For millennia, the conceptualization and theory behind the existence of Family Magic has been a heavily debated issue amongst scholars and researchers of the wizarding world. While it has always been clear that said magic was esoteric, it was its oddly sentient nature that gave rise to several questions. Another notable point was that only those families who were directly descended from the five feudal clans that ruled the continent prior to the fifth century were able to manifest these oddly peculiar totems and the Magic associated with them. Other families like the Alderic of France, the Cheung of China, or even the Morokov line from Russia, which were just as old if not older than the original five feudal clans, didn't even show a trace of any form of sentient magics in their bloodlines.
Accumulating the decades of research, the general consensus agreed on one thing—the existence of Family Magics were intimately connected with the Five Feudal clans of Europe, namely the Pendragons of Albion, the kingdom of Colchis of Greece, the Solomons of Israel, the Assyrians of Mesopotamia, and the Slytherins of Shamballa.
As per historical records, there are five Most Ancient Houses and seventeen Ancient ones, which descended from the five feudal clans. Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of the above settled in the lands of Britain, sometime in the tenth century, though the most probable cause for that might be the creation of Hogwarts, the first magical institution created to cater for the masses. The concentration of such auspicious bloodlines on the lands of the Pendragon was something that led to the creation of what we know as Wizarding Britain.
By the early thirteenth century, the active push on Family Magic research had literally driven the Ancient and Most Ancient bloodlines against the wall, since every single magical family wanted a part of the sentient magics as well. In their desire to protect their own heritage and legacy, in the year 1257, a legislation was passed, through unanimous consent from all Ancient and Most Ancient Houses, a bill that literally erased any and all information related to their origin from public records.
The legislation was met with general outcry on several fronts. Even ignoring the loss of research, the law literally sealed the fact that there would be no new families that could, or would, ever ascend to the position of Ancient or Most Ancient, since as far as the Wizengamot was concerned, the power to summon a Family totem was absolutely necessary to claim oneself as Ancient or such. The law also made it certain that no magical family, irrespective of their contribution, would ever gain the social status that the Ancients and Most Ancients enjoyed.
That was why, sometime in 1259, the concept of Noble Houses was born.
Since the Ancients had alienated their own name, the social status of Noble became the new benchmark. Houses that made a significant contribution to the world became Noble Houses. The Ancient ones who did the same became known as the Ancient and Noble and Most Ancient and Noble Houses.
September 26, 1995.
The Department of Mysteries, initially known as the Arcana Cabana, is perhaps the most intriguing augmentation to the Ministry of Magic till date. Independently funded by the Wizengamot, the DOM is entrusted with magical research, hiring of prospective researchers, and the like. In order to remove bureaucracy and politics from being a limiting factor, the Wizengamot had declared the DOM completely autonomous in nature.
Much like its inner workings, the real nature of the DOM is shrouded in secrecy. As per the historical records, there lies mention of a treaty made between some notable names of British society, made sometime in the early fourth century, about the existence of an organization whose name would be synonymous to watchtower in modern English. Sometime after the creation of the Arcana Cabana (initially an independently funded group in 1146), the workings and responsibilities of the watchtower were integrated into them, in return for a hefty amount of funding from above notable families, an amount that was at least, thrice of what the DOM normally gets from the Wizengamot as an annual budget. The names changed, the people changed, but even to this date, the Department of Mysteries continues its duties as the watchtower.
Levina Mintumble, an Unspeakable who had been employed by the DOM for the past thirty-two years, quietly sat in her office, a tiny little cubicle, just like the seventy others that were somehow packed within the very walls of the Department's… graveyard, an entire pocket dimension that held within it, some of the most dangerous omega-level artefacts of the magical world. Levina had never really inquired about it in detail, but the general consensus was that, the artefacts within were deemed too dangerous to stay within the realms of the mortal world. Seventy Unspeakables, including herself, were delegated the job of monitoring any form of activity within the graveyard, and take appropriate actions.
Said graveyard had a somewhat rocky terrain, and at the highest point, which was some sort of a hillock, stood what could be called a behemoth stone archway, with some kind of semi-plasma like alien substance in the mid of it all. Contrary to most other artefacts, this archway, which had been moved into this terrain in 1147, was peculiar. For one, it showed negative whenever any instrument scanned it. No signs of gravimetric force, no signs of ambient magics, no signs of energy density, no signs of extra-terrestrial signals, absolutely nothing. For a magical sensor, it was like the archway didn't exist. In 1771, an Unspeakable named Eloise had touched the alien substance, one that had instantly pulled her in. She hadn't ever walked out.
In a matter of days, something rather… fishy came out of the investigation. With every single passing second since Eloise had walked into the veil, a tiny bit of information from her magical records had begun fading. By the next three days, the Unspeakable who was once known as Eloise had been erased from the timeline itself. No one had ever heard of her, no one had ever seen her, interacted with her, for the fifty-nine years of her existence. Even her own daughter didn't remember having a mother known as Eloise, at all.
Levina stood up from her chair, as she walked out of the wall, into the rocky terrain. All in all, there were a total of eleven artefacts sitting inside the very terrain, all of them placed amidst powerful wards and bounded fields to secure some form of protection for the Unspeakables.
There used to be twelve though, before the incident of 1896, when the Mirror of Distortions was stolen from this very graveyard. Exactly twenty-nine days later, the stone archway (oddly named as the Veil of Death), demonstrated signs of gravimetric activity, before it threw out immense amounts of Obscurial energy outward for exactly twenty-nine seconds, instantly vaporizing each and every life form within the entire pocket dimension.
