- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- Canon Divergent
- Established Relationship
- Fix It
- Time Travel
“Did you read the story I asked you to read last week?”
“The one about the Deathly Hallows?” Harry questioned. “Yes, sir, Hermione found the whole book pretty fascinating as we’ve never really seen what children’s books look like in the magical world. The animated drawings were cool.” He rubbed his knee. “She says that magical fairytales are pretty dark, but honestly, Muggle ones are just as dark if you really dig deep and find the original ones.” He took a deep breath. “My cloak is the Cloak of Invisibility, right? The one that has been passed down through my family for generations despite the fact that demiguise hair shouldn’t last that long.”
“Yes.” Ragnok watched the boy absorb that information and wasn’t all that surprised by his stoic demeanor. The more information the wizard had, the calmer he was, and the better his thought processes were. It was no wonder that Dumbledore kept him in the dark as much as possible. “Earlier in the summer, after our return, I sought out a horcrux. It was the one I knew I had to get my hands on immediately as Lenore is certain that it was the beginning of our end in the other timeline.”
Potter frowned. “Riddle turned a Hallow into a horcrux? That’s pretty dumb, right? I mean he’s spent his whole life running from Death, then he goes and kicks him right in the face by desecrating one of the Hallows?”
“I doubt Riddle knew the ancestral ring he stole from the Gaunt family had the Resurrection Stone stuck in it,” Ragnok said. “Like you, he wasn’t exposed to children’s tales. Perhaps he knows of them now, but if he’d made the connection to the ring, it would’ve never been left where he left it.” He flicked a small pouch out of his dimensional store and placed it in front of the boy. “I’ve transferred the horcrux to a different object for later destruction. We had to do it in ritual, and it took some time to empower the circle.”
Harry hesitantly picked up the ring. “I…I would’ve liked to have watched that.”
“I did consider it but felt it was not worth the risk. You already have one horcrux nesting in your magic. You don’t need another. Speaking of, Omis believes that you’ll be in a good place to remove the horcrux around Halloween. She’d like to see the ritual performed on October 31st when the veil is thin.”
“We hope that if your spirit is wrenched from your body during the ritual, that we will have enough power to put you back where you belong,” Ragnok said. “To that end, Quintin Deadmarsh will be leading the ritual for the Glain Neidr. He’s a necromancer.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open. “You know a necromancer?”
“He’s Armand Deering’s nephew and has worked for the bank his entire adult life. Quintin doesn’t perform the darkest rituals available within the craft of necromancy, but there are members of his family who do. His great-grandfather led a death cult. The sort of cult Riddle tried to emulate by calling his followers death eaters.”
“Oh.” Harry exhaled sharply. “I…I mean…I don’t think Hermione would want me anywhere near such a thing.”
Ragnok grinned. “I have to admit that Lenore finds Master Deadmarsh quite vexing, but that is due to the fact that they are so opposite when it comes to their magical approach to situations and problems. Lenore looks toward to the future while Quintin finds comfort in exploring the past.” He pushed the pouch across the desk between them.
Harry sighed but then picked it up. “The story said to use the Resurrection Stone would cause your loved ones nothing but pain.” He wet his lips. “I can’t think of a circumstance where I would do that to my parents.”
“If I told you that you did attempt to use the stone in the other timeline?”
“I…” Harry paused and frowned then spilled the ring out into his hand. The black stone glinted with magic. “Did I think I was going to die?”
Harry nodded. “I must have been scared and worried—maybe I wanted reassurance that I would be reunited with my family after I died.” He put the ring down on the desk. “You said that I attempted to use it.”
“Dumbledore destroyed the stone when he drove the horcrux from it. Whatever your future-self saw, it was nothing more than elaborate enchantment. I imagine Dumbledore spelled the stone to respond to your desires in the hopes that you would use it.”
“One more chance to manipulate me,” Harry said. “Even from the grave. Does his corruption even have an end? Will we be tripping over his schemes and machinations even decades after he is dead?”
Ragnok sighed. “You’ll give me nightmares, lad.”
“You want me to wear the ring,” Harry said.
