A short time ago, in a United Kingdom far, far away…


Episode II: The Hand Bites Back

A Harry Potter fanfiction by Andrew Joshua Talon and Others

Disclaimer: This is a non profit fan based parody. Harry Potter is the property of J. K. Rowling and Time Warner. Please support the official release.

It is a time of confusion and war. While Harry Potter and his friends have defeated Voldemort's army of giant Inferi, the MINISTRY OF MAGIC remains obstinate and paralyzed by the embargo and internal politics.

In this quiet time, Lord Voldemort has begun to amass power and resources in both the MAGIC world and the MUGGLE WORLD with the assistance of his Loremaster, the Squib Alfred Lestrange.

The forces of good, however, are seldom idle, especially when fighting to restore peace and justice to the world...

Hermione Granger sighed as she looked through the Daily Prophet's latest headlines by the bedside of her best friend, Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived was currently sleeping as she flipped through the pages of the periodical, scowling a bit as she read through the latest articles. Pansy Parkinson sat on the other side of the bed, watching her with a disinterested expression.

"So... What's got your knickers in a twist right now?" Pansy asked. Hermione growled.

"My knickers are not in a twist thank you," she sniffed. "And why exactly are you still hovering over Harry?"

Pansy smiled. "Just thinking about how to reward Potter for saving me... And us. But mainly me." She hummed as she looked up and down Harry's sleeping form. "Hmmm... So many,many ideas..."

Hermione growled and held up her taser. Pansy's smirk widened as she rested a hand on Harry's... Stomach.

"That can't work here."

Hermione non-chalantly stuck the taser into the back of Pansy's palm. The girl yelped and yanked her hand back, rubbing it. "Ow! That really hurt!"

"And it wasn't even turned on," Hermione said smugly. "Now focus! We are in the middle of a major crisis here, and I'm trying to figure out a way to solve it!"

"You could just take me up on my offer, Granger," Pansy said with a smile. "After all, mistresses are part of Pureblood society."

"So is incest, which would explain this," Hermione said dryly, turning the newspaper around and holding it up to Pansy's face. Pansy narrowed her eyes as she read the headline.

"'Embattled Fudge Denies Embargo is Responsible for Little Whinging Battle,'" Pansy read. She shrugged. "I don't see the issue."

"Wha-How can you-His stupid embargo and denial of Voldemort being back caused all this to happen!" Hermione sputtered angrily. Pansy shrugged.

"Because there an emergency recall election being planned as we speak," Pansy said, leaning back in her chair. Hermione blinked.

"How do you-?"

"It's called reading between the lines, Granger," Pansy snorted. She pointed at a paragraph. "See here? 'Lord Blackjoy met with the Ministerial Council behind closed doors.'"

"Ah, well-" Hermione began, but Pansy held up her hand to interrupt her.

"Which means, they're probably going over the Ancient Articles of Impeachment. Fudge's blustering is mainly to convince the public everything is fine and to drum up popular support. But we both know that's unlikely. In the case of his sacking at this moment, a special emergency election is called for an interim Minister of Magic." Pansy snorted and leaned back in her chair, rubbing the back of her hand significantly. "What? Don't you have politics in the Muggle World?"

"Well... Yes, but I never paid them much mind," Hermione said, slightly embarrassed. "But that's just the point! The new Minister might be anyone! Maybe even a supporter of Voldemort himself!"

"Maybe," Pansy admitted, "but what's the good of fretting over it if it won't fix anything?"

"I am not fretting! I am working on a plan to fix this! But I need proper information first," she said defensively. Pansy smirked.

"From the Daily Prophet."

Hermione scowled, and set the newspaper down. "So, what would you suggest?"

"I suggest we gather some actual information first," Pansy said. "After all... Research is what you do best, right?"

Hermione hummed. "I suppose I'll have to work on that..." She glared at Pansy. "Which isn't an excuse for you to hang around and seduce Harry!"

"Oh darn," Pansy deadpanned. "And I was having so much trouble with that before."

"Yes. You were," Hermione said, in just as snarky a tone.

Harry sighed as he rubbed his cheeks. "Can't I get some peace and quiet for five minutes?"

"Sorry Harry," both girls said. They started and looked down at the now conscious Boy Who Lived.

"Harry? How long have you-?" Hermione tried. Harry sighed.

"Long enough... And what kind of research do you have in mind?"

