On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
XIV: Great Vengeance and Furious Anger
"I've heard of many demons," said Diana, "but Eclipso is new to me. It seems an odd name for such a creature."
"What about you?" asked Constantine, "Any of you read about him in magic school?"
Ron and Harry shook their heads. Hermione thought for a moment. "Some sort of god of tides and natural disasters?"
"Well done. Someone actually opened a text book or two. Okay, that's about it. He started out as another archangel, but nobody is sure which one. Scholars gave him that name a few hundred years ago because for some reason he doesn't usually manifest unless there's an eclipse. Theory is that he's a bit like Etrigan, bound to some poor bastard and only able to break loose if there's an eclipse and the conditions are exactly right, but nobody's ever proved it. The tidal thing is mostly a coincidence, there are a lot more lunar eclipses than solar and they're always at the full moon. Last longer too. He was mostly in the same business as Akrasiel, instrument of the divine will, striking down with great vengeance and furious anger."
Diana smiled. "You stole that from Pulp Fiction."
"It's a great line. They got the quote a little wrong, but that's the general idea. Find people who give God problems and smite them. Eclipso's gig was natural disasters, really wholesale mass destruction. Probably not Sodom and Gomorrah, pretty sure that was Akrasiel, but Pompeii was definitely one of his, and there's a theory he took out Atlantis. He's supposedly Fallen, but he never joined Lucifer's crowd or took his orders so God only knows. And I mean that literally."
"Could you ask?"
"You know that angels won't talk to me, love. Too much blood on my hands. They're all arseholes anyway, wouldn't give a human the time of day unless God gave them orders to do it. And since nobody's heard from the bugger in a couple of centuries I wouldn't hold my breath waiting."
Hermione looked upset. "Seriously?"
"What do you care?" asked Constantine, "According to the god-botherers you lot are all damned anyway. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live and all that."
"Actually the original word was 'poisoner,' and if you must know I still go to church. Not when I'm at school, they don't have a chapel, but when I'm at home."
"And that ought to tell you something. Your mob don't like religion, and with good bloody reason. Witch-hunters and all that."
"Getting back to Eclipso..." said Harry. "What are his powers?"
"Elemental. Earth, air, fire and water. Volcanoes and earthquakes, storms, tidal waves, that sort of thing. He'd probably use those before anything man-made; say he wanted to destroy one of the nuclear power stations on the coast, he'd use a tidal wave or an earthquake rather than making it melt down on its own like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. Like I said, wholesale. That doesn't mean he can't smite things directly, it just isn't usually his first choice."
"So if he's summoned in Wiltshire?"
"Let's see... assuming he actually takes the call, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell he'll actually want to play ball with the Death Eaters, they'll be making demands and treating him like a servant, so he's probably going to want to punish them, which means he'll probably level the place. That's a good way in from the coast so tidal waves are probably out. If he uses an earthquake to flatten it it'd probably take out most of Salisbury too, maybe Southampton if the fault lines ran that way. Of course if he gets really narked and raises a volcano that's probably most of south-west England buggered, but it's probably not his first choice, too slow. Trouble is, he's not going to stop there. Once he's let loose he stays around, the only thing that can stop him is full daylight."
"The next morning?"
"'Fraid so. I got a friend to check the details, the moon's going to rise about seven-ten, five minutes before sunset, and with the eclipse already well under way. It'll be a total eclipse by the time it's visible from the manor a few minutes later, and stay that way for an hour or so. If they try to raise anything in that hour there's a good chance we're stuffed, he'll be free at least until the following morning. If he has the sense to stay on the night side of the Earth he could probably keep going forever."
"He can move that fast?" asked Ron.
"Easy. Fallen archangel, remember. Now leave it for a minute, food's coming."
The next few minutes passed in the usual ritual of passing bowls around and explaining the different dishes to Ron.
"What I don't get," said Constantine, "is why he chose this moonrise for his bloody ritual."
"Easy," said Harry. "He got rid of Dumbledore at the end of June, and got hold of Dumbledore's wand a few days later. Say he spent a month or so getting used to it, that means he's ready to trust it by the start of August. By then he's going mad... more mad, so..."
"Oh, right. Brief version, he's got the Elder Wand; it's super-powerful but we're pretty sure it's cursed, makes people go mad. It explains a lot of the shit I've been put through in my life, Dumbledore had insanely complicated plans for me to finish off Vol... sorry, you know who... but never explained them to me properly. We eventually found out that it all hinged on me dying and coming back to life again, but that wouldn't work now anyway."
"Nice bloke. Why did he want you dead?"
Harry thought and decided that it really didn't matter if anyone knew now. "There was a bit of.. Tom's soul stuck in my scar."
"You know who. The one who's been causing all the trouble."
"You know his real name? His true name?"
"Yes, it's Tom Ma.."
Constantine held up a hand in warning. "Don't say it out loud, he might have it cursed like his fake name. Write it down, make sure you spell it right, including any middle names." He handed Harry a felt-tip pen and a paper napkin.