“No,” Ragnok said. “I merely wanted you to see it as it currently is. I believe, lad, that if you wished it, your staff would absorb the stone.”
“To what end?”
“It would provide it with shelter, something it clearly desires,” Ragnok said roughly. “I believe it is part of your path and your duty to gather and protect the Hallows.”
Harry frowned but drew his staff from his own dimensional store and placed it on the desk. The ring rattled, and the stone snapped free of the gold. It fell to the desk and sat there.
Ragnok picked up the gold setting and flicked it back into his bracelet. “I’ll have the gold melted down.”
“Is it tainted?”
“No, just offensive and badly designed,” Ragnok said. “Whoever set that stone should be thrown down a mine shaft.”
Harry laughed but then focused on the stone. “The High Priestess thinks I should master the Hallows?”
He nodded and picked up the stone. It settled into his palm as he stared at it and took on a gentle glow. “I can see why my future self used it now.”
“Beyond measure, but it would be terribly selfish, and I can’t…I can’t be that man again.”
“Do you think your future-self was selfish?”
“Unspeakably so,” Harry confessed though his gaze never left the stone. “He should’ve been doing everything he could to work free of the loyalty curse. Instead, he just stayed in his situation and made a baby with that terrible witch. I hope I’m never so complacent that I would allow Hermione to suffer as she did in the future.”
“The Hermione from the future seemed convinced they were both stuck in their circumstances,” Ragnok said neutrally.
Harry focused on him then. “Loyalty is a very tricky thing, you know. It can be twisted and turned; obviously, Dumbledore excels at it. I think he focuses on that particular emotion because he’s utterly incapable of it himself. Moreover, he has no hope of earning it from anyone around him if he demonstrates who he really is. I think given enough time, I could’ve twisted whatever loyalty magic I had on me to the point where I was loyal to exactly one Weasley.” He focused on Ragnok. “Though she wouldn’t have been Ron’s wife for long after I accomplished that.”
“Considering your magical power, I agree,” Ragnok said simply. “The limiter on your magic would’ve been destroyed during your second maturation. At that point, magic that the loyalty charm had never had access to would’ve flooded your core. The charm was entrenched, so I doubt you could’ve removed it wholesale, but you could’ve certainly, with time and dedication, mutated to your own purpose.
“But as to the matter of selfishness, I don’t think he was.”
“You were very much at odds with him,” Harry said. “And you don’t consider his actions selfish?”
“Arrogant, perhaps but not selfish. But knowing his magical circumstances even makes the word arrogance feel wrong. More than anything, Harry, your future-self was a prisoner of his own magic. I’d never wish to see that circumstance again.”
Harry nodded and focused on the stone, then shifted his gaze to the staff that lay across the desk in front of him. He placed it very carefully in a spot just a few inches beneath the crystal focus stone embedded in the top. The stone teetered briefly on the smooth surface of the staff then sank into it with a flash of magic. He picked up the staff and stored it.
“Dumbledore has the Elder Wand.”
Harry made a face. “That figures.” He slouched back in the chair. “Is this what Master Warhide was talking about last week? Is this who I’m meant to be?”
“You’re incredibly young,” Ragnok said. “The next few years will shape the man you become, and that is Warhide’s focus. He’s rearranging his career and life to stand as the head of your staff when you become the Patron of the Horde. He wants to know who you will be, what your goals will be, and how all of that will change the future of the Horde.”
“So he doesn’t know about the Hallows or the horcruxes,” Harry surmised. “Shouldn’t he know?”
“Do you want him to know?” Ragnok questioned.
“Can we tell him the basics without revealing that you and the High Priestess time traveled?”
“Only you, Hermione, and Razel know about the time travel,” Ragnok said. “And that’s how I’d prefer it to remain. The rest can be explained and revealed without a discussion of that. I fear no wizard or their laws, but I won’t have my wife prosecuted for a crime against magic.”
“I understand,” Harry murmured. “It’s your duty to protect her.”
“It’s my privilege,” Ragnok corrected. “And I’m lucky every single day that she allows it.”
Harry nodded. “Have you decided about Hogwarts?”
