Author's Note: *Emma crawls out from under rock* Hello all. I am alive. Here's the next chapter. I hope you like it. Thanks to my amazing beta.

It was just after midnight, and Harry Potter was breaking the rules of Hogwarts again. Of course, if anyone checked beds in Gryffindor tower, Harry Potter was fast asleep right where he was supposed to be. It was Tom lurking in the halls of Hogwarts. Tom had no bed in Hogwarts, and well, you couldn't yell at a student for being out of bed when he had no bed to call his own in the dormitories. Harry, in his guise as Tom, had full run of the halls this late, and as long as he stayed away from the night owl portraits and a certain poltergeist that was currently in the Great Hall on the other side of the school (thank you for the information, Hogwarts), he was able to have the time to himself. Cassius was likely following him, but he was content to stay away for now and give Harry the solitude he was seeking. He wasn't sure why, but it felt like something was coming or that something was going to happen.

He'd had a rough few weeks. He had been depressed over how his life was going to end and the fact that he was feeling pretty powerless over it all. Cassius had sat him down one evening and wouldn't let him leave the room until he had gotten the full story out of him. Harry still wasn't sure how it had happened. He was blaming it all on spooky vampire powers or perhaps a potion of some sort, but Cassius had heard the whole thing from start to finish, including Bleys, being the Dark Lord's student, and Bleys's final message to him about how things would end. It was Cassius's final comment that seemed to help more than anything else. "Master Harry, I'm going to tell you something someone told me, long before I joined your father's court - it is not the amount of time you have left on this earth, but how you make use of that time, that matters in the end. It is normal to feel sad, angry, or upset when faced with the idea of your own death, especially at a young age, but death comes to us all, even vampires. Make use of the time you have left to enjoy yourself and leave a good mark on the world. Why else exist? Act as though you have all the time in the world, and you may surprise yourself."

It had taken about four or five days before he started thinking about what he would do if he did have all of the time in the world. He'd even sat down and made a list of all of the places he would see and the things he would do someday in a notebook. He'd written out his ideas on how his career would go, including where he would go to school after Hogwarts and what subjects he would study. He picked The Phantom of the Opera as his first musical and then transitioned there to other musicals like Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd, Miss Saigon, Evita, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. He wrote out every wish he had for his future life, including visits home to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Remus. He doubted he would live to see it, but he had a feeling that Remus and Petunia would one day marry and then spoil any children Dudley had. He even wrote out what being an uncle (even though they would technically be cousins) would be like and how he would spoil Dudley's children in between productions with outings and trips. He even dared to dream a little about having a family of his own with a yet unimagined wife and the children calling Petunia "Gran."

He had used magic to lock away these secrets so that no one else could read what he had wished for and then made his peace with the idea that he might not see that future. If it happened, then great, but if it didn't happen….well. Those thoughts he kept locked away as well, to avoid thinking about it. He also decided that while he was here, he would have as much fun as possible before things caught up to him. That had taken close to a week to reason out in his mind. Why have fun when things were so scary? Why bother crawling out of the apathy?

Hermione had helped in her usual way - she ambushed him. She had been trying to get him alone for days before she finally managed to catch him. She had waited for him after dinner one night, and using Cassius's help, dragged him to the Room of Requirement. He protested a bit as she latched onto his robes, but she marched him down the hallways with Cassius close at their heels and doing nothing to help Harry get away, no matter how many frantic looks Harry gave him. He did remove Harry from Hermione's grip, but only tossed him over his shoulder and carried him down the hallways with Hermione following beside them, her face glittering with determination. Harry still wasn't sure if he was going to forgive the vampire for his lack of inaction that evening. He was supposed to be protection (ostensibly), but it only seemed that he acted as bodyguard when he felt the situation warranted such actions. Otherwise, he made scandalized noises when he thought Harry was doing something outside the realm of what he considered acceptable and stalked the Potions professor for fun. Hermione followed them into the RoR and came over to face Harry where he had fallen when Cassius deposited him on a couch filled with too many throw pillows to be safe. She stood before him, her face grim, and put her hands on her hips. "Now, I have to call or write to your Aunt Petunia and tell her that Hogwarts is a terrible environment for you?"

"A terrible environment?" He asked, still perplexed at what had just happened to him.

