Title: The Bloody Feather
Pairings: Tom/Harry, others
Warnings: Clearly AU, OOCness, child abuse, anti-Dumbledore, pro-Hermione and Ron and Ginny
Summary: Even heroes need a saviour, and when an unknown admirer starts sending Harry letters the summer before his sixth year, it's time for Harry to meet his.
Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: Still a lazy sod, me.
You can thank Firestorm2130 (FFN) for this chapter. She PM'd me saying she was going out of the country for a bit and wondering if I was going to update anytime soon. And I was like, 'Oh. Yeah, I can get you another chapter.' So I unburied my notebook – we recently moved, AGAIN – and got to it.
As always, this chapter is pretty much unbeta'd. Bah.
"Boy, get the door!" 'Vernon' yelled when the doorbell rang, then shot Harry an apologetic look.
Harry shrugged the yelling off – he knew that Riddle hardly meant it – and went to answer the door. "Er... Hi, professors..." he offered uncertainly at the sight of both Dumbledore and Mad-Eye. "Um..."
"Might w come in?" Dumbledore asked with a smile and twinkling eyes.
"Uhm... I suppose?" Harry glanced nervously over his shoulder towards the kitchen.
As if on cue, 'Petunia' stalked out. "Well, who is it, bo– Vernon!"
Harry winced at the high-pitched sound while Mad-Eye scowled and Dumbledore just smiled.
'Vernon' appeared. "You!" he shouted, pointing at Mad-Eye with a look of horror.
"Yeah. Me," Mad-Eye responded with a nasty smile.
"Alastor." Dumbledore shot his friend a look, then smiled at the 'muggles'. "Could we borrow Harry and your living room for a moment or two, do you think? Yes? Why thank you." Dumbledore stepped past Harry and Vernon into the living room quite calmly.
Mad-Eye nodded knowingly to 'Petunia' and 'Vernon', then followed Dumbledore, Harry trailing behind him nervously.
Once they'd all been seated and 'Petunia' and 'Vernon had made themselves scarce, Dumbledore started with, "I'm sorry to be the one telling you this, my dear boy, but I'm afraid that, because of a fault in the warding, you'll have to remain with your relatives a bit long–"
"Can't I please stay with Ron, sir?" Harry interrupted.
Dumbledore frowned. "I'm afraid not, my dear boy. You see, while we can let the other students back, we're afraid that your sharing blood with Voldemort could get him past the wards. You understand, I'm sure."
Harry nodded tiredly. Of course he understood.
Dumbledore stood. "Excuse me while I tell your aunt and uncle..." He left the room.
Harry turned to Mad-Eye. "Is he telling the truth?" he whispered, eyes hard.
Mad-Eye shrugged. "I can't tell, but this is the first I've heard of it."
Harry winced when 'Petunia' shrieked her displeasure and flinched when 'Vernon' let out his roaring complaint.
Mad-Eye leaned over and rested his hand on the boy's shoulder. "It'll be fine, Harry," he whispered.
Harry shot the ex-auror a grateful look. Perhaps the world at large wasn't the real culprit that was determined to make his life miserable. Then again, perhaps he'd been spending too much time with the Dark Lord.
Dumbledore returned after a bit more yelling with a smile. "Well, you'll be staying here for a little longer, Harry. I promise to come and get you as soon as we've got those wards worked out."
Harry just nodded.
"Come along, Alastor."
Harry waited until he'd heard the telling sound of apparation outside before he let out a furious scream, turning to one side to punch the nearest pillow.
Tonks, Remus, Snape and Riddle all ran into the room. Riddle hurried over to pull the younger wizard into a tight hug while the others traded worried looks. This did not bode well.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny's letters, when they came, were all filled with anger on his behalf and lorry loads of pity. Harry wrote them back assuring them he'd be fine. Their return letters assured him that at least one of them would owl every day, which made him feel loads better.
Snape had to return to the school, be he, too, promised regular communication with his once-hated student. He told Riddle, Tonks, Remus and Mad-Eye, however, that he would be testing the wards himself to see if Albus' words had been the truth. He promised to send any of his finding back, since Riddle knew the most of any of them about warding.
Tonks, Remus and Mad-Eye fought – and won – to keep their positions as Harry's guard. When Dumbledore insisted that Kingsley join their number, the three agreed, then pulled him aside and filled him in on everything. It actually took Riddle longer to accept the presence of another of 'Dumbledore's aurors' than it did for Kingsley to swear to keep the secret about Harry's real residence. Harry, on the other hand, accepted his new guard without question and cheerfully set about showing the man around the wing of the manor that they had been given free roam of.
