Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

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Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-01 01:26am

Welcome to my new fanfic, Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

To avoid spoilers, I'm not going to say much about it here besides the fact that it is obviously a Harry Potter fanfic. But I will say that it is a crossover between the Harry Potter and "Gargoyles" franchises, and that it follows book canon (with divergences due to the crossover) for Harry Potter, and TV show canon (again, with divergences due to the crossover) for "Gargoyles". Non-book/show material, including behind-the-scenes material, for both franchises will be incorporated as it suits me.

It is my intention to be as true to the themes and styles of both franchises' as possible. Divergences in plot and character development will occur by necessity given the premise, but I will try to make certain that they are justified by the premise. If any reader feels that I am failing in these endeavours, constructive criticism is encouraged and appreciated.

Now for the obvious disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or "Gargoyles", or any of the characters appearing their in. This work is not for profit, and I am making no profit off of it. No infringement of anyone's rights or property is intended.

This is my first fanfic posted on this board (though by no means the first that I have written), so here goes.


Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

The late October night was dark, damp, and cold. Over the gentle hills and fields of the English countryside, a shadow flew. The wind was strong a hundred feet above the Earth, but the shadow scarcely felt it. She glided silent on bat-like wings, scales gleaming faintly in the crescent Moonlight, her tail twitching to compensate for a sudden burst of wind as she studied the fields below for any watchers out this late at night.

The land, the shadow named Demona reflected, was not so very different than it had been, a thousand years before. Rolling hills and patches of trees, farmers' fields dotted with sleeping sheep. The occasional cluster of lights that marked one of the cursed humans' villages, poisoning the world with their very presence. All the more keenly, for that strange similarity, did she feel the absence of her kin, her kind, slaughtered a thousand years before by the hand of human treachery.

She had not wished to return here, to a land so close to and yet so distant from the land of her birth. But her search had lead her here, back to the shores of ancient Albion. Hidden in the small village of Godric's Hollow, the legends said, was an artifact, or artifacts, of great mystical power. Power to give the wielder dominion over death itself. Her eyes glittered hungrily in the Moonlight. With that power, she could do anything, even rid the world of the human vermin once and for all. Other possibilities whispered in her mind as well, less dark but no less terrible, but she refused to acknowledge them.

As the wind failed and she began to lose altitude, she saw a higher hill ahead of her, a thick row of hedges running along its crest. She aimed for the top of the hill, but as she reached the crest, she cursed, as the golden lights of a village shone in the valley below. She must have been closer to Godric's Hollow than she had known, if she had her bearings right. As she neared the top of the hill she folded her wings, dropping into a crouch and landing silently behind the hedge row. She crouched their for several seconds, watching and listening, but no alarm was raised. Of course not. Even if she had been seen, what human in these ignorant times would actually believe in Gargoyles, much less claim that they had seen one?

Below her lay the village, but by the number of lights still shining brightly, and the distant chatter of childrens' voices, she knew that it would be some hours before it was safe to venture into the village itself in search of her quarry. Indeed, she was surprised by the number of people, especially children, out and about, until she remembered what time of year it was. Of course, she thought. That ridiculous human custom of Halloween.

She did not fear the humans, of course, but an alarm might prove... inconvenient. Best to wait, and search the village when the humans were asleep. She had many hours to find her goal before dawn, and if need be, she could find a safe hiding place to sleep during the day and return the next night, and the next, and for as many nights as it took to achieve her goal.

Perhaps twenty minutes passed as she crouched behind the hedge, watching the village and listening for any sounds of approaching humans. Once, twice, an owl hooted. She thought she caught a glimpse of a fox dashing through a hole in the hedge and smiled slightly, feeling a certain affinity for the cunning hunter of the fables.

A flash of green and white light blazed in the darkness, followed an instant later by a crack like a tree being split by lightning, then a roar as of falling masonry and shingles. At the same instant, there was a palpable surge of magic, cold and poisonous and cruel. A distant memory arose- the Archmage casting his power at a trio of Gargoyles in a cave beside a gaping chasm. But another sensation quickly overwhelmed the first, a sensation of something so sad and yet so warm and whole and... she was shocked to realize that she was blinking back a tear, then cursed whoever cast that spell a moment later. So many memories that warmth had brought to mind, memories that she had almost forgotten that she had. Memories of warm fires and good food and the laughter of friends, of... family. And a clutch of eggs in a small room below an old stone castle.

