From now on, I will use this format.

Anything written on paper will be centered like this. Style may differ depending on the type of text.

This is also used for telepathic conversations.

"Parseltongue"

"Normal Speech emphasis emphasis"

'Inner thoughts'

"Inner speech. Telepathic conversations."


Also, I've decided to write recaps of what happened in the past chapters. I think this would be useful in the long run because of something stupid like most readers forgetting what the story is all about if they don't get reminded of it. Why? Well, for the benefit of the readers, and myself. There are absolutely brilliant stories that I have on my story alerts, but because it's been a while since I've read it, I forgot what it's all about; If I have to read 36 plus chapters to understand it, I'd rather not.


Recap:

Harry was stuck inside the Diary Horcrux for almost 3 years. While inside the Diary, he came upon Thomas who eventually told him everything including Tom's true identity. The child swore to have his revenge.

Snape almost nailed his own coffin when he was caught freeing a captured Dumbledore. After many conscious betrayals on Snape's part, he should have been executed in the worst imaginable way possible, but the Dark Lord valued the Potion Master's talents too much. Voldemort played on Snape's emotions and bartered Harry's revival for Dumbledore's death. Snape's resolve was firm that he did not want to be part of the Dark Lord's schemes but in the end, Lucius Malfoy made Snape see reason. The Dark Lord kept to his word. He revived the child, and gave Snape until the end of the year to finish his end of the deal.

The problem was that Harry did not come out unscathed of his accidental imprisonment inside the diary. Lily's protection backfired on him, rejecting his soul for its darkness. At the same time, the child was forced to deal with the Dark Lord's temperament and the man's unhealthy obsession over him.

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix was able to secure Neville Longbottom, the spare prophecy boy. Late in the morning, an invitation to visit the Dark Lord's Castle was given to Hermione Granger for there was a growing curiosity among the Dark Lord's most trusted inner circle members about the girl's apparent prowess. She accepted.


Recaps will be shorter the next chapter. Some of you might not like how Harry is still indecisive, but I hope this chapter will make you understand why. I apologize for any grammar, and spelling errors. I don't know but my beta-readers are going MIA on me. 6/10/11 The next update might take awhile but I'm now done with the rest of the outline so I'm going to start writing tomorrow.

Enough of the author's notes. Enjoy reading this chapter~


Fatal Magnetism

Chapter 8


"Where are you, Thomas. Why can't I see you?"

I'm afraid that your magical reserves won't allow me to have a physical form.

I can use what little magic you have, but I would be risking your health.

We don't want that.

Harry pressed a pillow to cover his head. He could feel a burgeoning headache.

I am inside of you, if you must know.

I am comfortable, where I am...

Although...

Your mind is certainly a wreck, Harry.

I am surprised that you are able to keep yourself together when your mind is tattered.

This will no doubt affect how you act, how you feel, and how you understand things.

Perhaps, it is time that I have you practice occlumency.

After all, I can't always protect our secrets from my other self.

He might realize something is amiss.

We are very thorough in our work especially when it comes to you...

You are very special to us, so I insist, you learn.

I taught you the basics, and you must practice whenever you can.

"But won't he be upset if I start practicing occlumency? Like you, he has access to my mind." Harry touched his forehead and traced his scar. He felt a mental chuckle coming from Thomas.

That is where you are wrong.

If you learn occlumency without his permission, he will punish you...

But I am sure that he will appreciate your interest in this obscure branch of magic.

The secrets you hold in your mind are precious.

If he were to grant you freedom, this is a necessary skill.

"Freedom. That's only one of the things I want. Although what I can't understand is... why are you so nice to me? Why are you helping me? There is nothing for you in it." Harry stretched both of his arms overhead and pushed himself up on the bed, and collapsed back on it, not really knowing what to do if he stood up. "Voldemort... and you... you both confuse me. Voldemort is cruel, but he can be kind as well. I don't understand him..."

This is one of the reasons why I did not want you to submit to him...

I told you to fight him... Do not tell me you feel compassion for him?

I should be able to understand my other self but we are still two separate beings.

I am sure my other self feels the same attraction that I have for you.

It is a wordless urge to protect you... a sense of completeness that...

That I am sure you are already aware of.

Remember, Harry. Tom is within Voldemort.

If Tom truly cared for you, then a part of it might have survived upon their merging.

This is based on my intuition alone.

If you really must know, you may ask him yourself.

Harry frowned, and admonished Thomas, "You didn't answer my first question. How can I trust you if you don't trust me? Why do you always avoid answering that question?"

It is times like this that I wish you act your age.

Sometimes I wonder how easy it could have been to manipulate you if you remained...

...a naïve, trusting, self-sacrificing, noble Gryffindor.

Pfft. To explain to you my reason for helping you would take time.

I also doubt that your ability to understand my reasons…

so until you are ready,

I won't tell.

"Don't treat me like a child. I don't want to be led around in lies again. You told me to stop being so trusting, but now you demand my trust? When your actions are so suspicious and doubtful?"

Harry wanted to close off the mental conversation but realized that he couldn't block Thomas out. He needed occlumency for that. 'Damn it to hell'

"...I still... trust you... something tells me that... I should. But I have to know... Thomas. Please tell me."

Now that is cheating. If I tell you, promise me one thing.

That you will never betray me to him.

"I promise."

There was nothing for awhile. Harry sighed.

"I won't break that promise. I won't tell him. Thomas… Please… Tell me."

There was a brief feeling of discomfort until the voice in his head decided to give him the answers he wanted.

There are many reasons, little one.

As you already know, I've been with you ever since you were a year-old.

I've seen everything and I know everything about you...

During those long years, I realized the error of my ways.

Now that I have met my other self, I can say that what I've come to be disgusts me.

I can always take over your body, and find an easier way to bring down this regime...

but doing so might kill you.

I do not want to harm you any more than I have.

It is also sad that my nature is to follow my other self's desires.

I cannot rebel. I have no freedom.

I have everything to gain, Harry, if you keep your promise...

Do not disappoint me.

"This is really too much, for a twelve-old. Thomas... but thank you... and I won't disappoint."

...don't fall for him.

Harry was about to reply when the door to his room opened. A servant clad in white bowed before him and touched his shoulder. Harry heard another voice in his head and was surprised. "Harry Potter," the voice said. The servant stared at him.

Harry felt uncomfortable at the prospect of talking through telepathy. It wasn't normal.

"Master told us to bring you down to the balcony for a quick breakfast. Master said that you disobeyed him for not resting, as you were told. Come." The servant pulled him and he stumbled over the bed. He was dragged unceremoniously and since he was still weak from the ritual, and his mother's protection from trying to eat his soul, he stumbled here and there, probably humiliating himself. Harry could almost feel the pity directed at him, but that might also be just the work of his imagination.

