So…I've been gone for over a year now… Better check the stats.
I got nothing to say to definitively justify why I didn't come back to this story in so long.
I do have reasons which can be summed up to explain why my interest in this story dipped significantly.
1. I overpowered Harry Potter a bit too much early on without leaving any wiggle room for him to be caught off-guard or overpowered in turn later on.
2. Certain reveals and directions that the latest seasons of Supernatural commited went against the plans that I had in my mind for what I had planned later on, which pissed me off.
3. Research that I only really started doing a deep dive into too late began presenting timeline problems due to JKR admitted issues 'with math' when she made character ages without taking account of interactions between them. The less said about trying to figuring out politics, the better.
4. The latest reveals on Pottermore – as well as the 'Fantastic Beast' movie sequel – presented even MORE conflicting information which grinds my gears. I like sticking close to the source material and not create 'plausible' material for the respective universes. For example, blood quills were never a thing nor is there a definitive name for the head of Gringotts.
5. Sakurademonalchemist. To those who don't know, this guy has been around since 2005 and has mastered the art of pointing out stupid decisions/choices and plot holes in popular works of fiction. Especially in Hitman Reborn, Naruto, Supernatural, and Harry Potter. As one of my favorite writers, I have read these works, which unfortunately solidified my removal of rose-colored glasses to specific issues that I wanted to subvert.
You may be wondering why I have returned with a new chapter then?
On February 28, I took certain actions that resulted in me message-talking with another well-known author on the site, DaSalvatore. I was 'caught with my pants down' at a vulnerable moment, which caused me to rant to him about my issues and my inability to jump back into this story.
By March 1, he has helped me resolve said issues, causing me to write this chapter.
So I thank DaSalvatore for that.
That doesn't mean I want to fully commit to this story again now knowing that I am more than willing to throw the conventional timeline and order of events out the window just for sake of clarity on my end.
I have enough trouble as it is making character OC in actions while trying to present them accurately with my interpretation.
As such, I would feel more comfortable taking a backseat to this story and allow someone else to take the reins as I advise and help them out from the side.
That or get a co-author, something common now with my works.
If anyone is interested in the task, here's a small overlap of events/timeline as I have presented in this story to help you at least figure out what I MIGHT have in store.
Hogwarts Year 1 (2011 – 2012) [Quirrel] – Supernatural Season 6 (ends in June '12) [Fight for souls]
Hogwarts Year 2 (2012 – 2013) [Basilisk] – Supernatural Season 7 (ends in May '13) [Leviathans]
Hogwarts Year 3 (2013 – 2014) [Dementors] – Dean spends a year in Purgatory, Sam leaves hunting
Hogwarts Year 4 (2014 – 2015) [Tournament] – Supernatural Season 8 (ends in May '15) [Angels & Other]
Hogwarts Year 5 (2015 – 2016) [Umbridge] – Supernatural Season 9 (ends in June '16) [Metatron]
Hogwarts Year 6 (2016 – 2017) [Half-Blood Prince] – Supernatural Season 10 (ends in June '17) [Mark of Cain & Other]
Hogwarts Year 7 (2017 – 2018) [Voldemort] – Supernatural Season 11 (ending is ambiguous timewise due to the pacing of episodes and lack of time marks, but it occurs after March '18) [The Darkness]
Small note though for the Supernatural franchise. The writer's department at Supernatural decided to continue their tradition of dating things for the estimated release time of the episode, ignoring the fact that Dean lived with Lisa for a whole year between the end of Season 5 and the beginning of Season 6. As such, Season 6 should, therefore, start in 2011, not 2010. In Season 8 there is another one-year time jump. So, if you want the dates to be in chronological time, you will have to add another year to all dates, which I have already done so.
Hence why dates have to be shifted around when I planned out the events, added 20 years to HP timeline, and why the progression of SP events will feel off.
Now to the story itself. Sorry if it feels rushed.
November 18, 2011 - Night
Magic wielders are not the brightest of people.
Wait, that's not entirely right.
The magic users of England – yeah, that works much better – are not the brightest of people.
Even those without inherent magics – Muggle or otherwise – show more respect to it then them.
Ireland and Scotland have the Old Ways, so they had lessons about screwing with magic smacked into their heads so they wouldn't get tricked by the Fey Folk or accidentally walk into a Lost Path.
They literally had the stupid smacked out of them by their moms and grandmoms.
England, not so much.
Smarter then they give themselves credit for, justifiably so in certain situations, especially by the select few who keep things running in England.
The shepherds herding the sheep.
But on the whole, the wizards and witches – if asked by a disgruntled Muggle-born or Half-Blood – sacrifice common sense and logic for the ability to wield magic.
The more 'pure' the blood, the more evident it is.
Not to say that there aren't a few rare exceptions family-wise or a black sheep once in a while but on the whole? Were it not for the foresight of their ancestors and the will of Magic; they would have either been killed off or discovered long ago, whichever came first.
Thank Magic for the modified Fidelius Charm that keeps them and anyone aware of that brand of magic hidden.
However, despite this, they still had some little smidgen of survival instincts hardwired into their thick skulls. For all the power they held in their 'little sticks' and in wandless magic for the dedicated few, any profession dealing with magical creatures – especially dragons – was almost always understaffed.