"Very thorough research," Pansy hummed with a little smirk. "Wanna help us out?" She leaned over, and Harry flushed. He looked up at the ceiling as Hermione glared death at Pansy.

"He is going to recover. We, on the other hand... We have work to do."

Fred and George sighed, leaning back in their chairs in their office. It was a bit difficult to find much room, given how their storerooms were overflowing. Boxes were piled all over the place, on every free space. They'd even charmed several boxes to stick to the ceiling overhead.

"Gotta say, Fred," George began, "success is never as simple as they say it is."

"To be fair, twin o' mine, the people who usually speak about success never achieved it themselves."

"True, true," George nodded to his twin. Fred sighed, and looked around.

"That said… Would be nice if we could get another project rolling. With less clutter and all…"

George hummed… And snapped his fingers. "Hey! Why not ask Granger's mum for some help!"

"Granger's mum?" Fred asked in disbelief. "What makes you think she'd be any help?"

"One, she's hot," George said, "and two, she has access to all of Hermione's notes and homework. There's gotta be something in there we can use, right?"

Fred frowned. "And give her a fair price?"

"Of course, brother o' mine! How could it be anything else?" George asked with a bright grin. Fred smiled back.

"Just making sure. No need to become that thing we hate."

George made a face. "Ugh, of course mate."

"Arthur! I'm home!" Molly called as she emerged into her home with a bright smile. She was holding several shopping bags. "And I brought gifts!" She called. She checked the clock... And her smile grew as she saw that there was nobody there but her husband. She headed upstairs.

"And a few gifts for you, too~," with a bit of a sultry tone. She looked in the family mirror and posed a bit. The last few weeks had been good to her-These Muggle workout tapes werefantastic! She looked and felt years younger! She'd even gotten some looks from a few of Ron's school friends in the Alley this morning!

Frankly, Narcissa was right. If Molly was to lead in society, she needed to look the part.

"Wait, who are you?" Her mirror self asked. Her eyes widened. "Molly! You look great!"

"Thank you dear," Molly said with a bright smile. "And I'm sure Arthur will agree." She sighed as she set her bags down by the hallway closet. She really had neglected her poor husband lately... Well! Her trimmer look would be a nice way to make things up to him.

"Arthur? Arthur!" She called as she made it to their room. She burst in and beamed. "We're going to enjoy... Ourselves... A lot?"

Arthur was sitting on the bed with a tall, rumpled suit-wearing blonde man. They were poring over one of those Muggle laptops.

"We need to increase the gear size here," the man said. Arthur frowned.

"Are you sure? That wouldn't be too cumbersome, would it?"

"Oh no, trust me!" The blonde man said cheerfully. "I worked on a dam before! Well, I was there... When it was exploding... Entirely for unrelated reasons." The man coughed, and looked up. Arthur did so. Arthur's eyes widened, as did the young man's.

"Woah... Hello," the young man said with a bright smile. "I'm Castor Tonks, so nice to meet you-"

"Yes, likewise," Molly said, scowling a bit. "Arthur? Why is this young man in our bedroom? With you? Alone?"

"It... Er... Well..." Arthur tried to hide the laptop, but Molly summoned it to her with her wand. "Hey!"

"Wait. She's your wife?" Castor asked. Arthur stared at Molly as the redhead looked over the blueprints and designs on the screen. She scowled.

"Arthur! Are you and this... This young man doing... Muggle things in our bedroom?"

"I... Yes, yes she is," Arthur said slowly. Castor blinked, and quickly backed away with a cough.

"Ah... Hello Mrs Weasley," he said. Molly nodded.

"Hello... Arthur! Please explain yourself?" She said. Arthur gulped.

"Ah, well... You see, you did give me leave to work on Muggle things... And Castor here is a bit of an expert, and he has no place to go-"

"You want him to stay with us for this...?" She held up the laptop with an arched eyebrow. Arthur gulped.

"Well, I was... Going to ask you but uh..."

Molly smiled warmly. "Oh... I'm sure you can convince me, Arthur dear," she practically purred. Arthur blinked a few times, as though seeing his wife for the first time.

"... Castor? Uh... Please go see to... I mean, you can..." Arthur turned to Castor and shoved him out the open window. "Sorry!"

"NO PROB-GAH!" Castor shouted from outside. Arthur shut the window and turned to his wife. Molly smiled, and shut the door behind her.

"So... You were convincing me, yes?" Molly asked sweetly.

"Oh yes I am," Arthur said, before he pounced.

