Chapter 14 - Destruction

"Then you must do it for Lily," said Dumbledore. He seemed so tired, the white in his great beard overtaking the grey. "For Lily's son. You cannot allow him to continue to lead the life he is living. The boy will be lost forever, if it continues much longer."

Harry stood there, mind reeling at Malfoy's words. Why would his master want him to visit this, as Malfoy eloquently put it, trash hovel? Was he trying to torment him, perhaps make him see the error of his previous life?


It sounded like a twig cracking. Harry spun, staring into the darkness, but saw nothing. Only trees looked back at him, tall and silent. He shook his head. He was becoming paranoid.

Harry returned to his thoughts. Why would the Dark Lord order him to be here?

Perhaps it was a test of loyalty, he thought.

Before, he had always seen the Burrow as the home he'd never had. Every nook and cranny, the dilapidated walls and slanted roof, the jumble of trinkets and pots and pans had made his heart swell with happiness. He had never felt at home with the Dursleys. Their house was as dull and stolid as his life before Hogwarts.

Now, the Burrow and Number Four, Privet Drive were one and the same - both places that held undesired memories.

Harry was unaware of closing his eyes, and a rush of memories met him…playing Quidditch with Ron and Ginny in the back yard…de-gnoming the garden…sitting at the dinner table, his hunger satisfied for the first time in forever…Ron's violently orange Chudley Cannon bedroom…

A sharp pang went through him, a feeling he had not felt in months. He felt like he was breathing for the first time after being submerged in deep water…Harry's eyes flew wide open.

Just like that, he felt like Harry again, with the pain and hurt and shame. He could feel the snake's presence in his mind and could hear it hissing, trying to regain hold.

Why do I hate them? he asked himself, the thought edging into his consciousness. Harry frowned. He had not thought much about the sudden hatred he had towards his old life and friends. The hatred had come to him slowly and surely, wrapping itself tight around his heart and mind.

He thought briefly back to the diary, where Tom Riddle had possessed Ginny Weasley until she had no control over her actions. But this was different. Tom Riddle had always been a part of him; albeit a small one. Although now the snake had taken over, he was still there, he could still think and experience and feel -

Something inside him swelled with joy at the thought. No longer was he weak, ineffectual -

And suddenly a thought jumped into his mind - an old type of thought, one he had not felt for months now...

- my friends…I was a hero…they counted on me! -

How could he have abandoned them? Fred's bloodied face swam before his eyes, Sirius' face contorted with pain.

He stepped back in horror. What had he done? What had he done to them?

Then his scar burned as if someone had pressed a hot poker to his forehead, the pain was blinding - the snake was crushing his scar, the presence in his mind ever growing -

"NO!" Harry yelled, clutching his scar. He did not scream for the pain; pain was pain, but what had he done to life, but for Fred and Sirius -

"Potter?" asked Draco, for the first time looking uneasy.

-You were no hero, - the snake hissed, - You were weak. Look how our master displayed you in front of the others, yet you were met with scorn and ridicule. Look how your friends, the Order and Dumbledore abandoned you.

Harry felt the familiar rage, but his eyes rose up and met with the Burrow's front door. A red-haired girl's face swam into his mind, her eyes sad. Harry shook his head in confusion. Why was he thinking of Ginny?

- You have influenced me, - snarled Harry to the snake, - You have made me hate my friends. -

-I did no such thing, - hissed the snake. - That was your own doing. You felt their abandonment, their disappointment in you. I felt that as well. I felt how it infected your heart and made you wither with shame, I felt how you thought yourself a failure. You hoped and hoped for them to rescue you, but you were abandoned. I may have helped you see their unworthiness, but your hatred planted the seed.

You have grown to hate them yourself. -

He was right, Harry realized. Ron visiting him in the dead of night, making him feel humiliation. Sitting in that cold cell, wondering why Dumbledore hadn't rescued him. Walking in the FFH meeting, students looking at him in horror and pity. Hating himself as he began to see Voldemort as not an enemy, but a teacher and guardian. Ginny's look of horror and disgust…

What was the point in being Harry Potter at all, if he had failed to be not only the Wizarding World's saviour, but to even survive against Voldemort?

