Training and Confrontations


Story Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities grow, and trains for that final confrontation with Voldemort. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, R/T, and a paternal Ron.

Chapter 48

Chapter Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities growing, and trains for that final confrontation with Tom Riddle. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, Remus/T, and Ron/Tracy. Part V (Chapters 45-51) starts in early July, 1997, and continues with Riddle and the Lords of Magic.
Author's Note:
Confronting the Lords of Magic pt II

Chapter XLVIII

Several Hours Earlier



"Hermione! Wake up!"

Hermione rolled over and shut her eyes more tightly. "Luna, I'm too cold to make love with you."

"And why are you cold in July?"

"Eh?" Hermione opened her eyes. "Oh. Right. Tibet." She rolled over. "Is it my watch already?"

"Not quite, but two people appeared near the woods. . . ."


"It's well past dawn and that fog has disappeared. I would have awoken you in about twenty minutes in any event. There are woods about ten to twenty yards away from the cabin. About three minutes ago, two people appeared, and when I looked at them, one flashed his fingers three times, which I took to mean they were giving us fifteen minutes to prepare for them."

Hermione rolled out of bed. "Then I guess we should prepare." She wrinkled her nose. "Chamber pots. Yech."

Luna shrugged her shoulders. "Some pure bloods still think plumbing is decadent. At least our use of the utensils is more sanitary than the Muggles', and, after all, much of the Muggle world still doesn't have anything much better."

Hermione sighed, "These aren't positions I'm used to," and did what had to be done.

Ten minutes later, Luna beckoned the two tall figures into the cabin. The temperature the night before had been just above freezing, and it was still a cool morning. The two men were well-bundled up.

"Headmaster!" Hermione said, with a touch of surprise as the taller figure unwrapped a muffler which would have done the Fourth Dr. Who credit.

"As I told you, I am not in any immediate danger of failing health," the elderly wizard said, the twinkle back in his eye. He turned to the other figure. "Allow me to introduce Titus Sergius Sapiens, sometimes known as Serge the Vampire Killer."

Hermione frowned. "I thought that was a family in Eastern Europe."

"No, that is just me," Sergius said, taking off his heavy hooded coat, revealing a well-muscled man around twenty-seven. "First of all, let me tell you about the thirteen inhabitants of this valley."

"What?" Harry asked.

"We are inviting you to become immortal."

Harry finally blinked. "Why?"

"As I said, some of us became immortal through our own efforts. . . ."

"Like Nicolas Flamel?"

"Not quite," the wizard answered. "To achieve immortality through a Philosopher's Stone, you need to absorb it. When you just use the Elixir, it extends your life. Riddle there would have combined his essence with the Stone, which may have reconstituted his body . . . or perhaps not. It has never been done before."

"I see." Harry frowned. "So, you want me to be the fourteenth member?"


"And you need twenty-seven to take over the world?"

"We will not attempt to take over the world. We will be guiding the world, but we will not be eliminating free will or anything like that."

Harry thought about that. "And you've been at this some two thousand years?"

"The Fellowship is nearly four thousand years old. The oldest of us has lived just over six thousand years," the wizard agreed.

Harry shook his head, as if to clear it. "So, you have been searching for almost four thousand years, and you just have thirteen members?"

The wizard grimaced. "Basically, yes. We do have an associate who will join us in the end, but who lives apart from us. You have to understand, eight of us have achieved immortality on our own, and we have brought in five wizards, of your power and morality. Very few others have ever achieved our life-spans. 'Immortality' is a misnomer, of course. Anyone can be destroyed. Three of our former members grew depressed over the centuries and killed themselves. Not everyone is cut out for immortality. One other went dark, and we had to destroy her. Not everyone can live dispassionately."

"As for wizards such as yourself, there were at most a dozen of your born-power born so far in the twentieth century. Of them, only two have shown any signs of being able to handle the higher power levels required to achieve immortality. You were one, of course, and we were not going to help Riddle there too much. We are willing to do more for you."

"What did you do for Riddle?"

"We tried a new process on him," the wizard admitted. "It is what helped his essence survive separation from his original body. It was a test of a ritual which replaced a three-step process which we used to use."

"How many people like me have you asked?" Harry inquired.

The wizard shrugged. "We have considered perhaps four dozen over the last three thousand years."

"And only five out of forty-eight have accepted?" Harry asked. "Tell me, do I happen to know one of the others?"

The wizard nodded. "We did attempt to recruit Albus Dumbledore, just over a hundred and ten years ago. We kept the invitation open until fifty years ago. That was when he finally turned us down. We decided not to pursue fifteen of the now forty-eight."

"You do not have to make a final decision at this time," a witch said, speaking up. "However, there is something you do need to decide now."

"And what is that?"

