Hi Everyone! I finally have time to update now! ^.^ I can't say this is much more that a filler though. You'll have to wait till next chappie to hear about Gringotts! XD
Cherrie-san, that song you were listening to wouldn't happen to be "In Noctem" would it? If not, I'd love to know the name of it. And DTDY, Guest, dolphindreamer, and Charlie0925, I couldn't message you back, but thanks to each of you for your review! I always love hearing from my reviewers!
He couldn't remember anything that Tom was telling him about.
In fact, Harry felt as if he'd only just woken up from a lovely dream that was even now slowly drifting out of his grasp. He mourned it, really. Even though he couldn't remember it, it was the only good dream he'd had for a long time. He knew it wouldn't be back any time soon, either.
Tom had explained how his mindscape seemed so empty and dark. How it had been covered by a silencing spell. And the Mirror of Erised had apparently been the center of this desolate place.
Harry sat curled in his chair, nursing a cup of hot chocolate, listening to Tom go on and on about possible explanations and theories, but most of them, despite his trying to understand, simply went far over his head. He smiled at the man's zeal, though. He could tell that, had he been allowed to teach in the first place, Tom probably wouldn't have ever taken up the mantle of Dark Lord. The man simply reveled in knowledge.
"…the silencing spell, you should begin to experience spurts of accidental magic." Tom completed a train of thought and took a breath before sipping from his own teacup. Harry sat up straight, alarmed. His hand clenched around his cup.
Tom gave him a knowing look, which was mixed with irritation at being so obviously ignored, but he kindly re-explained himself.
"The silencing spell was keeping all your magic concentrated on the mirror. Now, with that gone, you can begin to repair your mindscape; unconsciously of course, unless you want to try your hand at Occlumency again."
Harry shook his head with a sheepish look.
"But after your mindscape is satisfactorily repaired, your magic will only need to focus on two things: the Mirror of Erised and your physical body, which is what magic is usually primarily focused on. Since you have not had access to that magic for so long, you will not be able to control it as easily as you can now. It is more wild and used to acting of its own accord."
"You're likening my magic to a wild animal?" Harry asked, a little amused at the metaphor.
"It is an apt description, yes. But like a wild animal, you magic will not always be under your leash. Hence the accidental magic."
There was silence for a moment. Then Harry shook his head and smiled, despite the situation.
"You just dumbed it down for me, didn't you?" He asked, finally setting his near-empty cup on the little table that Tom had conjured not too long before which sat to the side of Harry's own chair. Tom mirrored his actions, placing his tea on a small table next to his own chair. He stood and went closer to the fireplace.
"A little." Tom admitted. "It's a complex bit of Legilimency to explain in any situation. But now, the situation is made worse by the fact that this mirror has been stealing you magic's 'attention' –for lack of a better word- for years. A person's mind and magic are always closely intertwined, but in your case- well, your case seems increasingly convoluted. It's almost like half of your magic has always been hidden from you."
"But I've never noticed it." Harry protested. "Wouldn't I notice that much magic being simply…gone? Wouldn't I have a hard time casting spells or something? If that was true, then I probably wouldn't be able to cast the Patronus charm as well as I can."
"Not so. For two reasons." Tom added as Harry seemed about to argue. "First, I said always, which means that, from the time your magic became preoccupied, you had no access to it, whatsoever. If Dumbledore was indeed the person who did this, then it probably happened when he had you taken to your relatives, or soon after. As a baby, you can't realize that the integral part of yourself that has been taken away is your magic. Harry, you simply never knew what you were missing."
Harry frowned, not liking what had apparently been done to him when he was just a baby.
"As for the second, with the Patronus charm, any witch or wizard can cast it, even a squib, if they can conjure up the mental willpower to form it. The more powerful a witch or wizard, the more of a shape the Patronus takes. Your Patronus is admirable, I must admit. However, I think that you are far more powerful than anyone ever thought. To have so much magic available even after these spells…well, the remainder of your magic might have overdeveloped to compensate, but I'd rather wait and see the results for myself.
Harry swallowed. Tom was looking at him with that predatory look again, a smile on his face while he absently rubbed his thumb along the edge of the fireplace mantle. He grasped for something to say, and something that had been bothering him at the edge of his thoughts popped to mind.
