- The Phoenix – Season One, Episode One – Awakening
- The Phoenix – Season One, Episode Two – Standing
- The Phoenix – Season One, Episode Three – Scheming
- The Phoenix – Season One, Episode Four – Partying
- The Phoenix – Season One, Episode Five – Traveling
- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Rule 63
After breakfast and Hedwig’s return, Harry sends her out to collect Madam and Lord Bones.
“I have two issues,” She tells them as Hermione settles onto a fluffy rug on the floor to read. “First of all, magical hygiene spells. I know they exist but the ones I know aren’t modern and they aren’t,” She hesitates. “For women. If you know what I mean.”
Amelia Bones nods. “I understand. For example, I don’t think they had invented the Oral Health Ward the last time you were alive?”
Harry and Hermione exchange a glance, eyebrows raised. “Oral Health Ward?”
“A small runic array a healer places on the roof of your mouth. You run your tongue across it with intent and it’s like the tooth cleaning charm. It also keeps your gums strong and healthy, keeps food from getting stuck in your teeth, and you can choose a new post-cleaning flavor everytime you activate it.”
“That’s amazing!” Harry grins.
“You have to be 15 years old to get one.”
Harry deflates. “You damn tease.”
Madam Bones laughs and asks, perhaps wisely. “Do you have books on the matter?”
“No,” Harry pouts. “It’s something neither of us thought about.”
“I’ll grab two copies of something and come back tonight. We can have a girls’ night to go over the high points.” Madam Bones looks surprisingly pleased to offer.
“Is there a magical form of nail polish? Because Dr. Amy’s nails look amazing but that chemical smell when she applies it is intolerable.”
“There’s a whole chapter on nails in the book I’m going to get you.”
“Fantastic! Now the second thing, Sirius Black is innocent.”
The Boneses stare at her for a moment.
“What?” Lord Bones asks faintly.
“Sirius Black. My godfather? He’s innocent. I have several letters and journals from my parents where they both separately detail the plan to hide and protect me from Voldemort. There they say quite clearly that Sirius was not the Potter Secret Keeper but that he did claim it more or less publically to throw suspicion of the real Secret Keeper, Peter Pettigrew.
“The Will that has apparently never been enacted says the same and that’s a legal document so if you find that it would definitely help your case.”
“That’s why Sirius went after him.” Amelia breathes in something like both relief and horror. She runs a hand over her face. “But the muggles. He killed twelve muggles when he blew up a street to murder Pettigrew!”
“Did he?” Lord Bones asks. “He was an ICW-certified Hit Wizard and an Unspeakable in training. If he wanted someone dead, they would have never seen him coming.”
“But, wasn’t there a trial?”
“Was there?” Merlin asks this time. “I wouldn’t trust a crisis time Ministry enough to assume such. How about this? I’ll have the goblins start searching for my parents’ Will, you go looking for the trial record, and your father will fetch Sirius Black from Azkaban. Unspeakables have blanket permission to experiment on convicts, so Croaker can take him to the DoM and get someone started healing him. Be very careful with who you pick for his healing team. Someone politically neutral that takes their healing vows very seriously would be our best bet for him, you know, surviving.
“With a bit of luck he’ll be in decent shape by the time we manage to get him officially freed.”
They both nod but Lord Bones tips his head and quirks an eyebrow at him. “You’re showing a lot of faith in a man you’ve never met.”
“My father had faith in him,” Harry corrects. “But my mother was a different matter. She insisted on a very specific vow before she allowed him to become my godfather and she was the same when making Alice Longbottom my godmother. I can’t tell you exactly what the vow is, it’s a Potter Family Secret, but there is no one on the planet I am safer with than Sirius Black.
“And yes, that includes Arthur. My soul mate.”
“Alright,” Lord Bones swallows hard. “We are getting a group of subjects from Azkaban this afternoon. I need to get a move on if I’m going to alter the document without it drawing any attention.”
“Go. Madam Amelia, will you still return tonight?”
“Yes. Yes, of course. I’ll have an elf pop over the books so you two can read up during the day.”
“Thank you, good luck to you both.”
Amelia and her father nod to their, well, their patron and immediately exit the back of the little muggle house to apparate away. She goes directly to Diagon Alley, to Flourish and Blotts, fulfilling this promise first because it will be the fastest for her to keep.
Master Blotts laughs when he sees her. “Miss Potter managed to forget something?”
Amelia rolls her eyes. “Hygiene spells, makeup charms, general girl stuff.”
“You’ll want Femme Fatale’s Guide for Girls by N.K. Zabini. Best option I have.” The man says with a nod. “Better grab two.”