"What to do with Riddle," she answered. She slipped off her hood, and Harry guessed she was from somewhere in the Middle East, and looked to be in her late thirties, by Muggle standards. "Your choices are 1) Kill Riddle and join us now; 2) Kill Riddle and refuse to join us; 3) Kill Riddle but put off your decision on if you wish join us until later; 4) Have us kill Riddle and join us now; or 5) Refuse to kill Riddle or have him killed, in which case we will try and redo the ceremony. If it works, that will give him a life of 900 to 1000 years, and making it difficult to destroy his essence before then."

"I was not planning on killing him, you know," Harry pointed out.

"You were hoping to capture him and imprison him in one of the so-called 'inescapable' dimensions? You no longer have the power to do that," the Indian wizard pointed out.

"I do, if either Hermione or Luna helps me," Harry said.

"He could escape," the Middle Eastern witch said.

"Dumbledore claims the traps last at least three hundred years," Harry protested.

"But he will now live a thousand years," the witch stated.

"You don't have to extend his life," Harry said.

"That is true in theory," she said. "However, by luring you here, Riddle has done us a favor. This chance is his reward."

Harry frowned.

"By the way," the Indian wizard said in a coaxing voice, "the process will restore you to the power levels you had before your confrontation with Riddle last month."

Harry smiled, and he saw the two Lords whose faces he could see smile back. "You know," Harry said, "if anything makes me think your offer is too dangerous to answer quickly, it was that offer and the way you made it." Harry glowered at them. "I am not easily bribed. I certainly wouldn't agree to join you on the spur of the moment, without knowing all the details. And, if you knew me at all, you'd know I'd at least have to talk things over with Hermione and Luna after you told me what you think are the details."

"So, you will not decide now?"

"This instant? No, I will not. First, let Ginny go. I'm here; she's served your purpose."

"She has not yet served Riddle's," one of the still-hooded Lords commented.

Harry transferred his glare. "If you can say that, then I really doubt if you're really as Light, or even as neutral, as you claim."

Silence hung in the air for a long moment, then the hooded wizard said, "I accept your rebuke." He turned to the others, saying, "The girl should be sent to the other two."

Ginny disappeared. "Do not fear," an expressionless, genderless voice stated. A ripple went through the group. Riddle realized that this was one voice he had never heard before. He suspected that it was from the oldest of the group.

"Since you wish time, we give you seven days to decide. If you decide yes, you do not have to join immediately. You cannot change your mind if you say yes, but you have up to decades to actually join. Riddle will stay here, as he is, until then."

"Thank you."

"You should also know that another person close to you besides your three friends will be here soon to help advise you, along with another who I believe is a stranger to you."

"Dumbledore and your associate?" Harry asked after a few moments' thought.

"Exactly. Go back to your room. They shall be with you within the hour. The three girls will be with you as well."

"Is there any chance I could be with them first?"

"As you wish." Harry was popped back into the bed chamber.

"But what do these people want with Harry?" Hermione asked.

"They must want Harry to join them," Luna pointed out.

"Exactly," Dumbledore said.

"Remember, while eight of the Lords made themselves immortal with sorcery and ritual. . . ."

"How?" Hermione interrupted.

"Six with Philosophers Stones and two with a more complicated set of potions and rituals," Sergius answered, "at least as far as I know. I could be off in my count. The important thing is, they took five wizards like Harry and made them immortal. They are offering him that, along with his higher level of power back."

"We have to stop him!" Hermione cried out. Luna, looking horrified, nodded her agreement.

"Why?" Sergius asked.

"What do you mean, 'why'?" Hermione demanded.

"You can't be eager to see Harry die," the young-looking man said dispassionately. "Are you afraid he will leave you in a few decades, as you age and he remains young?"

"I wondered how you could look so young," Hermione accused. "You're one of them, aren't you?"

"More or less, mostly less," Sergius answered.

"Don't try and distract us from Harry," Luna warned.

"I am not. We cannot yet reach him yet. Briefly, I was born in the year when Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus was consul for the fourth time and Publius Decius Mus consul for the third time, or 297 bc by your dating system. Although part of the Patrician and then-wealthy Gens Sergia, my father had married the daughter of a Prophetess. My older brother and I were very magical, my sister and younger brother were not. Now, many of the Patrician Gens had more than a touch of magic in them. That's probably how we claimed divine ancestors of one type or another."

"Like Caesar," Hermione commented.

"Like Caius Julius Caesar the Dictator, yes. When I was in my teens, a plague swept through Italy, killing off all the intelligent magical creatures, and killing perhaps a tenth of the wizards and witches, including my mother. Over the next seventy years, the plague would sweep through five more times."

"We learned that the plague had taken even higher tolls east of us, and less to our west and north. Still, a number of what you would call wizards and witches feared the plague would return, as it indeed did. A group of twenty-six joined together to make a Philosopher's Stone. While it is incredibly difficult for even the most brilliant alchemist to make one, the group had nine excellent alchemists."

"Twenty-six is an odd number for a magical group," Luna pointed out.

"It is. I was brought in as the twenty-seventh by my brother. We began working when I was eighteen. The accident occurred just before the Nones of August, the year Cnaeus Cornelius Blasio was consul for the first time and Caius Genucius Clepsina consul for the second time."