- Master will hear about your disobedience, - it hissed, but Harry barely cared. He felt the anger welling up inside, at his own failure and his friends' and Dumbledores', at a life filled with disappointments and abandonments. He felt rage towards his parents, for being weak and dying before he could know them. He felt rage at Dumbledore, for placing him with the Dursleys and for failing to protect him.

No. He could be someone else, someone inhuman, someone who did not fear death, but was Death.

If he could not have life, he would bring death.

Harry could feel his soul being submerged back under the tar-like water, back into the snake's firm grip.

He turned to Malfoy, who looked quite white in the face.

"Potter?" Malfoy said again, slowly.

"Let's teach these blood traitors a lesson," snarled Harry, and pulling his wand out, started towards the house.

Draco felt his mouth drop open in shock. Potter, calling the Weasleys blood traitors? Things had changed, surely. He had suspected something had changed once the Dark Lord had called him for this mission. At first, he thought the Dark Lord merely wanted to punish his father by sending Draco to babysit Potter. But now he wasn't so sure.

It seemed that the rumors about Potter had some merit after all. Rumors had been swirling around the school that Potter was unwell and was acting cold towards others. Rumors that Voldemort had influenced him.

His father would want to hear about this. These days, his father was desperate for some way to earn back the Dark Lord's favor. The failure in the Department of Mysteries had humiliated the whole Malfoy family. The Dark Lord was enraged that his father had almost let a couple of teenagers get the best of him. His father had almost lost the prophecy.

Even Bellatrix had refused to talk with his mother, so great was the scandal.

And could their mission, to desecrate and vandalize the Burrow, be connected for the Dark Lord's Heir to destroy Molly Weasley? He hated the fat woman, but after seeing what the Heir was capable of, he almost felt sorry for her.

His godfather had shook his head when Draco asked why no one knew who the Heir was.

"I was not privy to that information, and neither was any Death Eater," Snape had said, raising an eyebrow. "We must respect our Lord's wishes to keep that information private."

Of course Snape would say that, but it didn't mean Draco would believe him.

Draco made a mental note to keep a close eye on Potter. Perhaps he could glean something from this mission that would help his father. Maybe -

"Are you coming, ferret, or what?" yelled Potter, turning back from his position in front of the door.

"How dare you?" hissed Draco, his face twisting with rage, but Potter had already magicked open the lock and darted inside. Bottling his anger in favor of curiosity, Draco followed.

The yard was eerily quiet, with only a few spare chickens pecking about. The roof had rusted on the empty chicken coops, leaving gaping holes on top. Weeds were climbing up the walls and choking the windows. Bodies of dead gnomes littered the lawn.

Draco swallowed and hurried inside. The sooner they left, the better.

The inside of the house was so dusty it was like walking through cobwebs. Draco wrinkled his nose. Everything seemed so out of place, so improper - things were tilted on the walls the wrong way, chairs were mismatched and a terribly old-fashioned, and an often-used stove dominated most of the kitchen. There were still nine plates set neatly on the table, although they were covered with a thin layer of dust.

"Let's get started," said Potter, aiming his wand at the walls. The tip of his wand was alight, casting dark shadows around the room.

Potter began to mumble a curse that Draco didn't know. Dark flames wove out his wand, and carved into the wall:




and then, finally:


As Draco watched in shock, Potter turned and began blasting apart things in the many-handed clock (all hands pointed at Mortal Peril) blasted apart and into pieces. Potter blast a Severing Charm at the stove, which exploded into pieces, huge chunks of iron flying across the room.

"Dammit, watch out, Potter!" Malfoy hissed, jumping out of the way of a piece of iron flying towards his head. Potter seemed to barely notice; his green eyes resembled pieces of flint. Once he had completely obliterated everything in the downstairs, he turned his cold stare onto the stairwell, and vanished into the upstairs part of the house.

Draco blasted apart a few items that Potter had missed, but it seemed like a wasted effort as Potter had nearly destroyed all the Weasley's belongings already. Sighing at the missed opportunity, Draco followed Potter upstairs.

