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Men of War

Chapter Text

The sky above the Black Forest was dark and threatening. A freezing wind made the trees shiver, and the animals hide under the cover of the forest. No man was outside his home. A heavy, crushing atmosphere was haunting the hole area. Something sinister, something that shouldn't be here. Clouds twirled, thunder rolled. No muggle could have understood

why everything suddenly seemed to be sentient, and dangerous. They just ran away, whispered the old tales of the Black Forest, one of the oldest of Europe. Stories of monsters, devils. Stories of witches.


They didn't know how right they were.


Abnona lived in this forest. Abnona was the forest. It had been for centuries, maybe for millennium. It had been here when the fist bush started to grow, when the first bird landed in that bush. It was a fugitive revelation, like the quarry which immediately caught sight or discovered, fled. It was the strange feeling of eyes on your back, the ridiculous notion that the trees wanted to mislead you. A dark presence of the sylvan, ageless and crushing. Like the forest was, but certainly didn't want you to be.


It was a source.


Somewhere among the trees, a wolf howled.


The place was saturated with magic. Raw, untamed, savage – of the most dangerous kind. However, the one that was producing this magic – because someone had to be producing it- was nowhere to be seen. A chill was running down every creature's spine. The pressure was heavier each second that passed, air trying to crush the earth .


In front of the piercing dawn, the mist had risen. A defensive reflex of the creatures of the night against the sun and covered the black valleys of pines with a thick and cold layer .


The light of the sunrise had been contaminated by something dirty, by colors too unnatural which projected more shadow and threats than any millennial tree. Every mile, every crevice, every stone was alive enough to kill, yet waited. All the little traps of the forest, all the roots judiciously placed waited. Each cloud charged with electrical anger, every drop of water that made the steps trip, waited.


Abnona waited with glee .


The tension smashed its breaking point in a loud crack that could have passed for the thunder for inexperienced ears. A blinding light exploded and something fell from the maelstrom slowly appearing in the sky.


The thing landed on the floor with an horrible crashing sound and the next second, it was like nothing at all had happened.




Breathing. Why was it so hard the Breath? His lungs burned, no, all his body burned. Everything was dark and blurry and it hurt.


He coughed and rolled on the floor to vomit. A wave of panic crashed on him and his breathing accelerated. He rolled into a ball. In Pain. Out. In. The air is fresh. Out. In. No broken ribs. In. Out. In.


He took a minute to calm himself. He was pretty sure that whatever the situation he was in, it couldn't be worse that previously. Not that it helped to calm him down. The bile's taste was atrocious, but at least it masked the blood's.


He slowly sat up and look around him.


He wore only his cloak of invisibility, wrapped around his legs. His hand was clenched around his wand. No, not his wand, not the soft piece of wood and phoenix feather.


The Elder Wand.


And on his finger ...


He watched with fascination the stone. She was shining with a black light, begging him to use it. But he knew better, now. He had learned.


Images, shouts passed before his eyes at that simple thought. He narrowed his eyelids and pinched his nose with his fingertips. He could not be distracted now.


He had broken many branches while falling, and a slight crater was dug in the ground around him. He was really surprised not to have something broken - if not died. But it seemed that his luck always chose the most incongruous moments to make itself known. He was surrounded by tall trees with black foliage. The ground was covered with ferns, dead branches, and green grass and the mist sticking to his skin wetly. Some ray of sunlight pierced through the trees, depositing puddles of gold on the ground and vegetation, faded by the fog. There was something eerie in the place.


Of course, it was why they had chosen it to be here specifically. One of the last places that had resisted the burnedland's politic by its sheer magical potential.


Harry draped himself in the cloak, if only to warm himself. He had got used to the hunger, the pain, but never, quite to the cold. Strange how one's body could react to a thing.


Careful not to trip or walk on something sharp, he started walking through the trees. Harry is quite happy to be alone, he wouldn't want to obliviate some poor muggle in hysterics, or worst, to have landed on someone. He shuddered at the thought and cast it aside, alert. He needed to concentrate on the immediate situation. To be alone and helpless in an unknown forest bring too many bad memories for comfort.