Levina slowed her pace, as she stood in front of the Veil, which stood, just as inert as always, the six ward stones placed all around the archway stone-cold, having no reason to flare up. She took a deep sigh, as she recalled the single chime she had gotten from one of the ward stones earlier in the morning, something that had sent the entire team into absolute frenzy, although in hindsight, it might have just as well be a minor fluke.
There occur no flukes in the graveyard. The more cynical part of her mind told her.
She bent in front of the ward stone, her wand barely touching the surface of the quartz crystal, as she muttered several forensic spells, letting out a tiny breath as every single test came out as negative.
Maybe it was really a fluke after all.
Levina stood up, as she turned away, taking a step further from the ward stone, when she suddenly felt the hair on her neck rise in response to an energy stimulus. With barely a second reaction time, she instantly leapt down from the hillock, hoping to avoid whatever it was behind her. She had nearly fallen onto the ground when she stopped in mid-air, as fumes dark as the blackest night floated all around her, enveloping her like some form of cocoon. The more curious part of her mind observed how those odd energies had literally held her in temporary petrification. The rest of her mind was crying in agony as she felt the fumes literally consume her consciousness. With exaggerated slowness, the fumes contaminated her very soul, as her eyes shifted into jet black, before she began speaking in an ominous tone.
"Words are like the wind, my friend. Words are like the wind."
Exactly one day prior to the incident. September 25, 1995.
"Dad, I demand to be taught in accordance to the old ways of our clan."
Jonathan Greengrass was annoyed. It had been over twenty-seven years that he had taken up the mantle of the Lord of his family, defeating his own elder brother in mortal combat, as per the laws of the Greengrass family ascension. Said elder brother, one Tristan Greengrass, had been an active supporter of the Dark Lord and pledged the family fortune to the Dark Lord's agenda, much to the annoyance of their father. Jonathan, five years younger to Tristan, had recently become a full-fledged Hit-wizard in the Ministry Corps, had openly challenged his brother's action and claimed the right to the Greengrass name.
That was how the one-handed Tristan now lay grounded in Azkaban, amongst the other Death eaters captured before the end of 1981.
The Greengrass family had been born in the aftermath of the disintegration of the line of Solomon back in the early 9th century, almost around the same time as the Houses Nott, Ollivander and the now dormant House of Prince, all of which had been the remnants of the disintegrated line of Solomon like itself. A Solomon descendant had joined in marriage with a Viking back then, enabling the ancestral magics of Solomon to be fused and incorporated into the new line.
That was how the Greengrass family totem, the bison, had come into existence, as had the Greengrass line of magic- an ability to reach down, into the very depths of the ground, and harness that raw, unbridled power beneath the surface, and shake the very earth itself.
How such power had handed over its reigns into the hands of the Greengrass line, no one really knew. Then again, as is with all Ancient or Most Ancient Houses, the origin of Family Magic has been something that has always remained a mystery. The only things the descendants were taught is that this… power, it came with the blood flowing in them, and that was all there was to it.
Contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't quite… mandatory for the heir to master the Family Magic before his/her ascension to the Lordship. On the contrary, most Lords didn't even have the slightest ideas about the true forms of the ancestral magic they wielded, save the very miniature crash courses the previous Lords taught them while they were at the heir apparent stage.
Jonathan himself, had been no different. Family Magic wasn't what one called standard magic. It was powerful, overwhelmingly so. It was raw, unbridled, and esoteric and manifested itself in ways that modern Arithmancy wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of. And the power… it was enticing, enough to take someone with the purest of hearts, corrupt their very nature by the inexplicable taste of its power, and turn them into a screaming, ravaging abyss that left a trail of death and devastation in its wake.
He didn't need to be reminded about the last time a Greengrass had taken the decision to master the Family Magic. Of course, any magical or muggle historian would know about the devastation of 1906, when a single witch effectuated an entire dormant volcano to erupt, nearly destroying the magical island of Naples. The Dark Lady Evangeline, after all, was Jonathan's grand-aunt.
And now, his eldest had come up to him, and using her status as the heir-apparent, made a formal proposal.
"I demand to be taught in accordance to the old ways of our clan."
That was six hours ago.
Daphne Greengrass was still sitting in the same room, a few steps away from him, waiting patiently for the Lord Greengrass to either accept or reject her demand. There was little to no reason to even consider the idea that said girl was getting impatient if not for the slight twitching of her eyes every now and then.
"Have you reached a decision?"
Okay, perhaps not so patient after all.
Jonathan turned around, before walking up to the couch where his daughter sat. "Tell me Daphne, what do you possibly hope to gain by this?"
Daphne raised an eyebrow. "I thought that as the heir apparent, it is my duty to learn the family craft."
"Yes, but that's not the reason, is it?" Before his daughter could vehemently protest, Jonathan continued, "You have been my heir apparent ever since your thirteenth birthday, and never once have you been even remotely interested in learning… what was it you called it? "The KABOOM style of Gryffindorish demolition?"
Daphne scowled. "Ares is a Slytherin by blood and nature, and even he's all about blowing things up every now and then, and besides, he is also learning his own Family Magics." The thought about her boyfriend seemed to irritate her even further, if the darkened expression of her countenance was any indication. Ares had been released from Saint Mungo's the previous day, and Sirius had taken him home outright, ignoring any and all protests. For all Daphne knew, Sirius might as well have grounded Ares for his little stunt for the rest of the year.
