8O omg omg new chapter new chapter! Lol ok, I fail. But you have to understand: my older sis got married, I got a job, life happened, I moved to another state, I got a new, more demanding job, my parents moved to a different state, I got into the Death Note craze, etc. etc. etc… OK, enough excuses. I'll just say that I have no clue when I'll be able to update next, but I want you to know that I meant it when I said I'm not abandoning the story. I've been trying to psych myself up enough to get back into the swing of it, and we shall see what comes of it.
The quote was from the Jungle Books: "We are of one blood, you and I." It is how Baloo taught Mowgli to greet snakes politely to keep them from biting. It saved Mowgli's life when fell into a snake pit.
Steve: I put yours first because I figure you'll miss it if I include it below: please don't review again unless you have something to say about the story itself. I prefer to receive my angry rants in private messages. I shall try to mark things more clearly for those who want to skip but lack the discernment to find the beginning of the chapter.
Brightsideoflife: you weren't wrong… it's been over a year. I do apologize!
Tonks-is-cool: you wrote me a book of a review! Anyone who would like a summary of the story thus far would do well to read it. Lol Thanks so much. I want to tell you that while JKR may not have intended for Lucius to be abusive, in the GOF movie Lucius hits Draco with his cane in public. To me a move like this from such a proper, stuck-up person suggests that he is even more violent in private. I could be wrong, of course—it's a matter of opinion and just the direction I happened to decide to go in this story. Here's the deal with the wands: Voldemort has a phoenix-feather wand, as you say. At this point, TMR has no idea where it may be. So he went to Olivander for a new one and got the holly-and-dragon heartstring one. The wands being brothers through the wood was partly for my own amusement, partly for intrigue, and partly for possible plot-twists down the road. I wanted to keep my options open.
WynterRavenheart: I can't imagine why you wouldn't like H/D if you like H/T. But anyway… I think I've made my position clear.
Lou Jin: Thank you, thank you, thank you. And my sister's appendectomy went fine, thanks!
ShinSheeka: I think you'll see R&H again… I haven't forgotten them altogether, but they aren't really necessary right now.
Pickingupstars: I agree… it makes me think those people must not have family or close friends (or that they do weird stuff with them) when they imply that people who aren't romantically interested in each other never touch each other. Think now, have you never traded massages with a buddy? Have you never play-wrestled with a sibling? Hugged someone goodnight? *sigh* So yeah, thanks for your comments.
Azrie: that chapter was from Harry's POV, so you didn't get to see Lucius cautiously making certain in his mind that this really was (or at least soon would be) the Voldemort that he was supposed to follow. You're right; I'm sure he would want to be careful.
Zoorzh: It's simple; just skip over the review replies. xD You are not required to read them!
Smaginn: thanks for the support; I haven't decided yet if Sirius will enter the story, but I don't know if I can afford to leave Bellatrix out. We'll see.
N.N.: Glad you're entertained at least, and I hope you like what comes later.
Mondkalb: Hmm, does Marvolo care for Harry? *evil smile* mayyyybe… And yes, Harry's lonely. Misses R&H.
Thanks so much to those of you who waited so long, and thanks for the new readers who have just started reading. You guys rock.
SPOILERS: hints at HBP plot elements.
Remember: Slash not included. xp
XVII. Eyesight and Insight
Marvolo stroked the little snake with his long, pale fingers. "How did the boys act?" he asked it in Parseltongue.
Secrets, the snake answered. Lots of secrety-ness. Then the dark-haired boy pushed the light-haired boy down and held him against the ground.
Marvolo smiled."Then what?"
Then they got up and were friendly-secrety again. The light one was not much hurt.
"Good. Well done." Marvolo held the snake gently in his left hand as his right took hold of his wand. Ordinary animals could not be Vanished, but Conjured ones could, by a skilled wizard.*
The snake put its tongue out against Marvolo's palm, as if kissing him farewell. Then it was gone.
Harry's first snake had been good, but his next would be better. And Harry had pinned his schoolmate down on the floor. This was a lovely development. The boy was finally showing a bit of dominance. Taking a firm hand with him was paying off.
Marvolo settled into his bed. He heard Harry's stealthy return just a moment later. Then he entered a deep and dreamless sleep.
The next morning was so hot that the sullen old Riddle House actually felt warm in every aboveground room. Knowing that Harry had stayed up too late, Marvolo decided to wake him early as he had threatened.
Saying Harry's name had no effect. Marvolo gripped Harry's arm and slowly tightened his grasp.
Harry stirred, then lurched awake, trying to pull his arm away.
"Good morning, Harry," Marvolo greeted him, loosening his hold marginally. He felt Harry's muscles relaxing slowly.
"Uh… good morning," Harry mumbled. "What time is it?"
"Half past six."
"What…?" Harry sank back against the pillows."If you want to ensure a full sleep, you should go to bed earlier."
Harry obviously knew he had been caught.
