Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
AN-1: College is a bitch. 10 hours a day are going to it directly, while sleep takes about 7. I am slowly settling into a new routine, and an abundance of time is only found on weekends. Updates might suffer for the next month too as I find a rhythm, or they may not.
AN-2: I have a P*T*R*N, where you can read the NEXT THREE CHAPTERS right now, use the link on my profile!
AN-3: A very big thanks to LordLexx and Rezurex for the edits, as well as an extra one for being such awesome betas!
AN-4: A shoutout to my Celestial Level Patrons Gerald, Known ART, Russel M, Potterfan, Roy Wood, Michael Witkowski, Alex, Juan Hernandez, Joshua and Chris Vance and, Aiden Jones, Pardeep, Alex, Dapo Alibi, I am Lord Dems, Lord Benzy,
Sam Guardado Escalante, Matty, Brayden Sheen.
A shoutout to my Presence level patron as well, the awesome Arman Darklich, Florian Muller, Harjit Singh, Mrmeme101 and Russell Taylor, Jkat, Nashawn Bryant, Suhayb Hussain. You guys all rock!
As the darkness of the floo disappeared in an emerald flash of fire, Harry and Persephone stepped out into a large hall, their robes automatically cleaning themselves of the ash. Blinking for a moment to get their vision right, both of them looked up at the same time as a loud, Tracey squeal came from their right, and a pair of arms wrapped tightly around them both.
"Yes!" she laughed, and Harry could hear the smile on her face, "You are both here, I told Daphne she was worrying for nothing!"
"Daphne was worrying?" Persephone asked, looking at the other girl, "About what?"
"About how you didn't send me or Tracey a single letter confirming that Lord Black had given the permission for today," she said back flatly, walking over and taking a long look at them, "You look…different."
"Because these clothes are super-nice than what we had before?" he asked, disengaging from Tracey's hug and raising his hand palm up towards Daphne, "Or because we don't think that we are about to get a cutting curse to our back right now?"
"Both I think," she answered, placing her hand in his softly, "I hope you have not forgotten all that I taught you in the castle."
"Not at all, Heiress Greengrass," he returned, lowering his head a little to kiss the air above her knuckles, a sign of respect for her as an Heiress, but not signifying intimacy or the intent for it between them, "By the way, according to Grandfather, Persephone is younger than me."
"I don't know which is the bigger news, " a man said from their left, and Harry got his first look at Artemis Greengrass as he entered the room, dressed in dark blue robes with his hands behind his back, "That you are the Heir of your house or that you are familiar enough Arcturus Black to call him Grandfather. House Greengrass welcomes you to our home Heir Potter, Heiress Potter."
"We are honored to accept your welcome, Lord Greengrass," he said back, lowering Daphne's hand before bowing a little in the direction of the said Lord, "You have a wonderful home."
"Thank you for the praise Heir Potter," Artemis nodded pleasantly, before his eyes slid over to Persephone—who had finally disengaged from Tracey and was now standing besides him, "My, My, It seems Skeeter didn't lie for once in her life, you both do take after one of your parents more heavily than the other."
"Thank you for the comparison," Persephone replied unsurely as she curtsied, something which had taken her an awful lot of time to learn. Standing up straight as Artemis nodded at her, she put her hand in the robe's pocket and pulled out an envelope, "Cassiopeia Black has sent a letter for you Lord Greengrass, she also said that you were to read it only when you were sure that you are alone."
"The surprises keep piling up on each other," he raised an eyebrow as the envelope disappeared from Persephone's hands, "Daphne, you can take your friends to the grounds or to your room, Milo will call you once the lunch is ready."
"Are you sure about this?"
"As sure as I can be," Neville nodded, looking down at the heavy tome resting between him and Granger, "On Halloween night, I saw Professor Snape escape into the antechamber instead of following Dumbledore. And you must have seen him limping for the next two or three days. You also saw that shadow in the forest the night of our detention, but I still don't know who or what wants the stone. Firenze was saying something, but I lost all those words due to the concussion I had."
"The centaur? barmy creatures," Ron shook his head from his left as his eyes moved over the pictures of the Philosopher's stone, "But father always says if one speaks to a wizard about something, it should never be disregarded."
"And what was this final clue?" she asked, turning from Ron's oddly serious face to Neville, "That someone wants the stone for unlimited gold?"
