A small, scrawny boy in ragged, grossly oversized clothing was running through the school halls, trying hard not to be seen. He had raven black hair that was standing in all directions, and dark bags under his vividly green eyes. A deep red scar was cut into his forehead, shaped oddly like a lightning bolt. Under his arm was a torn, dirty book bag that appeared to have a large muddy footprint on it. There was a red bruise on his left cheek, and his hands were scraped up. Regardless of the boy's wild appearance, however, none of the teachers or other students in the halls seemed to notice him. The few observant students who did quickly turned and hurriedly walked the other way.
This boy was Harry Potter, and he was being hunted. 'Harry hunted', actually, by his pig of a cousin, Dudley Dursley, and his cousin's friends. Harry Hunting consisted of Dudley's gang chasing after Harry and then beating him black and blue. They always made sure to do it away from a teacher, and if another student reported them, that student would receive the same treatment. This kind of activity happened quite often to Harry by cause of Dudley, but he could never complain to anyone about it.
Harry's parents were long dead; he didn't even know their names. He resided at #4 Privet Drive, with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and aforementioned cousin, Dudley. Harry could proudly call the cupboard under the stairs as his own, for that was the only thing he knew of that the Dursleys seemed content to let him have. He was often shoved in there after something strange happened; and strange things often happened around Harry Potter.
Harry wished something strange would happen now; he could Dudley's gang getting closer. The eight year old thought desperately of what he could do. As he ran, he passed a closed door that read: library.
Ahhh…perfect. Dudley and his gang always made sure to avoid the library like the plague. Harry practically dove through the door, shutting it quickly and resting against it. He only realized he had been holding his breath when Dudley finally went storming past the door.
With the danger gone, Harry slowly made his way across the empty library, sliding his bag onto a table and finding a seat. He quietly said hello to the librarian as he passed.
"The new shipment arrived this morning." Ms. Anthony told him matter-of-factly, peering at him over her large, round glasses. He nodded his thanks and took off for the backroom of the library.
Ms. Anthony was a small, wry little lady with huge glasses that made her eyes appear as big as lemons. She was really very pretty, but her glasses hid her face so much it was sometimes hard to tell. She had helped Harry the first time he had hidden in the library, and they had quickly become fast friends through their shared love of books.
Even though Harry was only eight years old, he already spent almost all of his free time in the library; usually because he was hiding from Dudley. Since he spent all his time around books, it only made sense that he spent all his time reading them, too. Harry had already read, reread, and re-reread every book the library had to offer. Thus, Ms. Anthony would loan books from neighboring branches or send out for new shipments.
Harry ruffled through the top box, flipping through the books. He'd read that one…that one too…he didn't need to read that right now…
His fingers brushed against a small, old book at the bottom. He pulled it out so he could see it better. A Simple Guide to Martial Arts, he mused. There was no information on the back cover, so he decided to flip through the first couple pages.
Three hours later he had asked Ms. Anthony to order every available book of martial arts. She did, and then gave him something even better.
"Mr. Potter." She started. "I've found from experience that it is impossible to correct your, frankly, horrid home life, no matter what I've tried. I see you've discovered martial arts; that's very good. Yes, I can order you more books, there are a few floating around. But, you know," here she paused and lowered her eyes uncomfortably. "I wouldn't normally offer, but seeing as I think you need it…" she took a deep breath before meeting his gaze again. "I used to take karate classes when I was little. It's been a while, but I should remember the moves and techniques with time and practice. If you like, I could help you learn?"
Harry was so happy he wanted to hug her. But his relatives had ensured that he never touched them, and so he didn't know what to do.
"Thank you, Ms. Anthony." He said sincerely. "I'd really like that."
Seven years earlier…
In the middle of the English countryside was a rather large house, unusual even by wizard standards. This place was called Prewitt's Folly, and was a large, rickety, mansion-type house run entirely by magic. All of the rooms were constantly moving around (with the exception of the kitchen, the first study, and the third bedroom on the left). Doorways would change sizes when you least expected it, shrinking just enough for you to bang your head as you walked through. Windows would refuse to open, then suddenly crash together and pinch your fingers in the frames.
The furniture had a tendency to go on walkabouts, and some of the wardrobes liked to disguise themselves. Curtains and drapes would open and close with no warning, and doors would randomly slam shut. The mirrors would all criticize a person's appearance whenever they were paid any attention, and the portraits lining the halls would try and draw you into conversations as you walked by. Rugs would wrinkle themselves, shoes would leave footprints across the floor, and animated mops would leave slippery wet spots where you least expected it.
The owners of this strange house were also quite strange, though not necessarily by wizard standards. Gideon and Fabian Prewett were identical twins, and both were well-known as very powerful wizards. At the moment, both brothers were relaxing; that is, they were relaxing as much as one can when at war. The twins were Aurors, and with Death Eaters attacking every other day, they'd been kept quite busy. The week before, however, hadn't been filled with time at the Ministry.
