The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…
born when the seventh month died, the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal…
he will defy the Dark Lord thrice, and he will become the Dark Lord’s greatest challenger…
he will live while the Dark Lord reigns, and the Dark Lord will rule as long as he survives…
Tom Riddle had never put much stock into prophecy during his time at Hogwarts. There was too much risk of self-fulfillment in listening to others dictate the path of your life, and he’d sworn to himself that he would never fall for such traps.
He had built his own empire from nothing—he had needed no Seer to tell him he would succeed, as he had known it from the moment he had learned he was a wizard.
So when Sybil Trelawney’s words had fallen across his desk, he’d been inclined to dismiss them immediately.
What he had failed to consider, however, was the fact that his followers were not as pragmatic as he was, and were therefore more prone to bouts of extreme idiocy.
A decade and a half later, he would be reminded of this particular failure in a most spectacular fashion.
Bellatrix and Rodolphus were among Voldemort’s most devoted followers. Unfortunately, a majority of their skills lay in spellcasting, not critical thinking. So when they had requested an audience with him, their giddy expressions had only given Voldemort an overwhelming sense of dread.
“My Lord,” crooned Bellatrix. Her robes were not only partially stained with blood, but also shredded to the point of indecency. Not that Bellatrix had ever cared to be particularly modest in his presence, but the sight of it was irritating all the same.
Rodolphus bowed low. He was a decent sycophant. If he could only do a better job at keeping his insane wife in check, then he would have had more value.
The Lestranges had brought a body with them; it was laid out on the floor. A man of average height and build, with all his limbs tied up and a sack draped over his head.
“Yes?” Voldemort demanded impatiently.
Bellatrix leaned forward, breathless, her eyes gleaming. “My Lord, we have brought you a gift.”
Voldemort eyed the body speculatively. “I can see that,” he said evenly, still waiting for them to get to the point.
Rodolphus seemed to register the imminent danger he was in, because he bent down to wrench the body up off of the floor using the rope draped around its neck. “We have found the subject of the prophecy for you, my Lord.”
It took a split second for Voldemort to recall just what the prophecy was, and then Bellatrix was pulling the cloth off of the head of their latest prisoner, revealing a head of dark hair and a heavily bruised face.
“It’s Potter,” Rodolphus said nervously, when Lord Voldemort continued to remain silent. “He fits all aspects of the prophecy, my Lord. We had discovered in the Ministry records that he was born at the end of July.”
“I know who he is,” Voldemort snapped, and Rodolphus dropped his gaze to the floor.
Potter was a thorn in his side. An excellent duelist with a talent for evading capture; he had faced Voldemort not once, but three times.
The Order of the Phoenix called him 'The Man-Who-Lived'. They believed he was the one named in the prophecy, and it was frequently cited in their circle that while Voldemort reigned, Potter could not die. A good deal of the rebels looked up to Potter, because not only was he the very definition of a fearless leader, but he was also the one who had taught them how to fight.
Voldemort could admit the boy had talent; it would not have been a very easy task to take him alive.
Even now, he could hear Potter’s laboured breathing. It was likely that one or more of the boy’s ribs were broken. He would have fought to the last, foolish as he was.
“My Lord?” Bellatrix simpered.
Voldemort did not know how long he had been standing there, lost in introspection. It was only at the sound of Bellatrix’s pitched, girlish voice that he finally thought to become angry.
Potter could have died. Potter could have died, and this death could have brought about the downfall of all that he had worked for simply because his followers were too idiotic to understand self-fulfilling prophecies.
His yew wand snapped into his hand.
Rodolphus flinched, which was amusing, but it was unfortunately not amusing enough to spare him from what was coming.
“Did you even think,” Voldemort began, drawing out the pauses between words for emphasis, ”just for one infinitesimal moment, that by capturing Potter you might as well have declared him to be the thrice-damned subject of prophecy yourselves? Do you think that I, Lord Voldemort, who has commanded magic to the extent of which no one has ever seen, would have failed to notice Potter as a threat?”
He did not wait for either of them to answer before he cast: “Crucio.”
Rodolphus started screaming, though he tried to clench his jaw shut to muffle the sound. Voldemort waited patiently, watching with interest as the man’s face went from flushed to deathly pale, and then he released the curse spell.
Next to her husband, Bellatrix was silent, though her large eyes were wide. Voldemort did not doubt that this had all been her idea; she was too eager to please and that clouded her decision-making to a ridiculous degree. She shifted as Rodolphus groaned quietly. She was waiting for her turn.
Voldemort did not want to give her the satisfaction of being touched by his magic. The bloody infatuated witch would probably see it as an honour.
“Get up,” he said to Rodolphus. “Now.”
Rodolphus rose, his legs unsteady beneath him. There was a tremor rolling across his shoulders, and his left arm was twitching uncontrollably. He turned, with reluctance, to face his lord.
