Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or the Avengers.

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Chapter 21

"I can't believe you're willingly up this early," Dahlia said shocked at her friends. Hermione seemed tired and kept on rubbing her eyes and blinking to stay awake while Fred and George seemed excited.

"Stay in bed a few more hours-" George said.

"Or wake up early and learn to fight?" Fred added. "What'd you think, George?"

"I know what I'm doing, Fred. What about you?"

"Same here, George".

Hermione gave a roll of the eyes and said, "mad, you're absolutely mad".

"Then why exactly are you up, Hermione?" Dahlia asked smiling. "It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Lady Ravenclaw offered to train you while Lord Gryffindor said he would train the twins when I'm doing my morning training with Akio would it?"

"Well…I…erm," Hermione stuttered and the boys laughed and she scowled, "this is an opportunity no sane person would pass up on and I was surprised any of your lessons are still on".

"They aren't, not really," Dahlia answered with a shrug. "My normal lessons were cancelled two days ago and they won't start up again until you leave. This is my last lesson with Akio but three days after the wedding, they'll start up again".

"How come he can't give you a break?" Fred asked.

"He's only stopping because of tradition," Dahlia answered and she saw that the three of them were curious about tradition so she answered. "When two people want to be together in the culture my father, brothers and sister were raised in, there are steps you have to take to be together. Hela and Falcon missed quite a few at first but they made it right when our family came back together. He asked my father and brothers' permission to court Hela, after that they are supposed to be followed by guards to make sure they don't get up to anything but that didn't happen. It did when they were seen by people off realm but here on Niflheim, everyone knows they have been together for years".

"How long do they usually court?" Hermione asked, intrigued by the society that Dahlia was now in.

"Honestly, it can be any time. Some people can court for a few weeks and then get married and I have heard stories of some who court for decades before getting married. With an extended lifespan, a few years don't mean much to them and Hela and Falcon were secretly courting a decade before dad found out. Now back to tradition, Hela and Falcon aren't supposed to be alone until the wedding and you'll see that today. Today, we'll have the guests arriving from all over, among them are fifteen royal families. Some of them would have started their journey here as soon as they received their invitations while others will only set off today, like Micah's family. Today, Hela and Falcon will sit in the throne room and receive guests and gifts for the marriage but they won't open any today. Everyone will get settled in and then we'll have a feast with everyone later tonight but then when midnight strikes, that's when everyone will be wedding mad. Starting from midnight, Hela isn't allowed to see any men, even our father and brothers. She'll wake up and with the ladies help she will go through her belongings. Every item of clothing will be burnt in the courtyard to represent the soon to be loss of her maidenhood and everything she wishes to keep will be boxed up and moved to the room she will share with Falcon. She'll be given two baths after she's done sorting out her things, one really warm and the other freezing, then she has to wear a thin but long-sleeved white dress for tomorrow and that will be burnt on the day of the wedding. Later in the evening, all those who are maids will leave while only those who are married or have been will remain".

"How come?" Hermione asked but then realised why when the twins had guessed and given her grins and even Dahlia was smiling with a hint of a blush and she went wide eyed. "Oh," she said as she figured out the married women would be teaching Hela about the wedding night.

"Yes, oh. On the day of the wedding, only women may see Hela before the ceremony and my family will see her as she arrives at the temple before the ceremony where my dad will give her away".

"So, it is a similar concept of the father giving the bride away?"

"Yes, the same basis. Dad is passing on responsibility and protection to Falcon just like the old traditions on Midgard. The ceremony is similar to that of the Viking era on Midgard but with a little magic involved. The day is spent celebrating obviously then Falcon and Hela leave to wherever they have decided to spend their first time as a married couple while the rest of the realm celebrates for another two days. The two days of celebration is supposed to bless the marriage and the couple with a long life of love and happiness".

"Don't forget they bless happiness in death on this realm," a voice outside of the four Gryffindors said as they were about to walk into the training room. They looked to see Micah not too far behind.

He smiled as they turned and Dahlia said, "I didn't forget, you just said it before me. You're a few minutes late".

"As are you," he said as he went to stand beside her.

"Well I brought guests, what's your excuse?"

The five of them walked in and while Dahlia and Micah stood on a line, Dahlia had to gesture to her friends as they didn't know. They copied the positions the two royals were stood in, straight with their hands behind their backs as Akio looked to them.

"Fifty push ups for Fred, George and Hermione. A hundred for Dahlia and Micah, then all of you start jogging around the room until I say otherwise. Go" Akio said.

Micah and Dahlia immediately dropped to the ground and began push ups while the others hesitated before they followed. They were much slower than Micha and Dahlia so they all finished at the same time and began to jog together, even though Micah and Dahlia had to push themselves harder as they knew they would be in trouble with Akio if they held back.

