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SIYE Time:3:16 on 24th February 2018


Darkness Within II
By MollyandArthur

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Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Rating: R
Reviews: 166
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Within. This story begins the night before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. Canon couples accurate to JKR. The romance between Harry and Ginny will develop slowly due to their ages. Please note rating and warnings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 16616; Chapter Total: 332
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
With thanks to my beta, Arnel, and everyone who is reading and reviewing!




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Chapter 25

The Headmaster’s Office

Albus gazed into the bright crimson embers of the fire as he stroked Fawkes. The phoenix’s vibrant red plumage glowed slightly in the light of his empty office. Laying open on his desk was the latest letter from Nicolas.

He read the letter aloud to the portraits, then sighed. “While I can’t pretend to approve of his actions, there is no doubt his control was extraordinary.”

“You know full well the boy had it coming, Albus,” Dylis Derwent sniffed. “In my day, he would have--”

“No one cares what would have happened in your day,” snapped Phineas Black.

“You’re just cross because the boy is the son of a Black,” Eupraxia Mole commented.

Armando Dippet cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should focus on the matter at hand. The point of this discussion is not young Mr. Malfoy, but Professor Weasley. Was his control of the beast relatively normal for him or does this incident demonstrate a definite escalation of his magical power?”

“That is indeed the vital question,” Albus mused. “Nicolas clearly believes this was a different level of mastery.”

“Humph,” Phineas grumbled. “Well, then, what is the….” He paused turning his head to glare in the direction of the stairs. “My great-great-grandson is on his way up with the werewolf.”

“Ah, yes.” The Headmaster smiled. “Perhaps Sirius and Remus have some news for me.” He settled back into the chair behind his desk and waited quietly for his guests to arrive.

“Good evening, Albus.” Remus nodded politely as he walked into the office.

“Please, have a seat.” He gestured towards the high-backed chairs facing his desk. “Lemon drop?” He tilted the glass candy jar slightly in their direction.

“No, thank you,” Sirius responded as both men settled into their chairs.

“How can I help you this evening?” Albus inquired.

The two men exchanged a brief glance before Remus cleared his throat. “We’ve been talking with Bill and Fleur, trying to better understand the nature and benefits of their magical bond. It seems that Charlie and Anna may be experiencing the bond more strongly. May I ask what your thoughts are on the situation?”

He leaned back in his chair. “I have some suspicions and some hopes. Are you aware of a further escalation in their magic?”

Remus nodded. “I received a letter from Anna this morning. Over the summer we began working on wandless magic. Her task was to use the Summoning Spell to retrieve her wand from a distance of several feet away. Apparently, she succeeded for the first time yesterday.”

“A remarkable achievement for such a young witch,” the Headmaster acknowledged. “I have reason to believe that Charlie has also experienced a heightening of his magical talents.”

“And Charlie already told us that he and Anna can sense each other over long distances,” Sirius added. “Bill and Fleur have tried to push the limits of their own ability to know where the other is, but they still can’t feel each other’s presence farther than a couple hundred yards or so.”

“Why might their experiences be different?” Remus asked.

“I can only make an educated guess of course, but sometimes in magic there is a building of power, particularly when the same event occurs multiple times.” His eyes twinkled as he spoke.

“You believe this will happen again,” Sirius pressed.

Albus nodded. “Muriel has confirmed that these bonds are unusual, but not unknown in the Prewett family. I wonder if either of you have heard of the Muggle concept of genetic predisposition.”

Sirius looked at him vacantly before peering at Remus with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s the idea of something being in the genetic make-up, the body and blood perhaps, of a person. For example, some Muggle medical conditions are believed to be genetically predisposed and then a triggering event or confluence of multiple factors can cause them to happen,” Remus explained.

“You’ve lost me completely,” Sirius muttered.