He had just made it up the last step when he saw Potter step out of one of the bedrooms, with something glistening in his closed hand.

"A trinket," smiled Potter, brushing past him. Draco took a quick glance around the bedrooms.

"For who?" Draco couldn't help but ask.

"A special friend," said Potter with a grin, and went down the stairs.

Draco looked around. The beds were broken, feathers scattered all over the floor; the rest was unrecognizable.

He followed Potter into the living room, grabbed his arm, and Disapparated. For the first time while Disapparating, he could feel the salty taste of sick in his mouth.

Snape couldn't bring himself to ruin the Christmas dinner.

Not that one such as himself, a Death Eater - should care. He had maimed, tortured, and committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of the Dark Lord. Why should he care about hurting a woman's feelings, particularly one he disliked?

"You've changed me, Lily," he murmured, shaking his head. And so Snape stopped with his handle on the door, his knuckles tightening around the cold bronze.

He could hear the merriment inside, the exclamations as the Christmas turkey was carved, the "Happy Christmas" greetings exchanged. All of it was slightly dampened, of course, but what could one expect when a murderer was after a member of your family?

It had been more than slightly disturbing when Snape had done his routine check on the Burrow's wards, only to find the place mutilated. Destroyed - that was more like it. The Heir, perhaps, had been the one who had carved those hateful epithets into the wall. THE HEIR WILL FIND YOU had been particularly suspicious, although Snape supposed anyone could have carved that into the wall…

It was not as if he could ask the Dark Lord…the Dark Lord only revealed information of his own free will. Snape sighed.

Still, he couldn't bring himself to ruin their day. Shaking his head at his own softness, Snape turned around and headed towards the sitting room. He needed a brandy.

A fire was roaring in the fireplace, casting dark shadows on the wall. Snape was pleased to see no one was there but him. Scowling at the gaudy Christmas baubles (no doubt the work of Black), Snape grabbed the decanter and sloshed a generous amount of brandy into a glass.


Cursing to himself, Snape filled the brandy glass to the brim. Brandy sloshed over the edges and onto the floor.

He did not want to meet with the Headmaster now. Could he at least enjoy a part of his Christmas Day?

He turned slowly, the glass at his lips.

"Yes, Headmaster?"

Dumbledore's twinkling blue eyes met his. The man was ostentatiously dressed in a robe and hat of bright pink with silver stars; they had the effect of making him look like an over-dressed flamingo. Snape stared. Where did the Headmaster get his cloaks?

"Can't an old man wish his former staff member a Happy Christmas?" asked Dumbledore cheerfully, patting his arm.

Snape scowled. "I know you have another purpose, Headmaster," he said. "Tell me."

Dumbledore sighed, pushing up the rim of his glasses. He took off his pink pointed hat and rested it on the chair. Crookshanks batted at it with his paws, but Dumbledore ignored him. "Always astute, Severus," he said. "And I am no longer the Headmaster of Hogwarts."

Snape ignored him. Dumbledore walked over to the liquor table and poured himself a generous portion of gin. He seated himself in front of the fire and motioned for Snape to join him. Snape took the armchair on the left. "This Heir is troubling me greatly," he said softly. "But I believe you have some unrelated news for me."

"Perhaps not," said Snape. When Dumbledore's eyebrows raised, he went on: "The Burrow has been…destroyed. There is not a single piece of intact furniture in the house." As Dumbledore dropped his head in his hands, Snape went on. "There is more. Whoever vandalized the house wrote things on the wall…"

Snape recited them for Dumbledore, who listened silently. As he finished, Dumbledore stood up, and began to pace.

"This could point to many things," murmured Dumbledore. "For one, Voldemort may want to advertise the power of his Heir. He could have sent a Death Eater to fulfill the task, to strike fear into Molly Weasley."

"Or it could have been the Heir himself," Snape interjected, and Dumbledore nodded with a sigh.

"This is unfortunate news. I had hoped that Voldemort's introduction of his Heir was merely ceremonial, to show that the Heir was formidable. I admit I did not expect his desire for the Heir to extract revenge to be so…strong."

He turned to Snape. "Have you told the Weasley family?"

