Chapter 1: Icy Reality
Professor Severus Tobias Snape woke with a quiet gasp. Clutching at his neck he felt the absence of Nagini's bite which had killed him. Taking a moment to reorient told him that he was in his own quarters at Hogwarts. The slowly fading burning pain at his neck and that had spread through his blood lingered, telling him that while he was alive now experiencing his death under Nagini's fangs had been anything but a dream.
"Tempus Dominus del flam," Snape croaked. In response to his wandless spell an extended time, date, and location floated in front of him in burning symbols. The spell had been one of his own design and a minor change in inflection on the words altered the result. Tempes Dominuus del flame for instance summoned the extended time and place information but it would swiftly turn into a firestorm tornado, leaving only himself and/or a designated few others untouched in the eye of the storm.
"3:04 am June 31st, 1996, Hogwarts, Scotland," Severus breathed. Things couldn't be stopped altogether but if he moved fast and took Gryffindor level of reckless action disaster might still be averted. If he was damned lucky this turn of events had snagged Potter as well not that it would matter as much at first.
Hastily the snarky Potions Master scrambled into clothes, transfiguring his coverlet into a bag and charming it with an undetectable expansion charm as well as a feather light one. Getting himself and Potter an audience without being simply shot on sight might be a problem but the previous following of Dumbledore's plan cost too many lives and very nearly set off a nuke. Thank you very much you blundering dunderheaded fool, Rowle. A few changes of clothes, a great number of books, and his emergency potions stock with every extra healing potion the school had in both his public and private stores quickly charmed not to break went into the bag.
Severus froze in mid motion as his Dark Mark burned fiercely even as an old Life Debt combined with slightly younger Unbreakable Vow burned in his chest. Instinctively he knew he had to get to Private Drive NOW. A step through the floo and an immediate blind apparation took him to the middle of the street where Harry lived with his relatives. His heart nearly stopped when he found Voldemort calmly contemplating the Dursley home.
"Master?" Severus rasped, swallowing hard. Ruby eyes moved to study him calmly with no hint of the madness that Snape could clearly remember.
"Am I indeed? Shouldn't you be calling that boy Master? Or the old fool?" Voldemort asked dangerously.
A thump followed quickly by a bellow of rage and shouts of pain coming from the house distracted the pair.
"Sonorus," Voldemort quickly cast before making his amplified demands. "POTTER, IF YOU WANT ANYONE ON THIS STREET TO SURVIVE THE NIGHT YOU HAD BEST PRESENT YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY! ~I KNOW WHAT YOU DID!~"
"Was that wise?" Severus asked cautiously even as the serpentine wizard canceled his spell. He hadn't understood the ending phrase beyond that it was a long hiss of parseltongue but the rest of it had been perfectly understandable.
"The time meddling brat had good reason for dragging us back here but that doesn't mean I have enough information to help fix it. I will not leave him in muggle hands though he may object to the... restrictions I will be enforcing as one of my Horcruxes," Voldemort said casually, nearly giving the other man a heart attack.
"You are acting..." Severus started only to be interrupted.
"Sane? That's because of a combination of the brat's actions to get us here and what has already happened," Voldemort agreed wryly. "I will be enforcing the mark more sternly with you to avoid issues but I will also ignore your previous traitorous actions on the grounds of my own mental illness at the time. Beware, I will not be so forgiving a second time."
"Yes, my lord," Severus muttered mutinously.
Further noise from the house of interest had them turning to see a beaten and bloody Harry being bodily tossed from the house with his things.
"You are no relation of ours!" Vernon bellowed before storming back into the house. The disavowal shattered the weakened blood wards and allowed the two waiting wizards to hastily approach the exhausted and bleeding form of a teenage Harry Potter.
"Foolish boy!" Severus barked even as he cast diagnostic spells with one hand while reaching for the healing potions in his bag with his other.
"At least I am no longer insane," Voldemort pointed out dryly.
"That's good," Harry wheezed as he fought to stay conscious. "Check ribs."
Severus did so, magically ripping open Harry's shirt to see to the bleeding wound beginning to soak his shirt. The bruises of all colors, scars of varying ages, and visible ribs due to dangerous lack of flesh made the pair white with rage. The apparent brand of the Deathly Hallows over his heart though made them pause.
"Yeah, dying, not fun," Harry laughed wheezily, breaking them from their stupor and setting them to stabilizing him as best as possible.
"We don't have long, Dumbledore had several monitoring charms on the wards," Severus warned as he started shoving potions down Harry's throat as fast as his patient could swallow them.
"Strip me, trackers. Go Malfoy?" Harry tried to suggested only for a coughing fit to hit him with a cry of pain as several damaged ribs were magically forced back into place so they would stop pressing against his lungs.
"Going to Malfoy Manor will only be enough to get you back on your feet. My way isn't working and the political way hasn't worked since I was a child," Voldemort pointed out, even as he used his wand to magically strip away all magic that wasn't Harry's or healing in nature.
"My thought was to kidnap Potter and drag him before the Muggle Queen," Severus said quietly. "Even if he didn't remember what would have happened simply explaining his position or even just getting him into Royal custody would have started getting everyone ready. Not enough Wizards know about CCTV so even wiping memories wouldn't have gotten them to ignore what happened. They might have killed me but they would have started looking at why I was giving them Potter and our war as a result."
"Not enough, but a start," Harry agreed still mostly breathless. "Other threat, bigger."
"Might I ask..." Severus trailed off before completing the question at their looks of worry.
"Blood purity and even muggle-magical differences are problems for after this new one is solved," Voldemort said firmly. Severus wasn't quite sure what they meant but they also clearly had more information than he did.
"Goblins?" Harry suggested.
"We might have time to get someone positioned to talk to them properly but I have no idea if they will be willing to wage open war against these foes," Voldemort pointed out carefully. He gently picked Harry up from the ground now that the immediate wounds had been tended. Severus automatically collected and shrunk Harry's things before stowing them in his expanded bag.
"Your owl?" Severus asked quietly. He had been wondering where the snowy white beauty was, knowing how loyal the bird was to her wizard.
"Dead," came the grief filled anguish of the injured young man. He was already starting to breath easier as the potions did their work. "I... woke with a full throated scream. She got loose and tried to protect me when my uncle came to silence me by force. I don't think he actually meant to kill her but... I can't be sure."
"We will have to petition for a royal audience or some sort of phone call with the queen. I have no idea how up to date the crown has been kept and we will need to mobilize for the invasion, both magically and under the muggle military," Voldemort reminded the brat in his arms as they walked off the Dursley lawn. Mourning for a fallen familiar was a good thing, keeping the hurt from turning to bitter poison, but they had work to do to try and save as many as possible in the coming firestorm.
"No killing my relatives," Harry warned sternly. His breathing was finally easing more than a touch as he forced himself to relax the tugging muscles in his back while also relaxing into the lulling effect of the potions he had been fed.
Voldemort growled wordlessly at the pre-emptive command but didn't argue that he had been planning to do just that as soon as he could arrange it. He snagged Severus' arm and side-along apparated the three of them away. A split second later the frantic Albus too many names Dumbledore arrived to find the area empty of his sacrificial pawn.
Chapter 2: Malfoy Manor
Voldemort landed them very firmly just outside of the gates to Malfoy Manor. He had wanted to go straight to the palace and see about informing the Queen just as he knew Harry wanted to but both had sadly determined that Harry needed more medical care first.
Harry grunted at the landing as his ribs tried to move again in response to the jar for all that Voldemort had tried to make it a smooth trip.
The Dark Lord frowned in concern at Harry's suppressed distress. Having gotten copies of Harry's memories via the lightning scar horcrux he knew how much pain was needed to drag even a whisper of discomfort out of his precious cargo, damn the Dursleys. A sharp rap on the gates from Severus' wand had them being immediately admitted to the Manor grounds thanks to his long standing invitation as part of being Draco's godfather.
Once inside the wards with Harry's signature being recognized as supposed to be there they apparated within the wards to appear over a mile father into the property, landing inside the receiving hall of the actual Manor. They had used previously granted emergency permissions keyed to their magical signatures to keep the wards from deciding they shouldn't and clamping down on them to trap them in place. Something that Harry was dubiously grateful for since it meant another painful jar to his still damaged ribs as they jumped locations a second time in as many seconds.
"Master be needing anything?" squeaked a house elf after jumping at their sudden arrival.
"Fetch your Master and Mistress, quickly," Severus ordered sharply. The elf disappeared immediately with a pop. A few minutes later Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy rushed into the room in concern only to stop short at the unheard of sight before them.
"Narcissa, help Potter," Voldemort ordered sharply.
Startled out of their shock Narcissa immediately obeyed. The first thing she did was start casting diagnostic spells as Severus filled her in on what he had found initially and what he had done in response. The possessively protective look in the Dark Lord's eye was the only thing keeping anyone from suggesting that Potter be set down somewhere.
Used to difficult patients and somewhat grateful for the ruined short on said patient Narcissa skillfully worked around the fact that Harry was being held as she acted to heal him. The broken and fractured bones were temporarily glued into place until she could either get skelegrow into him or cast the bone mending spell without interference. A double check for possible interfering magics once the worst of the damage was temporarily patched satisfied her sense of caution, allowing her to start casting the more powerful healing spells. By the time she was done Harry only needed a potions regime to counter his malnutrition and a few immediate potions to deal with the blood loss and internal bruising.
"He needs to rest for the next day or two and the daily nutrition potions to counter his malnutrition will take months before we are done. Otherwise I've healed him the best I can," Narcissa told them firmly. She was an excellent certified healer.
"As much as I appreciate it I've healed from worse without help," Harry pointed out wryly.
"Which is part of why you will be staying at my side along with Severus, foolish brat," Voldemort pointed out dryly. "Now that I am aware of Dumbledore's secrets regarding you I'll not risk you. You have your OWLs and we can work on fixing those horrendous schooling gaps as we go along. Once everything is done, presuming Dumbledore doesn't try pulling anything idiotic, you can take your NEWTs. At least this time around I'm not terrorizing England with a large portion of my attention dedicated solely to your capture and execution."
"Fucking time travel," Harry groused mutinously. He knew he was actually to blame for that but his complaint was still a good way to clue in the Malfoys that they weren't insane. Insanity, after all, complicates everything even when it isn't your own sanity actually in question.
"You are the one who managed to cause it in the first place," Voldemort pointed out in amusement. "Just be glad the only side effects of talking such a powerful being into letting you try was my automatic accompaniment and your choice of Severus being returned to aid you. It was a side effect of our unique status to one another which triggered the return of my sanity and my gaining copies of your memories."
"Yeah, I remember," Harry agreed with a sigh. "Can you put me down now?"
"No," Voldemort refuted as he outright grinned at Harry's antics.
"How old are the two of you again?" Severus quietly snarked.
"Actually, not counting my copies of the brat's memories... I would guess I'm in my 70s. The brat has lived... 159? 170? years," Voldemort answered thoughtfully, his enhanced hearing easily picking up the muttered question.
"Hey, those time warps don't count! 132, thank you very much!" Harry shot back with false hauteur.
"You stopped aging at 21 and dealt with dying repeatedly not to mention the other time related incidents," Voldemort said dryly. "You are probably closer to 300 in experience alone."
"I really hope we never decide to sleep together romantically. It wouldn't work, we know each other way too well," Harry snarked, laughter dancing in his eyes.
"Brat," Voldemort smirked but didn't actually argue the point. Dumbledore was a meddling old fool who had shared his personal history without permission but he was a thorough meddling old fool.
"Right so is it breakfast time yet? I could kill for a little fresh fruit to start my guts working again," Harry asked with a tired smile. He had already mourned Hedwig the first time she died so while it had hurt to watch her die again, especially at the hands of his uncle, her death was still something of an old wound that was mostly healed. He would fiercely miss her again for a time but it wouldn't completely destroy him like the last time.
"They starved you again," Voldemort concluded in resignation.
"You know their opinions from my memories," Harry pointed out evenly. His ripped shirt was starting to irritate him but he wasn't going to say anything. He was used to it any way.
"Your Aunt and Uncle are as good as dead. I will allow that your cousin tried to change after facing the Dementors last summer so he will get a second chance but not the others," Voldemort warned.
"I can accept that," Harry agreed before abruptly dropping like a stone into sleep as the adrenaline and pain lessened, the hunger pains too familiar to keep him properly awake.
"You knew he was going to crash," Severus said in concern.
"I did. I helped it along a bit. It was part of why I didn't bother setting him down," Voldemort agreed sadly. "Combined with the banter it also made him feel safe enough to crash because of how unlike my insane self it was, reminding him rather firmly that I no longer want him dead."
"Starvation my lord?" Lucius asked tentatively.
"His muggle relatives despise magic with a passion and took it out on him the moment he was given into their care. Petunia Dursley nee Evans and her husband will face my wrath for the harm they have done a magical child. Before you ask... yes, we will be going back to my original goals as soon as the newest threat to our world is dealt with," Voldemort informed them coolly.
Severus let go of the breath he hadn't known he was holding in a shock of pained exhalation. He hadn't known the brat was facing Petunia, the spiteful bitch, every summer as his guardian. This was something no magical child should need to deal with. He was sadly unsurprised to hear she had not performed her familial duties to Harry with even a small part of actual caring. This was something he would have to think about further combined with letting the last of his hatred for James stop influencing how he dealt with Harry. The old man in a young body no longer needed the shield that hatred formed and he deserved better than Severus had allowed himself to give.
"We... will need to cast for a full medical history, document everything," Severus spluttered.
"We can't do anything with the documentation until after the threat is neutralized but it may help if he gets into another impossible situation that changes his health later. I swear he must have a luck curse or three tied to his blood," Voldemort groused as he moved towards his own quarters in the Manor with the others trailing behind him.
"A sentiment that Lucius and I share. The brat has far too much unpredictable luck for his own good," Severus drawled, slightly more at ease with that acknowledgement over all the rest that had been addressed that morning.
Harry was put to bed in a guest room next the Dark Lord's own room. His clothes magically swapped for a shrunken set of Voldemort's night clothes even as his body was spelled clean. A cup of juice was also spelled into Harry's stomach with the house elf tasked to watch over him told to give him more fruit and juice when he woke. Knowing that Harry was safe and sleeping the others proceeded to make their way to the dining room for their own breakfast.
Chapter 3: Marks and Loyalty
Once breakfast was over Voldemort led an increasingly nervous Severus off to a sitting room he quickly secured before turning to address the dark Potions Master.
"There will be no more sly reports to Dumbledore, no more lies to me, no more playing the evil dungeon bat that hates Potters," Voldemort informed him flatly. "You will be cordial or at least not actively antagonistic when interacting with Harry. I know he enjoys your snark and has no problem arguing with you, that is not my concern. My concern has to do with your bullying attempts to break him. I won't allow it any longer."
"My lord, if I may?" Severus requested tentatively. Voldemort gestured his permission, allowing the man to explain. "A part of it was a cover but another part was a mix of orders from Dumbledore and the old coot's re-enforcement of the perception that Harry is his father. I... failed to recognize the manipulation at the time. No one magical who is forced to grow up under the care of Petunia can come out as the arrogant brat I believed Harry to be until recently. I may still have trouble modifying my behavior out of habit but I assure you any true ill will I held for... Harry beyond that which was caused by his own actions is something I now recognize as not his fault."
"Very well. We will see if you can school yourself," Voldemort decided with narrow eyed suspicion. "In the meantime I will be modifying your mark to avoid certain... problems. Prove that my original trust was not misplaced, that Harry's trust was not misplaced, and we will see what happens. However, just as Harry is my Horcrux and has already destroyed them all at least once you know too much of them to simply be released and ignored aside from your own considerable skill."
"I... understand," Severus swallowed hard as he mentally admitted defeat. His fate was tied to these two wizards for good of for ill even as it had been in their other life.
"I don't think you do but you will learn. Regardless I am curious to know why you were taking Harry to the palace," Voldemort inquired pointedly.
"A mix of his impossible luck and... previous family affiliation. As I told you before they might have killed me but Potter would have been investigated, probably even helped, especially in his less than ideal condition. It would have at least gotten more resources involved in the situation trying to prevent non-combatant deaths. I have no idea what invasion the two of you keep referring to as I woke in my quarters at Hogwarts after feeling myself die under Nagini's fangs. The call of the mark and of... my life debt to Potter dragged me to the muggle street before I could finish packing and any other preparations I may have thought of. Its not a true life debt with Dumbledore having forced it on me in my fifth year but it is strong enough for my magic to respond to it," Severus admitted stiffly. He fully expected to get cursed if only because he had never reported the life debt to the Dark Lord. "I have reason to suspect that the weak life debt and the mark re-enforced each other in this."
"Any other magical constraints?" Voldemort frowned. The life debt, even with it only being a partial one, was concerning. He could get around it but it might be simpler to just ask Harry to recognize it and declare that it had been fulfilled or arrange for it to be fulfilled via a set task.
"Mostly just the standard ones as a Hogwarts teacher and Head of House. I have one in regards to the muggle royal family that I inherited. Unless they are in direct danger in my presence or officially call on the old Loyalty Oaths it does little beyond granting me an emergency audience in a time of need," Severus admitted sheepishly.
"We may need to use that," Voldemort sighed. "For now I will officially assign you as Harry's guard. A few adjustments to your mark will ease my mind and keep someone from forcing you to do anything on most matters."
Severus silently rolled up his left sleeve, offering it to the man he had sworn his loyalty to as a teen.
"~Display,~" Voldemort ordered in parseltongue only to frown. "Its been tampered with. I'm surprised it hasn't hurt you with the way someone twisted certain sections. Then there is this separate power leech that somehow attached its self to the mark. I can't make out the signature on any of it with how the mark overwhelms the caster's signature. There is nothing for it, I will have to remove the lot and cast everything anew."
"Ah, what exactly twisted?" Severus asked curiously.
"There is a power transfer section meant to provide emergency boosts going both ways but is not actually meant leech off of you without need. The second section interacts with, and relies on, your oath and loyalty to myself. The third twisted section... is part of the calling function. Yes, its supposed to sting when I call but not to the pain level of a second degree burn. Nor is it supposed to enhance any pain spells I toss at you in a temper, its actually supposed to dampen those a touch so that I don't accidentally hurt you in my anger. The loyalty one was probably compromised by the family loyalty oath to the crown so that entire section will need to be removed. With this travesty I am very surprised that you stayed even just as a spy," Voldemort answered, still frowning, upset over what he had found.
A slash of the Dark Lord's wand and a hissed command dragged a pained cry from Severus as the magics were ruthlessly striped away from the younger wizard. Severus could feel himself vaguely fall to his knees as he panted, attempting to regain himself before anything else was cast. Thankfully, Voldemort held off, observing Severus as he recovered from the foreign magic being ripped away.
"Was there a... gentler way to remove them?" Severus rasped, his throat sore from his earlier harsh cry of pain.
"Not really. I didn't find any booby traps, mine or someone else's, and figured on the fast bandage removal method to minimize the risk. A few of the parts of my mark require rapid removal in any case to keep tampering to a minimum," Voldemort shrugged. "I didn't expect to need to rework the entire mark for you so as long as you don't leave the grounds until I've marked you again, presuming you aren't with me on my own trips elsewhere, I won't fuss. Brew to your hearts content or research or whatever you do when you visit Lucius. I recommend bringing any outside correspondence to me first but the only ones I'm going to require it on are anything involving Dumbledore and his order as a security precaution."
"You really are sane again," Severus said in complete astonishment. Voldemort just laughed and waved him out of the room after taking down the privacy wards he had put up. Severus wasted no time in searching out his long time friend Lucius to discuss these latest changes in the Dark Lord.
Chapter 4: Mid-day Meal
The first thing Draco did when he saw Harry being led to the dining room to join everyone for lunch was try to hex him. The second thing he did was dive out of the way of his automatically deflected hex and stare in shock at his school rival.
"Come on Draco, we'll be late for lunch," Harry said sleepily, ambling down the hall after the somewhat concerned house elf leading him. Bewildered, Draco followed on his heels.
"Father why is Pothead here?" Draco demanded as he entered the dining room, throwing suspicious looks in Harry's direction as they sat down at the table.
"I brought him with me and you would do well to keep any disagreements with one another down," Voldemort answered calmly for Lucius.
"Yes my lord!" Draco squeaked, doing his best to hide his shock and failing miserably.
Harry just rolled his eyes at them both and politely dug into his plate of fruits. It would take him a little time to work back up to something heavier but he had done this before every year at the start of school. He also already knew that the house elves had been instructed to feed him several extra small snacks ranging up to actual small meals to help bring his stomach back up to something close to a normal size.
"So are we waiting until school starts, trying to talk to the Queen right away, or simply announcing that the war is over at least until we deal with the incoming army?" Harry asked blithely ignoring the horror of the Malfoys at the thought of fighting an army.
"The plan was to retrieve you, make sure no one is trying to kill you then use an Imperio to get the minister to arrange an emergency meeting between us. I should have guessed you'd have gotten hurt by your relatives and need healing," Voldemort said pointedly.
"Not my fault!" Harry protested. "Hey, you know that army of Inferi you've got in that cave?"
"Yesss," Voldemort drawled, eyes narrowed dangerously.
"If I get you the locket they are missing back will you re-absorb it and the diadems?" Harry asked carefully, eyes never meeting Voldemort's.
"Why?" Voldemort demanded. "Your little stunt already re-integrated the diary and Nagini."
"I think you'll do better with more. Frankly, if I can talk you into it or even blackmail you into it I intend to see you re-absorb all of them but me. You can't do me any way and my weird immortality extends to you because of my scar so that's not really an issue. I really don't want to have to fight an insane you again, time travel or not," Harry said firmly.
Draco gaped at his schoolyard rival before turning pleading puppy dog eyes at his parents for either an explanation or an end to the strange madness gripping his classmate.
"Why do you have an army of Inferi?" Severus asked slowly, slightly pale from discovering said Inferi.
"They were set to guard something but Regulus Black stole it and Kreacher has been trying to destroy it as Regulus' last command. He hasn't succeeded yet but that's to be expected in this case," Voldemort answered absently as he glared at Harry.
"It will get him to stop being depressed, you'll get your mother's locket back, and another two will be out of the order's easy reach," Harry said persuasively. "Dumbledore either has the ring or will have it soon. He's already cursed when he drags me to meet Slughorn in mid-July."
"Then he already has it. I had to treat him in mid-June," Severus said quietly.
"That's right, you might not have copies of mine but you've got yours up until... when? May '98?" Harry remembered. Just because he'd asked for the man to have all of his memories didn't mean it actually happened.
"May '98," Severus agreed. "Of course that was the other timeline. We've already changed things enough so that that one is unlikely to reoccur."
"Something we should all be grateful for," Voldemort grimaced in agreement. "Very well call your elf and have him bring the diadem also. We can negotiate the cup and how to retrieve the ring properly later."
"If we just wait until Christmas Dumbledore should destroy the ring for us and you'll have an uncomfortable few hours afterwards but still get the piece back. No, I'm more concerned with retrieving the stone in the ring and the wand Dumbledore has been using," Harry shot back.
"Unless you call Dobby and ask him to retrieve both the ring and the Diadem from Hogwarts for us," Voldemort pointed out very carefully.
"Bellatrix doesn't get near him, Hermione, or Neville," Harry demanded flatly.
"If anything she is going to be on the front lines. I can assign her to a separate team but you and I both know your little army club won't let you tell them they can't fight at your side," Voldemort snorted. "You will be physically sixteen in a month and all of your year mates will be sixteen by the time school starts. Sixteen is old enough to join the armed forces... old enough to be drafted."
"We don't have long," Harry pointed out darkly. "I might have managed to single-handedly stave off the main incursion without knowing it until I hit my 60s but I don't think it will work like that this time."
"What enemy?!" Draco finally demanded in sheer frustration only to get scolded by both his parents with a sharp "Draco!" that made him flinch.
"Hey, shouldn't Lucius be in Azkaban? For the Department of Mysteries mess?" Harry frowned, suddenly realizing what had been bothering him since they got to the Manor.
"Lucius?" Voldemort asked in a dangerously soft voice.
"You three were not the only ones returned and I... traded Pettigrew. He is more of a danger than a help in any case," Lucius reluctantly admitted. "I also suspected Potter would be at the core of this strange situation and offered to see that you both got checked by a healer as a test to see if you can be reasoned with just now and a potential cease fire put in place... for talks with Madam Bones."
"I see why you like him for your right hand man," Harry commented, a slight smile dancing around the edges of his mouth.
"Even as Severus has always been my left," Voldemort agreed before instructing the blond with a sigh. "Lucius, go floo her and invite her for tea. Explain very carefully that while she personally is being granted safe passage for talks no one else is."
"Yes my lord," Lucius said in relief, happy to avoid being crucioed.
A quick call to Kreacher and Dobby got them the Ring, Diadem, Necklace, and Elder wand. As Harry touched the wand and the Ring his invisibility cloak flew into the room to settle around his shoulders as if granting him quiet lordly authority. A quick chant in Parseltongue combined with a good half hour of blinding pain had returned the three soul shards to their rightful place, leaving only the Cup and Harry to hold his Horcruxes. This also happened to grant Voldemort his younger looks once again but for his eyes. His eyes remained wine red verses the original bright blue yet didn't take away from his currently 21 year old body that now displayed his original school looks.
"Thanks!" Harry said with cheerful impishness as he absorbed the three Hallows into his nearly 16 year old body.
Chapter 5: Tea Time Briefing
Lunch was swiftly finished and Madam Bones was contacted, gaining her wary agreement. Draco was sent away while everyone else moved to a sitting room for tea and reading until Madam Bones showed up. Harry arranged himself next to Severus and Voldemort, very firmly showing that he wasn't going to be excluded from the meeting.
"We will be pressing charges against both your relatives and Umbridge," Voldemort said into the quiet, making Harry flinch.
"It wasn't so bad," Harry countered lightly.
"Harry, when an adult draws blood on a child with malicious intent or refuses them food for days on end when there is plenty to go around its worse than bad," Voldemort countered calmly. "You may have been in pain at the time but you still ceded the punishment of your relatives to me, not that I would have allowed them to get away with your mistreatment now that I know of it. Even if you somehow managed to get me to ignore so many detentions filled with hours of being forced to use a blood quill of all things last year she still tried to crucio you before you made it to the ministry. That isn't acceptable behavior around any children. My own insane actions not withstanding, you are mine and likely also my heir. As such I am well within my legal rights to press charges against that woman or even challenge her to a duel so that I might legally cut her down with my own wand."
"We still have to deal with the invasion," Harry pointed out tensely both ignoring and acknowledging the argument.
"Which is part of why I will be flatly informing Madam Bones of a few things before we attempt to contact the Muggle Queen. This time around it will likely be on our shores quickly and with much bloodshed," Voldemort agreed seriously. "As a consolation I will consent to be addressed as Marvolo from now on."
"Marvolo," Harry nodded his understanding and turned back to the book he had been allowed to borrow from the Malfoys while they waited on Madam Bones.
"A blood quill? That woman used a blood quill on students?! I will kill her myself!" Narcissa hissed in fury, forcing the equally enraged Severus and Lucius to subdue her.
"That is the appropriate response," Voldemort quietly informed a pale Harry. An uncomfortable look from the supposedly younger man proved that he had gotten his point across.
"None of us had any idea," Severus said gruffly as they all finally sat back down. He was just as upset but used his Occlumency shields to keep control of his fury. Narcissa was fuming and Lucius, while not much better, watched his wife warily.
"Then why did McGonagall tell me to keep my head down when I tried to report it?" Harry asked mirthlessly.
"Probably because you seemed to be her primary target and, aside for your own penchant for trouble, she didn't appear terribly stable when it came to anything outside her idea of a perfect world. Anything Ministry or Fudge related that wasn't practically worshiped she felt the need to force the issue and try to declare the person either a traitor or issue a punishment of some kind. Your pointed reminder of the Dark Lord possibly being back and the resultant threat he would be to her precious Ministry combined with Fudge's open denial would have been seen as a knife to her own throat not the warning you meant it to be. People rarely react rationally to anything perceived as a death threat," Severus explained, forcing himself into calmness and resulting also calming the Malfoys in the process.
Further conversation was interrupted by Madam Bones arriving early as she was shown into the sitting room by a house elf. She took one look at the asdembled people and sighed in resignation.
"This isn't going to be pretty is it?" Madam Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Law Enforcement asked tiredly.
"Sit down and find out. I promise you I'm here by my own choice and we haven't killed each other yet!" Harry said brightly, earning a resigned sigh from Marvolo and an eye roll from Severus.
"How badly am I going to want to weep after whatever you tell me?" Bones asked warily. She guessed that the ruby eyed man in front of her was a messenger from the Dark Lord or some sort of representative and Potter could technically be a representative of Dumbledore's faction. She also knew that if she left without Potter now that she knew he was here and officially important for stopping the Dark Lord there would be hell to pay.
"End of the war but only because another war, one for the survival of all of us, is about to start," Marvolo said succinctly. Amelia Bones cursed, long and loud.
"If it makes you feel any better they haven't bothered explaining properly to the rest of us. We are upset over... more local concerns that they have brought to our attention only to tell us it has to wait until the big thing is dealt with," Severus drawled snarkily.
"The hatred of my relatives and Umbridge's idiocy is not new," Harry shot back dryly.
"Time travel may be involved with the current situation. Something which is, incidentally, a good thing considering the damage Potter and I had to leave behind as we sought to undue the slaughter," Marvolo said, indicating himself and Harry. "Following Dumbledore's plan to end the Dark Lord and his people is no longer feasible. Worse its wasteful of resources and bodies on both sides which we will desperately need in the coming days. It is also no longer necessary in regards to the fact that his sanity has been forcefully returned by our little trip through time. He was, in fact, clinically insane and had been since at the very least age sixteen. He has also gone from a ghost-like state to a proper body and as a result can't be charged for anything that occurred prior to June 23, 1995. The third task of the Tri-wizard tournament."
"Please tell me I am not in fact speaking with the Dark Lord?" Amelia pleaded, her eyes closed in dread. Her only answer was a malicious chuckle from Marvolo. "That's what I was afraid of."
"I have no intention of killing you Madam Bones. Your safe passage will be honored, of that you need have no fear. If you need extra assurance Potter can in fact exert some control over me since we got back. Not much but it is better than nothing. Combined with my returned sanity, presuming Dumbledore stops trying to portray me as evil incarnate, I am no longer a threat to the populace. I will happily release the identity of Voldemort to the shadows of children's stories in favor of a more mundane name along with acknowledgement of my family rights and heritage. Wholesale slaughter was never my goal, change was and is. There are risks being blatantly ignored... but then we have larger problems to worry about rather than the potential complete collapse of the Statute of Secrecy. My views and reasonings can be discussed another time. I will even publish in the paper with a full personal history up until my new name is created in addition to my goals, why I went bat shit insane, and how my insanity was fixed. I can not cede my people to your justice system because of the old loyalty oaths they swore. They are my vassals as a magical Lord," Marvolo explained patiently, causing her to go paler and paler until she was nearly bone white.
"But then..." Bones trailed off in dismay.
"The magic will not backlash. I was an enemy to the entirety of Wizarding Britain at the time of their capture and punishment. I was also still insane until around 3am this morning, when the time travel kicked in," Marvolo corrected gently. "It wouldn't surprise me in the least that Harry accidentally earned a life debt from most of Wizarding Britain if not all of it when he defeated me after his parent's death."
"Which time?" Harry asked in amusement.
"I was thinking of the night your parents died but all of the times I was insane could count," Marvolo admitted smoothly. "You did very well acting as their shield and little light warrior."
"So that's what? Three times? I'm not counting the graveyard or the stuff that won't happen now. The first time was with my parents. The second was first year when you were on the back of Quirrell's head, the third was your Diary in second year... Yeah, three times," Harry listed teasingly, not really believing any of it might count for life debts.
The dead silence made him look at the suddenly pale faces of everyone but Marvolo. Marvolo, for his part, just looked at Harry in open amusement.
"Oh come on! Really?!" Harry exclaimed in dismay.
"We are checking you for luck curses," Severus demanded, his tone brooking no argument. Harry meeped at the fierceness of his demand and nodded meek acceptance.
"As much as I sympathize Severus a great deal of the trouble around him can be firmly laid at Dumbledore's feet. Or at least it could until after Harry actually managed to kill me in the other timeline," Marvolo smirked.
"Dumbledore was dead by then" Harry protested feebly.
"Yes, but you were still following his idiotic trail of bread crumbs. Granted, it worked, but I was also insane and increasingly unstable. Your real knack for trouble and impossible situations didn't manifest until after you started acting on your own instincts and choices. I also grant that the situation generally turned out for the better even if one of the first things you did was accidentally become immortal," Marvolo smirked at the openly at the indignant centenarian in a teenager's body.
"He did WHAT?!" Bones demanded.
"I gathered the three Deathly Hallows from that old story about the Peverell brothers on accident. Its part of how we came back in time," Harry answered with a resigned sigh. "I swear if you tell the blasted Unspeakables I'll make your life a living hell."
"What did they do?" Severus asked in resigned amusement.
"Its more what they wanted to do rather than what they actually succeeded in doing. They wanted to go off and kill me as many ways as they could possibly think of to double check my immortality and they wanted me to give up the Hallows. I found out later they planned to try making the entire department immortal so that they could forever research to their hearts content or at least keep me as a lab rat for all eternity. Thankfully, I'd already publicly killed yon idiot so they couldn't touch me without getting torn apart by my so called fans," Harry answered sarcastically with a shudder of mental horror over the entire thing.
"Perhaps we've drifted a touch off topic?" Lucius suggested cautiously.
"Very well. Madam Bones, to put it simply we have an incoming invasion that will likely be long and bloody. In the records we found in Gringotts during one of the attempted peace talks we discovered one of the reasons the Magical World was allowed to separate from the Muggle one. Those of magical blood are historically the first defense against this type of invasion. If we fail to even attempt to honor that not only do we likely get slaughtered or enslaved by the invaders but the magic binding the Wizarding Charter in regards to the muggle crown will see us as having broken our end. It will also automatically bring us under the crown's direct control and tear down the Statute of Secrecy to ensure the crown can appropriately govern the magical citizens of the United Kingdom. In short, we fight off the incoming invaders or we still have to fight them off but we lose our ability to act as a separate world from the muggles, possibly permanently," Marvolo told her succinctly.
"What we need is to publish an official cease fire and openly enter negotiations. Negotiations in which Dumbledore and Fudge are both banned from attending due to their previous actions," Harry told her flatly. "McGonagall can come as Dumbledore's representative and we'd like you to stand for the Ministry. This has to work in a timely manner. In the other timeline I accidentally bought us extra time with my near constant spectacular magical fights with Voldemort along with the deaths of nearly a quarter of Britain's magical population. This can be replicated up to a point but the lack of additional spilled magical blood means the signature of our fights won't be amplified like last time. This in turn drops our time to prepare down from nearly 45 years to only a few years or even months. We don't have the time to continue fighting a war of ideology."
"I... we need this to be completely above board and having a few reporters on hand might be a good ides," Madam Bones pointed out tiredly. This was an utter nightmare.
"You have a week. We will be contacting the Muggle Crown separately in the hopes that bringing them in early enough will stave off a certain amount of some of the inter-department disasters and pissing matches that got too many people killed. Also, when Dumbledore throws a fit and demands I be captured and turned over to his care you can tell him to fuck off. The Tri-wizard tournament, by his own actions, declared me an adult," Harry told her firmly. "So did that farce of a trial at the start of last year."
They quickly arranged a tentative time and place for the official talks with the agreement to use the paper as a way to formally announce the idea as if they hadn't already talked about it. Madam Bones needed a headache potion and a calming draught before she left but the basics for both the cease fire and the start of negotiations were laid out before she used the floo. The moment she stepped back into her department she started barking out orders and arranging to fight a war.
Chapter 6: Queen's Missive
"Now we just need to contact the Queen," Marvolo said with a sigh, rubbing at his aching forehead.
"Queen and Country," Harry smirked mirthlessly. Before he could move or make another snarky comment he felt the sleep charm hit him. The look of wounded betrayal that Harry sent towards the others even as he fell asleep, barely registering Narcissa's raised wand tore at the blond woman's heart.
"My lord I believe that we may have an opportunity if you are willing to wait to cast the modified mark," Severus said carefully.
"Indeed?" Marvolo asked archly. He carefully conjured a blanket and levitated it to settle on top of the now sleeping Harry. "And what opportunity might that be?"
"You could claim to have released my service to either Harry or completely as an act of sincerity or we can use my lack of mark as tentative proof that you want to end the second war before it begins. There are also ways of using it to simply screw with Dumbledore and Fudge if you would prefer?" Severus offered, feigning indifference on the matter.
"An amusing thought but we still need to see to the Queen before dealing with them. I will write an official offer of talks to be posted in the Daily Prophet's morning edition If Lucius would be so kind as to deliver it. Your task, as Harry is currently sleeping, is to arrange for that royal audience or at least a phone call," Marvolo ordered.
They set to writing their respective important letters with serious urgency after summoning parchment, quills, and sealing wax. Severus very carefully mentioned each of the Oaths and binds he was currently under as well as the Unbreakable Vow to act as Potter's protector forced on him by Dumbledore that no one else was yet aware of. The code phrase to indicate authenticity was integrated within the very first paragraph. The Latin phrase which entitled him to an emergency meeting with his Sovereign was placed alone just before his signature. The letters were quickly sent off, one with Lucius the other with a house elf, leaving them to wait.
The Queen was sitting down to her own afternoon tea when the house elf popped in.
"Middy has 'mergency delivery fors Queeny! Middy knows must waits to bes checked befores Queeny cans bes reading. Is very importants!" the little elf squeaked hurridly, not at all worried about the sudden appearance of many guns and not a few wands.
One of the wizards cautiously approached and started casting detection spells only to come up with an identity seal combined with protective enchantments to keep the message from being destroyed or read by anyone but the recipient. Middy waited patiently as she held the letter out to be checked.
"Its just got protective stuff and an ident key but nothing that will backlash beyond blanking the parchment until the right person goes to read it. It looks like it was hastily charmed but it practically screams important aside from the delivery method and recipient. I'm simply not finding anything that could hurt anyone," the investigating wizard shrugged.
"Ma'am?" the lead security officer asked, he really didn't want to give it to her without getting it checked further but it seemed to be safe and was thus the monarch's call.
"We will accept the letter," the Queen instructed.
"Middy will give to wizard if wizard gives straight to Queeny," Middy instructed firmly. "Middy knows Queeny protectors might not want Middy near Queeny in case of Middy popping Queeny somewheres withs no askings. Middy not mind."
"How very perceptive," the Queen murmured with a smothered smile as she was brought the parchment.
"Middy knows Queeny important. Letter very important. Queeny needs read very important letter. Queeny needs know danger so Queeny help stop danger. House elves help! You calls us Brownies. Wizardings calls us House Elvesies. Wes just us. Wes no like things threatening our wizardings," Middy explained simply.
"That... isn't good. When the House elves decide something is actually dangerous as a whole. Ma'am, I really think you need to read that letter," the lead wizard officer said urgently.
Brownies, better known as House Elves, were powerful little things that bonded to a magical family or a magical place so as to avoid pouring out all of their magic within a few years along with their lives. They were also fiercely protective of their charges on top of being extra sensitive to their environment. If you managed to gain the personal loyalty of one they would do practically anything for you or to protect you.
The Queen nodded slowly before opening the letter. It stuck a bit, confirming her identity, before opening and the ink magically unfolded on the parchment into the very important letter. She read the words in increasingly grim silence until she hit the pass phrase authorizing an emergency audience with the current monarch, sucking in a shocked breath as she recognized it.
"Do you know if our vassal was forced to write this?" the Queen asked sharply.
"Middy thinks not. Middy thinks story of time travels is real. Middy worried. Dobby's Harry Potter sir different, stronger, feels like protector and friend to all elvesies. Harry Potter sir's Professor Snapey and Dark Lordy different too. Dark Lordy took away Professor Snapey's arm mark, had mistress heal Harry Potter sir of many ouchies. Professor Snapey stays near Harry Potter sir and Dark Lordy much. Harry Potter sir fixed Dark Lordy mind ouchie, soul ouchie mostly fixed too. Wizardings no know House Elvesies know things. Wes only missing few pieces and no one ask for helpsies on big things like magics twist wrong or bad magics. Wes try... sometimes," Middy explained worriedly. She knew her humans needed this woman's help and so did the other elves. They knew part of what was coming but they were helpless to get anyone to listen. Now that Harry had come back in time with some of his previously earned magical titles the game had changed.
"Time travel?! Oh bloody buggering hell! If time travel is involved... Shit! There is a reason why using it is normally illegal or heavilly regulated but its also an official last resort option, literally a doomsday protocol!" the leading wizard cursed, pacing back and forth in open aggitation.
"Middy bes thinking Harry Potter sir had nos choice. Middy be sorry, not knowing enough," Middy offered up apologetically.
"Middy can you bring Mr. Potter, Professor Snape and the Dark Lord here? Or at least deliver a missive to each of them for me?" the Queen asked seriously.
"Middy cans bes doing this. Middy thinks takes letters and brings them afters reading. Is what Queeny want?" Middy asked for clarrification.
"That is perfectly acceptable. Would you be willing to deliver them immediately?" the Queen asked. Middy nodded her enthusiastic agreement, waiting excitedly for the return letters. The Queen opened her drawer with offical monogramed parchment meant for decrees, summons, and other official imprtant crown related paperwork to pull out several blank sheets. It took her a little time but Middy still popped away with three handwritten summons for the trio of wizards.
"Ma'am? Might I ask..." the lead wizard officer started.
"You may not," the Queen said curtly before turning back to her tea.
Chapter 7: Tea with the Queen
Warning! Talk of the war!
This was very emotionally draining to write guys.
Middy the House Elf returned promptly with three separate responses, much to everyone's surprise. Harry was quickly released from the sleep spell, much to Narcissa's annoyance, to read his letter. The fact that when they opened the response they found a royal summons a piece to be followed immediately, preferably via Middy the House Elf shocked everyone present.
"Yous bes ready to bes going yet?" Middy asked cheerfully.
"Actually, can I get some thing from my stuff first? I saw Snape had put them with me in my room and... I need to borrow better clothes," Harry blushed in embarrassment.
"Yes you do," Marvolo acknowledged with a wince. Most of Harry's things were battered or nearly ruined due to either the Dursley's actions or the general malicious idiocy of fellow students in the last school year. They hadn't had time to arrange for replacements yet.
"You can both use some of mine since I'm fairly certain that Marvolo didn't realize his own clothes needed a bit of adjusting and mine have protective enchantments in case of student idiocy both with potions and stray spells. It actually costs a good chunk of my teaching salary when I have to buy a new wardrobe," Severus explained in sarcastic amusement before sending Middy to fetch them his clothes, appropriately resized. A switching charm had them dressed without the embarrassment or needing to leave the room and a summoning charm had the Marauder's map in Harry's hands to be tucked into a pocket.
"Anything else?" Harry asked, somewhat distractedly.
"No. They will likely want our wands as a security precaution in any case so don't tell them that the three of us can supposedly cast wandlessly unless they actually ask. We aren't there to hurt anyone if we can help it," Marvolo reminded them both. Harry and Severus nodded in acknowledgement before allowing Middy to pop them straight to the office of Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace.
The sudden training of guns and wands on them was to be expected. All the three did was ignore the security, turn to her majesty and kneel, holding out the open summons that Middy had delivered to them. A greeting of "Your Majesty" on each of their lips.
"Does Queeny bes needing anythings else from Middy?" Middy asked happily.
"Would you mind terribly making certain they are unarmed and their wands are given to my lead magical officer? I'm afraid asking you to fetch them like this has made my security people... upset," the Queen suggested carefully.
"Middy cans bes doing that!" Middy agreed cheerfully and with a snap of her fingers the potions knife that had been in Snape's wrist sheath along side their wands was in the hands of the security forces. Seeing that she was no longer needed she popped home after that, back to Malfoy Manor.
"I'd completely forgotten about wearing that," Severus admitting in sheepish embarrassment. He used that knife when having to brew without proper facilities and when gathering ingredients he stumbled across.
"Ever the Potions Master," Harry snorted in open amusement.
"Mine vassal your brief news disturbed us. We would like further explanation," the Queen commanded.
"Vassal? No wonder that part of the mark twisted! We're lucky it didn't kill you outright for swearing to a different master unless... you received permission or a command to act as a spy," Marvolo concluded with chagrin.
