Warning: This Story contains SLASH, LV/HP if this offends please do not read.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JK Rowling
Author's note. This was to be a dark/fluffy short story for Christmas. I got ill half way through. So here it is a month late. Hope you all had a good Christmas!
An Unwise Murder
"Potter remains absent. According to Dumbledore he is being 'rehabilitated to get him back on track.' He will not tell me where he is. He is within the castle walls, but a 'Point Me' spell does not work."
The Dark Lord narrowed his eyes. "His rehabilitation involves a great deal of pain."
"How is Narcissa."
Voldemort rose swiftly from his seat to pace before the fireplace. The opulent room was a hair's-breadth from being ostentatious. As it was, Malfoy Manor was a grand masterpiece to the impeccable taste of the Witch who had been inconsolable with grief for the past ten days.
"Lucius worries me more," Voldemort said. "I fear that he will do something unwise soon and get himself killed. He blames me for not acting. ALL MY PLANS ARE DISRUPTED!" He suddenly shouted. "The attack on Hogwarts scheduled a week before the Yule holiday will have to be postponed until Potter has resurfaced! There is no point to it if the Brat is not there for all to witness his death at the hands of Lord Voldemort! That is why I have called a meeting."
Severus Snape hid his surprise, his head bowed and his shoulders hunched. Even so, the Crucio, he'd been expecting for ten days, hit him with a force that knocked him onto his back, his limbs snapping and muscles freezing as the pain roared through him. He bit deeply into his tongue in an effort not to scream. As painful as this was, he knew it was only a fraction of the agony that Voldemort was capable of instilling into a Cruciatus.
"Do not think, Severus, that I have been unaware of your duplicity." An icy voice hissed through the fog of pain. "I read your surprise at the date of the attack! As if I would have told you! I am known as the greatest Legilimens in the magical world! What made you think that you could best me in the art! That you now fully commit to your Lord purely because of your Godson's death at the hands Dumbledore is an insult to my intelligence! If you were not still of use to me I would end you now!"
He lifted the curse and sat back down stroking his wand. "To turn your back on all that you truly are, the values you once held dear! And For What! The love of a mudblood who treated you like dirt beneath her feet for a minor mistake you made in anger and humiliation, after years of devotion to her! IT IS INCONCEIVABLE!" He roared.
"I bitterly regret it, My Lord." Severus said fervently. He struggled back onto his knees and leaning forward kissed the rim of Voldemort's robe.
"Yes, I can see that, Severus! But it is nearly eighteen years too late don't you think!"
"Yes. I have been unforgivably blind. I can only humbly apologise and swear on my magic that I will follow you and serve you for the rest of my life."
Voldemort kicked him away with his foot. "Get up! I do not want you grovelling around my feet, Severus! I am in ill temper! My sleep is plagued by the Brat's agony. I can feel him attempt to shield it from me but it breaks through constantly! Last night was particularly bad."
Severus stood, wincing slightly. "I have potions that could help."
"No. I will not have my mental faculties inhibited. Dumbledore is attempting to break him, I want to know when he succeeds."
Snape shook his head. "The boy I last saw was a maddened animal." Severus shivered, remembering Potter's face as Mad-Eye and various members of the Order had dragged him out of Dumbledore's office. "I do not think he will succeed, My Lord."
Voldemort hummed narrowing his eyes at Snape. "The mudblood and blood traitor exposed the affair, and Dumbledore cast the curse that finally killed Draco. The Brat's three most trusted allies and his lover. Everything he holds dear is now gone." Voldemort sneered at Snape. "You broke for the loss of one mudblood! He has lost everything!"
"Potter protected Draco to the end." Snape's voice cracked and he stopped speaking for a moment. "I legilimised Weasley, and saw what happened. They were caught leaving the room of requirement. Draco stunned Granger as the Order and Dumbledore opened fire. Potter fought in front of Draco. He was crazed, and... My lord, he is... forgive me, My Lord, but he is not to be underestimated in battle. He is better than I have ever seen apart from yourself. He took the worst curses aimed at Draco using his own body as a shield. I believe that even as greatly outnumbered as they were, they would have prevailed if Dumbledore had not cast the killing curse. Potter threw himself in front of Draco to intercept it, but Draco pushed him to the side and..."
"That is good to hear." Narcissa Malfoy, led by Lucius, came into the room. She looked as if a mere breeze would break her. She bowed slightly to Voldemort and swayed. "My Lord. Severus." She said giving him a slight nod. "They protected each other in equal measure."
"Sit, Narcissa, before you fall." Voldemort said irritably. "Are you well enough to attend this meeting?"
Narcissa settled into a seat and lifted cold eyes to her Master. "I am. My Son is dead and buried. Outside of war! Nothing will change that. I will be a part of whatever it takes to destroy Dumbledore. Is there any news of Harry, Severus?" She asked the man sharply.
Lucius looked at his Lord seeing his eyes flash furiously. Since the news of his Son and Heir's death he had withdrawn completely and surrounded himself in a iron clad exterior that softened only for his wife. Surreptitiously he unsheathed his wand from its cane. His Lord had done nothing since Draco's death! If he thought he could now punish his wife he would learn that a Malfoy protected their own!
"You sound concerned for the Brat, Narcissa." Voldemort drawled dangerously, his red eyes staring at her piercingly.
