The Rod of Asclepius

Chapter XI

Dr. Blackjack slowly materialized as he apparated from the safety of the headmaster's study to the dark, damp basement of the old house. He held his wand at ready, the tip of it glowed with a brilliant white light that cast strong shadows in the gloom of the dark basement.

Harry saw the wrath like appearance of the tall wizard in a dark robe slowly become visible. He recognized the doctor at once by the white portion of his hair which was strongly illuminated by the glowing tip of his wand. Harry had never seen anyone apparate in quite that manor. Usually one would make the jump between locations in a single bound, disappearing in a flash, and reappearing at the other end just a rapidly. Dr. Blackjack seemed to have invented the art of making a gradual transmutation, being in both ends of the apparition at the same time before taking the final jump as it were.

The doctor looked around the room using his wand as a torch, and his eyes fell upon Harry who had a look of surprise on his face. "Ah there you are Mr. Potter!" Kuro said. "I was hoping that I'd popped into the right location."

"First time apparating, Sir?" Harry asked.

"Actually the third," Blackjack laughed, "but the first two don't count since they were just little jumps."

The doctor reached into his robe and withdrew a long black box. "Oh by the way, I brought this with me. It was Professor Snape's idea, thought it might come in handy."

Harry took the box and noticing the monogram, realized at once what the contents were. He quickly opened it and removed the wand. The doctor watched him rub his fingers over it, feeling the handle and the working end.

"I hope the professor found you a suitable wand." Kuro said.

"Yes, it feels right." Harry replied. The boy uttered the lighting spell and the wand's tip glowed brightly.

"Seems to work." Blackjack agreed. "Now our problem would appear to be getting you out of here."

"We have to rescue the others," Harry insisted. "I think they are being held somewhere upstairs."

"They are tied up in the great room on the first floor." Blackjack told the boy. "We were able to see inside this house from a distance thanks to a charm that Voldermort tried to use against me being turned round by the headmaster."

The two of them inspected their prison carefully looking for a way upstairs. The only obvious doorway seemed to be locked from the other side. Harry examined the door carefully, the doctor looked at it from a distance. It was an old wooden door, the paint peeling away to reveal worm infested lumber.

"We should be able to break our way though this." Harry said.

"Only by making too much noise and attracting attention from upstairs." The doctor said. We need a more subtle method. He looked around and saw a that there was a sink in the corner of the basement where a laundry area might have once been. Several empty glass jars lay on their sides near by on the floor.

"I think I have an idea." Blackjack said. "Would you please fill a few of those jars with water from that sink over there and bring them to me?"

"Sure Dr. Blackjack, but what are you going to do with the water?" Harry asked as he ran over to the other side of the room.

"I know that there is a spell which can transmute base metals into gold," the doctor said. "I'm going to modify that idea a bit."

Harry handed the doctor one of the largest jars that now contained a gallon of rusty water. "Not too clean, but it should do for our purposes." The doctor said as he waved his wand over the liquid. "Now let me see if I can hack this spell." The doctor thought for a second and then waving his wand uttered "Transmuto Acidus Sulpur PH Nulla!"

The rusty liquid in the jar started to steam with the stench of brimstone.

"Yuck! That's putrid!" Harry gasped, "What did you do?"

"If I'm correct I just conjured up several liters of pure sulphuric acid!" The doctor laughed, "This stuff should eat it's way through that wood in no time!" He carefully carried the jar of liquid over to the door and splashed it over it. The wood started to smoke and turn black at once.

"Cover your face Harry, this stuff is quite toxic!" The doctor warned as he quickly stepped back and covered his face with his robe.

In less than five minutes a large hole had been eaten through the door by the acid. The doctor kicked at the door and quickly cleared a passageway which the two of them bounded through to find a rickety staircase leading upward. Therewas a door at the other end of the stairwell that was ajar and open a crack. Blackjack silently touched the tip of his wand to each of the door's hinges before pushing open slowly. It moved without making a sound. "Oil spell" he told Harry.

"Good thinking" the boy whispered back.

Wormtail sniffed the air slowly, he had a rodent's sense of smell thanks to the time that he had spent as Ron's pet rat. The slight odor of sulfur and oxidized wood lofted upward from downstairs. He got up quietly so as to not wake his master who was laid back sleeping in the huge overstuffed armchair. Wormtail descended the stairs from the upper floor to the ground level of the house, his nose twitching constantly. He entered the great room just as Blackjack and Harry Potter did. All three individuals spotted each other simultaneously. Wormtail reached for his wand that was stowed in his back pocket, but Harry and the doctor already had theirs at the ready. With their minds acting in unison, Harry and Blackjack both pointed their wands at Wormtail and uttered "Impedimenta!"Wormtail froze in his tracks under the direct jinx of both wizards.

