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Ianthe Dorea Potter frowned at the group of students in front of her, shoving a hand through thick, tangled auburn hair. There were not as many as she had hoped. And more Slytherins then she had expected besides. She had already broken up three fights between them and her own housemates, and it hadn’t even been twenty minutes.

Still, they had come to her for teaching, and Ianthe would teach them well or not at all. She’d have to set down some ground rules however, or nothing would be done. Not with so many clashing temperaments and the prejudice between not only the Houses, but the Purebloods and First Gens in the group.

Ianthe scowled, green eyes narrowing. She’d not wanted to do this in the first place . Curse Hermione Granger and her logic. But especially the foul stain on the human race that called herself Umbridge and the Ministry. She wouldn’t have had to teach anyone if the woman would only do her job rather than try to sink the Ministry’s claws into Hogwarts.

Or even if Dumbledore would just hire competent teachers, blasted fool. They were on the verge of war and still he did not see to it that his students could protect themselves. That pink toad was torturing his students right under his nose and either he was not observant enough to notice or he did nothing.

It was left for herself to do, as it had always been.

Ianthe flicked her wand sharply, a loud crackling snap echoing over the room. Silence fell as nervous and excited chatter ceased and all eyes to turn to stare at the Girl Who Lived.

“Those of you who are here,” she began silkily, in steely tones, “came willingly to me so that I could teach you what Umbridge will not. I’ve told you before that Voldemort,” almost every single person standing in front of her flinched and Ianthe inwardly despaired, but she continued strongly, “has returned- I don’t care if you believe me or not. I will tell you now, I am training those of you who stand with me, those who stay here, regardless of your choice or belief, to fight for war. I will train you to survive, to win.”

Ianthe paused a moment and raised her voice a bit higher, hardening her tone and standing resolute as she stared into the crowd. Most of them were children, but that had never saved her. At least, at the end of this, they would have a greater chance of survival than she did. At least they had someone to help them.

“When you fight somebody, I expect that person to stay down. They will not get the chance to stand up and go after another one of you, one who might not be able to withstand their attack without injury or loss of life. I want you to end fights.”

She pauses a moment to let that sink in, and then hardens her voice further in warning and with determination flashing in her eyes.

“I will not be gentle, I will not coddle you for your name, status or even your age. If you stand before me, you are simply a magic user and nothing more. It is my job to ensure your survival as soldiers in this war. You will not be defenseless victims who stood helpless as your friends and family were killed before your eyes. This is the Defense Association and I will teach you to fight, with your wand and without it, with your wits, your mind, your body and in anyway you can. If you cannot abide by those facts, and my rules that you will leave. Understood?”

Silence as both uneasy and determined glances were exchanged. There were soft agreements and scattered declarations.

Ianthe’s voice lashed over the murmurs like a whip, “Understood?!”

“Yes Ma’am!” The room responded, spines straightening reflexively.

In the short silence as the noise died down, the Weasley twins were clearly heard as they snapped their heels together and saluted, their voices perfectly in sync as they shouted, “By your command, General Potter!”

“Good,” her smile was sly and dangerous, as she raised her wand towards the people standing before her.

“Then let us begin.”

 


 

It’s not as if the Professors don’t care about them. They do. Even Snape, although the potions master expresses it by hurtling abuse and dishing out punishments, but she knows exactly why he can look at her and see the woman he loved and the man who tormented him throughout his Hogwarts years. Ianthe can tell from the photos Hagrid gifted her that she looks more like her mother, but she sees her father’s expressions on her face often enough.

Still, she notices exactly how many medicinal potions randomly appear in student’s hands. She doesn’t miss how Snape’s lessons shift to potions that will be extremely useful in the upcoming conflict. She will never not hate him for what he’s done to Neville (the boy who listened to his parents being tortured and yet the one whose boggart takes the shape of his potion’s teacher), or the fact he seems incapable of moving on from his own hate of James Potter, but…

He’s a bastard, but he’s not evil. Or at least, he’s not anymore.

He helps in his own way, even if that is a tough and handsoff way.

It’s better than McGonagall's brief warning of keep your head down , and it’s better than Dumbledore’s absences and the way all the other Professors have suddenly gone blind, deaf and dumb. Including Filius Flitwick who still doesn’t know exactly how bad the bullying in his House is, who has allowed it to continue on one of his ravens.

Regardless, there are no adults she can fully trust in Hogwarts. Not even Hagrid, as much as Ianthe loves him. He’s Dumbledore’s man, through and through. And he can’t keep a secret to save a life.

 


 

Time passes.

Umbridge continued her reign of terror. Ianthe continued training, Hermione continued researching spells, charms, potions, anything of use, and Ron had shifted his talent at chess to apply it to actual battlefield tactics.  

They were beginning to become an unit. Styles were melding, and fighting styles were being forged in practice and repeated use. Ianthe lets the corner of her mouth lift even as she watched the crowd of students- her soldiers now- flow together through various stances. She lets it continue for a moment before she snaps out a number without warning.

“Four!”

The group drops to the floor, and begins an army crawl across the Room of Requirement even as the layout changes and shifts under their bodies.   

While there had been some issues between the older Gryffindors and Slytherins, they were quickly resolved with a screaming match that revealed exactly how scared the snakes were that Voldemort would be torturing and killing their siblings or any other loved members of their family. Some had even said they hoped one or both of their parents would never come home.

That was when some of the reality of their situation sank in.

Ianthe got up to address the entire room on how abuse was still abuse, even if you weren’t physically hurt.

Emotional and mental counted as well. After all, the love for one’s parent was something that lingered even if they did not deserve it. The stunned and horrified looks on most of the faces in the crowd gave Ianthe hope that next generation of Gryffindors and Slytherins would be drastically different than the ones she knew.

She had been so proud, the first time she’d seen her own defending each other in the halls from the students who had not followed her into the DA. There were others that began to join. Ravenclaws with stacks of books on battle magics and spells for healing, for infiltration and everything a budding army could need. Some read the signs and decided they would not fight for Dumbledore, who either did not or could not protect them even in the supposedly ‘Safest Place on Earth’. Hufflepuffs rallied and slipped in two and three at a time, all with a grim set to their mouths and a determined gaze. For Cedric Diggory, they say fiercely enough, before adding, for Hogwarts.

The DA grows, as does what she teaches. She has them running around the Room, sparring an opponent or three until they all drop to the floor, panting and dripping with sweat. And she still flings Stupify at them. She teaches them to produce a corporeal Patronus, shows them how to always carry their wand and a dagger hidden on their person. She stands in the center of the room, hunches her shoulders and bows her head, saying, this is how you appear to be defeated and this is how you show adults you are nothing and have them believe it.

