Harry Potter was a rare sort of teenager. He hated summer vacation, and he was fully aware of how weird that sounded. After all, what student didn't love a long break from school? Well, not him. But it wasn't his fault. It was solely the fault of his 'loving' relatives, the Dursleys. Harry had been stuck living with them ever since his parents had been killed when he had been a baby, and unfortunately, with time, things were really only getting worse for him.
He had told Dumbledore in his very first year at Hogwarts about how the Dursleys had been treating him, but the Headmaster had made it abundantly clear that he was simply overreacting. And no matter how many times the teen went back, no matter how much he told the man or pleaded, Dumbledore never changed his stance. In fact, when Harry had been at his lowest point, just after having lost his godfather, and told the dreaded prophecy, the old Headmaster had even called him ungrateful for the care his family had been so generously providing him with.
And it was at that very moment, that Harry found him no longer able to trust Albus Dumbledore...
The fifteen year old flinched before he could stop himself, and then sighed. He listened for the deadbolt, and the moment he heard it pulled back, pushed the door to the little cupboard open. Ever since Dumbledore had taken it upon himself to inform the Dursleys of Sirius' death, Harry had been back in his old cupboard under the stairs. The Dursleys had waited a few days, wanting to see if the Order would follow through with any of their threats, but when they hadn't, the three Muggles knew they had nothing to fear anymore.
Harry stumbled into the main hall, trying to keep himself on his feet, despite the fact that his legs had fallen asleep, since he had been unable to stretch out in such a small space. When he looked up, he cringed inwardly. Uncle Vernon did not look pleased. "Yes, uncle?" he inquired politely. The politeness wasn't really going to change much of anything, but it was better than acting angry or annoyed, because that would just make things worse for himself.
The teen was a little lucky though, because his uncle merely thrust a rater long list of chores at him. "If this list isn't complete my the time I get home, boy-" He didn't even have to finish his sentence for the threat to come across clearly.
Pleased it was just chores, and not something worse, Harry kept his tone of voice polite, and replied with a simple, "Yes, Uncle Vernon."
The beefy man glared at him for a moment, before nodding once, and then turning away. He stomped down the hall and out the door, which slammed shut behind him as he headed off to work. Once he was gone, Harry allowed himself another sigh, this one in relief. That had gone much better than expected.
He remained where he was for a moment, shaking one leg, then the other, trying to get some feeling back in them, and at the same time, listened for his aunt. He could hear her in the sitting room, gossiping away (likely on the phone, since he couldn't hear any other voices). Dudley, he knew, would still be asleep, and likely wouldn't be up until after lunch, which was normal during the holidays.
With yet another sigh, Harry looked down at the list in his hands. As always, it was a compilation of chores that he was going to have to spend all day doing. He already knew he wasn't going to be fed today. He'd never be able to complete the list in a single day otherwise. Just like nearly every other day. It was only another excuse for his uncle to hurt him...not that he really needed an excuse.
Stretching, Harry shoved the list into the pocket of his too large jeans, and headed to the kitchen to begin his chores by washing the dishes. After that, he swept and vacuumed the floors and carpets and rugs, and dusted everything too. He cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, then paused in front of the door of Dudley's second bedroom.
He stared at the many locks and the cat-flap, wondering how he could get into that room. His Weasley twins edition lockpick wasn't going to work on all of these locks, and all his school things, including his wand, were inside. ...Then again, it wasn't like he would be able to hide them in his cupboard either.
When a loud, grunting snore suddenly came from Dudley in the room over, Harry flinched, startled, pulled out of his thoughts. Giving this up as a bad job he continued on with his chores, which he had to stop in the middle of to prepare lunch for his aunt, and breakfast for his cousin, now that Dudley had finally bothered getting out of bed...
It took ages, but once he was finished with all his indoor chores, Harry moved out into the backyard to take care of what he had to do there, namely the watering and weeding. Luckily, those didn't take particularly long, and before he knew it, the teen had made his way out front. He had more watering and weeding to do here, and he needed to plant some new seeds Aunt Petunia had bought, and mow the lawn, and paint the bench on the porch too.
By the time the small teen had begun his work in the front yard, it was already nearly four in the afternoon. Deciding to start by mowing the lawn, he brought out the mower, glad the Dursleys had bought a new one. It was much, much easier to use than the old one, which helped him work a lot faster.
When Mrs Number Three had bought the newest mower on the market and shown it off (because apparently even having a better lawn mower than your neighbours mattered, for some stupid reason), the Dursleys, who always wanted to prove that they were better, had had one imported from the States...or at least that was what they had said.
Still, Harry was glad, for the old mower had not only been ancient, but huge and heavy as well. Then again, after having begun mowing the lawn at the age of six, he had gotten used to using it. Quidditch wasn't the only thing that had helped him build some muscle over the past years.
Harry had only just begun with the mowing, when Aunt Petunia came rushing outside, the new, cordless phone held to her ear. "Oh, you're right, Sue. The new neighbours are moving in... Yes, we must pay them a visit before that snobby Mrs Sol-"
Harry tuned the woman out, and went on with his mowing, thinking about what he had just heard. It seemed Number Two, next door, was finally getting some new occupants. For some weird reason, no one ever really ended up staying in that house for very long, which was awfully strange for a place like Privet Drive, where people usually lived for their entire lives. ...Maybe the house was haunted?
Most of the people who had lived in that house had been just like everyone else on the street, nosy and annoying. But Harry had liked the young couple that had been there when he had been about nine years old. They'd been the very definition of 'cool', and had even given him candy once. He'd never even tasted candy before that, and he'd been happier than the happiest kid on the planet that day, which technically would have made him the happiest kid on the planet, really. The couple had never really mixed particularly well with the rest of those in Privet Drive, and Harry couldn't help but wonder if it was because the couple had consisted of two women.
Unfortunately, they had moved out before long too, and a new married couple had moved in right after, the woman almost as bad as Mrs Number Three, who was notorious for being the snooty woman on the block-even worse than Aunt Petunia, and that was really saying something. They lasted the longest in the house though, and now it had been sitting empty for a good year.
When the green eyed teen saw his aunt head back into the coolness of the kitchen, he wondered when she was planning on inviting the new neighbours over. She always did that, and it was when she went totally overboard with the cooking...that he did and she took credit for. ...Bitch. Then he shrugged mentally. Cooking was really the only chore he didn't actually mind doing...
Harry was only half way through his mowing, and he was already sweating profusely, not that all the work he had done earlier had helped, or anything. The sun was blaring down on him, blasting him with heat. He was fully aware that not having eaten anything all day wasn't helping the situation at all, not to mention the only water he'd gotten, was the quick drink he had taken from the bathroom tap while he had been cleaning in there earlier. He hadn't been able to do the same in the kitchen, because his aunt had been in there at the time. He was sure it was only because she had wanted to make sure he didn't pilfer any food, which Harry was smart enough not to do. ...Again.
The teen soon shrugged out of his large, and now sweat soaked grey tee-shirt, leaving him bare from the waist up. His chest and torso were littered with bruises and cuts, and his back was covered with scars from all the lashings he had received over the years, a few of them not having fully healed yet because of how fresh they were. His front too, had scars, but less of them, and those were mainly just knife marks, really, from when Dudley and his gang were too lazy to punch or kick him.
He smiled rather wryly at the thought that most in the Wizarding world were under the impression that the only scar he had was the single lightning bolt shaped one on his forehead, hidden beneath the mess of black hair. His close friends knew about the one on the back of his left hand, and the one inflicted by Wormtail the other year on his left forearm, and the one the basilisk fang had caused. But none of them knew about the rest of his scars. He pretty much always kept a glamour on while at Hogwarts-unconsciously at first, and then on purpose after he had learned the spell. Not even Ron and Hermione knew about any of this.
Here in Privet Drive, however, Harry didn't need a glamour charm. He usually always had his shirt off while he worked in the garden, weather permitting, and everyone had seen the injuries and scars that covered his tanned skin. And, as expected, no one particularly cared. Why would they? Wouldn't it be natural for a kid who went to St Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys to have injuries and scars like he did? He was a 'delinquent', after all.
Shrugging his stiff, bare shoulders, Harry went on with the mowing, then the watering, then the weeding, then the planting, then the painting, unaware that he was closely being watched by a pair of stunning grey eyes, that were quickly becoming red with anger...
Tom Marvolo Riddle, better known as the Dark Lord Voldemort, and most commonly referred to as either You-Know-Who, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, never did anything without having a reason behind it. So, when two of his most loyal Death Eaters learned of his latest plans, they simply hid their confusion and encouraged their Lord to go on with it.
When Tom, the dark haired, crimson eyed man, who appeared to be in his late twenties, left the room, Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy exchanged a glance. Just what was their Lord planning, exactly? As he hadn't really bothered explaining it to them, they knew they had no choice but to wait and see what would happen.
"Do not tell him that I said this, but there are times I feel he is losing it. Again," muttered Lucius.
Severus smirked. "Perhaps you should keep that to yourself, my friend. ...No matter how much I may or may not agree..."
Tom Riddle had known of Harry Potter's address for quite a while now. He wasn't a genius for nothing, after all. He could have gone there any time, if only it weren't for those damned Blood Wards. Surprisingly, and irritatingly, it had taken him an entire year to realize that he could actually enter the wards with no problems at all. He had Potter's blood running through his veins now. The wards meant naught. ...So much for being a genius.
Though there were many easier ways to do this, Tom went ahead and purchased the vacant house next door to the one Potter lived in-Number Two Privet Drive. He even made a show of moving in-going as far as to use a Muggle moving fan. He was fully aware that he didn't actually need to do this, but he wanted to. He wanted to be seen by the neighbours...
Wandering his now fully furnished, temporary home, Tom glanced out of the window at the tall, horse-faced woman in the front yard next door. She was on one of those cordless telephones, staring his way. He had no doubt that she was talking about him. That must have been Potter's aunt. Strange that she looked nothing like her sister. A pity, really. Lily Evans-Potter had been a pretty woman, from what he could recall.
Leaving the house, he approached the wooden fence closest to Number Four. The woman had already gone back inside. Tom scowled. This neighbourhood was definitely not his type. Everything-the houses, the cars, the lawns-looked the same. Frankly, it was kind of creepy.
Ah, speaking of lawns...
Tom wasted no time in locating Potter. The teen was out front, mowing the lawn. Tom blinked when he suddenly noticed that Potter had no shirt on, and it only took him half a moment to understand that it was likely because of the heat. Still, he caught himself staring when he saw the cuts and bruises on Potter's chest and torso, and stared even more when he turned around, and the man caught sight of his back. Those...were definitely whip marks, weren't they?
For the first time in longer than he could remember, Tom Marvolo Riddle was confused. And from confused, he quickly became angry, grey eyes bleeding red. Who had harmed Potter like that? Because it clearly hadn't been him. Some of those lashes looked far too fresh for that.
Frowning slightly, Tom watched his enemy finish mowing the lawn, and move onto something else, after which he did something else, then something else, and then yet something else. Potter, despite clearly being exhausted, didn't stop to rest, not even for a moment, though he did take a quick drink from the garden hose after glancing around surreptitiously to make sure no one was looking. All of this only succeeded in confusing Tom even more.
The man's Slytherin mind quickly formulated a plan...
Despite what occurred at the Ministry the previous month, Harry has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, as usual. A new neighbour however throws everything off balance, leaving the near sixteen year old more confused than ever. What exactly is Tom Riddle doing not only moving in, in what he would no doubt call a disgusting Muggle neighbourhood, but next door to Harry?!
Yo! I'm so glad you guys are liking this. Thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had taken hours upon hours, but Harry had finally finished all his chores...sort of. He hadn't managed to put a second coat of paint on the porch bench, since the first layer hadn't dried fast enough. There was no wind, and the humidity was high, so it was taking far longer than he had expected it to. Harry immediately knew that this was exactly what his uncle had been hoping for when he had added that specific task to the list of chores.
Uncle Vernon had not expected him to be able to finish painting that bench, and that meant he wasn't going to be able to finish his chores, which in turn meant he was going to have to be punished for it. This was always how it went. Harry could only hope that his uncle had a good day at work. The beatings were always so much worse otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, as was expected and usual, Harry's wish did not come true. When Uncle Vernon's car pulled up in the driveway, and the large man lumbered out, Harry immediately knew that he was in a very bad mood. He paled when he was ordered to put away the gardening tools, and he automatically yanked his shirt back on over his head, even though he knew it wasn't going to be staying on him for very long at all. He knew exactly what was coming next.
Severus and Lucius were lounging in the sitting room of Number Two, wondering why the Dark Lord had called them here. The older man hadn't told them much of anything, instead, simply having told them to remain there in the room until he returned. Then they had watched as he had placed himself under an improved Disillusion charm, which made the wearer invisible, rather than simply camouflaged, before leaving the house.
Already a handful of hours had gone by, and the Dark Lord had not yet returned. Severus and Lucius were not worried per se-they knew their Lord could take care of himself, but they were wondering what he was doing, and why it seemed to be taking so long. They knew he must have gone into Potter's house (Why else would they be in this neighbourhood?), so why hadn't he returned yet? Had the boy done something to him? ...No, that wasn't very likely.
"Why exactly did he call us here, only to leave us alone for all these hours?" questioned Lucius abruptly, sounding a tad irritated as he brushed what seemed to be imaginary lint off his shoulder.
"You know I cannot answer that, Lucius," replied Severus, concealing his amusement and glancing up at the blond from over the thick tome in his hands.
Lucius peered at him closely. "Do you envision our Lord returning any time soon?"
Severus blinked at the sudden question, but shook his head once. "I doubt it."
The older man smirked at the answer and got to his feet, approaching his friend. "Shall we take advantage of that, then?" he asked smoothly-suggestively...
After coming up with his plan, Tom had immediately put it into action, summoning both Severus and Lucius to him. Not intending to be gone for long, he instructed them to remain in the house until he returned, before making himself invisible and departing, easily walking next door to Number Four.
Just as he reached the newly mowed lawn, he watched as a large, beefy looking man-Potter's uncle, he assumed, grabbed the slight teen by the scruff of the neck, and shoved him roughly into the house, as he muttered and cursed.
Feeling rather curious, Tom followed, using his agility to swiftly enter the house before the front door managed to slam shut. He went on following as his enemy was forced up the stairs, and they all came to a stop in front of a heavily locked door, that had one of those pet doors at the bottom. Potter's uncle unlocked the many locks, and then he and the teen entered the room, Tom following suit somewhat cautiously.
The door had hardly shut behind them when the large man twisted around and with a single, swift movement, backhanded Potter right across the face. The action was so hard, it had the boy's glasses flying off, and Potter himself falling back to the floor. But beyond a wince and a gasp, he didn't even react-didn't fight back.
Tom found that he couldn't really believe that. Potter had always fought back against him with such...intensity, green eyes glowing like the killing curse itself, alight with fury. Salazar, it was always so intoxicating.
"Shirt off, boy," the large man ordered. "In position. Now."
"...Yes, Uncle Vernon," Potter replied right away, complying almost immediately. And as Tom watched, Potter pulled off that ratty grey shirt that was far too large for him, before moving to stand facing the wall, arms in front of him, braced for what was coming. And come it did...
After what felt like hours, but in reality must have been mere minutes, Potter was ordered to put his shirt back on, which he did without a single flinch or wince. He was then shoved out of the room, and dragged down the stairs. Half way down, Vernon kicked him. Potter didn't get back to his feet, and subtly dodged another kick by rolling the rest of the way. Then he was thrown into the cupboard under the stairs, the door locked barely a moment later. And it was then that the teen's aunt appeared.
Despite no doubt being fully aware of what had just happened, she didn't pay it any mind at all. Instead, she smiled, and said, "Will you be home on time tomorrow, Vernon? I'd like to invite the new neighbours over for dinner."
"You didn't see? They moved into Number Two earlier today, and I'd like to welcome them before others manage it."
Vernon nodded, his voice casual and pleased, as if he hadn't just beaten his defenceless nephew. "Good, good. Not to worry, Pet. I'll be home early."
Tom stared, and then smirked. Well, if he was going to be invited over for dinner, then that was the perfect time for him to see Harry Potter, wasn't it...?
Not much time passed before the sun began to rise, and Harry's aunt returned to the small cupboard, rapping on the door and pulling back the deadbolt. A moment later, the little door opened, and Harry slipped out, looking as if he hadn't slept at all-his face pale, dark circles under his empty green eyes.
As Tom looked closer, he caught sight of the handwritten sign in the back of the cupboard, proudly declaring the space 'Harry's Room', in neat, yet childish letters, which told the man one thing: Harry had been sleeping inside this cupboard for many, many years.
Those filthy Muggles were going to pay for this.
Fury only built inside the man, and he watched Harry enter the kitchen, where the teen began to cook breakfast for his relatives, clearly attempting not to react to the pain he was obviously in. Tom could see where the blood from his back had seeped into his shirt throughout the night.
When Harry's aunt and uncle entered the kitchen, the boy had already set the table for them, and was dismissed immediately with scathing remarks. Harry left without at word, and made his way upstairs to the bathroom as quickly as he could, stopping to gaze at himself in the large mirror above the sink.
Tom heard Harry sigh softly, before he began trying to pull his shirt off. The task was made more difficult because of the dried blood. Yet though he was clearly struggling, Harry still didn't wince. He remained expressionless, almost resigned, as if he wasn't bothered by this at all.
