Title: Last Chance
Author: Dragon_of_Venus
Pairings: Voldemort/Harry
Rating (Fic): NC-17
Rating (Chapter): PG-13
Word-Count (Fic): 35,000-40,000
Word-Count (Chapter): 5,417
Master List: [To be established when Chapter 2 is posted]
Summary: AU after Half-Blood Prince. Voldemort is in control of the wizarding world. Harry is captured and placed under Voldemort's protection because of the horcrux.
Warnings (Fic): Discussions of rape, graphic attempted rape (not in the main pairing), suicide, character death, slurs, sexual harassment, abductions, history of violence within the main pairing, mentions of hate crimes and torture.
Warnings (Chapter): Abduction, talk of death, including the death of children.
Contains: Consensual sex between adults, masturbation, voyerism, Voldemort-wins AU.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters, settings, and ideas belong to J.K. Rowling, not to me. Receive no money for writing this or any other Harry Potter related piece.
Author's Note: Well, this turned out to be quite the header. Sorry about that, but it's all necessary information. I'll update daily for as long as I can, which will hopefully be until the fic is finished.

At 11:55 on the night of November 19th, 2000, a middle-aged redhead was furiously scribbling an address down on a sheet of printer paper. He looked it over once when he was finished before folding it haphazardly, shoving it into an envelope, and tying it to the leg of an owl. He walked over to a window, but hesitated before he opened it up.

"Last chance, Hermione," he said though a sigh. "Are you coming with me?"

Hermione looked up briefly when she heard her name, but then she realized who was speaking and what he was asking and she immediately returned her gaze to the floor. "Not without my friends."

Hermione, Harry Potter, and the Weasley had been their prisoners for approximately four days. They'd been found in a forest in Albania and their trust had been quickly won when their discoverers said that they were muggleborn and passed a short oral muggle studies quiz to prove it. The moment the kids made the horrible mistake of letting their discoverers into their tent, they'd been stunned, bound, and brought here for the duration of the negotiations. The three of them were, at that moment, positioned exactlyas Voldemort had requested them: In the bedroom nearest the front door, on the bed on their knees with their hands behind their back, immobilized from the shoulders down, facing a blank wall.

"He'll kill you."

She took a very deep breath. "Let him kill me. I'll die fighting for my life with my friends."

"Hermione—" the pureblood boy said, but Hermione cut him off.

"Ronald Weasley, stop it. I willdie fighting if—when—"

"Yes," the man said, "You'll die fighting for your life with your friends, and your wonderful friends will live because of their precious pure-blood names." He turned around and tried to meet her eyes, but couldn't. After a bit of a pause, he added, "It won't be much of a fight, you know."

"More of one than if I run away."

The man opened his mouth, then closed it again as he changed his mind about what to say. "Look, I know you're mad at me right now. You have every right in the world to be. But the right way to express anger toward me is not to get yourselfmurdered."

Hermione was silent.

"God dammit, Hermione, I didn't do all this just to leave a kid to her death!" It had seemed like such a simple plan, at first. Find Harry Potter, hold him hostage, and promise him to the Dark Lord in exchange for the release of all muggleborns from Azkaban and three Snatcher-free days to get their affairs in order and get out of the country. Voldemort had been almost easyto work with, once he was convinced that they actually had Harry Potter.

"You most certainly did. The only thing that's upsetting you now is that one of the kids you're leaving to their deaths is a muggleborn."

The man swore. "Stubborn bitch. I've half a mind to take you with me whether you like it or not."

"I'll come right back, and see if I don't kill you on my way out." The ice in Hermione's voice surprised even Hermione. Secretly, she was a bit confused. She was absolutely certain that she wasnot going with this man and that she would never be able to quite forgive him for kidnapping her and her friends and so willingly leaving her two best friends to the Dark Lord. That he was trying to rescue Hermione herself was a very small comfort to Hermione. At the same time, however, she could understand all too well the desperation that had driven him and the muggleborns he'd been working with to do this. Everyone had been in a constant state of moral terror for years now. Children were dying. It wasn't hard to imagine that pushing someone to the point where they'd do anythingto make it stop... Still, Harry didn't deserve this. He'd been nothing but a friend to the muggleborn community for as long as he'd been in the wizarding world, and in many ways he had more in common with them than he ever had with his fellow half-bloods...

