A/n: The Deatheater meeting at the beginning of DH happened in June. Everything follows canon unless otherwise stated. The story will diverge from DH around chapter 6/7.
Lord Voldemort apparated into the meeting room of Slytherin castle, stumbling slightly as he landed. He allowed himself to stand a moment, his head bowed in exhaustion as he waited for the flood of pain from his burnt leg to abate. He quickly straightened, adjusted his stance so that he could avoid putting too much weight on his leg without it being noticeable, and activated the Dark Mark. Some fifty death eaters arrived and he began to speak, long years of practice keeping the weariness out of his voice and manner.
"My loyal followers. We have been making great strides both here and abroad. The inferior and the unworthy will soon bow before our might," Cheers greeted the cliched drivel. He wondered absently how absurd a speech he could make before the cowards and sycophants would falter in their adoration. Great Salazar he was tired. "To that end your reports," He continued when the cheers died down. Lucius stepped forward, bowed and started to speak.
"My Lord, our less conspicuous agents are slowly advancing anti-creature legislation as you ordered. We are also advancing martial law measures in preparation for our takeover of the ministry, though honestly with recent events it is almost too easy. Indeed known members of the light proposed an extension of the letter-screening and ministry-approved Hogwarts curriculum that was enforced under Fudge. We have also recruited two Unspeakables," Lucius knew better than to name the pair in an open meeting and ended his report there with another bow.
As he dismissed Lucius, Snape glided forward, bowing. "My Lord, it is done. Dumbledore is dead," Voldemort felt like he'd been slapped. After all these years, Dumbledore was dead and at the hands of a student. Snape for his part looked jubilant... if you overlooked the paleness of his face and his shaking hands, easily mistaken for fear though the Dark Lord knew it wasn't.
"Ah." So the plan worked. "Young Draco succeeded then?" he asked.
"Yes, my Lord." Snape replied with his head bowed in apparent submission. His jaw was tight with anger that Voldemort was supposed to take as jealousy but he knew wasn't. Snape wasn't ambitious enough for that. Liar.
"He will be marked at the next meeting and given command over this year's new squad," Voldemort said simply. He would deal with Snape's deceptions later.
"Thank you my Lord," said Lucius with genuine gratitude, if a liberal amount of fear for his offspring. Snape took the dismissal for what it was and gave Bellatrix the floor.
"We have been conducting hit and run raids along with random attacks and kidnappings of light wizards as you have ordered, my Lord. As I'm sure you've noticed." Here her voice turned smug. "The wizarding population has descended into panic. They fear your name once again," she said with a fanatic light in her eyes. He flicked a cruciatas at her and held it for several seconds.
"They alwaysss feared it," he hissed, neither doubt nor arrogance in his voice. It was simple fact.
"Of c-course my lord." She sobbed more because of his displeasure than pain. "I simply..." She fell silent under her Lord's bloody gaze and stood down. Fenrir took Bellatrix's place with a bow.
"My Lord, we have an oath of loyalty from the Devonshire pack, and I have over a third of the werewolves from the Moorland and Welsh packs. We can expect to double our numbers when the werewolf legislation goes through." Fenrir bowed again and Voldemort waved him a dismissal. The Dark Lord was about to dismiss the meeting when a young man named Ratel—one of the first batch recruited and marked after his rebirth—stepped forward with his head bowed.
"My Lord, we have served you faithfully in the quest for magical purity." He stated with a proud fervor. "Why do we in this most noble pursuit choose to sully our ranks with the filth of werewolves and their ilk." Voldemort sighed inwardly—he wanted this meeting to be over—outwardly he gave a cold yet entertained smirk. Fenrir leaped to the idiot and treated them to screams as the young death eater writhed in pain. He tried and failed to worm away as Fenrir started to bite him with his still vicious human jaws. When it started to appear that things would go too far Voldemort wandlessly threw a revulsion jinx at Fenrir, then a shield charm between him and the twenty-something bleeding and whimpering on the floor. Fenrir leaped against the shield a couple of times which Voldemort allowed for the sake of the amusing terror it caused Ratel. When his blood-lust abated, Fenrir looked towards Voldemort seething with fury.
"Take him to the dungeons, Fenrir. No healers, on the full moon turn him. His attitude will be a pack matter then." His anger gone, Fenrir leered and stalked forward to drag a screaming Ratel into the dungeons. "If there is nothing further," and his tone made it clear it wasn't really a question, "the meeting is adjourned."
