Made this cover for Wattpad, so thought I would add it here as well.
'Severus ... please ..."
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape's wand and a man stepped out of thin air right in the path of the spell. He was tall and blond and, to Harry's shock, when the green light connected with him, he grimaced, but did not fall over dead. The stranger was also holding a very large sword.
"Try that again and you will really annoy me," the man said, glaring at all the Death Eaters as if they were no more than insects.
"You have to be dramatic, don't you?" said another voice and a second man stepped out of nowhere onto the roof.
This man was also tall, but he looked like he might snap in a strong breeze and where his friend was blond, his hair looked black in the green light of the Dark Mark. This man waved his hand at the two Death Eaters Dumbledore had called Amycus and Alecto, and at Greyback, his eyes glowed gold, and all three fell over as if Stupified.
"Because that's not dramatic at all," the blond man said as if unimpressed with the display.
Harry had no choice but to remain totally still, as it seemed did Snape and Malfoy, but from shock rather than anything else. From the looks of it neither Slytherin had any idea what to do.
"Hello," said the dark haired man cheerfully and turned to Dumbledore, "this is Arthur and I'm ..."
"Merlin," Dumbledore said and for the first time ever in Harry's experience, the headmaster sounded in awe.
That made Merlin blush and smile rather awkwardly as if embarrassed by the reaction; Harry knew the feeling. He was also confused, because he had known Merlin was real, given that many things Muggles thought were legend were actually Wizarding things, but firstly, he had thought of someone who looked like Dumbledore and secondly, he had been almost sure Merlin was dead.
That was the point Malfoy fainted and Snape caught his student. Harry had no idea what to do and, since he still couldn't move, he waited for Dumbledore to say something.
"Sorry for arriving at the last minute," Merlin said, holding his hand out to the headmaster, "but everything only came together just now and so we only knew where we were supposed to be a minute ago."
For once Dumbledore did not seem to know what to say and shook the offered limb.
"I know we've rather messed up your plan," Merlin began to say.
"It's what he does best," was Arthur's dry comment and for that Merlin cuffed him on the arm and glared.
"But sacrificing yourself really isn't the answer," Merlin continued as if he hadn't been interrupted; "the Light needs you far more than you realise."
"But I am dying, My Dear Boy," Dumbledore said and then seemed to catch himself, "my apologies, you appear so young."
Merlin just smiled at that.
"Don't worry," the young-looking man replied, "I'm used to it. Never realised that there would be bleed back when I bonded myself to this prat and managed to roll back my age; most people expect a long white beard."
Harry was glad he wasn't the only one.
"Oh," and Merlin said, fishing in his pocket, "this should fix the arm."
What Merlin gave Dumbledore wasn't clear from where he was standing, but Harry saw the effects; almost as soon as whatever it was dropped into the headmaster's good hand, the withered arm began to change. The damaged flesh began to change colour and smooth out, plumping up to look completely normal. Harry had seen a lot of amazing things in his time in the Wizarding world, but that was quite incredible. It took only seconds before Dumbledore's damaged arm appeared exactly like his other one, so, although not as good as new, at least as good as it had been.
"Curses can be nasty," Merlin said with a little nod; "insidious things."
The way Merlin spoke was almost off hand, as if it was a trifle and yet Harry knew Dumbledore had access to the best possible treatment that the Wizarding world could offer, including Phoenix tears. The whole experience seemed to have flabbergasted Dumbledore and Harry was a little glad it wasn't just him.
"Thank you," was all Dumbledore seemed to find to say.
"A gift from the Sidhe for services rendered," Merlin said with a smile that made Harry wonder if the wizard has a screw loose; "always knew it would come in handy one day, just never knew when until this morning."
A little cloud of smoke rose from where whatever it was had been in Dumbledore's hand and that it seemed was that; cure complete. Almost as if he didn't quite believe it, Dumbledore wiggled his fingers and appeared delighted.
"Headmaster?" Snape asked and drew all of Harry's attention as well as Dumbledore's.
He wanted to move, he really did, but he was still being held immobile by Dumbledore's considerable power. What Harry had seen made him want to react in anger, but something wasn't right; Snape did not appear defeated or aghast, in fact the man looked relieved.
