Authors Note: Sorry for the wait this chapter had not yet been beta-ed but I'm posting now. Warning: things are really going to heat up prepare yourselves! Don't forget to review! New Note: Beta-ed! contents has not changed but it was suggested the chapter would flow better with one or two scenes moved around! Enjoy! 01/25/14
Harry felt his head tip forward for the fourth time. It didn't help that cauldron bottom thickness was a boring subject; he just hadn't managed to get any sleep. He was determined to find out more about Tom, mainly his age. Tom didn't seem to be getting any older. Even his parents were showing early signs of age now, so why wasn't Tom? If anything he looked even younger. His eyes were red, like an animal's. Was it possible that his soul mate wasn't human?
It was no good to keep thinking in circles like this.
While the subject material was indeed boring Harry had been zoning out in classes that he found interesting as well. His mind was becoming consumed with this mystery. It was itching at him and making him jumpy.
The child looked up at him but then quickly ducked his head again. Pink dusted the top of his cheeks which were still slightly rounded with baby fat.
Voldemort very rarely used any of his Dark Lord persona around Harry. He was simply 'Tom' his doting and loving soul mate. Now, though, it was time to begin to get Harry acquainted with the 'darker' aspects of his personality. He had to unfurl it slowly so as not to frighten Harry, lead him bit by bit to discover the truth and most difficult of all, he had to keep his Little One's trust throughout. "You failed a potions quiz?"
The boy squirmed and took a quick glance at his face. Currently he looked disappointed. He graced the boy with a slightly disgusted look and resisted smirking when the boy hung his head down in shame.
"Your education is of the utmost importance Harry. Your best weapon is always to be smarter, cleverer, faster, better than your enemies. You are my soul mate, you are to stand at my side but how do you expect to do so if you fail so abysmally at something as simple as Potions?"
Harry looked up fast eyes sparkling and full of defiance. It was this natural fearlessness, this spark of iron will that Voldemort found most alluring about his horcrux. The young boy sought his gaze and held firm for a moment before looking away. "I told you I couldn't concentrate!"
"Ah, I know you've been preoccupied with Tom Riddle. If I give you a clue Harry will you give me a promise, an oath?"
The young raven haired child thought it over for an admirable amount of time. Voldemort had expected him to simply jump at the offer of a clue to this most burning mystery. He was further surprised and a little perturbed by the child's next question.
"Isn't an oath a little bit much for just a clue?"
The child made a pretense of being playful but the Dark Lord could tell he was also serious. He was stating without being all out defiant that he would not swear an oath for a clue. The playing field was a long way away from being level but what would he do once he could truly call this child his 'equal.'
"Very well Little One, a promise then for a clue?"
Harry nodded and no longer feeling chastised jumped into his lap.
"Alright Harry, you must promise me that you will devote your full attention to your school work and I will give you a clue. If you disappoint me though and your grades slip any further I will offer you no more help. Do we have a deal?"
"Yes, I promise!"
Voldemort smiled pleasantly at the Son of his Vanquisher. He leaned in close and the young child leaned in to receive his whispered clue.
"Tom Riddle was rewarded for special services to the school. The plaque can be located in the trophy room."
Harry whooped and jumped off of his lap, treating him to a bright eyed look he'd received from no other in his life.
"What was it for?"
"Ah now my Little One, you must remember your promise; studies first, you can discover what it was for in your free time Harry."
Now that he had gained some control over Harry's rampant curiosity he listened to the child prattle on about the eye opening nuances of the Malfoy heir's beauty routine and his perspective of being treated as Slytherin's Heir. Harry was right, he was no heir but he could fool plenty of the charms Slytherin had placed around the castle into thinking so. The basilisk he could never fool but what were the chances of Harry ever discovering the Chamber of Secrets? He was the heir and had barely discovered it.
James took a quick lifesaving dive to the right narrowly avoiding being hit with a heart crushing curse. Nasty business that; took a full hour to kill you. His relief was short lived however. He had inadvertently stepped into the path of another curse. This one a deadly his amazement the spell faded away, nullified. He turned in the direction the nullifying spell had come from, expecting to see Dumbledore but instead he saw a Death Eater in a white mask.
It took him mere seconds to realize who it had to be. Voldemort! His vision seemed to tunnel on the tall masked figure and a volley of spells left his wand one after the other. He had to kill this man. He had to capture this man, this man would burn the world, this man would kill them all. He knocked the Death Eaters that tried to engage him battle out of the way. They were nothing but the body. He had found the head of the snake.
