A shriek rang out through the Dursely household. The owner of the sound was none other than Petunia Dursely, who was standing in the door of her nephew's bedroom. The cause of her shriek was the state of the bedroom that she saw before her eyes.
"This place is filthy!" She yelled, her face crinkled in disgust.
Harry Potter, who was lying on his bed and counting the dots on the celling, looked around at these words. He took in the books splayed all over the floor, half read; to the clothes which hadn't been washed in weeks in heaps around the room. He laid his head back down and shrugged. "I suppose it is."
Petunia's eye brows drew together. "Well?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Well what?"
"Aren't you going to clean it up?" Her hands were on her bony hips now, a sure sign that she meant business.
Harry glanced around again. "Probably not." He said truthfully.
His aunt scowled. "Well, I'm not going to clean it up."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "I don't believe I asked you to." He had to suppress a laugh at Petunia's furious expression. Her mouth opened and closed a bit, obviously trying to find a retort, but eventually threw her hands up and walked away, muttering under her breath.
Harry made himself comfortable again. He could tell this was going to be a long summer. He had only been at the Dursely's for three weeks and already it was too much. The threat of his godfather kept the Dursely's somewhat subdued, but it wasn't like they were treating him nicely. Dudley still picked on him, Vernon still yelled at him, and Petunia…well, she was still the same as well. All three of them were really getting on Harry's nerves.
It wasn't like he had nothing to worry about without them adding to it all. First off he had to worry about Sirius getting caught and dragged back to Azkaban. Given his godfather's reckless streak it was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time before Sirius attempted to visit him. Then he might be seen. Both muggles and wizards were after him. The odds weren't good.
And of course there was Voldemort to worry about. Harry shuddered at the memory. It was still so very clear in his head. Nothing had happened so far, but knowing Voldemort…something would. Something bad. The Dark Lord hadn't seemed too happy when he had escaped with the port key after the third task. He was sure to come after him soon. The only question was when.
To top it all off, Percy had gone missing. Harry had received a letter yesterday with the news. Percy was supposed to visit the Burrow three days ago, but he hadn't shown. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley weren't too concerned at first. He could have been held up at work, like always. But when the day passed, they started to grow a little anxious. Percy always kept his word. Mr. Weasley had flumed the Ministry, asking if they had seen him. They told him that Percy had left hours ago, and that he did not have the proper authorization to use this fireplace, so could he please leave. It was then that Mrs. Weasley began to really worry. She contacted everyone they knew, in vain. No one had seen Percy. It was as if he had vanished.
Harry didn't care much for Percy, but he was still concerned. A missing person definitely wasn't good at this time. Not with Voldemort around. Although Harry didn't want to think of that possibility. Percy was probably just…just getting some work done or something. Voldemort couldn't be involved. What could he want with Percy, anyway?
No, there had to be a different reason. A more likely reason. A less scary reason. Harry ran his hands through his hair. Could he just go back to Hogwarts already? He wouldn't have to worry at Hogwarts. There he was safe. Everybody was safe because Dumbledore was there. And Dumbledore could protect them all. Voldemort couldn't get Harry at Hogwarts. While he remained here at Privet Drive, he was venerable. He could feel it. Dumbledore kept saying he was safe and everything would be fine. But some part of him screamed that he was in danger; that he should get away while he still could.
He trusted Dumbledore, though, and stayed. Even though it felt like a horrible idea. It was weird…it was almost like he could sense the Dark Lord. Not through the scar connection, no. But in another way. With his magic, it seemed like. Voldemort was close… too close for Harry's liking. This freaked him out and he really wanted to tell someone about it. But who? If he wrote to anybody it could be intercepted. This summer was really starting to suck.
The only upside was that he had made a friend. Not a teenager. Not even a human. People his own age didn't associate with him outside of school. No, it was a snake that he had made friends with. A snake he had named Red, because of its bright red scales. He had met the snake when he had been in the backyard hiding from anymore chores. Red had been delighted to meet a Parseltoungue, and they had become instant friends. Red was probably one of the only reasons he hadn't run away yet. The snake made him laugh. It was one of his best friends. Harry had visited him almost every day; each day better than the last. He had sent Hedwig away to protect her from the Dursley's, so Red was all he had left.