They ran for close to an hour when Lady Ravenclaw, Lord Gryffindor and Lady Salmira of the light elf defence division entered the room. Akio told them to stop and they stood back on the line, Dahlia and Akio breathing slowly while they others were clearly out of breath. They looked to Dahlia who glanced their way quickly and she whispered, "slow breaths".

They were silent for almost a minute as the four council members just stared at them before Akio said, "Hermione, you're with Lady Ravenclaw. Fred and George, Lord Gryffindor".

The three Gryffindors separated and went their ways.

Akio then said, "Lady Salmira will be assisting us today. All that I have taught you about archery, she will observe and improve it. She is the finest archer to ever exist and will change anything she thinks is necessary about your technique. Everyone has their own technique; she will teach you yours then we will see your improvement by the two of you firing at each other".

"I'm sorry, what?" Dahlia exclaimed.

"Excuse me?" Micah questioned at the same time.

"Don't worry," Lady Salmira said with a calming voice, "I have never missed a shot and if I believe you will be harmed, I will stop the arrow".

"Or you may be spending the day with Lady Saida if I disagree with intervention," Akio said as he gestured for them to gather the bows on the wall.

When they finished training a few hours later, the three visiting Gryffindors left happy while the two royals left aching after having hand to hand combat training with Akio after training with Lady Salmira. The three Gryffindors had not only learnt spells that were forbidden or forgotten on Midgard but were also given swords that became small daggers with their magic made on Niflheim. They weren't blessed so they couldn't harm the dead but they were gifts for their loyalty to Dahlia. They learnt the basics to use them as Lord Gryffindor made a valid point that because they didn't know wandless magic, they needed to learn to fight if they ever lost their wands and were in a position where any form of magic, even apparating, wasn't an option.

There were almost 300 guests invited that were coming to Niflheim. Among the invites, fifteen of them were sovereigns in their own right, then their partners and children, then other people who were in positions of power on worlds out there and of course, anyone who was of high importance to Hela and Falcon. That just meant their security was also coming but thankfully, they trusted Hela well enough that the security remained on board their ships and would remain monitoring the realm from above in fear there may be an attack from outside the wedding party. People like Tora and Kaeya would obviously be attending without guards but even they knew the dangers that surrounded the wedding. The first royal wedding of Niflheim history, they tried to keep the wedding a secret and only let the guests know but they knew it wouldn't remain hidden, especially when the guests began to arrive.

When the guests began to arrive, Dahlia had to be in the throne room with her family. Fred, George and Hermione came too but they remained to the side and observed as all the different beings from across the universe came to celebrate the union of Hela and Falcon. Dahlia was impressed when she saw them keep their calm when it came to species that didn't look too human like the tree form of the empress of Ethmiongia, or empress Teirrhi who Dahlia already had the pleasure of meeting on the Star Fortitude the same day she met Micah. She had come with her three children.

When all the guests had arrived, it had turned out that among the almost 300 guests, 53 of them were underage which meant mischief. The feast was great and everyone had fun but like Micah once told her, Dahlia noticed that for those people who were in politics, it was beginning to take a hold of most conversations. She was assured that this wouldn't happen on the day of the wedding as that would be all about Hela and Falcon but as Dahlia looked around, she saw others who looked her age who looked just as tired of hearing politics as she was. Thankfully, the feast didn't last too long as people were tired from their travels and Hela needed to talk to her council members one final time as she wouldn't see most of them until the wedding since they couldn't talk tomorrow unless it was of the upmost emergency.

The following day, Dahlia and her friends went travelling through Niflheim on Thestrals. Of course, Hermione wasn't too happy with the idea of flying but she was more excited to be seeing Niflheim than to allow her fear of flying to hold her back. They were out for hours and when they returned, Dahlia was happy to see the two guests she thought would have arrived before any other.

"Tora, Kaeya!" Dahlia said loudly in the palace hallway and she walked quickly towards them, her friends following.

Dahlia hugged them both, Kaeya first then Tora as Tora was holding a large metal container box which she put down to hug Dahlia. "Good to see you," Tora said then when they pulled away. "These your friends?"

"Yep. This is Fred, George and Hermione. Guys, this is Tora and Kaeya".

They waved hi and George asked, "you're the Asgardian that almost killed Thor?"

Tora smiled and said, "yes to the attempted murder of Thor and I'd rather forget about my origins when it comes to being an Asgardian".

"What took you so long to get here?" Dahlia questioned. "I thought you'd be arriving yesterday at the latest. I honestly thought you'd be arriving as soon as we called to tell you about the wedding".

"We were going to," Kaeya said.

Tora added, "we just had a few things to do first".

"Is that a wedding present?" Dahlia asked glancing at the box.