But going by what Tom had witnessed so far, that shouldn't have been surprising. This had evidently been happening for a long time-years, even. No doubt Harry had gotten used to this...this horrid, appalling treatment.
When his shirt was finally off, Tom and Harry both stared at the bruises on the teen's chest and torso. He was practically black and blue. Harry prodded them carefully, just barely containing a wince, then turned to peer at his back's reflection, frowning. He tried his best to clean off the blood, then pulled open a cabinet, picking up a roll of bandages.
"Shit. There isn't much left," Tom heard Harry mutter. "They'll notice if I use any of it." And with that, the teen simply replaced the roll, carefully pulled his shirt back on, then moved to shut the door.
As he did that, Tom, who had seen enough, slipped out of the room just as the door was closing. He would wait until later that night, when he was over for dinner. Perhaps he would even bring Severus and Lucius with him. He froze abruptly. Severus and Lucius?
The Dark Lord's crimson eyes widened when he suddenly remembered that he had left his two most loyal followers in his temporary house next door. Alone. Together. All night.
...He hoped he didn't need to change any of the bedsheets.
Anyone notice the exact moment where 'Potter' becomes 'Harry' in Tom's mind? Comments? Kudos?
Despite what occurred at the Ministry the previous month, Harry has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, as usual. A new neighbour however throws everything off balance, leaving the near sixteen year old more confused than ever. What exactly is Tom Riddle doing not only moving in, in what he would no doubt call a disgusting Muggle neighbourhood, but next door to Harry?!
Harry was exhausted. He had been up nearly all night thanks to pain he'd been in-the results of his uncle's punishment. He had tried to sleep at first, totally used to sleeping when in pain, but the small space of his cupboard that he had long since outgrown, despite not having grown enough at all, had made it far harder.
He had only just given up on sleeping, when his aunt had come knocking at the door sharply. Was it already morning? It was always hard to keep track of time in a darkened cupboard.
But as the teen went on with his daily chores, he couldn't help but feel as if someone had been watching him-yesterday while he'd been in the yard, and even as he'd been cooking just a little while ago.
It had been rather disconcerting, in the beginning. Assuming it was just an Order member guarding him, he had just tried to ignore them. But then he started wondering whether anyone was actually there. If there was, it meant they were watching the house, and could see the yard. But if they could, why hadn't they come to him and questioned him about his wounds and scars? The Order members didn't know they were there, after all. Surely the sight would concern them?
On top of that, the Order members never actually followed him inside the house, which was why he quickly dismissed the thought of it being an Order member. After all, if one of them had seen what his uncle had done last night, they would have intervened, right?
But Harry quickly put the strange feeling behind him and focused on his chores that morning. The moment he had left the loo after dealing with his injuries, his aunt had cornered him and practically demanded that he do the new neighbours a favour and mow their terribly overgrown lawn.
The teen simply rolled his eyes inwardly at the given task. Aunt Petunia always did this when new neighbours move in. She wanted to show off how polite they were-that they (Harry) would mow their lawn without having been asked, simply out of the goodness of their hearts. Bullshit. Of course, that was only until she actually met the neighbours, and decided whether they were better than her or not, at which point she would work Harry harder in making her seem like the better one instead. Ugh.
Harry waited until Uncle Vernon had finally left for work, just so he'd be out of the way, and then made his way out to the shed to grab the possibly-from-the-States mower, and then crossed the fence. But when he was standing in the middle of Number Two's front lawn with said mower, Harry began to hesitate.
He looked over at the house, a frown on his face. What should he do? Should he knock on the door and tell whoever was inside that his aunt had sent him to mow their lawn? That was generally what he did. Were they even up yet? It was still so early-only half past seven.
After a moment, he reached a decision. Not wanting to disturb the neighbours, especially considering they had only just moved in and were very likely tired, he simply shrugged and figured he might as well get to work. If there were any questions, he would just explain later on.
Annoyed that he had to, once again, mow a bloody lawn after the injuries he'd gotten the previous night, he began, starting at the far end, the wounds bogging him down, making the chore harder to complete than usual. The heat wasn't helping either, honestly. Why was it so hot this early in the morning anyway?
Struggling out of his shirt, he draped it over the fence carelessly, and rolled his stiff shoulders, wincing a little at the way it pulled at his still healing injuries. Eager to finish quickly and get back inside where it was cooler, Harry pushed his sweaty fringe out of his eyes, grabbed hold of the mower again, and went on with his job, not noticing the crimson eyes locked on his sweaty form...
It took some time, longer than he'd have liked, but once he was finished, Harry headed back to Number Four, replaced the mower, and then entered the house. He had only just stepped into the kitchen, hoping for some water, when he was, once again, accosted by his aunt. Dammit.
This time, she wanted him to cook a large, fancy meal for the neighbours, who she was apparently planning on inviting over that evening. Harry merely nodded silently, wondering why she always had him cook before she had even asked the people over. What if they were busy and couldn't come? If they had moved in only yesterday, wouldn't they still be unpacking and stuff?
He just sighed and got to work. He actually liked to cook, and despite the fact that making this meal was probably going to take him all day, put his all into the task.
Heh, if only his enemies could see him now...
Approximately two hours earlier, Severus and Lucius had still been waiting for the Dark Lord to return to Number Two. They had begun to worry when he hadn't returned by sunrise, which was odd, even for him. But before they had the chance to voice their concern to one another, their Lord returned in what was clearly a very bad mood.
The two men exchanged a rather cautious glance, before rising and bowing immediately, both glad they were properly dressed. Though the Dark Lord had indeed changed, it didn't mean he no longer took his anger out on them occasionally, and finding them half nude (or worse) in his sitting room, likely wasn't going to improve his mood at all.
Severus and Lucius did so, watching their Lord sink down into an armchair. They sat down as well, once he waved a hand at them, aware now that they were not about to be tortured or anything. Thank Salazar.
There was a long silence that was eventually broken by the Potions Master. "Has something happened, my Lord?" he asked, ignoring Lucius who was shooting him a look that plainly said he thought he was crazy for speaking before being spoken to.
But the Dark Lord didn't answer, and Severus didn't speak again. Both he and the blond knew it was best to wait, now that it was clear their Lord wished for silence. This time, the silence lasted far longer, long enough that other men surely would have started fidgeting. But Severus and Lucius remained still and quiet, other than exchanging the occasional glance as a form of communication between themselves.
Something was obviously wrong.
"Lucius, return home to your son," said the Dark Lord suddenly. "Severus, you too should leave. The old man will likely be wondering where you are."
Said men glanced at one another once more, before bowing to their Lord. "As you wish," they said together...
Tom had hardly been aware of the presences of Severus and Lucius when he had returned to Number Two, and had sent them off almost absently. He wasn't quite ready to tell them what he had learned-didn't even have his own mind wrapped around it yet.
Still, he frowned. Why had Severus never mentioned anything about the abuse the Boy-Who-Lived was very clearly dealing with? Severus, being a professor at the boy's school, spent plenty of time around him, so he surely must have seen it. He had to have recognized the signs, especially after having to suffer through it himself.
In that manner, Lucius too was the same. Even though he didn't spend nearly as much time around Harry as Severus did, it was sill something he should have seen-noticed.
But even without them, why hadn't Harry said anything to anyone himself? Tom just couldn't help but wonder that, wonder whether the old man knew about any of this. Was Dumbledore at all aware of what his Golden Boy was going through?
Tom grunted in irritation. Feeling a migraine building, Tom decided to contemplate on this later, and headed towards the bathroom. He would take a shower. Maybe standing under the spray would ease the pounding in his head.
Slowly stripping down, the man stepped into the tub and flipped on the shower head, waiting for the water to heat up before he shut his eyes and ducked under it, allowing the water to soak his hair. He placed his hands, palms down, on the wall in front of him, and released a soft sigh of sheer bliss as steam formed around him, water trailing down his long, lean body.
As he stood there under the hot spray, Tom found himself contemplating Harry's situation, only now abruptly realizing that he was referring to his enemy by his first name. Strange. It took him another moment to register the foreign feeling running through him. Pity. He was pitying Harry Potter, something he had never once imagined he would ever be doing.
He remained as he was for a few more minutes, before figuring he'd been in the shower long enough. Tom soaped himself up and rinsed off, emerging from the bathroom fully dressed a moment later. Rubbing at his wet hair with a towel (he despised using magic for this task), the man headed back into the sitting room, mourning at how much he missed having Nagini around to talk to. He couldn't risk having her here.
Tom frowned when he heard the unmistakable sound of a lawn mower-one far too close for it to belong to one of the neighbours. Odd. He approached the front window, and shifted the curtains to peer outside, only to freeze on the spot, towel escaping his grasp and hitting the floor quietly.
Right outside, mowing the lawn, was a very shirtless, and very sweaty Harry Potter. Tom stared as beads of sweat made a slow, languid path down a tanned, scarred back-watched them slide over a firm, scarred chest. Harry was virtually glowing under the sun, reflecting the early morning sunshine.*
Tom was almost mesmerized by the tantalizing sight. Sweet Salazar, the boy is gorgeous, he thought, absently wondering why he wasn't all that worried by the tightening in his trousers. He knew he probably should be, considering who this was and whatnot, but he really just couldn't care less about it.
It was at that very moment that the Dark Lord decided that he wanted Harry Potter for himself. He wanted him, and by Salazar he was going to have him...
Around noon, there was a knock on Tom's door, and when he opened it, he wasn't at all surprised to find the tall, horse faced woman he knew to be Harry's aunt, standing on the other side. Masking a sneer and pleased he had pulled his glamour back up to change his eyes from red to grey, he greeted the woman with a polite smile.
The woman flushed deeply, an unnatural red gracing her thin face, but she smiled as well. "My name is Petunia Dursley," she spoke, "and I live next door. I was wondering if you would like to join my husband, son, and I for dinner this evening? We would like to properly welcome you to our neighbourhood."
Tom, still smiling, inclined his head. "It would be my pleasure, Mrs Dursley."
Petunia beamed, and the flush in her cheeks deepened. "Please call me Petunia, Mr-"
"Oh, how rude of me," murmured Tom, looking convincingly upset, not that he really actually cared. "I beg your pardon for not having introduced myself earlier. My name is Thomas Riddle. It's a pleasure making your acquaintance." An alias would be unnecessary. He allowed his smile to fade, just a touch. "Out of curiosity, you said your husband and son, correct?"
The woman nodded eagerly, a smile on her thin face. "Yes, Vernon and Dudley will be so pleased to meet you."
"And what of the small, black haired boy? The one who was mowing your lawn when I moved in yesterday, and so kindly mowing my own this morning? He lives with you, no? I saw him enter and leave your house, after all. I noticed he seems to have sustained many injuries over the past few years. His scars no doubt tell many tales. Was that your son-Dudley, was it?"
He knew otherwise, naturally, but he was curious to see how the woman would react, especially considering she hadn't mentioned Harry yet at all. He watched her eyes widen, heard her breath quicken, and knew she was thinking as fast as she could, trying to come up with an explanation-an excuse.
"He...he does live with us, yes, but he-he is not my son. That...that was my nephew," Petunia finally replied, quickly growing confident in what she was saying. She leaned into him, and lowered her voice, as if she were about to tell him a secret of some sort. "I should like to explain to you before you hear the inane gossip from others, be he is, unfortunately, a bit of a delinquent."
Tom raised a brow, but said nothing, allowing her to continue at her leisure.
"His parents were involved in a car crash when he was a baby-drunk, I believe, and even though we-my husband and I, raised him as our own son, he continues to act out. That's why he like to keep him busy. He was up early this morning, and I was worried he might get into trouble, so I asked him to mow your lawn. It looked to need it, and I assumed you wouldn't have the time to take care of it yourself, especially after having just moved in."
"I see... Keeping your nephew busy does not seem to help, then?"
Petunia sighed almost dramatically. "No, not at all."
"Yes, it really is. We send him to St Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, but it hasn't helped him much you see. He's always getting into fights, and getting hurt. And he doesn't take too kindly to strangers either. He always locks himself in his room when we have guests over."
"I see," said Tom softly. It was an impressive tale, Tom agreed inwardly. If he were like these ignorant, boring, filthy Muggles, rather than the great wizard and Dark Lord that he was, he may have actually believed her. "Well, I think I really would appreciate it if your nephew join us for dinner this evening, Petunia."
Blushing all over again at the use of her name, the woman quickly agreed to his request, and then headed off, returning to her own house next door, after arranging a time for him to come over later on...
The moment he shut the door, Tom sighed and dropped his glamour, revealing annoyed, red eyes. Harry's aunt was a fool if she assumed he had believed even an ounce of her tall tale. He was furious at the lies surrounding Harry, and appalled at the disgusting manner in which the teen was being treated.
A smile soon appeared on the man's face. He simply couldn't wait to see Harry's face when he arrived for dinner that evening. It would be oh so amusing. Besides, there were many things he wished to tell him...
*Thank Spatzi for that lovely description. Hope the time skips made sense. Anyway, I'm open to suggestions and ideas. Comments? Kudos?
Despite what occurred at the Ministry the previous month, Harry has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, as usual. A new neighbour however throws everything off balance, leaving the near sixteen year old more confused than ever. What exactly is Tom Riddle doing not only moving in, in what he would no doubt call a disgusting Muggle neighbourhood, but next door to Harry?!
Yo! This chapter comes to you before breakfast and in the middle of KH 2.5 Final Mix (I have weird priorities, I know), so if you happen to notice any glaring mistakes, feel free to point them out. Thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As Harry had expected, he had spent the vast majority of the day cooking, and he still wasn't finished, though the meal was, fortunately, nearly complete. A good thing too, as it was nearly eight o' clock, and their guest was due to arrive at any moment. And while Harry was at least pleased he hadn't wasted all his time cooking, and was glad the neighbour was actually coming, the teen knew full well that it was very unlikely that he was actually going to be receiving any of the food he was making, even though he was expected to join everyone that night (for whatever weird reason).
At eight on the dot, there was a firm knock on the door, and naturally, Harry was ordered to open it, greet their guest, and then escort whoever it was to the immaculate sitting room.
Sighing inwardly, irritation growing by the minute, Harry made his way to the front door and pulled it open. And then he just stared. A man stood across him. A tall, lean, black haired, grey eyed man, and Harry felt an odd lurch in his gut, as if he'd been walking down the stairs and had missed a step half way down.
He took a step back, and squeezed his eyes shut, fists clenched at his sides uselessly. "Please tell me I'm hallucinating," he murmured faintly, desperately wishing he had his wand on him. "Please tell me Voldemort is not standing in the doorway." Then he pinched himself hard enough to wince, and opened his eyes again...only to see that he wasn't, in fact, delusional. Voldemort, looking like a decade or so older version of the sixteen year old Tom Riddle he had seen in his Second Year, was indeed standing outside the door, looking rather nonchalant. "...What in the name of Merlin did I do to deserve this?" he questioned himself in a mutter.
This could have been a doppelganger, he told himself. Just someone who looked like the man he was thinking of. It was possible, right? It had be to. It just-it just had to!
"Well? Are you not going to invite me in, Harry?" the man asked, the teen's name virtually rolling off his tongue.
Nope, not a doppelganger. How the hell did he find me!? How did he even get onto the property!? Where the blazing fuck is the Order!? Aren't they supposed to protect me from him!? And now here he is, standing in the bloody doorway about to have dinner with us!? Yeah, this was officially a nightmare.
"What's taking you so long?" came a questioning and snappy voice from behind him, startling Harry out of his thoughts.
Harry glanced over his shoulder and saw his aunt dressed in her best lavender coloured party dress (which looked ghastly on her), quickly approaching. The black haired teen forcefully suppressed the urge to gag when he saw his aunt blushing rather furiously at the sight of the well dressed man standing before them. Wait, is Aunt Petunia crushing on Voldemort? No, crushing on Riddle?-because the former was just far too weird...not that the latter was any better or anything. If fact, it was just as fucked up.
Riddle's expression of nonchalance immediately faded away, and a charming smile graced his aristocratic looking face instead. "Petunia," he greeted, bowing slightly. "Good evening." He took the woman's skinny, bony hand, and brushed his lips over it. (Harry nearly gagged again.) "Thank you for having me over."
Before Harry could say anything-before he could even form another thought, his aunt led his mortal enemy down the hallway and into the sitting room, hissing at him to shut the door and check on the roast...
Harry did as instructed, and after making sure nothing was burning, brought four glasses of juice in on a tray, serving them as Riddle introduced himself. The teen was surprised the Dark Lord was using his real name though. Wasn't he trying to hide who he really was? Well, evidently not, but why? Either way, Harry certainly hadn't expected it.
Those unreadable grey eyes landed on his green ones when he brought the tray to Riddle, allowing him to take the first glass, only because if he hadn't, his uncle would probably punish him for a lack of manners later on, and he really wanted to avoid more pain while he could.
"Now, this is a surprisingly domestic scene, isn't it?" muttered the man so softly that only Harry could hear him.
"Tch." Deciding it would be smartest not to comment on that, Harry returned to the kitchen to finish things up and set the table, trying to ignore the weird way Riddle kept...leering at him rather suggestively, for whatever bizarre reason.
