Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling. No money is being made.
Warnings: This story will have slash, violence, torture, and a bit of gore.
Chapter 9 – Drawing lines
The day started as any other day. He woke up, got ready for the day ahead, sorted through his correspondence and did his best not to incinerate the ones from people that he would rather ignore than pretend that he in any way cared about what they had to say. He sighed, thinking for the Nth time that he was far too old for this games and went down to have breakfast. If there was anything that put him in a better mood it was seeing all his children, because they were his children, from the moment they stepped through those majestic doors till the moment they left. Even if a few of them strayed a little he never stopped caring about them.
Still, that morning in particular he felt slightly uneasy when he stepped through the door. He could feel the gleeful magic filling the air and in any other circumstance he would have ignored it, it wouldn't be the first time that a student had been overwhelmed by their emotions and their magic reflected it. However this time the glee was shadowed by a malice so strong that it made a shiver run down his spine. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so much malice, especially in Hogwarts.
It filled him with dread, he just knew that something would happen, something bad. Still, not knowing where the feeling was coming from there wasn't much that he could do. He sat down and started his breakfast, his magic doing it's best to pin-point the source of his uneasiness.
By the time the owls with the post arrived he had almost forgotten the uneasy feeling since most of the students were drowning the other magic, however as soon as the post owls entered the Great Hall there was a sudden spike in the magic. The potency of it making it almost impossible for him to separate it from his own emotions.
His dread increased and he was almost afraid to see what was in the newspaper, he just knew that it couldn't be anything good. When he heard Minerva's soft gasp and Filius' alarmed squeak he couldn't help but look.
"Dear Merlin." he whispered, not really aware that he had done it, when he saw the headline, all color draining from his face. How could this have happened? How couldn't he have seen that something like this would happen? Was this Tom's first move? Why hadn't he called Severus?
His eyes sharpened and his head snapped up when he felt that malicious intent spike.
Voldemort was back. Voldemort had taken his first step. And someone in Hogwarts knew about it.
Sirius was having a wonderful morning. The sun was shinning, he was sleeping in a comfortable bed, and most of all he wasn't locked up in Azkaban. What else could a person ask for? Life couldn't be better.
Well, if one wanted to be technical about it, it could always be better. Hell, he was sure it would be better if his beloved godson wasn't consorting with a homicidal maniac. But all in all, life was good.
And those happy, somewhat mellow feelings lasted till he saw the front page of the Daily Prophet.
Those happy, mellow feelings? Yeah, they flew right out the window.
The news about the Azkaban breakout spread like an out of control Fiendfyre. Panic spread just as fast and people feared going out of their homes.
The Minister wanted nothing more than to pretend that everything was fine. So, ignoring the fact that it would require someone of incredible power to be able to break the Azkaban wards the way they had been broken, Fudge blamed the breakout on Sirius Black and assured the Wizarding populace that everything was under control and that the escapees were already being tracked.
Harry couldn't help but sneer at the copy of the Daily Prophet that had been delivered later that same day. He didn't know if he should be disappointed or not that Fudge was so predictable. On one hand it would make life easier for them, on the other hand it was just so disappointing to have such incompetent leaders. It truly would be better for everyone when Tom finally took control of the Wizarding World. At least they would get ride of the incompetence. That could only be a good thing, right?
He stiffened slightly when he felt eyes on him. It seemed he had been right. Dumbledore would be doing something. He had no idea what he would do, but those looks... they were somewhat similar to the ones he had received in his fifth year. Could it be that Dumbledore was actually expecting him to have those visions? He couldn't remember if he had told Dumbledore anything about them. Did he have any visions during the summer? He couldn't really remember. There had been something related to the Riddle Manor, hadn't there? But he hadn't told Dumbledore about it, had he? He didn't think so. Though he had told Sirius about it, now that he thought about it. Had Sirius already told Dumbledore?
Either way he didn't like the looks. It made his skin crawl a little bit. It was hard to forget that the man still wanted him to die for his Greater Good and he was only waiting for the signs of the horcrux waking.
It was rather ironic that Tom's soul was more awake than ever but there weren't any signs of it. There was no pain, only a soft buzz in the back of his mind. Proof that he wasn't alone. He would never admit it but he liked it. After the war knowing that he wasn't alone was such a comfort. He didn't think that Tom truly understood just how much it meant to him that Tom had let him keep his soul. Not only keep it but actually giving him two other pieces.
He was brought out of his thoughts by someone clearing their throat behind him. He looked back and saw a small Slytherin standing behind him, looking a little uncomfortable to be in the middle of Gryffindor territory.
"Yes?" he smiled warmly at the child.
"Professor Dumbledore told me to give you this." he held out a piece of parchment and as soon as Harry took it he scurried away as fast as possible making Harry chuckle.
Really, Dumbledore sure was crafty, sending a Slytherin to deliver a message. He remembered how he had viewed the Slytherins when he was fourteen. It was just another way for Dumbledore to try and see how he ticked, especially now that he seemed to be slipping out of his leash. How would he treat the little, helpless Slytherin?
He sighed and shook his head. How hadn't he noticed that it was always about mind games with Dumbledore? That man thrived on knowledge. Knowing how someone, especially his shinny, golden weapon, thought must be one of the most important things for the man. Otherwise how could he manipulate them into their supposed proper place? All for the Greater Good, of course. Please, do note the sarcasm.
Well, he was working for the Greater Good too. Dumbledore should be proud.
Harry contained a snort and opened his missive. He wasn't really surprised when he saw that it was a summons for a meeting with the old man. He glanced up, noticing that the man in question wasn't at the Head Table anymore and let out a long suffering sigh.
Sometimes he really envied Tom. Tom didn't have to deal with all of this. Maybe he should stage a kidnapping. Dumbledore must at least suspect that Tom was back, so him being kidnapped wouldn't be all that strange, would it? He was sure that he could talk Barty into helping him.
Well, it was something to think about. Now though he had an old goat to wrestle.
"Where are you going?" Hermione asked him, looking at him in concern. She had been rather worried about the breakout, especially about the fact that they blamed Sirius. She didn't know that he was safely in Grimmauld Place.
"Dumbledore called." he replied, showing her the note.
"Alright. Will you be in the common room later?"
"I think so, why?"
"It's just..." she sighed and looked away, though not before he saw a little bit of sadness appearing in her eyes, "You've been busy lately. It seems as if we haven't talked in ages."
Harry felt a pang of regret wash over him. He truly had been neglecting his relationship with her. Though he had been somewhat distant with most Gryffindors. It hurt to look at most of them. He couldn't help but seeing their last moments. Seeing their bodies broken in ways he never thought possible.
"I'm sorry," he ended up saying, truly feeling sorry though maybe not for the reason that Hermione thought, "How about we spend the night by the fire catching up?" he offered and that pang of guilt and regret only grew when he saw just how happy she looked by that simple offer. Merlin, when had it been the last time that he had seen her so happy? Without the burden of war on her shoulders? Without the soul shattering pain of grief marring her features? Merlin, he had missed it. He had missed it so much.
"Alright!" her whole expression lit up, "I'll see you later then."
He smiled and nodded, doing his best to hide his turbulent emotions, and left the Great Hall. He could just hope that Dumbledore didn't aggravate him too much, he wasn't sure he would be able to control himself.
He made the trip to the Headmaster's office almost on auto-pilot. He was starting to find this double life thing quite bothersome and he had only been doing it for a few months. He wasn't sure he would be able to handle three more years, he didn't think he was that good of an actor.
He uttered the password and knocked on the door, not at all surprised to see that Dumbledore knew it was him. He couldn't believe that he hadn't been able to feel the proximity and identification wards in his previous life, they were quite strong and felt like Dumbledore. It was rather disturbing now, it made his skin crawl. Dumbledore's magic felt wrong. Not that there was anything actually wrong with it, but it was nothing like Tom's or even Barty's. It was too Light, there was no other way to describe it. That showed just how much he had changed, what had once been so comfortable now felt almost nauseating.
