Chapter 64 - A New World Order

The chaos that descended with the extreme climate change had people going mad. Their well-structured economic lives had fallen apart and they could find no foothold on the cliff of anarchy they were slipping down.

An elderly gentleman wrinkled all over, rocked on the rubble with his feet drawn to his chest as anarchists smashed the windows of the stores around him and looted with unrestrained desire.

"It's the apocalypse. The horsemen have come," he moaned as the clouds in the sky thundered bringing hail as they got closer. "We're doomed. We're all doomed!"

The speed at which the climate was cycling between the seasons was picking up pace, shortened from months to weeks. Humanity's greatest minds were losing the battle against time and it was everyone for themselves now.

The poor and homeless would be the first to go and the rich would be able to hold out for a few years before they too would succumb to the inhospitable environment their world was turning into.

But there were those who began to gain abilities as they fought to survive. Unexplainable abilities aided them to rise above the extremities and gain strength to survive.

Harry had brought back magic forgotten. The world was forever changed by its re-discovery and power. Muggles were gaining magic at a faster speed and amidst the chaos, a new order was born.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

Daphne was awoken by the constant knocking on her bedroom door and an instant later she felt the pain of her brain trying to break out of her skull.

She groaned into her pillow.

The knocking paused for a brief moment of respite before restarting with greater intensity.

"Daphne! Wake up! Daphne!" Hermione was shouting from the other side, the frustration evident.

Daphne blinked through bleary eyes and groaned again when she felt the drool on the side of her mouth.

The banging resumed.

"I'm up," she mumbled, tossed aside her bed cover and got out of her bed drowsily.

"Daphne!"

Daphne yawned and stretched her arms over her head to get some feeling into them. Her thoughts pounded with pain as she tried to focus memories of the last night into cohesion.

The door pounded again.

"I'm up!" she shouted and immediately coughed. Her throat was dry as sand. "Fuck," she muttered and stumbled towards the dressing table to see her condition in the tall mirror.

"Will you come out? I need to talk to you."

Daphne looked into the mirror and she realised she was naked. Suddenly, like a dam bursting, memories of the night rushed to the front of her mind and her headache worsened.

"Daphne!"

"Coming, just give me a minute!" Daphne snapped back loudly and instantly regretted it as her temples pounded harded.

She turned to her bed to confirm the memories were real and not just a vivid dream and nodded mutely to herself when she saw Harry in her bed, passed out under the sheets with his mouth half open and almost eagle spread as if without a care in the world.

Bizarre as the situation was, Daphne grinned and wished she had a camera. But first and more importantly, she had to prevent Hermione from breaking down her door and finding Harry fucking Potter in her bed.

She took a deep breath, pushed back the disarray that was her hair and freshened her mouth and face with a quick cleansing spell.

Walking to her wardrobe, she kicked aside all clothes strewn on the wooden floor and summoned a bathroom to cover herself before skipping to the door to open a crack in it to see Hermione on the other side looking a perfect portrait of annoyance.

She smiled a bit sheepishly and pursed her lips to prevent herself from laughing. "What's up?"

Hermione scowled and folded her arms. "Kitchen. Now." she practically hissed and marched back to the kitchen counter.

Daphne stepped out into the hall and winced at the bright light streaming in through the balcony doors. She shut the bedroom door softly behind her, marvelling at Harry's ability to sleep through that noise. And thankful too, she was able to avoid the uncomfortable morning after. Hopefully, if he woke, he'd be smart enough to listen in and stay put. If not, there would be no forgiveness this time around.

"Did you know you're a screamer?" Hermione said, her voice tinged with annoyance.

Daphne's heart stopped and silence flooded her with ice. "What?" she asked dumbly. Hermione wasn't possibly saying what she thought she was saying.

Hermione just shook her head with a long sigh and poured her a mug of coffee and held it out for her.

"Thanks," she said gratefully and took a sip, sighing with relief as the hot bitter magic raced down her throat and awakened her senses.

"Next time, don't forget silencing charms," Hermione huffed. "Woke me up in the middle of the night making me think you were being attacked."

Daphne felt heat rise up her neck.

"You didn't …" Daphne looked back at her door.

"No, of course, I didn't… I mean… I did open the door to see if you were alright... But I didn't see anything.. much…" Hermione's cheeks shuffled between shades of red as she spoke. "I just saw… erm… you were on top?" she trailed off awkwardly. "I made a quick exit," she finished finally with a note of finality.

