Holly Lilliana Potter was not pleased.
She'd only wanted to check in on the Dursleys. She didn't love them or even like them, they were not pack but they were her blood. Her Aunt the only remaining link to her mother. Holly could not leave them vulnerable. For her own sake if nothing else. And Dudley had been getting better.
So when she had finished seeing to the bodies of her (studentsfriendsonlychildren) classmates she staggered out of Hogwarts without a word. She knew a good chunk of the surviving Death Eaters had run, fleeing the site of the battle.
While there was no love lost between herself and the elder Dursleys, Dudley had been improving slowly. For the sake of him, for the glimmer of hope that they could be something like acknowledged family, maybe even friends of a sort, Holly would at least warn them. They needed to get out of the country with the Death Eaters running around looking for any link to herself to use as revenge. She would not sink to their level, nor would she leave them to face the tortures Death Eaters would visit upon them.
Even if being near the Dursleys made her sick. Being a Guide, and therefore able to sense how much they had hated her when she was small, how much they feared her, how unnatural they viewed her to be…Batair, the Spirit Guide of her Sentinel who had followed her for as long as she could remember, brushed against her legs, leaning his weight into her and providing comfort. She buried her hand into his thick but bedraggled fur- (it was a sign wherever her Sentinel was he was not in good health)- scratching at his ears absently.
The Dursleys were the reason Holly had such good Occlumency shields. She'd had to learn block them out as much as she could. It was an instinctive response. One she no longer thought about- the moment any one of the relatives got within her natural sensing range, her shields went up. That she was an Omega Guide had only made it worse. Dudley and Vernon were both Alphas, and they had liked to trigger instinctive responses in her when she was a cub. It had lead to some very strong trust issues when it came to other Alphas which had intensified with Dumbledore. At least Snape had been a Beta, same as her Aunt. It would have been hell on her if he'd been able to use Command on her.
(It was something she noticed during the last days of training her classmates. Those who were just a bit thinner, those with an edge of wary caution at enclosed spaces and those who looked at adults as if waiting for the moment they settled into patterns they knew…
Well, you could always tell which ones had good shields out of necessity. The main reason why Severus Snape's Occlumency was better than Dumbledore's.)
It was a blessing Holly had grown into such a powerful Omega. Most Alphas were not strong enough to use Command on her, even when they wanted to, and her scent- interpreted differently by everyone she came across- tended to intimidate other Alphas. Vernon and Dudley had quickly lost their ability to use Command on her as she'd grown. Her instinctive 'tuning out' of the Dursleys had also gotten better.
Which was most of the reason Holly didn't pick up on the plan until it was too late. Batair had been pacing, unseen to the Dursleys, but he had always done so when in this house or close to the family, so it was not an odd reaction. The rest of the reason being the aftermath of ending a war. She'd run off before her wounds had been looked at, taken off before the after effects of being on the run for months, going straight into a literal warzone, taking a killing curse to the chest and coming back to life had kicked in. On top of the magical exhaustion that came with that package deal? She was not at her best.
She knew as soon as she sat still, as soon as she let the wizarding world get ahold of her she'd be stuck. Stuck cleaning up the mess, being the face of the wizarding world, the face and being herded into whatever job they thought suited her best. Maybe that would be an Auror, perhaps an Unspeakable, even a Ministry worker. And maybe, the wizarding world would remember she was a Guide and try to force her into the role of subservient puppet and baby maker to continue the Lines she had inherited now that they didn't need a good little soldier. Especially seeing as she was an Omega Guide on top of everything else. Holly sneered.
(On the run, she, Hermione and Ron entertained the idea that they would be in charge. After all, Voldemort overthrew the government. He was the Ministry and if they overthrew him, wouldn't that mean that they would be in charge? Regardless, they were already tired by then and none of them wanted what would come with that much power. That much responsibility.)
Holly wasn't planning on sitting still long enough to find out. She was going to round up the runaway Death Eaters, take care of that and then she was getting out of England. She didn't know where she was going to go, but away from Britain was appealing.
But, before that, and for her own peace of mind, she at least had to warn the Dursleys to run.
Which had lead her to this.
Drip, drip, drip.
