Harry Potter & the Ashes of Chaos
Year 3: The Blackest of Truths
Chapter 1: Bids For Freedom
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgement: Thank you as always to my editor Fezzik, as well as my other betas Luq707, Athena Hope, Yoshi89, and Raven0900 for their incredible work on this story.
Self-Promotion: I have a discord server where you can chat and read all of my chapters early. If you would like to join, simply copy the link on my profile. If you would like to dive further into the AoCverse, you can check out the story’s ever-expanding web presence by following the other links on my profile. You can do likewise to follow me on Twitter for live updates and to check out my official website.
If you enjoy this story and would like to support me directly, I now have a P*T*E*N page! You are by no means obligated to support me, but for those generous enough to do so, you will be receiving Patron-exclusive benefits and getting chapters even earlier than Discord!
Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 3: The Blackest of Truths
Chapter 1: Bids For Freedom
June 20, 1993
The night was ironically mundane, given the occasion. By the old rights and testaments, this was one of the most auspicious nights of the year; seeing as the stroke of midnight would usher in one of the major solstices. Despite the night’s symbolic gravity, however, Magical Britain could not have appeared any more ordinary.
A warm summer’s breeze was gently whistling across the country while a thick layer of clouds obstructed any moonlight that might have sought to illuminate the lush green land far below.
The world may not have provided the most thematic backdrop, but that didn’t mean everything about this night was so mundane.
In one of the most well-secured manors in the world, four figures had just stepped out of swirling emerald fire and into a large entrance hall composed mainly of marble. All four of these individuals wore blank expressions, though tension was obvious in the youngest of the four.
Her shoulders were stiff and she walked as though she had a steel rod keeping her spine in a perfectly straight line from her hips to her neck. If an onlooker was in a morbid enough mood, they might even say it appeared as though she was being led to the gallows from the way she walked.
It was an oddly somber procession.
Three of the figures — including the one who walked with such tension — walked stoically up the house’s main set of stairs whilst the fourth paused to centre herself. She tightly shut her sapphire blue eyes and tried to come to terms with what was about to happen upstairs, and that she wouldn’t be allowed to be there.
“Knut for your thoughts, Daphne?”
The Greengrass Heiress actually jumped, nearly slipping and falling to the floor upon her landing. Her heart raced as she whirled towards the voice, but all fight left in unison with the deep breath extracted from her lungs at the sight of him.
He wore plain black robes and was leaning casually against one of the walls, studying her with those intense green eyes of his which she had always thought had a sort of penetrating quality to them.
“Merlin, Harry!” she hissed in little more than whisper. “You scared me half to death!”
He looked a bit sheepish as he languidly pushed off the wall and strode towards her. “Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have done that. Especially not after… the incident back in January.”
Daphne bristled. “I’m not fragile!”
“I never said you were. I definitely don’t think I am, but I still don’t like most people touching me. Trauma does funny things to a person; it doesn’t make you fragile.”
And there it was again. Harry’s logical way of speaking that was both endearing and infuriating at times.
“How have you been?” she asked, not having seen him much since their departure from Hogwarts days earlier.
“Well, I can easily say that it’s the best summer I’ve ever had and it’s barely even started, so there’s that.”
Daphne wasn’t sure whether to glare at him or laugh. “Not funny,” she settled for.
His lips twitched. “Yet you hesitated.”
She sighed. “Okay, maybe it was a little bit funny in a horrible sort of way. I’m just… not really in the mood for those sorts of jokes right now.”
“I’ve gathered as much,” said Harry. He shot a quick glance all around them and actually extracted his wand from its holster. “Homenum Revelio.”
Daphne felt something odd brush against her. It was less a sensory feeling as much as an intuitive impression, but it still sent an odd shiver up her spine. “What was that?” she asked him.
“It’s a spell I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been ambushed way too many times for my liking. The ring is helpful, but this spell’s range is wider.” He shrugged. “I could have just relied on the ring for this one, but I figured I might as well practice the spell.”
“You are the most paranoid twelve-year-old boy in the world.”
“Probably.” His gaze came back to rest upon her and the intensity of it was unsettling. “So, I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me what’s going on with your sister?”
Daphne would have choked had she not clamped down on her emotions. “What about her?”