"Yes," Tora said but Dahlia was suspicious of the item as it was in a sealed secure metal box and when Dahlia questioned it, Tora stood slightly in front of it. "We should really get going and find Hela. I'm assuming she is in her room. I saw the fire of clothes outside so she's doing the cleansing".

"Yep," Dahlia said. "She'll be happy to see you. I think she was starting to get nervous that her best friend wasn't going to be at her wedding".

"Nah, as if I'd let that happen. I'd crash into the temple at the very last moment".

"Course you would," Dahlia said amused as she knew Tora honestly would.

Tora and Kaeya then left while Dahlia and her friends went exploring the castle more. As soon as the four Gryffindors were out of view, Kaeya said to her wife quietly, "she hasn't been told".

"Hela said she wouldn't tell her until she was sure it would work; she doesn't want to get her hopes up of removing the soul inside of her".

When they got to Hela's room, it was no surprise there were two guards stood outside, both female, and when they were let inside, they saw a few lady council members and servants attending to Hela. The queen in question was found in a large tub in the bathroom, the milky-coloured bath water with flower petals inside was steaming with hot water, so much so that parts of Hela's skin were red but she didn't seem really uncomfortable.

"There you are," Hela said smiling. "I almost thought you'd miss my wedding".

"You honestly thought we'd miss it after all I've done to get you two together?" Tora said and sat on the edge of the bath. "I am so glad I did not follow tradition during my wedding, I did not want to go through the cleansing".

"You couldn't anyway," Hela said with a teasing smile. "You two didn't wait for marriage to sleep together. The cleansing is to strip away all bad omens and to make sure the bride is as clean and pure as she should be. You two certainly didn't wait".

Tora reached into the water and splashed her and they laughed as Tora said, "you may be pure in that sense but we both know you're not entirely innocent".

Hela blushed while the ladies in the room smiled and didn't look at her in disappointment like she thought they might. It was then she noticed the large secure box and asked in anticipation, "is that what I think it is?" both Tora and Kaeya gave a nod. Hela said to the others in the room, "ladies, I need some privacy with Tora and Kaeya".

The few ladies of the council that were in the room, as well as the servants, curtsied and left but Baelen, the maidservant she had since being a young child, said, "you make sure you stay in there or we'll have to start again".

"I will, don't worry," Hela said smiling at the light elf who cared for her and she left.

Kaeya went to the box and began to type in all the security codes needed as she said, "you'd need a bomb to open this. Five security codes to bypass the locks, fingerprint recognition and blood needed to unlock the biometric system".

"It took time," Tora said. "I had to call in almost every favour I am owed, spoke to all the thieves I know, collectors, historians, and steal information from people who have been searching for the book of Akhmanrath for centuries. That cut down on my search time so I didn't have to do my own research. We finally found it in a temple on a world galaxies away called Chetera. The world seemed abandoned until we found the book then we were attacked by creatures I have never seen before. They wanted to kill us but we got back to the ship in time".

"You're both okay though?" Hela asked concerned.

"Of course," Tora smirked. "We found the book of Akhmanrath, a book people have been searching for as long as the legend has existed and we've only been after it for three months".

Kaeya then said, "if you haven't noticed, it has boosted her ego".

"Really? I hadn't noticed," Hela said sarcastically.

"Here it is," Kaeya said as she lifted the book.

Hela didn't know what to expect but it wasn't this, the cover of the book was a brown leather-like texture but she could tell it was skin that was aged. The pages themselves weren't really pages but bones that had been shaped and thinned down before being bound together and the writing was engraved into the bone.

"I know this writing," Hela said looking at the familiar symbols.

"There's more to it," Tora said then began to turn the pages slowly. "Some of the writing has been worn down, scrapped off on purpose but I know this".

She stopped on a page and Hela said, "high ancient Asgardian. No one speaks this language anymore, you only see it in the oldest and most ancient of ruins…that's not all, ancient elvish, ancient Vanir…these are all ancient languages of the nine realms".

Kaeya said, "I asked Tora this but is it possible this Akmanrath was from the nine realms? It would explain how the book knows about souls, who better than someone from the realms they know souls exist and have an afterlife?"

"It's possible. The legends only spoke of a powerful man who knew souls like no other and the book. Many people don't even believe he or the book existed but this is proof he did. You need to give this to my father. He's still the only person that knows that I asked you to look for this and he spent years studying ancient languages. He should be able to translate some of this".

"We'll give it to him," Tora said and closed the book so Kaeya could put it away. "How are you doing on the Horcrux collection front?"

