Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 25

01102014-03102014

25

They stood at the front of the house, looking out the narrow windows to either side of the door. It seemed calm enough outside. Viktor looked uneasy, though. “Have your bracelet ready, just in case.”

Harry nodded and found it, then made sure it was easily accessible. They slipped out the door and started walking, keeping a sharp eye out for any trouble headed their way, and managed to make it to the shop without any finding them. There were times when he saw flames in the distance or heard the sounds of voices raised in anger, which caused them to use their bracelets.

He was startled to realize he was shaking as he opened the shop’s back door. He quickly stepped inside, removed and stowed the bracelet, then extended his hand through the door for Viktor to clasp so he could pull him in. An easy enough task, but one that, at that moment, struck him as being too lax. Had he been in full flight a muggle could have grabbed hold of him and been carried inside. Viktor seemed to be thinking much the same given his unhappy frown.

Harry closed the door and breathed out a sigh of relief. At least getting back was easier; they could simply use their portkeys. He led the way into the storeroom and looked around, idly wondering how Draco was handling things, and Luna. Surely Dudley was in some kind of communication with them. Spying a box full of blank parchment he said, “I guess these could be transfigured into boxes if necessary. We can call Pelk to move them. He’s never been in here so it’s not like we could have sent him—or Mary.”

“There are plenty of crates here, but yes,” Viktor replied. “Depends on how much there is to pack and how many of these are empty.”

With that they got to work, checking the inventory in both shop rooms. One was a front of sorts, with items that muggles might purchase, but could often still be used by wizards. The other was purely magical in nature. Every few boxes filled saw one of them calling for Pelk to transport them to the sepulcher, and they were careful to mark them based on contents and which side they belonged to.

Harry also tracked down all of Severus’s files and had those sent along. Only once they were certain the place was cleaned out did they return home, tired and out of sorts. Severus and Tom were nowhere to be seen; he assumed they were sleeping. When they went upstairs to shower there was a letter waiting on the bed.

Viktor picked it up and immediately opened it. He sat down on the edge of the bed as he read, and finally looked up. “They’re fine. They’re far enough out that they’ve seen very little in terms of discord. Father says he’s already seeing about strengthening the wards. A part of me wonders if I should ask to see if they’d be willing to have the implants done.”

Harry exhaled heavily. “Well, would they get involved in the fighting? I can definitely see the ones for radiation sickness, and the sooner the better. Plants blew all over the place. Hell, we don’t know what’s going to happen to the animal population. We may all have to become vegetarians. Your sister doesn’t even have to know.”

“True. I can only hope the Japanese are spreading the information about how to help with that part of things, assuming there’s anyone not already too busy dealing with their own crises. I expect it would look awfully strange for an anonymous letter to end up at various wizarding papers, and while someone such as Lucius Malfoy might get away with it in Britain I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the reports, people accused him of being in league with Grindelwald because of his past associations.”

“Speaking of which, I have to wonder if Tom has bothered to offer protection to the Malfoys in any way. But wizards can at least deal with fallout for the most part, unlike the muggles.” He began stripping down, pulling the enchanted “pockets” out of the normal pockets designed to hold them and setting them aside. Everything else was pitched into the hamper.

Viktor joined him and shortly thereafter they were cleaned up and re-geared, and back downstairs. Harry went through what papers they did have while Viktor wrote a follow-up letter to his parents. Dumbledore had announced his retirement from all but the headship of Hogwarts due to the damage he suffered. That might or might not end up being a good thing. Tom’s memories of the man were particularly uncomplimentary and usually scathing in their emotional overtones.

The old man had fingers in many pies, but how much actual work he did was up for debate. It could also be argued that the ICW would not have been attacked if Dumbledore were not an important member of it. Likewise, it could be argued that students at Hogwarts were now in more danger because the man would always be there. Bisera and Luna should be safe enough at Durmstrang during the upcoming school year. Grindelwald’s attack was probably a one-off. That did not mean he wouldn’t push for permanent, bonded portkeys for them.

