Disclaimer: I own nothing and am making no product. I did the beta work myself here as the concept did not interest my usual betas. Any mistakes are, annoyingly, my own.
Limpiezia de Sangre
Harry Potter was going to win the Trizwizard Tournament.
He almost couldn't believe it as he stared at the Triwizard cup. Earlier in the year he'd been convinced that this tournament was going to kill him, but now he was standing in a small circular cove in what he could only presume was the middle of the hedge maze. He looked around the alcove for a moment. There were three entrances, excluding the one he and Cedric had burst through. And they all seemed to be shifting every so often as the maze transformed around them.
Cedric Diggory lay against the pedestal, panting with exhaustion. He'd collapsed almost as soon as they'd made it into the small alcove that held the cup. Harry stared down at the older Hufflepuff, not feeling quite right about just grabbing the cup, as Diggory had beaten him, by a step, into the alcove. But he'd barely been able to stand at that point.
"Take the bloody cup already," Cedric coughed, his grey eyes staring up at Harry. His wand was still in his right hand. The older boy shifted against the pedestal but made no effort to rise.
"It doesn't feel right," Harry said, standing before it, examining it. "I wouldn't be standing here if you hadn't grabbed me. And you beat me into the alcove."
"Stop being a git, Harry," Cedric replied. And he coughed again, some blood coming up. "I can't even stand up. I have no idea what Krum did to me but it feels like I'm burning apart inside. Just take the cup so this is over."
"There has to be something I can do to help!" Harry said. He rushed to Cedric's side and leveled his wand on the other boy, trying to think of any restorative spell he could come up with. Cedric's expression changed from a passive calm to general fury.
"Just take the cup!" He yelled. He paused for a moment before barely managing to raise his wand toward the sky before sparks shot upward. Harry doubted that they cleared the top of the hedge-maze. But he suspected the spectators had some way of seeing them and that the gesture wasn't lost on the crowd. Cedric was taking himself out of the competition.
Harry stood. He understood the significance of the Hufflepuff's gesture. He didn't particularly agree with it. He'd never quite really thought about what it would mean to win the Triwizard Tournament. But he supposed that with Krum out, Fleur's pained scream from earlier in the task, and Cedric's forfeit; he just had by default. He made a face at the cup before he grabbed one handle casually.
The pull in his stomach was the first sign that it was more than it appeared. But he assumed it was just pulling him out of the maze, to somewhere else on the Hogwarts grounds. He fell over once he arrived, dropping the cup and his wand and looking around.
He was nearly one-hundred percent sure that Hogwarts didn't have a graveyard. But the castle always had managed to surprise him. Of course, he couldn't see the castle anywhere, which was impossible from the majority of the grounds. He moved to pick up his wand but something hit him and he froze. He couldn't do much more than shift his eyeballs around to try to survey the area. An unseen force lifted him and affixed him to one of the statues in the graveyard.
Harry struggled against the magic. He tried to fight it. But he was too tired from the third task to put up any real resistance. Moments later he saw a small blonde man skitter through the graveyard. A large snake followed him, a few paces behind, moving much more deliberately. At first, Harry suspected the snake was chasing the man. But when the man stopped and placed down a boiling cauldron and a small parcel Harry couldn't identify, the snake stopped as well, waiting a few feet behind him.
Harry recognized the man almost immediately. Peter Pettigrew, or Wormtail, the very same man who had betrayed his parents to Lord Voldemort. Pettigrew stared at the snake for a moment before focusing on the cauldron. He unwrapped the parcel next to the cauldron and fidgeted with the contents. Harry saw it contained a tiny, almost ethereal creature, possibly no bigger than his hand. It didn't look human, but it certainly was more humanoid than anything else he could think of. A tiny hand clutched a silver tiara with a smattering of blue gemstones on the front. There was also a small white bone and a plain goblet.
Pettigrew grabbed the bone first and threw it into the boiling cauldron. It contained a thick, bubbling liquid Harry couldn't identify and it seemed to absorb the bone without anything changing. Pettigrew then drew a silver knife from his robes and, after taking one deep breath, cut off his own left hand so it fell into the cauldron below. Pettigrew then grabbed the goblet and ran with it and the knife both in his right hand over toward Harry.