James whipped his wand through the air and the name of the killing curse rushed over his lips. He felt the power of it surge through his body. His aim was true but Voldemort was quick to drop to the floor. The Dark Lord sprang back up not firing any curses back at him which was odd. Then Voldemort began to throw weak spells and James went in for the kill again. This time he aimed to rip through the chest and to his surprise it worked. The body fell and turned into smoke, It was a double! The real Dark Lord had already made his escape. He was sure of it.
James groaned as the last white masked combatant made it past the containment wards and apparated away in a twirl of black robes. The Ministry could no longer conceal that the Death Eaters were back in action. The return of Lord Voldemort himself had yet to be confirmed. James knew he would be able to prove very little without a body but he was sure he had battled the Dark Lord today and the man had fled. It was very odd. All efforts were being made to suppress news of the Darks' global activities.
He smiled to himself. He could only take this to mean that the Dark Lord was still weak. Perhaps they had a chance to beat him if they moved quickly enough. It seemed pointless and childish of the Minister to continue to risk all of their lives languishing in the cool waters of denial. Confirmed or not only one man was capable of the magic he had seen today and only one man could affect such a change in the Death Eaters activities and that was Lord Voldemort himself.
All the strange activity the globe over such as the missing children and the astonishing brashness of this attack all pointed to one thing; a new and dangerously improved Dark Lord. One who was after world domination and one who had a clear plan.
The Unspeakables arrived on the scene to gather whatever evidence could be found. James didn't stick around to help. He needed to speak to the Minister right away. He' d begged off paper work this morning, planning to go home early to help Lily. It was one of the perks of being The Vanquisher, a title he expected to lose quite soon and from the way things were looking, spectacularly so but it did mean he had free time now. He needed to use it.
The man currently known as 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' incase uttering his name summoned him from the dead was rousing himself from his soul releasing slumber. Speaking with Harry seemed to have a way of lifting his overall mood. He was far from skipping merrily down a yellow bricked road with a basket full of wild flowers but he was content. Harry delighted and intrigued him, his little protégé. They were so similar at times it startled him. Still, even with all the similarities, Harry differed from him in one major way. He was Light, a descendant of Gryffindor Light.
He supposed as Harry grew into a man he could delight in all the ways Harry tried to mellow out his Dark. He shook his head. That particular train of thought had at least five more years to sit patiently parked, emergency locks in place. He couldn't quite control his memory though and stored in there was the most alluring image of his Harry as a full grown man. The image was marred somewhat with the less beautiful eyes of the demon as he masqueraded as Harry but the images and some of the sensations from the remembered encounter threatened to tighten his boxers with a bit more than regular morning stiffs.
The Dark Lord stretched his new young body delighting in the pops and cracks of his joints. Voldemort made his way to his bathroom, his thoughts really had run away with him a nice soak ought to sort things out. There was a raid today and though he had no immediate plans to reveal himself he did want to join in. He was a Dark Lord after all, he couldn't be sunshine and rainbows all the time.
After he had finished with his bath and dressed,the Dark Lord felt a little bit giddy. Unknown to even his Death Eaters he would be joining them on the raid today. It had been years since he stretched his legs with a bit of mayhem and torture. He feared all his play acting with Harry was costing him his edge. Already dressed in a black robe he placed a white mask over his face; just as the illusion of himself he had cast faded out of view the Dark Lord slipped in amongst his Death Eaters in the back unnoticed.
It was time for the Dark to make its bloody debut. Voldemort grinned wide underneath his white mask and as the single to depart flashed across the high ceiling of his throne room he reveled in the sound of a hundred wizards and witches apparating at once. With a flourish worthy of Dumbledore himself the Dark Lord spun on the spot and disappeared, his low chuckle vanishing with him. The Dark Lord materialized hidden by his white mask and over a hundred of his Death Eaters right in the middle of the Ministry itself.
The purpose of this raid was twofold, there was nothing housed in the Ministry that was of particular interest to Voldemort at this point. He simply wanted Britain to know the Death Eaters were back in action and more importantly invisible recording devices, tracking devices and one very special device of his own creation were being planted all over the Ministry of Magic in the chaos of the ongoing battle. He batted a new Auror out of the way with barely a thought.
