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Chapter Eighty-Five: Mage




And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence





The silence that followed Grindelwald's escape seemed to suffocate. Wraith did not move, never took her eyes off of Voldemort, even as he rose to his feet. She had rarely seen him so twisted with rage, but thought distantly that his was nothing compared to hers.

"You…let him escape," Voldemort said. His voice was dangerously quiet. "You allowed him to escape!" He crossed to her, quick as a snake. Quite obviously forcing himself not to strike at her.

With his face now mere inches from hers, Wraith spoke very softly, "What am I?"

The simply question had Voldemort taking a step back from her. He studied her face, seeing for the first time the fire that ran under her skin.

Wraith turned, fully facing him. "What—am—I?" she demanded again.

"What did he tell you?"

"Why won't you answer me?" Wraith asked, "Of all the things I ask, why do you never answer me this? I have served you, killed for you, loved you. Why is it so difficult for you to give me a name? One single word?"

"I did give you a name," the Dark Lord reminded her.

"A name you created for me," she replied, "Name me again, now. Tell me what I am!"

"You are mine!" Voldemort snarled, "That is all you need know to serve me!"

"Mage."

The Dark Lord froze where he stood. Wraith took a step towards him.

"I am a Mage," she whispered, tasting the word that was at once foreign and familiar. "That is what Grindelwald named me. Tell me why he could do what my own Lord could not?"  

"You did not need to know," Voldemort said, his voice soft and low again, his tone cautious.

"But I wanted to," Wraith said to him, "You've given me so much, why not this?"

Voldemort slapped down the hand that had so carefully reached out to him. "If I were to name what you are, 'Mage' would be the closest," he said, "But the Magi of the past were little more than accidents of birth, anomalies in pure-blood families. You were created with greater purpose."

"Greater purpose," Wraith replied softly.

Something in her snapped. She leapt at him, clawed hands reaching for his throat. Voldemort grabbed her by her wrists, holding her back.

"Greater purpose!?" she snarled at him, fighting tooth and nail against his hold. "I was made to be nothing more than a tool! A power source for you to glut yourself upon! Whatever I have become for you now, don't you dare try to pretty that up! You would have left me in Azkaban if it had suited you! I would have died there!"

"Don't assume that you won't still!" Voldemort told her.

He pushed her back and she stumbled, falling to the ground. Before she could rise again, Voldemort knelt beside her, grabbing her roughly by her hair and pulling back her head.

"Whatever you have become for me, don't you dare forget that I am your Lord and Master!" he hissed, "Your life is mine to give or to take from you. I could strip you of your power, every drop of your strength, and keep you on the ragged edge of death for the rest of your miserable life. You've your strength and freedom, such as it is, only because it suits my purpose. I shouldn't have to remind you how easily I could change my mind."

He released his hold on her, shoving her back onto the ground as he stood. "One could think that our arrangement has made you forget your place," Voldemort said smoothly, "Let us correct that mistake."

Even though she was ready for the pain and had been since the moment had released Grindelwald, Wraith could not fight the scream that was ripped from her along with her power.




He left her bleeding on the forest floor. After the pain subsided, Wraith realized that Voldemort had simply walked away from her. She turned onto her side and curled her legs up to her chest.

True night had fallen now and the forest was dark and alive with sound. Wraith lay still, lacking the strength to stand. She closed her eyes, still battling the strange fire that had filled her when Grindelwald had give name to what she was. She felt the blood under her nose and her throat was raw from screaming—and yet, as she lay there, Wraith felt oddly at peace. How easy it would be to lay there and never rise again. How easy…

"Apologies."

Wraith's eyes snapped open. Grindelwald knelt a few feet away from her.

"He punished you but good, little Mage. Can you stand?"

Wraith shook her head. "Net even if I wanted to," she whispered hoarsely, "Go away, wizard. I want not your help."

Grindelwald waited a beat and then, with a sigh, he stood.

