Summary: Kidnapped as a baby, Harry Potter is raised oblivious under Dagnar Lystad, a powerful politician in Norway. After a family tragedy, Harry is forced into the world of politics at a young age. Surrounded by constant deceit and betrayal, and the struggle to prove his worth, he finds an unlikely pillar in the Dark Lord of Britain. Together, they play games of their own with their own set of rules. But Harry soon realizes even the Dark Lord keeps destructive secrets. SLASH LV/HP.

Warnings (Voldemort looks like Voldemort.) This is bound to have similar aspects as 'Death of Today' (never, ever to be compared to it, just *aspects*). If that bothers you, please make a hurried exit. Also, there is light slash (dark in nature, but still not overwhelming on the hot-n-steamy bits). If you're reading this for the romance/smut, again, I would suggest picking up another story to read.

Disclaimer I own nothing but my imagination *sniff* and even that's limited nowadays. If I'm not mistaken, 'Aksel' is a form of 'Axel' and pronounced 'Ax-sel'. The 'a' in Askel sounds like the 'a' in father. You can Google 'how to pronounce Aksel' and they have a small audio of it.

Important Note!: This story was on my other account. I know I am biting off more than I can chew (having more than a few stories to finish and complete) but I'm still experiencing a writer's block and it's frustrating me. I'm just writing where my muse is, and I've been thinking of this story for a while.

Chapter One

"I heard he has a face like a bloody snake," Mons exclaimed with enough drama that would rival a pack of gossiping witches.

Aksel leaned against the wall, surveying the group of Durmstrang students with a critical eye. They were getting too rowdy and his father would not like it. It was understandable to be excited over Norway's newest guest, but their tongues were getting a bit too sharp and loose. Insulting a powerful Dark Lord while the man was in the room was far from smart. Even if his father tended to curse Britain's Dark Lord, he was smart enough to do it behind closed doors.

Moreover, Aksel's father could take care of himself against the Dark Lord, whereas Mons and the rest of the Durmstrang students would be lucky enough to lift a finger against the powerful Brit.

Pale green eyes turned towards the Dark Lord, who stood motionlessly across the room. Aksel had never sensed magic from another wizard before. In textbooks, they claimed that wizards could not feel each other's auras unless there was one powerful enough to naturally exude magic. Aksel always believed his father was one of the most powerful men in Norway, and perhaps he was, but without a doubt, Lord Voldemort was the most powerful wizard in all of Europe.

Aksel could claim the Dark Lord the most powerful wizard in the world, but that would be naive. He had never traveled outside of the Scandinavian region. He couldn't make such claims until he encountered every wizard across the globe. Though truthfully, it was difficult to imagine someone harboring more power than the cloaked figure across the room.

The magic around the Dark Lord wasn't like basking in warmth, no; it was the polar opposite. The magic was cold, frightening, but to Aksel, it was also alluring—almost familiar.

To add to the man's frigid façade and ice-like magic, Aksel also heard rumors that Lord Voldemort was insane.

His father, Dagnar Lystad, was a very prominent politician. To Norwegians, he was the pure-blood royalty. He didn't hold a top rank in the Norwegian's Ministry, but he had money, power, and allies from all over the Scandinavian region. In Norway and in her neighboring allies, the Ministry was only an entity that passed laws and regulations. The pure-blood royalty were the individuals who ran the country, Dagnar in particular.

His father also believed in the Dark Arts and he excelled in them. He also supported pure-blood rights with a frenzy. All those reasons and more were most likely why Lord Voldemort sought Dagnar out.

Even if Dagnar and Voldemort had parallel goals and similar power dynasties, the former man disliked the Dark Lord considerably. Dagnar believed the Dark Lord was, in short, an insane bastard who killed in cold blood. He also believed Voldemort was too far gone and wouldn't know how to run an ordered society properly. If Europe ever came under the Dark Lord's power, Dagnar claimed the world would self-destruct in chaos.

To Aksel, Voldemort possessed brilliant insanity. The world would be in organized chaos rather than the total chaos Dagnar claimed it would be. Now that he stood in the same room as the Dark Lord, Aksel briefly wondered if his father was merely jealous of Voldemort's sheer and overwhelming power.

Despite his contempt for Voldemort, Dagnar had accepted the Dark Lord's invitation to meet, but under his terms. The Dark Lord had to travel to Norway, and more specifically, to the Lystad Manor. Only one companion was allowed with the Dark Lord. Aksel thought his father was rather bold in his demands, but surprisingly enough, Voldemort had accepted anyway. It appeared as if the Dark Lord wanted to form an alliance. Perhaps desperately. Or perhaps there was another motive underneath it all.

