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A muffin, darling?

Chapter Text

It really wasn’t Harry’s fault that Voldemort kept attacking the Dursleys. Sure, he sent the man a gift basket every time he tried to kill them, but that was more to thank him than anything else. Living with the Dursleys was hell and if Voldemort ended up being the one to save him from that, then he deserved a reward. He never managed to get past the blood wards, though, so perhaps Harry should call it a consolation prize, instead. Baked goods soothed the soul, after all, and which soul needed more soothing than one that had been forcibly split more than six times? Even now, sitting in Dumbledore’s office after dinner, Harry was going over the recipes and ingredients he would need for the next basket. He knew that Voldemort preferred the blueberry muffins—the Dursleys were always attacked sooner after he sent those—and he counted off the chocolates he could send along with them on his fingers absentmindedly.

“Harry, my boy.” Harry twitched. He most certainly was not Dumbledore’s boy. “Voldemort has attempted attacks on the Dursleys more times last summer than he ever has before.” He glanced at Harry accusingly over the rims of his half moon glasses. “You must stop sending him those gift baskets; the blood wards and, subsequently, the Dursleys, are the only things that keep you safe from him.”

Harry shrugged, planning to send more whenever he got the chance, just for spite. Dumbledore had put him in that wretched house; he wasn’t about to listen to the very person that had made his summers a living hell.

“Voldemort will never get through the wards, but for as long as he tries, I will always send him something as a sort of… consolation prize for his bruised ego,” he shrugged, making an effort to look as disinterested as possible. “Besides, ever since I started sending them, he’s stopped attacking me at school.” Behind him, McGonagall hid a small smile. Only Harry would think to send Voldemort a gift basket.

“Albus, perhaps it would be better to be grateful that Mr. Potter is no longer attacked at Hogwarts, especially because of our current position with the Board of Governors. They are still trying to find ways to remove you from the school, and for as long as You-Know-Who targets him while he’s here, you stand a good chance of being forced out.”

Dumbledore tipped his head in silent agreement, then steepled his fingers and leaned forward, fixing Harry with a gaze that could cut steel.

“While I am grateful, the fact remains that Voldemort still attacks the Dursleys every time Harry sends one of his gift baskets. And—however much you want to ignore it—as long as the Dursleys are at risk, Harry, you are at risk.” McGonagall pursed her lips and nodded. “You cannot keep sending those baskets,” Dumbledore said. Harry felt dread drop like lead in his stomach. He knew what was coming. “Harry, I forbid you from baking this summer. We cannot risk your safety. You will spend the entirety of this summer with the Dursleys. It is the only way for the wards to remain strong enough to resist him if he chose to attack them while you are here.”

Internally, Harry was as furious as he was terrified. He was at risk every day, for Merlin’s sake, perhaps even more so at Hogwarts. Take Fluffy, for instance. A perfect example of complete idiocy. Who in their right mind decided that keeping a giant three-headed dog at a school full of children was a good idea? Dumbledore had absolutely no right to keep him locked up in that house to be treated like a servant by those horrible people.

Those horrible, horrible people. His hands were trembling, and it took most of his concentration to remember to breathe normally—to act as though nothing was wrong. His baking was perhaps the only thing that kept them from treating him much worse. If he wasn’t allowed to bake, who was to say that they wouldn’t throw him out on their own? What if Vernon didn’t stop at just threats and the occasional beating? Black spots swam before his eyes and he pressed his nails into his palms to keep himself from passing out or showing any sign of weakness. He was thankful when McGonagall’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts.

“While I agree with you about the wards, Albus, I must ask you not to squander such wonderful talent,” McGonagall said, and Harry felt relief flood through him. She could convince Dumbledore, even if no one else could. She continued, “Harry is a baking god. Those brownies of his are unnaturally delicious and each pastry he makes is absolutely heavenly. To forbid him to bake is like forbidding a bird to fly.” Dumbledore grimaced. He was a fan of hard candy, but had never been fond of pastries, no matter how well they were made. They stared each other down for a moment, but when McGonagall refused to relent, he sighed deeply. If Minerva would not back down on this, he had no choice but to accept defeat.

“You will be allowed to bake,” he said. “But I will have ministry employees look through your mail to ensure that you send nothing to Voldemort. You are the hope of our world, Harry. Do not forsake us.” Harry almost rolled his eyes, running through his extensive mental list of swears.

“Yes, sir,” he said instead, suppressing the urge to verbally express the full extent of his discontent. “If that will be all, sir?”

At Dumbledore’s nod, he stood and left, striding down the moving staircase in practiced movements, silently fuming. Dumbledore was going to trap him with the Dursleys for an entire summer? Fuck the gift baskets, he was writing Voldemort a bloody letter.

Chapter Text

Harry strode into the near-empty common room, quickly locating Hermione and Ron before collapsing onto one of the couches across from them. Hermione looked up and raised an eyebrow at his disheveled form, then set her Potions essay down and cast a Muffliato with a quick flick of her wand.

“How did the meeting with Dumbledore go?” She asked, absently brushing a curl behind her ear with ink-stained fingers. Ron looked up from staring despondently at his own essay and leaned forwards, abandoning all pretense of pretending to study.

“He said I had to spend the entire summer with the Dursleys instead of going to Ron’s,” Harry fumed, dragging a hand through his unruly hair irritably. Ron scowled, and Hermione mirrored him.

“Bloody hell, mate, he has no right to do that! He knows that you hate the Dursleys!” Ron spat vehemently, lip curling in disgust at the thought of Harry’s relatives.

“He always said that just a few weeks each summer was fine. What changed?” Hermione’s brow furrowed. The headmaster really was barmy if he thought that Harry was going to simply sit back and take the Dursleys’ abuse every year, or that his friends were going to allow it at all.

“Apparently a few weeks isn’t enough to make the blood wards strong enough to last while I’m at school,” Harry said bitterly, twirling his wand about his fingers. “Something about him ‘not being able to risk my safety’ or some shite.”

“Because Fluffy was so safe?” Ron scoffed. “Dumbledore is a great wizard and all, but he hadn’t even realized that a death eater had infiltrated the school last year. There wasn’t even an investigation about how he got in. Why is he concerned for your safety now, after all he’s done to completely disregard it?”

“My point exactly!” Harry exclaimed. “Honestly, I’m so done with this. I’m tempted to write Voldemort himself a letter, just out of spite.” He said jokingly, gauging his friends’ reactions carefully.

Ron’s first reaction was to dismiss the idea altogether, but as he considered it more, he thought that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea, after all. The attacks had picked up after Harry first started sending the gift baskets, but he didn’t seem to be the target anymore—it was always the Dursleys being targeted. He pondered it for a while longer, a plan already forming in his head. Harry caught the look in his eyes and shook his head. Chess master, indeed.

Hermione, however, simply shook her head. “He wants to kill you, Harry. And what would you even write?” She raised her voice an octave, and batted her eyelashes as though impersonating an infatuated girl. “‘Dear Mr. Voldemort, could you kill my relatives a little quicker? I’ll bake some muffins for you! xoxo, Harry’.” Harry snorted. Admittedly, he had been considering writing almost exactly that.

“That might work, actually,” Ron said suddenly, and the incredulous look Hermione sent him was so worth it. “I’m serious!” He turned to Harry. “Harry, you said that the attacks happened more often after you started sending the gift baskets, right?” At Harry’s nod, he continued. “The Dursleys are disgusting excuses for human beings. If the attacks happen more often, you stand more of a chance of getting out of there, I think.”

“This is ridiculous,” Hermione muttered, frowning. “Then again, I once heard Snape saying something about blueberry muffins... Plus, your baking is To Die For.” Harry grinned, cheering internally. He had guessed Voldemort’s favorite flavor correctly!

“Everyone likes Harry’s baking; it’s amazing. By this logic, Voldemort should also like Harry’s baking.” Ron said, nodding. Hermione nodded with him, then froze.

“Wait, no! You’re talking about the bloody ‘Dark Lord’—Murderer of innocents and hater of muggleborns—liking baking?!” Hermione exclaimed. Harry and Ron both shrugged because, as demonstrated, it was probably true. “This is insane! You’re going to get yourself killed!” Harry’s smile fell from his face and he leaned towards his friend, his eyes hard.

“Hermione, I’m either going to die in that house, at the hands of those people, or die on my own terms. If there is even the slightest chance that the Dark Lord, Voldemort, will treat me better than my supposed family, I am willing to take it.” Hermione flinched, her face suddenly pale.

“Don’t talk like that, Harry,” she said, her eyes sad. Harry shook his head, his eyes locked on hers. “I—Gods... Fine. If you want to, I won’t stop you.” She sighed. Harry sat back in his chair, suddenly exhausted by the conversation.

After a moment of silence, Hermione sighed again. “You’ll probably need a charm to conceal the letter from everyone except for the recipient.” Harry nodded. She sighed once more, then cancelled the silencing ward and gathered up her things, pushing them carefully into her bag. “I’ll look for one in the library when I get the chance, but for now you’re both going to bed.” Harry and Ron groaned but didn’t argue. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Harry nodded and pulled Ron to his feet, brushing past Seamus and saying goodnight to Hermione before following him to the dorm room. They fell asleep soon afterward.

Chapter Text

About a week passed, during which Hermione had somehow managed to drag the trio into scouring the library top to bottom for the spell that they needed. They’d spent hours poring over books together just last night, staying up so late that Harry didn’t even bother getting up for breakfast. He had only just managed to coerce himself into getting up and functioning like a human being when Hermione burst into the room. “Holy— fuck, ‘Mione! Knock first, for Merlin’s sake!” He yelled, pulling the covers higher up on his chest. She rolled her eyes at the dramatics, then passed him a book.

“Page 143 for the spell. Charms is in five minutes, so hurry up!” She left as quickly as she came and Harry was left alone in the middle of the room to panic. He dressed in hurried movements, somehow managing to stay upright as he pulled on his jeans. Hurriedly, he pulled his socks and shoes on and grabbed his bag. He rushed down the stairs, only to find a crowd of people still in the common room, milling about for lack of things to do until class. He groaned, scowling at Hermione as she sauntered up to him, smirking. “I told you it would work,” she told Ron. He was smiling, his expression as equally amused as he was tired.

“You’re both terrible.” They just laughed in response and the trio took up their usual couch near the fireplace. Harry flipped the book Hermione had given him to the page she had specified and looked over the spell. “This is very clever, actually. It’s like a glamour that affects everyone except for the person I send it to?”

“Yes, but it won’t do anything to confuse animals, so any owl you send the letter with shouldn’t be affected.” Harry nodded thoughtfully.

“I’m not going to use a school owl, and I’m definitely not going to be able to use Hedwig, so we’ll probably have to go to the Hogsmeade post office and use theirs.” He said. Hermione agreed, and they spent the next hour before class making rough drafts of the letter, discarding and changing bits and pieces here and there and ending up with a short letter that seemed simple enough.

Voldemort,
This letter is enchanted so that only you can read it. I would like to make a deal with you concerning the Dursleys. Please respond within a week via concealed letter through Severus Snape rather than an owl. The mail I receive is being searched.
Harry Potter

“I sincerely doubt that git will want to be a message boy, but he certainly deserves it.” Ron said, reading the letter once more. Harry shrugged.

“I hear that he likes chocolate tarts. Maybe I’ll make some for him.” Hermione, across from them, raised an eyebrow and pointed at Harry, a serious expression on her face.

“Baking God,” she said, and they laughed.

Harry enchanted the finished sheet of parchment with Hermione looking over the book every now and again to make sure that he was doing it correctly. The spell was a bit complicated, but they got through it without a hitch. They planned to send the letter on the next Hogsmeade weekend, and Ron proposed that they wear glamours in order to not seem suspicious. Harry and Hermione agreed, and smoothed out the kinks in their plan until the time came to go to class. They departed for Charms with a spring in their steps, and Harry was hopeful that he could finally take control of his life.

Chapter Text

Finally, the weekend came. Harry had spent the entire week full of distracted anticipation, and his grades were paying for it. Snape had given him a month’s worth of detentions and McGonagall seemed to loom constantly, watching him suspiciously. She didn’t mention anything to them, but they knew she could tell that they were planning something. Hermione and Ron were no better off, but Hermione somehow managed to keep her grades afloat while he and Ron were doomed to suffer.

“Serves you right for not studying,” she’d told them yesterday, refusing to share her notes. Harry had been panicking―he hadn’t yet finished the four essays that they had been assigned, and they were due that weekend. That night, they’d all sat down at the common room table and started working on their homework, trying desperately to fill every last inch of the parchment with long words. Somehow, Harry had managed to finish all of his essays. He had given Hermione a proud grin and a thumbs up and then he put his head on the table, closed his eyes, and fell asleep immediately. Ron had levitated him to the dorm before collapsing into bed himself and was dead to the world within seconds.

