Harry stormed into his bedroom, the door slamming behind him with a blast of magic.
"Potter!" Voldemort hissed. "It is about time you showed up after making me wait so - " He broke off when he took a good look at Harry, who had immediately begun pacing back and forth in a kind of frenzy.
Waves of wild, uncontrolled magic swirled around him, whipping the air up in the room, but in his fury, Harry barely noticed.
"What's this?" Voldemort asked brusquely. "Potter! What is the matter with you?"
Harry turned his head to glance at the portrait, then resumed his frantic pacing.
"Potter! I asked you a question. What is wrong with you, boy?"
"He's obviously upset," Tom said quietly. "Potter!" he called. "Potter! Harry. Look at me."
Harry stopped pacing for a moment and looked at Tom.
"What happened?" Tom asked.
"Dumbledore!" Harry spat.
Voldemort laughed. "Of course! It's always Dumbledore! What did the old fool do now?"
The lamp on one of the bedside tables exploded.
"Shut up!" Tom snapped, glaring at the man in the mirror. "Can't you see he's lost control of his magic?" He turned back to Harry. "Potter, listen. You have to calm down."
The other lamp exploded.
"Harry, look at me!" Tom said sharply. When Harry obeyed, Tom said, "Come here."
Without thinking, Harry walked over to the portrait, his eyes fixed on Tom's.
"My, my! How terribly clever of you, Tom!" Voldemort said. "It appears you have trained him well. How ever did you manage such a thing?"
"Ignore him. Just keep looking at me," Tom said softly. "You need to calm down and try to rein in your magic. Let me help you."
Harry nodded. It was true, he realised distantly; he could feel his magic crackling around him and his entire body felt like it was vibrating.
"Take a deep breath," Tom commanded.
Harry inhaled slowly and deeply, his eyes on Tom's all the while. There was something in Tom's gaze, a kind of force that was irresistibly compelling; yet, instead of riling Harry further and making him want to fight against it, it soothed him and instantly made him feel more grounded.
"Yes. That's it," Tom murmured in a soft, steady voice that was almost hypnotic. "Keep looking at me and just breathe."
As Harry stared into those unfathomable dark eyes, a sense of peace began to wash over him and the wind that had been whipping about the room started to die down. After about a minute, he felt things level out.
He blinked and let out another breath.
"Better?" Tom asked.
"Yeah." Harry gave him a little smile. "Thanks."
Tom's lips quirked upwards the tiniest bit and he inclined his head. "You're welcome."
"If you two are quite through," Voldemort said, his voice cold with irritation, "I want to know what happened with Dumbledore. What did the old man do?"
Harry felt his expression darken as he turned his gaze to Voldemort. He cast a venomous look at the man in the mirror then turned and stalked over to his bed and sat down.
"He made Sirius take a magical oath swearing he wouldn't tell me of my true connection to him and the whole Black family," Harry said. He laughed bitterly. "He also made Mr and Mrs Weasley take one. And Lupin. And Snape. He made everyone in the Order who knew that Dorea Black was my grandmother take one. Couldn't have me finding out I had Dark ties in the wizarding world!"
Harry looked at Voldemort then at Tom. "He never trusted me! No matter what, despite everything I did to prove myself, he never really believed in me. Did he think any little thing would push me over to the dark side? Why would it, when the childhood he forced me to endure didn't do that already?"
Tom frowned. "What do you mean?"
"He engineered almost every aspect of my whole life, yet he ignored my existence until I came to Hogwarts. Just dumped me on the doorstep of the Dursleys the night you killed my parents," Harry said, looking at Voldemort. "He just left me there on the doorstep, wrapped in a bundle of blankets with a note tucked inside that said my parents had been murdered and since the Dursleys were my only living relatives, they had to take me in. I don't even know if he stuck around to see that they actually brought me inside. Aunt Petunia told me she didn't find me until morning when she opened the door to put out the milk bottles." He shook his head. "And that was it, until I got my Hogwarts letter. He just left me with those people and never once checked on me to see how I was doing. No one did, not in a way that counted. I didn't even know I was a wizard until my eleventh birthday."
Tom looked angry by the end of Harry's rant and even Voldemort looked surprised.
"That is how he treated his precious Saviour?" Voldemort said contemptuously.
"He was so afraid I would turn out like you. But he made the same mistakes! He didn't help you when you needed it; and with me ... he purposely set me up to live with magic-hating Muggles, instead of finding a place for me in the wizarding world. I know I was sent to the Dursleys because of my mother's protection charm, but still." Harry jumped up from the bed and started pacing again. "He forced me onto them. Even if I did have to live with them, he could have helped, he could have made it better. But he didn't. And then later, when I came to Hogwarts, all he did was manipulate me, and lie to me, and keep things from me. He abandoned me whenever I really needed him."
