A/N: Hello dear readers! Harry woke me up at 4:30 AM this morning because he was bored. Good thing I had almost finished this chapter. ;) ~Emma
Harry and his friends left the train in a group, heading towards the carriages while still deep in conversation about what the coming year would bring. Cassius had disappeared by the time his friends had found his compartment, and Harry hadn't seen the vampire since. He hadn't seen him, but he could feel his presence lurking just outside the circle of his friends. He couldn't help but wonder what would happen when they learned of his vampire bodyguard/tutor/valet. He was sure that Cassius would enjoy it. Harry's initial impression of the vampire had been one of hardened warrior, but beneath the fearsome exterior of old centurion, and once you got past the pointy teeth and sensitivity to sunlight, you got to experience a trickster that could give Fred and George a race for master prankster.
"Harry?" Hermione's voice sounded as though she had tried to get his attention more than once.
"Yes, Mi?" He asked, stopping to stand next to the carriage with her.
"Ready?" She asked. Harry knew it was an innocent question for her, but he couldn't help but think about the things he had to do in the short time he had left at Hogwarts. He pondered them for a second before shrugging and climbing into the carriage. "Do you think we're going to have exams this year? They seem to be rather come and go."
"I think you'll have exams this year, Hermione. It's your NEWTS, isn't it?" Harry sat back in the carriage and smirked. "You'll be having kittens at the end of the month, I have no doubt." He told her.
"I'm not that bad!" She protested. "Skywalker, really!"
"You're that bad." Neville agreed as he climbed into the carriage behind Harry. "Who wants to make a bet that Hermione will be stressed out about NEWTS before the end of the month?"
"I wouldn't take that bet." Harry commented. "You'd lose."
Hermione sent a stinging hex to both Harry and Neville and decided that talking to Ginny was better than dealing with boys that couldn't stop joking about her being a swot.
"Eh, girls." Neville snickered and brought out his latest book on plants to share with Harry. There were quite a few vicious specimens in this advanced book of Herbology and Harry couldn't help but wonder who would breed such things. Most of them had been banned and the Ministry had tried to dispose of them, but a few had managed to go wild and were thought to be valuable ingredients for potions. If could get near them without losing a limb, that is.
Harry claimed a spot next to the window of their carriage as they approached the school. He reached out with his magic and felt Hogwarts searching for him. He smiled and closed his eyes. Hello, Hogwarts!
Welcome home, Magus Harry! The castle seemed to grow brighter one she had greeted Harry and he couldn't help but smile again as he felt the wards of Hogwarts gather around him and give him a hug. It was an odd idea, receiving a hug from a castle, but the sensation was like a hug.
The group left the carriage and entered the school, chatting on the way to the Great Hall. Harry sat with his friends at the Gryffindor table. A quick glance at the Head Table showed that the usual professors were there…with a surprise addition. His brother Khalid waved from the Head Table, acting incredibly excited to see Harry for the first time in a month. If the Hogwarts Board of Governors had been upset about a werewolf teaching, what would they say about vampire Khalid taking the helm? Harry waved in return and took his place at the table with Hermione and Neville on either side of him. Ginny settled across from them and Harry noticed that Ron was further down the table, clustered with a group wearing Protector Badges.
Dumbledore was missing from the Head Table. McGonagall sat in his place, looking as stern as ever. Harry wondered if Dumbledore would be watching from the Hospital Wing this evening, or if he was not allowed to see anything about the Sorting. He
The noise level increased as old friends found each other again. Harry sat in silence, letting Hermione, Neville, and Ginny talk around him as he waited for the Sorting to begin. The doors opened and Flitwick led the group of little first years down the main aisle towards the Sorting Hat and stool. The children clustered around the stool and waited while the Hat jerked and came to life again.
"Hello my children, and hello my friend.
Our times of fear and sadness will soon end.
The Champion has arrived at long last
Heartsick and exhausted, but still steadfast.