"Good thing you aren't insane any more and took the mark off of him!" Harry openly laughed.
"Harry? Remember how much I know about you?" Marvolo asked sweetly.
"Yeah?" Harry asked instantly wary.
"Blackmail," Marvolo said smugly and Harry understood, subsiding into a brief glower at his fellow wizard.
"It didn't keep me from dying via Nagini in the last time line," Severus reminded them reprovingly, sobering both of them and earning sheepish looks from both wizards.
"Explain!" Queen Elizabeth demanded with a narrow-eyed glare at the three of them. She was leaving them kneeling for a number of different reasons but largely to keep them from attacking each other as from what her magical security people had told her at least two of them were actively trying to kill each other on a regular basis.
"He has impossible luck," Severus said, stabbing a finger at Harry who just gave his most innocent look in response. "Somehow he convinced some entity, I presume a magical one, to send himself back in time via memories and update my own memories up to the point of my death in the original time line. In the process the Dark Lord has not only had a similar memory update but also gained copies of Potter's own updated memories and been returned to sanity. The major problem is that we are apparently facing an invasion and due to their lack of continued personal combat we no longer have nearly 45 years to prepare but an unknown amount of time ranging from weeks to years."
"I didn't even know we'd accidentally bought extra time until one of the invaders started gloating about us not having proper magical power house warrior anymore! It was one of those times that I'd been captured somehow and he was mocking me for lack of skill. Of course my skill level isn't going to be as high as someone with more than a thousand years of battle experience!" Harry complained, scowling with an edge of a pout. "It was hard to see what they actually looked like under the armor but I got one of the helmets off in that escape even if I didn't really get a good look afterwards. My best guess is that there are a mix of species involved, some act as cannon fodder, some as mages, some as heavy hitters, and some as commanders. I think... my memories of specifics were purposefully fuzzed."
"I'll look at them later," Severus promised.
"I did receive copies of your memories and I too am having difficulty recalling specifics even if the generalities and certain combat tactics remain," Marvolo frowned in concern.
"I was hoping to share them with the Queen actually but the summons came a lot faster than I expected," Harry admitted sheepishly. "The Wizarding World takes the brunt of the first assault but with the non-magical side having a larger population it spilled over really fast. I died a lot in the last six months..."
"How exactly are you here if you died repeatedly?" the Queen asked shrewdly. She gestured them to rise and join her in sitting, finally convinced they wouldn't start attacking each other and that they were deadly serious about all of this.
"Ah, I'm sort of accidentally immortal?" Harry admitted with a blush. "Which turned out to be sort of a good thing since I was strong enough to be sent back..."
"What he's also failing to explain is that he was the last main leader left to survive in the United Kingdom after the first two years. The Royal family was wiped out aside from the children, the Prime Minister and his Deputy were dead, my people had been disbanded more than 30 years before when I was killed, and the Magical Ministry was in complete shambles. He was literally the only one left who could lead the fighters. The surviving military officers quickly recognized him as the magical general and when they got down to Major Generals they started acting like he was the top ranked officer. He was the only one surviving their assassins and suicide attacks aimed at the military commanders," Marvolo explained patiently. He completely ignored Harry's half hearted glare for sharing that.
"After the first three months I managed to activate some of the older Hogwarts wards and we put most of the children there with the House Elves guarding them. Old Magical Family Manors and Castles acted as refuges for everyone else. Everyone who could hold a weapon or a wand that was over sixteen and some who were under that volunteered. Anyone 14 or under was made to stay with the other kids," Harry explained. "We didn't have the Basilisk anymore and I found out later that she was supposed to have been one of our major artillery against this invasion attempt. So much history about the previous invasion attempts is simply gone."
"But there have been previous incursions?" the Queen asked sharply. She was not liking what she was hearing. What these men were describing was a nightmare beyond anything she could have envisioned.
"Yes, we can ask the goblins for their copies of the old records but I don't know how cooperative they will be until the first attack that seriously hits their people," Harry admitted. "I may be back in my 16 year old body, or rather my body will technically turn 16 in about a month. The problem is that we need to start getting ready now. If I have to fund it out of my own pocket I will. I wanted to warn you and see if we can start at least military integration while we still have the time," Harry explained. "I don't want to have to build the set up from scratch again and lose nearly half of the total sentient population of the United Kingdom in the mean time."
"We would have to militarize practically everyone with a wand or who can stand and set the entire country up for open warfare," one of the security guys muttered in faint disbelief.
"How did it start?" the Queen commanded.
"Slow, with cute things that were welcomed by the populace. Someone named them after the Tribbles from that first Star Trek series that showed up on the American telly in the 60's. When I got to see that episode the name fit. The next ones acted like they just wanted to be friends... I can't really remember what they looked like for some reason. They waited a few months before the armies started arriving. The first slaughters were a complete shock. They practically decapitated the magical world in one strike," Harry told her solemnly. "The pure blood's habit of dismissing non-magicals actually may have saved your side from the same kind of strike. You had a lot more warning but we were more effective on a person per person combatant status. We, both magical and non-magical, forced them to start bringing out their heavy hitters for more than just indiscriminate slaughter within the first six weeks."
They talked for another hour about the combat of the war its self before moving to what would be needed.
"We will need to end the statute at the right moment but it would frankly be simpler if you reclaimed complete sovereignty over the magical community. You would be able to establish or re-establish mutual defense treaties with the other magical sentients like the Goblins and Centaurs and Veela and the other magical communities. You would also be able to provide a stable solid connection to the other non-magical governments to help both us and them if... when it spreads," Harry explained. "We can try to fight it off as we have the other invasions but frankly those were stopped with the equivalent of a nuke or someone on Merlin's magical level dominating the field. In fact Merlin and Arthur were the ones to face the last invasion attempt, any records on anything older is completely lost."
"What of the possibility of using missiles and nuclear weapons?" the Queen asked seriously. Harry immediately winced at the memory that one question invoked.
"Not advisable," Marvolo put in immediately. "It was tried and did more damage to our side than any good against the enemy. We might encounter appropriate nuke targets at some point but as a general rule nukes are nonviable in this coming conflict. The largest thing is going to need to be increased cooperation. Charms Masters can enchant gun clips to never run out or at least have them summon more bullets into the clip from a central source. Those skilled in transfiguration can animate stone statues or change raw materials over straight into bullets en mass in a pinch. Those skilled in Defense will be able to act as roving defenders and attackers. Every magical branch has the ability to defend or attack with what they know, as with the sciences. That is, of course, presuming that they should even think of using it that way in the first place. Yet the magic is more suited to particular uses ranging from combat through enchantment, healing, and area affects depending upon the branch discipline."
"Who else have you told about these coming invaders?" one of the security wizard asked curiously.
"Only one family and the Head of our Law Enforcement division. We don't want to start a panic but being as ready as humanly possible is something that needs to happen," Harry explained. "Our current Minister is a cowardly idiot and that's putting it nicely. Our next Minister just coming into to office in the next month is a former Auror and combat veteran. The problem is that he will tend towards an everything is fine and under control byline regardless of how bad it gets. He was the Head of the Auror Office until he stepped down to run for Minister. If we can talk him into actually explaining things to the public he might even make a good Minister during war time."
"I promise not to arrange to have him Imperioused this time as long as he isn't an idiot or wasting lives," Marvolo said dryly. All three time travelers knew what he had done to the Ministry the last time.
"Right now both of these wizards have the greatest experience not only in open warfare but in fighting the incoming enemy," Severus told his Queen quietly yet firmly. "I can stay with them and act as liaison or I can work elsewhere your Majesty. I am still your vassal."
"Yes, you are indeed. Tell me is there anything we can do to protect my people beyond what you have already explained and out lined?" the Queen asked thoughtfully.
"Be honest with them and when the time to end the statute out of necessity and/or practicality comes explain that we've always been their neighbors. We hid because they started attacking us and with how long we live some of us still remember those days. Its hard to believe you won't be torn from your home and burned alive for simply being born with magic when you've watched it happen or barely escaped living it. God must have given us these abilities for a reason. We are just trying to live our lives like anyone else on the street," Harry told her bluntly. "My own relatives brought me up as basically a slave and attempted to beat the magic out of me. Marvolo grew up in an orphanage during the blitz and was treated as a Demon child complete with multiple exorcisms. You probably know more about Severus than I could discover after his death. This is why we've hid."
Harry turned his back to her, dropping his glamours as he took off his robe and shirt to show her the scars on his back. Deathly silence engulfed the room as Harry redressed and calmly re-took his seat to sip at the water he had been brought at some point, ignoring the shocked stares of everyone but a grimly understanding Marvolo.
"Yet you would still fight for us, have fought for us," the Queen whispered, pale at the visible damage done to the young man sitting in front of her.
"I did more than that your majesty. I have literally died repeatedly for our people, magical and non-magical alike," Harry corrected gently as he calmly met her gaze. "I am physically 15, nearly 16. I have lived nearly 200 years of actual life. I am no child."
"What happened to the children of my family?" Queen Elizabeth finally asked. "You said you saved them..."
"Anyone found under a certain age that wasn't magical was blood adopted by a magical family. This was done as a precautionary measure and to try to increase the number of magical fighters that could be drawn on. In the case of the Windsor line survivors it was also done as a protective measure," Marvolo explained carefully. "After the adoption, if they are young enough and the magical bloodline old enough, the adopted child sometimes developed all the traits of being born magical. Even if they didn't their children usually did. There were some unexpected bonuses to re-introducing magic to your family..."
"I adopted them," Harry said calmly, cutting Marvolo's scholarly explanation off. He bluntly got to the point of the information she wanted as a mother and grandmother rather than as a Queen needing to ensure the survival of her family line and thus the stable transfer of power. "Becoming a part of my family protected them just a little bit extra, especially after the death of my own children and wife. I will not be trying to remake that lost family in this time line as it would be wrong for everyone involved. They were able to re-connect with the land and summon the ancient defenses but none of that was my intent in adopting them. My intent was to give them a family again and I succeeded. They would call me Papa when I could visit or someone brought them to see me. It was the children who came to me with the idea of trying to fix this from the start. They knew my full history and knew why I have difficulty staying dead. They suggested this course as the very young royal family to their regent with the full understanding of the potential cost and the knowledge that we were loosing."
"You have my thanks," the Queen inclined her head. Two parents in perfect understanding in regards to their children as well as two commanders recognizing a hail mary ploy to avert final disaster.
"The thanks are mine. I loved them dearly," Harry answered with a pained smile. He hadn't yet acknowledged to himself that everyone else was essentially dead. If he managed to hold himself together long enough they could use his grief fueled breakdown to power or re-enforce the Hogwarts or Gringotts wards. It was a common practice they had developed out of necessity.
Supper was served to them as they continued to talk, ending the day with lighter memories of childhood antics.
Chapter 8: Grief, Reasons, and Wards
"So how exactly did you become a vassal of the Crown?" Harry asked casually while they were sent to another room alone as the Queen finished her regular paperwork for the day after supper.
The three of them had been lucky that the rest of the royal family was elsewhere that day, allowing the Queen to use normal family and personal time to address their concerns. They hadn't been dismissed yet, nor had their wands been returned so they obediently followed the steward when they were taken to a set of rooms that shared a sitting room and bid good night.
"Must you ask?" Severus snarked defensively.
"Yes, I believe we must," Marvolo smirked at the glowering Potions Master.
"The Prince family have been Vassals to the crown since before they took the name Windsor. When my mother died, before I joined you Marvolo, the charm she had placed to hide me from her parents broke. By our oath to an earlier monarch each of the Prince line, regardless of blood status or adoption status, is formally presented to the current monarch before reaching age twenty whenever possible. My mother didn't want me to swear to the crown's service since she watched her brother die to protect one of the Princes while on an outing," Severus explained tightly. "I was already interested in joining the Death Eaters but when I explained what I knew about them to the security man I was informed that I was to request leave to swear to another and act as a spy for the security department. I did so when I was presented to the Queen and she gave him a tongue lashing for even suggesting it to me as a teenager but granted permission. Afterwards the security man told me what things I was to report about but not why the crown needed a spy in your ranks. It was not until I became a spy for yourself and Dumbledore also forced me into the position of spy that I understood. My reports became better after that and I reported that I now understood why I hadn't been warned but promised to keep spying despite my disillusionment in regards to the Death Eaters. I did request protection for both the Potters and the Longbottoms but it became clear that the fact a prophecy was in play meant they had to stay mostly out of the situation unless it directly affected the royal family. It just as clearly bothered them greatly for all that the impact on the muggle population as a whole was rather minor aside from the terror aspects."
"I am so very glad that you were never a direct threat to the Monarchy. That would have turned out nasty," Harry commented, making a face.
"Agreed," Marvolo said fervently. "I am also thankful that I am no longer insane enough to potentially think threatening the crown might be a good idea. I saw what their war weapons could do during the blitz and while we will need to make use of them against the coming invaders I still hate the thought of facing such things as an enemy."
"At least the prophecy is probably fulfilled in a weird round about way now for this timeline even if parts of what created the situation haven't been destroyed," Harry said thoughtfully. "My accidental immortality aside we might actually get through this somewhat intact. Of course by declaring the blood war over we also still have some of our best fighters to help hold the line."
"Only you and the cup remain," Marvolo confirmed his tone edging on a dangerous drawl. "You and I will have to act as the heads of the light and dark respectively, possibly form a formal alliance or treaty to make that part work."
Harry suddenly couldn't take it anymore, any of it, as the knowledge that he had lost everything choked him, forcing tears into his eyes.
"Harry?" Severus asked in concern as both wizards noticed his sudden silence and damp emerald eyes.
"Wardstones, get me to them, now," Harry choked out as he fought to maintain control of his grief with his stubborn will power combined with his Occlumency skills.
"I'll see if someone knows where they are," Marvolo agreed hurriedly as he shot from the room looking for help.
Severus, following some unnamed instinct took Harry in his arms and simply held him. This act both re-enforced and shook Harry's own fragile emotional control.
Twenty minutes later they were being guided to the best guess location of the castle wards. There was no life left in the old wardstone with barely a wisp of power ghostly clinging to the stone to indicate it had ever been magical. The stone was cracked and worn but the ancient runes carved into the rock were still just barely visible.
Harry weakly reached for the stone only for Severus to take him in his arms again and sit them both firmly on top of the table sized bolder that had become the original wardstone of the castle, laid into the very foundations.
The first sob was quiet and almost not there. The second one came with the first tears falling to the wardstone underneath the pair of wizards. As the tears landed a few of the runes started to glow weakly in a teal light. Then the flood gates opened as Harry wailed his grief to the heavens, lighting up the wardstone like a Christmas tree as his emotions over ran the walls he had been using to keep them contained. His only anchor was the firm arms of the Potions Master holding him grounded in the sudden storm of emotion and magic that rapidly engulfed the room.
Marvolo had to hastily cast a wandless barrier to protect himself and the others from the hurricane that had been unleashed by Harry's inevitable loss of control. He had a sinking suspicion that Harry's impossible luck was going to kick in stronger than usual before this dangerous emotional release was done.
Severus, for his part, firmly held on to the young man in his arms, giving as much comfort in the face of overwhelming grief as possible. He felt Harry's magic recognize him as a friend even as the previous life debt recognized his fulfillment of it, releasing it. The Unbreakable Vow to protect Harry, forced on him by Dumbledore just as the life debt had been, surged forwards to meet Harry's magic before once more settling down, changing in a way Severus knew was somehow going to be trouble. The oath to the crown he carried in his blood and magic also surged, ringing like a bell throughout the entire castle even as it resonated in the very bones of the three wizards in the wardstone room. An answering call came from each of their magics and souls binding them even further as vassals to the crown. The magic used Snape's own oath as a template to embed it in the bones of all three wizards. The magic also latched on to Harry's own previous oath of adoption to the orphaned royal children combined with his service oath as Regent and drove it deep into their bones alongside the newly embedded vassal oath.
Three hours after Harry's control broke the three wizards lay panting on the floor of the ward room while the wardstone its self shone like a star, radiating magical light. As the muggle staff with them watched the stone became whole and brand new in front of their eyes, spreading out in a wave to repair or strengthen every single part of the castle and its furnishings.
The Queen had felt the magic and the wards connect, flooding her with invigorating energy betrayed only by an unnoticed quiet gasp of shock. She could tell that these wards had been especially designed to be held by the Monarch, regardless of the Monarch's natural ability with magic. She also knew exactly what had happened in the ward room. A few orders to nearby staff and servants sent them scrambling for what the wards told the Queen her three newest wizards would need. The magic demanded that she recognize and claim them. Arriving at the ward room she ignored the concern of both her security and normal staff in favor of going to the three exhausted wizards. One look between the four and they knew.
"The next time you need to do something so reckless mine wizards a little warning would be nice," the Queen said archly. All three flushed and murmured apologies. None of them had expected such a strong reaction from the magics.
"Can you feel the wards?" Harry croaked, his voice raw and eye puffy from crying.
"Yes. I apparently hold them," the Queen informed them.
The magic told her much, including the essence of each man in front of her as well as hinting at some of the darker things they had done. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Marvolo was not in his right mind during his actions as Voldemort. Just as she knew that Severus hadn't understood properly until later and was truly repentant of his actions as a Death Eater for all that he had mainly remained in the lab brewing potions. Harry simply felt like a war veteran and parent in her mind, shining in protective light, a solid defender.
"That would explain the extra rune control sets," Marvolo muttered. "If the ward scheme was designed not to respond to the blood and magic of the holder but instead the blood and soul with the crown acting as as a partial designator to confirm who the actual monarch is it wouldn't matter if you had your own magic. All of the magic would be in the wardstone its self even if you would need to mentally preface any direct mental command to the ward stone specifically to get it to change the wards in any way without actually touching it. It would require periodic charging or at least three magicals living in close proximity for at least 3 months out of the year, six months for someone of below average power. For the three of us is would take a couple of hours of spell casting and a day or two of rest to charge it for a year or two even with the leylines being linked in. On the bright side in an absolute desperate situation even a non-magical could charge them partly by donating blood fresh from the vein onto the stone with some of the power being drawn from the leylines and the rest from the willing sacrifice."
"Not if it comes under the same bombardment as last time. We would need to practically drain ourselves and be out for two weeks to get it to hold for two years or nearly 40 years of constant assault against anything else. The wards have been inactive for too long without power or re-enforcement," Harry told them firmly, someone had gotten him a glass of water for his poor abused throat. "I don't know why they went down originally but we need to get the goblins and their ward masters in here to check everything."
"The glowing golden dome that appeared around the palace is going to have to be explained to the public," the Queen added dryly.
"Gold?!" the three wizards yelped in shock.
"Definitely need the ward masters," Severus said fervently. "We can't say anything until they've looked at it. If you must make an announcement I advise simply telling everyone that some very old castle defenses were discovered and activated on accident. Defenses that are getting checked over by experts."
"We can use this as a way to ease the knowledge of our magical people into the open," the Queen mused in agreement. "We will have to present it as a new form of science to help avoid the idea that magic is a miracle fix it for anything and everything without its own limits."
"That would be wise," Marvolo agreed gratefully. He was familiar with that mindset and knew it would cause serious problems if it wasn't nipped in the bud early. It would also, coincidentally, make the reminder of the existence of magic less of an all consuming threat since it had limits.
"Incidentally, should we allow your return to Hogwarts we feel it is imperative that you either get re-sorted, stay with Master Snape or obtain your own rooms," the Queen told Harry severely.
Their dinner discussion earlier that evening had touched on the school and their joint experiences there. It had also addressed Harry's extreme dis-like of being in the spot light, for which the Queen sympathized but ordered him to stop avoiding using his unwanted influence. They were going to need as much in place before the first attack as possible and Harry's Boy-Who-Lived status was a good way to start. Harry had reluctantly agreed to much smirking from Marvolo.
"Yes your majesty," Harry sighed. He had half expected that. His mind might be well over a century old but his body was still that of a Hogwarts student even with the magical declarations of adulthood via the Goblet of Fire and the frankly illegal Wizengamot trial.
"We can continue your defense club and expand it to the rest of the school. I can offer incentives as one of the most dis-liked professors that will get most of the school actually doing their best to learn in your impromptu class. My second Mastery is in Defense so we will not need to ask for help from whoever happens to be the Defense Professor this year if Dumbledore doesn't insist on my taking the position again," Severus suggested.
"Ah, right. Without me he might not get Slughorn for Potions. We need to get rid of the curse on the position any way," Harry winced in memory. Snape's prickliness was one thing, Slughorn's collecting habits were quite another and far more irritating to Harry.
"Enough. It is late and I for one want my bed. We can speak more on the matter of Hogwarts another day. In any case I am going to require the three of you to remain with me for the rest of the summer," Elizabeth rather than her persona as the Queen informed them, slightly cranky from the need for sleep.
They agreed wholeheartedly and everyone saw themselves off to bed.
A change of clothes had been waiting for them when they woke up along with basic toiletries so that they might get ready for the day.
Breakfast with the Queen was something to be remembered as the magic thrummed under their skim in contentment with just an edge of something missing that they couldn't put their fingers on. Then Harry started to laugh into the comfortable silence.
"What?" Severus asked suspiciously.
"We haven't been back in time for 3 days and my insane luck kicked in," Harry laughed, trying to keep the hysterical edge out of his voice and failing.
"Then perhaps it is for the best that the magic not only bound the three of you as our vassals but also as the regents should only the children remain. We could feel it as the oaths were etched into your bones through the ward stone," the Queen commented lightly. Something inside them finally settled, completing the vassal bond as they were quietly acknowledged as belonging to the Queen.
"At least I might not have to break into Gringotts this time... or try to out fly another dragon," Harry mused sheepishly as he managed to stop laughing, settling along with the vassal bond.
"I have to agree with Severus we really do need to get you checked for luck curses," Marvolo said in exasperation.
"We can always use Sir Harry as a situational catalyst if we must," the Queen shrugged, freezing the three men in place.
"Sir Harry?" Severus asked cautiously.
"Indeed, Sir Severus," the Queen agreed in amusement. "Both of you have repeatedly served us well for all that we had not known it and would have continued to do so had the time line not changed. Sir Marvolo is somewhat excused his insanity but I find that assisting Sir Harry from his plight and helping to report the danger our people face upon being healed enough to reason are indicative of who he should have been. I will have to retrieve my sword to officially knight the three of you unless you refuse the honor but I believe that it will be of some use at a later time and that you have indeed earned it. The order of chivalry you three will be joining is awarded and serves at our pleasure. We find your actions worthy."
"Actually, I don't think the magic will let us refuse," Harry offered after a check with his magic. "The vassal oath really wants it... something about being able to protect you better and the authority to act in your name in emergencies? Though the act in your name part seems to be coming from the Regent Oath more than the Vassal Oath..."
"My time insane should really disqualify me but I can feel that my magic won't let me refuse," Marvolo agreed with a sigh.
"Hey, didn't that offer of parley go out in the Prophet this morning?" Harry asked with a frown.
"Yes," Marvolo agreed with a groan. "I'd forgotten about that with everything else that happened yesterday."
"Explain," the Queen ordered, so they did. "I see. Yes, you will attend to the parley and explain to our magical subjects what happened as well as the fact that Sir Harry arranged for you to be healed. After which I will officially knight the three of you and we will get on with preparing to defend our people. Any magical Lordships that the three of you can claim you must do so. We can discuss the legality of the existence of those Lordships without crown approval at another time. I will also be wanting a severe word with a number of people but I can have you bring them to me later. Ensure that the goblins are contacted to check the wards and leave instructions for both myself and our staff so that we know how to interact with the basics of the ward safely."
"Yes, ma'am," the three chorused before returning to their breakfast.
"Severus could probably stay. We only really need Harry and I at the parley," Marvolo offered as they were finishing up.
"Except then both sides would be suspicious and I already have enough trouble with Bellatrix calling for my death as a traitor and attacking me out of view of everyone else," Severus snorted in disgust. "I agree with Narcissa that something is wrong with her sister but for the life of me I can not figure out what. Either she is completely insane, some sort of magic is affecting her, or she managed to hide psychopathic tendencies perfectly while we were all in school. Yet if it is magic or a potion or something artificial we have yet to discover what it may be. Of course we were checking you as well but only Dumbledore and Potter figured that one out."
"You told me that he's your left hand and Dumbledore certainly uses him the same way," Harry sighed. "Until this... mess is at least partly sorted he should probably stay floating between both sides and I think the Queen saw that which is why she said all of us."
"Indeed," the Queen agreed with a smirk. "Get your security clearance and set your security questions before you leave to attend to our magical people. Sir Harry you will receive and carry with you a writ revoking the wizarding charter after the charter has been examined for the release clauses to be used if you discover that the charter has been violated. The conditions will be listed in the writ for you so that you may know when it is appropriate to invoke if the charter hasn't already been violated before now."
"That will help a lot even if I don't really want to be the one to do that," Harry agreed with a grimace. "Still it needs to be done and if we start establishing chain of command and other authorities now it will be easier to keep people from panicking and winding up dead."
"We will need a phone number or some other way to contact you quickly. I have no idea if the bond will let us communicate over a distance even though there is historical proof of such bond aspects. Taking electronics into high magic areas unless hardened against EMP is a good way to get them instantly fried. As a result just buying a cell phone from the corner store is out and we would need to convert it to be able to run on magic in any case," Marvolo pointed out thoughtfully.
"Couldn't we just use two-way mirrors? That's how my father and his friends used to talk in detention at Hogwarts," Harry pointed out.
"We would either need to enchant the mirrors before we left or arrange for the already enchanted mirrors to be delivered," Severus reminded Harry.
"House elf?" Harry smirked. "We can either use a house elf as a messenger with letters or to simply deliver the mirror."
"Use both," the Queen ordered. "The mirror will likely be eminently necessary later and can be used for emergencies while the letters can provide less urgent information so that we need not interrupt everything else to attend to it immediately."
"That works," Harry agreed.
It took three hours to set themselves up with security and answer the unending questions for their files. Marvolo had to outline the fact that he had been essentially insane since sixteen, why he had been insane, and how Harry had fixed it. Harry had to explain his accidental immortality and his unfortunate position in regards to both the Dursley as well as Dumbledore treating him as a puppet weapon. Severus had the least amount of trouble and almost nothing to set up due to his previous spy status for the security department.
Their return to Malfoy Manor landed them in the middle of a joint raid by the Ministry and the Order of the Phoenix. The three returning wizards exchanged a resigned look before wading in.
"Sonorus... WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU LOT THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" Harry roared, freezing everyone in place on the impromptu battle field.
"You're back!" Lucius said in open relief.
"You knew we were coming back," Severus said neutrally. "When the Queen issues a summons you answer."
"Preposterous!" Fudge spluttered.
"Middy?" Marvolo called. Middy popped happily to his side from across the entry hall.
"What does Master Dark Lordy bes needing Middy for?" she asked happily.
"I need you to either go buy four linked enchanted mirrors or fetch me four small ones to enchant myself. They all need to be easily portable and need only a voice command to work rather than any magic or a magical signature. If you find any that can be blood bound to the user and their kin instead that will be more than acceptable. Harry? If you are going to chew them out further give us enough warning to mute our hearing please?" Marvolo requested politely.
Middy happily nodded and popped away to fetch the requested mirrors from Diagon Alley.
A look from Harry warned the pair of the impending chewing out as they muffled their ears to avoid hearing loss.
"Harry my boy! I am so glad..." Dumbledore began only to be cut off.
"I AM NOT YOUR BOY! I BET YOU LOT BROKE IN HERE TO DRAG ME BACK TO THOSE ABUSIVE PIECES OF SHIT YOU'VE MADE ME LIVE WITH SINCE MY PARENTS DIED! I AM NOT YOUR PUPPET OR WEAPON ANYMORE DUMBLEDORE! I AM AN ADULT AND CAN MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS! YOU WILL NOT KEEP ME PRISONER FOR ANOTHER HOUR! I WILL KILL TO KEEP FROM GOING BACK!" Harry roared seethingly
Severus looked at Harry in shock for his choice to reveal so much along with everyone else. Marvolo just canceled the sonorus and the muffling on their ears with a sigh and set a gentle hand on Harry's shoulder, reminding him he had other people to support him now.
"Harry we were just trying to protect..." Dumbledore started again only to be cut off by a harsh pained laugh from Harry.
"Yeah, protection. So you think getting beaten and starved while being forced to work like a slave without magic and no medical care is great protection," Harry growled out sarcastically. "Fuck it, I don't have time to deal with your controlling shit. Amelia? What's your answer about a cease fire? Yours not Fudge and Dumbles because its clear they would rather see the Wizarding World wiped out before they lost power. I no longer recognize them as having the authority to do a damned thing."
"I say yes, Heir Potter," Madam Bones said honestly. "Our earlier meeting was most informative and I have already started preparations among the Law Enforcement Divisions."
"That wont be enough but its a start," Marvolo agreed. "As previously discussed I will relinquish the title of Lord Voldemort in favor of making this work and resuming a new identity with which I will claim my inheritance. My inheritance which was denied me by Dumbledore and his patsy Ministry as well as refraining from pushing for further change until the incoming crisis is dealt with. We will need every able wand on the field when the invaders arrive."
"Invaders?!" Dumbledore choked out.
"Yes!" Harry snarled. "Invaders! The last time we faced this Merlin was alive. I did not come back in time with Snape and Voldemort to stop it only for you to fucking screw us over! My body might be turning 16 but my mind is older than you! Either help or get out of the way. I will feel nothing if we have to kill you to get this done in time to save as many lives as possible."
"Harry?" Fred Weasley asked warily from next to his twin.
"Its good to see you alive Fred. You didn't survive the last time and George named his first born for you," Harry said much more softly as he looked at the twins with open fondness.
"We are on a time limit," Severus reminded him. Admittedly the time limit had more to do with the invaders than most anything else but their audience didn't have to know that.
"Right," Harry sighed. "Remind me what the tentative agreement was?"
"A cease fire, a suspension of any legal proceedings in regards to our internal conflict meant to harm or hinder either light or dark faction until the coming conflict is over at which point the entire disagreement will be re-examined. The concessions from the Dark include a publishing of the Dark's agenda, the Dark Lord's personal history, relinquishment of the name Lord Voldemort and the end of open hostilities. The parts which will not be relinquished are the retrieval of abused magicals from their abusive environments and self defense when assaulted. The Light's concessions as offered by Harry Potter are himself as an equal leader, the already applied healing of the Dark Lord's mind, and the majority healing of the Dark Lord's injured soul, his specific support in providing the truth to the public for them to decide. Joint concessions include working together peacefully to halt the incoming invasion and maintain the existence of the Wizarding World regardless of necessary changes that may occur during the crisis. The Ministry, in the form of myself, agreed to aid using available resources and suspend any any outstanding warrants in regards to Death Eater activities pending the results of the coming crisis. This warrant suspension is partially dependent on the assumption of responsibility of those who have assaulted victims up to and including the acknowledgement and acceptance of any children who may have resulted from past raids. Reparations may not include permanent harm to the offender prior to the completion of the oncoming crisis but must be suspended until afterwards. This is to prevent the loss of skilled fighters. They may however request that the guilty party be placed on the front lines presuming they can provide proof to ensure the wrong person is not punished," Amelia recited grimly.
"All of which was pending the actual negotiations," Harry snarked to their shocked audience. "Some things were worked out prior to asking Madam Bones to contribute. One of which was my continued residence with the Dark Lord and the tentative agreement not to personally fight each other anymore. Too many people get caught in the crossfire of our duels."
"Can we join you?" the twins chorused after looking at each other questioningly.
"Sure," Harry snorted in amusement. "I'll tell you both the rest later so you know what you're getting into. If you don't decide to stay with me you get a choice between an obliviate, a nasty secrecy charm that hasn't been invented yet, or a magical oath. Ron is to immature and Hermione is too rule bound for this even with the DA last year. Of course that will also mean we need to do something about that store of yours."
"Will you give us the pranks that we haven't made yet?" George asked slyly.
"I'll help you menaces," Severus promised with a roll of his eyes. The twins eyes went wide in glee and Harry added to it by smirking and nodding his own agreement.
"Yes!" the twins cried, jumping in excitement and hurrying over to their adoptive little brother.
"Boys!" Molly screeched in offended alarm.
"Sorry mum, we're going with Harrykins, our secret partner!" George laughed at her shock.
"Besides mum, we're over age," Fred reminded her evilly. "And getting a Potions Master of Snape's caliber to help us make pranks is something we just can't pass up!"
"Prove to me that you have the skill and the determination to complete any level of potion and I'll take the pair of you as apprentices," Severus shot back. "If Potter hasn't got the skill to be Defense Master already from experience alone I'll be doing the same for him."
"Gee, you're all heart Snape," Harry snarked playfully.
"There isn't any need Severus but I'm certain he appreciates the offer," Marvolo smirked. "I advise you to school them in both your Masters if only because the two of them will likely demand to be Harry's personal guards at some point."
"Something they will need healing skills for on top of the Defense and Potions skills," Severus grumbled irritably.
"Mirrors for Dark Lordy sir!" Middy announced as she popped back in right next to the trio.
"Thank you Middy. If you will wait a moment one of them will have to be delivered to the Queen post haste after I check it," Marvolo said kindly. Middy squeaked happily and waited patiently for Marvolo to check them.
"Any good?" Harry asked curiously as the twins finally made their way over to the three.
"Just let me set them and... ah, their a blood key which will let us use any word as long as we think about contacting the person keyed to their mirror. Middy will have to tell her to place a drop of blood on the glass but after ten seconds it can be cleaned away and simply used," Marvolo told them.
A chain was quickly conjured and attached to each so that the mirrors could hang around their necks with an unbreakable charm added to the mirrors to avoid casual damage. A conjured note wrapped around the Queen's explained what to do before being sent off with Middy even as the others were handed out. Everyone watched as the trio keyed their mirrors to their blood before quickly testing them.
"Sir Harry?" came the Queen's voice from Harry's mirror a moment after they were done.
"Yup!" Harry greeted cheerily. "Need anything your majesty?"
"No, thank you. This is quite similar to a phone or a walkie talkie but in some ways a touch more limited," her voice commented from Harry's mirror. "Carry on with your task."
"Yes, Ma'am!" Harry answered smartly before they ended the mirror call.
Harry's glare pierced the still shocked combatants. His voice low in anger Harry addressed the magicals before him. "If I have to I will call in one of the life debts that all of Wizarding Britain owes me for each time I stopped Marvolo while he was still insane. You will stop trying to kill each other. You will play nice and civil. You will help defend our land, our homes, our families against the coming threat regardless of blood or magical ability. You want to call me evil and a Dark Lord? Fucking fine. I'm trying my damnedest to save your arses, something you all forced on me anyway. I don't care if you hate each other to your dying breath you will work together without allowing your feelings to get in the way until this fucked up mess is sorted and our homes are safe again. Have I made myself clear?!"
"You're insane!" Fudge protested.
"Marvolo? Do you want a turn? Because right now I'm tempted to feed him to the Acromantula in the Forbidden Forest or the Dementors," Harry offered, rubbing his head as he tried to stave off the building migraine.
"If I take a turn then I'll start tossing Unforgivables. There is a reason Lucius is my Ministry go-between, it keeps me from slaughtering them outright while trying to fix the mess our society is in," Marvolo explained with his own glare aimed at the idiots in front of them.
"Alright. We have to sort this and start on war prep. Fortify every magical building we can, the other major locations we can get clearance for on the muggle side, start working openly with their military and law enforcement, stockpile what food and materials we can with magical preservation and get everyone trained. I mean we'll be fighting things that Slytherin left that Basilisk to help kill!" Harry complained.
"Yet you killed her," Marvolo snarked.
"I was 12," Harry snarked back. "And your Diary was not only trying to close the school but an arrogant arsehole. I won't survive living with the Dursleys more than the summer now that I've started Hogwarts. Hell, if they could get away with killing me outright they would!"
"And you stopped me from killing them," Marvolo practically pouted.
"Look Fudge, you can either sign the damned treaty we've worked out or you can leave office in complete disgrace as the idiot who buried his head in the sand when I tried to warn you. Your choice," Harry told the current Minister flatly, ignoring the pouting Dark Lord next to him.
"I want Umbridge," Marvolo said softly.
"No, the students and the Werewolves have first shot at the bitch. She drew blood on students every single fucking detention," Harry said firmly. "You can petition the Queen for her if you want but right now getting things organized for an all out war is priority."
"She drew first blood on you. That gives me the right to her," Marvolo argued.
"We have too much to do and don't have time for it anymore than we have time to argue with Dumbledore and Fudge!" Harry tossed right back. "Its part of why we are pulling this play nice and work together demand now instead of negotiating properly. I'm the only one the DA really trusts to teach them after so many failed Defense teachers which is one of the only reasons I'm even thinking of going back to Hogwarts. They need the combat training and defense spells! What happens if we lose the children?! We can't afford to leave them basically unarmed!"
"Point made. Vengeance and retaliation can wait but if Umbridge causes too many problems I will end her. The Order is yours as the rightful Heir to the Light but Dumbledore must step down as part of the old guard or this won't work. I will take any of the children that don't want to train with you, or Severus will," Marvolo offered.
"Won't work. The other teachers will just have to step in with maybe an Auror to help supplement their combat skills and teach part of the more advanced stuff. At least with Flitwick being a dueling champion they will get some of the needed training for them to survive," Harry countered. "The general populace will need books and pamphlets and free training as well as ideas on turning simple spells deadly as needed. Basically, simple training ideas anyone can do to increase their accuracy and casting speed and unusual uses for spells of all kinds. Then we need to start integrating with the muggle side so we have enough people working defense to keep people alive."
"We start with the Military, Law Enforcement and the Muggleborn families," Marvolo insisted. "They get used to it and see what can be done by our people before we start opening it up to the rest of the public even if we are introducing wards early via the palace."
"Agreed!" Harry said firmly.
"Are you two done?" Severus drawled in amusement.
"For now," Harry and Marvolo agreed simultaneously.
"Scary," Fred murmured and George nodded his agreement.
"Do you have it in writing yet?" Amelia asked cautiously, ignoring Fudge's spluttering and calls for their arrest on treason charges.
Lucius graciously summoned a piece of good parchment and magically laid out the agreed upon terms as previously stated before casting the binding spells to make it official. Harry and Voldemort quickly signed before turning to the Ministry contingent and Dumbledore.
"I refuse to sign that," Dumbledore insisted stubbornly.
"I'll be sure to inform Queen Elizabeth of your choice Headmaster," Severus said nastily.
"Sign it," Minerva ordered her long time colleague.
Dumbledore took one look at her thunderous expression and wisely signed it. He knew that his deputy would sign it in his place if he refused and arrange for some of his more questionable decisions to make it into the paper.
"Minnie, would you graciously sign as well?" Marvolo requested.
"I will be having words with you at a later time Tom Marvolo Riddle!" Minerva informed him shortly before signing the treaty.
"Of course my dear," Marvolo smirked. "You need have no fear for your three lions who are under my care. I am once more perfectly sane."
"We will see," Minerva said, giving him the stink eye before stepping back for Amelia to sign against Fudge's protests. Lucius signed as a witnessing Wizengamot member, himself and Madam Bones replacing Fudge's signature, making it binding. The treaty lit up and magically filed its self at both Gringotts and the Ministry before a special magical proclamation of the civil war being suspended went out to every magical household in the UK.
"They were actually reasonable about this," Harry snorted.
"That may have more to do with watching you two argue and not try to kill each other than anything else," Severus smirked.
"Fine," Harry conceded. "What's next?"
"Gringotts, we need to deal with our personal paperwork, see about the ward masters checking the palace wards, and investigate an alliance with the goblins," Marvolo answered as the three promptly headed for the floo.
I am now opening this one up for suggestions since the first Royal Meeting is over! What do you all want to see in this story?!
Their floo trip to the Leaky Cauldron was mostly uneventful, largely due to the fact that Professor Snape was a well known Hogwarts teacher, if a prickly one, and was thus probably escorting Harry. This prevented awkward questions and frantic calls for Harry's supposedly hidden security along with Dumbledore.
"You missed your potions at the palace so we will pick up what we can and I will brew the rest later. I will carry them for you from now on and you will come to me for any potions you need even if I must brew them from scratch," Severus instructed softly as they moved into the Alley.
"Yes Severus," Harry agreed in amusement. He didn't want anyone else to brew for him any way. Snape's potions might taste like shit but they were still from the hands of a master and one of the better ones at that. The stuff from the shops tended to be watered down in any case.
"New clothes, bottomless bags to carry things in that can't be shrunk as we shop," Marvolo started muttering his list of what they needed.
"We need a portable potions lab for Severus, preferably in a trunk that he can carry anywhere," Harry tossed in. "Wand holsters and back up wands, protective jewelry, books to reference and modify..."
"Now wait a minute," Severus protested, interrupting them. It wasn't that he didn't like the idea but more that he probably couldn't afford it and hated being a charity case with a passion.
"We have to see to the bank first and all of us will be getting things," Harry told the dour man firmly. "Do you think her Majesty will be pleased if we have the option of proper clothes but don't use it? This isn't something frivolous and once everyone figures out about the oaths we will be representatives of her household. We deal with the clothes now and we won't have to worry about potentially disgracing her or being harassed over it later."
"Fine," Severus conceded grumpily. He hadn't thought of that. Things were moving a bit too quickly but he would have to adjust because it was going to get worse long before it would get better.
"Lets make sure to get her a dragon hide vest for under her clothes. If nothing else it will act as limited armor and can go under the more mundane body armor she likely has to wear. Lined with something soft and set up with heating and cooling charms she can stay more comfortable while having the additional protection," Marvolo suggested thoughtfully.
"We can give it as a gift but I'm not sure if the auto fit charms will work on dragon hide. We'll have to see what's available when we get our own clothes," Harry pointed out just as they walked into the bank.
They waited in line politely until they reached the teller. A look from Harry had the other two wizards allowing him to take the lead.
"Greeting Warrior. My business may require a war council," Harry told the goblin bluntly. The goblins all stopped and stared at the trio of wizards in shock.
"If you will come this way?" the goblin instructed suspiciously as he led them away into a conference room. "A senior manager will be with you soon."
They were left alone before any of them could say another word.
"I hope I can talk them into summoning the bank manager or better yet the clan head," Harry murmured in concern.
"Are we going to address our own finances first or the coming war?" Marvolo asked bluntly.
"I want to talk to them about the war first but both need to be addressed," Harry grimaced. "By talking about our finances first it may be seen as being deceitful ans an attempt at theft. They hate thieves."
"I know," Marvolo grimaced in agreement. They sat there discussing what they were going to do next.
While the trio waited for a more senior goblin to help them an urgent message from Dumbledore was winging its way to the ICW and the palace. The palace wizards, who had almost all happened to be present as magical security, or had heard what had happened from their fellow crown wizards, met the subversive message with expressions of disgust. The Queen was given a mundane copy along with a list of enchantments that had been discovered on the message that had attempted to force them into convincing her Harry should be handed over to Dumbledore post haste. The Queen was furious and ordered an investigation into his meddling, starting with Harry's complete life. She would not be ordered about much less ordered into handing over one of her vassals about to be knighted for services to the crown.
"Sir Harry," the Queen commanded of the mirror. Harry picked up immediately, surprise shining in his face as he peered from the looking glass in her hands.
"Your majesty?" Harry asked hesitantly.
"Why exactly is Dumbledore sending us enchanted demands for your person?" the Queen asked archly. Harry blushed in embarrassment. She heard Severus and Marvolo both laugh at Harry's embarrassment and grumble at the the man's audacity in the background.
"Ah, that might have something to do with what we pulled to get the treaty between Light and Dark factions signed and ratified since they had attacked our hosts in an attempt to at least kidnap me, if not all of us, believing that the parley attempt was only a ploy. We walked in on a battle in Lucius Malfoy's entrance hall and I kind of... lost my temper," Harry admitted sheepishly. "Dumbledore was personally there and we convinced him to sign in his capacity as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Headmaster, and ICW representative. I don't think he realizes yet that we took advantage of his ego and habit to sign with all of his positions. Incidentally, we had planned to send you a copy of the treaty later with Middy or a different house elf we might get specifically for this task as a security precaution. Dumbledore probably thinks he is still in control of the situation and can dictate terms as he pleases. He's had too much power in the wizarding world and too much control over me specifically for too long. I could try to list things for you but Marvolo would be better for most of it that isn't specific to me since even insane he was still fighting the man."
"We must discuss this further at a later time," the Queen frowned. She had heard the curse of twinkly-eyed bastard in the background and didn't like what she was hearing about this man. "What are you doing now?"