He slashed the knife across Harry's wrist, sending a burning jolt of pain through Harry's arm. But the magic kept him bound in place, he couldn't even scream to attempt some relief. Wormtail dropped the knife to the ground below and held the goblet under the flowing blood. After a few moments he seemed satisfied and returned to the cauldron, adding the blood to the mixture. As soon as the thick, red liquid joined the contents, the cauldron stopped bubbling and became incredibly calm.
Pettigrew picked up the creature, which somehow managed to keep a grip on the silver tiara, and dropped it into the cauldron. As soon as the monster impacted on the liquid, Harry's head exploded.
He'd never felt quite as much pain from his lightning bolt scar before. It immediately overwhelmed the pain in his still bleeding wrist, and it was enough to blind him for a few moments. And once his vision returned he could still see spots. He felt like he should be gasping for air, but the spell on him barely let him breath as was. He was starting to feel a little bit faint and he concentrated on staying focused on everything that was going on around him in the graveyard.
His eyes turned to the cauldron, where Pettigrew had dropped the creature. It bubbled violently for a few moments, and then his greatest fear was realized. The Dark Lord that he'd stopped as a baby rose out of the cauldron, and she was naked. Harry couldn't help but stare. His mind raced. Lord Voldemort was a woman? Why had no one ever told him that detail? Granted, most people just referred to him, he paused and changed the pronoun in his head, referred to her, as 'You Know Who' or 'The One We Don't Speak Of' or something along those lines. He'd always just assumed, given the moniker of lord, that the Dark Lord was male.
He thought back to his first year at school, focusing his memories on the back of Professor Quirrell's head. Whatever had possessed his first Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher had looked completely androgynous. He couldn't give it any sort of gender, as it had been little more than eyes nose and mouth. And he did not remember the features readily enough to compare it to anything. All and all it had simply looked like an abomination.
And what of second year? The ghost from the diary that had controlled the basilisk had been male. But, Harry frowned at the memory. It had looked more like him than anything. Perhaps it just projected itself as an image from his mind, and not the actual Dark Lord.
But when he'd been faced with a dementor, the voice he'd heard had been distinctly male. Except, he thought wryly, he couldn't have heard that voice. Had he just created a voice for a Dark Lord? He'd only been one at the time, there was no way he actually remembered that evening. It was just a culmination created from his biggest fear. His biggest fear that was now, once again, completely alive.
She stepped daintily out of the iron bowl, planting her feet on the ground. She had dark hair that looked slightly lank as it fell to the middle of her back. In the pale moonlight graveyard Harry couldn't pick out a specific color for it.
Wormtail immediately offered her a wand from in his robes. She took it in a slow motion, as if she was getting used to having functional arms. She rolled her neck and shoulders and moved toward the parcel, then turned her gaze to Wormtail.
"Clothing," she ordered. The one single word stung Harry's scar as well. For a moment, he thought she felt it too, as her gaze shifted over to the statue he was bound against. But then she looked back at Womrtail as he produced another package from his robes, wincing as he tried to use two hands, only to realize the second wasn't there. She used magic to levitate it away from him and scoffed at the contents. Harry stared at the two of them. Voldemort was thin, and around the same height as Wormtail. Standing naked in the graveyard she did not look menacing.
"Mistress-," Wormtail started.
"Master," Voldemort snapped, and Wormtail took a step backward and promptly shut his mouth. This word did not send a new pain through Harry's scar. She shredded the clothing with a flick of the wand and started to transfigure pieces of it into more acceptable attire. Eventually she turned it into what Harry expected would have been a common cocktail dress in perhaps the late forties. It was entirely black had long sleeves and seemed to tie around her neck and the ruffled skirt fell to her ankles.
She transfigured another piece of the clothing she'd seemed unworthy from Wormtail into shoes. Boots, Harry figured, would be more accurate. They were short and black leather and had a buckle on one side and a slight heel to them. Harry's first thought was riding boots. She lifted one leg up and the boot slid onto her foot of its own volition. She repeated the process with the other one and then bounced lightly on her toes as if testing the spells that created the clothing.
