“You took two boys, Severus!” a voice hissed as Harry woke up from his dream. He remembered seeing the name of his former Potions Master on the map, so he had dashed down to meet the greasy-haired ex-teacher. The man had insisted he give him a letter, but who did the Potions Master work for? Was it Voldemort or someone else? More synapses fired, and he remembered someone had shouted his name just before he was taken by a Port-key to wherever it was, he found himself.
Opening his eyes, he found himself in an old ballroom of some sort. Moth-eaten red curtains were pulled back, allowing hazy sunshine into the large room. Harry realised he must not have been out long or was in a different part of the world. However, something told the youth he was still in the UK somewhere. The cherry-wood floor was warm but mired by dust. It seemed the room had not been used for its function for many, many years. He felt a finger prod him, registering the fact he was tied up to someone.
“Harry, are you awake?” Neville Longbottom whispered voice reassured him.
“Yes, where are we?” Harry asked, looking around to find a table at the far end where two men stood with their backs to the ‘prisoners’. Unfortunately, they were stood in dim light, so he could not make out any features.
“I think we are in the home of- “Neville was cut off by a familiar voice.
“Ah, Harry, my boy. I see you are awake,” Albus Dumbledore’s grandfatherly tones snapped Harry’s head to the two men. The ex-headmaster was wearing dreary brown robes instead of his usual colourful clothes. Walking slightly behind and to the side of him was Severus Snape, looking as malevolent as ever.
“Why have you kidnapped Neville and me?” Harry demanded angrily.
“I was never meant to take Mr Longbottom. However, your friend came along for the ride,” Dumbledore replied jovially.
“Where are we?” Harry wondered if he could keep the old man talking until help arrived.
“You are in the old Dumbledore residence in Godric’s Hollow, the place this all started,” the ancient wizard explained, readying himself for a tale. He conjured himself a chair waving his wand but doing so silently. Harry could feel the power coming from the wand, but he could also hear a song coming from it as well. The wand itself was unassuming, brown wood with a handle formed from two conjoined spheres. But there was something about it that drew Harry’s attention, though Dumbledore seemed not to notice.
“Gellert Grindelwald and I were the closest of friends. He had come to live with his Great-Aunt, but he had come searching for the Míreanna Draíochta, Merlin’s legendary items of power. He also had a vision, a world where wizards would rule over Muggles for the greater good. Where Muggles and Wizards could live together in peace with no wars, no disease, and no famine,” Dumbledore was warming to his tale, “but Gellert became greedy. He wanted absolute power the Míreanna Draíochta would bring him. So, I saw him for what he was, not the next Arthur, but Medraut, a Dark wizard. My brother had long noticed this, and we ended in a three-way duel, which killed my sister.”
“What the hell has any of this got to do with me?” Harry demanded, wondering if the man was indeed off his rocker.
“You never were patient, Black!” Snaped snapped.
“You finally got my name right. Unfortunately, I was never patient because you were a lousy teacher,” Harry returned, getting a slight poke from Neville. He knew the other boy was telling him not to antagonise his captors. Harry was considering if Cepheus was nearby. “Was it you that took Ceph?”
“Stop asking point- “Snape began but was quelled by Dumbledore, who waved him down performing a silent spell.
“Harry!” Ceph’s voice cried out as the Silencing Charm was lifted. Harry twisted his head around to see his little brother also tied up looking pleadingly at him.
“I am the one you want, right? So, why don’t you let Ceph, and Neville go?” Harry turned back to face the elderly ex-headmaster.
“Just shut up and listen to what the headmaster has to say!” Snape snapped once again.
“It is OK, Severus. Harry is pure of heart and will be worried about his friends and family; we must make allowances,” the ex-headmaster told the Potions Master soothingly. “Now where was I, ah yes. While I was devastated by my sister’s death, Gellert fled, and I threw myself into my studies, eventually becoming the Headmaster of Hogwarts. I never forgot what Gellert, and I dreamed up until I got wind of a Prophecy.”
“The one you told me about?” Harry asked, oddly curious now.