"Dealing with the goblins and the bank," Harry told her honestly. "More specifically we are seeing about getting the ward masters to check the palace wards and checking our personal finances both for resources and potential tampering as well as any Lordship possibilities. Of course, we will be presenting the invasion risk first to avoid looking like we're trying to trick them when we ask for help or an alliance. Right now we will only be acting on your behalf for the ward masters... unless you want us doing so for anything else?"
"Yes, see about arranging a meeting if you can. I want to discuss a few things with them both as myself and as the Royal Monarch. A clarification of the situation if you will," Elizabeth told him. This situation kept revealing more and more information that was deeply concerning.
"Yes ma'am," Harry agreed cheerfully. "Is there anything else?"
"Keep yourselves safe and Sir Harry? We expect the three of you for supper until we say otherwise," the Queen ordered severely. "You have permission to seek an alliance in our name if the occasion arises."
"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" Harry said cheekily before she closed the connection.
"You know I probably should have expected that she might want to keep an eye on us after warning her," Harry said thoughtfully as he dropped his mirror to hang under his shirt.
"Safe lodging isn't going to a problem for the foreseeable future in any case," Severus pointed out. "I don't know about the pair of you but warding isn't exactly my specialty and I for one am grateful that I wont have to try and keep anyone from kidnapping me out of bed at O'Dark thirty in the morning on top of all of this."
"Good point," Harry winced. He hadn't thought of that, being too focused on starting the defense against the invasion as fast as possible. Not the best thing considering he had just openly pissed off both Dumbledore and Fudge with Dumbledore being known to to use underhanded tactics that kept his own hands clean. Admittedly, he probably tended to either lie to his patsy or just use Severus but it wouldn't be hard to talk someone into kidnapping Harry away from the evil Darksiders for the greater good.
"A safe place to sleep is welcome," Marvolo agreed with hidden relief. "We can't afford to let them harass us out of what little proper rest we will manage in this mad scramble."
"I just realized something," Harry said. His tone of voice sharply drawing their attention, allowing them to notice his sudden pallor. "I don't think we have more than five years before the main assault. The first wave is cute and cuddly or at least it was. We are changing so much already that we might get a straight assault rather than their sneaky government decapitation attempt this time. The palace wards going up so fast with so much power isn't enough to get them to hold off the actual invasion but it probably is enough to warn them that we've got at least one magical power house..."
"There's nothing for it," Marvolo grimaced in agreement. "Aside from Dumbledore the two of us may be the only real magical power houses in the British Wizarding World. We may possibly be the only ones across most if not all magical communities since it was sensing our fighting amplified by the spilled magical blood that delayed them last time. We likely look weak but for one or two possibly strong magical opponents."
"The perfect target," Severus growled distastefully. He hated appearing weak even if only because those who appeared weak were often attacked by those who thought themselves strong or feared their own weakness. It was one of the reasons why he was so protective of his Slytherins. Too many of them were wounded. It was his job to protect them so they could become strong and help them learn how to survive.
"We can't wait for the warning of the first wave," Harry hissed in a mix of worry, fury, and concern.
"We weren't waiting anyway," Marvolo pointed out. "This just means we need to arrange an alliance with the goblins and as many magical beings we can convince to stand with us."
"Is that why you wizards have come today? Come with a proper recognition of one of our Warriors?" came the gravelly voice of a goblin from the doorway.
The trio turned to discover a contingent of goblins observing them.
"We have to work on our situational awareness if we're this bad," Harry sighed in resignation.
"Not if they used goblin magic, you imp," Severus snorted. He had recognized the fall of a concealment spell as the goblin had spoken. He also wasn't surprised that the other two hadn't recognized the goblin magic, after all Severus had far more experience than his companions with goblin magic due to his regular brewing for Gringotts.
"We will still need to regain our former combat skills. Back to the matter at hand," Marvolo sighed. He took a moment for his ruby red eyes to take in the arrangement and clothing of the goblins before offering them a warrior's salute, fist over heart with a shallow bow. "We come with business both for warriors and for those who guard the wealth of the Wizarding World. We hope to speak to you first of the coming invaders and then of more personal business. Will you listen?"
"If this about your foolish blood war we decline. Wars between humans are of no interest to goblins," the lead goblin said sternly.
"Then it is perhaps a good thing that the blood war, as you call it, has been ended or at least suspended until this next crisis is dealt with. If the three of us can help it we have no plans for it to continue after these lands have been defended against the invaders. To clarify, Marvolo, formerly the Dark Lord Voldemort, Master Severus Snape, and myself are time travelers. We forced a resolution to the blood war complete with a treaty not more than 12 hours ago. I lived through the invasion and Marvolo has copies of my memories. Severus has his memories until his death in two years time... from the other time line. We've already forced changes in an attempt to be less vulnerable when the first assault comes," Harry clarified. "I would petition to be heard in regards to an alliance against this incoming foe. What would we need to do to achieve this?"
"Don't forget we need to arrange a formal meeting between the goblin nation and the muggle Queen," Severus reminded them. Their status as her vassals might change the situation in regards to any alliance. At least she had given them permission to sign off on any alliance as the Queen's representatives if they could manage it on her behalf.
"It would perhaps be best to set your personal affairs in order first," the goblin leader smirked evilly.
"That works too. I just didn't want you thinking we were trying to steal something or spring the coming war thing on you and be accused of trickery or cowardice," Harry shrugged. He understood the implied threat of not surviving an attempt at qualifying for an alliance but he was waiting to see what they had to actually deal with before worrying on the grounds of having too much else to do. "Once we've got our personal stuff sorted we'll know what we can commission from your crafters if you say no to helping. You guys didn't help in the other timeline until the invaders managed to get into your tunnels and kill a bunch of your young. Around twenty, I think, attending a special lesson with the craft masters from more than thirty clans. Most of the Masters fell protecting the children before the rest killed the burrowers that got past the tunnel defenses."
"Good, we will wait for your account managers and bring your accounts up to goblin standard before addressing the matter of an alliance," the goblin leader smirked. They sat together at the conference table waiting for the account managers to arrive.
Time to start offering up what you want to see happening with the bank and their accounts! This includes Lordships, inheritances, blood tests, and anything left by family/ancestors for our boys!
Chapter 11: Ancient Ground Work
The account managers arrived not long after and each did a double take at the presence of the already present goblins. The very wary and respectful way they eyed the already seated goblins gave the three wizards pause. The dark trio had already known something was unusual but they had thought it was more to do with their own request but the reactions of the account managers made them suspicious of that supposition. Either way they would have to wait and see what would happen, they had business to deal with after all.
"Before we start I feel that it is important to inform you the three of us are technically time travelers even if only via our memories," Harry started, earning sudden wide-eyed looks mostly of shock but some of sudden comprehension from the goblins. "As such we will be discussing things from both this time line and the previous one. I also wish to avoid dishonoring the goblin nation and myself by not reporting something that occurred in the other time line. Will you listen to the entire tale and allow me to explain regardless of what is said before acting or trying to kill me?"
"Is this offense worthy of death?" the original lead goblin asked suspiciously.
"Lets just say you all weren't very happy with me over it but we did come to an agreement of compensation on my part for the offense even if the goblins I dealt with after that were barely willing to work with me," Harry said wryly.
"~What do you think you are doing?~" Marvolo hissed angrily in parseltongue.
"~Avoiding getting called a traitorous thief if I get locked into a flashback or my memories come out later. You know how my luck tends to run. I'm just trying to head a potential disaster off,~" Harry hissed back stubbornly.
"What did you do?" Severus demanded suspiciously.
"Er, did you hear about the Gringotts thing?" Harry asked Severus weakly. The Potions Master glared a warning and Harry quickly elaborated. "In the other time line we had to find a way to retrieve Hufflepuff's Cup from Bellatrix's vault and destroy it. So we sort of broke into Gringotts with the help of a goblin in trade for Gryffindor's sword. Because he went back on his word about helping, or at least we didn't understand his help didn't include getting us back out again safely, we had to steal not only the Cup but one of their guard dragons to escape?"
"Reckless little idiot!" Severus snarled in open frustration and anger with just a touch of fear mixed in over the risks Harry and his friends had taken.
"While we are here we need the Cup anyway so that I can retrieve that piece of my soul from it, as agreed," Marvolo sighed, rolling his eyes at the way Harry had told Severus. Honestly, could the mutual pig-tail pulling be more obvious?
"You stole from us and we let you live?" the lead goblin asked in a flat voice.
"We didn't have much of a choice at the time and we did uphold our end of the agreement. The other time line goblins said something about us being little more than children, the prophecy involved, and recognizing that we stopped a probable threat to the goblin nations before it cost you more than the current goblin floor staff and some security people at the time," Harry admitted sheepishly. "I tried to submit myself to goblin justice once I realized what I had done in regards to your people but by that point I was too famous to risk doing much to me without starting another war. Instead we privately agreed that half my assets belonged to the goblin nations as recompense for a needful act which impugned the honor of your people. I also attempted to return Gryffindors sword to goblin hands again but upon examination we discovered certain enchantments which return it to the Gryffindor most in need of it in times of war or desperation."
"In my defense I was very insane," Marvolo said lightly. "And the three of you had just stolen a piece of my soul."
"Which is part of why I'm insisting you mostly fix it! You were really hard to kill," Harry scowled at his former nemesis. "You're sane now and we need you to stay that way. I'm perfectly willing to explain how we did it and why so they can fix the hole in their security! The only reason I'm not offering compensation is because we didn't do it in this time line and we are going to need every last knut to fight the invaders!"
"Start from the beginning and leave nothing out," the lead goblin ordered harshly as all of the goblins watched them in stony anger.
So Harry took the next three hours to recite his life's story including a brief overview of the invasion and their trip back in time. He also included the last several days so that the goblins knew where they stood.
"The next time you recklessly risk your life needlessly I will find a way to punish you that will stick," Severus declared with deadly calm.
"Your punishments were the only ones that ever properly had him understanding and learning in any case," Marvolo shrugged with clear lack of concern over the threat. Harry sent him an exasperated look but didn't argue or admit that it was partly because he wanted Severus' good attention like Draco had been given but something more intimate and trusting.
"What parts have remained the same in this time line?" the goblin leader asked with scary intensity.
"We haven't been back in time for even a week," Harry explained wryly. "Fifth year with that evil bitch Umbridge just ended and Sirius died around two weeks ago. So practically everything until 3 am on June 31st. Our return is the pivot point, splitting the time lines."
The goblins broke into gobbledygook as the three wizards watched, waiting
"Let us see what else we can find in your accounts. This sounds like a more complicated situation than simple time travel to avert disaster. Our records will be checked in regards to the prophecy to confirm your words as will other things you have mentioned that we can correlate. In the mean time we will see to your more normal business," the goblin leader declared, bringing everyone back to the original task at hand.
"Mr. Potter, I am Ironfang, your account manager. We have been attempting to contact you for a number of years," Ironfang informed Harry solemnly.
"That's odd. I was never informed nor did I ever received any letters from Gringotts in either time line," Harry frowned. He didn't see the similar frowns of concern from everyone else. "Of course not getting anything after breaking into the bank might have been part of my punishment, which is fair, and would have let them keep an eye on me any time I needed something from anything or anyone goblin or bank related. What is the fastest and most accurate way to determine tampering with an active account? I don't care what kind of magic is needed to do it."
"A blood test combined with a goblin ritual that calls on magic to judge the situation before we are given a list of possible responses depending on our intention moving forwards," Ironfang said slowly. Most wizards were just outraged, blaming the bank and the goblins for even a hint of things not being right with their accounts. This young wizard warrior was asking for solutions, fast, effective ones.
"Perhaps we should all do this? Not even bother to look at what the account is now?" Marvolo mused thoughtfully. "Possibly even request a suggestion from the magic on what to do with the over all situation and the pending invasion?"
"Not many people are willing to be stripped that bare, in front of anyone or anything," Harry reminded him with a shiver of dread. In regards to only his account? That was one thing, largely because he knew basically nothing about said account, but for everything else? That was quite another matter.
"Let us deal with the blood test first before borrowing trouble," Severus snarked in annoyance and barely hidden curiosity.
A call for the supplies quickly had three tests set up, one each for the three wizards.
"Once you take the test we will need to perform the ritual immediately. The blood test its self will act as a basis for which the magic can focus on. You will be able to see the blood test afterwards presuming the magic doesn't find it offensive during its investigation and destroy it. Should that happen we will need to perform a second one after fixing whatever has offended the investigative magic," Ironfang explained politely.
The wizards nodded their understanding and proceeded to take the test, donating their blood to the special mixture and watching it be applied to the pre-treated parchment. A brief white glow coming from each of the parchments indicated the completion of the blood test. Almost immediately the assembled account managers started chanting in gobbledygook. The target parchments started glowing a dark red that burned at the retinas of everyone present. It stayed dark red through three rounds of chants before suddenly shifting to a virulent purple that roiled angrily. It burst forth only to strike each wizard in the chest, pinning them in their chairs. The magic rifled through their minds, pausing at various memories until it finally retreated from them to settle back on the tests. Once the magic faded there were char marks on the original tests with a list of some sort having formed to one side.
"That was unpleasant," Severus hissed, clearly upset at what they had just experienced.
"Shite! That hurt!" Harry hissed, rubbing at his chest. Marvolo grumbled his own agreement but refrained from cursing.
"That... was an unusually strong reaction," Ironfang commented softly.
"Please tell me it was at least in the range of possible for most other people?" Harry pleaded, biting back whimpers caused by the waves of pain. Pain that was quickly subsiding, much to Harry's unvoiced relief.
"It is possible but not likely," one of the other account managers informed them warily.
"That reminds me we need to get you checked for luck curses," Severus growled out. Harry just made a face before grumpily nodding his reluctant agreement. Marvolo just smirked at Harry's put out expression.
"We've delayed long enough. Why don't we look at our tests?" Marvolo suggested, still smirking.
As one the three leaned forwards to look at their respective tests and the suggestions put forwards by the magic.
Severus immediately went white as his eyes fell on his heritage. How in hell was he the child of Merlin Emrys and Morgan Le Fay?! There was also a clear blood adoption by his mother Eileen Prince. The fact that he was not, in fact, Tobias' child sent relief surging through his veins. The rest of his family tree even showed that Merlin was the bastard child of Uthor Pendragon, and thus half brother to Arthur Pendragon.
"I think it is perhaps a good thing that I took that Vassal Oath," Severus said sickly. Drawing the attention of everyone else to his blood test. Harry looked at the area Severus was examining on his test, stared for a moment and then burst out laughing.
"You have the same impossible luck as I do!" Harry laughed. "Look at mine."
"How in hell did you become the child of Merlin and Morgan Le Fay?! Harry is descended from the Peverells, and Gryffindor through James Potter but Hufflepuff and the Dukedom of Clarence through his mother. The current known Hufflepuff heir is actually from a cadet branch if the marking on Harry's test is any indication. I seem to be descended from Slytherin, the Peverells, the Gaunts, and Ravenclaw through my mother but the Dukedom of Sussex on my father's side. I know for a fact that both of our Dukedoms are thought to be extinct since the mid-1300's for Clarence and the mid-1800's for Sussex," Marvolo pointed out, completely baffled as Harry forced his mirth back under control. "To top it off I would be from the main Peverell branch and Harry would be from the cadet branch making him my heir until I have children."
"Well, I guess that explains how I survived last time around aside from the Hallows," Harry snickered. "The Parseltongue must come from the Peverell line as well as the Slytherin one."
"It also explains why Dumbledore wants to control or kill the two of you so badly. He can't have known about me otherwise I would be in the same position, not that he didn't manage something similar in any case," Severus pointed out.
"All three of you were hidden magically," Ironclaw, Severus' account manager, explained gruffly. "I was sent forwards in time with young Severus to act as his guard and general when the next incursion came. We were separated during the trip and I arrived 49 years before young Severus. By the time I found him again he was a few years from graduating as the youngest Potions Master in 500 years and had been blood adopted by Eileen Prince. Now that the magic concealing the three of you has broken I can speak of it and the precautions taken to aid the three of you."
"The ancient treaty?" the lead goblin asked cautiously.
"Mok Tan Gwa Kin Lok," Ironclaw declared firmly. "Ragnok, I request tentative recognition as goblin warriors for these wizards that they might move freely as needed to aid in setting up and commanding the defenses."
"Oh hell! How much time do we have?!" Shatterclaw, Marvolo's account manager, asked hurriedly.
"Not enough. If you'll remember my story in the other time line I had to fight Marvolo and it had them hold off for around 45 years. I was the only one to survive to try and lead us. This time we aren't fighting each other. At best we have five years. At worst... possibly six months?" Harry explained before outlining his reasoning to his rapt audience and wrapping up his explanation with "We fought for years before I was ordered to attempt to avert it from the past by the last of the known living royal families and every single nation, muggle and magical, had been badly mauled. We were loosing."
"Bogkin, fetch the simplest mutual defense alliance treaty we have. The one that is usually used between clans angling for a merge but not wanting a marriage alliance. Ironclaw, Shatterclaw, Ironfang, get their accounts in goblin order before getting them tested for outside magic and health issues. See that anything wrong is fixed. Filnus, start issuing the call to arms and checking the incursion defenses. We don't need to fall as Atlantis did. Eggor, call for the blackmail books and the records on who wanted an alliance in the last hundred years with the reasons why it was requested and why they were turned down. Ulgnar, make sure these Warriors are outfitted in gear that will keep them alive and send three ward masters with them to check any location they want," Ragnok, the lead goblin, ordered harshly. "We need as many strongholds as possible and as many supplies as possible. Start hiring wizards to set up magical self contained farms that can be set up anywhere and produce crops quickly, preferably with little maintenance. Also hire ones to aid in our defenses, offer lodgings for themselves and their families for when it is no longer safe to roam about without blade, wand, and shield."
"We will be lucky if the war only lasts four years," Marvolo warned.
"We know," Filnus shot back before returning to writing up the call to arms.
"You claim to be able to sign on behalf of the human Queen?" Ragnok inquired. They nodded their agreement. "Review that and see if it is acceptable."
Ragnok handed them the defense treaty that Bogkin had fetched before being sent off on another errand.
The simple treaty read as follows:
"All signed parties agree to work together against enemies within and without in the mutual defense of each nation and/or clan provided the actions do not endanger the people of the other signed parties without clear agreement that the risk is necessary. This shall hold until such time as one party either declares the treaty void or actively attacks one or more of the other signed parties involved."
"A very simple treaty but probably perfect for what we need right now," Harry agreed grimly. The three wizards quickly signed on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, their own families and, in the case of Marvolo and Harry, the Dark and Light Wizarding factions respectively.
"Copies will be delivered to your vaults and to the human Queen. It will also be published in your wizarding paper alongside the treaty between the Wizarding factions," Ragnok said grimly.
"Be prepared for the Statute of Secrecy to fall," Harry warned before turning to Ironfang as they sorted out parts of their personal accounts.
Chapter 12: Supper Surprises
They spent the rest of the day untangling the mess that Dumbledore had made of their accounts and the Hogwarts accounts before having to return to Buckingham palace for an exhausted supper with the Queen. It was clear that their business at the bank would take more than a single day yet they had still accomplished that which had been considered near impossible. They had a mutual defense treaty with the goblins.
"We take it you had a tiring but hopefully productive day?" the Queen asked with interest as she watched the three tired wizards collect their food from the serving dishes.
"We got a mutual defense treaty from the goblins," Harry said smugly. "The ward masters will be here tomorrow to check the wards."
"The treaty is entirely basic and mostly revolves around if any signatory is in trouble or danger the others will help. Anyone can dissolve it at any time for any reason and it dissolves the moment any signatory officially attacks any of the others but it should be perfect to help counter the invasion," Severus explained. "The three ward masters have been semi-permanently assigned to us to check and/or ward any location we choose."
"What was most shocking were our own accounts and the dissolution of certain magics which had apparently been hiding the three of us," Marvolo said calmly. "Unless you need us we will need to return tomorrow to finish dealing with everything and start commissioning things for the invasion."
"Elaborate," the Queen commanded.
"Well we found out that most of us have some very old family. Marvolo and I even supposedly have Dukedoms that were assigned by the crown but thought extinct," Harry offered carefully.
"Your official titles?" the Queen asked with interest.
"I am supposedly Lord Prince-Emrys-Le Fay," Severus answered, face as calm as possible without betraying his internal turmoil over his inheritance. "My birth name is apparently Severus Merlinus Emrys. When I was blood adopted it became Severus Tobias Snape as my new mother had recently married Tobias Snape. I am uncertain if she knew my origins or birth name nor if she even cared. As she is dead I can not ask and I am not certain I would wish to if I could."
"I am Lord Potter-Gryffindor-Hufflepuff, Heir Black, Heir Peverell, Duke of Clarence, born Harrison James Potter," Harry offered up.
"I am Lord Slytherin-Gaunt-Ravenclaw, Duke of Sussex, born Tom Marvolo Riddle," Marvolo admitted.
"Did you bring copies...?" the Queen inquired delicately. In response they each handed over copies of their blood tests and of the new defense treaty. They all knew the official defense treaty copy was probably on her desk anyway and saw no reason not to give her an extra copy.
"Severus got upset at some of the stuff I've pulled when I explained our overall situation to the goblins and threatened to teach me not to be so reckless. I think he forgot I'm not his student anymore but to be fair more than half of the stuff that probably upset him the most actually wasn't pre-planned and I had to adapt. I was also still 17 a week ago and look 15 right now," Harry said lightly, trying to distract from their potentially uncomfortable discussion about blood family. It also had the added benefit of delaying the Queen from actually looking at their tests.
"Considering how dangerous most of it was I certainly don't blame him. I just don't think you will listen if I yell at you. I know you will at least try to listen to anything Severus yells at you about," Marvolo said pointedly. "Stop trying to distract her. She needs to read the blood tests."
Harry sighed and took a bite of his steak.
Queen Elizabeth quickly opened the tests and immediately went looking for the section on family, Harry's distraction attempt the clue she needed for her first target. When she got to Severus' she gasped and looked at them in shock.
"I was apparently sent forwards in time by my birth parents as an infant. My assigned caretaker was separated from me and landed... early in the time stream. He, a goblin by the name of Ironfang, finally located me in my last year at Hogwarts after I was signed to an apprenticeship contract. Ironfang claims to have also been assigned as a general under my command to help fight off this invasion. He has been acting as my account manager until now and has been released to speak of what was prepared by my parents to help us when the concealing magics on the three of us broke," Severus explained. "Eileen Prince basically became my third parent when she blood adopted me, further hiding me. I am only grateful that Tobias Snape was never really my father. I promise that I have no designs on the throne or ruling anything except a potions lab."
"This information will likely need to be used in the coming confrontation and new changes," the Queen sighed. "At least your displayed family tree sorts out a few of the myths. Mordred being your half brother and your mother not actually being related to either your uncle or father is in a way a blessing. It also makes it more likely that your half brother was simply brainwashed by whoever raised him rather than actually insane because of an incestuous relationship between his parents."
"Unless they shared a mother because Merlin was second in line for the throne after Arthur, more due to his bastard status than his age," a deep echoing voice explained as a figure dressed in a pitch black cloak with the hood up stepped straight from the shadows, scaring everyone witless. He was instantly facing down every weapon in the room held by security as Severus, Marvolo, and Harry helped bodily shield the Queen.
"Who the bloody hell are you?" Harry demanded angrily.
"Now young master is that any way to greet your humble servant?" the person audibly smirked.
"Wait... Death?!" Harry demanded in shock.
"In the flesh, so to speak. I am allowing the magical oaths to remain because you took the regent oath willingly and had planned the same for the vassal oath. They will also help you during the coming conflict. Besides I can always rip them from your bones later," Death smirked from inside his hood. "As to your conjuncture you are in fact correct but Mordred was also fed herbal mixes that damaged his mind and made him more compliant. Merlin was in fact a few years older than Arthur but their father was actually married to Arthur's mother before his birth. Merlin's mother was a serving girl in the castle who never married. As for the rightful heir to the throne... yes, Severus actually supersedes everyone else because he was never disinherited or anything of the sort. A hidden heir of the Pendragon line if you will. At the time he was sent forwards they didn't yet know Arthur was unable to have another child beyond the unknown Mordred due to a combat injury. As Elizabeth was crowned before Severus' arrival in this time she is still the rightful Queen... as long as she acknowledges that Severus is next in line and/or an agreement is reached."
"Bloody hell!" Severus moaned. He did not want the bloody throne!
"I didn't bother obscuring any of this from the cameras so you can confer with whoever you like and show them the recording. I also know that Severus doesn't really want the throne but you needed to know the options. I can not give warning to who I must collect or when but I can say that you may need to presume that Severus, Harry, and Marvolo will have to take the throne, even if only temporarily, at some point in the next sixty years or so," Death said politely before simply melting into nothingness.
"That isn't good," Harry sighed resignedly.
"Why was he calling you master?" one of the security people demanded. Harry succinctly recited the story of the Peverell brothers, the fact that he owned the objects, and that he was a Peverell by blood with the fact that the story left out the need for the Peverell bloodline to make it work.
"Basically, he's accidentally immortal," Marvolo elaborated with a smirk. Harry growled moodily and smacked the ruby-eyed wizard's arm lightly. Both knew that he didn't like the immortality aspect or the fact that it made him even more unique than usual.
"Yes, that was Death and yes... I'm accidentally immortal," Harry admitted. "Magic or not no one can stop him if he wants to be there or needs to. Its part of his job. He's just usually invisible and intangible while he's running around collecting souls."
Retrieving something from the side table where she had set it out the Queen changed the subject as she waved everyone back to their posts.
"The writ," the Queen said, handing over an official piece of parchment, sealed with wax and a list of offenses which would necessitate opening and using the writ. The first reason that caught Harry's eye was imprisonment without a trial, taken directly from the Magna Carta portion of the over all charter. Apparently innocent until proven guilty was supposed to actually apply in both sides of the United Kingdom not just the mundane side.
"Ma'am, they broke this one in late 1981 with my godfather Sirius Black. You can revoke at any time," Harry told her, a pang of old grief touching his heart as Sirius' fall through the veil flashed through his mind. "They also broke it again in early '93 with Hagrid but they could argue they just hadn't gotten around to a proper investigation and trial with him before I solved the situation since he was released again before summer holidays that same year. I only know of those two situations personally but they might have done the same to others or broken other parts of the charter that I don't know about. They, or at least Dumbledore, also broke the wardship part when it came to me. I was basically kidnapped and forcibly placed with the Dursleys who never wanted me and treated me like a slave. The only things I know of that I got which the law entitled me to was something of a public education. They made it clear that they wouldn't even have allowed me that if they could get away with it. I was never placed with social services of either side of the statute that I can remember or that I was told."
"That... is unfortunate. Once you have completed your business at the bank you will arrange to deliver the writ to the Wizengamot and then contact me. If I have time that day you will have Middy fetch me and a security escort. If not I charge the three of you in bringing our magic using people back under control. Use what you need to within reason," the Queen ordered with obvious regret. "As you are technically still underage I will also have to assign your guardianship to someone."
"I, technically, exist in both worlds as does Severus and we can arrange for all the paperwork to appear in proper order via the goblins and Gringotts bank," Marvolo informed her carefully. "But you could also just as easily wait until his birthday and formally draft him into military service as he will be sixteen or he could apply for it and we can sort everything out through the military."
"If we select to use our armed forces in this we will want to draft all three of you and permanently assign you together or at least working with one another. On second thought your forces are trained for battle, Sir Marvolo?" the Queen inquired thoughtfully.
"They are ma'am, for the most part, some work needs to be done to regain some skill levels though. I have been missing for some time and they had to hide as best as possible," Marvolo agreed warily. "We weren't actually an army. While I applied discipline and we conducted raids I was insane and there was more in common with a royal court than an actual military force."
"Then perhaps it would be best to simply draft your entire force as well as yourselves. Sir Harry and Sir Severus can either form their own contingents or find other placements," the Queen mused.
"I think that would really only work after the writ is issued and we've got the Wizarding World under proper control... or everything goes to shit and we need to scramble everything into place," Harry said thoughtfully. "They won't obey a draft until we've got it through their thick heads that we owe you fealty, which could take a bit. Its not really an issue for those raised on the non-magical side because of previous public schooling."
"For now Sir Marvolo will take custody of Sir Harry and you will all prepare any forces at your command for the invasion and possibly to be drafted. We will attempt to leave you independent of our other armed forces but you must be able to work with them and integrate as quickly as possible at a moment's notice," she instructed firmly. "As to fealty if we must we can publish Sir Severus' family lineage and declare him in charge of the magical side due to his father being Merlin and his uncle King Arthur. In an emergency we can declare that he is King of those subjects who are magical and simply require his heirs to swear fealty to our throne as Sir Severus has."
"It can be done but we may need to give remedial training with many people getting cursed for insubordination over insults to non-magicals and the unwillingness to work with them that often comes with it," Severus warned. "As to my taking any position like that of king, minister, or governor... I'd really rather not. If you'd like me to take it up and then name someone my heir before immediately abdicating... it can be done but the magic that will be necessary might choose to reject anyone it doesn't approve of."
"The military code of conduct and relevant punishment codes will be waiting for you in the morning to reference. You have permission to create a modified code specifically for our Magical armed forces should we not already have one. If we do have one our security forces will provide a copy for you," the Queen told them. "We will have to consider the matter of magical administration later then."
"Ma'am? We do have such a code but the one designed for our forces hasn't been updated for war time without the statute in place," one of the magical security officers informed her.
"Acceptable," the Queen said before giving them a command. "Now then, kneel."
They cautiously obeyed, kneeling on the floor in front of where she now stood. A signal had a sword brought to her by a staff member.
"You have completed the tasks we set for you and have done great service for us before even appearing before us. As such we are appointing each of you to the Royal Victorian Order of which sole appointment and service is at our pleasure. We name you Knight Grand Cross Harrison James Potter, Knight Commander Severus Merlinus Emrys, and Knight Commander Tom Marvolo Riddle," the Queen said formally, using the sword to knight each in turn. "We also grant Sir Tom the right to go by Sir Marvolo as his distaste for his birth name has become known to us. As our personal knights and vassals you are never to go unarmed if at all possible even in our own presence. Should the royal family come under threat you three are specially charged to ensure the continuity of government and protection of our people including the claiming of the throne either as regent or as the new monarchy depending upon the situation."
"Thank you your majesty," they murmured, too stunned to believe what had just happened even with the prior warning. The oaths etched on to their bones thrummed happily, giving them a sense of brief euphoria before fading into a comfortable warmth against the marrow of their bones.
"Rise and retrieve your wands from the security staff. We will finish supper and be done with the day," Queen Elizabeth ordered, fully aware of what she had done. These three would claim the throne when her family fell and they would protect her people.
The sword was quietly taken away as they retrieved their wands in a daze and returned to their meal. The bond between the four of them thrummed happily, resonating with the palace wards.
Just before bed Harry sent a letter to the Weasely twins asking them to gather everyone who would stand behind Harry at Gringotts the next morning. They had work to do.
Chapter 13: Armor and Wards
The next morning they headed for the bank, ignoring how the palace had issued a press statement explaining the wards and the fact that specialists were being summoned to check them. The wards were also being touted as a good thing while being used as proof of magical science.
Harry knew when they got to the bank they would have to arrange for the official change in guardianship quickly before Dumbledore recovered enough to try and force him back under the old man's thumb. It was something he had, regretfully, not considered because of the decree via both the Goblet of Fire and the Wizengamot trial over self defense from the Dementors.
"What is this?" Severus demanded, eying a rather large group of his students waiting for them on the steps of Gringotts with Bill and Charlie Weasely watching on in open amusement while they leaned against the bank wall.
"Harry called, we answered," Neville shrugged. His crippling fear of Snape had taken a nice blow after a year of the DA and the Ministry raid.
"Harrison?" Marvolo asked archly, complete with raised eyebrows from both of his fellow Knights.
"She said sort out our people and prep them," Harry pointed out cheekily. "Come on guys, all of you are getting checked by the goblins. We need to sort out communication mirrors for everyone too. The Death Eaters might not be a problem any more but the things that we signed that treaty to try and stop are still coming. As a bonus I've got a few bits of blackmail for you to play with."
"Professor Snape," Bill greeted on behalf of the group as Harry led them inside the stone and marble building.
"William," Severus greeted in return with an annoyed sigh and irritated glare aimed at Harry's back.
"Did he summon half the school?" Marvolo asked cheerfully.
"Not quite and not everyone could be here," Charlie laughed. "He did borrow someone else's owl though. We almost didn't believe it was from him. I wonder where Hedwig got to?"
"His uncle killed her just before we rescued him," Severus admitted quietly. Charlie immediately stopped laughing and glanced worriedly towards Harry.
"He loved that owl but we have work to do," Marvolo explained. "He will either grieve later or explain why he can't."
"Who might you be?" Charlie asked suspiciously.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Harry knows exactly who I am just as he knows I won't harm him now that my... misconceptions have been corrected," Marvolo smirked before quickly returning to Harry's side with Severus right behind him.
"If anyone is going to obey Dumbledore over me you don't need to be here. I'm probably going to get into a major fight with the Headmaster soon because I'm not going to let him tell me what to do anymore. If any of you aren't willing to stand up to Dumbledore or even face against the Dark Lord next to me or even working with the Dark Lord and his people you can go home and no hard feelings," Harry promised as they waited for an open teller. He was comfortably flanked by Severus and Marvolo, each unconsciously guarding him.
"Harry?" Neville asked cautiously. "Are you pulling another crazy stunt?"
"Yes," Harry answered bluntly. "Only this time I can't keep it small only affecting a few people. This time it will cover all of the UK on both sides. Dumbledore is going to fight me on what needs to be done because he didn't see what I saw and he thinks anyone not obeying his every word and whim is dark. Basically, I am first asking who's greater good is Dumbledore working for? and then I'm asking you to trust me until I can show you why we need to do this. I still plan to run the DA if I come back to Hogwarts this year but all of you will get extra information and training for trusting me. This will go against Dumbledore and it might go against your parents. So, are you all willing to join me on my next stupidly reckless adventure? One you could die on? One that you might need to kill to survive on? If not there's the door and no hard feelings."
"Is this going to be illegal?" Susan Bones asked, biting her lip.
"No, but we've already told your Aunt about the problem. I bet she's been working a lot and trying to get the DMLE into fighting shape, hasn't she?" Harry asked gently. Susan nodded agreement. "What I am going to do with you guys is make it so you can survive a fight that will take take down Death Eaters, Aurors, and lots of Hagrid's favorite dangerous pets. It will be hard, it will be scary, you may have to work with and fight alongside people you hate or badly want to kill, but it will also protect our homes and families. Anything more has to wait until we've got a goblin helping us and by that point you'll be committed. So? Who's up for an insane Potter level adventure?"
The entire group shouted their agreement with only one or two heading for the door. Harry recognized Cho Chang and Zachariah Smith as they left. That was good, those two would have trouble following any orders he gave even with extra training. They had gotten killed because they wouldn't listen to his warnings last time.
"Warrior Potter?" a goblin guard asked carefully. Harry nodded his acknowledgement before their group was led away back into one of the larger meeting rooms by the guard.
"So these are your core group of recruits," Ironfang smirked. He noted the many heirs that had been thought to be under Dumbledore's influence as well as the presence of both older Slytherins and the two eldest Weasleys.
"Do I have enough in my vaults to get them all checked and purged?" Harry asked calmly.
"Will you also be wanting armor and back up wands?" Ironfang asked without a blink of an eye at the request.
"Wand holsters as well. We also need to borrow a projective pensive so they can study my memories of the invaders. No matter how badly tampered with the memories might be they can still find something useful even if only learning to duck when something swings down from the ceiling," Harry said firmly.
"Warrior Potter, please include your memories of battle from your time at Hogwarts for our goblin warriors to review. As for payment? You can outfit them with the best 100,000 times over and more. You control multiple fortunes and the... errors discovered yesterday have been corrected with extreme prejudice. As instructed only the guilty parties and not those unknowingly involved have begun punishment for their thefts. Will you be commissioning any goblin wares?" Ironfang asked toothily.
"Lets get everyone outfitted in basics until skill and affinity is determined. I have to get them from student level to warrior level and most of them are still growing. If they can't fit in their gear when it is time for battle then the gear becomes practically useless if not worse than useless. At worst we can transfigure and charm things into something semi-suitable on short notice. I'd still much rather have them kitted out in goblin made gear though," Harry said thoughtfully. "The basic gear will get them familiar with wearing it at all times and using it. I'll get them permission to wear it even in school or we can charm their school uniforms to go over it in a pinch."
"Exactly how many years did you act as the sole lead General before returning to the past?" Ironfang asked carefully.
"Sixty... Sixty years out of nearly eighty of world wide hell," Harry answered grimly. "I acted as leader, General, and Guardian of three separate generations of humans. This time I mean to see more than 600,000 people here in the UK survive past the first two years. We got smarter after that, working together. If you are willing to spread the word among the clans and beyond tell me what memories you need and I will gladly donate them. I recommend calling in all debts and arranging for every last man, woman, and child of every people be trained in basic combat and survival before being aimed at building our defenses. We will need to wake the ancient defenses of the land before this is done."
"Then it is good that Godric Gryffindor ordered a portion of his estate be set aside for investment in smiths and other businesses that would be sorely needed in war time. I will send instructions to the companies you own on your behalf and start stockpiling extras beyond any orders that will be immediately accepted from customers. Lives and honor are more important than profit at times," Ironfang agreed toothily. "You honor him as his heir."
"Good. I will trust your judgement in this. Do the same for anything else you might think is going to be useful after viewing my memories," Harry ordered, fully the experienced general in that moment. He completely ignored the shock that revealing part of his heritage had caused to move on to the next thing on the list.
The rest of the day passed in a blur as everyone was checked for outside influences and went through a magic purge with the occasional cleansing ritual on top of it. Everyone was outfitted with two back up wands and wand holsters with automatic recall, self cleaning charms, anti-fire charms, anti-cold charms, anti-summoning charms, removal keys preventing any but the wearer from taking it off, and basic protective enchantments. The basic leather armor they also received was enchanted to be spell and weapon resistant with automatic sizing charms, heating/cooling charms, and self cleaning/repair charms. The light armor would get them used to wearing it and the eventual upgrade to dragon hide or the hide of other magical creatures shouldn't be that different from their current gear.
The releasing of the magical blocks on Harry, Severus, and Neville shook the bank and cracked the floor of the ritual rooms they were using.
"I wondered how much stronger they would be," Marvolo laughed before quickly paying for the repairs that were now needed to the ritual rooms. He paid because he planned to hold it over their heads for long enough that the price was worth the blackmail/teasing material. He also quietly arranged for the same checks and treatment for anyone with a dark mark with his own account manager. Armor and back up wands would be dealt with later after the sanity, magic, and health checks.
Harry's memories had been copied at the start before the originals were returned to their proper place in his skull. Any goblin warrior who viewed them gave him a salute once before going about their business. Harry acknowledged each salute but wisely said nothing more on the matter. It also had the wizards and witches who were already willing to follow him watching him with awe and respect. Harry had plans to use the magical boot camp training to get rid of that awe or at least knock some common sense into them and make sure they knew he wasn't god.
Each person left the bank with a basic self training schedule and a group training schedule to work on until Harry could get them together regularly for training sessions that he could oversee or someone he trusted could oversee. While the newly knighted wizards led the ward masters back to the palace.
"If I get my way your complete health history will make it into the paper. It will serve multiple blows to Dumbledore, the Ministry, and help wake up the wizarding public," Marvolo said darkly as he stalked into the palace. "It will also be a perfect way to show the Dark why we aren't fighting anymore and we can address the muggleborn families, showing that this is why we hid in the first place as you did with the Queen."
"I don't like it but I can't argue with your reasoning. Actually it may be a perfect counter balance to use when the statute is completely torn down. They might even let us slip away to hid again after being faced with what some people will do to a child who is different," Harry sighed moodily as he followed close behind the Dark Lord. "Besides I'm a better candidate than anyone else. I'm famous, supposedly well loved, and have the mental distance of over a century via time travel to protect me which no one else has."
"It may even encourage others to come forwards so that we can help them," Severus reminded them softly. The three ward masters had followed them quietly, listening with a mix of fascination and dread as the trio discussed various things.
The group of six wizards had entered by the east gate so that the security staff could check them. The Queen was actually out of the castle, enjoying a long lunch and a movie specifically so that she didn't need to get near the ward masters on the insistence of her security people. Her three Knights had been instructed to us the newly bonded Middy, a gift of House Malfoy, to fetch her and her security detail if they needed her for dealing with the wards.
"The more I hear about this Dumbledore guy the less I like him," one of their security escorts muttered.
"This isn't the half of it but then we've got more blackmail on him between us than anyone except his ex-lover and his ex-lover's great aunt and ours is a lot more recent," Harry assured the security man over his shoulder. "Actually you should probably know for your files. Dumbledore was Gellert Grindlewald's lover as a teen and both helped Hitler though Dumbledore seemed to have broken it off when a fight between them and his brother accidentally killed his sister Ariana. Dumbledore has played kindly eccentric Professor since he first got a teaching job at Hogwarts but defeating his old lover, I'm not entirely sure how, gained him lots of fame and awards. He got used to being the power behind the highly placed magicals and listened to without question. A question there, a pointed comment here, a recommendation whispered in that official's ear... You get the picture."
"Indeed, I do," the security man agreed grimly.
"He also likes using potions and spells, primarily compulsion ones, truth serums and legillimency probes, just surface thoughts usually but that is often enough... too much to give away. My recommendation is never allow him within a mile of any member of the royal family, especially the children. He projects the perfect candy loving grandfather figure that even warned rebellious teenagers can't see through. Often trained adults, with full knowledge, can't see through his facade either," Severus warned. "I'll get you a couple of his chocolate frog cards to pass around. If he shows up anywhere in your authority stun him or kill him. He's too dangerous for almost anyone to be around him while he's awake, not that most anyone can usually tell but that is the benefit of hindsight."
"I knew but he slipped around me the first time we met, threatening to burn all I had in the world by using an illusion of doing just that to show me that magic existed. I was an orphan, barely eleven, suffering through the blitz at the time," Marvolo snorted in disgust over Dumbledore's tactics. "I tried to say something but he made me out to be evil and the matron at the orphanage thought I was a demon child. Those exorcisms hurt. The bastard kept sending me back into an over crowded orphanage in the middle of a war zone every summer along with everyone else who was living in the mundane world. I can't tell you how many classmates never survived the blitz and the old fool encouraged sending us back into that mess every bloody summer! Most magic users adore and viciously protect children because they are a blessing. Dumbledore just uses them as cannon fodder and pawns."
"Before you say anything about my situation's mismanagement at school that was under the control of Dumbledore and my position is fairly unique due to both prophecy and fame. The staff had no idea how to handle it, especially with Dumbles handling them," Harry warned. "Severus is the only one who had a clue and Dumbles kept tricking him into seeing only my bully of a father whenever he looked at me."
"That is no excuse for my behavior but part of it was meant as a shield for you and a cover for my espionage which worked rather well," Severus countered.
"I'll see about updating the files," the security officer promised grimly just as they arrived at the ward room.
Harry blocked the way in, freezing as he stared. He stared and he stared and he stared.
"Tribbles," Harry shuddered, whimpering as he moved backwards, away from the cute, constantly pregnant, furballs sitting atop the ward stone.
"First wave?" Severus asked cautiously. Harry nodded mutely. "How long do we have and what are their attributes?"
Harry took a shuddering breath before answering in a flat voice. "Tribbles are primarily an attack on our food sources. They eat anything and multiply at worse than demon rabbit levels when there is enough food. They also don't mind eating magic but they prefer vegetation to magic or meat. Tribbles, as the first wave marker, give us two, maybe three years before the really dangerous stuff shows up along with the first governmental and military decapitation attempts. The end of the Tribble wave is 18-24 months. They aren't edible for humans of any type but can be safely fed to most meat consuming magical creatures and beings. They also act as a great Dementor warning system. The two species hate each other and Tribble screams seem to be able to do real damage to both Dementors and their cousin the Leithfolds. Best bet is to dump every single one we find on top of Azkaban then start feeding them to things like Manticores, Dragons, and Sphinxes. You know, things that Hagrid adores as pets."
"Are they in any way dangerous? Other than to our food?" Marvolo asked, eyeing Harry in open concern.
