Ashes of Chaos
Year 3: The Blackest of Truths
Chapter 25: Cunning Coronations
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.
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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 3: The Blackest of Truths
November 6, 1993
The Quidditch Pitch
Harry never thought he would envy his first ever Quidditch match last fall; flying against the cursed bludger had been one of the most difficult and dangerous things he had ever done. Yet as Harry soared through a rain-filled sky and tried in vain to squint through a haze of dark clouds and falling water, he began to think the cursed bludger might be preferable.
Why was it that nothing he did could be normal? Normal school years had been something Harry had given up on last year, but Quidditch? Was a game in reasonable conditions without the constant threat of death too much to ask for?
The sky boomed as if in answer, sending a jagged pillar of lightning down towards the earth. It was not dangerously close to any of the players or spectators, but it still served to keep them all alert. Seriously, Hogwarts had some very odd standards when it came to safety. Harry thought they ought not to be up here in brooms at all, but he supposed it was much easier to think that with dripping hair and water-logged robes.
They had been flying for the better part of an hour, yet Harry had caught no sign of the golden snitch. Nor had Charlus, it appeared. The two of them looped past each other again, but neither made any move to unsettle the other. Something like a feint or false dive was too treacherous to risk in these conditions. The prospect of throwing off the opposing seeker just wasn’t worth it. Not that Charlus would certainly avoid such tricks. It would be very in-character for him to do something death-defying for the sake of a Quidditch match. Though Harry supposed neither of them had room to criticize the other after their deadly chase beneath the stands last November.
Harry almost ran head-long into Cassius, who streaked dangerously close by. Harry pulled his broom out of the way at the last possible second, but it was a near thing. Never had he been more grateful for whatever Adrian the vampire had done to his eyes more than two years ago. It seemed that he could see more sharply through the chaos than most, but that was not saying much. Catching the snitch was going to boil down to luck and chance at this rate.
Harry frowned, trying to squint at the streaking figures far below. Slytherin was in possession of the quaffle and carrying it into Gryffindor’s half, but beyond that, Harry could tell very little. Even the score eluded him; he had spent most of his time fighting the rebellious winds and blinking the pouring water from his eyes.
Merlin, this was stupid. Bletchley had suggested someone fake an injury to get out of this game about a week ago. The team had considered it, but Harry had been among those foolish enough to rebel against the idea. It appeared he now owed Bletchley an apology. There was nowhere he would rather be than huddled up in the castle, reading, or practicing magic, or just about anything that didn’t involve pouring rain and rushing wind.
Harry never heard the whistle blow. Charlus just began floating towards the ground, so Harry followed. The Boy-Who-Lived was moving much too slowly to have been pursuing a snitch, so it didn’t take Harry long to figure out exactly what had happened.
“What’s the score?” he asked the second he landed. The others were every bit as drenched as he was, though they looked warmer. Being in the heat of the play the entire game probably helped. They had constant engagement and activity whereas Harry had been forced to circle above and hope that a spec of gold appeared so they could end this nightmare.
“I think we’re up seventy,” said Pucey, pushing a mop of plastered hair off his forehead.
“Sixty,” Bletchley corrected. “Hooch flew by my goal just before the timeout and I asked her.”
“Was it you who called it?” Cassius asked.
Bletchley shook his head. “No, must have been Wood. Watch yourself, Harry, he’s probably telling the other Potter just how badly they need the snitch.”
“I’m shocked anyone’s sixty points ahead,” Harry grumbled. “I’m not sure how any of you can even score.”
“I’m not sure how Wood or I can save anything,” Bletchley said with a scowl.
“Teamwork has just sort of gone out the window on both sides,” said Cassius. “It’s really come down to the brooms more than usual and Draco made sure we had the best before his father took him out of Hogwarts.”
Draco Malfoy — that was not a name Harry had considered lately. It was a pleasant change from his first year and a half at the castle; though if he could choose between Malfoy and Riddle, he would take the former without hesitation. He might have been annoying, but at least Harry found him relatively unthreatening. The same could not be said for Riddle, whose few friends seemed to be growing more popular as of late.
