the summer of 1987 for the first time in nearly eight years. Ever since that day, he had spent every passing moment tracking down Fenrir Greyback and his pack of rabid mutts. There had been one instance when he had come very close. He had burnt down a larger amount of forestry, hoping to catch the mutts in the fire. He had been partially successful, but a number of them had gotten away. The ones that had received anything less than immediately fatal burns had healed up just fine, so Gilderoy had been back to square one.
But he had learned from that mistake.
As he had from his number of other, smaller mistakes. He had been given many leads, but most of them had been busts. Some had even been intentional setups or ambushes, but he had learned over the past two years what to look for when examining leads.
He was sure this one had merit.
He had been in Australia for nearly two months following Greyback’s pack, but tonight was the night.
As made evident by the low light not far ahead, emanating from a nearby clearing. They had obviously lit a fire, and it was what would lead Gilderoy directly to them. A part of him wished their fire had caught so much as a leaf. In the dry climate, it would have set the entire clearing ablaze in seconds.
But part of him was happy that hadn’t happened.
He wanted to be the one to do it. He wanted to be the one to take revenge.
And so he stepped out into the clearing.
For Gilderoy Lockhart, it was merely business.
With a flourish of his wand, he allowed the Disillusionment Charm to fall, and the werewolves’ ears all seemed to perk up. He also removed the Silencing Charm on his shoes. He stood there, head held high, proudly and defiantly staring down the rabid pack of dogs he was about to put down.
It was the night of the full moon, and the werewolves were enraged. They had likely lit the fire before sunset. Probably, they had trained their subconscious to stay near it, likely because they knew they were being hunted.
The werewolves were fully transformed, and they picked up on his presence immediately.
The night did not matter — none of it mattered. This was only ever going to end one way, and it didn’t matter whether the beasts were transformed or not. As the monsters began to rise and snarl, one particular werewolf rushed forward. Gilderoy didn’t need to examine the monster for long to know he was who he had come for. After all, he had studied Fenrir Greyback rather extensively and he had seen his photograph in several U.K publications.
Even while deranged, Greyback‘s evil grin sent shivers down Gilderoy’s spine as he crudely gestured for several of his compatriots to move something. Gilderoy had to hold back vomit when a bag was overturned and small ripped up pieces of what was unmistakably a human corpse were dumped on the forest floor between Gilderoy and Greyback.
The body was clearly fresh, as blood slowly tainted the beautiful fall leaves. The oranges and yellows darkened to a vivid red colour that only looked all the more sinister in the light of the full moon.
Gilderoy had no further questions. He knew it was his mother’s body. They had likely killed her minutes before the transformation, just in case it was tonight he found them.
His vision tinted red as he seemed to hear a dull thumping in his mind. It sounded oddly like the beating of a drum — one that played horrible symphonies. Symphonies of destruction and war, and symphonies of exactly what he was about to do to these beasts.
Greyback lunged at him, but Gilderoy was ready.
A Banishing Hex struck the werewolf in the chest and he sailed backwards, slamming his skull hard against a tree. The impact would have killed any human, but Greyback leapt back up to his feet as if his head had hit nothing more solid than a pillow. All of the others had rallied too. They swarmed forward, but Gilderoy stayed calm and made a wide, sweeping arc with his wand.
Without warning, the very ground around the werewolves changed. The earth itself rose up around them. Roots entangled them, dirt rose around their bodies and solidified, and even trees came to life and ensnared as many as they could. Within seconds, they were all restrained and, despite their best efforts, it was clear that none of them had any hope of escape.
This time, there would be no running. There would be no surviving what came next.
Gilderoy Lockhart learned from his mistakes.
“This is for my mother, you pieces of shit!” he snarled, tears stinging his eyes as he flourished his wand before thrusting it high into the air and letting out a defiant cry for the world to hear.
This was the part he had questioned. He hated the beasts before tonight — hated them immeasurably so — but Fiendfyre had rather strict esoteric requirements that could not be met by your average witch or wizard. Even that was ignoring the fact that most just couldn’t cast it due to a lack of power or the control necessary to not kill themselves with it.