Now, Harry and Ron were being dragged unapologetically from bed by Hermione. No one had any reason to be awake before noon on a Saturday, yet here she was, disturbing the peace and assaulting innocent sleeping people with her horribly loud cheerfulness. At the rate that she was going, they would all be sleep deprived zombies by Christmas.

“Up, we have business in Hogsmeade,” she said happily as Harry sat upright and rubbed at his eyes, yawning. Ron just burrowed further into his pillow and groaned. How was Hermione this cheerful so early in the morning? “Ronald Weasley, get up or I will levitate you out of bed.” Her stern warning sounded far too much like Molly Weasley for Ron’s tastes. He hesitated for only a moment, but when she raised her eyebrows meaningfully, he sat up quickly, threw back the covers, and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He didn’t fancy being spelled into the air on the day that they would finally be doing something about Harry’s wretched relatives.

“I’m up. How are you so bloody happy? It’s only—” he cast a quick tempus, “—eight in the morning.” She smiled brightly. Ron rolled his eyes and started getting dressed, raising an eyebrow at her as she flushed at his apparent lack of modesty. When Harry began doing the same only a moment later, she backed out of the room, her face doing its best imitation of a tomato. He chuckled quietly to himself, and pulled on a bright orange shirt that proudly showed the Chudley Cannons.

When he and Harry finally trudged out of the room, Hermione was waiting for them at the foot of the stairs. Ron noted with amusement that she was still blushing a bit as she shifted from one foot to the other. Hermione was trying her best to avoid looking at them, but when she finally took in what Ron was wearing, her gaze sharpened with disapproval.

“We’re going to Hogsmeade and will be wearing glamours. We’re supposed to be hiding our identities,” she said, her eyes leveled on his shirt. He looked down questioningly, then grimaced. Bright Orange. Right.

“I’ll change,” Ron sighed, then trudged back upstairs.

Chapter Text

Harry sent the letter without any preamble, then decided to make their trip to Hogsmeade worthwhile. He allowed Hermione to steer the trio to a bookstore, inhaling the crisp scent of paper as he looked over the titles and skimmed through anything that he found interesting. He made it out of the shop with the few books that had caught his eye while Hermione had a daunting two stacks that she nonchalantly shrunk and put in her bag after paying. Harry pulled his scarf higher up on his glamoured face and blew warm breath onto his hands as the cold nipped at his skin.

The trio then migrated to Honeydukes, thankful for the warmth of the candy store. It was one of their favourite places—the noise and light in the store seemed much brighter and more welcoming than the dreary Scottish winter outside. They wandered around, avoiding the acid pops (Harry enjoyed blood pops, but now wasn’t exactly the time for him to spring that on his friends) and delighting over chocolate frogs. By the time they were finished, Harry had gotten all of them enough candy to give them sugar highs until May, and Ron was happily eating his way through the piles of sweets.

It was only when they meandered down the main street to head back to Hogwarts that Harry felt eyes on him. Slowly, he turned in a semicircle while listening to his friends banter back and forth. When his gaze came to a black bunny, he paused. The small creature was staring directly at him, which was only mildly worrying at most. Harry would wager that the adorable bunny wasn’t any normal animal and was likely someone’s familiar. It wouldn’t hurt to pet it if it were only a familiar. Behind him, he heard Ron and Hermione stop walking as he kneeled down and swiftly picked up the tiny beastie. He unconsciously cradled it, petting the rabbit as it gently nibbled at his fingers. He heard a quick intake of breath and looked up, noticing Snape staring at the furry bundle of joy in his arms as though he was staring at a ghost.

“Oh—is this your familiar, Professor?” Harry asked, then yelped when he was bit by the bunny. “Rude bunny,” he chided it playfully, and Snape seemed to only pale further. Hermione stepped up beside him and pet it, surprised at the softness of its fur, only a moment later taking in Snape’s stricken countenance.

“Are you alright, sir?” She asked, concerned as she gently fondled one of the bunny’s ears. His only response was a strangled cry, and the bunny huffed in what they guessed was amusement. Snape snapped to his senses when Ron reached towards it, snatching the bunny from Harry before stalking away with it in his arms.

“That was… weird.” Ron remarked, watching him bend his head to speak to the black bunny as he walked in the direction of the Hog’s Head. Honestly, the weirdest thing was that the bunny familiar suited their Potions Professor and made him seem more approachable. They each gave a mental shrug before continuing on their way back to the castle, purchases in hand.

------ (POV of our fantastically unstable and evil dark git) ------

Voldemort watched in his animagus form as Harry Potter exited the candy store with his friends, pulling his hind legs forward in an attempt to keep out the cold. He was at Hogsmeade with Severus so that he could acquire some books and chocolate tarts from the shops. Potter’s chocolate tarts would be better, though. His baking was exceptional, and Voldemort suddenly and fiercely wished that he could have more of Harry’s blueberry muffins. Alas, he was currently residing at Hogwarts. None of the house elves would let him anywhere near the oven, much less allow him to make one of his delightful pastries.

The person in question shifted suddenly, then turned to stare directly at him. Voldemort flinched slightly, but remained in place. How had he known that he was there? Did Potter know that it was him? One of his questions was answered when Potter swiftly swept him off of the cold ground, cradling him in the warmth of his arms. Voldemort tensed, then relaxed into the warmth as the boy started petting him. He felt like falling asleep, feeling, for some odd reason, completely safe in the arms of his enemy. Logically, he knew that this was a terrible idea. He was currently cradled to the chest of the one person that could destroy him, and the wiser and more reasonable part of his brain screamed that he should get away from Harry as soon as possible. He couldn’t just jump down, though. That would be rude. Voldemort shifted in his enemy’s embrace, and nibbled his fingers. Potter let out a tiny laugh and pulled him closer to his chest.

A gasp from nearby made Voldemort raise his head, chittering softly when he saw Severus. He listened with interest as Potter began speaking, but narrowed his eyes when he heard himself being referred to as a familiar. How dare the boy put him on the same level as those beasts! Voldemort bit him as retribution, then twitched his ears when Potter called him rude. If only he knew. He caught Severus’ eye, and watched as he paled to the point of almost being translucent. Internally, he smirked.

The muggleborn girl stepped into place beside Potter, reaching out a hand to pet him. He would have purred if he could—Gryffindors and their reckless urges could be strangely enjoyable when it came to small animals. The warmth of the two hands was oddly pleasant in comparison to the cold of late winter, and he nearly melted in Potter’s arms. Suddenly, all of the warmth was gone as Severus snatched him away from the Gryffindors. Voldemort did his best imitation of a growl in his bunny form as his spy walked away from the trio as quickly as he could.

“My Lord,” Severus whispered, ducking his head. “I apologize for leaving you. I never expected Potter, of all people, to be the one to find you.” Voldemort swiveled his ears towards the man, leveling him with an unimpressed look. Severus nonetheless continued with his apologies, even when the animagus sent a baleful glare his way.

As they made their way through the crowds in Hogsmeade, they kept receiving several odd looks, especially from the students. He supposed that, since the Potions master made a habit of terrifying his students, suddenly having a seemingly innocent and adorable black bunny in his arms would throw people off. Voldemort had just started shivering from the cold when they finally made it to a secluded alleyway away from prying eyes. He shifted into human form as soon as Severus set him down on the ground and apparated away, leaving a swirl of leaves and wind in his wake. He had pastries to lust after, papers to sign, and plans to make.

Chapter Text

Voldemort sat up when the owl flew into his private study, curious as to who was either reckless or foolish enough to send an owl to him. The creature alighted on the perch set up next to his desk, purchased in a rare moment of vanity. After all, who would want to send letters to Lord Voldemort? Maybe it was Potter. He was both reckless and foolish enough to have done such a thing. The empty gift baskets piled near the wall were a testament to that.

The owl, admittedly a very handsome creature, held out its leg. It held a letter in its claws that he accepted gracefully. He waved his wand over the parchment, checking for curses or other harmful spells, but only coming up with a powerful glamour charm. Voldemort looked over the wax seal, cocking his head. It looked oddly familiar, but he knew that he hadn’t seen it before. When he went to open the letter, the owl next to him nipped at his fingers impatiently. He raised an eyebrow at it, and it hooted softly, nudging at his fingers with its beak. He rolled his eyes and summoned owl treats for it, then sat back and broke the seal.

His eyes widened when he read exactly who was sending the letter. It truly was from Potter, but no gift basket came with it this time. He read further, his eyes widening as he read. If asked, he would never admit it, but Voldemort was rendered speechless—his mouth gaping by the simple fact that his prophesied enemy, the bloody Boy-Who-Lived, had asked to make a deal. With Voldemort. He was torn between making plans to kidnap the boy and being curious about the details of the deal. Maybe he would do both, just in case. After all, if he ended up getting more blueberry muffins out of the deal, he would consider it time well spent.

He nodded decidedly, shifting the stacks of paperwork that he had been looking through to the side. Voldemort pulled a spare piece of parchment from somewhere within the piles of reports, then conjured an inkwell and a quill. He wrote a reply, signed his signature with a dramatic flourish (wasted, he thought, if only because no one else was in the room to witness it), then plucked a scone from the plate at the edge of his desk, savouring the taste that seemed to melt into his tongue. Harry Potter’s gift with pastries might be one of the only thing keeping him sane while he sat for endless hours at his desk. Who knew that being a Dark Lord required so much paperwork?

Chapter Text

Harry wasn’t actually expecting a response when he sent that letter. He was hoping for one, sure, but he never thought that he’d receive a definite answer instead of threats or blood. Yet, here was Snape, cornering him in the hallways, letter in hand and a fierce glare in his eyes.

“Potter, why are you getting letters from the Dark Lord?”

“It’s just an academic interest in his plans for Magical Britain, sir,” Harry told him politely. Snape scowled and narrowed his eyes.

“I’m expecting some type of payment if I am to continue being a courier for your reckless, stupid correspondence with the Dark Lord.” Snape said sharply. Harry grinned.

“Are chocolate tarts a suitable payment, sir?” Snape sneered, nodded once, and strode away with his cloak swishing behind him. Harry carried on walking, making his way to the Gryffindor common room. Once inside, he plopped down on one of the couches near the fire and waved the letter at Ron and Hermione.

“Woohoo,” Hermione said, deadpan, and cast a Muffliato with a flick of her wand. Ron snorted.

Harry studied the envelope. On the front, in elegant cursive, was his name. He flipped it over and rolled his eyes at the sight of the green wax seal. Voldemort was a Slytherin to the end. He broke the seal with his nail, took out the parchment, and read it aloud to his friends.

Harry Potter,
Imagine my surprise when I get a letter from the Boy-Who-Lived. The Dursleys are your muggle relatives, are they not? What could be so important about them that Harry Potter contacts me, his enemy, to make a “deal”?
I will meet you at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade in one of the rented rooms at noon next Hogsmeade weekend. You may bring your friends, but don’t be late.
The Dark Lord Voldemort

“‘The Dark Lord Voldemort’, what a pretentious prat,” Ron said, and Harry laughed.

“I guess we’re going to that meeting, then.” Hermione paused, a sudden look of anxiety flitting over her face. “Should I do my hair? Put on makeup? What are the rules of etiquette for meeting a Dark Lord?” She fretted, frantically writing a list of things she thought she ought to wear.

“‘Mione, hey, calm down. It’s just Voldemort.”

“‘Just Voldemort’?! He has ‘Lord’ in his title, Ron!” She exclaimed, running into the girl’s dorm to go through her wardrobe while Ron scratched his head.

-----

“Are you both ready to go? Is my hair okay? Did I smudge my eyeliner?” Harry studied her face, but he didn’t really know what to look for.

“‘Mione, you look great! Besides, if we don’t go soon, we’ll be late.” Hermione cast a quick tempus, and her face paled.

“We need to go!” She said, and dragged them out of the castle.

The walk—well, run—to Hogsmeade ended with them out of breath at the door to the Hog’s Head. It was exactly 11:55 when they stepped through the doors and caught Aberforth’s eye. He greeted them from behind the bar.

“We have an appointment with someone in one of the rooms.”

“2nd room on the left. Watch your step as you go up.” He watched them curiously as they left.

They ascended the stairs. When they reached the right room, they looked at each other.

“We’re really going to do this?” Hermione asked them.

“Yup. Let’s get it over with,” Harry said, opening the door.

Inside, there was a table with four chairs around it, but no one was there. A familiar black bunny sat on the table, and Harry absentmindedly scooped it up and cooed at it as he looked around.