Harry then spotted his friends tied up and gaged in the corner of the room. He removed the gag from Ron's mouth and unbound his arms and legs first, and then tossed the rope over to Blackjack who used it to immobilize Wormtail. Harry then untied Kiki and Ernest. "What about him?" Kiki asked, pointing to Draco Malfoy. Harry hesitated for a moment, and then said "Sure, let him loose too." Kiki and Ernest untied Draco, who then pulled the duck tape gag from his face. "Thanks a lot!" he hissed at Harry.

"I don't know how you found us," Ron said, "That so called sickness we all were inflicted by was a sort of curse whipped up by Malfoy under Wormtail's influence. After Voldermort kidnapped us here the spell was broken, we were supposed to be bait for you Harry, but it seems they figured out another way to get you over here."

Harry felt inside his pocket and removed the snitch. "Yes, here it is. Voldermort turned this golden snitch into a portkey. When I caught it during the Quidditch game it transported me here. Once that was accomplished, the snitch became inactive."

"It's still a portkey, Harry." Ron said, "Maybe it could be reversed to get us out of here!"

"Yes I think that's possible, but I don't know the spell to do that." Harry said.

"Let me look at that." Blackjack said. He took the snitch from Harry's hand and held it up before his eyes. The doctor touched the snitch with his wand and visualized the headmaster's study. Suddenly, the snitch seemed to come to life, its wings began to twitter.

"I think the moment I let go of the snitch it will function again as a portkey." The doctor said. "I've instructed it to return you to Dumbledore's office."

"I'm staying here with you Doctor." Harry said, "I know what you're thinking, but you can't face Voldermort alone."

"I'm sorry Harry, but that is exactly what I must do." Kuro said. "First of all, you're the one he is after and for that very reason I can't allow you to remain here. He must be stopped now while he hasn't fully regained his powers. I don't know how, but you are the key to him restoring himself, which is another very good reason why you must not remain here. Finally, that portkey was created to transport you. You can bring the others back with you, but it won't transport anybody unless you activate it."

"Very well Sir, I understand." Harry said glumly.

"OK then, Ron, Kiki, Draco, and you too Ernest, grab hold of Harry and I will drop the snitch into his hands." Blackjack said. "You all will be transported back to Hogwarts. I will deal with Mr. Riddle."

The boys did as the doctor asked, but Kuro suddenly had another idea. He pointed to the now groggy figure tied up a few feet away from them.

"Drag that bit of excrement back with you. Perhaps someone over at Hogwarts might be interested in him." The doctor suggested.

"Yeah right." Harry laughed. The four boys walked over to Wormtail, and one of them grabbed him by the leg. When the five of them were in direct contact with each other the doctor dropped the golden snitch into Harry's waiting hand. There was a flash of light, and they were gone.

Dr. Blackjack slowly made his way upstairs. He held his wand at the ready as he walked. The way ahead was dark, only the glow of the dying coals in the fireplace illuminated the room. The backside of a large armchair stood in front of him. The doctor could feel his heart beating loudly in his chest, his mouth was dry with fear as he approached. Kuro quickly grabbed the back of the chair and whirled it about. It was empty.

"Looking for me, Dr. Blackjack?"

The voice came from behind him. The doctor quickly turned, and immediately leaned to his left to duck as Voldermort fired a curse from his wand at the doctor. The red bold of lightning left the former dark lord's wand and missed the doctor's head by inches.

"Very good Doctor." Voldermort hissed. "I didn't really hope it would be that easy. You're in over your head. You should have stayed in Japan and tended to your patients. You don't belong in the magical world doctor."

"You're weak Riddle." Blackjack replied. "I've sent Harry Potter and his friends back to Hogwarts. It's just the two of us here, and I think you know what I have in my hand."

The doctor held the Asclepius wand up high and pointed it at his opponent. "This wand once belonged to the greatest healer that ever lived, or so I have been told. It chose ME as the first wizard to control it in centuries. What makes you think that I am no capable of defeating you?"

The doctor swallowed hard. He had called up quite a bit of courage to stand up to Riddle, but he'd bluffed his way out of sticky situations before.

Professor Snape and Augustus Dumbledore hovered on their broomsticks just outside the second story window. In the dimly lit gloom of the large bedroom they could barely make out the two figures that stood perhaps ten feet apart from each other.

"He's got guts. I'll give him that." Snape called out to the headmaster. "I'm amazed that he got the boys out of there. That was some quick thinking, reversing the portkey."

"I told you he is a natural wizard." the headmaster replied.

"Now what do we do?" Snape asked. "Allow him to duel with Voldermort?"

"I think not." Dumbledore said. "We will supply a distraction. The result will only postpone things I'm afraid. But that's the way it will have to be for now."

"OK then." Snape sighed. "We do it your way for now."

The two wizards flew their brooms closer to the window and aimed their wands. A flash of blue-green lighting singed the carpet at Riddles feet.

Riddle didn't seem phased at all by the doctor's boasting. "Well doctor, you have interfered with my plans, so I will now have to use the last of my strength to get rid of you. Defend yourself, if you can."