"I believe, Severus," Dumbledore said, seemingly taking Snape's notice as a reason to brighten even more, almost to his old self, "that the time for subterfuge is past. I apologise for making you do that, I believe I was mistaken. Shall we return to the main school, I believe the Order may have repelled the invaders?"
Harry was very, very confused, because the Headmaster didn't seem to be reacting at all to the fact that Snape had just tried to kill him and it seemed as if the danger was suddenly gone, even Arthur was putting away his sword. It was dawning on him that the whole roof top might have been a set-up and there was still a hell of a lot he didn't know.
"Harry, you may reveal yourself now, My Boy," Dumbledore said, looking over at him and his immobility was instantly gone.
More than glad to be able to move, he pulled off his cloak and found everyone looking at him.
"Hello, Harry," Merlin said and didn't seem to be remotely surprised to see him, almost as if he had known he was there the entire time; "it's very nice to meet you."
"Um, hi," was about the best Harry could do.
This was bizarre even by Hogwarts standards.
"Perhaps we should take this inside?" Dumbledore suggested before the situation could become even more awkward. "Young Mr Malfoy has been under far too much strain recently and we really should make him comfortable. If I may be so bold as to ask, how long will your spell keep our other guests unconscious?"
"A couple of hours," Merlin replied, glancing at the crumpled forms, "but it might be an idea to bind the werewolf, just in case. You never can tell when the wild magic with interfere."
Harry thought Merlin's magic was rather wild, but didn't say so. He was well aware that the adults could send him away at any moment if they chose to and he didn't think Dumbledore would, but he definitely didn't want to make it happen with stupid comments.
"Severus, if you would be so kind," Dumbledore requested and only then was Harry reminded that the headmaster had been disarmed because of him.
He felt the guilt rise up, but, as if reading his mind, Dumbledore looked over and gave him a smile.
Of course there was one problem with Dumbledore's request, Snape was holding Draco.
"Here, let me take him," Arthur said and walked over to the head of Slytherin.
The way Arthur then picked up Draco looked effortless and Harry couldn't help being impressed.
"This boy needs to eat more," was Arthur's comment when he had Draco.
It took them about ten minutes to secure everything on the roof and make it to Dumbledore's office via a route Harry had never seen before. In a way it was almost as if Hogwarts created a whole new back corridor for the headmaster and, having lived in Hogwarts for several years, Harry did not put it past the castle. As soon as they entered the Headmaster's office, Fawkes launched off his perch straight at Dumbledore and dropped a very familiar wand into the headmaster's hands.
"Why thank you, My Friend," Dumbledore said with a smile and now Harry was sure the tower had been, at least, partially planned, because Fawkes had to have been watching to retrieve the headmaster's wand.
With a flick of his returned wand, Dumbledore brought up the lights to a higher level and conjured a chaise and some chairs out of thin air.
"Thank you," Dumbledore said to Arthur, indicating the sofa, "if you would be so kind as to put Draco here."
Arthur did as he was asked and it was clear that Draco was still completely out for the count. He looked so pale and thin and Harry was having trouble seeing an enemy anymore; Draco was just as much a victim as the rest of them.
"Wars should not involve children," Merlin said, sounding distinctly angry about the whole thing.
It occurred to Harry that, being seventeen, technically they were considered adult in many things in the Wizarding world, but he held his tongue. He knew what Merlin meant and he would have liked it to be true as well.
"I could not agree with you more," Dumbledore said, having checked Draco over. "I wish young Draco could have been spared the pain and anguish he has suffered this year, but he and his parents would most likely have been killed had we interfered."
Sometimes it was hard to think of Death Eaters as people, but Harry was beginning to see more of the greys rather than the black and white.
"Voldemort has so many things to answer for," Arthur said in a tone that reminded Harry the man was a king; it suggested power and retribution on a more than personal scale.
"Are you going to get rid of him?" he finally found his voice and asked the question that he just couldn't get away from.
Merlin seemed to be incredibly powerful and able to do things no other wizard could do, like stepping out of thin air into Hogwarts; even Voldemort and all his Death Eaters would be no match for him. Paired with Arthur, Harry wasn't sure anything could stop the two.
"I wish we could," Merlin said, looking apologetic, "I know how destiny can be terribly difficult, especially when you are so young, but prophecy is not something that can be played with."