Amelia gives the man a smile she knows to be vaguely pained as she moves the shelf he indicates. Of course she still does grab two, she’s not stupid. When she moves to pay though the man waves her off.
“She made my sales for the quarter. Most of the next one too,” He explains. “I can give her this one.”
Amelia nods her thanks and leaves for the Ministry.
When she enters the lift down to the DMLE records rooms she calls for an elf. “Errand,” and a little female appears before her. “I need you to take these books to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. You should find them together. Just leave the books and come back.”
“Yes, Lady Madam Deputy.” The elf says as she takes the books and pops away.
The three hours she spends pouring over the Records leaves her shaken and when she finally sweeps into the DMLE, it takes every ounce of willpower to keep her face in a neutral but stern mask.
“Kingsley with me,” she orders without stopping.
He immediately falls in line as she had expected he would and follows her right into her office.
“Shut the door.” She finally looks up once the door is closed. She raises privacy wards and faces him across the desk. “Kings, I’m going to need a vow from you. I’ve received a hot tip that we -just the two of us- are going to be investigating together.”
“How hot?” He asks with a frown.
“Lava and some very big names are going to get burned. You in?”
In answer he pulls his wand. “I, Kingsley Ambrosius Shacklebolt, solemnly swear on my magic to hold the information Amelia Bones provides to me today in her office at the DMLE and everything we find in the resultant investigation sacred and secret, only to be discussed with her until she instructs otherwise.”
“Very thorough, Kings, thank you.” She takes a deep breath. “I have it from a solid source that Sirius Black is innocent.”
Kings immediately sits down, hard. Of course he does, he was the fifth Gryffindor boy in James Potter’s year. He knew- Them.
James, Lily, and Sirius. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.
“Exactly.” She nods and takes her own seat. “And I couldn’t find a trial record either. I just checked all three records rooms and there’s nothing with his name on it in any of them other than the cases he worked as an Auror. I want you to go through the entire record of people sent to Azkaban, starting 5 years before the War to present and make sure all of them actually received a trial. Once we have a complete list, we’ll review it together and go from there.
Kings nods, still looking shocked, and runs a hand over his face. “This is going to be a huge task. You might consider bringing in more help.”
“Like who? You’re right, it’s going to be huge but everyone else has unshakeable ties – to Dumbledore, to Malfoy, to Minister Fudge, to this lord or that, for the purebloods, against the purebloods. All of that, any of that, weakens their neutrality and could compromise the case.”
“You’re right, of course. But how are we going to get this to trial without political ties killing it?” He asks, honestly curious.
“Let’s make sure we have something to take to trial first but, if I know the person that gave me this tip, they have a plan -a plan within a plan, most likely- and it will be something completely unexpected.”
Kings frowns at her for a second like he’s trying to figure out her mysterious Source but in the end he just nods. “I’ll be in Record Room One if you need me.”
“I’ll work from here. You start in the past and work forward. I’ll start now and move back so we double check each other as we go.”
The sound of Harry’s voice startles Hermione so bad she’d hit the floor if she wasn’t already laying on it.
“Wait, little one, come back. Please?”
Hermione sits up and looks over to see Harry staring intently at empty air. As she watches, a small form with large bat-wing like ears and a pencil nose shimmers into place exactly where Harry is staring.
“Thank you for bringing us the books,” Harry touches a set of two books gently. Hermione hadn’t even noticed them sitting on the coffee table. “But you don’t look so good. Who is your Wizard, little one?”
“I have no wizard, milady,” the creature says in a tiny, cracked voice.
Harry frowns and holds out her hand, conjuring a small glowing ball of light in it and handing it to the elf-like creature.
The… elf? makes a pleased noise and snatches up the ball, clutching it to her chest.
“Why don’t you have a wizard? You seem like a good elf.”
“Master died in the war.” The elf says to the ball of light clutched in its hands. “Too many elfs now for Wizards.”
“You’re living off the ambient magic of the DMLE.” Harry says with dawning understanding and the barest edge of horror.
The elf nods.
“How many elves are living off the DMLE, little one?”
“What’s your name?”
The elf frowns and finally looks up at Harry. “Errand 3.”
Harry gives her a sad smile. “That’s your job. What’s your name?”
There’s a moment of heart shattering silence as the elf just stares in confusion. Then she blinks and finally answers. “Missy, milady.”
“Missy,” Harry smiles gently. “Is Gemsen still around?”
“He passes five years ago, milady.”
