"Harry! Harry!" Ron was yelling. Merlin, why wasn't his best friend answering? "Harry!"
Harry had woken up the entire dorm room with his thrashing and screaming. This wasn't any regular nightmare, Ron knew; this was another one of those You-Know-Who visions. Just like the one Harry had had over the summer about the weird little girl when Fowl was there. Regular nightmares didn't make people do that. Harry was hissing now, something unintelligible – well, that definitely was You-Know-Who, then – but there was some English interspersed in there, something along the lines of "Kill" and "now" and Ron was just ready to punch a hole in the headboard just to get Harry to wake up already!
"Neville!" Ron yelled, as Harry's foot came dangerously close to his face, "hold his legs down!"
Neville clumsily attempted to grab Harry's wildly swinging feet and got a mouthful of sock for his trouble. Eventually, though, he managed to pull one down, and had to use his entire body's weight to keep the leg immobile. Seamus managed to pin down Harry's other leg, and Dean sat on the side that Ron couldn't reach to keep Harry from turning over an injuring himself even further. For someone so scrawny, Ron was surprised at just how damn strong his friend was. Maybe that was a side-effect of vision-induced insanity.
"HARRY!" they all chorused. "WAKE UP!"
But it was no use. They would just have to ride it out until the nightmare was over. Harry's scar wasn't exactly bleeding yet – that was a good sign, at least – but it did look extremely inflamed and red. All they could do to help him was keep him still until the vision was done, so that he wouldn't roll off the bed and bang his head on the nightstand and injure himself even further. Ron prayed that this one would be short, at least.
Several minutes had passed, and Harry was still at it. Ron was getting tired, and from the way that Harry was thrashing again, so were Neville and Seamus and Dean.
"Damn it, Harry, you couldn't make this easy for us now, could you?" Dean grumbled, annoyed at having his sleep interrupted – but at least it was still break tomorrow. Imagine if this had been a school day. They'd all be losing points for sleeping in every class.
"He can't – ouch! – help it," Neville said, or tried to say, at least, since Harry had just inadvertently kneed him in the gut. "But I wish he had less bony knees."
"If those Muggles had fed him right before Sirius came along," Ron wheezed, after feeling Harry's elbow hit his nose. If Harry had broken it…
The things he did…
"Someone hit him with a Body-Bind!" Dean snapped. He had had the best luck so far out of all three boys, since he was the only one not sporting a nicely formed bruise just yet, but from the way Harry was jumping around, they might as well have been trying to walk Hagrid's Skrewts again. It was dark, too, so no one could see, and even then, their wands were still left at their respective beds. None of them knew how to wandlessly perform the Body-Bind – or even wandlessly summon their own wands at all – and for one of them to let go, run over, and actually grab their wand would mean leaving the other three to duke it out with an unconscious and spazzing-out Harry Potter.
"Who?" Seamus wheezed, as Harry's leg jerked him up and down like a monkey on a string.
Eventually it was decided that Dean should do it, since he was the least heavy out of all of them and thus was the least useful in holding Harry down. Unfortunately that left an entire limb exposed, and so Ron was left in a very awkward position as he tried to keep two of Harry's arms bound at once. "Hurry up, will you?" he yelled at Dean.
"I got it, I got it!" Dean yelled. "Petrificus Totalis!"
Harry's arms and legs snapped to his side, but his entire body was still rolling around and flopping up and down like a fish out of water. They all let go of him in relief.
But fifteen minutes later, the vision still wasn't over, and Ron was becoming more and more agitated by the second.
What if he's trapped there? Ron thought. What if he's stuck in You-Know-Who's head and can't get out? We have to help him!
"Dean!" he yelled hoarsely. "What was that spell?"
"What spell?" Dean yelled back.
"The one that undoes Stupefy!"
"Yeah, that one! How does it go?"
"Like this!" Dean grumbled, pointing his wand at Harry. "Ennervate!"
At once, Harry's eyes snapped open, his face covered in sweat. His breath was still coming in ragged pants, but at least he was no longer screaming or thrashing.
"You okay, mate?" Ron asked.
Harry looked at him oddly, and then, suddenly, he burst into laughter. Ron frowned at Harry. Had he finally snapped under the pressure and gone off the deep end?
