Author Note: Sorry for taking so long. The only reason I finished this chapter is because I have the flu right now.
Chapter 7 - War Effort
A lone figure stood in the Manor drawing room that evening, the window at his back dark, the only light from the flickering fireplace.
The orange light threw his face into sharp relief, with the high cheekbones, bald head, white skin, and the absence of a nose replaced by two snake-like slits.
Tom Riddle stood with his eyes closed, as still as though he were made of marble.
Potter had been within reach. Mere yards away, in fact, and those bumbling fools had sent a raving lunatic after him instead of going themselves. The cowardly fools. They'd paid, and heavily, but he wasn't done with them yet. He needed all the fighters he could round up if they were going to win this war.
He'd kept his anger in check, mostly, because Potter was still on the loose, yet to be found, though Tom hoped it wouldn't be long. Surely a couple of teenagers stumbling about the countryside couldn't evade the Death Eaters for long.
He felt rather in the dark, however. Potter had been sighted at the Ministry, after wreaking havoc disguised under Polyjuice Potion.
Tom wanted, more than anything, to know why he'd risked an excursion into such a public place. Surely it wasn't for thrills. There must've been a good reason. But so far, he'd discovered nothing at all.
He winced as his mind was abruptly filled with a feeling of elation that only grew. Potter.
Sometimes, he found he could catch glimpses into Potter's mind, especially when the boy was experiencing extreme amounts of emotion. He'd tried, often, to push his way into the boy's mind, but he'd only managed it once. What a mistake that had been! Potter's godfather had been killed by Bellatrix during the fight at the Ministry, but the Minister had also seen Voldemort himself, ending any sweet safe dreams he'd been harbouring that he'd not returned.
The elation changed to comprehension, and a blur of images swept through Tom's mind, the only one of which he could glimpse was an odd symbol drawn in an old book.
He sighed as the feeling disappeared. The symbol had looked familiar. He knew he should know what it was, but he couldn't remember.
Another thought forced its way into his head: the demented Lovegood girl who Draco had claimed. With the thought came guilt and anxiety.
Slowly, the connection to Potter faded, and Tom opened his eyes, not at all surprised to see the owner of Malfoy Manor approaching.
"Lucius," he said softly. "Do you wish to speak with me?"
"My lord," Lucius seemed angry. "I regret to inform you that one of our newest Death Eaters has been experiencing mysterious problems with his voice. He came downstairs this evening to speak with me, but is only able to emit violin music."
Tom smiled at the man. "You have investigated, I presume?"
"Yes, and in vain. I know of a potion that can change the speaker's voice, called the Volubilis Potion, but it is difficult to brew, and the outcome is a shift in voice tone."
"Perhaps the brewer was exceptional, then," Tom replied, and stepped closer to Lucius, who visibly held himself back from flinching. "It will likely wear off in time, Lucius. Do not let such pranks trouble you."
The blonde-haired man shuffled his feet, all anger gone, replaced by fear. "Yes, my lord."
"You must excuse me for changing the subject," Tom continued, turning to pace the room, "but I can't help but notice. You see, even a month ago, your son was weak and couldn't kill Dumbledore. I recall the night when Nagini had that stupid Muggle Studies witch for her dinner, he fell out of his chair in fright." Tom glanced back at the man, who was growing steadily paler. "Yet, he has surpassed all my expectations of him, and recovered magnificently, Lucius. He is becoming a man. You should be proud."
Lucius started, and let out a relieved chuckle "Yes, my lord. I had given up on him, but somehow, he pulled through."
"His performance the other evening was pleasant to hear. He is following in your footsteps in every way."
"Indeed." Lucius's smirk had returned, "I had hoped he would choose a rather more respectable girl, however."
Tom turned to leave. "Perhaps he believes her easier to 'tame' if she is mad. Goodnight, Lucius." And he swept away down the dark halls.
Upstairs, two teenagers sat in the middle of the floor, leaning over a rough bowl filled with clear liquid, staring into it. The sound of violin music filled the room suddenly, and the boy rolled over laughing, hands clutched around his middle.
The girl reached over to pat him on the back, a pleased smile on her face. "That worked rather well, I think."
When he'd caught his breath, Draco looked at her, then back at the scrying bowl. "Operation 'Buggered Snake' is underway," he said in an announcer voice, drawing himself up grandly. "Mission One: successful. Now, what should we do next?"
Luna opened Advanced Potion Making, and flipped to a page, leaning over to show it to Draco. A moment later, he was rolling with laughter again, as Beethoven's Minuet in G filled the room. Being on the wrong side of the war might not be so bad after all.