“That’s basically what I just asked you,” said Harry. “It’s… not that difficult to work out, you know. I heard the floo go off so I snuck in while using the ring to be invisible. I hadn’t been told any of you were coming, so I could guess it was serious. None of you looked super happy, but your sister was the only one who looked tense. My Natural Legilimency isn’t nearly as good as Charlotte’s, but I don’t think your sister has worked up to dealing with subtle attacks yet. I could tell she was nervous about something.”
“You’re getting better with that Legilimency, aren’t you?”
“I am, yes. The more I work on Legilimency as a whole, the more and more it naturally happens. I usually don’t even think to make it happen, it just does. I can sort of see where Charlotte was coming from last year, but she was a lot further along than I am. I can shut mine off if I want to; I don’t even think she could do that a lot of the time.”
“Well, good to know you weren’t actually trying to legilimize my little sister.”
Harry shrugged. “I’m not going to lie, after this last year, I’m probably going to start using it more. I just… I’m not taking chances anymore. Way too many things went wrong this last year.” Daphne nodded; she knew that better than just about anyone. “I’m still not just going to legilimize people for the hell of it, though. Especially not friends or their families. That was just… I sort of just got a general impression of how she felt. She was basically projecting.”
Daphne sighed. “Well, you really must be getting better, because you aren’t wrong. She’s been nervous about tonight for years.”
“It’s… a long story. I don’t really want to talk about it right now and honestly, it’s not my story to tell. It’s my sister’s. She’s… been through a lot, and it feels wrong to tell somebody who doesn’t need to know.” She graced him with an apologetic look. “Sorry, Harry.”
“It’s fine; I wouldn’t want you sharing my secrets around either.” Of course, the more damning of his secrets had been told while magic was imposed to prevent any present from revealing them at a later date, but that was a separate matter altogether. “Just thought I’d ask. You and Tracey are the ones who always go on about talking about things.”
Daphne offered a weak smile for Harry’s equally weak attempt at humour. “Care for a walk?” she asked. “I might not be able to talk about it, but fresh air always helps.”
“Sure,” he said, leading her out of the manor and onto the grounds, blissfully unaware of what was going on upstairs, as well as in several other places at that exact moment in time.
At the stroke of midnight, in the Department of Mysteries…
A death toll-like gong rang out through the lowest section of Britain’s Ministry of Magic just as the clock ticked with the arrival of the summer solstice. Most in the building heard nothing at all, but for the fourteen individuals gathered on benches in an amphitheatre-like room deep beneath the rest of the ministry, it sent vibrations up their spine and left behind a persistent ringing in their ears.
“Are we set to begin?” asked Saul Croaker, the Voice of the Unspeakables and the man who governed over these full-scale meetings.
A rumble of assent ran through the other thirteen individuals gathered in the room, causing Croaker to nod curtly.
Of the fourteen gathered figures, Croaker was the only whose identity was shown publicly. He wore the typical grey robes one might expect from an Unspeakable, but the magically veiled hood was pulled down to show his face; a face that looked far older and more weathered than it had any right to. He was also the only one known to the identities of the other thirteen gathered members of the department. As far as he knew, none of them knew the true identity of any of their counterparts, though it was of course possible an exception of two was present within their ranks.
These other thirteen individuals each represented one of the thirteen branches of the Department of Mysteries. All present were the heads of their respective branch, and it was they who were called as representatives for full-scale meetings of the Department of Mysteries.
“We will take the customary roll call and then we will begin,” said Croaker. “Love!”
“In attendance, as always.”
Each branch of the Department of Mysteries specialized in a given area, and each was responsible for doing a great number of things within that area. Most often, it was simply researching deeper concepts and innovating new ideas. Occasionally, it was to govern the branch they lorded over, often by advising legal policies, sometimes through… more direct intervention.
But on very rare occasions, one of the branches under the Unspeakables’ umbrella would wield the potential of causing cataclysmic problems.
Which, coincidentally, was exactly what the body was to discuss on the most auspicious night of the year; which was an annual affair for the department.
“I doubt that I need to remind any of you what the main purpose for tonight’s meeting is,” Croaker began. None of the faces around the room could be seen, but the Voice of the Unspeakables had no doubt that their expressions were all suitably intense. “
“To discuss dealing with the abominations, I hope?” asked Soul.
Croaker nodded stoically. “Indeed.”
“The… abominations?” Mind asked in a slow, suspicious tone of voice.
“Some of you will be unaware as to what Soul here speaks of. I will now be disclosing one of the more closely guarded secrets of magic to all of you. It should go without saying that this falls under the harshest of secrecy bindings you have all willingly agreed to and that it can never be shared outside of this room.”