And while everyone else's plates held a large serving of roast, mashed potatoes, peas, and rolls, all freshly made, Harry's held nothing but a slice of stale bread and a cube of cheese that had he had needed to cut the mouldy bits off of. Harry was disappointed, of course, but he really hadn't expected otherwise. At least it was better than nothing and would help curb the hunger gnawing at him...
Tom was seated at the dining table in the Dursleys household, Vernon at the head to his left, Petunia opposite her husband, Dudley across Tom with the entire side to himself as he wouldn't fit in anything less, and Harry, as luck (or bad luck in Harry's opinion) would have it, was right next to the Dark Lord.
The first thing Tom had noticed was how delicious the meal looked, and he had a feeling, judging by the way Harry had been ordered away earlier, that the teen had been the one to prepare it, which was quite a remarkable feat in itself. The next thing he noticed was that Harry's plate held an entirely different meal than the rest...for what it was even worth calling it that.
Tom had, of course, asked why Harry was not eating the same thing as the rest of them, and had been told a calm and convincing- "Well, our nephew isn't feeling very well, and it wouldn't be good for this stomach to eat such heavy food." Tom didn't buy that at all. If the teen really was ill, he wouldn't have been cooking, lest he contaminate the food with germs. He couldn't believe this was all Harry was getting for dinner, but of course, he had no idea how pleased Harry was that he was actually even getting something to eat.
Dinner itself was an interesting ordeal. While the food was excellent, the best roast he'd ever had, actually, his present company left much to be desired. Whereas Harry was completely silent, eating his pitiful meal in small bites, the Dursleys all but wolfed their own food down, talking boisterously, bragging about this and that. Tom was appalled by the lack of manners Vernon and Dudley seemed to have, and Petunia, when she wasn't staring at him and blushing, simply looked as if she were smelling something disgusting each and every time her eyes happened to land on her nephew.
Tom found the interactions between the Dursleys and Harry to be rather fascinating, actually, but not in a good way. It didn't take him long to notice the way they never used Harry's given name, and they hardly looked at him. All through dinner, they basically behaved as if they were the only ones at the table-the three of them and Tom, and the man despised that.
Wanting to liven things up just a little, push away his boredom, gain some entertainment, and satiate his curiosity slightly, Tom decided to reward Harry for the excellent meal. So, he took his free hand and brought it to rest on Harry's thigh. He was rewarded immediately by a sharp inhale, the teen nearly choking on a bit of his cheese. When Tom glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Harry's cheeks had turned a light shade of pink.
Tom squeezed the flesh under his hand, and discovered that while a little thin (he'd have to make sure Harry got more to eat from now on), it was actually rather firm. It must have been from all the Quidditch he'd been told the boy enjoyed to play. That and having to run for his life, unfortunately.
Harry's hands were trembling a little now, but Tom, not at all satisfied yet, wanted a bigger reaction. Smirking inwardly, he ran his large hand up the teen's thigh, and when Harry unwittingly spread his legs a bit, let his fingers come to rest on the inside of the teen's thigh. Harry's breath hitched again, and his cheeks darkened even more, but he didn't say anything, didn't even move save for raising his glass up to his lips to sip some water (even though the rest of them, even Dudley, had wine).
This still wasn't enough for Tom though. He still wanted more. So he slid his hand further up, up over a slowly growing bulge, up until he reached the waistband of the teen's jeans. They were very large, and even with the belt, it was very easy for the man to slide his hand beneath the waistband of both Harry's jeans and boxers. He ran his fingers through the patch of hair, and gently stroked down the stiffening length below it.
Harry choked again, and began to cough harshly, cheeks a rather fetching red now. The hand not holding the half eaten slice of stale bread was clutching the rim of the table tightly. "W-wh-what the fuck are you doing!?" he hissed as quietly as possible, clearly not wanting the Dursleys to clue into what was going on.
Tom didn't reply, nor did he remove his hand from where it had begun a rather slow rhythm of pumping the cock it was fisted around, using pre-come to ease the way a little. Instead, he sipped his wine and, focusing on Vernon, said, "Yes, I quite agree that the drill manufacturing business can be beneficial, but is it not difficult to meet quotas?"
Vernon chortled heartily. "Not as hard as those poor fools competing against us!"
Though Tom didn't find that to be humorous at all, he chuckled. Swallowing another forkful of the delicious roast, he continued pumping and tugging at Harry's lovely cock, wishing he could see it, though there was no denying he quite liked the feel of it in his hand. He found it rather amusing that the Dursleys hadn't yet noticed what he was doing to their nephew and cousin. It was very obvious, after all. It seemed they truly were as dim as he had assumed.
The Dark Lord glanced at Harry again, and saw that he was gripping the edge of the table so hard that his knuckles had turned white, and the flush in his cheeks had travelled down his neck. Stunning, really. Tom increased his pace, and Harry immediately bit down on his bottom lip. Tom knew he was close.
Harry suddenly released a barely audible whine, before all but shoving some bread into his mouth to stifle the sound. He went ridged, and Tom grinned inwardly when he felt the teen's hot, sticky release coat his fingers.
Breathing heavily, Harry went limp and leaned back in his chair, as Tom pulled his hand back, using a non-verbal cleaning charm on both of them. Still watching his new yet old obsession out of the corner of his eye, he used the hand that had been covered in come, to pick up his wine glass for a drink. He noticed Harry glaring at him with half lidded, lust filled eyes, cheeks still flushed, bottom lip red and swollen. Simply gorgeous, he found himself thinking...
Once all five plates had been cleared, which hadn't taken much time at all, the group returned to the sitting room, minus Harry who had been told to clear the table and wash the dishes (Tom wondered if he should bring up the fact that the teen was apparently supposed to be ill, and thus, not working).
And while Harry took care of this, Tom was left in the pleasant and intelligent company of the three Dursleys. He would actually rather spend time with Crabbe and Goyle Sr, and that was really saying something. He now found himself wishing he had brought Severus and Lucius with him. At least they would have been able to save his brain cells from dying off.
Tom found himself desperately waiting for Harry to return, aware that he at least could hold a decent conversation. Unfortunately, the moment the teen entered the sitting room and finished serving a desert of a fancy looking pudding, (not making eye contact with him all the while, and his cheeks still flushed) he was ordered to go to bed. When Tom attempted to intervene, he was told by Petunia that the boy was ill and in need of rest. (Oh, so now he was ill again, was he? After he had finished all the work? Did they really think he didn't find that to be suspicious?)
So Harry, not complaining at all, but sending him a glare that held mistrust, left the room to head to bed. Tom heard the door to the cupboard under the stairs shut softly, and now he knew for sure that that was definitely where Harry was sleeping. How despicable.
Tom wished he could kill those filthy, disgusting Muggles. How dare they treat a wizard child like nothing but a common mutt?! How dare they treat Harry like a common mutt!? He left Number Four the moment he could, and made his way back next door to his own current home of Number Two, planning all the while...
...I feel like we're all perverts deep inside. And I know this is short. It used to be even shorter before I edited it and added a new scene to it. Comments? Kudos?
The next morning found Harry in the front yard doing more yard work, which he didn't understand at all since he had already done all this a couple of days before. Digging through the dirt, readying it for him to plant some more seeds, Harry's mind wandered back to the previous night.
He still couldn't believe what had happened! He'd had dinner with the Dursleys. He'd had dinner not only with the Dursleys, but freaking Voldemort too! And the bloody Dark Lord had sat next to him at the table, and jerked him off right there! That had been a first on all three counts! It was almost surreal, but Harry still wondered why the Order hadn't come to help him, or stop Voldemort. ...Was it even worth calling him Voldemort anymore? Because he sure as hell didn't look like him.
Harry flushed slightly as he recalled Riddle's new look. It was almost the same as when he had come out of that weird diary, except that he was older-late twenties, if he had to guess. He'd been dressed rather casually in black slacks and a dark blue button down that had practically framed his broad shoulders and lean build. His hands had changed a bit too, from his snake-self. They were still long and slim, but the nails weren't pointed and sharp anymore. In fact, Riddle's hand had felt rather...soft, actually.
The teen still couldn't wrap his mind around it. He seriously did that, didn't he? He actually jerked me off at the dining table, right in front of the Dursleys! What in the name of Salazar Slytherin himself possessed him to do that!? Isn't he trying to kill me? Is he going to pleasure me to death or something? Harry was actually able to feel himself blush even harder. I think it's time to stop thinking now...
Forcing himself to stop thinking about all that before he recalled the more...interesting details, like the feel of the man's hand around his prick, or the way he sort of scrapped his nails down it, causing just a little bit of pain on top of the pleasure, or-stop! He quickly focused one something else instead-how had Riddle managed to get past the wards?
The only reason Harry was even at Privet Drive, was because the Blood Wards from his mother's sacrifice protected him. Well, according to Dumbledore, at least. But how the hell did that still stand? He and Riddle had sat close together the previous night, among other things he knew he really shouldn't dwell on, and it seemed clear that the Order had no idea about anything, considering they hadn't come storming yet.
"Working again, Harry?"
The teen started and quickly looked round...only to see Tom Riddle strolling towards him, a smile on his aristocratically shaped face. He stopped a few feet away from him, but continued to smile charmingly. His trousers were pretty much the same as the day before, but his shirt was a deep green today. The teen tore his eyes away quickly, before they started roaming and lingering.
Harry, fighting down another blush as he forced the thoughts of the dinner time handjob to the back on his mind, looked around for any sign of the Order, but saw nothing. He frowned. "What do you want, Riddle?"
The man blinked. "What, no more Voldemort?" He actually seemed genuinely surprised by that.
There was a pause where Harry decided not to answer that, mainly because he had no idea how to. "How did you get passed the wards?" he questioned finally. There, a nice safe topic for them to talk about.
"You should already know the answer to that, Harry. All you need to do is think."
And Harry did so, returning to his gardening, keeping a cautious eye on the man standing nearby. Riddle said nothing, but leaned down as if in an effort to get closer to him. Harry ignored him, but ended up pricking his finger on a thorn from a rose in the bush in front of him that he hadn't been paying attention to.
He cursed under his breath at the sharp sting, but then, as he stared down at the small injury on his finger, the green eyed teen suddenly understood. "My blood," he breathed, looking back up at the man. "You took my blood."
Riddle gave him a congratulatory smile, and leaned in far too close, speaking directly into Harry's ear. "That's right, Harry. I took your blood."
Harry flushed at the proximity, and the feel of Riddle's breath on his ear. He bit down on his lip to prevent himself from making any sort of noise that might embarrass him, desperately trying to convince himself that it was only because he was a teenager, that he wanted to feel the man's hand wrapped around him again.
Riddle went on, and Harry could feel him smiling against his skin. "The wards are pointless, Harry. Nothing can protect you from me now."
The teen jumped in surprise when Riddle nipped his earlobe, and he quickly looked down at his dirt covered hands, desperate to hide his flushing face. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Riddle pull away again, but he didn't go very far. There was still no hint of a wand.
"Why haven't you killed me yet?" questioned Harry suddenly. The man had clearly had many opportunities to kill him so far, and he hadn't done so yet. He couldn't have been worried about the Order, since they clearly weren't in the way here. Unless whoever was watching was a sadist and enjoyed watching him squirm in front of the Dark Lord. ...Maybe it was Snape.
Riddle just chuckled lightly, looking almost...amused, as if Harry had just uttered some sort of joke. "I no longer wish to kill you, Harry," he hissed in Parseltongue.
"Then what do you want?" Harry managed to ask in the same language, biting back a gasp at the odd way the sound of Riddle using it made him feel.
"I want to help you, Harry. I want to take you away from this hell. I want to bring you with me."
The sound of Riddle speaking in Parseltongue was really getting to Harry now, but even then he didn't know what to say to that. He had so many questions he wanted to ask, so many suspicions he wanted to voice, but he had no idea where to even begin. He didn't know if he was saved or not when his uncle's car suddenly pulled up into the drive. His eyes widened when he saw this, and realized that he hadn't finished with the gardening.
"I forgot Uncle Vernon was coming home early again today!" he gasped, thoroughly distracted from what had just been going on. "I'm not done yet!" he added, horrified. Oh, oh he was so dead, and he wasn't even exaggerating.
Riddle said nothing, and Harry wasn't sure whether he even wanted him to, but Harry's eyes widened when Uncle Vernon approached, grinning almost maniacally. He reached down and grabbed hold of his arm in a grip tight enough for the teen to wince.
"Thank you for watching over my nephew, Mr Riddle, but I need him inside now," grinned Uncle Vernon. And before Riddle could even answer, Harry was being dragged inside the house and up to Dudley's second bedroom.
Harry knew exactly what was coming. He was tossed into the room, hitting the floor roughly. Looking up at his uncle and holding back a tired sigh, he pulled off his shirt without being told to. He knew he was going to have to later on anyway, so what was the point in waiting? Doing so would only make things worse.
Uncle Vernon didn't waste any time hitting him and instead had him position himself facing the wall. Harry braced himself for the incoming pain. He didn't have to wait long. Biting back a gasp of pain, Harry squared his shoulders for the next lash, after which came another lash, and then another, and another and ano-
Beginning to black out, all Harry heard was an angry yell, before he slid down to his knees, unaware of the world around him...
Tom had spent another sleepless night lost in thought about none other than Harry Potter. Dinner had gone in the manner he had expected it to. He had planned on spending more time talking to Harry, something that he hadn't been able to do at all. The three Dursleys had continuously dragged him into their pointless conversations, and Harry hadn't said much of anything, though Tom now had a feeling that was because he hadn't been allowed to do so. Though bringing the teen to completion had been lovely indeed. In fact, it had very quickly become the highlight of the night.
And then that morning, when he had glanced out his window and seen Harry alone in the yard, planting away, Tom had decided that it was once again time to take advantage of the situation. He wasn't worried about the Order. They would know nothing. They didn't appear to be around anyway.
Approaching the teen, he sighed softly when he made note of the boy's hideous clothing. Harry was the heir of the Potter and Black families, wealthier than even the Malfoys, and here he was, dressed like this. "Working again, Harry?"
Their conversation had gone as he had expected it to, with Harry answering him rather cautiously while he glanced around for those foolish Order members as he did so. The topic of Blood Wards had come up too, which didn't surprise the man, and he allowed Harry to figure the answer out on his own, something that didn't take him long to do.
But Tom did very much adore that lovely blush that appeared on Harry's face, and he couldn't help but tease him a little, leaning in close and whispering into his ear before nipping the small lobe as he pulled back. And even after that, he went on with the teasing, loving the way Harry reacted to him speaking in the ancient tongue of the serpents, loving how he bit down on the full bottom lip to stop himself from gasping. And he absolutely loved the sound of Harry answering back in that same tongue. His blood shot straight down to his cock, and all he wanted was to keep this discussion going. Unfortunately, Harry's uncle chose that very moment to return home, cutting their conversation short.
Tom didn't need to see the sudden flash of fear on Harry's face to know that this was bad. He saw him wince when Dursley grabbed his arm too tightly and hauled him to his feet. And Tom didn't even get a chance to say anything before they were gone, disappearing into the house.
It actually took Tom a moment to process what had just happened, and when he did, he began to growl, his anger building. Damn those Dursleys! Damn Dumbledore and his worthless Order!
Jumping to his feet, he rushed into the house, stunning the boy's aunt when she opened her mouth to scream at the sight of him. She may have been blushing the day before, but he wasn't glaring with furious crimson eyes at the time. Tom was ready for blood. He hadn't actually used his wand though, luckily.
Recalling where Vernon had 'punished' Harry the other day, he bounded up the stairs and the door with five locks and a pet door blasted open. He entered the room in time to see Vernon about to bring the whip down on Harry's back again, and wordlessly disarmed him of his weapon, stunning the man the same way when he began to yell, face purple.
He saw Harry sliding down to his knees, and he reached out, grabbing hold of the now unconscious teen before he hit the floor. Snarling and swearing, he scooped Harry up into his arms, before wandlessly summoning and shrinking all of Harry's belongings, shoving them into his pocket.
Tom Riddle was taking Harry Potter with him, and there was no way the teen would ever be returning to the Dursley house. Of course, he'd prefer to kill them all anyway. A task he'd take care of later, once Harry was healed.
Nodding to himself, Tom left Number Four and returned next door to Number Two, laying Harry down on his stomach on the bed in one of the upstairs bedrooms. He didn't wish to further aggravate the wounds on his back. Pulling the black haired teen's things out of his pocket, he put them all down before enlarging them. He opened the window ensuring Harry's owl could enter should it return, and then he stalked downstairs, summoning Severus and Lucius as he descended the stairs...
At that moment, Severus was in his personal lab at Hogwarts Castle, brewing a potion that Dumbledore had...requested from him. He had no idea why the old man wanted it, just that he did, and Severus was not in the position to question things that he 'had no place in', as Dumbledore often reminded him.
He was in the middle of a series of clockwise stirs, when he felt his Dark Mark begin to burn. Hissing, he completed the stirs and immediately placed the potion under stasis. He sent his Patronus off to Dumbledore, informing him that he had been summoned again, something he had to, unfortunately, do, and left immediately after, Apparating to Privet Drive and making his way down the street to Number Two.
Approaching the door, he caught sight of Lucius doing the same. They reached the porch at the same time, and nodding to one another, the older man knocked on the door. It was opened by the Dark Lord himself, and if he had seemed angry the previous day, that was nothing compared to how furious he looked now.
