AN: So the second part of the double post, enjoy!
Again a little bit of a side note. When I started my translation again yesterday, I had a bit of a scare as when I went to the website where the original story was posted, I found that all links to the story seems to be gone. Even worse, I could not even find the author or any of her other works on the site. After panicking for a little while, I tried a couple of searches and finally found the entire story on someone else's website. Not about to be faced with anther scare like that, I promptly copied and save the entire thing (including the text for the chapters that I had already translated), and saved it on my own PC. Upon further reading, is seems that there was some dispute of hubbub relating to another of the author's stories, which resulting in everything of the author's being taken down. Phew! Bullet dodged there!
February 3rd, 1986, it was on this cold and dark winter's night that Albus Dumbledore arrived at the Hogshead Pub. Several days ago he had received an application for the position of Professor of Divination, though Hogwarts already has a Divination Professor who, although quite old, should still have one or two years of teaching left in him. However, as the woman who applied is the great-granddaughter of a very talented and reputable seer, at the least he had to discuss the matter with her in person.
Not many frequented the Hogshead during winter and the war further cut the number of patrons by another ten or twenty percent, right now, including Dumbledore himself, there were only seven customers. A pale vampire lounged lazily in a corner drinking cheap wizard's blood, his empty eyes seeming to stare a hole through the wall, three drunks were at the bar yelling for more booze, even though most of their drinks ended up on their clothing rather than in their stomachs, two dark and gloomy witches were smoking their pipes as they gazed uncaringly at the moonless night sky, drinking Firewhiskey in gulps.
Dumbledore found this a rather seedy and desolate scene, the war had caused an already sparsely frequented pub to become even more quiet. As the lady in question had yet to arrive, he found a quiet corner and settled down to wait with a mug of mead.
After fifteen minutes, a woman with a strange scent walked into the pub. She was very thin and a pair of spectacles magnified her eyes by several times, necklaces and strands of beads hung from various parts of her body and she was draped in a crepe shawl. Her somewhat vacant gaze drifted over the pub before she almost seemed to float towards Dumbledore, after arriving in front of him, she spoke and her voice was soft and indistinct, "Headmaster Dumbledore, how do you do? I am Sybil Trelawney."
So she was the one who had sent the application. Dumbledore asked her to sit and the two spent a brief amount of time talking. The conclusion was that he had made a complete and utter mistake by coming here today, obviously the great seer's great-granddaughter had not inherited even a thousandth of her ancestor's talent in divination as all she spoke was nonsense. And so he resolved to take his leave, after all there were many Order of the Phoenix matters awaiting for his attention. He stood and made his words as diplomatic as he could, "Miss Trelawney, I am truly sorry but Hogwarts already has a Divination professor and his health is quite robust. I am sure that you will be able to get another, better position."
Trelawney was obviously disappointed but was good-natured and courteous enough in her reply.
As Dumbledore turned to leave, he suddenly heard a discordant and rough voice from behind him, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…"
Shocked, he immediately turned around to find Trelawney sitting stiffly in her chair, her eyes glazed and chin lowered, speaking in that curiously raspy voice.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him… born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him…"
Due to the urgency of the matter, Dumbledore could not take too many precautions, he was only able to charm all the other patrons to sleep with a Stupefy, luckily this was not difficult to do.
Trelawney was still continuing with the prophecy, "They are enemies but they can also be lovers… the one who raises the child shall be the key… one shall die by the other's hand… or the two shall join hands and plunge the world into darkness…"
After uttering the last phrase, Trelawney's head dropped to rest on her chest, then suddenly, she lifted her head and stared curiously at Dumbledore, asking in her indistinct voice, "Headmaster Dumbledore, why do you look so shocked?"
She doesn't remember what she just did? Dumbledore's thoughts spun at the speed of light and he made a brand new decision after hearing Trelawney's prophecy. "Miss Trelawney, it has just occurred to me that our Divination Professor is getting a little too old and might require the assistance of someone a bit younger and more energetic, are you willing to be that person?"
Trelawney was obviously overjoyed and the two agreed that she would make her way to Hogwarts that very evening, "Alright then, you and I can make our way to Hogwarts and I will send someone to retrieve your belongings." Dumbledore appeared every inch the caring boss and Trelawney was very grateful.
The two apparated to Hogwarts and Dumbledore arranged quarters for Trelawney. After saying goodbye to her, Dumbledore pushed his glasses back into position , thinking on how exciting a day it turned out to be. The one he had originally thought to be an incompetent divination lover turns out to have inherited her great-grandmother's talent and had made a true prediction… recalling said prediction, Dumbledore started to frown, enemies or lovers? The one who raises the child shall be the key?
After Dumbledore and Trelawney left, the patrons of the pub all woke at once.
The vampire smiled happily, "After spending so long here, we have finally heard a prediction, our honoured master will be very pleased."
"Boss, what should we do with the pub owner and the serving staff? Should we kill them?" One of the drunks asked.
One of the witches replied, "Idiot! Kill them and you will let Dumbledore know that our master has learned of the prophecy."
"Right. We can't kill them. Let's go, our master is waiting to hear from us." Decision made, the vampire apparated away with his underlings.
After around twenty seconds, the vampire suddenly reappeared and looked closely at the owner and the serving staff, after confirmed that they had not moved, he again apparated away.
After five seconds, the two got up quickly, "Notify Albus, Voldemort knows the whole prophecy."
Voldemort sat on his high golden throne, blood red eyes narrowed and slender fingers lightly tapping the arms of the throne, creating echoes in the vast hall.
All the servants had left the room so that their respected master could consider the matter at hand, no one was to disturb him.
A vampire moved purposefully through the long, dark corridor towards the entrance of the hall, his golden hair was held back in a ponytail with a silver ribbon and his narrow, blue eyes were filled with smugness, his formfitting black velvet robe was covered with a silk cloak of the same color and a blood red rose was pinned to his lapel. At this moment he was the epitome of high-class elegance, not a shred of the seedy desolation shown in the Hogshead remained.