“That’s what I thought when he didn’t present himself to me days ago.” Harry sighs. “How many elves do you see I can support, Missy?”
“Oh, dozens, Milady Wizard. More as you grow.”
“And my sister?” Harry points at her.
The elf squints at Hermione, still clutching her ball of magic. “Six now, a dozen later.”
Harry nods. “Would you like me to be your Wizard? You won’t be my head elf, I need my head elf to take care of me and your work taking care of the DMLE is much too important for that.”
“Really?” The elf’s voice cracks, she looks near tears as her ears quiver dramatically.
“Really. You take care of the DMLE. Keep the offices clean, make sure the aurors eat regularly when they are at work, and have what they need to do their jobs and I’ll make sure you’re alive to do it. I’ll take the other two too, then you can come up with a schedule so you all can eat and sleep and take care of yourselves as needed, sound good?”
In answer two more elves pop eagerly into place and Harry laughs in a way that sounds like it hurts
“I’ll take that as a yes. All I require is for you to take care of yourselves, wear a proper uniform that we all agree on, and keep the aurors’ secrets but bring me those secrets when they are bad things like if they take bribes or tell lies that hurt people, okay?”
All three elves nod.
“You agree to my terms?”
“Yes!” One says.
“Please!” The second echoes and Missy just clutches the little ball of light closer and nods fit to make her head pop off
“Jinks.” The first one immediately supplies
The second one blinks, momentarily confused just like Missy was. “Hexi.”
“Missy, Jinks, and Hexi, welcome to the House of Emrys.” Harry brings her fist to her heart. “I will honor your gift of service until I draw my last breath or you chose to leave my service.”
All three elves bow together and say, “Thank you, Lady Emrys, for the gift of your magic. For the sacrifice of your magic, we give our service to your House from this day until your death or until we request to leave your service.”
Hermione’s jaw drops as light surrounds all four of them.
When it washes away all three elves look, maybe not younger but definitely healthier. And rather than the filthy, disgusting things that might have once been pillowcases they are wearing what Hermione recognizes as an altered form of the auror uniform. Rather than the long red coats she’s read about with either black, silver, or gold accents depending on rank, these are blue with copper accents. Simple, supple leather too, rather than dragonhide and she can just make out black boots peeking out from under the coats.
The elves and Harry look pleased with it so that’s that.
“How does one find personal elves these days?” Harry asks the trio.
“You tells an elf what yous need, we will spread word, and one will shows up.” Hexi says. “We knows yous magic now, so we can find yous a best match, Miss Lady Wizard.”
“Alright. I need an elf as a personal attendant for myself, one for my sister, and perhaps one for our family. Either my personal elf can serve as my head elf or mine and Hermione’s elves can pick a third for the job.”
“Wes find you the best elfs.” Missy promises.
“Very well, you may go.”
The three elves pop away and Hermione can’t help but ask, “What just happened?”
Harry sighs and looks at her and as she’s wont to do, she starts with an apparent non sequitur. “You’ve heard of the Black Plague?”
Hermione just raises a disbelieving eyebrow because, really? Who hasn’t?
Harry flashes a grin at her but sobers quickly. “Magical humans were immune to the muggle disease, like we often are. That was my third life? I think. I did as much as I could to save people, limit loss of life as much as I could. Even with the Ministry ordering and threatening me not to.” She sighs and rubs both hands over her face. “I wish I’d have thought of using the Order but in my defense, I was in a panic and losing Arthur to the Plague had just about killed me.
“Regardless. Magical humans were immune, but not all magical creatures were. Two entire species of dragons were lost wholesale. Centaurs were all but eliminated on the European and Asian mainland. The unicorns, thank the gods, saw it coming and even though they were unable to tell us what spooked them, they ran far away from the affected areas and protected themselves.
“The Lesser Elves, however. Brownies, as some call them. They weren’t immune and it’s not in their nature to leave others in harm’s way without helping. The truest of Hufflepuffs, they are, and because of that they caught the Plague and it,” Harry hesitates. “It mutated them. They have a sort of hivemind – that’s how the other two knew what I asked Missy and showed up, and it’s how they’ll find elves to fill out our household while still doing their assigned tasks. The Plague actually strengthened that but in turn it killed off their Queens.
“Originally Lesser Elves used to bond their magic to each and their chosen Queen to stabilize their magic by sort of feeding it to each other. A feedback loop kind of thing, I guess. Without the Queens they couldn’t make those bonds though and without those bonds, their magic eats at them like acid. It eventually destroys their bodies and their minds.