"But what about the damage to my mindscape? You said it looked like Hogwarts. If that was so, wouldn't that mean that the damage was sustained after I came to Hogwarts for the first time? I'd never been here before, after all."
Tom seemed thoughtful about that. "Perhaps…but I don't think so. The damage could have been present to begin with and then simply transferred over to your concrete mindscape."
"It's something that's developed during a witch or wizard's adolescence. Before that, their mindscape is constantly changing until one event or place makes an extreme imprint on that person. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if your mindscape hadn't been someplace in your relatives' home at one point. Or even your parents' if you could have remembered it.
"But the Mirror of Erised…yes, that does seem to be something strange. It could have…no, but…" Tom trailed off, mumbling to himself. Then he frowned, long and hard, as if he had just tasted something extremely disgusting.
"Tom?" Harry asked.
"Was Dumbledore ever with you when you were asleep? When you weren't aware of his actions?"
"Yes. Throughout the years, I've been unconscious in the hospital wing enough times." Harry said, furrowing his brow and trying to catch Tom's line of thinking.
"He probably created the Mirror of Erised in your mindscape after your initial contact with the physical object. You would have had to have an understanding of its purpose for it to gain such meaning in your mind. When did you first find it?"
"My…first year. The same year you possessed Professor Quirrell." Harry said, lost for a moment. "But you know that, don't you? The mirror hid the Philosopher's Stone."
Tom blinked. "No. I don't remember much from when…well, before the graveyard. But!" Tom returned to the topic at hand abruptly. "After that, Dumbledore must have planted the Mirror in your mind. I can't think of any other way for it to have existed in your mindscape before you were introduced to it. The damage, yes. The silence, yes. The darkness, certainly. But you had no concept of the Mirror before your first year, so it could not have existed in your mind."
"So I have to understand something before it can exist in my mind?"
"Or simply know it, yes. You don't need to know the complex machinations behind it to be able to imagine it. Picture a watch, for example. When you think of it, you see the watch face and the hands moving over its surface. But you probably don't think of the complex system of gears that move those hands, and that system is not necessary for you to recognize what you imagined as a watch. Your mind is your imagination, Harry." Tom breathed out the last bit, as if he were amazed at the ingenuity of a living being's mind.
But then, why shouldn't he be? It seemed amazing enough to Harry who couldn't begin to understand these things. It seemed as if the mindscape was certainly not bound by the rules of the world outside it. And Tom, who knew far more about it, would be in far more of a position to judge the extraordinary capabilities of the mind.
"So…" Harry started quietly. "What can we do about it? The Mirror is still there, isn't it?"
"It is. But I won't use Legilimency on you again for a little while. We need to give your mindscape a chance to recover. My way of entering your mind may seem gentle, but any intrusion like that can cause damage, even if it stays unseen for a time." Tom answered softly, as if he were trying to calm Harry down. Harry was a little irritated at the tone, since he wasn't upset, but he ignored the urge to scowl in response.
"I wanted to ask about that. Before, when Severus used Legilimency on me, it…hurt. It hurt a lot. Why didn't…Why didn't I feel anything this time?"
Tom smiled in response. "Did it never cross your mind that I am simply that good?"
Harry's eyebrows raised and he snorted. "Yes. That's not being full of yourself at all." He deadpanned.
Tom gave a short bark of laughter. "Not at all, Harry. You must realize that I am far older than you know; nearly twice Severus's age. I've had far more practice, I think. But even if that weren't so, my magic is more powerful as well, which is an important factor in Legilimency and Occlumency."
Harry nodded instead of saying anything. The topic change hadn't kept the thoughts away. Thoughts about what he would do when his magic began to get unpredictable. Thoughts filled with anger at what Dumbledore had done to him. What he had done to Tom.
And now he knew that something had to be done. If Dumbledore wouldn't even stop at altering someone's mind, the one place that they should have complete control over, then he would probably go even further than that.
"Harry?" Tom was still standing by the fireplace, but he'd turned to face Harry completely. "What were you thinking?"
"I was just thinking about Dumbledore." Harry answered. He leaned back in his chair and pulled his legs underneath him. "I mean, how much of what's happened is a result of Dumbledore messing around with us. How much of what happened at Gringotts was him? He could have even ordered Bruzon's assassination, not just the attack on Griphook."
