Title: Right Of Caste
Category: Books » Harry Potter
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Published: 05-12-08, Updated: 07-18-12
Chapters: 18, Words: 70,528
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
-Just a little something I thought up. Not sure if it'll go anywhere, but since my other fics are winding down I didn't think it would hurt to start a new one. Definitely going to be a Harry/Voldemort fic folks. If this doesn't interest you you should probably get your kicks elsewhere. Title might change too. We shall see.
July came blistering through the United Kingdom with its tepid heat. It killed the grass, brought out the bugs and sent bodies fleeing into every spare inch of space they could find to get out of its burning touch. Rancid sweat and grime clung to human skin and brought the flies out in torrents to buzz around garbage piles and discarded waste.
But there was nothing for it. The Dark Revel could not be canceled, not two days from the event in question. Everything was already set in motion. Severus Snape had been helping the United Federation Of Dark Arts Practitioners organize this event for months now, and this year the United Kingdom had been chosen to sponsor the event. They couldn't stop it now. Everything was already underway.
But boy, no cooling charm would reach his skin or keep the sweat off of brow.
Its a good thing the Revel is a night event, rather than during the day. I don't think anybody could have handled it.
He had already stripped off his outer robes, switched out his heavy jacket for a light shirt, and had amused Lucius Malfoy to no end by finally donning a pair of khaki shorts.
"Muggle clothes may not be sophisticated and decent, but they're practical," Severus had argued. "I'll make sure to switch to wizards robes before the others come, have no fear. But first I need to get all this paperwork done."
Which was what he was doing now. Going through all the requests for attendance, counting the registration funds, ordering supplies for the event, going over every last name in question for possibly suspicious links. No way in hades would somebody get into this event without being firmly entrenched in the Dark Arts or a Dark Arts family.
Unless of course they were youths. Youths were the reason for this two week celebration to begin with; new recruits. Every Dark magic user with eyes to rule the world, from the United States to Japan, used the Revel as a recruitment center. Educational demonstrations, dances, cook outs, camp outs, match making, it was a teenage Dark wizard's holiday.
Lots of fresh blood.
In this manner the Federation was more adept in making international allies then the Ministry of Magic. With recruits for each organized group coming from every country possible it made for great networking. Severus Snape was worried though as he looked through his lists and lists of people.
So many people are registering, it could be possible the Ministry will try to infiltrate the event...Anyone fourteen to seventeen who is invited by a relative or friend can come into the event unchallenged.
Severus was just about pondering some iced pumpkin juice, and a break, when Lucius came slowly walking into his workroom, a letter in his hand and his hands clutching what must have been money. He looked very hot in his summer robes, but wouldn't accede a single note to Muggle practicality over Wizarding pride.
Salazar...just looking at him makes me want to take off another layer. I don't know how he can handle this heat!
Lucius was helping him register people for the event, down to the last minute. Which was why they were already set up with their tent at the camp grounds, rather than staying back at Headquarters with their Lord. They had to personally make sure everything went smoothly and that the Ministry couldn't get one foot inside the grounds.
"Severus..." Lucius said vaguely, as he scanned the letter in his hands. "I do believe I have a most interesting applicant here..."
"All of them are rather interesting," Severus chuckled. "What makes this one so interesting?"
"Well, its a relative," Malfoy passed over the letter to Severus. "My nephew, Jonathan, whom I haven't seen since he was three years old."
What on Earth...? Severus thought wildly. I thought Jonathan Malfoy was dead?
But he disguised his shock well.
"Well well well," Severus chuckled. "I thought your brother was ignoring with you?"
"Ignatius is pretty hands off with the Dark Arts and me, it true. His wife Mary was more well acquainted with the Old Ways. But he pressured her into the marriage, and into moving to the United States. I haven't heard from my brother in years."
Severus picked over the letter slowly. What was going on? Who was trying to get into the event under the disguise of this dead youth?
"Your nephew, what can you tell me about him?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing," Lucius shook his head miserably. "Ignatius didn't want me influencing him negatively, so he hasn't ever visited me. Narcissa has met him twice when he was little, but she and Mary had a falling out as well. But the boy has had so many health problems he spends most of his time in hospitals. They've had to home school him. I'm surprised he's managing to make this trip. But he's seventeen now, so its likely he's no longer living with his parents."
Somebody is using Jonathan as a cover...and Lucius doesn't even know! He doesn't know his own nephew is dead! What are Mary and Ignatius up to?
"Sounds like adolescent rebellion may be his reason for coming to the Revel," Severus said, and looked up at Lucius pointedly. "Do I add him?"
Lucius actually hesitated a moment, smoothing the coins in his fingers with his thumb and forefinger for several moments before finally nodding and dropping them into the pile with the rest of the money on the table.
"Yes...for a chance to wrest control of my estranged nephew from my brother, and to finally have a family member Draco's age that he can befriend, I think it is worth the lack of knowledge I have of my nephew's allegiances. It might help smooth things over for me with our Lord if I give him another fresh young man to try and initiate."
"He's a youth, so he'd be able to enter the campgrounds either way," Severus said pointedly, putting the name into the book of registered applicants with a shaking hand. "And youths are the easiest to recruit. Lets hope that he chooses to recruit with us, instead of the other powers that may show up at the Revel."
This comment brought a change of light to Lucius' eyes, a change from confusion to concern.
"Our Lord will reinstate his control over the United Kingdom I'm sure. But I fear he may have some work to do if he wants to control the Federation."
"I'm sure our Lord can handle it," Severus said, vaguely putting down his quill. "I just hope that the Federation doesn't underestimate his power and authority again. I would hate to see the Federation fall."
"As would I. Our world is full of muggles and filth and half-breeds. We must maintain a purely wizarding unity, and the Federation does this with excellence."
I only hope that our Lord doesn't try to take over the Federation and control it. Too many strong leaders have risen in our world who would take issue with this. And the Dark Lord isn't the only person now who is capable of using the Unforgiveables. The Federation no longer fears him as they once did, and he is vulnerable without his Horcruxes. Will he understand? Will he accept it? Will he accede the power lines gracefully?
Their only hope was that Lord Voldemort listened to the sage advice of Severus Snape, his most faithful servant. That he didn't try to take things into his own hands too soon or too quickly.
I am the only chair member in the Federation who is a Death Eater. It will come down to whether our Lord wishes to take my seat, or whether he'll leave me in charge of dealing with the Federation. We shall soon see.
Everyone in the kitchen at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place jerked their heads when an owl soared into the open window without fuss, a letter clutched in its talons. It flew down to Harry Potter without much presentation, and dropped the letter into his lap.
"Hm," said Harry, then he looked around at the rest of the Order of the Phoenix. "The Malfoy Seal. I guess I should open it."
"Go ahead Harry," said Kingsley. "We've been waiting for this, no need to put it off."
It was an intense moment of their staring at him, and biting their lips, as he carefully tore the edge of the envelope and pulled out the contents within. One was a letter from Ignatius Malfoy, which he carefully read over twice. There was also second envelope, which he dutifully opened. Inside it were two slips of paper. One was a letter, and one was a receipt of payment.
"Yes, I'm in!" said Harry with a grin. "Excellent!"
Everyone exhaled in relief.
"Remind me to thank Ignatius and Mary for keeping their son's death a secret all these years," said Kingsley with a heady breath of relief. "It has given us an unsurmountable advantage."
"We can't trust them though," Moody said solemnly. "I think we should keep the Order watching them while Potter is away."
"I agree," said Minerva McGonagall. "Once Potter infiltrates the Revel he'll have his chance, this one chance, to destroy Lord Voldemort once and for all. Nothing can get in his way."
A silence filled the kitchen and Harry held the papers in shaking hands.
"You understand that there will be nothing we can do to help you once you enter the Revel?" Remus Lupin said firmly. "It'll all be under a Secret Keeper spell for certain, and unsurmountable wards and traps and protections..."
"I understand," Harry said. "Hopefully things will go smoothly. Nobody would suspect a Malfoy of doing anything untoward. I'll slip right through without so much as another glance."
"Looking forward to being anonymous are you?" he said knowingly.
Harry smiled and ran a hand roughly through his hair.
"Things have certainly been different without the scar," said Harry. "If only I had know earlier I that it could be removed, I would have done it years ago. Would have saved me some unfortunate headaches...and some pain..."
Another long silence in which Molly Weasley could do nothing but weep. Then Minerva McGonagall stood.
"We'd best get started your appearance modifications then," said she. "We have two days to make you look like a Malfoy, and then the Malfoys themselves will be here to drill you on their personal information, and then you'll be off."
"Oh Harry," said Hermione, for the first time since the meeting began. "If only we could go with you!"
"You all have done so much for me already," said Harry, taking her hand to squeeze gently. "And I love you all for it."
"Remember to keep your hatred of those people well guarded," said Moody gruffly, making quite dismally his own sorrow. "I've taught you Occlumency and everything you need to know. You do the rest right, and you'll have smooth sailing."
Harry nodded firmly, and crushed the receipt in his hand. In the end, nothing mattered but destroying Lord Voldemort once and for all, and possibly some his followers too. It all depended upon this last act of courage.
"Good luck Harry," said Arthur Weasley quietly. "You'll be in our prayers."
Morning fell in a sprinkle of rain as Harry approached the dark forest with some trepidation. His heart was pounding fearfully, but he took a deep breath and slowed his pace to a calmer speed. He was rushing, but if he didn't go at this calmly he would mess it up.
His transformation was startling. Even he hadn't recognized himself. A hair dying potion had basically bleached his hair. They had gone at his hair with every hair styling spell they could come up with until they had settled on a softer curled style that matched the pictures of baby Jonathan and his mother.
His eyes were now a blue-gray that reminded Harry much of his own father's eyes. Until of course they started the transfiguration work to change the angle of his eyes, his mouth, and to give his nose more of a point. These transformations wouldn't last forever though; he had until the end of the month until he started turning back into a Potter again. But for the time being he was pretty and blond.
I look like a curly haired Draco!
With some rather expensive robes tucked away in his shiny new trunk emblazoned with the Malfoy family crest and colors, he walked across the grass towards the entry point, keeping the rain off of his blond head with a charm. His current clothing was a somber dark blue cloak kept closed with a silver serpent and M letter broach that Harry couldn't begin to guess the cost of, but had once been a gift from Lucius Malfoy to his brother many years past. His new adoptive family had spent many weeks previous teaching him everything from manners to family gossip and everything he needed to answer every potential question. From table etiquette to Narcissa Malfoy's middle name, he knew it all.
At least he hoped he did. He was losing his nerve now as he got closer to the dark rainy camp grounds, with its misty trees and its dark mysterious valley. He saw nothing in the darkness ahead of him, save for a long wooden table, which was the checkpoint he had to pass to obtain the Secret Keeper letter he needed to discover the location of the Revel. A group of men were crowded around it making some sort of commotion and being kept back at wand point by a pair of ugly looking guards.
"Come on Grady," said a voice that was quite familiarly Stan Shunpike's voice. "I just got outta prison, have a heart!"
"We don't let idiots and Ministry squealers into the Revel," said the man behind the table.
The men all started talking and complaining at once, two men actually tried to bribe their way in and two threatened to do bodily harm to the table attendant if he didn't get them a meeting with the registrar immediately.
I'll never get in at this rate...time for drastic measures...
Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it at the crowd. At once the people there were levitated and shunted off to the sides, parting like the red sea and giving Harry a clear path to the table. Everyone went simultaneously silent as he approached, his trunk wheels squelching in the wet grass as he walked forward, not saying a word.
This table was being sheltered from the rain in the same manner as Harry, with a charm. The attendant, Grady, gave him a stunned and slightly grateful look. Grady was dressed in rain gear and low class threads, so normally anyone with the Malfoy name wouldn't have given the man a second look. But being that the man was in an obvious position of power, Harry did look at him, vaguely, and nodded, passing over his registration letter.
"Jonathan Malfoy," said Harry, his own voice sounding unfamiliar to himself after weeks of training to give him an upper crust accent, with a slight American twang. The only thing that couldn't be changed permanently with a spell was a voice, and this was the one thing they agreed would need to be changed by habit and practice rather than magic.
But it had its effect. Everyone stayed silent as Grady went through the lists.
"You're on here," said Grady, who then passed him a sealed envelope and a booklet. "Here is your letter and itinerary, do not share the contents of this letter with anybody and make sure to burn the Secret Keeper letter once you have it memorized."
"Thank you, kindly," Harry said with a nod, taking the packet, and moved around the table away from the gawking group towards the dark trees beyond. He turned around and glared at the rowdy group, as if daring them to try and follow him to peek at his letter, before slitting the envelope open and pulling out the piece of paper.
Hah, I thought so, thought Harry as he read it. Spelled so only one person can ever read it. But just in case...
He burned it. And vanished the ashes. Now, with the contents memorized, he looked at the forest and smiled. There was a clear path through the trees to the camp ground he now knew lay beyond it, and he took that path resolutely.
Now all I need to do is convince Lucius Malfoy that I'm his nephew, get past Snape's keen radar, and settle myself into the camp as if I were one of them, just another Dark Wizard.
Easier said then done. The camp grounds were a bustle of heady activity, mostly centered upon sheltering people and objects from the unexpected rain. Some braver men were plying their wares to the quickly passing crowds, most of them offering some sort of shady rain apparatuses or quick drying clothes and the like. Women, very lewdly dressed women, were curling up to the menfolk with appreciative glances. Harry had to do a double-take at this; these were in fact the men's wives and they weren't lewdly dressed, the rain had simply plastered their silk dresses to their skin.
In fact, the people running back and forth weren't fleeing from the rain, they actually seemed to be enjoying themselves, in fact, they were reveling in it!
Well, even Dark wizards need a break from the heat I suppose.
Harry wove his way through the crowds, feeling his nerves standing on end as he went in the direction of what could only be the registrar's tent. It had a big red painted sign that said 'Registrar's Office' on it.
Now here I am...I'm suppose to get my supplies and my tent assignment and...
It took two shouts of the name for Harry to remember that this was his own name now and he was the one being addressed. Harry jerked upright, and turned his head around to identify the speaker.
Didn't have to wait to long to pick out Lucius Malfoy in the crowd. The blond haired Death Eater was fast approaching him with long paced strides and a nervous smile on his face.
"Uncle?" said Harry, forcing himself to smile though he wanted to tear the man's blond hair out of his head. "Uncle Lucius?"
"Nephew!" said Malfoy brightly. "I haven't seen you since you were baby! Stand still, let me look at you. Ah," the man seemed to take in a deep breath. "You look like your father all right. Mother's curls though. Goodness gracious. You could be Draco's twin. Ah, but I'll have to take you to meet him! Have you registered yet? Lets get that done first, no time like the present!"
Harry was shuffled without any ceremony into the registration tent and Malfoy quickly and smoothly maneuvered him through the crowd inside, much to the dismay of those who had been waiting here in line.
"Severus, look who it is!" said Malfoy proudly. "My nephew Jonathan!"
Harry had to mask his astonishment quickly as the greasy haired bane of his existence slipped out from behind his table to indeed come have a look. Severus Snape hadn't changed a hair since Harry had last seen him, save for the fact that he was soaking wet, said hair plastered to his face, which signified to Harry that he had been much too busy to shield himself from the rain with a spell.
Or maybe he was revelling in the rain too...
"Salazar preserve me," the man said, a strange choking sound to his voice and eyes that made Harry feel pointedly uncomfortable. "He looks just like Draco."
"Just for the curls," Malfoy said, fingering Harry's hair, and Harry pointedly jerked his head away. "Jonathan, this is Severus Snape," he gestured to the man with a leisurely hand. "My best friend of many years and the organizer of this event. Shake hands with him then, mind your manners."
Harry did shake hands with Snape, forcing the bile to stay in his stomach as he put on a weak smile. The man was staring at him.
"Its a pleasure to meet you Mister Snape," said Harry, remembering to put the twang to his voice. "I've read about you in Uncle's letters."
"Ah, so Mary was sharing her post with you," said Malfoy at once. "I wasn't sure...Oh, Severus, before I forget, he is sharing with Draco isn't?"
"Yes," said Snape, rolling his eyes as if that question had been asked a billion times already. "I've already done his registration, let me just get his envelope and you can show him where he's staying. Don't worry about supplies, I've made sure his tent was stocked up."
"Excellent, come along then Jonathan. Draco has just been frantic to meet you. I'm sure you'll be just like brothers."
Right, thought Harry sourly as he was shuffled out into the rain again. Brothers...If I don't strangle him on sight.
No, it wasn't going to be easy, this impersonation of another person. But Harry was going to do it, no matter what the costs.
For Dumbledore...for Sirius...Cedric...my parents. Everyone else who has lost their lives to these miserable shits. I'll do it for them. So help me, if I have to become Draco Malfoy's best buddy I'll do it; if it means putting an end to Lord Voldemort once and for all!
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
-Here's the other bit. No this isn't a really quick update, the other chapter was written yesterday and this today. I may not do daily updates for this, but it'll be often enough as I get more into the juicy bits of the story. ;)
"Come along Jonathan, hurry! I want you to meet my friends from school!"
Harry had to pointedly suck down his disgust at following Draco like a lapdog as he wove through the crowd. The rain had not let up and so the entertainments that were to be had were taking place mostly indoors this evening. But that wasn't going to stop the teenagers from having fun, as they were already partying in the main tent, leaving the adults to do their important business elsewhere.
Rain rain, go away, little Death Eater wants to play...
The introductions had gone smoothly. Draco had quickly taken to Harry, eager to show the 'new kid' the ropes. Harry had been startled by how large opulent their tent was, the fact that the Malfoys had their own dining space and kitchen, and a house elf to serve the two of them.
Felby was introduced quickly to Harry with a snap of Draco's fingers.
"Felby this is Jonathan, my cousin and a Malfoy. You serve him, and come when he calls your name. Understood?"
The house-elf gave Harry an up and down look, then nodded, wide eyed. Felby was a slightly rotund male house-elf with tiny ears, beady eyes and a stubby nose. Sort of the opposite of Dobby.
"Does Master Jonathan need anything from Felby?" asked the elf, bowing low.
"No thank you Felby," said Harry politely. "I'm fine for the time being."
The house elf squeaked at the 'thank you' then Draco sent him back to the kitchen.
"You're certainly polite," said Draco pointedly. "Even saying thank you to the servants."
"My mother says an unhappy elf can quickly become a traitor," Harry stated, remembering the things Mary had told him. "But even the smallest kindness can breed great loyalty in servants."
"Hm," said Draco, looking Harry up and down as if testing him for faults. "You sound American all right. Even got that American working class liberties thing going don't you? Well, I suppose we Malfoys could learn from that. We did have one house-elf betray us..."
Harry had to hold down his smirk, remembering how he helped free Dobby from the cruel Malfoys not long ago. But then Draco had taken his arm and steered him away from their tent out into the rain.
"Probably the lot of them are gossiping with those kids from Germany," Draco scoffed, as he strode forward in the rain through empty rows. "It looks like people finally got tired of the rain and went indoors."
The main tent was simply a large pavilion with chairs, tables with refreshments and a stage for the band. The Brass Monocle Brigade was the group currently on stage, and they were playing a very slow waltz for the dancing partners on the floor.
"Don't eat any of the food," Draco warned him pointedly. "You can carry a drink to look polite but don't drink any of it. You never know when somebody will put a potion in the food to stir things up. Or alcohol. Always eat in our kitchen, only what Felby makes for you."
Harry wouldn't have minded a bit of alcohol at this point, as he was led with great reluctance over to the tangle of familiar Slytherin students who had always made fun of Harry and his friends all through Hogwarts.
Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were, as usual, stuffing their faces with food, quite alternative to Draco's warnings of possible poisoning. Theodore Nott sat watching the girls with something of a look of amusement; Blaise Zabini was trying, without success, to get Daphne Greengrass to dance with him. Pansy Parkinson and her friend Milicent Bulstrode were laughing at his attempts, jointed by some other young people Harry didn't recognize, probably the Germans Draco had mentioned, and one other girl who was far to familiar for comfort.
Cho Chang. Harry's heart started beating very quickly in his chest.
"Hello Draco," said Pansy in fluttery adoration, rising to go over and kiss his cheek. "Who's this handsome fellow you've brought with you?"
"My cousin from America, Jonathan Malfoy. Jonathan, this is my girlfriend Pansy Parkinson, and all my good friends from Hogwarts."
Quick introductions followed, and Harry soon learned, amongst all the other gossip, that Cho Chang was dating Theodore Nott and had been invited to the Revel by him and his parents. She looked like she didn't want to be there, but she was very polite to Harry when introduced.
"So tell us Jonathan, what is America like?" said Pansy, taking immediate interest in it. "I've wanted to visit America, but mother says its painfully pro-muggle there."
Harry immediately pulled up memories everything he knew about wizarding New York that Hermione had drilled him on from books, and the memories that Mary and Ignatius had given him to study of their home and community.
"Very muggle," Harry said, putting a haughtiness to the twang of his voice. "It was such a relief coming to England, and being able to walk up and down Diagon Alley as a wizard."
"I'm sure that once the Federation has finished uniting Europe there will be some changes," said a German girl named Tania. "We'll be able to do magic anywhere."
"Thats certainly what the Dark Lord is planning for England, Federation or not," said Draco firmly. "He has been making headway with the Ministry, soon he'll untangle all those tired old misuse of magic laws. Good gracious. I did a report on this for History of Magic, of course Binns didn't so much as look at the thing. You'd think they'd take care of that too, get a proper teacher in, why..."
It went on like this for some length, and Harry found an opportunity to learn more about what was happening at the revel.
"...fireworks. I heard father say that they bought out the entire stock from Gambol and Japes, and those blasted Weasley Twins as well. You'd think we'd avoid doing business with that sort."
"Now Draco," said Pansy. "The more the merrier. Those twins will be worth the effort to try and recruit, and the quickest way to a Weasley's heart is gold. Just have to pay em enough."
"Surely," said Draco. "Its disgusting the way the Weasleys fawn over Potter, as if some of his fame and fortune would rub off on them."
"Hah! They wish!"
Harry had to stifle the very loud protest that was quivering at the tip of his tongue as the Slytherins laughed at this. Tania didn't seem to understand the joke, just stirred her drink pensively.
"Jonathan, are you quite well?" she said suddenly. "You look rather flushed."
"My stomach is a bit unsteady," Harry countered quickly, smiling at her politely. "It must've been the portkey trip. Would y'all be offended if I left your company in search of a potion and some sleep?"
"No, not at all," said Pansy, and she hugged him and actually kissed his cheek. "We'll have plenty of chances to talk later."
"Do talk to Snape first for a potion before going to the tent," said Draco. "He's the best potions master there is."
Harry nodded, then turned to flee the tent amidst the laughing conversation of the young people.
Too close...that was too close. Get a grip Harry! Remember what's at stake here!
Harry was so distracted that he completely forgot which direction he was going in and ran smack face first into another person.
"Oh my goodness, I'm sorry," he said at once, shaking himself and standing. "Did I hurt...you...?"
Harry stared. There, standing right in front of him like the incarnation of Death, was Lord Voldemort. Dressed in dark emerald robes and protected by waterproofing charms which befitted the weather. His hood was up, and Harry could detect just the subtlest signs of gray hair starting to grow in on his crown.
The wizard looked at Harry for a good moment or two, then did something that completely startled Harry.
He smiled, and offered his hand.
"No harm done young man. You must be Lucius's nephew Jonathan. He bored my ear off chatting to me of you this morning. I, of course, am Lord Voldemort. You may refer to me as My Lord, or Sir. Here then," the man actually reached down to lift Harry by the hand into standing. "That's better now."
Harry realized he was standing there like a fish with his mouth agape, but he feared if he spoke a word he'd say something he would firmly regret that would get him killed.
Something like 'I detest you and want to kill you.'
Instead he said, "Thank you kindly sir."
"You're very welcome," said Voldemort, startling him even further. "Lucius also said how very quiet and polite you were. You do look a little pale though."
"Stomach," Harry immediately said. "Portkey ride was horrible. D-Draco sent me to find...Mister Snape...for a potion."
"Ah I see," said Voldemort immediately, and put a hand on Harry's shoulder. "I'll take you to Severus, he'll look after you."
Harry was so startled and astonished by this that he had to force his most polite smile and his strongest mental shields as Voldemort casually commented on the weather, asked him about his family, then directed him to the Registrar's Tent with a gentle shove to his back.
"Run along now young man. I'll be sure to let your Uncle know I've met you. He's all about proper introductions, but accidents do happen from time to time and he'll be quite upset he wasn't there for our meeting."
"Yes, and thanks again sir, it was interesting meeting you."
Voldemort raised an eyebrow at this, and turned to go back to whatever destination he had been headed in before he had been in before their unfortunate encounter.
Harry took a deep breath and counted to ten. He had just gone through an entire meeting with Voldemort, quite by accident, and had come out of it without getting himself killed.
Good gravy, this is harder than I had predicted! Now I have to go see Snape again and...
But the moment he approached Snape, who was alone in his tent, the man grabbed him harshly by the arm and threw a silencing shield up around the tent so tight it practically vibrated.
"Are you insane?" the man snarled, shaking him firmly. "If I hadn't taken an Unbreakable Vow with Albus swearing to protect you I'd kill you myself!"
Harry jerked, and stared in horror at Snape.
"You...you know who I am?"
"I damn well do!" said Snape pointedly, letting Harry go. "I damn well do, because I know that the real Jonathan Malfoy is dead! Mary and Ignatius damn well asked me for help with trying to cure their son of an incurable cancer with potions, and I was there when he died. What game is the Order trying to play now by sending you here?"
Harry glared, not answering. Snape crossed his arms, waiting.
"I'm not telling a murderous little traitor like you," said Harry hotly. "But you can guess it has to do with killing Vol..."
"Hush!" said Severus. "Don't say the name!"
"I don't have the scar anymore," Harry said, raising the curls on his head so Snape could see. "I've gotten rid of that link. So he can't spy on me anymore and doesn't know where I am, even if I say his name. We aren't connected any longer."
"Ah," said Snape, swallowing. "The Dark Lord was wondering if perhaps you were sick or dying...or if you had mastered Occlumency after all."
"I did that too," said Harry thickly. "So now what are you going to do?"
"Well," said Snape pointedly, striding around a table to sit in the chair behind it. "Nothing."
"Absolutely nothing," said Snape. "If I revealed you or put you in danger I would be breaking my vow with Albus and that would get me six feet under faster than betrayal of the Dark Lord would. But I'm warning you Potter. If he so much as even suspects..."
"He doesn't...I mean...I just bumped into him, and nothing untoward happened," said Harry. "He did send me to you to get a potion for my stomach."
"I've been feeling a bit sour since I got here. But then again I haven't eaten yet, Draco warned me that all the food could be poisoned."
"Suspicious brat," said Snape with a chuckle. "Go to the kitchen and have Felby make you something to fill your stomach, I'm sure you've been introduced to him at least," Harry nodded. "And do yourself a favor Potter. Get used to being polite and congenial to people you detest. Pretend you love them. You will be a lamentable spy without some self control."
Harry stared at the man, then turned and left the tent, feeling as if he had just walked out of the jaws of a giant trap.
Snape made an unbreakable vow to protect me, Harry thought, stomach twisting when he realized that this was possibly the reason that Albus Dumbledore had trusted Severus Snape, because he would be protecting Harry. I wonder what other vows he made in his service to Dumbledore?
Lord Voldemort was no fool. Not in the least. He knew exactly who Jonathan Malfoy really was the moment their skin had touched. There was no mistaking that aura.
Clever disguise boy, very clever. Infiltrate right into the family of my most devoted followers. Very clever.
Clever, but all in in vain, for he had seen right through the disguise. How aggravating! To have the boy right there but not to be able to undo him, unmask him, not without being able to present proof! The Federation wouldn't hear of it! And killing Lucius Malfoy's nephew without proof that he wasn't would cause an uproar!
Its a very odd thing, to be able to know, without a doubt, and yet have no way to prove it!
And he hadn't let onto his knowledge when he had ran into the boy, hiding his surprise and anger with a cool smile. No, no need to let it be known just yet.
He was horribly curious. He wanted to see how this played out. And something else was buzzing in his brain. An enticing thought that he had to stifle as he made his way towards the tent where he knew the first major meeting of the Federation was soon to take place.
What if we could recruit Harry Potter into the Federation? Wouldn't that be a blow to the Order and the Ministry! Wouldn't that rumple their feathers and pull their teeth? Oh what a delightful idea!
No, he wasn't going to reveal the boy just yet. He was going to give the boy his headway, let him participate in the Revel, see how things went on this side of the dividing line. And just maybe, just maybe, Harry Potter would like what he saw. And would want to remain. Yes, it was a delightful idea. A clever idea.
A clever plan for a clever clever boy. I shall have to let Severus in on my secret. Between him and me we can convince that boy to side with us...all it takes is a bit of patience. A little manipulation.
He chuckled to himself and slipped into the meeting, pulling his cloak over his face pointedly, just a dark green shadow slipping in beside Lucius Malfoy as if he were just another Death Eater himself.
"What a delightful nephew you have Lucius," he said, with honest amusement at seeing the blond haired man become nervous and flushed. "Delightful indeed."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
-Okay, I gave into fate and wrote some more. This story seems to be easier to write then others. But no more at least until tomorrow or the day after, I need a break! :P
Wouldn't you know it? thought Severus Snape as he slipped into the meeting ten minutes late. Harry Potter, damn him! I wonder how the Order managed to bribe Ignatius into taking part in this farce?
He slid in next to Lord Voldemort quite easily, for the Federation was in the midst of some argument over free market trade of potions ingredients from Europe to Asia and the Germans were having a bit of a panic attack at the thought of their government discovering the smuggling of unicorn horns, which were still illegal to possess in their country.
"Same as usual?" Severus whispered to his Lord in amusement.
"Of course," said the wizard quietly, crossing his legs. "They never show enough courage, those Germans."
"Well, they've had to deal with Gellert Grindelwald and Adolph Hitler in the last century. They're probably worried about intensifying mistrust between their Ministry and ours."
"Hm, I certainly must spring Gellert from prison someday. Though he may not be happy with us for ridding him of his favorite enemy."
"Ah, you haven't heard then. He has already flown the coop."
Voldemort's eyes went to his hairline and Severus chuckled, pointing across the tent to a weathered old wizard in low class threads, who was watching the Federation with sleepy eyes.
"Ah, I thought he'd find a way soon. Who did he bribe?"
"Nobody," Snape said with amusement. "He heard word of Sirius Black's escape a la animagus form and simply practiced turning himself into a bird. Literally flew through the bars on his window."
Voldemort chuckled, then both men had to turn their attention to the front of the room as the next order of business was called to the fore.
"The taxation of secondary wand sales," said the Chinese Federation leader, Liang Wu. "Is cutting into our ability to supply wands to new recruits from countries with strict wand regulations and wand registries. Our proposal is to pay a fee to Federation members who buy wands through legal means out of their own pockets, or provide some sort of incentive for the passing down of old wands."
Ollivander immediately rose from his position next to Wu and outlined his plan to put more wands into the hands of young wizards. Severus lifted his hand immediately in order to make a point and all eyes turned to him.
"The problem is that not all young wizards will attend a wizarding school in their lifetime, and many never get to see a wand shop. The solution to that would be the creation of wands that could be used by any recruit..."
"Do you know how hard it is to match a wand to a wizard, Mister Snape?" countered Ollivander hotly. "You have the fortune of keeping your wand for almost your entire lifespan, but I've had to provide numerous wands to replace ones that have been damaged beyond repair..."
"A simply strengthening charm on my wand has kept it in exemplary condition for many years," Severus countered. "And the ingredients you use for wand making are difficult at best to obtain and expensive. Try something easier to find like fairy wings or bowtruckle leaves!"
"I agree," said another wizard, one that Severus didn't recognize. "Less expensive wand materials could save us greatly on the manufacturing costs of the wands themselves, and make these wands more accessible to all wizards. A large fee wouldn't be needed then to cover the cost of buying wands for young recruits, the costs would be minimal. More experienced wizards can surely afford to have their own wands crafted, its the inexperienced recruits that may need a wand to work with."
An argument then broke out between Ollivander and the other wizard over the quality of manufactured wands.
"Gentleman," Lord Voldemort interrupted, putting a hand up. "There are inherent dangers in having wands in which rare magical creatures are the supplier of the core components. Let me remind you that having a wand with a brother core of a powerful magical creature produces some untoward results..."
There was nervous chuckling, as they were all reminded of Lord Voldemort's unfortunate brotherhood with his enemy. Severus swallowed a lump in memory of the fact that the enemy in question was here, in this camp, as they spoke, and was probably enjoying a sandwich in the Malfoy family tent, served by their very own house elf!
"There's other dangers too," said Severus. "Or rather, misfortunes. A wand made with a strong creature core is no good for a beginner, because that wand would only be attracted to certain qualities in a person. Only a certain type of wizard could wield it. So buying wands on the first hand market to supply the secondary market would be moot. You would have wizards buying wands that were only suited to them. Passing them onto younger hands would be a problem. Making the wands more universal in material and lengths, and with cores that are less inclined to cause explosions from being paired with the wrong person, means that any wizard could walk into any shop, buy any wand, and leave with something he can hand directly to a new recruit."
Ollivander huffed at this, giving Severus an ugly look, but the Federation seemed to be in agreement.
"Well said Severus!" said Liang Wu. "Lets put it to a vote! All in favor of wand makers providing lesser quality wands for purchase for the secondary market, and a nominal fee given to wizards who purchase these wands for youth recruiters?"
A good show of hands made this motion carry and Severus sighed in relief. This had been a problem for him as a recruiter for a long time now. It eased his chest that at least this would be dealt with.
Another problem had come to the fore, as the Federation leader from Canada had a complaint about werewolves fleeing Ministry extermination were using muggle immigration policies as a way to sneak into the country unknown, which was putting Native wizards living in the wilds in danger. A discussion about providing for wolfsbane, and the various methods for keeping wizard settlements protected from werewolves arose, and Severus felt a headache immediately coming on.
He was just about to comment on the matter when a hush fell over the crowd. A teenager had entered the tent, looking pale and frightened.
It was Draco Malfoy.
"Well young man?" said Liang Wu angrily. "You interrupted a very important meeting, say what you have come to say!"
Severus tensed, eyes wide, and Draco squeaked, his own fear apparent.
"We, me and Pansy I mean, we went back to my tent to find...my cousin...and I found...I mean..."
"Well, out with it!" said Liang Wu at once. "What did you find?"
"Jonathan has been poisoned!"
That was about all they had to get out of him for the whole Federation to go in an uproar. Lucius jumped to his feet in horror, with Voldemort rising to steady him. The Federation called a recess and Snape went down immediately to Draco to put a hand on his shoulder.
"I told him...not to eat the food...to ask the elf for food..." said the youth, shaking. "I don't understand..."
"Easy now, come with me..." said Severus. "We'll go see to this immediately."
Lucius followed, along with the Dark Lord and some members of the Federation. Severus arrived first to the tent where several young people were waiting pale faced.
Severus immediately went into the tent, only to find Potter curled up in a sweating ball on the bed, eyes wide and shaking. The sheets were damp with sweat and vomit. Severus immediately cast a diagnosis spell.
"Jonathan?" said Severus, hoping the boy would respond to that name as he started doing assessment spells.
"I don't feel good," said Harry, shivering head to foot. "Something is wrong with me."
"No doubt," Severus stated. "My Lord?"
"House elf mischief maybe?" said Voldemort, coming up beside the bed and bending down next to where Lucius was now desperately trying to comfort the boy. "Lucius steady on there, we don't know that he has eaten anything severe."
"Nothing severe," said Severus in agreement as the diagnosis spell finished. "Something designed to make him vomit. Prank of some sort. My only concern now is dehydration. Draco, get him some water. From my elf, not from Felby."
"Yes sir. I don't think Felby would do anything wrong on purpose. He doesn't know the first thing about poisons!"
"I agree," said the Voldemort, then much to Severus' alarm bent down to help Harry as he tried to sit upright. "The food supply here may have been tampered with. We should check all the food stock outside of the Malfoy kitchens just in case. Lucius, I'll put you in charge of that. No worry about Jonathan, I'll stay here with him. Your nephew is in good hands."
"Yes my Lord," said Lucius in surprise, and turned to go obey the commands. "Thank you."
Severus quickly turned to work some spells to stabalize the boy's health. Harry Potter looked like a ghost where he lay agaist the Dark Lord's shoulder. His face was sweated over now with sickness. He looked like he was going to drop dead any moment, and he was staring at Lord Voldemort. Staring.
"I," he said, suddenly shaking. "Sorry..."
And then he proceeded to vomit. Too late for warning, all over himself the wizard he was lying on. Snape choked, and turned his eyes to look at his Lord directly...
Voldemort had a deadly look on his face. Almost angry. But it wasn't towards the boy.
"When I find out who did this to him," he said, each word pounding into Severus Snape's chest like a dull hammer. "Heaven help that person."
"My Lord, the boy needs a nourishment potion," Severus said quickly, casting a sleeping spell on Harry. "And I may need to leave camp to get the supplies I need..."
"So be it. I'll keep a watch on the young man. I almost feel as if this is my fault...though Salazar knows why I would think such a thing."
"Its a natural reaction," Severus said, taking this moment in the conversation to scourgify the mess Harry had made. "To a stressful circumstance."
"I...I almost feel affection for the lad. And believe me when I say this is the most difficult admission I've made in awhile, considering that I know who he really is."
Severus froze. Panic filled him at once. But Lord Voldemort smiled, and lowered the now unconscious boy back to the bed.
"Not to worry Severus. I know about that vow you made, and I don't plan to have my most faithful servant killed off by the mistrust of Albus Dumbledore. I have special plans for Mister Potter here that involves keeping him alive...and I would like to include you in them, if you are up to it."
"M-My Lord. What are you planning?"
Voldemort laughed. And laughed. And shook his head.
"I plan to keep him here at the Revel, keep him disguised as Malfoy's nephew. And train him in the Dark Arts. He'll be the perfect coup, the greatest prize. Harry Potter, a devoted patron of the Dark Arts and member of the Federation. Think about it Severus!"
Severus stared. If he'd stared any harder his eyes would have fallen out.
"I doubt the boy would approve of your plans."
"Hardly. But if we time it just right, he'll think it was all his idea. He is a youth, and youths, as you so often say, are the easiest to recruit. Whether he's Harry Potter or Jonathan Malfoy, he's a youth still and has the right to be here, like it or not. Now the hard problem; do we tell the Federation or Lucius, or let things play out by ear?"
"I...would talk to Lucius first," Severus said. "But then, I'm inclined to feel sorry for him, being lied to this way. Better for him to learn sooner and be a part in our plans, then be left out and feeling miserable at the finish line."
"Indeed. We can give him the chance to wrap Harry Potter around his finger. I'm sure he'll be delighted by it. Yes, I think we'll set my plan in motion."
"Can I help?"
Both men turned in startlement, and Severus jerked his head in annoyance at Draco Malfoy, who stood at the tent with his hands clasped around a glass of water.
"How long have you been standing there?" asked Lord Voldemort suspiciously.
"Sorry, I've been here awhile now. So can I help?"
