Disclaimer: Harry Potter & its characters all belong to J.K. Rowling. I make no profit from it.
There was nothing here. No, that was not entirely true. Rather, everything appeared to be draped in darkness. It was very similar to black ink spilling into the corners of a white parchment. And so black that it seemed to swallow every bit of light up, leaving no sense of time or direction. Yet somehow, Voldemort was not overly concerned with it too much.
It seemed like his consciousness was just there — existing intangibly within this dark void. Perhaps this was death, although he somewhat expected more. Despite the relative 'peacefulness' of this place, it did not fool him into lowering his guard. Voldemort refused to wallow in this supposed limbo after everything he'd accomplished and sacrificed. He would scream it to all the deities to defy such a fate.
Minutes or hours could have passed until something eventually caught his attention. Not very far away, a dark glow was blinking in and out unsteadily. It called to him and Voldemort did not hesitate to investigate it. Drawing closer, he immediately recognised the glow.
Or to be more precise, it was only a shard of his soul. The 'glow' was more of a misshapen glob than anything else. It looked shredded around the edges, and a few tendrils of grey even reached out to him desperately. It was hard to accept that this small, shriveled up piece was a part of him. For the first time, Voldemort felt an emotion akin to sadness rise as he watched the shard's struggle for survival.
Then out of nowhere, his soul piece was pulled away by a strange force. Anger instantly surfaced inside him as he tried to retrieve the piece. However, it soon grabbed a hold of him next, and Voldemort fought its tight grip, not willing to give in. Unfortunately, his resistance against the foreign energy was comparable to a stream's trickle against the current of a raging river — completely and utterly weak.
And then the pain started. Pain he knew and was more than willing to deliver, but this sensation was more than a mere Cruciatus Curse. The nearest it could be described to was having one's body being seared by burning oil and then grinded into tiny flecks afterwards.
Before it became too much to bear, it stopped; though, the reprieve was short lasting. His entire being was then wrenched from that dark chasm, only to be shoved into what seemed like a tighter space. Perhaps it was a cruel cosmic joke, but Voldemort couldn't help feeling like an insect in a glass jar in that moment.
Whatever it was that occurred, he eventually sensed his surroundings settle solidly. He swiftly examined himself, inspecting to see if his soul was damaged. Once he'd determined that no harm was inflicted, Voldemort came to the realisation that something significant had changed in him.
Unexpectedly, he felt almost corporeal — no longer a weightless being. Although, it didn't feel like he had a body. He couldn't move his hands, legs or anything. If Voldemort was a lesser man, then panic would have set in long before now. As it stood, he was merely contemplating on the situation.
"Master? Is something wrong?"
All thoughts halted at the sound. The voice was a familiar one, very much like an old servant of his. Now, what was his name? It had something to do with quills or quarrels — Quirrell. Yes, that was it. But that couldn't be possible because the wizard was dead, unless...
"Unbind the turban," Voldemort rasped out, relieved that his voice had also returned. Before the man could protest, he shouted, "Now!"
Very slowly, light crawled in and his eyes opened cautiously. The harsh brightness stung momentarily before he adjusted to it. As his vision cleared, Voldemort saw the all too recongnisable DADA office. Disbelief told him that this simply couldn't be real, yet he had to confirm it.
"A mirror, Quirrell." The command was swift and cold.
This time, the wizard did what he was told without question. A mirror was soon conjured before him. And glaring right back was the reflection of his distorted face... plastered on the back of Quirrell's head.
Without warning, memories flooded through in waves of images. The battle at Hogwarts, the Elder Wand and the destruction of his Horcruxes — all the events were replaying itself until one memory struck him in particular.
His defeat at Potter's hand.
That duel stung him in its sharpness of confusion and fear. It was a Disarming Charm. Voldemort had been killed by a simple Disarming Charm — a shout of Expilliarmus and he was dead. How was that even logical?! It was such a pitiful and outrageous way to die; a defeat that grated on the very end of his nerves.
But more than anything, it was the fact Potter won the battle that had him seething with a burning distaste. The brat dared to dispose of him like a common vermin — as something less than worthy.
"Quirrell," Voldemort hissed quietly as he tried to regain control over himself. "What is the day?"
"Uh, today is All Hallows Eve, Master," his servant answered promptly, albeit with confusion.
Halloween. It was the most powerful day to connect with the dead. To die, only to be brought back to this very day — it seemed the universe was indeed playing him like a puppet. That or he was under a powerful illusion, but he very much doubted it. Still, time travel of this magnitude should not even be conceivable. Then again, magic had always been capable of many great deeds and add to that the strength of All Hallows Eve...