Harry ought to have done a better job on that front. There was just so much else going on that finding time to win students to Calypso’s cause had grown difficult. Harry had spoken with some of the second years — aided by Ginny, Charlotte, and Laine. The first years had been easy, at first, but he feared Daphne’s sister might have been swaying more of them than him. Harry had considered asking Daphne to talk to Astoria and get her to stop, but that had not been in the cards as of yet. He knew Daphne planned to confront her in the next week, though, so perhaps he would ask if she could slip that in.
Harry had to resist a scowl as the game and its sounds became little more than background noise for his current train of thought. Really, what he ought to be doing is orchestrating some sort of ambush against Riddle. Grace had advised him to wait until she took the house and that plan was sound on paper. The problem was that any time Harry considered it, his gut gave an odd lurch and dread closed around him. He could not shake the feeling that something in that plan would go wrong and that Harry needed to act now.
“Potter!” Harry snapped back to attention, eyes finding Bletchley, who was mounting his broom. Madam Hooch must have blown the whistle to signify a return to play. “Up in the air!”
Harry took a deep breath and swung his legs over his broom, shooting skyward and leaving a spray of mud and water in his wake.
Meanwhile, in an Abandoned classroom…
It was odd being in a near-empty room with James for a serious conversation and not to see a bottle of fire whiskey nearby. Perhaps it was because this was not on his own premises or perhaps it was because he didn’t want others realizing how big a mess he was.
Or, perhaps, James just wanted to savour a moment none of them had ever thought would come. Peter had certainly been as surprised as anyone when James had arranged this gathering and decided they would meet at Hogwarts under the pretence of watching the Potter twins play Quidditch. Peter was grateful the meeting was being held indoors. The sky looked something fierce and he did not envy anyone foolish enough to agree to play in such treacherous conditions.
Thoughts like that occasionally made Peter wonder why it was he had been in Gryffindor. His actions ever since the latter Hogwarts years had resembled those of a Slytherin much more closely.
Then again, as he looked between two of his oldest friends, Peter supposed it took a certain boldness to so completely betray people like these.
“Merlin,” James muttered as if reading Peter’s mind. “If anyone would have told me the three of us would have wound up in a room together again…” he trailed off.
“I never expected to return to England,” Remus said candidly. “If anyone here is surprised, it’s me.”
“But if anyone here deserves my thanks, it’s you,” said James.
Remus’s face darkened. “You shouldn’t thank me.”
“Shouldn’t thank you?” James asked. “Remus, you saved my son’s life.”
“I think your son did as much for me as I did for him.”
James frowned. “I know he’s good, but he can’t be that good.”
“It wasn’t about his level of skill — though yes, he is incredible for his age; I’ve never seen anything like it — it’s about the numbers. I would have died had I duelled Sirius alone.”
“He was always a solid duellist. Now that he’s willing to dip into his dark well of tricks, I imagine he’s even deadlier.”
Remus just shook his head. “It defies logic,” Remus said quietly. “I would never have imagined Sirius could be so skillful.”
“That bad, huh?”
Remus met James’s stare unwaveringly. “He was knocking me around casually. Had he not been focused on Harry, there were half a dozen times he could have killed me. I’ve hardly ever seen anything like it.”
Peter just watched the exchange and internally mused. These were interesting tidbits. Bellatrix had been more confident about their plan than he. It wasn’t that Peter thought the plan was bad, it was simply that he worried the girl might not have been skillful enough to pull the act off at her age, regardless of who she would one day become.
He had apparently worried over nothing. That troubled him some. If she had been so incredible, why was it that the Potter heir still lived? Surely she could have killed him if she had dominated Remus with such ease? Everything Peter knew told him it had been an extraordinary stroke of luck for the boy, but something nagged at him, trying to convince Peter there was more afoot than he realized. Of course, that was foolish; there was no other possible explanation for such an oddity.