He was lost in day dreams, when he a shout brought him back to reality. "BOY, GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!" Harry rolled his eyes again, but got up and made his way downstairs, first grabbing his wand, just in case. He trudged down the stairs, dragging his feet. He really didn't want to deal with his uncle at the moment. His uncle was waiting for him at the bottom, an angry look on his face.
"How dare you talk to your aunt that way, boy!" Vernon yelled, spit flying from his mouth. Harry leaned against the rail, arms crossed, waiting out the lecture that was sure to come. "You need to show us respect. You're lucky we allow you to stay in this house! If it was up to me, you'd be gone! You are ungrateful for everything your aunt and I give you!"
Harry scoffed. "Oh, because you've given me so much."
"I will not tolerate this, boy! We'll cut off your meals and lock you up in that room for the rest of the summer!" Vernon threatened, his face purple.
"I'm sure my godfather would just love that, now wouldn't he?" Harry smirked at the livid expression on his uncle's face. Vernon's eyes shook for a second in anger, till he eventually pointed at the back door and said, "Go…just go do your chores."
Harry obeyed and walked out in the garden, though not to do his chores. It was dark outside, and the moon shone overhead. Harry loved times like these. It was so peaceful. He took a seat in the soft grass, feeling the soft breeze brush across his face. "Red…Red are you out here?" He hissed in parseltongue.
Another hissing noise greeted him. A long, red snake slithered out of a bush. Its scales had a glow in the moon light. "Harry! I wasss afraid you had forgotten me." Red made his way over to Harry and slunk up onto his shoulders.
Harry laughed, so glad to see his friend again. "I could never forget about you, Red. You're my favorite snake."
The snake gave a hissing chuckle. "And you are my favorite parsssseltongue."
Harry smiled, stroking Red's scales. "I'm one of the only parseltongues."
"Exactly. That'sss why you're my favorite." Red rested his head on Harry's lap. "How isss your magic coming, little one?"
Harry hesitated for a second. Red was constantly asking him about his magic, and telling him to practice. He kept telling Harry that he was very powerful, and should use this to his advantage. He had told Red all about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters. Red seemed determined to prepare him for any encounter with Voldemort. Red shook his head. "You haven't been practicing, have you?"
"No…" Harry admitted, ashamed. "I can't anyway. The Ministry would know if I performed magic."
"Not if you usssed wandlesssss magic…" Red hissed, staring at Harry with unblinking eyes.
Harry sighed. "I've told you time and time again, Red, that I can't do wandless magic. Not even Voldemort can."
The snake seemed to roll his eyes. "But you can! You are more powerful than the Dark Lord. I know you are. We just have to harnesss that power, little one. You could be great, powerful. You would no longer have to fear the Dark Lord." Harry wiggled uncomfortably under the inspecting gaze.
"Maybe you haven't noticed, but I don't even know how to do wandless magic. Dumbledore doesn't even know. How in the world am I supposed to?" Red slid of his lap and onto the ground. He slithered over to a rock and picked it up with his teeth. He dropped it in front of Harry. "Listen very carefully to me, little one. Clear your mind and focus all your magic on this rock. If you do this, you can levitate it."
Harry was really starting to get annoyed. "I already told you I can't! Can you please drop it?"
Red slithered back, like he was hurt. Harry instantly felt bad. Red was just trying to help him. "Look, I'm sorry. But please, can we just not talk about that right now?"
"Fine…" Red agreed. Suddenly, he froze, head held high, eyes searching. "Do you smell that?" Harry sniffed but smelt nothing out of the ordinary. Whatever it was really bothered Red. The snake again wrapped himself around Harry's shoulders, hissing quietly.
"I smell wizards…" There was a rustling noise, and Harry stood up, wand in hand. Still, it was only him and Red in the backyard. "Are you sure?" Harry asked, looking around. But he could tell. He could feel a magical presence nearby. Five magical presences. He closed his eyes, trying to focus in. They were close…very close. And they…they…his eyes shot open. "Death Eaters!"
"Show yourselves!" He shouted, staring at the exact place they were hiding. The invisibility shields went down, and five Death Eaters were revealed to him, all with their masks off and wands out. The group consisted of Lucius Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Fenrir Greyback.
"How did you know we were here, Potter?" Lucius asked, walking forward in front of the group.
"I could smell that werewolf from miles away with his stink. I thought it was merely a wet dog." Red laughed. Harry laughed too. This did not go over well with the Death Eaters. Greyback seemed to know it was him that was being spoken about in the snake language.