“No, much older than that, one from Merlin’s time. It suggests a mighty warrior will rise and take up Arthur’s mantle. That they will lead the magical world into a new dawn. I thought this was the revolution Gellert and I had discussed but knew I was not the great leader the world needed, so I waited and watched.” Dumbledore looked far away as though seeing the distance past, “Then I discovered Tom Riddle, a powerful young wizard with a story not unlike your own with blood running back to the Peverall’s. I thought this could be the next Arthur, but I was blinded to his dark side as I was with Gellert. I thought if I gave him more chances, he would turn back to the light.”
“You! You were the one that made Riddle the monster he is,” Harry sputtered.
“I knew the real Arthur would return, so he would need an enemy worthy of defeating, another Medraut,” Dumbledore said it like it was the simplest thing in the world, “So I encouraged him in some areas, though I did not expect some of the routes he went down until the Prophecy about you emerged. Though I was never sure who the Prophecy pertained to until Riddle attacked, it could have been you or Mr Longbottom.”
“You what?” Neville shouted, “What Prophecy?”
“There is a Prophecy that says someone born as the seventh-month dies will defeat Riddle. But as I said, I did not know who it pertained to until Riddle attacked your parents,” Dumbledore replied happily. “I knew then you were the next Arthur that would lead us into a glorious future. I thought I could be your advisor to help you shape the new world, but you would need some adversity to get past like all great heroes.”
“That’s why you left me with my family? So that I would be a hero in some story you are narrating. You are a seriously crazy old man!” Harry was incredulous. Dumbledore had left him in misery and pain because of some convoluted idea that he was the next King Arthur.
“Don’t talk to Professor Dumbledore that way!” Snape shouted. Harry was seriously getting annoyed with the ex-Potions Professor.
“Be still, Severus,” the old man calmed Snape, now holding him back. He felt something heavy placed in his hand at that moment, knowing that Neville had given him something. As Dumbledore and Snape argued, he ran his finger up the object, feeling a quick sharp pain. The dark-haired youth knew then Neville had given him a dagger or knife of some sort. Briefly, he wondered why the other boy was carrying it around but figured it was something to do with being a Lord. He would have to ask Sirius if he got out of this alive.
“You must see you are the child of Prophecy, Harry; you will lead us all into a glorious future,” Dumbledore was almost pleading now. Harry knew he had to keep the man talking until he could get his hands free and activate the necklace he wore.
“You talk about me being the next King Arthur, but surely I would need this Mere-thingy?” Harry asked, acting dumb, as he continued sawing through the rope with the knife, which must have been magical because surely Snape or Dumbledore would have put a spell on them. “If they are authentic, they must be lost now?”
“Míreanna Draíochta,” Dumbledore automatically corrected Harry. “I know they exist because you own the Cloak of Invulnerability.”
“The Invisibility cloak you gave me in my first year?” Harry asked.
“Yes! Legend has it, the Cloak of Invulnerability can make people invisible, but it can also protect you. Like a Muggle shield against harmful charms,” the old man supplied.
“What are these other so-called items of power?”
“We do not have time for this,” Snape muttered.
“We have plenty of time. No one from the Ministry or Black’s own family will ever think to look here. You left breadcrumbs that Death Eaters had taken Cepheus and now Harry, correct?” Dumbledore asked.
“Yes, all their enquiries should lead to the Death Eaters.”
“All being well, the Aurors may end up taking out a few Death Eater’s before they realise the group do not have them. By then, Harry will be ready to take up his destiny,” Dumbledore replied with a gleam in his eyes. Harry knew the man had indeed lost the plot.
“Go on then, tell him your tale,” Snape waved the old man on, turning back towards the table as Dumbledore prepared himself for relating Merlin’s tale like he was some kind of Grandfather with children at his feet.
“Now where to start, ah yes. The Míreanna Draíochta was created by Merlin from his Magical Staff Draoidheachd and split into three parts….” Dumbledore repeated the story that Draco had told him, explaining the war between Medraut and Arthur. Harry was unsure how long had passed since Dumbledore had begun his very long-winded story, but the light was starting to fade from the windows. Turning around slightly, he looked at his brother, who had fallen asleep by the looks of it.