"Ah, Harry, good-evening. Please take a seat." Dumbledore had his grandfatherly mask on and his twinkling eyes were looking at him without any distrust. Though Harry knew just how well the old man knew how to hide his feelings. He had a better mask than Lucius Malfoy and that was saying something.
Still, there wasn't much he could do, so he took a seat and glanced around the room, noticing Fawkes looking at him from his perch. He hadn't seen the bird since Dumbledore's funeral and couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. He had no idea what had happened to phoenixes in general or to many other magical creatures but he was sure that none of them actually survived the devastation the muggles caused. Everything and anything that was magical was to be put to death no matter if it was an innocent and pure animal or a grown man.
"So, my boy, how have you been doing?" the old man asked and Harry couldn't help but stare at him. What? He sure hadn't expected this kind of opening.
"I'm fine, sir." he replied, not willing to give the man much else. He wanted to see just what Dumbledore's angle was. Until he had a better grasp on his mindset he would keep it to simple, concise answers.
"Are you truly?" blue eyes lost a little of their twinkling, "I know that the recent news on the Daily Prophet may be upsetting, especially since it mentions Sirius and seems to portray him as the culprit."
"I know Sirius didn't do it and that he's safe, so I don't see why I should worry about what they say about him, sir."
"And you are not worried about the breakout?"
No, I'm rather ecstatic about it; he wanted to scream it. Rub it in Dumbledore's face, but he contained himself and did his best to look a little worried.
"Yeah... but, they won't be able to get into Hogwarts, right?"
"Oh, no, my boy." Dumbledore assured him, "No, you do not have to worry about that. Hogwarts is quite safe. I was wondering however if you could think of anyone who would be able to break the Death Eaters out of Azkaban."
"You..." he cleared his throat, "You don't mean Voldemort, do you? He doesn't have a body." he almost shouted, "It can't be him!" maybe he really was a better actor than he thought.
Dumbledore seemed to age in front of his eyes and Harry knew it wasn't faked. He knew that Dumbledore truly felt bad about everything that was about to happen and with the Voldemort situation in general. However he couldn't bring himself to feel any sort of empathy towards the man.
If he allowed Dumbledore to get everything he wanted their world would be doomed. It may seem cruel but he would rather exterminate the muggles than see them destroying magic. He knew that Dumbledore would never accept the fact that they couldn't coexist. Even if he showed Dumbledore his memories he doubted the man would agree to killing all the muggles, he would say that they could always solve things diplomatically. It would be a waste of time and frankly he wasn't all that inclined to try and reason with the man.
"Do you remember at the beginning of summer the strange dream you had?"
"How do you know about that... sir?" he asked, sounding uncomfortable and rather defensive. The typically reaction of a teenaged boy he supposed.
"You aren't the only one in contact with a certain lovable stray." Dumbledore replied, a bright twinkle briefly appearing in his eyes.
"Oh," he murmured, lowering his head, "He told you than..."
"Yes, he did." Dumbledore nodded, "Though do not be cross with him, he was only worried about you."
Harry nodded, biting his lip.
"Wh-," he cleared his throat, "What about the dream, sir?"
"It was about Voldemort, both of us know that. In that dream he was holding a wand. To do that he had to have a body."
"But, professor, it was only a dream." he argued.
"I am so sorry, my boy." Dumbledore sighed, "I do not believe it was a simple dream."
"But how can that be, sir?" he sounded rather agitated, "I was asleep, so it could be nothing but a dream."
"I believe it was a sort of vision."
"A... a vision?" he frowned, "So, I'm a Seer?" he sounded more than a little skeptical.
"No, no. I do not think that you are what people perceive as a Seer."
"Then how can I have visions, sir?"
"I believe that you have visions of Voldemort. The two of you are linked in ways that I don't think anyone truly understands."
Harry took a shuddering breath.
"I... are you sure?" he looked pleadingly at Dumbledore, begging him to tell him otherwise.
"I am truly sorry, my boy."
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"What does that have to do with Azkaban?" his voice was no more than a whisper but Dumbledore heard him.
"He had a wand, Harry. I believe he is getting stronger and the Azkaban breakout is proof of that. I have to ask you, Harry, have you been getting more dreams? Anything that could tell us what is happening, what he plans on doing? Anything at all?"
"I... no, no dreams. Well, only the normal kind. There has been nothing with Voldemort." he shook his head.
"I see." Dumbledore sighed, "Well, that is good, at least you are not forced to witness his atrocities."
"You think... you think he's really back, sir?"
"I do, yes." Dumbledore replied gravely, his eyes shadowed. Harry only remembered seeing them like that when he was on Death's door and they were talking about horcruxes.
"What is the Ministry doing about it? Do they know?"
"You saw the Daily Prophet, my boy." Dumbledore replied, "That is the official Ministry stance."
"But... you're going to tell them, right sir?"
"I do not think that it would do any good to tell them now, it would not change anything. Cornelius would not believe it."
"Why not? You're Dumbledore, you wouldn't lie about something like that. He must know that!"
"Unfortunately Cornelius is far too taken with his position to accept something like that. I can do nothing but wait till Voldemort moves out in the open."
Harry frowned but nodded.
"Is there something else you need from me, sir?"
"Yes, actually, there is. I was wondering, have you been feeling different since the summer? More emotional? Perhaps quicker to anger?"
"No... not really. Why, sir?"
"No reason, just a thought. That will be all. Thank you for your time, Harry."
Harry blushed a little and nodded, getting up from his seat. He quickly left the office, and only when he was several corridors away did he let a smirk grace his features.
He should get an award for that performance. He sure had earned it. Well, at least he had learned Dumbledore's position on the matter, though he had to wonder just how he was so sure that Tom was back. Snape hadn't been present in any of the meetings and he knew that Tom was blocking the connection to Snape's mark, so he shouldn't have been able to feel the call.
Though Dumbledore had always known Tom rather well and he had always said that Tom would be back. So it really shouldn't surprise him all that much that he jumped to the correct conclusion with so little information.
At least Dumbledore didn't suspect him and he had even forgotten all about his superb performance in the tasks. Well, maybe not forgotten, but it sure had been pushed back on his priorities.
He made a slight detour and went towards Barty's quarters. He had only just remembered that he would need Barty to cover for him. He had gotten a rather angry letter from his godfather. Sirius had told him in no uncertain terms that he was to march his butt to Grimmauld asap. Harry supposed he wasn't all that happy with the Azkaban breakout. Or that he was the scapegoat in it all. Either way he wasn't happy, so he would have to go there and prevent Sirius from storming the castle. He really wouldn't put it past the man.
He sighed and muttered the password to Barty's room, knowing that the man would be either reading or relaxing by the fire. Barty always liked being by the fire, he had told Harry that after a decade under the Imperius he felt that he never could get warm. He knew it wasn't logical, but the curse did mess with people's minds. Harry didn't even want to know just how addled Barty must be.
Just as he had predicted he found the man sprawled on the sofa in front of the fire.
"Hey, Barty." Harry murmured, sinking onto the sofa beside him.
"Harry." Barty replied lazily, and Harry chuckled. Barty looked like a content cat.
"I'll have to be away for a while today. You'll have to cover for me if anyone notices that I'm gone."
"Alright, I'll tell them that I caught you wandering and gave you a lecture on constant vigilance. Are you going back to my Lord?"
"No." Harry shook his head, "I'll have to talk to Sirius, he's not happy with me."
"The breakout?" Barty guessed.
"Yeah." Harry sighed, "I should have guessed that he would suspect that I was somehow involved. What about you? When will you be seeing Tom?"