Same can be said for the Department of Mysteries and anyone who played magical sports professionally.
Maybe it was the illogical mindset of preserving bloodlines or some bizarre other reason that has become prevalent among them since WWII, but in any regard, most folks that are raised in Britain had an unnatural fear of death.
Which unfortunately translated to fear of injuries, hence the understaffing.
One other thing that all magical folk justifiably feared in the isles were the Dementors.
Magic could do many things – keep the user healthy, extend life, function on less sleep – but the one thing magic couldn't do was protect the body. Oh sure, healing faster and potions were one thing, but preserve the body from magic itself? There's a reason why 'Protego' is a spell and not a natural magical resistance against Stunners.
There is a reason why anything with blood was so closely monitored and the Unforgivables received their titles, but that is a story for another time.
It was why the Dementors were so feared for their ability to 'drain' the soul.
No one recalls how they came to be – or they did and kept it hidden – but in any case, SOMEHOW, the Ministry of old managed to barter a deal with the horde in England to hold them to one island castle and 'feast' on the people given to them.
They didn't need to do this, but again, wizards and witches were not the most logical of people. If they were, they would have used the Truth Serum much more often in trials and have made magical lawyers and many other professions obsolete. However, one pureblood did something stupid, someone was paid off, the snowball became more prominent as it rolled down the hill, and eventually, the potion was restricted to the strictest of situations – to purebloods; half-bloods and muggleborn were on their own.
[We can argue the validity and usefulness of Truth Serums, but no one wants to be stuck here all day, so moving on.]
Unfortunately, since the latter two categories had enough difficulties as it is in England, getting in trouble with Aurors was not on their priorities.
As you can imagine, purebloods were usually the miscreants arrested, they paid their fancy and expensive lawyers, and the cycle continued.
The lawyers – and other professions like barristers and auditors – managed to get back at them by overcharging them.
What? You think purebloods decide to waste their time after completing their education to become lawyers? Payback is a bitch.
But that's irrelevant to the main point…
The island castle used to serve as the fortress of one Herpo the Foul and his army before he was eventually defeated. His castle was left alone until appropriated as the prison known as Azkaban centuries prior.
It was because of the 'depressing aura' that the Dementors created en masse that even the most harden of Aurors avoided shifts at the prison like the plague. Those that could handle it or took extra shifts willingly were paid extra, received more vacation days, were allowed to request working more desk shifts, and had mandatory meetings with a mind healer.
So to see two hooded Unspeakables sail to the island in the darkest of nights was NOT something commonly seen.
The 'eggheads' – a term that flew by those raised in the Wizarding World - rarely left the lower levels of the Ministry, usually serving as researchers and hoarders of knowledge as well as a 'last resort' option in times of duress
An option not used during Voldemort's war for reasons that won't be spoken about… for now.
"Are you sure we should be doing this, Augusta?" asked the taller male figure.
"I am sorry, but he has the damn stone, Algie," spoke the Longbottom Matriarch in a harsh whisper. "Years I've been trying to find a way to save my son… years I've seen Neville break down in tears at home after visiting his mother… his magic, unable to save them, turning against him…"
"Augusta, how many times must I remind you? The boy was dangerously close to inwardly collapsing. Yes, I left the cushioning charm just in case, but I couldn't risk him going the Big O."
Augusta wiped a tear from her eye, unwillingly shed as the memories flared at the forefront of her mind. "I know, Algie, I know. I can only thank Hecate that Neville seems to have repressed the memories after that."
"Luck had nothing to do with it," corrected Algie as he glared at the rapidly approaching island coast.
Augusta looked at her brother-in-law in shock. "Algie, you didn't…"
"Trevor is more than just a regular toad and let's keep it at that."
"Oh, I feared the worst," she breathed in relief as she stepped off the boat.
"What? That I would invade his mind, even if I had the right? I am many things Augusta, but I like to think that I am more than some caricature created to represent my profession."
"I don't doubt that Algie," stated Augusta as she adjusted her hood, allowing the spell work to kick in and distort her voice and face to be unrecognizable and memory-retention proof. "But still, must be one hell of a toad."
"It was something one of Newt's MANY kids found in the Amazon. I swear, you would think Molly Weasley was trying to beat his record for most kids," chuckled the male Unspeakable as he mirrored her actions.
"You know as well as I do that it was the clashing of both Prewett and Weasley family magics against each other until Ginny was born. Newt and Porpentina were…"
Algie smirked as he raised a brow looking at her, the charm on the robes not affecting the wearers, "Two people who lived way too close to the edge of life and death that had to constantly reassure themselves that life was wonderful, usually in the bedroom with bed-related escapades?"
Augusta stared at him before deadpanning, "You are lucky that we have to be jovial to keep our spirits up or else I would have wiped your mouth clean with soup, Algie."
"Oh please," chuckled Algie as he presented the paperwork to the guards. "If purebloods had the same healthy sexual mindset like Porpentina, we wouldn't be having so much trouble repopulating."
"Blame the war: people overreacted and insulated themselves when Grindelwald's forces came in from the continent. And those that marry outside the main lines usually stay in Europe because they bother staying up to date with the rest of the world," Augusta muttered.
