Title: Darkly Loyal
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Harry Potter
Relationship: Harry Potter/Hermione Granger/Draco Malfoy
Content Rating: NC-17
Genre: Romance, Time Travel, Fantasy, Menage, Fix It
Warnings: Violence, Explicit Sex, Dark Themes, Temporary Main Character Death, death of a pregnant character, homicide, and permanent character deaths.
Author Note: The only people who are safe from a messy permanent death are my main characters (Harry, Hermione, and Draco).
Summary: The Lux Ordinis plans are fully revealed, competition between Winky and Dobby ramps up, and the Trinity meets with the ICW.
Harry watched the ward flex around Dumbledore’s house, as the castor he could see it clearly whereas the magic had already faded for Draco. “They haven’t even noticed it, yet.”
“Arrogance or lack of ability?” Draco questioned.
Harry frowned. “Go get Hermione?”
“Sure.” Draco released his hand and was gone with a swish of light.
He felt their return more than heard it. Both were nearly silent on the apparition front on their own but together they barely even stirred the air around them enough to produce any sort of sound.
“What do we know about Nicolas Flamel’s magical abilities?”
“Nothing,” Hermione admitted. “He’s an alchemist and mentored Dumbledore in the art. He went to Beauxbatons, but there are no public records regarding his performance as a student. His age is undetermined, but most believe him very close to seven hundred years old. He’s featured in Muggle mythology and thought to be immortal. There are even stories about the Philosopher’s Stone in Muggle books. I have to think he was just one of many examples the ICW had regarding the creation of the Statute of Secrecy. He was forced to fake his death in the 1400s by his magical peers because he was drawing too much attention to himself. His wife joined him in a magical enclave in France two years later after she faked her own death, complete with headstone. That was a common practice during that time as magicals were living far too long compared to the Muggles they knew. They were living three and four times the average even without magical intervention.”
“What about his wife?”
“They met at Beauxbatons but she was married twice before the two of them married—she brought a lot of wealth into the relationship and probably funded the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone. He was working as a scribe when they married, so he certainly wasn’t making the money required for that kind of research. We know they had at least two children and one of them was a squib.”
“Is the squib child a reflection on their own magical abilities?”
“No, and maybe yes,” Hermione sighed. “There’s little to no research on the matter because squibs in pure-blood families are often disowned as soon as they’re discovered. Then they’re cast into the Muggle world where apparently it’s easier for them, except for that whole part where their entire family has turned their backs on them. We know that squibs can pass magic onto their own children and grandchildren, so there is some genetic component to magic. Perhaps it is Magic’s way of bringing new blood into our societies as squibs often marry Muggles.
“There is also a theory that inbreeding can cause magical deformities—reduced magical power or a squib. You might have noticed that some children from pure-blood families struggle with the practical aspects of magic at Hogwarts. It could be argued that’s just laziness, but I don’t know. Again, there just isn’t enough research into the matter.”
“There was a time when it was quite common for siblings to marry in the magical world,” Draco said. “Children of those relationships weren’t always as they should be so the practice fell from favor. It is still quite common, however, for cousins to marry.” He laughed. “In fact, I sort of did.”
Harry huffed. “I’m adopted into the Black family.”
“Your great-uncle Charlus married into the Black family—but all of his children perished so we have no living blood relations,” Draco said. “Test the ward.”
Harry drew his wand and cast a cutting curse straight through his own ward and huffed in surprise when it hit a tree not far from the house. “Any decent defense ward would’ve absorbed that.”
“Let’s wait for a response,” Draco murmured.
Harry waited and by the time five minutes rolled around he was tapping his right boot slightly in ire. “You know, it isn’t like I want things to be difficult, but it would be nice if one of these motherfuckers would give me a challenge.”
“They can’t greet what they don’t see coming,” Hermione said. “We’re wild cards on their board, and they have no idea of it. In fact, the only person who is probably on guard in this situation is Voldemort. After all, the ministry is blaming Death Eaters for our crimes, and they’re also blaming Riddle for the deaths of his own followers, but he knows different.”
Harry started to respond but there was a pop of apparition, and Sturgis Podmore appeared just a few feet away from them. They watched the older wizard hesitantly step forward then the capture ward sucked him right in, and he fell face first into a blooming rose bush.
“Brilliant,” Hermione murmured.
Podmore extracted himself from the rose bush and cast a few charms on himself to clean up. There were little specs of blood here and one large thorn protruding from the end of his nose which he plucked out with a scowl before healing himself.
“Impressive,” Draco admitted lowly. “Not many wizards can cast healing charms at their own face with that much confidence.” Podmore looked in their direction with a frown. “Can he hear us?”
“Perhaps a buzzing sound, the ward dampens outside sounds to prevent communication,” Harry said. “I don’t remember much about him from the previous timeline. He was a member of the Order and was part of the group of people who came to Privet Drive in my fifth year. I don’t remember seeing him again, honestly. He certainly wasn’t publically involved in what happened with the Weasleys and Diggory.”
“He went to Azkaban briefly because of my father,” Draco said. “So he wouldn’t have had a ministry job after that—it surely lowered his worth to the Lux Ordinis’ cause as far as influence goes, but he could’ve gone on to be the Flamel’s muscle.”
“He’s not as powerful as Dawlish,” Hermione said. “Nor is he as gifted academically—Dawlish took all Os on his NEWTs, so he’s not a dumbarse just a fanatic. I wonder how Savage got so close to Diggory in the ministry and what Podmore has to do with that.”
“Maybe he’s been trying to get his conviction expunged,” Draco said. “It would take a bit of gold and the right pair of hands in the ministry—Diggory would be an ideal choice and the Flamel’s have all the gold they want. Speaking of, are we going to take or destroy the stone?”
“We’re going to take it,” Hermione interjected firmly. “We can’t let an opportunity like that pass us by. Think of all the experiments we could do, Draco.”
“It’s dangerous,” Harry pointed out.
“Most everyone thinks it has been destroyed and those who know different are all going to die,” Draco pointed out.
“Is this like the castle?” Harry asked. “Because I was thinking it’s like the nundu.”
“No, it’s definitely like the castle,” Draco said with a laugh.
Hermione huffed. “Winky told me she couldn’t get me a nundu because you said not to, Harry.”
“You don’t need a nundu. They’re even less trainable than a dragon for fuck’s sake.” He sighed when she huffed again. “Let’s not argue about keeping man-eating creatures as pets, okay? But speaking of the elves, did Dobby ask you a question?”
“About Ginny? I said yes, of course, because she is a threat, and what if those charms hiding her wear off and we don’t notice? McGonagall could find her since she definitely knows where the Chamber is.”
“Why haven’t you mentioned your concerns?”
“I was waiting for you to be comfortable enough with it. I know part of you thinks Ginny is a victim of both Riddle and her mother.”
He could almost see her shrugging it off and sighed as he refocused his attention on Podmore was poking around the ward. The front doors of the house opened, and two people came out onto the porch. The Flamels looked to be about fifty years old, and he wondered if the elixir had de-aged them as well since he’d thought that Flamel was nearly a hundred when he’d finished the stone.
His Consort cleared his throat. “Neither are attempting to hide their magical auras, and they’re just…quite average actually. It’s kind of profane how average they are considering the damage they’ve done to us over and over again. Podmore is on the cusp of becoming a warlock, maybe another year or two? He’s really close to his second maturation.”
“Their magical power may not be impressive, but they have centuries of magical knowledge at their disposal,” Hermione said.
“Can either of them break through my ward?” Harry questioned.
“No,” Draco said. “They’re stuck here until you let them go. They must have used a communication mirror to contact Podmore, or he was just due to arrive for a meeting. He might be here to report Dawlish’s disappearance. The floo is locked down by the ward, right?”
“Right,” Harry agreed. “We need to interrogate that old bastard before we kill him so don’t get trigger happy, Draco.”
“Ha, I’m not the one…well…there was that one time but he tortured you.”
Harry laughed harshly. “Yes, well, Nicolas Flamel has tortured us all for generations except I don’t think it was us. Zir said…we’ve been a triad before and we’d not faced any sort of backlash from those around us. I don’t think we lived our last life in Britain.”
“No, this is your first return to Britain since Ewan killed himself,” Zir said, his voice twisting around them as he appeared in a flash of magic.
Harry watched the elder god lean forward slightly and touched the ward with his fingertips.
“Fascinating,” Zir murmured. “It’s like a spider web.” He turned to them with a grand smile. “Ginevra is furious to be in my company. Well, that was pretty brief actually because I’m not putting up with that little harpy, so I sent her off work in Hekate’s garden for a while. She’ll be able to see the reward of being faithful to my Lady wife but will be denied it until it’s time for her to try again to lead a good life on this plane.”
“That’s diabolical,” Hermione said in admiration. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, dear one.” Zir sighed as he turned to stare at the Flamels. “I was so disappointed by Ewan’s treatment here in Britain that I had no intention of ever having his soul be reborn here again. Then I made a mistake with Tom—I placed him in a horrible situation, and I had no choice but to bring you here, Harry, to meet the threat that Dumbledore had become. And where Death goes—Life and Nature follow. So the three of you came to this silly little island full of closed-minded magicals and look what they did.”
“Where did we live last?” Hermione questioned.
“France—in the 1700s. You were the toast of magical society, my dear, and many envied you when you won the regard of two of the most powerful wizards of the time. You had four children—in fact—you met one of your great grandchildren in your fourth year. Two actually.”
Harry groaned. “The Delacours?”
“Yes, Fleur and Gabrielle.”
“Wow, which one of us was a Veela?” Draco asked.
“Hermione,” Zir said with some amusement. “The two of you fell all over yourselves to have her. It was rather amusing, that courtship. You were the best of friends, and both feared that jealousy would drive you apart when she picked one of you. Though she was quickly of the opinion that she should have you both and she did.”
Draco laughed a little then took a deep breath. “Zir, what damage has their plot done to you?”
“Beyond the loss of spiritual influence on this plane, I can’t say for certain. Hekate lingers near me now more than ever before, and she’s worried. Magic on Earth is smaller. She is diminished here, and I’m not sure it’s because she’s focusing on me or because my ability to shield her so she can grow and change has lessened. Fewer magical children are born every year, Draco. Your enclaves are getting smaller. If something isn’t done—in a few generations magic may disappear entirely.”
“Why?” Hermione questioned.
“The seven of you—you’re supposed to infuse the magic on earth with vitality. Your children move through the world with great power and grace. You’re agents of change and innovation, but the Flamels have been interfering in that process for centuries—moving in the shadows so much that I didn’t notice them. I think maybe Hekate did see them.”
“Why didn’t she…” Hermione huffed. “Free will, right?”
“Perhaps that part of it but my wife is, in her own way, quite ruthless. Magic is a gift, not a right, and she sees, all too well, that there are magicals who longer deserve the gift.”
“So she’d let it die,” Harry said in dismay.
“Right,” Zir said grimly, and he left with a snap of magic.
“I wonder if she ever puts him on the couch?” Draco asked.
Hermione laughed. “You’ve looked at him, right? He’d have to do something pretty damn stupid to get put on the couch. He’s hot like fire.”
“Can Podmore add to their defense wards with the capture ward in place?”
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve only seen one person attempt it and they killed themselves in the effort.” Harry started to step closer to the ward only to hear another pop of apparition. He turned and found an elderly wizard standing not far from the place were Podmore had appeared.
Inside the ward, Podmore and the Flamels started waving him back.
Harry frowned, drew his wand and shoved the wizard into the ward with a banishing charm.
“Tiberius Ogden,” Draco said grimly. “Fuck, we should’ve captured him earlier instead of putting him off in favor of Bones.”
“Right,” Harry sighed. Ogden had been Draco’s first choice, but they’d talked around it because both Bones and Croaker appeared to more immediate threats due to their work at the ministry. “Dawlish didn’t list him as a member.”
“Arthur Weasley didn’t list Diggory or Ogden,” Draco pointed out. “Obviously even the member list is compartmentalized. We won’t get a real list until we question the Flamels.”
“Why did you pick Ogden originally?” Hermione asked.
“He’s Dumbledore’s peer at least age-wise, and he has a lot of political capital because of his wealth. He’s served on the Wizengamot for decades, and all of his children and grandchildren made extraordinarily good marriage matches. He spread them out amongst the Sacred Twenty-Eight like a master chess player. Blood connections like that made him stupidly powerful and dangerous for a variety of reasons. That’s the power of female children, really, they allow for families to make broad inroads into family lines and familial magic alike. They influence their husbands, their children, and often all of that influence is determined by their own patriarch.
“My father had zero control in my parent’s marriage until 1991 when Arcturus Black died. In fact, it’s the reason I’m an only child.” He paused and cleared his throat. “Her grandfather insisted she vow on her magic to never give Lucius another child because he was a corrupt bastard.”
“Maybe she can hook up with someone now and have a baby,” Hermione said brightly. “We’ll do interviews—find her a proper husband or maybe just a young, virile lover that she can run ragged until she tires of him.”
Draco huffed, and Harry couldn’t help but laugh a little before focusing on the people in his ward.
“So this was a scheduled meeting, and we got lucky,” Harry said. “I wonder who else will arrive?”
“I doubt they’re expecting Dawlish since he thought he was the only one who knew the secret,” Hermione pointed out. “This could be what is left of their inner circle.”
Light danced over the ward and Harry focused on Podmore who was prodding the Flamel’s wards with a series of identification spells. The results were annoying that enlightening since he already knew the place was warded for shite. The intent charms were over fifty years old and heavily eroded. There were no defense options, and the anti-apparition ward had crumbled to the point that it was virtually useless. There was no anti-portkey displacement system at all, and there wasn’t a single bit of goblin magic to be found anywhere in the entire ward package.
“Dumbledore was an arrogant bastard,” Draco said dryly. “And these two idiots trusted him way too much not to set their own wards once they arrived here.”
“You can’t alter a ward scheme like this after a Fidelius is put on a property. Podmore certainly should’ve checked the place thoroughly before he placed the charm. We’ve been killing people off left, right, and center and these arseholes still can’t take the bloody Death Eaters or us seriously. Dumbledore was speculating for months about a third faction.” Harry huffed. “Dumb bastards.”
He drew his stave and hit all four of them with stunning spells, one after another. Pernell was the only one to have time to run since he’d hit her last, but he got her before she made it to the porch. “Let’s get to work.”