“Hey there, buddy,” he said, walking around to check for listening devices. Constant vigilance, after all. Hermione and Ron did the same, casting scans on every object in the room. “I wonder why you’re in here.” He held the bunny up to eye level, noting its red eyes. “Your eyes are very pretty.” The bunny chuffed and wiggled a little bit. He smiled, then turned to his friends. “Do you think this fella has a name?”

“No idea,” Ron reached over and patted the bunny.

“If he doesn’t, we can just give him a name.” Hermione leaned over, studying the bunny closely. “He does have pretty eyes. Why don’t we call him Voldie, like Voldemort? Red eyes are kind of his trademark.” The bunny wiggled in his arms, amused. Harry hummed and scratched its head.

“He seems to like it. Here, let me put him down so he can explore.” When he put the bunny down, however, it huffed and started growing taller, until Voldemort stood there in all his glory with amusement in his eyes.

“Bloody fuck,” Ron whispered, and Voldemort snorted. (snorted!)

“I have pretty eyes?” He asked, cocking his head at the Trio. Harry and Hermione both paled, then flushed indignantly.

“It’s not like we knew it was you. And is a bunny really your animagus form?” Harry raised an eyebrow, flush still on his cheeks, daring Voldemort to say something else. Voldemort glared at them, then took a seat in the chair across from the other three.

“What deal did you want to make concerning your relatives, Potter?” He inquired, getting down to business and ignoring Harry’s taunting words. Harry took a deep breath.

“You stage an attack on Number 4, Privet Drive. You take my relatives and lock them away. You will not touch them or harm them, mentally or physically, until I say so. I will bake you a year’s supply of blueberry muffins, and you may ask 10 questions—no more, no less; Hermione will keep count—about why I’m making this deal and I will answer them truthfully. We brought some veritaserum to ensure this and I ask that you take some as well.” Voldemort tried not to salivate at the offer of a year’s supply of blueberry muffins, then the rest of what Harry had said seemed to click. He narrowed his eyes.

“Veritaserum?” Harry nodded and Hermione’s quill hovered over the paper. Voldemort rolled his eyes. “Why require me to take any?”

“Equivalent exchange,” he said simply, and Voldemort sneered at him.

“Gryffindors never change,” he muttered. He didn’t want to take any Veritaserum, but he really wanted those muffins. So, after a moment of sneering and complaining, he said, “Very well.” Hermione handed him the vial and he swallowed down three drops, then Harry copied him.

“Ready, set, start,” muttered Ron. He and Harry shared a small smile and Voldemort rolled his eyes again.

“This deal of yours seems very generous on my part, Potter. What did those muggles do to deserve this?” From the corner of his eye, he noticed the muggleborn write 9 on a piece of parchment. Ugh.

“Let’s just say that the Dursleys did a lot of damage that I’m still getting help for and recovering from.” Voldemort nearly growled. It looked like he was going to have to be more specific, otherwise he’d just be wasting questions.

“Elaborate, Potter. Exactly how did they hurt you and how often?” Granger wrote 7, even as she glanced nervously at her friend. His eyes betrayed no emotion, despite being slightly unfocused, but his mouth was trying to twist itself into a bitter smile.

“They made me live in a boot cupboard until I was 11 and only let me out to do chores or go to the bathroom. They only put me into the spare bedroom when the letters came because they were scared that they were being watched. They put bars on the windows-” Ron blanched, eyes wide. The twins were being truthful about that one, it seemed. “-and fed me through a cat flap. It wasn’t so bad after I learned to bake, but whenever I made a mistake, Vernon would beat me and throw me back into the room. Sometimes he makes up things just to punish me.” Harry stopped, head bowed low. It seemed like he was fighting not to speak, but Voldemort had asked and the Veritaserum was still in his system.

“Harry—” Ron tried, voice cracking with emotion. Harry continued.

“Aunt Petunia never really hurt me, but she did watch when her perfect, precious son, Dudley, made the game Harry Hunting with his friends. They would give me a minute to run and hide, then come after me and beat the stuffing out of me when they found me. If I wasn’t able to get home in time after Harry Hunting, I would be locked out. This is almost every day during the summer.” His chin was almost pressed to his chest, hands fisted in his lap and voice shaky. His entire frame seemed to be trembling, and it took everything within Voldemort to not hunt those muggles down right then and there. Harry seemed to wince a little, hand starting upwards before he changed his mind and gripped the chair instead. Voldemort took a deep breath, then another. How dare those filthy muggles hurt someone with magic in their veins? His voice was flat and very carefully controlled when he finally spoke.

“And you expect me to not harm them in any way until you say so?” Harry looked up and was surprised by the rage in those eyes. No one besides his friends cared enough to be angry for him. Next to them, Hermione wrote 6 on the parchment in an unsteady hand and Voldemort bared his teeth at her.

“Yes,” Harry said, then continued. “I want to be the one to hurt them. I want to see the hope in their eyes die when they realize that it’s me who has all the power, not them.” Voldemort forced himself to relax into his chair, still angry, but more in control.

“So says the Saviour,” he retorted somewhat thoughtfully, smirking when Harry straightened and glared at him. Ron and Hermione shared a glance when Harry opened his mouth to reply.

“He is no Saviour, Lord Voldemort.” Hermione told him, cutting Harry off. ‘Lord Voldemort?’ Ron mouthed. She rolled her eyes at him before raising her gaze to meet Voldemort’s. “He doesn’t have any sort of obligation to the Wizarding World, just because of some idiotic prophecy. Divination is stupid, anyway,” she muttered the last part, but Voldemort still heard her. He snorted.

“Alright, then. Six questions left?” Hermione nodded, and he turned to Harry. “How many muffins is a year’s supply?” Ron and Hermione shared another look.

“Baking God,” Ron said, nodding sagely. She laughed, turning it into a cough when Harry rolled his eyes at them.

“I can bake a batch every week for a year,” Harry offered. Voldemort stilled.

“What about the house elves?” He asked, wiping his mouth surreptitiously. A weekly supply of muffins? He would kill a small town for that.

“They love me—we’ve shared recipes before and Dobby practically worships me.”

“That’s why you always get extra treacle tart!” Ron exclaimed, then flushed redder than his hair. Hermione smothered a laugh, then wrote 4 on the parchment. Voldemort glared at her, and she raised an eyebrow.

“You’re the one who keeps wasting your questions, so don’t glare at me.” Voldemort glared harder. She rolled her eyes.

Ron leaned over to look at the parchment, then mumbled something under his breath and started counting off on his fingers. “Huh,” he said, finally. “You’re really on the ball, ‘Mione.” Voldemort sneered at him.

“I still have 4 questions left.” Hermione nodded.

“Choose wisely, Lord Vol-de-mort,” Harry said mockingly, though a smile played at the corners of his lips. Hermione’s head snapped over at him, eyes wide, and then she hurriedly wrote something down. Clever girl.

“You mentioned Number 4 Privet Drive. What of the wards? As much as it irks me, none with my mark can pass them.” Harry shrugged.

“That’s what shopping trips are for. The wards only apply to the property that I call ‘home’. They’re weak because it’s a shit home, but I still have to live there during the summers.” Harry clenched and unclenched his hands, then wove them together. “I don’t want to go back there,” he said, almost too quietly to be heard. Hermione’s heart broke a little, and she leaned over to give him a hug. Across the table, Voldemort’s eyes were no longer flaming with rage. He had descended into a cold fury, and promised retribution on every muggle that had hurt this child.

“They will die by your hand.” Voldemort stated, eyes cold. Harry wanted to protest and say that maybe killing people wasn’t the best option, but they were talking about people that had hurt him almost every day in every way they could think of. He wanted revenge, damnit! The trio nodded, then Ron raised his hand and waggled three of his fingers in the air.

“Three questions, bunnymort,” he said boldly, squeaking only a little and raising his hands in an ‘I’m innocent!’ gesture when the man across from him had his wand under his chin in less than a second flat.

“Say it again and I’ll ki-” he shot a glance at Harry, frowning when he realized that perhaps killing one of his friends might be counterproductive to getting his muffins. “-seriously maim you.” Ron, mildly terrified but amused at the split-second glance that he had managed to catch, raised his hands a little higher.

“Ask whatever else you need to,” Hermione piped up, hoping to draw Voldemort’s attention away from Ron. Thankfully, he lowered his wand, then stared at Harry, his brow furrowed. He was still angry, but threatening someone had made him calm down a little. It was of little hardship, then, to bottle it all up, to be released on someone who deserved it later.

“These… muggles. Where do they work?” Harry raised an eyebrow questioningly, still a little shaky, and Hermione scratched a two onto the parchment. “If I cannot torture them myself, then I will find someone who can. I would like to destroy their lives in a way that they can never come back from.”

“Petunia and Vernon both work at Grunnings. Ickle Diddykins,” he sneered, “won’t have to work until his parents realize that he’s dead weight around the house, which might not happen until his early twenties at the least.” Ron looked bitter, if only for the fact that Harry’s cousin, the arsehole, would be able to mooch off his parents for so long. Must be nice.

“Do you have a therapist or mind-healer that you visit regularly, Potter?” Voldemort asked. Harry looked a little shocked at the question, then slightly abashed.

“Er, yeah, but, well,” he said, trying his best to sink into his chair when Hermione cast him a knowing glance. He cleared his throat. “I-uh, haven’t seen her for… a year?” Both Voldemort and Hermione narrowed their eyes at him. “I swear it wasn’t on purpose,” he assured them. “It’s just that school got in the way and then I was too tired when the Dursleys let me out in the summer to actually go.” Hermione let out an exasperated sigh.

“Harry, you know we care about you, right? We really do want to see you get better.” Hermione said, and Ron nodded.

“Yeah, mate. You’re one of my best friends, but you don’t seem to value yourself any. It always scares me when you throw yourself into danger and I’m always frightened that… you might not come back from it one day.” Ron rubbed the back of his neck, the tips of his ears a light pink.

“You do have that habit. I may admire you for it, but it’s also worrying.” especially if there were no blueberry muffins, he thought.

“Aw, Voldie,” Voldemort’s eye twitched. “You admire me?” Harry asked, cheekily, trying desperately to change the subject. Hermione sighed, recognizing what her friend was doing.

“Last question, Voldemort.” Voldemort twirled his wand in his fingers absently, trying to settle on something dramatic enough to leave a lasting impression. Hmm… perhaps about Hogwarts? No, no, that’s not interesting enough. Maybe…

“What now, Potter?”

Chapter Text

Harry froze. Honestly, he hadn't thought this far ahead. Never in his wildest dreams had he even so much as contemplated Voldemort answering his letter, let alone actually meeting with him. He frowned.

“We actually have a few questions of our own, Voldemort, if you will answer them?” Harry asked, brows furrowed. Ron nodded.

“Fair’s fair,” he said. Voldemort sighed. Gryffindors and their fairness. He had already taken Veritaserum and, considering that he’d agreed to make a deal with the Golden Boy, the goody-two-shoes Gryffindors might not even think of asking about his horcruxes.

“I will answer your questions,” he said, waving his hand lazily, acting as though he was doing them a great favour. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“So, you’re immortal, huh?” Ron asked, eyebrows raised. Hermione shot him a glance.

“Yes,” Voldemort said through gritted teeth. He wondered if he could get away with a curse or three on the Weasley boy and looked at Harry, only to find him deep in thought. Perhaps he was actually considering his questions instead of running headfirst into danger like the Gryffindor that he was.

“The night you killed my parents—you asked my mum to step aside three times. Why?” Voldemort looked surprised, caught off-guard as he was by the question.

“You remember that?” Hermione asked, horrified. Harry nodded, fidgeting with his hands. Ron was looking at Harry with something akin to sadness. He knew of Harry’s nightmares, being in the same dorm, and was woken up often for the first few years until Harry learned silencing charms.

“Severus asked me to spare her.” The trio stared at him, surprised. He sighed. “Never let it be said that I do not honour my promises. The only thing I’ve failed in, thus far, is never being able to kill you,” he turned to Harry, who looked smug. “Honestly, it’s so much of a bother that I stopped genuinely trying. Your gift baskets were just the cherry on top.”

“Wait, you’re telling me that the bat of the school, that slimy git that obviously favours Slytherins, asked you to spare Harry’s mum?” Ron asked incredulously. Voldemort rolled his eyes.

“Obviously. They were best friends before he became one of my followers. Unfortunately, he never quite outgrew his infatuation with her.” Harry looked nauseous at that. “How many more questions do you three have, then?” Voldemort leaned back into his (increasingly uncomfortable) chair, looking bored. He casually cast a cushioning charm, nonverbally of course, and Hermione eyed him.