The Prewett brothers were members of a somewhat-not-so-secret organization called the Order of the Phoenix, an anti-Death Eater group led by Albus Dumbledore. The previous week had seen the brothers on a mission, trying to pinpoint Lord Voldemort's exact location. They'd been somewhat successful, capturing a total of nine prominent Death Eaters, but had failed in discovering the Dark Lord.
Gideon had his feet kicked up on the coffee table. He was flipping haphazardly through an old copy of The Daily Prophet, trying to catch up on what they had missed during the past week. Fabian was ruffling through the kitchen cupboards, searching for something to eat that didn't have anything living on it.
Gideon tossed the newspaper onto the table with a heavy sigh. "Well, The Prophet's useless. Nothing but trash."
Fabian turned from the box of crackers he was currently exploring. "Did you at least find out if anyone else is dead?"
"No one we know."
"Well, that's something. Cracker?"
Fabian shrugged. "All the more for me. Wonder when Dumbledore will come for debriefing?"
"He said he'd stop by sometime tomorrow." Gideon answered, picking up the paper again and skimming through it once more. "Not sure why he can't make it tonight. We couldn't find Voldemort, but we did take out a large hunk of his followers. Dumbledore should be pretty happy."
Fabian snorted, setting the crackers on the countertop. "Yeah. He'll just do that creepy eye twinkle and the grandpa look and go 'my dear boys, was it really that hard to find the dark lord?' I swear, that man has expectations a mile high, and yet he never really seems surprised when we all fail. Searching for Voldemort's direct location is just a waste of time, if you ask me. Even if we found him, we knew it was practically a suicide mission. And Dumbledore wouldn't do a thing about it. He'd take three months just to 'make a plan' and 'think things through' and 'give them time to repent'." Fabian snorted and shook his head dejectedly. "Gid, do you really think it's worth it?"
Gideon lowered the paper to look at his brother. "Hmm?"
"Being in the order. Following Dumbledore. Becoming light."
"What do you mean? You'd rather be a fence sitter like of all the other grey families? Shall we pop by the Greengrasses, ask for some tips on how to best please both sides?"
Fabian tossed a cracker crumb at his twin. "No. I just think that, by ourselves, we could actually be doing something. Being in the Order isn't working like we'd hoped."
Gideon methodically folded the newspaper into a square before setting it on the table. He looked Fabian square in the eye.
"I think—" There was a loud crash from outside. Both twins glanced at the window.
They drew their wands and moved to look out the window. The dark night hid almost everything, but the five dark shapes quickly approaching the house were obvious. One of the masked figures raised his wand at the house.
"DUCK!" Gideon shouted, pushing his brother down as the door exploded. "Quick, get the Floo, call the Aurors!"
Gideon Prewett woke in a soft bed with a white sheet. The room he was in was very clean and very bright. He sat up slowly, arms trembling, and looked around.
His brother, Fabian, was sleeping in a bed next to him with a bandage on his cheek. The room they were in was white and sparkling. There were a few shelves stocked with potions in the corner, and several sections of the room were curtained off, including where they were. It was open just enough that Gideon could see the general aspects of the place.
He groaned, laying back down on the pillow. Even resting, he found himself still trembling. His entire body ached terribly, and he had a throbbing headache.
"Fabian." He called quietly. "Fabian, wake up."
His brother stirred, but didn't wake.
"Wha?" Fabian woke with a grunt. He turned groggily toward Gideon, but winced suddenly and let out a small whimper.
"How manly of you, whimpering like a girl." Gideon teased. "Listen, any idea why we're in St. Mungo's?"
Fabian blinked in pain, then gazed around the curtained off room.
"M' not sure…were we attacked?" He tentatively touched his bandaged cheek.
The curtain was suddenly brushed aside to reveal a haggard looking healer.
"You're awake." She said bluntly.
"That we are, ma'am." Gideon agreed. "May I ask why we're here, exactly?"
She brushed aside his question much like she had the curtain. Pulling out a clipboard and turning to Fabian, she said, "Overexposure to the Cruciatus, one knife wound, two broken ribs, and three shallow wounds from a cutting curse." She turned to Gideon. "Overexposure to the Cruciatus, four abrasions, one minor laceration, one knife wound, and several bruises." She scribbled something down on the clipboard, then finally glanced at the twins. "You were attacked by Death Eaters, Mr. and Mr. Prewett. If not for the timely arrival of the Aurors, you would now be dead." She put down the clipboard and went to the potions self.
She grabbed several vials, and then returned to the twins. Offering them the bottles, she explained in an exhausted monotone what each one was. "Cruciatus relief, calming potion, dreamless sleep. Do not take all at once, wait at least five minutes between each, don't drink the dreamless sleep until you are absolutely ready." She backed up a step. "Now, Mr. and Mr. Prewett, there are Aurors here to see you and then your family is here as well."