The servants at the entrance of the hall blocked the vampire's way, "Count Dracula, the master is contemplating important matters, please wait for a moment."
Dracula frowned and replied, quite displeased, "Our master ordered that we must report to him immediately upon completion of our task, regardless of time or place. This is a very important matter, open this door right now or you will all be sent to hell for delaying an important matter for our master!"
At that moment, Voldemort's voice drifted out from inside the hall, "Dracula, is that you? Come in."
"Yes, my great master, it is I." Dracula bowed as he replied.
The servants pulled open the grand, rococo style doors and Dracula solemnly adjusted his already immaculate attire before striding into the hall with his head held high. Upon reaching the dais he dared not stare straight at Voldemort, he knelt on one knee to make his report, "Wise and most powerful master, after a month of waiting, my people and I finally heard the complete prophecy of Sybil Trelawney in the Hogshead pub. Allow me to be frank honored master, but this prophecy poses a grave threat to you." Some of his smugness showed though in his voice which nevertheless displayed an appropriate amount of concern for Voldemort's situation. This performance both showed that his own intelligence was not overly high and that he was loyal to his superior.
Voldemort gave an almost non-existent smile and put aside the scroll he was perusing, which was filled with ideas of new potions that might help Harry, he brought his thoughts back to the news Dracula had brought him. Even thought it was taking quite some time, at least these underlings were not stupid and had brought him the full prophecy, not like that imbecile Snape who, according to Harry, has been thrown out by Dumbledore after only hearing half the prophecy. "Dracula, tell me everything, in detail."
"Of course my great master." Dracula replied before describing everything from the moment Dumbledore had entered the Hogshead up until he returned the second time to check whether the Pub owner and the serving staff were truly unconscious under Dumbledore's Stupefy.
"Dumbledore's Stupefy had no effect on us as we had taken precautions." Dracula's expression turned somber as he asked for Voldemort's forgiveness, "Great Master, Trelawney truly seemed like a seer of some ability, unfortunately Dumbledore took her with him, please forgive my incompetence in this matter, I didn't dare interfere in their leaving in fear of getting in the way of Master's important plans."
"You did well," Voldemort complimented, "You and your companions would not have been able to stand against Dumbledore's might. The prophecy takes precedence, I am very happy that you were able to bring me the complete version. Dracula, you will be rewarded." He lifted his wand and pale, blood colored spell hit Dracula, at which the vampire was filled with elation.
"Thank you, thank you, my Master!" As the spell hit him, two spells that he had never seen before that were only suitable for casting by vampires suddenly appeared in his mind.
"Take some time to savor them." Voldemort said in dismissal.
Dracula obediently stood and retreated out of the hall.
After a moment of silence, Voldemort finally clenched his fists at the overwhelming joy and excitement that filled him. The prophecy Dracula brought him was not the same as the one Harry told him, that alone confirmed that what he was currently doing was not just an illusion, as long as he was careful, he will not need to wait 20 years to grasp the fruits of victory, he could achieve all his goals in one fell swoop!
But, there is still the issue of that child. He slowly unclenched his fists.
The only couples who had thrice defied him and escaped, whose wives were also pregnant with the baby due at the end of July, were as Harry had said, Lily Potter and Alice Longbottom. If he had to mark one of them, it was true that he would have chosen the future Harry Potter- the babe, like him was a halfblood, that alone would have been enough.
Harry's words made him unwilling to go and mark that child, because even if he marked him and the child became a Parselmouth, even if the child could communicate with him through dreams and visions, he would still not be Harry. But this new prophecy rouse a sliver of interest in him over the child, " They are enemies but they can also be lovers… the one who raises the child shall be the key… one shall die by the other's hand… or the two shall join hands and plunge the world into darkness…"
How very interesting.
Was it the case that if he, Voldemort, were to raise the child, he would grow up and become a second Harry? This speculation was dismissed by Voldemort almost as soon as it appeared. That possibility did not exist, a Harry Potter without the experience of being the Savior would definitely not be the Harry Potter that he loved, but could instead become a satisfactory heir.
Perhaps this is a better idea, he would get his hands on the child and then he and Harry could raise him together, making the child both his heir and Harry's...
This, of course, would only occur if Harry lived to see the child come to them.
Late that evening, Voldemort returned to their Manor, bathed and returned to their bedchamber. The lowered bed curtains told him that Harry was already asleep. A healthy Harry would never be abed so early but right now, Harry desperately needed sleep to alleviate the rapid loss of his life force. Voldemort undressed and got into bed, taking his lover's thin body into his arms.
Lily Potter was almost five months pregnant and at James Potter's urging, had taken temporary leave from work to return to Potter Manor to rest, the instigator of all of this was enjoying life while his poor Harry was paying a high price due to the growth and development of another him inside their mother's body! Harry continued to lose weight and his condition continued to worsen, if it weren't for his and Snape's spells and potions halting the deterioration somewhat, Harry would not even have the strength to get out of bed.
Lightly caressing Harry's pale face with and carefully feeling Harry's as yet steady breathing, Voldemort's heart and soul was under unprecedented torment.
He had thought that he and Harry would be able to spend eternity together, they had even made plans for where they would travel to for vacations after the war was done with, they had planned to tour the world, both magical and muggle. As he, like Harry, was powerful enough not to fear the passage of time, he had been sure that they would be able to realize their plans. But Harry's tear-stricken confessions that winter's night had dashed all his wonderful dreams, although various mysteries surrounding Harry were finally revealed, such as why Harry didn't seem to exist before age eleven, why Harry was so powerful at such a young age, why Harry knew so much advanced magic and potions... but if it was possible, if he could have a do-over, he would have chosen to live with these mysteries, forever speculating as to the answers, if that would mean that Harry was healthy and strong, instead of how he was right now, like a fragile porcelain doll, whose life might end at any moment.
