It wasn’t that Harry didn’t want to help the bloke, it was that he’d promised his fathers that he would take good care of their store when they went on vacation for the first time in almost two decades. Sure, they’d taken him on various trips, but they hadn’t taken time just for themselves since they’d adopted him when he was barely a year old.
And the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the rarest items in the whole store. It was so precious that Albus had even combined it with the Mirror of Erised to ensure that only someone truly worthy could acquire and purchase it.
So far, only Albus and Harry could remove the stone - even Gellert had difficulty resisting the temptation. Not that Harry blamed him. It had been created through the sacrifice of thousands of human souls, after all. It sounded positively delicious. But Harry had no interest in immortality or heaps of gold. He’d live long enough as it was, and he’d much rather earn his own gold, thank you very much.
“It would be the right thing to do,” Harry mused. “Papa taught me all about morality.”
Quirrell nodded eagerly.
“But Father taught me better.”
Quirrell let out a sob.
“It’s not that I don’t sympathize with your position, you understand. It’s just that you’re not the right one to own the stone.” He winced at the expression on the man’s face. “Though you might want to figure something out sooner rather than later,” he continued, eyeing the bags under Quirrell’s eyes and the way his hands trembled. “I don’t think you have much time left.”
“You seem to know a lot about demons,” A voice hissed from behind Quirrell.
Harry blinked. “Oh, well, I had a good education, I suppose.”
“Turn around, Quirrell. I wish to speak with him.”
“M-Master…” The man unwound his turban, then turned, revealing a serpentine face protruding from his skull.
Harry tried not to cringe. It looked… uncomfortable. For both of them. “Lord Voldemort,” Harry tilted his head. Because there were only two serpent demons in existence, and one of them would never leave his realm. “Quite the feat, finding your way to the human realm. I’m impressed, I won’t lie. Not many demons make it this far.”
“You know who I am? Then you know that I am no lowly demon,” the spirit hissed.
“No,” Harry’s lips quirked. “No, you are not.”
“You look familiar, human. What is your name?”
Harry blinked. “Name’s Harry. Pleasure to meet you.”
The demon eyed him. “There is something about you,” he murmured. “Have we met before?”
Harry shrugged. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember if we had. Hard to forget a presence like yours.”
Voldemort preened, a smug smirk twisting his lips. “Indeed, I am the most powerful of demons,” he agreed.
Harry nodded with an appropriate amount of awe.
“And yet, you do not seem afraid…”
“Oh, well, you’re not stealing my life force, and I haven’t made any deals with you, so I’m not too worried. Not that you’re not fearsome and scary and all,” he added hastily when the demon narrowed its eyes. “It’s just that, well, I’m just Harry. I run a shop and - er, that’s about it. There’s nothing particularly interesting about me.” Great job, Just Harry. Not suspicious at all.
The demon chuckled. “So you say,” he murmured.
Harry swallowed a little nervously, but did not let his expression give himself away.
“Very well, I will leave you be for now. Quirrell, I do suggest you hurry with your efforts. Time is running out.”
The man whimpered as he redid his turban and scurried from the shop.
Harry sighed as he watched them go. Lord Voldemort, now in the human realm. He ruffled his hair in exasperation. Honestly, he’d been doing such a good job keeping his head down, just as he’d been taught. The less people knew about him, the easier it would be to slip under the radar.
It wasn’t that he needed to hide, per se. It was just… easier. Calmer. And while he didn’t mind a little bit of chaos and destruction every now and then, mostly he wanted to simply enjoy his life.
Of course it was just his luck that Lord Voldemort of all demons came waltzing into the shop, demanding the one item he couldn’t sell. His papa and father leave on their first trip and then this happens? They were going to smother him when they returned…
He supposed he could just let the poor man have the stone, but he also wanted his fathers to be able to trust him to run the store properly. If he just handed out items like they were candy, they’d be very disappointed in him. Just the thought of his Papa’s disappointed expression made his insides curdle. The man may be an angel, but he manipulated like the very best of demons. Father’s destructive anger was far easier to face.
