The Karkaroff interrogated in Azkaban kennels

The Mystery of Lily Potter

"Severus," Babbling said, standing in front of Snape as he walked into the entrance hall of Hogwarts. "Welcome back, follow me."

"I'm very busy right now, Babbling. It will have to wait," he replied instantly. Why did she intercept him as soon as he returned? He hadn't looked after Voldemort right away until the Potter brat came back. Surely the boy couldn't have told her he was returning to the Dark Lord ... or could he? Would Riddle have said anything? He certainly wouldn't have gotten past the bastard. Sullen, Snape decided, it didn't matter. Dumbledore would protect his precious spy.

Spy. For sure. More of a slave to potions. Snape never received praise or recognition for the amount of work he did to provide the castle with ointments and potions. With the amount of injuries Potter had each year, Snape was certain that at least half of the budget the staff had always complained about went straight down the kid's throat.

Babbling's scowl matched his own as they stood face to face. "I really have to insist, Severus."

"I've just got back from a busy outing and I need to let the headmaster know about the news right away. Get out of the way." Which was completely truthful. She didn't need to know that he wanted to go on with his private care for a moment and take some pain medication and something to help his recovery from the Cruciatus.

"The Headmaster won't get any reports from you, Snape." She couldn't hide the little predatory grin that flashed across her features. It set Snape's alarm bells ringing.

"You should know that if I should go ... steps will be taken," he said, and began to find his wand.

Babbling laughed when she saw the look on his face. "I'm not threatening you, Snape. Not yet. So you have to follow me. That way we can see if you need to be threatened. No, I'm just saying our dear, esteemed Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore has left the premises . Hopefully forever. Hogwarts is under new management. Well. " Her good mood fell away and she glared at him with a wand in hand. "Conference room for teachers. Now."

Dumbledore left? What?! He staggered toward the conference room. If Albus was gone, who should he report to? Who should make sure they were given adequate information and counter-information to deliver to Voldemort? How was he supposed to reach the line between the two sides without the first leader in the game? How was he supposed to survive without Dumbledore ?!

The door slammed, and Snape was torn from his thoughts as he looked up at the table in the center of the room. The only surprise to see was the wide-open eyes as he looked down at Amelia Bones, Filius and Minerva. "What is this supposed to be?"

"An investigation," Minerva said with a slight rise in her eyebrows and a hint of a Scottish accent penetrating her voice. Babbling sat down next to Minerva and Snape began to sweat as he sat in the lonely chair across from the other four.

"Please lift your left sleeve, Severus Snape," Amelia Bones said calmly. She could have talked casually about the weather, as her voice sounded.

Snape did what he always did when faced. He attacked. "I believe it is against the law to ask a private individual to disclose something they do not want without proper authorization. I will certainly file a formal complaint with the minister's office regarding your misconduct in that farce, Director Bones. "

"Well, under Statute 12, if there is reasonable suspicion that minors are at risk, the division chief can conduct a preliminary investigation. Given that the recently resurrected Voldemort mentioned your name when he met Mr. Potter, that already gives me this Carry out a preliminary examination, "Bones replied, still completely calm. Snape clutched his wand under the table. Of course Potter had babbled! "Also, you disappeared shortly after Mr. Potter returned, which is very suspicious. To make matters worse, you, Severus Snape, have been consistently protected by a man who recently admitted he was over one Year Harry tried to murder James Potter! "Snape's eyes widened and his grin was replaced by an open mouth. What the hell happened the day he was gone?

Amelia leaned forward, all signs of politeness fading. "We already know you were a Death Eater, Snape," she hissed. "I can have the court records rechecked. I wanted to see how you react. The answer is 'no good' if you care. Now the situation is this, you pathetic bastard: I know Dumbledore has told you in the past He tried to tell a story about how you changed to protect Lily Potter. If that is true, as much as I despise you personally, I find it hard to believe that you will be with Dumbledore this year helped his crazy little attempts at murdering Harry's life. But we can't be sure of that, so you'll drink that vial of Veritaserum, answer our questions, and then we'll proceed in the appropriate manner. "

Snape leaned back in his seat and finally managed to close his mouth. Amelia leaned over the table and placed a small vial in front of him. He was trying to find an answer, a question, a refutation, a denial ... everything. Nothing came to mind. Albus Dumbledore tried to murder Harry Potter? His protégé? His "golden boy"? Finally, Snape shook his head in a simple negative and grabbed the vial, throwing his head back and dropping three drops onto his tongue.

"Severus," Minerva said, "where did you just come back from?"

"I was with the Dark Lord," he replied monotonously. "He was rather dissatisfied that it took so long to respond to his first call. I could hardly convince him that I was still serving him and that my position so close to Dumbledore was to spy on him. After that, he stopped me back longer. I had to treat his wounds from the duel with Potter. "

Filius closed his eyes and his lips curled up in a silent growl. "Are you still loyal to the Dark Lord?"

"No," said Snape. He let out a sigh of relief as the other four visibly relaxed. The potion still allowed feelings, even if they couldn't be expressed. "I stopped serving Voldemort as soon as he killed Lily. Had he left her alive I might have come back. But he didn't. I serve Dumbledore as he promised he could kill the man. Voldemort took the only thing I had ever loved and trampled it under his feet. I want to see him dead. Moreover, my loyalty is to me alone. This whole land can self-destruct. I just want to see Voldemort dead. "

"Vengeance ..." Filius sighed, but nodded. "I find you extremely snappy, but at least I can understand your motivation. Amelia?"