Snape stared at the floor. "No," he admitted. "I did not wish to ruin their holiday."

Dumbledore nodded his understanding. "I will complete that task after the holidays are over," he said.

"What must we do, Headmaster?" asked Snape quietly. "I cannot ask the Dark Lord or other Death Eaters who completed the task; that would draw suspicion and unwanted questions."

"Of course not, Severus," said Dumbledore, stopping and rubbing his eyes. "I do not wish for you to compromise your position as a spy."

He once again began to pace.

"It is now of the utmost importance that we learn all we can about this - about this Heir. We must learn all we can about him, and draw him out in the open." He looked at Snape.

Snape now stood up too. "I hope, Headmaster," he seethed, "you are not underestimating the precarious nature of my position. I already risk a great deal - "

"I am not forgetting the dangerous role you possess," said Dumbledore quietly. "I, and the Order, owe you a great deal - "

"What if I don't want to do it anymore?" snarled Snape. "What if this man - this Devil - finds me out? I am worse than dead then. The man has no empathy. He is worse than even Lestrange; he is soulless. In fact, I could have sworn he recognized me -"

"Now that - that - is interesting," murmured Dumbledore, ignoring Snape's outburst. "It gives us a clue to what he is. "It is interesting", whispered Dumbledore to himself, although Snape could hear, "that he has chosen the title of Devil - the title of Death, which, as you know, is what Voldemort most fears."

He seemed unaffected by Snape's angry stare. "Severus, find out what you can about this man. Do it carefully - especially since he seems to know you - but find out what you can, particularly his weakness. We must devise a way to draw him out, to reveal who he is - his power will be lessened then. We must do this, if we are to win the war. "

"What if I don't care anymore?" Snape yelled, causing Crookshanks to yowl and scamper from his position on Dumbledore's hat. He picked up the hat and threw it, ignoring the annoyance in Dumbledore's eyes. "What if I don't want to do it anymore? Have you ever considered that, Headmaster?"

Dumbledore sighed, rubbing his forehead. "We must do it if we have any hope of Harry winning the war for us -"

"He's a sixteen year old boy, Dumbledore," spat Snape. "The Dark Lord is a highly trained wizard. He would decimate Potter in an instant if they were to duel. Potter would die."

Dumbledore looked sad. "You know that may be the only way, Severus."

"And I don't suppose you'll tell me why Potter has to die?" Snape said. Dumbledore shook his head.

"No, I think that unwise. I know you do your job very well," he continued hastily, as Snape opened his mouth to argue, "but I find it unwise to give you too much information, particularly a man who spends so much time at Voldemort's, and lately the Heir's, side."

Seething with rage, Snape picked up a golden bauble and threw it, causing it to shatter on the floor.

"He's a boy, Dumbledore, not a weapon!"

Dumbledore looked at him curiously. "Have you grown to care for the boy, Severus?"

"For him?" snarled Snape. "Expecto Patronum!"

A brilliant white doe burst from his wand. It bounded around the room, the flames of the fireplace reaching out for it, as if searching out the light.

Dumbledore watched its progress, tears in his eyes.

"After all this time?" he said, looking up at Snape.

"Always." Snape said.

"Then you must do it for Lily," said Dumbledore. He seemed so tired, the white in his great beard taking over the grey. "For Lily's son. You cannot allow him to continue to lead the life he is living. The boy will be lost forever, if it continues much longer."

Snape nodded, suddenly weary. Had his treatment of Lily led him to this life of deception and danger, his life hanging by a thread? There was no choice now, and Dumbledore had him cornered.

Snape scowled. Dumbledore was skilled in cornering people. He knew by the look in those dancing blue eyes that there was no way out.

"I will do as you ask, Headmaster," he said, his voice cold. "Any updates on Potter?"

Dumbledore sighed. "None as of yet," he said. "Continue to watch, Severus, and report any abnormalities in the boy. I am concerned about his welfare. Voldemort has been too quiet concerning him."

Snape nodded his assent and started towards the door.

"I will ensure you have a restful retirement, Severus," Dumbledore called after him, a bit of an ironic laugh in his voice, and Snape shook his head and pushed open the door.