"Wait."

The dark wizard paused at her word.

Wraith lifted her head slightly. "Your wand…Voldemort wanted your wand. It was that which you stole from Albus's tomb."

"Yes," Grindelwald said simply.

"Good to know," Wraith murmured, laying her head back down. "Why did you come back?"

"I did not go far," Grindelwald told her, "I heard you scream."

"You returned out of the goodness of your heart?" Wraith asked with a sneer.

"Curiosity."

"Ah," Wraith murmured, smiling slightly. Then she grimaced and rose up to retch, the taste of blood vile on her tongue.

Grindelwald tilted his head to the side as he watched the bright red blood fall from her lips. His face darkened. "I had no high opinion of your Lord," he said, "and I am no one to cast stones. But he has meddled in something here that twists the natural order."

Wraith laughed under her breath, spitting bitterly, "And you have not?"

"Of course I did," Grindelwald said haughtily, "in my errant youth. I have learned better since."

"Oh, of course."

Wraith's eyes fluttered shut and Grindelwald fell silent. Very slowly, he approached and knelt beside her. She had slipped out of consciousness. Grindelwald touched a hand underneath her cheek, turning her face upwards.

"I know what that fool did," he murmured, "but I've no clue as to how he did it. Nor what this bond between you really is. You will find me again, Lady Mage, and we shall speak further."  




When Wraith woke again, she was in the comfort of her own bed. Puzzlement filled her, for she could not remember how she had come to be there. Clara was curled up beside her, clinging tight to one of Wraith's hands.

The room was dimly lit by the fireplace, spilling shadows into the corners. Wraith sat up slowly, keeping her hand wrapped in Clara's. Harper was sitting on the floor in front of the fire, a book open in his hand. When Wraith stirred, his head snapped up. Seeing that she was awake, a smile broke the morose expression fixed on his face.

"My Lady," he said, standing and crossing to the bed, "Dieu merci, I'm glad to see you up."

Wraith returned his smile and reached with her free hand to take his. "What happened?" she asked him, "The last thing I can remember is the forest…"

"The Dark Lord returned to the Manor without you," Harper said, "Clara and I didn't know what to think, especially since he was in such a fine and foul mood. We waited almost an hour before he ordered us out to the forest to collect you."

"You found me then," Wraith murmured, "You brought me back."

"We did," Harper said. He sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned forward to kiss Wraith's cheek. He squeezed her hand in his and the smile on his face faltered, "He punished you. Why?"

"I did something very….spiteful," Wraith said slowly, "He was…understandably upset with me." Her eyes fell to Clara, still sleeping beside her, and their entwined hands. "What time is it? How long was I out?"

"It's nearly three in the morning," Harper said.

Wraith blinked at him. "And yet you're still awake?"

"I caught a couple of hours here on the couch," he said with a shrug, "But I woke a little while ago and couldn't get back to sleep. How do you feel?"

"Like I've been wrung bone-dry," Wraith replied evenly. She closed her eyes a moment at a flash of dizziness.

Harper saw it in her face and released her hand. "Get some more sleep," he told her, "I'm staying here tonight, so we'll both be here when you wake."

"You don't have to do that, Harper," Wraith said as he stood up.

"I want to," he said simply.

Wraith looked up at him. In her weariness, she could not help but wonder why. Here were two who knew her for the monster she was and loved her anyway. What had she done to merit them? Wraith lay back down, turning to Clara's sleeping form. She felt Harper touch a hand to her hair before he was gone. With them near, Wraith slipped easily back into sleep.




For all of her exhaustion, Wraith did not sleep all that long. Her mind burned with what she had learned the night before, about herself, about the thing that the Dark Lord had been seeking all those months abroad.

It was just past dawn when she slipped from her bed, moving slowly and painfully towards her bookshelves. Clara slept away on the bed, Harper on the couch. Neither stirred and Wraith hoped to keep it that way for a while yet. She reached her books and pulled down one she had borrowed from the Hogwarts' library.

Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Wraith moved to sit in the chair by the fire, which had all but died away. In its meager light, she turned to one particular story. The Tale of the Three Brothers. Once more, she read the story of the brothers, of their arrogance, their misery, and their wisdom. But this time it was with greater understanding.

A wand more powerful than any in existence; a wand that must always win duels for its owner; a wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death!

So, such a thing did exist. It had been in Dumbledore's possession and now it was in the hands of Grindelwald—and the Dark Lord wanted it. She didn't have to guess at why. She understood her Lord. He feared Death like nothing else, sought immortality and boasted that he had done so. Even the very idea of such a wand would have inflamed him.

Wraith closed the book, wishing she had the strength to make a journey to Hogwarts. She wanted—no, needed—to speak with Dumbledore. He had been buried with the wand, surely he knew much about it.

And about Grindelwald. It struck Wraith as strange, now that she thought about it, that Grindelwald had apologized at Dumbledore's grave. The story that everyone knew was that Dumbledore had defeated Grindelwald in a great duel, putting an end to the dark wizard's attempt to make the world his own. Yet if they had been such foes, why did it seem they had been on a first name basis? Why was there regret in Grindelwald's voice when he had plundered his former enemy's tomb?

There were a hundred questions Wraith wished to ask of Dumbledore. Maybe now that she knew of the wand—the Elder Wand—he would speak more freely.

Running her hand over the faded cover of Beedle's book, Wraith closed her eyes against a fresh wave of dizziness. Her limbs shook sporadically and it took great will for her to keep herself in the chair. Voldemort had done more damage to her than she had realized.

As if her thoughts had conjured him, Wraith felt the echo of the Dark Lord's presence at the bottom of her tower. She tried to sit up straighter and felt only a twinge of pain at the attempt. "Harper," she called out softly, "Antony, wake up."

On the couch, Harper stirred, sitting up slowly. "What is it?" he asked in a whisper.

"Wake Clara," she ordered, "He's coming."

Coming fully awake, Harper sprang up, darting to the bed to shake Clara's shoulder. Clara made a noise akin to a growl, but somehow she sensed Harper's urgency and she was able to pull herself out of bed. "What's going on?" she asked in a sleep-blurred voice.

"The Dark Lord's on his way up," Harper told her, "We need to be ready to leave."

"Antony," Wraith said. Harper went to her side, kneeling by the chair. Wraith held out the book to him. "Put this away for me," she said, her eyes on the door, "Quickly."

Harper took the book and replaced it on the shelf just as a loud singular knock came from the door. Clara and Harper froze.

"Answer the door," Wraith said softly, breaking their paralysis.

Harper steeled himself as he crossed the room to pull open the tower door. Voldemort looked down on him with a sneer.

"Leave us," Wraith instructed.

Harper looked over to Clara, who was still shrugging on her robe. Not bothering to tie it, Clara hurried to Harper's side and their stepped around the Dark Lord as he entered the tower.

Closing the door behind him, Voldemort surveyed his Wraith with sharp eyes. She returned his sharp gaze.

"Good morning, my Lord," she said softly, "I would rise, but…" She let her voice trail off, her lips twisted in a self-deprecating manner.

Voldemort sat in the chair across from hers. "Your chosen servants are inexplicably loyal," he told her.

"They love me." At Voldemort's pronounced sneer, Wraith had to smile. "Yes, I know your thoughts on love. But it has its uses nonetheless."

"I had not fully expected you to be conscious yet," Voldemort said lightly.

"Ah, perhaps I am merely sleepwalking then."

"I grow tired of your tongue, pet."

Wraith lowered her eyes. "I do not blame you," she murmured.

She could feel the chill emanating from him, his anger burning cold.

"…I'm sorry," Wraith whispered, "for what I did. I was angry. I was spiteful. But I've no excuse for letting Grindelwald escape like that."