Something was very wrong, and Severus just hoped he wasn't punished for it...
Lucius was in his study at Malfoy Manor, attempting to complete some paperwork he was behind on. His sixteen year old son, Draco, was in the room with him, working on his Transfiguration essay. These were moments Lucius lived for, especially after his divorce with Narcissa, quiet and peaceful. They were more rare than one might think.
They had never actually been in love, and their marriage had been decided due to a contract signed by their parents when they'd been not more than toddlers. The Malfoy line needed an heir after all. Really though, beyond Draco, they had nothing in common.
They had both taken on lovers over the years and now Narcissa had found someone who she truly loved, someone who loved her. So they had broken off their marriage so that they could both be happy. Though Draco had been a little confused, he had understood, and decided to stay with his father, though he would visit his mother when he could.
Groaning inwardly at the amount of paperwork he had left to do, he released a pained hiss when his Dark Mark suddenly began to burn. Draco looked up at him in concern, but Lucius waved him away, signalling he continue with his homework, and walked off immediately.
Apparating to Privet Drive, Lucius approached Number Two, encountering Severus as he reached the porch. They exchanged a nod, realizing they had been the only ones summoned, seeing as no one else appeared to be in sight, and Lucius reached out to knock on the door. The Dark Lord opened it immediately, and Lucius swallowed hard when he saw how angry the man looked.
Something was very wrong, and Lucius just hoped he wasn't punished for it...
Tom waited impatiently for Severus and Lucius to arrive. He knew they wouldn't take long. They wouldn't dare to keep him waiting. The moment there was a knock on the door, he stepped over to yank it open immediately, noting the way the two men quickly hid their nervousness when they saw him, just as they always managed to do. But he didn't have the time or the desire to focus on that right now.
"In," he declared, turning away and making his way up the stairs. The other two would follow him, he knew. He led them into the bedroom he had left Harry in, the teen still unconscious, which was hardly surprising. He heard soft sounds of surprise from both men, but ignored it and turned to them. "Heal him," he demanded. "Now." There was no room for argument.
Neither Severus nor Lucius asked any questions and all but leapt into action, running diagnostic spells and pulling out potion vials. This was the reason why these two were the Dark Lord's most loyal. They knew when to speak and when not to, knew what and what not to do without managing to anger him, which admittedly, wasn't particularly easy.
Tom stood where he was, watching the two men work, crimson eyes narrowed. He wanted to hurt the Dursleys. He wanted to torture them. He wanted to inflict the same pain on them that they had on Harry. And only when he was satisfied would he kill them. ...No, they didn't even deserve death, did they? They deserved pain. Years of pain and no mercy.
"My Lord, you should see this."
Lucius' voice pulled Tom out of his thoughts, and he looked over at the blond man who was holding a rather long sheet of parchment. It must have been a couple of feet in length. "What is it, Lucius?"
The man hesitated for a brief moment. "His medical history."
Tom frowned and took the offered sheet of parchment as Lucius turned back to help Severus with the healing. The red eyed man stared down at the words on the paper. The further he read, the more angry he became. His crimson iris' flicked over to Harry, and he wondered how the teen was even alive with more than half the injuries he had sustained over the years. Tom was very glad he had intervened quick enough to prevent worse injuries than the teen currently had.
Right now he only had a broken rib and a minor concussion, along with the lashes on his back and the bruises on his chest and torso. Tom knew that was nothing compared to usual, he had seen that first hand the other day. And the injuries from the day before had obviously not healed yet, so those too were being dealt with.
Placing the parchment down, Tom sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. He was so tired, enough that he felt as if he hadn't slept in days. Refocusing on the teen in bed, he noted that Severus and Lucius had finally slowed their movements. "Have you finished healing him?"
Severus glanced over at him. "Nearly, my Lord. All that is left is to spread this salve on his bruises."
"I see. Then allow me." Tom went over and took the container of bruise salve from the other man. "I'm sure Draco is concerned for you, Lucius, and Dumbledore is likely wondering why I have summoned you again so soon, Severus. Tell him I require certain potions. That should satisfy him for the time being."
"Of course, my Lord." Severus paused for a moment, and exchanged a hesitant look with Lucius. "Will you inform us when Potter awakens?"
"We would like to speak to him," added Lucius, looking equally hesitant.
"Very well. Now go before I decide to take my anger on the Dursleys out on the two of you." It wasn't exactly an empty threat.
The other two men left immediately, bowing and leaving the room. When they had, Tom approached the bed and sat down on the edge. Harry was still laying on his front, and Tom stared at the many scars littering his skin. Carefully turning the teen so he was laying on his back, Tom unscrewed the cap off the container and dipped his fingers into the salve, before beginning to gently rub it into Harry's many bruises.
Tom didn't think he'd ever seen Harry look so peaceful before. It was actually rather strange, surreal almost. Once he was finished with his task, he tucked the teen in and left him to rest, placing a monitoring charm over Harry as he did so, to ensure he knew when he woke.
He would have to wait for Harry to wake up before he could explain all he needed to. Tom just hoped he would be given the chance to do that...
When Harry awoke, he expected to be laying on the small cot in his cramped cupboard, curled up, in pain, and cold. What he didn't expect was to be stretched out on a large bed with the softest sheets he had ever felt, warm and feeling nothing but a dull throb of pain that signified him recently being healed. He knew the feeling well enough.
Confused, Harry opened his eyes. At first, everything just looked blurry, and it took him a moment to realize that it was because he wasn't wearing his glasses. He automatically reached over to the side in an attempt to find them, and when he did, slipped them on.
Sitting up, the teen looked around, not recognizing the place at all. Another look made him notice how similar the space looked to Dudley's room, except there were many things missing, such as the blue walls, and all the pointless junk his cousin kept. Glancing left, he craned his neck to look out the open window. Well he was still in Privet Drive, he realized as he saw Number Three across the street. Harry frowned, looking closer. Wait, that isn't Number Three, that's Number One. But then, that means I'm-
"Harry, you're awake."
The teen whipped around at the sudden voice, and watched warily as Tom Riddle approached, looking rather tired. Harry shrugged cautiously. "I guess."
"How are you feeling?" asked the man, sitting down at the edge of the bed, near his knees. He didn't touch him, just sat there, which was actually rather surprising compared to what he had been doing lately.
"Fine," Harry replied, eyes narrowing. He stared at Riddle, unsure of what to think. "You helped me?"
Riddle inclined his head. "I already knew what your...uncle was doing, and decided it was time to intervene."
"Is he still alive?"
The green eyed teen stared more, looking almost incredulous. "Really?"
There was a pause as the two simply regarded one another, emerald into crimson. Then Harry blinked. "Weren't your eyes grey earlier?"
Riddle seemed startled by the sudden unexpected question, but answered nonetheless. "That was merely a glamour."
Yet another round of almost uncomfortable silence enfolded the room. "Does...does anyone else know?" asked Harry quietly, when he could no longer stand the awkward silence.
Harry brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. "About...about me, about my-my uncle." He was desperately wishing that the answer would be no. He wouldn't be able to stand it if anyone did.
"Other than myself, only Severus and Lucius are aware of all this. They were the ones who healed you once I brought you here."
Harry froze, and then went limp as wave of something that felt like anguish hit him. He practically collapsed onto himself, forcing back tears. Snape knew. Malfoy knew. What were the chances that others knew too? Would Snape and Malfoy really not tell anyone? Malfoy would tell his son, wouldn't he? Then Draco would tell his friends and the other Slytherins, and then all of Hogwarts would know, and then the entire Wizarding World would know. He stiffened suddenly when he felt a pair of rather strong arms close around him, and found himself staring at a firm, blue clad chest.
"W-what the hell are you doing?" he demanded in question. He wasn't used to being touched, let alone hugged. Then again, Riddle hugging him was nothing compared to him jerking him off, right?
"Comforting you, naturally."
Harry gave the man a moment, then bracing his hands on the hard chest, shoved him away. Harshly. But Riddle came back, and completely unperturbed, gathered him close once more. Harry tried to push him away again, but was unable to, and after a moment of struggling, went limp again, allowing Riddle to hold him. They remained that way for a long while, silence reigning through the room. Harry took a few shaky breaths as he listened to Riddle's heart beat against his ear. It was rather soothing, actually.
This whole thing was very strange. His parents' killer had not only rescued him from his abusive relatives, but had helped heal him, and was now sitting here, hugging him in comfort...never mind the handjob during dinner the previous night. And he had a heart! Strange how he had never even considered that-Voldemort having a beating heart.
They only broke apart when Harry's stomach rumbled in a Ronesque manner, causing Riddle to chuckle lightly, the sound sending confusing shivers down the teen's spine.
"Hungry?" asked the black haired man.
Harry nodded hesitantly, and pulled away from Riddle, who got off the bed and headed over to the door. "A bit," he replied in a murmur.
"Well freshen up, then come downstairs."
"...Okay." He watched Riddle begin to walk out the door, then called out after him. "What am I supposed to call you?" He sure as hell wasn't about to go on calling him 'Voldemort', because that was really weird, and calling him 'Riddle' just sounded a bit rude to him, though he wasn't sure why it made him feel so uncomfortable.
Riddle reappeared in the doorway, an amused smile on his face. "Whatever you want, Harry."
There was another chuckle, this one both softer and deeper than the last. "Only you, Harry. Only you can call me that."
Harry nodded and waited until he heard Tom descend the stairs before he struggled to his feet. He went over to the window to look outside properly, and wondered whether the Dursleys really were still alive. He wasn't sure how he would feel if they weren't. Would he miss them? Probably not. He just...didn't know.
Glad that the layout of the house was exactly the same as Number Four, Harry didn't need to bother searching around for the bathroom, and freshened up as Tom had suggested he do. When he emerged from the loo, he could smell food, which only made his stomach rumble and grumble more.
Returning to the bedroom he had woken up in, he found his trunk on the floor, and quickly changed his clothes. The ones he was currently wearing had blood on them. Once that was taken care of, he searched through the trunk for his wand. He couldn't find it. Everything else was there: his school things, his Invisibility Cloak, the Marauders' Map, even his Firebolt was sitting next to the trunk. But where was his wand?
Harry made his way downstairs with a frown on his face, which promptly deepened when he entered the dining room and found a table set for four. "Er-"
Tom turned to look a him. "Come sit, Harry."
"Where's my wand?"
The man regarded him carefully for a moment, before pulling a wand out of a pocket. He seemed to hesitate for half a second, and then held it out for Harry to take. But Harry had to approach him to do so.
Harry stared, then began to close the distance between them, getting close enough to take his wand from Tom, and then quickly stepping back. He kept his trusty holly and phoenix feather wand in hand, not pointed at Tom, but close enough. Those crimson eyes bore into his emerald, and Harry slowly pocketed the wood.
He knew he was crazy for doing that, but Tom had had plenty of chances to kill him the past couple of days, and had even helped him, taken him away from the Dursleys. That was more than the Order had ever really done. Besides, it wasn't as if he was allowed to use magic right now anyway. With the Ministry being mental, they'd probably just expel him, no matter what he said in defence.
Hesitating for a few more seconds, the teen took a seat at the table. Tom smiled at him, causing a small fluttering to manifest in his stomach. "Um, are-will there be others joining us?"
Tom sat down across him, at the other head of the table. "Yes, Severus and Lucius. They need to check you over, now that you are awake."
Harry's eyes widened. Snape and Malfoy were coming? He had been unconscious when they had last come, but them being around while he was actually awake... They knew. He could already picture them sneering and mocking him.
"They were the ones who wished to know when you awakened, Harry," said Tom carefully. "They told me they wanted to speak to you."
The teen's brow furrowed. "Why?"
Tom shrugged, the action seeming oddly elegant on him. "I'm afraid I do not know."
Harry didn't get a chance to say anything else, for at that very moment, both Snape and the elder Malfoy walked into the dining room, both pausing for just a second when they saw him, then taking a seat at the table. Tom and Harry were at opposite heads, Snape was to Harry's right on one side, and Malfoy was on his left, opposite Snape.
At first no one spoke, and they all began to eat in silence, Harry waiting for everyone else to begin before he started himself...
Severus hadn't known what to think when he had seen Harry Potter laying unconscious on that bed, body littered with injuries. He had always considered the boy a pampered prince, but that insanely long list of hurts he'd received over the years said otherwise. After seeing that list, the man had felt more than a little guilty.
He had dealt with abuse himself at the hands of his father, and he was the one who always helped abused children at Hogwarts, being the only professor who could truly understand them. He should have been the first to see what was going on in Potter's life. Hell, he'd even seen some questionable memories in the teen's mind the previous year, and he still hadn't been able to put two and two together. Potter was a very good actor, he admitted. But there was a bigger issue there too.
Severus had been so blinded by his hate for James Potter, that he had never seen his son as 'Harry', just as a miniature version of James. He had spent five entire years treating Potter as his father, insulting and belittling him constantly. And boy did he regret that now. He regretted it because he now realized that Potter unlikely deserved any of his comments.
The key word there though was 'unlikely', and that was why he wanted to speak to the teen. He wished to know exactly how far this abuse had gone, and for how long, along with why Potter had never asked for help or told anyone what was happening. He had never expected him to be the 'silent suffering' type. And there was something he had to tell him too, something very important...
Lucius had had a very hard time hiding his surprise when he had first seen the unconscious and injured Harry Potter. While he had only seen the boy a handful of times, he had always listened to his son and his descriptions of Potter, none of which had been very flattering.
He wondered why he didn't realize what was wrong the very first time he had seen Potter in Diagon Alley before his second year at Hogwarts. The man hadn't bothered to pay attention to how small the boy was, nor how uncomfortable he had seemed, surrounded by so many. Having been abused by his own parents, Lucius should have seen and understood. But he hadn't.
Instead, Lucius had allowed others to mould his opinion-his image of Potter, something he now regretted. If he hadn't listened to them, he could have helped him instead, could have gotten him away from those filthy Muggles. But then again, Potter hadn't made it easy to tell he had been dealing with abuse in the first place. He was very good at pretending otherwise.
How far had the abuse gone though? How long had Potter been dealing with it for? Lucius had so many questions and he wasn't sure if he wanted answers or not.
While Tom normally enjoyed a nice, silent meal, he wasn't liking it very much right now. There were too many unanswered questions hanging in the air, and he couldn't help but wonder why exactly Severus and Lucius wanted to speak to Harry, when they had previously made it so clear they wanted nothing to do with him.
Tom glanced at the teen, frowning when he saw that Harry had hardly touched his food. He seemed to have eaten a few mouthfuls, and was now pushing the rest of it around on his plate, a grimace fixed on his thin face.
"Are you in pain, Harry?" he asked suddenly, ignoring the startled reactions of his two followers when they heard him speak in Parseltongue.
Surprised green eyes met his crimson ones, and a look of hesitation crossed his face. "I-I'm fine."
"You've barely made a dent in your meal," said Tom softly, ignoring the pleasure the coursed through him at the sound of the teen speaking in his favourite, sensual tongue. "Were you not hungry before?" That was, of course, a rhetorical question.
"I, um-I'm just not-not used to eating this much, that's all." His voice lowered in embarrassment. "I feel kinda sick..."
Tom stared for a moment before he was able to line the dots together, recalling the pitiful meal Harry had received the night before, and how the teen hadn't complained once. He had, in fact, almost looked grateful for the food. "They've been starving you..." he whispered, shock colouring his voice. Severus and Lucius both stared, and Tom realized he had spoken that last part in English.
Harry flushed and looked down at is near full plate. "...Yes. It's been happening forever, really. Going to Hogwarts made it a bit better, but not enough."
Nearly everything made of glass shattered, and Harry jumped in alarm, leaving all three men apologizing for their actions. A few quick Reparos fixed everything immediately, and drinks were poured in once more.
"Severus, you wouldn't happen to have a Nutrient Potion on you, would you?" asked Tom in a deadly soft voice. He wanted nothing more than to go next door and torture those despicable Muggles, but his number one priority at the moment was to make sure Harry was alright.
The onyx eyed man, still seeming at a loss from what he had just heard, pulled out his potions kit, enlarged it, and was quick to produce the right vial. He poured the required amount into Harry's glass of orange juice, and handed it to the teen. "This potion is not to be drunk alone, and must be mixed with either food or drink. It will give you the necessary nutrients for each meal, as you are unable to get them any other way, and until you can actually eat a decent amount of food, you will continue taking this potion."
Harry took the glass and stared into it. Tom could see the struggle on his face. No doubt he was wondering what the chances of him being poisoned were. A moment later he seemed to come to a decision, for he began drinking the potion-juice mix. "Thank you, sir," he said quietly.
Avada Kedavra green eyes widened in surprise at the sound of his professor calling him by his first name, and the look on his face almost made Tom smile. Almost.
They continued finishing their dinner, barring Harry who sipped his juice slowly instead...
That's it for now. Comments? Kudos?
Dinner lasted a long time. Harry of course, wasn't really able to eat anymore, but the three men took their time. Harry noted that all of them seemed to be lost in thought, and he didn't have to be Hermione to know why. No doubt they were thinking about him and what they now knew he'd been hiding. ...At least they didn't know everything.