"When my Lord calls."
"But... don't you want to see your friends?"
"I do." Barty sighed, "I'm quite worried about them. But my Lord gave me a mission and I have to obey."
"Then I'll just take you with me when I drop by the manor." Harry stated, a stubborn set to his jaw. There were many things that had changed about him, however friendship still meant a great deal to him. Barty was a friend, a close friend, who was quickly becoming one of the most important people in this new life, he wanted him happy.
"I don't want you to get in trouble with my Lord."
"I'll deal with Tom. I want you there with me when I meet the Lestranges. Will you deny me?"
"I would never deny you, Harry." came the whispered reply and Harry looked away. He couldn't deal with the intense look in Barty's eyes. Sometimes he truly wished he had learned legilimency.
"Then it's decided, you'll go with me when I go to the manor."
"Alright." Barty smiled, his eyes warm and Harry couldn't help but smile back. He didn't really understand just why he felt so comfortable with the man. However he wasn't about to fight it, he wasn't ashamed to admit that he craved companionship and that was what Barty gave him.
He stayed with Barty for a little while, not talking, just enjoying the company of the other man before he sighed and got up.
"Going already?" Barty asked, a lazy drawl to his words that told Harry that Barty was on the verge of falling asleep.
"Yeah, I promised Hermione that I would talk to her tonight."
"The little know-it-all." Barty grumbled, "I don't understand why you would even bother. You have been quite distant from the little Gryffindors."
"Yeah," Harry sighed, "I don't think they would like the person I have become. It's easier to keep them at arm's length."
"You're saving them." Barty stated fiercely.
"I doubt they'll see it that way." he murmured, not quite able to hide the pain that thought brought him. Even though he did his best not to think about it the fact that his family would likely shun him as soon as they found out what he would do it was something that hurt him deeply. He knew that they weren't the people that they grew into but it still hurt. He couldn't erase decades of memories, of feelings, of comfort, fights, make-ups, laughs, tears. He couldn't just erase a whole life. He couldn't and he wouldn't do it even if he could. Those memories gave him the strength to do what needed to be done.
"Even if they leave you, you'll always have us. You know that, don't you?"
Harry felt warmth filling him. He already knew he would never be alone, he had Death, his father. However knowing that he would have someone besides his father that would be there for him was a balm to his soul. It was something that had been worrying him, he had feared that he was doomed to spent his life as a human alone. This fear was something from his time at the Dursleys and the war hadn't abated it at all, on the contrary in fact, it had increased it.
He doubted that he would ever get over it.
Well... maybe that wasn't true. He had eternity now after all.
"Yeah, I know. Thanks, Barty." he smiled warmly at the man, feeling somewhat lighter.
"Anytime, Harry." Barty replied, slumping back down on the sofa.
Harry left with a small smile on his lips, a smile that continued even when he entered the Gryffindor common room and saw Hermione sitting by the fireplace waiting for him.
He sank down on an armchair beside her, enjoying the usual chaos of the common room for just a second.
"Harry," he glanced at Hermione, "That took a while." she remarked and he shrugged. "What did the Headmaster want?"
"Just to talk about the Azkaban breakout." Harry muttered, "He wanted to know how I was dealing with it."
"How are you dealing with it?" Hermione asked, a slight frown marring her expression and Harry could see the worry in her eyes.
"I'm fine." he couldn't help but sound slightly exasperated. Really why wouldn't he be alright? There hadn't been any attacks, so why would he be worried? Even if he had still been the same Harry as before he would have been fine. Maybe a little worried, and not feeling quite as gleeful as he was at the moment but he would have been fine. As far as he remembered he had always been fine.
"You're always fine." Hermione echoed his thoughts, looking just as exasperated as he felt.
"If you know that, why do you ask?" he threw her a sunny smile.
"Because I hope that you will give a different answer." she replied, still looking a little mulish. "Though I suppose that after all these years I should know better."
For a moment she reminded him so much of his Hermione that he felt a stab to his heart.
"I'm truly fine. I'm not worried. This is Hogwarts, I doubt that they'll try anything here. Besides, Snuffles is safe, the aurors won't be able to catch him."
She visibly relaxed and he smiled.
"So, how have things been with Ron?" he asked, glancing at the other end of the common room, where Ron was participating in a chess tournament with a couple of older Gryffindors.
"That prat," Hermione huffed, "He's driving me crazy. He knows that you didn't enter the tournament but he still won't talk with you. I just don't understand."
"Yes, you already told me that. But I don't see why. You are still you."
"Yes, but you must have noticed that I have a lot more attention on me now. Besides my performance in the tournament hasn't been half bad. He must be wondering if I downplayed my abilities. He has always been insecure, this isn't helping it. And I am not about to force my presence on him. He's a big boy, he knows that his actions have consequences. He'll just have to deal with them when the time comes."
Hermione looked away though not before Harry was able to see the doubt in her eyes.
"What is it?" he asked her, frowning slightly.
"Did you?" she asked, "Did you downplay your abilities?"
For a moment he didn't react, stunned that she had asked him. Though he supposed that he shouldn't have been. Hermione would notice that he was different. The professors may credit his feats in the tasks to studying, but Hermione wouldn't be satisfied with an explanation like that.
"It's not that I doubt you," Hermione quickly added, when she saw his look, "I just... Harry what you did in those tasks... Let's just say that it doesn't surprise me that you have witches and wizards practically worshiping you. I never knew you were that powerful and I've been your friend for years. You couldn't have gained those abilities overnight, Harry."
"Does it matter?" he ended up asking, not really wanting to lie to her, but knowing that he couldn't tell her the truth.
"I... I don't know." she whispered and Harry could see how much it pained her to say it. "If... if you lied about that, about what else did you lie?"
"I'm still me, the same Harry." the lie felt bitter on his tongue.
"That's just it, Harry, if you lied, how do I know just who Harry is?"
Harry sighed and for just a fraction of a second he looked as old as he felt.
"I can't help you with that, Hermione. You have to decide if you trust me or not. I'm still Harry. The Harry that jumped on a troll's back to save your life. I would still do that without a second thought. Well, maybe not jump onto it, since now I would be able to at least curse it or contain it somewhat, but you know what I mean. All in all does it really matter if I didn't use all my power or if I started to truly study this year?" Harry took a deep breath and smiled at her, "You're my friend, Hermione. A very dear friend. You won't stop being my friend even if you need some time to sort everything out."
Hermione looked to be on the verge of crying and Harry hated doing that to her, but it was something that needed to be done. He was resigned to losing their friendship, however that didn't mean he wouldn't fight for it. If he could make her accept him, accept what was to come than he would do it. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
He smiled at her, telling her without words that everything was alright, then got up and went to his dorm. He needed to make it look as if he were in bed and then he needed to sneak away to see Sirius. At the moment his godfather was the more pressing matter. He needed to see what the animagus was thinking and do some damage control.
Albus sighed heavily once the door closed behind Harry.
He wasn't sure if he had done the right thing by bringing up the vision the boy had during the summer, especially since there had been no indication that it was a recurrent occurrence. However he had to ask, just to be sure.
Things were progressing far faster than he had anticipated. He had guessed that the reason why Harry had been entered into the tournament was so that he could be used in some plot of Tom's, though he had no idea what it could have been. He didn't even know if it was still in effect or if the fact that Tom was back had made the plans null and void. He didn't know and that, in and on itself, was dangerous for the Light, they couldn't afford to be in the dark, no pun intended.
A knock on the door brought him out of his thoughts.
"Enter." he was rather grateful that his current guest had been a little late, it was for the best that he and Harry hadn't crossed paths. Merlin knew he wanted them to get along, but he was quite realistic as well. There was far to much bitterness between them.