Riddle amassed his men and attacked the Ministry on the day the students were to return to Hogwarts. When he got home, Harry spent an hour not talking to him before informing the Dark Lord that the next time he attacked the Ministry, he'd best get rid of Fudge and Umbridge or Harry would never speak to him again. Riddle made a mental note and kissed the green-eyed wizard.
Snape sent back his report on the wards after a week and Riddle almost broke something. The fault had nothing to do with blood. In fact, with Snape in the school, he already had a free shot, due to the Dark Mark. Harry's guards were equally furious and Tonks didn't bother to keep herself from breaking something: her toe, when she kicked the wall.
They didn't tell Harry. No one wanted to ruin the peaceful joy the boy had found in his freedom from the eyes of the public and their expectations.
When February had come and gone and April was fast approaching, Riddle got sick of waiting for Dumbledore to make his move, so he told Harry what they'd learned about the wards.
"That's what I was afraid of," Harry replied with a heavy sigh.
"We need to do something to make him act. Something that will tell him we're not fooled," Riddle growled.
Harry smirked. "I know just the thing."
And so they planned.
Voldemort smirked at the handful of men he'd chosen for each mission. Another Voldemort – Tonks – stood next to him with an identical smirk.
"You know what is expected of you. Fail, and I'll castrate you. Succeed and you'll live to see another day. I hope that's understood?"
"Yes, my Lord!"
Voldemort nodded to Tonks and they both gathered their respective groups. Simultaneous attacks, both with Voldemort in attendance; Harry truly had the mind of a Slytherin when he felt like it.
Voldemort smirked as the second greenhouse went up in flames next to the first and there was finally some activity from the school. "Retreat," he ordered his Death Eaters and they all fled without question.
"Tom!" Dumbledore called as he reached the lone figure who stood next to the burning greenhouses.
Voldemort smirked. "You might want to get those wards fixed, Dumbledore," he taunted, then activated his portkey with a mad laugh.
After Harry was carried out, unconscious, by 'Voldemort', the Death Eaters set fire to the house. They were gone moments before the panicked Order members that Remus had called finally apparated in.
"He has him," Remus whispered brokenly as they all stared up at the sickly green Dark Mark that hung over the burning house. "Oh, Harry..."
"Why didn't you attack them, you fool!" Mad-Eye spat.
"Because Voldemort was here with them, Mad-Eye! Would you have gone up against Voldemort without back-up?" Remus hissed back.
No one had an answer for that.
Riddle found Harry in the library after he'd talked to Tonks and released her home so she could pretend like she'd slept through the whole thing. "You're unhurt?" he inquired, sitting on the arm of Harry's chair.
"I ran my head into my desk 'cause I was looking for my quill when Tonks came in, but Bella fixed it," Harry replied, pointing to the fading bruise on his forehead.
Riddle smiled. After two weeks of continuous yelling and throwing curses back and forth, Harry and Bellatrix had finally called a truce and sat down to actually talk. Whatever it was that they'd talked about had cleared the air and Bella had started treating Harry like the son she could never have – a childhood illness had robbed her of that. "Good." He ruffled the teen's hair. "It's getting late, dear heart. Why don't you head for bed?"
Harry pouted, but Riddle – although he found Harry unbearably adorable – didn't let it faze him and just gave Harry the 'look'. Harry sighed and stood. "I'm going, I'm going."
Riddle leaned over and kissed Harry's cheek. "Good night, Harry."
Harry ducked his head, blushing. "Good night, Tom," he murmured before fleeing.
Riddle smiled. Harry really was too cute for his own good.
"Hi, professor!" Harry called brightly from where Bella was fighting a losing battle with his growing hair.
Snape spared the boy a quick, nodded greeting, then kneeled before the throne where Voldemort sat, looking bored. "My Lord."
"Report," the Dark Lord ordered, glancing down to pick at his nails.
"The Order's in a panic. Half of them are blaming Dumbledore and the rest are blaming Lupin or myself. Dumbledore himself is acting like everything is under control."
"Has he asked about a rescue attempt yet?" Harry asked coolly as he walked over, a frowning Bella following.
"Not to my knowledge," Snape replied quietly.
"Ask the other four. He may be with-holding information from you again," Voldemort suggested.
