The Power He Knows Not
I wrote almost an entire recreation of the explanation chapter in Order of the Phoenix
before I realized… did you guys really want to waste time on that? It'd essentially be Illyria's random comments inserted in the normal dialogue. Doesn't sound like too fun to me. So we're moving on to the interesting bits. Oh, and the date given for Luna and Su's birthdays isn't a mistake. I've intentionally punted things forward by a decade because I figure that trying to track down information about pop culture, fashion, et cetera from 2005 would be far easier than 1995. I mean, 1995? I was in fifth grade back then. I remember Lunchables and that's about it.
June 15, 2006
The Headmaster's Office
Hogwarts, Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"
The copy of Professor Trelawney sank back into the silvery puddle at the bottom of the pensieve, and the room was silent for a moment. Harry couldn't believe it. Everything that had happened that night… the past months of odd dreams… almost his entire life, all defined by something his divination teacher had said during a job interview sixteen years ago. "You've got to be kidding me."
Dumbledore shook his head slowly. "I am afraid not, Harry. The prophecy states that the only person who has a chance of defeating Voldemort for good was born at the end of July, nearly sixteen years ago. This boy would have been born to parents who had already defied three times." He paused, as if debating with himself, before sighing. "Actually, that is not entirely correct. There were two boys born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents who escaped Voldemort three times. One was you… and the other was Neville Longbottom."
"But it's not, is it?" Harry leaned back in his chair, again drawing strength from Illyria's presence behind him. She'd taken up a mirror of their position in the Ministry, standing with her hands on his shoulders, when the discussion began and he was finding it invaluable in maintaining his composure. "Neville, that is. Voldemort chose me on Halloween when he attacked me."
Nodding, Dumbledore raised one hand and tapped his own forehead. "Indeed he did. Notice that he did not choose the pureblood child, the child that his own doctrine says should be the bigger threat, to attack. He came after you, a half-blood like himself. He saw himself in you and struck, sealing the prophecy and marking you as his equal. That is why the disappearance of your scar concerns me so. Prophecies are supposed to be immutable once they start unfolding. I don't understand how it's possible that such a thing has come to be."
Illyria's hand slid through Harry's hair for a moment before gripping it and tilting his head back. Harry stared up at her as she trailed the fingers of her free hand over his forehead. "Luna knew that Harry disliked the attention his scar brought to him, so I removed it when I severed his link to Voldemort. She also believed other girls would find his form more pleasing like this, even though she personally found his scar to be attractive."
Harry realized then that Voldemort hadn't just managed to sneak up on him at the Ministry, but that the entire encounter had been pain-free. He hadn't really given it any thought at the time, being a bit busy and all, but now that things were slowing down… "You mean he's out of my mind for good now? No more visions, no more feeling his emotions, no more pain around him?"
"I told you how tightly the bond between a Qwa'ha Xahn and the one he serves connects them. While I am reasonably certain that Voldemort would not be able to step through your brain into mine, I saw no need to take an unnecessary risk." Illyria had a point there, Harry realized. The prospect of Voldemort gaining access to any of her abilities was - quite frankly - frightening beyond belief. "Besides, I do not share well. Your brain belongs to me."
Coughing softly to get their attention, Dumbledore regarded the pair with a frown. "Prophecies are very powerful and tenacious things, Illyria. Do you truly know the consequences of tampering with forces such as these, especially for such a minor whim?"
Illyria released Harry's head with a slight jerk and stalked forward, gripping the edge of Dumbledore's desk tightly in her deceptively frail-looking hands. The relative warmth with which she'd addressed Harry rapidly fled from her body, a reminder of how mercurial his new master was. "My whims are not minor. Before my fall, I was a god to gods. Now I walk again, and I refused to be bound to a guide bound to another. Therefore, I removed his connection to Voldemort. Any consequences are of no concern to me."
"And if you have somehow voided the prophecy, meaning Harry no longer is the one capable of killing Voldemort and saving us all?"
"Then I shall tear Voldemort's still-beating heart from his chest as a reminder to your pitiful wizarding world of what true power is." Illyria gave the edge of Dumbledore's desk one final squeeze, and there was a sharp crack as the wood buckled under her inhuman strength. Stepping back, she seated herself stiffly on Harry's knee as she waved the piece of wood in her hand back and forth slowly. "I am like nothing you have ever met or faced before, Dumbledore, and you would do well to remember that."