"If you do, bad things tend to happen," Arthur backed up his friend and Harry sat down, letting his hopes die again.
For a moment he had actually thought that he might get away without being the Golden Boy.
"But we are here to help," Merlin said, clearly trying to cheer him up, "and you'd be amazed how far you can bend a prophecy when you have to."
Arthur actually snorted a laugh at that one; it seemed Arthur had an odd sense of humour.
"You mean like the whole 'Mordred is going to kill me' one?" Arthur said and appeared very amused.
"He did kill you," Merlin pointed out as if it was a conversation they had had many times before; "he held you immobile while that vampire ate you, then he let it infect you, and you were about to munch your way through the rest of the court until I got there."
From the looks of it, Merlin did not find the whole topic as amusing as Arthur did. The way Arthur gently touched Merlin's arm in a kind of apology had Harry wondering what it would be like to have been friends with the same people for hundreds of years.
"You have the power to reverse a vampire conversion?" Snape sounded very surprised.
They'd done vampires in DADA, but Harry didn't know much about them really, so he wasn't sure why Snape sounded so shocked.
"Um, no," Merlin said and Arthur suddenly changed, becoming paler and he smiled, flashing a fang, "it's kind of complicated. Arthur is still a vampire, only not really."
Merlin didn't look as if he quite knew how to explain it.
"What Merlin is trying to say," Arthur said, fading back to normal, "is that he did something with his magic that he failed to understand and we are the result; both immortal, me with a craving for his blood, and both regressed to the prime of our lives even though we were in our forties at the time of the incident. Merlin does a lot of things with his magic he fails to understand."
"I do not," Merlin protested, but it was a very weak protest.
Harry was beginning to empathise with Merlin quite a lot, but he did notice that the dig had distracted Merlin from whatever he had been worrying about.
"How can you help us?" he asked; he almost said 'me', but he did realise the whole war wasn't about him even though it seemed very personal at times.
"I do believe I was about to ask the same question," Dumbledore said and gave Harry a smile.
Merlin opened his mouth to reply, but then looked over to the couch where Arthur had placed Draco.
"I think," Merlin said and now Harry saw Draco moving as well, "we shall have to talk about that a little later."
Draco's eyes blinked open and Harry could tell that, for a while, the Slytherin did not remember what had been happening. For just a second there was almost peace on Draco's face and then everything came flooding back. Harry knew that feeling only too well; he had woken up to a similar reaction himself too many times to count. Draco sat up very rapidly, eyes large and round and going from one person in the room to the next. Finally that gaze settled on Snape.
"You really are his man," Draco said, tone, surprisingly, not accusatory.
"It was the only way I could live with myself," was Snape's equally surprisingly, open reply.
From where Harry was standing it appeared that Draco just accepted that.
"Do you know if my parents are dead yet?" the Slytherin asked in a voice that was far too calm. "I'm sure He'd want everyone to understand the price of failure."
There was no doubt in Harry's mind that, at that moment, Draco fully believed that his mother and his father would be executed. He hadn't quite believed the Slytherin's motives on the roof top, but now he did; now he could see it was the complete truth. It gave Draco a depth that he had not appreciated before and for the first time he felt something akin to sympathy for the overly rational Slytherin. Harry had never had blood family he loved around him, but he loved what he knew of his own parents and he knew that, had they been alive, he would have done anything for them, as he would do anything for his friends. Draco wasn't really that different.
"That's being taken care of," Arthur said in a very authoritative tone; "they are being collected by a friend."
The way Draco looked at the man told Harry the Slytherin was not quite sure what to believe any more and he couldn't blame him. He wasn't quite sure what to believe anymore either.
"Are you really The Arthur?" Draco asked as if fearing to believe it.
"I am," Arthur replied with a nod, "so I think it is time you seriously considered your allegiances."
"I don't seem to have much choice," was Draco's less than committed reply.
"There's always a choice," Merlin said and looked directly at Draco, at which point Harry saw the Slytherin shiver, "you just have to make it."
Something passed between the two, Harry was sure of it and Draco gave a little nod, but that was all.
"What happens now?" Draco asked after a few moments.