She crushed the memories and the pain that came with them ruthlessly, her eyes blazing red in fury as she peered warily through a gap in the hedge. She could see nothing unusual. After a moment's uncertainty, she craned her neck to look out over the top of the hedge.

The houses directly below her were unchanged, save for a few more lights, and the first onlookers hurrying out into the street to see what had made the unexpected noise. Idiot humans, she thought scornfully. As if they could have done anything against whatever had done that.

She swept her eyes along the row of houses.

The third one to the right had lost half its second story. Even from this distance, she could see the flicker of orange flames.

Instinct told her to stay away. Pride told her that she would not be frightened away like a rabbit, and experience told her that this might be worth investigating. A powerful mage could be a dangerous rival- or a useful ally, if a temporary one. Either way, she would enjoy making him pay for what he had inflicted on her, however unwittingly.

It wasn't as if she could actually die, she reflected bitterly.

She jumped the hedge easily, then crouched low and silent again, waiting to see if the movement had gone unnoticed. It had, the humans' attention still evidently drawn by the explosion and the ruined house. Crouching at the top of the hill, she leapt once more and unfurled her wings, gliding in one long swoop to alight on the nearest side of the shattered roof, concealed from the street on the other side of the house. She felt some of the shingles slide beneath her weight, but she dug her claws in and, although the timbers creaked, they held. She waited once more, listening, but no alarm was raised.

That was when she heard the crying.

It was a high pitched wail, sounding like a cry of pain and fear in equal parts. It took her a moment to place the sound. The cry of a human infant.

She felt a surge of disgust at the child's mewling weakness as the memories, brought to mind by that accursed spell, started to surface again. Carefully, she crept around the gaping hole in the roof, having half a mind to smother the irritating brat in its crib. She peered around the charred end of a shattered crossbeam, down into what must have been a nursery. Debris, some still smouldering, was scattered across the floor, and a section of the ceiling had collapsed into the the room, burying a bookcase and table beneath it. By some chance or twist of fate, however, most of the debris had missed the crib in the centre of the room. A small child lay curled in the crib, still crying. A few feet away, the body of a young woman with long red hair lay sprawled on the floor, her face pale and her eyes staring. Between the damage and the amount of time that the child's cries had gone unanswered, Demona guessed that no one else was alive in the house, or if they were, they were in no state to respond. Even humans would seldom abandon their own young, and this had the look of a family dwelling.

More memories. An empty castle. Flickering flame. Mangled flesh and shattered stone.

She snarled and prepared to drop through the hole in the roof, to finish the night's work and put the little brat out of its misery. But she heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs and froze, retreating carefully back until she was hidden behind the remnants of the roof, peering through a hole where a pair of shingles had come loose.

She watched as a young man with long, black robes and long, lanky black hair framing a pinched, swallow face stumbled into the room, then dropped to his knees with a cry of agony beside the dead woman. He knelt their, sobbing, as he cradled her body, rocking back and forth as he stroked her face and hair, murmuring "Lily" over and over again, along with the words "I'm sorry. Lily, I'm so sorry." Demona found the display rather nauseating. What good would the fool's regret do? Regret would not bring the dead back to life.

After a long time, the young wizard laid the woman who must have been named Lily gently on the ground, then rose and stood for a few moments, gazing down at her in silence. The child's cries had faded to an occasional quiet whimper. Demona idly wondered if it was dying, or if it had simply run out of breath. With a final, murmured "I'm sorry", the wizard turned to leave, then stopped and looked back toward the crib. He gazed at it blankly for a moment, then turned and strode from the ruined nursery and out through the door to the stairs.

Despite herself, Demona felt a flash of anger and contempt at his departure. He clearly loved the woman, at least as much as a creature such as him was capable of love, and yet he had left the child she cared for to the whims of chance. It was another reminder of the craven and treacherous nature of the human race, and she briefly entertained the image of throttling the life from the vile man, but her mind returned quickly to the task at hand. She had delayed here too long, and she was surprised that no other humans had already ventured up the stairs to investigate. Whatever she hoped to gain here, she had to do it swiftly. The sorcerer or creature who had done this was clearly gone. Still, it might be worth the risk to search the house, or at least the upper floor. If a creature of power had come here, they had likely done it for a purpose. Perhaps the family that had dwelt here had possessed something of value, maybe some magical weapon or artifact. Perhaps, she thought, they might even have possessed the legendary Hallows, or at least one of them, though she knew that that was unlikely. And if they had, she knew, the killer had likely plundered them already, but it would be foolish not to be sure. So, after checking again to make certain that she was unobserved, she dropped into the nursery with a thud, cursing to herself as the debris crunched loudly beneath her talons.