They passed through his ward with no problem, he’d designed it that way, and Dumbledore’s old wards stung just a little as he stepped over the property line. It was only slightly worse than a paper cut which annoyed him further. “We’ll bind Podmore and Ogden with suppression cuffs.”
Hermione summoned six wands from the four prone bodies and tucked them in her moleskin pouch then did searches for portkeys and alternative magical foci. There were ten portkeys. Ogden and Flamel both had magical staves though neither really had the power to put such a weapon to proper use.
“Let’s start with her,” Hermione said.
Harry fastened portkeys around each of the prisoner’s wrist and activated them one by one—sending them straight to the cells in the operation trunk. “She’ll be a good foundation provided her marriage vows didn’t include keeping her husband’s secrets.”
* * * *
Objectively, Pernelle Flamel was a beautiful woman. She kind of reminded Harry of Fleur Delacour with her bright blue eyes and golden blond hair. He wondered if Ewan Flamel had taken after his mother. Annoyed with that line of thought, he pushed it aside. Ewan was long gone, and Draco was with him—that was what he should be his focus. The misplaced grief he’d discovered in himself was troubling and not something he wanted to dwell on at all.
Draco activated the chair security, and Hermione sat down in the chair across from their prisoner. He didn’t know why his wife wanted to handle the questioning of Pernelle Flamel, but he didn’t have a problem with it. He’d handled most of the interrogations because Draco said he was the most intimidating of the three of them. He wasn’t sure if that was true considering how angry Hermione looked as Draco woke Pernelle.
Hermione drew her stave and held it with both hands as she relaxed back in her chair. “Do you know who I am?”
“Of course,” Pernelle said. Her gaze drifted around and stopped just briefly on Harry before she returned her attention to Hermione. A small smile slipped over her generous mouth. “I knew Albus was underestimating the three of you. He was blind to your potential for darkness as he refused to believe that he’d managed to corrupt another of Zir’s chosen.”
“Dumbledore didn’t do this to us,” Hermione said tightly. “You did—you and that foul bastard you’re married to brought us to this place and time.”
“We work on behalf of Magic.”
“You think Magic requires your help?” Hermione questioned. “Stop lying to yourself, old lady, you’ve spent centuries running away from death and driving people to kill themselves because your son committed suicide rather than marry a woman that you picked out for him.”
“That’s not…” Pernelle’s hands clenched on the arm of the chair, and her face whitened with strain.
“I don’t care if the chair kills you,” Hermione said flatly. “We have three more prisoners to interrogate. If you’re ready to die, just keep fighting it.”
“He died to restore the magical balance,” Pernell protested. “He said so.”
“He was born to give balance, and he would’ve if you hadn’t interfered in his duty. You dismissed his instincts regarding his own destiny and when he couldn’t cope with that a moment more—he poisoned himself.”
“How do you…” Her gaze darkened. “You’re the ones that have John? We thought he’d been captured by Death Eaters.”
“Riddle and his little merry band of fuck-ups are too busy running and hiding from our…little friends,” Hermione said with a wry smile. “But yes, we have John Dawlish, but you shouldn’t think for a moment that he’ll get out of his alive. He’s as dead as you are.”
“You can’t kill me! I have work to do!”
“Hekate doesn’t require your help and moreover, Mrs. Flamel, you’ve lived far too long without facing Zir’s judgment. You’ve lived a terrible, dark life and you must be made to pay for your terrible acts. You didn’t honestly think that Zir would let you continue to corrupt and destroy his children, right?”
“This is about Riddle then?” Pernelle demanded. “That was Dumbledore’s mistake.”
“How can you be so fucking old and so stupid at the same time?” Hermione demanded, her hands tightened around her stave. “Don’t bother answering that. Who are the members of the Lux Ordinis?”
The older witch clenched her jaw, her face when ruddy with strain then she slumped down into the bonds.
Hermione leaned forward. “Is she dead?”
Draco drew his wand and performed a charm. “Yeah.”
Hermione huffed. “Does that count as my kill?”
“Merlin, Mi,” Harry said with a laugh. He frowned at the body. “Unbreakable vow or did the chair make her stroke out?”
Draco performed a medical scan with a flick of his wand and reviewed the results. “Heart attack actually. We can dose the others with calming draughts to keep them level-headed. Sorry, she was good at keeping her emotional state from reflecting in her aura, or I would’ve spelled her before she was that far gone. She has no history of being trained in law enforcement, and that kind of aura control isn’t common for a regular citizen. At least, it isn’t now but whose to say what they would’ve taught her six hundred years ago?” He huffed and pulled out a series of potions. “Who do you want next?”
“Podmore,” Hermione said. “Ogden has probably been a member as long as Dumbledore was so we should spend more time on him before we tackle the remaining Flamel.”
They took a break for lunch after putting Pernelle’s remains in stasis and returning her to a cell. Fortunately, the prisoners could not see or communicate with one another. Podmore had woken up on his own by the time they returned to him. Draco had stunned him again to avoid issues then dosed him with several potions to keep him pliable during questioning without resulting to casting the Imperius which could be magically expensive depending on the personal power of the victim of the curse. Harry wanted all three of them to be at the top of their game with Ogden and Flamel so blunting Podmore with potions was the best choice.
Hermione had prepared the questions for Podmore, but they’d felt the wizard would be less likely to fight Harry on the answers. Harry watched Draco settle Podmore in the chair—it was becoming something of a routine for them which probably wasn’t a good thing, but he was past carrying about being good. There was freedom, he thought, to be had in following Zir’s directives. It had erased the last few lingering doubts in his mind, and perhaps that had been the elder god’s intention.
Harry used his wand to wake up Podmore, and the older wizard jerked in the chair in shock as soon as he opened his eyes. “Surprised?”
Podmore frowned. “Yes, we thought it was Death Eaters.”
“That’s insulting—the only one smart enough for that is Riddle, and he’s too busy trying to find me to look for people he thought were dead,” Harry said mildly. “Do you recognize the chair you’re sitting in?”
“It’s a custom interrogation chair designed by the ICW to ensure a fair investigative process,” Podmore said. “They first implemented it in 1936 after a witch was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. The chair’s use is required for both investigations and trials—witnesses and defendants alike participating in a trial must sit in it, or their testimony is considered invalid.” He paused. “How did you get one with lethal charm work done it?”
“I had one of my house elves steal one from Rome then I customized it for my own purposes,” Harry confessed with a smirk. He watched Podmore adjust to that information. “But we’re here to ask you questions, Mr. Podmore. You unnatural calm in the face of your circumstances is due to a potion we gave you while you were unconscious. Resisting will just cause you pain. Do you understand?”
“Why the calming potion?”
“One of our hostages worked themselves up into a state and had a heart attack. They were very good at regulating their aura—we won’t take such chances from now on.” Harry activated the transcription set up. “Mr. Podmore, when did you join the Order of the Phoenix?”
“I was recruited by Fabian Prewett in the fall of 1978.”
“And when did you join the Lux Ordinis?”
Podmore shifted against the restrains and cleared his throat. “November of 1981 after the murder of your parents. Your survival was unexpected and horrifying. Dumbledore needed all the help he could get in containing the threat. We’d hoped that your Muggle relatives treatment of you would suppress your magic, but you were a magically robust child to spite the circumstances.”
“Why didn’t Dumbledore just kill me?” Harry questioned.
“We’re not dark wizards,” Podmore protested. “You were a child, and you’re still just a boy.”
“A boy you’re more than willing to push and prod down a bitter path of suicide.”
“You have a bloody horcrux in your head!” Podmore shouted. “Surely you know that.”
“I destroyed the horcrux last summer. In fact, I’ve gathered all of Riddle’s horcruxes over the last year including his snake. His defeat is going to be nothing more than a footnote in my life in the scheme of things. The prophecy wasn’t about him, by the way, it was about Dumbledore, and I assure you—everyone in the Lux Ordinis is dark as fuck. You can’t even imagine what awaits you in the afterlife for your sins. What say you now, Mr. Podmore, do I still need to die? Do you believe that tripe Flamel’s putting about restoring the magical balance?”
Podmore took a deep breath. “I…Dumbledore believed. They’ve been doing it for centuries. If they were wrong, Magic would punish them.”
“Zir is neutral, and Hekate is forgiving,” Harry said icily. “But you’ll all be punished one way or another.” He frowned. “Who are the members of the Lux Ordinis?”
“John Dawlish, Amos Diggory, Molly Weasley, Ross Weasley, Albert Runcorn, Montgomery Fawley, Dedalus Diggle, Muriel Prewett, Tobias Savage, William Prewett, Tiberius Ogden, Nicolas and Pernelle Flamel.” Podmore frowned. “There were others, but they’ve all been killed…did you do that, boy?”
“Yes, of course,” Harry said mildly. “It wasn’t even all that hard. Earlier, I have to admit I was kind of pissed at how easy it’s been, but that’s to be expected since none of you were prepared for me. You honestly don’t have the ability to prepare for my spouses or me.” He frowned. “Do you believe the Lux Ordinis’ cause is righteous?”
“No matter the cost?”
“We must safeguard the balance of magic. You don’t have the right to how much power you have. It’s not fair to the rest of us.”
“But Magic herself gave me this power,” Harry pointed out. “Isn’t that her choice? Who are you to question the will of the Lord and Lady of Magic?”
“Your magic must be willingly sacrificed to keep the balance. It’s…” He flinched as Hermione poked him firmly in the face with her wand.
“You’re a fucking idiot,” she hissed. “That’s not how that works! We, as a species, contribute to the ambient magic that helps to create our enclaves and secret places. When a magical person dies, what magic they have in their core isn’t released it is absorbed into the magical soul.” She leaned down into the man’s face. “Do you want to know why Harry is so powerful?”
“Why?” Podmore asked hoarsely.
“Because his soul is ancient. He has existed in one form or another since the beginning. He has walked this earth hundreds of lifetimes, and he will walk among us as long as magic exists. He’s not just a wizard, you see.”
“What is he?” Podmore’s eyes were wide with shock.
“He is Death—the right hand of the Black Dragon.” She poked him again. “You made war on the only inevitable force on earth, you foolish twat. No one escapes Death, Mr. Podmore.”
“You children are mad,” Podmore exclaimed.
“You’ll see soon enough,” Draco murmured. “Of course, it doesn’t matter if you believe us or not—you’re still going to die and there is no salvation for the likes of you. Remember that, Podmore, when you’re on your knees before Zir. Nothing you say will spare you. It doesn’t matter how sincere your beliefs are or how righteous you think you are—there is no defense for what the Flamels have done and what you would’ve helped them do.”
“What do the Flamels have planned and have they included people outside of the Lux Ordinis in those plans?” Harry questioned.
Podmore frowned and shifted in the chair. “Minister Diggory is going to release the contents of the prophecy and force you to meet Riddle. You’re supposed to kill Riddle, but you weren’t supposed to find all of the horcruxes—Nicolas wants Riddle to return over and over again to help cleanse the magical world of undesirables. The people will blame you, of course, every time Riddle comes back. He believes if Riddle is allowed to repeatedly war against you—killing your spouses and perhaps even a child if we’re lucky that you’ll be in the right place to sacrifice yourself to get rid of the horcrux in your head. No one believed you’d be able to get it out of your head. The report from the ICW detailing how clean your aura and magic was after last summer put a real kink in those plans. Did you know what it was when you got rid of it?”
“Yes.” Harry twirled in his wand gently and said nothing when Hermione pulled her stave and used it to smack Podmore across the face. “She’s not happy with that whole ‘Let Riddle Kill the Children Plan’. You know, I’m almost tempted to keep the horcruxes intact and let Riddle come back a few times. Not because I agree with any part of your plan but because I wouldn’t mind killing him half a dozen times over the next decade or so. Unfortunately, most of his Death Eaters are dead. I doubt he’ll have a single marked follower alive by the end of the week.
“And the truth is, Mr. Podmore, is that I’d like to settle down in my wife’s castle and make babies. I don’t have time for Nicolas Flamel’s shite.” He sighed and turned to Draco. “I would murder someone for an herbal.”
“You’d murder someone for nothing,” Draco pointed out and with a glance toward Hermione flicked a slim silver case out of his bracelet. “I had Dobby get them.”
“Draco!” Hermione exclaimed with a huff.
“As terrible habits go, it’s benign, and it makes him feel better. They aren’t going to hurt him—magical cigars and cigarettes aren’t even carcinogenic.”
Harry pulled a thin black cigarette out of the case, closed it, and flicked it into his own bracelet so Hermione couldn’t take it from him. The herbal lit in his hand as he sat back and he took a long, relieved drag. “Mr. Podmore, do you believe there are members of the Lux Ordinis that you don’t know about?”
“Past members that were excommunicated or died before I joined, sure. But I know all of the current members as I handle sensitive communications that Dawlish can’t be trusted with. He’s Nicolas’ blood, but he’s rather ordinary magically and isn’t trusted with the more critical tasks.”
“Who is leading field operations now that Dumbledore is dead?”
“Runcorn thinks he is but Nicolas is filtering all orders through Tiberius Ogden. Runcorn doesn’t have the personality to run the front end operation. Tobias Savage wants to do it, but he’s not right the fit. Though to be honest, Ogden is a little too intimidating to recruit new members so that duty has fallen to me, but once they’re members they will fall easily under Tiberius’ leadership.” Podmore shifted in the chair. “I wish you’d stop asking me questions.”
“Why doesn’t Flamel require oaths of secrecy?”
“Our loyalty to the cause is unquestionable. We serve Lady Magic herself, and she will protect our secrets…” Podmore flushed and trailed off.
Harry wondered how often Podmore had been told that ridiculous lie by Flamel.
“Yeah, not so much,” Harry said amusement. “You daft bastard.” He took another long drag and shivered a little as the calming elements of the cigarette settled into his mind. It wasn’t unlike marijuana though his magic would burn out the soothing high within a half-hour. “Who picks the targets?”
“Magic calls upon Nicolas to make the choice.”
It sounded like a benediction, and it made Harry’s stomach churn.
“Put him back in his cell, please,” Harry said quietly. “Go ahead and dose him with the draught.”
Harry slumped down in the chair as Draco stunned Podmore and removed him from the interrogation chair. He popped the herbal into his mouth and just drew on it steadily, smoke billowing gently out of his nostrils.
“You okay?” Hermione questioned.
