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The Raven Queen by Joe Bloggs

Format: Novel
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 35,487
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Mystery, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Albus, Scorpius
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius

First Published: 01/16/2019
Last Chapter: 08/25/2019
Last Updated: 08/25/2019

Summary:

"Don't worry, Albus. Like a phoenix, the wizarding world will rise from the ashes but first...it has to burn!"

 

Sequel to The Dark Lessons



Chapter 1: Detached
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“You know…it wasn’t your fault.”

Her smile was warm, as it always was. She was sitting across from him at the table with the best view of the Thames.

“Then, who’s fault was it?” Albus asked.

“Hers,” she said.

“I think my hubris played a part too. I thought I could beat her,” he said.

“A person shouldn’t be blamed because they got outsmarted.”

“Clearly you’ve never read Sun Tzu. A person whose arrogance stops them from contemplating what their enemy is capable of is to blame. I couldn’t contemplate that Delphi was evil and it cost an innocent boy his life. I couldn’t contemplate that Nemesis was two steps ahead of me and it cost you yours,” Albus said.

“I’m not dead,” Alex reminded.

She was always kind. Always gentle. Always supportive.

“And always fake,” she said reading his thoughts. “You need to stop doing this.”

“Doing what?”

“Talking to me inside your mind vault. I’m not her, Albus. I’m not real. I’m your memory of her with a few embellishments!”

“Embellishments?”

“Come on, Albus! My tits aren’t this big in real life and you know it!” she said purposely poking out her chest at him. She had definitely gained a cup size or three. And all of her gorgeous features were miraculously free of any kind of flaws. Her scars from all her many duelling battles were gone and her skin seemed to almost glow. Like a mirage.

“Well…I…” he mumbled.

“The real Alex wouldn’t be helping you nurture your guilt. She’d be telling you to get off you ass and back into the fight!” she stated.

“I’m not –“

“Yes, you are! You’re blaming yourself for everything and it’s swallowing you whole! You need to wake up!”

“Alex…I don’t know what to do…” he admitted.

“Well, you’re not going to figure it out daydreaming! Wake up!” 

“No, I need to –“

“ALBUS, WAKE UP!”

Alex mouth may have moved but it wasn’t her voice. A great tug suddenly ripped him away from the scene and his whole body clenched as a wave of cold hit him. He shivered and quickly became away that his feet were sore and aching.

A Cold breeze blew through the air and somewhere in the distance a dog was barking. Standing in front of him was a very worried looking Draco Malfoy. His white-blond hair was a mess and he had bags under his eyes.

“What? What’s wrong?!” Albus immediately asked.

“Are you awake?”

“Of course, I’m awake, you just woke me u…” the words died as he looked around.

Albus was standing in the middle of a country road surrounded by a few village houses on his left and open fields on his right.

He had no idea where he was.

“Where am I?! How did I get here?!” he demanded.

“You slept walked…I think,” Draco said.

“What?! No…I don’t…I…I can’t sleep walk! I don’t dream!” he said frantically, grasping for a reasonable explanation for how he came to be there.

 “Well, you woke me up by slamming the front door on your way out and I just followed you for a mile, yelling your name and you didn’t respond! You were like a zombie,” Draco said.

“This…this shouldn’t be happening…” he said, now aware of why his feet hurt so much. He wasn’t waring any shoes. In fact, he was in wearing nothing but his boxers.

“You’re spending too much time inside that damn vault of yours!” Draco growled and grabbed him by the shoulder.

There was a sharp tug inside his stomach, as if he were being pulled by a bungie cord and his ears popped. Suddenly they were both standing in front of Draco’s house. It wasn’t nearly a big or lavished as Malfoy manor had been (which he had sold years before) but it was still an impressive house. Five bedrooms on three floors, an amazing kitchen and a huge garden.

He lived between London and Milton Keynes were the house prices weren’t so ridiculous. The Malfoy family fortune had been greatly diminished after the war but Draco was still considered wealthy. A few sound investments over the years had made sure that he would never have money troubles.

“You’re detaching from reality, Albus!” he said walking past the large hedge bushes towards the front door.

“I need the vault. It’s the only place I can review all the data and try to make sense of it,” he said following.

“And how’s that working out? You’re no closer to finding her, the ministry doesn’t even believe that Alex is possessed and I don’t know if you saw the evening Prophet, but they are staying that you should be confined to St. Mungo’s for observation because you’re suffering from post-traumatic stress!” he barked.

Albus winced as he walked through the front door. He needed to sit down. “And what do you think?”

“I think you need to stop drinking before you go to sleep!”

“It wasn’t your whiskey, calm down,” he said collapsing into an armchair in the front room.

“Well, that makes a change!”

Draco looked up at the grandfather clock that stood against the wall. It was almost six in the morning. The sun would be coming up soon. No point in trying to go back to sleep.

With a flick of his wand a handful of coffee beans hoped out of and trotted happily across the kitchen counter before merrily suiciding themselves into a grinder which then floated across to a filter and tipped its contents in, all the while the kettle began to boil by itself.

“You can’t keep doing this to yourself,” Draco sighed. “I don’t know if you’ve looked in the mirror lately, Albus, but you look like death!”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re about as fine as a Nundu with the hiccups and those things have wiped out entire villages! How much longer are you planning on hiding here?” Draco asked.

“I’m not hiding!” Albus snapped. “I just…there’s too many opinions, too judgemental looks at my house, I can’t focus there.”

“Yeah, well, nobody believes that you’ve been here for the last three weeks just spending time with you friend,” Draco snorted.

“Why not? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing.”

“Because he’s not even here!”

“Yes, he is. He’s upstairs.”

“No, he isn’t. He hasn’t been here in three days which you would know if you weren’t spending all of your time inside the damn vault!”

“What? Where is he then?!” Albus asked looking a little scandalized.

“At Anya’s.”

“Why?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Draco said with angry sarcasm, “maybe helping her with the baby, which you said you were going to do!”

“I said I would go over there on Friday!”

“It’s Monday!” Draco roared. “You missed Friday, Saturday and Sunday! And now you’ve slept walked through the early hours of Monday!”

Albus looked a bit confused. Had he really been in the vault for three days? “You can’t tell anyone about that! The ministry already thinks I’m losing my mind, you tell them that I’m sleep walking and I’ll be in a locked ward before lunchtime!”

“Might be the best thing for you,” Draco mumbled and flicked his wand again. Two cups of hot coffee floated over to them.

“Draco, I’m serious.”

“I’m not going to tell anyone!”

“Good. Because she’s not going to stay quiet forever.”

“It’s been seven months, Albus. What the hell is she waiting for?”

“The right time to strike. She’s already waited fourteen hundred years. Patients is something she has in abundance,” Albus warned.

 

SEYCHELLESEAST AFRICA

 

Many men, including married ones, including men whose partners were standing right beside them couldn’t help but stare at the young girl by the pool. Even a few women cast longing looks her way. Nemesis may have been in control but she hadn’t changed Alex’ body in any way and that was what was grabbing so much attention.

People could be forgiven for think that she was a Veela but in truth she was just a fortunate recipient of good genes and had a strong dedication to healthy living. Lounging on a sunbed in nothing but a dark red bikini, everyone already in the pool was hoping she’s dive in.

But, it didn’t matter how many people around the expensive hotel resort tried to get her attention, she had eyes only for the newspaper in front on her.

A moving picture of Albus Severus Potter yelling at a bunch of ministry officials before being dragged away by Scorpius Malfoy took up most of the front page along with the headline: BROKEN POT?

It’s become a growing concern over the last few months that Albus Severus Potter may by suffering ongoing, stress related hardships after the events that transpired in Hogwarts seven months ago. Although his family members refuse to comment, the Prophet has learned of several heated exchanges between the Saviour of the Wizarding world and his second son. Albus is apparently showing high degrees of paranoia and has tried to convince the Ministry to investigate Alexandria Bonde (Duelling champion of the wizarding world and voted most attractive athlete by witch weekly three times). Many are attributing this to post-traumatic stress but others believe it could be because the famed duellist and temporary Professor of Hogwarts rejected Albus Potter unwanted affections. Some are even expressing concerns that the events at Hogwarts and the ministry combined with being spurned by the much-desired witch have left Albus a danger to himself and the public. Should specialist healers at St. Mungo’s intervene?

In other news: Hogwarts set to re-open this Monday. Can the Tri-Wizard cup continue the Sorting Hats Legacy?

Nemesis sighed. “So typical,” she muttered to herself. “You try to save them and look how they treat you.”

She caressed her finger over the moving image of Albus. “Don’t worry, Albus. They’re in for a rude awakening.”

She looked up and saw a middle-aged man with a goatee laughing as he was pulled into the hotel lobby by a sexy young blond whom was easily half his age.

“Right on time,” Nemesis smirked and stood up from her sun bed.

Dozens of men ogled her as she walked around the pool towards the outside bar. She dumped the Daily Prophet in the bin at the end of the bar before leaning forward. An abashed young man in a white serving jacket rushed forward to take her order. He was sweating buckets in the heat.

“Yes, madam?” he said in a French accent.

“Mojito, s’il vous plait,” she smiled.
The barman got to work mixing spirits and shaking them over ice.
“Hello,” a male voice beside her said. 
Nemesis looked to her left to see a tall, tanned and very chiselled man in a speedo standing next to her. He was giving her his very best smoulder and flashing a gold, diamond incrusted Rolex on his wrist at her.
She gave him a seductive smile which made him come closer and start speaking in Italian. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the barman turn his back. With a flick on her finger the rich Italian guy that was attempting to hit on her suddenly headbutted the bar with a much force as he could with a horrible thud before collapsing on the floor.
The barman looked around, startled by the sound and saw the Italian on the ground, completely out cold.
Nemesis made a movement with her hand like she was drinking from an invisible cup and then pointed at the comatose rich guy.
The barman shook his head in annoyance and muttered a few swear words in French. He handed her the finished Mojito then picked up the phone, probably to complain about a drunk guy to hotel security.
She smiled kindly then headed off towards the hotel.
The air-conditioned lobby was very refreshing and marble floors cooled her feet as she walked. The two security guards that were standing by the lifts got a call through their ear-pieces and moved away from their posts to go a deal with the drunk Italian that had passed out by the pool bar. Nemesis entered the lifts without any problem.
She got off on the fifth floor and walked down the corridor, sipping her Mojito as she went.
The sounds of male laughter and excited female giggling got louder as she walked until she was standing outside the room that it was coming from. With nothing more than a thought, she unlocked the door and gently pushed it open.
Well, they didn’t waste any time.
The man was already in his Boxers and the woman had stripped down to her lacy white underwear. Between the horny chuckled they were kissing and groping each other as much as possible. So much so that they didn’t realize that a bikini-clad demi-god was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame and sipping a mojito with an amused expression on her face. She looked over and saw a pair of wands lying on the bedside table next to an opened bottle of champagne.
For a moment she contemplated just staying there and seeing how far the couple got before realizing she was there but that would have been a waste of time. As beautiful as that island was, she hadn’t come there as a tourist.
“So…”
The girl screamed in shock and the man leaped backwards looking furious.
“This is where you come to get away from your wife, Mr. Tunney,” Nemesis grinned.
“Who the bloody hell –“ Before he even finished expressing his outrage, he lunged for his wand but both of them suddenly shot off the table and into Nemesis’ hand.
They both looked stunned at what she had just done for a second before comprehension dawned on the man’s face.
“Wait…you’re…Alexandria Bonde?!”
“No, I’m not. Although, I’ve been told I look just like her…probably because I’m wearing her.”
He looked like he was going to try and snatch his wand out of her hand but before he could, Nemesis’ eyes suddenly lit up, as if a firework had just gone off behind them. The mans body instantly slackened and he just stood there staring at her.
“Get your clothes on and meet me in the lobby,” Nemesis order, handing him back his wand.
“Yes, of course,” Mr. Tunney said before grabbing up his clothes from the floor and putting them on. He was behaving like he was under the Imperius Curse.
“What – What have you done to him?!” the woman shrieked.
Nemesis gaze turned to her and her eyes flashed again. The woman mimicked the man, becoming instantly docile.
“He is useful. You are not,” she said simply then nodded towards the rooms balcony.
As if in a trace, the woman drifted towards the sliding glass doors at the back of the room, opened them and then took a swan dive straight off the balcony. Nemesis finished her Mojito and set the empty glass on the side just as a massive crash followed by horrified screams filled the air outside the hotel. 
She grinned with anticipation before leaving with the enslaved Mr. Tunney.
It was almost time to get Albus back in the game.


Chapter 2: Me, Myself and Nemesis
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After two knocks on the green front door, it opened a few seconds later. Anya Zabini, still beautiful but slightly exhausted was the one looking back at Albus. She cocked her head to they side and put a hand on her hip but didn’t scowl at him.

“Well, you look really familiar…like a bloke I once knew…seems like so long ago,” she sassed.

“I’m sorry,” Albus said feebly, toying with the zip of his tattered jacket. “I lost track of time.”

 

“You lost track of the date,” she corrected. “It’s the fifth, you said you’d be here on the second.”

“How time flies,” he tried.

“Hmm,” she nodded allowing him to come inside.

It was a modest flat, nothing like you’d expect a Zabini to be living in. Further evidence that her parents were not pleased that she had given birth to a half-blood child and were only giving her marginal support. As he walked into the living room, he heard Scorpius talking in an incredibly childish voice.

“And a little fold here and a little fold here and…” he saw him lifting up Anya’s giggling baby girl; Hope. “You are cooked.”

He seemed incredibly proud to have changed her nappy all by himself.

“Now, do you think you can go at least an hour without soiling this one?” Scorpius asked the happy baby.

“Gahh,” Hope responded with a drool bubble which Albus suspected meant ‘no’.

Scorpius looked over and saw Albus standing in the doorway with a guilty expression on his face.

“Managed to climb out of the bottle then?”

“I’m sorry…well, I’m not sorry I missed the nappy changing, but you know…”

“Actually, you’ve missed about the last fifteen. How she can poop so much is beyond me,” he said handing Hope to Anya who cradled her in her arms.

“New-borns have delicate digestive systems and the muscles for ‘holding it’ haven’t fully developed yet,” Albus answered automatically.

Anya looked at him quizzically.

“I read a book,” Albus shrugged.

“Well, it’s nice to know that you actually did intend to be here,” she smiled.

“Again, I’m sorry,” Albus said.

“I know you’ve got a lot on your mind,” she sighed. “So, I won’t stop you from dragging him to the ministry.”

“We don’t have to go yet, we can…”

“No, you do need to go. I don’t know if you saw the prophet but –“

“I saw it.”

“If you are going to do something, you better do it fast because they are getting very close to calling the little men in white coats from St. Mungo’s,” Anya warned.

“I know.”

Scorpius straightened out his clothes and walked over to them. He gave Anya a quick peck on the lips followed by a smile. “I’ll floo you once we’re done.”

“Okay. Try to make sure he doesn’t snap at reporters,” she smiled.

“See ya later,” Scorpius grinned and headed out the door with Albus.

They walked down the corridor in silence until they reached the stairs.

“So, what’s it like?”

“What’s what like?”

“Looking after a baby.”

“Haaaarrrrrd work,” Scorpius breathed. Albus had noticed the bags under his eyes and the fact that he hadn’t even bothered to try and do something with his hair. “I’ll never admit it in front of her, but Anya’s stamina is putting mine to shame.”

“I really am sorry…I…your dad caught me sleep walking last night,” Albus admitted.

Scorpius stopped in his tracks looking very worried.

“I thought that couldn’t happen?! You switch off your subconscious when you sleep so how –“

“I don’t know.”

“Well, what do your vault files say about it?”

“Sleep walkers have a lot of repressed aggression, guilt and frustration. And…it’s common among people suffering from PTSD.” Scorpius looked like he was about to say something but Albus interrupted him before he could. “I don’t have PTSD!”

“I never said you did. Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising if you did.”

“Just don’t tell anyone about the sleep walking, okay?”

“Fine,” Scorpius said before grabbing Albus by the shoulder.

The two of them disappeared into a blur of motion and then were gone.

They rematerialized inside the Ministry Atrium, in the designated disapparation area. A few other people were popping out of thin air around them but most were arriving via the floo entrances that lined the walls. They immediately started walking through the crowded Atrium towards the lifts. A lot of wizards and witches recognized Albus instantly and either kept their distances of shot him an odd look before whispering something to the person next to them.

Albus ignored them. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t had to deal with that kind of thing for his entire life at Hogwarts after all.

“You seen Rose lately?” he asked.

“Not recently, you?”

“Yeah, I saw her last week,” Albus said.

“Oh, I must have missed her.”

“Actually, she missed you, purposely.”

“Huh?”

“Come on, Scorp. Don’t you think it’s a bit strange that since you and Anya became an item, she’s been avoiding you like Splattergroit?”

“Don’t start.”

“She’s jealous. You’ve stopped chasing after her and she’s suddenly realized how much she enjoyed being pursued,” Albus grinned.

“Wow, that doesn’t make me sound like a stalker at all. Thanks,” Scorpius grumbled.

“You know what I mean. The old saying; you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?”

“I’m not leaving Anya to go after Rose again, Albus,” Scorpius growled.

“I didn’t say you should. It’s your love life, your decision. I thought you should be informed.”

“Consider me informed,” he huffed as they got into the lift and took it down to level two. Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

They stepped out of the lift and headed towards the main entrance. In front was a large round desk with an irksome looking witch with a awful beehive hair-do behind it. Several interdepartmental memos were zooming through the air with a few stoppings at the desk. The witch looked up and scowled as Albus approached.

“You don’t have an appointment,” she hissed.

“I have a dad. He’s in there right?”

“He’s in a meeting!”

“That’s funny Iris, the last time you said he was in a meeting, I found him having a beer with Ron in the Leaky Cauldron. Exactly what constitutes a meeting to you?” Albus smiled.

Iris hated him and he really didn’t care.

“You shouldn’t be here! You’re hurting your father’s reputation!” she snarled.

“And your ass is hurting national security. If it gets any bigger the Russians are going to think that we’re using it as a mobile launch platform for ICBM’s. I’ll just go in, I’m sure he won’t mind,” Albus said before walking passed her desk and into the Auror offices.

Iris was left with her mouth agape, unable to respond.

The Auror department was twice as big as it once was. Harry’s joining and subsequent rise through the ranks had inspired many other wizards and witches to sign up as well. No one was complaining of course, crime rates in magical Britain had dropped to an all-time low.

They moved through the offices quickly, avoiding the hustle and bustle of the people working there. Everywhere, Aurors were sitting at their desks reviewing paperwork or looking at evidence boards. Some were sending off memos while others chatted amongst themselves. A few of them cast a cautious eye at Albus as he walked passed them.

He couldn’t stop himself from scanning the open cases that they were working on. He singled out one in particular that was laying open on none other than Teddy Lupins desk. Triple murder via the killing curse.

“Huh,” he chuckled. “That’s clever.”

“What?” they turned to see Teddy standing behind them looking a little annoyed. He had opted for his plain light brown hair for a change.

“Oh, nothing,” Albus said quickly. “Where’s my dad?”

“Chatting with Hermione and a few other high-ups,” Teddy said.

“So, he actually is in a meeting? That makes a change.”