Narcissa lifted her chin. "I am. I had never seen Draco happier this past eighteen months. I knew there was someone he loved dearly as he wrote to me often about his feelings. I didn't know it was Harry."
"He is my enemy, Narcissa, or had you forgotten?" Voldemort hissed.
"My Lord!" Bella said rushing into the room with two cloaked figures hovering behind her. "Potter and the Mudblood have disappeared! Dumbledore is enraged and has the entire castle searching for them!"
Voldemort sprang to his feet. "Explain!"
The two cloaked figures fell to their knees and pushed their hoods back. Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zambini looked at their Lord in terror. His deep red eyes were stark against his almost opaque skin. His thin lips were set in a snarl showing white teeth. They lowered their eyes unable to look at him.
"Dumbledore stormed Slytherin common room an hour before breakfast, he was like a maniac! He said we were hiding Potter and that Granger has been taken! When the Order had searched the dormitories he started to legilimens us! He is looking for you Sir!" Pansy turned to Snape. "He was calling you a traitor! He thinks you released Potter!"
"He Crucioed Crabbe and Goyle!" Blaise said as if he still couldn't believe it. "But they didn't know anything, none of us did! In the chaos we managed to escape, but the others are all under house arrest!"
"I must go to my Snakes!" Severus turned and strode to the door.
"Stay where you are, Severus!" Voldemort hissed. "Dumbledore will kill you if you return now." He pursed his lips. "The Brat must have taken the mudblood to exact his revenge. But why has he not taken the blood-traitor also?"
"Weasley was with the Order and Dumbledore!" Pansy spat. "He was screaming that we were all filthy scum and would die like vermin, as Draco had, if we didn't tell him where Granger was!" Her breath hitched. "But Draco was killed in a flying accident wasn't he? That's what we were told! I don't understand what's happening! I don't Understand... We were told Draco was killed in a flying accident!"
She started to cry and Bella silenced her. "Control yourself child!" She hissed. "You are before your Lord!"
In the following silence a resounding 'snap' had all eyes turning to Lucius. His wand, that he had been fingering angrily, was broken in two. He looked at it for a moment, then slung it across the room.
"Draco was murdered by Dumbledore!" He bit out, "It was no accident! My son was in love with Harry Potter! Dumbledore was told of the affair and Draco was killed because of it!"
Blaise frowned. "I knew Draco had been seeing someone since sixth year, and this year he has disappeared every night and refused to tell us anything about it. It was Harry Potter?!"
"Yes. And the Brat has been tortured by Dumbledore and the Order every night since the discovery to break him back into the fold!" Voldemort snapped irritably then sighed rubbing forehead. He lifted the silencing spell on Pansy. "Bella, see to it that they get home safely. They will not be returning to Hogwarts. Explain the situation to their parents and all others within my command whose offspring are in Slytherin."
Bella bowed to Voldemort and ushered the students over to fireplace. In a flash of green flame they were gone.
"We must..." Voldemort began. A resounding crack silenced him and for a moment complete astonishment froze him to the very spot before his wand was in his hand and several things happened at once...
Three Hours Previously
Hermione sat on the floor in the room of requirement ignoring the pain in her side and sobbing uncontrollably. The cauldron in front of her bubbled, purple smoke snaking from its centre. She peered into the liquid that had taken ten days to prepare and watched through her tears as it cleared. She dropped Harry Potter's glasses, that he hadn't worn since fifth year, into the mirror like substance. For a moment nothing happened, then a picture began to emerge. Twisting stone walls that moved slowly until a wooden door came into view. She waved her wand and the map on the surface of the dense liquid became solid.
She picked it up and vanished the cauldron. Grabbing her bag resting beside her she heaved herself to her feet and covered herself in Harry's invisibility cloak.
The journey to her destination was long and painful. By the time she reached the door in the bowels of Hogwarts Dungeons she was panting, her brow covered in sweat. The door swung open with a simple 'Alohomora' and she stepped inside.
"Hermione!" A cold voice hissed.
Hermione cut the chains that shackled him to the stone wall. Then she was holding him in her arms, crying afresh for the wounds that littered his half naked body. "I couldn't find you, the Marauders Map was useless. I had to do a complicated version of a scribing spell."
Harry stared down at her. His eyes had changed she thought. They were darkest moss green now, almost black, showing nothing of his feelings in their dark shadowy depths. His face was pinched with pain and stark white, his sharp bone structure seeming to stretch the skin covering it to its very limits. On its left side there was a long livid blood encrusted welt running diagonally from his temple to the base of his chin. It stood out against his skin grotesquely.
He had been taller than her since the sixth year and his body still had the awful underfed look that gave him a misleading air of vulnerability. But now he looked emaciated. If one were to look closer though they would see the lean tight muscles of his upper arms and thighs, the perfectly flat stomach that was corded steel.
The way he looked now, she thought, if she didn't know him to his very heart, he would simply terrify her. She pulled his head down and gave him a hard kiss on his mouth. "It's time, Harry." She said tightly as a wave of pain ripped through her.
She kissed him again as she saw terror flit across his eyes and when she pulled back it had vanished to be replaced by frozen dark orbs reflecting nothing but her face. As weak as he should have been by his ordeal he suddenly swung her up into his arms as if she weighed nothing at all. He buried his face in her neck for a long moment.
"We'll go to the Chamber of Secrets." He rasped, his voice rusty from screaming.
Hermione threw the invisibility cloak over them.