"A late supper I believe is in order," Dumbledore said before anyone else could comment and a House Elf appeared out of thin air; it was Dobby. "Ah Dobby, please would you ask the kitchen elves if they would be so good as to make up enough food for at least twelve, I think, and bring it here? And also there are members of the Order on the grounds as well, they will need food and the children are being gathered in the Great Hall so we will need cocoa and biscuits for them."
"Of course, Headmaster, Sir," Dobby said, seemingly inordinately pleased to be asked to help, "Dobby will be organising it right away."
Then Dobby disappeared again.
Harry actually found himself calming down as Dumbledore took control properly.
"Now, if you will all excuse me," the headmaster said in his usual fatherly tone, "I must go and make sure everyone is alright. Please remain here until I return; I shall make sure you are not disturbed. I expect the Aurors will be here by now."
Dumbledore then swept out, leaving them all with a smile and Harry wasn't sure what to do. Everyone just looked at each other, Slytherins on one side, hero types on the other.
"Well this is nice," Arthur said sarcastically.
Merlin thumped him on the arm for that, but at least it shattered the silence.
"You know I do still bruise," Arthur complained, rubbing his arm as if it had hurt.
"Only in your imagination," Merlin replied with a raised eyebrow.
Harry couldn't help it, he laughed; no matter what else was going through his head, Merlin and Arthur were funny. Merlin smiled back at him. From the expression on Draco's face, Harry didn't think the Slytherin knew how to react to anything that was going on. If Harry's guess was right, Draco probably didn't know why he wasn't chained up somewhere ready for the Ministry to cart off to Azkaban.
Luckily House Elves worked fast and tea and a snack appeared before the awkwardness could set in again, with promises of proper food in a little while.
"Oh, thank god, I'm starving," was Merlin's opinion on the matter and helped himself to a plate, which he filled with a selection of the sandwiches the elves had provided.
It was interesting how Merlin then perched on Dumbledore's desk, handed one of the sandwiches to Arthur and then set about munching one of his own. The image this made did not make Harry think of ancient wisdom at all, more the Great Hall at teatime.
"I'd prefer something liquid," Arthur said, not looking overly impressed with the sandwich.
"Later," was Merlin's reply from around part of his own sandwich.
Harry decided not to think about that too hard and grabbed some food of his own. What he found interesting was that Draco did not move to do the same, in fact Draco did not look as if he intended to eat anything until Snape filled two plates and passed one to his pupil. Draco was far too thin, not that Harry was sure why he cared, but he approved of Snape's actions.
After a little while, the House Elves had produced enough to feed the five thousand; Harry had taken to chatting about Quidditch with Arthur while Merlin put in the odd word (that Arthur was a fan had kind of surprised him) and Snape was talking quietly to Draco. That was when the door banged open.
"Harry," Ron's familiar voice made him look up, "you okay mate? We were so worried."
It was typical of Ron to burst in without a care for himself or what might be going on in the room, but the appearance of his friends explained why Dumbledore had ordered food for so many.
"I'm fine," Harry replied and waved, "it wasn't me you should have been worried about."
"Professor Dumbledore said we should come up," Hermione said in a much more subdued tone as she entered behind Ron. "Good evening, Professor Snape, Malfoy and..."
Hermione could always be trusted to find out what she did not know and these days she was polite about it too. It was impressive to watch her work. Surprisingly there were no cutting remarks from Snape, the man simply looked less than pleased.
"Arthur," Arthur greeted, standing from where he had been lounging next to Merlin on the desk, "and Merlin."
Hermione stopped and blinked for a moment.
"Code names?" she asked in a hopeful tone.
Merlin grinned at that and shook his head, then he waved his hand and conjured two more chairs with as little effort as Dumbledore usually did. There wasn't a lot more impressive than wandless magic made to look that easy.
"We dropped in to offer our assistance," Merlin said in what Harry had come to realise was his usual cheerful tone.
Maybe wizards over a certain age went a little soft in the head, because Harry was reminded so much of Dumbledore every time Merlin spoke.
"They stepped out of thin air onto the roof of the Astronomy tower," Snape said simply, as if he did not quite trust the new help not to be an issue, even now.
"How did you do that?" Harry found himself curious so he asked the question there hadn't been time to ask earlier. "It wasn't Apparating."