The Auror turned out to be the one who had taken the S.O.S. from the brothers. He said that Amelia Bones, the Auror leading the case, had been injured in the attack and was in one of the neighboring rooms, and would discuss the attack with the brothers sometime in the next few days. He thanked them for their offered cooperation and left.
The minute he was gone the twins' sister rushed in.
"Oh boys!" Molly Weasley cried, clutching a young child in each arm. "I warned you to be more careful, didn't I? I told you! Oh, now look at you!" She looked as though she couldn't decide whether to strangle her brothers or search them to see if they were hiding any more injuries.
"Molls, it's ok." Fabian tried to reason with her.
"Yeah, we're right as rain, the two of us. Aren't we, Fab?" Gideon asked.
His brother raised an eyebrow as Molly glared at the two of them. "Well…" He answered his brother. "Maybe not that alright. But alive."
"And that's what's important." Gideon agreed.
"Oh, you two!" Molly said despairingly. "Really!"
"Come on, Molly, don't start." Fabian pleaded. "We've just been subjected to a half hour of torture, give us a break?"
Gideon sensed their sister was about to burst into tears at Fabian's words, and so broke in. "Molls? I don't suppose you'd mind if we said hi to our two favorite nephews?"
Molly looked surprised for a moment. "Ah, yes." She said, handing over Fred and George to their uncles. Gideon accepted George gratefully, Fabian doing the same with Fred.
"All right there?" Fabian murmured to the baby, holding Fred close.
"All right then, you two. Be careful with them." Molly said. "I have to go speak with Dumbledore—he was waiting for me." She hurried past the curtain. They waited until her footsteps had faded before turning to each other.
"I don't remember Cruciatus exposure lending a headache."
"Yeah, that had me a bit worried too. What do you think Dumbledore wants?"
Both twins glanced at the door.
"I'm not sure." Gideon admitted after a moment. He glanced down at George who was sleeping in his arms. "But I feel like the answer's right in front of me."
"What?!" Fabian stared at Dumbledore in outraged disbelief. "You what?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled merrily. "Fabian, you know the Order needs funding. With Lily and James under Fidelius, they can't offer any more, and Frank and Alice are in the same fix. The Prewetts are—"
"Not giving a single Knut!" Fabian roared. "Dumbledore, I don't know what game you're playing, but we get sent on an impossible suicide mission, our home is attacked, we end up in St. Mungo's with far too many bruises for my liking, and you expect us to fund the bloody Order that's ok with it all?" Gideon reached across the hospital beds to lay a hand on his brother's shoulder.
"Dumbledore. Tell us exactly what the plan was if we should have succeeded in finding Voldemort's location."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled away. "I would have made a plan, asked Bagnold and Crouch for assistance, gathered the troops, so to speak, and marched against him."
Gideon met the headmaster's eyes angrily. "And if they refused? What then? What troops would you have gathered? How soon would you have fought? Would we be using lethal force?"
Dumbledore laughed lightly. "Heavens, no! Gideon, dear boy, you know full well the Order doesn't use lethal force. The enemy should have a chance to repent themselves. To learn their wrongdoings."
The twins glared at him. "I'm not sure if you've noticed, Dumbledore, but WE'RE AT WAR!" Fabian yelled, taking full use of the privacy wards in the room. "We WILL use lethal force if necessary! We have no troops with which to fight! The Ministry's only half on our side! You explain to me exactly what the point of this mission was! You explain to me exactly what the Order is doing!"
"I'm not sure what you think you're doing, Dumbledore, but I'll tell you this." Gideon seethed. "You no longer have the Prewetts in the Order. We will not fund you, we will not help you, we will not go on missions, and we will not spy. Find someone else, Dumbledore. Like someone who gives a care. We're done."
The twinkle dimmed in the headmaster's eyes. "Now boys, there is no need for rash decisions—"
Fabian cut him off. "I, Lord Prewett, hereby sever all direct ties to the Order of the Phoenix."
"I, Lord Prewett, hereby sever all direct alliances with Albus Dumbledore." Gideon added.
The twinkle disappeared from Dumbledore's eyes entirely. "I am sorry, my boys. The offer still stands, and you are welcome back at any time. Until you realize your mistake, however, I am afraid I cannot inform you of anything discussed in the Order."
"To hell with you, Dumbledore!" Fabian roared. "We. Don't. Care! We quit! Do you not—" The curtain was yanked open, revealing a very angry looking healer.
"Professor Dumbledore, your time is finished. Madame Bones needs to speak with Mr. and Mr. Prewett. Immediately."
Dumbledore left looking quite grave. Fabian was still spluttering in indignation when Amelia Bones entered.
A short, serious witch, Madam Bones had been in the Ministry for only a short time, but already had a fine reputation for fighting death eaters. Her brother and sister-in-law had been killed some months before [during Order business], and Amelia had adopted her surviving niece, Susan. Bones was dressed in her Auror robes with her ever-present monocle perched on her eye. She looked exhausted and sore, and had a bandage wrapped around her head.
