Title: Butterfly Bound
Chapter 01: Now You Don't
Summary: 6th year AU. Theodore/Hermione. When Harry lies dying from an unbreakable curse, Hermione is desperate to find a cure. After a summer of hell, Theodore wants nothing to do with the war. A Nott family heirloom provides the answer to both their prayers, but only if they can work together to survive the heirloom's demands. Getting in, however, proves far easier than getting out.
Notes: Written for the 2012 Finish-a-Thon and for edellin, who requested this.
Warnings: Torture—physical/emotional, psychological mindfuckery, kidnapping, gore, disturbing imagery, cannibalism, and death.
Lord Voldemort had decided after due reflection that he had been overly hasty in his attempts to retrieve the prophecy. Despite nearly a year of time spent in planting visions, the entire plan had been destroyed in an evening and, worse, he'd given himself away to the general Wizarding public. He'd enjoyed the year the Ministry had so generously granted him with their disbelief over his return. The time had given him the months necessary to build his power base and gather the errant strands of rebellion that had cropped up in his absence within his supporters and crush them ruthlessly.
But all was not lost, Lord Voldemort thought, staring out at the wind- and wet-lashed rocks as a storm raged outside. The window he looked out of was twice as tall and three times as wide as he was and paned in panels that in better weather looked like a work of art. The only picture shown tonight was the one that nature provided.
Lord Voldemort was alone. He had ordered the loyal from his presence and they had gone, though not all had gone as willingly as others. The sole exception to his orders was Rosier, who stood outside his chambers as less a guard and more a servant waiting orders, though Lord Voldemort considered himself generous and allowed Rosier to believe what he would.
But they would try to fly before they can walk, if they saw this. They would want to attack and that would be another fiasco like the Ministry attempt.
His long, spidery fingers brushed a pane of glass and the true view of the weather outside flickered, wavered, and then resolved itself into a view of a very familiar house. Lord Voldemort watched the occupants go about their evening routine. He had begun watching them around last Christmas, having discovered the location of the home through Harry's mind, and upon investigation had found that the wards did not prevent his surveillance-could not prevent that, as he was considered family by blood. The bulk of his attention focused on the green-eyed, black-haired boy who stuck out amongst the family.
There were many wards around Number Four Privet Drive. Lord Voldemort could, on his own, enter if he did not cause harm or have the intent to mean harm while doing so. None of his Death Eaters could do even that much, excepting, perhaps Severus, but using Severus at this junction would be a waste of a valuable resource. And he had a better plan. Nothing could enter the wards that meant Harry, and to a lesser extent, his so-called family, harm.
But this is not causing harm, Lord Voldemort thought. This is giving him what he wants.
That what the boy wanted happened to coincide with Lord Voldemort's plans was a pleasing thing. That what they wanted was not even remotely what Albus Dumbledore would want made it even better.
Lower your barriers, Harry. Lord Voldemort, still staring at the image of Number Four Privet Drive, reached out with his mind. Let me in.
The wards could not prevent that. Not when he asked and Harry, all unknowing, subconsciously gave him an invitation in simply because the boy was tired of being alone.
This was no attack as far as the wards were concerned. And he, Lord Voldemort was blood-related in any case. The rules of the wards keeping Harry safe only partially applied. Albus Dumbledore had to know that and, Lord Voldemort believed, relied on security through obscurity to provide the rest of the necessary protection.
It pleased Lord Voldemort to know his enemy's protections were little more than a farce. It was tempting, more than tempting, to simply go and tear down the wards and then allow his Death Eaters their blood sport. He'd considered such a thing more than once. The odds were in his favour that they could take out the entire family as well as the Boy-Who-Lived before Dumbledore could arrive... and to ensure that, all they would have to do was take out a Squib woman and a single guard...
But this was more elegant. This was something Harry wanted.
This once, Lord Voldemort thought, I am willing to oblige you. I can be generous, Harry, even to my enemies. Can you say the same of your mentor?
The boy in the image showed no sign of hearing him despite the fact that their minds were connected. That was all right. Sleep, Harry, Lord Voldemort urged and the boy yawned in response. Sleep and dream.
When the boy went to lie on his bed, it was then that Lord Voldemort began to truly work.
It was the second day of Harry's summer vacation.
Over the next few days, Number Four Privet Drive and its occupants went about their daily business as if everything was normal. All except for Harry.
He still moved, he still breathed, and he still did the work his Aunt and Uncle assigned him. But when he spoke it was in monosyllables and when night fell and he was meant to sleep, he didn't. Grief weighed on him and he had no support system in the perfectly normal house on a street full of perfectly normal people who believed he was something he wasn't—though they were right in thinking he was not like them.
As night by restless night passed, Harry gave ground to his grief. The closest thing he'd ever known to a father had died before his eyes due to a mistake he'd made. There was no excuse, though he fumbled for one that would not leave him guilty in some way.
Through his grief, though Harry didn't know it, Lord Voldemort found his way in.
Lord Voldemort took his time. He planted a suggestion here, a thought there, and let the boy stew himself further and further into the deep gloom of grey depression as Harry stared up at the ceiling of his dingy bedroom for hours at a time and thought of nothing at all. In another room, in another country, Lord Voldemort proceeded with his plan using unhurried mental suggestions and easy calm that overlay a chill grimness.