Royalty's ancient line has come back here
To Hogwarts, the place all magi hold dear
Be warned, my children, and listen so close
A secret still well-kept we must expose
The secret is old and young once in time
Taught by Merlin's teacher in his own prime
Kept close and held by those who hold him dear
To keep him safe from the magical's fear
Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff
The Champion is here; will it be enough?
Harry sat, a little stunned by the song and a little concerned by what he had heard. Hermione was writing it down next to him, while Neville looked confused. Harry had a sinking feeling that he was the subject of this little poem and he swallowed hard. Things were getting out of hand. Neville spoke up. "Who's the Champion?" he asked, quiet in his confusion.
Harry shrugged and turned his attention to the Head Table. Snape and McGonagall were bent together, whispering back and forth. Harry was pretty sure he knew what they were talking about, and he knew that they would likely up their efforts to corner Dumbledore's grandson next chance they got. He speculated how they would do that for just a few moments and then dismissed the concern. If they hadn't caught him by now, they likely would fail to catch him with all of the other students in the castle.
"That was almost as odd as the Sorting Hat song from last year…" Hermione commented, stowing away her little notebook in a pocket.
Harry relaxed as he watched the Sorting, cheering for each one, regardless of House. He noticed Draco Malfoy was taking pains to steer the children to their places at the Slytherin Table, and Hermione was telling people to make room as new Gryffindor firsties made their way to the table. After the last child was Sorted in Hufflepuff, the tables filled with the standard Hogwarts feast. Harry served himself a few things and tucked in while Hermione and Neville talked about the upcoming classes and what to expect, and how would a vampire teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts be able to show them how to defend against other magical creatures and more importantly, Death Eaters?
After dinner, he left the Great Hall and started towards Gryffindor tower, only to be stopped by Draco Malfoy. "Potter, did you have a good summer?"
"It was tolerable, Malfoy…how about yourself?" Harry asked, shaking the boy's hand. "How is Julie doing these days?"
"She's fine and if I ever hear you mention her name in Severus's presence, I will have to take steps to end your continued existence." Draco warned as they walked along the hallway.
"You will do no such thing." Cassius said, appearing suddenly. Harry and his entire group of friends jumped in surprise. My magic must not think he's a threat, because it didn't warn me he was there….or he's been there all along and has managed some freaky vampire invisibility thing I don't want to know about. Harry thought as he turned. The vampire made a noise of impatience and smoothed out Harry's uniform. "Really, Master Harry. How do you manage to rumple yourself so quickly?" He muttered before sliding back into shadows.
"Um, Harry?" Hermione paused. "Who was that?" All of his friends wore the same look of expectant confusion, wanting an answer to Hermione's question, but looking almost afraid to hear the answer.
"That was Cassius, though I'm to call him 'Uncle Cassius' for reasons unknown. He's here as protection."
Harry turned back towards Draco to continue their conversation when the blonde boy froze, paled, and bowed. Harry's forehead screwed up in confusion and he turned to Neville for an explanation. Neville's jaw dropped and he also bowed. Ginny stared at him and then bobbed a curtsy.
Hermione crossed her arms and started tapping her foot. "Would someone kindly explain what is going on, and why you're all suddenly bowing to Harry as though he's some sort of prince?"
"Granger, he IS a prince!" Draco told her, turning Harry to face her and pointing at the necklace around his neck. Harry scowled and hid it again, figuring out in that instant that Cassius had unhidden it when he had smoothed down Harry's robes. "That is the sign of the Dracula. Voivod of Wallacia. Big, big name in the realm of people you don't want to upset in the wizarding world." As one, his friends turned and looked at him, expecting another answer.
"Dracula adopted me," He told the small group. "I'd really rather not have anyone else know, if we can manage it."
"Dracula adopted you?" Hermione asked slowly. Harry paused at Hermione's tone. She had her "I'm putting something together in my mind" expression on her face, and her brain was working overtime to come up with the answer.
"Yes," Harry was a little concerned about her. She was thinking pretty hard.
"Dracula. Adopted. You." She stated again, enunciating each word.
"Yes." Harry wondered if her brain had finally shut down under the strain.
"Dracula, the Prince of the Carpathians, adopted, you, Harry Potter – The Boy Who Lived." She stated again.