Tom was silent for a moment before he nodded. "It's possible. Even I have no idea what sort of influence he has in truth. He's not a person who wields political power in the open. He can influence certain people and groups without even them realizing it. It's one reason he is so dangerous."
"We can't do anything about that?" Harry asked.
"Not us. But I think we both know someone who can." Tom said with a vicious smile. Harry felt his lips twitch.
"That person wouldn't happen to be a Malfoy, would it?" He asked, amused. When Tom nodded, a laugh escaped him. "Does he know? About you, I mean."
Tom sighed. "Yes. He and a few others are aware of my return to sanity. None besides Severus, Lucius, and Rodolphus Lestrange, though, are aware of what I am doing here. I thought it prudent to keep it secret."
Hearing the name Lestrange, Harry couldn't help the flash of red hot anger that went through him. His godfather's death was still fresh in his memory, after all, as was his godfather's killer. Bellatrix Lestrange. She was still out there somewhere.
Tom didn't seem to realize what he was thinking, since he went on. "I won't reveal anything to the rest of them for the time being. I have no idea how many spies I have within my ranks. So many witches and wizards joined so quickly that there has been no time to screen them accurately. And, shortly after being returned to my body, I had not the presence of mind to oversee such a project anyway."
Harry didn't pay much attention to the words, but he caught a few of them, and his anger at Bellatrix Lestrange retreated for the moment behind the veil of curiosity. "How exactly have you…well, become more sane? You said you weren't sure before, but… you must have some idea."
"I don't know, Harry. I really don't." Tom said, crossing back to his chair and sitting down. "It could be many things: Using your blood for the ritual, or even just using the ritual. Before you expelled my spirit from my body to begin with, I'd been surrounded by dark magic, and ideas that shouldn't have moved me from my chosen path did. I became corrupted; something I never thought could happen." Tom tilted his head back to stare at the ceiling, entranced with it as someone taken over by memories could become. "And then suddenly, not long after the ritual took place, just as I was beginning to settle into a physical body again, my mind began to come back to me. It was little things at first. Derision towards certain people in my ranks, ones who full-heartedly agreed that killing muggles and muggleborns was the best thing to do to 'fix' the wizarding world. Anger at purebloods for their arrogance in their feelings of superiority. I began to realize that my original goals had not been met at all. And I realized that I was becoming myself again."
"Well, that's good for me at least." Harry said with a lopsided smile. "I for one am happy you're not a complete homicidal maniac."
"Why, thank you, Harry." Tom said with a snort.
"You're welcome." Harry replied with a nod. Somehow, he managed not to laugh. But he did remember one last thing he wanted to bring up. "How exactly are we going to do this? And what exactly are we doing to begin with? Taking over the ministry? Hogwarts? What?"
"I was hoping to work on those issues more quietly than I have in the past. Get people I trust elected and have them change laws. It really isn't a good idea to start another full-out war when it isn't necessary."
"And Hogwarts?" Harry pressed.
"It's simple, I think. We just need to get Dumbledore out of the Headmaster position and have some proper teachers brought it."
"It'll be harder than that." Harry said with a laugh. "He definitely won't want that."
"No…" Tom said. "He probably wouldn't. But that doesn't mean it won't happen."
They talked for a while longer. Although it had seemed like Tom had been in Harry's mind for hours, it had in reality been much shorter than that. There were still a few hours yet before classes would begin again for the next day. Harry and Tom said their goodnights and went to their separate beds; Harry in Severus' chambers of course.
Once Harry lay down and closed his eyes, he slept like he never had before. A warm comforting sleep that refreshed him, untroubled by dreams or nightmares or memories.
And it was good.
He should have known everything would go to hell just as everything started to make sense. He'd woken up happier then he'd ever been that morning, Severus' hand on his shoulder, shaking him lightly awake.
He'd trudged up from the dungeons like any teenager woken up too early in the morning for school and sat down heavily on a bench at the Gryffindor table. There weren't many students up this early, and it seemed that Severus wanted to torture him into awakeness. Ron and Hermione, among maybe four or five other students were his only company at the table, though he was careful to sit at the opposite end, where they wouldn't bother him.