"Harry...contrary to popular belief, I'm not completely oblivious. You used to do fun things. You used to play chess, and sneak out, and QUIDDITCH!" She seized on this last word and dropped onto a stool in front of him. "You don't play Quidditch anymore. Harry - you're not enjoying yourself here. You were so much better at St. Jude's. Here, it seems like you're just going through the motions, and some days, not even that. I can't help but wonder if St. Jude's or another school would be a better place for you. Perhaps your celebrity, or being away from home, or your adoption, is just too much for you right now. Don't think we haven't noticed you not really eating or sleeping-"

"I've more than noticed it," Cassius grumbled from the corner. He was in his usual pose of disapproving vampire, arms crossed and eyes narrowed at his charge.

"Yes, thank you, Cassius." Hermione returned. "You're not eating much, I can tell you're not sleeping well, and you're not doing things you enjoy. Even your grades are slipping beyond their usual level. And DON'T say you're fine."

Harry closed his mouth. He had been about to say that he was fine. Hermione knew him too well. Better not to make her angrier than she already was, especially when she was in this mood.

"I'm worried for you, Harry. While I'm glad you're back at Hogwarts, if this is the wrong place for you, then maybe we should find you someplace better. Someplace you can be happy." She reached out and took his hands. The pressure of her fingers made something in him relax. He felt his hands open and close a few times and her hands stayed there, waiting for him to decide what he wanted. He took a few deep breaths, played her words in his head again, and then sighed.

"Hermione...could I have a hug?" He asked finally, his voice rough. Hermione joined him on the sofa and brought her arms around him. He rested his forehead on her shoulder for a few minutes, but he knew the hug lasted a long time. "Thank you for being such a brilliant friend." He finally said, trying to pull away. She let him go, but she took his hand again and squeezed. "You're right." He said after a few minutes. "I haven't been really happy here, but it's just for a year. I thought I could do it, but it's all….feeling a little pointless." He admitted to her.

"What do you need, Harry? How can I help?" She asked.

"I'm not sure…" He shrugged and leaned back against the sofa, pulling her with him.

"I think I know what you might need right now," She said softly, as though it was a secret. Harry looked at her, curious. "A little fun…"

"I don't think that -" A pillow hit him in the face and he heard her giggle. "You realize that this means war?" He asked, finding his own pillow to attack his friend.

"Surrender to my wrath!" Hermione tossed three pillows in rapid fire succession while Harry climbed on top of the sofa to dodge Hermione's attacks, taking the higher ground.

"The Boy Who Lived never surrenders!" He had frozen at that point and Hermione had won by default when her last pillow managed to knock him over. He tumbled over the back of the sofa and hit the ground. He stayed where he was, staring up at the ceiling above him, blinking.

"Harry, you okay?" Hermione asked, peering over the back of the sofa where Harry was sitting in a heap.

"The Boy Who Lives never surrenders," He repeated. "Mi...I think it's going to be okay." He finally said after a few minutes. "I think I'm going to be okay...well, until the Christmas holiday when I'll be grounded for life." He admitted. "Aunt Petunia is not impressed with my behavior from the summer."

" know what this means, Skywalker?" Hermione said, pushing her hair out of her face. She had worked up a bit of a sweat during their pillow fight and hair clung to her forehead.

"What?" He asked.

"We ask Cassius if he'd be willing to infiltrate the kitchen and see if they have your favorite ice cream." A pop from the other side of the room showed that Hogwarts had heard them and provided ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was there, along with vanilla and toppings.

"How can you like boring ice cream flavors?" Harry asked as he went over to inspect the table.

"Boring! You take that back!" The two ended up resuming their pillow fight for a brief five minute skirmish before Cassius called a halt, stating he would send the ice cream back to the kitchen if they could not conduct themselves in a better manner. Harry had snorted, but they subsided long enough to fix dishes of ice cream and collapse back on the sofa, discussing various Star Wars theories like "What if Vader had caught Luke on Hoth?" and "What if Yoda had already been dead when Luke arrived on Dagobah?" Harry's last theory of "What if Vader had found Luke when he was small?" made Hermione pull out a quill and parchment. He allowed her to write furiously for about twenty minutes before he asked Cassius for some real food, as he hadn't eaten much at dinner and the ice cream was not sitting well at all.

The two friends spent the rest of the evening together, well past curfew, while Hermione wrote out a story in which Luke had lost his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen at the small age of five, and through some fluke, had managed to be transferred to an orphanage just a week before Lord Vader made a state visit for the cameras and Empire propaganda. She even let Harry read it before he and Hermione had to sneak through the hallways and into Gryffindor Tower at two o'clock in the morning, giggling and avoiding Mrs. Norris on her prowl.

