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Old August 1st, 2011, 7:31 pm
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Join Date: 02nd August 2007
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Age: 50
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era PART II

Chapter 9 – Who Am I, Really?

“Wake up, Al. We’re burning daylight.” The flap of his tent was flipped open abruptly and Albus Severus Potter groaned to himself and rubbed the sleep from eyes. He turned his wrist and stared at his watch and winced as he saw it was few minutes after five in the morning.

“Burning daylight? What daylight?” Through sleep blurred eyes, he saw the broad smile of John McBryde, one of his traveling companions.

“Get up, already. We’ve got to get going or we won’t get back before dark.” McBryde was a tall, African American from Dayton, OH. He had a broad chest and thick arms and Albus’ roommate at Columbia. It was at his insistence that Albus had decided to change his plans to go home for the holidays and go on a camping trip through the most remote parts of the Appalachian Trail. Not for the first time, Albus wondered if he’d made the right decision. He nodded his head and waved his friend away.

Quietly, Albus moved to the tent opening and pulled it close. He reached into his bag and pulled his wand and held it in the air. With a few quick, mumbled words, the tent flap sealed and the tent itself suddenly expanded into a spacious, open air environment.

“That’s better.” He moved quickly, without speaking and showered and dressed. It wouldn’t do for one of his friends to try to open the tent and goose him further. He packed his pack and kit for the climb. After a look around, he drew his wand and returned his tent to its muggle parameters and walked through the flap.

The brisk cold of the late fall morning permeated his bones, even through his insulated jacket. Albus was tall and lanky, a testimony to his mother’s side of the family. His shoulders seemed wider than they were, due to his mother’s constant insistence that he stand straight up and throw his shoulders back, instead of resorting to the traditional slump that usually accompanied taller people. His hair was a wild tangle in jet black. No matter how hard he worked to rein it in, regardless of the number haircuts he had, Albus could simply not control his hair. The other gift he received from his father (and his grandmother, for that matter) was his eyes. They were dark shade of viridian, piercing and soft at the same time. Unlike his father, Albus did not wear glasses, so his eyes weren’t framed or hidden behind appliances. They were open to the world, and generally intense. The blazed coolly, like a glacier in winter when Albus was upset and enveloped those around like a warm embrace, whenever Albus was happy. Their sheer intensity often overwhelmed those around him and he’d taken to being withdrawn and shy in large groups.

His roommate, John McBryde, was Albus’ polar opposite in personality and exuberance. It was as if the computer at the housing office programmed to find divergent personalities and ensure that they became roommates. John was everything Albus was not. Popular, outgoing and outwardly unmoved by spectacle and limelight, John was studying to pre-law and was well on his way to being a flamboyant trial attorney. For some reason, the two men got along well. They complemented each other’s strengths, although it pained John that Albus didn’t seem to take to people well. John seemed to fly through girlfriends, often having dates with two, even three different women on any given weekend. Not to be deterred, John insisted on including Albus in attending parties, going out to clubs or to sporting events, making sure Albus was included in John’s wide circle of friends.

All of John’s efforts culminated in this winter trip to the mountains. They were with a group of people John knew through his law studies. All were law students, most having parents who were accomplished practicing attorneys in their own right. Albus found them intimidating. Almost all of them seemed overly self-assured and confident, seemingly bred to greatness and success. Albus felt he didn’t fit in with them, and for their part, none of them seemed to go out of their way to bring him into their circle. But they wanted to be around John. John exuded greatness. They wanted to be part of that greatness. They wanted to be part of whatever circle of success that John would most assuredly be part of. So, they accepted Albus, in a way, if only to be part of John’s circle.

Albus walked out towards the fire. He saw John heading down the trail towards one of the bathroom lodges that dotted the campsite. As he neared, four of the group was huddled around the fire, their backs to him. Two girls and two boys were talking in low tones, their hands held near the fire against the bitter cold of the morning. Jenny Colber was a plain-faced blonde girl whose father was a founder in one of Boston’s more prestigious law firms. It had been a veritable scandal that she’d chosen Columbia over Harvard. Anne Forester was her best friend. Coincidentally, Anne’s father was Mr. Colber’s partner in the law firm. Hunter Reynolds was thin, short man whose bout with male pattern baldness had begun when he was sixteen. To compensate, he’d shaved his thinning brown hair off completely and steam was rising off his bare head in the morning mist. Kyle Fratelli was the scion of an old Philadelphia family who were both lawyers and politicians. He was a large boy, and his bright orange quilted snow jacket made him look like a parade float. Whispers of their conversation drifted to Albus before they could see him.