“We lost so many,” Harry shakes her head, sad and ashamed. “I don’t have an accurate count because we didn’t even notice until humanity started to stabilize. But eventually we did notice. I noticed and with their permission I altered them further. The magic I casted allowed them to anchor in and feed their magic from a human with the oath you just saw. Even mundane humans put off stupid amounts of magic by just breathing so it doesn’t harm us, the actual witches and wizards, and it keeps the elves safe and healthy. Makes them more powerful too because they no longer have to feed their magic into other elves though most of them still choose to. Or they did back then. Anyway the bond with their wizard also passes several of our immunities to them. In return they do what they are naturally inclined to do. Just with an assigned target, I suppose.”
“After all that, it must be nice to find out that there are now more elves than humans that can support them.” Hermione guesses when she’s sure Harry is finished.
“If by nice you mean horrifying, yeah. A magical child could support an elf back when I altered them. To find out that now there aren’t enough magicals that can support them? Either we as a people have gotten terrifyingly weaker or magical humans are on the verge of extinction. Or both.”
Hermione is silent as she absorbs that then she nods. “Maybe that’s why you were reborn now?”
Harry smiles humorlessly. “Yeah, probably. I thought it was this Voldemort business but now? I’ll still take care of that foolishness because it’s either a symptom or a cause. Either way it means I have a lot more research to do and I probably need to very thoroughly interrogate if not Voldemort then as many Death Eaters as I can get my hands on.”
“Alright. What’s the plan?” Because Harry is bound to have at least three.
Harry laughs. “What’s the next day both of your parents plan to be out of the house? I mean all day?”
Monday is the day.
The day the final phase of the plan to find out if her overall plan will work is set to commence.
Monday is one of the two to three days a week Dr. Amy, who is actually an oral surgeon contracted with various dental practices, always works. Because it’s her day at Dr. Robert’s practice and they make the most of it, taking lunch together, getting groceries on the way home, and everything.
“Ready?” Harry asks her trusty accomplice.
Hermione nods once, completely firm.
They’ve gone over the plan backwards and forwards at her insistence and Hermione knows exactly what is expected of her. Maybe not exactly what to will happen because magic but she knows what Harry needs from her for absolutely sure.
“I, Merlin Ambrosius Emrys, command Arcturus Orion Black, sworn member of the Order of Merlin, to present himself immediately for judgement and assignment!”
A clap of thunder and there is a barely breathing pile of blankets on the floor in front of him. Merlin frowns and reaches down where the pillows make him think the head is. A quick tug reveals a pale old man looking like the next strong breeze will knock him straight into the grave.
“Well that won’t do.” Merlin levitates the man, blankets and all onto the closest couch. He opens the little silver locket he made for himself life times ago and pulls out a thin red film.
“Open,” He orders and the old man opens his mouth.
“Tongue up,” the man complies and he sets the film under the man’s tongue.
“Close. Don’t swallow or chew, just let it melt.” Over the next several moments color begins to return to the man. Like watching a flower bloom on fast forward life returns, his breathing grows stronger and he sits up a little, his eyes finally open tracking properly.
“You are Harry Potter.” Somehow the man doesn’t sound surprised.
“I am but I am also Merlin Reborn. How would you like the House of Black go down in history as the greatest allies of the Second Coming of Merlin?”
Lord Black frowns at him sharply. He huffs and stews for a minute but in the end glares.
Merlin raises a single eyebrow. If the man is half as Slytherin as claimed, there’s a test coming.
“Many would murder for such a chance but, as you see, I am not long for this world.” The man harrumphs. “And I have no heir. I have nothing to give you. What you offer is impossible.”
“Not impossible, merely difficult.” Merlin corrects. “Your heir yet lives and is in fact innocent of the horrible things of which he was accused. I am already working to secure his release and, as you can see, I have the ability to extend your health. In exchange for your loyal service, I will grant you another 20 powerful, healthy years in this life.”
Lord Arcturus Black’s eyes narrow, assessing, and then he nods once. “What would you have of me?”
“You will re-establish yourself in the Wizengamot as much as you can before September. I don’t expect you to make friends with the other members of my order or to even agree with them in public but you will need to work with them to meet my goals in the future.
“I want you bring your family to heel. Lucius Malfoy is using the Black name and the assumption that Draco -rather than my godfather- is your heir to further himself. I want you to show him how we feel about that.
“I would also appreciate it if you organized an independent solicitor to instruct the Daily Prophet. An Order member, preferably. The Prophet is part of the Emrys business profile and it needs to behave appropriately. The lies it’s been spreading, doing the Ministry’s will, and having their own people write those terrible books about me are, I’m sure, just the first examples I’ve seen of their misbehavior.”