Since that night with Hermione, his mood had improved a bit. It was still day by day, and sometimes, hour by hour to work at it, but it was happening. He went flying when he felt a little low and allowed Cassius to remind him to eat if Harry was drifting and ignoring the world. Cassius turned out to be extremely helpful, reminding his young charge of his earlier words of enjoying the life he had. Cassius was always there to give him suggestions about ways to manage his feelings, and even went running with him in the pre-dawn light. The first run turned out to be absolutely miserable for Harry, considering he had slacked off of his running since school had started, but he was starting to gain back some of his stamina, even in spite of the cold. It was bitterly cold in the mornings now, but a cup of hot tea was always waiting on him when they returned from their exercise sessions.

Hermione was by his side most of the time to offer her support (although she declined to join them for their exercise sessions), and he and Hermione had started a Star Wars club for Hogwarts students. Only Muggleborns and Halfbloods had joined it at this point, but the group met once a week to discuss their favorite parts of the movies and the books. Some of the students had novels about Star Wars, and others, like Hermione, wrote their own stories. Harry had discovered that other students around him loved the movies and could quote entire scenes with him. Justin could do a pretty good Yoda impression which confused several Pureblood students when they had passed the table where the club was sitting. "Not the club you're looking for," Hermione said, waving her hand like Obi-wan Kenobi. The group of purebloods looked even more confused at that and the entire club ended up laughing for a good five minutes about their confusion, reenacting the scene a few times for fun. It was good to have friends that liked what he liked, and didn't think it odd for him to know about things from the Muggle world. Things weren't perfect, and he still felt poorly from time to time, but overall, it was getting better.

Now, he was just enjoying the solitude of the empty hallways and trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He felt as though things were coming together and falling apart at the same time. The message from Robinson was annoying, as there hadn't been any more detail forthcoming and hadn't had any follow up to that message.

Also concerning was the fact that the Dark Lord hadn't called for him in the past few weeks. He wanted to go and see the man to see what was happening, but then again, that was an easy way to get caught if he wasn't careful. He never knew what we would be walking into when visiting the Dark Lord. It could very well be something he truly didn't want to see or experience, and according to Robinson's last message to him, there were followers who were not pleased with the Dark Lord or the direction that things were going.

Harry paused at the top of the stairwell and wasn't sure what to do. Was he sleepy? No, not really. Maybe a cup of tea. He wandered down the staircase towards the kitchen and hoped he wouldn't wake anyone. It was just after midnight, and he hoped that no house elves would wake up to help him. He could manage a kettle over a fire just fine. Halfway down the staircase, a small door lit with torchlight opened in the wall. It seemed that Hogwarts was giving him a short cut. A quick little trip down the stairs brought him directly into the kitchen itself, where the fires were lit on the stove. He found a kettle easily, filled it with water, and set it on the stove to heat. While he was waiting, a small team of elves appeared, all smiling at him. "May we help Harry Potter?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake anyone…"

"No, no. Harry Potter. We are the night shift. We work all night, and then some elves work during the day. We come to do the daily baking and the cleaning in the hallways when wizards aren't around." The lead house elf glanced at the stove and then smiled at Harry. "Harry Potter wants tea!" What happened next was a little astonishing. One house elf nudged Harry towards a set at what would normally be the Gryffindor table, another dashed into another room, another gathered dishes, and the oldest one (and the one that had spoken to Harry) made the water boil. Within just two minutes, Harry had a cup of tea steeping in front of him and a plate of biscuits at his hand. The older elf simply patted him on the arm as he passed and Harry sat back as half of the elves set to work in the kitchen, while the other half disappeared, presumably to work in the hallways. Harry settled in with his tea cup and took a biscuit. Some calories now would not go amiss. After three biscuits and as many cups of tea, Harry thanked the house elves several times over and left the kitchen behind.

"Master Harry," Cassius melted out of the stonework and joined him in the hallway.

"Hello, Cassius." He said softly, walking in the dark.

"Perhaps it is time for you to go to bed?" He questioned. Harry paused for a few seconds before finally nodding.