Grindelwald was everywhere, though, or his influence was. Muggles were dying in droves. Despite having back-up generators there were many dead in hospitals alone. Victims of riots, looting, and break-ins just added to the number. And the magical population? Acting almost normal when not displaying all the characteristics of stunned fish. There were times, he thought, that the difference was subtle.

Where did one even start? Nurmengard? “I’m going to see if Serana is in the sepulcher,” he told Viktor. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

Viktor nodded so he headed out. Valdis was happy to receive him, but Serana was not lurking. For all he knew she was taking advantage of the mayhem to get the supplies for a whole lot of Potions of Blood. If people were dying anyway, all over, then why not harvest their blood to make potions as an alternative to drinking from those people directly? And to have a supply anywhere she went, within seconds, rather than hunting down a victim? It’s what he would be doing, he thought.

“What were you interested in?” Valdis asked, eyes flickering to one of his tattoos for a split second when he reached up to scratch his neck.

“Symbols, actually,” he replied. “You’ve obviously noticed the one Akatosh put on me. Hermaeus Mora did as well. But what I mean is—for instance, we have goblins at the banks, clans of orcs and trolls and giants. Would any of them devote time to worship, and if so, would I be able to recognize that by any symbols present.”

“You’re thinking back to my stories regarding the Orsimer of Nirn?” she said, a bit uncertainly.

“Kind of. I mean, goblins always try to stay out of things after all those damn wars. But if we knew they worshiped a specific Daedric Lord? If I knew what any symbols looked like I might at least have an idea how various groups might react.”

Valdis looked thoughtful at that. “I could see how, possibly, having Hircine’s favor might help with were-creatures. At least, more so here than it would have been on Nirn. We were more of a brotherhood and family as opposed to a hierarchical pack. Here it might have some meaning.”

“You were never marked by any?”

She shook her head. “But then, everyone was aware of them, by various names. Some could even recognize the artifacts I carried. I sincerely doubt the humans of this world would. Those of creature blood, however, may well see those tattoos and understand exactly what they mean. I could see, for instance, these veela being devotees of Dibella—perhaps Mara. Do none of the books you copied from Hrothgar have examples of the symbols?”

He grimaced in chagrin. Unfortunately, he had not gained mastery in Occlumency until after he had plowed through a lot of those books. He would simply have to check them again, first skimming them for images, and going back for a closer look should that tactic fail.

“All these crates and boxes?” she asked.

He explained briefly, then said, “I’ll look over those books again. Thank you.” She smiled as he went to turn away, and he made for the door. Outside he was greatly surprised to see a dragon sitting there calmly and for a moment his hands twitched.

Drem yol lok.”

Drem yol lok,” Harry said in kind. “What brings you here?” He had his suspicions, but. . . .

“You have grown zol mul,” Paarthurnax said. “The sky is filled with the tinvaak of dov. You yourself have defeated one sulle ago.”

Geh. Bormahu wished me to be tested and allowed Hermaeus Mora to do so. It was a side effect of being pitted against Miraak in Apocrypha who, before I got close enough to fight him, had sent a dragon against me on Earth to try to win that way. That would be what you heard, I expect.”

Geh. And you have somehow learned pogaas since first we met.” The dragon’s head shifted to eye the sepulcher.

Valdis was just then emerging, a smile on her ghostly countenance. “Drem yol lok.” She drifted to a stop next to Harry and said, “He has. I taught him everything I know.”

The sound of the back door slamming came to their ears and Harry turned to see Viktor headed their way at a fast clip. He reached out his hand in invitation and took his husband’s, partly to calm him down. “Viktor, this is Paarthurnax,” he said carefully. “You remember me telling you about him?”

“. . .Ah, yes,” Viktor said slowly. “Greetings.”