With Voldemort's presence, Dagnar hoped to accomplish the impossible: a chance to kill the Dark Lord, a chance many wizards could only orchestra in their daydreams. Killing Lord Voldemort would bring Dagnar into another caliber, a caliber of wizards, particularly Brits, who would respect and adhere.

Aksel thought it was a goal that wouldn't come to pass and only end up in disaster. The Dark Lord just regained his body not too long ago. He wouldn't be so foolish to open himself up to an attack, no matter if he wasn't back to his full strength just yet.

Sixteen years ago, Harry Potter had defeated the Dark Lord at the mere age of one, destroying the man's body. The world thought he was forever gone and they were shocked into silence when the man announced his presence once again—after thirteen years of silence. Aksel knew the Dark Lord was staying under the radar for the most part, but he was also gathering as many allies as he could.


He blinked, looking to his father who was ushering him from across the room.

Pushing off from the wall, he gracefully approached his father and the two men standing before him. For the life of him, Aksel tried to keep his knees from shaking and appearing like an idiot. An invisible string coiled tightly across his chest and pulled him into the Dark Lord's merciless orbit. The closer Aksel orbited near the Dark Wizard, the dizzier he became.

Power like this was… abnormal. History claimed that Lord Voldemort was the most dangerous wizard of all time, having pushed the very limits of magic. Standing in the man's proximity, Aksel could only shake his head at those simple terms. It was so much more; he was so much more. Experiencing it all, experiencing the fear, the cold, the power, it was nothing compared to the flat words in a newly printed history book.

While not cloaked in the finery of his blond companion, the Dark Lord was still more noticeable. He towered over his neighboring wizard with a simple black robe hanging off his tall and thin frame. A heavy and deep hood covered his features, revealing nothing but a white jaw and thin, almost nonexistent lips. The man could look like a bloody snake all he wanted when he had that level of power.

Underneath the feelings of awe and fear, Aksel noticed the slight burn between his eyes the closer he neared the trio of wizards. It felt like a migraine in its concentration, but it came in infrequent waves and he could ignore it enough to appear unbothered. Though, it was a familiar feeling to him, as it has been the past two years. Frequently at night, after odd nightmares and dreams, he would wake up with his forehead aflame.

As Aksel came to a stop next to his father, he clasped his hands behind his back and faced the two men impassively.

"Aksel, I'd like for you to meet our guests, Lord Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy," Dagnar murmured softly. "This is my son, Aksel."

His grew hyperaware of the eyes settled on him, so much so that his skin prickled both unpleasantly and giddily at the attention. With a quickening pulse, Aksel bowed stiffly in greeting. "It— it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," he welcomed, cringing when he realized he had actually stuttered. When was the last time he had stuttered? It had to be years ago, when he was a young boy accompanying his father on a political call.

As he straightened, he forced his eyes on the man next to the Dark Lord, hoping to use the blond as a source of distraction. He was aware of the Malfoys. They were a notorious family in Britain with quite a bit of power over their Ministry, but certainly not enough influence as Aksel's family had in the Norwegian Ministry.

Lucius Malfoy had a shocking shade of blond hair and robes so rich, Aksel thought he might dirty them just by breathing.

"Pleasure," Lucius drawled, sounding exceptionally bored. His silver eyes then ran the length of Aksel, immediately taking on an interested shimmer. Next to the blond, the tall form of the Dark Lord cocked his head slightly in greeting, but otherwise remained silent.

"Your classmates are growing far too raucous, Aksel," Dagnar scolded unhappily. His dark eyes surveyed the Durmstrang students from over Aksel's head. The man's posture clearly spoke of his displeasure at such a spectacle in his hall.

Aksel remained facing the two guests, not in the least bit worried at his father's tone. His father really was a cruel bastard. A few backhands during his childhood should have made Aksel frightened of his father, or at least leery, but it had only made him more stubborn. His father wasn't known for his patience as he handed out scathing insults just as frequent as backhands, but Aksel had learned to take them with a grain of salt.

"I'm afraid I told the house elves not to serve liquor tonight, father, but they insisted," Aksel murmured disapprovingly. "Young wizards will jump at a chance to drink without immediate supervision."

With the amount of liquor being passed hand to hand, Aksel mused if the three wizards had heard Mons' exclamation that the Dark Lord had a snake-like face. Aksel braved himself and slyly looked at the Dark Lord, unable to see any sign of the man's features.

The Dark Lord's lips twisted at Aksel's observation and the younger wizard turned away quickly. His belly twisted at the man's unwavering attention. Voldemort's scrutiny had not strayed from Askel ever since his arrival next to his father. What could the Dark Lord possibly find interesting in Aksel? He was nothing compared to the Dark Lord's overwhelming and domineering person. Surely the Dark Lord viewed young adults as sniveling brats?