"Good idea. I think the tea the house elves gave me is making me a little sleepy." Cassius simply tipped his head once and walked Harry up to his dorm room. By the time they were there, Harry was suspecting something additional was in his tea cup. He changed for bed and dropped into the blankets, muttering a sleepy good night as Cassius pulled the curtains shut around him. He could see Cassius high five a house elf through the crack of the material hanging around him. It's a conspiracy he had time to think before he drifted off to sleep.

It turned out the tea had been just a special blend that was made to help people get to sleep easier. Nothing conspiratorial had happened other than Cassius making the suggestion to a house elf about which tea to serve young Master Harry. Now, there was a cup waiting for Harry every night, just after he closed his school books for the night. Usually, Cassius made sure there was enough for his friends as well, and sometimes, even the biscuits were included. It ended up being a nice way to transition from schoolwork to bedtime, gathered around the fire and pondering how to get the recipe from the house elves to share with his aunt. He had a feeling Dudley would like these biscuits.

Afterwards, instead of wandering the halls with insomnia, he was more apt to fall asleep after just a little while in bed. Many days passed this way and suddenly Harry found that the first of October was upon them, and with that, a surprise announcement at breakfast.

Minerva McGonagall stood and cleared her throat, which caused all of the students to pause in their meals and look up at her. "Thank you for your attention this morning, students. I wish to announce several upcoming activities for the month of October which will all ultimately lead to our first annual masquerade dance. Please see your common room bulletin board for details and sign-up sheets concerning our first talent show here at Hogwarts, as well as club sports. Club sports teams will be made up of players of all houses and will not compete for the House Cup. These are merely teams for fun. If you have any questions, your Head of House will be able to help."

Voices broke out around them, excited about the talent show and the sports teams. Dean Thomas immediately started making noise about a football team and dashed off to check the bulletin board posting to see if football was offered at all. Harry hoped so. He had played a few games at St. Jude's and enjoyed it. Maybe he would join the games as well and get some more exercise. He mentioned it to Hermione and she nodded, but then shared her own opinion.

"Well, I think you should sign up for the talent show," Hermione said from next to him, writing on a piece of parchment. Did she ever quit studying?

"Oh, really?" He said in response, nibbling on his toast. "Why do you think that?"

"You could do a soliloquy," Hermione said absently. Her nose was so far in a book that Harry was concerned it would never emerge. A glance at the page made him blink; huh...he had no idea what that was even supposed to be. Where did her parchment go?

"I don't think that's a good idea," Harry said.

"Why not?" Neville asked. "Lots of people will just goof off on stage. From what I hear, you're a good actor." Harry gave Hermione a sideways glance at this, but her nose was still in the book, ignoring him.

"My talents are being exaggerated." He said, shaking his head.

"It'll be fun." Neville said. "I think I might do a plant show of some kind…" Neville's thoughts turned inward and Harry swallowed the last bit of toast. He gathered up his bag and headed towards class, grateful for the escape from his friends. He had a feeling that this wouldn't be the last he heard of it.

He was right. It seemed that everyone was extremely excited about the talent show. Professor Flitwick took points during Charms class since he had been interrupted more than five times about charms that students could use for their various talents. He had warned them all that class was class - and then they continued to ask for charms. After being interrupted so many times, he informed them that office hours would be sufficient for their needs should they feel the need to do so, but that they must focus on class now.

No one made a peep in Professor Snape's class. The man barely made eye contact as he stalked about the classroom. The class did start off with a simple warning that any discussions of anything outside of their potions curriculum for the day would result in detentions for the rest of the school term. Everyone took him at his word and not a whisper was heard for the entire class. Harry had never been more relieved to be released for his free period before lunch.

He headed outside for his free period and cast a warming charm on himself as he settled beneath the tree. Sunshine always helped his mood and he found himself wanting to enjoy outside more. That, and it was as far from the library as he could get at the moment. He knew Hermione had to be prowling the stacks of the library by now.

He jumped when he noticed Cassius sitting beside him. "Isn't sunlight bad for vampires?" Harry asked him.

"Is sitting on the ground expressly forbidden?" He returned, quirking an eyebrow at Harry.

"No." Harry snapped back.

"Well then." Cassius placed his hands behind his head and leaned back against the tree right next to Harry. The pair sat in silence for a while. Harry listened to the birds around them and then pulled out one of his textbooks to read for his next lesson. He always found that reading ahead in the textbook helped him understand the classes better. Skye from St. Jude's had taught him that little trick when he was attempting to catch up to the other students. He still used it here at Hogwarts, now that he was focused on working on his grades. He let his other hand trail in the grass for a few minutes as he read his next lesson and then paused when he felt parchment under his fingertips. He looked down and saw it was a letter addressed to him.