"You didn't know you were a wizard? Until you got your Hogwarts letter?" Tom said. "But didn't you know you were different from Muggles? Didn't you do accidental magic as a child?"
"Of course, but I didn't understand that it was magic," Harry replied. "And yes, I did know I was different, but only because the Dursleys wouldn't let me forget it. They hated anything that wasn't considered normal. They thought I was a freak. And sometimes things happened - bouts of accidental magic - and they would punish me for it, though I never understood why I was being blamed for the weird things that happened. I didn't know I had done magic."
"What kind of accidental magic did you do?" Voldemort wanted to know.
Harry thought about it, then snickered. "Once, I accidentally set a snake loose on my cousin and his friend when we were at the Zoo," he admitted with a grin. "I didn't know I was a Parselmouth at the time and I was talking to the snake and it was responding. My cousin's friend saw the snake acting strangely and called my cousin over. Dudley punched me to get me out of the way so he could get a look at it. I fell, and that's when the glass vanished and the snake got loose."
Tom and Voldemort both laughed.
"I'd like to see your memory of that!" Tom said.
Harry paused, then shrugged. "All right. I'll show it to you if you want."
The snake incident had happened on Dudley's eleventh birthday, Harry remembered. He thought for a moment. He had never talked at any length about his childhood with anyone before, in great part because he knew no one would have understood. But Tom would understand. And so would Voldemort. For some reason, that made him want to show them what his life with the Dursleys had really been like. So Harry decided to start the memory from the beginning of that morning when Aunt Petunia woke him, and go all the way up to him being punished and locked inside his cupboard.
He cast the spell and the memory began:
Harry had been asleep - dreaming of a flying motorbike, he remembered - when Aunt Petunia banged on the cupboard door and told him to get up. As they watched Memory Harry put his socks on (after pulling a spider off one of them), Voldemort spoke.
"What is this?" he asked. "Were you already being punished? Is this how they punished you? By locking you inside a cupboard?"
Harry laughed mirthlessly. "No. That was 'my room' - it was where I always slept. Though, when my Hogwarts letter came and it was addressed to The Cupboard under the Stairs, my aunt and uncle freaked out and had me move to one of the bedrooms upstairs."
"What?" Tom said. "How many bedrooms did they have? And why were they making you sleep in a cupboard?"
"There were four - one for my aunt and uncle, one for guests, one for Dudley to sleep in, and one for Dudley's broken toys."
"You must be joking!" Tom exclaimed.
"Nope," Harry said flatly. "And the reason I had to sleep in the cupboard was because they hated me. They made that clear from the beginning. I wasn't wanted and they considered me to be a burden, and as such, I had to earn my keep. That meant I did almost all the cooking, cleaning, and the rest of the household chores, plus I had to take care of the garden. I was basically a house-elf." It felt good, finally being able to talk about it.
"And you say your Hogwarts letter was addressed to that cupboard?" Voldemort asked, his voice incredulous. "Dumbledore would have had to have known then. What was the old fool thinking to put you in such a place?"
Harry shrugged. "He put me there because of my mother's protection ... which, yeah, I can kind of understand his reasoning there - but the real question is, why didn't he intervene and make things better for me? I'm sure Mrs Figg reported to him how things were, but he didn't do anything to help me." He paused, then said quietly, feeling an equal mixture of hurt and anger, "I imagine it was because he wanted 'The Boy Who Lived'" - he snorted - "to be someone who was easily led and who would give him unwavering loyalty, once he 'saved' me and got me at Hogwarts."
"And that is precisely what he got, wasn't it?" Voldemort said pointedly.
"Yes," Harry replied, giving Voldemort a measured look. "He played us all, like the expert manipulator that he was. He played you too."
Voldemort had nothing to say to that.
They turned their attention back to the memory.
Harry had just made breakfast and the entire Dursley family were sat at the table. Dudley was blubbering about not having enough birthday presents. Both Tom and Voldemort sneered with disdain.
"What a repulsive, spoilt pig!" Tom said, wrinkling his nose as they watched Dudley greedily begin unwrapping the mountain of presents before him.
Petunia left the kitchen to answer the phone, and when she returned, she glared at Harry and reported to Vernon that Mrs Figg couldn't take him because she'd broken her leg. After an argument ensued, it was finally decided that Harry would have to come along. Dudley burst into his fake tears, and started wailing about how Harry would ruin everything.
Tom and Voldemort both made identical sounds of disgust.
When Dudley continued his crying and moaning, but then shot an ugly grin at Harry during the middle of his act, Tom growled.
"Unbelievable!" he spat. "How could you stand it?"
Harry shrugged. "It was all I knew."
Tom's lips tightened in response and he turned and cast an angry look at Voldemort.
Voldemort scowled back at him.