Castor stood up and grunted. He cracked his neck, and rolled his head on his shoulders. "Ugh... Well! Not the first time I've gotten shoved out a window for nookie," he said with a shrug. He walked up to the front of the house, sat in a chair, and sighed as he leaned back.

"... Wish he'd left me the laptop though..." He made a face. "Probably don't want to touch it too soon..."

Draco and Ginny walked up the path leading to the Burrow. Draco's reluctance was clear, but she was right behind him pushing him forward.

"I can walk on my own, you know." He said with a sniff of disdain.

"Clearly you need some prodding to get you moving in the first place." She said echoing his tone.

"Say… who's that?" Draco asked curiously, pointing to a suspicious figure who was getting back to his feet in the Weasley back garden.

Ginny gaped at the intruder and pulled her wand out. "You don't suppose it's another attack?"

"So soon? I can't imagine You-Know-Who choosing to strike so quickly after the last one."

"How did he get past the wards?" Ginny growled, aiming at the figure as they slowly approached.

There was no cover between them there was really very little in the way of cover. The figure clearly noticed their approach, but didn't seem perturbed. If anything he was waving cheerfully.

Draco frowned, his own wand out, ready to cover Ginny. Despite himself he was finding that to be a familiar role.

"What are you doing here?" Ginny called out as they finally got close enough to get a good look at him.

Draco blinked in confusion as how… familiar the new figure was. Features that he could swear he'd seen before in the mirror. Blonde hair, not so neatly styled, but in familiar shade. If he weren't so tanned and so much older, Draco could almost swear he was looking at himself. Or perhaps like a younger version of his father.

Ginny had spotted the resemblance as well and was shifting her gaze back and forth between Draco and the… admittedly very handsome young man in the rumpled suit and tie. His sleeves were rolled up sloppily, showing he didn't seem averse to hard work and she found herself noting the hard lines of muscle showing on those bared forearms.

For a brief irrational moment, Ginny wondered if this were actually a time-traveling Draco comes back from the future to offer advice and wisdom to his younger self… and possibly seduce her in the bargain. She gave a happy little shudder at that thought.

"Oh, hi!" He called, waving to them again. "I just got tossed out of the window by Arthur."

"I knew it," Draco snarled, raising his wand to fire, despite noting that the intruder wasn't holding a wand at all.

"You knew he'd been tossed out the window by my father?" Ginny asked in confusion, turning to Draco.

"No, I mean, I knew he was an intruder!" He sputtered, glancing over at her.

"Well, actually, I was invited." The stranger continued.

"If you were invited then why did you get tossed out the window?" Draco asked suspiciously.

"Because this really gorgeous woman showed up clearly intending to seduce him." He replied.

Ginny raised her wand menacingly, "A what?!"

"Said her name was Molly!" The stranger replied, raising his hands up placatingly, "I'm guessing that's your mom? She said she was married to him!"

Draco blinked. He turned to Ginny and said, "No offense, Weasley, but from what I've seen of your mother, she's sort of… salt of the earth, solid no-nonsense woman. But not what I'd call 'gorgeous'."

The stranger made a scoffing noise. "You've got awfully high standards there, friend."

Draco's eyes narrowed, "I'm no friend of yours, my good fellow," He said in tones that clearly indicated he didn't really think the other fellow was all that good a fellow after all.

"My mother's a-" Ginny began to say, fully intending to defend her mother's looks, but was interrupted as the upstairs window was thrown open and a vision of loveliness looked out.

She was redheaded, clearly a Weasley. She was a buxom, solidly built woman with all the features Draco recognized as belonging to the Weasley matriarch, but sharpened somehow. More refined. More… feminine. Her hair was a wild, unkempt main around her and there was a glow to her features… the look of someone who had just been recently engaged in some heavy exercise. She had an old terrycloth robe wrapped around her. She panted breathlessly as she spoke, "Hello, down there!"

"Hello, Mrs. Weasley!" The stranger called up, waving to her cheerfully.

Draco blinked and tried to figure out if the somewhat dumpy figured woman he recalled from many a time at Platform 9 ¾ had somehow been replaced. Although if that actually WAS Ginny's mother for real… he glanced over to Ginny and contemplated that the ability to age gracefully did tend to be inherited.

"I… that is… Arthur… you see… he… um… he wanted to apologize. About the… well… you know."

"Think nothing of it, Mrs. Weasley! I've been thrown out of higher windows than yours." He called back.