“You spotted something about my case, what is it?” Teddy demanded.

“Nothing. I’m not Auror, this is your job, not mine,” he said airily.

“Don’t be an ass, Albus. I know you like reminding everyone how smart you are but three people are dead and –“

“Two,” he corrected.

“What?”

“Two people are dead.”

“That’s strange because we have three bodies,” Teddy said.

“Where did you bury the third victim?” Albus asked.

“Cemetery outside of Cornwall, why?”

“With his wand?”

“He had no next of kin, of course we buried him with his wand.”

“Might want to check that body again,” Albus suggested.

“Why?”

“Ever seen someone that has voluntarily taken Draft of Living Death? They look just like a corpse. If you get the measurements right, you can even time how long it lasts. And it wouldn’t be difficult for a supposedly dead man to confund the examiner to say that he found nothing in the victim’s system. Aurors don’t guard dead bodies after all. Just take another look at the grave, I wouldn’t be surprised if you find that it’s empty,” he said quickly.

Teddy looked horrified that he hadn’t thought of that.

“Albus.” They all turned to see that Harry had stuck his head through the door of his office. “Come in.”

Albus and Scorpius entered Harry’s office and left Teddy scrambling through his notes, trying to confirm Al’s theory.

Inside, Hermione was sitting on a sofa with Gerty, her overly eager and very free house elf standing next to her. On her other side were two other senior Aurors. Calvis, the larger of the two men seemed to enjoy dressing like a muggle from the nineteen-seventies. He was wearing a large overcoat and flat cap and sported a short mustacho. The smaller man, Blagden, was half-cast middle eastern and had a very neatly maintained goatee.

“Minister,” Scorpius nodded to Hermione.

“Hi Gerty,” Albus smiled.

Gerty always became insanely nervous around Albus and let out a little squeak of acknowledgment before averting her eyes.

“You both look awful,” Hermione said with a disapproving look.

“Babies are hard work,” Scorpius mumbled.

“Understatement,” Harry snorted. “I wish I could say it gets easier but…”

“Wow, a full seven seconds before you started in on me,” Albus scathed. “Gerty, could you inform Guinness, we have a new record.”

“I’m not starting anything, Albus, calm down,” Harry said taking a seat behind his desk.

Albus bit back his temper. “I’m just here for any updates you’ve got, then I’ll get out of your way.”

“You’re going to be disappointed. MACUSA Aurors spotted her three days ago but no one has seen her since,” Harry reported.

“MACUSA? She’s stateside?”

“Yeah, guess where?” Calvis pipped up. “The Grand Canyon. Very popular destination for…you know, tourists.”

“She wasn’t there for the scenery. Nearest city would Flagstaff, does MACUSA have anything in that area?”

“I don’t know. Albus, MACUSA is under no obligation to share information with the British Ministry or with any other Ministry for that matter. They are passing along this information as a personal curtsey to me,” Harry explained. “They’re not investigating her.”

“Why the hell not?!”

“Because she hadn’t done anything wrong!” Blagden said. “They approached her, they asked her a few questions and then let her get back on with her holiday. They said she was cooperative, very pleasant and even signed an autograph for one of them.”

“In other words, not a single member of magic law enforcement in the entire damn world believes me! Terrific!”

“Albus, I’ve had first had experience with possession and –“

“Not this kind!”

“The Imperius curse and dark magic you’ve never seen,” Harry continued over the interruption. “She is showing zero signs of any of it. Her behaviour is perfectly normal, she even floo’s her mother every few days just to chat.”

“Albus, you have to look at the facts,” Hermione weighed in. “She went through a gruelling, exhausting year to win the duelling championship and then, less than two months later, she agreed to teach at Hogwarts and then had to endure all of that madness as well. She’s earned a rest. She deserves to get away from it all for a while and frankly…the only person whose behaviour is off at the moment is yours.”

“You think I’m making this up?!”

“I think you have experienced some truly awful things that no one should have to go through and that it’s taken a toll on you,” she said gently but only managed to enrage Albus even more.

“Albus…you won’t talk to anyone about it. Every time we try, me your mother, Hermione, you stonewall us or avoid the issue completely. You need to talk to someone.”

“Therapy?! You think I need a shrink?!”

Scorpius forced himself to stay silent. He knew this was a bad line to be going down. Gerty looked ready to pass out.

“I’m saying it could do some good.”

“The only thing that is going to do me some good is finding Nemesis and stopping her before she can finish whatever it is that she’s doing!” Albus roared. “Or have you morons not realized, France, Japan, Germany and now America. All places she’s been to in the last few months, all countries with large magical schools and large magical governments!”

“Oh, come on, that’s circumstantial at best,” Calvis snorted.

“This is a very unhealthy obsession, Albus,” Blagden sighed.

“Obsession?”

“Look, she’s a gorgeous woman and no one likes to be rejected but –“

“My God, you people really did survive the war against Voldemort using nothing but dumb luck, didn’t you?!” Albus growled.

“Albus!”

“I do not need therapy!” he yelled before storming out of the office. Scorpius follow quickly.

“Albus, wait!”

Harry and the others followed calling his name but he refused to slow down. He needed to get away from them or his temper was going to get the better of him and he would do something bad.

“Albus, stop! Talk to us!” Harry tried again with no success.

“Oi, Albus!” Iris shrill voice rang out as he passed her desk.

“What?!”

“I’m your fathers secretary, not yours! Get your packages delivered to your house, not here!” she yelled waving a small wrapped package at him.

A wave of panic hit him like a bucket of cold water. Everything seemed to stop. There was no way anyone could have predicted the exact time that he would be at the Auror offices since he hadn’t even known when he’d arrive.

“Put it down and step back,” he said, not taking his eyes off the box.

“What? What’s in this thing?”

“Back off now, Iris!”

She heeded his warning, placing the small box on the desk and stepping away just as Harry and the others caught up to him.

“Albus, we just want to –“

He cut his father off by holding up his hand to silence him before slowly approaching the package. Scorpius had his wand out and ready and Harry quickly caught on that something wasn’t right.

Very slowly and with incredible care, Albus examined the box before untying the string that held it together. He felt around the top of the box for anything that could be rigged but found nothing. He removed the lid and took a breath.

His relaxed slightly as he pulled out what was inside.

“A phone?” Scorpius said looking confused.

It was. A muggle phone. Thin and metallic black, Albus tapped the screen with his finger causing it to light up.

“Wha – muggle devices can’t work in the ministry!” Hermione said looking shocked.

“It’s been modified. Reinforced case, shock proof glass, EMP shielded,” Albus mumbled while examining it. The screen was asking for a thump print to unlock it.

Albus pressed his thumb to the screen and it unlocked. No messages, no numbers in the phone book, no wifi connection, no photos, no data of any kind. It was completely blank.

“Why would –“

The suddenly started ringing. The caller I.D. said Unknown.

Albus took a breath then answered, flicking it onto speaker. He knew the voice before it even spoke.

“Hello, Albus…did you miss me?”

Nemesis was back.



Chapter 3: Mind the Gap
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“Hello, Nemesis,” Albus responded.

 

“Albus, what are you talking about? It’s me, Alex,” she said. Harry and the others looked momentarily relieved but that didn’t last long. “Only joking. I can’t believe how easy it’s been to fool these idiots. I thought they were supposed to be detectives,” she laughed.

 

Now the Aurors just looked confused.

 

“What do you want?” Albus growled.

 

“Don’t be like that. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch sooner but I ‘ve been busy. I’ve missed the last fourteen hundred years so I’ve had some catching up to do. Don’t tell me how Breaking Bad ends!”

 

“Walter White dies.”

 

“Damnit! You’re mean!”

 

“You’re genocidal!”

 

“Have you seen how many genocides there have been in the last fourteen hundred years, Albus? Seems like it’s been trending for a while now.”

 

“What do you want?!” Albus repeated, starting to lose his temper.

 

“I wanted to see how you are. The papers have been saying some pretty nasty things about you lately and your family only seems to be making it worse. I thought you could use someone to talk to,” she said actually managing to sound sincere.

 

“That’s funny, my dad was just saying the same thing,” he remarked while casting an ugly look at Harry.

 

“You in therapy? That’s a recipe for disaster. After everything that’s happened they still don’t understand you, do they? Maybe you’re the one that should be in therapy, Harry,” she quipped.

 

Harry went rigid.

 

“Yes, I know you’re listening. Say hello,” she said sounding amused.

 

“Hello,” Harry said after swallowing. It was starting to dawn on him that his son may have been right.

 

“And I’m sure there’s a nervous frown building inside an explosion of brown hair so, say hello Minister,” she added.

 

“H-hello,” Hermione’s voice broke a little.

 

“Oh, and Scorpius, I think you and Anya make a very cute couple. I’m happy for you,” Nemesis said causing Scorpius to look uneasy.

 

What she said next made him look downright murderous. “I’m also glad to see that there isn’t much green in her flat. Looks like she’s leaving her Slytherin roots behind, just like you.”

 

She made it sound completely casual but both Albus and Scorpius caught the hidden threat in her words. She knew where Anya and Hope lived.

 

“You didn’t call just to check on my well-being, so what do you want?” Albus said trying to steer the conversation away from Scorpius’s girlfriend.

 

“Actually, I did. I told you, I’m the only one that really understands you. You’re a man of action. You don’t need to sit around talking about your feelings. You need to be doing something,” she said.

 

“I am doing something. I’m ending this call.”

 

“Oh, you’re in a mood. Fine, but before you go could you just quickly tell me what time it is?” she asked sweetly.

 

Albus sighed. He checked the time on the front of the phone then compared it to the clock just above Iris’s desk.

 

“It’s nineteen minutes past eleven,” he said.

 

“Good. Then you have forty-one minutes to save your sisters life.”

 

It was as if all the air had suddenly been sucked out of the room. No one could move or speak or breath. The Ministry had become a vacuum in space and they were all just left floating there, helpless.

 

“What did you just say?!” Albus hissed breaking them out of their shock.

 

“I went to platform nine and three quarters this morning. I thought I’d catch a glimpse of you seeing your sister off but you never showed. I spos’ I shouldn’t have been surprised, you’ve had a lot on your mind lately but still, I was disappointed. And I decided to leave a little something on the Hogwarts Express to show just how disappointed I was. Disappointed that you weren’t there, disappointed at how you’re being treated, disappointed that they’ve actually decided to reopen that bastard school!” she sighed. “I might have gone a little too far.”

 

“There’s four-hundred children on train!” Albus pleaded.

 

“Four-hundred and twenty-six to be exact. And now, you’re going to save them,” she said excitedly.

 

Albus looked to his left. Scorpius had turned white. Lily, Hugo and everyone else that was returning to or starting their first term at Hogwarts was onboard that train and it had already left the station.

 

“Now, before you dash off, there are rules,” she added.

 

“And they are?”

 

“Well, we don’t want to make this too easy for you. You thrive under pressure, Albus. It’s one of the many things I love about you. So, with that in mind, you try to stop that train, it goes up. Try to warn the train, it goes up. Try to get the kiddies off the train and Thomas the tank engine goes into orbit, am I clear?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good. I don’t think anyone from the Ministry should help you with this Albus, since they all think you’re crazy. I’m sure you and Scorp can handle it. Off you pop,” she teased.

 

“No.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“I said no.”

 

She sighed. There was a pause for a moment when she didn’t speak. Harry and Hermione looked like they were ready to grab Albus and shake him to death.

 

“Alright…I sweeten the pot. Onboard you’ll find a little clue to my true identity. You are still interested in that, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes,” Albus admitted. That question had dominated his mind for the last several months.

 

“Well, if the train explodes, so does the clue.”

 

“Why are you doing this?” Albus asked.

 

“Albus…you now have forty minutes,” she said and then the line went dead.

 

Before anyone could speak or move, Albus plunged into his mind vault, calling up the memories of every time he had ridden the Hogwarts Express. He visualized a clock that started at eleven am at platform nine and three quarters. In his mind, the train took off, moving a hundred times faster then it did in life. The clock moved with it.

 

11:04 – Market Estate

11:10 – Upper Hollow

11:16 – Finchley

11:20 – Whetsone

 

It was five miles north of them already!

 

He jumped out of the mind vault and back into reality.

 

“How do we get onboard?!” Scorpius asked franticly.

 

“Disapparate!” Calvis suggested.

 

“Onto a moving train, are you high?!” Scorpius snapped. “We’ll end up inside a seat or a wall or worse, one of the passengers!”

 

“Portkeys are only for fixed positions,” Hermione said desperately.

 

“Brooms!” Harry stated.

 

“Me, on a broom?” Albus laughed without humour. “I’d be dead for I passed Tower Bridge!”

 

“Well, then how?!” Scorpius yelled.

 

“Stick out your thumb.”

-

“Welcome to the day bus, the most convenient means of travel for witches and wizards in Lon – Harry? Ello mate, ain’t sin you in ages – Whoa!” Stan Shunpike had been in the middle of his monologue when Harry had suddenly yanked him off the triple decker purple bus that had stopped just outside of visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

 

Harry, Albus and Scorpius jumped onboard and rushed to the driver’s seat. There, Ernie, looking frail and ancient but strangely alert sat.

 

“Auror department, we are commandeering this bus, everyone off, now!” Harry yelled before turning to Ernie. “Whatever my son tells you to do, you do it! I mean it Ernie!”

 

A few startled passengers shuffled off the bus quickly. Unfortunately, Stan pushed his way back on.

 

“Old’ on! This bus doesn’t go anywhere without me!” he declared.

 

“Fine, stay,” Albus growled.

 

“Go, Albus! Do whatever you have to!” Harry begged before jumping off.

 

“Ernie, Whetstone now! Follow the train tracks!” Albus ordered.

 

Ernie nodded and put his foot down. The bus took off at an absurd speed, weaving in and out of traffic like an acme cartoon. Albus, Scorpius and Stan grabbed hold of the bars to steady themselves as the bus passed through the busy streets. Buildings and landmarks shot past in a blur.

 

“What’s in Whetstone that’s so important?!” Stan demanded while wobbling all over the place.

 

Albus check the phone. 11: 27

 

“Shit! It’ll be in Hadley by now. Head for Hadley!” he yelled to Ernie.

 

“What will be?!”

 

“The Hogwarts Express!” Scorpius growled.

 

“Err, the Hogwarts Express in sorta in motion right now!” Stan reminded them.

 

“Really, I had no idea!” Albus scathed sarcastically.

 

“Once, we catch up with it, how do we board it?” Scorpius asked.

 

“Board it?!” Stan gulped.

 

“The top floor of this bus in nineteen feet high. The roof of the Express is twelve feet. As long as we’re right along side it, we’ll have the elevation to jump on,” Albus explained quickly.

 

“Jump on?”

 

“Why not? We’ve jumped off it before,” Albus said.

 

“Not one of our finer moments!” Scorpius hissed.

 

The bus veered right suddenly to dodge an eighteen-wheeler. When it passed, they were on the motorway, gaining speed and not weaving quite as violently. The shops and businesses were getting smaller as they pulled away from central London and into the outer boroughs. Unfortunately, the traffic was becoming heavier. Not more condensed, but rather larger in general. Out here was where the heavy lorry’s and construction vehicles moved around to avoid the narrow streets and busy areas of the city.

 

Ahead of them, two large dump trucks were moving forward, side-by-side and a slow pace. Ernie didn’t slow down. He straight towards the back of one of the trucks and a second before impacting with it, he pulled a lever next to him which caused the wheels to suddenly grow stilts. The bus jumped about twenty feet into the air before landing back on the road right in front of the dump trucks.

 

Albus checked the phone again. 11:31

 

The city was beginning to die away around them and they were entering more rural areas. Instead of concrete and glass, there were trees and fields blurring into the slipstream.

 

“Err, red light!” Scorpius yelled.

 

He, Albus and Stan looked forward to see that cars had slowed or stopped in front of a cross-section. Traffic was now flowing from left to right and there was a lot of it. Ernie wasn’t slowing down again.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Scorpius cried as they headed for a direct collision with about a dozen cars.

 

Ernie suddenly yanked the wheel left and pulled the hand break. The triple decker span around as if they had just driven onto a frozen lake. Amazingly, he had timed it just right. The spinning meant the cars on each side passed them by with only a fraction of space but never actually hit them.

 

Once through, Ernie jerked the wheel again, steading the bus and causing it to travel forwards again.

 

 A few miles up he pulled off the road causing a few startled muggles to look curiously at the pair of invisible tire tracks that had just torn through the grass. Ernie sent the Day Bus shooting straight through a wooden fence, smashing it to pieces, before darting alone a gravel embankment. They were right next to the train tracks and up ahead, bellowing white steam was the Hogwarts Express.

 

It was carrying on towards its destination with absolutely no knowledge of what was happening.

 

“Ernie, get right along side it and hold it steady,” Albus yelled before he and Scorp started climbing the spiral staircase up to the third level of the bus.

 

Once up there, Scorpius pulled his wand and blasted the windows in front of them. Instead of exploding, they just sort of melted away like transparent butter. The wind came gushing in along with the incredibly loud noise of the trains pistons.

 

The bus caught up to the back of the Express and began pulling along side it. They passed the last two carriages and continued moving towards the locomotive. In the windows of the train, shocked and excited students pressed their faces to the windows while pointing and shouting.

 

 They probably thought it was some kind of trick.

 

“Use a sticking charm! Jump when I say,” Albus yelled to Scorpius who nodded.

 

“You’re a bloody lunatic, Potter!” Stan yelled from below.

 

“You’d be surprised how often I hear that,” he yelled back. “JUMP!”

 

He and Scorpius dived out of the window and through the air. They impacted with the trains roof with a hard thump but instead of bouncing or rolling off the side, they remained glued on the spot. Scorp, still clutching his wand for dear life, gave it a little flick and the sticking charm was lifted.

 

He and Albus began to slowly move down the roof of the carriage until they got to the intersection. They jumped down, landing just above the huge metal clamps that locked the carts together. Albus opened the sliding door slipped inside with Scorp.

 

They were immediately met by the shocked stares of all the children inside. Most of them looked about twelve or thirteen.

 

“That was wicked!” one of the blurted.

 

“Thank you,” Scorpius breathed as Albus pulled out the phone.

 

11:36 – In twenty-six minutes, all these children would be dead unless they could save them.

 

“Albus?!”

 

They both saw his sister, Lily and his cousin Hugo pushing their way through the students looking completely befuddled. Well, Lily did, Hugo looked like he wanted their autographs.

 

“I didn’t really expect you to come to the station this morning, because, you know, I haven’t even seen you in three weeks but this is ridiculous!” she snapped. “You jump off the train, you jump on the train, can’t you just board like a normal person?!”

 

“Lily!” Albus barked, ignoring her rant. “I need you to get all the prefects and the head boy and girl here now.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Nemesis has targeted this train!” he hissed into her ear.

 

Her face went white with terror. Lily was one of the few people that didn’t seem to believe him about Alex being possessed but seemed to have no doubt that the thing that attacked Hogwarts would one day return. Today was that day.

 

“Hugo, lets go, now!” Lily said, grabbing him by the arm and tanking him away.

 

Albus and Scorpius began scanning the carriage but only found stunned looking students around.