But no. When Harry finished his bout of guffawing, he began to speak, and he sounded perfectly normal, if a little aggravated. "Voldemort," he rasped, his chest still hiccoughing from his laughter.
The dormitory exploded in terror.
"No way! He can't be!"
"But Harry saw him!"
"Maybe it was just a nightmare!"
"No, that wasn't just a nightmare!"
"What did he do?" Ron asked worriedly.
Harry paused in his snickering long enough to gasp out, "Voldemort was having a nightmare."
And he broke down into tears of hilarity once again.
It took everyone about an hour to explain the entire "Voldemort-is-probably-back-but-laying-low" situation, a few more seconds to process what Harry just told them, and a few more seconds to process why it was so funny, but once they did the entire fourth-year Gryffindor boys' dormitory was rolling on the floor in laughter. Even Neville, who always looked so nervous and worried all the time, was chortling so hard he could barely breathe. However afraid they were of waking up a teacher or getting into trouble had all gone out the topmost window of Gryffindor Tower. You-Know-Who – no, Lord Voldemort – was having a nightmare!
The concept of Voldemort sleeping in the first place was already laughable. What did he do, wear pink nighties and a shower cap? Did he have a teddy bear, too – oh, good dear sweet Merlin and Morgana – that was just too much – it was even better than the mental image of Batman gardening –
But as soon as the laughter had come along, it died away.
"Wait…what was he even dreaming about?" Ron asked, feeling slightly terrified. What was so horrible that it could give even Voldemort nightmares?
Harry scratched his head. "It was really weird. I only felt a few minutes of it. Personally, it was nothing too bad; I didn't feel anything horrible about it…but yeah, it was really weird. And Voldemort was feeling completely awful. I don't know exactly what significance that place or those people held to him, but whatever it was, it affected him a lot more than it affected me. It was…well, it was pretty bad. For him, anyway. Not for me. I'm fine. I felt his fear and anger, but it wasn't mine, you know?"
"So it wasn't something, it was just a bunch of bad memories that didn't make sense," Ron sighed in relief. "Merlin, Harry, do you know how absolutely terrifying it is to think that something could give even Voldemort nightmares?"
"Maybe it was Chuck Norris," said Dean, and he and Seamus began rolling around in laugher again.
Neville frowned. "Uhhh…guys, who's Chuck Norris?"
Dean and Seamus got up again. "Toughest guy in the world," they grinned.
"How tough is he?" Ron asked, curious about this Chuck Norris.
"He played the Death Waltz on the piano with his pinky, and only his pinky."
"He walks Blast-Ended Skrewts for fun."
"He doesn't cast a Wingardium Leviosa to make a feather float; he just pushes everything else on earth down."
"He kissed a Dementor, and the Dementor died."
"He used to be Snape's Potions teacher."
"He once looked a Baslisk in the eye, and that's the reason why there's that giant stone snake winding around the column on the Slytherin end of the Great Hall."
"What, really?" Ron asked. How come he had never heard of this Chuck Norris?
"No, Ron," Harry sighed, but he was giggling. "It's just a Muggle joke. Chuck Norris is this American Muggle television actor. People just make jokes about how tough he is."
"Aw," Ron said, disappointed. "Why do they do that?"
Harry shrugged. "In his films he usually beats up all the bad guys in a hilariously epic way. Hence the reason why people like to exaggerate his awesomeness. Dudley used to watch his films all the time."
"Seriously, though," Neville cut in, "what was the nightmare?"
Harry shrugged. "I told you, it didn't make much sense. I was in this completely white room – well, he was; I was just seeing it from his point of view – he was in this completely white room, and Dumbledore was there. Except it wasn't really Dumbledore or, like, the Dumbledore we know – it was a man with Dumbledore's face, but he was in a white lab coat – you know, like the Healer uniforms, but Muggle. And Dumbledore was writing on a clipboard, and he was screaming and yelling at him. But he couldn't move because he was tied down."
"Why didn't he just use Relashio or something?" Ron asked. "He's an all-powerful wizard, supposedly, isn't he? Not that I like him, but you're right when you say that it does sound like an odd nightmare to be terrified of."