After what seemed like hours, the group gathered in the sitting room. Snape and Malfoy sat down in separate armchairs, while Rid-Tom took a seat on the couch, hand held out for Harry to take. The teen hesitated for a long moment (he wasn't allowed on the furniture) before he finally accepted the offered hand, and was then pulled down onto the couch next to Tom. Harry was quick to produce a bit of space between them. This was still Voldemort after all.
There was a silence, and Harry, who was staring down at his hands, could practically feel three pairs of eyes on him. Yeah, as if that was helping him relax. He looked up, but avoided the gazes of the men, choosing to examine the room instead...not that there was much to see. It was clear that this was merely a temporary house. It was so...plain. Unless that was Tom's style or something, which Harry doubted.
Cursing his straying thoughts, Harry wondered whether the Order knew he wasn't at Number Four anymore. If they were watching and guarding him, then they must have seen Tom both yesterday, that morning, and whenever it was that he had gotten him away from the Dursleys, right? But then why hadn't anyone come to get him yet? Why wasn't the Order knocking on doors, demanding to know where their precious Saviour was?
Startled, the teen looked up into the concerned crimson eyes of Tom Riddle. "Y-yes?"
"Will you allow Severus and Lucius a chance to check you over?" asked the Dark Lord in a surprisingly neutral tone, as if he didn't want him to feel pressured.
Knowing hesitating was futile, Harry simply sighed and nodded. "Can you, I dunno, knock me out or something first?" There was no way he wanted to be able to see, and feel, and simply know what was happening. Besides, who knew how he would react? Madam Pomfrey could attest to that, and it wasn't pretty.
The men exchanged odd looks before Tom inclined his head. "Of course, Harry." And pulling out his wand, he pointed it at Harry and performed a very simple sleeping spell.
As consciousness left him, Harry found himself wondering whether he'd ever wake up from this. Did it really matter though? Did he even care? Harry just didn't know...
Tom wasn't really all that surprised when Harry asked to be 'knocked out'. No doubt he was uncomfortable about being conscious while they could see him so exposed. So, taking pity on the teen, he used a basic spell on him that would put him to sleep for the next little while.
Standing up, he stooped down and slipped a hand under Harry's knees, the other around his shoulder, and he easily picked him up, frowning as he once again felt how light he truly was. He carried the raven haired teen up to the room he'd been resting in before, and carefully set him down on the bed.
Ridding Harry of his shirt, he allowed Severus and Lucius to run diagnostics and feed Harry any potions he needed. Tom just paced around while they did this, as he didn't trust himself to do anything else. He knew how close he was to losing his temper, and that was really the last thing they needed at the moment.
Once the other two men had finished checking Harry, they returned to the sitting room. Collapsing into their seats, they sighed. Tom glanced at his loyal followers. Lucius was staring up at the ceiling, a strangely morbid look on his face. Severus had his eyes closed, and was pinching the bridge of his nose.
"How is he?" asked Tom after a long moment.
Severus was the first to respond. "Physically he is fine now, other than his weight, but at the moment, there is no way to rid him of his scars. The newer ones perhaps, but not the older scars. Of course, that would mean only a small percent of the scars will disappear. As for his mental and emotional state... Well, I have no doubt you already know the answer to that, my Lord."
Tom inclined his head. He didn't need anyone to tell him what Harry must be feeling-thinking. They all knew. Sighing inwardly, Tom looked over at Lucius and saw that he hadn't moved an inch. "Lucius?"
The blond man snapped to attention. "I apologize, my Lord. I was simply wondering how no one ever noticed what the boy was going through. It just seems very...unlikely, especially considering who he is."
"He hid it well," Severus agreed.
"Yes, he did. Even I did not notice," said Tom softly, "and I've been in his head more than once."
There was a very long silence that was abruptly broken when a snow white owl flew in through the open window nearby. It circled the room, before landing on the arm of Tom's chair. The man looked at it, expression almost curious.
"That is Pot-Harry's owl, my Lord," said Severus.
Reaching out, Tom stroked the feathery head. "He is safe, owl, and is resting upstairs. I have left the window to his room open for you."
The owl stared at him, almost as if she were judging him. She seemed to be alright with what she saw, for she nipped his finger in what seemed to be affection, before flying off through the window she had just come in from. The crimson eyed man watched her go, wondering what her name was. He would have to ask Harry.
"Did you see the scar?" asked Lucius, who was frowning again.
Pulled out of his thoughts, Tom looked over at Lucius. "Scar?" He hadn't really been paying attention, having been more focused on those intelligent amber eyes of the bird.
"Across her back," explained Lucius. "There was a scar running along the length of her back. You wouldn't be able to see it if you weren't looking closely."
Shaking his head, Severus ran a weary hand over his eyes. "Now I understand," he said softly, as if he unaware that he was speaking aloud.
Crimson eyes narrowed. "What do you understand, Severus?"
Onyx eyes met crimson. "Last August his owl suddenly arrived at Hogwarts. She had that injury on her back and a letter for Hagrid. In it he said that his uncle had accidentally hurt the owl, and since he had no way of treating her himself, he was sending her to Hagrid instead." He paused. "Hagrid was shocked by the severity of the wound. He said he was surprised she had even managed to make it there on her own. She nearly died doing so."
Lucius seemed to pale. "You're telling me that Harry's uncle attacked his owl?"
"I believe so, yes. I saw the wound. It looked as if it had been made by a whip."
Tom said nothing, but was furious at the very thought of Harry's owl being harmed by his whale of an uncle. Then of course, Harry's owl was really the least of the teen's worries. How many times had Harry come close to death in that house next door? How many times had Harry needed to nurse his own injuries? How many times had Harry fallen asleep cold, hungry, and in pain?
Feeling his anger building, Tom made a sudden decision and got to his feet. "We're paying the Dursleys a visit," he said. "Come."
Exchanging a glance, Severus and Lucius both followed suit, and left the house with their Lord, who had pulled his glamour back up. When they saw that, they pulled on their Death Eater masks. The Dark Lord clearly didn't want their identities to be revealed. Voldemort, anger already at boiling point, walked next door, and entered Number Four without hindrance. It seemed no Order member was watching, but that really wasn't all that surprising.
The three found Harry's cousin seated on his fat arse in the living room, piggy little eyes focused on the television as he devoured ice cream straight from the bucket. Uncaring about whether the Order found him or not, Voldemort caused the television to explode with a flick of his wrist.
Dudley Dursley stared at the smoking contraption in stupid bewilderment, before he turned and finally caught sight of the wizards. He screamed. Harry's aunt and uncle rushed into the room, and when they saw what was wrong, they screamed too. A couple of flicked wrists later, the three Dursleys were bound and silenced in the middle of the room. Voldemort, Severus, and Lucius stood over them, sneering and snarling.
"Crucio." Voldemort didn't bother wasting any time, and went straight to causing the pain he wanted these Muggles to so desperately feel. Starting with the uncle.
When the man began writing and twitching on the ground, his wife and son stared at him fearfully. Feeling extra sadistic, Voldemort cancelled out the silencing charm on the beefy man, and his pained screams filled the room. Petunia and Dudley flinched, tears rolling down both their faces as they watched in growing terror.
Voldemort didn't release the curse until the smell of urine became evident. He moved onto Dudley, while Severus and Lucius threw hexes and jinxes at the gasping whale-man.
"Sectumsempra," Severus intoned rather calmly. When Vernon screamed at the feel of the sharp and deep cut on his chest, the dark haired man smiled cruelly in satisfaction.
Lucius laughed harshly at the obvious pain Vernon was in, and threw out a hex of his own. Voldemort turned his Cruciatus Curse to Petunia, for Dudley had already pissed himself. He now lay curled on the floor, whimpering and crying. Leaving Vernon, Severus and Lucius focused on Dudley now, and once the Dark Lord was finished with her, moved onto Petunia. They hadn't gotten very far when-
"Stop! What the hell're you doing?!"
The three men looked round in surprise, only to see Harry Potter standing in the entrance to the sitting room. He was pale and out of breath.
"Harry?" they said in unison.
The teen rushed into the room and grabbed Voldemort's arm. "Don't kill them!"
Voldemort stared down at the teen gripping his arm, looking right into those pleading green eyes. "Why not, Harry? Do they not deserve it?"
Harry seemed to hesitate, gaze flickering over to his relatives, Severus, Lucius, then back to him. "Maybe," he admitted finally, "but that doesn't mean you have to!"
A soft snort sounded from somewhere in the room, but it was difficult to tell whether it had been made by Severus or Lucius. The snake-like man continued to stare down at the teen, and his expression softened just a bit.
"You are too good for this cruel world, Harry," he all but whispered, reaching out to gently run those sharp nails down Harry's cheek. He then refocused on the three Dursleys cowering on the floor, and implanted certain memories in their minds, wiping everything he didn't want them to recall.
Dropping his glamour while he signalled Severus and Lucius to pull off their masks, they placed the Dursleys on the couch and repaired the television as well. The would think that they had nodded off in front of it. The Dark Lord decided at that moment that he would deal with the Dursleys later. Perhaps when he managed to convince Harry of why they deserved more pain.
"Come," said Tom. "Let us return." The four had only made it to the doorway, when the crimson eyed man suddenly stooped down, lifted Harry up, and hauled him over his shoulder.
Harry didn't do anything at first, but then, a moment later, began pounding at his lower back with those small fists, catching his arse every now and again too, not that Tom minded.
"Hey!" cried the teen. "What the fuck are are you doing!? Put me down, dammit! Lemme go!"
Tom of course, didn't listen, and just kept walking, feeling amused at Harry's attempts to stop him. He had just walked through Number Four's front door, when he raised his hand, running up Harry's thigh slowly before it finally came to rest. He gave the soft, yet firm flesh beneath his hand a squeeze, and grinned when Harry gasped.
"Hey! Stop groping my arse, you-!"
Tom chuckled deeply, but didn't stop, despite the teen's squealed protests...
When Harry had woken up after having been spelled unconscious by Tom, he had actually been sort of surprised. He had been alone in the house with not only the Dark Lord Voldemort, but Snape and Malfoy, two of his most loyal followers, as well. All three of them had reasons to harm, if not kill him, and yet, they hadn't done anything bad to him at all. In fact, upon waking, Harry had felt even better than before. Whatever they had done had definitely helped him.
Harry still wasn't sure what to think about them knowing most of the truth behind what had been going on at the Dursleys...but maybe it was for the best. Maybe it really was finally time to get some help...
When he had gotten out of bed, Harry had found Hedwig perched on top of the dresser, and she had immediately flown down to settle on his arm, nuzzling him like the cats she so hated. After, Harry had gone through the entire house looking for Tom, but the place was almost ominously empty. Something was wrong.
It had only taken him a few seconds to guess where the man had gone, and Harry had bolted out of the house and run next door to Number Four. No Order members had approached him while he did this.
When he had entered the house, he had been greeted by screams, and he immediately knew what had been going on, and had been quick to intervene, likely only just stopping Tom, Snape, and Malfoy from killing his relatives. Tom's question about the Dursleys deserving the pain and death had caught him off guard, but while Harry had said not to kill them, deep inside, there was a little part of him begging for Tom to just end it and kill the Dursleys. He knew they deserved it, they had to for everything they had done to him, but still...
Harry had been shocked when Tom had suddenly lifted him off his feet and thrown him over his shoulder like a bloody sack of potatoes, and, blushing the entire time, he had begun pounding at the man in a desperate attempt to get the man to let him go. Instead, Tom had begun squeezing his arse!
Despite Harry's continued protests, Tom didn't put Harry down until they were in the sitting room of Number Two. Harry scrambled back quickly, cheeks a deep pink, and fought not to stammer. "W-what the hell did you do that for!?"
Chuckling deeply, Tom merely sat down, indicating that Snape and Malfoy do the same. "Did you see your owl, Harry?"
Huffing at the topic change, but sort of glad at the same time, he nodded. "Yeah. Thanks for letting her in." He smiled a little. "She seemed happy to see me."
"What is her name?" asked Malfoy rather suddenly from his seat next to Snape.
Snape raised a brow. "So you did read your textbooks."
"Of course I did!" the teen huffed in response. "Just because I don't remember every single little detail, doesn't mean I don't bother." And then Harry was left trying not to cringe when he realized all three men were staring at him intently.
Tom, seeming to notice Harry's discomfort, turned to look at his spy instead. "Severus? Did you not wish to speak to Harry here?"
Snape actually looked surprised for a moment, almost as if he had even forgotten about what he wanted to do. "Yes, my Lord, I did," he replied instead. He got to his feet easily. "Come, Pot-Harry. I think we will speak in the kitchen. I have been forbidden from speaking of this to the Dark Lord or any other followers, but Dumbledore did not say anything about not telling you. I can only hope no one overhears anything we discuss."
Harry stared at the man in confusion, but saw that he wasn't the only one. Malfoy looked confused too, and Tom's red eyes were narrowed. It took a few seconds before the teen really realized what his professor was saying. Snape mentioned how he hoped not to be overheard, when what he really wanted was to be overheard. Whatever he wanted to say was important, but Dumbledore had probably taken certain precautions to ensure nothing was actually said to the wrong people. But if someone just happened to overhear, then what could anyone do about it?
Wondering what Snape had to say, Harry followed the Potions Master into the kitchen. When Snape indicated that he sit at the table, he did so, watching the man move a chair so that they were sitting face to face. While this happened, Harry noticed that Tom and Malfoy were standing in the kitchen's entrance, which was to Snape's back. Harry decided to pretend he hadn't seen them, feeling that was best.
Harry cleared his throat, feeling a little nervous about being so close to Snape. They hadn't exactly gotten along in the past, and the teen hadn't forgotten the conclusion to his last Occlumency lesson, after the Pensieve incident. "So, uh, what did you want to talk to me about? Sir?"
Don't worry about the Dursleys getting off easy. They'll pay later on, once Harry warms up to the idea. Also, I think I wrote that 'torture' scene in English class ages ago. Regardless, now isn't the proper moment for the Dursleys to be punished. Harry's still keeping some secrets, after all. Anyway, comments? Kudos?
Yo! Sorry if some characters seem a bit ooc in this chapter. Thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So, uh, what did you want to talk to me about? Sir?" asked Harry, hoping this whole thing would remain civil. He seriously wasn't in the mood to have any sort of argument right now.
Snape seemed to regard him carefully for a moment, before beginning to speak slowly, as if he were weighing the words before saying them. "The Headmaster did not wish for me to tell you this, however I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to remain oblivious to it." He paused. "Have you been wondering where your Order guard is?"
Harry nodded immediately, because he had been wondering just that, for quite a while now actually.
"Dumbledore has decided to cancel the guard. You are no longer being watched by the Order."
The teen stared for a long, silent moment. He couldn't believe it, but at the same time, it made so much sense. He had been wondering how the Order hadn't seen fucking Voldemort move in next door, or come to the Dursleys for dinner, or talk to him in the yard, or go to torture and nearly kill his relatives. Well, it made sense if it was Mundungus doing the guarding, since he usually wasn't even there, but otherwise, he had just felt very confused about the whole thing.
Snape though, had said he wasn't being guarded any more, which obviously explained why no one had seen Tom. But why had they stopped watching him in the first place? Especially after the whole Ministry thing the previous June? Harry's confusion must have been evident on his face, because Snape continued speaking.
"Listen to me carefully," he said rather seriously. In a completely shocking and uncharacteristic move, he reached out and took one of Harry's hands into his own.
Snape's hand, Harry noted, felt very different compared to Tom's. While it was large and had long, yet slim fingers like Tom's, Snape's hand felt rough and slightly calloused, much like Harry's own hands actually. Maybe it was all the potion making.
"Look at me, Harry," Snape commanded both firmly and surprisingly gently.
The teen's gaze trailed from their clasped hands to his professor's dark eyes, but he said nothing yet.
"You must go speak to the goblins at Gringotts."
Harry blinked. "Why?"
"They can tell you far more than I," replied the professor. "When there, ask to take a Heredity Test. This will tell you everything about yourself. Everything. You must also ask to hear the wills of both your parents and Black. You should have already heard them, however the Headmaster doesn't feel the same, and never mentioned it to you."
"Dumbledore doesn't want me hearing mum, dad, and Sirius' wills? Why?"
Snape released a barely audible sigh. "I cannot say, but doing this will ensure you at least know the entire truth." He paused, then after a moment, went on. "There is more."
"What is it?" asked Harry rather hesitantly.
"You cannot trust Granger and the Weasleys."
"They are using you, Harry," said Snape firmly. "The Headmaster has promised them fame and fortune-books as well, for Granger. Everything you say to them, everything you do, everything you write, is reported back to Dumbledore, regardless of what you ask or expect to remain private."
Harry just stared, hearing the man's words but unable to truly understand them. He felt numb and cold, and was positive that he had begun trembling. "Are-" he broke off, his voice too hoarse to make any sense. Swallowing hard, he tried again. "Are all of the Weasleys like-like this?"
"No," replied Snape, "not all."
The sheer relief that flowed through the teen's body was almost laughable. Not all of his pseudo family was using him. "Which-which ones can I-can I trust?"
"The twins for sure," said the professor immediately. "They have been very angry with the Headmaster for allowing you back here every summer, despite the way your relatives," (he practically spat the word out), "have been treating you."
