Wild Magic - Part I
Chapter 13 - Emancipated Minor - Wild Magic - Part I
The pain had receded somewhat around Harry's scar, but he could still feel a lingering presence of Voldemort's awareness, and there was this odd… power of suggestion that insisted that Harry needed to go to the Forbidden Forest. Now. He resisted on instinct, and managed to quell that compulsion by summoning the strong feelings of friendship again, the ones that had forced Voldemort out of him at the Ministry. The presence retreated and his scar pain minimized to a nagging prickle again. But he still felt the pull.
And why do I have no strength left…
Severus summoned a numbing salve that he'd developed to combat the pain in his mark should the day ever arrive when he had to openly defy Voldemort's summons. Apparently that day is here, he thought with an involuntary gasp as his left arm began to burn dramatically. The Dark Lord was in a rage, and the pain he was causing Severus to feel was so intense, it was nearly debilitating. The salve would hardly take the edge off of pain like this...
All he could think was, Harry.
Lucius clenched his jaw to fight the yelp of pain forcing its way from his lungs through his throat. He didn't want to frighten Harry any further, after what had just occurred, but the pain in his dark mark was excruciating, and he was having trouble remaining coherent. He was standing a few feet from the sofa, where the Boy Who Lived lay sprawled limply, seeming to be battling consciousness. Lucius stepped closer and dropped to his knees. His instincts wanted him to place a hand on the boy's chest, and say something to reassure Harry, but his free hand was currently clamped to his aching arm, as if to contain the agony within the vessel that was his left appendage.
As if letting go would be a literal letting go of the rest of his life.
"Harry," he rasped. "Are you back with me?"
"Yeah," the boy said weakly. "But he's pulling me away…" Lucius struggled to lean closer to hear Harry's low tone of voice. The teen was staring at the ceiling as he said, "Tell Snape he made a really big difference this last week… It helped."
Lucius could not prevent the gasp that escaped as a particularly acute stab of pain throbbed through his arm. He wasn't understanding what Harry was saying. "He'll be here in a moment, child. Be calm. We'll work things through together."
Harry turned and looked at Lucius. "Thank you for the eyesight spells, Mr. Malfoy. I can see everything. Really clearly," the boy told him. He grimaced and his eyes seemed to lose focus, as if something was going on in his head that distracted him. "Tell my professor that I'm not afraid, and I think I'll be alright. We'll know soon."
And then Harry Potter disappeared from sight.
Severus stumbled out of the floo and saw Lucius lunging at the sofa and a fading view of Harry Potter. He was utterly stunned.
Remus Lupin cast the packing charm, watching his things neatly arrange themselves in his trunks. He had packed his music collection without using magic. Music kept him sane, and his collection was treated with reverence. He had not felt able to listen to any of it since Sirius had died. But he'd loved putting it on during practical lessons with his students in the past, so he imagined he'd be moving beyond this heavy fog of silence soon enough, all to the various rhythms and melodies that set the soundtrack to his life. Remus decided he would go to Hogwarts this afternoon. He did not want to stay another night at Grimmauld Place.
A scroll tied with purple ribbon popped into the space directly in front of Remus. It magically unwound itself and Albus Dumbledore's voice spoke with calm urgency:
"I need your assistance, Remus. If you would be so kind as to go to Hogwarts immediately, I believe there is a situation in progress that will require the Order of the Phoenix. I will see you shortly."
Harry was still laying weakly on his back, but now his surroundings were trees and forest elements, and the surface beneath him was the damp and chilly ground of the Forbidden Forest. It took tremendous effort to turn his head, but when he did, he saw with horror that he'd been transported to the scene that had just revealed itself behind his eyes: Voldemort, standing over a fallen Cornelius Fudge, his enormous pet snake slithering around his legs and flickering her tongue as she assessed her surroundings. Rebecca Chase, still hung suspended in midair, appearing to be conscious but not at all coherent.
Harry's mind spun crazily as he tried to comprehend his situation. He wasn't quite sure he'd been in this spot before, but it had the same sort of terrain detail as the area where Hagrid had penned Grawp. He had a frantic moment of wondering if the smaller giant could help him out of his predicament, but discarded that idea quickly. Chaos would ensue, and Harry's instincts were telling him he actually had a viable plan that would keep the drama quite contained long enough to injure or hinder Tom Riddle. The problem was, it must be in his subconscious because he wasn't aware of making said plan. All he could summon were fleeting hunches about things he could try to do. He forced himself to roll and push up onto his hands and knees.