“If we’re able to remove the horcrux from you before Yule, then yes, you can go with us to retrieve the diadem. It’ll lend authenticity to the search regardless if you’re there to suggest the Room of Lost Things in the Room of Requirement. Hermione’s journal entry about the room and its potential was very detailed.”
“I’ve read the excerpt you gave us about the diadem and the Room of Requirement several times over. I’m pretty sure I can make it work without a hitch, so it looks as if I have a lot of experience with it. I don’t like misleading Master Banner, though.”
“Neither do I, but we have other matters to consider, and I would not want to put him at risk by confiding in him that Lenore and I time-traveled. He would keep my confidence but if it was ever revealed that he knew he could face charges as well—both locally and internationally.”
Harry nodded. “I understand…it’s just uncomfortable.” He cleared his throat and stood. “But I’ve suffered far more for less, so I’ll push through it and do what needs to be done. I hope he’ll understand if it ever comes out that we were just protecting him.”
“He’ll understand, but he’ll also be furious,” Ragnok said wryly and grinned when Harry laughed. “Such is the way of men of honor. Thaddeus Banner is the best wizard I’ve ever known—strong, faithful, and sure of his place in the world. I’ve never had a moment where I doubted his resolve or his dedication to the light.”
Harry nodded and moved to stand by the window to stare out at Muggle London. “Did he survive the war the first time around?”
“No, he didn’t,” Ragnok said roughly. “He was killed in January of 1997 defending his wife and child. Piper managed to break free of the anti-portkey ward the Death Eaters launched, and she escaped with Jamie. She was heavily pregnant with their second child and barely survived long enough to birth the child. She’d been cursed and when compiled with the death of her husband, whom she shared as a deep magical affinity—it was too much. I arranged for both of their children be to taken to France where they were adopted by their close friend, Zale Wright.”
“The wizard who is friends with Isobel?” Harry questioned. “He’s married to Deadmarsh, right?” He raised an eyebrow. “Is that another reason you don’t want to tell Banner about the time travel? I think he might try to kick your bum if he found out you let a necromancer adopt his kids.”
Ragnok grinned briefly then sobered. “I put his children in the safest hands in Europe, I assure you. He would’ve accepted my reasoning, but I’d hate to tell him about Piper’s fate.”
“Would she have survived his death if she hadn’t been cursed?” Harry questioned.
“Yes, but she’d have never been the same emotionally or magically. There is a price to pay for embracing a magical affinity.”
“Is it really a choice?” Harry asked. “I don’t remember making the conscious decision to develop whatever I have going on with Hermione.”
“Can I be blunt with you?” Ragnok questioned.
Harry turned to face him and briefly chewed the bottom of his lip. “Yes, of course.”
“Right now, your magic is basically flirting with Hermione Granger’s. It will grow and change as your friendship with her continues. Should you wish it, it will never grow to be more than what you currently have with her. But the affinity will deepen with sexual intimacy, and it will become profound after participation in a marriage rite. Most couples report a soul-meeting during their marriage rites even if they’ve engaged in sexual intercourse before marriage.” He watched the boy’s cheeks darken but was pleased when he merely nodded his understanding. “Personal conflict and magical maturation can also change or lessen affinity.”
“So it becomes what we make it,” Harry said.
“In a way, yes,” Ragnok murmured. “But I think you would be remiss to ignore it. Even into adulthood, and despite the magical burden placed on you both you enjoyed a deep and wonderful friendship.”
“There could’ve been more if we weren’t essentially cursed by Dumbledore,” Harry said.
“Perhaps,” Ragnok agreed. “But I wouldn’t let the potential loss in the other timeline be an immense influence over you now. It’s not fair to either of you.”
“There’s no one I trust more than Hermione,” Harry admitted and turned his attention back toward the window. “And I think my magic was on board that train before the rest of me caught up. I’ll just have to work really hard not to mess it all up.”
“It’s all any of us can do,” Ragnok said with a laugh. “Females are a complicated business, you know.”