She develops a saying based on the school’s motto. Hogwarts’ Coat of Arms warned one not to tickle a sleeping dragon- and standing together, united in a single cause, they are the dragon.

“Thirteen!”

Ianthe’s voice echoes over the room, and suddenly the muddy landscape her soldiers had been crawling through changes and the students drop straight into a lake, its waters cold and murky.

Bless the Room of Requirement and all its many uses. She only hopes her use of it would prepare them all enough for whatever this war could throw at them.

 


 

It was a day of self study, when Ianthe was approached by one of the younger years, Marietta Edgecombe. Her hair had been shorn off at an awkward angle, obviously a botched attempt at dodging a cutting curse of some kind, and her face was the very picture of misery.

“Yes, Mari?”

Ianthe’s eyes were warm as she looked down at the young one.

“Why…” the little Ravenclaw paused “Why do we- do I- have to do this? I’m not...I’m only twelve. I shouldn’t need to do this.”

And Ianthe can see the tenseness in her shoulders, the helpless anger in her eyes. She kneels down to bring herself closer to the girl’s level even as she runs her answer over in her head.

“It’s not fair, I know.”

Ianthe’s voice is soft, but it carries around the room to all ears inside, “I would not teach you if I did not think you would need it. But Voldemort doesn’t care about age. That was proven when he went after me as a baby. That was the day I stopped being a child in truth. I was handed to my muggle family and treated like a house elf. When I was introduced to Hogwarts and magic in general, I thought everything would be better.”

Mari blinked up in surprise and a little confusion.

“It- it wasn’t?”

Ianthe’s mouth firmed.

“In my first year, I ended up killing my Defense Teacher in self-defense and Dumbledore praised me for it. He then promptly forgot about it and left me to deal with the aftermatch.

Granted, Voldemort was sticking out of the back of Professor Quirrell’s head, but it’s the principle of the matter.

“It’s not fair, but I have been where you are standing now, and I wished many times that someone had taught me something . And as each year passed, all the way until this year, I was tested by Dumbledore over and over again with higher difficulty every time. Now we’ve come to this. Voldemort lives again with the goal of wiping out all of wizardkind that does not match his ideals of ‘perfect’. This means all half-bloods and muggleborn will be killed, along with the purebloods that stand in his way. Your mother works in the Ministry, doesn't she, Mari?”

The wide eyed twelve year old nods in agreement, a touch of guilt on her face.

“Do you know, when someone wants to declare war against a nation, what is the first place they would likely strike?”

A moment of silence passes before Marietta gives her a hesitant answer of, “The...Ministry?”

Ianthe’s eyes are dark and serious when she nods.

“Yes, the Ministry. The government. This fact makes this your war just as much as my own,” her eyes lift to  dart around the silent room, taking in all the gazes that watch her, all the ears that listen, “which makes this our war, because people like your mother are targets not for anything she has done, but for what she is. Because she was born to a muggle and a witch. That would also make your children a target, because you yourself are a halfblood.”

Ianthe paused in the heavy stillness of the Room.

“Do you understand, Mari?”

The little girl is staring at her, eyes fixated on her, with a dawning understanding mixed with an ever familiar anger, when she nods her head whispering, “Yes General, I understand.”

Ianthe has given up on the DA calling her anything else, so she simply nods in acceptance and stands to her feet.

“I would not wish this on you, on any of you, but war is upon us so I will teach you to survive it to the best of my abilities

 


 

 

She had warned them often enough: war is upon us. Voldemort has risen. He’ll come to finish what he started. Be prepared, they’re coming and no one will save you.

She’d told them thousands of times, run them through their paces over and over until their very bones quaked with exhaustion and there she was, running each exercise with them by their side. All of them had seen each other, Gryffindor and Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, they had all seen one another collapsed to the ground in defeat, tears on their cheeks. They had witnessed their victories, when their opponents fell to their wand, to their plan and won . No longer were they divided Houses, rather trusted allies and comrades.

Despite that, she’s not too certain most of her soldiers understand that until the first attack happens in Diagon Alley. Shops are torn and raided, windows shattered, people hurt or dead, or worse, vanished without a trace. The dark mark sits in the sky, a stark reminder of a once bygone symbol of terror come back to haunt the older generations.

The Owls deliver it at the morning meal and while many focus their attention to the destruction showcased on the front page of the Daily Prophet , Ianthe watches Umbridge. She watches as the expression steals over her face, the way her emotions change and oh. She’s not pleased at this challenge to the Ministry, but Dolores Umbridge approves of the Voldemort’s methods and deaths of muggleborns and half-bloods alike.

Ianthe seethes.

She is sullen and angry when the DA file into the Hog’s Head where she has called them. Not all have come, but their sparring partners are carrying enchanted mirrors. Some are bruised or have visible scabbed over cuts, but most are unharmed, although their limbs shake. Still, when they see her, soot on her cheeks and emerald eyes flashing and narrow, they straighten sharply and meet her eyes with their own shoulders squared.

“It has begun,” she whispers as loud as a shout, “and we will not let this stand.”

 


 

So begins the various raids and plots of the Defense Association.

Ianthe had not planned this when she trained these students to survive, but she supposed she should have known it would happen. It is not Ianthe that demands they go out and stop the raids and attacks of Death Eaters, no, it is the DA themselves that look to her and ask, ‘How can we help?’.

The first step is a uniform. A way to hide their identity to protect friends and family. Faces could be counted, not figures in uniforms unless they stood directly in one’s line of sight.

Someone calls out dragonhide and an idea hits Ianthe like a frying pan to the face. In the Chamber of Secrets lies the corpse of a thousand year old Basilisk and all of its shed skin. How strong would its hide be? How much of it would still be there?

Ginny Weasley steps up and shouts her brother Bill works for the goblins, they would pay for Basilisk parts and that would be enough to fund them for enough armor for all of them, wouldn’t it?

The second step is supplies.

It’s Neville Longbottom who says he can get all the ingredients to a great many potions for healing, disguise and other uses to help the war effort.

Lee Jordan and the Weasley twins pipe up with identical smirks, offering their talents and skills in potions and creativity to do anything asked of them. Communication and ways to move unseen, leave that to us, they grin slyly.

Third: Information.

It’s Blaise Zabini who steps up and says he’ll be willing to feed them information from Voldemort’s supporters in his House, in exchange for him telling a few Slytherins who would be willing to help them if our dear General doesn’t mind training them.

Daphne Greengrass stands beside him and holds out a list of every loyal Death Eater in Hogwarts. On the back are the names of those who don’t exactly agree with the Dark Lord, but comply for the sake of their loved ones.

It’s Luna Lovegood who says she can get the word out, the truth for those who look, instead of letting the Daily Prophet print as they please.