Stephen took a step back, grateful for a moment that she wasn't looking at him. Stephen McFarland hadn't known Hermione Granger long. She'd been a rather docile prisoner for most of the last four days, pleading for the release of her friends but otherwise putting up little fight. Stephen had on several occasions caught glimpses in her eyes of the conflict going on inside of her. She'd never threatened anyone in their group before, and Stephen was shocked to find that now that she wasmaking threats, he was inclined to take her very, very seriously.

A clock struck twelve. Stephen quickly opened the window with shacking hands and half threw the owl outside. He spun back around to the look at the kids. "Lastlast chance, Her—"

"I'm not leaving without them!"

The man took a long breath. "Fine," he said before running to the dresser on the other side of the room and picking a wand off it. "I promised him the boys, not you." He freed Hermione from the immobilization spell and quickly handed her the wand, then disapparated without another word.

Hermione looped one arm with Harry's and grabbed Ron's shoulder. She tried to disapparate, but she couldn't. She tapped Harry on the shoulder with the wand and attempted the counter-spell to every immobilization spell she knew, but none of them worked. In a last desperate attempt, she hooked her hands beneath Ron's shoulders and tried to drag him to closet. He wouldn't move. She couldn't even make the blankets move beneath him. Failure after failure was crammed into five tense minutes as their frustration and horror grew.

Then they all heard the front door open. Hermione brushed the tears from her eyes and stared down for a moment at Ron's wand in her hand. She flattened herself against the wall next to the door and strained to hear the sound of footsteps. Could she kill them? She could stun them, at least, as long as she was fast. There didn't seem to be very many of them.

The hallway was completely silent for an entire minute. Hermione began to wonder if she'd only imagined the sound of the door. She looked to Ron for some confirmation, and he looked just as confused as she was. She couldn't see Harry's face from where she stood. She twirled Ron's wand between her fingers slightly and wondered if she should chance a look up the hallway. She didn't think so. She'd be visible before she'd be able to see. That was probably what they wanted. She'd wait for them.

A wand snaked around the door and was pressed to her forehead before she even caught a glimpse of it. "Drop the wand," an unmistakable voice said.

Ron's wand fell to the floor.

Voldemort stepped into the room and kicked the wand aside as though it were a child's toy that had been left out.

"I'd hoped I'd be seeing you here, Hermione. Sit down. And Harry..." Voldemort made an intricate movement with his wand, "...turn around, please. Let's not spend any more time here than we have to."

Harry turned around very slowly, as though the immobilization spell hadn't been completely removed, and gave Hermione a pained look. She helped him adjust his legs into what she hoped was a more comfortable position, and sat facing the Dark Lord with him, wandless and very much at his mercy. There was a small amount of comfort that Hermione and Ron could take in the fact that they hadn't been killed yet, but there was no telling just howannoyed Voldemort was with them at this point, and Hermione knew from Harry's stories that Voldemort liked an audience when he killed. It was entirely possible that he was merely waiting for his Death Eaters to arrive. Harry, in any case, had little to hope for.

"I was hoping to see you here, Hermione," Voldemort said, smiling slightly.

"Oh really? What, are your servants wanting for victims already?"

Voldemort chuckled, but his eyes narrowed dangerously. Hermione lowered her gaze to the floor, but found it within herself not to scoot away from him as he twirled his wand in an unspoken threat. "That is hardly my biggest concern at the moment... I have a gift for you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of parchment. "...If you'll accept it, that is." He held it out for her. When she hesitated for several seconds, he sighed. "If I wanted to hurt you, Hermione, I'd do so with something far more mature than a howler. Don't be rude."

It was apparent, in any case, that he wouldwant to hurt Hermione if she refused for any longer. She took the parchment. With trembling fingers she unrolled it and took a deep breath. The writing was very small, but it was immediately clear what was on the page.

It was a rather elaborately drawn family tree. It had almost certainly been done magically, and Hermione had a feeling that somehow it would pass falsification tests, but there was no conceivable way that it was true. Hermione's own name was rather large in the lower left-hand corner, and in smaller writing up and all across the rest of the page was a detailed tracing of what was clearlysupposedto be her lineage, going back to the 15th century. Hector Dagworth-Granger was a third cousin of hers, eyeballing it. It even had her parents names right, but with the glaring error that, right beneath their names, where it listed everyone's blood status, it had her father listed as a "blood-traitor." Hermione herself was given as a half-blood.

"I hope you appreciate this..." Voldemort said. Hermione glanced at him and noticed that his eyes were on Harry, not on her.