“He’s just weird, Jenny.” Hunter’s reedy voice seemed louder than it really was. “No one knows anything about him. Let’s face it, ‘Potter’ is a common name, even for England.”

“Yeah, and do you see his clothes?” Kyle was particularly conscious of brands and names on the labels of clothing. “Not a decent label on a stitch. He dresses so…common.”

“Well I heard he’s here on scholarship.” Anne’s nasal inflection made the word “scholarship” sound like an epithet. “I don’t know what John sees in him.”

Jenny Colber had been silent. She sighed and with a shrill giggle, shrugged her shoulders. “He’s just a passing fad for John. You know how he takes on some sort of charity project until he gets bored, and then he goes on the next one. Think of little Al as his pro bono work for the year.”

The group laughed together. Albus stood for a moment and then cleared his throat. The people around the fire grew silent, unsure of how much Albus had heard. Albus nodded to them and sat at the fire and stared at them. The cold ice of his green eyes stopped all thoughts of conversation. The silence grew longer and awkward. None could meet his stare until John’s voice echoed from nearby.

“Morning everyone!” John drew up to the fire and sat next Albus. “It’s great to see everyone up. Let’s go! It’s going to be great day.”

Albus stood and looked over at Jenny Colber, locking eyes with her, allaying all doubts. She knew he’d heard every word. After a moment, Albus hitched his daypack to his shoulders and followed John down the trail.

***
The cell was long and narrow, very much like a train car. The walls and floor were gray, dismal, yet clean. On one side, a narrow cot stood made, its blankets folded with sharp creases, its single pillow fluffed as much as it could. At the end of the cell was a metal desk with a single, wooden chair. The man seated in the chair rose as the cell door opened and Harry and Jimmy Peakes walked in.

Lucius Malfoy looked thirty years older. The once smooth skin of his face was corded with wrinkles and his eyes were gaunt. He looked tired and worn, yet his gray eyes still held fire. Almost automatically, he assumed a pose of superiority, his nose rising ever so slightly into the air. His platinum white hair was pulled into a tight ponytail, nary a strand out of place and Harry couldn’t tell which was original color and which had paled due to age and incarceration. Harry fought down a smile. Lucius Malfoy had lost much in life, but he hadn’t lost his arrogance.

“Ah, Potter, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” Malfoy put his hands behind his back and stood tall. “No doubt, you will want to explain the change in my routine over these past few weeks?”

“Sit down, Lucius.” Harry crossed his arms and stared Malfoy down. Malfoy thought about defying Harry. Then, as if thinking such an approach would only prolong Harry’s visit, sat down.

“Now then, Lucius,” Malfoy winced at Harry’s casual use of his name, but remained tight lipped. Harry continued. “As it happens, the prison has been under attack, but you know that, don’t you?”

“It’s hard to ignore the sounds of killing curses and explosions.” Lucius conceded. “I can only hope that your muggle-loving government has run into a bit of trouble. The mudbloods getting a bit unappreciative, are they?”

Harry wanted to knock the smug grin from Malfoy’s face, but held back. Instead, Harry smiled.

“Actually, we changed governments a few months back. We have a new Minister of Magic.”

Malfoy sneered. “No doubt, he’s a muggle.”

“Worse, he’s Irish.” Harry laughed at the look of incomprehension on Malfoy’s face. “But the real problem is who has been attacking Ministry officials and who attacked this prison.”

“What has that to do with me?” Malfoy asked , a look of genuine curiosity crossing his face.

“Well, now that you ask, why don’t I show you?” Harry turned to the open door. “Bring in the prisoner.”

Mortimer pushed the captured dark wizard through the door. His hands were bound in front of him and a leather gag was covering his mouth, but there was no doubt who he appeared to be. He was the younger version of the cell’s sole occupant. The older Malfoy gasped audibly and rose from his chair.

“What is this? What are you playing at, Potter?” Gray eyes met gray eyes. The younger doppelganger didn’t seem surprised, yet there was a definite look of shock and fear on his face. He squirmed and fought against Mortimer’s grasp. Harry reached up and pulled off the prisoner’s gag.

“I thought you two should meet. You seem to have very much in common.” Harry watched the prisoner’s face. There was definitely terror in his eyes. Then Harry turned to Malfoy. “This man, and men like him have been attacking us. They claim the Dark Lord is back. What do you know of this?”