Several portraits were hung on the wall. Left and right, no matter he looked, something caught his eye. Harry was no expert in critique but he knew what was aesthetically pleasing and what was not. Voldemort seemed to have a secret appreciation for art, and particularly bizarre ones, Harry noted as he stared at the disturbing portrait that they came out of.

After passing through a maze of hallways and doors, they reached a large white door that opened to a magnificent sitting room. There were three couches and a delicate glass table at the middle. A carpet of violet, black and gold settled on the middle. The floor was wooden, dark brown, in small rectangular tiles. Everything sat before the fireplace. The high ceiling had crisscrossing piles of wood. Light came from five globes of light floating in the middle of the room. The Dark Mark was emblazoned on the walls very lightly, but it was there.

At one side of the room, there was a harp, on the other side, shelves, vases and sand where bottles swords and other random trinkets laid. Harry found that small tidbit strange. Beyond the flowing white curtains, a glass door was open and it lead to a small balcony.

Voldemort was sitting on the balcony and the man waved at him. The gentle manner belied the man's true intentions. The Dark Lord gestured that he should take a seat on the white chair opposite him.

Harry looked for the servant who brought him to the room before the balcony, but found no one. He found no excuse to delay the inevitable.

"Do not keep me waiting," Voldemort warned.

Harry began walking towards the open glass doors, and when his feet reached the tiled cold marble floor of the balcony, he shivered. The cold morning air met him, and it was refreshing, but it made him uncomfortable to be wearing such an airy night gown without any jacket or blanket on. Voldemort smiled. As if reading Harry's mind, Voldemort conjured a thick white shawl that wrapped around Harry's shoulders followed by a light warming charm.

Harry sat on the comfy white chair and looked at the glass table. A moment passed. Only the sound of the Dark Lord's fork hitting the plate was heard, the shuffling of cloth, and the setting of glass on the table. It seemed that Voldemort was finished eating, and was waiting for something to happen. "Harry," Voldemort murmured the name as if he was relishing it.

"Look at me." That was a command. A command that resounded through Harry's entire being. He did not want to follow it.

'What choice do I have?' Harry thought. His slightly frightened gaze landed on Voldemort... his master.

His head was so clouded hours ago that he briefly... he really thought that this man was his master. However, nothing else could be done about it since the die had been cast. And the Dark Lord might know how earnest he was in his role.

The man gave no indication that he knew however.

"Master... I couldn't sleep... I... I'm sorry," Harry averted his eyes, and it landed on his lap once again.

Voldemort leaned on his right knuckle while his left hand tilted Harry's chin so that the gaze was settled back on him, "I told you to look at me."

The green eyes focused on red, and the perfect visage of Voldemort came to haunt Harry of how eerily similar it is to Tom. He really did hate this. Having to pretend, and make himself believe that Voldemort deserved his respect – or the title of being his master.

Harry hated the idea of being anyone's pet. He was sure as hell, he hated the idea of being treated like one... but he wasn't being treated like one. Harry's idea of a pet was one kept in a tight leash, stored in a cage… among other unsavory things. For the short time that he was out, he was not dehumanized in such a manner. Was the name only given to him to unnerve him? Harry honestly didn't know. This was certainly not what he expected.

He thought that once he was out, he was going to be imprisoned again. He was so confused… and annoyed that he didn't know what to make of his situation. Voldemort continued slowly caressing the face, before slowly retracting his hand. His master seemed satisfied at what he saw and gestured to the food, "Eat."

Harry honestly didn't know what utensils to use because there were so many of them. Finally he decided to pick a fork and spoon, taking delectable portions of food and placing them on his plate.

"If the food is not to your liking, tell me, and I will have the servants prepare you any dish you wish for," Voldemort offered. The man was drinking something red from a wine glass. Harry was briefly reminded of his uncle, who used to do such a thing. He would sometimes get drunk early in the morning and he would take out his frustration on the nearest punching bag, little Harry.

"Don't worry, pet. I will only punish you if you deserve it. Tell me, what do you want to do with your muggle family? I have not touched them. I thought you would appreciate it... but after seeing what they've done to you, I am quite eager to kill them. No one else is allowed to hurt you, and live through it, without my permission," Voldemort finished a glass, and a woman clad in black poured the same red liquid on it.

"Well, Harry?" Voldemort swirled his glass, and Harry was momentarily transfixed at the sloshing wine. "I...You may do whatever you want with them, master..." Harry pushed a piece of strawberry shortcake inside his mouth and sipped his hot milk slowly. He licked his lips knowing he might have a small white mustache if he didn't. That was when another servant gave him a napkin, offering to wipe his lips with it.

Voldemort frowned, "Would you like to watch them die?"

Harry trembled at the question. This was his muggle relatives. He should be happy that they would probably tortured to death, but he felt that... he knew that he might not want to watch seeing how he reacted over Anthony's death.

"Very well. You will still see them, however. I will not deny them the knowledge that you are partly responsible for their deaths. My men will fetch them in a fortnight. Will that give you enough time to decide?"

"Yes… Thank you, master."

Harry nodded, distractedly. His relatives were the farthest thing from his mind. Harry's taste-buds were exploding from the sheer loveliness of each individual dish that he was given. He really missed food... and it didn't seem that Voldemort minded his behavior of inhaling the treats before slowly devouring it in tiny little bites.

Voldemort sipped his wine, and chuckled at the sheer bliss his pet's face was showing. He did not expect that Harry would be comfortable enough to show him such an expression, after what he did... for who he was.

"Do you really plan to kill me?" Voldemort asked.

The utensils dropped with a small clang. Harry looked elsewhere and then he looked back at Voldemort who was staring at him.

"I..."

"It would be a waste of time, pet."

Harry bit his lower lip to say something but stopped himself. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. Stopping himself from saying what he really wanted to say… skirting from the issue. Being a coward.

"You are far too weak. Powerless. I trust that whatever it is that you plan to do, you'll think twice before doing it. I will forgive you for your naivety but I will not forgive you if you act upon such irrational urges, pet."

Voldemort was about to finish drinking, but the glass exploded in his hand. Harry curled onto himself, and mumbled, "Why can't I? I hate you..."

"You hate me?" Voldemort asked.

"I've told you countless times before. I hate you. I trusted you, but you betrayed me. You left me in the diary and lied to me. Now you seem to be making up this lie about me being sick… it's almost pathetic–"

Incensed, the Dark Lord strode towards Harry, his wand out and muttered, "Crucio."

The boy fell off the chair. He landed on the floor, screaming and writhing. The Dark Lord pulled the child by his hair and dragged him over the balustrades. "I think ten would do it."

Harry's widened and saw how high he was from the ground. A fall from such a height would kill him. There was an assembly of death eaters below that looked positively gleeful at the sight of their master.