"Master," Wormtail had worked up the courage to talk again. Voldemort paid next to no attention, a nearly imperceptible tilt of her head the only indications he heard him. "May I inquire what was wrong with the garments I brought, so as to better serve you next time?"
To Harry's surprise, Lord Voldemort laughed. She had a high, tinkling laugh that sounded joyous. The laugh caused her pale lips to curve into a smile and the affect wasn't displeasing in profile. He'd always pictured the Dark Lord as a hideous abomination. But the woman standing there was nothing but. She wouldn't win any contests for her looks, he thought. But she was far from a hag. She had what he could best describe as a classically proportioned face and her long dark hair that fell down her back and complimented her dark eyes.
She continued transfiguring clothing before she responded. She finished up by creating a long, black, hooded cloak that she deposited over one of the nearby gravestones rather than putting on.
"If you think I would let you dress me, Wormtail, you're a bigger fool than I thought. I would prefer to not look like a rat," her tone was completely impassive. She waved her wand at a gravestone which turned into a mirror. She looked in it for a moment before raising a hand to her hair. She grabbed a bunch of it in her hand and brought it to her face and sniffed once, before making a face and letting it down.
She pointed her wand at her own head and cast something Harry didn't recognize. She used nonverbal magic for every spell she'd used so far. After she finished the spell she brought her hair back to her nose. She made another disgusted face before dropping her hair once more. Moments later her hair seemed to braid itself into an intricate bun.
"My Lord," Wormtail said again, this time offering up his hobbled stump of a hand. Voldemort stared appraisingly at it, before turning back to the mirror, undoing the spell on the gravestone with a flick of her wrist.
"You made the potion too young," she said, ignoring the former marauder with her. "I'm not near my prime. I look barely older than twenty-five."
"I followed your instructions to the letter!" Wormtail argued, looking alarmed.
"I doubt that," Voldemort responded.
"Master, please," Wormtail begged once more, again holding up his stumped hand.
"What do you expect me to do with that?" She asked, sounding annoyed.
"You promised..." Wormtail said.
"That I would heal any injury you sustained yes. You; however, did not need to cut off your entire hand. Your smallest finger would have more than sufficed. I do not reward stupidity, Wormtail. You even removed part of your Mark. The summoning charm on it will not function now," She turned her attention away from him, her eyes lingering on Harry.
"Master," Womrtail begged. She flicked her wand at him, without turning her gaze to him, and stepped toward Harry. Harry watched as Wormtail flew backwards toward the gravestones, and he immediately smelled charred flesh. Voldemort had obviously thought the best way to fix Wormtail's wound had been to solder it shut. Peter Pettigrew shrieked in pain as he landed on the relatively soft ground.
The snake slithered over, putting its body between Voldemort and Wormtail. Voldemort didn't say anything to Harry, perhaps knowing that he couldn't respond because of the body bind.
Instead she reached up and brushed the back of one of her knuckles against his shin, which was bleeding from a cut he'd suffered in the maze that had ripped clean through his jeans. The contact caused his scar to throb, but it wasn't painful, merely uncomfortable, like a day-long headache pulsating directly beneath his scar. He noticed that the wound on his leg closed as she did.
"I can touch you," she said tonelessly and smiled at Harry. Her smile showed no teeth, merely the corners of her mouth pressed upward and displayed one dimple on her right cheek. It only lasted a few seconds before her face once again became passive. She let him down from the statue, standing him in front of her, and relaxed the body bind so he could move his head. His breathing immediately accelerated, making up for the lost oxygen.
"You," he gasped after a few moments. She ignored him, raising up the arm Wormtail had cut and examined it. She ran her thumb over the cut, holding her wand in the same hand as she did, and it closed.
"That imbecile would have let you bleed out," she scoffed. "Apparently I only warrant the incompetent Marauder." Harry clenched his teeth. He did not like that she knew his familial legacy.
"Don't you dare," he said. But she ignored him, instead leaning close to examine his scar. She was about his height, and her chest pressed against his as she examined him. He wanted desperately to run away from her. But that just caused him to breathe harder. And then he noticed the stench.
"Quiet," she said, as if his talking irritated her. Which he thought was odd, unless perhaps Wormtail's spell was weakening and she hadn't been the one to partially release him.