There was a moment of silence before Voldemort spoke. "Well," he murmured, "It would seem that Hell has frozen over sometime in the night."

Wraith lifted her eyes to his again. "Are you going to punish me again?"

"I think not," Voldemort replied evenly, "You seem to have learned your lesson."

"Then may I ask you a question?"

"If you must."

"…Did you suspect that Grindelwald would know what I was? Is that why you never sent me to hunt him for you?"

"I suspected, yes," Voldemort admitted, "But the hunt is mine alone. That is why I did not send you."

"Why couldn't you have just told me?" Wraith asked him, her voice trembling despite herself, "I should not have to learn these things from the lips of our foe."

"That was a misstep on my part," Voldemort said, "Though, I do admit that I do not understand your fury."

"Neither do I," Wraith whispered, looking away. She felt a single tear run down her cheek, cold on her skin.

"Wraith."

She dashed the tear away and looked at Voldemort.

"I do consider you the best of what is mine. You have proved time and time again to be more valuable than I could have ever expected. But if you ever again show me such disrespect, I will put you back in Azkaban."

Wraith seemed to shrink into herself at the softly delivered threat. She sat in silence, her silver tongue hobbled by her fear.

Voldemort sighed, sitting back in his chair. "Can you stand?" he asked her.

"I doubt it," she replied tightly.

The Dark Lord stood, stepping over to her chair. Wraith flinched when he reached out a hand. Unmoved by her obvious fear, Voldemort reached down and took her up into his arms. Despite the fear and fury inside her, Wraith clung to him, closing her eyes. Voldemort carried her to the bed and laid her gently upon it.

"Rest," he told her, "Recover your strength. There is little doubt that we will need it soon."

"Yes, my Lord."

Voldemort ran his hand over her hair once more before he left the tower. Only when she felt his presence fade away did Wraith open her eyes again.

If Voldemort had still been in the room, he would never again believe that she was loyal to him. Not with the utter hatred that burned there in her gaze.

"I will kill you before I let you lock me away again," Wraith promised in a soft and deadly whisper.




Sometime in the late afternoon, Wraith lifted her eyes from the book in her lap and stared out the window. She was laid across the chaise beneath the glass, the soft sunlight streaming in from behind a thin layer of cloud.

"Clara, do you smoke?"

Clara blinked, looking up from the dress designs she had spread out on the floor around her. "On occasion," she said with a shrug.

"Do you have any on you?"

Clara shook her head with an apologetic smile. Harper stood up from the couch, crossing to the chaise. He offered a thin cigarette to his Lady. Wraith looked slightly surprised. She had only ever seen Harper smoke in large company before. But she took the cigarette from him and allowed him to light it for her. She pushed open the window a crack, letting the smoke drift out in spirals.

"Since when do you smoke?" Harper asked her, sitting on the other end of the chaise.

Wraith smirked, still staring out the window. "Never really have before," she admitted, "but I seem to be of a mood today." She breathed in the smoke, closing her eyes. "I suppose they remind me of a friend."

"That vampire of yours?" Clara asked from the floor.

"Yes," Wraith said, "I haven't written him in ages. I should correct that today, I think."

Clara abandoned the sketches and moved to sit on the floor beside the chaise, putting herself next to Harper's legs. "How're you feeling?" she asked Wraith.

"Well and fully drained," Wraith muttered bitterly.

"Tony, give us one of those," Clara said, lightly punching Harper's leg.

Harper grinned and pulled out his cigarettes again. Clara lit one and stood up so that she could flick the ash out the window like Wraith was.

"You know," Wraith said lightly, "I'm not sure that I see the appeal of these things."

"It's an acquired taste," Harper told her, "They're good for when you want to do a little damage, albeit to yourself."

"Hmph," Wraith said, "Guess they won't do me any good then."

"Point taken," Harper said.

"Anybody against me breaking out the whiskey tonight?" Clara asked.

