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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

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  1. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    If you read any of the WOG that JKR wrote about how things worked, you soon find that she really doesn't care.


    She said in an interview, there's whatever the plot needs in Harry Potter. She doesn't worry about the lack of it being in before, even if it should have been.

    It's only us fans that try logic, and what things to be stable, within it's own world.
     
    EternitynChaos and Grimrr like this.
  2. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Since there has been a bit of activity on this, I thought I'd drop in for a moment to give a status update.

    I'm still working on the story, even though it's been slow going. The current section has simply not been cooperating, and when taken alongside a few eventful happenings in real life, including my mother dying back at the end of November... well, sorry about the delays.

    That said, on the story front, I've decided to break up the current chapter, closing chapter 3 after 3.14 and starting chapter 4 with what is currently 3.15. The story logic will be more cohesive with the events of this spring wrapped up with those of the coming summer rather than split at the end of the school year.

    The current chapter was already at 210k words with no end in sight, and I was getting a bit frustrated with it --- to the point that I was trying to cut out and gloss over things that really needed to be handled in the name of just ending the beast.

    After the split, Chapter 3 becomes the story of Harry dealing with the basilisk and Stonehenge, and Chapter 4 becomes the story of Harry (and the readers --- Frank's story is in here) getting a good, close eyeful of just why the wizarding world is in sore need of a good housecleaning (I'm tentatively giving Chapter 4 the title "A More Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy..."). In short, the chapters hang together better when split up.

    I think I was irrationally committed to maintaining a 1-year-1-chapter structure when I should have gone the route of the first chapter and broken it up at appropriate portions of the story.

    Thus there will be some edits of the existing numbering and a few shifts in the order of scenes in the already published work when I get around to them.

    I may also be adding a few small scenes (which I will post separately as well as in-situ edits as I write them) to already posted sections if I need to fill in for something I neglected to develop (the aftermath of Harry's discussion with Flame-Eye in 3.15.4 being a prime candidate).

    In any event, I'm still working, and on the topic of other posts:

    On the subject of Harry and Fleur, for that matter veela in general, I can tell you that he is quite immune to the charm, though it does have a rather interesting consequence on their interactions.

    The allure cannot affect Harry as intended on account of his near-immunity to magic.

    He can, however, see it. Although, perhaps "see Itt" might be a more appropriate turn of phrase.

    I'm glad you liked it.
     
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  3. QuietlyObserving

    QuietlyObserving Life is hard, sometimes.

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    Merlin's Pants.

    That's longer than every Harry Potter book except Order of the Phoenix.
     
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  4. wasprider

    wasprider Versed in the lewd.

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    Glad you got unblocked and are happier with the result.

    Condolences. Hope things have settled down a bit for you. RL is more important anyway.
     
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  5. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    My condolences.
     
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  6. SystemSearcher

    SystemSearcher "I fought the door and the door won"

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    Of course the number Pi causes a chapter to explode like that. The curse of mppi.
     
    CrazyMike likes this.
  7. Demonfir

    Demonfir Getting out there.

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    Well. Dang. Condolences... not much can be said to comfort.

    i will say you’ve done a wonderful job with everything you’ve done to recent. Not sure how I’ll track the additions or changes but that’s a low concern. Other than that just hope life cooperated and cooperates with ya.
     
  8. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Made some of the edits to the backlog, specifically:
    • Renumbered 3.15 and onward as the beginnings of Chapter 4
    • Moved the former section 3.15.2 to insert it into 3.14, as it went better with the chapter 3 subject matter
    • Inserted a new section (now 4.2.7) to introduce Harry's machining lessons, which had been overlooked in the shuffle but are needed to set up a few other things.
      4.2.7 Inadequate facilities

      “Hi there!”

      It was an otherwise unremarkable weekend, mere days after his discussion with Foundry Specialist Flame-Eye, and Hogwarts’ resident dragon found himself cheerfully greeting a serious-looking goblin who had shown up on the lip of his Lair.

      “Hello, Mr. Potter,” the goblin greeted his host. “I am Machinist Stoutknife, from the Logistics Corps. Foundry Specialist Flame-Eye arranged for me to tutor you in my craft.”

      “Oh, yeah, I’ve been expecting you! Thanks for coming so quickly,” Harry thanked the goblin. “Come on in, and I’ll show you to the workshop.” The dragon turned, carefully avoiding his comparatively diminutive visitor in the process and walked deeper into the Lair. “If you’ll come this way?”

      As the mismatched pair made their way deeper into the steadily growing cave system that was Harry’s Lair, Stoutknife spoke, “Flame-Eye mentioned that you have certain machining facilities that you wished to devote to the project you had discussed. In addition to tutoring you, he has asked me to evaluate their suitability.”

      Harry nodded his great scaly head. “That’s right. He had mentioned that your resources are pretty tight right now with all the upgrades, so I volunteered this one, since it’s my project as much as yours. It’s a big CNC lathe and mill combination I got to do some precision engraving on a rune project I was working on.” He paused apprehensively for a moment at the reminder, “Um, Flame-Eye’s not still angry at me for that, is he?”

      “No, Mr. Potter, while I can understand the Foundry Specialist’s frustration, I believe he has recovered his equilibrium,” the machinist replied. “Nor do I believe he was truly as angry as you seem to believe. The machine is yours to use as you see fit, and while engraving is an underutilization of the machine you have described, it is still within its design parameters.”

      “Then why did he seem so angry?” Harry asked as they approached the well-lit opening to his workshop.

      Stoutknife was silent for a moment as he attempted to formulate his response. “Perhaps the best explanation I can give is that, as you mentioned, resources have long been quite scarce among the Brethren, thus proper allocation is critically important.”

      “Okay…” the dragon prompted as they rounded the corner and came in sight of the machine in question.

      Stoutknife was silent for a long moment as he rounded the corner and caught sight of the machine in question. “I can understand his frustration indeed,” the goblin breathed before continuing in a louder voice. “A machine such as this is capable of tasks much more demanding than engraving. For your purposes, you had nothing else for it to do, so it was not a waste from your perspective. From Flame-Eye’s perspective, or mine for that matter, we are used to always having more work than the machinery can handle, so the idea of tying up such a machine doing things that a much lesser machine could handle seems almost criminally wasteful.”

      “Sorry about that, then,” the young dragon seemed to shrink in on himself. “I didn’t mean to mess up that badly.”

      “Do not worry, Mr. Potter,” the machinist assured him, “I will be pleased to instruct you on how best to utilize your equipment in the shop alongside the other techniques. Now,” he clapped his clawed hands together briskly, “Let us begin! Why don’t we fire up this beauty and get started?”

      “Right!” Harry agreed enthusiastically. “Just got to go start up my welder!”

      With that, the last Potter whirled his massive bulk with terrifying swiftness and set off back down the hall from whence they had come, leaving Stoutknife to look after him, puzzled.

      Soon, the quiet of the Lair was broken by the loud chattering growl of a diesel engine, and his host reappeared.

      “There, now we’ll have enough power to run the CNC!”

      The goblin in the room frowned. “Am I to understand that you are running this setup off a diesel welder?”

      Harry nodded. “It’s got a supplementary power takeoff so it can serve as a generator, too.”

      “I see,” Stoutknife said, rubbing at his chin thoughtfully. “That was the one next to the entrance?”

      Harry nodded.

      “That will not provide anywhere near enough power to actually push this equipment through its paces,” the machinist judged. “Nor will it let you run any of your manual machinery while the CNC is working. There simply isn’t enough power.”

      His host cocked a scaly eyebrow curiously, “Really? I got it working fine before.”

      “For engraving, possibly,” Stoutknife allowed. “I assume the workpiece was light?”

      The dragon nodded.

      “Anything large enough to take full advantage of this machine will be a much greater draw on the power system,” he explained. “Deep cuts to make injection molds will be particularly draining. Not to mention a full machine shop will have many machines running at once, both automated and manual. This setup will not work as you wish it to.”

      “Well, what should we do?” Harry asked, concerned.

      “You will either need to arrange for more power at this facility, or we will need to move the equipment elsewhere, Mr. Potter,” the machinist explained.

      “Well, I kinda don’t want to move this stuff too far from the Lair. How much power do we need?” the dragon asked, looking around speculatively. “I could get another of the welder generators, if I can figure out how to tie it in properly.”

      Stoutknife shook his head. “You would need at least a dozen of them, or a substantial tie into the electrical grid.”

      “Huh,” Harry grunted, a thoughtful frown on his massive face.

      As his host gave the situation some thought, Stoutknife occupied himself with examining the facilities the Great Wyrm of Hogwarts had managed to assemble. It was a fair spread. There was, of course, the behemoth CNC that dominated the room, and there was the collection of ancillary equipment that was in many cases still halfway wrapped in its packing material; presumably the recent order Flame-Eye had mentioned. However, Stoutknife was pleasantly surprised to see a fair collection of well used hand tools as well.

      The machinist picked up a small needle file, brushing off the steel filings as he did so before picking up another piece that had been next to it on the bench. It was a rectangular tool steel blank, filed into shape and then hardened in the shop, judging by the discoloration near the filed end. The boy had made a custom marking die, decent work, too. He looked at a few of the work pieces nearby, including a number of scraps of artfully shaped steel, looking like bare branches or possibly antlers, some even inlaid with gold foil or wire.

      Flame-Eye had given no indication the boy was interested in the more artistic side of the craft, but it would be some time before the shop would really be ready for proper use; perhaps this would be something to teach in the meantime. His musings were interrupted by the dragon in the room.

      “Um, I think I’m going to need to check with Mr. Slackhammer on what my options are for the workshop,” Harry said. “Is there anything we can work on in the meantime? I mean, the equipment will sort of work, right?”

      “It will work well enough to teach, yes,” Stoutknife agreed. “Though we will not be able to properly demonstrate. We could also unpack and set up one of the manual machines, though that would likely occupy this lesson in full. However, looking at some of your other work,” he gestured to the bench next to him. “Perhaps there is something more I could teach you in the meantime.”