"So this is about Ares, is it not?"
Daphne gritted her teeth in frustration. "Yes."
"I'll ask you again, what do you possibly hope to achieve by learning the Family Magic?"
Daphne glared at him.
Jonathan stared serenely in return.
Silence pervaded for a couple of seconds.
Daphne looked away, let out a sigh of frustration. "Because I…. because I'm tired of being… useless."
Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "My eldest daughter was the runner-up of the 1994 International Under-17 Duelling Tournament. I hardly believe I would consider her of all people as useless."
Daphne shook her head. "You don't understand."
"Then make me."
Daphne sent a half-hearted glare. "It's not about the tournament, Dad. I'm useless when it matters. I was useless back in Romania, and I was-"
"So it is about the attack then."
Daphne's throat constricted. "Yes. It is."
"From what I remember, my dear," Jonathan closed onto his daughter and lifted her chin, looking squarely at her, "I myself, faced difficulty in fighting the assassin and the death-eater at the same time. If not for the… sudden advantages, there was a very good possibility that I myself, would have gotten injured or worse."
"Dad!" Daphne erupted vehemently. "You shouldn't say things like that."
Jonathan smiled. "I taught my daughter to be more pragmatic than that."
Daphne scowled. "That's not the point. At least you were fighting back there. Ares was dealing with three assassins on his own, and he won, Dad, he won. And stupid-little-Me was there, hiding behind the barriers, unable to defend someone I call my best friend. If I had not been pig-headed and learnt the family craft like he did for his, I would've been able to do better."
Jonathan looked squarely at her. "Daphne, you do remember the time, when I was… uncomfortable with you developing a… relationship with young Ares?"
Daphne flushed slightly. "Mmmm…hmmm."
"And you do understand that it wasn't out of some misguided sense of protection from the scion of the infamous Black family?"
Daphne nodded again, wondering where it was going.
"The events that happened recently, are the reason for my lack of… acceptance for your relationship back then."
Daphne looked up in surprise. "What do you..?"
Jonathan looked away. "Your friend… Ares, is not… normal, Daphne."
Daphne snorted. "You don't need to convince me about that, Dad. Ares is last person on Earth I would expect to be normal."
"You do not understand." Jonathan refuted.
"Try me." Daphne returned defiantly.
Jonathan sighed. "Let me put it this way. Who are the people… you think, are emotionally close to you and hold a lot of influence on you and your life?"
Daphne frowned at the oddly specific question. "A lot of people… but…"
The frown deepened. "At least… seven, but what's your-?"
"And how many people do you think your best friend can say for himself?"
The frown vanished, as her eyes became slightly... nostalgic for a moment.
"… For you it's your sister and friends for the school year. For me, it's my classes with Madame Flamel, you know how she's… and maybe some fun with Dad now and then. It isn't like… Miss White has any inclination to be even seen having something even remotely close to fun…."
"Four." Daphne revealed in a small voice.
"Four." Jonathan mused, "And pray tell, how many of them is he even remotely attached to, on a... emotional basis?"
The answer was clear and without reservation. "Me and Sirius."
Jonathan pressed closer to his daughter's face. "I want you to remember this. It will be… important in the years to come, if you are really bent on preserving your… relationship."
Daphne was confused. What did it have to do with-? "Dad, is this your way of making me get confused about my reasons of learning Family magic?"
Jonathan sighed. It appeared his way was not going to work. Let me try something else. "Daphne, what I want you to understand is that your… boyfriend isn't someone people usually set their bar for excellence."
"Take that back." Daphne barked. "Ares is a perfectly diligent student, the things he has learned-"
"I am not discounting his skill, nor his knowledge or diligence for that matter," Jonathan refuted, "Merlin knows that boy is almost the concept of diligence given human form."
Whatever Daphne had expected in reply, this was certainly not it.
"Ares's diligence, is not natural, and neither is his sense of self or his ambition to learn and absorb knowledge. He's… distorted, disturbingly so."
Daphne narrowed her eyes, straightening up.
Jonathan took a step back. "From what I understood from the recent events, you have been complaining to your mother about Ares avoiding you from time to time ever since you two have started Hogwarts, haven't you?"
It was true. Ever since the school term had begun, Ares had gone out of his way to maintain some… privacy between the two of them, often using the vastness of the castle as a barrier between himself and her. Initially, it had been offending to her, but a single discussion between the two of them (which was the nicest way of saying that she had incarcerated him with ropes in the Room of Requirement, forcing him to talk it out), things had gotten clearer.
"It…. It feels overwhelming, Daph. So many people, all of my age, all the time… it feels as if everyone is bumping into my privacy."
"What do you mean? It's not like you didn't face crowds before? France, New York?" She very wisely kept away from mentioning Romania.
Ares looked away, frustrated. "Those were… vacations, Daph, vacations." He looked at her squarely in the face. "That's the only time of the year I meet you, taking a break from my year-long schedule of study."
"In case you forgot, I also have a year-long school sess-" Daphne fumed.
"Yes, exactly. A year-long session with your sister, your friends and… so many people. I do not. It's only either Madame Flamel or me alone in the library, unless Pad-"
"It's not Sirius's fault that you aren't the most exuberant and outgoing kid in town." Daphne refuted hotly.
"No," Ares replied in a small voice. "I am, and have always been, a sheltered kid."