“Draw your wand.”
Rodolphus hesitated, then withdrew his wand from his robes using his right hand.
“You will cast the Cruciatus on your wife until I tell you to stop.”
That ought to be a suitable punishment for Bellatrix, who usually loathed her husband when she wasn’t bossing him around. And perhaps it would give Rodolphus some much needed spine, so he could derail his wife’s hare-brained ideas in the future.
Bellatrix did not scream. Perhaps she was too proud. More likely, she had developed a pain tolerance high enough to withstand the strength of Cruciatus that Rodolphus could cast.
As she writhed on the floor, Voldemort averted his eyes to the left wall, so as to avoid having to look at her. Then, when he felt it had gone on long enough, he raised his hand and Rodolphus stopped.
“Leave,” said Voldemort. He no longer felt like torturing them.
Though he was sweating and shaking profusely, Rodolphus picked up his wife and shuffled towards the door.
“Wait,” croaked Bellatrix. “I h-have his wand, my Lord.”
Voldemort summoned it with a lazy twitch of his wand. The wand floated towards him. Dark, polished holly.
The door shut as Rodolphus succeeded in his retreat.
Plucking the holly wand out of the air, Voldemort set it upon his desk. He would deal with it later—he still had a body lying upon the floor of his office, after all.
Said body was beginning to stir in its sleep. Voldemort cast a few basic diagnostic spells. Cracked and broken ribs, as expected. Heavy bruising and multiple lacerations across the torso. A particularly deep gash on the leg that had been hastily patched by an inexperienced healer.
Voldemort set about healing Potter up. He was not about to take any chances with what his moronic Death Eaters had done. They had been under strict orders to never touch Potter with anything harder than a stunner. Only Bellatrix would have been so bold as to defy him openly, thinking that she knew better.
Once his spellwork was done, Voldemort cast the Stunning Spell, just to be safe.
Potter lay slumped across the carpet, dried blood leaking from his nose and mouth. His round-framed glasses were still attached to his face, likely due to a Sticking charm, but one of the lenses was cracked down the middle. The boy’s riotous mess of hair was matted with sweat and plastered to his forehead, covering the scar that existed underneath. The scar that had remained since the very first time Potter had fought him.
Realizing that he was still standing before Potter’s prone form, Voldemort sat down at his desk to think further on what to do.
Potter was a strange adversary to have. He never cast to kill—only to Stun or otherwise incapacitate. If Potter had been less scrupulous with his morals he might have presented a larger issue, but as things were now, the main danger Potter posed lay in his potential to fulfill the terms of the prophecy.
Voldemort believed that the kidnapping of Potter would only serve to worsen the likelihood that Potter was the challenger prophesied to destroy all that he, Lord Voldemort, had worked so hard to achieve. His reign over Wizarding Britain had held strong for over three decades, and he was not about to surrender it to a charlatan's tale. Lord Voldemort was in control of his own destiny; he would ensure it.
Voldemort gazed down at Potter for the second time. There was nothing to be done about this now. Releasing Potter would only invite further chaos to his doorstep. The best thing to do would be to keep everything relatively simple in the hopes that it would avoid triggering the prophecy any further.
Potter would remain a prisoner of the Dark Lord until his dying day—a day that would never, ever come so long as Voldemort watched over him. Death had not stopped Voldemort from claiming his rightful place at the helm of Wizarding Britain. Voldemort was forever young and forever immortal—Death could not touch him. Potter was merely another step to conquer, another irritation to crush. Voldemort would ensure that the Man-Who-Lived firmly met with the concept of his given title. Potter would continue to live.
Decision now made, Voldemort stood. He would have to prepare a room for Potter to be kept in; it would not do for such a task to be assigned to any of his Death Eaters. This he would do himself, and then he would charge his followers with strict instructions for keeping the boy in line. Potter could not be allowed to escape the life he was now being given.
With a sweep of his wand, Voldemort levitated the unconscious body and made his way out of his office. There were a number of rooms in the manor that could be suitable, but perhaps it would be best not to tempt fate by placing the boy too close. A room in the left wing, then.
Voldemort continued down the corridor, which was thankfully empty. He momentarily considered casting a Disillusionment Charm upon Potter’s body, then discarded the idea. The knowledge that Potter had been captured would become common soon enough, and so it would be best if his followers saw that Potter was kept alive by his wand specifically. To kill the Dark Lord’s prey was to invite pain of the highest degree. That was something all of his Death Eaters knew very well.
By the time Voldemort reached the left wing, he had still failed to run into anyone. Perhaps they had heard the news of Bellatrix and Rodolphus’ predicament and had wisely chosen to make themselves scarce. It was all for the better, really. He was in no mood to see any of them now, and even torturing them for their annoying failures would eventually prove tiresome.