Harry nodded slightly. “Paarthurnax, ahmuli Viktor. Anyway, geh, Valdis has taught me everything she possibly can over the years, and it came it handy just recently. Reports we’ve read state that dov have been seen attacking all over, though mostly in Europe. I’m going to assume that those are the ones who don’t look to you for wisdom.”

The dragon dipped his head slowly in a nod. “Geh. I will begin again my attempts at reason. Should you wish to speak with me you have but to return to Hrothgar and take the way behind. You have the tinvaak, the Thu’um, you need to brave the journey.” Paarthurnax backed up carefully and launched himself, flying away with an amazing lack of sound. Within moments he was lost to sight.

Viktor exhaled heavily.

“I’m guessing you realized a dragon was here and freaked out,” Harry said to him, a fond smile on his lips.

“Of course. But with the lack of horror-inducing noises I had to hope it was not a hostile visit.”

“He was just checking in,” Harry assured him.

“Now that you have need of it,” Valdis said, “I am reminded of an amulet amongst my things. It will allow you to use Thu’um more frequently.”

“Oh?” he said. They followed her back into the sepulcher and he took the item she indicated and pulled the cord over his head, then held it and focused. “Ah, I see. Thank you. Yeah, I can see why you didn’t bother mentioning it before. All right, I guess it’s back to the books for ideas.”

He explained on the way back into the house what he was after and Viktor promised to help. In the ground floor library Harry hunted down the right set of books and started in with the first book of the set, slumping into a chair to read. Pelk eventually wandered by to urge them off to lunch.

“So, how’d it go?” his mother asked once they were all served.

“Fine,” he said. “Viktor and I cleared the place out and had Pelk store everything with Valdis for the moment. Paarthurnax stopped by, too. Seems he was curious about the dragon episode given that I used Shouts I shouldn’t know, but I guess he didn’t feel like flying all the way to Bulgaria to investigate. He didn’t seem all that surprised that Valdis was here.”

“Speaking of which,” Viktor said, “what did he mean about you having the Thu’um to meet with him?”

“Oh, I guess much like there was on Nirn there’s a path back behind Hrothgar that leads up to the peak, where Paarthurnax usually stays, but you need a particular Shout in order to get there according to Valdis. I suppose I could use it in a snowstorm, too, or heavy rain, to clear things up briefly.”

“Well, Tom and Severus will see about the shop after it gets dark,” his mother said. “Worst case is customers can’t actually visit and it’s all done by owl post. The papers have been so busy reporting about the muggles that I’m not even sure if it’s safe to go to Trondheim. As soon as we heard about the attack on the ICW I sent Mary to go stock up so we have plenty here.”

“I already got in touch with my parents,” Viktor said before she could ask. “They’re fine right now and working on updating the wards.”

“Good.”

Several days later Tom was recovered and had two things to discuss with the family. The first thing he did was show them a long piece of metal partially cut so it could be snapped along the score lines. “For years now I have been working on something in my spare time, that being a fortress of sorts.”

Harry blinked slowly at the news, but supposed it wasn’t terribly outrageous. And now he had some idea what Tom had been doing when not with them.

“This is a special portkey in the sense that all of you can bond it at the same time, and when it’s separated into individual portkeys they will work for any combination of you. Such as, in the event that one of you has been knocked unconscious and are unable to activate yours, someone else can drag you along. Viktor, I can send one to your family, but it might be better for you to deliver it and explain.”

Viktor nodded.

“The fortress is massive and includes numerous suites, plus a multilevel greenhouse structure. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if we were to start spending time there daily getting those going with whatever we think we’ll need. If we are forced to relocate there for real I’m sure we’ll be glad of having been proactive on that account. There is space for various animals, though I can’t say that any of us has much in the way of animal husbandry in our skill set. I have already furnished the place so, again, if we’re forced to relocate there are only certain things we would need to take from here, and Valdis, naturally.”

Petunia nodded. “Reasonable.”

Dudley half-raised his hand, seemed to remember they were not in class, lowered it, and asked, “What about others? Say, Luna and her father. The Malfoys?”