"Oh, Ginny, dear. Welcome home." Molly continued to seem to have trouble catching her breath.

"Hello, mum." Ginny called back with some difficulty. After all… she really hadn't been spending as much time at home as she should have. How her mother looked was… a bit of a surprise. "Um…"

"Oh, and I see you've brought a guest!" Molly said, seeming to finally catch her breath.

"Er… yes, ma'am." Draco replied earnestly. "I… don't mean to intrude."

"Not at all, not at all." Molly said dismissively. She turned her attention to Ginny, "Do be a dear and could you help Castor over there get settled into the twins' old room? Your father's putting him up for a little bit since he's… how did you put it, dear?"

"Between situations." Castor called back with a cheeky smile.

"That… and it looks like he's helping your father design some muggle thing." Her eyes fluttered happily, "I'm in a mood to indulge him a little."

"I was actually going to ask…" Ginny said, then glanced at Draco.

Molly's eyes widened and a lazy smile stole over her features, "Oh. Were you going to ask us to put young Mister Malfoy up for a bit?"

"Uh… you know him, mum?" Ginny asked in confusion.

"Of course, I recognize him, dear." Molly called down. "His mother and I have been getting along quite well recently." She made a dismissive gesture, "Treat our house as you would your own, dear." She giggled, "Why, you're practically family!"

Draco blinked in confusion at that, then leaned over to Ginny and murmured. "Has someone used a Confundus on your mother?"

Ginny made a disgusted expression. "No. She's always like this when she's had some 'quality time'."

"She's very… mellow," Draco murmured.

"... and about to spill out of that robe." Castor murmured. This earned him a slap on the shoulder from Ginny.

Molly gave another lazy smile, "In any case, I think your father's just about back up and about… ah…"

Ginny winced, "Why don't I get dinner started. You and… ah… just… take your time and make sure to keep the sound-proofing charms are up and running."

"Thank you, dear heart." Molly practically sang. "Don't expect your father and I down until at least tomorrow morning. Late tomorrow morning."

Ginny made another disgusted face and grabbed Draco by the hand, "Come on in then."

Castor followed, hands in his pockets and said idly, "I just think it's really cool that a couple their age are still so into each other."

"Stop. Talking. Right. Now." Ginny ground out.

Draco was not going to admit out loud that he was actually glad for his current circumstances.

Alright, SOME of his current circumstances. Specifically the bit which involved Ginny Weasley cooking for him.

When he'd been staying with Snape, being a pair of bachelors with little real cooking experience and no inclination for actually preparing meals, most of their meals at Spinner's end had been take-away or occasionally Snape would arrange for a Hogwarts elf to drop off something tastier and more substantial. Draco really had gotten used to elf cooking, since that was what he had at home as well. His mother was… decidedly undomestic.

Ginny on the other hand, knew her way around a kitchen and no doubt due to her mother's influence seemed to consider a three-course meal to be a 'small snack'.

He was not going to admit to himself that she looked very attractive in an apron.

Draco did notice that her cooking was good, even as he ate morosely. This was the closest thing to a bright spot for him this day. At least he was eating well. And would have a place to stay… such as it was.

The other Weasley guest, Castor Tonks tucked into his portion of Weasley prepared food with gusto. "This is extremely good, Ginny." He glanced over at Draco, "You're a lucky fellow." He waggled his eyebrows.

Ginny winced, seeing Draco's expression darken and the younger boy glower at the man.

"If I were lucky, I wouldn't be-" He choked off the rest of what he was going to say as Ginny plopped some more food in front of him.

"Eat. You'll feel better." Ginny said firmly.

"I'm not like your brother, Weasley! Not every problem is solved with more food!" He growled at her.

She smirked, "Well, our particular problem would have been solved if we did have food."

"Damned potato thieves," Draco snarled and dug into the sausages that Ginny had made him.

"Potato thieving?" Castor glanced back and forth between them in confusion, "What problem?"

"The Death Eaters destroyed my factory, my godfather, who was the so-called 'legal adult' on the paperwork prevented us from getting it repaired just so he could cash in on the 'inch-sewer-ants' and on top of that the Ministry is seizing what's left of the company assets and 'nationalizing' them!" Draco growled, holding up the ministry scroll and waving it around angrily.

"Practically the only thing we had left after the giant inferi head smashed into the factory were the potatoes." Ginny explained breezily as she brought more food to the table.