"If I know his true name I may be able to use it. Probably can't get a curse to stick, but there are other ways to skin a cat." Harry began to write, and Constantine added "Okay, so you were saying about the scar."
"Dumbledore thought that the only way to get rid of it was to have the bastard use the killing curse on me, but Death took it away without hurting me at all."
"She's been around a lot lately. Turned up at my gaff a few days ago, gave me a hell of a start. Any idea what's got her knickers in a twist?"
Harry gave Constantine the napkin and shrugged. "Must be the demon thing."
"Not likely. People summon demons all the time, this one's more powerful than usual but she sees that sort of thing happening all the time. She was there when the dinosaurs were wiped out, and she'll be there when the sun goes out or some idiot does some damn fool thing to wipe out the human race. She's on every world with life in the universe, in billions of sodding universes, she must see catastrophes thousands of times a day. If she let it bother her she'd be as crazy as her little sister and she really isn't. So whatever's got her taking an interest isn't something as everyday as a lot of people dying."
"I don't think my mind works that way."
"Of course not, you're more or less sane apart from the hero thing and you're human, so you give a shit for the human race. Any road, we're wandering off topic. You were saying why he wants a demon."
"Immortality," said Hermione. "He's stored bits of his soul in several receptacles, he thinks he can't die until they're all destroyed. The thing in Harry's head was more or less accidental. We think he wants to attach one to a demon."
"Bloody hell, he really is a loony. I didn't think anyone had gone that route since Rasputin. You'd think by now people would know it never works for long, synchronicity pretty much guarantees that the soul pieces will turn up sooner or later. And giving part of your soul to a demon would be giving it a nice little snack."
"He and his followers killed Harry's parent's, two of Ron's uncles, and another few hundred on top of that, and tortured a lot of them. He's not exactly mister stability."
"Well then," said Constantine, cracking his knuckles. "We'd better bloody stop him before he ups his body count."
After the meal Constantine and a driver he introduced as Chas headed off in the taxi Harry had noticed outside, destination unknown. "We'll meet up in Salisbury Tuesday morning. I've got a few things to do first. Update me will, get rat-arsed, summon spirits from the vasty deep."
Hermione grinned. "Why, so can I, or so can any man, but will they come when you do summon them?"
"They'd bloody better, the amount I'm paying them. Might have known someone called Hermione would know that one. Your parents Shakespeare fans?"
"With a name like Hermione, would you expect anything else?"
"Point. Well safe trip, see you Tuesday."
"We'd better get moving," said Diana, "we've a two or three hour drive ahead of us, and I'd like to get as much as possible done before it gets dark."
They were soon on the move, with Harry in the front passenger seat trying to navigate with the aid of an AA road map, and Ron and Hermione in the back. About fifteen minutes later Diana turned down the radio (and the third repetition of Candle in The Wind they'd heard that afternoon) and said "Do any of you mind me giving you a little unsolicited personal advice?"
"Personal?" Hermione asked nervously.
"Yes. Nothing to do with our plans, just a little advice."
"This sounds ominous," said Harry, "but go for it."
"Might as well," said Ron, "you've got us all curious now."
"Okay. Don't get involved with John Constantine. He's charismatic, he's a powerful wizard, he's reasonably handsome, he used to be a minor rock star, and he's bisexual, so any of you might be tempted. Don't give in to it. We can work with him, but keep it at that."
"He's really a bit old for any of us," said Hermione, "and neither of these two are gay." Harry and Ron nodded agreement.
Diana overtook a lorry and moved back to the middle lane. "It doesn't matter. In case you didn't notice, Hermione, he was flirting with you for a moment before we left. I don't think he meant anything by it, but Constantine has an uncanny knack for forming relationships that end really badly. I'm not your mother, I can't tell any of you what to do, but I can give you advice. And my advice is simple; don't sleep with him, don't go on a pub crawl with him, don't let him get seriously entangled with your life. One of his lovers cursed him, many years ago, and every relationship the man has ever had ended badly. Often with someone's death. Make sure it isn't yours."
"Okay," said Harry. "Wasn't really planning anything like that, but I'll bear it in mind."
"Me too," said Ron.
"I'm pleased to hear it," said Diana, changing lanes again, "apart from anything else, he's probably had every sexually transmitted disease known to man, and a few that are usually only seen in demons."
Ron spluttered slightly, and Hermione looked a little disgusted.
"Good to know," said Harry, "consider us duly warned."
"You're welcome." Diana raised the volume of the radio, and the next few miles passed without conversation.
"Salisbury has a small wizarding community," said Diana, "mostly to the north for access to Stonehenge, so I've booked us rooms in a motel on the south side of the town, it's about as muggle as you can get. Even so, you might want to be careful not to attract attention. Let me do the talking at reception."
"Where's Malfoy Manor?" asked Harry.
"About fifteen miles south-East," said Diana. "Near a village called Malfoy Intrinsica. There's an Ordnance Survey map of the area in the glove compartment."
Harry studied the map until he found it. "Right. Hey, it's actually on the map, I would have thought it'd be unplottable or something."
