Chapter One: To Propose an Alliance
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches.
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies.
And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not.
And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ..."
"Even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.
But sometimes fear clouds our vision.
Sometimes our strength gives out.
And yet sometimes, when all seems lost, a light shines through the darkness.
And we are reminded that even the smallest amount of courage.
Can turn the tides of war…"
Albus Dumbledore sat alone in his office, in the throne-like chair behind his desk. Although he was in his one hundred and ten's he certainly didn't give off the impression that he was as old as he looked, despite his wrinkled face snow white hair and beard, both of which were long enough to tuck into his belt. But at this moment he certainly did look like an old man; he sat slightly slumped in his chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose between his finger and thumb.
It was not an easy year at Hogwarts so far, Lord Voldemort had returned, the Ministry was refusing to face the truth that he was back and had instead focused its efforts into slandering himself and Harry Potter, who had witnessed the Dark Lord return, having witnessed the death of a fellow student and narrowly escaped the same fate himself. The minister Cornelius Fudge had instated his Senior Undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge, into the teaching post of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, but had granted her more and more powers to interfere at the school for the student's so called best interests all to make sure that Dumbledore couldn't use them as recruits in the army Fudge believed Dumbledore was raising against him.
Personally Dumbledore didn't care what they did to him, he had always been thought to be a bit eccentric and perhaps he deserved it, given the aura he had often given off. It didn't matter that he had been ousted as the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards or that his Order of Merlin, First Class had been revoked, as long as he wasn't taken off the Chocolate Frog Cards! Perish the thought.
But Chocolate Frogs were the least of his worries; right now his main concern was Harry Potter. Ever since Voldemort had returned to power he has feared that the connection between him and Voldemort would be stronger than ever, and that if Voldemort ever became aware of this connection and saw that the old Headmaster's relationship with Harry was or, ever had been, closer than that of Headmaster and Pupil he would use the boy as a means to spy on him, which was why Dumbledore had distanced himself from Harry ever since they had parted ways last summer. He had convinced himself that it was for the best, more so since he had discovered that his suspicions had been right; that Harry had seen through the eyes of Voldemort's snake Nagini one night in a dream when she attacked Arthur Weasley who was patrolling the outside of the Department of Mysteries on his orders. Although Harry suspected that this was because Voldemort was possessing Nagini at the time it was actually because both Harry and Nagini were Horcruxes that each housed a portion of Voldemort's soul and this was the reason for the connection between Harry's mind and Voldemort's.
Harry had no idea of this and Dumbledore intended for it to stay that way for the time being, he wanted Harry to be happy for as long as possible which was why he had also put off telling him why Voldemort had tried to kill him as a baby; the reason being Harry was the only person who had the power to finish Voldemort for good or else be killed by his hand. And this brought Dumbledore back to the main problem he was facing right now; was keeping Harry in the dark really the best thing to do, he knew that Harry currently resented him for this and so did Harry's godfather Sirius Black. Despite being blessed with extraordinary brainpower, which he was not too proud to admit, he now found himself wondering if his staying silent would turn out for the best in the long run. He deeply regretted the amount of manipulation of certain people in order to ensure the Order of the Phoenix won the upcoming war, but he had convinced himself that it was ultimately for the greater good. He chuckled in spite of himself; there was that old saying again, "for the greater good", and the last time he had believed in that it had come at a great personal cost to him, one which he would never forgive himself for. Eventually he decided to do what he had always done, watch and wait to see how things would pan out, and intervene when necessary, but he didn't half wish that there something more he could do.
Dumbledore jumped, startled by the sudden foreign presence that had touched his mind, and he was secretly glad that no one was around to see the mighty Albus Dumbledore jump with fright; he would never hear the end of it.
Cautiously he allowed the stranger's mind and his own to connect, whoever it was that had contacted him, they must be extremely powerful to not only have penetrated the Occlumency defences he had shielded around his mind at all times, but to have gotten through the magical barriers that had surrounded Hogwarts Castle itself, only time would tell if this foreign presence was friend or foe.
"I apologize unreservedly for contacting you in this manner, but I have watched you from afar for a long time, I know that you are a good man who only desires peace and prosperity, and I would never have contacted you if you weren't the only one who could help us." The voice was old, deep and wise, much like Dumbledore himself, but that wasn't what made the old Headmaster decide that this person could be trusted; it was the genuine sincerity of his words, time and time again Dumbledore had discovered that he had become an excellent judge of character, not at all like in his youth, but he could tell that what this person truly did need his help, the only question was why.
"You are most welcome, but who may I ask are you, and why do you need my help?" He asked politely.
"I understand that you may find this difficult to believe but I am not of your world. I come from a place far away; a place that has always coexisted in secret alongside yours, much as the Wizarding World has coexisted alongside the Muggle World. My kind has suffered many hardships before peace was finally restored to our land. But now the evil that has plagued our world has reared its head once again, only now it seeks not only the dominion of our world, but your world as well. I have come to you because you are the only one who will understand our pain and our plight."