She leveled a hazy glare at the tube that was taking her blood, reminding herself that all of those samples and vials needed to be destroyed when she left. Basilisk venom and phoenix tears was not a good combination to leave in muggles hands, never mind her magical blood or what could happen if a magical came across it at any point at all.
A vial of the Woman-Who-Conquers' blood, forcibly taken? She shuddered to even think about it.
Batair was furious and snarling, but faded. She'd never seen him like that before, but considering how dimmed her Guide and Omega senses were, she was certain that had something to do with the IV that was pumping drugs into her. They weren't working like they should, she knew, as she should be completely cut off from her senses and Spirit Guide rather than the dimmed awareness she had.
Holly wasn't sure if that had something to do with what the Basilisk Incident had added to her blood, or if her magic was reacting to it, or both. Regardless, she was thankful she could at least see Batair even if he was unable to fully manifest or interact with anything. He was a comfort as he had always been to her. It was playing havoc with her inner calm that her senses were so dull, on top of her ability as a Guide to pick up on emotions. It felt like Sense-Death and she hated it.
Next time she saw Vernon Dursley she was going to punch him in the face. As hard as she was physically able and- considering everything that she dealt with in these past years- her fist would have some force behind it. It was also a possibility that she would pull out her wand for some hexes instead.
Actually, it would absolutely be both.
She'd sat down for dinner with the family absolutely exhausted and on her very last legs. Truthfully, she wasn't comfortable doing so, but there was a hesitant kindness to Dudley and a timid hopefulness on his face. The way he looked at his parents was...surprising. But Holly was glad that Dudley had a chance to better himself. He'd even growled at his father when Vernon had attempted to Command her, despite knowing it wouldn't work anymore.
It had taken years and almost dying for him to understand the difference in the way his parents treated her compared to other families. She managed to muster up some pride in her cousin. He was growing up and it looked like he was already defying his parents in their continued hatred of her.
She'd eaten the food, and it turned out that whale of a bastard drugged her. She had no idea with what, considering it had actually worked, but she was furious. She could remember Batair snarling as she went down, right before everything went black, as she'd stepped out of the house leaving her Aunt and cousin behind while Vernon escorted her out. She'd woken up before she was meant to, finding herself bound and gagged in the back of a van.
It was so cliche and she hated it. Especially since Thug One had knocked her out via slamming her head into the van floor.
And here she was. Handed off like trash to some sort of Muggle Nazi organization without a second look or even the slightest bit of hesitation. Even considering her shields had been up, she can't believe she missed this. She had been in worse shape than she thought if this had been the results.
The only saving grace seemed to be that Vernon- and she knew it was that bloated warthog-faced beached whale of a buffon- while he had handed her over to the highest bidder, had told those that captured her she was a mutant freak.
From what her casual and very limited use of Legilimency could gather these men had no idea she was a witch. She cursed her magical exhaustion. Legilimency was a magic consuming art, and while Holly was a very powerful witch she had her limits and had to be choosy about whose mind she took a peek in. She'd chosen the head Doctor's mind of course, and learned all about who and how they had 'acquired' her, what they thought she was, what the drugs should have done, and who had sold her out.
All she had wanted to do was warn them.
And now she was a prisoner of some Neo-Nazi group who wanted to pull her apart, see how she ticked, and then put her back together for their own use. They were so excited to have a Omega Guide in their midst- it was disgusting.
Batair prowled the edges of the room, almost rabid in appearance but it was obvious by the lack of reaction that no one could see him.
Which brought her to the reason she hadn't escaped. She was magically exhausted to a dangerous degree, but her magic, weak as it was for the moment, was acting up. It was why she'd taken a chance with the Legilimency probes in the first place. It urged her to search, surged and twisted under her skin, pulsing with her heartbeat and almost chanting ImportantImportantImportantPAYATTENTION under her skin.
(A part of her feared exactly why her magic was acting up. If it was solely to her Guide abilities, or if defying death had more consequences then she realized.)
On top of that, despite the drugs they had used to dim and repress her Guide abilities, and Omega senses, they were still active enough for her to know something in the building was pulling at her. Not painfully, but noticeable enough that she could pick out which direction and that the source wasn't very far away. And the fact that Batair kept looking at the door of the room like he wanted to go somewhere specific- and not just escape- but refused to leave her by herself had her curious.