Her eyes returned to the page. Something very pressing caught her attention and her heart seemed to plummet into the floorboards. Her skin went cold and her head spun lightly, but she managed to look back up at Voldemort and speak. "It says that both my parents are deceased." She fought to keep her expression blank. She hoped to hear him deny it but she searched his face for confirmation.

Voldemort rolled his eyes. "Don't be stupid, girl. I don't know that your parents are dead and I don't careto know. That note is a matter of convenience, not of good record keeping. No one is going to ask you to produce this wizarding parent if all records say he's a corpse."

Hermione swallowed the painful lump in her throat. He doesn't know. He doesn't know. No news is good news.After a long minute, she'd convinced herself of this matter at least enough to press on with the conversation. "Why would you do this? What do you want from me?"

Voldemort chuckled. Calmly and completely without permission, he took Hermione's left hand in his right and pulled it toward him, raising and extending her left arm. He turned her hand over, and Hermione knew what he was going to say before he said it.

"You can't be serious..." She heard herself say, though she hadn't meant for the words to leave her head.

"Quite, Hermione. You're an extremely skilled young woman. I could help you develop those skills."

"I've had very little trouble developing them myself for the last twenty years, thank you very much."

His grip on her hand tightened. "Quite obviously! And yet, you won't be a child forever. It's rather easy to be the brightest student in your year or even in all of Hogwarts in your day. I suppose they called you 'the brightest witch of your age' quite often, didn't they? I was called me the brightest wizard of my age nearly daily when I was a teen... Yes, I don't doubt that they did and I think the odds are rather good that they were right. That's why I'm going so far out of my way for you. But do you know what I discovered after I left school, Hermione?"

Hermione shook her head.

"I discovered that, after a certain point, books were entirely useless. You can become the brightest witch of your age by reading old tomes and spitting their secrets right back out at the professor, but once you get into the adult world, no one cares about how you compare to others of your age. They care how you compare to all other adults..." He let go of her hand, but gave her a pointed look that said he wanted her to keep it where he'd left it. "...and you will never become the brightest witch of your lifetime without forsaking discovery and embracing creation. Creating spells is a baby-step on this path and yet I don't think you've taken it yet. Hermione, join me and I will open up the secrets of the universe to you. Mortality, love, divinity... Hone your skills and you willdo that which is now thought to be impossible. Many who were less talented than you have. However, you can't walk this path alone. Let me lead you. I'll show you what I know and you can help me learn more, and in a few decades there's no telling what incredible things you'll be capable of..."

"Why? Why would you even make a mudbloodthis offer?"

Voldemort raised an eyebrow pointedly, but Hermione didn't back down. After a second, he sighed. "Two reasons," he said, folding the edge of her sleeve down. "First," he continued to roll up her sleeve quite carefully, "I do believe that you're an exceptionally talented witch and that you'd be a great asset to me. Second, I do not intend to kill Harry, and I think I can make him much more manageablewith you alive." He carefully folded her sleeve up above her elbow.

Hermione looked slowly from the pale skin of her arm to his pale face.

"Think of it this way," he said, grabbing her hand again with his left hand and touching his wand to her arm. "If you refuse, I'm going to kill you instantly. What use would that be to anyone? If you agree, not only will you be doing yourself an incredible favor, you'll also have the rest of your life to help me look after Harry. That's why you didn't leave with the other mudbloods, isn't it?"

Hermione hesitated. She looked to Harry for some guidance, but he just looked away from her. Hermione didn't blame him. If he told Hermione to refuse him, he was condemning her to immediate and inevitable death. If he told her to accept, he was making the extraordinarily selfish demand that she sacrifice her soul to save her life. She turned to Ron.

Ron gave her a pained look. "'Mione," he said, "Nothing's more irreversible than you dying."

Ron was right, of course. Even if Voldemort was aware that she would be rather inclined to be a double-agent—which he surely was—there was no telling what opportunities might arise in the future as long as she lived to see the future. Maybe being a half-blood Death Eater would even be good. If she could find a way to gain favor with Voldemort without losing herself, she might be able to push for at leastthe lesser evils whenever it became time to make decisions. If she died here and now, there was nothing in the future that could help her and nothing she could do to help anyone else. Even if she said yes now and let him mark her now, she would at least have a chance to run away later.

She took a deep breath. Just stay alive..."A—Alright."