He lifted his wand. "Accio snake!" Red shot off from around Harry's shoulders and into Greyback's out stretched hand. "What do we have here, eh? This your little friend?" He squeezed, causing Red to hiss and squirm.
Harry stalked forward, anger in his eyes. "Give him back!" He screamed. "You're hurting him!"
Bellatrix laughed her insane laugh. "You should be more worried about yourself, little Harry. When the Dark Lord gets his hands on you, you'll be oh so sorry."
Harry paid her no heed, his eyes locked on Greyback and the struggling snake in his iron grip. "I said give him back! Now!" Some force leaped up inside him, encouraging his anger. He started to shake.
"Wand…lessss…magic…" Red choked. Harry still had no idea how to do it, but it was like his magic already knew. He could feel it building up inside him.
"Maybe I should just kill the thing. Teach you a little bit of manners, eh?" Greyback closed his hand even tighter, causing Red to hiss in pain. "Snakes are dirty little animals. I've never liked them."
"GIVE HIM BACK!" He raised his wand threateningly, till it too was pulled out of his hand. Lucius caught it, shaking his head, smirking. "Temper, temper, Potter. You won't need this where you're going."
Harry's whole body shook in anger. "I'm warning you…" He said in a low voice.
"Oh, little itty bitty Potter is mad at us. We better do what he says or he may go running off to his mommy!" The Death Eaters laughed, making Harry even angrier. "Just kill it already, Greyback. We don't want to keep the Dark Lord waiting." Greyback grabbed the snake in both hands and twisted. Red fell still.
"NO!" Harry seemed to explode, his hands shooting forward. A blast shook the whole yard as Greyback was knocked off his feet and through six fences, landing in a yard seven houses away, bleeding from his head. Harry made a move to go after Red, but the other four Death Eaters stood in his way. Lucius pointed a shaking finger at him. "I'm not sure what you just did, but we're done messing around. You're coming with us." He lifted his wand. Harry was too fast. He moved his hand in a swiping motion, and Lucius crumpled to the ground, groaning as blood soaked his shirt. He turned to Bellatrix and ropes twisted around her. She fell cursing and struggling. Crabbe and Goyle were taken down with two Reducto spells.
With this done he ran, tears streaming down his face, towards Greyback's unconscious body. "Red!" He called out. "Red, can you hear me?" There was no answer. He fell by Greyback's side, searching. He saw a spot of color under the Werewolf, so he flipped the body over and found Red, lying still in the grass.
"Red!" He cried, cradling the snake in his arms. "Red, wake up! Wake up…please…"
There was a tiny hiss. "You did a good job…little one." Harry stopped his sobbing, and looked down. Red was smiling at him. Well, at least it was as much of a smile as a snake could give. "I'm in pain…I can't move…you have…to get away…they will take you…now that they know…what you can do."
"I'm not leaving you here." Harry said, holding the snake closer, protecting it. "I'm not leaving without you." He said these words normally, to reassure himself.
"How very noble of you." Said a voice from behind him. He turned and looked up into the angry face of Lucius Malfoy. The Death Eater raised his wand, pointing it directly in between Harry's eyes. "The Dark Lord will be very interested to hear what you did back there, Potter. He may have to ask you a few questions…I think you understand what I am talking about." He smirked. "It's my job to bring you to him. I'll be rewarded greatly…" Before he could say the spell, however, Red jumped up from Harry's lap and bit deep into Lucius's arm. Lucius screamed, shaking his arm wildly. Red did not let go.
Lucius grabbed the snake and pulled, yanking it out of his arm. "Why you blasted little thing, how dare you!" Harry made a move to take Red from him, until hands grabbed his shoulders and forced him to his knees. His arms were pulled behind him, preventing any movement. Red was still struggling in Lucius's grip. "Stun the damn thing!" Lucius yelled. Bellatrix obliged, and Red froze.
"Please let him go." Harry begged. Lucius glared and limped closer to him. "We'll see." He pointed his wand again at Harry, said a spell, and everything went dark…
His head hurt when he woke up, and he was extremely dizzy. The first thing he noticed was that he wasn't lying down. Had he fallen asleep at the window again? He shook his head trying to clear it. He attempted to wipe the sleep from his eyes but his hands would not budge. He opened his eyes groggily and looked down. His hands were tied to the arms of a chair. So were his legs. It was at this moment he began to panic. He was strapped to a chair, in the middle of a dark room with no one around. For a second his panicked mind forgot everything that had happened. Then it hit him full force. Red, the Death Eaters, the wandless magic…everything.