"Well," said Severus with a snort. "Since you clearly already know about Potter, perhaps you could help. But first, you need to learn a lesson in making sure people know you are in the room instead of listening to private conversations..."
He jerked his wand, and the glass in Draco's hands lifted up and soaked the boy head to toe.
"Hey! Ah!" said the boy, covering his blond head in vain. "Okay, I'm sorry I'm sorry!"
"Now then, go out and get another fresh cup of water. And this time make sure to cough and let your presence be known the moment you return. Understood?"
"Yes sir," said the dripping boy, who turned with a grumble to pick up the glass from where it had landed and head off in search of water again.
"Well then, Severus," said Lord Voldemort in amusement. "I think I have a way to help you learn to control your temper."
"Master?" said Severus in dismay.
"Teach Potter some proper Dark Magic. It is your job now to recruit him. That is all."
And then Voldemort rose to exit the tent, leaving Severus Snape staring in horror after him.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
"Come on Jonathan, wake up!"
Harry cracked open an eye, to behold the sight of Draco Malfoy leaning over him, grinning like an eight year old on Christmas morning.
"Come on," Harry groaned, forgetting the twang to his voice and no longer caring. "I was poisoned last night."
"So was a whole bunch of people," said Draco. "All the food in the camp is bad. We have to grow some more now. And father says your spell skills need to be tested, so come on, up! Snape's going to be teaching us!"
That got Harry up right out of bed.
"Father says you probably need your spell skills polished. He wants to see where you're at. You know, in your Dark Arts. Snape's going to teach you the growth magic we use to grow vegetables and we're going to have an old fashioned harvest! Its fun, happens every Revel."
Harry stared at Draco, who was holding out a robe for him. He stumbled out of bed and slid the robes on, feeling dismayed.
"Did I...did I throw up on...You Know Who...last night?"
"You did, and call him the Dark Lord. Only Ministry babies call him You Know Who. Come on! We have to have breakfast! Father went to all the trouble of going to a muggle store today to pick up some eggs and bacon for us. So we better appreciate it by eating it."
The thought of Lucius Malfoy going into a muggle supermarket for groceries made Harry smile and he slipped on his slippers and stumbled out of their room to the shared part of the tent, the dining room, where Lucius was sitting reading a newspaper.
"Good morning Jonathan," he said stiffly, eyebrows raised. "Are you faring well this morning?"
"Yes thank you sir," Harry said, feeling as if something had changed about the man this morning.
There was an impish light in his eyes.
"I have heard word that Severus will be instructing you in magic today, so you best mind your manners. And the Federation will be meeting with us all later to discuss the poison incident. So make sure you take the time to bathe. After working up a healthy sweat from practice you'll need it."
Draco motioned Harry into a chair, and he nodded vaguely while Felby nervously poured him milk and served him eggs.
"Thank you Felby..."
The elf squeaked and rushed quickly to serve Draco next. Lucius raised an eyebrow at this but said nothing, just turning a page of his newspaper.
Narcissa Malfoy slipped out of her room and sat down between her husband and Harry, yawning widely. Harry had not been introduced to her formally.
"Jonathan this is your Aunt Narcissa, she arrived last night," said Lucius primly, not putting down his paper.
"Nice to meet you Aunt," said Harry, and she took his hand briefly.
"Good morning," she said, then looked at Harry pointedly. "Are you feeling well this morning Jonathan? I heard you had an upset stomach last night."
"Rather," said Harry, feeling out of sorts. "Thanks ma'am."
And that was basically how breakfast went. Not a word from Lucius, barely a word from Narcissa, and Draco slurping through his breakfast with Narcissa tutting over his table manners.
Harry kept his peace. Something was up. And he was not looking forward to getting lessons from Snape. He kept his head down though and into his bacon.
I'll have to make the most of my stay at the Revel, try to get Voldemort if I can and get out alive. But I'll get as much information as I can from this, which means having the Malfoys trust me, and the Federation. With Snape knowing who I am he's bound to try and interfere in some way. Oh heck what have I gotten myself into now?
Severus Snape was highly perturbed. Harry's mental shields were damn well impenetrable.
Blast it, Severus thought as Harry expertly lasted through an Occulamency lesson without so much as a stray thought leaking through his shield. He's getting better at this than I am!
Severus decided to end this lesson and put Harry and Draco to duelling with some transfigurative curses that Harry wasn't knowledgeable of. He was able to block a couple, failed to cast the two he could remember that Draco threw at him, and had to be de-transfigured from chair format by Snape.
"Do you understand why this sort of curse is not permitted by the ministry of magic?"
"Yeah," said Harry bashfully. "You could easily reducto somebody in chair form and kill them. Its funny how the Killing Curse is considered the bad one, when there's so many nastier ways to hurt people."
"Exactly!" said Severus in surprise. "Half the hexes and spells the Ministry forbids are far far worse, and get not nearly as much attention. The Killing Curse is really quite a merciful death in comparison to some of the grim ways people can kill one another with magic. So lets go on to some of the ways to defend against these attacks."
And so it went. Severus found that Harry was a much more attentive pupil when he was pretending to be Jonathan Malfoy, and found himself enjoying instructing the boy for the first time in seven years.
The practice arena was hot and muggy when the young people descended upon it in flocks. Young Dark Arts practitioners from all over the world packed the place for a chance to take the ring and show off their Dark Arts prowess. Federation officers were at every exit keeping an eye out for suspicious items or non-wand weapons and several parents and Federation members were settling into the viewing box, looking supremely bored.
Harry Potter could feel the sweat on his chin. He had barely a chance to practice some of the spells that Snape had taught him, and now he was being urged by Draco Malfoy to enter into duels with other young people in the ring. The first round of the match was a tree system that he hadn't been present for, with each successive winner taking the next rank in the tree. Then after that there would be a free for all in the center ring, pairing off with whoever the competitors wished to duel against, and that was the match he participated in.
Right from the oft he was paired with Pansy Parkinson.
"Now Jonathan, give me a sporting chance," she said pouting.
"Oh you can't fool me," said Harry. "You're probably expert at dueling aren't you?"
He knew she was not. At least not that he knew of. She started off with a nasty itching jinx which Harry had to struggle to remember the counter spell too. Then he let off a round of rictusempras, causing her to fall over giggling in laughter.
In order to win the duel you had to take your opponents wand, but expelliarmus, for some inexplicable reason, was not allowed in today's challenge.
"A different spell is forbidden each day in the arena. And killing curses are expressly forbidden," Draco had explained to him. "No worries. Expelliarmus isn't the only disarming spell you can use anyways."
Harry was feeling rather untoward without his usual disarming spell, trying to remember the others he had been taught. But he felt rather triumphant walked across the playing field and pulled Pansy's wand from her hand. Maybe there were others ways to get an opponents wand out of their hand after all!
"Oh thats not fair," she said, sticking a tongue out at him.
But he felt a queasy feeling when, after he gave her back her wand, she hugged him before going off to the side of the ring where the 'losers' had to wait.
She was being really nice to him. Nicer then she had ever been to him and his friends in school. Maybe Pansy Parkinson did have a heart.
And if Pansy Parkinson had a heart, what about Draco Malfoy, who had just sent his own partner out of the ring as well?
They're all just young people like me. Being recruited to do no good...
He tried to will away the pain, the hurt, but he found himself hurting rather badly. So when he came up against a Bulgarian boy he vaguely recognized as being from Durmstrang, he let him have the advantage, ending with a draw in which both of them had their legs tangled together on the floor.
"Good match," said the Durmstrang boy. "Very good."
They shook hands, and both of them went off in search of other sparing partners. The ring duellers had shrunk considerably in numbers and he found himself searching around frantically for somebody to duel. What if he ended up in the top six? He knew he couldn't win against Draco Malfoy in terms of dark magic, the boy was a pro.
Harry was then surprised by a tap on his shoulder. He turned, and immediately swallowed.
"Need a duel partner?" said Cho Chang, her eyes bright and amused. "Come on, lets have at it!"
So it comes to this, thought Harry sourly. A duel against Cho...
He knew her style well, and started off with a friendly series of tickling spells, which she dodged expertly. She knew how to duel, and cast off a few spells of her own, coughing spells, one which caught Harry in the center.
You're distracted Harry, he thought, sending a jelly legs jynx at her. Use some of the Dark Magic Snape taught you. Figure out how strong she is!
He nearly caught her with that chair spells that Draco had got him with during their practice, and she tsked at him.
"Such a spell!" she laughed. "All right then lets duel the proper way!"
It got a little more tedious now. She was having fun! She threw a spell at him which caused his hair to grow, threatening to tangle him in its embrace.
He knew how to untangle this spell, and quickly freed himself from his hair. Now the ring was getting tense. The duelling partners had been reduced to just a handful. Attention was now on Harry and Cho, who was giving him a real workout around the ring...
And thats when it hit him...the spell. Cho had hit him with a paralysis spell of some sort and he couldn't move. She walked calmly over to him, pulled his wand out of his hand, then backed up a pace and using his own wand cast,
A gasp of horror filled the stadium.
The words were unexpected and filled Harry with sudden dread. An anti transfiguration spell! But in order to remove the transfigurations that the Order had used on him, the caster had to know who he was! Harry felt horror fill him at the power behind the spell and felt, with panic in his chest, every last spell that was being used to disguise him stripped from him one layer at time until he stood bare of all disguises, Harry Potter. Somehow, Cho Change had known. But how?
That wasn't important at this stage in the game.
"I appear to have caught me a spy," said the girl with a laugh. "None other than one Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived! I knew it! I knew it!"
Severus Snape slipped out of the meeting tent with a feeling of dire dread filling him. Lord Voldemort was furious, of course, for loosing his coup, and the Federation was furious that they had known about the boy and had not told the Federation about it. They were now demanding the direst penalties for the boy, and only Lord Voldemort's demands to do what he wanted with his enemy were keeping them at bay. He did have the right...
Damned if I'm going to sit around while the Federation decides how to torture, main and otherwise mutilate Potter. I have to give him something to go on!
He slid up to the holding tent darkly, glaring at the two guards, and showed them his Federation pass. They nodded at him and he slid inside the tent with a silent step.
Potter was sulking. Undone, looking slightly unhinged at that. He was wrapped in so many holding spells that he couldn't even move. Except his eyes, which were glaring at Severus, daring him to say something nasty. Severus removed the spell keeping Potter from speaking and the boy immediately swore at him.
"Mind your tongue Potter. I have some bad news for you and some good news. The bad news first. The Federation is furious with you; never in a hundred years has anybody infiltrated a Dark Revel this way, impersonating a dead teenager, and caused so much mischief. They believe you to be the one who poisoned the food."
"I didn't!" Harry said in horror. "Why would I poison myself? And whats the good news?"
"The good news is that there is to be a trial. You see, young people aged 14 to 17 may enter the Revel uncontested, no matter who they are, if they have been invited to stay by another registrant. Miss Chang, having Ministry Parents, wouldn't have been allowed in otherwise. So instead of killing you, they have agreed to a trial to decide if you are to be punished for the poison, or have your memory modified and thrown from the Revel for coming in without permission. They don't dare order your death, not with the Dark Lord ready to strangle that Chang girl for revealing you before he was ready for it."
"Did everybody know who I was?" demanded Harry glumly. "You, Cho Chang, and Voldemort, and apparently Draco Malfoy too! He came to gloat at me! Gloat!"
"I'll take care of him," Severus muttered. "Don't worry about it..."
"Snape, what am I going to do? What can I say that will fix things, or convince them that I am not going to cause any trouble, or at least let me out of here with my brain intact?"
Severus grinned. The boy was asking him for help! This was perfect! This was exactly what he needed to get his ass and the boy's out of the fire!
"One little sentence that will make all the difference in the world, Mister Potter."
"I challenge Lord Voldemort to Right Of Caste!"
The Federation opened their mouths in horror at this, and so did the whole audience at the trial.
"I beg your pardon?" said Liang Wu, looking highly affronted.
"Why else did you think I snuck into the Revel?" said Harry Potter. "To challenge Lord Voldemort! Of course! I have the right too, he's been trying to kill me since I was a baby!"
A murmur of acknowledgment went through the crowd. Harry stepped from foot to foot where he stood, feeling the eyes of the Federation upon him like hot coals. Lord Voldemort was looking calculating and amused. And he would be.
From what Snape had explained to him, Right of Caste was a duel in which both competitors would survive, but the loser would have to submit to the terms of the other. Snape had given him this one chance to deal with Voldemort once and for all, without having to cast any killing curses, or be killed himself in the end. He was going to take it.
"I don't believe the Dark Lord wants to kill you any longer, so your only hope is that his terms for winning the duel are palatable."
The very worst, in Harry's mind, would be that the Dark Lord would render him the same judgement as the Federation; cast out of the Revel with a full obliviate. No memories of anything or anyone, not even his magic. But by the laws of the Federation he couldn't demand Harry's death.
"I accept the challenge," said Lord Voldemort, rising to his feet smoothly.
"Oh," said Liang Wu, looking stricken. "Well then, Mister Potter, what are your terms?"
"If I win," said Harry, remembering what he had settled upon with Snape. "Lord Voldemort will agree to the following; he will forthwith back down from attempting to kill me, find me, follow me, or hurt any of my family, friends or members of the Order of the Phoenix. And," he turned to look at the Federation, "I will be permitted to stay at the Revel until the end without punishment or penalty, as he will be my legal host for my stay, extending me a personal invitation to remain. As a youth between the ages of 14 and 17 I have the right to stay if I have the invitation of an adult registrant."
A gasp, and Voldemort's mouth actually dropped. Briefly. Then he laughed.
"Clever clever boy," said Voldemort, stalking towards him. "Clever, how you snuck in here, and how you plan to get out of here again without penalty. Very clever."
Their eyes met, green upon green, and Harry suddenly realized for the first time that Lord Voldemort's eyes were no longer red. In short, the green eyes, with combination of gray hair growth, signaled to Harry that the man was almost human again.
"Lord Voldemort," asked Liang Wu, looking sweaty. "What will your conditions for winning be?"
Lord Voldemort looked at the Federation council for a moment, turned to look at Snape very briefly, turned around, walked across the hall, then turned around again. He was clearly thinking. Then he smiled a wane smile.
"If I win, and I defeat Harry Potter in an honorable duel, then Mister Potter will agree to the following terms; he will henceforth be my Apprentice in The Dark Arts, and remain by my side for the traditional a year and a day. He will also stave off of any attempts to fight me or any other Dark Arts practitioner during that time."
Harry stared in horror at Lord Voldemort, his eyes going to his hairline. The Federation went into an uproar of protest, and Liang Wu was pounding his gavel.
"Lord Voldemort has the right to name his terms!" said Wu hotly. "I feel confident that if he wins this duel and Harry Potter becomes his Apprentice that he can keep any further mischief from the boy in check."
"I didn't poison the food!" said Harry, turning to look at Wu pointedly. "But I will find out who really did it, and clear my name!"
Wu seemed startled by this, and banged his gavel.
"So be it. The duel of Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter shall take place in the dueling arena at midnight, according to both their terms. Until that time Severus Snape will be in charge of guarding Harry Potter and keeping him out of trouble."
Snape made a strangled sound of distress and the gavel pounded again. Lord Voldemort strode over to Harry and offered his hand for a shake.
Harry took the hand, shaking it, and feeling a tingle a magic at the physical contact.
"This is it...its all downhill from here."
Voldemort nodded, green eyes going briefly warm, and released Harry's hand.
"I meant what I said. You are a very clever boy."
Then he turned and strode from the tent, his Death Eaters in full attendance. Severus Snape rose and stumbled over to Harry looking cross.
"Damn them, I bet this is my punishment for not telling them you were here."
"You couldn't!" said Harry. "It would have killed you!"
"That being said, you're damn lucky you have me on your side, Harry Potter. Albus Dumbledore was too damn smart for his own good."
"If he was so smart," said Harry thickly. "Why is he dead?"
Snape took a step back, startled, then shook his head, tears welling in his eyes briefly, which he masked by covering his eyes with his hand.
"Because I loved him Harry. Because I loved him."
Harry believed him. And with a heavy swallow, offered a shaking hand to the man, who stared at it startled.
"Lets start all over again," said Harry, smiling weakly. "My name is Harry Potter. What's yours?"
The man stared for a moment, then laughed, and took the hand with a firm shake.
"Severus Snape. I was friends with your mother as a child. If you have some time, I could tell you about it?"
"Sure," said Harry, swallowing hard. "I'd like that very much."
~People in the reviews have made the pointed comment that Harry's disguise was rather flimsy to have been caught out by a simple Finite. So I changed the spell into something I made up. Had to do a bit of latin research to create a spell for removing transfigurations, and made the requirement that the person had to know who you were or the spell would not work. Which makes it even more stickier for Harry.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
-So far this is moving along rather quickly, but I'm sure (knock on wood) that it'll slow down eventually due to writers block. Tentatively 1 to 2 chapters a day right now, but who knows what it'll be tomorrow. So enjoys! :D
"So thats the deal then?" said Harry, looking flummoxed. "Dumbledore was your friend, and you killed him to keep the other Death Eaters from torturing him?"
"Ah sure, when you say it that way it sounds bad," said Snape, holding out a glass of firewhiskey to Harry. "Have a drink, you're old enough."
Harry glared at the glass momentarily, then sipped at it and made a face.
Snape laughed, and then moved over to get in a chair.
"Don't get me wrong. I loved Albus Dumbledore. Enough to end his suffering. I doubt he would have survived the poison he swallowed in that Cave. And yes I know all about that too," he looked over his glass at Harry, and his eyes were deep and penetrating. "But I am a Death Eater. I follow my Master to the end, whatever end that is. Its called loyalty."
"Loyalty," Harry mumbled, suddenly wishing he hadn't shook hands with the man. "Loyalty is what causes you to kill for Voldemort?"
"It was hard for me, choosing sides," said Snape, looking down at his whiskey as if remembering something he didn't want to. "I loved Albus. But in the end I chose the side that was left to me after his death. Nobody in the Order trusted me, I killed Albus, which he knew I was probably going to and expected me to, and the only family I had left was the Dark Lord."
"Family," said Harry thickly. "How could you call that man a family?"
"Listen Potter," said Snape. "I don't presume to judge whether the Dark Lord's actions are good or bad, I am just as guilty. But I owe him greatly. He is like a father to me. He taught me, he took me under his wing. He was there for me at horrible times in my life. When my own father would be cruel, and hit my mother and throttle me, I could always climb out my window, run down the street to the hole in the fence, crawl under it cross the gate, through the field, and there was Riddle Manor. And the old man inside who would take me into his house and show me magic, magic that my mother had rejected."
"Rejected?" Harry had a feeling he wasn't going to like the answer to his unspoken question.
"Magic is energy Harry, and this energy caused my mother pain to use."
"You mean, she couldn't use magic without hurting?"
"Yes," said Snape. "Albus called it a sort of nerve damage. She hated doing magic, but it was what her parents wanted. Hated having to hurt so much to be successful. She finally rebelled, running away and marrying my father. But she married to escape, not for love, and he forced her to use magic to clean with. Would hit her if she didn't. It was a double edged sword."
Harry nodded, swallowed, then tried another sip of the whiskey. At second taste it wasn't bad. Still tasted like the underside of a shoe though.
"So at any rate, I would go to Riddle Manor. I remember the first time I crawled up to the mansion, all my muggle school mates daring me to ring the doorbell. I did it, and they ran, but I wanted genuinely to meet the person inside. So I waited on the porch."
"I can imagine that was bad. What did Voldemort do?"
Snape winced at the name, but didn't complain, just poured another glass of whiskey for himself and swallowed it.
"He looked at me. Said, 'what is this muggle brat doing on my porch?' or something to that effect, and I said to him 'I'm not a muggle, I'm a wizard, and my mum's a Prince!'"
"Oh that must have amused him."
"It did! He laughed. And he knew the Prince family, so he asked me my name, and I told him, and he asked why I was wearing muggle clothes, and I told him. He took me inside, gave me some tea, and owled my mother. The first time mother ever threw me over her knee herself...I've never seen her as angry as she was to find out where I had gone."
"Yeah, ouch," said Snape somberly. "But my father laughed. Told me to go on, thats what he said, run away and don't come back. So I did. The next chance I got I went back. Again and again. The Dark Lord would take me in, give me tea, then send me home again. Never called my mother after that. Probably because the second time I went I was covered in bruises."
Harry stared at Snape as he swished down more whiskey. This had to hurt the man to talk about.
"He started teaching me Dark magic as soon as I had my wand. I imagine he saw something of himself in me because he told me I was a half-blood, like him. I would be his heir. Or so he said. Then he cast me off in favor of training even more people; Bellatrix, Lucius, all the first Death Eaters, told us we were all his offspring, his children. I could have laughed. I was first. Despite what Lucius would tell you, I was first. I was his son, for awhile. Until he became so distracted with power that even he forgot me. But I was his first and only son. I doubt he'd tell it that way though. I doubt he sees me as a father to a son. Just another loyal faithful Death Eater."
Harry stared, and Snape gulped down some more whiskey.
"So of course I'd tell him anything, do anything, steal anything, kill anyone, for him. Except you now of course, and Draco. Only two people I have ever sworn to protect with my life, you and Draco. And I'm not sure I love either of you. I did it to prove my loyalty, to him, to Albus, the two people who I did love."
"So was Dumbledore a father to you too?"
"No Potter, he was my lover," said Snape, downing another whiskey. "Bed fellow, paramour, what have you. We shagged."
"Uh, too much information," Harry said, wrinkling his nose.
"Hmph!" Snape said. "When you're as old as he was, or as ugly as I am, you don't argue about where the love comes from. You just accept it. But it sure made things difficult to love the man who was the sworn enemy of my surrogate father. It tore me in two. I didn't want to fight either of them. I didn't."
Harry nodded, watched him down the last glass of whiskey and then shook his head.
"You're going to get drunk."
"Already done it," said Snape, glaring at Harry. "Go bother Draco. Ask him to teach you some dueling or something, you need practice for your duel tonight."
Harry stared, then got up and left the man to his cups. If he'd learned anything from Hagrid it was never to disobey somebody who was in their cups. You never knew when they could get violent, or worse, affectionate.
Of course the young people were mystified and horrified when he entered the practice arena. The few who were there anyways.
"What are you doing here Potter?" said Draco hotly. "Isn't Snape supposed to be guarding you?"
"He told me to practice," said Harry triumphantly, striding across the ring. "So lets duel."
"I don't know Potter, Draco is a pro at this," said Pansy, sticking her tongue out.
"Hm, well good, then he can teach me a thing or two."
"I shouldn't help you," said Draco. "You could use it to win the duel tonight..."
"Either way I'm staying here," said Harry pointedly. "And either way I'm going to learn Dark Magic. So try me!"
"Oh go on Draco," said Pansy in adoration. "You can mop the floor with Potty."
Harry mentally winced and sighed. She was all sweet to him when he was Jonathan Malfoy. But Harry Potter? Nope notta. He should have expected it. Why did it hurt?
"All right if thats what you want," Draco said with eyes rolled. "Come on Potter, same rules as before, do your worst!"
The young people all crowded in to watch. Cho Chang and her boyfriend were off to the side with that group of German kids, and Harry recognized Tania amongst them. The Bulgarian he had dueled with earlier was now tangled in with knot of kids from other countries, all of them watching with amusement as the duel began.
Harry got off some good jinxes before Draco finally started in with the dark magic, transfiguration, hexes, and the like, all designed to make Harry feel like an idiot as he was turned into chairs, tables, and various strange things like a hat, which Draco put on his head, and a pair of shoes, because 'he stank'.
Oddly, Harry wasn't upset. He kind of enjoyed the transfigurations, and he was learning something to. He finally got the hang of it by the time supper rolled around, turning Draco into a rosebush and back.
"Well done!" said the Bulgarian, as Pansy helped turn Draco back to himself.
"Thanks," said Harry.
"Don't talk to him Olie," said Pansy. "He's not a Dark Wizard yet."
"Yet?" said Harry.
"You will be," said Pansy. "Once you try Dark Magic, you don't want to go back to being a nice normal wizard. Its like a drug. Look at Snape, he eventually came back to us. They always do."
Harry stared at her. The kids were all looking at him, waiting for his reaction.
Suddenly a vice like grip on his shoulder startled him and he was spun around to face a rather angry looking Lucius Malfoy.
"How dare you come back here before the duel! Back to Snape, this instant! The Council will hear of this!"
Harry stared, feeling vexed, and turned to tromp across the arena to the tent flap.
So he's angry about Jonathan, and how nicely he treated me, is he? Well he'll be even angrier if I'm allowed to stay here as Voldemort's invited guest...or, Harry swallowed. His Apprentice.
Ah midnight. A time of darkness. A time of secret starlit eyes and brief encounters in the shadows. Of moonlight and mystery, but most of all, it was a time for magic.
Lord Voldemort strode into the arena feeling in good form. He had sparred with Liang Wu and the other members of the council for about an hour, in which they all informed him that he should take over for Severus Snape, who was going soft.
But Lord Voldemort would never take a secretarial position on the Council. He would only take that council seat if he could lead it, and as recently elected leader Liang Wu wasn't due to be voted out of his position for another year or two at the very least. With Herr Grindelwald back in the seat as Germany's council member he would be a shoe-in at the next election.
No, let Severus have his position. Salazar knew the man enjoyed the paper pushing work more than Voldemort himself ever would.
I am an animal of comfort. I live for comfort, my comfort. I will never sit behind a desk going through stacks of paper the way Severus is so fond of. At most I would defer all my duties to him in the end. Let him keep his position. As long as Britain stays mine to rule.
And Britain would remain his. All that stood in his way now was the boy, this boy, standing across from him with his legs apart and a determined look in his green eyes.
He looks like a man facing death row. How little he knows about the Dark Arts. He's been taught to see it as back stabbing black magic. But there is a Code to be followed, and we follow it well. I will follow the Right of Caste.
"All right," said Liang Wu, striding out to the center to take position as referee. "You know the rules, but to clarify: no Unforgiveables, killing spells or permanent injury. Everything else is valid. The winner is the wizard who takes the wand from his opponent. Let the match begin!"
Noise erupted from the stands as the assembled all cheered and applauded, many of them holding signs. Such as the ones saying 'To Thy Dark Lord Be True' and 'Box His Ears My Lord!'
Lucius was holding that last one, smiling brightly.
I shall have to have a chat with him. But now, to the match!
The bell rang and Harry started with exactly what Lord Voldemort was expecting; disarming spells. Easily parried, and very much expected. The two of them circled each other, with Harry sending spell after spell at Voldemort, and himself parrying them all.
Good grief. Well, its time to show this lad how dueling really works! He'll be so impressed he'll want to learn it himself!
The boy did make an impressive showing with those tricky jinxes of his, but Lord Voldemort knew he would win. Lucius had personally told him of the boy's weakness with reversing transfigurations. So he cast some simple transfiguration spells at the boy, and enjoyed watching him fail at parrying the last.
"Oh no not aga-" was all Potter got out before he turned, quite neatly, into an ottoman chair, cushioned quite nicely in green velvet.
Lord Voldemort strode over to the ottoman that was Harry Potter, picked up the boy's wand from the ground, then sat upon the ottoman pointedly as thunderous applauds filled the arena.
"I win," said he with a grin of pleasure. "Harry Potter is now my Apprentice."
"I wasn't that bad, was I?"
"Stop pouting Potter," said Severus Snape with a glare as he lead Harry across the camp to the tent where he would be staying during the Revel. "He mopped the floor with you. You know you're no match against him without your brother wands. And you used the core from that to destroy your scar didn't you?"
Harry stopped in his walking, hurt welling in his eyes, and Severus sighed. Heaven forfend he should ever be in charge of a teenager that DIDN'T have some unbearable burden on their shoulders!
"It was the only thing we could think of that would destroy the horcrux. And I loved that wand! It had Fawkes' feather in it, and Fawkes is gone now."
Severus stared at Harry, whose eyes were damp. He was no longer just Harry Potter, son of James now. He was Harry Potter, Apprentice of Voldemort, his own enemy, and frightened beyond capacity of it. He had gotten rid of his beloved wand and his scar in order to sever that connection to the man that he was now bound to.
I have to learn to listen more to young people, Severus decided as he thought of what best to tell the boy to comfort him. I'd get into less trouble that way.
"What wand do you have now?"
"Juniper and dragon's heartstring. The wand maker didn't tell me what sort of dragon it came from, but I bet it came from a Horntail."
Severus snorted, remembering the dragon task at the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
"With your temper it was probably a Chinese Fireball."
And speaking of Chinese...
Liang Wu had approached them from a polite distance, and was using this pointed stop in their walk to come over closer to the both of them.
"Good evening," he started, bowing low to them both. "My sympathies on your loss, Mister Potter. It was a formidable match."
Severus looked at the man with an eyebrow raised.
"Thank you sir," Harry mumbled.
"Is there something we can help you with, Counciller Wu?" asked Severus thickly.
"Your Master gave word that the boy should join him for dinner in the cafeteria tent within the hour, dressed and ready. You, Severus Snape, have been cleared of all obligations to watch over the boy by the Council. You are now in charge of preparing for tomorrow's Harvest Spell."
"Thank you Councilor," said Severus, bowing. "I shall show Potter to his tent, and attend to this matter forthwith."
Severus watched the man walk away until he was finally out of sight, then scowled.
"That man is going to send me to an early grave with his meddling," Severus said. "Chinese Dark wizards would rule the world, Potter, if they could."
"I could imagine," said Harry. "Don't all Dark wizards want to rule the world?"
"No, and honestly would you?" said Severus with a snort, finally arriving at the exceedingly under-expressive and simplistic tent of the Dark Lord. "Imagine having to govern such an expanse! No, the Dark Lord is happy with keeping his machinations to the United Kingdom."
Harry pointedly blinked, and Severus shoo'd him into the tent and turned to head back to his office.
Harry couldn't believe how...minimal...Voldemort's quarters were. Nothing like the Malfoy tent, which had every sort of excess.
This tent was comparable to the one he had shared with the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup. It had a couple of sectioned off rooms, a woodstove and a writing desk. A central table was covered with papers and maps.
Harry wasn't sure which bedroom was his, so set down his bag near the door and removed his cloak. Since he couldn't appear as a Malfoy anymore the Malfoys had pointedly taken everything from him that had their crest upon it, including the cloak clasp and the trunk. So he'd asked the house elf for a replacement of some kind, only to find that the elf would not obey a single command, and was quite angry with him.
"You is not giving Felby orders! You is not a Malfoy!"
Lucius Malfoy had actually laughed at this, then had bemusedly given Felby the same orders to bring Harry Potter a suitable bag for his clothes. The elf had brought him a potato sack.
Ya live, ya learn. Not being nice to Felby ever again.
But now that he was alone it was probably a good test for him to try and transfigure his bag into a trunk. He didn't think the Dark Lord would approve of a sack of potatoes.
The practice in the ring had reminded him how easy transfiguration was and soon he had a trunk of appropriate length with his own initials on it. In the end he painted it in red and gold, just to make a point.
I am me, thought Harry. I may be apprenticed to a murderer, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Dinner was taken with Voldemort and everyone else in the camp who weren't being attended to by their house elves. The Dark Lord was taking this opportunity to discuss matters with his Death Eaters, having most of them packed into the dining hall with him with their various plates of food that they had found ways of getting their hands on. Some of them probably had left the campground to get their food, others had probably done some transfiguration of their own.
On everybody's lips was the coming Harvest Spell and the planning of the portioning of food out. Severus Snape was bent over his many pieces of paper at a table in the corner, where people were signing up for food supplies. Voldemort stopped Harry from approaching him.
"You're my Apprentice now lad," said Voldemort. "We're taken care of."
Harry nodded, then was motioned to sit next to him on the bench, where he was sitting with Bellatrix Lestrange, eating a meal of soup and bread and talking about the weather they would be expecting the next day. Lestrange had looked at Harry vaguely, nodded a little, then turned back to her meal, saying nothing. She respected his position as an Apprentice to the Dark Lord and said not one cruel word to him during the whole meal.
Wormtail was another matter, however. He begrudgingly brought some soup for Harry, and they shared a look of acknowledgment of switched positions as he sliced the bread.
The rat faced man was fully in disgrace, for some unknown reason, and was giving Harry ugly looks and mumbling under his breath almost as much as Kreacher had.
"...thunderstorms," Lestrange was saying blandly, the ends of her hair trailing in her soup. "It could be all downhill from here if we can't cast the spell tomorrow. Whole Revel will be over."
Harry didn't say a word to this, just stared at his soup in suspicion. What if it was poisoned?
"Well are you going to look at it or eat it?" Wormtail complained.
"It could be poisoned," said Harry pointedly. "Considering who served it."
"Ah," said Voldemort. "There is a simple spell I can teach you right now Harry, that can show you if you are being poisoned or not."
And he did indeed show Harry the spell. And the soup was not poisoned.
"Thank you," said Harry, then turned to glare at Wormtail, who shuffled along to serve the next person, still mumbling under his breath.
"Your welcome Harry," said Lord Voldemort, and then turned back to talking about the weather.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Lord Voldemort felt at ease as the boy slid easily in next to him when he rose to leave the tent. He sensed a certain sullenness about the boy that annoyed him, and he had to force himself not to smack the youth within an inch of his life.
He'll grow out of it, as he gets used to things...I suspect he had other plans for his year then being bound to me.
A certain spell had been used to unite them as Master and Apprentice. The Dark magical kind of spell that Potter hated so much. Lord Voldemort would know where the boy was at all times, what sort of state of emotion he was in, when he was in danger, when he was ill, when he was healthy.
It was a bond he hadn't shared with any since he had Apprenticed Severus. He planned to shake things up a bit, and pull the boy out of his sullen state. So he sent for Severus and some of the young people, and told them to meet him at the Arena.
"Its past midnight," Harry said pointedly. "When do we sleep?"
"Whenever. The Revel is a night event, as it has been since its beginning many ages ago, and often times you will find us up until all hours doing some spells or giving some lesson. Get used to it. Nightime is ours."
Harry seemed to nod at this, and said nothing else as he followed Voldemort through the crowds, which parted before him by rote.
Lord Voldemort had gotten used to being that much of a menace to others, but he hoped he could reverse this effect in his own followers and fellows. Dark Wizards were his kin, not his enemies, yet they feared him as much as his kin.
To true, thought the Dark Lord with a hint of amusement. Until Potter rid himself of that scar, I had no heart. Strange how my positive half went into the boy, attracted so to that innocence.
It had not been easy adjusting to having the positive half of his soul back. For one, he had been feeling almost too fatherly to Severus, forgiving him for things he would have punished his followers for before hand. And the feelings of delight he was feeling from being around young people was somewhat sickening.
Youths, thought Lord Voldemort, as he slid into the arena with an impish grin. Are my weakness. So innocent...ah, there is Severus now.
"My Lord," he said, bowing. "You wish to practice with the boy?"
"I wish to have a demonstration, a small demonstration, so that the young man can understand what will be expected of him during his Apprenticeship."
Harry frowned in consternation and Voldemort turned to look at him directly.
Almost a man, not quite a child anymore, the boy was too small for his skin. His heart was full of a joy and energy that did not fit the mature body he was in. It was time for the lad to grow up at last.
Entirely to beautiful, this youth. I shall have to keep certain...impulses of my own...in check...
Too many times had he wrapped a seductive young thing around his fingers, and his body, and tossed them off with hurt feelings and misunderstanding. He was a creature of comforts, and he kept nothing next to him that didn't make him happy. Bellatrix had learned that the hard way.
"Now then," said Voldemort, once the young people were assembled. "I am going to demonstrate a technique I call 'Calming The Instincts', in which, Harry shall very quickly learn to control his impulses and master his body. Harry, stand in front of me please."
The boy faced him, determination and fear in his eyes. What he was expecting was some sort of punishment designed to embarrass him. He probably didn't understand fully that he was a pupil of Lord Voldemort now, and that every moment of the day would be a test, designed not to embarrass, but to educate.
"So Harry, how good are you at keeping your body perfectly still?"
"I'd...say I'm all right with it," the youth said nervously.
"Good. I want you to stand with your feet apart, and your arms to your sides, like that yes. Stand up straight, and close your eyes, and keep them closed until I say to open them."
The boy obeyed, and Lord Voldemort smirked, looking up at Severus pointedly. The man had an amused look on his face, knowing exactly what was happening.
Probably remembering when I did this to him, thought Voldemort with a chuckle, as he conjured in his hand a small scorpion. Lets see how well he masters himself.
"Harry Potter, I have in my hand a scorpion so toxic that one bite can cause instant paralysis and death," said Voldemort, lying through his crooked little teeth. "I want you to hold perfectly, perfectly still."
He lifted the creature up by the tail and gently, with great care, placed it on Harry's head. It rested there for a moment and turned around a few times, then settled itself that it wasn't able to leave its perch and remained there placidly.
Voldemort checked the boy's breathing. He was very tense, and sweat had broken out on his brow.
"Calm yourself. Gently, breath in. Out. Relax. It will sense if you panic," he was delighted when the boy did calm down, gentling into soft breaths and a pursed, more inquisitive purse to his mouth.
Ah, now he's curious. He wants to know the purpose of this exercise. After all I did vow not to kill him, did I not?
A moment of indecision seemed to fill the boy and Voldemort knew his time had come.
"All right boy, now obey me, to the last exacting detail. I want you to pick up the scorpion by the tail. Move slowly, and if it pinches you with its claws do not shrink or jerk about."
Harry almost opened his eyes at this command, but did reach up, eyes closed, in search of the scorpion, and almost waited for a moment for it to turn around a bit before picking it up by the tail, a little too gently for Voldemort's comfort, and lifted it from his head, holding it away from his body a little too far. He was still too nervy about the creature, but he had obeyed, and that was a start.
"Very good. Now open your eyes and look at the scorpion."
Harry did, and his eyes went wide and he shivered a bit, swallowing.
"Mister Potter that scorpion is no more toxic than a bumblebee," said Voldemort calmly. "But it could have been, and you handled it exactly as you should have. Feel proud of yourself, many other people would have over reacted and quickly been stung."
Harry looked almost upset for a moment, but nodded pointedly. A hint of understanding light in his eyes. He didn't say what was on his mind though; how angry he was that he had been put through the stress without really being in danger! How offended he was! Voldemort almost laughed. He took the scorpion from the boy's hand and vanished it, then turned to look at the amused audience that had been watching from the sidelines.
Severus came over to him knowingly, a grin on his face.
"I remember when you did that to me."
"And you handled yourself exactly as Harry has," said Voldemort pointedly, which caused the boy to blink and calm down a shade. "Severus, would you be so kind as to teach these young people some more of those calming and breathing exercises? I think they could learn well from young Harry's example."
Severus nodded, and Voldemort gave Harry instruction to return to their tent when Severus was done with the lesson, before turning and heading back to the tent himself to get some work done.
He would have liked to have been teaching the boy himself, but he had some paperwork to finish himself, which unfortunately he couldn't pass off to someone else.
How he hated paperwork.
"That was...rather scary," Harry admitted as he was lined up in a circle with the other kids for some sort of lesson.