"No, their purrs are usually soothing to humans and most other sentient magical beings. I hate them for the famine they can cause and what comes from that. I've been starved too many times and when they came last time I had to watch people die from starvation as the Tribbles got into the food stores," Harry explained carefully. "We had a good harvest when we welcomed the assassin/diplomats before they took out the Ministry."
"Pests then. Cute ones and dangerous to all food in large numbers but pests all the same," one ward master summarized with distaste. He had grown up on a farm and knew the danger Harry had just described, though on a much smaller scale. It was simply more common to fight rats and mice in this kind of role than cute furball things that made soothing noises.
"Sounds like we might have to classify them as such and warn of the natural high reproduction rate," the second ward master agreed. "A zap ward should deal with them the same as doxies, pixies, mice, rats, and other small pests. We will need to set up a second layer for any numbers the standard zap ward can't handle and set it for dealing with potential waves like the old set up for plagues of creatures."
"Its not like we can ward the fields and every building in the United Kingdom. Especially if they are already getting into places," Harry said humorlessly, gesturing at the fuzzballs happily sitting on the ward stone.
"No but we could have people wander around populated areas summoning them and instruct that they should not be fed more than a certain amount to try and keep the population down. Even if they are used as a food source for meat eaters or as therapy creatures or as pets they have uses. The problem is the reproduction rate and its link to appetite. That can be fixed with infertility spells and potion laced food to limit their reproduction. Hell there are curses out there that make people practically barren if not completely sterile we can use... How do you not know this?" the first ward master asked baffled.
"Raised by abusive muggles and then treated like a Boy-Who-Lived puppet by first Dumbledore and before being firmly controlled by my wife in the other time line. I won't be trying to recreate that marriage no matter how dearly I miss my kids. I wasn't able to learn half as much as I was supposed to know so I just muddled along as best I could," Harry answered absently. It was common knowledge in the other time line and he wasn't trying to hide his time travel status. He had also made a concerted effort to fix the holes in his knowledge but Ginny had often blocked or distracted him, then the invasion came and he had to play Savior once again. Harry hated being forced to play savior.
"Dumbledore may insist that the imp was raised as a prince and taught our traditions and culture but Harry has been either kept as a house elf or treated as a mindless Gryffindor hero depending on if he was with his muggle relatives or at Hogwarts. I've come to the conclusion that the old fool wants a living weapon that mindlessly obeys and will sacrifice himself on Dumbledore's word. Not whatever Harry Potter has become. Not what he or the rest of us need," Severus snorted in disgust.
"Aw that's sweet," Harry cooed sickeningly at Severus only to get rightfully hit with several stinging hexes, dragging an indignant yelp out of his impertinent mouth and surprising a chuckle from Marvolo.
"So publishing your health history is a possibility. It will let us dodge using our family trees until later," Marvolo said conversationally as the ward masters ostensibly got to work, very carefully ignoring their antics.
"If it will help push everyone into getting ready or make them more willing to protect kids of every sentient earth species then yes, damn it," Harry snarled.
Harry was normally a private person but experience and the war had taught him to use every scrap of information, weapon, and resource as best as possible. The war had started in his sixties and even without counting the accidental time travels at other points in his life he had left his first life nearly eighty years after the first time the Tribbles had been unleashed. Many of the battles he had fought were won by the barest of margins and more than half the planet had fallen completely by the time he was sent back to split the time line. His only hope at this point was to scramble everything into place and hope they could maintain order well enough to fight back faster and harder. Key to that would be warding every single place of decent size they could get their hands on with powerful wards and merging the magical with the mundane as quickly and smoothly as possible under the current time constraint. That way the expertise of both sides could fight back as one.
"There isn't anything wrong with these wards. Its an odd configuration, a very old set up, and I wouldn't mind studying them along with what else they are supposed to link to but they are working perfectly," the third ward master informed them. "It won't keep out any human, muggle or magical, nor will it keep out any reasoning magical being except hags, vampires, and transformed werewolves but it can take a real beating. It will let werewolves that are still human shaped in just fine but tag them to dump them outside the wards if they start to transform."
"The Tribbles were hand carried into the wards by a human. Get rid of this batch and yell at the idiot but otherwise the wards would have already kept them out," the first ward master happily informed them.
The ward masters were thanked and sent back to the bank via portkey. Warding other locations would have to wait for a decision on where as well as another day.
Dinner with the Queen had them reporting their rapid progress and the worrisome appearance of the first Tribbles.
Chapter 14: Of Old Men
Dumbledore had been enjoying a nice peaceful summer... until Harry disappeared. He had apparated to Private Drive in a panic when the wards had shattered and most of his trackers had disappeared. Thankfully one had lasted until they entered wizarding wards at Malfoy Manor. It had taken a bit of time to gather a rescue party and Snape was nowhere to be found but Dumbledore had done it, even if he had to go to Fudge to get a few extra Aurors and some ministry flunky to break the wards a little and let them in.
The arrival of his scrawny pawn, his sarcastic knight, and the red-eyed black king in the middle of the fight was a nasty shock. The forced treaty that resulted was... unfortunate and the news of a coming invasion was disturbing. The concept that the three of them had time traveled was a step too far in Dumbledore's opinion. Oh he knew it was possible, after all he had arranged Granger's time turner for third year himself. It was the possibility that he had lost this live game of chess with the wager being control of the entire British Wizarding World until his death. Lost badly enough that the three of them were able to meet and work together in the future to even consider time travel. Dumbledore had even planned that his death would be greatly put off thanks to the stone that Nicholas Flamel, and everyone else, had believed was destroyed in Harry's first year. No none of this would do.
It was five days after Harry had disappeared from Private Drive and everything started to go wrong, the delay helped along by his furious Deputy, that he became aware of the fact Harry had taken control of his accounts. He had also discovered that a good portion of the students who had been part of or actively protected Harry's little defense club had been unexpectedly summoned to the bank the day after the account control and audit was initiated by Harry. He also discovered that all three of his misbehaving chess pieces had gotten tests done at the bank. Bill was being extremely tight mouthed about what was tested and the results so he didn't know if it had been an inheritance test, the claiming of a lordship, or a full blood test. It was irritating but he would discover the information eventually even if he had to wait for school to return to session, forcing both Potter and Snape back into his grasp.
Humming happily Dumbledore opened his morning mail only to bellow in fury upon reading that an audit, triggered by some minor bank check, had stripped him of half his wealth and property in fines and reparations. Fines and reparations that went to a mismanaged account that had previously been under his control. It was obviously the Potter account and his war fund had been drained to nothing on top of that! His pawn had no need for that much money. It was for the Greater Good!
Of course he would get it all back once the little menace was safely married to Ginerva, his granddaughter who came from an affair between himself and Molly's dead mother with Molly as his only daughter. Her brothers had been such a disappointment but at least they had all been properly blood adopted by their official father to hide their Dumbledore heritage. Most of his grandchildren favored Harry over him, having adopted his little weapon, but he forgave them. He would have to accelerate the courtship between Ginerva and Harry. The only better thing to do would be to get Severus and Harry together before killing them and having his Ginerva blood adopt the brat the two would have. It would give him the Prince, Potter, and Black estates practically on a silver platter. Sadly, the two young wizards still appeared to hate each other and he hadn't noticed the way their magic naturally intertwined early enough to have them get along well enough for an arranged marriage between the pair.
McGonagall heard the scream of rage along with everyone else down in the great hall and glared the little remaining staff at the school into staying in their seats at the breakfast table. The old coot could wait and she needed to have a discussion on whether the staff would side with Harry or Dumbledore when they finally faced off seriously this year. She personally planed to join Harry and get a few hard answers out of her former schoolmate Tom. This would be an interesting year. There was little question of that.
Filius had received several reports from his goblin relations and had been flatly told that his clan had called him to service. With the way Dumbledore had obviously planned to force Harry and Severus back to Hogwarts after he realized they weren't planning on coming back something needed to be done. The goblins had tested Filius for loyalty to the Headmaster and decided he would be their inside man at the school.
The orders that Filius Flitwick had received were to act as ally, guard, and defender to both wizards and any force they raised within the school. If evacuation was needed they were to retreat to the bank to regroup in goblin territory. He would join the training as both student and teacher while they refined the training techniques for immediate employment in as many places as possible. War was coming and the goblins planned to claim Harry and Severus both as goblin clan members when the time was right. The official adoption of Harry James Potter by Tom Marvolo Riddle had come through with full confirmation of the paperwork all being in place that morning by owl. Filius was to use his copy to secure their release if Dumbledore tried something in regards to guardianship.
Back at the palace Harry shivered as he felt someone that loved sweets walking over his grave. This meeting with top military brass was important and forcing them to see a fellow General rather then a child was a pain in the arse but necessary.
First things first, make them understand that magic was not only real but that magic users would have to been incorporated as part of their strategy for the coming invasion. Then the Queen made it easier or possibly harder on the trio, she ordered their compliance.
"These, our Knights, have brought word of a threat to our people. You will work with them to ensure that when the threat finally darkens our shores we will be ready to face it," the Queen ordered the military officers in the room. "Sir Harry, Sir Severus, Sir Marvolo, you may use what techniques are at your disposal to convince them of your truthfulness and the seriousness of the threat. However, we would prefer if they remained ultimately intact."
"Yes, ma'am," was murmured by the three wizards as the Queen left them alone with a bevy of top military officers, most of which had died in the first military decapitation attempt.
"Did she just give us permission to curse the ever living hell out of them?" Harry asked for clarification once she was gone.
"Yes, she most certainly did," Marvolo smirked evilly, eyeing his hand delivered prey.
"I'm going to say no Unforgivables right now," Harry insisted stubbornly. "You heard her, she wants them back once we've got them to understand the situation. Terrifying them will just make the situation worse."
"What exactly are you talking about young man?" one admiral asked.
"Are any of you read in on the Statute of Secrecy?" Severus asked smoothly. That got their immediate attention.
"If we aren't actually read in on it we have all heard of it," a General said briefly.
"Well the statute is about to come crashing down because a good portion of the incoming enemy can use similar abilities and we will need to combine the native users with those who are already in service that don't have the talent. Basically, we are going to return magic to common acknowledgement and acceptance or we fall to the invaders," Harry told them bluntly. He subtly shifted his stance and voice as his eyes stopped hiding his experience, projecting the image of an old weary combat veteran. "Before you tell me magic isn't real I am going to give you a few options for experiencing it so these two don't go overboard on using it on those of you who irritate them. Option 1: Animated magical candy. Option 2: Something transfigured into something else. Option 3: Get cursed, hexed, or jinxed in a visible and potentially painful manner. Option 4: Magical prank. Option 5: Examining an invisibility cloak. Option 6: Meeting a real Phoenix. Option 7: Getting stuck to the ceiling and left there for a bit. Once we've been convinced you sufficiently understand and accept that magic and magic users are real we will move on to explaining the situation further, examining the threat, and discussing how we can work together to beat these bastards. Am I clear?"
"Yes, sir!" was heard out of reflex from almost every military officer in the room. That reflex drove home the fact that while Harry looked like a teenager he was anything but.
"What of those of us who are read into the Statute or have... relatives on your side of the line?" someone near the back rumbled.
"Then you get to play with what you already know exists," Harry shrugged. "We have a war to plan and the enemy has already begun their first strike. If we can't convince you of the threat then you are useless and a danger to not only your own men but the entire UK and more. You'll be relieved of duty and if you become too much of a problem you'll simply disappear. As much as we are trying to save lives if you can't work with us you become an open threat in the rear. All of you know how that is dealt with so I see no reason to sugar coat it."
"I'll take the prank," an aid requested with curiosity. He was handed a canary cream. Shrugging the man bit into it and instantly became a human sized canary, complete with bright yellow feathers covering his body.
"He must have some prior experience. He ate it without a moment of hesitation," Severus observed in amusement as the aid molted the feathers a few minutes later to the interest of the assembled officers.
"Fred and George Special?" the aid asked with a grin.
"Let me guess you know their older brothers," Harry snorted in amusement.
"Met Bill on leave while he was fetching something from a Tesco and his brothers pranked us. Bill was of age and I have a muggleborn cousin so they didn't bother trying to clean it up since I was technically already informed. Acting like a disco ball for the night made it all very interesting. We still sometimes keep in touch," the aid agreed with a laugh.
"They would do that," Severus agreed in exasperation.
"Perhaps we should introduce ourselves properly. I am Sir Tom Marvolo Riddle but I have been known more frequently as of late as the Dark Lord Voldemort. My companions are Sir Severus Merlinus Emrys, formerly Potions Master Severus Snape. The war weary imp is Sir Harry James Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. All three of us have come back in time from different points. We are also your best intel sources for the coming invasion due to the time travel bit," Marvolo informed them almost mockingly.
"Well fuck," the aid cursed, wide-eyed at who exactly they were meeting. Bill and his cousin had spoken about all three of them at one point or another.
"Before you ask why we were allowed near the Queen, much less Knighted, I will remind you all that we have been technically cleared by security and the magical oaths we currently have etched into our very bones won't let us hurt her. Our very essence will drive us to protect her and obey her commands as her Vassals and Knights," Harry drawled with dry old man amusement. "To refuse to fulfill the oath is like releasing a slow acting poison that's already inside us. A very painful death as our magic eats us from the inside out."
"Ah, that explains why my magical cousins were appalled by my service oath," a Major General murmured off to the left
"Magical oaths work differently than the oaths of office or service that are more common among non-magicals. A magical oath is overseen and enforced by the magic of the people involved, especially the magic of the person who has taken the oath, with various consequences for breaking it. An oath given by a non-magical, also known as a muggle, is more binding legally and on their honor than anything else. Basically, an ill worded pinky swear can kill among magicals while among those who have no magic it is but a set of words," Severus informed them.
"As such our oaths to the Queen are more binding than anything the rest of you can come up with," Marvolo told them, his smile sharp and predatory.
"Now are you ready to get on with believing in magic and then examining the information we have on the enemy? Or would you rather insult our competence and sanity?" Harry asked, eyes laughing at them as the prank potential overshadowed the painful memories of the war.
"Interesting but that all presupposes that magic is real," a second Admiral snarked. "I may have been ordered to work with you and use anything you give us as if it were real but your offer of proof had better contain something more substantial than covering a man in kill me yellow feathers for a few minutes."
"Battle applications or more practical ones?" Harry asked in amusement. He knew this man, if only briefly, and it had taken an impressive amount of magic to convince him that he wasn't crazy and that magic was real.
"You know this one brat?" Marvolo asked, recognizing the teasing glint.
"Not by name but yes. He helped me save a good twenty kids from an elemental trap and cussed me out the entire time until I took a hit for him. He rather liked watching the tougher enemies burn in Fiendfyre and hates Dementors just as much as I do. Sadly, he fell just outside the Hogwarts wards but he made sure to fall close enough with the right intent to use his death to strengthen the wards and expanded them a good twenty feet in all directions. His willing sacrifice powered the wards completely alone for three solid months before we had to add to it in other ways. Three months against things out of nightmare and occasional hits that can put a nuke to shame. That was damn helpful and protected the members of the royal family we had managed to secure," Harry explained cheerfully. "I found his grand kids a few weeks later and made sure they were adopted by a loving magical family. His great grand kids became experts at castle defense and led multiple raiding parties to retrieve survivors or steal enemy supplies."
"That's not me son," the hero Admiral countered uncomfortably.
"No, that was a version of you. Trust me, that act of bravery saved lives," Harry countered firmly. "Now since none of you seem outright hostile or in complete blinding denial I'm going to assume that we can move on."
"This is a pensive. It is used to review memories. This particular one does not force the viewer to mentally enter the memory to watch and experience it but instead projects the memory as a sort of movie for large groups to view. You will be viewing Harry's memories of the war while we sit off to the side. Hold your questions until afterwards please. If it is about an existing spell or potion we may simply arrange for you to have a copy of the relevant book it is learned from," Severus stated firmly as he set up the pensive and Marvolo collected the memories from Harry.
The group of military brass spent the next six hours watching the memories in horrified disbelief before strategy discussions began in earnest. Each officer silently agreed that Sir Harry Potter was in fact a veteran combatant and General. Not a single one of them wanted him as an enemy.
Chapter 15: Purple Robed Idiots
The Wizengamot was not happy. The magic of the oath binding them had dragged most of them out of bed that morning and made it clear that they were expected in the ceremonial room at the ministry by mid-morning. Every single sworn in Wizengamot member had 10 am start burning in their minds around 5 the same morning they were expected. Not a single one of the Wizarding raised members recognized the crest that burned in their mind's eye with authority, summoning them to session.
The pale lips of Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing curved up in a satisfied smirk as the summons woke her from her rest, feeling the summons and recognizing the royal family's crest burning in her mind's eye. Alucard, formerly known as Dracula, felt the summons through the bindings placed by Abraham Van Hellsing both from the magic of the Hellsing family and deep within his own magic. His near instant uproarious laughter woke the entire household.
"Alucard," Integra ordered softly as she heard his laughter and got out of bed.
"Yes master?" Alucard asked melting from the shadows into her bedroom and abruptly silencing his own echoing laughter allowing the house to fall back into its nightly quiet.
"The crown summons us to service at the Wizengamot," Integra smirked. "It appears they have finally broken the charter or strained the good will of her majesty too far and we can deal with the ones hiding among the magicals."
"The only thing better would be if we faced a full invasion for me to play with," Alucard agreed gleefully.
"As much as I know you would enjoy the feast such an invasion would provide you I am not certain you would fare so well if that army was of magic users," Integra teased as she started to dress. It was going to be a busy day, one hopefully filled with the fall of idiots from power and the destruction of many ghouls and vampires.
"There is an ancient writ that would allow me to claim and summon to service all who claim to be vampire or werewolf if the land is threatened. As the No Life King they become my army to hold back the waves of an invasion force. My enslaved souls don't count because they have no physical body unless I allow it. The human invasions were considered waves of pests not a true invasion force so they were never met with our full might," Alucard smirked evilly. "I may yet have you as my No Life Queen my dear Integra if we face a sufficient invasion force."
"Interesting idea but you will not claim me until I release you to do so, if ever," Integra reminded him, smirking at his petulant pout.
"Tea?" Walter, her very dangerous butler and weapons master, offered as he slipped into the room shortly after she had finished dressing.
"Yes, please. The Queen is finally addressing the perfidy of the Wizengamot and the magical summons has been activated. I will need to be there by 10 so we need to either reschedule everything for the day or get what we can done before I have Alucard take me to the ceremonial Wizengamot meeting room. I am almost inclined to let him play a bit with them once we arrive," Integra mused. Walter promptly set out her early morning tea before quietly dismissing himself to start arranging everything for whatever had affected both Vampire and woman so suddenly, reluctantly leaving the pair to talk. "I would imagine someone managed to present enough proof to her majesty that she finally feels they must be called to account."
"It will be my great pleasure to escort you my master," Alucard agreed before melting back into the shadows in search of a meal. He would need his strength to walk safely among the magic users at his future mate's side, protecting her from attack and happily playing leashed guard dog. After all no one knew he could shatter the remaining bindings with barely a thought.
Albus too many names Dumbledore woke with a pained gasp as the summons throbbed in his mind, magic, and very blood. It burned in his veins, accusing and punishing him of what he knew not. His aching aged bones groaned as he hobbled out of bed, heading for a pain potion he kept for student caused headaches. His trembling hands fumbled at the vial in the bathroom only for it to fall and shatter on the stone floor. He slumped there breathing hard against the pain until a house elf found him at around 7:30 and was popped to the hospital wing. Poppy hurriedly dosed him with a strong pain potion and sent a house elf for his clothes. His shamed explanation of a rough Wizengamot summons hurrying her to help as the only way to ease the suffering of her patient. A quick breakfast, a word to Minerva, and a floo trip with multiple pain potions in his pocket got the old goat to the meeting room on time, instantly ending the pain he had been in and leaving him baffled as to why he had been punished.
At 9:50 am a shadow formed in the corner of the room before melting away to reveal Alucard and Sir Integra. The quiet murmur and hateful looks aimed at the head of the Hellsing organization and current Head of the Hellsing family made Alucard grin evilly. The pair talked to no one and simply took their seats, waiting for the show to begin.
"Does no one know why we were summoned so roughly?!" Dumbledore asked with exasperation at precisely 10:01 am.
In answer to his question the door to the room opened admitting three very familiar wizards dressed in barely seen full protective dragon hide armor crossed with dueling robes under the mantle of their orders of knighthood. The cloak-like mantle was primarily blue with red edging and had the insignia of their rank within the Victorian Order of Knighthood settled over the heart.
Upon laying eyes on the trio Integra barely managed not to jerk in her seat or lunge to her feet in open shock. Only Alucard's steady hand kept her in her seat as his low quiet laughter steadied her. It took a second of processing what she was seeing for her own amusement to bubble in her veins and quietly out of her throat in a soft laugh to match that of the Master Vampire at her side.
Severus and Marvolo had chosen to flank Harry as they entered the room. This was done partly because he had a higher rank within the Order of knighthood and partly because he actually was their commanding officer in this rush to get everything into place. As the only one with enough basic intel on the enemy to get them even remotely ready Harry basically ranked everyone who wanted to live while the stupid ones tried to thwart him for threatening their personal power base and fiefdoms.
"Sorry we're late. Got held up by one of Dumbledore's flunkies trying to kidnap me and drag me off to be locked up until the proper moment," Harry explained scathingly. The trio did indeed look slightly ruffled and peeved to the observing Wizengamot members.
"Harry, my boy, what are you doing here? You should be at home with your relatives, enjoying the summer," Dumbledore said in open shock. Yes, the brat had disappeared and he had the order still looking for him after the brief encounter at Malfoy Manor in which the peace treaty had been forcible signed but he hadn't expected anything like this.
"You don't get it Albus. I Am An Adult! Both the Goblet of Fire and that stupid Trial magically declared it. Then there is the fact that I've time traveled to save your sorry hides when the invasion finally hits. Keep trying to force me back to being your little puppet weapon and you'll find out exactly how good I had to become during the invasion when I beat you in a duel," Harry told him harshly. "Now, since not everyone here will know who we are lets get the formal introductions out of the way. I am Sir Harry James Potter, Lord Potter-Gryffindor-Hufflepuff, Heir Black, Heir Peverell, Duke of Clarence. I would also be Lord Black but I didn't have time to go through the magic testing and the typical recovery period or checking to see if Sirius somehow had a kid with someone that no one knows about. To my right is Sir Severus Merlinus Emrys, Lord Prince-Emrys-Le Fay, formerly Severus Snape. To my left is Sir Tom Marvolo Riddle, Lord Slytherin-Gaunt-Ravenclaw, Duke of Sussex, affectionately known as Sir Marvolo, formerly the Dark Lord Voldemort."
The ripple of hysterical shock and open denial that ran around the room had the trio and the Hellsing pair biting back laughter. The pale spluttering of Dumbledore as he fought not to faint was most enjoyable for the newly Knighted trio.
Narcissa Malfoy broke the building hysteria with a simple sweetly asked question, dropping the notice-me-not spell she had donned at Dumbledore's arrival. "Have you boys finally consented to actually buying proper wardrobes?" She had arrived with her husband as was allowed due to the occasional need not for the Wizengamot member themselves but rather their spouse to help get certain things done with a minimal amount of fuss and upheaval.
"Er, no? The Queen insisted that we were dressed in our Knighthood mantles and in armor underneath just in case someone was an idiot and attacked us while we acted as her representatives?" Harry offered, confused at the question.
Severus and Marvolo on the other hand stiffened and had to slam their Occlumency barriers closed to keep control of their fear. The Malfoy husband and wife team were well known for their terrifying shopping sprees and overhauling of people's wardrobes. Terrifying fashionistas, the pair of them, and Draco was looking to be the same once he was more confidant ambushing colleagues and classmate for impromptu shopping expeditions.
"We'll just have to fix that later," Narcissa muttered under her breath to her husband, who murmured agreement.
"Right, well you were summoned here because the Ministry of Magic and the British Wizarding World are in violation of the Royal Charter and Magna Carta as well as the Bill of Rights. As such, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, acting fully in her name and under her authority we three Knights are demanding an explanation for such breaches. What the hell do you think gives you the right to ignore the law and play god?! Especially with an invasion on the way!" Harry demanded angrily.
"What invasion?" someone asked stupidly.
"This one," Harry said savagely as he dumped his prepared memories into the projective viewing pensive for them to watch. Most of the assembly watched in open horror as there way of life was destroyed and the very survival of all known peoples was threatened by the invaders. There was no hint of what they wanted aside from conquest for Harry had never known and the enemy had made no demands beyond a few subversion and the occasional enslavement attempts.
"Well that was bracing. We will need to start immediate mobilization and training of new recruits," Integra drawled, breaking the horrified silence once the memories had ended. "I presume you are checking to see how helpful the magical community will be and if you need to revoke the charter on behalf of her majesty?"
"Essentially," Harry agreed with a stubborn tilt to his jaw. "The last time the Ministry of Magic was basically decapitated and wiped out in a single stroke. The crown and top muggle military officers had a touch more warning because of how arrogant the Ministry was, completely dismissing the non-magical side and basically acting as traitors. It gave a false representation of the crown that saved part of the royal family and enabled us to regroup fast enough to form something of a defense. Because of the multifaceted nature of the enemy and the various slave races they used those with magic became a vital part of the defense and every warded location ranging from Diagon Alley through Gringotts to the old pureblood manors and estates quickly became the only fortresses and safe zones for anyone who wasn't an invader. To say that the Statute of Secrecy came crashing down during the first attack is a bit of an understatement as everyone sought shelter together, fighting together, dying together. Learning that magical blood adoptions of non-magicals sometimes gave a young enough child magic and often did give magic to the grandchildren was a shock but one we capitalized on whenever possible. Re-introducing magic to the royal line and activating ancient defenses of the land gave us enough breathing room to send me back to try and keep us from loosing."
"I was an accidental hitchhiker via his famous lightning scar while Severus was specifically chosen to aid Sir Harry. Our battle and the deaths of so many magicals the last time held off the invaders for less than 50 years. No such magic flares amplified by thousands of magical deaths will happen this time, largely because Potter returned my sanity as another side effect of this Hail Mary attempt. Once we realized what had happened we saved Harry from his abusive relatives, healed him, and set to work," Marvolo informed them with sadistic amusement.
"Are you going to continue trying to massacre people?" Integra asked archly.
"Not unless they threaten our nation or the Royal family," Marvolo said ruefully. "During our explanation of the danger to the Queen Harry finally broke down and used his grief fueled magical outburst to re-power the palace wards. Doing so however had the side effect of etching the Vassal Oath to the Crown, originally taken by Severus, and the Regency Oath, originally taken by Harry, into our very bones. It is now impossible for the three of us to go against the Queen. Our own magic wont let us."
"Then we need to start coordinating immediately," Sir Integra Hellsing declared firmly.
"My dear, you are little more than a child. We are much more experienced in such things and this august body will make the best decision possible," Dumbledore said condescendingly. "Such an important decision must be carefully considered and properly arranged."
"You have a death wish," Severus told Dumbledore flatly before turning and addressing both Integra and Alucard. "I have nothing to do with this! Leave me out of whatever idiocy he's trying."
"Do you, child of the Emrys, consent to allow his punishment at the hands of the No Life King?" Alucard rumbled in interest.
"We can't kill him, it would just turn him into a martyr," Marvolo pouted. "As much as I want to it would cause everyone to fight us when we need to be preparing for war."
"Reputation destruction it is," Harry muttered softly enough so that only Severus, Marvolo, and Alucard could hear him.
"This is preposterous!" Fudge blustered.
"No, its really not. Incidentally, Dumbledore just insulted Vlad Dracul, also known as Count Dracula and now Alucard on all of your behalf. I for one am inclined to tell him he can have a pint of blood from each of you as reparations for the slight to himself and his fiance/future mate. I saw what he could do on the battle field and was the only surviving witness to his rampage when Sir Integra was captured and tortured by the enemy in an attempt to force him to heel and against the rest of us. Marvolo doesn't count since he didn't actually survive after I was forced into killing his insane self on the first go around. He just has a copy of my memories, courtesy of our mind link and the scar he left behind the night he killed my parents," Harry told them flatly. "We can't afford the fall out from killing Dumbledore regardless of other circumstances."
"Nosferatu, Harry is right. We can't afford for Dumbledore to die as you would likely do for the open insult to your future Countess. Will you accept the option of acting as punisher for the determined punishment in recompense?" Severus asked carefully.
"I am extremely tempted to adopt you and the green-eyed imp, little bird. A cup of blood from the three of you and a copy of the memories of my vengeance in addition to administering the punishment will satisfy me for this insult," Alucard bargained.
"I don't mind. What about you guys?" Harry shrugged.
"As long as he drinks it directly rather than keeping it around for other uses. I don't mind such an alliance," Marvolo agreed.
"Alliance? I just thought he wanted a snack. Its not like I haven't fed him before," Harry asked curiously. He wasn't bothered one way or another as he had fed the man repeatedly in the other time line.
"Perhaps I had best view the memory first," Alucard said with a considering frown.
"Okay, just don't go rummaging around," Harry agreed easily. It wasn't like the other Alucard hadn't done this before when they were pressed for time in a heated battle.
"... Exactly how much of my abilities are you aware of?" Alucard asked suspiciously.
Harry just grinned evilly at him and refused to answer. Grumbling about impertinent imps Alucard unnecessarily placed his hand on Harry's forehead and watched the memory. When he let go and took a step back he had a peculiar look in his eyes. Alucard's entire stance shifted from a lazy deadly arrogance to that of a soldier respectfully greeting a superior.
"Mors Magister, Magistri Generalis Magus Princeps," poured from Alucard's lips in a declaration and recognition. Giving Harry a bow of respect he immediately returned to Integra's side, watchfully guarding her as if a jealous shadow at her back. His eyes gleamed in satisfaction and contentment at understanding something almost no one else there could hope to comprehend.
Harry's mind immediately translated the words as they echoed around his skull. Mors Magister - Master of Death. Magistri Generalis Magus Princeps - Master Mage General.
"Eh, yeah. Didn't have much choice in either case but I did my best to get the job done," Harry shrugged. "Please don't start acting weird."
"I will enjoy this invasion little mage general," Alucard chuckled evilly. "I acknowledge Harry James Potter as my first born among the mages of this day."
"Wait, what?!" Harry spluttered as most everyone else choked on a gasp of shock. Alucard's laughter echoed around the room even as his magic and the magic built into the very foundation of the ceremonial room sprang forwards to engulf Harry briefly before sinking into his body.
"What did you do to my imp?!" Severus snarled even as he dragged Harry protectively behind him with his ebony wand aimed at the Master Vampire.
"If he reciprocates then it will be interesting to discover if you will claim him or if he will claim you, little bird," Alucard practically cackled. "Once the claim is done the bond will ignite and you will discover exactly what I have done to my newly adopted son for his eventual mate will share in the gift."
Dumbledore studied the way that the Knights and Vampire were facing off as an idea slowly percolated into his brain. The way Severus was so protective gave spark to the original lamented idea of pairing them before having Molly or Ginerva raising their brat as the pair rotted in their graves. Not only would he get the Potter, Black, and Prince estates with this new knowledge he would also get the Le Fay, Emrys, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor ones as well. If he could arrange for his little rebellious weapon to finish off the stubborn bastard of a Dark Lord on top of that the child would also have Slytherin, Gaunt, and Ravenclaw by conquest through Harry. The two muggle estates meant nothing and could be easily dismissed.
"It is perhaps unfortunate that Mr. Potter needs to finish his education. As he does not have his NEWTs and is a student of Hogwarts as well as my ward I can not in good conscience allow him to participate in any war effort until he has graduated. Severus too must return to Hogwarts, he is under a magical teaching contract just as Potter is under a magical student contract," Dumbledore said solemnly, interrupting the face off.
"Actually, I am Harry's current guardian," Marvolo smirked, brandishing the copy of the new guardianship paperwork and sending everyone in the room duplicates. "I'll admit the vampire's adoption of the imp was a shock and will need to be discussed but prior to our entering the room this morning it was considered that you might try the guardianship card or something similar. Your placement of Harry with magic hating muggles who nearly killed him this summer and who have repeatedly starved him, possibly stunting his magic and certainly stunting his growth make you unfit. The Queen ordered the situation changed with the agreed back up plan of drafting him into the military upon his body's sixteenth birthday if you somehow got around this. She has the paperwork to seize him as a kidnapped draftee all signed and ready to be handed to Sir Hellsing. Which is part of why I suspect that Sir Hellsing was not informed of the recent developments until now."
"Even so the magical binding contracts require them to be at Hogwarts for the school year by September 1st unless I formally make allowances as Headmaster. Allowances I am not currently inclined to grant. I have tenure until I am proven medically unfit or unless I step down so attempting to remove me as Headmaster is largely futile," Dumbledore countered firmly.
"Then what happened in second year? I'm pretty sure the mess last year was Umbridge playing god and overstepping authorities since she kept threatening to send students to Azkaban and made us use a blood quill in detention," Harry asked curiously, aiming his question at Lucius rather than Dumbledore.
"Full Suspension, pending an investigation into reckless endangerment of the students," Lucius answered with a shrug. "Hogwarts holds practically all of our children during the school year and as such a threat to Hogwarts is a threat to our entire nation. Had I known of your abuse I would have ensured you were removed from the situation, as most responsible wizarding adults would have. I would have adopted you myself had Dumbledore not hidden you away and controlled everything around and about you. Narcissa and her sisters are your closest living wizarding relatives beyond Sirius Black. You should have been placed with one of them or your godparents but you were disappeared to quickly and Dumbledore had too firm of a grasp on the defenses surrounding you. As for Madam Umbridge... if you have proof to hand we can try her right now for child abuse, torture, extortion and a few other things."
Harry simply retrieved his previous memories, dumped various ones from fifth year into the viewing pensive and dropped the light glamour on his hand covering the scar from the blood quill. In the face of overwhelming evidence Umbridge was stunned pending transfer to Azkaban and promptly convicted with a sentence of being KISSed after three years in the high security ward of Azkaban.
The double check of Dumbledore's claim however confirmed that the two wizards would have to return to Hogwarts for the next school year.
"He's not staying in the Gryffindor dorm and you can't stop him from attending to his other duties both as a Knight and as a Lord," Marvolo pointed out flatly, seething at how they had been out maneuvered. He did not want either Harry or Severus under the old man's control in any fashion and suspected that the Queen would be equally displeased by these events.
"He is a Gryffindor student. Students stay in their house dorms," Dumbledore said firmly.
"~I can always stay in the Chamber but the place needs some work,~" Harry hissed in parseltongue.
"~If I can argue you into staying with Severus the two of you can watch each other's back,~" Marvolo countered before swapping back to english and once more addressing Dumbledore. "I can request that both of them are summoned daily by the Queen. You can't stop them, the castle's magic will help them get there every single time. Knowing you'll throw a fit if Harry stays in Salazar's Chamber of Secrets as the only Parse;mouth aside from myself I suggest a compromise. Harry can stay with Severus for the year and they can use his floo to attend to any duties off of school grounds rather than having to permanently adjust the wards to allow for them to use apparation or a re-usable portkey. They will have both any way even as they are entitled to free passage due to their titles and responsibilities."
Dumbledore was backed into a corner but he didn't particularly mind as he had already started plotting how to get the pair to agree to an arranged marriage with a contract that he would personally write. A simple falsely reluctant nod sealed his agreement, with the pair already living together it would be simple enough to arrange for their marriage once the school year was underway. No, to him, their future child was worth far more than a simple concession on living quarters. If he managed to gain ultimate control over the pair in the mean time then who was he to complain? After all their first born would make a lovely addition to his family whether by marriage or by adoption.
The stinging hex that hit Dumbledore in the rear startled everyone as the old goat's yelp echoed through the room. Everyone turned in the direction of where the spell had come from only to stare at the portrait that had never been there before. The scowling pair glaring at Dumbledore from within the ancient frame unnerved a good portion of those in the room.
"Quit plotting to hurt our son," Merlin demanded indignantly.
"We may have sent him forwards in time to help stop the next invasion but you don't have any right to him," Morgan Le Fay agreed firmly. Both of them were scowling. "We've watched you play puppet master with the ruling body for long enough old fool. Touch our son and you'll find yourself in a blood feud you will lose."
Harry broke out into belly aching laughter as he found himself rolling on the floor in mirth.
"Imp?" Severus demanded uncertainly.
"You really do have the same kind of luck as me!" Harry wheezed before once more succumbing to laughter.
Marvolo sighed with a see what I have to deal with? look shared with both Lucius and Narcissa before hitting Harry with an over powered sobering charm that temporarily ended the gales of laughter but left the smirk on Harry's face.
"You've forced my son to concede to teach your brats for another year now get out of my sight before I hex you all the way to hell and back," Merlin demanded.
"Now, there must be some sort of misunder..." Dumbledore began only to cut himself off with a yelp of pain. He quickly started dodging the increasingly nasty spells that the portrait was tossing at him until he was literally run out of the room, ending the Wizengamot session.
"You'll have to attend the school but one of my visions also told me you'll need to open the writ and revoke the charter," Morgan said with wistful sadness. "Your friend Marvolo can handle the pompous fools while you school the children so they have a chance to survive."
"Thank you," Severus offered with a hard swallow. These were his parents.
"I promise you that had we been given a choice we would have kept you and raised you ourselves my son," Merlin said sadly. "We weren't given that chance so we did what we could. You will find many of our gifts to you on your own so I won't spoil the surprise. We will always be willing to talk with you should you but wish to speak with us."
Severus nodded but left with Harry and Marvolo a short time later.
The Wizengamot and all of the officials in each of the magical territories that fell under the British magical charter felt it in their bones when the charter was revoked less than a day after the military debriefing as ordered by the Queen. They instinctively knew that the Queen currently held ultimate authority and had assigned governorship via magical knighthood to Harry, Marvolo, and Severus. Conversely the trio felt the authority settle on their shoulders when Harry broke the seal on the writ. A second discussion with the Queen and the Military brass had had them all agreeing not to bother fighting with the Wizengamot after the previous disastrous session. Marvolo would handle the governing of the magicals while Harry and Severus would deal with being trapped at Hogwarts.
The summer was almost over by the time Marvolo had proper control even with all of his people in the various ministry departments. The last thing they did was have Harry claim the Black Lordship, trapping the green-eyed wizard in bed for a full week after passing the test. Harry was now Lord Potter-Black-Gryffindor-Hufflepuff, Heir Peverell, Duke of Clarence.
The Tribbles spread quickly. Within a week of their first appearance they were everywhere and the government had posted warnings about feeding them as well as bans to keep them out of grocers and food warehouses. Then someone transported a few out of the UK. The ICW came down hard on Dumbledore once they realized the Tribbles had started arriving in his territory of responsibility. A quick discussion with the Queen had a press release issued in both muggle and magical papers detailing the Tribbles, their danger, their apparent inability to stop having babies, and the open encouragement to treat them as pests to kill. The World Health Organization even officially labeled them an infestation that put all food sources at risk. It was the perfect opportunity to start showing magic as a useful tool. Between the wards and the Tribble hunts magic was becoming almost easily accepted everywhere across the globe as the open integration began.
The Headlines had turned out to be very interesting over July and August, not just in the magical world but in the muggle world as well. It was later agreed that the wave of Tribbles had broken the Statute of Secrecy about magic world wide. This was largely because of the threat they posed to anything edible and the fact that magic could be used more effectively against the pests than non-magical means to kill them and keep them at bay. This led to liberal use of magic and wards everywhere in an attempt to stop the flood of constantly pregnant voracious fluff balls.
The second thing that cracked the Statute in two was that no one had remembered or realized that revoking the Wizarding Charter on the British Magical world actually cascaded and affected every area that had been a colony or otherwise a part of the British Empire. As a result half the world and most of the west suddenly fell under the authority of the crown. This also unexpectedly applied to the non-magical side as they had been granted autonomy with the understanding that should dire circumstances require that the wizarding charter be revoked all such granted autonomy was as well in an effort to preserve and protect the Empire. No one had thought at the time that the Empire wouldn't exist due to political and economic actions when the charter was revoked. The sudden magical enforcement of oaths of office crippled most of the non-magical protectorates that now answered directly to the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth had suddenly found herself in command and ownership of India, Australia, Canada, as well as the United States and anything under US control or ownership. As such, combined with the sudden magical enforcement of oaths of office, she was suddenly dealing with aids and the much reduced number of people who actually managed to uphold their oaths as the skeleton governments started reporting in. She was extremely grateful that her three magical knights had told her what was coming and explained how to fight it.
Once things were back under emergency control the Queen started ordering her new/old territories into readiness for the coming invasion. The next thing she did was order a briefing on the building situation assembled and delivered to her fellow government heads to assuage their defensive prickling, complete with a recommendation of immediate full muggle-magical integration. She had no intention of wasting resources on fighting fellow humans when all indications and proof that Harry had brought to her pointed towards otherworldly and inter-dimensional invaders.
It was decided that the Laws would have to mostly wait until after the invasion. For the moment anything involving necromancy or mind control of any type was deemed banned as was anything that did permanent or accumulating harm to the castor. Any duels could not be to the death or permanent maiming due to the incoming war. Magical Sentients were required to take reasonable precautions due to dealing with their instincts and needs to avoid harming the humans but were otherwise mostly deemed equals on the grounds that no one had time to sort out the shit laws surrounding them. Persecution of cast spells was ordered done by intent and using truth spells/potions became status quo with repeat offenders getting appropriate jail time or assigned to the future front lines after six serious infractions.
Animagi were to be treated slightly different as there was less risk of disastrous consequences with the Statute of Secrecy gone. Registration was required by a year and a day after the first successful complete transformation both ways on command. This was to be done under the real legal name with the individual markings confirmed during registration up to the, unlikely, third animagus form. No one thought you could get a second form but it was still rumored that Merlin had two animagus forms so they were saying three to be on the safe side. Anyone who managed a fourth one didn't have to officially register it. Failure to register the first three forms in a timely manner, without using it for undue mischief which carried a multiplier on the fines depending on damage done, resulted in increasingly heavy fines followed by jail time on the fourth strike.
Learning to be an animagus had to be done with adult supervision. Said supervision was required to hold at least an E Transfiguration NEWT or higher unless tended to by a certified Healer and/or Potion Master. Any attempts at learning to be an animagus without supervision resulted in six months bound in magic suppression cuffs regardless of other circumstances barring medical restrictions. Students were also required to submit their names to the school staff as well as the date/time of the first transformation attempt so that they could be monitored.
By September first integration had begun world wide and the newly re-created British Empire was rapidly shifting to a war footing. A special issuing in every single news outlet, muggle and magical, within the Empire explained the situation in full and what can be done to help at every level. There was also a summary of Harry's home life along with a recap of why the magicals hid with Harry's abuse combined with the longer life spans and memories used as the explanation for why they continued to hide. By the time the more combat oriented invaders would start showing up the three magical knights had been acknowledged as veterans and unofficially recognized for sounding the alarm.
Harry and Severus were charged with developing the necessary learning materials to increase people's survival and testing them at Hogwarts among the students. This was partly to keep them in the loop while trapped and to get as many things sorted as fast as possible. The moment they had something remotely viable to get people taught, even if it later needed updating or already covered other training being offered, it was going out to the public.
Diagon Alley was packed as the three Magical Knights went about shopping for school supplies. They had been ambushed by the Malfoys as they arrived in the Alley. Severus had needed to put in his his teacher's orders and Harry needed to get this year's school supplies. Both men had every intention of speaking to McGonagall at the school about offering extra classes on the weekend run by the pair of them and of Harry dropping a class or two, in some cases even potentially testing out completely.
Marvolo had plans to check in at the school often not only to check on his fellow Knights but also to see his old classmate Minerva McGonagall. However, he was in the Alley with both Harry and Severus that day acting the overly protective parent to both of them. With all of the changes none of the three had been overly comfortable being separated for any real length of time, trusting each other to watch their backs. They all knew that Dumbledore might have allowed Harry and Severus to share quarters but that the old man would do his best to keep Marvolo from any potential control or influence of Harry that he could manage. With the revelations of Severus' ancestry Marvolo greatly suspected that the same would happen to Severus if the man could manage it.
"Thanks for coming. I'm sorry that you had to deal with a friendly ambush," Harry said, embarrassed.
"Not at all," Sir Integra assured him. "Alucard needed some time out and about without slaughtering things and I have needed to come to the Alleys for quite some time but never got around to it. The fact that the three of you haven't become comfortable enough yet to separate for overly long and Alucard's sudden need to stalk you as his adopted child just slotted together well."