Marvolo released his arm. "If you want a bit of privacy—alone or with Draco—I can give it to you. There's no need to creep around at night." He waited a moment, then prompted, "Don't you agree?"
With a deep sigh, Harry said, "Yeah. You're right. It's pretty silly of me to get upset over the Death Eater meeting and then go sneaking off. I'm sorry. Really." He looked it.
Marvolo tilted Harry's face toward him and looked him in the eye. "Remember what I told you. Don't be sorry; do better."
"I remember… but is it OK to be sorry, too?"
Smiling inwardly at Harry's jaw moving against his hand when he talked, Marvolo answered, "If your regret does not interfere with your progress. But it doesn't do to dwell on failure." He noted the light bruise forming on Harry's cheek. He took his hand away and turned toward the door. "I want you ready for breakfast by seven."
Draco looked tired at breakfast, but unlike Harry, he refrained from yawning. Harry was subdued; he spoke little.
"The Daily Prophet is making Dumbledore out to be a fool or insane," Marvolo announced, setting the paper aside.
"Isn't he a bit of both, my lord?" Draco asked.
"I assure you, he is neither. But as long as the public and the Ministry think so, he can take little action against us. All he can do is persuade them to waste assets looking for Harry."
"So, the best chance to attack will be when the Harry hunt is at its peak," Draco guessed. "When the Ministry is undermanned."
"You have a mind for strategy."
"What sort of attack?" Harry asked, his eyes a dull jade.
"That depends on many things."
"Like the meeting?"
Draco sipped his tea. "When will the search reach its climax?" he wondered aloud. "Surely soon."
"The Ministry is not worried enough yet. They are still convinced that Harry is most likely hidden somewhere at Hogwarts. They've gone so far as to ask Muggles to watch for him, but it may be several weeks before the public becomes anxious enough to force them to take real action. They know that Muggles raised Harry, so they will suspect that he is hiding among them to avoid being held responsible for the trouble at Hogwarts. The wizarding world will be nearly free of Aurors."
Marvolo saw his own eagerness reflected in Draco's eyes.
"It's superb," Draco said.
Harry merely frowned and toyed with the omelet on his plate.
After breakfast, Marvolo told Harry he wanted to see him in the study.
"I'll wait for you in the parlor," Draco said agreeably. "I'll be practicing."
"OK." Harry sounded a little nervous.
Once in the study, Marvolo bolted the door. "Does your face still hurt?" he inquired as he cleared the mahogany desk of books.
"Not really," Harry said, touching his fingers gingerly to his face.
Marvolo took that to mean "not as much." "Sit on the desk," he ordered. After a quick reference to one of the many books he had been studying, Marvolo performed a simple spell which caused the bruise to change from the first stages of brown and purple to the last stages of dull yellow. "Better?"
Again, Harry felt the injured area. "Yeah. I can't feel it at all now."
"Good. Now lie down."
Harry obeyed with an expression of wariness. "What are you going to do?"
Marvolo retrieved a bottle of the pale blue potion he had brewed over the past few evenings. Then he removed Harry's glasses. "Trust me?" he asked.
Harry's eyes registered unease, but he nodded.
"Look at the ceiling and try not to blink." Marvolo unstoppered the bottle in his hand and carefully tipped two drops of liquid into each of Harry's eyes.
The younger boy's mouth twitched slightly, and he sniffed in a sharp little breath at the first contact, but he did not blink.
"Very good; you may blink."
Harry closed and opened his eyes rapidly until a tear half made of potion slid from the corner of each.
"Now hold them open again."
Harry's eyes were blurry and unfocused now as he held them open.
Marvolo aimed his wand at Harry's left eye and calmly said the spell, "Occulus Proximus." He quickly repeated it for the other eye. "There. You may sit up and blink to your heart's content."
Harry rolled to his side and pushed himself upright. He reached for his glasses, but Marvolo held them beyond his reach.
"Just a moment," Marvolo said. "Look at me."
Harry did look, and Marvolo could see his pupils expanding and contracting in deep sea-green pools as they came to focus on the face before them.
"Oh…" Harry breathed.
"Yeah. Wow, yeah! I didn't know this was possible."
"It isn't permanent, I'm afraid; but you shouldn't need your glasses for a month or more. Then we can repeat the procedure."
"This is what all the books were for, then?" Harry asked. "You were planning to fix my farsightedness all that time ago?"
Harry's expression had turned somewhat shy, but not out of fear this time. "Thank you," he said. "I don't mind that you didn't tell me… Sometimes surprises are nice."
"I didn't tell you because I did not wish you to become too hopeful. There was the possibility that I would not manage the procedure."
"Oh. That actually didn't occur to me. I keep forgetting you're human, I guess."
Human, Marvolo thought, but I will not always be mortal.
"Listen," Harry went on, "I'm sorry I got so angry last night."
"You are allowed to be angry, as long as you show proper respect."
"But I don't want to be angry with you."
"Because it hurts." Harry's breathing had become rapid, his face flushed.