"Yes!" Harry snapped, losing patience with his friend. The entire group erupted in laughter with a slight hysterical tone. "What?"
Hermione attempted to pull herself together and then shook her head, dropping to the floor. Harry only tapped his foot in annoyance while his friends had their fun at his expense. "When you're finished." He told them, trying to remain patient.
"S- S- Sorry!" Hermione wailed. "I'm sorry!" She threw back her head and laughed again. Harry sighed, waiting for someone to explain why they all were laughing. "Ok, I'm ok. I'm fine." Hermione said, rising to her feet. "I'm ok now." She paused, took a breath, and then another before turning back to Harry. "Think about it, Harry." She said calmly, while a smile threatened to dash onto her face. "I mean, of course you were adopted by Dracula. It's you." She told him. "The Boy Who Lived, got rid of a possessed Quirrel, fought a basilisk, etc etc and then was adopted by Dracula. Honestly, could your life become any more bizarre?"
Harry had to admit she had a point. "I really, really hate my life sometimes." He said, resigned.
"Think about it this way, Harry. At least it's never boring." Neville told him. "I mean, you could be a super-powered man rushing around saving people's lives against an arch villain with bad speeches." Neville paused. "You know, Gran said reading Muggle comic books would rot my brains out, but I never thought she would be right. You are a super- powered man rushing around saving people's lives, aren't you? This whole 'Boy-Who-Lived' thing is just a cover up? Your secret identity? Confess!" Harry had to wonder who put his friend up to this behavior and then saw the conspiratorial grins on their faces.
"Right. You lot have about three seconds to run before I show you my super-powered abilities." He said, raising a hand. Hermione shrieked as she, Ginny, and the others dashed off for the staircase, Harry running after them, threatening their lives for teasing him.
Harry rounded the corner and almost slammed into Professor Snape. He dodged at the last second and only managed to retain his feet with a little magic push. Snape was glaring at him, and was he grinding his teeth? Harry straightened and smoothed out his uniform. "I apologize, Professor. I didn't see you."
Professor Snape continued to grind his teeth for a moment and then snapped off a quick bow at Harry. "Perhaps you should not be running in the hallways." The man said. "Am I to use your title?"
"Oh, no!" Harry shook his head in protest. "No, no titles. I'd prefer no one else know."
"Then, Mr. Potter, perhaps you should hide the insignia." He said, pointing at the necklace.
"I did hide it. It's that vampire! I told him I didn't want anyone to know." Harry sighed in frustration.
"Vampire?" Snape asked, growling out the word.
"Um, he told me to call him Uncle Cassius." Harry admitted.
"Of course he did," Snape said. He had a funny look on his face, as though he was counting or was going to sick up. "Your bushy-haired friend will insist on a meeting this evening. Please be sure you attend." Snape told him.
"Yes, sir."Harry told him. "I'll do that, sir. Soon as I manage to…track everyone down." He said, backing away. Snape waved him away and Harry took that as permission to turn and walk quickly down the hall where he heard his friends laughing again. "You are sooo dead!" He roared. As one, his friends scattered to Gryffindor Tower, Harry in close pursuit.
Harry came awake all at once, suddenly aware that somebody was standing next to his bed. He opened his eyes and saw Hermione standing there, with Cassius standing behind her, firm hands on her shoulders. "Call him off, Harry." She hissed in a whisper.
"It depends on what you were doing, sneaking up on me while I'm sleeping." He said, rubbing his eyes and reaching for his glasses.
"Coming to get you for a meeting." She told him.
"Ah, I see. Let her go, Uncle. She's supposed to be here." He said, getting out of bed and reaching for some random clothes. Cassius let go of Hermione and held out some folded clothes. "I anticipated your needs, Master Harry." Harry accepted the clothing and sighed when he realized that Dracula was once again contributing to his wardrobe. Harry frowned at the clothing and then looked up at Cassius. "Just…don't get rid of any clothing, okay? Some of it has sentimental value."
"A prince and a proper young man does not dress in baggy trousers and T-shirts, Master Harry." Cassius told him.