"I will go speak to them," Dagnar began. The man placed a heavy hand on his son's shoulder, causing Aksel's knees to almost buckle. "Please show both Lord Voldemort and Mr. Malfoy to their rooms. They can get situated before dinner beings."

Aksel inclined his head, desperately trying to reign in his composure and confidence. "Yes, father," he murmured.

He watched as Dagnar bowed at the two wizards before sweeping off toward the Durmstrang students. Aksel stood for a moment longer, watching in amusement as the students caught sight of Dagnar's advancing form and skittered. Mons thrust his cup behind him, placing a poorly-crafted mask on his face. Aksel hadn't seen the boy look so young and vulnerable since their first year at Durmstrang together.

Green eyes snapped to the two men in front of him, grinning all the while. "If you'll please follow me…"

He turned with a flourish of robes and led them across the sleek marbled floor. Dagnar had decided to arrange a welcoming ball for the Dark Lord of Britain. Rather ironic, really, considering he was planning the man's demise. Aksel didn't know his father's plans in regards to the Dark Lord, as Dagnar wasn't known for giving too much information to his son. All he knew was which rooms to assign the Dark Lord and his companion.

He also knew his father was an idiot for thinking he could even lead the Dark Lord into trouble, let alone kill him.

"You attend Durmstrang Institute, correct?" the cultured voice of Lucius Malfoy spoke behind Aksel.

The young wizard glanced at the two wizards behind him, taking care to keep his eyes on the blond and not the overwhelmingly tall figure of the Dark Lord. "I do," Aksel confirmed softly.

"And what year are you?" Lucius continued questioning.

"This coming year will be my last," Aksel replied lightly as he brought the two wizards around a sharp corner. He wondered at the blond-man's sudden interest in him. While Aksel was a private individual, he didn't mind humoring Mr. Malfoy with answers. It would make the trip to their quarters a lot less strained. Besides, a conversation would divert his attention away from the pensive stare he could feel coming from the silent, brooding Dark Lord.

"I have a son your age," Lucius continued airily. "I considered sending him to Durmstrang but his mother wanted him closer to home."

Aksel offered a thin smile as he looked over his shoulder again. "I suppose you wanted your son to attend Durmstrang for the tutorage of Dark Arts, yes?" At Lucius' tight nod, Aksel turned back around and continued down the corridor. "Then you are lucky you saved a pretty penny by sending him to Hogwarts. Unless, of course, you decided to send him to Beauxbatons?"

An ugly expression twisted Lucius' face. "Hogwarts," the man confirmed. "Why would you assume—"

"Because Durmstrang likes to boast to the foreigners that they teach the Dark Arts," Aksel drawled. "They, however, do not." At Lucius' noise of refusal, Aksel continued smoothly. "Oh yes, they do teach a brief lesson to the students, but that is only for the advanced Seventh Years. And even then, the Dark Arts they teach are the Unforgivables, something I can easily find in a textbook."

Aksel had heard it all in Durmstrang. The elder students had complained about the lack of spells they were taught, the lack of rituals, runes, and other branches of Dark Magic. Aksel had been disappointed, simply because the Dark Arts had always drawn him in.

"Do you wish to become acquainted with the Darker aspects of magic?"

Aksel faltered when he heard the Dark Lord speak for the first time. It was a raspy, almost husky-sort of whisper. It cooled his blood and sent goose bumps scattering across his skin. He closed his eyes at the man's voice, finding himself hyper-aware of everything Lord Voldemort did.

"Yes, very much so," Aksel divulged.

"Your father," the Dark Lord continued in a raspy hiss. "Isn't he capable of assisting you in that art?"

Aksel paused in front of a strong oak door and turned to his two accompanies. A bitter grin stretched his lips as he looked at the cloaked figure of the Dark Lord. The corridor they were standing in was dark, but it seemed to grow darker where Voldemort stood. Nonetheless, he found the courage to speak.

"My father claims my magic is not dark enough to engage in the Dark Arts. He considers me a Light wizard."

The hooded head of Voldemort bowed and a hissing-like chuckle escaped his lips. Next to him, Lucius Malfoy's eyes widened a fraction as he stared openly at his Lord. Dismissing his servant's open surprise, Voldemort looked back up at Aksel, his thin lips twisted into a dangerous smile. "You are far from that, child. You reek of the Dark. And dare I say it? I can even see shards of your soul that mirror my own."

Aksel's belly turned hot at the confession. Surely that man was jesting and leading Aksel along?

"Be that as it may, Dagnar won't teach me the Dark Arts. I plan on teaching myself through textbooks." As he reached for the door handle, Voldemort gave a dark tsk. Nevertheless, the Dark Lord remained silent on the topic and Aksel pushed the door open. Glancing at Lucius, the younger wizard motioned inside. "Hopefully this will suit you," he drawled, giving a pointed look at the man's lace and pristine robes. "I'm afraid the chambers with the gold-plated floors and ceilings are in the process of being remodeled."

