THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO EVERYBODY WHO READ AND REVIEWED NEW DIVIDE AS WE WERE GOING ALONG! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! And thank you to my beta Star-Faerie, and to Areae Swiftwind who sort of disappeared along the way!
I don't like it, but I think that's because it's the last chapter and I don't want it to end. What will I do now? :P What do you think?
July 19th 2001.
It had been more than three years since Voldemort had found his Anathema again, and it was during this time that their son had been born and Voldemort's campaign had flourished, enabling them to take over Wizarding Britain. The majority of his enemies had been killed or imprisoned three years ago. Some of those deemed to be of little threat to him were being released and either re-enrolled at Hogwarts or put to work in obscure jobs where he would never have to look upon them again.
Hermione and Ron were being released that day. It hadn't taken a lot of convincing for Voldemort to allow Harry to attend.
Over those three years, Voldemort had mellowed; that's not to say that he wasn't an evil dictator and a manipulative, possessive man, but once the threats had died down and his control over Britain had solified, he had begun to allow Harry more freedom. Mind you, that freedom ended the moment Harry entered his third trimester, up until Mallory was three months old. By his third trimester, Harry was already rather big, most of it was water retention, but since the pregnancy was glaringly obvious to anyone who looked and the size of Harry's stomach slowed him down, Voldemort insisted that Harry remain home where he'd be safe, where the child would be safe. Voldemort wouldn't allow the child out of their Manor until he deemed the family fit for public consumption; he would be taking no risks with his family no that he had finally managed to have one. They had moved into their own place once their son was born, but while smaller than Malfoy Manor, it was no less heavily warded, because after all Lord Voldemort was still a paranoid, anal-retentive mess the majority of the time.
Harry had promised that they would all be safe, and Voldemort had agreed to bring his family to the Ministry as he could never pass up an opportunity to show them off. They were his crowning glory, his pride and joy, and as much as he gloated about his control of the Wizarding world Harry knew Voldemort would have been content to lose it all and live peacefully, just the four of them. Voldemort enjoyed the power, cherished it, in fact, gloried in it. Power and knowledge were almost everything to the Dark Lord, and he relished in the hold he had over everyone. But he loved Harry, and he would give it up if he were asked to. Harry would never ask, because in all honesty Voldemort wasn't a bad leader; he was fair, and just, and despite the fact that some of his laws where outrageous they were popular. This was what Voldemort had been born to be, this was what made him happy. And Harry loved him too much to have him any other way.
Harry waited patiently, flanked on either side by a young boy. Teddy, who was three years and three months old now, held one of Harry's hands, calmly waiting for his 'aunt' and 'uncle' to appear. On Harry's other side, two-and-a-half year old Mallory Riddle yawned widely, rubbing at his eyes with his fists. Harry watched him with a soft smile, and then reached down to brush his fingers through the child's black hair. Both boys were dressed like little purebloods, in hand-made tailored robes, with pressed white shirts, black pants and shiny shoes. In comparison Harry felt rather shabby in his jeans and dress robe, but then Voldemort turned around and his eyes lit up in desire and Harry felt better.
The prisoners who had been given shorter sentences, like Hermione and Ron for breaking and entering, and Luna Lovegood and her father for publishing anti-imperial sentiments, would be arriving from Azkaban soon. They'd be paraded through the Ministry, led to a meeting with the Minister for Magic, Adler Rosendale, and with Lord Voldemort, and then they would be sent home and forgotten as long as they behaved themselves. Those with longer sentences would be staying in Azkaban for some years more, unless Voldemort was feeling particularly generous (which was unlikely) or unless they were suddenly needed for something. Like Horace Slughorn. He'd been sentenced to two years for attempting to impede the takeover of Hogwarts, but had been released barely three months later when there had been problems concerning teaching staff. Lord Voldemort couldn't decide on a Headmaster for Hogwarts, and since Horace had been the only professor he had ever genuinely liked, and Severus was dead, and McGonagall in Azkaban too, it had been a relatively easy decision. But not many people would be that lucky.
Harry knew that he should give those people some thought, some ounce of concern, the way he had used to get upset over Stan Shunpike who had been falsely imprisoned for being a Death Eater. But he didn't. He couldn't. These people had been genuinely guilty of the crimes they had been accused of, even though that might merely have been to rebel; stupid, petty crimes, but crimes nonetheless and Voldemort's court had been rather just when handing down their sentences. Unlike the old Wizengamont, who had imprisoned Sirius for life for telling a Secret, despite the fact that there was no trial, no proof, and that he hadn't actually killed anyone, because Merlin knows none of those Wizards cared about the twelve Muggles who were killed in the crossfire.