The headmaster nodded to the master sorcerer and turned back to Snape. "What did Dumbledore do?"

"For the past ten years I have mostly brewed potions for him, both for the castle and for his personal supplies. Last night I told him about the Dark Lord's call and he instructed me to come back and be back in Voldemort´ "s inner circle. I planned to report major attack plans to Dumbledore and forward any information he had given me to Voldemort to convince the Dark Lord that I was his spy."

"And you never tried to hurt or murder Harry Potter?" asked Babbling.

Snape even sneered through the haze of the potion. "I've allowed Potter to harm himself several times since he got to school. Mostly during class, I allowed him to test clearly mis brewed potions on himself. None that cause real harm or were too dangerous, but all had painful or embarrassing effects. If any potions were really dangerous I stepped in and questioned his intellect. I allowed Slytherins like Malfoy to add ingredients to his potions to amplify these occurrences and him in the hallways I disparaged him and his close allies. I deducted excess points from him and given him numerous detentions. He's an idiot, impulsive and ruthless. He's just like his father and the only thing inside him of the woman I loved his eyes. I saved the boy in his freshman year when Quirrell cursed his broomstick. I didn't do anything else to help him. I've never done anything that would cause permanent harm. "

Babbling looked like she was about to spit fire on him and Snape was very grateful that others were around as it should keep her from at least sending him to the hospital wing. What the woman saw in the child ... what Greengrass and Davis saw in the child he did not understand. All Potter has ever done was get himself and those around him in trouble. Just like James Potter. At least the son managed not to bully those who were less happy than he was.

"Did you know Albus tried to kill Harry Potter?" Minerva asked, breathing deeply.

Snape shook his head. "No. I wish the boy had been humiliated, not dead. As much as I hate it, I've never been able to repay my life debt to the boy's father. And in the end ... he's still Lily's son. " Babbling pushed back from the table and strutted to the wall, took a soothing potion and drank it before she sat down again. For a moment, Snape wondered if perhaps he had gone a little too far in torturing the child. Potter was just a boy, after all.

"Do you know anything about how Voldemort kept his life going?" Asked Filius.

"It's certainly some form of dark magic. I suspect at least one Horcrux," said Snape. He grimaced inwardly. If they talked about it outside these walls ... if any clue came to Voldemort that he suspected the man's greatest secret ...

Amelia smiled and nodded. "Do you know where they might be or what they are?"

"No. It's something I want to discover while spying on him."

Amelia leaned back and sighed. "Damn it. Well it was worth a try. Does anyone have any other questions? No? Okay then." She handed another vial to Snape, which he took.

Feeling the effects of the veritaserum fade, he looked cautiously at the head of department. "What is happening to me now?"

"Now," Amelia said, "you work for me. Albus Dumbledore has left the building. Feel free to run away. I almost hope you will. I can just let your old comrades track you down, and you will then be Voldemort's problem. However, if you want to stay, then you can continue with your espionage and inform me instead of Dumbledore of any important developments. You can tell Voldemort whatever you want to convince the lie. "

Minerva leaned forward, her lips so thin they were almost gone. "And if you want to keep your job at this school, you will behave fairly from that point on! Remember that your privilege as a tutor will be withdrawn once the school year ends. I don't care what your position with the enemy is." is or your importance for the war effort, this school and these children are my priority! If it had been up to me, you would have been slowed down years ago! Now that I'm the deputy headmistress, you will behave or you will be fired, Severus Snape. Did I make myself clear? "

Snape narrowed his eyes, but nodded curtly.

"Oh and Severus," Babbling said lightly with a fake smile. "Stay away from Harry Potter for your own good."

Harry had just managed to get out of the hospital wing in time for breakfast that morning before heading home. When he got into the Great Hall, he had to suppress a grin as he looked up at the staff table and saw McGonagall in Dumbledore's old chair. From what Shiva had said, Fudge tried to suppress news of the man's collapse and "arrest". The current story circulating in the Prophet was that after the Triwizard Cup, Dumbledore had experienced mental trauma and was busy recovering. Amelia was obviously furious and Shiva had said it was only a matter of time before the real story came out. Harry had asked Luna privately if she would wait in a week or so before printing a story in Quibbler.

As he sat down at the table, he found the seats on either side occupied by rather unusual guests. Su Li sat on his right, the Patil twins across from him and Millicent on his left.

"Nice to see you Harry," said Su, grabbing an apple from the table. Harry just nodded and raised his eyebrows in a silent question. "What? Did you think we'd all believe what the ex-headmaster said?" Harry gave a noncommittal shrug. The core group was never questioned, but the others were an unknown equation in the variable. Su snorted in response. "Please, I think we could have recognized an aspiring Dark Lord. At least I hope so ..." She shook her head and took a small bite from the apple. "Anyway, I would like your permission to speak to some of my family members in China about your possible little problem this summer. No names are mentioned and nothing specific is discussed unless you have a non-fatal solution."

Harry's eyes widened. "Do you seriously think they might know something?"

Su shrugged. "Probably not, but it can't hurt to ask. Either way, I'm ready to teach you some fighting moves next year. I'm pretty good at daggers and I might be able to show you something with your sword." I expect things to get worse once we all get back from summer vacation. All I ask in return is that you teach me some of the spell chain things Flitwick showed you or something about runes, but I doubt you can easily explain that. "

Harry laughed and smiled and reached out to shake hers. "Deal. And yes, as long as names and specifics aren't mentioned, you could ask for help."

Su smiled back and left the table to let Hermione slip into her vacant spot. Harry turned to the Patil twins, where Padma just grinned. "She has already pretty much said what Parvati and I wanted to say. Does this permit also apply to us and our families in India?"