Malfoy's nose turned upward and he stayed stubbornly outside his rooms. At first, Aksel believed the man already saw something he didn't appreciate inside his quarters.

"I appreciate you showing me my rooms; however, I will stay with my Lord until dinner begins."

Voldemort waved a dismissal hand. "That will not be necessary, Lucius."

It was all that was needed between the two. Aksel watched in mild amusement as Lucius entered his rooms, his back stiff and his expression drawn sourly. Apparently, Malfoy's protection was not needed, though Aksel couldn't imagine why not. Voldemort couldn't be so stupid to believe he was safe here, in enemy's territory.

Once Malfoy's door closed, Aksel motioned to the door opposite of Lucius' rooms. "Those will be your chambers, My Lord. You may call for Lenny, your House-elf, if you require assistance." He turned toward the man, unsettled at the Dark Lord sudden proximity.

"Would your friends miss your company if I asked you to entertain me until dinner?" A lipless smirk curled the man's mouth as he looked down at Aksel.

His pulse skipped a beat at the request, or subtle demand. Gripping his hands together behind his back, Aksel remained blasé in face of the man's scrutiny. "My father likes to tell me that I'm not a very good conversationalist. Surely Mr. Malfoy would be a better—"

"Your company will have to make do," Voldemort decided, walking past his assigned rooms and a motionless Aksel. "The gardens. Take me to them."

Aksel pursed his lips, his eyes flashing at the abrasive demand. "You mean follow you to the gardens?" he rebutted. "It looks like you already know the way, My Lord."

Voldemort turned, the shadows clinging to him protectively. "Whichever terminology you prefer, Mr. Lystad, I require your company at the gardens." Without another word, the man turned and walked from the hallway. There was nothing ungraceful about the way he moved. Just like a serpent, he moved with such fluidity that it could hardly be called 'walking'.

Aksel followed with his own sharp grace, refusing to sulk behind the man. He was used to domineering figures throughout his childhood and he knew how to deal with them accordingly. Yet, he also knew that the figures raising him would never harm him severely, whereas the Dark Lord would have no qualms about killing him. There was no reason to take the Dark Lord's haughtiness personally, but Aksel would also have to watch his own tongue in the presence of this man.

Silence stretched between them as they made their way through the manor. The further they traveled, the more uneasy Aksel became. Voldemort was still leading and he was leading efficiently. There were no hallways the man had to backtrack or turn around in. It was if… as if the man had the layout of the manor already memorized.

"The gardens are out back, Lord Voldemort…" Aksel trailed off as they turned down a corridor that brought them away from the back entrance.

Voldemort hardly paused at Aksel's uncertainty. "I want to see the gardens you enjoy visiting, child."

Aksel remained motionless as the man's words registered. The Dark Lord was walking toward the second-floor gardens, a room only Aksel and his mother visited. Only the Lystad family knew of those gardens and the employees who worked here.

"Come now," Voldemort reprimanded from a distance. "You didn't think I would walk into an enemy's territory so blindly, did you?"

Actually, he had. Aksel felt his face flush as he followed stiffly behind the cloaked figure. He didn't know what bothered him more; the fact that the British Dark Lord was able to get inside information on their family or that he had underestimated Voldemort just as his father had.

With new eyes, Aksel treaded softly, assessing the Dark Lord from beneath lowered lids. If Voldemort had thought so far ahead by scooping out the Lystad Manor, what else had the man schemed? Surely the Dark Lord hadn't left Britain without his army and with Lucius Malfoy as his sole source of backup. That thought only brought up more questions. What were Voldemort's true intentions coming here? Was it only to court Dagnar Lystad over to his cause? Or…

His thoughts tapered off as Voldemort pushed open a marble door. Reluctantly, Aksel followed, not finding the sound of rushing water as peaceful as he usually did.

"What pleases you so much about this place?" the Dark Lord murmured in question as he walked arrogantly across the glass bridge. The hem of his robes appeared like black silk as it cascaded across the smooth surface of the bridge. Clasping his hands behind his back, the British wizard peered around the garden room.

As soon as the door shut behind them, Aksel's eyes roamed the room. Overgrown vegetation was abundant in the level below their current position. Colors, far too exotic for Norway, bloomed and scented the air with musky and sweet fragrances. There was a small creek that ran the length of the room below, magically spelled to enhance the sound of water trickling across rocks and around masculine boulders.

The atmosphere was warm and a bit humid, but it was set to Aksel's and his mother's preferences.

Standing a few paces from the Dark Lord, Aksel mimicked the man's posture, clasping his hands confidently behind his back and planting his feet firmly on the glass beneath him. It was better to appear confident, even when he felt nothing of the sort. "If you can't see the answer yourself, My Lord, then I'm afraid you wouldn't understand its appeal."