In the quiet, he could almost hear the two of them fuming over his presence and he pointedly ignored them, looking across the Great Hall to the other tables. There were more Slytherins than any other house present, filling perhaps half of the overly long table. The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables were almost completely deserted.
Harry nearly laughed at the thought that there were so many sleepy kids still in bed when most classes started within the hour. And with that happy thought, he dug in to his food, stuffing his abused stomach as much as it could stand.
He was still nibbling at his breakfast about ten minutes later- with a far more substantial crowd of students- when he received Bruzon's letter. It came in the midst of the daily flurry of owls, so abruptly that, at first, Harry was not sure the owl had found the right person. It was a simple message:
Griphook is awake. You must come as soon as possible. Bring your friends if you can. –B
It was short and to the point, but it filled Harry with dread, even if the reference to his "friends" made him smile for a moment. He glanced up at the head table after almost reflexively throwing a piece of bacon to the regal black hawk that had delivered the small scroll. She, if that was the bird's gender, clicked her beak in thanks and took to the air once again.
Severus was already looking at him, having noticed the owl. They shared a frown which fairly communicated that they would speak later. But when Harry looked to the opposite end of the head table to find Tom, the man wasn't there. He glanced back at Severus before standing. Making sure Hermione and Ron were not paying him attention too closely, he made his way out of the Hall.
The only other professor who wasn't at the Head Table was Dumbledore, which was rare for the man. It led him to think that Dumbledore and Tom were together somewhere. And while Harry was sure that Tom could handle himself, he wouldn't have left anyone alone to deal with Dumbledore, not even, ironically, his worst enemy.
Harry folded the note from Bruzon and stuffed it in his pocket. He would try Tom's chambers first.
Tom was in his office, grading papers, when Dumbledore decided to pay his little visit.
He was basking in the occupation while he could, while the glow of the triumph of achieving a professor position still dulled the tedium of the job. Besides, marking pages with red ink would be enjoyable to anyone, especially if you weren't the one receiving the graded paper in the end. Not that he'd know anything about that last bit, of course. He couldn't remember ever seeing a drop of it on his classwork.
He smiled at the thought. He loved being a teacher far more than he'd thought he ever would, and far more than he'd loved being a student. And the students here were nowhere near as dull as Severus would have liked him to believe. No, they'd just never been taught in the right way.
And the students who had been in that club of Harry's were very confident in using the spells they knew, which was a very good thing. If you know the basic spells, then you can easily build upon them later. If not, well, it was a slight bit more difficult.
It probably hadn't helped one whit that he'd cursed this position so long ago that not a single one of them could have gotten any good out of one Defense Against the Dark Arts class. He'd heard that Remus Lupin had done a satisfactory job, but he'd focused on creatures instead of magic. Tom sighed. He supposed he'd have to make up for lost time.
There was a knock on his door and he looked up from his grading and narrowed his eyes. He'd charmed his door to send him the magical signatures of anyone who touched it. And if he wasn't mistaken, the person knocking on his door now was Albus Dumbledore.
"Come in." He called.
"Ah, Vincent." Dumbledore called in that infuriating voice, using Tom's false first name as if it would endear him to the old man somehow. "I'd hoped to find you here."
"Yes, Headmaster? Do you need help with something?"
Dumbledore came further into the room after shutting the office door behind him. Before Tom could even suggest that the man sit down – though, he wouldn't have had he not had to maintain appearances – Dumbledore came around the chair in front of his desk and plopped down like a child testing out a new mattress.
"Nothing such as that, my boy." Dumbledore waved his offer down with a smile and the infuriating pet name that he refused to abandon. "I merely wanted to see how you were settling in to Hogwarts. We have not had the chance to speak since your interview for the position. You have had no problems I trust?"
"None at all, sir. I am enjoying the position so far." Tom said truly with a pleased smile on his face. What fun was being in disguise if you couldn't flaunt your victory in someone's face without them even realizing it?
"That's good, that's good." Dumbledore nodded, likely completely ignoring Tom's remarks so that he could get on with what he came for. "I must admit that I'm sorry I saddled you with our young Mr. Potter while you are still trying to get used to the school. But it seems that none of the other teachers are available to help and Professor Snape, who would normally do the detentions, is emotionally compromised when it comes to dear Harry."