The young people from other countries could only be taught magic by their recruiters and parents, and so Harry was going to have this lesson only with students from Hogwarts; Draco, Pansy and the others. They acknowledged him with a little more respect this time, but with a hostility in their eyes that matched his own. There would be no instant healing of hurt feelings with them, there would have to be mutual agreement to a truce in some way, if he was to survive this year in a day without the isolation he knew would come without people his own age to talk to.
Snape seemed to sense the intensifying hostility so he made a sharp snapping sound with his fingers to direct their attention.
"You'll be doing these calming exercises not just for practice, but in order to prepare yourselves for the Harvest Spell tomorrow night. So pay attention! And...relax."
Harry couldn't help a chuckle and Snape turned to look at him.
"Something funny Mister Potter?"
"You get us all worked up and tense, then tell us to relax," Harry said, smiling so Snape would know he was kidding.
"Hm, perhaps you are right," said Snape, with an impish look in his eyes. "Perhaps I should do this instead."
Nothing could have prepared Harry for what came next. Snape started singing, in Gaelic, a low lilting sound that was very much akin to the magic that Snape had used to heal Draco Malfoy after Harry had nearly killed him with the sectumsempra. The music of is rolled over the small group and Harry saw, with itchy tenseness, the other young people clasp hands.
He was startled when Draco Malfoy took his hand pointedly, and Crabbe on the other side of him.
"Close your eyes," Malfoy whispered. "He's simulating the Harvest Spell for us."
Oh, thought Harry, and he closed his eyes.
It was rather difficult to concentrate or relax, since he was holding hands with Crabbe and Malfoy, but he did enjoy the music. It was a sort of questing song, as if Snape was asking for something he desired from the Universe, with the expectation that he would get it.
The notes of the song faded and Snape smiled, his eyes warm.
"Very good," he said to them. "Try to practice breathing calmly. The more tense you are the harder it is to concentrate on the song spell, and the sooner you will fall out of the circle. The longer you remain in the circle the longer your effect on the spell will last."
Harry didn't understand this, but Snape had dismissed them from their lessons and had turned to exit the arena. The young people had converged together now to start chattering and Harry longed to join them, to try and make some sort of sense of what was going on.
"Come along Potter," said Snape pointedly. "You have your orders."
Harry sighed, and turned to leave. He knew the others were watching him leave. He could feel their eyes on their backs. Snape was waiting outside for him, and put a hand on his shoulder.
"One thing at a time Harry," said he. "Get used to being an Apprentice first...then make friends. You may not find the Slytherins as agreeable to befriending you, but there are other young people here who may take to you more warmly."
Harry thought pointedly of the Durmstrang boy Ollie, and nodded ruefully, feeling the very real ache of longing in his chest.
"I miss them, my friends," Harry admitted. "They wanted to come with me. And now I won't see them until who knows when. The Revel is only a month long. If I don't come back in a month...they'll..."
Harry looked down, swallowing his pain, and Snape sighed.
"There are worse things than having your friends think you are dead," he said. "I had to go through years of my friends thinking I was a traitor. Its good to be back amongst them, even if its under strained circumstances."
Harry jerked his head up but Snape didn't explained, just pointed Harry back towards his tent, and then went in the direction of his own with a slight slump to his gait.
Again I underestimated that man's ability to knock me over with a few words. I swear, I'm going to talk to Voldemort about him and find out what makes him tick.
Voldemort was waiting in his tent for Harry when he arrived. Or rather, the man was simply there, with head bent over his table of maps looking cross and sullen.
Harry suppressed the urge to ask the man if he needed help with something, and instead coughed to let his presence be known.
"Ah Harry," said Voldemort. "You have returned. Good. There is your room, I took the liberty of putting your trunk inside for you. I have a few things to talk to you about before you get some rest. Sit."
Harry moved over to the table, hardly able to breath, and settled in with a nervous glance at the paperwork on the table between them.
"So then Harry, how did your lesson with Severus go?"
"It was rather interesting, actually," said Harry, trying not to look the man directly in the eye. "He sang."
"Ah yes," said Voldemort. "Song spells are a facet of the Harvest Spell. One person sings, another pulls magic from still others into the ground, and the song spell directs that energy to a purpose. Its complicated ritual magic. You won't have to do anything more complicated then breath, the energy will be pulled from you by the one directing it."
"Oh," said Harry. "Will Snape be singing tomorrow then?"
"Ah, no," said Voldemort. "He's more likely to be directing the magic. I do believe that Bellatrix is going to be doing the song. She's more accustomed to singing for hours, unlike Severus who has no patience for it."
Harry nodded, then looked over the maps.
"May I ask what you are doing sir?"
"Oh," Voldemort rolled his eyes, a rather human gesture, and tapped the maps. "I'm in charge of security at the Revel this year. This is a map of the wards and camp grounds. I'm trying to figure out how the food supplies were tampered with. I know Severus would not have done it, so it had to have happened before they were doled out. Whoever did that had to have access to the supplies tent before the Revel started. And that is what bothers me the most. It had to have been somebody from my own group, which is unsettling. Which of my faithful is...unfaithful? Or was it a prank by a young person who is too scared of punishment to confess to the crime? Was it perhaps a house elf after all? Too many factors to consider."
Harry nodded, then felt his own stomach twisting with hunger. Voldemort seemed to be lost in his problem, looking down at the maps in frustration.
"Well, you can't solve anything if you're hungry," said Harry. "Do we have any food here yet?"
Voldemort looked up in surprise, then smiled.
"I have some apples, there by the stove, Severus brought to me, assured me they were clean. Perhaps you could slice some for us to share while I clean up this mess?"
And the Dark Lord actually began to pick up the papers on the table to organize. Harry stood up gratefully from the table and went over to the bag of apples by the stove.
"So Dark Wizards buy muggle groceries?" said Harry impishly, noting the plastic bag.
"In a pinch," admitted Voldemort. "We much prefer growing our own, then having to depend upon muggles to feed us. Imagine, if you will, if muggles could grow their food with a spell," and then the Dark Lord smiled. "There would be no poverty, no hunger. Of course, the Ministry of Magic expressly forbids the growing of food using magic."
"Why?" said Harry, as he sliced the apples.
"Sometimes certain magical cross breeding can happen, creating new species of vegetables and fruit that the Ministry cannot regulate," Voldemort smirked and looked at Harry. "Its for the same reasons that Muggles regulate the food they have grown. They don't want people getting free food; you have to pay for it, and paying for it requires a system designed to convince people that you have to have your food inspected and grown by paid employees, which puts a price tag on the food you consume, and which the governments can profit from."
Harry was boggled by this, and said nothing. That Voldemort was inclined to understand how muggle governments worked startled him. He set a plate of sliced apple down in front of the wizard, who cast a spell of some sort on it before eating it.
Oh, the poison spell. Perhaps I should to...
It was rather quiet after that, with small chewing and swallowing sounds. Harry was suddenly severely curious.
"You eat..." said Harry, feeling embarrassed and slightly impolite. "And your hair is growing in and..."
Voldemort's head snapped up, and he swallowed.
"Well, I didn't think, I mean after the cauldron spell I wasn't sure that you were even...human."
"Would it have mattered if I was human? You have a giant for a friend do you not?"
Harry thought about it.
"I guess it doesn't matter. No," said Harry, and stuck some apple into his mouth.
"Now I have a question for you," said the Dark Lord curiously. "How did you get rid of your scar?"
Harry swallowed, feeling the pain rising again, but answered quietly.
"My phoenix wand. I used the feather in a potion to remove it."
"Ah, I see," said Voldemort. "A phoenix feather is a powerful ingredient when used properly."
Harry nodded, but said nothing. The memory of his first wand's destruction was too painful to talk about, let alone think about. And Voldemort was being painfully polite.
"Try not to let it bother you Harry," said Voldemort with a quiet sigh. "Many wizards go through several wands in their lifetime. Its the wizard not the wand that matters, despite what Ollivander would tell you. It is merely a tool."
"It was a part of me," said Harry. "It was the first real thing that I owned that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt I was a wizard."
"Yes, I suppose so," said Voldemort. "Why don't you go rest for awhile, and put your new wand under your pillow. It may help you to bond with it."
Harry pushed the half finished plate of apples towards the other wizard, then stood miserably to stumble towards his room. He couldn't handle this feeling, this feeling that the wand had been much more significant than anything else he had ever owned.
This feeling that he had lost something significant in losing his scar. Voldemort was right; it was something he had to sleep on.
Now why was the thought of Voldemort being right about something not as disconcerting to him as it should have been? He would have to sleep on that too.
In the end he had far too many thoughts to sleep on, and he lay awake for almost an hour before exhaustion finally took him to dreamland, and dreams of meadows, rolling hills and a lake in a valley, a peaceful pleasant place he had never been to.
In the morning all thoughts of his old wand were gone and he was ready to start learning magic again, in earnest. Whatever path his old wand had meant for him was passed, and a new path was laid out now before him.
-Today is my birthday, so here is a present for you on my day of birth. A new chapter! :D I plan to do just writing today, just what I love to do, so I may post more later today. Hurrah!
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Morning came with glinting hot sunlight through the cracks in the tent flaps. It slipped under doorways and brought Harry awake with a satisfying yawn. Sleep had given him a refresh that he had severely needed. All the aches seemed to have slipped away from his body and he felt invigorated, ready to start the day.
Ready to use his new wand. He pulled it out from under his pillow and examined it with his fingers. He hadn't looked twice at his new wand since getting it, still mourning the loss of the old one. He had been expecting the wand to maybe react, the way his phoenix wand had reacted the first time he had touched it, but it still felt like just a dull lump of wood in his hands. It wasn't bonded to him yet, and maybe his own feelings of remorse for the old one was getting in the way. It was time to be getting on with things.
Its time to get over the old wand... Harry thought with a pang.
But this time the heavy ache of loss didn't accompany the thought and he breathed a little more easily. He stretched out, and began shuffling about his tent room in search of clothes.
Suddenly, he heard the voices coming from just beyond the tend, muffled by the silencing charms on his room. Curiosity getting the better of him, Harry slipped on his invisibility cloak and slipped out of his room. Sure enough Lord Voldemort and, ironically enough, the wandmaker Ollivander came into the tent, and they were talking about wands, of course.
"Don't let it distress you," Voldemort said, rubbing a hand over his short growth of hair. "Of course Severus would feel uncomfortable trying to get fully matched wands for his recruits. I would too if I were a recruiter. The Ministry cannot stop a person from buying a wand not suited to them as a replacement, but they CAN stop them from buying more than a few wands per year. If he's buying low grade wands and using the excuse that they keep breaking then that keeps him in the clear. The Ministry can't prove that he isn't breaking them, because low grade wands tend to do that. Even first years know that."
"Of course now he can't GO to the stores..."
"No, he can. He has many disguises with which he frequents Diagon Alley. At any rate, I didn't bring you here to discuss Severus. I brought you to discuss my Apprentice."
"Harry Potter? Holly with Phoenix feather Core, 11 inches..."
"That wand is destroyed," Voldemort interrupted pointedly. "He has a new wand now. I was hoping you could check it once he is awake, to decide what kind of core it is."
"You're worried the new core may be, as Snape said, a creature that is difficult to bond to?"
"More to the point, we know the core is a Dragon's Heartstring," Voldemort stated, sitting down at the table. "But if the Heartstring core of the wand is from a Hungarian Horntail it may not want to obey Harry at all, which may be why he's done so horribly in the duels he's been put in. Harry is quick to master new duelling spells, so he should be more capable with the new magic he's learning than he's shown."
"So he's had problems with the new wand..." said Ollivander. "And you think it may be a Horntail heartstring. Only way to know is to look. But why would the Horntail be a problem, may I ask?"
"You were at the tournament Ollivander. You know that Harry had defeated a Horntail," Voldemort explained. "Stole a Horntail egg right out from its mother's grasp. No matter that the egg wasn't a real egg, the mother believed it to be, and this sort of situation leaves a magical imprint under the skin, especially if the dragon made any sort of contact physically with Harry."
"Ah," said Ollivander. "Now I see. If his new wand is horntail he may have to drink dragon's blood every day until he is properly bonded with it. Otherwise it would take years for him to master it, as opposed to the short time it took for him to Master the Phoenix wand. He touched, and possibly bonded with a Phoenix in his first year, the very phoenix that gave the feather, and thus the wand had no trouble working with him. But a dragon core might reject him, seeing him as an enemy."
Yuck! thought Harry, moaning at the thought of downing dragons blood every morning like some sort of vampire.
"Well, I hadn't thought of giving him dragon's blood. Really too expensive and not reliable. My thought was that if he can't bond to this one, we'll give him a second wand, and keep the dragon's heartstring wand as a spare. But first we have to be sure of the core. And seeing as how Harry is already in the room, perhaps he'd like to give his two cents on the matter?"
"Uh-oh," said Harry, pulling off the cloak. "How is it people keep seeing through all my disguises?"
"It was easy to deduce," said Voldemort, ignoring Ollivander's look of incredulous shock. "You own an invisibility cloak, which you have been prone to using in the past. And there are silencing charms on the room to muffle noise so I'm sure curiosity at what we were talking about would have drawn you out eventually. That, and you forgot to shield your mind."
"Ah, right, my Occlumency," said Harry with a hiccup, and apologized to both of them for spying. "So you think my new wand may be a problem? I won't have to drink blood will I?"
"I don't think so," said Voldemort with a chuckle. "Let Ollivander have a look at your wand first, in any case."
Harry dutifully pulled the wand out and Ollivander immediately reached out to take it for inspection. Harry sat down between Voldemort and the wandmaker as he went over it with his fingers, eyes narrow and searching, as if he could see through the wood itself to find what was inside.
"This may take some time," said the wandmaker softly. "There's a very powerful corre within this wand, no doubt, no doubt..."
"But it doesn't work for me," Harry said, rather depressed.
"It has nothing to do with you, Harry," said the Dark Lord. "It has to do with the core."
Voldemort quickly explained that while wands were tools to be used by the wizard, some powerful magical creatures left imprints upon the wizard they came into contact with, and were so powerful that even their feathers and skin, separated from the body of the being, could leave that imprint, and which was why they were often preferred as wand core to other benign magical creatures. Their magical imprint was stronger. Hence why a horntail core might react to the hostility that was left behind after Harry's defeating one in the triwizard tournament. Harry found himself more curious about this, about wands, and maybe wanted to know a bit more about how brother wands worked as well, but before he could ask Ollivander laughed and held the wand aloft.
"You were right," he said, handing the wand to Lord Voldemort. "Horntail, female too, which doubles the potential for hostility between the boy and core."
"Hm," said Voldemort, taking the wand and drawing circles with it in the air, and Harry saw with shock that the dragon wand instantly bonded to Voldemort, shooting out green and golden sparks and bathing them in light. "It seems as if this wand is rather suited to me," said Voldemort with fascination.
"Dragon's heartstring is more suited to offensive magic then phoenix feather, which is more meant for defensive magic, as I've told you many times," said Ollivander softly. "Though, I wonder now..."
Voldemort grinned, as if he knew exactly what Ollivander was thinking. He pulled out his own wand, Yew, with Phoenix feather core, and held it out to Harry. Harry was stunned.
"Give it a try Mister Potter, see if its a fit," said Ollivander promptly. "Wizards will trade their wands often in such situations as these where one persons wand is more suited to another wizard. Its custom."
Harry hesitantly reached out for the wand, the wand that held the other feather of the matched pair that had kept him bonded to Lord Voldemort for many years. The wand that had killed his parents, and Cedric Diggory. The wand which contained the feather of Fawkes the Phoenix, his friend, and the friend of Albus Dumbledore, who was now dead. The wand that was in so many ways the other half of who he had been for many years.
He took it. Instantly the wand began to sing, vibrating like a dream come true when he touched it, the familiar red and gold sparks joining the last dying light of the green and gold from Voldemort's wand, the colors melting together and settling into the ground.
Then suddenly, Voldemort's wand too started singing, seemingly reacting to Harry's wand, the two of them singing together in bright song, and causing both Harry and Voldemort to stare in confusing.
Ollivander, however, clapped his hands in delight.
"Better than I could have hoped for!" said the old wandmaker proudly. "You've found another pair!"
"Pair?" said Harry. "But they can't be brother wands! That wand has a dragon heartstring core and this is phoenix feather!"
"No no," said Voldemort, his voice, for the first time ever, sounding stricken. "He's not talking about wands with the same core. He's talking about WIZARDS with the same core."
"Huh?" said Harry in confusion.
"Its like this Mister Potter," Ollivander began to excitedly explain. "Wizards, like wands, have magic at their core. We call this our magical soul, separate from the spiritual soul which is what a ghost is. Often two wizards, not even related, will find they can magically bond these cores. This core bond, or soul bond, means that the two wizards are particularly suited to doing magic with one another. Usually a defensive and offensive pair of wands will recognize this bond between two powerful wizards who are close allies or friends, or lovers, and react by bonding themselves. In short, your wands recognized that you were Master and Apprentice, and the magical ties between you, and so bonded themselves the way brothers would. The wands can now act in unity, as well as separately, and cannot oppose each other. You can now even use each other's wands as if you were bonded to them!"
"So much for dragon's blood then," said Harry, laughing a bit nervously.
But Ollivander had calmed down a bit, and was now looking at Voldemort squarely.
"Uh, My Lord? Are you all right?"
Lord Voldemort had a strange look in his eyes; astonishment, and a little bit of pain. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.
"I have always heard of such bondings between wands occurring. That my own wand had been bonded to another wand by a shared creature core was something of a shock to me, being so rare. But this sort of bond, as common as it is, has never happened to me. Not with any of my closest friends or allies. Nor with even my own foster son, Severus."
Harry jerked, but Voldemort strode across the room to go stand by the door.
"Albus Dumbledore told me that there was only one way such a bond would happen to me. My soul had to truly be whole again. And for that to occur I had to feel love for someone, or remorse for something..."
Harry and Ollivander stood stock still as Lord Voldemort paused in the doorway, eyes all aglow with something like regret and an aching need for something...something Harry couldn't place.
Then he spoke it.
"I must go speak to...to Severus," said Voldemort. "Harry, could you see to cleaning up our tent? After that you're free to go to the arena and practice with the young people. I have a feeling I'll be busy all day. And Ollivander? Thank you, I shall talk to the council for you on your problem, as repayment for your help."
Both Harry and Ollivander nodded, dazed, and then the wizard left the two of them alone. Ollivander turned to look at Harry.
"You, young Potter, have just about swept the floor out from every wizard at this Revel with your presence, and more, and now this. He didn't say it in so many words, but I sensed some small amount affection towards you from the Dark Lord. Yes, affection for you may be what caused this bond, more so than anything else."
Ollivander left, and Harry lifted his new wand to look at it, feeling the pulsing warmth and the red glow of the wand like a beacon.
Affection? Harry thought with astonishment. Are we...have we become friends? No, no, I could never! My parents, this wand! How could I? How could I?"
But if the wand had any answer it didn't give it. It merely continued to sing softly for many moments, soothing Harry as if it were the singing of the Phoenix to whom its core belonged.
"So your wands bonded?" said Severus, stunned and just a little bemused.
That Lord Voldemort was regaining his humanity slowly over time had not been missed by his Death Eaters. Now the Dark Lord was pacing around Severus Snape's tent, frustration in every inch of his body, one hand tangled tightly into his short scruff of silver hair, the other on his hip. Sweat was beading down his brow, his eyebrows coming in silver and gray, his skin was now more of a flesh tone. Even his nose was starting to look a little more human.
"How is it that we get rid of one bond, and then form these others? We'll never be rid of eachother!"
From his tone of voice, Severus decided that the Dark Lord was not so opposed to this idea.
"So what now?" said the wizard, finally coming over to where Severus was sitting and slumping, yes slumping, in very human fashion in the chair in front of him. "Am I friends with the boy then? No, he didn't give me the impression of wanting to be friends at all. Yet, if he was, it would make recruiting him an even stronger probability..."
"You're forgetting one serious thing, of which you spoke to me last night while the boy slept," Severus said, putting an arch to his eyebrow. "The frustration you feel because an Apprentice cannot sleep with their Master. You want the boy. You were going to make him your plaything. But if you do that, with a bond like you have, you risk a soul bond deeper than just the wands reacting to an Apprentice link. You risk becoming his soul mate."
Voldemort didn't say anything to that, he was staring down at his hands like a lost thing, like a teenager who had just been told he will flunk a test if he didn't give up going to a quidditch finals in order to study. He was supremely confused, like nothing Severus had ever seen in the man before.
"Humanity hurts," said Voldemort suddenly. "Being human means being weak, vulnerable to death, and now, to affection. You're right Severus," the Dark Lord's eyes blazed, smouldered with obvious desire. "I want that boy, as much as I want to give up on all the paperwork and just hunt down our food poisoner like a wolf on the prowl. Ignoring the age differences, Merlin knows I haven't been human for most of my years to begin with, I think he really would be a good lover. But soul mates? That requires love, something I've always...avoided."
"Human emotions get in the way of custom, duty and honor," said Severus promptly. "We Dark wizards tend to fall into the trap of thinking that emotions like these are weak, and can gain us nothing. But you already have found a powerful bond to Harry has gained you much. A more powerful wand, a bonded pair of wands that can work between you both, a strengthening of that Apprentice bond, and moreso, the wands may just be able to react to your commands now readily without the need to touch them, or be within visual distance of them, as long as Harry is near. Think about it."
"I have been. I have been. Believe me Severus, I'm the last person who could recognize the power of love, but here it is. The power that I did not know that Harry has unending resources of, and now I know how it can undo me, how this power can defeat me. Its making me human. If I did make him my lover, he could readily destroy all the hard work I've done learning Dark Magic, training, making myself strong..."
"Maybe now is the time to start learning how to use Dark Magic in a different way, without using hatred as the means?"
"I don't understand," said Voldemort. "Explain."
"Well, my Lord, first, a confession," said Severus, feeling a slight fear and panic in his breastbone. "I didn't hate Albus. In fact I..."
"Was his lover...I know," Voldemort shook his head. "Somebody told me, think it was Wormtail, trying to put you in disgrace. Little did he know that same-sex pairing were not any sort of offense to me. Though you could have picked a better target for your affection..."
"But I didn't hate Dumbledore, and I used the killing curse on him!" said Severus desperately, trying to make his point before this went in a bad direction. "I was able to use love, not hate, to the same effect."
"What? How? Oh, I see, it was the emotion that decided the effect."
"Which is why you've always been, shall we say, lacking when it comes to ritual magic in which there are multiple casters," Severus continued. "To work with another person requires a certain sort of bond, a type of shared humanity, that leaves an imprint which permits the magic to work within the group."
"Like the bond between my wand and Harry's. Ah! Now I understand."
Voldemort laughed, and Severus thought for a moment that he was going to throw a fit. But instead he sat down again and stretched his hands out.
"So what should I do to school myself in this new technique?"
"Well, for starters, you could be teaching Harry instead of me," said Severus with a huff. "Which will prove especially more useful to him now that your wands are so bonded. You need to learn to work together."
"Truth," said Voldemort. "All right Severus you are off the proverbial hook. I may take over teaching all the young people. You can then take over the paperwork."
"Oh no you don't," said Severus with a grin. "You know those papers only mean something to the Council if they are coming from you."
"So, you write the papers, fill out the tedious paperwork, and I'll sign them. Simple."
"Thats the muggle way of doing things," Severus huffed.
"If it works...?"
Severus stared at his Lord for a moment, then chuckled.
"All right, you teach the young people. Get old Grindelwald out into the ring with his own youngster and you two can have a grand old time I'm sure."
"Ah yes, Gellert. That might just be a proper idea. But not today, today I just want to work with Harry, in preparation for the Harvest Spell tonight."
"Ah, now there's a proper way to learn how to work magic in unity. You could be Bella's second in the spell instead of me."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Its easy," said Severus. "You are used to pulling magic from others by force. You'll have to pull magic from the others to give it to Bella, but with their hands linked you'll only be able to pull it if they are willing. Since they'll be fully willing in light of the Harvest Spell and the need for safe food to eat, then it should be like taking candy from a baby."
"Ah well, that is a good idea."
"Exactly. And I'll play thirds, in case Bella falls out of the Spell. Then you take over for her and I take over for you."
"Excellent," said Voldemort brightly. "Though my singing voice is atrocious, so lets just hope Bellatrix can handle tonight's spell."
"I'm sure she shall, my Lord. She's been practicing."
Both men chuckled fondly in the memory of Bellatrix trying to hide herself in her tent while she practiced singing, and having the silencing spells fail without her knowledge so that the whole camp could hear her recitation of Bizet's famous Habanera piece.
Catching Bellatrix Lestrange singing a muggle opera had been only one of the highlights that the Revel had brought into their normally dreary state of battle readiness. What else would they have to look forward to as the month moved forward? The council was even already considering extending the Revel for a second month!
But first we need the food to last us that long. Lets hope the Harvest Spell works. And that we can unmask the traitor and prevent a second poisoning of our resources!
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
-This chapter only has one section, but its a rather long section. Its all in Harry's point of view. Sorry for that. But it'll get to its regular separated points of view soon. Gonna work on just this fic for a little while. I'm enjoying the tiny twists and turns this story is taking. Also, I did not make a mistake in making Gellert Grindelwald the representative from Germany, when he was well known in Bulgaria and attended school at Durmstrang. Rather, I'm going to assume that Germany has some direct control over the neighboring countries around it, including Bulgaria, so the wizarding bit of Bulgaria is partly under the control of Germany, at least the Dark Magical side. Its much this way in all the Federation, where one person can have control of the Dark Magical community in neighbouring countries. Liang Wu controls China Korea and Japan, and Mongolia. Okay, enough politics, enjoy the fic.
Harry arrived in the practice arena with the feeling that the tables now were turned. The new wand hummed its encouragement in his hand as he neared the group of Slytherins working on their disguise spells near the back. All the young people of the arena watched his approach with trepidation.
Easy Harry, he told himself. You have the advantage. Don't let them KNOW you have the advantage.
He plastered a fake annoyed look on his face and approached Malfoy squarely, ignoring the goofy clown getup the boy was currently disguised in.
"I have been told to come practice here in the arena," Harry muttered, making it sound as if he had no choice in the matter, when he was really looking forward to the prospect of laying some strong magic on somebody else for a change. "And I wasn't given any suggestions as to who to practice with, though I suspect he meant the Slytherins."
"Go for it Dray," said Pansy simperingly. "You can mop up with him, he'll know better than to try and duel with you again."
"I'm getting kind of tired of this," said Draco with a huff, vanishing his clown costume pointedly. "But if the Lord wills it, then I suppose I should at least put out some effort."
Harry mentally grinned, but kept his face a scowl as he stalked over to the center of the arena. The international kids all formed a circle around the perimeter, all of them looking highly entertained. Cho Chang sat with Theodore Nott in the stands. She didn't seem as interested as duelling as he was in making out with her boyfriend, but the pair broke from their amorous necking at the sight of Harry and Draco moving into the center of the ring to duel.
Harry didn't so much more than glance at Cho Chang, before turning to face his opponent. Wand up, then the bow, the turn, he kept his eyes slightly averted sideways to see if anybody on the sidelines made a motion that Draco had turned early to cast a spell, and put up a shield charm in time to deflect a giggling jinx.
"Good reflexes," said Ollie, the Durmstrang boy.
Harry was amused, for it had been Ollie's shocked eyes that had warned him of the coming attack. Soon he was facing Draco in the circle, his shield still humming as Draco tried to think of which spell to cast to break the shield. He tried the standard spell, but when that didn't work, much to his dismay and Harry's amusement, he went in for something stronger.
Harry gave him a break and pulled back on the shield so that he'd think he broke it, allowing Draco to put him on the defensive. After all, that's what his wand was supposed to be best at! But once it finally dawned on Draco and the others that he wasn't going to be so easily beaten this time, he drew from his library of offensive spells to change the tide of the duel. This time it was Draco who was turned into a chair, and Harry was the one who reversed the transfiguration.
Draco was purely gobsmacked.
Harry held his wand up, leveling it between his fingers for them to see it.
"You have a different wand!" said Draco.
"Yeah, I was having problems with the other wand, which is why I haven't been as competent in dueling as I normally am," Harry felt a bit like gloating, but then he held out his hand to Draco. "It was a good duel though, we were still evenly matched."
Draco looked at the hand. The Slytherins were silent. Ollie, the Durmstrang boy, slipped up next to Harry, as if they had been friends for years just like Harry and Ron. And it rather felt that way too. Harry would have to talk to Ollie later, but it occurred to him that, unlike Ron, Ollie approved when Draco shook hands with Harry.
"All right then Potter," said Draco formally.
"Call me Harry," said Harry. "I have a feeling we're going to have to get used to seeing each other a lot now."
"Does this mean we're friends?" said Pansy, suddenly alarmed. "Because if we are I have to find somebody else to practice my sharp tongue spell on."
"Sharp tongue spell?" Harry asked, as all the teens crowded around them now.
"Yes," said Pansy with a chuckle. "My own spell. I cast it on myself, and then I have a retort at hand to counter anything somebody may say to me, especially with enemies. Its the best way to unhinge people you want to win against in a battle. Mother says I should just learn to be clever myself, but the spell kicks in when my mind goes blank."
"You don't think she was insulting people for no reason?" Draco said, rolling his eyes. "She was trying to goad people into helping her practice this darned spell. And I'm inclined to agree with Mrs Parkinson."
"Well at least its a spell of my own creation!" said Pansy. "None of you lot have ever invented your own spells before!"
"That is clever," said Harry, catching them all off guard. "Making a spell, I mean. I only know one other person who invented their own spell."
"You mean me?"
Harry turned around, and smiled at Snape, willingly. The man had the most amusing grin on his face.
"You're a glutton for punishment aren't you Potter?" said Snape pointedly.
"Too late sir," said Draco. "Harry already beat me. And did you really make your own spell?"
"Yes," said Snape, sounding sheepish. "And my spell almost killed you last year Mister Malfoy. Better for me to keep it out of dangerous hands."
Harry turned an embarrassed shade of red and the youth all gathered around Snape now.
"I am here to inform you children, that is the British kids, that I will no longer be your instructor for the duration of the Revel. I will be taking my full place as the British council representative, and all lessons henceforth, until the end of the Revel, will be conducted by the Dark Lord."
"What?" said Harry. "Why?"
"Yeah, I mean no disrespect, but you're a good teacher sir," said Draco, looking fearful and panicked.
Snape turned to look at Harry first, then Draco, then put his hands to his chin as if he were thinking how best to put his next words.
"The Dark Lord has...been having changes to his magical core," he said neutrally, something they would understand since the magical core was constantly shifting and changing during puberty. "And as such he will be practicing as much as you children will, to strengthen his techniques. Of course he would never outwardly admit to any weakness, so he has told the council he wants to teach his Apprentice personally the way Gellert Grindelwald will be doing, rather than working with a third party."
"That's right," said Ollie. "Grindelwald Apprenticed me the minute he got out of Nuremgard. Been in the works for years, just needed to get him out. Best for us really, being cousins we'll work best together."
"Grindelwald is your cousin?" said Harry, staring at Ollie.
"Yep, and I'm named after my grandfather, Ollivander Grindelwald Senior. I'm Ollivander Grindelwald Junior, just Ollie though to you is fine. Nobody in my family knows he's related to us save my mother. It protects him you see. You can't bear a Grindelwald family name well in Britain."
"I can imagine," said Harry, feeling nonplussed about these revelations, a tight feeling suddenly filling his chest.
"So," said Snape, getting into their conversation pointedly. "The Dark Lord will be teaching you, with me taking over as need be, so be on your best behavior. He'll be starting this evening with prepping you before the Harvest Spell. He's taking over my duties there as well."
The tight feeling in Harry's chest was getting stronger. A pain and a dull throb in his wand hand. He said nothing, just pocketed his wand and shivered when the pain wouldn't leave him. He had been dueling too hard.
"Oh!" said Pansy, showing sudden wisdom. "We're all magically close, but if he's going to need to take magic from us during the spell he'll have to tune with us ahead of time since we haven't used magic with him before!"
"Exactly," said Snape, and as all this was going over Harry's head, he explained. "Young people are more prone to break the Harvest Spell than the adults because their cores fluctuate. Tuning in hours ahead of the spell will allow him to take your magic more quickly when it begins, thereby allowing you to leave the spell early without breaking it. You've been studying Miss Parkinson."
Pansy danced in delight at this appraisal of her character, and Draco whispered into Harry's ear,
"She's kinda like Granger when it comes to things like this," the youth muttered. "Its amazing that they never made friends."
Harry held the retort that was forming in his mouth, but then Snape told them to follow him to the food tents, where lunch would be waiting for them, so instead resigned himself to walking after Snape. His hand was throbbing. Soon he wouldn't be able to flex his fingers. He decided he would show it to Snape over dinner, the man would give him a potion, probably berate him for working too hard with his new wand.
"So Ollie, your Grandfather was taking care of you before your Apprenticeship right?" said Draco as he walked.
"Yes, he was the one who brought me here," said Ollie. "He's really concerned about all recruits getting wands strong enough for them to actually use, and doesn't like this idea of putting a bad wand in people's hands."
"Well, I suppose there's a good reason for it," Harry said, feeling his hand throb pointedly. "What good is a wand if all your spells mess up?"
"Thats true," said Pansy, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "But imagine not even having a wand! I wouldn't care about the quality as long as I could use magic! Especially if the person couldn't afford a wand of their own."
This comment from Pansy Parkinson surprised Harry and he had to think about that for a moment, remembering how Ron had even had his wand passed down to him.
"That's the problem recruiters have," said Snape. "Dark Magic can break a wand that isn't bonded fully to its owner. But the older the wand is, the harder it is to bond it to somebody. So breaking an older bonded wand with Dark magic because the owner wasn't ready to work with Darker spells is what causes all the grief. Recruiters would just like to buy disposable wands that won't do any lasting damage by being broken, and are cheaper for us in the long run. The recruit can eventually buy a more suitable bonding wand once they have been trained enough in magic that they can cast a spell without fully botching it and potentially destroying their wand."
"You certainly know a lot about wands," said Ollie.
"Well, I have been in the business of recruiting for years," said Snape wistfully. "It'll be a refreshing break just to sit down for a couple a months doing paperwork."
He raised the flap for the food tent to let them in, then gave a startled gasp. Harry came around his side and peered in, likewise with the rest of the youths.
Chaos. A charred black circle of bodies spread out in the middle. Food was spilled all over the floor, the broken remains of tables, and wizards, witches, were laying on the ground writhing in various motions of pain, some of them separated from their limbs. Some Federation wizards were huddled together, seemingly having gotten their hands on whatever culprit had caused this disaster. Several wizards near the door were keeping anymore people from coming in as the medical staff tried to attend the injured and others tried to clear the mess to make room.
"Why didn't we know this was going on?" said Snape furiously to one of them.
"Silencing charm on the tent. Culprit must have laid it down this morning, didn't want us keening onto him doing his messy work before he was done it."
And then Harry's stomach did a disturbing flip flop in his throat and his mouth went dry. He recognized the silver blond hair of the nearest bloody form, and the red robed figure next to him.
Red and gold robes. Voldemort had been wearing Gryffindor colors today. Why hadn't Harry noticed?
"Father!" said Draco with a squeal, running into the tent. Snape tried to stop him, and as a result Harry managed to get passed him and the security wizards and ran to Lord Voldemort.
Blood, and the smell of charred earth, copper and mineral smells acrid in his nose. Harry pulled on the still form of Voldemort until he had turned him over completely. And what he saw was so startling that he nearly dropped the man's head.
Voldemort didn't merely look human anymore...he was human. Harry had really not been paying attention to the man if he hadn't noticed that. His hair was all grown in now, a shock of gray and silver strands the same length as Harry's hair, and just as unruly. Blood smeared his pale lips, and dribbled down from his nose, which was the most human it had ever looked.
Harry's chest ached. Suddenly he knew why his wand hand had been throbbing; it had been trying to tell him that his Master was in danger, that he had to act. In an instant Harry had recognized this, and regret burned in his stomach as some medical staff levitated the unconscious wizard onto a stretcher.
"What happened Lucius?" said Snape suddenly somewhere to his left.
Harry jerked his head around to see that Draco and a mediwizard had helped the now conscious Malfoy into a sitting position. He had a bleeding head from where something must have hit him, but otherwise was intact.
"Well," Lucius said, then he shook slightly, eyes wet. "I was hit with a paralysis spell, and then one of the attackers came at me, with the intent to kill me. And the Dark Lord...he jumped between us, taking the spell full on."
"Which spell?" said the mediwitch next to Voldemort's side. "It can't have been the killing curse, he's still alive."
"Sectumsempra, your spell Severus," said Lucius, looking horrified. "And then, oh hell, while he was still conscious I asked him why he would protect me, when his life is more important. He just said...he just said, 'No, you're a father Lucius.'"
Lucius Malfoy then did something Harry and probably, by the expression on his face, Draco had never seen him do. He started crying.
"They went after me first. I don't know why. I don't understand!"
"I do," said Gellert Grindelwald suddenly, stomping towards them and touching Lucius Malfoy's chest. "Its something you're wearing."
"What? This?" he pulled the Malfoy family cloak clasp off of his jacket. "Why this?"
"A spell of some kind," said the old wizard, taking the clasp to examine. "Those attackers were under Imperius. Somebody compelled them to destroy the one who was wearing this clasp."
"But I got that clasp from Harry Poter when...oh!"
All eyes turned to Harry. Harry shook his head.
"But I didn't..."
Snape put a hand on his shoulder to stop him from going on the defensive.
"No Harry," said Snape, sounding as gentle as possible. "Their target was you."
"Me?" Harry stared. "But..."
"Its a family heirloom, this clasp," said Lucius Malfoy. "As Jonathan you would have been wearing it when you left the tent today since all wizarding cloaks, summer or winter, require a cloak clasp, and what better for a pureblood to use then something important to the family?"
"Or else they put that spell on all Harry's possessions," Snape sighed. "Which means that the person could not have known Harry was not posing as Jonathan Malfoy any longer. We'll have to examine all your belongings Harry."
"Great. So somebody somehow got a hold of my stuff and is trying to kill me!"
"Thats right," said Grindelwald. "Somebody who made sure all your possessions, or maybe just this clasp, was charmed to track your movements. But why?"
Harry shook his head, pulling his hair back, and Snape said 'AH' quite pointedly.
"Because they don't believe that Potter is no longer a horcrux!" said Snape.
"That could be a likely motive," said Grindelwald. "If the Order had suspected that Potter might still have a piece of soul attached to Lord Voldemort, despite his attempts to remove it, they would have tried other methods to get rid of it. It was leaked all over the newspapers how Harry Potter had a connection with the Dark Lord so it could really be anybody. Oh, great job, by the by, putting the world's biggest loudmouth in the Order of the Phoenix. Thanks to her everyone from Liang Wu to Stanley Shunpike knows about horcruxes."
"Wasn't my idea," said Harry, rubbing his forehead self-consciously. "It was Kingsley's. He thought having the Daily Prophet on our side would be a good idea."
"Nothing related to Rita Skeeter is ever good," said Severus Snape thickly. "The point of the matter is, whoever is trying to destroy you would have had to have known you were going to wear that cloak clasp, but doesn't know that your disguise has been unmasked. Which means it is someone from the Order."