Voldemort turned suddenly, observing him from beneath his deep hood. "You are Dagnar's heir, surely the stress of his politics drive you to this place, hmm? To seek… relaxation?" The word sounded too foreign on the man's tongue.

Aksel smiled thinly and turned his cheek on the man's piercing stare. In a way, the Dark Lord was right, but Aksel decided the man would always be right even if he were only throwing caution to the wind. "I suppose," he consented. "Though, can you imagine that it isn't offering me any relaxation at the moment?" he asked dryly.

A raspy chuckle responded. "You're amusing, child. It would be a personal insult if you were relaxed."

Turning sharply, Aksel assessed the man. "Are you planning to kill me here? As a bitter sense of irony?" Behind his back, Aksel twisted his hands in slight unease but kept his face masked.

"You ask too many questions." The man waved a dismissive hand and placed it on the sturdy ledge of the bridge. Never once had his attention wavered from Aksel. Never. "I simply wanted your company before dinner and negotiations begin."

Aksel unclasped his hands, willing them not to tremble as he approached the edge of the bridge and stared at the vibrant garden. He had a sinking suspicion that Voldemort wanted Aksel here as a sort of shield. Did the Dark Lord believe Dagnar was going to assassinate him before dinner? Is that why the man lured Aksel to the second-floor gardens? To think Aksel was standing in the way of his father's plans to assassinate the Dark Lord made him a bit… uneasy. Dagnar would be furious.

He cast a sidelong glance at the Dark Lord. "Do you really want to negotiate with my father? Or are you here on other—"

Voldemort hissed lowly. "Did I not tell you that you ask too many questions? I ask the questions now." He suddenly advanced toward Aksel, ignoring the latter's stiffening. With a bone-white hand, the man reached out and pressed his finger against the underbelly of Aksel's chin, forcing the younger wizard to look up at him.

Aksel finally got a good eyeful of the world's most feared wizard from beneath the hood. Ugly wasn't exactly the best word to describe the Dark Lord, no, he was frightening but so… alluring. The nose was flat, the thin, almost non-existing lips were naturally turned into a sneer, and his eyes… his pupils were slit like a snake's and so red, they almost glowed in their intensity.

It was only a good second that Aksel was able to identify the most powerful Dark Lord. In the next second, his forehead split in two and Voldemort let out a fierce hiss, pulling away sharply as if the contact burned him.

Aksel had to close his eyes and press a palm to his forehead in order to ease the pain. Through watery eyes, he spied the Dark Lord with his back turned to him, seemingly nursing his hand.

When the pain began to fade, or, turn less intense, Aksel became aware of the laughing. He straightened and stared at the Dark Lord in disbelief.

"Fascinating," Voldemort purred, turning to eye Aksel from over his shoulder. His curled hand retreated into his sleeve, appearing almost as red as the man's eyes. "I had my suspicions, but this is delicious proof. Delicious."

Aksel took a step backward. "You're insane." It was almost as if the Dark Lord and Aksel were affected negatively upon skin contact. The Dark Lord's skin burned and Aksel received unbearable migraines. The question he wanted answered was why. Did his father do this? As protection?

"You and your mother are close, yes?" the Dark Lord asked suddenly, his whole demeanor changing. Gone was the gleeful insanity and in its place was a stable and calculative wizard.

Stiffening at the sensitive topic, Aksel sent the man of cool stare. "Like any son and his mother."

The Dark Lord inhaled and looked upward, as if seeing something only he could see. "She's ill? Is that why she wasn't present at the hall to greet me?"

Green eyes flashed. "If you already know the answer, why are you putting it in a form of a question?" The Dark Lord snapped his head down toward Aksel, causing the younger wizard to take a step back, his defensive barriers rising instantly. He placed a hand on his robe pocket, well aware of the wand waiting for his reach.

"You have defiance," Voldemort murmured, sounding oddly pleased before he frowned. "But not enough of it just yet. You are still too young, too naïve and too afraid. I can tell you've been raised as a proper pure-blood, full to the brim of the rituals of politics, magic, and life's lessons. But in order to fully come into those teachings, into your intended role, you need to have experience."

"I don't understand," Aksel confessed darkly. "I have no role."

"You are your father's heir, are you not?" Voldemort asked as if he were speaking to a child. "He is an influential man in Norway who has his reach across the Scandinavian region. If he dies, you need to step inside his shoes." Voldemort cocked his head to the side, smiling mockingly at Aksel. "Doubtless, you would fail miserably if that were to happen in the near future. I pity you, child. Norway will fall completely."

Aksel felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise at the man's hidden message, the unmistakable hint. "Don't touch him."