The man blinks. “For my health and Sirius’s freedom, I would sleep with Dumbledore, Umbridge, and Fudge, what you ask is no great burden.”
Merlin nods and stands to leave. “Then I have a potion to make. Hermione will review your family with you and make my preferences very clear.” He evaluates the man for another moment. “There is a population crisis imminent to our people, Lord Black, and the House of Black should lead by example to resolve this issue so in addition to all of this I will give you an additional year of good health for every child the House of Black produces within the 20 years I have already promised you.”
He quits the room before the man can respond.
In the four days Merlin has been with the Grangers, the room above the garage has changed significantly. The windows looking over the back yard have been expanded to cover almost that whole wall and are now charmed so that post birds can come and go freely. He left the little bathroom alone but had the elves retrieve a potions work bench and a magical ventilation set up from the Potter vaults. That he personally installed up against the wall furthest from the rest of the house to the left of the stairs and the bathroom. And, of course, there is a super comfortable reading nook and another area with a writing desk in the space he added with a rune-based expansion charm on the other side of the stairs from the potions area.
“Archy,” he calls and his newly-bonded head elf pops into place at his side. “Bring it,” he orders. The elf doesn’t have to ask, he just nods and immediately pops away again. The elf doesn’t need to ask questions. Between his status as the last elf Merlin’s previous elf Gemsen birthed and the probably excessive amount of magic Merlin poured into their bond he didn’t even really need a verbal order.
When he returns, he’s holding a charmed iron lockbox taken straight from the Emrys vaults.
At first glance the box looks like nothing more or less than a block of solid iron. There are no marks on the outside, no seems, but then Merlin puts a hand on the top of the box and pushes some magic into it. When he lifts his hand the lid comes with it, revealing the rune-covered interior and the glittering Sorcerer’s Stone adhered to the lid.
Nicolas Flamel is not the only one with a Stone. He’s not the inventor of it nor is he in fact the first to make one. He isn’t even master of the largest Stone currently in existence. He’s just the most famous and blatant about his use of it and the rest of the owners are fine letting him be hounded and hunted for his Stone. It gives the other three more peace on the matter.
Merlin flips the lid and sets the Stone on top of its warded container. Then he turns to put his ancient platinum cauldron, also from the Emry’s Vault, over his flame burner. He has to work quickly but competently.
The Elixir of Life is very tricky to make and has a very short shelf life.
It’s also likely to explode with the slightest misstep and it is not a potion that explodes small. If it were to go, it could quite easily take the Granger house and the houses on at least three sides with it.
By the end of the first hour, he’s sweating like he’s been in a race and there’s a fine tremor in the muscles of his arms. The fumes are dangerous and growing stronger so he kicks up the ventilation two steps but keeps going because that means he’s got it right.
Half an hour later, he walks back into the Granger living room bearing a simple wooden goblet full to the brim with a blue liquid giving off gold smoke.
Hermione is sitting on the couch beside Lord Black’s reclining form and they both look up when he enters. Both jaws drop.
“Is that-?” Hermione stops, not willing to actually voice the question.
Arcturus looks reverent. “The Elixir of Life.”
Hermione pops up and out of his way, allowing Merlin to take her seat without him having to ask. “Down the hatch!” He orders irreverently and helps the aged lord down the potion in a single go.
The man, of course, immediately collapses backwards.
The Doctors Granger are not exactly thrilled when they come home to find the older man still asleep on their living room couch.
Dr. Robert is thoroughly amused though by her belated explanation that, “He’s sort of my great grandpa,” as she levitates him up, out of the family room, and onto the couch in the family’s new magical workroom.
Dr. Amy ends up being amused when Arcturus wakes up the next morning. Mostly because he’s incredibly charming, and pretty much refuses to leave for a week, much to Dr. Robert’s irritation even though he tries to hide it.
It’s a week that he spends most of dominating Harry’s writing desk in the magical workroom, bossing Harry’s elves around, and doing a stupid amount of correspondence with Galahad.
And he starts randomly ambushing Harry that is Merlin with questions. For example:
“My spells tell me I can reproduce safely, would my own children count under our deal?”
Harry rolls her eyes, “As long as they are legitimate, members of the House of Black, yes.”
“As a lord I could take two wives,” He pushes. “All children both women could have would count?”
“Of course.” Harry rolls her eyes again. “If I were you I would take a muggleborn and a squib to wife. Lead by example, expand the bloodline.”
“A squib wouldn’t give me magical children,” He counters, earning himself a glare from a Dr. Amy.
