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Patron (Harry Potter AU) (Complete)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Feb 26, 2015.

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  1. Beyogi

    Beyogi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Or it might make him immune, depending on how Obliviations work.
     
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  2. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Or on the other end of things, it might make him prone to severe mental exhaustion if he has to keep track of several dozen different roles at all times.
     
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  3. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Or splits his skill up between them as well - so any time he uses one, the other versions either are comatose, or working at a reduced skill level.
     
  4. Sargon

    Sargon Not too sore, are you?

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    Lets list some common villainous ritual plots: the standard power-up/ascension rite, making a magical weapon of some sort (could be useful for getting through the wards of those old family manors). Other possibilities are a major summoning ritual (there was mentions of demon summoning earlier in the story) or a protection from fate/destiny to no-sell the prophecy. That bloodline curse idea might fit in since even if he can't kill off all the muggleborns he could do something like kill Harry or more importantly the Dumbledores, which would be a major victory. The last idea I can think of for it is a resurrection ritual of some sort.
     
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  5. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Harry is conspicuously missing any blood relatives to sacrifice, and Dumbledore's only remaining blood relation is hos brother - who is only slightly less terrifying than he is.
     
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  6. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    There's also the standard sacrificial ritual which might be used to power any of the rituals you mentioned.

    Do fertility rites count as a ritual?
     
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  7. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
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  8. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    All good ideas, though a few are impractical. There's also variants of the taboo, the curse on a teacher's position, and combinations of such.

    And I'd limit such sacrifices to direct ancestors or descendants, so Dumbledore is safe there as well.

    It's a good bet that just about every ritual Voldemort will do will be empowered by sacrifices since those fit his style.
     
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  9. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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  10. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    Interesting, though that render has a few issues.
    - Sirius's skin seems kind of grey
    - His wand looks to be around half a meter long when the average wand is maybe a foot or so. Is that on purpose?
    - Valérie's dress is clipping her leg

    Still, better than anything I know how to do :p
     
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  11. Dromeosaur

    Dromeosaur Know what you're doing yet?

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    Have I ever mentioned how much I love a wizard world that makes sense? Because I do love it. Thank you very much for the best HP worldbuilding I have ever seen!
     
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  12. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    I've reduced the size of the wand and added a bit of color to the skin. And the dress clipping has been solved.

    Thanks! I'm flattered.
     
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  13. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    If you enjoy this fic, have you ever read the Firebird Trilogy by Darth Marrs?
    Admittedly the worldbuilding there is highly AU but fuck if it isn't one of the best Harry Potter fics I've ever read. The rest of his stuff is pretty damn good as well, especially the recent stuff.

    Not that I want to detract from your achievement, Starfox.
    This is right up there in my favourite fanfics list.

    It looks really good now :)
     
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  14. Dromeosaur

    Dromeosaur Know what you're doing yet?

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    Thanks, will read.
     
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  15. Beyogi

    Beyogi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Yeah no shit. I didn't think Lord Potter could ever cause anything for me, then dropping the fic. But this has pretty much proven the opposite. If you do Lord Potter, better do it this way. Not as just another fanon thing that was added to the plot.
     
  16. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Lord Potter?
     
  17. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    He probably means that thing where Harry goes to the goblins and finds out he's inherited one or more Family Rings and with that come mountains of gold, a half-dozen Wizangamot seats (or more), the ability to suddenly negate all negative magical effects on his body because he's wearing said ring(s) and so forth...

    Basically, it's the lazy way of turning Harry into Super-Harry.

    edit: I forgot about the Potter Will that of course details all the right ways that Harry should have been brought up, proves Sirius is innocent and casts Dumbledore as the next Dark Lord.


    So yeah, Beyogi isn't the only one tired of that particular plot.
     
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  18. Beyogi

    Beyogi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Harry is suddenly a noble. All the kids are suddenly calling each other with titles. Social interaction is like formalised noble stuff from the 18th century. Usually comes with the other stuff steamrick mentioned.
    And it's thrown in as some kind of flavour or to justify a crappy INO.
     
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  19. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Ah. Well, there's no formal nobility here - the only "Lord" is the Dark Lord. There are the"Old Families", but they don't have titles - their influence is due to connections and money. And Harry's not really wealthy, as Hermione sums up in the first chapter:

    And the slightly archaic touch of Harry and Hermione's manners is due to them learning from old books, and old McGonagall. They're actually more conservative sounding than Slytherins :p

    Though there are forms, such as the hospitality "rituals" who are still quite archaic-sounding, that's mostly tradition.

    Yeah, those stories often are a bit overloaded. Fortunes, family magic, Wizengamot seat, powerful magic items... anyone of those and the consequences of acquiring them would usually be enough for a story to focus on. All put together, they can easily render each other boring.
     
  20. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    A well-done story focusing on how the characters are overwhelmed by their sudden glut of new roles might be interesting, though. "Okay, I'll reschedule the meeting with the tax attorney to attend the Wizengamot confirmation vote, but that means I need to wait until the next moonless Sunday for the family empowerment ritual, which leaves me without a way to protect the Secret Vault while I inventory all the Artifacts of Power in there, and the Goblins still want to talk to me - again - so..."

    Edit: Expanded on here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
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  21. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    ... and thus I feel the need to salute Sirius for being awesome.
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 33: Trapped
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 33: Trapped

    “You know, there was a time when you didn’t like me spending money on gifts for you.”

    Hermione Granger looked up from the package she had just received - after weeks! - and at her grinning boyfriend. She huffed. “This is no frivolous gift, but a necessity!” She gently ran her hand over the cardboard box. It looked a bit banged up - she vowed that if the delivery service had damaged the contents, there’d be hell to pay. “And it was Sirius who paid for it, anyway.” And Harry’s godfather had the money to spare, even counting the exorbitant exchange fees Gringotts charged.

    “You look like Ron when he got his new broom.” Harry sounded amused.