– – – –
Harry shoved his hands into his pockets as Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, and Arthur Weasley entered the room. He hadn’t wanted to attend this meeting at all, but Hermione said Sirius needed their support, so they’d left the cottage and come up to the bank to deal with whatever business Dumbledore had with Sirius. Ragnok had put up a ward boundary down their half of the room though it was currently invisible.
Dumbledore had used Sirius’ desire to have a conversation with Remus and Arthur Weasley to manipulate the situation in what Hermione considered an obscene fashion. She was sitting in a chair near the fireplace knitting. And Harry had chosen to stand near her instead of sitting at the table with his godfather.
“Sirius, you look good,” Arthur Weasley said with a pleased smile. “I was glad to see justice served. I hate that it took an international court to give you what you’re due.”
“I never expected to get a fair trial in Britain,” Sirius said. “But thank you, Arthur. I hope the house is working out for your family now that Kreacher is no longer an issue?”
“Ah, well, oddly, yes,” Arthur reported. “Cleaning charms are working now, and the twins managed to get your mother’s portrait off the wall. We tossed her into the attic. I had Bill arrange a place for Buckbeak at a sanctuary in Italy, and he left last week.”
“Thank you,” Sirius murmured and exhaled before he focused on Remus. “You lied to me, Remus. You told me Isobel was dead. Why would you do that?”
Lupin’s eyes widened. “I…I suppose she reached out to you?”
“She came to me as soon as she found out where I was,” Sirius said flatly. “Why did you lie to me?”
Remus looked away from him, and his shoulders tensed up briefly. Harry wondered if he was trying to think of a lie right there on the spot. It was oddly fascinating. Hermione’s needles clicked together gently every few seconds as she worked, it was oddly comforting. He’d grown used to the sound over the last few weeks as she knitted while she worked through things.
“You’d already ruined her life once,” Lupin said. “I saw no reason to involve her in your mess again. She was happy and content in Paris—with her Muggle job. Besides, we needed you here in Britain and not in France playing house with the daughter and sister of a Death Eater.”
“I’m the son and brother of a Death Eater,” Sirius said evenly. “You lied to me, Remus, and I don’t think I can forgive you again. I’m not sure I want to forgive you again.”
“She deserves better than you and whatever life you can offer her now that you’re free,” Remus snapped. “If you were a good wizard, you’d send her away.”
“That’s projection, right?” Harry questioned and focused on Hermione.
She hummed. “Yes, Mr. Lupin is quite convinced he has nothing to offer a woman but ruination so surely Sirius, who comes from a dark family, can do no better. In the end, he figures that neither one of them is as good or as light as your father was, so neither he nor Sirius deserves the life James should’ve gotten to live. It’s sad but also pitiful.”
Lupin glared at her.
Harry stepped forward slightly and forced Lupin to look at him instead. “Watch it, Remus. You’ve already gotten the only chance you’ll ever get come at either one of us without repercussions. It’s not her fault you’re so invested in your own victimhood that you can’t live your life. That could even be excused if you weren’t also deeply invested in making Sirius suffer in the same way.” He focused on Dumbledore when Lupin slumped down in his chair with wide, shocked eyes. “You wanted to speak to me, Headmaster Dumbledore?”
“I’d like you and Miss Granger to return to Hogwarts. Many people have expressed concerns about your current circumstances. You left friends behind who miss you as well.”
“Not on a bet,” Harry said evenly. “We’re both getting the kind of education that people would kill to receive, and I think I’d have better luck changing the course of the Thames with just my hand than I would convincing Hermione to return to a classroom with twenty other students where individual instruction is impossible.” He leaned on her chair. “I don’t think I have any real friends at Hogwarts at this point—not a single one of them has bothered to send me a letter.”
“Ron’s mentioned sending several letters,” Arthur interrupted. “He misses you both a lot, Harry.”
“In the last letter he sent to Hermione, Ron told her everything would’ve been better for him if she’d been killed by the troll during her first year,” Harry explained and watched Arthur pale. “As you can imagine, sir, neither one of us is interested in his friendship. He’s always been a shallow, fickle friend but now I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to forgive him for his behavior.”