“Obviously they can,” Harry shoots right back, starting to get worried that her eyes might roll out of her skull. “Hermione is the daughter of two squibs and she’s already more powerful than many in our year will ever grow to be.”
That shuts the man up for about a day.
The next day Harry finds him in a quiet but heated conversation with the Grangers. All three of them.
“What are you up to?” She asks suspiciously.
Dr. Robert smiles at her and breaks off from the group. She’s not fooled by him. She’s especially not fooled when he takes her by the arm and leads her firmly away. “I got you several research papers on human sexuality and gender identity, as well as a list of my favorite of their references.”
Harry allows her curiosity to be redirected and spends the evening becoming acquainted with her… uh, zir? their? Life as a member of the LGBT community. From an academic point of view at the very least. Unfortunately she still doesn’t know where her personal preference lay.
The redirection lasts until later that night when Hermione comes into her bedroom to say goodnight as is their habit, then her curiosity about their mischief is assaged. Harry doesn’t even have to ask, Hermione just frowns at her and flops on her bed. “Why didn’t you say your 11th birthday was so important?”
“It is?” She asks.
Hermione gives her the hairy eyeball until she realizes the question is legitimate. “That’s what Lord Arcturus was explaining. The 11th birthday of a young noble or heir is a Big Deal. With capital letters. It’s when you announce that you’ll be attending Hogwarts and start meeting people with an eye towards marriage contracts. Noble heirs usually grow up pretty isolated too and that party is where they start forming friendships outside of immediate family and their family’s most trusted retainers.”
“Right.” Hermione nods once. “It wasn’t like that in the past?”
Harry shrugs. “I’ve never really been noble before, just a retainer.” Then she pauses to consider. “Well, now the House of Emrys is considered a big deal -royal or whatever- and I’ve always gotten special treatment. From like the Goblins mostly but that’s because of my deal with the Seven Dragons. Because I’m Lord Magic and Lady Life’s Hand on Earth, but-” Harry shakes her head. “Anyway, the point, I don’t know noble traditions. I’ve seen them but they’ve never exactly applied to me before.”
“Oh. Well. Lord Arcturus and the parents are planning it. They’ve invited your cousins the Patil twins and your god brother Neville?”
Harry nods, she’s just started corresponding with them so it’ll be nice to meet them face to face before they that their first ride on the train.
“They’re also planning on getting Professor McGonagall and Madam Bones to bring around any kids our age in their families and I think Lord Arcturus is going to bring the same from his family after he ‘gets them in hand.‘ It’ll be here, in the back yard because it’s supposed to be a surprise for you.”
Harry grins at her friend. “My little spy, and you say you aren’t a Slytherin.”
Hermione blushes and pushes her over until she falls onto her bed. “Maybe I’m practicing for when you drag us into the snake den. That’s all.” And flounces right out.
Harry chews on her lip. She’s pretty sure Hermione is just joking around but she’s never had a friend before and- No, of course she’s joking around. For all of her flaws, the inability to speak plainly on subjects that matter to her is not on Hermione’s list. Wasn’t on Gwen’s either.
Merlin calms himself and focuses inward. Not even bothering to react when Archy shows up and closes her bedroom door.
The Occlumency and Legilimency books spoke of creating a mind palace to manage not just mental skills but memories and knowledge. A place to feel safe and secure so that your mind and magic may act with boldness and power.
Merlin’s never felt safe inside a palace, however. He isn’t entirely sure what a palace is or how one differs from a castle but a cave? Some of his most sacred, safest moments took place in caves and its the work of mere heartbeats to give himself a mental Gringotts cavern. Complete with fire breathing dragons to guard it and a zippy little cart that’s actually a most deadly trap.
Vault 1 is Arthur because what else would it be?
Vault 2, Merlin’s as yet unsorted knowledge.
Vault 3, Hermione and the Grangers.
After a moment of debate she puts Lord Black in Vault 4 and Lord Bones in Vault 5. Both are powerful men from the same Hogwarts House in consecutive years. Both with oathbound allegiance to him. Pieces on his side of the board to move as he wills, the most active pieces currently so they need the most monitoring, but Lord Black is technically more than that. Much more than that, he’s her grandfather. Sort of.
Vault 6 gets Albus Dumbledore. He hasn’t awoken the tie between them, not fully, because he doesn’t want to tip the bastard off before he has him in hand. The man spends his time behind heavy wards too. Merlin can’t allow for the opportunity for a fumble in his handling of Dumbledore, the bastard is just too powerful and having wards between them provides the goat fucking bastard too much wiggle room.