“You’ll know for next time,” James was saying. “That’s one of the first things they teach new recruits.” His expression darkened. “It was during the Purity War, anyway. Your mind is as important as your body. Sirius took you by surprise; it won’t happen again.”
Remus nodded, but Peter could see he did not look convinced. Peter himself simply sat back and wondered whether or not there would be a next time. The plan had failed, and surely, the castle would be more prepared for any further ploys of a similar nature.
He scowled. He had done incredible things for the DMLE and for the Death Eaters. From busting notorious criminals, to doing the impossible as recently as August, Peter had become stunningly proficient at achieving whatever it was he set his mind to.
So why was it that, of all things, he had been unable thus far to succeed in this after more than a year of trying? How was getting rid of one thirteen-year-old boy so damn difficult?
Back out on the pitch…
A wall of wind slammed into Harry so hard his grip almost broke. This match might have been comparable to last year’s in some ways, but Harry would much prefer if, this time, he could avoid leaving the pitch unconscious.
Harry just barely saw the bludger in time to dodge. It still grazed his shoulder and sent a lance of pain up his arm, but it could have been much worse. That was the real danger of playing in conditions like this. With a curtain of rain so thick it obscured one’s vision, the players ran real risks of colliding with each other or failing to dodge bludgers.
Harry thought for a moment he had spotted the snitch, but it was just Bletchley’s watch as Harry flew in a loop around the posts. Anything shiny looked like a snitch in this weather. At this point, Harry’s eyes were simply looking for anything bright.
Lightning flashed as if on cue. It had been some time since the last rumble of thunder or flash of lightning, so it took Harry aback. He shut his eyes for a second against its light and heard cursing nearby. His eyes reopened swiftly and he scanned the pitch, expecting that Charlus had caught sight of the golden snitch. The Boy-Who-Lived certainly had seen something, but judging by the way he hovered motionlessly in mid-air, Harry suspected the snitch was not it. So what…
Harry followed Charlus’s gaze and saw what he was staring at as lightning flashed once more. A swarm of black figures were gliding towards the pitch, hooded heads turned upwards, staring directly at the Potter twins. There were dozens of them, more than Harry had thought were at Hogwarts.
He felt his skin begin to grow cold. Had he not spotted the dementors, Harry would just have thought it a byproduct of the weather. Then again, he might not have been able to imagine growing colder. If he carried any doubts, the dementors stripped them away the moment they glided onto the pitch.
Screaming filled Harry’s ears; it was coming from everywhere. The crowd appeared to be in chaos. Harry hovered near Charlus, trying to decide what to do. What was it his father had mentioned as a defence against dementors? The Patronus Charm? Why was it Harry had not yet researched that spell? What the hell had he been thinking?
The screams grew higher and louder in his ears. No! he thought, seizing hold of his mind with as much force as Occlumency would allow. The screaming quieted for a moment, but then it returned, anew, joined with other sounds. A cupboard door slamming shut, the sound of a belt whistling through the air, Harry’s own cursing as he stared up through a black haze at the face of Daniel Selwyn as rough ropes bit tightly into his arms and legs.
The cold was retreating, but Harry was unsure why. If the dementors had fled, surely the sounds would have stopped? But no, they were retreating too, or maybe that was just the deafening sound of air rushing past Harry. Whistling air? Where had that come from? Had he subconsciously tried to fly away? Had he caught sight of the snitch? Had he…
Consciousness was taken from him as all thoughts died.
Some time later, in the hospital wing…
It took Harry only moments to realize where he was upon waking. The soft bed, the white ceiling, the sharp smell of potions used to clean wounds and fight infections.
“Merlin,” he muttered, “I wish I’d stop ending up here.”
“Amen to that,” someone groaned from beside him. A part of Harry could not help but feel annoyed. Why was it that Charlus always awoke before him?
“We fell from our brooms, didn’t we?” Harry asked.