His mind raced with the possibilities.
"Master, the Halloween feast is about to start and the troll is ready to be released at your command," Quirrell revealed warily, interrupting his thoughts.
The least of his concerns should be a troll at the moment, but he needed time to sort through this whole mess. The troll was far from an adequate distraction in the past, and it was hard to believe at one time he'd actually agreed to the idiotic plan at all.
"There will be no need for the troll," he firmly told the other wizard.
He sensed Quirrell's bewilderment like a leaf floating aimlessly in the wind. "But Master, what of the Philosopher's Stone?"
A smirk appeared at the question. "There shall be a change in the plan regarding the stone."
A different approach was required for him to regain a new body. It was something he should have rectified long ago. A mistake that costed him too much; he knew that now. But with this method, his body and power should be restored in ways the stone couldn't accomplish.
He quickly ordered his servant to behave as usual, not wanting anyone to discover the truth of this night. Quirrell then went on to offer his assurances of not failing him, though he'd already tuned the man out by now.
As Voldemort glanced back to the mirror, a grimace slid its way to his lips. 'By the seven Hells, I truly do look pathetic.'
"Harry," Ron nudged him on the arm as they sat in the Hogwarts Great Hall, "you all right there? You've been rubbing your forehead for a while now."
He placed his hand down, resisting the urge to touch his scar again. "It's nothing, Ron — just a little headache."
A headache that suddenly appeared when Harry felt fine all day. It wasn't really painful or anything, just an irritating prickle behind his scar. Harry didn't know what to think of it, but he didn't want Ron to worry. Yet if he was truthful with himself, Harry just didn't want to stand out any more than he already did. And the famous lightning bolt scar acting weird would garner such unwanted attention.
"A headache?" Ron seemed to ponder that over, mouth pursed to the side in thought. "I think I know what's causing your headache, Harry," his friend abruptly told him, adopting a serious tone.
"You do?" Perhaps it had more to do than just his scar, though he hoped it wasn't some kind of magical illness. Harry remembered the other day how Seamus described Dragon Pox — now that was not a pretty sickness he wanted to catch.
"Yeah," Ron angled his body to face him, his stare intent. "You're not eating enough food so your body is getting weaker," with that said, the other boy began piling more food onto Harry's plate, filling it up with everything near them.
He looked oddly at as his friend, trying to make sense of it. "Ron, I don't think that's the reason," Harry might not be familiar with the wizarding world's ailments, but he was certain a lack of food was not the cause. "Besides, the ache is roughly gone now."
The other boy shrugged, oblivious to the stack of shepherd's pie spilling over the plate. "My mum always says that not eating enough will get you sick."
Well, that would explain the red head's love of eating so voraciously... or maybe not. "Ron, only you will get sick over something like that," he said in jest as the memory of missing meals under the Dursleys' care lingered in the back of his mind. It was something Harry tried not to think about now that he was at Hogwarts.
"Anyway, hurry up, Harry," Ron shoved a few more treacle tarts into his mouth, chewing rapidly as if the food would grow legs and run off. "The feast is almost over, and you still haven't touched the cauldron cakes yet."
Not needing any more encouragements, he tried the cake and a pumpkin pastry. While Ron was finishing up, Harry took this chance to look up, taking in the view of the Great Hall.
Flaming candles hovered above their heads for the feast, while decorative cob webs and cut-out pumpkins proudly displayed themselves around each corner. Even the winged bats were charmed to swoop down and surprise a few people. Tonight, the school was so playfully elaborate, vividly colourful and full of wonder. It truly was a whole different world than that of Little Whinging that he was simultaneously grateful for being here and regretful to have just discovered it now.
If only he could have been like any regular kid growing up in the wizarding world.
The students at the Gryffindor table were also having a grand time. The loud laughs and silly singing from the twins could definitely attest to that. Everyone was surely enjoying themselves, although the absence of a certain person was going mostly unnoticed. Someone he'd failed to see before.
"I heard from Parvati that Hermione's been crying in the girls' bathroom," Harry mentioned, glancing back down.
Ron's face was scrunched up like he'd just swallowed a sherbet lemon. "She's too sensitive, mate. Hermione will get over it soon enough and return to being a know-it-all by tomorrow." The red head then continued on with the feast, but a stubborn expression remained on his friend's countenance.
"If you say so, Ron," Harry didn't pursue the subject any further, choosing to believe the other boy was right and that their fellow house mate would soon be back to normal.