"So one of my friends is trying to assassinate me," said Harry, shaking his head. "Just great."
"Well," said Snape. "Who do you know amongst your friends who knows the Sectumsempra spell that the attackers used on Lucius? I certainly wasn't teaching THAT at Hogwarts, so someone in the Order must have taught them that."
"Only a few people," said Harry. "Ron and Hermione, Remus Lupin. Wait! I told Remus about what happened with that spell and he mentioned it to McGonagall during dinner once, suggested the Order could use it, so there you go! Remus or McGonagall...Oh god!"
"Minerva McGonagall," said Grindelwald, sounding very much like Mad-Eye Moody when he was expounding upon the negative traits of a Death Eater he had been fighting. "Might readily have been her if she did know about the spell. She was not as opposed to using Dark Magic as Dumbledore was, and if she was truly making an attempt to destroy the horcruxes she'd certainly step up to the job of killing the boy."
"Thats all the people that I know of," Harry said with a sickly feeling in his stomach. "But to go as far as to destroy this place to kill me..."
"The assassins didn't know who they were going to kill," said Liang Wu, coming over to join them. "We've just done full charm detection on those fellows; blinding spells to keep them from their jobs upon seeing their surroundings. Whoever was using them to assassinate Lucius Malfoy clearly thought they were expendable. That muggle explosive device that they used sure surprised me."
"It wasn't Lucius they were after Wu," said Severus quietly.
Snape quickly told the man their theory and he nodded.
"Definitely the Order has decided that Harry Potter must be destroyed. They must have through he would die here quickly without a proper wand and with nobody to protect him. His disguises were not all that powerful considering how easily that Chang girl unmasked him. But they must have had assassins in place here just in case Potter survived. So the point of the matter is, what now? And is Potter's poisoning and the poisoning of all the food part of this?"
"It has to be," said Harry. "They might have tried poison first..."
"Well," said Grindelwald, "I suggest we de-charm any other possessions that Harry came to the Revel with, question these Imperiused attackers, and put some extra protections around Mister Potter. I'll take over security duty for Lord Voldemort until he is healed fully."
"Protections?" said Harry with a squeak to his voice.
"You are an Apprentice to Lord Voldemort, a high ranking member of the Federation," said Liang Wu pointedly. "You have the right to be fully protected by the Federation and all Federation members. That is one of the rules for joining the federation; we don't fight each other, we protect each other, everyone else is a radical outside of our circle."
Harry nodded, nonplussed, and Snape helped him to his feet.
"Wu, Harry should go to the medical tent as well," he said suddenly. "I have a feeling that Lord Voldemort's weakness will start spilling over into Harry any moment as he draws power from the boy to himself..."
Sure enough, Harry's legs gave out on him as soon as he tried to stand. Pain buzzed through his ears into his head like a manic mosquito, and his vision went blind with shapes and colors. Snape quickly explained to them the magical bond they had resulted from the Apprenticeship and Liang Wu personally summoned a stretcher to bring Harry to the medical tent. As Harry curled up, fetal with pain, he heard Wu say gently to Snape,
"Looks like they could already be Soul Mates, Severus. This reaction is far to strong..."
Soul Mates? What did that mean? Before Harry could process this, vertigo hit and darkness took him into its tender embrace.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Severus Snape felt a feeling akin to amazement when he entered the infirmary tent to discover Harry Potter, who had fainted almost an hour ago, awake and sitting wanely next to the sleeping form of Lord Voldemort, whom the healers had told him would soon make a full recovery. Harry had one of the man's hands in his own and was staring down at him, with a look on his face that was unreadable. Was he thinking of his friends who had possibly betrayed, and tried to kill him? Was he studying how human the Dark Lord was becoming now due to the destruction of horcruxes?
Was he truly loyal to him? Or was he merely feeling guilt that somebody had once again gotten between him and danger, as Sirius Black had, as Cedric Diggory had, as his parents had?
Harry's head moved barely an inch when Severus arrived next to him.
"With most of the adult federation members nursing injuries the chore of the Harvest Spell has now fallen down to the young people. I will be doing to Harvest Song," Severus muttered a little angrily. "Bellatrix Lestrange's hearing was ruined by the sound of that explosive device so near to her, so her ability to sing in harmony to the magic has been, shall we way, hampered. I will need somebody to pull the magic from the circle. Draco has offered to do this, but being a youth he'll be needing a second on my other side..."
Harry didn't move and inch, and so Severus put a hand on his shoulder.
"Potter...The Federation suggested you might do a good job of it, as you already understand how a link between two people works. The only difference will be that the link will be a chain between people, rather than a one on one connection like you are used to."
Harry jerked his head up at last to look at Severus, his expression unreadable.
"What are Soul Mates?"
Severus Snape was fully taken aback by this sudden change in topics, this comment coming from Harry Potter of all people! What was going on in the boy's mind for this question to have arisen?
"Soul Mates," said Severus quickly, ever logical and ready to answer a question from a youth, "Are two people with a magic bond, such as the bond that you and the Dark Lord share. But the difference is that the Soul Mate bond is permanent. Unlike the brother bond of wands, which ends when one wand breaks, or the core bond, which is ended at the death of one or the other, a soul mate bond cannot be broken. Even in death a soul mated pair remains connected."
Potter just stared at him, so Severus continued, coughing uncomfortably.
"It is very rare for anybody to be Soul Mated, and even then it is very very hard to recognize. And yes Potter, more often than not the soul mated pair end up being lovers. It would be a strange anomaly to share so much intimacy with someone and not be drawn to that person completely."
Harry nodded, releasing Lord Voldemort's hand and looking up at Severus pointedly.
"If we are, as Liang Wu said, Soul Mates, then wouldn't my doing that sort of Harvest Magic potentially affect him?"
Ah, now I see the problem!
"It is possible that you may be, though Liang Wu is given much to maudlin fantasy," said Severus wryly, relieved that at least Potter had heard his comments about the spell. "I wouldn't take his assessment of your bond to the Dark Lord that seriously. What has happened to you in the food tent could happen with a strong magical core bond as well, which we already know you both share."
Harry nodded, almost sadly, then leaned back and started rubbing his hand reflexively. Severus could see at once that the hand was swollen and bruised.
"My wand...tried to warn me that something horrible was happening. I could feel this pain in my wand hand, like it was burned. And then I fainted when he started drawing magic from me to heal himself..."
"Ah, I see," said Severus. "If you draw energy into yourself for the Harvest Spell, the magic may go into Lord Voldemort to heal him, and not into the Spell, thanks to this new core bond of yours."
Harry nodded firmly.
"Well then, that may just be a valid problem. I shall mention this to the Federation, and see if we can find a different person to draw the magic. Although they may end up putting off the Harvest Spell one more night so that the Dark Lord will be recovered in time for it. His lungs would be more suited to hours of singing then mine I'm sure."
"You mean, he'll be all right?" said Harry, jerking his head back and forth between Lord Voldemort and Severus.
"Assuredly so," said Severus. "The Sectumsempra is only fatal when it hits at full magical force, and luckily for our Lord the attacker in question was not adept in this spell."
Harry nodded, almost happily, then surprisingly took the man's hand again to hold.
"Potter," said Severus gravely. "Am I to assume that your loyalty to your Master is now genuine? That you are mentally ready to consider yourself an Apprentice to Lord Voldemort?"
Harry didn't speak, just nodded shakily, then lifted his fingers to brush silver hairs away from the tightly closed eye lids of his Master.
"I don't know why, but it seemed important to me in some way, that he was willing to set aside the Prophecy, and all the madness between us, to teach me. I should be willing to do the same. Even if I'll never forgive him for killing my parents."
"In war Potter, as with anything else, sometimes things don't always go as planned," Severus said quietly. "The Dark Lord was no longer human at that time, the horcuxes had consumed so much of his soul...I think he never would have gone to Godric's Hollow if he had been the way he is now."
"Human," said Harry with a wry smile, still stroking the Dark Lord's silver hair.
Severus took in this picturesque scene for a moment, then walked backwards out of the infirmary tent almost with a feeling of alarm. A thought occurred to him that he had seen such a serene moment only once before in his life, when Lucius Malfoy has been at his pregnant wife's bedside during a miscarriage scare when she had been pregnant with Draco...stroking her blond hair with adoring fingers while telling her that Draco was safe, she hadn't lost the baby...
It was the same expression.
I have to find Lucius! Severus thought in sudden alarm. If anybody would recognize a Soul Mated pair, it would be another pair of Soul Mates!
"Do you think we can do it Dray? Without the adults?"
"I think we'll be fine," said Draco pointedly. "There's still Liang Wu and Grindelwald and a bunch of other adults around. They're just making us do it to test our abilities I bet!"
Draco was sitting now with Pansy, Gregory, Vincent and the other young people in the party tent, worry for their injured parents and the extent of the damage that this attack had caused. The food tent had been the largest of all the tents at the revel, able to fit everyone inside at once, and that it was mostly devastated did little to comfort Draco.
"If they used another muggle explosive device though..."
"We don't know that there's still Order patsies at the Revel," Pansy said, worrying at a fingernail with her teeth.
"You shouldn't bite your nails love," Draco crooned, taking her hand to kiss. "I'm sure if there are anymore, the Federation will get the identities from the ones they already arrested."
"Maybe," Pansy agreed. "Mother said that the attackers had blinding spells on to keep them from knowing where they were or who they were attacking."
"What I want to know," said Ollie Grindelwald suddenly, "How did they get into the Revel?"
Everyone sighed a bit, and seemed to be thinking to themselves. Pansy nibbled the nails on her other hand. Draco watched her, worshiped her, and stroked the hand in his own.
"Well," she said suddenly, causing them to start. "If somebody on the inside had gotten the Secret Keeper letter, then met them at the edge of camp to share it with them..."
"Its possible," said Ollie. "Then that would mean somebody here is a spy, besides Potter. Maybe even one of us"
Draco shivered slightly, and the young people all hugged each other. Pansy tucked herself into Draco's side to hug him and he held her tight.
Nobody had yet mentioned the fact that Cho Chang and Theodore Nott had both been missing since that morning's practice. Either Cho Chang had only been dating Theodore Nott to get into the Revel, or Theodore had been a traitor or...
Or else one of the two was dead, and the other flown from the Revel, the job done, the task completed.
Or maybe both.
"No way!" said Draco suddenly. "No way one of us! It had to be an outsider, that Chang Girl, had to be!"
Pansy started crying. Draco went to her to comfort her.
Until the Federation found her or Theodore, they couldn't know for sure. They could only wait and hope the answers to their questions would soon be revealed.
"Severus, you're becoming as flighty and romantic as Liang Wu," said Lucius Malfoy sourly, rubbing his aching head from where he lay in his tent. "Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort? Soul Mates? Of all the utter nonsense!"
"It is not nonsense!" Severus declared, sounding petulant but seeming not caring. "Its a rather valid concern, considering all the other bonds they seem to share! Please Lucius."
"No Severus. I will not keep an eye out for signs of them being Soul Mates. No way."
Severus scowled, then crossed his arms. Lucius felt annoyance filling him at once.
"Maybe I'm asking the wrong person," Severus declared, changing tactics. "Maybe you and Narcissa aren't Soul Mates after all."
Lucius hissed pointedly, and growled warningly.
"We are! Of that you can be sure!"
"How? How can I be sure?"
Lucius pondered this for a moment, then smiled.
"How many married couples do you know that can hold a conversation in their heads, with one of them hundreds of miles away in Azkaban?"
Severus rolled his eyes, and kept his arms crossed. Lucius knew that he was going to be stubborn about this and suddenly felt sympathetic for Severus. The man had only had one lover in his whole life, old Albus Dumbledore of all people, and rumor had it that their feelings towards one another had been strained towards the end, so his experience in relationships was next to nil. Severus wouldn't be able to tell if a pair were dating, let alone Soul Mates.
"Then will you check? The Dark Lord won't even notice you checking for signs! He'll be more concerned about training the boy and uncovering our poisoner to notice anything you're doing."
Lucius Malfoy sighed. He was amused by the possibility that the Dark Lord was the Soul Mate of his own former enemy turned Apprentice, but he didn't want Severus to think he had gotten the high road in this.
"Very well. But if he finds out and asks, then I'll tell him it was all your idea!"
Severus bristled, but nodded then turned curtly and walked towards the tents exit.
"Oh by the way Severus," said Lucius coyly. "Maybe you had better talk to Liang Wu about doing that Harvest Spell with you. You two certainly should be able to exchange power after how much time you've been spending together."
Severus scowled, a blush of embarrassment creep up his features, but turned obediently to leave, a lightness in his step that suggested he was indeed going to find the Chinese wizard in question.
Speaking of Soul Mates... Lucius thought amusedly. Its ironic that he was the one to ask me! Little does he know!
Lord Voldemort winced, eyes squinting as they took in the cool darkness around him, momentarily at a loss as to where he was and what he was doing there.
And then he spotted Harry, nearby, watching him, a look of panic in his eyes. Clearly the youth had been waiting by his bedside, and was not sure how he would react to it.
"Well?" Voldemort snapped, feeling not the least bit forgiving of the boy at this moment as a headache throbbed in his temples. "My prognosis?"
"What? Oh, uh, Sectumsempra to the stomach. You were healed fine. We've just been waiting for you to wake up. The blast from the explosion knocked you out."
"Oh," Voldemort winced, rubbing his stomach. "Well, help me stand boy, I'm not as young as I used to be."
Harry quickly moved to take his arm and soon he was upright, feeling a bit embarrassed to be wearing his bed robes.
But then he had to stare in incomprehension at he feet...the color of them. His feet looked like normal feet! He looked at his hands. He examined every inch of them, down to the very normal, if a bit chipped and worn, fingernails, and the deep shade of peachy pink his flesh now took. He touched his head, and his hair was now in full. He felt so strange! So...human.
"What happened to me?" he said, more to himself then the boy, and went in search of the nearest mirror.
"Um," Harry said, still too nervous to do more than answer the given questions. "The Federation thinks that your body was fully restored when you...came between Lucius Malfoy and his attacker."
"Come again?" Voldemort whirled, and observed the youth with narrowed eyes.
"You were willing to die to protect somebody," said Harry, a little more boldly. "That healed the damage to your...um..."
"If you say my soul, I swear..."
"Well its true!" Harry countered hotly. "Hermione's research of horcruxes showed that true remorse, and sacrifice, could undo the creation of horcruxes..."
"I didn't have any..."
"And repair any lasting damage they caused," Harry continued firmly.
Lord Voldemort, for his part, had to suppress the urge to cuff the boy for his impertinence. He didn't want to lose his temper, it wasn't the boy he was angry with.
And something else was bothering him. A wiggle worm of concern in his chest that was wriggling around his heart.
Harry Potter had been at his bedside, waiting for him to wake up. And he had helped him to his feet...
Was the boy now loyal to him? Or was it more than that? He began to look at the boy, really look at him, eyes roving up and down his solidly defiant form, the purse of the lips, red and plump and as tempting to him for kissing as they had been since he had first been reborn. The hair, a mass of unruly strands of hair that he wanted to bury his hands in, smooth creamy skin that he wanted to touch, to taste...
He jerked his head pointedly to clear out the blank spots in the logical side of his brain that these images had wrought, and put his hands on his hips.
"I doubt it matters what condition my soul is in, I am still Lord Voldemort to you, and your Master, so don't forget it."
Harry bristled, a look of hurt briefly crossing his deep green eyes before he covered it with a look of distant aloofness, though not quickly enough to hide his obvious affection from his Master. Harry Potter was indeed feeling loyalty to Lord Voldemort, and was struggling with his placing new feelings in a context his Gryffindor mind could process.
"So what else has been happening since I've been asleep?" asked the Dark Lord, hoping to defer the topic to safer territory.
"Well, so far quite a bit," Harry said. "The Harvest Spell is a go for tonight. Snape is doing the song, though he says if you're ready for it tonight then he is willing to let you do it."
"Obviously," Voldemort snorted. "Severus hates singing, has ever since he was forced to join a choir in his muggle primary school. Its a shame, his singing voice is beautiful for all he hates to use it."
Harry smiled wryly, then remembered something else, and took on a more serious look.
"The Federation has decided after gathering all the evidence that the attackers were after me. The Order sent them to attack me, but didn't realize I am not posing as Jonathan Malfoy anymore, so didn't know that the person wearing the Malfoy family cloak clasp they had protein charmed was Lucius Malfoy. All my clothes and belongings were charmed. Its a wonder they didn't go after Draco first. The attackers were also imperiused, and under a blinding spell so they wouldn't know who was being attacked. People who might not have attacked Harry Potter if they'd had a choice."
Lord Voldemort felt revulsion and anger fill him at this alarming turn of events. The Order was trying to kill Harry Potter! His Apprentice!
And he immediately knew why; because of the horcruxes. Because of the doubt that Harry Potter might still have been one of them. Perhaps the whole ploy to send him to the revel was so that he, Lord Voldemort, would kill the boy himself!
"In the name of Salazar Slytherin!" Voldemort cursed, causing Harry to jerk and jump back. "Is the Order completely barking mad? Why didn't they just poison you if they wanted you dead? I...oh..I'm sorry Harry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
But Harry was shaking, almost too hard for comfort. It had just finally hit the boy that his friends were trying to have him killed, and he wasn't sure which friends were trying to kill him!
Voldemort summoned a bucket to hold out to Harry just in time for the youth to wretch into it. Harry felt to his knees over the bucket and Voldemort held him until he was finished being sick.
But something strange was now happening. As Harry was sick, he could almost feel the boy's illness in himself. He could feel the emotions of the boy; the ghost of the original horcrux link had seemingly come back to life and the emotions of Harry Potter were starting to come across that bond rather strongly.
Do they hate me? Don't they understand what I sacrificed to destroy the horcrux? And now they don't, know, don't understand what destroying the horcruxes really did. It didn't destroy him, He's human again, and not evil! Don't they understand the Prophecy doesn't matter anymore, that things have changed? That I didn't have to kill the Dark Lord to defeat him, that I just had to make him human again? No, they didn't. Albus Dumbledore didn't know, and they don't know. To them I'm not really their friend, I'm just a tool! Well I'm not a tool!
Anger. It flooded into him from the boy before he had a chance mentally to respond to what he had read in the boy's mind. Pain, sorrow. Despair. The treachery of it all ran through the youth, threatening to unhinge him.
"Get a hold of yourself Harry," Voldemort chided, vanishing the vomit from the bucket and cleaning the boy with a wave of his hand. "Calm down. We don't know all the circumstances yet. It may be the Ministry..."
"But the Ministry didn't know about the Malfoys, and they didn't have access to my trunk. Only my friends..."
Voldemort sighed. The boy had started crying, shaking his head. He would never get used to the emotions of others.
"Well crying isn't going to solve anything. Stand up, here," he summoned a tissue, "Dry your eyes and don't despair. You have US. And we haven't ever been false with you. I truly wanted you as an Apprentice, and I would like to be proud of you. So make me proud; show them that you are the worthy Apprentice to Lord Voldemort. Show them that you are not a tool, but a willing follower and friend. Join the Federation."
Harry shook his head. He was holding his stomach now, stomach threatening to be ill again.
"I...I don't know that I can. I'm not a Death Eater, or a Dark Wizard, or any of that. I want to live a life my parents would have been proud of."
Voldemort observed Harry momentarily, as the youth shook his head and stared at the empty bucket.
"Harry, you are not evil for being my Apprentice. Anymore than I am Evil to be a part of the Federation. Good and evil are only subject to those who believe they are a judge of it. What I think is good is that you cared enough about me to stand by my bedside. I value loyalty, not treachery, and you have chosen to be loyal. I value that."
"But what about my friends? How can I be loyal to you and them?"
"What about them? Your friends who have plotted to kill you? That is not loyalty, and they do not deserve your loyalty in return, though you are kind to give it to them."
"And what about my parents?" Harry said, anger tingling down their bond. "You killed them!"
Voldemort nodded, and turned his head, surprised at the regret that was building up under his breastbone. He didn't need to look at the boy to know that he could feel that regret inside of him through the bond.
Before the Prophecy, before I truly became...the monster you feared...your parents were prime candidates to join the Federation. They just wouldn't join me. Your father's family had been friends with the Grindelwalds for years and that was whom the Potters held secret alliances with. They didn't think I was what they wanted in a Federation leader. They wanted Great Britain to be under Grindelwald. They wanted to usurp me. Well, your mother did. Your father was opposed to Dark Magic, and sent her into hiding to keep me away from her. To keep me from recruiting her."
Harry looked up, startled by this, and Voldemort sat down on the bed to look at him squarely.
"I wanted to change his minds, of course, recruit them both maybe, and when Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald at last I felt my chance had come. Despite your mother being Muggleborn I could see potential in her, more so than your father. But now that I look back on it, my lack of a soul was what lead me to try and kill you. My lack of forgiveness for their not wanting to join me, my lack of forgiveness. I went after you; not necessarily because of the Prophecy, but because greedily I thought your mother would join me if I threatened her son. She held no real love for James, just for the connection he gave her to Grindelwald, and all that power. So I gave her the choice; join me, or I would take her son's life. No. She would not. In anger I demanded she hand you over to me and she wouldn't, so I killed her, and then tried to kill you. It defeated me in the end."
A monent of silence, and Voldemort sighed.
"I look back on this now, and realize that I was wrong. My actions, my choices have been wrong Harry. My choices. If I'd had a soul then, I would have let them all go. Don't judge me too harshly for the past, though I fair say I deserve to be judged. But given the chance now, I would choose differently."
Harry got a strange look in his eyes, a look of familiarity and comfort that had somehow been sparked by this monologue. He rose to his feet.
"Albus Dumbledore once said that it is our choices that make us who we are. I guess, if you really feel sorry for killing my parents, then I can forgive you, though it hurts. It hurts."
Harry was shaking a bit, threatening to cry with a look, so Voldemort chuckled.
"Albus Dumbledore had quite a bit to say in his life. If I had listened to him in school I might not have made horcruxes to begin with. Might never have touched the Chamber of Secrets. Might not have declined that offer in my last year to come up to his office for tea and crumpets."
Harry laughed, nodding, and Voldemort stood to his feet.
"Thank you Harry. For this second chance."
"Your welcome," said Harry, smiling at him warmly. "I'm glad I could give it to you. It feels right."
"Then let us dispense with any of these worries. Lets go find Severus and find out what else has been happening whilst I have been asleep."
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
They found Theodore Nott levitating an unconscious and injured Cho Chang behind him, wandering around the forest blindly trying to find the camp without any eyes in his head. Lord Voldemort approached the tent where the two teenagers were being treated for their wounds, feelings of unease creeping up on him.
I know who did this, he thought. Never trust a Gryffindor. They lie more readily than Slytherins.
He slid through the entrance in the tent just in time to see the Elder Nott comforting his son.
"You two were very brave going after them like that...ah my Lord!"
Voldemort ignored the older Nott, knowing that he would be prone to overt shows of courtesy, and instead knelt down before the blinded boy, touching his empty eye sockets with one hand, and his wand (to the boy's head) in the other.
"Do not be afraid," he said. "I want to know what you know, and this is the easiest way to do it."
Theodore nodded and Voldemort could instantly see a sprawl of trees, just past the food tent. The Federation members and the young people aghast at the happenings, Snape and Harry entering the tent. And then Miss Chang pulling on the boy's shirt, pointing, the two of them running after a slunking figure leaving the area, headed towards the edge of camp.
"Cho had been suspicious of Wormtail," the boy was saying, as Voldemort watched his memories in time. "I didn't believe her when she said she thought he was the one who poisoned the food. I told her that being a creepy man and being guilty wasn't the same thing, but she has six senses that I don't understand. Sometimes I think she's a Seer or Occlumens, the way she can see into people. How she found out who Harry Potter was, and all that. She said she just knew the moment she saw him. I didn't believe her then either so she said she would prove it."
A brief flash of the duel with Cho and Harry, in which Lord Voldemort discovered that Cho had been rather unaware of just how many people had been at the duel, she had been too intent on unmasking Harry Potter for her boyfriend's favor.
"Well this time, since she had proven herself the first time, I gave her benefit of the doubt," Theodore continued. "We followed Wormtail out of the cook tent, to the edge of the forest, where we saw him meeting with Order Members. In disguise. When we ran back to camp to get help they attacked us, they sent Cho flying and broke her ankle and passed out. They then came after me and I turned them into trees," the sight of Wormtail turning from tiny and lumpy to tall and thin in Theodore's head was rather amusing to Voldemort. "After seeing this the rest of the Order ran for it, but only after one of their curses caught my eyes. I levitated Cho, but I was lost, couldn't find my way back, so I navigated by going from tree to tree."
Voldemort removed his wand from the boy's head and nodded at Liang Wu.
"The complete truth," he assurred the man, despite the elder Nott's protest that his son could lie. "I knew you were out of veritaserum so I improvised some occlumency. You can put that in your report."
The Chinese wizard sighed in relief.
"I would hate to have to not trust a young man's word because of a lack of potion. I'll have to bother Severus about it as soon as we have the potions making supplies restocked."
Theodore started shaking with crying, and Voldemort felt sympathy and concern fill his chest. He waved his wand and tried as best as he could to clean the youth's bleeding eye cavities.
"There's no restoring his eyes," said the healer sadly as she packed some sort of healing herbs into the empty sockets. "But he'll quickly learn to navigate by magic."
"Who can teach him to use magic while blind?" said his father despairingly. "How will he get around?"
"I'll teach him," said Voldemort faintly, not sure why he was promising such a thing, since he was only required to teach his own Apprentice. "In fact, I'll teach all the young people how to fight blind, since we cannot say what the future will hold. Severus will help me I'm sure."
"So my Lord," said Liang Wu smugly, approaching Voldemort with a slippery step. "Is it true then that you and Severus have plans to start your own school?"
Voldemort moaned, remembering that he had promised Severus that he would introduce a bill to the Federation requesting the resources to start their own school. Severus had been adamant that Recruiting was all well and good, but Dark Magic was mostly only taught during the Revel, and this duty usually fell to him. A school, to replace the general Apprenticeship, would assure that young people without Masters would still get education.
Now Liang Wu was grinning that cheeky grin at him. Severus could become quite stubborn about these things.
"We shall see, it certainly is a possibility," Voldemort admitted, not wanting to agree to anything the Chinese wizard suggested out of habit. "That'll be Severus' job. He has all those young people he's recruited. Top recruitment agent, up for an award I hear."
Liang Wu colored pointedly and Lord Voldemort turned to leave the tent in search of his Apprentice.
He needed some advice, and to prepare their Cores for tonight's Spell.
They would be doing a duet. He couldn't wait to hear the boy's reaction to the Federation's decision to make them both the Singers.
Severus Snape didn't move and inch when Liang Wu entered his tent. He was bent down over the map of the camp, pinpointing the various locations that the Harvest Spell could take place. Most people were in favor of the east clearing, but Severus had a feeling that their magic would be enough to fill a larger area, and that vegetables might start popping up in the darnedest places if the Harvest was too close to camp.
But keeping it in the East was more secure. A squeak of a chair told him that Liang Wu had sat down across from him, and was now looking at the maps.
"We now have to identity of the poisoner, and moreso have found the poor Chang girl and, young Nott. It wasn't them, by the by, but they did manage to turn their attacker into a tree."
"There, you see!" said Severus, ignoring his concern for the two young people for a moment. "Teaching them those spells IS useful!"
"Dangerous but useful yes. Now the Federation has to try and locate Peter Pettigrew from an entire forest of trees. Though we do have some information to go on, he may have already escaped by now."
Severus felt his stomach twist at the explanation that followed. He felt vindicated but hollow stomached. He had warned the Dark Lord many times about trusting Wormtail. But he was afraid the Dark Lord was still sketchy on telling the difference between obedience from fear versus loyalty. He pushed himself back as Liang Wu finished summarizing the injuries of the teenagers, intent to go to them and reassure them both that they weren't in trouble.
But Liang Wu rose from the chair to stop him, coming around the table and putting strong hands on the slighter man's shoulders.
"Severus...Don't leave yet."
Severus felt a shiver of apprehension fill him. His stomach twisted slightly, his breathing cut off and he felt warm arms pull him in for an embrace.
"Do not ever forget I am here. You hide your pain well," Wu commented quietly. "But you are still grieving your pains after all these years. You have never gotten used to treachery, the goals and plans of your life snuffed out by fear and mistrust. But I trust you, and I care. You will have your own school. I'm sure now. The Federation will have to see that your teachings have been useful, and saved two children's lives. You will be a teacher of the Dark Arts, my love."
Severus broke down immediately, burying himself into the comforting shoulder of his lover, smelling the flavors of jasmine tea and incense, tangling his fingers in the man's long dark gray hair.
His fetish for long haired men was going to kill him one day. But Wu's long trailing mustache tickled hils neck when they kissed. He loved it. He absolutely loved it.
"But I'm a teacher, not a leader," Severus complained, feeling something stirring inside him that had nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with intimacy. "Who will be the Headmaster of my school?"
"Ah," said Wu, dutifully unbuttoning the other man's jacket. "That is a riddle that will be revealed soon, my darling. We shall know soon enough."
Harry moaned as he watched Draco and Pansy practicing the tree spell together. Voldemort was having Snape teach all the young people the spell that had saved Theodore Nott and Cho Chang's life. And Harry wanted to be desperately down there with them.
But instead he was up here learning how to sing.
"Its not that hard Harry," said Voldemort, hands on his lap. "You have all the ingredients in here," he pressed his hand flat against Harry's stomach. "Let the air belt from your chest."
Harry was a tenor, or so he was told, and was singing in high registers that made him sound vaguely like a girl.
Hate this hate this...
But then, when Harry struggled over a verse of the song he was being taught, Voldemort joined him in baritone, and together they did a soft duet that caused the duelers in the arena to pause.
"Oh!" said Harry, interrupting their duet abruptly. "So these notes are sort of a step above what you're singing."
"Thats right. Now try it again, on your own."
It came more easily this time, and once Voldemort was satisfied that Harry would not entirely mess up the Harvest, he send Harry down to join the young people in the arena for some lunch, which was being served to them on a makeshift picnic blanket.
Brought to him now by the less hostile and more amiable Felby, who greeted Harry with a friendly bow.
I will never understand house elves, Harry said, then blushed when he realized he'd also said it out loud.
Draco seemed to blush slightly, then leaned over a bit.
"I asked Felby to treat you more nicely," Draco admitted, though it was with much strain. "My parents are still upset about Jonathan, but thats my Aunt and Uncle's fault not yours."
"He's one of us now," said Pansy, and she got up to sit next to Harry as if they were warm and buxom friends. "So, you get to sing the spell, how exciting!"
"Yeah, I suppose," Harry said nervously, feeling Pansy snuggling up next to him as if she were Rita Skeeter digging for information. "But I don't understand why I have to!"
"Soul core bonds are interesting things," said Severus Snape, startling Harry from behind. "A bit of magic from one can affect the other in strange ways. The Harvest Song acts to pull magic from a group and direct it to a course of action. A second man or woman sits between the Singer and the assembled volunteers to keep the Song from taking more magic than people can easily give. But if the Singer is core bonded to another then there is a risk of the magic being directed into the other person rather than into the ground. So you Harry, get to sit a half step between me and Lord Voldemort, and you'll be drawing magic as a unit rather than two separates."
"Duets aren't common, but they can be stronger," Draco said, nibbling on his sandwich. "Which means more vegetables and fruit. We might even have have an orchard."
Snape chuckled and Harry put his head on his knees.
"So explain the brother Core to me again. I still don't quite understand it."
"Oh that," said Pansy, putting on a very Hermionesque tone of voice. "Its simple. If two people have a pre-existing magical attachment of some kind, and they are a defensive and offensive pair of wands, then that brother Cores occur in their wands."
"Which is like me and Pansy, we have a brother Core," Draco said, passing the pot of tinned tomato soup around the circle.
"Yeah, I'm the good defense to his bad offense," Pansy giggled.
"Hey!" said Draco, pinching her cheek. "Not nice."
"Which is why we agreed to our parents arranging our marriage for us," Pansy told Harry, astounding him. "We're practically destined to become Soul Mates the way we behave."
"Okay, now I'm lost again. How does having brother wands result in Soul Mates?" Harry grumbled.
"It doesn't," said Snape exasperatedly. "Soul mates and wand cars are seperate. The Magical core is bound to another by some magical occurrance, SUCH AS a wand Brotherhood. Its the magic of wizards that is pairing, nothing more. But in Soul Mates its the Spiritual part that matters. The Soul. Two Souls become Soul Mates only if there is enough bonding magic of any kind to bind the souls together."
"Its like Magnets," said Draco. "If you have just enough magic shared between you, and you love each other enough, then the Souls will pull together and then they can't be pulled apart, even after the magic is gone."
"Because magic is fleeting," said Snape pointedly. "But Souls are eternal. Once a soul connects to another, its all over, there's no way to separate it. There's a 'physical' attachment, so to speak, between the souls. You can't keep out of each other's heads."
"My dad said he spent most of his time in Azkaban talking to mom in his head," Draco said nervously. "Thats a Soul Mate. And with how close me and Pansy are its only a matter of time."
Pansy began acting nervous, picking at the edge of the picnic blanket and making Harry edgy. He looked up at the sky.
"Could Soul Mates occur between friends?"
Snape surprisingly nodded.
"Thats how it starts. The Souls begin drawing together, attracted by the magical bonds between two people. And when the Souls starts forming little physical bonds, the two persons may start forming emotional bonds. The final Soul Bond occurs, to be bluntly, with pure and complete openess between both Souls. When there is nothing hidden. When all the secrets are revealed. You COULD be close friends with a Soul Mate, and not be lovers or married, but I have never heard of it."
"You said there is no way to split Soul Mates. But is there, really no way?"
The young people all started shifting nervously.
"There is one way, very very hard to prove that it truly is. When two Souls want to be together nothing the Soul's owners can do can seperate them. But when something outside puts a block between them that can transcend even death..."
Snape sighed, and looked down at his hands, and turned to look at Draco Malfoy for a moment, avoiding Harry's eyes.
"The Avada Kedavra," he said quietly.
Harry stared, and Snape crossed his legs.
"When one of a pair of Soul Mates dies, they stay in this world, and don't move on, wherever souls move onto. They stay until their other half has also died. We know this because the surviving partner of a Soul Mate pair can still communicate with their partner through death. Many times the partner remains on Earth as a ghost. But..."
"But the Avada Kedavra prevents that?"
"Souls move on with the killing curse," Snape said. "Though its only conjecture to say that the soul cannot decide to stay behind because of the curse. But we've seen Soul Mated pairs where one has died of the killing curse, and the survivor cannot feel or speak to their Soul Mate. Those persons...quickly suicide. Its rare that they live on."
"But its happened?" Draco asked now, keenly wanting to know this as much as Harry did."
"I knew one..." Snape admitted. "I know of one man who survived long after his Soul Mate was killed by the curse. That man, just happened to be a squib, so that may be why he survived so long. Having no magic himself, the magical bonds were too faint to allow them to speak in one another's minds. Too faint to allow him to know or understand that magical bond that wizarding Soul Mates share, the reason why a Soul Mate would suicide at that loss."
"Oh thats horrible!" said Pansy. "Is he still alive?"
"Yes," Snape admitted. "But he suffers still. He won't speak to anybody, he won't look at anybody. He sits in a muggle hospital most of his days, just staring into space. He's lost."
Harry stared at Snape, whose eyes were wet, with tears that he couldn't believe existed. Snape was not really crying in front of all these teenagers! He couldn't be!
It was Pansy who spoke this, so quietly, and Snape's voice was just as quiet, and quite hollow.
Abruptly Snape stood up, straightened his robes, and turned to leave the arena.
"Keep practicing when you're done eating...I just remembered someplace I have to be."
Harry and the other young people watched Snape leaved the arena at such a fast pace that Pansy started crying immediately in response. Harry suddenly felt deeply ashamed that he'd even asked the question. Ollie Gindelwald looked up at Harry.
"Harry," said Olie quietly. "We are not angry that you asked all these questions. Snape has told that story to my grandfather many times, though he has never broken down like this. And I think I know why you would ask."
"Oh," said Harry, slightly annoyed with the Bulgarian boy. "You do?"
"Yah," said Ollie. "My grandfather, and a lot of other people in the camp, think you might already be Lord Voldemort's Soul Mate. That is why you have to do the duet. He may not be able to sing without you anymore. A Soul Mate can hamper certain types of magic from being cast by the other, the Harvest Spell is one of those."
"How?" said Harry, more angry at this than at the idea of having a Soul Mate. "How is the Harvest Spell any different than any other magic?"
Pansy pursed her lips.
"Well, with Soul Mates, its simple; the Harvest Spell has the potential to harm other people. And without the magical consent of a Soul Mate to perform such a spell, the magic will not come. Soul Mates can control and stop one another's magic without knowing it, and in the case of a spell that hurts somebody, that usually happens. Especially if one person has strong morals like you do."
"Oh," said Harry, blushing. "So how does the Harvest Spell hurt others then?"
"Its stealing," Draco said through clenched teeth. "Its taking magic from other people by force to use it yourself. But with Harvest you can't do it any other way. Its too large a spell casting to do with ones own magic, you need to take from others or you'll risk draining yourself past the point of recovery."
"Unless we all sang the spell," Pansy decided. "But then our spells would have the chance of dispelling or effecting others, and we'd run the risk of all of us taking magic from each other."
"Which is why Snape will be needed to act as a stopper should too much magic be pulled in," Draco continued. "A wizard can DIE if they lose more magic than they can regenerate. Or turn into a squib."
"Thats what happened to Snape's brother," said Ollie Grindelwald with an embarrassed flush. "And thats why my father says Snape won't sing, unless he has to. Its a punishment to himself for not being able to stop it."
"Oh Ollie don't talk about it anymore," Pansy squeaked. "Its too sad!"
"Why not? Everybody knows," Ollie turned to look at Harry squarely. "Snape accidentally made his brother a squib when they were trying to grow food for their sick mother. They were too young to understand what they were doing. He didn't know how to stop singing, with the magic flowing into him, and took magic from his brother to the point where he couldn't do magic anymore."
"And thats why Snape's a teacher," said Draco, giving the Bulgarian an angry quelling look. "He refuses to let any young people try Dark Magic without understanding the consequences. Thats why he wanted to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Oh my god," said Harry, covering his face. "Thats why he didn't want me using his spell! Why he was practically ready to murder me for using the Sectumsempra. I didn't know what it was, or what it could do!"
"Yeah," said Draco, and he got up to sit on Harry's other side to put a comforting arm around him. "It wasn't that he hated you for injuring me, though he was probably quite angry with you for trying. He hated himself for letting you find his spell, without any notes as to what it could do to another person. You never should have gotten your hands on it. Dark Magic needs to be taught by someone with a great deal of experience and the ability to reverse the spells in quest, not experimented with the way magic is taught at Hogwarts. Only Snape knew how to heal my injuries, Madam Pomfrey would not have been able to save me."
Harry nodded, and felt his eyes turn wet.
"I'm so sorry for that Draco, so so sorry. I know now, not to just use magic I find. I know better now."