Castor meanwhile had accepted the scroll from Draco and seemed to be reading it intently. "Is Snape the Godfather you were talking about?"

"Yes?" Draco blinked in surprise.

"Well, that explains it. They didn't exactly seize your things. It looks like since he's named on the paperwork, he signed it over to the ministry." Castor murmured.

"I don't think I burned down enough of his things." Draco sighed.

Ginny looked thoughtful, "So he ended up with muggle money from the factory being wrecked and this deal gets him Galleons, I imagine?"

Draco threw his hands up in exasperation, "I know Godf- Snape would want the money, but why would the Ministry even want my potatoes?! It makes no sense that they would try to nationalize two tons worth of potatoes JUST for some sort of 'strategic reserve'. That's barely enough to feed Diagon a couple a meal or two. It can't possibly be worth that much!"

"Hey… did you have any employment contracts drawn up?" Castor asked suddenly, looking up from the scroll.

Ginny shook her head, "Most of the workers were day laborers for the most part. They worked, we paid them in food."

Draco blinked as a thought struck him, "But the security personnel would have needed them."

Ginny and Draco stared at one another as the same thought penetrated.

Castor nodded, "I don't think it was the potatoes they were after, if I read this right. They were expecting 'all assets'. That would include-"

"Contracts of employment," Ginny concluded.

"They wanted the ex-Aurors." Draco nodded. "And Snape, who handed the company over didn't know enough about how we were running things to know that they weren't under contract. No one was."

"The Ministry must have assumed that we had them signed up with us and were claiming control of the company to get control of them." Ginny replied.

Draco was already on his feet and pacing, thinking furiously. "They need those people. They're still trying to maintain the embargo despite it not working… the Auror corps is gutted." He grinned at Ginny, "Most of the senior and experienced Aurors are already with us. All they have left are the rookies and the old hands who are too deeply entrenched and lazy to protest when the Ministry stopped being able to pay them properly."

"How were they planning on seizing our assets when they didn't have anyone to do it?" Ginny chuckled. "They were planning on having our own people do it. The potatoes are just gravy."

"Mmm… speaking of gravy, this is really good." Castor said to Ginny with a disarmingly charming smile. Ginny blushed slightly and wondered idly if Draco really would look that good when he got to that age.

Draco was too distracted by his pacing to notice. "But we didn't sign them with the company did we?" He asked Ginny sharply. "We were going to sign them up once the attack finished, but the head took out the factory and your office before we were able to, right?"

Ginny grinned, "Yes. We were able to hand out the pay vouchers. That money's in Gringotts and was already considered 'spent', so the Ministry won't be able to touch it, since it no longer belongs to the company. Our employees weren't 'company assets' on any books, though. We never had a chance to update them."

"Merlin help the Ministry if they tried to force the Goblins to hand over money that they're not entitled to to try and grab the ex-Aurors then. They'd have another Rebellion." Draco laughed. "And with no Aurors, they'd be butchered."

Castor watched in fascination as the two teens bounced off one another. "So… these Aurors… ex-Aurors… they didn't work for the company?"

"No. Which means the seizure of the company assets never affected them." Ginny said thoughtfully. "If anything, Smith, who was leading them, pretty much just had a personal verbal contract with Draco."

Draco nodded sharply as he considered possibilities. "Then the Ministry gets nothing… and now we have something they want."

Ginny frowned, "Do we? I mean… maybe they weren't working for the company, but they've got no loyalty towards us."

"We're more trustworthy than the Ministry at this point and they've taken my money." Draco sniffed, "It was clearly an agreement between gentlemen."

Ginny rolled her eyes.

Castor, who was still watching suddenly asked, "So what now?"

Draco grinned. "Weasley, we need to go. We have work to do."

"My Lord, may I speak with you?"

Voldemort, the Dark Lord, He Who Must Not Be Named, the most feared wizard in all of magic Britain, looked up from the Yu Gi Oh cards he had been studying to gaze curiously at Alfred. The request had been made in an oddly deferential tone for the young squib.

"Speak, Loremaster."

"My Lord…", Alfred paused and seemed to be stealing himself. "My Lord, an opportunity has presented itself. However, it touches upon a subject you are known to find distasteful." At this the conversations of the Death Eaters in the room seemed to catch for a moment before continuing, though only a fool could fail to notice the way they were not-so-secretly focused on their Lord and his new Loremaster.

