So, I was very bummed out because I thought no one had anything to say about my last chapter...then I checked my spam folder. Holy shit, there were 72 messages in there! I love you guys! So, I'm going to continue with long chapters, because I like them more. Also, I'm afraid that you guys might be getting bored waiting for anything even remotely slashy to happen, but I promise to work on that. Anywho, please enjoy~3
I encourage any and all fans of this story to search for the HarryMort page on facebook, and join the group. Vee (our Dark Lord), is a wonderful and welcoming person, and you will all be happier for being members. I promise you this.
And for a while things were cold, They were scared down in their holes.
The forest that once was green Was colored black by those killing machines
The view outside the wood-framed glass was lovely, once if you actually stopped to look through it. The mountains outside the ancient castle seemed to stretch forever; most encased in forest, but a few capped with snow. Creatures far too large to be birds darted among their peaks. Harry assumed they were too small to be dragons, but he had no idea what they were. None of them came close enough to his room to see clearly. The green-eyed boy took a deep breath, and peeled his gaze from the window of his room within Slytherin Castle. He was exhausted, but for now his attention was devoted to the blank parchment and unfamiliar ink and quill set before him. Harry had no idea why wizards didn't just switch to ballpoint pens, but he had to admit the feather and pot had a certain charm to them. The boy smiled, pushed up his glasses, wiped the excess ink off his quill, and began to write.
Nikolai, Alex, and whoever else might be wondering,
Hey guys. I shouldn't have bolted like that, and I'm sorry. I truly am. But I want you to know that I am perfectly safe. There's no need to cause a big panic, assuming you have, which I hope you haven't. It's just, last week I thought I saw someone I knew, and from there things got... complicated. I'm going to be gone for a while, I have a lot to sort out. Personal stuff. Like, stuff from before I ran away, I suppose. Anyways, I'll write to you again as soon as I'm done, and if I can, periodically when I have time. I'm sorry, and I know it's really shitty of me to bail on you right when things were going so well. I hope to see you again soon, but I don't think I'll be able to explain what's happening. Not now, not ever. I'm truly sorry.
Take care Mates.
Harry frowned slightly. Was his handwriting really that bad? Apparently, yes. He laughed it off, and read over his letter once more. It was hard to believe he had already been living in Slytherin Castle for a week, with the occasional trip to the Malfoy estate, and what an incredible week it had been. The boy set down his quill in exchange for his wand, and cast a heating charm to make the ink dry faster. It was an incredibly basic charm, but it had taken him two bloody days of practice before it stopped burning whatever it affected.
Every day for the last week had been scheduled practically to the minute. They had to be, according to Voldemort, in order to fit everything he needed to learn. History, charms, transfigurations, potions, he really wanted to learn to fly a broom, but that was an exceptionally low priority apparently. Although, Harry was under the impression that the Dark Lord didn't know how to ride one himself. The thought amused him, and he figured he would get around to teaching himself eventually. There were a few short pauses for meals throughout the days, but by every evening he found himself both physically and mentally exhausted, with what never felt like enough time to rest before it began again. Today had been the first break Harry had since his trip to Diagon Alley, and that was only because Voldemort was working with his inner circle until the late afternoon.
His first day of studies hadn't been that bad. He and the Dark Lord had gone over some basic spellwork, but had spent most of their time working on apparition. Harry assumed it was for conveniences sake, in case he needed to meet Voldemort elsewhere. Like he would today, when he moved over to Malfoy Manor later that afternoon. The teen half laughed, half groaned at the memory of learning apparition. Harry figured that he had apparated before as a child, once from school and once from Privet Drive, so he knew what to focus on. Yet in spite of that, it had taken him close to nine hours of practice to get it right, and he hadn't been allowed to leave the room until he did. Harry had lost an eyebrow more than once that day, but was fortunate that Voldemort could somehow reattach it. Magic was strange like that. Initially, the man had seemed a bit impatient, and probably a bit annoyed with how clueless Harry was, but he was still carrying out what he had promised. Even though the Dark Lord had an ulterior motive, training him to hopefully join his ridiculous army, the man with the crimson eyes hadn't given up on him. Harry couldn't say that about many people.