Fourth: Strategies and exit plans.

Hannah Abbott rises to her feet and declares they must have guidelines to adhere to, code words and phrases to indict certain situations and actions needed to take to catch the enemy unaware.

The teenagers in their last year, or second to last year volunteer to recruit competent witches and wizards to the fight when they leave. They also express their concerns about the muggleborns and half-bloods who are living in the Wizarding World. We’ll warn them and get them out, if need be, they say.

It’s the children who can’t run as fast or shoot off spells as quickly as the older ones do who volunteer to bring extra bedding and long-term, non-perishable food. It’s these children who insist they’re going to search for all the secret passages for going in and out of Hogwarts itself. Those who are a little bit older, but no less young, ask for training on how to heal injuries.

Ianthe stands with Ron and Hermione, ever loyal and steadfast by her side as they stare at all the schoolchildren gathered in back room of the Hog’s Head. She cannot deny a part of her is proud, so very proud of every soul there. But she is also sad and it hurts to know that she cannot regret this even if she knows the last traces of innocence in their eyes won’t last very long from here.

The DA members bring suggestions to her and demand plots and answers. So Ianthe finds herself holding War Councils around a Round Table, opening discussions, taking opinions and requests into account. Ianthe that finds herself slowly taking the role of ‘Queen’ without even realizing.

Someone finds swords decorated with House symbols and colors in the Room of Hidden Things.Those are gifted to the most prominent members ( Ianthe does not mention the Sword of Gryffindor ). Eventually the Round Table is fitted with high back wooden chairs. From those there are cushions, furs and cloaks of rich crimson, emerald, sapphire and citrine that hang from them. Cloak pins of silver, gold, bronze and onyx pin them in place. Eventually, every member of the DA acquires one. Along with a single golden Galleon as a simple means of discrete communication, from Hermione Granger herself.

An army comes together, with matching uniforms made of Basilisk skin, each member equipped with support, training and a plan of action. Ianthe plots, strikes back, and makes a third side to the war that becomes very appealing to many others over time. More join her. Most are teenagers and adults barely into their twenties. All of them claim a muggleborn as friend or family or a hate of the Dark Lord.

Ianthe reveals Tom Marvolo Riddle for the half blood son of a muggle and a squib he is and the purebloods are furious. Information is power after all and she is the one who knows Lord Voldemort best.

The Defense Association successfully fights back against older, more experienced opponents, even as it grows in the shadows, hidden under the nose of  Umbridge herself.

No one has taken a life, but Ianthe expects that to change soon.

However, the war doesn’t truly start until the day she dreams of Sirius screaming as Voldemort laughs in delight in the echoes of the haze of her mind.

Chapter Text

Sirius dies, and Ianthe aches with it. She had not known him as well as she would have liked, but she had loved him. She had hoped to live with him when the war ended, or she got ahold of Wormtail to clear his name. She had looked forward to a better future.

He’s gone now, and her future with her by his side with him. Still, he had left her his titles and assets, and Ianthe has an army and war to think about passed the grief. It’s hard, but she is their General and they need her, so Ianthe rallys herself and pulls the cracked pieces of her soul together with sheer will.

Sirius had left her his ancestral home, and as the war begins to climb to higher heights around them Ianthe makes a choice. She’s been building a sort of Underground Railroad of her own across Britain with the help of house elves, sympathizers and the DA themselves. Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour had come to her aid, extending their hands across borders, bringing others along with them to smuggle the muggleborn and half-bloods who fled the war alongside their families.

We will not allow another Hitler, another Nazi Germany. Grindelwald will never rise again, down with the Greater Good , people whisper as grateful muggleborns ask,  why do you risk the Dark Lord’s wrath?

The DA grows beyond her wildest dreams, expanding almost faster than Ianthe can keep up with. She had not expected so many, from so many backgrounds, to flood to her when she called them. They’re young, most of them, teenagers and young adults, although there are older adults among them. Most of them are more concerned with getting their families out, away to safety and Ianthe does not begrudge them their decision.

( If a part of herself screams at the men and women who ignore the warnings, who proclaim their faith in the government they voted in and in the Daily Prophet they hold in high regard as they abandon children to fight the war they did nothing to avoid, well, she’s too busy to voice those thoughts.)

It is a boon, all those who stare at her with determined eyes and a firm grip on their wand and say, for freedom . Ianthe is thankful for all the support from her original students as they step into roles as commanders, as it allows her to keep up with the demands of her growing army and the refugees they are continuing to smuggle out of the country.

(The ones who join her, some aren’t Light. There are Grey and there are Dark, werewolves and Other and Ianthe welcomes them all.)


 

The Black ancestral home was not only a blessing because of the Fidelius Charm, or its placement along the Underground Railroad. No, Ianthe had chosen that home not only for that, but because of the dungeons it boasted. Dungeons with thousands of years of wards and safety features on them. Each and every one that were cast by Blacks in their home. It allowed her to hold Death Eaters that were caught and not worry so much about them.

They learned better than to try to escape the first times they tried, as the wards and protections around a Black’s dungeon did not take kindly to their attempts at all. She’d taken all their wands, snapping them in front of their horrified eyes, and bound them in magic draining cuffs.

They never really tried to escape after their first attempts, but Ianthe had a rotating guard on them at all times all the same.

Voldemort doesn’t really take the Defence Association seriously at first, even when he knows it exists. Ianthe takes ruthless advantage of it. She’s in his head as he tortures information out of his loyal followers. She’s lurking as he softly issues his orders and organizes his troops. He will not stop, he will not show mercy and neither will she. If he wants to underestimate them, Ianthe will let him . Especially not as it allows them to dig holes into his support base.

No, Voldemort doesn’t take them seriously until the little skirmishes against her soldiers and his troops ends with Tom’s loss . The DA begins to take out the legs to his plans, chipping away at supply lines and sowing discord in his allies’ camps..

The War begins to pick up in intensity and pace as Voldemort lashes out at the annoyances that threaten to undo his plans. He plans his response and the Ministry falls just as Bill Weasley is kissing Fleur Delacour and Ianthe Potter stands in front of them and declares, I pronounce you man and wife.


 

It’s summer break and Hogwarts is empty.

Or so those not in the know believe. Ianthe and the DA are living in the Room of Requirements, avoiding the few teachers who are still around.

Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Sprout, Dumbledore, Argus Filch and Trelawney.

Most of them are gone more often and not.

Dumbledore holds secret meetings in the Great Hall, which the Twins have graciously bugged for them to listen to. Thus, everything the Order of the Phoenix knows, so does the Defense Association.

There are days that Ianthe thinks it will never end.