"Yeah?" Harry asked. "This one likes his T-shirts, and he likes cotton pants, thanks, and do not take it upon yourself to remove articles of clothing without my permission, please. My aunt spent some time choosing clothing for me, and I'd like to be able to wear what she picked out." During his little tirade, he changed out of pajamas and into the clothing Cassius had chosen, as it was the quickest route. He had forgotten Hermione was standing there.
Hermione had a mischievous grin on her face when he remembered she was standing there and her cheeks were slightly pink. "Er…sorry?" He told her. "I forgot you were here for a moment."
"Young master, really. Changing in front of a lady." Cassius muttered. "A few centuries ago, that would have guaranteed marriage."
"Aren't we glad it isn't a few centuries ago…" Harry muttered.
"It's okay, Harry. Really. Don't worry about it. Just….avoid it in the future, especially around every single female in this place. It could lead to riots or something equally disturbing, like Celestina Warbeck songs and animated Valentine's Day cards."
"Hermione?" Harry asked, turning serious as he firmly thrust the tie Cassius was trying to strangle him with away from him. "Do you fancy me?"
"No, Harry. I don't fancy you. I am warning you that you could be in a great deal of trouble very shortly if other females discover what you've hidden all these years."
"Thanks for the warning…" Harry said, finally submitting to the tie just to keep Cassius from fussing. Cassius held out the jacket to the suit and Harry took the offered item, handing back the tie at the same time. All of the vampires he had met loved dressing him up like a doll (memories of the shopping trip Vlad had taken him on after Harry received the role of a fop still wouldn't allow themselves to be repressed). He and Hermione left the room, leaving behind a cursing vampire holding a tie. Harry snickered, knowing Cassius would catch up to him soon, and would probably be able to return the tie to his neck without Harry even noticing.
Hermione stopped in front of a blank wall, rested her hand on a certain brick and said a word Harry didn't quite catch. They waited and while they were waiting, Harry realized that Cassius had managed to return the tie around his neck. How does he do that?
The door opened to reveal Draco Malfoy, and the boy gestured them into the room. Harry found it was a little like being in a surreal painting; he had known that Snape had private quarters, but he wasn't really expecting the little hints of domesticity scattered about the room. There was a half-finished cup of tea on one of the side tables. Slippers were resting on the hearth stone. Books took up almost every free shelf or space there was, but it was not exactly cluttered. Snape, Harry knew, would know exactly where to put his hands on any volume he wanted. There was a wall with some odd spacing on it that caused Harry to pause a bit. He smiled as Hogwarts revealed a doorway normally hidden to others. So that's how he manages to sneak about… Harry had a feeling that Draco Malfoy knew of the door. The charms on it were vaguely interesting to him, set as they were by a previous magus. He studied them while he and Hermione took the seats offered to them and accepted offers of refreshments. He gave a quick glance at Draco, confirming his hypothesis. Salazar Slytherin, hats off to you. You, greatest of the Hogwarts Four, and you alone, ensured that your snakes would be well-cared for after your departure.
Snape stalked into the room through his front door already looking frazzled. Strangely enough, his collar was undone and his hair mussed. He went straight to a cabinet, flinging open the doors with little more than a hand gesture. He poured some amber liquid Harry assumed was alcohol into a glass and then swallowed it, only to pour himself another. He glanced over his shoulder at the assembled teenagers and glared at Potter. "Your…valet accosted me again, Mr. Potter. He's waiting outside, demanding to be allowed to attend. He had my collar undone before I was even aware that he was there!" Snape's voice edged towards the hysteric.
"Well, sir, this is your home. He must have your permission to enter." Harry told him.
"And he'll never have it!" Snape told him sharply while doing up his collar. A quick wave of his wand set things back to rights and he dropped into a chair by the fireplace. He rested his glass on his forehead and sighed.
"Don't worry, sir. This is actually pretty common where Harry is concerned." Hermione was really trying to be helpful, Harry knew, but her comment seemed to do little for Snape's peace of mind.