They gathered together and pointed at him. Before long, it drew in a small crowd.

Harry whimpered when the shawl was torn from him, together with his night gown. The warming charm was removed and the Dark Lord ordered, "Keep your hands flat on the balcony. Keep your knees together. Stand up straight but keep your head down. Good. If you scream, you'll be whipped again. If you move, we will start over. Now, I want you to count, Harry. "

Harry nodded, groaning through the in his muscles. The cruciatus hurt and the brief few seconds seemed to last like hours.

Voldemort pulled Harry's hair back, and whispered on his ear, "What was that, pet? I didn't hear you."

"Yes, master."

Voldemort grinned. With a flick of his hand, the Dark Lord conjured a switch. The Dark Lord tested the design and seemed pleased with it. The dark wood bended properly and it made a swooshing sound when Voldemort tested it in the air.

The first blow landed on Harry's back. It hurt in a way that burned, momentarily making Harry see white. Harry trembled, but kept the instinctive scream inside his throat.

A whimper came out and the Dark lord rubbed a finger on the mark.

"Again, I didn't hear you."

Harry heard the switch cut into the air, and it landed on his exposed buttocks and the back of his knees. "One." His hands dug on the flat of the balcony and he tried not to think of the watching Death Eaters. The white hot flare took out his breath. It was humiliating even though he knew they would never know it was him. The fact that the Dark Lord was publicly whipping him hurt, and embarrassed him.

The next stroke whistled through the air and marked his back once more. Three red marks were now scattered. "Two." Harry gritted his teeth together and forced himself not to scream... "Three."

He almost collapsed then, but steadied himself, knowing that Voldemort would not give him reprieve if he did. The fourth stroke came in quick succession with the fifth, sixth and seventh.

Harry's voice cracked when he had to repeat "Eight."

"Louder."

At this point, tears were leaking out of his eyes. What was it about pain that always made him cry?

"Eight."

The whip came, angry and fast, and Harry trembled right after it landed.

"N-Nine."

The back was littered with red marks. When the last one came, Harry bit his lower lip, stifling a cry. "Ten," Harry said, his voice barely a whisper. The last one broke skin, Harry knew.

"Good boy."

Harry collapsed on the floor, his breath heaving. He pulled the shawl to him and tried to cover himself and the rest of his dignity. The Dark Lord crouched next to him, trapping him between the balustrade and the floor.

A hand caressed his face, and wiped his tears. Soon, lips touched his and they were soft, warm, and he wasn't allowed to fight it. The shawl was taken away from him together with his night gown. The servants bowed in silent understanding.

"It's over… Harry," the Dark Lord said as he took Harry's hand and led him back into the warm confines of the castle, away from prying eyes. The breakfast was forgotten.

Harry leaned against Voldemort for support and they retired to the sitting room which was the room before the balcony. The Dark Lord led him towards the couch and sat on it, pulling the child down. Harry obeyed without question. He was emotionally, mentally and physically spent to attempt to argue anyway.

The Dark Lord laid him on his lap, and applied a soothing balm on his naked skin. The red marks began to fade, but it was still slightly painful. A servant offered them a change of clothing. Harry wordlessly stood up and let the Dark Lord dress him. It was a simple dark green silk robe.

Harry shivered and tried not to look at anything, closing his eyes but knowing better to call out for Thomas while in the presence of the Dark Lord. He was surprised when he was pulled down again, so that this time, he was straddling Voldemort, his head pressed against the Dark Lord's collarbone, and the Dark Lord's face buried in his hair.

"Have I not done enough? I could torture you until your mind breaks. I can treat you like I would treat my other prisoners. I can starve you and humiliate you until you cease to think of yourself as human, but I don't. I've been really… considerate for you… and for this, you are a liability..."

Harry gave up in thinking that he could push himself away from the man without risking his wrath. He did the next best thing and took in the warmth and security of being so close to Tom.

"This is for your own good."

Voldemort traced his finger on the boy's neck, downwards, pressing against the skin, making Harry wince.

"Your body is not strong enough for the bonding rituals I have in mind... For now, I need to mark you so that my followers know that you are under my protection. Will you accept my mark?

Harry mumbled a soft, "Yes, master." He had no choice.

"Mosmorde."

Harry winced, as the mark settled on his right arm. The mark would normally sting, but nothing too painful for Harry.

The Dark lord tilted his chin and kissed him once more. It was soft and chaste.

"I really should avoid touching your pretty flesh like this. I decided to refrain from sexual advances until the coming winter solstice... but I am regretting that decision," Voldemort let go of Harry. Harry clambered off to settle away from his master.

The boy took one of the pillows and embraced it, trying to steady his heartbeat and erase the blush that decorated his face. Voldemort allowed such an action and let the silence continue for a while.

When Harry was about to drift off, he began, "Pet, what will you be willing to give me for Freedom?"

Harry perked up, "What kind of freedom?"

Voldemort trapped Harry with his gaze, "I will let you out of the castle. I will allow you to study in Hogwarts and be with your friends. You will have your wand back and you will learn all that I have to offer. I offer you this kind of freedom."

Harry's eyes narrowed, as he peered from the small crevice of his pillow.

"And... what do I need to offer you in exchange?"

The Dark Lord grinned, "Your body. Your soul. Your mind. Your loyalty to me and devotion to my cause. I will train you to be my knight. It will be the perfect punishment."

Harry considered it.

"Accept it. You have no other choice. Or... you may remain as my pet. I will keep you away from the war. I will keep you sheltered from all the monstrosities of the world. I will be everything that you need and… you will have no one else."

Harry absolutely didn't want to serve the man any more than he had to. He brought down the pillow and tilted his head, "What if I want neither? Why can't you just let me go?"

Voldemort's magic crackled. "You know why, brat. Your existence is tied to mine. If you must insist, I will grant you death. Then, I will place Thomas in another container. That is the only way you will be freed of me, if you die."

Harry frowned, "...but you won't let me kill myself…"

Voldemort was exasperated, "How dare you suggest that? Honestly, you still are, a child. Come here."

Harry crawled over to Voldemort's side again, and he was surprised when a hand caressed the side of his face. Voldemort's gaze was intent as he said, "Do you really want to die?"

'Do I want to die? Do I hate Voldemort enough that if I had no other choice but to live with him, I'd rather choose death?...' and Harry, reminded himself of Thomas.

Do not disappoint me

He said...

And that was how Lucius entered the room to intrude on their privacy. If the man was disturbed, his face did not show it... although the sneaking glances on the boy made it evident that Lucius was curious. Voldemort gave the child one last caress. He offered Harry his lap as a pillow, something he knew Harry greatly enjoyed, before giving his full attention to Lucius.