"Lupin, I know, knows nothing. I will find a way to question Moody, Tonks and Shacklebolt, though."
"Good let me know what you find out. For now, tell the old man that I'm having you brew these potions." Voldemort handed over a sheet of parchment. "Let's see how he reacts to that."
Snape bowed. "As you ask, my Lord." He swept from the room.
Bella frowned at the Dark Lord. "Were some of those potions really necessary?"
"Some of them are for Macnair," the Dark Lord replied with a faint smile. "The ones that are supposedly for Harry are ones he chose himself."
Bella turned her frown on Harry. "I think we need to find your lighter reading material, young man," she told him sternly.
Harry just laughed.
Harry was just drifting off to sleep when a loud hoot woke him. He sat up quickly and cast a silent Lumos in time to see a familiar owl – Remus' – fly through his open window. "Ero?"
Ero chirped quickly to Starlight, who then relayed the warning to Harry.
Harry immediately turned to his serpent ring. §Tom!§
Riddle replied with a note of agitation, §I'm in a meeting, Harry.§
§I know, and I'm sorry, but Ero just flew in. Remus is in trouble,§ Harry explained as calmly as he could. He knew meetings always made Riddle crabby.
There was a sigh from Riddle – which always sounded weird coming through the rings – then, §Come on down here, then. Bring Ero and, if he's there, Starlight.§
§Okay.§ Harry slipped out of bed and pulled a robe over the cotton trousers he wore to bed. Then he turned to the two owls and said, "If you two will come with me? We're going down to Tom's meeting to see what he can do for Remus."
Ero and Starlight both flew over to him. Ero settled on the arm Harry held out for him while Starlight settled on Harry's blind shoulder. Once he was certain his friends were settled, Harry slipped from his room and through the manor's echoing hallways to Tom's meeting room. He slipped in quietly, but wasn't surprised when everyone turned to look at him.
Voldemort beckoned Harry forward and watched with sharp eyes as the teen moved through the Death Eaters – other than Bella and Snape, he didn't trust a single one of them with Harry. As the boy reached him, he asked, §Tell me what's going on with Remus.§
Starlight hooted a response, guessing what Voldemort had asked even though he couldn't, so far as the humans could tell, actually understand Parseltongue.
Voldemort frowned thoughtfully and waited until Harry had stepped up next to him before turning to Lucius. "Lucius, I need you to go to London, near Big Ben, and find Remus Lupin. I'm sending Ero here with you to help. I want him brought back safely."
Lucius bowed. "As my Lord commands," he agreed, holding up his arm for Ero to rest on. Once Ero was balanced, Lucius turned and left the room.
§Thank you,§ Harry whispered.
Voldemort nodded. §Do you want to wait here, or return to your room?§ he asked, knowing Harry wouldn't go to sleep until he knew Remus was safe.
Harry shrugged. §Can I stay here and wait for Remus?§
§Of course.§ The Dark Lord conjured a seat next to his own throne for Harry, then returned to plotting against Dumbledore with his Death Eaters.
Harry mostly ignored what those in the room were saying – he didn't really care – in favour of looking around at the group and trying to figure out who was behind each mask. He could tell a number of them by their body shape, a free lock of hair or the way they held themselves. Wormtail was most obvious by his silver hand, while Fenrir Greyback's hands were unusually hairy.
Harry's thoughts, as well as the meeting, were brought to a halt when Lucius hurried back into the room, dashing up to Voldemort and bowing, he said, "My Lord."
"Where's Lupin?" Voldemort asked before Harry could.
"Infirmary," Lucius reported. "It looked like he'd been mugged."
Harry was up and out of the room before anyone could blink. Quickly, the Dark Lord ordered, "Moon, Severus, go."
The two Death Eater strode from the room with all haste, their masks covering any expressions they may have been wearing. The other Death Eaters looked back up at Voldemort and Lucius.
"Any ideas?" Voldemort asked one of his most trusted Death Eaters.
Lucius shrugged elegantly. "No more than you might, my Lord. Lupin was the only thing I saw when we arrived."
Voldemort nodded. "Do you know where Lupin lives?"
"I don't, my Lord."
Voldemort glanced over the sea of white masks. "Bella, go to the infirmary and trade places with Severus. Tell him I'm sending him and a small team to Lupin's house for clues."
"As my Lord orders." Bella bowed and hurried from the room. Sometimes, she didn't understand why her Lord trusted Snape, but this time, at least, they had no choice.
