If At First You Don't Succeed…
At some point in his life Albus Dumbledore had become utterly convinced that Harry Potter was the only person who would be able to defeat Voldemort, and vice versa.
Harry, however, was becoming less and less certain of this as he got older.
During his sixth year, he was given training from various Aurors, professors and experts in the hope that this would allow him to fight the Dark Lord and triumph.
Personally he would have just been thrilled to be able to survive such an encounter, but no one was really listening to what he wanted.
A week into Harry's seventh year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore deemed him 'as prepared as possible' and sent him off to his doom.
Surprising no one but himself, Harry survived. Unfortunately for some, so did Voldemort, and it turned out that the Avada Kedavra curse wouldn't work on either of them – at least from one another, and no one else was game enough to try.
For the next few months, Harry kept being sent out to 'defeat' the Dark Lord, Dumbledore seeing him off each time with a cheery "I'm sure you'll succeed this time, my dear boy. Would you like a sherbet lemon before you leave?"
Needless to say, Harry did not want a sherbet lemon. In fact, all he really wanted was to be left in peace to finish out his last year at school.
It was nearly Christmas before things finally began to change for the better.
Harry watched his wand fly from his hand across the room with a resigned sigh. He looked over at the Dark Lord who had just disarmed him.
Voldemort hadn't even bothered catching the wand, just as Harry hadn't tried to keep hold of it. In fact, he looked just as bored as Harry felt.
This prompted Harry to try the new tactic he had been considering for a month or so. "What would happen if I just, you know, gave up?"
The Dark Lord raised a thankfully-restored eyebrow at him, looking mildly interested. "I imagine I would just get on with reorganising the wizarding world and leave you in peace to live your life. Why? Are you considering it?"
"Yes, actually. I'm sick of this! It's obvious that nothing is going to give; that neither of us will ever win a duel between us. Not in a permanent sense, anyway. Dumbles won't even listen to me; he just keeps sending me out on hopeless missions!"
"The way I see it, Harry," Voldemort began, conjuring two black leather armchairs and gesturing for Harry to sit opposite the one he took himself. "You have three options, and each one has its good and bad points."
Harry sat and nodded for the Dark Lord to continue.
"Option one, you stay where you are. You attempt to finish your education while the Headmaster sends you here week after week to participate in this stalemate. Eventually, you either go mad and kill him, or you manage to graduate and then go mad and kill him."
"You seem awfully sure I'm going to go mad and kill him," Harry mentioned, amused.
Voldemort shrugged. "You disagree?"
"Oh no, I'm almost positive you're right. I was just pointing it out."
"I see…anyway, option two, you give up. You leave Hogwarts, find yourself a nice little place somewhere in the Muggle world, and forget we ever existed. Of course, I think you'll die of boredom, not to mention that your friends will hate you for abandoning them to a madman."
Harry snickered. "Glad you can admit to that. What's my last option?"
Voldemort smirked at him. "Join me. Most of your friends will probably still hate you, but it will really piss Dumbles off. It would put an end to all these pointless attempts to kill one another, you could be my co-Dark Lord and have a say in things, not to mention that you wouldn't be bored."
"You had me at 'piss Dumbles off'," Harry said with a grin. "But I want to give you a nickname."
"What? No! Why?"
Harry shrugged, still grinning. "All my friends have nicknames, and I've secretly been calling you Voldie since summer."
"Call me Voldie again and I'll kick your arse."
"I'd like to see you try."
"So would I," a voice told them from the door. "But I'm going to suggest Tom, Lord Harry."
Harry turned and gave the innocent-looking Lucius Malfoy an amused smirk. "Thank you Lucius, I think that works nicely." He ignored Tom's half-hearted protests. "I have to ask, though, do you make a habit of eavesdropping?"
"Yes. I do. It's in my job description."
"No it isn't," Tom said with a frown. "I'm fairly damn sure I'd remember that, Lucius."
Lucius smiled innocently. "Oh? My mistake, m'lords. I'll try to be less obvious about it in the future."
"Oh good!" Harry said with a cheery grin.
Tom looked between the two of them wearily, wondering exactly what he had just let himself in for.
Severus Snape poked his head into the room, curious. "Potter, it's about time we were getting back to the school, are you two done for the day?"
The Dark Lord grinned, which scared him. Lucius, who had perched himself on the arm of Harry's chair, snickered at the expression on his best friend's face.
"Do I even want to know?" Severus asked with a sigh.
Harry stood and walked over to him. "I've switched sides."
The Potions Master rolled his eyes. "Finally. I wish you'd done it sooner, I owe Lupin five Galleons, and Moody seven."
Harry blinked. "You've all been betting on when I'd join Tom's side?"
"Of course. Honestly, Potter, we Order members will bet on anything."