It hit her instantly. "Ares, I am—you know I didn't mean to-"
"The truth is always harsh." Ares gave a melancholic smile. "I'm… programmed like that, Daph. For me, the entire year is spent between me, myself and my studies. I know that I should be spending time with you, now that I'm in Hogwarts but-"
"But in your mind," Daphne continued softly for him, "we meet only on vacations."
"I… yes." Ares replied softly, looking away. "I tried to use your friends as a… way to keep others away."
"And your antics with Malfoy, Weasley and the animagus form." Daphne led on.
"What about that?" He asked in surprise.
Daphne snorted. "I wasn't born yesterday, Ares. I know you. You did that as a way of diverting others away to get your desired privacy." She paused as she regarded him once again, frowning to herself. "I suppose I only have myself to blame, expecting you to act like everyone else, now that you're at Hogwarts."
"Save it." Daphne waved it away, as she dispelled the ropes away from his person.
"You are not….?"
Daphne raised an eyebrow. "Angry? No. Irritated, a little bit I guess."
"That's a first."
Daphne glared at him, before her glare softened. "From now on, I expect these… tricks of yours to end. If you need time alone, just let me know, so that I don't have to search the seven floors for you."
"A monitoring charm would have solved the trick." Ares mumbled.
Daphne raised an eyebrow.
Daphne looked back at her father. "I was…" She paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "And we had a talk about it, and cleared things out."
That surprised him. "You did?"
Daphne bobbed her head. "He was being his obtuse self. I bound him with ropes and forced the dimwit to speak up."
Jonathan looked faintly amused.
"And I understand your point about him not being what… normal people of our age usually are, but it still doesn't null the fact that I was next to-"
"Daphne," Jonathan answered, "I am afraid that if you continue to measure yourself keeping him as your bar of excellence, your own concept of the world, the concept of right versus wrong, will be distorted as well."
"There is no right versus wrong, only people and their interpretations." Daphne replied stubbornly.
"Oh, so you would have killed those attackers just as easily as him that day, had you been in his position?"
Daphne opened her mouth. The words came just as easily, but she couldn't speak it. Her throat constricted. Odd, she decided. Those people were there to kill them. She would have severed their arms off, incarcerating them and then kill them in-
"Tell me Daphne," Jonathan repeated. "Would you have killed just as easily as him?"
"Daphne," Jonathan replied finally. "I understand that you love him, and I have no concerns about that. Should the two of you accept, Sirius and I are planning to settle for a betrothal agreement… by Christmas? I have no apprehension about it. But…" He stressed, "Remember this… Ares has a much distorted view of the world, and with his severe lack of emotional connection with the rest of the world, and his ever-increasing ambition to develop his potential…. Merlin forbid, should something go wrong… that boy may very well turn into something that leaves nothing but death in its wake."
"Dad!" Daphne exclaimed, horrified by his words. "How can you even say that?"
"As a Lord of an Ancient House, and as someone who truly understands the very nature of Family Magic." Jonathan stated clearly. "I understand the effects having that… power in one's own hands does it to their practitioners. There is a reason why most Lords aren't even allowed access to their Family Magic before they are over thirty."
"Ares has been studying them since he was nine." Daphne defended.
"And hence, if you continue to immerse yourself too much into his exploits, attempting to justify his distorted view of things, and it may in return affect your own judgement. From what I know of my eldest daughter," Jonathan continued, "your own way of thought is contradictory to his on various situations, and should you continue to justify his at the cost of your own, you might very well lose your morals for something… unsavoury."
Daphne took a step back, eyes wide in horror.
"So tell me, heir apparent of the line of Greengrass, why do you wish to be taught in accordance to the old ways?"
Victoria Greengrass nee Warren had always been a rather passionate woman, overly so for someone who had been sorted to and survived in Slytherin House in the nineteen-seventies. Back at school, everything had been much different, and she had dated Sirius Black for… quite a while, before the two of them had realized that things… didn't work out quite well between them. With the Dark Lord's threat looming, it was… deemed unsafe for the two of them to continue seeing each other, and they had decided to give it a break. A year after her NEWTs, her parents had betrothed her to Jonathan Greengrass, an upstanding hit-wizard from the Ministry Corps and the Lord of the Ancient family of Greengrass.
Looking back at it, her marriage to Jonathan had been successful, considering that he was a caring individual who put his family before everything else. After the Dark Lord's threat had receded, Jonathan had taken an official retirement from Hit-wizard duty and settled down to manage the family business and investments, after the death of his father in 1983, just a year after she had been pregnant with Astoria.
Seeing Sirius Black after all those years in France had been rather surprising, and slightly awkward too. Then again, Black's initial reputation as a womanizer of sorts back at school, along with the rumours and allegations about him being a death-eater in secret and kidnapping the Boy-who-lived had made her worry about Jonathan's reaction to him. Quite understandably, her husband was a little… guarded at first, but Sirius's easy-going attitude as well as his protectiveness for the Potter boy (now Black) had improved the situation in leaps and bounds. The fact that her eldest daughter was now in love with Ares had brought a smug smile on her lips, when she had recognized it for the first time.
Her line of thought broke down as she recognized the sound of the door opening, as Jonathan walked out with a frown, with Daphne, wearing an undecipherable expression on her face, followed him swiftly behind.
"What's wrong?" She couldn't help but ask.
"Your elder daughter has taken a decision." Jonathan replied grimly, "She has expressed an intent to learn her family craft."
Victoria widened her eyes, as she stared at Daphne. "Why?"
Daphne looked away. "My reasons are… my own."
