The War of Two Lords
The Beginning of Something Great
Yes... It wouldn't be long now. Not at all.
He'd been surreptitiously draining the Weasley girl for months. It'd taken him a while to 'train' her correctly. Battering down the feeble natural shields around so young a witch's mind should have been child's play, but the girl was stubborn. Time after time, he'd had to batter the regenerating defenses down, before she'd subconsciously begun to lower them whenever he began to enter her consciousness. The sort of pain having them decimated week after week would cause tended to either make its victims entirely passive, or just the smallest bit more... resistant. Used to how the mental attacks came, they grew slightly more skilled at resisting them.
Of course, that would only make the pain worse, after their shields were battered down time and again, the torture prolonged by their stubborn refusal to bow to a greater power. Eventually, the few who toughened up would learn that subservience and submission was the answer.
They always did.
Now that she would completely mentally submit herself to his will, for fear of all he could do to her from the inside out, he could drain her more quickly. Had he been stealing her energy as he was now before sufficiently breaking her, her shields reasserting themselves, or trying to, would have interrupted her. The game would be up, she would know what he was doing, or at least know that he was harming her, and eventually, after she'd told a person of some authority of the Dark journal doing harm to her, someone intelligent enough to recognize what he was would have destroyed him.
It was a very good thing he was patient.
The journal, now very confident in calling itself Tom Riddle, smirked. Oh, that servant of his... Lucius, was it? He would learn what it meant to defy an order. He didn't remember actually giving the order, of course. He had been made long before he was given into Lucius's protection, but he had been conscious enough then to hear his older, more powerful self tell the Malfoy to keep the object safe from any scrutiny, and to protect it with the lives of his every vassal.
Telling a Slytherin to be willing to give their life for your cause never worked well. Well, not with the true Slytherins, anyways. But tell them to sacrifice some of their own pawns for your plans, in return for power and wealth beyond even that which they wielded then? That wasn't quite so unpalatable.
Really, it had turned out well enough. The Potter child he was made to understand had somehow defeated him at the height of his power was being chased by a basilisk through its own territory, (even blinded, the king of snakes would flawlessly navigate its demesne,) the return of Lord Voldemort precipitated and arrived, and...
What was that?
That... tugging, on his magic?
It felt as if he was being pulled in several directions at once, kept in place only by the force from the equal pulling in each direction. No, not several, he determined as he slowly became more real, and the sensations more defined. Six.
Six directions, his magic writhing like a snake trying to escape the clutches each inexplicable pull had on it.
As more of him poured from the journal into the new body that became more and more substantial, as the red-haired child grew paler, colder, and thinner, he frowned. The many pulls he was feeling was not all that dissimilar from the slowly diminishing one coming from the journal, as he created a brand new body for himself, moving his essence from the book to his own construct.
A good thing he had so thoroughly enchanted it... any real damage to it now could be catastrophic to his efforts. Perhaps even deadly to him.
Then he heard the scream of the great snake, and turned to find it coiling to strike. The boy scrabbled about on the stone floor for the Sorting Hat, and Riddle loosed a laugh at how pathetically the thorn in his side would die, struggling to defend himself with an over-enthusiastic piece of ratty old head-wear.
And then he didn't.
And the basilisk screamed.
"NO!" He roared, his eyes glowing red. He still hadn't finished devouring the little witch's life force! He couldn't do anything, yet. He was still incorporeal, and incapable of casting magic, with his soul and core split between his new body and the journal. And if his connection with the Horcrux were to break now, he very well may die, if not from the unprepared-for splitting of his soul, then from the magical backlash of so complex a thaumaturgical process being interrupted.
But, he had to remind himself, his current state of being wouldn't last long.
And then, once he was whole, the boy would SUFFER.
Moaning, the boy pulled his arm, and that blasted sword from the mouth of the basilisk. The almost-solid boy's face morphed from a mask of rage to one of bitter satisfaction. The death of such a powerful tool wasn't a happy occasion, but he'd be lying if seeing the fang half-stuck in the boy's arm wasn't some consolation.
The boy stumbled his way to the witch's near-corpse, brushing some once flaming red hair from her place, the formerly shimmering healthy locks now almost a dull maroon in the darkness of the chamber, as a result of her impending death.
"You can't save her, Potter," Gloated the boy as his prefect's badge shined brighter and brighter in the light that had begun to glow from the journal, as the ritual neared completion. "It's too late, even for one of your vapid little miracles."