“How are you acting so sane?” Voldemort raised a brow. If he was being honest, he felt calmer and more clear-headed in this moment than he ever had since his resurrection. It was an odd feeling, and the more he contemplated it, the more he felt it might have to do with the teens in front of him. He had gotten the same feeling in Potter’s arms when he was being… petted by these Gryffindors. Perhaps it was just Potter himself? Vanquisher status, and all. This warranted further investigation. He did still have that kidnapping plan, but maybe…

Hermione watched Voldemort puzzle over the question, mildly surprised. It hadn't been long enough for the Veritaserum to have passed through his system completely, so perhaps even he didn’t know the answer.

“Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley,” Hermione straightened and Ron looked up from the game of hangman he was playing with Harry.

“‘Sup?” Voldemort’s eye twitched.

“I was planning to simply kidnap Potter here, but this would go much better if you two went along with it and perhaps even covered for him.” He held up his hand when Ron opened his mouth. “No, I’m not planning to kill or otherwise harm him. It’s proven to be a useless endeavor.”

“Does it have anything to do with what I asked you about your sanity?” Voldemort glared at her, even as his mouth answered for him.

“Yes,” he said. Hermione nodded knowingly.

“Scientific method, then. Alright! It is Hogsmeade weekend, after all. We’ll cover for you, Harry.” Voldemort looked pleased while Harry sputtered.

“Wh—Don’t I get a say in this?”

“Yeah, hang on! What would you even be doing?” Ron demanded, hands flat on the table.

“He would be back at Hogwarts by Monday to keep people from asking questions. I’m going to be doing a small experiment.”

“On his sanity,” Hermione supplied helpfully.

“Also,” Voldemort turned to Harry. “You would be able to bake, you may go where you wish inside the property, and, since I’m an adult wizard, albeit an outlaw, you can do magic in my manor.” Harry looked thoughtful. On one hand, this was clearly bribery. On the other, though, this was much more freedom than he had ever gotten outside of school.

“The library?” Voldemort looked surprised for a moment, then he smirked.

“I’ve had to expand the room thrice now, and there are books on ancient earth magic dating back to before christianity.” Hermione was positively drooling and Harry wasn’t faring much better.

“Wow,” Ron was grudgingly impressed. He was better with practical work than with book work, but books like that must have been incredibly well preserved.

“I’ll go!” Voldemort stood up, internally cheering, and held his arm out for Harry to take. As he stepped towards his (former?) enemy, Hermione cleared her throat.

“Harry,” Hermione said as seriously as possible. “If you don’t bring me with you next time, I will personally ensure that Draco Malfoy stays your rival.” The tips of Harry’s ears turned pink and Ron winced.

“Isn’t that a little harsh, ‘Mione?” Harry nodded vigorously.

“Maybe, but—” she waved a hand. “The point still stands. Now, have fun and read lots while you’re there!”

“Bye, mate!” Ron waved, and then Voldemort and Harry disappeared with a crack!

There was a moment of silence.

“So,” Ron said, turning to Hermione. “What are we supposed to tell the teachers?” Hermione sighed.

“I have no idea. Improvise?”

“Heck yeah!”

Chapter Text

When Voldemort apparated Harry to his manor, Harry wasn’t really sure what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. There were windows in almost every room and plush carpets covered the floors, so it seemed bright, spacious, and comfortable. It was everything a good home should have been, which confused Harry more than he’d like to admit. Harry eyed the tasteful drapes on the windows. The Dark Lord’s manor looked lived-in and comfortable. ‘???’ Harry thought, incredulous.

“What? Were you expecting a dungeon? Some bats? Maybe a skeleton or two?” Voldemort said drolly, having caught the look on Harry’s face. The corner of Harry’s lips turned up.

“Only two skeletons? I thought that Slytherins were supposed to be ambitious.” He wiggled his eyebrows and Voldemort snorted.

“Three, then. One for every guest bedroom.” Harry rolled his eyes, a grin on his face. Then, a house elf popped into the entry hall and bowed. Harry’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair. Hermione would not be happy about this, unless this elf was a free elf and being paid a proper wage.

“Welcome back, master.”

“Thank you, Rilsy. Would you be a dear and prepare one of the guest bedrooms for Mr. Potter?”

“Yes, master.” Rilsy bowed and popped away.

“You have a house elf?” Harry asked, curious. “You’ve heard of Hermione’s campaign?”

“S.P.E.W.?” Harry nodded. “The name is a stupid, but yes, Rilsy is a free elf.”

“And her wage?” Voldemort sighed.

“Yes, she gets paid, Potter. I’m not Lucius.” Harry hummed.

“Very well, then. Are you going to show me around, oh great Dark Lord?” Voldemort’s rolled his eyes, a smile playing at the corner of his lips.

“As you wish,” he said, and led the way through the house, pointing out a multitude of rooms with soft carpets and comfortable seating, as well as paintings of landscapes and portraits that greeted them as they passed. Finally, they reached the spotless kitchen. Harry was just about drooling in the doorway while Voldemort watched in amusement.

“I’ll be baking... in this? This paradise? This heaven on Earth?” Harry asked, something like awe in his eyes as he stumbled over to the oven. He opened it slightly, going weak-kneed at the sight of the polished, dark interior and stainless chrome racks. He leaned against the counter for support. “Holy shit,” he whispered, faint. He suddenly spun in place and locked eyes with Voldemort, then advanced upon him, arms extended as though to grab the snake-man. There was something in his eyes that made Voldemort a little nervous, especially when Harry clutched at his robes looking like a madman.

“Take me to the library.” Voldemort’s eyes narrowed. That sounded like an order, and were it not for the promise of a year’s supply of muffins, Harry Potter might have found himself in a right bit of pain. “Please,” Harry added when he saw the look in Voldemort’s eyes. “Please, if this is your kitchen… I need to see the library.” Voldemort, once more amused, made a show of considering it, then pried the boy’s hands off of his robes.

“I’ll take you to the library, Potter. Just stay away from the shelves in the very back and don’t grab me again.” Harry nodded eagerly, eyes wide. Voldemort backed out of the doorway and started walking, Harry matching his step.

“So,” Harry said, winking at a portrait and smiling when the occupant blushed and hid behind a fern. Voldemort rolled his eyes. “What’s in the very back of the library?”

“Dark books, Potter. Illegal spells, necromancy, blood magic, the like. The library is separated by subject, with history and law near the front of the library, herbology, creatures, runes, and potions on the left, transfiguration, magical theory, charms, arithmancy, and astronomy on the right. The shelves further back are warded to Hades and back, so—stop flirting with my portraits, Potter!” Harry waved at a trio of very fit blokes and sighed.

“It’s nice to know that at least one witch is organized. And, really, you must admit that they’re attractive.” Voldemort just looked at him. “Are you telling me that you didn’t notice that man’s gorgeous pecs?”

“First of all, isn’t a witch a girl?” Harry scoffed, but Voldemort continued. “Second of all, why do you think he’s on my wall, Potter? Of course I noticed.” Harry was suddenly very interested in what the snake-man was saying.

“Okay, one: witch is a gender neutral term. It always has been and always will be. Two: I didn’t know you were into men, Mr. Dark Lord.” Harry waggled his eyebrows and Voldemort rolled his eyes.

“For all that I look like a snake now, I was not always like this. And, no, it’s not specifically men. It’s been anyone that I find attractive, which sometimes happens to be everyone and sometimes happens to be no one. Can we talk about something else, and can you please stop ogling my portraits?” Harry sighed, but recognized that this was a conversation to be pursued later. Instead, he started rambling about Quidditch, ignoring Voldemort when he threatened to hex him and only shutting up when they finally reached the library.

Harry was close to tears. “Oh my gods,” he whispered. “It is Heaven.” He vanished into the bookshelves in a blink, leaving Voldemort to shake his head and pick up a book on law that he had been reviewing. And if anyone had been close enough to see, they might have noticed the smile on his face.

-----

It was later that night, when Harry had passed out on a book near three a.m. and Voldemort had levitated him into one of the guest rooms, that Voldemort really allowed himself introspection. The rage that he had locked up behind several layers of occlumency had cooled to a deep sadness, and it occurred to him that the boy’s circumstances were his fault. He had killed Harry Potter’s parents, he had made his life torture, and yet, Harry could still grin and joke with him like a friend. His brow furrowed. Fuck. Did Voldemort, as the not-quite-person he now was, even deserve this? Did he deserve kindness after everything that he had done?

He rubbed a page between his thumb and forefinger, more for the texture than anything else, and felt an unfamiliar emotion take hold of him. Was this guilt? Because if so, it sucked. It felt like something was gnawing at his insides, clawing him apart from the center of his being. It felt like he had failed his… ex-enemy (friend?) in the only way that mattered. Harry was… so fucking strong to live the life he had lived, and Voldemort had done nothing but get in his way and try to off him, and Voldemort suddenly, down to his very soul, regretted ever hurting him.

In a flash of light, the horcrux in Harry Potter returned to Voldemort and he, too, fell into a dreamless sleep.

-----

Voldemort woke up with a crick in his neck, a nose, and drying drool on his pillow. He sat up, and when he rubbed his head, he felt the beginnings of hair. A little confused, he yawned tiredly, stretched, then stumbled his way over to the mirror, still half-asleep. What he saw woke him up immediately, though.

-----

Harry woke up in an unfamiliar bed hearing screams echoing throughout the manor. He tripped on blankets as he frantically untangled himself, grabbed his wand, and ran towards the screaming. He burst through Voldemort’s door then paused, trying to process what he was seeing. They locked eyes, Voldemort’s wide in horror, and Harry slowly backed out of the room, closing the door as he went.

“What the fuck,” he whispered. Voldemort had magically gained a nose? He was also no longer completely pasty-white bald?? It just looked like he’d had a messy buzz cut??? “What the fuck,” he said again, louder. The portrait across from him giggled and waved, and Harry, wearing the same clothes he was yesterday and looking like a wreck, trudged back to the room where he had woken up, confused as ever.

He cleaned himself up, transfigured a few clothes, and took a detour to the bathroom to splash water on his face where he noticed that his scar was just… gone. Thoroughly confused now, he rubbed the skin where it had been and felt no pain nor any indication that it had been there in the first place. While his scar disappearing was probably worthy of a mild panic, all Harry could think as he rubbed the oddly smooth skin was that it was a bit of a shame to have lost something that looked so cool.

Suddenly, his stomach rumbled. He ultimately decided to put any thoughts about his disappearing scar on hold and wandered down the hallway in search of food. He met the not-pasty-white-or-bald-or-noseless Voldemort as he walked down the stairs, but neither of them said anything as they made their way to the dining room.

Voldemort, still in shock, hardly noticed the eggs and bacon that appeared when he sat down and began shovelling it into his mouth as though on auto-pilot. Harry, now mildly concerned for the (no longer snake??) man, cleared his throat.

“Are you alright?” Voldemort stabbed his eggs viciously with his fork, then gestured to his no-longer-bald head.

“Never better,” he said sarcastically, voice pitched a little too high. Harry bit his lip, not sure if he wanted to laugh or cry. The day was starting off fantastically, thank you for asking. Harry likened it to one of those roller coasters that went upside down and did loop-de-loops.

“Do you know what happened to you?” Voldemort set his fork down and closed his eyes, fingers clutching the edge of the table like it was a lifeline. A moment passed, then he mumbled something that Harry couldn’t quite hear. “Can you repeat that?” Voldemort opened his eyes with a grimace.

“I felt remorse, Potter,” he snapped. Harry still looked clueless, and Voldemort sighed. He had two options here. He could either keep Potter in the dark without revealing the secrets of his immortality, or he could tell him the truth. He winced, mentally taking stock of the foggy memories coming back to him and his miraculously restored sanity. “What do you know about horcruxes?” When Harry still looked clueless, he sighed again. “Finish your breakfast, then we’re going to the library.”

Harry cleared his plate in record speed, looking expectantly at Voldemort when he finished the last bite of egg. Voldemort rolled his eyes and stood up, called Risly to clean up, then led the way to the library.

“Horcrux?” Harry muttered to himself as they walked. “Horror crux? Horrible cross? Crux? Cross? Jesus? Hallelujah…” Voldemort rolled his eyes again.

“It’s a soul container, Potter,” he offered. “I kill a person, then rip my soul into two pieces and stick one of the pieces into an object or, in some situations, a creature.” He looked pointedly at Harry, who slapped a hand over where his scar used to be.

“Hang on. You’re telling me your soul was in my scar?” Harry asked, horrified.

“It’s not like I meant to put it there," Voldemort complained. "It doesn’t help that the soul in the diary decided to latch onto you after its container was destroyed.” Harry made gagging noises, but Voldemort ignored him. “Whatever new memories he gained are now mine, including you getting bitten by the basilisk. By the way, how are you alive?”