Well, at least the last time he wasn't alone and he knew when he was. Because the black forest was in Germany and he was pretty sure that it wasn't quite safe at some period of the history. Especially since he didn't know a single word of German. French, yes, he had learned during the second war, but German? Too far stretched for him. He wished Hermione was here with him. Thinking about his old friend made him purse his lips in a tight line.


He sighed. First things first, he needed to focus. He couldn't concentrate with all these thoughts in his head. Keeping his mind cold and functional was a necessity.


Somehow, he should thank Voldemort for that lesson.


Careful not to use magic in case there is any wars around here, he sat on a root and closed his eyes to concentrate. Merlin, he could still feel the ache of his fall and the atrocious taste in his mouth.


Harry crossed his fingers together, he started to steady his breath. Then, he focused his attention on everything around him. The ruffle of the leaves, the sound of the fox's paws, the breeze in his hair. The buzz of the magic, the tug of the wand between his hand, praying to be used, because it would be so easy. Bugs are eating a carrion somewhere. The stone around his finger at its familiar, too familiar energy whispering sweet lies in his head. The warmth of the cloth, secured and safe, around his shoulders like the arms of a mother.


He stood. He had to find clothes, food and a shelter. He hoped the place wasn't a no man's land, otherwise, he would be screwed magnificently. Not that it would quite change from the usual.


Well, he was here to make it change, wasn't he?


Harry had to hurry, he may not have much time. The pun made him smile. Aware of everything around, him, he walked for hours. The mist fell, leading to a clear but cold autumn's day. Harry needed to find a wizard's home to floo to a big city, and by rebound, end in England, or even better, at Hogwarts. Harry wondered if Dumbledore was already a teacher. He hoped Riddle wasn't already a student. With a bit of luck, Riddle wasn't even born .


Considering that he is the one wishing it, he had all the chances to meet Riddle, even in the depth of a German's forest. Figures.


His steps are light and almost soundless, courtesy of years on the run.


He wondered how different it would be. Technically, he was in another dimension, as this time had happened for him, but not for the rest of the world. He hadn't quite had the time to study much of the era, especially what was and wasn't discovered in magic, which ought to be a problem at some point. He could change what had to, but maybe presenting himself as a magical genius wasn't such a good idea.


He really didn't need the spotlights (he wasn't even sure that he could actually explain half of it).


After a while, his stomach started to ache. He hadn't eaten in awhile- far too long actually, even if he was used to it.


He finally distinguished a clearing through the now sparse trees. And - thank Merlin- a house in said clearing. Of course, he could transfigure clothes, but he didn’t know what people were wearing at whatever time he had landed into, and nothing could compare to the feeling of soft, clean fabric.


Harry ran more than he walked towards the civilization finally regained. The house was covered with large stones, and smoke rose lazily above its roof. It was picturesque but did not help Harry to locate himself in time. This type of building still existed in his day. He truly hoped that the ritual worked, or else he would not have hoped to remain at large for long.


He went around the house to check that there was no one inside. It was his lucky day.



He used a simple wandless spell to unlock the window at the back of the house and entered. The room was quite homey, with raw wood furniture. It made him think about the Weasley's, even if it was obviously muggle and empty. Even at the war's peek, the Burrow had never been empty. Even when there was no more Weasley’s to live in it.



With an ease coming from practice, Harry started to methodically inspect the house. He first took some clothes – just one outfit, he didn't want to take more than what he needed. He found enough clothes in the bedroom, and considering the fashion , he could say that the ritual had worked.



Relief crashed over him as Harry dressed himself. It must have been the late 20' or the early 30'. Right on time, but he didn't expect any less from Hermione. He looked at himself in the mirror. He guessed that it would do. And having muggle clothing may help him to blend in with the masses.


At least, he was sure he could use magic here. He had taken some underwear, a pair of brown trousers, a simple white shirt, a vest and an old jacket. Once dressed, he cast a spell to braid his hair that had grown far too long during the last few years. He cast a spell to shave his beard (maybe he would grow it properly one day, but right now it only make him look homeless). Satisfied with the result, and not wanting to linger in that place more than necessary, he took a piece of sheet and cut into it.


