Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Breakpoint :: 15 :: Veritas

15 • Veritas

“Do you remember the park, Tonks?” Saiph asked. “I’m sure you do. Would it interest you to know that you were not the first to stumble over me and my children there?”

She narrowed her eyes at him dangerously. Saiph laughed softly, and was not exactly surprised when Andromeda began to do the same.

“Very well taught,” she repeated.

Saiph shot her a grin and summoned Ouzo, then whispered to him, asking the elf to inform Remus and Draco that they could join them, along with the twins. The elf popped out, at which point Saiph secured himself a pastry from the refreshments tray.

After a few minutes of strained silence (mainly on the part of Tonks) the door opened and four people entered. The twins rushed toward Harry and Lucius, holding out their arms in a plea to be picked up and cuddled, while Remus moved to take the seat nearest to his lover. Draco sauntered over to sit nearest to his father, the absolute picture of calm.

“You dog!”

Remus looked at Tonks and smiled. “Occasionally, yes.”

Saiph cleared his throat loudly. “If you don’t mind. . . . To be honest, I have no idea who should be introduced to who. In any case, these are my twins, Altair and Adhara. Twins, these are your cousins, Andromeda and her daughter Tonks.”

Andromeda reached over to briefly rest a hand on Tonks’s arm, then said, “What lovely children. It is very nice to meet you, Adhara, Altair.”

Adhara smiled shyly, letting her brother be the one to say, “Ma’am.” He then turned his gaze on Tonks and said softly, “We remember you.”

Tonks’s smile looked slightly unwilling, almost as though she couldn’t help herself. “Yes, I fell ill, unfortunately. It’s nice to see you two again.”

*

Lucius was silent. He was very proud of how Saiph was handling himself. There were times when the young man could be artlessly deceptive, even if Andromeda was not convinced. He did, however, find it humorous that she assumed someone had taught Saiph these things. It was either innate or came of having picked things up through observation.

The twins had eventually been seduced away by Tonks, who seemed happy enough to amuse them with her metamorphmagus ability prior to being talked into a session of colouring. Draco was with them, seemingly unconcerned with what else was going on.

He was brought out of his thoughts on hearing Andromeda say, “Well, with the exception of my delightful sister, it seems that we might actually be able to be a family united.”

Saiph tilted his head, but it was Sirius who responded. “More or less,” he said vaguely.

“I don’t wish to talk about him,” Andromeda said, then glanced at Lucius before looking at Saiph. “However, you should be aware that he does know you are under the protection of Voldemort.”

There was a pause before Saiph said, “I’m not sure if that surprises me or not.”

Lucius frowned, though internally. Certainly he would tell his lord of this, but he could not decide if how Saxeten knew the significance of the tokens was important or not. Andromeda was demonstrably neutral, but obviously not about to keep such a relevant detail to herself. He could only assume she knew due to her daughter’s involvement with the Order, which made him wonder just exactly how much the woman shared of supposedly secret information. It either proved that Tonks was less than discreet, or trusted her mother implicitly, and probably sought her out for advice in additional to normal familial interaction.

His eyes alighted on the mantel clock, prompting him to say, “It is nearing lunch. Will we have the pleasure of your company?”

Andromeda stared at him. “I could get to like you, in spite of what I think I know, or perhaps because of it. I haven’t decided yet. Lunch would be lovely, thank you.”

Saiph’s quiet laughter was all it took to make him smile.

Several hours later he and Draco left them to their conversation; the two of them parted briefly to get changed, then met up again at the stable. They were several minutes along the trail when his son finally decided to speak.

“Maybe it’s a bit early for me to be thinking about this, but I was considering inviting my friend to visit over Easter break.”

“Do you think she would be open to that?”

“I’m not sure, but maybe.” Draco gave him a sly sidelong look, then said, “I figured I’d mention it now, so that if you wanted to do some checking, you’d have plenty of time to do so.”

Lucius chuckled. “I see. Then I imagine you will finally be telling me the young lady’s name.”

“Of course. It’s Morag McDougal.”

“Ah. A pure-blood Ravenclaw, I believe.”

“Yes, she is. And I might add, one of the few people to just ignore what an unpleasant person I usually am, or was. Sounds almost too good to be true, but. . . .”

Lucius gave his son a sidelong look. “Then I shall assume you will be appropriately cautious. Time and careful exploration should reveal the truth of this matter. Well, that and a generous application of thought and reason.”

Draco smiled. “And I shall assume you will let me know if you decide an invitation would be . . . unwise.”