Voldemort looked quite pleased with himself. "Smart girl. We'll do it now. Proteus morsmordre!" Hermione screamed and nearly pulled her hand away as the faint outline of a Dark Mark appeared on her arm, but Voldemort had been ready for this. His grip was firmer than any of the young Gryffindors would have guessed him to be capable of and though Hermione's arm rocked as much as it could without detaching from her shoulder, her hand didn't move. After a long minute, the pain faded to a dull heat and Hermione's arm stilled. She looked up at Voldemort rather desperately, silently pleading with him to tell her they were done now.

He chuckled. Hermione could only hope that the worstof it was over, at least. "Will you, Hermione Granger, obey me, the Dark Lord Voldemort, whenever I give you a command, regardless of your own feelings about that command?"

Hermione swallowed hard. This spell was beginning to sound quite a bit like an Unbreakable Vow. But it couldn't be an Unbreakable Vow, could it? She'd seenDeath Eaters disobey the Dark Lord before. Besides, Unbreakable Vows required a third-party Bonder, which they didn't have. In any case, she didn't really want to find out what would happen if she attempted to go back now. "I will," she said. Her voice trembled.

Another horrible rush of pain moved through Hermione's arm. This time she bit down the scream, but couldn't stop herself from a second round of frantically attempting to pull away from Voldemort as the Dark Mark was retraced, darkening the outline slightly and leaving the inside of the mark the pale color of a horrible scar. Again, Voldemort was completely prepared for the struggle and Hermione's hand didn't move an inch from where he wanted it.

"And will you come to me whenever I summon you, whether the summons is delivered through the burning of this mark, a signed letter, or a message from one of your fellow Death Eaters?"

Her fellow Death Eaters... Hermione's head spun slightly. What was she doing? Still, she'd already actually agreedto the first part of the vow. It was definitely too late to turn back now. She braced herself for another round of pain and whispered, "I will."

She again resisted the urge to scream, but a horrible whine came out of the back of her throat. Tears formed in her eyes. Voldemort allowed her to reach up with her right hand and dry them, but they were loath to stop as the magic traced the mark again and left it a furious red. Her arm trembled within the Dark Lord's, but he loosened his grip enough to allow blood to start flowing to her fingers again when he was confident that she was not going to attempt to pull away anymore. Even after the pain faded, it took Hermione a moment to dry her eyes.

Voldemort gave her what was supposed to be an encouraging smile and took a deep breath. Hermione took the hint and took a very deep breath of her own.

"And will you remain faithful to my ideals and to the ideals of my servants, and do all in your power to promote them?"

No. Never—She had no choice. "I will."

At the final rush of pain Hermione flung herself backwards with as much force as she could manage, but Voldemort's grip quickly tightened again and her hand remained in place. With pain as though someone had lit a carefully controlled fire on her arm, the mark was turned from its horrible red to an evil black. Hermione looked at it and felt sick to her stomach as it occurred to her that, whether this choice turned out for the better or for the worse, she'd be living with it for the rest of her life.

By the time the pain faded, tears were flowing freely from Hermione's cheeks. Voldemort dropped her arm carelessly. "You did very well," he said. "More faithful Death Eaters than you have needed to be immobilized to get through the marking."

Just like that, he left Hermione to her tears and turned to Harry. "Youwould love a choice between death and service to me, I'm sure," Voldemort said cheerily.

"It wouldn't exactly make my day," Harry said, stealing a brief concerned glance at Hermione before going on. "But I can't say that it would be a terribly difficultchoice."

"Unfortunately for you," Voldemort said, "I really can't offer you a choice. It would be terribly unfortunate for me if you died."

"Oh? Is that why you tried to kill me all those times?"

Voldemort sighed. "Things change, Harry. New information surfaces. I'm surprised you haven't realized it yourself yet..."

"Apparently I haven't. Please enlighten me."

"There is a horcrux inside of you. You know what that means, I'm sure..." Voldemort glared at him for a moment, but then his gaze softened. "My immortality is now contingent upon yours. You can consider yourself—willingly or not—under my protection for the rest of your life, which I intend to be a very, very long time. You will make a vow—Not an Unbreakable Vow, of course. That would rather defeat the point. A Self-Monitoring Vow would suit us quite nicely. It's the mother of the Unbreakable, and the consequences for disobedience, while still quite nasty, are not nearly as dire. Give me your hand, Harry. Hermione will be our Bonder."