His friend sighed sardonically. “Think of it this way. Most of the Black family is probably predisposed to some degree of madness due to cousins marrying for far too many generations. Why is Andromeda perfectly sane, Narcissa mostly composed, and Bellatrix positively crazy? They are sisters, raised by the same parents in the same house, yet they are quite different. Did one single manifestation or perhaps a series of events trigger Bellatrix’s insanity? Could it have been prevented at any point in her childhood or young adulthood? Were Andromeda and Narcissa simply lucky, or did they somehow manage to avoid the experiences that triggered the twisted evil in their sister?”

“If you’re hinting about the affects of Azkaban, I can assure you my dear cousin, Bella, was definitely insane long before she entered the prison. Although she probably came out far worse,” Sirius admitted.

“The point is that since these magical bonds are possible in the Prewett family, we have to ask how or why they happen so rarely. Molly was clearly stunned by the bond. The knowledge of these events is not even passed down through the generations because they are such unusual occurrences.” Remus rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“Perhaps it needs to come from both parties of the bond,” Sirius surmised. “Maybe Bill could have only bonded with Fleur. Had they never met, he would have never bonded with anyone. Still may have married, had children, lived his life normally and happily, but unbonded.”

“Indeed,” Albus nodded. “I believe an entire set of circumstances had to converge just perfectly to set these bonds in motion, making them incredibly rare -- even within the Prewett family. I have continued with some private research and heard back from many old friends. I have concluded that the Prewett family may very well be the only one in wizarding Britain to have ever experienced this previously.”

“So why now? Why Bill and Fleur? Why Charlie and Anna?” Remus asked.

“An extraordinary and rare set of circumstances. Seven children born to a Prewett, all highly magically talented in various ways. Bill was the Head Boy at Hogwarts in his time and achieved a remarkable twelve O.W.L.s. He is not simply a curse-breaker for Gringotts. According to the Head Goblin, Bill is the curse-breaker for Gringotts. He is their best. Not every employee would be allowed to so easily transfer from Egypt to Britain so quickly.” Albus paused for a moment, taking a sip of water. “Consider the young witch he bonded. Fleur is the granddaughter of a Veela. She was the Triwizard Champion from Beauxbatons. Obviously, I don’t know as much about her as I do Bill, but clearly, she is a strong witch, powerful in her own right.”

“And Charlie?” Sirius prompted.

“He was the Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, a talented Seeker who could have gone professional had he not chosen to go to Romania to work with dragons.” Albus tapped a finger on the open letter on his desk, before scrutinizing the two young wizards in his office. “I’ll need your word that you will not repeat what I am about to tell you before I say more.”

Remus and Sirius exchanged an uneasily glance before agreeing.

“You may have been curious how I obtained the leave of absence from the Reserve for Charlie to take a teaching post this year.” Both men nodded. “I’ve been corresponding with Nicolas, the head of the Reserve in Romania, for some time. Charlie has displayed a unique ability when working with the dragons from his earliest days there. Nicolas has personally taught Charlie Occlumency to protect him and has insisted on silence and discretion from the other dragon handlers.”

“What are you saying?” Remus clenched the arms of his chair as he leaned forward.

“Charlie can train dragons. He can control them to a degree Nicolas has never seen or even heard of.”

“That’s not possible,” Sirius muttered.

Albus sighed. “Just before the start of the school year, Charlie took a brief trip to Finland. He was met by a few handlers who brought a Romanian Longhorn to meet him at his request. Apparently, the dragon is one of Charlie’s favorites.” He handed over the letter from his desk. “Nicolas relayed the details of the encounter as described by another Draconologist who witnessed it all.”

The men held the letter between them -- reading it carefully.

Sirius let out a bark of laughter, while Remus seemed too stunned to react until a feral grin spread across his face.

“I see you approve of Charlie’s actions rather more than I do,” Albus frowned slightly. “Regardless, the description of his level of control over the beast is rather startling.”

Remus nodded. “Many pet owners don’t have that much control over a dog. I can see why this ability has been kept quiet. A wizard with that much power could perhaps order a dragon to destroy an entire village.”