    This time she glared at him. “This is no mere broom, but something far more valuable: A custom made high-end computer with the latest software and hardware! The ultimate tool for my Arithmancy projects!”

    “Well, it did cost as much as my new broom,” Harry remarked. He took a step closer and drew his wand.

    “No magic!” She jumped up and stepped in front of the package.

    “I was only going to unpack it so the thing won’t get jarred needlessly.” Harry stared at her, lowering his wand.

    “We can’t risk any magic near it until it’s safely in the rune frame.” Too much was riding on this.

    “We’re inside the strongest wards outside Hogwarts. A little spell won’t do much more.” Harry shook his head at her.

    “It’s still an unnecessary risk,” she retorted primly. “Now help me carry this to the workroom!”

    “You’re going to unpack it inside the frame?” Harry blinked, apparently surprised.

    “Of course!” And she’d shield the case itself as soon as she had the time, as an added precaution. “And drop your robe first. The enchantments on it pose a risk as well.”

    “Hermione, I think you’re taking this a bit too seriously...”

    “Do you see me wearing my robes?” Hermione pointed at her t-shirt and shorts.

    “I thought that was just because you were meeting the muggle delivery man,” Harry answered, but his eyes seemed to be stuck on her legs.

    “That was only part of the reason.” Hermione waited, arms crossed under her breasts, until Harry slipped out of his robes. Only then was she satisfied that he’d not endanger her new computer.

    “Was that just to see me strip?” Harry asked in a suspicious tone.

    “Of course not!” Although he did cut a fine figure, in his t-shirt and shorts, in her opinion. “I would have said so if it was the case. Or charmed your robes to be invisible to my eyes,” she added, smirking. He blushed at that, which she thought was adorable. Despite the urge to get to work as soon as possible, she bent forward and kissed him.

    After making sure there was no one around who might want to help them with a levitation or even summon spell, they carried the heavy package to the room Hermione had commandeered as her working space. As close to the library as possible, it had been a smaller salon once, used for tea parties by Sirius’ Mother. Hermione had had all the ornate furniture replaced with sturdy, functional pieces taken from the basement potion laboratory last week.

    “If Sirius saw us struggling like this, he’d never let us live this down,” Harry grumbled.

    “He would, if he knows what’s good for him. This might save his life.” It would save Harry’s life, she added to herself.

    “If this is so useful for Arithmancy, how did they ever manage without it?” Harry asked, after they had set the box down inside the big cage of rune-covered beams she had erected in the workroom.

    “Badly,” Hermione answered, taking out a pocket knife to open the package. “While the theoretical base for Arithmancy was formed by the wizards of ancient Greece, computing the formulas was so time-consuming and difficult, Arithmancy remained a largely theoretical discipline with few practical applications. Only those with extraordinary talents for mathematics could make use of it, and those were very rare. Almost all spellcrafting was purely experimental.” And very, very dangerous. “The invention of slide rules in the 17th century changed all that, and in the two centuries that followed, most of the spells commonly used were replaced by the more efficient and more elegant versions we still use today. That was when Arithmancy was introduced into the curriculum at Hogwarts as an elective too. But slide rules can only go that far. Even if you don’t make a mistake, it takes a very long time to calculate a spell’s formula, so most spellcrafters settle for the first formula that works, and don’t bother trying to find a version that is probably only slightly better. And most ‘new’ spells are variants of existing spells, derived from existing formulas.”

    While Hermione had given her brief lecture, she had cut the cardboard panels until the box fell apart, revealing the computer inside - case, screen, and assorted peripherals. “With this though, I can run programs that will find the perfect formula for a spell - optimized for whatever I want. Power, ease of casting, speed - both casting and traveling - whatever I want.” And costs and risks, but she’d not mention that. No need to worry Harry about something she had to do. She smiled brightly.

    Harry nodded. “We still have to use slide rules in class though.”

    “Yes.” Hermione frowned. She hated it - she felt crippled in class, working with the inefficient official tools - but Harry had been adamant about keeping the electronic calculator a secret. And he was suffering like her, at least.

    “A number of the older families will hate this, once it gets out. And not just those following Voldemort,” Harry commented.

    “Hm?” she glanced up from the manual. She had read a dozen magazines about setting up a computer, but it never hurt to make sure what she had learned was applicable.

    “All the spells developed and refined over generations in a family, never shared with outsiders, could be duplicated or even improved by anyone with such a machine. A number of families will lose advantages they have enjoyed for decades.” Harry smiled at her.

    She smiled back, showing her teeth. Anything that caused the old pureblood families to lose some of their power was a very good thing, in her opinion.

    Soon she had the computer assembled. Now came the hard part - installing the operating system. If she ever met the programmers responsible for this...

    *****​

    “Ah, what a cruel fate has my poor godson suffered - he has been replaced by a muggle machine!”

    Harry Potter glared at his grinning godfather. “I haven’t been replaced. Hermione’s just having a bit of a hard time installing all the programs she needs.”

    “Ah!” Sirius nodded, but Harry didn’t think the other wizard understood what his girlfriend was doing. Or cared.

    “Aren’t you curious about the thing you spent so much gold on?” he asked the older wizard.

    “It’s an Arithmancy tool.” Sirius shrugged, as if that said it all. “I am curious about the spells she can create with it, not the tool itself. I only took the class because my parents insisted.”

    “And for the pranks,” Harry added.

    “That too.” Sirius grinned. “But pranking is more of an art than a science, as Hermione would say. I don’t need better tools for that.” He looked at the table in the kitchen Harry was standing at. “What are you doing?”

    “Master’s Godson is cooking,” Kreacher appeared behind them, and his tone was dripping with resentment.

    “I’m not cooking. I’m just making sandwiches for me and Hermione.” Even though Harry couldn’t really stand the miserable old elf, he felt the need to defend himself against the implied accusation that he was usurping Kreacher’s duty.

    “That’s gourmet cooking in my opinion,” Sirius cheerfully commented.