The spells flashing through the air were creating a beautiful myriad of colors and screams accompanied the flashes like a perfect lullaby. The Dark Lords eyes slid across the mayhem with unsurpassed satisfaction and pleasure. Something in him was unabashedly drawn to murder and mayhem. His roaming eyes landed on the familiar figure of James Potter battling fiercely with a white masked Death Eater.
He dodged one deadly curse only to end up in the path of another. The following sequence of events happened very quickly; at the moment James stepped into the path of an innards expulsion curse Voldemort raised his wand to nullify the spell. The thing was, that was no easy bit of magic and not many wizards were powerful enough to pull it off. Several Death Eaters paused for the briefest of seconds to take note of the white masked Death Eater. They uniformly thought that someone with such power would be ranked much higher than a recruit but this was battle and they quickly filed the thought away and continued with the fight.
James looked into Voldemort's direction and immediately began to advance, one deadly curse after another leaving his wand. Voldemort was quite impressed with his spell work and more than perturbed by James intuition. He seemed to know exactly who it was he was attacking and he blasted away the people blocking his path like flies. His expression was one of pure determination. His eyes flashed with a glint of steel and he threw out the killing curse, his aim dead on.
Voldemort did not want to give himself away by dissipating into mist, a maneuver James had seen before. He threw himself to the floor and the curse missed him. His mind was preoccupied and for the life of him he could not figure out why he had stopped that Exviscera curse. More accurately he did not want to admit why. Harry's devastated face had flashed before his eyes and he wanted to spare the boy the pain of losing his father so early in life.
Another curse flew towards him and he threw up a shield more powerful than any new Death Eater should have been able to produce. At this rate he would either have to kill James or retreat. James was too skilled to easily take down. The Death Eaters hadn't landed a hit on him except via the Auror's own carelessness, as earlier seen. If he did any more advanced magic too many people would take notice. Voldemort was very tempted to just kill James here and now and be done with it but he had gotten himself into this mess and the man could be useful.
Containment wards were up now that the alarm had been raised and though he could easily rip through them that to would cause suspicion. The Dark Lord created a double of himself and began to move towards the exit. The wards ended at the very edge of the room just as he reached the ward free zone and made his exit, his double was ripped apart by a very nasty curse.
Harry sluggishly made his way to the Great Hall for breakfast. He had done as promised and focused solely on his school work before looking into any more clues he could find about Tom. As a result he had stayed up half the night sneaking around the school trying to find out why Tom had been given that award. He was exhausted and miserable. He had found the award and little else. The green eyed boy nodded to the many greetings he received from his house mates who seemed particularly giddy this morning and took his now customary seat at the head of Slytherin table, Draco already at his right hand side, beaming brightly.
"Why are we all so happy this morning then?" Harry addressed Draco, Blaise and Pansy and anyone else in earshot. The smiles brightened further and a student Harry could not remember the name of a little ways down the table yelled for him to come off it for he surely already knew what had happened.
Draco handed him a copy of the Daily Prophet and Harry's tiredness left him at once. The headline read: Ministry Attacked! Three Killed! Dark Lord Rises? Harry scanned the article frantically but the names of the deceased had not been released. He closed his eyes for a moment and said a small prayer for his father. James was a hero, he had to be alright. The head table was quiet and unlike last time the Prophet had announced the return of the Dark Lord Dumbledore did not address the students.
Dumbledore was looking right at Harry though and he looked away busying himself with readying his breakfast. If his father was one of the deceased then surely someone would tell him right away. The faux heir of Slytherin was not pleased to be under scrutiny, it was making him nervous. Breakfast continued normally but Harry couldn't rid himself of the nervous feeling in his stomach. Surely someone would have told him by now if his Dad was hurt or worse. He didn't know it yet but a chain reaction had been set into motion and trouble was coming his way.
Dumbledore was a careful man and did nothing without purpose. Years ago he had warned the Minister of Magic that Lord Voldemort would return, only to have his warning go unheeded. Now the Ministry itself had been attacked and Fudge, a feeble minded but well-meaning individual, was now asking for his advice again. He sat like a lost child looking back and forth between Dumbledore and James Potter waiting for one or the other to tell him what to do. No greeting was offered so Dumbledore took a seat and nodded sagely to James who likewise seemed unimpressed with the Minister's behaviour. Of the three men James was the first to speak.