Stubbornly eyeing the Dark Lord, the boy practically fell in his almost drunken state, as he turned to the book that had caused so much grief. Voldemort's smirk vanished once more.
"NO!" He screamed once again, true terror filling him. Basilisk's venom was so destructive, it was known to eat through almost any charm or enchantment, and to kill nearly anything it touched, let alone was injected into.
Perhaps even his own defenses.
Perhaps even the last wisps of his soul in the journal.
Potter wavered, the fang held above his head, as a sizzling mixture of his blood and the black of basilisk venom oozed from the hole in his arm. He shivered.
Not even a burst of phoenix song could have kept the dying boy from toppling over.
Striding over to the boy, relief flooding through his veins in place of the blood that soon would, he crouched by the bird, who sat, as if shocked for a moment. And it began to cry, the boy almost stirring.
"Not this time, you little cretin of a familiar," Riddle literally hissed. The parseltongue, as english always did, went over the bird's head, but the message was, similarly to the language it more or less gleaned meaning from, not lost on the rather clever creature. It trilled back in defiance of him.
Riddle made a mental note to hex the damned bird as soon as he was solid.
With an effort of will, Riddle shifted the focus of his magical drain to the boy. He didn't need much more, but what he did need should be quickly sucked from the boy, stalling the magical resurgence the tears should grant him, and allowing the venom to do its work.
He could feel it, the boy's magic, and his soul, wavering between life and death. He felt a part of the boy die, just as he became corporeal, and lost the connection to the now catatonic, if not cadaverous, pain in his now very physical neck.
Oddly enough, one of the shackles on his soul faded as the part of the child's soul did, leaving a mere five that pulled at his magic.
"Accio," the former Prefect snarled, the girl's wand leaping into his hands, before he hissed, in frustration rather than pain, as his hands tingled with built up energy, dropping it. The girl's unicorn-hair wand was as loyal as its sort's reputation. His magic could hardly flow through so incompliant a tool! He'd have better luck, and always would, simply forcing his will through the air.
Wands, unlike people, were unpliable when they desired to be so.
And the boy's wand! How could that possibly work for him! It was a vapid little tool for the Light, just as the child was himself. Sure, it was closer to the proper length, and its power and capabilities faintly etched into the air and ambient magic around it felt quite similar to his own, but...
No. Surely not? This wand felt...
He strode over to it, shooing the bird away with a wandless wave of force as it burst into flames and sailed at him, screeching. The burning bird managed to restore its flight shortly before it hit the water, and soared back into the air above him, sufficiently frightened away. Picking the wand up, almost hesitant in his motion, he tested it.
A slash of golden sparks greeted him, as a far away serpentine column was reduced to rubble.
It felt familiar. A brother to his own, if he wasn't mistaken. A wide, true smile settled on his lips, the first to exist on anyone bearing the name of Voldemort for many years.
"Back to business," he whispered to himself, turning to the two loose ends, and the bird soaring above them, threatening him angrily with its cries.
The girl would likely die on her own, should nobody come to find them. But where that damned phoenix was, the Headmaster was never far behind. Best to be sure the girl couldn't tell her story… and best to destroy the child's body, to give the Headmaster no recourse.
Oh, there was little enough chance that The Great Albus Dumbledore, Champion for the Light, and shepherd to the blind fools of the Wizarding World, would use Dark Magic in an attempt to restore the boy's life. But to maintain his only weapon against the one wizard he was incapable of defeating himself… Who knew how far a man so pressed would go?
As he had said. Best to be certain.
"Well, Potter. I wish that I could say I'm sorry to see you go. It would mean I actually enjoyed your futile resistance today. Sadly, you simply weren't entertaining enough." Raising the wand that practically sang with his magic, so ready to serve one greater than it's former master, his customary, charismatic smirk came to his face. "But enough pleasantries. Goodbye, you foul little-"
With a pop and a roar of flames, Riddle ducked and rolled to the side, trusting instinct, and dodging a rather well aimed Confringo- a Blasting Curse.
When had the phoenix gone to get the Headmaster!?
A glance revealed that it hadn't. Instead, he was facing a very angry Albus Dumbledore, his phoenix still soaring around the two fallen children in protective circles behind him as he gave one of the most powerful wizards in many years his full attention.
He likely wouldn't survive, otherwise.
It was funny, in a way, how quickly the situation had morphed from fantastic, to utterly horrible, so very quickly.