Malfoy seemed at a loss and then he turned to Harry. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Abruptly, he pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and displayed his dark mark tattoo. It was faint and faded, barely discernable. “I would know if the dark lord had returned, whether I wanted to or not.” Lucius then placed the tip of his cold finger against Harry’s forehead. “And so would you.”

Harry recoiled slightly. It was true, he’d felt a tingling in his scar, but not as painful, not as distinct as before. Harry wondered if it was simply an unconscious reaction to the situation. Malfoy’s scar was clearly not active, which gave Harry an idea. He turned to the prisoner and pulled up the sleeve of his robe, exposing his forearm.

He had a tattoo, but not a dark mark. It was a small circle, with two broken straight lines in the center. Harry recognized it immediately but his brain refused to believe his eyes. In his hesitation, the younger Malfoy began to laugh.

“The Dark Lord is back, only he’s not the charlatan you know. He’s not that failure of a wizard, Voldemort!”

Lucius Malfoy had no reason to be offended. Voldemort had nearly killed his son, had nearly killed him, yet years of devotion were ingrained. He ran forward and grabbed the younger Malfoy by the throat.

“How dare you speak of my lord in that manner!”

The young man screamed. It was a shrill, piercing cry of utter horror and pain. Harry grabbed Lucius and pulled him off the man. Mortimer was thrown backwards as the bindings on the man’s wrist snapped and the man threw his arms outward. His skin began to crack and harden. Light burst from his eyes and ears and his shouts of pain grew harsher and louder, echoing maddeningly in the small room. His body shimmered and then crackled, his voice grew steadily silent and then there was one sudden blast of blinding light and then, silence.

Harry’s vision cleared and he stared at what was left of the younger Malfoy. Where he once stood, there was a dead, gray tree. On its surface, there was the etched figure of the man who had been there. Harry moved forward and ran his fingers along the carved features of the man’s face in the tree. The surface was warm, yet brittle. Pieces of bark broke off in Harry’s fingers. Then, there was a snap. The center of the tree trunk cracked open and a small, gray figure fell to the floor from the crevice in the trunk.

The creature was furry, with bits of leather skin connecting its hands to its feet, like a bat’s wings. Its eyes were bright red, open, even in death, lacking lids. It had a small, gnome-like mouth with razor sharp teeth. It lay on the floor, unmoving, dead as far as Harry could tell.

Mortimer drew closer and stared at the tree and then the strange body on the floor. “What is it?”

“I don’t know.” Harry responded, afraid to touch the small creature.

“It’s an aswang.” Harry turned. Lucius Malfoy was seated in his chair, his hands shaking in front of him.

Harry looked at the creature and then at Malfoy. “Aswang? What’s an aswang?”

Lucius took a deep breath. “The dark lord had shown interest in them in the early days. They were found in the Philippines. They’re shape shifters of a sort. They’re more parasitic. They take the form of someone and become that person. The dark lord was looking at using them instead of relying on the Imperious Curse or Polyjuice potion.”

“How do they copy their host?” Harry asked.

Malfoy shrugged his shoulders. “They drink blood. They’re also vampiric.”

“How the heck did they know to copy Malfoy?” Jimmy Peakes had finally recovered his voice. “None of those things has gotten in here, I can tell you that.”

Malfoy exhaled loudly. “Part of becoming a death eater, part of giving your allegiance to the dark lord requires the servant to give blood, to be drained in order to receive your dark mark. You’ve seen part of the process, Potter.”

Harry spared a glance to the long scar that marked his left forearm. Then Harry turned to Lucius. “You said Voldemort looked at using them, why didn’t he?”

“They couldn’t be controlled.”

Harry snorted. “You mean, he couldn’t figure out how to control them.” Malfoy remained silent, confirming Harry’s suspicion.

“Well someone figured out how to control them and is using them now.” Mortimer said. “How do we figure out who?”

The question hung in the air as Harry looked back the wood carving that had been a young Lucius Malfoy. His gaze fell upon the etched remains of the being’s arm, the tattoo had been preserved in relief.

“I don’t know who is behind all this, but I know where to start.”

Mortimer followed Harry’s gaze. “Where?”

Harry pointed to the symbol in the circle, the two interlaced broken lines. It was a symbol of racial purity, arrogance and true evil. It was a swastika.

“We find out when in his life Tom Riddle talked to the Nazis.”


A/N: Kind of a long winded chapter. I know. I had to bring Albus in, because he'll have a part. We're getting there. More to come this week.

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My Fanfics:
A History of Magic: Part II - Beyond the Epilogue
Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)
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