- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
Harry entered the small library pulling a T-shirt over his head. The portrait looked at him with a mixture of exasperation and obvious relief. “Hey.”
“Lad, I’m glad to see you up and active. I should’ve asked you to move the portrait, so I had a better view of the ritual circle. The ritual was intimate, so I decided against it initially. I had no idea you’d be in what looked like a magical stasis for a bloody month. Minerva McGonagall is ready to come here and tear down this house to get to the two of you. The only thing stopping her is the risk of her actually exposing your location to Riddle’s followers.”
Harry winced. “Yes, sorry about that. Tell her that our petition was granted but that Zir insisted on educating us personally in his realm. A month down here actually equaled two years within his realm, so we learned a lot. Also, let her know that we’ll be returning to the school through the Chamber of Secrets within the next six hours and arrange a time for her to meet us in the third-floor girl’s bathroom. I’m going to reclaim our family land there and take control of the school with a blood rite.”
Godric blinked in surprise. “Certainly within your rights as a founder’s heir. But why?”
“I need to do it before Riddle can,” Harry said grimly. “He’s Slytherin’s heir, Godric, and that’s exactly what he plans to do. He’s going to turn the school into his headquarters for an all-out blood war that will encompass the entire planet. Zir showed me several different paths where he could accomplish this, and every single time it lead to the extinction of Muggles and the enslavement of magical kind to Riddle because Hogwarts became a fortress that no one but his followers could enter or leave. No force on Earth could touch him, and the results were horrific.”
“I’ll go now. How will she tell you the time to meet?”
“Tell her to leave a note concealed with my mother’s full name as the password in the middle sink next to the small snake. I’ll find it there,” Harry said and cleared his throat. We won’t come back here until after the war so I’ll see you at Hogwarts, sir.”
“I’ll let the other founders know to expect you. I’ve had their portraits moved into the central warding room for security purposes. Snape can’t get in there since Hogwarts finds him utterly unpleasant. She barely allows him to use the headmaster’s office and only then because Albus’ portrait has insisted. Should I tell him what you’ve done and what you intend to do?”
“No. I don’t need to hear any more dragonshite from Albus bloody Dumbledore,” Harry said darkly. “Go and don’t get caught spying. I’d rather your portrait not be damaged. You’re valuable to the school and to me personally.”
The portrait quirked an eyebrow, bowed, and left without a word.
Harry turned and found Hermione standing in the doorway. “Yes, I have the grimoire in my pocket. Tent packed?”
“Yes.” She patted her beaded bag, the strap of which was across her body. “Let’s go have a talk with Bathilda Bagshot.”
Harry offered her his hand. “Yeah, let’s just do that.”
He hadn’t been all that surprised when Zir told him that Nagini was wearing a Bathilda Bagshot suit. Disgusted yes, surprised, not exactly. It was just par for his course considering everything that had already happened to him.
“Ah, Potter, one more thing.”
Harry stilled when Zir’s voice echoed through the space. Light sparked around the now unlit ritual circle, and a sharp spike of lightning delivered a little cloud of smoke. When it cleared a little creature lay curled there. Harry huffed a little as the little thing flicked white and silver wings.
They’d already met their spirit animals, and that had been a startling event, to say the least. His black panther and Hermione’s white tiger were primal and very territorial creatures. It had taken more than a week for the two animals to appear at the same time and not fight. But as his bond with Hermione had settled, the spirit animals had grown close as well. Near the end of the first month, the two big cats had started to nap together while he and Hermione trained.
The little creature stood up on four sturdy little legs and tilted her head toward Harry with bright yellow eyes that were so familiar that his knees weakened. “Hedwig?”
“Oh, wow.” Hermione took a steady breath. “Harry…she’s a longma.”
“Dragon-horse,” Harry said as she slowly walked across the ritual circle and sank to his knees in front of her. “I read about them in third year. Zir, what have you done?”
