Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter Series or any material written by Franz Kafka.
A/N: I'm sorry, I left on a terrible cliffhanger. If it was me, I'd be furious with myself for not updating my story so I could read it. Yeah, I'm so mad I'm writing nonsense.
Here's the long waited chapter. It's a little choppy. And, er, did I say there would be snuggling last time? My mistake, sorry, really (but I think I might have made up for it on the last page, don't you dare scroll down and read ahead!). I tried to write it in, I did. I wanted it to be longer, anyway. It just didn't work. But good news is the story will be longer!
He, he. There are probably some angry people right now, or at least there will be later if they skipped over this message and discover my lie once they finish reading. Perhaps I should have apologized in bold to capture their attention? Ah well.
In The Light But Surrounded By Shadows
"– and this time I discovered that the boy was indeed ill. In his right side, near the hip, was an open wound as big as the palm of my hand. Rose-red, in many variations of shade, dark in the hollows, lighter at the edges, softly granulated, with irregular clots of blood, open as a surface mine to the daylight. That was how it looked from a distance. But on a closer inspection there was another complication. I could not help a low whistle of surprise. Worms, as thick and as long as my little finger, themselves rose-red and blood-spotted as well, were wriggling from their fastness in the interior of the wound towards the light, with small white heads and many little legs. Poor boy, you were past helping. I had discovered your great wound; this blossom in your side was destroying you."
-Franz Kafka, the Complete Stories, A Country Doctor (223)
But Voldemort had to admit, it took a lot to bring the young wizard down.
And then a thought quickly crossed his mind as he exited and closed the door to Potter's room, which made him feel slightly odd (the way those kind of thoughts usually made one feel), as something he would never consciously think entered his head.
And nothing should dare try to bring Harry down again.
It was all just too weird.
What was Voldemort playing at? Being civil, giving him a room, being civil. Harry felt like he had entered a new universe, like Azkaban was a doorway from one bizarre place to the next.
And Harry knew some of his nerves should be settled, he knew that. His one main enemy didn't seem much of an enemy at this point. But that left Harry vulnerable. He didn't know what to expect next. The only reason he could think of, for why Voldemort was being so nice, was because he wanted to use Harry. Butter him up, then send him off to do Merlin knows what.
He just had to play along. But like he had said the previous day, he knew Voldemort. The man was as manipulating as Dumbledore. He could easily mess with someone's head. Harry had to be prepared. Play along, but always stay one step ahead so he couldn't fall pawn into Voldemort's chess games.
Harry grimaced slightly as he put on the new set of robes found in his closet. They were plain, oddly enough, just black. Probably Voldemort's mind games again. Giving Harry robes that wouldn't force a new personality on him, making him trust Voldemort unconsciously. Clever, Tom, Harry thought. But not clever enough.
But he couldn't help but feel refreshed in the new set of clothes. Being clean was a whole new appreciation Harry was starting to have. He had taken Voldemort's suggestion (because he wanted to, not because he had to) and got himself a shower the night before. He must have staid under the hot streams of water for half an hour before he even picked up the bar of soap. And as soon as he finished and dried off he got in again, not wanting to shake off the feeling of cleanliness by sleeping in a Deatheater bed.
He may not be on any certain side of the war, yet, but he couldn't suddenly forgive the deeds of the Deatheaters. He was angry at the entire wizarding world and it would take time until he found trust in any one person, let alone an entire side.
Which made him even more nervous about what would happen later that day. Before, Voldemort, the bastard, left saying he'd meet two people today, without even giving Harry a hint as to who he meant!
And saying Harry "would meet" two people – argh, Harry wasn't a child! Things weren't decided for him. He didn't have to meet people if he didn't want to, especially after Azkaban, after every fucking person turned on him.
He was in a very bitter mood.
When Voldemort came things didn't improve.
He asked him if he received breakfast from the house elf, Melva, and if he ate it (again, he wasn't a child!). He asked if he took the nutrient potion (as if he cared). And he asked about how he was feeling (like it would have mattered if he was horribly depressed and ill).
And then Voldemort took him to meet the two mystery people, and they didn't say anything, walking in silence. (A/N: I hate notes in the middle of a story, but sorry I rushed this part. It just didn't want to be written, and I couldn't stall the update any more.)
When Voldemort opened the door and Harry immediately recognized the two men before him.
"Oh, no. I'm not going to be in the same room as these assholes!" Harry said through gritted teeth, wishing he had a wand to curse the men before him.
They both looked the same from when he last saw them. Severus Snape still had the hooked nose, sallow skin, and greasy hair. Lucius Malfoy still looked liked he had a permanent stench stuck in his nose. No matter how much time had passed, three years or not, Azkaban or no Azkaban, Harry still disliked these men. Why was he "to meet" them today?
"Harry," Voldemort said. "They helped to – "
"Make my life miserable?" Harry finished for him, not taking his glare of the greasy haired potions master or the blonde haired git. "I mean, come on, at least you - " he turned to Voldemort - "had a reason, with the prophecy... Snape here based his actions off some stupid grudge he had with my dad, and Malfoy is just a prick." But as soon as Harry said that he realized something; he had just compared Snape and Malfoy to the Dark Lord Voldemort and made Voldemort come out with the better end of the stick! What was his wrong with him?