Nodding in assent, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair. "Very well. Harry… I have confessed a great many of my mistakes and done my best to give you the explanations you require this evening. Is there anything else you want to discuss?"
Harry pondered that for a moment and then grimaced. Absorbed in the combination of his new bond with Illyria, the revelation of how badly he'd been manipulated by Voldemort and Kreacher, and the prophecy that had been guiding his life since before his birth, he'd completely forgotten about… "My friends. How are they?"
"Mister Weasley and Miss Granger took the worst of it, although Mister Weasley has already been mostly healed and Miss Granger will be fully healed by the end of term according to Madam Pomfrey. Miss Weasley and Mister Longbottom suffered only minor injuries, and are currently only staying in the hospital wing for moral support reasons." After a moment of pause, Dumbledore sighed and offered an additional piece of information that Harry wasn't too happy to hear. "In addition, Nymphadora Tonks is going to need a few days in St. Mungo's, but her prognosis is good."
Tonks. Sirius's cousin. Lord, he'd done a bang-up job of fucking up that family tonight. Two members dead and another injured, all of it his fault. The thoughts he was doing his best to repress started to bubble up again, and so Harry pushed gently on the small of Illyria's back. She took the hint and rose to her feet. "In that case, we'll be going. Good evening, Headmaster."
"Harry?" Harry paused halfway to his feet and raised an eyebrow curiously at Dumbledore. "Do you have some sort of plan as to where Illyria will be staying, or were you intended to simply return her to Ravenclaw Tower as if nothing has changed?"
Actually he didn't have anything even remotely resembling a plan at the moment, but Harry had no real interest in giving the headmaster an opportunity to exert any control over the situation. Illyria was his responsibility and he would handle it. "No. We'll go up to the Room of Requirement for now and discuss that. But like I told Scrimgeour… I'm her Qwa'ha Xahn, not her keeper. I do what she wants, and she does what she wants."
"Very well. But we will discuss this further, and soon."
"If you insist."
Dumbledore waited until after Harry and his new companion had left his office before groaning and lowering his head to rest in his hands. An Old One. Even Hitler and Grindelwald, in all of their attempts to dive into the darkest of the Dark Arts, had never attempted to resurrect one. Neither, until this point, had Voldemort. But somehow, one of his own students had become the new host of Illyria and taken one of her peers as Qwa'ha Xahn.
What little he knew about the Old Ones was second and third-hand knowledge at best. They predated even the earliest organized human civilizations, and so the accounts were mostly English translations of Egyptian and Mesopotamian writings. Which, in turn, were accounts taken down from the stories of the demons of the time, some of which were already on the second or third or fourth retelling from earlier generations of demons.
Illyria was a name mentioned in almost every writing, though. The God-King, alternately the most feared and most beloved of the Old Ones, depending on whether one was in his good graces. After his death at the hands of a rival, he had been entombed in a sarcophagus and his power channeled into the gems that were then embedded in its lid. How the sarcophagus had survived the test of time and made it into the possession of the Ministry of Magic, however, was something Dumbledore did not know.
The Qwa'ha Xahn also appeared frequently in writings about Old Ones. While the descriptions were generally vague, he now knew from Illyria that it included a magical and emotional bond. And likely a mental bond, given that Harry had been able to communicate with Illyria silently in the Ministry. Had Harry merely traded Voldemort for someone more powerful and evil living in his head?
Then the fireplace flared green and Fudge and his aides stepped through without waiting for permission, and Dumbledore had to push the problem to the back of his mind. There was a war to plan.
He just prayed there wouldn't be a new war to fight after it.