Harry nodded. "Excellent," replied Padma. "We'll let you know if we can find something. For what's worth it, I don't think you need to worry in the long term. In the short term, yes, definitely. But in the long term, I think you have enough bad karma to balance things out and leave you with enough good karma to find your way. "

Parvati laughed. “Or at least to get rid of the parasite. Having three partners might be a bit of a balance there. Oh, and Lavender is still behind you. She's busy consulting her crystal ball to see if she can see something, better luck with the tea leaves but hey, she prefers the ball. "Parvati shrugged and both girls stood up, waved Harry goodbye and let Luna and Tonks switch seats.

Millicent smiled and clapped Harry lightly on the shoulder. "The way you gather allies, Potter, you should have been in Slytherin. You should have ruled the dungeons. You already know where I am. Before we leave, I just wanted to thank you again for bringing me together with Viktor I'm going to visit him this summer, Dad even talked to him about moving to Bulgaria long term if we are pressured to ally with Malfoy. Viktor is basically running Durmstrang School right now since Karkaroff left, him otherwise would have come personally to tell you something.He wanted me to pass on a message, "If the research reveals any dark sayings, we can share the fortune. That goes for me too." Millie grinned again at her friend's joke and got up to chat with the Slytherins Lean back while Fleur took her usual place next to Harry.

Harry looked around at his friends in amazement. Everyone started laughing at the same moment.

The Hogwarts Express had just left the station and Harry was about to sit down when Hermione got up and went to the compartment door. "We'll be back in a few minutes, Harry," she said as Tonks and Fleur moved to follow her. "Do me a favor and try not to get into another life-threatening situation while we're away, okay?"

"No promises, mine," said Harry, grinning. "Me and Deadly Problems are practically neighbors, it seems. They like to come and ask for a cup of tea or a pound of butter."

Hermione groaned while Tonks just laughed. "Wonder boy, if they knock you over, you just slam the door in their face."

The compartment door closed and the girls searched for their destination. They found it just a few compartments later. Inside, Daphne was leaning against the window with Tracey beside her and Luna on the other. "Daphne?" Said Hermione. "We really need to talk for a few minutes."

Daphne turned to them, gave a short sigh, and nodded. Tracey also looked at the three girls who entered the compartment. She snorted and mumbled, "I told you to look for them first. Good luck. Come on Luna, let's go for a walk." As soon as Tracey and Luna had left, Fleur cast several wards over the compartment.

Daphne grimaced and hunched her shoulders. "Before you start, allow me to apologize. I should never have kissed Harry, I know that now, I knew that. I was just ... for a moment I could only imagine that he was missing out on the last task came back and he was so noble and heroic and concerned and ... I panicked. So I'm sorry. It won't happen again. "

Hermione crossed her arms and her lips became one line. "Harry is too noble, heroic and concerned. You have been our friend long enough to know this Daphne."

Daphne wiped his face with one hand and groaned. "Trust me, I do. That's the problem."

"Daphne, we are not averse to the idea that you seek a relationship with Harry. But it is not acceptable to just catch him and kiss him out of the blue."

"I know," nodded Daphne, leaning back on the pillow. "I know. I'm sorry again. I'm not used to someone that matters to me. The only one I've ever been close to is Tracey and she's never been in a situation where the likelihood of her was high." would die ... except for the chamber thing ... "

Fleur gave the Slytherin a small smile and grabbed her leg. "We understand. What we need to know now is what your intentions are."

"My intentions?" Daphne asked confused. "I plan to sit here and try to forget it ever happened."

Tonks groaned and her hair flashed through a few colors before settling on pink. "That's probably the worst option. Look, you like him, right?"

"Everyone likes Harry," Daphne replied with a raised eyebrow.

"We both know I didn't mean that," Tonks said, staring at the blonde. Daphne remained calm for a few moments and finally replied with a small nod. "Unlike the two next to me, I'm a bit surprised. But I've got glowing recommendations from Hermione and Fleur regarding your character and suitability for our partner. Ignoring feelings for Harry won't work. Trust me, I've tried for months. That means you already seem to be in a relationship, "Tonks said, gesturing towards the door where Tracey had gone out with Luna.

Hermione picked up the thread of the conversation. "So we really need to know your goals here, Daphne. Luna said you and Tracey have an arrangement. That doesn't matter until Harry is involved. Do you want to end up with our boyfriend or do you want to stay with your girlfriend, am End?"

Daphne frowned out the window. There was another long silence in the cabin. Finally Daphne whispered, "I honestly don't know." She continued, "I never thought I'd enjoy being with a girl, but Tracey has been my friend for as long as I can remember. Much to my surprise, we go very well together. I don't want to lose this. Harry ... I can't stop looking at him, I can't get him out of my head and I can't stop thinking about how he is everything I ever dared hope for in a potential husband. He's smart, funny, handsome, ready to stand up for what and in whom he believes and ... he's my equal. I trust him enough to get him a rune tattoo! "

Daphne frowned and stared at a passing tree. "That's why I'm going to sit here and try to ignore that kiss. The last thing I want to do is play with this boy. Or Tracey, or one of you. Do I like him? Yes, okay, yes I do. But I need to take more time to figure things out. Tracey pushed me to tell him. Well, now he knows. Now I have to find out what I want. "

Fleur sat next to Daphne and wrapped an arm around the girl. "You want both of them?" Daphne winced and slowly nodded. "Daphne ... Daphne look at me." Fleur gently stretched the blond's head to meet her eyes. "Hermione, Nymphadora and I are all together, in a relationship. We get it."

