"Wormtail...?" called a high, cold voice.

The servant in question appeared, grovelling extra low in the doorway. "Yes, My Lord?"

Voldemort sniffed loudly, letting his snakelike nostrils narrow and his mouth curl with a lipless sneer, "I am still most displeased by your place. There is always the distinct odour of vermin about..."

"Ah. That would be Penny and George, O Nefarious One," explained Wormtail.

The red eyes narrowed contemptuously. "Penny and George?"'

"My female rat friend, and her younger brother."

"You have a girlfriend who is a...rat?"

"We-ell...I'll explain my Lord," chuntered Wormtail. "When you are wanted for mass murder – the human females are, er... well, less easy to attract."

"So they may be," hissed Voldemort irritably, a sneer pulling at his lip "but I highly doubt that in your case mass murder is the greatest deterrant..."

Wormtail looked at his master blankly, needing enlightenment, as ever.

His master's expression darkened still more. "Am I then to presume, that after a night out in the gutter, you bring your...girlfriend...back into this reeking nest of pestilance and disease?"

"Well, yes, O' Dark One... The chewed socks and Jay cloths make such cosy bedding," beamed Wormtail enthusiastically. "You wouldn't know until you've tried them."

O' Dark One muttered several obscene (rather Muggle) words under his breath, his snakeish eyes narrowing. "I cannot believe that Lord Voldemort has come to this."

Gliding into Wormtail's pitiful excuse for a kitchen, he inspected it with narrowed eyes. Finally he paused in front of a rusty old fridge.

Using his wand he muttered a quick spell to open the door, and began to levitate out the contents onto a worktop. Waving out one block of cheese, and then another rather larger block of cheese, it wasn't long before he had the entire contents of the fridge floating before him.

"Eight Four-cheese pizza, twenty cheese straws, Dairylea cheese triangles...Squeezy Cheezy Strips...? All Muggle food!" He hissed. "Haven't we got anything else to eat in this hellhole except for cheese?"

"I happen to have a great liking for cheese, My Lord," piped Wormtail.

"Well you would," leered Voldemort. "And Penny?"

"Caerphilly's her favourite, My Lord. But I do have some of George's fruity flavoured wood Nibbles left...Oh, and a multipack of Wotsits in the cupboard just to the left of you. They might have gone a bit soft though...it's been a fair few years since I've been here..."

"I knew it...!" the owner of the high tone muttered in a high whine, grinding his teeth. He banished the cheese back into the fridge and slammed the door with one vicious swipe of his wand. He breathed out heavily. "Well...for a temporary hideout it will have to do, and Nagini is partial to the odd rat."

"Or the odd Weasel...ly" remarked his servant, finally giving up trying to work out the number of years he had been away from his hideout. (Tragically, he didn't have enough fingers to count on.)

"Wormtail," his master commanded, 'Fetch my cases and chuck this filthy muck out into the street.'

Wormtail blinked. "B-But... my Lord - Penny..."

There was an awful sound of pointy teeth grating furiously together. The terrible wizard Lord swept across the room to give his servant his most evil death glare. "IF I am to successfully construct an evil dark army and rule the world, I don't want nibbled rags and cheese on view. It looks bad. Now get out and take the plague infested garments and fruity...things...with you!"

"Of, course, may Slytherin bless you, sweet m-master." Wormtail dribbled. "B-But...may I suggest, my cunning plan?"

The Dark Lord rolled his red eyes. "Wormtail...my poor rodential ignoramus," he sighed, looking utterly fed up. "Your plans have never been cunning. Your brain cannot even cope with the concept of understanding the meaning of the word cunning. A forty tonne dinosaur with a brain the size of a walnut probably knew more about cunning and stealth than you do."

"But...my Despotic One - when I am a rat my brain IS smaller than..."

"Silence nincompoop! he snapped. I am not in the mood for prattle. I rather you didn't use such titles to refer to me, they sound highly unattractive burbling from your mouth." The Dark Lord smirked slightly, "Lucius is the only one I have allowed to be creative in his worship...Where has he got to, anyway?" He felt a little shiver run up his spine. "My Golden Haired...shimmering silver eyed...sublimeness of..."

Wormtail frowned. "Um...he is in Azkaban, O' Great, Wicked..."

There was a dangerous pause wherein the Dark Lord spluttered and did the nearest thing to flushing he was capable of. Slowly, he turned, pointing a maddened finger toward his servant.

"I...I...know that, you...YOU PLAGUE-RIDDLED DOLT!" Voldemort hissed hysterically, red eyes bulging. "I MEANT...uh...ah...where are my cases... That's it – yes, I meant my cases, not...uh.."

There was a slightly embarrassing pause.

Then, unexpectedly Voldemort shivered, his lurid gaze goggling, even seeming to go cross-eyed. Then he grimaced, bent over sharply, and clamped his hands over his head.


"Ah, is it the Potter boy, My Lord?" babbled Wormtail excitedly, hopping up and down. "I've seen him have pain in his head like that too, My Lord! He sees visions! Oh, what can you see, My Lord? What is he doing?!"

Voldemort straightened up, giving his servant a baleful glare. "It's not the Potter boy, fool Wormtail," he hissed, hands still gripping his head tightly. "It's a migraine from all the putrescent dairy products I've had to eat this past week, you incompetant, flea-infested bumbag!

Remind me to add the Ministry careers tutor who visited Hogwarts onto my "torture slowly before AK-ing list." SHE was the one who first gave me that pamphlet on How to be both successfully Evil and Glamorous!" He let out an acrid hiss. "It had more misleading information than damned Fudge's Prophet! If it wasn't for her, I could be relaxing on a private beach in Barbados by now – letting my evil henchmen do all my dirty work!"

Voldemort moved his spidery hands up on top of his head as if to tug frustratingly at his hair, but moaned when he remembered that he hadn't had any since he was twenty-three and a half...

"AGH! To be on this Muggle-infested, miserable planet for sixty-six crawling years - Muggle pension age, and to find myself in a urine-stained, rag-scattered squat giving orders to a half rat!"

"I am an EVIL half rat, if that helps, O Chilling One..." piped Wormtail.

Voldemort jabbed his wand into his servant's stomach.

"Fetch me some pain killers, cretin, TWO, and a glass of water. I can't magic this one away. I only hope it hurts that runt of a Potter kid as much as it hurts me!"

Wormtail flicked his wand, and a glass of water and two pills appeared on the table. He picked them up and handed them to his master. But just as Voldemort had popped the two pills in his mouth, and was about to wash them down, his ever-dutiful servant asked him an unfortunately timed question.

"But, My Lord...What if Potter took two Asprin at the same time as you, would that make it an overdose?"

The pills were sharply inhaled to the back of the throat and almost went down the wrong way. Voldemort's eyes bulged. A short, rather undignified coughing fit later...

"QUIET IMBECILE!" Was his eventual shriek. The Dark Lord's temper flew to ten over boiling point, his ultra-high tones smashing the glass of water to smithereens. "DO I LOOK LIKE AN EXPERT IN MUGGLE PHARMACOLOGY?! (cough cough)CLEAR THIS RUBBISH OUT - GET THE MAGIC SUPPLIES IN AND LEAVE MY THUMPING HEAD IN PEACE!!!"

"W-Will do, M-Master!" Wormtail yelped as an angrily fired "Crucio!" missed his left buttock by inches.

Back at Hogwarts, Harry awoke with a jolt in the darkened dormitary, his scar twinging painfully. But this time he was unsure whether to giggle hysterically or laugh hysterically at what he'd just seen...