A Dark Storm Blows
Peter Pettigrew busied himself with preparing the potion for his master. The Dark Lord was gaining strength by the day and seemed to have risen from near oblivion to have even greater powers than before. Peter tried not to think of his own weakness, his secret guilts that would someday be the death of him. He made an extra effort at being humble and subservient as he walked with the glass of elixir toward the Dark Lord’s chamber. He thought only of serving well and living long. When the Lord had achieved his greatest triumph then he, the loyal and steadfast Peter Pettigrew, would be there with him. The small kernels of remorse he felt on occasion for his betrayals were a price worth paying for the power and glory of what was to come.
He opened the door silently. The Dark Lord was in conference with a young wizard that he didn’t know. Peter wondered at the young boy’s beauty and poise. He had always admired attractiveness or power in others. Voldemort sat in his usual throne-like seat by the fire.
The young man of sixteen sat at his knee facing him. His striking face was perfectly proportioned, his skin the color of antique ivory, his large almond shaped eyes were framed with long dark lashes that only emphasized the beauty of the deep brown almost black eyes that were set beneath the darkest of brows. Peter thought him very handsome.
The Dark Lord’s servant pushed quietly toward them, the elixir mounted on a tray, his head bowed in reference before his lord. He avoided the eye of Lucius Malfoy who lounged nonchalantly in an easy chair in a shadowed corner of the room.
“Is it time already?” demanded his lord. His voice had a higher inhuman sound. He took the vile and sneered at both it and Peter.
The boy bowed and moved his stool farther away to wait while Voldemort guzzled the foul potion. His eyes glowed redder instantly and he coughed. “Leave us,” he said to Peter as he slammed the glass onto the tray so hard that Peter almost lost his balance.
He shuffled reluctantly from the chamber. He was so very curious about the young man. He seemed so very familiar and yet the Dark Lord saw fit to keep the particulars of why the boy had spent the afternoon with them a secret. That in its self was unusual since Peter was his most intimate servant. The secret of the boy’s identity tickled at Peter’s guilt, gnawed at his fear, and offended his ego. Lucius Malfoy knew who the boy was, so why was he left in the dark?
Voldemort waited for his servant to leave before continuing with his instructions. “The diary will be your conduit to me, Barnabus,” he said severely.
“Yes, sir,” said the boy bowing and touching his forehead to the black leather bound volume.
“You must write to me everyday without fail if you wish to see your mother again.”
The boy’s eyes widened.
“Yes, son,” said Voldemort slyly. “She will be freed with the others and you will be repaid for your service to me. Your loyalty and your success will mean your mother shall be free from her incarceration by the evil Ministry.” Voldemort leaned forward and ran a bony finger along the boy’s chin. “She’ll be very proud of what you have done.”
Barnabus trembled in fear and awe at Voldemort’s touch. He was loath to look at the monster but he feared greatly for his mother for he hadn’t seen her in four long years. He steeled himself to acquiesce before the powerful being.
“Mr. Malfoy will escort you back to the school. The full moon is tomorrow and you must be there,” said the Dark Lord fixing his red eyes on Lucius.
Lucius rose silently, languidly holding his cane with his hand and bowing deeply. The Dark Lord smirked. Lucius’ vanity was amusing. Many of his mannerisms were styled specifically to pander to what he believed was expected. He was a laughably plastic creature and yet so very deadly and Voldemort had to concede, indispensable.
“My Lord,” said Lucius. “When I return, I’ll go immediately to my wife and Severus.” He held his head slightly bowed for a reverent touch.
Voldemort looked at him craftily. “Yes, and I wish you to report on her progress. If he cannot successfully bring to us the dragon then he must be seduced to get rid of her. We can’t have her aiding that simpleton, Dumbledore. I am sourly disappointed with Snape’s lack of sexual skill. It should have been easy to seduce the dragon.”
Lucius lifted an eyebrow.
“He cannot kill her himself because of the blood bond,” continued Voldemort. “But he will certainly aid us in trapping her if he only acts as bait. I will be sure and punish him for his failure.”
“He’s still a valuable ally within Dumbledore’s circle,” mused Malfoy. He bowed deeper, to take his leave. “I’ll return in time to assist you in freeing our friends, my lord,” Lucius looked down at the boy’s startled face and smiling crookedly.
“See that you do,” said Voldemort waving both the boy and Lucius off on their journey. The interview was over.