Daphne rolled her eyes. "I know, Fleur. I'm not talking about going out with the three of you. I'm talking about being with someone else. That ..." She frowned as she searched for the right word. "I would be the underdog in the group and that doesn't seem right. I like you all, don't get me wrong, and I certainly wouldn't mind meeting you guys in the bedroom every now and then." That comment made Hermione's face flush, although everyone mostly ignored it. "I'm just not interested in being with you guys. You all have a good thing with Harry. I refuse to be the one to screw this up."

Hermione frowned. "So your solution is to completely ignore your feelings?"

"Yeah. Just for the summer, I think. If I still can't get the boy out of my head when school starts again, we can look back over it again."

"Daphne ..." Hermione said quietly, "when I was trying to figure out who would be a good partner for Harry, you were always at the top of the list. I don't think this is the best way for you to go about socializing with your feelings, but I respect your choice. ”Hermione stood and nodded and walked to the front of the cabin.

Tonks got up too and followed Hermione. "Remember, Daphne, Harry Potter has an understanding of people who are important to him. He doesn't mind that you are with Tracey instead of being by our side. Damn it, he might even prefer it because then could." he mostly negotiates with three women instead of four ... "Tonks shook his head and laughed ruefully. "That poor man. Call me if you need anything about the summer."

Fleur pulled Daphne into a quick hug before standing up and smiling at the younger girl. "If you change your mind and decide September is too far away, give Hermione or me a call."

"Don't you, Tonks?" Daphne asked an eyebrow in amusement.

"Tonks lets us stay one step ahead, especially in this sort of thing. Hope to see you soon, Daphne Greengrass."

Harry had just finished his notes on the Soul Gaze rune when the compartment door of the cabin opened. He put his notebook aside and looked up to greet the girls, only to let the smile fall from his face and turn into a frown. "Malfoy."

"Is that all you have to say, Scarface? Nothing funny in your empty skull?" Draco asked Malfoy drawn out as he leaned casually against the door frame, Crabbe and Goyle behind him. That Theodore Nott was present was new, although Harry really wasn't too surprised to see the other Slytherin there since his father had crawled at Voldemort's feet.

"This is very witty of you, Malfoy," said Harry, raising his eyebrows. "I bet you all already know how I dueled your masters and even got out. In fact, he was injured and I got away with no further injuries. But you come to me anyway. Who is that again Stupid here? "

Malfoy frowned and pushed away from the door. "Happiness doesn't save everyone, Scarface. You could escape sometimes, but the people around you can't be under the same blessed star. After all," he said and a grin slowly spread across his face, "Are your parents to you died!" The Slytherin boys started laughing softly when Malfoy said this.

Harry's eyes narrowed and he clutched his wand tighter. He could feel his magic fly into his tattoos begging to be released, but he held back. He was better than that. He was more reserved. He wouldn't hurt these guys for some insults.

Malfoy wasn't finished, however. "I wonder what the Dark Lord is going to do with the rest of your little group now that he's back? I mean, the Mudblood will probably just be killed. They can't further pollute our air. This mixed breed brood and the Metamorphmagus bitch are useful for entertainment I think. They will probably be passed around for a while, although I doubt they will survive long. But your professor ... well, I'm sure the Dark Lord has something special planned for her . Maybe a rune of obedience or something? Would you like that, Potty? I could ask him to look after her before she cuts herself, so what do you say? "

Harry's world dissolved into red and he felt Midnight's anger merge with his own. His fingernails turned to claws and all Harry could do was growl "Honor" before jumping at her.

And he was promptly caught in the strong arms of Tonks, who kept him out of the way of the stunning spells of Fleur and Hermione. Harry completely transformed into Midnight, slipping out of Tonks' embrace and howling softly as he approached the unconscious boys on the floor in front of them.

"Harry, no!" Tonks said as she moved quickly in front of him and grabbed his head to force his eyes to look into hers. "If you touch them, they can bring charges against you. Don't give them what they want, Harry."

Midnight bared his teeth and gave Malfoy one last look. Fleur entered the compartment and looked at midnight with a sigh. "She's right, Snowball. You're not worth it. Let Hermione handle this. I heard she learned a curse from Fred that he used at Umbitch during the ball. That should be enough."

Hermione nodded briefly, her eyes fixed on the four boys. "I improved it too. It not only affects the intestines. It also hits the bladder now. I'll bring you to your compartment and be right back." Hermione grinned grimly at the four and walked on. Midnight huffed in annoyance as he walked back to the seat and jumped on it as best he could.

"That's a good panther," Tonks said, smiling at him, using an awfully sweet and overly sticky voice. "Who is a good panther? Who is a good panther? You are one! Yes you are one!"

"Don't be kidding about Snowball, Nym!" Fleur said with a grin as she sat down next to him and stroked his ears. Midnight rolled her eyes as both girls giggled. Hermione came back a few minutes later to see a thoroughly relaxed Midnight while his two partners caressed him. Hermione grinned to herself and joined the conversation.

Voldemort sat on his throne and stroked Nagini's head with his burned, blackened hand while he was deep in thought. It wasn't a really worthy throne yet, that would come in time. For now, he had to be content with an ornate chair at the top of Lucius' dining room table. Voldemort, of course, had redesigned the room to serve as a far more suitable throne room. Riddle Manor had had such options too ... but with Potter's escape, the house was useless. There was no point in throwing a Fidelius if he wanted to recruit many allies as quickly as possible. He also admitted to not trusting anyone but Bella and Barty.