Despite the nonstop, relentless nature of his new education, he couldn't get enough of it. Considering he had run away from home when he was seven, and never bothered going back to school, this was the closest to a proper education Harry ever had. Sure, he had gone to the library a lot, but only bothered to read what he thought was actually useful. Now, he had one of the most brilliant wizards to ever live personally tutoring him. And while he was sure that self-proclaimed greatest wizard alive still knew more than he was letting on, Harry found himself not caring. He knew there had to be more to the link between their minds than either of them realized, and Voldemort had to have a theory as to what it was. He was also sure the someone had to know what was wrong with the boy from Malfoy Manor. But, these questions would have to come another time. Harry promised himself he wouldn't forget them though.
Despite the lack of answers he got from the Dark Lord, the man was still brilliant, and an exceptional teacher. Like just yesterday, when Voldemort was trying to explain the Goblin Wars by comparing them to the invasion of Normandy, and Harry had no idea what he was talking about, instead of explaining the Muggle history Voldemort had created an illusion that they were standing in, the battlefield, watching it happen! Harry found that it was much easier to remember the names and monikers for war heroes when one could see their bloody faces, especially when they had an illusionary weapon pointed at you.
As exciting as history was, it had nothing on charms and defensive spells. The green eyed boy had only mastered a few basic spells, but couldn't wait to begin dueling practice. Disarming opponents had come surprisingly naturally to him, so he couldn't be that bad. Levitation was another story altogether, he was abysmal at that. Voldemort was going to help him with it later, but Harry considered that he should probably practice more on his own first. That would be more exciting, getting to be the one to show off for once. Though his studies were far from being a competition, Harry knew that if they were Riddle would have him completely outclassed. The teen smiled to himself. Riddle was a good name for him, given what a puzzle the man was. Harry had asked a few days ago why he hated his "muggle" name so much, but never got an actual answer. Just a grumble, and what he thought was some muttering about his father before the Dark Lord excused himself. Harry hadn't asked again since.
Still, the man was absolutely meticulous in everything he did, and somehow was able to explain his every act clearly. When learning new spells, Harry wasn't just learning incantations and wand movements, Voldemort was explaining exactly how his magic should feel as it passed through his veins. The Dark Lord's focus seemed to be less on memorization, and more on learning to harness raw power. Harry was sure it would prove to be more useful in the end. Voldemort had described his approach to magic quite simply; 'why learn to recite a complex and unnecessary list of spells, when one can simply bend the world about them at will?' He wondered if this was how other witches and wizards learned. It probably was, with the exception that they were probably taught by their parents. Harry shrugged the thought off, it was pretty irrelevant.
The teen stood up and stretched dramatically before turning to fold his letter to his former flatmates. The skies outside were exceptionally clear, perfect weather to send an owl in. Yes, a quick stop by the owlery, and he would be back to master that levitation charm.
He just needed to remember, it was Levioooosa, not Leviosaaa.
Three weeks. It would be three weeks before she could leave this dreadful place. The girl with the bushy hair was somewhat ashamed of herself for the thought. In truth, the Burrow was a lovely place. It was warm and inviting, and the Weasley's were nothing short of a second family to her. Yet she couldn't stop herself from hating every second here, and only Ron knew it. Neville was supposed to be here, chasing Trevor about the house in a panic, while Ron continued to lead him further along with a trail of insects, and she waited for the toad to stop for long enough to stun. Then they would laugh, and head to Diagon Alley to visit Florean Fortescue's and begin their school shopping. Ron would always complain that he didn't need another potions book, seeing as he was probably going to ditch the class anyways, Neville would spend far too much time in the apothecary and greenhouse, and she would purchase more supplemental books than anyone could ever read, then finish them in a week. Now their trio was only two, and she couldn't bring herself to move on.
Time and time again, Hermione had been hailed as "the brightest witch of her age". What a joke, she laughed to herself. She couldn't help her boyfriend when he was dying, she hadn't even known it was happening. Boyfriend, it was such a ridiculous word, so juvenile and immature. Still, she couldn't think of a more perfect one. Hermione had never thought of Neville as more than a friend, the idea that he liked her had never even crossed her mind. Then, he asked her to the Yule Ball. Ron had apparently known about his plan for some time, and encouraged the budding herbologist to ask her, but she had thought his advance as being nothing more than a friend asking a friend. That was the "brightest witch of their age's" first mistake; saying yes.