That old coot. Snape was still cursing Dumbledore in his head as he swung the black traveling cloak over his shoulders. He was just about to leave for Spinner's End, and was looking forward to a hot mug of cider, when he heard voices.

"He's not your boyfriend!"

"I never said he was, but I thought he cared, but - "

"Maybe you want him to be!"

Snape shook his head and started toward the door. He had no desire to listen to inane teenage gossip.

"-ever since he's been with You-Know-Who, he's changed."

Snape stopped dead. He loathed himself for listening in on gossip - and listening at keyholes had gotten him into a great deal of trouble in the past.

However, it had been some time since he had heard news concerning Potter…

"I know," said the first voice, who he recognized as Hermione Granger. "I was at the FFH meeting. He didn't talk to anyone."

"He said that You-Know-Who took care of him," spat the second voice in disgust, and he realized it must be the Weasley girl. "He said that he didn't need me anymore."

"I just don't understand," said Granger. "I hate being a slave. How could Harry be any different?"

"Maybe it's the bit of Voldemort in him," said Weasley slowly. "Maybe it's possessing him, like it did me -"

"But that's not right," said Granger. "If he was possessed, he wouldn't be speaking with his own voice. No, it's something different…"

Weasley began to cry. Snape withdrew from the door, feeling slightly disgusted with himself, and stepped out onto the porch of Grimmauld Place. It was pouring, the rain splatting against the stones, the world a dull whirl of grey stone and rain.

Interesting… Snape thought to himself. The boy had changed, it seemed. He was withdrawing from his friends. They had been close - Snape never saw them apart in their school days - but it seemed like the boy was either angry, or had lost interest in the friendships. He didn't think Potter was faking the emotion - the boy was too inept at Occlumency for that.

He would have to keep this in mind.

But for now, he would enjoy his Christmas. Although it would be just himself, the mug of cider, and the fireplace, Snape had almost merry thoughts as he Disapparated.

A white peacock strutted across the manicured lawn. Its tail feathers, once majestic, were drooping slightly, dragging on the ground. Lucius gnashed his teeth and turned from the window.

How symbolic.

"Lucius dear, would you like some tea?" Narcissa appeared in the doorway, holding a tray of tea.

"No, I don't want any sodding tea," snarled Lucius, kicking Kreacher, who happened to be in the way. Kreacher yelped and shielded himself with his arms.

"Nasty Kreacher, yes, Kreacher was bad to Master with his filthy presence -"

"SHUT IT!" roared Lucius, and Kreacher held his mouth shut, gave Lucius a dirty look, and Disapparated with a crack.

He turned to look at Narcissa, who was attempting to hide the tears brimming in her eyes. Lucius fought down annoyance. She had always been too sensitive.

"I am…not myself," he grumbled in a half apology, and Narcissa nodded and sat down beside him. He grudgingly took a cup of tea.

"The Dark Lord has me doing novice missions such as babysitting Pettigrew and watching prisoners," he sneered, "and Draco babysitting the Potter brat."

Narcissa was silent a moment. "The Dark Lord is disappointed in the Department of Mysteries incident," she said, "but he will, over time, forgive us. Our family will rise to prominence again."

She had said this many times, but it never seemed to have an effect.

"And," Lucius continued, as if he had not heard her, "this…Heir - the one who punished me," he snarled, clutching his wrist covered in bandages. "He dislikes me. I will never rise in the ranks with him by the Dark Lord's right hand."

"Then we must find opportunity to turn the tides," said Narcissa quietly. Lucius could almost hear her heart pounding. When Lucius opened his mouth, she held up a hand and said, "I know you believe I speak treason, but we only wish to remain in the Dark Lord's loyal service. This man - this man - has no right to be there. He has never stood among us. We are a family of the purest blood, and we deserve a place at the Dark Lord's side. Changing the tides would merely ensure that it comes to pass."

Lucius nodded, his eyes gleaming with excitement for the first time in months. "We will discover the man's identity, and…make sure…he is revealed. Then I will complete the task of killing Molly Weasley. I will gain the Dark Lord's favor then."

Narcissa nodded, and opened her mouth to say more, when the door banged open and Draco stode in.