Barty. Voldemort frowned, thinking of one of his most loyal and devoted followers, trapped in the Ministry cell, waiting for the Dementor to kiss. He either had to act quickly or turn one of the Aurors around to find the man again soon. Blackmail was probably the easiest target. Especially since Fudge blamed Pettigrew for everything and refused to acknowledge Voldemort's recent resurrection. He certainly wasn't going to complain. It enabled him to make allies much more easily.

Allies ... such a ... tasteless word. Voldemort didn't want allies; he wanted droolers and favorites. He wanted followers. Followers like Bella, Travers and Rookwood. People who were loyal, ruthless, and intelligent. He had to complete his circle again.

And he had to show his Death Eaters that he was still strong. Potter had hit the jackpot with every rune he used and had proven that he could keep up in the short term. He had escaped with the wands even after that disappointing show. The pure-blood fools would for a while fear Voldemort coming back from death, tended to have this effect, but if he didn't show them his true strength, they would soon remember that Harry Potter had escaped certain death.

"Lucius!" Voldemort hissed. It was time to act.

The silver-tongued servant hurried into the throne room and knelt at Voldemort's feet. "Sir."

"Prepare my troops, Lucius. We will attack Azkaban before the week is up."

"But, sir, we barely have two dozen people. We don't have the strength or the - AAAHHHHH!" Lucius' objections quickly dissipated in screams of pain as Voldemort pointed the Cruciatus at him.

After a few seconds, Voldemort let the pain pass and started stroking Nagini again. "Dumbledore is gone and the Ministry is hiding behind its walls. The Dementors will follow me without complaint or hesitation and there are few Aurors on the island. Do you think I am weak, Lucius?" He asked casually.

"No ... my lord! Of course ... not ... my lord!" Lucius said, lifting his trembling body back to his knees as he threw himself down. "Forgive me ... my lord! I haven't thought."

"No you didn't. The idiots removed Dumbledore ... they didn't think either." Voldemort smiled as he sat back and giggled. "Potter will be easy prey in the future. We can afford to focus on restoring my circle first. After that, I'll need the prophecy. But for now ... Bella and Barty. Make sure you have someone." to free Barty while we attack the prison, Lucius. I want my servant back. "

Lucius nodded quickly as he headed for the door. "It will be done, sir. We will not let you down."

Narcissa frowned as she watched her "husband" return from his meeting with the Dark Lord and limp. "Typical. He's not even back a week and the men are falling on themselves to help him turn our world to ashes," Narcissa muttered. Lucius didn't even think of the devastation the mad fool would unleash. Dumbledore, Voldemort, they really were two sides of the same coin.

When she dared to object to the madman who invaded her house, she was almost exposed to Lucius' threat of "vigorous memories of where her place was". Never again. If Voldemort had stayed out of her direct gaze, she might have been able to hide again for a while. But now ... he was torturing one of his most loyal followers in Lucius' house! That showed one of the most serious problems in his plans!

Voldemort wasn't a Slytherin. He wasn't a pure blood. He wasn't a king.He was an undeniably powerful megalomaniac fool ... and with just enough charisma to attract hypocrites who couldn't think for themselves. She wasn't going to stand there and let his madness devour her.

"Draco," said Narcissa as she walked into her son's room. "Why do you look so smug?"

"Hello, mother," Draco replied with a grin his father would be proud of. All he had done to her was twist the knife in her chest. "I was with Potter on the Hogwarts Express. It was lovely. His eyes lit up and his face went white. You should have seen it!"

Her mask fell and she growled at the boy. He had been brought up well by Lucius. An idiot through and through who couldn't even see his own stupidity. "Really? From what I've heard, you were seconds away from being challenged to an honorary duel that would have left you either dead or nameless. You should kiss his wives' feet because they'll get you off the." Have thrown compartment Don't sit around gleefully provoking a boy with the rape and murder of his future wives, his foster mother and the deceased parents. "

Draco lost his haughty gaze for a moment before returning in full swing. "Kiss the feet of these mudbloods and beasts? Granger isn't even worth the air it breathes, while the Veela and Metamorphmagus are only good for the entertainment they provide! I would never limit myself to touching them ! so sure that Potter would win, mother? You don't sound like you have faith in your own son. "

Narcissa couldn't hold back her laugh. "You can barely fight your way out of a compartment, Draco. Harry Potter dueled the Dark Lord while you are still screeching away from a garden snake." She looked down at him with an inviting look and asked for a refutation. "Nothing to say, Draco? I tried to warn you and your father so that you wouldn't mess with anyone above you. Your father never learned, and it comes back to haunt him with vengeance. Every time, when he visits this madman he comes back in agony and pain. But you don't see it, just keep raging! And you keep fighting the fourteen year old boy who can fight this beast! Congratulations, Draco, you are just like yours Hero. I'm offering you one last chance to listen to my advice. Follow me, son. Follow me to a real future. "

"You shouldn't despise the Dark Lord so much, mother," Draco said softly. "He's a great man who leads us to where we rightly belong. If he could hear you now ..."

Narcissa narrowed her eyes as she met her son's eyes. All she saw was pity, anger, and disgust that receded. She thought about numbing him and forcibly taking him ... No. Her son was a lost cause for the moment. All she could hope was that the horrors he was about to experience would shock him out of his delusions and that she could try to rebuild his shattered beliefs after the fire burned the world and the ashes fell.

"Just like your father," said Narcissa with a quick nod. "I would suggest that you learn a good mouth-cleaning spell quickly. You will need it soon."