 

“This is crazy! We don’t even know what we’re looking for!” Scorpius growled under his breath.

 

“A bomb,” Albus mouthed.

 

“You sure?”

 

“The way she was talking made it sound like something is going to go boom,” he sighed.

 

“We can’t evacuate the kids, we can’t stop the train…disarming it is the only chance we’ve got right?” Scorp ventured.

 

“Yeah…but I guarantee that she’ll have made that next to impossible.”

 

“Why?”

 

“If it was easy, it wouldn’t be any fun for her,” he scathed.

 

“Twenty-one minutes left,” Scorpius said, checking his watch.

 

Twenty-one minutes… A thought occurred that made Albus jump back into his mind vault. He performed the same study that he did before, using his own memories to track the journey and see where the train would be at a specific time. He fast-forwarded to noon.

The bridge!

 

There was a bridge in Bookmans Park that carried the train over a gorge. A ninety-foot deep gorge! And the train would be right over it at exactly twelve o’clock.

 

“She’s gonna derail the train while it’s going over the Bookmans bridge! No one will survive.”

 

“Merlin…” Scorpius breathed.

 

Lily and Hugo returned a few moments later with a group of prefects and the head boy and girl. This year it was a Hufflepuff boy and a Ravenclaw girl. Seeing the eagle emblem on her robes made Albus truly thankful that Dominique and Melissa weren’t onboard. Like Rose and Scorpius, they had taken their NEWT exams at the ministry while the school had been closed for reconstruction.

They shuffled away for the other passengers so they wouldn’t be overheard.

 

“Did you seriously jump onboard from the Day Bus?!” the Hufflepuff head asked.

 

“Yes. Listen and stay calm…there is a bomb onboard the train,” Albus said in a very low tone.

 

Their reactions were exactly as he’d expected. Utter shock and or disbelief.

 

“We need to find it,” he continued, “and we now have…nineteen minutes to do it.”

 

“We have to –“ Ravenclaw head started but Albus interrupted, knowing what she was going to say.

 

“The train is being watched! If we try to stop it of get the students off, the bomb goes off early,” he said quickly. “Has anybody seen anything unusual? Something out of place that wasn’t there the last time you used the train?”

 

They shook their heads.

 

“A trunk,” Hugo blurted.

 

“What?”

 

“It’s gotta be inside one of the trunks!” he stated.

 

“The last two carriages hold all the baggage,” The Hufflepuff boy said.

 

They moved to the back of the train as fast as they could, dodging or pushing their way through the other students. To their credit, the prefects didn’t give anything away but they were all looking pretty terrified.

 

They crossed the connecters of the carriages and ended up at the very back of the train.

 

“Ahh, shit, there’s hundreds of em’,” Scorpius moaned.

 

And there were. The trunks had been jammed into every possible space except for the main walkway in the centre. Some of them were even stuck to the ceiling.

 

“Time?”

 

“Thirteen minutes,” Scorp answered.

 

If they had fifty people it would still take them an hour to search all of the trunks and some of them where locked with pretty powerful enchantments. The sixth and seventh years usually practiced locking charms on their own trunks after they learned them in class.

It was one of those rare times that muggle security like X-ray machines would have come in handy.

 

“Albus,” Lily spoke up, confusion in her voice. “Why is your trunk onboard?”

 

They all turned to see a dark brown case with the initials A.S.P. on the front of it. That was indeed his school trunk.

“How the hell did she get your trunk?!” Scorpius gasped.

 

“I don’t know, I haven’t been home in three weeks!”

 

He approached it slowly, checking the locks and hinges for anything out of the ordinary. He felt around the sides for any kind of unusual lump and listen closely for some kind of noise coming from it, but there was nothing. He took a deep breath and then very slowly, unlocked the case.

 

The prefects cringed and clamped their eyes shut as he opened the case.

 

Strange, multicoloured lights immediately crept out. He opened the trunk wide and there was a collective gasp.

 

The case was empty except for a large, white, spiked object floating in the middle of it. The lights were coming for some kind of spiral wave that as circling the objects like bees flying around a hive.

 

“That’s an Erumpent horn!” Lily squeaked.

 

Just like the one that had destroyed Xeno Lovegoods house when Harry, Ron and Hermione had been there while on the run from Voldemort. Nemesis loved to take little jabs at his father’s legend.

 

“What are those lights?” Hugo asked.

 

“I have no idea, I’ve never seen those before,” Scorpius said.

 

“Can you disarm it?” Lily asked her brother.

 

“I shouldn’t even touch it,” Albus sighed. “I guarantee this thing is booby-trapped.”

 

“Can we get the trunk off the train?” Scorp suggested.

 

That would be too easy. But it was worth a try so Albus reached out and tried to push the case a little to the left. It didn’t move.

The trunk was stuck in place.

 

“Bugger!” Hugo huffed.

 

“Okay, so what do we do?” one of the prefects asked.

 

Albus thought for a second and an idea quickly formed in his mind. It was crazy, but it was also the only chance they had.

“Scorp, go with them. You’re gonna move all the students into the front two carriages. Jam them in there like cattle if you have to! Then I want you to put as many protective charms around them as possible. Shields, extra plating, fill them with jelly, I don’t care. Anything you can think off! I’m gonna stay here –“

 

“What? You know how to stop it?”

 

“I’m not gonna stop it. I’m gonna set it off.”

 

“What?!” several voices shrieked.

 

“At twelve o’clock this train is over the Bookman bridge but before that it’s level ground on both sides. If I derail it before it hits the bridge, we might have a chance. You need to put sticking charms on the connectors as you move forward. I’ve got to flip it!”

 

“Flip it?!”

 

“When the last carriage blows, the shockwave will travel though the connectors until it hits the locomotive at which point, the entire train will jump the tracks and flip,” he said frantically.

 

“Flip…we’re gonna flip the train…” Scorpius repeated, sounding slightly dazed.

 

“If it slams into the ground on its side, it’ll slow down a lot faster!” he said. “I’ll set if off ninety seconds before it hits the bridge, that gives you…seven minutes to get the kids into the forward carriages and put up the spells. Go, now!”

 

“How you gonna set it off?” Scorp asked as he started moving towards the door.

 

“Erumpent horns a basically like nitro-glycerine. If it gets too hot, it’ll explode so do me a favour and set fire to a curtain on your way out,” Albus said.

 

As the group moved out of the baggage carts, Scorpius waved his wand at one of the curtains causing it to ignite. Albus yanked it off the wall and held it at arm’s length by the end that wasn’t on fire. As they moved up though the train, Albus heard them all yelling at the students to get up and move to the front of the train.

 

He could only hope seven minutes would be enough time.

 

He pulled out the phone and checked the time again. This must have been what Einstein meant when he postulated relativity. In one moment, the time seemed to be moving twice as fast and in a another, the seconds seemed to stretch for longer and longer. Of course, time wasn’t actually changing. It was just his perception of it.

 

He had experienced real time-travel before and despite the chaos that he’d caused by doing it, in that moment he actually found himself longing for a time-turning.

 

The burning curtain was becoming harder to hold. The fire was slowly engulfing the whole thing and was starting to sting his skin.

Albus looked forward through the windows. He couldn’t see any students in the first few carriages after the baggage cart. Scorpius and the others had managed to evacuate that part of the train at least.

 

He checked his phone again. 11:57

 

Albus didn’t know the exact amount of time an Erumpent horn needed under intense heat to become unstable so he took an educated guess and said ten seconds. That would give him ten seconds to put as much distance between himself and that carriage as possible.

11:58

 

He threw the burning curtain underneath the horn and took off as fast as he could. He shot through the carriages, running past the empty compartments and open toilets. He reached the third carriage away from the baggage cart as slammed straight into the sweets car that the trolley witch rolled around with.

 

The bitter irony.

 

The trolley moved but not much and Albus ended up tumbling straight over it and hitting the floor face first. His head swam for a second before the adrenaline brought him back to his senses. He managed to heave himself up and start running again just as an explosion rocked the entire train.

 

Screeching metal and groaning steel filled the air. A second later, Albus slammed into the wall of the carriage before hitting the roof.

The Hogwarts Express had jumped the tracks and barrel rolls in mid-air!

 

He flew into the opposite wall, smashing the side of his head against the racking and the world went black.

 

“Albus!”

 

Scorpius voice was distance and frantic. Like he was shouting from far away. Blurred lights began to fill Albus’s eyes and Scorpius voice got closer and stronger.

 

His eyes eventually flickered open.

 

Albus was lying on his back in the dirt, the destroyed Hogwarts Express lying just a few feet away. Scorp had obviously dragged his unconscious body out of the wreckage and was now standing over him, trying to wake him up. He looked around as his eyes came back into focus, trying to get his bearings.

 

The train was lying on its side, having carved huge gashes through the dirt as it skidded to a halt. At the front, the scarlet locomotive looked like a dying soldier. It was mangled and covered in dirt, bellowing smoke from its chimney stack. A few sparks were shooting from its wheels and Albus could see that it had managed to stop about six feet from the drop-off where the gorge began.

Loud pops were sounding all over the place as ministry officials disapparated in to provide aid. They were helping other students pull themselves from the wreckage of the forward carriages. All of whom seemed to be covered in some kind of strange rubbery substance.

 

“Are you alright?!” Scorpius demanded.

 

Albus clutched the side of his head where the pain was starting to eek in from. It felt wet to the touch and when he looked at his hand, it was covered in blood.

 

“Is that bubble-gum?” Albus managed to ask.

 

“Oh…yeah…it just kind of popped into my head so I filled all the carriages with it,” he said.

 

“Good thinking,” Albus groaned and sat up.

 

He saw his father pull Lily and Hugo out of the wreckage and hug them as hard as he could. Hermione and Ron weren’t far behind. Thankfully they looked shaken and busted up, but okay.

 

They saw Albus and immediately began rushing over to him. Harry hit him almost as hard as the train had, hugging him for dear life.

 

“Still think I need therapy?” Albus mumbled.

 

Harry couldn’t help but choke out a laugh. “More than ever!”

 

He was about to speak again but something grabbed his and Albus’s attention. A rapid rattling sound was coming from the carriage in front of them. Harry and Scorp raised their wands but Albus just watched as they saw the twisted metal of the carriage begin to change.

On the side of the carriage, where the Hogwarts emblem was painted, something was happening. The paint was morphing and changing. The four animals that represented the houses of Hogwarts were moulding into one large black shape. The rattling stopped and what was left was a picture of a raven.

 

That was the clue Nemesis had promised.

 

A Raven.



Chapter 4: Guardian Angels
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“We’ve got a boat load of cuts, bruises and broken bones, several students on the Quidditch teams are demanding compensation for their brooms and a second year somehow managed to swallow a chocolate frog card while it was still in the box, but that’s it,” Teddy Lupin reported as he approached Harry, Hermione, Ron, Albus and Scorpius. “Most of them can be treated in the Hogwarts hospital wing so we’re sending them on there but a few will have to go to St. Mungo’s. How are you doing, Albus?”

 

“My head hurts,” he groaned while examining the phone that Nemesis had sent him. It didn’t have a scratch on it. Albus on the other hand was bloodied and battered. A healer was using her wand to clean up some of his wounds and siphon blood and dirt from his clothes but he was still a mess.

 

Around them, hundreds of wizards and witches had surrounded the wreckage of the Hogwarts Express and were either sifting through it to see what could be salvaged or casting spells to hide it from the outside world.

 

“Now we know why she modified it,” Scorpius said.

 

“She knew you were going to crash the train?” Ron asked looking shocked.

 

“You need to start listening to what she says more closely,” Albus warned. “She said save the students, she didn’t say anything about the train. She just wanted to see if I could figure it out.”

 

He looked out, past the crashed train to see the Day Bus had parked not far away and Stan and Ernie were now being interviewed by Aurors.

 

“So, she’s completely insane then?” Teddy summed up.

 

“Insane? Yes. Angry? Yes. Frighteningly intelligent? Yes.”

 

“If she hates the wizarding world so much, why even bother giving you a chance to save the students?” Hermione asked.

 

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s still planning to wipe us all out anyway. But, she finds all this…amusing. And if something amuses her, she’ll keep it around for a while before she kills it. Like a cat playing with a mouse that it’s already caught,” he said gravely.

 

“And you’re certain that Nemesis is currently possessing Alex?” Harry asked.

 

“How many times do I have to answer that?!”

 

“It’s just that…possession is not easy. Taking over someone’s mind and body is one of the hardest things a wizard can attempt, that’s why they came up with spells like the Imperius Curse instead. And if taking control wasn’t difficult enough, maintaining control for a long period of time is next to impossible. And you’re saying she’s been possessed for seven months.”

 

“You’re doing it again,” Albus sighed.

 

“Doing what?”

 

“Using Voldemort as your point of refence. A normal wizard finds it difficult to possess someone. Voldemort found it impossible to possess you. Etc. etc. You aren’t dealing with Voldemort! Nemesis is more…more powerful, more intelligent and able to do things we’ve never even imagined!”

 

“Albus, I’m –“

 

Harry was cut off as the phone is Albus’ hand suddenly started to ring. He clicked it to speaker.

 

“Your record with public transportation isn’t looking to good is it, Albus?” Nemesis’ amused voice said. “You jump off the train, you jump on the train, you hijack a bus…I don’t think you should ever be allowed on a submarine,” she laughed.

 

“I wasn’t planning to,” Albus growled. His head had started to hurt a lot more since hearing her voice.

 

“I’m a little surprised. I honestly thought you would call my bluff,” she mused.

 

All eyes turned to Albus. They all looked confused but also worried.

 

“What do you mean, bluff?” Harry asked.

 

“Isn’t it obvious? Albus knew that all he had to do to save those kiddies was the stand right next to that bomb and I never would have let it go off. But, then, he also knew that if he did that, he wouldn’t have gotten the clue…”

 

Harry, Ron and Hermione were utterly shocked and appalled. His father actually looked like he was ready to punch him but Albus just ignored him.

 

“A raven,” he said.

 

“My favourite avian.”

 

“I’m guessing there are more to come?”

 

“Obviously. This was just a warm up. But, I’ll let you get some rest before our next dance, Albus. You look a little dinged up,” she ended the call, leaving all of them to look around in horror.

 

She was watching them.

 

A few seconds later it became obvious that nothing was going to leap out at them so their attention turned back to Albus.

 

“Tell me you did not endanger the lives of everyone on that train just to get a damn clue?!” Harry roared.

 

“I knew I could save them,” Albus responded quietly.

 

“YOU DERAILED A TRAIN!”

 

“I didn’t put the bomb on board it!”

 

“You really have lost your mind!” Ron gasped. “What if someone had been killed?!”

 

“She’s planning to wipe out the wizarding world! Killing everyone is kind of the point!” Albus yelled.

 

“You have crossed a line, Albus!” Hermione said, joining in on the assault.

 

“And you lot need to pull your heads out of your asses! All that has happened so far is that we have survived her! Mainly because she’s let us! We never beat her! We never won anything! We didn’t undo her evil plans to steal a philosopher’s stone or basilisk to kill everyone! Everything that has happened, is because she wanted it to happen! You think that because the last few months have been quiet that the threat isn’t that bad. You’re wrong! None of you can see what is coming, but I can! And I’m sorry, but a moral compass isn’t going to last ten seconds against her! The only way to beat her is to understand her and the only way to do that is to find out who she really is!” Albus was out of breath and red faced by the time he finished his rant. “Sorry I wrecked your train!” he added before storming off.

 

Harry, Ron and Hermione were all too stunned to say anything but Scorpius quickly started moving to catch Albus up.

“I’ll disapparate us back to London,” he offered.

 

“No, I’ll get a cab. I need to think,” he said before trudging off on his own.

 

Albus had to walk about half a mile outside of the protective spells before he reached a road and even then, it was a good half-hour before a cab went past. Unfortunately, it was already in use and just ignored his attempts to flag it down.

 

A raven. What was the significance?

 

That question rattled around in his head over and over again but didn’t lead him to any answers. He went back through all his previous encounters with Nemesis at Hogwarts and a raven had never appeared of even been mentioned.

 

Finally, after at least an hour, a black cab slowed and stopped in front of him after he signalled it. He opened the door and jumped in the back.

 

“Where you goin’ mate?” the driver asked.

 

“Can you get me to Charring Cross?”

 

“Yeah, no worries,” the driver said happily.

 

It had taken less the forty minutes for them to get from the centre of London to the distant outskirts on the Day Bus, but travelling by muggle means was a lot slower. Traffic, roadworks and the fact that there was an LGBTQ parade going on in London made it a very sluggish trip back.

 

Raven…Ravenclaw? No. Common misconception. Rowena Ravenclaw’s symbol was an Eagle. Aquila chrysaetos; the Golden Eagle to be exact. Raven…Raven, Quaff the Raven; Edger Allen Poe…doubtful…

 

Albus’ head was hurting more than ever after a while but it had nothing to do with his wound.

 

He rubbed his eyes and glanced up only to see something that made him even more confused.

 

“Oi, mate,” he called to the driver. “You’re on the wrong side of the river.”

 

The driver didn’t say anything and responded instead by engaging the safety locks on all the doors.

 

“What are doing?!” Albus demanded while trying on the handles but it wouldn’t budge.

 

“Calm down, Albus. We just want to talk to you,” the driver said.

 

His stomach plummeted.

 

“Whose ‘we’?”

 

“You’re about to find out,” the driver said.

 

The cab continued driving into London but didn’t go anywhere near Charring Cross. Instead it headed for the Isle of Dogs. Eventually they went down a ramp that led to an underground loading area for the building above. The cab stopped in front of a large shutter and the driver got out. A second later the back door was opened for Albus, but not by the driver.

 

Beckoning him out of the car was a young woman, maybe twenty-five years old with chocolate brown hair and bright amber eyes. She was very pretty but had a element of danger to her.

 

“Mr. Potter,” she said gesturing for him to step out.

 

Standing just behind her were two large men, both armed with machine guns. They looked like private security.

 

Albus glanced around quickly. Twenty-six feet back to the ramp, ten feet to the nearest cover. If he was going to make a move to get out of there, it had to be now. As soon as he was in front of them, he grabbed one of the machine guns and shoved it upwards into the fast of the man holding it, whist kicking the second man in the leg to knock him off balance. He was just about to dive for the cover when the woman grabbed hold of his arm.

 

She spun him around so fast that he practically got whiplash and locked her arm around his neck. Something was very wrong here. This woman was way stronger than she should be. He pushed against her but trying to break free from her arm was like trying to move a tree trunk.

 

“We’re not you enemy!” she hissed into his ear.

 

Realizing that he couldn’t get away from her, he stopped struggling. The man he’d hit in the face spat some blood on the floor and glared at him while the guy next to him seemed to find the whole thing funny.

 

Before he could think of anything else to do, a smell crept up his nose. The woman that had hold of him had a very distinctive scent. One he’d smelt before. It went toward explaining how she was so strong but also raised a lot of questions.

 

“Who are you people?!” Albus growled.

 

The loading bay opened up to reveal several other men, dressed and armed the same as the two he’d attacked, all standing behind a man in his forties.

 

“We’re your guardian angels, Mr. Potter,” he said. He was wearing a very snazzy suit and gave off an unmistakeable presence that said; ‘I’m the boss.’ “And given recent events, I’d say you could do with some.”