Seeing no immediate reaction from Voldemort, Alfred continued. "Given the continuing impact on our operations that the embargo is having, I got together with a few other people and started looking at what resources we could muster in the Muggle world."

Voldemort's eyes narrowed very slightly at that. Inwardly however, he was amused at Snape's look of consternation. Crabbe's glare at the Loremaster was a surprise though, he'd have to get the details later.

Seeing no further reaction on the Dark Lord's part, Alfred pushed on. "We've actually found that we're better off than I'd thought, and by accident discovered a possible avenue to get at Potter from an unexpected direction."

"Oh?" Voldemort said with interest in his voice, "I'm hardly likely to find any means of getting to Potter distasteful, Loremaster."

"Thomas Riddle Senior."

Instantly, all sound and motion in the room ceased - as though name itself were some kind of spell. A few of Alfred's allies were staring at him in shock, Lucius and Snape looked as if they were getting ready to run, and the rest were simply frozen in place.

Rage filled Voldemort, and his wand snapped into his hand as rose to...but then he stopped, as Alfred just stood there, meeting his gaze, and holding out a folder filled with papers. Forcing down his anger, Voldemort reminded himself of why Alfred was his Loremaster - he got shit done. Still, it took a deliberate effort not to Cruciatus the boy where he stood.

"And what," he said, twitching his wand towards the folder, his voice promising pain, "is that?"

"A file on a company called Pulmonata Holdings," Alfred replies. Taking a deep breath, he explains, "After so many years most of the Riddle estate is, well, gone." Alfred shrugs, "Inherited by some distant cousins whose heirs have since lost it, seized for payment of debts, the usual sort of thing. According to our lawyers, a seat on the board of Pulmonata Holdings," he indicates the file, "is the only piece of the Riddle estate we think a 'rediscovered heir' could claim, largely due to some almost medieval terms in its charter."

"And exactly why would I want to?" Everyone in the room started to relax a bit as the threat of immediate death seemed to ebb. "What could this possibly have to do with Potter?"

A faint smile appeared on Alfred's face as he opens the file and slides a piece of paper out. "Please note the name highlighted on this list of junior partners."

Looking at the name, Voldemort's brow furrows for a moment, then recognition dawned and he almost seemed to stop breathing.

"Are you certain of this, boy?"

"It will likely require some magic to get the paperwork through, and probably some messing with people's heads, but nothing noticeable if we're careful." Alfred pulls out some other papers, "You won't have control of the company, just a seat on the board, however..."

"No." Shaking his head Voldemort sits back down. "It would be a good means to get close, but loathe as I am to admit it the boy's mother truly was a genius. The ward she placed over them means I cannot harm any member of her family."

"You wouldn't need to inflict any harm to cause problems. We can easily work it so that he is your direct subordinate," Alfred noted. And over his shoulder Voldemort could see that Snape was having to try very hard to keep a straight face. He had mentioned at one point having met the man and his wife once, hadn't he?

"Well now," finally a smile flickers over the Dark Lord's face, "that does have possibilities for amusement."

Vernon Dursley was in a bad mood.

Normally, Dursley was actually quite happy to be at work. After all, through backstabbing, sucking up to his superiors, and (as loathe as all who worked with him were willing to admit) actually being quite good at his job, he had achieved a position that allowed him to be a truly petty tyrant overseeing a large number people while minimizing the number of people he had to defer to. It was a situation that filled his shriveled little soul with joy.

Today however the number of people he had to defer to had increased by one.

It wasn't even a proper 'someone' he thought furiously to himself. Just some nobody who'd managed to sneak his way onto the Board because he was related to one of the founders. And not even properly related! According to rumors he'd been placed in a orphanage after his mother had been thrown out!

At least the bastard's mother had had the good grace to die rather than becoming a burden upon proper society. This 'Thomas Riddle' had gone on to become a lazy, good-for-nothing layabout, running around committing crimes and sucking up the tax money of decent citizens, just like all orphans were!

And now this parasite sucking up the money liberals kept throwing away had managed to con his way onto the Board! Managing to achieve through a technicality and outright theft a position over him, Vernon Dursley! A man who had achieved everything in his life through hard work and proper conduct!

"Mister Dursley?"

His thoughts derailed before they could move from exclamation points to all-caps, Dursley looked up into the face of the new partner's personal assistant. A very young man, Vernon noted distastefully, far too young for his position and likely a relative...or perhaps the new partner was some kind of pervert?

