Title: Harry Potter and the Shell of the God-King
Pairings: Harry Potter/Illyria, Harry Potter/Illyria/Narcissa Malfoy
Disclaimer: Right, I actually went and checked to be sure this time… after being passed around several times in the past few years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, and all associated characters now belong to Warner Brothers. J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter universe. Wish they were mine so I could do increasingly nonsensical things to them and watch my bank account get steadily larger, but sadly not mine. Additionally, there are a handful of original characters inserted here and there to expand her world's horizons a bit. If you like a character but don't recognize their name, run it through the Harry Potter Wikia. If nothing comes up, they're mine and I'd appreciate being asked before you port them to another fanfic. I'll probably say yes; I just want to know where they're going so I can check in on them from time to time.
Summary: The aptly named Department of Mysteries is home to a great many things that wizardkind does not yet understand. Luna releases one of them and forever alters the course of history.
Joe's Note: I originally started this story back in 2007, as a cowrite with my ex-girlfriend. If any of you reading this are authors who've dated - and lost - someone within your fandom, you can probably guess why that was a bad idea. In my case, she walked away with extensive notes on subplots and even a few of the main characters that I never got to see, bringing things to a screeching halt. Because, well, it's not even like I lost the will to write without her. I literally had no idea where her half of things were going in most cases. So it sat on my hard drive for six years, and I recently rediscovered it when converting my Word DOCX story files to Scrivener archives. I still have no clue what my ex was planning to do but after a slow and thorough reread, I came up with ideas on how to replace her ideas with mine and reforge this into something I could then continue as per the plot outline from oh so long ago. So welcome back to this particular bout of insanity. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Alexander, Howard, Alonsis2, Connor, MJ, Daniel, Christopher, Fablesrogue, Morgan, Janne, Eric, DireSquirrel, Joseph, Jason, mpop, RileyWestfall, bloodylord, Luke, Zachary, Marc, Ziryo, Elliot, Crusifikz70, Timothy, Leigh, Chris, George, Koby, Ken, Dimitria, William, Invernos, Paul, Pat, Joel, Kentucky Fried Dragon, Warren, Mitch, and Jess for sponsoring me on P treon, and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
June 18, 1996
The Department of Mysteries
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Lying as still as possible, Luna Lovegood's grey eyes tracked Harry Potter as he raced out of the room with the prophecy orb grasped tightly in one hand, drawing the Death Eaters away with him. After a moment, Neville Longbottom groaned and climbed to his feet before following after them, and then she was all alone. Or - at least for now - the only conscious person in the room and therefore alone enough to end her charade. Sitting up, Luna winced a bit as her ribs protested. In the future, she decided, she'd have to try and avoid being thrown into solid objects. They were awfully solid.
It took a few more breaths before she was confident enough to try standing and even then it wasn't entirely painless. Looking around, she nibbled her lower lip as she thought before shaking her head decisively. The Death Eaters had left them behind to pursue Harry and no matter how noble it sounded, staying here to guard her friends was a waste of time. Either Harry would find a way to win the day, the Death Eaters would flee or be captured, and then mediwizards would be dispatched to help her peers… or the Death Eaters would win and come back and kill Luna and the others. Staying here just meant she'd have no way of influencing the outcome of the battle.
Luna took two steps toward the door through which Harry, Neville, and the Death Eaters had departed before pausing and looking back over her shoulder. It was still beckoning to her. Ever since she'd entered the Department of Mysteries, she had felt it… a low thrum of power that called out to her like the song of a siren to its prey. A familiar song from her childhood, that had echoed throughout the Rookery right up until her mother's death. Then the Unspeakables had come and stripped her mother's workshop bare, and the song had left her.
Now it was back.
Canceling the Sealing Charm she'd cast on one of the doors leading out of the Brain Room, Luna made her way over to it and paused briefly before turning the knob and entering the side room. She found herself standing in a simple workshop that contained little of interest save for another door at the far end. Her wand came up as she walked forward quickly, a simple Unlocking Charm granting her access to the room behind the next door. And there… to borrow a muggle expression?