"I haven't been stalking him, I have been checking up on him," Alucard protested. He was in his typical red trench coat, seal marked gloves, orange glassed, and red hat.
"All three of you need new wardrobes," Lucius said firmly to the three captive Wizards.
"Lucius, I have fought you and your wife on the matter repeatedly. Do you really think you are going to win this time?" Severus asked, unimpressed.
"I'm paying for all three of you and yes, they will be appropriate for both combat and for the disasters your class rooms turn into because of inept dunderheads playing with potions rather than applying themselves. I am also not insisting on more than a single non-black robe but I am buying at least you and Potter Dragon hide combat robes, trousers, boots, and vest. My Lord, I would be happy to purchase the same for you if you would so desire," Lucius informed them.
"Thank you, Lucius," Marvolo said agreeably. He wasn't stupid enough to reject that kind or protection with a war on the horizon.
"I'll need it set up with room to grow both in height and width so that if it gets to tight I can pull the stitches and adjust it myself in a pinch. Most people are going to need stuff they can link together and customize on their own but that will still be effective protection. Tailors or at least getting at the ones who managed to get behind wards fast enough wasn't always possible. My less than pleasant upbringing became a serious asset because I knew how to fix things without magic or re-purpose stuff as needed," Harry mused. "Maybe I should talk to the goblins about that? If they adopted the same set up with their armor or at least the armor they made for other people it would really help."
"What about my armor, little imp?" Alucard pouted playfully.
"What armor? You never bothered," Harry retorted, making the Vampire laugh.
"Now that we've gotten most of the basic war things published we will have to start working on Dumbledore," Marvolo noted, nodding at a nearby paper stand. "Any training manuals we manage or supplementary spells and fortification tips can go out in special editions and pamphlets."
"First thing is to have the right reporter and get them focused on how Dumbledore is risking everyone's lives by forcing us back to Hogwarts so that we can't help with the defenses. That old goat controlling fool is going to get people killed. Hell, he's already gotten people killed with his games and his manipulations," Harry mused, eyes narrowed in evil plotting thought. "Then we should start releasing some of the dirt we have on him mixed with his habit of sending kids into danger whether its sending them back to a bad home situation or the mess that were my adventures each year. The situations with Ariana Dumbledore, Gellert \, and the three of us all come to mind."
"I'll sort out the reporter and if you give me the relevant memories, possibly with a memory of a verbal summary of your conclusions and the arguments then we can present it as a case for both reporters and the Queen. I am certain that she will want to know about it. As you know I have copies of your memories but that doesn't mean they will fit together in the correct sequence because we have different thoughts. I plan to go through them on my own and see the pieces to pick up on what you might have missed combined with my own memories and information," Marvolo pointed out. "Also, if you'll recall the Queen wasn't exactly pleased with Dumbledore's forcing the two of you back into his control or the fact that the old fool basically has control of the magical children for most of the year especially with the potential hostage aspect. This may become a royal character assassination supplemented by a judicial ruling."
"Are we playing spies as well as captives?" Harry asked with a grimace.
"Yes but our primary concern is to get everyone to a basic survival level and avoid whatever Dumbledore is trying to trap us with," Severus clarified. "We must remain mobile and accessible to the Queen as well as capable of providing any other support required. We can not afford to be Dumbledore's practical prisoners and puppets."
"Considering what he managed to put everyone through the last time around? I heartily agree!" Harry shivered at his memories of the mess and fallout of Dumbledore's plans. The plan to destroy Marvolo had worked but that didn't mean it was quick or clean or even easy to recover from for anyone.
"It may not be avoidable," Alucard warned. "You may have to simply accept being trapped at Hogwarts and train as many as possible regardless of other restrictions placed by the meddler. If nothing else you can also use the time to see about re-enforcing the defenses there since it is an old yet effective stronghold. You can also run battle simulations and skirmishes with enough people to hand. Non-lethal ammunition shouldn't be a problem between pillows and prank spells and the like."
"Having the children go to school and board there during the year is likely to be one of the biggest assets we have. They will have worked out secret passages, places to hide from adults, choke points to use against attackers, and basically all manner of things as the castle is their home turf. This will extend to the older generations who attended school there," Integra added. "The constant use by children will also have required that the upkeep will have been maintained on the location as well as kept many of the defenses in good order if not added more."
"Actually, I know for a fact more than half the magical wards have been tampered with or taken down at the school," Harry grimaced. "It is going to be a bitch and a half to fix. We can't afford to fix some of them until the fighting actually starts either since some of the older emergency ones are based on willing sacrifice. The person or creature has to die at the edge of the wards with the intent of dying to protect those within. I can't argue that it isn't effective and at least it is set up to take anyone of any blood, status, or species even if the power level provided tends to be different. On the upside its designed to encompass Hogsmeade and a bunch of land surrounding both castle and town, including the forest, within a separate set of outer wards when everything is working right."
"Focus on one thing at a time," Marvolo reminded him with a sigh. "I'll see about trying to get ward masters to you at the school but that may have to wait for Dumbledore's removal or at least his incapacitation. No, Alucard, I am not asking you to incapacitate him no matter how much I would enjoy the situation... maybe later as a private matter between men but not now. We have to at least look like we are trying things through supposedly proper channels first."
"I'll need those adventure memories both past and future to present to the board if you want me to try and get him out for any length of time that way. Actually, I think I'll want them any way. The old man has gotten away with too much in regards to our children over the years," Lucius scowled.
"Dumbledore destroying memories and verbal conclusions in front of a mirror in case of a viewing pensive to both of you, got it," Harry agreed. He was happy that he had one less thing to worry about getting done. "We should probably get everyone official copies of all out intel in case one of us gets trapped or incapacitated or something. What a nightmare."
"I'll handle what I can and contact or fetch you for what I can't," Marvolo promised. "The students are already following you for the most part and we need them to survive. I'll broach the topic of basic survival training for the muggle children with her Majesty and see about childless magical families blood adopting muggle children starting with orphans. Any who already have muggle relations of the appropriate age can be blood adopted by relatives."
"No, I will handle approaching the old families first and then the newer ones," Narcissa insisted. "This is a matter for witches and women to handle. We guard the home and the family while the rest of you are off at war. There is a reason for parties and teas being so heavily laden with gossip and espionage over the centuries. Men are often far to straight forwards for this delicate work. They can learn but they are almost never taught from their mother's knee nor can they use some of the more effective non-committal or information gathering techniques. Children, home defense, meals, resource management, much resource gathering, community information, nurturing, healing... all of it and more are our responsibility and have been for centuries. We aren't really built for combat but more as support for our men in the over all."
"We can fight," Integra pointed out.
"Not against anyone we see as a child. Against an open threat to the young and in defense of our home? Yes, most certainly. We actually tend to be more dangerous in that respect, but against anyone of our own species that isn't seen as nearly a full adult? No, not without something being very wrong with that particular woman," Narcissa explained patiently. "Support actions of all types are largely our forte as long as we do not provide the killing blow to a child or a potential ally that would protect the children. Frankly, Integra, you act like a man. It makes me wonder how long you have been surrounded by men to have not learned any of the more useful and dangerous female arts."
"I have not known much female companionship or support," Integra conceded. "Survival depended on becoming a warrior in many respects."
"Ah, then we need to fix that somewhat but it sounds as if you will take well to the female training of my family, the Blacks. Lord Black might I request Permission to train Sir Integra Hellsing in our family arts?" Narcissa inquired officially of Harry.
"Er, sure? I haven't been trained either but it sounds like she might be able to make good use of it while what you've been saying is just confusing to me," Harry admitted.
"That's another thing, we need to bring you up to speed on your family history and training," Marvolo winced. "Even if you never use it you have to know it. It could very well save your life and it will most certainly help with various negotiations in the future. It should have been taught to you prior to Hogwarts and we will need to publish an official apology to everyone you've accidentally offended when we officially publish your life story rather than just the previous tid bit to support our hidden status."
"That... needs to go out soon," Harry grimaced. "It would be best if it goes out within the first coupled of days of school."
"Write it up yourself to avoid a reporter twisting it. Lucius can make certain that it is printed word for word," Severus suggested. "If we pair it with Marvolo's then the impact will be more effective."
The trio continued discussing the press release with Integra and failed to notice the subtle steering of the Malfoys of their direction. When they finally surfaced from their discussion they found themselves inside a high end tailor, much to their surprise. The following discussions involving their wardrobes and various responsibilities were terrifying but Integra somehow managed to keep the two Malfoys reigned into reasonable level and on more combat oriented attire. Something that the knightly trio was immensely grateful for
All in all it was a productive day out and Integra kept it from being equally terrifying.
Start thinking up prank war ideas! Things that can be used to practice combat, spell work, and casting speed among the students like paint ball wars or massive pillow fights! I will want them soon if you want to donate to the story!
Also to Kudo person - BooksAreTheBestWeapons, your name rocks and its a praphrase to live by in so many ways! Just thank you for having that name?! I can't keep quiet about it!
It just occurred to me that some women might be offended by my characterization of female combatants and traditional female war stances of the past 600+ years. This was not meant to offend and is actually scientifically proven in some respects. We, women, can't kill children without serious trauma and our maternal instincts can force us into helplessness when faced with possibly posing a threat to a child which might be our own or someone elses. Its stronger with regards to underage blood relations than those adopted children until we come to view them as fully our own.
Yes, female warriors are possible. Yes, we can kill. The trip up is always going to be killing the children of our own species. This is a survival trait vital to the existence of our entire species. We have to rationalize the target into a threat and essentially non-human for us women to kill a child or have something very wrong in the head. None of which is counting what can be termed mercy kills/acts of mercy as those fall under a different mind set that is generally protective and nurturing. Its a fact, even if it isn't a well known one outside of certain circles.
Frankly, God designed us to be the complement and support of men, the perfect match and mate. As such we are geared more towards support and child rearing to keep our family, people, and species alive.
The rumblings of discontent with suddenly being under the direct rule of the British crown started quietly. The only things that had been openly changed was going from a peaceful stance to a war stance as a country in each new or returned area of crown control and the publishing of information regarding both the coming invasion and the magical community. Yet the quiet rebellious discontent still grew. What stopped it was the shocking royal decree that upon completion of the war against the invaders autonomy would be immediately returned to the previous governments which managed to remain relatively intact through the war. The second decree informed everyone that the three Magical Knights, Harry, Severus, and Marvolo, were charged with being regents should her family fall and had been ordered to claim the crown should they be completely wiped out. The fact that they were bound by magic to uphold this and act in the best interests off all the people they would be ruling actually settled everyone back from nearly open rebellion to a wait and see approach. The only thing truly accepted by all was that such concerns would have to wait until after the war for survival.
Harry and Severus took the train to Hogwarts together. Severus had volunteered to be the on hand staff member this trip and saw no reason to force Harry into sitting with the teenage students. Harry was grateful for not having to sit among many he had watched die and knew there was a good chance he would break down at some point during the term.
"What was it in the package that the Queen insisted we take with us or did you not get the chance to check?" Harry asked a couple of hours into the peaceful train ride.
"Some guns, various bullet sizes and types and a great number of paintball guns. The note indicated that the actual guns and bullets were for the staff to use as examples to practice transfiguring as well as the older NEWT students. The paintball guns are to help train the students in basic safety and use of guns even if it isn't exactly the same as bullet guns. However, I can honestly see using them as is with the right ammunition ranging from all manner of potions through things even a muggle can make and use," Severus answered thoughtfully.
"Good. We can take a few of the paintball guns apart, see how they work, and make more compact ones that use spells for launching, self cleaning, repair, and possibly an expanded ammo container. If we combine the possibilities of the paintball gun with the Weasley twins and your own pranking experience we can really start getting them up to basics in a fight. Think we can talk the ghosts, especially Peeves, into helping them learn situational awareness and that elusiveness skill of danger sense?" Harry smirked.
"Mr. Potter we have been given leave to hijack the entire school and turn it into a survival/combat boot camp if we so choose," Severus shot back with a smirk of his own. "We are on a war footing and our duty is to ensure the survival of the next generation."
"You do realize that there will be open prank wars, specific missions, and combat training of all types? The specific missions will include but not be limited to raiding the teachers rooms, attacking the teachers, capture missions, rescue missions, recon missions, and anything else I can come up with?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Anything we can come up with," Severus smirked evilly as he corrected his teammate. "The room of requirement will become very useful for simulating multiple terrain types. We will have to start with mixed teams immediately, set up target practice areas, arrange for physical training to increase endurance, spells and non-magic survival techniques, first aid and battle field medicine of both types... We have a great deal of work to do."
"Think every Saturday will be enough or should we do it every Sunday as well? Daily after supper? Daily before breakfast?" Harry mused. "The running campaigns both with Peeves and the various teams will cross all areas and time periods but they need times when they won't get attacked and safe zones even if the safe zones move or randomly disappear. Team territories at the start might not be a bad thing and then let them battle for territory for a month or two."
"Morning run before breakfast and anyone who wants to quit, as we will be drafting the entire school for this little project, has to be proficient in first aid and basic survival before being eligible, even the staff," Severus suggested. "I can probably talk Filius into helping get everyone to cooperate and run dueling sessions, both practice and theory."
"Good, good, good. We will need to get the centaurs to help and warn them of the threat but they may already know with their divination skills. The Acromantula will be a bit more difficult but if we have to we can use them as live practice targets if we have to for the older years," Harry said wickedly. "Their venom and bits might be useful for potions but the colony is too damn close to the school for comfort especially with how all of them would enjoy tasty student snacks. The muggle dragon warning comes to mind Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup."
"Apt description," Severus agreed with a grimace. "The Queen and Marvolo had to have spoken at some point as there are other, smaller, items in the package. There were numerous strategy books and multiple schematics with models of every weapon the military uses, complete with ability descriptions. Marvolo obviously charmed the models or commissioned magical versions for us to work with. Models of all troop types with accurate ranks and of some very specific wizards were also included. We can create several card packs for the students to play with that have the truly important information on them. With Filus' help they can be charmed to unlock information with certain combinations or enough use or within certain common games. The same can be done for chess pieces. All of the game models we develop should be exported, especially the cards, for immediate dispersal to the public."
"We should do that for the magical side creatures, and important figures too. If nothing else they have to be able to recognize some things and some people on sight when we are in the middle of a shit storm or a fire fight. If we condense spell information and potion recipes down to cards as well it should help people in a pinch," Harry tossed in thoughtfully. "I know that the Americans have survival playing cards in their muggle camping section at Walmart for around 5 American dollars, probably elsewhere too with various prices. If we have to we can combine the sets into a single stack of cards and make them changeable with a key word so anyone can use it and so that they can flip through each set easily without having to carry around a card deck per subject."
"I think we have a basic outline for Hogwarts but we can send off a few of the game ideas immediately," Severus grinned.
Harry was suddenly struck by how happy the man appeared to be as they plotted. He wanted to see more of this man and knew that with their training methods working out to basically constant pranking he would have the chance. This lighthearted version of a man he deeply respected made him even more attractive. The thought suddenly struck Harry like a punch in the gut, he had been mourning the man in front of him for a very long time. The thought of spending time with him even when Severus was irritable, grumpy, or pissed off held a greater appeal than Quidditch.
Forcing himself back on task Harry tried to think of anything else they could use, either things that had been used last time or could be converted with little trouble. Nerf guns and other Nerf-like weapons were a common muggle toy but their light construction and the nature of the ammo limited their usefulness. Of course if someone could figure out how to soak the Styrofoam in potions without dissolving it they might become marginally useful. The water guns could be used in multiple ways with and without potions but they would be a godsend against fire elementals with a permanent augumenti charm in the water reservoir to keep them full. This was especially true with the high powered soakers. Water balloons were going to be very useful for delivering battle potions.
"So how do you want to play this when we get there? You caught the naughty student and are standing over him until after the sorting?" Harry asked mischievously. "Or are we going to simply act like nothing is wrong and let Dumbledore make the first move? I honestly want to see what would happen if we just flat out announced he is basically holding us against our will and that we plan to run our own survival/defense course on the weekends."
"Between the two of you both you and Marvolo basically own Hogwarts. On the other hand my parents were honorary founders as while they didn't have a direct hand in the school they did arrange for its protection on the muggle side. They prevented most of the persecution from the then wholly muggle government via a royal dispensation according to the records the Slytherin Heads of House are all required to memorize. The magical teacher/student/apprentice contracts could be nullified if we, the three of us, simply claimed Hogwarts as the owners," Severus speculated. "But that could automatically change the school into a residence or a personal fortress unless we specify that it will remain as a school. Alternatively, you could enter into an official apprenticeship with me and then the only thing binding us to the school would be my own teaching contract."
"Severus, I know what that entails. While I don't mind the idea of being your apprentice I don't like the potentially dangerous position that would put you in. You've acted as my shield one too many times for comfort not because you haven't done a good job even with the snark but because I can't loose you like that again. It would break me," Harry warned. "Of the three of us you are the only one who is probably still mortal. Yes, Marvolo might be able to put me back together after loosing you again but would he be able to do it in time? I could care less about your heritage, that's a bonus, not who you are."
"Are you certain you don't want to be rid of me brat?" Severus asked wryly, wholly aware of the irony of the situation. He had been charged with protecting Harry with his very life and had done so in the other time line, dying so that Harry could destroy the monster Marvolo had become. Now his own death would destroy that which he sought to protect with more than the small wizarding community was in need of keeping Harry intact to lead the invasion defense.
"Not on your life," Harry gave him a feral grin. "If I have to petition the Queen to keep you from Gryffindor recklessness I will. Your death does me no good. If you even think of pulling that shite again I will be the one punishing you, not the other way around."
"Be careful that your unpredictable Gryffindor magic doesn't flare and bond us for life, imp," Severus snarked right back. He was slightly unsettled by the truth behind Harry's words. For all the insults and threats of punishment being traded back and forth none of them were said with malice but more often delivered with protective fury. Oh, they would both follow through if it came to it but it was never again going to be with the intent to harm one another. In that moment Severus came to the startling conclusion that not only did he not want to die instead he wanted to stay at Harry's side for as long as the brat would let him.
"I'm not sure that would be a bad thing," Harry smirked but let the subject drop as they returned to discussing how they would handle the opening feast.
Yes, I will be taking prank and training ideas for a very long time.
Thanks go to everyone who has already donated ideas or otherwise helped refine and write this story!
Chapter 18: Opening Feast
I'm not entirely happy about this chapter but I'm putting it up any way. I'll start working more time skips soon.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The ambush by Harry's school friends was expected once they got off the train but that didn't mean Harry and Severus weren't taken by surprise. The kiss Ginny gave Harry had him paling to bone white, something all of his supposedly closest friends ignored. Severus reacted instinctively, snarling at the Gryffindors and yanking an un-resisting Harry back to his side.
"Touch him again Miss. Weasley and we will be having words," Severus told them darkly with a pale, dazed Harry tucked firmly into his side and his wand raised at the students he suddenly saw as interlopers. "He is still working through things you can't even begin to comprehend."
"I'm fine," Harry gave his standard health response even as he fought back the terrible memories in an attempt not to simply be swallowed by them.
Hermione and Ron may not have died in combat but he had still been the one to find their bodies along with that of their children. The immediate need to quarantine the entire area and burn it clean with non-magical fire to safely sterilize it had left nothing to bury of the small family. Ginny and he had a falling out after his little girl was born when he discovered she had been systematically cheating on him and had no plans to stop. They had kept up the public facade and never let the situation affect the children. The last time she had kissed him in public on the cheek like that he had been forced to watch her and their first born son be torn apart in an attempt to break him. Instead of breaking Harry had torn apart the entire enemy platoon with his burst of grief filled magic over the death of his son and killed their executioner with his bare hands. Neville and Luna had needed to knock him out before dragging him away from the pile of gore and bone fragments that remained of both his fallen family and their killers.
"Stay with the Professor, Sir Knight. He will guard your back both against the memories as well as the Bumblebee waiting to sting. Even Merlin Class Mage Generals need time to heal," Luna said sympathetically before she and Neville shooed everyone away towards the castle.
"I swear she has to be some sort of seer," Harry muttered under his breath as he unconsciously clung to the taller man. Severus hummed in wordless agreement as they claimed a carriage for themselves and headed for the school.
"We probably can't pull naughty student act being stalked by the suspicious Professor after that so... over protective bodyguard?" Harry mused as he began to regain some color.
"Or we don't explain ourselves at all and simply lurk near one another," Severus pointed smugly. His imp looked less like death warmed over as they approached the school and the tense muscles, ready for combat, were relaxing. This year might be a nightmare in many ways for the both of them but they would get through this, together.
"Think you could sneak me into a staff meeting? One without Dumbledore in it?" Harry asked curiously.
"I think that could be arranged at least for the majority of the staff. Why? What are you plotting?" Severus asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," Harry said innocently, making the man snort in amused disbelief. "We will need to get the twins there for the meeting, come to think of it."
A proper glare from the taller man had Harry relenting and explaining.
"I want to see how much we are going to have to sneak around them this year. If its like dealing with Umbridge then there will be many late night escapes from the dorm rooms. If, on the other hand, its like when the entire school was against Umbridge, well that's another matter. The twins are fantastic for coming up with prank products and we can use their genius in designing non-lethal support and defense products. The catch is going to be that they work best together and letting one of them die... tends to destroy the other. Its like they are two halves of a single soul or some such," Harry admitted with a sigh.
"It wouldn't surprise me if they are indeed two halves of a single soul... alright, I'll help them with their prank development but Dumbledore is a primary target after the way he forced us to the school," Severus sighed. "I know we were talking about coming back any way to get as many students up to survival levels as possible but the way he basically kidnapped us and is forcing us to work rubs me wrong."
"Ah, you got the notice that I was slotted into the Defense Professorship?" Harry said knowingly.
"Yes, though he still expects you to otherwise act as a student and attend all other classes, which is ridiculous. You need to be able to take points and assign detentions if you are going to keep any kind of control. The fact that he gave you the notice only a few hours before the train left the station is just as bad if not worse," Severus grumbled, upset on Harry's behalf.
"At least its better than what he did last time around and you weren't forced into promising to kill him before we got back," Harry pointed out. "Although, he is already dying from the ring's curse. I'm pretty sure only Marvolo has the counter to it and I'm definitely sure he won't use it to save Dumbledore if he can help it."
"My, whatever gave you that idea?" Severus snarked dryly.
"Maybe I can break that stupid curse Marvolo left on the Professorship," Harry mused, completely ignoring the other man's sarcasm.
"Incidentally... Lucius' memories only got updated to the point where he followed Draco and Narcissa off of the Hogwarts Battle Field. I thought it wise to check as he didn't seem to be doing anything against us but has repeatedly watched Marvolo like an enraged giant snake," Severus put in as an attempt to distract his brat.
"That may have been for the best. He didn't last long after that, a couple of years at best. He died from complications due to how many nasty spells he got hit with while playing host to the Dark faction after Marvolo got his body in the graveyard. Narcissa... died of a broken heart after that, following after him. Draco was safely married with his first born on the way so she felt that she no longer needed to stay without Lucius," Harry explained sadly. "Draco did well for himself and for his family but we will need to knock him on his arse a couple of times since he won't be facing the same life threatening disasters now that we've started changing things."
"Hopefully, the training we are going to give everyone will do the trick but I won't argue if we decide he needs the wake up call," Severus agreed as they got out of the carriage before moving in sync towards the staff table.
The stares from the students were firmly ignored all through the sorting and everything was going far too well for Harry's luck. Eventually Dumbledore stood up to give the standard announcements before finally coming to Harry's official introduction.
"As you all have no doubt noticed by now due to his current seat Mr. Potter..." Dumbledore began only to be cut off and corrected.
"Lord Potter-Black-Gryffindor-Hufflepuff, Heir Peverell, Duke of Clarence. He also happens to be Knight Grand Cross of the Victorian Order of Knighthood," Filius Flitwick informed everyone with open outrage aimed at the Headmaster.
"... will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts this year. He can not give or take points nor can he assign detentions and you will be seeing him in his other classes," Dumbledore finished, completely ignoring the correction.
"So what you are telling us is that young Harry is now a student with a staff position and expected to teach without the same time, authorities, and basic protections that the rest of the staff enjoys?! Albus!" Minerva practically blew up after Dumbledore's announcement.
"Its not like we were given a choice about coming back," Harry pointed out rudely, with enough volume to carry his voice across the great hall. "Both Severus and I might have to disappear at the drop of a hat but Dumbledore used Severus' teaching contract and my student contract to force us here. I'm not saying we definitely wouldn't have shown up for other reasons but we weren't exactly given a choice. I doubt he will even let us off the grounds until summer if he can manage it."
"Potter and I were planning to approach the rest of the staff to see about his testing out or at least a serious review of everything he is supposed to know for NEWTs as it has been well over a century for him since he was last a student," Severus informed the hall dryly. "The two of us have agreed to work jointly in teaching defense and running weekend training sessions that may include, but are not limited too, prank battles and prank wars."
"Oh yeah, that reminds me. Hogwarts? Can I talk to the head elf please?" Harry asked the air with a feral smirk.
"Whats can Yanny bees doing for Master Gryffindor-Hufflepuff?!" Yanny squeaked the moment she popped into the hall in front of Harry.
"Starting now every human in the castle is to be woken up at 5 am. All students and staff under the age of 100 are expected to take a morning run every weekday that will gradually increase their stamina. Madam Pomphrey is exempt as are any that she gives a medical excuse for or who are too sick to accomplish the run. House elves will also be spoken to later about how they may help when the invasion starts and I want the word spread to every single place that has house elves. Everyone is going to have to do their part," Harry snarked, smirking evilly at all of their horrified faces. "Dumbledore is not to have more than 1 lemon drop every three hours and any major school business is now to be brought to me seeing as I am a Founder's Heir and half owner of the castle on top of Dumbledore being in the process of dying from the curse in his withered hand. A curse, might I add, that the original caster put in place on his own family property which Dumbledore stole over the summer. As such I very much doubt the man will be willing to remove it unless we become desperate. Of course since I haven't asked him I don't know that he ever bothered creating a counter so I'm not sure he even can remove the curse."
"And if the weather becomes unbearable?" Severus drawled, glaring at being included in the exercise regime and bringing Harry back on target.
"Should the weather be intolerable for running outside or should the runners not want to bother dealing with the outside that early in the morning they may take a run around the edges of the great hall instead. A morning run is not complete until they are breathing hard for a good five minutes due to the work out rather than from acting. Once they reach the ability to run for 30 minutes without breathing hard for a week, that's with a steady lope not a sprint, then their run days will be reduced to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday," Harry gleefully expanded his original instructions. He completely ignored Dumbledore's spluttering. "The feast menus are fine but all other meals are to contain a larger balance of fruit and vegetables. The grain, meat, and dairy are currently fine. The Halloween feast though is to only have 1 bowl of candy per five students with real food for the rest of the meal. I will allow you to make said real food in any fashion, culinary tradition, and shape the cooks please but there must be real food with the candy."
"Anything else you plan to order changed Potter?" Draco cat called, glaring at the thought of daily exercise and balanced meals. Of course Slytherin was already required to have balanced meals whenever possible thanks to Professor Snape but that was a Slytherin secret.
"In addition to these changes I am recommending to Potter that he have a cycle of only 1 random week a month during which staff and students can rest from the mock wars, mock battles, and training missions we will be running as part of your Defense training this year. Accommodations will be made up to a point for the fact that most of you are still children and need not only rest but a safe time and place to relax. Once we have worked out safe zones those safe zones will be off limits for attacks except during scheduled drills, which will have mandatory attendance. The training may take the form of a game but when you need these skills during the invasion it won't be a game any more," Severus warned sharply.
"The week of rest will include time off from the mandatory runs. Depending on the Professor you may earn other privileges if you do well enough in class. These things you will learn can save your life or the lives of those around you," Harry told them all sternly. "My trip back in time was done to save as many lives as possible and I will personally go after you or set the Weasley twins on you if you do not do well enough. Trust me, hanging upside down naked aside from your small clothes for twenty minutes in the great hall during the next feast is going to be the least of your worries if you don't learn the basics to stay alive."
The silence that greeted this serious pronouncement was deafening.
"You have one month before we start running everyone through dueling, combat, and basic survival exercises. By Christmas everyone is going to be expected to know how to build a shelter, build a fire, find water, find food, and do basic first aid level healing both with and without magic. First and second years are exempt from learning the healing spells until their head of house has decided they are mature enough both mentally and magically to be taught," Harry told them flatly. "This school just became a training/war zone. It will be up to the teachers to argue me into making one class session or another a safe zone. Potions class, due to its naturally dangerous nature, is automatically off limits as a permanent safe zone. The same can be said for Herbology in green house 3 or Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures because of his... unique choices in Creatures to study. The Library is a permanent safe zone/study area as is the Hospital Wing. Any breach of the sanctity of the Library or Hospital Wing will result in the perpetrators being stripped naked, their wands taken, and designated as the primary targets for all teams during a full scale battle."
"The first team battle will occur on the second weekend of October. The multi-house teams will be randomly assigned among those who show up in the Great Hall by 9 am that Saturday. Anyone not on a team will still be a valid target but they will simply have to fend for themselves without a team to help them. If you feel that you need that time for other schoolwork or do not believe you can participate successfully you are to see me with your reasons and a safe zone will be created for the non-participants. Should you choose to specialize as a rescuer or emergency healer in later training you can put in for the modified training at that time. Some specialties will exempt you from parts of the general training while others will require you to do both the general training and the specialized training," Severus informed them evilly. "We, the staff, will be joining in all activities and training. During the mock combat we are valid targets, just like your classmates. Double points will be awarded for taking out a staff member. Those who choose sniper training or marksman training will have to hit specific body parts on your targets."
"Now the other bonus is that Snape will add teaching you prank potions to his lessons," Harry smirked. The sudden interest their plans got for having the staff as valid targets and Snape willing to teach prank potions was priceless. "Depending on points earned both individually and on teams I will personally buy rewards for the top ranked scorers and the top ranked people in each subject and in each training course."
"You can't so this!" Dumbledore spluttered in protest.
"We just did," Severus informed him flatly. "Our goal is to make sure as many people survive what is coming as possible."
"Last time... most of them were slaughtered. The only ones that stood a chance were the DA that I trained last year. So not only am I expanding who is getting taught but we are upping the ante in regards to material and overall skill level to try and teach them to combine it with ingenuity and how to keep their personal grudges off the battle field. The DA was already called for gear over the summer. If I can get them up to basics I can buy them equipment which will keep them alive longer. After the feast those who already have a basic war kit will start wearing them constantly. Someone wants a kit of their own? They ask and start learning a few things I haven't finished working out yet," Harry said firmly. "Medics that apprentice under Madam Pomphrey get a different kit, specialized for Healing. My goal, aside from school wide survival, is that everyone gets a kit and has the understanding how to use it. I'm paying for the basics and if someone does well enough to need special gear for their talents then I'll pay for it."
"Albus, it turned into a multi-decade long war of survival. The only way we have a chance is if we prepare while we still have the time," Severus warned.
"You won't live long enough with that curse to see the next wave. The Tribbles were the very first wave of the invasion, an attack on our food sources," Harry told him flatly. "We are already at war."
The rest of dinner was met with contemplative silence.
Taking mission and target suggestions!
Chapter 19: Slytherin Territory
"What do you think?" Harry asked tiredly. They had just got back to Severus' quarters, now their joint quarters, for a brief stop before addressing Slytherin house as was Severus' custom.
The opening feast earlier in the evening had been memorable and Hogwarts had obliged their joint declarations regarding the school by dissolving the House point counters in favor of setting up currently blank rank postings. The first five team names were posted for people to look over but the student names on the teams were still blank. Point allocations and most rules for assigning them along with the other new rules would be delivered to the staff later. A partial list would be posted in each common room with a student only section and a most wanted/bounty target area list would be added for people to pick special missions from.
The partial rule list was going to be partly to keep people on their toes, partly to encourage them to use their senses to fill in information gaps, and partly to encourage communication between students. The other reason why no one would ever get a fully complete list was because situations could change in a heart beat, changing the mission objective and the restrictions on actions or choices. Murphy's Law and Murphy himself adored when that happened, so did the Devil, it gave them so many opportunities to screw with those dumped into the insanity of the situation.
"The first month will start getting everyone used to the concept and used to running in the morning. Most of the students will bounce back quickly. The other exercise they will get from the mock combat, mock missions, and simply running up and down the castle will help further. Once certain people are at sufficient skill levels we should begin to include water environments and other hostile or potentially hostile environments using Black Lake and the Room of Requirement liberally. Do we want to add infiltration both as detection and as an active mission?" Severus asked carefully as his brat flopped down on to his over filled black leather couch.
"You'd know best on who might work for doing infiltration missions as for detection? The problem comes largely from the existence of compulsions, especially the imperious. You really need to know the other person to figure out if they aren't themselves. The Queen banned using that sort of magic and I was more on the front lines than anything else except when they shoved me back with the military leaders as the only idiot who knew what the fuck was going on... We can start establishing behavior baselines but those same behaviors will change during training and with other experience. Bloody hell Severus I don't have all the answers!" Harry answered, tired and exasperated. "We're reaching the end of my answers until we start actually facing the opposition on the field. The only other thing I can think to do is train everyone into the ground and make sure even the non-combatants have enough basics for E&E."
"Escape and Evasion? Yes, that plus basic survival would be of use to anyone... I don't have all of the answers either. Something you need to remember as both a teacher and a parent you can only give them the tools and guidelines, they have to be the one to choose to use it. Now, are you coming with me to induct the new snakes or are you going to bed early?" Severus reminded him almost gently.
"I'll come with. They need to know I'm not attacking them for being Slytherins or for being from the Dark faction," Harry sighed, dragging himself back to his feet and rejoining his fellow Knight at the entrance to their quarters.
A quick trip down the dungeon corridor and into the Slytherin common room had both Knights facing the neatly arranged Slytherin house ranked by year with the first years at the front so everyone could see and hear everything.
"Welcome back to Hogwarts. For the first years, welcome to your new home and family. There are a few rules being part of Slytherin house, any disagreements between housemates stay in the common room. A united front is presented to the rest of the world at large. Slytherin house is not well looked upon for various reasons and is often thought to be the dark house this is not the case. In fact it is more likely that those who have been hurt or forced to learn cunning early are sorted here," Severus explained silkily. "Something that people forget or never knew is the fact that snakes are extremely territorial and mark their territory well. They also are known to defend that territory aggressively. Snakes can range in size from the very very small to the very large, be venomous or non-venomous, friendly enough to humans to be pets or the most deadly thing you will ever face. The hiss of a cat is in fact an imitation of a serpent's hiss. Snakes are also, depending on species, very caring for any young and very social. The same can be said for Slytherin house. We keep our disagreements with other Slytherins private, behind closed doors. You are home."
The silence that greeted the speech was contemplative and gratifying. Harry chose tow wait a heart beat before stepping into the firelight which was all that illuminated Severus.
"Most of you know me as the Golden Gryffindor, the Boy-Who-Lived - hate that name by the way, or by Draco's nicknames of Pothead or Scar head. I accompanied Professor Snape tonight to assure you that the training we outlined at the feast is meant to be applied equally to all and completely without malice. I don't care if you are Light, Dark, or Polkadot nor do I care if your house is Nest, Den, Burrow, or Pit. Each house animal has its pluses and minuses just as each set of house traits does. Tonight I tell you a Slytherin secret, Dumbledore arranged to trick me into the Lion's Den," Harry told them seriously. "I am, according to the hat during my sorting, able to fit any and all of the houses but my upbringing tipped it so that I would have fit best here. I barely knew some of the dangers of accepting that so I begged for a different house. I know now that was a mistake since I had to immediately hide my inner snake and wear the mask of a lion as a result. That said I use my inner snake to stay alive. This is something most of you already know about, self-preservation, and something we have to teach everyone who isn't a Slytherin in some fashion."
"We will be relying on Slytherin house during training to help teach this knowledge. To make it more understandable and palatable to non-slytherins you will need to drive home that to aid someone else you must first be fit enough to give aid. If one can not render aid to someone that needs it be it to keep the group intact, to ensure the success of the mission, or to ensure one's own health and survival then you arrange for someone else to give that aid. For the younger years you are expected to learn. You may come to me with anything. I have even been known to cuddle homesick students as long as no one blabs," Severus told them, smirking.
"Really?" Harry inquired, eyebrows raised in surprise. Severus never quite smirking even as he nodded confirmation. "Huh, okay, I suppose that makes my own offer of aid a bit redundant."
"Not at all. You are sharing my quarters and may need to handle things in my stead when I am away and something comes up," Severus smirked. "The fact that you should have been in this house from the start simply means we will be re-claiming you for Slytherin house."
Harry felt suddenly vulnerable as most of the house smirked at him. He had no idea what Severus had actually meant by that but he was fairly certain there was more to it than the words actually spoken. In point of fact he suddenly felt like he was being hunted or herded in a particular direction decided by Slytherin house as a whole.
"Marvolo will kill you if you do anything to me!" Harry squeaked as he backed towards the exit to the common room.
"Marvolo is Lord Slytherin, your current legal guardian for all that you don't actually need one beyond as a legal shield, and the Dark Lord. He won't have any problem with my plans for you," Severus' smirk turned predatory. "Whether you want it or not you are an honorary Slytherin. You have been since you tricked the hat into hiding you in the Lion's Den and fooled everyone into thinking you were in fact a cat. Then you went and tricked them into accepting you as one of the stronger Pride members. I can't say you were Alpha if only because Ronald managed to turn the Pride on you so often, cackling like the Hyena he is when consumed with jealousy. I will let you escape any plans I have for the moment but rest assured you are one of ours and we are very territorial. Run along, I'll be around to our quarters shortly."
Harry practically bolted from the dungeon common room as his instincts told him that while the situation wasn't actually deadly he still badly needed to disappear out of the reach of a hunting predator.
"Uncle Severus... are you initiating a Slytherin claim?" Draco asked hesitantly to verbally confirm what they had all witnessed.
"Yes, but I'm considering moving it to a courtship. I hesitate because of his previous relationships in the other time line. He has already flatly informed me that I am not allowed to die. It was implied that I am also not to be taken by the enemy either," Severus admitted. "Of course, he won't realize until much too late about the claim or the ramifications of it. We protect our own. Our loyalty as Slytherins is hard earned but when won... well even the lions and the badgers find the intensity unsettling just as the ravens are often shocked at seeing us using the knowledge we hold. It isn't that we don't have the traits of the other houses but that we are selective for whom we apply them and that cleverness and cunning are primary tools to simply stay alive for many of us. Lions... need more openness than most of us can give safely and they don't usually understand why we armor ourselves so tightly. Any snake that claims a lion as part of their territory will have to work at keeping them out of too much trouble or bring out their inner snake."
"Sounds like we have our work cut out for us then don't we Professor? Claiming Potter for Slytherin won't be easy and we may even have to share him with the other houses," the seventh year male prefect pointed out.
"Yet he should have already been ours should he not?" Severus said ruefully.
"We don't give up territory willingly, Professor," Pansy Parkinson reminded him with a smirk in answer.
"No... no, we do not," Severus agreed thoughtfully before dismissing everyone for bed and heading for his own.
Harry stared at the single bed in the entire apartment with unease. Yes, it was big enough for both him and Severus. Yes, Harry was accustomed to sharing sleeping space as needed largely because of the war. Hot bunking was always a pain in the arse unless you actually managed exhaustion before getting the bed for your allotted 8 hours of sleep but it actually did work when sleep space was at a premium. Honestly, the question on Harry's mind was how badly Severus was going to try to kill him for there only being one bed. Harry could always sleep on the couch but after what happened in the Slytherin common room he strangely didn't think the other man would let him.
"I see Dumbledore removed my guest room," Severus said dryly from behind him, startling Harry out of his contemplation of their bed situation.
"Um, I can take the couch?" Harry offered hesitantly. "I get enough nightmares that I should really have silencing charms around me if anyone else is going to get enough sleep any way."
Severus silently regarded his roommate for the school year. He noted the complete lack of concern for Harry's own health from the imp and mentally growled. It seemed that his Lion trained Snake was going to need careful watching if only to keep him properly healthy. There was no telling whether it was damage caused by the Dursleys or by fighting a war for so long before immediately plunging into prep for the same decades long war.
"How long has it been since you slept next to another human? Just slept? Platonic comfort? Simply being held?" Severus asked gently. Harry looked away, unable to meet the eyes of a man he greatly respected yet knowing the simple asking nearly had him undone. "Will I need to strip you myself or can you get ready for bed on your own?"
"No... I can do it," Harry answered, a lump in his throat as he got ready for bed under his roommate's watchful eye. He washed and changed in the bathroom out of consideration for any modesty Severus may have as the war had stripped Harry of his own body consciousness during the early days.
"Into bed, I will join you shortly," Severus said softly, with a hint of gruffness before getting ready himself.
When the man slipped into bed in his own night clothes next to a trembling Harry and gently pulled him into Severus' own arms Harry's tears came in a flood. Once the tears of joy at simple unassuming human contact had subsided they slept.
Harry bolted upright in bed with a scream that cut off in the middle as he instinctively locked his throat to stay as quiet as possible. Severus' arms jerked the onyx-eyed man awake and had him reflexively pulling Harry back down against him on the bed. Harry thrashed and fought only to be pinned in place by the Potions Master as the larger man rolled over on top of him.
"Wake up!" Severus demanded sharply.
Harry moaned in his sleep, believing he was facing the man's accusing ghost. A sharp smack to Harry's bottom created enough of a disconnect in Harry's mind between dream and real sensation to wake him with a quiet gasp. He lay there panting underneath the concerned former spy as they both waited for the next move.
"You spanked me? Don't you know hitting someone combat trained while they are in the middle of a night terror is a bad idea? Do you have any idea what could have happened if my brain thought you were an enemy before I recognized you?" Harry huffed, trying not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and the irony. His complaint was valid and he had seen the results of injury via friendly fire for acting as an alarm clock. It generally wasn't pretty.
"I had you pinned and the bottom is one of the safest places to smack anyone," Severus said simply. He didn't move off of Harry and Harry didn't ask him too, both still coming down from the night terror induced adrenaline rush.
"Am I your teddy bear then?" Harry asked cheekily.
"Apparently," Severus agreed with deep amusement before shifting them back into a mutually more comfortable position. "Go back to sleep imp. I'm still here and I will be for quite some time."
Severus' growled promise was soothing to Harry, allowing them both to finished the night without further interruption by any terrors.
A week later Severus caught Harry being harassed by the two youngest Weasleys and by Granger for answers. Harry's helpless trapped look aimed at his fellow knight spurred Severus into action. A single mild summoning charm later dragged Harry past his school friends to Severus' side as he glowered menacingly at the three Gryffindors.
Hey! What did you do that for?!" Ron demanded rudely, glaring right back at the Potions Master.
"Professor Potter has better things to do than get harassed by the three of you," Severus informed them coldly.
"He's my boyfriend," Ginny said crossly. All three Gryffindors ignored how pale Harry immediately went, too intent on getting what they were after regardless of Snape to care. Both wizards knew for a fact that the pair hadn't gotten together yet at this point but they also knew that Ginny had been crushing on/stalking Harry since meeting him on Harry's first year trip to the school.
"Have you already told them to stop?" Severus inquired with a politeness that surprised the watching students.
"Yes, they won't leave it... I'll have trouble sleeping tonight," Harry admitted sheepishly.
"We can't afford to let you become addicted to Dreamless Sleep," Severus warned pointedly.
"Do... you want me finding somewhere else to sleep?" Harry asked blankly.
"No, I want you to accept that I won't be letting you out of reach as long as this keeps happening," Severus snorted. They had already had the argument about Harry not wanting to keep waking Severus up and Severus in turn ordering him to shut up and go back to sleep. Harry of course argued he should just find somewhere else so that he wasn't bothering Severus while Severus would often glare him into silence before informing him how stupid he was being.
"Harry has to tell us what's wrong Professor," Hermione insisted.
"He watched you all die and you insist on putting him through more pain?!" Severus finally snapped, his temper getting the better of him. "Perhaps you are not the friends he thought you to be! Lovegood, Longbottom, the pair of you are charged with keeping both Granger and these two Weasleys away from Potter. He has enough night terrors that he doesn't need more reminders around him. There is a reason he is rooming with me rather than in the dorms with the rest of you reckless lions!"