“No, these people are evil motherfuckers,” Harry said crossly as he extinguished the butt of the herbal and flicked the remnants into his bracelet. “And I’m starting to feel like an underachiever, which is frankly a bad place for a dark lord to get to.”
Hermione laughed. “We’ll figure something out.” She leaned on the table and stared at him. “Maybe Dobby will let you throw a few people in his volcano.”
“When did you join the Lux Ordinis?”
Ogden glared at him, his hands curling around the arms of the interrogation chair. “1922.”
“Who recruited you?” Harry prodded. He was reluctantly impressed by how tight-lipped the bastard was being even with the potions they’d poured into the elderly wizard.
“Albus,” Ogden snapped and took a deep breath. “Let me out of this chair, you little fucker.”
“Not on a bet,” Harry said cheerfully. “Draco.”
His Consort sighed and pulled his stave which he pointed at Ogden. “Imperius.” He leaned down close to the elderly wizard. “Tell him everything he wants to know.” Harry watched the magic flowing out of Draco’s stave, and it slowly darkened with power until Ogden went lax in the chair. “Their secrets aren’t worth hiding, old man. Their game is over.”
“I work within the Wizengamot—to help shape the law to Nicolas’ purposes. We must be able to act within the law.”
“Within the law,” Harry repeated. “Why is that important?”
“So our work can go on without notice,” Ogden said condescendingly. “Not everyone would understand what we do. If we work within the law, then our cause stays pure.”
“Driving people to commit suicide is not a pure cause,” Harry pointed out dryly. “You people have been manipulating me since I was an infant. How is that pure?”
“You must die for Magic,” Ogden said. “What cause could be more just than that? You don’t understand the duty we’ve been entrusted with, but that doesn’t matter because your purpose is clear. You must die after you defeat Voldemort. It’s for the betterment of society.”
“Society can get fucked,” Harry responded evenly. “I’m not going to die for any of you sorry motherfuckers. Who are the members of the Lux Ordinis?”
“John Dawlish, Amos Diggory, Molly Weasley, Sturgis Podmore, Ross Weasley, Albert Runcorn, Montgomery Fawley, Dedalus Diggle, Muriel Prewett, Tobias Savage, William Prewett, Nicolas and Pernelle Flamel, and myself,” Ogden recited. “There were others—but they’re dead. We’re considering recruiting Kingsley Shacklebolt and Gerald Greengrass. They come from ancient pure-blood families. Diggory isn’t going to last long-term. He’s too focused on killing you, you see. It’s about revenge for him. The problem is that he knows his hatred of you is irrational and we can’t trust him to act properly. John wants to potion him into compliance.”
“Do you think that will be necessary?” Harry asked.
“The man’s corrupted by grief and I think that Weasley woman is just making him worse.”
“What do you know about Molly Weasley?”
“She’s a daft old bitch,” Ogden snapped. “Albus trusted her too much—gave her too much power in the Order of the Phoenix and she’s done a complete nutter since someone killed Arthur.” He paused and huffed. “Since you killed Arthur.”
“I can’t deny that,” Harry said. “Frankly, it’ll be difficult to pretend ignorance in public for decades because it was honestly one of the more satisfying moments of my life. I mean it’s right up there when I killed Dumbledore, and I enjoyed that probably more than I ever should’ve. I’m going to have a real hard time not bragging about it for the next few decades.”
“Why are you doing this?” Ogden demanded. “You should do your duty!”
“What makes you think I’m not?” Harry questioned in an amused tone. “Not that it matters what you think about my actions—we’re here to talk about yours. Tell me about the laws you’ve passed over years to make it easier to control those like me.”
“It was important to orphan the child as soon as possible—then we’d need to gain control over their circumstances. I wrote and saw passed estate laws that allowed the Wizengamot to assign magical guardians to orphans. Money spent here and there assured that one of our members was assigned to the child. They were nurtured and perhaps even mentored in the right circumstances. It’s important to make sure that the child was properly influenced as early as possible. The few times the chosen were allowed to grow up with a proper family—they were difficult to manage.”
“I want to rip you limb from limb,” Harry said conversationally. “I can’t think of a single reason not to do it.”
“It would be a bloody mess,” Hermione said. “And gross.”
Harry turned to look at her. “You want a nundu. Do you have any idea how they eat their prey?”
“Well, they kill with poisoned breath…” Hermione trailed off. “And they don’t leave anything behind…so I guess they crush the bones as they eat. It would be fascinating to watch.”
“And gross,” Draco injected with a laugh.
“What do you have planned for me? What’s already in place?” Harry questioned.
Ogden frowned. “You weren’t supposed to be able to claim a title. With Black dead, the title should’ve stayed limbo. We didn’t realize you were aware of your ability to claim the title through Arcturus. Albus was furious when you claimed the title after the death of your godfather. You knew more than you should—how did you find out about any of it?”
“I’d love to brag about the whole thing, but it honestly isn’t worth the time I’d waste since you’re not going to live long enough to be made miserable by the information. At this point, I can only hope your afterlife is a deeply unsatisfying experience.” Harry frowned as the older wizard glared at him. “Are there people outside of the Lux Ordinis that work toward your purposes? Does anyone else know that I’ve been chosen by Flamel?”
“We’ve had cohorts in the past that were not full members, but Nicolas is not fond of the practice. He hasn’t allowed Albus to indulge in such behavior for decades. Various members of the Order of the Phoenix were often given tasks to complete that was actually the business of Lux Ordinis, but they didn’t know it. Of course, they’re all dead now.”
“Was Remus Lupin a member of Lux Ordinis?”
Ogden grimace. “Of course not, Nicolas would never approve of a werewolf joining our ranks. I don’t know how or why Albus tolerated that dark creature.”
“Yes, since he was at Hogwarts. He joined the Death Eaters at the behest of Nicolas so that we could monitor Riddle. I always said that cock up should’ve cost Albus’ place as operations leader, but Nicolas has always been foolishly fond of the Dumbledore brothers.”
“Why?” Harry questioned.
“They both proved very easy to corrupt to the cause,” Ogden said. “Their father was a real bastard, and Nicolas nurtured them in a way, treated them like sons. They ate that shite up like hungry children. I can’t fault his methods—they were both rabidly loyal to the cause.”
“Were my parents set up to be murdered or was that a happy accident?”
“We knew Pettigrew was a Death Eater, of course, so we manipulated James into picking him as the Secret Keeper. It was easy to get Black in on the plan—he thought it was a grand joke to play on Riddle.” Ogden shrugged. “We were hoping that Black would be killed outright, but when he wasn’t, we had to get him out of the way with the least amount of public scrutiny. Barty Crouch took care of that.”
“Was Barty Crouch a member of the Lux Ordinis?
“Yes, though he would’ve been dismissed if we’d known about the situation with Barty, Jr. It was a dangerous and foolish thing to do. Those of us with very public lives have to live to a certain standard per Nicolas’ rules in order to facilitate new members to the cause. Dumbledore was a true beacon in that regard,” Ogden admitted roughly. “Many flocked to his banner for both organizations, and it allowed us to use the Order of the Phoenix for Lux Ordinis business regularly without exposing our true purpose.”
“Like keeping me prisoner on Privet Drive,” Harry surmised.
Ogden nodded. “And spelling those Muggles to treat you as Nicolas deemed necessary.”
Harry sprung from the chair, his magic pushed the table out his way, and he shoved his wand under Ogden’s chin. “What the fuck did you just say?”
Ogden’s gaze narrowed then he smirked despite the circumstances. “Didn’t know about that, huh? Petunia Dursley adores you, boy. She loved Lily, and you were all she had left of her beloved sister. We had to curse the shite out of her on a regular basis to ensure you lived in that cupboard until your letter came.”
His magic swelled inside him, and although he tried to stop it, power surged through his wand and magic shot out the back of the old bastard’s head—blood and brain matter splattered out behind the chair. Harry staggered back from the body at Hermione’s gasp of shock.
“Easy, love,” Draco said. He snatched Harry’s wand from his hand. “Easy.”
His knees buckled and Draco went with him to the floor. “Shite, sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” Hermione soothed as she joined them on the floor. She ran her fingers through his hair gently, and he felt the press of her lips against his temple as he closed his eyes.
“He was valuable for interrogation.”
“We still have Flamel,” Hermione murmured. “Plus Dedalus Diggle is still at large, and he’s probably also been a member for decades.”
“She loves me,” Harry whispered and shuddered at the hoarseness of his voice. He buried his face against Draco’s neck. “How could they take that from me?”
“They’re evil,” Draco said as he cupped the back of Harry’s neck. “Every single one of them are irredeemable monsters.”
Harry took a deep breath. “We’ll add Gerald Greengrass to the list for interrogation just in case he’s already been read into their mission. Do we need to question Shacklebolt again?”
“No, I have to think these people didn’t know that Dumbledore was using potions to control Kingsley,” Hermione said. “We’ll keep an eye on him, though. Maybe have one of the elves spy on him.”
Harry let his spouses pull him up from the floor and take him into the kitchen area of the trunk. He found himself at the table with a cup of tea, a calming potion, and a plate of biscuits in short order. He took the potion first because he knew he needed it then picked up a biscuit. “It feels natural.”
“What does?” Draco questioned as he doctored his own tea.
Hermione exhaled noisily and frowned as she peeled the orange she’d brought to the table for herself. “Is that really a surprise? I mean…considering.”
“I’m Death.” Harry took a deep breath. “Right.”
“I have to think if you took the life of someone who didn’t deserve it that you’d suffer for it emotionally,” Draco said. “You’re capable of guilt and remorse, Harry. I don’t want you looking in the mirror and seeing Tom Riddle there because it wouldn’t be true. At the end of this, when we’re safe to build our life together, you’ll return to your natural state.”
“Which is?” Harry questioned.
“Neutral,” Hermione murmured. “Death is as neutral as Zir is, Harry. Death comes to us all in the course of time, and nothing is spared, you see. Death isn’t supposed to be a punishment, and for most, it isn’t.”
Harry glanced toward the chair and winced. Ogden’s body was still slumped in the ropes.
“Dobby,” Hermione called. The elf appeared at her side, and she turned to face him. “Harry made a bit of a mess. Will you please dispose of Mr. Ogden’s remains?”
“Yes, Miss Hermione,” Dobby said. He reached out and patted Harry’s arm briefly before trotting off to the back of the trunk.
“Thanks,” Harry said. “I really didn’t mean to…”
“Put a piercing charm through his head?” Draco supplied. “No, I realize you tried to stop yourself, but please keep in mind, love, that you are Death and that old arsehole had it coming.”
* * * *
There really hadn’t been a discussion on who would handle Flamel. Harry couldn’t say that any of them were more entitled to it considering the old bastard’s crimes against all of Zir’s children, but when Draco took the quiz master’s seat, something in Harry relaxed. They’d dosed Flamel heavily with a variety of potions from a calming to the enhanced version of veritaserum that Draco had learned to brew while working with the ICW. They weren’t going to take chances with what they all considered the most crucial interrogation they had.
Flamel’s eyes flickered open—clear and sky blue. He almost looked innocent, and it was infuriating. The older man shifted in the chair, his fingers flexed against the restraints but he was otherwise pliant. Flamel licked his lips and frowned.
“You’ve potioned me.”
“Of course,” Draco murmured. “I’m sure you realize how important you are to what is happening here.”
“You’ve learned things that weren’t for you to know,” Flamel murmured then frowned. “You of all people must understand how important the work is.”
“Of all people,” Draco repeated and his gaze narrowed. “I see.”
“Did you think I wouldn’t recognize my own son?” Flamel questioned. “I wondered…why you never came again like the others.” His gaze flicked to Harry. “He’s led you astray, again.”
“I was never reborn in Britain after Ewan’s suicide because of you,” Draco said baldly. “You destroyed him and Zir placed him elsewhere he was returned to this world.” He paused when Flamel’s eyes went wide. “Yes, Ewan’s spirit went on and lived many lives outside of your influence. It’s curious that you chose to focus on Britain. Why did you do that?”
“Britain is the cradle of magic,” Flamel stated as if it were fact. “From Britain magic spread over the world and touched those who deserved to have magic so, of course, those that would restore balance would be born here where it all began.”
“There are currently three of Zir’s children in other countries—all little more than toddlers. There has never been a moment in the history of magic when the world was without one of Zir’s children. Ewan was not your son—he was Zir’s, and you were gifted with the privilege of raising him.” Draco paused and stared at Flamel. “You failed. You destroyed him with bigotry.”
“He died for the balance,” Flamel said in a distant voice.
“You’ve been saying that to yourself and others for hundreds of years, Mr. Flamel,” Draco said. “It wasn’t true the first time you said it, and it isn’t true now. I could tell you the truth of it. I could tell you what Ewan was meant to do and how you broke that with terrible choices and ignorance but you don’t deserve to know. Fortunately, he escaped you and the life you wanted for him before you could damage his soul.”
It was more than fortunate, Harry thought, he couldn’t imagine the path his own soul would’ve taken if Zir hadn’t joined his path with theirs. Draco and Hermione brought different things into his life, and he wondered what he gave them. Was it equal? Did his presence comfort them the way they comforted him?
“Who are the current members of the Lux Ordinis?” Draco asked.
“John Dawlish, Amos Diggory, Molly Weasley, Sturgis Podmore, Ross Weasley, Albert Runcorn, Montgomery Fawley, Dedalus Diggle, Muriel Prewett, Tobias Savage, William Prewett, Tiberius Ogden, myself and Pernelle.” He trailed off with a frown.
“Who do you view as potential members in the future?”
Flamel hesitated and shifted in the chair as much as the restraints would allow. “Gerald Greengrass has potential. His family is ancient and invested in the preservation of the Light.”
“The Greengrass family traditionally sorts to Slytherin and Ravenclaw,” Draco pointed out.
“I don’t care about that ridiculous sorting crap,” Flamel snapped. “Albus put too much faith in that bullshite.”
“There are a few students at Hogwarts that Albus considered to have great potential for our cause. I’ll be evaluating them as they leave school and enter society. The kinds of jobs they take and the educational choices they make after Hogwarts will determine whether or not they’re invited.”