"Fred, George..." murmured Harry. He would have been devastated if he couldn't trust them, because out of all the Weasleys, they were probably the ones he was closest too. "Who else?"
"The oldest boy, Bill, for sure, and possibly Charlie. I am not positive about the latter, because he has not been around very often, but when he is, he does not seem pleased by your circumstances. Bill on the other hand, openly argues with the Headmaster, siding with his younger twin brothers. It was he who told me that you need to get information from Gringotts."
So Fred, George, Bill, and very likely Charlie were all trustworthy. But who else? What about Mr and Mrs Weasley? Ron? Ginny? Percy had never liked him much anyway, so he didn't particularly care, but the rest?
"They are the only ones you can trust."
Harry's eyes widened as hurt flooded through him again. "So-so Mr Weasley, and Mrs Weasley, have been using me? Ginny and Ron have been using me? This whole time? Hermione's* been using me this whole time?" If this were any other situation, he would have been embarrassed by the way his voice cracked.
Harry didn't speak. He was unable to form a proper thought, let alone a coherent sentence.
The teen very nearly whined. "There's more!?"
Snape inclined his head. "I am assuming that you have already figured out how the Dark Lord managed to enter Number Four's property?"
A bit confused, Harry nodded. "Yeah, he's got my blood in him now, so mum's protection doesn't matter any more."
"Indeed you would be correct, if the wards had been up in the first place."
There was a silence as the man's words sank into Harry's brain. It was as if his mind was working slower than usual, not allowing him to fully understand his professor's words. But then, a moment later, it hit him, and his eyes widened almost comically.
"What do you mean 'in the first place'?"
The onyx eyed spy sighed. "Do you know how else the wards could disperse? There are two methods, not counting the Dark Lord obtaining your blood."
Harry frowned as he thought. "I think Dumbledore said that I had to keep coming back until I was of age."
"That is one method, yes," agreed Snape. "The blood wards would automatically disperse the moment you turned seventeen, that is to say, become a man in our world, but there is a second method that was never mentioned to you."
"What is it?" asked Harry, feeling a sense of foreboding in the air.
"The other way for the blood wards to vanish, is for you to no longer consider Number Four Privet Drive as home."
Harry's eyes widened again. "But-but I haven't considered Number Four to be home for a long time now! It's been years since I last-!"
"Your mother's protection was no longer in play when you returned to Privet Drive the summer after your first year at Hogwarts," stated Snape.
"Because I starting considering Hogwarts as my home," Harry finished slowly. And hadn't he said so on the Hogwarts Express when they were returning? Hadn't Hermione mentioned how odd it was to be returning home? Hadn't his response been that he wasn't really going home? At that point, Hogwarts was his home- "which means that I've been forced to come back here for no reason! I begged him every year to let me stay at Hogwarts, and he always said I had to come here because my mum's protection was the only thing keeping me safe from Voldemort!"
Harry's eyes began to water, as years of pointless torture filled his mind. "Every year I had to deal with the Dursleys beating me, starving me, hurting me in every way possible, and it was all for nothing! He knew what was happening, he said so himself! But he still sent me back! He-I don't-" he broke off with a sob. When the rest of Snape's words returned to the forefront of his mind, he recalled the betrayal of Mr and Mrs Weasley, of Ron, and Ginny, of Hermione, and the tears began to flow freely.
Harry couldn't stop the tears, nor the sobs, but he brought a hand to his mouth, attempting to stifle the sounds. It was embarrassing, humiliating, but he couldn't stop. When he tried to raise his other hand too, he found that he couldn't, and trailed his watery gaze down to see why. Snape was still holding onto his hand, slowly rubbing it with a calloused thumb, and the simple gesture of comfort made him begin to cry all over again. It had all been for nothing! All of it was a lie! Words of this sort echoed through his mind over and over, and he just kept crying and sobbing, unable to stop now that he had started. He couldn't even remember the last time he had cried like this, not because he didn't want to or couldn't, but simply because it had always felt pointless.
And then there were hands on him, more than the two belonging to Snape. He was quick to realize that it must have been Tom and Malfoy. Someone had pulled him against their chest, the scent of cinnamon telling him it was Tom who was holding him close. One of Snape's hands was still clutching his own, so that must have been his other hand that was resting on his knee. Which meant it was Malfoy who was gently rubbing his back as he sobbed against Tom's firm chest.
The small circle remained as they were, the three men comforting the teen who had suffered so much over his short lifetime...
When Severus had asked to speak to Harry, he had known, immediately, what he was going to say to him. He, as a spy, had learned much from Dumbledore over the past few years, and many of the old man's decisions had made him feel more than a little uncomfortable. Especially when it came to decisions about Harry Potter.
So he had confessed to the teen all he knew was being hidden from him, aware his true master and lover were both listening in as well. He would have died-literally, if he had told anyone else this outright, but no one had said anything about accidentally being overheard. It had actually pained him to see how Harry was taking the news, and was not at all surprised when he began to cry. This alone was so different than James Potter, that it truly was then and there that he finally realized that this boy in front of him was not his father at all.
This was Harry Potter, a child orphaned as an infant, and sent to live with Muggle relatives who not only despise his very existence, but treat him far worse than Severus' own father had ever treated him. Harry Potter had been betrayed by those he considered family, betrayed by some of his closest friends. And Severus' behaviour at Hogwarts hadn't seemed to help the situation at all. He had assumed the boy had come spoiled and pampered, deserving to learn what it meant to be knocked into place. No wonder his words hadn't seemed to have an effect on the child.
He still recalled the first potions lesson, where he had berated the boy for not reading through his textbook. It had been odd to him, at the time, that Harry had barely reacted to his scolding at all, merely sitting there stoically before offering the cheeky remark about Granger. That had, no doubt been because he was used to far more cruelty at the hands of his relatives. It also explained why his detentions had never seemed to do anything. The child was obviously used to receiving beatings when he was punished. Cleaning cauldrons was likely a welcome punishment after that.
Now that Severus really thought about it, Harry's behaviour had changed not too far into his first year. In fact, he had begun behaving more like Ronald Weasley. It was almost as if he had started to...mimic the other boy's actions. Severus wouldn't have put it past him. However, if that was true, then Harry had not been acting like himself this entire time. It meant that no one had ever seen the true Harry.
Harry Potter was far more Slytherin than Severus had ever given him credit for being...
But Severus wasn't the only one realizing that. Lucius too had been shocked to hear what Severus had to say, and had been unable to help himself from entering the kitchen to offer comfort to Harry Potter when the boy had begun to cry. It had pained him to realize that this could have been Draco, his own son. Harry was the same age as Draco, and had been through such horrible things. What if his own dear Dragon had been in Harry's place?
Lucius knew that he and Narcissa, despite not feeling much romantic love between one another, cared very deeply for their son, and had done everything they could for him. Severus had too, being the child's godfather and Lucius' long time lover. Draco was like a son to him as well. And all three had treated Draco like a little prince, he and the boy's mother giving him everything he could ever possibly want. They had spoiled him, they knew.
And during all this, Harry had been beaten, starved, and locked up. He had been treated worse than the way most treated their House-Elves. And while Draco complained when he didn't receive something that he wanted, and bragged about his upbringing, Harry treated the smallest of things as treasures, and said not a single word about the way his relatives dealt with his mere existence.
It was so cruel, and so sad...
Tom had been quick to pick up on what Severus had been hinting at, and found himself quickly becoming more and more furious the more he overheard. The Dursleys and Dumbledore were not the only ones who were going to pay. Those Weasleys who had betrayed Harry like that, and the Granger girl too, had just taken a very special spot on his list. He had to force himself to remember that not all the Weasleys had been using his Harry. Those few that were still loyal to him, Tom was going to make sure they were not harmed.
And the blood wards. Tom hadn't had a clue that they hadn't been in play this entire time. Harry had been defenceless against him for years now, and neither of them had even noticed. Hearing Harry say that he had practically begged Dumbledore to remain in the castle over the summer break had reminded Tom of his own childhood, when he had, essentially, done the same.
When Harry had begun to cry, Tom hadn't wasted any time in going over to him. He despised seeing his tears, and wanted nothing more than for him to stop and smile instead. Despite Severus and Lucius' presence, he had been quick to draw Harry into his arms, half wishing he had someone to torture so that he could get rid of some of his own frustration...
It took Harry a few minutes to calm, but when he did, he seemed reluctant to pull away. Tom didn't mind, of course. He was perfectly content on having Harry close against him like this. Severus and Lucius however, did move away, seemingly wanting to give the teen some space.
"'m sorry," said Harry, suddenly stiffening.
Tom blinked. "Whatever for?"
"For crying all over you like some girl," he replied in barely more than a whisper.
Crimson eyes rolled as the man tightened his hold. "It's alright to cry every now and again, Harry. I'm not angry at you for doing so. And I would rather you cry all over me, than alone."
"I guess..." shrugged the teen.
Tom suddenly got to his feet, bringing Harry with him. "Come, all of you. We must find a way to get Harry away from here." They returned to the sitting room and resumed their previous seats, with Severus and Lucius in separate armchairs, and Tom and Harry next to one another on the couch.
"What do you mean by that?" asked Harry, once they were all comfortable.
"Hm?" voiced Tom, a bit distracted by the warmth against his side. He had gotten Harry to sit pressed up to him, despite the remaining space on the couch. He reached down and absently began stroking Harry's thigh, noting, with slight amusement, the uncomfortable look Severus and Lucius shared when he did so.
The teen flushed, but went on,"You said you need to figure out a way to get me away from here. What did you mean? I thought with mum's protection gone, I could leave whenever I wanted?"
That brought Tom out of his reverie immediately. "Ah. Your mother's protection was not the only thing keeping you here, Harry. Dumbledore has placed various spells and trackers on you, so that he can know your approximate location at all times, whether you be at Hogwarts or Privet Drive..."
*I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do with Hermione in this fic. I might start off with her being with Dumbledore, and later going against him and joining Harry properly, but I'm not positive yet. Hope this doesn't sound too rushed. Comments? Kudos?
Yo! Ages ago I received an anon review about why Number Four Privet Drive was between Numbers Two and Three. It isn't. One and Three are next to one another across the street, and Two and Four are next to one another on the other side. The houses are numbered in a sort of...diagonal manner. So one side of the street will have houses One, Three, Five, Seven and so on, and the other side will have houses Two, Four, Six, Eight and so on. That's how it is where I live. It might be different in other cities or countries or whatever. Thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry froze for a moment upon hearing those words, and then sighed deeply, as if in defeat. "Another betrayal, huh? I don't even know if it's worth getting upset any more," he muttered. "Spells and trackers... So these are always telling Dumbledore exactly where I am?"
"Not quite," replied Tom from next to him, shifting slightly. "I said 'approximate', not 'exact'."
The teen frowned. "Meaning?"
"If the old man were getting an exact location, then he would already know that you are not at Number Four at the moment. However, because it only gives him an approximate location, he merely knows that you are at Privet Drive."
"Oh. So he doesn't know which house I'm in or anything. Just the general area."
"But..." Harry paused, trailing off in thought. "Can you get rid of the spells and trackers?" He watched the three men exchange an odd look, and felt his heart sink. That couldn't be good. Looks like that never meant anything good, not for him at least.
"No," replied Tom, as Snape and Malfoy looked on. "Only the Goblins will be able to remove them, and if you leave this neighbourhood, the old man will know immediately. This is the only reason why I have not taken you away already, and instead, made a show of moving next door to you."
Harry didn't think that was quite true, but he decided not to question it. "Then what're we going to do?" he asked instead, really beginning to feel desperate. "I don't want to stay in Privet Drive."
Tom ran his long fingers through Harry's hair with a deep sigh, obviously having picked up on what he was feeling. "I know, Harry. I know. We will find a way, be sure of that."
Now Harry sighed too. He had long since gotten past wondering why all of this was happening to him, but it was still hard sometimes. Rubbing his eyes tiredly, he relaxed in his seat, which sent him leaning further against Tom, not that the man seemed to care. Right now, he didn't either.
I guess it's a good thing I never told anyone about anything all that important. Not that it matters, since they apparently went to tell Dumblefuck every single thing I did...
When the doorbell rang suddenly, everyone looked over, the teen's eyes widening. Who could that be? What if it was-
Tom got to his feet and glanced at him. "Stay here," he ordered. "Keep silent."
Harry nodded, suddenly feeling oddly chilly, watching the Dark Lord walk out of the room. He was worried that it could be Dumbledore or another Order member coming to look for him since he wasn't at Number Four. Then again, couldn't he just be over thinking this? Tom had just "moved in", right? Maybe this was a neighbour who'd come to greet him. Like his aunt had.
But it turned out to be neither.
Harry had been worrying for nothing, because the person at the door ended up being the mail carrier, delivering a package meant for the previous home owners, despite the fact they hadn't lived here for at least a year.
When the teen heard this, he began laughing almost hysterically. He noticed Tom, Snape, and Malfoy give him odd looks, but he barely paid attention to them. He was far too wound up right now, and sort of felt like he was going crazy. He laughed and laughed, finding it near impossible to stop once he had started. In fact, he laughed so hard, he choked and began to cough. Tom was by his side immediately, thumping him on the back carefully until he managed to stop and catch his breath. "Sorry," he gasped, breathing heavily.
The three men gave him an amused look, which was more shocking than anything else on Snape's part. Sobering, Harry leaned back in his seat, ignoring the others as he fell into thought.
So somehow, I need to get to Gringotts. But the old dick put all these tracking spells on me, and he'll know the second I leave Privet Drive. And apparently, only the Goblins can get rid of these things, which also means getting to Gringotts. But I can't do that with these fucking-ugh! Irritated, he sighed deeply.
There had to be some way around this. His uncle had always gone on about loopholes, hadn't he? Maybe there was something like that he could use to his advantage. His eyes shot open. "Bill!"
"I beg your pardon?" voiced Tom, sounding confused.
Malfoy didn't seem to understand either, but Snape's eyes dawned with understanding. "Of course," he breathed, drawing everyone's attention to him.
"William Weasley," began the professor, obviously having realized where the teen's thoughts were leaning to. "The oldest, and perhaps, wisest of the Weasley children. He has been working at Gringotts since his graduation from Hogwarts. Up until recently, he was in Egypt, working at a branch there. He has, however, returned to 'help' the Order."
Harry nodded multiple times. "Sna-Professor Snape said I can trust Bill, and if anyone can help with all this Goblin stuff, then wouldn't it be him? I mean, he may not be able to get rid of the trackers, but maybe he can get a Goblin to come here to help instead?"
"It would be worth the attempt," said Malfoy, before anyone else could speak. "If Weasley is close with his co-workers, then they may listen to the request. Particularly if you consider who they would be doing this for. Goblins may not care much for the goings on of Wizards, but the Potters are a very old, and very wealthy family..." he trailed off knowingly.
The teen blinked. "Er, old and wealthy?"
The blond head whipped up immediately. "You-you do not know?"
"Know what?" questioned Harry curiously, quickly getting the feeling he was about to learn something else Dumbledore never wanted him to.
Malfoy stared at him. "Who is your magical guardian?" he questioned suddenly. "They should have explained everything to you when you were eleven years old."
"Um, I don't even know what that is."
"Oh, Salazar." The blond turned to the Potions Master. "Severus?"
Snape frowned for a moment, bringing a long, potion stained finger up to his chin. "Being his godfather, it should have been Black. However, as he was never freed from his status as a fugitive..." He broke off, thinking. "I would assume, seeing as nothing else has been declared, that his magical guardian is the Headmaster."
Malfoy sighed. "I should have expected this." He turned to the teen. "As Severus said earlier, you must see the Goblins. Not just for removing the trackers. This is your birth right, Harry. You deserve to know it."
Harry nodded hesitantly. There was clearly so much he was missing, and he didn't even know the half of it. "How are we going to contact Bill? I know I have Hedwig, but if I send him a letter, well, he's at G-Headquarters, isn't he? Everyone will see it." He had been about to say 'Grimmauld Place', and had changed his wording at the last second, unable to say the former because of the Fidelus surrounding it.
Snape nodded. "As you wish, my Lord." He got to his feet, and with a nod to them all, left the house.
Moments later, Tom dismissed Lucius as well, apologizing for keeping him for so long. Harry still found all this to be really weird. Being allowed to call the man 'Tom' was already strange enough, but seeing that he wasn't torturing anyone, or trying to kill him, or even giving speeches...
Once again alone with the Dark Lord, Harry wasn't sure what to say or do. He sat there on the couch, watching Tom, who had gotten to his feet, peer out the window. Neither said anything for a long time.
Harry drew his legs up, and wrapped his arms around his knees, ducking his head. He hoped Snape managed to get to Bill without any trouble, and he really hoped Bill was going to be able to help him. He sighed softly, wishing he could at least send a letter to the few he could trust. He hadn't heard from anyone for ages, and felt lonelier than ever.
It was hard to believe the two people he'd considered his best friends had turned out to be traitors. But then again, now that he really thought about it, was it actually that shocking of a revelation? The answer to that, was no. No it wasn't.
Ron and Hermione had always done things that he had found to be weird, but he just hadn't ever bothered to question them. He had always been worried that he would do or say something that would send then running away from him.
Harry lowered his forehead to his knees. Speaking of running, he wondered if he could trust Remus. He was the last real connection he had to his parents, and had always been kind to him, werewolf or not. If he found out Moony had been lying to him the whole time too, Harry wasn't sure he was going to be able to handle it.