This back and forth between not only Voldemort, but Dumbledore and the DA. Dumbledore didn’t take kindly to a third side in the war with unknown pieces, that refused to follow his ideals. Refused to offer second, third and eighth chances to child murderers, rapists, men and women who delight in the suffering of others. They have already had their second chance and she will give them nothing more.

Ianthe does not care . Death Eaters die and people are safer .

They were helping , making progress, and if Dumbledore had a problem with how they did things, he could take it up with all those they saved with their methods. Ianthe didn’t like that they had to kill to do it, loathed that her soldiers- just children really, most of them- had to kill. That if they didn’t, if they left a Death Eater alive, they would come back to finish the job.

Her students had to strategize battles, plot supply lines and paths out of the country for civilians, destroy Death Eater bases with little to no intel, wade into blood and endure pain given physical form.

Ianthe may not have been too happy about the effects their methods would eventually have on the DA, but she was thrilled with the lower number of Death Eaters left behind. That was one Death Eater more who could not harm civilians. When this ended, she would have to cleanse the Ministry with Fiendfyre. Regardless of whatever name the Daily Prophet proclaimed to be Minister of Magic, it was Tom who gave orders.

And Dumbledore who allows it.

Ianthe leans back against her chair at the head of the Round Table and sighs, allowing the reports of her soldiers to wash over her even as her mind formed all the information into plans. She needed a stronghold, a place of rest and fortitude, a place of hope to rally behind.

A thought crystallizes in her mind.

Hogwarts was built to withstand an invasion, right? The one who sat in the Headmaster’s office controlled all the wards? And it was certainly a beacon of hope, should she manage to get to it. A symbol if she planted a flag on the highest tower and declared Hogwarts and Hogsmeade its own separate and independent nation.

Ianthe surges to her feet and slams her hands on the table, rattling the pieces scattered on the maps spread across the wood.

“People! We take back our home!”


 

It doesn’t take much effort.

It’s terrifying how little effort it takes to completely usurp control over Hogwarts from Dumbledore. All she has to do is wait until he leaves, wait until virtually everyone is gone, save for Hagrid and McGonagall and Ianthe walks up to the gargoyle that guards the Headmaster’s office.  

She starts with lemon drops and is both relieved and utterly disgusted when the doorway is opened to her. She marches into the hall and emerges into the Headmaster’s Office. There are dozing portraits and a parchment covered desk, bookshelves lining the walls and all in all, it looks just as it did the last time she was here.

Ianthe hesitates for a moment because she has no idea what to do. How would one go about transferring control of Hogwarts to another? She takes a single step forward before a familiar voice breaks the silence.

“Well, well, now. I should have put your in Slytherin just for this, young lioness.”

She whirls around as the Sorting Hat laughs quietly and the portraits still sleep.

“I-”

“No need, no need,” the Hat exclaims, “I know why you’re here. But, tell me anyway so I can give you some advice.”

Ianthe inhales strongly and manages to smoothly sum up the entirety of her decisions in short concise sentences. She ruthlessly tears apart every choice Headmaster Dumbledore has made for Hogwarts and its student, all the things that slipped by and everything that she and everyone else in this school has been through. All the end of the year tests , all the abuse by teachers, by fellow students, the bias and outright ignoring of rules and guidelines. Ianthe has been in and out of the Infirmary for years and Madam Pomfrey has never once mentioned all the signs of abuse Ianthe knows are there.

All the scars from the Toad’s cursed quill and injuries from fighting in the hallways and everything their Heads of Houses forget.

The Sorting Hat calmly sits on his shelves and listens even as Ianthe wraps up her explanation with a firm,

“Which is why I will not be persuaded from my path.”

Silence falls once again before the brim of the Hat splits open in what could be called a smile.

Accepted, Ianthe Potter .”

There’s a hitch, a jerk and a sudden weight that presses down on her shoulders with enough force that she finds herself forced to her knees. Her breath leaves her body in a single painful gasp. Her hands hit the floor in front of her and there’s a sudden roar of noise as the portraits wake from their slumber.

She ignores them all because there’s a sudden knowing there are so many Dark objects in Hogwarts and dear Merlin , how could Dumbledore miss this?

“All official information has been updated. A notice has been sent to all employees of Hogwarts and to the Goblins. The letters that will be sent out this year will bear your name and titles in their entirety. Congratulations, Headmistress Potter.”

The Sorting Hat’s voice is smug and slightly sad, but he says nothing more as Ianthe pulls herself to her feet. She flicks her wrist to call her wand and quickly conjures her Patronus. Prongs materializes and stands before her, resplendent in starlight and radiating happiness.

“Bill,” says General Potter, says Headmistress Ianthe, “I need the best warding team that my money can buy, and I need it as soon as you can have it. I have Hogwarts.”  And oh, but that was staggering .

Her home , her first home, where she had felt safe for a time.

Beloved, even now, after everything. Alive in a way she had always suspected, but never had proof for until now. Now when Her wards- tattered and struggling, weaker than they have ever been before- rest on her shoulders and she can feel Hogwarts’ relief  as She provides what information She can. Ianthe exhales hard, and if it shakes a little, well no one in the room will call her on it.

She had wanted to take Hogwarts, yes, but not like this .

She was already a General , how was she supposed to balance war with the responsibilities this would pile on her shoulders?

Headmistress of Hogwarts .

How was she to be-

Where was she-

She took a breath, struggling to control her emotions. The same way she handled her army.

Delegation.

Delegation would be her saving grace. She had not planned this, but she had it now, and Ianthe would not falter. She could not. Dumbledore had allowed too much through the wards, had been too lax. Her lips firmed and she forced her spine straight.

She’d always worked best under pressure anyway.

She turned sharply on her heel and made for the Ward Stone, situated in a room just below this one, the knowledge of which was at the forefront of her mind. She was no Bill Weasley, but there was something she could do before he arrived.


 

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

HEADMISTRESS: IANTHE POTTER

(Order Of Merlin, First Class, Lady Potter, Marchioness of Montrose , Lady Black, Duchess of Ravensmoor)

Dear-,

 

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find a enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

 

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl no later than 31 July.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Headmistress


 

She had her rallying point. An entire castle to welcome first generation witches and wizards, a place to offer sanctuary and keep them safe. Some were furious about it, but Hogwarts had chosen. There were charters and treaties and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade were sovereign ground. The Ministry held no authority on Hogwarts land unless the Headmaster or Headmistress allowed it.  No one, not Dumbledore, not the Board of Governors (as Ianthe had dissolved them upon invoking the right section of the Hogwarts Charter), nor any Ministry Official, could do a single Merlin-blessed thing about it.

The school was hers .