An involuntary smile appeared on his lips when his Potions Master swept into his office. Severus always had a flair for the dramatics.
"I'm sorry for the delay, Albus." the man murmured, taking a seat in front of his desk, "I was in a crucial phase of a potion, I had to complete it otherwise it would have gone to waste."
"I understand, my boy." Albus smiled at him, though his blue eyes lacked the usual twinkle.
"I suppose that you called me to discuss this morning's news?" Severus stated more than asked.
"You are correct." Albus nodded, letting his worry show for just a moment, "You haven't felt anything from your Mark?"
"No, Albus." no matter how he sounded Albus knew he was worried, "Since that night before the winter break where it burned there has been nothing." Severus looked a bit uncomfortable, but he continued nonetheless, "I find it disturbing that this breakout happened and I was not called."
"Do you believe you lost his trust in you?"
"No one has his trust." Severus sneered, "However I know the Dark Lord couldn't have broken into Azkaban on his own. He must have called the Death Eaters. The only reason I see why he did not call me is that he thinks I betrayed him." Severus paled a little at that admission, as if only then realizing in just how much danger he was.
"What about Igor?" Albus asked, "Has he said anything?"
"That coward." if possible Severus' sneer grew, "He came running when the Mark burned, however since it has been dormant since that night he convinced himself that it had been his imagination. Though, he came to me this morning after the news broke out. He's terrified, but he has no idea of what is happening."
"Do you think he will run?"
"It doesn't matter if he does." Severus replied dryly, "You do not betray the Dark Lord and live through it." he stated and Albus couldn't help but wonder how much that conviction weighted on his mind.
It couldn't be healthy to believe that they were condemned to be killed. It must have been an incredible burden for Severus and it pained him to know that there was nothing he could do for his Potions Master. Severus wouldn't believe him if he told him that everything was going to be alright, especially since both of them knew just how likely that was. Besides he respected the man far to much to give him empty platitudes.
"Do you want me to try and speak with any of my contacts?" Severus asked, "I know you said not to do it, so that it wouldn't arouse suspicion, however that was last month. Now there is a legitimate reason for me to contact them."
"And what if they were ordered to kill you on sight?" Albus asked gravely.
"Then you will have to find yourself anther spy."
"Let's pray then that it doesn't come to that."
He still couldn't get over how easy it was to sneak out of Hogwarts. He was honestly surprised that more students didn't do it. Though he supposed that if there were that many students out of bed than the professors were bound to notice.
As soon as he was away form the wards he apparated to the front of Grimmauld Place, he wasn't sure if he was keyed into the wards and he would rather not risk losing a limb. The Black wards were quite famous for their viciousness.
A smirk graced his features when he heard Walburga screeching as soon as he knocked on the door. Served Sirius right for making him lose precious hours of sleep.
"Did you have to knock?" was the cheerful greeting from a disgruntled Sirius.
Harry just smiled at him brightly and stepped inside, noticing almost at once that the place seemed to be much cleaner.
He was ushered into the kitchen and he was only a little surprised to see that Remus was there as well. He almost sighed, knowing that there would a rather big confrontation no matter what he did. He knew that with Remus there he wouldn't be able to just talk himself out of it. Remus, unfortunately, wasn't as easily distracted or swayed as Sirius. Though from the wide-eyed stare he was getting from the werewolf, Remus sure wasn't expecting him.
"Harry?" he asked, frowning slightly, "What are you doing here?"
Harry just pointed at Sirius.
"His fault!" was all he said and Remus sighed.
"Somehow that doesn't surprise me." he muttered, both of them ignoring Sirius' wounded look. "What did he do?"
"He sent me a letter, telling me to get my butt to Grimmauld asap." Harry took a seat in front of Remus, smiling at him, "So me, being the polite godson that I am, got my butt to Grimmauld asap." he expertly ignored Sirius' snort.
"What did he want?"
"I'm right here, you know?" Sirius grumbled, taking a seat beside Remus.
"We know." Remus and Harry replied in unison.
"He didn't really say, though I suspect what it is about." Harry replied, a long sigh leaving him and Remus' frown grew a little. "Did you tell him anything?" Harry asked his godfather and sighed again when Sirius shook his head, "Great." Harry mumbled.
"What hasn't he told me?"
"Yes, Harry, what haven't I told him?" Sirius sounded far to pleased with himself and for just a moment Harry wanted to hex the man.
"I joined Voldemort. The breakout was organized by us."
Remus froze. It almost looked like he wasn't even breathing. Then his eyes narrowed and he turned towards Sirius.
"If this is a joke then it isn't funny." there was a slight growl in his tone and Harry was a bit surprised by his reaction. He hadn't expected Remus to become so agitated by the news that he would let his wolf surface, if only a little.
"It isn't a joke. I was the one who gave him a body back." Harry replied, never taking his eyes from the werewolf.
"Explain. Now." there was definitely a growl there and Harry almost grimaced. He was sure that he could restrain Remus if it came down to it, but he really didn't want to go there.
"Voldemort's and my ideals are somewhat similar. I despise muggles with everything I am and I know for a fact that they will kill us if given the chance. If they ever found out about us, and the probability for it to happen is rather high, they would exterminate us. They would hunt us down with no care for anything else but our extinction."
"How can you know that?" Remus asked, and Harry was pleased to see that his godfather remained silent. It would be difficult enough to have this conversation with Remus, there was no need for Sirius to aggravate the situation.
"It's human nature. We fear what we don't understand, we are envious of those that have what we want. We strive to be the top of the food-chain. What do you think they will do when they discover people that are able to bend the laws of nature to their whims?"
"That doesn't explain Voldemort."
"Actually, it does." Harry countered, "I believe that if there is anyone who can save us, who can save magic, it's him. He's the most brilliant wizard to have been born. Sure, he's a little extreme what with his policies regarding muggleborns, but I'm working on that."
"So, your solution to saving magic, which you will be explaining as well, is to join the man that killed your parents and become one of his followers?"
"I'm not one of his followers. I'm Lord Phobos, Lord Voldemort's partner. A second Dark Lord if you will. And my parents agree with my decision."
"You parents are dead." Remus almost spat, "Killed by your so called partner."
Almost without conscious thought the Resurrection stone slipped into his finger.
"We may be dead, Moony, but that doesn't mean we don't agree with him." came his dad's voice from behind him and Harry felt a spark of amusement when Remus almost jumped from his seat, looking with wide eyes at the two shades behind Harry.
Sirius was looking at them as well, a small smile on his lips and the longing in his eyes almost overwhelming.
"Ja-james? Lily? How?" Remus stuttered and Harry had never seen the werewolf so out of it, not even when Tonks got pregnant.
"Our Harry is rather talented." James replied, a wide smile on his lips.
Remus' sharp eyes flew to him, a trace of fear in them and Harry almost winced. For a second he had almost forgotten just how feared necromancers were and he couldn't come out and say: 'Hey, don't worry, I'm not really a necromancer. I was just adopted by Death.' Yeah, that would go over well.
"So... so you know that he joined Voldemort?" Remus asked, looking back to Harry's parents.
His dad sighed and he slumped a little against his mom.
"We are dead Remus, being dead well... we know a lot. So, yes, we know that Harry joined Voldemort. We know why he did it. We agree with it."
"How can you agree? He killed you!" Remus was looking a little out of it and Harry's grip on his wand tightened a bit.
"Yes, he did." Lily smiled sadly, "But he cares for our baby."
"He's the Dark Lord. He cares for no one." Sirius grumbled, looking a little mulish.
"It would be more correct to say that he cares for no one but Harry." his mom argued and Harry blushed slightly.
"I wouldn't say that." he mumbled, "Tom cares. He just has a hard time showing it. But he does care about the Wizarding World. Everything he ever did was for it, for us."