It took her perhaps five minutes to make a search of the nursery and the adjacent bedroom and washroom, as well as the body of the dead woman, and she was pleased to find that the search turned up more than she could have hoped for. She found several magical items, although most of them seemed like curiosities more than anything else, needlessly complicated household items that used magic for the most ordinary of purposes, including an incomprehensible, ornate clock that seemed to tell how long you had until various upcoming appointments, along with a pair of talking portraits who harangued her with questions and demands as she searched the house, and a book of moving photographs. What a foolish waste of such power, she thought, and how typical of humans to flaunt their trivial gifts in such a manner. She smashed the clock in shear irritation, ignored the portraits, and continued her search. Of greater interest were the books of magic (though she ignored the cook book and the childrens' books with the ridiculous moving cartoons). On top of a dresser in the bedroom she found a long, thin stick of carved and polished wood, which she suspected was the dead woman's magic wand. Fool, Demona thought, to leave her weapon where she could not reach it. She was never unarmed, she thought with a smile, flexing her talons, but the weak, miserable humans had no such advantage. Inside the dresser were some articles of clothing and a stack of letters. She perused the letters briefly, but they appeared to be mostly common correspondence, of no importance. She left the letters but took the stick, slipping it through her belt, then picked up up as many of the magic books as she could carry under one arm while still leaving the other free.

Having concluded her search, she prepared to climb out through the hole in the ceiling, then paused as the child made a curious sound behind her. Almost against her will, and against all of her instincts, she turned her head to regard it. It was a boy, perhaps a year old, with green eyes and thin black hair. On his forehead was a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt. He was standing now against the railing of the crib, holding the bars in both hands and staring at her with wide, innocent eyes, innocent of the body that lay a few feet away, and the fact that she was a different species than he.

She wasn't sure why she did it, but she took a step toward him, then another. She stepped over the fallen body of the woman who might have been the boy's mother, then leaned forward, peering over the edge of the crib at the child within. The sight stirred something within her soul, some memory or instinct long thought lost. She recoiled from it in disgust, and for a moment she stood indecisively, caught between the impulse to destroy, the impulse to take, and the long-hurried impulse to give aid and comfort. Then her reason caught up with her instincts, and she began to consider the possibilities.

The child was very young, not yet raised in the ways of humankind. He was innocent of her nature and of his own, and he would be almost entirely dependent upon others for some years. He was still a human, true, but perhaps he had not yet been entirely poisoned by their ways and beliefs. A foolish, naive thought, she knew, but still, a new human servant or ally could prove very useful, especially one raised from infancy in her service. A human could go places that she could not, and more importantly, move in day light. And this boy might possess other powers, which she could also bend to her service. And if he proved untrue, or more trouble than he was worth, she could be rid of him easily enough. She had little to lose, and much to gain. It wasn't a gambit that she had tried before, but that very fact made it all the more intriguing. Their was little enough in her existence that was new, nor had their been for the last eight centuries or so.

Besides, she thought, the child belonged to the humans. They would not wish it taken, perhaps, and that loss would bring them grief. She smiled cruelly. The humans had taken her children. Only fitting, then, that she take one of theirs'.

She heard heavy footsteps from the floor below, and thought she heard a loud sob and a muffled cry that sounded like it had been made by someone very large. She cursed to herself. She had waited far too long. In an instant she made the decision, stepped back to the crib, and lifted the child out of it. It started to cry out, but she lifted a hand to its mouth, muffling the sound. It was difficult to scale the wall holding both child and books, and she had to creep out of the village on foot, dropping to the ground behind the house once she was certain that she was unobserved and then creeping as swiftly as she dared through a tangled, overgrown garden before jumping a low picket fence and climbing the hill behind the village. Only when she was behind the hedge and in the next field over, and still heard no sound of pursuit, did she allow herself to relax. Spotting a cluster of trees atop another hill a few hundred meters off, she made her way towards it through the long, wet grass. The wind had picked up again, and the child cried as the cold wind bit at them. She held him closer, enveloping them both in her wings, and he quieted, as she crept beneath the trees.