When Harry stepped into the Great Hall, most of the students ignored him. They were, by now, used to Harry wandering in at various times of the day or night.
Usually, Harry would be either exhausted or angry. If he were exhausted, he would be left alone completely to eat his meal and head for bed. If he were angry, the rest of the school's occupants would watch, especially if he chose to vent his frustrations at the Headmaster in the middle of the Hall.
Today, however, those few who looked up noticed the almost manic grin on his face, and quickly drew the attention of their friends to him.
By the time Harry reached the Staff Table and was standing directly in front of the Headmaster's seat, all eyes were on him.
Dumbledore looked up with a benign, hopeful smile, eyes twinkling. "Harry, my boy! You seem to be in a rather chipper mood. Might I inquire as to why?"
Harry's grin turned slightly vindictive. "I quit."
The Headmaster blinked, bewildered. "I'm sorry?"
"I quit," Harry repeated, eyes sparkling maliciously.
"Quit what?" the old man asked him blankly.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Were you always this dense, old man? What is there for me to quit?" When the Headmaster just continued to stare at him uncomprehendingly, Harry gave an impatient sigh. "The war, Dumbles. I'm resigning from being your personal ineffective attack dog."
Dumbledore just continued to blink at him. Harry decided that getting the old man to actually understand what had just happened was either a lost cause or would just take a really long time. He rolled his eyes and turned towards the students, trying to ignore the fact that at least half the staff members were exchanging various amounts of galleons behind him.
"All right, you lot," he called, making sure he had everyone's attention. He'd had it already, of course, but he had to start somehow. "I'm leaving Hogwarts." There were several gasps, and one rather dramatic shriek from Colin Creevey.
"Why?" inquired a first year Hufflepuff.
Harry shrugged. "I doubt the Headmaster will want me around anymore. I've decided to join Voldemort."
There were several more gasps, shrieks, screams and yells, and Colin Creevey collapsed in an even more dramatic faint.
The first year Hufflepuff grinned at him. "Congratulations."
Harry silently decided that he liked this kid, even if he was somewhat insane. "Thank you. Now if you'll all excuse me, the Dark Lord is expecting me back."
"Er, Harry?" Ron called across the Hall. "Could, uh, could we have a word with you before you leave?"
He shrugged. "Sure, why not? Come on." He quickly led his friends out of the Great Hall and into the library. No one said anything along the way, which Harry found amusing.
Once he had led them to a suitably large table near the back of the library, Harry turned to see exactly who had followed him from the Great Hall.
Ron was wearing a mildly curious but mostly calm expression, which was probably confusing the hell out of most of the other people there, who didn't know him as well as Harry.
Hermione was, well, glaring. Pointedly. She was silently demanding an explanation with her eyes, and was not going to let him get away before she received one.
Ginny and Neville were both looking very determined, while Seamus and Dean seemed amused. Harry was willing to bet his entire fortune that at least one of them had money riding on this somehow.
Luna looked as though she had only joined them accidentally, a faintly surprised look on her face as she examined her surroundings. Harry knew she had money on this, and was also fairly damn certain that she wasn't going to lose to anyone.
Draco and Blaise had actually been in the library when they had arrived, and had obviously decided to find out what Harry was up to this time.
Remus was shooting smug looks at Severus, who was ignoring them in favour of being amused in general at Harry's predicament.
Harry, of course, didn't see himself as being in a predicament. He was finding the whole situation rather amusing, himself. And he almost fell laughing out of the chair he had dropped into when he noticed the first year Hufflepuff hovering behind the Potions Master. He didn't, though. He had more self-control than that.
Instead, he just snorted.
The first year Hufflepuff smirked at him in a decidedly Slytherin manner. Harry quirked an eyebrow at him. The boy shrugged.
"Okay, I give," Harry admitted. "Who the hell are you?"
"Rorin Lightfinger. Call me Rory. Or I'll get all choked up. There could be tears."
Oh yes, he really liked this kid. He noticed with interest that Remus had developed a decidedly odd expression on his face upon noticing the boy, and that Severus's eye was twitching.
"Pleased to meet you, Rory. Now, who wants to begin the inquisition?"
Ron raised his hand and waved it. "Oooh, me! Me, Harry! Me!"
Harry blinked at him. "You are enjoying this entirely too much."
"I know, but the twins owe me fifty galleons. Er, if you're serious, that is. So, are you?"
Harry opened his mouth to reply, but before he could speak he found a hand over his mouth. He raised a questioning eyebrow at Remus, who refused to move his hand.
"Don't look at me like that, you incorrigible brat, I know what you were going to say."
"What was he going to say?" Ginny asked, frowning thoughtfully.