Despite the image she presented to the Wizengamot's members, Augusta was up to date with both technological and magical advancements outside of England. She had to be since she had resorted to muggle methods of curing her son and wife. She wasn't the only one – she was part of a somewhat secretive minority of purebloods and the like – who knew the benefits and advantages set by the non-magical in the less few decades.
Suffice to say, she was rather fond of watching her dramas and Neville was informed not to mention his gaming systems while at Hogwarts.
Violent games were somewhat useful in helping Neville deal with his pent up aggression of being helpless in a somewhat safe and harmless way.
Didn't help when he discovered the 'Call of Duty' franchise, but thankfully, she had the parental controls.
"Hear, hear," Algie muttered, rubbing his hands to maintain his warmth as they traversed the prison to the maximum security wing.
Yes, Azkaban may have been Englands only prison, but Dementors didn't traverse ALL the levels, just the ones with the worst of the worst. The ambient aura of theirs was enough for the less heinous offenders to get the point across.
"Still," he continued as his breath materialized from the cold. "How did this… Dumas… get his hands on the stone?"
"Don't know, don't care," commanded Augusta as she walked up one of the many staircases. "I've been trying to get my hands on it for even a day from Flamel for years just to see if it could do anything…"
"Augusta… Nicholas knows the stone better than anyone, do you really think that he didn't know…"
"I KNOW that the stone could have saved them. You forget I was once head of your department as well, and I've read some of the early papers of his. They are one of the many secrets you were sworn to protect when I gave you my position."
Algie sighed in resignation. "Still… to think the stone had such an application…"
"Alchemy can be interpreted and used in many ways, for it is the ultimate medium in any exchange. Just be thankful Nicholas swore never to misuse it again."
"Too bad the vow must have translated to never use it to save a life at too great a cost."
"Don't start Algie, we both have blood on our hands from the war and the choices we made. Nicholas just has more on his and yet he managed to keep his morals… unlike you," insinuated Augusta as they slowly approached the wing.
"Hard decisions had to be made. I would rather have the taint on my soul rather than those that work for me. Regardless of how I am perceived, I do everything for the better of others," commanded Algie emotionally and with conviction despite his stoic face.
"And that alone is why I haven't blasted you off the tapestry when I saw you dangling Neville by his foot," stared Augusta at Algie with her eyes narrowed.
"Oh come on now Augusta," smirked Algie. "Admit it, his face afterward when he realized he wasn't a squib was worth it."
Augusta frowned as they finally stopped at their first prison. "Yes, it was worth it."
That comment was filled with more meaning then she anticipated as she looked down at the dirty and demented figure of one Bellatrix Lestrange née Black.
November 19, 2011 - Night
All the monitoring wards and charms were currently turned off within the Janus Thickey Ward.
Non-essential staff and personnel were forced off the floor by order of the Unspeakables, with the few that had to remain told in no uncertain terms no to cross a certain threshhold or risk the full brunt of the law.
When they spoke, people listened, regardless of official paperwork provided.
What was about to transpire wasn't going to be mentioned by anyone any time soon other then in hushed whispers.
As such it was, that two extra Unspeakables – close friends of Algie who could keep their mouths shut – were currently holding down the shackled and bound Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange.
The shackles were to prevent their magic from working.
The binds were just that: very well tied ropes. And they said that knowing how to tie knots didn't amount to anything.
On the other end stood Algie and Augusta as they prepared the two beds and scanned the patients.
"You sure he will be here?" Algie said as he put away his wand in the holster. "We did set up a rather large number of monitoring and anti-scrying wards…"
"He broke into the manor without the ancient wards going off. I highly suspect that your wand work will be good enough to stop him."
A ruffling of wings was heard, prompting everyone to slide their wands out…
"You would be surprised," stated the masked figure as he approached from the shadows, looking the same as the day Augusta spoke with him.
"And why is that, Dumas?" Augusta asked, never lowering her wand as the Lestrange Trio struggled.
"Old wards are rather set in their ways. Someone of my skills simply has to watch them long enough to spot the patterns in the spell work to spot a hole – momentary as it – to slip through," the figure stated as he approached the brothers and observed them.
"Magic doesn't work like that," spoke one of the two called-in Unspeakables. He was new.
"By your rather limited understanding it may not," Dumas looked up, his voice not condescending but more like that of a teacher, dispensing a fact or knowledge. "If magic is all about belief and comprehension, then a different view of said belief is all that is needed. Learning a different language helps – something about processing multiple languages rewrites your ability to perceive wards and the like. Could be related to languages working on phonetic and grammatical structures translating as to how a regional magical system and its applications develop over time, different from other systems. It's why teams of curse-breakers are always in groups of people with different dominant tongues."
"Really?" spoke the second other Unspeakable. He was not as new. "You would think they would cover that in Hogwarts with language courses."
"They did," spoke Algie, Augusta, and Dumas in unison, surprising the trio.
"In any case, we didn't come here to discuss the failing standards caused by a Gandalf look alike," muttered Dumas to the snickers of the older duo. "We are here because of this."
Everyone eyes – sans Augusta – bulged in fascination as Dumas presented the Philosopher's Stone from his robes.
It is one thing to read about the stone, but to see it, to feel the magic coming off of it…
Even its red sheen sparkled oh so beautifully even in the darkened room, the light seemingly reflecting off darkness itself to be consumed by the stone again.