A large stone sarcophagus sat in the center of the room, several balls of bluebell flame hovering around it and bathing it in an eerie, flickering blue light. It hadn't changed one whit in the time since she'd last seen it, with a quintet of fantastically large gemstones arranged in a pentagon around a slightly depressed spiral near the sarcophagus's head. Her hands slid over the cool stone like a lover's caress as she started near the foot and worked her way toward the gems. Five years. Five years she'd been waiting to find out what secrets this object held… why it captivated her so. Her mother had been disturbed by Luna's connection to it but had reluctantly agreed to let Luna help only if Selene hadn't figured it out herself by the time the blonde had taken her OWLs. Then her mother had died, the sarcophagus had been taken from their house, and their little agreement became meaningless.
Since then, life had ranged from uncomfortable to downright hellish for Luna. Nobody understood what it was like to be her. The sarcophagus had sung to her… filled her with little bits of tempting information as payment for the task Luna would someday perform. Knowledge of amazing creatures, nudged sideways out of phase with this reality by their creators… places that humans could barely comprehend and would never be able to see for themselves. Her father tried to humor her, but she could tell that even he didn't know what to make of her sometimes. Her peers didn't even deign to make that effort. She snorted; Loony Lovegood indeed. If they only knew.
But that was all over now. The sarcophagus and its secrets were hers again. All hers. That was all that mattered to Luna. Her previous problems were insignificant compared to that fact. What did stolen shoes and hidden books matter when held next to the prospect of unimaginable power and knowledge?
Luna reached the head of the sarcophagus and leaned over it, staring down at the massive garnet set at the top of the pentagon of gems. It was almost the size of her fist; she couldn't even begin to guess what it might fetch on the open market, but undoubtedly it would be enough to allow her to live comfortably for many, many years. And yet where it was sitting at the moment… it was worth so much more.
Her hand moved to hover over the garnet and Luna paused. The sarcophagus and its inhabitant had waited for untold millennia for someone to come along and open it. Surely it wouldn't begrudge her a few more years of life, would it? But on the other hand, it had been lost to her once before. Who knew where it might end up after tonight's events, or if she'd ever be able to visit this room again legitimately even if it did remain here. After a further moment of hesitation, Luna lowered her hand and pushed down on the gem.
The spiral slowly unfurled to reveal utter blackness, the pale blue light of the room not penetrating enough to show either the bottom or sides inside the sarcophagus. Then there was harsh gust of wind and Luna sucked in a breath. The air was dirty… more than merely musty, like trying to breathe in a sandstorm. It burned in her lungs and her eyes watered, but Luna wasn't deterred. This was what she was meant to do. Her hand came up off the garnet and she leaned closer, planting one hand on each of the sapphires that sat on either side of the spiral.
A heat blossomed in her, racing through her veins like fire. Luna took a deep breath and then another as it became easier. Each beat of her heart made her lungs feel cooler while the rest of her body grew warmer. It was almost like the flush of arousal she sometimes felt when she looked at Harry, but so much more intense.
Without warning came a flash of pain that made Luna hiss softly, followed by an even stronger wave of pleasure that made the blonde's knees wobbly. Then came more pain followed closely by another blast of pleasure, the two sensations warring back and forth inside her body and driving her toward insanity on a torturously rapturous ride. Finally, there was one sharp spike of pain behind her eyes and then she knew no more.
It took a moment for Illyria to finish integrating the sparks that remained of her shell's mind, giving her the knowledge required to operate her new body's appendages and the capacity to properly interpret the influx of information from her now limited senses. The floor. She was lying on the floor. Why was she lying on the floor?
Her movements were jerky in the unfamiliar body, so unlike her real form, but she managed to force the shell to its feet after some trial and error. Illyria cocked her head to the side as she stared at the sarcophagus… her sarcophagus… in wonder. The garnet was cracked, depleted in the bonding between her and the shell. But the two sapphires were damaged as well, indicating the shell had desired to become her host and voluntarily taken Illyria into her body. Fascinating.
Quick tears removed the primitive and unflattering coverings of her shell, and then she moved to hold a hand over one of the two remaining gems of her sarcophagus. Her hand came down on the piece of milky quartz and it flooded her with power. Illyria watched in satisfaction as her nude human form was covered with an acceptable enough adaptation of what she'd worn in her last form: the tanned and stitched hides of her fallen foes. Reds and blacks and blues and golds, clinging tightly to her human body in a way that one spark informed her that the males of her shell's species would find aesthetically pleasing.