“Naturally,” he said as they rounded a corner, puffs of steam issuing from the horses’ nostrils.

“And if she should consent to come, should I be prepared to keep her well away from the Blacks?”

Lucius arched a brow in consideration. “That would rest with Saiph. Though, obviously, Sirius and Remus could not be seen.”

His son nodded and didn’t speak for a minute, then said, “I won’t worry about that until after you’ve spoken again on this matter. So, when do you think you’ll begin lessons for Saiph?”

“Shortly,” he said, quite suddenly far more interested in a different subject. “I have said this often enough of late, and it remains true. Draco, you are demonstrably growing up, and that gives me the impetus to broach a particular subject with you.”

Draco shot him an openly curious look.

“The Weasleys,” he said, expecting and waiting for a sneer from his son, which came. “Why do you believe we are at odds with them?”

“They’re blood traitors,” Draco said without hesitation, then frowned. “Wait. This is another one of your tests, isn’t it?”

Lucius smirked at his son and nodded. “Of course. So I ask again, why are we at odds?”

As expected, Draco said nothing for quite some time, and Lucius counted himself fortunate that his son again did not bother to school his expressions in his presence. Eventually Draco said, “I’m really not sure, aside from the fact that the Weasleys don’t trouble themselves with most pure-blood traditions.”

He inwardly smiled, quite pleased, and said, “Which traditions?”

Draco looked thoughtful again for a bit. “They don’t seem to take any pride in their lineage, which is odd considering that Mrs Weasley comes from the Prewett family, and both lines are intermixed with many families who do care. They don’t take any pride in what their name could do in terms of their place in our world.”

Lucius nodded. “What is your opinion of Arthur Weasley’s position in the Ministry?”

Draco sneered and opened his mouth to speak, then snapped it shut again, his expression suddenly one of recall. A moment later he said, “I suppose I can’t get all righteous about muggle stuff, now can I. Saiph is an example of someone who lives in both worlds if his stories are anything to go by, and he carries himself easily as a well brought up pure-blood. I still can’t tell if he likes them or not.”

He smiled at his son’s evident frustration. “Yes, Saiph has lived in both worlds comfortably,” he agreed. Draco then said something that made his heart swell with peculiar pride.

“I think the name of Mr Weasley’s department is ridiculous. Muggle artifacts?” Draco snorted and shook his head. “Somehow I don’t think some poor sod’s tea set should be considered an artifact just because a muggle made it. It isn’t as though they’re all dead and it was dug up from the ruins of a long lost civilization.

“Anyway, as for his position, it is an important one. I do think we need to be separate from the muggles. History certainly supports that, so people like Mr Weasley benefit us greatly when he performs a job of that kind. He’s a bit overexcited by muggle things, though. I shudder to think what might happen if he ever met Saiph.”

Lucius chuckled, for several reasons.

“But if that’s true,” Draco continued, “then why are you less than civil in public? Doesn’t it go against pure-blood ideals to be so openly condescending?”

“You are correct. However, I usually have a very specific reason to be so, generally for the purposes of misdirection.”

Draco stared at him, then said, “Oh. You mean like in second year when you were so snide in Flourish & Blotts? You had something to do with the uproar that year, maybe?”

“Something,” he agreed, flashing his son a smile. “Having had this conversation, can you see why I might have disagreed with some of your behavior in the past?”

To his delight, Draco grinned at him.

*

By the time February had rolled around no new information was to be had, though Lucius had ensnared several more people at the ministry. None of them got him any closer to the Prophecy Keepers, unfortunately. And then something extremely fortuitous happened.

Several Death Eaters happened upon an extremely drunk Sibyll Trelawney at the Three Broomsticks, and stuck around until she staggered outside and began to wobble her way back up to the castle. When she tripped over a rock and knocked herself out, one of the men took the opportunity to spirit her away to a quiet spot in the village while his companion fled to seek an audience with their master.

It was a Friday evening.

Lucius was dispatched at his lord’s command to secure the woman, which he did, bringing her directly to his master after dismissing the Death Eater who had stayed with the inebriated seer.

“My lord,” he said.

Voldemort smirked and nodded. “Let us take advantage of this. Place her in a chair and bind her.”

Lucius was there for hours, sitting quietly as his lord sifted through the woman’s mind, searching for anything related to prophecies given. While she may not consciously recall any she had actually voiced, they might still be lurking in her memory.

Eventually Voldemort slumped back, obviously extremely tired, but he sat up again before Lucius could do or say anything. His lord then conjured three vials and touched his wand to the woman’s forehead, drawing out a silvery strand, which was quickly contained. He repeated his actions twice more, then conjured stoppers for each vial. Those were set aside on his table before Voldemort cast thrice at Trelawney.