Hermione's eyes were quite large and round, as were Ron's for a few minutes until he spotted the food. Weasleys were trained from birth to react to food, Harry was sure.
"I don't think it has a name," Merlin said, sipping on a mug of hot butterbeer; "I've been able to do it for rather a long time. I think you have to be of a certain age to get it right; Morgana can do it, but she's the only other person I know who can."
"Morgana?" Hermione asked quickly. "The Morgana?"
Harry had never been overly clear on Arthurian legend and he knew the name, but he didn't remember who Morgana was. Given Merlin and Arthur he wasn't sure that much of what he did know was right anyway.
"The most infamous dark witch to have ever lived?" Draco sounded awed.
Surprisingly, Arthur laughed.
"That would be my step-sister," Arthur agreed, nodding, "and she has worked hard to keep that reputation going. Always was a bit of a bitch even when we were children."
Merlin rolled his eyes.
"Speaking of Morgana," Merlin said as if the thought just occurred to him, "she should really be here by now."
Thinking that statement over, Harry was pretty sure he had missed something.
"Why would she be coming here?" he asked, somewhat confused.
"She's bringing Draco's parents," Merlin said, seemingly oblivious to his confusion.
That really didn't make sense.
"I don't get it," Ron saved him by admitting it first.
"Oh," Merlin said as if catching up that not everyone knew what he was on about; "Morgana maintains the image of being dark because it's useful from time to time, like today; she hasn't been since we were all in our two hundreds."
"She and Merlin had a long drawn out, really vicious battle and then came back friends," Arthur said as if he'd explained it a thousand times; "I still don't understand how."
Merlin just smiled an enigmatic smile.
"It's amazing what you can do when you've got rid of the anger," was all the ancient wizard said.
Harry was sure there was a story to that one, but he didn't think they were likely to get it any time soon.
"So you were enemies, but you're not anymore?" Harry wanted to be sure he had it straight.
"Hated each other for a couple of centuries," Merlin admitted with a shrug.
"Really hated," Arthur added as if he was remembering it; "I don't think anyone has ever come so close to killing either of us."
"Yes well, you can both be so insufferable," said a new voice, a new female voice and Harry found himself turning.
There, in what was becoming a very crowded office, was a woman dressed from head to toe in white. She was more than stunning with long black hair and a perfect face. Behind her were two more familiar figures, although Harry had never seen them look quite as they did then. Narcissa's dress was torn and hanging off one shoulder and Lucius was bloody and bruised.
"Mum!" Draco was instantly on his feet and by his parent's side.
It was very enlightening to see Narcissa reach out to take hold of her child with a show of maternal love that Harry had never seen in the woman before. Snape did not look surprised at the demonstration.
"What is going on here?" Lucius asked, which was strange in itself because of the way he said it; the man sounded confused and resigned, but, for once, was not demanding.
Morgana turned to the Malfoys.
"My apologies for the violence," Morgana said to Lucius, and she sounded sincere, "it was necessary. You have just been rescued."
If Harry was any judge, that didn't make any sense to the Malfoys at all and he wondered what had been going on.
"Then you're not really the Lady Morgana?" Lucius was holding his wife and son and for once just looked like a man rather than an arrogant arsehole.
"Oh, she is," Arthur said from the other side of the room, "trust me, we've been putting up with her for centuries."
"Please excuse him," Morgana said smoothly; "Arthur never did have very good manners. I am exactly who I told Voldemort I am, what he did not realise is that my reputation is somewhat inaccurate."
Merlin was already picking his way across the room.
"You should sit down and let me look at that eye," Merlin said, sounding for all the world like a medi-wizard.
For once Lucius didn't seem to be quite sure what to do, however, Merlin seemed to know how to encourage people to do things without seeming to make them and he had the family sitting on the chaise that had been conjured for Draco before very long.
"If I may ask," Narcissa said as Merlin pulled something out of his pockets and began to apply it to the gash over Lucius' eye, "if they are Morgana and Arthur does that make you ..."
"Merlin?" Merlin finished for her and then smiled. "Yes, it would."
Harry found himself watching Morgana rather than the very shocked Malfoys; the woman was elegant in a way he had never seen before, not even at the Yule ball. When he realised he was staring, he kicked himself and stood up.