"Tell me, Mr. Potter, are there any other surprises I should know about?" He muttered. Harry was glad that the man was staring at the ceiling when he said this, as Harry was still uneasy around the man's Legillimency abilities.
"Er….not really?" Harry couldn't help but answer.
"Dark Lords, possessed teachers, monsters, convicts, dragons, Death Eaters, time travel (oh yes, I know all about that!), adopted by the vampire king, and now a PRINCE with a VAMPIRE TUTOR, VALET and BODYGUARD you call 'Uncle!" Snape downed the liquid in his glass again and set it down on the table next to his chair with a decided thunk. "Mr. Potter, I am almost convinced that you'll be the death of me." Snape said in a defeated tone.
"You forgot Triwizard Champion…" Hermione said primly, mischief dancing in her eyes.
"Miss Granger! You are not helping!" Snape growled as Draco moved to refill Snape's glass.
"I'm sorry, sir…I couldn't help it." Hermione admitted. "Harry and I have gone over the little list of his accomplishments at least a few dozen times. Even his adoption sort of fits into that list you made." She said. "He has a long list of rather extraordinary events surrounding a rather unremarkable individual."
"Thanks, I think." Harry told her. He paused and then thought about what she had said. She laughed at the look on his face and then turned serious.
"Why did you call us down here, sir? It's rather late and we do have classes first thing tomorrow." She said, the bookworm in her nature evident.
"Mr. Potter…why have you returned to Hogwarts? According to your test scores, you could have skipped your seventh year altogether. You could have gone onto further training on your name alone." Snape paused. "You are in very real danger here."
"I know." Harry said calmly.
"You were right, Severus. He is an idiot." Draco said as he passed him and handed the glass back to him. "What Severus is trying to get here is information. Information he can use to help protect the school, and protect you, by extension."
Snape glared at Draco and the boy shrugged. "I don't know why you're glaring at me. They're Gryffindors. You have to be direct with them or you won't get anything out of them."
Harry wanted to laugh, but managed to hold his expression, growing serious and frantically casting about for an acceptable answer. "It all ends here, I'm afraid. The war is coming to Hogwarts, sooner than I would like. I had to come back here, because it all ends here."
"God help us." Snape commented to the room at large. "War is coming to Hogwarts."
Harry was just returning to bed and sleep, listening to Cassius grumble about not being allowed in Snape's flat, when a summons from the Dark Lord came. Harry resigned himself to no sleep tonight and threw back the covers. He blindly pulled on the clothing Cassius handed to him and told the vampire not to follow him, an order which Cassius promptly ignored until Harry conjured a handful of rice and tossed it across the floor. Cassius took the time to curse before starting to count the rice. Harry gathered his mask and cloak, grateful that his dorm mates were all deep sleepers thanks to the cursing vampire frantically counting rice on the floor.
He rushed from the castle and passed the gates, hissing his password for his portkey. He re-appeared in the cemetery and sighed, his persona slipping onto him easier than his Death Eater mask. He turned and saw Robinson standing there at the entrance to the house.
"Milord…" he said softly.
"Robinson, good to see you." He said tiredly. "How are things?"
"Fine, milord. Just fine." Robinson moved forward and gestured Harry into the house. While they moved down the hallway towards the Dark Lord, Robinson leaned over and whispered. "There are a few of us who would like a few minutes of your time before you leave, milord, if you can spare it. A few things to discuss."
Harry pondered this and wondered if he should mention it to Voldemort, or if he should keep his own counsel on this matter.
"I will try, but I make no guarantees, Robinson." Harry told him softly. "I have a school schedule at the moment." He grinned beneath his mask and clapped the man on the shoulder before moving into the room.
"There he is!" Voldemort sounded happy tonight. Harry entered the room and went over to the man's side, allowing the arm around his shoulder without even a shudder. He had to be the most phenomenal actor ever...or he was just getting used to this. Either way, it was a little disturbing. "How are you, my child?" Voldemort asked. "How are things at school?"
"Everything's fine, sir. I've not even had time to sleep in my bed yet." And it looks like I won't be sleeping at all tonight. Harry found the urge to sigh and backed away from the Dark Lord as the man stepped forward and gestured for the Death Eaters to gather around him.