 

Albus said nothing but continued to scan the scene. They knew all about him. Not just his name, but also that he didn’t have a wand. Otherwise they would have searched him. If they knew who he was and what had just transpired on the Hogwarts Express, then they knew about the wizarding world and yet they were armed with muggle weapons…squibs. All of them were squibs, except the woman.

 

“It’s alright, Eve, I don’t think Mr. Potter is going to try another daring escape. Not now that his curiosity is starting to get the better of him,” the man smiled.

 

The woman, Eve, released her hold on him and took a step back.

 

“My names Bloggs, Joe Bloggs,” the man said.

 

Albus snorted. “Yeah, sure it is.”

 

“Something funny?”

 

“When the Americans can’t identify a body, they call it John or Jane Doe. About a hundred years ago, police in London used to do the same except they called them Joe Bloggs. So…you don’t exist,” Albus said quickly.

 

Bloggs chuckled to himself. “You know, you’re the first wizard to ever catch on to that.”

 

“I’m not your average wizard.”

 

“Neither am I.”

 

“You’re a squib…so are they,” he nodded to the men behind him. “And them,” he pointed to the two men he’d attacked. “But, she’s not. She’s a werewolf.”

 

Eve looked mildly impressed. Bloggs just grinned.

 

“Very astute. Follow me,” he said.

 

Albus obliged. Now he really did want to know what was going on. They walked though the loading bay and into a large, mostly empty room. The only things in there were a table, a laptop and tv screen on the wall.

 

“I’m curious, how did you know Eve was a werewolf?” Bloggs asked.

 

“I can smell it.”

 

That made Eve raise her eyebrows and look a little bit offended.

 

“You can smell it? And what exactly does Lycanthropy smell like?”

 

“Strawberry’s…to start with. Then there’s a warm acidic taste behind it. A romantic sort of poison,” he said.

 

“Interesting,” Bloggs nodded.

 

“Teddy Lupin is half werewolf and my uncle was partially contaminated by Fenrir Greyback, I’ve been around Lycanthropy my whole life, I know what it smells like,” Albus explained.

 

“I remember Fenrir Greyback,” Bloggs said.

 

“You met him?”

 

“I killed him,” he smiled.

 

Okay, now he was really curious.

 

“Werewolves only gain increased strength when they’re turned. How is she so strong now?” Albus asked.

 

“Eve very generously volunteered to be a test subject for some of our experimental treatments. We’re trying to cure her of her condition…there have been a few side-effects,” he said.

 

 “You must be well funded,” Albus said carefully.

 

Bloggs gave him a small smile. He hadn’t missed the fact that Albus was trying to extract information from him.

 

“You’ve been to the ministry of magic many times. You must have seen the wall of names, commemorating all the lives lost during the second wizarding war against Voldemort?”

 

“I have.”

 

“How many of those names belong to muggles?” Bloggs asked.

 

“None.”

 

“None…which is strange considering that more muggles died during that war than wizards did. The British government is no stranger to sweeping the truth under the carpet but it’s also their job to protect the country and the people within. The wizarding world will always prioritise their own over the lives of a few hapless muggles and when I explained that to high-ups, they agreed that something needs to be done. So, I came up with a proposal,” he said with an air of pride. “Track down, recruit and train all the people that have been wronged by the wizarding world. Squibs, exiled just because they were born different, werewolves cast out because of their affliction…people with intimate knowledge of the wizarding world but with absolutely no loyalty to it. They are now the muggles first line of defence against magical threats.”

 

“And…what do you want from me?” Albus asked.

 

“I want to help you kill Nemesis.”



Chapter 5: All the dots
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For the last twenty minutes, Albus had been sat in front of yet another Squib, this one in a blue shirt and tie. He had been wired up to a bunch of machines which looked like a mix between a polygraph and an intensive care monitoring station.

 

The Squib, who had identified himself as Dave McKenna had been asking random questions and giving him still photos to look at. None of the photos were of anything relevant. It was a simple memory exercise.

 

They knew about his Mind Vault and now they were testing him to see if it was everything they’d heard. Albus suspected that the whole thing was doubling as a psychiatric evaluation as well.

 

“You gonna start showing me Rorschachs next?”

 

“Not exactly,” McKenna handed him a picture that was just box of random numbers.

 

Albus glanced at it. They wanted to see if he could code break.

 

“This is a waste of time!” Albus growled.

 

“Bloggs wants to know what you can do,” McKenna shrugged. “Besides, we’re still checking the phone she gave you to make sure that it isn’t being tracked.”

 

“It’s not.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Because she would consider that cheating. And she doesn’t like cheaters. It’s no fun if I don’t at least have a chance to surprise her,” he explained.

 

“You’ll forgive us for being cautious.”

 

McKenna…definitely not a wizarding name and Bloggs was obviously fake. From what Albus understood about squibs that left or were forced out of the wizarding world, the main cause was shame. Predominate families, mostly purebloods, would be horrified to learn that one of their children was a squib. He had heard rumours that some of the larger, more famous families like the Blacks, Avery, Nott and LeStrange may have had secret members that were either covered up or not acknowledged because they were born without magical abilities.

 

If that were the case, he certainly couldn’t blame them for picking new names for themselves as another way of getting some distance from their wizarding heritage.

 

Albus sighed and turned back to the numbers. “Twelve, seventy-eight. What is that, a debit card number?”

 

McKenna looked mildly impressed.

 

“No. That’s the pin code to the phone of the chancellor of the exchequer. He keeps trying to cut our budget so we like to send him annoying memes and change his ringtones sometimes,” he said casually.

 

The door opened and Bloggs was stood there. He nodded for Albus to follow him. Apparently, he had passed whatever test this was.

McKenna unplugged him so Albus could walk over to Bloggs. He handed him back the phone.

 

“You’re right, it’s clean.”

 

“She had other ways of spying, she doesn’t need to track my phone.”

 

“You’re more right that you know,” Bloggs said.

 

He led him down a corridor to another room. This one was as plain and blank as the other except for the back wall which had been turned into a montage of evidence, not unlike the ones he’d seen in the Auror office. Except this one was dedicated to Nemesis.

Times, dates, locations, there were even little arrows directing one piece of information to another. They had been very hard at work.

“She has been a busy little bee and the fact that she’s pulling this off right under the noses of magical governments around the world is very impressive,” Bloggs said.

 

“Pulling off what?”

 

Bloggs walked over to the evidence wall. “The ministry has found her four times in the last seven months. We’ve found her nine times. The most recent one that they missed is here,” he pointed to a picture of a luxurious hotel. Alex/Nemesis was there, looking incredible in a bikini but she wasn’t alone. An older man was walking alongside her. “The Seychelles, we got this off a taxi dash cam.”

 

“Wait, I know that guy!”

 

“You should. Berrigan Tunney, head of the department of magical transportation and for the last few years, he’s been using illegal port-keys to pop in and out of the country so that he could keep his affair a secret. He and his mistress dash off to a country with little or no magical presence for a few hours and shoot back. Oh, this is his mistress by the way,” he plucked a picture of a woman’s body, face down on the roof of a crushed car.

 

Blood and glass everywhere. It was a gruesome sight.

 

“Strange that he doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned that his secret lover just took a swan dive of his balcony, two minutes before he walked out the front with Nemesis,” Bloggs said.

 

“She’s controlling him somehow,” Albus nodded.

 

“Yeah, but look at him. No dreamy expression, no loss of motor functions, that’s not the Imperius curse at work, that’s something else.”

 

“She can do things that the wizarding world has never seen before, I bet this is one of them,” Albus said.

 

“I agree. Mr. Tunney showed up to work the next day as if nothing had happened and he hasn’t shown any signs of unusual behaviour since.”

 

“A sleeper agent,” Albus gasped. “He probably doesn’t even know that he’s being controlled.”

 

“Looks like. From there, connecting the dots becomes easy. We back-traced her movements over the last seven months and found a pattern emerging that is more than just a little alarming.”

 

Bloggs tapped a picture of Alex/Nemesis standing in an aired desert with a large group of tourists around her.

 

“Her little visit to the Grand Canyon just so happens to coincide with Mr. Franklyn Dallas’ birthday party that was happening in Flagstaff. Mr. Dallas, by the way, is the vice-president of MACUSA. It was a private affair, not something that was covered by the prophet, but he had guests from Ilvermorny, the Salem Witches Institute, other governments and so on.”

 

He knew it was going to be bad, but he hadn’t imagined this. Albus couldn’t speak. It was taking everything he had just to wrap his mind around how expansive her plans were becoming.

 

“France, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Africa, every single place she has been, her visits have put her within five miles of a high-ranking member of a magical institution. And those are just the ones we know about. In other words, in the last seven months, she has managed to create a global network of sleeper agents and infiltrated every level of magical society there is and she is clearly just getting started,” Bloggs said gravely.

 

“My God…” Albus breathed.

 

“There are two possible bits of good news to come out of all this. One; she doesn’t know about us. If she did, I imagine she would have killed us all by now and two; you.”

 

Albus looked at him slightly confused.

 

“The phone, the train, all her little taunts. She’s clearly worried that you are going to figure out what she’s up to so she’s using this little game of yours to keep you occupied and distracted.”

 

“Yeah, I suspected as much, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore it. Peoples will die if I do,” Albus admitted.

 

“Albus, I think we’ve reached the point where casualties are inevitable. She’s already too dug in for us to stop her, now it’s about damage control.”

 

“I know how to stop her! Pull her out of Alex and she goes back to the veil!”

 

“Except, you don’t know how to do that!”

 

“I will if I can figure out who she really is!”

 

“Which means you have to play her little game, I know,” Bloggs said reluctantly.

 

Albus started pacing. He rubbed his hands over his face and took another look at the evidence board.

 

“I’m guessing that your watching the sleepers we know about?”

 

“Twenty-four, seven.”

 

“Why now?” he asked scanning the evidence. “Seven months under the radar and suddenly she shows back up now with a bang…I think you’re right. I think it is a distraction but it’s also something else. Nemesis is the queen of multi-tasking, everything she does has more than one purpose…What if she had to show up now?”

 

“I don’t follow,” Blogged said.

 

“What if, after seven months, she’s reached a point where her plans can no longer be carried out with subtlety. What if there is something she needs and she can’t get it with stealth? She turns to misdirection instead! Make a big noise over here so no one notices the smaller noise over there…but she can’t just do it at once…one random horrible event would be scrutinized, but if it’s just the next event in a series of them…”

 

“People come to expect it. The shock value wares off. But it’s not about big and bold, it’s about you. She wants all eyes on you when she throws her little tests at you to see if you can pass them. Everyone in the ministry was glued to what was happening with the train,” Bloggs said.

 

“How do you know that?”

 

Bloggs gave him a mischievous little smile. “This wouldn’t be much of a clandestine organization if I didn’t have people in the right places, would it?”

 

“You have an informant inside the ministry,” Albus realized.

 

“Whom shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons.”

 

“What if Nemesis gets to your informant?”

 

“She won’t. I’ve taken precautions,” he said ominously. Albus suspected that he wouldn’t like those precautions one bit but decided not to press the matter. Bloggs seemed very protective over his sources so he definitely wasn’t going to share them with him.

He was right about what she was doing. Nemesis would make sure everyone was watching him when she called to give him his next challenge. How could they not? He was Harry Potters son after all and they all still gazed adoringly at the great hero from time to time. So, watching his wayward son bolt out of the ministry and –

 

“The veil!” he suddenly blurted. “She’s gonna take the veil!”

 

“What?!”

 

“Think about it! First thing she does is pull me and everyone else away from the ministry with the train! That wasn’t a coincidence, that was a test! She wanted to see how many people stayed behind at the ministry! I’m guessing Tunney didn’t leave?” he said, pulse racing at the revelation.

 

“Didn’t move a muscle,” Bloggs sighed.

 

“Bit odd considering he’s the head of magical transportation and I just derailed a magical train!” Albus growled. “He was watching, measuring how vulnerable the ministry was after they all left to help the kids. The veil is the doorway to her prison…there’s no way she was ever going to let us keep it. We don’t know how to use it but that doesn’t mean we won’t figure it out. So…seven months of staying away, building her network and acting like she has no interest in it whatsoever…after the mayhem at the ministry my dad had a whole team of Aurors guarding the death chamber, how many is it now?”

 

“Two…and they don’t guard it anymore, they patrol the lower levels.”

 

“Of course,” Albus groaned.

 

“But, why take it? Why not destroy it?”

 

“I don’t think she can. If she could, I think she would have done it the second she possessed Alex. And besides, whether she loves it or hates it, that thing has a very meaningful significance to her. I think she needs it. It represents everything that set her down this path. It’s a reminder of the betrayal she suffered. Most people would want to be away from something like that but not her…”

 

“I had a mate like that once. Back in my military days, his brother was killed by the Taliban. Took a bullet right to his left eye. My mate then went through all kinds of legal procedures to get that bullet once it was removed from his skull. He kept it, wore it around his neck all the time, he still does as far as I know,” Bloggs said. “Strange the things we become attached to sometimes.”

 

“She’s most definitely attached to the veil, in more ways than one. And the second she makes her move to take it or whatever else she’s planning, that’s when I’ll make mine. Until then, I’ve got to play her game. Get the clues, find out who she is,” Albus stated. “I’ve got to get back to the ministry, put a few of my own precautions into place.”

 

“My boys will see you back there. We’re wired into that phone now so the next time she calls you, we’ll be listening. Other than that, we have to be very careful on how we communicate,” he handed Albus a small card with a number written on it. “That’s the number of a laundromat in Croydon. Ring it, ask for Mr. Swan.”

 

“Understood.”

 

“Good luck,” he held out his hand for Albus to shake which he did.

 

The man that had been pretending to be the cab driver came and escorted him out just as Eve entered the room. She closed the door after Albus left, walked over to Bloggs and handed him a file.

 

“You didn’t tell him who she really is?” she asked.

 

“He needs to figure that out on his own,” Bloggs said.



Chapter 6: Game On
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“You’re joking…right?” Draco asked looking completely perplexed.

 

“Nope,” replied Albus before taking a bite of his toast.

 

Draco, Albus and Scorpius were sitting around the Malfoy kitchen table, tucking into breakfast while the wireless droned nonsense in the background. The phone that Nemesis had given him was sitting on the table next to his plate.

 

His meeting with Bloggs and the secret squib army had been pretty shocking to him too, at least at the time. Now, after a few hours of sleep he was actually feeling pretty good about it. One of the worst things about knowing that Nemesis would resurface eventually was also knowing that no one in the wizarding world believed him and was therefore ignorant of the threat she posed. But now he had secret allies out there. Men and women hiding behind the scenes who may just end up turning the tide in his favour.

 

They were like the Order of the Phoenix except he would never refer to them as that mainly since the Order seemed to take a trashing at just about every turn during the second war against Voldemort.

 

Bloggs hadn’t told him to keep their existence a secret, mainly because he didn’t have to. Albus was fully aware of what it would mean if anyone, especially Nemesis found out about them, but he was also aware that Bloggs probably knew he would confide in Scorpius and Draco and had unofficially allowed it.

 

Besides, Draco could make an amazing full English and he always felt indebted to him for that so sharing a few secrets about a covert national security agency made them even.

 

“Squib spies?!” Scorpius blurted in equal disbelief.

 

“Nobody calls them spies anymore. It’s…agent or operations officer or something that sounds less hammy,” Albus said conversely.

 

“Yeah, because that’s the important part of all this…that they sound cool,” Scorpius remarked sarcastically.

 

“It’s very important,” Albus said proudly.

 

“And they’ve been tracking her the entire time?” Draco asked.

 

“Yep, which automatically makes them vastly more capable than the ministry.”

 

“I never considered the ministry to be capable, even when there isn’t a homicidal immortal possessing your girlfriend,” Draco remarked.

 

“She’s not my girlfriend!”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, possessing the woman whose love you pine for day and night,” Draco corrected with a smile.

 

“I don’t…pine…” Albus pouted like a five-year-old before cutting into his bacon.

 

“Oh, please! You were practically drooling the from the first moment you saw her,” Scorpius joined in.

 

“Alright, fine! The woman I love is being held hostage by an immortal entity that wants to destroy the wizarding world! Thanks for rubbing it in!”

 

“Nobody is rubbing it in, Albus, but you can’t deny that it’s having an affect on you. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sleep walking. She’s trying to keep you off balance. And I doubt you would have derailed a damn train if you had your head on straight.” Draco said.

“She put the bomb on it! I just responded! If you’re all that hung up on a relic from the industrial revolution, I’m sure I could find you a nice dirigible! Or maybe a wind-up gramma phone? I’m sure the W.H.O. has a few vials of smallpox lying around if you’re feeling nostalgic?”

 

“I’ll pass, thanks. Truth be told, I was usually bored to tears onboard that train,” Draco admitted.

 

“There you go. Besides, now we know that the whole thing was just misdirection.”

 

“There’s a cheerful thought,” Scorpius remarked before finishing off his eggs.

 

“For obvious reasons, this stays between us. We don’t know who else she might be controlling.”

 

“Even the dar…Voldemort didn’t have the means to control someone the way these squibs are describing. I’ve never heard of anything like it,” Draco admitted. He still struggled with the name occasionally. Old habits die hard.

 

“I have, but it never actually worked.”

 

“What?” Scorpius asked.

 

“An American muggle program done by the CIA back during the Cold War called MK Ultra,” Albus explained, “It was touted as an advanced interrogation method but what they were really doing was trying to create sleeper agents. A form of mind control, subliminal messaging, stuff like that. Implanted commands inside the brain that only activate when a code word is given, otherwise, the poor sods just walk around believing that they are normal. One moment they are your cheerful next-door neighbour, the next they’ve picked up a rifle and assassinated the leader of a country. But it failed spectacularly, a whole bunch of test subjects died, and bunch of others went mad. They shut the whole thing down back in the seventies.”

 

“Mad sounds like an understatement,” Scorpius agreed.

 

“Yeah, one of them was called Ted Kaczynski and he went on to become the Unabomber,” Albus informed.

 

“Well, no one can say that the muggles aren’t creative,” Draco said grimly. “And a bit more well informed than I thought.”

 

“Well, the Prime-ministers have always known about us. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the muggles put something like this into play…but recruiting squibs, didn’t see that one coming,” Scorpius nodded.

 

“Makes perfect sense. I mean we’ve all met Filch. I expect there are a lot of very bitter squibs out there that we’ve never known about.”

“No mind control needed to ask them to take a hard line against the wizarding world,” Draco agreed.

 

“Well, Nemesis clearly needs mind control to get these poor saps to do whatever it is she’s planning.”

 

“You said she intends to take the veil but we know her ultimate goal is the destruction of the wizarding world. She’s made that clear. But we don’t even know how many people she’s already got under her control,” Draco sighed.

 

“Well, maybe you could have a sniff about. See if anyone has ever heard of anything like this, but very quietly. Nemesis cannot find out that we know what she’s doing behind the scenes.”

 

“Obviously.”

 

POP!

 

“Hello Gerty,” Albus said without needing to turn around.

 

The nervous house elf was indeed standing just behind him, shaking a little more than usual. No doubt being in the house of a former death-eater was taking a bit of a toll on her.