June 15, 2006
The Chamber of Secrets
Hogwarts, Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Harry leaned back against one pillar in the Chamber of Secrets, watching as Illyria blasted apart the giant statue of Salazar Slytherin. She'd already replaced all the green torches with balls of golden light, and the temperature in the chamber was starting to rise to the level he was used to during the hottest months of summer. Now he was really wondering what her plans were for the replacement he'd 'given' her for her own temple until they could travel to Vahla ha'nesh… § She brings disgrace to the place of my master. §
Harry glanced to his left in surprise and found a snake's head at the same level as his own. Jerking away to put a little distance between them, his gaze traveled down the length of a long, silvery body and found a quartet of white bird-like wings flapping to keep the snake aloft. § Why is there no one left to defend the sanctuary of the snakes from this creature? § § Because I let her in here to destroy it. §
The snake's head whipped to face Harry, more than likely surprised to receive an answer to its question. § We did battle with the heir of your master tonight, and she wished to do more violence. I think she's planning to remake it in her own image. §
The wings fluttered and the odd creature drifted closer to Harry. § You speak to me but are not of the bloodline, and yet you command enough power to meet the Heir of Slytherin in battle? This is interesting. Very interesting. What is your name, young speaker? §
Evidently, even Slytherin's pets were opportunistic little creatures. § Harry. Harry Potter. And my companion is Illyria. § § I am Quetzalcoatl. For obvious reasons. §
Harry didn't know what those reasons were, but had no desire to look stupid in front of the… bird-snake hybrid creature that might have been as old as the basilisk and Salazar Slytherin himself. § Illyria, you say? My master spoke once of trying to find 'Illyria and the other Old Ones', to harness their power to fuel the wards that protect Hogwarts. If you can command her, you are indeed a mighty wizard. I shall leave my haven when you do so that I might… §
Suddenly, Quetzalcoatl went spiraling away through the air, heading for Illyria and her outstretched wand. An orange pulse hit the creature on the nose and raced down its body, removing the scales and flesh from its bone. Oh. That was why it'd seemed familiar, Harry realized. She'd used the same spell on Bellatrix's head… and he still didn't know where that damn skull was. A small rain of bones hit the stone at Illyria's feet with a tinkle as she lowered her wand. "I hate snakes."
Harry's jaw worked for a moment before he could form words. "But… but that was a snake from Salazar Slytherin's era! He knew Slytherin! And he wanted to leave the Chamber to come with me! Imagine all of the things I could have learned from him - especially since Voldemort has had decades to collect everything written about parseltongue - not to mention potions, magical history…"
A quick shake of her head, and then Illyria tucked the wand behind her ear again. "What remains of Luna agrees with me in this matter: we hate snakes. I will teach you all the magic you need to know as part of our bond, remember?" Harry sighed noisily and Illyria echoed it before closing the distance between them and extending her hand. "Come. It's getting late and I can finish this tomorrow."
"But Quetzalcoatl…" Harry let out another sigh before taking her hand and leading her toward the exit. It closed behind them, sealing off the inner chamber. "So, does this mean you've figured out what you're going to do with yourself tonight when I go back to my dorm?"
Illyria nodded but remained silent as they rode a set of revolving stairs, much like Dumbledore's office, back up to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. "I do not need to eat or sleep, but I have no particular desire to be around the ones who tormented Luna." So that was a no to Ravenclaw Tower, as well as an indicator that they needed to discuss exactly how Luna and her peers got on before the transformation. "Therefore, I shall return with you to your dorm."
Not exactly what his first choice was, but it was among the options Harry had considered she might pick. "I suppose that'll work. Not sure where we'll put you, though. I'm not sure about Ginny's year… maybe Hermione's room?" There were what, eight Gryffindor girls in his year? And that would be an awfully odd number of beds to design a room around. Ten would make much more sense. Then again, Bem's bed had disappeared this year to bring them down to five in his dorm, so maybe the rooms were just as big - or small - as they needed to be? It wouldn't hurt to look, though, Harry figured. "Oh, and we can get your stuff from Ravenclaw Tower tomorrow, just in case you want any of it in the future. Although we should probably figure out where we're putting you before we do that so your stuff has somewhere to go. Hmm…"
"You misunderstand me. I said your dorm rather than Gryffindor Tower intentionally." Illyria navigated the halls with perfect ease, moving from staircase to staircase as they ascended higher into the school. "There are two or three material possessions left that I would be… unhappy… to see go. But I will not go to class and do not need clothes, so the rest are useless to me. Combined with my lack of need to sleep, I do not require my own living space."
Harry was about to ask if she planned to walk around in the catsuit all the time - which would undoubtedly make it harder for him to get the others to feel comfortable around her - when her body… shifted. The patchy, jewel tone catsuit disappeared before his disbelieving eyes, transforming into a more familiar, black and white outfit. When Illyria was done - apart from her decision to replace blue and bronze with his red and gold - it was a perfect imitation of Luna's Hogwarts uniform. Complete, oddly enough, with her orange radish earrings and butterbeer cork necklace. The end result was an almost normal, albeit blue-tinged, 'Luna' by his side. "That's brilliant. It's like Tonks, but with clothes!" Then something else, something a bit more important, occurred to him. "Wait, what do you mean my dorm?!"