"Good evening, my faithful followers...I am so glad you could join me." Harry had a brief moment of seeing Voldemort in Umbridge's clothes and choked back laughter. Voldemort looked over his shoulder at Harry for a brief moment before turning his attention back to the Death Eaters.
"We have done well thus far, my followers. Fudge is gone from office, and the replacement is less than...antagonistic to our continued efforts." He paused and then tilted his head to the side. All the same, there is one person left that will interfere with our plans. He seemed like he was listening to something no one else could hear. He shook himself suddenly and then looked around. "Whe-Where was I?" He asked, his voice worried.
"Fudge's replacement," Harry spoke up from behind him, knowing he was the least likely to be cursed for speaking. Voldemort still whipped around and his face showed a bit of uncertainty. Voldemort had been having these odd little moments from time to time, and Harry noted each one. "Thank you, child." He told Harry. Harry rolled his eyes behind his mask once Voldemort turned around and faced the Death Eaters again. "My followers, we must remove all opposition to us, not just the Minister and not just the government. We must remove the leader of our main opposition, and then watch them fall and scatter. We must rid the world of Albus Dumbledore."
Well, there goes my hopes that he was going to get better. Harry said to himself as Voldemort proceeded to ramble a bit about how Dumbledore was holding back their efforts. Why couldn't he have just healed? I could have handled him healing, but he's...not. Harry twisted his magic a bit and peered into Voldemort's mind again while he was speaking. The holes had turned grey and red. They looked as though they were infected and pulsated just the slightest bit. Harry fought down the urge to vomit as his magic showed him what would happen to Voldemort's brain if it wouldn't heal. He watched the disintegration as the sick spots grew and spread further and further as time went on. It's not fair. I as good as killed him, doing what I did.
Harry quickly lost track of the speech Voldemort was making as his stomach turned and cramped. His head started to pound. Urgh. This is psychosomatic. Harry realized as he balled his hands into fists. This is just anxiety. Stop it. His orders to himself didn't work. By the time Voldemort had outlined the plan for Halloween (of course it would be Halloween), Harry was feeling well and truly wretched. He dismissed the Deather Eaters but motioned for Harry to stay.
Voldemort considered him, his eyes flashing a light red as he considered Harry's form. "You are not feeling well." Voldemort said after a moment.
"Sadly, it seems like I never feel well anymore," Harry admitted. "I think I'm a little stressed." He admitted. "I hate lying to people, sir. I just want this to all be over." Harry thought he was laying things on a little thick, but plowed ahead. "I still want to move forward with our plan of seeing you in office, sir. I do. I've taken a few steps already to make it happen...just be cautious about directly challenging the Ministry is all I ask." He told the Dark Lord.
Voldemort's expression had turned soft and bewildered the longer Harry talked. He stepped forward and took Harry's hand. "I will not do anything to jeopardize what you have plotted." He promised. "Does it have something to do with your recent adoption?" He asked.
"I can't answer that without breaking other promises, sir." He said slowly, as though reluctant. "Just know I am working for your benefit." That last sentence tasted like ash in his mouth. Harry turned toward the window and sighed. "I have to get back to Hogwarts now before someone finds me missing." He said good-bye to Voldemort, begging off any further conversation due to his very real feelings of illness. Voldemort had merely embraced him and said that he hoped he felt better, promising not to do anything to jeopardize Harry's plans.
Harry left the room and made it outside to the graveyard. He didn't see anyone about, so he shrugged and started to activate his Portkey to go back to Hogwarts. He jerked as he felt a firm hand take hold of his arm and a tug behind his navel. His magic screamed at him, confusing him as he tumbled with the Portkey. His magic could fight Portkeys?
He landed roughly and tumbled end over end, which did absolutely nothing to make him feel better. He finally came to a stop and he groaned as his head gave one almighty thump and settled back into its pattern of supreme headache. He had to roll to his side and was quietly sick, making his head pound worse. I think I'm going to miss the first day of classes. He thought as he pushed himself up off the ground. He teetered on his feet for a moment before deciding to sit back down on the ground. Where in the -?