Did she think a relationship with Neville Longbottom, her dear friend but an awkward klutz, would go anywhere? No, of course not. But he was perfect. The friend she had known for years turned out to be more thoughtful, kind, and sincere than she had realized. He still hid whenever he saw Professor Snape outside of Potions, and constantly fainted at the sight of the new creatures they would be studying in Care for Magical Creatures, but he was brave in his own way. When his friends were on the line, he would do anything. In the five months they had been together, Neville had lost Gryffindor many points and earned countless detentions, because he was up after hours waiting for Hermione to leave her late classes. When she was studying for her exams, he would stay and help her even though he needed to spend his time preparing for the tournament challenges. Hermione swore that if it wasn't for Cedric, he never would have solved the egg riddle. And even when the entire school was mocking him for having his name drawn, he never showed how much it bothered him, at least not publicly. He was strong, far stronger than anyone gave him credit for. It hadn't taken much for her to fall for him.
And then he died.
Neville Longbottom was dead, Ronald Weasley the most underused member of the Order of the Phoenix, and she could help. Only Dumbledore wouldn't allow it, it was preposterous! She knew she could help them with at least something if they would give her the chance, but no. She would have to make that chance herself. And that was how one Hermione Granger found herself standing along the second floor stair rail of the burrow, eavesdropping on the Order of the Phoenix with the help of a stolen extendable ear. Fred and George really did need to do a better job hiding their products. It had only taken her two minutes to shatter the protective wards around their bedroom, and another five to pick the lock of their storage cases.
It was Snape's turn to discuss matters. She would have been able to distinguish his monotone even without the help of her stolen ear. He was informing the order that his position as a spy may have been compromised, but he didn't think they needed to worry. Fat chance they didn't. Ron would never agree with her, but Severus Snape was the one asset they had. Without him, You-Know-Who would have already taken over Wizarding Britain and the whole bloody continent with it. If his position was compromised, they all had reason to fear. Wait, Snape had just said something about Lucius Malfoy being a potential asset, that was an interesting development. But the Slytherin head of house wouldn't explain what led him to believe so. Instead, everyone just nodded and agreed. Hermione groaned, that wasn't good enough for her. Whatever happened to the days when Professor McGonagall challenged him, when Remus Lupin would demand more evidence, when Cedric Diggory still searched for proof that he could trust Snape? The Transfigurations instructor had lost her edge, the werewolf was in self-inflicted confinement on account of the lunar cycle, and the Champion of Hufflepuff's mind always seemed to be elsewhere. At least she knew Ron wasn't blindly listening, but he had likely left the meeting. Ronald couldn't stand listening to Severus speak. That was likely him now, walking up the stairs.
The bushy haired girl removed the extendable ear from her real ear for a moment, and turned to face the bottom of the stairwell. Just as she had expected, her favorite redhead was on his way up. Ron was the only person who came close to understanding what she was going through, and may have understood even better than she did; he had been in the same boat for the last two years, and his situation had only gotten worse since the murder of his father. Ron's attention was currently on the fake ear wiggling before him. The Weasley couldn't help but chuckle.
"Hear anything you like yet? Honestly it all just makes me want to vomit."
Hermione forced a smile. It wasn't quite so hard around him. "I suppose I'm with you here, though I wouldn't go quite that far. It is surprising that Professor Snape would give his position away, but I still haven't found anything useful."
Ron sighed as he finished ascending the stairs. "Damn, and here I thought we could catch something they didn't." Hermione shook her head slightly. Proving they were useful would never be that easy.
"Ron, we're never going to find where he is based on Order information alone. We're only looking for clues, places we know he isn't. This is going to take us some time, I promise you that." The girl sighed, and took a deep breath. "I think we should start by breaking into the restricted section again. Oh don't give me that look of course I remember how much trouble that got us in last time! But think about it, we're looking for someplace You-Know-Who would feel...for lack of a better word, safe, leaving him."
Ron's face was both shocked and horrified, but it shifted to a calculated confusion after a moment.
"I suppose you're right there. So, you reckon we should look into his old school records or something? Bloody hell 'Mione, we don't even know the bastard's real name-"
"Ok, we do know the bastard's real name, but I doubt he ever wrote an essay called 'when I become a psychotic megalomaniac I will keep the people I want to kill here'. Would be nice though, for something to be easy for once. Also, I don't believe that bollocks Snape said about him not killing Potter for a second. Why the bloody hell wouldn't he?"
"I don't know..." Hermione replied. A dull silence fell over the two. Downstairs they could hear the Order of the Phoenix disbanding, apparent by the muffled sounds of chairs scuffing the old floors and many voices reciting their farewells. The extendable ear was soon recoiled to a normal size, to be dropped in the young witch's pocket and forgotten.
It was Ron who broke the silence.
"Ever wonder what it would be like if he didn't go missing?"
Hermione thought for a moment. "No, not really, actually. I can imagine things would have been much more chaotic, with a celebrity at Hogwarts and all."