In the densest part of the grove, she found a cluster of thickets and bushes high enough to shield her from sight, if none came too near or looked to closely. She cleared a space in the centre and crouched their, placing the magic books on a dry patch of ground beneath the bushes. She gazed down at the child and saw that he had fallen asleep. She smiled and held him close, as she waited for the dawn to come.

"Tomorrow, little one", she murmured. "Tomorrow is the first day of your new life."

***

On a darkened street in the suburb of Little Whinging, an old man with a flowing white beard, long purple robes decorated with stars and moons, and half-moon glasses stood with head bowed, facing a tall, sharp-featured woman with grey hair in a bun and a broad-shouldered giant with a long coat and a tangled black beard.

"You are certain that the child was not in the house?", he asked the giant softly, speaking slowly, as though each word deeply pained him.

"I'm sorry, Professor Dumbledore", the giant sobbed. "I searched the whole house, top to bottom, and even the garden, but their was no sign 'o him. Young Sirius Black showed up a few minutes after I did, and he helped me search, but we found nothing. The poor lad was nearly frantic, kept sayin' 'ow he let them down, meanin' poor Lily and James I suppose, 'ow he was 'arry's Godfather an' it was his responsibility to look out for him. He looked like he'd seen a ghost, and when we couldn't find the boy, he said that I could 'ave his motorbike. Said he wouldn't be needing it any more." The giant looked worried at that. "I thought about goin' after him, makin' sure he was alright, but I had to report to you, to tell you that poor little 'arry was... was..." The giant broke into a loud howl and then fell silent, wringing his hands miserably, looking like an overgrown school boy who was afraid he'd be scolded.

"You did rightly, Hagrid", said the old Headmaster with a sign. "I will alert the Ministry and the Order, those we can trust, and being the search. Black, as well, must be located. With luck, it may not yet be too late." The old wizard did not sound hopeful.

"But, Professor Dumbledore... if the child is gone, then surely You Know Who..." the woman trailed off, evidently unable to bear to voice her thought in full.

Dumbledore shook his head.

"No, Minerva. Voldemort (Hagrid and Minvera both flinched visibly at the name) did not leave the Potters' house alive, or at least not wholly alive, of that I am certain. And I very much doubt that even he could have spirited the child away with him in such a state, or disposed of him in any manner that we could not detect."

Minerva and Hagrid both looked ill at his words.

"What about a Death Eater?", Minerva asked after a few moments of silence.

The Headmaster hesitated.

"It is possible", he said finally. "Pray that it is not so. If we are fortune, perhaps one of the neighbours rescued the boy before Hagrid arrived."

"Surely they would have told someone", Minerva protested. "If their intentions were benevolent."

"It might have been a Muggle", Dumbledore replied. "Drawn by the blast. They would contact the Muggle authorities, not the Ministry or myself. Perhaps it is so." He sighed again, looking around the deserted street. "I do not believe their is more that we can do here tonight. Return to Hogwarts, or join the partying if you have the heart for it. I must be off."

"I will come with you", Minerva said determinedly.

"And I'll ask after young Mr. Black", said Hagrid with forced enthusiasm. "I know some of 'is 'aunts, might be I can track him down, affore he does somethin' he oughtent to."

Dumbledore looked like he was about to object, but didn't have the heart to do so.

"Very well, Rubeus", he finally replied. "And thank you. But if you find him, do not approach him, but notify me at once."

Hagrid looked confused, and worried, but at a sharp glance from the Headmaster, he quickly nodded his assent. Then Dumbledore turned and strode back to the end of the block, Minerva following close behind him. He paused at the corner and drew out what appeared to be a small cigarette lighter, which he flicked again and again, sending little balls of light flying back into the unlit street lights. Then he pocketed the device and, with another deep sigh, turned on the spot and was gone. Minerva followed a moment later.

Hagrid watched them depart, then climbed onto the waiting motorbike and, a few moments later, rose into the air with a loud roar.