Perhaps, Harry thought a little desperately, Quirrell would simply look elsewhere and they would forget about the stone altogether. Lord Voldemort could easily form a body for himself, as powerful as he was. The demon was just tormenting the poor soul - probably for his own entertainment. So it wasn’t like Harry was making an enemy of the demon or anything.
But if Quirrell was desperate enough - and he probably was, considering he probably only had a few weeks of life left - then he might try and steal it. Which meant Harry needed extra security measures. Papa had never put many up, believing in the goodness of people to keep the shop safe. Father had added a few of his own but was far better at breaking wards than raising them.
Harry groaned and rubbed his face. Why couldn’t everything just stay nice and simple?
Harry woke to the sound of three dogs barking and a shrill scream. He got up with a sigh and grabbed his robe, donning it over his book-patterned pyjamas (a gift from Hermione). He crept downstairs and through the door into the store, then watched in resignation as Fluffy snapped at the ankle of a fleeing Quirrell.
“D’you think I should hire a troll to guard the shop?” Harry asked, scratching the back of his head as he sank down onto the couch in his living room. “I promised Hagrid I’d have Fluffy home by the end of the week, but I’ve had two attempts at robbery so far. Eventually the thief is going to figure out how to get past him.”
“Ron got a Troll on his history exam,” George snickered from where he was sitting next to Fred. “You could just hire him.”
“I’ve got some plants you could use,” Neville offered.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, trying not to think about the last one Neville had shown him. “Does it shoot sap?” He hedged.
“Oh, no, it’ll strangle any intruder, though.”
“Er - maybe I’ll pass. It’s not like I want to kill them…”
Neville shrugged unconcernedly.
“You can’t kill a demon, Harry, only exorcise them back to their realm.” Hermione frowned. “You should know that.”
“I do,” Harry defended. “But he’s riding on the back of some poor bloke’s head.”
“Like a parasite?” she wrinkled her nose.
“Yeah, it’s a little awkward.” He sighed, closing his eyes and leaning back onto the couch.
Neville’s shears snipped away in the background.
“You alright there, mate? Looking a little peaky.” Ron squinted at Harry.
“Just tired,” Harry waved a hand.
“You sure? Maybe you need to eat.”
“Not everyone has an endless stomach like you, Ron.”
“It’s a gift,” Ron nodded sagely.
“But really,” Hermione frowned, “When was the last time you ate?”
Harry blinked. “Macnair.”
“Mate, that was a month ago!”
“I’ve been eating human food…”
“That’s not the same! You’ll get sick if you go for too long without,” Hermione scolded. “You need to take proper care of yourself. What would your fathers say if they saw you neglecting your health like this?”
Harry winced. “You won’t tell them, will you?”
“Not if you keep yourself properly fed.”
“Alright,” he sighed. “I’ll check out the prison tomorrow night. I’m too tired to go out right now.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “I don’t like you hunting such dangerous prey. What if you get hurt?”
Harry shrugged. “Their souls are the most corrupted.” He grinned, his teeth suddenly a little sharper. “They taste the best.”
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“I’ll go as backup,” Ron said, patting her shoulder and winking at Harry.
She nodded reluctantly.
“I can give you a plant to bring along for protection,” Neville offered, finally looking up from his pruning.
Harry eyed the snapping leaves warily. “I think I’ll be alright. Might forget it there if I’m not careful…”
“Alright,” Neville nodded, stroking the plant and avoiding its teeth with disturbing ease.
“Thanks anyway,” Harry said, not wanting to sound ungrateful.
Neville waved him off.
“So,” Hermione picked back up. “What are you going to do about your thief?”
“He’s not my thief, he’s just a thief.”
“I dunno, he’s really only after your store…”
Harry sighed. “I guess you’re right. Maybe I’ll set up some traps or something. Uncle Sev taught me how to make this poison. I could mix that with a redirection spell on the mirror…”
“I thought you didn’t want to kill him?” Fred quirked a brow.
“Oh,” Harry paused. “Right.”
“You’ll think of something,” George assured him.
“I hope so,” Harry said. Though really, if Lord Voldemort actually wanted Quirrell to steal the stone, Harry doubted there was much he could do. He’d just have to hope that Lord Voldemort really was just playing with his victim and did not truly care.