"Mr. Dursl…?"

"Yes. yes. I'm not deaf boy." He glared at the young man, "Is it finally my turn?"

"I do apologize for the wait, Mr. Dursley," a cleaned up Alfred said with little attempt at sincerity. "Mr. Riddle is trying to meet with all his subordinates and get up to speed on how the company functions." Vernon did not fail to note the slight emphasis placed on the word 'subordinate', "Please go on in."

Biting down on his anger, composing his face into the utterly insincere expression of deference that he wore whenever dealing with a superior, Vernon entered the office, leaving Alfred seemingly alone in the waiting area.

"What. An. Ass." Setting down behind the desk, Alfred opens the Private Investigator's report on the Dursley's for the nth time, then addresses the empty air, "How the hell is this Potter kid not a neurotic mess?"

"Reading between the lines of what Severus and my son tell me, I rather suspect he is." Narcissa replies, as she pushes her invisibility cloak off her shoulders. "By Merlin, I can honestly say I've never met anyone for whom the term 'muggle' is more richly deserved. Insufficient, even."

Looking at each other, both squib and Death Eater share a rare smile. "Wouldn't you like to be in there to see this?"

"Hell yes."

The first thing Vernon noticed was the smell, a strange mixture of burning herbs and reptile. He wondered for a moment if there were something wrong with the plumbing, but then his attention was taken by the figure sitting behind the desk.

Tall, and he noted with grudging approval, well dressed. Glancing at the rest of the office Vernon saw that it was well appointed with candles and...No...That's wrong.

With dawning horror, Vernon gapped at the office. It's not that anything changed, it's more that suddenly he realized that there was something wrong with candles in sconces, and a desk that looked more like an altar, and…"

"Vernon Dursley," hissed the robed man rising from behind the desk. "I must confess, I've been looking more and more forward to this meeting."

The man behind the desk was suddenly taller, paler, with disturbingly smooth skin and a face that looked more snakelike than human. In shock, Vernon realized what he was facing.

"You...You're a bloody wizard!" He shouted, his anger causing him to not notice the sound of slithering behind him.

"Indeed, I am Lord Voldemort, and you…"

"I don't care who you are!" Vernon interrupted furiously. "What are you doing here? Your kind are supposed to stay away from decent people! It's the law!"

"Law?" For a moment, Voldemort had been taken aback at being interrupted, but with this pronouncement by the fat little man in front of him became amused. "Really?"

Something about the way the wizard in front of him hissed those last two words finally caused the lizard part of Vernon's brain kick into high gear and remind the rest of him that he was in a room with a wizard, or rather, that he was alone in a room with a wizard. A terrifying wizard who was looking at him with a look of mingled loathing, utter contempt, and anticipation.

Spinning, Vernon attempted to get to the door but he tripped, falling to the floor. Momentarily stunned, he rolled over and tried to scramble away - but his legs seem tangled in something. Then he saw what his legs were tangled in.

A snake. The biggest snake Vernon Dursley had ever seen, ever imagined, had wrapped itself around his legs, and was continuing to entwine itself higher and higher around his body. At this point, Vernon's body attempted to run, to curl up into a ball, to scream, to call for help, to throw up, to void it's bowels, to gibber in terror - but since doing all these things at once is impossible, his body simply locked up, becoming stiff as a plank.

At least for a moment, because looking down at him Voldemort hissed, "Now, now, be careful Nagini." A giggle starts creeping into the Dark Lord's voice, "Remember, we cannot harm our employee after all."

Nagini hisses in reply as she continues to wrap herself around the frozen muggle. Nodding happily at her, Voldemort returns his attention to Dursley. "Now then, Vernon...I can call you Vernon, can't I? Good. As you were thinking outside - Oh, has your nephew mentioned that wizards. Can. Read. Minds?" This last bit of information is imparted with a snarl as Voldemort's face twists in rage, but then he composes himself.

"But I digress." Leaning down, Voldemort puts his face near Vernon's. "Vernon, as you were thinking, a thieving orphan like me has little knowledge of how a 'Holding Company' operates and I require someone to teach me. Congratulations, I have chosen you to fulfill this important role." Reaching out, Voldemort traced a finger down Vernon's face, by now the only part of him not entwined in Nagini's coils, "This, of course, means we will be working closely together for quite some time."

Vernon's body finally unlocked a bit and he….