A near-ghostly laugh filled the space. “Service to me does come with some rewards, Lord Potter. Hedwig decided that an owl body was just too flimsy for her second turn with you and this is the form she chose. A private citizen can’t keep a dragon in Britain, but the longma is considered a docile and light species. But she has a few special gifts.”
“Thank you, sir.” He reached out and touched Hedwig’s face. “Hello, sweetheart.” He was rewarded with a cheerful whinny in return, and she nipped his fingers as she often had as an owl. Her tail whipped around her clawed feet as her body glimmered with magic. “You’re beautiful.” She preened and flicked her wings.
Hermione laughed. “She really is.”
Hedwig tilted her head and trotted over to Hermione then lifted up her hind legs with a little growly sound.
“Ah, I see your game,” Hermione said as she picked her up. “You want in the bag, don’t you.” Hedwig touched the bag with her paw and popped away. “I think we need a list of what special gifts mean,” she muttered. “Longma aren’t supposed to be able to apparate, Harry.”
He shrugged, too happy with the development to look a gift dragon-horse in the mouth. “Snake hunting?”
She took his hand and sighed. “Snake hunting.”
They exited the cellar the way up the stairs and through the bulkhead doors to the patio, there was no moon to cast light over the yard or street, but he didn’t have a problem seeing anything anymore. They walked around the house and toward the gate. He inhaled sharply and made a soft sound of disgust.
“I can smell her from here,” he said grimly. “Whatever magic they’re using to preserve the body is starting to fall apart. Let’s not fuck around, love, we have Death Eaters to throw out of my castle.”
“Ha, our castle.” She nudged him gently when he laughed. “What’s yours is mine.”
“As you say, wife,” Harry said and tugged her down the street.
Bagshot’s house looked like something out of a gothic horror film but then a lot of the magical world sort of fit that description. The door opened before they were halfway up the sidewalk but Harry wasn’t deterred. Hermione’s mental touch grew heavy against his mind—a warning and a steadying influence all at the same time. He spread out his sense of hearing carefully and her empathic shields flexed around them both in response. Two heartbeats. He tapped his finger gently against the top of her hand twice, and she nodded as they walked into the house.
The door snicked shut behind them. The smell of decaying human flesh teased at his nose but he’d started dialing down his sense of smell the moment they left their own land. He didn’t know what it would be like to zone on such a horrible smell, but he wasn’t prepared to find out in their current circumstances either. Their bond was new in the physical world, so they’d resolved to be careful about zoning and being separated. They found the animated corpse in the kitchen.
Harry grimaced. “Your meat suit is decaying, Nagini.”
Bathilda tilted her head, and Nagini exploded out of the body in the most disgusting fashion possible showering the table in between them in blood, bone, and flesh. Harry pulled the sword from the dimensional space Zir had crafted for them both and took her head off with one lethal swipe.
“I’d be impressed, but you practiced that for three months,” Hermione said dryly. “Also, it wasn’t as nasty in practice either.”
Harry nodded and drew his wand. He cleaned the sword first, tucked it away in the d-space then vanished Bagshot’s remains then the snakes. He cast several silent cleansing spells and jerked his head toward the stairs. “She’s got a keeper upstairs.”
“I can’t say I blame whoever is up there for staying in a different room,” Hermione said.
Harry took her hand and with a push of his magic disillusioned them both before heading upstairs. He followed the dull thud of a heartbeat at rest to a closed door and opened it. Pettigrew was sound asleep in a chair with a book open across his chest. Harry ended the disillusion charm on himself and let go of his Guide’s hand then he walked across the room and kicked the Wormtail’s leg hard.
“Wake up, you weak little fucker.”
Pettigrew started, and his book fell to the floor. “What…Harry?” He glanced around quickly and tried to lunge for his wand on a short table nearby.
Harry shoved him back into the share with a flick of his wand. “Regretting this anti-apparition charms you have all over this hovel? You should be.”
“Harry—you’re such a good boy,” Peter said. “You saved me once, remember?”