Harry sat rocking back and forth on the floor in the Chamber of Secrets, a piece of parchment gripped tightly in one hand; A cold dead hand in the other. He stared at the bloodied body of Hermione and her lifeless eyes. He looked at the parchment. Then back at the body. He stood up taking her wand and gathered everything he needed. Further into the chamber there was one of many stone columns decorated by snakes. Using her wand he hissed at it and a large stone slid out of the structure. On returning to Hermione he cast a cleansing charm on her body removing all traces of blood and then a feather light charm. He scooped her up. Once the invisibility cloak had settled over them he made his way out of chamber.
He walked passed the chaos of senior 'trusted' students running around searching for 'The Boy Who Lived' and Granger. He passed Professors snapping out orders and Dumbledore, whose face was enraged. He walked passed Ronald Weasley and certain members of the Order of the Phoenix who were burned indelibly into his brain.
He walked to the entrance of Dumbledore's quarters, whispered a password that Hermione had given him and rode the stairs up to the empty office. Fawkes remained sleeping as he stood still, looking around and wondering where to start. Until he was suddenly drawn by an irresistible frisson of dark power. In a large solid Onyx box, hidden in the bottom of a locked floor to ceiling glass cabinet, they sang to him. The locks gave easily under his spell. His hand shook as he opened the smooth black box, his skin tingling and body tightening as he transferred its contents into Hermione's bottomless bag. He put the onyx box back just as it was and relocked the cabinet. As he turned and stood he noticed a glint. He took the Sword of Griffindor from its resting place next to the Sorting Hat on a cluttered shelf, and dropped it into the bag. He spread the books and scrolls about to fill in the space it left. He was about to search for his wand when Fawkes rustled his feathers. Harry paused under his cloak. He wouldn't be needing it anymore anyway.
He made his way out of Hogwarts and walked through the icy crispy snow, ignoring the sting to his feet, to the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, once there he pulled off the invisibility cloak, dropped it into Hermione's bottomless bag, and held up her wand.
Bella bowed to Voldemort and ushered the students over to fireplace. In a flash of green flame they were gone.
"We must..." Voldemort began. A resounding crack silenced him and for a moment complete astonishment froze him to the very spot before his wand was in his hand and several things happened at once.
Snape shouted, Potter! In disbelief. Narcissa screamed shrilly and Lucius dove in front of Harry, taking the Crucio that blasted from the end of Voldemort's wand. He screamed as the strength of it tore through him, catapulting him several feet away.
Voldemort immediately ended the curse and threw another powerful Crucio at the Brat that hit a barrier momentarily turning the invisible shield pale blue before it bounced harmlessly away. He narrowed his eyes studying the picture before him. A bloodied, bare footed, Harry Potter, wearing only a pair of black trousers. His gaunt features were white and his moss coloured eyes reflected a hint of frozen shock. He was holding the body of the mudblood in his arms. Voldemort took a step closer to him and frowned as he felt a heavy disturbance in the air. A... recognition of power and...
"Harry?" Narcissa whispered into the deafening silence. "How..."
Harry stared at Voldemort, looking at him curiously. "May I speak." He asked calmly.
Voldemort nodded abruptly. "It will not save you, Brat." He hissed, his wand pointing straight at him.
Harry smiled and the welt across his face cracked, blood oozing from its edges. "I'm counting on it." He said in a raspy voice. "I have a letter for Lord and Lady Malfoy from Draco, in the event of anything... happening to him. It is in the bag on my arm. Lady Malfoy, reach in and think of it and it will be there." As Lucius came to stand by her side, Harry raised a brow. "Thank you, for 'protecting' me. I cannot imagine why you did it... but... thank you."
"You attempted to protect my son with your life." Lucius said stiffly. "That is enough to warrant my protection."
Harry frowned slightly and resumed looking at Voldemort, staring into the blood red eyes that studied him. His nemesis was taller than him. And much broader. His eyes boldly skimmed the slim figure outlined by the soft folds of material from his black winged sleeve robe. The cut of its low wide neck exposed the snowy skin of his throat and collarbones, an expanse of shoulder. In the light of the room he seemed to... glow. It was... fascinating. Harry's eyes fixated on the sheen of the pearly smooth skin.
Narcissa's sharp indrawn breath made him blink slowly and alerted him to the fact that she and Lucius had finished reading the letter.
"I'm going to drop the shield." He said to Voldemort, wondering at his shocked expression. He placed Hermione gently on the ground and slowly pulled her wand from his sleeve. "Draco keyed Hermione's wand into the Malfoy wards and to the magical signature of Lady Malfoy. It was a fail safe for her if she ever needed it. It's how I come to be in this room. I'm using her wand. They took mine from me." He waved it and his shield dropped along with a disillusionment charm. A small bunched bundle of soft blankets appeared laying across Hermione's chest.
Harry levitated it into Narcissa's waiting arms still looking at Voldemort. "I delivered him not an hour ago. He is early, by three weeks. I have checked him. He is healthy. I put him into a light sleep that will last until he is fed."
Harry walked slowly towards the Dark Lord until he was a mere foot away from the man who had wanted to kill him for a very long time. He held out the wand to him and Voldemort took it in one slim pale hand, the long fingers curling around the wood.
"Explain." Voldemort said showing no reaction to the events whatsoever.