Once a makeshift bag was made from the sheet, he took the remains of the fabric to tie his wand to his wrist, and bandaged his palms with the last bands, reflex defense. One never knew when one had to catch a blade with bare hands. He walked round the little house, and realized that there were only two rooms, plus a pantry.


He felt very badly about having to take food, but he needed a minimum to reach the first city. He took some boxes of concerves, a gourd, a small saucepan and some herbs he recognized.


Harry finally found an old newspaper, in German. He should have learned more languages in his youth. At least he managed to understand the date pretty much. 1928. He was in the midst of Grindelwald's rise to power, which made him think that he really had to go back to England as soon as possible.


He had not read much about the Snatchers, but his experience of the Death Eaters made him say that he preferred to avoid falling on these charming people. Especially if their master came to learn who he was ... England. England was a good choice.


He nibbled a few cakes-despite hunger he could not force himself to eat more.


He heard a metallic noise behind him.


Well.


Raising his hands in the air, he slowly turned around to meet an old man. He couldn’t quite describe the man in question as all of his attention was focused on the very large gun he was holding.


“Was machst du hier?” asked the old man with a clear threat in his voice.


Harry wasn’t sure if it was good to explain that he was English… He just nodded, hoping that it would work either way.


“Verstehst du, was ich sage?”


Harry had absolutely no idea of what that man was saying, but he was very close to use his wand. at the very least to make that gun move away from his face.


He hated guns.


But he hated unnecessary violence even more, so he tried to look as unthreatening as possible, congratulating himself for shaving his beard earlier. Without it he looked younger - well, actually, he looked his dear age of 20.


The old man didn’t seem to be the one to be discouraged by the prospect of killing young men. He lived alone, in the woods… If he talked, no one would believe him…


Hadn’t Harry broke the Status of Secrecy at the glorious age of 12, after all?


In a swift movement, he surrounded himself by his cape, becoming invisible to the poor man that had now his eye rounds as plates and didn’t know where to point his gun. Harry pondered the idea to break the weapon, but he decided to get out as soon as possible instead. He had taken a lot -too much- from this man to destroy something that might keep him alive on a daily basis. Jumping through the window that he had judiciously let open, he ran into the forest.


At the end of several hours, he was still not really out of the forest. He knew the sylvanwas helping him, but magic could not help it. As the day fell, and the cold slowly enveloped him, he huddled up against the trunk of a tree, and, having placed protections all around him, allowed himself a half-sleep. The bruising of a stag resounded through the trunks.


He awoke with a start at dawn, soaked in sweat. He could not remember his nightmares thanks to his sudden progression in occlumency. Thanks also, to the fact anchored in his mind, that reality was always worse than what his imagination could produce.


He sniffed and frowned. It was high time that he washed himself if he did not want to attract predators for tens of kilometers. His steps led him without having to think about a stream that was flowing slowly. The rays of the sun scattered the surface of the running water in golden sparks, covering the liquid with shimmering colors. But what Harry preferred was the crystalline sound of moving water.


He quickly got rid of his new clothes, rolling his shoulders to chase away the sleep of his muscles. He bent his clothes neatly and put them in his bag, which he put on the top of his head. He would not leave his things behind him, he had learned. One can find himself running from Death Eaters naked once, never twice.


Harry slowly entered the water, giving himself time to get used to this coldness. Back at the bank, he put the bag on one of the rocks that protruded in the middle of the stream. He walked slowly to the deepest point, and had only water to his hips.


Putting his wand on the rock, which he had managed to keep within a yard of him, he plunged underwater. He emerged to take a big breath of air and to put back as quickly as possible his wand on his wrist. It was not good to leave the Elder Wand on a rock and unattended. Once the most powerful wand in the world was firmly attached to his wrist, he began to wash.


But no matter how much he washed himself, he still felt dirty because…


… because the very air was reeking Dark Magic.


Someone was watching.


“Hello young man.” Said a deep voice in his back.


Somewhere between the branches, the root, the mist and the ground, Abnona laughed.