No one in the room so much as moved.
“The abomination I speak of is something called a horcrux.” Death let out a hiss of what sounded like fury, but outside of the figure known in this chamber as Death, nobody but Soul seemed to recognize the term.
“I see that many of you are confused, so allow me to explain. A horcrux is an anchor, of sorts. So long as it remains intact, its owner will forever be anchored to life, even if their body has been completely destroyed.”
“Impossible,” said Fate. “That breaks every fundamental law of magic.”
“Which is in part why it is so horrid,” agreed Croaker. “Once I finish, I doubt any of you will wish for anything but the destruction of any who creates them.” Silence once more. “In order to create a horcrux, one must first undergo a ritual that could loosely be categorized as Chaos Magic.” All in the room bristled. “As I’m sure most of you at least know, the soul cannot be changed by magic. This is a fundamental rule of nature. Spells like Homenum Revelio brush the soul, but they do not change it. That is the reason the Killing Curse is considered to be Chaos Magic; because not only does it draw from that particular realm, but it also does something which is fundamentally impossible. Unfortunately, the Killing Curse has just been far too widely used throughout history to be easily covered up. So instead, the details about exactly how it kills are what has been buried to the general public.
“This ritual is different. It prepares the soul to be torn; actually enabling pieces of it to be severed completely and stored in objects known as horcruxes. Of course, once the initial ritual is done, you will need to fracture your soul via cold-blooded murder and then perform the final ritual, which actually separates the piece altogether. As I’m sure you can all guess, that final ritual is undoubtedly classed as Chaos Magic.”
“Which is why none of us have heard of a horcrux before,” said Records. “It’s been buried, just like all other known or suspected uses of Chaos Magic throughout history.”
“This is all very interesting,” said Mind, “and of course, quite horrid, but why exactly are you telling us all this, Croaker? This seems very much the realm of Soul and Death. It doesn’t seem like something the rest of us should ever even be made aware of.”
“In most circumstances, you absolutely shouldn’t, but this isn’t most circumstances. This is a departmental emergency on the scale of potential world catastrophe.”
That got the undivided attention of all in the room.
“As some of us suspected, the woman known as Voldemort is not dead.” The room seemed to tense as most present realized what Croaker would say a second before he said it. “She survived that night at Godric’s Hollow through the use of horcruxes.”
The room practically exploded in outraged chatter; even panicked, in the case of a few. One voice managed to make itself heard above the din though, and it was the voice of Mind.
“Horcruxes? As in, plural?”
“We know that at least two have existed and we believe there to be others based on… certain intel we have gathered.”
Death sniffed disdainfully. “You mean intel from the girl who, in her own time, became the very Dark Lady we now have to contend with?” Croaker nodded curtly. “We should have killed her; she’s too dangerous.”
“And if we did,” countered Soul, “we would know nothing about her horcruxes beyond the fact that at least one of them existed. I don’t much like taking risks either but if it’s between a sixteen-year-old Dark Lady and one with decades of experience, I’ll take the former, thank you very much.”
“She has also signed extremely stringent contracts,” put in Records. “They should prevent her from doing anything too extreme.”
“Should isn’t good enough when discussing Dark Ladies,” Death grumbled.
“We will speak on this no more,” snapped Croaker. “The decision has been made and I do not regret it. The contracts she has signed makes it extremely difficult for her to work against us in the future. If she finds a way to circumvent them, we will cross that bridge when we get there. For now, let’s focus on the positives of what we learned from Miss Riddle.
“She only remembers the creation of one horcrux, but she remembers planning others.” He paused. “In particular, she was quite fascinated by powerful, magical numbers. The most powerful magical number, as a matter of fact.”
“Seven!” exclaimed Aether. “She made seven of the abominations?”
“First of all,” said Soul, “we have no conclusive proof that supports the fact Voldemort ever managed to create so many horcruxes. As of now, my department is unsure of whether or not such a thing would even be possible. More information will hopefully come on that front soon, but I am of the opinion she did create a seven part soul. Notice my wording: six horcruxes, plus the soul piece still inside her body.”
A general mutter swept across the room, the sentiment of which was how it was so much better that Voldemort may only have created six horcruxes as opposed to seven.
“What makes you so confident she did create so many?” asked Mind. “That is quite the leap unless you have prior experiences with her.”