He walked, teeth gritted, deeper into the castle while the Death Eaters—those that weren't staying at the castle—walked to the edge of the wards. He made it to the library, selected the book he wanted, and disapparated. He arrived at a small field near loch Lomond, and entered a nearby building protected by a Fidelius Charm. He had created it to essentially be his house on the rare occasions that his personal chambers at the castle were not adequate. It had two rooms, not counting a bathroom, and a hidden vault room. He drew his wand left-handed and took down the half dozen wards and locks on the door, hissing with disgust as he hesitated on the final slash of movement in one of the spells and had to redo it. He crossed the threshold, replaced the spells and set the book, Une Étude du Travail et la creation des Isandisos, on the small end table by an armchair. Then with a sigh of relief he limped heavily into the bathroom.
He shrugged awkwardly out of his cloak and robes, hissing in pain as he jarred his injured shoulder. He sat on the toilet with the cover down and leaned against the tank, glad to finally be off his feet. The bathroom was a relatively simple affair: shower and sink, both with snake's head knobs, toilet, and mirrored cabinet with a silver frame of emerald-eyed winding snakes above the sink. He tried to pull off his shirt only to find it stuck against his ribs. He took out his wand and awkwardly cut around it left handed. Finding his shoulder dislocated he relocated it, biting back a hiss of pain, and cast a cooling charm on it. Soaking the remaining bit of shirt stuck to his ribs, he peeled it away. He examined them to find at least one broken under the charred skin. He cast a spell to set it, but like most healing spells of any serious use, the bone mending spell could not be cast on one's self. He would have to leave it. The curse that had caused the burn damage was such that the magical burn salve he had in the cabinet would take several days to fully heal it, but he slathered it on anyway. He tried not to groan in pain out of habit, though no one was there.
After applying the salve and wrapping gauze around his ribs and leg, he summoned clean clothes from the wardrobe in the bedroom. He then limped out of the bathroom and sat down in the comfortable green armchair in the main room. Taking the book off the nearby end table he started reading. He wanted nothing more than to sleep but needed to reference some details to make sure that everything was ready for his new project. He didn't want unanswered questions and worries interfering with the first good night's sleep he'd had since leaving for Romania almost two weeks before. His head still throbbed from the quantity of endurance potions he'd been taking of late. He should have been elated that Dumbledore was gone, but after hating the man for so long it felt rather anticlimactic and...empty.
He'd just flipped to the next section he'd marked in the book when he heard a voice he recognized all too well.
He bolted to his feet with his wand out, almost collapsing as he put his weight evenly on his injured leg. Avada kedavra. He cast silently and watched in shock as it passed through Harry Potter.
Harry landed on a soft green carpet and saw Voldemort in all his snake-faced glory leap to his feet in a weird crouch, knees bent ready to move. He tried to throw himself out of the way of the killing curse but was too late; however, it passed right through him without any apparent harm. He 'landed' on the floor, yet felt no impact, and got to his feet. Voldemort, now standing normally, looked at Harry appraisingly and he returned the gaze with defiance. As he stood there, Harry noticed a steadily increasing throb in his leg. Harry's scar split open and he fell to the floor clutching his head, feeling Voldemort's rage and something else flood him. A crutiatas and some other presumably nasty curse passed through him to no effect, and slowly the rage and agony faded.
Voldemort looked at Harry thoughtfully before saying, "I can assume that you are here to use the awe inspiring powers of light to avenge your precious Dumbledore, Golden One?" Harry's scar flickered with fire as that something—annoyance?—flashed again.
Harry had no idea what was going on. This was unlike any vision/dream he'd had before. However the snake did have a point: it appeared he had nothing to lose, if Voldemort could harm him he was dead anyway. Harry drew his wand. "Expelliarmus, incendio, diffindo, sectumsempra." Voldemort threw up a shield, but the spells all went through it and the snake himself to no effect.
Harry had no idea what was going on, but his head hurt and his leg was aching for no reason. He now really looked at Voldemort for the first time since he'd arrived. His enemy was wearing loose black pants of cotton or silk with silver trim and a matching long sleeve top, almost pajamas, with black dragon hide boots. He was white with rage and holding his wand in his left hand, which struck Harry as odd for some reason, though he wasn't sure why. Not wanting to stay in a room with a livid Voldy in case the snake found a way to harm him, he walked toward the door only to find that his hand went though it. Voldemort wandlessly opened the door and sat down as though the simple chair was a throne. Harry tried to walk out but found that he couldn't cross the threshold.
"I guess I'm stuck here until I wake up," Harry said.
Voldemort hissed and Harry's scar lit up with pain.