“Lucius,” Voldemort said, his voice crackling with fatigue, “see that she is returned to where she fell. It would be better for her to be discovered as though she never left Hogsmeade. Also, remember to remove any traces of our magic once she is in position. Go, now.”

“Yes, my lord.” He swiftly stood and levitated her, and returned her to the village with all due haste, carrying out his lord’s orders with celerity. Once she was in position he removed the spell that had been keeping her asleep, then cast another to cleanse the scene and her person of the mark of outside influences before slipping backward into the shadows.

He watched as she stirred, then rolled onto her back. Trelawney sat up and clutched at her head, then shakily got to her feet and staggered off back toward the Three Broomsticks.

He followed at a safe distance and observed as she flung open the door and said in a slightly slurred voice, “I seem to have misplaced the castle.”

Then he left, returning to his master’s side to report.

“Excellent. Before you go home, Lucius, find me replacement vials, ones which are not conjured.” Ten minutes later, after transferring the memories, he said, “Expect a visit from me after I have rested. Saiph needs to be aware of what I’ve found.”

*

Voldemort arrived during the lunch hour and Lucius immediately made room for him at the table.

Saiph was feeling exceptionally curious, and as a result barely tasted his food. He had no idea if the upcoming news would be for good or ill and kept vacillating between hope and depression. Lucius’s hand on his leg under the cover of the table was comforting, but not a cure-all.

A glance at Draco revealed the young man to be rather stiff, but Saiph attributed that to being completely unsure how to act in the presence of the Dark Lord. Saiph looked over to Voldemort and said, “By the way, sir, it’s Japanese tonight if you’d care to join us. I think we’re having teriyaki chicken and steak.”

The Dark Lord eyed him for a moment, then said, “I will consider it.”

When lunch officially ended (the twins were drooping) Saiph looked at Draco again. “I hate to impose, but do you think you could escort the twins back to the suite? You don’t need to stay there if you don’t want, as the elves can watch them. I know you might have school work to deal with.”

Draco hesitated, then said, “It’s no problem.” He got up and waited as the twins were removed from laps and lowered to the floor, then took one of each of their hands before bowing to the occupants of the table and leading them away.

At that point Voldemort stood and said, “Your study, I think, Lucius.”

They were settled in a few minutes later with a tray of beverages and a variety of wards tossed up. It was five long minutes before Voldemort nodded and said to Lucius, “Report what happened last evening.”

A few minutes of steady speech took care of that. Voldemort then leveled an intense gaze on Saiph. “It seems,” he said slowly, “that Trelawney does carry the gift. You know that from her prophecy regarding Pettigrew. However, I now hold the truth of what happened during her interview.”

Saiph jerked forward, curious beyond measure and filled with dread.

“I have brought three memories. The first is a record of her interview with Saxeten, and you will notice where twice the memory is misted. It will appear as a time skip. The second memory contains her first prophecy of that night, while the third contains the second. I have obliviated the woman thoroughly.”

Voldemort removed a pensieve from his robes and placed it on the desk, then emptied the first vial into it. After a round of looks were exchanged, they all touched the silvery substance.

The first thing Saiph noticed was that the room was dark and ugly. He had only ever seen the front room of the Hog’s Head, and this room was just as depressing in nature. Albus Dumbledore sat on one side of a stained and scarred wooden table, while Sibyll Trelawney sat opposite.

There was a door behind her; Dumbledore had been wise to seat himself to face it, though by looking at him one might not make the connection given his genial appearance and deceptively harmless aura.

Trelawney was doing her best to convince the old man that she was just as gifted as her ancestor, but was largely unable to produce any evidence, and it was clear to Saiph that Dumbledore was about ready to conclude things. And then the slightest shadow appeared beneath the door, and Trelawney stiffened.

A split second later Saiph and his companions blinked. Dumbledore was on his feet, staring intently at the door; there was the sound of a struggle outside. Trelawney looked befuddled and was fussing over her beads and bangles, whispering about the atmosphere of the room being inconducive to her craft.

Saiph wondered if it had anything to do with a lack of cloying incense.

Dumbledore spared her a look of incredulity, then looked sharply behind her as the door creaked open part way and a head came into view. “Ye had a listener, but it’s been taken care of,” the man said.

Saiph recognized him as Aberforth, and wondered anew exactly what might have been done to the man.