“… So now many people including Gellert, search for the Míreanna Draíochta. But as you know, you have the Cloak of Invulnerability, and I suspect Gryffindor’s sword is the fabled Excalibur.” Dumbledore finished his narrative.
“But what about the Elder Wand? You have not told us about that yet,” Harry asked, sawing quicker now, the ropes frayed and crumbling.
“It has a difficulty and bloody history, moving from hand to hand. But in the early 1900s, Mykew Gregorovitch began boasting that he owned the Elder wand and was trying to replicate its properties. I do not know the exact date, but Grindelwald got wind of the rumours. He attacked Gregorovitch in the middle of the night and stole the elder wand, stunning the wandmaker to become its Master,” Dumbledore somehow seemed downcast as he fiddled with his own wand, “Grindelwald used the wand to wreak havoc and destruction on the wizarding world especially in Europe. I never knew whether it was due to our previous relationship, but he never tried to take Great Britain.”
“You fought him, though; that is why you have the Order of Merlin and Grindelwald resides at Nurmengard Prison,” Neville spoke up for the first. “Everyone knows about the most famous duel in recent history.”
“I did fight Grindelwald. He was beginning to turn to even darker magic’s, but we battled, and I won in the end. I took possession of the Elder wand,” Dumbledore held his non-descript wand up. The music was soaring louder.
“Do you hear the music?” Harry asked.
“You hear it too?” Dumbledore asked, surprised. Then he looked at the boy calculatingly. “I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. Nevertheless, I was permitted to tame and use it because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it.”
“But now it calls for a new owner. Your spells have not been as strong as they are used to,” Harry finally understood. Dumbledore appeared surprised by Harry’s words.
“Perhaps it needs an owner that will use the wand to its full potential,” a new voice spoke, causing them all to turn to the door. Tom Riddle, better known as Lord Voldemort, was standing at the entrance to the ballroom. Harry recognised several of the Death Eater’s with him, as some refused to wear masks. Lucius Malfoy glared at the boy, but if looks could kill Bellatrix No-Name would have put Harry ten feet under. The rope snapped clear as Harry noticed the giant snake at Voldemort’s feet. While the two parties were focused on each other, Harry reached up and used the necklace Amelia Bones had given him.
“You will never have the wand, Tom,” Dumbledore angered the snake-like man.
“Do not call me that name! My filthy mother named me after a dirty creature,” the man snapped, “I am the true Lord of Magic!”
“Ha! You could not even defeat a baby,” Harry told the man standing up. He was able to do a silent Accio and now stood with his wand in his hand. He could feel the pain in his leg, but he refused to give Voldemort the satisfaction of seeing him in pain.
“Filthy half-breed,” Bellatrix screamed out.
“You are the filth here,” Neville stood beside Harry. He had gotten Cepheus and was pushing the boy their backs.
“Oooo little Longbottom grew up,” Bellatrix taunted.
“Hush, Bella,” Voldemort held his bone-white wand limply, but Harry knew the former man was ready for battle. “That wand shall be mine before the day is out.”
“I do not think so,” Dumbledore told him, engaging Voldemort in another battle of insults. Harry edged the three of them further back onto the dais where the table sat. He noticed the Sorting Hat was lying ragged on the table.
“Hello, Mr Black,” the Hat said, opening its brim to talk.
“I did not realise you could speak without being on someone’s head,” Harry told the Hat, surprised.
“I can do a lot of things, people do not realise,” replied the Hat, a hint of amusement in its voice. Harry hoped that Amelia and the Aurors would arrive soon as he knew he would not be able to fight both Dumbledore and Voldemort.
“Why did Dumbledore want you?” Harry asked the same time Neville asked, “How did they get you?”
“Albus Dumbledore was trying to get me to reveal my secrets, tell him of the Míreanna Draíochta,” the Hat revealed. “I was stolen in the night by a student under Imperious who bought me to Severus Snape.”
“What do you mean, ‘tell him of the Míreanna Draíochta’. How do you know?” Harry asked curiously, still keeping one eye on the verbal sparring between Voldemort and Dumbledore. However, he noticed some of the Death Eaters were beginning to look restless.