Lucius coughed, and said, "My Lord, the messenger from France finally arrived. He brings good news. Also, it would please you to know that Hermione Granger accepted the invitation. Harry would be pleased too, I think."

Harry frowned, not liking Lucius's presence or his presumption that Harry would be happy to see Hermione.

"Ah, you spoiled my surprise, Lucius." Voldemort turned to his Harry, "Pet, would you like to come? Or shall I give you time to rest?" Voldemort asked.

It wasn't a tough choice. Harry wanted to know more and he didn't want to stay cooped inside the Dark Lord's bed chambers while waiting.

"I'd like to come, master," Harry hissed. Voldemort nearly smiled, and hissed back, "Do not scare poor Lucius like that. He seems to have forgotten you and I share this little gift. And... from your answer, should I assume you accept my offer?"

Harry frowned, "I accept the terms of your freedom... but I really hate calling you master..."

Voldemort dug his fingernails on Harry's arm in punishment. "For now, you will show me respect and address me properly. I will not tolerate your blatant disregard for this rule so let this be the last, ungrateful brat."

Harry winced and rubbed the sore spot. His body hurt in all different places now.

"Lucius, since the messenger had kept us waiting, perhaps he would not mind if we let him squirm for a little while. Sit down, my friend."

Upon sitting down, Lucius told himself that he honestly could not understand his master. His new-found love for surprises and games made him difficult to predict.

A loud screech was heard, and an equally sharp snap of reprimand echoed from the large halls. Bellatrix pushed opened the door and demanded, "Why is this man still alive?"

Voldemort gestured to the other couches and the woman curtsied. A silent Severus followed with a sneer and took a seat on the couch Lucius was occupying.

Bellatrix took in the room and its occupants. Her gaze finally landed on the small child.

"My Lord... is that? No... it cannot be... You told us that Potter was dead."

Harry tilted his head to look at the beautiful but dangerous looking woman who sat on the other couch. She looked like a queen. Her body was enclosed in a corset dress that emphasized her body's curves. Her thick curly hair cascaded elegantly down her shoulders – wild but refined. The darkness of her eyes seemed to simmer with a sort of insanity that Harry was accustomed to.

A strange sort of understanding fell upon him.

"Bellatrix, there is no need to be surprised. Harry, meet Bellatrix Black, one of my most accomplished duelists. She's the cousin of your godfather, Sirius Black. Bella, you will teach this child how to defend himself."

The pureblood witch nodded, still distracted that the boy who seemed long dead was very much alive. Bellatrix slowly understood what was happening when she took in the boy's position on her master's lap.

Harry smiled, and then said, "I have a godfather? I thought all my other blood relatives are dead."

"Yes pet, you do have a godfather. And to answer your last question, you have several blood relatives who are alive right now. Dumbledore lied to you. You may ask dear Bella about it later, but for now, let us get you acquainted with my other adviser, Lucius. The Malfoy family is one of the most noble and oldest pureblood families. Lucius, you will arrange lessons for proper wizarding etiquette, and instruct Harry on the ways of the empire."

Lucius gave a tight smile, "I'll see what I can do, my Lord."

Harry turned to look at Severus. The man was silent, but his silence spoke volumes. The man's tight pose and unwavering stare at Harry was unnerving.

"Severus is indebted to your family. He will be your protector. If I am not here, Severus will attend to your health. He will also teach you potions," Voldemort paused before continuing, "You see, my friends, if it was not for this boy, I wouldn't be here, and Britain would still be as degenerate as ever. Harry revived me, and in return, I kept him safe from the rest of the world. Now he expressed his wish to return back to the society..."

Severus scoffed, "That child is a waste of time and effort, my Lord."

Voldemort's visage visibly darkened. "I will be the judge of that, Severus. You will all give your best in teaching Harry. I have decided not to impart the knowledge of his revival to our other friends. Only the people in this room and my servants know of that the child is alive."

Harry twisted in his master's hold, but the sudden tight grip on his chest which looked to all was as if he was lightly caressing Harry was in truth, pressing the child down.

"Behave, yourself," the harsh voice in Harry's mind grated.

Harry cringed.

"You planned this all along," Harry screamed back. Harry felt his body throb in pain when the Dark Lord's magic pushed against him in punishment.

Harry whimpered and closed his eyes. Voldemort acted concerned and brushed Harry's forehead. "Harry, you don't seem to be feeling well."

"Bastard."

More magic was pumped on him, and Harry wondered why nobody moved to stop the Dark Lord. 'Fuck you all.' Harry let out a low whine, and whispered, "Master... it hurts..."

Bellatrix seemed to be enjoying the show. The Dark Lord summoned a servant and a black clad servant knelt before them, offering a vial of dark muck. "Drink this."

Harry nodded, and the Dark Lord tilted Harry's head upwards and brought the vial to the child's lips.

The boy shivered again and his muscles spasmed. Severus knew that the child was put under the cruciatus curse. It took a sharp eye to see how the muscles reacted when the boy was forced to move.

A familiar color, a muscle relaxant was then given to the child. Harry coughed and drank water, mumbling words that they could not hear. The Dark Lord smirked, pleased at what the boy said, apparently.

Harry laid his head on the Dark Lord's lap once more. The boy closed his eyes, and turned around, his back to them.

"There were unforeseen side-effects to Harry's health. Lucius, you are aware of what I speak off. The body is rejecting his soul. I have no doubt it is painful."

Bellatrix huffed, "Then if it is troubling you to keep him alive, my Lord, why not let him die?"

Voldemort felt the boy shudder in his arms at the comment.

"Perhaps."

Harry pressed closer. He wondered if the boy even knew what he was doing. Then, Voldemort realized it was an instinctive action.

"But as I have come to understand this child's existence, I found out something peculiar. The child is a parselmouth, like me. He has potential that I do not want to go to waste... and he already agreed to serve me. Look."

Slipping off the loose silk robe over Harry's arms was easy when the child had no energy to defy him. The Dark Lord showed them Harry's right arm. The placement of the marking itself showed that Harry was special. Instead of the left forearm, it was placed on Harry's right arm.

"He deserves a reward for succeeding in a task that none of you were able to fulfill. I have agreed to grant him this."

Bellatrix ate it all up, and saw it fit not to question her master's intentions. Lucius and Severus on the other hand, knew that there was something more was at play. They conversed and the Dark Lord continued to answer their questions at their individual tasks.

Voldemort told them that they did not have to start soon but Lucius may have a go since learning etiquette would not stress the mind and body as much as dueling and potion making would do.

The Dark Lord was pleased that his followers didn't question his motives further and accepted their role in honing his pet. Severus was dismissed, not before the Dark Lord instructed him to brew several potions for Harry. Bellatrix and Lucius was left to discuss matters regarding Britain, the rebels, the state of the underground prison, the dome and other structures that were being built.

Harry seemed to be falling asleep with the lull of the conversation.