A harsh, yet tauntingly amused laugh caused Harry to flinch involuntarily, as if an insect had buzzed in his ear. "You are so very helpless, Harry, aren't you?" Riddle said as he slowly toured in a circle around Harry. "Tsk, tsk, so embarrassing for the Boy Who Lived to be down on his hands and knees. But then, you have been treated like a servant all of your young life, haven't you, Harry?"
Harry's anger was sparked by that taunt, and he grasped at the chance to ditch his terror. He's trying to get to me. He struggled to lift his head to glare at the ghastly, evil bastard, but it was too much to ask of himself. Every part of his body felt weighted down, as if he'd depleted his magic again, but he hadn't… had he? Trying to get a real sense of his surroundings, Harry managed to turn his head to the right and cast a glance off in the distance. There was a very visibly shimmering field of magic encasing the clearing he now found himself within. Harry saw no other members of Voldemort's fan club, which was odd… No Bella? No hooded sycophants to chuckle at ol' Tom's wry humor? "What do you want?" Harry rasped. He was pleased at the confident hostility he heard in his own voice.
"I want to have a real conversation with you, Harry," Voldemort informed him in what he probably thought was a reasonable tone. "About what it's like to be a boy who is completely alone. Who belongs to no one." The snake faced wizard was moving ever so slowly closer to Harry. "This is something we have in common, Harry. And I want to show you how to use it to your advantage."
Oh Merlin, Harry thought frantically. The closer Voldemort came to him, the more his scar began to rage with pain. "Keep your distance, then," he yelled. "I don't trust you. All you've ever done is hurt me, so I'm not about to believe you want to help me." Harry had no idea if Voldemort was aware of the pain he was feeling at this moment, but he remembered the way the dark wizard had reveled in some kind of thrill when he'd touched Harry's scar in the graveyard last year.
Harry wished he understood what was actually happening when they were in close physical proximity. Why did it hurt Harry, and excite Tom?
"Oh, the way Severus has helped you?" Voldemort was continuing with feigned interest.
Harry's stomach clenched in fear for Snape. "Well, yeah," Harry said in a flip tone. "He started being nicer. That's all it really takes."
"I'm very unhappy with Severus, Harry," Voldemort told him. "He will pay dearly for his betrayal. As will Lucius."
"And you want me to be upset that you're saying this?" Harry asked, trying to sound indifferent. Voldemort was still circling him, but hadn't come any closer. "You think I trust them now, just because they've acted nice to me?"
"Don't you?" Voldemort said with a tone that told Harry he saw right through Harry's bluff. "They helped keep you out of sight so that you could use muggle channels to gain legal control of your own affairs."
"I would think you'd be okay with that," Harry said. "Fewer people in the way of you getting at me, then." His fear for his two new friends, as Riddle had called them, was growing exponentially, as was the warm presence of his wild magic. Think, Harry, he coaxed himself. He remembered Snape's taunt from the other night: "It's this inner dynamic some of us engage in, you see. It's known as thinking before acting." Oh, Harry had done a lot of thinking about how he would act if he ended up in this situation. He just hadn't had a chance to practice any of the ideas he'd considered.
Harry managed to lift himself further, and sit back onto his heels. Now he could raise his head, still with difficulty, but his strength was returning. He looked over at Rebecca Chase. Her eyes were on him. Her terror was on him.
"You haven't even reached for your wand, Harry," Voldemort commented.
"I'm off the Hogwarts grounds. I'd get in trouble if I used it," Harry said bitterly. "I'm sure you had a laugh about the way the Ministry treated me last summer."
"I did," Voldemort agreed. "Oh, I really did."
Eyeww… the way Tom had said that had reminded Harry of what using his name around a Death Eater did for the evil bastard. And that reminded Harry, oddly enough, of the way Umbridge had seemed to get off on trapping him with her painful detentions, and then speaking to him in that condescendingly "comforting" tone when she'd decided for them both that he'd learned his lesson. It was the creepiest kind of violation he could imagine outside of the cruciatus curse.
Again, the heat beneath his skin flared, this time enhancing the warmth that had already surfaced, adding a level of intensity Harry'd not yet experienced. He felt a surge of power hovering beneath the surface of… well, he wasn't sure what the surface was, but that power was there. The question was, could it make him strong enough to overcome Riddle?
He glanced again at the field of magic enclosing them within this clearing, and this time he noticed an assembly of centaurs on the other side of it.
Severus and Lucius had slathered the balm onto their dark marks, to no avail, and were currently debating with clenched jaws as to why exactly it was that Fawkes did not immediately transport them to Harry's location as Severus had asked.