“I was there when Merlin created them. I was once Merlin’s apprentice until I stole something precious from him. He transfigured me into a Hat, and I have lived for over a thousand years as this Hat,” the Hat proclaimed.
“Human Transfiguration is impossible,” Neville claimed with a gasp.
“Merlin was the strongest wizard to ever live. He has done many things that have been lost to the sands of time,” the Hat replied. “Mr Black, you may not be the reiteration of King Arthur, but you are a strong leader and may one day face a threat even darker than Riddle. One day there will come a time when darkness begins to spread across the world; even the non-magical world will feel the grim reality. But with love and family, you will be able to overcome it.”
“That sounds like a prophecy,” Neville spoke with awe.
“Make of it what you will, but Merlin was a Seer, and he Saw things far into the future,” the Hat told them. “He knew that the Wand would fall into the wrong hands, which would alter its nature.”
“What do you mean to alter its nature?” Neville quizzed the Hat, “We were told the wand bonds with a wizard.”
“They do indeed, but Thestral hair is highly unstable, and its nature can be changed. Over time the wand has become bloodthirsty from bonding with the darker members of society.” The Hat detailed the Wand’s nature, “but I can give you the incantation that will combine the Míreanna Draíochta into their original form while combining your two wands to stabilise the Thestral hair.”
“How do you know I have two wands?” Harry asked, surprised. “You don’t have any eyes.”
“I am a magical object. I can feel these things,” the Hat almost sounded affronted.
“I am sorry, I did not mean to upset you,” Harry told the Hat.
“Do not worry, young Mage, I am not easily offended after 1000 years of dealing with snotty-nosed brats,” the Hat returned.
“Can you help us now?” Harry asked.
“With the Incantation, you will be able to combine the three wands, stone and cloak to create the Staff.” the Hat explained to them, “It will give you an advantage, but you will have to bond with it after it is created. You may use the Staff, but it will not be as powerful until you bond. To bond, you must be in a sacred place. I can give you the location and dates it should happen.”
“All right,” Harry replied simply. Voldemort and Dumbledore were still trading barbs causing Harry to roll his eyes.
“Put me on your head,” the Hat suggested. Harry reached for the hat, but Neville grabbed his arm. He pulled the other boy away a few metres.
“Do you think that is wise?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“We know almost nothing about the Sorting Hat. It could have been bewitched by Dumbledore to make you do his bidding,” Neville suggested.
“It’s been on the heads of hundreds of thousands of students,” Harry responded, “besides, Hermione told me the Hat cannot be tampered with magically or otherwise.”
“I believe it,” Cepheus spoke. Harry had forgotten the smaller boy was even there.
“What’s your instinct telling you?” Harry asked, looking into the stormy-grey eyes of his brother.
“I trust you, and I think we can trust the Hat. I want to go home, Harry, to Dad and Hermione,” Cepheus look scared. Harry shared a look with his friend and foster-brother.
“We need to get out of here soon, with or without the Aurors,” Harry told him.
“I trust your instinct,” Neville let go of Harry’s arm. The dark-haired youth moved back to the hat and picked it up, placing the magical object on his head.
It seemed to be a matter of minutes as images and spells downloaded into his brain from the Hat. He did not know how the Hat could do what it was doing, but he knew Merlin’s spell to separate and combine the three powerful items together amongst a few other bits of information he would have to think about when he had more time. But then, abruptly, the flow of information came to an end when something significant hit his head. He wretched the hat off to find the sword of Gryffindor/Excalibur. Harry pulled the sword from the hat and found the blade in a beautiful scabbard. The youth gently pulled the sword out to reveal the name Excalibur written on it.
“Wow, that’s incredible,” Neville spoke, looking at the large ruby in the hilt of the sword.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Harry responded, digging through his bag that had been sat on the table next to the sword. He hauled the Cloak of invulnerability out. “We need to get Dumbledore’s wand if we have any chance of doing this.”
“I think we should wait,” Neville suggested. “You can combine them if we get out of here alive.”