Marvolo reached out to brush potiony moisture from Harry's eyes. "You oughtn't do things to hurt yourself," he murmured. "It's not healthy." He waited until Harry seemed calm again. "Come along. Draco is waiting for us. Wear your glasses for now, please, and don't mention that you don't need them."
Harry looked puzzled, but he answered, "All right."
Harry's loyalty was growing; that much was obvious. But what would it take to turn caring into worship? Would it be worth it? Once again, Marvolo wondered whether it would be less bother if he killed Harry now. But the old argument sprang to mind: I can always kill him later.
In the parlor, Marvolo made Harry practice Serpensortia over and over until he could produce a fully-grown grass snake.
"Now," he instructed, "use the Imperius curse to bend him to your will. Project your mind to his."
Harry looked nervous but determined as he pointed his wand at the snake and pronounced, "Imperio!" Then he began hissing to the snake: "Come here… come on. Quickly, now…"
The snake had begun to slither toward Harry, but now it paused. Why?
"Come," Harry urged it more forcefully, "now."
The snake came further, but in odd, irregular patterns.
"He's trying to shake the spell off," Marvolo explained. "Don't let him get away with that."
Harry did finally get the snake to come to him, but after that it refused to do anything he asked.
"This one is spoiled," Marvolo declared. "He's learned to resist the curse, and you are not strong enough to control him anymore."
Harry nodded. "Start over on a new one?"
"Yes, but rather than Vanishing this one, I'd like you to kill it."
"Oh, why?" Harry asked, sounding a bit whiney, in Marvolo's opinion. "Can't it just disappear like the others?"
"You need to learn the spell."
"There's a spell for killing things?"
Marvolo was tempted to put his hand over Harry's scar and demand, "What did you think caused this—a Tickling Charm?" He glanced at Draco and saw that the Slytherin boy also grasped the irony of the situation. "Yes," he answered. "There is."
"Then why aren't wizards constantly killing each other?"
"For the same reason Muggles are not: there are laws against it. Besides, it is not a very easy spell. And then there are the superstitions. Many well-educated wizards will tell you that killing another human being will damage your soul. Though where their evidence is, I have no idea." Marvolo did not voice the thoughts flitting through his mind. For the first time since their arrival at the Riddle house, he wondered if Harry still had the Riddle diary and the basilisk fang. He hoped and suspected that he did.
"Well, what is the spell?" Harry asked.
"Draco?" Marvolo said, not trusting himself to say the words just now. He might kill Harry before he really meant to.
"It's Avada Kedavra," Draco answered, seeming a bit unnerved.
Marvolo watched Harry's bemused expression.
"That sounds sort of like abracadabra."
"Where do you suppose Muggles got that term?" Marvolo asked. "A corruption of the Killing Curse, twisted over a period of centuries.** They no longer have any concept of its origin. Give it a try."
"Um… couldn't I do it on a cricket or something?"
"Don't feel sorry for it. Go on. You probably won't manage it, anyway."
Harry set his jaw in the way he often did when trying something new. Aiming his wand at the snake at his feet, Harry said, "Avada Kedavra."
The snake twitched and hissed angrily. Leave me alone!
"You didn't mean it, Harry," Marvolo said. "You need to want it dead." Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Draco was itching to try it, but there was plenty of time to indulge the young Malfoy later. Harry's progress was much more important.
"But I don't want it dead," Harry said.
Marvolo caught Harry's gaze and held it. In Parseltonge, he declared, "If it is not dead within a few minutes, you will wish it were."
That seemed to do the trick. Harry looked a little scared and a little angry, but for once that was a good thing. He flicked his wand toward the snake and said in a strong, cold voice, "Avada Kedavra!"
The snake's head dropped to the floor.
Draco's jaw nearly did, too. "Wow, Harry…"
Marvolo enjoyed a moment of ecstasy. Sweet, innocent little Harry Potter had just made his first kill, and with the very curse which had scarred him so long ago. To make it even more rich, the boy was a natural. He had succeeded in only two tries. "Very well done, Harry. I am most pleased."
Harry swallowed, his eyes still locked on the dead snake. "Can I… may I… would you excuse me for a minute?" he stammered.
"Yes. Don't be long."
Marvolo Vanished the snake.
"That was amazing," Draco said. "I guess he just needed the right incentive." He looked expectantly at Marvolo.
Marvolo knew Draco was hoping to learn what had been said in Parseltongue, but he saw no reason to reveal it. "I believe I will allow the two of you to spend some time together this afternoon," he said casually, "to do as you please. I think Harry could use a rest from wandwork."
I'll try not to let a year go by before I update again! So sorry about that. Life and all that. Thanks for reading!
*This is not stated in canon, but it seems the most logical explanation for Snape Vanishing Draco's Conjured snake in COS and no one thinking of Vanishing the giant spiders or Mrs. Norris or any of the other nasty creatures they meet along the way.
** Again, not canon, but it's what I've thought since I first read the words "Avada Kedavra." Simple-minded Muggles and their magic shows… xp