"If anyone tries to come into the store at night, you club them with - er, your club. Got it?" Harry said, wrinkling his nose against the smell.
The troll grunted, stared at Harry, then narrowed his eyes and raised its weapon.
"Not including me!" Harry yelped.
“Er, no, sorry, but I’m not going to give you any of my blood.” Harry gave Quirrell an odd look. Did he look that stupid? Ginny said he did, but then they had just broken up, so Harry wasn’t sure if he should believe her or not.
“B-But it’s the only way,” The man wailed.
“Why would you need my blood, anyway?”
“Y-You won’t g-give me what I need! Y-You’re m-m-my enemy!”
“Right…” Harry stared at him, feeling a little concerned. “Are you alright? You seem… stressed…”
Quirrell gave a loud sob and Harry shifted uncomfortably. He’d never been too good with the whole ‘comforting’ thing. Albus was great at it, but Harry was a bit more like Gellert. The most he could do was offer an awkward pat on the back and perhaps a ‘there there’ that didn’t sound too insincere.
“O-of c-c-c-course I’m n-not okay!”
His stuttering was getting worse, Harry noted. The sneakscope on the counter whirred and lit up noisily.
“I-I’m g-g-going to d-die, and it’s a-all y-y-your fault!”
“Um, way to shift the blame,” Harry frowned. “If you didn’t want to be saddled with this task, then you really shouldn’t have gone around making deals with demons. I mean, really, that’s just common sense.”
Quirrell was crying now, and if Lord Voldemort hadn’t been riding on the back of his head, Harry would have been tempted to eat his soul just to be rid of him. It wasn’t quite corrupted enough for his taste, but he’d do it if it meant getting Quirrell to leave him alone.
“Fool. If he will not give you his blood, then you must simply take it.” Lord Voldemort spoke up finally, seemingly at the end of his patience. Quirrell’s blubbering tended to have that effect.
“Er, I’d rather you didn’t, if that’s alright,” Harry scratched the back of his head.
“I don’t particularly care what you want,” Lord Voldemort drawled. “Get on with it, Quirrell.”
“Y-Yes Master, o-of course,” Quirrell fumbled for a knife. He almost dropped it twice before he lunged forward, surprisingly quick for someone so fearful. Or perhaps it was because of his fear.
Either way, Harry didn’t feel too guilty when he knocked the knife away and grabbed the man by his face. He flared his powers and light exploded from his hands, bathing them both in a warm, white glow.
What he didn’t expect, though, was the way Quirrell shrieked, clawing at his face as he fell back. And he certainly didn’t anticipate the way the man’s skin began to flake, falling away piece by piece until he crumbled, disturbingly similar to the pastry puff Harry had eaten for breakfast that morning.
“Er, sorry…” Harry shuffled a little as he watched the man disintegrate. Normally it would have simply knocked him out, but perhaps Lord Voldemort’s influence had seeped into the man, twisting his essence enough that he’d been affected by Harry’s power.
“Fascinating,” Lord Voldemort’s voice rang out.
Squinting, Harry could see a dark mass gathering in the shadows. It had no solid form, but Harry could feel waves of power emanating from the being. He shivered slightly. “Didn’t mean to destroy your host,” he said apologetically. If he was lucky, Lord Voldemort wouldn’t hold a grudge. It wasn’t like the demon needed the human host, and it was painfully obvious that Quirrell was useless anyway. He probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a week or two longer, at most.
“I suppose,” Lord Voldemort mused, “I can let this offence pass.” His mass shifted closer, and Harry did not feel comforted by his words. “But you shall owe me a boon. One that I will collect when the time is right.”
Harry shoulders slumped. He couldn’t even deny the demon. It was a fair request. “Alright,” he said a little glumly. “I won’t betray those I love though, no matter what you demand,” he warned. He would give up his soul before ever doing such a thing.
There was an indulgent chuckle and a brush of shadow against his cheek. “Your name, child.”
“Harry Potter,” He said. He felt the flare of magic as the name left his lips, tying them together with a bond that not even death could break.