“A reasonable opinion on your behalf,” Soul said coolly. “Whether I have dealt with her in the past or not is none of your concern, Mind. Just know that I have more information than you do and that you can choose to believe me or not.”
“The point is,” interjected Croaker, “we know that she at least intended at one time or another to create six horcruxes, giving herself a seven-part soul in the process. Judging by her fascination with Arithmancy, I think it’s reasonable to assume she either stopped at three or continued on to seven.”
“How can we possibly know which one she settled for?” asked Blood. “It’s not as though we can do anything if we don’t even know if there are more of the horrors out in the world.”
“That actually isn’t as complex a question as you might think,” said Croaker.
“We know that at least three horcruxes have been destroyed, though we do believe only those three…”
“Which means,” mused Mind, “that if your assumption about her arithmetic fascination holds weight, she will have created three more undiscovered horcruxes.”
“Hold on one moment,” said Records, “how do we know that three of the terrors have been destroyed?”
Soul got to his feet and reached a hand into the pocket of his robes. First, he withdrew a very plain-looking diary. “This is the item which caused such terror this year at Hogwarts. It was infused with a piece of her soul; the very piece which then gained itself a body and it now a real witch once more.”
“Is she not a horcrux then?” asked Body.
“No,” said Soul. “One of the fundamental properties of a horcrux is that its container is largely what anchors it. It escaped its original container. Under any other circumstances, this would lead to immediate destruction. This time, a ritual prevented that from happening. Had the piece of soul lodged itself within Ares Black as it had planned, it would still be a horcrux.”
“But since it didn’t find another container and instead became its own,” mused Aether, “it is now independent by nature and no longer anchors the Dark Lady to life.”
“So that one was, by nature, destroyed?” Again, Soul nodded. “And what of the other two?”
The next item he withdrew from the pocket of his cloak was an ornate tiara that had obviously once been immaculate but which was now blackened and burnt almost beyond recognition.
Unless you were Records, apparently.
“The famous diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, yes.”
“It was made of a horcrux?!” None in the room had ever heard an Unspeakable sound so livid.
It was little wonder why. The Records branch had been trying to trace and locate ancient artifacts like the diadem for centuries with little success.
Soul chuckled darkly. “It gets better.”
With a mocking bow, he reached into the pocket of his cloak and withdrew the final, destroyed horcrux.
Like the diadem, it was blackened almost past recognition. “I’m sure you can identify this one, as well?” Soul asked Records.
“Salazar Slytherin’s locket,” Records breathed in disbelief.
“Got it in one.”
The room was now deathly quiet.
“Where do we even begin?” asked Time.
“By tracking down the others,” said Soul. He spoke in a snarl of a voice and his posture had stiffened. Now, he resembled a vengeful general addressing his men after an embarrassing defeat on the field of battle. “We will review everything we have learned from Emily Riddle, trace all of it back, and follow any leads we find. It is imperative that we find and destroy the horcruxes.”
All in the room nodded.
Also at the stroke of midnight, at Black Manor…
Magic illuminated one of Black Manor’s oldest rooms; a room meant explicitly for ritualistic magic such as this. The blood dotted around the room in archaic shapes seemed to simmer and sizzle as the light began to pulsate, growing ever brighter as it did so. Copious amounts of hollyhock and pansy burned away with the blood, lost to the light that was filling the room as, in its centre, a tall, pale figure was brought to her knees.
Her hands pressed hard against her temples, trying in vain to ward off the horrible sensation emanating from inside her very skull. It was as if termites were attacking her brain, slowly and systematically spreading and consuming it, scratching and biting as they went.
Just as she thought she would surely black out, the light dimmed and Emily Riddle let out a relieved sigh as she allowed her body to fall against the stone floor of the room, trying to get her breathing under control before she dared take to her feet once more.
It had been an eventful few weeks since her return to the world.
After being captured by the Unspeakables, she had complied with all of their demands. She’d lost track of how many contracts she had signed. They all prohibited her from working directly against them in one way or another, as well as containing various other provisions. One of which was that she had to tell them everything she knew about not only horcruxes and soul magic as a whole, but what she had planned to do with it.
Oh, and Chaos Magic… that as well.
So she had.
She had mentioned how she had learned of Fiendfyre not long before discovering the horcrux ritual and all that went with it. She had explained her idea to acquire items connected to the Hogwarts founders and hide them in places of significance to her. She had explained how one of those places would have absolutely been Hogwarts, and after a considerable amount of self-reflection she had come to the conclusion that — outside perhaps the Chamber of Secrets — she was most likely to hide one of the horcruxes in the Room of Hidden Things.