Medical training, dueling, languages, war tactics and a class on Wizarding Culture (Merlin bless Andromeda Tonks, nee Black ). Ianthe was extremely limited on time so she mostly shoved the educational parts on Hermione. Last time she checked, the witch had completely overhauled the History of Magic class and send out an advert for a history teacher.

There was a war to prepare Hogwarts’ students for, no matter that the general public and their government wanted to bury their heads in the sand. She had not considered the benefits of being Headmistress before they were presented to her. She was the last and first voice of this school. The land around it was now hers, to do anything she pleased. Any laws she decreed were to be followed. Such as until you were tried by a court of your peers, you were innocent and couldn’t spend more than three days in jail. Well, it had come too late for Sirius, but not for others. Not on her land, and not when she had access to Veritaserum and could prove without a doubt the guilt or innocence of that person.

She welcomed all. Werewolves, Goblin, Centaurs, Veelas, any and all, so long as they followed the rules. Mostly, that translated into ‘ Do no harm, but take no shit’.

Lady Magic bless Bill and the Goblin warding team he had brought to the gates. The goblins had been trying for years to get at the wards for the school and been blocked at every turn. With Ianthe at the head, no one could do anything as she allowed them to fix the centuries of mistakes and failings they had uncovered. As she allowed them to expand the wards to where they should have been, where they had stood when the school first began. Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Forest, and a bit further still.

The current wards had been less than half powered. Had been shutting down in slow increments for longer than Ianthe wanted to contemplate as Hogwarts redirected what power She could to the more vital wards. There had been an epic screaming fit in the Great Hall from the goblins, and sparring match had broken out when the rage got to be too much for merely words. Axes and swords were drawn and all of them descended into Gobbledygook just to swear more effectively at the stupidity of wand wavers.

Ianthe had earned quite a bit of respect amongst the warding team when she not only didn’t stop them, but joined in and negotiated for more wards and upgrading everything else.

The entire school ward system had been revamped, conflicting wards dealt with, and war protocols put into effect by Ianthe as she strengthened what wards she could, and added a few more for extra security.

She also hired a full team of trained Goblin warriors to sweep the entire school from top to bottom for Dark Artifacts. She loaned them the Marauder's Map and showed them the Room of Hidden Things ( they still weren’t finished sorting through all the lost and found ) and left them to it. She also took pleasure in removing Tom Riddle’s Award for Services Done and melting it in Fiendfyre.

She pulled in proper teachers for subjects, ones for both the younger and older students, revitalized the available classes by updating them and/or adding more relevant material, and created several entirely new classes. Most of these classes she added focused on survival, unconventional uses of spells, muggle tools, and also how to apply what you’ve learned in real life.

Theory wouldn’t save them, but if she could teach the students as many skills as she could in practical ways, well that would be one more student who survived that otherwise may not have.

These children were hers now, to look after and prepare. These walls were hers to build up and strengthen. This land was hers and she would use it. She would use it all . Hogwarts would be a beacon of hope. It would be a fortress, a safe haven for those that needed it so long as Ianthe could make it so.

Her soldiers backed her on this, and taught many of the newer subjects where they could, sometimes rotating out where she needed to pull them from classes for odd jobs.

Hogwarts flourished under her hands, and even those who were furious about her taking over the school could not say she was doing a bad job of it. This was the first time in nearly a century that Hogwarts was offering a class in Wizarding Culture.

That said, the first meeting she held as Headmistress with the other teachers...was definitely one to remember.

There was a conference room with an oblong table and a schedule on one wall. One that listed all the classes, teachers, classrooms and times with each House. It had been almost three weeks since her takeover. She had scarcely slept and had taken more Pepper-Up potions than was probably healthy, but she was mostly finished with all the reorganization and timetables for all the classes. All she had to do was inform her Professors of the changes.

She sent out a date and a time for a meeting and quite frankly she was dreading who would be the first one to walk through that door. Parchment, quills and a muggle notebook was spread out in front of her along with a tall glass of butterbeer. It was thirty minutes til the meeting started.

The door swung open.

The sound of disturbed air and fabric, accompanied by footsteps broke the silence.

Ianthe kept her gaze down and continued writing down all the things that still needed to be done.

Scritch, scritch .

A soft exhale before the person spoke.

“Headmistress, then, Ms. Potter?”

Merlin damn it.

“Professor Snape,” Ianthe acknowledged, lifting her head to stare into the dark eyes of the potions master who was currently gazing at her in a surprisingly neutral manner. Save for the curl of his lips that hinted towards displeasure and disdain.

A moment of silence fell before she motioned at the table she sat at.

“Sit, if you want, I have some things I wish to discuss.”

Snape paused a moment, taking a single, deliberate step forward. Ianthe forced her breaths to remind even and calm despite her increase heartbeat.

“Say what you will, Ms. Potter-”

Headmistress, Professor Snape,” Ianthe interrupted sharply, raising her head once again, this time with an edge of warning. “I am the Headmistress of this school and as such I have the authority and power to do as I please, within the guidelines set by the Hogwarts Charter and may I remind you, that includes the hiring and firing of staff.”

Snape’s mouth clicked shut and his face settled into deliberate lines, but he bared his teeth and his magic swirled agitatedly about his form. There is something like resigned but furious acceptance in his expression.

Potter-

He says her name in that way very rarely. Like she is confirming some thought of his, one that hurts and he hates with every fiber of his being. If it weren’t for the moments he has, the ones where he looks at her and his eyes go soft and he willingly offers advice and help, if it weren’t for the very simple fact that she knows he cared about her in some way...she cannot say she wouldn’t be doing this. But she would say it would be much worse than it’s going to be.

“And with such power that I now possess,” Ianthe interrupts once again, “I will be hiring two new teachers to teach potions to first years to the thirds years. They will be taught ingredients preparations, the reactions of ingredients with another another and why that matters. They will be taught the entirety of the basics, including safety procedures along with easy and simple ways to make potions. In fourth year, I will have another teacher start preparing them to move to a higher level of potion making and then , Professor Snape, then and only then , will you be required to teach students.”

The look on his face is priceless . It’s not much compared to others, but his mouth is gaping a bit, his eyes are wide and Ianthe thinks he’s stopped breathing for a moment. She pauses to give him a second to recover before she continues.

“Fifth years and up will be the only students you will be teaching. By then, they will have learned enough to understand exactly how dangerous making potions are and why they are vital to the Wizarding World.”

Ianthe picks up a bundle of parchment with Severus Snape written across the top and waves her hand to send it sailing towards the stunned potions’ master.

“As I am sure you are aware, you will now have quite a bit of free time. I respect your genius and thus I will not waste your talents by forcing you to teach beginners. The free time you now have may be devoted to Potions Research as I know you wish to do. Perhaps, if you find some skilled enough, you may even have your more advanced students help or explore under your supervision.”