He had scoured all his books but was unable to find a way to solve the deadlock with Harry and his other self, all the magic and potions he had found were only able to provide Harry with a means to barely continue his existence in this world. Every day he watched as Harry wasted away but was unable to do anything! It seems that his promise to always protect Harry from any harm was destined to be empty words, as it was during the Quidditch World Cup and during the Triwizard Tournament, as it is now. Would he forever be limited to passively enjoying the happiness that Harry gave him without ever being able to do anything for Harry in return? No matter what he did, it only ever seemed to be insignificant, whenever it was something truly vital to Harry's life and safety, he always seemed to be one step behind. Right now he couldn't even put aside all his other tasks and fulfill their dreams of traveling the world together, as despite his weakness, Harry was still dragging his weakening body to St Mungos everyday to balance the various factions and instruct Nicholas, all to pave the way for Voldemort, how could he do anything to jeopardize Harry's efforts?
Luckily he was not alone, he had countless wizards under his command and some of these wizards belonged to some of the oldest families in the wizarding world, believers in power and the purity of blood. Over hundreds and even more than a thousand years, they have accumulated numerous books, far outstripping what he has been able to amass in the last decades, these books had darker, more eerie, but also more effective spells and potions that are just what he needs right now. If it can save Harry, if it can allow Harry to continue living a healthy life, he was willing to pay any price.
Harry's eyes opened a sliver and gazed blurrily at Voldemort, his hands slid automatically around the man's sturdy waist and he smiled vaguely, "Voldy, you're back. I missed you."
" I missed you too Harry." Voldemort pressed a light kiss to Harry's forehead, for this smile, he was willing to give everything.
The next day, when Harry returned home from work, Voldemort, who had hurried through all his duties so that he could return home to wait for Harry, softly relayed to Harry the prophecy that Trelawney had given. Voldemort didn't mention what he intended to do with the yet-to-be-born "Harry" as he wished to hear Harry's thoughts on this changed prophecy and on the child.
Sitting on the sofa which was covered with thick woolen blankets, Harry was leaning close to the fire in the fireplace, as he listened to Voldemort relating the series of events to him, he completely forgot that his hands were getting too close to the fire, giving Voldemort a fright when he almost burnt his hands. The shock was too great, it was completely beyond his expectations, but Harry was also somewhat relieved, wasn't everything that he had done since coming to this world done purely to change this tumultuous history that still seemed to be progressing to the same end! "So, what would you like to do Voldy? Especially in relation to the yet-to-be-born "me"."
Voldemort shrugged, "Dearest Harry, first I want to ask your opinion. After all... this child is of some importance to you."
Harry gave a resigned smile, "Voldy, that is me, please don't keep seeing him as someone you hate. If not for him, there would be no me."
Conceding under Harry's admonishing glare, Voldemort lifted his hands in surrender, this was the second time he had conceded on the matter of that little brat. "Alright, alright, I will try." He will simply have to endure while in Harry's presence.
Harry sighed soundlessly. After a brief moment, he rallied and made his position clear to Voldemort, "Voldy, I believe that you are not intending to Kill James and Lily Potter, correct?"
Voldemort nodded solemnly and replied, "Correct." He had no reason to kill Harry's parents, even though the whole situation seemed so laughable- he would have to ensure his enemies' safety.
Harry was overjoyed, he had finally solved the problem of his parents' possible death. "In the prophecy, it said that the one who raises the child shall be the key... you are not going to kill James and Lily, but if they are the ones to raise the future "me", then when "I" grow up, you will be seen as "my" greatest enemy." As he had in the past. "So, it would be best to bring the child to your side so that you could raise him, and when he grows up, I believe he will be another "me" and he will become your lover."
Voldemort's face darkened, as his said chillingly, "Is that what you think?"
Harry coughed, then forced himself to swallow the sickly sweet liquid that welled up, that babe growing peacefully far away in Potter Manor was causing untold damage to his body. "Yes, that is what I think. Is that not so for you?"
"Of course not!" Voldemort's brows drew together in a furious frown, "Do you truly believe that I could love any other wizard but you? Can you really just assign another to become my lover just like that?" He paced angrily around the room, his feet pounding vengefully into the plush carpet all over the room, they were in pain but didn't dare make a sound.
Somewhat frightened by Voldemort's towering rage, Harry hesitantly replied, "Voldy, that is me..."
"That is not you!" Voldemort stomped over to stand in front of Harry, leaning down to stare right into his face with his hands on the arms of the sofa, securely bracketing Harry and keeping him right where he was, his voice was more determined and solemn that Harry had ever heard before as he continued, "This is the last time I will say it Harry, that is not you. Even though the two of you have the same parents, aunt and uncle, the same godfather, even though you both were or will be born in a time of war- he will not lose his parents, his friends and family, he will not have a godfather crushed under the stigma of betraying his friends, nor will he have grown up under the abuse of his aunt and uncle, such a person, even if he were to go to war with me for fifteen years as you did, would not be YOU, because he will never understand what it is to be alone, nor will he know true despair." He sighed, "Harry, history will not repeat itself, and I will not grow over confident in the victory that is at hand as I did before, this me will triumph in the end but that child will never become you. Put that idea out of you mind."
The man's steely tone destroyed Harry's final illusion of hope and his eyes filled with tears. "Voldy, I just don't want for you to be alone after I die..." In this world, the only thing that he was still worried about was Voldemort. He could understand the despair and rage that would come if one had and then lost the warmth of love, when he had seen his godfather, he only remaining family, fall into the veil so many years ago, the chilling pain caused hope to drain from his whole world.
"Harry, Harry..." He beloved's tears and words were like fiery knives cutting into the heart of the Dark Lord, resignedly he took his only warmth into his arms as sorrow filled his heart. "No, you won't die, I WILL find a way to save you, you will not die, I will not permit it..." He murmured repeatedly, it was hard to tell whether he was reassuring Harry or himself.