"So," said Pansy, getting to her feet. "Do you want to practice the tree spell with us? Though you might want to find your Master and practice the Harvest Spell some more."
"Not sure I want to face him just yet," Harry thought, his stomach squirming. "I know everyone thinks we're Soul Mates, but until we're sure, I'd be grateful if people didn't talk about it. I'm still not used to the idea of being in the Federation, or his Apprentice. Or what tonight's spell will be like. A lifetime stuck with another soul just seems so far away right now."
Pansy hugged him, and he hugged her back. He knew now that these people were his friends now, trustworthy, because they had been willing to trust him with so much too.
And he knew now that it was possible his old friends could have betrayed him. They had never really trusted him, had only ever begrudgingly told him anything, and had turned their backs on him when it seemed like he had done wrong.
"I've decided to join the Federation," Harry told them, to their amazement.
"Then you'd better tell Liang Wu today," said Pansy with a happy squeal. "Then the Harvest Spell can be your initiation. Though you've proven yourself with plenty of Dark Magic already."
Harry grinned, and they all went back to practicing the tree spell. He was so happy with his casting that he almost completely forgot about being Voldemort's Soul Mate.
Right now being adept at Dark Magic, and learning what Snape taught him, seemed like one of the most important things in the world.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Harry returned to his tent, exhausted from practicing hard and regretting his lack of practice of the Harvest Spell. Pansy had told him not to worry, Voldemort would be doing most of the spell, he only had to sing in Harmony to keep the bond from interupting the flow of the song. And the fact that he agreed with the principal of the Harvest Spell, providing food for the Revel, meant that the chances of the bond keeping Voldemort from doing the spell were minimal. Harry would only become a problem to him if the magic started to hurt somebody.
"And that never happens. The rule is that if you feel too tired to keep going, you pull out of the spell. Its a physical contact spell so once you are no longer in the circle you can no longer have your magic stolen from you."
"But what happens if I get tired?"
"Then the spell is over. So it goes."
Harry was grateful when Draco had stopped him from anymore practice and told him to go take a nap and refresh himself for the spell. He didn't look forward to singing, but he wanted to do his best, and to please his Master and his new friends.
Speaking of his Master, he was in the tent, sitting in his chair and paying complete attention to the paper in front of him that he was writing on. Since he was thoroughly distracted, Harry took the opportunity to examine the human changes in him in more detail.
Despite being over fifty years old, the man was quite handsome, rugged. His hair was unkempt and floppy, much like Harry's but with less of the mess and a little more of a wavy part. There was stubble on his chin, suggesting that the man would soon be shaving, and Harry was sure Voldemort was a person who wouldn't want to have to maintain a beard. He would keep his face clean and orderly, sparing no mercy to wizarding fashion trends, and since the current trend was long beards and hair, Harry was sure Voldemort would have neither.
His clothes were minimal, no fuss of jewelry laces or buttons, just what was needed to keep him covered and modest. His shoe laces were tied, but the ends trailed a bit long and Harry suppressed the urge to tuck them inside the man's shoes and lecture him about tripping up like he would with Ron.
And though his hands were thin, graceful yet, they were starting to show the signs of being worn and calloused. Voldemort was a bare bones, rugged, hard working person. He was inclined to do the work himself if he didn't like how somebody else was doing it, seemed highly annoyed when he was forced to go to others with help for anything, and worked diligently at any task until it was done completely.
Such as the piece of paper that he was currently writing. He seemed in no rush to greet Harry, though he must have known he was here.
"I want to join the Federation," Harry said, not giving the man any hello, since he hadn't bothered himself. "Draco says the Harvest Spell can be my initiation."
"Good," said Voldemort, and he actually smiled, his eyes still firmly attached to his writing. "I'll tell Liang Wu and he'll draw up the papers for you to sign."
"I do feel a bit nervous about it."
"No need to be," Voldemort continued, still nose to paper and still seemingly distracted. "I think you'll find you like the way the way the Federation does things, as opposed to the pomp and circumstance of the Ministry. We get work done. Such as this bill I'm writing, that I'll be submitting to the council session tomorrow morning."
Harry nodded and sat down across from the man, curious and itchy.
"Whats it for?" he asked, scratching his nose and feeling emotionally sensitive, though he wasn't sure why.
"Education reforms. Which will give Severus Snape, and all other Recruiters, the power to form schools and hire educators from outside the Federation to populate them. Thus Dark Wizards can attend a school which teaches the Dark Arts as well as other magic. Their schooling would start when they left their basic Hogwarts education, of course. After OWLs or NEWTs."
"Oh," said Harry, feeling this afternoon's talk keenly coming to the fore of his mind. "So will Snape be the Headmaster of a new school?"
"No, I will," said Voldemort proudly. "Severus just wants to teach the Dark Arts in a proper environment for that sort of learning, so I'm obliging him. I've felt the urge to teach myself since taking you on as an Apprentice, and there is quite a bit you need to catch up on where Dark Magic is concerned."
Harry nodded, stiffly, sitting down.
"Though I have a mind to make you a teacher," Voldemort hinted with a teasing look.
"Me? A teacher? Of what?"
"Music," Voldemort teased.
Harry couldn't help it. He grabbed a rather brown banana from the bowl on the table and tossed it. Voldemort deflected it away harmlessly with a laugh.
"I take it you aren't looking forward to singing with me?"
"No," Harry said, not bothering to lie. "I sound like a girl."
"Well, that is no fault of your own," said Voldemort primly. "Your voice hasn't broken yet, despite your age. It may take another year, and you'll probably stay a tenor. Please don't let it crash during the song, however I don't want to have to stop the spell to teach you how to sing again."
Harry huffed and threw another piece of fruit. It was again deflected once more harmlessly off to the side, where it splatted on the floor disgustingly.
"My, you are in throwing mood right now," said Voldemort curtly. "If you don't stifle that temper I may have to spank it out of you."
"Try me," Harry groused, reaching for another piece of fruit.
Before he could count to three, Harry found himself staring down at the floor laughing as his bottom was being harmlessly pummeled by his Master.
"I must be losing my touch," Voldemort huffed, though he was teasing. "This probably isn't hurting you at all."
"All right all right," Harry chuckled once they were both standing. "I'm just tired, thats all. I should go sleep."
"Get some rest," said Voldemort with a smile, reaching up to put a hand on Harry's hair. "You'll need all the energy you can for tonight. As you can see, we're all out of fruit and there's no chance of us going to another muggle grocery store for more food without the Order and the Ministry going after us. They know where we are now."
Harry nodded, seriously, then stared for a moment into his Master's eyes. Voldemort had a piercing look, and green clung to green for many bated moments. Harry realized that, while his own eyes were an emerald shade of green, Voldemort's seemed darker, deeper, like dense forests of pine trees. Harry felt a heat rising in his chest, his throat was closing off, threatening to cut off his breathing.
Then Voldemort gently lowered his head to brush smooth thin lips against Harry's parted ones in a very chaste and gentle kiss.
"Rest, rest well," Voldemort said gently. "Rest, Harry love, and dream of fresh ripe apples and golden wheat..."
"Vol...Tom..." Harry said, swallowing. "Can I call you Tom...? It seems more personal...more meaningful."
"Only in private, you scamp," Voldemort said with a smirk. "Sleep."
Harry was then gently pushed towards the bedroom. He stumbled through the tent flap and towards his bed feeling shaken and confused.
What just happened? Did I really just call him Tom? Did he really just call me 'Harry love'? Did we...really kiss?
The tingling of his lips seemed a gentle reminder of what had happened, and his wand felt warm in his pocket, vibrating in a slightly comforting way as he pulled it out and stuck it under his pillow.
Harry decided, as he pulled the sheets over himself, that he had never felt so warm, and went to sleep with a matching smile.
"Sorry we're late," said Lord Voldemort stiffly as they entered the clearing together. "Harry was only meant to nap and fell right to sleep."
Harry stumbled after Voldemort with a feeling of discontent. He had been woken with a stinging swat to his arse, which had not been as gentle as the playful punishment given him before the nap. He was HOPING this would not start a precedent, he was eighteen now! An adult! An adult with a girly voice.
"Its all right," said Liang Wu, bowing to them both. "The more rested he is, the better the spell will be."
Voldemort nodded and walked to the far edge of the clearing where Severus Snape was standing already, twitching nervously from foot to foot. Harry followed, quite nervously. The last time he had seen Snape the man had been crying. He still felt slightly guilty for bringing about that emotion with his questions.
"All right Harry," said Voldemort. "What happens next is simple. You, will be holding our hands. The others in the field will form a circle, and Severus will be linked to Liang Wu from the circle. If at any point in time he feels the two of us are drawing too much power, he simply has to let go, to disconnect himself and us from the main group. If you are the least bit tired, stop singing. There's a chance you may continue to act as a conduit willingly, even if we're bonded as deeply as Severus...and Lucius...guesses."
It wasn't just Harry's imagination but Severus blushed a little and turned himself to directing the people assembling in the clearing in a circle around it. Harry couldn't help but notice that they were under a crescent moon, not a full moon.
"The sickle is a sign of the harvest," Voldemort said quietly, looking up at the moon. "It tells us that the time is right for it. The full moon is also a good time for the Harvest Spell, though its a little more unwieldy to manage. The Full Moon has a magic of its own, and does what it wants."
Harry watched the commotion as people began to join their hands. They were talking and laughing nervously. Harry could see the young people in a group, and they outnumbered the adults in the circle by over half. The adults could decide simply to cut them all off if too many of them were tiring. Though many of the Federation sported injuries, everyone was here, and those too injured to participate were still watching from the sidelines with keen interest. Even more adults were standing to the side, ready to take the place of those who ran out of energy, in order to keep the spell going as long as possible.
"There's so many of us," Harry said, as the clearing filled with people, many of them families with children, all of them trying to link into the circle.
It got to the point where Liang Wu had to deny people and send them off to the sides. This event was meant to be run by the teenagers, they had decided, and they were given priority. Especially since most of these adults were just there to be a part of the crowd, and not for any magical purpose.
"You know that at least a third the wizarding world community is here at the revel," Voldemort whispered to Harry. "There's a lot of people on our side."
"But what side is that?" Harry mumbled, as Snape took his hand pointedly.
"The side that doesn't want muggles favored over wizards," Voldemort hissed. "Or their ideas given precedence over our own. Clearly."
"Oh," Harry said, feeling this comment hit him like a punch to the gut.
"Its not that we don't think muggles should have their own society," Snape said quietly. "Its that we don't think that mixing our societies would really work, no matter how good the intentions. Sure there's a benefit to our technology and to theirs, but then we lose something of our cultural identity, and problems will arise."
"And then it becomes ideological, that anything that isn't pro-muggle, in favor of more muggle terms and conditions, must be anti-muggle," Voldemort continued harshly. "Such as using photography to decorate our books and magazines, rather than fostering the creative abilities already expressed within magical arts and crafts."
"Thats mostly newspapers," Snape countered. "So that they can get stories out asap and make a load of money, the way muggles do. But before that we had the most beautiful calligraphic writing in journals and print papers. It was an art in itself to make words as beautiful as possible."
"And then there's music," Voldemort continued, and Harry felt rather nervous at the direction this conversation was going. "We are perfectly capable of singing, playing an instrument and making our own music, and magically recording it to an object to replay over and over again if we prefer. We don't need some electronic device to preserve our voices for us. But the new muggle music devices are all the rage now, it seems, and muggle instruments, and what happens to wizard music if the muggle is wanted?"
"Especially with youths, who aren't getting musical instruction or wizard culture at Hogwarts and have no idea of the deep history of music that exists in the magical world," Snape said. "We have no music courses there, and thus most graduating Hogwarts students may not even realize we have our own musical instruments."
"But this is all irrelevant," Voldemort said, taking Harry's hand. "Its the more serious issues that cause alarm with me. For example; when I was a youth, a child, it was unheard of to put a magical orphan in an orphanage, in favor of a wizard family. I think I was the exception to the rule, because I would be taken in by muggles and wizards, and they would send me back because I liked to experiment in Dark Magic. But I was the exception. Yet nowadays it is an outright crime to put a wizard orphan in a wizard household that isn't a blood relative! It denies 'muggles' the right to adopt and raise a magical child, and therefore magical children without blood relatives should be put into orphanages."
"Except muggles wouldn't always be willing to adopt wizards," Harry mumbled, thinking of the Dursleys.
"Bet you would have rather been raised by the Weasleys," Voldemort said knowingly.
"I still have no idea why Dumbledore put me with the Dursleys! It wasn't just that my mom's magic could protect me there, I'm sure of it!" Harry said. "Now that I think about it, how could my Aunt, with no magic, protect me magically?"
"She couldn't Harry," said Snape. "Albus lied to you. You see, every magical family in Great Britain and the world wanted to be your parents. He didn't want your father's more unsavory distant relatives trying to make a claim to you, or have a magical family turn you into a famous person like Lockhart in order to get money, so he put you with your mother's family instead, put some enchantments and secret Keeper wards on, and used a muggle, your Aunt, as the key signifier of the spell. As long as you called Petunia Dursley's home yours, Albus Dumbledore's spell would protect you. But it was easier for him to say that Lily's sister was the source of the magic, but really it was himself."
"Oh," Harry swallowed. "Oh."
"Relax Harry," said Voldemort firmly, glaring at Snape. "We're not trying to say that being in a muggle house is wrong. If you're a muggleborn its perfectly acceptable in fact," he looked around at the chaos that was people assembling and trying to organize. "What we are saying is that when you have a magical child, without a family, placing them in a muggle family that doesn't want them, or an orphanage hoping that they'll be adopted by muggles, seems wrong when there's already magical families ready to care for the children and teach them about our culture from an early age onwards. Despite how wonderful muggleborns are, and they are wonderful, they come into the magical world anathema, unable to fully be a part of society. Trying to put muggle points of view on wizarding issues that they don't understand."
"Like House Elf rights?" Harry said, a little to cynically than he had intended.
"Ah house elves," Snape said. "Of all the thorny subjects."
"House elves weren't forced into slavery originally, Harry," said Voldemort with a sigh, as a fight over space broke out in the clearing that the Federation was trying to clear up. "When the Founders built Hogwarts they made a pact with the Elves to have them work in Hogwarts, and that pact would end when they were given the clothes of human beings. Elves don't normally wear clothes, you see, but being told that you are equal to wizards, and able to wear their clothes, only when we say so, would be offensive to anybody! So the agreement to work for human beings ends when you 'offend' the house elf in some way, but for them what is most offensive is being given clothes. They don't believe in the need for clothes and they find it rude to suggest that not having clothes on makes you less of a person. Ironic that they willingly wear towels and sacks on themselves to keep from offending any wizards."
"I don't think Dobby would agree with all that."
"Well, times have changed," said Voldemort. "The decendants of House Elves truly are slaves. Wizards will not give them their clothes for fear of losing free labor, and elves will not ask for clothes for fear of having to go out into the wild again, leave their happy jobs as elves and become no more than another magical creature that wizards can collect the organs of for potions."
"Elves are magical creatures, not magical 'beings' under Ministry law," Snape said. "One word can change everything. Though selling house elf parts is restricted by the ministry, since most potions that require house elf parts are rare and generally poisons, its not against the law to harvest the organs and parts of any magical 'creature' by word of law. It is against the law to harvest organs of magical 'beings'."
"Which is why the Founders made the pact with House Elves to begin with," said Voldemort. "To protect them. In those days House Elf liver was a popular form of poison. The elves ran to beg the help of the only wizards strong enough to enforce such a pact without opposition from the rest of the wizarding community; the Founders. But their descendents have found better uses for elves than poison. Servitude and slavery. Wizards have been culturally programmed to believe elves cannot be free without clothes. But rather, the truth is, they can be free with or without clothes, but many of them choose to continue to enforce the lack of clothes policy to keep themselves firmly entrenched into the family that looks after them. Better to be a servant than a potions ingredient. Better to pretend to be a slave and follow the cultural norm then to die at the hands of their former Masters."
Harry felt a feeling of sickness inside him and Snape squeezed his hand.
"Think of this another way, Harry. Muggles take advantage of every animal and creature that is incapable of speech for the use of medicine and technology. But imagine presenting them with a unicorn, whose horns are uniquely prized, and who by wizarding law is a 'creature'. They would see this as an opportunity, as many wizards do. But what they don't understand, and what the Ministry also ignores, is that unicorns have more intelligence than dementors, who are considered beings, dark beings, but beings."
Harry hissed a little. Voldemort was squeezing his other hand rather tightly.
"Another thing to consider, if you want to look at it from the pro-muggle point of view. If you had a magical potion that could cure all muggles of cancer, but required a muggle's heart to brew, would you brew it? Muggles would debate the ethics of it, the morality of it, and use their religion and beliefs to try and control it. But wizards would simply use the hearts of those who are already dead to brew that potion. Its easier to keep our magic out of muggle society because they wouldn't know what to do with it, or us. They would want to regulate us within their laws, and our magic would have to be used the way their society deems appropriate. How then would we be able to perform the Harvest Spell whenever we wish? Muggles would have us use it to produce crops for production and commerce, regulate it, when we normally just use it just to feed ourselves and those who have nothing to eat. Magic is not a tool for us, as it would be for them. Its our way of life, our culture, and our moral. Magic defines our morals. But if you put magic into a muggle world, it becomes their tool, for their use, and we'll just be particularly gifted human beings to be regulated under their laws. Better to keep us separate, so that we can keep our cultures, our cultural identity, intact."
"Harry," said Snape pointedly. "If you want to work with someone, you have to give up something. Do we have the right to bring magic into the muggle world, and change them? Make them feel inferior? Make them seem like they are less then us because they don't have magic? Claim to be their saviors, our magic can solve all their problems, and then control them? It works in the reverse too. We don't want them to control us, and they don't want us to control them. But both sides, by way of our greedy human nature, would try to do just that."
Harry felt a nod, a feeling of regret for Hermione, and her constant need to affirm house elf freedom without knowing the facts involved, and squeeze both mens hands in return.
"As long as we respect their rights in return, I can respect that. But its when...when..."
"I know," said Snape, as the noise started to die down in the clearing. "Its when we try to attack what we don't understand, that we cause trouble. When we use violent to try and get our point across, we solve nothing. Its the reason why the Ministry keeps children from learning Dark Magic, because they think it will encourage murder and crime, that dark magic would be used to hurt people, and it can be don't get me wrong. But all magic can hurt, if used improperly, and there are many benefits to dark magic that are ignored. If children were taught properly the uses for Dark Magic, all the damage that is feared to be caused by it would be prevented."
Harry knew that Snape was probably thinking about a young boy who wanted to cast a spell to grow food for his family, and nearly destroyed his brother in the process. About the Sectumsempra that would have killed Draco Malfoy if only Harry had known what it was, what it could do!
"All right, enough talk," Voldemort said pointedly. "We can discuss the politics of muggles and magic later. Liang Wu looks like he's ready for us to begin."
And before Harry could say another word, Voldemort began to sing, at the top of his lungs, and he immediately felt power being drawn into him, and from him, like a blood transfusion. Before he could instinctively cut him off from this pull of magic, he began his harmony, and their songs lifted up to the crescent moon in a duet of raw power and energy.
The Harvest had begun.
"From the old forests green,
And valleys 'neath the hills,
Grows the ever blooming vine
The ripened fruit of youth."
Draco Malfoy heard the twin songs at the exact same moment he felt the power being drawn from him. He and Pansy clasped their hands together, Crabbe and Goyle on his other side, and Ollie on Pansy's other, and the rest of the young people, and they kept quiet as the power of the song lifted their magic from them, pulling like a vampire pulls nourishment from a wound.
"In pastures green and oceans blue,
The songs of all our youth,
Calls out to the children wild and young,
From forest glen and glade,
As practiced, the assembled closed their eyes at the mention of themselves in the verse, and Draco could almost see the magic now, almost recognize the thin glowing embers of energy that flowed to join the collective force of raw magic that were the duo of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.
"Love and energy give to my Master,
That which he gives unto me in the spring,
Ancient Gardener bless and restore,
This once frozen earth we borrowed from thee,"
Their energy was stronger than Draco could have imagined. Together they could pull energy not just from the assembled, but from the ground, from the sky, and even a bit from those at the sidelines unattached, who had to back away from the clearing pointedly to prevent it from happening. They were drawing too much and Severus Snape hushed them to a gentler cadence with a soft whisper to the both of them.
"Let no tears tonight be shed,
For our hour of renewal has come,
Your tears give life to the earth,
Crops to sow and water for our lips,"
It was a beautiful harmony now, as the energy was properly directed and taken, and properly pushed into the ground. Draco had to strain not to hum along, lest he mess up the harmony even a fraction. He could feel that some less strong individuals were already pulling out of the spell, releasing hands and falling back into the crowd beyond the clearing, leaving the circle behind to continue. Yet he could feel himself and Pansy were still strong enough to continue, and even when Crabbe and Goyle, and Ollie had pulled away, they stayed, reaching out to clapse hands with those still in the circle. Some who had been waiting in the sidelines pointedly filled in the gaps in order to reconnect with them, and a hand slipped large and warm into Draco's, an adult hand, almost familiar. But this did not hurt the spell at all, and the last verse rolled through the clearing now like the song of the angels, Voldemort's strong baritone voice practically caressing Harry's soft feminine tenor song, like a duet of lovers.
"And now your blessings reaped upon us,
Father and Mother of magic be thanked,
Tonight in feast we now will celebrate,
The Harvest which you hath sent."
Draco opened his eyes, as the spell dictated, and was astounded. The last notes of the song died and Draco felt shock and astonishment fill him.
The clearing was now overflowing with crops. Apple trees sprouted up from the grounded, trunks entwined with squash and bean vines, bark tickled by the leaves of growing grapes and tomato vines. Vegetables and fruit seemed to be growing far passed the clearing into the trees and back towards the camp where it now threatened to take over the edge most part of the camp.
This wasn't a harvest to last a couple of weeks of celebration, it was enough food to last their group for months, and probably through the winter if the song was to truly be believed.
Draco strained his head to look around. There were more people still present in the circle than he had thought he would be. Most of the adults and almost all the youth, only a few had broken ranks.
"Good lord," said Pansy, wafting her face with her hand. "That isn't like any Harvest I've been to."
"Because you've never had a Soul Mated pair in charge of any harvest you've been to," said Lucius Malfoy loudly, who, despite his injuries, had been the one to come grasp hands with Draco when the duo of Crabbe and Goyle had slipped away. "But this is exactly what happens when they do."
Draco slipped free of his father immediately to go with Pansy over to the edge of the clearing, where the Federation adults were shaking hands with Lord Voldemort and Snape on a successful harvest and commenting on the lovely moon was tonight.
But Harry Potter had not missed the comment of Draco's father, and he was standing still and silent in the moonlight, his attention solely now on his Master, whose hand was still protectively curled around his.
And then he smiled, and Draco knew that there were feelings there that there weren't before, and those feelings were shared by the proudly conversational Dark Lord by his side. But why, after all this beautiful magic, was there despair lurking in the corners of Harry Potter's eyes? What was he afraid of?
Draco wasn't destined to find out anytime soon. He was shuffled by his parents off with the young people to grab baskets and start harvesting the vegetables that the exhausted lead pair had worked so hard to grow for them, and Draco decided that he was going to work as hard as possible, if only to show his appreciation of their clearly exhaustive efforts.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Harry stumbled towards his bed and collapsed there in a tired slump. He had not known he would feel so drained and tired after what was supposed to be a musical duet.
But the process had not turned out the way either of them had predicted. Rather than being separate singers, with Voldemort singing the melody line and Harry the harmony, they ended up working almost completely as a unit, doing the exact same music, singing the exact same words.
And their minds, to their mutual surprise, had been completely merged during the magic. For that short period of time Harry had seen everything, the span of Voldemort's entire lifespan across his mental brain, and he had used all his energy not to be swept away from the spell casting and drown in those memories.
And if Harry had been plagued with doubts over Voldemort's love or hate of muggles before the spell, then what he had seen had affirmed for him that Voldemort would never, no matter how good or evil he was, be comfortable in a muggle world.
Harry could not believe any muggles could have been more cruel and neglectful than the Dursleys, but he had been wrong. Life, and muggles, had been so cruel to Tom Riddle the child, the toddler, the boy, that Harry despaired there would ever be understanding.
Memories had shown him a boy, an innocent boy, who had waited patiently at the orphanage during Christmas for the social workers with the toys, only to have them taken from his hands after the workers were gone, because he was a 'strange' child who would never be adopted and thus had no need for toys. Having the toys given to other children, worthier children, muggle children, children who weren't strange, or abnormal.
At least the Dursleys had never taken any of Harry's belongings after he had been given something. He'd brought home those broken toy soldiers that Dudley had sat on and the teacher had thrown out. Voldemort had seen this in his head at the same time that Harry was watching little Tom's first toy, a bear, pulled from his infant hands and given to a girl being readied for adoption the next day.
A girl with a teddy bear was much cuter without one. And the horror of the bear flying out of her hands back into his own, resulting in his being locked away from the children for good.
Isolation. Locked away. Kept away from the normal children, locked in his own room. Being examined by the doctors, who he saw over most of the formative years, the therapists, and finally priests, when he was transferred to a more religious orphanage.
The priests and nuns had beaten little Tom. Harry had never been beaten. Though Tom had never been starved the way Harry had. Harry wasn't sure which was worse, bruises and broken bones or an empty stomach.
Tom had been forced to memorize bible passages, with the ruler hanging heavy over his head. Had sat through the priests sermons on heaven and hell, of propriety and sin. Tom had surprisingly liked the the idea of heaven. Loved to hear about angels, god, heaven, the good place, the place where all good children went. But then had come the bitter fall of realizing that he wasn't ever going to be one of those good children. He was a freak, abnormal. A demon child.
The fear of death had come to Tom during his childhood. It was worse than a fear of going to hell. Tom had been once again transferred to a different orphanage, two years before he would attend Hogwarts. He had gone to school there, and it was in this school that his first atheistic views of the world had been formed. Evolution, anatomy, how the body worked, how the brain processed math and spelling. He had read many books as a child, having no interest in toys, or at least all interest in toys and games beaten out of him so that books were his only friends. Books taught him about the world, had given him everything.
But books had also caused him to no longer believe in god. God was a fairy tale. Like the Easter Bunny and Santa. Science was reality.
Suddenly it wasn't hell or beating little Tom had become afraid of. It was ceasing to exist when his body did. And that fear caused a relapse over his lack of control of magic, magic that had been beaten out of him, magic he had been forced to control or suffer lashings for. This outbreak of magic was what had drawn Albus Dumbledore to the orphanage for Tom at last. To tell him what he was.
But going to Hogwarts, seeing the ghosts, this was worse than not ceasing to exist! This was all the proof that magic and heaven and hell did exist, he wasn't a freak of science, he was a wizard! And wizards went to hell!
Or so he had been taught. Trying to untangle his mind from theology, Tom had thrown himself into his magical studies, in search of the ultimate question, in spite of the ghosts that flew passed his head; what happened after death?
Harry had seen more than just Tom learning to fear death, fearing the end to existence to thought, or the fear of hell and punishment. He had seen Tom generally afraid that he would die one day, and being trapped as a ghost, never being able to go where the good people went. He learned all too late that there was an afterlife, that even wizard souls 'went on', that Soul Mates and the next dimension existed, even if mortals weren't allowed to know what was coming, it was there, waiting to be discovered.
And he would never get to it because evil, cruel and cowardly souls could not pass on. They became ghosts, trapped, barely existing, and never able to leave their semi-transparent shells...He couldn't let that happen! He couldn't lose! Not to the muggles that said people like him went to hell, and not to something as menial and meaningless as physical death! He would make himself immortal! He would live forever!
Tom had lost his mental balance once he had found that purpose, to make himself immortal, to keep himself from becoming a ghost. He couldn't go on, but he wouldn't become a ghost either. He would be immortal. He would study all the dark magic of the earth, learn all the ways to protect himself against death.
Tom's first kiss had been Severus Snape's mother. It had also been his last real kiss of affection. After Hogwarts he had taken only pleasure lovers, never partners out of feelings of good and kindness. He only loved himself, and his cause; his horcruxes were mounting in number. Soon he would find that magic number, the number 7, and then he would be immortal.
He had been a bit deranged, Harry admitted, and he'd had no friends or peers like Harry had, to keep him on track.
Silent moments of crying, fear of death and hell and punishment returning to Tom, though he knew they couldn't exist, muggles made up all sorts of fairytales! The horrors in the night, waking up for dark dreams of the swirling universe that he would never be a part of, trapped in death on an earth that had hated him in life. Never knowing love...
Except for once. One bright moment of joy in over fifty years of suffering and pain. The day the child of his own school friend Eileen had come and rang on his doorbell. The years afterwards in which Voldemort had known a joy that Harry never had; the pain and joys of being the surrogate father of Severus Snape.
But that had been fleeting. Severus had gone on to Hogwarts, and Tom had gone on to become Lord Voldemort, feared, worshipped.
Like his muggle father had abandoned his mother, Tom had abandoned his adoptive son. He had become like his father, and thus Severus, once a source of joy, became a source of pain, only another lackey in his army of minions...
The Harvest Spell had ended with Harry still tightly trying to keep a handle on the flood of memories coming into his head. The sheer lack of happiness and joy in the last 50 years of Tom Riddle's life had threatened to make him fall to his knees sobbing.
Instead he had squeezed the hand that was in his, knowing that pain shared was pain halved, and that Tom had been given as much of him as he had been of Tom. And he knew that his own memories of a childhood of public school learning, of building brains before brawn, in the case of Harry versus Dudley, of knowing that he wasn't spoiled, and going to Hogwarts and being rewarded for his patience with magic and friends and love and all the things he had waited patiently for as a child. Learning all the faces of kindness, Albus Dumbledore, Hermione and Ron, Sirius Black, his parents, love and temperance had been Harry's teachers.
Temperance. He was the Ying to Tom's Yang. The balance to Tom's wild gravity. This thought comforted him as he drifted off finally to sleep. It gave him a reason for hope, that Tom's soul had finally found redemption in Harry's hard work to defeat him. Harry had defeated the monster in Tom that Tom himself had been afraid of, that half of him that doomed and damned him. The fear of death. Harry quite probably had been Tom's salvation, destroying his horcruxes and infecting him magically with his heart of kindness.
And Tom showed it. He seemed to be happier, lighter, and more positive when the Harvest Spell had ended. Having shared in a lifetimes worth of pain and suffering with Harry, he had also shared in the joys he had never known that Harry had.
Realizing that maybe they really were Soul Mates, and if so then Harry would try to make his Master as happy as possible, so that the man could finally and truly live.
Sleep, when it came, was easy for Harry, and full of hope for the future. A future with a man named Tom.
"Severus, I am completely drained, so this better be important."
Severus followed Voldemort into his tent, understanding that the man was still angry with him for the conversation with Harry, though he couldn't understand why his Lord was blaming him for any of that! They had both done a poor explanation of their beliefs of muggles, and the House Elf talk hadn't helped.
"You asked Liang Wu for registration papers for Harry," said Severus, putting the papers on the table. "He gave me permission to draw them up for you."
"Harry is sleeping," said Voldemort, snatching the papers and looking them over. "I'll have him sign them when he gets up. Anything else?"
"Yes," said Snape with a hiss. "You and Harry brought for us a crop that could feed an entire wizarding village through the winter. What are we going to do with all the extras, and are you and Harry Soul Mates, and do we plan to have a turkey with our harvest meal because then some of us will have to be hunting, and we still have to..."
"SEVERUS!" Voldemort yelled, then covered his mouth when he realized he had shouted.
Severus knew that he hadn't wanted to wake Harry. Severus had seen a change in them both after the Harvest Spell, and thus Severus was now pushing Voldemort's buttons.
Deadly, but Severus needed to know; would Voldemort punish his follower with a Crucio, like he would have in the past?
The answer came quickly, when Voldemort slumped down in a chair and pulled out a decanter of whiskey and two glasses.
"Sit, have a shot with me Severus, and let me tell you something about turkey hunting."
Severus chuckled and sat with the Dark Lord, the man pouring shots and talking about how magic and muggle methods for hunting turkeys differed.
"As to the leftover harvest food, give it to the muggle poor. They can't grow their own."
"Also, as to Harry and myself, I am now quite convinced that I am cursed to spend eternity either with Harry, or burning in hell. I'm not entirely sure that they aren't one and the same thing. Maybe I am dead, and this is a hell of my own making."
"Nonsense, there is no hell," said Severus, but before he could go on a magical scientific rant on ghosts and reincarnation Voldemort raised a stopping hand.
"Please, Severus, I just spent most of the harvest rifling through Harry's childhood memories as he went over my own. Neither of us had a happy life, though he has been made better for his struggles, the opposite, in short, of myself. And seeing some things he never wanted me to see, and him seeing things I've never told a soul...now I don't think I can keep him out. I think its safe to say we are Soul Mates, though I think I'm too bitter to love anybody."
"Occlumency doesn't help?" said Severus, startled by this unexpected outcome of the Harvest Spell.
"No, and I've never heard of Lucius being able to keep Narcissa out of his head for long when she had a mind to be in it, so I don't know how I could have possibly controlled that. Whatever the case, Harry is sleeping and dreaming, and I am awake and drinking with you."
"I'm sorry my Lord, I was wrong to bother you," said Severus, rising.
"No son, stay with me. We have things to talk about..."
"Yes," Voldemort swallowed his whiskey and shook his head. "I have yet to properly apologize to you, though I've been trying to."
"For abandoning you," Voldemort hissed. "I may had been a horrible foster father, but you were my son for awhile. You taught me the only love I've ever known. Even if I didn't appreciate it. If I had been a better father I wouldn't have ever taught you that Harvest Spell. Its MY fault your brother is a squib. I should have just taken you and Eileen and Tibs in and looked after you myself, instead, instead of taking magical shortcuts like that. I want you to know I do care about you. I appreciate you. And I'm proud of you. Do you understand."
Severus stared at Lord Voldemort, and his eyes dampened and he felt the choking sobs.
"Really? You aren't just..."
Lord Voldemort stood to his feet, and waited. It seemed as if he were waiting for something. Severus didn't know what to do. He was at a momentary loss. If Lord Voldemort cursed him then he didn't care. He stood to his feet, and buried himself into the man's arms, hugging him tight.
"I love you father, I do."
"Just don't call me that in front of the Death Eaters," Voldemort joked. "I don't need fifty children hugging me, two are more than enough."
Voldemort jerked his head towards the air near them, and Snape reached out to grab the invisibility cloak from off of Harry Potter's impertinent head.
"Can I have a hug too?" said the youth, eyes impish and teasing.
To his credit, Voldemort seemed to be very patient while waiting his turn as Snape paddled the laughing teenager within an inch of his life.
"I'm tired of being abused," said Harry, though it was with tongue thoroughly in cheek. "Can you teach me some magic today?"
Tom lifted his head, and Harry smiled. He couldn't really think of the man as Lord Voldemort anymore, after how much of the man's mind he had been exposed to the night before.
"No, its better not to drain yourself of magic so soon after a large magical ritual like that. Why don't you go out and help the young people with the harvest?"
Harry sighed. Tom was being extremely distant this morning. He had been so open with Severus Snape, but as to Harry, well, he was treating him like a child.
"I want to spend time with you today."
"Then here, fill out your Federation membership papers. But be quiet, I have a headache and I have to finish this bill before the council meeting."
"Can I come to the meeting?" Harry asked as he read the papers in front of him.
"We'll see," said Tom with a sigh. "Stop asking me questions. If you want to be treated like an adult you have to lose some of that whiny demanding tone when you ask questions."
"Its not my tone, I think its just my voice changing," Harry said, jesting. "But honestly, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be whiny. I've had a few shocks and surprises in the last couple of days."
Tom nodded, and then pushed his hands through his hair.
"Its no use," he said, slamming his quill into his inkwell. "I need glasses."
"I've been trying different spells to adjust my vision," said Tom in exasperation, standing to his feet. "But nothing works. I have to write with my face inches from the paper if I want to see what it is I'm writing."
"Want to try borrowing mine?"
"No...well...wait maybe. Let me see those for a moment".
Harry, puzzled, handed over the glasses, and his vision instantly went blurry. Tom examined the glasses for a few moments, then put them on and blinked.
"Damn what?" said Harry, confused. "What what?"
"We not only share heads and parseltongue, but we share perscriptions too. Though I may have to ask the local healer to double check it. I think I'll clone your glasses..."
"With a spell, clearly," said Tom, who gritted his teeth. "I don't prefer these sort of frames, but they'll do until I can get my own."
Harry nodded and was grateful when his own glasses were in his hands.
"If you don't like the idea of wearing frames, you can get contact lenses."
"Contact lenses?" said Tom, his voice questioning, and almost afraid to ask.
"Its a muggle technology," said Harry. "They're lenses that go right on your eyeball, rather than onto frames. Of course its just an idea," he added hastily, worried that the idea of Muggle contact lenses might offend his Master.
But Tom's eyes seemed to be calculating, and he considered for a moment, a hand to his chin.
"Harry, I have a job for you."
And so it was that Harry got his first lesson in how being an Apprentice to a well respected and admired member of the Federation benefited not only Harry, but Voldemort as well, as he sat next to Severus Snape in the Federation Council tent, with the Educational Decree for Optional Secondary Wizarding Schooling held tucked firmly in his hands.
He would have had a thing or two to say about the name of the bill, but he didn't want to press his luck on the matter.
"Next up, Harry Potter, Apprentice to Lord Voldemort, Federation member from The United Kingdom, had a bill to put forward."
A dozen heads turned in amusement and a buzz of whispers when Harry stood to his feet, with Snape scowling and jerking his head nervously in the seat next to him.
"Thank you Liang Wu. I just first want to apologize on behalf of my Master, he had to leave the camp on an 'urgent' matter of business and had no choice but to hand this matter to me. His instructions were that I would only have to present the bill on his behalf, and that Severus Snape," he looked briefly at the man next to him, "Could outline the details of the bill in full, and will sign the final draft of the bill."
"Very well, Harry Potter, put forward the bill."
Harry coughed. This would be the annoying part. In order to put forward the bill, he would have to read it for the council, as there was only, as of this moment, one copy of the bill, thanks to the fact that Lord Voldemort needed glasses. Solid objects like glasses could be cloned temporarily, but papers could not be cloned, and when they they were the spell was brief and ended with the paper, and the original copy, falling to dust on the floor.
Hopefully the same wouldn't happen to Harry's glasses.
"Bill number one twenty two, The Educational Decree for Optional Secondary Wizarding Schooling. As drawn up by Lord Voldemort, and co-authored by Severus Snape. As read and put forward by Harry James Potter," Harry breathed. "Item one: Henceforth all Recruiters shall have power of educational advancement in the Dark Arts of all Recruits, regardless as to the original Recruiter," this got some whispers of astonishment. Apprenticeship was the more traditional and thus many would have a problem in giving up the old manner of teaching Recruits. "Item two: That any regular gathering of three or more Recruiters educating in a single community constitutes as a formal school of the Dark Arts, and therefore is subject to all the rights and responsibilities of any other magical educational institution recognized by the Federation of Dark Magical Practitioners. Item three: That all students attending such an academic institution must have finished and and passed either their OWL or NEWT year of education, or in the case of international educational decrees, all standardized magical aptitude tests subject to that country designate..."