    “Compared to your efforts, yes.” Harry had seen his godfather’s attempts at making food. Even tasted them, once.

    “Master’s Godson is spoiling his slave.”

    “She’s not my slave, she’s my girlfriend,” Harry sighed.

    “Give it up, Harry. My mother’s influence is too strong,” Sirius said, shaking his head at the elf.

    “I’ll keep trying.” If he gave up faced with a stubborn elf, why would he expect to have any luck changing the attitude and views of an entire society?

    “Stubborn like your mother.” Sirius chuckled.

    Harry nodded. “Can I ask you a question?” When Sirius opened his mouth, he quickly clarified: “Without you answering it with some tale from 6th year or a joke?”

    Sirius waited for a second, with his mouth open, then nodded. “Sure.”

    “Had my parents any plans for their future? You know, beyond living in concubinage?”

    Sirius sighed, and sat down at the table. “I know they had some plans, especially Lily, but I wasn’t privy to them.”

    “You weren’t?” Harry stared. Sirius was his godfather, and had been his father’s best man at their muggle wedding.

    “No. We were at war, you know, and I was at risk. More so than them, especially after they went into hiding. And while I don’t know what she, they were planning, I had my suspicions. Lily loved magic, but she didn’t like Wizarding Britain. Hated it, often enough. That’s why she insisted on you getting raised by her sister, if anything happened to both her and James. She didn’t want you be raised as a muggleborn in Wizarding Britain. She was a very opinionated witch.”

    Harry was briefly confused, then he got it. “You mean, Voldemort knowing about her views and plans might have hurt your side?”

    “Maybe. She managed a ritual that protected you and destroyed the body of the worst Dark Lord in Britain in centuries. Can you imagine what else she could have done, had she lived?”

    Harry nodded. And Lily hadn’t had access to a computer. Unlike Hermione, now. Maybe his parents had had the right idea about keeping secrets, even from Sirius.

    “Well, I’ll go feed my girlfriend now. I wouldn’t want to miss her preparing the computer’s case for the runes,” he said, standing up.

    “You’re that interested in runes?” Sirius snorted.

    “No. But in order to protect the computer parts from static electricity, such work is best done while wearing as little clothing as possible.” Harry smirked at his gaping godfather and left the kitchen.

    “That’s my godson!” he heard Sirius whoop before the door closed behind him.

    *****​

    Sirius Black muttered a curse under his breath when two fireballs flew at him. His shield deflected one, but broke when the next one exploded against it, and the wizard knew more were on the way. He dove to the ground and conjured an angled stone wall in front of him.

    Just in time. Two more explosions shook and rattled his hastily created barricade, and flames licked around its edge. He cursed some more and conjured fog that filled the entire area around him, then jumped to the side before charging ahead, sending stunners blindly through the fog, then conjured an ice plane on the floor in front of him. If he had planned it correctly…

    He slid out of the fog on his back, wand pointed at the ceiling. There! Above him was his opponent, wings spread and fire gathering in her hands. His bludgeoning curse caught her in the side though, spoiling her aim. The fireballs hit the ground next to him, vaporising most of the ice, and his stunner splashed harmlessly against her robes. “Gotcha!”

    Valérie screeched petulantly in return and landed next to him while Chantal, standing at the wall next to the door, giggled. A veela in her avian form was a beautiful sight. Wings folding behind her back, her claws clicking on the marble floor, soft feathers covering her skin, the way her eyes changed, and her face… she was a magnificent, magical raptor.

    Sirius stood up as Valérie changed back, her feathers fading and her beak turning into pouty lips. He ran his wand over his training robes, enchanted with special protection against fire, removing dust and some soot.

    “I lost again.” Valérie sighed.

    “That’s why we train. But I also knew what to expect, and you were forced to fly far lower and slower than you’d do in the field. That’s not something the Death Eaters will be able to count on.” Sirius briefly held her hand, squeezing gently.

    “They’ll know about us by now.”

    “True. But they won’t be used to fighting you.”

    “But the Dark Lord will surely be prepared for us. So far we have only faced his hired help, not his chosen followers,” Chantal cut in.

    Sirius nodded, but kept smiling confidently. “True. But we’re a cut above the hired help to start with, and we know how they fight as well.”

    “For all the good that will do. Bellatrix Lestrange is hardly predictable,” Chantal countered.

    “She and the Dark Lord himself are the only ones like that though. He knows too many spells to count, and she’s crazy. The rest… they have certain patterns,” Sirius explained. A decade in Azkaban tended to affect your mind, as he knew from painful experience. Strong personality traits lasted the longest, and stood out even more in the absence of others. After trying for years to keep a grip on your mind, to hold it together, it was hard to open up again, to change.

    Hard, but not impossible, he added, pulling Valérie closer, and smiling at Chantal.

    A shriek and the smell of burning feathers interrupted their discussion. Apparently, Eugénie and Laure had overdone their training match again. Well, it was better for them to be hit by fireballs in training than by dark curses in battle, and it showed just how hard everyone was working.

    Chantal shook her head and summoned the burn ointment to her, then banished it at the two veela. While they tended to each other’s wounds, she turned her attention back to Sirius. “My turn now.”

    Sirius grinned, gently pulled away from Valérie, and bowed in a manner that had gone out of style a hundred years ago.

    “Your wish is my command!”

    *****​

    “Here!”

    Harry Potter looked at his beaming girlfriend, and then at the stack of parchments she had just dropped in his lap. A very heavy, but also very familiar looking stack. “Is that…?”

    Hermione nodded several times. “Yes! I finished our study plans for the O.W.L.s., including our current training schedule and leaving enough time to pursue our other projects. It is not as comprehensive as I wanted, but I guess we’ll have to make up the missing parts as opportunities present themselves - I added some flexibility especially for that.”

    Harry had to make an effort to smile. It wasn’t that he hated studying, or that he didn’t understand how important good grades were for his, their life after Hogwarts, but Hermione went more than slightly nuts in the last term of each year, and now with the O.W.L.s looming… “What about Quidditch?”