He'd been hasty last year; he'd listened too much to his Death Eaters and had forgotten, briefly, that they were only mortal and bound by time.
He had time to spare, unlike them, and so he could afford to move at his own pace. The death of the so-called Boy-Who-Lived was still a matter that he planned to attend to but after a few nights of self-imposed solitude and rumination he'd realized that with the boy's grief, which haunted the edges of Lord Voldemort's mind the way he haunted Harry's, there was a way to subdue the boy without killing him.
He'd still die, in the end, of course. But there was nothing wrong with taking a little more time. And if the prophecy spoke of this, well, his enemies' reactions would tell him much.
Every night, Lord Voldemort wove his spell (a curse, really) and continued to make the changes that would leave Harry susceptible, more receptive, to it. He did not think it would fail. The curse would exploit Harry's grief and guilt over losing his godfather and, even better, there were only two ways to end the spell.
Only the focal point or the victim could break it.
As the focal point was Sirius Black, Lord Voldemort was as certain as he could be that the spell could not be broken by the man. He was dead.
And the changes he was making to Harry's mind, subtle ones, would mean the boy would be less inclined to wish for freedom if he even noticed that something was amiss. Dream the dream, Harry. It can be real.
There was a chance, Lord Voldemort conceded, that the boy would manage to find the cure within himself. But it was a slim, slender chance and he was willing to take the risk. Even if the boy managed to eventually free himself, it would buy Lord Voldemort time to wage his war unopposed-Dumbledore would be more concerned with curing his Golden Boy than saving the lives of countless others, if Lord Voldemort's guess at the contents of the prophecy were correct. Harry was likely the only one who could beat him.
So Lord Voldemort would take him out of the equation.
The curse would eventually kill the boy if uncured, but it would be a long process—a year or two, three at the most. More important was that the boy would be out of commission for all that time and his enemies would be focused saving their saviour.
Once his modifications to Harry's mind were complete, Lord Voldemort was well satisfied that the hardest part would be over. The spell-an ancient one, found in a forgotten library-needed only blood and intention and determination to cast and the Lord Voldemort had all three of those. Blood forcibly taken and melded with his more than a year ago; for the curse's purposes, they were related. Indeed, Lord Voldemort thought that because of the ritual used to resort him to his body, that magically he might even be considered the Boy-Who-Lived's son. Intention, well, there was no one who wanted the boy out of the way more than he did.
And no one, not even his enemies, had ever said that Lord Voldemort was not determined.
One night, after a long and repetitive day, Lord Voldemort watched through his scrying window as Harry lay down on his lumpy mattress, in dirty clothes, aching and tired and heartsick. His green eyes fluttered closed.
Lord Voldemort wove the final strands of his curse.
For a moment, in the smallest bedroom in Number Four Privet Drive, there was no movement, not even a breath drawn and then there was a luminescent glow.
Harry's eyes opened; they were sky blue.
Then they closed again. Harry breathed deeply and slumped, bonelessly, into the curse.
Sleep, Harry, Lord Voldemort's voice lingered in the room, like a taste of winter in the middle of summer. Enjoy your never ending wonderland.
It was not a quick death, Lord Voldemort thought, but it would do. Indeed, it was likely to be more effective than a quick death would be. For in death, Harry would be a martyr.
In life, in endless sleep, he would be a problem. For the other side. And then, when they gave up hope, years later, Harry would simply pass away without ever having woken up.
Lord Voldemort disengaged his mind from Harry's and stood. He swept out of the darkened room with the swish of robes, his stride long but unhurried. He had work to do and for the first time since he'd risen, he had absolutely nothing to be concerned about when it came to the Boy-Who-Lived.
Let the Order fuss about him, the man who had once been Tom Riddle thought. I have better things to be doing.
There was a war to be fought and won while the boy who was, must be, prophesied to be able to destroy him was otherwise occupied. Laughter bubbled in Lord Voldemort's throat and while he did not let it free, he enjoyed the feeling of it.
"Rosier," he said in his high, cold voice as he left his private chambers. "Summon Greyback." He thought a moment. "And Yaxley. Quickly. They shall set the stage for the children."
Rosier stared at him. "My Lord—the children?"
Lord Voldemort smiled coldly and permitted the impertinence. "I wish to make my authority clear."
"Lord." The crack of Apparation was sharp and sudden; exactly as he wanted it from his Death Eaters. Rosier was gone without another word.
Lord Voldemort continued walking.
The stars were bright that night. Perhaps he'd go and enjoy them for a few moments.
After all, he had the time.
It was three days before anyone but the Dursleys, who cared not at all beyond closing the door to the smallest bedroom in hopes they would not catch whatever freakish ailment Harry had clearly come down with, realized that something was wrong.
It was Albus Dumbledore who found Harry.
And Lord Voldemort, watching through his scrying window, miles upon miles away, was pleased to see the despair on the old wizard's face.
In those three days, the pureblooded children of Wizarding Britain, between the ages of eleven and twenty, disappeared.
On Lord Voldemort's orders, those closest to Potter—the Longbottoms, the Lovegoods, the Weasleys—were left untouched.
Of other families, only a precious few could say the same.
I am so intimidated about playing in HP's sandbox that it's ridiculous. Love it? Hate it? Let me know!