When they were gone, Voldemort starred into the fire thinking. He raised his skeletal head to stare into the shadows beyond where Malfoy had sat as if someone was there. But there was no one there. Voldemort was alone in his thoughts. He was the Dark Lord Voldemort, and truly powerful again after so many years. All that time alone and only his determination had kept him alive. His faithful would be with him again soon. It was only a small matter of waiting for the appropriate time. He had the Dementors ready, able and willing. He had only to prolong the moment for the most possible gain.
He was single-minded in his perseverance of the Potter boy. He was putty in his hands now that he had discovered their connection. He could feel the stupid juvenile mutterings of the insipid teenager whenever he cared to pay attention.
A vague and aggravating problem niggled at the Dark Lord as it always had during the years of his confinement in the forest where he had waited for his followers to find him. The boy was something special, this Potter enigma. He must know the prophesy in its complete form to find out why. Dumbledore thought it important or he wouldn’t protect it so, or the boy for that matter. The boy represented the possibility of failure and he must die for it.
Voldemort was not a person who liked dependency on such nebulous irrationals as fortunes or prophecy but if this one thing was to be his undoing then he must take heed of it. He had nearly lost his own life the night he’d tried to kill the boy before. In fact, the boy had wriggled from his grip numerous times.
It niggled. It tore. It was an idea that he could not have power over, something that had nearly killed him the last time, and something that the boy possessed. And yet, now that he could invade the silly imbecile’s brain, he couldn’t fathom how such an incapable and weak would-be wizard could have the power as a baby to almost defeat him. The answer must be in the prophecy and he must get it. The boy must have some secret power to have avoided his wrath again and again. Something protected this boy. He must hear the prophesy in its entirety and then he would know how to rid himself of this problem.
…There was a power…
… A quirky something that was peculiar to the boy, he thought. His memory tickled, it gnawed and he grappled for a handhold on what this Harry Potter could possibly have that he had not seen before. He’d already glimpsed the familiar within the child’s psyche. There was anger there of such explosion of spirit that he couldn’t help but recognize the vein of it from his own youth. Life had dealt him a similar cruel blow. He, Voldemort, the darkest of wizards had spent his entire life in pursuit of rising above the unfairness and the idiocy of all the rest of them. He had nearly succeeded in purging himself of the memory of his childhood. The imbecile Gryffindor boy’s mind kept reminding him of that same anger of spirit that he had known. He must control the boy by his silly determination to be an idiot hero. He was no Slytherin that was absolutely a surety. Potter’s visions of grandeur were purely Gryffindor and he would fail because of his bravery and his loyalties. He lacked the cunning of Slytherin. He lacked the patience, the determination and the will.
Only Albus Dumbledore stood in his way. A surge of hate welled up in him at the thought of his true enemy. Voldemort enjoyed the moment of his delicious hatred. The boy was merely lucky, and a puppet of the master that was Dumbledore. He would destroy him. He indulged a fantasy of the wreathing pain and agony that he’d inflict upon the wizard before he crushed him. It was joyous.
The endgame had already begun and within a short time Dumbledore would be gone and then no one would stand in his way. Soon they would all be with him again, his powerful followers that he would send out to do his bidding. The sweetness of power that he saw in his future was intoxicating. There were just a few more steps to victory.
Whatever it took, he told himself as he stared into the fire, it would be done and the Slytherin heir, monarch of all and the most powerful wizard that the world had ever known would win it all. Whatever needed to be done, whoever needed to be pushed out of his way, he would see this ended. The weakling child would not see his next Christmas. He was sure of it.
“He's here! He's here!” Kate opened the door wide to Remus and Felicity at the great stone house of the Gray family. “We’re so excited you’ve finally come for the moon!” said the smiling sixteen years old while grabbing Remus’ arm and pulling him inside. She was very different from the shy young girl that he’d first met in the teashop of Wolvin Village. Remus had managed to return several times to visit since then and each time a layer of her shyness had pealed off to reveal her true nature. She’d taken him on as practically an uncle. Kate, like her mother Agatha, was an effervescent personality once you got past her shy front.
She was stopped short at the door by the sight of Felicity smiling at her. “Oh, I didn’t know that you were bringing someone,” she said. The shy front was immediately brought out of her, complete with hunching shoulders and twirling her hair in her fingers. She curtsied to Felicity. “Welcome, miss,” she said quietly.
Remus put his arm about the young girls shoulders to which she smiled adoringly up at him.
“This, my dear,” he said smiling proudly at Felicity, “is Felicity Wood. I predict you and she will be good friends. She teaches Ancient Runes at Hogwarts.
Kate Gray looked at Felicity through lowered lashes with a combination of shyness and suspicion. “Mother never said that you were bringing a friend.”
Felicity giggled at her obvious crush on Remus. He was handsome and charming. What girl wouldn’t have a crush on him? Especially since she was obviously a young werewolf just coming of age.