"Bring the three closer," commanded Dumas as the trio of panicked prisoners were dragged closer to the patient beds into three prepared entrapment ward-circles on the floor.
"Those will keep them in?"
Algie nodded, "Yes. We can enter and leave, but they can't without one of us dragging them out."
"Good, good," stated Dumas as he faced the Longbottom couple. "They been here ten years correct?"
"Yes," stated Augusta.
"So twenty years between all three, that should put them right up to death's door after Azkaban. They weren't lucky like Sirius was," Dumas spoke to himself as he inspected the two men.
He paused when he inspected Bella however.
The Unspeakable's felt that something bother the masked figure as he tilted his head.
It was only confirmed when he waived his hand in front of her, a wave of magic basing over her, revealing a myriad of colors and shapes but a splattering of black pomegranate seeds in it, before he spoke enraged.
"Oh Cygnus, I hope there is a special place in Hell for you…"
Augusta stepped back on reflex from the sheer venom the dripped from Dumas' mouth. "Is something wrong?"
"Unfortunately. We shall still proceed with the deal, but we may have to rework the minor details. She has made things… complicated."
"And why has she made things complicated?" Algie asked in equal fury, his hatred for the three Lestranges eclipsing his curiosity at the situation.
"Because I am sensing a contract on her. Specifically, I am sensing a Persephone Contract linked to Rodolphus."
Augusta gaped her mouth open, "No… no, no, no… don't do this…"
Algie looked at the conflicted Augusta, before turning to Dumas. "How old is it?"
"Old enough to convince me that she hasn't been in control of her mind for a long, LONG time. Based on the age, I don't think she hasn't been in the front seat even before she finished Hogwarts."
"Hades damn it," swore Algie. "So she…"
"Knows everything that she was forced to do when ordered by Rodolphus and anyone he gave permission to command her? Yes, most definitely. Congratulation Augusta, the Lestranges screwed over not just your son and daughter-in-law, but the one holding the weapon as well. Always wondered how she had such mastery over the Crucio – hard to pull such pain inducement even without any distractions and full commitment. But a direct order from her master to induce as much pain as possible? That would do it."
Dumas waved his hand, causing Bella to fall asleep before turning to brothers. "Just for that, you two get something special."
Dumas finger he approached the two, "You better start writing up the paperwork. The brothers aren't leaving this place alive."
"What shall we write for the coroner's report?" asked one of the extras as Harry branded the two with an odd mark that no one recognized using his fingers.
"Usual causes: overexposure to Dementors, stress-induced aging, horror-stricken frozen faces when they recieved the Kiss, etc. Like I said, the usual."
The extra nodded, "Just checking. And Bellatrix?"
Harry looked at her as he placed the stone on a small table in between, "That is trickier. We may have to call in her sisters and Lord Black."
Dumas turned to Augusta as she finally regained her composure. "I know this will be hard for you, but even you must understand that she wasn't in control. Her opinions on Muggleborn? Debatable. But her actions? They weren't hers."
"I do. I can't overlook all the pain that I've compartmentalized over the years, but I do."
Dumas nodded. "The recovery will be long, Augusta. You may never forgive her actions, but you will have to let go of the feelings you have associated with her. If it helps, think of the person who hurt you being Bellatrix Lestrange and Bellatrix Black being an unfortunate victim in this fiasco."
She sighed, "As long as you do as promised, I will do what I must and explain everything to her family. I will create… a plausible explanation."
"Good. Then we can begin…"
Lights from the magic-fueled crystal simmered as Dumas raised his hands above the stone, its luster suddenly returning as it glowed brighter. Something tangible stirred within it, coming closer and closer to the smooth ruby surface.
Augusta felt it, Algie felt it, the brothers felt it… there was powerful Magic being used.
"Καλώ την ανταμοιβή της Νέμεσις, οι όρκοι του Χόρκο, την αδικία της Αδικής, και τη δικαιοσύνη του Δικαίου. Αφήστε τους αδίκως τιμωμένους να απελευθερωθούν από τα δεινά τους και αφήστε τους εκείνους που πέταξαν την πέτρα να πάρουν τον πόνο τους διπλωμένο. Ας έρθουν οι Moirai και να υφαίνουν νέα θέματα. Αφήστε όσους υπέφεραν να ξαναβρούν και χάθηκαν και προστέθηκαν στους ποινικούς. Αφήστε να αφαιρεθεί και να πιτσιλιστεί ο κατηγορούμενος η βαφή που χρωματίζει την ταπετσαρία τους. Αφήστε την πέτρα να αποφασίσει και να επιβάλει. Ας είναι μια ουδέτερη και δίκαιη δύναμη. Αφήστε τη μαγεία να είναι ο δικαστής, η κριτική επιτροπή και ο εκτελεστής."
As the chant finished, the glow solidified into a bright fluorescent red that seemed to scan the room.
"Was the Greek necessary?" Algie asked.
Dumas shrugged. "Seemed appropriate. The contract is Greek in origin, the language is older then Latin, the stone has ties to the region… I like to think of it more as a personal touch than anything. Besides, this is the sort of ritual where verbalization makes it stronger. I could have done it without, but you know how finicky magical constructs and artifacts are when only intentions are used."