From the periphery of his vision he could see Snape running his wand over the bundle in Narcissa's arms and Lucius staring down at it with reverent look on his face. Harry turned slightly so they were no longer in his sights. Instead
he stared intently at Voldemort, feeling the same frisson of dark power that he had in Dumbledore's office. He looked deep into red eyes, so close, he could see that the colour was solid, blood red solid, and they were promising him everything that he wanted...
"Draco was soul bonded to Hermione last year. I was their witness. The only person who knew." He said to Voldemort.
"But..." Snape began, looking up from the missive he was now reading. "Dumbledore, everyone, thinks it was you having an affair with Draco."
Harry narrowed his eyes for a moment, not taking them from the solid red wells of promise in front of him. 'Sssnape isss yoursss now?' He hissed. 'It isss imperative that nothing getsss back to Dumbledore.'
Voldemort nodded shortly, refusing to show any shock at the Brat's use of Parselmouth. He glared at Snape who was not showing any surprise at hearing it, just a mild disgust. Something else he had obviously neglected to tell his Lord!
'Sssince the murder of his Godssson, yesss. You can ssspeak freely. He will not be returning to Hogwartsss jussst yet. He may not sssurvive to return at all!'
Harry stayed focused on Voldemort as he answered Snape. "Their misapprehension suited my purpose which was to keep Hermione safe until the birth of Draco's child. In soul bonding each knew it meant their own death if the other were to die. Knowing it could end badly for either of them once the Light, or the Dark, became aware of their relationship... they decided that to live without the other was impossible for them. Hermione falling pregnant was a shock. We kept her condition secret with a charm. When Draco... fell, I knew that the only thing keeping Hermione alive was the baby and that once it was born she too would slip away..." He stopped and his lips tightened slightly.
"You could have been killed trying to save Draco's life." Lucius said as if he didn't understand. "You took curses meant for him, you tried to take the final killing curse."
"He was attacked because of his association with me." Harry sneered. "If the Order were in danger of killing their Saviour, I figured they would stop. I was wrong. Dumbledore murdered Draco when he saw that I was prepared to die for him. The look of complete horror on his face when I stepped in front of the curse would have been worth losing my life for. Draco should not have pushed me back.
"Every night I would meet Hermione from the room of requirement. That's where she and Draco spent time together. She would leave under my invisibility cloak. I would spend an hour or two with Draco and we would leave together. That night she left as usual. She must have come across Wesley, Dumbledore and the others and followed them back. As we came out of the room the Order started firing, she pulled her wand. Draco stunned her to keep her safely out of the battle. They were none the wiser, they thought she was with them.
"Weasley had told Dumbledore I was having an affair with Draco. He had followed me for several nights to see me enter the room, and then later leave it with Draco. What he didn't see was that as I entered, Hermione left under the cloak. Draco and I were very friendly. Had been for over two years. We considered ourselves brothers. But to the whole school we still presented ourselves as enemies knowing that neither side would find it acceptable. Ron put two and two together and came up with the theory that we were lovers. They all assumed I had been... turned... to the dark." Harry smiled.
Voldemort felt a delicious shiver run down his spine at the sight of that smile. It promised so many things, and none of them good. He curbed his sudden gleeful excitement. He ran his eyes over the Brat's chest noting the bruises, the wounds, the cuts... the long welts. They were on his arms as well and he had no doubt that if he turned, they would be all over his back. And his face... the lash of a whip. His eyes slid back to the chest and stomach. Suddenly the Brat turned a slow full circle. His back was covered in whiplash wounds.
"Harry, he's perfect." Narcissa breathed. "Just perfect! He is the image of Draco when he was born."
"Is he." Harry said in a cold voice, still staring at Voldemort. He suddenly thrust his face forward, his expression intent. "I have the means to give you everything that you ever wanted in life by the end of this day. Including Hogwarts, Dumbledore, and myself. I solemnly swear on my magic that I will not fight you in any way and you can kill me on the spot when you have in your hands all that I can to give you. I ask one favour from you in return."
"Continue." Voldemort said, returning the steady stare, again hiding his growing excitement.
"I want to bury Hermione, who was a sister to me, with Draco. It was her last wish. Will you allow me to?"
Without waiting for his Lord to answer, Lucius walked over and swept Hermione's body up in his arms. "Come with me, Harry, Draco is buried down by the lake." He strode from the room ignoring Voldemort, but Harry waited until, with narrowed calculating eyes, Voldemort gave him a slight nod. He then followed Lucius, his step slightly forced his frame rigid.
"Severus please take my Grandson." Narcissa handed the sleeping baby over. "I will go with Lucius and Harry. Mudblood or no, My son's wife who has borne my grandson and freely given her life to be with Draco in death deserves my last respects. Call the house elves if you need anything or wish for some Lunch. My Lord." She bowed her head and left the room, her whole demeanour much stronger than when she had entered it.
"The boy is strong." Voldemort said thoughtfully. Walking to the corner of the room and picking up Lucius' broken wand. He studied it and put it in his pocket.
"Yes, he is fine." Severus smiled down at his charge. "His name is to be Abraxas, Lucius, Draconus, Malfoy, as stated in Draco's missive."
"I was not speaking of the babe, Severus!" Voldemort snapped irritably. "The Brat! Potter! He is strong."
"He is skin and bone." Severus dismissed.