 

“Master D-Draco, the Ministress request –“

 

“Gerty, I’ve told you before,” Draco interrupted, “don’t call me master…call me emperor or Malfoy the magnificent…something like that.”

 

For a second the house elf looked like she was about to oblige him.

 

Scorpius chuckled. “He’s just teasing you, Gerty.”

 

“The ministress request permission to disapparate to your home,” the house elf said.

 

“Always so official. Your dad never asks permission,” Draco remarked.

 

“He’s an auror, he doesn’t have to.”

 

“Oh, that’s right, aurors are trained not to have manners. Yes, Gerty, the minister may enter my humble abode,” Draco said before taking a gulp of his coffee.

 

The house elf disappeared and a second later three more pops sounded the arrival of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry immediately began scrutinising his son, a bit concerned at the cuts and bruised on his face from the train crash. Albus took no notice.

 

“Draco,” Hermione nodded. “Albus, how are you?”

 

“Sated, this bacon is delicious.”

 

“Any word from Nemesis?” Harry asked.

 

“Don’t you mean Alex? Technically it is her vocal cords being used. But, no, nothing yet. Maybe she’s having breakfast too,” he shrugged.

 

“The auror office is on stand-by so –“

 

“That’s pointless. She’ll either forbid you from getting involved or her next challenge will be something you can’t help with,” Albus said. “Which is why going back to the ministry is equally pointless.”

 

“You don’t know that. We might be able to help,” Ron offered.

 

“You mean professional help?”

 

All three of them sighed in frustration.

 

“Albus, we were concerned about you, that’s all,” Harry tried.

 

“Really? Because according to the Prophet, I’m a delusional nut-case that’s making this whole thing up because I got dumped,” he scathed.

 

“I can’t tell the Prophet what to write, Albus,” Hermione said with exasperation.

 

For a man that usually acted very grown-up and had an exceptional intellect he sometimes had bouts of incredible immaturity.

“Why not? Ministers have been doing it for years. They’re practically FOX news,” Albus remarked.

 

None of the others seemed to know what he was talking about.

 

“You could always do what Harry did and give an interview to the Quibbler,” Ron suggested.

 

“There is an immortal evil genius on the loose that wants to commit wizarding genocide but you think Albus should focus on dealing with his PR problem with Looney Lovegood?” Draco asked incredulously.

 

“Don’t call her that!” Ron growled.

 

“Well, ‘inconsistently sane Lovegood’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it,” Draco snapped back.

 

“’Inconsistently sane Albus’ sounds okay. Maybe you could the Prophet to call me that from now on?”

 

“Albus, we are on your side. Don’t push us away just because your bitter,” Harry pleaded.

 

“There is nothing you can do to help and nothing she’ll do that is even remotely within your sphere of control, that much I can guarantee. These challenges are specifically designed for me and to a lesser extent, Scorpius since she knows he won’t stay out of it even if I try to stop him,” Albus said quickly.

 

“Yeah, bravo on your choice of friends again, Scorp. Well done,” Draco remarked dryly.

 

“You should be more worried about yourself,” Albus warned. “She won’t risk harming him because she knows I wouldn’t forgive her for it, you on the other hand, can make no such claim.”

 

“But you can forgive her for putting a bomb on a train?” Ron asked.

 

“Nobody died and maybe now Hogwarts will finally upgrade to hi-speed rail. I’m over it…still a little annoyed at myself that I didn’t see it coming. When you think about it, given how she displayed her distain for the school before, the train is actually the most obvious target she could have picked, except for the ministry of course. So maybe, instead of being useless here, you should go and be useless there.”

 

“Albus we –“

 

Harry’s retort was cut off but the phone suddenly vibrating on the kitchen table. The whole room held its breath. Albus picked it up and unlocked it with his thumb print. It was a text.

 

“Huh,” he said before putting the phone down and going back to his breakfast.

 

“Is it her?! What does it say?”

 

Albus sighed in annoyance before picking up the phone and reading the text out loud. “Good morning, Albus. How is your head?

 

“Wha…that’s it?”

 

“Yep.”

 

They all looked shocked, except for Scorpius who knew that she simply craved Albus’ attention.

The phone buzzed again.

 

Sleep well?

 

Albus ignored it. It buzzed again.

 

You look sexy when you haven’t shaved.

 

He rolled his eyes. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco where on tenterhooks waiting for some kind of explanation.

 

“You’re not going to reply?” Hermione asked with apprehension.

 

“She just wants attention and I’m not playing.”

 

The phone buzzed again.

 

I just got out the shower. I’m all wet… Followed by the wink emoji.

 

“You do realize that she’s planning to strike the ministry. You remember what an asset it was to Voldemort during the war, I’d say it’s a forgone conclusion that its her ultimate target,” Albus said, trying to steer them back on track. “You could at least try and make it difficult for her.”

 

The phone buzzed again.

 

None of the adults seemed to be able to focus on what he was saying while that phone kept going off.

 

Need your opinion on something…

 

Albus stopped himself from typing a reply about her mental state.

 

“Unlike Voldemort however, she’s in no rush to get it done,” Albus continued.

 

The phone buzzed again. This time it was a picture. It had been split down the middle to show two images side by side with the caption: Red or black?

 

The pictures were of her or rather Alex, posing in nothing but lacy underwear. One black set and one red. She was also blowing a kiss at the camera.

 

“Oh, for God’s sake!” Albus growled.

 

“What?! What’s wrong?!” Harry gulped.

 

“Nothing, she’s just sending lewd selfies,” Albus said before putting the phone on the table. The others leaned over to take a look. Ron received a sharp elbow when Hermione caught him staring at the picture for a bit too long.

 

He couldn’t really be blamed. Alex had actually been voted one of the sexiest women in the entire wizarding world before and now here she was with her incredible body on display like a glamour model.

 

“So, yesterday she commits an act of domestic terrorism and almost gets you two killed and now she’s sending you pictures of her in her underwear. She really is insane, isn’t she?” Draco said.

 

“The red,” Scorpius said then immediately regretted it. Under Albus’ angry gaze he turned bright red. “I mean…because…it matches her hair…” he turned away and tried to focus solely on his breakfast plate.

 

He wasn’t wrong. The red underwear did match the streaks in her hair but that didn’t mean he wanted his best friend perving over the woman he was in love with.

 

“Like you said, she wants me off balance,” Albus admitted to Draco.

 

“I’d say she’s doing a damn good job of that.”

 

The phone buzzed again.

 

Albus was almost tempted to just throw it across the room but morbid curiosity got the better of him.

 

It was a good thing he did look.

 

The second image was of a man. A regular looking guy in his mid-thirties that Albus had never seen in his life. Slightly balding with stubble on his jaw, posing next to a woman whom had been deliberately moved out of shot in front of a coffee shop.

 

Know him? The caption read.

 

The phone buzzed again.

 

He dies in one hour. Better get a move on, toddle-pip. X

 

Albus immediately held up the phone to the others so that they could see the picture. “You know him, anyone ever seen him before?!”

They shook their heads.

 

“Terrific…I have one hour to find one person using nothing but a picture in a city of fifteen hundred square miles and nine million people. Game on…” he said grimly.



Chapter 7: The Squib Detective
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“There’s gotta be some kind of tracking spell we could use?” Scorpius suggested.

 

“None that I know of. They all require something that actually belongs to the person you’re trying to find. A possession, clothing, a finger nail, something…that’s just a digital image,” Hermione answered.

 

“Any way we could get his image out to the ministry, see if anyone knows him?” Harry asked.

 

“He’s using a muggle phone. He’s unlikely to be a wizard,” Draco pointed out.

 

Their voices had drowned away from Albus who was studying the image intently. She wouldn’t just hand him a random image, this was planned, carefully. Everything he needed to find and save that man was right there in front of him.

 

The woman was completely out of frame, save for a bit of her dark brown hair and left ear which had a small earing in it. Diamond, white gold stud, fourteen karats. His proximity to her suggests partners but it was impossible to see a wedding ring since both his hands were obscured. One was holding the phone and the other was out of frame except…tan lines!

 

One at the wrist, one at the neck. Nobody wears a shirt in a tanning booth and the weather had been bad in London for the last few weeks. In fact, the sky was grey in the photo which meant it was probably recent. The tan lines had come from the honeymoon, the earrings were a wedding gift…newlyweds.

 

The coffee shop behind them was a dead end. Costa. There were probably three hundred of them in London, they were almost as bad as Starbucks. But, maybe not. The building itself…untreated yellow brick, common in the nineteen thirties. And just next to it in the background there were no buildings, only trees, or treetops to be more exact. A park…a large park, nineteen thirties brick work…Finsbury Park!

 

“I need Polyjuice potion!” Albus suddenly blurted causing them all to stop talking and look at him.

 

“What for?” Ron asked.

 

“To paint my nails- WHY DO THINK?!”

 

“Just askin’” Ron mumbled, looking away.

 

“That photo was taken in Finsbury Park, I need access to the CCTV footage,” Albus said quickly. Nobody knew London as well as he did. It was his city.

 

“Actually…I think I’ve got some Polyjuice,” Draco said wandering off.

 

“There’s no camera in the photo,” Harry pointed out.

 

“No, the camera was used to take the photo,” his son said sounding bored.

 

“You know what I mean,” Harry growled.

 

“London has more CCTV coverage than any other city in the world, you really think he hasn’t popped up on at least one?” Albus fired back.

 

“What? It would take you a month to go through all of them and we’ve got less than an hour!” Ron reminded.

 

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing I know some people that can do it in twenty-minutes!”

 

“Twenty minutes?! Who?”

 

“Found it,” Draco said wondering back into the kitchen with a small vile full of sludge coloured liquid.

 

“Ahh, that’s barely thirty minutes worth!” Albus sighed.

 

Hermione couldn’t stop herself. “Draco, I should warn you that Polyjuice is a class three regulated substance and –“

 

“You spent half your Hogwarts years making this stuff in a toilet and now you want to lecture me?!” Draco said incredulously.

She didn’t have a retort for that.

 

“Fight about it after we save this guy! Draco, Scorp, come with me,” Albus said firmly. “I need to side-along to Islington.”

 

“And once we’re there?” Scorpius asked.

 

“We’re going to kidnap a police officer.”

 

“WHAT?!” Harry, Ron and Hermione screamed just as a POP! Sounded around the room and the three Slytherins disappeared into thin air.

 

They appeared in an alleyway just off from a busy London street. Luckily their arrival had gone unnoticed because a lorry driver was having an argument with a cabbie about who should move their vehicle out of the way first. It was grabbing the attention of the passers-by.

 

“This way,” Albus said leading them down the street.

 

“When you said ‘kidnap a police officer’…?” Draco asked sounding a little worried.

 

“I mean, I’m going to borrow his identity,” Albus corrected. “But obviously he’ll need to be unconscious and out of the way for the duration so yeah, kidnapping is technically accurate.”

 

“You do realize that we are about to break about ten ministry laws doing this?”

 

“It’s okay, you can just blame it all on me,” Albus sighed.

 

“Oh, I intend to,” Draco stated.

 

But fifteen minutes later and they were yet to actually do anything illegal.

 

They had been waiting outside the Islington police station, hoping to spot someone that could give Albus the kind of access he needed but so far, it had only been street constables coming and going with the occasional handcuffed suspect with them. The double-doored entrance was directly across from them with a wheelchair slide on one side and a few steps on the other.

 

Police cars were pulling in and out regularly and it all just looked like business as usual.

 

Albus glanced at the phone. Forty-three minutes left. This wasn’t good.

 

“What about that guy?” Scorpius asked nodded to a man exiting the main entrance.

 

“Nah, another constable, just got off-duty by the looks of it,” Albus said.

 

“That one?” Draco offered as a man in an expensive looking suit exited the station.

 

“That’s not even a police officer, that’s a solicitor,” Albus groaned.

 

“Well, I may have spent some time with wizarding authorities, I know nothing about muggle law-enforcement so –“

 

“Wait, there!” Albus interrupted Draco’s gripe. A big guy with a long dark jacket walked out of the station carrying a paper coffee cup in his left hand. His right hand was holding a phone which he seemed to be going through quite quickly.

 

“You sure?” Scorpius asked.

 

“Definitely a DCI. Work here for a while too,” Albus nodded.

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Look at him. He doesn’t even need to look away from his phone to navigate the steps.”

 

The DCI continued to walk away from the station, probably heading to his car that seemed to be parked just down the road. The three of them followed him and a few minutes later a well concealed stunning spell meant they were dragging his unconscious body into a tight alleyway.

 

Albus quickly began donning his clothes while Draco plucked one of the cop’s blond hairs and added to the Polyjuice mix. Finally, Albus grabbed the DCI’s ID and phone before downing the disgusting potion in one. The name inside the ID said DCI Dean Harris.

 

“Ahh, I forgot how much I hate that stuff!” he cringed as his face began to contort and change.

 

A few seconds later, he was an exact replica of the knocked-out man in front of him.

 

“Thirty-seven minutes. Wait for me outside, I’ll need another side-along if I manage to find him,” Albus said before walking back to the station.

 

He had to relax, act as if that station was his home away from home. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done because he had no idea of the layout. He took a deep breath before pushing his way through the double doors. Inside was a small reception area with a young guy behind a large counter. To the left was another constable taking a statement from someone and on the right was a guy sitting on a bench with his hands cuffed behind his back.

 

On the wall was a TV set to the news. Apparently, London was going to be in the middle of a torrential rain storm in a day or two.

“You alright Gov?” the man behind the counter said when he spotted him. “Thought you were heading over to Crouch End?”

“Yeah, something came up,” Albus shrugged and walked straight past him.

 

Luckily, just beyond the reception area was a sign on the wall that gave directions. Forensics, evidence lock-up and interrogation rooms were all on the first floor. Achieves in the basement. Surveillance, second floor. That was what he needed.

 

He shot up the stairs as quickly as possible and entered a large open room, the only door on the second floor. The place was a hive of activity. Inside, rows and rows of decks covered the entire room except for few closed off offices at the back. Everywhere, people were working on computers. Phones were ringing and officers were walking around with files and evidence photos.

 

It was busier than the Ministry auror office.

 

“What did you forget?” a woman asked looking up from her desk. She obviously knew him judging by the smile on her face.

 

With no idea what their relationship was, Albus just tried to act normal. He walked over to her desk with a smile.

 

“Didn’t forget anything, got a bit of an emergency,” he said stealing a glance at her desk. There were a bunch of birthday cards set out on it all giving best wishes to ‘Stella’.

 

“What’s happened?” Stella asked.

 

Albus pulled out the phone that Nemesis had given him and showed her the picture of the man.

 

“He’s one of my informants but I think he’s in trouble. Can you do a quick search for me and see if he’s popped up on any cameras?” Albus asked, trying to sound professional.

 

“I can try,” she said taking the phone off him. She took a quick look at the charge port and then fished a lead out of her desk draw. She plugged the phone into her computer and quickly connected it to the database.

 

“I last saw him in Finsbury Park a few days ago,” he said hoping it would help.

 

She typed away furiously on her computer before pulling up a copy of the picture. Little lines began to draw themselves around his face, measuring his jaw line, cheek bones and forehead. The program to note of his eye colour and the size of his lips and ears before going into a search. A little bar appeared on the screen that began to move very slowly.

 

Twenty-nine minutes left. This was taking too long.

 

“I don’t mean to be rude, but is there anyway we can speed this up?”

 

“Everything is being backed-up onto the cloud so it’s being a bit slow,” she said. “What’s his name, I can try and cross match some details?”

 

Albus quickly formed a lie in his head. “He only ever used an alias. Always very cautious.”

 

“He’s not a junky, is he? You know you can’t trust those mugs,” Stella remarked.

 

“Not as far as I know,” Albus said.

 

Bloggs and his resources could have probably done the search a lot faster but it would require him to either risk sending him the photo or giving him the phone in person and if Nemesis was watching him (which he was sure she was during the train incident) then he risked exposing the squibs to her.

 

He couldn’t take that chance, he had to do the test without their help.

 

Twenty-two minutes left and the bar was barely half-way. At this rate he was going to run out of time.

 

The minutes that passed seemed to get shorter and shorter as he watched that little bar on the screen grudgingly move, bit by bit. Nothing was popping up.

 

“You don’t have anymore pictures of him, do you? It can increase the accuracy of the search,” Stella suggested, obviously seeing the frustration mounting on Albus’s transformed face.

 

That was another thing he had to remember. He didn’t have an exact time limit on how long the Polyjuice would last and suddenly transforming back into himself while impersonating a police officer would definitely not be good.

 

The computer chimed.

 

“Got him,” she said. The man’s file came up on screen. “Craig Hedges, Stroud Green Terrace, flat four-twenty-two.”

 

“Thanks love,” Albus smiled, quickly unplugging the phone from her computer and exiting the room.

 

He didn’t want to run; the other officers might think something was wrong and start asking questions but he got out of the station as quickly as possible.

 

Draco and Scorpius were waiting exactly where he told them to.

“Stroud Green Terrace,” Albus said.

 

“Where? I’ve never been there before,” Scorpius said.

 

“Me neither. I wouldn’t know where to apparate to,” Draco warned.

 

“It’s near Finsbury Park, you ever been there?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Then let’s go,” Albus urged.

 

They disappeared with a crack leaving the half-naked cop in the alleyway. He would be very confused when he woke up.

 

The three of them reappeared just behind some trees at the southern edge of the park. Albus spun around looking in every direction, trying to get his bearings. He spotted a large grey block of flats that went up six stories. That had to be it, given flat number.

 

“There,” he said and began running towards the building.

 

The block was rectangular and had a small open courtyard in the middle that was only about twenty feet across. The walls had their fair share of graffiti on them but otherwise it looked reasonable comfortable. The kind of affordable housing that was used by people earning just over the minimum wage.

 

There were sixty flats per floor and no lifts. Annoying.

 

Albus quickly checked the phone again. Six minutes left.

 

“You two stay here in case he comes out. If you spot him, just stun and keep him safe!” Albus yelled before taking off towards the stairs.

 

It was at the second floor that a truly uncomfortable sensation started to take hold of his face. He felt his own skin moving and his teeth began to grind. The Polyjuice was wearing off.

 

He was breathing hard by the time he reached the forth floor but it didn’t stop him. He bolted down the balcony past one door after another. Four-o- nine. Four-ten. Four-eleven. Four-twenty-two! He needed four-twenty-two!

 

Another check of the phone told him three minutes left!

 

Four-twenty-two! He reached the door and banged on it as hard as he could.

 

“Police! Open the door!” he yelled and quickly rummaged around for the cop’s ID.

 

After a few seconds he heard the door unlock. A very worried looking Indian man opened the door.

 

“Craig Hedges?” Albus asked, still gasping.

 

“No…he moved out two months ago,” the Indian man said.

 

“What?!” panicked erupted throughout Albus’s body. The police had outdated details on the man!

 

“Has he done something?” the Indian man asked.

 

“No, no, no! Shit!” Albus yelled. Anger at his own failure was already starting to boil inside him.

 

“Calm down, mate. He only lives over there,” the Indian man said looking very concerned at Albus’s rage.

 

“He got married. Moved in with his wife. She lives on the floor below, just over there,” he said pointing to a flat just across the courtyard.