Finally, the two of them were unable to reach consensus over what to do with the child. Voldemort could not accept Harry's conclusion and Harry could not condone Voldemort's proposed action. In the end, Harry still wished that Voldemort would treat the child as him- even though he realized that he and the child would be different, but he still hoped that Voldemort would feel better with someone at his side who was physically the same as Harry. However, they both agreed that the child should be brought to Voldemort Manor as soon as he was born, along with James and Lily Potter. If possible, Harry wanted to bring Sirius Black and Remus Lupin as well.
As the flowers bloomed that Spring, Harry and Voldemort attended the wedding of Richard and Rose with Voldemort officiating. It would have been Harry, but his condition necessitated as little strain as possible and so Voldemort took his place with little fanfare.
During the entire wedding ceremony, old Baron Colson's smile was somewhat forced and stiff, his wife and daughter however, were truly happy, they both got along very well with Rose. Looking at Baron Colson's stiff smile, Harry couldn't help but imagine his reaction when he learned that his daughter was deeply in love with an outstanding Bulgarian halfblood Death Eater, perhaps the shock might even be enough to kill him.
Nicholas was progressing well, by April he had already mastered all the theory that Harry knew, all that was lacking was sufficient practical experience. Unfortunately Harry's current condition did not allow for him to help Nicholas in this, all he could do was let Nicholas proceed carefully on his own. By now, Harry's fragile condition was readily apparent to anyone aware and observant enough, everyone knew that Harry would have to leave his position as St Mungo Deputy Director in the near future, and so various ploys to gain some insight disguised as inquiries over Harry's health played out, completely oblivious to the fact that their increasing visits would only cause Harry's condition to worsen. Luckily, none of these people were allowed access to Harry, instead they were all blocked by Nicholas. After realizing how weak Harry was becoming Nicholas understood the purpose of Harry's actions over the past few months and being a very smart wizard, he was very aware of his own position and the role that he would have to play. In a very short time, he had solidified his position within St Mungos: as Harry's hand taught student, the leader of the Slytherin faction and someone considered to be a well liked and important nephew to Head Healer Allan. When Harry's condition forces him to leave St Mungos, he must and will take over all of Harry's burdens and become the center of the resistance against the Order of the Phoenix.
"What! They still haven't been found!" Voldemort glared at his shuddering servants, his handsome features twisted in to a gruesome rictus. "It has been two months and you can't even find two people and one of them is a pregnant woman! Your incompetence infuriates me!" At that, he raised his wand and his servants rolled around under the agony of the cruciatus, not daring to make a sound.
Standing beside them, the vampire Dracula didn't bother to ask for clemency on his colleagues' behalf, it was better to allow the increasingly volatile Dark Lord to release some of his rage before Dracula would be able to provide any counsel that the Dark Lord would be able to take in, otherwise it was likely that Dracula himself would become one of the unfortunates rolling around in agony. When he sensed that the timing was right, he bowed before speaking, "Great Master, I am ashamed over their incompetence and while they do deserve punishment, " here he paused, "Great Master, I am sure with your intelligence and cunning, you have seen through the issue and already know that Dumbledore is aware that you know about the prophecy, he must have done something to hide the Potters and the unborn child, preventing our people from locating them."
"Oh?" Voldemort's gaze turned to Dracula and indicated that he continue.
"I believe that the Potters are not just hiding in a place that we can't find- even if they were hiding in the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, we would be able to get some information, therefore, I believe that Dumbledore must have hidden them using some kind of spell."
Could it be the Fidelius?
So, Dumbledore had finally used this strategy, Voldemort's eyes narrowed as he scoffed internally. The secret holder has to be Sirius Black, there could be no other candidate. That mutt is James Potter's best friend and would be willing to undergo any pain and torture to protect his friend's secret. It is a shame that Harry had already killed Peter Pettigrew, otherwise that cowardly wizard who was obsessed with power would definitely have betrayed his friends and given Voldemort the secret, just like Harry had said. Deep inside those watery, beady eyes, lived untold desires and hatred. Perhaps it was precisely this reason that had caused Harry to kill Pettigrew with no hesitation, to prevent his foreseen betrayal and despicable behavior.
Without Pettigrew, if Sirius Black still wanted to plan a decoy, there would only be one candidate. Voldemort's smile grew increasingly chilly, let us hope that Sirius Black isn't so stupid as to switch secret keepers to that person, otherwise it would suck all the challenge from the matter. However, who else could Sirius Black trust other than that person. As wily as he is, Dumbledore would never take on such a risky task, that man was more slippery than an eel!
He waved his hand, his robe sleeve sweeping elegantly, "Relay my command, all efforts are to be made to apprehend Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Oh, try not to hurt them. Lupin is to be apprehended discreetly, as for Sirius Black..." His lips curved even more in an eerie grin, "Be as blatant as possible in his apprehension."
Those gathered below the throne were overjoyed. They had thought that they would have to endure a towering rage, instead they were only subjected to one round of Crucio then forgiven, thankful gazes turned towards Dracula.
Thinking back, Voldemort realized that Dracula had not taken part in any large scale operations lately, not wanting the newly taught spells to go to waste, he called him over and instructed, "Dracula, you will lead this mission to capture the werewolf Remus Lupin, get it done quietly, don't let any information leak out. I am aware that you have always been discreet. Once this is done, I will not forget the efforts of the Dracula Clan."
Having been rather bored these two months with several easy missions and feeling somewhat dissatisfied that he had not had the opportunity to use the spells that his master had taught him, Dracula was overjoyed at Voldemort's words. Kneeling quickly, he replied in a loud, clear voice, "Rest assured Master, I, Count Dracula, swear on my life that I will not disappoint my Master, the werewolf Remus Lupin will be brought secretly to your feet."
"Hm." Voldemort nodded in satisfaction, still he called Dracula over and whispered some quiet instructions, after which Dracula moved silently to the side.