    “Oh, that too. Since Johnson became team captain, the training sessions have been much more reasonable than under the maniac,” Hermione happily commented. Harry’s girlfriend didn’t seem to catch the irony of calling Wood a maniac while presenting her study session schedule from hell.

    “Good.” Harry knew that Hermione wouldn’t try to make him stop playing Quidditch, she knew how important it was to him, but sometimes… well, she also thought it was too dangerous for him. And that was totally unjustified.

    Hermione was about to turn away when he coughed. “Can I see your schedule too?”

    “Ah…” Seeing his girlfriend nibble on her lower lip told him all he needed to know.

    “How much sleep did you budget for yourself?”

    The young witch hung her head and sighed. “I’ll redo my own schedule, happy?” She pouted at him, though he could see she was feeling guilty as well.

    “Very.” He held her back once again when she tried to leave, and pulled her on his lap, pushing his stack of parchments - probably with lots of bullet points to cross off - to the floor. Holding her close, he waited until she stopped protesting and squirming, then laid his chin on her shoulder and whispered: “Thank you.”

    He felt he relax, lean against him, and heard her whisper back: “Thank you.”

    *****​

    There were more guards in the grey robes of the hit-wizards around at the station than before, Ron Weasley thought when he boarded it. He had to pass through a mobile Thief’s Downfall before he reached the platform too, and while he knew he was safe, he was still nervous - some of the guards looked rather twitchy. With all the delays the security caused, he was very glad that for a change, his family had arrived early. Even if Fred and George had been making jokes about this being a sign of the apocalypse. Rather distasteful given the situation in Britain, but that had never stopped the twins.

    Inside the Hogwarts Express he saw two more guards patrolling already. Ron was rather glad when he reached the compartment Harry and Hermione were in.

    “Hello mates!” He had shrunk his trunk as soon as he had set foot on the train, so he simply sat down across his two best friends. Crookshanks the hero cat jumped on his lap even before he had settled in, and demanded to be petted. Ron was happy to oblige. The two of them understood each other.

    Harry looked at the door. “Where’s Ginny?”

    “She said she was waiting for Neville. Dunno why she couldn’t wait with us in here,” Ron answered, grinning slightly. First boyfriend for his kid sister. He wondered how long it would last. Probably not into their 6th year, he guessed, but maybe until the end of term.

    “Ah!” Harry nodded, and Hermione smiled widely.

    Ron decided against offering to bet on his sister’s relationship. His friends might be taking it a bit too seriously. Understandable, seeing as both had been raised by muggles, and with their special relationship. “Did you see all the guards? Feels like an army on the move.”

    “Yes. But only a few of them looked old enough to have much experience,” Harry commented, then gestured at a patrol of two hit-wizards passing in front of their window. Both had their wands out and were constantly looking around.

    Ron studied them briefly, then nodded. “Yes. Though even the older ones might not have much experience. Dad told us that the Ministry’s on a recruiting drive. They’re literally taking anyone who can hold a wand, there’s even been talk about ‘reassigning non-crucial employes to the hit-wizard corps’.” Ron quoted his father.

    “Sounds like the Ministry’s is gearing up for a ‘Total War’,” Hermione commented.

    “Percy says nothing has been planned. But he also said attendance of the free self-defense lessons the Ministry is offering to employees and their relatives has been lower than before due to rumors claiming that those who do well there will be forcibly recruited,” Ron continued.

    “Damn!” Harry cursed. “I bet that’s the work of Voldemort’s spies. Sabotage recruitment with just a few words.”

    “Language!” Hermione admonished him. “Those who are afraid of fighting wouldn’t fight well anyway.”

    “Still hurts morale. People think the Ministry is getting desperate. Well, some think so. Some trust the Daily Prophet, no matter what they write.” Ron shook his head.

    Hermione huffed at that. She hadn’t been too impressed with the biggest newspaper in Wizarding Britain, Ron knew. Apart from the professional magazines, he didn’t know any magazine or newspaper she actually liked. Apart from the muggle Times.

    “How are things, actually?” Harry leaned forward. “We haven’t heard that much during the vacation.”

    “I don’t know. Dad says the Ministry’s doing well, for the Ministry.” Ron snorted. “Percy says things are progressing according to the projections. But he also assured mum that he was in an ‘essential position’ and would not be reassigned to the frontlines.” He shrugged. “No one knows how many wands the Dark Lord has left, and the Ministry is not talking too much about their own forces. But they haven’t caught any of his marked Death Eaters yet, those he broke out from Azkaban.”

    “The news articles focus on how many of Voldemort’s men have been killed, remain vague about their own losses, and predict victory in the foreseeable future,” Hermione scoffed. “Replace a few names, and it could be the press releases from Vietnam.”

    “Vietnam?” Ron was confused. What had the asian wizards done?

    “It was a muggle war, thirty years ago,” Harry explained.

    “Ah. Who won?” Ron didn’t know much about muggle wars. Everyone knew about Hitler’s war, of course. That had happened during Grindelwald’s War. But Vietnam was on the other side of the Earth.

    “North Vietnam.”

    “Ah.” So, probably a civil war. Like the ones in North America. “Well, that’s a good omen, seeing as Hogwarts is in the North,” he joked.

    Harry and Hermione chuckled, but Ron could tell that they found it about as funny as he himself did.

    No one in the compartment spoke for a while, until the door opened again, and Luna swept inside.

    “Hi everyone!”

    The blonde witch wasn’t wearing her school robes yet, but what looked like a set of brightly-colored patches loosely held together with strings and magic. She jumped from Ron to Harry to Hermione, hugging everyone. Ron couldn’t help noticing that she had started to fill out some, in the right places. Behind her Aicha entered the compartment in a more sedate manner. She was wearing her usual Arabian clothes, and her genie was circling Hermione’s head, eyeing her hair. Hopefully, she wouldn’t try to braid it again, or Hermione might set Crookshanks on her, as she had once threatened. The tomcat was already tensing up, he could feel it.