“I most certainly did so, young lady!” said Agatha Gray bustling up behind them in the hall. “You never listen to a word that I say. Goodness sakes, child! Bring our guests into the parlor! Where are your manners?” She kissed Remus on both cheeks in hello but it was obvious that she was most interested in Felicity. “Welcome! Welcome! Miss Wood!” She grabbed Felicity off the threshold and put her arm in hers leading her to the warm and cozy parlor. The room was gorgeously decorated for Christmas with a beautifully decorated tree standing in the corner of the room and ropes of pine boughs across the red walls.
“I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to meet you! When Remus told me your name I almost fainted with joy!” said Agatha.
Remus looked confused as he followed them into the room. “Do you know Felicity, Agatha?” he asked.
Agatha sat Felicity down on the sofa never letting go of her arm as she settled next to her. “I knew your mother and father in school, my dear.” She patted the surprised Felicity and gave a triumphant look at Remus. “Felicity’s mother was a few years above me in Ravenclaw.” Agatha loved to surprise and tell stories and she was obviously busting at the seams to tell this one. She turned to grin broadly at Felicity. “You look so much like her, my dear that it brings tears to my eyes.” Her teenage daughter who was hovering at the door looking neglected and morose momentarily distracted her. “Run and tell your father that they’ve finally come, Kate! He and Barnabus are out putting the horses in the barn before the snow falls.”
“May I fly out, mother?”
“Yes, yes, of course, dear,” said Agatha impatiently. Kate ran out and down the hall.
Felicity looked a bit overwhelmed by the strength of Agatha’s personality that did indeed seem to fill the room. Remus looked amused and completely at ease. She could tell he loved these people and it warmed her heart. She, too, felt very welcomed. Her dragon self was relishing the familiarity of the werewolf in both Agatha and her daughter.
“Your mother Rita was ahead of me in Ravenclaw, the same year as my brother who was in Gryffindor with your father. I knew them well. Your mother was in her last year when I entered Hogwarts and she immediately took me under her wing. What a gentle soul she had and so smart! Heavens that woman knew more about magic than I ever thought possible.” Agatha patted Felicity again. “I’m so sorry that she’s passed on, my dear, you must miss her.”
Felicity thought of her mother. It was something that she rarely did. Her mother had been kind and beautiful but like her father, Rita Wood had not understood the dragon that she’d become. Her father had been so dominating a personality that her mother always seemed to follow along in all that her husband did. She hadn’t been close to her mother before she’d died. It made her sad. Agatha was such a maternal personality that she suddenly regretted not being close to her mother.
“I spent many years away from my mother in Tibet.” Felicity suddenly felt small and insignificant. “She never really adapted to my transformation.”
“I didn’t tell them, Felicity,” said Remus quietly.
Felicity looked at him surprised.
“I thought you’d like to tell them yourself. I only said that you’d not be endangered at the full moon run.”
Agatha looked expectant. “I’m dying to know, my dear,” she said. “You’re not just a human, I can feel that in you. Are you a Metamorphmagus as our dear Tonks?”
“I’m a dragon.”
Agatha looked surprised, intrigued and gleeful. “Do you transform, my dear?”
“Merlin preserve us, that’s most amazing!” she declared. “I cannot wait to witness it!” She glared at Remus mischievously. “You’re awful to keep it a secret from me, young man. I’ve been giddy with curiosity for weeks!”
“That she has!” said David Gray standing in the doorway. The large man lifted an eyebrow at his wife. “She’s been having kittens wondering if Rita and Roland Wood’s daughter had become a werewolf. She’s been planning your lives for the next few years in anticipation.”
Agatha frowned at her husband. “Don’t tell them that!”
Remus looked almost hopefully at Felicity but she tried not to look for fear that he would see the impossibility of what they were implying. She felt a small tremor of trepidation for her love.
David came in and shook Remus’ hand in greeting and then sat in his chair by the fire to wait for his wife to realize that he hadn’t introduced him yet to the young woman. Kate and a boy of fifteen or so that Remus hadn’t seen before hung at the door.
“She’s a dragon, David! Can you imagine?” said Agatha to her husband.
“Do tell?” He eyed Felicity. “I’ve never heard of an animagus who was a dragon.”
“This is Felicity Wood,” said Remus introducing her where Agatha had failed to. David rose to walk over and shake her hand and then settled his self back in the chair comfortably.
“Well, I’m not really an animagus,” said Felicity in answer to his question. “I’m really a dragon, just as you are wolves but more so. Whereas you have the werewolf in your blood, my heart is a dragon’s heart.”