"I knew you would accept. I do not want to waste time. You chose not to stay in your cage so I'll make sure you learn to protect yourself."

Harry frowned. He really didn't know why Voldemort bothered… he had everything now, an army, Britain. Why should he protect Voldemort? Why should he protect himself? Was… Voldemort only worried about Thomas? So Harry asked, "Master... whom do you care about, Thomas, or me?"

Voldemort answered without a pause, "Both. You are equally important..."

Harry doubted it but made no further rebuttal.

The morning passed quietly, and soon enough, it was afternoon. The Dark Lord had long dismissed his followers and studied the dozing child on his lap. Harry was truly a distraction. He kissed the unresponsive lips and mentally woke up the child.

Harry stretched on his lap, before blushing a bright shade of red. "I'm... sorry... I fell asleep–"

"Shh. Wear this, and follow me," Voldemort tossed an elegant black cloak with the Dark Mark insignia. "Do not pull the cloak off. There is an inlaid complex glamour charm that would prevent anyone who is not certain of your identity to see you. We must not keep your friend waiting."

Harry scoffed, 'She's not my friend.'


At the strike of twelve, Hermione was outside of the Order safe-house. The afternoon sun beat down the gravel pathway and the lifeless surrounding of the abandoned town came to greet her. Hermione's portkey glowed, and that was all the warning she had before it activated. She experienced the smooth sensation of plummeting to the ground. Portkey travel administered by the empire was a lot smoother than normal portkeys. Still, it left her staggering on the floor where she landed. The portkey transported her in a bland looking room. The interior was gray, and the floor was barely swept of dust and other tattered pieces of paper.

A man who appeared in his twenties took her attention by holding out a hand in front of her face. Hermione dusted herself and took the offered hand. She was pulled upright without much effort. Inwardly, Hermione chastised herself for stumbling.

"Welcome to the King's Castle, Hermione Granger. I'm Barty Crouch Jr. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Hermione itched to wipe her hand. She really hated Death Eaters for an obvious reason. Barty simply pretended that he did not hold an ounce of animosity to the girl, and gestured to the door.

"Now, I'm sure you want to leave this dreary room. So we shall. I am afraid however, that lunch would be at a later time. Most of us are not present yet, and upon our Lord's order, it is customary to wait for them. Would you like to have a look around the castle while we have nothing to do?"

Hermione gave an eager nod and a smile, "Yes please. You are not as scary as they make you out, uh..."

"You may call me Barty. I don't sit well with the formalities," Barty said and ended with a soft chuckle. His hand opened the door and Hermione was shown the breathtaking view of the gardens.

"Barty then. You may call me Hermione."

If Hermione remembered properly, the garden was inside the castle. It was a large square inner courtyard where the white pillar was located.

The pillar stood in the middle of the garden, gleaming with all the names of the death eaters who died for the cause. Hermione just couldn't understand why so many people have died in order for the regime to come into power.

"I see you are interested with the white memorial. This year, we are expecting the stone will rise again, for it will not fit all the names of those who might die because of the incoming war," Barty said softly. There was a cold glint in his eyes that acknowledged death and nothing in the man's stance betrayed his inner turmoil. Hermione could somehow relate to the man.

"How does it work?" Hermione wanted to know but she had an idea of how it did. Barty suppressed a grin, "They said you were too curious for your own good, but alright. See, once we Death Eaters pledge ourselves to the cause, we also tie ourselves to our Master. He inscribed the names of those who died before the regime and requested that we share a few drops of blood on the small pool surrounding it. Once the magic on our blood loses potency, it means we are already dead. Our names would be inscribed on that stone. Come, visitors are always enamored of this structure."

Hermione knew why everyone was enamored of the white pillar. One, they did not know the Dark Lord was capable of showing compassion for his Death Eaters. Two, even in its simplicity, the pillar was majestic. The number of lives that were lost for the cause was no small number. It goes to show how powerful the Dark Lord was and the extent of his influence.

True enough, there is a small pool of red. When Hermione reached out to touch it, her fingers came out slightly burned.

"Blood is a precious substance. My master would not leave it unprotected," Barty said, then cast a small healing charm on Hermione's fingers. "If your intent was to harm it or take it, you would have been badly cursed."

Hermione flinched at her thoughtlessness.

"Let us go, there are other interesting things that I must show you."

They stepped away from the stone and passed through the small bridge that went over a stream of water where there was plenty of fish. They walked upon the gravel path and Barty commented, "Most of the flowers that you see in this garden are poisonous. Be careful not to let your skin touch it. The Dark Lord only likes them for their fragrance. They give a unique scent don't they? My Lord even cares for the golden chrysanthemums. Most people believe it brings bad-luck but they are very useful for potions."

Hermione looked at the said flowers and almost reached out to touch the shimmering gold petals. "I know these aren't poisonous."

Barty didn't stop her, and Hermione plucked one of the flowers, pocketing it. Barty laughed at her deviousness, "I won't tell." Hermione would have perused the exotic flowers more and she was particularly interested with the large winged butterflies that grew to the size of her hand but Barty said, "This won't be your last visit. You will be acquainted with the garden properly when you come for a second time."

Barty took her shoulder and led her towards the staircase beyond the white memorial stone. The tour continued. Hermione marveled at the sheer size and ingenuity of the entire castle. "Rodolphus told me you were vehement about the use of house elves. Would it please you to know that the Dark Lord does not allow them within the castle?"

Hermione scrunched her forehead in thought, "I think that it is impossible for a large castle not to have servants. Surely..."

"Yes, we employ better servants, human slaves," Barty paused. He ignored Hermione's flinch, and showed her a portrait of Morgana le Fey. "This acquisition took time. The Dark Lord spent a fortune in the underground dealings of Russia to acquire her portrait. She resembles someone you must know. Care to guess?"

Hermione's eyes widened, "Bellatrix Black..."

"Yes, and the woman was proud of it... Bloody annoying, that woman... I am sure you would like to see the sixth floor. About this time is good enough."

The second through fifth floor of the castle was full of Death Eaters. Most of them respectfully bowed before Barty while the others greeted him pleasantly and gave Hermione inquisitive looks. Hermione wasn't dressed with anything spectacular. It wasn't shabby either. She was wearing a simple beige dress over a black cloak. Her hair was pinned up elegantly, and she was wearing a pair of black boots. Her hand showed the bracelet and the ring that was given to her upon her acceptance of the Crown.

She had a feeling that the sixth floor wasn't open to most Death Eaters. Large windows decorated the entire floor. The sun cast enough shadows to make an illusion that the stone floor was carved with circles and spirals. There were no curtains and the pleasant breeze lazily passed the corridor. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

The floor reflected the sun's rays in a blinding way, and Hermione had to stop looking at the floor, opting to see if there were portraits around. There weren't any, but the walls were littered with carved serpents.