"He has a funny way of showing it." Remus growled, "Killing everyone that is against him, that really shows he cares. He killed you!"
"We know, Moony." James said, "But we forgave him, we moved on."
"Just like that?" Remus asked disbelievingly, "You fought for the light and now you suddenly support everything you fought against?"
"We fought for what we believed in." Lily argued, "We were wrong."
"Wrong." James nodded, "We know things now, that we didn't know then. Voldemort may have gone about it the wrong way, but he was fighting for the right thing. Dumbledore on the other hand... I'm sorry to say but he's wrong. The muggles will never accept us. They'll destroy us, our world."
"How can you know that?"
"We are dead." Lily told him, "Time means nothing to us."
"Couldn't you be a little less enigmatic?" Remus grumbled, though there was a fond look in his eyes and Harry could see him relaxing, something which he was rather thankful for.
"I'm sorry, Moony," James looked rather sheepish, "There are things we can't say."
"I understand... I think." Remus mumbled and fell heavily onto his chair, "Though that doesn't explain Harry, or why he joined Voldemort, or how he managed to get him a body back, or how he knew where to even find Voldemort."
"Ah... well, we'll let him explain all those things." James was looking rather shifty and Remus narrowed his eyes, "Oh, will you look at the time!" James exclaimed when he saw the look, "Gotta run, don't wanna be late." and then both shades were gone, Lily's laughter still ringing in the room.
Remus snorted and shook his head, while Sirius outright laughed.
"Don't want to be late..." Remus muttered, "He's dead, he has nowhere to go. Couldn't he come up with a better excuse?" now there was a slight trace of exasperation in his tone and Harry felt his lips twitch.
"You know Prongs, Moony. He always sucked at lying under pressure." Sirius remarked after he got his laughter under control.
"True." Remus muttered. He sighed and glanced at Harry who looked far less tense than a couple of minutes ago, "So, will you explain?"
"There really isn't much to explain." Harry sighed, "I never liked muggles, never had a reason to. But I'm the Boy-Who-Lived, do you know how people would react if I even hinted at that fact?" he couldn't help but wonder how much truth was in there. Had he always felt that way? Had he become so immersed in his role as the Boy-Who-Lived that he had lied to himself? It was difficult for him to remember a time when he didn't feel any sort of negative feelings towards muggles, not that he had any reason to feel anything else about them, still, had he truly hate them? Though he guessed that it didn't matter, that life was over, he had to focus on the now. "So I played my part. But when I learned what Dumbledore wanted... I just couldn't let that be. They will kill us, Remus. Every man, woman, and child. I love the Wizarding World and I will do anything I can to protect it, siding with my parents killer included."
"But what made you think that they would kill us?" Remus asked, trying to understand.
"Have you met my relatives? They would gladly burn us at the stake."
"And you think that just because your relatives behave like that that every muggle will?"
Harry stared at Remus as if he were stupid and a snort left him.
"I'm not an idiot." Harry replied, a little scorn slipping into his tone, "I haven't based my opinion on the whole of the muggle society on a couple of muggles. Though what you don't seem to understand is that I'm hardly the only one. For every five muggleborns there are three that live either with an abusive or neglectful family. If that wasn't enough to tell you just how they would react you just have to turn on the telly and watch their news, or read their papers. They kill each other over their religion, over the color of their skin, over their sexual preference. What do you think they'll do to us?"
"So... You're afraid?" Remus whispered.
"Of course I'm afraid!" Harry exclaimed, his eyes shadowed, "Who wouldn't be? Can you imagine what they would do to us? I would rather preserve our people by acting than to let our world be exterminated by pretending that the muggles pose no threat."
"What about all the innocent people?" Remus asked, his tone low.
"There are no innocent muggles." was Harry's sharp reply.
"What about the children?"
Harry's eyes hardened and his magic filled the room, making it difficult to breath for a second.
"What about our children?" he almost snarled, "At least we will grant them a painless death. Do you think they would do the same to our children? They wouldn't. They would take our children and experiment on them. They wouldn't be merciful enough to grant them death."
"That's only speculation, Harry!" Remus exclaimed, jumping up from his seat, "You cannot know that they would react like that!"
"I know!" Harry roared back, his chair clattering to the floor. He was breathing heavily, barely able to contain his magic. He didn't want to hurt his family, so he was doing his best not to lose control, especially when he noticed the ice forming at his feet. He took a deep breath and tried to regain his composure, but it was so very hard, especially with the memory of all the children he hadn't been able to save swimming in his mind.
He closed his eyes, trying to forget the images in his mind. He felt arms wrap around him and he melted into the warm embrace.
"Father." he whispered, recognizing the arms holding him.
"Shh," Death murmured, "Everything's alright, little one."
"I couldn't save them." he sounded broken even to his own ears.
"I know, little one. It wasn't your fault. It was impossible to save them."
Harry just held Death closer to himself, needing the comfort that Death was so willing to give. For a moment he could pretend that there was no one but him and Death. For just a moment he could forget the rest of the world.
He had no idea how long he stayed there, though when he finally lifted his head he caught Sirius and Remus with their wands out and aiming at Death. He almost snorted at the futility of the gesture, as if a wand could in any way harm Death. Though a second later he groaned and buried his head back into Death's chest. Well, the cat was out of the bag.
"Sirius, Remus, sit down." he told them, looking back up just in time to catch the incredulous looks that both men aimed at him, "I'll explain, though you don't need to point your wands at him. Aside from the fact that you wouldn't be able to harm him even with a killing curse, he means me no harm."
Slowly both men sat down, though they kept their wands in their hand. Harry tried to get off Death's lap, only then noticing that Death had conjured a rather comfortable armchair, but his father kept his arms around him making it impossible for him to move. Though he wasn't trying all that hard to move either.
"Remus, Sirius, let me introduce you to my father, Death." he said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.
"Wh-what?" Sirius stuttered, eyes going to the figure that had his godson on his lap, for the first time noticing the otherworldly beauty of the being. He couldn't really see how he hadn't noticed that the being wasn't human; but Death? Death Death?
Harry sighed, looking far older than fourteen for a moment.
"I know what they will do because I lived it." he confessed, eyes locking on Remus, "This is my second chance, and I will not waste it."
"Second chance?" Sirius whispered, looking pained.
"Yeah. My first life... Well, I was the perfect little weapon. I did everything that Dumbledore wanted. Hell, I killed Voldemort before I turned eighteen. That would classify as me being a very successful Boy-Who-Lived, don't you think?" there was a slight smirk to his lips, "I went on and married Ginny, had three kids and my life was everything everyone had expected of me. Then the muggles found out about us. We weren't all that worried at first, we believed we would be able to beat them. We were wrong." Harry took a shuddering breath, "I was the last one of our family alive. One of the last magical people alive, as a matter of fact. I was gunned down and they laughed while I bled to death. But I died with a smile on my lips, do you know why?" when both men shook their heads Harry let a sinister smirk grace his features and his eyes showed the insanity that plagued him, "Because I knew that they would soon join me in hell, after all people can't survive on a dead planet."
Remus and Sirius were looking at him with pain filled eyes and Harry had to look away.
"Then I woke up and met Death. He gave me a second chance."
Silenced followed his confession and a part of him was afraid of how they would react. He wasn't even sure if they would believe him. The only reason why he was as calm as he was was because Death was holding him. He was sure that he wouldn't have been able to do it if he hadn't Death with him.
"A second chance? Just like that?" Remus murmured, "Second chances don't come cheap."
A dark chuckle filled the room and Sirius and Remus paled when Death looked at them.
"True, second chances don't come cheap." Harry noticed that both men shivered when they heard the dark, smooth voice, "Though it is different with Harry. Harry is my son, there is nothing I would not do for him."
"Y-your son?" Sirius spluttered.