The two of them stared at one another, and judging from the increasingly irate expressions that animated their faces, Harry suspected that they shared a telepathic mind link because, clearly, they were having a silent, but fierce, argument. As their standoff continued, it became obvious that was the case when Tom suddenly hissed furiously in Parseltongue :: Shut up! ::
Voldemort raised a brow, his expression victorious, and Tom turned away and crossed his arms over his chest.
The memory played on.
Tom watched in sullen silence, but after a few minutes, as the events at the Zoo further unfolded, he couldn't help but voice his shock and revulsion at the way Harry was treated.
When it got to the part in the reptile house where Harry began talking to the boa constrictor, Tom smiled.
"You didn't think it was odd that you were communicating with a snake?" he asked, but there was no malice in his tone.
"I guess I wasn't really thinking about it at the time," Harry answered.
They all laughed when Memory Harry made the glass vanish and the snake slithered past Dudley and Piers, who were both snivelling and nearly wetting themselves in fear. But the laughter stopped when Harry got punished.
"It's just like it was at the orphanage," Tom said quietly to Voldemort. "Whenever we did accidental magic, we'd get punished like that." When Voldemort didn't reply, he looked at Harry. "At first, I didn't understand why I was being accused of everything, but I figured it out soon enough ... and then, I learned to purposely use my magic to fight back."
Harry nodded. He could only imagine the kind of treatment Tom probably endured at the orphanage, being a magical child, and not only that, but a troubled one - and a prodigy to boot. No, Harry wasn't going to judge Tom for using magic to protect himself, even if it had been malicious magic. He had already learned that his preconceptions about Tom had been wrong and he was certain that things must have happened to drive him to violence. "I understand," he said.
"Do you?" Voldemort snapped suddenly. "Do you really understand?" he said in a mocking voice. "What is the worst thing you ever did to those filthy Muggles? Did you fight back? Did you use your magic to punish them?"
Harry thought of Aunt Marge. "Yes. Though it was accidental magic."
"What did you do?"
"I blew up my aunt - Uncle Vernon's sister. She was a horrible person. And honestly, she deserved what happened. I don't even feel bad about it."
Voldemort laughed. "You blew her up, you say? Now that is a memory I should very much like to see," he said, his scarlet eyes gleaming.
Tom looked interested too, Harry noticed, but he stayed silent and just gazed at Harry with a thoughtful expression on his face.
Frankly, Harry was a bit curious to see the memory again himself.
Closing his eyes, he began to concentrate. And then he cast the spell.
The memory started: It was Harry's thirteenth birthday but no one said anything to him when he came down to breakfast. He sat down at the table and got a piece of toast. As he did so, he glanced at the telly. The newsreader was halfway through reporting about an escaped convict - Sirius.
He looked so wild-eyed and mad, and so terribly haggard in the picture, Harry noticed with a pang. It made his heart ache, seeing him like that. The Harry in the memory hadn't known who Sirius was then, so he hadn't paid much attention to the picture at the time. But now, he stared at it closely, taking in every detail. Harry's mind drifted back to the Battle, and he thought about what Sirius had looked like in the Forest, just over a fortnight ago - he had looked whole again, younger, more handsome than ever.
And he was gone.
Feeling desolate suddenly, Harry steered his attention back to the memory.
Uncle Vernon was telling Petunia that he was off to pick up Marge. He turned to Harry and pointed at him threateningly, informing him that they had a few things to get straight. When he started in about Harry's 'abnormality', blustering that there better not be 'any funny stuff' while Marge was visiting, Tom snorted. When Vernon went on to say that they'd told Marge that Harry went to St. Brutis' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, Harry glanced over at Tom, who looked outraged - so much so, it made Harry wonder if he had tapped into the connection between them and had now begun experiencing what was happening in the memory as if he were Harry himself.
Tom's eyes met his suddenly, and in a flash, Harry knew it was true: Tom was definitely feeling what Harry had felt. Knowing what was about to come, he gave Tom a wry look and said, "Keep watching."
He couldn't hold back a grin as he watched his Memory self 'negotiate' his deal to go along with Vernon's lie and pretend that he attended St. Brutis' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys - if Vernon agreed to sign Harry's Hogsmeade permission form. He was surprised to see how confident and poised his younger self was, and how in command he was of the situation, preying on his uncle's fear and holding it over him with that calculated innocence he had, by that time, learned to employ to his full advantage. It was his only weapon, and he wielded it well.
Voldemort snorted. "Really, Potter! You should have let the Hat Sort you into Slytherin. What a waste."
Tom's lips were curled up in a little smile. "Yes. Perhaps you should have. You certainly handled yourself like a true Slytherin." Tom seemed ... impressed. And for some reason, that made Harry feel pleased.
The memory went on, showing a few choice moments of Marge's visit, then it jumped to the scene that happened at lunch on the third day.