“We will get out of here alive,” Harry replied just as the first curse was finally thrown by one of the Death Eaters. Harry handed Neville the sword. “Can you take care of this?”
“Sure,” Neville tried to sound casual, but his nerves got the better of him. Harry stuffed the hat into his bag with the Cloak to muffled protests about mishandling ancient artifacts. Finally, he turned back to the battle, both wands now in his hand as he stood in front of his brother and Neville, ready to protect them.
“Protego totalum,” Harry yelled as a flash of red light, headed in their direction. Instead, it splashed against the dome-like structure Harry had created. The two different sides were battling it out: Snape and Dumbledore versus Riddle and his cronies. As loathe as Harry was to help the man who had kidnapped his brother and him, he did not want the man dead but to face trial. “Are you able to do a shield charm, Nev?”
“Sure, it’s not massively strong, but it will be sufficient,” Neville replied.
“Keep down and out the way,” Harry told them as he moved up Dumbledore’s side, no one noticing. “Breca Baan.”
The effect was almost instantaneous, Lucius Malfoy screamed out in pain as both of his legs broke, and he collapsed to the ground wailing in agony, which was abruptly cut off as Voldemort casually waved his wand, killing the blond-haired man.
“I see you have decided to fight like a man instead of running,” Riddle commented idly. Harry just ignored him, ducking a curse from one of the other Death Eaters.
“Confringo,” a voice yelled out, taking Riddle’s attention away from Harry. Instead, Bellatrix stalked closer to him, firing off a Crucio curse. Harry managed to duck out of the way just in time, but she followed up with another cursing causing a cut across his face to open up, nearly taking off his ear.
“The Littlest Black finally grew up,” Bellatrix taunted.
“That’s Lord Rendlesham, Bellatrix No-name, and I am going to send you into the depths of hell like your dear husband,” Harry replied, staring at her defiantly. She screamed, and the pair engaged in trading spells. Bellatrix threw every dark curse she could at Harry except for the Death Curse while Harry defended himself, sometimes sending back spells he had learned over the summer the year before in the Black Library, and from Remus and Sirius. The pair were so engaged they never noticed the outside world or the fight between Dumbledore and Riddle. Neither Bellatrix nor Harry saw Severus Snape fighting two other Death Eater’s fending off the bumbling pair quite well. Harry was beginning to sweat, and he could feel his leg beginning to tremble as he moved about, trying to avoid Bellatrix’s curses, the pain worsening.
Harry’s sole focus was on Bellatrix that he nor anyone else noticed the twelve-foot snake slithering along the cherry-wood floor stalking her prey. The small child was the right size to eat, and her beloved Master had ordered his death, which would make this tasting even sweeter. Nagini flicked her tongue out, tasting the purity of the boy-child as she inched her way closer. She ignored the larger child, not considering him a threat as Nagini raised herself up; her hood flared as she prepared to use her venom on her prey. The female snake flicked her tongue one last time, checking the conditions were just right before striking.
Neville had been watching the battle raging all around him. Voldemort and Dumbledore seemed to be locked in an epic battle as Snape fought the two Death Eater’s, different colour curses splashing against shield charms. Neville had his own weak shield trying to protect himself and Cepheus from any rogue charm, curse, or Hex. But he had noticed a slight sound turning to see a twelve-foot-long olive-green snake. The snake had the appearance of a cobra but was much larger. He saw the snake rear up, ready to strike at Cepheus, whose attention was elsewhere. With a yell, Neville swung the sword as the snake lunged forward. Instantly the blade sheared straight through the body like a hot knife through butter decapitating Nagini.
Lord Voldemort, formerly known as Tom Riddle, was in his element. He knew today was the day he would defeat Albus ‘Too many names’ Dumbledore once and for all. He could see the ancient wizard weakening, the old man’s shield was cracking, and his spells were a pale imitation of once-mighty magic. Voldemort prepared himself for the killing curse, bringing his hatred for what this man stood for forward. Then, abruptly, he staggered as though hit by something barely avoiding a Charm by Dumbledore. Voldemort’s strength seemed to drain from him as he had the sudden realisation that Nagini was dead. The Dark Lord found her body underneath a teen bearing a sword.