Jonathan pursed his lips. "Well, I seem to have work cut out for me. No point bothering about it when you have a job to do." Turning towards his daughter, he addressed, "Meet me in the backyard in… twenty minutes. We will begin your training."
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't a prerequisite for the study of family crafts inside stone-walled dungeons, protected by several layers of bounded fields and wards, so that the family's 'Sanctorum' would be protected from not only by those who weren't blood, but from those who weren't the Lord or the heir.
That was what was running in Daphne's mind as she stood on the ground, her bare feet feeling the grass beneath her, as she stood in the wide expanse that was the Greengrass backyard, extending at least a couple of acres from the manor to the outer boundary. Of course, that didn't mean that she couldn't feel the power exuding from the obscure wards her father had activated as he stood, barefooted just like her, a few yards away, staring at her silently.
"When I summon the Family Magic of our line, it will rise and judge you. Should you be able to stand up to its judgement, and should your reason to wield the powers be significant enough, then the Family Spirit might decide to leave my presence and obey your command henceforth."
"But… wouldn't that mean…?" Daphne asked in shock.
"It would." Jonathan replied easily. "As I said, not every Lord of his family needs to embrace the Family Magic, but only a bare minimum which is required for formal purposes. I will still be the Lord of Greengrass for all intents and purposes, but you shall wield the Family crafts, should it judge you worthy."
Daphne stood silent.
"There is no place for hesitation. Once you begin, there is no going back." He paused for a second. "Are you ready?"
Daphne took a deep breath. "I'm ready."
Jonathan nodded, as he raised his hands away until they were farthest from each other, and concentrated, taking in deep breaths. For any normal witch or wizard, it would seem that he was simply meditating, or exercising in the open, but to those sensitive to magical influx, it was anything but that.
Daphne felt her suffocate by the sudden influx of energy that seemed to encompass all around her, flowing through the very air, as the grass leaves swayed in the direction of the magical breeze, the primal magic using the very wind as conduit as it drifted towards the forty-something Lord who didn't seem the slightest worried about it at all.
The rushing flux of magical energy concentrated, as Daphne felt the feeling of suffocation rise further in her, as actual lines of raw energy manifested in front of her father, conjoined into each other, contorting, swelling, expanding and morphing. Dazed and baffled, Daphne watched with growing wonder as the strings of magic condensed to form an ethereal, silvery-green creature, a bison, which grunted at her, flipping its tail back and forth.
Jonathan opened his eyes. "Daphne Victoria Greengrass, it is time you meet the bison, our family totem."
The magnificent construct of pure magic trotted towards her, before stopping right before her person. Dazed, her hand moved up, almost by itself, as she touched the totem which seemed to be… judging her, in some respect. After what seemed to be an eternity, her fingers finally managed to touch its magically constructed fur, as she felt an alien energy course right through her, devouring her, as her eyes brightened, courtesy to the raw power of the blood running through her veins.
"What is this… this…?" Daphne couldn't help but fail trying to even try explaining the feeling rising up in her.
"That is the Family Magic you feel coursing through your veins." Jonathan replied calmly. "The raw power of the very Earth itself." Even his voice seemed to strangely reverberate all around, influenced by the magic he was channelling. "Gaia, Osanyin, Prithvi, Joro, Ra… I have been called many names over many civilizations, the primal spirit of the Earth… I was there to spark and fan the flame of Man's awakening…" A single tear dropped from his left eye and ran down his cheek. "To spin the wheels of civilization… and when the forest of civilization grew unmatched and needed clearing for new growth… I was there… to set it ablaze."
A part of her couldn't help but feel mesmerized by the sheer presence which had, in some fashion, possessed her father to communicate with her. Another part of her wanted to run away for the hills with her proverbial tail between her legs.
"And my Dad… is allowing you to talk to me through him?"
Jonathan gave a half-sneer. "A wizard exists for the Family spirit, my dear. You have reversed the concept. I can channel my presence through anyone that holds my power flowing in their veins."
It felt… incredibly awkward. "So I am… speaking to the very source of my Family's magic?"
"In essence… yes." Jonathan replied, as the bison stared at her expressionlessly.
Jonathan just shrugged.
"So tell me… girl, what is the wish that you need fulfilled? What calls you to pick up the mantle that… so many of your ancestors have failed to embrace?"
Daphne looked down to the ground, not wishing to face her father, or the ethereal creature in front of her. "There was an attack… two years ago… in Romania…"
If you run fast enough, they won't be able to catch you. If you hide quickly enough, they won't be able to see you. If you-
The entire line of houses in the alley next to the one she stood in exploded in a world of flames and smoke, the wave from the explosion blasting herself back onto the wall as it hit her back hard, making her stump down to the floor.
"Daph! Daph we have to-"
The voice failed to make sense to her nearly addled mind, as the horror, the confusion, and the very idea that she would be killed any moment shattering her mental disciplines as her pale face betrayed any emotion except raw, unadulterated fear.
"We'll… we'll die." Her mouth speaks, almost on its own.
"We'll not." The voice resisted her, as a pair of strong hands held her up from the ground, hugging her hard before pushing her towards a narrow alley, just in time before voracious flames flooded their way through the main lane.
Daphne whimpered, hugging the person even tighter as he held on to her. Her wand fell down from her fingers onto the ground, rolling over to a corner.
"Daphne, look at me!"
She opened her eyes, the pale blue pupils still inundated with raw horror, as she took in the image of her friend, her best friend, the one person of her age she trusts beyond all reason.