Hermione looked over his shoulder. "It's too big and too close to heavily populated areas. People must drive past it dozens of times a day, and the walls are visible from the road. They've probably got some muggle-repelling charms to make it look like there's nothing interesting there, but anything more would be impractical."
"Hogwarts is bigger," said Ron, "and they keep that hidden. Why can't they use the same spells on the manor? Or a Fidelius spell like Grimmauld Place?"
"Honestly, Ron, you really ought to pay attention to History of Magic occasionally. Hogwarts has been unplottable for more than a thousand years, long before there were maps of that part of Scotland, and it gets harder every year to keep it from being mapped properly, even with the cooperation of the Muggle government. Malfoy Manor is much more of a problem; the Malfoys were given the land that includes the village during the Norman Conquest, a reward from William the Conqueror, but for a lot of the time since then they were absentee landlords living in France. Any protections they had on the original manor must have been lost, spells like that need to be renewed every decade or so. They moved back here during the French Revolution. The current Malfoy Manor is Georgian, built on the remnants of the older building, but by then there were detailed maps of the whole country, accurate to a few yards, it would have been impossible to remove it from all records and keep it that way."
"What about a Fidelius?"
"It only works for a smallish building, like Grimmauld Place or Harry's parents' cottage, with a tiny number of people in the know. The complexity of the spell rises with the area covered and with every person allowed to enter. A mansion is way too big. No, the best you can do is keep people from noticing the weird stuff, like your parents do with the Burrow."
There wasn't really room to set up the tent in any of the motel rooms, so they used a few spells to make Harry's room look like part of a ruined house, with Ron and Diana listening in from the bathroom.
"I have news," said the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black. "The Dark Lord has lost some of his followers and dementors."
"How did that happen?" asked Harry.
"They were tasked with guarding some undesirables, to use the current cant; on Saturday night someone killed all of the guards and apparently destroyed the dementors, or at least drove them off."
"What happened to the prisoners?"
"They were still captive when more guards arrived. Some were questioned vigorously, but none of them knew what happened. The lights went out, then they heard screams."
"How were the guards killed?" asked Hermione.
"Most appear to have been burned alive."
"Does Professor Snape have any theories?"
There was the usual interminable pause. "No."
"Okay," said Harry. "I have no idea. Is there anything else I should know about?"
"Miss Luna Lovegood is a prisoner of the Dark Lord."
"Miss Lovegood is a prisoner of the Dark Lord."
"How do you know?"
"She hasn't attended classes for several days. The Headmaster's suspicions were aroused and he used legilimency to check the prefects and some of the staff. Miss Carrow caught the girl trying to leave the school grounds and gave her to supporters of the Dark Lord, she is being held prisoner with other hostages at Malfoy Manor."
"She's a pureblood, why would they want her?"
Another pause, then "A hostage, a means of keeping her father under control."
"Merlin, we've got to help her."
"The Headmaster advises against that, Mister Potter. While the Dark Lord is not usually there, any rescue attempt would undoubtedly lead to his being summoned, and the Headmaster doubts that you are ready to fight him."
"If he isn't at Malfoy Manor, where is he?"
"His residence is concealed by the Fidelius spell, the Headmaster cannot tell you."
"Damn. Okay, thanks. We're probably going to have to leave here in the next day or two, it looks like this place is scheduled for demolition, but I'll try to contact you again tomorrow night."
"Very well... one moment, Professor Dumbledore says he has a message for you."
"Okay, I'm waiting."
"He believes that your love, your concern for others, will carry you through this ordeal. Try to remember that."
"Riiiight. Okay, thanks, we'll talk again tomorrow if we can."
Hermione carefully put the painting back into her back and checked that the silencing charms were still in place.
Harry reversed the spells on the room, obviously fuming. "My love will carry me through this ordeal? What the hell was Dumbledore smoking when his portrait was painted?"
Ron and Diana came in from the bathroom. "Love is always good," said Diana, "but in this case it's probably wishful thinking."
"What in Merlin's name happened to the dementors?" asked Ron. "Why kill the guards and get rid of the dementors but leave the prisoners behind, it doesn't make any sense."
"Yes it does," said Diana. "John said Lucifer intended to do something about the dementors. Now some dementors are missing. I really doubt that whatever he sent would be concerned about the fate of prisoners, if anything we should probably be thankful that they're still alive."
"He's moved fast," said Harry. "Constantine talked to him on Saturday afternoon, that's only a few hours before they were killed."
"Lucifer no longer reigns in Hell, but he undoubtedly has resources on Earth. Let's hope that nothing worse happens."
"Okay. What about Luna and the other hostages the portrait mentioned?"
Diana shrugged. "We'll have to rescue them."
"While fighting off all the Death Eaters, the Dark Lord, and a bloody demon."
Hermione gave him a look that told him he was being an idiot. "Nobody ever said that it would be easy, Harry."
Notes: Complete details of the September 1997 lunar eclipse can be found here:
"Great vengeance and furious anger" is a quote from Pulp Fiction (1994), allegedly from Ezekiel 25:17 although the wording differs to some extent from all common Bible texts:
And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
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