Bellatrix was desperately firing off curse after curse as Harry used the simplest charms to protect himself or fire back. However, his Charms were strong, and several times Bellatrix had nearly lost her wand to his Disarming Charm. The former Black woman had just fired off a particularly nasty cutting hex when Harry felt as though he had been hit by a bolt of electricity. He staggered and was clipped by the Hex, cutting his arm, but the dark-haired youth noticed her cries of glee soon turned to screams of distress. Harry watched as she moved towards the Dark Lord.
“Blódgeótend,” Harry cried out, remembering the curse from one of the Black books. The purple curse hit the wild witch, stopping her instantly. She opened her mouth as though to cry out but vomited blood. Tiny pinpricks of blood appeared on her body, and she collapsed, bleeding from her eyes, mouth, and ears. She looked to be literally drowning in her own blood.
“Harry, how could you?” Dumbledore stared at the youth, shocked. Riddle cried out as he lost one of his most loyal servants.
“Aurors, drop your wands,” a voice called out. Riddle took one last look at his fallen Death Eaters and Disapparated with the ones still on their feet. Several men and women in the red robes of Aurors hustled into the ballroom, taking one look at Dumbledore before firing several Stunners. Before the former Headmaster and Potions Master could apparate, they were both stunned.
“Lord Rendlesham, please lower your wands!” Harry’s chest heaved as he heard the voice of Amelia Bones. He lowered them as his leg finally gave in, and he collapsed to the ground.
“Pup,” he heard the voice of his father cry out as Cepheus also yelled for their dad. Harry suddenly found himself in a three-way hug with his brother and dad.
“What happened?” Amelia asked as her Aurors went to work, securing the two former Hogwarts professors then investigating the dead.
“Can you not give them a minute?” Sirius looked at his girlfriend.
“We need to know what happened,” Amelia replied firmly.
“Not until I have examined them,” a Field-Healer told her boss. Amelia huffed but went over to talk with Robards.
Forty-eight hours later, Harry was settled in his bed at Hárasteorra Hall, staring at his ceiling reliving everything that had happened. He could not get his mind off what had happened with Bellatrix.
“It is no use going over it; you’ll just make yourself ill,” Amelia’s soft voice said from his doorway.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked, not unkindly.
“I thought it best you talk with someone with a bit of experience,” Amelia approached his bed, settling on the edge.
“Do you think I am a murderer?” Harry asked the question that had been plaguing his mind.
“No! However, I do think you are a bit stupid, using a spell you did not know what it did,” the Head of the DMLE grinned at him.
“I just remembered it from the library books. I thought it might be something like a Stunner,” Harry replied sheepishly.
“While you should never use Spells you have no real knowledge of and you are not a Murderer!” Amelia told him firmly.
“I still feel guilty,” the dark-haired youth admitted.
“I would be scared if you did not; it makes you human,” the woman told him. “While Bellatrix should have had a trial, she had done a lot of evil stuff. So perhaps, the punishment fit the crime.”
“Thank you, Amelia.”
“I am here to talk to, and I know you have a meeting with your Mind Healer. I urge you to tell them about this, or it will eat you up inside,” Amelia urged the boy.
“I will.” Harry nodded earnestly.
“Now, get out of bed before your father comes and pranks you.”
“That Mutt will never prank me,” Harry replied with a genuine grin on his face. Amelia could see the shadows in his eyes but knew he was on the road to recovery. She had already visited with Cepheus and Neville Longbottom. The latter was a strong personality who was now being treated as a hero to his peers as the story had appeared in the Daily Prophet, despite Amelia trying to keep it quiet.
Cepheus, meanwhile, would also be seeing Harry’s Mind Healer. However, due to his youth and a few cuts and bruises, he bounced back quicker than Harry.
“I heard that. You wait until I get you. You’ll never suspect it’s coming,” Sirius threatened, breaking Amelia from her musings.
“Whatever, Mutt, you might want to look in the mirror.” The whole house heard Sirius cry out as he looked in the mirror.
“That’s an impressive bit of wandless magic,” Amelia complimented the boy, who gave her a sly grin.