“Phoenix tears,” Harry murmured. Voldemort raised his eyebrows. This kid had survived both raw phoenix tears and basilisk venom? What kind of fuckery is this?

“I should really get a blood sample from you one of these days,” Voldemort said casually, eyeing the teen. Harry opened his mouth to retort, but Voldemort cut him off. “Oh, look! We’re at the library!” Harry closed his mouth sullenly, but trailed after him into the depths of the library. He watched Voldemort make a complicated movement with his wand, allowing him to pass the wards blocking the farthest wall of the library. Harry eyed the shelf. One of the books looked suspiciously like it was made of skin. Voldemort plucked a thankfully not-skin book from the shelf above and handed it over to him, then passed back two more books. Harry read the title of one, eyebrows raised.

“Secrets of the Darkest Art? Cute,” he remarked. Voldemort rolled his eyes.

“Turn to page 49. It describes the process involved, but not what happens if you make multiple, like I did.” It took a moment for Harry to process what he’d said, then he was looking at Voldemort like he’d grown a second head.

“You made—?! How are you even remotely okay?” Harry suddenly looked worried. “Is my soul okay?” Voldemort sighed, rubbing his temples where he felt a headache coming on.

“Let’s sit down, and then we’ll talk.” He led the way back through the shelves, taking a seat near the entrance of the library with a grace that would make Veela jealous. Harry, meanwhile, had swung his legs over the side of an armchair, and looked like he was trying to break his own spine through bad posture. “Now, then, Potter, I’ll answer your questions. Yes, I made multiple horcruxes. I suspect that, rather than breaking off only a small piece of my soul like I thought it would, it split it in half. As a result, after making the first horcrux, I was incredibly unstable. I had previously been existing with a full soul and was suddenly down to half, so my mental capabilities took a turn for the worse.”

“But now you’re okay? How much soul do you think you have right now—percentage-wise?” Gods, that was such a weird question to ask. Was “percentage-wise” even a word? While he was lost in his thoughts, Voldemort, across from him, had a thoughtful look on his face.

“I think I have just over half a soul right now,” he said slowly, pulling Harry back to reality.

“You said before that having half a soul made you go insane,” Harry pointed out.

“Yes, but that was when I had only known what it was like to have a full soul. Before I absorbed the horcrux in your scar—”

“Gross.”

“—I had maybe less than 1% of my soul. I don’t know the exact number right now because I’m not a human calculator, but, for all my dreams of immortality, I was barely alive. After experiencing what it’s like to have less of a soul than a dementor, I can say with confidence that over half a soul is pretty great, although I’m planning on absorbing at least half of my existing horcruxes.” Harry nodded.

“So, about your soul being in my scar.” Voldemort sighed.

“It didn’t affect you at all, to my knowledge.” Harry moved into a more normal sitting position, looking nervous. Voldemort was suspicious and kind of wary of anything that could put that look on his face.

“This might be a good time for me to tell you that I can talk to snakes.” Voldemort could feel that headache throbbing in his temples.

“You’re a parselmouth?” Harry shrugged, ever the clueless Gryffindor. Voldemort rolled his eyes. “Nagini,” he hissed. “Come here.” Harry’s eyes widened.

"That’s odd. I didn’t understand a word of what you just said.” Voldemort sighed for what felt like the hundredth time.

“I stand corrected. My horcrux allowed you to understand parseltongue.” Nagini slithered into the room and scented the air.

Master, who is the hatchling?

He was one of my soul containers. He used to be a Speaker, but the removal of my soul from him made him lose the gift.” Nagini scented the air again and curled up at Voldemort’s feet.

I might be able to give him the gift again, as your familiar.” Voldemort froze, shocked. He glanced at Harry who was watching their conversation with interest and no small share of impatience.

How?

I would have to bite the hatchling.” Then, sensing Voldemort’s reluctance, she said, “Not to harm. It would be like a familiar bond, but not the same.” Voldemort turned to Harry.

“Nagini thinks she has a way to give you the ability to speak parseltongue.” Harry blinked. “The only catch is that she has to bite you, but I do have pain relievers and healing potions.” He shrugged elegantly. “The choice is yours.” Nagini coiled in on herself, watching the hatchling. She would protect this one, she decided. He smelled interesting and a little bit like Master.

“It would be cool to talk to snakes again,” Harry said, which Nagini apparently took for agreement because, in the next moment, she had driven her teeth into his calf muscle through his trousers. Harry wouldn’t admit it—never, never ever—but he shrieked and nearly jumped a foot in the air until he remembered that he had fangs in his leg, oh fuck, and went utterly still. When she finally detached herself, Voldemort wordlessly handed him a potion and a bottle of pills. Harry stared at the bottle of pills in his hand with some measure of incredulity and amusement.

“They work and they don’t cause any bad reactions when taken with this potion,” Voldemort explained, handing him a glass of water a moment later. Harry downed both the pills and the potion, then leaned back in his chair.

Ow,” he hissed, deadpan. Nagini laughed at him and he pouted.

At least we know it works.” Harry nodded.

By the way, where are your followers? I haven’t seen anyone else around.

I don’t trust them with my personal manor, Potter. I’m not stupid.” He smirked. “They’re at one of my other properties that I was… gifted during the first war. It’s a castle that lives up to all of your expectations for a Dark Lord such as myself.

Even the skeletons?

Of course.” Voldemort cocked his head and cast a tempus, sighing when he saw that it was after noon.

“Let me guess,” Harry said in English. “It’s time for me to go back to Hogwarts?”

“Yes. Where do you need me to leave you at?”

“Hogsmeade is fine. I know a passageway in.” Voldemort cocked an eyebrow.

“Very well.” They stood, Voldemort offering his arm to Harry. When they landed in an alleyway in Hogsmeade, Harry let go of his arm. “Stay out of trouble, don’t die, and all that.” Harry laughed.

“No promises,” he said, and pulled what looked suspiciously like an invisibility cloak out of his pocket.

“I’ll send a letter through Snape, and I expect those muffins within the week, Potter.” Harry smiled at him, saluted, then disappeared under the cloak. Voldemort shook his head and apparated away.

Chapter Text

Harry exited the Hogsmeade tunnel into Hogwarts, the sun high in the sky and the students having just finished lunch, ready to spend the rest of the day doing whatever normal teenagers did. He ran into Snape on his way to the common room, remembering to silence himself this time, and he smirked when he saw that the man was carrying one of his chocolate tarts. 10 points to Potter!

When he reached the common room, he pulled off his invisibility cloak and entered through the Fat Lady’s (whose name is actually Juliet, mind you) portrait, making a beeline for his friends.

“Harry!” Ron waved at his friend. Hermione gasped, her head snapping towards where Ron was looking. They both stood, running towards him, hugging him, and then dragging him up to the dorm while he sputtered and the other students looked on in confusion. Dean, on the other hand, looked positively smug.

“Hand it over, Seam’. I told you they were in a threesome.” Seamus sighed and passed him a bag that clinked suspiciously, and the common room erupted in chaos. Harry just managed to catch an earful of Dean’s bold claim before Hermione cast the silencing spells, and he groaned. For the next few hours, he told his friends what had happened, trying not to look suspicious when Seamus came upstairs about halfway through to fetch his Wizarding Chessboard and eyed them surreptitiously.

Eventually, Harry came to the end of his recounting and begged for mercy and sleep, which earned him an eye roll from Hermione. She took down the silencing spells and shook her finger in Harry’s face.

“You aren’t getting out of this, Harry James Potter. I’m only saving my questions for tomorrow because it is rather late.” Hermione walked out of the dorm room and down the stairs, blinking when someone catcalled her. Her eyes narrowed.

Upstairs, Ron and Harry shared a look when they heard whistling and waited for the inevitable. Not a second later, they heard a yelp from the common room and sighed.

“Stinging hex,” Harry said, shaking his head, disappointed.

“So unimaginative,” Ron agreed. They locked eyes for a moment, then burst out laughing. When their snickers died down, Ron leaned back on his bed. “Are you actually going to sleep, or do you want to play some Wizarding Chess?” He waggled his eyebrows. Harry shrugged. It had been a pretty exhausting day, what with waking up to Voldemort screaming and then getting bit by a giant, terrifying snake.

“I think I’m actually going to sleep. Sorry, Ron, but it’s been a long day.” Ron nodded understandably and went back downstairs to play Exploding Snap. Harry put on his nightclothes, slipped under the covers, and fell asleep.

-----

It was late at night, but Voldemort couldn’t sleep. Nagini was sleeping peacefully on his lap, her coils gorgeous in the firelight, and he couldn’t help but feel a smidgen of guilt. She’s been his most loyal companion for years, and he’d rewarded her by sticking his nasty little soul into her? Granted, she was now more protected than she’d ever been and would live forever, but both of those were guaranteed with the familiar bond, anyway! She deserved much more than what he’d given her. Worse, he knew that he wouldn’t even be thinking of this were it not for the horcrux he’d absorbed. He sighed.

What if the woman he’d killed—Bertha Jorkins was her name, he recalled—had a family? Would they come seeking vengeance? She’d been so frightened before she died, and he frowned. It wasn’t a good death, no matter how much he tried to justify it. He patted Nagini’s head and, with every bit of himself, regretted Bertha Jorkins’ death.

There was no flash of light this time. Instead, all he felt was a sense of rightness, of coming home, as his soul began the slow process of knitting itself back together. More memories came back to him, and he closed his eyes to make sense of it all. He fell asleep like that, laying there with his eyes closed and Nagini on his lap, thinking of the memories that he’d lost and then regained.

-----

The next day, Voldemort woke up and knew he’d been too inactive. After calling his Death Eaters to his resurrection last year, he hadn’t planned any raids or nefarious machinations, and Potter was paying for it at Hogwarts, what with the Ministry employee Lucius had told him about being employed in the DADA position. He intended to rectify this immediately, so he glamoured himself and apparated straight to his castle.

“Bellatrix,” he called, striding into the main dining hall of the castle where his more faithful followers (read: the idiots who got themselves put in Azkaban) were eating breakfast. Upon seeing him, they all stood from the table and fell to their knees, and he rolled his eyes. “Stand up,” he snapped. Then, “Bellatrix,” he said again, and she looked at him with so much adoration that he felt a little uncomfortable. “I have a mission for you.”

“Anything for you, my Lord.” Voldemort definitely felt more than a little uncomfortable now. Before he'd absorbed his horcrux, he might have revelled in the attention, but now, in his right mind, Bellatrix's obvious obsession unsettled him.

“The object I entrusted to you—it’s in your vault, yes? I need you to bring it to me.” Bellatrix nodded fervently and made as if to leave. Voldemort rolled his eyes. “Not right now, Bellatrix. I must call a meeting first to discuss things of importance. Give me your arm.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

The meeting only lasted a few hours, but Voldemort felt that they’d covered every aspect he could think of. His Death Eaters weren’t to kill anyone or face his wrath, and even maiming would be kept to a minimum. Their goal was to terrify and announce his presence to the Magical World at large, not to kill and expose their existence to the muggles. As such, they would have to get much more creative with their spells. Some of his more violent Death Eaters looked mutinous, but they didn’t dare speak up for fear of getting crucio’d to within an inch of their lives.

When the meeting concluded, Bellatrix slipped away with the others and brought the cup back with her, holding it with seemingly no regard towards the value of the object itself. Voldemort’s eyes narrowed at her, and her hold on the cup tightened. She kneeled, then, and presented the cup like one would a sword, her eyes glittering with something that Voldemort should take pains to snuff out while he could.

“My Lord,” she said reverently, and he took the cup.

“Thank you, Bellatrix. You are dismissed.” He made to turn away, but her voice, tinged with desperation, stopped him.

“My Lord,” she said again, her eyes wide. “If there’s anything else I can do for you, please—I can make you some of those pastries you like, if—” Voldemort held up a hand, ending her rambling. As if anyone else’s baking could compare to Harry’s. There was also the issue of him having to hear her voice after he’d dismissed her. This was getting out of hand.

“You are dismissed.” His voice was firm, his eyes hard and unyielding. She pursed her lips and stood up, making her way out of the room with stiff steps as though she expected him to call her back. He did not.

-----

When Voldemort was certain that Bellatrix was gone, he sighed and apparated back to his manor.

Where he found Minerva McGonagall waiting for him.

He absolutely did not shriek. His heart was racing, and all she did was raise an eyebrow at him. She was in his sitting room with two cups of tea and a small tin of biscuits on the table next to her. She hadn’t even drawn her wand when he appeared, so it seemed that she didn’t intend to try her hand at killing him. He gulped. If she put her mind to it, she might just succeed.