      The young dragon, who had begun to frown at the delay, perked up curiously at the suggestion. “What did you have in mind, Mr. Stoutknife?”

      “I see you have been doing some rather intricate decorative metalwork here using hand tools,” the goblin began. “How would you like to further those skills?”

      “You mean my rune carving?” Harry asked. “I guess that was pretty neat; what would we be making next?”

      “Such skills have any number of applications, but I had thought to instruct you in one of my own hobbies, one which brings together a wide variety of stills.”

      A scaly brow rose in question.

      “How would you like to learn to make jewelry, Mr. Potter?”
      ]
    I'm making good progress on the next section.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  9. Ame

    Ame Know what you're doing yet?

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    Sounds like a good time to re-read. Guess I know what I'm doing while at work tomorrow.
     
  10. stads

    stads Know what you're doing yet?

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    good to hear the story is still in the works
    nice to see the tid bit with more info about his workshop
     
  11. wichajster

    wichajster Know what you're doing yet?

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    In unlikely case that you want beta reading, hunting for typos or something I would gladly help (yes, it is partially because getting to read it earlier would be nice - yes it is also because I want to help)
     
  12. Threadmarks: Section 4.5 - Seizing opportunities
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    4.5.0 Seizing opportunities

    Snape had come quickly when Hagrid had relayed the Headmaster’s urgent request for his presence, only taking the time to ensure his potions would keep safely until he could get back to them. Albus did not make such requests lightly; though the requested meeting location had rendered the potions master somewhat apprehensive. Hazard Laboratory 3 was hardly the most convenient venue, after all, and Albus would not have picked it on a whim.

    After putting the final touches on his currently active workstations, the sallow-faced man swept out of his personal laboratory and headed down the corridor towards the dark, half-hidden stairwell leading to the subbasement levels below the dungeons. The school’s magical hazard laboratories were located where they were for practical reasons; reasons which did not include convenience of access, one of the reasons the extensive facility was seldom used.

    Which would explain why the dark man found his fellow Heads milling about rather aimlessly outside the door to the facility when he arrived.

    “And what is this?” Snape demanded of his colleagues. “The summons was quite clear in its urgency.”

    “Ah, well, you see,” Filius began sheepishly, “none of us actually know where to find Hazard Laboratory 3, other than that it is in there somewhere.” The diminutive man gestured to the door.

    “None of you?” a dark eyebrow rose skeptically on Snape’s sallow face. “My employment package included a schematic of the facility, and I can imagine yours did as well…”

    “Ah, Severus, that may be the case,” Sprout interjected sheepishly. “But I’m afraid you are the youngest of us, and it has been a number of decades since any of us reviewed our employment documentation. Would you happen to be willing to guide us?”

    “Come,” the potions master replied tersely, opening the nondescript door on the landward side of Subbasement Level 3 and striding confidently into the narrow stone hallway beyond. Unlike his colleagues, whose research tended to be rather tame as far as magical research went, his more volatile potions research required the security of the research facility from time to time.

    The other three Heads followed quickly, forced to proceed single file behind their guide through the winding tunnel that seemed to be hewn out of solid bedrock. The waving patterns of the native schist seen under the illumination of a lighting charm adding a dizzying element to the already confusing trip as their guide led them through a series of splits in the corridor, choosing directions seemingly at random.

    “This is like a maze,” Sprout commented at yet another turn. “Whyever did the founders make everything so confusing?”

    “It is a maze,” came Snape’s terse reply. “These rooms are intended for hazardous magical experimentation, so they are built to keep any unpleasant results of such contained until they can be dealt with.”

    “True,” Flitwick spoke up in agreement. “I am familiar with the general design, if not the specifics of how to navigate the maze — which is why I counseled that we avoid entering without a guide. The hallway twists to prevent any clear line of sight from within a room to the outside, the walls, floor and ceiling are at least a solid dozen yards of living bedrock to help contain explosions or odd magical effects, and the corridors are narrow and intentionally similar-looking to make them more difficult to navigate for any accidentally summoned extradimensional monstrosities.” The half-goblin shook his head in admiration, “These are some of the finest facilities for basic magical research in the whole of Europe.”

    “Indeed, they are,” Minerva agreed. “Though it makes me somewhat nervous to consider the reasons that Albus might have called us so urgently to a place specifically designed to contain the results of poking what ought not be poked.”

    As the stern Scotswoman finished her statement, the barely a meter wide corridor suddenly widened more than twenty-fold into the cavernous expanse of Hazard Laboratory 3, and she and her three colleagues were temporarily rendered mute by the scene before them.

    Laid out neatly in the gleaming silver of a runesmith’s grease pencil, runes and connecting markings covered the majority of the expansive stone floor. A slightly closer examination by the practiced eyes of the Hogwarts senior faculty soon made it clear that the markings formed two separate arrays.

    At the center of one array lay an unconscious redheaded girl — a first-year Gryffindor, by her uniform — currently being tended by the school Healer. At the center of the other lay a slim leather-bound book embossed with a name in gold leaf on the cover, the unassuming appearance of which was at odds with the sight of the premier wizard of Europe, grease-pencil in his silver-smudged hand, busily elaborating and expanding on the already byzantine inscriptions surrounding it.

    Even more than the troubling choice of venue and the impressive runework, the Headmaster’s uncharacteristic choice to prioritize of a book of all things over his apparently injured student made for an ominous tableau, indeed.

    “As should be obvious from our surroundings, this is not a typical meeting,” Albus Dumbledore addressed his four subordinates without preamble — without even looking up from what he was doing to acknowledge their arrival physically, in fact — scribbling away the entire time. “I am afraid we have a great deal of urgent business to discuss.”

    “What has happened to Miss Weasley?” Minerva McGonagall broke in insistently, pausing only for a moment to process the situation before her ingrained sense of duty as the girl’s Head of House prompted her to take action.

    “I am currently treating her for magical exhaustion,” Poppy volunteered from her place at the girl’s side.

    “How ever did she manage that?” the girl’s Head of House asked incredulously. “Nothing in the lesson plans called for heavy casting…” The Scotswoman frowned thoughtfully as another thing occurred to her. “For that matter, why is she being treated here, rather than the infirmary?”

    “She exhausted herself by casting a killing curse at Mr. Potter,” Albus declared simply, “and the girl is being treated here because I strongly suspect she did so under the influence of possession.”

    At that pair of revelations, Minerva fell into a shocked silence.

    “Suspected possession, an inverted containment array around the girl, and…” Flitwick trailed off momentarily as he carefully examined the runic array the Headmaster was still in the process of constructing. “I know your current project has something to do with containment, though you’ve added a great deal to it with which I am unfamiliar, Albus. The book was made into a conduit then — a remote targeting aid allowing someone to bypass the wards?”

    “Well-reasoned, but not quite accurate, Filius,” Albus grunted as he straightened from his crouched position and carefully picked his way over to the other side of the array, robes hiked up to keep from smudging his earlier work. “It is not a conduit, rather it is a container.”

    “A container capable of possessing someone?” Filius asked incredulously. “Are you certain? I could see a self-contained compulsion enchantment, but a construct capable of even temporarily overriding a sapient mind on its own seems rather far-fetched. I’ve never heard of such a thing without the direct intervention of an active spellcaster.”

    “It is not a construct, is it?” Snape interjected, dark eyes narrowed with suspicion as he stared at the diary at the center of the array.

    “Regretfully, no, it is not,” the elderly wizard confirmed absently, still busily working at his runes.

    “A phylactery then?” Severus asked calmly, though his whiter-than-normal complexion and even thinner than usual lips belied his calm demeanor.

    “No, I’m afraid it is nothing quite so… innocent,” Albus denied with a wince.

    Filius, who had already begun fingering his wand at the mention of the word ‘phylactery’, now clutched it in a white-knuckled grasp and sported a downright murderous expression. “Someone has created a horcrux?”

    “As near as I can determine, yes,” the Headmaster confirmed with a sigh, looking up as he finally completed the last of the runes.

    “I’m afraid I am unfamiliar with the term, ‘horcrux’,” Sprout spoke up, breaking her own uneasy silence for the first time. “Certainly, I’ve read enough of the old tales to know what a phylactery is, but what is a horcrux, and how is it different?”

    “Where a phylactery stores the entirety of a wizard’s soul in a container,” Filius explained, “a horcrux splits a soul between the original body and an external container.”

    The Hufflepuff Head frowned in puzzlement. “How is that worse than a phylactery?”

    “From the perspective of the Brethren, the difference lies in the creation,” the half-goblin answered. “Creating a phylactery involves the caster horribly mutilating himself, ripping out his own soul. It is evil, to be certain — a horrific perversion and a crime against everything good and decent in the world — but it is a crime perpetrated upon the caster’s own person. The creation of a horcrux is not nearly so self-contained, with the ritualistic murder of an innocent comprising perhaps the least objectionable part of it.”

    Sprout paled, looking a bit green around the gills. “Why on earth would anyone do such a thing?” she asked.

    “As you are undoubtedly aware from those old tales you mentioned, Pomona,” Albus spoke up once again, “phylacteries have their own disadvantages — vulnerability to control chief among them. The phylactery contains the soul of the wizard who made it — the seat of their will. Consequently, should anyone else come to physically possess the phylactery, it is a simple matter to utterly enslave the one who made it — completely and quite permanently.”

    “Yes, I remember that from the children’s tales,” the herbology professor allowed. “How is this ‘horcrux’ different, then?”

    “Rather than store the soul in an external object, the horcrux ritual creates an anchor for it,” the elderly wizard continued his explanation as he once more reviewed the runes he had written earlier. “One might say that it ‘splits’ the soul between multiple physical containers simultaneously. Thus, in order to achieve the same level of control over a wizard who has made horcruxes rather than a phylactery, every horcrux must be gathered — a task rendered all the more difficult by the fact that the caster makes himself into a horcrux through the initial ritual.”