"I'm… I'm so sorry," Daphne stuttered, burning with embarrassment and relief as well, knowing that Hermione didn't know who it was… probably… A moment's silence passed and the Daphne couldn't stop herself from asking. "What was I doing?"

Hermione looked at her incredulously. Her eyebrows disappeared behind her bangs as her eyes widened.

Daphne just grinned and shrugged. Her thoughts were slowing down and the heat of last night's passion washed over her.

Hermione rolled her eyes and huffed. "You were on his face, grinding… and moaning."

Daphne flushed and grinned without regret and more relief. So she hadn't seen his face.

If she did, Daphne knew the reaction would have been worse. 'Good,' she thought and took another sip of coffee to focus her mind on changing the topic.

"Well don't you worry," Daphne said apologetically, "I'll make sure you don't have to see him and get rid of him quickly. Was that why you were trying to break down my door?"

"No," Hermione said, feeling less annoyed. "I hope that's not Draco in there."

"Of course not," Daphne scrunching her nose in disgust at the very idea. "Just a guy I picked up at the bar after getting piss drunk."

"Was that why you were trying to break down my door?" Daphne asked exasperatedly.

"No," Hermione said. "Did you forget I met with the High Council? Aren't you curious about what happened?"

"Oh fuck. I forgot. How did it go?"

"Jeez," Hermione grumbled. "Just how hungover are you?"

"Very," Daphne said with a dry chuckle. "Well go on, tell me. Was it as boring and pointless as I said it would be?"

"Come on," Hermione said, nodding towards the balcony, "Let's get you some fresh air."

Daphne followed her mutely. At least the topic was changed, she thought wearily.

Hermione led her into the spacious terrace, corners lush with potted palms and bougainvillaeas. She leaned on the steel railing and stared into the desert.

Daphne leaned beside her and sipped her coffee gingerly. She was beginning to feel a little better. Her body ache had dropped to a mild pulsating beat and her brain seemed to have toned down its beat to a dull throb. She looked at Hermione and saw uncertainty. "What happened?" she asked and forced her mind to stop fantasising about last night and focus on Hermione and her story.

"Tom and the others took me to a cave deep inside the goblin city," Hermione began. "And in there was an incredible river of pure magic, like what the Thames has become, but a hundred times faster."

"Damn."

"It was breathtaking, Daphne," Hermione said, her eyes far away, reimagining the moment she first laid eyes on it.

"The High Council has been studying it and they believe it could be the answer to reversing the curse and restoring the world to the way it was before."

"No way," Daphne exhaled. This was huge!

"They've been working on it for a while and they want me and that means by extension, you as well, to help them decipher the runes."

"What did you tell them?" Daphne asked. She had the key to deciphering the runes passed out in her bed.

"I told them yes… obviously."

Daphne grimaced.

"Oh come on Daphne. Were we really going to say no? This could be the way to fix everything!"

Except for the snafu in her room, Daphne thought, feeling exasperated by the surreal predicament that had enveloped her reality.

Hermione took Daphne's silence as acceptance.

"Anyway, they got a message from Moody and decided to wrap things up for the night. Whatever that message was, it had them alarmed."

Daphne fell deep in thought, putting the pieces of Hermione and Harry's stories together. Atlantis, The Source, The River. The river was connected to the mystery of the source and while Hermione thought it could turn time backwards, Harry would see it as a way to Atlantis... She was certain of it. She could see both points of view clashing and she grimly realised eventually, she'd have to choose a side.

"Daphne?"

"Sorry, just thinking," Daphne replied. "So what's next?"

"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "They didn't exactly say much after. I guess we'll get a message or they'll come knocking when it's time to go?"

"They don't trust us," Daphne muttered darkly. "Old farts."

"Hermione laughed. "Well, I know the way so if they keep us hanging we'll go to the cave regardless."

Daphne finished her coffee and sighed in relief. Her hangover had passed its ugliness and settled into lethargy. She straightened up in an attempt to pump some energy into her bones and only succeeded in worsening her migraine. "So I'm gonna get another cuppa and get rid of the dude."

She headed back to the kitchen and Hermione followed, feeling something off about Daphne's one-night stand. Daphne had passed through multiple bars and got hammered a couple of times but she had never come back with a guy. What was so special about this one?

"See you in a bit," Daphne said with a smile and walked back to her room with a nonchalance that Hermione found suspicious. Daphne was hiding something from her, that was certain. Was she just embarrassed or was it something more, she wondered as Daphne disappeared into her room and it locked with a click.