It went on like this for much time, with Harry going down a list of at least twenty items which Severus Snape wanted drafted into the final bill. Voldemort had told Harry that in all honestly probably only two would pass, the first two, but it made Harry feel satisfaction in his chest when he read the final,
"And finally, item twenty three: That students of the Dark Arts under the age of seventeen cannot practice any Dark Magical spells without the aid of an experienced Dark Arts practitioner, teacher, or their parent present in the classroom."
Harry had a feeling he knew just which of the two authors of the bill had come up with that last item. Harry sat down, handing the bill to Severus Snape, and then the flurry of discussion on the bill began, with Harry keeping quiet as the Federation fretted and brayed over every item on the bill, how these items could effect other areas of the dark arts. Many international wizards had problems with the wording of item three, that it seemed to favor Great Britain's OWL system over international standards. Another wizard said that an entrance test would be better, since some recruits never went to Hogwarts. Item three was eventually scrapped. But Lord Voldemort's prediction of items one and two came true and both items, slightly edited, were added to the final draft.
Harry didn't pay much attention after that. Most items were thrown out. The item in favor of standardized uniforms was thrown out when somebody pointed out that many Recruits were poor. Which lead to another item on the obtaining of funding supplies being fully approved. It seemed that the Federation did have a good head on their shoulders. Then Harry had to briefly have a small say when somebody had a problem with pets being owned by students, such as owls, which was the subject of worry over whether student privacy could be compromised by Ministry portal standards.
"I guess it depends on the owl. I only recall my owl Hedwig being searched once and my letters have never been opened."
"Strike that from the record," said one of the council members. "Harry Potter is not -yet- a member of the Federation."
"Oh," said Harry, then whispered to Snape. "Then how was I able to forward the bill?"
"Forwarding a bill and reading it on behalf of somebody is not the same as being able to actually make the rules of the bill," said Snape. "You were just reading it Potter, not actually making suggestions as to what the bill should contain."
"Besides Harry Potter," said Ollivander with an impish grin over the noise. "Your owl is quite special. I'm sure that so many magical precautions were taken on your behalf by Albus Dumbledore that the ministry could never have taken your mail if they wanted to."
Harry felt a little alarmed at this. Dumbledore had never told Harry that Hedwig had been charmed in any way. Was this true?
And where was Hedwig now? A moment of worry filled him that his owl would come to him here, or worse, that he would never see her again because of the order.
"Owls are useful for students to have," said Severus Snape. "And a basic lesson in letter writing in the school would allow the students to write to their parents without the Ministry knowing that the students are attending a Dark Arts school."
"That, and with the proper magical charms, like Harry Potter's owl, the student owls would be well protected," Ollivander said.
"I agree," said Liang Wu.
The measure was voted on, and in the end over fourteen of the twenty three items on the bill were written into the final draft by Liang Wu. Harry left the Council tent with Severus Snape feeling relieved that all this was over, and slightly upset.
"They worried that the students having OWLs would endanger them, but its not okay to keep them from experimenting in dangerous magic."
"Come again?" said Snape, jerking his head up.
"Item twenty three."
"Oh the bill," said Snape, scratching his head. "Sorry Harry, am a bit distracted today. But you're right," said the man, trying to change the subject away from his distraction. "They should have passed item twenty three. You better believe it will be a firm rule in my school, even if the Federation will not enforce it."
"Oh, so its going to be your school. Are you the Headmaster then?"
Snape stopped, and then nodded.
"I think I'm going to have to be. Somebody has to take the Federation seat, and that must be Lord Voldemort. He won't have time to be a headmaster and be on the Federation. He's already proven to me that I'm the better teacher, and he's the better statesman, though in terms of the book keeping and paper work we are the opposite. He will probably only come teach from time to time, or give demonstrations, as he did with the young people here during the Revel. But me and Lucius do most of the teaching, so thats probably how things will stay."
"What will Mister Malfoy teach?" asked Harry, as they made their way towards the lunch tent.
"Possibly Magical Diplomacy, or Advanced History of the Dark Arts. He was always very good with history and politics so thats probably what he'll excel in teaching. I, besides being Headmaster, will teach the Dark Arts."
Harry nodded. They walked in silence until they reached the lunch tent, then Severus stuck his head inside.
Silence. It was quiet. They went inside. Only a few quick footed Federation members were in here.
"Everyone must be out in the orchard picnicking," Snape said snidely, and held the tent flap open for Harry. "Gives me a chance to talk to you alone about your Master."
They settled down at a table, in which the only foods available were pancakes, salad and some raw fruits and veggies on trays.
"We aren't exactly the most imaginative when it comes to cuisine are we?" said Snape, chewing on a carrot stick. "But as soon as all the harvest is in we'll have bread and herbs for spices and we'll make stews and soups and have sandwiches."
"What about meat?" said Harry, poking his salad with a feeling of sorrow.
"I think some men went out to do some fishing nearby at the river, but there's going to be a hunt later."
"Uh...hunt?" said Harry, looking vexed.
"Yes, Harry, traditionally wizards don't buy their food, they grow it, raise their own chickens and cows, and in the case of wizards camping out in the forest, hunt and fish. We have no cows here, the chickens have all been eaten by now so there's no eggs, and I doubt you want to eat rats, though Wormtail would be the top of my list of edibles if he was here. So we go hunting, maybe catch some wild turkey or pheasant, or venison. Yummy."
"I've never had, uh, venison or pheasant."
"You have no lived Potter," said Snape. "And Hogwarts students are subjected to mostly modern muggle cuisine along with the more amusing wizarding treats. At any rate, having the order know the forest we're Revelling in means going in and out of camp is a risk."
"Really?" said Harry, jerking. "But Tom went out and..."
Snape's hand was immediately over his mouth.
"Call him the Dark Lord Harry," said Snape with a hiss. "Not everybody knows his real name. And I'm sure he's safe on whatever errand he's out at."
"Sorry," Harry said, swallowing at the thought of Tom risking his life over contact lenses just because Harry had made the suggestion. "So, you wanted to talk to me about him?"
"I did," said Snape with a raised eyebrow. "I think its safe for me to assume that you know now of the Soul Mate bond you share?"
Harry nodded, blushing bright red, and Snape sipped gently at his fruit juice.
"Then there are some things you need to know that I'm sure the Dark Lord has not had the patience to share with you."
Harry shifted nervously from side to side. Snape was now jamming salad into his mouth and crunching it without any sort of decorum.
"For one, Soul Mate bondings are formally recognized by the Federation, but not by the Ministry of Magic. Thus, if your Master were injured and being treated by Healers under the Federation, they would respect your Soul Mate bonding and allow you visitation and the right to deny or allow dangerous treatments to your Soul Mate. If St Mungos was treating him, political and criminal problems aside, you wouldn't be allowed to even enter his bedroom without a family member's consent, much less deciding on his treatment."
"Wow," said Harry sarcastically, whilst chewing on some celery. "I practically feel like I'm married now."
"You practically are," said Snape, looking at Harry seriously. "I've never heard of Soul Mates who didn't get married. Better get used to it now, and not agonize over it for months as you would have done I'm sure."
Harry glowered. Snape smirked. He was enjoying this.
"So now what?"
"So now be glad that you're Soul Mates. Or you wouldn't have been able to forward that bill. They were respecting your status as the Dark Lord's Soul Mate the way one would respect a relative or a spouse. Apprentices aren't important enough to read bills, but spouses can even write and revise a bill on their partner's behalf."
"Just can't vote on it."
"Not until Liang Wu signs those papers and returns them to you to be signed. You had better go find him and get that done, before your Master gets back. You might be needed to represent him in council again one day, and having the Federation membership means you could even draft a few bills of your own."
Harry jerked, and then mentally calculated all the laws he could put forth to the Federation.
But without knowing what laws were already in place, he decided it might just be putting peanut butter into the gears to try and ask for a law which may already be in place...or may be considered a criminal offense.
Shall have to talk to Tom about that. In the meantime, better go get those papers. The sooner I get Federation membership, the more useful I'll be to others. And the sooner I'll start getting treated like an adult, rather than just another young Recruit.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Sorry about the long wait. Anybody who writes their own fanfiction will know by now that hasn't been working for a couple days. I wrote this two days ago but was only able to post it today. o.o Solrry.
(Just a hint: at this point in time I'll be using 'Tom' to refer to Lord Voldemort when writing from Harry's point of view. But not from others. Lord Voldemort himself doesn't call himself Tom, so it may be awhile before his chapters use Tom. Deciding on how to name him is difficult, when he's changing so drastically.)
(Someone also asked about turkeys, and it is true, only domesticated Turkeys are located in England and raised on farms, not in wild. So I'm going to just say pheasants and deer instead of turkey and be done with is. As Snape and Voldemort said, they don't have factory farms sort of food production and only raise a few domestic animals, preferring to hunt instead. More pro-muggle places like Hogwarts might shop from muggle sources for things like sausage links and meat. But I like to think Madam Sprout was raising vegetables in the school Greenhouses for the students to eat.)
Anyways, onto the story!
Harry slid into the tent and into his room, noting the emptiness of the tent with a touchy feeling of fear. He examined his trunk for a moment before opening it.
He was on edge. Nervous. He had been fine while he was with Snape, but now that he was alone strange feelings of fear were filling him. Overwhelming him. He sat down on his haunches and started going through his trunk. He had a few things he needed to do. First he had to get Hedwig back, which would mean either leaving the camp temporarily to go search for her (She was probably in her cage at Grimmauld Place. Or maybe at the Weasley's,) or trying to summon her with some sort of spell, which probably would not work.
He had another thing he wanted to do outside of camp. Talk to his friends. But before he did anything of this, he would read that 'Introduction to the International Federation of Dark Wizards' guide book that the Malfoy's had given him.
He sat back on his haunches, rifling through the booklet with dismay. Nothing here about the constitution that the Federation had slowly been drafting up over the years to govern Dark Wizards once the Federation was in control of their various regions. In some places, like China, that was soon going to be a reality. In other places, like the United States, there were dark wizards hunts going on. At least that was according to the booklet.
This doesn't help me, Harry thought miserably. And I still feel uneasy. Why?
A shuffle at the tent alerted him finally to the return of Tom, and Harry ran out of his room immediately to go straight over to the man to admonish him.
"You left the camp and risked your life to get contact lenses!"
"Pardon?" the man said, lifting his glasses free face to look at Harry.
Tom's expression was one that was slightly annoyed, but highly amused, rather impish in fact. He was now reminding Harry severely of Diary!Tom with his flippy hair and roguishly handsome face.
"You went to get contact lenses, but you didn't tell me it would be dangerous!" Harry said, and couldn't believe he was lecturing Tom Riddle! "There's a lock-down on the camp, and you risked your life!"
"No Harry," said Tom with a chuckle, reaching out to put his hands on Harry's shoulders. "I had other errands I was able to run at the same time. My prescription, as it turns out, is quite common among muggles so I was easily able to take a side trip to get some. But," he paused. "Not sure I'm comfortable with these in, they make my eyes weep. I might use the reading glasses I bought instead. Severus can fix the prescription of them for me. He's good with that."
Harry finally noticed that there were a large number of parcels and packages on the floor around him that Tom had levitated into the tent. Now he felt slightly annoyed that he had been so concerned over the man's welfare.
"So?" said Harry. "What was so important then, that you would risk your life for it?"
"Oh, just a few things," said Tom, sorting through his boxes and parcels and ignoring Harry now completely. "I also found something of yours I thought you might want back."
Harry jerked his head up to where Tom was pointing. The dome shaped piece of luggage was suddenly so instantly familiar to him that he didn't need to ask what it was. He strode across the room and pulled the brown protective covering from the elegant cage, and a flurry of white flying feathers and cheerful hoots filled the air.
Harry opened the cage immediately and she flew right onto his arm, nipping affectionately at his face as he buried his crying face into her snowy white feathers.
"How did you ever find her?" Harry asked, turning to look at Tom, who was now opening a box of what looked to be potions ingredients. "And why?"
"She was looking for you," Tom explained, not looking up. "An owl, though clever, is not exempt from needing to be in the Secret Keeper wards of the Revel. So it was only a matter of searching the forest around the Revel with a Point Me spell. She was only happy to come to my hand when I told her I would take her to you. And as to why," Tom still wasn't looking at Harry as he opened another box, containing strange magical instruments and devices. "I thought it would be obvious. I could feel your concern for your owl through our bond all morning long. Owls are necessary and expensive to replace, so it seemed to me that you were right in your concern. You'll need your owl and I wasn't about to buy you a new one when there was a perfectly good owl waiting for you. One perfectly charmed against all manner of Ministry machinations I'm sure. She just needs a Federation collar so they know not to evict her from the Revel..."
It must have been a great surprise to Tom, and to Hedgwig, when Harry rushed over to him and wrapped his arms around the man's neck to kiss his cheek.
"Thank you," said Harry, tears in his eyes. "This means so much to me."
Tom jerked uncomfortably, then smiled, still unused to such open shows of affection by anyone.
"I know Harry, I know."
About an hour later Lord Voldemort, with Harry in tow, approached Liang Wu's tent to present his signed and completed paperwork to the man. For some reason Snape was hanging around the man's tent. (No, Voldemort knew why Snape was at the wizard's tent, and he was quite amused by it.) Liang Wu quickly signed the papers, filed them, then granted Harry's request to a copy of the Federation Charter and Constitution.
"Why ever do you need those I wonder," said Lord Voldemort later that night, as he watched Harry methodically going over the papers in question.
"Why do you think?" said Harry, sounding slightly annoyed. "You gave me a taste of how the Federation works this morning when you let me read a bill. I want to have a part of the forming of this new constitution and Government that I've just signed my allegiance away to."
"I beg your pardon?" said Voldemort, highly surprised, and slightly alarmed.
What was his apprentice up to?
"What, did you think I would be like Ron Weasley or Gregory Goyle, just doing what others tell me to? I'm Harry Potter. I don't fight for something unless I can understand what I'm fighting for, and democratically change what I might not agree with if I can."
Voldemort sat for a moment stunned. He had expected that Harry might joint he Federation because he was tired of the way the Ministry worked. But he hadn't thought Harry would want to have anything to do with the politics of it. He just assumed Harry, like many other youths, would be mostly interested in being an Auror, or in the case of the Federation members, being a soldier. (Voldemort called his soldiers Death Eaters, but really they were just another form of the Federation's armed forces, serving under a particular leadership.) But he had never thought Harry would want to take part in the Federation Council himself.
Voldemort was surprised...and delighted.
"So you have grand things planned for the council," said Voldemort, crossing his legs and taking a sip of the Chai tea he had blended from the herbs and spices brought to their tent by the harvesters. "May I be included in your plans, so that I don't end up shocked, dismayed or offended by any changes you may want to put into the Constitution that I worked so hard to help create over the years?"
"Oh," said Harry, and he tellingly blushed. "Um, first I want to read this through, and make sure that what I want to do isn't already somehow blocked or permitted in the constitution. Before I go to all the trouble of trying to convince Hermione to join the Federation."
Today was a day of surprises. What was Harry going on about?
"Hermione is a muggleborn," said Harry, looking up at Voldemort. "I want her to join the Federation. She loves magic, and learning, and I think she would be perfect as a teacher for the new school that Snape is making. But I know a lot of Dark Wizards look down upon muggleborns. I want to make sure its legal first, for her to even join the Federation, before trying to ask her."
"Why would you think there would be a legal challenge to it?" said Voldemort. "Just so you know, the word muggleborn is not used to denote a wizard anywhere in the constitution. Racial purity isn't looked on as favorably by Dark Wizards of other countries as it is in England."
Harry put down the constitution paperwork and sighed.
"Thats right, but I haven't met one young person here my age who is a muggleborn. And I might be the only half blood," Harry admitted, scratching his cheek. "And everyone knows it, and they aren't exactly hidden about their dislike of that, the ones who it bothers. Malfoy and Parkinson have been surprisingly nice, but not the others."
"Ah I see," said Voldemort, reaching to his cup for another sip. "You think there would be a challenge of allowing her not only to join the Federation, but to even be invited."
"More than that," said Harry. "I can imagine she would be allowed, but there would be nothing to protect her from the violence of others on the basis of the fact that she's of muggle heritage and wouldn't be considered a true witch. And doesn't the constitution allow for harming muggles in certain circumstances, such as self-defense?"
"Yes. Both constitutions have that actually," Voldemort sat up, feeling a headache coming on, but not from the mentioning of muggles, more having to do with the long day he'd had out 'shopping. "So I assume that the bill you want to draft is along the lines of 'Any person of wizarding skill may join the federation, regardless of parentage, and have all the rights and responsibilities as designated in the Charter?"
"Exactly, and I was going to add gender, race and religion to that, since I've seen very few female council members in positions of power," Harry's face sort of turned red. "And I noticed that there are other races here, such as werewolves. But I'm assuming people would take offense to House-Elves being put in the constitution?"
"They're already in it," said Voldemort, leaning back. "The Proclamation for legal possession of House Elves or other creatures of Magical heritage. Outlines many rules, such as no physical violence permitted against house servants and the elves rights to work or rest on days of holiday. Its a rather long thing, and every year somebody has a new something they want removed from it for their own convenience."
Harry nodded and Voldemort sipped his tea.
"And you would be surprised to note that magical beings have more rights in our constitution than in Ministry law. They can, and do, become members of the Federation. And I know of at least one werewolf on the council. Grayback never showed interest in membership for more than showing his support of our whole organization. He's no mind for politics or war games strategy. He's a brawler, pure and simple."
Harry seemed to be considering the stack of parchment in front of him. The neatly printed and bound volume seemed rather large to Voldemort's eyes, in comparison with the youth that wanted so desperately to understand it. There was a helplessness there that worried him, and he could understand why.
Asking a muggleborn to be a Federation member was something only he himself had done. He had never heard of anybody else doing it before, and the Federation hadn't been keen on the idea of him recruiting Lily. Grindelwald had refused her requests for him to recruit her twice!
But Voldemort chuckled. The idea of Hermione Granger, who had opposed him alongside Harry Potter, joining the Federation, amused him. He knew she would probably try to change the constitution in any way she could, and fight for the rights of all those tiny minorities that the Federation didn't care or concern themselves over.
In fact he knew she would have the guts to bring about the bills and demands that maybe even Harry Potter did not. Having her in the Federation would sweep the feet out from even his Death Eaters and point out the validity of all wizards and witches, no matter their birth, to the cause of promoting Dark Magic. If a Muggleborn practiced Dark Magic, then maybe the world wouldn't see it as evil?
But then his mind head with the small nagging fear that Harry's yearning need for Hermione Granger to join the Federation was all in vain, that she had been one of the ones to conspire against him and would refuse all advances. He didn't mention this to Harry however, the boy seemed so sure of himself.
"Well Harry, I would avoid worrying about the minor species and races for now, and just concentrate on getting your muggleborn friend into the Federation. And I will help you draft the bill, though I dare say I may lose followers over it. I can't say I'm that upset about it. The loyal ones will stay regardless."
Harry jerked up. Now it was clearly his turn to be surprised, and he beamed, a smile that was beautiful and light and sang to Voldemort's weary soul. The headache was gone and all that mattered now was that Harry was happy.
Happy enough to come over, kiss him on the forehead, and promise not to be any more of a bother after that. Voldemort longed to hold the boy, to caress him.
But fear of overstepping the invisible boundaries between them and starting something he could not control kept him at bay. It would be a fine thing indeed if Lord Voldemort, feared leader of the British Dark Wizards, fell in love.
But I fear it may already be too late.
"We are assembled today to discuss the matter of the infiltration of the Revelry and the attempts on Federation member Harry Potter's life. With the first month of the Revelry passed us and the harvest well underway, it is quite apparent that we will be staying here for some time. The question is this: how do we maintain Revel security, protect Mister Potter, and continue with the more mundane amusements of the Revelry, when the threat of the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry of Magic breaking into the Revelry is a daily risk?"
Liang Wu waited patiently in the silence after this missive. He looked around the assembled guests. Only the top Federation chair members were invited to this meeting. The only exception to this being the newest member of the Federation, Harry Potter, who looked ready to bust with impatience. He was here because all this had to do with him and most of the Federation chair members were of the mind that he was too new to be involved in anything so important. And Liang Wu fearfully felt that Harry Potter would not allow himself to be kept in this position of inferiority for long.
"We already know that the Ministry and the Order know our location. Our Secret Keeper spell is worthless now. We are relying on the secure warding and protections of Lord Voldemort
to keep the Ministry from bursting in here. But if the Ministry and Order combine their forces, they will break through the wards. Lucky for us they are currently bogged down in the evacuation of Doveton following that giant attack. But they'll be back onto us quickly enough. Any suggestions?"
"We could simply move the Revel," Severus Snape said thickly. "Its hard work, but once all the harvest is packed and stored its just a simple matter of moving the supplies to the new camp site. Each person in charge of their own tent. Most of us have had the privilege of experience in the matter of breaking camp so it would be a trifle. Some have house elves to help them with this."
"There are plenty of protected spots in the United States that the British Ministry would not think of attacking," piped up Claudius Prescott, one of the American Federation council members.
Council members were a little different than regular Federation members, as they had a bit more clout. If the majority of chair members voted for a bill, it was law, regardless of how the rest of the Federation wanted. They were voted into the council because their advice was well respected and sound. Severus Snape was on the council, as was himself, Gellert Grindelwald, and many other strong wizards. Lord Voldemort was the only wizard invited to join the council who had declined the honor, leaving his lieutenant to hold that seat instead.
But Claudius Prescott was a stand-in only. His tenure of duty would end as soon as the real American council member had healed from all his injuries relating to the attack on the food tent. Thus his suggestion of moving to the United States was completely ignored by all.
Still, his offer is valid, the United States, despite being in a conflict right now, does have vast expanses of magical lands that the Minstry has no record of, thought Wu as other countries shouted out their own offers to host the Revel. Severus Snape looked livid as hell. Can't blame him. He's worked so hard to get the Revel hosted in the United Kingdom this year. He's worked so hard with everything. He's really wonderful. I don't know why he rejected my marriage proposal.
But Wu had to keep his personal thoughts to the side, as the arguing had reached an almost violent tone. He raised his wand and silenced the room with a bang, like a gun shot from his wand tip, to get everybody's attention.
"We will keep the Revel in the United Kingdom," said Wu forcefully, as everyone silenced and looked at him. "Travelling across seas would require expensive portkey and floo expenses, lengthy preparation and all sorts of magical political maneuvers that we have no time for, no thanks to the restrictions the International Confederation of Wizards has put on travel. Within this border we can easily travel by apparition and broomstick unnoticed."
"Still the problem remains," Severus said thickly. "Of where. Where in the United Kingdom to go? I have been searching through all my proposed locations, and finding a wizard with large enough property and who is in the Dark Arts who would risk a Ministry search in order to host the Revel in their back yard is just...well to put it bluntly there's none left. Everyone who is even in the slightest suspicion of being a Dark Arts practitioner has had their lands seized by the Ministry. This land, whose owner shall remain undisclosed, is the last on the list."
A murmur of astonishment at this, and angry arguments about the Ministry raids of the more law abiding Dark Arts practitioners.
"But why does it have to be owned by wizards?" said Harry Potter suddenly, causing a bunch of people to turn in hushed amazement at him. "The Ministry has altered the memory of muggles in order to set up events on their property for years. The World Quidditch Cup finals, for example..."
"Its true," said Liang Wu, as protests went up. "The Ministry of Magic uses Muggle properties on temporary basis quite often, as they are more plentiful. They are easier to ward since no pre-existing wards and magic can hamper with the basic anti-muggle protective charms that are put up during Magical activity. When they remove their wards and their tents, such as at the Quidditch Cup, the magic is gone and Muggles can safely move in again."
"The problem," said Claudius Prescott more forcefully now, trying to budge his way into having any say in the current conversation, "Is that our constitution forbids us from altering the memory of muggles who discover us more than once on the same day. Otherwise the charm fails and eventually they can become immune to oblivate altogether. And it does us no good trying to keep our society SEPARATE from muggles if they all get knowledge of us from one leaky muggle memory."
"And while the Ministry of Magic has skilled oblivators on at all times in case of mishaps we...still...are lacking in this capacity."
This from Severus Snape, who had always taken an ill thought towards the Ministry's use of Oblivate. If the Ministry was so pro-muggle after all, why would they tamper with so many memories, sometimes to harmful effect upon the muggle? Wouldn't it be easier for the Ministry to just allow them to keep their memory, have pro-muggle wizards live along side the knowing muggles?
"What is most most harmful to us? Having muggles know about the wizarding world, or trying to oblivate them and possibly causing them damage."
"I'm surprised," said Harry Potter suddenly, sounding wryly ironic. "That anybody here besides me would be concerned about the welfare of muggles."
People whispered in gasped astonishment. Prescott and Potter shared a look for a moment, and then Snape coughed.
"Well, our constitution mandates respecting the muggle right to land and living space. We want to live separately from them, not eliminate or control them. That is a more old fashioned viewpoint than the idea of living amongst them, but a little less conflicting than outright domination. But you are right Potter. We have only just begun to put any muggle rights into our wizarding charter. We cannot use muggle lands, or alter muggle memory, without understanding the effects it has not only on us, but them as well."
"If you are a professional Oblivator, able to erase only particular memories, then it would make sense to work with muggles, and borrow land from them," said Prescott immediately. "Easier to just erase the memory of their seeing magic, and not of their whole lifetime of memories altogether."
"But we can't, because the Federation's strongest Oblivators have no more of a capacity for memory charms than Gilderoy Lockhart," said Severus with a snort. "The most skilled Oblivators are Occlumens, and we have so few of them on our side due to the Ministry restricting the teaching of Occlumency to anyone who isn't a Ministry employee. Which is why my school will be so important."
"Back to the subject at hand," said Liang Wu. "Where to have the Revelry?"
All minds were on churning gears now, and Harry Potter looked anxious. He looked like he wanted to say something, but he wasn't sure how well it would be taken.
"Well," said Harry Potter, swallowing, and biting his nails, and considering. "What about...Ministry Property?"
Many heads turned to Potter as if he were out of his mind. Then Gellert Grindelwald laughed. He laughed and all heads turned to look at him as he clapped his hands.
"Wonderful Mister Potter, wonderful!"
"I don't understand," said Wu angrily. "What do you mean by wonderful? We can't use..."
"Wu, think about it," said Severus suddenly, using Wu's name unabashedly. "Using Ministry Property right under their nose. Ministry property that isn't used during the summer? Think about it carefully..."
"What do you...WHAT? You don't...surely you don't mean Hogwarts?"
Harry nodded and everybody jumped up, shouting angrily.
"QUIET!" shouted Lord Voldemort, snapping his wand out to blast sound loud enough to pierce the silencing wards. "Enough with shouting! It gets nothing accomplished! Like squabbling children all of you! Just let my Apprentice explain himself before launching into an offensive!"
They were the only words the Dark Lord had spoken since the meeting had started, and they were angry enough to quell even the brash Prescott.
But not Harry Potter.
"Think about it," said Potter, ignoring his Master's scowling face. "Hogwarts is empty. The Ministry closed the school down for good until they can ensure the safety of the students. We're technically at war now, at least the UK wizards are, and the teachers are all either in the Order, in which case they would be at Headquarters,"
"Not Hogwarts," interrupted Snape pointedly.
"Or else they are at home vacationing. The House Elves are given holiday in the summer," said Potter. "They are usually replaced by hired squibs who clean up the old castle fully knowing that its magical in nature. They can be bribed to keep working for us, I'm sure. Many of them may not be willing to work at Hogwarts this summer due to the conflicts."
"And the portraits are put under sleeping charms for the summer, since they become helplessly bored without students," Severus drawled, smirking.
"And the only problem left beyond that is ghosts," Potter continued. "The ghosts can't tell anybody if we're there since they can't leave the castle. And Peeves loves a good practical joke. He'd probably love us sneaking in and out of the castle doing magic when the Ministry wants it locked up. Its well protected...then there's the forest."
"Ah yes," said Wu. "The forbidden forest. A powerful magical dampener. It is because of the forest that you cannot apparate out of Hogwarts. Perfect place to teach wild Dark magic to young people."
"What about that game keeper?" said another council member thickly. "The Half Giant?"
"Hagrid's on vacation up in the mountains," said Harry, turning slightly red, and Wu had a feeling he was lying to cover up the game keepers real location. "He'll be gone all summer and most of the fall. The ministry sacked him again...without Dumbledore to protect him now..."
"Ahem," said Severus firmly. "Back to the point. Could we do this? Claim Hogwarts as our own, right under the Ministry's nose?"
"It would take a powerful wizard to break the wards they put up around the castle during the summer, get into the castle, and open it up to invasion," said Grindelwald seriously. "Well?"
All heads looked at Lord Voldemort, who was the only wizard to have managed to break into Hogwarts succesfully in almost the entire lifetime of the castle. Him, and young Draco Malfoy. Lord Voldemort just scowled, nodding his head curtly.
"I think we can do it," said Potter. "I think we can do it without anybody knowing we're there."
"Another Secret Keeper spell?" said Prescott curiously.
"Yes but," Harry paused. "Make my Master and me the Secret Keepers this time, and no letters."
All shouting started again. But Liang Wu was amused. He was sure that Harry Potter had his reasons for wanting to be Secret Keeper that had nothing to do with betraying the Federation. He was up to something.
"I assume you have reasons," said Wu, raising his voice above the crowd.
"Its a simple thought I had," said Harry, now looking embarrassed. "I know most of the people who are in the Order, and my Master has the connections to the Ministry, so he'll know who can't be trusted on that end. We're both also Occlumens, so anybody that neither of us are sure of we can do a brain scan," Voldemort snorted at this very muggle terminology. "Between the two of us, only those who we know are trustworthy get in on the Secret. Not by letter, they will all have to talk to me or my Master directly, and they won't be able to share it."
"A co-operational Secret Keeper spell," said Severus Snape with relief. "No more of this sending letters and having all council members Secret Keeper. Only the Head of Security and his Apprentice can give permission."
"Why the boy too?" said Prescott acidly.
"Clearly because Harry Potter is Lord Voldemort's Soul Mate," said Grindelwald thickly. "And making one Soul Mate Secret Keeper would immediately make the other as well, as everybody but a two year old would understand. That's the unfortunate price to pay for sharing your head, you also share all your secrets."
Harry Potter blushed bright red. Lord Voldemort merely scowled, and looked down at his hands like a five year old. He wasn't in a good mood this evening, and it was obvious why. He was visibly exhausted, hadn't had a moment of rest since the Harvest Spell, and this was really Harry Potter's idea. He was only here because Harry Potter, though a new Federation member, was his Apprentice and the whole meeting concerned his, their, safety. The whole reason for all of this was because the Ministry and Order were after Harry and Lord Voldemort.
"In short, gentleman, the whole reason the Revel is at risk in the first place is because of the conflict between these two individuals who are now joined by everything but blood and marriage, and thus the two of them came up with this scheme together in order to correct the problem and save some face at the same time by volunteering to police the whole situation themselves," Grindelwald chuckled, not the least bit forgiving in his assessment.
Harry Potter's glare at this comment matched his Master's and the room broke out into whispering.
"But we are in agreement then," said Liang Wu, hoping to bring the meeting to a closure. "That we shall take Hogwarts for the summer, and with the Secret Keeper spell in place nobody will know that we were even there? And with Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort as Secret Keepers, we are assured that nobody from the Ministry or the Order, who want to kill both of them, will be able to enter the Revel without their knowing. No letters to fall into the wrong hands, and two Occlumens examining the minds of those who wish to enter the Revel before they are given the Secret? All in favor?"
A surprising number of hands rose at this. Hogwarts was quite a coup. It would be difficult to arrange, but once they entered the castle there would be no trouble, smooth sailing from there on out.
"So here's the final question," said Gellert Grindelwald with a twinkle in his eyes. "Will Severus Snape and Lord Voldemort be keeping Hogwarts after the Revel is over, or returning it to Ministry control."
Harry Potter's head jerked to look at Snape, who was flummoxed, and Lord Voldemort, who had an evil smile on his face. Liang Wu had to hand it to them for the brilliance of this scheme. Yes, Hogwarts would be quite a coup for Lord Voldemort and his followers. And it had all been masterminded by Lord Voldemort and The Boy Who Lived.
Merlin save us if this all goes wrong thought Liang Wu, as the council broke. It could mean more than just a small fight against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters if anybody discovered us there. It would be open war for the Federation itself, something we haven't risked in many years. But this Revel is the most important we've ever run. By this time next year, we will be in charge. This will be our world. It all depends on this Revel and what comes out of it.
-Yes. I know I've done the 'Dark Wizards plan to take over Hogwarts' bit in another story. But this time I plan to write it out, rather than having it as an afterthought like I did for the Knockturn series (which needs editing, and more chapters, honestly.)
Feel free to tell me whether I missed any important plot threads along the way, so I don't get blindsided like I did for my Knockturn fic, with a hundred threads of plot that I couldn't just neatly tie up like I wanted to. :/
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
This chapter is very raw. Editing will be done, promised.
~~ THE SEX CHAPTER! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED! NC-17! AVOID THIS FIRST SECTION IF YOU AREN'T AN ADULT! THANK YOU! ~~
"The Death Eaters are all drunk," said Harry as he slipped into their shared tent. "The promise of Hogwarts, something tangible, has got them all in a tizzy."
Tom sighed, pushing apart the huge piles of maps and papers he had been looking over, in order to make room at the table for his apprentice. Harry settled in across from him comfortably, the satisfied look on the youth's face telling him that Harry had just eaten well. A slight blush indicated that he may have had a few drinks himself...but not to celebrate.
"We may not be able to take Hogwarts at all if we can't find a way into the castle without any detection spells hitting us."
Harry bent forward pointedly to look at the map Tom had been marking with his pen, and jabbed the map in two places.
"Secret tunnels. Here and here. This one exits out to Honeydukes in Hogsmeade, and this one to the Shrieking Shack. If Ron, Hermione and Remus haven't told anybody about these, which I doubt, then we'll have no trouble getting in. Its staying in, undetected, that'll be harder."
Tom looked at Harry closely, carefully. There was fear and hesitation in his eyes. In the past Tom would have been more inclined to believe the fear came from some secret treachery. It was, after all, something a member of the order would do. Pretend to be close to those you hate, sneak into their world, their hearts, throw wrenches into their plans, try to lure them into a trap...
But the aching bond between them could never lie. Could never allow falsehoods between them. Harry's fear had a more base and physical source.
It was pure sexual fear this, embarrassment, brought on by the alcohol and the closeness of them bo...oh. Oh.
Harry was looking at him now, waiting for a response. Oh, right.
"We could try those. I'll send a scouting party ahead to check and make sure these routes are clear. Then you and I will penetrate Hogwarts first."
Harry nodded. His eyes were glossy and large, almost like round green emerald stones that could be held smooth within the palm. Both Harry's moist pink lips parted slightly, and a red blush crept up his cheeks. He had noticed the attention and was embarrassed by it.
"Harry, we have yet to confront the elephant that is sitting in this room with us, and I think it is time that we did."
"Elephant? Oh yeah uh," Harry stumbled over his words. Tom knew he would quickly lose articulation when caught off guard. It was such an endearing feature that he was disinclined to let Harry recover his decorum.
"Yes, us. Clearly there is no turning back from this bond of ours. And I haven't tasted any human pleasures in such a long time that I'm not sure I'm capable anymore..."
"I...never have...done...what you said...with tasting and..."
Virgins, thought Tom with a sensual smile. So easily flustered by the idea of sex.
"Well then my apprentice, lets not beat about the bush. Come here."
Harry was too embarrassed to disobey, and came around the table with a look like a wild animal caught in a trap.
"No need to be afraid, I'm skilled enough that I won't do you any harm. Come here, on my lap..."
Harry suddenly seemed to realize his Master's intentions and was relieved. He slid easily onto Toms lap, both his arms finding rest on Tom's shoulder's. Tom wrapped his own arms about the youth's waist to keep him pinioned against him. Harry's face was red and his breathing was hard. Tom pulled the long lithe body firmly against him and smiled.
"Now how shall I start? Ah, I think the appropriate way to begin is with a kiss, is it not?"
Harry opened his mouth as if to say something and Tom quickly took advantage of this, silencing the boy's words with his mouth.
Warm, and wet, and with a slight flavor of alcohol. Harry had been drinking a bit then. A soft sigh from the boy indicated his enjoyment of the moment. Tom was not inclined to part from the slow, liquid kiss for some time, until Harry seemed to push away with the need to breath.
"Certainly a little more advanced than our previous kissing exercises, hm?"
"Can we do that again?"
Tom laughed, and embraced the youth without question. Warm lips, a warm body, it had been so long for Tom, years it seemed, had to have been, and here was someone young, willing, and bound to him by more than obedience. A willing partner, an honest partner.
A partner that was tugging at Tom's shirt.
"Slow down little one," said Tom smiling. "Now sit back a bit, off with that sweater then, and I'll be able to find more places to kiss."
Harry obeyed and Tom rewarded him by kissing every inch of flesh that was exposed with the removal of his shirt. He moved his hands slowly along Harry's back, massaging and rubbing the boy's shoulders, and easing out some of the fear and tension that he felt knotted there.
When he pulled back from the kissing he saw that the fear and nervousness was gone from Harry's eyes, replaced by an eagerness and warmth that caused Tom to momentarily lose his breath.
Harry was gorgeous, sexy and wanted him. Wanted him now with questioning eyes. As if saying, 'Yes, I want to now, but what do we do next?'
Tom decided it was time to show him. A chair was no proper place to make love for the first time. He stood quickly, and scooped Harry in his arms easily. Harry couldn't help his giggle of delight, and Tom strode proudly to his room with the youth in his arms.
Harry seemed surprised and delighted by the level of comfort within his Master's private rooms. Unlike the rest of the spartan tent, which was for function, Lord Voldemort preferred a comfortable bed to sleep on, with a soft downy duvet comforter to cushion his aging bones. But the thought of Harry resting within that billowy cloud was enough to cause Tom to stride forward and gently toss his lover down onto the bed.
Harry laughed, eyes green eyes dancing with humor.
"Been awhile for you you said?"
"Imp," said Tom said, and he disrobed his outer layers.
Darn propriety, thought Tom, as he finally got himself down to his underpinnings. Maybe Severus has the right idea about muggle clothing.
Harry was thoroughly enjoying the strip tease, the scamp, and when Tom tried to crawl onto the bed with his underpants on, Harry tskd and pointed.
"You missed a spot."
Tom glared at the boy, but decided to obey and removed that last article of clothing, and just to be cheeky, he stood to full height and flexed his arms like a bodybuilder.
"Well young man, am I too old for sex?"
Harry darn right blushed, and was trying hard not to let his eyes stray down to waist level. And he had every reason to blush; Lord Voldemort had had been keeping in shape and eating right since his rebirth. He liked to think that he was every bit as physically attractive as men half his age, even if he did have silver hair.
"All right show off, its my turn."
Tom wasn't going to let Harry deprive him of the right to remove his clothes for him, and crawled right on top of him on the bed so that Harry had no choice. He was rewarded by Harry kissing his neck as he unbuttoned the youth's jeans.