Quickly coming out of the room, Narcissa stopped briefly in her bedroom to get her jewelry before stepping out into the garden and arriving in time for her new home. On the sidewalk in front of 12 Grimmauldplatz, Narcissa took a deep breath and slowly let him out again. This was the moment of truth. This was her last chance to change her mind.

Narcissa straightened her shoulders and shook off the doubt. She stepped out onto the sidewalk and knocked on the majestic knocker when she reached the front door. Barely ten seconds passed before the door swung open to reveal a man who would either be their executioner or their savior.

"Cousin. Haven't seen you in a long time," Sirius Black said, raising his eyebrows.

Harry collapsed sadly on the living room sofa with a satisfied sigh.

"Good to be home, kid?" Shiva asked with a giggle as she closed the door to the apartment and pushed her suitcases towards her room with her wand.

"Wonderful to be home. You put the wards on, right?"

Shiva snorted and raised an eyebrow. "Would I have let either of us in if I hadn't? Come on kid, ask something harder!"

Harry's grin melted into a neutral expression and he turned so that he saw her in full. Alarm bells rang in her head as she realized the rather blatant mistake in issuing this particular challenge. "Harder huh? Okay, what happened to Umbridge?"

Shiva's insides curled up and it was difficult for her to avert the scowl from her face. She wasn't sorry for letting Umbridge die. Hell, if she had really tried to help the bitch, the giant spiders would probably have gotten her anyway. What she feared was the look in his eyes as she told him that she was seeing someone who was going to die of a rather horrific death and was only going causal. It had been pretty clear to Dobby a few days ago how he felt about murder versus self-defense.

"Shiva ... you promised we could talk about it when we get home," Harry said quietly.

She mumbled a quiet curse. "You're not even fifteen. How do you remember going back to these things?" she puffed herself to sit on the other end of the couch. Harry shrugged, but had the grace to look a little embarrassed. "All right, Harry, good. She showed up a few minutes before the task started, pushed back the two Aurors who were trying to get her, and ran into the woods. I followed her."

Harry nodded. "And there she ran into the acromantulas."

"Yes," sighed Shiva. "She turned a corner on the path in the forest and ran straight into a huge acrumantula nest. I barely managed to brake before I was trapped too. Instead of freeing her, I questioned her a little and she got me insulted. "

"Okay. And she incriminated Dumbledore for telling her what to do?"

Shiva laughed and shook her head. "The woman was way too stupid to notice he was playing her like a violin. She said enough though that it was pretty obvious. She also said how she manipulated the runic patterns that made the arena look." By the way, there is nothing that is permanent. The variable space is great for transporting prefabricated items, but basic security should still be respected. "

Harry giggled. "Outback Training Alternative. I know it's not entirely your fault as this is Dumbledore's fault we're talking about, but I still think you need to make some improvements there. I think I will just buy up if I can afford it. Or work with them and solve all of their problems. Anyway, we got off the hook, Umbridge? "

"After she finished scolding I was about to cut her off and run back to stop the task when the acromantulas showed up. There were only two on the network, but I heard a few more in the surrounding trees. Umbridge began to freak out and now - "

"You left her and ran back," said Harry. He nodded to himself and gave Shiva a small grin. "So you thought I was going to freak out that you let her die without helping?"

Shiva shrugged and screwed up her eyes. The child was far too unaffected by this. "A little yes. I had enough time to get her down and cut it up. I could have struggled a little ... but I could have done it."

"Shiva, she tried to kill me before she hit me," Harry said, crossing his arms and leaning back. "All you've ever done is protect me. I'm not sorry that it was gone and that you didn't get a scratch. I'm just sorry that you worry. Not saving someone who deserves to die is a little different than piercing a soul-eating basilisk poison-soaked sword through the heart of an unconscious man. "

Shiva sat and stared at Harry for a few moments before she began to laugh. "How the hell are you doing this boy?"

His smile widened and he shrugged. "I'm pretty aware of my surroundings, Shiva. Leftover from living with the Dursley's. I noticed you winced when I told Dobby."

"Remind me never to try to hide your presents from you in the apartment."

"Manor. We'll be moving to the Manor this summer, remember?" He laughed. "It should be easy to hide them there!"

"Yeah, yeah, just laugh, kid." Shiva rolled her eyes and finally relaxed completely. "Did you want me to look inside your head now or later?"

Harry sobered up and he took a deep breath. "I'd rather do it now. I don't want to give Riddle a chance to get into my head whenever he wants. Not that he's starting to corrupt and influence me," he finished with a shudder.

Shiva grabbed him and squeezed his knee. "That's not going to happen, Harry. If it's really there we'll find out something and fix the blemish. Damn it, Kid, nobody thought Dementors could be killed, but you somehow did it! And somehow did it, it "easy to replicate!" We're going to kill that stupid soul splinter too. "

"Thank you, Shiva," Harry said softly.

"Wow ... we should talk about the chaos ..." Shiva muttered as Harry led her through the layers of his mental defenses. "Is that supposed to be Zeus?"

Harry glanced sideways as they scrambled past the Death Star and walked down his private asteroid onto No. 4 Privet Drive. He ran a hand through his hair and cast a guilty look at her. "Uh, yeah. I figured if people could get past the Enterprise and the Star Destroyers might get caught by some Greek gods. Artemis and Apollo are on the other side of the planet. The Death Star is mostly for show and intimidation." although it is a good final defense. Once the people entered the house, they would never think of looking outside for the final defense in orbit above them. "

Shiva shook her head and turned to Harry in awe. "Kid, when I said that adding random little things to your mind would make you crazy, I really didn't mean to go crazy. Damn it ... I pity the poor soul trying to accomplish something it shouldn't see. .. "

He shrugged and walked forward. "I'm a person who values ​​their privacy. Nobody should mess with my head without permission. It was around here somewhere. I think. Should be to the right of my closet," he said, frowning, pointing to the wall under the Stairway.