Hermione stood alone in the hall and frowned. Then despite her better judgement, she tiptoed to Daphne's door and put her ear up against it.

She heard nothing but silence. "Now she decides to silence her door," she huffed. Hermione then sighed and decided to get back to her notes.

Daphne, as soon as she entered her room, put up a strong silencing spell on the room and looked at her bed to find it empty.

She heard the shower running, sighed and leaned back on her door to take a moment to process the past twenty-four hours.

She looked up at the white ceiling and a bubble of laughter burst out of her, her body shaking with mirth. Of all the things she had expected, shagging Harry Potter was nowhere on her list.

For better or worse, her journey had taken a sharp turn into the unknown. There was also the matter of a magical river in a cave which Hermione and the High Council believed was the miracle they were looking for. Daphne wrestled with the decision of telling Harry or not. There was still so much she didn't know. He said his goal was to find Atlantis and escape the desert, but what then? Would he reverse the curse or worse, was he going to cause more destruction?

He had changed, that was certain. And that was what convinced Daphne to allow him a modicum of trust in him.

She looked around her untidy room and waved her hand with the intent to tidy up, and instantly their crumpled clothes flew off the floor to the chair beside the dressing table and neatly folded themselves and steamed as if freshly laundered. Her dark grey bed covers began to straighten out and tuck themselves in.

With another wave of her hand, the dark curtains flew open behind her bed, revealing the massive window behind, to allow natural light to stream.

"Much better," she muttered. She hated a mess and she adored her room. She loved the dark wooden floor, and the four-poster bed flush against the large windows on the far end of her room and liked the fact that the bathroom and wardrobe area were opposite each other adjacent to the entrance.

She looked to the bathroom door and thought about the conversation to be had. Last night was great, magical even, but she knew better than to expect anything more than it being a one-night stand.

The shower was still running and Daphne frowned. He was taking an awful lot of time. Dread filled her when the realisation struck her he could have left the water on to stall her and disappear on her.

Daphne moved with purpose towards the bathroom, the heat of her emotions promising vengeance if he had run away.

There was no need to have been worried. The heat of vengeance in her body began to transform into arousal when she spied him naked, under the shower.

She bit her lip mischievously and hopped onto the marble countertop by the door and made herself comfortable.

Loud sounds grating painfully against his brain shook Harry awake from his deep slumber. Eyes closed and mind waking, he realised he was in an unfamiliar place. The sheets above him were warm, the bed below soft and silky and his body felt as if it had been bashed in with a club.

Harry groaned and his eye fluttered open as sluggish instincts kicked in to figure out where the hell he was and why he felt like his body weight had doubled.

Staring up at the ceiling, he focused on the last thing he remembered and memories of loud thumping music, grinding in a club against Daphne, eventually losing all inhibitions and fucking in the bathroom stall… it all came rushing forward and Harry lay still in the bed for a moment.

"Huh." He was curiously surprised by his actions last night.

He remembered bits and pieces of the frenzy in the ladies' room of the club. He recalled drinking some more, laughing, smoking even more and then the memories jumbled into puzzles of laughter, arguments, walking, sex by the riverbank, stumbling into the Elysium and into Daphne's bed for more sex.

He had never really thought about sex before. Sure he had educated himself about the reasons and mechanics in the Library of Hogwarts after the encounter with the Auror in the forest and even come upon a book about the pleasures of the flesh in Morrigan's Library.

The experience itself was… exhilarating. He had let go and instinct had taken over. The first time in the restroom had been quick, passionate and awkward but from then on, everything… All his senses… were just in sync with the moment.

Harry let out a sigh he didn't realise he was holding in and then with a bit of effort rolled out of bed.

It suddenly struck him he was actually in Daphne's bedroom. His eyes focused and swept the bed and then the room around and found no trace of her. He closed his eyes and pulled at the void.

Instantly his senses sharpened and awareness spread. He heard voices from outside the bedroom and subtly moulded the void onto the separating wall and turn it invisible.

He flinched at the bright light of the living room and his pupil contracted to adjust to the volume and spotted Daphne on the balcony with another woman he vaguely recognised as Hermione Granger, deep in conversation.