The shadow writhed. “Very good, child. I will return.” Then it moved, amassing, flowing, passing through Harry and then out the door. The bell clanged, sounding louder and deeper than usual.
There was a sting of pain on his forehead and he touched a hand to it. It came away red. Harry cradled his head with his arms. His fathers were going to kill him.
“A scar? Really? Can I see it?” Ron peered curiously at his forehead.
Harry raised his fringe, revealing the lightning bolt that had scabbed over.
“Wicked,” Ron breathed.
“Ron,” Hermione scolded. “He owes a demon a boon. There’s nothing wicked about that. Really though, Harry, you ought to be more careful around such creatures.”
“I didn’t mean to kill Quirrell. Didn’t even get his soul,” Harry muttered.
“Well, Lord Wossname probably won’t kill you until after you’ve fulfilled whatever favour he requests, so there’s that,” Ron offered.
“Probably won’t take him long to get a body. I mean, he’s Lord Voldemort. And then who knows when he’ll want to cash in.” Harry picked at a stray thread on the couch cushion. “I suppose I should enjoy the time I have left. How mad do you think my fathers will be if I die before they get back?”
“Never mind them, best not let mum find out,” Ron said.
“I doubt he’ll kill you,” Hermione said. “You’re too powerful. More likely he’ll make you his slave.”
Harry blanched. “And that’s… better? Honestly, I think I’d rather die.”
“He might kill you if he finds out what you are,” George said, flipping a gold coin in his hand. It disappeared after the fourth flip and he cursed.
Harry took a deep swig of his drink. An open debt, and a new scar that he certainly wouldn’t be able to hide from his fathers. Fantastic.
“You could always try killing him before he can collect,” Hermione suggested.
“The boon is basically a debt,” Harry shook his head. “I can’t raise my hand against him until it has been fulfilled.”
“Right,” she muttered with a frown, as if scolding herself for forgetting such a thing. She was the smartest person Harry had ever met, but she had only learned of her powers eight years ago and still had gaps in her knowledge. Still, Harry knew that under Aunt Minerva’s guidance, she would become a formidable witch.
“You going to stay?” Ron was watching him, unusually serious. The others paused, turning their gazes onto Harry.
Harry shuffled his feet. “Yeah,” he said at last. “Yeah, I am.”
“We could run,” Hermione said, but she was watching him as if she already knew what his answer would be.
Harry smiled. Of course they would offer. They would go with him and hide him if he so much as hinted at the desire to escape. “No,” he replied. “That’s no life. Not for me, and not for you. And I could only run for so long. No point in delaying the inevitable.” He leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “I’ll just take it day by day. Might as well enjoy myself while I can.”
“Cheers to that.” Ron raised his drink.
“If you change your mind, just let us know. We’re with you the whole way.” Fred raised his glass along with his twin. Hermione joined. Neville raised his plant before blushing and switching it with the glass of gillywater sitting next to him.
The glasses clinked, and Harry had never loved his friends more.
“What did he look like?” Ron asked, leaning forward.
Harry shrugged. “Dunno. He was all shadow and doom and stuff. Looked a little… er, flat when he was on the back of the bloke’s head, though.”
“Isn’t he a snake demon?” Hermione asked, nose wrinkled.
Ron shook his head. “A good ol’ snake face.”
Harry just hoped he didn’t turn out to be handsome.
Chapter 3: Just Harry's Supportive Dads
In which Harry wishes that, for once, his fathers weren’t quite so supportive of his independence…
“No, no, no, I can’t just leave,” Harry waved his arms in the face of a disgustingly handsome human-shaped Lord Voldemort. “I promised my fathers that I’d watch their shop while they were gone.”
Blue eyes narrowed and lips thinned. “You seek to renege on your debt?”
“What?” Harry spluttered. “I’m not - no! I just can’t leave until they get back is all.”
Infuriatingly perfect fingers drummed on the countertop. “And when will that be?”
Harry squinted at the calendar and certainly did not eye the demon out of the corner of his eye. Seriously, why was he so unfairly good-looking? “Er, probably at the end of the week, actually.”
Lord Voldemort hummed. “Very well. Be ready to leave in a week.”