"Yeah, but who knows? Maybe we would have been friends...that would be pretty cool, you have to admit."
Hermione smiled, and laughed slightly. "Yeah, you and every other student. But you're right, it would be cool...do you think Neville would have thought so too?"
"Yeah, 'course he would! We would have been the golden quartet, or some other bollocks name, and we would get in trouble all the time, but it would have been the best time of our lives." Ron placed an arm over Hermione's shoulder reassuringly. She truly was happy to have him here. Though the second youngest Weasley could be a complete dolt, he somehow had a way of making the worst of times a little brighter. She could laugh around him, really laugh. Perhaps if she weren't so stupidly hung up over the boy-she-never-expected, they would be together. Ron liked to act like he was so subtle, like she had no idea how he felt. But she knew, girls always knew."Now come on, we're all stressed. You're right that there's nothing we can do while we're here, as annoying as it is, so let's head out before Ginny comes downstairs. You never know, she might think we're up to something."
"What, us? No, we're perfect little angels." Hermione joked.
"If that's the case, I'm sure you won't mind if I ask what you two are doing?". A third voiced joined the conversation. Hermione jumped a bit from the surprise, while Ron simply snapped his gaze in the direction of the new sound. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, leaning over the rail towards them, stood Cedric Diggory. And given how relaxed he seemed, he had likely been there since the Order had disembarked for the day. Ron was the one to try and talk his way out, despite being a horrible liar.
"Oh, er, nothing, nothing at all. 'Mione and I were just about to go, that's it. Yeah, we weren't-"
"Discussing Order business with someone who hasn't been initiated? Yeah, we all know you were, it's not a big deal. Really. Hermione, we know that Ron's told you about all our plans, who we officially know are Death Eaters, the prophecy, yada yada and so on." Cedric smiled. "But let's be honest, we all know you're planning something big. The thing is, none of them believe you have the resources to pull anything off."
It was Hermione's turn to speak. "And what exactly do you believe?" Her tone was colder than she expected, but she wasn't in the mood to be mocked. She was surprised when Cedric returned her tone with a genuine, sincere understanding.
"Me? I think that you two have just as much to fight for as anyone in that room. But you're so young, no one wants to see you die for a cause before you've actually lived." The Hufflepuff paused for a moment, looked at the ground, then turned his attention back to the duo. "I know I never got to know him like you two did, but he was a good kid. A great kid even, and he wouldn't want to see his best friends get hurt. Not even in the name of justice."
Cedric took a step back from the railing, and towards the main door. "I just want you to know that I understand. And if you need anything, I'll be more than happy to help. Completely off the record too, kay?"
Hermione was a bit shocked, and given the look on Ron's face, he was too. "You would? But, why now?" The redhead asked.
"Simple really." Cedric nodded. "Up until now, we didn't have anything worth fighting for. As of yesterday, everything's changed. We've finally got something worth fighting for beyond stopping a few raids here and there. We have hope."
Hermione nodded. She hadn't thought of their situation like that before. A sudden mixture of pride and anxiety filled the head of the young witch as she reconsidered the implications of Harry Potter being alive. He was absolutely right, everything had changed.
They actually stood a chance now.
If any one of the Dark Lord's followers thought there was a chance they weren't going to fear for their lives today, they were very much mistaken. He had given them such simple tasks, yet he was met with such failure. Yaxley had been assigned to meet with the Northern Werewolf Colonies to renew their treaties, Nott to bribe select ministry officials to nominate a recently imperiused Pius Thicknesse as the next Minister Elect, and Rowle and Lestrange had been ordered to find the hiding place of the Order of the Phoenix. Instead, the Werewolves, Greybacks in particular, had been convinced that they were better off building their own society, and were breaking off from them, Nott had only secured the votes of half the men he had needed, and Rufus Scrimgeour had been nominated instead, and the Dark Lord had yet to year a word from Rodolphus or his partner. At least he would have the pleasure of murdering the wolves later.
Nagini continued to coil about the Dark Lord's seat. His study was dimly lit, but what little light there was reflected the blue and green undertones to her magnificent black scales. Despite the room being illuminated by naught but a few candles, to Lord Voldemort it may have been the peak of daylight. The embers that served as his eyes could detect the finest of detail even in the darkest of night. For now, that detail he was examining was a map of Europe. They had eliminated so many possibilities thus far, but where no closer to finding it. In this case, "it" happened to be the location of the Order of the Phoenix's meetings. The remnants of his search for the Elder Wand were still strewn about his desk, but the Dark Lord had abandoned that search. He had found something much better. A horcrux that, even if his opponents were to discover, they could never bring themselves to destroy.