"A letter from your father," Cassius told him. "You missed your owl. She was extremely unimpressed with your ignoring her when she made the delivery.

"Thank you, Cassius. I'll have to visit her with some treats later. I was really focused on my reading." Harry said, setting his book aside.

"That you's good to see you more yourself these last few days." Cassius told him.

"I'm not one hundred percent yet, but I'm starting to feel better." He shared as he picked up the letter and broke the seal. Beautiful script written in blue ink traveled down the page.

Dear Son,

I hope that you are well, and that life at school is everything you wanted it to be. I still felt unsure about your plans to return to the wizards, but it is what you wanted…

I have had contact with almost all of the people you met at your party this summer, and can I humbly say, you made me very proud with your deportment and the results that came from the meetings. Almost everyone has requested future meetings with you for their own magical communities and have invited us for a visit. My child, I am arranging your grand tour with great anticipation. I have spoken to your aunt and advisor and they have agreed that a gap year may do you some good after you finish at Hogwarts. I am eager to show you the wider world - if you would like that, of course. We'll start with summer in France...the places in Paris I have to show you - I'm sure you'll love it.

Of course, we'll have to stop by the dignitaries' offices when we arrive in their country, but sometimes, having a friend in that country is all to the good. They can take you places you would never have sought out yourself...and they keep you away from the tourist traps as well. I spent close to a decade in Paris a few years back. It's a delightful place.

Cassius tells me that you're having a bit of trouble sleeping. Please consult the school nurse about the issue; if it continues, I will send your doctor to you. The same with your eating, my child. You must take care of yourself. I know you may find it difficult, but use the resources around you. Cassius, the school nurse, your friends. A great many people care about you.

I wanted to let you know that I'll be joining your school for your first annual masquerade. Cassius informed me of the upcoming event and I couldn't pass up the chance to see Hogwarts. I did receive an invitation, but I'm not sure about the host….do you know who sent me the invitation? Either way, I have given my response that I will be there. It'll give me a chance to check on my child.

With love,

Your Father, Vlad

Harry stared at the letter for a few minutes, and then folded it back into its envelope. A visit from his adopted father while at school? What could go wrong? Sooo much, and you know it, Potter. His mind told him in a whisper.

"What does your father say?" Cassius's voice broke Harry out of his thoughts.

"Oh...something about a grand tour, dignitaries, and he is coming to the masquerade…." Harry gathered his schoolbooks up and shoved them into his bag. "Guess I'm going to have to figure out what I'm going to wear…" He muttered to himself.

"Oh...let me. Maybe something from that book that got turned into a musical?" Cassius said.

Harry stopped and blinked at him. "Which one?" He asked. He couldn't help but laugh a bit at Cassius's blank face.

"Wait, there's more than one?" The vampire asked in confusion.

"You're how old, again?" Harry asked, walking away. "Surely you've seen a musical or two?"

"I? A musical? Men and women standing around and singing in each other's faces?" Cassius gave a theatrical shiver. "Not for me, Master Harry...never." Harry laughed and started up the hill towards the school, listening to Cassius grumble about how he would never set foot in a theater for such a purpose. Harry thought about the suggestion of basing his masquerade choice on a musical and grinned. "I don't like that look, Master Harry…" Cassius said with a suspicious tone.

"I know what I am going to choose, and I think Hermione may be interested in it as well." Harry said.

Cassius leaned against the stone wall of the corridor and studied Harry. "Oh? Do tell."

"Nah...I want to see if she's willing first, or if she has another idea. I'm going to go find her." Harry waved to Cassius and slipped through one of the secret passages Hogwarts herself made for him. He came out of the passage directly in front of the library and slipped inside. He found Hermione with a barricade of books stacked up around her, her quill scribbling across the parchment in front of her. Her hair had gone frizzy and wild, which meant she had been running her hands through her hair while reading.

"Hey, Mi." Harry said softly as he dropped into the seat next to her.

"Hey, yourself." She said in response. "You alright?" She asked.

"Fine, thanks. Did you have an idea of what you're going to wear to the masquerade?" He asked.

"Ugh...not yet. I thought of a few things, but honestly...I haven't decided. Some of the ideas are strictly Muggle, and I don't fancy spending half the evening telling most of the school what I'm supposed to be and then they still wouldn't understand it because they don't have the cultural context." She paused for a moment. "It's extremely frustrating being stuck between two worlds."