Dumbledore nodded, and the door creaked closed. A second later Albus was casting several privacy wards. No doubt, he would have done so earlier had he any idea that this interview might bear fruit. He retook his seat, casting a speculative gaze at the flighty female in front of him. “You were saying, Miss Trelawney. . . ?”

She rambled on for another fifteen minutes before anything of interest happened. As before, she suddenly stiffened.

As before, Saiph and his companions blinked as the scene changed before them abruptly. Dumbledore was pacing back and forth, an intent look on his face. He turned suddenly, a twinkly-eyed smile aimed at Trelawney. “My dear, I think that Hogwarts would be very lucky to have you as their new divination professor.”

Saiph was suddenly aware that he was back in the study, and shook his head to clear away the disorientation.

The memory was placed back in its vial and tucked away. “You should recognize this one,” Voldemort said as he emptied a different vial into the pensieve. But before anyone could position themselves he tapped the side of the device with his wand, releasing a misty memory of Trelawney to hover over the pensieve. And she spoke, her voice otherworldly.

“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. . . .”

Saiph bit his lip in frustration and confusion. “But—”

“I think,” Voldemort interjected, “that this next one will clear up your objection.” He swapped out the memories and tapped the side of the pensieve. Trelawney appeared again, and again she spoke in that fey voice.

“Son of two fathers, marked by a power, life beyond certain death. . . .
Father of two caliginous scions, so seals the chosen one. . . .
Vessel for a replication’s defeat, by the one oft maligned. . . .
Combined shall they bring down the pharisee, past female warrior’s death. . . .”

Saiph sat down with a thump. “Fuck.”

No one scolded him for his language. The memory was placed back in its vial and tucked away in Voldemort’s robes.

“Well,” Sirius said slowly, “I think we know who the son of two fathers is, who is also the father of two scions.”

Saiph buried his face in both hands and groaned, his stomach churning unpleasantly. “I’m going to have to kill, aren’t I?”

“This,” Voldemort said, “explains why Saxeten is so interested in the Blacks.”

“Huh?” said Sirius. “I can understand how we get that it’s speaking of Saiph, but, how would Saxeten? And what about the prophecy that was disrupted?”

“Who says the first one marks my master as being the dark lord in question?” Lucius said quietly. “Is not Saxeten also vying for that role?”

Saiph uncovered his face and began to gnaw on his lower lip. “If so, that’s one worry out of the way,” he muttered. He shot Lucius a weak smile when the man arched a brow at him. “Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind that you and I might end up on opposite sides if I was supposedly destined to defeat your lord, Lucius. I didn’t want to face that possibility, so I’ve been in denial. Now I can be grateful that I don’t have to.”

Voldemort nodded as though the proclamation was old news to him and as quickly dismissed it. “I am hardly a replicant, but I am oft maligned. As to why Saxeten would suspect the Black family, you needs must simply consider the final line. Surely I am not the only one to delve for the meaning of things.”

Remus perked up at that point, nodding his head several times. “Yes, yes, exactly. But. . . .” He frowned and looked at Voldemort, then said, “So she’s going to die, somehow. And Albus will take that as a sign. And if he finds out that Saiph has twins, well. . . .”

“True, but it may be that he assumes this prophecy can be twisted for his purpose. If he had the Black family on his side. . . .”

Remus nodded again, this time joined by Lucius.

“Do you think he’s counting Draco?” Saiph asked. “Actually, I can see why the old man could think this to his benefit. Think about it. While he might be a fake, he could easily assume that replicant applies to you having regained a body. And he as Dumbledore has been maligned, by the ministry and the press, during my fifth year. He may honestly believe that it pertains to your defeat, not his.

“As for that first one, I would question the meaning of defiance, but it could still fit either case. Sure, they fit that against you, as did the Longbottoms, but that doesn’t mean mine didn’t fit against him. Still, I have to wonder what on earth he makes of the vessel part of things.”

Voldemort shook his head. “I know how I interpret that.”

“Possession?” Sirius inquired.

Voldemort nodded. “Combined, certainly. We do have a clue, though not a time frame. Saiph, it might be your body, but it will be by my hand.”

He laughed bitterly. “I’ve killed once, by accident. I really didn’t want to have to do it again. At least. . . .” Saiph turned his gaze on Voldemort and half smiled. “At least this time it’ll be with full knowledge. It’s funny, really. The first time you were using a vessel I destroyed it. This time I’ll be that vessel, so please, when the times comes, be careful. I would really like to make it through this latest burden with my mind and body intact, not to mention my freedom.”

“You have my sworn word as Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort.”