Dumbledore, older and more skilled than Riddle had ever seen him. And though the avatar of the journal knew more than a fair bit of Dark Magic, he wasn't yet eighteen. Unlike the Dark Lord that had harried and nearly dominated Magical Britain in the last war, he had performed no body or reflex-enhancing rituals, he had no followers behind him to serve as distraction, fodder, or to mount a surprise attack as needed, he had constructed no magical batteries which he could tap into in order to maintain his own magical capacity in case of emergency, and he had no experience duelling beyond the best Hogwarts had had to offer in his own time.
It wouldn't be much of a contest.
The wizard that some bowed to as Merlin reincarnate began assaulting his former student with no remorse, curses flowing and gushing from his wand like water from a burst dam. Faster than anyone that Riddle had ever seen before, his wand moved.
Curses and hexes were not all that Dumbledore sent at his former pupil. The former Transfiguration Professor fully utilized the first subject he had attained a Mastery in during this battle. Bears and boars, hounds and lions, eagles and eels were all conjured with jabs and twirls of his wand, and flew at him without hesitation, and conducted in how they struck by careful, precise flicks and jabs of the Professor's wand, or in the case of a few, like the eels, were magically hurled at Riddle with further twists of the deft magical instrument.
And so, Tom Riddle went into a fully defensive style of dueling, every wand motion used to parry a spell or cast a shield charm, a curse or hex never leaving his newly claimed wand unless it was one he could cast while blocking another of those launched from Albus Dumbledore's wand. When a conjured beast came at him, he took only the time needed to vanish it, or summon something equal to the task of eviscerating the offending conjured creature.
If only that... brat hadn't killed the basilisk! It would've killed the conjured creatures with a look, and forced the Headmaster to fight blindly! True, it was no great loss in a duel, in which he could sense the magic in the air even as it moved, a trick Riddle was sure his older self had mastered, and one he had first heard of through the very teacher he was now frenziedly defending himself from.
But, even as Tom moved spectacularly to counter so great a wizard, it was obvious he was losing. It wasn't a question of power, but of pure skill and experience. Dumbledore was forcing him back, step by step he was being forced away-
From the children.
"Professor," he managed to grunt, sweating and panting with the exertion of keeping up with one so obviously his superior... For now.
"Mr. Riddle," Dumbledore said coldly. The damnable twinkle in his eyes that so many had talked about was far from present, as it ever was, when he dealt with his least favorite student.
"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage here, Professor. Trapped down here, with a single entrance and exit, along with a Phoenix who would probably only ever obey you, in your very place of power. You truly have me by the collar, Headmaster."
"So what is it you have to be smiling about?" Dumbledore questioned him. Despite the hard edge to his features, his voice was as soft and inviting as ever. He only sounded curious, rather than the angry and uncontrolled tones one would expect from one feeling what Dumbledore no doubt was.
Anger at this unwanted intruder harming his students. Concern for the students who may or not be alive. Determination to put Tom down.
And, of course, Fear. At whatever it was that his once-pupil had to smile about.
"Well, Professor," Tom began smugly, "I can't help but notice that your pet wasn't the one to bring you down here. Which means your wards are down."
Dumbledore felt his stomach drop, but kept himself from reacting. He had, after all, had time to set up an Anti-Apparition jinx, hidden within his far more combative wand motions. The spell could be destroyed with a mere Finite, but should Riddle manage to escape...
Well. There would be two Dark Lords in the world, even if one yet remained incorporeal.
And that was simply unacceptable.
"If you believe that Apparition is the only way for me to get around Hogwarts, what you so generously called my very own place of power, you are sorely mistaken, Mr. Riddle," Dumbledore bluffed. Dumbledore was one of the best liars, tellers of half-truths, and masters of deception in Wizarding Britain. Centuries of practice manipulating the world to make it a kinder, safer place had forced him to abandon a measure of his own kindness, when it came to politics.
But still. He was no Slytherin. And Thomas Marvolo Riddle prided himself on his ability to distinguish truth from the desperate lies of those he'd need to destroy. And while the Headmaster was good, Riddle could still taste the barely hidden concern in the air.
"I would never presume to dictate your limits to you, Professor," Riddle taunted, "But you do have a small problem. An easy exploit, if you will." With no more warning than that, Riddle whirled, and quickly slashing his wand, screamed "FIENDFYRE!" in triumph.