    “What did you do last week? Daddy wanted to travel to Sweden again, to look for Snorkacks with improved bait, but he couldn’t get a travel permit in time.” Luna pouted. “They recently added so many steps to getting a permit, Daddy said it would be easier to travel muggle style. But he didn’t have the right travel permits for that either, so we looked for elder fairies in Ireland last week. We didn’t find any, but we found some wild leprechauns, and they are related to them, so it was a sort of success!”

    Ron had known Luna for years, so he didn’t try to answer her question until she had ran out of breath. “We spent the week at home. Mum’s having Bill reinforce the wards, again. If that keeps up, we’ll have the strongest wards in the area.” It wouldn’t be enough to withstand a dedicated Death Eater attack, though they should buy enough time for help to arrive.

    “Studying and training,” Harry summed their activities up. “Hermione got a new toy to play around with too.” From the look Hermione shot him, she had been about to go into details when he spoke up before her.

    The door was opened again, and Padma peered inside. “Hello.”

    Ron smiled widely and got up. “Come in!” He embraced her tightly, then nodded at Lavender and Parvati, who were standing behind his girlfriend, before closing the door again. He didn’t pay attention to anything or anyone but Padma for the next few minutes.

    Ginny and Neville finally arrived, right when the train was starting to move. “Oi! Couldn’t cut it any closer, could you?” Ron shook his head at his sister, ignoring the glare she shot at him in return.

    “Now that we’re all here, here’s our study schedule for the O.W.L.s!” Hermione announced with a wide smile, and with a flick of her wand, thick stacks of parchment shot out to everyone in the compartment.

    Ron groaned good-naturedly - he had expected that, but it was tradition now for him to complain.

    Hermione knew that as well, so she simply huffed at him. Ginny was making sympathetic noises to Neville, and Luna and Aicha were giggling. Padma though ...

    “Padma?”

    His girlfriend was staring at her stack in what looked to be complete puzzlement. “That’s your study schedule? Shiva’s sword, why aren’t you all in Ravenclaw?”

    “Well, that’s Hermione’s study schedule, and kind of the, ah, optimal case,” Ron pointed out. “The essential stuff will be at the top of the lists, and the lower you get, the less important it is. The only one who actually learns everything on the lists is Hermione.” That earned him another huff from the witch in question.

    “And she does that for everyone?” Padma was still staring at the stacks in wonder. Well, she was a Ravenclaw.

    “Only for the subjects I’m taking as well. And Ginny, Luna and Aicha got my old schedules,” Hermione explained. “They are copy-protected though. Extensively.” Hermione’s proud smile turned a tad cruel.

    Ron whispered into Padma’s ear: “So you can’t share them without getting cursed.”

    Padma nodded, slowly. “So… if my sister had been nicer to you, she’d have gotten this as well?”

    Hermione looked surprised for a moment, then nodded. “Probably.”

    Padma grinned. “I can’t wait to tell her… after our O.W.L.s.”

    Seeing Padma’s smile, Ron thought that his best female friend might be rubbing off a bit too much on his girlfriend.

    *****​

    Kenneth Fenbrick had thought Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody was the most demanding, cruel instructor possible. The grizzled old auror was as paranoid as one could be without ending up in the permanent mind damage ward in St. Mungo’s, and had all the tact and manners of a goblin torturer with a hangover. His guest lectures in the Auror Academy were legendary, and when word had gotten out a few years ago that he was to teach a few Defense against the Dark Arts lessons per year at Hogwarts, half of the aurors had expected to be called in and arrest him after the first week.

    Aberforth Dumbledore made Mad-Eye look like a sensitivity trainer. At least that was Kenneth’s opinion after he had been thrown against a barely-cushioned wall for what felt the tenth time in as many minutes. He hadn’t broken anything this time, at least, and so he managed to get up within a minute without any help.

    A few yards away, his partner, Bertha Limmington, was still sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall and looking like a troll had used her for target practise with boulders. Judging by the glare she shot at the old wizard, she probably shared Kenneth’s views.

    “Come on, we don’t have all night. Get up and attack again!” Aberforth growled, waving at the auror.

    “Don’t get your pants in a twist,” Kenneth snarled. He acted as if he was still trying to regain his breath while he silently conjured a boa constrictor behind his ‘teacher’, then sent a barrage of stunners at the old wizard to keep him from noting the snake.

    At least that had been the plan. The innkeeper ducked to the left, evading all but one stunner which splashed harmlessly against his shield, and casually cut the snake in two with a silent cutting curse. With a wave of his wand Kenneth was flung against the wall again, despite his attempts to dodge and shield.

    “That would have been a cunning plan… for a first year Slytherin. If it had worked.” Aberforth shook his head. “Team up against me.”

    Kenneth glanced at Bertha, and opened his eyes wide for a second. She gave him the tiniest nod in return. Growling, he cast the brightest Lightning Spark he could, closing his eyes at the last second and rolling to the right. When he opened his eyes again, Dumbledore was between him and Bertha. The two aurors lost no time and cast at once.

    When half a dozen spells hit the older wizard, Kenneth yelled with glee. When the spells passed through what was an illusion, he started to curse, but couldn’t finish before he impacted on the wall again. At the other end of the room, Bertha crashed into the wall with less grace, and he winced at the sound of her bones breaking.

    “That was better. Good teamwork. But you left yourself vulnerable, and you should have been casting blindly while moving, and covered the room in darkness beforehand. Then you might have had a chance against a veteran Death Eater, if he’s having a bad day.” For Aberforth, that was almost high praise. Kenneth hadn’t been verbally abused like that since he was caught by McGonagall trying to sneak into the girl’s bathroom in Hogwarts in his fifth year. A wave of the man’s wand fixed Bertha’s broken leg.