"Nah," Ron shook his head, turning the pages of the book to point at the picture of an Unicorn, "Unicorn blood is a powerful healing item when given freely, but it does the work even when it is taken by force. However, it is not permanent, so Snape isn't after gold, he is after immortality."
"That is surprisingly intelligent and logical," Granger whispered, and Neville too blinked in surprise. It wasn't that Ron wasn't intelligent or logical, being the prodigy at Chess that he was…but still, hearing something from Weasley's mouth that was not Chudley Cannons and roast potatoes was a first.
Merlin's balls, why the hell had he not thought of putting up a silencing charm while talking with the twins? If only he would have had the foresight to do so, then neither would have Ron heard that talk and ambushed him this morning about the Philosopher's Stone, nor would have that resulted in Granger hearing about it sitting down with them.
"Ugh, perks of having a Master Magizoologist for a brother," he rolled his eyes, "so, who is excited for Christmas tomorrow? My mom will be sending a cake to me and the twins, along with a big warm sweater."
"I don't know how my parents will send me anything," Granger bit her lip, turning the pages back to the section on the Flamels, "I owled her the instructions, but what if no one opens the entrance for her?"
"Someone or the other will," Neville said, standing up and picking a book on Transfiguration from the rack behind them, "But I still don't understand why Snape wants the Philosopher's Stone. In the first class, he clearly boasted about how he knew potions to stopper death."
"Well," she slowly said as she closed the book and looked at him, "Maybe the Stone is a required ingredient in such potions? Besides, Professor Snape is a professor here, he isn't going to steal something. And even in the case that he wanted to, you think it would be that easy to do it right under the nose of Headmaster Dumbledore and all the other teachers?"
"That's true," Ron nodded, yawning widely as he brushed some gravy off his tie, "Mum always said he is the strongest wizard since Merlin. Do you know he fought off Grindelwald and his three generals at the same time, and defeated them alone! Each of them was a bloody army killer during the Blood War."
"Grandmother says that is hogwash though," Neville pointed out as he sat down, dipping his quill in the ink and beginning his assignment, "Charlus Potter, Arcturus Black and some Russian wizard were also there. Dumbledore took on Grindelwald, while the other three took on his generals."
"Potter?!" Granger gasped, leaning forwards with her brown eyes blown wide, "Is he related to Harry and Persephone Potter?"
"Their Grandfather," Ron muttered darkly, "He was a dark wizard too, and killed thousands in the war right alongside the Scourge of Brittany. And then had James bloody Potter with a witch from the House of Black. I still don't get why you went to those two gits with all this Neville, they are probably helping Snape with it. My father told me once that Snape was friends with Lily Potter while they were in Hogwarts."
"Makes sense," Neville nodded, "Katie told me about how he was absolutely savage with the Gryffindors after Persephone was attacked by the second year. And as to why I went to them first, I wished to…extend a hand of friendship to them, and like it or not, but they are the most talented students in our year behind me."
"So what is living with the scary, the dark, the dangerous Scourge of Brittany like?"
"Freeing, most of all," he answered, nibbling upon the cookie some house-elf had brought for them, "We are not bullied, scared, taunted by every second person like it has always been, and Arcturus has been teaching us different sorts of magic over the Holidays."
"So are there really dead babies strung up on the walls of his castle?"
"Merlin," Persephone muttered, covering her face with her hands as she tried to stop her laughter, "Dammit Daphne, your sister is too adorable."
"I agree," Tracey cheerfully nodded, pulling the little girl into her lap and nuzzling her hair as Astoria squealed, "If it weren't for the fact that it is impossible, I would have guessed Astoria to have the Erynias Potion in her veins instead of blood."
"She is too loud," Daphne rolled her eyes, closing the door behind her and sitting down by Harry, "I can barely study during the day when she is out of her pen. I shudder to think what will happen next year when this hellion comes to Hogwarts."
"Maybe the Slytherin common room will be a little louder," he said, chuckling as Astoria scoffed, her brown hair flying all over the place and making Tracey sneeze behind the girl, "Daphne told us you wanted to ask us something, Astoria."
"Mhmm," she nodded, leaning forwards and placing her face on her palms, "What is Neville Longbottom like in reality? In the books he is this powerful and dashing hero who always kills the big bad and saves the princess or the heiress or the poor muggleborn."
"Books?" both Harry and Daphne echoed with confusion, sharing a look as Tracey gasped and Daphne sighed heavily, "Neville has books about him?"