He realized what it meant. Voldemort was close by. In fact he could be right outside the door. This revaluation doused him in fear, and he began shaking. If Voldemort knew that he could do wandless magic…well it would lead to nothing good. He struggled, but the bonds did not loosen, nor did they budge at all. He was stuck, fully and completely. He briefly wondered where Red was, and if he was alright. Lucius and Greyback had seemed intent on killing him. Hopefully Voldemort with his love of snakes would let Red go. It was, after all, Harry he wanted.
It wasn't until ten minutes had past that anything happened. There were footsteps and hushed voices. Harry looked toward the door, waiting for someone to enter. And enter someone did. A pale, white hand opened the door. It was soon followed by the Dark Lord himself and the Death Eaters that had been at Number 4 Privet Drive with the exception of Greyback. The door closed behind them. The Death Eaters took their places against the wall, while Voldemort came forward. The Dark Lord didn't look much different from the last time Harry had seen him in the Graveyard, except that his eyes were a brighter red, and his cheeks weren't so sunken anymore.
His scar started to throb as Voldemort came closer and closer, a smile playing on his lips at the sight of Harry, utterly trapped, unable to escape. He put the pain in the back of his mind. There were questions to be asked. "Where is Red?" he demanded. Voldemort laughed, walking closer.
"You mean your little snake friend? Him and I had a lovely little chat about you and your…capabilities." Voldemort grabbed his chin, forcing his face up. He stared into Voldemort's scarlet eyes, seeing the happiness in them. "My Death Eaters told me all about what happened, Harry. It seems as though you have a gift. The only question is how we can harness it." He let go of Harry's face and walked to the middle of the room. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a rock. It dropped to the ground with a thud. Voldemort walked back over to Harry's side and whispered into his ear. "Lift it."
Harry shook his head. "I can't." Voldemort placed his hand on Harry's shoulder, digging his nails into Harry's skin. "Don't lie to me, Harry. I know you can. My Death Eaters know you can. So do it."
Harry tried to focus in on the rock and just the rock like Red had told him, but he had too much on his mind. He lifted his hand slightly, hoping this would help. The rock remained still. "I can't. I just can't. It happened on accident." Voldemort sighed. "Perhaps you need some incentive, hmmm?" He looked at his Death Eaters. "Crabbe, Goyle. Go get the prisoner."
The two left, leaving Harry wondering who the prisoner could possibly be. Voldemort placed one of his fingers on Harry's scar. Harry hissed in pain. "You can hide it all you want, Harry, but I will make your magic come forward, no matter what it takes." He removed the finger and stepped away from Harry.
Moments later Crabbe and Goyle came back, dragging a broken and beaten Percy Weasley between them. "Percy!" Harry yelled, struggling against his bonds. Percy was dragged next to Voldemort and dropped painfully onto the ground. Percy was black and blue, with one of his eyes swollen. His arm looked like it was broken. He lifted his head to look at Harry. "I-I'm sorry…I didn't…believe you, Harry…"
"Percy! What did you do to him?" Harry pulled against his bonds again.
"That doesn't matter at the moment. Now, you can either do as I tell you, or Weasley here can experience the horrors of the Cruciatus curse." Voldemort pointed his wand at Percy.
"I already told you I can't!" Harry yelled. Why didn't Voldemort understand? There was no way he could move that rock without his wand. It had been an accident, a complete accident. He doubted it would ever happen again, let alone when he ordered it to.
Voldemort shook his head. "Such lies, Harry…" Harry closed his eyes as Voldemort whispered the dreaded words, but he could not block out the screams.
"Please…leave him alone…" Harry begged.
Voldemort laughed. "Not until you choose to cooperate." Harry opened his eyes and looked at Percy, withering and screaming on the floor. He couldn't stand it. That was Ron's brother who was being tortured. He wanted to do something, anything.
"Stop it!" The bonds seemed to loosen as his anger grew. "Stop it now!" Instead of obeying him, Voldemort increased the curse, causing Percy to twitch insanely.