No, best to wait until they are under the same wards together to get him in hand.
Vault 7 gets other Order members that are useful but not as high maintenance as the other three. Professor McGonagall, the soon to be Chief Editor from the Daily Prophet Iacchus Storey, the lawyer Lord Black secured the Order Gaia Fitzgerald.
Merlin puts Minister Fudge in Vault 7 as well. Just for now, really. He’ll have to sacrifice the bastard to keep Dumbledore on the board. It’s upsetting, sort of, but if it weren’t for his own corruption Merlin wouldn’t have the man to sacrifice so really it’s just a rough form of justice. It would appeal that way to Arthur at least so he lets the seeds of guilt go.
That reminds her she needs to offer membership to Madam Bones and whoever she’s chosen to back her up. If nothing else it will protect them politically from what she’s asked of them but the magical protections woven into the their mark are nothing to sneeze at.
In Vault 8 she pulls up the oath-bond of her other sacrifice. This one she feels no guilt and maybe even a little glee for but she doesn’t have this one in hand yet so handling him is a bit tricksier.
She runs her hand over the knot of shining magic that represents their bond.
It’s glowing but not very brightly because the bond isn’t very strong. Likely because it was made by the man’s mother as his proxy since he was supposedly dead when his Order of Merlin was awarded. The fabric of the oath itself is ragged though, like someone’s been chewing at it. If he had another 10 years he might manage to free himself but if Merlin has anything to say about it this asshole won’t even have another 10 days.
He pulses his magic into the bond, it glows brighter and the fabric in her hands heals.
Another pulse and both the fabric and knot of the oath are armored. No getting away now, little rat.
With the second pulse comes feedback though. The smell of fur, the weight of a tail. A boy shouting and wards. The bastard is under wards. Not as strong as those at Hogwarts or whatever home Dumbledore occupies during the summer but nothing to be ashamed of.
Still, he has to try. For Sirius, he has to try.
“I, Merlin Ambrosius Emrys, command Peter Oliver Pettigrew, sworn member of the Order of Merlin, to present himself immediately for judgement and assignment!”
There’s no pop. No apparition.
She can feel someone lean as if against a powerful wind though. Can hear the scramble of claws against a hardwood floor.
Amelia Bones and Kingsley Shacklebolt stop outside of a little house in the muggle area named Crouch End.
Likely none of the muggles know why the area has that name. It’s doubtful any of the neighbors have ever met a Crouch. None of them know about the magical people living here.
Instead the area is known for being full of fantasy writers, though that’s probably a function of the obliviates a family as magical as the Crouches would have to employ to keep their children’s accidental magic hidden in the middle of such a large non-magical congregation.
They are there because they’ve only been able to corner Bartemius Crouch for questioning once in the Ministry and that one time they had to defer because the Minister showed up. Since Fudge as a former prosecutor of high standing is heavily implicated on the list they are investigating, they can’t afford to tip their hand before they’re ready to question him. Which they weren’t at that time. Every time they’ve tried to question Crouch since that one missed opportunity, he’s given them the slip but no longer.
If he won’t let them corner him at work, they’ll corner him at home. This is a highly criminal matter and he is going to answer for it.
Kings catches her arm as she raises it to knock and puts a finger over his mouth in a request for silence.
She stops and listens, trying to hear what got his attention.
Kings casts a subtle amplification charm.
There’s shouting coming from inside. Strangely familiar shouting. Of a man at a house elf over… an invisibility cloak?
Amelia looks to Kings, guessing what he wants, and they nod to each other. He starts casting silencing spells, on them, on the doorway, on the wooden porch they’re standing on. Amelia casts disillusionment charms on the both of them and then turns and casts a breaching hex that will allow them to go through the door without having to open it.
Just inside the door they take a sharp right turn and go down an almost non-existent hall into a small sitting room. Sure enough, a tiny female house elf is standing in front of a chair holding a young man half concealed by a cloak of invisibility.
“Incarcerous! Silencio!” “Petrificus totalus!”Amelia and Kings shout together, hitting the man and the elf respectively.
“Bartemius Crouch, Junior.” Kings identifies yet another one of his year mates. This time a Ravenclaw that’s supposed to be in Azkaban.
Amelia looks into the furious, insane blue eyes that even now attempt to bore into her and can’t help but shake her head. “No wonder your father’s been avoiding me.”
She pulls out a mirror and calls, “Croaker.”
Her father of course answers immediately. “Madam Bones? Is everything alright?”