The Dark Lord leaned back, and placed a skeletal hand to his forehead. Now that Lord Voldemort knew of the existence of his accidental horcrux, he was constantly aware of the presence of Potter's mind within his own. How he had not noticed it before truly was a mystery, but it had been a part of his new body since it had come to be. In the chaos of creation, the Dark Lord assumed that miniscule details could easily go unnoticed. The thought was still of little comfort. If Lord Voldemort, the most powerful wizard to walk the Earth, could miss something as significant as a portion of his soul, what else might he not have noticed?
The Dark Lord sighed, and lowered the hand from his serpentine visage to stroke Nagini. These were thoughts to dwell upon later. For now, he needed to rest. The last week had been quite taxing upon the Heir of Slytherin, and clearly he was not the only one exhausted. The boy who was the cause of his stress had intended to practice some basic spellwork, but Voldemort could feel that he had fallen asleep instead. It was of little consequence to him, he needed a break from babysitting anyways.
Perhaps if Harry Potter were truly his enemy, he would have found the boy to be mind-numbingly frustrating. There were several times when he did regardless, but lulling Potter into a false sense of safety had come far more easily than the Dark Lord had anticipated. It was painfully true that his horcrux could barely perform spells at a first year level, but the boy was fortunate to have an instructor with an understanding as to how his magic worked. Had Potter gone to Hogwarts, Voldemort was sure he would have been even further behind. While that would suit an enemy very nicely, he needed the boy to be able to protect himself, or more importantly, the Dark Lord's immortality.
Nagini retracted from his hand, and coiled herself into Lord Voldemort's lap. The Dark Lord continued to stroke the one creature who understood his mind.
"Maaaaster, something is troubling you." The great serpent hissed. There was no point in saying otherwise, Nagini shared a link with the Dark Lord's mind that had been utilized for some time. He stroked under her chin reassuringly.
"Troubling me, no, but I do have many things to reexamine as of late. A great many things."
"If any of them are man, you know I can take care of themmm." She spoke almost too excitedly. Lord Voldemort chucked softly.
"Nagini, eating people does not make the problem go away."
"You only say that because you haven't tried it."
The Dark Lord sighed, and let her have the last word. She may have known the inside of his mind almost as well as it's owner, but she was quite useless when it came to providing any useful advice. Voldemort turned his head towards the single candle on his desk, and snuffed it out between his middle finger and thumb. The Dark Lord would be leaving to meet with his followers at the Malfoy estate soon anyways. It was so kind of the Malfoy's to allow him the use of their family home, especially since he had taken that right and never cared what they thought of it. Nor did he have any intention to ask. This meeting would consist of his inner circle, and those who had recently failed him. He could not promise that everyone would leave with their sanity, that was for certain.
Voldemort took a moment to check the connection between his and Potter's minds. He had made a habit of checking upon the boy periodically, scanning the outermost surfaces of his mind to endure Potter's safety and stability. It had appeared that Potter had yet to realize that he was capable of accessing the link between their minds willingly. Sad, truly, that the boy could learn less about this connection in years than Voldemort had in mere days. The boy was still asleep, and apparently, snored. Lovely. However, that was one of the few things he had found to complain about the boy with the famous scar upstairs. Oh, he was stubborn, and not terribly good at taking direction from others, but the boy was incredibly resourceful, and had a certain disregard for rules that the Dark Lord couldn't help but admire. After all, Voldemort had spent his entire life building a new world around his own rules.
However, Potter's attitude was one of a person who would relentlessly seek answers until he was satisfied there was nothing more he could find. While the boy lived with muggles, he was completely harmless. Potter of course knew that he was different, but had no where to turn to seek answers as to why. Then the Dark Lord had sent Lucius out,opened the door to magic, and with it a neverending void of questions. There was only so long he could stave them off before the boy would to looking for answers on his own, he was sure of it. Voldemort gently pushed Nagini from his lap, and stood with yet another sigh. These were problems he would have to address as they arose. Some days, taking over the world seemed like more work than it was actually worth.
The Dark Lord turned towards the grandfather clock between the bookshelves. To anyone else, the numerals would be invisible, but to him it was apparent that his followers would already be waiting for his arrival. That was how he preferred it. Lord Voldemort waited on no one, after all.