“I’m pleased you comprehend the possible danger of Charlie’s skill,” the Headmaster remarked soberly. “That of course leaves us with Anna. As with Fleur, I admit to not knowing much about her other than that she is a good student and seems to be a very powerful witch. I know her grandmother, Katherine Longbottom, was a Potions prodigy as well as being the Head Girl in her time. With her other three grandparents having been Healers, magical prowess is certainly to be expected in Anna. Interestingly she and Fleur are both seven years younger than their future husbands.”

Sirius leapt from his chair. “You think this has something to do with the Prophecy! Something to do with Harry!”

Remus shot a bewildered look from one man to the other. Albus exhaled slowly, a smile spreading across his face. It was easy to forget how brilliant Sirius could be. His propensity for adolescent humor, violent outbursts, and drunken stupors hid a keen mind and a fiercely loyal heart.

“What am I missing?” Remus rose slowly from his seat.

“He keeps mentioning the numbers from the prophecy - seven and three. Remember the conversation the kids had at the Manor. Ginny wondered if the numbers were important and they are, aren’t they?” Sirius asked.

“I believe so, but this remains mostly guesswork at this point,” Albus admitted.

“Back up!” Remus demanded. “Alright. Seven was mentioned a couple times, but not three!”

“Not as obviously, but Fleur was a Triwizard champion, tri as in three. Harry was as well technically,” Sirius said. “And, with the girls, Albus was focusing on their grandparents. Three generations. Do you think it’s important that Fleur is the granddaughter of a Veela?”

“It may be, or it may not,” the Headmaster admitted. “I’m simply observing the patterns in the events we have all witnessed. Whether everything has a meaning or not is anyone’s guess. If another magical bonding occurs in the Weasley family…well, I’m sure we are all familiar with the saying ‘third time’s a charm.’ Charlie and Anna’s bond already seems stronger than Bill and Fleur’s bond. It goes to follow that the potential exists for a third bond to be even stronger.” He shrugged. “All of this may have nothing at all to do with the Prophecy, but listening to Bill and Fleur talk so many weeks ago. They focused on the power of the bond. I can’t help but wonder if ‘the power he knows not’ could be the power gained from a magical bond.”

“But you told Harry the power was love,” Remus said.

Albus nodded. “And I believe it is. What caused the magical bonds in the Weasley family?”

“Nothing caused it,” Sirius replied. “Bill cast numerous diagnostic charms. He assured everyone that no magic was cast to cause the bond.”

“Indeed, no magic, but love.” The Headmaster’s eyes twinkled. “We were speaking of a trigger earlier. What was the final trigger that caused the bond between Charlie and Anna?” He paused briefly before answering his own question. “He asked her to enter into a betrothal contract, and she agreed. The act of deciding to marry is certainly a powerful declaration of love.”

Remus frowned slightly. “What about Bill and Fleur? Did they have a similar trigger?”

Albus nodded. “Bill was not completely forthcoming, but from what he was willing to say, it is clear to me that he and Fleur bonded immediately following their first act of loving — of physical intimacy.”

“So they were surrounded by magical, glowing light right after having sex for the first time?” Sirius smirked. “That must have been…interesting.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“You believe Harry will be the third to bond, with Ginny obviously,” Remus said.

“And she is the seventh child of Molly Prewett,” Sirius added.

“I admit it’s rather a stretch, but I believe it is at least possible.” Albus stroked his beard. “The Prophecy is vague, as all prophecies generally are, but ‘the power he knows not’ is the most vital piece of the puzzle. Helping Harry gain that power and understand how to use it may well make the difference in him surviving the encounter we know he is destined to have with Voldemort.”

“Well, then shouldn’t we explain this to Harry and Ginny and encourage them to…” Sirius’s voice trailed off.