She had been right and the horcrux had been destroyed, which hadn’t bothered her nearly as much as she might have expected.
It was odd, really.
She felt no true connection to her future self; the one who had been defeated by the Potter boy on Samhain of 1981. Perhaps it was because she knew very little about her in the grand scheme of things, but Emily thought there was a more logically centred reason.
She thought much of what she had done to be idiotic.
Why had she started a full-scale wizarding war that had rocked Magical Britain to its core? There were far more efficient ways of getting things done, and Emily didn’t even particularly care for many of the principles her future self seemed to have been fighting for.
It just didn’t make sense.
So she had decided she would further her own goals first. If her future self ever made a return to power… she would cross that bridge if it ever obstructed her path. Otherwise, she was going to focus solely on herself.
Which meant getting back to the rituals she had started during her fifth year at Hogwarts.
This one marked the point at which she was exactly one third of the way through the seven sets of seven she had begun undertaking. It was ambitious — as the author of her material had never known any but himself to have done it — but she wasn’t the Heir of Slytherin for no reason.
Or was it the Heiress of Slytherin? She supposed that was more correct, but it had never quite carried the same weight in her mind, so she had never really used it.
Tonight had been the perfect night, being the summer solstice, and she could already feel the effects of her most recent ritual.
This was abnormal.
Most rituals’ effects were impossible to recognize immediately. Only when combined and supplemented with several others would their benefits be anything other than negligible and even then, they were most often still only fractional improvements to the chosen area of improvement.
But this one was different.
It was one of a set — one of her seven sets of seven — that had more immediate and profound impacts.
As she shakily stood to her feet, she could feel the world in ways she had never before imagined. Natural Legilimency had always allowed her to feel the wards around her, but she could sense and distinguish them in such exquisite detail now that it was as though they were singing to her. She could feel the other people in the home as well. She was too far away to actually sense their thoughts — never mind the fact that all three of them were at least somewhat versed in Occlumency — but she could sense them, which should have been impossible from such a distance.
Despite the discomfort brought on by her most recent ritual, Emily couldn’t help but smile.
She thought she would enjoy the benefits of this ritual more than any other she had conducted so far.
Some time later, at Weitts Manor…
The shaking and spasming form of a slight brunette girl fell limply to the floor, bouncing uselessly as it made impact and moving no more.
Most in the room held their worried breath, but one figure stepped calmly forward.
He wore rich black robes and his features were aged and weathered. His hair was white and his bluish-silver eyes shone in the darkness.
He waved his wand over the fallen form for about a minute before he spoke in a smooth, cultured voice. “She is alive.”
“In what condition?” asked the shaky voice of a blonde-haired woman with sapphire blue eyes.
“It is too early to say. She will certainly be out for quite some time. It would be inadvisable to leave her at Saint Mungo’s. I doubt very highly that the healers would deduce what has been done, but it is a chance we cannot take. Not with the British Ministry of Magic’s stance on such things.”
“Would transporting her even be wise in the first place?” asked a brown-haired man who had his arm wrapped around the blonde.
“It is likely safer to err on the side of caution.”
“She can stay here then,” said the other woman in the room. “For as long as she needs to. All of you can, if you wish.”
“Can we bring healers here? Privately hired ones, of course.”
“Only if you trust them completely.”
All in the room took a moment of pause as the limp girl’s body was levitated up off of the floor.
“At the very least,” said the man who had examined her. “I am sure our primary objective has succeeded. We have killed the parasite. We must now only hope that any side-effects have no adverse effects on the girl’s body.”
“Thank you,” said the blonde woman, voice still shaking. “No matter what happens, it… it means the world.”
The man’s lips twitched upwards as he resisted the urge to allow a twisted smile from blossoming on his features. “For all the evil my father’s exploits into magic wrought upon the world, it is only fair I try to do some good with them. Whether it works or not… well, that remains to be seen.”
June 25, 1993
THE TRIAL OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE AND JAMES POTTER TO TAKE PLACE ON JULY 4TH!
By Rita Skeeter
“Did you know about this?” Daphne asked Harry as soon as he — who had been in the family library for the last several hours — sat down at the table for breakfast with Sigmund, Adriana, Cyrus, Celia, Daphne, and Charlotte.