 

Albus looked over the balcony to see where he was pointing. A door with a small window next to it, almost perfectly opposite the one he was standing in front of. He could see a man in there through the window but something was wrong.

 

He was just standing there, frozen on the spot, staring directly at a shelf on the wall. There was something on the shelf. Sitting right in front of Craig Hedges face. Something sharp…and he wasn’t moving.

 

He checked the phone again. Twenty seconds! He’d never make it in time…unless.

 

Albus suddenly barged the Indian man out of the way and rushed into his flat, leaving the door open.

 

“Hey, what the bloody hell do you think you’re –“

 

His weight, the angle, distance, gravitational constant…he could make it.

 

Albus bolted at full speed back towards the balcony and then jumped. He flew through the air, clearing the courtyard and smashing straight through the window next to the front door. He impacted the floor inside the flat and rolled, barrelling straight into Craig Hedges and pushing him out of the way just as the device on his shelf that he’d been standing in front of fired a bladed disc.

 

It missed Craig’s head by a hairs breath and lodged itself in the wall just behind.

 

“What the – who the hell are you?!” Craig barked.

 

It seemed he had snapped out of his hypnotised state the second Albus had rammed him and was now looking at him and the broken window with angry confusion.

 

“Police!” Albus groaned and flashed him the cop’s ID, way too quickly for him to realize that he looked nothing like the man in the picture.

 

“Police, why the – WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” Craig yelped seeing the disc dug into the wall.

 

“Nothing you need to worry about,” Albus said picking himself up. Broken glass fragments fell off his jacket as he rose and muscles ached from his impact with the window and the floor.

 

He felt blood on his face. A few minor slashes to his cheek and a few on his arms were the worst of it.

 

Draco and Scorpius had clearly heard the glass break because they came running into the courtyard below.

 

“Albus?!” Scorpius yelled.

 

“I’m up here. Need ya help,” Albus shouted back.

 

“What is going on?!” Craig demanded.

 

“It’ll be explained in a minute.” What Albus really meant was that he’d be Obliviated in a minute and he would have to explain it.

 

“Meanwhile, can I suggest that you update your details with the local police?” Albus growled in annoyance.

 

“Oh…yeah,” Craig said looking sheepish. “I was gonna do that this week.”

 

“That would be very wise Mr. Hedges.”

 

“Bowker.”

Albus froze on the spot. “What did you just say?” he asked in barely more than a whisper.

 

“Craig Bowker now,” he said oblivious to Albus’ shock. “I got married a few months ago, took me wife’s second name.”

 

Craig Bowker

 

A green light flashed through his memory and then an innocent boy was laying dead in front of him. Craig Bowker Jr. had been killed right in front of him by Delphi and it had changed him forever. The same way seeing Cedric Diggory being killed had changed his father.

 

The train…He and Scorpius had jumped off the Hogwarts Express before their fourth year in order to start their insane quest which almost destroyed them all.

 

She had forced him to destroy the train and now this, another Craig Bowker.

 

Nemesis was making him revisit the worst moments of his life.



Chapter 8: History in the making
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While Draco worked to erase Craig’s memories of the very confusing events that had just transpired, Scorpius was hard at work, waving his wand through the air and making the damage to the flat repair itself. He fixed the window with relative ease and even managed to get some of the blood stains out of the carpet. He was just about to try prying the disc blade out of the wall when it suddenly began to glow.

 

A moment later, it had extracted itself from where it had struck and changed in mid-air before falling to the floor.

 

“Albus! Look!” he sounded.

 

Albus, who had been standing outside leaning over the balcony and staring at nothing in particular re-entered the flat. He was still pale and the blood from his various cuts had started to dry against his face.

 

Scorpius pointed to the floor. “That thing just transformed right in front of my eyes.”

 

Albus crouched down and picked the object up. It was a simple black chess piece.

 

A queen.

 

“The Raven Queen,” he mumbled to himself.

 

“You okay?” Scorpius asked looking at his friend with concern.

 

Before Albus could even start to answer that question the phone start buzzing. His anger flared instantly to the point where he couldn’t stop himself from squeezing the phone as he answered it.

 

“When I find you –“ Albus growled but Nemesis cut him off.

 

“Don’t make empty threats, Albus. As long as I’m wearing your dream girl, you’d never risk trying to harm me so why don’t you calm down.”

 

“Calm down?! You think I don’t know what you’re doing?!” he yelled.

 

Luckily Craig was still under the effect of Draco’s spell as was just standing there with a goofy look on his face, completely oblivious to what was happening around him. Scorpius and his father however were looking very worried.

 

Draco’s theory about her trying to get under his skin was certainly being proven true.

 

“I’m trying to help you, Albus!” Nemesis hissed back.

 

“Help me?!”

 

“Yes! The Occulmens, the mind palace, those techniques so don’t have to dream! What happened in your fourth year doesn’t just haunt you, Albus, it broke you!” there was actually a hint of pleading in her voice. “You’ve buried those memories deep down inside you where you think they can’t hurt you anymore but they can. They will always hurt you until you face them.”

 

“I didn’t ask for your help!”

 

“No, because you’re stubborn,” she huffed.

 

“You really expect me to believe that this is all for my benefit?” he asked shaking his head.

 

“I can help you and myself at the same time you know. I’m good like that,” she said proudly. “And besides, it worked out pretty well this time, didn’t it? Craig Bowker is not lying dead on the ground, you saved him.”

 

“That doesn’t change the fact that the other one is dead!”

 

“True. But now you know, had you been given the opportunity, you could have saved him too. That boy is dead by no fault of yours, Albus.”

 

“That’s not how guilt works.”

 

“You know,” she sighed. “For someone with such a remarkable mind you seem to having a hard time seeing the logic of this.”

“Logic requires rationality and I seemed to be running solely on emotion right now!”

 

“Okay…I don’t know why but what you just said put some very erotic ideas in my head,” she said in a sultry tone.

 

“I’m hanging up!”

 

“You never did tell me who actually killed him?” she added quickly.

 

“I’m done handing you information,” he scathed.

 

“It’s a good thing I’m not done giving it to you, isn’t it? You get my clue?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Figured it out yet?”

 

“I’ll get there.”

 

“I know you will. Go have a stiff drink, Albus, you’ve earned it,” she said fondly before hanging up.

 

Once again, he felt compelled to smash that phone into a million pieces but that wouldn’t actually solve anything. Chances are that another one would simply arrive within a few hours. She wanted to stay in touch and he wasn’t going to be able to stop that.

 

“Albus…” Draco tried.

 

“No! I need to…go somewhere and do…something,” Albus looking so angry that he seemed to be visibly restraining himself from breaking everything again.

 

He charged out of the flat wanting to leave that particular part of London behind forever. Unfortunately, London, like the memories of his fourth year were a part of him and he would never be free of them.

 

He marched out of the block and down the road not heading anywhere specifically. After about an hour of wondering around trying to stop his own anger from influencing his thought processes, he decided to give up and actually take Nemesis’ advice.

 

He walked into a Weatherspoon’s to get a drink.

 

Commercial pubs operated differently to normal ones. They were about as far from the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks as anything could get. Instead of a rusty, homey place that had been laid out and decorated by the landlord, these places were all modern and uniformly set up. Every part of the place was taken up by tables, chairs and booths. They doubled as restaurants offering good food at a reasonable price. And the booze was cheap. That’s why people would often congregate there before heading off to more expensive night clubs.

 

There was no music. Only a bunch of TVs’ that lined the walls with the volume turned right down.

 

Albus walked up to the bar.

 

“Whisky, double, with ice please,” he said without even looking at the barman.

 

“You got any ID?” the barman asked looking a little sceptical at his bloodied face and oversized clothes.

 

Despite the fact that he was approaching eighteen, Albus pulled out the stolen wallet and flashed it in front of him just long enough to see the badge.

 

“You’re a copper?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

 

“Yes! Don’t I look like one?” Albus snapped.

 

“You look like you just had a fight with a tiger,” the barman said. “and lost…”

 

“Well, that’s why I need a drink!”

 

The barman shrugged and went off to pour his drink. Albus glanced at the TV behind the bar. Yet another weather report about how London was going to be drowned the following day because of huge rain storms.

 

“Four-fifty,” the barman said handing him the glass.

 

Albus paid with the change that had been in the police officers’ pocket and realized there was enough there for a second one. He downed it in one and asked for another before the sting had fully hit his throat.

 

“You have an argument with your misses or something?”

 

“She’s not my girlfriend!” he said without thinking.

 

He paid for his second drink and wondered over to an empty booth. He pulled out the phone and dialled the number that Bloggs had given him.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Can I speak to Mr. Swan please?” Albus asked.

 

“There’s no Mr. Swan here I’m afraid, I think you have the wrong number,” the voice on the other end said.

Albus hung up and put the phone on the table in front of him before taking a sip of his whiskey.

 

It was only a moment before the phone started ring and he answered it.

 

“I’m guessing you heard all of it?” Albus asked.

 

“Yes,” Bloggs voice replied. “Were you acting or are you actually on the verge of setting something on fire?”

 

“It’s hard to tell.”

 

“Well, she really knows how to push your buttons, doesn’t she?” he remarked.

 

“She knows how to push everyone’s buttons,” Albus sighed.

 

“You’re more right than you know. While you were infiltrating a police station…oh, and there’s a very pissed off chief inspector looking for the man who stole his clothes by the way, there was a development.”

 

“Tunney?”

 

“Yep. He left the ministry,” Bloggs confirmed.

 

“Where did he go?!” Albus asked, his pulse quickening.

 

“Well, that’s the weird thing…he didn’t really go anywhere.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He left the ministry via the employee entrance, walked across the street, hopped on a bus and took it over to Kensington. Then he got off, walked a mile around the place, then jumped back on the bus and returned to the ministry,” Bloggs said.

 

“Wait…he didn’t stop off anywhere? He didn’t pick anything up or drop anything off?” Albus asked in confusion.

 

“Nope. We had eyes on him the whole time. Didn’t do anything, just went for a stroll.”

 

“That doesn’t make any sense! He wouldn’t just…” Albus’ eyes drifted to the TV again which was now show previews of the football match that was starting in an hour. “OH!”

 

“Err…It sounds as if you just had some sort of epiphany,” Bloggs voice wondered.

 

“Yes, I do that a lot. I was wrong!”

 

“Wrong? About what?”

 

“Well, technically I was right, I was just wrong about what I was right about, which still means I was right…I think.”

 

“Have you been drinking?” another voice came over the phone line. He recognized it as Eve, the werewolf.

 

“No…alright, there might be a glass of whisky in my hand right now but that’s beside the point!”

 

“Alright, what were you not right about?”

 

“No, I was right! But I was also not wrong! Never mind…remember we said there was something she was after that she could only get through stealth?” Albus said excitedly.

 

“The veil?”

 

“It’s not the veil!” Albus stated. “She does want the veil but that’s not what she’s after right this second! It’s something else inside the natural history museum!”

 

“Wait, what?! Natural history museum?! How have you gone from the veil to that?” Eve’s voice asked, clearly confused.

“She said she was on the platform!” Albus declared. His anger from earlier had vanished in favour of this new revelation.

“Platform?! You’re not making any sense!”

 

“She’s said she was waiting for me on the platform! Platform nine and three quarters! But I didn’t show, so she sent me the phone instead, this phone by the way, and said I had forty-one minutes to save everyone onboard the train! But the train doesn’t leave at eleven-nineteen, it leaves at eleven on the dot! The bomb was set to go off at twelve! That’s one hour! The same amount of time she gave me to find Craig Bowker! I’ve been focusing on the tasks instead of the timeline! She needs an hour to get this thing!” he explained so quickly that it almost became inaudible. “How long was Tunney away from the ministry?!”

 

“Just under an hour,” Bloggs admitted.

 

“Did he walk past it?”

 

“Yes, and then down a bunch of other streets in a sort of horseshoe.”

 

“He was simulating how long he’d need to spend inside! This was a practice run!” Albus said.

 

“But what does she want from the museum?”

 

“No idea. But it has happened before. Muggles find magical artifacts, relics and such on archaeological digs and ship them back without any idea of what they really are. Usually the ministry finds out, sends some of their people to confund the scientists and change the records and then its like it was never there but I’ve heard things sometimes slip past them.”

 

“And she doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s after it?” Bloggs wondered aloud.

 

“Of course not. Just look at Riddle’s horcruxes. He put up massive amounts of protection around them but it didn’t stop them from being destroyed. The only time they were really safe was when nobody knew about them. And Nemesis is a lot smarter than Voldemort! She can’t be killed but this thing, whatever it is, can be which is why she’s taking such pains to keep it a secret and – OF COURSE!”

 

“Another epiphany?”

 

“We were wondering why she decided to show herself now? I bet you anything that this artifact she’s after has only just arrived in London! I bet you she was looking for it while she was building her sleeper agents and then she tracked it back to London and knew she couldn’t stay hidden anymore! I mean, obviously she couldn’t stay hidden, she’s wearing an international celebrity, people tend to notice them!”

 

“If you’re right and this was a practice run, then she is probably going to make her move to get what’s she’s after when she gives you the next task,” Bloggs warned.

 

“You’re right…and I’m gonna stop her.”

 

“I hope so…what? Oh,” Bloggs said obviously speaking to someone else. “The ministry is looking for you. Scorpius is there. I’m guessing he’s told your dad about what transpired and he’s a little concerned.”

 

“Seems likely. They’re about two steps short of putting me in a straight jacket after all,” Albus grumbled.

 

“Then you better get back there quick,” he said before hanging up.

 

Albus quickly finished his drink and departed the pub.

 

He made it back to the ministry pretty fast by cutting through the backstreet and was soon inside the red telephone box that marked the visitor’s entrance. He wasn’t in the Atrium for more than a few minutes before a couple of aurors approached and told him that his father was looking for him.

 

Albus sighed and followed them down to the auror office.

 

Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Scorpius were in his father’s office. They all had a moment of showing how relieved they were to see him before going straight back to scrutinizing his appearance and possible mental trauma. All except Scorp who looked a little guilty. He probably thought he had ratted Albus out of something. Draco was absent, but then he really didn’t like coming to the ministry unless it was truly urgent.

 

His mum had gone straight in for a hug when she’d seen him and shortly after Hermione made the blood stains on his face disappear with a wave of her wand. None of them yelled at him for the mistreatment of a muggle police officer but he was sure that would come later.

 

“Albus, I have to ask…exactly how much did you tell her about your fourth year?” Harry asked gravely.

 

“She doesn’t know about Delphi so don’t worry,” he answered absent-mindedly.

 

Now that he knew what she was planning, the only thing left was to figure out who she really was.

 

“You’re sure?”

 

Once he made his move to stop her, she would be aware that he was on to her. She would alter her plans or possibly retaliate. He needed something that could even the score.

 

“If she knew about Delphi, she’d probably be breaking Azkaban open and skinning her alive by now,” Albus said in a monotone. His mind was drifting back and forth between the office and the vault.

 

Raven QueenQueen of Ravensthat’s ridiculous, nobody can be queen of an avian species

 

“Oh, well, there’s a silver lining,” Ron mumbled.

 

Ravens never leave the Tower of London; Queen Elizabeth was imprisoned therefor two months.

 

“Not really, she’d probably slaughter everyone else there as well, including the guards…” Albus said to no one in particular.

 

“What a charmer,” Ginny huffed and flicked her hair over her shoulder.

 

Lightning surged through Albus’s mind. Something…something about what his mother had just done had sparked something…

 

Red hair

 

The world disappeared around him. Suddenly he was looking at a woman that bore a strange resemblance to his grandmother. Lily Potter. Red hair, green eyes…but she was taller, much taller and more buxom. Just like the silhouettes he’d seen of her in Hogwarts.

 

Almost as if he was in a trace, Albus reached into his pocket and pulled out the phone. Keeping it concealed from the others in the room, he typed a message with his thumb. A message that said what had just happened. The realization that had just struck him. The thing he’d been chasing ever since that shield had dropped over Hogwarts.

 

The thing he’d finally discovered. He clicked the send button and the message went away.

 

The message that said: I know who you are.



Chapter 9: Nothing stays Buried
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The phone buzzed with a reply.

 

Courtroom 10

 

She was inside the ministry! Of course, she was inside the damn ministry! In the very same room that his fathers hearing had been conducted. Where Fudge and the Wizengamot had decided whether or not he would be going back to Hogwarts after he used magic to save himself and his cousin from a Dementor attack. Even now, she couldn’t resist taking stabs at the past.

 

Albus, still dazed, started heading for the door.

 

“Albus, where are you going?” Hermione asked.

 

“I need…the loo…” he said, sounding like an automaton.

 

All of his family looked ready to object to his leaving so soon after arriving but Scorpius, recognising the signs, sprung to his defence.

“What he means is that he needs to think and has a nasty habit of jabbering incoherently when he does, so it’s best if he does it somewhere private, since the daily prophet thinks he’s lost it. A toilet stool is as good a place as any,” he shrugged.

 

“Yes, the smell of urinal keg helps me think,” Albus muttered only half aware of everyone else in the room.

 

“Well…okay, I suppose…” Harry said looking extremely perplexed.

 

Albus sort of drifted out of his father’s office and back towards the lifts. He managed to get an empty one and pushed the button for the Department of Mysteries.

 

He barely heard the chime of the lift announcing that he’d arrived and his body seemed to walk out of it without an instruction. Almost as if he was being pulled towards her. Like magnetism. She had said those very words in the letter she’d written to him while he’d been imprisoned in Hogwarts.

 

Slowly but surely, he moved down the dark corridor. The entire floor seemed disserted. But as he got closer to those huge double doors, he heard the faint sound of music.

 

Pixies – Where is my mind.

 

He pushed the doors open and there she was.

 

Sitting lazily in the main seat of the courtroom, the one that would usually be occupied by the minister. She had her leg drooped over one of the arms and a phone sat in her had that was playing the song.

 

She was wearing nothing but a pair of torn blue jeans and a white shirt that she’d purposely left partially unbuttoned so that he could catch a glimpse of her red bra (the one she’d shown him in the picture).

 

Her black and red streaked hair was as perfect as ever but she had forgone any make-up. She wasn’t even wearing blush or eyeshadow.

Albus had a feeling that she wanted him to see Alex with zero embellishments. And it was the first time that he was seeing her in months. He’d seen surveillance photos and images in the papers but now here she was. Sitting right in front of him.

 

Her eyes locked onto his the second he walked in and for a moment, they just looked at each other. He hadn’t been face-to-face with her since she’d possessed Alex’ body and now that he was here, everything, every word, every interaction they’d ever had was spiralling though his brain at the speed of light.

 

She tapped her thumb to the phone and the song stopped.

 

“It’s so good to see you, Albus,” she breath, almost in relief.

 

“It’s been a while,” he nodded.

 

“Too long…I hated watching you from afar. That’s not how it should be between us. It feels like an insult not to look you in the eye,” she admitted.

 

“Those aren’t your eyes.”

 

“She can’t see you. I can…and now, you can see me.”

 

“It can’t be you…” he breathed.

 

“Why not? I told you, you live in a world of lies,” she smiled.

 

“The Raven Queen…Raven animagus,” Albus said.