They entered the central room where there was a grand staircase that led to the upper floor. Opposite the stairs was a large balcony. It was a balcony that descended to the third floor, where... Hermione last saw the Dark Lord speaking in front of his followers.

There were other balconies but the one before her was the largest and grandest. The platform itself was on the third floor, while a large staircase decorated the right and left side of it. On the middle, a large insignia of the Dark Mark hung proudly.

She shuddered to think of what the Dark Lord did during Samhain. It was horrible and distracting so she pushed it far in the depths of her mind. She now thanked her occlumency skills. Hermione continued to follow Barty who was avidly telling her about the other Inner Circle death eaters.

The thought made her pause.

Inner circle. She was not expecting that... but she should have.

It was too late to think of potential ramifications because before long, she arrived on the eighth floor and was heading towards the large dining room where several key figures of the Empire sat, patiently waiting for them.

The silence was unbearable. Hermione almost forgot her manners. She curtsied before the gathering and swallowing her nervousness, she spoke, "I am Hermione Granger. I have gladly accepted the invitation and I thank you for the warm welcome, my Lord." Hermione was led to the far seat, the farthest seat away from all of the inner circle death eaters – directly opposite the Dark Lord.

There were sharp disapproving gazes on her. On the other hand, some of her Hogwarts professors sat on the table, expectantly looking at her.

"I trust Barty didn't bore you with the Castle tour?" Voldemort asked. The Dark Lord's voice echoed in the room. Hermione balled her hands into fists and forced a smile on her face. Speaking before the man who was responsible for the deaths of several hundreds of thousands of people frightened Hermione in ways that she didn't actually expect. Here she thought she was prepared but nothing could have prepared her from meeting the man in person.

The smile was still on her face when she answered, "No, my Lord. He was actually very entertaining–"

Bellatrix cut her off, "In what ways?" the woman asked suggestively. It brought a chorus of laughter from the assembled, and Hermione was affronted.

"Now, now, Bellatrix. Let us treat our guest with proper respect. She is here not to serve as our entertainment and I hope you all realize that it would reflect badly on us, if we do not treat her like so."

Lucius straightened his shoulders and glanced at the mudblood girl whom he despised. This brought the attention to Lucius as he spoke, "I'd like to apologize on her behalf. You must know that most of us grew up knowing that muggleborns are of lesser descent. It is but a year ago that we have accepted your kind into our fold, but our animosity will always be deep-rooted until it has been proven that muggleborns aren't... inferior. Today, I know you will prove otherwise."

Voldemort gave a sardonic smile on Lucius's scathing apology. It was at that time that Harry coughed again. Several servants were by the child's side, wiping his lips and replacing his plate where flecks of blood were seen.

Chains shackled the cloaked person on the chair. Hermione had to stop herself from coming to the person's aid.

Voldemort traced the person's face and there was an evident whimper, "Ah, my pet is feeling unwell. We must let him rest soon. Bring in the food."

The servants bowed, and several meals were carried inside. Each dish was tasted by another servant before it was brought to the table.

There was a slight scuffle when a newly initiated servant tripped on the floor, and the glass pitchers fell. Bellatrix watched with a sadistic look and before the servant could be helped by others, she said, "Clean it, with your bear hands. Nobody will help this fool."

Bellatrix stepped on the shard that landed near her foot and cracked it into tiny pieces.

The other servants disregarded the now sobbing servant. Another servant carried the pitchers and began asking the death eaters if they wanted wine, water, or any of the assortments of drinks.

When the servant came to stop before Hermione, she was also asked her preference. Hermione was distantly aware that she said plain water would do. She could not take away her eyes from the servant who was picking up the shards and Bellatrix who stood up and started stepping on the servant's hands. The woman had her wand out and issued out her favorite curse, "Crucio." The screams that followed fell on deaf ears.

The death eaters acted like it was a normal occurrence. It was not as if someone was being tortured to insanity while the rest of the Inner Circle began to eat lunch.

The Dark Lord sighed, after the screaming reached ear splitting screeches.

"Bella, silence her. See... my pet is uncomfortable from all the noise."

Hermione's gaze then turned on the small form... 'How didn't I notice that? The Dark Lord's pet is... but a child..."

The small hands peaked out from the cloak, and it was pressed against the child's ears.

Bellatrix clicked her tongue and stopped the curse. "Tsk. My Lord, you are too gentle on him."

"No, Bella, you nutter. Not all screams are pleasant to hear," A long pale faced man who sported a scowl retorted to Bellatrix.

Bellatrix shook her finger and said, "No one asked for your opinion, Dolohov."

Antonin Dolohov, Hermione recognized the face from her research of the Dark Lord's highest ranking death eaters. He was imprisoned in Azkaban after Igor Karkaroff testified against him. The man was famous for torturing muggles and those that went against the current empire's ideals, not sparing man, woman, or child.

"Settle down. Why must you always squabble like children?" Lucius asked.

Bellatrix pouted and said, "You almost sound like Severus. Hey, why isn't he here?"

Amycus Carrow sputtered, "Why... you would have him sit here? That traitor?"

Lucius glanced at the Dark Lord and Voldemort smiled thinly. The Dark Mark pulsed and each of them quieted.

"We will eat in a civilized manner. Tonight, I will allow you the use of our prisoners. Will this keep you satisfied?"

There was a chorus of, "Yes, my Lord."

The dining hall was emblazoned with the Dark Mark. Intricate craftsmanship supported the thinly woven threads that tied a large chandelier that floated high above in a dark abyss. Oak panels carved with serpents and runes surrounded the lower half of the wall. The floor was emerald green marble. At the center of the room was a circle, inside it was a square. Inside the square was a pentagram and inside the pentagram was a tinier circle of an eye.

There were no windows. There were only brightly blazing candles that gave of more light than they should have.

When the room was quiet, it gave off an eerie haunting feel. Hermione did not know if she preferred the screaming over the pregnant silence.

"So, Hermione Granger, I will cut down to the chase. I feel that you might not appreciate it. There is something that always bothered me and my followers. Time and time again, we have offered you a place in the empire, but you refused. Why is that?"

The echo of a lock snapping in place was heard. The pet's hands were now bound behind the chair. Voldemort took his time feeding the unruly child.

"Well?" Voldemort asked.

The Death Eaters ate silently, and it was obvious that everyone was awaiting her answer.

"I... I think I am not yet ready, my Lord."

"Nonsense, you pathetic mudblood. Just tell us the truth. You're one of the rebels aren't you?" Bellatrix hissed the last accusation. Voldemort was silent.

"No, I'm not a rebel," Hermione firmly believed that she was not a rebel. 'I belong to the revolutionary army. There's a big difference.'