Harry employed a foolproof method to remove Remus's hand (he licked it) and replied, trying not to laugh at the sight of the werewolf frantically wiping his hand on Severus's robe. "I was just going to use the –"
"Overused, overworked, wasn't even funny the first time it was said which was probably the day the moron learned to talk…" Remus interjected in a mutter.
Ignoring him, Harry finished. "'No, Sirius was my godfather' line."
Ron gave him a pointed look. "Harry. Are you working for Voldemort now?"
Harry took on a wounded look. "Ron! How could you think such a thing of me?"
"But…you said you…" Hermione managed. "You said!"
"I have joined Voldie. I am going to be his co-Dark Lord. Means I'm not working for him."
Draco groaned. "This means I'll have to take orders from you, doesn't it?"
"Yep!" Harry confirmed chirpily. "But if it makes you feel better, I've already given orders to your father."
"No, Harry, that does not make me feel better," the blond sighed. "Honestly, I've been all but your marked follower for at least a month, and you're giving orders to my dad first?"
Harry stared at the hurt looking Slytherin. "Then why the bloody hell were you complaining about taking orders?"
Draco shrugged. "It's the principle of the thing."
"Slytherins are weird," Rory muttered.
"Yes Rory. Yes we are." Blaise blinked slowly at the boy for a few moments before turning back to Harry. "So what drove you to changing sides?"
Harry snorted. "What, you have to ask?" Upon receiving Hermione's glare of death, he reconsidered. "I'm sick of being sent out with a pat on the head and an encouraging sherbet lemon to try to defeat a man I don't especially hate anymore and can't seem to best in a duel anyway."
Hermione, Harry noticed, looked decidedly put out. "Oh."
Luna, on the other hand, turned to the bushy haired girl with a dreamy but smug smile and a raised eyebrow. "You see, Hermione? I told you it wouldn't have anything to do with Lucius Malfoy's sexy body."
Draco and Harry both managed to choke on air.
"You bet on Harry being attracted to Draco's father?" Remus asked somewhat incredulously.
Hermione nodded, looking a little sheepish. "And now I owe Luna twenty galleons."
Severus snorted. "Don't be so sure."
Draco choked on air again, while everyone else other than Harry turned to Severus. Harry just tried to stop Draco from dying.
Once Severus felt certain that his godson was no longer in danger of suffocation, he turned his own eyes on Harry. "Going to confess the rest of the reason you switched?"
Harry blushed for what was quite possibly the first time in two years, buried his face in his hands and mumbled something unintelligible into them.
"Sorry, Potter, I didn't quite catch that," Severus said innocently. "Did you say something about trout?"
Harry forgot his embarrassment in order to look up and stare at the man in confusion. "How the hell did you get 'trout' from 'Lucius asked me to marry him'?"
For a change in pace, Draco choked on the drink that Ron had just conjured for him. Ron thumped him on the back somewhat harder than was necessary, rolling his eyes at Harry's sense of timing.
Luna was pouting as she pulled twenty galleons out of her pocket and handed them to Hermione. Hermione was grinning brightly.
Seamus and Dean were both accepting money from Blaise, who explained to Remus. "They bet that Harry would change sides and that it would have something to do with his love life. And I, being the genius that I am, thought that Harry would never change sides for such a reason."
Ginny and Neville both seemed torn between resignation and amusement at the whole situation.
Rory seemed to be sulking as he handed several galleons to Severus. "Honestly, Professor, you're quite cruel to be taking advantage of a sweet, innocent little Hufflepuff firstie like this."
Severus rolled his eyes at the boy. "You are neither sweet nor innocent, Mr Lightfinger. And it is your own fault that you owe me money."
"Dare I even ask why?" Harry inquired, eyeing the boy and professor curiously.
Rory shrugged. "I thought you'd go for the Dark Lord, not for his right hand man. We made the bet right at the beginning of the term, after your first showdown."
Harry frowned. "Isn't that cheating though, Severus? You've known about Lucius and I for months."
"I didn't know at the time, Lord Harry," Severus told him, adopting the title Lucius had bestowed upon him earlier in the day. "I merely knew that Lucius thought you were fascinating."
Ron cleared his throat. "Look, we're all ignoring the important issue here."
"We are?" Hermione asked, startled.
"Well, yes," Draco agreed reasonably. "You know I hesitate to agree with the Weasel, but there is one very important thing that we're all forgetting to ask."
"Which is?" Remus prompted.
Ron and Draco exchanged a glance before they turned to Harry and asked it in unison. "When's the wedding?"
Again, I have no excuses. I began this in May. I liked the first few scenes but was never sure how to finish it all off. Still not sure this was the best way, but oh well, I was in a writing mood and felt like kicking a few oneshots out of the in progress folder into the complete folder.