Title: Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Chapter: 4. Tea and Psychopaths
Keywords: Harry, Voldemort, amnesia, post-war.
Archive: Slytherin Serpent
Summary: In a high security ward at St. Mungo's sits Lord Voldemort, his magic sapped and his memory gone. His blank features light up as he sees one and only visitor, The Boy Who lived. The Wizengamot says Voldemort can be rehabilitated but Harry knows otherwise.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Warner Bros. and or JK Rowling.
AN: Thank to everyone who reviewed this fic, I know I have quite neglected it but you have kept me going even when I wanted to give up!
"I feel that the Ministry is not being entirely honest with me."
What am I supposed to tell him?
If Harry has not been repeatedly reassured by Alastor Moody that Voldemort no longer has any Legilimency skills, he would have squeezed his eyes shut and bolted out of the door. Even so, he couldn't shake off the same creepy feeling of having his insides raked by those dark green eyes.
"I don't think they have been dishonest with you," said Harry in what he liked to think was a nonchalant tone.
"Really, so there's nothing the ministry has 'forgot' to mention?" asked Voldemort, his steepled fingers peeling apart one by one in a classically villainous manner.
"Um, not that I can remember…"
Voldemort smiled thinly and picked up a canapé,
"You're lying Harry, you never were a good liar."
The past tense brought a familiar prickling feeling to the back of Harry's neck. Slowly Harry turned to look Voldemort straight in the eye,
"And how would you know that?"
"I can tell," replied Voldemort simply. "Whatever it is that you are hiding from me, I'm sure you have a good reason but whatever reason that is, it is not good enough to lie to me."
Pausing to eat the canapé, Voldemort's eyes bored into Harry's until he almost felt the back of his skull burning.
"I think I will lay down some ground rules right now," continued Voldemort in full control of the conversation. "I realised you have been raised by muggles in a most neglectful environment and perhaps they have failed to instil a sense of respect in you. I however will not tolerate any disrespect, so let me make everything very clear to you:
'You will not lie to me, you will not challenge me, disobey me or otherwise antagonise me in any way. When I speak to you, I expect to addressed as 'sir' or grandfather, nothing else. You shall not interrupt me or speak back to me unless I give you permission. When I ask you to do something I expect to be obeyed immediately."
I guess you can take the man away from darkness but you'll never take the darkness away from the man…especially this guy, thought Harry as he held Voldemort's gaze as best he could without flinching. It was even harder than having a staring contest with a hippogriff. A part of him, the teenage rebellious part, wanted very much to scream every single abusive phrase known to man but for once in his life, Harry's nerve deserted him.
Every survival instinct in his mind was crying out for him to told his tongue and for the first time Harry felt a small grain of sympathy for Peter Pettigrew as he imagined having to stand up to Lord Voldemort in all his menacing glory.
This man was not to be trifled with.
"I understand," muttered Harry hoping that he sounded contrite enough to pass this test.
"Very well, I won't pursue this matter any further."
A warm charming smile returned to Voldemort's new face and he gestured to the plate of canapés.
"Do have some, Harry, they are delectable."
In the kitchen of the Burrow, Fred and George Weasley were busy peeling a sack of potatoes with their wands.
"How do you think Harry's getting on with you-know-what?" said Fred causally as he dumped another potato in the pot.
"I dunno but I won't be surprised if the ministry find his mutilated body inside a giant snake," replied George grimly.
"Well," snapped Hermione as she poked her head into the kitchen, "you are optimistic,"
"When are you're parents coming back from Australia?" demanded Fred
"Yes, are they attempting to walk back to Britain?" asked George
Far too used to the twins' unique sense of humour Hermione simply did her best impression of Snape's evil leer.
"I'm going to visit Harry tomorrow, do you want to come? I'm sure if we pressurised Tom Riddle he'll cave in. He does seem rather a soft touch these days."
The twins exchanged worried glances,
"What is it with women and -"
"-Dark Lords? Next thing you know -,"
"- there'll be a Tom Riddle fan club with posters of him half naked on a bed of rose petals."
"Well," said Hermione with a wicked smile, "I'm sure your mother will be the president of that particularly club."
Before the twins could get their wands into duelling positions, Hermione promptly disarmed them both with an elegant flick of her wrist.