    Why was this wizard working as a bloody innkeeper if he could wipe the floor with two veteran aurors so easily? Kenneth wondered while he once again struggled to get up. He was frustrated, and having Miller watch and smile at the sight didn’t help at all.

    He looked at Bertha, then glanced up to the ceiling. Once again she nodded briefly and then exploded into action, sending spell after spell at Aberforth - an avalanche of exotic hexes and curses she had picked up from Merlin knew where. Kenneth’s own spells joined hers, but both were just a distraction - in between sending another chain of spells at their opponent, Kenneth transfigured the ceiling above the man into a solid block of stone that suddenly broke free and fell down.

    Aberforth was dodging and shielding wildly. It seemed their distraction was working. For a moment Kenneth was even worrying that he had overdone it, and would hurt the old wizard seriously.

    But at the last moment, the man apparated away. Kenneth heard him reappear behind him, but was not fast enough before he was struck by several spells and left immobile on the ground. Bertha followed his example ten seconds later, when her shield broke under the assault.

    “That was almost adequate. You’re starting to think beyond the typical tactics of hired wands, curse-happy Death Eaters and aurors. Most of those think being creative means picking an exotic curse to hit your target with. They never realize that it means using your spells in creative ways, instead of simply trying to hit your target.” Aberforth chuckled. “Give me another year, and we might curse your auror training out of you and turn you into decent fighters.”

    “We’re aurors, not hit-wizards!” Kenneth defended himself and his partner.

    “I’m not talking about your investigative and legal training. I’m talking about learning how to fight in a war. You’re still thinking too much like an auror who wants to arrest all subjects.”

    “You want to turn us into hit-wizards!” Kenneth accused him.

    “Oh, no! Perish the thought! I have far higher standards.” Aberforth laughed.

    “No you don’t, or you’d not be friends with half your friends!” Miller cut in, giggling.

    “Where did you learn to fight like this?” Bertha asked, standing up on shaking legs.

    “I fought in Grindelwald’s War, the Intervention, the First Blood War, and a few other conflicts you probably never heard of. Unlike my brother, I am not much of a show-off though, so you won’t know what I have done.” He chuckled. “Though if you turn out not to be too stupid, I might tell you a few tales.”

    As rewards went, that was not exactly much, Kenneth thought, but the prospect of being better trained for combat and getting to wipe that smirk of the old wizard’s face, maybe even set his beard on fire, was enough for Kenneth to go another round or two. Even if it was hit-wizard training. Or should be.

    On the other hand, being able to beat the grey robes at their own game would be a nice benefit as well...

    *****​

    Keith Yennington, polyjuiced into Francis Farseer, had to force himself to smile and leer when he entered the “Capricious Courtesan”. He didn’t want to be there, at least not in this old and ugly body. He wanted Hortensius with him, not this idiot wand for hire, Bertram Bloomer, following him. But the Dark Lord wanted him to recruit more rabble, and Hortensius had been killed in that failed attack on Fenbrick and Limmington, and so Keith had had to go.

    His best wand had been killed and not captured, Keith had verified that, so his secrets should be safe. And when had visited Knockturn Alley in the last week, polyjuiced into random people, to scout for traps and ambushes, he hadn’t found anything other than the usual patrols. But that didn’t mean it was safe for him. He knew the enemy was after him. Well, that was why he had a dozen wands hidden amongst the crowd.

    If not for the Dark Lord’s orders, he’d not have gone as Farseer. But the old wizard was the only disguise available to him that wouldn’t appear suspicious when recruiting mercenaries. Farseer had an established reputation as a womanizer and a coward, always taking at least one guard with him when he visited the alley. If he wanted additional wands, that would be dismissed as him not feeling safe without more bodyguards, while someone else might be recognized as a recruiter for the Dark Lord.

    He smiled at the nude witch floating above him, gyrating to the music, and banished a galleon to her. She picked it out of the air with practised ease, and flashed a sultry smile back at him, all without losing her rhythm. Leering, he made his way to the bar, already looking for possible recruits.

    Another advantage of being Farseer: Mercenaries who would not hire on with seedier looking wizards, much less Death Eaters, would follow him. And once they were at his supposed home, the Dark Lord’s Imperius would convince them to follow his orders. The perfect curse fodder.

    He spotted a likely candidate, a wizard who looked just a bit uncomfortable, his robes just a bit too shabby for this place. Probably a mercenary down on his luck, and forced to look for employment here. Before he could address him though, appearances had to be maintained.

    “Fire Whiskey for me and my friend,” he told the witch behind the bar, followed by another banished galleon. “Keep the change, sweetums.”

    “Coming right up!” She smiled back at him. Usually, a pretty witch smiling like that would have made him feel good, but since he was wearing this husk of a body, he knew her smile was a lie. All she was interested in was his gold.

    The whore approaching him wore the same kind of lying smile. Not that many wizards would notice, with her chest all but exposed by her scant robes. She moved with more grace than the rest of the whores though, and she had a better figure too.

    “Hello, Sir. I haven’t seen you before I think…” She spoke with a hint of a French accent. “I am Florence.”

    “Hello,” he said, with a leer. “I am Francis. I’ve been a bit… concerned about my safety, with all the bad news lately. Bertram here is a good wizard, but he is alone, so I’ve been forced to keep away from the alley.” Keith pointed at his nominal guard. “But I plan to hire a few more guards, so I can safely visit more often.”

    He could almost see her reevaluate his wealth after this. Multiple bodyguards meant he was important, or at least rich. Probably both. To her credit, she didn’t mention that. “Enchantée. That’s a very smart attitude. Your experience shows, Sir.” She looked pointedly at some of the mercenaries. “Some of those are eager to sign up for the war, quite a foolish notion, wouldn’t you agree? Life’s offering so much, and yet they are ready to throw it away...”

    Keith smiled. Not only was the whore - no real courtesan would be found here - graceful and had good manners, she could also help him with his task. He could have done worse. When the bartender brought him and Bertram their drinks, he ordered another for his ‘new ladyfriend’.