The Heir of Slytherin slipped his wand into his robe, and apparated to the Malfoy estate, leaving nothing but a gently rippling cloud of black smoke. As he stepped out of the air in which he had only just appeared, his robes billowed out behind him. It was the sort of entrance worthy of a Lord, and this Lord was not ashamed to admit he had a fondness for the theatric. The heads of each of his marked soldiers turned to face the sudden disturbance in the room, before dropping out of respect. Most remained standing, but Bellatrix chose to drop to her knees. In truth, her groveling was quite irritating, but she was his most loyal follower, and loyalty did have its val. Nonetheless, the Dark Lord passed by her and the others as if they were insects. He reached the head of the table, and turned to his group of followers.
"What are you all waiting for?" He began. "Please, be seated."
Each and every one of them scurried to their chairs like well trained monkeys. What they lacked in confidence, they more than made up for in obedience. All eyes rest upon him, waiting for whatever their Master had to say next.
"Now, we do have much to discuss, particularly regarding more...recent activities I have assigned you. Yaxley, perhaps we can begin with your failure to secure our ties with the Werewolf colonies?"
The once smug features of Yaxley suddenly became an expression of dread. He looked his Lord in the eye, then towards the hem of his robes, then off to the side, completely unsure of what he should convey to save his skin. That only served to irritate Lord Voldemort further. There was very little he could say he despised more than a man who cared more about saving face that owning their mistakes. Self preservation was one thing, Yaxley's display was another entirely.
"My Lord, I am sorry, I tried-" he began, his gaze still quivering about the room. "Only, the Werewolves simply weren't interested. They care little for servitude, think themselves better off without you- you wouldn't want them anyways, with an attitude like that, and-"
"Do not presume to tell me what I do and do not want, Yaxley." Voldemort interrupted. Gently, the Dark Lord slipped his wand from his sleeve, and pointed the end towards the hysterical Death Eater.
Yaxley was crying out before he hit the floor. Many people assumed the Dark Lord enjoyed watching those he cursed suffer, and that was sometimes the case, but this time the act left him disgusted. Not with himself, of course, but with his victim. Here Yaxley lay, convulsing on the ground, shrieking in agony after a mere few seconds. It was weakness, and Lord Voldemort had little time or patience for the weak. He revelled in the fear of those around him, and their screams were welcome, but he expected his victims to at least put up a good fight. They never did. Yaxley was now beginning to foam at the mouth, the remainder of the room was silent. How much longer would it be before Yaxley was begging for forgiveness? He couldn't imagine it would be more that a few seconds now. The Dark Lord felt a ripple through his mind. Before he could think as to what caused it, the all too familiar crack of an apparition echoed throughout the halls of Malfoy Manor. Voldemort, along with most of the room, turned towards the source of the noise, just outside the doors to this meeting hall. A few seem panicked, as if they feared an attack. More weakness was all he saw. At least Bellatrix had the good sense to brandish her wand. The doors burst open, and this time it was the Dark Lord's turn to be surprised.
"What the hell are you doing?!"
A very irate, sloppy haired teenager, whose glasses had clearly just been shoved on, was storming his way towards Lord Voldemort. Clearly, Potter had gotten the hang of apparition very nicely, but this intrusion was most unwelcome. Especially considering present company.
"He failed, and a lesson must be taught, it's truly that simple."
"Yeah yeah yeah, I saw the whole bloody thing, werewolf colonies, failure to attain treaties, blah blah blah- he didn't screw up that badly! Now, can you let him go, it's kind of hard to talk over the screaming!"
Voldemort was taken aback for a moment, though it didn't show. This boy had the nerve to shout at him, before his own followers? This was a delicate situation indeed. Appear weak before his men, or risk pushing away his horcrux. He sighed, and released the cruciatus curse from Yaxley. His Death Eaters would never dare speak of this, and his immortality was far more important than them. Yaxley lay on his back, breathing rapidly and harshly. One of the masked one's whose names the Dark Lord hadn't bothered to remember stepped forward to help. Lord Voldemort payed him no heed, his focus not deviating from Potter.
"Very well, how would you manage this situation?"
"Honestly? I would let the bloody wolves leave."
The Dark Lord blinked, then scoffed. "And why would you do that?"
"Because obviously, if you force them to stay, they'll just find a way to rebel. Let them start their own society, and form a better alliance with them. For fuck's sake, that way nothing's really changed, but at least they think it has! I hate to break it to you, my Lord, but maybe this is why so many people don't like you. You should probably work on your listening skills."