He focused on Dumbledore then. “I have, however, received dozens of letters from the parents of your students thanking me for having the good sense not to return to Hogwarts to endanger their children. They hope I stay away, so Voldemort doesn’t get into the school, again, to try to get to me. I suspect if I were to show up for classes, that many parents would immediately withdraw their own children, and that’s not fair to them.
“There is nothing I need at Hogwarts, sir. The Horde will see to my thorough education, as they’ve already explained thoroughly to you, Master Ito and Chief Justice Bertrand.”
“You won’t defeat Voldemort without me,” Dumbledore said. “And I won’t speak of what I know in this bank. I don’t trust the goblins and never have.”
Harry frowned at him but then leaned forward a little. “Newsflash, Headmaster, every single dverger above the age of reason hates your guts, so they don’t care if you trust them or not. They think you’re a manipulative old con artist who indulges in magically expensive parlor tricks to bully people into doing what you want. Last time you were in the bank, they took bets on how many times you’d flair your aura in a fake temper. Griphook the Git won fifty galleons.”
Arthur Weasley snorted then coughed quickly into his hand when Dumbledore glared at him.
“I wanted to speak with you in private about the prophecy,” Dumbledore said. “Everyone will have to leave.”
“Hermione and Sirius already know the full content of the prophecy,” Harry said evenly. “And I have no desire whatsoever to discuss my fate with you, Headmaster. It’s none of your bloody business; at any rate, you’ve already played your part in all of this, so you need to step off the field. This isn’t your fight or your problem. I can and will defeat Voldemort. You had years to fix all of this before I was even born, so you’ll just have to be content to sail through your golden years on whatever fame you can still wring out of your defeat of Gellert Grindelwald.”
“Is that truly what you think of me?”
“I can’t even repeat what I actually think of you because Hermione doesn’t like me to use curse words,” Harry declared. “And the last time I used the F word in front of people, Sirius got a lecture from three different people about his subpar parenting skills.”
Sirius raised a hand and displayed four fingers. “Mistress Omis cornered me yesterday afternoon about it.”
“Four,” Harry corrected. “Sirius, did you have anything else to say? Because I’m tired and we promised Isobel we’d return in time for tea.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, I’m done. Arthur, you can keep the house. I’ve signed the deed over to you and your family specifically. Dumbledore should have no issue recasting the Fidelius with you as the Secret Keeper since I’ve already added your blood to the ward stone. The Black library already packed itself up and transferred to the family vault, so do with the rest as you will.” He paused and frowned. “It would be a favor if you’d see the elf heads properly buried.”
Arthur nodded. “Yes…Sirius…I can’t pay you for the house.”
“It’s a gift,” Sirius said and grimaced. “Such as it is. I hate that place, Arthur, and I never want to step foot it in again. Since giving it to Dumbledore would’ve put Harry in a permanent bad mood, we decided to give it to you. You can pass it to Bill or twins if you’d rather not own it after everything is said and done, but I think for now it is best, security-wise, if the deed stays in your name. Magical deeds are powerful in their own way, as you know.”
“Yes, of course, but I think perhaps it should be given to Harry after the war.” He looked toward Harry as if seeking agreement.
“No, sir, but thank you,” Harry said. “Sirius shouldn’t have to suffer that house even for a small visit. I have a home in Agharti, and I will probably seek properties abroad as needed in the future. Working as the Patron of the Horde, I’ll have responsibilities that will take me all over the world at various times.”
Dumbledore exhaled sharply. “This patron business is unsustainable, Harry! I allow you to be bound up in that mess with the goblins. They don’t need a patron.”
“The fact that you are so comfortable repeatedly calling them a racial slur makes it clear they very much need a patron!” Hermione said hotly as she stored her knitting with a furious toss of her wrist. She stood and grabbed Harry’s hand. “I’ve had enough of this dragonshite, Harry.”
Sirius stood. “And we’re done. When Hermione starts cursing, circumstances must change rapidly, or we all pay the price. I’d rather not spend another three hours getting a lecture from her about anything ever again.”
“If you hadn’t started skipping your nutrient potions because you felt fine…” Hermione started, then huffed and glared. “You know what? I’ve reached my limit on foolish wizards. Come along, Harry.” She tugged him toward the door. “Sirius!”