Immediately, a basilisk of flame, rivaling Slytherin's deceased monster in size, was expelled from the boy's wand. Dumbledore froze for the barest second, before with a turn, a twist, a slash of his wand and a pop, he vanished, reappearing between the searing serpent, eager to devour living flesh with its many flickering tongues of flame, and his students. Immediately, he began conjuring and transfiguring vast pools of water, and immense walls of stone between the cursed fire and himself, knowing that the best ways to combat Fiendfyre, and to survive it, was to give it nothing to feed on, and let it burn out on its own. So, he set to stalling the sentient flames, rather than combatting them directly, Fawkes soaring to his side, a brilliant warmth at his side, to help him face down the raging heat before him, its soft croons weakening the black magic coursing through the conjured serpent.
And in doing so, to ensure he was capable of defending the students in time, he had lowered the Anti-Apparition jinx.
"So long, Professor!" Riddle shouted over the roar of the Basilisk-construct, and scooped up the journal. He paused for a moment. He needed a way out, and while the wards were down, he very much doubted that he'd be able to dismantle the safeguards the old man had surely put into place. He could feel that the blanket, anti-apparition jinx on the air, had snapped with that one slash of Dumbledore's wand, but as much as he hated the man, the Headmaster was as intelligent as any Slytherin. Tom could not trust that there were no other surprises lying in wait, to be triggered by his apparition.
No matter. Walking out of Hogwarts, entirely unopposed, would be a far greater statement of his power.
And so, Riddle called to the false Basilisk in Parseltongue, hissing, "Be my shield, beast." Being in the form of a snake, it obeyed, but Riddle's disdain showed clearly in his treatment of the monster. Conjured and carved snakes were never as intelligent as their living counterparts, and served their masters rather poorly.
It made the loss of the Great Basilisk so disappointing. And still, he had no guarantee of the Potter brat's demise! As potent as the great snake's venom was, he was unsure if even it was capable of killing one through the healing power of phoenix tears, and with the disconnection of his life-force with the Potter brat's, upon the completion of the ritual, he could not be certain that it had been enough to kill the child!
Riddle though, being a Slytherin, casually walked around the walls and moats between him and the Headmaster, exerting his will through the nature of the Fiendfyre spell, along with his Parseltongue. It simply would not do, to fall to his own power, the Fiendfyre snake freeing itself only to turn on him, as a being of living flesh that it so hungered for.
And so, as he approached the exit, the Fiendfyre always between the Headmaster's little impromptu fortress and himself, he tucked the journal into a robe pocket, and gazed at the rockslide between himself and the exit. It would be... difficult, to escape through the main entrance, but again, a worthy statement of power. So, Riddle mused to himself, the only real way to escape, is to destroy the cave-in in my path.
"Attack," he hissed, and watched as the Fiendfyre basilisk coiled, and struck, not at the dome of solid rock, but at the crumbling wall of boulders and debris near the entrance. The wall of rubble was no match, even as the Fiendfyre splashed apart upon contact. The sheer explosive power, only contained by a shell of his power, had bored through the rock as surely as a mining drill.
There was a muffled scream, and Riddle was vaguely amused to find a child, the brother of the girl, he thought, sprawled with a gash on his forehead, and goggling down at him, an adult wizard, amazed at the still form, even as he began to panic.
Ignoring this, Tom simply hissed to the slide-like entrance, "Stairs." Obediently, they appeared. Riddle stepped on, and again, spoke in Parseltongue. "Bring me up."
And that day, Tom Riddle walked away from Hogwarts, right through the front gate of the castle, free from the castle grounds, seventeen years old once more…
And ready to rule Wizarding Britain once again.
But, of course, just as Dumbledore had thought to himself, Tom Marvolo Riddle was not the only one intent on ruling the country.
And thus, The Second Wizarding War of Britain, The War of Two Lords, began.
AN: I feel like Dumbledore, being who he is, would have some connection to Fawkes, and as a result, would be able to enter the Chamber by following Fawkes's 'trail.' So that's how he apparated in, without knowing where the chamber. And as Headmaster, I feel he probably has some control over the wards, as shown in deactivating them for Apparition practice in book... six, I think. So that's my reasoning and junk on how Dumbles got down there.
Yeah, I took liberties with what magic can do, to a degree. But, to be fair, that's what AUs are for. And even if this is a oneshot, as it looks to be for a while, the story makes it very much AU.
Again, I should be working on other things. But I'm not. So here's this, enjoy, it's a one-shot, at least for now. I actually had most of this written already, so this isn't a huge goof-off like the Dresden Files thing I posted earlier today/tonight/this morning/It's 2 AM right now. It just needed a few minor edits, and maybe another 300 words max of actual writing.
Anyways, Good Luck, and Happy FanFic-ing!