"Maybe he wasn't terrified of the nightmare," said Neville, in an odd burst of intelligence. "Maybe he was terrified of the fact that he was even having a nightmare in the first place."
"No," Harry shook his head. "I could feel his fear; he was actually scared. And, well, that's the thing: he couldn't release himself. He couldn't even do any magic. Not even dust was floating up for him. He was completely bound, restrained, powerless, and at the mercy of a Muggle that looked like Dumbledore. Come to think of it, that's not so weird after all. Imagine if you were this all-powerful Dark Lord and then one day you woke up and you had no magic or strength or power left, and you're stuck talking to this guy that looks like your worst enemy – or one of them, anyway."
"Yeah, I guess that does sound scary, for a guy like him," Dean murmured. "Oh, well, serves him right. I hope one of his Death Eater fellows gets a picture and posts it all over the Daily Prophet."
"Yeah…" Harry winced as he remembered the day that Rita Skeeter lady had come to Hogwarts, trying to interview Artemis Fowl about the entire "fourth Champion" issue that he had somehow managed to worm his way out of yet again. Harry hadn't actually been there personally, but he had been in the Potions classroom with the other Slytherins when when Rita Skeeter had encountered Angeline Fowl, and man was it appalling.
They could hear her screaming for nearly the entire hour echoing around the dungeon, and then some.
It wasn't until then that he could believe that this was the woman who had given birth to Artemis…or that someone like Artemis could even have a mother in the first place.
(And Hermione had said she was really nice and polite compared to the other Pureblood ladies when she Floo-called them that summer!)
"Um. So. You-Know-Who is back, you say?" Neville asked. "You sure?"
"Dumbledore certainly seems to think so," said Harry, "and Ron and Hermione were both there when this happened for the first few times…they don't just come in dreams; sometimes they happen when I'm awake. My scar just starts burning and then I actually see him doing stuff, from his perspective, like I'm there and like I'm actually him. It's not all random and fuzzy and slow like a real dream is – I know when I'm dreaming because I tell my leg to move and it feels like I'm walking through molasses – ever been there?"
"I don't want to believe it," murmured Seamus.
"Well, I might as well be Muggle-born…" said Dean. "So it can't hurt to be careful, right? What was that Moody was always telling us? Something about constant vigilance?"
"Exactly," said Ron. "Listen, Harry, even if You-Know-Who doesn't come back and it's all fake – which is a total lie because your Muggle relatives were totally murdered by AK, even Kingsley said so and only one guy goes around with that spell as his signature curse – "
"Wait – your relatives were murdered, Harry?" Seamus yelped. "What – why didn't you tell us?"
"Because you guys would react like this! I don't want the attention," Harry said. "I mean, I'm sad that they died, even if we didn't like each other very much, but knowing how people work, someone like that Rita Skeeter lady's going to take this and spin it into some giant story. Fudge and Dumbledore are already on bad terms as it is; Dumbledore's been trying to tell Fudge that Voldemort might be coming back and Fudge doesn't want to believe it because he thinks Dumbledore's just trying to usurp his power – which is just ridiculous – "
"What?" Dean interjected. "Now that's just stupid. Dumbledore's happy as Headmaster!"
"I know," said Harry, "but anyway, that's the way things are. If I go around talking about my relatives or claiming that Voldemort's come back, he can just call me attention-seeking or something. Anyway, Voldemort never left the Dark Mark, so we can't prove anything – he was so furious because I wasn't there; I had already been staying at Sirius' during that point in time, so he couldn't catch me."
"Well, Harry, just know that we all support you and believe you, okay?" Ron said.
Harry rubbed his eyes. "Yeah. I know. Thanks."
They all sat in silence, contemplating the turn of events. Most of them didn't know what to think – they had all been too young at the time of the first war to remember Voldemort, or, in the case of the Muggle-raised, to even know of his existence. But one thing was for sure: Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore, who were both currently daily foci in Hogwarts, were closer, more familiar, and more trustworthy figures than Cornelius Fudge, a politician miles away who was about as unknown to them as the Defense teacher from five years ago rather than four – if it wasn't for his garishly purple attire, anyway.
"It's a good thing we have Moody this year," said Dean. "Lupin was good, but he never taught us anything against curses or dueling directly like Moody's been doing. And – let's face it – our first two guys were useless."