Lucius gave a nod of acknowledgment to his son, but his wife strode over and embraced Draco. His son looked embarrassed.

"Please, Mother, I'm a man now," he drawled, nevertheless returning the embrace before pulling himself away from her. He fixed his gaze on Lucius.

"Father, I have some interesting news for you."

"And?" said Lucius, sitting up straighter.

"Harry Potter," began Draco. Lucius rolled his eyes.

"I do not care for anything concerning the brat," he started, but Draco cut him off.

"Please Father, allow me to finish," he said, and with Lucius' reluctant nod, continued. "I was sent on a mission to accompany Potter somewhere.'

"Yes, I know," said Lucius. This was no news to him.

"That place ended up being the Burrow," said Draco quietly. Lucius' eyes lit up.

"Interesting…" he murmured.

"I believed that Potter would be disturbed by our goal, to vandalize the place. He showed no reaction but then went into some kind of trance. He was yelling and clutching his scar."

Lucius motioned for him to continue.

"Then he said that blood traitors should be taught a lesson and went into the house. He destroyed all the furniture easily, and used some curses that I have never heard of.

"But what I found the most interesting," said Draco slowly, "Was what he wrote on the wall, THE HEIR WILL FIND YOU."

Lucius stood up and stared at Draco.

"Harry Potter, calling his friends Blood Traitors?" he wondered. "Referencing the Heir, who is believed to be the most powerful wizard in our time, besides the Dark Lord?"

"There have been rumors," continued Draco, "that Potter met with his friends, but had no interest in speaking with them. That he's secluded and obedient to our Lord."

"Interesting…" whispered Lucius, walking over to the fireplace.

Draco said nothing, only watched. There was silence as Lucius stared into the marble fireplace, thinking rapidly…

The Dark Lord could be merely using the boy as a way to advertise the Heir's desire for revenge…

But what of his newfound hatred for his friends, the boy's changed personality? Too coincidental to dismiss…

What if the boy, like the Heir, would be used by the Dark Lord for some purpose? What if the boy knew who the Heir was, or even might be part of the plot to assassinate Molly Weasley?

Lucius turned back to his son, who was watching him triumphantly.

"Anything else?"

"One more thing," said Draco, and Lucius could tell he was purposefully saving this for last. "Potter picked up a trinket…said it was for a 'special friend.'

"Does Potter have a girlfriend?" said Lucius sharply.

Draco thought about it. He'd never paid much attention to the Gryffindor Poster Boy's love life. "Cho Chang, though I think they split…and I know that Ginny Weasley had a crush on him back in second year."

Lucius' breath caught in his throat. He remembered the Dark Lord's words to his heir…

"The woman has a daughter at Hogwarts…she had a crush on you, did she not?"

But no…the girl could have had many crushes, it didn't make sense…Potter was a helpless slave, not a dangerous killer…

"You must find out as much as you can about Potter's…recent changes," he said, and Draco nodded his agreement. "This may aid us in finding out about the Heir. It seems like the two may be…connected."

Draco nodded and Disapparated, presumably back to Hogwarts. Lucius turned back to the fire and stared into the flames. For once, he saw a ray of hope. There was a puzzle here, a mystery that no other Death Eater knew about, and he was going to be the one to solve it.

He had no doubt in his mind that Harry Potter was the key.

"Well?" asked Voldemort, looking up as Harry entered the room. He was sitting by the fire, stroking Nagini. "How was it?"

Harry did not answer. Voldemort knew Harry well enough by now to know when he was hiding something from him. Harry stared at the carpeted floor, unwilling to meet his eyes. Voldemort watched him with a smile. It was amusing to see the most feared wizard of recent times, besides himself, look abashed.

He had grown to know Harry in the few months they had been in close proximity. He was surprised to learn that Dumbledore's Boy-Who-Lived was more Slytherin than he had thought. The boy was generally quiet, watchful, and was quick to learn.

Voldemort chuckled. "Come here, my slave. Was it that terrible for you?"

Harry knelt at his feet, still staring at the floor. Voldemort ran one long, spidery hand through Harry's thick black hair. With the other, he pressed a finger to his scar.