"There must be a barrier that Fawkes cannot break past," Severus surmised. The answering trill from the phoenix told him he'd been correct. He stroked the bird's head, and was gifted with several tears, which both he and Lucius applied to their dark marks. Their pain receded dramatically.
"Harry was seeing the Dark Lord, but he did not say where he was at present," Lucius told Severus, again remembering what had just transpired. Both older wizards were struggling not to panic at their inability to get to Harry.
Severus' heart was close to breaking as he replayed what Lucius had told him that Harry had said before he'd disappeared. That he'd made a difference. He'd barely begun to do that, and now the boy could very easily be killed, all alone, by the Dark Lord. All alone. Again. He looked at Lucius, saying in a pained voice, "That boy has been up to something, exploring something about his magic that he would not share. I wish I knew-"
The floo roared to life. Lupin stepped through.
"Did Harry confide anything about what he's been practicing with his magic?" Severus demanded.
"He did," Remus said, quickly registering that the crisis did indeed involve Harry. "He said he'd learned how to harness his wild magic - his words. I have no idea why or how he's done so. Or what he can do with it, other than summoning…" He looked back and forth between the two traitors of Voldemort. "What's happened?"
Harry looked over at Madam Chase again, feeling a surging desperation on her behalf, and knew that he had to act. He turned to look at the centaurs, remembering that it was an arrow of theirs that had killed his beloved familiar. The magical field could be the only thing protecting him and Rebecca Chase from their cruelty…
"They have been persuaded to support my interests," Voldemort told Harry.
"Which one of them killed my owl?" Harry asked angrily. The power flared stronger.
"Hmmm, not certain of that, Harry. You see, they all look alike to me."
Harry turned to cast a disgusted glance at the centaurs, actually making eye contact with several of them. "He doesn't even respect your culture!" he yelled at them with disdain. None of them responded. Harry realized they might be under the imperius curse, or the like, because they weren't exuding their usual haughty annoyance at the sight of him.
Voldemort laughed again. He'd stopped moving, and now stood directly in front of Harry. Madam Chase was hovering several yards away. The snake still slithered and coiled around its master's feet, always moving, tongue always flickering.
"Now, Harry, back to our earlier conversation," Riddle resumed. "Do you remember the way it felt to attack that red-headed blood traitor at the Ministry? Do you remember the taste of his blood? We shared that moment, didn't we? All three of us. You recall the pleasure of expressing our power, do you not, Harry?"
"Our power?" Harry spat angrily at him? "Is that what you think I was doing?" He rocked back onto his heels and slowly stood. Somewhere to his left, he heard repeated cracks of apparation. He wondered who was arriving to help - Death Eaters? Or Order members? "I was in a dream state. I would never have voluntarily joined in your fun. I'm not like you, Tom," he said firmly. "You can fantasize all that you wish, but I am not like you. I will never be like you."
"Stupid boy," Riddle said harshly. "You only exist because I do."
"Right," Harry said as if he knew something Riddle did not. Wish I did know something more… He kept his eyes on the human form of Voldemort, but never met the evil wizard's glare, hoping he could prevent the intrusion of Legilimency that was undoubtedly due to occur.
As if the thought had triggered the action, Harry felt a probing sensation within his mind. It was even more harsh than Snape's invasions had been, and Harry reacted with defensive rage. Get out! He used his wrath to motivate the depth of feeling he was bringing up when he locked his eyes on Voldemort's and showed him the warm hug he'd shared with Snape after they'd returned from meeting with Rebecca Chase. Harry felt the rush of happiness, and another, far deeper emotion that he'd not yet acknowledged he was feeling for Snape. It was the admiration and love a son feels for his father. Voldemort responded visibly, his revulsion causing a physically debilitating reaction that forced him to stumble backwards.
Now! Harry thought.
He imagined Voldemort encased in ice, letting the heat of his power flow through his body, and into his mind to surround the vision. Harry was aware that the evil wizard had grown very still as he kept his eyes trained on Voldemort's chest, but his attention was set to imagining that the ice was now turning to a smooth, but brittle porcelain. Next he was levitating the statue of the dark Lord Voldemort that he'd just created, and it was floating higher, and higher, and higher. The magical barrier around them had released when Harry had begun his attack, and he felt a surge of physical strength join in with his concentration. The statue hovered high above the surrounding treetops. He drew his wand.
"Bombarda!" he shouted, casting the most forceful blasting spell he could muster, watching in awe as the porcelain statue shattered into marble sized pieces that rained down, all around him, and onto the clearing.