"May I ask what exactly he's done wrong, Headmaster? He won't say." Tom asked, feigning ignorance.
"Of course, my boy." Dumbledore looked pleased at his curiosity and nodded. "It seems he's been telling lies. He got into trouble over it last year, but I wasn't here to help him. He's been claiming his relatives have been abusing him. But I went personally to check on the issue and I rather thought they were a pleasant little family; nice and caring." Dumbledore pulled a wrapped candy from a pocket and popped it into his mouth after unwrapping it. He nodded sagely in time with the three words. Thankfully, he didn't give Tom a chance to respond. Tom wasn't really sure what he would say anyway, not with the anger that was beginning to fill his veins.
"And then not two days ago, Mr. Potter claimed that his two best friends were being paid to be his friends. It was quite ridiculous, and it actually ended in blows. A shame, really. I hope that serving detention will straighten him out soon; or at least exhaust him to the point that he doesn't have time to think up anything new. Haha." Dumbledore chortled. Tom had to admit, the old fool really was a brilliant liar.
"I see. Yes, that is a shame. Umm…" Tom trailed off as if he had thought it better not to ask the question on the tip of his tongue. Dumbledore lifted his chin invitingly.
"Yes, Vincent. I can see you had a question. What was it?" Dumbledore coaxed.
"Well, sir, I was wondering why Professor Snape would be, er, compromised in dealing with Mr. Potter. He seems quite strict with his students."
"Ah, yes. You see, Severus was at one time in love with Harry's mother." Dumbledore leaned forward conspiratorially. "He sees her in him, and I'm afraid he just can't punish him fairly." He shook his head sadly.
That is not your business to tell! Tom raged in his mind. He remembered how Severus had begged him to spare Lily. He'd never seen such pain in a man's eyes before then.
Suddenly there was another knock at his door. It was Harry, presumably here to rescue him from the old codger.
"Come in." Tom called again.
The door cracked open and Harry's head popped in.
"I'm here to help during my free period, sir. I'm not interrupting, am I?" Harry asked innocently. Tom could barely suppress his smile. He was about to answer when Dumbledore interrupted him. The older wizard stood and waved his hand in the negative.
"No, no, Harry. You're not interrupting, I was just about to leave for breakfast myself. I'll speak to you later, Mr. Vincent. And you, Harry. Have a lovely day!" The man bounced jovially out the door and down the hallway.
Harry came fully into the room and was about to speak, but Tom put a finger to his lips to indicate silence. Harry obeyed and watched as Tom stood and waved his wand through the air, moving his lips silently through incantations. Finally, after a minute of this, Tom put his wand away and gestured for Harry to sit.
"You were searching for…spying charms?" Harry asked, struggling for the right term.
"Eavesdropping charms at the very least, yes. It seems he came merely as a rumormonger, though; I didn't find anything."
"He doesn't suspect you, then?
"Oh, he suspects someone. He has to know that you were in Gringotts, but he doesn't know how you got there. You're supposedly not strong enough to apparate there, and you don't know how to make a portkey. That leaves the floo network, and no student can use that unsupervised. But I don't think he suspects me."
"Who then?" Harry asked.
"Well, it seems like he was trying very hard to pass on a negative vision of Severus to me. He said that Severus was 'emotionally compromised'."
"Hmm…he probably shouldn't go with us to Gringotts again, then. No good attracting attention to his movements as well as mine." Harry stood and dug in one of his pockets, finally pulling out a small scroll and handing it over to Tom.
After Tom read it, he set his wand to it and set it alight with fire. Once all that was left of it was ashes, he nodded. "I agree. We should go to Gringotts tonight and see what's happened. I don't like the urgency in those words. Something's happened."
"I thought so, too." Harry agreed.
"That's settled then. For the time being, though, you'd best get to work reading your potions book. Last I talked to Severus, he was planning on testing your skills again today." Tom grinned as Harry groaned.
"Just when life is becoming simple…" Harry grumbled, pulling his potions book from the bag he'd been hauling around on his shoulder.
"Ah, but Harry, a simple life is simply not fun." Tom said. He put his pen back to the paper at hand and scratched out an elegant "D" for "Dreadful" at the top.