“Yup,” Charlus said with a sigh. “I lost focus when the dementors showed up. I’ve been told we both slipped off at about the same time.”
“Someone caught us, then? Arresto Momentum, I’d reckon.”
“I know Lockhart caught us, but I’m not sure what he used.”
“It’s not important,” Harry muttered. “What was the score?”
Charlus scowled. “Your lot won by seventy. They called the game when we fell and just tallied the final score.”
Harry could live with that, he supposed. Beating Charlus to the snitch would have been infinitely more satisfying, but in the grand scheme of things it mattered very little. He had survived a fall that ought to have killed him and had even been part of the winning team. All in all, he could only be grateful for how the game had gone.
“What the hell were the dementors doing on the pitch? I thought they had orders to stay out of the grounds.”
“I have no idea,” said Charlus. “Father’s never liked them; he said they served Voldemort during the Purity War and that they couldn’t be trusted. I reckon they just sensed a bunch of people out on the pitch and thought they’d have themselves a feast.”
The twins laid in silence as Harry milled that over. Was it that simple? Had the dementors just been selfish or was there more at play? If they were loyal to Voldemort, was it possible they were also loyal to those who had followed her? Could Black actually be the one in control of the dementors?
No, that didn’t add up. If Black was in control, why flee? It kept up appearances, sure, but if that was the case, why had he not simply instructed the dementors not to interrupt his skirmish?
That other idea poked at the back of Harry’s mind, beginning for consideration, it still sounded so incredibly outlandish; Harry hesitated to truly ponder it too far. Yet… if the dementors were under the control of the would-be kidnapper…
Harry blinked. “Sorry, I spaced out. What is it?”
“Do you know the Patronus Charm?”
This again. Harry had meant to look into it after the train, but there had simply been too much afoot. It had fallen so low on his list of priorities that, until earlier that day whilst up in the sky, Harry had not considered the charm since the train.
“I don’t,” Harry admitted. “I plan to learn it soon, though. It got shoved near the bottom of my priorities list, but that’s going to change now.”
“I’ve looked all over for it,” said Charlus, “but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. If you do find out how to cast it, would you… uh, mind sending me instructions in a letter or something?”
Harry frowned. Charlus had not yet made real progress in the case of who meddled with his and Ron’s mind. Harry owed him nothing until that happened. Really, Charlus ought to feel fortunate Harry was speaking with him at all. Yet…
“Sure,” Harry agreed, “I’ll let you know what I find.”
Something about leaving his twin at the mercy of the dementors made Harry’s stomach writhe. There were very few people in the world Harry would leave helpless before those monsters, and it turned out his brother — though sickeningly troublesome at times — was not one of them.
Charlus let some of the tension leave his body and fell back against the pillows. “Thanks.”
Harry nodded. “Don’t mention it.”
The question now was where Harry would find that charm. If Charlus had been unsuccessful in locating it so far, it likely wasn’t easily accessible. The Restricted Section might have something to say about it, but searching there would likely take time. The same went for Harry’s own personal collection, though personally, he doubted it was in any of those volumes. He had read at least part of most of those books and the only time he had ever heard of the Patronus Charm had been during the meeting with his father over the summer holidays.
Fortunately for Harry, he had more gifted contracts than Charlus. If anyone could tell him about an especially advanced charm that seemed relatively obscure, it would be Grace. Charms had been her best subject at Hogwarts; she had been one of the best students the subject had seen this century. Only Harry’s mother, Lockhart’s father, and Voldemort had truly rivalled her.
“What do you see when a dementor gets near you?”
Charlus’s question sent a jolt through Harry’s body. It was the same question he had tried asking more subtly right before the welcoming feast. Harry had dismissed him then and done his best to act nonchalant, but the fiasco today had crumbled that act.
Still, he scowled. “Not what you see based on what you’ve said.”
“Is it something from… living with them?”
Harry turned an icy stare on Charlus, who shrank slightly back. “Drop it, Charlus. I haven’t answered this when any of my friends asked me — I’m not about to explain it to you.”