Snape is holding the new schedule for the classes he is required to teach, all the restrictions, which are not many and he does not speak. Dark eyes gaze at her and there is an emotion she cannot name that brightens them, but she does not linger to find out. There is hesitation in the line of his shoulders and for all his faults, Ianthe takes a moment to envy his control.

There is but one more thing.

“I expect fair treatment to every student that you teach, Professor Snape, ” Ianthe says to him as she’s said no to Tom in that graveyard. Her magic rises and swirls and blankets the room and she straightens from her slouch and she’s sure her eyes are glowing green. Still, this is to make a point. It must be done.

“I have granted you time to do as you please. This is a privilege, it can be revoked. So, Professor Snape, if I ever see a thirteen year old child who bore witness to his parents’ torture at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange and yet when he stands in front of a boggart and it’s you …”

Ianthe allows her voice to trail off. In this moment she is both Headmistress and General . She allows Snape to see this, to see the threat in her eyes. She is a forgiving soul, but the harming of children is not an offense she forgets nor one she forgives. She will not allow this man to destroy the self confidence of small children, to bring them to tears, will not allow him to make them fear him more than anything else that has happened in their life.

“As Head of Slytherin House, you have a duty to protect your students, but not at the pain and humiliation of another student. I will enforce your punishments, so long as they fit the crime. I will see to it that the other professors realize that I will not tolerate their treatment of your Snakes as well.”

She smirks a little, a flash of mischievous satisfaction in her eyes. “It would not be fair to allow the House I was to be originally sorted into be discriminated against after all.”   

In the wake of that particular bombshell, Ianthe pushes her chair back and stands to her feet. She fearlessly meets Snape’s eyes with her own. Her shields, poor as they may be, are lowered enough that the truthfulness of her words is at the forefront of her mind.

“I am no Dumbledore,” she declares firmly, “nor am I Professor McGonagall. I will favor no one House above the other and I will not turn a blind eye in the name of ignorance or some nonsense such as boys will be boys or they didn’t mean to . Bullying will not be tolerated by anyone, for any reason.”

There's a shine in Snape’s eyes. Something that is soft and yet sharp. Happy, saddened, shocked...she had surprised him greatly, but…

In this moment Ianthe feels as though she has lived up to something that Snape had not expected from her. As if she had passed a hidden test, and done so impressively and very unexpectedly.

When he speaks, black eyes considering, it is with much more respect than the conversation had started with “As you say, Headmistress.”

She can see that he doubts her words. She can see the ‘ We’ll see, Potter” in the way he looks at her, but he has no reason to believe in her words. Not yet. She takes no offense to it, even if there is likewise no reason he shouldn’t believe her. He’s the one who started this thing between them. She will prove herself trustworthy in time to whatever satisfaction he needs. And if he looks into her eyes, and sees a challenge of her own, an almost taunting ‘can you do that, professor?’ in the arch of her brow and the frown on her lips, well…

They would see, wouldn’t they?

There’s no time left because the door opens again and Minerva McGonagall steps through, looking older and almost wary, even if there is fond exasperation buried somewhere in the lines of her face. Still, for all the older woman tries, for all Ianthe, Hermione and most of the Gryffindors look up to her, it’s common knowledge that McGonagall tries so hard to be fair to everyone that she ends up being harder towards her own house.

The first year, when Ianthe listened to Hermione and trusted an adult, when she went to her Head of House and asked for help, told her about the problem that was Voldemort and Dumbledore’s stupid test, she was dismissed. Even though Professor McGonagall is firmly on her side, set against Umbridge the year before, she did nothing when Ianthe came to her once again for help because Umbridge was torturing the children.

Ianthe knows, they’re old. They’re tired and they’ve already lost so much. Yet Dumbledore, instead of fixing the issues, instead of doing something to help with the problems that created Tom Riddle, he’s done nothing but wait for her, wait for the Chosen One of Prophecy to miraculously make everything better. He’s justified all his decisions by saying, it’s for the Greater Good, it’s necessary .

He left her on Petunia’s doorstep. He abandoned her there and left her to their mercy. Not once did he check on her. She was never taken to St. Mungos, to Madam Pomfrey for vaccinations, for treatment, nothing. No accidental magic she did changed anything, other than how long she went without food, trapped in her cupboard.

She will never forgive him for that.

She won’t forgive him for Sirius either.

Quite honestly, she doesn’t want to know if it was deliberate. She doesn’t want to know if it was planned if her entire life has been carefully guided to the moment when she kills Voldemort. She wants to think Dumbledore cares for her, that he had no choice, that there is a Greater Good and it’s all going to be worth it . She wants to believe that.

She can’t quite bring herself to though.

An honest mistake, a miscalculation, an error in judgement, I didn’t know-

Ianthe forcibly turns her mind back to the present. The door is opening once again and this time, the rest of the teachers file in. Flitwick, Hagrid, Sprout, Treweleny, Sinistra, Hooch, Grubbly-Plank, Vector, and Babbling, they’re all here, looking at her with mixed expressions. Some are neutral, others vaguely hopeful but there is an edge of disapproval that is visible no matter who looks at her.

“Come and sit down,” Headmistress Potter says, more of a command than a suggestion. “We have a great deal to discuss.”


 

Voldemort attacks the school. Of course he does, it is the rallying point of his enemies. A symbol of hope in the dark, light in the darkest of shadows. If he can bring the school down, if he can attack her base and win , Tom knows he will have dealt a major blow.

It is gratifying beyond words, that in doing so he confirms everything she has been saying to public, that he gives her the justification he had been trying to deny her. She knows he attacks Hogwarts, because he believes without Dumbledore, the castle will be weakened. Because he remembers what the wards had been like under Dumbledore and is of the opinion he can shatter them. She almost wants to laugh at him.

She’s furious he would dare to attack Hogwarts while the children that are now her responsibility are inside. She’s infuriated that he believes she will not fight him on this, but...

But, she wants to laugh, because the school has never been stronger . She was not one to idle over her fortress, not one that would allow segments to be weak. He comes to the castle expecting weakness and easy targets, but Ianthe will not give that to him. She had prepared for this with goblin enforced wards, with soldiers, and plans.

So when the wards go off in her head,  telling her Voldemort has arrived outside Hogsmeade which is now covered in her expanded ward scheme, she presses her wand to a rune on her desk. It acts as a PA system of her own, and she is directing the students to the safe rooms, and the older years to battle stations. The students are ready long before Voldemort truly manages to even touch the wards.

He rages when he crashes against them, and finds that he cannot pass through. That the wards are in much better shape than they had been in centuries . When Ianthe leads a force out to meet him, it is not flesh and blood bodies that she sends out to them. No, she grins sharp and dangerous from her place on the shoulder of the great stone statues that had lined the halls. She had summoned the guardians of Hogwarts from the walls and balconies, from their places sleeping and into battle.