Voldemort clapped his hands once, cupping them together like that of a giddy witch. "You are so close, yet so far. Just because you are seventeen-years-old, does not make you an adult. Step out from behind your father's looming shadow and take the initiative. Maybe then you and I can dance properly."

With that being said, the Dark Lord brushed past a stunned Aksel and out the door.

Aksel slouched against the glass bridge and stared unseeingly across from him. He knew the Dark Lord planned to attack his father just as much as his father intended to attack the Dark Lord. Voldemort was confident enough in his ability to kill Dagnar that he could hint with Aksel about it. But why hint? Why encourage Aksel to grow stronger if Voldemort was just going to kill Dagnar and destroy Norway?

If Dagnar died, Aksel knew older, more experienced men would take over as the prominent man in Norway, doubtless of the fact that the Lystad mantle was the largest and most influential of Norway. More than likely, those men who would take the position of pure-blood royalty would be endorsed and controlled by Voldemort.

There was truth to what the Dark Lord warned. Aksel just wondered why the man had sent such a mixed signal. He wanted to kill Dagnar but he also encouraged Aksel to develop? Unless… of course. Voldemort was mocking him. The Dark Lord knew Aksel wouldn't be able to stop the attack on Dagnar. And in turn, he would make Aksel feel like a lost child by keeping him alive and struggling to prop up the Lystad pillar in Norway.

He grimaced, grabbing his wand. Whatever the case, Aksel wasn't going to stand by hopelessly and watch his father be killed. All his life, he was raised to respect Dagnar. Ever since he was a child, he saw how men stood by and risked their lives for his father. Dagnar could be a pompous arse, but he was also an influential man who held too much power to have it ripped from him. If he had to, Aksel would risk his own life to protect the man he came to respect.

New Way to Bleed

His steps were long and quick as he hurried to the dining hall. Dinner should have started five minutes ago; he should have been there ten minutes ago. Yet, he had been sitting in the second-floor gardens, mulling over the Dark Lord's words and preparing himself for the worse.

There was a lot to his father's work that he didn't know about. Granted, Aksel had attended many political meetings and he knew the names of the prominent men following Dagnar, but he didn't know enough to keep his head above the water if something were to happen. His father held so much control, control even the Minister of Norway was powerless to. The underhanded politics outside the Ministry was what influenced the workings inside the Ministry. The Magical community of Norway never had a particularly powerful Ministry. It was the pure-bloods who held the power here and in the Scandinavian region as a whole.

What frightened him the most was losing Dagnar and then proceeding to be walked over by the elders who possessed more experience and influence. Aksel would lose everything he was raised and bred to keep close; the Lystad dynasty, the money, the control.

While he didn't exactly enjoy it, politics and power did give him a thrill and he was reluctant to lose the top position of Norway just to become a whipping boy for another wizard who wanted to take his father's place.

Beneath the insults and snide comments, Dagnar hadhinted that Aksel was improving and ready for the next step. But the conversation Aksel had with Voldemort made all the uncertainties come forth with an unstoppable force. Not to mention, the realizations that came with it.

Since a young child, he had known he was supposed to take over the Lystad dynasty. He just never really thought that day would come. He thought he would be learning at Durmstrang his whole life, staying young and naïve. And he thought Dagnar was immortal.

The startling awareness of mortality had been hard to swallow.

Aksel ran a hand through his loose curls, trying to manage his appearance before entering the dining hall.

All eyes turned in his direction.

He schooled his features, never pausing as he zigzagged through the maze of round tables and up to the head table where his father sat. He wasn't surprised to see the empty spot to Dagnar's left where his mother was supposed to sit. This past month had been hard on her health, as her illness had peaked.

"You're late," Dagnar growled, his disproval obvious in his tone. He nudged the chair out next to him with his foot. "Sit."

Aksel flashed Lord Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy a dark glower before settling rigidly in the chair next to his father. As soon as his back settled against the high back, the plates suddenly filled full of food and platters of luxurious dishes were spread evenly across the tables. The guests made appraising laments before the sound of silverware began to clash with the light orchestra playing in the balcony below.

A hand landed heavily on his shoulder and Aksel did his best to refrain from flinching.

"I'm sure you know Aksel attends Durmstrang Academy, no? I find Karkaroff does a good job with the students. Dumbledore, on the other hand, has gotten ripe in his old age." Dagnar flashed his teeth across the table at Lord Voldemort. "Then again, the man is still a thorn in your side. He is the reason you're here, I imagine."

Aksel ignored the painful hand on his shoulder in favor of studying Dagnar. Many would claim the man handsome with his sleek black hair tied handsomely at the nape of his neck, his pale skin and sharp features. Aksel inherited his father's dark hair and chiseled facial structures, along with his tall and lithe stature, but he mirrored his mother just as equally. Her loose curls had passed on to her son, just as the pale green eyes had. In all ways, Aksel was a perfect balance of mother and father.