"Would you like to sit down?" he asked, moving aside from his seat.
He really hadn't had good examples as a child, but he had picked up good manners along the way somewhere. Morgana smiled at him and he thought he might have stopped breathing for a moment.
"Thank you," she said and stepped around the table, stopping close to him, "that is very kind of you."
From this close he could even smell her, a light floral scent that was as heady as the sight of her. He was pretty sure even Fleur would die of envy if she ever met Morgana. The way Morgana sat down was elegant and smooth and Harry went to stand near Arthur before he made an idiot out of himself. Arthur gave him a grin as if he knew exactly what he was thinking and Harry did his best not to blush.
"So how did you decide to play it this time?" Arthur asked as it became clear Merlin was busy and no one else had anything to say.
Morgana smiled a very wicked smile.
"Oh, directly," she said and Harry had the distinct impression Morgana had enjoyed herself immensely; "I just walked in and introduced myself. Of course Voldemort didn't believe me, so I proved who I was. I really wish I could have just dealt with him, it would have been so much easier."
"Prophecy," was all Merlin said from where he had moved on to looking over Narcissa.
He really did seem to know what he was doing, moving with the same efficiency and poise Harry had seen from Madam Pomfrey. Harry didn't remember any stories about Merlin being a healer, but it seemed he had a knack for that as well.
"I know, I know," Morgana replied and Harry suspected it was a conversation the two had had many times; "but just once I wish we could act directly."
"We had our time," Arthur said in a very un-Arthur like tone in Harry's opinion.
Morgana raised an eyebrow at Arthur, it looked as if she thought it was un-Arthur like as well, but then she sighed.
"Anyway," she said, changing back to her story telling, "Voldemort seemed to like me, especially when I put a couple of his Death Eaters on the floor just by looking at them. I don't think they'll be attempting to paw a woman without her permission again in the near future."
That was a mental image Harry liked and wished he had had a chance to see it. Morgana's attitude appealed to his more vicious side.
"He wanted me to join him," Morgana continued her tale, "and so I said I'd think about it since I was looking for some amusement. You'd be amazed what people believe when they think you're a psychopathic bitch."
"What do you mean, think?" Arthur quipped and received a death glare from Morgana.
Harry tried not to smile, he really did; but the banter between the three immortals was funny.
"He offered to let me watch him kill Lucius and Narcissa for failure," Morgana continued, seemingly ignoring Arthur and treating his comment with the contempt she felt it deserved, "so I just made him a counter offer. I told him I wanted something to play with and they would be perfect, so he should give them to me as a good will gift. It took a little grandstanding, but he agreed. I'm going to have to blame their freedom on you and Merlin of course."
"It was an amazing battle," Arthur said with mock sincerity and handed Morgana a glass of the wine the House Elves had brought up along with the Butterbeer and tea.
Harry could not really imagine what it must be like to wield the power it was clear Morgana and Merlin possessed and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. He had always thought of Voldemort as powerful and Dumbledore, but these two, beings, was the only word that seemed to fit them, were beyond anything he knew.
"The stories had better be spectacular," Morgana said and she seemed serious; "I will not be seen as weak; it would damage my reputation."
"We'll make it epic," Merlin promised and Harry looked over to see that the other wizard seemed to be satisfied with whatever he had been doing.
It was then that Dumbledore chose to reappear.
"Ah, good, we are all here," the headmaster said as he entered the office, "I do hope everyone is finding the food to their liking."
"It's lovely, thank you," Merlin said with a smile. "Professor Dumbledore, may I introduce My Lady Morgana."
"A pleasure to meet you," Dumbledore said without so much as batting an eyelid at Morgana's name.
Morgana gave him a smile and bowed her head in response.
"The Aurors have taken the few Death Eaters in our custody," Dumbledore told the whole room, "and the children are being sent back to bed. I am sorry to inform you, Ron, but your brother Bill has been injured; Madam Pomfrey is looking after him in the hospital wing and he will be transferred to St Mungo's as soon as possible."
Ron looked aghast, and Harry would have gone to his friend if the office hadn't been so crowded with people and food that there was no way through.
