A huge thanks to Sovran, moshpit and Jonathan Avery for editing this little piece.
A special thanks goes to Ilovecats, my PS beta.
Additional thanks to Sovran, for allowing me to mess around in his MoO universe.
And thanks for all the squid!
Note that this story is Alternative Alternative Universe.
The Magic of Hogwarts castle affects the objects and people within her walls more than anyone could possibly believe. Throughout the centuries, simple decorations have become magically animated works of art. Secret passages have appeared by themselves, and the staircases started to move a mere five hundred years ago.
Even the portraits, hanging on those Scottish walls, live with a higher level of consciousness than any other portraits in the wizarding world. Few wizards and witches even consider that only the magic of Hogwarts enables a giant squid to reside in a freshwater lake.
The castle itself has a certain level of awareness, which perhaps explains why many potentially dangerous situations end with only a few bruises and scratches.
A bespectacled, green-eyed boy sat next to a red-haired girl on a four-poster bed. He pointed his wand at the soft object in his lap. Letting his magic build up, he whispered a spell.
The small redhead smiled and took it, hugging it tightly to herself. The two children snuggled under the bed covers, close to each other. In minutes they fell asleep, never knowing that the castle had decided to interfere in their nightly ritual.
The first thing he noticed was the darkness surrounding him. The second thing was that he was held firmly in a constrictor-like grip. He shifted around within the strangle-hold, and, after a few moments of struggling, he clawed free and emerged from the warm cocoon. A thin ray of light gleamed from under a door. Without looking around he jumped down from his current location and rolled into an awkward fighting stance to ease his fall.
His ears twitched as he listened to ensure that the students slept on unaware. Secure in the familiar sounds of the night, he slipped under the curtain around the bed and out into the room. The weak moonlight shining into the room illuminated his first objective. With a few silent steps and an easy hop, he landed on the windowsill. The window was locked, but the castle allowed him to pass through the leaded glass as though it did not exist. Once outside, he rested on the narrow ledge and gauged the drop. He was confident that his light weight would give him a safe landing. No, he had little to fear. The castle would protect him.
Thinking about what it might be like to try flying, he leapt from the ledge.
As expected, he landed softly in the grass at the base of the tower. Standing up, he scanned the grounds to make sure he remained unobserved. He had no time for delays. He was on a mission.
He ran as fast as he could towards the front gate, where he could just make out the statues of the winged boars. Taking a quick look at the sky, he could see that the sunrise would soon follow. The transfer of knowledge had taken longer than he thought, and his time was running short.
Deciding on the best course of action, he thought Tripudio and jumped. The rush of magic propelled him high into the air, over the gates of Hogwarts castle. It really was a bit like flying.
Seeing that the ground was closing in on him faster than he was prepared for, he bent his knees and thought Arresto Momentum. The spell turned the ten-foot leap into a child's hop.
Sending his magical senses out, he frowned and then ran to escape the Anti-Apparition wards that blanketed the area. After a few moments, his magic told him the grasp of the ancient magical protections was declining. As soon as he was out of their reach, he vanished with a Pop!
Although his borrowed knowledge of magical theory and spells was unmatched, his magical reserves were only enough to finish his mission. Still, he remained calm and focused. He was ready to give his life for this cause. In fact, it was necessary. Fourteen quick Apparations took him only a couple of hundred feet from his final destination. He could have done it in half the jumps, but short jumps conserved his limited reserves.
Stopping to think, he repeated the plan in his mind. The long lost ritual known as Animus Solvo freed all of the parts of an entity's soul to pass on. It did not matter how the fragments were trapped in this reality, as the sheer life force of the caster would cut all magical ties. The sacrifice needed for the ritual to work was a life. His life.
Again he released his magic and sought out his target. He felt it near, and he knew that if he could, he would retch from the foul magical signature. Forcing himself to calm down, he turned east and started walking. The night was almost over, but it did not concern him. He was close.
After a few minutes of walking through the forest, he saw a dark opening in the rock on his left. As he approached, he did not need his magic to know that his target was there.
Scrambling over a few rocks, he reached the small entrance. It was not big enough for a human, but then he was not one. Neither was his objective.
The cave was dark, but a quick, weak Lumosfacila filled the area with a very dim, blood-red light. A fetid miasma filled the narrow cavern, and he found himself thanking a greater force that he could not smell.
A sudden noise stilled him. Turning around carefully, he found his victim. The creature was curled about a mound of bones and filth in a dank corner. The thing had once been a large feline, but it was now little more than an abomination. Dark Magic hung about it like a cloak, staining its patchy fur with the inky, impenetrable black of nightmares. The pie-bald skin was visibly torn, cracked, and bleeding. If he had not known better, he would have thought it was a carcass. It might have been breathing, but he could not care less. He had but one last critical task to complete. The only task that mattered.
With infinite care, he stalked his target until they were a finger-width apart. Revolted that he had to touch the creature to complete the ritual, he put his hand on the beast's flank, careful not to rouse it from sleep. Nausea rose up within him, but he hardened his resolve as there was not time for such distractions.
He shut down all of his senses and let the magic build up. Slowly he began chanting in his head. The magic pulsed through him and around him. He stood at the edge, poised to strike.
Suddenly, his concentration broke. His body slumped and became fluid like melting candle wax. NO! This cannot be happening! In all his planning he had never considered that his magical reserves included the magic that was holding his form. Before he could react, his world went black, and he was no more.
An hour later, Lord Voldemort opened his eyes in his current hideout. He was weak, and it always took time for his senses to start working properly after waking up. Again he cursed the damned boy who had sentenced him to this poor half-existence. As the world around him became clear, he noticed that something was covering the lower part of his latest host. Turning his head around, he spotted an object he had not seen in forty-seven years.
Surprisingly, Ginny was the first to wake up on that particular morning. Harry's body was still asleep. After taking some time to clear their thoughts, she noticed that something very familiar was missing.