Great, just enough time to settle his beating heart. “Er, if you don’t mind me asking - where are we going?”
“You will see.”
“Um, but - how am I supposed to pack if I don’t know where we’re going? Because if we’re going somewhere warm, then I’ll need to pack lighter clothes, maybe my swim trunks and flip flops, but if we’re going somewhere cold… er - should I pack my skis or something?”
“This isn’t a vacation, you know.”
“Well, no, I wouldn’t know, since you won’t tell me where we’re going.” Harry crossed his arms.
Lord Voldemort scowled. Harry tried hard not to think about just how well a bad temper suited the demon’s stupidly attractive face.
“Pack for variable weather, and be prepared for inevitable dangers,” the demon lord finally said before spinning on his heel and stalking out of the store. The bell jangled cheerfully after him.
“Dangers,” Harry said skeptically to the empty store. “Great. Fantastic. What kind of dangers?” He hollered after the demon, but it went unanswered. “Swell.”
“You should probably bring a few books with you,” Hermione added a few lines to his packing list. Behind her, Fred and George snickered.
Ron groaned. “Books? What would he need books for? He should be bringing a sword or two instead.” He tried to wrestle the quill from the witch to no avail.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe to learn?”
“Yeah, but how’s he supposed to defend himself if all he has is books? Gonna give a vampire a paper cut, maybe? Smack a dementor on the head with a dictionary?”
“Or he could use his free time to learn the spells in the books and use them.” Hermione’s eyes flashed and Harry backed away slightly. Human though she may be, she was fearsome when provoked.
“He’s going on an adventure. He’s not going to have down time.”
Harry scratched the back of his head. “I suppose I should bring both.” In all honesty he had little use for either of them, but his friends just looked so worried…
Hermione nodded approvingly. Ron grinned. Behind them, George winked at Harry.
“Ah but we shall miss our most beloved benefactor,” Fred sighed, a hand to his forehead.
“His lightning wit.”
“Very droll,” Harry scowled, flattening his fringe.
“Here, we prepared a few items for you.” George thrust a bag into his hands.
“Our most recent inventions. Still untested outside the shop, but, well, it should work as described.”
“Just… test it on someone else first, maybe. If you value your eyebrows.”
“Yeah, that too.”
Harry peered into the bag a little warily. It wasn’t that he doubted their genius, it was that sometimes they got a little caught up in their research, creating things that were perhaps best left untouched in the depths of their brains. Sometimes he wondered if it had actually been a good idea to fund their joke shop…
“Instant darkness powder?” He dug around. “Shield hat?” He choked a little. “A love potion?”
The twins grinned. “We included descriptions under the labels. Give ‘em a read when you get home.” They surrounded him then, arms squeezing him tight. “Stay safe, Harry. Be sure to owl us whenever you can. And come back to us - in one piece, preferably.”
Harry smiled. “I’ll do my best,” he promised. “Though, I still haven’t told my fathers…”
His friends winced.
Harry’s papa and father returned home carrying a multitude of new items for the store, as well as a few new sets of garishly bright robes (‘Albus insisted,’ Gellert sighed). Harry had been simultaneously anticipating their return and dreading. He loved his fathers dearly, but -
“Is that… a new scar, Harry?” It was his father who noticed it first.
Harry flattened his fringe, glancing between his parents. Gellert’s eyes were narrowed and Albus looked curious.
“Yeah, about that… I had an, um, unexpected customer, I guess you could say. Had a demon riding on the back of his head.”
“Oh?” his papa folded his hands on his lap in never-ending patience.
“Yeah, er, Lord Voldemort in fact,” he mumbled into his cup of tea.
Gellert raised a brow, looking far from impressed.
“Really? Lord Voldemort, you say?” Albus hummed as he stroked his long beard. He seemed to enjoy his guise of an old man far more than his true form.
“Yeah. Uh, I used a bit of power and um, killed his host. It was an accident, really.” Harry shifted. “So, er, now I owe a boon and, uh, I leave tomorrow…”
“Is that so,” his papa had a strange look in his eyes. They were twinkling in a way that made Harry rather wary.
“Voldemort’s a youngster,” Gellert sniffed dismissively. “Powerful, but far younger than myself. Nothing to be worried about.”