"Bella!" Harry ran over and threw himself at Bella, who only just managed to catch him. The boy clung to her and one look at the werewolf explained why: Remus looked like a hippogriph had run over him a few times, and Bella couldn't help but think that her brother-in-law had severely understated the situation. Keeping her tight hold on Harry, Bella motioned Snape over and explained the Dark Lord's wishes.
Snape nodded. "Of course. And might I suggest sending Mr Potter to bed?"
"I'm not leaving Remus!" Harry shouted, peeking away from Bella to glare at his professor.
Snape just gave the boy a frown. "You need sleep, Harry," he pointed out before he replaced his mask and left the infirmary.
Bella sighed. "Snape's right, child. You need sleep."
Harry pulled a face. "Can't I sleep in here with Remus? It's not like Kara's going to let me get hurt."
Bella looked up at Kara Moon and the medic shrugged helplessly before returning to treating Remus. With another, much heavier sigh, she nodded. "Fine, but I'm staying in here too and you have to go straight to sleep."
"Okay!" Harry hopped from Bella's embrace and was getting into an empty bed next to Remus before Bella could think it had been too easy. By the time she'd reached her charge to tuck him in, he had closed his eyes and was hugging his pillow, as he was wont to do when attempting to fall asleep.
Bella tucked the covers in around him, then leaned over and kissed his curse scar. "Sweet dreams, Harry," she whispered before walking over to help Kara if she could.
It was going to be a long night.
When Remus woke the following afternoon, he found Harry and Riddle playing a quiet muggle card game on an obviously conjured card table at the end of his bed. The two dark-haired wizards were smiling at each other like old friends and Remus was certain that, had he not been sleeping nearby, the two would have been joking with one another.
Remus let out a soft cough to let them know he was awake, then smiled when they both turned to look at him. "Good morning."
Harry grinned back. "How do you feel?" he asked as Riddle got up and walked out of sight.
Remus shrugged carefully. "A little stiff."
"That's why I like treating werewolves," Kara reported as she and Riddle came back into Remus' line of sight. "Their natural healing abilities are at least twice that of an average human's. It makes my job that much easier." She smiled kindly at Remus while Riddle shot a smirk at Harry, who just rolled his eyes in response.
Remus returned the smile. "It certainly comes in handy," he agreed.
"Remus, what happened?" Harry asked while Kara ran a couple of spells over the man in the bed.
Remus' face fell. "I went out for a drink with a couple of friends and they all got a little bit drunk. They blamed me for Voldemort getting his hands on you, made sure I knew it, too."
"Oh, of course, Dumbledore's band of idiots, the picture of all that's light and good in the world." Riddle sneered. "I'll happily get them back for you, Lupin."
Remus shook his head. "It doesn't matter."
"Of course it matter!" Harry snapped, leaning forward angrily. "They hurt you for a stupid reason!"
"Harry..." Remus sighed.
"They burned down your home, as well," Riddle volunteered, watching Remus' expression.
Remus closed his eyes helplessly, but didn't respond.
"They wanted you dead, Remus," Harry said. "If they'd attacked me instead of you, what would you have done?"
Remus shook his head, silent.
"You'd kill them, rip them limb-from-limb," Riddle answered for him.
"How is it different?" Harry demanded, then took a moment to breathe and calm down before saying, "Remus, they almost killed you and burned down your home. You deserve vengeance just as much as I do."
"The all too common believe that werewolves deserve less than humans because they're monsters once a month," Fenrir Greyback commented as he stepped around the hospital divider. He smiled at Remus. "Hello, cub."
Remus glared at the one who had turned him. "Excuse me for having a conscience," he spat.
"Interesting that your 'conscience' wouldn't stop you for getting revenge on behalf of a human," Fenrir replied drily.
Remus pressed his lips together, refusing to bow to Fenrir's point. He couldn't give Fenrir the satisfaction of being proven correct, even though he was.
"Remus, please..." Harry tried.
Remus' head dropped in defeat. "Okay..." he whispered. "Okay, I'll give you their names..." He could never refuse Harry, not even for something like this.
Riddle nodded. "And until it's safe for you again among Dumbledore's band of idiots, you'll be staying here."
Remus didn't bother to complain, catching sight of Harry's smile. If Harry was happy, Remus would stay.
A/N: Eh. Not sure how I feel about this chapter after typing it up. It's scary-short, I know. *shame*
Well, one more chapter, and then I get to start making shit up. Whoo-hoo.