"Well, you know that Neville Longbottom and the Serpent's Lair you saw Bones and Abbot reading?" Daphne raised an eyebrow, her face looking somewhat nauseated as he and she grimaced, "That was just one of the many. We never actually got around to telling you about that, but Dowager Longbottom actually endorsed and developed that series once the first one was launched by some stupid woman back in 1981 itself."
"You don't like the thought of the handsome, charming, and powerful Neville Longbottom coming to kill the big bad snake and save you?" Persephone mock gasped, and all of them laughed as Daphne shivered with revulsion clear on her face, "You never told us why you don't like him Daphne. Draco Malfoy we can understand, but what has Neville ever done to you?"
"I don't know," the blond shook her head, her eyes flickering to the window for a moment before they returned to them, "He hasn't ever said a word to me, and neither have I heard him say anything about my family. But I just don't…believe in all this propaganda and myth that surrounds his name. He is powerful, handsome and charming when he wants to be, but it just never made me want to be friends with him. Also, I never liked his Grandmother after the time she insulted everyone from the Traditionalist block in the annual Ministry Ball two years ago."
"There was also the time when father invited them for a business deal and dinner but she sent a howler," Astoria piped up, making Daphne and Tracey both wince, "It was not a pretty night after that…almost the entire west side of the manor had to be rebuilt."
"Enough about the Longbottoms," Tracey groaned, before her expression brightened up and she looked at the twins, "So, what else have you been doing in that castle except for learning magic from your new Grandfather."
"Well, we are usually in the library," he answered, taking another cookie and mentally deciding to ask Daphne for the recipe—his sister loved chocolate, "There is a small warded room attached to it, with self-repairing enchantments all over it so we can practice any spell inside it right away. We also sometimes go out in the ground and fly over the forest or just walk by the small lake on the northern side of the meadows. We eat together, and he usually has some words of wisdom during that time, or some small story about our grandparents."
"Your grandmother is a legend," Astoria bobbed her head, squirming out of Tracey's lap and crawling between them both, "and so is your grandfather. Merlin, they were named the best couple of the Wizarding Britain for nine years straight."
"They were, weren't they," Persephone smiled, a part of her mind wondering if in another world, another time…was some version of her smiling like this? A world where everything hadn't gone to shit with the fucking disaster that her parents created, "What about you Astoria, what awards do you want when you are all grown up?"
"I want to be the best Enchantress and Magizoologist in the world," she grinned, and Harry almost laughed out loud at the missing tooth she was sporting in the lower ones. Merlin this girl was too cute, maybe even a tiny bit more than his little sister, "Then I will create a big place for little Hippogryphs and Unicorns inside my room so that I can cuddle with them all day."
"Hey, where am I in that cuddle pile?!" came Tracey's affronted voice as the pillow knocked the little girl right on her back, which was followed a moment later by the brunette herself as she glomped the younger one, "You are going to leave me out just like that?"
"I am dealing with children," Daphne gave a long, suffering sigh, but after months of knowing the blond, Harry knew she was smiling on the inside. Turning away from the pile of laughter and giggles that were her best friend and younger sister, she looked at the twins with a raised eyebrow and asked, "So, did you come to know why he is called the Scourge of Brittany?"
Harry nodded at that, remembering how Arcturus had shown them the Pensieve two days ago, and in it…his memory of the day he got his title. "He did," he said, a shiver running up his spine as he remembered the level of magic that had been thrown around in that memory, "Two days ago, after our daily practice with him, he called us up to his office and showed it to us in a Pensieve."
"Harry, Persephone," Arcturus smiled at them slightly as he rose up from his chair, "First of all, excellent work on the Stunning Spell and the Bone-Breaker. By the time Christmas comes around, I think you both will have a good enough grasp on them both."
"Thank you, Grandfather," he answered, ducking his head a little, still a little uncomfortable with the thought of a family member praising him, "We will do our best."
"That you will," he hummed, drumming his fingers on the table as he leaned back in his chair, "When you came to the castle, I told you that I will tell you about how I got the title of 'The Scourge of Brittany'. Remember?"
"We do," they both chorused together, and Persephone continued, "so…are you going to tell us now?"