Shiva resisted the superficial mention of "my closet". She really had to do something about the Dursley's. You should never let yourself get away with hurting such a child. That was something for later. If Voldemort was gone.

"All right Harry, which door is the closet?"

Harry turned and looked at her. "What do you think?"

Shiva shrugged. "Which door, kid? There are ... two of ... Shit, you really can't see the second, can you?"

Harry cursed and pounded a fist into the nearby wall. "I was right. Damn asshole! The one about my memories is this one," he growled, pointing to the left door. "Wherever the other is, I didn't make it and I can't see them."

Shiva's eyes narrowed and she pulled out the chalk he had given her when they entered his mind. She walked slowly over and traced the outline of the second door under the stairs. As she got closer, she could feel the ... strangeness of that particular section in Harry's head. She had no doubt that this thing wasn't part of her son. There was no place in Harry. She stepped back to trace it in chalk and nodded to him. "Done. This is the door to the Soul Shard. I think you're right, Harry. It definitely doesn't belong here."

He nodded and moved forward. "Hit me if I start going crazy, will you? Anything to take my eyes off this place should be good enough." He raised his hands and walls of steel and chains flew out of the shadows and circled the outline. More steel was pushed into the stairs, padlocks materializing at several points along the line. A vault door that looked like a hybrid between a regular bank and Gringotts slammed on a gigantic, electrified cage that fit flush in its place. A layer of foam that instantly hardened into an amber-like substance filled the gaps. Finally a bucket full of water appeared and a single snapping piranha was on the ground. Harry looked at the wall for a few seconds before nodding satisfied and returning to Shiva. "Did I understand correctly? I can no longer feel the ruthlessness so much when I stare at this point."

Shiva whistled and nodded. "Yes, kid. You fixed it."

"There is no second overlord Harry," Harry sighed. "Let's go. I need something to eat."

Harry's friends had gathered in Shiva's apartment to await Snapfist's arrival. The goblin came over and accompanied them to Potter Manor and the cemetery in Godric's Hollow. In the meantime, Harry planned to test the Soul Gaze rune. The only one absent was Sirius.

"He mentioned that he was busy with a houseguest and would be coming a few minutes later," Remus said as Harry glanced at his watch again.

Amelia's eyes narrowed at this comment. "Oh? What kind of 'houseguest' would that be?"

"Not like that, Amy!" Remus said hastily, raising his hands to ward off her anger. "Sirius may be a shameless charmer, but he would never do such a thing if he has you."

"What is he doing?" Andi asked with raised eyebrows.

"I checked on your sister," Sirius grumbled, rolling into the apartment and claiming a kitchen seat. "I forgot how angry Zissa could be. Even if she asks for help, there is something about her."

Several jaws fell on the floor at this statement and all conversations were cut off. "What?" came from several mouths at the same time.

Sirius snorted. "Yes, that was also my reaction when I saw her. By the way, Zissa is with us. Andi, she is staying in Grimmauldplatz for a moment, although she said she would like to come over and visit you sometime."

"But she is Malfoy's mother!" Neville shouted, continuing to stare.

"Cissa is a pure blood through and through. She never agreed with Lucius and always hated being locked in this marriage," Andi said quietly. "She finally decided that staying with him would cause too much damage?"

"Yeah. She also gave me some juicy information about Riddle's short term plans to prove she's on the right side. I checked with Veritaserum just in case. I'll tell you after we're done here Amy "Sirius sighed. "Long story short, he wants to risk a prison break in the future. Zissa has had enough of it and I quote" the flubberworm fantasies will destroy everything on both sides while they throw tradition in the mud. "As she left, she emptied any Malfoy dungeons she's had access to, it's not much, unfortunately, but it's something ... Draco is stuck in the pro-Voldemort camp and all she asks us to at least try that not killing little idiots when he has a choice in all of this. "

Harry blinked and started laughing. "Wow. You know it is bad when your own mother runs away. Do you trust her Sirius?"

"I know. I can only recommend that Andi take a look into her mind at some point, but yes. I trust her. I will have Malfoy's marriage dissolved by the end of the week. I wish I could do the same to Bella .." . "

Andi snorted. "Bella never complained about the prenuptial agreement. She just married Rodolphus so she could follow Riddle faster."

"Anyway, Harry, you said you'd like to show us something before the goblins arrive?" Sirius asked, looking at his godson.

Harry nodded and pulled out the Soul Gaze rune. Luna switched positions so she could see better and put her arms on Tracey's shoulders as she pushed up to look over the crowd. The Slytherin rolled her eyes in amusement while Susan and Hannah only smiled at the smaller blonde girl. "I call this the soul viewer. It's just a perception rune associated with a soul rune and a visualization scheme. It should only manifest souls as auras. With luck, it will show where Riddle's soul is concentrated in me, and we can cut it off. "

"I still hate this plan," Shiva muttered. Tonks nodded in agreement with her hair, which was blinking just before it changed from pink to black.

"Harry," Hermione said slowly, "you are sure this runestone is safe, yes? You have repeatedly mentioned how soul runes tend to be ... unpredictable."