"Is he." Voldemort tapped his wand to his teeth in displeasure. "Look closer when he returns. And you may have forgotten that he has just undergone ten days of torture, sleep deprivation and little food and water. He is here, walking, talking, and thinking. And his hate..." Voldemort's tongue whipped out of his mouth and swiped through the air before disappearing. "I can still taste it."
Severus shivered and lowered his eyes at the sight. "I thought he was in shock. He is acting strangely considering his... losses." He shivered again as an image of the last time he had seen Potter swept across his mind. "He should at least be showing some adverse effects of his treatment under Dumbledore's hands."
Unable to contain himself any longer, Voldemort suddenly gave a high gleeful laugh. "Dumbledore has done it again! He has made a second mistake! I being his first, and now his Boy-who-Lived! Oh what a fool. What a blind, stupid, fool! And Potter has delivered himself into my hands. Sworn on his magic no less to allow me to kill him! Is giving me everything I ever wanted!" Voldemort turned on his heel and stalked to the door. "I will postpone the meeting until tonight. I want to hear what the Brat is offering me without interruption! Get him cleaned up and dressed!"
When Harry returned to the room, Voldemort was sitting fastidiously sipping tea from a delicate china cup and nibbling a biscuit. Harry smiled at the strange picture it made. His manners were impeccable, his whole demeanour one of lazy elegance as he put his cup down and wiped his lips with a napkin.
Harry had showered carefully, hissing as the gentle sprays of hot water had felt like a power hose and perfumed soap had stung his wounds and skin as if he were scouring it. As he had no wand there was nothing he could do to ease his discomfort, and when he'd had Hermione's, he was too...shocked to think about it. When he had finished, a pile of clothes had been waiting for him. He was dressed in boots belonging to Draco, a silver and green shirt belonging to Draco and black trousers belonging to Draco. His hair was sleek and tied back in a short pony tail and he smelt of a tangy citrus aftershave belonging to Draco. It all felt... comforting.
He walked over to Hermione's bag and lifted it before, at the Dark Lord's gesture, he sat down in the comfortable armchair opposite him.
Narcissa, Lucius, and Severus were settling Abraxas into Draco's old nursery. Narcissa had asked him to join them, but he had declined, saying he didn't want to keep the Dark Lord waiting. As the silence stretched between them a hiss drew Harry's attention to the windowsill where a large snake was curled. Nagini. Harry pulled the Sword of Griffindor from Hermione's bag.
"Tea, Brat?" Voldemort drawled.
Harry looked up and saw the tip of a wand pointed between his eyes. He smiled. "Gods, Please." He nodded to the Sword. "This is a gift for... Nagini." He laid it carefully down on the large coffee table that stood off to the side of them.
Voldemort stared at the sword. Once he had coveted it. "I am sure Nagini will treasure it." He said sarcastically.
"She should." Harry said easily. "It is imbued with Basilisk Poison. I'm certain you realise what that means. It is probably the only weapon that can kill her."
Voldemort sat down, keeping his wand trained on him. He narrowed his eyes on the Brat. He was finding him... interesting. He was nothing like the simpering idiot he had possessed years ago. And, as he stared into deceptively blank eyes, he had a feeling that Severus had been right to fear him.
"You know of the Horcruxes." He said evenly. He obviously knew Nagini was one anyway. He kept his sudden anxiety firmly hidden.
"Yes, fascinating concept. Dumbledore believes it diminishes the soul, and that it has made you insane and incapable of feeling. But as Aristotle said; 'No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness'. And I believe you feel everything just as you did before you split your soul. Only now it's far more intensified. Anger, fury, pain, hurt, fear. Even Love, whether it be for your snake, or magic, or power. However, only you really know so it's a mute point isn't it."
The red eyes just stared him, solid blocks of colour in a pearly face. Such a stark contrast, Harry thought, caught up in the look of skin and features. Well shaped thin lips, a flattened nose and smooth brow. His enemy, face to face, not frightening, not making him want to reach for the nearest weapon. Just peaceful really. It was over, everything was over and finally he had a choice... Harry shook himself and swayed slightly.
"These are for you." He went back into the bag and pulled out a Ring, a Diadem, a Locket, and a Cup. The dark power emanating from them again affected Harry, making his body tighten and his skin sing.
"Dumbledore was going to destroy them all as you finally attacked Hogwarts. He thinks it will weaken you as well as making you 'mortal'." Harry explained softly, stroking the locket lovingly. He suddenly snatched his hand away, looking up into a completely empty face and solid red eyes reflecting nothing. He frowned, not sure why he felt... inexpressively sad about it. "I-I'm sorry." He cleared his throat. "Griffindor's Sword was going to be used to kill Nagini."
Voldemort suddenly sheathed his wand and snapped his fingers. A cup of tea appeared. Harry picked it up, closed his eyes and gulped until the cup was empty. Then he coloured as he remembered the refined manners of Voldemort. "Sorry," he said again, putting the cup down. "Have you read this book?" He pulled 'Tales of Beadle the Bard' from Hermione's bag. "You probably have. Specifically 'The Tale of The Three Brothers'." He handed the book over to Voldemort.
A pot of tea appeared on the table. Harry stared at it for a moment then looked at Voldemort. Then back at the pot. "Is that for me?" He asked, astonished.
"I see no other Brat dying of thirst in this room." Voldemort said his eyes fixed on him. He watched as he drank cup after cup of the stuff until the pot was empty. He noticed that the welt was slightly less livid... but his face was still white and pinched. "Your wounds have not been tended to?" He asked suddenly.