She conjured a straight-backed wooden chair and sat down in between the twins' beds, setting up a dicta-quill.
"All right, Mr. and Mr. Prewett. First thing I'd like to know; how many death eaters attacked you?"
"What, no hello?" Fabian joked.
She glared at him with steely eyes. "The healer gave me strict instructions not to hex either of you. However, by law, I have the right to take you both off any and all potions if I feel they are interfering with your judgment; that includes pain potions."
The twins gaped. "You wouldn't!" Gideon protested.
Bones continued. "How many?"
Fabian huffed. "Five."
"Do you know who they were?"
"Three. Antonin Dolohov, and Bellatrix and Rudolphus Lestrange."
"Dolohov has been arrested, tried, and is already in Azkaban. We knew the Lestranges were death eaters, but we can't find them. Are you sure you didn't recognize the other two?"
"Sorry, Melia. They didn't take the masks off."
"Madame Bones. Did you hear voices?"
"Only the three we recognized."
"Were you doing anything to instigate an attack?"
The brothers shared a glance.
Bones sighed. "Order business."
"Yes." Gideon said. "We can't tell you what we were doing. But because we are no longer associated with the Order, we can tell you what we weren't doing."
Bones sat forward. "You left the Order? Was that why Dumbledore—never mind. What were you not doing, then?"
Fabian grinned. "Well, we weren't hanging out with pretty ladies, if that's what you're worried about, Melia. You know our gorgeous bodies belong to you only."
Bones yanked open the curtain, startling the healer who was standing just outside the privacy wards. "These two are off all pain potions for the next three days." She demanded.
"Wait!" Both twins protested. "Melia, that not's fair!"
"Oh, fine, Madame Bones!" Gideon scoffed at her glare. "You got, what, a concussion? And we got Crucio'd! Have some mercy, women!"
"Then talk." She told him bluntly.
"Fine. Are you aware of all the recent death eater captures?"
"Yes. Was that you two dropping them off?"
"Can't say. Are you aware of where Voldemort has his hideout?"
Her eyes widened. "You found it?"
"No." Fabian corrected her. "We didn't."
"But you tried?"
"Can't say. Magical oaths, you know."
She turned back to the healer and told her to resume the potions. "That's suicide. What was Dumbledore thinking?"
"That's what we wanted to know." Gideon said grimly. "We're fairly sure he's either gone dark, or around the bend. Personally, I'm not sure which is worse."
"If he is dark," Fabian continued. "He's probably been the whole time, in which case, we're screwed, because he's got fingers everywhere. If he's finally gone senile, I wouldn't be surprised, but we're still screwed. I don't suppose you can force him to have a mental checkup?"
Bones chewed her lip, frowning. "No. I can only have my Aurors do that." She glanced at them. "If you weren't part time, I'd make you two do it."
The twins cracked smiles. "Glad to know you care about us so, Melia." Fabian cried.
"Healer Barnes," Bones called out, standing up and readying to leave. "I do believe these two will need relief from those pain potions for the next three days, as I was saying."
Regulus Black pulled his cloak over his head and walked as quickly as he could. Diagon Alley was empty this early in the morning; he only hoped he'd have enough time to run before it started filling up. Even in times of war people had to shop.
It had been three days since he'd stolen the locket from the cave. He hardly dared to breathe; it was one thing for the dark lord to think he was too cowardly and had ran, but completely different for him to realize that Regulus had discovered about his horcruxes, and actually found one! Kreacher would keep the locket safe, but he had to destroy it! If only he knew how. It was such a shame he'd never read more of the darker books in the Black library. Maybe then he'd have some sort of idea. What could be powerful enough to destroy something that dark?
Regulus, trying desperately not to panic, thought desperately. Maybe Fiendfyre? That might work, if only he could cast and control it. No, it was too dangerous to even try. He'd have to find something else then.
Regulus was shaken out of his reverie when two people apparated directly in front of him, causing him to stumble in an effort to avoid them. His first panicked thought was that they were death eaters—the flaming mops of red hair peeking out from under their cloaks quickly put his mind at ease. Then he tensed up again, realizing that, as a run-away death eater, he really should be running from both sides. He started to draw his wand, but was quickly stopped when he found the twin wands of the Prewett brothers pointed at his face.
"Black." Fabian said coldly. Regulus noticed a long, pink scar running along his right cheek, giving a clear difference between the previously unidentifiable twins. "What a surprise."
Regulus took a step back, raising his hands in surrender. "Prewett." He answered quietly. "Listen, you need to let me go. There's something I have to do—you don't understand—"
"Understand what?" Gideon sneered. "You running off to go join your death eater friends?"
Regulus glanced around quickly. The streets were still empty. "Quiet!" He hissed at the twins. "Listen to me, will you? I need to—" An idea struck him. "I need to speak with Dumbledore! Or Sirius, if you can't do that."