"No arguments here," Harper replied and Wraith shook her head.

"There," Clara said, "Now we've something to look forward to."

"Antony, will you bring Severus here to me?"

Harper blinked at the sudden request. "Of course, my Lady," he said gently, standing up. "I'll return with him shortly."

"Thank you," Wraith said softly, catching his hand in hers.

Harper smiled, bringing her hand to his lips. "I won't be but a moment," he promised.

When he had left, Clara took his place on the chaise, looking at Wraith with worried eyes. "Want me to get parchment and ink for you?" she asked.

Wraith glanced at her in surprise and then she smiled gratefully. "Yes," she said, "Thank you, Clara-dove. I don't know what I would do without you—or Antony."

"Yeah," Clara said, standing. She leaned down to kiss Wraith's forehead. "We know."




When Harper returned with Snape fifteen minutes later, Clara had set Wraith up with parchment, quill, and a heavy book laid across her lap to write on. Clara herself had gone back to her sketches on the floor in front of the wardrobe.

"Wraith."

Her head snapped up and her eyes immediately lit to Snape. "Severus," she said, "Thank you for coming."

Harper went around Snape to reach Clara. "Come on, sweet," he said, taking her hand. He looked to Wraith. "If you need anything, we'll be close."

"Thank you, Antony, again," Wraith told him.

Clara blew an impetuous kiss to Wraith before she let Harper pull her from the tower.

Alone now, Snape studied Wraith closely. "What happened to you?" he demanded swiftly.

Wraith licked dry lips, looking away from him. "The Dark Lord and I had a bit of trouble last night. With Grindelwald."

Snape inhaled sharply and he took a step closer to where she sat. "Are you alright? Were you harmed?"

"Yes, but not by him," Wraith said with a twisted and bitter smile, "There's something I haven't told you. I'm not even sure why I didn't."

Snape said nothing, he merely waited.

"I've come across Grindelwald before, a few times now. He's been shadowing the boundaries of the Manor for months, but my protections have kept him out."

"Let…let me see if I understand you," Snape said slowly, "Grindelwald…the wizard who tried to take Europe by the throat half a century ago…you've just been...'running into him'?"

"The first time I saw him was that night of the new moon," Wraith said, "When the Dark Lord had offered Lupin to Rafe and his pack. You recall how that particular party ended?"

"How could I forget?" Snape muttered, recalling perfectly how he had been forced to cut a bullet from Wraith's spine.

"Before we were attacked, I'd felt something odd at the Manor's border. I searched it out—and I found him. He said nothing that night. He tipped his hat to me and vanished. But I believe that it was him that told the Order where the Manor was, where they could find Lupin."

"And you've seen him since then?"

"Not long after you gave me Hakuul," she said, "I'd taken him out riding early in the morning. I felt Grindelwald testing the protections I'd placed. I was curious…so I went to him. I confronted him about breaking into Dumbledore's tomb and I asked him what he took. He told me to read up on my fairy tales," she added with a smirk.

"Fairy tales?"

Wraith's smirk became a grin and she waved a hand at the bookshelves. "Tales of Beedle the Bard," she said, "Are you familiar with them?"

"Not especially," Snape replied with a sneer, "They're children's' stories. Ridiculous fancies." His sneer deepened into a pensive scowl. "Why would he have even been out there in the first place? —Do you believe Grindelwald is trying to get to the Dark Lord?" Snape asked her.

Wraith slowly shook her head. "He came back for me, Severus. Grindelwald had no interest in Voldemort. He returned to find me."

"What did he want?" Snape asked, unable to imagine a reason.

"To talk," Wraith replied, "He…incapacitated Voldemort so we could speak privately. He told me…that he knew what I was." She closed her eyes and took a steeling breath. "…And that I should not exist." Wraith shook her head as if to clear it. "He was almost angry with the Dark Lord, because of me. Because Voldemort had created me."