Hermione could feel the Dark Lord gloss at her surface thoughts. "I truly don't want the responsibility that it might entail to me. Having the crown is responsibility enough."

Lucius frowned, "So does that mean that you value your performance in Hogwarts more than your duty to serve the empire?"

Hermione shook her head, "You got it all wrong. You see, I am a mudblood as you call it. I take pride in the knowledge that I was able to get this far without help from any of the pureblood families. That is the reason why I do not want to get adopted or have a wizarding guardian for me. Also, my education takes precedence over duty, simply because if I am to serve unprepared, I will be useless."

Rabastan smirked, "Sister, she has a point."

"I will not accept it. Can't you see this is disrespect? How many have we killed for refusing to accept the mark? Why must we spare her?" Bellatrix asked, her utensils banging on the porcelain plate.

Rabastan brought down his silver fork and stabbed it on the meat savagely, "Think of it like this, dear sister, if we were to offer the dark mark to six year olds and they refuse and we kill them, we'd have a hefty number of dead six-year-olds in the graveyard."

Bellatrix drank her wine and turned to Rabastan, her face twisting into one of innocence, "But Rabastan... she is hardly a six-year-old. I say we should slip her veritaserum, or we interrogate her. Maybe she's hiding something. I know she's hiding something." Bellatrix glared at the girl.

"Why must you assume I am hiding something? Have I done anything wrong? It is not like I said I will never accept the Dark Mark. I am simply not prepared of what it would entail. For example, it is a known fact that Draco Malfoy has already accepted the mark and thus, many students fear his authority and power."

Bellatrix huffed, "As it should be."

"Fear is not always as effective. He has less influence than Cedric Diggory. He is unapproachable and therefore lacking as a leader."

Lucius paused drinking, and warned Hermione, "Should I take this as an insult?"

Hermione frowned. It was the first frown that marred her face, "Hardly. I respect Draco. He had courage to accept the mark knowing what it entailed. I doubt you people would understand how important it is to have friends but being in power will thin the line that bridges the gap between subordinates and friends. I am sure that Draco has not told you, but I know he is lonely."

There was polite laughter, and Voldemort himself was entertained. "You say very amusing things, Ms Granger. Very well, like our original arrangement. I will let you off until the end of your seventh year. In return, I expect you to remain a part of the crown assembly. Also, I want to excuse myself from this meal. It seems like my pet couldn't take this much excitement and passed out. I must attend to him."

Bellatrix stood up, together with Lucius and some other death eaters.

"I do not want to remain in the presence of this ridiculous swine. My Lord, let me follow you," Bellatrix gushed. Rodolphus rolled his eyes at his wife's antics.

Voldemort stood up and removed the chains on the unconscious boy. "As you wish, Bella. Hermione Granger, after you finish your meal, I'd like you to come to me. There is someone who wishes to talk with you. The servants will lead the way. Please, enjoy your lunch."

Soon enough, the dining room was emptied out. It seemed that a lot of the Dark Lord's Inner Circle still hated mudbloods, and her. She sighed.

"I suggest you eat faster, or the Dark Lord will consider it an insult to his hospitality," Rabastan warned.

"Oi Rabastan, aren't you following Bella or Dolphy?" Alecto asked, pausing in chewing the soft scones.

Rabastan leaned backwards on his chair, tilting it back and forth, before saying, "Nah, I can't always stand those two. Or Bella."

Alecto smirked and gave a knowing glance. Rabastan licked his lips and ordered one of the servants to pour him another glass of wine, "No. Do you have anything stronger than this?"

"We have–"

"Then get me one."

The servant bowed.

"Don't be so down, Hermione. In time, they will warm up to you?" Barty phrased it as if he was not sure of it himself. Hermione laughed, "You think?"

Alecto expelled a huff, "It was quite pathetic, you almost stuttered, and you said inconsequential bullshit about friends and responsibilities but you handled it well. Most people would be quivering in fear, like that rat."

Alecto pointed to a ratty looking man, Peter Pettrigrew. Hermione's mind supplied her, Scabbers. The man squeaked, and ate faster.

The four of them remained in the ominous looking dining room, and Hermione groaned in her head.


Inside the Dark Lord's wing of the castle, back within the sitting room, Harry was given his wand. Before the child was a prisoner, an ugly looking man with two scars on his face. "Go on, Harry. If you don't cast the spell, you'll black out from the pain again. See, the more dark spells you cast, the less effective your mother's protections become."

The Dark Lord leaned next to the child, whispering in his ear, "Another option is to denounce Lily's right for being your mother... but I doubt you will allow that. It does pain me that I find no other alternative at this point... and you are too weak for rituals that would allow me to explore the intricacies of the magic that surround you. So don't keep us waiting, dearest. Cast the spell. Imagine him burning. It is easy enough to imagine flames licking his skin, and the man turning into pieces of ash... Burn him."

Harry stood, and trained his wand on the figure. Voldemort let go of the child, and sat on the couch. Harry soon brought his wand down. The child looked back at the Dark Lord, shaking his head. "A small downward flick is all it takes," Voldemort said.

"Will it hurt him?" Harry asked.

Bellatrix guffawed, "Just do it, little Harry. I promise you, it would feel good."

Harry swallowed, and turned around, his wand once again, raised in the air. He briefly visualized the ugly man, burning, and that was when he heard the Dark Lord's voice in his head once more.

"Remember your anger... envision for awhile... that it is Hermione on the ground. She spouts lies about friendship and loneliness, when she herself did nothing to help you in your time of need. Remember how she failed to recognize you, and how apathetic she was to your suffering. And know that she still calls you one of her best-friends up to this day."

"Auduro," Harry said, and a sickly yellow light enveloped the man. The moment the curse left his tongue and magic flowed from him to the curse, he was breathless. The feeling was slightly euphoric. It was like a pleasant tingling in his head, his fingers... his whole body seemed to throb with excitement, eyes widening. It made him tremble.

"My Lord, he's a natural! I've never seen such perfect casting on the first try."

Harry knelt to the ground and watched how the ugly man curled to himself and uncurled. "What's happening to him?" Harry asked, bewildered.

Voldemort grinned, "My dearest, he is under the illusion that he is burning alive. It starts out as something entirely warm, but if the curse progresses, he will start wailing. Screaming his throat raw from the pain of it. It is a fairly elementary dark spell that could be countered easily, but seeing as our prisoner doesn't have a wand with him, he won't be able to. If we leave him alone, like this, he will go into shock. Before that happens, let us move on to the next curse. Something... not so easy. Os Flangere will do. Break the bones of his fingers. Make a counterclockwise motion, flick it down then wrench your wand upwards."

Harry bit his lip. A part of him didn't want to cast the spell. It went against all his morals. Another part was sickly fascinated with it.