That didn't usually happen. The three facts combined meant Holly was going to find the source of it all before she busted her way out.
She closed her eyes and breathed through the pain with practiced feigned ease.
Still- she'd gotten some good news from the Head Doc, though he hadn't been aware of sharing it with her via mind reading. It appeared their Boss was visiting the building. It wasn't for her, but to see to something the man referred to as 'The Asset' located deeper underground then herself.
Potential ally for escaping?
The Doctor was absolutely certain that 'Mr. Pierce' would like to see his results. He planned to use what he had found on herself and the energy field she was naturally generating- her magic- to catapult his way up the social ladder. She wasn't going to argue with the Doc, as it would let her get into the mind of someone higher up on the food chain who had no idea he had to be wary of meeting her eyes.
(Let no one ever say Holly Potter didn't know how to take advantage of a situation. That war had taught her nothing.)
Holly wanted to be sick.
Pierce was a despicable human being. She stared him in the eye, pulling more and more secrets from the Beta without notice, and wanted him dead. She wasn't one to resort to murder but this…
What he had done. What he was planning to do….twenty million people killed, because they would stand up to him? Because they were smart enough, determined enough to be a threat to his 'new world order?'
Her hands shook. This man knew of magic. He didn't recognize her, but knew of her. He thought her to be what Vernon had told them, thought her to be a mutant with useful abilities. He had plans brewing in his head for herself, but she ignored those.
How many agents had he hidden away in the enclaves? What had he done in the name of his 'perfect world?'
Holly wasn't sure. She couldn't sort through everything, and her magic urged her to look deeper, to search for something specific.
So she dug. She was so very careful as she dug further and further into this cesspit of a mind, hunting for the thoughts her magic urged her to find.
And then she goes still. Her mind latches onto what has her magic screeching under her skin. She shudders. Let Pierce think it is in fear and not with rage.
The Asset is a man.
A good man, a man this creature had twisted and tortured until he no longer knew his own name. Until he no longer thought himself a man.
James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes.
A Sergeant in the Howling Commandos. One of the few groups of soldiers that were informed of magic and worked with witches and wizards.
Only, that wasn't what the man is called anymore.
The Winter Soldier.
She pulls harder at this festering pit of thought, tugging and searching and praying this is it even though she knows it's not-
And then she finds them, deep in this scum's mind.
The words. Russian words, words she can pull the meanings of from his very mind.
Activation codes. Shutdown words.
Желание (longing), ржaвый (rusted), Семнадцать (seventeen), Рассвет (daybreak), Печь (furnace), Девять (nine), добросердечный (benign), возвращение на родину (homecoming), один (one), грузовой вагон (freight car).
She heaves, eyes bright with hatred and intent as she stares Alexander Pierce in the eyes. She can see Batair- already large, coming up to her lower ribs- snarling in a way he never has, crouched in front of her defensively and his fur bristling and making him look twice his already intimidating size. He snaps and lunges at this man who cannot see him and it has Holly's hackles up even more.
Holly Potter had been a kind child, even behind the instincts and lifestyle of a survivor. War had taught her rage, taught her hardness, taught her when someone was beyond saving.
Alexander Pierce was one such being. He was a man who truly believed in what he did. Believed that twenty million lives of those who could stop him were expendable. He treated his people like chess pieces, saw the world as his own to shape and mold and change for the 'greater good.' He thought himself the king on a chess board. Would not ever stop, because he believed he could make the world better by doing what he was doing.
He could believe what he liked. A king was the weakest piece on the board, and Holly was a queen. Pierce didn't know it yet, but he had a rogue of the strongest piece in his game behind his lines, in reach of his own queen- in reach of James.
Her 'saving people' thing was still alive and well for those that deserved it, but she had a desire for justice and vengeance as well and no one was leaving this place alive save for her and the Asset. Holly would not leave Bucky Barnes behind, to suffer another day at the hands of this filth.
Best of all- Pierce had given her the words that would allow Holly to get Bucky to cooperate with her- to prevent another from taking him again.
She hated to use the words on him, but until she got him somewhere she could get help, she'd need to ensure he would follow her and help. That he would not turn against her, or listen to another Hydra agent for their flight from this place. She couldn't save him or help him if she was dead or if he fought her every step of the way. She'd have tried, but thankfully she wouldn't have to resort to knocking him out and toting him behind her.