"Your mum," she continued nonchalantly, "also wants the pair of you to come with Ron and I to Riddle manor. She thinks it would be good for you to be exposed to some culture,"
By the identical looks of pure disgust on the twin's faces, it was quite clear the word culture was synonymous with evil in their unique vocabulary.
"We are not going!" they cried in unison.
"Sorry, boys, take that up with your mum," replied Hermione smugly as she tossed their wands back to them.
Two hours and a very heavy meal later, Ron, Hermione and two identically disgruntled twins stood on the doorstep of a magnificent Georgian country house.
"Well, no matter what you think of him -,"
"You-know-who's got style!"
Hermione paused to shoot a warning glare in the twin's direction before using the lion head knockers attached to the double oak doors. To their surprise the doors swung open silently and they were greeted with the sight of the sparkling marble entrance hall.
"That is creepy," muttered Ron as he glanced at the doors warily. "Where is everyone?"
No one wanted to enter the house, because they all distrusted the innocent facade but as the seconds ticked by the small party of four was starting look increasingly stupid standing on the granite steps, staring through the pair of open doors.
"You can come in, you know," said the amused disembodied voice of Tom Riddle.
Everyone jumped with fright but Fred and George refused to admit to it afterwards.
"Okay," squeaked Hermione looking around wildly for the source of the voice, "thanks!"
"We are in the conservatory having afternoon tea," replied Tom Riddle, "do come and join us."
Fred and George exchanged silent glances and pulled their wands out of their sleeves with grim determination, only to be met by a look of pure exasperation from Hermione.
"Honestly," she whispered, "if Tom Riddle really wanted a fight I don't think anything short of a nuclear warhead will stop him."
Marching confidently through the front door, Hermione soon found herself utterly lost in the vast marble entrance hall. Four identical oak doors stood on each side of the room in perfect symmetry and she had no idea which on to open. Ron solved this particularly problem by pulling open the nearest set of doors and poking his head cautiously behind the door.
"Nope this on looks like it goes to the basement," he muttered, "and I never want to go down there."
"Use the door on your left, my dear," said the disembodied voice of Tom Riddle, "go down the corridor and you'll see us."
"Blimey!" whispered Ron, as if he was afraid that speaking too loudly would cause the Dark Lord to materialise in front of them, "why does he keep doing that?"
No one bothered to answer him as they made their way through the airy well lit corridor into the back of the house.
Harry was trying hard not to drop the fragile china cup and saucer in his hand, whilst maintaining a calm cultured air. It was much harder than he had first imagined. After listening to the Dark Lord laying down the law, he was beginning to think inviting guest over for tea was not going to be a good idea.
"Hi Hermione," he said, "Hi Ron, Fred, George,"
"We are so happy you decided to drop by,"
Voldemort's voice was all charm and sophistication as he indicated for the guests to take their places around the ornate table filled with scones, cakes and finger sandwiches. Hermione returned the platitudes with good grace whilst the three Weasley boys eyed the delectable edibles in front of them with a mixture of greed and fear.
"Do help yourselves," continued Voldemort cheerfully, "Harry was just telling how wonderful your mother's cooking is and I do hope these trifles will live up to your standards."
"Er...thanks," muttered George uncomfortably.
"Yeah, thanks" said Fred taking the plunge and pulling out a finger sandwich. Ron simply stared back at Voldemort with forced smile and said quietly,
" 'm not really hungry."
"Nonsense," replied Voldemort as the plate of freshly bakes scones floated into Ron's line of sight, "I do insist you try one of everything."
Harry tensed automatically, in the vain hope that Ron would notice his discomfort and discreetly drop his scone under the table when Voldemort wasn't looking.
"Now, you young people must tell me all about the things that have happened at Hogwarts while I was away," said Voldemort eagerly. "I must have missed out on some very exciting adventures these last few years."
For several moments an uncomfortable silence hung over the room, punctured only by Fred's not too subtle cough.
"I promise not to tell anything to your professors," said Voldemort with a laugh, "It might be hard to believe but I was young once and I wasn't a perfect student."
"So, you remember when you were at Hogwarts," asked Harry, trying to keep the shock of from his voice.
"Alas, no but I don't believe I was a teacher's pet, even if Horace Slughorn refuses to portray me as anything but!"
"Well," replied Hermione cautiously, "Professor Slughorn does have a tendency to see the best in everyone. Is he coming back to teach next year?"