"He was here today, mixed in with his Death Eaters, he stopped a curse that would have killed me."
Fudge showed no reaction and to his credit Dumbledore simply raised his eyebrows and muttered a quiet 'indeed.' He was, simply put, stumped at this news. He could think of no reason for Voldemort to save the man that had supposedly vanquished him. He and James and most likely Voldemort himself knew that that wasn't the case. James hadn't killed the Dark Lord. It was still unclear who had but why would he save him? The Headmaster of Hogwarts put it to the back of his mind to ponder later and focused his attention on poor frazzled Fudge. "Minister we can no longer sit idly by while this violence continues. The Dark Lord has returned and we must band together to stop him or face destruction much worse than what we have seen today."
The portly man dabbed at his damp forehead with a handkerchief and nodded twice looking no less lost then before. "Yes, yes quite right Dumbledore we must gather our forces and find him before this gets out of hand. Yes we must arm ourselves."
The Minister's voice held very little conviction. This was not a man who was cut out for war. He was simply very genial and well-liked by the public.
James on the other hand looked serious and looked away from the Minister to Dumbledore. Clearly the young man had something much more important to say. "He was here today Dumbledore as I said. I tried to apprehend him but he cast a double and escaped. Whatever he's done to resurrect himself mustn't be complete. I think he's weak and if we find his base now we have a chance to destroy him."
Dumbledore considered the information but James was mistaken. The Dark Lord was not weakened he was stronger than ever. Dumbledore highly suspected that Tom had been working in silence for many years, whispers had reached him but he could not locate Tom, try as he might. Tom could not be killed simply though preparations had to be made. "James, I appreciate your fighting spirit but we must take things in order. One cannot simply charge in with an army and hope to kill the Dark Lord. Whatever his plans are, they are years in the making and if we hope to win we must plan just as carefully. There are things we need to understand if we hope to stop him. James, can you tell me again what happened the night he was vanquished?"
The Auror nodded and took a sip of fire whiskey, His hand gripping the glass was trembling ever so slightly. "I saw him through the window of our cottage, Lily was upstairs asleep and Harry was asleep on my lap. He came in. We dueled. He fired a killing curse at me and I came to moments later, All that was left was robes and his wand. He screamed something before I blacked out but I don't remember what it was. Harry had hit his head and Lily woke and we were taken to the hospital."
Dumbledore nodded and looked to Fudge who looked like he had swallowed one of his lemon drops by mistake. He fussed with his handkerchief and dabbed at his forehead in vain. The Minister was now sweating profusely. He opened his mouth to speak, stammered for a moment before he came out with; "But surely you killed him James! That can't be how it happened."
James simply shook his head and Fudge, looking desperate now, turned to Dumbledore, eyes imploring him to say something wise and clever and smooth this all over. They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Sirius came in looking grave. He nodded to each of them in turn. "Frank Longbottom, Alfred Alistair, and Adolf Basil were killed in the attack."
James hands shook a little more and he closed his eyes tightly sucking in a breath. Dumbledore spared the room a sad look but this was war. Unfortunately Frank's death would only be the first of many. The Headmaster stood up and let his eyes sweep over each occupant of the room. "James, Sirius it is time that we recall the Order of the Phoenix, The Dark Lord Voldemort has returned."
Neville woke up that morning feeling a little less timid than usual. He had been nervous about starting school but he had made a good friend in Ron. He hadn't meant to snub Harry but Ron told him all Slytherin's were no good even if they were the Son of the Vanquisher. Harry didn't seem any different but never the less, the two once close friends had drifted apart. It didn't help that most of the students whispered about Harry being the Heir of Slytherin.
Personally Neville didn't believe it but it was hard to deny Harry's prince status. The other Slytherin's seemed to wait on him hand and foot. He shook Ron awake. The red head groaned and grumbled for a bit before getting up. The two boys then made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. When he entered the hall he felt the tense atmosphere. No sooner had he and Ron taken their seats than the other students all started talking at once each wanting to be the first to break a juicy bit gossip to the ignorant.
Neville felt his heart leap when he learned that the Ministry had been attacked yesterday. He hoped his father was alright. At that moment Harry walked in and Ron immediately sneered. "I bet that ponce knows what's going on. He's in with the Dark Lord."
"Do you reckon he is? I mean his father killed the Dark Lord."
Ron snorted, "Oh come off it Seamus! He's a Slytherin! Look at them. They worship him. He's evil."