 

“Not anymore. I lost that ability when my body was destroyed. And Alex has never had any desire to become an animagus. Not that she doesn’t have the talent, I just think she’s more comfortable fighting as a human,” she shrugged.

 

“You told me you were a queen but I thought It was hyperbole or a metaphor,” he said shaking his head.

 

“Nope, really was a queen.”

 

“Queen of Avalon.”

 

“It was more an exile than a promotion. They just didn’t want me in Camelot anymore.”

 

“Merlin killed you!”

 

“Merlin lied.”

 

“Morgan Le Fey,” he breathed in awe.

 

It was really her. The greatest witch that had ever lived. So many had said that she was Merlin’s opposite. He had been that era’s Dumbledore and she had been it’s Voldemort but he was sure that was true anymore. Lies. She was described as pure evil, even her chocolate frog card called her a ‘Dark witch’ but It was all a lie.

 

“He refused to call me that,” she said jumping out of the chair and walking towards him. “Said Morgan was a boys name. Insisted on calling me Morgana. You know, for all he was a clever-clogs about I think it’s a good thing he never got to see this era. Introduce Merlin to a transgender person and his head would probably explode.”

 

“Arthur was –“

 

“My half-brother. Yep,” she said simply but something about how she looked away told him that was a sore subject.

 

“So…Merlin never –“

 

“Went to Hogwarts? Of course, he didn’t. He was gone three-hundred years before Hogwarts even existed. A-plus to the muggles on that one, they’ve got more accurate information on that time period than the wizarding world does but then that was rather the point,” she said faking a smile. “After I was…dispatched…Merlin went to work on altering or destroying any record of my existence.”

She tucked the phone back into her pocket and stretched her arms out like she was about to do yoga or something.

 

“You can see the appeal though. Good PR stunt. Old Salazar claiming that the greatest wizard of all time was in his house. Of course, he only started perpetuating that myth after he was exiled and once the founding four were dead there was no one to confirm or deny the stories.”

 

Something in his vault sprang out into Albus’ mind and he couldn’t help himself. He had to ask.

 

“So…was any of it real?”

 

She chuckled. “The knights, the round table, Camelot, yeah, that was real…the quest for the holy grail, not so much.”

 

No surprise there.

 

“And…the Lady of the lake?”

 

She froze. Tension rippled through Alex’ body, her muscles went taught. It confirmed his suspicions.

 

“What about her?” Morgana said in a hiss, refusing to look at him.

 

“Well, it’s just that…according to muggle evidence, she’s the one that took down Merlin. But she didn’t kill him…she imprisoned him, forever. Can’t help but notice the coalition. Merlin imprisons you then she imprisons him. It’s almost as if…she was avenging you.”

 

“WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT HER?!” Morgana suddenly roared getting in his face.

 

“It was her, wasn’t it?” he said backing away slightly. He’d seen her lose control before. When her jealously had gotten the better of her and she’d almost killed him and Scorpius with a bunch of staircases but this was a whole different level. “She was the other immortal you met. The other one that found the source. The one that tried to stop you because she knew what it would do to you.”

 

“She’s a coward! She couldn’t hack this world anymore so she ran!” Morgana spat.

 

Seeing it now, it was so obvious. He was amazed that he hadn’t spotted it before. The Lady of the Lake was the one person on earth that could have understood her. Could have guided her. Could have help her navigate her new power and helped her come to terms with her immortality, but she had walked away.

 

Just another person that Morgana had felt betrayed by.

 

“Did I ever tell you I was raised in a brothel?”

 

Her change in attitude and tone was so quick it actually took Albus a moment to realize that the same person was talking. Her long imprisonment really had taken its toll on her. This was boarding on bipolar.

 

“No, you never told me that.”

 

“Orphans lot. We don’t get to be picky,” she rubbed Alex’ face as if she were trying to wash away what they’d just spoken about.

“Back then, churches did not take babies in baskets. Not unless they were paid. So, I got dumped on the doorstep of a whorehouse. In many ways I was lucky. They took me in. A place where girls were brought for their bodies and abortions were way more painful, they took pity on me. They put me to work but not servicing clients. I washed their sheets, scrubbed their floors, got the cum stains out. Nobody wants to bang a girl while they are looking at someone else’s jizz.”

 

She started walking around the courtroom, seemingly incapsulated by her own nostalgia.

 

“I had a little room in the attic. Wasn’t much but it was warm and had a bed…but it leaked. Every time it rained, I would get soaked. Finally, they got a guy from the village to mend it and while he was up there, he lost his footing and fell. Landed badly on a wagon below. His leg ended up bend in the wrong way. It was horrible and he was screaming to high heaven. I rushed over and clamped my hands down on him, even though I wanted to throw up at the sight of it. And then, something happened. My hands felt very hot and suddenly there was this awful crack…and then his leg was just fixed. He had passed out from the pain so he didn’t see it happen but others did. And they started mummering the word ‘witch’.”

 

She moved her finger across one of the chairs she passed before looking at the dust that had accumulated on it. That courtroom was barely used anymore.

 

“About six months later this tall guy with a grey beard and a walking staff walks into the brothel and says he’s there for me. I was eleven. He seemed like a giant to me. That was the day I met Merlin…he told me I was a witch and that my powers would only continue to get stronger and that unless I learned to control them, they’d control me. I was terrified and despite whatever you’ve read, he wasn’t the kindly old man that Dumbledore was. Nah, straight to business, no mincing words and the most affectionate thing I ever heard him say was that I was naturally gifted. So, when he said he would teach me, I was too afraid to say anything but yes. He was a hard teacher…never went easy on me. Most days, I passed out from exhaustion. But I could tell that he cared about me. Nobody gets that angry with a person that they don’t care about.”

 

Her voice had turned very soft, almost a whisper.

 

“He wanted me to be the best that I could be. And I was one hell of a healer. Other witches and wizards started telling stories about me. They thought I could bring people back from the dead. I couldn’t, of course, but if they were still alive, no matter what wound they’d suffered, I could save them. And I felt good…every time I did it…it felt right. I wanted to help people…and then, just after my sixteenth birthday, Merlin bursts into my room while I’m sleeping and shakes me awake and says I need to come with him. He tells me that the king had been wounded and that he was dying and that I had to save him. He brought me to Camelot…and there he was. Arthur Pendragon himself, with a broken spear right through his side. And I didn’t hesitate. I rushed over and I held onto him and I concentrated as hard as I could and his wounds started knitting themselves back together again. But as I did it, I felt something. Something strange.”

 

She had rounded the room and was now beginning her second circlet.

 

“Something familiar. Merlin decided it was time for me to know the truth. That he had never plucked a young witch that was just coming into her power and decided to train them himself before. He picked me because he knew I was the bastard offspring of Arthur’s mother, Igraine. He told Arthur as well. Turns out, he had no idea either. I was expecting him to hate me. To cast me out of Camelot. Exile or maybe even beheading…but he didn’t. He embraced me as a sister. Uther was dead and Igraine had been lonely for years. He didn’t blame his mother for finding solace in the arms of someone else. And he didn’t see me as a betrayal. He loved me…his knights loved me…his people loved me…I had a family. A real family for the first time and it was glorious…for a while.”

 

Albus was shocked to see her eyes becoming damp. She had promised that she wouldn’t lie to him but now, she was truly pouring her heart out to him.

 

“Of course, you know the rest. I went looking for the source and I found it. And when I started talking about muggles and wizards living as equals, Merlin got scared. He feared what I was gonna do,” she said before stopping and looking Albus straight in the eye. “You know what fear does to people.”

 

The courtroom vanished. The ministry vanished. Suddenly they were standing out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. She had disapparated them both without even touching him! That wasn’t supposed to be possible!

 

The dense tall trees were blocking out the sunlight so the area seemed quite dark. There was nothing to indicate civilization anywhere around them. A slightly chilly wind and grey clouds all around them told Albus that they were still in the UK, but where?

 

“Where are we?” he asked.

 

“Yorkshire dales,” she said looking around. Morgana had gone pale. She looked shaken as she surveyed the area. “This is where it happened.”

 

Albus looked up at her. Her voice sounded hollow. She had been forcing him to relive the worst moments of his life and now she was returning the favour. Reliving her worst moment.

 

Something about this just didn’t seem right. Morgana, Nemesis, wasn’t supposed to be so vulnerable. She was supposed to be strong, unstoppable, focused. But in this moment, she was just frightened, wounded. A victim remembering her trauma.

Anyone else would have taken advantage of this moment of weakness, but Albus couldn’t bring himself to do it.

 

“It was different back then, not so many trees. This was a clearing,” she said, still looking around with wide eyes.

 

“What happened here?” Albus asked.

 

She moved her hands through the air very gently but it caused a rumbling throughout the forest. Birds took flight in terror and the tree branched rattled. The earth began to move. The soil parted as if a massive invisible digger where shifting it. After a few seconds, there was an enormous crater in the middle of the woods as if a meteor had impacted there. The size of the courtroom they had just been standing in, the dirt had cleared away revealing a crude rock formation at the centre.

 

“Look familiar?” she asked.

 

Albus took a few heavy steps into the crater to examine the rock more carefully.

 

“The dais, in the death chamber. It’s same,” Albus gasped.

 

She nodded. “This is where Merlin opened a door to the next world. A door he couldn’t close.”

 

“Merlin created the veil?!”

 

“Of course, he did. He knew he couldn’t beat me, knew couldn’t kill me. For all his faults, Merlin deserved credit for his stance of mortality. He truly believed that humans weren’t meant to live forever. That we get one life and only one life and that’s the way nature intended it. He was, however, very interested in what happened after we died. He did extensive research which is why he decided to make purgatory my prison. But…nothing like that had ever been attempted before and he knew right away that using a celestial alignment to cage me would mean my ultimate release centuries later. So, he went to work. Altering records, sowing false seeds into people’s minds, painting me the great villain of the ages so that when I did return, maybe, just maybe, the entire wizarding world would be united against me,” she spat bitterly.

 

“He was like a father to you, wasn’t he?” Albus dared to ask.

 

“Yes…he was. I loved him. And he turned on me. But…the worst part was that he didn’t do it alone,” angry tears began to fall from her eyes. “He turned Arthur against me. My brother, my blood! He made him afraid of me! Merlin opened the door…but Arthur was the one that shoved me through it!”

 

She couldn’t stop herself from clamping her hands over her face and weeping. And before he even realized he was doing it, Albus had rushed over to her. And then, he was holding her. He was hugging her, trying to comfort her.

 

The woman that had taken over Hogwarts and imprisoned him. The woman that had blown up the Hogwarts express and almost killed an innocent muggle just because he shared the same name as someone that Albus had watched die. The woman that was possessing the person he was in love with.

 

Then, suddenly she was looking at him through tear filled eyes. Gazing into his and her lips were getting closer to his.

He let go of her and jumped backwards.

 

“Is that what this is?! Some pity parade so that you can try and seduce me?!” Albus barked.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Albus,” she said wiping the tears off her face. “If that’s the only thing I was interested in we both know I could pin you to the ground and rape you and there’s not a thing you could do to stop me. I’m telling you this because you deserve to know the truth.”

 

“Then why don’t you tell everyone else?”

 

“Because they don’t care! Nobody wants to know the tragic backstory of a once promising healer that tried to make the world a better place, they only want to hear the tale of how the great and powerful Merlin and noble, valorous Arthur triumphed over the evil sorcerous Morgan Le Fey!” she hissed.

 

“But they didn’t. You’re back,” Albus admitted.

 

“Damn right I am. And Merlin’s little smear job failed. Not because he didn’t do a good enough job of painting me as the monster but because he over estimated the wizarding worlds ability to unite.”

 

“It’s not just the wizarding world! There is no nation or people in the world that are truly united!” Albus argued.

“Wrong! World War II, the muggles unite to face off against Hitler and Japan! Apollo thirteen, the whole world is routing for the astronauts, the kids stuck in the cave in Thailand, the whole world sends people to help! True, it usually takes a great tragedy or great calamity to make them come together but they do. Can the wizarding world say the same? Even when the Order of the Phoenix were dropping like flies, everyone else just hid themselves away or they joined Voldemort!” she yelled. “And they are going to find out, Albus. You know they will!”

 

Albus looked away and gritted his teeth. She was right about that. The muggles would find out about the wizarding world eventually.

“They’ve got four-hundred satellites looking down at the world right now, it’s only a matter of time before they spot something. The leaders of most major countries already know. You think the PM hasn’t told others? I wouldn’t be surprised if MI5 and others already know!”

 

He breathed an inward sigh of relief. She still didn’t know about Bloggs and the squibs.

 

“There are three-hundred and ninety million guns in America alone! That’s two times the population of the entire wizarding world! NATO has more troops than there are wizards and witches in Europe! When they find out, fear and prejudice will take over! Hate will drive them to war and that war will end with the complete and total destruction of the wizarding world! And there will be a lot of collateral damage in-between,” she stressed. “My way; the wizarding world disappears quietly. It rebuilds over time and in full view of the muggles that know they don’t have to fear it!”

 

“It’s still genocide!”

 

“It’s a cleansing. And it’s the only alternative. All out war or my way, pick your poison.”

 

They stayed in those woods for a long time. Talking. Talking about things Albus never thought he’d have to talk about. About ugly truths and terrible facts. It was dark when she finally sent him back to the ministry and he felt changed. His perspective had altered. He’d never looked so deeply at the wizarding world before and now, he couldn’t un-see the things that moved through his mind.

He couldn’t repeat the things she’d forced him to think about. He couldn’t ask them to see things the wat he and Morgana saw them. It would cause more harm than good.

 

But he could tell them who they were up against.

 

So, after hours of absence he finally walked back into the auror office where his mother, father, aunt, uncle and best friend looked at him with stunned relief and told them who they were up against.

 

“Nemesis is Morgan Le Fey.”



Chapter 10: The Ugly Truth
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Stacks of books and dusty old tomes began dumping themselves on a large oval desk after Hermione had summoned them with her wand. Albus, Scorpius, every available member of the auror department and the minister’s main group of helpers had assembled in her office. Naturally Hermione’s first order once the new information had come to light was ‘research’.

 

Now that they knew the Nemesis was in fact Morgan Le Fey, it was time to find out as much as they could about her.

 

The books were from all corners of the archives. Some on Merlin, others on ancient wizarding history, a few research journals written by unspeakables that had studied the veil and lots on the Arthurian legend. Ron made his own contribution by tossing his Morgan Le Fey chocolate frog card next to the pile of books. Everybody grabbed a book at random and started scanning the indexes for anything relating to Morgan.

 

It only took a few seconds of looking for Albus to realize that they weren’t going to be of any help at all.

 

As Morgana had already told him, everything the wizarding world believed about her was a load of crap and all the book seemed to just be regurgitations of that same crap. The only thing they had gotten right and all seemed to agree upon was that Morgana was an indescribably beautiful red-head that could turn into a raven.

 

“This is the useless pile,” Albus said throwing the book to one side of the table before picking up another one.

 

“Well you don’t know that,” Hermione objected. “You didn’t even read the first chapter!”

 

“Didn’t have to. The first page states that Morgana lived in the eleventh century so its margin for error was only four hundred years. Merlin, Arthur and Morgana existed while England was still a heptarchy,” he said.

 

“A what?” Ron asked looking confused. He wasn’t the only one.

 

“It was divided into seven different kingdoms,” his wife said quickly before turning to Albus. “But the earliest stories of Camelot originate in the twelfth century.”

 

“That’s because Merlin erased all the earlier ones from existence. He didn’t want anyone knowing the truth about Morgana, namely that she had found the source of magic,” he sighed and tossed the second book away. “You’re more likely to find proof that kitsunes exist than accurate book about the Arthurian legend in the wizarding world. We should be looking at muggle books, they place Arthur’s reign in the seventh century.”

 

“What’s a kitsune?” Scorpius asked.

 

“A nine-tailed fox spirit from Chinese folklore. Or a sexy animated K-pop singer depending on the medium,” Albus said conversely.

 

“Are we sure that she’s not lying about being Morgana?” Harry asked causing everyone in the room to stop and await an answer.

 

“I’m sure,” Albus said grimly.

 

“How do you know?” Teddy asked.

 

“Because she doesn’t lie to me.”

 

That answer didn’t seem to bring them any comfort whatsoever. In fact, it was quite the opposite. A few of them, including his parents, looked at him with even more concern than before. It was bad enough when Albus had been sitting down for fireside chats with an unknown entity that had taken a bunch of students prisoner in Hogwarts. Now they knew that particular entity was none other than one of the most powerful and feared witches of all time and whom was resolutely considered an enemy by any one on the side of ‘light’.

And the fact that he seemed to know her so well. That he could understand how she thought, how much time he’d spent with her and that he’d even defended her on occasion was clearly rattling them.

 

For the last few months, most of his family and most of the ministry as well, had made it clear that they’d all feel a lot better if Albus turned himself over to the psychiatric ward at St. Mungo’s but now they seemed to be getting ready to forcibly drag him there.

 

Unfortunately, it was yet another example that Morgana was right about many of the things she said about the wizarding world.

He made them uneasy because he was different.

 

It was like they were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. For Albus to snap and join forces with Morgana instead of trying to stop her. His parents were trying to desperately hard to act as if that thought had never crossed their minds, but he knew that it had.

Hell, it had probably crossed the minds of just about everyone in the ministry at some point. The only person that hadn’t was Scorpius who had managed to put up with Albus’ oscillating level of madness for years.

 

“But, now that we all know who she is, does that mean her challenges will stop?” Ginny asked. She couldn’t keep the hopefulness out of the voice.

 

“Nope,” Albus said simply.

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because she’s having too much fun,” he stated. And because she was planning to steal something from the Natural history museum and needed a way to distract me while she does it. He decided not to tell them that part. He couldn’t be sure of who was under her control and who wasn’t.

 

Everyone’s attention was suddenly drawn to the office door. A woman was raising her voice just behind it.

 

“I don’t care! Get out of my way!”

 

The door burst open to reveal a flustered looking auror that was attempting to restrain Anya Zabini who looked downright frightening at that moment.

 

“I’m sorry, Minister,” the auror sighed.

 

“That’s quite already. What can we do for you Anya?” Hermione asked, looking a little confused.

 

“Sorry for the interruption Minister, I just need a quick word with my boyfriend!” she growled.

 

Albus was secretly thankful that Rose wasn’t there to hear Anya say the word ‘boyfriend’ while looking at Scorpius.

 

“Anya,” Scorp tried but didn’t get very far.

 

“What the hell is this?!” she demanded will holding up a small piece of parchment.

 

“It’s for your safety and Hope’s.”

 

“’Go stay with my cousin’?! My cousin lives in Luxembourg!” she yelled.

 

“He’s right, Anya,” Harry weighed in. “You’ve got a new-born and –“

 

“Excuse me auror Potter but I don’t remember asking for your opinion!” Anya snarled which actually caused Harry to look a bit sheepish before she rounded back on Scorpius. “I’m not just going to abandon –“

 

“Morgana Le Fey,” Albus said loudly causing her to pause.

 

“What about her?” she asked looking confused.

 

“Nemesis is Morgana Le Fey,” Scorpius finished.

 

Anya was silent for a moment. She almost seemed to be waiting for one of them to start laughing and admit that it was a joke but when nobody did, her face began to pale.