It never came to a surprise to Aksel to hear Dagnar was the center of women's fantasies. Currently, his father sat at the head of the table, proud and regal. Even in the face of the Dark Lord's overwhelming aura, he somehow held a light of his own.

But in Aksel's eyes, Voldemort was the central figure in the room. Cloaked in dark robes, the man tried to pass off as being inconspicuous, though he didn't succeed very well. Even if the occupants of the party were so dim not to notice Voldemort's chilling aura, they were still drawn to the wizard out of fear and allure. Their eyes rarely left the Dark Lord and their bodies tended to gravitate subconsciously in the man's direction.

"Partly," Voldemort responded softly, his spidery fingers playing with the wine glass but refusing to sip from it. "Though, I must admit, your heir has caught my attention long enough to hold it. Interminably."

Aksel raised his eyes to the Dark Lord, frowning. What was the man playing at? His eyes flickered over to Lucius Malfoy, narrowing his gaze as the man held a hand up to his lips, veiling the mischievous smile.

Dagnar chuckled, his smile easy but his eyes hard. "Is that supposed to be a threat, My Lord?"

To the guests, they would appear good-natured in their conversation. However, the other pure-blood royalty of Norway were seated at the head table, silently listening and ready to act if necessary.

Voldemort wasn't in the mood to play games, it seemed. He straightened from his slouched position and leaned forward threateningly. "Did you think I would not notice? Fool. You try to wave him underneath my nose, parading him in front of me. You truly thought I would sniff and turn the other cheek—ignorant?"

Aksel placed his palms on the table, bracing himself in his offense. "I—"

"Silence," Dagnar ordered sharply, angling his body in order to veil his features from the guests. "I must admit that I… am ignorant on what you're hinting at, Lord Voldemort. Just as well, my son is oblivious of your claims of trickery being pulled."

The Dark Lord suddenly sat back, caressing his lips with a fingernail in contemplation. "You truly don't know…"

"Dumbledore's work?" Malfoy murmured to his Lord before being silenced just as abruptly as Aksel had.

The man really was insane, Aksel decided, staring at Voldemort with slight disenchantment. Such potential, such power and it was wasted on a mind that was not stable. And just when he had gotten intrigued. For so long, Aksel had interacted with stiff politicians and spoiled pure-blood children. On the bridge above the gardens, doubtless of the solemnity of their conversation, Aksel had enjoyed speaking with the Dark Lord. The man was blunt and he was dangerous, setting Aksel on edge in a delightful manner.

"No matter," Voldemort dismissed coolly, slowly collecting himself as if he sensed Aksel's less-than favorable perception of him. "Your ignorance of the boy's value aside, I am more than confident you know why I'm here."

Dagnar folded his hands on top the table, all four of their plates untouched between them. For a moment, Dagnar collected himself, intentionally spreading a silent tension across the table. "First, I must congratulate you on your accomplishment. Not many men can return from the grave, My Lord. And not many men can return whole."

Aksel pressed his lips together, preparing himself when he realized where this conversation was going. A part of him marveled at Dagnar's audacity. Usually his father was a lot more subtle and sly. Tonight, it appeared as if Dagnar just wanted Voldemort out of his hair. The move was bold and it was out of arrogance. Couldn't Dagnar sense the Dark Lord's sheer power? Was there something Aksel was failing to see that would give credibility to Dagnar's actions?

"Meaning?" Voldemort took the bait and pulled, forcing Dagnar's hand.

Obviously, Dagnar wasn't afraid to reveal his cards. He smiled thinly at the cloaked figure, his eyes hard and cruel. "Before your… fall, you were an ideal candidate to reinforce, Lord Voldemort." Dagnar raised his eyebrows. "But I'm afraid, since your rise, your careless and nonsensical actions have shed light to your less than stable mind frame. It is only proof that a man cannot defy Mother Nature, Voldemort. No man can return from death's embrace whole."

Aksel stiffened, clutching his wand beneath the table. His eyes were downcast and he could hear his pulse racing in his ears. Something was not right. His father's bold comments aside, Aksel could feel an obvious shift in the atmosphere. Even the drop of temperature around Voldemort was not what was causing Aksel's heightened disquiet.

"Equipping you with any army will only be adding fuel to the fire…" Dagnar continued, but somehow, it was murky. "Aksel?" the man suddenly inquired. "Aksel?"

Green eyes remained lowered, watching the water tremble inside its glass. From the water's reflection, he could see Dagnar lean closer, true concern lacing his murky features as he reached for Aksel. And then, from the corner of his eye, Aksel spied a jet of bright green light heading in his father's direction from above.