His eyes lingered on Daphne in her silk bathrobe with little left to the imagination and he grinned. Tempted as he was to eavesdrop, he didn't and broke the spell, returning the wall to its normal state and decided to take a shower to think. Water had the uncanny ability to smoothen the edges of a confused mind and yes, Harry was confused. Just not sober or awake enough to process it.

On the highest floor of the Elyiusm, out on the windy terrace, the High Council had gathered to lay down the options they had.

Harry Potter's appearance was a bad sign. Tom was of the opinion that if he stayed out of sight and out of their way, there was no need to interfere.

A halo of light appeared in the night sky and the sunrise, resonated with the dead silent grim atmosphere of the desert.

"We must speak with him," Flitwick said stoically as he reached over the round table they were seated around to grab the teapot to refill his cup. He took a gentle sip and levelled Tom with a stern look. "Like it or not, he created this curse and he'd likely have the answers to reverse it."

"I agree with Tom," Moody grunted from his seat, nursing a glass of whiskey idly in his hand. "What we don't want is for him to get to the cave and end up destroying everything we've salvaged."

"And he most definitely will be attracted to it and will find it," Flitwick retorted. "Don't you think it would be wise to take control of the situation instead of hoping for the best?"

Tom, leaning back in his chair, enjoying the breeze of dawn, knew Flitwick was right. "From what I understand after our work last night, is that the river has the ability to manifest reality by latching onto the literal soul of an object. And each soul has a subconscious thought that stands above the rest. For example, for the goblin, I'd imagine to live and fight, was its last thought and even in death, the river was able to reach it and manifest it. However, the conscious mind of the goblin was weak and it disintegrated immediately."

"So you're saying if our mind, will and magic are strong enough, we can manifest our thoughts, dreams, and desires? Sounds like a fantasy," Moody said with a scoff.

Tom laughed. "Your words are more true than you know. We are stuck in a fantasy."

"Where are you going with this Tom?" Flitwick asked, sticking to the point.

Tom sighed deeply. "Our problem is, one: how do we measure the power required? Two: It's a river, which means it has a source. Which in turn begs the question do we need to travel to the source to be successful and in that case how do we get there? Do we simply ask the river to take us to the source? Or do we stand within the river and simply imagine."

Flitwick chuckled, "Now there's the true fantasy."

"So what do we do?" Moody asked. "Don't forget the vampires want to get to that cave for their own reasons and now, shockingly, they've accepted our invitation to parley in the Elysium."

"The vampires are a problem but not the problem," Tom replied. "We came to a truce with them to maintain stability. But now, we have to take a drastic step if we are to solve this problem."

"Stop speaking in Riddles, Tom."

"We toss in a human. There's enough vermin in the tunnels and reading the runes with a human mind in it might give me the details I need to understand the runic structure."

"But the point is; we need a strong-willed vermin, Tom," Flitwick retorted. "Are you willing to risk it? Let's face it, we need to ally with Potter."

Moody suddenly slammed his hand on the table. "What we need to do," he growled, "Is parley with the vampires, stab them in the back and tear out all the information from the minds. Don't forget, this is a war for survival."

Flitwick sighed. He wasn't surprised. This is what the world was now. Kill or be killed.

"They'll have to be expecting it and five elder vampires are no slouches in battle," Tom said. "Not to mention for them to accept our invitation knowing there is a possibility we betray them, is in itself highly suspicious."

"It must be because of Potter," Flitwick theorised. "They must have sensed his power and are probably trying to enslave him but it won't work. They don't see the depth of his power. Their lust blinds them."

"Either way, we must decide our plan of action."

Tom sighed. "Is there any news from Draco, Alastor?" he asked.

"None," Moody grunted, "And I expect none. The little bastard was passed out in the lobby. Took me a couple of slaps to get him conscious. Expecting him to check in with Greengrass to determine if Potter is with her in that haze is a task too tall."

Brightness took over the sky and Tom stood up as if signalled by it.

"What is it?" Flitwick asked. He knew that look. It meant the dark lord had made a decision. No matter how much Tom tried to hide it, Flitwick knew, that a dark lord is not dead unless buried six feet underground. Flitwick knew, that when the time came, Lord Voldemort would take the reins and both he and Moody could sense the time was near.

"Let's set the ball rolling, we need to prepare," he said and walked back into their top-floor lounge to his desk to pen a note to the vampires. None of this was a coincidence. He was almost certain there was subtle magic at play bringing them together knowing there was but one outcome.

Chaos.