Hermione cleared her throat.

"Sorry. 270 bc. The short version of the story is, all the others were killed, while I absorbed the powers of the Stone." He grinned nastily. "That's why I've had to kill so many vampires. They want to feed off of my special blood."

"So you're almost two thousand three hundred years old?" Hermione asked.

"Oh, I'm much older than that," Sergius answered. "After the third wave of the plague swept through Italy, most of us who remained left for Rushak. I came back, in your time, over three hundred years later, if what you would think of as the year . . . 72."

Hermione mind bent. "That . . . that would be. . . ."

"That would be over three thousand years," Luna said, breathlessly.

"I have gone back to Rushak for shorter visits. I won't swear to it, but altogether I believe I am just over six thousand years old, give or take a year or two."

"Does magical power really increase with age?" Hermione asked.

"It does."

"How powerful were you? How powerful are you?" Luna asked.

"I started off slightly more powerful than either of you. I am currently much more powerful than your lover ever was. Remember, while none of the current Lords are really more powerful than I am, four of them are more-or-less as powerful, and the others are all at least slightly stronger than Harry currently is."

"Getting back to Harry," Luna said, "why can't you get to him and help him?"

"He is not in any physical danger," Sergius assured them.

"But they must be working with Riddle!" Luna protested, while Hermione agreed.

"No, they are using Riddle. They want to offer Harry membership. Riddle wanted some of his transformations back. They agreed to consider restoring one, if Harry was lead back here without Riddle's hurting anyone."

"Why?" Luna asked, before Hermione could.

"No more than one of them leaves the valley at a time. They could have kidnaped Harry directly, but that would have hardly inclined him to listen."

"And kidnaping Ginny would?" Hermione asked.

"Of course not. Remember, I said they would consider restoring one of Riddle's transformations. I would imagine they are offering to kill Riddle for Harry, if he will join. They will transform Riddle only if Harry refuses to at least join later."

"Do you know that for certain?" Dumbledore asked.

"Well, no. I suppose they might transform and release Riddle if Harry doesn't immediately agree to join, sooner or later."

"We were going to capture and imprison Riddle dimensionally," Hermione said righteously.

"The transformation would allow Riddle's spirit to live on temporarily if the body is destroyed, and keep the body going for up to a thousand years," Sergius told them. "The traps you can create do not last that long."

"Why would they do that for Riddle, anyway?" Hermione asked.

"Well, there was a very difficult dark ceremony, which took twelve steps spread over three months. It took the sacrifice of several dozen lives, and rarely worked. The Lords long ago created a three-step process, which did not take the direct sacrifice of anyone."

"'Direct sacrifice'?" Luna asked.

"It had to be done in the presence of six dying people. Anyway, they had created a one-step process. They wanted to test it, and Riddle wanted to undergo it."

"And these people think they're not dark?" Hermione asked.

"They think of themselves as utilitarian."

"But. . . ."

"You are thinking like the mortal you are," Sergius said. "They believe they are doing the greatest good in the long-term. Do you think in four or five thousand years people will care any more about your Muggle World Wars than your Muggle classmates cared about the wars between Egypt and the Hittites? In a hundred thousand years, will any of this detail matter?"

"But what if Riddle had taken over. . . ."

"You weren't listening. When a dark wizard gets too powerful, magic itself provides a champion to fight him. Should that champion lose, another is born or thrown up by chance. It's never taken more than two."

"You mean. . . ."

"I mean, in the end, Riddle could not win. Neither Light nor Darkness can win. It's all very . . . Zarathustrian."

"But your friends believe they can overcome Higher Magic," Luna pointed out.

"So they do," Sergius agreed. "Well, they think they can sidestep it at any rate. Seven of them are very brilliant, far surpassing anyone in this room. They calculate it would take between twenty-one and twenty-four immortals of a certain power to outflank higher magic. They decided long ago to wait until the number is twenty-seven as insurance."

"Might that not just cause an even more powerful dark backlash?" Luna asked.

"If they tried to assert direct control, yes, I believe so, although they are not so certain. Still, that is why they will NOT try for direct control."

"They've been at this for about three thousand years," Hermione pointed out. "Aren't they worried that it may take another three thousand?"

Sergius laughed. "Time is not our major concern, Miss Granger."


"Good morning, Miss Weasley. Allow me to introduce Titus Sergius. . . ."

"You! They said you're one of them!"

Sergius skillfully dodged Ginny's lashing boot. "I am associated with the Lords of Magic, but I am not of them." He dodged again. "Calm yourself, Miss Weasley. We need to know how Harry is doing."

Ginny glared at the man, then looked at Hermione and Luna. Whatever she saw there made her calm down. "I take it you've told them who these bas . . . err, people are?"

"I have. Did Harry make his choice?"

"No, he didn't. They wanted to give me to Riddle, but they backed down when Harry called them on it."

"Good," Dumbledore said. "We still have a chance to work this out."