She had her goal now, she just had to wait until this man left the room. She'd deal with him soon enough, but in her state she couldn't risk him seeing her as a threat yet, and especially couldn't risk that he would call in Bucky on her, or recognize her identity or that she had magic.
Peeling back her lips to showcase her teeth, she snarled, low and inhuman, at the man from her place strapped to the bed. He smirked at her assumed helplessness, and quick as a Seeker, she struck, invading his thoughts as easy as breathing. Connected to his mind via Legilimency as she was, she could see how he thought she would be fun to break. How she reminded him of what his predecessor said The Asset had been like before they broke him-
(Holly was going to kill this man. He was worse than Voldemort.)
She spit at his feet.
The backhand was worth it as a muscle spasmed in his jaw. Batair lunged for his throat and missed, fading through him, but she lifted her head to meet his eyes, not allowing a single change on her face beyond the involuntary reddening of her cheek. If he'd been closer she'd have spat on him. She held her head high, staring him down even after he scoffed dismissively and turned to leave. She could sense her defiance made him uneasy- the look in her eyes- though he could not place why.
He was arrogant though. Confident in his victory. He overestimated his power and his ability to overcome her. Placed too much value on her status as a Guide and an Omega both. As if it made her less.
In the dark, a smile curves her bloody lips.
Holly held herself still, keeping her breathing even and slow in false sleep, her senses stretched as far as she could manage in her state. Her magic was used to strain and responded well considering the circumstances.
She was patient. She made no sudden movements, kept her heartbeat at a steady pace and her eyes closed. She waited. She knew they were thawing the Soldier out now, that it would take a while before he was in working order. She pulled their plan from Pierce's mind before he left. They had an assignment for him.
Such a pity, as it seems that Bucky would never make it to that assignment. She'd be interrupting. It would be a tragedy, of course, that no one would make it out of the building. That an unexpected malfunction would cause an explosion big enough to kill everyone inside. Their Asset would be lost. A major blow to HYDRA's continued operations.
She'd have to make sure there were no other prisoners like herself and Bucky before hand of course, but that would be a simple matter with a creative bit of magic.
She was thankful in this case that she was so used to doing powerful acts of magic without a wand and with little to no power left. Her magic was dense on top of everything else, having adapted to require a fraction of the power others did. Being the sole magical anchor to blood wards- no matter how weak- had been a deadly dance between draining too much and working her 'magic muscles' so to speak until her magic had adapted to ensure its host's survival.
(Especially considering the amount of healing that was required for her to survive her childhood in as good as health as she had been.)
It allowed her to reach out, still faking sleep, and short out any technology in the room when the time came. She opened her eyes, sitting up and pulling the tubes and needles free. A quick twist of magic and fire bloomed, burning her blood and the computers holding the data collected from it into ash. She knew from the Doctor's mind that he had not backed the data up like he should have- he'd been worried someone would 'steal' his work if he did so, and now it would work to her advantage as there were no other records beyond what was here in this room, and what the Doctor had handwritten. Her blood samples were much the same, all stored in this room, and within easy range of her fire.
She'd take care of the handwritten things when she had Bucky.
In the meantime, she had a prisoner of war to liberate.
Holly layered a subtle bit of magic over herself, making whoever looked her way see someone they thought should be where she was. It was a variant of notice-me-not, one that Ginny had developed with the help of Fred and George. She couldn't help the smirk that came as she met the eyes of a soldier clad in black. He nodded in acknowledgement before she stepped past him. Bless the Weasleys in all their clever and brilliant glory.
So far her plan was working surprisingly well. She must be on the upswing of the infamous Potter Luck. Although that might change, at least she started out on a high note.
She strode with purpose through the halls, following mental map she had taken out of Pierce's head, alongside the subtle tug on her magic and Guide instincts. Batair stalked through the halls ahead of her, leading without hesitation, and still invisible to those around her as the drugs were still in her system. (Though she'd have hidden the Grim Spirit in this case even without the drugs in her system.) She could hear the men cleaning the Soldier up as he went through the last stages of 'thawing'.