Neither brother looked impressed. "And why should we help you? Everyone knows you don't get along with your brother."
"We don't work with him anymore. Talk quickly, Black. We're almost done here."
Regulus swallowed, and tried to rearrange his features to a calm, collected gaze. He had to tell someone, and everyone knew the Prewetts were against the dark lord. Even if they were having an argument with Dumbledore, they would still spread the news.
"The dark lord made horcruxes. That's his secret, why he's so invulnerable."
The twins spared a disbelieving glance at each other. "Horcruxes? As in more than one?" Gideon asked doubtfully.
"I'll swear on my magic." Regulus promised desperately. "I've found one, I just don't know how to destroy it. It's safe for now, though. He doesn't know it's gone yet. But he'll find me soon. If he finds out I found one, it'll never be destroyed. Imagine that, Prewett; the dark lord's bloody crusade, carving out an empire of terror for all of time."
Fabian motioned at Regulus' robes. "All right then. Get your wand—move slowly—and swear you know he has horcruxes, you've found one, and this isn't a trick."
Slowly, Regulus reached his hand into his pocket, pulling out his wand. Holding it directly in front of him, he swore, "I, Regulus Black, solemnly swear that I have discovered one of the dark lord's horcruxes. I swear that I believe he has made more than one, and that the one I have found is safe. I swear I have turned my back on him and his followers, and that this is not a trick. So I say, so mote it be!" He gave a wave, producing a Lumos.
The Prewetts lowered their wands, looking grave.
"All right, then." Fabian said quietly. "We'll trust you—for now. Where do you have it?"
Regulus stowed his wand, but kept a hand on it. "I daren't say."
This time he didn't jump when they pointed their wands at him.
"Oh really?" Fabian hissed. "And why not?"
"For Ravenclaws, you two are rather thick." Regulus said crossly, regaining some of his cold Slytherin mask. "We are at war. You never know who is listening. If you wish, I can apparate you there. Or I can tell you somewhere a bit safer. I will not give away the location in such a public place."
The Prewetts slowly lowered their wands. "Fine." Gideon said, glancing at his brother. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I need to see it. Apparate us?"
Fabian glared at his brother, then turned to Regulus. "You may have given an oath, but you also gave one to Voldemort." Regulus winced at the name. "If this is a trick, I will kill you." Ahhh, death threats! That may well be the cause of their spat with Dumbledore, Regulus realized. If the Prewetts wanted to strike harder, Dumbledore and his 'forgive and forgive again' policy wouldn't be happy.
"My oath to the dark lord wasn't magical. He saw no need for it, as he thought fear would be enough to keep his followers. He is able to summon us through the mark, but it has no other purpose."
Gideon motioned for him to get on with it. "Hurry up, Black."
Regulus, hardly believing they trusted him this quickly, grabbed their arms and apparated away.
No sooner had he done so then there was a series of pops behind where the three had stood.
"Damn!" Rookwood cursed loudly.
Regulus apparated them to an empty muggle street. The grimy fronts of the surrounding houses were not welcoming; some of them had broken windows; glimmering dully in the light of the streetlamps, paint was peeling from many of the doors, and heaps of rubbish lay outside several sets of steps.
The Prewetts immediately stepped away from Regulus; he would have laughed at their discomfort, if the situation hadn't been so grim.
"Where are we?" Gideon demanded.
"Borough of Islington, London. More specifically, Grimmauld Place."
"This is where the high and mighty Blacks live?" Fabian asked doubtfully. "A dingy muggle street?"
Regulus glared at him. "The Blacks live at #12 Grimmauld Place."
The brothers jumped back slightly as the houses 11 and 13 seemingly split, and a house grew out of the space before them with an impressive squelching noise.
"A Fidelius." Gideon said, impressed. "Paranoid, are we?"
"There's always a Fidelius." Regulus answered tensely. "As the unofficial current Head of the Black family, the three of us are the only ones currently keyed in, with the possible exception of my brother. I took advantage of that fact and hid the horcrux here." He calmly walked up the steps and through the door, not waiting to see whether or not the Prewetts would follow.
The inside of the house was grim and dark, colored with a green Slytherin theme. There was a heavy taint of dark magic, but the place appeared to be relatively clean and safe.
"Kreacher moved all of the dangerous objects to the basement and library when my mother died." Regulus explained.
"Kreacher?" Fabian demanded. "I thought you said there was no one else here?"
With a loud crack, an old, hideous house elf in a torn green pillow case appeared. "Master Regulus called Kreacher?"
Regulus turned to the gaping twins. "I have found that everyone, even the dark lord, severely underestimates the house elves. Kreacher helped me find the horcrux; he is the one now guarding it. Can I get you something to drink?"
Fabian shot him a glare. "Shut it, Black. Where is the damned thing?"
Regulus led them to a surprisingly small kitchen. He opened a bottom corner cupboard, and took out a plain wooden box. He handed it to Gideon.