The Greengrasses had stayed at Weitts Manor ever since their mysterious arrival five nights earlier. Harry was more certain than ever it had something to do with the family’s youngest, Astoria. He hadn’t seen her since they had arrived, but he was sure she had arrived and doubted she had left. Whatever was making her nervous had obviously happened and it appeared by the outcome that the girl may have been well within the scope of reason to be apprehensive.
“I knew it was in the works, yeah. My solicitor owled me about it Monday. They went over it at last Sunday’s Wizengamot meeting and came up with that as the date. Both parties just had to agree to the trial date.”
“That will be a busy meeting then,” said Sigmund; the Regent of House Weitts.
“What else is happening that day?” asked Charlotte.
Normally, Sigmund would likely have had his heiress, Grace, explain to her younger sister as practice. Ever since Harry’s arrival at Weitts Manor though, Grace hadn’t been present in the mornings. In fact, she had barely been present at all for reasons Harry was blissfully unaware of.
“The Wizengamot is aiming for that meeting to be the final resolution of the business regarding the Hogwarts Charter.”
“Weren’t they trying to repeal it?” Harry asked, remembering that coming up in a past bit of correspondence from his solicitor months earlier.
“The clause about no occupying forces, yes. It wasn’t exactly a widely known facet of the charter until last January. Obviously, we all saw how problematic it is in modern times.”
Lord Cyrus Greengrass in particular looked quite vicious as he stabbed harshly at a piece of fruit with his fork, though he made no comment.
“How do you feel about the trial?” asked Adriana, her eyes focused on Harry.
He shrugged. “My solicitor doesn’t seem to think we can lose. We’re applying for the use of a pensieve, and she’s sure it will go through. It’s just the Wizengamot holding things up right now by only meeting once a week. Hopefully, that will be cleared on Sunday. So long as it does, I don’t see how I could lose.”
The boy spoke in a voice that was largely void of emotion as he delivered a clinical breakdown of what was hopefully to come. He thought Adriana looked momentarily displeased for reasons he couldn’t place, but she nodded acceptingly a moment or so later.
“I’m sure it will go well,” she said. “Don’t underestimate Dumbledore — if anyone can spin the situation, it’s that man — but I don’t see how he would get himself and your father out of this one.”
Harry nodded in thanks and went back to his food, ignoring the stare from his left that was practically boring into the side of his head.
Meanwhile, at Potter Manor…
The atmosphere was tense at Potter Manor.
Ron had stayed the previous night, as had frequently been the case since the end of the Hogwarts year. Charlus hadn’t been able to see his best mate since his mother had pulled him from Hogwarts after the polyjuice incident all the way back in December. They had of course exchanged letters as Ron completed the rest of his schoolwork at home under the supervision of his mother, but it just hadn’t been the same.
Ron did actually seem a bit different to Charlus, but he was largely the same. He just seemed a touch more knowledgeable any time magic had come up. Being shut up in the Burrow for months while forced to study had necessitated a larger focus on his studies. It also wasn’t as though Ron had a whole lot else to do. Having far less distractions had actually been the best thing that had ever happened to him in terms of his educational progression.
The boys had spent much of their summer together thus far, but this particular morning was a touch awkward.
The two of them strode down into the dining hall for breakfast and were greeted by the sight of a pale, fidgety James Potter who was looking anywhere but at the newspaper in front of him. Peter was over as well and he was a touch more subtle than the Lord Potter, but it was obvious he too was distracted.
And then Charlus saw the headline and the inner turmoil began.
He was very conflicted in regards to Harry. On the one hand, the boy was absolutely right to be furious at him. He still wasn’t sure how furious Harry had the right to be with his father though, and this was taking it a step far. Dragging the no-longer Headmaster Dumbledore into all of it was, from Charlus’s perspective, absolutely unnecessary, but he had a hard time being mad at his brother after all that had happened this last year. Even being punched in the face hadn’t changed the way he felt about their relationship. He had most definitely deserved it and he had taken it on the chin and moved on, hoping they might one day reconcile — even though he knew that prospect was looking quite bleak.
There was still the issue of the Dark Arts fiasco… he remembered Harry showing it all to him so vividly, but he also somehow believed his brother hadn’t been the one to do it. He had seriously debated bringing this up to his father or even writing Dumbledore, but he had reluctantly decided against it. He didn’t want them to think he was going insane and they had enough to deal with right now, especially with this fast-approaching trial now firmly on the horizon.