“Yes, I remember,” Harry said evenly. “And I regret it deeply, you murderous piece of shite. I should’ve let Sirius and Remus rip you to shreds! You didn’t deserve to live, Peter, but I was young with a foolish and forgiving heart.” He pointed his wand at the cowering man. “I’m no longer that child, Peter. That child died in a cemetery in Little Hangleton when you murdered Cedric Diggory and used me to resurrect that creature you call lord. Are you proud?”
“I…I…I had to do what he said, Harry. You must understand. No one wins against him—it’s best to give in and do as he wishes.”
“Look at all you gave up, Peter,” Harry said coldly. “Look at the pitiful, small, and disgusting life you’ve lived because you betrayed my parents. Was it even worth it? Don’t you know how much better it would’ve been to die in the light? Lady Magic would’ve embraced you and cleansed your magical soul for such an honorable life. But you were weak, and in that weakness you allowed darkness to breed in your soul and in your magic. There is no room for those such as you in Hekate’s garden, Peter. When you stand before Zir, you’ll be called upon to answer for your crimes against magic. I hope you have your answers ready.”
Peter flinched as Harry’s wand started to glow. “No, please, Harry, please I’ll do anything. Don’t hurt me.”
“Take heart, Wormtail, that I believe in mercy,” Harry said and sent a piercing charm straight through the older wizard’s forehead. He transfigured the body into a piece of parchment, tossed it into the fireplace and set it on fire with three flicks of his wand.
“It’s appallingly easy to cover up a killing with magic,” Hermione said as she took his free hand. “Let’s get out of this creepy house, Harry.”
He renewed his disillusion charm and pulled her close. He inhaled deeply against her hair and concentrated on the Chamber of Secrets. Harry’s magic shifted inside him, adjusting to his intention and desire for security. The anti-apparition charms on the house shattered against the push of his magical power. “Here we go.”
They appeared in the chamber with a silent flush of magic, and he took a deep breath. “Not as bad as I thought it would be.”
“Any lingering pain?”
“No.” He dropped the disillusion spells and looked around the chamber. The skeleton of the basilisk loomed large in the shadows. “I wonder who harvested that big beast. They owe me a lot of money.”
“I’d say Dumbledore did,” Hermione said. “He probably used the money to fund the Order—which would’ve been a total waste since they didn’t do a damn thing really to prevent Riddle from doing whatever the hell he wanted.”
She opened up her bag and peeked down into it. “Hey, girl.” Hedwig popped out immediately and landed gracefully on her feet near Harry. “You need to reset the password on that sink just in case that asshole manages to get into the school.”
“I will.” He looked down at Hedwig. “Stay with Hermione, okay?”
Hedwig glared at him and slapped his leg with her tail before stalking offing in the direction Hermione had gone with a little growl.
“Hmm, I forget. Can longma breathe fire?”
Hermione looked up from her bag as she pulled out the tent. “Yes, but they rarely get larger than she is right now in the modern age. Once they grew large enough to ride.” He glanced toward Hedwig who had chosen to sprawl at the feet of Salazar Slytherin. “There’s no telling what Zir has given her as far as gifts go. I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear.” She smiled. “Don’t worry—I’ll keep her safe while you’re gone.”
“I wonder why she picked the dragon-horse,” Harry questioned as he stared at his returned familiar. “I mean if he was going to give her a choice she could’ve picked a griffin or even a phoenix.”
“So, I can talk to you, silly wizard boy,” Hedwig said. “A dragon would be illegal as Zir already explained and I certainly wasn’t going slither around on the ground as a bloody snake.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open.
“Holy shite,” Hermione said with a laugh.
“Yes,” Harry said and shook his head. “Well, I’m glad you’re back, Hedwig. You’ll have to tell me all about your new talents when I return.”
He opened the doorway leading to the passage easily enough and paused once more to look at them both before he left the chamber and closed the door behind him. Once outside of it, he changed the password with a series of spells in the ancient form of parseltongue that Zir had taught him and Hermione both. They’d discovered after removing the horcrux from Harry’s scar that parselmagic was latent in the Potter line, Harry had chosen to have it activated along with his gifts as a Sentinel because he saw it as an advantage and he didn’t want to part with it no matter how anyone viewed it. Hermione had gotten parselmagic when their marriage bond had formed. It had been the most daunting and, in the end, rewarding part of their experience in Zir’s domain.