Harry shook his head. "No, but it doesn't matter..."
"SEVERUS!" Voldemort roared.
Within a minute Snape appeared, slightly out of breath.
"Why have you not tended the Brat's wounds!" Voldemort snapped. "He is covered in them or were you so enamoured with the babe that you did not see them!"
For a moment Snape looked dumbfounded. "I was not aware that I was to tend to them, My Lord. You gave no order..."
Snape dropped to his knees. "The Brat is starved, dehydrated and in pain." He hissed. "I told you to get him cleaned up! Tend to him now. And tell our hosts that if he is not properly fed and watered within the hour their joy at the arrival of their grandson, that the Brat delivered by himself while his sister was dying, will be extremely short lived!"
"Yes, My Lord. Potter, come with me." Snape said, staggering to his feet.
Harry rose and looked at Voldemort questioningly. For a long moment they locked eyes then Harry gave the slightest nod of his head and followed Snape to the door.
"I want him back here in an hour, Severus!" The Dark Lord spat. "You will all be sorry if he is not."
As soon as he was alone he reached for his Horcruxes, his hands shaking uncontrollably. He put the ring on his finger, he put the locket around his neck and he shrank the Cup and Diadem, sealing them into an inside pocket of his robe. He hissed for Nagini. 'Come here my pet.'
The snake slid off its resting place and slithered over to her master. She curled herself around his body, her head resting on his chest as he stroked her. Slowly his fear began to lessen and his shaking stopped. It explained the strange disturbance in the air he had felt when the Brat had first arrived. It had been his Horcruxes. He gave a short bitter laugh.
'The sssword on the table isss a presssent for you from the Brat, Nagini. It is the Sssword of Griffindor.'
'I would have preferred a fat rat.' She flicked her tongue out. 'What isss it Massster. You are upssset.'
'Dumbledore has been busssy, my Pet. If not for the Brat we could have d... if not for the Brat we...' But he couldn't finish the sentence. 'He hasss given usss the inssstrumentsss that Dumbledore meant to harm usss with when we took Hogwarts.'
Nagini spat. Her head bobbing up and down in anger. 'He wasss going to kill me with that sssword!'
'He wasss going to try. I would not let any harm come to you pet. And now he no longer hasss the meansss to hurt usss.'
'Becaussse of thisss Brat you ssspeak of.'
'Yesss, becaussse of the Brat.'
Voldemort shivered involuntarily at what might have been and took comfort in the weight pressing against him as he stroked Nagini. The Brat. He was unafraid and openly curious... Voldemort hadn't legilimised him... yet, he didn't need to. The Brat's thoughts reached him as if whispered in his ear. His fascination with his... skin, and the way his eyes had ran over his body earlier had... shocked him. If anyone else had dared to look at him in that manner... But no one ever would have dared. That was the point. No one would want to. Unless it was with fascinated horror and eventual terror as he ripped their eyes out.
And the Brat's regret at the thought of his Horcruxes being destroyed... that was odd. He was odd. And he was different. He was quite right about the soul, but he would not confirm. However, for him to have come up with theory of it... Voldemort picked up the book the Brat had given him and wondered why he wanted him to read about the Deathly Hallows. For there could be no other reason he wanted him to read the tale of the three brothers. No one really believed in the legendary items, except him. And now obviously the Brat.
Exactly an hour later Harry entered the room again and retook his seat.
'Thisss isss the Brat?' Nagini hissed, her head bobbing in Harry's direction and her tongue tasting the air.
"Hey!" Harry said indignantly, greatly admiring the picture the two made; the terrifying wizard with his terrifying snake curled around him. It was dark and Gothic and... captivating.
"You have eaten." Voldemort queried throwing the book on the table. He studied the nodding boy. His face wasn't pinched with pain and he had a slightly better colour in his cheeks. The slight look of numb shock remained, but considering he had only escaped his torturers mere hours ago and had lost his mudblood it was hardly surprising. Strong indeed. Satisfied he resumed his petting of Nagini. "I have reacquainted myself with the tale."
"I am related to Ignotus Peverell." Harry said getting straight to the point as he pulled the invisibility cloak from Hermione's bag and passed it Voldemort. "This is for you. It has been handed down for generations. My father left it in Dumbledore's keeping, though how, I don't know. I think Dumbledore must have just taken it after you had killed him. I can assure you that it is the Invisibility Cloak. You are related to Cadmus Peverell." Harry looked at the ring, that was now on Voldemort's finger, meaningfully. "The Deathly Hallows was Hermione's pet project. She says... said, your ring holds the Resurrection Stone. And if she says it does, you can trust that she is... was right."
Voldemort said nothing as he fingered the Invisibility Cloak. He looked at the stone in his ring, ran a slim white finger over it. Nagini slid off his lap unnoticed. "Tell me, did the fool touch any of my Horcruxes."
"No, he said they were cursed and couldn't be touched until he destroyed them. He levitated them when he found them. When I stole them from his office, that didn't cross my mind. Harry frowned. "So I guess he was wrong about that."
"Indeed." Voldemort said staring at Harry. "As you touch them with ease." He steepled his fingers deep in thought. "And the Elder Wand?" He asked eventually, his voice giving none of his feelings away.