Learning about select Weasleys and Hermione had been hard enough.
Tom was far from pleased. The more he learned about Harry, the more his fury built. The teen's abuse was as obvious as a neon sign, and he knew Albus Dumbledore knew exactly what was going on. But what about everyone else? What about the other professors? Severus, of course, had his reasons for not seeing a thing, but that could not be said for any of the others.
McGonagall was not just a professor, but Harry's Head of House, and the Deputy Headmistress, was she not? She was supposed to be keeping a close eye on all her Lions, and voicing concerns when noticing anything odd. While it was true that abused children generally did not end up in Gryffindor, it was known to happen at times, and she should have noticed what Harry was going through in his first year. She should have helped him in his first year.
And what of Pomfrey? As the school's Medi-Witch, she should have been the first to find what was happening to Harry. She was a licensed Healer! Surely she put the facts together! Harry was too skinny, was far shorter than he should have been, and had had so many injuries over the years. A single diagnostic charm would have revealed everything. Not to mention Glamour charms, which Harry had to have been wearing at school, would have interfered with them, and Pomfrey should have noticed that as well.
The man frowned slightly. How many times had Harry been in the Hospital Wing since starting at Hogwarts? At least once each year, right? And more than that at times as well. Had the Medi-Witch never used a diagnostic charm on the teen then? Or had she merely ignored what she had seen? His eyes narrowed. Or had Dumbledore done something to prevent her from saying or doing anything to help?
If he really thought about it, the latter was also the most likely. Dumbledore would do anything, no matter how cruel, to get what he wanted. They were all mere chess pieces to him, pieces to move and manipulate as he willed, and more often than not, they would never have the chance to say anything against him.
Sighing inaudibly, Tom glanced back at Harry, finding that he was resting his head on his knees, which he had drawn up to his chest. He looked to be lost in thought-thoughts that, judging by his expression, were not exactly happy. Long fingers dragged through soft raven hair, as red eyes fell shut.
Why had Harry needed to get caught up in this war? Why had he focused so much on that prophecy? He had always known they generally never came true, and he definitely didn't believe in any of that Divination shit anyway. So then-
Tom's eyes snapped open. Why had he been so focused on the prophecy? Before that, everything had been fine, things had been going in his favour, contrary to popular belief. But then he had learned of the prophecy, and everything had gone to hell. It was as if he had lost his mind, desperate to find this child that had been spoken of, and end their life. Why? Why?
A sudden sharp, piercing pain had the man reaching up to clutch his head. Gritting his teeth, he fought against it, and continued trying to remember just how everything had been ruined all those years ago. Something was wrong with all this. Something was most definitely wrong.
"Tom? Tom, are you okay?"
The small hands gripping his shoulders, coupled with the sound of Parseltongue, were what brought Tom back to focus, and he opened his eyes, unsure of when they had fallen shut in the first place. He found himself starting into concerned green eyes, and he blinked, discovering that the pain had been so intense that it had brought him to his knees.
And then he realized that the fog had lifted. He was finally able to recall what had occurred to destroy everything he had worked so hard to achieve. He remembered everything.
Still on his knees and gripping his head, Tom began to chuckle-a low, dangerous sound that had Harry jolting back in apprehension. But he barely noticed. Crimson irises glowing viciously, he trained them on the cautious looking teen.
"Come, Harry. It seems we have much more to discuss."
Yo! Apologies if this chapter sounds strange or confusing. It made perfect sense in my mind, but was a lot harder to put into words. Also, I'm sorry if the first quarter or so of the chapter sounds a bit disjointed from the rest. There were some...technical difficulties and I lost that part completely and had to rewrite it. But since I wrote that part months before the rest of the chapter, and my memory is hardly the best... I tried my best to connect everything together, but I still feel like I missed something that was previously there.
Anyway, thank you to all readers so far! And this is a very dialogue heavy chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Harry wasn't sure what to feel. This was easily the most frightening Tom had been so far this summer, but the Dark Lord made no move to harm him in any way.
The man easily rose to his feet, then extended a hand. Harry took it, and was pulled up to his own feet. He was led back to the couch, but surprisingly, Tom didn't sit down next to him like he had been doing. Instead, he took a seat across him, in one of the armchairs...
Harry had been so focused on his own thoughts, that he hadn't been paying attention to what Tom had been doing. At least not until he had suddenly fallen to his knees. That had caught the teen off guard for sure.
Still, he had gone to help the man before he really even thought about it, and wondered what exactly was going on. Well, he wasn't going to find out until Tom decided to start speaking. And luckily, after another moment, he did.
"What do you know about my side in this war, Harry?" Tom questioned suddenly.
Surprised and a little confused by the unexpected and perhaps unrelated question, it took the teen a few seconds longer to process the words. When he had, however, he shrugged. "Just what Dumbledore and the Order have told me. That you hate all Muggleborns and Muggles, and want to kill them all to make a better world for Purebloods only."
"I see," intoned Tom slowly, bringing his fingers up to his chin. "Have you heard the prophecy?"
"In its entirety?"
"You have taken Divination, correct?"
Harry blinked, but nodded. "Yeah, since third year."
"Why did you choose to take it?"
The teen shrugged again. "Because Ron," he scowled, "suggested it, so we could end up together in the same class, and it sounded easy. ...Fat load of good that did."
"Then tell me, Harry. Do you believe in Divination?"
Harry shook his head immediately, not even having to think about it. "Not at all. But maybe that's because Trelawney predicts my death in every lesson, and well, I haven't died yet. But..." he trailed off, unsure of how to voice what he was thinking.
"But?" Tom repeated with a raised brow.
"Well, near the end of my third year, Trelawney made another prediction, but this one was completely different compared to her others. Dumbledore even mentioned it was her second real prediction. I guess her first one was the prophecy."
"What was it of? What did she say?" The Dark Lord sounded quite curious.
Thinking back, Harry tried his best to recount what he recalled. Tom said nothing while he spoke, merely listened intently.
"Is that right?" he said finally, once the green eyed teen had finished. He fell silent again immediately after, seemingly in thought.
Though Harry wondered what all this had to do with what was wrong with Tom, he sat where he was in silence, watching the man stare out at something clearly only he could see. When the Dark Lord began to speak again, it was so abrupt that Harry actually jolted in place, before quickly refocusing on him and what he was saying.
"What would you say, Harry, if I told you both of those predictions are as fake as all the others, and we have been manipulated into believing otherwise?"
Harry blinked. "W-what?"
Tom gazed at him almost solemnly, before beginning. "The initial war that took place, Harry, was very different than you have been told. I had fed many of my Death Eaters into the Ministry of Magic, taking up a political angle, along with everything else."
Tom smiled rather wryly. "Not everything can be accomplished through torture and murder. What good will that do? What would pain and death solve? Nothing."
Harry supposed that made sense. While it was true fear could get you a lot, it certainly could not get you loyalty. "So how did it all go?" he asked curiously.
"Not well. Not for long, at least. I had many powerful Purebloods on my side, but it was not enough to counter Dumbledore's influence. Every time the Dark took a step forward, we would be pushed away-our goal would be pushed away."
"What...were you trying to do, exactly?" asked Harry somewhat hesitantly.
"Create change," replied the man. "I wished to change the way Muggleborns and magical creatures are treated, and change the way Hogwarts is run." He looked at Harry closely. "Magical creatures are treated as if they are diseased, and Muggleborns coming into our world are not treated any better. And they will find no help at Hogwarts, the way it is currently being run. It is far too Light oriented."
The strange thing was, Harry believed him. Hadn't he seen the proof of the prejudice in just his first year? Hadn't Hermione been called the dirtiest name for a Muggleborn in second year? Hadn't Remus been forced to quit his job because the truth of him being a werewolf had come out? Hadn't people begun treating Fleur Delacour as an object once they had learned she was part Veela? And while he had nothing against people having House-Elves, he did have a problem with them being treated like shit. How many Purebloods did that? The Malfoys surely couldn't have been the only ones.
Tom seemed to know what he was thinking. "See? You have noticed it as well." It wasn't a question. Raising a hand, he stroked his chin in thought, before continuing, smiling sardonically. "Dumbledore has always had a...problem, shall we say?-with me. I noticed it the first time I met him. With time, however, it only began to get worse, and he as always watching me."
"You mean when he learned you were a Parselmouth, when you opened the Chamber of Secrets?" the raven haired teen questioned, remembering what Diary Tom had told him a few years back.
"Yes, and no. He discovered my ability when I told him of it when he informed me I was a wizard. But yes, after the incident with the Chamber, his behaviour changed. He was constantly watching me, following me, even."
Harry blinked, surprised. "He started following you? Like, around the castle?"
"Oh yes. It did not appear to matter whether I was returning to my common-room, going to a lesson, or sitting in the Great Hall for a meal. It was as if he was constantly there. He even came into classrooms during many of my lessons, making excuses for why he was there. Wherever I was, it was safe to assume he would be there as well, soon enough."*
The teen merely stared for a moment. "...That's really creepy. He was stalking you! He was a teacher! What gave him the right to follow you around like that!? It wasn't like you were the Dark Lord yet. You were just a student, and you weren't even torturing and killing people yet. ...Well, not counting Moaning Myrtle, I guess."
"Moaning Myrtle? Myrtle Warren, you mean? Yes, I remember her. She was a Ravenclaw though I honestly cannot recall what year. Her death was an accident."
"An-an accident?" the teen repeated, emerald eyes filled with surprise and confusion.
"No one was meant to be in the washroom when I called out the basilisk. I did not even realize she was there, until I learned of her death. But yes, Dumbledore was, essentially, stalking me. And that behaviour did not change very much after I graduated from Hogwarts."
"Not at all. I should have been welcomed in many positions at the Ministry, but with the way he and his...comrades were blocking my way, I could do nothing about it. So I took a job as an assistant in a shop in Knockturn Alley instead. Even then, Dumbledore seemed to make an effort to keep tabs on me, shall we say?"
Harry's head tilted slightly in confusion. "You didn't try to get the DADA professor's job at Hogwarts?" After all, wasn't that why there was a curse on the position?
"I did, yes, but was declined at the time for being too young. While I know Dumbledore had a hand in Headmaster Dippet's decision, I understood it at the time. Still, when I applied again years later, once Dumbledore himself had become Headmaster, he refused. I was now barred from the two places where I could have applied the most change."
"So what did you do?"
"I admit I fell far deeper into the Dark Arts. At the same time, however, I continued what I was doing with my Death Eaters at the Ministry. Many were prominent Purebloods, and with enough influence, things could have changed. But it was not nearly enough. Dumbledore had-has too much power, both in the Ministry, and at Hogwarts."
"I think I remember Hermi-" he broke off, remembering the betrayal, swallowed hard, and continued, "-Hermione mentioning how he has control over what laws are passed, or something like that?" He barely knew how these things worked in the Muggle world, let alone in the Wizarding world.
"She is correct. His position gives him that power. An example, actually, would be related to your godfather."
Harry blinked. "Sirius? How?"
"I believe Wormtail mentioned your godfather never received a trial, correct?"
The teen nodded, pushing his fringe out of the way. "Yeah. He said they just tossed him in Azkaban, no matter what he said or how much he protested."
"That was wrong of them, and it was also illegal."
"Illegal?" Harry repeated slowly.
"Indeed. Have you ever heard the phrase, 'Innocent until proven guilty'? It's quite common in the Muggle world."
"Yeah. A lot of the neighbours here watch those cop dramas."
"This statement also stands in the Wizarding world, Harry. Sirius Black had the right to counsel, had the right to defend-or hire someone, to defend himself. A single dose of Veritaserum even, would have revealed the truth. And during all those years he spent in Azkaban, or the time between breaking out and his death, Dumbledore could have called for a trial at any time."
Harry froze, his brain taking a moment longer than usual to process those words. "Siri-Sirius could have been declared innocent all this time? And Dumbledore-he knew it?"
Tom shrugged elegantly. "If he did not know the truth of your godfather's innocence during the time he spent in prison, he did learn of it once he broke out. So at least over those two years or so, yes."
"...Why?" The teen sounded...broken.
The man brought his hand back up under his chin. "And here we come to the crux of the issue. The prophecies."
"Not having Sirius declared innocent has to do with those?"
"Yes, indeed. While this is speculation at most, I believe Dumbledore was under the impression that I was becoming a little too powerful, a little too close to my goals, for him to be comfortable with. It is easy to be manipulated when you are too entrenched within-so addicted to Dark magic, and one little thing can send you spiraling out of control."
Harry watched as the Dark Lord looked away, out of the window for a long moment, and wondered how it really was so easy to believe all of this, how it wasn't at all strange that he wasn't doubting the man at all.
"Dumbledore seemed to realize very early on that I would be a threat to him, and he took measures to ensure I wouldn't be one."
"What did he do?" asked Harry somewhat hesitantly. It was strange to think of a time-any time, where the Dark Lord Voldemort wasn't in control of the situation around him.
"When I was a child, long before I had developed any protective barriers in my mind, he implanted...suggestions, ideas, of things I should say, things I should do. They did not affect me at the time, but they remained there, locked deep within my own mind. And years-decades later, when I finally began reaching my goals, I heard the beginning of the prophecy." He looked at Harry again now, as if sensing his growing confusion. "I never cared for Divination, Harry. I never believed in that nonsense. Not while I was in school, and not after. Not until I heard that prophecy. Do you know why?"
Harry began to shake his head, and then stopped abruptly, mid motion. "It has to do with the things Dumbledore planted in your mind when you were a kid, doesn't it?"
Slowly, Tom inclined his head. "Yes, that's exactly it. The moment I heard those words, indirectly though it was, it was as if something snapped within my mind, and suddenly I was...obsessed, compelled to locate this child spoken of, and end their life. And if others had to die along the way, then so be it. I don't kill children. Not all of my followers have the same...morals as I did," he spoke wryly, "but I never killed children before that. And as I said, Myrtle Warren had been an accident."
The dark haired teen understood now. "If it hadn't been for the manipulations, you would never have believed or even cared about the prophecy, right? But because of them, you did, and that's why you eventually killed my parents and tried to kill me."
"I will not apologize for that," said the man, looking at him intently. "It would mean nothing, and we both understand that, but yes, you are indeed correct. And attacking you nearly had me killing myself."
Harry nodded, and then frowned. "Then what about the second prophecy? The one from my third year?"
"Ah, here the speculation continues. I'm sure, at the time, it did indeed sound as if she were speaking of Sirius Black, and surely, after learning of your godfather's innocence, you assumed she had been referring to Wormtail instead, correct?"
"I believe it is possible Dumbledore never intended for you to learn the truth. To learn the innocence of your godfather. I believe he wished to keep the two of you separated for as long as possible. And this would be easy enough to do, if you thought he were one of my followers."
Harry nodded very slowly, and the man continued.
"It seems likely he was still attempting to do this, even after you learned the truth. If the public had learned Sirius Black had been innocent the entire time, and had been subjected to being imprisoned for more than a decade despite that innocence, there would have been an outcry, and eventually, once things finally settled, you would have been allowed to live with him. But you see, there is a problem with this."
"Sirius was a Black. And Blacks are generally followers of the Dark."
The teen's lips pulled into a frown. "But Sirius hated all that!"
"Did he really?"
Harry started to answer, stopped, and then gave the Dark Lord a look of confusion, not really understanding.
"Harry, after spending so much time in such a heavily guarded ward of Azkaban, it is very likely that your godfather was not as mentally sound as assumed. And how much time did he get alone with Dumbledore? Do you realize how easily he could have been manipulated? Every barrier in his mind would have broken down years ago. It was only his ability as an animagus that allowed him to keep even a shred of his sanity."
That was certainly shocking to hear, especially as he had never considered anything of the sort. But then again, more often than not, Sirius had behaved as if he were quite young, hadn't he? Still caught up in childhood prejudices, like the one with Snape. And how many times had he accidentally called him James instead of Harry?
"It is possible," Tom continued slowly, as if carefully considering each word, "that your godfather began catching on to what Dumbledore had been doing. Perhaps his mind began to mend itself-the barriers and memories returning."
"But...what does this have to do with keeping us apart?"
"If your godfather regained his memories-his sanity, he would be an influence on you. A positive influence, in many opinions, but a negative one in Dumbledore's. Sirius Black was more neutral than he was Light, and it was only assumed otherwise because he was such close friends with your father, a Potter, who are generally more Light oriented. But your godfather would have begun telling you to questions things, to begin thinking for yourself. And those are not things Dumbledore or the Order, want you to do."
And now, now Harry finally understood. "Because I would start realizing just how...wrong everything here is. And so he never had Sirius pardoned, so he could stay locked up at Headquarters, and maybe Sirius started trying to do something to get away, and Dumbledore said something or did something to have him go to the Ministry last June, where-where he-" he broke off, furious, and very sad.
Tom got to his feet now, and approached the couch the teen was sitting on, before kneeling down before him, looking him right in the eyes, red into green. "We have been manipulated, Harry. Both you and I, and your godfather, as well as many, many others."
Harry smiled, but it wasn't exactly friendly. "Maybe it's finally time for us to repay the favour, Tom."