Harry sighed, looking around the room for Madam Pomfrey. He felt fine and was confident he had sustained no true injuries. If he was especially fortunate, she would let him out after a brief check-up. “What happened to our brooms?” he asked as the thought struck him.
He heard Charlus shuffling uncomfortably in his bed and knew the answer before the Boy-Who-Lived gave it. Perhaps Harry had not been quite as fortunate that day as he’d thought.
Minutes later, in the Slytherin common room…
It turned out that Harry was correct in his assumption. No major injuries had been sustained during his fall and, the moment Madam Pomfrey looked him over, he was allowed to leave the hospital wing alongside his brother.
“Have you made any progress looking into potential culprits?” Harry asked Charlus when they left the hall, eager to take his own mind off the destruction of his prized broomstick.
Charlus looked down. “I’ve… uh, been distracted since the break-in.”
Harry sighed. “Charlus, there’s no more important thing in the world for you to be doing. Now that Black’s broken in, that’s even more true.”
“I know, I know, just… if it isn’t Snape, I don’t see who it could possibly be.”
The fact Harry couldn’t just come out and say it was Pettigrew was infuriating. Part of him suspected the answer was to drip Charlus bits of information like he had Daphne when helping her piece together the connection between Nigma and Voldemort, but Harry had nothing concrete enough. There was the fact Pettigrew had given Harry the same book Charlus had accused him of passing along, but on its own, Harry suspected it would be called a coincidence. Pettigrew had done an excellent job of ingratiating himself to Charlus. It would take very firm proof for the Boy-Who-Lived to take Harry’s side in that particular exchange.
“Keep looking, will you?”
Charlus nodded. “Of course. It just… feels daunting.”
“Most things do nowadays,” said Harry, raising a hand in farewell as the brothers parted. Charlus moved up the marble staircase and towards the Gryffindor common room whilst Harry moved underneath it and through the secret passageway that would take him closer to his own.
The dungeons were eerily empty. There were usually a few students milling around even after curfew, but tonight, it was quieter than death. Harry swore he could feel his own breathing as he neared the entrance to the Slytherin common room. Tension built within him as he moved and Harry reached for his wand. The feeling he got from the other side of the entrance reminded him painfully of that first night.
Harry briefly contemplated using his ring to become invisible, but decided against it. They would see the common room’s entrance open regardless, and he doubted he was about to walk into a pitch-battle like that first night. He was not important enough to warrant that kind of attention by himself. If he was with Calypso and the rest of their group… that was a different matter altogether.
There was nothing for it.
The common room door slid open with a quiet command. An initial glance of the common room gave nothing away. Calypso and her friends were sitting near the Lounge, but others were closer.
Selwyn, Jugson, and his friends. Harry allowed his posture to relax. If Selwyn and his group made a move, that was something they could handle. Calypso could probably outduel Selwyn, and Harry was confident he could take on anyone else in the group. None of them were as talented as Flint had been, and Harry had improved in leaps and bounds since that duel.
Yet… something was off. Younger students sat near the lounge, too — closer to it than even Calypso. The younger Jugson, Mulciber, Cuffe, Travers, Rowle, Thicknesses…
All of them were Riddle’s.
Harry felt his blood run cold just as he took a seat near a tense-looking Calypso.
“Riddle—” Harry’s voice cut off as mutters filled the common room. Riddle had entered, but not via the common entrance. She had come from up the hallway leading to her dorms. Harry frowned; he had studied Riddle’s movements the best he could and he never saw her spending any time in her dorms. The mutters agreed with him. Some were saying she had never entered the common room, but that could not be.
Riddle was the image of perfection as she moved towards the fire. It’s light made her pale skin look waxy as her blue eyes shone. She looked even taller than normal in that moment, moving across the common room with purposeful steps that echoed off the walls like loud, successive thunderclaps as the mutters gave way to complete and total silence.
Harry knew her course before she reached the lounge. It was obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and he could feel Calypso tense further beside him.