    “So, with the horcrux method, controlling the wizard requires not only acquiring their soul anchors, but also capturing the wizard himself anyway,” Pomona summarized. “I can see where that would be an advantage, but to split one’s soul? What would possess someone to think that was a good idea?” The witch frowned as another thought occurred to her. “For that matter, how is such a thing even possible?”

    “I would presume it has something to do with the vile actions prescribed by the rituals,” Flitwick ventured tentatively. “Perhaps actions of sufficient depravity damage the soul of the one performing them?”

    “It is not truly…” Albus paused, closing his eyes and bowing his head in consideration. “Perhaps my earlier words were ill-chosen,” the elderly wizard allowed. “Creating a horcrux does not truly divide a soul into distinct pieces, rather it stretches it and pins the stretched bit to a new object. Even as blackened as the practitioner’s soul becomes, it remains integral — a distinction which makes a great deal of sense if you consider the application; an anchor is useless if you cut it loose from its ship, after all.”

    All four Heads nodded at that comparison as the Headmaster continued. “As for the vile actions you mentioned, Filius, those arose out of the development of the ritual.”

    The half-goblin perked up with interest, “You know its origins?”

    Albus nodded, elaborating, “As you are all aware, a spell is a structure of magic which produces a particular result; however, while we have developed general means of shaping magic into arbitrarily chosen structures, as of yet we have developed no general means of predicting which magical structure would result in a given effect. All such mappings have been developed by observation — repeated instances of ‘try this and see what happens’.”

    The elderly wizard sighed, “For this reason, developing spells from first principles is an exceedingly difficult task; we are painting in the dark, as it were. Most ‘new’ spells are, in fact, incremental alterations or clever combinations of previously existing ones eventually tracing back through their developmental history to some useful accident. Dark magic is no different; in fact, it often borrows from existing magic even more blatantly than usual, given the general dearth of patience among its more avid practitioners.”

    As his audience listened raptly, Albus let out a mirthless chuckle. “In the case of the development of horcruxes, Herpo the Foul combined two spell lines in the sort of inelegant hack job that typifies most of the uglier forms of dark magic. The first was the line which developed the phylactery, a series of spells used to bind souls to physical objects as if they were real bodies — originally refined during research into making improved magical prosthetics, oddly enough. The second was an ancient and only very rarely used form of magical marriage rite.”

    “What sort of marriage rite requires that sort of depravity, Albus?” Filius demanded, horrified.

    “The marriage rite requires no such thing, Filius,” the Headmaster was quick to clarify. “Rather, that was introduced as a means of desecrating and breaking the bond formed by the marriage. You see, the marriage ceremony in question exchanges a portion of the souls of the two participants, again not by severing, but by stretching out — effectively making each into a horcrux for the other.”

    The elderly wizard’s expression darkened. “Rather than attempting to isolate and reverse-engineer this soul-stretching magic, the horcrux ritual takes the lazy approach, simply using the marriage ritual almost unchanged to stretch out the soul of the practitioner. The nascent marriage bond is then severed before it can truly settle into place, with the phylactery spells used to anchor the stretched-out bit of the caster’s soul to a previously-prepared object.”

    “That… makes a disturbing amount of sense,” the half-goblin said, looking rather sick to his stomach. “So, all the perverse symbolism, the mocking pantomime of hospitality leading up to deliberate betrayal and murder… all of it is intended to break a soul-deep bond quickly and irrevocably. I take it the innocent sacrifice is the would-be spouse?”

    “Indeed, Filius,” Dumbledore confirmed.

    The room fell silent for a time, only Poppy bustling about in the background, skillfully tending to her patient. Each of the professors seemed to be handling the information differently. Filius looked to be caught between contemplation and nausea, and Pomona looked much the same, cupping her chin thoughtfully as she slowly slipped further toward the contemplative side of things. Minerva’s attention was focused on Poppy’s actions and her patient, perhaps unsurprisingly as the first-year girl was one of her students. Albus, for his part, busied himself with an exhaustive review of the runes he had recently finished writing, periodically making a small correction here and there as he progressed through the design.

    Snape, on the other hand, had looked thoughtful for short time before his dark eyes had widened in realization. His expression had then flickered rapidly through a variety of emotions before ultimately settling on coldly murderous as he followed his epiphany through to its natural conclusion. The sallow-faced man made to break the silence to ask a question before he appeared to think better of it. Confirmation could wait for another time, if he still wanted it.

    So it was that Pomona was the first to break the silence.

    “It strikes me that the marriage ritual you mentioned seems to have a great many advantages,” she spoke up. “If your spouse serves as an anchor, then wouldn’t you always be able to revive so long as your spouse survived? You would never have widows or widowers! If the ritual itself is not distasteful — and you implied that it is not, Albus — then whyever did it fall out of use?”

    “Hmm?” the elderly wizard looked up from his task. “Oh, it is simply that joining souls in such a way has a long list of deleterious side effects which greatly outweigh the benefits.”

    “What could be so terrible as to outweigh effective immortality?” the herbology professor asked incredulously.

    “It varied between individuals,” Albus said simply. “The most immediate issue was generally one of communication. Surprising though it might seem given the oft-cited need for communication in a marriage, there are some things better left unsaid. A soul-deep bond often exposes surface thoughts to the other participant, meaning it is difficult to leave anything at all unsaid. It takes a special sort of person to forge a successful relationship in the face of that level of tactlessness. When added to the fact that there can never be any reprieve, temporary or otherwise — no way to step back from the situation to gain perspective — well, it is a rare couple that can take the stress and make things work anyway.”

    “Oh, dear!” Sprout exclaimed in understanding before frowning. “I can see why it fell out of favor.”

    “Quite so,” the white-bearded old man agreed. “According to the surviving records, the typical marriage using the rite consisted of several months of delirious joy followed by a rapid collapse into abject misery which normally ended in a murder-suicide.”

    He sighed with a sad shake of his head. “Among those few hardy souls that managed to endure the stress of unrestrained communication for long enough, there were additional complications that showed up over time, chiefly related to the blurring of identities and the long-term consequences of any significant disparity in magical power between spouses. As I recall, the longest lasting such union — at least the longest on record — lasted some fifteen years before the participants died.”

    Finally reaching the end of her patience with the ongoing discussion of what to her seemed irrelevant minutiae, Minerva broke in.

    “That is all well and good, Albus,” the irritable Scotswoman began, “but why have you called us down here? And, more importantly, why is Miss Weasley being treated here, rather than the infirmary? Surely the urgent business you mentioned earlier was not simply an excuse to give us a lecture on obscure magics?”

    “Of course, Minerva!” Albus exclaimed sheepishly. “I’m afraid I have let myself be caught up in scholarly pursuits when we should be focused on the practical — my apologies. Yes, the hazard laboratories are an unusual choice of venue; however, the acquisition of the horcrux responsible for Miss Weasley’s affliction has afforded us an unexpected opportunity — an opportunity I am loath to waste.”

    All four of the Heads perked up at their superior’s businesslike tone as they waited for him to finish his explanation.

    “While control of the perpetrator is off the table for the reasons discussed earlier, we do have access to the one responsible — admittedly limited access, to be sure, but access all the same — and he is currently in a vulnerable state.” The elderly wizard gestured to the book lying innocently in the focal point of his runic system. “I believe we should take this opportunity to… question him.”

    “Question him?” Filius asked. “And the runes?”

    Vigorously question him,” Albus clarified.

    “What do you need us to do?”

    4.5.1 The unforgiving minute

    A long heartbeat passed with Gilderoy Lockhart frozen in place, staring at the tableau framed by his open door.

    The three visitors were the very image of the worst-case scenario that had haunted his nightmares for the past several weeks. Dreadful visions of everything in his life tumbling down around his ears before he was unceremoniously thrown into Azkaban flashed before his eyes.

    Yet, dreadful as the sight was, it was not unexpected, and Gilderoy had not been idle in the face of his nightmares. Thus, despite his horror at the prospect, only the barest of moments passed before the former obliviator’s mind kicked into high gear, the world seeming to slow around him — a perception aided in no small part by the massive dose of magically enhanced adrenaline that was already pouring into his bloodstream. He breathed in, the slight noise loud in his own ears as his wizard body rapidly geared itself up for fight or flight, as needed. Through it all, his well-practiced smile remained in place by sheer force of habit as the blonde man swiftly ran through his options.

    The two aurors were the most immediate threat, Gilderoy decided, his eyes rapidly flicking to each in turn, taking in their appearances and equipment. The wizarding special operations soldiers outclassed him in combat by a wide margin — he had seen their compatriots in action often enough during his time with the obliviators to know that quite well.

    That said, they were undercover, and thus without their usual enchanted and armored robes. So long as he struck first and decisively, he reasoned that he should have a sliver of a chance at victory. Gilderoy blinked in momentary consideration before revising his estimate to a very thin sliver of a chance, and his actions would have to be very decisive indeed. Aurors were well-trained in cooperative combat, and would act to support each other immediately, given the slightest chance to respond. He would have to take steps to separate them if he didn’t want that thin path to victory to vanish entirely.

    That said, he could hardly afford to ignore the witch, either. The blond’s eyes turned to his third opponent as he began to release that first breath, considering her appearance. She was vaguely familiar — she had probably been involved in his exams back in school, if he had to hazard a guess — but he didn’t recognize her well enough to positively identify her.

    Despite that, he could see enough to know to be cautious. Blue eyes narrowed ever so slightly. The woman was old, and magicals only got to be that old if they were powerful. She might not be a practiced combatant — though that was by no means a safe assumption — but even if she wasn’t that didn’t mean she could be safely dismissed as harmless, not by any means.

    Two highly trained opponents and a third unknown would pose a stiff challenge for nearly any wizard, even ones skilled in combat. Gilderoy entertained no delusions about being one of those wizards, but he did have one meager advantage…

    Surprise.