“Do… do you think he’s gonna win?” was the only thing Charlus could think to ask his father.
James and Peter exchanged glances. “It’s hard to say, sport,” said Peter. “It really just depends on what angle he comes at it from. We’re gonna hope he doesn’t, but who knows?”
Ron muttered something about no-good gits under his breath that drew a frown from Charlus.
He could never remember his friend being so anti-Slytherin before this last year. He had been distrustful of Harry in their first year, but never so openly antagonistic. It seemed… odd to think his sister’s sorting could have been the catalyst for it, but he could think of no other reason and that was what his friend attributed it to.
Charlus supposed he would just have to add it into the same category as his odd memories pertaining to Harry and the Dark Arts. An odd mystery he may never solve.
Some time later, back at Weitts Manor…
Harry revelled in the warm summer’s breeze as it rustled his hair and jostled his robes, whilst it furiously in his ears as he soared high above the luxurious grounds of Weitts Manor.
Any time he needed to clear his mind, flying was usually his first resort. It was a reliable way of not only improving his mood, but allowing him a respite to sort out his inner thoughts. It was so natural, automatic, and relaxing to him that, while doing it, he hardly needed to think about what he was doing. He could just enjoy the experience and allow his mind to wander.
On this particular morning, Harry was conflicted.
The announcement of the trial for his father and Dumbledore had sparked a whirlwind of emotions. He was of course happy it was happening; he had been the one to orchestrate it, after all.
The emotional snag for most twelve-year-olds in a similar situation would likely have been that they felt bad for their father and his friend. That maybe, even if they did deserve it, they had taken things a touch too far.
This wasn’t the case for Harry.
What had Harry less than pleased was something far more selfish.
He was pretty sure his side would win the trial, which was a positive, but he still wasn’t thrilled by the cost. Assuming, of course, that the use of a pensieve was permitted — which should really be a surety with the amount of evidence that had already been put forth — all of those in charge of governing the country would be personally viewing most of Harry’s worst memories. Almost all of them taking place at Privet Drive, and almost all of them showing Harry at his absolute weakest.
It was not a prospect he was looking forward to but by the time he came in for a landing in front of the massive manor home, he had once more come to the conclusion that it was merely an unfortunate sacrifice that needed to be made.
When he did land, someone was waiting for him. A tall someone with dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
“I thought I might find you out here,” said Daphne.
“You were looking for me?”
“I was, yeah. I noticed that you seemed… a bit tense at breakfast when Adriana asked how you felt about the whole trial.”
“You are terrifyingly good at reading me and Occlumency seems to have done nothing to stop that.”
She shrugged. “I have a good idea of what bothers you, so I know when to look for signs. You didn’t really give anything away except for being a bit tense; I just know you. No amount of Occlumency can change that.” When Harry didn’t speak for a moment, Daphne decided to prompt him. “So… how do you feel about the trial?”
“It’s necessary,” Harry said with a sigh, running a hand through his now windswept hair. “I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I was — well, am — tense because all of the most important people in the country are going to get to watch most of my worst memories. No doubt they’ll get spread around half the country by the next day; especially with Skeeter no doubt lurking around.”
“But you think it’s worth it?”
“I do, yeah. I… wish I didn’t, but I just don’t trust my father to do what’s best for me. He did save me from getting expelled over the whole Heir of Slytherin thing, but that’s just one thing against so many others.”
“You don’t need to explain it to me, Harry. He doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. You should never give him the satisfaction of having it.”
“I don’t hate him,” Harry admitted. “I hate what he’s done, but I don’t hate him.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
He shrugged. “It just… feels like I should. I really just don’t care about him. It’s awkward being in the same room with him, so I try to avoid that but in general, I’m just not that bothered.”
“That’s probably for the best. If you hated him, it would make this whole thing more complicated. Not to mention the fact that, no matter how this trial goes, we do still need to go to school with his son; who is obviously your brother.” She took a step closer to him. “It’s not a bad thing that you don’t hate him. It shows maturity, if nothing else. You don’t have to dislike someone to not trust them.”
“I’m honestly not sure if I don’t trust him as a person, or if I don’t trust him to get convinced into doing something stupid by the old idiot — who he seems to listen to about everything that has ever existed.”
“I do hope he gets convicted. I have no doubt your father will; I don’t see how he couldn’t. Dumbledore though… he has so much pull and it just seems impossible anyone could get him for anything.”
“My solicitor is confident.”