Fleur nodded. "Yes, you will not lose your soul because of this if you activate it? It would be quite difficult to marry you if that happens ..."

The low chuckle that Fleur caused met an annoyed look from Harry. "No, Fleur, I'm not going to go Soulless. And yes, Hermione, I'm sure it's safe. It might be a little weird, but it's safe. There is literally nothing beyond three runes." Hermione sighed and nodded in agreement.

"Okay, let's do that. It has a surface effect of about ten feet. So don't be surprised if you start to glow or something. Each soul should be represented by a different color. I think." Harry shrugged, picked up the runestone and lifted a mirror from the table in front of him.

A tingling wave of magic penetrated most of the occupants in the room, who were suddenly enveloped in a faint glow. Luna squealed with glee when she saw that Coco had a little glimmer about her little body and most of the others were just as fascinated by their own soul aura. Harry had started to stare in the mirror when he looked in the mirror to check his scar. His own soul manifested itself as an emerald green color that was strangely comforting. Unfortunately, a sprawling black mass was centered on the scar, with tendrils creeping out and encircling much of his head and torso.

"Damn it. It might be centered on my head, but it looks like it's twisted around too much. The clipping probably won't work. We need to come up with a plan B I guess." Harry frowned. All noise and conversation stopped when he put the mirror down. Harry looked around and saw everyone staring and staring at him. "Guys? What's going on? We knew this was likely to happen."

Daphne stepped forward very slowly, very carefully, and picked up the mirror. "Harry, look at the rest of you." She held up the mirror and Harry looked perplexed in the mirror.

Centered on his chest and twisted all over his body was a third color scheme. A bright red one. It seemed to be most bundled up with the necklace he wore under his shirt, and as he watched one of the black tendrils touched him and backed away slightly. Harry's breath caught in his throat and his mouth went dry. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't swallow, he couldn't think. He could only blink at the red soul aura inside him.

The gaze on the soul observer died and the visible auras around the group disappeared again into nothing. Someone tried to talk to Harry but didn't hear what they were saying. There was a thud on the door and one of the group moved to open it and let the goblin in. Harry's eyes met Snapfist and his brain started again. Harry jumped up and hurried to the goblin. "Graveyard. Now!"

Snapfist rocked back on his heels as Shiva grabbed Harry's shoulders and yanked him back. "Smaller, slower! We have to -"

"NO!" Yelled Harry. "I have to go to the damn cemetery! NOW!"

Harry paced up and down in front of his parents' grave as some of the adults exhumed the body. He couldn't stop moving because if he stopped moving they would try to talk to him. Hermione had been the only one who hadn't tried anything. Everyone else gave up gratefully as he paced back and forth.

All the little things that dragged on over the years came together like a giant puzzle, and the degree he reached was both amazing and terrifying at the same time. Why his scar looked like a rune of protection covered with something else. How his mother's protection was still strong enough to hurt Voldemort 10 years after the funeral. Lily Potter's will was never activated. James Potter's will literally got Harry to touch the necklace and put it on. Their echo in the duel did not come from Voldemort's wand. How a piece of one of the most powerful wizards in the last century couldn't take control of a baby.

Eventually the grave was completely exposed and the coffin floated up. Harry stopped walking and watched fixedly. Shiva stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder. "Kid ... Harry ... Harry!" He staggered around and stared at her. "Harry, look, even with ... that," she said, pointing to his chest, "there's a very good chance your mother ... well ..."

"Open it please," Harry said softly. He would kill Dumbledore to keep him from doing it. On purpose or not, the old man had prevented Harry from being here for 14 years. 14 years he could have with his mother ... He would find the flames and he would stab the old man through the heart with the sword of Gryffindor.

The lid lifted from his mother's coffin and Sirius and Amelia gasped for air. Remus glanced at it and broke aside, but didn't blink. Not daring to breathe himself, he stepped forward carefully and looked at his mother's body.

Instead of the rotting corpse he expected, there was a beautiful young woman, barely older than Tonks. Flaming red hair marked a soft face and delicate hands were clasped over a modest chest. Lily Potter looked like she hadn't aged a day since she received a killing curse 14 years ago. Harry calmed down and used his chain to reach her.

"Stop!" Hermione screamed and grabbed Harry in a hug. "Think about it! What if she has her body in a stasis field while the protection she left inside you is still active? What if you close that circle and the protection deactivates, Harry." "What if the soul piece overwhelms you when the protection is gone ?!" Hermione sobbed into his back.

Tonks stepped forward and gently pulled Hermione's arms away from Harry. "It's not our choice, Mine. It's his." Hermione cried harder and buried her head in Tonks' chest while Harry smiled at his partner.

"I'm fine, mine. I'm a lot stronger than I was as a baby." Without waiting any longer or letting anyone else voice their opinion or concern, Harry turned and reached out his hand to grab his mother, the necklace in between.

A glow of light illuminated the graveyard and Harry felt a magical pulse come from him through his hand. The energy pulled and pulled until he felt like it was taking all he had. Eventually the flow stopped and Harry fell to his knees next to the coffin, breathing heavily.

"Harry, are you okay?" Shiva asked, kneeling next to him and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Harry just nodded as he stared at his mother's body, he couldn't say anything at the moment.

Nobody was breathing, waiting with bated breath for something to happen. Some seemed to be watching Harry like a hawk, just waiting for him to tip over and clutch his head and scream in pain. Others watched Lily to see if her body was breaking up quickly or reacting in any other way. Harry could only unconsciously count in his head, his eyes unshakable.

With barely a flinch to deny the storm, a pair of brightly shining eyes blinked.