Dumas faced Augusta. "Once I do this, there is no going back. You WILL have to handle the fallout and explain this to Lord Black."
"Small mercy – it's the sisters I am afraid of," Muttered Augusta.
"Because of who they were in Hogwarts or because of what Bellatrix did?"
Dumas looked confused at Augusta as she sighed. "The three sisters used to be called the Gorgons by a Ravenclaw back in the day. Their retributions to those who wronged them were… legendary."
"Huh… How prophetic."
"Pardon? What does that have to do…" started one of the extra Unspeakable's before Dumas interrupted.
"Stheno was most independent and ferocious of the three, as reflected by Andromeda leaving her family and proving her power against the Death Eaters during the war. Euryale was beautiful, but she also represented hidden dangers, as evident by how Narcissa manipulated people with her whispers – like a snake striking from the shadows. Medusa was both the weakest and strongest, without immortality but with the greatest power at her disposal but oh so easy to trick and get around. Sound familiar?"
Algie couldn't help but swear and get a 'Language!' from Augusta.
"Regardless, Lord Black and his sisters shouldn't be a problem. The public? Well… if Cygnus bothered to go with the Persephone Contract, odds are it's in the Black or the Lestrange Vault. Considering what's about to happen here, Bellatrix should be able to get access to the Lestrange Vault once she becomes a widow."
Rodolphus started shaking and trying to escape even harder than before.
"I am more concerned about HOW Cygnus got away with it. Doesn't this contract require the Lord to sign - I mean – give away the perspective 'wife'?" Dumas asked as he was drawing up runic and alchemic circles between all five subjects.
"There was a small window of opportunity when Cygnus Black the Second passed back in the early '90s. His passage was so surprising that no will was left, meaning that by House Charter, Sirius Black the Third became Heir Apparent. Unfortunately, since he was too young to do so, Cyrus must have managed to wrangle the reins, STANDING in for Lord Black which gave him leverage to do so. Sirius, believing his mother's rants about disowning him, probably didn't question it as he was living with the Potter's at this time. Probably why Cygnus never displayed the Lord Ring and why Bellatrix took the Lestrange name: Cygnus may have fooled the public – and even Sirius – of being Lord Black, but he couldn't fool Magic."
Dumas chuckled as he was finishing the circle around the still glowing stone. "I am guessing that Andromeda was supposed to be Rodolphus sacrifice, but she managed to escape the net as it were?"
"Big scandal that was," Augusta smiled fondly. "Sirius always did like her best."
"Would explain why they needed the contract. Bellatrix was even more stubborn then Andromeda on a good day," Algie added as an afterthought.
"Done," Dumas stated with cheer. "Everyone, please step back, this will be messy. Also, you two -" Dumas pointed at the extra Unspeakables, "- please power up the Silencing Wards around the twins. This will be loud."
Both nodded and did so as Dumas placed his hands on the stone. "All right then – Ανταλλαγή!"
On cue, Magic awoke, energy coalescing in the air, humming and singing, surprising everyone with the visage of solid, pure magic in the air.
Purple lightning flowed down the circles and runes, connecting the Longbottoms to the matrix, the shock causing the two to flinch.
Blue lightning connected to Bellatrix, the reaction to which was more of a surprise since she didn't flinch and the Magic almost seemed to treat her more gently then it did Longbottoms. Like a vet treating a wounded dog.
The twins weren't so lucky. Red lightning shot out of the stone, connecting violently to Rabastan and Rodolphus, piercing their skin. Blood poured from the holes in their arms, legs, chest, and a few tendrils that connected to their skulls. The holes, however, were so small that you would think they were sweating blood instead of bleeding.
Thankfully, the wards held up, since, despite the thrashing and obvious pain the two were in, there was only silence.
And by their very eyes, something began to flow from the two into Bella, Frank, and Alice, while something was returned from the Longbottoms and less so from Bellatrix.
The results… were not pleasant to watch.
The Lestrange Twins began to vibrate horrifyingly, atrophying at the seems, becoming decrepit and withered, aging by decades in seconds rather than years. Teeth yellowed, nails grew, hair lengthened and paled. Their youthful eyes lost their luster, and their appearance screams became silent but continuing, as insanity seemed to seep into them. It was as if madness had taken hold of them, the twitching spasms of pain extenuating some deranged sickness the two were now victims of.
On the other hand, however, was the improvement of the Longbottoms. While the Lestranges aged, Frank and Alice recovered. Wrinkles disappeared, color returned to their skin and hair, muscles that shrank from underuse suddenly recovered their vigor, damages accumulated from being bedbound slowly undid themselves.
Bellatrix's changes were less noticeable. Her hair straightened, her posture became more relaxed… the tell-tale physical marks of her famous madness seemed to smoothen out, seemingly washing away a few years off her as well. Not as much as Frank and Alice, but noticeably enough to no longer suspect she ever spend time in Azkaban but rather aged gracefully.
What Sirius recovered after months of treatment Bellatrix was recovering in moments.
Then, before anyone realized it, the lightning died down, retracted into the stone, and the lights began to dim as the pulsing slowly started to weaken as well, the task completed.
The Unspeakables stood frozen, silent, still trying to comprehend what has occurred as Dumas waved his hand, erasing the chalk drawings of the alchemic circles from the tiled floors.