"There you are." He said nonchalantly. "The dark lord's horcrux, otherwise known as Slytherin's locket."
Gideon almost dropped the box. Fabian's jaw dropped.
"What? Slytherin's locket? What the hell, Black, never mind a horcrux, how'd Voldemort find it?"
Regulus shrugged, taking the box out of Gideon's loosened fingers, and placed it gingerly on the counter. "I'm sure I have no idea. Possibly a family relic; after all, he has claimed to be the heir of Slytherin. While most consider it a fanciful idea, he is a known parselmouth. I see no reason why he couldn't be related to the great founder, if not his direct heir."
"Can we see it?" Fabian asked almost reverently. "If it is really Slytherin's…"
Regulus picked up the box again. "Don't pick it up." He warned. "It has some unpleasant side effects when touched." Opening the box, he allowed the brothers to peer inside.
Fabian whistled appreciatively. "Merlin's beard, that's definitely dark, all right. How are you sure it's a horcrux?"
Regulus smiled grimly. He carefully picked up the locket. Instantly a form appeared in front of the three; a tall, unrecognizable shadow.
"Regulus Black." It hissed. "Gone where he shouldn't have, and unwilling to pay the price. You're too cowardly to save your people from the muggle filth, Regulus. Too afraid to get your hands dirty, always the perfect little boy." Regulus had turned white. The soul piece addressed the twins. "What is this? The Prewett twins? Surely you don't trust a Black with my mark on his arm. Certainly not after Dumbledore's little betrayal." The soul piece laughed. "You'll fail; all of you, running after the light. This is so much bigger than a little war; the world will be mine!"
The box slammed shut with a resounding thud. Regulus yelped and rescued his fingertips. "What the hell, Kreacher?!"
Kreacher bowed his head. "Kreacher is sorry, Master Regulus, Kreacher sees bad magic hurting Master Regulus, Kreacher stop it, Kreacher hurt master Regulus' fingers, Kreacher go punish himself—"
Regulus sighed, nursing his fingers. "Kreacher, it's fine. You did well; thank you for saving us. Apparently it was stronger than I thought. We should have been more cautious."
The Prewetts were pale and clammy, standing frozen in front of Regulus. He sighed, turning to Kreacher. "Fetch me three calming potions, Kreacher. Quickly please." Kreacher popped away, and Regulus pulled out his wand.
"Ouch!" Fabian yelped, dodging a second stinging hex which hit Gideon in the cheek. "What the hell, Black?"
Regulus calmly lowered his wand. "The horcrux had more power than I thought. I fear what it may be like when we try to destroy it. Kreacher is fetching calming potions; will anything else be needed?"
Gideon rubbed his slightly swollen cheek, looking miffed. "No. But we need to talk."
Regulus raised his eyebrow. "Of course. You will want to tell the Order. I assumed as much. However, we need a safe place to keep this until they find a way to destroy—"
"Shut it, Black." Fabian growled. "Stop assuming our moves. We're not taking you to the Order, and we're certainly not telling Dumbledore about this. The horcrux stays here until we learn more."
Regulus froze. "What? But—why?"
Gideon answered. "We dropped out of the Order. They're completely useless. And Dumbledore refuses to use anything remotely offensive. If we show up with you in tow, he'll just say it proves death eaters can be forgiven, brush off the horcruxes, and forget the whole thing."
Regulus lost the small remainder of his calm Slytherin mask. "What?"
Fabian continued on. "If it's all right with you, the horcrux stays here, as do any others we find. You and the elf stay here at all times and guard it. Voldemort can't find you. At the moment, you're the only link we have to any knowledge pertaining to his horcruxes, if he truly has more than one. The second you leave this place, he'll kill you."
Regulus pursed his lips. "You trust me?"
Two pairs of eyes met his. It was completely disorienting, he thought, to have to stare down two people at once.
"Yes." Gideon admitted. "That was a horcrux, and no loyal follower of Voldemort would find his horcrux and give it to two previous Order members."
"All right." Regulus said, sitting down heavily in a chair. "And what makes you think I'll stay here?"
"Does anyone else know about the horcruxes?" Fabian asked deliberately.
"Then unless you feel like telling us everything, right now, you will stay under this Fidelius or so help me I'll tie you to that chair until we can solve the problem safely." Gideon hissed.
"Safely?" Regulus sat back. "We're at war. Nothing's safe."
"Ah-ah-ah." Fabian waggled his finger. "Dumbledore knows Voldemort's going to suffer some pretty severe losses soon. He's been sending out Order missions like crazy, and not normal ones either. These are downright suicidal; we lost the Bones and the McKinnons just last week. Could've added us to that list too, if we'd Flooed the Order instead of the Aurors."
Regulus raised his eyebrow. "You think the dark lord's going to lose a battle because his death eaters keep killing your men?"