With quick reflexes, Aksel picked up the plate from the table and used it as a shield for his father. Seconds later, the spell connected with dishware, causing it to shatter into pieces.

The world stood still and silent.

And then a high-pitched cackle unfroze the occupants of Lystad Manor.

The guests at the round tables stood up, screaming in horror as the manor began to swarm with dark-clad wizards. The attackers were black mist-like forms as they Apparated and flew around the room, shooting spells at the guests as they ran for the exit. At the head table, the politicians were getting the brunt of the attack. The majority of them dived below the tables and used it as a shield to fire back. Others were cowardly and shrank fully underneath the table, refusing to defend themselves, or they just Disapparated away.

"Aksel," Dagnar growled, reaching for his son to pull him underneath the table.

But Aksel had other ideas. His eyes were on the black-mist heading in his father's direction, the very same individual most likely responsible for carrying out Dagnar's assassination. It was the same form that had shot the Avada Kedavra at Dagnar earlier. The Apparation form must have been a woman, if the feminine laugh was anything to go by.

With a wide grin, Aksel reached boldly up and grabbed the Apparating woman. He was pulled out of his chair and off the ground as he was hauled alongside her. They didn't travel far before the woman was forced to turn tangible.

The two fell to the ground ungracefully. Aksel took the brunt of the collusion by having the woman's weight roll on top of him as they came to an abrupt hault. He found himself staring into unfathomable black eyes that possessed a derange spark. Wild black curls tumbled into his face as she giggled breathlessly down at him.

"A pretty boy," she exclaimed in triumph, her crooked teeth grinning. "I'll enjoy ripping your sweet face apart."

Adrenaline burned hotly through his body as Aksel brought his head back and slammed it into the woman's face. She gave a sharp cry of denial and pain as her nose cracked audibly. Aksel gave her no time to recover as he blasted her off his prone form, sending her flying across the room.

He jumped to his feet and hunched over, clutching his wand close to his chest as he mumbled a Latin incantation. It was obvious Voldemort's forces had torn down the Anti-Apparation wards around the Lystad Manor. A simple Anti-Apparation jinx around the room would solve the issue of the flying wizards.

Aksel trembled from the force of the spell as he threw his right arm up and pointed his wand to the ceiling. Gold magic thrummed across the perimeter and Aksel's arm shook as he struggled to keep it raised. He watched in satisfaction as Voldemort's army dropped from the air like wounded birds, crying out as their body's Splinched from Aksel's jinx.

The furious battle-cry was what caused Aksel to drop his concentration, and in turn, drop the jinx around the room. No matter, it had served its purpose. The majority of Voldemort's army was on the ground, bloodied and injured.

He turned his attention on the woman charging and casting a Killing Curse. Aksel side-stepped the green curse, raising his wand and batting away the curses that came after the Avada Kedavra. He was reluctantly impressed this witch's speed and reflexes. Though, the only thing that bothered him was her lack of creativity. It was all Killing Curses, Cruciatus Curses, and the occasional Slicing Curse.

"My dear," Aksel breathed, nonverbally sending her an Electric-Shock Curse. "You need to gain a bit more originality with your spells. You're not selling me on the Dark Arts."

She breathed harshly through her nose, her eyes furious.

Before Aksel could see what else she had to offer, he was suddenly surrounded by men in sky-blue robes. "No!" Aksel cried out in denial as they blocked him from the woman across from him—from the fight and excitement.

Sheltering him was what they did best, after all. Ever since Aksel was a child, he hadn't been allowed to have fun, to get dirty, to stand in the face of danger.

They tried to grab for him, but Aksel fought back, realizing it was pointless. There were too many of them as they flooded the room and encircled him in a protective barrier. One of the men got physical and sent a powerful blow across Aksel's face. The man would later give the excuse that it was in the name of protection.

Aksel dropped to the ground and the mob of wizards followed. One of the men grabbed a Portkey and then reached for Aksel's fallen form.

Before the hand could come in contact, Aksel sluggishly moved his eyes to the side, the world spinning from the blow to his head. Unfortunately, the blow hadn't been hard enough to block out the sight of Dagnar's lifeless corpse laying only a few feet away from him. Bile rose up in the back of Aksel's throat. If he hadn't been so absorbed in his own duel, he might have been able to save his father. That arsehole, that hard-arse and abusive wizard… was still his father.

Green eyes rose further, locking eyes with the Dark Lord. Aksel gave a roar of anger and fury, delirious from the sudden onslaught of loss. A hard, unforgiving hand closed around his arm and he was whisked away from the Lystad Manor and into protective custody.

Notes: A note about the Apparation mist in this chapter: Basically, it's the mist-like blurs that we saw in the movies (like the Department of Mysteries battle). P.s. Chapter Two should be up shortly.