She smelled like rot. That was the best way he could describe it. It was something like a decaying dementor robe mixed with compost and a blast-ended skrewt. He gagged immediately.
"What is that," he gagged again, unable to help himself, the force of his cough fighting the magic that held him in place, causing him to shift against her. She placed a hand on his shoulder, gripping it too tightly in an attempt to force him to be still, sending a modicum of pain through his arm.
"Just be glad you didn't have to bathe in it. Or drink it," she said, almost flippantly. Part of him wanted to laugh. He'd heard people talk about Voldemort's charisma, but he never expected humor. She still seemed fascinated by his scar though, and he wondered if she was even paying attention to her own words. She leaned in close, as if to smell it, and almost brushed her lips over his forehead.
"What are you doing?" he asked as she stopped examining his scar. She ignored him, looking instead toward the huddled mass of Wormtail, crying softly, and the snake that seemed like it wanted to eat the man.
"We have a dilemma, Harry Potter," she said softly, twirling her wand through her fingers.
"Oh yeah?" Harry said, as defiantly as he could muster. Again, Lord Voldemort smiled at him, a simple twitch of her lips upward, showing her one dimple.
"Yes," She said. "You see I had planned on summoning the Death Eaters. Although I must admit I am curious as to how many would actually show up as they did not seem particularly interested in helping me after that Halloween. Either way, I was going to kill you in front of them. To prove that you are indeed no match for me. Overly dramatic, I know. But sometimes, Harry Potter, one must put on a show."
"Erm," Was all Harry could think of in response. He noticed she was pacing back and forth in front of him. But it wasn't an agitated pacing. Instead it was more like she was just enjoying the movement. Her skirt fluttered around her every time she changed directions.
"But Wormtail, in his infinite wisdom, mutilated his mark. Which will negate its power. So now when I kill you there will always be a tinge of doubt as to whether or not I did it myself. I am sure I could stifle their doubt without much effort. But I would have preferred to not resort to that. But it is of no consequence now," Lord Voldemort explained.
"Why are you telling me this?" Harry asked and her dimple made another appearance. He was still struggling against the body bind and he would have sworn the spell was weakening, but he could not escape it.
"One must always be both willing and able to explain their actions, Harry Potter. Any action done without reason is done foolishly," she said, as if imparting great wisdom upon him. Her tone reminded him, almost sickeningly, of Professor McGonagall.
"So you can explain murdering my parents?" Harry spat. He hoped that if he kept her talking that the spell would break. He could see the Triwizard Cup not too far from him. He would be able to dive for it. If he could grab it, he knew, he could return to Hogwarts.
"We all make mistakes," she said tonelessly, turning away from him. She peered toward Wormtail. His simpering had stopped and Harry half suspected she was checking if he was alive. The snake slithered closer to him and poked him with its snout. He fidgeted agitatedly and the snake turned away, hissing quietly. But he barely noticed that thought as rage ran through Harry immediately. A mistake? She thought her actions were a mistake?
"A mistake!?" He yelled, his arms twitching against the magic that held him in place. He could feel the spell crumbling around him.
"Fainted," he heard as a whisper from near the snake. It barely registered to him that it was the snake that spoke. Voldemort nodded to the creature. At the same moment Harry felt the constraints of the spell fading away, he felt his muscles loosen, and he knew he was free.
"Yes," she said, turning back to face Harry. And her expression stopped him cold. Her lips were curved downward into a clearly practiced frown, and her dark eyes were alarmingly soft. And he got the distinct feeling that he had disappointed her. That she had expected more from him. That she assumed he would have been able to figure out this mistake himself, to work it out on his own. Deep down that thought disgusted him. But that wasn't where his mind immediately went.
Instead he wanted to figure it out. He wanted to prove that he could. To prove her wrong and get that look off of her face. He barely registered that he'd rather see the dimpled smile than the passive disappointment as his mind raced. It only took a few seconds. Of course she'd find it a mistake. It had killed her.
"Perhaps," she said after a moment of silence, pausing again to let the word linger. "Perhaps I can make it up to you."
"What, can you bring them back?" He scoffed. Her eyes twitched to her right hand, as if looking for something there. But then they rested back on him.