No, beyond all of that, one who wished to successfully cast Fiendfyre could never hope to do so unless they honestly hated a person so badly that they were willing to destroy themselves if it meant destroying the person in question.
After seeing the desecrated corpse of his mother after all these years, Gilderoy had no doubt at all that he could cast Fiendfyre. A murderous light sparkled vividly against his irises, gleaming in the moonlight as the portal-like distortion tore itself open in the air, allowing the flames of death to spur forth with the vigour of a pack of dogs set to consume a slab of meat.
The werewolves were yelping and whining as the fire swallowed many of them whole in seconds. Some tried to flee, but it was fruitless. The very forest was on fire, as the flames sought to consume every last one of Gilderoy’s enemies. Even being grazed with Fiendfyre would leave burns that would slowly kill the inflicted victim, and Gilderoy Lockhart could have apparated out of that clearing with complete and total certainty that his plan had succeeded.
But he didn’t.
Not until he saw the flames consume Fenrir Greyback, and not until he had revelled in the look of abstract terror that had marred the werewolf’s face.
Only then did Gilderoy Lockhart dispel his Fiendfyre and apparate away.
And only later would he come to a startling realization.
Even after achieving what he had sought for so long, he still somehow felt empty.
October 15, 1989
A Pub In Dublin
Almost a full month had passed since Gilderoy Lockhart had taken care of the werewolf that had haunted his dreams for several years now; a feat that had earned him the Order of Merlin, Third Class — if only because the Ministry of Magic had no idea how he had actually gone about killing the werewolves. There had been an initial rush of victory, but it had worn off quickly, and Gilderoy was left feeling empty.
He had no idea what he wanted to do now. His life had been all about revenge for so long, but there was no one left to take revenge upon.
Seriously, you couldn’t write this sort of tragedy. The main protagonist accomplishes everything he ever wanted, only to realize his life now had no purpose.
Hm… that wasn’t the first time he had thought that.
Gilderoy giggled, an action likely brought on by the copious amounts of fire whiskey he had consumed that night. If nothing else, perhaps writing a book would take his mind off of things. And if it helped people avoid similar fates to that of his mother, all the better.
And that was how Gilderoy Lockhart found his new passion. Ensuring that no one found themselves in the same position as his mother, and doing his best — through informative writing — to ensure that no more children ended up parentless and vengeful.
July 5, 1992
A Hotel in London
It has been so long, has it not?
Firstly, allow me to extend my most sincere apologies for the loss of your mother and father. It is a true shame, the tragedies your family has sustained in the past century, and I must confess that your father was a sort of personal favourite of mine.
If nothing else, the silver lining does seem to be you! It has seemed to me and all of your former professors that you have grown in leaps and bounds since you graduated from Hogwarts, if your most wonderful books are anything to use as judgement. You have grown so much, in fact, that I would like to offer you a place at Hogwarts as the professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts for this upcoming school year.
Please respond swiftly and promptly.
That… had been unexpected. It would be a year off of travelling and writing, which wasn’t something Gilderoy was super keen on. Not so much due to the downgrade in pay, but more so because his writing had — according to the exorbitant amounts of fan mail he received — helped so many, which had been the goal all along.
But then again…
Directly helping the next generation to defend themselves at all times? An opportunity to instill a philosophy in them to maybe pass it on to their own children years down the road?
Gilderoy sighed as he reached for his favourite quill.
How could he refuse such a perfect opportunity?
July 24, 1992
The Department of Mysteries
I am afraid that, on this occasion, I am contacting you on much more formal business than our usual catchup sessions.
Your presence is requested by the Department of Mysteries. Meet me at the department entrance and we will proceed from there.
Voice of the Unspeakables
“A veil and crossed wands?” Gilderoy mocked as Croaker led him into his office deep within the most secretive sector of the Ministry of Magic. Gilderoy had needed to sign a magically-binding contract to even be allowed this far. “For the secretive lot you are, you’re not exactly subtle, are you?”