“No,” she answers tightly. “It isn’t.” And then, before he can ask any more questions, she turns the mirror to show Junior.
She can hear her father take a sharp breath on his side of the mirror. “Stay right there. We are coming.”
Once the Unspeakables get involved it’s not a terribly long time before the senior Crouch is in custody. Within the day they have his confession of the method for Junior’s removal from Azkaban on an officially unofficial record. Polyjuicing his innocent wife and leaving her in that hellhole. Even if she really did ask for it, it’s utterly disgusting.
The Unspeakable involvement is also what allows them to contain the house elf. Not that she’s considered at fault in this issue. You can’t punish a bonded servant for following the orders of their master no matter how foolhardy or illegal, but.
But they can’t allow the house elf to fulfill her orders -which are currently ‘Take Junior and run!‘- either.
That leaves them with very few options.
They could bind her magic but that would basically be a long, slow death sentence for the creature who, it bares repeating, hasn’t done anything wrong. They could put her in some kind of potion-induced sleep but that’s unreliable because there is no telling when her magic might act in her defense and remove the potion from her system so that she can fulfil her Master’s orders. Or they can put the object of her order, that is to say Junior, where she can’t get him to fulfill her orders.
To that end they put him in the magical void zone they would normally use as a holding cell for ethereal beings and place a stasis cuff on the poor elf so she can’t punish herself for what she would perceive as her failure.
Of course, the void zone just so happens to be right down the hall from Croaker’s office.
He’s really tired of hearing of how Voldemort is going to kill them all in all the various tones and songs that Junior can come up with.
His temper hits its peak when the young dumbass starts appropriating songs from Monty Python. Seriously, how someone can appreciate Monty Python and not realize muggles are just as magical as the rest of them? Some things he’ll never understand but he is done with this little nuisance.
He slams open the door into the void zone chamber in a fury and shouts, “Will you shut up!
“Your lord is dead! You are about to lose your head! Can’t you think of better ways to spend your last days?”
“Not really, no.” The grinning lunatic answers, his tongue darting out, snake like but to one side rather than forward. “Because you’re wrong, little toadling. Little croaker. My lord lives! He just couldn’t find me under that damn cloak but he will now! And then you’ll be dead! Because!”
Behind his hood, Algernon Bones closes his eyes because he can feel a wrongfully murdered song lyrics queuing right up inside the man’s head.
“It’s a small world after all! It’s a small world after all! It’s a small world after all and my lord, he! Comes!”
“I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts! Dee dah lee dee dee,” A new, light girl’s voice sings right back. “And Voldemort will throw them at your head!” Both men whip around to see an almost 11 year old girl casually lounging in the doorway, “What, too soon? I would have sworn that was my cue.”
“Harry! Potter!” Crouch Junior hisses, bodily throwing himself at the warded edge of the void zone and bouncing back in.
“It is I, indeed,” She agrees and looks at Croaker with what might be the edge of a pout. “Why didn’t you tell me you caught a real, live Death Eater? You know I like them fresh.”
“I was unaware you required one, my lady.”
She pauses a second to frown at him. “No, I suppose you’re right, I didn’t say. I didn’t know I needed one when last we spoke. But since this one’s already a convict I can question him, right?”
“You say that like I would stop you either way.”
She shrugs and walks fully into the room, allowing the door to close. “I would hope if I were to do something truly foul someone would at least say something.”
“Isn’t that what your sister is for, my lady?”
She grins at him brightly before focusing entirely on Bartemius Crouch Junior. “Tell me about your master.” She orders and stares. She stares, utterly silent and still, focused through an almost mindlessly repeating, meandering recitation of Lord Voldemort’s supposed virtues.
It takes Algernon a stupidly long moment to recognize her stillness for the advanced legilimency trance it obviously is. But who would expect legilimency to work on a subject inside of a magical void zone? It’s against the very definition of what makes it a magic void zone.
But of course Merlin breaks the established rules of magic.
He does that just by breathing, really.
Crouch Junior slowly goes silent and still until his eyes go vacant and drool starts to dribble form his mouth.
Harry shakes her head and blinks her eyes back into focus. “I think you’ll find him the ideal prisoner for at least the next week, Lord Croaker.”
He very carefully does not ask.
“Do you need help getting home, milady?”
She gives him an amused look. “No, I’m sure I’ll manage. Come ‘round for dinner, though. I understand they are planning a surprise birthday party for me in the next few days and there should probably be more than just Blacks and Potters involved.”
Blacks? Algernon raises both eyebrows at that but doesn’t voice any of his questions. “I wouldn’t miss it, milady.”