Saiph nodded and leaned back to stare at the ceiling. “No more park trips.”

“I agree,” Sirius said quickly.

“I wonder, though,” Remus said, “if it will ever come out to the old man what sort of books Saiph was shopping for that day, if it hasn’t already.”

“For all we know he took the visit straight from Hermione’s mind. Or Ron’s.”

“Possibly,” Voldemort agreed. “Then again, Saiph may have been purchasing them for the child or children of a friend from outside the United Kingdom.”

“Should we spin a story in that direction in case the old man ever asks Tonks about it?” Remus inquired.

“Perhaps.”

Saiph sighed heavily. “What’s everyone’s thoughts on tracking down the girl and obliviating me from her mind? She knows damn well she bore me two children, even if she does think they died. I did a lot of obliviating myself then, but it never occurred to me to remove all knowledge of those events, or modify her memories to change my face and name. It can’t be that hard for Saxeten to send out feelers to the various schools and ministries to see if one of them has logged test scores for me, and that right there provides a starting point on digging into what background I have.”

“If he hasn’t already,” Lucius said, “and he might be able to get away with the inquiries based on Dumbledore’s reputation. He could always make out as though he has you in mind for a shot at the Defense position.”

“This doesn’t help, but he’s not said a word about you in any Order meetings, Saiph,” said Remus. “That could be good or bad. If he hasn’t started looking deeply yet, though. . . .”

Voldemort looked at Saiph, his eyes narrowed, then said, “Are you up for a trip, my young friend?”

*

Draco managed a desultory effort at his homework. The twins were only a minor distraction as Ouzo was there to keep an eye on them. He could not keep his mind focused away from his desire to know what could possibly have brought the Dark Lord to their home. He knew he had been sent away, and he was grateful that Saiph had done so very gently. He knew he was not yet an adult, nor sworn to the Dark Lord’s service. On the other hand, to the best of his knowledge, neither were the others aside from his father.

Whatever it was, it had to be big, and that meant he should probably keep his head down and his curiosity in check. The Dark Lord might not be exactly the person Draco had thought he was, but that was no guarantee that meddling and snooping on his part would not be severely punished. The only thing he could figure was that Saiph was the keystone . . . somehow.

He jerked out of his thoughts when the adults entered the suite, Voldemort among them.

“Draco,” Lucius said evenly, “there is something you need to do as a member of the Black family.”

He furrowed his brow and gave his father a hesitant nod.

“You need to swear the same familial oath to Saiph as Andromeda and Nymphadora have.”

He wanted badly to question the necessity, but the presence of the Dark Lord was a strong deterrent.

Saiph cast an apologetic smile at him as he approached. “I’m sorry, Draco, but it’s necessary. All this will do is prevent you, like them, from speaking of certain matters. I already know you can hold your tongue, as you proved it brilliantly during lunch that day, but this is a form of protection not easily surpassed.”

“This has something to do with Dumbledore, doesn’t it.”

Saiph nodded. “I’m sure when you’ve had a chance to think about this you’ll want to rail about the unfairness of not actually knowing why this is necessary. I’ve not forgotten how I was at your age, after all. But I need you to trust me when I say it’s important in a way not even I realized until today.”

He did want to protest, vehemently. He wanted to know why. But it was Saiph, one of the kindest people he knew. It was Saiph, a man who Dumbledore was trying to investigate, and Draco would not put it past the old man to use whatever means he could to get whatever information it was he wanted. Dumbledore might not overtly be against the members of Slytherin, but nearly none of them had ever trusted the man. There was just something . . . off . . . about that saintly visage.

Draco nodded. “Of course. A Malfoy I am, but also a Black, so if you need this from me, I will so swear.” He was warmed by the immediate smile on Saiph’s face.

“Thank you,” Saiph said as Lucius stepped up with a parchment in his hand.

A minute later Lucius had taken the parchment back, and Saiph had turned to Voldemort and inquired, “Will you be staying for dinner?”

Draco bit the inside of his cheek to suppress the urge to giggle he felt rising at the absurdity of Lord Voldemort enjoying teriyaki at their dinner table.

*

As an interim measure a private investigator was hired to track down the only female Saiph had ever had relations with. A muggle investigator, of course. Saiph had, at the time, already obliviated the hospital personnel, and his name was never written down anywhere as the father of the thought dead children, so they were not an issue.

The investigator tracked her down in Sheffield, Texas, she having moved on, presumably after her disaster with Saiph. The man was duly paid for the information, which had included her address and routine, and relieved of his duties.

And then Saiph and Voldemort arranged a little trip to the United States.