All three men in the room caught that as well and gave him an odd look. Harry didn't know what to say, and luckily Voldemort spoke. "It's because of these two men that you are innocent."
"Wh -what?" Harry asked, regaining himself quickly. "No, that can't be right." He narrowed his eyes. "Yesterday, I asked you if you knew of anyone who had believed me of being innocent, and you said you didn't know of anyone."
"Jumping to conclusions, as always," Snape said, his gaze looming over Harry like a very annoying shadow. "You don't have to believe someone is innocent to help prove that they are. But, for the record Potter, you are many things, but not a murderer."
Harry turned to look at Voldemort, asking again, "You told me everyone thought I was guilty."At that current point in time, a few days after your trial, I hadn't believed of anyone thinking you were innocent. Later, though," He shared a look with Snape, not helping Harry's state of confusion, "Well, I found out there were people who believed in you. I could have told you yesterday, but it wasn't the right time." He ignored the glare Harry was giving him. "A month passed, when someone came to me. Someone who will remain nameless currently considering they wanted to be here themselves to tell you but couldn't make it until tomorrow, so you will find out then." Again! How much information concerning him was going to be a mystery? It was his eleventh birthday all over again.
Voldemort continued. "This person was convinced that your Azkaban issue wasn't going away anytime soon, and came to me for help. Once we started to gather people who could help clear your name, I found there were a few who didn't necessarily believe in your sentence."
"You see, Potter," Snape said. "Anyone who ever met you, and who wasn't under the Order of Phoenix's thumb, could clearly see you were innocent. All it took was persuading the Ministry to see that."
Suddenly it clicked in Harry's mind. "You faked the evidence to get me out?"
"Very good, it seems you have a functioning brain after all. Odd enough it only took four years of Azkaban, seeming as it would usually do the opposite to someone. But that's always been your specialty, hasn't it?"
Harry kept his face calm, but looked Snape in the eye, hoping the man could read his thoughts, as he imagined some cruel and unpleasant things about him.
Lucius Malfoy started to speak, oddly polite. Harry supposed it was Voldemort's presence. "With two Master occulemens, a potions master, and wizard with enough gold to buy the ministry and its employees, Mr. Potter, anything is possible."
Curious, Harry asked, "What did you do?"
"It started slow," Malfoy said. "Every week, for about two months, I gave a...generous donation to the Ministry." Harry didn't want to imagine how much gold was given up. "It's all about leverage and control. It was because of this that we kept Dumbledore out of the trial."
Harry raised his eyebrows. He underestimated how much influence Malfoy had, but he wondered if Dumbledore kept as much as a hold on the Ministry as he had a month prior, during Harry's trial. He couldn't have become any more popular once Harry, his star student, went to Azkaban. All the more proof Dumbledore wasn't the cause of the trial, but still left suspicious for the reason he staid in Azkaban. Like Voldemort had said, he might have wanted to control Harry once his mind was completely gone to gain more political control.
Snape started to speak. "The only thing left to do was to find a wizard, Macnair in this case, and plant false memories in their head. Usually that task is not easily accomplished, but with two wizards experienced in the art of legilimency, it was at least possible. We planted bits and fragments of you being knocked out, carried away, and taken to the department of mysteries. And, of course, we gave him the memories of murdering Kingsley Shacklebolt and Vernon Dursley. Since Macnair had experience killing in cold blood, those memories were easily absorbed into these fake ones, making it all that much more realistic. It wasn't perfect, it took a long amount of time for the Ministry to decide you were innocent, but it was obviously good enough."
"And that worked?" Harry asked in disbelief. "If the system is so easily broken then wh– "
"It was not easy," Snape interrupted, his eyes narrow. "I had to feed him constant, complicated potions to make he didn't loose his mind in the process. Some of those potions took a year to make, some many months, but all of them constant care. Less then three percent of wizards in the world can complete the potions I've used, let alone use legilimency with someone as powerful as the Dark Lord on a willing victim."
"Willing?" Harry asked.
Malfoy smirked. "You'd be surprised at how many people volunteer to go to Azkaban for the Dark Lord."
"But he would have gone to Azkaban anyway," Snape said. "A week prior to this set-up, he ran off on his own, found a small muggle town, and made eleven inhabitants go insane from the Cruciatus Curse. This also helped with our cause because the Ministry was already angered with him, they believed anything else bad associated with his name."
Harry absorbed the information, with just one more question itching to be asked. "Why? Why do all of this work to get me, of all people, out of Azkaban? Why?" Because you're using me? Harry thought, giving the men a penetrating stare, not looking right in the eyes, mind you, he didn't forget about legilimency these men used, and the knowledge and practice he, himself, lacked in. If they avoided the answer, Harry could assume he was right. Why else hide the truth?