"Have you thought of inviting Victor?" Harry asked, pulling out his own schoolbooks and nudging a few of hers aside to give him space to work.

"Hmmm. I think you have a plan in mind." Hermione said, mischief in her eyes.

"A plan?" Harry couldn't help smiling at her. "Whatever gave you that idea?"

"Tell me!" Hermione hissed in a whisper. "Any help you could give would be extremely welcome. I am floundering a bit." She admitted to him.

Harry smiled, pulled a scrap of parchment towards him, and wrote out a title of a book that he knew Hermione would know. She studied the title with a frown of confusion and then hugged him.

"Perfect!" She said in response. "Wait...why do we need Victor?" She asked.

"I can't play two different people, Hermione. Besides, I want someone at your side for the whole of the evening. I'm going to be busy…"

"If you think you're going to use that idea to scare the living daylights out of people, Harry James Potter-"

"Let me live a little!" They were shortly tossed out of the library due to excessive noise. Cassius could only snicker at Hermione's indignation at having been removed from the library and banned for the weekend. Harry had to wonder how Cassius had managed to find him and why the vampire wouldn't leave him alone.

"Let me remain a little mysterious," Cassius told him in response to Harry's repeated pleas to learn how he did it. "Besides, you have other things to worry about…"

"What do you mean?"

"Let me remain a little mysterious."

Harry jerked awake and sighed. While it had been some time since Voldemort had called him, he had hoped that Voldemort would realize that 1) Harry was young and needed sleep, 2) Harry had to sneak out of school, and 3) middle of the night calls made everything difficult. "I'm coming, I'm coming." Harry grumbled under his breath. He yawned and stretched as he got out of bed. "He's going to wait on me." He mumbled to himself as he walked into the bathroom. It was definitely the middle of the night. Just after two in the morning, from what a Tempus spell told him. "Ugh." Harry didn't want to be awake right now.

He splashed some water on his face and ran his hands through his hair. He stumbled back into the dormitory and rummaged in his chest for some clothes. His tired brain caught up with him. Where was Cassius? "Cassius?" He whispered. The vampire did not appear. Harry shrugged to himself. Maybe he finally cornered Snape somewhere. Harry shuddered and didn't allow his thoughts to go beyond that. He did not want to know what the vampire got up to while Harry was sleeping. He really didn't want to know. Ignorance is bliss.

Harry gathered everything he needed and slipped down the stairs and out of Gryffindor Tower. Hogwarts made things easy for him and created a passageway that led right out of the building and opened up just outside the gates. He called up his guise as Tom and pulled on his Death Eater robes. He placed his mask and then went to Voldemort.

Upon arriving, he had to pause. There was no one else around. No other Death Eaters that he could see. He went inside the house and saw darkened hallways. He reached out with his magic and discovered that Voldemort was the only person in the house. Harry went down the hallway and then up the stairs towards the bedrooms. Everything was dark and quiet, and Harry reached out with his magic to try to figure out what was going on. Hmm. No threat that he could detect - at least, not through magic. He went to Voldemort's bedroom and rapped on the door. A weak "Come in" filtered through the door. Harry opened the door and stepped inside. The room was dimly lit, but he could see the figure in the bed clear enough.

"Sir?" He asked, confused.

"My child!" The voice sounded happy, and Harry moved forward to look at the person in the bed. Harry wasn't sure who this person was, but he was not the Voldemort he knew. He looked...ill. Drained.

"Hello, sir."

"My child...what are you doing here?" Voldemort sat up in bed and shifted so that he was facing Harry.

"You called me, sir." Harry said in response, slightly confused.

"Did I?" Voldemort said, more to himself than to Harry. "I did, yes. I was thinking about you. Must have called you. Now what was it?" Harry closed his eyes. I did this. He thought. I ruined his mind.

"Do you recall last summer?" Voldemort asked suddenly.

"When you offered me lessons?" Harry asked in response. "Yes, sir, I do."

"Do you remember that I used to punish you?" The man asked softly, as though he was afraid to hear the answer. Harry looked him over once, anger spiking at his punishments that were full out torture sessions.


Voldemort's face winced at Harry's answer. "You have every right to be angry with me." Voldemort said, surprising Harry. "I...regret what I did to you. How I treated you." Voldemort said, reaching out to take Harry's hand. "I apologize for hurting mind isn't what it was, is it?"