“Marietta Edgecombe is especially interesting because she’s a follower and easily manipulated. I wouldn’t trust her with the main mission, but she would be good for support. Anthony Goldstein because he’s easily manipulated and more importantly intense in his devotion to own prejudices. Shaping him to my purposes will be easy. Neville Longbottom is another I have my eye on. The family has served in the past but Franklin Longbottom was headstrong so when he took the title, I chose not to approach him. Augusta is a problem, of course, due to her controlling nature and the boy’s capitulation to her wishes. I think he’ll be easier to manage than his grandfather. I never approached young Frank because of the prophecy—we couldn’t be certain if it were about the Potter boy or the Longbottom heir. I believed it to be about the Potter boy, but Albus was concerned that it might be otherwise.”
“What qualities do you look for in members?”
“An inclination toward civil service and loyalty to the Light. Personality flaws that I can exploit are also helpful—an obsessive nature, easily led and manipulated the tendency to hold a grudge and the potential for religious fanaticism. Purebloods and half-bloods raised in the magical world are preferred as they’re easier to situate in Britain for my needs. They have better social and family connections.”
“Purebloods like Tiberius Ogden.”
“Yes, of course, Tiberius is situated very well politically. He’s made excellent use of his daughter and granddaughters—integrating them into various ancient families within in sacred twenty-eight. I was quite pleased when Albus brought him into the fold.”
“What about Gellert Grindelwald? He was once a member.”
“Yes, unfortunately, he and Albus engaged in an inappropriate relationship,” Flamel grimaced. “I had to choose between them, and I knew Aberforth would be difficult to keep without Albus’ support. Gellert and Albus were young and easily manipulated into arguing. The death of Arianna Dumbledore helped break open the fracture between them. Unfortunately, Gellert took the rejection very personally.”
Harry shared a look with Hermione before refocusing his attention on Draco who looked flabbergasted. Draco leaned forward and took a deep breath. “Just how many people do you think you’ve killed because of you’re a bigot?”
“We must walk the correct path and those that can’t must be punished.”
“And the people who died in Gellert’s blood war? What about them?”
“Life here is but one leg of our soul’s journey.”
“Says the motherfucker that’s been living for hundreds of years,” Harry muttered.
Draco sent him an amused look, and the tension drained out of his shoulders as he refocused on Flamel. “Who do you believe was the most influential member of the Lux Ordinis?”
Harry’s stomach lurched.
“Harry’s great-grandfather,” Draco said neutrally.
“He helped shaped the Wizengamot regarding the practice blood magic and other dark magic practices. It made it easier to discourage ritual marriage which is something that those that are marked by Zir tend to favor. Unfortunately, we were never able to completely outlaw ritual marriage. It remains a goal.”
“Because such marriages create situations that are contrary to your goals,” Draco surmised. “We achieved a Trinity bond. Did you think Magic would’ve allowed such a thing if she cared about your goals?”
Flamel just glared.
“Was he the last Potter to be a part of your organization?”
“Henry was difficult to control at times, so his death was quite a relief in the end. He couldn’t be trusted with all the details of our operation. We were tempted to recruit his sons, Charlus and Christopher, but in the end, we believed neither were a fit for us. It was for the best considering what happened next.” Flamel’s gaze flicked briefly toward Harry. “Christopher Potter would’ve been very difficult to manage due to his power and social popularity if he’d set himself against us for targeting his grandson.”
“Is there an end in sight?” Draco questioned. “Do you foresee a day when the balance is restored?”
“Zir’s influence must be neutralized—until that is done the work must continue.” Flamel twisted his wrists against the restraints.
“Do you have a backup plan?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is there someone out there lurking to take your place who isn’t a member of the Lux Ordinis but knows your goals, understands your purpose?”
“There is no need. I’m here, and I will continue until the matter is settled.”
“Have you written down the history of the Lux Ordinis? Have you documented your goals for Harry and for the future?”
“You’re incredibly arrogant,” Draco said evenly.
“I’m protected by Lady Magic. I work on her behalf.”
“I wonder when you started believing your own bullshite or if you just went insane after Ewan escaped you. Don’t mistake it for anything else, Flamel, he killed himself to get away from you. He preferred to die than to spend another single fucking day at your mercy.” Draco stood. “You doubt me but you shouldn’t because I’ve been where Ewan was the night he took his life. I understand how your betrayal and corruption penetrated the very heart of him.” He moved to stand next to Flamel and leaned down then said, “Ewan’s hatred for you burns in the very soul of me, and it will linger in me for eternity.”
He walked away, and Harry took a deep breath as Draco turned, drew his athame, jerked Flamel’s head back and slit his throat with one vicious slash. Blood gushed, and Draco stalked toward the cells. Harry had no doubts that the rest of their prisoners would be dead shortly. He looked toward Hermione and found leaning against the wall with her eyes shut.
“Was this too easy?”
Harry walked over to her and cupped her face with both hands. She leaned into him, her eyes wet with unshed tears. “They say things like marked and chosen, but what we are, Hermione is blessed. You must know that we are Zir’s only focus currently. His investment in us, in our magic, and our goals is profound. Our success protects his wife, and that’s everything.”
“Is it?” she questioned.
“Yes,” Draco said as he came to them, eyes dark and focused. “It’s everything.”
Harry pulled Draco close, and they stood together, arms wrapped around each other. He pressed a kiss to Draco’s forehead. “They’re all dead?”
“Yes. We should let Dobby destroy the bodies so the others don’t know for certain what happened to them,” Draco murmured and turned his face so he could hide briefly in the fall of Hermione’s hair.
* * * *
The drive to push through and end it as fast as possible warred with his desire for a bit of peace and quiet. They had a beautiful home—tucked away from the world in a way that he’d never had before. In the other timeline, he’d been determined to fight a very public war with Britain regarding his marriage, and he’d paid for that arrogance. He cast another cleaning charm at the cell that John Dawlish had been in. Draco had used Killing Curses on the prisoners, but death wasn’t clean no matter how it was accomplished.
He left the little prison area and stopped briefly to look the scoreboard. Dobby had managed to snag Greyback which was kind of annoying since Harry had really been looking forward to killing him personally. Winky had added Nott, Sr, and Goyle, Sr to her list.
The elf appeared immediately. “Yes, Master Harry.”
“Fenrir Greyback isn’t a marked Death Eater.”
“The Dark Twat marked him yesterday,” Dobby exclaimed earnestly. “I promise. He be running out of followers so…he mark Greyback and Scabior. He try to mark little Vincent Crabbe, but he be so scared that he ran and Winky took pity on her bait and helped him. Dark Twat say he be going to mark Little Goyle, so Winky get rid of Big Goyle. She stick Little Goyle in a shack in Bulgaria with Little Crabbe.”
“Right,” Harry sighed. “Make sure to show me the memory of Greyback being thrown in a volcano later.”
“Master Dragon very upset,” Dobby pointed out.
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “But he’ll be okay.”
Dobby nodded and popped away.
Harry walked to the other end of the trunk where they’d tucked a large bed behind a privacy screen. His spouses were curled up on the bed together. They were naked, but nothing about their embrace looked sexual. Harry shed his clothes and joined them on the bed. Draco shifted out of Hermione’s arms for Harry which surprised him. His Consort often preferred their wife in moments of emotional upset.
Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s hair. “Love?”
“Flamel didn’t love his son any more than Lucius loved me,” Draco said. “Ewan couldn’t live the way Flamel wanted and…I couldn’t do that for my father either. I couldn’t walk the dark path he put before me, and he must have hated me in the last moments of his life. It feels like betrayal is part of my destiny.”
Harry closed his eyes and settled his hand on his Consort’s neck. He clenched his fingers gently, and Draco shuddered. “What do you need?”
“I already have everything I need.” Draco moved again and pressed his mouth to Harry’s.
The kiss was soft, sweet, and honestly probably the most chaste kiss he’d ever received from his Consort. He settled in with them when Draco released his mouth and let his head rest on Harry’s chest. Running a hand down his husband’s back, Harry wondered just deep the psychological wounds of their past lives could run. Being in Zir’s presence so often in their mortal forms had to play some part in it, and he hoped that when their circumstances improved that the Black Dragon would find less need to visit them because he wanted something different for their lives than what they were currently living.
Hermione reached out and laced her fingers with Harry’s where his hand rested on Draco’s back. “What are you thinking about?”
“It’s probably high-handed and old-fashioned, but in the other timeline, all I really wanted for you both was to…” He sighed and flushed.
“I wanted to give you a happy, soft life. I wanted to take care of you both—it’s really the foundation of why I married you individually. I still want that despite how essentially unrealistic it is. I’m not saying I wanted to keep the two of you locked away in the house like…objects. I just wanted to take care of you.” His fingers clenched briefly in hers, and he focused on her face. She looked startled but not angry. “And I failed.”
“Is this the part where we tell you that we were all involved in that arrogant bullshite?” Draco asked. “Because we didn’t take them seriously after we left Britain and we underestimated how far they were willing to go to get control over you. Neither one of us expects you…” He sighed. “Right.”
“What?” Harry prodded.
“You realize a lot of what you’re feeling is probably because of family magic? You’re the head of our family, and that comes with imperatives that can be intrusive. Considering the state of the Black family magic then and now, it’s no wonder you were pushed to focus on such things. It also probably explains how easily you were made to go to ground with the two of us when it’s your nature to stand and fight.”
“I can’t say that part of me wanted to hide you both away as soon as we woke up in this time, but I’m trying to get a handle on it. I’d never want the two of you to think that I don’t consider you equal in all of this.”
“Intellectually, I get what you’re saying,” Hermione said then grinned. “But emotionally, I’m pretty on board with that whole patriarch business.”
Harry laughed. “Mi.”
“I’m mean not like a daddy, but certainly I see you as my Lord,” she admitted, and her cheeks flushed.
Harry brought her hand up to his mouth and kissed her palm. “I’m beginning to understand the whole beard thing.”
Draco laughed and relaxed between them. “I need a nap, so hush. Killing a whole bunch of people in a temper wore me out.”
Harry kissed the top of Draco’s head and grabbed the duvet which he pulled over them. “Then sleep, Dragon. When you wake up, we’ll have some dinner, and you can pick out our next target.”
Draco huffed. “Sleep, shagging, food, then kidnapping.”
“Better plan,” Hermione agreed and snuggled down into her pillow.
Molly Weasley was a wild card—unpredictable and malicious. The decision to take her next was pretty much a given, so Harry had just nodded when Draco announced his choice. Since she was going to die, they didn’t bother with theatrics. Kidnapping her out of the Burrow was the work of nothing as she hadn’t had anyone to adjust the wards for her. They’d fallen to pieces after Arthur’s death.
Harry sat down in his chair and stared at the older woman, bound in the interrogation chair, for a few moments before nodding. Draco used a bit of magic to prod her awake. “Good morning, Molly.”
Her gaze narrowed as she shifted in the chair and the restraints tightened. “What do you think you’re doing, Harry Potter?”
Harry smiled. “I wanted to have a conversation with you—a real one because we’re more than due for one. Arthur told us you weren’t very invested in the ideals of the Lux Ordinis because in the end money and power drove you. But I know you’d not walk away from your ugly little mission if I offered you a million galleons. I want to know why you’re so determined that I marry your wretched off-spring.”
“You don’t deserve the Black fortune any more than that mutt of a godfather did,” Molly said and arched up against the ropes. “What is this chair?”
“It’s designed to make you tell the truth. If you try to fight it—it’ll kill you.”
“Is that what happened to Arthur?”
“No, Arthur was weak and told us everything we wanted to know,” Harry said.
“Then why did you kill him?” Molly demanded hotly.
“Because he deserved it,” Harry said and smirked at the shock on her face. “I’ve killed a lot of people who deserve it, actually, including Dumbledore. I’m going to tell you something I’ve not bothered to tell any of our other guests.” He pulled out an herbal and lit it. “I won the war—defeated Voldemort for good. But I made choices you didn’t like. You attacked my marriage and tried to force me to marry Ginny with an illegal contract Dumbledore signed on my behalf. You manipulated many people into seeing things your way and eventually you sent that son of a bitch, Percy, to my home to murder my pregnant wife. He succeeded.” He took a long drag on his cigarette and blew out smoke circles as she stared at him in disbelief. “So, I sacrificed your least useful son, Ronald, in a blood ritual so the three of us could come back in time.”
Molly’s mouth dropped open. “That’s how you…knew to claim your title early before Albus could claim regency.”
“Yes, of course, I’ve been about ten steps ahead of you since the night my godfather was killed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go back far enough to prevent that.” He waved a hand. “All of this is your fault, Molly. Arthur, Ron, Percy, and Ginevra are dead because of you and your disgusting desire to hold me hostage to Dumbledore’s plan.”
“The prophecy must be met!” Molly shouted.
“The prophecy was met when I killed Dumbledore,” Harry said. “It was never about Riddle, to begin with. I’ll kill him, too, because he’s going to try to kill me. But, and I think you know this, it’ll be a mercy killing of sorts. Dumbledore tortured and destroyed Riddle when he was little more than a child in order to meet Flamel’s goals.”
“It is Nicolas Flamel’s duty to guard the balance of magic to protect the Light,” Molly exclaimed. “You don’t understand what is at stake.”
“I told you Ron inherited his stupidity from her,” Hermione said and huffed. “She’s a waste of time, you know. We should just kill her and move on.”
“These two have ruined you, Harry,” Molly said. “You’re supposed to be good. You’re supposed to be a soldier for the Light.”
“No, I’m not,” Harry said and laughed. “Zir’s children on this earth have many purposes, but it is not and never has been my role to serve the Light.” He tossed his feet up on the table between them. “Have you told anyone about the Lux Ordinis?”
“No, I don’t handle recruitment,” Molly said snidely. “I have better things to do.” She struggled against the ropes, and they tightened in response. “Let me out of this chair, Harry Potter, right now! Your mother would be so disappointed in you.”
“You don’t know a fucking thing about my mother,” Harry snapped. “You’ve got nowhere to go, Molly. No one is going to rescue you from my clutches.” He smiled then. “Would you like to know what happened to Ginny?”
She glared. “You murdered her, like a coward.”
“I couldn’t be bothered to kill her personally,” Harry responded. “She wasn’t worthy of my individual attention, so I had my house elf toss her in a volcano.” He laughed when Molly’s mouth dropped open. “That’s your fault, too, by the way. You’re the one that turned her into a psychotic fangirl. You’re the one that sent her back to Hogwarts with instructions to kill my owl. You’re the one that sat in the kitchen of the Burrow and plotted the kidnapping and murder of my wife. As I said, everything that has happened is your fault. You’re the author of your own misery—every single moment of it. Moreover, your reckless and disgusting ambition in the other timeline led to the exposure of the Lux Ordinis, and I’m going to kill every single member of that fucked up cult. We’ve already taken out the Flamels.”