“Minnie,” he said uncertainly, aware that his glamour had slipped as soon as he caught sight of her. She smiled at him, and he found himself somewhat out of sorts.

“Tom Riddle—Voldemort,” she gestured towards the seat across from her. “Please, sit. We have much to discuss.” He sat. She took a sip of her tea, amusement in her eyes as he fidgeted, feeling vaguely like a naughty student. He briefly wondered if he’d have had the same type of presence if Dumbledore had accepted him for the DADA position all those years ago. He doubted it. Voldemort cleared his throat.

“How did you find my house?”

“Your magical signature is a powerful one and very distinctive. Imagine my surprise when Harry Potter comes back from his mysterious disappearance with your signature on him.” Voldemort averted his eyes, cursing internally while he picked up his tea. Was he really that easy to find? What if Dumbledore—Minerva laughed. His eyes snapped up, and he found her leaning back in her chair, her teacup in front of her mouth as though she were trying to hide her smile. “I’m just poking fun at you. I followed the owl.” He turned to look at the window where a gorgeous snowy owl sat, gift basket firmly in her claws.

“Merlin, the boy actually delivered,” he breathed, setting his cup down and striding over to the window to let the bird in. He took the basket from her, delighting in the sight of the muffins. When he sat back down and placed the basket at his feet, he found that Minerva was smirking.

“Isn’t his baking like heaven?” He nodded automatically, only catching himself when her smirk widened. Then, she set her teacup down and crossed her legs, her smirk falling from her face in favour of replaced by a small frown. “Voldemort,” she said formally. He sat up straighter at her tone. “What are your plans for Mr. Potter’s muggle relatives?” Voldemort frowned, but the corners of his lips turned up when he heard her mutter “horrible muggles” under her breath.

“I cannot harm a single hair on their heads.” At Minerva’s look of disbelief, he elaborated. “I made a deal with Potter. I can’t touch them, but I can ruin their lives. I plan to have Lucius working on buying the company they work at. When summer comes, Potter will lead them beyond the wards and my people will move in to capture them and stage a capture for him. Then, I hand them over to him, no questions asked.” Minerva leaned back in her chair looking thoughtful.

“If you have the chance,” she paused, drumming her fingers on the table. “Talk to Arabella Figg. She’s a squib and a minor member of the Order. She lives near Mr. Potter’s relatives.” Voldemort raised his eyebrows.

“The Order of the Phoenix? I’m guessing that you’re a member as well?” Minerva pursed her lips and nodded. Voldemort smiled charmingly at her and tilted his head. “No chance that you’ll spy for me, too?” Minerva laughed.

“Not on your life, Tom Riddle.” She paused and waited until he took another sip of tea before continuing. “Unless you make an Oath to protect Mr. Potter from any and all harm, with your life if necessary.” Voldemort spat his tea out, and she grinned. The gobsmacked expression on his face was well worth it, she thought. It was odd that he had a nose and seemed to have hair, though. Living with children in a magical castle had its advantages, however, in that she could say with confidence that she’d seen weider things.

“You’re really willing to spy for me?” He asked, disbelief colouring his tone. When she nodded, he pulled out his wand. “I, Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Voldemort, give my Oath to protect Harry James Potter from any and all harm,” Minerva raised her eyebrows, “even at the expense of my life. So mote it be.” The magic in the air rose to a crescendo for a moment, then settled. Minerva looked mildly surprised.

“Well,” she said. “Now this is interesting. I truly did not expect you to do it.” Voldemort shrugged and took another sip of his tea, wandlessly cleaning up the mess he’d made in his surprise.

“A spy in the Order of the Phoenix that’s trusted by Dumbledore would be invaluable, Minnie. Severus isn’t nearly as trusted as you on account of his being a Death Eater that’s meant to spy on me.” He shrugged again. “You were also a good student in Hogwarts. A year above me, if I remember correctly.” Minerva nodded. “We never spoke, but you certainly had a reputation, both then and now.” They smiled at each other for a moment.

“I heard you travelled after you graduated. I’m sure it’s an interesting tale.” Voldemort chuckled and sat back in his chair, taking a biscuit from the tin when it was offered to him.

“Where to start…” Voldemort spent the rest of the evening regaling Minerva on the places he’d been and the sights he’d seen, spinning marvelous tales of how he’d met magical people and creatures the world over, from selkies to dragons to jackalopes. While he spoke enthusiastically about the Japanese Kodama, Minerva smiled to herself and took another sip of her tea. Perhaps the Magical World needed a little more shadow to contrast the light, and he was the perfect person to bring those changes to fruition. She only hoped that she was making the right choice.

Chapter Text

Near the end of the week, Voldemort found himself in his study going over paperwork while eating one of the many blueberry muffins he’d been gifted a few days before. Hufflepuff’s Cup sat off to his left, and he wondered for a moment how he might go about reabsorbing that particular horcrux. He sighed. Financial documents, reports, and detailed plans were spread across his desk like confetti, yet he couldn’t seem to be able to focus on that while the Cup sat next to him, the soul inside it beckoning to him. It practically begged him to come closer. It was like a gravitational pull; his soul was several nebulous galaxies slowly coming closer and closer together the more pieces he absorbed.

He sighed again and leaned back in his chair, rubbing at his eyes with one weary hand. Hepzibah Smith’s death wasn’t a good death, either, if he was being honest with himself. He’d framed a house elf, for gods’ sakes. The poor thing had probably been freed from the family and left without anyone to care for. A house elf without anyone to care for was practically a death sentence. The small creatures prided themselves on their ability to assist others, much like a Healer, and, without the mental stability provided in knowing that one was doing a good job, one might go insane. He hung his head in his hands.

What about the boy that was related to her, Zacharias Smith? He went to Hogwarts with Harry, and it was possible that he might have been able to have gotten to know Hepzibah Smith had Voldemort not killed her. He found himself thinking of his own father and regretted that he hadn’t even given the man a chance. With that thought, the horcrux in the cup came back to him and melded seamlessly with his broken soul, and he sighed in relief as the feeling of contentment washed over him.

After Voldemort absorbed the horcrux in the Cup, he felt strangely exhausted. He stalled a bit, signing off on financial changes and writing letters to his informants and supporters (and Harry Potter, but he might deliver that one personally), before finally heading to bed. He was out like a light as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Somewhere, a ring pulsed with magic, then lay still again, almost vibrating with anticipation. It had waited for years and could wait for years more. It knew the values of patience.

-----

Voldemort woke up. He was disoriented at first, then the memory of yesterday came back to him. He’d absorbed the horcrux in the cup and—gods, he’d framed a house elf for murder. Immediately, he called Risly.

“What is master be wanting?”

“I—Risly, thank you so much,” Voldemort croaked, his throat suddenly tight. Risly looked surprised, but nodded her head.

“Just doing my job, master.”

“No, I—” Voldemort sobbed then, and when he lifted a hand to his face, he seemed surprised to feel tears. Risly, meanwhile, was very alarmed. Her master had never done this before. Voldemort hiccupped and scrubbed at his eyes, his frame shaking as he cried.

“How can Risly be helping master?” Voldemort sucked in a ragged breath, briefly considering a Calming Draught, then thinking better of it. Calming Draughts forced a content state of the brain, but that would only cause him to push the memories to the back of his mind and try to forget about them. Better to let this out now than to let it fester. Maybe—

“Can you please bring me one of the blueberry muffins in the study, Risly?” His voice was hoarse. Risly nodded and snapped her fingers, disappearing and reappearing with a blueberry muffin in hand. Voldemort took it from her and just held it for a second, then took a bite out of it while tears ran down his face. The familiar flavour made him slump in his bed. “Baking God, indeed,” he muttered, taking another bite. Risly was relieved that the muffin seemed to be able to calm her master down. Voldemort took a deep breath then let it out, shaking less now.

“Is master be wanting anything else?” Voldemort shook his head, a few small crumbs finding their way onto his cheek. Risly smiled and disappeared with a small pop! Voldemort devoured the rest of the muffin and sighed, cleaning up the crumbs with a small wave of his hand. He then got out of bed and started getting dressed, sighing as he picked up a comfortable cotton shirt. He should probably start going through the pile of papers on his desk. Alternatively… he grinned. Another Hogsmeade weekend was drawing close. Maybe he could pay Hogwarts a visit.

-----

It was another Hogsmeade weekend and Harry was officially Suspicious™. There was a black bunny sitting innocently on the ground near the bookstore and it was staring at him. He got the oddest sense of deja vu, recalled that Voldemort’s animagus form was a black bunny, and pointed him out to his friends.

“Mate,” Ron whispered. “Is that—?” Harry nodded and walked over to the small ball of fluff. He picked him up and automatically started petting him, grinning widely at Hermione when her face paled.

“Hey, ‘Mione, d’you want to pet Voldie?” Hermione paled even more. The bunny in his arms shifted a little and chittered, then nibbled on his sleeve. Voldemort mentally cursed Gryffindors for being so warm. He was here for business, for gods’ sakes! But the heat of their hands was so pleasant…

“Potter,” Malfoy said loudly behind them, drawing everyone else’s attention. The trio turned around, faced with Malfoy and his ever faithful companions, Crabbe and Goyle. Snape and McGonagall, the unlucky teachers sent to keep an eye on the students, shared a glance and began making their way through the crowd that was forming around them.

“Malfoy.” Harry’s tone seemed calm and unbothered, but Hermione glanced at him. Voldemort narrowed his eyes when Draco Malfoy sneered at him, then at Potter. Honestly, to blatantly antagonize an enemy while everyone was watching? It was sloppy. He wondered briefly why the little Malfoy would go out of his way to do this.

“You’ve got a new pet, have you, Potter?”

“He’s not my pet, Malfoy.” Harry gently caressed Voldemort’s ears, and he relaxed into the warmth. The little Malfoy was annoying, but the Gryffindors’ hands were such a stark contrast to the winter air that he couldn’t help but be pleased with the heat. Unfortunately, Draco Malfoy did not know how to keep his mouth shut.

“Oh, just a stray, then? I thought Weasley would’ve been enough for you.” Voldemort was silently promising very painful punishment for the Malfoy brat when Severus and Minerva broke through the crowd. Severus’ eyes widened immediately in recognition while Minerva’s narrowed in suspicion. She only knew one person with eyes like that. They locked eyes and she shook her head. Who knew bunnies could smirk?

“What is going on here?” Snape snapped, his eyes on Voldemort while he lay in Potter’s arms. Malfoy glanced at Snape, then, his face twisting into something like distaste.

“I was just leaving, Professor. I wouldn’t want to get rabies from that… rodent.” Snape blanched, and Voldemort mentally revised his punishment of the small Malfoy to include his father. Harry, meanwhile, caught McGonagall’s eye and smirked. There was something mischievous in his expression that put her immediately on guard.

“Can we please bring him back to the castle, Professor? He looks cold and hungry.” Harry’s eyes were as wide and innocent as he could make them while Voldemort tried his best to look pathetic. It wasn’t hard to do in his bunny form; all he had to do was slump and pull his ears back. Minerva locked eyes with him and sighed.

“Very well. However, you must promise to find him a home by the end of the week, Mr. Potter.” The corners of her lips turned up. “What are you calling him?”

“He seems to like the name Voldie,” Harry said as earnestly as possible. Voldemort cackled internally when Minerva blinked. Severus inhaled sharply, looking like he wanted to throttle Potter. Voldemort sent him a warning look, and Severus took a step back unconsciously.

“Potter,” he said, faltering only a little when green eyes—so similar to Lily’s—turned to him. “It would do you well not to forget the needs of your new… companion. I will accompany you to the pet store to ensure that you don’t forget anything.” McGonagall looked surprised, then amused.

“Don’t torment him, Severus. Mr. Potter, do stop by my office when we get back to the castle.” She set about dissolving the crowd and Snape stepped up to them and grabbed Harry’s arm, jostling Voldemort in the process. He made a noise of displeasure, but settled down when Hermione reached over to hesitantly pet him.

“Are you out of your bloody mind,” Snape hissed. Harry shrugged. Snape lowered his voice. “Letting the Dark Lord into the castle? I’d thought your yearly escapades on Halloween were enough evidence of your stupidity, then you do something like this!” Voldemort huffed and wiggled his tiny nose. “I’m terribly sorry, my Lord, but Dumbledore will suspect something the moment you set… a paw… in the castle.” Voldemort chewed on Harry’s sleeve again, prompting the boy to pet him. If he were a feline, he’d be purring, he thought.

“With all due respect, sir, have you considered that you might be interfering with one of your Lord’s plans by questioning him?” Voldemort smirked. The boy was learning. Snape was noticeably silent for the rest of their trip.