"Again, imagine how easy it is for bones to break. Remember how being hit by your muggle uncle dislocated your shoulder? Now, see those fingers on those hands. Don't you think it would be wonderful to see them twist into impossible angles. Popping one by one until they're useless. Aren't you frustrated that these wizards left you to suffer under the hands of your relatives, when they had enough power to protect you – and care for you?"

The Dark Lord showed him the memory, and Harry growled low in his throat.

Harry's voice was a whisper, and he swiftly attempted to cast the curse, "Os Flangere."

The bones on the man's fingers began popping one by one, dislocating and getting crushed, twisting into spirals and they popped out one by one out from the skin of the man. Blood coated the floor, and Harry, realizing what he just did, stared and promptly threw up.

"Bella, don't you think he's well suited to the Dark Arts?"

Bellatrix nodded. "My Lord, I have never seen such talent in a child before. Are you sure this is his first time in casting the spell?"

Voldemort grinned, "Why must I lie, dear Bella?"

Wandlessly, the Dark Lord cleaned the vomit on the floor. "Tergeo," Voldemort waved a hand over Harry's slumped form and carried the shivering child onto the couch. Harry struggled and attempted to wrench his wand away from the Dark Lord.

"Harry, stop."

"But... he's in pain. I have to make it stop..."

Voldemort smirked.

"Then why don't you kill him?" Harry flinched. "Isn't there... can't we... spare him?"

Voldemort dragged the child over his lap and leaned on Harry's shoulder. "You naïve little child, why do you think is that man here? If he was not scheduled to die, he wouldn't be your practice dummy. If you ask us properly, we might spare him the pain and kill him..."

Harry tried to wriggle away, and he gave up, leaning against his master's chest, exhausted. "Master... Please kill him."

Voldemort grinned, "And what will you be willing to offer?"

The body was paling. The continued loss of blood and the burning curse continued to ravage the body.

Harry stuttered, "O-offer... I have... nothing... master... please do something."

"This is your fault, little one. If anything, you must be the one to end his life. It is quite easy... You may take one of my swords in this room and stab his heart with it. There a number of ways that you could do by yourself," Voldemort murmured.

Bellatrix seemed bored and ordered a tray of sweets to be delivered to her.

The seconds ticked.

"I... don't want to... kill him."

Voldemort hummed and teased Harry's neck. He twisted the child around so that he was facing him. Harry, unprepared for it, braced both of his hands on the Dark Lord's shoulders. Voldemort was quite distracted, taking in the wide dilated eyes of his pet, and the quivering lips.

"Perhaps a kiss would suffice. Harry, kiss me."

Bellatrix looked at the Dark Lord, and the terrified child, cooing in delight. Harry leaned over the Dark Lord and brought their lips together. A soft brush... but the touch set off a chain of emotions that Harry would have loved to stay hidden.

Fear. Hate. Desire. Happiness. Lust. Anger. Confusion.

Completeness.

But those things weren't meant to be felt by the child so Harry pushed himself away, cheeks red. "…I kissed you."

Voldemort smirked, "That wasn't a kiss, pet." The Dark Lord swiftly took control of the situation. His hand pressed against the back of the boy's head, while the other pressed the child's back closer to him. He pushed in a tongue, biting the child's lower lip in punishment when it refused to open.

His other hand began to wander to Harry's hips, pressing it down, so that Harry was back to sitting on his lap, instead of kneeling in between his legs.

This was a reward. Harry made him so proud it was ridiculous. His tongue mapped the upper walls of the boy's mouth, and when Harry tried to push his tongue away, he swiftly brought it down, winning their little game.

Harry's hands fell down to the side, supported only by the Dark Lord's hand on his neck.

"Breathe."

Voldemort whispered, against his lips, tongue and teeth trailing down to nip and lick at the child's jaw, and eventually Harry's neck. Harry made a helpless little sound, a breathless gasp, and a moan when the Dark Lord's wandering hands came to rest on his pert bottom. It came to rest on the child's hips. Harry felt the places where the dark lord's skin met his – tingle. Warmth and need. The feather like touches caressed his hips and trailed down to rest at his knees, opening it wider.

The Dark Lord bit his neck, and Harry winced.

"Master... stop... someone's watching."

Voldemort seemed to snap out of his reverie, and gave one last kiss on the pleasant little mark he left on the child's neck. Bellatrix licked her lips and giggled madly at the boy. The Dark Lord smirked, and Harry wanted to disappear, blushing... but more importantly...

As if reading the child's mind, the Dark Lord gestured to Bella, "Do the honors."

"Thank you, my Lord. Now watch carefully Harry, there are a number of ways to kill people, and you know this charm yourself, Diffindo. You cut ropes and chains with it. You can also decapitate heads with it. Let me show you, Diffindo. Ah... Almost there. Diffindo. Pesky little thing, won't come off. Of course, since it's meant for thin objects, it's hardly as effective as curses designed to do the job. The right curse for this is Carni Ficare."

The head finally came off with a wet slosh. More blood than Harry thought was humanly possible came splaying out. There was an uneven cut from where the Diffindo curse damaged a portion of the skin, muscle and bone, and a clean line from where the Carni Ficare curse was cast.

A knock came and the door to the living room opened, in came their guest, Hermione Granger. The fifteen-year-old took one look at the dead body, and at Bellatrix who stood with her wand extended, to the terrified ball of black that was trembling on the Dark Lord's arms.

She steeled herself and said, "Forgive me for taking my time, My Lord. Wait... is that... Harry? Harry... why are you... oh god. Merlin no..."

Harry pulled at his hair before burying his head in the Dark Lord's chest. "Why is she here? Make her disappear... I can't stand her..."

Hermione blanched. The sound of parseltongue. So she was right. Unless the Dark Lord had an unknown child that remarkably looked like Harry. "Harry."

"Filthy mudblood, don't you dare do something stupid. Little Harry isn't the same Harry as the one you know," Bellatrix laughed, and crooned, "Harry... don't be rude to your friend. She came all this way to see you."

Harry seemed to be stuck in his own little world, exchanging hisses with the Dark Lord. When the hisses stopped, Harry was allowed to break free from the Dark Lord. His bare feet stepped into the puddle of blood and he avoided the bones that scattered together with it. His small arms wrapped around Hermione and Harry murmured softly, too soft for anyone else but Hermione to hear but he knew the Dark Lord heard it, "Hello Traitor."


End of chapter 8. I hope you liked it. Thank you to all who have this on their story alerts, favorites and to those who reviewed. You guys make it possible for me to have the urge to update this fast. Some things are still left unanswered, but eventually, they will all clear out. The next few chapters might grow more violent...

Note that Tergeo is an authentic spell. It's similar to Scourgify. Carni Ficare, Auduro and Os Flangere are made-up spells because there's now specific incantation for them.