Neville silently disagreed. He had known Harry since he was a baby. It was unusual that he was a Slytherin but that didn't automatically make him evil. Ron had a bit of problem with Harry though he had to listen to the 'Harry Potter is Evil' speech every morning since the first day of school. Before he could start with his breakfast Professor McGonagall came over and patted him on the shoulder. The usually stern looking Professor looked at him a little sadly and he felt his stomach begin to twist up.
"Mr. Longbottom, Headmaster Dumbledore would like to see you in his office."
The nervous young Gryffindor wrung his hands together and followed his head of house up to the Headmaster's office. On the way up the long spiraling staircase he wondered what he could have done wrong. Once there, Professor McGonagall patted him on the shoulder, nodded to Dumbledore and turned to leave.
"Mr. Longbottom, have a seat."
Neville did as he was told feeling his nerves worsen by the second. He nodded to the Headmaster, not trusting himself to speak without squeaking at the moment.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news for you Mr. Longbottom. As you most certainly know by now the Ministry of Magic was attacked yesterday. Unfortunately your father was killed during the attack. Your mother will be coming to collect you this afternoon. I, of course, understand if you do not want to attend to classes today. I am very sorry for your loss Mr. Longbottom."
Neville did not hear what came after 'your father was killed during the attack.' There was an odd ringing in his ears and a vague sense that he had left his body and was floating somewhere above. He remembered his father's smiling face as he saw him off on the train to Hogwarts. He mumbled something that must have been a thank you and excused himself from the Headmaster's office.
He walked into the traffic of students making their way to class. He made it down two flights of stairs and heard a familiar voice that seemed to wake him back up to himself. Harry and Malfoy were ahead of him with some other Slytherin's around them laughing at something or other. Harry smiled a bit at whatever Malfoy said and Neville found himself walking over to Harry, no intent yet clear in his mind but he was furious.
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU'RE IN WITH YOU-KNOW-WHO! HE KILLED MY FATHER, YOU EVIL, SLIMLY STUPID SNAKE!"
Neville was not in his right mind he simply needed someone to blame and Harry who had been his friend but was now clearly on the side of the Dark was an easy target. The angry boy got right up in Harry's face. Unconsciously, Neville pulled out his wand not sure what he intended to with it but then felt a tiny prick followed by coldness. He could not remember lying down but he was staring at the ceiling. Then the feeling that he was floating out of his body came back and he went up. Up and away.
Neville smiled. It was peaceful up here. Serene.
Harry listened absentmindedly to Draco's prattle as they made their way to class. He was still preoccupied with the attack on the Ministry. He was fairly certain his father was fine but he wanted to go to his room and write him a letter as quickly as possible. He squirmed feeling Viper wrapped around him, hidden underneath his robes shift a bit. The snake had insisted he be with Harry today but Harry was soon going to wish he hadn't agreed to take him along.
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU'RE IN WITH YOU-KNOW-WHO! HE KILLED MY FATHER, YOU EVIL, SLIMLY STUPID SNAKE!"
Harry turned around to see a fuming Neville charging towards him. He had barely registered what was happening before Neville pulled his wand on him. Like lighting Viper's head shot out his sleeve and retracted just as quickly. Neville gasped and fell backwards before quickly beginning to turn blue. Harry stared in horror as Neville eyes became vacant and his chest stopped rising and falling. He felt someone tugging on his sleeve. He looked to Draco who had turned completely white and opened his mouth only to have no sound come out.
"Harry, we have to get out of here! Come on!"
Harry allowed himself to be pulled all the way to the dungeons. He wretched and then vomited his breakfast. His mind was frantic he was trying to process what had just happened but his mind felt jammed. Neville, Uncle Frank, Neville, Uncle Frank, Neville, Uncle Frank.
The common room filled up with students none of them smirking or smiling. Death was not something they had seen before. Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom! Harry needed Tom right now! Something had gone horribly wrong and Tom was the most powerful wizard he knew. He could fix this. He could make this right.
He continued to call to Tom with all his soul hoping he would somehow hear him. A light flashed somewhere off in the right field of his vision and many students gasped. It was Tom! He could make this right. Harry ran over to him on shaky feet speaking gibberish and crying. Viper had bit Neville surely Tom had some type of antidote.