    His opponents should have no reason to believe he was expecting them, so they would likely go along with anything that would aid them in setting their ambush, unless he tipped them off prematurely. To that end, he assumed conscious control over his well-practiced smile and got to work.

    “Hello,” he greeted, his voice and posture carefully modulated despite his furious planning and still skyrocketing pulse. “I must admit, I cannot say I was expecting any visitors today, let alone official ones. What can I do for the Ministry this afternoon?”

    Careful to avoid any change to his demeanor, the former obliviator rapidly ran through plans of attack as fast as his massively accelerated brain — now soaked in what would have been lethal amounts of adrenaline for a nonmagical human — could formulate them.

    “If you would be so kind as to spare us a moment of your time, Mr. Lockhart, we would like discuss some things that have come to our attention,” the stern older witch said politely. “Perhaps half an hour?”

    Despite the desperate situation, as one professional liar to another, Gilderoy couldn’t help admiring her performance. Her calm voice betrayed not the slightest hint of the incipient violence he knew was to come. For all the tells she had, he would have thought they were here for a friendly cup of tea. It was an impressive feat… and a troubling one.

    He bumped his internal threat assessment of the old woman up accordingly. The sort of mental discipline necessary to compartmentalize her intentions in such a way translated quite well into magical ability. As far as covert snatch teams went, this one was top-notch; it was a good thing he had been forewarned.

    “I suppose my afternoon schedule is flexible enough to indulge you,” the blond man allowed in a friendly tone, finally settling on a course of action. “Do come in!” Stepping aside and gesturing to the few chairs arranged around a small round table which he kept for visiting students.

    His visitors entered readily, as he had expected them to — normally, moving into the office would only benefit their cause. Getting past the door frame removed his only real opportunity for cover; coming to the table closed the range; and a closed door behind them would eliminate any chance that a passing student might notice the arrest.

    As the group drew even with him on their way to the seating area, Gilderoy gestured to the second auror and handed him a golden opportunity to cement that last advantage. “Would you mind closing the door while I prepare some tea?”

    As the man nodded agreeably and turned to the task, Gilderoy struck. Still at point blank range, he shot a stunning curse into the back of the first auror, dropping him immediately before repeating the action on the old witch who had just barely started to turn towards him when she lost consciousness and fell to the floor.

    Whirling as fast as his adrenaline-flushed magical reflexes could carry him, the blond was still almost too slow, barely managing to catch the second auror with a third stunner as the man whirled about from where he had been closing the door at the first hint of hostile magic behind him. With a thud, his third visitor was down and out. Wasting no time, a gesture from his wand closed the door the rest of the way, assuring him privacy for at least a few minutes.

    He then slumped against the corner of his desk, barely able to remain standing.

    “Thank Merlin… for that… dueling club!” Gilderoy wheezed in between gasping desperately for air and exhausted trembling as he came down from his adrenaline high and his body struggled to pay back the energy debt it had put him in. Without it — or more accurately, without the practice he had put in since then in hopes that he might avoid that nightmarish variant of the disarming charm Snape had described — he never would have managed to get those stunners off fast enough.

    As he slowly caught his breath and his involuntary shaking stilled, Gilderoy took a moment to look down at his unconscious would-be captors and shake his head, regretful that it had come to this point before sighing and setting about his business just as he had planned ahead of time.

    There would be time enough for regrets later, but unless he did everything right in the next few hours…

    He shuddered once more, this time for reasons entirely unrelated to his recent exertions.

    Unless he did everything right in the next few hours, when that ‘later’ came, there would be time for nothing else.

    4.5.2 Nascent concerns

    Abigail looked up from her reading for the fourth time in the last few minutes to look at the chair across from her usual spot at the library table she normally shared with Harry and Hermione. It was the seat normally occupied by the boisterous dragon she happily called her friend.

    Normally being the operative term, for at the moment, the seat remained stubbornly empty, just as it had been the last three times she had looked. It was unlike Harry to be so late. Generally, it was a toss-up whether she or the young dragon would show up first at the table, varying according to their respective schedules for the day, but even on those days where she did arrive first, she normally had ten minutes at most before Harry joined her. Today, he was nearly half an hour late — late enough that even Hermione had beaten him to the table, and given the second-year Gryffindors’ schedule for the term and the bushy-haired girl’s habitual tendency to stay after her classes to ask questions, that took some doing.

    As a result, the older girl was growing rather concerned. The last time he’d been so late had been nearly a year previous, and that was when he had ended up unconscious for weeks on end. That had been a thoroughly unpleasant time — one which Abigail had precisely zero interest in revisiting — yet she was beginning to fear that her draconic friend had might have arranged for a reprise.

    She was thus rather inordinately pleased to see her friend’s frowning countenance as he passed through the door into the library. To be sure, the frown was unusual, but a frown was not nearly as bad as her fears.

    “Harry!” the older girl greeted her friend in a stage-whisper as soon as he got close enough. It wouldn’t do to anger Madame Pince, no matter how relieved she was. “Where have you been?”

    “I ran into something in the hallway that I had to deal with,” the young dragon explained in a similarly low voice, nodding a friendly greeting to his human damsel who had looked up from her own reading at Abigail’s words. “I ended up taking it to Mr. Dumbledore and letting him handle it.”

    “What happened?” Hermione asked curiously.

    “It wasn’t really anything all that important,” Harry dismissed the question with an indifferent wave of his hand. “It just took a few minutes longer than it should have ‘cause I had to go all the way to the Headmaster’s office and argue with the gargoyle to let me in. I can tell you about it later if you want, but… um, if you don’t mind, though,” the dragon’s currently human-shaped face took on a somewhat concerned frown, “I think I’d like to talk something over with you two that I’m kinda confused about.”

    “Of course, Harry,” Abigail agreed immediately, carefully marking her place in her current book before closing it and focusing her attention on her draconic friend, her actions quickly echoed, if somewhat reluctantly when it came to putting down her book, by her bushy-haired compatriot. “What did you want to talk about?”

    “Well, before I came here, I stopped by to talk about something with Donald,” Harry began, “and he told me…”

    And so, he explained.

    4.5.3 Vigorous questioning

    Dark eyes blinked at the sudden influx of light as the rune-covered stone floor of the dimly lit hazard laboratory that had sat before them suddenly dissolved into rough-hewn wooden planks brightly illuminated by brilliant daylight. Fingertips that had just been touching the stone it had so abruptly replaced gave the planks an exploratory rub before their owner straightened from his hunched position and looked up.

    “Hmm,” Severus Snape hummed as he surveyed the surreal landscape surrounding him, “that went more smoothly than I had anticipated.”

    He found himself kneeling upon a sturdy wooden platform, the surface of which lay perhaps fifty feet above an endless plane of what appeared to be dull gray stone that stretched away as far as his eye could see to either side of him. In front of him, the sweeping vista was interrupted by a massive, pinkish-white cliff face which stretched all the way across his field of vision.

    “Now what am I to make of this, I wonder?” the potions master mused as he surveyed the scene.

    Before he had knelt to take his place in Albus’ aggressive interrogation scheme, the elderly wizard had taken the time to explain a little of what to expect.

    “I have designed the runic system to accept energy and direction from the four of you,” the Headmaster had said, gesturing to the side of the runic inscription between the book and Poppy’s patient. “You will take your places there, and if the process proceeds as intended, the residual link to his victim will draw the contained soul to flee in that direction. The runes should allow you to serve as an effective anvil while I play the hammer.”

    He gestured again to the opposite side of the inscription. “Between the metaphysical leverage I’ve built into the runes and our combined strength, I believe I will be able to extract at least some useful information before rendering this portion of the perpetrator permanently catatonic.”

    Even though he had little occasion to use such runic constructs in his chosen field, his colleagues used such often enough that Snape was familiar with the basic methodology. The runic systems needed for such things were already byzantine, and further specifying a precise user interface was asking for trouble. Instead, such constructs almost always used dynamically generated interfaces, the basics specified in the broadest possible terms within the runes while the user filled in the specifics via their own subconscious. This so-called adaptive interface methodology was comparatively much simpler to implement, if rather more confusing to operate, than the fully deterministic alternative.

    As far as mental interfaces went, he supposed the endless plane of stone wasn’t too bad; however, he was having some difficulty reconciling the scene before his eyes with the Headmaster’s hammer and anvil imagery. The implication had been that Snape and his colleagues were to serve as some form of restraint for the subject, and that begged the question…

    If he was to restrain the subject, where was the subject to be restrained?

    It took another thirty seconds of puzzled observation before the potions master’s eyes widened as he managed to wrap his mind around the sheer scale involved and discerned the true nature of the pinkish-white cliff face before him.

    The potions master’s sallow face paled even more than usual as he worked his suddenly dry mouth. That “cliff face” was in fact the visible profile of a prone humanoid form, a form of utterly gargantuan proportions. Luckily, the titan seemed to be asleep and — he noted as he calmed enough from the shock of realization to start cataloguing the rest of the scene — seemed to be bound in place rather thoroughly.

    An extensive webwork of ropes — seemingly hair thin to his eye, but given the distances involved probably as thick as his own waist — passed over and around the enormous figure. The hawsers frequently dropped down to loop through thousands of great iron rings — each one several times the size of a man and firmly anchored in the stone below.

    As his eyes traced the convoluted path of the heavy ropes, Snape eventually determined that the entire mess terminated within the wooden construction upon which he stood. As he turned his examinations closer to home, he found a large capstan which had escaped his initial notice by virtue of being behind him.

    “A winch, then? Well, that seems straightforward enough,” the potions master mused. “Best make sure, though.”

    Setting his weight to the task, the potions master gripped one of the capstan’s smooth wooden arms and gave it an experimental turn. The massive wooden device turned readily, creaking and rumbling as it drove the attached winch, which in turn slowly took up the slack in the web of ropes. The small but insistent tug at his magic accompanying the effort was all the confirmation needed.

    Snape straightened with a relieved sigh, now certain of his role, and leaned against the central hub of the device to wait for the signal to begin, whatever that signal would be. Given the grand scale employed so for, it would probably be difficult to miss.