"Well I do believe so." Voldemort sipped his tea thoughtfully and then took a refined bite of his finger sandwich. "He did tell me he was very eager to be the head of Slytherin now that Severus has decided to retire from teaching."
The twins exchanged identical looks of malicious delight but Hermione seemed worried.
"Do you think the ministry is going to charge Prof. Snape with murder?" she asked tentatively. "I mean Dumbledore did say in his will that Prof. Snape had done everything as he had ordered. Dumbledore wasn't going to live for much longer and he wanted his death to serve a purpose."
Voldemort considered Hermione over the top of his flowery tea cup with Tom Riddle's bright green eyes.
"I'm sure Severus will be given a fair hearing," he said neutrally, "but it seems rather dark to be talking about such things during afternoon tea."
"Yes, of course," said Hermione rather too quickly, "I'm sure it would be much more appropriate to talk about more light hearted things,"
"Horace tell me that you children have been getting up to all sorts of antics in your years at Hogwarts," continued Voldemort clearly fishing for more details.
Harry pressed his lips tightly together and braced his teacup in front of his face like shield. There was no telling what powers of mind reading the Dark Lord still possessed and the fact that Voldemort was interested in what they had done, no matter how innocent it sounded, was bad news.
"Well," muttered Ron, "we just got up to the same old stuff everyone did, got out of bed after lights out, stole some stuff from the potions cupboard -,"
"-blew up a toilet," added the twins in unison,
"-blew up an exam hall," said Hermione rather sternly.
Voldemort laughed lightly, his face filled with sincere amusement. It really made the visage of Tom Riddle look much younger and more carefree than Harry had believed possible.
"Well you have been busy but," his tone changed suddenly to something much more serious; all vestiges of amusement evapourated from his features, "the last year of school is a very important time for all you and I'm sure you all have great ambitions for the future, I know Harry does,"
The twins turned to look at Harry with matching smirks,
"Still keeping the dream alive?" asked Fred cheekly,
"Yeah we support you," said George
"You'd make one fine drag queen," they laughed in unison. Harry scowled at them with annoyance but Voldemort was smiling indulgently at their immature joke.
"I want to be an auror," snapped Harry,
"Well, you will need excellent grades to do that," replied Voldemort without missing a beat, "and you Ronald, your mother tells me you would like to become a hit wizard. All these careers require hard work and dedication as well as good academics. Next year will be the year where your futures are determined and I'm afraid if you wish to succeed there will be very little time for blowing up toilets."
"Actually -," started Hermione who really wanted to clear her name with regards to the toilet debacle, which was entirely Fred and George's fault.
"Seriously though," said Fred in what sounded like a sincerely stern voice, "I want you guys to turn out better than us,"
"Yeah, having no NEWTs makes people look down on you and limits your opportunites," supplied George sounding equally serious.
Ron looked both bewildered and annoyed at being lectured by his delinquent brothers but before he could call anyone a prat, a grandfather clock somewhere in the building started to chime.
"Oh dear is that really the time?" asked Voldemort sounding incredulously like the pompous if harmless Professor Slughorn, "You children really must go home for dinner before Molly has my head."
Voldemort's casual use of Mrs Weasley's name set Harry's teeth on edge and took great pleasure in imagining a physical fight between Ron's mother and the Dark Lord. Ron's mum, he decided, would definitely win especially after she got her fingers into Voldemort's eye sockets.
"Thank you so much for accommodating us," said Hermione politely whilst the Weasleys muttered their thanks in much less coherent tones.
Voldemort smiled his usual charming smile and walked Harry's friends to the door still chatting amicably like he was their old friend too.
Once they were finally alone in the grand entrance hall, Harry turned to scrutinize his enemy. Voldemort – Tom Riddle – was staring intently up at the skylight which illuminated the marble floor in a beautiful pattern of bright colours. He seemed almost peaceful, contemplating the rays of sunshine streaming through the glass. It was hard to believe that only a few months ago, Harry had been standing in the ruined courtyard at Hogwarts facing down this monster in a duel to the death.
Suddenly without warning, Voldemort turn around and in the split second their eyes met Harry felt the subtle intrusion of Voldemort's mind into his own. A flash of images too quick for him to see raced across his vision and Voldemort stepped back looking startled. As Harry pulled his mind back to the physical realm he focused in on Voldemort. He saw just for a moment a strange flicker of fear and more worryingly a flicker of deeper recognition.
AN: Please review, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and everything else!