"My Lord, what is the meaning of this?! Who is that?!" Bellatrix shrieked behind him. Her eyes were wide with madness, her wand aimed for Potter's chest. "How dare you speak that way to the Dark Lord!"
Voldemort was surprised when Harry didn't flinch. The boy was stupidly fearless, and that would likely be the death of him. Voldemort lowered the former Black's arm.
"Now is not the time, Bellatrix. This is a matter that does not concern you." He gave her a venomous glare, to make his point clear. If she raised a wand to his soul again, then her punishment would make Yaxley's look like a swim in a butterbeer brewery. Lord Voldemort turned to the rest of his gathering.
"It would appear, that this meeting has been cut short. Leave us." The room emptied within seconds, though Miss Lestrange has seemed quite intent upon staying. He would have none of that. Once their space was cleared, Voldemort turned to face Potter. The Dark Lord was furious, but there was very little he could do about it. Had anyone else spoken to him that way, they would have been tortured within an inch of their lives, and perhaps executed as well for good measure. His hand twitched slightly, an instinct, but Voldemort knew he couldn't curse Potter. Furthermore, no matter how badly he may have wished to, he wouldn't. The Dark Lord was about to speak, when The-Boy-Who-Lived interrupted him again.
"So, Bellatrix, the crazy one with the big hair? You know your snake thinks she's a blubbering idiot, right? Her answer to everything is cackle and attack it, and Nagini thinks she's a bad influence of the others. I would fire her, but I don't think the general population would be safe around her."
Lord Voldemort blinked. This boy had just stormed in on a Death Eater meeting, with several attendees who were not supposed to know he was alive, berated the Dark Lord before his followers, and now wished to make small-talk about how Nagini viewed an Azkaban escapee as being incompetent? The entire situation was preposterous! He wanted to lash out and curse the boy, but the boy was a part of himself. The Dark Lord didn't know what to do. He laughed.
To anyone outside the room, it would have sounded as though there was a madman wandering about the Malfoy Estate. And perhaps there was, Voldemort thought. His head was tilted back in an almost hysterical cackle. There was so much to concern himself with, and the part Potter found important was that even Nagini thought Bellatrix was completely inept, and that his mortal enemy was telling him to work on his listening skills.
Potter stared ahead awkwardly at the spectacle that was the greatest wizard to ever live in a delirious state. He circled partially around the Dark Lord, as if looking for an explanation for this outburst.
"Er, I don't get it. What's so funny? And can you stop laughing? I came here to have a serious discussion!"
Harry attempted to retain a serious face, but before long he began to laugh nervously. And that was how the two remained for several moments, laughing over a thinly veiled, tense awkwardness. Finally, the Dark Lord managed to stop. He had no idea what had come over him, but it was clear that he was quite oblivious as to how to handle a situation when instilling fear wasn't an option. Once, when he had been Tom Riddle, he had commanded respect from those around him. He deserved it after the mockery they made of him, all due to his pathetic mother and her inability to live and tell the your orphan of his legacy herself. He had demanded their respect, and fear simply followed. But it would seem that as the years passed, he found fear easier to come by. Voldemort took a deep breath, now that he was back to his wits, and motioned for Harry to sit. The boy obliged as the Dark Lord circled around him.
"Ah, Harry, you do realize why I'm upset, don't you?"
"Because I interrupted you while you were torturing that guy?" Harry replied snarkily. Voldemort placed a hand on the back of the boy's chair.
"That is part of this, you are correct. But mostly, I am upset because you interrupted while I was making a point. You are correct, I could easily design a new plan to correct the failures of the masses, but I would prefer not to. The point needed to be made that I would not accept his failure again. And you should know, Harry, that your interruption only made things worse for him. I was about to release the spell when you stormed in, but Yaxley had to wait while I handled you."
The boy fell silent for a moment. Potter's personality was exceptionally simple, the Dark Lord had already realized. He cared too much for those around him. Once he felt responsible for another's misfortune, he would immediately back down, or so Voldemort hoped. Clearly, he was wrong.
"I've seen you do that to plenty of people without a good reason."
"And did you know the circumstances then?"
"Well, no but-"
"But what? Harry, there is much you do not understand about this world. Until you do, it's not your place to step into these affairs."
The Dark Lord turned his head down towards the boy. He was frustrating, stubborn, relentless, and idiotically tenacious. Excellent traits for a horcrux, but poor ones for a mind that needed to be shaped. From this angle though, it was hard not to see that the boy was beautiful, though also a thorn in his side.