“I hope she’s right, it just seems so unreal that anyone could possibly best Dumbledore in anything. I know you obviously didn’t grow up in the magical world, but for those of us who did… he was sort of just this larger than life figure. My family has never been his biggest supporters by any means, but it still seems crazy to even think of him losing.”
“It seems crazy to me to believe that Voldemort is still out there, that I can speak to snakes, that the Chamber of Secrets really does exist, and that the Department of Mysteries got involved with the last bit and covered up exactly how it happened. Yet, here we are.”
“It is a crazy world we live in, isn’t it?”
Silence stretched between them for almost a full minute before Harry broke it with a hesitant question of his own. He wasn’t overly good at being a supportive friend, he didn’t think, since it wasn’t something he had ever grown up doing, but he could at least copy Daphne’s habits on that front and hope for the best.
“How’s your sister doing, if you don’t mind me asking? I don’t need details or anything, but I know something’s up with her.”
Daphne seemed to age right there before Harry’s eyes. “She’s… alive and improving.”
Harry had to suppress the urge to widen his eyes. “Whatever happened to her was really that serious?” Daphne nodded. “Is she going to make a full recovery?”
“We… don’t know yet. There are… things that might make the whole situation even more complicated than it already is. Nobody seems to know, and that’s honestly what’s killing me most. This is… something my family has been dealing with for a long time and I just want clarity on it.”
“Care for a distraction, then?”
“Well, you asked me back at the celebration feast after the chamber’s closing whether or not I could teach you how to duel. If you’re game, I have nothing better to do for the next couple of hours.”
Daphne’s countenance shifted from worried older sister to determined student so fast, it was genuinely off putting. “I’m ready,” she said, drawing her wand from her sleeve and looking attentively towards Harry.
June 27, 1993
Somewhere in Tallinn, Estonia
Daniel Shafiq’s eyes had narrowed the second the letter had been laid before him. He currently sat in his office inside the headquarters of the Resurging Republic of Hansa, situated in the centre of Estonia’s capital city. It was the most secure of their three capitals, hence it was where the small empire housed its most important members.
As such, the letter which an owl had doubtlessly tried to deliver to Shafiq directly had been delivered to him by his personal secretary. This was not at all unusual. It was, in fact, a frequent occurrence.
No, what made Daniel Shafiq’s eyes widen wasn’t the letter itself, but the fact that it had come from Britain.
That was a rarity, to be sure. The last time it had happened, it had been the letter from Lucius all those months ago. That particular missive had carried very interesting contents, so Shafiq was hopeful for this one as well.
It turned out the letter was not from Lucius Malfoy. When Shafiq saw who had sent it, he actually almost stopped reading it.
Until he read the first few lines, at which point his attention was caught entirely.
In many ways, this was actually far more interesting than Lucius’s letter ever had been. Not so immediately beneficial, but it screamed of potential.
If Daniel Shafiq knew how to do one thing, it was to spot and make good on potential; hence how the Resurging Republic of Hansa had come to exist in the first place.
Reaching for a quill of his own and summoning a piece of parchment with a wave of his wand, Daniel Shafiq immediately began penning his reply.
June 30, 1993
“It is done, Mother,” said Blaise, straightening up from the piece of parchment he had been hunched over for some time. From the sofa where she sat beside a handsome looking man who appeared to be in his mid forties, Antonia extended a well-manicured hand for the parchment. Blaise handed it to her after climbing to his feet and closing the distance between them.
She read it quickly but carefully. Blaise felt more than a little bit anxious, especially since not a sign of any emotion showed on his mother’s face.
“It is acceptable,” she decided. “You will send it off now?”
“Of course, Mother.”
“Good. Do keep me up to date with the situation as it develops. If there are any… complications, make me aware of them immediately. This is not a matter with which we can afford any errors.”
Blaise’s stoic, blank expression showed none of the inner turmoil and conflict he felt as he slowly nodded along. “I understand, Mother. I’ll get it sent off right away.”
A lot of setup went on in this chapter, but it is sort of to be expected for the first chapter of a new year.
Next chapter will be the trial, the return of an old, significant face, and some other things which will make more sense in time.
Please read and review.
NOTE FOR PATRONS: The original plan was actually to have the trial in this chapter, but I think it honestly works better in the next one. Once I write and publish chapter 56 for you guys, it may get bumped back to the end of this chapter, but I doubt it. Just a note of that here in case it does end up happening, though.
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.