    However, that left Snape at loose ends for however long it took his colleagues to prepare themselves, giving him time to reflect — a dangerous prospect given the ugly subject matter of the earlier discussion. Horcruxes were bad enough business on their own, but the context had called to mind something else, something that made the whole business strike alarmingly close to home for the dour potions master.

    The Headmaster’s description of the horcrux creation ritual had called to mind a long-standing mystery, one that had captured his attention immediately and persistently, never falling far from his thoughts over the decade and change since it had occurred.

    What precisely had happened in Godric’s Hollow on that fateful Halloween night in 1981?

    For most, it was a happy accident, and the old adage about not looking a gift horse in the mouth held sway. Per the official account, Voldemort had broken into the Potter house at Godric’s Hollow. He had then proceeded to kill first James Potter, then proceeded quickly to kill Lily, and then finally attempted to kill Harry, somehow managing to die in the process.

    All neat, simple, and, to anyone who had known all three of the adults involved personally, patently absurd.

    After being seduced into joining Voldemort’s band of thugs, Severus had quickly become unfortunately familiar with Voldemort’s monstrous proclivities. The man was a sadist of the highest order — practically a demon in human form — and he never missed an opportunity to impress that fact on his potions master, much to Severus’ lingering horror.

    Even now, looking back on the experience years later, Snape could not divine Voldemort’s motivation for doing so. Perhaps it had been an attempt at intimidation to keep Snape cowed and obedient. It could have been a form of gloating, Voldemort forcing his recalcitrant subordinate to witness his depravity and grind Snape’s inability to escape the situation into the dour man’s face. He had once even considered the possibility that the Dark Lord had taken him along in a twisted parody of kindness, seeking to share his twisted hobby with his subordinate — a sort of psychopathic offer of friendship.

    Regardless of the man’s reasoning, however, it did not change the fact that the potions master had found himself dragged along to several nearly identical situations in the past, and he knew just how the sick bastard behaved when he set out to murder an entire family. Severus knew full well that the Dark Lord would never squander such an opportunity for mayhem.

    Snape’s expression went wooden as he forced down the horrifying memories with an act of long practiced will.

    Had Voldemort his druthers, the man would likely have kept both James and Lily alive long enough to force them to watch while he tortured their child to death in front of them before even starting on the couple. Oh, to be sure, the Voldemort Snape had known might have chosen some warped variation on the theme — using magic to force one parent to murder the infant with his or her own hands or some other, ghastlier depravity — but never would he have taken the simple and forthright approach of methodically killing everyone in the house as he encountered them without some sort of macabre theater.

    It would never have occurred to him as a possible course of action; it simply wasn’t in the man’s nature.

    What had changed?

    Snape’s first thought had been one of practicality — that somehow James Potter or Lily had posed a threat to the monster and were dispatched accordingly — but that potential explanation had quickly run aground on one small, hard unpleasant truth: neither James nor Lily presented anything even vaguely resembling a threat to the man.

    The Dark Lord was a supremely powerful wizard, in the same league as Dumbledore — the sort of monstrous creature so far beyond the average wizard as to be essentially untouchable in any contest of magical might. Snape would grudgingly admit — if only in the privacy of his own mind and never aloud — that James Potter had been a strong wizard, but in the end, Potter had lived in the same realm of power as the potions master himself, and Snape could not have hoped to face Voldemort in a straight fight. The same went for Lily — even for both James and Lily acting in concert, for that matter.

    Over the years, Severus had considered the problem from every angle he could imagine, yet he had been unable to come to a satisfactory explanation. No motive he could imagine would account for Voldemort’s behavior that night, and he had remained confused until just half an hour ago when Albus had described the horcrux ritual, and the fog had cleared, leaving behind a state of dreadful clarity.

    The ritual required a sacrifice, and though he hadn’t laid it out in as many words, Albus had described it as a perversion of a marriage ritual. Thus, it followed that the sacrifice in question almost certainly had to be available for marriage. Suddenly, the quick and relatively clean execution of James Potter made eminent sense.

    Denying his twisted appetites to no further purpose was something beyond the limits of that sadistic monster’s self-control, but denying them to fulfill a ritual requirement?

    Snape grimaced at the all too plausible thought.

    The sickening idea had then all but confirmed itself when in the flickering lightshow that accompanied the activation of Albus’ runic construct, Severus had caught a glimpse of the name embossed on the cover of the diary at their center.

    Tom Marvolo Riddle.

    That was a name all too familiar to the potions master. It was the true name of a man who had skillfully seduced a teenaged boy into joining a depraved political movement before fully understanding its goals and methods. It was the name of a man who had entrapped that boy and gloated over his predicament. It was the name of the man who had ruined his life and driven him to despair — a true name that had been revealed to Severus as a calculated gesture to inspire undeserved trust in a gullible teenager.

    He looked up at the still quiescent behemoth lying prone before him with a murderous glower. As a result of the last, Severus was one of the precious few souls who could connect that name directly to the man’s more widely known nom de guerre.

    Voldemort.

    It had been confirmation enough, and now with time to wait and his mind idle, he couldn’t help but speculate on his newfound realization. Filius had been so vehemently disgusted at the merest hint of the presence of a horcrux, citing the nature of its creation as the reason. What sort of things were involved in that ritual? What heinous requirements had earned the undying disgust of the entire goblin nation?

    The knuckles of his already clenched hand whitened further.

    Just what else had that monster done to Lily before she was ultimately murdered? Could he even handle knowing?

    Could he handle remaining in the dark?

    Severus was stirred from his increasingly black musings, by the sudden flicker of shadow which heralded the arrival of a second giant on the endless plane of stone, this one wakeful, upright, and thoroughly terrifying, on account of both its sheer scale and the utterly colossal sledgehammer it handled as easily as Snape might handle his stirring rod.

    Albus Dumbledore had entered the construct.

    It seemed the interrogation was about to begin, and as the potions master turned to set his shoulder to the capstan in anticipation of his coming task, he smiled a nasty sort of smile.

    Judging from the heroically proportioned sledgehammer that whistled through the air as the mountainous avatar of the old wizard tested his swing, this promised to be a viscerally satisfying experience. Riddle had been responsible, directly or indirectly, for far too much pain in his life, and this seemed a prime opportunity for some well-deserved revenge — not as good as it would have been to swing the hammer himself, of course, but failing that, holding his erstwhile tormentor down so Albus could work him over would do… it would do nicely.

    As he steeled himself for the coming effort, the potions master idly wondered what it said about him that his interface to the runes — an interface built from his own subconscious mind — promised to be so horrifically bloody. To be sure, forcibly extracting information from someone was an inherently violent process — in the end, there was no way around that truth — but he was sure his colleagues would have managed something less horrifically grisly… not that it would take much. “Less grisly than hammering a man to pieces with a sledgehammer” was an easy standard to meet.

    To be honest, the bitter man wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

    A ponderous nod came from the gigantic figure of Dumbledore, and Snape dropped his disquieting train of thought in favor of throwing his all into turning the capstan. The winch below creaked and groaned as the webwork of hawsers tightened in response to his magical efforts. After a few moments what little slack had been in the restraints was taken up, and as the ropes drew taut, a loud thud echoed across the plane of stone as the wakeful behemoth kicked its imprisoned counterpart awake.

    Tom hissed menacingly at the rough contact, a hiss that grew increasingly panicked as he began to struggle in a futile attempt to escape the restraining ropes. The bound titan’s great voice rose in a desperate, inarticulate shout as that monstrous hammer rose high only to come crashing down with a meaty thud and an accompanying tremor in the ground.

    And then there was a blaring cacophony which Snape could only place as screaming from the context — the difference in scale distorting it beyond recognition. It only got worse as the giant figure of Albus Dumbledore wrenched the hammer free with a wet squelch and truly got down to the bloody business of forcibly extracting the secrets of the one who had so thoroughly violated one of his students.

    All the while, Severus Snape stood there, illusory muscles and magic straining against the capstan in the effort to keep the first giant from escaping or fighting back effectively, a struggle even given the immense metaphysical leverage provided by Albus’ rune work.

    All the while the potion master’s full attention was focused on Dumbledore’s work, watching and listening intently despite the exertion of playing torturer’s apprentice and the occasional splatter of something that was most assuredly not blood across both the platform and himself.

    All the while, his gleefully vicious smile never faltered.

    4.5.4 Dismantling a life

    Across the school and half a dozen floors up in the Defense Professor’s suite, Gilderoy Lockhart moved through his the motions of his preplanned escape as quickly as he dared, struggling to choke down his rising panic lest he err in his haste. Speed was critically important to his success, but he would only have one chance at this, and it had to be done perfectly…

    or else.

    Manfully resisting the urge to break down and cry, he paused instead, allowing himself only a moment to catch his breath and calm his nervous trembling, before he turned to the task of moving his recently stunned visitors into the very chairs he had originally offered. Looking over the resulting scene, Gilderoy shook his head ruefully even as he moved on to the next task as quickly as he dared.

    There was no way to guess how long it would take those responsible for sending this team to send reinforcements. Gilderoy hoped for at least a few hours, but it was much safer to assume that he didn’t have nearly so long. In this instance, it was far better to be too early than too late, especially when the next group would come in combat-ready after the covert approach had failed. They’d sacrifice secrecy by doing so, but that was a relatively minor complication — as the former obliviator knew first-hand.

    A minor charm — easy and familiar yet still miscast twice before he managed to get his hands to stop shaking — set his luggage to packing itself, levitating a tiny fraction of the copious contents of his professorial suite and neatly arranging it into a pair of perfectly mundane, completely un-expanded, canvas duffle bags.

    Those two duffels, pitifully small compared to the mid-sized flat that was his usual luggage, would have to do; everything else would have to be left behind. He couldn’t afford the risk of dragging around his usual trunk, not when he might be forced to dodge pursuit via apparation. It was all he could afford to take.