***

The faint golden rays of dawn peeked through the curtains of an elegant bed chamber in one of the finer hotels in Paris. A young man dressed in a white robe sat on the bed, his long black hair and tanned skin combining with his roguish, confident expression to give him a rakish charm. He was currently watching, with moderate interest, a news report on the BBC, one of numerous similar reports to provide the masses with a diverting distraction over the last couple of days.

"...and we have another report of owls, whole flocks of them, flying over London in broad day light. Ornithologists have yet to offer any explanation for this highly unusual behaviour."

Their had been many such reports over the last couple of days, he recalled, and odder things besides. Flocks of owls in London, shooting stars over the English countryside, gatherings of people in strange clothes, in pointy hats and colourful robes, who disappeared as soon as someone approached them or tried to speak to them. Some might have called it coincidence, but the young man did not believe in coincidence. Some might have called him a dreamer, or other terms less flattering. He only smiled at such jibes, for he was not concerned with the opinions of lesser minds. He had always known that their was more to the world than met the common eye, ever since he had been a young boy, and a precious antique coin had arrived in the mail...

"David", Monique's voice called from the balcony. She was a woman whose' company many men would pay a great deal for, though she had not asked him for anything. "Come and join me. Or would you like me to come back inside?" Her voice was alluring, and for the moment, he decided, he could put aside the puzzle of owls and strange robes and shooting stars.

After all, what was the point of being rich if you couldn't enjoy yourself along the way?
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Postby LadyTevar » 2016-09-02 12:18am

A very nice start. Lets see where you go with this
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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 03:56am

Thanks.

I have quite a few ideas for where to go with this, but I can't say much more without spoilers.

I'm aiming to post another chapter roughly once a week.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Harry Potter and the Gargoyle's Curse.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2016-09-07 05:59am

Demona moved quietly between the small rows of weatherbeaten grave stones, examining each name even as she listened carefully to hear if anyone approached. A few of the names on the gravestones she couldn't make out, even with her superb night vision, but most were still legible. If the stories were correct, somewhere in this cemetery might lie the remains of the three Perevel brothers, the makers of the legendary Deathly Hallows.

She was nearly at the back of the graveyard when she heard a clear pop. She paused, listening intently. It had come from behind her, from the direction of the little cemetery's gate. She crouched low, straining to hear the sound of low voices coming from the path near the gate.

"And what exactly is it that you hope to find here, Albus?" A woman's voice, quiet but sharp.

"We must determine if the child is still in the village", a male voice replied. Demona tensed at his words. If he was looking for the boy...

There was a few moments' silence. Demona carefully looked around the nearest tombstone, trying to spot the interlopers. She could make out a tall figure in a cloak standing just inside the gate, and she thought she saw another, shorter figure further back in the shadows. A cloak, like the wizard in the ruined house...

"This way!" The man's voice suddenly rang out, filled with hope. Demona tensed as the figure moved swiftly through the little gate, another, slighter shadow swiftly following him. She caught a murmur of the woman's voice, but she could not make out the words. The encounter, however, had deeply unsettled her, and she was prepared to bet her immortal life that they were heading in the direction of the little hollow where she had left the child, along with the items she had taken the previous night, out of the wind and bundled in a blanket that she had removed from a clothesline on the edge of the village.

Her first thought was to abandon the child and the items, finish her search, and be glad that the strangers had not remained in the cemetery. If those two were in fact both mages, she was not too proud to admit that she would have likely been outmatched in a fight. On the other hand, the Hallow, if it was here, was not going anywhere. It would be foolish to abandon assets that she already possessed on the off-chance that it might hasten her acquisition of another weapon, however powerful. So, snarling under her breath, she waited for a moment, listening until she was sure that their were no humans nearby, then climbed swiftly over the rail around the little cemetery and ghosted across the lane and into the undergrowth on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow.