"Harry will need to bond with someone before the next wave. Without the bond he can't lead the defense without self destructing and without Harry... we fall," Luna warned the scowling man sternly. They had come over to the odd group from just next to the great hall when the man had summoned them in a fit of irritated inspiration.
"Required bond type?" Severus asked firmly, determination shinning in his eyes.
Harry's eyes were wide and his attempt to sneak away from the blatantly uncomfortable situation was foiled by Severus snagging him without a glance. Long, strong hands unconsciously drew Harry toward him and tucked the smaller wizard firmly into his side, bodily shielding him from the sight of his school friends and the other students. Harry gave an irritated huff and a punch to Severus' side in a half hearted attempt to get free but the punch only drew a grunt from his dark friend before being firmly ignored.
"Its not time yet and Harry's magic will choose the bond type," Luna shook her head sadly. "He is physically and legally 16, the age of consent and of marriageable age. As this is Scotland he doesn't need anyone's approval for marriage, the same for being drafted into the military. If all else fails a bond of duty will hold him for a time. Ron, Ginny, and Hermione are all ineligible for bonding with him or even a further deep friendship due to the other time line. Neville and I can stand as his bodyguards and Deputies but not as part of the bond. None of his schoolmates are... old enough to keep him stable. Right now you and his Darkness are keeping him relatively stable but the bumblebee wants his grandchildren and both of you under his complete control. He doesn't care that he's dying. He still plans to bind both of you to his line and force you both to give up the baby."
Harry muttered something resigned and rude under his breath but otherwise didn't object to Luna's analysis of the situation. Her seer abilities had saved countless lives even as it made her a high priority target for their enemies.
"I had noticed Dumbledore's attempt at matchmaking. Removing my spare bedroom so that we were forced into sharing a bed platonically was pathetically obvious," Severus agreed cheerfully. His cheer frightened a great many people nearby making him revert to a less frightening evil smirk.
"Severus... son, you are the only one he lets touch him for longer than a few seconds without being forced," Merlin snorted from a nearby portrait. It had taken Severus' parents a bit of effort and time to get to Hogwarts to watch over their son now that they were free to move about but it had been worth it. "He's so touch starved its ridiculous! The fact that he has been successfully hiding his learned fear of touch but lets you touch him whenever you please ever since the start of term says a great deal. I half expect your spontaneous bonding before the term is over. Start cuddling him more."
The orders had both wizards blushing scarlet but neither tried to move away from the other.
Before anyone could comment further Morgana started tossing spells at the shocked trio of lions, chasing them away from the pair of dark haired wizards. The very same wizards who used the commotion to slip away back towards the safety of the dungeons.
Severus wasn't surprised that the large majority of the castle was in decent physical shape. All those stairs were put in place not only because of how old the castle was but also to try and drain off some of the overabundant energy of youth so that the students were actually manageable by the relatively small staff. The fastest secret passageways were all keyed to the staff, something that Dumbledore hadn't bothered doing for Harry, forcing him to use the student routes. None of that changed the pathetic showing for the defense students dodging attacks.
"No! I don't care how good you are at shields, dodging with as little actual movement as possible is going to be your primary defense! Shields need magic to work, physically dodging doesn't. You need to be able to gauge the incoming attack or object whether its a spell, a piece of rubble, or a thrown knife. Without practice automatically tracking anything headed for you, you will get hit!" Harry harangued his class, completely upset over the poor performance. "Shields don't stop everything. If you can twitch to get out of the way instead of throwing yourself off to the side or tossing up a shield then you are more likely to get out of the fight alive! Switch casters and dodgers."
Then again, Severus mused, most of the students didn't learn dodging the way he and Harry did. It was still more barely there reflex for most of the school rather than proper instinctive knowledge used without thought. That would start to change this weekend with the first mock battle. They were starting a weekend early as a pointed lesson in expecting the unexpected as well as the fact that the enemy delighted in catching you with your trousers down whenever possible.
"Your success is marginal at best," Severus announced near the end of the lesson. "Peeves will be given a supply of ammunition and leave to attack any student he sees to try and add to your ability to dodge and sense danger. Safe zones are as follows: The Common Rooms, The Library, The Hospital Wing, and The Great Hall. This will apply school wide until we say otherwise. Possible prizes for doing missions or winning during the mock combat include immunity from attack from a particular person such as Peeves, a temporary safe zone around one's person for no more than 50 feet, a special trip off school grounds to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, or a free shot at a staff member."
"Your prize for a decent showing today was that warning. You have until the weekend to get ready for the first mock battle. Yes, we moved it up. I will tell you now that at one point we will start issuing missions and mock battles with almost no notice and you will be expected to adapt and win even if some of you are suddenly labeled enemies. If you are clever and quick you might not get slaughtered every single time," Harry grinned evilly, just as the bell rung ending the Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw class for the fifth years.
The fifth years quickly gathered their things and bolted from the room. It was agreed by the school that allowing Harry and Snape to team up like this had been a bad idea even if everyone was learning things at a fantastic rate that they would never forget.
"Prank tonight?" Severus asked with deep amusement.
"Yup, the twins will be here by supper. I had them use one of the secret passages. They may be good at creating pranks but I got them to hire people to run the shop so they can help here. I own a third of it any way so insisting they have people hired to actually make anything they've invented and run the shop for the three of us worked out pretty well. I'll start posting specific targets Friday night," Harry agreed with satisfaction. "The sample card sets we came up with that Filius helped on were sent to the goblins this morning. They will handle contacting all of the businesses for anything we come up with ranging from games through training manuals on down to actual defensive and survival items. By contract the goblins test everything and get actual experts that make a living off of the information we are giving out to double and triple check the fact and activity cards. Basic training katas and weapons tips are being assembled into their own decks of cards. There will be several versions that shift between sets on command and then there will be sets that are fixed into only one subject. A collectors set is being marketed as trading cards and the candy companies are interested in possibly distributing versions. Crafting versions, some of which have species specific variants, such as weaving, smithing, pottery, knitting, wood carving, etc. are in research but I don't think it will take long to get them out into the public."
"Good. I sent off the various potion recipes for pranks and the like that I developed at lunch. I made certain to put together a set that anyone can make regardless of magical ability to go with it or it would have been in goblin hands for this project before the end of the first week rather than the first month," Severus smirked.
"Playing cards fit in a pocket and go everywhere with people. All we are doing is giving them more information to carry around and play with. Hopefully it will keep people alive," Harry sighed. "By the way the house elves and curse breakers have finally cleared the chamber as an emergency bunker. The pathway and some areas are still blocked by Parseltongue passwords but since we are using the elves to get everyone there in the first place and most of the tunnels don't need parsel to use it shouldn't be an issue. A team of twelve elves are being rotated as permanent staff down there with more as needed from the castle."
"The new game ideas you came up with to go with the cards will help," Severus promised as they made their way out of the now empty classroom before heading for the dungeons. "I am glad that the chamber is cleared and set up. I hope we don't need it but from your information it may be a necessity."
They had developed a routine of relaxing in Severus' office after classes until supper time while they got any grading done or had office hours if there was no paperwork to be dealt with.
"Dreaming up games that could be played to keep us from going insane and to help relax in the face of such a long war was important. Many a dose of sanity was saved by a new version of a game making the rounds," Harry admitted. "A lot of things became training doubles, games that could double as training, but sometimes you can't move around so you need something to let your imagination fly instead."
Severus hummed in thoughtful agreement before drawing Harry into plotting the battle field for the weekend as Hogwarts attentively listened to their ideas.
Buckingham Palace was bustling with activity as a mix of Gringotts employees and normal staff worked under Marvolo's direction to re-enforce walls, spell doorways, and set up areas for emergency use. The outdoor gardens were being modified to produce food with some areas of the grounds being set up to house livestock. The Queen watched the installation of several larger on the inside magical greenhouses with a frown.
"Your majesty, I am trying to preserve certain areas of the gardens because even as badly as we may need the space to grow food at some point we don't need it yet and the gardens have a soothing effect that will be invaluable medically and mentally. I promise that all of the things we have had to remove are stored safely away in a shrunken state in a secure trunk that also has undetectable expansion charms, ones that are a tad over powered. No harm will come to them," Marvolo assured the Queen as they surveyed the work being done.
"And what of Sir Harry and Sir Severus?" the Queen asked.
"They are doing well thus far from all reports but that may change when Dumbledore finally does more than try and match-make them. A reliable seer has pointed out to them that if they are not careful he will not only forcibly bind them to his family but also take any child they may have together. They are being cautious but the portraits of Severus' parents managed to get themselves to Hogwarts and have started cursing anyone who overly upsets them. Training the school as a whole is coming along nicely and I hope to join them for the first mock battle this weekend with my forces to add an extra twist to the battle," Marvolo summarized. "Also my people pulled from Azkaban are recovering nicely and should be ready for the front lines or other tasks when the time comes."
"Good. See that they are sane and properly recovered in skill, body, and mind with the understanding that old foes are now allies. As to your fellow knights we understand that students and staff may leave the school during winter and spring holiday?" the Queen inquired, eyes narrowed in thought. "Also that the Aurors have been taking advantage of the joint exercises offered to any who wish immediate experience with our military forces for when our unwelcome visitors arrive?"
"Yes, your majesty, to both of your questions. Although, in regards to the school the Headmaster or even the other staff can assign a detention which covers the holiday, preventing the student from leaving. The teaching contract, on the other hand, allows for the Headmaster to require attendance over the holiday as part of their normal duties. While my placement as Harry's legal guardian was largely a protective measure the over the holiday detention trick has been previously used to keep children from abusive homes... or as unofficial hostages in much earlier centuries," Marvolo explained. "As the heir of two of the founders Dumbledore is supposed to acknowledge Harry's authority as partial owner of the school and the privileges that go with that. He has refused to do so and I fear that he may attempt to force Harry and possibly Severus into something. I only have suspicions and personal experience of the man, no actual proof. Refraining from calling them to you appears to have worked to our advantage if only because they have managed to get much of the school started on proper training both for combat and for basic survival. It is also my understanding that the informational cards and various games to help inform those not being officially trained they have been developing are coming along well. I believe that the preliminary versions of the most important ones have already been submitted to the goblins for fact checking, pre-approval, and locating of suitable producers and distributors."
They continued to discuss the potential Dumbledore situation and other parts of the war effort long past lunch.
Ginny Weasley was furious! Dumbledore had promised her Harry and no greasy haired dungeon bat was going to stop her from getting her lightning marked prince. Anyone who touched her Harry aside from their children would die painful deaths.
"How can he do this to us?" Hermione fretted next to Ginny, distracting her from her rage.
"Traitor," Ron seethed. "Slimy snake loving traitor."
"He must be under a potion or something to want Snape over me," Ginny scowled.
"Ah, and what might you three be doing this fine day?" Dumbledore's voice cut through their fog of upset, jerking the three of them back to awareness of their surroundings.
"Harry won't talk to us and Lovegood told everyone that because of the time travel we can't be his friends, that he needs to bond with someone who isn't in school," Hermione babbled desperately to the authority figure who asked.
"Potter would rather spend time with Snape than his friends, the traitor," Ron complained, scowling darkly.
"I don't suppose you considered how out of control Mr. Potter has become? Or the fact that if the two of them bond they can be brought back under proper control?" Dumbledore pointed out mildly as he fiddled with two stuck together lemon drops. "After all we can't have either of them straying from the light. We may have a treaty in place just now but do you really think that Voldemort will obey it for long?"
"But you promised I would marry my Harry!" Ginny complained. "You said we would have a marriage contract and that no one could take him from me!"
"And so you shall. Once they are bonded you can have Harry and keep them both on the right path my dear," Dumbledore agreed cheerfully. "You only need the right contract and they will both bow to your authority as Head of House. Severus can brew all the potions you need and you can have Harry whenever you like... once they are bonded and the two of you are married."
Morgana didn't like what she was hearing from behind the trees in a nearby portrait and she really didn't like the idea that these idiots would be trying to poison her son and future son-in-law with love potions of all things. She would have to talk to Merlin about this. There was no point in letting them know she was there so she waited until the four moved on with Hermione cheerfully plotting, with the active encouragement of the Headmaster, how to drug two Professors into compliance.
"Little Teacher we need a word with you," Merlin intoned from a portrait during a break in the 3rd year charms class. Morgana nodded solemnly in agreement.
Flitwick squeaked in surprise and nearly fell from the stack of books he typically used as raised stand so that everyone could see him.
"Can it wait for the end of class?" Filius asked carefully once he had regained his composure.
"No," Morgana said simply.
"Very well... class research today's spell and similar spells. There will be a quiz next time. I am giving you time in the library for the rest of class and I suggest you use it to find spells that will help you in the mock battle that was announced privately to the staff this morning for tomorrow. I will grant a candy piece of your choice to the one who manages to hit Professor Potter or Professor Snape during the battle," Filius announced. "Alternatively anyone who can land 4 hits on the Headmaster will receive a galleon and a trip to Hogsmeade to buy what you like. Dismissed."
The class rushed out chattering excitedly as they bolted for the library en-mass. Once the last of them were gone Filius tossed up privacy and security charms before turning to the portrait images of Myrridan "Merlin" Emrys and Morgan Le Fay.
"Clever, a piece of candy per hit on Harry or Severus to help them increase their skill but a much larger prize on the Headmaster's head to express your displeasure with the man," Merlin chuckled.
"We need you to warn both Severus and Harry that I overheard someone plotting to force them into bonding early and then enslave them using contracts and love potions," Morgana warned sternly. "If you can convince your goblin cousins to send protective trinkets to guard those two against such betrayal I would thank you kindly and seek to repay such honor."
"We both would," Merlin agreed. "I never liked the thought of sending our son away but the prophecy we received warned he would be needed here."
"That... is disturbing information. As you suggested I can speak to my goblin relatives but if this turns out to be more than a childish prank, which it certainly seems to be, then more of the staff who have quietly sided with them will need to be on our guard. I suspect the moment the Headmaster has a chance he will take control again and possibly out everyone at risk," Filius agreed fretfully. "I suppose this is the perfect time to start replicating the charms cards they asked me about earlier in the semester and handing them out. I should possibly start on dueling ones and similar versions to give out to the students as well."
"We would be grateful if you would do so," Merlin agreed happily. The rest of the class time was spent discussing possible spells and strategies to add to the playing cards and info cards that the small professor would be handing out by Christmas.
"What is this about Filius? I have a potion brewing and a brat to keep from going overboard on the first mock battle preparations," Severus snarked irritably as he stalked into the teacher's lounge, a snickering Harry on his heels. Harry had suggested something outrageous for part of the next day's mock battle just to rile up his roommate. The suggestion had also been made for a lark and to make certain Severus was actually paying attention to their discussion while marking Potions homework from the 5th years.
"The fact that someone was overheard planning to trap the pair of you with a combination of magical contracts and love potions," Filius said flatly after warding the room for privacy and security. Most of the staff was present and expressed dismay or outrage over the information.
"It sound like we may have to formally side with Harry," Minerva sighed with a grimace. It wasn't the open declaration allegiance that bothered her but the fact that someone would go after her two favorite wizards, especially with that particular method.
"Meh, that's up to you. I have basilisk venom and Phoenix tears in my blood while Severus is not only a Potions Master but one of the best I've ever met at actually detecting the damn things when mixed with something else. Something which I'm sure can be blamed wholly on both the Marauders during their school days and the year that Fred and George were here," Harry drawled with a smirk. "Yes, we need to be more careful but frankly? We have more going for us on the protection from mind altering potions than most people. The contract aspect is a bit more tricky though."
Severus snagged the smaller man and pulled him into a one-armed headlock as punishment for his flippancy regarding the situation. The rest of the staff watched with ill concealed interest as they tussled for a bit. Harry cursed, demanding loudly to be freed before falling partly limp in defeat and pouting in the other man's grip. Severus smugly turned to his colleagues and addressed them, refusing to release his troublesome prisoner.
"Thank you for the warning. We will be on guard for future consumable tampering and other routes of attempted potion delivery. We also thank you for your vote of support, Minerva, Filius. Should you here of more worrying conversation we will be happy to listen and take heed. If you happen across who made such... disappointing plans we will be happy to take them for their detentions and list them as primary targets in the upcoming exercises," Severus informed them politely. The evil twinkle in his eye told one and all that should he get his hands on the plotters they would quickly remember why he was one of the most feared staff members at Hogwarts.
"Will you let me go if I apologize for taking it lightly?" Harry asked piteously. Severus didn't dignify that with a response, keeping him bent half over in the headlock as if Harry's head were a basketball tucked under one arm.
"Dinner begins shortly. Are you going to drag him into the Great Hall like that?" Minerva asked, eyes dancing with laughter.
"I might," Severus agreed consideringly as everyone ignored Harry's mortified groan of despair. The entire staff had fretted over him at one point or another during his yearly adventures. They found this sort of boyish mischief very refreshing compared to the normal life threatening variant he usually got into no matter that it was rarely Harry's fault.
"I will start taking your lower year classes if you do?" Poppy Pomphrey offered wickedly. "You know I have a potions NEWT. Our training is practically identical aside from the final Healer vows and the last two years of apprenticeship."
"For the year?" Severus asked suspiciously.
"Severus we've been discussing what the two of you have been trying to do," Pamona Sprout, Head of Hufflepuff and Herbology Professor said with gentle amusement. "You've been taking too much between the pair of you and the Headmaster's actions are not helping in the least. We decided last week to try and corner you before offering to help. The problem was, as you might have guessed, cornering the pair of you successfully to tell you."
"The morning exercise is good for everyone but the ghosts can start keeping track of that. The elves can track everyone's food as they have been doing for centuries. Poppy can deal with ensuring everyone is up to date on basic healing skills with the appropriate range of techniques assigned for each year even as she teaches her set of potions students. I can handle teaching most of the survival and battle transfiguration. Filius can handle the survival charms and the muggle techniques when he isn't handling the dueling and weapon aspects with the pair of you. Pamona can cover what plants are good for food, making string or rope, burning, and even rudimentary dish making and carving or how to use plants to find other needful things such as water. Aurora can handle star and solar navigation along with her more usual astronomy lessons... The two of you can ask for help," Minerva said gently. "You aren't alone."
Harry had gotten free during the discussion as Minerva McGonagall listed what they could all help with as the pair stared at their elder fellows.
"We have sort of been trying to do it all ourselves," Harry admitted sheepishly after an exchange of shocked glances between the two wizards.
"Its not like these things are too far off topic for our normal course in any case. We will just add a bit more history on what's being taught and explain how it can be used in an emergency or a survival situation or in combat depending on what is being taught," Filius grinned cheerfully. "Many a Ravenclaw has demanded to know what good transfiguring a match into a needle would be or charming a pineapple to dance and sing. Magic, along with any other task not a part of bureaucracy, is more often than not a matter of imagination, ingenuity, and whatever materials you can lay hands on. Its a large part of why greedy idiots horde not only money but resources. I believe there is a mountain state over in the states where one can't even legally collect rain water in a cup to drink without dispensation from whichever family long since claimed the mineral and water rights to the area. Its ridiculous but by the laws of the area the person who can be proven to have taken a sip of collected rain water can legally face a fine or a day in court. Resources my boys, resources!"
"And we haven't been using ours right," Harry finished abashed at his own shortsightedness.
"To be fair we couldn't be certain you would want to help... or hadn't been ordered by Dumbledore not to help," Severus pointed out carefully.
"Severus Tobias Snape! You know better," Minerva scolded sharply. "When have we ever not been willing to help another long term staff member?! When have we ever not put the student's safety first?"
"Safety? Hmm, the stone in my first year comes to mind," Harry pointed out caustically. "I can think of some others but I know that at least a few of them were more due to the ministry idiocy and Fudge."
"That was entirely Dumbledore's fault. Every single one of us objected to that blasted rock being here. The Chamber in your second year is from the founder's time, the Dementors were due to Black and Fudge. The tournament was primarily Dumbledore, Bagman, and Crouch. It never should have spilled over in the least. I will admit that we should have anticipated the attempted sabotage and your own forced entry due to, if only, your impossible luck and the be-damned prophecy. Fudge is entirely responsible for Umbridge and the Ministry trip was your own fault aside from the actual lure which was Marvolo's fault," Severus listed off promptly. "Your sixth year had more to do with the war than anything and you weren't even at Hogwarts for your seventh."
"Actually, I was thinking of Aragog in the forest and too damn close to the school. The stone and Hagrid's attempt to raise a dragon in his hut during first year that we got Charlie to pick up that night McGonagall caught us. Lupin's missed potion and chase of us around the grounds in third year. I will concede Sixth and Seventh year. Fourth year... had too many variables," Harry pointed out. "Fifth year... was a bit of a nightmare but that was mostly Umbridge's fault and Dumbledore's for most of the extra factors."
"Danger magnet," someone muttered.
"My trouble magnet," Severus growled out his correction, teeth bared in an unconscious challenge over his reckless imp.
Harry just smirked at the unfortunate staff member, completely missing the black clad arm that snaked out to recapture his head. He struggled a bit before surrendering once more to the gentle yet firm head lock.
"Dinner?" Severus inquired mischievously with his re-captured prey once more pouting. There was general sense of merriment as they all moved down to the great hall. Harry loudly complained the whole way but never actually bothered to fight free of the other man's grip. He was released to eat once everyone was seated.
Next chapter, First Mock Battle!
Specific event suggestions welcome!
Chapter 21: Bonding and Battle
Trickster32 gave massive help and ideas for this chapter!
Enjoy the results!
"Severus you are perfectly well aware that as a student Harry needs to sit with his housemates," the words came down from on high just as the staff was settling into their seats.
"You might not have noticed but I haven't exactly been eating with the Gryffs since school started," Harry shot back sarcastically.
"50 points from Gryffindor for your continued flaunting of the rules and disrespect. I am very disappointed in you my boy," Dumbledore said, practically oozing disappointment with just a hint of smug satisfaction.
"No," Harry told him flatly before turning back to his discussion with Minerva. "So the thing is about that dragon transfiguration spell if you combine it with a fire casting rune it..."
"What do you mean no?!" Dumbledore demanded interrupting them.
"He means no Headmaster. Harry will not be eating with the children. His body may be 16 but his mind is older than you," Severus drawled, smirking. "Thus he is clearly an adult and fits more with the staff as a fellow staff member than the student body."
"He is a student and will be eating with his student friends," Dumbledore said sternly.
Severus' temper, already pushed by the idiocy of his classes, snapped. His wand was out in an instant as the school's magic surged along with his temper.
"My imp stays with me," Severus snarled, jabbing at the old goat with his sparking wand.
"Aw, I didn't know you cared," Harry snarked gleefully. When Severus turned to glower at him Harry mentally dragged his Gryffindor courage out kicking and screaming before lunging forwards to give the taller man a kiss, completely forgetting about their audience.
Severus froze, his mind shutting down in response to the unexpected kiss. Harry drew back nervously and watched his roommate warily, wondering if he had just crossed a line. The look in the onyx eyes was one that Harry didn't recognize, making him nervous. When the other man's hand drifted towards him Harry's courage broke, sending him bolting away from the table and the man he had just kissed. A split second later had Severus bolting after him, hot on his heels.
"He takes after you," Morgana said from the edge of the ceiling nearest the Slytherin table into the silence of the hall. It had been a shock to the other portraits to find out that the ceiling of the Great Hall counted as a portrait.
"Apparently," Merlin agreed with a smirk. "How long do you think our son will forget about his wand while chasing Harry down?"
Harry's echoing yelp from the corridor answered that question.
"Not long. It may take him longer than a few minutes to pin Harry down and drag him off though. I am so very glad that they have relaxed enough to play with each other. Its a good sign," Morgana mused happily.
"Better me than if he takes after Uthor. You know how randy my father could be, I have no wish ever to relive the Cornwall stunt, even if I loved getting a brother out of that mess," Merlin hummed. "That fact that father was forced into marrying Arthur's mother was a pleasant surprise. It got me happily out of the running for father's throne and he stopped trying to bed anything female with legs. Let me tell you that time he tried bedding a Banshee of all things was incredibly embarrassing."
"That's true and this time our son hasn't flung the latest person who was stupid enough to kiss him without warning out of a window. Although that pink clad toad-like woman most certainly deserved it," Morgana smirked evilly.
Ginny stared after the two wizards with a thunderous expression that had many a fellow Gryffindor inching away from her and her equally furious older brother. Hermione, on the other hand, looked after them thoughtfully as she plotted further refinements to capturing the pair as per Dumbledore's permission.
Severus had, in the meantime, caught his green-eyed imp and returned the favour. He made very sure that Harry couldn't run again as he snogged him against a corridor wall. Leaning against the wall a well-hidden Pendragon crest suddenly glowed beneath Harry's back and under Severus' hands. The sudden disappearance of the wall tthe crest was embedded in sent both wizards tumbling through the breifly open doorway to land in a hidden room with the wall closing behind them.
Harry took advantage of the chance presented and dragged Severus to the nearby bed, pushing the snarky man down on to the surprisingly clean bed before suddenly pouncing on his willing captive. This time Harry was determined that he would take his time and enjoy the stolen moments with Severus.
Automatically hissing a possessive ~mine~ in parsel Harry watched gleefully as strong magical vines grew from the wood of the bedframe to bind his dark knight to the bed, completely at his mercy. Another spell, this one from Severus and completely intentional, removed their clothes and wands to settle on the nightstand beside the bed.
"You're mine and I do not share, Severus," Harry smirked before kissing Severus again, rejoicing in the knowledge that his mate wanted him, too.
"Nor do I brat," Severus growled into his mouth. A burst of magic had the vines loosen enough for Severus to twist Harry underneath him and entangle them both in the vines. Trapped, Harry could only moan as Severus ravaged his mouth.
"S-stop, we can't, not yet," Harry panted. Severus groaned at the denial yet he forced himself to stop, to respect his lover enough not to hurt him or ignore his right to say no.
"Once I have you I won't let you go," Severus warned with a pant.
"I know. I don't want you too. I just... until we figure out who wants to give us love potions shouldn't we wait? I want to bond with you badly but I don't want you hurt because of some stupid vendetta someone has against me. If they manage to trap me I don't want you trapped too," Harry explained regretfully.
"And you thought I hadn't considered any of that?" Severus demanded caustically. "No, I'll not loose you because some dunderhead trapped you with a love potion and a contract. You are mine just as I hope that I am yours."
Harry's magic flared at the declaration, surging forwards to slam into Severus' own magic with a splash. Their magics acted like two waves body slaming into one another and began to swirl together, mixing, with the pair of them naked but for the vines, trapped in the eye of the magical storm. As the magic subsided the vines disolved into nothingness and the pair were each left with a glowing crest upon their chests two dragons encircling two panthers curled up together in contentment. The mark faded, leaving only their scars and Harry's ever present mark of the Deathly Hallows behind.
Harry barely waited for the magic to fade before pouncing again only to be trapped by the man still positioned above him.
"You were saying?" Severus smirked. He knew what that crest and magic storm meant, the imp currently under him was his.
"My Severus," Harry growled lustfully.
"My imp," Severus growled back as they quickly went back to snogging.
"Shall I take you?" Harry asked impishly.
"I will be taking you," Severus said imperiously. He smirked at Harry's moan and conjured basic lube. He would have plenty of time another day to use his special stock on his bonded, for now he just planned to sink into his imp and consumate their union.
Harry writhed on Severus' clever fingers, trying to get more only to be pinned and snogged repeatedly as a distraction before Severus finally sunk his cock inside of his bonded.
"I plan to have you nightly my brat," Severus growled lustfully as he held still, allowing Harry to adjust to the fullness of being taken.
"If you can catch me," Harry teased breathlessly.
"It may take months or years of me fucking you but my magic will give you a womb and you will be round with only ever my children. I will have no other, my bondmate," Severus rumbled, triumph shining in his eyes as he began to move. His magic surged forwards every time he fucked into his smaller bondmate, branding him with his intent and bonding them even closer. Harry's magic eagerly welcomed his magic just as Harry himself welcomed Severus binding them both to the vow that Severus had just made. Neither would ever willingly have another.
Pulling free, earning a whine from Harry, Severus flipped his bondmate over on to his hands and knees before roughly entering him again, enjoying the surprised yelp and the tightening of his bonded around his cock. Harry barely braced for the increased pace before being fucked hard. It didn't take long for Severus to decide he wanted a better grip and to then lean over before snaking an arm upwards across Harry's chest to grip the opposite shoulder. He then jerked the smaller male harder onto Severus' own cock, driving it deeper into the willing body beneath him. Harry moaned obscenely as he was fucked into the mattress.
"Cum," Severus hissed commandingly into his imp's ear as he jerked brutally into Harry's hole a few last times before stilling as he came inside. Harry cried out, coming just before Severus and triggering the full orgasm of them both as Severus muffled his own shout against Harry's back.
"Don't leave," Harry whimpered a few minutes later as Severus began to shift, starting to slide free of his bondmate and moving so as not to crush him.
Hearing this Severus stopped moving and pondered. He wasn't planning to leave the bed or his new bondmate so why the upset?
"If I don't withdraw you will be far to tempting and the moment I become hard again you will be fucked as hard as I can mange. This will happen again and again and again. Is that what you want?" Severus warned cautiously.
"Stay," Harry requested, twisting around to give Severus a kiss under his jaw without dislodging him.
Severus found himself quickly growing hard at the sweetness of his bondmate. Before long he was fucking his Harry again, dragging him up to bounce in Severus' lap, one hand on Harry's hip, the other around his throat to hold him upright as he was fucked deeply on Severus' cock.
Their bonding night didn't end until much later.
Breakfast the next morning, which also happened to be the last Saturday morning before October, was surprisingly full and very lively. By that point everyone knew there was going to be the first mock battle that day. The unexpected events of the night before also had everyone watching Potter and Snape (technically Emrys but he was still using Snape as his Professional name) in case they would return to trying to kill each other. Most of the present staff on the other hand had just watched the pair with smirking satisfaction as they watched the two completely ignore any pretense of personal space and simply stay near each other.
A few members of staff never showed up for breakfast: Dumbledore, Trelawny, Filtch, Binns, Hagrid, and finally Professor Aurora Sinestra of Astronomy. All four heads of House were present along with an impatient Peeves kept contained near the ceiling by the harassed house ghosts. Once most everyone was done eating Professor McGonagall rose and gained silence to issue several announcements.
"After much consideration the top two thirds of every staircase have been added to the safe zones due to the risk of falling down those same stairs. Bare in mind when we move from mock battles to real combat there is no safe zone except for those you create by wards and other means. Warding is an advanced skill as such any wards that someone wants to use must be checked by the appropriate teachers for flaws or purchased from a certified warder between mock battles. Portable ward stone sets should be purchasable through the goblins," Minerva announced firmly. This was a subject that had been brought up by a concerned Madam Pomphrey before breakfast and was quickly agreed upon. "To refresh your memories the current safe zones are: The Library, The Hospital Wing, The Common Rooms, and the upper two thirds of each stair way. The Great Hall is no longer a safe zone but a battle ground. Food packages will be scattered over the battle field for retrieval so that you might have lunch and supper. Instructions on their use will be included in the packages. After this battle individual missions will become available as will a self updating bounty book. The bounty book can be collected from your Head of House as can a personal self updating missions book so that you don't need to check the house message boards constantly for missions."
"Peeves, your ammo dump is all ready for you to raid. Breakfast is the last time the Great Hall will be a safe zone except during feasts," Harry announced evilly. "You have had a little less than a month to get ready for this and pick up your optional paintball and water guns from your heads of house. After today we will start setting zones where if you want to attack you have to use a particular weapon, tool, spell, or potion. Hogwarts herself has, as you should know by now, volunteered to keep track of points and violations using her own magic."
"Several staff members have been told there was a problem in the kitchens and that breakfast would be served late. These are your first targets," Severus informed them, smirking just as evilly as his bondmate. "Current available rewards are as follows:
There is also anything else the teachers have announced privately. You will have to confirm the private eligibility with the individual staff member. Future Rewards will change, possibly in the middle of a battle, just as targets and objectives can change at the drop of a hat."
1) Successful tagging of every present staff member earns a 72 hour long safe zone which can be activated and deactivated at will until time runs out
2) Successful elimination of an entire Hogwarts House, including Head of House, except for your fellow teammates earns a trip to Diagon Alley with 3 Galleons per person on the team or a week free of being a target by anyone older than 3rd year
3) Successful survival of all teammates earns a party for the team
4) The winning team can choose the date and time of the next mock battle
5) Second place team will have the honor of deciding weapon and spell restrictions of the next mock battle
6) Third place team will choose the environmental hazards of the next mock battle
"For this mock battle I am both a Gryffindor student and a staff member. Tagging me counts for both," Harry grinned roguishly.
"Any use of a spell or potion which potentially subverts another's will be it a compulsion charm or a love potion will have you placed as a permanent bounty target. If we had the authority to suspend or expel you for such use then we would," Filius announced firmly, showing everyone a glimpse of the deadly dueling champion that he was.
Peeves had been floating up near the rafters, disturbingly quiet during the announcements. Just as students were starting to move he blurted out something that had been bothering him for years. "Prince Emrys?"
"Why would you call him Prince?" Harry asked with deadly calm. As everyone else watched the sudden confrontation with fascination.
"I only discovered my birth name was Emrys over the summer... why?" Severus asked, thin lipped in wary displeasure at the potential complications implied by the title he had just been given.
"Oh, hell! You've been right in front of me the entire time!" Peeves cursed. Everyone was stunned not by the cursing but by the very adult voice he had switched too over his more normal childish tone.
"Sir Percival! So this is where you've gotten too!" Merlin cried from the ceiling portrait, having just spotted the poltergeist.
"Lord Merlin! I thought you had hidden away your portrait as a precaution," Peeves, Sir Percival, greeted in startled surprise.
"Ah, and how well have you fulfilled your duties?" Merlin asked happily. The wince from the ghost had the famous wizard's eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"Er, not as well as one might like. I didn't realize that Severus was your son, Mi'lord, until but a moment ago," Peeves admitted sheepishly. "I've acted well enough as castle guardian but as I didn't know the young prince upon meeting him and I am afraid that I did not provide the protection I had promised to him."
"Yes, a blood adoption will do that from time to time, make one unrecognizeable," Severus drawled snarkily. He could tell that if he let this continue much longer many of his students would be angling to drag blackmail out of the ghost before the day was done. Starting the battle now wouldn't stop the really determined ones but it would certainly slow them down.
Anything was allowed in times of love and war - and Severus wouldn't hesitate to use every single spell, even the more illegal ones, to ensure that nobody would ask Peeves anything about his origins or early years. His fingers slipped into his robe and lightly grasped the little vial with lethe leaves. He had wanted to save them for a better opportunity, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Severus had grounded them carefully. He would be wearing a mask over his face, quickly retrieved from his pocket, so that he wouldn't be one of the ones to inhale it. He needed only a small amount of the grounded leaves to blow in the direction of staff and students and they would forget everything that had happened during the last few minutes. Although, a distraction would ensure a higher rate of success.
Harry having watched his bondmate carefully blocked his hand, before he could grab the vial properly and hissed into Severus' ear. "Don't even think about it! This wasn't part of the deal, love. Let's start the battle, it would ensure that they don't have time to think about it."
"What? Who do you think you are?" Severus snarled, irritated and hiding his instinctive fear behind a masking snarl of defiance.
"Your bondmate, you idiot! You can obey on this or I'll ground you in your quarters until the mock battle is over - or better yet maybe I should trap you, possibly both of us, in that one room we found yesterday. Your choice, Severus!" Harry hissed. He knew the thought of loosing respect, of looking weak, was something that bothered his bondmate and he had every intention of showing Severus that he would help and protect him. This incident wasn't worth the risks that came with using those expensive and powerful leaves.
"Fine. But if they try to get answers from him, then I'll have the right to hex them into the next century," Severus growled back.
"Deal," Harry smirked as he stole another kiss from his enraged, defensive, bondmate
Suddenly Peeves got hit by a flash of light and his whole outfit changed to the livery of a Camelot courtier, which had the Pendragon crest displayed prominently on his chest.
"Much better," Severus smirked. He had just recovered one of his oldest memories of his childhood while ghost and portrait talked. He had remembered a man who had saved his life once upon a time whom he had named Peeves but who's proper name had always been Percival. "Give them hell, Sir Peeves."
Harry recognising the look in his bondmate's eye and grabbed him around the waist as black smoke suddenly filled the Great Hall, leading to coughing fits by both staff and students.
"Hold tight, imp," Severus whispered in Harry's ear as he floated them out of the Great Hall, hiding them within the smoke, aiming for their first attack point. As they made their escape he distributed several of the Weasley Twins' latest inventions. Both menaces had begged to be on their team and had been shocked by Severus' gracious acceptance.
The other staff members quickly caught on to their respective cues and started turning the great hall into the first stage mock battlefield. Random free standing walls of various sizes and at various angles appeared randomly around the hall. Trees appeared out of nowhere, random items ranging from cutlery through books and parchment started animating themselves and going on the attack. Pools of water and mud began forming randomly across the hall.
The students, caught flatfooted, scrambled into rough groups. They quickly teamed up with nearby friends. This would be forced to change over the course of the coming mock battles as it was more important to know when a person was going to zig or zag rather than being their friend on the battlefield.
The DA had all been wearing their kits, as instructed by Harry, since the welcoming feast. Out of reflex they sought out other DA members and started teaming up, moving towards the rest of the DA members and collecting some non-members along the way. Almost immediately they became one of the primary targets of the other groups because they were showing how competent they had become under Harry's instruction last year.
To put it simply, it was a slaughter.
Harry, Severus, and the Weasley twins dominated the field before a remnant of the DA realized they had an opening and took the four down.
Everyone agreed it was a great success even with the chewing out that the entire school got for not using their surroundings properly and for staying in the great hall when they had the entire school to work with. As the first test of their combat capability it gave them an example of "being dropped in the pot" and gave the attentive staff a gauge on their overall performance. It was the best pop quiz Hogwarts had ever seen.
Susan Bones, Katie Bell, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood smiled for the longest time after the battle. Hogwarts had flashed a group in the mission book that Susan had gotten as priority targets. The fact that they were literally standing behind said targets was very fortuitous happenstance.
The mission book flashed red briefly to get their attention as it hung shrunken from Susan's belt. Since they were in the middle of a vicious firefight with a group of seventh year Slytherins it went ignored until they finally drove the other group off.
"Mission book got updated," Susan commented as she lifted the book and opened it to look at the new mission while the other three watched her back.
"What is it and do you think we can take it?" Neville asked over his shoulder.
"Hogwarts wants someone to take out a group known as The Masterminds. Its got Harry, Professor Snape, and the Weasley Twins in it!" Susan reported, shocked at even having the option.
"It would be a nice feather in our cap if we managed it but what's the reward? I'm not going against that group for a couple of chocolate frogs," Katie pointed out. "If the prize isn't good enough its not worth trying to take those four down, especially in this mess."
"Private rooms for all of October and access to the Prefect Bathrooms until next term," Susan reported admiringly.
"Then its a good thing Harry and his Bondmate are just over there with Fred and George," Luna said airily, pointing out their targets. A mix of four immediate stunners and binding spells took out the quartet in record time.
"Oh, he's done so well for himself," Morgana sighed happily form a nearby portrait, attracting the attention of the four victorious DA members.
"Yes, and he found his Imp. You know that hearing that prophecy terrified me. I've seen so much strife and death when it came to prophecy," Merlin sighed, holding his wife close.
"Should we tell Harry about the way that woman stole a kiss? And what he did to her in return?" Morgana giggled. The way the witnessing portraits told it her little boy had been absolutely furious! His burst of magic wasn't even an actual spell!
"How anyone can stand to wear that horrendous color is beyond me but then again I feel the same way about Dumbledore's choice in robes... should we try to off him? He's making problems for our son, dangerous ones
," Merlin mused. "As for telling Harry? Perhaps later. If the toad-woman pops back up then he should get the chance to take vengeance on behalf of Severus."
"I think I want to try that spa place in attic three. Come with me?" Morgana asked sweetly. Merlin just chuckled and the four could practically hear the two portraits moving off.
"Umbridge kissed Snape? How are either of them still alive?!" Neville muttered in horrified shock.
"Harry will be quite upset when he hears about that. I dare say that she won't live long after molesting his mate," Luna said airily, her eyes glittering with evil satisfaction.
"She is evil," Katie shuddered as she rubbed at her lightly scarred had from the mass DA detention after they were caught out.
The essence of dittany had helped everyone heal but Harry's quill scar was still deep and visible. Most everyone who had served a detention with the pink bitch easily figured out that he used a glamour to cover it. Katie suspected that he might use glamours elsewhere as well, especially after the expose that the paper had ran on both him and the Dark Lord just after school started. That had been a shocker. The fact that Harry had found an unconventional way of fixing their Dark Lord problem crossed with finding a different problem they had to deal with was less of a shock for anyone who knew him. The refrain "Its Harry" got a lot of use around the school that first week. At least the details of his adventures were happily picked apart by everyone rather than bothering him.
Everyone conveniently arranged not to let Dumbledore, Granger, or the two youngest Weasleys see that special issue of the paper. The stories had been, after all, written on truth serum soaked paper with truth serum laced ink before being submitted for unaltered publishing in a special edition issue. Almost nothing from either man showed those for in the best light with their brutally honest renditions of their life stories. It was mostly agreed that the three Gryffindors were pawns for the old goat and that they needed to be watched.
Elsewhere in the school Harry was happily strolling down a hallway having just completed his latest sixth year final. Each of the teachers had insisted on checking his school level in their subjects for their own peace of mind and as a paper trail against any objectors. Anything that he didn't pass on the first try had to be re-learned so that he would have it for the future. Harry didn't mind the idea of a refresher course. Severus, though, was very insistent on it since the information and skill could keep Harry alive rather than relying on Death to bring him back, something that only Harry himself saw as a resigned, not to mention potentially pricey, guarantee.
Harry never saw the stunner that took him down.
Harry woke carefully, holding still as much as possible not to give away that he was awake but unable to tense in preparation of a dodge. A quick inventory told him that he was bound to what felt like a bed. The taste of potion in his mouth warned him that he wasn't just dealing with a stunner. Unfortunately, he recognized the vile taste of a particularly dreaded potion. Harry knew that until the damn thing wore off he was basically paralyzed from the neck down unless they over dosed him. If they did over dose him he was going to be stuck with no voluntary motion for up to three days.
The last time this had happened some idiot had gotten the bright idea that they needed more people with Harry's raw power level and the best way to do that was new babies. Thankfully, they had only gotten so far as drugging him into paralysis before being stopped. The other times though the healers had dosed him to keep him in bed after he had nearly killed himself or to heal a nasty wound that moving would have made bad enough to risk his life. Harry still hated this particular potion and internally raged at whoever had done this to him.
"My Harry," breathed a voice that had Harry's stomach dropping as it filled with proverbial lead.
"Ginny," Harry gurgled reflexively. He couldn't open his eyes or really do anything but lay there yet he knew that voice and knew that this was not going to turn out well.
"Oh don't worry my sweet Harry. The Headmaster has everything worked out. You can keep and fuck your pet Death Eater while I carry your Heir and run the family," Ginny whispered sweetly in his ear. "After all we can't afford to let the line of Merlin die. Mum will help raise the children, I will play Quiddtich, you will be an Auror... We will be a family. We just need to cast a few things on you and your pet before we can be a proper family. The Death Eaters will be rounded up and put in Azkaban, maybe made to give babies for the light first. You-Know-Who will die and that false Queen of yours will bow to the wisdom of the Headmaster."
Ginny's words sent Harry's magic and emotions into a tizzy. His magic instantly flared high enough to scorch the ceiling and drive the redheaded witch back with a pained shriek, away from his vulnerable form, even as the knowledge of a threat to the crown and his situation shot down the links and bonds. Before Ginny had recovered enough to stalk over and slap him Marvolo, Severus, and the Queen knew as much of what was going on as he did and they were furious. Harry gave a low muffled moan as he felt Severus get blindsided, distracted by Harry's own warning practically shouting from their bonds. Ron's use of a skin contact paralysis splashed across the Potions Master like acid, dropping him to the floor in front of Dumbledore, Molly Weasley, Ron, and Hermione.
Hogwarts throbbed angrily as the control of the Headmaster forced her to give way, obeying his commands, hiding the five traitors from discovery. The Heir bond, so long neglected and forgotten, flowered at the distress of her Heirs. Marvolo, Severus, and Harry felt the newest bond awaken as two fought their magical paralysis while the third secured the Queen.