    While hardly an expert on the magics involved, Gilderoy was an experienced traveler, and he had a good visceral understanding of the basics. For reasons he felt best left to the magical theorists, magically warped spaces heartily disliked being moved, and they took that pique out on the traveler. The usual rule of thumb for the magical traveler was five-fifteen-fifty. For every mile you walk with an expanded trunk, expect it feel like five; for every mile you portkey, expect it to drain you like fifteen; and for every mile you apparate, expect it to feel like fifty. And that was the rule for mildly expanded trunks, the greater the expansion ratio, the harder it would be to move.

    In his experience, Gilderoy’s own deluxe, practically-a-luxury-flat-in-a-box trunk followed more of a ten-eighty-nope rule. He’d slept for nearly two days solid after taking the train to Hogwarts. Trying to apparate with the thing might well kill him before the Ministry had the chance.

    The long and the short of it was, cargo space was at a premium. His bags contained only a few changes of disgustingly unremarkable clothes, less than half his usual collection of cosmetics, and a distressingly small stack of Gringotts bearer bonds which represented almost the entirety of his liquid assets.

    Most of his fans would have been shocked to learn that particular detail of his finances. As an author, most his income was tied up in long-term deals: royalties from his books, contracts for future speaking engagements, and that sort of thing. As long as the money kept coming in, he was well off, and he had spent accordingly while living the high life. It was a habit he was now regretting acutely, since what he was about to do meant that he would never be able to collect another payment. Without those contracts, the contents of the professorial suite around him represented the sum total of all his worldly goods…

    …a fact which made his next actions rather more distressing for the blond than one might expect.

    A second packing charm hit the room, this one moving all his other belongings into his usual heavily expanded luggage. A panoply of pastel silks flew through the air only to pack itself neatly into the trunk alongside a seemingly interminable procession of oddments and mementos. His vast collection of self-portraiture closed out the magical parade, settling into the trunk in a large pile and leaving one of his favorites to smile winsomely up at him.

    In lieu of his usual broad return smile, Lockhart sighed deeply before dragging the whole lot across the room, towards the massive stone fireplace occupying the majority of one of the walls.

    It was time to ensure that when he disappeared, he stayed disappeared.

    Gilderoy was no scholar of obscure magics, but his observation skills when it came to people were second to none, as were his memory and attention to detail. He knew people; he watched; he listened; and he remembered. That was the very bedrock of his previous profession as an obliviator. It wasn’t everything, but without that basis, you could never be more than mediocre with the spells.

    During his years as an obliviator, Gilderoy had spent a great deal of time around his coworkers at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. As a result. he liked to think had a fair idea of how the various sub-organizations operated.

    He knew what to expect from the rank and file of the constabulary. He knew the usual procedures in the administrative offices. He knew the equipment and tactics of the aurors. And, more importantly for the current situation, he knew the sorts of things that Investigations and Forensics could pull off if sufficiently motivated. The lab boys generally tended to be quite vocal about their methods when trying to impress the ladies in the pub after work.

    Armed with that knowledge, Gilderoy was confident he could avoid detection by most of their methods. Unfortunately, just because he could avoid detection didn’t mean the process would be pleasant… nor would it be without sacrifice.

    The blond took a moment to stare down into the depths of the expanded trunk for a long melancholic moment until he closed his eyes with a regretful sigh. The collection below him was the physical record of everything he had accomplished. It represented all the things he had enjoyed, all the memories of places he had been and people he had met, and it was all stacked up in the closest thing he had to a permanent home ever since he had left Hogwarts.

    It was his life.

    And therein lay the problem.

    Every single one of those objects had been with him long enough to pose a massive security risk. They had been in his possession for years — in some cases decades — nearby and soaking up his magical signature all the while. Each and every item was a calling card; a calling card which, if recovered and used to guide a scrying ritual, would lead his pursuers right to him without fail no matter how he tried to hide or how many obstacles he put in their way.

    Each and every one was an express ticket to Azkaban if it left his possession, and since he couldn’t risk taking the expanded trunk with him…

    “Damn it all,” Gilderoy muttered giving the rim of his trunk, his home, one final, apologetic pat before he straightened and flicked his suddenly very heavy wand back into his hand.

    The flame conjuration spell was rather more impressive now with his adult magical reserves than it had been when he had first learned the spell as an adolescent. A torrent of yellow-white flames spilled down into the trunk, setting everything on fire, including his now no longer smiling portrait which was now frantically but fruitlessly attempting to blow out the tongues of flame licking at its frame.

    “Damn it all,” he muttered again. It was a sentiment that bore repeating.

    As the fire spread, he stared into the flames hungrily consuming the record of his life, every physical trace of what made Gilderoy Lockhart stand out as Gilderoy Lockhart. The rapidly growing inferno held the blond’s rapt attention for nearly a minute until he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the strangely hypnotic sight.

    Blinking away the afterimages of the flames and swallowing against an unpleasant tightness in his throat, Gilderoy turned away from the roaring fire. The deed was done, and a quick word to the castle elves before his departure would see the trunk left to burn itself out without risk to the castle at large and the rest of the room thoroughly sanitized. His authority as a professor would be enough to see it done despite the unusual nature of the request.

    For now, he had other business to handle.

    The former obliviator turned back to his visitors, the immediate cause of his current less-than-ideal circumstances, with anger in his eyes and a white-knuckled grip on his wand.

    “Now, what to do with you three?”

    4.5.5 Aftermath

    In the cavernous expanse of Hazard Laboratory 3, silence reigned, disturbed only by the gentle rustling of Madame Pomfrey’s robes as she doggedly attended to her patient despite the momentous events which had recently taken place on the other side of the room.

    The runes which had been so intricately and painstakingly laid out by the Headmaster in the hours leading up to the interrogation had not fared well. The air above them shimmered slightly from the waste heat released due to the tremendous magical flow which had just passed through the array. The shimmering silver of the markings had blackened under the strain, and a few of the more densely written areas were actually burning with a low, smokey flame. All told, it was the normal result for works done in runesmith’s pencil — there was a reason it was only used for prototypes and one-offs.

    The room’s other occupants looked not much better than the runes they had been operating. Frazzled, trembling in exhaustion, and drenched in sweat, the senior staff of Hogwarts found themselves mutely staring at each other across the shimmering ground still kneeling at their various posts as they tried to catch their collective breath and process the events to which they had just borne witness. Even for wizards such as the Hogwarts senior staff, the interrogation had been an ordeal.

    At the center of it all, a thin curl of smoke rose lazily from the leather-bound diary which had caused so much trouble for the school over the last several months. Its charred condition strongly implied that it was unlikely to cause any such troubles again.

    Minerva McGonagall was the first to shake off her stupor and move, groaning at the pain from her stiff joints and sore muscles as she attempted to shift from the kneeling position she had been stuck in for the better part of two hours. Having managed to awkwardly sit after half a minute of trying, taking the pressure off her aching knees, the Head of House Gryffindor turned to check on her much put-upon student on the other side of the room.

    “Poppy,” the tired Scotswoman managed to croak out, “how has Miss Weasley fared?”

    “She is recovering nicely,” the Healer replied, not looking up from her latest round of diagnostics. “The Headmaster’s runic arrays seem to have done the trick of keeping her isolated from your side of things.” She nodded satisfied at the result of one last diagnostic charm before looking up at her fellow staff member. “I take it your venture was successful?”

    “Yes, Poppy,” Albus interjected from his place on the other end of the runic array, having shaken off the worst of his own fatigue. “I believe it was. I was able to extract a significant quantity of information from the culprit before he was no longer able to withstand the strain.” The elderly wizard gave a weak smile, “Though, it will take some detective work to provide anything of use, as I had expected. Unfortunately, the process was rather messier than I had hoped. To get the fullest picture we are able, I am afraid we will need to… compare notes, as it were.”

    “What do you mean, Albus?” Minerva asked tiredly.

    “While I do not know the form the representation would have taken for each of you, I am sure you noticed a fair amount of spillage from whatever image your minds chose to represent the soul bound to the diary,” the Headmaster began, grunting slightly as he shifted in preparation to stand.

    “Ugh, yes,” Pomona acknowledged, finding her own voice for the first time since the conclusion of their efforts. “I suppose ‘spillage’ is as good a term as any for that vile…” She trailed off with a disgusted grunt, unable to find the words to convey just how disgusting she had found the experience.

    None of her fellows managed to find any either.

    “Yes, quite,” the long-bearded wizard agreed with a sour expression of his own. “That was the collected memory of the perpetrator, at least the portion available via the bound portion of the man’s soul.” Albus let out a pained groan as he regained his feet. “As the interrogator, I was able to intercept the greatest proportion of it, but the process was rather untidy.”

    That prompted a tired snort from his colleagues at the understatement even as Dumbledore continued, “I am afraid much of the information in Tom’s memory is now lost to us; however, we may be able to recover some portion of it by sharing the impressions we each managed to catch.”

    “That vile morass truly issued from Mr. Riddle, then?” Minerva asked tiredly with a sad shake of her head. “I read the name on the diary, but I had hoped…” she trailed off with a sigh. “He was such a bright child; where did we go wrong? What caused him to fall so far?”

    “Save your tears, Minerva,” Snape interjected roughly. “The man was a monster. Evil to the core and quite skilled at hiding his true nature behind a façade of lies.” He scoffed, “The boy you knew as your student likely never existed in the first place, just another mask to hide his true nature.”

    “How can you say such a thing, Severus?” the Scotswoman demanded of her colleague. “No man is born evil, and you were too young to know him when…”

    “Whether Tom was always evil or whether he became so over time is a question for another time and another venue,” Albus’ voice cut through the nascent argument. “For now, and we must put together the insights we managed to glean while they are still fresh in our minds. Allowing the memories to fade will only make our purpose more difficult.”

    Having regained his subordinates’ attention, the elderly wizard continued. “I had attempted to direct my interrogation efforts toward the question of how the diary came to be in Miss Weasley’s possession when the horcrux gave out under the strain. What impressions did you gain in the final moments?”