As for the sparks… Illyria turned her attention inward, frowning at a rather large ball of energy floating in the core of her shell. Somehow, it had withstood the fires of her resurrection and remained even when everything that made a human such had been destroyed. Then the frown on her lips became a slight smile as she realized what it was. Magic. The humans had learned to become more like her kind, and her host had a magical core within her. While they were still decidedly unimpressive compared to even the weakest of the demons of her army, perhaps the intervening years had allowed modern humans to become less pathetic than the ones Illyria had known, cowering in caves with crude weapons and requiring the protection of higher beings.
Her hand moved on to the last gem and Illyria eagerly absorbed the power stored in the second piece of milky quartz. Carefully directing the energy as it flooded her system, she wrapped thick strands of her own magic around her shell's magical core and then sent tendrils drilling into the ball of energy to bind it to her will.
When the last of the gems was finally depleted, Illyria thrust one hand out and a wooden rod jumped up off of the floor and into her grasp. Based on the shell's memories… the wooden rod was called a wand. She examined it curiously for a moment. It wasn't capable of channeling her power correctly; it was tuned to compliment her shell's power rather than their new combined magical signature. But the fact that humans not only had magic but also knew how to create proper focusing tools intrigued her. But while it wouldn't work properly for her… would it work well enough to be worth bringing with her? Or should she destroy it to keep someone from using it against her and leave the pieces behind? Illyria flicked the wand casually and sent the tiniest fragment of her power flowing through it. A bright ball of light emerged from the tip, driving shadows and the blue cast from the room with its fierce white radiance.
"This will do."
June 18, 1996
Slytherin Common Room
Hogwarts, Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom
Huffing, Daphne Greengrass crossed her arms over her chest before turning to glare at where her housemates were clustered around her half-sister in the middle of the Slytherin common room. Ever since they'd come skulking back in after their mysterious errand for Umbridge, the members of the Inquisitorial Squad had been… different. Subdued, and yet almost desperately hungry for news from the outside world. In their desperation, they'd turned to someone that they barely tolerated the presence of under normal circumstances, but… "Oh, for Merlin's sake. She's not a wizarding wireless, people, she's a seer. Sitting there staring at her isn't going to make her do something interesting."
"Not necessarily." Leaning back against the couch, Tracey Davis shot Daphne a grin before reaching up to toy with the top button of her white uniform blouse. "I can do plenty of interesting things while people sit here watching. Might not be the interesting thing they want, but they're still interesting…"
Daphne shuddered faintly at the thought of witnessing anything even remotely sexual involving her half-sister before shaking her head. "Pass. Besides, you're a 'disgusting little half-blood'. It'd be a waste of a show; none of the boys here want to touch you." Tracey narrowed her eyes at that, making Daphne shrug. "What? It's true."
The intense stare continued for a few more seconds and then the corner of Tracey's mouth quirked up. "Remind me again why I'm a half-blood? Oh, that's right. Because William Greengrass, head of the Ancient and Noble House of Greengrass, couldn't keep from cheating on his pureblood wife with my 'filthy muggle mother'." Letting one hand drift down, she trailed the tip of her index finger along the upper slope of her breast. "Evidently, when it comes down to it, blood comes in a distant second to a ruddy big pair of kno-" Tracey abruptly went silently, her mouth working for another second or two as her eyes rolled back in her head, and then her body began to jerk and shake wildly.
"Bloody hell, move! Clear the fucking couch!" As the rest of her housemates scrambled out of the way, Daphne caught Lilith O'Mochain's eye and jerked her head in Tracey's direction. Not that she didn't trust Pansy or Millicent to help her with her sister but… wait, no, that was exactly why she was leaning on Lilith. The brunette nodded and waited for Daphne to take hold of Tracey's shoulders and begin tipping her to the right before bending down and grabbing the girl's feet, helping Daphne guide her half-sister down onto her side on the couch. The two took up positions on the edges of the couch, keeping Tracey from rolling onto either her stomach or the floor… which meant Daphne was in just the right spot to notice as unnatural blue pigment began to creep out of Tracey's hairline, spreading under her skin. That was new… and worrisome.