Half an hour later, Harry was sitting on the floor in boredom while watching his mortal enemy, who was seated in the room's only chair, read a book in some language he couldn't understand. He couldn't help wondering at the surreal circumstances. He also wondered why his leg hurt so fucking much but he wasn't going to alert the dark lord to his pain by examining it. He tried to focus on something other than Voldemort but there really wasn't anything interesting in the room and his burgeoning headache made getting lost in thought impossible. He shifted a bit and reached up to rub his temples, noting a distinct stiffness in his shoulder. Perfect, he thought bitterly.
Voldemort looked up and Harry immediately cast his eyes away in an effort to avoid that bloody gaze. He looked around again. He was in a small room with three doors. One of the doors was flanked by two bookcases. A map of Britain on the wall and a small table with what looked like a chess board occupied the space beside the second door to Harry's left. The wall behind him was empty except for the last door and the blank wall to his right held an unlit fireplace. Otherwise, the only furnishings were the chair Voldemort was currently treating like a throne and the small end table beside it.
Voldemort appraised his young intruder for a moment before deciding that—throbbing headache or not—this was an opportunity that may not present itself again for a longtime, so...
"So your shepherd is gone and yet you will still walk to the altar as the light's sacrificial lamb? Why? There is no hope for your cause. You would take a meaningless death at the behest of another cowardly, incompetent minister to preserve a corrupt system you admit publicly to loathing." He paused a moment to allow the message to sink into the young martyr's thick skull. "While I kill everyone you care about? One by one?" He asked, his voice low and menacing, leaning forward and ignoring the way it pulled at his burns. Ignoring as well the odd sensation he felt and the way Dumbledore's piercing gaze came to the forefront of his mind.
Dumbledore, Sirius, Cedric, his parents, Dumbledore. The names and faces flashed through his mind and Harry felt his eyes burn as he recalled Dumbledore on the tower still trying to save Draco. Rage flooded him on the heels of his grief.
"By 'kill them' you mean have teenagers kill them to please their bigoted families right?" he grated fiercely. Pain stabbed his scar as Voldemort laughed, high, cold, and cruel, a harsh parody of the carefree sound like the negative of a photo.
"I take it that they are less dead for the lack of my personal attention? Or are you merely disillusioned that a pompous, spoiled, undertrained whelp no older than yourself could kill your precious Albus?" Voldemort sneered. Harry felt the emptiness, the sense of loneliness and loss that had been rather muted over the last few weeks return with a vengeance. He bit his lip to keep it from trembling, and swallowed hard.
"There will always be people who believe in justice to fight you. We will honor him by carrying on," Harry said, wishing he didn't sound so shaky...or melodramatic for that matter.
"And they will follow him to their graves as you will...in due time." Voldemort replied. "Or you could join me in improving this system of apologists, nepotists and self-hating magical restrictions that you find so lacking while sparing your 'loved ones.'" He said loved ones like one would say 'warts'.
Harry hesitated, overwhelmed with the pain of losing Dumbledore suddenly so fresh and raw, like a scab that had been torn off. He wondered for a moment if perhaps he could just give in, live in solace with what remained of his friends and adopted family. Be selfish.
The thought only lasted a moment, though. He knew he couldn't.
"And put them through the living hell that you would turn Britain into? Death would be preferable."
"Supposing that you and yours could live in comfort and relative extravagance?" Voldemort offered seductively. Be selfish, Harry thought. It's your life, your friends. Without Dumbledore you'll probably lose anyway. You'd simply be sparing them a torturous death...
"Unlike your precious pure-bloods I cannot be bought," Harry snarled.
"Then you'll die," Voldemort said simply. "Along with every last person who assists your futile efforts." He smiled and Harry felt an irrational jealousy, a vindictiveness that he assumed came from the snake across from him. Voldemort returned to his reading.
Voldemort couldn't focus. He'd been staring at the same page for ten minutes. After their short conversation, Harry had turned, scrubbed at his eyes—to Voldemort's sadistic satisfaction—and said no more. Yet still he lacked his normal obsessive focus. It was frustrating to say the least, and while he could have attributed such issues to his physical state he knew that wasn't entirely the cause. He'd been in far worse condition before, it shouldn't serve as quite such a distraction. He just couldn't get Dumbledore's face out of his head or the overwhelming sense of worry and doubt and...
He was already reviewing his plans, trying to find something he'd overlooked, before he realized that it was the boy's feelings bleeding though the mind link. His wand hand twitched with the urge to torture something over the fact the it hadn't occurred to him immediately. He closed his eyes a moment to clear his head. Seriously how did the boy have a coherent thought with all of this white noise? When he opened them he realized with some interest that the teen in question was fading.
A/n: Thank you all for bearing with me during this overhaul and thanks to my awesome new beta PsychoLeopard.