Riddle muttered the death curse and extended his wand out to smite the doctor. Blackjack instinctively channeled his thoughts through the wand. At that moment the former dark lord was distracted by a discharge behind him. In a reflex action he turned his head to see the two figures on broomsticks with their outstretched wands. The doctor was not so distracted. He had already released his spell which enveloped Riddle in a cloud of smoke.

Snape, Dumbledore, and Blackjack stood in a circle around the body lying on the rug. Before their very eyes it slowly evaporated leaving only a pile of ashes and a burn spot on the carpet.

"I didn't do that!" the doctor protested. "I only thought of disarming him, perhaps rendering him unconscious."

"You didn't kill him doctor." Dumbledore replied. "You sent him back to the void where he had been hiding. He will be back, much stronger than before I'm afraid. You've only postponed the inevitable."

"Then why didn't you kill him if you know him to be such an evil?" Kuro asked. " You had the chance, you had the drop on him when I distracted him."

"Kill someone because you think they may perpetrate evil?" the headmaster asked. "That would make us as evil as lord Voldermort. No, I think this way is better, although it will be a much harder road to follow."

Pinoko had a cross look on her face. "You mean I can't take any souvenirs home with me from this place!" she said.

"I'm sorry Pinoko dear, but Muggles cannot remove anything magical from Hogwarts." Professor McGonagall explained. "Besides, anything that you took back to the non magical world would cease to work for you because you do not possess magic yourself."

"But they would work for Sensei!" she insisted.

"Listen Pinoko, I'm not bringing any magical souvenirs back with me." Blackjack said. "I'm a medical doctor, and I don't use wizardry in my line of work."

"You're taking that wand back with you, aren't you?" Pinoko replied.

"That's different!" the doctor argued. "I don't have much choice in the matter, I belong to the wand now."

"Quite true." Dumbledore said. "Once a wand has claimed a wizard as its new owner, the bond cannot be broken until the death of the Wizard, or the destruction of the wand."

"Well if you can have that wand as a keepsake, I want one!" Pinoko pouted.

"Here then take this." Professor McGonagall said, handing her the small crystal ball.

"I thought you said..." The doctor started to say.

"It's quite harmless now." the professor said. "It's charm has been expunged and all that remains is a beautiful sphere of perfect crystal. It's only magic now lies in the mind of the beholder."

"Thank you!" Pinoko said, reaching out with open arms to give McGonagall a hug.

"Now how are we to return home?" the doctor asked.

"Well there are several methods available to you." The headmaster explained. "You could apparate and carry Pinoko with you, you could go by broomstick, Hagrid could take you back on his motorcycle, and then there is still the flu network."

"I think the quickest and safest method would be to use the flu network," the doctor said.

"And enter the house though that messy fireplace!" Pinoko screamed. "I'd rather Hagrid take me back on his bike!"

"Fine." Blackjack laughed. "You go with Hagrid, I'll meet you at home. I'm not up for a half day's ride in the sidecar of a motorcycle over the ocean, when I can get home in a flash."

"I do see the doctor's point," McGonagall said, bending down to see eye to eye with Pinoko. "Besides, Hagrid would be put out to have to take you back. While I know he would be quite willing to personally escort you home, he does have responsibilities here at Hogwarts that he has to take care of."

"I guess you're right." Pinoko laughed. "OK, fireplace it is. But I want a triple Pinoko special when we get home. I'm hungry!"

Dumbledore handed the doctor a small paper sack containing the flu powder. "Well, I guess it's goodbye doctor." He said. "We can't thank you enough for your help. I do hope that you will consider returning someday to continue your education. You have the makings of a first class wizard, there will always be a place for you in the magical world."

"Thank you very much Headmaster." The doctor replied. "My destiny lies elsewhere. I was trained to be a doctor by the one that saved my life. I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I won't forget what I've learned here, perhaps someday it might come in handy, though I hope I will avoid the temptation."

"Goodbye doctor." Harry said, offering his hand, which the doctor took.

"It's been a pleasure knowing you Harry," the doctor said shaking the boy's hand. "Be careful son, I fear that the headmaster is right and that Voldermort will return. Your destiny may be to face him, so take care."

"Good Sensei Blackjack," Professor Snape said. "It's been my pleasure instructing you."

"Goodbye professor. Watch over Harry, he will need your guidance."

Snape said nothing in response, but he did give the doctor a wink of the eye.

The two professors left the room with Harry and his friends, leaving the doctor, Pinoko, and the headmaster alone in the study. The doctor handed Pinoko the bag from which she removed a handful of the black flu powder. The doctor then poured the remainder into his hand. The two of them stated that they wanted to return to Blackjack's clinic in Japan, tossed the powder into the fireplace, and stepped into the fire. The next thing they knew, they were standing in the living room of their home, covered with soot.

"Sensei!" I told you that would happen! Pinoko yelled. "Now I need a bath before I can eat!"

The End