Contrary to what the foreign being believed, Dumbledore didn't find the fact that he came from a different world difficult to fathom; he had always suspected that there were many areas of magic that had remained untapped throughout the world.
"But then again not much surprises me anymore these days." Dumbledore thought to himself with a small chuckle, before he addressed the stranger once again, "What is it that I can do to help?" he asked immediately.
"I know that you seek to stop the rampage of this Voldemort villain who is terrorising your world; that he seeks to destroy the only one who can stop him. I come to you because our situation is similar: there is one in our world who can put a stop to this evil once and for all; this great evil will not rest until this threat to his plans has been annihilated. I know that if we combine our resources we may yet be able to save both of our worlds," at this a grave note entered the wise, powerful voice, "even now the great evil approaches Voldemort, hoping to gain his alliance so that they may both be rid of their respective obstacles and conquer both of our worlds. The only way to stop this most deadly alliance is if we work together….I beg of you….will you help us?" The being asked pleadingly.
Dumbledore's brow was furrowed; he had never imagined that there would be an exact situation to what the Wizarding World was facing playing out in an entirely different universe. Fate certainly did have a strange way of doing things. Nevertheless this being was correct, if Voldemort allied himself with this ancient evil the war would be lost for sure, but if he helped this being to defeat this great evil, then maybe, just maybe Voldemort himself could also be beaten in the process, and given what had happened in his own past he could not stand by while innocents suffered, regardless of what world they came from, with this in mind he made his decision.
"Your burden is heavy dear friend, and my heart reaches out to you. I will help you, not only because it will save my own world, but because by doing this it will also save your world. I learned a long time ago that if you are able to help someone then you have a moral obligation to help them." He answered the being kindly.
He felt a tremendous joy emanating from the being's consciousness, "Thank you so much Albus Dumbledore, you have the eternal gratitude of myself and my kind, and I promise that I will also do everything in my own moral obligation to help your world in any way I can! You have awakened my hopes once more and I know in my heart that we will succeed!"
Dumbledore smiled at the being's jubilation, as he couldn't help but feel his own heart rejoicing at this revelation that they finally had a source of ancient magic on their side, magic that could help lessen the tragedies that would soon strike when Voldemort finally made his move.
"Once again you are most welcome, but if we are to make this partnership work, it might help if you told me your name." He asked teasingly.
He felt the being chuckle inside his mind,
"My name is Ignitus, Dragon Guardian of Fire."
Voldemort sat alone in one of the high-backed chairs in front of the fireplace at Malfoy Manor. His long, bone white fingers were folded in front of his lipless mouth, his eyes were closed and his head slightly bowed as though in prayer, his serpent familiar Nagini lay curled at his feet. Voldemort was deep in thought, although he showed no outward sign of emotions, he was angry, yet he should not have been; with the Ministry of Magic so blatantly ignoring his return; instead choosing to focus their efforts slandering that Muggle loving fool Albus Dumbledore and ten of his Death Eaters recently escaped from Azkaban, including the ever faithful Bellatrix Lestrange, everything should have been perfect. Yet Voldemort knew that things would never be perfect until he held the prophecy in his grasp, once he had obtained the knowledge of how to destroy that wretched Harry Potter once and for all he would never know peace.
He could not risk obtaining it from the Hall of Prophecy himself for fear of exposing himself to the Aurors, and he was keen to allow those fools at the Ministry to wallow in their ignorance for as long as possible until he was ready to make his move. So far his efforts to have others obtain it for him had resulted in two failed attempts, one because of incorrect information based on Avery's incompetence. It wasn't until Augustus Rookwood returned to his side that he discovered that Harry Potter could obtain the prophecy for him, and so he had set about exploiting the mental connection he had recently discovered he shared with the boy; but his plan of drawing Potter to the Department of Mysteries by showing him the place in his dreams, hoping that natural curiosity would draw him there had proved fruitless. It made the great Dark Lord grit his teeth in anger, he could not understand why the boy would not come, did he not want to discover why he- the greatest sorcerer of all time- had tried to kill him as a baby, even the thought of being angry only incensed him further as he felt he was above such human emotions as mere anger.
His blood red eyes with their cat-like slits for pupils opened slowly and he stared at Nagini's sleeping form, if only he could find a way to get Potter away from Hogwarts and out from under the crooked nose of that wrinkled senile old fool.
The Dark Lord tensed, he had felt a mild stirring in the back of his mind, a presence seeking entry that he did not recognize. His slit-like pupils contracted as he reacted to the foreign touch to his consciousness, not drawing back, but demanding to know who was there.
The answer was soft, hissing like a snake, not unlike the Dark Lord's own voice, "….An ally….an ally who has observed you for some time….who has watched your machinations closely, and has found himself….impressed…." The voice finished, allowing the last word to drag on slightly; sounding more like a serpent than ever.
Voldemort was usually wary about talking to strange, magical intruders in his mind, and this intruder must be a powerful one indeed to have reached so far into his mind without Voldemort noticing him until he had decided to make his presence known, and, with a slight stab of indignation, that he had dared use his chosen name so plainly as though they were old friends, a concept Voldemort knew nothing of. After a moment of contemplation he replied within his own mind, "And why have you contacted me?" Even in his own mind Voldemort's words were serpentine and morbid.