Voldemort then instructed the other wizards, "I will not chastise you for your previous failures. As long as you capture Sirius Black, you will have achieved a major victory for me. If you fail in this..." He did not elaborate but his chilling, bloodthirsty tone make it clear to his terrified Death Eaters what horrifying fate they would suffer if they failed in this mission.
"Honored Master, please be assured that no matter what, we will not fail in this, we will bring you Sirius Black."
After his servants closed the doors softly after them, the hall was again plunged into silence, but the quiet did not soothe Voldemort's raging emotions. Harry was getting worse and he still had not found an adequate solution, no matter how many books he read, the results disappointed him. Was there truly nothing to be done?
The servants outside the doors quietly asked, "Master, Lucius Malfoy and Jim Green wish to see you."
"Have them come in." Voldemort lowered the hands that had been covering his face, smoothing his features back into nonchalance.
Even though the war had lowered the living standards of the nobles by a significant amount, these two young nobles, with their strong abilities on the battlefield, still appeared quite relaxed and happy. "Great Master, we have something important to report."
"What is is?" Voldemort asked.
Lucius and Jim exchanged a glance, Jim lowered his head as Lucius began, "Master, you have been trying to find a way to restore Master Harry's life force?"
As Lucius' words, Voldemort's reaction was extreme, his fingers almost jerked for several seconds, not to say the sudden skip of his heart. Harry's weakened body was not secret and many wizards have been wondering how much longer Harry would be able to continue working at St Mungos before retiring to rest at Voldemort Manor. Lucius and Jim, as some of his closest followers, were of course aware of how serious Harry's condition was, their sudden queries would of course not be for the sole purpose of piling on more worries in his already volatile mood, they must have found something that might help.
Voldemort quickly became aware that his composure had deteriorated somewhat and he coughed lightly to disguise any inappropriate expressions. "Yes, I have been searching for ways to restore Harry's life force and energy." His gaze swept over the two, "After all this, the two you are of course aware that I am not searching for any ordinary way of restoring energy."
Lucius and Jim shared another glance, Lucius nodded at Jim then bowed, "Master, even though such spells are rare, they do exist, as we see it, Master's most pressing concern is that we have yet to find a way to extend Master Harry's life without harming another."
Voldemort folded his hands under his chin so that his tumultuous emotions would not be betrayed by his trembling fingers. To keep his voice steady, he had to speak as few words as possible, "Tell me." Just those two words, but his could still feel the overwhelming impatience in his tone.
"The Philosopher's Stone, Great Master." The two said simultaneously, "A Philosopher's stone would be able to solve the issues Master Harry is facing."
The Philosopher's Stone? Voldemort froze for a moment. This was a very ancient method, it not for Lucius and Jim, Voldemort would not have thought of this wonderful artifact for longevity. But, like the other methods, this had a fatal flaw, would Harry's extended life cause irrevocable damage to that unborn child? His hope froze, this would not work.
Voldemort's wordless reaction told the two below the dais that he had misunderstood their meaning. Jim continued, "Master, the stone is not for Master Harry, it is for you."
For him? Voldemort froze again at Jim's words, but this time he understood what Lucius and Jim meant, that was their proposal, after turning things around a bit, everything became clear. There was no further need to hid his emotions, laughter rang throughout the hall. "Very good, wonderful, your suggestion pleases me greatly. Now, what would you like? I will grant you anything." Although he is very strict with those of his followers who fail, he never hesitates to rewards those who are competent and have served him well.
Lucius wished for more power and a higher position which Voldemort granted, as well as giving a great gift to the soon to be born heir to the Malfoy family, at the same time naming this boy, who had continually been at odds with Harry because of Harry spurning his hand in friendship on the Hogwarts Express, Draco.
Jim wished for Voldemort to pardon his sister Kate Green. In the past, Kate had urged Miranda to attack Harry and been found out by Voldemort, after this, she had been sent to Azkaban. To prevent her from been given the Dementor's Kiss, Jim had spent much of their family's money. After spending five years in Azkaban, Voldemort had sent her to the front lines after the war began, so that she walked in the presence of death every day. Luckily she had only received one injury to her leg. The time she spent recovering at St Mungos was the most peaceful period in her life. Although Jim felt that Kate deserved what she got, still they were blood and he wanted her to be free from such danger. Also his sister had finally seen the light after witnessing the devotion and love Voldemort had for Harry as well as Harry's immense power.
Voldemort hesitated over this request but finally relented. "She is your responsibility Jim, don't disappoint me."
Nicholas Flamel, famous alchemist and Opera lover, his life's greatest achievement was making a Philosopher's Stone. This artifact which existed almost solely in legend can turn base metals into gold and create the Elixir of life, allowing the drinker to live forever. So Nicholas Flamel became a freak of nature that has lived for more than six hundred years, his wife had also become a long lived witch due to the stone. They have lived for a long time in Devonshire. This information was given to Voldemort by Harry, in this complete baring of history, he had also revealed his struggle with then enemy Voldemort over the stone. But Voldemort had almost completely disregarded this information about the so called drug of immortality at the time due to his worry over Harry's condition.
The information now became very useful, the only uncertainty was the exact location and current whereabouts of the Flamels. In these times of war, locating a single wizarding couple is not easy, especially given that this couple might be actively participating in the war. They would be unlikely to leave the stone at their home, rather they probably had the stone on them, of course, if their home was heavily warded then the stone might be there. Regardless, such a delicate matter required a reliable person to handle, to refrain from alerting the quarry and also to be powerful enough to command a large number of others in the search.
Coming to a decision, Voldemort went to Baron Colson's Manor in Bulgaria to talk to young Lord Colson in privacy for around ten minutes. This short but distant trip lightened Voldemort's mood immensely.