“Yes, I can provide for them, and I have already ordered Lucius to do certain things just in case. The fortress also has a complement of elves and quarters for them. They can also help with the greenhouse and any animals we choose to import. And before anyone asks, I added warding against radiation back when I checked into magic against it. Up until recently all of this was pure contingency, but with the way things are we may actually need the place. Now, for the second issue. I’ve been doing some experimenting, especially after watching you, Harry.”

“Why me?”

Tom arched a brow at him. “Your knife fight a ways back with Viktor. You were using stinging hexes in addition to the dagger, plus having to use aetherial spells to heal with. It was cumbersome and you risked losing your wand on multiple occasions, though you have obviously had plenty of practice with that situation. So, I took some downtime to consider the problem and came up with a solution.” He reached into a pocket and removed two rings, then slipped them onto his index fingers. He then levitated two books sitting on the coffee table, one with each hand, with no wand present.

“Focus rings. You’ll have to go through a number of materials to find out what will work best, and get used to using the rings instead of a wand. However, it means any of us who were able to learn aetherial spells in addition to wizarding magic will be able to keep a wand as a backup, not a primary, and more easily use both types of magic. It took me a number of attempts before I came up with something that worked, but I am now prepared to make them for the rest of you. And, because they are not technically enchanted, they can be blood-bonded and enchanted against summoning.”

“Wow,” Lily said. “Not that I’m saying the fortress isn’t also amazing, because it is. We always knew you were brilliant.”

Tom inclined his head in recognition of the compliment. “On our first visit to the fortress I can start creating the rings. After we eat we can decide when that visit will be. But first, let’s get this bonded. More or less the same procedure, but be sure that your blood touches every section.” Once they were done he finalized the bonding, then snapped it into the individual pieces and pushed them to everyone.

As they sat around the table a short time later and dug into the meal Mary provided Harry said, “I’m all for going today, but I’d also really like to get a set of portkeys to Viktor’s family.” He paused and looked at his husband with a slight frown. “Er, do your grandparents know?”

Viktor shook his head. “They know you’re special, but they don’t know at this point who Tom is exactly.”

“Either way we’d have to get all of them there first,” he mused. “I guess the fortress, then the delivery, because then we could at least have something to say about the actual destination.”

“All right,” Lily said. “Let’s make a trip after we’re done eating. At least get a feel for the place. After that you two can deliver a set to Viktor’s parents and take care of that end. If necessary you can at least take Iskra and Pavel—well, after the set is done. After that we can get started on the greenhouse and other immediate issues there.”

“I don’t have a problem with that,” Petunia offered.

Dudley and Severus both nodded, so after lunch they each activated their portkeys. Harry found himself in an enormous entrance hall with a wide double set of doors (presumably leading out front) behind him, arches to either side, and a wide set of stairs straight ahead with arches to either side of that.

Tom led them through an arch left of the stairs and back along a hallway. At the very end was a workshop of sorts, with laden shelves and cabinets and plenty of surfaces to work on. “Let’s get this sorted and I’ll make the rings in a bit. Harry, come here.”

He was run through a selection process that relied quite a bit on “feel”, similar to when he was matched up with his wand. Indeed, he ended up with beech and unicorn hair again. Viktor ended up with a different wood, cherry, and the others all choose the same components of their current wands.

Tom set everything aside in neat, labeled bundles, and escorted them out the back of the building and over to the greenhouse. It was four storeys high with each successive floor being narrower due to the peculiarities of construction. The side walls and parts of the sloped “ceilings” were all glass, with only the center length of each floor above ground being stone, and the top floor was entirely glass. Inside were numerous planting beds.

Back in the main castle and up the center staircase, and then up a spiraling staircase to the second floor was where the suites started. “This floor is reserved for family,” Tom said. “They’re all essentially the same, so pick whichever, except for the one at the very end of the hall.” There were four doors on each side, plus the one at the very end.