“Let her have it!” he whispered.
She rounded him on him. “Are you out of your mind? I haven’t done all this work just to give it to her!”
“This wouldn’t be giving it to her—”
“Really? That’s what it sound like to me.”
“She’ll be more comfortable once she takes it. We can wait until her paranoia dies down and launch an ambush.”
“We need support for an ambush. Most of that support dies if I do nothing now.”
“We don’t need half the house to stage an ambush. Just — oi, Calypso, no!”
It was too late. Calypso had risen from her chair and bounded forward before Harry could stop her. He made to rise, but Cassius rested a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. The implication was obvious — Calypso meant to do this alone.
She didn’t wait for Riddle to turn or accept a challenge — she simply launched a volley of debilitating curses at her back. Harry waited with dread as the spells seemed to move in slow motion. Any second, Riddle would turn and bat them away… but she didn’t.
They slammed into her and she fell, writing on the floor as the common room burst alive with sudden noise. Through all of it, though, one sound Harry did not hear was Riddle screaming…
“CALYPSO! BEHIND YOU!”
Harry never saw the real Riddle move up behind Calypso, he just reacted to his hunch and spoke on instinct.
Calypso apparently still trusted him, for she whirled without thought and batted Riddle’s volley back towards her, countering without missing a beat. Riddle waved her wand and summoned an empty chair to block the volley just as she flicked a hand towards Calypso. The gesture was lazy, dismissive; little more than swatting a fly.
It would have taken Harry out, for how was one to anticipate wandless magic?
Yet Calypso did, for she sprang sideways, letting Riddle’s wandless Banishing Hex through a couch behind her into the opposite wall. Harry realized then that Calypso did not underestimate Riddle at all — she seemed to know exactly what she was up against — she simply overestimated herself.
Riddle’s summoned chair had burst into flames upon intercepting Calypso’s curses; with a flick of her wand, Riddle sent the fire spinning towards Calypso in the form of a blazing tornado. Calypso vanished the fire with a swept of her wand, but Riddle had not been idle. She sent a bolt of silver into the air much like that first night and Harry knew it was over.
Yet it wasn’t — Merlin, Calypso was better than he had realized.
She waved her wand and encased the bolt in a block of stone. It blew apart immediately, but it protected everyone else in the room and allowed her to go back on the offensive. Riddle didn’t bother defending — she just animated couches, tables, and even the stones at her feet to rise in protection of her before charging towards Calypso. This continued for about ten seconds before Harry’s friend noticed she was in trouble and let loose with her own fire and a series of Blasting Curses that destroyed the rubble.
Yet, again, Riddle had not been idle.
The stone behind Calypso rose, taking the form of a rearing serpent that struck at her from behind, sending her tumbling forward. Calypso managed to keep hold of her wand and blast the creature back, but more stone was rising up, pinning her arms to the floor as her wand sailed from her hand.
Riddle caught it and, for the first time, Harry studied her expression. She did not look the least bit troubled — on the contrary, she looked joyful.
Then, she hissed.
Every snake in the room came alive, surging towards Calypso. She screamed as the larger ones wrapped around her body, cutting off her oxygen. Most of the others began tearing at her and, to his horror, Harry could see lines of blood begin spreading outwards from the place she laid.
No! This couldn’t be happening! It couldn’t! What could Harry do? The room was in chaos, his friend was being mauled, he had to stop it.
The feeling of perceptual dilation was unlike anything Harry had ever experienced. The act of using it was, perhaps, more foolish than anything Harry had ever done. This was not something he had practiced with Grace before, nor even Charlotte. This was something he had read about long ago as a level 3 sub-skill and decided the night of Samhain he was going to master.
One did not usually master advanced sub-skills like this in less than a week, not even with the notes Harry had again begun using in the Speaker’s Den. Using the Den so often still unsettled him, but he had needed this after Samhain. The way he had been attacked with such blinding speed and always without hesitation had made him see just how far behind he was.