“You should’ve done what I wanted!” Molly screamed. “You belonged to Ginny! My daughter deserved to be the Countess of Blackmoor! She deserved all of the money! It was her birthright!”
“Well, she’s a complete nutter,” Draco said and stretched. “I don’t have any questions for her. There’s no way Flamel or any of the others actually trusted her with operational details regarding the Lux Ordinis. She’s certainly not stable enough to be trusted with anything of a valuable nature regarding their mission.”
“Shut up, Death Eater,” Molly hissed.
“If I were a Death Eater, I’d be torturing you to death right now,” Draco said and smirked when she paled. “Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re worth the magic.”
“I just used the Killing Curse the last time,” Harry said and lit another herbal. He waved the black cigarette. “This is keeping me calm enough to speak to you, by the way. Because I’m so fucking furious with you, Molly, that it actually makes being in the same room with you difficult. I want to rip you limb from limb with my bare hands. I could bathe in your blood, you vicious old cunt. The only reason I’m not is that I wouldn’t want to indulge in that kind of physical violence in front of my wife. She doesn’t deserve to be exposed to such a spectacle.”
“Your wife,” Molly snarled. “She’s nothing but a little mudblood who doesn’t understand her place! I should’ve started potioning her when I wanted instead of believing Ron when he said he had her under control.”
Hermione poked Molly with her stave hard. “Your idiot bastard of a son never had any hope whatsoever of doing anything with or to me without some sort of magical intervention. Why on earth would I have ever wanted him of my own free will? Ron was lazy, cruel, and dumb.” She hit Molly in the back of the head, and the older witch hissed in shock. “I’m the brightest witch of the bleeding age, you dried up old hag. Even that attraction charm that someone put on me in third year faded under the strain of his idiotic behavior. I did the world a favor when I killed him.”
“You killed Ron?” Molly demanded. “You bitch!”
Hermione rolled her eyes and walked away. “What does it matter, really, which one of us killed him? He was a waste of flesh, bone, and magic.” She leaned against the wall next to Draco. “But, yes, I killed him. Reducto to the chest—he groaned a bit and cried as he drowned in his own blood. It was pitiful and boring. It was less than he deserved.”
“You’ll all pay for this,” Molly ground out through clenched teeth.
“There won’t be anyone left to avenge you,” Harry said evenly. “And anyone who even thinks about making themselves a threat to me will die. I’m well past caring, Molly, about anything so ambiguous as right and wrong. If the four children you have left come at me or mine—I’ll kill them, too. I hope for their sakes that they just walk away and go live their own lives. I’m prepared to allow that.” He drew his wand and put it on the table between them as he stared at her. “Your parents tried to arrange your marriage to Orion Black, but he preferred his own first cousin, Walburga, over you.”
Molly’s cheeks flushed red. “My parents sought a profitable union for me. It was their duty.”
“And yet, you ended up married to Arthur Weasley whose mother was cast out of the House of Black for marrying a blood traitor. That’s not exactly profitable match, Molly. But that marriage wasn’t done to please you or your parents, was it? We know about the selective breeding program the Lux Ordinis has been orchestrating. Did the Flamels tell you how many children to have? Or did you just have to keep trying until you finally got a girl?”
Molly struggled against the chair. “Shut up, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I don’t care,” Harry said evenly. “You’ll answer my questions, Molly, or I’ll make you beg to die.”
“Albus gave me a potion a few months after you were born,” Molly blurted out. “To ensure I had a female child and told me to get pregnant as soon as I could. We had to wait until Arthur’s contraception wore off.”
“Around the time that it was announced that Sirius Black had adopted me for his heir,” Harry said. “So even her conception was part of the plan. That’s disgusting, Molly. How do you live with yourself?”
“It was her duty to the Light. Albus hoped you’d be the one—the one to restore the balance permanently so the Flamels could finally rest. Ginny was to marry you to secure the Black fortune so we could rebuild afterward. We hoped another war would help clear out the less desirable elements of our society. There are too many half-bloods and Muggle-borns in Britain. Voldemort will kill many of them—it’s for the best. Magic is spread too thin, and the pureblood families are suffering for it.”
“There is not enough room in this trunk for me and her stupidity,” Hermione announced. “I’m serious, Harry. I can’t handle this. I’m going to suffocate if this idiot continues to breathe my air.”
Harry picked up his wand with a shrug, and Molly’s eyes went wide. He turned to Draco. “Did you want the honor?”
“I think she may have had some affection for you once,” Draco said. “So it’ll hurt more if you do it.”
“Avada Kedavra.” Harry’s curse hit her, and she slumped over like a doll. “Huh.”
“What?” Draco questioned.
“Second time was just as satisfying as the first,” Harry admitted. “Winky.”
The house elf appeared immediately and rocked back on her heels. She had a sack over her shoulder which was wiggling a bit. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Who’s in the sack?”
Winky quirked an eyebrow. “Carl Mulciber. He be trying to flee to France, but I caught him.”
“Do nundus get full? How many are on the preserve?”
“Several hundred. I spread out the feeding.” She hitched the sack and looked toward Molly’s body.
“Go ahead and take Mrs. Weasley with you this time,” Harry said. “Try to make sure no one finds her remains. We don’t want any of the other members of the Lux Ordinis to run.”
Winky snapped her fingers and Molly’s body disappeared. “Nundus be liking live prey. I give Old Witch Wheezy to new mother for babies.”
Harry snorted when the elf popped away. “I hadn’t really thought about it but what if the people on the preserve notice her?”
“The preserve is monitored magically from afar,” Hermione said. “It’s only warded to prevent the nundus from escaping. I think the only reason Aberforth’s body was discovered is that he managed to trip some sort of security measure. I have a feeling that Winky has been feeding those nundu for decades and not getting caught. Barty Crouch, Sr was actually quite dark apparently.” She shrugged when they both looked at her. “Darker than us. I mean, we only kill people who need it.”
“You really think that Dumbledore was plotting that far back to get the Black fortune?” Draco questioned.
“Yes,” Harry said. “But more importantly, you and I both know how much political power the House of Black can have in the Wizengamot.”
“So he’d have seen Sirius jailed or dead regardless of what the poor man did,” Hermione said. “The day he made you his heir…”
“He signed his own death warrant,” Harry said grimly. “It all dove-tailed so neatly for Dumbledore, didn’t it? He had another child of Zir in his near-control, and it was so easy to manipulate everyone around him to make sure I ended up an orphan. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover he was responsible for Peter’s defection to the Death Eaters. He made sure one of his dedicated followers had a daughter that could be used to trap me into marriage. I imagine Molly’s parents were members of the Lux Ordinis as well.”
“Did they really need the money?” Hermione questioned. “They could make their own gold with the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“Money is about power,” Draco said. “And the only threat to your power is another person who is wealthy and politically well-positioned. The best way to neutralize any enemy is to make them poor and strip them of any desire to better themselves. They’d been destroying people for centuries, love. The Flamels knew exactly what it would take to break the human spirit.”
“It’s all disgusting,” Harry murmured. “The scope of their crimes against magic and our kind makes Riddle seem like a mosquito.” He rubbed a shaking hand over his face. “Selective breeding and political marriages. I wonder how much Ogden’s family knew about his true intentions? I really fucked up when I killed him.”
“We’ll just have to watch them,” Draco said. “We can’t assume that killing the ones we know to be members will be the end of the Lux Ordinis. We must protect our son, Harry. If that means we kill anyone who’s have even heard of that fucked up cult, then so be it.”
Harry nodded. “Agreed.” He focused on Hermione. “Mi?”
“Let’s focus on Savage next,” she said. “He’s well-positioned in the ministry and on the Wizengamot. It’s time we get a good look at what the Flamels had planned for us legally and how much has already been done.”
* * * *
Kidnapping a peer turned out to be quite a bit different than absconding with the average wizard. Lord Savage had a variety of surprising personal security measures that weren’t exactly difficult to circumvent, but they did prove to be quite a challenge. The time investment was annoying but not getting caught was their number one priority if they wanted to have any sort of decent future in Britain. Harry wasn’t interested in spending the rest of his life in isolation or in outright hiding for what he considered their justifiable murder spree.
He’d only built three ward busters on his own in the future, but he was pleased to see that Savage’s wards shattered under the weight of the device in record time. The property was isolated enough that the closest neighbor was more than a kilometer away which worked to their benefit as Savage came storming out of his house, wand already drawn.
“Arrogant motherfucker,” Draco muttered from his place at Harry’s side. “The anti-portkey field is being powered separately from the wards as you suspected.”
“Yeah, but he’ll be out of that field shortly.” Harry drew his stave and summoned the stupid wizard with a silent spell.
Draco snorted. “For fuck’s sake.” He flipped the portkey around his hand, activated the sticking charm and tossed it toward Savage as he flailed in the air toward them. The moment Harry pulled him over the boundary, the portkey activated. “The lack of common sense is almost embarrassing actually.”
Harry shrugged and stored his stave. “It works to our advantage. One of my biggest personal regrets from fourth year is that I never tried to summon that stupid egg.”
“Surely they would’ve….” Draco trailed off. “It probably wasn’t spelled against summoning.”
Harry sighed. “It honestly keeps me up at night.”
Draco laughed and took his hand. They apparated to the Shrieking Shack and stepped individually onto the unmarked entrance to enter the trunk. Harry watched magic swirl around his Consort, and Draco disappeared with a swish. If someone stepped onto the entrance that wasn’t approved to enter the trunk—they’d be tossed into Black Lake and memory charmed.
Hermione was seated a the table with a piece of parchment. They’d decided she had the evenest temper and since they wanted to get as much information out of Savage as possible, she’d handle the interrogation. “He landed pretty hard in the cell. Reason?”
“Probably because he was hovering about five meters above the ground when the portkey activated,” Harry admitted. “I summoned him to get out of the anti-portkey ward.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I loathe stupid people.” She pulled her hood up. “The longer we can keep the interrogation impersonal, the more information we’ll probably get out of him.”
Harry tugged his own hood into place as he walked toward the cells. By the time he had Savage searched and ready to transport to the chair, the trunk was dark, and Draco was standing next to Hermione, hood in place. He levitated Savage’s unconscious body into the chair, activated the security. “He had a portkey, an extra wand, and an emergency beacon tethered to the DMLE which he didn’t activate when his wards fell.”
“Arrogant git,” Draco muttered. “A dimensional space is unplottable, but I’d feel better if the beacon is destroyed.”
“It might go off if we destroy it,” Harry said. “Dobby.”
The house elf popped into the room, clearly disgruntled. “Yes, Master Harry?”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Busy?”
Dobby pursed his lips. “Winky beating me by one and we have three Death Munchers left. I be swamped, Master Harry.”
“Take this beacon and set it off where it would amuse you the most. It’s going to mobilize the DMLE so make sure they don’t see you.”
Dobby took the beacon, stared at for a few seconds, smirked, and popped away.
“That’s going to be bad,” Draco muttered.
“Well, they probably won’t get too hurt,” Harry said and shrugged. “Object lessons are important. I wonder how many people in Britain are so privileged as to have a beacon for the DMLE?”
“One such device costs several hundred galleons a year,” Draco said. “Fudge implemented it as a revenue source during our third year because of Sirius.”
“I deeply resent that Dumbledore murdered Fudge before I could,” Harry confessed and drew his wand. He shot a spell at Savage to wake him.
Savage hissed and jerked against the ropes immediately. His gaze darted around before he settled on Hermione. In her hood and with the masking magic, even her gender was obscured. Harry walked across the space and joined Draco who was leaning up against the wall in the shadows on Hermione’s left.
“Good evening, Lord Savage.”
The man glared and reared up against the ropes which tightened harshly in response. “Fucking Unspeakables.” He slouched down in the chair and glared into the darkness. “What the fuck do you want, Croaker? I already told you, I had nothing to do with your kidnapping! I’m going to get those fraud charges dropped, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Why can’t you get it through your thick skull that I’m not the enemy?”
“Of course you are,” Hermione said gently as if he were a child. “You’re the enemy of magic, Lord Savage and that’s what we’re here to talk about.” She leaned forward, and the light glinted off the masking magic horrifically. “The chair you’re sitting in is spelled for honesty. It is also designed to force you to answer questions. If you fight it, it could cause you a great deal of physical pain.”
Savage’s gaze narrowed and he flexed his wrists against the arm of the chair. “You’re the ones that kidnapped Croaker.”
“Yes.” Hermione picked up her quill. “Let’s hope that our conversation with you is as successful as the one we had with him.”
“You let him go,” Savage said shrewdly.
“All right, ask your questions.”
“How long have you been a member of the Lux Ordinis?”
Savage’s cheeks flushed dark red, and his eyes darkened. “I…shouldn’t speak of such things.”
“You have no choice but to speak of such things, Lord Savage,” Hermione said evenly. “How long?”
“My father introduced me to Nicolas Flamel in 1952,” Savage said. “I was inducted into the Lux Ordinis and educated regarding the purpose of the organization.”
“The Lux Ordinis is currently targeting Harry Potter and his spouses. What do you know about that?”
“The boy has to die to defeat Riddle. Granger and Malfoy are collateral damage. Nicolas hopes the loss of Potter will put them both over the edge and they’ll kill themselves in grief, but I doubt Malfoy will and he’ll work to keep the girl alive as well. They achieved a Trinity bond, so they obviously love one another. It’s unfortunate as it’ll make everything more difficult. I told Flamel for years that his trust in Dumbledore was misplaced. He should’ve been cast from the Order after his failure with Riddle.”
“Do you believe in Flamel’s mission?”
“We must neutralize Zir’s influence on our world,” Savage said gravely. “It is the root of all that is wrong with our people—the rise of dark lords, the spread of dark magic, the birth of squibs. Zir is responsible for all of it.”
“Have you spoken about the business of the Lux Ordinis with anyone outside of the organization?” Hermione questioned as she tapped her quill gently.
“No, though Nicolas plans to recruit several new members after the defeat of Riddle so that we can be in a good position to deal with the fall-out of the Trinity’s destruction.”
“What if Potter is resurrected?”
Savage shrugged and made a face. “We’ll have to work to neutralize his power and control his fame. He’ll never be useful to the organization as an asset, and we can’t trust him even if he returns because he’ll still be marked by Zir.”