    “To living your life, instead of risking it!” He raised his glass to hers.

    “To life!” she answered.

    Bertram grunted something Keith didn’t catch, and didn’t care to catch. When he had finished belching fire, he offered Florence his arm. “Let us retire to a more private table, dear.”

    The whore agreed readily, as both had known she would. As he led her towards Farseer’s favorite private booth, his watch vibrated - he had a quarter of an hour left to drink more polyjuice. More than enough time to get settled at the table before he had to visit the bathroom.

    *****​

    Mathilda Miller let her eyes roam over the bar while the polyjuiced Death Eater was in the bathroom with his bodyguard. He was probably drinking more of his potion. The courtesan leaned back, crossing her legs, and glanced at Kenneth, who was still standing at the bar, disguised as a wand for hire down on his luck. Well, she wasn’t sure if he actually had planned to look like that - slightly uncomfortable, and wishing he could be somewhere else - but it would work out.

    His partner, the cold but jealous witch, was disguised and dressed up as a whore, flirting - or trying to, she wasn’t exactly a natural at it, even with her training - with Aberforth at a table. Abe himself was looking 50 years younger for the evening, thanks to some alchemical concoction. It was a far more effective disguise, given his age, than polyjuice, and once the battle started, he’d not be hindered by an unfamiliar body.

    The dumb bodyguard reappeared, looking briefly around, then stepped aside to let Yennington pass in front. Mathilda smiled widely at the wizard. “I’ve been missing you already!”

    He grinned, but it felt fake to her. “I returned as fast as possible, but some things just can’t be rushed too much.”

    She winked at him, giggling. “I also felt a bit afraid, with you and your bodyguard gone.” Nodding towards the gaggle of mercenaries at the bar, she added: “Some of those ruffians kept staring at me.” Among them probably a few more of the Death Eater’s bodyguards.

    When Kenneth pushed away from the bar and started towards her and Yennington’s table, she watched who among the other guests was tensing up, or otherwise reacted suspiciously to that. And who relaxed when Kenneth turned away halfway to the table, after a last look at her. She pointed out the one she had caught to Abe with her eyes and saw him nod, then stretch. He got them all then.

    Mathilda slid her foot out of her shoe and up the man’s leg. He drew a hissing breath in response, tensing up, then leered at her, patting his thigh. Unless he had seen through her act, he was getting a bit impatient. She smiled, and moved on his lap, then slid her hands under his robes. She had no doubt that his clothes were enchanted to withstand the best stunner she could cast. If she wanted to hit him with a spell, it’d take time - time she wouldn’t have, not with his guard so close. But she didn’t need spells to take him out of the fight. Not with her hand down his pants, and her fingernails having been sharpened. She dug them in, and twisted.

    Yennington started screaming as if he was getting crucioed. His wand shot into his hand, courtesy of a wrist-mounted quick-draw holster, but he was in too much pain to cast reliably and quickly enough to overwhelm the protections on her seemingly skimpy robe before she overwhelmed his with her fourth stunner.

    Kenneth, who had taken out the bodyguard, slipped into the booth right after that and hit the Death Eater with a few more stunners for good measure, after raising a stone wall from the floor to shelter them from curses.

    Before the wall cut off her line of sight, Mathilda saw Abe cutting two mercenaries - or disguised Death Eaters - down with a single spell that slammed them together hard enough to break multiple bones. She heard and felt his next spell - the entire room shook from the blast.

    “It’s the Dark Lord!” someone screamed, and pandemonium broke out as almost everyone in the room tried to escape - the Alley hadn’t forgotten what the Dark Lord had done in the past.

    “My Lord, I am on youArgh!”

    That probably had been a sympathizer. Now everyone would flee, Mathilda thought as she pulled out a handkerchief from a hidden pocket in her robe. Dropping it on their captive, she looked at Kenneth. He shook his head at the offer and ducked around the increasingly battered wall, leading with his wand and a blasting curse. Mathilda shook her head at his back, then triggered the portkey. To her relief, it worked - the anti-portkey wards were down - and both the spy and the Death Eater were carried away to a prepared safehouse.

    *****​

    Kenneth Fenbrick dropped to the floor, narrowingly avoiding a Killing Curse, then rolled through a puddle of wine or beer - or blood - while a series of weak Blasting Curses followed him, cratering the floor. He was almost under the cover of an upturned table and already preparing to transfigure the wood into stone when the Death Eater finally adjusted his aim, and floor around the auror blew up, throwing him up and back a few feet. He landed hard, feeling his ribs crack, and yelled in pain. His right arm, his wand arm, had protected his face, but had caught several sharp splinters as a result, and another had clipped his forehead. His robe’s enchantments were gone, he realized, when the blood ran over his face and into his eyes, though they had saved his life.

    He managed to get up and even cast a shield spell in time to deflect another curse, but it was shattered afterwards, and the Death Eater was already casting again, the tip of his wand glowing as it cut through the air in the well-known movements of a Piercing Curse, and Kenneth knew he’d not evade the next spell.

    Then the Death Eater’s head blew up in a shower of blood, bone and brain, and Kenneth felt himself getting dragged towards the back of the room - summoned. His partner stood there, slinky robes torn and blood running down her side, but with her wand out and a fierce expression on her face. Kenneth flinched when another blasting curse passed him, impacting on the floor behind him, and sending more shards of stone against the last remaining enemies.

    Landing next to her, he coughed a brief “Thanks!” and quickly transfigured the remains of a table into a bit of cover for the two of them.

    “There were more wands than expected and observed,” Bertha explained, sending a swarm of bees at another corner.

    “So I noticed.” Kenneth grunted with pain and got up again. “Where’s Aberforth?”

    “Dealing with reinforcements in the back. They recast the anti-apparition and portkey wards.”