The other problem with suddenly deciding to do something so foolish as dilating without sufficient practice was that Harry had no idea how long he could keep this up. Most could hold the dilation for no more than three heartbeats, but most could not learn the skill in such a short period of time. Harry did not have time to ponder how long he could keep this up, so instead, he inspected the room.
Calypso was indeed bleeding from several gashes, but it was mercifully not as dire as Harry feared. All of the major cuts were on her arms or face; though there were snakes rearing above her torso, poised to strike. Those would be more problematic.
Now that time seemed to have slowed, Harry knew his initial assessment of things had been flawed. Not all of the room’s snakes had attacked Calypso. There were at least a dozen larger ones slithering between Calypso and his couch, obviously blocking her friends from supporting her. This was more troubling. There would be no time to fight them off before the snakes attacked more vital areas and Harry did not trust Riddle to call them off before that happened.
Shit! Three heartbeats — Harry had to decide what to do fast. The only thing he knew was that, no matter what happened, he would not allow this attack to go any further than it had.
Which meant he needed some way to call all the snakes off immediately and without the delay caused by a drawn-out battle.
There was only one way. He had known it from the beginning, he thought, but Harry sought other avenues.
There were none and he saw that Riddle was staring not towards Calypso, but towards Harry. She knew as well as he did that only one thing could stop this mauling and she suspected someone in the room might be capable of it.
Riddle had effectively killed two birds with one stone, but Harry could do nothing else. She could have her victory if it meant this all stopped.
Harry’s perception of time returned to normal, but for a moment, he feared he’d done real damage to his mind. The stillness in the common room was so absolute that he feared delusions or perhaps even some sort of perceptual paralysis.
Then, he realized everyone was just gaping at him for speaking Parseltongue. Damn Riddle — damn the bitch to hell and back!
Harry stood, his footsteps echoing just like those of Riddle’s doppelgänger. The snakes parted before him and the mass of them atop Calypso retreated with but a glance.
Harry then stepped between Calypso and Riddle, aiming his wand and locking eyes with the Heiress of Slytherin and sending a single message without the need for words.
You will not touch her.
“You speak at last,” Riddle hissed, actually taking the time to smile at Harry.
“Leave!” he hissed back, jerking his head towards the common room’s entrance.
Riddle tilted her head. “And what will you give me in return? We both know you can’t defeat me with magic.”
Harry stared up at her with hatred in his eyes, fire burning in the pit of his stomach as he realized that she would take more from him before the night was done.
“What is it you want?”
“To speak with you, to understand you, and perhaps even to collaborate with you.”
Harry opened his mouth, intent on telling Riddle exactly what he thought of that idea when he paused. She had him. If he refused, she would strike him down and set the snakes on Calypso yet again. Harry had only two choices — give Riddle what she wanted, or let her savage him and one of his friends.
“Fine. Now leave!”
“In a moment.” Riddle walked past Harry and moved towards Calypso. He spun towards her, but she stepped right over his friend’s fallen form, moving instead towards the lounge-like chair directly before the fire. Riddle smiled, patting its seat and prompting several serpents to curl around each of its arms. Only then did she turn back to Harry, bow her head, and leave; her footsteps echoing in the deafening silence louder than her doppelgänger’s ever could have.
I suspect this will be a very controversial chapter after which people will ask why Harry didn’t turn into a god and solve his problems with a wave of his hand. I personally find this chapter to be a good show of character development from him, but we shall see what you all think.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be posted in TWO WEEKS TIME. I will elaborate more in the Monthly Forecast releasing on Tuesday, but I will be shifting AoC to a biweekly upload schedule going forward. THE NEXT TWO CHAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PATRONS RIGHT NOW! THERE WILL BE AT LEAST ONE MORE CHAPTER AVAILABLE BY THE TIME CHAPTER 80 IS RELEASED FOR DISCORD MEMBERS. If you would like to read those chapters early, feel free to sign up to my Patreon page.
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