She had the utter pleasure of watching Voldemort and his army blanch in horror as the statues and suits of armor march out to meet them. They feel no pain, they do not bleed, they do not sleep, and do not die. They are protected against easy destruction, and in order to stop them the Death Eaters must turn them into dust. Not even the Killing Curse will work, after all what does not have a soul cannot die. The self-repairing charm-work she had Professor Flitwick add to them was one of her better ideas.

It is a great blow to Voldemort and his forces, she knows, when Ianthe forces them away from the school and the town in retreat. When she deals out losses to him, and yet not one student perishes under her watch. She had suffered no loss of life this day, and Voldemort had revealed his hand in front of witnesses.

Ianthe sits at her war table, a crimson cloak draped about her shoulders and her hand wrapped around the hilt of a sword and laughs .


 

It is not the end of Tom’s attacks. She is unable to stop them all, despite barring him from Hogsmeade and Hogwarts alike. She cannot send the stone defenders out too far from the school wards that powered them, and she cannot use that power too often lest she drain the wards too much.

Tom is not stupid, for all that he is an overconfident fool. He figures this fact out rather quickly, and takes advantage of it where he can. He forces her to pull the students she had made soldiers out of necessity forward, forces battles and bloodshed in places she cannot summon aide.

It aches every time she finds one of her soldiers dead, or dying and she cannot help them. It is agony to watch their deaths, and know another fight will soon come. Fights that not everyone will come home from. The only bright spot in this blood that she can find is that for every one of her soldiers killed, they have taken at least four of Tom’s with them.

Leaning over a fifth year student who looked up to her, a student who had asked for help with her Defense work only the week before, who had laughed as Ianthe corrected her footwork with a smile…

Ianthe knows she would sacrifice herself for these children, if only she could guarantee it would end Tom and his ilk. He won’t though. He will never stop. Hogwarts is the goal, Hogwarts is the end game. It is Tom’s first home, just as it is hers.

Her hands are clenched as she watches the student-soldiers’ bodies lowered into graves. The Professors stand behind her, and Ianthe’s rage knows no bounds. She keeps her eyes forward, focused on this child as her grave is covered in dirt by hand.

“We cannot let this stand,” she whispers into the silence of the clearing that would hold another grave, “I will not let this stand. I refuse.”

Her eyes lift to the rest of the clearing. It is a mass graveyard, holding each of those Ianthe had seen fall. They cannot send the bodies home without fear of Voldemort’s supporters attacking them. Ianthe cannot allow their bodies to be attacked, and so she honors them where she can on her grounds. She digs their graves without magic, joined by the what friends and family of the deceased that can be found, and carves their coffins with runes for protection and safe passage. She is the one standing by each and every grave, filling the holes she dug up with dirt. She who gives speeches at every death, who must offer comfort to those left behind.

“We have lost too many. I have buried too many. Today, I would see it all end .” Her magic rises, blanketing the clearing, and her soldiers’, her friends’ magic rises beside her own in agreement.

Her army strikes first that night, vicious and deliberate in a way they had never been before. When they leave, there are dead and dying left behind them and Ianthe knows that Dumbledore will try to contact her once again. Apparently, killing your enemies was unnecessary, as they could all be reformed.

Murderers, rapists, sadists every single one of them participated in these crimes repeatedly . If one took the Dark Mark willingly and in full knowledge and pleasure of what they would be doing, they deserved to suffer the consequences. Especially all the adults who could be heard laughing in the battles they participated in.

This marks a turning point in the war, for Ianthe and her army. This deliberate killing of their own rouses the fighting spirit of the school. Even if there are repercussions from the killing and the tactics and spells that are now released to use as the students will, they are still winning.

Voldemort had prodded at a sleeping dragon, and they would see him burn .


 

The ‘final battle’ as history would come to call it, did not take place at Hogwarts, or even around it. No, the final battle takes place in the place the war truly began .

Ianthe finds herself standing in the middle of the Department of Mysteries. Voldemort laughs across from her, and Ianthe’s face is smeared with blood and soot as she stares at him. She had seen the Twins fall, and oh, she doesn’t remember making her way to their side, but she was there, and they were sto still. Snape had died after delivering the knowledge that saw herself and her army safely in the Department with a plan and contingencies firmly in place.

Dumbledore had died earlier in the battle, near the start of it as he stood between Voldemort and his goal. Remus was gone, dead after killing Greyback, and Ianthe had screamed when she saw the man fall. The last link to her parents, followed behind Sirius to a place she could not follow. Not before Tom had breathed his last.

Tonks had followed behind her fiance shortly afterward, carving her way through any Death Eater that stood in her way of his body. She had been hit from behind by a Killing Curse after reaching Remus. Ianthe could see her collapsed over Remus’ body, her hands still framing the werewolf’s face where Tonks’ had reached for him.

It aches in her to see. They had been talking of children, after the war had ended. They had asked Ianthe to be godmother.

She had said yes, but would never get to hold her godchild now.

Ianthe doesn’t know how many more have died. She doesn’t want to count the dead fallen around her. She wants Voldemort dead. She wants to cut off his laughter, to stop this war. She wants everything to end . She wants the deaths she had seen to mean something. She refuses to let the deaths have been in vain.

Voldemort laughs down at her, but Ianthe refuses to let it continue. She had lost too much to let him walk from this place alive. Not again. No matter what .

Her magic rises, and swells. A riptide, pulling in everything around it, becoming a tsunami as it crests over their heads. Her soldiers reach for her, providing their magic for her will, and Ianthe takes . She pulls everything together, cresting higher and higher, and she can hear the screams.

Tom stops laughing.

Ianthe turns to him, eyes glowing like miniature suns, and thunders, “No More, Tom Riddle. You will not take another life.”

She would never be able to explain what happened next. Not in this life, or in her next. It was not from lack of trying.

Voldemort had lashed out at her in fear, an attempt to stop her, she knew. He believed in the prophecy after all. His magic had rebounded off the wave of her own, and when he realized he could not touch her with his magic alone, he turned to her surroundings. If he could not touch her with magic, bringing the building down on her head would kill her just as well in the end.

Only, they stood in the Department of Mysteries, at the foot of the Veil of Death. And though she did not know it, Ianthe Potter was the Mistress of Death, her magic blanketing the entire room, and focused only on ending Tom Riddle in his entirety. When Tom panicked at lashed out at her, at everything around him, he lashed into the Veil itself.

Perhaps this would have done nothing, had Ianthe’s magic not been saturating the air when she was the Mistress of Death. Perhaps if Tom Riddle had not torn his soul into pieces, and left a part of himself in Ianthe. Perhaps...but it was not to be so.