The Headmaster bit back a chuckle. “Personally, I would prefer not to risk Molly’s wrath by encouraging her only daughter to sleep with her boyfriend or become engaged to him in the near future on the off chance that we are interpreting the meaning of the Prophecy and the effects of the magical bonds accurately. Besides, I believe the bond must happen naturally, not be forced or even coerced.”

Sirius sighed heavily as he collapsed into his chair. “So we just wait and hope for the best.”

“Alas, I’m afraid that really is our only course of action.” Albus sipped from his water goblet. “Now, on to other matters. Have you made any progress learning about Hufflepuff’s cup or Ravenclaw’s diadem?”

Remus cleared his throat. “As far as the cup is concerned, we haven’t been able to learn any more than what you already told us. It was last in the possession of Hepzibah Smith. It was discovered missing after her death. We’re still waiting to hear back from a few sources on the continent, but as it stands now, no one has seen or heard any mention of the cup in decades. Assuming Voldemort turned the cup into a Horcrux, I wouldn’t be surprised if he left it in the hands of one of his favored Death Eaters since he left the diary with Lucius Malfoy. The most likely candidates would be Avery, Mulciber, Nott, one of the Carrows, or one of the Lestranges.”

Sirius made a face. “Well, if my dear cousin Bella were given the cup, I imagine she would have treasured it as other women would their first-born child.”

“Treasured and done what with it?” Albus mused.

The men were silent for a moment before Remus spoke again. “This may sound ridiculous but…” He paused to collect his thoughts. “…if Voldemort gave it to Bellatrix or any member of an old pure-blood family, wouldn’t it be logical for them to store it at Gringotts?”

The Headmaster smiled even as he shook his head. “Of course. It is so simple and so brilliant.”

“Any chance of the goblins being willing to let us look in a few vaults?” Sirius inquired.

He chuckled thoughtfully. “That will require some very delicate negotiations. I will have to make it clear we are searching for a lost relic stolen from the Smith family long ago and even then….” His voice trailed off as he considered the possibilities.

“As far as Ravenclaw’s diadem is concerned,” Remus said. “We found no records of it at all. It has truly been lost for centuries, so I can only suggest that we ask those who have been gone for centuries.” He peered around the room at the many portraits of former Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts lining the walls.

The portraits glanced about at one another in a rather comical fashion before one finally spoke. “The diadem has indeed been lost for centuries, and personally I have never heard it even discussed within these walls. Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the ghosts would be more helpful to you. They see and hear more than we possibly can.”

“A reasonable suggestion,” the Headmaster considered. “Unfortunately, the Grey Lady is the most likely to know something that might help us and the least likely to actually share any information. We will have our work cut out for us gentlemen.”

“Well, as long as you don’t mind us hanging out around Hogwarts, I’m sure we can charm her into talking to us eventually,” Sirius declared.

“An honest approach may be the wisest course of action when dealing with Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter,” Remus opined.

“You try your way. I’ll try mine. As long as one of us learns something….” He shrugged. “Mind if we catch up with the kids a bit before leaving?”

“Not at all,” Albus smiled. “I believe you can find your way to the Gryffindor common room. The current password is Devil’s Snare.”

“Severus Snape is on his way up,” Phineas announced.

The Headmaster nodded and flicked his wand silently, conjuring a chair next to the one Remus was about to vacate.

Severus came to a halt halfway across the office. “My apologies. I was unaware you had…guests.”

“Join us, please,” Albus motioned to the chair. “How was your meeting with Voldemort?”

The professor peered deliberately at the other two men as he sat. “I’m not certain it would be wise for me to discuss such things in present company,” Severus enunciated clearly.

Albus sighed. “The three of you share a greater knowledge and understanding of the threats we currently face than any other man alive apart from me. You must trust one another for us to have any chance of helping Harry defeat the encroaching evil. Severus, you wouldn’t have come if you didn’t have important news. What happened?”

