Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, receive monetary or other compensation from these works nor do I profit from them in any way other than the enjoyment I personally derive from developing these stories. All characters, locations and situations existing within the universe of Harry Potter, not existing in the real world, are the properties of their respective copyright holders. I am just borrowing them from time to time and carefully leaving the keys in the basket by the door and the petrol tank topped off. I also carefully hang up Hermione's, Luna's, Lavender's, Padma's and Parvati's (and any other ladies') robes when they have been removed to keep them from wrinkling.

WARNING: Relationships may not be what they seem. If there is something unusual going on, you will know it from the notes at the beginning of a chapter. Fair warning though, if polyamorous relationships are a squick for you, these are not the droids you're looking for.

– This chapter makes two references to self-mutilation. The specific section is denoted by the centered header -OOOoooOOO- thrice in a row. It is not graphic and is only mentioned briefly, but some of my betas felt the warning was needed.

-oOoOo-

34 miles Southwest of Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom, 5 miles West Southwest of Balbeg, Highland, Pontius Caledonia Castle, just outside the outer ward boundaries; 11:39 pm UTC June 20, 2000

Kriscaryn Milner, "Crissy" to her two closest friends, was afraid. Her father was a powerful, pureblood member of the Wizengamot. Her mother was one of the top five women in the social circle of the pureblood women. Her parents were also both death eaters and were fully accepting of whatever was necessary to support the ends of their fallen Lord.

Crissy had believed it all as well until some facts were presented to her. The man whose ancestral home she was approaching was a half-blood yet was considered to be, if not the most, one of the most powerful wizards to have ever lived. Said man was married to a pureblood and to a muggleborn. The muggleborn was considered to be smarter than Rowena Ravenclaw by many and the senior wife by his pureblood wife. His pureblood wife was number two in the pecking order amongst her mother's social circle. The man was their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and had been such for the past two years, breaking the curse of the position.

While all of these had had an effect on her beliefs changing, the biggest change had been her best friend, Aliwyn Silvergates.

-o-o-

Both she and Aliwyn had been sorted into Slytherin. The hat had wanted to put her in Ravenclaw, but her father had told her to tell the hat to put her in Slytherin. The hat had balked until she let it see her memories of her father threatening her with a punishment he reserved for misbehaving house elves if she didn't manage to get into Slytherin.

Aliwyn had asked the hat to put her in the same house as her new friend. The hat had its reservations, but placed Aliwyn in Slytherin, much to the astonishment of every single member of the staff. Aliwyn was the first muggleborn to be placed in Slytherin in over 600 years, the last one of which was found dead at the base of the astronomy tower after only three days at Hogwarts.

Crissy hadn't known Aliwyn was a muggleborn until that night, when the seventh years had all explained to Aliwyn how unwanted she was and how she likely wouldn't survive the week and how little they would care should she fall down the stairs or drown in the sewers beneath the dungeons.

Aliwyn had stood there, her arms rigidly at her sides, her hands balled into whitened fists. Just as the seventh year male prefect, Barnabas Lagger, was about to begin yelling at her again, Aliwyn, in an unnaturally deep and ancient voice cried out, "Enough!" as everyone in the room except Aliwyn and Crissy were thrown to the ground away from Aliwyn. The shout seemed to echo for minutes off the dungeon walls.

In the same ancient, deep voice, she then began talking just above a whisper, yet everyone in the common room could clearly hear her.

"I shall take your position into consideration," she said haltingly, as if speaking were something she had not done in a great while. While Crissy was worried about her new friend being hurt by the others in her new house, she was more concerned about the way Aliwyn's eyes had rolled into the back of her head and she seemed to be seeing through the whites of her eyes. Aliwyn blinked, returning her eyes to their normal rotation, but her pupils were fully dilated and the blue of her irises was nearly invisible. A chill seemed to fill the common room as an unseen wind tore at the seventh year students' robes and courage. Everyone except Crissy and Aliwyn shivered. The illumination from the torches and wall sconces dimmed considerably. Aliwyn relaxed her hands and then splayed her fingers out towards the mass of terrified Slytherin as the fetid stench of rot and decay filled the nostrils of all but the two girls.

Aliwyn chuckled a quiet, almost evil laugh while speaking, again in a halting fashion, "Well. It seems your terms are not acceptable." The last three words seems to reverberate off the walls of the dungeon, as if Hogwarts herself were ringing from the power within her voice.

Crissy was then very happy that she had not eaten whatever it was the older boys had eaten at dinner as they all soiled their robes and were shaking and sweating. It seemed, on further examination, that a few of the older girls had eaten the offending dish as well.

Crissy knew that Aliwyn was somehow responsible for everyone being thrown down, and chalked it up to accidental magic. She'd just never seen accidental magic like this before. She had, however, seen more than her fair share of bullying as her parents enjoyed bullying house elves and people for whom they felt they had power over, including Crissy and her younger sisters. These people had all been fearful of her parents and she thought that Aliwyn must just be so scared that she was about to faint.

Crissy did the only thing she could think of. She tool Aliwyn's hands and shook her arms. "Aliwyn, we should go to our dorm and see what our room looks like!" she exclaimed, feigning excitement and curiosity while in reality just trying to get her frightened friend to calm down.

Aliwyn blinked again and her eyes were once again their beautiful china blue. "That would be wonderful, Crissy! I am so looking forward to learning how to use my magic!" she exclaimed, taking Crissy's hand.