Harry looked over at his husband. They were married now, for the first time because Tom had never gotten around to gaining Anathema's father's permission before. Voldemort was good at his job, sometimes too good. There were days where Harry actually believed that things should have always been this way, days where Harry agreed with the changes, where he encouraged them, and then he'd remember that things had been fine before for him at least, but things could have been worse too. Voldemort could have done all of this differently, and Harry was thankful that he hadn't, that the Horcruxes were mostly gone and that Tom was mostly in control.
Voldemort looked over at Harry, eyes taking him all in, from his scruffy jeans half-hidden beneath his expensive dress robe, and Voldemort's black shirt that hung off of Harry's thin frame, to the unruly mop of dark brown hair, and those eyes that caught his gaze and brightened just for him.
Horace Slughorn continued to talk to him, acting as if fifty-odd years hadn't passed them by; as if he had never been sent to Azkaban, as if he'd never opened his mouth about Anathema's pregnancy in the first place. Voldemort wondered, as he turned his attention back to his old teacher, if he would have reacted as violently as he had if Anathema had told him himself, if he hadn't spent those intermediate hours wondering about the real father of that child. His eyes skimmed towards the children, one his and the other not though Harry had finally conceded to changing the boys surname at least: they were all Riddles now, as much as he loathed the name, it was his own. Mallory looked over at his father and grinned, milk-teeth straight and white and bared, and he waved excitedly, and Voldemort wondered how he could have ever been so ungrateful, so stupid, as to have harmed his other child. Why wouldn't he have wanted this?
"Life has a way of coming right in the end, Tom," Horace said softly, reaching out as if they were friends to place a sweaty hand on Voldemort's shoulder. Passing Ministry workers and Death Eaters alike stopped and stared, and even Harry looked mildly worried, as Voldemort turned slitted red eyes onto the Hogwarts Headmaster. Horace nodded towards Harry. "You were never the same after Anathema's murder, and the death of the child too, it must have been horrendous for you! But you have him now, and the young Master, well both of them," he smiled widely as he spoke, seemingly unconcerned about touching the Dark Lord. "You must be very proud."
"Well, see! There it is, Tom! I always knew you'd make a brilliant father, must say, I'm glad you got the chance. Was thinking to myself I'd have to tell you so the next time I saw you, but well, you haven't been at Hogwarts much. Spending time with your family, eh?"
"Hogwarts was a fond time for me. But it is no longer my home," Voldemort spoke softly, so that only Horace could hear him. Those walking passed merely saw his mouth moving, and his hand pushing Slughorn's off of his shoulder.
Horace winced. "Bad memories? I suppose it must be hard to be there and remember times spent with your friends and Anathema when you've outlived them all."
Voldemort offered him a half-smile, a quirk of one corner of his mouth that Horace would have missed if he hadn't have turned right at that moment to offer a pitying glance. "I have better memories now, and a new home." He paused, thinking about the speech he would give later on to those being reintroduced to society. Maybe Slughorn was in need of hearing it too? "Bad times are like rain clouds," he sighed, pausing. This speech… Lucius had written it for him, and even as he thought about it, Voldemort felt like vomiting a little in his mouth, but Harry had said it was beautiful and so he commended Lucius on a job well done and refrained from torturing the falsely sentimental man. "Eventually, they'll pass by. Everything passes us by eventually, Horace; the difference between good times and bad times is only that when a good time is ending you hold onto it that much tighter and yet you let the bad time go, but the memories of both are always there, and both always end. Change is inevitable."
"Yes," Horace said, clearing his throat uncomfortably, "well."
"Ah, here they come. It was nice talking to you," he said, sounding more sincere than he thought he was. But perhaps he had needed that closure? To talk to the man about his lover and child, the same man who had confided in him about Ana's child, congratulated him and then consoled him after Ana's death. This man, who while not knowing that Anathema had never truly left him, was happy that he had moved on and was happy. This time, in this life, being genuinely congratulated on his child was something that Voldemort would cherish for the rest of his life: how proud he was, how pleased, at the thought of Mallory, and how he wondered if Harry would mind being pregnant again.
"Hello, my Harry," he whispered into Harry's ear as he wrapped an arm around the younger man's waist. Mallory shifted to make room for his father and then pressed himself back, hugging the Dark Lord's legs. Teddy stayed still and composed, silent and attentive, because after all he was almost four and he wasn't a baby like Mallory was! Voldemort, sensing their eldest's thoughts, chuckled softly.
"Welcome back, Dark Lord," Harry teased with a grin, leaning sideways to press a light kiss to the edge of Voldemort's mouth.
The doors to the atrium opened, and the hall fell silent. Those waiting within stood still, surrounding the Dark Lord's family, and the families of those being released, and they waited with bated breath as Aurors appeared first, followed by a handful of bedraggled looking children. Because that's what they were. The youngest among them was nineteen, but the eldest was only twenty-two, a child themselves when they were imprisoned, deprived of their childhood because they fought for what they believed in.