They snickered. "Let us all bow down our heads to the memory of Lockhart and his pixies – "
"And Quirrell's turban – "
"Ron, didn't your brothers enchant snowballs to follow Quirrell around and bounce off the back of his turban?" Harry grinned.
"Oh, yeah, I remember that!" Ron grinned back. "That was hilarious!"
"So, indirectly, they were throwing snowballs at Voldemort's face…" Harry trailed off.
Ron's mouth dropped open in shock. "Oh, Merlin…"
"…and they lived…"
"Oh, man, we are worshipping the ground they walk on the next time we meet them…"
"Fowl," said Seamus.
"What?" Ron asked.
"Fowl," repeated Seamus. "You don't think it's got anything to do with him, do you?"
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know if you guys know this as well as I do," said Seamus, "but I'm from Ireland. Just like he is. And on that side of the water, there isn't a single person who doesn't know the Fowl name. They're like all of the Malfoys and Parkinsons and Notts and whatever combined – only they've got that entire chunk of land to themselves, while here it's kind of divided up between all those purebloods, you know?"
Ron frowned. "I don't get it, though. He's been here with us for four years, and nothing's ever happened – he even helped us a couple of times before. Anyway, the Goblet spat his name out, not Harry's, so clearly, someone is trying to get him killed and not the other way around."
"Yeah, I don't know…you know what, forget it," said Seamus. "Ignore me. I'm just being silly."
"No you're not," said Harry kindly. "He's not exactly the friendly type, is he?"
"I hate it when he smiles," Neville whispered.
"Never trust a smiling Slytherin."
"Or smiling Weasley twins."
Ron grinned. "Anyway, I think we're fine. You-Know-Who is likely to go after Harry before the rest of us – "
" – well, it's true! But besides, we're in Hogwarts right now and after school is over Harry's heading back to Sirius' place. And Fowl's evil, sure, but not…you know…not You-Know-Who evil."
(No…Artemis Fowl was a lot more evil.)
The Headmaster's Office
"You say you saw this…just about last night?" Dumbledore asked, staring at the young boy sitting in front of him.
Harry nodded. "Ron told me that apparently I was thrashing around so much, it took the entire dorm room to calm me down."
He nodded. "I see. And they know about your dreams, now?"
"Well, yeah, I woke all of them up with my screaming," Harry answered. "Funny thing is, I don't even remember the pain or anything. Voldemort was in a lot of pain, I could tell, but as for me…personally, I just found it really, really weird. It was only a short glimpse, but…"
"Tell me, what was it that Lord Voldemort was so afraid of?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry grinned. "It was actually pretty funny. You were there, sir."
Dumbledore cocked an eyebrow. What an interesting, though not completely unexpected, turn of events. Well, it was good to hear that Tom Riddle still had things holding him back, things to ground him. If he had no fear whatsoever he would abandon all of his plans to recklessness, and then not even the most carefully crafted ploys would be able to counter his unpredictable movements. "Me?"
Harry nodded. "Only, it wasn't you. It was your face, but your hair was shorter, and you were wearing a doctor's coat. You know, like the Muggles."
"A Muggle doctor?"
"Well, not the conventional doctor. You had a clipboard, so more like a psychologist, I suppose. You know, for crazy people. I just remember that in the bit I saw, Voldemort was wearing a straightjacket and you were talking to him and writing things down on your clipboard while he was screaming." Harry looked thoughtful. "We figured that it was because Voldemort was afraid of losing his magic, that Hogwarts wasn't real after all…which is a pretty sensible fear, if you ask me."
Dumbledore sighed as he remembered the first day he had met Tom Riddle in the orphanage in London, how the young boy had raged and screamed at him, saying "I'm not mad!" If only he had known…if only he could have seen then, what the boy would become…he would have kept a closer eye on him. At the time, he had merely distrusted Riddle, and when the boy presented a perfectly well-behaved mask by the time he started school, believed his future to be that of a particularly dishonest politician. He should have known that Tom Riddle would not merely be content with the chains of government bureaucracy. No, for all of his terrible works, Tom Marvolo Riddle had always been destined for something great.