    Two enemies were left, or so he thought, from about dozen, hiding behind the bar. He was about to cast a Blasting Curse at it, then reconsidered. Instead he transfigured the large mirror behind them into alcohol - pure alcohol.

    “Incendio.”

    The screaming from the two Death Eaters set ablaze was worse than Yennington’s, and went on for longer.

    “I see my lessons were not wasted,” Aberforth Dumbledore stated, entering through the backdoor. A wave of his wand ripped stone fragments out of Kenneth’s arm, another stopped the bleeding, but not the pain. The old wizard ignored his pained hissing as he continued, as if they were back in training: “Though it only worked because they skimped on the fire protection wards. Nevertheless, we are done here.”

    Kenneth nodded, not wanting, nor needing to ask what had happened out back. He pulled out his own portkey, and a second later, all three were gone.

    *****​

    They reappeared in the prepared safehouse, and Kenneth slumped to the ground, shaking. That had been too close. A hand dropped on his shoulder, squeezing gently, and he opened his eyes to smile at Bertha.

    “Boy needs a healer. I fixed his arm, but he might have some internal injuries. Had one keel over and die like that once, in France - looked all healthy, then dropped dead. Healers said he had internal wounds I had missed when I healed him,” Aberforth declared. “We’ll drop him at St. Mungo's, once I’ve taken care of the prisoner.”

    “What do you mean, ‘taken care’?” Kenneth managed to ask.

    “He’s a marked Death Eater,” the old wizard answered, pointing at the exposed black mark on the man’s arm. “The Dark Lord will be able to find him anywhere, and I doubt the Ministry’s wards will be able to hold him off - or his spells.”

    “What…” Kenneth was confused.

    “I see.” Bertha wasn’t. “I trust we’ll get the results of the interrogation?”

    “Amelia will get them, yes,” Aberforth nodded. “Good work you two, but you might want to fix that robe, girl.”

    Kenneth was confused again - or still - until he noticed the large tear in Bertha’s already skimpy courtesan’s robe. Which was, due to their positions, right in front of his face now. He didn’t notice the bound Death Eater disappearing, or the spy giggling until Bertha had repaired her robes.

    *****​

    Albus Dumbledore sighed, looking at the unconscious Keith Yennington. Thanks to three drops of veritaserum, the man had spilled what he knew about the Dark Lord’s plans - and what crimes he had done in Voldemort’s service. More than enough to deserve the Veil, vastly more. The Headmaster shouldn’t feel guilty about what was going to happen to the prisoner. And yet he did.

    He was alone with the man. Aberforth had not stayed after delivering his captive, and the fewer who knew about this, the better. He tapped a crystal orb on his desk with the tip of his wand, ending the recording of the interrogation. Amelia would complain about not getting to ask her own questions, no doubt, but having a complete recording would hopefully mollify her some. Worth the cost of the orb, at least. After casting an unbreakable charm on it, he stashed it in one of the expandable pockets of his favorite purple robe. Before he could deliver it, and weather Amelia’s temper for using her aurors for this, he had to deal with the captive.

    A flick of his wand lifted the man from his seat, a swish bound him in magically conjured ropes, and a twist disillusioned him. Despite the late hours, some students might still be out and about, and it wouldn’t do to be seen carrying a captive down to the dungeons, even if such rumors might make the Weasley twins behave a bit more. As delightful as their pranks could be, especially in these trying times, they had a nasty streak, and tempers were already running too hot.

    If Minerva couldn’t get through to them, maybe they could be distracted by work. Banning their products should see a surge in demand, at least from the Gryffindors and even some Slytherins. And if that was not enough, then he might place some orders of his own - some of the products they were already selling through owl order had applications beyond pranking. If there were enough special orders and changes, they might be kept too busy to work much havoc until their N.E.W.T.s...

    He kept thinking about possible uses for some of the WWW’s stock until he had reached the dungeon cell he had prepared deep under the Gryffindor tower, hidden behind a false wall in a room behind a secret door that looked like it had been used for experiments. Cell wasn’t exactly the right word, though - it was more like a vault, with walls now as thick and safe as those of Gringotts, and spells to match. Not even Voldemort’s magic should be able to reach anything in that vault, not through the castle’s wards, and through the special wards he had placed on the cell. The Headmaster touched the door with his wand and willed it open.

    The massive door swung slowly open, revealing a laboratory behind it. Marble floors and walls, with layered spells to contain whatever experiment might run out of control. Two shelves and desks, and cabinets with supplies. And one small bed, bereft of sheets. He floated the unconscious Death Eater on the bed and pulled out the vial with the potion he had brewed for this occasion. Draught of Living Death.

    Unstoppering it, he stepped up to the prisoner, still disillusioned to everyone but himself. A wave of his wand woke the man up, and while he was looking around, confused and helpless, Albus put the vial to the prisoner’s mouth and forced him to drink.

    When he left the laboratory again, Albus wondered if Keith Yennington had realized, in those few seconds before the draught took effect and he could see his surroundings, what his fate would be.

    He doubted he would ever know, or would want to know.


    Chapter 34: Changes
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015
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  23. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Suggestions for a better title than "The Trap" are welcome.
     
  24. Beyogi

    Beyogi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    The truth unveiled?

    Anyway, great chapter. I can't wait to see what Hermione will do with that computer.
     
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  25. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    What about "The Ambush" or "The capture"?
     
  26. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    "Caught"?
     
  27. rogthnor

    rogthnor Not too sore, are you?

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    Are you offering suggestions to yourself, or asking or opinion?

    Also I like caught
     
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  28. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Asking for opinions on the suggestions I posted, as well as asking for more suggestions.
     
  29. Sargon

    Sargon Not too sore, are you?

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    Reversal of Fortunes, Catching the Initiative, I Am Bush

    As for suggested: Ambush works better than the current one
     
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  30. steamrick

    steamrick Matter: protons, electrons, neutrons and morons

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    How about "trapped" as the chapter title?
    It gives a nice false impression that the trapping will happen to one of the heroic characters^^
     
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