Finally, one of the Unspeakables recovered and approached the now motionless brothers, waving his wand over them. "They are dead."
"Obviously," deadpanned Dumas. "Ageing rapidly by about a decade each will do that to people."
"THEY ONLY AGE A DECADE?" the other Unspeakable asked in audible shock.
"Well… I did also add in the physical torture the Longbottoms experienced via the Cruciatus Curse as well as all the mental and emotional torture Bellatrix experienced under the Persephone Contract AS WELL as her incarceration in Azkaban. So… yeah… the combined stress made it much worse…" explained Dumas.
Augusta and Algie approached Frank and Alice, the couple looking as fit and healthy as they did days before they were admitted to St. Mungo's, if a little deflated from muscle underuse.
Tears gathered in Augusta's eyes as she gently touched her son's cheek. "Will they… will they rememeber…?"
"I am sorry Augusta. Equivalent exchange can only do so much. I only removed the physical evidence. As fractured as their memories will be, they will still have a decade's worth of memories of being locked in their bodies and minds… as well as the MEMORY of the torture but not the pain. The emotions… they are still imprinted in them though. I would recommend they built walls around that night with Occlumency when they get the chance. Thick, impenetrable ones – it's going to be like a scab with them: the more they scratch and dig at it, the more the memory and experiences will leak through. And we don't want that do we?"
Dumas looked at Bellatrix. "Same for her. I could only do so much… she will need her sisters to support 24/7 for the foreseeable future. That and a VERY dedicated elf who can take of or an answer when concerning their master's safety."
Augusta nodded, "It will be done. And the presses – when they catch wind of it?"
"Tell them you found a medicine man or something of the kind who made you swear a magical oath not reveal his location and methods," shrugged Dumas, this not being his concern.
"They will claim Dark Magic; they will find a way to use this against me," Augusta argued.
"Then get a lawyer you trust with prepared questions that you can get around answering with Veritaserum. That or make an oath about the type of magic used rather than the methods – the stone is technically Grey Magic. That or swear to Magic itself with an oath, doubt THAT can be argued against."
Augusta was going to keep pushing, but Dumas raised his hand. "Look, Augusta, I am many things, but a politician I am not. You are going to get the Blacks involved with Bellatrix here, and that should give you more than enough power in your corner to figure something out. Now, if you don't mind, I have other things that must be attended to."
Before anyone got a chance to stop Dumas from entering the shadows, he disappeared, without the distinct popping of Apparition being heard.
Only the beating of wings.
November 23, 2011 - Night
Grimmauld Place was many things to Sirius Black.
A place where his innocence died a slow death by lashes.
A place where his mother tortured him for not following her perceived views for the family.
A place where he spend his nights talking with Lord Black, trying desperately to understand why he was different.
He wanted to change that, and he was. He wanted to wash away the past darkness from this house, to make it a new, a phoenix reborn.
He removed the wall with his mother picture on it, putting it away in the attic for Kreacher to tend to. That thankfully got the grouchy bugger off his back – at least for now.
He was slowly redoing the paintwork and updating the furniture motifs. Well, Narcissa was, but he was paying for it. Interior design was not his forte
He was, however, remodeling the infrastructure, bringing it up to date and confounding the technicians who installed the wall plugs and wiring.
Narcissa almost skinned him alive for that until Remus explained the process of how the wires and rooms are shielded against the interference effect caused by magic.
She rescinded her desire to maim Sirius for almost causing the house magics from failing after she accidentally came across the Food Network one day.
She and her favorite elf Dobby watched it religious, both rather fond of cooking together when Lucius wasn't around.
[Oh, the irony of ironies.]
In any case, Sirius was making Grimmauld Place into something different.
What he didn't want it to be was a place where arguments occured and festered, something that was VERY close to happening with the tale Augusta and Algie Longbottom had just finished telling.
Sirius suspected that the meeting was important, so he called in his 'advisors' – his family – to ground him and make sure he didn't do anything stupid.
He was barely out of Azkaban as it was and was driven by his heart even before he was incarcerated. This was not a time to fly off the wand.
So it was such that Ted, Andromeda, Remus, and Narcissa also heard the Longbottoms confession of what occurred a few days ago.
Sirius breathed in and out, counting in his head like Lily taught him long ago. "So… just so that I am correct on my assumptions…"
"First, the Lestrange Family is no more?" Sirius stated as he gave Ted a look.
"Well, a genealogical lookup will have to be made to be certain, but yes, as far as we are aware, the main branch of the family is dead. Whether or not it will pass on to some branch member is uncertain, seeing as they are dead ends." Ted rubbed his chin in thought.
"They are," Narcissa added. "Those ends have spinsters and members too old to sire another heir."
"Unless a bastard or a squib descendent Muggle-born pops up from one of the twins," Remus added as an afterthought to everyone's surprise.
Sirius considered this for a moment before nodding, "Not impossible. Magic finds a way to maintain balance. In any case. Second, my cousin Bellatrix has been under a Persephone Contract of all damn things since before the war even started. I can accept that and forgive her for actions outside her control, my word is enough for what if verified by magic. But why a trial?"
"You concern is justified, Lord Black," – Sirius twitched at the name – "but words carry little weight when the opposition can easily tilt public opinion to the side with the Daily Prophet regardless of the obvious. To them, sensationalism is one thing, but money is another."