"I'm afraid not, sir." Harry said. Voldemort didn't say anything for a long while, just holding onto Harry's hand. Silence settled around them, broken only by the creaking of the old house around them. It was chilly in the room. Of course, it was early October; it was becoming colder and colder at night. "Would you like me to light a fire, sir?" Harry asked the man.

"A fire?" Voldemort asked. "Yes, please...that would be nice. I tried...earlier…" Voldemort's voice faded away into silence again. Harry looked over at the fireplace and saw logs stacked haphazardly there. He reached out with his magic and rearranged the logs. A thought later and the room was not as dark with the fire in the grate burning. A few cracks and pops made Voldemort jerk.

"Sir?" Harry moved his chair so that he was was perpendicular to the bed. "I'm going to try something to help your head. Can you rest back against your pillows?" Voldemort followed the request and sighed, allowing his eyes to slip closed. Harry entered the man's mind and had to swallow hard as he looked around. It's worse than before he thought as he studied the holes and gaps he had seen before. Some of the edges appeared blackened, and some of it was inflamed as though infected. He's in pain. Harry called up his magic and tried to describe what he wanted to do. The response was unenthusiastic, as though Harry was wasting time and energy on a cause too far gone. Please. He watched as several places started to light up around him. Some of the inflammation died away before his eyes, but most of the blackened areas remained.

He opened his eyes to see Voldemort studying him. "You did something." He said softly. "I feel...clearer."

"Yes...I'm not sure how much help it will be, but it may make you feel better." Harry told him.

"Thank you, child." Voldemort closed his eyes and Harry felt him slip into sleep. Harry stood softly. Okay, Fates...what am I waiting for from him? Harry was still waiting to be able to end everything, including the prophecy. He was tired.

He set a protective ward around the fire to ensure that the house wouldn't burn down in case Voldemort's magic made things chaotic and then left the house behind. It was dawn already. How much time had he spent in Voldemort's head? He went back to school and stumbled up the secret passages to Gryffindor dorm, ecstatic to remember that tomorrow (well, today) was Saturday. He could sleep in for a while and not experience his usual zombie-like state. He paused just outside his dorm room and made sure his robes were not Death Eater robes. He slipped through the dorm room and into his bed, sighing as he relaxed. It was time to sleep. Sleep was good.

"Master Harry?" Harry was sure he had just closed his eyes. "Master Harry? You need to wake up now." Cassius's voice said from beside his bed.

"No," Harry muttered and rolled over. He was not moving from his bed.

"You have an appointment and must get up. Please don't make me dress you. I know you don't enjoy that." Harry opened one eye and glared at Cassius.

"I do not have an appointment." Harry argued, burying himself back into his blankets.

"Yes, you do. There's breakfast…" Cassius's voice turned sing-song, as though food would make Harry leave his bed.

"Is there coffee?" He grumbled.

"Of course." Cassius sounded offended. "What do you take me for, an idiot?" Cassius paused and then said "Don't answer that."

Harry snorted and sat up. He blinked a few times. "I'm only getting up because there is coffee." Harry yawned, stretched, and got out of bed. "Do I have time for a shower?" He asked.

"Yes," Cassius sounded amused. Harry arched an eyebrow at the vampire, but when no further commentary came, Harry gathered his shower things and went into the bathroom. He took a cold shower to wake himself up and then got dressed. He fought with his hair and then gave up the comb to Cassius; somehow, he was able to tame Harry's hair for him. Vampire magic. It has to be vampire magic. Harry stumbled after the vampire down the stairs and out of the dormitory.

"So, where are we going?" He asked. He was finally awake enough to be curious.

"An appointment. This way." Fine. Be all mysterious...I don't care. Maybe I can take a nap later. A nap would be great.

"Here we are. I'll leave you now, Master Harry. Your appointment is in there. I'm not needed." With those words, Cassius turned and then was gone from Harry's sight.

"Vampires are weird." Harry commented to the air. He didn't care if Cassius heard him or not. Vampires were weird. Harry decided that there was nothing that he could do but keep the appointment that Cassius seemed to have made for him. He rapped on the door and went into the room.

"Hello, Harry." The voice was familiar, warm, and overall, so very welcome.

Author's Note 2: I plan on updating again soon. Grad school is over and now I'm writing again. Thanks for reading!