Richard Colson was a hidden piece that he had prepared for Harry, from the time Harry had begun to accept Richard he had carved out a place for this overly rebellious young man, he and he wife, as well as all their underlings belonged directly to Harry and were responsible for Harry's safety. Richard himself understood his situation, he might disregard his own safety but he cannot ignore his wife's wellbeing. And so Rose Cox was able to become first Richard's fiancé and then the Lady and future Countess of the prominent Colson family, all because of Harry's mediation and efforts. If anything were to happen to Harry, should Voldemort stand aside and do nothing, Rose would likely disappear from the face of the earth and Richard would be forced to marry some pureblood lady instead and become the perfect little heir. Unlike the Black family with their two sons so that there was another worthy successor even though one son had betrayed his own ancestors, Baron Colson only had the one son. To ensure that his assets are not taken by any ancillary bloodlines, Richard must keep the place of heir, Baron Colson's previous threats of disownment were simply empty threats made in an attempt at forcing his son's compliance. At present, Richard had in a sense embarked on a path of no return, his only hope and indeed the only thing he could rely on was Harry's support, thus it is most fitting to assign this task to him. Being a very reliable and practical wizard, his underlings tended to favor him, making Voldemort somewhat confident in his ability to complete the assigned tasks and missions, also various unique artifacts available to such an old wizarding family would help to ensure the security and success of any transmission of information. As well, Voldemort did not have many other followers available to handle such a task as most of them were already locked in conflict with the Dumbledore led Order of the Phoenix, he was only able to send a portion of his followers to capture Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, but this mission had just as much importance in Harry's safety and survival and thus he placed equal importance on it. He did not expect Richard to bring him the Philosopher's Stone, in truth Richard did not possess that level of ability, after all a six hundred year old wizard's knowledge of magical theory and practical spell casting was not something a young wizard in their twenties could stand against, even the wards and protections around the Flamel home might be enough to stump the lad, no, all he needed was information, Nicholas Flamel's address and his current whereabouts, he would take care of the rest himself.
After more than forty days of effort, Dracula returned to Voldemort triumphant, "Honored Master, one of your most reliable servants, I, Count Dracula, have completed my assigned mission and captured the werewolf Remus Lupin." At a brisk wave of his hand, six Death Eaters dragged Remus Lupin in front of Voldemort.
Voldemort gazed at the six lower ranking Death Eaters who all looked the worse for wear, each with rumpled, dirty and sweat-soaked robes and covered in wounds minor and major. Remus' somewhat faded and threadbare robes were slashed open at the waist in a foot long gap, his hands were blood-soaked and bruises littered his face. Of the eight wizards present, only Dracula was immaculate, robes pristine and blue eyes glittering with elation, excitement and satisfaction, it was obvious that in this chase, Dracula had won an overwhelming victory. It seems that Dracula was so eager to claim his reward for the successful capture of Lupin that he didn't even give his underlings time to change out of their ruined robes. At least the pitiful state of his six followers gave him some satisfaction as to their loyalty.
He raised a single brow, "Dracula, your underlings were not too rough on the werewolf?" He believed that Dracula would not go against his orders but he was concerned that Lupin's response might have been overly fierce, forcing Dracula to be more heavy handed, he didn't want Lupin to sustain any LASTING damage or Harry might take issue with him.
Dracula's smile was slightly smug as he replied, "I would not be so idiotic my lord. Although Remus Lupin looks to be in a pitiful state, all he suffered were surface wounds, easily and quickly treatable. These six incompetents and the couple dozen others like him are all in a worse condition than him." He said, pointing to the six Death Eaters manhandling Lupin. "I was well aware of what was appropriate." Even though he had taken care not to make the attempt around the period prior to or following the full moon given that Voldemort had informed him of Remus Lupin's werewolf status, they had still sustained a significant amount of damage as they could not hurt Lupin too severely.
Voldemort gave a satisfied smile. Gazing at Lupin, who was looking back at him without any obvious sign fear nor even too much rage, he waved his hand in dismissal, Dracula and his underlings immediately vacated the Hall. Their Master wanted to perform the initial interrogation and they were better off outside guarding the doors.
When he discovered that he was being hunted by Death Eaters, Remus accepted the possibility that he might not make it, as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, sooner or later he would have faced this situation. Surprisingly the vampire in charge of the mission was given orders to not damage him too severely, instead, he instructed his underlings solemnly to capture him alive, even at the cost of their own lives. He noted that the Death Eaters seemed to disappear before and after the full moon, allowing him to endure his transformation peacefully, then they would launch another round of attacks.
He never wanted to imagine this scenario but the reality of the situation gave him no choice, the halfblood prince, he must have been a part of this manhunt launched against him, he didn't know how he was supposed to face these possibilities or perhaps they were facts, Voldemort knew that he had access to the Wolfsbane Potion, it was quite possible that the halfblood prince had told him. He couldn't be angry at the halfblood prince for what he had done, after all, an eternally insurmountable barrier loamed between them, reason and circumstances can easily destroy the existence of emotions. If their situations were reversed, if Dumbledore were to had need to get his hands on the halfblood prince, Remus would have told him any information that he might possess- it was their responsibility and it was in line with their own principles. Still, his heart stung a little and his eyes threatened to fill with tears.
"Mr. Lupin, Harry has missed you and will be glad to see you again." Voldemort's lips curved with mirth over what he had seen in Lupin's thought, it seems that Severus, the halfblood prince who had always thought his love to be one-sided, was not, in fact, alone in his feelings.
Harry, Harry Potter. Even though they were on opposite sides, Remus could not deny that Harry Potter was the most likeable Death Eater he had ever met. If Harry Potter had been sorted into Gryffindor back then, they would have gotten along wonderfully, that man was not a Slytherin in the traditional sense. However, Voldemort didn't really mention Harry Potter at this moment to express how much the man missed him. "I would also be happy to see Mr. Potter again."
Why did Voldemort want to capture him alive?
Through legillimency, Voldemort found no evidence that Remus Lupin was harboring any secrets and his other thoughts did not contain anything that roused Voldemort's interest. This did not cause him to despair, instead it made him suspect Remus Lupin even more. The reason that the Fidelius can only be revealed by the secret keeper himself is because no one else could detect the existence of the secret in that person's mind using legillimency or any other mind magics. Very interesting, it seems that the stupid mutt was again playing tricks that he was not good at. "Take him to the dungeons." He instructed the Death Eaters waiting outside the doors. Remus Lupin will just have to stay in the dungeons until Sirius Black was captured.