“Right, gotta go, she’ll tell my wife, and I’ll get in trouble.” He offered Remus another glare and trotted after them.
Harry got one final look at Dumbledore’s flummoxed expression before Sirius pulled the door shut behind them. Hermione kept ahold of his hand and muttered under her breath the whole walk to Sirius’ quarters in the visitor’s section of the bank. She released him once they were inside and started to pace.
“I’m going to write a whole treatise on racism in Britain, and Dumbledore is going to be my prime example!” She decided and crossed her arms. “This is why he never replaced Binns, you know! This is why we have substandard education in magical history, Harry! This is why I got a bloody Acceptable on our practice test for the International History OWL! I barely passed! I’ve never barely passed anything in my life until last week and that stupid test!”
Harry dropped down on the sofa to be the audience she desired, and Sirius, the coward, ran away. He really hoped that his godfather returned with Isobel and tea, or Hermione wouldn’t be the only one in the living room having a fit. Though in all honesty, he’d been kind of irritated to learn exactly how much he didn’t know about magical history while taking that test. He hadn’t passed it at all. Upon investigation, they’d learned that most of it wasn’t covered in the four textbooks they had.
Isobel entered at that moment and brought a tray to the table tucked near the fire. “Hermione, sit and eat.”
Hermione huffed and went to the table. “It’s intolerable.”
“I know,” Isobel said and patted her shoulder. “Harry, I made roast beef sandwiches.”
Harry popped up from the sofa with a pleased sound. Honestly, nothing beat Isobel’s roast beef. He didn’t know what she did to it, but it was amazing. He tucked in and started to arrange his plate and tea immediately. Hermione fiddled with her plate and tea without eating for nearly ten minutes before Isobel gently cleared her throat.
“Sorry,” Hermione murmured. “He just makes me so furious.” She took a bite of her sandwich.
“You believed him to be a good man,” Isobel said. “You thought he was a shining example of the light, and that’s an image he has cultivated for decades. It’s difficult to realize that his morals and values are so contrary to your own principles.”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed and sighed. “His desire for control is pathological. I don’t think he’s mentally fit to be the headmaster of the school. I mean beyond his corrupt moral compass and disgusting views on the dverger—he’s just not right. The more I’m around him, the more disturbing I find him.”
“For the record, you can curse Dumbledore out any time you’d like,” Hermione said roughly and took another big bite of her sandwich. “You can use all the curse words you know, Harry!”
Sirius burst out laughing.
“And we can learn more!” she exclaimed and huffed at Sirius.
– – – –
Ragnok shared a look with Zayd Sarr as both Hiro Ito and Louis Bertrand got settled at the table. He’d chosen a small conference room not far from his office with a round table for the discussion. Part of him figured he should’ve asked for Potter to attend the meeting, but he wanted to get the measure of the three men together before that happened.
Ito pulled a piece of parchment from his cloak, unfolded it, and placed it on the table. “Zayd has verified that there is a prophecy here in the Department of Mysteries with Harry Potter’s name on it.”
Ragnok nodded. “Did you want the boy to retrieve it?”
“We’ve moved it into a secure vault on a property we have complete control of,” Zayd murmured. “There was some concern, by Dumbledore, that Riddle would try to get to the prophecy which we all agree would be a bad idea.” He took a deep breath. “What does Lenore think of it?”
“She believes the fate of the world and magic rests on the outcome,” Ragnok said. “Her visions of a future where Harry Potter fails are horrific. A third world war looms on the horizon, gentlemen. But moreover, if his defeat of Riddle is done in the way that Dumbledore seems to think necessary, magic will be corrupted beyond help.”
“And Lenore saw that?” Zayd frowned and rubbed his face with a hand. “For fuck’s sake.”
“Certainly,” Ito murmured. “I’ve heard rumors that your wife is no longer sequestered in Agharti. Is it possible for the three of us to meet and converse with her regarding the potential futures we face?”