“You don’t believe, then, that his resurrection would signal a restoration of the magical balance permanently?”
“No, that’s just bullshite that Nicolas feeds the more soft-hearted members of the Order. Some of them have to be coddled and led down the proper path to meet our goals. Others have been controlled through magic and potions in the past. He doesn’t like to do that—earned loyalty is more valuable than manufactured loyalty.”
“What plans do you currently have in the works to control Harry Potter?”
“None,” Savage admitted roughly. “Between the murder of Cornelius Fudge and the eventual death of Albus Dumbledore the ministry is a bit of a mess. Amos Diggory has been difficult to manage, despite his recruitment to the Order, and Dumbledore wasted too much time trying to destroy Potter’s marriage legally. The death of Snape made it difficult to get any sort of potion-based modification into place. Frankly, Riddle has been more of a problem than we anticipated.”
“We never expected him to outright target purebloods,” Savage said roughly. “Even those who were rumored to be his own followers have disappeared and are presumed dead. I’m certain he’s behind Fudge’s death and Dumbledore’s, too.”
“Dumbledore killed himself.”
Savage snorted. “There is no single way that arrogant, narcissistic motherfucker killed himself. He might have been keeping Gellert in prison to bugger him any time he wanted, but Dumbledore would’ve never killed himself. He believed himself superior and fully expected that the Flamels would share the stone with him indefinitely.”
“Dumbledore was using the Philosopher’s Stone?”
“They supplied him with a weekly dosage, yes,” Savage grimaced. “Though never enough to cause any sort of notice regarding his physical age. I suspect that would’ve come after he officially retired from public life.”
“His murder doesn’t concern you at all.”
“No, I was relieved by his removal,” Savage admitted. “I have plans, and he made it a habit of interfering in ways that I found annoying.”
“What do you have planned for Croaker?” Hermione asked.
Savage flushed and shifted in the chair. “I want his job.”
“And?” Hermione pressed.
“If he can’t be made to retire; he’ll have an unfortunate accident,” Savage said roughly. “I need his position to undertake several missions for Nicolas.”
“Is Albert Runcorn going to help him have an accident?”
“For fuck’s sake,” Savage snapped and glared. “Yes, he’s in place to help me. How did you know he was an Unspeakable?”
“I know lots of things,” Hermione said. “What do you know about Tiberius Ogden?”
“He’s a crafty old bastard, my peer on the Wizengamot, and he’s been a member of Lux Ordinis for decades. He hated both of the Dumbledores and was amused by their deaths. He especially enjoyed the whole nundu preserve thing. He said it reminded him of his dear friend, Wilholm Crouch, who made a hobby of dumping people in the nundu preserve if they pissed him off.”
Harry snorted, and Draco nudged him.
Savage glanced around him. “How many people are in here?”
“That’s none of your business, Lord Savage.” Hermione relaxed in her chair. “Do you keep a journal regarding Lux Ordinis business?”
“No, Nicolas strictly forbids any sort of written record of our activities, and any correspondence from him is brief. It is to be burnt as soon as it is read. The general populace would not understand what must be done. It is imperative that we leave no evidence behind of our activities. We change and shape the laws to suit our needs as well to prevent being accused of a crime.”
“Lord Ogden’s family is uniquely connected.”
Savage snorted. “Tiberius likes to consider himself a chess player.”
“Do any of his children or grandchildren know about the Lux Ordinis or the goals of the organization?”
“He’s considering recruiting his grandson, but no one knows the goals of the organization until they’re brought to Nicolas for induction. It is his divine task, and only he can explain the purpose of the Lux Ordinis.”
“And there are no exceptions to this rule?”
“Outside of my current situation, I can’t think of one,” Savage said dryly and flexed his wrists against the chair. “How did you even hear about the Lux Ordinis?”
“Arthur Weasley told us when we interrogated him,” Hermione explained.
Savage paled. “He was murdered.”
“I prefer the term executed,” Harry said as he left the shadows. He walked around behind Savage as the older man’s breathing went labored. “His crimes against magic were so profane that we could hardly stand to be in the same room with him. Arthur Weasley’s death wasn’t pleasant, but it was relatively quick. I regret that in retrospect. It would’ve been deeply satisfying to torture him for a few days.” He motioned toward the parchment. “Any more questions for this piece of shite?”
Hermione shook her head. “I think we’ve learned all we can, really. It’s just clean up at this point.” She stood and rolled up her parchment. “We should work on containing and killing Runcorn next just in case he’s already plotting Croaker’s accident.”
Savage started to struggle against the ropes in earnest which caused the chair to respond in kind. The ropes whipped so tightly around Savage that the man began to scream. Draco drew his wand and casually hit the man with a Killing Curse then walked away with a put-upon sigh.
“To be honest, Mr. Runcorn, kidnapping you was boring,” Harry said and tossed his feet up on the corner of the table separating him from their prisoner. “I would think that as an Unspeakable, who’d recently had his own boss kidnapped, you’d have been a little more on guard.” He lit an herbal and sighed. “Seriously.”
Runcorn struggled in the chair as he stared at Harry. “Potter? What the hell are you doing?”
“Whatever I want,” Harry said cheerfully and smirked when Hermione laughed. “So listen—we considered a bit of drama for you just so you’d die in an entertaining fashion, but you’re just not worth the investment. So, no theatrics for you.” He pointed at the man with his cigarette and shook his head sadly. “Now, you’re in an interrogation chair designed and built by the ICW. I had my house elf steal it then we modified it to suit our purposes. It’s going to force you to answer all of my questions. If you resist the magic on the chair, you will suffer for it. Understood?”
Runcorn glared but nodded abruptly. “Yeah, kid, I understand.” He shifted against the ropes. “You’re a bigger threat than anyone realizes.”
Harry inclined his head in agreement. “To be fair, none of you were prepared for me. Tell me about your work with the Lux Ordinis.”
Runcorn frowned. “I…” He shifted in the chair. “I was recruited by Arthur Weasley years ago. I met Nicolas Flamel and was inducted into the order. My job was to monitor various people within the ministry to ensure that none of them interfered with the plans of the Lux Ordinis. I took out any threats that presented themselves.”
“So you’re an assassin.”
“I work on behalf of Lady Magic,” Runcorn said. “My purpose is pure.”
“How many people have you killed?”
“Many during the first blood war, it was easy to disguise their deaths as Death Eater attacks. In some cases, I used the Death Eaters to get rid of problems—setting up people to die on Dumbledore’s order. Over a hundred have died to due to my work, but I couldn’t give you an accurate number.”
“Do you regret any of those deaths?” Harry asked curiously.
Runcorn frowned and averted his gaze. “I never thought that Edgar Bones should die, but Dumbledore insisted he’d be in the way. I set the Prewett twins up to be killed by the Dark Lord’s forces when they left the Lux Ordinis in a temper. Molly said they couldn’t be trusted anymore and due to their twin magic that memory charms might not work properly.” He grimaced. “You should’ve seen that cold-hearted bitch wailing and carrying on at their funeral like she actually cared.”
Harry shared a look with Draco, who looked both surprised and disgusted. “Mr. Runcorn, I find you more offensive than most.”
“Because it’s not your job to deliver death,” Harry said evenly. “You’ve acted as executioner based on the judgment of the unworthy and unjust. It’s infuriating, to say the least. I believe you’ll find Zir’s company very unpleasant in the afterlife. There’s no telling how he will punish you for interfering in his will. Granted, all the members of the Lux Ordinis will suffer his wrath for eternity so you shouldn’t think you’ll be special or anything. Tell me about Muriel Prewett.”
“My aunt,” Runcorn said. “Batty old thing—true believer and devout in her worship of Hekate. She was looking forward to housing your wife.” He paused. “And killing her. She argued with Molly over which one of them would get to kill her. Molly thought it was her right since the chit had interfered with her plans concerning little Ginny.” He paused. “Do you have the lass?”
“Ginny’s dead,” Harry said flatly. “I let my house elf toss her in a volcano.”
Runcorn’s mouth dropped open. “Isn’t that a bit…much?”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “But it makes him happy, and Dobby suffered a lot at the hands of Lucius Malfoy, so I like to let him live his best life now.”
Runcorn exhaled sharply, frowned but then nodded. “Right.” He shook his head. “Croaker put a two-man team on the investigation into the resurgence of Hephaestus worship.”
Harry barely refrained from laughing. “Yes, well, if it makes you feel better most of his sacrifices have been Death Eaters.”
Runcorn nodded. “Are you going to kill me?”
“Yes, of course,” Harry answered. “You’re an arsehole, and absolutely no one belonging to the Lux Ordinis is getting out of this alive. You’re all a threat to me and mine, and I can’t tolerate that. If you’re wondering why you’re so calm about this whole situation—we dosed you thoroughly with a calming potion before we woke you up.”
“Figured,” Runcorn muttered and shrugged against the ropes. “Thanks, I guess. I’d rather not die at all, but this isn’t so bad. Better than being tortured by a Death Eater.” He frowned. “You’re going to kill all of them, too, right?”
“Well, most of them have already died at the hands of each other or my house elves,” Harry admitted. “We have a few stragglers but don’t worry we’ll get to them. I’ve heard the ICW is here trying to find me so I can kill Voldemort for them.”
“Well, you’re the only one who can do it,” Runcorn pointed out reasonably. “There is the prophecy to consider.”
Harry just smirked. “Tell me about your plan to kill Croaker.”
Runcorn shifted in the ropes. “Haven’t gotten one, yet. Getting kidnapped made him paranoid. He’s changed up all of his routines and even moved house. I’d already spent weeks creating a weakness in the wards on his cottage. I told Tobias I’d need at least another year to get things sorted so I could kill Croaker without getting caught. Nicolas says I mustn’t ever get caught.”
“He’s not very good at following orders,” Hermione said dryly from her place at the kitchen table. She looked up from her book as Harry glanced her way. “Also, do any of these dumb bastards have any idea how easy it would be to manufacture a heart attack with magic? An air bubble, plus displacement charm, plus artery equals untraceable death.” She huffed and went back to her reading.
Runcorn was staring at her in wonder.
“Stop looking at my wife like that,” Harry ordered sternly. “You might get your moron cooties on her.”
Runcorn huffed. “What are cooties?”
“I don’t have the time to educate you,” Harry said. “Do you have any operations in place that will continue without you? Have you laid traps or poisoned someone for the Lux Ordinis?”
“No, I don’t like to leave evidence unattended, so traps aren’t ideal,” Runcorn said but glanced toward Hermione. “My mum always told me I should’ve married a smart witch.”
“Public records indicate that you’re married, but your wife doesn’t live in your flat. Where is she?” Draco questioned. “Did you kill her?”
“She left me years ago—lives with her mum in Aberdeen,” Albert said roughly. “Been asking for a divorce for about a decade but I don’t believe in it.”
Hermione huffed and stood. “Oh, that’s the limit.”
Harry nodded, drew his wand, and hit Runcorn with a Killing Curse. “Right then. Dobby?”
Dobby appeared instantly. “Master Harry.” He crossed his arms. “I not be believing Winky tell on me already! It was an accident!”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “You had an accident?”
Dobby flushed. “Oh. Hmmm…would Master Harry be willing to overlook what Dobby said?”
Dobby sighed. “You see…I be hunting for Richard Avery, and I finds him.”
“Where did you find him?” Harry asked in amusement.
“Muriel Prewett’s house,” Dobby admitted. “I not understand why Death Eater be at her house so I spy and they be…doing naked stuff which upset me very much!”
“She has to be fifty years older than him,” Draco muttered. “I mean I think she was born in the late 1890s.”
“I…” Harry frowned. “Okay, I can see how that would have upset you. What happened?”
“Avery gets his money for the naked stuff and make an appointment to see her next week.”
Harry snorted. “Wait!” He held out a hand. “Richard Avery, Jr is a whore?”
“There’s nothing wrong with sex work, Harry,” Hermione admonished.
“I didn’t say there was,” Harry protested. “But come on—there’s a Death Eater running around the country shagging old ladies for money!”
Harry focused on Dobby who was staring pointedly at the ceiling. “So your accident?”
“Stupid old witch see me kidnap Avery,” Dobby groused and huffed. “So I be having to take her, too!”
“Seems reasonable,” Harry admitted. “But she can’t count on your scoreboard since you didn’t have permission for that kill.”
Dobby scowled. “Yes, Master Harry.”
Harry motioned toward Runcorn’s body. “This is Albert Runcorn. He’s a bastard—we need his body discovered so that his death will be announced. He’s been holding his wife hostage in a marriage she didn’t want for a decade, so I figure she’s due some relief.”
Dobby made a face. “I drop him off on Diagon Alley. Sit him on a bench at the park to be found.”
“Try to make sure no little kids find him,” Hermione interjected.
Dobby nodded and popped away with the body.
* * * *
The summons to the bank wasn’t unexpected. Harry had actually been surprised it had taken so long for Diggory and the ICW to ask the goblins to arrange a meeting. It was already a known avenue for getting his attention after all. He didn’t trust any of them much at all, but the goblins had played fair with them so far, and Harry knew that they’d do a lot to avoid upsetting Zir. Ragnok’s portkey dropped them into an empty meeting room, so they get settled at the table and Winky set up a tea service.
Ragnok entered first. Diggory, Gerald Greengrass, Dedalus Diggle, Hiro Ito, and a wizard Harry didn’t know followed along behind him. The last person to enter the room was Castius Arnou. The healer’s inclusion was a bit of a surprise, but perhaps the ICW had brought him along because of his loose association with them as a Trinity.
“Lord Potter, allow me to introduce you to several people,” Diggory began. “Gerald Greengrass has joined me at the ministry as my Undersecretary. Dedalus Diggle is here representing the ministry as a solicitor. This is the Supreme Mugwump Hiro Ito from Japan, Representative Adam Stephens from the United States, and of course, Representative Castius Arnou from France whom you already know.” He cleared his throat. “Everyone this is Harry Potter, the Earl of Blackmoor and his spouses—Hermione Potter, the Countess of Blackmoor and Draco Potter, the Consort of Blackmoor.”
Ito sat, and the rest followed suit. “Lord Potter, I want to thank you for agreeing to meet with us during this time. I’d like to commend you on your personal security—we spent two weeks searching for you and failed.”