Andromeda scoffed. "Please, no one's image, regardless of how the trial plays out, will come out untarnished with or without the contract as proof. The Light Side comes off as even more incompetent for not testing her for obscure forms of mind control during the trial. The Dark Side comes off as even more despicable for having to resort to such things to create their favorite attack dog of the war's propaganda machine. Hecate damn it, either way, this is going to be a mud fight where no one comes clean."
"Except the Blacks of course," Sirius smirked, his eye glinting with trickster pride.
"Of sweet Circe Sirius, this is not the time for…." Remus started to interrupt before Sirius pressed on.
"As far as the CURRENT Lord Black is concerned, the marriage of Bellatrix Black was officiated when he was not present and under false pretences, as while he was Heir Apparent, he DID NOT OFFICIALLY name a temporary proxy to be in charge. As such, by the bylaws, the House of Lestrange with haste and forethought committed Line Theft by taking Bellatrix as one of their own, even though they had the permission of her father."
Ted Black – he loved saying that – thought about this ffrom that perspective before giggling. "Christ, we play this right… Damn it, this can work. I mean, sure, the public knows the marriage was made by Cygnus, but officially, he didn't have approval. It will press all the right buttons for the Pure-Blood, 'abusing' one their longest surviving traditions. It will piss off the masses but still… Recompensation?"
"Let's leave that avenue closed for now. We will need Bella's widow status to check the Lestrange Family Tree. Where was I… Oh yes. Thirdly, Frank and Alice have recovered and are better then ever – 30 going on 20 as it were."
Algie smirked, "While crude, you are correct. While a trial isn't an option we want it to go, a Wizengamot session will be brought up. Their case has been unique, they will demand…."
Sirius glare intensified. "They will demand nothing."
Remus looked at everyone's confusion and asked the question. "Sirius, a magical oath and truth serum can only go so far to determine what alignment of magic…."
"Magic is not Light nor Dark, but simply the will and power of the user turned into intention. I may be paraphrasing but it is what my predecessor like to say. It also the mentality I favor regarding magic, one currently incompatible with the current laws and amendments passed by the Wizengamot while I was wrongfully incarcerated."
Narcissa – having heard her ex-husband's rants on the issue – was first to get with Ted following a second behind. "They don't specify what Dark Magic is in the language, they just expect everyone to know what it is."
Sirius nodded. "The foundation behind Black and White Magic is, in the simplest of terms, very specific: one adds, one removes. Charms are mostly Light because they add something, while anything used in DADA is Black since it takes away. Well, maybe not that cut and dry for Black but you get the point," Sirius said as he waved his hand as he ended his tangent.
"Light and Dark, however, have been twisted and mangled to the point where most don't even remember what they used to mean, hence why the legislature is so poorly worded. For Hecate sake, Druids used to practise Black and Dark Magic since they needed sacrifices to make their magic work. If they bring up the issue of what was used to restore Frank's and Alice's sanity, they will have to admit – on record – what constitutes as Light, Dark, Black, and White magic. And that is a dog and pony show that certain parties don't want the public thinking about too much."
Everyone present just stared at Sirius like he grew a second head, which Remus would admit happened once during a potion cockup. "What?"
"Sirius, don't take this the wrong way, but when did you become so efficient with the rules?" Remus asked with a hint of worry.
Sirius shrugged. "Manipulating the laws to your advantage is not dissimilar from bending the rules in our favor when we played pranks. Which frankly is how I view this whole endeavor: as a giant prank. Of course, they will see it as a power move in some bizarre chess game and try to figure out my next plan, when in reality…"
"Ther isn't one" Andromeda smirked and giggled. "No wonder you were the heir over Walburga's insistence: it wasn't that you were too stubborn to manipulate, you simply didn't think like everyone else when playing the game."
Sirius smiled as he presented his arms as a showman would. "Money, Power, Fame – those three things will get you far in politics. But if you play by different rules while knowing your opponents, then how can they know your next move as long as they stick to theirs?"
Sirius looked up, thinking. "Toujours Pur. French for 'always pure.' I always wondered – why would an English family use a French saying? Maybe it was something brought in later because it sounded fancy, maybe not, it matters little. The message always bothered me – pure of what? Mother always claimed it was blood, but I questioned it. Pure of thought? Pure of actions? Pure of will? Pure of belief? Pure magic? Then there's the inherent association of the word – 'pure.' It means untainted, unmixed, clean, moral, righteous, honorable. The motto was a contradiction to the very image the House of Black presented, especially with the Family Magic leaning heavily into the Black domain because of our Druidic ancestors. I spend longer then I would like to admit pondering that phrase, until I finally, I asked the Lord what it meant."
Andromeda and Narcissa, while having own opinions, wanted to hear this. "What did he say?"
"I will never forget the look he gave me, the drink in his chalice, the smell of the fire burning, as he leaned to me and asked me a question in turn: how can a family that calls itself Black consider itself Pure? I like to think the answer I gave him that day is what made him decide that I was worthy of inheriting the Lordship."
"What was the answer?" Remus asked.
Sirius chuckled. "Sorry, that is something I take to my grave. Only my successor will know."
Augusta smirked as well. "My beloved had something similar as a test for Frank, but it wasn't a motto. Algie?"