Harry quickly learned the news, when Voldemort returned to the Manor Harry was waiting for him in the study. "You captured Remus?" Harry asked, shocked. He had received reports that Voldemort was concentrating all efforts on catching Sirius but he had not heard that Voldemort had issued instructions to capture Remus. What mystified him was that he had thought Voldemort would place the highest priority on capturing James and Lily, it seems that he was mistaken, but in a way that was better, even though he had originally hoped to keep Sirius and Remus, who had always loved and cared for Harry, alive and free, mixing up the order of their incarceration was not necessarily bad.
"Yes." Voldemort handed Harry a silver bottle of potion, this was a new potion he and Snape had created to help restore life force, it was adequate at improving Harry's almost shutdown body. "Take a guess why I had him caught." He lightheartedly attempted to engage Harry with a puzzle.
Harry blinked and tilted his head, then he shrugged, "Alright, I'll admit that I do not know. I had thought that you turned to catching Remus and Sirius because catching James and Lily became too difficult, obviously I was wrong."
Harry's words made Voldemort smile as he moved to embrace him. Harry's body was growing ever thinner and the woolen robe almost seemed to be too heavy for his emaciated shoulders. Different from the recent past, embracing Harry did not bring any sorrow, today's news was too wonderful and full of hope for that, he had now gained endless confidence in Harry's future recovery. "Dear Harry, you were indeed wrong, I did not capture Lupin because it was "easier". I suspect that Remus Lupin is James and Lily Potter's secret keeper."
"Secret Keeper?" Harry exclaimed as he immediately grabbed hold of Voldemort's arms, fingers white with strain. "Did you say secret keeper?"
"Yes, I did." Voldemort's smile faded away as his expression turned somber.
"The Fidelius?" Harry asked hurriedly as his breathing grew short.
"Yes." Voldermort was beginning to get a bad feeling about this. "Harry, calm down, you are too weak, you can't get too excited." Taking a potion out of his pocket with the fluidity of practice, he carefully fed half the vial to Harry. It was fortunate that he was used to carrying calming and nutrient potions on hand due to Harry's weakened condition.
Even after consuming the potion, Harry's face was almost grey and his lips almost blue, his eyes almost seemed to dull. After being carried over to the sofa by Voldemort, he seemed to be lost in his thoughts. After a while, he clenched his fists and turned to Voldemort, "Voldy, you said that history will not repeat itself, right?"
Voldemort nodded solemnly, his voice full of conviction as he replied, "Definitely not!" He will not murder Harry's parents, not will he attempt to kill Harry, he will not be defeated by a baby and be made to drift around a dark forest in desolation and despair for eleven years, he will not allow Dumbledore to die so easily... no, history will not repeat itself, he will not allow it!
Releasing his tightly clenched fists, some color finally returned to Harry's face, his body falling into Voldemort's arms after the tension holding him rigid dissipated. Too much concern caused him to lose his perspective, what was he worried about? Disregarding the fact that James and Lily were his parents, he had already told Voldemort about what he had been through, with his towering intellect, how could his lover possibly choose to make the same mistakes? And even if Voldemort still repeated his foolishness, wasn't Harry still around to help remedy any issues? Even though Harry was about to die, he would not allow Voldemort to move towards destruction. Although it could not be said that everything was under control, at least Voldemort would not court destruction, that was enough. Harry was certain that with Voldemort's cunning, the situation will turn out to be better instead of the worst happening. Taking a deep breath Harry turned to Voldemort with a forced smile, "I'm sorry ,Voldy..."
Voldemort put his arms firmly around Harry's shoulders and shook his head wordlessly.
"To think, even after I killed Peter Pettigrew, there is still Sirius... or perhaps Remus..." Harry murmured. He couldn't hope that Sirius or Remus would be able to keep anything secret, with the improving relations with the muggles, Voldemort seemed to have experimented with many spells that were the result of mixing magical and muggle methods and theories.
After dinner, Voldemort left the Manor to return to his headquarters to take care of some business, Harry stayed in the study to read by the fireplace, this is now his only leisure activity, other activities such as practicing magic or studying potions had all been vetoed by Voldemort. Ten pm was his bedtime as designated by Voldemort and so at that time he put his book back on the bookshelf, gathered his thick cloak around him and slowly made his way to the bedroom. He had intended to go directly to sleep after getting into bed but something else suddenly occurred to him. "Accio two way mirror." He incanted with a wave of his wand.
"Sev, you aren't in bed yet are you?" He said into the mirror.
Snape's face appear in the mirror, having classes and almost forgetting to eat and sleep as he researched potions for Harry, he had lost quite a bit of weight. Piercing eyes looked up and down quickly to ascertain Harry's condition as his mood visibly darkened with despair. "Harry, you are getting worse." He stated with resignation.
At this, Harry's lips quirked into a brilliant smile as he consoled his friend, "Sev, I am thinner, but I am feeling better. Thank you for your potions."
Snape shook his head as his gaze again swept over Harry's body, after another shake of his head, deep eyes filled with sorrow that could not be hidden. Just several days ago, he and Voldemort had met to diagnose Harry, at that time Harry had looked much better than he did now, right now Harry didn't look much better than a corpse and he did not doubt that in two or three months Harry will fall into the arms of death. The terrifying thing was that he still did not know what horrible illness had caused Harry's life force to fade so quickly, according to the diagnosis Harry's body was healthy and without illness, but it was certain that his life force was draining away naturally, like an old man awaiting the call of death- but Harry was only twenty-one! Under these circumstances, Severus had long given up hope of being able to cure Harry, magical healing at its present level is incapable of saving Harry's life, all he could do was his best. But each time he saw Harry's increasingly haggard appearance was a heavy blow to his heart, perhaps it was because of Harry's brilliance, he was so brilliant that even Merlin was jealous and had to take his life. Severus could only watch and endure the torment and pain of not being able to do anything as his friend moved ever closer to death. "Don't try to comfort me Harry. The more you try the more incompetent I feel."