"Dumbledore just put the Potters and Longbottoms under Fidelius. Cast it himself. He's laying a trap, somehow. I just don't know what it is."
Regulus froze. "Snape brought him a piece of information the other day which upset him terribly. I've never seen someone cast a Crucio that long." He paused, recalling the incident. "He mentioned something about the Potters. Something about…born as the seventh month dies?"
Both brothers looked flummoxed. "Their son, Harry, was born end of July." Gideon said. "Come to think of it, the Longbottom's kid was too."
"I'll stay here." Regulus said. "I'll guard the locket, and refine my theories. You two will drop by when you feel like it, I'm sure, and rip them apart with those blasted brains of yours. Will you talk to the Potters or Longbottoms?"
"Can't." Fabian answered simply. "They're under Fidelius, and we don't know the secret keeper, for obvious reasons. Though rumor has it it's your brother."
"We're not allowed in the Order anymore." Gideon said. "We really ripped into Dumbledore last time. Doubt he'll be happy to see us again."
"I'll search the family library, see if I find anything useful." Regulus offered. "Though I'd appreciate if you two would pop into Cobb and Webb's for me? Or Mors and Nox? They have a nice collection of dark arts books we might find useful." He asked innocently.
Gideon looked ready to protest, but Fabian shrugged. "All right. Where are they?"
"No way in hell, Black. I take one step in Knockturn and it'll be the last one I ever take. Try something more reasonable."
"All right. You're aware of Polyjuice and the Imperius?"
"Yes." Gideon snapped. "The last one's caused quite a bit of trouble in particular. Why?"
Regulus hid a wry smile. "A simple way to diagnose either of those is to simply ask a person a question only they would know the answer to. For example, if I asked you what the first thing was that you said when we met in Diagon Alley, and you said anything other than 'Black. What a surprise', then I'd hex you and leave you to Kreacher."
Gideon narrowed his eyes. "You're suggesting prearranging some questions."
"As we barely know each other, yes. One little personal tidbit should do for now. You can part with one, can't you?"
Fabian growled. "No games, Black. You first."
"Fine. I had a cat when I was eight. Its name was Squeakers. He angered my mother when she tripped on him. I locked myself in my room for a week. You?"
The twins looked astonished.
"Squeakers?" Fabian snickered. Regulus stared at him pointedly.
"Your turn, Prewett."
"Fine." Gideon answered tersely. "One moment."
The brothers turned to each other, whispering fervently for a moment. They turned back, both looking unhappy and a little red.
Fabian spoke. "When we were fifteen, we fell for Amelia Bones. Turned us down every time we asked her out. Never asked anyone else out, after her."
Regulus stared. "Both of you? Blimey, it's been a while since there's been a polygamous marriage. Still, Bones? She's got a heart of stone."
The twins turned red. "Ah, shut up." Fabian hissed. "You stay here, we'll be back tomorrow with your damn books."
A few months later…
Fabian and Gideon apparated into #12 Grimmauld Place with two loud pops. They landed in the kitchen, throwing themselves into chairs.
"Oi! Black!" Fabian shouted. "We—" He hastily ducked a stinging hex.
"Shut it, will you?" Regulus asked, walking in the door with a black haired child in each arm.
The brothers stared at him.
"Where'd they come from?" Gideon asked warily.
"Relax." Regulus set the toddlers down, pushing them gently out the door towards a very unhappy looking Kreacher. "With the Lestranges arrested, these two came to either me or the Malfoys."
Fabian's eyes widened. "The Lestranges? What are you talking about? You left the house, didn't you?"
"Yes. The dark lord is currently without a body, and his followers are being quiet. It's quite safe for me to reappear." Regulus continued, ignoring the outraged faces of the twins. "It turned out dear cousin Bellatrix actually gave Rudolphus two boys. Aries and Rigel are barely three years old. As Head of the Blacks, I have direct right to Bellatrix's children with all three Lestranges presently incarcerated. The Malfoy's laid a claim as well, but with Lucius paying out his arse to stay out of Azkaban himself, I had almost no trouble. The twins are now Aries and Rigel Black, not Lestrange." He paused. "I just hope I can tell them apart." He added as an afterthought. "Merlin knows, they've tried the swapping trick already."
That had the Prewetts laughing. "Well!" Fabian said. "Now with Voldemort currently 'indisposed', we have plenty of time to work on our little project. You're safe to come and go as you please, and we three have business to attend to."
Regulus raised his eyebrow. "What sort of business?"
"Simple." Gideon said, smiling widely. "We're neutralizing the family line. The Prewetts are now grey." Regulus widened his eyes. "We're cutting all direct ties to Dumbledore, naming Fred and George our heirs, and allying ourselves with House Black. If you're interested."
"Oh hell yes." Regulus grinned. "That ought to stir up the hornets' nest."
Fabian laughed. "Careful there, Black. For a moment I thought you were actually having fun."