"I'll protect you." He replied, his own face flushed, his eyes blazing, although the fear of death seemed to have sunk down deep within his own eyes as well. "I'll protect you. We'll find the others to get out of here! I swear!"
She flushed, looking hard at his face, as Ares caressed her face.
"Now let's get out of here!"
The duo stepped out of the alley, careful not to be in the path of the spell-fire. The entire town had been overlapped with powerful anti-apparation and anti-portkey wards, with Fiendfyre set loose in the town, trapping both the terrorists and the Auror squads amidst the flaming town. The Greengrass family and the Blacks had been there to Oltenia for a vacation amidst a city filled with such cultural heritage, only to find themselves sandwiched between a battle between the Auror squads and the terrorist organization, infamously known as the Black Death, which, from what it seemed, had a base in the city itself. Ares and Daphne had sprinted away from their respective parents towards the more attractive section of the market place, leaving the adults behind, and that was when all hell was gotten loose.
That was yesterday, and since then, Daphne and Ares had been away, hiding away in the desolate lanes, trying to get back to town.
"Daph," Ares whispered to her, "We need to get to the entrance. Maybe there would be a Floo operating or something."
"I'm not going anywhere without my parents." Daphne repeated stubbornly, a contradiction considering that she herself, was shaken by the magical detonations to her very core.
"They wouldn't be there… running around in the streets with this…" He pointed out towards the magical detonations, "going on. The Aurors would have-"
"I don't care." Daphne stressed vehemently. "I am not going there until I find my parents."
Ares sighed. "Very well. Stay close."
The two teens sprinted past the blackened alleys, making sure to avoid the magical traps and detonations and any random spell-fire breaking out from the ongoing battles in the side-alleys, past the fallen bodies of the dead, the mutilated bodies of the unfortunate who had lost their lives, past the broken, injured children who seemed to have found their peace and salvation from their pains in death… they ran on.
Daphne nearly sprained her ankle as she attempted to jump past a boulder, when Ares pulled her over, the duo falling down onto the ground, as a sickly red curse flew right where Daphne's head would have been, before hitting the wall, smashing the bricks into powder.
"Look, what do we have here?" A voice sneered. "A pair of lovely kids, trying to get past us."
The duo got off the ground, finding a group of snatchers standing before them. There were six of them, all of them, wands raised and pointed at the teens, smirking. "You two look like pureblood nobles. Will fetch a hefty amount eh?"
"Let us go." Ares warned, his wand tightening in his sweaty palm. Daphne picked her wand, which had fallen onto the ground, and raised it at them.
"Ah… feisty ones… just like the way I like it." One of the snatchers snorted, giving them an evil grin, before throwing a stunner.
Ares flicked up a shield, as the stunner bounced off harmlessly off it.
The man snarled. "So… you think you've got a fight in ya, do you?" Turning towards one of his men, he snarled. "Get the girl. I'll cripple the boy myself first." With that said, he sent a quick succession of severing curses towards the boy, only to find Ares jumping past the trajectories of the spell fire, and returning with blasting hexes.
"Impudent brat…" The man snarled again. "What are you arses doing there? Help me teach this brat a lesson."
Ares had been training with his father for quite some time now, and hence he was quite good with most offensive curses, not counting the immense arsenal of Dark magic he had attained from Cassiopeia's tutoring. However, that knowledge and skill didn't necessarily translate to performance. For one, he was still a fourteen-year-old and not someone whose core had matured, and secondly, he had been actively and continuously using magic since the last day, and all of that had taken a toll on his person.
"Gah!" Ares whimpered, as a bone-breaker hit his ankle, smashing him onto the ground, as he fell, being hit by the curse as he had attempted to dodge it midway. Daphne on the other hand, was having difficulty trying to stave off the incoming wrath of the other snatcher, as the four snatchers began firing curses at Ares, who desperately tried to shield himself from it.
"Crucio." One of the snatchers yelled, as a beam of sickly red light, twisting its way, shot from his wand towards Daphne who seemed devoid of any knowledge about its trajectory, herself trying to counter against a snatcher with an ice hex.
The sickly red unforgivable tore past the air as it nearly hit her, only for Ares to jump into its path, casting a full-fledged Contego shield, which glowed brightly as several other hexes splashed against its surface, except the unforgivable which tore through it, hitting Ares straight on his chest.
"Ares!" Daphne shrieked in horror.
"Crucio!" Another snatcher cast in quick succession, as the young teen began to writhe on the ground in despicable agony, caused by the pain of two active Cruciatus curses on his person.
"Reducto! Bombarda!" Daphne cried in rage and anguish, through around blasting curses before a langlock hex shut her up, with another flipping hex throwing her onto the ground. Another Incarcerous hit her, tying her hands and feet together, as she lay on the ground, thrashing around helplessly.
Ares had, by this time, almost given in to the pain, as the Cruciatus ceased, presumably because of the fact that he had stopped twitching and was completely devoid of any power in his body.
The four snatchers chortled, as they move past the fallen boulders, kneeling down onto the ground to hold the fallen boy up, as Daphne shrieked in rage and helplessness, unable to do anything from the ground, several steps away. She witnessed in growing horror as one of the men took out his wand and placed it on Ares's temples, as a dark-green shade radiated out of the fallen body, encompassing the four men.
"Fascinating…" Jonathan, still possessed by the bison, exclaimed. "To channel the intent of murder through accidental magic… your mate must be blessed with powers akin to my own."