    The room fell silent once again for a moment as its occupants gathered their thoughts.

    “Aside from the general sense of filth, I got the oddest impression of a scent,” Pomona Spout began tentatively. “Honeysuckle, I do believe, though I haven’t the foggiest what that might signify.”

    Albus closed his eyes and nodded, considering the new information in conjunction with the confusing mess he had uncovered himself.

    “On my end, I got an impression of a conflict,” Flitwick offered, “a minor one. It couldn’t have been more than a fistfight, possibly even a simple argument, though I am afraid the impression was too fleeting for me to pick up on the participants.”

    “I see,” Albus mused. “Honeysuckle and a fistfight, an odd combination. Was there anything else?”

    “Lucius Malfoy,” Snape broke in with a contemptuous sneer. “He was present, close enough to leave an impression; I would recognize the feel of that unctuous rat anywhere.” The sneer dropped as he let out a regretful sigh, “I could not say whether he was involved or simply in the vicinity, however. I may have simply latched onto the familiar feeling, lending it more importance than it deserved.”

    “That is always a possibility in such impressions, and Mr. Malfoy is hardly such a recluse that his presence in public is unusual. All told, very little to go on,” Albus’ expression darkened, “and Lucius is… unlikely to be a forthcoming witness. I will have to see what I can do to investigate further.”

    His white beard swayed as he shook his head to clear it. “In the meantime, we have more pressing business, chiefly informing the Weasleys of this new development. Minerva,” the Scotswoman looked up at her superior, “please contact Arthur with a request for his presence in the morning to discuss these events.”

    At her tired nod, he continued, “Then I suppose we are done here for the moment. Thank you all for your efforts in this venture. Sleep well! If I am to judge from my own condition, I am sure you are all quite exhausted from our activities.”

    He was right.

    4.5.6 Old friends?

    Argus Filch sat in his office near the main gate of the castle, eating his supper away from the cacophony of the students in the Great Hall. The still-petrified form of his beloved Mrs. Norris kept him company from her position on the end of his desk, where she was propped up in a nest of rolled towels to keep her from falling over.

    It had been an irritating day — an all too common circumstance for the Hogwarts Caretaker.

    The visitors had been an unusual addition, to be sure, breaking up the usual tedium, but the delay had served to put a lid on any fleeting enjoyment the perpetually bitter man might have felt at the change in routine. And that was before considering the biting disappointment Argus had felt when Madame Marchbanks had denied his dreams of trouble for the arrogant blond pillock who had flounced about the school being generally irritating and getting in people’s way since the previous September.

    Without his cat, schadenfreude was all the embittered man had to live for.

    Nothing for it, he supposed, shaking his grizzled head with a gusty sigh before taking another bite out of his meal. The Headmaster had assured him that the potion to fix his beloved cat would be ready in just another month, so at least there was that to look forward to.

    Filch’s morose musings were interrupted by sound in the hallway, normally deserted at this time of day. He poked his head out into the hallway to take a look, only to cock a ragged eyebrow at a thoroughly unexpected sight.

    A group of four people were making their raucous way through the hallway on the way toward the main castle gate, laughing uproariously at something one of them had said. Normally, that would have been irritating yet unremarkable; the castle did house a school full of teenagers after all, and they were maddeningly prone to such behavior. In this case, however, rather than unruly teenaged hooligans, this group consisted of the three visitors he had been forced to sit with earlier in the day and the professor they had come to visit.

    Argus’ eyes narrowed suspiciously. That seemed unusual given the solemn tone they had taken with him earlier. By their own assertion, they hadn’t expected trouble, but he’d hoped there would be a stern talking-to involved at the very least. The laughter was unexpected, and it made the whole episode even more disappointing than he had thought it would be.

    That would teach him not to get his hopes up!

    By the look of it, the three visitors were laughing at some joke the blond ponce had made, and the entire group was making its way out the main door. The professor was even carrying a couple of sizeable bags under his arm for whatever reason, but all told, it looked like a group of coworkers going out for a friendly drink after work.

    In fact… Filch scowled at the scene for a moment as that idea percolated.

    Those inconsiderate bastards!

    If they were just inviting the blond popinjay to dinner, why didn’t they call on the bloody floo and save him all the trouble earlier? The caretaker grumbled for a moment longer before turning back to his dinner and his petrified cat.

    It wasn’t any of his business any longer.

    4.5.7 Evening musings

    The sky was mostly clear, and the glowing river of the Milky Way splashed its spectacular way across the heavens, interrupted only by the looming silhouettes of the surrounding hills. Despite the early morning hour, the scene found itself reflected in a pair of massive eyes as they gazed up in admiration.

    It was a beautiful sight, Harry thought, and a welcome distraction.

    Once again in his native form, the young dragon had taken advantage of the springtime weather to bed down on the lip of the Lair under the stars with Suze. His centaur damsel had fallen asleep quite quickly, snug against his side to ward off the mild chill of the nighttime breeze. Harry was pleased that she was comfortable, but he still had much to wrap his head around before he would feel comfortable drifting off.

    He’d had a couple of very heavy conversations that day, after all.

    Oh, and there had been that murder attempt, too, he supposed. That probably counted for something.

    To the Harry’s way of thinking, his conversation with Donald was very much the pressing issue of the day. The idea that someone who had been his friend had never really been a person at all was much more distressing for Harry than some ineffectual murder attempt from a little girl. The latter was easily dealt with, while the implications of the former were much less so.

    Was Donald really his friend? Could someone who wasn’t a person be a friend? If he wasn’t a friend, then what was he? Did that revelation mean he’d lost a friend? What should he think about that? If the Hat wasn’t actually a friend, then had Harry been treating him properly? He certainly wouldn’t want someone who was his friend to treat him like he wasn’t one, and it seemed to the young dragon that treating someone who wasn’t a friend like they were one ought to be just as inappropriate, by symmetry if nothing else. It might even be downright rude, and Harry didn’t want to be rude — especially not by accident!

    It was a difficult situation to wrap his head around, which had prompted the young dragon to initiate a second heavy conversation in asking Abigail and Hermione for their opinions on the matter during their usual time in the library. That was a conversation which had gone on for some time, but in the end, Harry felt the best advice he’d gotten out of it had come from Abigail — a bit of practical, if unsatisfying, wisdom on how to handle himself with the Hat in the short term at least.

    “Well, I can’t say that I know what to tell you about that,” his older friend had said. “I suspect you’re going to have to figure things out for yourself on the whole soul question and what it means, but as for how to treat the Hat, I figure that’s simple enough for now.”

    “What do you mean?” Harry had prompted.

    “Well, the way I see it, what matters most is whether whatever you’re doing works,” Abigail had continued with a shrug. “I mean, that’s sort of the whole point of manners in the first place; they’re the grease that keeps society running as smoothly as it does. The Hat’s obviously been fine with how you’ve been treating him so far. Whether or not he’s a person, he’s certainly articulate enough to let you know if you’re behaving improperly. As long as he’s okay with it and you’re okay with it, then it seems to me that you ought to just keep on going as you have been.”

    It had been a thoroughly utilitarian solution — one that bought him time to figure things out — but it was only a temporary fix. Harry would have to try to figure things out in more detail, but first he’d have to give the whole situation a good think.

    What was the exact difference between a being with a soul — a person — and one without? How could you tell, and what did it mean? Where did a good imitation give way to actual substance?

    As he looked up at the spectacular glowing river of the Milky Way arcing overhead, the young dragon had a sinking suspicion that he’d be searching for those answers for a very long time.

    4.5.8 A concerned granddaughter

    At the door to the Three Broomsticks, the pub long since closed down for the evening, Madam Rosmerta stood, green eyes narrowed in a worried scowl at the darkened street, as she absently polished a glass that had long since shone like new.

    She had never heard back from her great grandmother, and the proprietor of Hogsmeade’s leading tavern had grown more and more worried as the shadows lengthened and the sun set without any contact. There was no way her grandmother’s business could still be carrying on up at the castle, and even if it was, her gran would have let her know what was going on.

    It wasn’t like her to skip out on an appointment, particularly not one with family.

    What had happened?

    As the clock back in the pub struck eleven, Rosmerta’s expression firmed with resolve. Nodding smartly, she made her way to the back room so she could hunt down the floo address of her great grandmother’s secretary. The blonde hated to be a bother at this time of night, but she had to know if her gran had gotten back safely.

    She had to know whether to be annoyed with her grandmother or concerned for her.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
  13. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Thanks for the offer, I might take you up on that in the future.
     
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  14. Evilhippy

    Evilhippy The Cum Lord

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    I love this story but when you introduced that poor woman who got snatched and turned into a mind controlled sex slave and poor bastard who dedicated his life to freeing and saving her it just...I don't know kinda put a miasma over the tone of the story. Every time I try to read the next chapter my mind flashes back to that plot point. Its almost too depressing to read. Sorry, its just a niggling thing that has poked at me ever since it got revealed.
     
  15. LysanderArgent

    LysanderArgent "Chivalrous" Pervert

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    It was tone whiplash. Which in a way I think was somewhat intended; we are seeing a comedy/mystery/adventure story with Harry... but this world is a Dark!Potter-verse mixed with Shadowrun. The tone of Harry's story and what's going on around him is the exception not the norm for the setting. That scene served the purpose of pointing out "Hey, look here! THIS is what this world is really like. Keep that in mind when contextualising everything that has happened or will happen in Harry's story."

    That's not to say that it wasn't a horrible thing to read and that I didn't hate reading it. I just see how it serves a purpose in the greater whole and can except it as that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  16. stads

    stads Know what you're doing yet?

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    interesting chapter
    wonder what the clue mean dont recall any story's with candy from cannon lore of potter
    but am clueless about the shadow lore
     
  17. Charles

    Charles Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Man. That is the most sickening interpretation of a Horcrux ritual I have heard of. I approve of how the depravity in this story is contrasting sharply, more and more, with Harry's lighthearted world view. However, I will be very sad if he loses his optimistic outlook on life and therefore the more comedic aspects of this story.
     