Before she could put much thought into it, Tracey made a familiar - and utterly unwanted - wet, wheezing noise. Daphne barely had time to twist her hips, shifting her long legs out of the line of fire, and then her half-sister unleashed a torrent of blue-black vomit that splashed across the stone floor. The brunette sucked in a deep breath before vomiting again, the process repeating three more times before she finally dry heaved and then went limp against the back of the couch.
Silence reigned for almost a minute and then someone scoffed. "Well. That was vile."
"You're the one who wanted her to have a vision, Malfoy. Welcome to the aftermath." Daphne shot a look over at the blond before pointing her wand down at the disgusting mess that covered a not inconsiderable portion of the floor nearby. "Your vision, your vomit. Clean it up."
"And if I don't?"
"I'll hit you with an Impediment Jinx and then shove your face into it." Daphne held Draco's gaze until he threw his hands up in surrender and went to deal with the problem, and then turned back to Tracey as her half-sister let out a little whimper and began to stir. Reaching down, Daphne brushed the brunette's hair back away from her face, at which point she noticed the blueness was gone. Curiouser and curiouser. Leaning in, she waited for Tracey to open her eyes before lowering her voice. "Do you want me to take the memory from you and tell them what you saw?"
Tracey shook her head, and then groaned as her body rebelled at the sudden and rapid movement. "No. I… seeing it was bad enough. I wouldn't wish the memory on Parkinson, much less you."
Oh thank Merlin. Daphne hadn't exactly been wild about the idea of taking on a memory that had made Tracey react like that, but had figured she should offer for politeness's sake. "The Dark Lord?"
"Worse. Something darker. Eviler. I think… I think it was a demon. Whatever it was, it's horrible in a way that makes You-Know-Who look like a candle next to a bonfire. And I 'm not sure, but I think Loony Lovegood's involved with it all somehow…"
June 18, 1996
The Department of Mysteries
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
"She killed Sirius! She killed him… I'll kill her!"
And then Harry was off, scrambling up the stone benches. People were shouting behind him, but he didn't care. The hem of Bellatrix's black robe whipped out of sight ahead of him and he poured on the speed as he raced after her, narrowing the gap as they re-entered the Brain Room.
Bellatrix fired a curse back over her shoulder, tipping one of the brain-filled tanks over to obstruct his path. Harry was deluged in the foul-smelling potion inside as the brains slipped and slid over his body. Their long, colored tentacles began to spin through the air and wind around him, but Harry wrenched them from his body as he continued his pursuit. Wobbling unsteadily on the wet floors, he ran on toward the open door at the far end of the room.
He passed Luna, who was standing in another doorway looking oddly blue-tinged but otherwise unharmed. He passed Ginny, whose mouth moved but the words didn't register with Harry. He passed Ron, who giggled feebly and waved at him. He passed Hermione, who was still unconscious and lying in a heap on the floor. His friends had put their trust in him and this was what they got in return: pain and suffering. It reminded him exactly why he had tried to do this alone, and why he'd do things on his own in the future.
Racing through the doorway, Harry entered the circular black hall and saw Bellatrix disappearing through another door on the other side of the room. Beyond her was the corridor leading back to the lifts. He tried to follow but she slammed the door behind her and the walls began to rotate again. Once more, he found himself surrounded by streaks of blue light from the whirling candelabra. "Where's the exit? Where's the way out?"
In response, the door directly behind him flew open and Harry spun around. The corridor toward the lifts stretched ahead of him, torch-lit and empty. He ran.
Harry could hear a lift clattering ahead of him as he sprinted up the passageway, swung around the corner, and slammed his fist onto the button to call a second lift. He was dimly aware of soft footsteps behind him, but it didn't matter to him at the moment. Only Bellatrix mattered. Everything else was secondary. After what felt like an eternity, the lift arrived and Harry threw himself inside. Hammering the button marked Atrium, he waited impatiently for the doors to slide shut and then he was rising.
Before the grills were fully open, Harry forced himself out of the lift and into the Atrium. Looking around wildly, he soon spotted his quarry: Bellatrix was almost to the far end of the hall, and the lift that would lead up to the muggle telephone box and freedom. Glancing back over her shoulder, she spotted him sprinting toward her and chose to stop so she could fire a spell back at him. He dove into the cover provided by the Fountain of Magical Brethren as the bright bolt of light zoomed past him. When it impacted against the gold gates of the lift he'd taken up to the atrium, they rang like bells and Harry found himself wondering what the same spell might have done to him had it connected.