Turning to the head table, Harry watched all the professors. Hagrid was merrily taking a drink from his large goblet, while Sprout and McGonagall were involved in a lively discussion. And the other professors were happily eating their fill before the plates could disappear.
Of course, the only professor to have noticed his quiet assessment was the one Harry was trying to avoid. The potions master tossed a familiar glare his way, daring him to act out. He quickly averted his gaze, looking for a distraction until his scar suddenly reacted again, almost making him gasp in surprise. This time, Harry didn't resist the urge to touch it.
It could have been his imagination, but he swore his scar felt warmer for that split second.
Light streamed through the glass window, casting his office in a soft glow. Albus grazed his fingers on one of the many tomes that filled the book case, wondering if the answer to his questions could be conveniently found within the confines of its pages.
He eventually turned towards the only other occupant in the room. "Ah, excuse my wandering mind, Severus. What were you saying?"
Severus pressed his lips in annoyance, a habit that was occurring more often since the start of term. "I asked if you have chosen the final protection for the stone because I see no reason why you should wait till the winter holidays to enforce it."
Albus had indeed planned to use the Mirror of Erised when the students were gone from the castle. However, a recent incident was encouraging him to hasten that plan.
"Do not worry, Severus. I have decided to execute the final protection before then, but there is something else that you should know," seating himself behind the desk, Albus dove to the crux of the matter. "As of last night, a small magical flux appeared in the castle's wards — right before the feast to be exact."
A magical flux was basically just a fluctuation in the magical energies of the wards. They weren't common, but the flux could still occur in wards as old as Hogwarts. Yet it was what happened after the flux that had him concerned.
"And you are informing me of this now," it was a toneless statement, but it carried an unasked question.
Albus smiled at the potions master. "It wouldn't have been polite to interrupt your enjoyment in the Halloween festivities."
Severus gave him a look that was most often reserved for the Gryffindor students. "I spent most of last night patrolling the corridors that you vouched was secured enough, avoiding that wretched cat of Filch and confiscating a number of fire whiskeys from the seventh years. Trust me when I say there was no enjoyment involved whatsoever."
The impulse to smile even wider was very hard to overcome, but with years of experience, Albus managed to withhold it. Just barely. Severus had always been one to take his duties too seriously, but what most didn't know was how the man had the tendency for the histrionics in some circumstances.
"Even so, the flux lasted all for a second, and the wards are still intact, appearing to be unaffected by the whole thing."
The potions master frowned in thought, absorbing everything that was said. Dark eyes then narrowed suspiciously. "Something else must have occurred, or you wouldn't have bothered to reveal this. Well? What is it?"
They stared at one another, each assessing how to next proceed or respond to the coming information. For some unknown reason, Albus was reluctant to tell the other wizard; although, it was not out of distrust but worry.
A sigh then tumbled from his lips, rolling out to fill the silence. "It is the ghosts," Albus revealed. "They have since felt an increasing uneasiness from last night's anomaly. A sensation they described as nearly physical."
One brow arched in skepticism. "Uneasiness? They're dead, how can they even feel anything?" Severus made a motion with his hands in dismissal. "And they are always going on about this and that, so it's rubbish to put much stock in their words."
"Well, there is still much we have yet to discover about what happens after death," Albus explained, thinking back on all the research he'd done on the Resurrection Stone. "Did you know in the Department of Mysteries, there is a veil that—"
"Headmaster," the interruption was tinged with impatience. "As interesting as this is, why does it have you so concerned?"
Albus stood up again and wandered over to the window. The view of the grounds had always helped place things in perspective for him. "Not much can affect the dead but very powerful dark magic, Severus. The kind of magic that should be beyond human means," he said before turning back.
Severus' pallor countenance paled even more, but the man remained outwardly impervious otherwise.
"Do you suspect it has anything to do with the Dark Lord?" The question was delivered calmly, yet the anxiousness underneath was still detectable.
Feeling the years seep into his bones, his eyes met the potions master's own weary ones. "I believe there is a very high possibility of it."
The loud roar from the Hogwarts students as they waved their house banners was possibly one of the most offensive noises Voldemort ever had to endure. The distaste of watching through Quirrell's eyes did not help matters either; if anything it aggravated his annoyance. Children flying on brooms and chasing after balls — what a useless activity.
Even as a student, Voldemort had never understood their joy for the sport. How something as insipid and mundane could incite such fervour and idiotic excitement was simply illogical. But then again, he'd always been vastly different from his peers.
His diminishing patience was tested once more as another loud cheer came from the crowd.