-----

Hermione and Ron followed Harry into McGonagall’s office while he was still holding Voldemort, settling into the seats in front of her desk, the various bunny supplies shrunk in a bag at their feet. McGonagall cast quite a few privacy charms, even going so far as to lock the door, before she raised an eyebrow at the four of them. They fidgeted in silence for a moment, then Harry opened his mouth.

“Professor, I promise, I’ll find him a proper home by the end of the week—” McGonagall laughed.

“Mr. Potter, I’ve been a teacher for many years. I know when someone is omitting the truth. Now, why do you have an animagus in your arms?” Ron looked back and forth between them for a moment.

“The bunny is Voldemort, professor.”

“Ron!” Hermione cried, and Harry groaned.

“She already knew,” he told them, nodding at Voldemort. McGonagall leaned back in her chair and waved at hand at Voldemort, who hopped out of Harry’s arms and transformed on his way to the ground.

“Minnie,” he said warmly. The trio gaped at him, and McGonagall smiled.

“Tom Riddle, how are you?” Voldemort rolled his eyes.

“Really, Minnie, just call me Tom.” Ron’s jaw dropped. Voldemort took a biscuit from McGonagall and conjured a chair for himself, crossing his legs. “Now, I’ve arranged for a raid to happen on the 22nd. There will be no killing. It will be minimal harm done. The idea is to terrify the muggles and have it blamed on a mass-hallucination caused by a gas leak. The Magical World will know better, obviously.” McGonagall nodded, and the trio snapped out of their shock.

“Wait,” Hermione said, pinching her nose. “You know each other?” McGonagall poured them each a cup of tea while Voldemort answered.

“We went to school together.” Harry’s brow furrowed.

“You’re raiding a muggle town on the solstice?”

“Why do you have hair?”

“You have a nose?” The trio all spoke at once, and looked at each other. McGonagall took a sip of her tea, amusement bright in her eyes, while Voldemort sighed.

“Yes, I’m raiding a muggle town on the winter solstice. I’m telling Minnie this because we made an agreement—” he turned to her. “Speaking of, Lucius has been informed of my plans and is working on the purchase.”

“Good,” she said savagely, her eyes narrowed. Voldemort smirked. She was a good choice in ally. Ron eyed her bloodthirsty expression warily. He wouldn’t like to be the target of her temper, ever. Voldemort turned back to the trio.

“I have hair and a nose because I have been slowly undoing my past mistakes. Mrs. Granger was correct in assuming that something had interfered with my sanity, which I am now taking steps to fix.” Hermione preened, happy that she’d been correct and glad that Voldemort wasn’t going to kill her friend at a moment’s notice now. McGonagall sighed then, bringing their attention to her.

“I’m guessing that you didn’t come here just to catch up?” Voldemort shook his head. This would be the perfect opportunity to get the diadem out from under Dumbledore’s wrinkly nose.

“As much as I enjoy talking to you, Minnie, I’m here to collect something that belongs to me. It’s in the Room of Requirement, so I may need to guide you there, but it would be fantastic if I could take it with me when I leave.” Harry blinked.

“The Room of Requirement? Isn’t that—” Hermione elbowed him. Voldemort and Minerva raised their eyebrows. As the Head of Gryffindor, Minerva McGonagall had been aware of a multitude of students disappearing to the 7th floor for a while now, and she suspected that this Room of Requirement had something to do with it.

“What was that, Mr. Potter?” Minerva asked pleasantly, her eyes glittering dangerously. Voldemort shuddered. He definitely wouldn’t have had the same presence. Harry, in front of them, was looking pleadingly at Hermione. The jinxed contract shouldn’t apply to her because she’d made it, nor should it apply to him because he was the “teacher” or some such, but better safe than sorry, he thought. She rolled her eyes.

“Umbridge is only teaching theory in her class. There are no practical lessons, only essays and textbook work.” Both McGonagall and Voldemort looked confused by the apparent change in topic as well as angry that Umbridge wasn’t properly teaching, and Hermione continued. “Eventually, I decided that we, as students, needed to take control of our own learning. We made a group called Dumbledore’s Army. We have coins with Protean Charms on them to let us know when the next meeting is.” She glanced at Voldemort. “I based the design off the Dark Mark.” Voldemort smiled, pleased.

“You meet in this ‘Room of Requirement’?” McGonagall asked. Hermione nodded. “Very well. You three will escort Tom, here, to the Room. After that, Mr. Potter will show you out beyond the wards.” When Harry made to protest, she cut him off. “I know you have other ways of getting around, Mr. Potter. Your father was very much the same. Surely you know some hidden way beyond the wards?” Harry nodded sheepishly. McGonagall took another sip of tea and waved them out. “It’s almost dinner time, so you four had better hurry up. I will have you in my office tomorrow to talk about this… Dumbledore’s Army.”

“Thank you, professor,” Hermione said, and Ron and Harry echoed her. Harry silently promised to bring her a dozen brownies next time he saw her.

“When we get there, ask for the Room of Hidden Things,” Voldemort ordered. After the trio nodded, he transformed back into the black bunny and hopped into Harry’s arms when he leaned down. Together, they started heading for the Room of Requirement.

They met Snape on their way there, and he eyed them suspiciously, his gaze lingering on the bunny.

“Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley, and Potter, where do you think you’re going?”

“Hello, professor! I’m fairly certain that I saw the twins somewhere around the 3rd floor,” Harry said, pointedly ignoring Snape’s question. “I should have a double batch ready for you by tomorrow and I can deliver it before dinner,” Harry offered, ignoring his friends’ wide mouths. Snape sniffed at them and whirled away.

“Acceptable, but I want them before lunch, Potter,” he threw over his shoulder as he left, his robes billowing behind him. Once Snape was out of sight, Ron whistled.

“Did you just bribe the bat of the dungeons?” Harry grinned at him, and Voldemort was reluctantly impressed. The Gryffindor Golden Boy was turning out to be more Slytherin than he’d realized.

After a few minutes of walking, they finally arrived at the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy. Harry, holding Voldemort in his arms, paced back and forth in front of the wall across from the portrait three times. I need the Room of Hidden Things, Room of Hidden Things, Room of Hidden Things… The door appeared.

They stepped inside, the door swinging shut behind them, and Voldemort transformed back into human form.

“Follow me, but stay back when we get there. I don’t know how the horcrux will respond to me.”

“Horcrux?” Hermione echoed. Harry winced.

“I didn’t tell them that part. I assumed that you wouldn’t want more than one person to know about them.” Hermione glared at him for a second, then turned her determined gaze on Voldemort. Voldemort rolled his eyes.

“A piece of my soul, Ms. Granger. Feel free to search for more information in the library, though I doubt you’ll find anything.” He started walking towards the far corner of the Room, weaving around the piles of broken, cursed, and discarded things. The trio followed along behind him.

“A piece of your soul? Wait—Harry, the diary in second year wasn’t a horcrux, was it?” Ron asked Harry. When Harry nodded, Ron turned on Voldemort, fire in his eyes. “You possessed my sister!”

“It wasn’t as though I had any other options. She was the first one to write in my diary in over fifty years. She’s a pureblood, too, so she really should have known better. Honestly, if I’d had a choice, I would’ve liked to possess Harry, here, instead.” Harry blinked, then grimaced.

“Gross,” he muttered.

“The soul piece in your scar would’ve made me much more powerful, and I wouldn’t have had to steal your entire life force. No one dies, and I end up sane and all-powerful. Sounds like a win-win to me,” Voldemort said, shrugging. Ron, frowning, held out a hand towards Voldemort, who took it warily. Ron pinched him.

“That was for my sister,” Ron told him triumphantly when he yelped. Voldemort narrowed his eyes and turned his wand on him.

“Don’t test me, Weasley. I’m still a Dark Lord.” Ron gulped and whispered an apology just as they came upon the pile with the diadem.

As soon as Voldemort reached out for it, the diadem seemed to vibrate, then something came shooting out of it, screaming the entire time. In a small flash of light, the soul piece latched onto the main soul and Voldemort blacked out.

When he came to, it was to the voice of Harry muttering about “hiding the body”. He inwardly rolled his eyes, then opened them. The trio was standing around him in various states of distress.

“Oh, thank the gods, he’s alive,” Hermione sighed, relief evident in her tone. Harry and Ron, at her sides, spoke at the same time.

“What happened?”

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” he snapped. When they continued to hover over him, Voldemort rolled his eyes and pulled himself into a sitting position. He shook his head, taking stock of the memories he was regaining. For a split second, he caught the mental image of himself as Medusa and frowned, shaking his head when a small part of his soul seemed to snicker.

“What happened?” Ron repeated, head cocked like he was trying to figure something out.

“There are ancient enchantments on it from when Rowena Ravenclaw owned it, giving it a kind of magical sentience. It seems the diadem got tired of me,” Voldemort sighed tiredly. Hermione perked up, her head snapping towards the diadem.

“Is that—Ravenclaw’s Diadem? One of the lost Founders’ Artifacts? Can I touch it?” Hermione asked excitedly, her hands twitching towards it. Voldemort waved a hand from where he was sitting on the floor.

“Be my guest.” Hermione squealed, picking it up and marvelling over it, pointing out things to Ron while he told her the various legends surrounding the diadem. She responded in kind with whatever she’d found in books around Hogwarts, happily rambling on about the known history to a smiling Ron and did you know that her daughter is the Grey Lady? There was some sort of fight… while Harry and Voldemort watched. Ron and Hermione looked really happy just to hear the other speak.

“I wish I had something like that,” Harry said quietly to Voldemort. Voldemort turned to look at him, both eyebrows raised. Then, something clicked. He smirked.

“Are you thinking about the little Malfoy?” Harry flushed and rubbed the back of his neck. Voldemort chuckled. “Is that what your rivalry with him is? Pulling pigtails, Potter?” He teased, smirking when Harry flushed even more.

“Shut up,” Harry muttered, his face as bright red as a tomato.

“Yule is coming up, isn’t it? You should send him a gift.” Harry’s face brightened immensely at the mention of the holiday.

“I already have something planned! Draco means dragon, so I got him a black winter cloak with dark blue lining and a silver dragon on the back,” Harry told Voldemort excitedly, going into detail about what it was made of and who it was made by, enthusiastically describing the warming and protection charms he'd carefully woven into it while Voldemort listened, nodding at appropriate intervals and debating with Harry about the durability of silk vs cotton vs linen. Eventually, Voldemort stood up and stretched, and Harry asked Ron and Hermione to go on ahead while he brought Voldemort to the Hogsmeade tunnel.

When they reached the edge of the wards, Voldemort turned to Harry. He shook his finger in Harry’s face sternly.

“Muffins,” he said, and apparated away. Harry laughed.

Chapter Text

A month passed, and it was finally time for the raid. Harry’s letters to Voldemort had become increasingly angry about one Dolores Umbridge, but Voldemort knew he couldn’t do anything about her until she slipped up. There was no doubt that she would make a mistake eventually, and Voldemort was just biding his time. In the meantime, he had a muggle town to terrorize and he knew just the target. It would send a message to Dumbledore while, at the same time, allowing him to get to one of his horcruxes.

Little Hangleton.

His Death Eaters were under strict orders not to kill and to keep maiming to a minimum or else while he retrieved the ring from the ruins of the Gaunt shack. He left them on the road in front of the Riddle house, glamoured to hell and back, and just shook his head when the screams started. Hopefully they weren’t stupid enough to disregard his orders.

Taking down the wards surrounding the shack proved to be an interesting exercise in knowledge, given that he’d never expected to have to come back here, but they were no more challenging to him than a sudoku puzzle. After they were down, he made his way inside, sneering in disgust at the snake that had been nailed to the door.

He pried the floorboard up with a crowbar that he’d enchanted himself—muggle movies made it look fun and, who knew, they were right—and levitated the box holding the ring out of the rotten hole. The enchantment and curse he’d spelled on it to protect it were alluring, even to him, but he ignored the call as he dismantled them, slowly and precisely.

Finally, the ring was in his hands. His soul sang to him, and he considered absorbing it while his Death Eaters terrorized the muggles, but decided against it. The danger of passing out was too great, especially because this was one of the earliest horcruxes he’d made. He stepped back from the hole and slipped the ring into his pocket, only to dodge out of the way of a bright red light. Stupefy. Wordless, too. He whirled around, snarling when he saw Dumbledore, wand drawn, standing in the doorway. If the Order of the Phoenix wasn’t here yet, they would be here soon.