Malfoy and Snape both exchanged glances before both turning to look at Voldemort, and Harry had to keep from rolling his eyes in frustration. He hated when people did that in front of him. It was incredibly obvious they were hiding something. And he was now just about certain his suspicions had been confirmed. They were using him.
For the first time in a few years he felt a rage fill him.
"I think," Voldemort started, sending Malfoy and Snape away. "That question is better left answered on another day."
He should have known Potter wouldn't have let that settle the matter.
"Another day? I'm eighteen Voldemort. An adult. An adult just broken out of Azkaban by three people who hate him. I think I deserve to know why." Potter's tone had become cold, and Voldemort mentally raised a brow at the change in behavior. It was time to get to the bottom of this.
"I'll tell you," Voldemort said, hiding the smirk on his face. "When you tell me why you had only first heard my name a month before starting Hogwarts." The expression on Harry's face was priceless, as he gaped. Voldemort didn't bother hiding his smirk now. "Fair enough?"
"No!" Harry yelled, trying to sound like he was joking, making Voldemort again wonder exactly what was going on in Potter's head. "The information you're withholding from me actually concerns me. Information about my childhood doesn't concern you." Voldemort raised another eyebrow at the word childhood. There was obviously something bigger Harry was hiding than he had first thought. But Voldemort didn't press on that, especially since it seemed Harry hadn't noticed his little slip. It wasn't the right time, and Merlin knew he needed an argument with Potter right now.
"It's my name, after all," Voldemort told him. "By your logic, I deserve to know why you, of all people, didn't know my name for, what? Eleven years?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. "It isn't the same at all. What I have to say is personal."
"Well all you have to do is answer my question for me to answer yours."
Voldemort was surprised when he actually hesitated. Potter seemed wrapped up in his own thoughts, looking like he was trying to figure out an impossible puzzle, which he had no doubt, was Voldemort, himself.
"I suppose so," Harry said, his voice harsh.
"Potter," Voldemort said, rounding on him. "Your attitude has been less then appropriate."
This made the young wizard fumed. "Excuse me?" He hissed. "Am a child you are babysitting? Don't order me around! I'm not asking to stay here! I'm not asking for you to be – be nice to me! It's your Deatheaters that brought me here!"
"From Azkaban!" Voldemort growled. "Would you honestly rather be there than here?"
"The point is that I don't want to stay!" Harry baled his fists.
"And go where? Yes, I thought so," He said, seeing the hesitant looks on the young wizard. ""Why are you in such a hurry to leave? You just got out of Azkaban, I'm amazed you're as healthy as you are, which isn't much." He eyed the raven haired wizard, paler than death, and skinner then a house elf. "You don't have anywhere to go. You don't even have a wand."
"I have a wand," Potter snarled, before a look of longing crossed his face. "It's just, inaccessible at the moment." Voldemort passed this off as denial, considering how hard it would probably be for the wizard to except the ministry destroyed his wand.
"Why are you in such a hurry to leave?" He repeated.
Potter swelled in anger. "You're only using me!" Harry blurted out, but didn't care. "Yeah, I know. You're brilliant plan is over. What next? Obliviate? Imperius curse? Avada Kedavra?"
Voldemort narrowed his eyes, suddenly enraged. How could he possibly think that? He didn't know a damn thing. His voice was dangerous as he whispered, "Do you honestly think that?"
"Of course I do!" Harry spat. "Why else would you being doing this? The last time I saw you, you wanted to kill me!"
Voldemort had to control his anger. He couldn't loose control of himself. He had to remind himself that it wasn't Potter's fault he didn't know yet. Not that he'd be finding out soon. "You don't know anything."
"Obviously!" Harry yelled. "So tell me, goddammit!"
"Why, what I have to say is personal," Voldemort responded in a mocking tone, shooting back the same words said to him. "But I will tell you I'm genuinely saying you can stay here, without the worry of being killed, or used," He said the last word with a snarl.
"I can't trust you," Harry said. "And you can't do anything to prove otherwise. You can't do anything to keep me to stay." He gave a challenging look to Voldemort.
Then he did something that he had never before let cross his mind let alone do, but really, who was he to refuse a challenge?
He bent down until they could both feel the warm breath of each other's breathing. He kept his eyes on Harry's, who were crinkled in confusion. He ignored it. Slowly he laid his lips against Harry's moist and warm lips. A shock rippled through his body, but he broke the kiss before either of their tongues could escape.
He stood straight. "Well, Potter," He said, as if nothing had happened. "You have a curious mind. I'm sure you'll want to stay so you can understand just why the big bad Dark Lord bent down and kissed you." He bent down next to Harry's ear, "And enjoyed it."
He left, sparing Harry from having anyone see the deep red blush that was no doubt forming at the moment. He didn't want yet another reason for Harry to avoid him. After all, he had changed.
Just much more so than what Harry could ever imagine.
A/N: I wanted to name the house elf Twiggle, but it didn't seem to fit the house elf of a Dark Lord. I only re-read this once, so don't be too harsh if there's a mistake. Sorry it was short, but thanks for reading!
And thank you, LoonyLovegood9909, for getting on my back to get this up.