Looking down at Potter, Voldemort saw that the blasted fool was in the middle of stirring again. Did Potter ever know when to stop resisting for his own good?
Voldemort set Potter down upon the ground, stunned him, and then levitated him back into the air. Then they proceeded down one of the staircases that led to where the temporary cells existed. He was careful not to bash Potter against the walls of the stairwell or the steps of the staircase. The last thing he needed was for Potter to suffer a fatal head injury on the way to imprisonment.
The air was colder on this level—a damp chill that was meant to unsettle those left here to rot. Fire flared to life on either side of the corridor as Voldemort brought Potter along, walking him past many of the currently unoccupied cells. He already had decided on the perfect place to store Potter in.
They reached the end of the hall, where a large, oaken door was built into an archway. As his wand was occupied, Voldemort merely waved his hand before the door, which melted away to reveal a dark room.
Potter was floated into it, and then there was the soft sound of the body being deposited upon the floor.
The room lit up. Many years ago, this had been Voldemort’s favourite room to bring his prisoners to. The torture implements on the walls, the blood stains he’d left behind to frighten the room’s future occupants. Yet somehow, over the course of his reign, he’d found himself using this place less and less.
The rebels still existed, yes, but they were fewer than before and more clever to boot. Voldemort found himself more occupied by the logistics of running the Ministry than with fighting off the Order of Phoenix. The Order had put their faith into a saviour, into Potter, the lot of them desperately hoping that Potter would someday save them with his death so that they would not have to so much as lift a finger.
Voldemort wondered if the war was to continue on for another decade, would the Order have considered killing Potter purely to try and complete the prophecy’s requirements.
A thought for another time, perhaps. With distaste, Voldemort surveyed the dark, dusty room they were in. This entire place was long overdue for a change.
Lifting his wand once more, Voldemort set to work.
All of the constructs in the room were vanished into non-existence, the walls and floors were wiped clean and polished to a shine, and the air was hit with multiple Freshening Charms. Satisfied that the room was now safe for human habitation, Voldemort set about creating a light source. It wouldn’t do to leave anything lying around that Potter could use to escape, or—worse yet—use to kill himself, which meant the usual lamps and candles were out of the question.
After a minute’s work, there was a globe of pure light hovering high above them that illuminated the entirety of the large room.
Checking on Potter revealed that the boy was still unconscious. His breathing had eased since Voldemort had healed his ribs, and his face would have been peaceful save for the bruises and blood that still covered it.
Voldemort cast Stupefy again, for it was perfectly fine to be redundant in this case, and then resumed looking around at the room. Another wave of his wand was used to summon materials from the floor above them, and Voldemort began to pace the newly-cleaned floor while he waited for his things to arrive.
It was difficult for Voldemort to put himself in the mindset of keeping his prisoner alive and healthy rather than suffering and in extreme pain. He had to make sure every angle was covered so that there was no chance of the prophecy coming true. Potter would have to live under his roof for the foreseeable future, if not forever.
In the worse case scenario, Potter would have to be drugged into submission. Voldemort did not particularly prefer that option, as it would involve a lot of direct care that he neither had the time personally nor the competent followers to handle.
No, what would be best was if Potter would simply acquiesce to a nice, quiet life in captivity.
Voldemort grimaced. Knowing what he did about Potter, this was about as likely to happen as was Bellatrix deciding she was not madly in love with her Lord.
The materials he’d summoned had now floated into the room. Voldemort eyed the suspended blankets and the piles of linen. He’d have to send out a House-Elf to purchase replacements for the household.
Voldemort directed the sheets of fabric to cover the walls and floor, and then began his Transfiguration. It took a great deal of concentration—the material had to not only attach itself to the walls, but also thicken and expand. Partway through the process he had to roll Potter’s body over so he could finish working on the floor. He would also need to cast additional Sticking Charms, as well as spells to make the fabric indestructable to human hands.
In short order, the Transfiguration was finished. He was the world’s most powerful wizard, after all. The amount of magic required to remodel the room was minimal.
Looking back at the gap where the entrance was, Voldemort called the door back. It materialized back into existence, and then the door, too, was covered in thick, cushioned fabric.
The padded cell was now complete.
Voldemort glanced back down and saw that, yes, Potter was once again starting to struggle to wakefulness. It was as though Potter had practiced specifically for waking up after being stunned.
This time, however, Voldemort was not about to send the boy back into the land of unconsciousness. Voldemort cast a few charms to signal an alarm if Potter’s health changed or dropped below a certain level, and then he stepped out of the room and resealed the door, willing it closed with his magic.
He would have to return eventually, likely to key someone else into the room so that the Potter boy could be fed and given water, but for now it would have to do.
There would be time later to think on how to deal with Potter being awake.