"He claimed to know what you are," Snape reminded her, "Did he tell you what that was?"

"He said…that I was something called a Mage," Wraith whispered.

"Mage?" Snape repeated, frowning, "I'm sorry to say it's nothing I've ever heard of."

"Nor I," Wraith said, "But I believed him, Severus. That word…something in me recognized it."

"What happened to you, Wraith?" Snape asked again, "I can see quite clearly that you've been weakened."

"Voldemort woke," Wraith told him, her voice soft and slow, "…and watched as I let Grindelwald go."

"…You were punished," Snape said, his voice low.

"Thoroughly," Wraith replied wryly. "But there's more," she added softly.

"What?" Snape asked, his tone indicating that he wasn't all that sure he wanted to know.

"I know what Grindelwald stole," Wraith said, looking up at him again, "I know what the Dark Lord was hunting for all those months before Grindelwald ransacked Dumbledore's tomb."

Snape's eyes narrowed and he moved to sit on the chaise beside Wraith. "What was so precious that Dumbledore had to be buried with it?"

Wraith could see in Snape's eyes that she was not the only one who had grown tired of Dumbledore's evasive replies. "It's called the Elder Wand," she told him, "During the fight last night, Voldemort ordered me to take Grindelwald's wand. After it was over, Grindelwald admitted to me that it was the wand that he had taken. Remember, Severus, I'd already gotten the clue about the fairy tales and there is one tale that I found myself rereading after last night. The Tale of the Three Brothers. Three brothers traveling along a path at twilight; they meet Death and think they've outwitted him. Each brother is offered a prize of their choosing. The first brother tell Death that he wants an unbeatable wand, worthy of one who has conquered Death himself."

"You cannot be serious," Snape said flatly.

"Deadly," Wraith retorted, "Whoever holds the Elder Wand will always win his duels. He could be as untouchable as I am. And I, for one, do not want to see any more power placed in the Dark Lord's hand."

"So," Snape said, "Now we've yet another task. Not only must we hunt down the Horcruxes and find a way to free you—we must also keep this…'Elder Wand' out of his reach."

"Well, at least we're never bored," Wraith said with a cheshire grin.
:iconimhappyplz:



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Harry Potter & Characters J.K. Rowling
Wraith T. M. Zai
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:iconsysira:
sysira Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013
I just finished reading this story and I have loved every moment. the character depth and the plot twists are well done. I am rather sad to see that this is the last chapter since may of 2012. I do hope there will be more at some point. I'm rather curious about her history and would love to see this to the end.
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:icontmzai:
TMZai Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I've moved, if you're still interested. :) archiveofourown.org/users/TMZa…
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:iconaniteowl:
ANiteOwl Featured By Owner May 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
"Well, at least we're never bored." This is officially the best line of the entire story. :rofl:

Seven hells...I'm not even sure where to start. Although I had had a sneaking suspicion that Voldey wouldn't be too happy with Wraith in this chapter, I will admit that I was surprised by the severity of her punishment. Of course, it didn't help that she tried to claw off what little of his face there was but I was quite shocked nonetheless. And to think, things had been going so smoothly. :sarcasticclap:

But, on a much more positive note, I was utterly moved by the love that Harper and Clara clearly have for Wraith. I might have even teared a bit. :iconhappytearplz:

This has certainly been a rather messy speedbump in Wraith's grand plan but I was grateful that she was able to temporarily let go of her anger, or at least bury it beneath the surface, and ask Mr. Snake Face for forgiveness. What I found truly haunting were her words once he had left her bedroom: "I will kill you before I let you lock me away again." And boy, am I looking forward to it. Not to mention Grindelwald's inevitable confrontation with Voldemort. :evillaugh:

Thank you for yet another wonderful chapter and the next time you update, I will have an equally lengthy review ready for you! :D
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:icontoomanymaarbles:
toomanymaarbles Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
:iconimdeadplz:
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