"Your friends, they know, correct?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry nodded. "Everyone in my dorm room seems to believe me well enough. At first they were skeptic; they couldn't believe that Voldemort even slept – "
Neither can I, thought Dumbledore, but he said nothing.
" – but they knew that I couldn't have come up with something so crazy on my own. To be honest, I never thought of Lord Voldemort's greatest fear as being locked up inside some Muggle mental hospital. Didn't we all always think that his greatest fear was death?" Harry asked.
"I think, Harry, that death is his greatest fear, and loss of magic is merely one of his bigger ones," Dumbledore whispered. "But, going back to your previous statement…it is odd that Lord Voldemort should need to sleep. I should think that he is paranoid enough at this stage to forego that small necessity."
Harry shrugged. "You don't think that mysterious girl was…you know…"
Dumbledore's eyes fluttered shut. "It is a possibility," he said slowly.
"So Voldemort's ally is working against him?" Harry asked.
"Any such alliance can only be temporary," said Dumbledore. "Voldemort seeks to subjugate; he will not stand having an equal. The fact that she has not been Marked by Voldemort suggests that she is too inhuman for him to brand, too dangerous for him to control. From his perspective, such a person should not be allowed to live and threaten his power. Should Voldemort succeed in this war, the two of them will eventually turn against one another and fight to the death for dominance over the world. That is the nature of any alliance with Lord Voldemort. He does not seek friends; his partnerships are only temporarily extended in times of extreme desperation. Once he feels the usefulness of the alliance is gone, he will end it as he sees fit."
Harry sighed. "So…what do we do now?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I suggest you gather allies while you can, Harry. Cornelius Fudge cannot take any open action against you now, or he will reflect poorly in front of international leaders who are watching the tournament, but rest assured, once the games are finished, he will try to discredit us and our warnings to him in an attempt to convince the public that nothing is wrong. Election year is coming up, after all."
From Harry's angry look, Dumbledore guessed that the boy would not be looking for a career in politics anytime soon. Ah, well. Good for him. The process of seeking power was never a kind field to begin with, anyway.
"Right, then. Well, thank you, Professor Dumbledore."
"Thank you for coming to me with this, Harry."
Harry sighed. "Ummm…sir? Is Artemis going to be okay?"
"Mr. Fowl is fine, yes. Officially he needs some rest, but just between you and me, there are many things students can do to get out of a task that they do not want, and faking illness is one of them." Dumbledore smiled as he thought of the pale, raven-haired boy in the Hospital Wing.
Harry snorted. "You really think so?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "I'm afraid that he is not the type to amuse himself with social occasions…or the opposite gender now, given his reason for being hospitalized."
"Yeah, that sounds like him. I bet he'd rather hide in a dark, artificially lit room, talking with his evil counterpart, than face everyone stupider than he is."
They had a good laugh at that.
He had been so afraid at first, when young Artemis had arrived at Hogwarts – unbelievably intelligent, respectable and polite in front of adults, but with a great affinity for lying, manipulation, and intimidation…a great curiosity and a desire to push magic to its very limits…and of course, those deceptively charming good looks.
But there had been a few key differences that set apart that young man from becoming a future Voldemort. Artemis Fowl was not a very interpersonally intelligent being; while Tom Riddle could associate with anyone, young Artemis had made it clear that he would not put up with idiocy, and, as such, alienated everyone in the school except for his small group of friends. That was another thing – Artemis Fowl could have his circle of highly trusted friends – whereas Tom Riddle trusted no one, no matter how large his social group grew. Tom Riddle was a naturally charismatic leader; Artemis Fowl was not – Dumbledore noticed that he was perfectly accepting of staying in the shadows and leaving the clockwork universe to run, only tweaking the cogs when it suited him, just like his father and grandfather. And unlike Tom Riddle's classically handsome features, which betrayed no hint of the evil within him, Artemis' sharpness clearly displayed an expression that fully showed his ability for cunning and his potential for cruelty.