Marge had started in on what seemed to be her favourite subject: What Was Wrong With Harry.
"You mustn't blame yourself for the way the boy's turned out, Vernon," she was saying dismissively as Harry sat there, seething with rage. "If there's something rotten on the inside, there's nothing anyone can do about it."
She reached for her wine glass.
"It's one of the basic rules of breeding. You see it all the time with dogs," she continued. "If there's something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pups - "
The glass in her hand suddenly exploded, shattering in every direction as wine sprayed all over her.
Watching in the present, Harry smiled coldly at the sight, although he could feel his eyes burning with anger. He looked over at Tom, who wore a similar expression on his face.
Harry smiled again, grimly. "And now for the grand finale," he said as the memory moved forward, to the last night of Marge's visit.
They were all sitting around the table, having dinner, and Aunt Marge was drunk, which made her more odious than usual. She'd had a lot of wine with her meal, and had been surprisingly quiet about Harry up to that point, but when it was time for dessert and the brandy came out, she started in on him.
Just watching the memory, one couldn't tell what Harry was thinking, but Harry remembered: he was thinking about his Handbook of Do-It-Yourself Broomcare, a method of defense he'd taken to practising in an attempt to block out, or at least ignore, her loathsome comments. All he had to do was get through that last dinner and then she'd be gone and Vernon would sign the Hogsmeade permission form. As Marge got warmed up, and started going on about Harry's parents, he was telling himself over and over, 'Don't let it get to you. Remember the form.' It was like a mantra running through his head.
He had managed to keep quiet and hold it in at first, but when she called James Potter a no-account, good-for-nothing, lazy scrounger, Harry finally lost control of his temper.
Uncle Vernon was quick to see what was happening and tried to intervene but it was too late.
Marge and Harry were shouting at each other. Harry had jumped to his feet and Marge was screaming, "They died in a car crash, you nasty little liar, and left you to be a burden on their decent, hardworking relatives! You are an insolent, ungrateful little - "
She couldn't finish the sentence because suddenly she was blowing up, buttons popping off as she rapidly inflated and began to rise off her chair up to the ceiling. Chaos ensued: Aunt Petunia was screaming; Ripper came in, barking madly; Uncle Vernon was trying to grab hold of Marge's foot to pull her down, and Ripper attacked him, latching onto his leg.
Memory Harry ran out of the room and went straight to the cupboard, his magic blasting the door open. He quickly got his trunk and left it at the front door then sped upstairs to his bedroom and tore the floorboard free, hastily pulling out the pillowcase he'd filled with his books and birthday presents from his friends. After grabbing Hedwig's cage, he legged it downstairs.
Vernon came out of the dining room and into the hall. "COME BACK IN HERE! COME BACK AND PUT HER RIGHT!" he shouted hysterically.
Harry kicked his trunk open and got out his wand, pointing it at his uncle. "She deserved it! She deserved what she got," he spat. "You keep away from me!"
As Harry watched his Memory self aim his wand threateningly at Vernon, he gasped. He could see his Memory self's aura: it was dark and pulsing; and not only that, his eyes were glowing unnaturally.
Is that what he had looked like? No wonder Vernon had been afraid of him. He could see it - and now, suddenly, he could feel it; and the rage inside him was so great, Harry could only wonder how he'd contained it and not done something even worse. Right at this moment, he was feeling very close to what he felt in the memory and he could barely contain it now.
"Do you see it, Potter?" Voldemort said. "Look at yourself! Look at your eyes, boy! Do you not see your power? That dark fury? How glorious!"
"Shut up!" Harry yelled. He needed to breathe. The room suddenly felt really closed in. "Just shut up!" he panted. His skin was prickling; he felt really hot all of a sudden and he couldn't breathe.
Voldemort's expression changed.
:: Don't! :: Tom hissed at the Dark Lord warningly in Parseltongue.
"You see how powerful you are, Harry?" Voldemort's smile was cruel. His eyes glinted. "And all it takes to unleash it is to say something about your worthless bully of a father and your Mudblood mother!" he said triumphantly.
"DON'T YOU DARE CALL HER THAT!" Harry heard a roar in his ears as a rage he had never known before surged through him. His magic lashed out in a great burst.
And then suddenly he heard Voldemort scream.
The mirror in the portrait had burst into flames.
Voldemort jumped back, brushing his robes frantically, but when he realised he wasn't on fire, he threw his head back and started laughing like a maniac.
Tom hastily drew his wand and cast an Aguamenti, trying to douse the flames.
"Dear me!" Voldemort said when he stopped laughing. "Yes, you are more powerful than I thought." He looked at Tom. "You better mind yourself, boy! It looks like Potter here can do magic in the portrait ... or at least on your side of it," he said smugly.
Harry looked at them both in horror then ran out of the room.