"Yes. I have been beside Harry since the night his parents were killed. I saw him grow, I could not help but love him. When the muggles destroyed the world I was overcome with rage. They had dared to harm my son." Death's grip on Harry tightened a little, "When he came to me I told him everything and gave him the option to go back in time and create an alternate time-line where he could make different choices."
"I took that chance." Harry murmured, "I can't see our world be turned asunder again. If I have to kill every single muggle to avoid it then so be it."
Silence filled the room again, and Harry couldn't bring himself to look at his dad's friends.
Death studied the two men in front of them. He knew how much his little one cared for them which was the only reason why he had shown himself to them. He knew that Harry needed their support, not that he wouldn't survive if both of the mortals were against him, however he didn't want for his son to suffer, and having them side against him would make him suffer. He also knew that the werewolf wouldn't accept half answers. He was far more distrustful of the dark than the Black Lord and as a werewolf that had lost his pack to the dark he would be far harder to convince, especially since he saw Harry as his cub. A cub that needed to be protected at all costs.
Fortunately that was something they could agree upon. And since they had that in common he had deigned to grace them with his presence.
He caught their eyes and promised all matter of gruesome deaths if they harmed his son.
Both paled, but there was a spark in their eyes that told him that they had gotten the message and were rather pleased with it as well.
Long after Harry had gone back to Hogwarts Sirius and Remus were still in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place, both men drowning in their thoughts.
Truthfully they didn't know how to react to what Harry had told them. They believed him, that wasn't the problem, the difficulty was in accepting what Harry had told them. True, they understood why he had joined Voldemort, why he hated muggles, but that didn't make it any easier to associate a broken, adult Harry, with the fourteen year old he was supposed to be.
A part of them couldn't help but feel guilty about having left Harry alone to deal with all of it. Harry hadn't come out and told them that they had been dead, but it had been rather easy to deduce, especially since Harry told them that he had been the last of his family to live.
It was illogical, of course, but they couldn't help it.
They had both lived through a war, both had lost family and it had nearly destroyed them. So it was rather easy to see how Harry became the way he was. Both had seen the insanity that lurked beneath the anger and determination. Could they really fault him for going to the only person that would be able to relate? Not that either of them approved of Voldemort, but they could see how he would appeal to Harry, murderous tendencies included.
Remus sighed and looked at Sirius, both feeling older than they were.
"It kinda explains his performance during the tasks." Remus remarked earning a snort from Sirius.
"Does it?" Sirius muttered, "Have you ever seen anyone wield magic like that?"
"No, not really." Remus confessed after a moment, "Not even Dumbledore."
"Exactly. The war he lived through may explain many things about him, though I doubt that it explains his power. That, I think, is something that Death did."
A dark chuckle filled the room, making both men tense in their seats.
"You do have a brain in that big head of yours, mortal." Death remarked, leaning casually against the wall.
Both men stared at the immortal being in front of them, not really knowing what to do or say. Something in their very soul told them to tread carefully, that the being in front of them was far beyond anything they had ever seen. And no matter how reckless they may have been, they weren't stupid; they would listen to that something.
A smirk spread on Death's lips, and they couldn't help but shied away from the entity.
"Now that my little one isn't here, let me make something perfectly clear," Death stated, looking more menacing than it had the moment before though it hadn't moved a muscle, "You harm him in any way, shape, or form and you will learn just why the ancient Greeks called one of my personifications Keres. Do we understand each other?"
If possible Remus and Sirius became even paler, however there was a fierce light in their eyes.
"We would never hurt Harry." Sirius growled rather fiercely considering who he was talking to.
"So you say, mortal." Death murmured.
"Harry's mortal too." Remus remarked, studying Death closely, even though his wolf was telling him to flee. For his cub he would face even Death, he had always thought that, he just never expected it to be quite so literally.
He wasn't expecting for Death to laugh. If he were being completely honest it was more than a bit creepy.
"Mortal?" Death asked, "Did you think I would let my son remain mortal, when I could so easily remedy it? He may be human, a wizard, however he is no mortal."
"He... Harry's immortal?" Remus whispered.
"He is." Death confirmed, "In a few years he'll stop aging. My son has eternity waiting for him, so if he wants to play with you mortals, then it's his choice. Once he's bored with you we'll move on. Maybe he'll want to destroy a couple of worlds, or enslave one. Who knows? He has eternity to do whatever he wishes."
"You don't care?" Remus sounded a little aghast.
"I am Death. The only thing I care about is my son." Death stated, "There is a reason why beings such as myself don't form bonds. Everything, aside from us, is so ephemeral. Even amongst beings like me I am the only one that is truly immortal, all the others I will eventually take. I will end up taking the whole universe, only to see a new one be born in it's place. Can you imagine the pain of seeing everything you care for being lost to time? Can you imagine the number of universes I have seen? I was there at the very first beginning. The second something came to be I was there." when Death saw their looks he chuckled, "Of course, I just had to form an attachment to Harry. I let him live a normal life. I didn't interfere. And then the muggles came along and ruined everything. So I did what any loving father would have done. I made it better for him."
"By making him immortal?" Sirius asked, looking just as shocked as Remus.
"By giving him what he needed. The immortality is more for me than for him. Do not tell me you would be cruel enough to ask a father to give up his son." Death smile was in no way reassuring, "Either way it does not matter. Do not think, even for a second, that your opinion, or your feelings will in any way change a thing."
"Then why tell us?" Sirius almost demanded.
"For my own amusement, perhaps." Death mused.
"I don't see how it's amusing." Remus grumbled.
"Yes, well, when you have eternity you find amusement in the little things." Death smiled and vanished into thin air.
Both men seemed to breath easier, and slumped in their seats.
"Who would have thought that Death could be so frustrating." Sirius muttered.
"That's what you focus on?" Remus asked him, sounding more than a little exasperated.
Slowly Sirius nodded.
"I suppose that there are other things to focus on."
"Yes, such as Harry being a Dark Lord. Harry being immortal."
"What will we do?"
"Do you really think that there is anything we can do?" Remus muttered, "We cannot stand against Death."
"I don't think anything can stand against Death. He did create a completely new time-line just for Harry, to make him happy."
"It's somewhat intimidating, isn't it?" Remus whispered, "With Death by his side, do you think he even needs us?"
"He may not need us," Sirius replied after a couple of moments in silence, "But he did choose us. He wants us beside him."
A small chuckle left Remus and a genuine smile lip up his features.
"True. He wants us with him."
"That puts us in a spot, doesn't it?" Sirius grinned, "If we didn't stand with him in his quest to subdue, or exterminate not really sure which route he'll opt for, the muggles than that would make us rather ungrateful, wouldn't it?"
"Yeah, it would." Remus nodded gravely, though his eyes gave him away, they were twinkling with mischievous, "We'll just have to side with him in the coming war."
Silence filled the room for a heartbeat.
"Oh Merlin." Sirius whispered, the reality of the situation crashing down on them.
"We're really doing this?" Remus murmured, looking stricken, "We're betraying the Order and joining Voldemort?"
"Technically we're siding with Harry." Sirius grumbled.
"No matter how you word it, it doesn't change the fact that we are betraying the Light." Remus almost snarled.
"I know." Sirius sighed, looking so tired that Remus felt bad for snapping at him. It was hardly Sirius' fault, "Though, to be honest, I don't think I feel as guilty as I should." Sirius confessed, "It's more the Voldemort thing that's bothering me. But leaving the Light... Let's be honest here Remus, what good did the Light ever do to us?"
"I know you're bitter-"
"Damn right I'm bitter!" Sirius shouted, jumping from his seat, "Wouldn't you? They left me to rot!" Sirius growled, "It's been over a decade, Remus. What changed for you? Do werewolves have comfy jobs now? Hell, do they have rights?" when Remus looked away Sirius sat back down and took a deep breath, "It's been years Remus and nothing changed."