"We have the diary Dahlia destroyed in her second year; it was still used as a vessel which we may need. We have a locket he used that we thought was hidden in a cave surrounded by Inferni but a dead body led Dahlia to where it truly was. An old follower of Voldemort had betrayed him and gave his life for the locket and made his house elf promise to destroy it. The elf tried but couldn't and thankfully Dahlia knew the elf so we got it from him. Dahlia and I then went to his old family home and found his family ring hidden that is a Horcrux and ran into Dumbledore while we were there".

"Great," Tora said with a roll of the eyes. "What did the old man want now?"

"The ring. He doesn't seem to be taking my warnings seriously about what will happen to him if he keeps on interfering in matters that don't concern him. The only reason he lives is because of Dahlia and if it wasn't for Voldemort fearing him, I would have taken his wand that I created".

"You created his wand?" Kaeya asked shocked. "Why?"

"It wasn't personal in that way," Tora said. "She didn't particularly create it for him. Centuries ago, even before I was thrown out of Asgard, she created a wand, stone and cloak to teach the magical people of Midgard a lesson when it comes to messing with death. There's a whole story behind it but basically, the wand is the most powerful and tempts people who want to be powerful but if you fall into temptation, you eventually die and it seems to be always linked with the wand, mostly people killing people who want it. The stone links in with the echoes of people left behind so they can see their loved ones but they go mad after so long. The cloak is a shield to keep you hidden and that was gifted as a gift unlike the others. No wonder Voldemort is scared of Dumbledore if he has the wand you and Falcon created".

"Would you like the hear the irony of it all?" Hela said the furthest from being happy. "The ring the Horcrux is in, the stone of the ring, is the resurrection stone we created".

Wide eyed, Tora opened and closed her mouth for a moment before she said, "I'm beginning to think if Dahlia wasn't hurt in her first year at Hogwarts, you still would have found her eventually".

"One would hope. I knew I should have kept a closer eye on them, Dumbledore has the wand, Voldemort used the stone and the cloak was James. Potter's who lent it to Dumbledore who then gave it to Dahlia in her first year. If I had kept a closer eye on them instead of just letting them run loose amongst the world, this war could have been over and Dahlia would have grown up here".

"There's no point getting hung up on the past when you can't change it," Kaeya said.

"She's right," Tora said, "and I've spoken about this with you before numerous times. Everyone makes mistakes in their past and you cannot change it. You are doing what you can now and just think what would have happened to Dahlia if you all hadn't found her when you did. She would be Dumbledore's puppet. You just focus on getting married tomorrow. The war and getting the other Horcruxes can come after that".

"We have Lady Ravenclaw's diadem as well. He stored a piece of his soul in there," Hela said. "Helena Ravenclaw remembered he was interested in it when he was younger, she told him where it was, believing he would destroy it. He obviously didn't and she saw him with it at Hogwarts once. She didn't know what he did, just that she could sense dark magic surrounding it. She told her mother who then told me she believed it to be a Horcrux and thankfully it's the school holidays so no one was at the school when went to get it. We know Dahlia is one and we know the snake that's always with him is one so we can't get that one until last".

"So, one more," Tora said almost excited. "Just one more than its all over. You just have to find one more and destroy them and get it out of Dahlia and then it's just a matter of Dahlia killing him. He'll be so weak with the Horcruxes destroyed, there will barely be a fight. How close are you to finding the last one?"

"He likes to use things that mean something to him, something sentimental, and then put them in sentimental places like the school and his family home and the cave where he destroyed two children's minds when he was a child. We created a list of all the places that hold meaning to him but haven't been able to find anything. Dahlia is still using her magic to track them but it's exhausting her being so close to so many Horcruxes. She did say though that the diary wasn't in a sentimental place but in the possession of Lucius Malfoy who was told to protect it. It was only when the Ministry began to get suspicious of him and his manor that he got rid of it. I've had people searching properties of people in his inner circle and places they would likely hide something. Until Dahlia sees something, it's all we have".

"Well until then, forget about the war and everything else. You're getting married in less than 24 hours, you should be thinking about the wedding," Kaeya said.

"Night," Tora said grinning.

"Tora," Hela tried to say sternly but couldn't help but smile.

"Come on, Hela. You and Falcon have lasted longer than I thought you would. I thought after you confessed your feelings, you would be ripping each other's clothes off".

"Tora!" Hela exclaimed then looked to Kaeya. "Can you believe her?"

Tora and Kaeya laughed then Kaeya said, "actually, I thought it would happen after you started to share a bed".

"See," Tora said happily. "Now we need to have a very serious talk about tomorrow night".

"No, we don't," Hela said and put her fingers in her ears.

"Come on," Tora said and moved Hela's hand. "You know that after the cleansing married women tell you what to expect and you know they always make it sound a hundred times worse than it actually is. At least if you hear it from me first, I can tell you how amazing it can be".

"I already hear it from you both all the time since you married".

"Which means we are great at giving advice on it. Now tomorrow…"

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