"You're right, I don't know anything about the magical world. But I know about people, and I stand by what I said earlier. If you force people to stay with you out of fear, they'll turn on you eventually."
Voldemort scoffed. "Are you suggesting that I let them continue to fail me?"
"I'm suggesting that you give them a chance. Maybe they wouldn't be so nervous whenever they saw you if the consequences weren't, you know, so harsh?"
The Dark Lord was taken aback. He was not a child to be lectured, like Dumbledore seemed to believe, nor was he so ignorant as to think that lightening the fear in his army's hearts would make them more obedient. It would only give them room to betray him, and he would not be betrayed. But perhaps, if he pretended to agree with the boy, that would appease him. And he needed Potter to stop meddling. The Dark Lord took possession of the seat adjacent to Potter. The boy sighed before continuing.
"Look, I've seen inside your head, and I know to you, the world sucks. It really does, and people can be asses. It really doesn't look like anyone's given you a reason to believe otherwise. But, that doesn't mean everyone is like that. There's got to be someone out there who you can rely on. Isn't there?"
Voldemort smirked, amused by his companion's question. He took a deep breath. "Ah, to be so young and naive. Yes Harry, please tell me more about relying on others. Who do we start with? Your Muggle family who disregarded you? All the lovely people you met on the streets as a child? Perhaps your flatmates who know none of your secrets?"
The Dark Lord paused, and leaned back slightly. "You and I are truly no different, you see. You only trust people with as much as they can handle before you know they'll leave. I was once the same, but then I realized. In time, everyone abandons you of their own accord or not. So, it's better to not trust anyone. They will all betray you in the end."
His attention was entirely on Harry, as the boy looked down, digesting the words of the man he should have trusted least of all. After a moment, he looked up, staring the most feared wizard to walk the Earth in the eye.
"What happened to make you hate the world so much?"
Voldemort had nothing to say this time. Everything ran through his mind, but he felt no need to speak. Somehow, he believed that Potter got the message. His horcrux truly did have stunning eyes, the same shade at the spell that should have ended him 17 years ago. The last time he had truly paid those eyes any attention, they were on the face of another, begging him to kill her and not her child. He has wondered at the time what Severus saw in the mudblood, but if she was even remotely as determined as her son, it began to make sense. His gaze shifted up towards Harry's forehead, and another famous feature of the boy's he had paid little attention to. The Dark Lord reached a hand out, brushing the messy bangs of the Boy-Who-Lived away from his proof the night had happened; a thin scar along his forehead. It truly did look like a lightning bolt, he thought.
"That? Oh, I got that the night my parents died. It was- er, a car crash I think." Potter responded, obviously confused by the action.
"Is that so..." The Dark Lord drawled. It was amazing, Voldemort thought, how the tiniest of details could change an entire story. He could feel the pulse of his own magic within Harry's skin, practically calling him. Were it not for this, seemingly insignifigant scar, Harry Potter would have been a corpse at his feet. Now...
"I would imagine that we are both tired. It has been a long week, after all. We will resume your lessons tomorrow. For now, return to Albania and rest. Understood?" Voldemort half ordered, half asked. Harry nodded, in a somewhat confused manner. He stood up and stepped to a clear area in the room. Good, the boy did have a habit of breaking things upon his departure.
"Hey." The boy called, gaining Voldemort's attention before leaving.
"I'll find someone out there you can trust. I promise."
With that, the Boy-Who-Lived to be far more naive than Voldemort could have imagined disappeared. He didn't know whether to laugh for his ignorance, or cringe for his immortality. Perhaps both would be appropriate. Still, car crash...
It was at least one more lie the Dark Lord wouldn't have to come up with.
Oh my god, I CAN'T believe how long Voldemort's POV turned out! That was SO HARD to write! T_T! But I really hope you like it!
Oh, and a note to ijskonijntje, who missed what happened to Draco (no worries, I was on hiatus for ages, I forgot some details and had to reread too XD). Draco was assigned with killing Dumbledore, but couldn't bring himself to do it. So, as punishment he was used as part of an experiment regarding finding a wizard without a trace. It should have been a simple procedure, but Voldemort decided to torture him for kicks, and somehow managed to strip him of his magic. Naturally, he's still pretty traumatized from the whole thing. Hope that clears it up =).
And to all of you whose reviews I don't reply to, it's not because I don't love you. It's usually because I don't have time, but I adore you all, I promise 3
I'm creating a playlist for this story. Every chapter, I add a new song. Hopefully, in the end it will be something of a soundtrack for this story. Please feel free to check it out.