“I’ll ask her,” Ragnok said. “I’m not opposed in theory, but only a fool would make such a decision for his wife.” He grinned when Ito nodded. “Do you have concerns about my handling of Potter or the prophecy?”
“I believe that no one is more equipped to prepare him for such a fate,” Ito said. “Dumbledore seems to think he has valuable information he can bargain with to get control of the boy.”
“Riddle made horcruxes,” Ragnok said roughly and winced when all three men jerked as if they’d been hit with severe stinging spells. “Using my wife’s visions, I’ve located four of the six he created. I have solid intelligence on the other two and hope to have them both in hand by Yule. Dumbledore doesn’t know enough about horcruxes to understand his plan to destroy them would actually release Riddle’s soul into the very fabric of magic.”
“Son of a bitch,” Bertrand hissed and stood. He walked away from the table and ended up in front of a small wet bar.
“Go ahead, the bourbon is from the states. I have an employee from Kentucky who swears by the Woodford Reserve,” Ragnok said.
Bertrand poured four glasses without a word and brought them back to the table. “Does Dumbledore have a chance of procuring the two missing horcruxes?”
“Lenore believes them safe from him at the moment. He thinks he knows where two are, but I’ve already taken them. There was one in the bank that he’d have never gotten access to. The biggest concern I have is that I’ve come to worry about the security of Azkaban.”
Zayd sighed and took a sip of his drink. “I’ve corralled the dementors and removed them from the island. Shortly, I will be presenting a bill to the ICW in the spring that would make the use of them in prison a crime. It’s cruel and inhumane. Even people in that place for minor crimes have been driven to the brink of insanity.”
“I’ve authorized the transfer of Riddle’s followers to a prison abroad,” Bertrand interjected. “Hiro oversaw that personally last week. So far, the news of this hasn’t reached the papers, but I expect it will soon enough. I don’t know how Riddle will respond. It promises to be ugly.”
“Certainly,” Ragnok said.
“What did the High Priestess see that was so horrific that the Horde accepted wholesale that you were going to bring the House of Potter into your clan?” Zayd questioned. “Can you tell us?”
“Magical corruption would have horrific and long-term consequences for us all, Zayd. Our wards would fail, enclaves would be exposed, and the Muggles aren’t prepared to deal with the fact that we’ve existed in hidden magical societies for hundreds of years. The ramifications would be nightmarish of that there can be no doubt. Lenore saw visions of nuclear explosions. We didn’t understand what they were at first, but we’ve had researchers investigating Muggle weapons.”
“This corruption would bleed into all magical creatures,” Ito said. “Which of us would fall first to mutation?”
“The wizards and witches will mostly die at the hands of Muggles,” Ragnok said. “Some of us will die out completely while my own species would eventually be reduced to something primitive and feral. We’d all lose our grasp on magic. Magic will endure, but we will all lose our ability to interact with her and her gifts on this earth.”
Zayd cupped his glass with both hands. “Is Dumbledore an enemy of magic?”
“I wish I could say yes,” Ragnok said. “I’m sure a case could be made eventually for it, but right now he’s just a meddling old man who thinks he knows best. He’s certainly the enemy of many of us. He’s not above manipulative magic to get his way—compulsions, loyalty charms, and the like are common. I imagine most of his so-called followers are charmed to follow him in some fashion or another. He’s certainly a criminal, and I’d like to see him thrown in jail. He is dark and unredeemable, but the real threat currently is Tom Riddle.”
“Can the boy win in a fight against him?” Zayd questioned with a frown.
“You already know he can’t,” Ragnok said roughly. “He just turned fifteen. He knows precious little magic comparatively speaking. Harry’s magical power is prodigious, and he’s doing very well in training, but it won’t be enough to stand against Riddle in a duel. I don’t know how long the situation with Riddle can be contained, but I certainly don’t think we have enough time to prepare him for that.”
“Ritual judgment,” Ito murmured. “You’re going to have the lad call for judgment.”
Ragnok inclined his head. “He’s favored by Fate, and I believe if the circumstances are just right that Magic herself will respond to his need. I have to believe it otherwise I feel like I’m setting up a boy to be murdered by the darkest bastard on Earth.”