Daphne ignored the mate reference, her eyes were too busy dripping with tears at the memory. It had been several hours after which the Auror squad had been able to find her, shrieking her lungs out, calling out for someone, anyone to help her… help him. She faintly remembered her mother and father picking her up from the ground before she had lost consciousness.
"That day…" Daphne whispered finally. "I made a promise to myself. Something that has been my heart's true desire, more than any other blessing I could achieve." She paused, staring directly at Jonathan who seemed to stare back at her in deep fascination. "To save Ares's life one day, no matter what the cost."
"Fascinating." Jonathan repeated.
Daphne sniffed, her eyes lachrymose. "Three days ago, an attack by the same people… nearly killed my friend once again, and once again, I was there, standing away, unable to help… useless."
Another tear dropped down Jonathan's cheek.
Daphne looked back at him, a part of her wondering if the tears were her father's or some… response from the possessing spirit. "I do not want to be useless ever again. I don't want to be weak ever again. I want to master this power… this… magic, so that no one, ever hurts someone I love… ever again."
"Very well." Jonathan's voice reverberated around her, as he stepped forward, walking up to her. Almost subconsciously, Daphne stepped back in caution.
"Do not fear me, girl. If you have it within you… to wield my own power… to be a priestess of the Earth like the great ones, the traces of whose blood runs in your veins… you should cast away all aspersions you have about yourself, and recreate yourself in my image." He held Daphne's right hand, opening her palms, as he made her kneel down onto the floor, her palm touching the earth. "Reach… as deep as you can… feel… the energy flowing through the ground." He stood up, leaving Daphne on the ground, her palm still touching the bare soil. "You will find you have the power to move the very Earth itself."
Meanwhile at Hogwarts. The Headmaster's office. October 1, 1995.
"Is there a reason behind the entire charade, Albus?"
Albus Dumbledore stared at his long-term friend Alastor Moody, Master Auror and one of the most formidable fighters on the planet. Even before Alastor Moody became an Auror, Albus Dumbledore knew him. When he was engaged in a completely disparate profession, something that was as far away from an Auror as possible, Albus Dumbledore knew him.
"Whatever do you mean, Alastor?"
Moody frowned, or well, frowned more than what his normal facial expression was. A rather… significant yet unfortunate incident had occurred in the late 1960's, something that caused Alastor to suffer from irreversible damage in his spinal cord, cutting out any and all control he had over a portion of his facial muscles. The Alastor Moody prior to the accident had been a rather handsome one.
"This charade with Black and his son. First you brought the two of them to Britain, away from their home, and now all of this."
Albus pursed his lips. "It is unfortunate that even you question my ways, old friend." His moustache quivered slightly. "The prophecy marks Harry Potter as the one to vanquish Lord Voldemort, who as you well know, is gone so far into the Dark Arts that even I cannot end him for good."
It was true. Albus Dumbledore had in fact, faced Lord Voldemort in a battle, one that had continued for some fifteen minutes, at the end of which, he had been able to trap the Dark Lord inside a ball of raging fire, using a spell of his own design, and then, gone further to trap the fireball inside a magical construct created to serve as an unbreakable contraption to make sure the Dark Lord wouldn't be able to break out of it.
Lord Voldemort had been burning inside the contraption for hours, before which Dumbledore, not able to keep up with maintaining the entire set of spells, and believing the Dark Lord as dead, had dispersed the spell away.
Everyone had stood, gaping as dense, black liquid flowed out of the now-dispersed flames, before the semi-solid rose up into the air, reforming into the body of the Dark Lord. Bloodied, mutilated, and scorched, but still functioning and alive.
With one single snarl, the Dark Lord had threw out a wandless surge, one filled with magic as dark as the blackest night, radially outward like a wide-area hex. Only Dumbledore and Moody himself had been able to survive the alien power behind the wave. The rest of the Auror teams had been scorched to ashes.
There was after all, a reason, why fifteen years after the Dark Lord's apparent demise, every single person was afraid of even muttering his name.
"And I still do not understand why you think Harry Potter can end him for good."
Albus raised an eyebrow. "He did it once, and sent him flying for fourteen years."
"That doesn't justify your hopes in a teenager, Albus." Moody refuted, raising his voice at Albus's motion to try interrupting him. "Let me finish, Albus. I agree that the boy is powerful, and talented, and is of the Slytherin bloodline. I agree that there are many similarities between him and the Dark Lord as well. I am also willing to ignore the dire possibility that he might just not want to fight against Voldemort as well."
Moody paused. "I will repeat, what the fuck makes you think that a teen can defeat him, when Albus Dumbledore could not?"
Albus knew what to say. He knew exactly what the reason was.
He stared hard at the other man. "Tom believes in the Prophecy, and so do I."
Moody snorted. "And pray tell, what exactly is your… intention behind this… new plan of yours?"
Albus frowned. The plan, as Moody referred, wasn't a plan in the first place. It was simply… him taking advantage of the situation, which would have come to pass regardless of his personal intentions. "You make me sound like some kind of master manipulator, old friend."
"I cannot believe you figured that one out." Moody deadpanned.
Albus snorted. "You are overreacting, Alastor. The International Duelling Tournament is simply being held here in Britain, this year. I am simply… preparing the stage so that Hogwarts can have a solid representation. The previous time, Miss Greengrass turned out as the Runner-Up and she was an independent duelist. I am just wishing that this time, Hogwarts would sponsor whoever would be chosen as its representatives for the tournament."