Under the rain of hot water, Harry sighed, feeling relaxed. He was impressed by the size and luxury of the bathroom and was grateful for the glass-enclosed shower space. His head down and arm stretched out against the wall for support, Harry enjoyed the force of the water against the back of his neck and its flow down his spine.

He let his thoughts flow. Starting from the day he had met Daphne in Diagon Alley to his turbulent time in Hogwarts with Daphne being the only true constant and now, after an epic journey, back with her again, this time intimately entwined, fate uncertain. Parallely he placed the route his dark desires had taken him on. From the day he murdered his relatives, to the harsh environment of the desert. From murdering the werewolf to murdering the professor. His thoughts swirled around the obsession he had with turning everything into a desert and wanting to teach the magical kind a lesson equal to his rage at their perverse way of abusing magic.

Parallel to that, he placed the route his love of magic had taken him upon. The quest of the source! His heart leapt and he grinned. Avalon, the Badlands, his mother and now Atlantis. Just thinking about finding out the secrets of Atlantis gave him goosebumps despite the hot water drenching him.

Each path was its own colour, deeply twined with the other, and he was now at the vortex that lay at the end. Another evolution.

He summoned soap and with barely a thought enchanted it to lather him up.

One of the routes was driven by hate and Harry realised he had let go of it. The process of healing his green, which had begun way back when the sage had put him through hell, was complete.

Harry chuckled, feeling a flood of power rise from within. He straightened up, cracking his back to get some flexibility back. He rolled his shoulders, washed away the soap, turned off the shower, stepped out of the cubicle and looked around for a towel but instead found the figure of Daphne near the entrance of the bathroom, sitting on the white marble countertop by the washbasin, leaned back with her one leg folded under and the other dangling, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

His surprise was quickly replaced with amusement and he rolled his eye and summoned a towel and wrapped it around his waist.

"Enjoyed the show?"

"You make good eye candy, Harry," Daphne giggled. "Your scars add points to your sex appeal instead of taking them away and I'd rate you a ten if only you did something about that hole in your face. Can't magic yourself a new one? Or at least a fake one."

Harry grinned and walked closer to her and leaned by the opposite wall to face her. "Never considered it till now… but speaking of eye candy…" Harry said slyly eyeing her from top to bottom, her robe not doing much to keep her covered.

Daphne shrugged nonchalantly, "I'm aware I'm a bomb. You should be honoured I let you into my bed."

Harry laughed. "As I recall, you threw me onto it."

A flush crept up Daphne's neck and grinned back at him, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "You can throw me onto it now if you want to," she said and waggled her eyebrows.

Harry's nostrils flared, a ripple of arousal growling within him. And then Daphne poured ice all over it by adding, "But first we gotta talk about Hermione."

He deflated.

Daphne was amused by his disappointed expression. It was so… human. She was finally having a conversation with Harry after years of failed attempts. "Come on," she said and skipped off the counter.

Harry snapped his fingers to dry himself and followed her back into the room.

Daphne summoned another robe from the wardrobe and directed it at Harry's face who snatched it out of the air and scowled at her. Nevertheless, he let the towel drop to the floor and wrapped himself in the surprisingly soft and warm robe.

Daphne went towards the french windows behind the bed and placed her palm on the glass.

Harry saw magic flare on the windows and was taken aback when the entire room began to shimmer and the wall transformed into a balcony furnished with two chairs around a table that had a large umbrella popping out from the centre, overlooking the yellow dunes of the desert.

His eyebrows rose, impressed with the fluidity of the enchantment built into the windows.

"Awesome right?" Daphne said.

"Pretty cool," Harry agreed.

"Ok," she said and clapped her hands, rubbing them together. "You get comfortable, I'm gonna get some drinks."

"Last night wasn't enough?"

"Oh shush. I'm gonna need some for this conversation," she said and headed towards the door when she noticed his towel on the floor. She stopped to turn and glare at him. "Don't be a slob, Harry," she sniped and banished it to its rightful place.

Harry was almost ready with his retort but she had left quickly, taking the last word with her.

Daphne hoped Hermione wasn't around as she quietly summoned a bottle of vodka and tonic, a mixer, two martini glasses and a couple of limes from the kitchen cabinets.

"Daphne!"

'Busted,' Daphne thought and turned to face Hermione with resignation.

"You said you were getting rid of him!" she said in outrage. "You know we have important things to do and yet you're…."

"Sorry, Hermione," Daphne interrupted. "But a girl wants what a girl wants," she said with a matter-of-fact shrug and escaped back to her room, leaving Hermione with her mouth open, feeling furious.