"While I may not require sleep, I know that you still do. You would not be much use to me as a Qwa'ha Xahn if you were killed in your sleep, therefore I will watch over you during your rest periods to ensure your safety." Reaching the portrait of the Fat Lady, Illyria paused. "I do not know the password. Do you, or shall I remove the portrait to gain access?"
No, Harry thought, tearing the portrait off the entryway would not be the best way to introduce Illyria to her new housemates. "Defiance." The Fat Lady nodded and swung open to grant them access. Harry crouched down a bit and lead the way into Gryffindor Tower, feeling Illyria's fingers in his mind again as they entered an area that Luna would have no memories of. "Welcome to the lion's den." Much to his surprise, none of his fellow Gryffindors were still awake to greet them and so he paused just long enough to let Illyria get a good look at the common room before making his way over to the stairs and ascending toward his dorm.
When they reached the door for his dorm, Harry paused again in an attempt to delay the inevitable, but Illyria would not be denied. Slipping past him, she twisted the knob and pushed the door open, entering his dorm and looking around curiously. "This is similar to Luna's room, except decorated in red and gold and significantly messier. I believe I shall impose new standards for order and cleanliness when the others awaken tomorrow." There were three empty beds and she looked back and forth between them before pointing at one. "This is yours."
"Yes." Harry watched as she moved to the head of his bed, pausing for a moment before pushing against the stone wall. It deformed under her touch, forming an alcove in the otherwise circular room. She then repeated the process with the bed itself, leaving it almost a meter longer without sticking out any further into the center of the room. "Why do I have a feeling that watching over me when I sleep might be literal?"
Illyria gave him a peculiar little half-smile as she moved to sit lotus-style at the foot of his bed, her Hogwarts uniform melting away into a t-shirt and sweatpants. Harry recognized the t-shirt in particular as one that Hermione had worn at night around Grimmauld Place the past summer, meaning Illyria had pulled the image from his mind. That in turn made him wonder what - if anything - Luna usually wore to bed, then, if she had to take her cue from Hermione tonight. "Because I will be."
Well wasn't that fabulous? He had a new sorta magical wife who was not only violating Hogwarts rules by staying in the opposite gender's dorm, but had decided to outright move into his bed with him. Harry sighed and grabbed his own pajamas, intending to go change in the bathroom before pausing. Wouldn't modesty be a waste of time at this point? After all, if Illyria truly desired the chance to see him naked, she could just tap into his memories and take those images from him. Although… even with the bits of Luna left inside her, did Illyria even have an interest in those kinds of things? Her thoughts on marriage hadn't exactly been centered on the romantic aspects. Adapting his thought processes to incorporate her and her abilities was going to take a while, Harry decided.
Harry changed without further ado and put his clothes out for the elves to collect before getting into bed and sliding under the covers. After a few seconds, he sighed and rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. Near his feet, he barely make out Illyria's blurry form as she sat there staring at him, watching and waiting for a threat that would hopefully never come. Much to his surprise, Harry felt oddly comforted by her presence. She'd chosen him, fought Voldemort for him… like his friends. Like Sirius.
Suddenly, the thoughts he'd worked so hard to repress all evening came roaring back to him. Sirius. Sirius was dead. All because Harry hadn't been willing to be the bigger man, and had risen to Snape's bait instead of working with him. Because he'd been impulsive, because he hadn't listened to his friends, because he'd decided to take matters into his own hands… he hadn't rescued Sirius from certain death. Sirius had gone to his death to rescue him.
"Your mind is unpleasantly busy. I do not understand why you are so eager to assert that the full blame for your godfather's death lies with you." Illyria's blurry form tipped forward and Harry watched as she slowly crawled down the bed toward him. "Your headmaster admits he was at fault, he admits Sirius, Snape, and Kreacher all were at fault… and yet you act like it was solely your actions that brought about his death."
Sighing, Harry propped himself up on his elbows and met her gaze as she drew close enough to be seen clearly. "Well I know you're not exactly upset with how everything turned out because if I hadn't gone to save him, you would still be in your sarcophagus. But just because Dumbledore tells me it's not my fault doesn't make it any easier to squash the guilt. I could have found a way to try and contact someone, especially after we got rid of Umbridge. Used her floo to call someone, or maybe headed down to Hogsmeade and flooed straight to Grimmauld Place. But I decided I knew what was best and now Sirius is dead."