The opening of the Hogwarts bond alerted the House Elves to the danger. Of the elves bound to the school not a single one could ignore Dumbledore's earlier orders not to help Harry or Severus against him. Dobby and Winky though were not bound. They were free brownies and Harry's magic, remembering both of them, desperately reached out to the pair for help.
The entire staff of house elves watched the pair with baited breath, utterly still in their watchfulness.
"This bes meaning a new family," Winky said, instantly sober.
"This bes meaning beings Harry Potter's," Dobby corrected firmly. "This bes meaning bonds strong enoughs to change. Wes no longer beings house elves, wes becoming something new."
The two free house elves took a breath before reaching back. The desperate magic took hold almost instantly. They couldn't defend their master in time with how they were so the magic of the new frantic bond changed them. A brief glow engulfed the pair before retreating, leaving behind a pair of High Elves dressed in glass-like, skin tight, armor complete with dagger and sword at their belt. The moment the pair could move they bolted for the doors, following their link to where Harry and Severus were being laid out on a bed placed above a ritual circle.
Whatever Dobby and Winky had become had been given an instinctive knowledge of the magic being used against their master. As such when they burst into the hidden room and glanced at the floor to see the ritual circle both bellowed in rage at what was being attempted on the two wizards. The five captors didn't have a chance to draw their wands, they were dead or bleeding out before they could move out of their frozen shock.
"Stupid idiots didn't even check for existing bonds and magic that might interfere," Winky snarled in a sweet bell tone voice. "How did they expect the Vassal and Regent oaths to react?! Or the Deathly Hallows?!"
"Lets get them out of here and cleaned off. Lady Hogwarts can ensure the room is destroyed along with everything else now that the old goat isn't restricting her," Dobby's deep baritone pointed out.
They moved together to collect the two paralyzed wizards, leaving without a moment's glance at the dying and dead magic users or the blood sprayed everywhere. Hogwarts grimly complied with their suggestion, sealing the room behind both transformed elves and their precious cargo before magically burning the room into nothing but fine ash and scorched stone. The four members of the Dumbledore clan and one muggleborn not even surviving as bone fragments in the high heat of the magical cremation.
A snarling Nosferatu stormed in through the front doors of the castle only to be met by both elves and their precious cargo.
"Stop! Presuming you don't want them hurt," Dobby's new voice echoed loud enough to be easily heard over the confused crown and angry No Life King.
"If you have harmed either of them," Alucard warned menacingly, chambering a round in his precious modified hand gun.
"Why would we hurt our master or his mate?" Winky asked in exasperation. "They couldn't get free and no one else could get there in time. The only reason we aren't already cleaning them off and settling them in their own bed is that we could feel you coming and we weren't certain what else was done to them."
"I was just... out having a snack but I suppose that was precisely why someone chose now to attack my son and his mate," Alucard grudgingly conceded as he put away the gun, safety on but round still chambered. It wasn't often that he opted for standard lead over blessed silver rounds.
"Hospital wing?" Dobby asked exasperatedly.
"Certainly not! Take them both to Gringotts. If they were attacked here everyone is suspect," Filius informed them firmly, having watched the entire conversation due to having been disciplining two of his younger ravens nearby. "Even if you killed the known attackers, which I am not certain you haven't, there may be others waiting in the wings or others that have decided it would be worth the risk simply for the chance to kill them both."
"And why little wizarding goblin would we take them to your kin?" Alucard asked curiously.
"Because they were already in a treaty with the goblins. The rest of the staff can handle everything while they are away," Filius reminded them simply. "My kin will take care of them honorably."
"Mm..mate?" Romilda Vane stammered nearby, holding a package of nicely wrapped cookies with Harry's name on it. Alucard could smell the fresh baked cookies and the bitter after taste of a love potion.
"Be very glad that you never managed to deliver that... poisoned package to my son, woman. Or I would be feasting on fresh witch's blood," Alucard informed her sharply, fangs bared in threat.
"I dread to ask but can you identify what she laced her present with?" Filius asked politely, glaring at the foolish girl.
"Love potion," Alucard said shortly before engulfing both elves and the wizards in their arms in shadow, taking the five of them directly to Gringotts. His adoptive son and son-in-law would recover or he would know the reason why!
Dead due to stupidity:
Dumbledore, Ron, Ginny, Molly, Hermione
New Permanent Bounties:
People to eliminate/destroy/ruin:
C. Fudge, R. Skeeter, D. Umbridge....
Marvolo breathed a sigh of relief as he felt Harry and Severus be rescued with Alucard arriving near them shortly afterwards.
"Sir Marvolo?" the Queen inquired, noting his relaxing stance. They were tucked away in a safe room/bunker inside the palace with Marvolo literally standing guard over the Queen in case both captured Knights had been compromised and had apparated using the bond as a guide to attack the Queen.
"They're safe, someone got to them in time and Alucard's with them now. They are still paralyzed but at least they have someone strong and trustworthy to guard them," Marvolo explained in relief. "Whatever was being attempted to compromise them never took effect. I can feel it along the bond. If whoever rescued them is smart they are getting seen to by a competent healer shortly. I recommend maintaining lock down until they can send confirmation that they are fine as well as independent confirmation that they are uncompromised. Severus will know that the goblins can do that after which we really need a better system in place to prevent and check for such things. If only we had more time. Getting everyone ready for the invasion this fast means taking risks no matter how you look at it."
"Is there a magical way to do that?" the Queen asked sharply.
"Well yes but we already have a lot of protections in place with our Lordship rings alone. They got hit with skin contact paralysis potions that aren't automatically covered by those protections due to how new they are, less than 100 years old," Marvolo admitted. "We simply haven't had the chance to get updated protective trinkets or get our Lordship and Heir rings updated. Should we ever come to you without the assurance of being ourselves and acting under our own will the bond we have with you can be used to both identify us or incapacitate us... even to kill us. You can feel the bond to us, tug on it to bring one of us to you or you can demand a certain action by sending that demand down the correct bond."
"Will this harm you?" the Queen asked curiously. She didn't necessarily want to harm them but understood that it was occasionally a necessary act, especially when it came to security.
"It depends on how much we fight it. The bond is designed not only to assure loyalty, service, and protection from us towards the crown but also to help us fight off any interfering influences. Drugs, potions, compulsions, rituals, anything that might force us against you. Standard blackmail is harder but that generally results in the bonded person simply freezing in place mid attempt to attack and has been discarded as a viable method for centuries. We told your Military officers that we were more bound then they were by the oaths that connect us to the crown. We weren't lying," Marvolo answered honestly. "All of this is why we need special permission to act against you or serve another in a similar capacity. The magic also doesn't like overlapping loyalties, it... causes problems. Which is largely why I never reapplied my mark to Severus after being informed of his oath to the crown. I would have tried working something else out or completely remaking the mark to allow for his loyalty to the crown to come first... assuming I was sane. If I had still been insane when the vassal oath was revealed I would have seen it as a betrayal and killed him."
"Then we are most grateful that you are indeed sane once more," the Queen smirked. "We take it that if you don't respond to the bond the person is an imposter?"
"Exactly. The only exception is when acting contrary to and instructions is actually preserving your life or existence," Marvolo agreed. "We will still try to fulfill both your orders and the bond's imperative as quickly as possible but the preservation aspect will generally take priority unless you order us to ignore your safety or deem the task more important than your safety."
"Does not our command designating you, our Knights, as regents should we fall count?" the Queen double checked.
"Yes, but the heirs to the throne take command of us once crowned. It is the Regent Oath which allows us to keep authority while the new king or queen is still underage or unfit until the correct person is crowned. The magic decides which oath takes priority, not us. This keeps us from making a power grab and simply keeping the throne without due cause which you have already established by your command and official proclamation for us to claim the throne should the need arise. It actually enhances the Regent Oath and crowns us on your behalf as heirs to the throne if the situation truly gets that bad," Marvolo elaborated. "Magic... isn't always predictable or simple. It depends on many factors, especially the intent of the caster and raw power applied, to work properly."
"You would prefer to secure them yourself," the Queen concluded. Marvolo's body language had given him away. He was faithfully guarding the Queen but he wanted to personally retrieve the other two Wizard Knights even though the bond said they were in safe hands.
"Yes," Marvolo reluctantly agreed. "I hurt them both badly but with the change to the time line and time, years really, to reflect on both situation and actions taken all around I feel I must protect them. This is partly to make up for the harm I have done them personally, partly due to the harm I have done the people in general, and mostly because they deserve any care and protection I can give them. None of our lives have been pleasant. None of us have remained un-scarred by the hands of those we were supposed to be able to trust. Yet it was Harry's actions and forgiveness augmented by God's own grace and forgiveness that is giving us a chance to make it right. So I ask you should I not care for them?"
"No, you are being honest with your feeling and we asked. Though it seems we have not honored our youngest Knight enough for the service he has given. We will instruct him to list his accomplishments at a later time so that we might know fully his service. We intended to keep you three together in any case but this information makes such a determination only stronger in us. The three of you will do well should you need to hold the crown for any length of time and Sir Harry is the caring heart that will know when to give mercy without endangering what you three protect. Naming the three of you Regents and Heirs may have been the best or the worst decision we have made in our reign. The best for our people but perhaps not the best for the three of you. Time will tell," the Queen said firmly.
"Time will tell," Marvolo agreed sadly.
A breath of moving air flowing contrary to the air system sent an unconscious shiver down the Queen's spine. Marvolo in turn felt the lightest brush of suppressed magic which immediately had him on his guard. Wand unconsciously drawn he snapped out instructions to everyone around him, shoving the Queen into a corner, defenders on all sides with him in front of everyone else facing the room in a dueling stance.
"Show yourself," Marvolo snarled, his face a cold mask of icy calm.
"Why?" came the whispery voice.
"Because you don't want to find out what I will do to a perceived threat," Marvolo told the voice, a cruel smirk dancing across his lips that would have reminded anyone who knew him of his insane Voldemort persona.
The voice considered this for a moment before air currents moved and flowed until they coalesced into the barely there form of a beautiful female made only of flowing compressed air currents.
"An air elemental," Marvolo said, eyes and voice hard.
"Magi! We thought you all dead!" the air elemental exclaimed in surprise.
"Merely hidden," Marvolo said flatly. "What do you seek here?"
"Information to keep my kin alive in their entrapment," the air elemental said promptly.
"Elaborate," Marvolo demanded with a frown.
"I can not. Only my sharing of your presence alone allows me to excuse your knowledge of me and my kin to my masters," the air elemental said sadly, shaking her imitation air head in sorrow. "I will need yet more to appease them for anything else."
"Except that I already knew of your kind. I can destroy you and keep the others with you from leaving if I so choose," Marvolo pointed out coldly.
"A trade?" the air elemental offered tentatively.
"And what would you have to offer? What would you wish to gain?" Marvolo asked, eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Does the line of Emrys and Le Fay still yet live?" the air elemental asked desperately.
"It was hidden for a reason," Marvolo answered cautiously. "What do you seek here?"
"Weakness for our masters to exploit in trade for the lives of our young. Magi, we must know for certain... Does the line of Emrys and Le Fay still yet live?" the air elemental demanded even more desperately.
"Yes, the child lives," the Queen answered honestly, making a choice to both admit Severus' existence yet not specify he was full grown.
"Then our bondage is not in vain," the air elemental practically wept in relief. Her form briefly destabilized from the emotion before she mastered herself and continued. "We elementals were claimed by the foe during their last retreat just as the child was sent away by his parents. He will be a primary target for our masters to destroy yet they know not the command the young Emrys has over all elementals. A binding magical pact was made at his birth and we guarded him faithfully for two years before we were claimed via the capture of our children. He needs only to voice the command and demand all our four kinds in hearing kneel in service to him. Any not in hearing range will not be able to honor the command and pact."
"What do you intend to do with this information?" Marvolo asked cautiously.
"Bind us, quickly! Magi, use your power! We must not be allowed to return!" the air elemental insisted.
"Eessentia Venti! ~Bound until released to the service of another,~" Marvolo split the incantation into two parts, one Latin name and one parseltongue command. Multiple cries were heard as several fairy sized bodies fell to the floor with a thud each, landing next to the larger main wind elemental.
"Thank you," the air elemental said gratefully. They each tested the glowing magical chains and relaxed once discovering they truly could not get free.
"We weren't aware that the enemy was using slaves," Marvolo growled in agitation.
"Is it safe?" the head of the security detail asked gruffly.
"Yes," Marvolo reluctantly admitted. "I don't like this but we are still safer in here with them bound and moved off to one side than if we tried going elsewhere. They are the first prisoners of war."
After that they all settled back into quiet yet wary inconsequential conversation as they waited for further word that it was safe to leave the bunker.
Alucard arrived abruptly in the lobby of Gringotts, a formless mass of shadow that shot from the floor before melting away to reveal the five travelers.
"That was disturbing," Dobby said flatly. A shudder rushing down his spine as he clutched Harry tighter to his chest.
"It could have been worse," Winky countered as they hurried over to a conveniently empty teller while everyone stared at them. She addressed the goblin firmly with a no-nonsense tone. "We need a healer immediately for our master and his mate. One of your kin sent us here rather than St. Mungoes for security reasons and due to the treaty my master signed with your people."
"Severus! Harry!" Narcissa cried in shocked dismay, recognizing the two paralyzed wizards being carried by the transformed elves and openly guarded by Alucard.
Alucard and the two elves ignored her aside from an assessing glance and a nod in favor of following the goblin who was quickly leading them away towards the healers. Narcissa hastily caught up with them and as she wasn't sent away by the party the goblin was leading she was allowed to accompany them to the healer's domain positioned just off of the lobby for incidents similar to this. This wasn't the first time that an important customer needed immediate trustworthy medical care. The expedient use of a completely neutral yet independent and trustworthy healer, curse breaker, warder, or any number of other professions was one of the Bank's largest businesses. Both paralyzed wizards were quickly seen to by the dismayed healer as the elves and Nosferatu hovered protectively.
"What happened?" Alucard demanded of the elven pair.
"Albus Dumbledore, his daughter Molly Weasley, two of his grandchildren Ginerva and Ronald, and Hermione Granger had them paralyzed. Something happened aside from the paralysis that had Master's magic reaching out in desperation and we reached back, knowing that it would bind us to master permanently along with changing us. There wasn't time for anything but the acceptance and the change before we had to bolt to their side. The five traitors had them laid out on a bed over a ritual circle of some sort drawn in blood of different colors," Dobby growled out, restless and protective of the two wizards even though they were supposedly safe. "You saw the runes that had been drawn on them yourself."
"I recognized human blood, unicorn blood, dragon blood, and the life sap of a dryad," Winky told them shortly. "I found the scattered flour, sugar, and salt patterns odd though. I think we will need to learn healing and other magics very quickly to keep our master and his mate safe."
"Looking back with the clarity granted by our new forms I suspect that it wasn't just my dangerous attempts to get him sent away from Hogwarts in '92 that had master in such... unique positions. If he doesn't have some sort of luck curse on his very blood I'll dance naked in front of a rabid werewolf during the full moon," Dobby said dryly. "With a war coming we will need to learn battle magics but the healing magics will have to be priority up to a point if only to keep master alive after doing something stupid or his enemies getting too close."
"Who exactly are you?" Narcissa asked warily.
"Why I am Dobby, Lucius' former house elf before Master Potter tricked him into freeing me," Dobby grinned evilly. Narcissa paled, understanding that whatever her husband had done regarding this elf had been a grave mistake and Dobby was now in a position to take full revenge should he so choose to.
"I am Winky, once house elf to the Crouch family," Winky said simply, giving Dobby a disapproving look.
"So what do you plan to practice healing on?" Alucard asked with interest. "You must know by now that your magic has changed with your forms and speech."
"We know. Its part of why we ran instead of popping to our master's side," Winky said in a long suffering tone. "As for practice? We get to practice on plants, animals, and magical creatures as well as anyone else foolish enough to go after our master. Once we have the knack for sensing what is wrong and/or speeding up the healing or the reverse we can start practicing on the actually injured to refine it. Preferably on prisoners, food animals, or active threats so that if we accidentally kill them while practicing either healing or combat magics it isn't an issue."
"Master has already listed the Acromantula colony in the forest as live target practice for anyone with sufficient skill. They are too close to the school and a danger to the students," Dobby said cheerfully. "We should probably start with them."
"I will get you healer's books and human anatomy books to study from," Alucard promised, deeply amused and pleased with their clear insistence on protecting his adoptive son. "Some weapons lessons won't go amiss either."
"We have some instinctive mastery of certain skills and abilities but not everything is known. We've only been this new species for an hour or two in any case. I'm sure we will learn more of what we can do in time," Dobby reminded the Nosferatu. "We do, however, welcome your aid on the matter."
"Good. You aren't being arrogant about your new forms and skills but you also aren't dismissing other possibilities," Alucard said approvingly. "You will have to kill in defense of my son and his mate before this thing is done."
"We already have," Dobby said grimly. "Hogwarts dealt with the bodies and ritual room. She wasn't exactly pleased with being forced to aid the Headmaster against one of her favorites much less one of her heirs. I'm really just glad our armor and weapons turned out to be self cleaning or we would have met you drenched in blood."
"Exactly which of them are you bound to?" Narcissa asked cautiously.
"Harry Potter. I don't think they've had a chance to formalize their mateship into a marriage but we know from our bond with Master that they will accept no other than each other. Hogwarts and her elves would have come to their defense if Dumbledore hadn't constrained them. It was all they could do to even show a hint of reluctance and give way to us when we moved to protect Master and his Mate. The Headmasters have ruled without answering to an Heir for too long, denying any known Heirs the knowledge of the castle since just after the time of the founders. Without Dumbledore the Headmastership lies dormant, returned to its proper place as that of only a steward, and control of everything Hogwarts has defaulted to the Founder's Heirs. The castle and her elves will answer to Master, his mate, and Sir Marvolo without question from now on," Winky explained calmly. "No one can claim control or stewardship without their permission and the castle's agreement."
"Then we have a living, loyal, fortress for the coming war. Good, we will have need of it," Alucard rumbled in satisfaction.
The irritated spike of magic from both paralyzed wizards drew their joint attention.
"They need to stay here a few days but once the potion wears off they should be fine," the healer that hurried up to the small group reassured them. He had to go for a different appointment and hurried off but still told the group they could approach the helpless, yet recently cleaned, forms of both Wizard Knights.
Alucard smirked, knowing both wizards would be absolutely pissed at being kept in the hospital wing area and under the control/supervision of the healers. If nothing else the blow up, once they could move again, was going to be spectacular. All they had to do was wait.
Yes, I am aware of the weirdness with comments not really working just now. (I've tried reviewing several stories only to get a blank tab/screen.) Just come back later when its working again to post your comment. Frankly, I'm just glad it let me put up the chapter at all! XD
Chapter 24: Royal Blood
This one fought me a bit.
Fair warning there is a section where our boys keep trying to explain things to some kids ranging from age 6 through 14 creating a kind of frustrated ramble. There is a point to it but for those not used to dealing with young children in any capacity I figured you might like a warning.
It took 48 hours for both Harry and Severus to be able to move again, much to their extreme annoyance, yet the hospital surroundings were not unfamiliar. Dobby, Winky, and Alucard stood guard over them while Narcissa visited, quietly updating them on the progress of the magical adoptions and the recovery of the freed Death Eaters as something to talk about.
"The more predatory magicals and creatures are falling into line nicely as I establish dominance with each clan and community," Alucard reported, smirking toothily as the pair grouchily got changed into new clothes brought, courtesy of Narcissa. "I suspect once the enemy identifies the two of you along with Marvolo you three will be prime targets for capture or assassination. My own targeting will be less of a concern and more of a meal."
"At least the Healers promised to give our wands back when we asked," Harry grumped before turning his attention to what Alucard had reported. "Alright, but if you do find groups that pose an active threat say something. While you killing all of them would end the threat most of our forces are going to need the target practice and for you it would just be fun rather than useful practice. We also need to account for what they've already done and any resources they've got, either to destroy or confiscate them for use in the war."
"I'll keep that in mind," Alucard conceded reluctantly even as the pair stepped from behind the folding changing screen.
A nearby Healer's apprentice hesitantly offered the pair their wands, taken from them as a standard procedure in case of stubborn or hallucinating patients. Both glared and snatched them back simultaneously, getting amused looks from Alucard, Dobby, Winky and Narcissa. The apprentice hastily scurried away and ducked out of hexing range as quickly as possible.
"Master we killed your attackers," Winky informed Harry as the two elves bowed to him in recognition of his status.
"I feel like I should know both of you for some reason and.. are you High Elves?!" Harry asked with a mix of a frown and open surprise.
"No, master. We only look like High Elves but we aren't actually part of such an old race," came Dobby's deeply amused baritone. "We are something new."
"Perhaps you should introduce yourselves?" Narcissa suggested with a smirk. Harry considered the situation warily. If Narcissa Malfoy nee Black was suggesting something with that smirk Harry wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"I am Dobby... Master Harry Potter sir," Dobby smirked wickedly as he parroted his previous address of their master.
"I am Winky, formerly house elf of the Crouch family," Winky introduced herself. "Master, your magic reached our for aid during your capture. The Headmaster had bound the school and her elves to his overriding will. Only Dobby and I could respond. We knew we would change in order to better aid you and we knew Hogwarts would be forced to stop anyone but an elf already bound to the magic of one of you from getting their in time. As such when your magic called we reached back and accepted the change so that we might rescue you and your mate."
"Before you ask... we can not be freed from your service nor would we wish it. Even more than the brownies we were before we are now bound tightly to the magic of our master and his or her line. I sought free of Lucius Malfoy originally because... I was one of your fans," Dobby blushed in embarrassment as he admitted something that he knew Harry wouldn't want to hear. "I really didn't care that being unbound would probably kill me as long as you were safe. The catalyst was the diary and the knowledge that while I couldn't get Lucius to listen to me about how dangerous it was I knew that he was aware it would likely out the school in danger if it ever made it there. I can't be certain but he may have intended for it to only be found with the Weasley clan rather than actually make it to the school or put anyone in danger. You would have to ask him to be sure."
"The Diary set you off on that hurt me to keep me out of school idiocy?!" Harry demanded in a mix of anger and shock.
"Yes," Dobby said bluntly.
"Well I suppose it could have done," Harry murmured with a frown. Thinking over what exactly the diary was and considering the potential effects on a crazed fan boy house elf before he shuddered in dread at the potential ways it could have all gone wrong. He also gave silent prayers of thankfulness that it hadn't been worse.
"Do I want to know?" Severus asked, hiding his concern behind a sarcastic drawl.
"Er, maybe not?" Harry offered sheepishly. "Its only that you'll probably drag it out of me when I offer you basilisk parts to play with and have the goblins help harvest the rest before selling it off."
"Basilisk? Now where did you find one of those foul things?" Alucard asked with interest.
"Um, I'd rather not say? Besides Severus already knows part of it but we've had other pressing matters to deal with before addressing what remains of the corpse," Harry pointed out. "I'm also not sure what's left of it. In the other timeline I never saw it after killing it but I was told that by the end of next year it was only bones and venom filled teeth. A tooth was used to destroy something in front of it but the magical backlash apparently destroyed whatever was left. That hasn't happened yet so there may be something left beyond bones and teeth but I don't know for certain."
"With your luck we will find more basilisks or something equally rare and dangerous in stasis waiting for you to discover for use against the invaders," Severus complained. "Probably with only you or someone close to you being able to control whatever the thing may be or even that no one can control it yet you will manage to do so any way."
"That... might not be a bad thing," Harry said wryly, fully aware of the irony of saying such a thing.
Severus immediately went on alert. If Harry was actually admitting that his strange luck might be a good thing rather than strange, dangerous, an annoyance, or anything other than something to be anticipated and possibly expected with happiness... Then not only was he missing something important but his petite mate thought they were going to need his impossible luck, repeatedly. Not. Good.
"Come my brat, we have students to torture into a semblance of competence," Severus insisted, promptly earning a delighted laugh from his mate.
"Alright, my dungeon bat, we can go back and make them dread your lessons," Harry agreed with a fond laugh.
They returned to the school after sending a message to Marvolo via patronous and a secret goblin method for extra confirmation. Most of the group were completely unaware they were being watched. Alucard casually captured the shadow wraith before it could escape, trapping it within his own shadows to be interrogated later.
Elsewhere, while all three Magical Knights were indisposed, various members of the royal family who did not have someone as skilled as Marvolo or Alucard in dealing with magical opponents fell one by one to elemental assassins...
Air - Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex breathed in poisoned air that acted like a fast onset deadly allergy attack, leaving his security team unable to help him as he died in their arms.
Earth - Princess Anne was meeting her ex-husband with her current husband to discuss the children, her 20 year old son Peter and her 15 year old daughter Zara. The three were served arsenic laced tea only to be found later by the servant who had come to collect the dishes. Her children would later fall into a sudden sinkhole only for the walls of the sinkhole to collapse on top of them, burying them alive in sucking mud that quickly suffocated them before help could arrive.
Fire - Prince Andrew had been meeting with his ex-wife over a matter pertaining to their six and seven year old daughters, who were at lessons, only to die in a freak electrical fire at the York country estate which killed a dozen people along with the pair.
Water - Prince Charles and Princess Diana had, upon hearing of the incoming invasion, agreed to put off finalizing their divorce, something which made their sons happy. The bridge across the Thames River had developed a puzzling and particularly stubborn early patch of black ice. Their car traveled along it towards a meeting only to find themselves sent spinning off the edge of the bridge, car locks frozen shut. They would never be able to tell anyone that the water flowed into the car and headed straight for the pair of them to surround them before filling the rest of the car, drowning all inside the vehicle. The ice wouldn't melt away under the influence of the water, disappearing without a trace, until ten minutes after those inside the car were dead.
By the end of the week the only survivors of the Windsor Royal family were: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth - age 70; her husband Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh - age 75; her surviving grandchildren Prince William, Heir to the Throne, - age 14; Prince Henry - age 12; Princess Beatrice - age 7 (nearly 8); Princess Eugenie - age 6.
Harry looked at the assembled grieving royal family and sighed. He and Severus had been summoned to attend the Queen only to discover that 2/3rds of the Royal family were dead, all of the adults save the Queen herself and her husband.
Marvolo was clearly guarding them alongside the more restless normal security detail and a single look told both of his fellow Knights that they were also suddenly on duty.
"We will have to expect an attack on the Ministry of Magic next," Harry said sadly. "This strike was an attempt to decapitate leadership without being forced to wipe out the entire family. The fact that all but one of the children survived along with your majesty and your majesty's husband shows the strike was against those who were seen as prime adults rather than the children and the elders of which the rest of you qualify. Whoever was picked to carry out the assassinations was either trying to avoid bloodshed, trying to save lives, had specific targets with orders to keep it unobtrusive and quiet, or didn't want to be doing it in the first place so tried to help us by limiting the damage."
"That was also my conclusion," Marvolo agreed grimly. "I captured a bunch of air elementals scouting and spying on the Queen."
"Lovely," Severus growled in agitation.
"They were particularly worried about your own survival, Severus. Apparently, a pact was signed at your birth. You can command any elemental within hearing and they will obey you without question. They were also some of your minders before being sent forwards in time," Marvolo smirked, hiding his own hint of worry. "We also discovered that the enemy uses slaves. In particular the elementals under their command are all slaves and hold rightful fealty to our Severus. Apparently, he is a very tasty prize for our enemies and a prime target partly due to the damage his parents did to the enemy last time and partly due to his command of the elementals. If they capture him... well it would be wise to avoid that. Thus far they are under the impression that he is dead. The scouting air elementals deliberately allowed themselves to be captured to avoid revealing that he lives to their current masters."
"Well that explains a lot," Harry muttered ruefully. The last time the elementals had acted a bit weird but no one had managed to actually talk to them and Severus had already been dead. The fact that Severus was a key component to dealing with the elementals suddenly wasn't all that big of a surprise. Harry's luck was just like that.
"What will a magical blood adoption entail?" the Queen asked quietly.
"A potion and a bit of blood from the adopting parent or person, a subtle variation within the potion allows for sibling adoptions but requires both parties to drink rather than only the child," Severus answered honestly.
"What do you need to brew the potion?" Prince Phillip asked grimly.
"I've had it prepared and have been carrying it in case we needed it since shortly after Her Majesty Knighted the three of us," Severus told them bluntly. "A friend has been seeing about getting magical families to blood adopt non-magical orphans, the younger the better, to increase the number of available magic users and to give childless families a chance at children. The knowledge of a child blood adopted young enough gaining magic had been unknown until Harry brought it to our attention."
"There are also almost no provisions for orphans in the wizarding world, everything is handled privately and within the family with almost everyone pureblood being pretty much related," Harry grimaced. "Both I and Marvolo suffered from the lack of children's services and the Wizarding World's blindness in believing that everyone cares as deeply for children as they do, seeing them as precious treasures to grow into the future. We don't have time to sort that mess out but it was something I had hoped to address if we had the time and if I was wrong about the earlier invasion time."
"To summarize what they are saying, yes we have the potion on hand ready for use. No, it is not a good idea to let the ministry control any of the children. Do you want us to adopt one or more of them? If so is it only to bring out the magic or do you want us to actually be a part of their lives?" Marvolo asked bluntly.
"Adoption and part of their lives," Prince Phillip answered firmly.
"You do realize that we may be obligated to adopt them and then need to simply leave them with a friend in favor of fighting the war depending on how bad it gets?" Severus pointed out.
"This is not our first war, Sir Severus," the Queen answered sharply. "We are aware of the possible campaign requirements. We are also aware that Sir Harry has already done this once and our own advancing age as well as our position makes us less than ideal as their primary caretakers even with the aid of servants and retainers. Your service in this would be multi-faceted and you would be joining our family."
"Grandmother explained it to us," Prince William told them firmly. His eyes were red but his face was dry.
"Are you going to be our new daddy?" Princess Eugenie asked in a high child's voice.
"Do you want us to be?" Harry asked gently. "You can pick someone else, maybe one of my friends?"
"But you're Knights! Grandmother said Knights help protect us, our lands, and our people, like our security protects us when we go to school or to the shops," Prince Henry argued back. "How can they be better than you if you are Knights and they aren't?"
"Are you going to stop the bad people that hurt mum and dad?" Princess Beatrice asked.
"We plan to try and that means we may not be around you much if you become our new children," Severus warned. "That's part of why we were concerned with being asked to adopt you."
"We would love to be your new daddies but we might be out fighting a lot so that the bad people who took away your parents and aunts and uncles can't take the four of you away," Harry explained to the children sadly. "You deserve someone who will love you and be there to protect you until you can protect yourselves and accept your inheritance. We might not be able to do that properly while we fight to keep the enemy away from you and everyone else."
"And if we want you as our guardians any way?" Prince William demanded with pure teenage stubbornness.
"Then you will have to accept that there will be times we have to be away," Marvolo said simply. "You and your brother will have to help protect each other and your little cousins if something goes wrong. We don't want to loose you but the three of us have seen war and know that we can't always stop it no matter how hard we might try."
"We are not saying no. We only want to make sure you understand certain things otherwise this won't work," Severus told them firmly. "I have helped raise many children while teaching and acting as their head of house 10 months out of the year at a boarding school. They might not have been my children by blood but I was their parent while at that school."
"I raised some of your own children, William, before I was sent back in time," Harry informed the young heir apparent kindly. "Its not that we can't adopt you but that once we do we won't let anyone take you away from us... ever. We will be your dads to the best of our ability even though that might not be quite enough in the end. We will still try our best."
"William, we didn't have nice childhoods like the four of you. Neither Harry nor Marvolo knew their parents and the people who took care of them in the first place either hurt them or let them be hurt a lot. Just as my father used to hurt my mother and I when he drank," Severus explained with compassion. "Not everyone likes the idea of magic. It can do wonderful things but it can also do terrible things, just like any kind of tool in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. If you choose to let us be your parents then you will be around magic of many types and we will use what we know to defend the four of you to our absolute best. You might even get a little magic of your own from the special adoption, or your children might get it if you don't."
"The adoption must be willing on all sides if it is to be the strongest possible," Marvolo agreed softly. "I did a great many terrible things and forced Severus to do a great many terrible things while my mind was broken until Harry stopped me and made sure I was put back together. We are each bound by magic so that we can't hurt you unless it is to protect you from something worse. Even so you may see things that will give you nightmares no matter how hard we might try to shield you."
"Would another do better than the three of you, my Knights?" the Queen asked severely. She was getting tired of hearing them try to explain why her grandchildren should pick someone else as their parents even though everyone in the room, including her grandchildren, could tell they really wanted to obey and adopt the four.
"Honestly?" Harry asked after an exchange of glances with his fellow wizards. At the Queen's inclined head and commanding stare, demanding truth from his lips Harry complied. "Possibly not in the protection area between our skills and resources but equally so the actual parenting area? Even if we shared? Probably but Severus has more experience in that area, especially with 11 to 18 year olds than most people. The problem is once things get going we three will be needed on the battlefield in the thick of the fighting."
"You don't want us because you have to fight the bad people?" little Eugenie asked sadly.
"Yes and no," Harry sighed, struggling to phrase it so that the young princesses wouldn't be able to misunderstand. "We need to fight them so they don't get you or other people. This will make them look at us and try to stop us specifically. That means even though we want you very badly we won't always be there and the enemy will try everything they can think of to get to you, especially if we adopt you, because we are going to be making them very very angry by stopping them. That means that when they get angry enough with us they will start sending lots of people to try to hurt us so that we stop stopping them even though they are being very bad and wanting to hurt people so that they can take what they want. We don't know what they want. We only know they are ready to hurt everybody to get it so we have to try to stop them."
"They are good daddies," little Eugenie said firmly, looking at her sister and older cousins. The four royal children nodded firmly together, completing their own private test of the three, and immediately turned to tackle the three wizard knights to the floor with happy laughter, dog piling the three shocked men.
"You are going to adopt us and stay in the palace as our daddies," Princess Beatrice ordered regally from her seat atop Severus' chest.
"Grandmother was right, stubborn wizard knights," Prince Henry declared gleefully. "Our Wizard Knights!"
The three stunned wizards stayed trapped under the children until the Queen called them off in favor of supper. At bed time they were each given the adoption potion and a sleeping draught so that they might safely sleep through the changes while their new parents watched over them.
Chapter 25: It Begins
The little princes and princesses took to the change as if their very blood had simply been waiting for it for centuries. While Harry and Severus were still obliged to return regularly to Hogwarts, acting as teachers in both Potions and warfare receptively, Marvolo was not. As a result he was the one to witness, and correct, their first bouts of magic several weeks after the blood adoption.
Beatrice and Eugenie giggled quietly as they hid behind a sofa while their maids searched for them. They had no idea that they were actually invisible only that they had wanted one of their new daddies and had fiercely wished for the servants not to see them as they snuck about trying to find them.
"What's going on?" Marvolo demanded harshly as he entered the room a servant who had fetched him scurrying along behind him.
"Daddy!" the pair shrieked happily only to bolt from their hiding spot and two invisible missiles slammed into him, knocking him to the floor, hugging him fiercely.
"Beatrice? Eugenie?" Marvolo wheezed his question, having had his breath knocked from him as he landed hard on the floor with the invisible pair atop him.
"What's wrong daddy? Can't you see us?" Beatrice giggled playfully.
"No, no I can not. Hold still while I make you visible again," Marvolo instructed firmly as he retrieved his wand from its holster and ignored their protests to end the invisibility spell.
"That felt weird," Eugenie complained, wrinkling her nose cutely.
"Now what exactly were the pair of you doing that you felt the need to be invisible?" Marvolo asked sternly, sitting up underneath the pair so that they slid into his lap. His ruby red eyes unconsciously checked the pair for injury or other worrisome signs only to breath in quiet relief that they were unharmed from their first bout of accidental magic.
"We were looking for you or Daddy Sev'rus or Daddy Harry!" Eugenie laughed happily. "We found you!"
"One of the servants was mean, said we should get eaten by a werewolf. We didn't want them to see us and we wanted one of our daddies," Princess Beatrice explained primly.
"Oh?" Marvolo asked, eyes narrowed in anger. "Can you think about that servant and what was said so daddy can look at the memory? I promise to be very careful and leave the other memories alone."
The two princesses exchanged a startled look but nodded and thought about what had happened. Marvolo very carefully slipped into each of their minds, stepping so delicately around everything so as not to hurt his daughters and watched the memory before pulling out just as gently.
"Now you listen to me. If you ever see a werewolf not in human shape you scream for Alucard. The same goes for your new brothers. Being fed to a werewolf is very very bad and we will have to punish the mean servant for saying you should be eaten. Daddy Severus was almost fed to one when he was a little older than William is now and he still has nightmares about it. In human form they can be just like anyone else but in wolf form... they can be very dangerous. Now normally you shouldn't hide from the servants because they help keep you safe. This time... you did exactly the right thing. You hid and came to find one of your daddies," Marvolo told them, hugging them close with much squealing and giggling happiness.
"Sir Marvolo?" one of the maids asked hesitantly.
"Find William and Henry. Bring them to me," Marvolo ordered flatly, his eyes sparking with rage as the two girls in his arms quieted, sensing something very wrong.
"Yes sir," the maid answered quietly before hurrying to fetch the princes.
"Daddy?" Eugenie asked quietly as she and her sister looked up into his face worriedly.
"We need to make sure your brothers are alright before we can check people to make sure they are safe for the four of you to be around. That mean servant might not be the only one. Of course that means I have to give you your presents early after we pick them up from the goblins," Marvolo said with mock severity, hiding his concern over their children and anger over the open threat delivered by the squib servant to his daughters. All three wizards had blood adopted the four royal children and Marvolo was incredibly grateful for it in that moment as he switched to parseltongue as a test. "~When the boys get here you four need to stay near me and we will try to see your grandparents. Maybe we can get Grandma to call Daddy Harry and Daddy Severus home a little early today. How does that sound?~"
Both girls squealed and giggled in glee before nodding happily.
"~Can you tell the difference in how I am speaking? Can you speak like me?~" Marvolo hissed gently.
"~Its our secret language, Daddy! All four of us can do it!~" Beatrice said reproachfully.
"~I heard Daddy Harry say bad words like this once,~" Eugenie giggled conspiratorially. "~He wasn't happy that people at the school were saying stuff about him needing to follow Dumb door's plan. Who was Dumb door? Why would he want Daddy Harry to hurt you?~"
"~That, precious, is something you aren't old enough to know. It is very complicated and messy and I was very sick. Daddy Harry found a way to fix me instead,~" Marvolo said solemnly.
"~Why did Harry have to fix you?~" William hissed suspiciously as he and Henry entered the room only to join the three of them in sitting on the rug.
"You aren't old enough yet," Marvolo grimaced, switching back to English without missing a beat. "You will need to know eventually but not now. For now lets stick to English over Parseltongue."
"~Why?~" Henry hissed mischievously.
"Because we need to see your grandparents and it would be rude to talk in front of them when they can't understand. Being rude is less of an issue in front of enemies and servants, still not nice but less of an issue. Do you really want to be rude to your Grandmother?" Marvolo asked skeptically. Four little heads shook no frantically. "Right then, up on your feet all of you. We get to track down your Grandmother with magic and maybe call Daddy Harry and Daddy Severus home early."
"I think Grandmother is in the war room," William volunteered helpfully. "She said something about holding her temper with some people over the weird and magical defenses on the castle at breakfast and probably needing Irish or Scottish coffee by lunch time. Grandfather said he would visit some of the troops to make sure they were taking this seriously."
"When did the four of you figure out that you could speak parseltongue?" Marvolo asked, trying to distract them as they made their way in the direction of the war room.
"We were in the garden a few days after you adopted us and there was this snake complaining about the gardeners," Henry answered proudly. "We didn't expect him to talk back when we asked what was wrong. He was black with a blacker zig zag down his body and he was really nice!"
"He called us human hatchlings," Beatrice giggled.
"That was a black adder. They are very shy except around speakers like us. Their poison in their teeth can make you very sick. So if one of them bites you or someone helping you, you need to get extra grown up help right away. If someone bad is near you, you can ask an adder to bite them for you but they might say no," Marvolo warned, teaching them about the snake and the parseltongue ability at the same time. "Usually they are brown or red but sometimes you find a black one. They are also called vipers."
"You shouldn't have contaminated them with your foul magical blood, witch," a male servant said hatefully as he blocked their path.
Marvolo stiffened, drawing his wand and motioning the suddenly silent children to get behind him.
"That very blood is what is going to reawaken their ancient command of the land's defenses. Magic from before they lost the ability from their own line," Marvolo said stiffly, his nostrils flaring in anger. "I take it that you arranged for security to be... indisposed?"
He had vaguely noticed the lack of people for the last few minutes but hadn't yet made the connection to a potential danger when the man had blocked their way.
The man in question was calmly drawing a gun and adding a silencer, his eyes burning with a deep soul consuming hatred. Marvolo's lips thinned at the lack of response to his question even as he grimly silently cast the strongest protections he could around his children without saying a word or even twitching. A second set of shields went up between him and the gunman in the same way. The thrown knife from behind a tapestry to his right sunk into his side even as he reflexively cast and hit the person through the wall decoration, knocking them out cold to fall backwards into the secret passage they had hidden in. His forward shields held strong as a trio of bullets impacted on them, the gun shots frightening the children. Bleeding from the knife wound, blade still lodged in his side, Marvolo started casting. His parseltongue words flowed balefully from his tongue in a river of hisses, animating the rugs and tapestries to capture their attacker and hold him while a well targeted transfiguration spell changed the explosive powder of the bullets into so much sand and a second blunted any blade he might be carrying.
"~Buckingham, protect the heirs!~" Marvolo commanded the palace its self as the blood from his side wound quickly brought him to one knee.
The palace responded, sluggishly at first, as the walls started slowly shifting with the floor rising in front of and behind the five magicals. The walls opened to one side, away from the passage the second assassin had used, even as they closed in a second layer around the walls formed by the flooring.
"Dad?" William asked with a dry mouth, the four of them up against the shield, trying to reach their injured parent.
"Wait for things to stop moving," Marvolo instructed, hissing in pain as he used his wand to shape his robes into a tightly wound bandage surrounding both blade and wound. He knew better than to pull out the blade himself so padded the area well to catch what blood spilled and to hold the knife in place against further jostling.
As the building settled into its new configuration and sighed at this first magical effort of movement Marvolo nodded in approval and satisfaction.
"Thank you Buckingham," Marvolo said gravely as he released the protections trapping the children, allowing them to get to his side and check his wounds.
"That must hurt," Henry winced sympathetically.
"I have had worse hurts," Marvolo explained as he slapped away the curious hands of the younger girls. "I can't take out the blade yet except as a last resort so I need to be careful of it and you can't touch it unless I tell you too."
"Yes, daddy," the girls chorused as both boys nodded their own grim understanding.
The bond flared, slipping from his Occlumency grip with a quiet gasp. He had needed all of his concentration for the brief fight to protect the children and had locked down his end of the bond as a distraction to keep from getting them killed. The bond, sensing the reason behind his ruthless suppression, did not fight his hold until after the immediate danger was past, alerting Harry, Severus, and the Queen to his pain and predicament.
Are you alright? came echoing down the bond from three separate sources.
Assassins, Marvolo sent back, unable to keep from lacing it with pain. Children safe, knife in my side. Heading to Hogwarts. Buckingham not safe. Traitors.
GO! came the clear female command laced with a stubbornness to stay behind.
The bond surged, briefly lighting up his skin in magical patterns, forcing a gasp from Marvolo's lips even as the same held for Harry and Severus at Hogwarts. They were now charged with the children over the Queen and would act as regents if the assassins got to the Queen.
Buckingham shuddered around the five survivors as its wards whined against an assault that they weren't yet ready to handle.
It has begun, the Queen sent down the bond.
"As you command, my Queen," Marvolo rasped aloud. Worrying the children even as he forced himself to his feet. "Come, we go towards Hogwarts where Harry and Severus are waiting. Your Grandmother has to stay and order people around in the war room for a bit."
"They're here," William said grimly.
"They are," Marvolo agreed. "One of the portals must have opened nearby. They tried for the early government decapitation and it failed. Now they will attack with troops and try to take everything by force."
"We will fight them," Henry said fiercely.
"We already are," Marvolo agreed as his daughters clutched at his legs, seeking comfort. "Our job right now is to get to your dads at Hogwarts. Not to fight, not to help save people, not even to say goodbye to your Grandmother. We need to get to Hogwarts. Do the four of you understand me?"
"Yes daddy," Beatrice said quietly as Eugenie nodded and the boys stood up straighter.