"Harry!" Several voices shouted in unison.
"Banish him!" Harry shouted frantically. "Each of you - to different places!"
Harry cast a banishing spell to a section of the Dark Lord's detritus, visualizing it going to the bottom of the lake. He was vaguely aware of several other wizards following suit in his periphery. But his knees buckled and he collapsed, having once again drained his magic. On his back, on the ground once more, Harry felt tears draining from his eyes, leaving cold tracks on the sides of his face as he stared up at the sky. The snake! Rebecca Chase! But he was helpless again, and could not move. Did I just kill him?
Shouts of alarm and the noise of magical shields and defensive curses ensued for several moments. Harry saw a few arrows fly over his head, and knew at once that the centaurs were attacking. Why are they doing that? he wondered sadly.
"ENOUGH!" It was Dumbledore. And he was enraged.
Harry heard what sounded like a ferocious wind hurl through the air, followed by the sound of stampeding hooves, tearing off into the distance. He closed his eyes. A gentle knuckle smoothed away the moisture on the side of Harry's face. "I'm okay," he said brokenly, without opening his eyes. "Please help Madam Chase."
"Severus is with her, Harry, not to worry," it was Lucius Malfoy's voice.
Harry felt himself being gathered into strong arms and lifted. "I don't want to go to the hospital wing," he said. "Please? I just want to go back to the common room." He began to slip into deep slumber. He felt a kiss press onto his forehead, near his scar.
"Hush, child," Malfoy was saying. He'd ducked his head down to briefly press his cheek against Harry's. "I'll take you where you want to go." He began to walk with Harry, and after a few minutes of hiking over uneven terrain, he added, "I'll likely worship the ground you walk on for the rest of my days."
"Is he hurt, Lucius?" Harry heard Remus call from a short distance away.
"He's drained his magic," Lucius returned. "I believe he's otherwise uninjured. I'm taking him to his common room."
When Harry next opened his eyes and regained awareness, he felt depleted and weak, still laying on his back on the sofa, where he'd stayed since Mr. Malfoy had laid him there. Snape was kneeling on the floor beside the sofa, assessing him with a concerned look. "Tell me what you know, Harry," he said.
Harry blinked at the prickling of moisture in the corners of his eyes. Stop crying! he berated himself. It's over! For now, anyway. But the sight of his professor had brought up the emotion, and he realized he was reacting to a sense of safety with Snape being near. Remus and Malfoy Sr. had moved into Harry's line of vision. Harry looked back at Snape. "He had a stronger presence in my head than we'd realized. I pushed him away as soon as I could, but he saw Mr. Malfoy through my eyes."
"Oh, that much was quite certain, Harry," Malfoy told him through a clenched jaw. "I could see his ugly red eyes where your far more gorgeous green ones should have been."
"He pulled me to him, sir," Harry told Snape.
Harry watched Snape take that in and saw how much it unsettled him. Harry was starting to feel sick. "Did I kill him?" he asked. He didn't want to hear the answer.
"I believe you've destroyed his body, Harry," Headmaster Dumbledore said. He was circling around to the back side of the sofa so that he could see Harry better. "The body that was reconstituted in the cauldron last spring."
"Am I a murderer?" Harry asked in alarm. He looked back at Snape, his eyes spilling over and a repulsed sob struggling upward.
"Hush," Snape said gently. A second later, the older wizard had slid his arm under Harry's back and pulled him up into a hug. "You're alright, Harry," Snape assured him, cupping his other hand behind Harry's head and pressing gently until Harry relaxed and lay his cheek against his professor's shoulder.
Harry clung to the older wizard, burrowing into the man's chest, hiding his face while he struggled with the enormity of what he'd done today.
"Do not conclude anything definitively, Harry," Dumbledore said gently, he too was now reaching out to Harry, placing a hand on one of the arms Harry had wrapped around Snape's back. "These most recent events have caused me to question conclusions I'd made previously. I am no longer certain that what was walking around in the form of Lord Voldemort was anything we could truly call human. I don't know if that helps, but at the very least, you must not turn on yourself."
"Madam Chase is doing fine. She is with Madam Pomfrey, and I will escort her home when she's ready for release," Snape spoke into Harry's hair. "We do not have to determine any facts just now. I think it's safe to say that you've taken the Dark Lord on, just like you'd intended, and you've bought us the time we'll need to find a way to destroy him completely." He tightened his arms around Harry. "For the moment, you need only recover from your experience."