It had been two weeks so far. That was the amount of time he had to adjust to this situation. Voldemort had already begun to research the circumstances surrounding his travel through time. Not much came from his labours, but he was certain such information must exist elsewhere.
And during this period, Voldemort had to exercise tolerance the likes his followers had never seen. Staying inconspicuously under Dumbledore's notice as he controlled his murderous aura around the man and everyone else was not a simple task. At first, living through this time again had seemed like a punishment until he saw it for what it was: an opportunity. It was a chance to change things to his advantage and crush his opponents faster than before. Due to this reason, he would plan and wait till the holidays.
By then, Voldemort would have his body back.
The gasps from those around him brought his concentration back to the game. Potter was flying past their stand in a flowing arc, so close to where they sat that he could nearly feel the wind upon Quirrell's skin.
"Oh my, Mr. Potter certainly flies like his father," commented Flitwick, a reminiscent awe tied to his words.
If James Potter flew as if he was born to dance in the air then Voldemort would hardly argue that. The boy flew with a fluid grace and agility that he remembered watching long ago. The Gryffindor had the skilled control that was rarely mastered in one so young.
How those movements had never transferred over to the boy's dueling remained a mystery to him.
It was oddly calming watching Potter fly with a happy expression pasted on his young face. In the back of Voldemort's mind, he secretly wished to see how that face would transform if the boy ever fell from the sky. Would it be fear for death or instead be regret and anger for wasting his life away in a stupid game? Either way, he was certain that it would be the most divine image.
Voldemort had not yet decided on what to do with Potter. The boy was his damn Horcrux for Merlin's sake. The person who was prophesised to vanquish him also carried a piece of his soul. That was a huge incentive to not torture the brat on first sight… though he did imagine many inventive ways to dismember the little urchin throughout the feast.
Just then, the snitch was spotted by Potter and the other seeker. A chase commenced immediately, one that captured the spectators' attention. Watching the little Gryffindor swerve through the air, Voldemort smirked to himself. Killing the boy may be off the table, but that did not mean he couldn't mess with Potter a little bit.
The snitch gleamed brightly in his hand as he landed on the pitch. Its fluttering attempt to escape was fruitless, but Harry didn't take notice. All his attention was on the elated cries from the witches and wizards of Hogwarts while his team flew their way over to him. But there was also something else occupying his mind at that moment.
He was really itchy.
The itchiness began when he was still chasing the snitch. It felt as if ants were crawling all over his body, and it took all of his control to not scratch and concentrate on beating the other seeker instead. Yet now that he wasn't flying dangerously in the air, Harry couldn't ignore it any longer. With his free hand, he immediately scratched the back of his neck only to move down his arm a second later.
It was then that his teammates landed and rushed over to surround him in a tight circle. Harry accepted their congratulations happily, though he tried to furtively scratch his chest as Katie and Alicia hugged him.
Anticipating the wild party in the common room, they soon left the field with laughs and smiles while disregarding the jeers from the Slytherin team. Harry walked behind the group, hoping to avoid their scrutiny as he held off on scratching himself. Unfortunately, the Gryffindor keeper did take notice of his discomfort.
"Is something the matter, Harry?" Oliver asked quietly, so the others would not overhear.
His face flushed in embarrassment. "Uh, it's nothing, Oliver."
"Really?" The disbelief in the older boy's tone was obvious even to him.
Oliver stood beside him patiently, waiting for him to explain. Seeing no other way to deter the teen, Harry finally gave in. "I'm just a tad itchy," he muttered quickly, shifting uncomfortably next to the older boy as an itch crept up near his inner thigh.
The keeper's brows lifted questioningly for a moment before smoothing out in realisation. Oliver then reddened and coughed into his hand, looking as if he just stumbled upon some girl's undergarments.
"Probably the adrenaline still in your system," Oliver patted his shoulder knowingly. "It happens to Quidditch players some times. A cold shower should take care of it."
Harry blinked at the advice... that actually made sense. It was most likely all the sweat from the game that was making him itchy. "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea."
Oliver then gave him an awkward nod before quickly walking away, anxious to be elsewhere.
Harry sighed in relief, glad that the conversation was over and more than eager to enjoy their victory. His first Quidditch game really was an exhilarating event and everything he could've imagined. Catching the snitch and winning the match was the perfect end to the whole experience; he could definitely see why people were so fanatic about the sport.
Now, if only Harry could stop scratching himself quick enough to reach the showers, since the twins were starting to unnerve him with their strange grins as they thumped him on the shoulder.