It took her perhaps twenty minutes, alternating between running and gliding, to circle 'round the village and reach the small copse of trees where she had concealed the boy, along with the magic books and wand. She smiled slightly as she saw that they were still undisturbed, the child hanging in an improvised sling from a low hanging branch, the books and wand concealed in the undergrowth beneath. She was not a moment too soon, for no sooner had she finished bundling books, blanket, and child into the bag that she had brought with her (intended to carry the Hallows back to France with her), moving carefully so as not to endanger or wake the child, when she heard a shout, and dropped to a crouch just in time to avoid a bolt of red energy. It struck the tree behind her as she snarled, eyes flashing white, then spun and, snatching up the bag, leapt half-way up the nearest tree. Something struck the trunk, just below her left talon, and made the whole tree quiver as a sound like a bell chimed loud and clear, and silvery light flooded the grove as she clawed her way higher up into the tree, her heart beating faster than it had in years.

"No Albus, you'll hurt the child!" She heard a woman's voice shout, and the spells ceased flying, though the luminous silver light remained. Racing along one of the lower branches of the great evergreen tree, she glanced down and saw a tall, old man with a long, flowing beard dressed in a purple robe, and beside him a woman in black robes, perhaps a little younger than the man, with short grey hair tied in a bun. Both were staring up at her, and both held a wand in their outstretched hand, pointed directly at her.

The old man strode forward, haloed in silver light which shone from the tip of his wand, his eyes blazing with fury. His voice thundered, louder than seemed possible, and Demona shivered despite herself.

"RELEASE THE CHILD! RELEASE HIM, IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND MY SPEECH, AND YOU MAY LEAVE THIS PLACE UNHINDERED!"

For a moment, she actually considered it. Then she laughed, the sound harsh and cruel, scorning the arrogant human who thought that she would ever be fool enough to trust to his mercy.

"Too late!", she yelled, then sprang from the tree limb and into the air, trusting to her enemies' concern for the child to keep them from simply shooting her out of the sky. A gust of wind wafted beneath her wings, carrying her up and away from the pair of magi. She must have misjudged their desperation, or their confidence in their own skill, for she heard a crack and felt something brush past her and banked sharply, her heart beating just a little faster than it should have. Orange light flared behind her, and something hot coiled momentarily around her right leg. Then she was soaring over woods and fields, lit only by the light of the Moon, the only sounds the whistling wind, and the crying of the child, and the occasional flap of her wings.

***

Professor Minerva McGonnagle stood shivering beneath the trees a few hundred yards outside the village of Godric's Hollow, gazing in the direction that that... that thing had vanished, the anger and fear and grief and shear frustration threatening to overwhelm her. If only she had been a little faster, or Albus...

She glanced surrepticiously at the old Headmaster, standing beside her. He stood, still and silent, his wand still outstretched before him from when he'd cast that last spell, staring out into the night. His expression looked... lost, and afraid, and it frightened her more than anything that she had ever seen, even the terrible creature that had just escaped them.

"Albus", she finally said softly, and had to swallow and take a deep breath before she could continue. "Albus... was he... are you sure that that thing..."

For a long moment he did not answer, simply stood their, gazing into the darkness. Then...

"Yes", he said, so softly that she almost couldn't hear it. He slowly lowered his wand. "That creature had the boy. It... she... had Harry."

McGonnagle shivered, blinking moisture from her eyes, but she steeled herself and stood straighter, awaiting the Headmaster's next plan. He always had an answer, no matter how hopeless things seemed, and though she sometimes chafed at his peculiarities, she knew that deep down, she had always counted on that reassurance, had counted on it ever since she herself had been a young student at Hogwarts and he had taught her transfiguration classes.

Dumbledore didn't answer.

"Headmaster", she began, hesitated, then continued. "What... what do we do now?"

He was silent for a moment longer, then sighed, his shoulders slumping.

"I will review my books, and contact my sources in the Ministry, among Voldemort's (she flinched involuntarily) supporters, and overseas. Whatever that creature was, it is nothing that I have encountered before, and that alone would be cause for concern, if nothing else had happened here tonight."

"But the boy!" she cried, her frustration boiling over. "What about young Mr. Potter?"

"I will do all that I can", Albus replied wearily. "At the very least, we know that he is alive." Minerva nodded, grateful for that blessing, at least. "It may be that Mr. Black can provide us with some answers", Albus added grimly.

She grimaced. Who would have believed that Sirius Black, of all people, had sold out the Potters to Voldemort, that he was the traitor they had spent the last year looking for? She shook her head tiredly. She had thought, when she heard the news of Voldemort's destruction, that the long nightmare was over, but now she didn't know what to think. The world wasn't making sense any more, and even Albus didn't seem to have any answers, only guesses.