He gathered up all of the shed skin as he traveled down the hall and stored it in his dimensional space. There were plenty of spells that could restore it and make it useful for armor which they both needed. Granted, the spells in question required a lot of power, but he now had it to burn. He arrived at the exit and took a moment to read the runes then ruefully called for the stairs. It had been foolish to assume that Slytherin himself would’ve used a slide to leave the chamber. He should’ve looked the first time though taking a ride from Fawkes hadn’t been terrible.
Harry paused at the top of the stairs and let his hearing spread out several hundred meters in every direction. He pushed aside heartbeats and various bodily functions quickly. The Ravenclaw tower was closest, and most of the children were asleep or studying quietly. There were a few conversations here and there. The Headmaster’s office was empty, and he was tempted to extend his senses in an effort to find Snape, but Hermione would get irritated with him for doing such a thing without her. The corridor in front of the bathroom was empty. But, there was a small very fast heart beat directly above him on or near the sink. He considered opening up his sense of smell but the chamber didn’t smell great and neither did the hall leading away from it.They would need to do a lot of cleaning. He clocked the heart beat at a little over 200 beats per minute so not human but it seemed to large for a rodent.
He wondered then if Minerva McGonagall was in the bathroom in her animagus form. He unholstered his wand, just in case, opened the sink, and stepped up into the room.
Crookshanks was curled up in the sink. The cat opened his eyes, blinked sleepily, stood, stretched then leaped out of the sink and trotted down the stairs. Harry just shook his head and murmured, “Lily Marie Evans.”
There was a shimmer of light, and a folded piece of parchment was revealed tucked behind the taps. He picked it up, returned the stairs and closed the sink. He paused to change the password for entry then hurried down. Crookshanks was sitting patiently by the big door to the chamber when he reached the cat. A fat mouse dangling from his mouth.
“Sorry about this old man,” Harry murmured as he drew his wand. He performed several spells on the cat to verify he was, in fact, Crookshanks. The animal endured the tests with the kind of glare that promised Harry much retribution. “I’m just trying to keep our favorite human safe, you know.”
Crookshanks pawed the door and mewed around his kill.
Harry opened the door and let the cat in ahead of him. “Mi?”
Hermione came out of the tent, and her eyes went wide. “Crookshanks…you’re supposed to be at the Burrow.”
“He was asleep in the sink,” Harry said.
Crookshanks dropped the mouse in front of Hedwig and started yeow vehemently at Hermione.
“He’s telling on me for checking to make sure it was really him,” Harry confessed and turned to watch Hedwig chomp merrily on the offering Crookshanks had made. “Horses don’t eat meat.”
“Dragons do,” Hermione said wryly.
Harry unfolded the parchment as he followed the three of them into the tent. “Do we need to set up enchantments?”
“No, I don’t think so. None of Riddle’s followers are parselmouths, and he wouldn’t get that deep into the school without us knowing about it.”
“I’m going to set up some proximity alarms after I take over the wards.” He sat down at the table and spread the note out in front of him.
Godric has explained the ritual petition you undertook, and I’m very proud to know that two of my lions were found worthy by Zir. The last Dragon Guardian was a Hufflepuff. It was a shameful and dark time in the history of our house.
Congratulations on your bonding and marriage.
If you don’t get these Death Eaters out of my school as soon as possible, I’m going to start murdering them.
I’ll be in the bathroom at precisely 5:00 am. Do not make me wait.
The House of Ross
Order of Merlin
PS-Crookshanks returned to the school with Ginevra Weasley at the start of this term but has spent most of his time in my office staring at Godric’s portrait. I’ve allowed this, but I would remind you both that I’m not a cat sitter.
PPS-However, I’m not opposed to future babysitting opportunities.