"Mmm, muggle clothes. So much easier to get into," said Tom. "Should be mandated. All our fashion trends come from muggles anyways, many ages out of date. Time to get with modern times I think."
Harry grinned and caught his master off guard with a kiss. The warm wetness of Harry's tongue slipped between his teeth and Tom moaned. It had been a long time. And now Harry's hands were moving up his pectorals, even as his own fingers were exploring along his lover's thighs.
"For a virgin you sure seem to know what your doing..."
Harry blinked, and seemed to think about that for a moment, which sort of jerked them out of the rhythm of touches they had been sharing.
"Well, we're connect. So I know what you want I guess. And I know right now your annoyed that I've stopped touching you..."
Harry's hands moved downwards, nervously, until, heaven and hellfire, he had Tom's cock in his hands.
"At least I know something about this bit of anatomy," said Harry cheekily, then he pushed Tom backwards so he could bend down and taste the tip.
Hey who's in charge here? Tom thought with a wild mental laugh.
Harry may have been vanilla, but all the cues he was taking from his lover were not the least bit virginal. Pleasurable tension now burned behind Tom's belly button and he was cross to get his own say in matter. Then an idea rippled through him.
Ying yang, as Liang Wu would say. I was going to do things the missionary way for Harry's first time...but...well..
He only had to push Harry away from him for a moment, long enough for him to spin around at a more appropriate angle. The appreciative moan from Harry when he took up the same position as his lover was in made Tom chuckle. Harry's young cock tasted quiet bitter but slightly spicy, the very essence of young vitality. A low moan began to build within Tom's chest as Harry returned to his own delicate suckling, sending off sparks and jolts of pleasure up the base through his belly. It was a perfect position for two so suitably matched, and Tom spared no time is matching Harry's slow methodology, a rhythm of sucking nibbling and licking that was almost like a feast, a feast of equals sharing from the same cup, the same pleasure, the same flavor of liquid ecstasy. Harry now had his hands clasped around Tom's buttocks, gripping tightly as he slowly worked his mouth over the long shaft of his cock, and Tom could barely keep up with the youth, matching the same exact motion.
Ying and yang, like a tangled pair of snakes they writhed together on the bed, faces pressed to their lovers pelvis, hands grasping and holding on for dear life as the waves of pleasure began to pulse between them, growing and welling like a flow of magical energy. It seemed as if magic would be involved, Tom could almost feel Harry's twin shock to his own as they began to rise up from the bed, nothing touching them both now but each other. A magical synergy of electricity seemed to arch through the room, even as Tom felt his own climax racing through his body, trying to make it first to the finish line, but having to settle for a tie, his body's pleasure exploding forth from him even as a bitter yet spicy liquid began to fill his mouth from Harry.
Sex, and all its heat and sweat and fire now gripped them both as they suckled and swallowed every last drop of it.
Then the magic broke, like an elastic band snapping in the air, and they both landed on the bed exhausted and spent. Tom barely had enough energy to turn around and crawl up to his lover so that they were face to face before he felt his limbs give up the ghost and the comfort of the duvet embraced them both.
"Lovely," was what he heard Harry speak before he drifted off into happy exhausted sleep.
SEX SCENE OVER. WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED FIC!
Harry blinked his eyes open and stretched. He found he was in a very soft bed, with a warm body next to him. Something warm and tingling inside him told him all he needed to know. They had shared something a little more than just the physical last night. The magic was there, it was there, and it was very very real.
Soul mates...and now its permanent. No turning back.
Harry wasn't sure they'd ever had any chance of turning back, not on the path that they now both took. He sat up on one arm to look down at his lover with a feeling akin to pure joy.
He's so beautiful when he sleeps. And my goodness, he mentioned gray hair, but its looking a lot darker now. If this sex thing is going to keep him young and healthy then I'm all for it. Even if it is a bit embarrassing...and messy.
Tom's eyelids had darted open and Harry blinked.
"Hadn't known I'd said that out loud."
"You didn't," said Tom Riddle bemusedly. "There are no occlumency barriers between soul mates."
"Dang, I forgot about that bit," said Harry, and he bent down to kiss his chuckling lover on the lips. "Guess that means I won't be able to hide anything from you."
"What were you planning to hide?" said Tom wryly.
"My plans to stay with you after the year and day is over," Harry admitted. "I like being around you."
Tom was clearly taken aback by this, but any reply he had was silenced by another kiss.
"Then we clearly have to make plans for our future together. Marriage, any children we adopt..."
"Yeah, that's what I want, kids," said Harry. "Lots of them. Lots and lots"
Tom groaned and kissed Harry back.
This beautiful, almost serene moment intimacy between them was shattered by the sound of explosions and screams which rocketed suddenly through the camp.
"Salazar!" said Tom, leaping from the bed nude. "What the devil just happened?"
Harry leapt likewise and was stopped by Tom long enough to make sure they both had appropriate clothes on before they ran from the tent. People were running left right and center. Tom summoned the Malfoy house elf, who was in charge of their tent as well, and gave him orders to start packing up immediately, before he ran off in the direction of the explosions. Harry shot after him, even as frightened people were running in the opposite direction.
A fire fight was happening on this end only. As wizards were trying to prevent the fire from spreading, Ministry officials were scouring the tents with fire spells and shooting their wands at any wizard they could to try and petrify them. The chaos was such that Tom stopped quite a distance away to get his bearings.
"Damn them, they waited until we were all drunk or passed out to attack. There must still be a spy in camp."
"What do we do?"
"Nothing here," said Tom with a sigh. "We do our plan, we go to the new revel site and make sure its safe for the refugees. Look, there's Grindelwald..."
Tom ran over to him as the ministry men started to retreat back to a better distance from the inferno. Tom looked like he wanted nothing more than to follow them, but the fire was spreading through the camp and people's lives were in danger.
"Trying to drive us out of camp," said Grindelwald when they arrived. "Want to bet there are more ministry in the opposite direction, to pick up anybody they can grab?"
Harry was left confused and frightened as Tom started trying to gather his scattered Death Eaters in order to give them orders.
"Do not engage the ministry, no matter how tempting we stick to the plan and leave. Tents are not important, objects are not important. Gather your families together to safe..."
"My Lord!" said Bellatrix Lestrange, running towards them from the south. "Severus Snape was captured!"
Everyone turned to look at her in horror.
Tom's face was deadly.
"Our group was leading the young people out of the forest to the apparition point," said Lestrange, face flushed, and Harry noticed a cut on her forhead. "The Minsitry attacked them, killed Dolohov and MacNair and grabbed Snape. They left the young people behind."
"Where are the children now?" asked Lucius Malfoy in fright.
"I escorted them to the apparition point then came back here..." Lestrange turned to look at Lord Voldemort.
"Good work Bellatrix," said Tom, and Harry could see the fury and determination in his eyes. "We stick to the plan, get everybody out of here. Harry and I are going on ahead to secure the new location. Don't worry about objects, let the house elves handle tents and toiletries, just get the people out of here."
Harry felt Tom's worry and concern for the people at the revel filling him from their bond and his heart was suddenly sickened by it all. Why would the Minsitry do this? The majority of people here were teenagers and children, they were putting innocents at risk, for what?
"For us," Tom whispered to Harry. "Which is why we have to leave. If they see us leave, they'll leave."
Now Harry knew why Tom had chosen to cover himself in a gaudy green wizards robe with a big heavy hood. His face wouldn't be recognizable but his clothes and Harry made it obvious who he was. The two of them raced towards the apparition point. Duels were being fought around them, but Tom was not stopping to interfere or engage the Minsitry employees that approached them. Harry decided that defense was the best measure now and cast defensive spells ahead of them in their path. Wands flew from hands and spells were redirected as they kept running. They passed the crumpled lifeless bodies of those that had tried to flee as they went and Harry felt his stomach leap into his throat. He recognized the oriental robes of Liang Wu amidst the group. Tom bent down to try take his pulse.
"Dead," he affirmed with an ungodly hiss. "If I get my hands on the person who..."
Harry grabbed Tom and pulled him down just a spell flew at their heads. Harry's head jerked up, and his eyes met briefly for a moment with Kingsley Shacklbolt's before Bellatrix leaped between the pair and the man.
"You go my Lord!" said Lestrange on purpose, so that everyone would know it was he. "I'll keep him off you long enough for you to aparate."
"Come Harry!" said Tom loudly. "Lets not make waste of this."
It was only a few more steps before Tom caught a hold of him around the waist and they aparated, the chaos, screams and heat of the fight melting away into the night.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Silence. The Forbidden Forest was deathly still. Then the silence was shattered by men, women and children all aparating in en masse. The centaurs that the Dark Lord had bribed to protect the clearing had been sleeping there that night, and they scattered wildly when they were suddenly surrounded by wizards that they weren't expecting. Harry Potter tried to get his bearings, but for the moment he could not locate his Master.
Because the two of them had both aparated into a bush.
"Whichever of those accursed mules grew these bushes here against my orders will be punished severely," said the Dark Lord angrily, pulling leaves out of his hair as he struggled to stand himself up. "We could have splinched!"
"Tom," said Harry, reaching a hand out to his Master. "Please? A hand?"
"Right," said The Dark Lord, and soon Harry was upright. "You look a sight love," said the man, pulling leaves from Potter's shirt.
"Tom, you called me 'love'," Harry said, and felt color rising to his cheeks.
The Dark Lord turned his face in embarrassment.
"Well, ahem," Tom said, with an audible swallow. "Lets go see who managed to escape here, and plan our next course of action."
An hour passed and Harry finally had a chance to sit down with his Master and the Death Eaters in order to take stock of the situation. Luck seemed to have been with them that night, despite the surprise attack. Save for the two Death Eaters, and few members of the council who had fallen under the initial attacks, all the remaining Federation members, their families, the young wizard guests and their families, had managed to get out of the camp grounds safely.
"Luck wasn't with Severus tonight I'm afraid," said Lucius Malfoy, sporting a rather nasty cut on a face where a hex had caught him by surprise. "He was the only one captured. You can imagine what they're putting him through in order to find out where we are now."
"Thank Merlin for the secret keeper spell," said Tom. "I'm afraid I'll have to take his place on the council until he returns, which I hope will be soon."
"Assuredly My Lord," said Malfoy briskly. "Ollivander's team is already formulating a plan to infiltrate the ministry as soon as they put out a call to the wandmaker to come in and snap his wand. They need the wand maker who made the wand in order to do that with a well charmed wand like Severus has...It'll give them a chance to stake the place and find out where Severus is being held."
"He'll be miserable to lose his wand," said Tom, and then he looked at Lucius. "I must ask you this...Liang Wu...Severus...were they...?"
"No," said Lucius, smiling wryly. "Not Soul Mates, just lovers. That will be a hard loss on him though. I heard Liang Wu proposed...twice."
"Poor Severus," said Tom, covering his face with his hands. "He's never had a lover who has survived has he?"
Harry suddenly dropped all decorum and put his arms around Tom to hug him and cry.
"Harry Harry, its all right, we'll help him, I promise!" said the older man in alarm.
"Its all my fault, they we after me!"
"We don't know for sure...hush now. Why don't you tell me again where these tunnels of yours are? Then we can formulate our plan for getting into Hogwarts..."
More silence. They had both agreed that the Shrieking Shack route was too risky, with so many knowing about it now, including both Wormtail and members of the Order.
"So Honeydukes," said Harry in a whisper. "All we have to do is get into the school safely, then hopefully we can deactivate the wards on the Forest Border from the inside."
This will work, thought Harry firmly, as he and Tom traveled together under the cover of his invisibility cloak. Harry clutched Tom's hand in the darkness though, for all their careful preparation, and having the centaurs allied to them scout the school, he still wasn't sure that there wouldn't be any teachers there.
"They won't be there, they know the school is too easily compromised without Albus Dumbledore. McGonagall, though clever Headmistress, is not as magically powerful as he was."
But Harry still felt a sickly feeling of fear as they broke into Honeydukes and made their way to the cellar. There could be numerous traps laid out and hidden for them both, and he couldn't know it.
Silly, being afraid of my own school, thought Harry with a moan as they slowly moved down the dark tunnel with with their wand tips lighted. Hogwarts is my home, has been since I first set foot there.
Hush love...it'll be all right, Tom's thoughts came warm and comforting. I was counting on Severus to help us with the wards and the ghosts...
Let me talk to the ghosts, said Harry firmly. If anything they should be against Ministry hyjinx. We...won't tell them who you are just yet.
Think I can convince them I'm someone else for the time being?
Yes, was the answer Harry gave, smiling, and watching his lover's now quite handsome face scrunch up in consternation as he scrutinized the ascent up to the school.
Right up to Gryffindor tower. All these little stairs...the House elves must use these tunnels to do their shopping for the school goodies. Elves are not permitted to enter stores by the front door. Ministry regulations.
That would explain why the tunnels haven't been closed off in all the years I've been here. If they were being used by elves the elves would...
Open them again. Yes. All right. I think we're there.
Hogwarts seemed eerily quiet as they finally found themselves in Gryffindor tower. Tom looked around the hallways with a slight look of curiosity.
"Didn't come here often when I was in school..."
"If I knew the password we could visit the Gryffindor commons," said Harry.
"I'll tell you a secret," said Tom, with an impish grin. "During the holidays all house passwords reset to the name of the current Head of House."
Harry blinked, then grinned, and motioned for Tom to follow him to the portrait of the Fat Lady. She looked at Tom with some curiosity, but didn't seem to recognize him.
"Minerva McGonagall," said Harry, and she opened with a wink.
Oh but this was home. The smell of the wooden furniture everywhere, polished and tidy. The squashy comfortable couches where he had spent many days studying with his friends. His heart swelled.
"I can understand why Gryffindors are so proud of their house," said Tom as he went to examine a bookshelf populated with previous students second hand books. "It seems like this is a place where a student can really feel made welcome and cared for."
Harry nodded, feeling a prickle of tears, which he quickly wiped away.
"So, now what?"
"We'll sleep up here if you like, but I had something better in mind. Shall we go to the Headmaster's Office?"
Harry smiled painfully and they began the dissent down the ominously unmoving stairwells of Hogwarts towards the Headmaster's office.
"During the holidays everything is shut down. The only magic permitted here are the magical wards which are meant to keep us out. Only the Headmaster can take down the wards. Fortunately, becoming the new Headmaster is as easy as convincing only a few parts of the castle to obey you. And I think the castle will agree to you being in charge, don't you think Harry?"
Harry jerked, and turned to look at his lover in horror.
"People won't accept Tom Riddle, formerly Lord Voldemort, as the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and I doubt the castle will. But Harry Potter? I think so. I think you have so many allies in so many places. The few traitors who have made themselves your enemy are mistaken and they'll realize it quickly enough."
"But..." Harry swallowed. "Me, Headmaster of Hogwarts?"
"You did just say it was your home? The Headmaster lives in Hogwarts all year round, leaving only on school business or vacation. I can't think of anybody better to be Headmaster of the school. And I'd rather just teach Defence Against The Dark Arts, and concern myself with the politics of the Federation. Severus, well, I promised he'd teach the Dark Arts properly. We'll have both. What do you think?"
"Yes, I mean your right, but yes, it all sounds good. I do want to live here, and Headmaster, oh gosh, I dunno. I..."
"Its up to you Harry," said Tom with a sad smile. "Being Headmaster is no easy task. It involves paperwork, which I loath, an ability to be a leader to the staff and students, which you can be, and the ability to care for and protect the students. And you must be a strong dueler to boot if you want to protect Hogwarts. You have all of that. What do you think?"
"I think it would be an honor. But will the castle let me?"
Harry looked around at the stone walls and the portraits hanging there, sleeping in their magical slumber. The thought of living here, for as long as he lived...
"It will be easy for you to usurp McGonagall. You just need to ask permission to be the Headmaster from certain parts of the castle. First, the Headmaster portraits in the Headmaster's Office, the password of which will be the current Headmaster. Then the Ghosts of Hogwarts, and then the House Elves. Its really standard, have you ever read Hogwarts: A History?"
But Harry was barely listening. He was lost in the idea of being Headmaster. And whether or not he should; was McGonagall really his enemy, a Ministry patsy, or just confused?
"I think if McGonagall is your friend truly then she would forgive you for doing what you thought was right. But talking to the portraits in her office may give you the answers you lack."
Harry turned to look at his lover, who was smiling.
"I suggest you do not mention me when you speak to the portraits. But on every other matter be perfectly honest about everything you can be. They alone have the power to grant you the wards, or take them from you, and those are the most important. They can reverse their decision to support you as a Headmaster on a whim if they believe you've presented yourself falsely. All the portraits in the school are a part of the security system of Hogwarts, and act almost as a self contained Government that have their own final say over every aspect of the place. Which is why the Headmaster has to make them sleep during the summer when nobody is here, so that the only power being expended is on the ever vital wards. They also control the communications here. The ghosts do have some part of the communications network, but they are more in control of the physical castle, the moving stairs, the pipe systems and sewage and all that sort of magic which causes the castle to run, which is why, well, moaning Myrtle..."
"Yeah, lives in a toilet," Harry chuckled. "And the elves?"
"They control the supplies systems, cleaning and are also part of the security system here, but rather than the wards they act as a warning system to the Headmaster of all student activities. They also are capable of aparating anywhere on the school grounds, regardless of the fact that everybody else can't, and they can bring any staff member with them, mostly they'll transport the Headmaster. Getting them to accept you will be easy since house elves already worship you, or so Felby tells us. He doesn't however."
Harry nodded, feeling a bit sick.
"My own house elf hates me, so I know its the whole Boy Who Lived reputation they worship really."
"You only need their permission once and once you are Headmaster, they'll obey you as if you were their Master. Its the portraits that you need to keep on your side. The ghosts are under the whim of the Headmaster once they give consent, so you don't have to worry about keeping them happy, just getting their permission the first time might be a bit hard."
Tom patted Harry on the back, and they chatted for awhile on what Harry should talk to each group about, before Harry was gently pushed towards the spiral stairs leading to the Headmaster's office. Harry approached the stone gargoyle guarding the Headmaster's office.
"Minerva McGonagall," Harry said.
Nothing. The statue didn't move. Harry felt a welling of panic in his chest, and tried again.
"Uh, Albus Dumbledore?"
The stone statue started to grind its slow way open, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
I guess she was using Dumbledore's name to get in and out of the Headmaster's office. Then she isn't the actual Headmaster yet!
See, then you are needed here.
Harry smiled, and made his slow way up the stairs. It was weird coming into this place now, without anybody in here, all the candles unlit, Fawkes gone forever, and all the portraits sleeping, making very loud snoring noises.
Except one. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was smiling at Harry, painted moon blue eyes twinkling almost magically. Harry wondered about the realism of that.
"Ah Harry, to what do I owe the honor of your visit?"
"Um, a lot of things. Actually, are they all under the sleeping spell? I need to talk to all of them..."
"No, they're just pretending to sleep."
At once the snoring stopped and a flurry of whispered voices filled the room. It seemed there were so many portraits here that he couldn't look at them all.
"There've been so many Headmasters and Mistresses here," said Harry, forgetting only momentarily his goal here. "Is there even any room on the walls for them all?"
"Always room," said Albus with a knowing twinkle in his eyes. "The portraits can resize as needed as well. Some of the Headmasters are displayed in other parts of the school."
"Oh, then they should be here too..."
At once one of the other portraits went to go in search of those Headmasters. Curiosity and the buzzing of voices filled the room now and Harry did nothing to silence them. He was staring at Dumbledore still. So real, yet only an imitation of a once vibrant man full of life. He wondered how much of Albus Dumbledore's real memory was locked into that portrait.
"All right we're all here," said another portrait as the Headmasters of Hogwarts all crowded around inside their various frames to get a view of him.
"All right Harry," said Albus. "We're waiting."
"I am here, as you might have already guessed, to ask your permission to be...the next Headmaster of Hogwarts. Successor to...Albus Dumbledore?"
A shock of chorused outrage and confusion filled the room, until one of the portraits hissed for quiet.
"Yes thats right," said Dilys Derwent's portrait. "Minerva McGonagall was a temporary placement, she didn't feel ready for such a position yet, though we all thought she was right for the job..."
"Until we learned where her true allegiances lie," said Phineas Nigellus Black haughtily.
"The Ministry of Magic," said Harry dismally.
"Ah you know Harry," said Albus Dumbledore. "So then what are your intentions for being Headmaster? I'm confused, and rightly so."
"You seem rather...young to want the job," said Dilys Derwent kindly.
"Or do a good job," commented Phineas Black roughly.
"On the contrary, I think Harry Potter would do a good job, he would relate well to the students, but his age..." said Armando Dippet nervously.
"Well sirs," said Harry Potter. "And, uh, madams," the female portraits smiled approvingly. "I know I would be the youngest Headmaster in all of Hogwarts history. But I think there is a need for a Headmaster here who understands that the days of the Ministry of Magic are coming to an end and a new form of education may be needed than what we've previously had. The Ministry has become more corrupt than the forces they think they are fighting."
"They're...trying to kill me...because they think I'm Lord Voldemort."
The portraits all went silent. Harry pulled up his bangs for them to see the blank space where his scar would be.
"I destroyed that connection to him," said Harry. "And his horcruxes."
He then told them a modified story of how he infiltrated the Dark Revel, and how he confronted Lord Voldemort.
"And did you defeat him?" said Albus Dumbledore, a mysterious and knowing look in the old man's eyes.
"Well, in a fashion," said Harry, going as close to the truth as he felt comfortable going. "The evil of Lord Voldemort is no more. The...spirit still lives."
"But the Ministry thinks he's still alive in you," said Albus sadly. "Stubborn...foolish..."
"Yeah, and the Order, some of the Order, have been convinced of it too. They've tried to kill me three times now..." said Harry, frowning. "The Ministry can't be trusted anymore. They're breaking their own laws, arresting innocent people...The whole system needs to go."
"Well Harry, who did you think would be a good replacement for the Ministry?" asked Albus Dumbledore. "Since you've just asked for the Headmaster's position I'm guessing you do not want the job of politician."
"No," said Harry. "I was thinking, as many others have, that the United Federation of Dark Arts Practitioners might fill the niche."
A gasp of understanding and recognition from each portrait followed this.
"There's a bill in the works right now that will grant equality to all wizards and witches regardless of age, sex, magical blood heritage, race, religion, sexual orientation, or magical arts. It just need to go to the Federation council now for a vote."
A buzz of delight and gossip filled the room. Albus Dumbledore chuckled.
"Whoever could possibly have introduced such a...controversial...bill to such a traditionally pure-blooded organization?"
"One Harry James Potter," said Harry, with a sigh. "I'm now a member of the Federation."
Silence. And then laughter from some of the portraits. Albus Dumbledore seemed dumbfounded and a bit dismayed. Harry was confused.
"Some of us were members of the Federation in our life," said Amando Dippet with a nod of the head. "So don't be afraid that we all will disapprove."
"Certainly not," said Phineas Black with a grin. "But to introduce the idea of equality, that will certainly turn some heads. Not since since Liang Wu took control over the entire Asian magical population, just so that could make democracy the standard, have I seen such political boldness..."
Harry swallowed, feeling his chest restrict in pain.
"Liang Wu is dead," said Harry, and gasps filled the room. "The Ministry of magic attacked the Federation last night trying to get to me. They set the tents on fire in order to drive us towards their waiting aurors. S...Severus Snape was the only person they managed to capture."
"No!" said Albus Dumbledore. "Oh no no no..."
This information, that Severus Snape was captured, seem more alarming to Dumbledore than the fact that Harry Potter had joined the Federation.
"I'm sorry...we think they might be torturing him now for information...we're doing our very best to try and get him out."
And the portrait Dumbledore broke down before Harry's eyes, crying and trying very hard to cover it up as two other Headmasters came to his side to comfort and support him. Harry lowered his head a bit, feeling his own eyes dampen, and shook his head. The news that his lover was in prison now seemed to be an unexpected shock to the portrait, and Harry couldn't bare to see his former Headmaster in such a state.
"Six other Federation members died last night in the fighting. My plan, and its a difficult plan, is to use Hogwarts, forgive me Headmasters, as a place for all the families the Federation protects to live until this whole conflict can be resolved and the world is a safe place again for all of us. Or at least, as safe as it can be with guys like Wormtail turning traitor to whoever its convenient to do so."
"Wormtail?" said Dilys Derwent. "You mean that Pettigrew fellow?"
"Peter Pettigrew was the one who shared the secret keeper letter with the Ministry, allowing them to send spies into the Revel and eventually attack. He poisoned most of our food and we had to grow our own."
"The Harvest Spell," said Amando Dippet. "Impressive. Please continue."
Harry chuckled and talked a bit more freely about how he had decided to join the Federation because he thought it would be a good replacement for the Ministry, but only after studying their constitution and deciding he wanted to add more laws to it himself. He even pulled out the bill in question to read it to them, and took their suggestions as to what could be added.
"Its an impressive piece of writing I'll admit. I doubt even Miss Granger could find a flaw in it," said Dumbledore now, regaining his composure. "I think I'm convinced that even the Federation would accept it with the right people on the council. But now, to the matter of Headmaster..."
"I think he will do the job," said Dippet. "He shows maturity beyond his age. And a knack for knowing whats going on in the world outside the school. That's important."
"And he's not one to sit idly by and let the world happen without his own say," Phineas Black said firmly, looking pointedly at Dippet, who turned his head in display. "Clearly he wants to use the Headmastery the way we all have done in the past, as a seat of community leadership, not just as a job teaching magic to a bunch of kids."
"He's young, but he'll grow into the job nicely I think," said Dilys Derwent happily. "And be a friend to the students."
"I don't think he should take the job," said another portrait. "But I have a feeling I'll be outnumbered."
All the others glared at the dissenting portrait, who raised his hands up in frustration.
"All right, I suppose time will tell us if he can keep the job. Remember Harry Potter, we can take you out of your position if the majority of us ever decide to do so."
Harry nodded. "I understand."
"Is there anything else you haven't told us yet that we need to know?"
"Yes, but, nothing that relates to the job," Harry said. "Just, personal things that I'll get around to sharing with you eventually. I've already told you so much right now. And I have a few Secret Keeper spells acting on me so I know I can trust you to not tell the ministry. I already have put a lot of trust in telling you my plan to use Hogwarts for the Federation when I really really do want you to trust me."
"You were honest with us, even with the threat of us turning down your offer," said Phineas Black, straightening in his portrait frame. "The portraits are bound to the protection of Hogwarts, its students, and its allies and no others. A truthful honest man like yourself, with all that you hope to accomplish, is surely an ally to Hogwarts."
"Good, because some Federation members that might end up living here are Death Eaters," said Harry, raising an eyebrow. "We'll need everybody who is in the Federation involved with the takeover if we want it to work. We can't exclude people just because we share a different personal ideology. Making a government that can function and have positive impact on all its citizens means we need everyone to cooperate and compromise. The same goes for a school; I can't just choose students whose parents I like and agree with, I'll have to give them all their chance and be able to communicate with their parents."
"Well said Harry," said Albus. "We understand and accept your explanation. Do keep us informed if you plan to, say, smuggle in dementors or red caps into the school."
Harry laughed, and nodded, and the Headmasters all took their vote. At once Harry could feel his chest starting to tingle as a very deep, very ancient form of magic filled him and examined him, poked him looking for flaws and finally selected him, and frighteningly, bound him to his task.
"Harry Potter, you have now been chosen by the Portraits of Hogwarts to be Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," said the portrait of Everard, who had, up until that moment, not spoken a word. "Go forth now and retrieve the other two magical signatures needed to have full access to the entire castle and its magic."
Harry nodded, and bowed to the portraits.
"Thank you Sirs and Madams. I am honored and hope to do the best job I can do."
Tom was sitting in an alcove outside near the hidden stairwell when Harry finally descended, a look of solemnity and joy on his face.
"I can't believe this is happening, I'm now the Headmaster of Hogwarts."
"Slow down Harry," said Tom, springing to his feet and coming over. "You still need to talk to the Ghosts and the Elves I'm afraid. Lets tackle the Ghosts first, since they'll be the more difficult. Did you tell the portraits of me?"
"Nothing, but I don't know how long I can keep you a secret. They do understand that the spirit of...Lord Voldemort lives on. I didn't tell them in what form. You DO look different you know. I doubt even Albus would recognize you now."
Tom chuckled and kissed Harry, surprising him.
"They'll have to accept me eventually. Although, I like the idea of changing my name. How about, Tomas Augustus Horatio Ignatius Rothchilde Totting the Third, Order of Merlin, First Class, Dark Arts Professor of Hogwarts and Federation Council member for England?"
Harry stared, then burst out laughing.
"Lets just call you Mister Tomas or something and leave the honorifics to people like Lockhart thanks."
They were still smiling and laughing when they entered the Great Hall. Then Harry was silenced completely.
"What in the world...?"
"Ah yes, more proof of Ministry of Magic's callous disregard for others," said Tom, striding down the rows of tables. "They like to keep the ghosts all in the same room when Hogwarts is closed, for easier management."
Harry stared. The ghosts of Hogwarts were all in this room, all of them, including Myrtle, all sitting at the tables with bored looks on their faces, like students in study hall. They barely looked at Tom, who had removed his gaudy green robes before coming here, who must have seemed extraordinarily ordinary in plain robes and tattered shoes. Harry would have teased the man, but the man's battered clothes meant that their attention was more drawn to the familiar face of Harry, and that ghosts and portraits would be less likely to recognize the former Dark Lord for who he was.
"Harry Potter," said Nealy Headless Nick as Harry approached him. "You are a sight for a sore spirit. Come to stay the summer have you? That would mean we might be able to um..."
"Yes, be able to leave the Great Hall. But I hope to stay longer than summer," said Harry, and he went up to the front of the room. Tom stayed back, waiting for Harry to speak.
"I know a lot of you remember me and know me as the young boy Harry Potter who first entered this room eight years ago, ready to start Hogwarts fresh and new. Of course I'm not a child anymore, though I very much still may look like it to the people in this room. Many of you here have been here since the founding," he turned to look at the Gray Lady, who nodded her head from Ravenclaw's table. "I must seem very young, and what I must ask now will be alarming, but in such strange times, and the many strange times you have all witnessed, I think maybe nothing could alarm you anymore."
A murmer from the portraits, who were quite confused and excited.
"I am here to ask you, the Ghosts of Hogwarts, formerly, for your permission to take the currently vacant position of Headmaster of Hogwarts."
A great silence of shock, followed by loud argument filled the room. Just like the portraits. But instead these ghosts were railing against the magical chains they wanted to be free of, angry by their inability to leave the room in anger. Their frustration was quite apparent to Harry.
"Before you decide, of course, I must be honest and tell you that the portraits of Hogwarts have already given their vote, and I only need their permission to be Headmaster, but to be Headmaster without the support of the ghosts would be worthless surely. Your support is most needed. It is also vital if Hogwarts is to function to its fullest capacity."
"Most specifically, because you need the magical signature we have the power to give you," said The Bloody Baron with a huff.
"Well that too," said Harry, scratching his nose. "I could have gone to the House Elves first, they would be the easiest to convince, and then what would you have been able to do or say against it? But I respect the ghosts of Hogwarts. I respect what power you have, who you are, what you have seen, and I will depend upon your council just as much as I will depend upon the portraits and elves. If the portraits are the Head of Hogwarts, and the House Elves are the Hands, then the ghosts must be the Heart of Hogwarts. Portraits are just memories trapped in canvas, but you are real people, you really lived and existed and attended this school. You bring this school to life."
That last word was chosen with such care that there could be no doubt the flattery and delight of the ghosts. To be compared to living people, to be held in their esteem, and to be considered vital...
"You seem to understand our importance," said the Gray Lady with a smile. "You seem to understand how this all works. And I have no doubt you have the intellect to lead."
"And the courage surely," said Sir Nick.
"And the friendship to care for the students and their needs," said the Fat Friar brightly.
"And the adaptability to handle any situation," the Bloody Baron added surely. "Well then, the four of us seem to agree. How about the others?"
A thunder of applause from all the ghosts rose in a great shivering of silver hands, and cheers. At once Harry could feel a magical signature to match the Portraits in power and strength filling him and he smiled.
Three down and one more to go...I hope the elves will be as amiable as Tom suggests.
Darkness. Pain. A world of bruises and broken bones that he couldn't heal. His hands were tied by magic, he could not get to his wand.
But thankfully neither can they, thought Severus Snape ruefully. Not only can they not break it without Ollivander, they can't even remove it from my person.
He shifted on the cot, knowing fully well that he only had a few more hours of rest before the torment resumed. He would not give them what they wanted, his wand, and could not give them what they really needed, his knowledge of the Federation plans.
That secret keeper spell was smarter than I thought, Severus decided, wincing as his broken ribs started to throb again. I think I'm going to like the way Harry Potter and The Dark Lord manage things.
If he ever survived to see them fulfill all their plans.
They might decide to execute me in order to gain favor with people. Too many of the old families support the Federation in secret. That is the Ministry's disadvantage. They rule only by the faltering, confusing system in which they were elected by people who didn't understand how any of it worked. The Federation memers themselves designed the political system the Federation runs by, democracy has always been a product of the people, and so they understand how it works. I wonder if the Ministry understands this?
Suddenly the door to his cell opened and a few men shuffled into the room. Two aurors including Kingsley Shacklebolt, and the Minister of Magic, who was escorting someone recognizable. Someone with silver hair and eyes that were like the moon...
Ollivander! He's here!
"Severus Snape," said Rufus Scrimgour sourly. "Ollivander has come here to snap your wand. It is no longer a matter of our ability to snap it, it is a matter of your willingness to turn it over. If you do, we agree to end the interrogations and transfer you to St Mungos for medical care. Do you assent?"
Severus blinked several times, which was hard with one eye swollen shut, and turned to look at Ollivander, who approached the bed.
"Gentleman, easy now, a wand is not an easy thing to replace or to be rid of. It bonds to its owner and to willingly turn it over to be destroyed, ah, it is a heart rending and difficult decision he has to make."
The Minsitry officials stepped back, and Ollivander stood down to his knees.. Ancient eyes were looking intently at Severus, strange moon-like eyes that he knew came from the old man's partial vampiric heritage, which was what had prolonged the man's life for so long. Severus swallowed.
Those deep and fathomless eyes were asking for trust and understanding, and promising freedom, someway, somehow, to his plight. And friendship that Severus had not expected in the least from the man he had been fighting with for almost two weeks now over wands.
"My...wand..." Severus said, feeling the ache and pain at the idea of its destruction.
It was very real this pain. He had never known just how deep a connection to a wand could be. In all these years that he had insisted upon giving any wand to any student, he hadn't realized how deep a bond could be formed with the right wand.
The right wand.
"When I gave you that wand, so many years ago, I told you that it was the wrong one for you," Ollivander said gently. "Yes it worked in your hands, but I told you, bad luck, pain, destruction, were all that could result from such a wand, you did not believe me. Now do you?"
Severus fumbled for his wand and Ollivander reached for it with a single hand. His other hand, however, unseen by the Ministry Officials, was setting something else down in front of Snape on the bed. Something invisible.
Something long and thin. A wand.
"Take it," said Snape, once the wands had transferred owners. "If this was the sort of bad luck you meant, then I am grateful to be rid of the blasted thing."
Tears of pain and rage and hurt fell as the old man took the wand from him. The unspoken message here was that wand had influenced him and his actions as much as it had been influenced by him. That the wand was cursed. It had to have been.
Albus...Wu...all my lovers have died. Is it because of that wand? That little piece of wood couldn't possibly have done all that! Why would he have offered the wand to me if that were true?
Ollivander turned to nod at the men.
"I will destroy it here only if you give me no other choice. It is not something he needs to see."
"What kind of wand is it?" asked one of the Aurors, barely looking up as he jotted notes down onto a piece of parchment.
"Cherry and...Unicorn bone," said Ollivander, a strange sad look coming over his face. "I shown have known the material was cursed when I purchased it, but I had never in all my years worked with anything but a unicorn's hair. Other wand makers laugh at me, at my unwillingness to use unicorn body materials for wands when I've purchased dragon hearts and other items for years...but to kill a unicorn does cause a curse on the killer, I suppose its only too true that bad luck might follow any who try to take such a wand upon themselves. I put the wand into the low quality bin that the poorer students can select their wands from for free, thinking perhaps that nobody would be able to pair with such a horrid wand. But then Snape...chose it. I tried to tell him it was cursed, but I was afraid to admit I had purchased such a horrid thing as unicorn bone. I didn't want the bad luck to be passed off to the boy, and perhaps not knowing what it really want, the young Snape would be able to make use of the wand unaffected. But I should have known, this wand has done such horrible things in the man's care..."
"It is the choices of wizards and not the core of their wands that makes them good or evil," said Rufus Scrimgeour sourly. "But if you think this wand is such bad luck, maybe you'll snap it for us here and now and thus end its horrible 'reign of terror'."
The Aurors snickers, but Severus was only staring in horror at his former wand and at Ollivander, whose eyes were damp and apologetic.
All these years, a unicorn bone, I've been carrying a cursed wand! He knew, warned me...but I didn't listen. It probably IS responsible for all the horrible luck I've had over the years! If he'd only told me the material, I might not have wanted it so badly...but...he was curious! CURIOUS about what the wand would do!
Severus felt terribly betrayed and angry all at once, but also a deep hurt he hadn't expected filled him and he covered his face with his hands.
A horrifying, sickening SNAP suddenly filled the room, and some great magical hand that had been grasping him around his heart suddenly let go. He felt as if he were being carried off on a wild river, unable to swim, unable to save himself from drowning in the pain that followed the destruction of his cursed wand. And at the same time he was glad to be rid of it, nothing but pain, horrible pain, had come of owning it!
"So be it," said Scrimgour with a slightly smiling look in his eyes. "But for security purposes, we would like to know what sort of wand you think he might easily adapt to the use of most, so that we can avoid putting Aurors with those sort of wands around him as guards at St Mungos."
Ollivander, when he spoke, was strangely light hearted in his response.
"Severus Snape would not be compatible with most core materials you can find readily in a wand," he said with a laugh. "Despite his insistence for many years that any old wand could work. From my experience only the more rare and hostile forms of creatures seem to work well with him. Of these, a unicorn horn or hair are both too specific to charms and not up his alley. Dragon has too much of a temper and phoenix feather is difficult to match up to anybody with any sort of potions skill, let alone anyone as interested in potions as Severus Snape. A vampire fang, on the other hand, has to be donated willingly by the vampire who sheds it, is rare in that is bonds instantly to the owner it chooses, not needing years of practice to form the full magical bond that most wands do, and from what I understand has magical properties that most wand makers are still discovering, and many unknown to this very day. That is the sort of wand I would give him. If he were to ever be permitted a wand again."
The Aurors all rolled their eyes at this lengthy explanation of a wand to match a Death Eater, Scrimgeour said something like, "Should have known, he looks like a vampire even," and they all turned to leave the cell. But before Ollivander left with them, he turned to look at Severus pointedly, so that the Aurors would not see, and smiled a full smile. Before the man turned to leave, Severus noticed a gap between two of his teeth there the canine tooth should have been.