Harry inclined his head. “I knew you were searching. I take it we’re having this meeting because of the prophecy.”
“Yes, Minister Diggory explained to us that Tom Riddle believes you’re prophesied to destroy him but that the actual prophecy is missing or was destroyed. Do you know the contents?”
“I do,” Harry said and glanced around the room. “It is essentially self-fulling as most prophecies are. If he’d never acted on the information he had—it would’ve not activated. We’re on the path to meet due to his superstitious nature more than anything else. I’ve spent the better part of the last year researching and neutralizing the methods which have allowed him to remain on this earth. I’m confident when we meet next—the only thing holding him here will be his own will and talent as a dueler. Unfortunately for us all, Dumbledore has done nothing to prepare me for the battle I’m facing. I’ve been learning and training with my spouses, of course, but I have no hope of gaining the experience I need to truly stand against Tom Riddle as an equal in that manner.”
Ito nodded. “He has a great deal of power and experience. I can see no circumstance where a man so young as you could stand against him and win. The fact that Riddle believed you his enemy as an infant has puzzled many of us since 1981. When Dumbledore joined the ICW, one of the first issues we discussed was your location and the events of that night. We wanted to know why your family had been targeted specifically and why he tried to kill an infant after he’d already killed the adults in the house. It was a heinous crime in itself.
“Dumbledore told us that his spy in the Death Eater’s organization knew little of Riddle reasons only that he considered you a threat to his goal to rule over Britain. It’s infuriating that Dumbledore kept information about the prophecy to himself and did nothing to prepare you for what you will eventually have to face. We both know, Lord Potter, that Riddle will not stop pursuing you as a target as long as he considers you a threat to his cause.”
“He’s an idiot,” Harry said bluntly. “His pursuit of immortality is a grave sin and befouls the gift given to him by Zir.”
“By Zir,” Ito murmured. “So Riddle was marked by Zir—marked like you and your spouses.”
Diggory made a choking sound, but Harry ignored him.
“You can see his blessing on us then,” Harry said.
“Yes, it’s very obvious to those of us who have studied such things. Zir moves around you all even now—his magic clings to your skin.” Ito took a deep breath. “It’s honestly disconcerting to be in your presence.” He held up a hand when Harry started to speak. “You owe me no apology for your gifts, Lord Potter. I don’t question the will of the Black Dragon. He has bestowed upon you and your spouses his blessing. To protest that in any single fashion would be blasphemy. No rational wizard would take a stand against such a force.”
“Dumbledore didn’t consider it much of a blessing,” Harry admitted. “He found our circumstances so horrifying that he actively worked to destroy our marriage.”
“Had he succeeded I would’ve taken great pleasure in putting him on trial for crimes against magic,” Ito said. “I’m tempted to do it posthumously, as is. He has much to answer for. I can only hope his afterlife is an utter misery.”
The older man folded his hands together on the table in front of him. Harry wondered if it was an effort to appear less of a threat. The fact was that outside of himself, Hiro Ito was one of the most powerful and dangerous wizards on the planet. It was amusing to watch him play at harmless. He wondered if Diggory bought into the act.
“He was a deeply flawed man,” Harry said finally. “And I found nothing but relief in his suicide. I don’t think Dumbledore would’ve ever allowed me to live my own life. I’m not sure what drove him or what finally made him end it. The press coverage was lurid, and it has become difficult to separate fact from fiction.”
“Dumbledore was murdered,” Diggory blurted out. “He was tortured first though—the Unspeakables have finished their investigation.”
“Ah, I see.” Harry picked up his tea and leaned back in his seat. “That makes more sense, actually. He seemed to have long-term plans for me, and that didn’t mesh with what was being reported in the papers. Still, I can’t say I’m sorry that he’s dead. He was a threat to me and my marriage. Even now I don’t know truly why—I mean what did it matter to him who I made a family with? It has nothing to do with the prophecy.”
“You’ll find, Lord Potter, that some men are very invested in control and power—the more they have, the more they want,” Ito said. “In my dealings with Albus Dumbledore, I came to realize that he was genuinely obsessed with controlling as much as he could in his circumstances. Perhaps it was due to his upbringing or Grindelwald influenced him more than we ever realized.”
Harry made a face. “I’ve read enough about that in the Daily Prophet, sir.”
Ito laughed. “Haven’t we all? I’ve already prepared legislation to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. How the people here in Britain allowed Dumbledore to hold Grindelwald hostage personally in a private prison is beyond me. There was no oversite on that situation at all on any level which in itself is a crime.” He paused. “Do you the know the content of the prophecy?”
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..” Harry sat back as they absorbed that.
“So you’re his equal,” Diggory said in a dull tone. “Yet, you claim you couldn’t stand against him in a duel?”
“He marked me as his equal,” Harry repeated. “Riddle declared me his equal, and there is no telling what that means in his mind. Equal in power? Equal in ability? Equal because we’re both marked by Zir? Equal because we’re both half-bloods? He’s not a rational man, Minister Diggory, and that was the case long before he was disembodied in 1981. And before you ask, I have no idea what the power he knows not might be. Dumbledore thought it was love.”
“Oh, now, really,” Ito protested.
“Well, that’s the lie he told me,” Harry said by way of agreement. “If Dumbledore did know what the prophecy meant by that he didn’t bother to share it with me. Part of his method of controlling people around them was to prevent them from gathering all the information they might need to actually function without him. I think at the heart of it—Albus Dumbledore feared nothing more in the world than he feared being useless.”
“You’re mature for your age—I find that a relief,” Ito said. “Though I do think you’re right, you’re no match for Tom Riddle when it comes to experience. Magically, I think you’re near equal which is fascinating since you’ve not gone through your magical maturation. The more interesting factor in all of this is that you’ve repeatedly survived every single encounter with Riddle. Is it luck or is it Zir?”
“Why can’t it be both?” Harry questioned and smiled when the older man laughed. “Dumbledore put a great deal of stock in the theory that my mother’s sacrifice protected me and I think it did right up until the point where Riddle used my blood to give himself a new body.”
“There is Fate to consider,” Hermione said, and the atmosphere in the room shifted slightly.
Ito leaned forward. “Do you believe in Fate, Lady Potter?”
“I would’ve said no—when I was younger. But as I’ve grown into my magic and accepted the gifts given to me, I’ve come to understand that there are larger forces at work that are beyond our scope of understanding. I don’t speak of things that can be explained by science, Muggles are quite good at figuring out how the world works. I’m sure given enough time and information there are those among them who could even figure out why some of us are magical, and some are not.”
Ito nodded his agreement.
“And yet, there are other planes of existence and the human soul, magical or not, is eternal. You’ve lived a very long time Master Ito—is there no part of you that longs for the embrace of our Lady Magic?”
“Every part of me seeks such reward,” Ito said. “But my work here is not finished. I trust that Hekate will bring me home when I’ve done all that she asks of me. Not many people can see the workings of a blood stone in another person’s magic. It’s a rare thing even with those of us gifted with mage sight.”
Hermione laughed and plucked a biscuit from the tray in front of her. “Oh, I can’t see it in your magic. But I certainly can see it in your writing. You’ve published over a hundred books in the last five hundred years, and I’ve read them all. You can change your pseudonym all you want, Master Ito, it does nothing to change your voice as an author.”
Ito appeared startled at first then he relaxed with a small smile. “Yes, well, you’ll find that most of our kind aren’t observant to that kind of thing, Lady Potter.”
“Most of our kind aren’t observant at all,” she corrected. “Here in Britain, they seem to glory in ignorance.”
“So it would seem. I’ll send you a list of my books—just in case you’ve missed a title or two.” Ito inclined his head toward the tea tray. “May I?”
“Yes, of course, Winky.” The elf appeared at Hermione’s side promptly. “Please provide another tea service for our guests.” She watched Winky place a new teapot and snacks at the other end of the table. “You’d probably not enjoy ours—we’re currently taking a nutritional supplement in it.”
“May I ask why?” Arnou interjected. “At last report, most of the issues we’d discussed during your visit had been resolved.”
“We’re preparing for a ritual,” Harry said when Hermione glanced his way as if she were nervous. Her acting skills were quite good so for a moment he let himself get distracted by the way she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. He cleared his throat and returned his attention to Ito. “It’ll be physically quite taxing so Draco designed a nutritional draught to help us build up a physical energy reserve.”
“And what ritual do you plan to do?” Ito questioned. “You’re all three very young…” He sighed. “Of course, you’ve already accomplished one of the most complicated marriage rituals in existence, so I perhaps am concerned for no reason.”
“I’m going to entreat the Black Dragon and seek magical judgment against Riddle.”
Ito’s mouth dropped open. “That…Zirnitra’s wrath should he find you unworthy of his attention would be unspeakable.”
“I can handle it,” Harry assured.
“You’ve handled a lot in the short time you’ve been alive,” Ito said roughly. “And perhaps, in the end, that’s what will allow you to win against Riddle. There are those in my organization that would recruit all three of you in the future so do us a favor, Potter, and don’t get yourself killed.”
“I have everything to live for, Master Ito. I won’t let Riddle kill me.”
By the time they’d returned to the trunk with an unconscious Dedalus Diggle in tow, Winky had added Scabior to her list.
“They’re tied,” Harry announced. “Looks like the only one left, besides Riddle, is Angus Pyrites.”
“Should we worried?” Draco asked in amusement as he flicked his wand and dropped Diggle into the interrogation chair.
“Eh.” Harry shrugged. “We’ll just have to get creative if they’ve developed a taste for it.”
They’d laid in wait outside of the bank for the older wizard to leave—stunning him and taking him as he’d turned onto Knockturn Alley had been the work of nothing. They’d been invisible, but Harry figured they could’ve done it without a great deal of subterfuge. No one had even looked toward Diggle when he’d slumped to the ground after being stunned. Either kidnapping was a very commonplace sort of thing on Knockturn Alley, or the whole country was getting quite jaded.
“I really resent how much effort we went into in the first timeline to handle all of those ridiculous Death Eaters,” Hermione said darkly as she pulled her hair up into a messy bun and sat down at the interrogation table. She drew her wand and activated the ropes on the chair. “Let’s dose him with the potion and get this over with. I want to know if he’s been talking to Greengrass about the Lux Ordinis.”
“I hope not,” Draco said roughly. “Daphne and Astoria would be devastated to lose their father.” He frowned and drew a potion out of his bracelet. “If he’s fallen in with this lot already, I’m going to make him suffer.” He dosed Diggle and walked away with a frown.
Harry leaned on the wall next to Hermione’s chair and said nothing as his wife woke their prisoner up with a jab of her wand. A stinging hex lashed across the old wizard’s face.
Diggle started and hissed as the ropes began to twist around him. “What…” He frowned as he looked around. “What are you children doing?”
“Cleaning up Nicolas Flamel’s mess,” Hermione said evenly. “Have you spoken with Gerald Greengrass about being recruited into the Lux Ordinis?”
Diggle jerked against the ropes briefly then slumped with a low growl. “No, I’m not in recruitment.”
“What do you do for the Lux Ordinis?” Hermione asked.
“I study the law and write most of the legislation that Lord Ogden proposes before the Wizengamot. We use the law to meet Flamel’s goals. I also work as a solicitor for various members as needed.” He frowned. “Molly has me preparing a lawsuit against Potter—the DMLE refuses to investigate her daughter’s disappearance. They consider her a runaway, so Molly wants to file a civil lawsuit against Potter because she thinks he stole the girl and is keeping her hostage.” He focused on Harry. “Are you?”
“No, she’s dead,” Harry and smiled when Diggle’s mouth dropped open. “One witch is more than enough for me, I assure you. Additionally, I wouldn’t have fucked Ginny Weasley with someone else’s prick.”
“I told Dumbledore you were a dark little bastard,” Diggle said. “You killed him, right?”
“Yep,” Harry said and smiled. “It was great.”
Diggle glared at him and the ropes on the chair twisted tighter.
“The chair is going to suffocate you if you don’t stop struggling,” Hermione said. “Not that we care, really, because you’re going to die shortly anyway. How you die is entirely up to you.”
“You don’t have to kill me,” Diggle protested. “I’ve never hurt anyone.”
“Is that so?” Harry questioned. “You didn’t author laws that made it easier for Flamel and other members of the Lux Ordinis to isolate and control Zir’s children? You didn’t participate in the cursing of my aunt on Privet Drive so she would hate and abuse me?”
Diggle flushed. “I was following Dumbledore’s orders with that, lad. It wasn’t my idea.”
“You didn’t have to do it,” Hermione said evenly. “You could’ve chosen to be a good person, but you instead chose to participate in the torture of children for decades, Mr. Diggle. We may be dark, but at least we aren’t evil. When you stand before Zir, you’ll have no just answer for the wrongs you have done in this life. I take comfort in that. No one renders justice like the Black Dragon. I could almost pity you for what you will suffer. But I won’t, Mr. Diggle, because I’ve seen the memory of my husband at five-years-old singing happy birthday to himself with a goddamned picture of a birthday cake in a boot cupboard.
“How many others did you reduce to such a life? You don’t know, and you don’t care. You fell to Flamel’s corruption easily not because of your devotion to Lady Magic because you coveted more magical power for yourself. You actually believe that nonsense about power redistribution. It’s obscene and foolish.”
“You have too much power! It’s not fair to the rest of us,” Diggle snapped, and the ropes jerked him hard back against the chair. “You must die for the balance, can’t you see that?”
“I want to bash his face in,” Draco said and ran his hands over his head. “If we become permanently homicidal because of these arseholes, we’ll end up having to work as hit wizards just to appear half-normal.”
Harry grinned at him. “Well, there are literally dozens of bastards in Britain we can take out before we take our efforts to the international stage. But I’m not at all opposed to working as a hit wizard. It sounds like fun.”
Hermione focused her attention on Diggle who was staring at the three of them in horror. “What do you currently have planned with Minister Diggory regarding controlling Harry in the future?”
“Diggory is petrified of Potter right now,” Diggle said roughly. “The ICW’s interest in the three of you will make him think twice about doing anything to Potter. But the Flamels will get him set to rights one way or another. Ogden wants to prepare a law package that will prevent anyone under the age of twenty-five from sitting on the Wizengamot. He personally plans to trick Potter into signing over regency of his title permanently.”
Harry laughed. “How in the hell did he expect to make that happen?”
Diggle shrugged. “Imperius, potion—it doesn’t matter since you’re not going to survive the war. Riddle will kill you, boy, surely you realize that?”