For a moment the two were plunged into silence.
After several seconds, Harry was the first to break free of the atmosphere of sorrow, he had done his best to make arrangements for anything that concerned him and he was beginning to get used to the threat of death, however, even he could have moments of confusion, even he had things that he could not bear to lose, he struggled and hung on to those things but still he made preparations to meet death. He did not want to leave this world with any regrets, similarly, he did not want those around him, people that he cared about and who cared about him, to have any regrets or sorrow. It was just as well that the topic he was preparing to discuss with Snape would bring them out of this heavy atmosphere, news of that one should be sufficient to drag Snape out of his self-recrimination. "Sev, there is something important that I must tell you, Voldy has captured Remus Lupin."
"What?!" Snape's usually cold and emotionless facade cracked spectacularly, he eyes widened so far that they were in danger of falling out of their sockets, the pitch of his exclamation was almost beyond what Harry could endure, "What did you day?! Master has captured Re... Lupin? Did I hear you correctly?"
Harry rubbed his ears in commiseration over their recent torment. It worked better than he had hoped, his friend's spirits had lifted, or perhaps it was more accurate to say that they had been elevated to an unbearable level. Shaking his head, he replied, "You did not hear incorrectly Sev, Voldy had indeed capture Remus, Voldy told me so himself."
Snape took a long moment to digest this shocking piece of news, then his worriedly questioned Harry, "He... he won't die will he?"
"Of course not."
"He is badly wounded?"
Harry shook his head, "No, his wounds are not severe. Voldy told me that they are all flesh wounds and will heal completely."
Snape was very relieved that Remus had not sustained any heavy or debilitating injuries. After the release of the initial tension one question sprang to mind, according to the reports of the Death Eaters who had infiltrated the Order of the Phoenix, Remus was an outer circle member of the Order, usually given unimportant tasks, he was also not privy to much information, thus he is not an Order member that should be of much use to Voldemort, such a member should have no importance and would likely to eliminated rather than captured. But according to Harry's statement, Remus had been captured relatively unscathed, those responsible for taking him in had likely sustained heavier injuries than he. This was obviously due to prior instructions by Voldemort, but why would this be?
"Thank you, Harry."
Snape's sudden thanks confused Harry, "You're... thanking me?"
"Yes, thank you. You must have made a plea to Master on Lupin's behalf, otherwise he would not have been caught with so little damage." The only reason Snape could come up with for this was that Harry had ensured Remus' safety with Voldemort. "Thank you for everything that you have done for me." He would remember this forever.
"Um... you're welcome, after all we're good friends." Harry chuckled dryly, not daring to deny Snape's supposition, although Voldemort had spared Remus because of Harry, it had nothing to do with Snape, but right now, all he could do was buck up and accept Snape's gratitude for his kindness and friendship.
"So, do you know why Master had Lupin captured?" Snape was certain that it was not because of the halfblood prince.
Harry then explained Trelawney's prophecy and Voldemort's speculations thereof, Snape immediately frowned in concern.
"Master believes Remus to be the secret keeper? Is that... possible? That idiotic best friend of James Potter's, shouldn't such a great secret have been entrusted to Sirius Black? How... how could Remus be dragged into this?" In the end, Snape's concern was so great that he had forgotten to prevent the "Remus" from slipping out to replace his customary address of "Lupin", but he had no attention to spare on a little matter like that. If Voldemort's supposition was correct, then Snape was well aware of what Remus will be put through at Voldemort's hands. The best way to question a prisoner was with torture, the more severe the better, he himself had been in charge of several interrogations and was well aware of the effectiveness of Death Eater torture methods, they could definitely make any wizard wish for death, while various spells and potions ensured that the prisoner would not be allowed the mercy and release of death before the relevant information was obtained.
"But Black's idea is not completely stupid, if that was truly what he did. As everyone is aware that he is James Potter's best friend, they would all believe him to be the secret keeper, that way no one would suspect someone else to be the secret keeper." Harry thought Sirius' idea to be a fairly good one and without Pettigrew, Sirius' choice of candidate was much better.
"Well, our Master's intellect is not to be underestimated... he is not just a smart wizard..." Snape's response was bitterly murmured. Even though in his eyes, Sirius Black was not some fool and could even be called somewhat intelligent, still Black had doomed Remus. He can already foresee what Remus will soon be going through, and the only thing that he may be able to do for him was to prepare healing potions such as skelegrow and blood replentishers, then drag Harry into making some plans with him, so that they could ensure that Remus recovered as soon as possible after each interrogation as well as making sure that he had some respite between sessions. He could only hope that the introverted Remus was not as stubborn as he thought and gave up the Potters' location soon under torture so that his suffering was minimized.
"You're right." Harry's joy was heartfelt on the topic of his beloved's towering intellect. He had of course noticed Snape's despondency and could guess at the reasons for it, but as long as he was around, Voldemort would not use torture on Remus, perhaps his other methods would be even more cruel but as least Remus' physical pain would be minimal. "So, I would like to ask, do you want to go see him?"
"See him?" Snape repeated Harry's words in confusion before reacting, "You are saying that we can go see him..."
Harry nodded. "It's been a while since you have seen each other correct? There have not even been many letters right? I know that there are reasons why you usually don't see him, but right now he is right there and if you don't go see him now, once Black is captured and Remus is confirmed to be the secret keeper, going to see him will put you in too awkward a position."
That was true, a meeting between Remus and Snape right now would be awkward but waiting to meet until after Remus had been tortured extensively by Voldemort would be infinitely worse. After coming to this conclusion, Snape was of course eager to go see Remus. "Harry, if you could help me make arrangements, please don't be too... precipitous."
Harry readily agreed.