Luna lifted her hand in greeting, staring above Harry's head as she was led past him. Hermione kept her eyes averted, her hands shaking in fear, but she couldn't help but sneak peeks at her old friend. She gasped loudly in the deathly silent atrium, eyes wide as they locked on the small boy clinging to the Dark Lord, and then flicking back to Harry. He offered her a wry grin, his free hand shifting to touch his stomach as the other held Teddy's still. Instinctively she found herself offering a smile back.
"Congratulations," she whispered as she past him, remembering Harry's pain as he dreamt about Anathema's child's murder. Familiar green eyes looked at her from the two-year-old's face, and Mallory offered her a shy grin too.
A couple of others that Harry recognized from being in the year bellow him at Hogwarts followed her, people he knew by face but not by name, but they all knew him. They pointed and gasped and some glared, but for the most part they walked dejectedly by him and out of the atrium to meet the Minister.
But one remained behind.
Ron Weasley stopped dead, arms folded across his chest, and he glared. One Auror waited at the other side of the Atrium; the others and the prisoners were out of sight by now. But Ron made no attempt to follow them.
"He killed my sister."
Harry pushed Teddy behind him, out of sight and out of reach, but Ron didn't make any move to attack. Voldemort, similarly, stepped in front of Mallory.
"He killed your girlfriend. He killed your parents. Sirius died because of him. You had to live at the Dursleys because of him, damn it!"
"Bellatrix killed Sirius. Albus left me with the Dursleys. People die in war, Ron, it happens." Harry tried to sound placating, but he just felt tired. He'd had this argument so many times since he got married, and even then most of the living and free friends he had left didn't turn up. Hermione had understood, though she had hated how Harry hadn't even tried to defend her at her trial, because she had been trying to save him and he had let them all condemn her for it. But she had understood.
"He's a murderer!" Ron screamed, his face almost as red as his hair.
Harry just shrugged, because after all, hadn't he killed people too? Quirrell had died because of him, and Cedric, and Sirius if you wanted to get technical about it. Crabbe had died too, or was it Goyle, both, Harry remembered. One in the fire, and one later from smoke inhalation, and he could have tried harder to save them but he hadn't because it had been war and it was every man for themselves. He had killed people too. They all had. Anyone who had fought for Hogwarts might have been incidentally responsible for the death of another person, and the only death Harry could really hold against Voldemort was their unborn child's, because everyone else he had killed could have fought back.
"She loved you!" Ron was crying now. "He killed her!"
"What do you want me to say, Ron? I broke up with her because I thought something like that would happen. I didn't ask her to continue telling people she was my girlfriend, did I? How was I supposed to know what was going to happen? I didn't even know she'd be there! She was meant to be at home."
"She loved you," Ron whispered, seeming to shrink in on himself.
"But I didn't love her."
And with that Ron changed. He looked less defeated, more enraged, and his eyes narrowed as they looked up at the Dark Lord.
"YOU!" He hissed, fists clenched, "you did this! This is your fault!" And then he was running at them, hunched forward like a rugby player with his arms spread. Harry didn't even think about the children, because he knew Ron wouldn't hurt them, even if Voldemort had fathered one of them. Ron was quick to anger and easy to forgive, but he wasn't the kind of person to hurt a defenceless child.
But he would try and hurt Voldemort. And Voldemort would kill him for it. Harry would then be obligated to be angry, and to hate him, and to feel guilty for not doing something to protect Ron like he had failed to protect Ginny and Cedric. He refused to go through that again. He was happy, finally happy, and he wasn't going to let Voldemort ruin that. So without really considering the consequences, he pulled the Elder Wand from his robe pocket and he pointed it at the boy who had once been his brother.
Ron didn't even have time to be surprised as green light shot towards him. He didn't stop running, he didn't keep running; he simply stopped, toppling forward like a statue and hitting the floor face first, almost in the same place as his sister landed three years ago. The green light faded, and it was followed by multiple voices exclaiming and whispering and screaming, but Harry stood in the eye of the proverbial storm, unaffected by what he had just done. Behind him, Voldemort tensed, waiting for some sort of reaction, but Harry just offered him a smile and pulled Mallory into his arms.
"I'm not angry," Harry said, leaving the 'with you' unmentioned. He had no one to blame for Ron's death but Ron and himself, after all. He cuddled Mallory against his chest, mourning the loss of his best friend, one he hadn't seen for three years but who he had loved regardless.