“Riddle made horcruxes. Did you know that?”
“Yes, Dumbledore was searching for them,” Diggle said. “Nicolas is on the fence about finding them since we could use Riddle to thin out some of the more undesirable families.” His gaze flicked toward Draco. “We’d targeted Lucius Malfoy in the 70s, but then he fathered an heir—a child marked by Zir, and we had to step back. Potter was more important in the end because of the prophecy and Malfoy had too much money. He bought his freedom and held a great deal of influence despite his work as Death Eater.”
“I’ve found them all,” Harry said. “I’m going to kill Riddle—it’ll frankly be easy as fuck because he doesn’t consider me a threat and won’t even when he’s on the ground dying. He only has one Death Eater left, and my house elves are probably fighting over his barely warm body as we speak. I’ll let Riddle find me eventually, and all of this will be over, Mr. Diggle. You’ll be dead, of course, so it won’t matter to you one way or another.”
“He’s the most powerful wizard alive,” Diggle said. “The prophecy doesn’t guarantee you victory. The moment I heard it—I understood why Dumbledore never told anyone the full version. There is no hope in it. Your defeat is certain.”
He turned to Draco. “Now I want to beat his whole face in.”
“He does inspire violence,” Hermione agreed. “One final question, Mr. Diggle, do you think the Lux Ordinis will die with Nicolas Flamel?”
Diggle inclined his head and frowned. “I don’t…I don’t know. We serve Lady Magic and surely she would guide others into his place should he wish to retire.”
“They’re all so stupid,” Hermione said in a huff and stood. “I suggest cardiac arrest in his bed.” She turned to Harry then. “It’ll look like a natural death, and at his age, no one will question it. Diggory will certainly miss him, so it’s best if no one asks any questions.”
“Agreed,” Harry and stunned Diggle before the older man could offer any sort of protest.
* * * *
“It probably amuses me more than it should that Diggory is afraid of me,” Harry admitted.
“He should fear you,” Draco said. “Death spares no one in the end. Perhaps he’s done nothing specifically so far to earn Zir’s wrath but how will he explain himself to his own son? Do you think Cedric would be proud of the vicious bastard his father has become?”
“He’s too far gone to even consider that, you know,” Harry said. “Even if he weren’t a member of the Lux Ordinis we would’ve had to end him sooner rather than later because his grief has made him irrational and unpredictable. If I learned anything from the previous timeline is that giving an enemy quarter just makes them a bigger threat to me and mine.” He looked across the bedroom space of the trunk and his gaze settled on Hermione who was asleep on the bed. “I’ve already paid a terrible price for that sort of arrogance.”
“Was it arrogance?” Draco asked. “Or did you merely hope in the end that they would see reason?”
Harry frowned and cleared his throat. “Maybe I did. It was a foolish and ridiculous hope if that was the case. I always…from the very beginning wanted more for the magical world and its people than what I could see. I wanted everyone to be good and honorable. I clung to that idea no matter how disappointing everyone around me behaved. Dumbledore set me up for that. He made life in my aunt’s house a misery so when Hagrid rescued me I would see the magical world as this special and amazing place. He made me love Hogwarts—to the point where I nearly got myself killed twice before my third year protecting the school.”
“Because it became your home,” Draco surmised.
“Yes.” Harry grimaced. “I wish I’d tortured him longer.”
Draco snorted. “Take heart—Zir is surely reveling in Dumbledore’s misery even as we speak.”
“It’s not quite the same, but it will have to do.” Harry stretched his legs. “Were you serious about working for the ICW? You don’t want to return to healing?”
Draco shook his head. “I don’t think so—not professionally at any rate. My heart’s not in it anymore. I’ll probably focus on a mastery in potions this time around. In the other timeline, there was a desire to atone for my father’s crimes during the war.”
“I suppose that his crimes pale in comparison to what we’ve seen regarding the Lux Ordinis. Riddle and his Death Eaters are practically amateur hour.” Draco looked toward Hermione as she shifted on the bed and curled more deeply into the blankets. “Perhaps in this life, it’s our duty to truly balance the scales—the so-called light has too much power, Harry, and it’s slowly corrupting them. Is it just in Britain or has the whole world fallen to irrational superiority? The Flamels were a special brand of crazy, true, but they had no issues recruiting dozens to their cause over hundreds of years.”
Harry found the idea of the worldwide corruption of magic appalling. “We’ll contact Ito after we leave Hogwarts and enter the academy in Rome for our formal education then. They’ll have to agree to never know where we live, but I think the ICW will bend their rules on that front considering my fame and how it will impact recruitment for the War Mages Division.”
“Agreed,” Draco frowned. “I wonder what Hermione wants to do as far as education goes? She hasn’t really brought it up.”
Hermione shifted on the bed and sat up with a huff. She pushed her hair out of her face and glared at them. “I’m going to study and make babies. First, magical law so I can start fixing Flamel’s stranglehold on Britain’s legal system then probably magical theory. I have no plans to get a job, however, because I have two obscenely wealthy husbands. I shouldn’t have to work for a living.”
Harry grinned at her she shot them a snotty look. “Sorry we woke you.”
“You should be.” She huffed and slumped down on the mattress. “Come to bed. I’m cold.”
They both stood, shed robes and returned to her—sliding under a ridiculously fluffy duvet and curling up around her without a word.
* * * *
“Mundungus Fletcher.” Harry frowned even though the disgusting old wizard couldn’t see it through the masking magic. “You’re here to answer questions about Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix. Since killing you isn’t currently on my agenda, we won’t force you to break any vows or magical oaths.”
Fletcher relaxed slightly in the interrogation chair. “Can’t share much then.” He wet his lips. “There was no call to take me out of my house though! I’ll answer anyone’s questions for the right price.”
“I just bet you will,” Harry said evenly. “But I’m not giving you a single knut to talk to me you treacherous old fucker. The chair you’re sitting in will force the truth out of you—just as it already has. I bet you’ve rarely admitted in your life that loyalty is for sale.”
Fletcher glared at him. “I’m a light wizard.”
“Light handed, you mean,” Harry corrected. “What sort of work did you do for Albus Dumbledore?”
“Paid attention, guarded that Potter brat sometimes before he did a runner,” Fletcher said with a shrug. “Easy work. Sometimes I heard interesting things that Dumbledore would want to know. I passed it along—got a bit of coin for my trouble.”
“What do you know about the Lux Ordinis?”
Fletcher frowned and shrugged. “Some sort of secret society, I’m not the right sort to be invited into such goings on.”
“I’m a half-blood,” Fletcher said. “Dumbledore did right by me, but I know my place.”
“Do you know what the Lux Ordinis’ mission is?”
“No.” The old wizard shrugged. “Didn’t know they had a mission. Figured they were some social club—meet, eat, and bitch about Muggles. Dumbledore said that Muggles would be the death of us all, you know. He said we had to safeguard magic and protect the balance between the light and the dark.”
Harry’s stomach knotted a little, and he wondered if he’d have to kill Fletcher after all. “What do you think he meant by that?”
“Suppose he worked hard to make sure kids that sorted into Slytherin weren’t ever powerful enough to do harm. Once I heard him talking to Snape about creating a potion to suppress magical abilities permanently. Don’t know if they made it before they died. Might be a good thing though—some people have too much power. That Potter kid has more than he deserves.”
“Power, money, whatever,” Mundungus said. “Why should he have all of that and a Trinity bond, too? What did that kid do to deserve that?”
“Why haven’t you ever married?” Harry questioned.
“Dark wizard killed my girl,” he admitted roughly and turned his head toward the wall. “Never wanted anyone but her.”
Harry stunned him and sat back in his chair as he pushed his hood off. “Thoughts?”
“He’s pitiful,” Hermione said. “And sad and no threat to anyone in particular unless they’re stupid with their purse. Dumbledore obviously knew better than to trust him with anything significant, and no one is going to take him seriously no matter what he says. We could memory charm him, I suppose, but considering how much he drinks it might cause him brain damage.” She paused. “More brain damage.”
Draco sighed, made a portkey out of the older wizard’s wand, stuck it in his pocket and Fletcher disappeared with a swirl of magic. “Do you wonder if Dumbledore created him, too? Did he manipulate lives and situations to garner followers and sycophants that would cater to his whims?”
“His defeat of Grindelwald gave him fame and untold amounts of respect. They let that situation fester until the populace was worried and enough people had died to suit their needs then the Flamels told Dumbledore to deal with it. So he locked Gellert Grindelwald up in solitary confinement and kept him prisoner in a place very people knew the location of and even fewer could actually visit. No one cared enough to even look at those circumstances until Dumbledore was dead.” Hermione took a deep breath as shifted out of the artificial shadows they’d created in the room and headed toward the kitchen area.
The rest of the trunk was revealed with a flick of her wand. Harry watched her rummage through a cupboard and bring out a package of biscuits. She sat down at the table, so he and Draco joined her. By the time she’d put half the biscuits on the plate, Draco had prepped a pot of tea.
“Who’s next?” she asked.
“We have four members left of the Lux Ordinis—William Prewett, Montgomery Fawley, Ross Weasley, and Amos Diggory. Considering his high profile, Diggory has to come last. We don’t want to give the other three cause to run.” Harry glanced toward the scoreboard. “The elves still have Angus Pyrites to deal with as far as the Death Eaters go then that will just leave Riddle himself to deal with. We should investigate Gerald Greengrass, but I don’t know if we need to interrogate him. If he knows little to nothing, then there is no need to make him overly curious.”
“It might not be easy to take the sitting Minister for Magic with the ICW lingering around. Plus, we don’t know what kind of security Bones as put into place following the death of Vance,” Draco murmured and frowned. “We should take Weasley and Prewett relatively close together. They’re family of a sort and might keep tabs on one another. Fawley is considered more grey than light has no public associations with either of those two. They’re probably all three waiting instructions from the Flamels.”
Harry hummed under his breath. “Then we should definitely see that they get some instructions.”
Draco grinned. “Surely they wouldn’t…” He sighed. “You know we could probably have just sent them portkeys this whole time. I mean Dumbledore tried it on us but is anyone really that dumb?”
“Sometimes, my inability to determine how gullible a magical person is going to be is downright disappointing,” Harry admitted. “Let’s try it on the Fawley.”
Twenty-two minutes after they had Winky place a letter on Montgomery Fawley’s desk, he dropped unceremoniously right into their interrogation chair. Harry snorted as the ropes snapped into place. He just crossed his arms as Draco attempted to summon a wand and nothing happened.
“What kind of idiot walks around without their wand during a war?” Harry asked and frowned at Fawley.
The older wizard huffed. “I was at home. What do you want Potter? How dare you kidnap me!”
“I want a multitude of things you’re incapable of providing,” Harry admitted as he sat down. “Do you know what you’re sitting in?”
“The ICW uses chairs like this in their investigations and trials,” Fawley said roughly. “This one feels…different. I sat in one once to make sure it was properly spelled for a client.”
“Its charm work is lethal,” Harry explained. “It’ll eventually kill you if you fight answering our questions. I’m really not in the mood for any nonsense, so I only have a few questions for you.”
“Go ahead then,” Fawley said and exhaled sharply. “Ask your damn questions. I’ll be contacting the DMLE and filing charges against your little arse for this, Potter. I don’t care if you’re underage.”
“How long have you been a member of the Lux Ordinis?”
Fawley’s eyes widened. “I…thirty-three years.”
“And what do you do for the Flamels? Recruitment?”
“I’m their current solicitor,” Fawley said. “I can’t discuss any confidential matters with you. I have oaths to consider. The chair can’t make me violate an oath.”
“Oh, it could,” Harry assured. “But I’m not interested in your legal work in particular. Have you taken any actions against me or mine specifically?”
Fawley flushed. “I wrote the divorce decree that you filled out with Dumbledore’s information. My copy of the document automatically updated. It was pretty funny.”
“Glad to amuse you. Anything else?”
“Molly Weasley had me investigating the Dagworth-Granger estate and the rules of inheritance. She wanted me to write a marriage contract for her youngest son and…” His gaze flicked toward Hermione. “But I didn’t finish it before the boy was killed by Death Eaters.”
“So even after I married Hermione—Molly was plotting to force my wife to marry Ronald,” Harry said. “Very annoying.”
“She planned to kill her,” Fawley blurted out. “Once they found out he only had to be married to her for a year and no children were required for the estate—they decided to kill her. All he had to do was take the Dagworth-Granger name in full to be declared the heir of the entire fortune. But once you married her, all of that changed. Your noble title negated all of the Hector Dagworth-Granger’s stipulation regarding an heiress. I told her that even if you divorced your wife that you’d get to keep the estate because of the Noble Protocols.”
“Have you discussed the goals of the Lux Ordinis with anyone outside the organization? Your wife?”
“No, my new wife is a Muggle-born. Nicolas agreed to overlook it but he told me she wouldn’t be welcome to join the organization and I couldn’t discuss any of it with her ever. I agreed. Eliza’s a gentle soul—she couldn’t handle the duty of serving Lady Magic in the Lux Ordinis.”
“Is your new wife set to inherit your estate?” Harry questioned.
“Yes, of course, I…” Fawley paled. “You’re going to kill me.”
“There is no defense you could present that would save your life,” Harry said. “You’re a threat to my family and me, Mr. Fawley. Moreover, I’ve been tasked by Zir himself to end the Lux Ordinis. You’ve betrayed Hekate, and you must pay for your crimes both here and in where you will go next.”
“I would never betray Lady Magic! I’ve worked all of my life on her behalf. You’re the betrayer, you’re the one is ignoring his duty to our world! It’s your task to die for the balance.”
“Bah!” Harry stood and walked away. “I’m fucking tired of these crazy bastards!”
Hermione drew her wand, pointed it at Fawley, and said, “Avada Kedavra.” The curse jolted out of wand with a flash of green.
Harry walked into the kitchen as Draco called for Dobby to deal with the body.
He turned to find Hermione standing just inside the kitchen area. “The closer we get to be being done with this lot the more intolerable they become. I don’t know why.”
“Well being told over and over again that you should die for people you can’t stand is enough to drive anyone a bit around the twist,” Draco said dryly. “We could just kill the rest of them—we don’t have to question them.”
“No, it’s better to know if they’ve spoken to anyone about their goals. We can’t afford to leave any dangling issues where the Flamel situation is concerned.”