The man shook his head, "Sorry, but I was never offered it. The test isn't given unless the Lord is sure that applicant can handle it – it is only offered the one time. The only exception to the ritual is if the Lord dies before he can test the named successor in person."
Ted caught that phrase, "In person? What, is there a way to test while dead?"
"A story for another time, Ted," Sirius quickly interrupted, his Black Lord Ring glinting in the light. "For now, we have to plan ahead for the headaches that will come. What is the current location of Frank, Alice, and Bellatrix?"
"Frank and Alice are currently in the manor being taken care of by the elves. No one sans the head of the ward in St. Mungo is aware of any of this, and he is bound by secrecy oaths. The Unspeakables who were there with us have been Obliviated of the important information but not the event itself. Dumas… well, I think we can avoid mentioning him. They are currently catching up to current events and doing their best to put everything in their heads in order."
Augusta pit her lip. "She is also there. Frank and Alice are aware of this, and they are not happy about it, but they know what the contract is capable of so there is not much they can do morally. I would, however, like to bring her here if you don't mind."
Narcissa stared in worry, "Is Bella still…?"
"As far as we can tell, she is of sound body but her mind…." Algie put his head in his arms and parted his hair in worry. "No one truly knows what things she had committed while under the thrall of the Death Eaters. We ever only caught her public appearances, when she swung around spells and was the embodiment of destruction and pain on the battlefield. We never saw her actions or behavior outside of it. Who knows what things she did – or were done to her – while out of public sight under the depravity of the departed Lestranges? The twins were sick enough to consider each other their lovers. They could have easily" - he stared at Bellatrix's sisters in pain – "passed her around as… stress relief… for others."
Andromeda, unable to control herself despite her demeanor, lost control of her magic as it caused a stool nearby to shoot forcefully at a wall, causing everyone to flinch.
Narcissa was very close to doing something similar based on the fact that the table in between them was slightly smoking. It was only the gentle rubbing of her back by Remus that allowed her to maintain control.
"Do you have anyone – anyone at all – skilled enough in Legilimency to helps us?" Narcissa asked, her voice strained with mixed emotions.
Augusta and Algie looked at each other. "You won't like our answer."
"Augusta, anything is an option at this point – my cousin is locked in her mind. Whoever you have in mind can't possibly be worse than the alternative."
Algie sighed in resignation. "As you know, my… department… keep an eye out for recruits. Some for the inherent or expected level of magical power, some for bloodline gifts and the like, other times for odd talents or magical specialization. There are rigorous requirements to meet, extensive character and background testing to get in, and a host of other things to learn on the job just to survive and advance. In any case, our watchers find future members in all of Europe's magical institutions: we rarely miss someone of worth unless they were homeschooled or attended an institution outside of the continent. Muggleborns are the rare exception, but they usually prove themselves worthy in the few short years they are in school to warrant their admission into the department. But once in a while, we catch them rather early on for one reason or another. Be it by coincidence or merry, a former associate monitored two children who later on joined our department. This associate of Augusta – may she rest in peace – was no longer part of the department as, due to an accident, her access to magic was severely crippled. She kept in touch with Augusta when she was the head, which allowed us to keep watch on the two recruits. One went into the department for her gift in Charms as well as her unusual ability in uncovering 'forgotten' magics."
Sirius and Remus's eyes bulged in shock, having quickly realized what Algie was implying.
"The other, however, despite his talent in Potions, went on to become our expert in Legilimency and Occlumency. He also become our spy for both sides during the war. To this day he remains as an outside agent, keeping a close eye on future recruits in Hogwarts alongside two others."
Sirius was first to voice what he thought while everyone else caught on. "How the BLOODY hell is he of all people an Unspeakable?"
"Simple – he doesn't know he is an Unspeakable. As far as Severus Snape is concerned, he is merely a premier potion master who betrayed the Death Eaters by switching sides to save his closest friend from his dark master. Severus PRINCE, however, is a master of the mind, even his own, to the point where he created a whole other persona to guide his actions in day to day tasks, just so that he can subtly guide his behavior without taking direct control unless necessary, so that he could serve as a triple-agent during the war under our orders. The man people think as Snape is merely a sliver of what Prince is truly capable of. Were it not for the deal he forced to make with Dumbledore, he would have been head of the department over me."
Silence permeated the room as everyone processed the fact that Severus was most likely more skilled then DUMBLEDORE and VOLDEMORT of all people in a magical art form.
Sirius next words summed up everyone's reactions rather nicely.
"I am going to need a stronger drink to process this."
November 28, 2011 – Morning
"Any plans for Christmas, Harry?" Neville asked as he looked up from his breakfast, noting the smiling face of his closest – dare he say, best – friend.
Harry looked up from his copy of the Daily Prophet, having finished reading about the death of the Lestrange Twins. "No, I got everything done already. Just going to sit back and let the chips fall as they would while I watch as I enjoy the Christmas Break."
Well, here it is. Again, sorry of the pacing is off. I will be going over my past chapters (and this one) again in due time to iron out the small details about where the story will go from now.
Hope you lot are patient enough to wait for the next chapter, whenever it will be again.
If anyone is intrested in helping me out or taking the primary writing poistion for this sotry, please PM me so we can work something out.