"Unfortunately I have not discovered a spell that can do that," she said, sounding actually disappointed. "But I have discovered far more magic than perhaps anyone alive."
"So?" Harry spat, again letting his annoyance bubble over. She gave no indication of annoyance at being interrupted.
"You are a talented and determined individual. The youngest Triwizard Champion is certainly an impressive accomplishment. There is plenty I would be able to teach you. Together we could accomplish much," she spoke slowly, keeping her eyes locked on him as she did. Harry was almost ashamed to admit that he considered the offer. It would not only keep him alive, but perhaps it would allow him to be able to find a way to kill her. But he knew he would never agree to it. And he did not think the offer was completely genuine.
"I would rather die than be branded a Death Eater," he said defiantly and that part was fully truthful. Again, she smiled, her eyes lighting up, almost admiringly.
"Such spirit. But you misunderstand my offer, Mister Potter. Death Eaters are minions. They're little more than tools. While I do think I am going to need to bolster their ranks at some point, I am far more interested in taking you on as a protégé. No branding involved," she explained calmly. As if to prove a point she tucked her wand into her bun above her left ear and held up her hands. She tugged each sleeve down a few inches and revealed the pale, unmarked, skin there. Moments later she reached for her wand again.
"I would never join you," Harry said. His brain screamed at him for not cursing her when she momentarily disarmed herself. But her actions somehow fascinated him. He wanted to just keep watching her. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he realized that so far, the only spell she'd cast on him herself, had been to heal his injuries.
"I think, Harry Potter, that you have already found some aspects of your education too easy. Do you find yourself bored in your classes, wondering what more magic can show you? I can help you discover powers you never dreamed of," she continued. Truth stung from her words. He did find some aspects of his classes tedious. Especially in Defense. Nothing had ever come hard. He'd often wondered why they weren't taught more complicated magic to use to defend themselves, or taught more about what they were defending from. But he did not allow himself to dwell on that.
"Never," Harry reaffirmed. Lord Voldemort just shrugged her shoulders.
"I suspected as much," she said, letting out an annoyed sigh as she leveled her wand on him. "Such a waste, young Harry Potter, of magical blood and talent. So be it. Avada Kedavra."
"Expelliarmus," Harry yelled, raising his wand as she cast her spell. And the two spells collided between them. Voldemort looked shocked by the development, her brows arching upwards. She pushed more magic into the spell, hoping to overpower the younger wizard.
But she didn't. No additional forced seemed to have any affect. After a moment she stopped trying to make her own spell stronger and simply observed, doing her best to not break the connection between them. She'd never experienced something like this. She'd never even heard of something like this. Everything she'd understood was that the stronger spell should rip right through the weaker one. And there were very few spells stronger than the killing curse.
She could see shades rising out of the tip of his wand, but she could not make out their forms aside from the fact that they were humanoid. They appeared to be talking to him. But she could not hear what they said.
Moments later the spirits turned toward her. They hesitated for just a moment before charging at her. She had to break the connection that had formed between their wands to slash at the spirits. She recognized them readily enough. The old caretaker of her father's estate where she'd hid these last few months. The ministry official Wormtail had abducted to, for lack of a better term, get some relief over the summer, and Lilly and James Potter. Each shade disappeared as soon as she cast a spell on it, vanishing in a puff of harmless smoke.
Once the smoke had gone, she noticed that Harry Potter, and the Triwizard cup, were gone. She cursed under her breath and looked around the graveyard. Her snake, Nagini, was still sniffing at Wormtail's unconscious form.
She pressed her lips together and looked back at where the Triwizard Cup had rested. That had been a careless mistake, to leave it lying around. She should have immediately destroyed it upon regaining a corporeal form. But she'd let amusement cloud her judgement. She blasted the ground where it had so recently been, but that didn't improve her mood.
She turned on her heel and walked over toward Wormtail's body. He was clutching the burned stump that until recently had been his left hand. But other than that he appeared to be in good enough condition to move.
Lord Voldemort pointed her wand at his head, figuring there was no reason that he needed to remember her failure, if he even caught most of it. She wiped his memories of the time in the Graveyard completely, and replaced them with a more muddled version. Here, he had lost control of the Body Bind almost as soon as he'd gained Harry Potter's blood, and the boy escaped during the distraction of her revival.