Regulus' grin turned nasty. "My brother was one of the Marauders. I am capable of having fun." That shut the Prewetts up.
"We heard about Sirius." Gideon said flatly. "We wanted to say—"
Regulus shot a stinging curse at him. "You're idiots. The thickest Ravenclaws I've ever met. Tell me, do you just so happen to know a death eater? One whom, perhaps, would know for certain whether or not Sirius Black was truly able to betray the Potters?"
The brothers gasped in realization. "That's…" Gideon faltered. "So what happened?"
"What happened," Regulus hissed viciously. "Is that Sirius went and did something stupid, and got himself thrown into Azkaban without trial. My additions to the hornet nest we seem to be making are one, get Sirius a trial, two, figure out how to tell my new brats apart, three, find and destroy all the horcruxes, and four, ally House Black with House Prewitt. And officially turn grey."
Gideon whistled. "That'll do it, alright."
Fabian shook his head appreciatively, before conjuring three glasses and a bottle of Firewhiskey. "Here's to the start of a beautiful friendship."
He yelped and dropped his glass when Regulus shot another stinging hex at him.
The Daily Prophet
PREWETTS AND BLACKS ALLIED: BOTH GREY! By Rita Skeeter
As everyone knows, just last week You-Know-Who was killed by little Harry Potter, now known as the boy-who-lived. This past week finished up with several arrests and many trials of known and suspected death eaters, including the Lestranges, who were arrested three days ago for torturing Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity.
However, as astounding as this act may be; as jubilant as we all are for sudden and wonderful peace; what now? What is the next excitement? Must we worry about others vying for the place of most terrifying wizard of the century?
As it turns out, both of the Prewett twins [known for their cleverness and superb dueling abilities], Gideon and Fabian [the Heads of the Ancient and Noble House of Prewett] have suddenly cancelled all direct ties to Chief Warlock and Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore! Why have these two thought-to-be-light Aurors suddenly broken off such an alliance? Is there a hidden meaning? What are they hiding? Some might wonder if the devilishly handsome [and still single!] brothers have gone dark.
And for those who wonder, the Prewetts have indeed declared the House of Prewett of Grey Neutrality! Immediately upon doing this, they also named their three year old nephews, Frederick and George Weasley, as the heirs to House Prewett! Why would two such young, handsome, and single wizards name heirs not their own children so young? Is there some sort of hidden secret between the Prewett twins and the Weasley twins? Why else would they give the heirship to the fourth and fifth children of a light family allied to Dumbledore?
Not only have they broken off the alliance with the Chief Warlock [recently elected Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards], and quit their previous job as Aurors [page 7], but they also appear to have allied themselves with the Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, Regulus Black!
As readers may know, the Black family is well known for using dark magic and supporting pureblood supremacists, and they have been a dark family for as long as can be remembered! Readers may also remember the disowned heir to the Black line was Sirius Black, a confirmed death eater who sold out the Potters to You-Know-Who, and is currently residing in Azkaban.
When questioned, Lord Black said, "My brother was never a death eater; he would have rather died. James Potter was his best friend. Someone framed him, and I'm going to at least get him a trial."
Why has Regulus Black taken over the family headship, declared the House of Black of Grey Neutrality, and allied itself with the House of Prewett? One will wonder what secrets the Prewett brothers and Lord Black are hiding!
Lord Black answered, "I have taken over the headship of House Black as my brother was currently disowned. Even if he wasn't, Sirius never had much appreciation of politics."
The first thing the new Lord Black did upon attaining his Lordship was to welcome his incarcerated brother back into the family. He then immediately pushed the Wizengamot for a trial, stating that all suspected death eaters should have one with Veritaserum, no matter the 'supposed' evidence. The request was thrown out at once; Sirius Black was declared guilty. Lord Black promised he would not allow the issue to drop.
It must not come as such a surprise, after these doings, that the new Lord Black has adopted his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange's three year old twins, Aries and Rigel Black, previously Lestrange, and made them his wards and heirs. After doing this, Lord Black abolished the marriage between Bellatrix and Rudolphus Lestrange, emptied the Lestrange vaults as compensation for her dowry, the children, and illegal activities, and disowned Bellatrix Black from the House of Black!
Readers will wonder if Lord Black's other cousins, Narcissa Malfoy, and the disowned Andromeda Tonks, will have to worry.
As a matter of fact, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa's husband, attempted to adopt the Lestrange-now-Black twins, and was delayed because of his suspected death eater activities. Lord Black has made no apparent move towards the Malfoy family.
Andromeda Tonks, however, along with her husband, Edward [a muggle-born known as Ted], and young daughter, Nymphadora, have been reinstated into the family of Black.
What is the meaning behind these strange and suspicious acts? Are the Prewetts and Black plotting some foul plan? Are we facing the possible rise of not one, not two, but THREE new dark lords? I certainly hope not!
Readers and myself alike are certain to be anxiously watching the next dubious acts of these three young Lords.