  18. Lector312

    Lector312 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Agreed. And that just got reinforced by Lily's probable fate for me too.
    Remember, NTR is a trash fetish. Especially if its Voldemort
     
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  19. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Versed in the lewd.

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    And here I was hoping that Gilderoy's head would end up decorating a spike at some point. Oh well, it's not over yet.

    EDIT: Nope, looks like I spoke too soon. Phooey.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  20. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Evilhippy and LysanderArgent:

    It was fairly unpleasant to write as well, for the record.

    That said, as LysanderArgent mentioned, it was intended to serve a narrative purpose --- putting a sympathetic face to the seedy underbelly of the setting, thereby making it more real --- which I believe it did, if the reactions are anything to go by.

    There had been a number of mentions and hints of similar goings on: the lore introduced in the aftermath of the encounter with Umbridge, Snape's explanation to Tony Granger, the mentions of a goblin-run Underground Railroad, and the ongoing background situation with the Malfoys, among others. Quirrel's situation was the first to put a face to such things. I mean, he was an innocent man enslaved and forced to brutally murder a number of people in service of his hated enemy, denied even the dubious solace of being unaware of what he was doing; that's a pretty shitty situation. I suspect his situation hit softer than it really should have for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Quirrel's canon role as a mostly unsympathetic antagonist.

    Frank and Betty's situation is harsh, to say the least, but it did more to set the tone of the darker side of wizarding world than any of the other bits could simply by putting a purely sympathetic face and name on the problem rather than bemoaning it all as some nebulous societal wrong. A societal institution that has somehow not managed to affect any of our POV characters despite purportedly being horribly pervasive.

    It's a bit of show to back up the tell, as it were.

    For reference, if it makes people feel better about things, I have plans for Frank and Betty in the future; they're not going to be stuck where we left them forever. The characters took on a life of their own after I started writing them, a lot like Lockhart managed to. It's kind of odd how that happens, honestly. Both Frank and Lockhart were originally intended to be throwaway bit parts, and now they've managed to forge a role for themselves in the ongoing plot. Lockhart's getting more development at the moment, but Frank will come back later.

    Lockhart is in the process of faking his own death to avoid prosecution. Effectively, this will make him unable to participate in normal wizarding commerce; bank accounts are locked by magical signature, and if his pops up under a false name, he can say hello to the inside of a cell in short order. He's effectively become one of the SINless, to use the Shadowrun terminology, which will lead to him taking on off-the-record jobs to make ends meet.

    I'm working him into the position of becoming one of the first shadowrunners, and I have some vague, tentative plans of him being on the team that runs the coverup of the staged attack on the Shiawase nuclear plant that will precipitate the 2001 Shiawase Decision. More importantly for the story, he and his expertise in mental techniques will be available for discreet hire.

    Frank will be continuing with his efforts to free Betty, which come down to attempting to purchase her freedom outright (the plan that requires so much funding that he was working towards). He'll have worked up what he believes are enough funds, and be in the process of negotiating her purchase when the place gets hit in the course of Harry's upcoming black ops campaign, technically freeing the enslaved girls and getting Frank captured by Harry's team. Events ensue, ending, after some hangups, with Frank reunited with Betty and working as an investigator and informant for Harry's organization, helping to crack open more and more of the wizarding underworld.

    Unfortunately, although they are now in the hands of people genuinely concerned for their well being, Betty and her compatriots remain in their damaged states, leading to Frank launching a new quest to get her fixed as much as possible. This requires expertise in the sort of magic which caused the problems, which leads to him tracking down Lockhart's new identity. Lockhart agrees to work at restoring her memories for a price. He is not as successful as Frank would have liked --- the damage is not entirely, or even mostly, fixable --- but at least Betty is able to function independently again, able to begin building her new life (and with a newly proven treatment plan, so can her fellow victims of similar circumstances).

    Frank and Betty's story arc then concludes with the two of them getting married; even though Betty can't remember his first proposal, she knows quite well what he has done and sacrificed for her since, and that has a power all its own. Frank continues his intelligence work for Harry's covert ops group, fighting the good fight in the shadows, and the pair of them serve as foster parents for a few dozen of the younger rescued victims of similar situations.

    FYI: I'm guessing by 'candy' you mean the honeysuckle scent Sprout mentioned. Honeysuckle is a flowering vine which tends to have a strong scent when blooming, not a candy (or at least, I don't know of any such candy). As for not picking up on the clue, don't worry, you're not supposed to yet, its a hook for later use.

    I can see the logic, but to be honest, I hadn't intended that to be the conclusion drawn. Might have to rework that section to make it clearer, though I'm not sure how at the moment.

    The horcrux ritual was supposed to be more the symbolism of taking someone into the family only to betray the implied promise of protection by murdering them shortly thereafter. Consummating the marriage would actually cement the bond, rather than break it, defeating the purpose of the ritual.
     
  21. AndrewWolfe

    AndrewWolfe Hot glue beard disaster.

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    Congratulations on successfully creating a horcrux ritual that is actually morally disgusting over and above the rather pedestrian murder-squick most rely on.
     
  22. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Thanks. I never really understood the ones that just asserted that it was murder alone; I can't imagine a ritual that simple ever being buried well enough that people had to hunt to find out about it.

    Poorly socialized wizards would be leaving bits of their souls at crime scenes all over if it were that simple. Heck, there'd probably be a dedicated Office of Horcrux Cleanup at the Ministry.



    In related news, to whoever is interested, I'm trying to rework the horcrux ritual descriptions to discourage the conclusion Lector312 drew without making the relevant scenes too clumsy. How does the following work for that purpose?

    I figure that gives enough of an outline of what the goblins find objectionable to remove any sexual reading of it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  23. DIT_grue

    DIT_grue lurker

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    Is the caret a typo, or a placeholder for intended future editing, or something?

    That does look to me like it would remove any consideration of a specifically sexual slant to the mess, although I didn't have that problem in the first place so may not be an adequate test. The comment you're responding to does create confusion for me though - maybe it's just imposing canon and I've forgotten some alteration this story made to those events, but I'm not sure why the description would be read as involving Lily rather than her being just as much a mere obstacle as James?
     
  24. Ayashi

    Ayashi Experienced.

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    HP-verse showed it's pretty grimdark from the very start. iirc we learn in the first book that Neville's parents were tortured to insanity (i don't remember if that was before his own eyes or if that was for Luna in the second book) and that he got thrown out the window of the second(?) floor as a child to see if he had any magic. Repeatedly. You know, just in case that was a fluke and the boy was indeed "worthless"...
     
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  25. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Versed in the lewd.

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    *sigh*

    So it looks like not only is Gilderoy getting away, he's getting the seed of a brainwashed cult/thralls to go with it.

    Joy.
     
  26. Evilhippy

    Evilhippy The Cum Lord

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    I loved how you slowly dropped the hints of the underlying darkness of the world, it was just so jarring when that chapter got dropped. It was like we had been dipping our toes in the muck of the darkness of the Wizarding World and then got abruptly tossed head first into it. It was jarring but was wonderfully done. Its just my tolerance for heartbreak and grimdarkness has waned a bit as I've gotten older, I see enough of it in real life everyday. Your spoiler did alleviate some of that however.

    Still, you are a masterful writer and I love what you have written, even if Frank and Betty's sad story gives me anxiety.
     
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  27. Vallan.Mandrake

    Vallan.Mandrake Getting sticky.

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    I think that the Gildroy wasn't visited by Aurores, but by the education officials (Marchbanks &co). It's gonna backfire hard on him.
     
  28. AndrewWolfe

    AndrewWolfe Hot glue beard disaster.

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    Oh, it's worse than that. They threw him off the pier at Blackpool (probably North Pier, unless I vastly misjudge the kind of family the Longbottoms are) Even at high tide that's a fifteen foot drop into the water - at low tide it's fifty on to the sand - and the sea there is turbulent, zero-visibility, and a chancy proposition for a strong swimmer who's alert enough to get away from the Victorian ironwork the pier is made of before he's battered to death against it. A small boy surviving that? That's not just magic, it's a fuckin' miracle.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
  29. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Versed in the lewd.

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    See the spoilers for what's outlined.

    It's not what most of us hope for I think.
     
  30. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    The caret is a handwriting recognition kludge. Thanks for finding it.

    Glad that has you feeling better about things.

    As a guide for future developments, to paraphrase the original author, (Doghead13), with this dragon Harry, we've managed to make a protagonist who is essentially immune to angst, so we needed to give him an appropriately angst-worthy world to not angst at. So, yes, the world is horrible, but no, Harry is not going to go wallow in it.

    So, yeah... you know he's not exactly getting off clean, right? I mean, as Vallan.Mandrake noted, that wasn't an auror snatch team; it was a discreet attempt by an Education official to gently correct his teaching methods while taking care not to harm his public image. He made an unwarranted assumption and jumped the gun, screwing himself over in the process, big time.

    Remember, back in what is now 4.4.4, Amelia Bones specifically noted that the DMLE didn't have a case against him. With this, he just handed them one on a metaphorical silver platter.

    As for his eventual disposition, it's a little less bloodthirsty than you seemed to have hoped, true, but he just got done utterly destroying his own life, burning all his possessions, handing law enforcement an airtight case against him for at least three cases of assault and making the circumstantial evidence they had seem much more plausible, and is in the process of voluntarily removing himself from public circulation entirely, unable to access the vast majority of the ill-gotten wealth he had built up. He just slit his own throat because of a misunderstanding brought about by his own malfeasance in the past.

    Gilderoy Lockhart, gentleman adventurer, was created by lies he told to everyone else, and Gilderoy Lockhart, gentleman adventurer, was destroyed by a lie he told to himself.

    I had thought it an appropriately ironic punishment for the man who had built so much on his falsified public image, but to each his own, I suppose.
     
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