"And you think it will change with Voldemort?"
"I don't see how it could be worse." Sirius admitted.
Harry lay awake long after he had left Grimmauld Place. He hadn't really thought about telling Sirius and Remus the truth about himself, honestly he hadn't thought about telling anyone but Tom about himself.
He had been a little irritated with Death when he showed himself like that, about forcing him to come clean with his godfathers. However, now that he had time to think about it, he could understand why Death had done it. He knew he had been about to break and only Merlin knew what would have happened then.
He was positive that he would have hurt his godfathers if he had lost control, something he wanted to avoid at all costs. It wasn't only his magic he had to worry about now. His elemental powers were devastating if he lost control of them. From what he had found out he could have destroyed the whole block if he was powerful enough and something told him that he was.
Though now he had to deal with Remus and Sirius actually knowing the truth. He didn't really know how he would deal with all of it. He had seen how both men had reacted. They understood why he had taken the path he had, however they hadn't seem to be truly able to accept it. Though it could be that they had been far too shocked to be able to properly think about what he had told them.
That was one of the reasons why he had left as quickly as he had, the other one being that he needed a little space as well.
He sighed and closed his eyes, trying to fall asleep. He had a long day ahead of him and it would do him no good to lose sleep over something he couldn't change.
"Ready to go?" he asked Barty as soon as he arrived.
"In a minute." came the shout from the bathroom.
Harry sighed and fell into an armchair. He was a little impatient truth be told. His day had been horrible, he didn't think he could stand it a second longer and at least Tom would let him unwind. Maybe they could go hunting for a bit. He was sure that Tom wouldn't mind.
"Ready." Barty stumbled out of his room and Harry almost jumped to his feet.
"Finally." he grumbled, making Barty stop in his tracks and look at him.
"Is something wrong?" Barty asked, looking him over and Harry deflated slightly.
"I'm sorry." he murmured, letting Barty pull him closer, "It's just... well, it's been a horrible day."
"What happened?" he almost melted into Barty's embrace.
"Nothing. I don't really know why I'm so on edge. Maybe it was all those pitying looks."
"Because of the breakout and they blaming Black?"
"Yes... I don't know. Maybe I'm just tired of always having this mask on. I'm tempted to ask Tom to stay with him."
"I doubt he would refuse you." Barty replied, his arms tightening around him.
"I know, but I also know that it's better for us in the long run if I stay here."
"If it makes you miserable..."
"There are more important things."
"Not to me." Barty stated so fiercely that it took Harry by surprise.
"I'm loyal to my Lord, to his cause," Barty almost whispered, "Though I would, without a second thought, put you before all of it."
"Barty..." Harry murmured, not really knowing what to say.
"I care about you Harry. You mean the world to me, not because you are my Lord, but because you are you. I'm not asking for anything aside from your company. Please Harry, don't stop spending time with me just because of what I told you."
"I couldn't even if I wanted to." Harry whispered, only then realizing just how true that was, "You're important to me, Barty, I don't think I could stay away from you. You are one of the few people I trust, one of few that I can be myself with." Harry took a deep breath and felt his body relax even more in Barty's arms, "I don't think I could give that up."
Barty closed his eyes and buried his head in the raven locks. It was far more than he had expected for his sudden confession. Though he didn't think that Harry saw it in the light he had meant. Still it was better than nothing and he was patient, he could wait. He would wait, if it meant he could spend the rest of his life with Harry in his arms.
"Thank you." he breathed, beyond grateful at not being rejected.
"There's nothing to thank me for," Harry murmured back, "I don't think you fully realize what it means to me to have someone like you, if anyone should be thanking anyone, it should be me."
It was difficult for Barty to wrap his mind around what Harry was telling him. How could Harry feel that about him? How had he come to mean so much to his green-eyed Lord? It was something he didn't understand, but, truthfully, he didn't really care how it came to be as long as he was allowed to continue to be by his side.
Barty didn't really know how long they stayed like that, but when Harry started to pull away from him he couldn't help but tighten his arms just for a fraction of a second, showing his reluctance in letting him go. Not only in letting him go, but in going to his Lord.
He knew he wasn't the only one that wanted to be with Harry. His Lord's possessiveness had been clear for all to see, though he found it somewhat funny that Harry seemed to be the only one who hadn't caught on to it.
However he had no idea if his Lord simply wanted Harry because of his power or if there was something more to it. He had never seen his Lord shown interest in anyone, at least not the way he was showing Harry. Sure, it was a known fact that their Lord took Death Eaters to his bed. Though that was all it had been. Taking them to bed. There was no illusion about what it meant to their Lord. They all knew that they had been nothing more than a one night stand, sometimes not even one night, just a quick fuck after a particularly stimulating raid.
But the way his Lord looked at Harry... He had never seen his Lord look at anyone like that.
A part of him, the part that was a loyal, Inner Circle Death Eater, wanted to step down. To let his Lord have Harry. However another part of him rebelled against it with everything he was. Just thinking that someone else could be with Harry... he didn't think he had ever felt so murderous. He would fight for Harry, even against his Lord.
"We should get going." Harry murmured, and Barty nodded.
It felt somewhat wrong to leave things as they were, as if there were things that had been left unsaid. However he had promised himself that he wouldn't push Harry, he would keep his promise.
"Lead the way." he said, finally pulling away from Harry.
Harry caught his eyes for a second. Trying to see if everything was alright between them and Barty did his best to assure him. Seemingly satisfied Harry turned away and left his quarters, Barty following him.
Soon they were out of the wards and Harry apparated them to Tom's study.
Harry grumbled a bit when he landed, since Barty's arm around his waist was the only reason why he hadn't landed on his ass.
"I just can't get the hang of apparating with other people. I always stumble." he complained, ignoring Barty's chuckle.
"No one's perfect," an amused voice coming from behind them replied, "Aside from me, of course."
"Of course." Harry replied, a fond smile on lips, "No one but you could possibly be perfect, Tom."
Barty's arm left him and he could feel Barty standing straighter and bowing.
"Barty." Tom nodded, "Was there something you needed?" which Harry translated to, 'What the hell are you doing here?'.
"I asked him to come." Harry interjected, "I didn't want to meet the Lestranges alone and Barty is their friend, so..."
"I see." Tom got up from his seat, "They are still in the infirmary. From all the Death Eaters those three are some of the worse off."
"I can understand that." Harry muttered, "They were in the high security section, with 24/7 dementor presence."
"Yes." Tom looked grave, "If they weren't as strong as they are I doubt they would have been coherent."
"How about all the others?" Harry asked.
"There's a bit of everything." Tom sighed, looking exhausted, "Extreme cases of fatigue and malnutrition, pneumonia, broken bones... It will take a while to have them all in top condition. We'll have to go over some plans."
"Alright," Harry nodded, "I'll just look into the Lestranges, I would rather they know it's me before all the others. Then I'll come here and we'll talk before I go back to Hogwarts with Barty."
"Alright." Tom agreed easily, knowing why Harry wanted to meet the Lestranges first. Harry had told him all about Bellatrix's obsession with him, not only that but also how utterly insane she had become.
It was hard for him to hear about something like that. Bella had been one of his favorite Death Eaters. She was almost a female version of Barty. Truly loyal to him. It was one of the reasons why he had trained them personally, they had deserved it. To know just how broken one of them was... well, it was hard. No matter what people said about him he took care of his Death Eaters, at least of those that deserved it. Knowing that there was nothing he could do about this left a sour taste in his mouth. He wasn't used to feeling powerless.
Harry smiled at Tom and dragged Barty with him out of the office.
"I don't think you realize how strange it is to see you and my Lord interacting." Barty muttered.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, still dragging Barty behind him.