When Tom lashed out, and struck the Veil bending under the weight of its infuriated Mistress’ magic it buckled . The stones that formed the arch cracked, and the winds that tugged and pushed at the tattered curtains between the pillars changed. They went from subtle beckoning things to great heaving gales.

People screamed as the Veil came alive with its Mistress’ will, a black hole in miniature focused on ending Tom Marvolo Riddle. The winds did not pull at any other but Tom himself, as the archway obeyed the will of Ianthe. The strength of the wind increased, yanking on the wizard until his feet were pulled from under him. She watched in silence as one by one, each of the soul containers Voldemort had formed were pulled into the veil in his wake. For an instant all is still, the winds falling silent, the unearthly screams ceasing their noise. And then the gales pick back up, this time turned on her. She, who unknowing as she was, carried the last soul piece of the man who, as Mistress of Death, she had commanded the Veil to destroy.

People were screaming, hands were reaching for her, and Ianthe scrambled for a hold to something at the archway yanked her up the stairs and toward her death, she was sure. Lavender reached her side through the winds and latched hard to her wrists, digging her heels into the stone around them and leaning back against the wind. Her accent up the stairs slowed, but did not stop. In fact the winds that seemed to be only focused on pulling her inside the arch got stronger and more insistent.

There’s a ragged chorus of shouts, Hermione’s voice wails as Ron roars profanity and struggles from his position on the ground, his arm wrapped firmly around Hermione’s waist. There is fear, a desperate pleading and devastation on their faces and her closest friends realize what’s about to happen.

Ianthe knew then that no one would be able to stop this.

“Let go ! Merlin damn it, Lavender, let go or it’ll pull us both inside!”

“No!” Lavender’s voice was strong and determined as she staggered back another step, her hold on Ianthe tightening. “You’ve been good to us!” her voice hardened, “I won’t let this Veil take you! Not after Voldemort finally bit it!”

Others would have helped her, Ianthe knew, if they had been able to approach through the winds. It may not have been pulling anyone else inside, but the otherworldly winds were still blowing the crowd away , were getting worse the longer Ianthe was prevented from falling through.

Lavender’s eyes widened in shock, and Ianthe knew even before her feet slipped that Lavender would not be able to prevent them from falling. She slid a few inches forward, and Ianthe could not fight the wind’s pull well enough to get her feet under her to help.

“Lavender!” her voice cracks over the roar of magical winds, and still the girl snarled and tightened her hold.

“I will not let go, Ianthe!”

And it is with her name on her spymaster’s lips rather then the title of ‘General’ that Lavender Brown’s feet are swept out from underneath her and they both tumble through the archway and into the veil.


 

Ianthe floats.

It is decidedly odd, she decides, as there is nothing around her. Only an endless view of white with no horizon to orient herself with. She settled for staring upward instead of around herself, as it made her feel better. Like she could pretend there was something around her if only she wasn’t looking at its absence.

“Ianthe Dorea Potter.”

Ianthe’s eyes jerked down towards the voice without thought. She immediately had to look away, as the inner light of the being in front of her seemed to wash out even the bright white of her surroundings to a pale imitation of the color.

“What-” her voice was strong even as she blocked her eyes with an arm, “are you? How do you know me?”

“You are well known to the Gods, little flower, for we have watched you. You passed from the world sooner than you should have done.”

“Gods?” her voice was disbelieving, “Gods watched me? And-” she paused, her eyes widening “ And what about Lavender?! Where is she?!

“Easy, little flower. Lavender Brown had passed from this world and into the next as all who pass through the veil must. She is safe. You, however, are a special case. In life you gathered the Three Hallows, and this made you Mistress of Death.”

“What.”

Ianthe’s voice is blank, and dark at the edges. She had been through too much , every time- how could she have been-

“That’s a children’s tale.” her voice is hard, daring the voice to argue with her.

“All tales have grains of truth in them, Little Mistress.”

Ianthe opens her eyes under her arm, staring down at her feet with wide unseeing eyes. That is not a human voice. It is every voice she had ever heard, and thousands more she never has. Female, male, soft and thundering, comfort and rage. The screams of those who pass in blood and agony, and the soft exhale of those who pass in sleep.

It is a deep seeded instinct that keeps her from looking up to view the two standing in front of her again.

“But I…” her voice breaks in grief and exhaustion, “I’m just Ianthe. I don’t want it . Take your title back! I don’t want it!”

“And that, Little Mistress, is why I will not. You are the first amongst your kind who succeeded in gathering the Hallows. You are the first to do so accidently, and even as you discover you hold the title others have waged war for, you ask me to take it back. Your soul is a special one, and I treasure it.”

Ianthe is going to hyperventilate.

She is no fool, she knows who this voice must be, and she cannot fathom how she is viewed as They proclaim her to be to Them.

Treasured? Special?

She has never been a child- a soldier, a general, a symbol the Chosen One , but not like this . She is tired and has a temper. She is not-

How could They -

She’s just Ianthe!

“This comes with privileges and burdens both, Little Mistress. Ones that you will discover in time. I cannot keep your soul here in the In-Between too much longer, so you must listen .”

Ianthe jerks at the command, her eyes closing instinctively even as she jerks her head up towards the voice. Her mouth closes from where she had opened it to argue. She is hopeless in the face of Death’s command, for she knows this voice as well as her own, deep in her soul.

“You are my Mistress and so you will never truly die. You will be born into life after life. Young and beloved, but with suffering in one shape or another. I will not sentence you to endless life- you will rest in my halls between lives in most cases, but always you will walk the Earth again.”

Horror twists Ianthe’s face as she pales in the face of Death’s words. She had never wanted to live forever! Even with the promise of resting with her beloved family in between, she had never wanted this!

“They will not always be the same Earth that you know, but you will walk them all the same. As my Mistress, you will have a boon. Some may be able to follow you into your lives as you are born again. They will not remember as you do, but they will know you all the same. A deep instinctive memory, for you have left marks on their souls.”

It would not always be her world she walked as well, if Death was to be believed. She would be displaced entirely and she would drag others with her. Ianthe sways where she stands. As if he can sense her wavering spirit- and he probably could- Death speaks again:

“Do not fear, Little Mistress. Those that follow you choose to do so. In this life, your parents will not be able to follow you, as they have moved into the cycle of rebirth. You were meant to have a longer life than this and your arrival was unexpected. This world I send you to is full of suffering, but if you preserve you will find a deep love and true family. Do not despair.”

Ianthe jerks as she feels the kiss pressed to her brow.

“Come Little Mistress. I would introduce you to the Gods of your newest world.”

And what choice did she have but to follow where she was lead?