"I understand he is in no danger," Dumbledore assured Ron gently, "and you may go down to the hospital wing if you wish, but Madam Pomfrey will send a message as soon as Bill is allowed visitors if you would prefer to wait here."
The expression on Ron's face was torn.
In the end Hermione made the decision for him.
"Come on, Ron," she said, taking Ron's hand and standing up, "let's go. Harry, you'll let us know what happens later?"
"Just don't make Madam Pomfrey throw you out," he said, trying to distract Ron a little.
Ron gave him a watery smile for trying and then the other two Gryffindors were leaving.
"Were there any other casualties?" Merlin asked, clearly concerned.
"Nothing serious, thank heavens," Dumbledore replied and Harry gave a sigh of relief.
Glancing over at Draco, Harry saw a similar look of relief on the Slytherin's face as well, although Draco seemed to be trying to hide what he was thinking more now that his parents were there.
"Now," Dumbledore said, eyes becoming very serious, "I believe we have some business to discus."
"The first thing to be done is to get rid of those filthy Dark Marks," Morgana said and shocked at least the non-Immortal half of the room into silence.
"I was unaware that was possible," Dumbledore said eventually and Harry was pretty sure he was speaking for everyone except Merlin, Morgana and Arthur as well.
Morgana smiled, although it was not a happy smiled.
"It's possible," Merlin said simply.
"Let's not deny the truth, Merlin," Morgana said in a self-derogatory tone, "no matter what Voldemort may have told his followers he did not invent the spell, I did, a very long time ago. He must have worked very hard to find it and he added to it, but fundamentally it is mine. Not my proudest achievement."
"What did you invent it for?" Harry asked before his brain caught up with his mouth and he realised that it wasn't an overly tactful question. "Um sorry," he apologised almost instantly.
Morgana seemed to find that amusing more than anything else.
"A very similar use as Voldemort has put it to," she said and gave a little shrug, "but I only ever employed it twice."
"And how is it removed?" Snape asked and for the first time ever Harry heard something like hope in the man's voice.
It occurred to him that maybe the shadow he had been living under was very similar for the potions master.
"A complicated mental spell and a great deal of magic," Morgana said simply; "to remove the mark is far more complex than to set it, but it can be done."
"And you would be willing to do this for us?" Lucius entered the conversation for the first time since Merlin had ushered them to the chaise.
The man sounded surprisingly hopeful, not really what Harry had expected. He did not claim to understand the minds of Slytherins, even though he had almost been one himself, but he honestly hadn't expected that reaction.
"Willing is not the issue," Morgana said firmly; "we insist on it. What you may or may not have realised it that the moment he put that mark on you he contaminated you. His influence has been twisting your minds ever since, even when he was almost dead."
Snape didn't look as if he was surprised by that; Lucius and Narcissa didn't appear shocked, but it seemed to be confirmation of something they hadn't quite believed.
"And this will take how long?" Snape asked and he was still reserved, but the man seemed almost eager.
"Give me your arm and I will show you," Morgana said simply.
Harry noticed that Snape looked to Dumbledore first.
"As I said, Severus," Dumbledore said almost instantly, "the time for subterfuge is over."
Without so much as a thoughtful Slytherin hesitation, Snape held out his arm and rolled up his sleeve. It was a very telling move and one that Harry made a mental note of. Snape was actually eager.
"It's going to hurt," Morgana said, rising from her chair and walking over.
"Not unexpected," was Snape's terse reply, but he did not flinch when Morgana took his arm, wrapping over the mark with her long, elegant fingers.
"There is one last catch," Morgana said and Harry could tell she was looking directly into Snape's black eyes; "you have to want it."
Perversely that made Snape smile in a not altogether unpleasant way.
"That is not an issue," the man said without elaborating.
Morgana looked over at Merlin who nodded and held out his hand, eyes going gold and Harry felt the atmosphere in the room shift.
"We are now hidden from the rest of the world," Merlin said, voice reverberating just slightly, as if the power contained within him was trying to get out. "Voldemort will not feel what we are doing."
It was a little eerie seeing Merlin standing there. If Harry had not known Merlin was on their side he would have been very afraid; there was no doubting that Merlin was more than a man.
"Brace yourself," was the only warning Morgana gave and the energy crackled around her hand.