"….To propose….an alliance…." The voice replied smoothly.
"And what could I possibly gain from such an alliance?" Voldemort pressed on, trusting this stranger less and less.
Soft laughter rang through Voldemort's head, causing him to grip the handle of his wand under the folds of his black robes; did this stranger found him amusing?! Voldemort considered severing the connection right there and then, but held on to see if the stranger would elaborate.
"….Trust me….you and I have more in common than you know….and I am not merely referring to the fact that we are both so feared that the common people prefer to not even say our names…." The stranger said with a hint of amusement in his voice.
At this a cruel smile worked its way onto Voldemort's face, clearly this fool had no idea of whom he was speaking to, "Highly unlikely, I am Lord Voldemort, the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever known. I know of no other wizard who is as feared as I am. I am fear, I am power, and you….you are nothing…." He waited patiently to see if the stranger would respond to this jibe, but the answer that came was not in all honesty what the Dark Lord was expecting.
"….Who said that I was a wizard? ..."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed at this, he decided to choose his words carefully from this point onwards, whoever this person or creature was he was clearly something extremely ancient, and it irritated the Dark Lord to no end that here was once again proof of old magic that had escaped his notice, but before he could reply the stranger spoke up again.
"As I have said….I have watched you from afar and believe that I can help you to destroy the one you seek….the one called….Harry Potter…."
Voldemort stayed silent for several minutes as the stranger's words sank in, "And why, pray tell, would I need your help to destroy Potter?"
A low chuckle emanated from the stranger, "Because I also have a similar problem….there is one that I too wish to destroy….one who deeply threatens my plans….and who has also continually eluded my grasp….I believe that we could help each other to take down our enemies….and if even I am not too proud to ask for help….I do not see why you should be…."
Voldemort sniffed haughtily from his slit-like nostrils, he was not so weak as to have to ask for help from another, he needed help from no one, and this stranger was foolish to presume so. If he had come to ask the Dark Lord for help he clearly was not as powerful as he had briefly thought he was. He was just about to sever the connection when the voice spoke again.
"Do not presume to know me human….I only come to you because I know that an alliance forged between us will be mutually beneficial to both our causes….not just to dispose of a certain troublesome individual….otherwise we would not even be having this conversation…." The menacing edge that had now entered the stranger's voice would have sent anyone else cowering under the nearest rock in terror, but something about this animalistic, otherworldly voice, with its stated intent of assistance to his plan to conquer the Wizarding and Muggle world stirred something inside of him, and he chose to, at the moment, ignore the taunt.
"What could you possibly offer me? I have an army; my faithful Death Eaters, Ministry wizards bewitched into following me and an army of dark creatures whom all fear." He asked, genuinely curious to know more.
The voice had switched by to its usual soft, slippery tone, "Not only can I guarantee you the prophecy you so desperately seek….I will offer you the chance to possess the most powerful wand in existence….it goes by many names; The Death Stick, The Wand of Destiny….but I believe you would most commonly now it as….The Elder Wand…."
Voldemort contemplated these words, it was true that he had heard of wands said to be the most powerful in existence from his history lessons at Hogwarts, although he had never really given them any serious consideration at the time. But now that this stranger had risked entering his mind to offer him the chance to possess the Elder Wand the legends must be true. He was still wary about an alliance with this being, but for the chance to not only claim the most powerful wand in history as his own, but a guaranteed chance to obtain the prophecy was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Nevertheless he cautiously pressed the stranger for more information, "Even if I agree to this what do you expect of me in return?"
The stranger's voice was softer than ever, "….That when the time comes….I will call upon the services of you and your army to help me with my own agenda of conquer….and to destroy the one whole constantly stands in my way…."
Voldemort's smirk widened even more, just as he had suspected; whoever this person was, he wanted the Dark Lord's help with whatever plan he had had to conquer whatever town or country or continent he desired. He obviously thought that he could control him- the great Lord Voldemort- the sheer audacity of the thought nearly made him laugh out loud. But he decided to play along for now, he would make use this stranger's assistance to help him obtain the prophecy, then the Elder Wand, and finally destroy Potter, but then the game would be reversed; when this being came to Voldemort for help he would take whatever ancient power he possessed for his own as well, The Elder Wand would guarantee that. Of course if this being was half as smart as it thought it was then it would suspect that Voldemort would turn on him once he had The Elder Wand and have a contingency planned prepared, but this being wasn't the only one who could play that game.
Voldemort dipped his head, "Very well. It is agreed."
The Dark Lord felt immense satisfaction emanating from the being, "….Thank you very much….I promise that you that you shall not regret it….I will contact you again in due course to make the necessary preparations…."
Voldemort smiled his broadest smile, showing his teeth, but he had one more question to ask before he severed the link, "But there is one more thing I wish to now….you now my name, but what shall I call you?"
The voice remained silent, for a moment Voldemort thought the being wasn't going to answer him, but then the voice sounded out one last time before it completely faded away,
"The Dark Master."