"I'm not swearing anythingto—"


Ron's screams were so loud they drowned out Harry's pleading, which began almost immediately. Ron's body, still immobilized from the shoulders down, was completely still, but his head thrashed violently in every direction and tears began to fall from his eyes. Even Hermione recovered instantly from her own pain to beg her new master to stop. It was an entire two minutes before he did.

"Again, Harry, give me your hand."

Slowly, Harry did. He looked to Hermione for help, but this time she couldn't bear to give it. Voldemort, however, reached down and took Harry's right hand in his, raised Harry's arm a bit, and intertwined their fingers. Harry's scar throbbed horribly, but he swallowed the cries of pain and for Ron's sake kept his eyes open and on Voldemort.

"Hermione," Voldemort said, "Get your wand. I believe it's rolled under the dresser."

Hermione hesitated a moment, wondering if she was most likely to be punished for getting her own wand, for getting Ron's wand and not telling him it wasn't hers, or for asking him to clarify which wand he wanted her to get. She ultimately decided that his actualorder had been clear and that his second sentence had been a footnote at best. She walked across the room and picked her wand up off the top of the dresser, leaving Ron's wand where it was, sticking about halfway out from underneath the dresser. Voldemort gave her an odd look, but didn't think it was even worth commenting on.

Hermione touched the tip of her wand just between their middle fingers, so that it was touching both of them.

"State your full name," Voldemort said, giving Harry a sharp look.

"Harry James Potter." A blue glow surrounded their hands. Harry was rather relieved to find that it didn't hurt, though it did give him a strange vibrating sensation in his fingers.

"State myfull name."

"Tom Marvolo Riddle."

Voldemort's eyes told Harry immediately that he would pay for that as soon as the vow was finished, but the glow around their fingers turned a mossy green color and Voldemort went on.

"Repeat after me: I will neverdeliberately endanger my own life. The Dark Lord Voldemort is the final authority on what is and is not deliberately endangering my own life, and if I am ever unclear as to whether or not something counts as endangering my own life, I will ask him." It was quite a bit, but Voldemort said it slowly enough for Harry to remember it.

Harry gritted his teeth. He didn't want... but Voldemort would just start torturing Ron again if he stopped, and Ron was nothingto Voldemort. Voldemort would torture him into madness and move right on to Hermione if Harry didn't consent. He'd keep going until everyone Harry loved was mental. Then what would be the point of any of this? "I will never deliberately endanger my own life. The Dark Lord Voldemort is the final authority on what is and is not deliberately endangering my own life, and if I am ever unclear as to whether or not something counts as endangering my own life, I will ask him."

The glow turned to a soft yellow.

Voldemort smiled. "I will never seriously entertain thoughts of killing or otherwise harming the Dark Lord Voldemort," he said, slightly faster.

Harry's heart sank. Still, there was nothing else he could do. "I will never seriously entertain thoughts of killing or otherwise harming the Dark Lord Voldemort." He had the rest of his life to find a way around that, or to accept the consequences for doing it, whatever they may be.

The glow turned orange.

"I will remain at all times where the Dark Lord Voldemort can find me. I will not leave the home of the Death Eater he has ordered me to reside with without honestly informing the Death Eater in question of my intended destination and return time and obtaining his or her clear permission to leave. I will return when or before I said I would return."

Harry swallowed hard. He hoped these vows weren't going to get any longer, or else Harry wouldn't be able to remember them no matter how slowly Voldemort spoke them. Still, the spell seemed to be helping Harry's memory. Harry was sure he wouldn't normally be able to do even this much word-for-word. "I will remain at all times where the Dark Lord Voldemort can find me... I will not leave the home of the Death Eater he has ordered me to reside with without... honestly informing the Death Eater in question of my intended destination and return time and obtaining his or her clear permission to leave. I will return when or before I said I would return."

The vibration between their hands intensified, and the glow turned blood red and expanded outward in a sphere until it's highest point was about halfway up Hermione's wand, and then it shrunk back in very quickly and disappeared somewhere between Harry and Voldemort's hands. Voldemort let go and Hermione drew her wand back. It was done.

"So," Harry said, struggling to move his hand up to his forehead, "What happens if I break that vow?"

Voldemort reached over casually and swiped a finger across Harry's forehead to stop the blood that was running down from his scar from reaching his eyes. Harry recoiled, though he realized that Voldemort probably meant well enough.

Voldemort looked from the blood on his finger to Harry a few times. "It hurts you when I touch your scar?"