***

Three Days Later.

The aptly-named "City of Lights" glittered like a great multicoloured hive of termites beneath her as a warm breeze lifted her high over the roofs of the hotels and businesses and ancient buildings that lined the river Seine, toward the pair of great stone towers, black against the night, of the cathedral of Notre Dame. Despite the abundance of the human infestation, Demona smiled at the sight of the grand old cathedral, sitting on its island in the middle of the river, with the glittering city, ever alive, spread out around it. She'd always been rather fond of Paris, she admitted to herself, or at least as fond as she could be of anything that the humans had built. It was not the easiest place to move unnoticed at night, but it was big enough that one could easily become lost in the backdrop of the city, and it had innumerable old stone buildings where a Gargoyle could fit right in during the day. It was... not home, she had no home, and hadn't for many centuries, but it felt... comfortable. Familiar.

Soaring up to the very top of the northernmost tower, she alighted gently, gripping the stonework with her talons, then sprang nimbly down onto the roof. The child had fallen silent once they had left the cold, turbulent air over the English Channel and begun gliding over the fields of northern France. She had been concerned that the journey might prove too much for the child-human young were so fragile-, but the night air was warmer over France, and less tempestuous.

She made her way down into a small, dark chamber inside the tower. A quick examination showed that the hideout had been undisturbed during her trip- humans seldom intruded here, and she had taken considerable pains to conceal the entrance to the chamber. She had few possessions- a few tools and utensils, needle and thread for repairing her garments, a small collection of books, mostly on history and magic. She suddenly realized that she had almost none of the things that she would need to take care of an infant, nor did she really know anything about how to raise a human child. She had studied humans as enemies, as potential hunters and potential prey, and children were a small province in that study. She wondered, not for the first time, if this whole idea had been a ridiculous mistake.

But it was done, and to abandon it now would be to waste the effort and admit defeat. So she placed the child, still wrapped in his blanket, in the corner of the room furthest from the door, then began to pace, considering what to do next.

The child would need food, obviously. What did human children eat? She knew that they nursed, like any mammel, in the first years of life. Was this child old enough that he no longer required feeding in such a manner? She presumed so- she had fed him from a loaf of bread she had stolen while in Godric's Hollow, and he had seemed to find the food edible. He would need clothing, as well. Currently he was still dressed in the clothes he had worn when she took him from his ruined home, but it would be easy enough to acquire some more off of an unattended clothesline-she had done it often enough before.

She would also have to teach him to read and write, to perform arithmatic and magic. She didn't know at what age humans normally learned these things, but she decided that she might as well start now and see how far he got. She would limit his knowledge of magic, however, to what he would require to assist her in her more complicated spells and rites, at least until she knew more of what he was capable of- and how far she could trust him.

She also knew that she could not remain here much longer. The encounter with the mages at Godric's Hollow had decided that. She did not know if they possessed the means to track her here, but until she did, she could not risk remaining in the great cathedral. Besides, this place had been her home for too long. Too many humans might have seen something, and sooner or later, as always happened, their would be stories. Stories of a statue that came to life at night, a mysterious and terrible creature in the dark. Part of her relished those stories, knowing that she had left her mark, that the humans feared her, even if they did not know her name. But they also made her too easy to find, if someone was actively looking. And someone always was. Hunters she could deal with, but two mages was another matter. She needed time, time to plan, to find new weapons and to choose her battleground. And that meant finding a new hiding place. She growled in frustration, once more regretting her rash decision at Godric's Hollow. However, it was too late to change that now. She would just have to make the best of the situation. She was, in the end, a survivor. Whatever the cost.

But all of that would have to wait. It was well into the early hours of the morning, and the Sun would soon be rising. After making certain that the entrance was closed off and booby-trapped, and that the child could not get out or trip the lethal trap, she crouched between him and the door, mostly concealing him from the view of anyone entering the room. She could see the darkness lightening, the first rays of dawn peering over the horizon. She glanced behind her at the sleeping infant.

"You had better be worth the trouble, boy."

Then dawns' light rose over the city of Paris, and she felt the familiar sensation of her skin hardening to stone.

Demona slept, and dreamed of fire and blood and steel, of betrayal and death, of friends and kin long lost and forgotten, and of hunters in the night.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.


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