Sweet Merlin, thought Severus, and as soon as the door to his cell closed he grabbed the invisible wand from his cot and slipped it into his shirt, feeling immensely grateful to the old wand maker for the first time in ages. I thought I would never forgive him, but suddenly I do, and I'm not afraid anymore. I know, he's going to be back, and they'll all help me escape. And I'll have a wand now when it happens.
And he curled up happily on the cot to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the rescue would be soon, Ollivander would not let him down.
Not after giving Severus a piece of his very own self.
Harry poked his head into the Hogwarts kitchens, confused at the silence he found there.
"Its night, the elves might be sleeping," said Tom pointedly. "Their quarters are down the landing there. I've been here before. During their holidays they tend to sleep...and mate."
Harry peered down the rows of the Hogwarts kitchens, and then he finally found the opening to the House Elves personal living quarters. He had to get down to elf height to enter it and he did indeed find wall to wall bunks with elves all sleeping. He felt loath to wake them. And deciding not to returned to the kitchen.
"This is their vacation," said Harry. "We can wait until morning, we have the wards now so we can let people in. I'll approach the elves in the morning before breakfast so they can know that they'll have company."
"Which means we need to return to the forest and bring the others in. Are you sure Harry? Having the elves' signature before we bring them in will be..."
But they weren't given a choice, for Harry turned his head and noticed that they had been joined by three sleepy looking elves who had overheard them talking.
"Harry Potter sir!" said a dreamy eyed Winky. "Dobby is sleeping sir, Winky will wake him sir and you can talk!"
"We need to talk to all of you but if everyone is sleeping..."
Too late. The three elves snapped out of existence and soon with much snapping and popping many elves filled the room, all of them sleepy eyed but awed at seeing Harry Potter standing there amongst them.
Harry had never seen house elf children before. The tiny elves were naked and holding onto their mother's hands looking confused. One female elf had a baby in her arms she was...uh...breastfeeding. Harry blushed.
"I'm so sorry, we didn't mean to wake you. I wanted to talk to all the Hogwarts house elves."
"That's us that's us!" said one elf, jumping up and down. "How can we serves Harry Potter?"
"Where's Dobby and Winky?" complained another. "Friends of Harry Potter should be here for Harry Potter
"Sleeping, Winky's Dobby is sleeping," said another elf, who had said it in such a suggestive manner that it was quite obvious indeed why Dobby would be so tired that he hadn't come in yet.
Harry BLUSHED. Soon the tired elf had arrived, and bowed low to Harry Potter, ears hitting the floor.
"We are honored Harry Potter sir, to have you here sir."
Harry sighed. The looks of adoration they were all giving him were unanimous and delighted. He didn't need to worry about them.
"I've come here, House Elves of Hogwarts, to ask your permission to become Headmaster of Hogwarts," he said, and bowed low to them all.
It wasn't any surprise to him or Tom when they all clapped their hands, squeaking in happiness and joy and giving him their approval, emotionally and magically, without argument. They were cheering for Harry Potter, the 'Boy Who Lived', 'Headmaster of Hogwarts', and 'friend to all House Elves'.
Harry gave Tom a look that said don't say a bloody word. But there was no mistaking the laughter in Tom's sparkling green eyes.
It took ten minutes to calm down the elves enough in order to explain to them that there would be company coming, then they were unceremoniously shuffled out of the kitchen so that the elves could fulfill their duties without any question.
"I hate for them to have to end their vacation like this. But there don't seem to be any summer squibs employed here right now and I don't know what we would do without the elves. Clean ourselves I guess. But then people would have trouble with the idea, I'm sure..."
"Nobody can really rest when the Ministry of Magic is in power anyways," said Tom with a snarl. "Lets go open the forest side wards and let the others in. I think by now we'll have discovered some information that may help us rescue Severus, and we'll need to elect our new Head of Council."
"Do you think it will be you?" said Harry tentatively.
"Me, or Grindelwald. He's adept at keeping the hardliners in control, and his time in Nuremgard has humbled him. I think he'd do a good job."
"Sure," said Harry, and it was his turn to laugh. "You only want to avoid anymore paperwork."
And their joint laughter carried down the hallways where they walked, waking the portraits from their magical slumber. Soon the ghosts would be roaming the halls, the portraits would be whispering, and the school would be filled with people, young and old alike, and their twin laughter would be multiplied sevenfold.
Soon Hogwarts would come to life again, just as Harry remembered it.
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
"I have decided to change my name," Lord Voldemort announced to his stunned Death Eaters. "Going by my original title would put Harry Potter at risk of losing Hogwarts. The Portraits would never support my presence there, or Harry Potter's presence once they learn we are allies. So one of us had to change. Me."
The Death Eaters were all sitting out on the Quidditch pitch, being the only ones yet allowed onto the premises of Hogwarts. Harry was currently in the castle, talking to all the portraits about the various functions of the castle and learning about how to use the wards. Tom had pointedly left him to meet up with his Death Eaters and now he was briefing them on the situation at hand. The Dark Lord watched his stunned followers for a few breaths for a moment, and then smiled.
"I have decided to go by the name of Tomas Prince, distant relative of Severus Snape, which I'm sure he will approve once he is here again with us. As far as the story goes, I will be 'taking over leadership of the Death Eaters' at the order of the Federation Council, so to speak.'
Some of the Death Eaters looked confused, but Bellatrix rose.
"Let me be the first to formally congratulate you, my Lord Prince, on your successful rise to leadership. And furthermore I volunteer to make sure this information reaches everyone who requires it."
"I thank you, Bellatrix, and am grateful. Now, to business. The securing of Hogwarts grounds."
Soon the castle would be filling with Federation Members and their families, once Bellatrix informed them of the 'new' Lord of the Death Eaters, and the change in ownership of Hogwarts to Harry Potter. But Lord Prince, as he would soon be known, had more important things to take care of.
Such as getting his son out of Ministry custody post-haste.
Harry soon found himself inundated with numerous requests from Federation members for use of Hogwarts for various functions and purposes. Harry found himself practically trapped in the Headmaster's office talking to large numbers of people waving pieces of paper in his face.
Boy am I in way over my head!
Agreeing to having Quidditch matches would have been normal at any other time, but he had to strike down that request.
"We want to keep the Ministry from knowing we're here as long as we can so flying brooms all over the grounds is off. In fact no brooms should land or take-off anywhere within the grounds or near the school."
Dumbledore seemed to approve most of Harry's decisions, and helped give him advice between groups of people who approached his office with paperwork for him to read and sign.
"A dance would be a good idea for the young people, but lets wait until the previous Revel itinerary can be modified to suit our new situation. Right now half the Federation wants to use the Great Hall for meetings and fundraisers. I doubt its the most secure meeting place however..."
A lot of arguments ensued, mostly over housing.
"I want the young people in Gryffindor for a very good reason," said Harry, rubbing his head. "The Portraits tell me that Gryffindor is the most secure house, being the farthest from the ground. It has its own escape tunnels, the only other house with an escape tunnel is Slytherin, and that tunnel has since been flooded out."
"What if there's an air attack, Gryffindor is most vulnerable!" said one man. "Families should stick together!"
"Then you'd better hope that our flyers are adept enough to defend it. But all nations are using Slytherin as the barracks for unmarried soldiers and security enforcement. The council members and their spouses are in Ravenclaw. And everyone else in the Federation is Hufflepuff. So the young people ages eleven to seventeen should be in Gryffindor. Space is tight enough as it is, we have a third of the wizarding world here and Hogwarts wasn't built to fit them all, so no arguments! If you think about it this makes sense, Slytherin House has access to every part of the castle so it controls the security, Ravenclaw has routes connecting it to the staff residences and my own office...and Hufflepuff is close to the Great Hall so the majority won't have to take half the staircases in Hogwarts to get a bite to eat. Gryffindor is actually the second largest dormitory after Hufflepuff so the large numbers of young people at the Revel can fit there easily."
As soon as he dealt with one issue, another one came up.
"You're still members of the Federation, you still have to follow the Constitution, so no, I will not order my elves to handle your belongings, you already own two of your own house elves Nott so you can't complain. Oh," somebody handed him a piece of paper that he read. "Oh thats good. Tell them the elves are waiting for the Harvest supplies in the kitchens and to bring them down right away. We'll be having dinner in the Great Hall shortly, I've told the elves to keep their eyes out for further poison attempts. We now have Hogwarts Greenhouses and chickens at our disposal for now, so we have plenty of supplies."
After what seemed like hours he finally was alone in his office, save for Bellatrix Lestrange, who was giving him a security report.
"I'm not sure about our new leader," she said impishly, looking at Harry pointedly and ignoring the portraits...pointedly. "His head is in the right place but he's so worried about his...cousin...that he's overlooking many obvious problems in our security. Namely the floo and the closeness of Hogsmeade. We need Severus to be freed immediately."
"We'll help Severus as soon as we know when they'll be moving him to Saint Mungo's. I doubt Tomas will be at peace until he's free. Ollivander said the move could already have happened. We've got Wu's soldiers staking out the hospital right now."
"They're still sore over the loss of their beloved leader."
"Liang Wu ruled Wizarding China like Albus Dumbledore ruled Hogwarts, with love and devotion," said Dilys Derwent's portrait with a soft sniff. "Many will miss him."
Harry nodded, and then dismissed Bellatrix, who nodded her head at him with a quirky smile.
"Harry," said Albus Dumbledore suddenly. "I'm not sure I ever recall Severus mentioning his cousin. What is he like?"
"Bad temptered, handsome and likely to break my heart any day now," said Harry, and he amusedly explained basically his Soul Mate bond to Tomas Prince without having to reveal who Tomas Prince really was. "I trust him with my life."
"Do you think that Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters will rebel against him?" said Phineas Nigellus with a nervous gesture. "It seems odd that they'd trust this newcomer that the Federation appointed for them, rather than somebody they would themselves elect."
"I agree. This is probably why Wormtail defected. Tomas Prince isn't able to terrify his followers the way Lord Voldemort had...he's got the political mind and the magical skills to be a leader, but he's too human."
Albus Dumbledore made a muffled sound of startlement, as if he had read the hidden meaning behind the comment. But the man in question soon slipped into the room and so Harry had to leave off talking to Dumbledore privately about it until later.
"Hi," said Harry, watching as Tom circled the office, looking at the various magical 'Headmaster's' objects in here that Harry had yet to figure out the functions of himself. The pensieve was the only one he had been able to recognize. "You've been hiding from me haven't you?"
"Too busy," said Tom, picking up one gizmo to examine. "Ollivander's party reports that Severus is now on the move. They've gone to intercept."
"They don't understand yet, and they don't trust you," said Harry.
This was all part of a carefully planned out script, meant to keep the portraits from realizing that Tom was Lord Voldemort. It might have been easier just telling them the truth, but Harry didn't dare. He needed the world to believe Voldemort was dead if he was ever to help bring an end to this war.
"They'll learn to trust me. He did. I just believe so strongly in what the Federation stands for, it seems like I'm a Federation patsy. And I was educated overseas," more lies. But Tomas told them so skillfully he sounded as if he were telling the truth. "And I'm a lot softer on muggle rights than my predecessor."
Harry grinned, and then Tom leaned over Harry's desk to kiss him fully.
"You need to keep people from walking over you," said the man pointedly. "You're exhausted. I can feel it in our bond. This is your school now. Don't let them bring you down."
"That's what I said," Albus Dumbledore said promptly.
"This is going to be harder than I thought," Harry admitted. "But I'm keeping Snape's educational bill in mind when I make decisions. This is still a school, and the official school functions will not be compromised too greatly for Federation reasons. The Federation is here temporarily, but the school itself is permanent."
Tom smiled widely and nodded.
"You sound like a Headmaster anyways. You've got Pansy Parkinson's spell on you haven't you?"
"You can tell?" said Harry sheepishly, turning bright red. "She told me it was a sharp tongue spell, meant for insults. I think she should rename it to 'always have an answer' spell. I can say words with this spell now that I never knew existed, with eloquence I don't normally have."
"Ah, I was wondering," said Dumbledore pointedly. "You do seem to be using vocabulary I've never heard you use before."
"Just don't use it all the time, you need to learn how to speak for youself," said Tom pointedly. "And I like how you mess up your words when you're nervous and flustered. Its cute."
Harry said nothing, and Tom stretched sexily for him, causing Harry to cough. The man was showing off his body to Harry, and the portraits were watching him.
"Not in front of the portraits please," said Phineas Nigellus uncomfortably, as if he had read Harry's mind.
"Ah, its just as well," said Tom with a chuckle. "Now, I have to go convince Prescott that its for the best he take the seat permanently, despite his loathing for politics, I have to contact Liang Wu's brother to give him my condolences and help plan for the funeral, not to mention the other people who lost family members last night. And I have to do all this while still trying to keep Hogwarts secure. WHY oh WHY did they vote me in as the council leader?"
"Probably because you're in charge of our collective asses already thanks to the Secret Keeper spell," said Harry with a smirk. "That, and I think Grindelwald hates paperwork just as much as you do."
Tom moaned then kissed Harry one more time before he left. Once he was gone Harry leaned back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair.
"My my my Mister Potter," said Dilys Derwent with an impish look. "Your lover is quite a handsome and bright follow. Wherever did you find him?"
Harry turned to look at the portrait of Dumbledore, whose eyes were sad, but forgiving.
"He's a good man with far to many shifty friends for my liking. But what can you do? I met him, we've fallen, and there's no going back."
Dumbledore blinked, then smiled, and then he laughed.
"Just don't let go of him too soon, Harry. He seems to think very highly of you."
And then Dumbledore settled into humming in his own way, and Harry had the sneaking suspicion that the portrait knew who Tom Prince was.
And now lets hope Dumbledore understands. Tom was always there with me. He'll never leave me now.
Severus hissed as he hit the bed, his injuries having already been exacerbated by the rough treatment of the Aurors during the trip. They had been chased by Death Eaters for a time but had finally arrived at St Mungo's, much to Severus' dissappointment. He hoped that his fellows would try another escape attempt.
Meanwhile, he had been rid of his clothes, which were in a pile near his bed, (with his invisible wand) and he was being cleaned and prepped for surgery.
"Lets deal with these injuries soon so we can go back to questioning him," said Mad-Eye Moody loudly.
"You want to heal him so you can injure him again?" said the Healer pointedly.
He was a young asian man, he couldn't have been a Healer for very long, and he was quite angry at the Ministry men in his operating room. A loud argument ensued and Severus tried to break his bonds.
"Get out! Let me work!" the Healer finally yelled, and soon the two of them were left alone.
"They're wrong you know," said Severus to the man. "They've been torturing me for days now, I don't know what they want and I can't give them what they need. Its hopeless, they know it. They're doing this for fun."
The Healer frowned. He WAS young. No more than twenty.
This is your chance, Severus, to prove that you are the best damn recruiter in the business. That you've been right all these years. If you can't wrap this young man around your fingers enough to escape than you aren't worth your Dark Mark!
"Please let me go. Help me escape. I'm not an enemy of the people. I'm not what they say I am."
"I don't know what to think of you Death Eater. But I obey the law."
"Even when the lawmakers make up rules at random to suit their purposes?" Severus hissed. "Torture isn't in the constitution. But they're doing it. They used the Killing Curse a few days ago to kill people. They attacked teenagers. They are not practicing what they preach. The Federation opposes non-democratic leadership like theirs and that is why we fight them."
The Healer became suddenly confused.
"You're a member of the Federation?" he asked, strangely, curiously.
"Yes," said Severus, feeling the ball finally in his court. "Are you?"
"I...I'm not. But my sister went to that Revel. Cho Chang. Is she all right?"
"When the Ministry attacked us she was injured in the process, but she's well now. Her boyfriend lost both his eyes."
It was a small lie. It was the Order that had injured her, not the Ministry, but Severus no longer saw any reason to consider them separate entities, not with McGonagall in charge of the Order. The Healer swallowed.
"I don't know...that Moody, he can see through walls. I want to help, but..."
"He can't see through everything. He can't see through people. I can get out of here, but you have to unbind me."
"I'll even pretend to pass out," Severus moaned. "Then it'll look like you're trying to revive me. And I'll knock you out. Then you'll be absolved of helping me."
The Healer took two steps back. Then nodded, and moved forward. Severus pretended to jerk and struggle, then pass out. It all depended upon the Healer now. The man bent over Severus while he loosened his bonds to whisper into his ear.
"Tell my sister Cho I love her and I hope she made the right choice."
Severus nodded, then as soon as his bonds were free he did exactly as planned, knowing enough wandless magic to paralyze the man.
"I'm sorry," Severus said, grabbing his clothes and finding his wand, which hummed and bonded with him the instant he touched it. Thank you Ollivander!
The Aurors entered the room just as Severus was finished being dressed. The duel was short, with only two Aurors and Moody he had them dealt with quickly. He pulled Moody's eye out of his head and pocketed it.
"You won't be needing that anymore," said Severus pointedly. "I know one poor youth who does, no thanks to you goons."
Moody growled out a string of curses and Severus silencio'd him pointedly.
"Well gentleman, lets see if you've secured this place well enough to keep me inside."
And then he pointed his new wand at the window across the room and blasted a man sized hole where it had been. At once two Death Eaters in their masks were at the window on their brooms to give him a lift.
"I guess not," Severus said with a chuckle.
~ffdotnet has been messing with my formatting, and I'm mad. If anything doesn't look right, line breaks, etc, just let me know in a PM and I'll fix it. I think I got everything though.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
~And we're in the final stretch! I'd love to write this story forever but that would mean neglecting others, and I think this one is just about wrapping up. Just a few more chapters. Maybe even less than that. Onto the fic!
Harry Potter stood in the infirmary, watching the unconscious Snape from a distance, an expression of solemn concern on his face as Madam Pomfrey examined him. It had taken a promise of protection from the Ministry for her family and grandchildren for the redoubtable healer to return to Hogwarts. It hadn't occurred to Harry in all the years he had attended Hogwarts that she was a veela. Maybe because she was too old now to affect anybody with her magical charms.
"Headmaster," she said, approaching Harry with a sigh. "He's got a serious lung infection. Muggles call this pnumonia. I've closed up his other injuries, but he can't be out of bed for three weeks, there's not really any cure besides rest. Can't catch a chill, must stay in bed."
"And keeping Severus in bed sick is like trying to keep Bellatrix from listening to Muggle Opera," Tom complained from next to Harry. "I suppose we can thank Ollivander for getting him back to us in one piece. Perhaps he'll consent to the task of keeping him in bed."
The moon eyed wand maker was now hovering next to Snape, an expression of grave worry in his features. He had arrived, carrying the unconscious Snape on his broom, their escape was sheer luck due to Snape discovering that one of the healers attending him was friendly to the Federation.
"Vampires mate for life," said Lucius Malfoy, causing both Harry and Tom to jump. "I think you'll...what is that muggle expression?...'Need a crowbar' to pry Ollivander from his side."
Harry did a double take, between Tom and Lucius, and started laughing, which caused both men to glare at him angrily.
"Just what is so funny?" Tom asked his chuckling lover, a warning gleam in his eyes.
"Oh, I don't know. Muggle operas, muggle crowbars. I think you lot have done the Ministry's job for them and turned muggle friendly all on your own."
Lucius growled, and Tom's response was to grab Harry and kiss him until he was speechless.
"I hate this waiting!" Tom complained, as once again he changed his robes for the day's work. "I hate this bureaucracy! I would like to have won my position as Minister though popular vote, or a glorious coup! Not by the damned entire Wizengamot joining the Federation!"
"Sure surprised me," Harry said with a yawn, still curled up in bed and enjoying the privilege of a Headmaster's right to start the day whenever he so choose. "At least there was little fighting about it. They learned what happened to the Federation and they all defected. Attacking civilians is never good for anyone's reputation."
"Still, this silence from the Order is surprising me. Are you sure it was smart to owl them and invite them to the castle? We still don't know who amongst them tried to kill you."
"Well, I'm hoping that Dumbledore's portrait can set them strait. Anyways, we either engage the Order openly or they make themselves out to be freedom fighters, opposing us."
Tom's only response was to growl and change his collar, again. Then he threw the thing down and raised his hands.
"No collar! I'm posing as a Prince, they never wear formal clothing!"
"Just remember love," Harry said, eyes dancing with delight. "Next week you'll be a Potter. And you'll be in formal dress robes then too."
Tom chuckled, raising an eyebrow, then bent down to lace up his boots.
"Who is going to be my guard I wonder? Snape's down for the count, Ollivander is sticking to him like glue. Lucius is taking over my classes today. You're taking over his..."
"I was able to get some old friends of mine in the Ministry to consent to playing body guard. They've taken all the oaths by the by, and they were NOT amongst those in charge of my attempted assassination."
"Oh?" Tom picked up the collar and gave it an ugly glare. "So who...?"
A knock on the door rang out and Tom went to open it up.
Redheads. Both of them. Male and female. Ginny Weasley, for her part, didn't seem to recognize Tom Riddle at all. Ron Weasley was pointedly sulking.
"Hey, you lot better not get rid of us Aurors," he said at once, as Harry crawled over to the door to greet them, still wrapped in his blanket. "I'm just saying, I'll do my job but I want to keep my job. Oh, hello Harry."
"Yes well," Tom hesitated, then finally resigned himself to putting on his collar. "I suppose we'll need strong soldiers working as police. But I don't like the word Auror. Knight is more traditional."
"Hey, I like that," said Ron, not looking at Harry, and pointedly keeping his eyes on Tom. "Knight Weasley! Yeah!"
It was more sexual embarrassment over Harry's nudity that was keeping Ron at bay than anything else, and Harry decided to relieve him of his embarrassment by putting on a bathrobe.
"So Harry, we are glad you invited us to the wedding, but I don't think mum and dad are keen to come to it...well...you know" said Ginny, blushing.
"Don't worry about it," said Harry with a sigh. "Whoever wants to come can come. I even invited the Dursleys and well...you probably know what their response was."
Both Weasley's grinned and nodded.
"Well then you best get going," Harry said. "We can catch up on things later Ron."
"One moment," said Tom, then he grabbed Harry to kiss him fondly. "I'll be back before dinner. The swearing in shouldn't take too long. Then I'll be swamped with work."
"I'll probably not see you until late," Harry admitted with a groan. "I've got a meeting with the school governors this afterneen. And with the Order right after breakfast. Its gonna be no fun telling them what I've been doing these past two months."
"Just be honest Harry, like you were with us when you owled us," Ron said. "It'll be fine. I'm sure they'll come around."
"I hope so."
The two Weasleys waved goodbye, and Tom followed them out the door. Harry had to pointedly run down the hall to bring Tom his forgotten jacket.
Harry Potter winced, listening to the tirade of Hermione Granger. Her pure weeping was enough to tell him she was innocent of trying to kill him, on top of the oaths they had all sworn coming into the castle. But her sheer relief at finding him alive, her anger that he hadn't contacted them, her delight that he was Headmaster, was enough. It was enough.
"You know what this means Harry? You're the youngest headmaster in the history of Hogwarts! I wonder if they'll add a Chapter to Hogwarts: A History?"
Noticeably absent was Minerva McGonagall and many of the older Order members. Tonks was actually the oldest to have shown up, along with Bill and Fleur, Charlie, the Twins, Ron and Ginny, Hermione, Luna and Neville, most of the former DA (who had joined the Order), but nobody else.
"So you'll all be at my wedding?" Harry asked keenly, hopefully. "I'm nervous enough as it is, I want my friends there."
"Sure we'll be there," said Neville. "But we were a bit worried to hear you were marrying Snape's cousin. I mean...after all that happened with Snape."
"He's a good guy," said Harry, then turned to look at the portraits, hoping for their input.
"And what happened with Severus and myself was not due to evil on his part, but due to love," Dumbledore revealed, then he told them the story of his brief and tragic romance with his beloved Potions Master.
All the other portraits covered their ears. Harry was quite enjoying the strange color's Ron's face was turning.
"So then," said Harry. "Change of subject. Many of you are in need of jobs, and I need teachers. So, who wants to join the staff? Besides Knights Weasley and Weasley?"
A plethora of hands went up, and Hermione revealed that she wanted to join the Federation, and had a thousand ideas she wanted to introduce to the next formal meeting.
Harry just grinned.
Minister Tomas Prince, soon to be Tomas Potter, was heralded in by the clicking of cameras and the flashing of lights. Like any other Minister he had been sworn in for duty by a brief oath of office, after it was confirmed and tallied that the Wizengamot had voted him in. Not that it mattered if the Wizengamot had voted for him, the Federation had agreed to place him until the next general election could be held. But nobody was complaining, more, the questions asked of him were not about his allegiances, his plans for the future, and his hopes for the Ministry to make a turn around in its new connection to the Federation. No, their questions were mostly about his coming marriage to the Dark Lord slayer, Harry Potter.
Good grief, thought Tom as he went over some pre-rehearsed answers. Politics has become a tabloid run talk show. Has it lost its teeth? Will I be glad to be replaced after the first proper election is held?
Tom was just finishing with the reporters when Ron Weasley came over to him in a rush, breathing hard, his eyes wide and panicked.
"Minister Minister I just...from Hogwarts..."
"Slow down. What is this all about now?"
"Hogwarts is under attack!"
An once a flurry of activity followed. Tom shouted orders left and right, his handlers followed him in a frenzy, the reporters were close on his tail, wanting to be the first to catch the new minister in action. The floo system turned out to be clogged so the team apparated from outside, coming upon the school in time to find...
Chaos. Somebody, and he had a certain idea of who, had released thousands of Acromantulas on the school. Centaurs were running around in a frenzy of firing arrows at the Federation soldiers, who were firing their wands back. Tom couldn't see Harry anywhere in the frenzy, but he did spot various members of the Order and his own Death Eaters...
...it was hard to tell who was fighting who now. Which were friends and which were foes. Some of Harry's friends, quite noticeably were fighting the acromantulas, while others were fighting the Death Eaters, and there was a chaos of people who weren't sure who to fight.
THIS is why I made everyone who is out ally take the oaths!
Tom raised his wand above the school and blasted a jet of bright neon blue light into the air. The grounds were soon flooded in blue light and their foes were now glowing bright red under the magical light, whereas friends were green.
"You see your targets!" Tom shouted to his Knights, the green faced Ron looking literally green as he followed them.
"Don't let personal feelings stop you in protecting the castle from these fiends, there are hundreds of children inside!"
The newly dubbed Knights immediately leapt into the fray and Tom joined them, hoping to reach the castle proper.
More chaos. The frightened citizens were running in fear and terror from the giant spiders trying to catch a meal. Tom immediately drowned the red glowing creatures in as many killing curses as he could muster, not sparing his wrath from these creatures who were little more than walking stomachs. He protected a group of people heading to the lower levels, learned that the Slytherin dorms were the designated safe area, and stopped for his breath only to find a harried Madam Pomfrey coming down a set of stairs with Ollivander, with Snape being levitated on a stretcher.
"I can't take him down to the dungeons," said Pomfrey morosely. "The chill down there will kill him!"
"The Slytherin dorms themselves should be warm, but if all else fails go to the kitchens, the House Elves keep that place nice and toasty."
The harried trio continued down the stairs and Tom found himself taking position here on the great stair, covering the escape of those who were headed down to the dungeons. He wet up with a stricken Hermione Granger with a group of people, her green face frightened and tear stained.
"We're the last group. But I can't find Harry. They came in from everywhere. The missing Order members must have brought them in...don't know how..."
"I know how," Tom growled. "Somebody was probably carrying some artificial device that helped them get through the magic oaths."
He quickly searched her, verified her to be clean, then sent her and the kids down to the dungeons. At once another group of spiders decended and he knew what he had to do.
Quickly sealing the dungeons, Tom leapt from his perch and rose into flight. An old trick this, using his wand as a rocket to propel him. But he would not be able to maintain this for long, so instead he landed on a clear stairwell and started searching for his beloved.
The creatures all seem to be massing in this direction. Down here, the Charms classroom.
He cleared the floor of spiders and pried open the door. It was inches going, and he quickly learned why; the room was filled with dead acramantulas. And in the middle of these, spread eagle on the floor, lay Harry Potter.
"Harry!" Tom cried, and gently lifted his beloved from the ground. "Harry?!"
He wasn't moving. His body was swollen, and his wand arm looked mangled and chewed. But his wand was in the other hand and when Tom took a wrist between his fingers he felt his lover's pulse.
Acromantula venom isn't deadly, it just causes paralysis. But he's vulnerable in this state, and that wand hand is bleeding badly. I'd better get him down to Pomfrey...
"So here we have you," said a female voice. "Voldemort."
Tom turned to look behind him. He had stupidly left the door open, and now he was staring down the pointed wand of Minerva McGonagall, with Remus Lupin and Mad Eyed Moody in close attendance.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said, trying to bluff his way out of a quick death.
"The boy, Prince!" Moody barked. "The boy! You're helping Voldemort and don't even know it!"
Tom could not believe his ears. Not only did they still think Harry was a horcrux, they didn't even know who Tom really was! How did they not recognize him? When Moody had been in school with him, and McGonagall had been his teacher!
Stall them, said Harry to him mentally. I think the paralysis is wearing off, but you have to stall them...
"Harry isn't a horcrux," said Tom, stricken by his lover's plight. "Lord Voldemort is dead!"
This sounded so strange to his ears that he almost laughed. That moniker that he had once so proudly worn was now a sword threatening the life of his lover, his soul mate.
"Prove it!" Lupin said, sounding earnestly like he wanted to believe it. "Prove it!"
"Ask any Death Eater," said Tom, rolling up his sleeve and hoping they would take the bait. "No Dark Mark! Its gone, so is Harry's scar. Its over, the war is over, but you are still fighting it!"
The three Order members whispered to each other for a few moments.
"No, the Dark Mark has dissipated before," said Moody. "You only need see what Harry Potter has become. Giving shelter to Death Eaters, mixing with your lot. He's got Voldemort in him he sure has."
Keep stalling them...
"'Our lot'?" Tom snarled. "You mean Death Eaters? Or the Federation? Or maybe women and children, since thats who you've attacked today!" Lupin looked highly alarmed by this. "Who did you get to help you bring spiders into the school? The half giant I suspect..."
No, Hagrid's dead, Harry sent, wind voice pure agony. He was trying to stop them.
"Enough of this!" said McGonagall. "We're taking back the school from you Death Eaters and returning things to normal. So step aside so we can deal with the Dark Lord once and for all!"
Irony. The bitterest irony of life now that he was living. He was now being presented the same choice that he had given Lily Potter oh so many years ago, the choice that had bound him soul to soul with Harry.
A choice that he now had to make.
"You've made a mistake. You think that its loyalty to Voldemort that drives me, that I'm selfish, greedy and put my own life before others. But I would give my life for Harry, I love him, I am his soul mate. I will be with him even in death, a fate I look forward to, a joy you couldn't possibly begin to imagine."
"I could imagine it," Lupin croaked suddenly, eyes haunted, and hollow. "Oh God!"
The werewolf suddenly ran from the room. A flurry of motion followed, spells bounding off of walls and into the bodies of the acramantulas.
A thump and a scream, and Tom found himself staring down at the body of Mad Eyed Moody. Next to him was McGonagall, looking frightened beyond reason.
She would have been, for Harry had finally sat up, bloated and furious, in order to cast the expeliarmus. Tom's own killing curse had caught Moody, so now he stood wondering what to do about McGonagall.
"I'm Harry," said his mate, beating him to the punch. "Just Harry. Nobody else."
With one tremulous look at Harry, then at Tom, McGonagall covered her mouth and collapsed onto the ground weeping.
"Finally, its over," said Tom.
"Thank god for that," said Harry.
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
~Ta da! The grande finale of this fic! Possible epilogue, see my author notes at the end for more info! Hope you liked it! This story didn't turn out the way I thought it would. But its good! I'm glad.
"It has been said that no man is an island entire to himself. We are involved in all humanity and each time two people come together to blend their lives as one, it is a reaffirmation of human courage, hope and love. Marriage is the supreme sharing of experience and an adventure in the most intimate of human relationships. It is the joyous uniting of a couple whose comradeship and mutual understanding have flowered into romance. Today, Harry James Potter and Tomas Prince proclaim their love to the world and we who are gathered here rejoice with them and for them in the new life they now undertake together."
Harry grinned at Tom, whose eyes were shivering with his nervous panic at taking this final step into a new life with . The high collar wedding style robes looked very good on Tom. Both grooms had foregone the traditional black wizard caps that normally accompany this style of robe in favor of top hats. Their dress, however, was the same, matching black with white shirts and collars and silver buttons and trim. Harry disliked the ruffled cuffs, which Ron had teased him briefly about.
"A successful marriage is based on love, equality, respect, and commitment on the part of both, in which each must adjust to the other's temperaments and moods. In marriage two persons turn to each other in search of greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. Marriage should be a growing and dynamic relationship, a dream of tomorrow in which we grow and fulfill our possibilities. It is wondrous when someone believes in the dream of ourselves and wants to live with us and help make these dreams and aspirations come true."
Harry smiled and turned to look at the wizard giving the ceremony. For his part Lucius Malfoy seemed highly proud to be doing the ceremony. Any adult witch or wizard could have done it, thus it was an honor that both grooms had settled upon this man.
Not much choice really, Snape is Tom's best man, and Ron is mine.
"The grooms will now read their vows they have written to one another..." said Lucius, and he stood back to give them their stage.
"Well he we are," said Tom, a wry lifting of his eyebrow. "Assuming that no fire or flood, or other acts of God interfere, we shall assume that we will be stuck together for awhile..."
A ripple of laughter, and Harry chuckled. Classic Tom humored.
"All I can promise now in light of this is that I shall be the most devoted, protective and passionate partner that I can be. We shall dance through the world together with nothing but flesh and bone between us."
Nervous sounds from the audience.
"And that dance will never end. Through struggle or strife, through pain, and even in death, we will never be parted."
The days after the attack on the castle had been so painful for them both, physically for Harry recovering from being attacked viciously, emotionally for Tom, who had to watch Harry's slow staggering recovery, powerless to do anything to hasten the process of the venom leaving Harry's blood. Potions had helped. But despite that, Harry had admitted to Tom that morning as they were getting ready that he still felt stiff in his joints, despite the fact that he appeared on the outside to be perfectly healthy...so long as nobody looked at his bandaged wand arm, with its missing fingers. Madam Pomfrey had managed to save his thumb, which Harry now hooked into the pocket of his robes to keep himself from chewing the nail off.
"I...love you," Harry said, hating the weakness of his voice. "What should have torn us apart has brought us together. Joy and pain, and the dance we will share, and the love of our friends who will watch and witness our love. Its pure and passionate and impossible to break. And I will be loyal to you and loyal to that bond until the end of all time."
A murmur through the crowd and Lucius returned to his spot.
"The grooms will now exchange rings."
Ron stumbled up to Harry to give him his ring. Their was a pale, weak look on his face, and Harry realized that his friend had finally figured out who the groom was.
I'll talk to him after. Unless this is just his discomfort about gay couples. Or maybe Ginny DID tell him before we started. SHE certainly figured it out quickly enough. But hasn't said anything, must have been Dumbledore's private talk with her. Harry gave the portrait on the chair next to Hermione a smile before turning to slip the ring onto his new husband's finger. In order for Voldemort to die, Tom had to feel remorse...love. And now we can both live.
Harry smiled at Snape as he handed Tom the ring. The man looked stony faced and pale, though it was a not so secret rumor that Ollivander had been sharing blood with his lover so that they would live as long as each other. It was probably for the better that Snape was turnin; a one-toothed vampire couldn't take as much blood from a victim, Ollivander, would need a partner's help.
"And now a friend of the grooms shall sing a song..."
Harry grinned, highly amused as Bellatrix Lestrange, in her beautiful red dress, took to the stage and lifted her wand to her throat.
Harry wasn't sure which opera she was singing, it was French, but Tom whispered to him briefly that it warned them both that love was a gyspy, a rebellious bird that comes and goes when you least expected it. Once she finished all applauded and she sat down again, rather pleased with herself.
She would be. Her opera performances were now rumored to be sold out wherever she went. In the muggle world she was now well known as a mezzo-soprano opera diva named Madam Helena. Neither Tom or Harry had asked her why she had chosen that name.
"...the miracle of love is like the miracle of a flower," continued Lucius grandly, and Harry jerked his head, realizing with embarrassment that he had been stuck in his thoughts and missed the first bit of it. "It thrives upon the sunshine of a smile. It entwines itself around the heart. Its roots are secured in the memories of yesterday, and its petals breathe the promise of joy filled tomorrows. To be loved is to know happiness and contentment. To give love is to know the joy of sharing oneself. It is through the miracle of love that we discover the fullness of life."
Tom and Harry, now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are one heart in two bodies, and there is only one life before you. Now you enter into the days of your togetherness...May those days be good, and long, upon this earth. You may...kiss?"
Someone giggled and Tom growled, scooping Harry up into a kiss so passionate that it left them both breathless. Lucius was blushing pointedly as he raised his hand over their hands to complete the ceremony with the final binding spell. And once that was completed somebody released the doves, flower petals fell from the sky and Lucius raised his hands.
"Ladies and Gentleman, may I now present Harry and Tomas Potter!"
Applauds, and Harry ran with Tom down the aisle, both of them laughing as a shower of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans was thrown at them from their guests.
I'll kill you for suggesting that to them Harry, Tom teased as they climbed into their carriage, and Harry responded by taking one of the beans out of his pocket to stick in his lover's mouth.
Harry stretched out on the sand, letting the sun bathe him in its warmth. On the blanket next to him, with sun tan lotion on his nose, and a book open, was Tom, who seemed quite happy for the chance to relax after the exciting day they'd had.
"Why I ever hated the muggle world I cannot say," said the man, closing his copy of Lord Of The Rings over his thumb. "Such clever people. And their notions of magic are quite charming. Talking animals? Fairies, fairy godmothers..."
"I knew taking you to Disney World was a good idea," Harry chuckled, bending over to kiss his husband. "This has been the best honeymoon I could have hoped for."
Tom's response was to chuckle and take Harry into his arms and kiss him tenderly.
"Enjoy it, for we only have three more days before we have to go back to the wizarding world."
"I hear Ron's doing a good job without you. Maybe they'll elect him as the next Minister of Magic."
The look on Tom's face upon hearing this was the most priceless look of horror and dismay that Harry had ever seen.
"Unless of course you run for a second term," Harry suggested quietly, and kissed his lover again.
"No way. I want to teach Defense and I shall. I want to be able to see my husband during the day."
"But darling," Harry crooned. "What would the students think if they caught up snogging in a hall closet somewhere?"
"Headmaster's priviledge," Tom said immediately, and kissed his lover again.
This time there was no more talk. Just the sound of the waves pounding the rhythm of the shore in time with their hearts, with only their skin as a barrier between them.
~That's it! Ended! No more! Well possibly, but I think its finished. Anything that still needs explaining that maybe I could sneak into an epilogue? I think I caught all the threads, but please let me know in the comments section and I'll see what I can do.
Must say this has been a marvelous ride. And finally I'm getting some fics done. In a steady stream now it seems. x_x
Oh, and I borrowed that wedding ceremony above from a website which offers sample ceremonies, though I shortened it quite a bit and added things in. I'm a sucker for sap, but I couldn't think of what to write, so please don't sue me!