Daphne joined Harry who was already comfortably leaning back in the chair puffing rings with the spliff held between his fingers.

The ingredients floating beside her started mixing drinks and by the time Daphne laid back in the chair, two glasses gently touched down on the small round table. She reached out for hers and raised it to Harry. "Cheers," she said and took a healthy sip. "Oh, that's the stuff," she groaned.

Smiling at her antics, Harry summoned the glass, saluted and took in an equal amount.

Daphne stretched out her hand and held out two fingers and Harry passed her the joint.

"Where are you getting all these?" she asked and took a drag.

Harry conjured an ashtray for the table.

"Picked a bunch from a kid who was selling outside the Den."

She kept the spliff on the ashtray and stared over the horizon. "So before we talk about Hermione's news," she began. "What do you know about the Elysium?"

"Not much," Harry replied. "Just that's its a haven for the magical and the ruins around it filled with the non-magical surviving on scraps and being preyed upon by the vampires."

"I might have given you the cliff notes last night and to elaborate, this place is the last remnant of our magical society, held together by Lord Voldemort, Professor Flitwick and the Ex-Auror Alastor Moody."

Voldemort, Harry reflected on the name in surprise. The so-called Dark Lord who was obsessed with killing him. And cooperating with a Hogwarts Professor and a Ministry Auror? "Doesn't add up," Harry said dryly.

"Does add up if they're desperate enough," Daphne replied. "Congratulations Harry, even the Dark Lord was brought to his knees in your desert."

"Huh," Harry mused. Prophecies came to his mind.

"Anyway, from what I was able to glean from Draco…"

"Draco Malfoy?" Harry interrupted in surprise.

"Yes…". "Anyway, Voldemort, who, by the way, likes to be called Tom now in a symbolic gesture of relinquishing his title of Dark Lord, had duelled Dumbledore in the desert before ending up in London where a final battle was raging between humans and goblins for control of Gringotts."

"Damn, would have loved to see that."

"Yep, bloodbaths are your thing after all."

Harry rolled his eyes. And held back from interrupting with questions about Dumbledore.

"So Tom's appearance turned the tide of the battle and the humans prevailed, and found plenty of bounty inside to last that for a lifetime. Tom, Moody and Flitwick quickly put some rules into place to ensure society survives and they transformed Gringotts into this incredible Elysium. Over time, with the many distortions, magical and non-magical kept finding their way to London which gave birth to this post-apocalyptic economy with the above-mentioned trio rebranded into the High Council."

Daphne took a pause and sipped her vodka.

"And that brings us to the day Hermione and I found London and a bizarre version of Draco Malfoy."

"Bizarre how?"

"He's… happy go lucky I guess? You have to see it to see it," she said sagely.

Harry hummed, trying to picture it.

"Anyway, so he gave us the whole rundown about the way things work and we decided to take up residence here while basking in comfort and luxury while looking out for clues to your whereabouts. Things were getting pretty dull until last night."

"I fail to see what this has to do with Hermione unless I missed a memory from last night," Harry quipped.

Daphne levelled him with an unamused glare. "Hermione," she stressed, "Was on an adventure of her own. The High Council has been quite keen on having us join their club and last night Hermione decided to accept. They took her deep underground to a cave there was a river roaring by, made of pure magic."

Harry froze and his attention was now focused.

Daphne grinned at the change in his expression.

"The High Council believe it leads to the heart of the curse and if they can navigate the river and reach the source they can reverse the curse or even time but it seems the power of the river is too overwhelming for them to try anything without significant risk."

Excitement flooded his every nerve. This was why he was drawn to London, he thought, his mind racing. He drew on his memory of the source when he was in limbo with his mother. The turbulent magic leading back to the centre of the planet, the source that then expanded into a multiverse beyond imagination.

"Harry?" Daphne's annoyed voice broke through his thought process."Mind sharing what's got you perked up?"

"They're partly correct," he said, containing his excitement.

"Back in our third year I think, I had taken to experimenting with runes deep in the forest with an obsession with deserts, catacombs and survival. The idea was deeply in resonance with my soul and it's all I ever thought about. It's where I first truly connected with the source. And when I returned there after my outburst at the ministry, it was transformed into this massive sand storm which was surrounded by a sort of red aura, roaring from one horizon to the other."

"And that's how to go to the Badlands and now there's something similar here and you're thinking it could lead you to Atlantis," Daphne summarised.