Illyria mumbled something under her breath that Harry wasn't even sure was in English before reaching out and pushing him down onto his back. Her own body then came to rest on the bed, leaning against his left side, and she reached up to run her fingers through his hair slowly. "Our conversation goes in circles, and does little to resolve your issues or help you reach a resting state. You will sleep now rather than subjecting my mind to your angst. I will assist you."
It was a decidedly odd sensation to be… petted… for lack of a better term, but it was also surprisingly soothing. The only contact Harry was familiar with was hugs from Hermione now and then, the same from Mrs. Weasley's, and his relatives' abuse. Although Illyria's touch was a bit rough and her body hard and unyielding where it pressed against the side of his, Harry felt himself relaxing anyway. After a few minutes of silence, he yawned. "I'm probably going to subject your mind to more angst in the morning."
"I know. I will deal with you then."
June 16, 2006
Ravenclaw Common Room
Hogwarts, Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom
Looking up from the book she was reading, Padma Patil glanced over at the clock on the mantle before yawning and rubbing her eyes. "I don't think she's coming back tonight, Su." When her friend didn't respond after nearly a minute, Padma sighed. "I still wish you'd tell me why you're so obsessed with Luna Lovegood. That girl is just… calling her strange is an understatement."
The silence stretched on a bit longer and then Li Su leaned back against the couch she was sitting on, her odd black and violet eyes meeting Padma's. "Just out of curiosity… do you know when Luna's birthday is?" Padma thought for a moment before shaking her head slowly. "The Ides of March, 1991. Do you know when my birthday is?"
Even though she didn't understand the purpose between either question, Padma could at least answer this one. After all, they'd celebrated it together five times already. "January 29th, 1990. I don't understand what that has to do with-"
"No, that's when we celebrate my birthday because that's when the Ministry of Magic thinks I was born and so that's the date Hogwarts has down for me." Su leaned forward, planting her elbows on her knees and resting her chin in her hands as her eyes bored into Padma's. "Your people use a lunisolar calendar too, don't they? The twenty-ninth day of the first month… when was that for you?"
Padma furrowed her brow; ever since coming to Hogwarts, she'd operated on the Gregorian calendar just like everyone else and so it took her a minute to line up the dates. "This year? April 19th." Then the proverbial wand tip lit up and she realized where Su was going with her line of questioning. "When was it on the Chinese calendar?"
Smiling, Su nodded in approval. "That a girl. It was February 26th this year. But back in 1991, when I was born on the twenty-ninth day of Zheng Yue? It was March-"
"-fifteenth. You share…" Trailing off, Padma stared at Su in confusion. "1991? But you have to be eleven by September 1st to come to Hogwarts for your first year. Hermione's birthday is something like two weeks into the term, and so she was almost twelve by the time she got to start school. If you were born in 1991, that would have made you ten on September 1st, 2001."
Su just shrugged at that before reaching up to run her tridactyl hand over one of the deer-like antlers atop her head. "I was taller than most of the third year girls when I was sorted, Padma. How hard do you think it was to convince the Ministry I was older than I am, especially when their recordkeeping magic couldn't even get my birthday right?"
Not terribly, given some of the things her own father had told her about his dealings with the Ministry. But while Padma now knew the 'what' and the 'how', that only raised a new question: why? "But why go through all that trouble? I mean, I guess I'm glad you did because otherwise you'd be a year below me and we might not have become friends… wait. We were talking about Luna. How did we get from her to the secrets of your past? What does all this have to do with anything?"
"Everything." Su leaned back again, gesturing at her body. "I know Lupin sorta glossed over them in class… do you remember the section on qílín in The Essential Defense Against the Dark Arts
?" Padma shook her head. "There wasn't much, only three paragraphs. But the first paragraph said, and I quote, 'qílín are said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler'. And it's true; my mother was born at the exact same time as my father, down to the minute. After I was born, my father spent hundreds of thousands of rénmínbì… persuading… government officials all around the world to part with their registers of births. When he was done, he'd found only one person in the entire wizarding world who shares my exact birthday. Same day, same time, half a world apart."
Padma's eyes widened. "Luna Lovegood?" Su nodded slowly. "But… I mean… she's…"
"Loony?" Su's lips quirked up. "I know. I don't understand it either, but my mother says that the few known half-qílín follow the same pattern as purebloods. Which means I was placed on this planet on that day at that time as a sign pointed firmly in Luna's direction. And if your entire existence was tied up in one person, can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't be a bit obsessed with them too?"
"…no. But can't you take a break for now and obsess more in the morning? It's after midnight."