Voldemort let his gaze sweep over his gathered Death Eaters. They were very drunk now after a full night of celebration. He wanted to say a few words and send them on their merry way. He was in a splendid mood and quite drunk himself. He spread his arms wide and even permitted the few stray cheers from the crowd.
He smiled, letting his eyes sweep over his army again. "My friends, we have secured many victories over the past few months and yesterday we secured one more. The Ministry of Magic is within our grasp and soon will be ours!"
The Dark Lord paused here letting the excitement build. This was the type of atmosphere that could only be felt during a revolution. He soaked it in letting himself become swept away by the feeling as well. He thrust his fist into the air and continued. "WE ARE THE POWERFUL! WE ARE THE RIGHTFUL RULERS OF THIS WORLD! WE WILL TAKE OUR PLACE! WE WILL WALK PROUDLY IN THE OPEN! MAGIC IS MIGHT!"
The crowd erupted into loud cheers and many shot colorful sparks into the air with their wands. Voldemort pointed his wand to the ceiling. "MORSMORDE!"
The Dark Mark filled the ceiling and the cheers reached a fever pitch. That was what first made it difficult to distinguish between the screaming in his head and the screaming outside of it.
Harry was calling to him frantically and he felt a tug each time. It was beyond his control to stop it and he was forced to apparate. He looked around at the familiar colors of the Slytherin common room in vague wonder. He was astonished that Harry had been able to force him through the anti-apparation wards. The young boy must have been very held up his hand to silence some of the older students that were about to speak. Harry rushed over to him crying and stammering something about an antidote.
This was not good. His physical presence in the castle was sure to set off the wards and alert Dumbledore. He needed to sort this out quickly. He crouched, hissing softly to soothe Harry. It worked somewhat but the boy continued sobbing."Harry you must calm down and tell me what has happened so I can help you."
The young boy continued to cry but he calmed down enough to speak. "Viper bit Neville and he's dead. Uncle Frank is dead. Voldemort attacked the Ministry."
Now the antidote bit made sense but there was no antidote for Neville. The Dark Lord stood up and beckoned the Malfoy heir to him.
"Where is Harry's room?"
He steered Harry to his room, pumping calming magic into his body. With a simple spell he gathered all of Harry's belongings and took a secret tunnel meant for the Heir out of the school and past the wards. He hugged Harry to him and apparated away. Their destination was not Malfoy Manor but a new property he had recently acquired. The child's green eyes were glazed over as the boy was still in shock. He placed him gently in bed and soothed him to sleep with a gentle spell. He was beyond jubilant now. Harry was with him at last! He could not have hoped for a better turn of events.
Dumbledore felt a twinge of sadness as he watched the bewildered boy excuse himself. Neville had come close to never knowing his father at all. Frank had nearly been killed in the first war but thanks to the quick action of Sirius he had been saved, only to die another day in the same war. The Headmaster steepled his fingers under his chin and surveyed Fawkes. The legendary bird was at the end of its life again and molting rapidly. He sighed tiredly, he had lived through many wars but death never got easy. He heaved another sigh and got to is feet, he had business to attend to as usual. The moment he went to open the drawer he concealed his pensive in Minerva came in looking flustered and red in the face.
"Albus, Neville has been killed!"
For once Dumbledore had to stop a moment to register what he had been told. A student had been killed? Indeed he could hear the distant noises of panicked and distressed children. He gestured for Minerva to lead the way and was astonished to see the boy lying stiff on the ground on the first floor of the castle near the Great Hall. He was indeed dead, his lips already turning blue. As he lent down to inspect the body, the Headmaster was assaulted by the static shock of the wards. For the second time in moments Dumbledore was stunned.
Tom was in the castle! He spared the poor boy one last look and asked Minerva to take care of things before quickening his stride as he made his way towards the dungeons. Why would he possibly come here? How had he come here?
Dumbledore tried in vain to put it all together as he rushed through the castle. The Slytherin students were gathered in their common room when he arrived a few short minutes later. They all looked a little green around the gills. The Dark Lord was still in the castle but he had left the dungeons. The Malfoy boy was standing down the hall in front of his room. Dumbledore spared the pale boy a look and strode in. Harry and all of his things were gone. One student dead, one student kidnapped by the Dark Lord! This day was not going well.
As the Headmaster turned to leave the half empty room, an announcement floated through the halls for all students to return to their dormitories at once. The poor boy had been moved by the time Dumbledore made it back up to the first floor. He closed his eyes tiredly for a moment.