"What they call the river, is the engine that drives the curse. It's connected to the source and the source has a consciousness of its own searching for its own purpose…". "Same as every other being with consciousness. It's purpose that drives us and that's exactly what drives this curse.

"What I did in the ministry was use the source to manifest my desire and in return, the source resonated with my purpose and made it its own."

Daphne frowned, trying to understand him. "Soo, what were you thinking when you connected to the source," she asked quietly.

Harry laughed dryly, "I wanted to show them the true nature of magic. Magic that mattered. Magic that should be used with the respect it deserves. I wanted magic to judge who was worthy and who wasn't."

Daphne processed his words silently for a moment. "And now?" she asked.

"Judgment is done, it's time for a new world order… And in the old one, Atlantis was perhaps the first magical society that tapped into the source, and in its remains, we might find the answers to regaining control of the curse."

"And then what?" It didn't escape her attention that he'd left out what would happen to the curse after he gained control and pressed him on it. "Would you want to reverse it?"

"I'm no longer attached to the idea of exterminating the human race because they're morons," Harry answered wryly, getting to the root of her question. "I think it's safe to say I've evolved from that standpoint. Everything depends upon what we find there."

Daphne was relieved to hear him say it and was glad he had let go of his hatred. Then her mind froze and she mentally rewinded time.

She leaned forward, elbows resting on the table, placing her chin on her interlocked hands and looked at him with her eyes sparkling with mirth, fighting to keep the grin off her face. "What we find there?"

Harry paused and frowned, thinking over what did he mean by that. Daphne for company along the way meant Hermione would probably be part of that and by extension was that going to include the so-called High Council which included his prophesied mortal enemy? A powerful dark lord. Even a simpleton could have sensed chaos on the horizon.

He looked into Daphne's eyes and grinned. Chaos was very much in the spirit of the desert.

"Yep," he replied lightly. "And a reunion would be... interesting."

Folding her legs and arms, Daphne leaned back in her chair and looked at Harry with a calculative expression. He was being awfully adaptable to this new dynamic. Daphne had always envisioned what their relationship would have been like had Harry been more of an active participant in the past and now, the reality was raising the bar on her most optimistic expectations.

Every time she'd toss him a curveball, he'd throw one right back at her. She thought back to that pivotal moment at the bar when she challenged him to join her on the dance floor in the club and she fully expected him to turn her down, being the isolationist that he was. But instead, he had accepted with a cheeky grin which led to a sensual grind amidst a sexually charged mob of intoxicated bodies. She didn't remember who had initiated the snog and it didn't matter. She knew he wanted it and so did she.

The question in her mind was did it mean anything beyond wanting a good shag? Was she ready to let herself think beyond that considering what the world was and who he was to the world?

"Don't overthink it."

Harry's soft voice cut through her thoughts like butter and she blinked rapidly, losing her train of thought and she scowled.

Harry saw the indecision in her green and orange and felt the need to put her at ease. He understood what she was feeling. A part of him marvelled that he was even able to understand those emotions.

"This is new for me and it intrigues me. Down the road, my perception might change or even yours and the decisions we make either of us might not agree with. But, I have learnt to live in the moment, judge it for what it is and..." Harry grinned, "Have fun I guess."

Daphne took a moment to process his words and then chuckled. She pulled deeply on the joint and felt her body relax. He was right, she thought in amusement. There was a New World Order. Something had shifted. It was the same line of thought that made her dive into the deep end without fear at the club. She was glad the core of his thoughts aligned with her and in that moment of silence and unspoken agreement was acknowledged between them.

The sun was midway down towards the horizon and a hint of orange was beginning to colour the sky.

"You've matured, Harry," Daphne said with a laugh.

"Thanks," Harry said with a roll of his eye. "I think."

Daphne stood up and stretched her arms over her head and rotated her hips, stretching her muscles out of the lethargy that had developed.

"Ah, that's the stuff," Daphne moaned.

Harry just watched with amusement, feeling a little aroused. Her loosely tied robe left little to the imagination.

Then she shrugged out of her robe and let it drop to her feet.

Harry's nostrils flared and his breathing got heavier.

Daphne grinned unabashedly. "Do you mind giving me a massage? I feel like I have a lot of knots that need to be untied." That said, she walked back to the room with an extra sway in her hip relishing in his slack-jawed lust-fueled expression.

-x-x-x-x-x-