Countless experiences with this had not made the pain any easier for the boy. Harry hissed as Voldemort rifled through his memories, and groaned with pain as he felt Voldemort's anger at his disobedience.

"Snake, are you in control?" hissed Voldemort in Parseltongue, and Harry's eyes rolled, showing only the glossy whites.

"I am, Master. The boy fought me briefly when he remembered his past, but I am even more in control now. I think - I think one more event might be enough to tip him over the edge. Just - just one more."

"Excellent," Voldemort whispered. Yes - this was exactly what he had hoped for. He hoped that when Harry saw the symbol of his broken past, of abandonment, he would truly hate his friends, Dumbledore, and the rest.

It was time.

He pulled out of Harry's head, and Harry's eyes returned to their normal state. They stared up at him, confused, as they always were after Voldemort spoke to the soul in Harry.

"Potter, I have something…unfortunate to show you," he said with a mock frown. "I think, however, it will solidify your confidence in what you have done to the Burrow."

He motioned Harry over to a silvery white basin. The boy's eyes flashed with recognition.

"A Pensive," he said slowly. He looked at Voldemort in confusion.

"Yes," hissed Voldemort, instinctively switching to Parseltongue, "now lower your face in."

Harry lowered his face in the basin immediately, and the world changed shape.

They were standing in one of the Hogwarts classrooms - Defense Against the Dark Arts. Draco Malfoy was sitting a few rows behind Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, who were all whispering with each other.

"I can't believe he's so pathetic!" exclaimed Weasley, his ears red with anger. Voldemort smiled as he saw Harry take a step back, anger contorting his features.

"I thought he would really rescue us," said Granger, shaking her head and leafing through her textbook. "That's why we kept him around, really. I thought he would be useful to us, but he's just turned out to be so - useless."

Weasley nodded. Then he leaned forward and whispered, "Do you know what the Carrows did to Ginny and I yesterday?"

Granger shook her head.

"He tortured us," Weasley snarled, "but that's not all. He said that Harry was holed up in the Grand Master's office, waiting on his every need - cowering at his feet - not even trying to escape."

Granger laughed. "Maybe he deserves it for being so stupid to be captured!"

"I can't believe I ever liked him," exclaimed the Weasley girl, throwing her textbook down on the desk, "he's worse than Neville! At least Neville tries."

Weasley looked side to side, and said "Mum says Dumbledore doesn't care anymore either. Says he reckons he's a lost cause anyhow. Order might just pull out to another country. The Prophecy will never be fulfilled with him."

Granger and Weasley shook their heads. "Can't wait until Mum finalizes the move to France," said the Weasley girl. "He'll be stuck here, but he deserves it for being such as failure."

The other two laughed…

And then mist swirled around the room, and Harry was thrust out of the Pensive and the fake memory…

It wasn't even a very good one, thought Voldemort with amusement. He hadn't spent much time crafting it; his friend's false exclamations and insults were too direct. Months ago, the boy would have scoffed at it as an obvious fake.

But it would be enough. Harry was too far gone to realize the abnormalities in it.

They landed on the carpeted floor, Voldemort watching Harry carefully. Harry's face was ashen, his eyes bloodshot, pupils wide in shock.

An unbidden memory rose up in his mind - he was the boy at the orphanage, cowering as the others taunted him…he was watching the other children, unseen, as they laughed at his pointed nose and his strange manner…

What is this? snarled Voldemort in his mind, pushing the thought out. He turned away in disgust. There was no sympathy for the boy, no, he had left that human part of him behind a long time ago…

He looked back at Harry. He looked as if someone had thrown a Stunning Curse at him - his eyes were wide with shock.

For a moment they locked eyes.

Then Harry sprinted from the room.

He did not have to follow to know what Harry was doing. For he stopped by hours later, only to see the little green bottle of mind-emptying potion empty. He reached out with a bony white finger and brushed the boy's scar. No remnants of that bright golden sun representing Harry's soul remained. Voldemort only heard the slight hiss of a snake; a welcoming call to its master.

Voldemort smiled and left the room.

Harry Potter was completely his now.

*A line from the story is taken directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.