"That is the one thing I don't have but will make sure you get." Harry said. "Dumbledore has it. All you have to do is disarm him and the wand will recognise you as its new master. It will not work for you if it is taken by any other. You have to beat Dumbledore to own it."
"You are certain it is the Elder Wand, Brat." Voldemort ignored the heavy thumping of his heart as it sped up.
"Oh yes." Harry said, his eyes darkening. "He told me your ring had an interesting setting. I'm wondering now if he knew what it was."
Voldemort hummed fingering his ring again. "So, I must ensure when we take Hogwarts, that during the battle none other accidentally disarms Dumbledore."
"That won't happen. I can get you into Hogwarts and into his office, face to face. Tonight. With forty odd Death Eaters you can take Hogwarts without an army, or a full scale battle, or involving the students. Most of The Order of the Phoenix are there patrolling because they believe I took Hermione. They also believe I'm still in the Castle somewhere and will be after Ron next. You won't be on their radar. You will have the element of surprise. They will be totally blind-sided. You already own the Ministry, so you can make sure that any 'distress calls' they may get, are ignored."
"And why, Harry Potter, are you doing this. Giving me the Deathly Hallows, handing me Dumbledore and the Order on a plate. This morning, apart from Dumbledore, you were my greatest enemy. Yet now... you are giving me everything. Even yourself."
Voldemort watched the steady mossy green eyes, that were staring into his, darken until they were nearly black, making them stark in the pale stretched skin of his face. He realised that, apart from himself, everyone should fear this boy... this man. His taste was... so dark and again... interesting. He watched a pink tongue dart out and moisten pale lips as they parted. The Brat leaned towards him straining his neck forward as if he wanted to be closer...
"Because I want to him lose everything, everything." He breathed. "And I want him to know that it was me who made it happen." Their eyes locked and promises were made and sealed. It was a hypnotic moment. Suddenly Nagini's head shot up between the Brat's legs and smacked him under the chin. Voldemort smiled as the 'moment' was well and truly broken.
"Ouch!" Harry looked down as Nagini's body began to wind around his waist. "Is she going to kill me?"
"You do not seem too concerned by the prospect." Voldemort said putting the cloak on the table.
"I'm not. Hey! Stop that!" Nagini's tongue was flicking all over his face. Harry could again feel the dark power singing to him. The frisson that tightened his skin and body. He stroked a hand along the snake's scales wondering idly why he was so drawn to the Horcruxes. "You are a real beauty." He said mesmerised.
'The strange Brat has no fear, Master.' Nagini hissed. 'And no meat on its bones. I could crush it by merely sneezing.'
"Thanks." Harry said drily. He stroked the part of her body that was wound around his chest admiring her markings and the green sheen of her skin. She seemed to hum against him. He got more comfortable and closed his eyes his head resting on her coils. She made him feel safe and secure and if that wasn't the weirdest thing... He was starting to get tired as the adrenaline that had kept him going since Draco's death seemed to be draining out of him fast.
"Brat, why did you not take the Hallow's for yourself and simply kill Dumbledore. Even possibly win this war for the Light." Voldemort asked staring at the hard tired face, the dark rings becoming visible under his eyes.
Harry laughed but didn't bother opening his eyes. "No thanks. It's your war. Yours and Dumbledore's. I want him to know I gave you the tools to win it. That will hurt him far more than me killing him would. He's just spent ten days torturing me because he was so afraid I was going to join you. And frankly, I don't give a fuck about the war. Never did really. You two dragged me in and gave me no choice. Everyone should have a choice. My choice would have been to be neutral. I don't like weak. You are both ruled by prejudice and 'prejudice is the child of ignorance'. His is you and the Dark. Yours is his treatment of you at Hogwarts and the way you were treated by your family and the orphanage in the muggle world. And you were treated like dirt, so was I.
"You burned your childhood down. You 'removed' the muggles responsible. You should have let it go then. Instead you let them take away who you truly are, a genius, a great Wizard destined to do great things. Your resentment and anger and hatred stole your true power. You could have been revered by now. You could have proven Dumbledore wrong and have been ruling this country for years and it would be strong and prosperous. Instead it's weak. In my humble opinion of course." He opened his eyes and grinned without humour.
Voldemort was staring at him with an odd expression on his face.
"Sorry." Harry said drily. "No one has ever bothered to ask my opinion, not that you did really."
"And Your parents? Having the Hallows would have given you the opportunity for revenge. I did murder them after all."
"Yeah, so Dumbledore keeps reminding me. But... Choice. They had one. They chose Dumbledore and war. Maybe they should have chosen their son." He shook his head. "Perhaps you should stop asking me questions. None of this stuff is relevant to you getting the Hallows. I've already told you why I want to give you them. Nothing else matters does it. Did you know that you glow?"
"Yeah, your skin. It catches the light and glows... real soft, not like luminous or anything. Maybe glow is too strong a word. Shimmers...?" Harry said staring at Voldemort's shoulder.
"Perhaps you should go and rest." Voldemort said narrowing his eyes. The green orbs were wandering all over the exposed parts of his body again, with that fascinated look.
"No, no point. We'll be going to Hogwarts tonight. After that I will be getting all the 'rest' I'll ever need." Harry closed his eyes again and settled against Nagini.
"You are so ready to die, Brat." Voldemort stated.
Harry didn't speak for a long time. He just stroked Nagini. Eventually he said: "'In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existing, and loathing seizes him'."