Out in the waiting area, Albert handed Narcissa a cup of coffee, before he paused. There was no sound, the silencing charms on the office walls precluded that, but there was a vibration. As if there had been a high-pitched, girlish scream of such volume that it rattled the walls.

"No harm?" Alfred said with a smile and a slight questioning tone.

"No harm at all," replies a smirking Narcissa, sipping her coffee.

"So Ron," Harry began slowly as his best friend sat in the chair next to his bed in the Hospital Wing, "how's married life?"

Ron had been reading Harry the Quidditch scores for the Chudley Cannons, and in an effort to not make himself any more depressed Harry decided he wanted to change the subject. Ron looked a bit disappointed at not being able to talk sports, but that faded into a dreamy smile as he thought about his wife.

"She's... Brilliant Harry," Ron said happily. "I mean, she actually listens and when we talk we really... Really talk, ya know? Like, she knows how I feel without me saying anything!"

Harry nodded with a smile. "I'm glad to hear it... I mean, Luna's something else but I like her a lot."

Ron gave him a glare. "Like her... How much?"

Harry blinked. He would have held his hands up but Madam Prompfrey had told him motor control would return to him soon, so he decided not to risk her wrath. "Er... As a friend? And kind of sister-in-law, I guess?"

Ron relaxed a bit, and smiled. "Good! I mean... Er... Not that I'm jealous or anything!"

"I didn't say you were," Harry said slowly. Ron scowled.

"What, you think I'm worried about you stealing my wife?"

"I'm not worried about that either, Ron!" Harry insisted. Ron held a hand over his face and groaned.

"I... Yeah, sorry mate," Ron said. "I just... Neville admitted he fancied Luna."

"Ah," Harry said, nodding. "And he... Admitted it?"

"He was jealous of me," Ron said, blinking a few times. "I mean, that's never happened before!" He looked over at Harry with a shrug. "I mean, really! Usually it's... It's me who is the jealous one."

"That you admit that means Luna's clearly a miracle worker," Harry joked. Ron scowled.

"Oi! Besides, you're one to talk! A harem of witches? Why shouldn't I be worried about you snapping her up?"

"Because I'm your best friend? And besides, it isn't all roses," Harry said. "I mean, the way they... They fight over me." He shook his head. "And you two love each other. Why would I spoil that?"

Ron blushed brilliantly. "Er... Well... We kind of..."

Hermione walked in at that moment, and Ron seized upon the opportunity to divert attention from his embarrassment. "Hermione! You're looking great!"

"You too Ron," Hermione said with a smile. She shook her head. "Honestly though, what were you thinking? Pulling out a four century old mechanized weapon like that?"

Ron grinned. "Did your research on it, didn't you?"

Hermione flushed. "Shut up!" She hissed. "It was never relevant to any of our classes until now, nor our lives!"

"Lay off her Mister Lovegood," Harry said. Ron gave him a scowl, but he did get Hermione to laugh and that was a nice tradeoff.

"It doesn't work that way!" Ron protested.

Hermione sat on the other side of Harry's bed, sighing as she rested a hand over his. "Seriously though, I am glad you're both all right," she said. She shook her head. "That was... Terrifying. How long will it take for you to recover?" She asked Harry. Ron was rubbing his recently healed hand with a bit of a grimace. Harry sighed.

"Looks like I'm stuck here for a few weeks," he said. Ron huffed.

"Weeks?! That's bollocks!" Ron smiled cheerfully. "On the other hand, it does get us all away from the craziness outside for a while... I mean, giant Inferi, Dementor attacks, Malfoy running a potato crisp factory... What next?"

"Who knows?" Harry suggested. "Maybe we got the craziness of this year out of the way early so the rest of the time will be quiet and boring. You've gotta admit, that has possibilities."

"There is that," Ron admitted. He grinned. "Yeah! This won't be so bad!"

"Potter?" Pansy's voice floated through the door to the Hospital Wing. "I've been employed as a nurse for you, tell me..." And here she entered in a skimpy nurse's costume with bare garters and stockings underneath a very, very tiny skirt. She cocked the little nurse's hat on her head with a sexy smirk. "How is this uniform?"

Ron stared in disbelief. He looked at Harry. His best friend's face was bright red. Hermione, on the other hand, was just as red... But the look on her face was distinctly not disbelief.

"... You jinxed us, Ron," snarled Hermione.

And thus, the story continues… Maybe a bit disorganized and confused in some sports, but what do you expect from a Round Robin?