"No one talks to my Lord like you do." Barty clarified.
"Well, I'm not one of his followers, so it's only natural that I have a little bit more freedom."
"If you say so." Barty murmured, though his eyes betrayed his disbelief.
"Now, are you ready to protect me from your slightly less sane friends?" Harry asked him when they approached the infirmary doors.
"Of course." Barty replied seriously, "I wouldn't let anyone harm you, even my friends."
Harry smiled, believing every word from Barty. Before that day he may have been a little skeptical, however after the declaration Barty made just a little earlier it made it difficult to believe otherwise.
He opened the doors, slipping inside without attraction the attention of the healers moving around.
"Where do you think they are?" he asked Barty, looking over the beds.
"They are Inner Circle members, it's probable that they are in private rooms. Or at least one private room, so that they can stay together but still separated from the rest." Barty replied, looking around, "This aren't all the Death Eaters we broke out of Azkaban."
"Then we have no choice," Harry said gravely, "We'll have to face the beasts."
Barty couldn't quite contain his snort when he saw Harry approaching one of the healers as if he were walking to his own execution.
A short conversation later and Harry was scouring away as if he were running from the devil himself. It amused Barty to no end to see that Harry could face his Lord head on but was afraid of healers.
Harry narrowed his eyes when he saw his amused expression.
"Don't say anything." Harry threatened.
"My lips are sealed." Barty murmured, a smirk on his lips, "Your fear of Healers is safe with me."
"They are worse than the devil himself." Harry muttered, looking away sullenly.
"Fine, fine." Barty raised his hands in surrender, "Did he tell you where they are?"
"Yes," Harry nodded, "They are in the last room. The healer said they should be awake, since they took their potions a while ago."
"Let's go than." Barty couldn't quite hide his excitement, "I haven't see them in so long." the longing was hard to mask, but he also knew that Harry wouldn't judge him for it.
"I'm sure that they are anxious to see you too." Harry smiled at him, "Come." Harry pulled him and Barty let him lead them towards the room his friends were in.
Though part of him was a little afraid of seeing just how damaged they were. The glimpse he had of them in Azkaban wasn't enough to see how they were. However his Lord's words were not encouraging. He was truly afraid of how Azkaban had affected them.
"Don't worry," Harry whispered, "Everything will be alright."
"What if... what if Azkaban broke them?"
"From what I know of the Lestranges they are far to strong to be broken by Azkaban." Harry told him full of confidence, "They may be a little out of shape but they aren't broken."
Barty nodded. He took a deep breath when he saw that they had stopped in front of the door.
"Ready?" Harry asked, squeezing his hand.
"Yes." he nodded, taking strength from Harry's presence.
Harry gave him one last smile and opened the door.
Barty felt his breath catch when he saw his three friends on the hospital beds.
He hadn't really noticed in Azkaban, but they looked so frail. It looked as if a breeze would be able to shatter them.
Rabastan was the first to look at them. He barely glanced at Harry before his eyes landed on Barty and widened.
"Barty." came the raspy whisper from Rabastan, catching the attention of the other two who looked at them.
They seem to completely ignore Harry's presence, at least for the moment.
"I thought I had imagined it." Rodolphus murmured, "You were there though, you took us out of Azkaban."
Barty walked towards them, as if in a trance, nodding numbly at Rodolphus.
"Yes," he agreed, "I was there. Our Lords allowed me to be there, even though I'm currently on a mission."
"Lords?" Rabastan frowned, "That was true too?"
Their eyes finally locked on Harry who was still standing by the door.
"You look a bit like the blood traitor." Bellatrix said, "Like Potter." she added.
"I should hope so," Harry replied, standing beside Barty, "I'm his son."
"Potter!" Bellatrix snarled, her hand going to a wand that wasn't there.
"Watch your tone, Bella." Barty growled, his wand already out and pointing at her, visibly surprising the other three.
"Barty?" Rabastan questioned, looking a bit hurt.
"He's our Lord, Lord Phobos." Barty replied, his wand never wavering, "He brought our Lord back to his prime. He may be the Boy-Who-Lived, but he is on our side, and our Lord trusts him."
"Our Lord trusts no one." Rodolphus deep voice stated, though there was a slight trace of curiosity to his tone.
"He trusts him." Barty repeated, with such certainty that even Bellatrix stopped her glaring, "Harry, show them the locket."
Curious about what Barty wanted with the locket Harry pulled it from under his shirt.
The moment their eyes landed on it they froze, Bellatrix even palling a little.
"You know what this is." Harry realized and in a second his wand was out, pointing at them. Tom had never told anyone about his horcruxes, "How do you know what it is?" he demanded, losing his grasp on his elements making the room grow colder and darker, "Answer me!" he exclaimed, when the three Lestranges where still frozen. He ignored Barty's still form, knowing that the man must have known what it was too, had probably known since that night he had slept in Barty's room.
"I'm a Black." Bellatrix replied, "I knew what it was the moment the Dark Lord gave one to me to keep safe." she sounded saner than he had ever heard her, which was saying something, "I told Barty, Rodolphus, and Rabastan, so they could help me securing it. They needed to know just how important it was." she glanced at the locket, "How do you know what it is?"
"That doesn't matter." Harry replied, his wand lowering, "I'll have to tell Tom that you know-"
"He'll kill us." Rabastan stated.
"He won't," Harry replied, "He may be displeased that his secret isn't as secret as he thought, but he won't kill you. Though he'll probably want to increase the security on all of them, not counting the ones I have."
"You have more than one?" Bellatrix asked, looking a little shocked.
"He gave me three." Harry replied, seeing no harm in telling them.
"Three?" Bellatrix breathed the word in wonder.
Well, technically Tom had given him two, but he counted the one inside of him too.
"Our Lord must truly trust him." Rodolphus murmured, "I can't help but wonder what's so special about you to not only make one of our brothers turn against us at the mere hint of a threat but also make our Lord trust you so."
Harry gave them a feral grin, surprising them a little.
"I guess you'll have to wait to see, won't you?"
Bellatrix gave a delighted cackle.
"I think I like you, little Lord." she grinned at him, looking somewhat unhinged.
"Yay." Harry deadpanned making Barty laugh.
Harry even spied a smirk on Rabastan's lips. Considering the last time he had seen the man he had been throwing killing curses at him, Harry considered this introduction to be an overwhelming success.
A.N.: Well the new chapter is up. I hope you all enjoyed it. At least we got a little more Death, which is always welcome in my book, he's kinda adorable. I can hardly wait to have Tom meeting him, it will be so much fun. At least for me it will be, Tom won't find it half as funny as I :P
We had a bit of the Lestranges as well :D They'll come to like Harry, at the moment they are more curious about him than truly liking or respecting him. Aside from Bella, of course. She's complicated. She likes Harry because, apparently, her Lord does and that's enough for her. But on the other hand she's slightly unhinged and there will be clashes between them, especially when Sirius' involved.
Next chapter there will be meetings between Tom and Harry, a little bonding between certain characters, the third task, and important announcements.
I'll do my very best to have this chapter up sooner, however I have to work on the others as well, I don't want to neglect any of my stories.
For those who follow more than this story of mine, the next update will be Rise of a Dark Lord.
I want to thank all of you for your support. It means a lot to me that you stick with me despite my irregular updates. I try to have it up as fast as I can but, unfortunately, life does get in the way. However I want to make it clear that I won't ever abandon my stories. I started them and I will finish them.
On another note, I have a few other stories that I'm working on. I haven't posted them yet but I am working on them. I was wondering if you would like for me to post them, or if you would prefer for me to finish these and only then post a new one. In terms of updates it wouldn't change anything, since I would still work on the other stories, just as much as I do now. The only change would be that there would be a few more stories to read on my profile.