 

“Shit,” she muttered.

 

“Yes. All kinds of shit is about to hit the fan so maybe a trip to Luxembourg isn’t such a bad idea,” Albus nodded.

 

“But…Albus, if she really is…you don’t stand a chance,” she whispered in horror.

 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t bet on me either,” Albus sighed.

 

“That’s not true,” Scorpius said forcefully. “There is one person that thinks you’ve got a chance against her and that’s her. That’s why she’s trying to keep you occupied all the time.”

 

Albus shrugged. “Well, I suppose if celestial bodies can do it, maybe I’ve got a shot.”

 

“Huh?” Ron couldn’t help grunting.

 

“Binary stars can often play out a sort of David and Goliath situation. If the smaller one is a neutron star it will pull energy away from the larger star until it eventually kills it,” Albus said.

 

“Why do I get the feeling that your ‘Acceptable’ OWL in Astromancy was deliberate?” Hermione asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Because it was,” Albus admitted. “So was Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Herbology, Potions and Divination. I’m surprised you never noticed.”

 

“Adapted,” Scorpius snorted while rolling his eyes.

 

“What?”

 

“His OWL results spell out the word ‘Adapted’,” Scorpius explained. “That wasn’t an accident.”

 

“What…no…you…” Hermione spluttered while she remembered Albus’s OWL results. Then it dawned on her. The shock on her face was mingled with anger. He had made a mockery of the school’s exams! He had done just enough to make sure he got the appropriate grade in order to spell out a word! “The Ordinary wizarding Level exams are one of the most important parts of a young wizard’s education and you decided to use them to play SCRABBLE?!”

 

Albus shrugged again. “Well it’s not like I could play solitaire.”

 

If Hermione were a water pipe then the pressure gauge attached to her head would have just broken and an evacuation of the immediate area would be advised.

 

“I can’t imagine why she likes you so much,” Anya said dryly.

 

“I’m sure she just wants him for his money,” Scorpius remarked. “But, since she is going that route, I’ve got the full-time job of trying to make sure he doesn’t do anything completely suicidal and If I’m terrified for you and Hope at the same time, I think I might actually explode. So please, I’m begging you, just take Hope and leave the country,” he said taking hold of her hands and squeezing them hard.

 

There was a pleading in his eyes that she couldn’t ignore.

 

“I hate this,” she breathed.

 

“So do I,” he said and pulled her into a hug. The two of them seemed to have forgotten that there were several others in the room.

 

“You need to distance yourself from the wizarding world. We both know what she wants,” he said hoarsely.

 

“You two look after each other,” she leaned in close enough to whisper in his ear. “Don’t let her change him. She never wanted to kill him. She wants him on her side. She wants him to be like her.”

 

“I know. But, have you met Albus?” he smiled. “If anyone could annoy an immortal to death, it’s him.”

 

“Is that a compliment? I don’t think that’s a compliment,” Albus said looking around the room for some kind of confirmation. It didn’t come.

 

Most of them were still to stunned by his manipulation of his own OWL grades to give a response.

 

“Believe me, if I could convince Rose, Dom and Melissa to leave as well, I would,” Scorpius said.

 

“So that you two can shoulder this all by yourselves?”

 

“She doesn’t want anyone else shouldering it. These tests are designed for Albus,” he said.

 

“And she will become aggressive if others try to butt in,” Albus confirmed while shooting a warning look at his father.

 

“Truth be told, I don’t think any place is really safe from her at the moment but her main focus seems to be the UK so getting you out of it is a good start,” Scorpius said.

 

“Fine, I’m going!” Anya groaned. “But I’m doing this under protest!”

 

“Yes, I think we all got that,” Albus smirked.

 

“Albus…what ever she offers, what ever she promises you…you can’t give in,” Anya warned. “Even Merlin was afraid of her.”

 

“Fear makes people do awful things,” Albus nodded in a hollow voice.

 

“I’ll owl you once I arrive,” Anya said before giving Scorpius a quick kiss. She gave another audible sigh before heading towards the door. “Look after him. He needs looking after, you know.”

 

“I always do,” Albus smiled.

 

“I wasn’t talking to you,” she remarked before leaving the office.

 

“He’s not my babysitter!” Albus yelled as the door closed.

 

“No, he’s your doctor Watson,” she called back.

 

It was actually a bit worrying that her analogy was so accurate. Albus was Sherlock, Scorpius was Watson which meant Morgana was Moriarty.

 

Sherlock had to die to stop Moriarty.

 

It rattled him. But it also made him think up a new consideration.

 

“She saved me…” he whispered.

 

“When the room of requirement was about to go up?”

 

“She doesn’t want me dead…I wonder how far she’ll go to make sure I don’t die?”

 

“That’s a dangerous line of thought,” Scorpius warned.

 

“Maybe I should put it to the test,” Albus wondered, apparently not hearing Scorpius.

 

“Albus, no!”

 

“Call it a fall-back plan.”

 

“What?! You’re threaten her with suicide?!” Scorpius yelled in outrage. This was exactly what Anya had been talking about. What he had been talking about. Albus really did need someone to steer him away from driving the car off the cliff.

 

He had never been shy about being reckless with his own life. It was Scorps and few others that he worried about. One life sacrificed for a multitude of others was just good math. Of course, Morgana saw things differently. She believed that a mass cleansing was needed. Like Stalin had once said: ‘Death is the solution to all problems.’

 

But Morgana was far from a communist. She was an anarchist. She believed in prosperity through destruction. Like a phoenix that has to self-immolate in order to be reborn.

 

And like any true anarchist, she didn’t need followers. She operated alone. She was taking control of others just because they were a means to an end. Unlike Voldemort, she didn’t want groupies. She just needed puppets. Drones to help her accomplish her goals.

Was he a puppet? Was he playing straight into her hands?

 

It was so damn difficult to know whether or not he was a step ahead of her or a step behind. He had to trust his gut.

But his gut was also telling him that he was a pawn, but maybe not for Morgana.

 

“I need to…”

 

“Go somewhere and talk to yourself, yeah I know,” Scorpius shook his head. “Do even think about putting suicide on the table!”

“No, its not that, something else just occurred to me.”

 

Nobody argued with his departure. The last time he’d disappeared for a while he’d come back with the information of who they were truly up against. He hadn’t told anyone what he and Morgana had talked about in the woods. He knew that information would truly frighten them.

 

This time he really did retreat to one of the ministry bathrooms and made sure to lock the door and hand the ‘cleaning in progress’ sign on the front of it as well so he wouldn’t be disturbed.

 

He pulled out the phone and called the laundromat, once again asking for Mr. Swan whom they had no knowledge of. After a few seconds phone rang with an unknown number.

 

“Albus,” Bloggs voice said.

 

“You knew, didn’t you.”

 

“Could you be more specific?”

 

“You knew Nemesis was Morgana,” he stated.

 

There was a moment of silence before he spoke again.

 

“If I had simply given you that information, she would have realized that you were getting help,” Joe said without guilt.

 

“And then she would have gone looking for where that help was coming from. I get it,” Albus admitted.

 

“We’re not much good to anyone as a smouldering crater in the ground, which is undoubtably what she’d do if she found out about us,” Bloggs said.

 

“How did you find out?”

 

“I killed a lot of Death Eaters in the second war, Albus. While your dad was off hunting Horcruxes, I managed to liberate some of Tom Riddles other prized possessions. Including a journal that belonged to one Merlinius Ambrosius. Voldemort never managed to decode it but we did and let’s just say she’s mentioned more than a few times,” Bloggs explained.

 

“Anything useful in there?”

 

“Not much. It gave us an idea of when she’d bust out but other than that…he never referred to it as the veil. He always just called it ‘the prison’ but I suppose we should have made the connection. He talked about moving something to an underground chamber in Londinium.”

 

“And I’m standing two hundred feet above it.”

 

“Does it really whisper?” Bloggs asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

The disembodied voices of the people on the other side were audible only to people that had been close to death. Just like Thestrals, you could only hear them if you’d witness someone die or been close to death yourself.

 

According to muggle lore, purgatory was a place of waiting. It’s where souls went to wait until they could be judged and sent to either heaven or hell. But apparently some just stayed there. People that just couldn’t realizes or refused to accepted that they were dead. In the wizarding world it wasn’t spoken about much. They put no credence into religion but the place itself was theorized a being real. It’s one of the reasons that the department of mysteries researched death so extensively and it was also believed that ghosts were echoes of the souls still trapped in that place.

 

“As were on the subject of who people really are –“

 

“Albus, my former identity has zero baring on anything that’s happening. I didn’t change my name because I wanted a dictator’s title like Tom Riddle and I don’t hide it because I like to tease people like Morgana. It’s standard practice for someone like me to completely shed their old life,” Bloggs said sounding a little exasperated.

 

“Well, you can’t blame me for being curious.”

 

“You have bigger things to worry about.”

 

“Speaking of…I need you to do something for me,” Albus said rubbing his face. “If I do manage to disrupt her plans, there will be…retaliation. She will not be happy and she will want to…hurt me, in response. I need you to protect the people I care about.”

 

There was another silence on the line before he spoke again.

 

“I’m not sure I can do that, Albus,” he reluctantly admitted. “I have to protect my own…but, I’ll do what I can.”

 

“I don’t know what her response will be but when she realizes that I’m on to her but, she’ll adjust her plans and abruptly end our little game.”

 

“I thought she liked you?”

 

“She won’t kill me. But I’ve seen her lose her temper before. She gets jealous easily and she gets very vindictive when things don’t go her way.”

 

“So, even if you manage to stop her from stealing whatever she’s after from the natural history museum, you’re basically expecting to get your ass kicked shortly after?” Bloggs asked.

 

“Pretty much, yeah,” he said as dread started to build inside him. “But, if I can limit the collateral damage, I’ll take it as a win.”

 

“Well, I see what I can do to help but I can’t guarantee anything.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“One more thing…my intel says you disappeared for four hours. I’m guessing that you came back with more than just her name. What else did you talk about?” Bloggs asked seriously.

 

Albus couldn’t stop himself from jumping into the vault and accessing the memories. The things they had talked about in the woods had altered his whole perspective. Maybe that’s what she wanted or maybe it was just the ugly truth she’d revealed that had done it.

Suddenly he was back there.

 

The setting sun, the chill in the air, the crater that she’d made. It was as real as life.

 

Morgana clicked her fingers and a few logs piled themselves together then burst into flames. She could tell he was cold and with the smallest of movements, she made a pair of fallen trees shoot over and slump down in front of the fire. Seats.

 

“There’s got to be another way,” Albus said, practically begging.

 

“If there was, don’t you think I would have found it?” Morgana stated. “Yes, I’m angry! Yes, I want revenge for what the wizarding world did to me! But do you honestly think genocide was my first pick?”

 

Albus’ brows furled in confusion.

 

“I’ve played out a lot of scenarios, Albus. A clean slate is the only one I can see that will actually solve the problem.”

 

“Muggle integration isn’t a lost cause! It can still be done!” Albus pleaded.

 

“I’m not talking about that…the wizarding world has a sickness…and that sickness takes the form of a cycle of violence and chaos that never ends,” she said. There was a slight desperation in her voice.

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Oh, come on, Albus! You’ve seen it, even if you don’t want to believe it, as none of them do! Hell, you’re named after one of its advocates!”

 

She walked over to one of the logs and sat down, gesturing for him to do the same. He obliged.

 

“In the muggle world, evil is the symptom, not the cause. The cause is hate, prejudice, greed, ignorance and so many other things that spurs people to do evil things. Tyrants and monsters rise and more often than not, they are then defeated, not by good but by other tyrants that want to take their place. The evil of the muggle world goes up and down and it’s scatters all over, like a rash. But…in the wizarding world, it’s different. In the wizarding world, evil culminates. It takes a single form that becomes the defining figure of its era.”

 

Albus couldn’t help but be vividly locked to her every word.

 

“Before Voldemort there was Grindelwald, before Grindelwald there was Corvinus Gaunt, before Corvinus there was Ekrizdis! Herpo the fowl, Emeric the Evil, Salazar Slytherin, Loxias, the list goes on! Sooner or later a dark figure appears that spearheads the drive of evil. And they are always defined by the same thing. The horrible things they did…and the hero that defeated them. One villain after another.”

 

“And you’re the next in line?”

 

“No. I intend to be the last villain. I will end the cycle of infinite chaos!”

 

“So…you’re saying that if I were to somehow defeat you…”

 

“There would just be another villain that steps up to take my place,” she nodded. “Maybe you’ll see it coming, maybe you won’t but make no mistake, they will come.”

 

“It’s interesting that you’re now referring to yourself as the villain,” he remarked.

 

“I’ll be whatever I need to be to get this done!”

 

“And you think wiping out the wizarding world will stop the cycle?”

 

“It’s never been tried before,” she shrugged. “Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Do you honestly think your father was the first ‘chosen one’? Arthur was the chosen one! For every great villain there is a chosen one! Why do you think prophecies exist in the first place?! They don’t predict the future, they just spell out the evitable!”

 

Albus’s body went cold and it had nothing to do with the temperature.

 

“How could your father not fight Riddle?! How could Dumbledore not fight Grindelwald?! That’s not destiny! It’s gravity! It’s the pull of two objects towards one another! Just like you and me.”

 

Albus couldn’t stop himself for looking her in the eye. He was drawn to her and she to him.

 

“I’m the unstoppable force and you’re the immovable object and we just have to smash into each other. And…I want to…I want to collide with you. I can’t think of anything purer than that.”

 

And that was the truth. The ugly truth.

 

He wanted it too.



Chapter 11: Double-Y
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Although the ministry had no actual windows, a bunch of fake ones were littered about the place that had been bewitched into showing different types of weather. They were currently showing bright sunshine and a few fluffy white clouds which couldn’t be further from the real weather outside.

 

The imposing rain storms that the muggle news had been predicting for the last day or so had arrived. London was in the middle of a torrential downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. They were actually predicting hail stones later in the evening which seemed very far away.

 

In fact, if Albus wasn’t a subscriber to relativistic physics, he would have thought that time was hungover or something. Every minute seemed to last about ten. Every hour felt like it needed half a day to tick past.

 

The waiting was killing him. Why hadn’t she called?

 

It was one of those odd human behavioural things. No matter how different he was from others, Albus still experienced emotions the same has everyone else and even though he was dreading what was coming, most of him was just plain anxious. He knew what Morgana was planning, he knew what he had to do and now he just wanted to get on with it.

 

It was the equivalent of pulling off a plaster. You know it’s going to hurt so instead of prolonging the pain, just push through it in one quick moment. Of course, it didn’t always work out that way.

 

Around him, Hermione and the others were still digging through books, looking for information on Morgana. Mostly they were just finding all the crap that had been written about her centuries after the fact. Merlin had done his job well of hiding the truth about her.

 

“I’m guessing she never actually had a kid named Yvain?” Harry asked, looking up from the book he was currently going through.

 

“What, while she was a disembodied soul locked up in the land of the dead? Somehow, I don’t think purgatory has Tinder,” Albus grunted.

 

“So, in other words, this stuff is all useless,” Ron groaned, throwing his book on the table.

 

“We don’t know that Ron,” Hermione chastised. “I know you say that Merlin purposely erased all historical documents about her but he still might have missed something.”

 

“Merlin, legendary genius and the most powerful wizard that ever lived? Missed something?” Ron asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Well, he might have!” she insisted. “Dumbledore made mistakes.”

 

“Dumbledore looked after a school. Merlin looked after the king and the whole bloody country!”

 

“It’s not a competition, Ronald!”

 

There was a knock at the door and a flustered young witch pocked her head through.

 

“I’m sorry, Minister. We’re getting complaints about disapparation in Diagon Alley. Somethings wrong with the wards,” she said.

Hermione sighed and turned to Harry. He raised his eyebrows and held up his hands.

 

“Not my division. That’s magical maintenance,” he said looking like she was trying to give him extra homework.

 

The new warding had been put up in an attempt to prevent the smuggling of items in and out of Knockturn Alley. Mostly people just found them annoying since you had to register for a pass to disapparate in and out of the Alley now or the wards would stop you.

 

“Your division put up the wards,” she reminded.

 

“We have slightly bigger issues right now!”

 

“Fine!” she groaned and turned back to the witch. “Just tell them to take the wards down for the moment, well send someone over to put up new ones as soon as possible.”

 

The rest of the wizarding world didn’t stop just because the ministry was dealing with a crisis. The second war was proof of that given how popular and profitable Weasley Wizard Wheezes had become even after Voldemort came back into the open.

 

“I don’t see why they don’t just use the floo network, there’s more than enough grates,” Hermione said shaking her head.

 

“Depends how much shopping they’ve got with them I spos,” Harry shrugged.

 

“People are panicked after what happened with the train. I think they just want to get in and get out as soon as possible,” Ron said.

 

“How much do the public know?” Scorpius asked.

 

“Well, there’s the usual amount of speculation. Most seem to think that it is some kind of wizarding terrorist group,” Harry said without looking up from the book in front of him.

 

“No one has made the connection to Alex…er…Morgan,” Hermione said grimly.

 

“Morgana,” Albus corrected.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Apparently, Merlin used to call her Morgana,” he said. “Thought Morgan sounded like a boy’s name. It seems Merlin was a bit of a misogynist. Which isn’t really a surprise, given the era he lived in. All women were second-class citizens back then.”

 

Hermione in particular seemed to find that information disquieting. Like most others, she had an image of Merlin that was influenced by a bias history. He was a beacon of freedom and justice and equality. In reality, he was just a very smart, powerful wizard that was struggling to keep a handle on a radically changing kingdom.

 

Albus looked down at the phone again. Still nothing.

 

A few miles away, Joe and his squib army were also doing research but of a different kind.

 

He was sitting behind his desk, typing away on a computer. Behind him, screens with various CCTV feeds from different parts of London switched between images. They were strategically placed in wizarding areas. One was pointed directly at the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, while others surveyed platforms nine and ten of Kings Cross station.

 

Eve entered his office with a tablet in her hand. She presented it to him.

 

“Jodie’s finished the analysis of Potter’s bloodwork,” she said.

 

“Anything mind-blowing in there?”

 

“Not really, one interesting thing though. He’s a double-Y.”

 

Joe’s eyebrows raised. “Is he?”

 

“It could explain a few things,” she shrugged. “Most double-Y’s are perfectly normal but it does usually lead to a growth spurt. Albus’s is slightly taller than his dad. Sometimes they show anti-social behaviour-"

 

“True, but double-Y chromosomes also have a tendency to have learning difficulties, Albus is the complete opposite of that,” Joe stated.

 

“I know. It’s just strange to think that one microscopic difference in his DNA could be responsible for the way he is,” she remarked.

“We’ve never found any link between chromosomes and magical ability. A lot of things are responsible for the way Albus is, I don’t think this is one of them.”

 

“Fair enough. Jodie’s asked if we can get a brain scan off him the next time he comes in.”

 

“I think he might be a little too busy for that, but I’ll ask,” Joe smiled.

 

Eve nodded and took the tablet back. Just before she exited the office she turned to Joe.

 

“Oh, boss?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You know, double-Y’s sometimes show heightened aggression too?” she warned.

 

“I’m aware. I don’t think he needs any help with that either.”



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