"Hmm, tell? Not so much," Arcturus said as waved his hand, and the center of his desk glowed for a moment, before a large, flat bowl appeared above it. It was filled with some bluish liquid, and there were runes all over it, all of them glowing with soft ethereal blue light, "I am going to show you. This is a Pensieve. A marvel of runecraft and enchanting created centuries ago by one of your own ancestors, and this was the thing that gave him the name of 'Potter'. Now, your accomplished family history aside, this artifact here lets the user show his or her memories to others by putting them inside it. You can learn the way this works afterwards, but for now, just know the basics. Once the memory strand is inside the liquid, all you have to do is push your face up to the ears inside the bowl. Don't be afraid once you feel like you are falling, that is just your brain absorbing the memory temporarily to show it to you like an…awake-dream."
Both of them nodded slowly as Arcturus touched his temple with his finger and closed his eyes. He pulled it away slowly, and Harry watched with wide eyes as what seemed like a collection of floating, glowing, wispy white strands came out of his skin. They floated and moved in the air as if a gentle wind was blowing, the memory curling up and unraveling as it lowered into the Pensieve.
A blue pulse traveled through the liquid as the memory touched the gelatinous liquid in the Pensieve, sinking into its depths and swirling in the bowl. Looking up at Arcturus' impassive face, both of them gulped and lowered their heads, shivering slightly as they felt the cold substance touch their noses. An instant later, they were falling through a greyish void, and both of them screamed loudly as hues and sounds started to mix together on the blank canvas around them.
A second later, they landed feet first on the ground, but instead of their legs going through their skulls, all they felt was a mild headache as the memory fully formed around them. Harry gasped, his legs buckling beneath them as he saw the Hell he was standing in. Bodies were strewn all around him, some burnt, some dismembered and some just lying there lifelessly. Blood was pooled around in the destroyed ground, filling the craters and flowing through the mud in rivulets as the shouts and screams of the wizards all around them rang through the air.
A large dragon fell over their heads with a roar, and the very next second, another dragon fell upon it from the skies above, tearing its back open with a savage bite. The first Ironbelly fell to the with a guttural roar, flames spewing out of its mouth and incinerating several wizards as the bigger one continued to bite and maul its spine. Blood fountained from the gouges that were torn into its hide, and both of them moved away from the macabre sight.
However, a second later, something strange began to happen. Several wizards began to apparate out of the battlefield, and about a minute later, only half of the original number was left in front of them. A cheer went up in the remaining wizards, and Harry blinked as he saw the symbol they all had on their backs. A uniform, he realized, turning his head to look at the army that was remaining, wondering if these were the allies of his Grandfathers or not.
"Are you sure about this?" an apprehensive voice whispered from their left, and both of them watched with surprise as a much younger Arcturus Black emerged from what seemed like nothing, "You do know that you can possibly die using that spell don't you?"
"That is rich coming from you considering the show you put on last week against Mikorovitch's forces," he chuckled, kneeling down and pressing his hands into the blood-covered ground, "Charlus Potter, lecturing about dangerous, potentially suicidal spells."
"Well, at least I have got a beautiful woman to heal me even if I am in death throes," came the invisible voice once again, and Harry watched with wide eyes as his paternal grandfather also appeared before then, some sort of silvery blanket in his hands before it went invisible, "Morgana's Tits, you won't believe how wild we fucked that night. Just say the word Arcty, and I will apparate Melania here to soothe all your aches once you are done."
"That's my sister you are talking about Potter," he grunted out as ghostly white runes began to flare up around his kneeling form in a circle, red smoke wafting off them and his eyes turned completely black. The air just around his body began to waver, and Harry felt a shiver travel up his spine as the shadows around him contracted towards him, a dark miasma beginning to rise from his body.
Both of them took a step back as the shadows all around them began to…pulse for the lack of a better word. The Ironbelly currently gorging itself on the corpse of its brethren too stopped, a rumbling growl coming out of it, and even the cheering and laughing wizards too began to notice the erratic movement of the shadows beneath them.
The dragon roared loudly and flared its gigantic wings, flapping them wildly as it began to fly away, and similar roars came from all over the field as other dragons too began to take flight. However, a part of Harry realized that it was too late for them, and for the wizards screaming and trying to apparate away.
A second later, a hellish scream reverberated in his very bones as every shadow save for the one beneath his grandfathers rose up in the air, swallowing the very bodies they were attached to. For that single moment, even the wind stopped blowing, and the world stood still as pillars of darkness erupted out of the ground as far as upto the horizon.
And when they dropped back down to the earth…
Only the bones of Grindelwald's army were left behind.