When no one else moved Harry shrugged and headed down the hall, opening the last door on the left. Inside was a sitting or reception room with an arch to the right nearest the hallway wall. That led to a short hall. Left off that was a door into what proved to be a luxurious bathroom, and the end door led to a bedroom. The suite was furnished entirely in neutrals, which meant they could choose whatever colours they wanted with a few simple spells. Windows graced the exterior wall in each room, providing plenty of sunlight and a lovely view.

He crossed paths with Viktor on his way back to the sitting room and waited there for his husband to come back, then said, “So?”

“It’s more than fine,” Viktor said admiringly.

He nodded, pulled some parchment from a pocket along with his fountain pen, wrote their names on it, and then used a temporary sticking charm to attach it to the door to the hallway. On exiting he saw that Dudley had chosen the suite next to his, then Petunia, then his mother and Severus nearest the stairs. That left the other side for Viktor’s family.

“More suites on higher floors,” Tom said, “but there’s little point in going up there right now. Now, it is possible to apparate here, within the walls bordering the property, but not to cross that border. There are plenty of fireplaces, but none of them are connected to any floo network at this time. Getting here is strictly by portkey or getting to the perimeter by some method and walking in. For all I care we can move here now rather than waiting, but that’s up to all of you. I already do live here.”

Harry looked at Viktor, trying to judge his reaction to that suggestion. Viktor quirked a brow and leaned in to whisper, “If you wish to move here now I have no objection. It would certainly save time on daily portkey trips back and forth, and we would have more room for us personally. I am sure Tom has included communal areas on one or both of the lower two floors.”

“They worked awfully hard updating the wards at the house and shop,” he whispered back, feeling obscurely guilty at leaning toward relocating.

“True. But that would have been done either way, I expect. That’s been your home for ten years and it’s not easy to let something like that go. Protecting it the way they have only makes sense, whether you end up moving elsewhere for some time or not.”

He acknowledged to himself that Viktor’s point was fair and nodded. “Viktor and I would like to move here for now,” he said to Tom quietly.

“All right. I’ll see about moving Valdis here as quickly as possible. You two can pack up your room and transport the contents here. Harry, I’m probably going to want to redo your entire portkey set with the exception of the one I just made. The same for you, Viktor. At the very least I want your sets to work for both of you, not just individually.”

“Okay,” he said. “Can we portkey from anywhere here or just in the entrance hall?”

“Outgoing is fine anywhere.”

He nodded and looked back to Viktor. “Want to get started, then?”

“Yes.” Viktor reached for his Norway home portkey and waited for Harry to use his own.

They spent the afternoon packing their room straight into the trunk. The furniture remained, of course, but pretty much everything else went. “Think we should save Tom some time and pack up Valdis’s things, too?” he asked.

Viktor looked briefly contemplative. “How about we send Pelk with a note asking that?”

“Done.” A few minutes later they got back a positive response and a request to grab the shop crates, so they trundled the trunk to the sepulcher and set it back up again. Valdis seemed more than a little curious.

“We are moving for the time being,” Viktor informed her, “and that means you, too, of course. We’re going to pack up the majority of what’s here. Tom will be along at some point to complete the job.” He started ferrying crates in through to the work room at that point.

“Very well. All of you?”

“We’re not sure, actually,” Harry replied, “but Viktor and I definitely are. If things completely fall apart—and they’re pretty bad already—we really don’t want to leave you here in a relatively muggle area even with the protections Tom has around this property. The fortress is pretty neat, actually, and a lot more welcoming than a place like Hrothgar.”

She nodded and said nothing more, so Harry got to work transporting goods. Even with magic to help them they were fairly tired when the only thing remaining was Valdis herself. When they arrived back at the fortress Viktor did not immediately move.

“What?”

“I am wondering where to put the shop things,” Viktor replied sensibly, then called for Pelk. “Do you have any idea where we should be putting the things from Severus’s shop?”

Pelk nodded and said, “Please follow Pelk.”