“Hello, Tom,” the old fool said. He peered at Voldemort through his half-moon glasses, his eyes glittering. “Fancy seeing you here. You wouldn’t happen to be planning to absorb that piece, would you?” Voldemort ignored the question, casually sliding the enchanted crowbar into a pocket that he’d cast an extension charm on and readying his wand.

“What are you doing here, Dumbledore?” Dumbledore waved a hand at the shack around them.

“I was just exploring the area, enjoying the weather, when I found this lovely little house.” Voldemort scoffed at the blatant lie. He didn’t have time for this and Minerva might kill him if he so much as injured the headmaster. He whispered a spell—a full-body shielding charm that was very powerful and very Dark—and stepped past Dumbledore, sneering when he felt, more than saw, another stupefy dissipate against his shield. As he came through the doorway, one of his Death Eaters ran up the path to the shack.

“My Lord,” he yelled. “The Order of the Phoenix is here!” Voldemort cursed, striding away from the shack without sparing Dumbledore another glance, and took the man’s arm.

Retreat,” he hissed to the Dark Mark, and he heard the tell-tale crack! of apparation, then yelling. He glanced back at Dumbledore, smirking when he saw the calculating gaze levelled at him.

“Happy Yule, Headmaster,” he called mockingly, then apparated away.

-----

It was Yule, and Dumbledore wasn’t in the castle. Harry wasn’t particularly bothered, but he knew that Voldemort had planned a raid on some town today. Professor McGonagall would probably know more, but she’d disappeared after breakfast when a phoenix patronus appeared in front of her, her face pale.

He sighed, fiddling with one of his gifts. It was a cloak, not unlike the one he’d gotten Draco, but the problem was that he had no idea who it was from. The cloak itself was gorgeous, dark green and fur-lined with a lightning bolt on the back, and it’d been in a small, obviously expensive box with a silk ribbon, but there was no note that said who it was from. He’d put it on after checking it for anything harmful, and it had been saturated in warming charms and soft to boot. He sighed again.

He hoped the cloak was from Draco.

-----

Voldemort was in his study, staring at the items in front of him. His hair was starting to come in properly now, rather than in weird chunks, so he’d glamoured himself and gotten a proper buzz cut so that it was all the same length. It was kind of annoying to have hair again, but with his nose back, he guessed he could qualify as—what had the magazine said again?—“roguishly handsome”. He rolled his eyes.

Hufflepuff’s Cup and the Gaunt Ring innocently sat on the desk in front of him, and he began mentally preparing himself to absorb another horcrux. The soul in the ring sang to him, beckoning, and he closed his eyes.

When he’d killed his father, he hadn’t given the man a single chance to prove himself to him. They hadn’t exchanged a single word; he’d simply walked into the Riddle house at the top of the hill and murdered his father with a single Avada Kedavra without speaking a word. The what ifs overwhelmed him now, bringing tears to his eyes.

What if the man had taken him in? What if his father had accepted him and taken pride in having a son? Would they have spent time together? Played catch? He scoffed, scrubbing at his eyes and smiling sadly. His chance for any of that was gone as soon as he’d raised his wand at the man, and he found that he regretted not giving him a chance. He regretted that it had taken him nearly half a century to do this.

The soul piece in the ring returned to him, lighting up the room in its delight as it got reabsorbed. Voldemort passed out at his desk. Unbeknownst to him, the stone on the ring shined an eerie red and two ghostly apparitions formed, smiled at him fondly, scowled at each other, and disappeared back into Death’s Realm.

That night, Voldemort dreamed of his mother smiling at him.

Chapter Text

Voldemort,
What happened during the raid? McGonagall won’t tell me, and I’m really curious. :(
The Muffin Man
P.S. Have you considered going to Gringotts? Neville mentioned that they can do inheritance tests there, and I thought you might like to see the Slytherin vault, or whatever is left of it.

Mr. Muffin Man,
Dumbledore and his little Order showed up while I was claiming another one of those pieces I’ve told you about. It was annoying, but nothing worth being concerned over.
I’ll admit, I never considered getting an inheritance test done, nor did I think that I might have a vault under my family name. I’ll look into it.
Voldemort

Voldemort,
Here’s your next batch xoxo

Harry Potter, you little genius!
It seems the Riddles can trace their blood back to an old pureblood squib line—the Fawleys! Unfortunately, the Slytherin vault had little but dust and some trinkets due to the Gaunts’ mismanagement of the funds. On the other hand, I had a hefty amount of money from the Fawleys. Curiously enough, they never disowned my ancestor, possibly because they could still have magical children? In any case, I can create an entirely new and legal persona with this knowledge! I claimed my inheritance while, at the same time, creating a new identity with which to conduct public affairs. My new name—
Corvinus Fawley

Snape stared at the letter in his hand, his mind spinning. His Lord was a Fawley? If he remembered correctly, the Fawleys were part of the Sacred 28, meaning that, while he had the title of Slytherin, he also had the affluence and wealth of the name Fawley behind him. He wondered what this might mean for the politics of their world. If his Lord were to try to infiltrate the Ministry from within, he might be able to bring the Magical World to its knees in one swift move.

He folded the parchment and slipped it back into the envelope, repairing the wax seal with a wave of his wand. He sometimes lamented being the middleman for this, but he had to admit that it had its perks. Information was always a useful tool. He stood, prepared to hunt down a certain Gryffindor, when he heard a knock at the door. When he opened it, it was to the sight of the exact menace he was about to go searching for with a basket in hand.

“Hello, professor,” Potter said cheerily. “I have another delivery for you!” He glanced down at the letter in Snape’s hand and grinned. “Trade?” Snape passed the letter over and took the basket, glowering at his student while trying not to drool over the chocolatey goodness that he could just about smell.

“One might think you’ve been spying on me, Potter,” Snape drawled, cocking an eyebrow. It was odd that the boy had shown up at his door just when he’d thought to go looking for him. Potter just grinned at him and tucked the letter away, shaking his head.

“I wouldn’t dream of it! Have a good day, professor!” With that, he saluted and disappeared into the dungeons, whistling as he went. Snape shook his head and closed the door, setting the basket down on an accent table near the fire. A mystery for another day, perhaps.

Harry took the Marauder’s Map from his back pocket and tapped it.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” The map unveiled itself before his eyes, ink blooming in names and footsteps across the parchment, revealing the whole of Hogwarts. With Hermione’s help, he’d modified it so that, were he needed in other places, it would alert him by tagging the person that needed him. It was a tricky bit of magic, heavily dependent upon what he considered important. He’d gotten the idea from one of Voldemort’s books. The enchantment was based on the mindset of the caster at the time of the casting. Someone skilled in the art of mind magic, such as Voldemort himself, might be able to use the enchantment for more interesting things, but for Harry, this was enough.

The map could alert him if his friends or fellow students were hurt and needed help, or, in this case, if Snape had a particularly interesting letter for him. The map didn’t tag him for small notes or anecdotes, but this envelope felt a bit thicker than they usually did and he had an inkling that it might be something that brought the magical world by storm.

He made his way back to the common room, humming a tune that he couldn’t quite remember the name of.

Corvinus Fawley,
Nice name! I think it’s really funny that it means “crow birdhunter”, though. Do you hunt crows, or are pigeons more your style? I know which one London has more of, so maybe you should put your name to good use and get to work!
Your Muffin-Dealer

Muffin-Dealer,
I’ll have you know that Corvinus is a very old and respectable pureblood name. I chose the name because one of Gaunt ancestors possessed it and it was a far better choice than Morfin or Marvolo, both of which are recognizable as belonging to the Gaunt family. Fawley, on the other hand, is part of the Sacred 28. Mock my name all you like, but know that my name has power that yours does not, Harry James Potter. (Do you make pots for a living, James-son? Asking for a friend.)
Corvinus Fawley

Harry read the letter and laughed. Only Voldemort would be able to pull off being haughty through a letter. He could just imagine the arrogant tilt of his lips as he said “I’ll have you know…” and showed his friends, grinning when Ron slung an arm over his shoulder, raising his eyebrows when he read Muffin-Dealer.

“Corvinus Fawley? Doesn’t that mean—”

“Crow birdhunter!” Harry laughed, high fiving Hermione when she snorted out a laugh. “I said the exact same thing when I first read it!”

“He’s right about it being an old pureblood name, though,” Ron pointed out, frowning a little. “With a bloodline like that, he would have more allies than enemies in the Wizengamot…” Harry looked shocked for a moment, then alarmed. His eyes shot to Hermione.

“What if he’s planning to take over the government?”

“Who?” The trio’s heads swivelled around to look at Neville, who had just come into the dorm room through the door. Immediately, his face was in flames, and he rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it’s just that I came upstairs and I couldn’t help but overhear—” he cleared his throat.

“Neville,” Hermione said seriously, taking her wand out. Ron and Harry glanced at each other. “I must ask you to swear an Oath before we tell you anything. This is important. All I can tell you is that it has to do with the Dark Lord.” Neville visibly gulped, his eyes on Hermione’s wand. Ron could empathise. She was a very powerful witch in her own right, and very terrifying with that look on her face. It was kind of hot, though.

“T-The Dark Lord?” Before their very eyes, Neville visibly steeled himself, pulling on all that Gryffindor courage to square his shoulders and harden his gaze. He’d grown over the last five years from being that terrified little boy into someone that Harry admired, and it seemed that the Sorting Hat really was right. Harry wondered what it said about him that the Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin. “I want in,” he told them, and Harry grinned.

“Excellent! Your Oath, please, dear Neville.” Neville raised his wand, a little nervous, and made an Oath not to repeat anything the trio told him within this room tonight without their express permission. When he was done, all three of them visibly relaxed and smiled at him.

“So,” Hermione said, getting down to business, “Lord Voldemort is no longer insane, he has a new name, and we think he might be planning to take over the government, but Harry will have to double check that one.” Neville was gaping, looking like a fish out of water, and Harry giggled at his expression. Ron smirked, his eyes amused as he leaned forwards.

“Also, Harry sends him pastries every week. He bakes them himself down in the kitchens.” Neville stared at Harry, his mouth opening and closing soundlessly. Harry covered his mouth with one hand, his shoulders shaking.

“They also have a regularly occurring correspondence. We have a letter from the Dark Lord right here.” Hermione lifted the parchment for Neville to see, and Harry wheezed when his eyes somehow widened even more.

“What’s You-Know-Who’s new name?” Neville asked quietly, wary of the way that Ron’s smirk widened.

“Corvinus Fawley,” Ron told him, and Harry had tears of mirth rolling down his face when Neville gasped.

“Fawley? But, that’s—”

“One of the Sacred 28,” a new voice said from the doorway. All four of them looked up, and Ron groaned when he saw the twins.

“How long have you two been listening?” His voice was resigned. Fred and George shrugged in sync.

“Long-”

“Enough,” they said, closing the door behind them and plopping down onto the ground in front of the others.

“So,” the first one said. Harry couldn’t tell which he was, so he just decided to call that one Gred and the other Forge. At least they both responded to one or the other. “What’s this about Voldemort taking over the ministry?”

“It’s just a theory,” Hermione told them, shrugging.

“His name and bloodline would have more power in the Wizengamot than anyone else, except for maybe Dumbledore, and that’s a strong maybe.” Ron shook his head. “Half of them would be scared of him and what he could do with his influence, while the other half would practically fall over at his feet.”

“Oof,” one of the twins deadpanned and the other laughed.

“Harry’s sending letters to him, yeah?”

“Ask him what he plans to do.” Ron opened his mouth, then paused.

“Now, why didn’t we think of that?” He exclaimed, pulling out a spare piece of parchment and quill from seemingly nowhere and handing them to Harry. “Go on, mate, ask him.” Harry rolled his eyes but penned the letter anyway.

Corvinus,
Please tell me you aren’t thinking of taking over the Ministry. That would be foolish.
Harry

The newly-named Corvinus Fawley raised his eyebrows at the two sentences. The Ministry? He hadn’t even considered going into—he shuddered—politics. Should he? Lucius would help him, and with his death eaters in strategic places, he might be able to completely dismantle the system and rebuild it into a proper democracy. He put the parchment down and stared dispassionately at the towering pile of forms and letters he had to go through. Taking over the Ministry was too much work, he decided. It would require yet more paperwork.

Harry,
Absolutely not. Don’t be ridiculous.
Corvinus

Everyone, having settled in a ragged imitation of a circle around Harry, heaved a sigh of relief.

“I’m a little confused. What was the point of changing his name and all that if not to go into politics?” Ron asked, tilting his head. Harry shrugged.

“Maybe he just wanted another name to go by. ‘Tom’ is hardly a pureblood name and ‘Lord Voldemort’ is a mouthful.” He shrugged again, a gleam coming into his eyes that made Ron and Hermione wary. “I’m going to call him Crow for fun.” They groaned.