The other man rubbed his chin for a moment. “The Dark Lord called me to speak with him at Malfoy Manor, where he has recently taken up residence. Lucius was the only Death Eater present for our meeting. The Dark Lord was puzzled by Narcissa’s continued absence from the Manor since news of her husband’s liberation from Azkaban a few weeks ago has surely reached her. Early today the Dark Lord spent an extended period of time rifling through his host’s mind, searching for clues to explain her disappearance.”

“And what did Tom learn?” Albus asked.

“Not a great deal,” Severus admitted. “He learned of the Malfoys’ interest in securing a betrothal agreement with Miss Henry, and of Lucius’s belief that Narcissa wanted that alliance very badly. The fact that Narcissa apparently wouldn’t share her reasons for wanting the marriage to take place after using Occlumency herself on her husband furthered the Dark Lord’s curiosity. He called me to him to share my knowledge of the girl and of the betrothal.”

Remus leaned forward. “What did you tell him?”

“That’s the problem. I told him nothing of obvious import -- nothing he couldn’t easily learn from other sources.” Severus’s gaze fixed upon the other man. “I explained how Miss Henry joined the student body as a third-year student and mentioned her recent betrothal to Charlie Weasley, our new Care of Magical Creatures teacher. I expressed the opinion that Miss Henry is a talented witch, but not the top student in her year. The Dark Lord asked specifically about her ability in Potions, and I remarked that she is quite accomplished for a Gryffindor. He inquired about her family, stating that Lucius had already informed him she was a ward of the Longbottoms. I confirmed that and explained that her grandmother was Katherine Longbottom, the sister-in-law to Augusta.”

The Headmaster frowned. “What exactly concerns you, Severus?”

“His reaction. Briefly, as I was speaking of Miss Henry, I thought the Dark Lord was losing interest and was about to dismiss me, but the moment I mentioned Katherine Longbottom by name…” He shuddered slightly. “…Some sudden awareness, the glee in his eyes, the way he was pacing the room rubbing his hands together…He was chuckling as he dismissed me, and I heard him immediately calling for Bella and Dolohov as I left.”

Albus turned with unveiled concern to Remus. “Any ideas?”

“Nothing concrete,” he replied. “Anna has never been particularly forthcoming about the past. She lost her grandparents and parents one after the other all in a relatively short span of time. Neither Augusta nor I ever pressed for details about any of them. She’s mentioned her grandmother in passing occasionally of course, but…well, you know, Anna…” He glanced over towards Severus before turning to Albus.

“Severus has had many years to perfect the art of conveying just enough information without revealing all to the Dark Lord.” Albus assured him. “You would do well to trust him, and I’m afraid it may be vital for us to learn what filled Tom with such glee from the minor details Severus revealed, information he could have gained just as easily from a dozen others. It was all relatively common knowledge.”

Remus rubbed his forehead. “Anna knows some slightly unusual magic, including how to erect a blood ward rapidly. It is magic her grandmother taught her long ago. She is also more capable of nonverbal magic than she likely reveals in the classroom.”

Severus’s jaw twitched. “Is she also capable of wandless magic?”

Remus was silent, but met the other man’s gaze head on.

“I wondered how she managed to overwhelm Draco. We need to learn more about Katherine Longbottom. The Dark Lord must have known her in some way. Could she have been one of his earliest followers?”

“I sincerely doubt it,” Remus frowned. “Katherine left Britain the summer after her seventh year. She moved to America, became a wife and a mother by the time she was about twenty. As far as I know, she never even returned to Britain for a visit.”

“Well, their must be some reason the Dark Lord was so pleased to hear her name,” Severus insisted.

“I’ll talk to Augusta,” Remus promised. “Perhaps she’ll have some idea.”

Albus nodded. “I’ll pull Katherine’s old school records and talk to Horace. I definitely recall Potions was her favorite subject and she was quite talented — definitely a member of the Slug Club.”

“Will anything be said to Miss Henry?” Severus asked.

“Let’s give it a few days, and I will of course speak with Charlie,” Albus decided.

The other men nodded and left the office.

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