"I love you," Harry whispered softly, for the second time that day. Voldemort actually thought he might have meant it this time. There had been moments, instances where he had hoped, where he had believed, but Harry had stuck to his 'once a day' rule for the past three years, never saying it again, but neither had he said it, so perhaps that was fair. But this time, this time Harry had said it again, without prompting, without begging, and Voldemort reached for Harry's arm, linking their fingers, and led his family from the atrium.
"And I you," he breathed. Despite how he felt, he still couldn't say the words, and no doubt Harry deserved to hear them, but he wasn't able. They caught in his throat, got stuck on his tongue and he choked on them, stumbled over the pronunciation and the letter 'l'. Many times he had turned his face away in shame as Harry and Anathema both had watched expectantly, disappointedly.
"I know you do." Harry reached out to take Teddy's hand, while still carrying Mallory. He had to let go of Voldemort though, but that was ok, because Voldemort's arm encircled his waist and pulled Harry against his side, slotting them together like pieces of a puzzle, like two halves of one whole.
September 1st 2001.
Hermione glanced around the Great Hall. She was sitting alone at the Gryffindor table, while other students shifted around her, talking and muttering about nothing and everything at once. But no one spoke to her. As part of her parole, she was allowed to finish her Hogwarts education, repeating with the current sixth years, and then the seventh years, before finally taking her NEWTs. All of her friends were dead or had moved on by then, and she didn't know anyone in her year, except Luna, though she did recognize some of the other newly released prisoners.
Muggleborns were no longer allowed to attend Hogwarts. Instead, with the exception of Hermione (who was certain Harry had finally intervened on her behalf), there were no other Muggleborns in the school, which was partly the reason that no one would speak to her.
Children were being adopted at birth, or being contacted now rather than at age eleven, and being sent to a special training school where they would learn the same things that Purebloods taught their children in the pre-Hogwarts years. Those that were too old, those that had already started Hogwarts, were finishing their education at the Ministry, overseen by professors and tutors, and then they would be expected to teach themselves about the Wizarding world and take a test. If they failed, then the Wizarding world had no use for them, and each of them knew better than to believe that they would simply be Obliviated and sent on their way.
Hermione would have to pass the same test along with her NEWTs but they wouldn't pose a problem for her. She enjoyed studying, and most of the old knowledge Harry possessed had been taught to him by Hermione anyway, so really, she was the one better suited to be a Pureblood. But that was life.
In the months since her release she had been staying in a specialised housing unit, set up the year previous when Voldemort realized some of the sentences would be expiring soon. It was almost like an orphanage, but also like a hostel: Hermione likened it to the places in America where criminals on parole were made to live, tagged and monitored, but no longer behind metal bars. She had spent her remaining summer studying up on the changes Voldemort had made.
Some of his ideas reeked of Harry's influence, but the Daily Prophet credited the Dark Lord solely. She had snorted, reread the article about Lord Voldemort protecting abused children, and thought about Harry, bone-thin and bruised, being rescued by a flying Ford and Harry scared and trying to hide it as his uncle grabbed him and shook him because the Order had dared speak to him in public. Harry had to have had something to do with it, she had thought, because Harry wouldn't have been able to stand back and allow other children to suffer that fate. But then she had remembered Voldemort's past, or what Harry had shared of it, and felt guilty for ignoring the abuse Tom Riddle had suffered.
Without the Horcruxes, and the murder, and the madness, she thought, would their world have been a better place already? Years and years before she would have been born? Would she have even known her parents then, or would she have been blood adopted and raised as a Black or a Malfoy or a Lestrange like other babies this year? She wouldn't have known any differently then, they would never have had to fight that horrid war, and lose so many friends. They would never have had to suffer and grieve and give, give, give for the greater good. She could see it in her mind already. Lord Voldemort and Anathema Black and their blue-eyed baby, ruling over their world. They'd have been full of charm and grace and power.
Hermione wondered, as she sat isolated at the Gryffindor table, if things would have been better if the world had changed like that. Where no one would be alive now who remembered it.
After all, ignorance was bliss.
Now that it is over… I just want to say I know some of you wanted me to write about the outside world, or Hermione and Ron in Azkaban, or the Death Eaters, etc, but this story is about Anathema and Tom. So that's how I wrote it.
BUTTERFLY: No it has not been discontinued. I have lost my notebook with all of year 3's notes in it, so I have no idea what I'm doing since my memory is crap. But, at the time of posting this, I have already started updating Butterfly again.
THE ABYSS: I am planning on working on this one next! Yay! It's about time right? Only, the chapters are all so long, and I tend to wander off about a couple of hours, get distracted and forget about it :/ Again, by the time I got this back from my beta, chapter 3 was already posted.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: This will probably be my next multi-chaptered fiction. It's LV/HP, and Harry has a twin but is still the BWL… SEE YOU AROUND I HOPE!