“Merlin!” said Kate from the doorway, wide-eyed.
“Kate Gray!” admonished Agatha noticing her daughter. “What are you doing hovering like that at the door? Bring Barnabus in properly and introduce him to our guests.” But Agatha didn’t bother waiting for her daughter and launched right into introductions. “This is Barnabus Collins, he’s staying with us over the Christmas Holidays.” The two youngsters entered the room and timidly sat in chairs closet to the door as if they’d bolt from the room if given the chance. Barnabus watched Felicity with unabashed interest. “The poor boy’s parents were killed and he has no other relatives.”
David Gray cleared his throat. “Perhaps Barnabus doesn’t want everyone to know his story, Agatha.”
“Nonsense, dear,” said Agatha oblivious to her husband’s warning.
“I’m curious about you being a dragon, Miss,” asked Kate, beside herself with curiosity. “How do you come by such a thing?”
Felicity looked about the room at the expectant faces. Remus hadn’t been sure about how she would react to the openness of the Gray family circle but she’d never seemed ashamed of her dragon self as he had been of his wolf. He had thought that she’d only kept her true self a secret because she was a teacher at the Hogwarts and under the watchful eye of the Ministry.
“It’s a long story, but I’ll tell you a shorter version of it, I suppose,” said Felicity smiling at Remus. She sensed his uneasiness with his friend’s curiosity but she felt no compunction about telling them about what she was. She told them the story of her accident in Tibet, the monks saving her, and her subsequent training in the healing ways of the dragon people.
“Let me see if I understand you correctly, my dear,” said Agatha when she had reached the end of what she was willing to share. “You heal souls? Actually heal them?”
“Whenever I’m invited and able to, yes,” she answered.
“Why that’s remarkable, simply remarkable. Don’t you think that’s remarkable, dear?” she asked her husband who merely nodded in agreement.
“May we see you transform, Felicity, may we before the full moon?” asked Kate completely forgetting her supposed shyness. “I’d love to see you! Can you fly, too? Oh, I’d so love to see you fly!”
Felicity was suddenly overcome with anticipation of flight in the open air. Tears sprang to her eyes and she looked to Remus with joy and thankfulness. He had given her this chance to spread her wings. “I suppose I could show you my transformation before the full moon,” she said at last. “I would so love to fly. I haven’t been allowed since I’ve been to England and Remus told me that I’ll be protected from the Ministry here.”
“That’s true,” said David looking at Remus with pride. “We’ve no use for the Ministry here.”
Everyone around the room grinned in anticipation of her freedom and the run of the full moon. All save Barnabus, the young man with the beautiful dark eyes and hair who had not said a word but had watched Felicity unceasingly.
Later that evening after dinner, and more talk of events of the world outside Wolvin, Barnabus wrote of Remus and Felicity’s arrival in his new diary. He wrote of the dire warnings that the Dark Lord was planning and how he was coming to Wolvin. He explained how the Dark Lord wanted the protection from the Ministry of the ancient charms about the school. He wrote of the dragon lady and related her story and all that he had heard that night.
As he closed the book, sealing in the message to his master, he felt a pang of regret. The Grays were very kind people and only the thought of his mother languishing in a prison being sucked alive by the Dementors of Azkaban kept him going in his deception. He thought of the dragon woman and hoped that perhaps when his mother had come to claim him, that maybe she would help him heal his own soul. For he would need her curing powers when all was said and done to the village of Wolvin.
Voldemort studied the book for some minutes as Peter Pettigrew bustled about him like a decrepit mother hen. Nagini, Voldemort’s powerful snake lay warming on a rug before the fire. It might have been a picture perfect moment of domesticity if he was not a skeletal fiend or his servant had not looked completely terrified and jumpy at every movement that he made.
Voldemort slammed the book shut and threw it across the room knocking dishes and cutlery from a small far table that Peter had just set for a late supper.
“Is there anything you wish?” gulped Peter, thinking instantly that he was about to experience pain and that he’d done something wrong.
“That dragon is in my way once again!” said the Dark Lord with rage. “She’s finagled my plans for the werewolves out of Snape somehow. The simpleton has failed me. She is too sneaky and strong for him.” He starred darkly into the fire. The dragon had not kept her word. He’d been a fool to believe that she would not help the order.
He sat for many moments relishing the anger and hate within him. Slowly, a new plan emerged. He would crush the dragon, and when the time was right he would be rid of both she and Dumbledore. Nothing would stand in his way, not the dragon, not the muggle loving Dumbledore and not that pip of boy. He would smash the lot of them and rise up greater and stronger then ever before.
He only needed to wait a short while longer.
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