Unknown to her one mother was coming to collect her now deceased son and another mother would soon be receiving word that her son had been taken by the Dark Lord.
"What do you mean Harry has been taken? How could this have happened?"
The sound of James fist coming down hard on the desk of the Minister broke the silence that followed his question. Lily's eyes were blank and silent tears ran down her cheeks as one hand clutched almost violently at her pregnant belly. James felt his body vibrating he was on the verge of collapse. Should he have asked more questions? Should he have brought the connection of his son's and the Dark Lord's wand to light? Should he have pressured Lily for more concrete answers?
Harry's wide innocent eyes flashed before his vision and he saw those eyes opening for the first time as they looked up at the world. He had sworn to protect him, the moment he held his son in his arms his love was sealed. He trained harder, fought faster, killed without restraint - all to protect his son.
He had failed.
He had failed as a father. He had failed as a man. He had failed as a wizard.
James, The Vanquisher of the Dark Lord crumbled to the floor sobbing for all that had gone wrong. Had he ever had a chance to stop this? Had he failed to see it coming? No!
Voldemort would pay. He would pay with his life. He would wither and burn and scream and beg for death by the time James was done with him.
He vowed it on his son and on his magic. He would become The Vanquisher at last. The man who got up from the floor of the Minister's office was no longer James Potter. His eyes once full of only a deep strength and love were consumed with vengeance. He gently helped his wife up from her seat and saw to it that she arrived home safely. Sirius clapped him on the shoulder and pulled him into a hug. He offered no condolences, he held the same vow in his heart; Voldemort would burn in flames hotter than hell for what he had done.
True hatred had been born in their hearts today.
Alice Longbottom held the Medal of Valor she had received in place of the safe return of her husband. He had urged her to retire and stay home to raise their son. Her wand was faster than Frank's, would she have been able to protect him? She had foresworn her last chance to be with her husband because she was tired. She hadn't done more than wave from her spot in their bed when he left for work that morning. She held in the pain rising up in her like a tidal wave. She had to keep it together for her son. She would not fail to protect him.
The following day the new widow apparated to Hogsmeade. She had arranged with Dumbledore to pick up her son and take him home. She didn't think much of the pitying looks Professor McGonagall sent her way when she arrived nor was she alarmed to be lead to the infirmary. Neville was most likely very upset and in need of a calming draught. Dumbledore was waiting for their arrival speaking in low whispers with Poppy. He smiled gently at Alice and took her hand gently in his own. "Alice, I'm so very sorry there was a terrible accident this morning. We tried to revive Neville but nothing could be done."
Alice nodded she knew that already the Ministry worker had told her. Frank had been hit by a curse at the top of a flight of stairs he had fallen badly and broken his neck. They tried to save him but failed. She nodded and smiled gently at Dumbledore. Now was the time to be strong. For her son she could not dissolve in despair. "I know Frank was a brave man. He was always ready to die for what he believed in."
Poppy sucked in a sharp breath and tried to hide a sob. She took the place of Dumbledore, holding her hands gently in her own. She looked into her eyes and looked away choking up again.
"No dear, not Frank. Neville had an accident this morning. We could not save him."
The sound of rapidly rushing water made it quite difficult for Alice to hear what Poppy was saying. She lifted a hand to her ear trying to block out the sound of rushing water. She smiled a bit pityingly at Poppy perhaps she was confused. "No Poppy, not Neville, it was Frank that died yesterday during the attack."
Poppy let go of her hands crying freely now. "Where is Neville? He must be terribly upset. I need to take him home. He needs to be with his family."
Dumbledore took her hand again and lead her to a bed all the way at the end with its curtains fully drawn. He pulled back the curtain and Alice smiled.
There was her boy. He had fallen asleep. They had given him a calming draught. She walked over to him and reached out her hand to brush his hair away from his forehead. She stopped shocked for a moment that his skin felt so cold. The water was still rushing in her ears becoming louder by the second. "Neville, sweetheart wake up! Mummy's here."
Alice could not understand why Neville was not moving. She shook him and his blue lips parted just a fraction. This school was a mad place, some student was screaming nonstop at the top of her voice. Why wouldn't anyone tell her to be quiet? Didn't she know this was an infirmary?