“He’s still older than I am, though,” Harry pointed out. Not to mention more dangerous…
“Details,” his papa waved a hand. “It sounds like a lovely adventure to me. A learning experience.” Albus patted Harry’s head, looking far from sympathetic.
“It will help you grow character,” his father nodded approvingly.
Harry stared at them in slight disbelief. He supposed it was a better reaction than he’d been expecting, but they were being particularly unhelpful at the moment. They had always encouraged independence, but… really?
“Oh, Harry,” Albus said, gaze softening as he looked upon the child he’d raised as if his own. “We have taught you well. You are strong and intelligent. You will be just fine. Besides, I’m sure there’s more to this Lord Voldemort than appears. This could be a good opportunity to branch out beyond our small neck of the woods - explore. Learn. Have fun.”
Harry eyed his papa dubiously. Blue eyes beamed back.
“And you don’t think it’s… dangerous?”
“Adventures are always a little bit dangerous,” Albus chuckled. “But what’s life without a little bit of excitement?”
“Safe,” Harry muttered. Then he frowned. “What if he learns what I am? Who my parents were?”
“I think you’ll find that this will be less of a worry than you anticipate,” soothed his papa.
“You cannot live isolated here with us forever,” his father frowned. “How will you find what you want in life if you do not go look for it?”
Harry sighed. “I suppose…” Though really, he didn’t see what was wrong with helping his fathers run their shop, tucked away in a cozy corner of Hogsmeade Village. It sounded pretty nice to him.
“Well then,” his papa clapped his hands with a smile. “Take this debt as an opportunity to learn.”
“And…” Harry cleared his throat, glancing away. “If I don’t? Learn what I want, that is.”
“We’ll always be here when you need us, Harry.” Albus pulled him into a hug. At nineteen years old, Harry really should have protested more, but all he could do was sink into his papa’s warm embrace, safe and sound, if only for a moment.
“So…” Ron leaned forward eagerly. “What does he look like, then? Now that you’ve seen him? Is he horrendous looking? Big fangs? Claws? Oh - does he have horns?”
“Not all demons have horns, Ron,” Hermione said, elbowing the redhead. Then she, too, turned and looked at Harry expectantly.
“Er…” Harry fumbled for a lie but nothing quite made it past his lips.
“Harry… are you… blushing?”
“So…” Harry’s heart was much calmer when he saw Lord Voldemort the next week. “Where are we going?” Ha! Not even a heartbeat out of place. Because yeah, the demon lord was handsome, but he was also kind of a jerk.
“You will see.”
Harry’s lips thinned. Yup, definitely a jerk. “And… um, what exactly is my role in this?”
“All will be revealed in time.”
Harry scowled. “It would be nice to know what, exactly, will be asked of me, so that I may prepare.”
“There will be time enough for that.”
Harry felt his fingers twitch, longing for the dagger he kept in his belt. He turned away instead, and began humming one of the tunes his papa favoured. A cheerful little ditty.
“And you will cease with that infernal noise.”
Harry paused. “Is there anything I can do? My Lord?” He smiled as insincerely as he could.
“Yes,” Lord Voldemort waved his hand dismissively, not even bothering to look in his direction. “Stay silent.”
Harry’s jaw dropped. He groaned and tugged at his hair. “This is gonna suck,” he muttered.
Lord Voldemort shifted them through the shadows to the outskirts of a small town. From there they walked to a large house secluded by a dense woods about a mile from the town. It was surrounded by runic warding, but the demon lord seemed to have no difficulty ripping through them. He scoffed at the crucifix that hung from the gates, slashing through the metal with his claws, leaving a hissing, acidic steam in his wake.
Harry edged around it warily.
A thin serving girl looked up, startled, as they entered the front door. “G-guests? B-b-but the M-Master didn’t s-s-say - “
The demon lord knocked out the stuttering servant with a wave of his hand. Harry trailed after him as he strode down the hall before turning into the dining room. He felt a little bad for the girl, but she looked about ready to keel over anyway.
He glanced around the dining room, nose crinkling in distaste at the gaudy workmanship. Flashy gold and crystal and far too much velvet.