"Are you going to stop me, Harry?" Voldemort was testing him. Harry didn't want to obey him. There had to be another way. It was simple when he let his magic take over. Voldemort wanted to see some wandless magic? Well he was going to get some wandless magic…
He scanned the wall, looking for the right person. Crabbe and Goyle would do nicely. He slipped into both of their minds at once, delivering the same order. Both of their faces went blank, and they stepped forward. Harry waited for the right opportunity when Voldemort was completely distracted, then made the two men attack. Crabbe turned and punched Bellatrix square in the nose. She shrieked when blood began pouring down her face, before attacking back, asking Crabbe what the bloody hell he was doing.
Goyle, on the other hand, jumped on top of Voldemort, making the curse stop and Percy to fall limp on the floor. While Goyle and Voldemort were struggling, the bonds fell away from Harry's hands and feet, and he was allowed to go over to Percy's side. Nobody noticed in all the chaos. Crabbe was battling both Lucius and Bellatrix, although he was losing. Goyle was doing an excellent job at keeping Voldemort pinned.
"Percy…Percy, can you hear me? We have to leave." Harry shook Percy's shoulder, receiving no response. He attempted to lift Percy up, but proved too weak. It was then that Voldemort had finally had enough. He grabbed his wand and suddenly everybody was frozen. Crabbe had Lucius in a headlock, while Bellatrix tried to stanch her bleeding nose. Goyle looked worse for wear, though Voldemort had not a scratch. "Harry, Harry, Harry…look at all the trouble you caused." He came over and picked up Harry by his throat. "Was that an accident, hmmm?" Harry came back to himself, and his magic settled down. Crabbe and Goyle were no longer under his control. Voldemort unfroze the others, ordering them to leave and take Percy with them. "Don't harm him. He could be useful later." He added, as Bellatrix looked on the verge of killing everybody in sight. She sighed and grabbed Percy by his shirt, dragging him out of the room. When the door slammed shut, Voldemort began laughing evilly.
"We're going to have so much fun, Harry." He was shoved back into the chair, and the bonds rewrapped themselves, except these ones were chains instead of rope. Harry shook at the look on Voldemort's face. He knew without asking what Voldemort had planned for him. "You're gift is trigged by anger and pain. Luckily, I know how to cause pain." He waved his wand and a table appeared behind him. It was covered in knifes of varying lengths, bottles of strange liquids, and all other sorts of torture devices. "So many options…but I know which one I'm going to use first." Voldemort's wand pointed directly at his heart. Harry again struggled. The pain…he couldn't let it happen.
It was pointless. Voldemort wasn't going to miss his opportunity. "Crucio!"
Oh the pain. It ripped at him, burned him, cut away at his sanity. There was nothing to do but scream. He wasn't allowed the luxury of moving, so the pain did not lessen. It only got worse. Harry's eyes rolled into the back of his head and he shook. Why wouldn't it just end? "Feel the agony, Harry…that is only the beginning. We have so much time. Hours, days…" Harry was only half listening. Blood dribbled out of his mouth, mixing with the tears that ran down his face. Cuts began appearing all over his skin, bleeding freely. Voldemort did not let up. The curse increased. Voldemort seemed incredibly pleased with something. "Please…stop…" Harry begged. Much to his surprise, the spell ended.
Voldemort was stroking his head, like he would an obedient puppy. "Very good, Harry. I'm impressed." When his vision cleared slightly, he saw what the Dark Lord was talking about. The table that had held the instruments of horror was no more. All that was left was a charred piece of metal that was smoking slightly. It had been twisted at weird angles and thrown. Harry's mouth hung open. "Did…did I do…that?" he rasped, shocked. Voldemort's fingers gripped the back of his neck.
"Yes…isn't it amazing? I knew you were powerful…but this…this is incredible. We have so much more to do, Harry. You're magic has no bounds. You only need the pain to power it." After getting over the shock Harry felt the after pain of the curse start to fill him. His head slumped to the side, resting on his shoulder. He hurt so much.
Voldemort came into his line of sight holding a dagger in his left hand. "Dumbledore had no idea…" He said, coming closer. "I'm going to break you into the perfect little weapon, Harry. It will take a while, but that's alright. Take as long as you like. I don't mind…not at all."
Then the dagger came down, and all Harry knew was pain and the sounds of his own screams…