And even if Dumbledore had been suspicious then, when the first few papers of "I am a warlock" (what an amusing moniker, he had to admit) were published, those suspicions were erased. Simply put, Artemis Fowl was too intelligent to go off the deep end in the way Tom Riddle had. He understood the importance of emotions, of relationships, and if not those, then at least balance. No, Artemis Fowl had confessed to him before that ruling the world was too arduous of a task, that keeping humanity under check was too much of a waste of time. And while Dumbledore had been slightly disappointed that "dealing with the idiocy of my fellow men" was Artemis' reason for not starting a campaign of mass-murder in an attempt to overthrow the current regime rather than "depriving people of their free will is wrong and evil," he could nonetheless sleep in peace at the fact that there was no way this generation's resident genius could be up to anything when confined to a bed under the watchful eye of Madame Pomfrey.
"Nevertheless, Harry, these developments are…shall we say…troublesome."
Harry lifted an eyebrow, confused. "Why?"
"These visions are not just dreams, as you have no doubt deduced," Dumbledore said gravely. "They are your pathways into Voldemort's mind. And if you can see into Voldemort's mind – "
" – he can do the same to me," Harry finished.
Dumbledore leaned back and nodded, impressed at Harry's deductive reasoning. "Quite right. Therefore, I would like you to learn Occlumency – the art of closing one's mind against intrusion. As useful as these visions might be, Harry, they are also dangerous. I am not sure if Voldemort knows already, but once he does, no doubt he might manipulate his own memories to give you false visions, in order to draw you into danger. He will not stop at anything to get you to come to him, since he knows that while you are in Hogwarts, or under the Fidelius Charm at Grimmauld place, he cannot come to you."
"All right, sir," Harry said. "So, when do we start?"
Dumbledore paused. "I'm afraid I won't be the one teaching you, Harry."
"I am a busy man. Not to mention, while I am good at Legilimency, the art of reading minds, there is someone much better than I am at Occlumency." Dumbledore sighed. Oh, Severus would hate him for this, and so would Harry…but a little extra time spent between the two might ease their hatred, wouldn't it? For too long, Severus had been too occupied with Harry's outward resemblance to his father to truly see the boy's actual nature. Surely, if not for Harry's, then for Lily's, sake…
The expected explosion did not come. Instead, Harry cocked an eyebrow at him. "Professor Snape?"
"You do realize we won't get along. If you really want me to learn, I doubt it will be from Professor Snape. Can't Professor McGonagall…?"
"She is not an Occlumens, Harry," Dumbledore said.
Harry sighed. "Let me get this straight: you trust Snape – "
"Professor Snape, Harry."
"You trust a man who is a better Occlumens than you are?" Harry asked. "How do you know if he's not secretly working with Voldemort? I know he's your double agent, Dumbledore; I've seen him at Order meetings – "
Dumbledore raised a hand. "That is between Professor Snape and I, Harry," he said. "Professor Snape has a very good reason for wanting to protect you, but he would like to keep it a secret."
Harry frowned. "Is it for the same reason the Slytherins don't like Voldemort?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore frowned. "What do you mean?"
"The Slytherins," Harry said. "People don't think I pay attention, but I do. For once, this year, the attention isn't on me – it's on the Tournament. And I get to hear people say things. The Slytherins are complaining about their parents acting differently, about being discriminated against because of their family history, about people like Crouch and Moody looking down their noses at them and accusing their parents of being Death Eaters – which is true but it's definitely not fair that the kids have to suffer – things like that. They don't mention Voldemort directly but I can tell that they don't like the idea of being judged just because of that."
At this, Dumbledore smiled. There could be hope for that side of the Great Hall yet, then. His thoughts drifted back to the Sorting Hat's warning at the beginning of the year. "That's a development that I am very glad to hear, Harry," he said. "Professor Snape's reasons run a little more deeply than that, but all the same, I think that the two of you should get to know one another a little better."
"I'll try," Harry agreed, "but can you please tell him to treat me like a normal person? I don't expect any special treatment like he gives to the students in his House but I don't want him to go out of his way to be extra mean to me, either."
"That I will do," Dumbledore said.
A/N: Harry can see into both Voldemort and Tom Riddle's mind right now. However, the connection is not returned because for now, Voldemort is too crazy and Tom Riddle is too unstable.
Possible excuses for the late update: College is difficult. Writing is hard. My fish was sick. Also, all of my pre-written chapters disappeared when my computer died.