Once she was satisfied with the mind-magic she lowered her wand. Her transfigured dress had no pockets, so she took a moment to tuck it back behind her ear. Nagini circled protectively around her as she looked down toward the plump man.
She grabbed her wand and summoned the cloak she'd created earlier. She caught it with one hand, tucking her wand away with her other and wrapped it around her shoulders, it fell down nearly to the ground. She pulled the hood up over her head and turned her attention back to the former marauder.
"Wake up, Wormtail," she snapped. The man didn't move. Nagini hissed something like disapproval, muttering about how the man was useless, but she wasn't really interested in the snake's opinion at that moment, even if she agreed with it. She knew she couldn't leave him there. Ministry officials or Dumbledore, would show up as soon as the boy told them what happened. And she knew he would tell them everything.
So instead she kicked him. Well, at first she prodded him with her foot, twice. When that wasn't effective she planted her boot firmly in his stomach. She supposed she could have used magic to revive him. But that seemed like such a waste. And her frustrations were better channeled through her boot than her wand. She'd have probably wound up killing him had she resorted to magic.
Of course, the man may have already outlived his usefulness. But only time would tell there and it didn't seem prudent to kill her followers when at the moment she could only reasonably count on two of them.
"Oof," he gasped for air.
"Get up," she barked.
"Yes mistress," he said.
"Master!" she yelled. She reached up for her wand, intending to Crucio the command into him. But then she remembered she'd just erased his memory of the command and lowered her hand.
"Yes master," he cried immediately. "I am sorry master. I did not think to better secure the boy I..."
"Shut up, Wormtail," she responded quietly. "We well just have to rectify your mistakes as we go. Gather our things." She lowered herself next to the cauldron she'd emerged from as Wormtail started to gather up what few belongings were in the area. She picked up a burnt tiara and frowned at it, hating that she'd been required to destroy such a valuable relic. She stood and handed it to Wormtail.
Her servant seemed surprised, she'd never let him touch it before. He cradled it in his hand for a moment before dropping it into his napsack. She'd wondered if he'd keep it. If he'd figure out what it was. Wormtail didn't strike her as that intelligent. And she doubted it could increase his intelligence anymore.
"Just vanish the cauldron," she said. "It is useless to us now. Come," and she started walking east as she heard him vanish the large iron cauldron.
"Where are we going?" Wormtail asked. She saw no reason to not tell him. He'd need to know the destination to apparate there anyway. As she would certainly not be touching him to take him along.
"We are going to walk five miles east so the ministry will not be able to trace our apparation when we leave here unless they thoroughly scour the area. Either way we will apparate to London and then take the floo from the Leaky Cauldron to Wiltshire," she explained calmly. Had she been going herself she would have forgone the London pit stop, but she did not know if Pettigrew had ever been to Wiltshire.
"Should you be seen in Diagon Alley?" he asked.
"It's late and we will not be long. Anyway it has been a very long time since I looked like this. I doubt I will be recognized. She then hissed at the snake, ordering it to stay and observe. She'd have to come back for it in a day or two, but she knew Nagini would be fine on her own. The snake stopped following Wormtail and slithered into an overgrown area on the edge of the Graveyard, patiently waiting and observing. Voldemort doubted anyone would even take notice of the animal. She'd used snakes as spies before and none of her targets had ever caught on.
"Do you have a hideout in Wiltshire, master?" he asked.
"No. We will deal with another miscreant there and, with any luck, be able to see just where we stand," she paused as if making a decision. "Wiltshire I think will work for what I must accomplish now." Wormtail nodded his understanding as they walked. But he did not ask any more questions, already feeling lucky that she even shared a moderate portion of her plan with him.
She set a brisk pace through the terrain, avoiding any signs of habitation, figuring the more deserted looking the area, the less likely the Ministry would be to check it. So she trudged away from civilization for about an hour. Wormtail struggled to keep up.
Eventually she felt she was far enough away to not be traced. She hadn't heard any commotion behind them, or any sounds of arrivals. So at one point she just apparated away, trusting Wormtail to follow.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading and reviewing. I appreciate it.