She tried to lift Neville up to get him to wake but his body was stiff and would not bend at all. She turned him and he toppled out of the bed and into her lap. He was a big boy and she couldn't really lift him up anymore. "Neville we have to go home. Wake up sweetie, we have to go home. Neville? Sweetie come on! I know you're tired but you have to wake up now. Mummy can't carry you sweetie, you're much too big for that now. Come on sweetie, we need to leave."
The screaming started up again once she stopped speaking she looked around. "Won't someone stop that girl screaming? Where is she? Can't you tell her to be quiet? NEVILLE STOP THIS NOW! WAKE UP WE NEED TO GO HOME! WILL ONE OF YOU STOP THAT GIRL FROM SCREAMING? What calming draught did you give him Poppy? Why won't he wake up?"
She continued to shake Neville feeling his cold dead weight numbing her legs. She cradled his head in her arms and pressed her warm cheek to his cold one. She was rocking back and forth now and water was pouring over her face rapidly, why would it be raining in a school? Hogwarts had really gone to shit. She had to get Neville home.
He needed to wake up.
Dumbledore could not stop a few tears from escaping at the heartbreaking scene.
Poppy was at her desk sobbing and Minerva was wiping furiously at her eyes.
Alice continued to implore Neville to wake up, sobbing loudly and running her fingers through his hair. The grieving woman rocked back and forth clutching her dead son to her chest. She began attempting to get up with the boy but the dead weight was too much for her and she collapsed back to the floor each time.
Eventually Dumbledore could take no more and cast a sleeping spell on Alice. He floated Neville's body back to the bed. He used the same spell to levitate Alice to another. In the end Augusta Longbottom had to come and collect her daughter-in-law and arrange to move her dead grandson.
Alice was admitted to St. Mungo's mad with grief.
Late that night, Dumbledore sat tiredly at his desk pouring himself a stiff drink and as he raised his glass to salute the power of the grim reaper Fawkes burst into flames becoming ashes.
Once they arrived Voldemort quickly set about getting Harry into a bed so he could rest comfortably and when the child was settled a snake made itself visible slinking its way out of Harry's sleeve. The Dark Lord beckoned the young basilisk over. Viper had grown.
"Viper, why did you kill the boy?"
"Master, you told me to protect Harry. The boy was about to attack"
"Do you know why?"
"No master, I do not."
Sensing its dismissal the young snake made its way off the bed and set off to explore its new surroundings. Voldemort looked over to the sleeping child not believing his good fortune. He had set up such an elaborate plan to get Harry to him but the gods had seen fit for the child to land his lap.
He chuckled a bit to himself before feeling a slight tug from one his Death Eaters. Lucius was calling him. He left Harry's room and made his way to his private study and summoned Lucius to his side. The platinum blond bowed deep before addressing him. "My Lord, you departure was unexpected. Is all well?"
The Dark Lord smiled and filled Lucius in. The proud man left a few moments later with his face spilt in two from the wideness of his grin. Voldemort made his way back to his charges room and watched Harry's small chest rise and fall for a moment. The child was stirring just about ready to wake up. Bleary green eyes landed on him and a moment later his arms were full of a sobbing eleven year old. He hissed sweet, soothing nothings and gradually the sobbing died down and Harry pulled away from him. "Where are we?"
"Our home. I never dreamed you would be here so soon and under such unfortunate circumstances."
The child nodded and looked around, still clearly tired and bewildered. His eyes filled with tears again but he balled his small hands into fists and held them back. He looked to Voldemort with anguished eyes and the Dark Lord pulled him close again, it was time to seal the deal. "You'll be safe here Harry. I won't let anyone take you. My team is already working on clearing your name. I know you didn't kill Neville."
The child gasped and looked up at him with wide pain filled eyes, he shook his head violently form side to side. "I didn't! It was Viper. Neville pulled out his wand and Viper a-a-ata-cked."
Harry's small shoulders began to shake with sobs again and Voldemort soothed the child rocking him gently and running his fingers through his hair. "Of course Harry. I know you didn't do it but Dumbledore thinks you did. You'll be safe here with me. Hush now I'll make it right."
The child clung to him desperately and Voldemort looked out the wide panoramic window, a chilling smile stuck on his face. The Dark Lord was not sure he would ever be able to stop smiling. He was close to laughing his head off.
Checkmate Dumbledore, what will you do now?
Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait I've been having some personal problems but have not forgotten this story. Hopefully you enjoyed this chapter don't forget to review :) Thanks to my beta!