A gasp came from Snape and then his face became a blank mask, fixed and staring. It was the face of someone who understood pain, who knew how to contain it and Harry was under no illusion that Snape was now in a great deal of discomfort. Morgana was speaking quietly under her breathe, words that Harry could not quite hear and did not understand when he could catch them. The magic in the room was making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and he shivered at the feeling. He realised as he watched them that Merlin and Morgana were far closer to magic than any wizard or witch of the modern day. He wondered if it was the same way humans were more remote from nature, keeping themselves apart and using it rather than being part of it as they had been in the past. Maybe the Wizarding world had separated itself from magic in the same way with their wands and precise spells.
Whatever the truth, he could feel the power in the two immortals and it was elemental.
In the end, Harry was not sure how long it went on, but energy continued to ripple over Snape's skin directly from Morgana's hand and then suddenly it was over. Morgana ripped her hand away from Snape's arm and looked down. From where Harry was sitting he could see Snape's Dark Mark clearly and before his eyes is faded away.
Snape's expression was a picture; the man appeared stunned and didn't seem to know how to react. It was then that Harry realised Snape hadn't actually expected it to work. After a few seconds, Snape schooled his features and then looked up at Morgana.
"Thank you," was all the man said, but the sincerity was such that it was more eloquent than a full length speech.
Morgana simply bowed her head in response.
It went pretty well the same with Lucius and Narcissa, although Lucius did have to hold his wife up towards the end. When Morgana looked at Draco, the Slytherin simply shook his head. Harry found it interesting how Morgana told each one the same thing about the requirement to want the mark gone and how neither Lucius nor Narcissa had any trouble with that at all. He concluded that a hell of a lot had to have happened since he had last heard one of Lucius' speeches about pure blood.
"He never marked me," Draco said quietly; "my father convinced him it would be better that way."
Something about the way Draco said it made Harry think it had not been an easy discussion for Lucius, but then Voldemort was not known for his rationality when crossed, even a little bit. It began to occur to Harry that over the last year Draco had probably seen the darkness of Voldemort up close and personal quite a lot.
Morgana glanced over at Merlin who lowered his hand, eyes returning to their normal blue. The change this time was not so distinct, but it was as if Harry could feel the real world fading back in around them. It was a very peculiar feeling.
"I think, perhaps," Dumbledore said as everything returned to normal, "it is time to find the Malfoys somewhere more comfortable to stay."
A House Elf popped out of thin air.
"Ah, Finky," Dumbledore said with a smile, "are the guest quarters in the east wing ready?"
"Yes, Headmaster Dumbledore, Sir," the elf said, bobbing her head and looking very pleased with herself, "the beds have been being made and the fires lit."
"Thank you, thank you," Dumbledore said, doing his usual impression of a dotty old man, "that is perfect. If you would be so kind as to show Misters and Mrs Malfoy the way and then retrieve whatever Draco asks you to bring from his dormitory; he will be staying with his parents for a while."
All three Malfoys appeared equally surprised by Dumbledore's actions and all three seemed rather shell-shocked.
"We will speak further in the morning," Dumbledore said, looked at each of them in turn and it was almost ominous, but being from Dumbledore, not really.
Harry had no idea what Dumbledore planned to do with the Malfoys long term and he was too worried about other things to think about it very hard, so he stayed well out of it. No one was trying to deny anything or claim ignorance, which was a nice change, but he had no idea what it would be like in the morning.
"Please to be coming this way," Finky said in her squeaky little voice and gave the Malfoys a little curtsy before leading them towards the door.
Surprisingly the family just followed without so much as a remark from any of them. They were Slytherins, they would probably have a plan by morning, but just about then they seemed to be simply human.
"Is it wise to leave them at liberty in the castle, Headmaster?" Snape asked as soon as the office door closed behind them.
"They have nowhere else to go, Severus," Dumbledore said simply, "and I believe that they are all Slytherin enough to realise where their safety lies."
Some would say that Dumbledore's attitude was often foolhardy, but, for once, after a moment's thought, Snape seemed to simply agree. So many things were different because of the arrival of three people and Harry found his eyes wandering over to where Merlin, Arthur and Morgana were standing. They were a mystery really, coming out of nowhere and throwing everything into the unknown and Harry had a whole heap of questions.
End of Part 1