At the table sat a man - middle-aged with a large potbelly. He looked up as they entered. First annoyance, then alarm flashed across his features.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” The man stood.
“Crouch. I am not here for you.” Tom’s gaze trailed to the side, to one of the other chairs.
The man - Crouch, Harry assumed - puffed up, face paling then reddening. “I - this is my house. I don’t know what you want, but I demand that you leave. You are not welcome here, stranger.”
“Oh?” Tom’s lip curled as his gaze returned to the portly figure. “I am sure you know exactly why I am here. I have come to collect that which belongs to me. I would warn you not to stand in my way.”
“Y-You have no right to be here, you demon-witch. I won’t let you take him. I know what you’ve done. Bewitching him away from me. I won’t allow it. Begone, witch. I banish you!” The man shook his fist, warding his heart with his other hand. He grabbed a knife from the table and brandished it as he advanced towards Voldemort, his free hand clutching the crucifix he wore around his neck.
Harry watched in horrid fascination as the man stepped closer and closer to the demon lord. Should he warn him? Try and help him? He eyed the soul contemplatively and decided that… no, it was not in his best interest to interfere. His mouth watered slightly at the smell of such blatant corruption but he pushed the thought away. Now was certainly not the time to reveal his favourite snack.
Voldemort reached out and grabbed the man’s wrist, halting the wailing motions. “Do not think to command me, mortal.” Then he struck, his free hand reaching out to grab Crouch’s face. There was a flash of green light and the rushing sound of death and then Crouch was falling lifelessly to the ground.
Harry stared down at the dead body. “You just… killed him.”
“I did. Is there a problem?” Blue eyes pierced his, and Harry thought for a moment that they shone red.
“I - “ I could have eaten his soul, he wanted to say. But Lord Voldemort didn’t know about that aspect of him, and he was hoping to keep it a secret for as long as possible. “No,” he said, shrugging a little awkwardly. He nudged the body with his foot. “It’s fine. But won’t it be suspicious if someone finds it?”
But Lord Voldemort was no longer listening and was instead reaching out to pluck something out of thin air. No - not out of thin air. He had removed an invisibility cloak, revealing a young man with slightly glazed eyes. Lord Voldemort placed a hand on the man’s head.
The man jolted, eyes clearing. He looked up to see the demon lord and his eyes widened reverently. “My Lord,” he breathed. “You - you came for me…” He rose from his crouch only to fall to his knees, grasping for Voldemort’s robes.
“Barty, do stand up,” the demon lord said irritably.
Barty did so, his eyes never leaving the face of his lord.
“You pledged to me your service, my dear Barty. Do your vows hold true?”
“As true as the day I spoke them, My Lord.”
“Good. Then come.”
They turned then, and Barty finally noticed Harry. His eyes narrowed. “My Lord?” he said.
“Ah, yes, this is Harry. He owes me a boon. He shall be our companion for our… journey.” Voldemort waved a hand dismissively.
Harry’s eyebrow twitched, but he said nothing. There were two of them now, after all. They would probably gang up on him if he tried to start anything. This ‘Barty’ smelled human, but there was the faint scent of magic that hung around him. Harry wondered how he had come to be in the service of a demon.
Barty hummed, his gaze curious, but he spared Harry no further attention as they followed the demon lord out of the house. It went up in flames just as Harry stepped outside and he yelped, leaping away from the sudden surge of heat.
“A little warning would have been nice,” Harry grumbled.
Lord Voldemort, of course, ignored him.
“Where to next, My Lord?”
Harry froze, for once glad that they were paying him no mind.
“Really? He is still in your service?”
“We shall see.”
“And… the others?”
“Of course. Dear Bella is most eager, and I’m sure if they value their lives, the others will be as well.”
Harry shivered as unfamiliar names were passed between the two ahead of him.
There was only one man who dared live there. Harry followed the others, palms sweaty, heart thumping.
He was so screwed.
Harry glanced nervously at the sky. He hadn’t told Molly that he was leaving, and this would be the first Sunday dinner he’d missed in - well, ever. It should be alright, though. Ron would soften the blow for him. He hoped.