The two now-genuinely-excited girls ran down the stairs into the deeper dungeons of the Slytherin girls' dorms, leaving behind a terrified house of snakes.

-o-o-

-o-o-

She was afraid because her father had threatened her with the worst possible harm. He had threatened to kill Aliwyn, who had been visiting for the summer, if she did not do as she was instructed. She didn't want to do it, but Aliwyn was her first-ever true friend and, on her twelfth birthday last week, was the first person to ever give her a gift that wasn't ridiculously practical or nothing more than a materialistic token rather than a gift of love.

Aliwyn had given her a gold and platinum ring with their names engraved on the inside and emerald snakes swimming around on the outside of the band. To say that Crissy was stunned would be an understatement. Aliwyn was a muggleborn, after all. How would she know where to get such a wonderfully beautiful and exquisite gift. Nevertheless, she let Aliwyn put the ring on her right ring finger. Aliwyn then reached into the pocket of her blouse and placed an identical ring on her own finger.

"Friends forever!" Aliwyn exclaimed, holding her left hand with the ring out to Crissy.

"Friends forever!" Crissy shyly exclaimed, never having had anyone before Aliwyn wanting to be her friend, much less wanting to be a forever friend. She reached her right hand out to Aliwyn and clasped Aliwyn's hand in her own.

When she had finished the last syllable of "forever", with their hands entwined, she felt a force wash over her body. Wash over her magic. She felt strange for a moment, as if something ancient within her had been released from its cage, inspected, fed, then put back in a larger, more spacious cage. A cage to protect it, not a cage to imprison it, as it had been locked up before. It felt as if she'd been given the key.

She had meant to kiss Aliwyn on the cheek but the blonde girl had turned her head at the last instant and ended up getting kissed on the lips.

Crissy felt a spark where their lips touched in a very chaste kiss, but it seemed special somehow and they had held hands and talked throughout the rest of the day and well into the night, eating the meals the house elves brought. She never thought she would get tired of seeing the tears of joy on the little creatures' faces when she said 'please' and 'thank you' when talking to them in Aliwyn's presence.

The next day, Aliwyn had not been in her bed in the early dawn and her father had given her a task to complete if she wished to see her "little mudblood plaything" alive again.

-o-o-

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

Her father had been overjoyed in his research when he discovered that "sacrificing a virgin", when translated from the original Gael, did not actually mean killing an unspoiled child. It merely meant the girl in question would need to have her first blood fall on the ruins of one of the raising stones. The blood would have to be unpolluted by the seed of a man and it had to be done at the stroke of midnight to properly commune with these types of wards.

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

Her father told her how to find the remains of one of the great hematite and onyx towers, the chant she would have to utter and her mother had shown her how to use the malachite knife her father had given her to properly harvest the right type of blood needed to perform the ritual.

She had been apparated to within two miles of the outer wards and would have to walk by herself to the base of a stone tower.

And here she was, standing at the base of one of the massive stone towers that were markers for the raising of the original wards for the Potter ancestral manor. The tower did not look like a ruin. Instead, it appeared to have only just been completed. There were no scars of weather or time on the great tower before her.

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

Yet it was here that she would have to give a blood sacrifice, using the almost-phallic-looking stone knife to do what was needed to assuage her father and allow her friend to live.

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

-OOOoooOOO-

As she approached the tower, however, she felt something surround her and push on her from every direction. It touched her body, her mind and her magic. Her father had been teaching her occlumency and had used legilimency on her for six years so that she would know how to keep her thoughts secret. This was the same, yet different. Instead of it feeling like an attack intended on violating her mind, this felt like when she used to sit in the lap of her great grandmother and was just held in her arms after scraping a knee or getting scared by a post owl. She felt it examine her every memory, her every belief; every fibre of her being. As it left her, she felt an almost overwhelming sense of love.

She also felt her ring from Aliwyn warm on her finger and throb with her own pulse. She didn't know how, but she knew Aliwyn was safe and alive at the moment.

She looked up at the tower and felt a second wave of power wash over her. She closed her eyes and sensed the power changing her subtly.

When her eyes opened a few moments later, she saw the collapsed ruin of the tower at whose base she had performed the ritual. She saw a tinge of crimson on her hand where she had used the now-bloody knife to harvest the blood for the ritual and it was still a bit tender to walk. She winced occasionally as she walked back the way she had come, arriving at the small stack of stones she had set as a marker and used the portkey her father had given her to return home once the deed had been done.

-oOoOo-

When she returned home, Aliwyn had been walking through the rose garden and had run to her and embraced her in an engulfing hug. Crissy was crying tears of relief that her friend was unharmed. It would be just like her father to kill Aliwyn regardless as a "lesson" for her to obey without question. She did not know why her father was being generous and she dared not ask. As the two of them walked into the manor hand-in-hand, she noted her parents were in the sitting room, sitting rigidly on the primary chesterfield.

"It is done, Father," Crissy said, her eyes cast downward in as she had been taught. She therefore did not see the shudder that ran through her parents. She carefully raised her eyes and did see her father's slight nod.

The two girls went up to Crissy's room and Aliwyn held her as she told her what she had done. Tears were running down her face as she described her fear at her father's threat, at her fear of losing her friend, and continued to cry as she spoke of the loss of her innocence and the destruction she had been forced to be party to to ensure Aliwyn's continued safety. Aliwyn held her throughout, kissing her on the forehead intermittently, but being gently supportive.

Crissy fell asleep, still held in Aliwyn's arms.