“I assure you that if we didn’t want you to know exactly who was contacting you, our address would have been far less flamboyant.”
“Which brings us to the point, I suppose,” said Lockhart. “You want me here and you wanted me to know exactly who was getting a hold of me?” Croaker nodded. “Why? What is it you want with me?”
Croaker looked up at him with a blank expression. “You took the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts, correct?”
Lockhart blinked. That was certainly not public information. Had he been speaking with anyone other than an Unspeakable, he might have even considered denying it. Instead, he just nodded. “I did, yes.”
“Which is why I personally suggested you for a little… operation of ours.”
“That is an apt term, yes.”
“I’m going to assume the less veiled version is that you want eyes inside of Hogwarts for some grand scheme or another?”
“Not quite as grand as you might think, but that is the general idea, yes.”
“So you want eyes in the castle because?”
“Because there are two people of interest who we would like you to keep your eyes on. It is something we discussed ways of handling. Normally, there are no people of interest to our department within Hogwarts. Not people who we are in a position to monitor, at the very least. On rare occasions, there is one student. Two is almost unheard of.”
“Who are these students?”
Croaker opened the drawer to his desk and slid aside the parchment he had viewed more than a year ago now. Gilderoy, having already guaranteed his own silence by signing the contract, picked up the sheet of parchment and looked at it.
His eyebrows knit together. “So you want me to spy on students?”
Croaker smiled thinly. “You wouldn’t be here if that was all we wanted. It’s simply an added benefit.”
“What else, then?”
“We expect… possible meddling at Hogwarts.”
“And you were tipped off how?”
“When Albus Dumbledore managed to get his hands on a very powerful magical artifact last year and set it up within that very school. We watched the castle closely last year and can’t help but feel that something has changed.” Croaker shrugged. “We could be completely wrong, but it never hurts to have eyes in the castle.”
“And you can’t use an Unspeakable because?”
“Because Dumbledore would never allow one of us in the castle, and the Hogwarts Charter is shockingly restrictive.” It was clear Croaker was tiring of answering questions. “It is a yes or no, Gilderoy. Do you accept the position?”
Gilderoy hesitated. It was little work on his end, especially if the DoM’s suspicions were for nothing.
He sighed. “Very well, Saul. I accept the position.”
I apologize if there are still any typos or whatnot spaced throughout this chapter. This chapter and the last were originally written prior to the start of year 2, and then a lot was tweaked and added, so I apologize if anything was missed. I will be going over this with a more critical eye at some point in the future.
I completely understand that many people think this major interjection into the story takes away from the year’s climax. I do understand that and I do see the reviews. It is, however, critical to Lockhart’s character, as well as Emily’s. There is a ton of foreshadowing in here for major events in the future. That is largely why I couldn’t have dotted this in periodically throughout the year. The actual scenes needed to be written out for those reasons.
It also very much plays into the next chapter, so…
Obviously, this would never be done in an original novel; but this is not an original novel. I largely use fanfiction to practice different components of writing. AoC is largely the way it is so I can work on long-term development, worldbuilding, and interweaving subplots. I understand it is paced very slowly and that it isn’t how a novel would or should be paced. The pacing is very slow on purpose. It is a conscious choice I am not changing, even though I don’t think year 3 will be as long as year 2. The slower pacing allows me to get a handle on the components of writing this story and is helping me to improve in the aforementioned areas. I will then work on allowing those abilities to flourish in shorter forms later down the road.
I just thought I would address some of the pacing concerns that have been brought up. I am aware of them, but they are there intentionally. If it is something that bothers you, that is perfectly fine. There are plenty of faster-paced stories out there, but just know I am aware of them and it is a conscious choice I have made in this story.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editors AloW, Asmodeus Stahl, Chocolate, Hellion, Hyuck, Michiganster98, Sectumus Prince, and UbiquitouslyVerbose for their corrections/contributions this week.
Please read and review.
A massive thank you is also extended to my first top-tier Patron, Κυρία της φωτιάς, Lily of Dreams, for her generous support on that platform! It continues to boggle my mind each and every day, and it is something for which I will be forever grateful!
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