Eventually, finally, they were able to head upstairs to their new suite and park the trunk against a wall. Pelk showed back up to inform them of a meal being served and to give them directions; and also to let them know he would be doing some unpacking for them. Harry just nodded wearily and let Viktor lead him away.

The next morning after breakfast Tom led them back to that work room and produced a number of boxes. He handed the first to Harry, who opened it to see two matching rings. He slipped them on, it feeling decidedly odd to have anything on his index fingers, and tried to get himself in the right mindset, such as using a levitation spell over Telekinesis.

He had just managed to get the empty box to rise up when Dudley broke his concentration with a gasp. The box hit the counter with a clatter and Harry looked over his shoulder questioningly.

“Oh, sorry,” Dudley said apologetically. “It’s just that I couldn’t even tell what spell it was until the box lifted and it made me think that—well, having these around muggles would be a good thing, right? If we were careful, I mean, and had the skill.”

Tom pushed a box toward Viktor and nodded. “Yes. That is one advantage. But it means if you wish to enjoy it you will have to put in a prodigious amount of work.”

Harry grabbed his empty box and stepped off to a different surface to experiment, not wanting to get in the way of anyone else.

“Using the rings,” Tom said, “with spell mastery, and being careful, means we can get away with a whole lot around muggles and not draw any suspicion. Considering what’s happening out there right now it’s an excellent goal.”

One by one the others received their rings. Tom interrupted their attempts by leading them out and to another room, this one much larger and set up as something of a practice hall. There were targets, a multitude of objects, and various other interesting features to aid them in getting used to the rings.

They had been messing around for an hour or so when Pelk popped in with a letter for Viktor. He opened it and read through it, a slight frown marring his brow. He turned to Tom and said, “Do you think I could have that portkey set for my family, please?”

Tom nodded and exited. Harry stepped over to his husband and indicated the letter.

“Sofia is a mad house,” Viktor said, folding the parchment up and tucking it away. “They’re getting fairly nervous over there, even on the outskirts, and my grandparents have moved to my parents’ house to consolidate the family.”

Tom returned and handed over two sheets. “Appropriately marked,” he said, nodding at them. “Same process as we did.”

Viktor nodded and put them into a pocket, then took Harry’s hand and led him out of the room. “I don’t think we need to get anything before we go, so, ready?”

“Yes,” he said. Tom had already redone their portkey sets and he had stripped the metal from his boots and slotted them into place. The three most important ones, for the fortress and for the houses in Norway and Bulgaria, were integrated into his bracelet. He held his wrist up and slid a finger onto the right piece, waited for Viktor to be ready, and activated it.

Nothing seemed terribly odd when they landed, but they were not out back this time. As he looked around curiously Viktor said, “The cellar. I guess Tom thought landing out back was a bad idea at this point,” then snapped off a patronus warning before leading Harry to the stairs.

His parents were coming down the hallway as they emerged. Iskra sped up and pulled them each into a hug, then stepped back. “We’re so glad you’re safe.”

“I’m glad you’re okay, also. How bad is bad?” Viktor asked. “Because we do have a safe haven for everyone.”

“The muggles have gone mad,” Pavel said. “The ones not hiding out in their homes have been rioting through the city. It has not gotten this far, but it is getting closer as more of them join the chaos. And what do you mean by a safe haven?”

Viktor glanced around quickly—checking for his grandparents or sister, Harry thought—and said quietly, “Tom has spent the last decade building a fortress, just in case. He’s always been thinking about the prophecy and what it could mean, but I doubt he was expecting this. At any rate, the fortress has far more room than we presently need, a huge greenhouse, room for animals, and so forth. He’s provided me with portkeys for you all, to the entrance hall there, and another set to bring you back here, but inside the house. The cellar, actually.”

Pavel and Iskra exchanged a look, communicating with a ease that long-married couples often had, then nodded. “All right,” Pavel said. “We’ll take care of that now.”