The phone buzzed with a reply.
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!”
“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.”
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