"What happened?" A rough voice said from somewhere to Harry's left. Harry pushed himself to his feet and staggered a bit until he regained his feet. He found the source of the voice and started down at Robinson.
"What was that?!" he demanded of Robinson. "Kidnapping?!" Harry brought out his wand and jabbed Robinson's throat.
"I mentioned that a few of us wanted to speak to you before you left," Robinson gasped out. "I told you!"
"You didn't mention a portkey!" Harry let go of Robinson and sighed. "Fine. Where is this meeting place?"
"The portkey was supposed to take us there...but it doesn't seem like it worked." Robinson told him.
Harry ran his hands through his hair in frustration and paced a bit. He was tired and he wasn't feeling well. He stalked back to Robinson and grabbed hold of the man, asking his magic to take them where the Portkey was meant to have taken them. It responded eagerly and he and Robinson appeared in what appeared to be a backroom of a pub. Harry released Robinson and stepped back, seeing a crowd of men staring at him and Robinson.
"How-how-what?" Robinson appeared to be unable to articulate what he wanted to ask. "Er-what?"
"Never mind...I fixed the portkey. Is this where we're supposed to be?" He asked Robinson, gathering his magic in case all of the stunned men standing in the room decided to attack the two sudden arrivals.
"Er, yes. Yes it is. Except that we were supposed to be outside and then come inside." Robinson explained and then shrugged. "Well, you were going for efficiency, I think?"
Harry sighed and dismissed Robinson as he stepped forward. "Robinson here said you all wanted to speak to me." He said as he removed his mask, allowing his identity as Tom to be seen by the others waiting. None of them were wearing masks; he would return the favor. The entire room seemed to relax as he removed his robes and masks, banishing them back to his trunk at Hogwarts where he knew Cassius would find them later.
The men all looked at each other, each one seeming to be unwilling to be the first to speak. Harry looked around and shook his head. "Look, I'm supposed to be at school. I've been up all night and I likely won't see my bed before dawn. Could we please get on with this?"
"There's that petulance you warned me about," Robinson said as he removed his Death Eater robes. "We...well, we dislike the ideas that the Dark Lord has been preaching to us."
"We don't want to follow him...not like this." A voice said in the crowd.
"I'm not risking my life and family for that!"
"He's gone round the twist!"
"Why should we give up our freedom for that?"
More and more voices heaped abuses and demands about the Dark Lord. Harry allowed them to vent for just a few minutes before sending a bang into the air. The group fell silent, staring at him. Harry realized he hadn't used his wand to create the noise. "I understand your frustrations and your anger," He said into the silence. "I understand why you all feel this way."
The men were all looking at him, as though expecting something from him. "What do we do about him, then?" A voice asked from the crowd.
Harry looked down at his hands for a moment, considering his answer. This could have bad repercussions should anyone decide to tell the Dark Lord...hmm. That could work. He twisted his magic and allowed it to settle over the men in the room. His spell was as simple as a Muggle repelling ward; they would simply lose their train of thought if they tried to tell Voldemort about this meeting. The simplest solutions were often the best. Who doesn't lose their train of thought from time to time?
"Leave it to me," He told them. "He won't question me too closely." He told the men. "For now, continue on as you have. Show up on Halloween or not. Follow through on your plans or not. Just stay out of my way." Harry turned on his heel and Apparated. He left behind a group of men completely shocked to their cores, as the room had been warded against Apparition. This young Dark Lord was obviously more powerful than the Dark Lord Voldemort.
"Well, I think we should do as he said." Robinson said, stepping forward. "I don't know about anyone else in this room, but that just proved something to me."
"What's that, Robinson?" Another man said from the corner of the room.
"We don't want to challenge him." Robinson answered, motioning to where the boy had stood just a moment before. "He managed to fix our Portkey, and I'm pretty sure he is the one who stopped it. And may I remind you that he brought us to this room, instead of the landing point outside?" Robinson shook his head. "No, indeed. If there is a person to fear, it is the young Dark Lord."