"Right." Alastor drawled. "And it was only out of the goodness of your heart that you tried to put Britain's name into the nomination for venue for this year, which, completely by happenstance, is the year when Ares Black comes running to Hogwarts for his OWLS."
"Completely by happenstance, I assure you." Albus quipped. "I even have a professor for Dueling set up, contracted earlier at the beginning of the year for this very event. I had no idea back then that the Blacks would, in fact, choose to return back to Britain."
"If you say so." Moody returned, not buying it for a second.
"You are overly paranoid, my old friend." Albus smiled at him. "As it turns out, I decided that you and your… overly aggressive style wouldn't suit the art of duelling, and hence, this new professor is there for the same."
"Dominic Westmarch." Albus answered freely. "Also, I am planning a miniature duelling tournament amongst the students, and send the top-two finalists as Hogwarts representatives for the tournament, with Hogwarts sponsoring them into the international duelling circuit, should either of them decide to do so. Just like the Triwizard, the finalists would be exempt from taking classes, should they want to invest the time practicing."
Alastor raised his one good eyebrow. "And that isn't…. shall we say, a round-about way of saying that you will be sending Ares Black and… possibly Miss Greengrass once again, for the tournament?" He stood up. "What exactly are you aiming to accomplish with making Ares Black show up his skills on the international stage?"
"Come now, Alastor." Albus quipped. "You say that as if I have already orchestrated the entire thing in advance from a year ago."
Alastor didn't bother to dignify that with a comment.
"For that record… I have to ask, old friend." Dumbledore asked with unusual slowness. "It seems… Sirius Black is rather set on antagonizing me, or at least, that's what it has appeared so far."
A classic case of pot calling kettle. Alastor didn't say.
"What I want to know… is where you stand in this." Dumbledore muttered quietly. "It has always been my intention to make sure that Harry Potter remains safe… and protected, and while I admit Sirius has indeed done the same, and a rather good job at it… chances are the boy's mindset has been… drifted to incorporate the views of the Black family, unlike the Potters like he should have."
In short, the boy should've been a philanthropist and self-sacrificing like Charlus Potter, and not a political juggernaut like Arcturus Black. Moody translated. He had known Charlus Potter while the man was alive, and stood witness to the man's magical prowess and talents on the battlefield. It was almost a pity that a lion like that, had been so… meek and self-sacrificing (suicidal in his opinion) to a point of annoyance. As much as he liked young James, he had been annoyed at the way James seemed to drain his family wealth to supply for the war-effort (the Order missions) without a second thought. The more cynical part of his mind felt somewhat glad that the boy had grown up with Sirius Black, and not James.
"There isn't a point in beating about the bush, Albus." Moody began gruffly. "I'll be candid, and say that I'm no fan of the way you've handled the entire situation from the very beginning."
"I could tell." Albus deadpanned. Ever since the events of Halloween, 1981, Moody had quit the field job, quit the Order, and joined up at the Auror Training Academy as a trainer. It had taken the Triwizard Tournament and the prospect of a dangerous security issue that had all but forced Alastor Moody to return to Albus Dumbledore's world, and take up the position as the DADA instructor at Hogwarts.
"Sirius Black was a celebrated Auror, and one of my best protégés. And you tried to get him arrested because of the words of a half-addled Death eater, who was, by the way, his own brother, and considered him a traitor to the Black name."
"It was a war, and situations turned out to be such, that I felt some concerns over Sirius choosing-"
"Hippogriff Shit, Albus." Moody snorted. "Call me paranoid, but I think differently."
"And what… exactly do you think, old friend?" Albus asked, a rather… disturbing tone to his voice.
"I think…" Moody answered, "—that you wanted the Boy-who-lived under your own thumb, and wanted to make sure that it happened. Did you try to get an innocent man arrested out of spite? Perhaps not. Did you ignore the possibility that Regulus Black's confession might be erroneous in light of Sirius taking Harry Potter away? Perhaps. Would you try to actively strangle Harry Potter from his godfather because of the Prophecy? Perhaps not. Would you make sure that Harry Potter remains a beacon against Voldemort? Perhaps."
Albus raised an eyebrow. Leave it to Alastor Moody to fragment and isolate a single event into several contexts and theorize outcomes. Even he had to admit, the man's paranoia had its perks.
Alastor looked at the Headmaster squarely in the face. "I believe that you are, as usual, ignoring the trees for the forest, not something… uncommon in your list of decisions. There is a reason after all, why Albus is the only Dumbledore left in Britain."
A shadow of something flickered in Albus's eyes, but he refused comment.
Moody gave a wry grin. It was true. Sometime in the early months of 1946, soon after Albus Dumbledore had returned home as a war-hero, having just defeated Gellert Grindelwald and ended the Great War, Aberforth Dumbledore had packed up his lot, sold the keys to the Hogs' Head to one Franklin Abernathy, and left Britain without so much a word. The general opinion was that Aberforth, who had always been left in Albus's shadow, had completely lost his mind in jealousy, in light of his brother's recent achievements, and left Britain for good.
The younger Dumbledore had never been spotted, anywhere else in the world, after that event.
"Irrespective of past history…" Albus began, after clearing his throat loudly, "and returning to the present situation, I believe that I can leave the Inter-House Tournament between your able hands and the soon-to-be joining Professor Westmarch, and hopefully, Hogwarts will have its representatives in time before the International Tournament begins."
He paused for a moment.
"That will be all."