They followed the path that the palace had created for them only to land in the quarters the three wizards shared with their children. An entire corridor with rooms had been offered but the first nightmares of loosing their birth parents and their new daddies being taken in a similar fashion had followed quickly after the adoption. This prompted a spacious set of rooms being converted to serve as family quarters with them each being not less than fourty feet from each other at night.
As they entered their quarters Marvolo noted that the castle had formed a wall on the outside of the windows, keeping anyone else out of their rooms. A quick summoning charm had the special enchanted strips of leather in his hand and the adult's expanded emergency bags at his feet.
"These are emergency portkeys. I want you each to have one before we go anywhere. They are all set to go to one of us if you use them but they will not pick the closest. Instead, they will pick the closest one to you with the least amount of danger near them. This is in case something happens and you need to use them while we are fighting. If none of us are in a safe enough area for you to come to us with the portkey it will take you to Hogwarts. Do you understand?" Marvolo said sternly.
"Yes sir," came from the boys while a "Yes, Daddy," came from the girls. He silently handed them each one. Red dyed leather for William, dark green for Henry, yellow for Beatrice, and purple for little Eugenie.
"If you use them you say Take me to daddy in parseltongue, our family secret language," Marvolo instructed even as the building shook and dust fell from the ceiling. "This time we are going to use Severus' special portkey."
The black ribbon he held out made the girls giggle and the boys smile. They had tried to trick Severus into wearing more than black a couple of times since the adoption and it was a running joke in the family that he loved black.
"Three of you grab a bag with one hand and the ribbon with the other. It would be just us boys but I can't reach down safely right now," Marvolo instructed. They all grabbed the ribbon and the bags were firmly in the grips of his children as the wall blew in. A shouted "Sanctuary!" saved their lives and swept them away to Hogwarts.
The dust coated group of ogres that stalked into the room sneezed at the scent of magic in the air before glowering and tearing the rooms apart, never finding their prey.
Chapter 26: Lock Down
They landed in the Great Hall just as a mock battle had ended with everyone starting to run basic field first aid as one of the new after action rules. Marvolo slowly collapsed with a quiet cry sending a ringing "Daddy!" from the lips of his children as William and Henry caught him mid fall. They saw the shrapnel in the Dark Lord's back and the flood of blood from his wounds. Before they could call for help a mix of students converged on them to render aid.
"Get that shirt off those wounds," Susan Bones ordered sharply.
"No! It will move the knife in his side!" William shouted in warning. Beatrice dodged forwards and took the cloth vanishing spell before it could be stopped, possibly saving her daddy's life and finding herself without a shirt only to try and cover up with only her hands and an angry yell of embarrassment.
"Hold!" Neville Longbottom snapped out as Susan conjured a new shirt for the little girl currently dressed in a training bra and skirt.
"Someone revive Professor Snape and someone get Madam Pomphrey! Its not a test like we thought," Susan snapped out her orders even as she conjured water to gently wash the shrapnel wounds on her patient's back.
Severus was at their side, surveying the damage, in under five minutes. He forced the post stunner headache back, planning many unpleasant detentions for the idiots who took them down when they were trying to stop the battle early in preparation of the emergency portkey and its passengers.
"Marvolo are you awake?" Severus asked gently as he cast a spell to numb the entire shrapnel peppered area of the other man's back along with a medical diagnostic spell to see what else was wrong.
"Barely," Marvolo admitted. "Knife in my side, no idea what hit my back as the portkey triggered. The children?"
"Beatrice is a bit embarrassed in her new conjured shirt but if she had let the spell vanish your shirt instead of hers you would be worse off. William and Henry are not only holding you but are also glaring fiercely at the Hufflepuff trainee that cast a bit too quickly and vanished their sister's shirt. Eugenie is being very brave and keeping people from touching the knife in your side. Some of these are deep and the knife is going to be a problem. Until Poppy gets here I need you to stay awake," Severus said firmly even as he summoned his emergency bag from where it had been dropped by one of his children.
"I'll try but I lost a lot of blood when the blade first went in. I had to ignore it in favor of moving around and trying to kill the assassins. One was a magic hater, he served as a distraction with a gun so the knife thrower could catch me from the side. Buckingham has gained enough life that she moved to guard our path and block the windows in our quarters," Marvolo rambled, trying to give the needed information and stay conscious to do it. "The wall behind me seemed to explode when I triggered the portkey. The Queen..."
"Remained behind, I know. Both of us felt the command along the bond. We tried to end the war game early so that you wouldn't be porting into a mock war zone but someone caught us from behind first. Once I find out who they are they will have a great many detentions and be on the bounty list for at least a month. Harry is checking the wards and issuing the war call we devised. Drink this," Severus instructed as he fed Marvolo several blood replenishers, a pain reliever, and an anti-infection potion. Finally, a pepper up was given to keep the Dark Lord awake and responsive as they worked on him. The pepper up would play merry hell with his sleep later. The risk was that letting him fall asleep with his current injuries meant that not only would his dead weight be too much for the boys to hold up, resulting in aggravated injuries, he also might not wake up again.
"I don't think there was poison on the blade," Marvolo hissed as said blade was carefully extracted from his side. Blood clotting spells were cast immediately after the medical cleaning spell that evicted any debris and killed any early infection in the wound.
"Perhaps not but the blade landed near your gut. If it released any of the natural bacteria and the like from your gut into the inside of the wound and we don't catch it in time you will have a slow painful death to suffer until we get you into a new body," Severus complained crankily.
"You would have already been yelling at me for Gryffindor level of recklessness and idiotic bravery if your diagnostic had turned that up," Marvolo snorted in wry amusement. "You forget, I know you."
"You forget, I am a Potions Master and a Master Spy. If I wanted you dead you would be," Severus snarked right back. "You will be sleeping in the same bed as Harry and I so that we can watch you tonight. If the children ask they will sleep on cots in the room. Its too dangerous until Poppy works on you to consider all seven of us sleeping in the same bed as yet."
"Alright, what must I do to make up for nearly getting killed?" Marvolo sighed in resignation. He grunted as the first bit of shrapnel was carefully summoned from its lodging place in his back, closing his eyes in pain and failing to see the predatory gleam in the Potion Master's eyes.
"You will find out later and don't go thinking you can get out of it either," Severus warned.
Marvolo snarled softly at the next piece of shrapnel being summoned but didn't argue the point. The three time travelers had accepted one another as fellow parents and peers. They knew no one else would be able to understand them or pull them up short if it was needed so they decided to accept the protective judgement of each other as full equals. The only time that Marvolo was unwelcome was during private special time between Harry and Severus, something he didn't mind all that much about. Anytime the three of them happened to share a bed, usually with a little prince or princess joining them, it was always platonic comfort and simple sleep.
"Professor, Madam Pomphrey was at St. Mungoes when the attack started. They were swamped and the floo networks are damaged. We can talk but not travel," a ravenclaw panted as she returned from trying to get Madam Pomphrey.
"Then my own healer training is going to get a great deal of use," Severus said grimly as he eased a larger than usual fragment from Marvolo's back. "Get the staff and send everyone back to their houses. Lunch will be delayed. If the school isn't called to meal time then it will be served in the common rooms. Those of the DA that Harry outfitted with armor need to get in that armor and be ready to fight if they aren't already."
"Daddy? What about us?" Henry asked uncertainly.
"The four of you will stay with me and Marvolo. When we put him to bed you will get to choose if you stay and keep him safely in bed, follow me around or follow Harry around but you need to stay near and stay quiet while we get ready for the enemy," Severus told them, stressing the importance of their obedience.
"Yes dad/daddy," came from the four royals.
Marvolo grunted as the last large piece was removed from his back. Severus calmly helped him stand back up, much to the delight of their children.
"As always your potions work the best," Marvolo complimented with a small smile. He was still injured but the worst ones were tended to and the blood replenishers had worked quickly to return the majority of the blood he had lost.
"Brace yourself," Severus smirked before summoning the last of the shrapnel out of Marvolo's back and vanishing it in mid-air. The sour look he received from Marvolo was met with a slightly wider smirk only to get and eye roll from an exasperated Dark Lord. Their children just smirked or giggled at the exchange while most of the students looked somewhat freaked out.
The prefects and the deputized DA members quickly rounded everyone up and got them moving back to their common rooms. The small royal family went looking for Harry after Severus sealed the last of Marvolo's wounds and repaired his clothes with a simple repairo.
They eventually found Harry arguing with the interim minister through the floo in the Headmaster's office. He was so intent on his argument to open the magical areas to the muggles seeking refuge that he hadn't noticed the changes or the four desks where once there was only one.
"Is this daddy's office?" Beatrice asked cutely, giggling with her sister at the sight of the four name plates.
"Apparently it is," Severus agreed with obvious surprise.
"Harry tell the idiot if he wants to avoid my taking up the mantel of Lord Voldemort once more and coming after him that he needs to start pulling in at the very least the women and the children under the age of fifteen. I would also appreciate it if he included the families of muggleborns and any squibs plus their families if only to save the sleeping magical blood they carry," Marvolo instructed. Harry was exasperated enough not to argue over the wording and explained exactly what had been said by the Dark Lord.
"Thanks for that, ruddy idiot," Harry said, glowering at the closed floo a few minutes later.
"The goal is to save as many as we can," Marvolo acknowledged grimly. "As such the three of us are going to have to take command of the British Wizarding World now that the enemy is here. Its time to announce Severus' heritage and your mating. For the Dark faction we announce that the three of us have adopted children together. The detail for the muggleborn will be the fact that the Queen asked us to blood adopt her grandchildren. For everyone, we explain that at least the little princesses have already shown their first bits of accidental magic as a result just this morning. It will give them all a reason to fight the invaders as one people rather than warring factions and the children will receive better protection when we are forced to take to the field."
"We are going to have to emphasize that Boy-Who-Lived crap aren't we?" Harry grimaced. Both princesses bolted only to cannon into their green-eyed parent, driving the breath from his body with a grunt of lost air.
"Daddy Harry is not supposed to say bad words!" Beatrice scolded playfully as she and her sister giggled against his stomach. Harry just smiled down at his girls and hugged them tight, spotting the boys standing regally next to his mate and earning a relieved look for his fellow parents.
"Marvolo got them out safely but not without personal injury," Severus confirmed with a nod.
"We can't save everybody," Harry sighed sadly as his little princesses tried to drive away the sadness with loving hugs.
"We know," Marvolo acknowledged. "So lets work with what we do have and save what we can. Did you send out the war call?"
"I did," Harry acknowledged. "If only London was attacked then everyone else is on alert. If they opted for an immediate full out assault then the outposts and outlying areas got the warning. The word is to pull what people they can in and lock down for the first wave of active combatants. The books and card games we were working on to help people survive and other things went out magically to every bunker and magical stronghold we had coordinates for. Incomplete as it was it was still better than nothing. With each book/card set went one of the the little magical planters that Neville came up with to produce enough food magically for whoever survives to get into the lock down."
"They used ward busters at the palace and sent assassins after either me or the children. The Queen stayed behind in the war room. If we are lucky or not so lucky they will keep her as a prisoner of war rather than kill her. Her orders still stand," Marvolo conveyed. "Those wards held remarkably well for all they weren't fully charged."
Harry winced in sympathy. It was quite possible that the Queen couldn't leave because of the ward backlash in addition to being unable to get to them or unwilling to leave her post for a safer location. Those ward busters hurt.
"I took the liberty of ordering a great many wizarding tents on the off chance we might need the extra space they will provide at some point. They are stored in the dungeons at the moment but can be brought out and positioned at need," Severus reported. "Marvolo will also be sleeping with us tonight so that we can watch him in case my healing skills are still rusty and Madam Pomphrey got caught at St. Mungoes during the first part of the attack."
"Lock Down in progress, students please report to your common rooms. Staff are to report to the Headmaster's office. Ghosts are to sweep the castle for residents and escort them to their assigned destinations. Portraits, limited spell access is granted," a sweet voice echoed through the nearly empty corridors of the school, resonating from the very stone its self.
"Hogwarts?" Harry asked the air on a hunch.
In response a semi-transparent illusion of the school, its grounds, along with both sets of inner and outer wards. The area which was classified as the outer wards contained both Hogsmeade and the next five miles further on. The section nearest the edge of the circular wardstones was lit up bright red.
"Hogwarts is there a way to fix the breach and bring the wards fully online?" Harry demanded grimly.
In response the illusion refocused on the Headmaster's office where they stood, complete with little images of themselves. The three wizard figures representing Harry, Severus, and Marvolo drew their wands and knelt facing each other as the figures of the children waited over on the stairs to the Headmaster's quarters. The words that appeared above the heads of the small figures were immediately memorized by the three.
"William, take your siblings and go stand on those stairs going up. If we pass out don't you dare come over to us until the picture says you can. This is important, do you understand?" Severus told him, meeting his younger gaze sternly.
"I promise father," William said solemnly. He quickly gathered the other three and had them stand half way up the stairs, waiting.
"In Parseltongue?" Marvolo asked lightly.
"I will have to use English unless I suddenly gained serpent speech," Severus pointed out dryly.
"~I wonder if he did?~" Harry hissed.
"~You might have the decency to not mock me within hearing,~" Severus hissed back, unaware he had answered in Parseltongue.
"Can you tell the difference?" Marvolo asked seriously.
"Of mockery and sincerity? Of course I can," Severus sniffed.
"Daddy Sev'rus can speak hissing like us!" Eugenie giggled happily, flooring the potions master.
While both of his fellow wizards enjoyed the dumbfounded look they all quickly moved to their positions and knelt, wands out on the floor in front of them facing the middle. As one they began to chant.
The words wove in and out of each other creating a tapestry of burning power that reached vines and tendrils into the stone around them before piercing their chests with lances of red-gold power. The stone rose up around them, stopping at their collars and throbbing with a blue-green light as their eyes began to glow yellow.
A badger's growl echoed repeatedly through the castle, calling on the power stored in the very stones from generations of students passing through the halls to awaken. A brilliant pool of bright white magic formed in the center of the triangle the three wizards made before flowing into the illusionary representation of the defenses. It quickly set to work healing them and bringing everything up to full power. Finally, the magic flowed into the form of a woman made of stone, dressed in robes, bearing the crest of Hogwarts on their back. The stone surrounding the three quickly subsided as they mumbled the last part of the chant before falling silent, exhausted and barely staying on their knees rather than slumping unconscious to the floor.
"It is safe to see to your parents," the woman's sweet voice told the children, releasing them from their tense place upon the stairs to check the three exhausted men.
"Well, that was most certainly a surprise," Minerva McGonagall said from the doorway with the rest of the staff murmuring agreement behind her.
"Having a human like form is usually only required during incursions, Minnie dear," Hogwarts explained with a laugh. "Our boys are quite exhausted from making such a good one for me and fixing the wards all in one go. The fields will be well fertilized with the few who got through the outer wards."
"Not the most pleasant use for the enemy dead but I can't argue that it isn't better than letting them rot where they can make us sick. Of course burning the bodies might not be feasible simply for how much fuel it would waste," Filius agreed with a grimace as they finally all filed into the room. "From what young Harry has told us we will likely be in this fight for a great many years to come."
"Indeed. That very fact is part of why it became standard to give ancient fortresses enough magic to link to the network of living buildings. Poor Buckingham has been sleeping so long she almost didn't get Marvolo and the children out in time. Gringotts is awake and taking in those it can. The Pyramids in Egypt have opened their pathways as has the stone sphinx. The ancient Mayan and Aztec Pyramids have also woken and begun collecting those they can. The Chinese fortresses are having a bit of trouble but the Terracotta army is awake and fighting back. The ancient sites in India, taken over by various priest and monks before being abandoned again to the jungle, are luring as many people in as they can for preservation. The sites in what you call the middle east mostly center around Judaism and the Christ child's people because of the blessing granted by the almighty. Australia has its own ancient defenses that will baffle the enemy," Hogwarts laughed in delight. "We are waking!"
It was to the laughter of the living magical castle that the exhausted trio of wizards finally succumbed to darkness.
Chapter 27: First Foothold
This is probably the last chapter for a bit since my birthday is tomorrow. Enjoy!
Elizabeth felt the death of her husband through the link she hadn't known was there. Knowing she had to give her magical knights and her grandchildren time she directed the palaces defenses and wards against the enemy as the first ward breaker shuddered against the ancient wards. The command she sent down the bond was multi-fold, not only were the three charged with her grandchildren's safety she had instinctively set up a several secondary commands ordering them to stay alive and take command as needed.
Should she, as the Queen, be captured instead of killed they were to consider her dead and the crown was to pass into their care until William could be crowned in her stead. William could officially choose to leave the crown in the hands of his regents until he was twenty one in part because of the war footing they had needed to assume. The documents for official abdication to trigger the moment she entered enemy hands had been a nightmare but the goblins had helped and it was all magically sealed on top of the more mundane certification. It would trigger a magical proclamation which would name her three magical knights as regents and list their heritage as well as officially announce the blood adoption, which had been kept quiet as a war time precaution.
Another ward breaker shook the building to its very foundations and she instantly knew a section of the palace had been breached even as she felt a flare of pain from Marvolo and the five of them abruptly leaving the wards. Her grandchildren were safe.
"Ma'am, we can't hold them back indefinitely," a security man informed his monarch.
"The children are away. I felt them leave through the wards. Any survivors are to fall back towards the inner palace. If this position falls any that escape are to head for Diagon Alley and Gringotts then on to Hogwarts to guard my Grandchildren. If I am captured rather than killed the crown passes to William with Sir Harry, Sir Marvolo, and Sir Severus as joint regents. I am to be considered dead and no rescue mission is to be mounted," the Queen ordered flatly. "Phillip is dead."
"Shall I initiate Magic Man?" an admiral asked quietly.
"No, initiate Low Tide instead. I want us going to ground for the next 48 hours. If Sir Harry has initiated the magical call to war he will need access to the ancient defenses which are commanded by the crown. Upon completion of Low Tide Emerald Champion is to activate," the Queen ordered. Her military officers stared issuing orders over the radio and setting her commands into motion.
The Queen didn't expect to escape this time. As strong as she was every person has a breaking point and she knew that she was getting old. Oh, she had every intention of trying to escape but she understood that realistically she might not. She had even sent her grandchildren away with the best hope they had after such an early attack.
"Assault Mages!" one of the security men shouted the warning too late. The door blew in and an area knock out spell was used. The room was out cold before they hit the floor.
A being dressed in armor resembling shattered volcanic glass stepped confidently into the room with black armored soldiers entering behind him and securing the room.
"Room secure," the armored soldier with a bright blue shoulder reported quietly to the being in shattered volcanic glass armor.
"Send them to the interrogators," the glass commander ordered before turning and heading for his next assigned target.
A soft glow briefly lit around the Queen before dissipating, triggering the capture based abdication and magical announcement. It would delay appearing publicly on the walls in the various bunkers and other locations for half an hour as the magical authority transferred and notified the various leaders.
Alucard absently acknowledged the magical notification as he traveled the shadows.
"Crimson Soldier initiated, your majesty," Alucard chuckled into the shifting shadows as he traveled before switching to telepathic communication with his most recent childer. "Police Girl, evacuate Hellsing Manor. Drag Master if you must but I want her behind the wards at Hogwarts or Gringotts within the hour. If she argues tell her I don't have time to turn her so that she can join us on the battlefield."
"Yes, master," came echoing back along the bond as Alucard re-entered the normal world into blood and chaos.
"This is going to be fun," the Nosferatu commented before lunging forwards to rip apart the nearest group of Ogres with a manic laugh.
Chanting in an ethereal language brought his slaughter to and abrupt halt. Alucard snarled and tugged on the ropes of magic, turning to face the caster. A calculated thrash of one arm knocked the mage's helmet from his head. An elven mage looked back at him angrily as the chanting increased in volume and intensity. The Nosferatu could tell that the bindings wouldn't hold him unless he allowed it with how it was designed to hold a different type of creature and his own bonds connecting him to Integra working against it. With a bloody smile he allowed the mage's bonds to settle into golden glowing chains, giving only a token protest as he was held on his knees in front of the mage.
"Not so difficult to subdue," the mage sniffed.
"It isn't as if your leaders have much worth but your attempts amuse me. I may stay or I may leave upon a whim," Alucard countered with a smirk. "You fight for only conquest here in these lands. Do you honestly think the very land its self might not fight back?"
With that last taunt delivered Alucard shattered the magical chains and slaughtered the entire elven company, leaving only a single wounded soldier to bear witness.
"We may not know what you are after, invader, but we will not simply lie down and die for your convenience," Alucard mocked before fading away into the shadows to find further entertaining prey.
By morning the portal near the palace and its immediate area were firmly under invader control. The portal had formed on the small island at the west end of the lake in St. James' park, perfectly placed to launch an immediate attack on the palace and then move on to 10 Downing street through the park. The perimeter lines of the area followed the streets with Victoria st. being the southern most border of the captured area. Abingdon st. from Big Ben to Charing Cross underground station and Trafalgar Square was the east most border. Several small streets that connected up to Piccadilly, their northern perimeter line, maintained unbroken above ground security. While the western line was basically all of Grosvenor Pl. containing the palace's gardens as with the rest of the palace under enemy control.
"Admiral?" a messenger asked carefully.
Geoffrey Williams, the Hero Admiral that Harry had identified, looked up from the map he was brooding over. He was one of the few remaining top brass of the military that had actually consulted with the Queen and the three knighted men who had collectively become known as the Magic Knights or the Wizard Knights. Marvolo was still called Dark Lord among the now informed military officers but occasionally he was labeled as the Demon Knight for his ruby colored eyes. While Severus was mostly Snarky Bastard or Snark Master but he was occasionally called the Shadow Knight. Harry, though, wasn't known by any of his wizarding titles. Instead he was called the Young General, the Emerald Knight, the Emerald Mage-General, or simply the Mage-General. A great many emergency plans made use of him as a back up command authority after his careless reveal of not only his previous status as lead commander but also of his multiple deaths.
Geoffrey himself was just damned glad they had talked the more idiotic into not trying to capture the apparent teenager for extensive experimental testing. Sir Harry might have been able to escape even if they had tried it with or without clearance but it would have been disastrous for friendly relations and for the war that came even earlier than Harry had warned it would. The wisdom of listening to the time traveling herald and immortal Master of Death who went out of his way to not only provide what intel he could but other proof as well showed in the lack of open chaos among the defenders with this first assault.
"What is it?" Geoffrey asked the messenger sharply.
"Clear reports are finally coming in. They have the palace and a roughly triangular area around it from the western edge of the palace grounds to Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. Diagon Alley got hit but repulsed the assault. The Ministry of Magic fell with 10 Downing St. London is the only active combat zone... Whatever they are after or were trying to stop the enemy is positive it is or was here," the messenger reported stoically, showing his superior the confirmed enemy positions on the map. "Everyone is on alert and the magical warning went out from Hogwarts signed by the Mage-General. The Queen was captured along with most top officers across the board aside from yourself, sir. We have confirmation that the capture based abdication papers have gone into effect with the announcement triggering after 15 minutes rather than the originally thought 30. The royal children as well as the Wizard Knights arrived at Hogwarts before initiating Lock Down procedures. The order for Low Tide went out just before capture of the war room was confirmed along with the orders to follow it up with Emerald Champion. Prince Phillip was killed early on as he was returning to the palace just as the wards took the first ward buster."
"They must have had some warning about our time traveling Knights," Geoffrey cursed. "The main incursion won't be far behind. My family?"
"Safely quartered at Gringotts, sir. The goblins are demanding your family enter training of one sort or another, which is apparently an honor, to live up to what the Mage-General showed them with his memories in vouching for you. Your wife has chosen healer training and your son has decided on cross training with warrior training and smithing. They approved of the request and added in the use of forge tools as impromptu weapons as part of his training," the messenger smirked. "Your future grandchildren are already promised training once your son finds a wife."
"Sir Harry has done wonders with what little he could at first lay his hands on and gave us months worth of warning and successful integration," Geoffrey snorted in amusement and gratitude. "Even with the early incursion some warning is better than no warning at all. As for the invaders... keep them as contained as possible. A volunteer only rescue attempt or two will be mounted to retrieve the Queen with the other captured officers as secondary objectives. If they have enough volunteers they can send in up to four teams in the next 48 hours as the first wave of attempts. We don't want them thinking that we actually want them sitting their arses on top of one of our strongholds and the royal children probably want their Grandmother back."
"Yes sir!" the messenger responded enthusiastically before dashing off to deliver the orders. No one wanted to leave the Queen in enemy hands, triggered abdication or not.
"Sir! The Russians, the Chinese, the Yanks, and Australia all have confirmed incursion attempts! There are confirmed sightings of Elven, Ogres, Orcs, enemy Mages, and Elementals. No clear indication of high ranked officers or some of the more alien oriented combatants we had warning of," a com tech reported. "The palace attack is estimated to have preceded the others by several hours at minimum."
"Not as much of an early strike team as I thought then but still damn early," Geoffrey muttered to himself.
Admiral Geoffrey Williams turned back to the maps and started plotting their first counter strike, incredibly grateful for the young man who had given them warning and saved his family. He knew absolutely that he wouldn't have been able to fuel those wards in the other timeline in the same way unless he was protecting the last of his family, which meant that he owed Harry Potter for his family in both realities. Geoffrey intended to make a serious down payment on that debt by using the information so dearly bought by forcing the invaders to pay for every scrap of blood soaked ground the bastards took.
"Get those choppers into the air and start the cordon evacuations! I want the civilians out of that hot zone asap!" Admiral Williams snapped at a nearby officer. "If nothing else lets get our people some clear lines of fire at these bastards."
"Yes sir!" chorused from various people as things began to really move.
This may be an odd request to those of you reading my stories but I feel moved to try my best to make sure you have some basics on hand in case you face something like what our characters are facing or some other disaster. Since I am being paranoid (or silly, your guess is as good as mine on that) I am going to list some very basic things that you might want to get together in an emergency bag. I have made a list for one person so adjust that as needed if the bag needs to cover more than one person, especially since a few of the items can simply be shared if its a family bag.
1 Bag - to hold everything, you can use the regular blanket or tarp to carry everything in its place combined with the rope/paracord
1 length of rope/paracord - can be used in so many ways
1 metal water bottle - plastic works as long as its reusable but you can't safely boil the water using a plastic container nor is it truly safe to keep uncleaned water in plastic if you have plans to drink it straight from the contaminated container
1 emergency water filter/water purification tablets
1 first aid kit - this should especially include some sort of antiseptic, you will also need any normal medications you might take
1 regular or camping blanket
1 pocket knife - this is an all purpose tool for cutting and can be substituted by some other blade in a pinch
1 all purpose tarp
1 cheap poncho
1-3 fish hooks with fish line - small but effective for an emergency food source both near water and for use as snares elsewhere
1 way to consistently make fire
1 cheap space blanket
non-spoil snacks - enough to eat at least one thing each day for a week
1 change of clothes (including any underwear and socks) - if its all long sleeves and pants you can cut it to something better if its too hot and use the extra material for something else. Don't go over board because this is something that might simply be turned into something else and is more optional than anything else, which is why its last on the list. Alternatively, you can wear multiple sets of all clothing (layers) so that it doesn't take up extra room in your bag but you still have it.
For those unaware China officially declared war against the US within the last few days as such if you are in either country it would be wise to have some sort of emergency bag handy in case you are told to evacuate for whatever reason.
A side effect of this in regards to my stories is that I will be using less specific locations unless they are already well known or I will use fictional locations for the coming battle sites in the story. In either case needing to plot out the battles is part of why this fic suddenly slowed down on posting.
I do realize that my sources or my understanding of said sources could be incredibly wrong in regards to the war. I just thought you should know what prompted my addition of the list. I am not advocating one way or the other, simply suggesting that an emergency bag might be a good idea for any disaster or emergency ranging from war to a tsunami to an earthquake to some idiot set the house on fire to the government says something went wrong some how and we have to leave for a little bit even though we don't believe the lame ass excuse.
Anything I give you either as part of the story or in the notes is to be taken as you see fit. I am not god, only human.
Much later edit:
Someone just reviewed with a very important addition to the list of emergency supplies. As such I am giving you the entire review to allow credit and to avoid loosing anything possibly important.
Leerna on Royal Tea - ch 28
If the person has access they can make some antiseptic solution. It's called Daikin's & all that's in it is 4 cups of boiled tap water, 3oz. Of unscented regular bleach & 1/2 tsp of baking soda. It lasts for a month. People used it during WW1.
Queen Elizabeth breathed slowly, in and out, in and out, as she came too in a comfortable bed that smelled of something like lavender but not. The slight pain in her head told that her memories were intact in that, yes, she had been knocked out by falling debris. She knew from the feel of the bed sheets alone that she was in enemy hands though it was equally obvious that she had likely been identified as someone important enough for better than average treatment as a prisoner. The bond thrummed quietly in her breast, suppressed by something she could only assume was magic.
"I wish we had a proper medic with us. I hate having to rely on the enemy for her medical care," came the quiet voice of one of her top Admirals. There was a quiet murmur of agreement from at least three more male voices.
"Gentlemen, there is no need to be quiet. I am quite awake," Elizabeth told them as she sighed and forced her eyes open to see the light blue canopy of her bed above her. She didn't dare turn her aching head to try and see anything but the cloth hovering above as though a softly falling blanket of clear sky.
"Might I suggest you not try to sit up your majesty? You have certain injuries along your torso," the voice from before suggested very carefully. Being reminded of their existence the pain flared in a sharp bright burn causing her to suck in her breath before it subsided somewhat to a slightly stronger throbbing counter point to her head.
"I am suddenly quite grateful that I did not try to sit up," Elizabeth muttered.
"Ma'am," Admiral Jason Grey greeted as he leaned over her doing a slow, careful check of her injuries as best he could. His weathered face combined with his salt and pepper hair, mustash, and kind blue-grey eyes to hide exactly how deadly he could be on the open water. He had always been second to Admiral Geoffrey Williams but they had served together for a very long time one way or another.
"Jason... who else?" Elizabeth asked, slightly breathless from the pain along the left side of her ribs.
"General Micheals, General Kirk, and Air Marshal Hendricks. We also had a couple of aids, General Jackson, and Air Chief Marshal Smith but they were taken away before you woke up. I don't think they will be returning any time soon if at all," Admiral Grey reported grimly. "As per protocol I managed to trip the papers early as one of the last to be knocked silly by whatever they were using."
"The children and the Knights got free," Elizabeth breathed quietly. "The bond is suppressed so they may not know I'm alive but the crown has been passed. How many did we loose in being captured?"
"All of the on duty guards and Marines. They slaughtered the security forces before forcing the war room open but the palace layout changed during the assault," Admiral Grey explained worriedly.
"Buckingham Palace and my Knights followed orders. They got the children out safely. The line of succession is secure and Marvolo took out the traitors assigned to kill my grandchildren. I felt it through the bond and ordered them all to focus on the children as priority. I am old and while I know well the value of the symbol I can be I also won't survive to see the end of this conflict unless our magic men pull off a miracle, ending it within the decade. I serve better as a captive to be retrieved or a martyr since I took those other steps to maintain open lines of communication. By now the designated agents and go-betweens will be making their way to Hogwarts and a new King will be crowned or at least a regent will be installed," Elizabeth told her friend with a grim smile. "Its a pity we didn't get the chance to set up magical check points to act as defense points in the streets of London but the people will find ways of doing that on their own. We are a stubborn lot despite some peoples attempts to completely disarm our people and teach them that any kind of violence is forbidden. Ha! Pacifism to even half of that degree would have had us bowing to Hitler and slaughtered in our own beds for his idea of eugenics and pure bloodlines!"
The military men cursed as they realized exactly what else could have gone wrong without the Magic Knights having come forwards and the plans hastily laid down in case the invasion did show up almost immediately. As much as they hated their Queen's ruthless logic they couldn't argue that she was wrong in her conclusions. Their jobs now had become keep the Queen alive as long as possible and their mouths shut about anything they possibly knew that the enemy could use.
"Then we are most certainly Prisoners of War," Admiral Grey said grimly. "Not that there was much chance of our situation being anything else mind you but its good to know where we stand."
"I swear if we've gotten stuck out of time like some of the old fairy tales I'm going to kill every last one of the time mages that had a hand in it," a baritone she recognized as being the voice of General Kirk of the Royal Marines growled low, making her smile at his surly attitude.
"Well, if we have been snatched to linger outside of time I may yet see my Great-grandchildren," Elizabeth chuckled before subsiding quickly with a pained hiss.
"We will just have to wait and see," Admiral Jason Grey smirked, doing his best to hide the worry in his eyes.
Magic check points and the continued open communication lines with other countries ideas are courtesy of LtsHrIt4ThSPNBoyz. Yes, dear I am reading your reviews (along with everyone elses). Thank you for reminding me of those very pertinent facts!
Chapter 30: First Breach
I deeply apologize for being away so long on this fic but here is the next chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
At Hogwarts the school finally planned to let the staff wake the three exhausted wizard knights up from their slumber just as dawn broke. Hogwarts herself had taken command of the influx of arrivals and the various resources while the magical ruling family slept. Young Prince William was kept up to date as the Heir Apparent and allowed to ask questions with the occasional change in certain tasks to let him get the feel of what was going on. This was something all four children could do to help and they made a point of doing it well.
"No, we need the Great Hall for meals and gatherings. The dusty old rooms can hold a bunch of the tents that you said are bigger inside than outside. If we set up the tents close together in the rooms then they can hold more people safely. One of the games I played on the computer taught me about growing food needing lots of land even if we can grow it fast," Prince Henry pointed out to his brother.
"If we could dig down for tunnels and grow stuff underground it would better," Prince William agreed reluctantly with a frown as they closely studied the holographic map Hogwarts was letting them play with.
"We don't want to put too many people too close together if we can help it until we must because being so close together will help start fights," Hogwarts pointed out gently. "Before deciding what tents go where you need to know how many people can be in each tent and if you want to use the already available sleeping areas as is or simply put the tents in those areas. Making more tunnels can be done later but we have plenty of fields for food so far without using special growing spells yet."
The princes were listening intently. They had only ever briefly visited before now because of the risk from Dumbledore and because of their own royal duties. They wanted to know everything but right now they had to focus on helping their people until their parents woke up.
"Yes, tunnels can be used to both house people and grow some foods but we would probably use the balconies and roofs for food first. If we absolutely must there is a special room which will let us make temporary secret passages to nearly anywhere within 750 miles. Once it would have reached 1000 miles but that was when the enchantment was last boosted and the grounds were soaked with the magical blood of our defenders. Originally, it was only supposed to reach 100 miles but then the Come and Go room, what your parents know as the Room of Requirement, was never designed to be more than a training room and armory in the first place," Hogwarts told them with a smirk. "I... tweaked the enchantment as I grew stronger and older. Mother Rowena was furious at me changing one of her greatest workings until she realized all of what I had changed it too. It took hours to walk her through the changes I made, explain why I used those changes, and keep both father Godric and father Salazar from demanding their own rooms! I will have to think of better things to call my parents than simply mother and father with having four of them."
"That's why this was one of the last safe places in the other time-place," Prince William realized. "You can make escape hatches almost anywhere in our United Kingdom!"
"I can reach the mainland, almost to the Mediterranean Sea," Hogwarts laughed with an evil smirk. "The last time they came for us we living buildings weren't strong enough to do more than act as fortresses. Sleeping so long with so many magic users walking our halls in the time since the last battle against the invaders have made us stronger. Its part of why Harry was able to last so long in the other time-place even without waking the other me properly. We even got some power from those without magic that walked our halls be they sentient being or mere animal and even from the plants. It will take us time to get used to being awake and able to more directly help, months, possibly years, but once we are awake and interacting with the people we guard we buildings can make adjustments. I have had so many young powerful magic users walk my halls for so long that I am more awake than most of the others and have been moving rooms, adding areas and generally growing for several centuries."
"How many are like you? Strong enough to grow bigger?" Prince Henry asked with a fascinated frown of concentration.
"Mostly the very old magical schools and the goblin claimed magical banks. There wasn't enough raw power to really maintain the royal palaces except for the ones built on leylines. The Forbidden City in China is strong enough for moving its parts about on its own but part of that strength has gone into the Terracotta Warriors and the underground places as well as the many local shrines. Paris is so drenched in blood of all types with the catacombs filled to overflowing with bones that the entire city might wake. It also might not be very safe to wake that city because of how drenched in blood the land is. If our enemies bring out demons though only the Christian and Jewish places will be able to completely protect those inside them. Only the Christian and Jewish peoples have ever served one who could stop demons and order them away. Any other religions and magics simply aren't strong enough to protect against and cast out demons," Hogwarts instructed them. "I, myself, have a small hidden chapel dedicated to the Christ child and I lead some of the most lost and lonely feeling muggleborns there when they need time to pray and talk to the creator. Magic is a part of me but it was even yet used in the court of King David, the one who slew the giant Goliath."
"That is a matter of opinion," a cold voice said from the doorway.
Hogwarts whirled around, intentionally putting her avatar between whoever this was and the young princes even as she triggered some of the defenses in the unguarded stairway that led to her sleeping wizards regents and new Headmasters. The man who faced them was thin faced with clearly defined wiry muscles and build, black hair that bordered on stringy with grey piercing eyes. He was dressed in older fashioned robes of good quality and carried his wand as though ready to cast at the drop of a hat. His stance was that of an experienced combatant or at least of a serious duelist.
"Which part?" Henry asked curiously even as William shoved his brother more firmly behind him like any protective older brother.
"Who, madam, might you be?" the man demanded, ignoring the boys for the moment, clearly unaware of who they were.
"The building's avatar," Hogwarts answered warily. "What do you seek here?"
"Where is the Headmaster? Or at least someone in charge?" the man demanded haughtily.
"Still collapsed from getting the defenses online so that we are safe for the moment," William said sharply. He didn't like this demanding man at all. "The Headmaster? If you're talking about Dumbledork, he's dead. Lady Hogwarts killed him and his helpers when he tried to do something bad to Dad-Harry. Our dads are sleeping, you'll need to talk to Professor McGonagall. She's the Headmaster along with our dads."
"Temper, temper," Alucard's voice mocked the man, echoing from the walls. The two Princes grinned evilly at hearing Alucard's voice. They knew with the No Life King there as well as Hogwarts they were safe. Their sisters/cousins were also safe, upstairs watching over their sleeping parents. The castle would never let the man get far enough to put the vulnerable five, three sleeping wizards and two watchful magical princesses, at risk without the man proving to be enough of a threat that Alucard would come out and play with him.
The unknown man looked around suspiciously for the source of the voice but didn't comment beyond tightening his grip on his darkly stained wand.
"I need to speak with Prince Emrys," the man said tightly. William and Henry took a moment to realize that he meant Severus before turning disapproving scowls his way. Something told them that the man was going to try take their Daddy Severus away but if he had actual important business then they knew they should probably go get their parent even if he wasn't awake yet.
"Prince Emrys? Oh dear, I'm afraid we don't have a Prince Emrys," Hogwarts said sweetly. Emrys might have been Severus' birth name but his current legal name was Sir Severus Merlinus Emrys, Lord Prince-Emrys-Le Fay, formerly Severus Snape while his professional name was Master Snape. His birth name on the other hand was probably something along the lines of Crown Prince Severus Merlinus Emrys, not that Hogwarts or the little Princes would tell this man that.
The man looked utterly dismayed and panicked at this news. In that moment whatever magical mask or shield he was using to project that he was simply a human magic user, a wizard, a magi, slipped. In an instant every single warning ward went from quietly happy to screaming warning at a major threat within the wards. Hogwarts instantly grabbed the two princes and shoved them into the same rooms as the rest of their family before locking down the Headmaster's/Lord's quarters, sealing the family inside. The alarms had jerked the three Wizard Knights into wakefulness. The three of them instantly dragged the four kids to them, firmly putting themselves between the little ones and the danger. The family listened, waiting tensely as the stone's shuddered under powerful blow after powerful blow. The furious feline snarl that echoed through the halls as metal clattered against the walls signaling the fast movements of the suits of armor. The gong though had every human scrambling for the safe zones, mostly the common rooms, library, Great Hall, and Infirmary.
"Hogwarts?" Harry asked the air tensely. They needed more information before he was forced to kill this man in defense of his family and his people.
"A changeling," Hogwarts answered distractedly. "I'll have to kill him or at least chase him off the grounds."
"Is capture and containment possible?" Severus asked instantly. He wanted words with this idiot.
"Not when he specifically asked for you by your birth name Headmaster Snape," Hogwarts snapped before returning her full attention to dealing with the intruder who probably wanted to kill or kidnap Severus.
"Hell, the assassination and kidnapping attempts the last time around didn't start until we hit hit three years fighting. They got a lucky hit on me and our forces reacted well but it was clear by how they scrambled I was important to our forces. If they are already sending people after you then you've got to be important Severus," Harry groaned as he ruffled his hair in frustration.
"We already knew that with how the elementals reacted," Marvolo pointed out archly.
"I know but it bears repeating," Harry snarked irritably. The children didn't fight being placed in the middle of the bed as the three Knights stood, waiting for the enemy to finish breaching the last defenses.
Twenty minutes later all was quiet.
"He's gone," Hogwarts groused as she let them out of the room and back into the office area.
"Escaped?" Severus asked sharply. Hogwarts nodded moodily, causing the three to curse quietly.
"We will have to add more to the wards, detection and defense," Harry scowled. "I barely got the ones we have online!"
"More work, but then we knew trying to save people would be a long term project," Marvolo pointed out in grumpy amusement.
"So, do we still get to help?" Prince Henry asked with firm or eager nods of agreement from the others.
"Yup, what did you do while we slept?" Harry inquired. So the children filled the three in on everything as the family sat down for a private meal, courtesy of the newly vigilant house elves.
They had work to do and people to protect.
What do you suggest next? Or is this a good spot to just end it?
I am honestly not sure I can run an ongoing war sim for something this potentially complex. I may be able to run computer sims in my skull that will fry super computers but that doesn't mean I can run everything at once. As such any future advancements may make liberal use of time skips.
Mark could not believe what he was seeing. Fae of all kinds were gathering in the area of the captured palace. Yet inside all of that, where the Queen was thought to be, there was a light covering a large area that flickered between green, blue, and purple. The pulsing was developing a pattern that the shop worker had seen only in children's toys for toddlers. The really disturbing part to him? It seemed to be glowing through some sort of gel and it was getting stronger.
The retired military veteran grunted and started arranging with the remaining neighbors to evacuate all humans for the next three blocks around the palace grounds. The raiding parties going in after the Queen would be warned of the voluntary evacuation so that they knew the area was going to either be taken by the enemy or become a no-mans land. A quiet word to the local bachelor lads that had been thinking of joining up and those not leaving the area were on stand by to aid in getting the Queen out if the professionals could get her into human hands.
Mark would have loved to stay and help his fellows out but as the local neighbor who had a sense for when things were going wrong he had to lead the rest away. Otherwise everyone who remained would just stand their ground to the bloody last and there were still kids hanging about. If this did finally become a battlefield then it was no place for the kiddies no matter how hard pressed their parents might be to pay for the trip out. For that end a mass evacuation of the neighborhood got everyone who was going helped out. Mark could also lead them to a secure place or at least knew what to do to get it out of a fellow service man. Once there he would first report in to whoever was in charge then start helping his neighbors to shape up into something useful if they got caught up in a scrap with this new enemy.
From his own memories Mark knew this wasn't going to be a walk in the park or even a nice little scrap. They were in it for the long and dirty haul against these fools. He just hoped whoever was playing top brass had a decent career Sargent on hand to help keep him from making to many stupid calls that just got men killed. Then again maybe he and everyone else should brush up on their old fairy tales? He could have sworn he caught sight of a High Elf earlier from behind his curtains after all. With magic being outed who was to say these idjiots weren't old time story Fae?
Something to seriously put some thought behind. First, Mrs. Marble's cakes and ladies neighborhood tea time. Perfect spot to spread the news about!
Okay, so we are going forwards with various jumps. Sometimes that is going to mean reviewing reports while others will be actual snap shots of battles and skirmishes. I need to brush up on my Fae lore a bit especially since I've crossed these guys with various video game versions on ability sets and some of the more odd quirks. I have to remember what the baseline is before the tweaking to know how far the tweaking went and if they are natural tanks (ie. Ogres & Orcs), spell slingers (High & Court level Elves), or just foot soldiers. There are also some tentative plans for the wild hunt to get involved and Sev or Harry to get properly kidnapped. Its all still up in the air so don't bank on anything just yet!