Voldemort was glad the Brat's eye were closed so he didn't see his surprised pleasure. "Philosophy interests you?"
Harry shrugged a shoulder. "It did. There seemed little point to it as I wouldn't live long enough to learn all I wanted, read all I wanted, know all I wanted. It... pained me knowing that. But it didn't work, I couldn't keep away from it. My will is weak."
"Brat. 'I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture, it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage'." The Brat's eyes opened for a second then closed again. He looked inordinately pleased.
"You would. Are we going to quote Nietzsche to each other for the rest of the day? Or do you prefer Plato, 'Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil'; Or yourself. 'There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it'."
"Are you mocking me, Brat." Voldemort drawled.
"No – I've just never forgotten it." He gave a small laugh. "How could I?"
"Do you have a favourite?"
"Ah, well – that would be telling. I found his tome quite by chance. He was the one who... started it all for me. I was twelve. In my opinion, he is the greatest of all. If I had a choice before me to burn the Hallows or burn the book... the Hallows really would fall into legend."
There was silence for long minutes as Voldemort just stared at the Brat who was wrapped around Nagini as much as she was wrapped around him. Burn the Hallows for a book... somehow he believed the Brat would do just that. With his eyes closed, he couldn't tell what he was thinking. And he wanted to know. He couldn't remember when he had found anyone quite so... interesting. Except maybe Lucius, but that was long gone. Since his transformation their friendship had dwindled, and now with Draco's death and his former inability to act...
"Is there anything else in your bag of tricks for me?" Voldemort asked loudly. Making the Brat jump, and trying not to sound as if today wasn't all his Christmas' rolled into one.
Harry laughed picking up on the Dark Lord's excitement. "Yes. Actually there is." He went to put his hand into the bag but Nagini suddenly shot her head into it. "Oi! Get out of there!" He said slightly panicked as her long body began to unwind from his and disappear into its depths.
"Voldemort! Your snake! I don't know where this bag goes!" He tried to grab hold of her with both hands and halt her descent. "Aargh!" He lurched to the side as her tail slapped him sharply across face. "Come out, Nagini!" He yelled as the welt on his cheek began to bleed again. He wrestled the body for a full minute holding onto her with all his strength as she thrashed about knocking him back and forth. "COME OUT!"
"Potter." Voldemort drawled. Watching the boy with raised non-existent brows. "Perhaps if you explicated your concerns to her in a terminology she can fully discern, she would acquiesce with your wishes."
"What! – what did you just say!" Harry shouted, as he was thrown to the left "Have you had just swallowed a bloody dictionary! Explicated... What!"
"Speak to her in Parselmouth, you idiot." Voldemort said, highly amused. And it struck him that he couldn't remember the last time anything had amused him. He liked the way the Brat had called him just Voldemort. He liked the way he didn't cower when he looked at him. He liked the way he stared him straight in the eye showing no hint of fear or disgust at his appearance. He liked the curiosity he could see, and the Brat found him... fascinating.
'Come out of there, Nagini. It could be dangerousss!' Harry hissed furiously.
"Voldemort! I can't hold on to her any longer. She's slipping away from me."
Something in the Brat's voice made Voldemort look at him sharply. He was stark white again, his face bloodied and his dark green eyes, for the first time since his arrival, showed fear. 'Nagini!' Voldemort hissed.
The snake stopped struggling and began to emerge from the bag. Harry sat back in relief breathing heavily. When her head finally appeared she looked at him, her tongue flickering around his face. 'Now I tassste fear. Your odd Brat feared for me, Massster.' She curled up in Harry's lap and rested her head on his chest. 'You may pet me.' She hissed imperiously.
'Oh may I.' Harry said, his hand trembling slightly as he lifted it to her head. 'Don't go in there again, I don't know where it goesss. Hermi... Hermione would know, itsss her bag you sssee. Ssshe knew everything. But I don't.'
'Where isss ssshe.' Nagini hissed.
Harry stroked her head his face blank, his eyes unseeing. 'Ssshe ssslipped away from me thisss morning.'
'Ssshe isss in the bag?'
Harry looked at the snake and smiled sadly.
"Come here, Brat." Voldemort said gesturing with his hand. Harry hefted the snake off his lap and into his armchair as he stood and walked over to the Dark Lord. He leaned down at another gesture from the hand. Voldemort raised his wand and pointed it at Harry's face. The Brat showed no reaction to it at all. Just waited. Voldemort healed the welt that had split open when Nagini had swacked him with her tail, and cast a cleansing charm to remove the blood from his face.
He sheathed his wand and looked back up at the Brat who was still leaning over him, staring down with that intense quizzical look in his eyes, as if he couldn't understand his actions. He opened his mouth to speak just as the door opened.
"CRUCIO!" Bella screamed, and Harry lifted in the air to fly across to the other side of the room. He hit the wall feeling firstly his Radius bone snap in half, and then the blood-curdling pain of the curse as it roared through his veins. He hit the floor face down breaking his nose. Every muscle and joint in his body locked including his jaw that was half open. Never had he felt anything like this. Mad-eye and Dumbledore's Crucio's did not come close. His last coherent thought as he felt blood trickle from the side of his mouth was that all in all, this had been a really bad fucking day. Then there was nothing but agony and screaming and agony...
Authors note: Chapter two up shortly. Let me know what you think of it so far...