She moved without hesitation to the door, confident in her magic holding (half of magic was belief after all, and Holly knew her magic would work) even in the face of so many.
Besides- in this particular case she knew exactly who she wanted everyone in that room to see, exactly who she needed to appear as to be obeyed without question. The only one who would see her as she actually was would be Bucky.
She opened the door, and as far as everyone in the room apart from Bucky was concerned, Alexander Pierce walked in. Her magic even ensured she carried a Beta scent to all but Bucky. She knew the man wouldn't be here, not yet, that he liked to taunt the Soldier when he was fully thawed and aware, and so he was in his own rooms, unaware of her impersonation of his person. The lack of cameras in his room, and his penchant for using the 'secret' passageways through the base to remain off the cameras as much as possible was a boon.
No one would question Pierce suddenly appearing on screen form the angle she knew a passageway opened, stepping into view on the camera. She knew he used the passageways to enter and leave his room as well, so that no one 'knew' where he was staying just in case.
Holly felt the vicious amusement well in her chest. He'd handed her everything she needed to make her magic convey him when he stared her down in an attempt to intimidate her.
She stepped up to Barnes, the scientists and doctors moving aside as she did so. He tracked her with alert blue eyes. She leaned down to his ear, much as Pierce liked to do, whispering softly as she provided the trigger words to him. She ignored the heavy scent of ice and cold and chemicals that muffled his core scent so intensely Holly could not place it. The only thing clear to her Omega senses was the fact that Bucky Barnes was an Alpha.
Sure enough, the Soldier straightened, icy eyes sharp and focused on her person as he provided the correct response-
-ready to comply.
She smiled to herself, even as fury twisted her expression into more of a barring of teeth than a show of amusement. Making sure not to touch him, she leaned closer, keeping her lips close to his ear, whispering to him while ensuring no one in the room could hear.
"Hydra is compromised, soldat. From this point forward no other handler may use your trigger words apart from myself, until I provide you verbal and willing permission to respond again alongside the activation phrase: 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good'. You will treat any use of these words without my permission as an attempt of an enemy to gain use of the Asset. This includes the man known as Alexander Pierce, as he is compromised."
Holly paused, watching as something flickered in the man's eyes.
"I am to be the only Handler acknowledged by the Asset until such time as I provide willing and verbal permission along with the pass phrase 'Mischief Managed'. If at any point I provide you permission without the use of those phrases, you are not to acknowledge the permission. You will restrain myself and retreat to a safehouse. Acknowledge, soldat."
Holly inwardly grimaced at the monotone response, but she sharply inclined her head. "Suit up soldat, we have a mission."
He stood and the doctors and scientists allowed it, unaware that Holly had just taken their queen off the board. She would bring him to help, but she would not make him go anywhere unarmed. She would not take his weapons, his protection from him. She watched silently as he moved with a mechanical precision, eyes constantly scanning the room of 'compromised' agents on his way to his gear.
She turned away as he began to strip without care for modesty, only for the order she had provided.
"Leave us," she commanded the room at large. "This mission briefing is classified."
The doctors and scientists responded as she knew they would- a 'Hail Hydra' and instant compliance. Her lips pulled upwards, as the predator that had already cornered unknowing prey. She remained turned towards the door until the Soldier approached her side, staying slightly behind and to the side of her. She turned to face him, meeting the blank ice of his eyes and providing the 'mission briefing'.
"We will be leaving this base," she explains, meeting and holding his stare head on in a way she knew even Pierce could not do. "I will be enacting a 'No Survivors' protocol myself, soldat. Should you come across any Hydra agent that has touched you in a way that exceeded mission parameters, or participated in your training, in use of the Chair, you have permission to do as you please. You need not participate if you do not wish it, but regardless of your hand or mine, there will be no survivors. Do you understand?"
Something behind those glacial eyes flickered as he looked down at her. Holly held his eyes another moment before she turned away. She refused to order him to fight with her, to kill as he had been commanded so often. She would not abuse the words that had given her command over a person. She would allow him what choice she could, provide him the option. If he found it therapeutic to help her then he could. If he did not want to kill another soul she would never make him.
Her goal was simply to get him somewhere he could get help.
Luckily, she knew exactly where to find a highly capable healer with guaranteed confidentiality and quality service.