He could hear no more footsteps; their chase was over now and the battle just beginning. Harry crouched behind the statues, listening and thinking. With his line of sight disrupted, he found himself relying more on his ears and pondering the different sounds in the Atrium: his own soft and even breaths, Bellatrix's pants as she tried to catch her breath after her mad dash, and the jangling and thumping as the lift descended back into the bowels of the Ministry. He was in better shape than her despite making the same run; he probably had quidditch to thank for that. The lifts… it was just the two of them for now, but that would change. It left him in a difficult position: he wasn't particularly wild about engaging a witch of her caliber on his own but he couldn't assume that the next person up the lift would be on his side. And if there was one thing worse than a one-on-one fight with Bellatrix, it was a two-on-one fight with Bellatrix and another Death Eater as they hammered at him from opposite directions.
"Come out, come out, little Harry!" Bellatrix had adopted the same mocking, baby-like voice he'd heard her use earlier. It echoed eerily in the Atrium and Harry shivered. "What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin?"
The rage was growing, fed by Bellatrix's casual reference to the murder of the one remaining member of Harry's family who had given a damn about him. "I am!"
"Aww. Did you love him, little baby Potter?"
Hatred rose up inside Harry to a degree that he had never known before. Yes, he had loved Sirius. Even in just the two years he'd known the man, Sirius had been more of a family to Harry than the Dursleys had in the last fifteen. He was supposed to live with Sirius permanently someday. Like a real family would. And now all that was ruined, ruined by a horrible woman who had the gall to taunt him about it. Flinging himself out from behind the fountain, he found Bellatrix standing there only feet away, a mocking little smirk on her face. Raising his wand, he thrust it out at her. "Crucio!"
Bellatrix let out a scream as the spell knocked her off her feet, but she didn't writhe and shriek with pain as Neville had when she'd cast it on him. Within moments, she was back on her feet, breathless once more and no longer laughing at him. She loosed another spell and Harry was forced to dodge back behind the golden fountain for protection as the spell hit the head of the handsome wizard. The curse tore the head off the statue, sending it twenty feet through the air before slamming to the floor, gouging long scratches in the wood before coming to a stop. Yet again, Harry found himself wondering what she'd cast and what it would have done to him had it hit… but at the same time, very glad that it hadn't.
"Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?" The baby voice was gone now and he could hear Bellatrix's feet tapping back and forth as she paced, waiting for him to make a move. "You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain. To enjoy it. Righteous anger won't hurt me for long, you saw that. Maybe you'd like me to show you how it's done? I'll give you a lesson, shall I?"
Harry growled softly and fingered his wand. As if he knew the proper way to use an Unforgivable at his age and level of education. It wasn't exactly a Ministry-approved area of study at Hogwarts. His first attempt had gone well enough, at least in his opinion, and now that he knew what to do…
Focusing on his destroyed dreams… the prospect of another two summers with the Dursleys… the family holidays he'd never get to share with Sirius… Harry reached deep down inside himself and did something he thought he'd never dare try: he found the area where he shunted the emotions that came down the link from Voldemort when his scar burned, and he embraced them. A cruel smirk twisted his features and he stepped out from behind the fountain again. "Crucio!"
This time, the spell worked for him. Bellatrix collapsed, screaming and twitching on the floor of the Atrium. Remembering the demonstration given by Barty Crouch Junior the previous year, Harry held his wand on her as he closed the distance between them. She babbled pleas for mercy but he just stared down at her in silence. Even as he crossed this line, even as he used their own weapons against them, he wasn't like them. There would be no taunting, no mockery. This was vengeance, not entertainment for him.
"This is grief. I'm watching human grief. It's like offal in my mouth, yet even as bearing witness to your emotions disgusts me, the results amuse me so. Continue."
The spell ended as Harry's concentration was broken, and he whirled to see who had born witness to what he'd just done. He found himself face-to-face with someone who was very familiar, and yet at the same time, very alien to him. "Luna?"
"Luna Lovegood was this shell. I am Illyria."