"Anytime your nearme, really."

Voldemort nodded, but looked troubled.

"You didn't answer my question."

"And I won't," Voldemort said, smiling smugly. "I think it's good for you not to know. Now, let's get all three of you home... Hm... I'll have to take you individually. You're going to different places." Harry and Hermione both opened their mouths to object, but a dark look in his eyes stopped them. He made another intricate movement with his wand, and the stiffness in Harry's muscles vanished. "You first, Harry. Hermione, stay here a moment." He walked over to the dresser and picked Harry's wand up, then inclined his head toward the door. "There's an anti-apparation charm over this house. Only your dear captor has permission to move in and out of it freely. You'll have to step outside with me. Come along, Harry."

Harry gave both of his friends a pained and desperate look, but ultimately followed Voldemort outside. There was a freezing wind blowing and light, icy rain falling on their heads, but they weren't forced to say in it for long. Voldemort took Harry's hand, and in the darkness Harry almost thought he looked apologeticfor doing so, and apparated them both into a comfortable library.

Harry let go of Voldemort and took several steps away from him before he allowed himself to look around. It was a large room with cherry wood bookcases covering the walls, even wrapping around windows and doors, some no doubt magically supported, with cushiony red chairs and sofas scattered around beneath ornate golden chandeliers. The flames provided both a calming golden glow to the room and a slight warmth that was very pleasant after being out in the cold. It wasn't as bad as it might have been. Harry had to admit that he'd had it in his mind that all Death Eaters lived in dark mansions with skulls all over the place. This was... better. The idea of staying here for a while wasn't entirely unpleasant to Harry.

It got considerably more unpleasant when he realized just who the man who'd stood up from one of the chairs to bow to Voldemort was. It had been a while since Harry had seen Rodolphus Lestrange, and in the time they'd been apart he'd cut his hair, grayed a bit more, though the majority of his hair was still brown, done a considerable amount of working out, and regained enough color to his cheeks and enough signs of life in his brown eyes that Harry could imagine that twenty years ago he might have been handsome, but now he looked above all else like a man at least in his mid-fifties who had certainly seen betterdays, though Harry knew he had also seen worse days. He seemed slightly exasperated and no more thrilled about having Harry in his house than Harry was to be there.

"My Lord," Rodolphus said, "It appears that all went well...?"

"Betterthan I had hoped, Rodolphus. But my tasks for the night aren't done yet. I will update you all at the next meeting. In the meantime..." He nudged Harry forward slightly. "Here's this. Harry, until further notice, Rodolphus is in charge of you whenever you are out of my presence. Oh, and your wand..." He handed it over.

"If you really are hoping to preventme from committing suicide," Harry said, "Leaving me with the Lestranges is a bit counter-productive."

Voldemort and Rodolphus shared a dark laugh. "I disagree," Voldemort said. "I'm confident that Rodolphus will take excellentcare of you, and he will answer to me if he doesn't." Rodolphus got very quiet very quickly.

"And yet," Harry said, "Iam equally confident that you have servants that I hate marginally less who would do just as good a job. Where are you taking Ron and Hermione? Can't I go with them?"

"No," Voldemort said. He silently cast a stinging hex that hit Harry on the arm. "I happen to think that the animosity you and Bella in particular quite obviously feel for one another will work to my advantage. You will remain here until I feel it's appropriate to move you somewhere else. As for your friends, Weasley is going home, where he belongs. I wouldn't expect to see him terribly soon, if I were you. Hermione will be staying with a fellow servant of mine. I don't think you quite need to know whom yet. Good night, Harry." He nodded to Rodolphus and said, much more politely, "And to you, Rodolphus."

"Good night, my lord!" Rodolphus said as Voldemort disapparated.

Rodolphus looked Harry over for a moment with hard eyes. His eyebrows raised slightly. 'Really?' his eyes seemed to say. Harry felt oddly embarrassed about his messy hair and the fact that during the three days he'd been a hostage he hadn't been presented with too many opportunities to shower or change his clothes. Even his bloody scar seemed suddenly like something he should be quite embarrassed about, though it wasn't in any way his own fault.

Finally, Rodolphus spoke. "I'm not thrilled about this either, you know."

Harry sighed. "I'm allowed to leave with your permission, I think. Can I go get a hotel and—"

"No, Potter. I dislike you, but I don't have a death wish." He sighed. "You look like you've had a hard couple of... years. Let me show you to your room."