*True story: this is what one of my teacher's did with me back in grade seven. She even followed me down the street in her car while I was walking to the bus stop one day. It was creepy as fuck. (-_-#) Anyway, that's it for now. Hope that all made sense. Comments? Kudos?
Harry smiled, but it wasn't exactly a friendly sight. "Maybe it's finally time for us to repay the favour, Tom."
The Dark Lord began to chuckle, low yet calm. "Indeed it is, Harry." He straightened back up. "Let us get you something to eat, and then we can begin planning."
The teen nodded and got to his feet, the two making their way into the kitchen for what could be called a snack, of sorts. Feeling hungry after everything he had just learned, Harry was actually able to stomach enough to be considered healthy.
Even as the two sat in silence and ate though, both were lost in their thoughts on what they could do. Getting Harry out of the house-out of Privet Drive, was one thing for sure, but what about after that? What about in the long run? What would they do then?
Tom didn't want to simply Apparate himself and Harry to Gringotts to remove the trackers, because Dumbledore would know of the change of location immediately. As Harry had more business at the bank, the old man was sure to be there long before he finished, and there was a chance he would spot the teen and take him away. The Dark Lord wished to avoid a confrontation in the middle of Gringotts of all places.
Which meant that, for the present, they had to rely on Severus getting Bill Weasley to come help, without Dumbledore finding out. Hopefully the young Curse Breaker would be able to help. If nothing could be done, then they would simply have to figure out a way to smuggle Harry out of the bank without the old fool finding him. It was a good thing the Goblins were all neutral and didn't care for either side of the war, preferring to use it to further their own business. Still, angering them would be a terrible idea.
Tom briefly explained his thoughts to Harry, who nodded with a thoughtful frown, biting into an apple slice.
"That definitely does make sense," he said after he had swallowed. "It's not like it's easy to escape from Dumbledore. Obviously, if he finds me, he's just going to lock me up at Order Headquarters like he did my godfather, and that's the last thing I want." He took another bite as he thought, then said, "What about Hogwarts?"
The man raised a brow in question, neatly biting into his own fruit.
"The Defence position? You wanted it, right? Why not go for it again, secretly, this time? You'd certainly be a better teacher than Umbitch. Hell, even Lockhart was better than her, and that's really saying something."
"Secretly?" Despite the way it was phrased, it didn't at all sound like a question.
Harry nodded regardless. "I'm pretty sure there won't be anything to stop you from getting into Hogwarts. I mean, you got in just fine when you were living on the back of Quirrell's head, right? And there's obviously been Death Eaters in the castle; Snape, Malfoy, Crouch, Karkaroff, and who knows who else. So disguise yourself."
The suggestion could almost be considered foolishly naive, but the more Tom thought about it, the more it actually began making sense. Harry was right in that, as far as they knew, there were no defences against him. He would have to test it first, to be sure and, if someone else had already been hired, a little accident would take care of them. He had no qualms against that. He was the Dark Lord, after all.
"The curse on the position probably won't affect you either," the emerald eyed teen went on, finishing up his apple slices, "since you're the one behind it in the first place. Why curse yourself, right? And it isn't like you're going to go around parading that you're the Dark Lord in disguise. I'm sure Snape will know, and maybe anyone else you really trust, but if they hold that trust, then they won't go blabbing, right? Especially since you'd probably kill them-literally-if they did."
Getting up to rinse his plate off, Harry kept speaking. "The professors come up with their own curriculum, which I know for sure thanks to Remus, Lockhart, Umbridge, and Moo-well, fake Moody, so you'll be able to teach us whatever you want and, as a professor, you'll be able to assign us whatever books you want too, even if they aren't in the library-Lockhart's weren't."
It didn't take Tom long to understand what Harry wasn't saying. Since teachers were fully in charge of their own curriculum, as long as he didn't go overboard, he could teach very...particular things that Dumbledore didn't want the children to learn. And now that they had begun discussing it, he found he actually wanted to try, already planning lessons in his mind.
He would have to check Hogwarts' wards against him immediately...
It wasn't until darkness had fallen, and Harry had begun nodding off, that there was a knock on the door. Harry was left alone in the sitting room while the man went to check who it was, only to return with Snape and a certain redhead in tow.
The Weasley smiled in his usual calming, yet charming fashion. "Hey there, Harry." He shot the Dark Lord a cautious glance, evidently aware of who he was, before approaching the teen, and enfolding him into an embrace. "How's it going, kiddo?"
Harry returned the hug gratefully, tiredness seeping away. "A lot better now that I'm not living with the Dursleys, that's for sure."
Bill released him, and took a seat on the couch next to him. "Snape's explained the situation to me," he said slowly. "Can't say I'm surprised, but I'm definitely pissed off." He heaved a sigh, then smiled again. "We'll have to talk about this properly later. Anyway, it seems like I'm here to see if I can remove some tracking charms, right?"
The teen nodded. "Yeah. They," he passed a glance at the other two adults, "say only the goblins can remove them, and you know me, Bill, I really want to get out of this stupid neighbourhood."
"Can't say I blame you there." The oldest Weasley child pulled out his wand, and got to his feet. "Alright, come here, stand in front of me."
Harry did so, and blinked as Bill set his left hand on top of his head, the weight warm, yet light and gentle.
"Now, there's no guarantee I can remove this," warned the Curse Breaker. "It would depend on what type of tracer it is, how long it's been there, the magical strength of the person who placed it, and the one it's been placed on. If I can't, then you'll have to rely on the Goblins. Close your eyes."
He did this too, and while Tom and Snape stood by and watched curiously, Bill began chanting in a steady, but rapid stream of Latin, speaking words Harry had never heard before, let alone understood.
Soon however, the dark haired teen began to feel something quite strange. It was as if his entire body was being pricked with hundreds of little needles. It was very...uncomfortable.
"Stop squirming, Harry."
"Sorry." He fought to keep still while Bill went on chanting.
It was difficult to tell how much time passed. On one hand, it felt as if mere seconds had gone by, but on the other hand, it also felt as if it could have been hours. But during this time, no one but the Weasley spoke, and the sense of magic in the air grew to a point where all four of them could feel it settle over them like a cloak.
Another few seconds, or moments, or perhaps hours passed, and finally, Bill's chanting ceased. The moment it had, a sudden weakness came over Harry, and he collapsed, only just managing to direct himself to the couch as he fell, giving himself a much softer landing. He half sat, half lay there, while Bill lowered down beside him, out of breath, and Tom and Snape approached somewhat cautiously.
Slowly, Harry raised his hand, and stared at it, as if he wasn't sure what exactly he was looking at. The others watched him in various degrees of curiosity, wondering what was wrong that his own hand was giving him so much interest.
"...Feels differen'" he spoke, his words slurring slightly.
The teen shrugged. "Like the feeling of being examined under a microscope for practically my entire life is finally gone?"
Bill just blinked. "Well, I don't know what this...scope thing is, but the trackers have all been removed."
The Weasley smiled slightly at the obvious excitement. "Yes. You were lucky. The caster's magic-Dumbledore's in this case, is incredibly strong, but I don't think yours is that far behind. Your will and magic wanted the tracers gone, which is the only reason the spells worked. Your will was stronger than his."
"...Oh. That's good. Right?"
Bill grinned and reached out to ruffle the green eyed teen's hair. "Very good." He stretched, sighed, then looked at the other two adults, and said, "So what's next?"
Tom, the only one who had the answers to that, spoke. "Now that all of Dumbledore's observation spells have been removed? An unencumbered trip to Gringotts."
The redhead nodded. "I hope it's so you can take my advice, Harry?"
He nodded in return. "I want to see what's what. I want to see why people I thought I could call friends-call family, decided to turn against me."
Bill flinched slightly, and sighed again. "Harry...Merlin, I can't tell you how sorry I am for all this, for mum and dad, and Percy, and Ginny, and for Ron, and even Hermione. Every time I saw you all together, there seemed to be genuine care, genuine friendship, genuine affection. At least, I thought it was genuine. The twins and Charlie were just as shocked as I was when we found out...well, the truth."
Harry honestly had no idea what to say to that. Finally, he just shrugged awkwardly. "What can you do about it? It isn't as if it's your fault or anything. They may be your family, or, in Hermione's case, close enough to one, but you can't control their thoughts and actions." He bit the inside of his cheek as he thought of his next words, then went on. "They made the choice to do this, and frankly?-it was the wrong one. Now they're the ones who'll have to pay for it. Not you. Not Charlie. Not Fred or George."
The Curse Breaker stared at the student for a long moment, before huffing out a laugh and ruffling his hair again. "You know, Harry, you're too good for this world. You really are."
Plans were made to spend the night in Number Two, and set out for Gringotts the next morning, before moving on to the manor Tom had been living in. Tom just wanted to see if Dumbledore would react immediately to the trackers being removed and do something. Harry had pointed out that everyone in Privet Drive knew he had moved into this house, and mysteriously vanishing like they were planning was only going to bolster the idea that Number Two was haunted, which was already a wild-well, wild for Privet Drive-rumour. Tom just chuckled at that, and said that it already was, leaving Harry to a very cautious sleep that night, because what?
After a hasty breakfast the next morning, Harry watched the man get rid of all the furniture, and then asked him why he had even bothered making a show of moving in like this. What had been the point of it? It wasn't as if he had interacted with any of the Muggles save his relatives, so why?
"I simply wished to see the environment you were living in, along with the precautions Dumbledore had taken in the area. Suffice to say, the neighbourhood is boring and uninspiring, and the old fool did nothing save for the spells around your house." He flicked his wand with a sigh, the large coffee table shrinking until it disappeared. "I had assumed he would have placed spells that would extend all throughout Privet Drive, rather than simply that one house. It was for this reason that I 'moved in' next door. If these spells were indeed in place, he would have known of my presence immediately. However, I have detected no magic around the perimeter."
Harry stared, the words sinking in. "So...every house in Privet Drive except Number Four could be filled with you or Death Eaters, and he wouldn't even know about it?"
"No. I could spend the entire day standing just outside the boundaries of the spells placed on your relatives' home, staring out at the windows, and he still would not have a clue."
"...That's insane! Shouldn't he have considered that?" questioned Harry, shifting away from the couch so that could be gotten rid of as well. "Or did he just not care?"
"The latter, most likely." All the furniture in the sitting room gone, he moved into the kitchen, the teen following after him. "Dumbledore is a very intelligent man, which is to be expected. His problem, however, is that he is under the impression that he is infallible. He doesn't make mistakes, and if he does, then it is obviously someone else's fault, because it certainly cannot be his."
Harry nodded slowly. He could hear the growing frustration in the Dark Lord's voice, and he really couldn't blame him. After he'd begun thinking more about everything that had happened, he'd realized there were so many things Dumbledore had handled the wrong way, but he had never once admitted it. The Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, Sirius, the TriWizard Tournament, Umbridge, the Ministry. Not a single one of those events had been handled in what most would consider the correct method.
"Why did you assume there would be spells around all of Privet Drive?" he asked curiously, voicing the only question he could manage to put into words.
Tom glanced at him from over his shoulder. "It would be common sense, for one thing. And for another, that is the way they have defended the Grangers' house and neighbourhood, along with their Order headquarters in London. That entire square is protected. The stronger the spells are, the easier they are to sense."
Harry blinked. "Wait, you know where the HQ is?"
The man smirked slightly. "Purebloods and Halfbloods who grew up in the Wizarding World are terribly unsubtle when it comes to the Muggle world. I'm sure you have seen so yourself. They do not know how to dress, or speak, and sneer and scoff at the most basic and common things in this world. It is not all that difficult to draw attention to a single spot where they all appear to gather."
Green eyes blinked again, and yeah, he knew exactly what the Dark Lord was talking about. He needed only to remember the Quidditch World Cup, and Draco Malfoy. Even Mr Weasleys reactions had always been a bit...overboard. He still didn't understand the man's obsession with rubber ducks...
Tom finished dealing with all the household things, and after making sure they had everything, stood in the empty sitting room, finalizing plans. "Good. Take a final look at the neighbourhood, Harry. This is the last time you will ever have to see it."
Nodding, Harry left the house on his own, and made his way up and down the block, looking at the identical houses, the green lawns, the meticulous gardens, and the fancy, gleaming cars standing in the drives. On his way back to Number Two, he came to a stop in front of Number Four, and gazed out at the house.
This place held so many memories. So many terrible, horrible memories. Was he really never going to have to go back? Was he really never going to have to see the Dursleys again? No more yelling, no more chores, no more cooking, no more beatings, no more pain? It was almost like a dream come true. He didn't know if he wanted to believe it. Hogwarts was supposed to have been his initial escape, but things hadn't gone well there either, so how was he to know that things were going to work this time around?
But he had Tom on his side now, right? Maybe it was wrong of him, naive of him to trust the Dark Lord, especially after everything that had happened, after all the bad blood between them, but at the same time, this man had already done so much for him-to help him. Dumbledore had practically ignored him when he had mentioned the Dursleys, and Tom had gone ahead and taken him away, had him healed even.
And anyway, even if this did end up with Tom killing him, Harry didn't think he'd care. He wasn't afraid of death. If he died, he'd be able to see his mum and dad, and Sirius again. Would others call that selfish? Sure. Did he care? Meh, not really.
Tearing his gaze away from the house, Harry returned to Number Two, finding the Dark Lord standing in the sitting room, watching him with an odd look in his eyes he wasn't able to decipher.
"Are you ready, Harry?"
The teen sucked in a long breath, then nodded and released it. "Yeah, I'm ready." He took hold of the offered arm, and with a final look at Number Four from out the window nearby, the two vanished on the spot with a turn and a crack.
Harry Potter had left Privet Drive, and as far as he knew, was never going to be coming back...
"Ungh-that's really bloody uncomfortable," Harry muttered, half leaning against Tom as he tried to stop himself from throwing up his breakfast. "And I thought travelling by Portkey was bad." They were standing in a shadowy alleyway just down the street from the Leaky Cauldron.
Tom merely chuckled and pulled away once he was sure the teen was fine. Pulling out his wand, he passed it over himself, and his appearance changed before Harry's eyes. His height remained the same, but his shoulders broadened, his hair lengthened until it sat around his shoulders, lightening to a chestnut brown, a colour his eyes changed to as well. His nose, his lips, and even the shape of his jaw changed a little, just enough to be different.
When he noticed Harry staring up at him in confusion, he smiled slightly. "A disguise will be necessary while out in public like this," he spoke, the pitch of his voice a bit different as well. "I don't doubt Dumbledore has already informed his Order of the way I used to look. It would be best for the time being if he did not know of my plans."
Understanding, Harry nodded. Tom may not have cared for the Order or Dumbledore finding him in Privet Drive, but these future plans were more important, and discovery would be a bit of a hindrance. Not a major one or anything, but enough to be annoying. "So, what should I call you? Do you have an alias?"
"Nathan Knight, will suffice. I have used it in the past, with this appearance, though it was not in Britain."
The teen frowned. "Do we have a backstory for why we're together? We're obviously going to be seen. I won't be surprised if we end up on the front page of this evening or tomorrow morning's Prophet. So what's the story? What's the history between us?"
Tom, or Nathan, rather, as he had to get used to calling him that while he resembled him, seemed to fall into thought. "Have you ever had the chance to be alone anywhere in the Magical World? Away from friends and adults, for any period of time?"
Harry didn't even have to think about that. "The summer before my third year, I spent the last two weeks alone in Diagon Alley. Fudge knew I was there, he even encouraged me to stay, because that was the year Sirius had broken out of Azkaban, and was supposedly after me. My friends didn't show up until the last day, and the innkeeper just made sure I was eating enough. Other than that, I just wandered the alley."
Nathan hummed in response, and raised his hand up cup his chin. "Then that would have been the perfect time for you to have encountered a man visiting his hometown. We met when you were thirteen, and wandering Diagon Alley. We began speaking and you learned I was born in Britain, but raised abroad. I told you I am a teacher, who had, and has, an interest in teaching at Hogwarts, though had never applied or been considered a candidate. We went our separate ways once you were required to return to school, though we remained in contact with one another using both magical and muggle means."
Soaking the information in, determined to memorize it, Harry nodded again. "Okay, and why are we together now? What happened to the tracers around me?"
"...If I bring up your treatment at your relatives' hands?"
Harry flinched, but shrugged. "I hate it, but if you're only telling Dumbledore, then it's fine, since I know he already knows about it."
"Then I have known how you were treated for the past couple of years, and having returned to the country, decided to take you away from the horrid situation, as no one else was bothering to do so, especially considering the recent death of your godfather. Neither of us are at all aware of any sort of tracers, however I decided to bring you to Gringotts to listen to the wills of your parents and godfather-which is something any sane person should have already suggested. We can go over the rest of the details later, once we've concluded our business at the bank."
Unable to argue with that, Harry replied with a simple, "Alright. Should we head over then?"
There we are. That's it for now. I just wanted a bit of an intro to the new...persona, and as stated, more will be explained later on. Comments? Kudos?
Yo! So sorry about the wait guys! New readers likely won't know this, but old readers going back through may notice that there's been some edits to this fic. One of the biggest things you'll notice is that I removed the bit that states whose pov is being written. I used to do that because I wasn't used to writing multiple people's pov's, and it helped me keep track of things, but I'm a lot more accustomed to it now and stopped labelling it in the past couple of chapters. Since I was going through and editing things anyway, I just got rid of those. Other than that the edits were just rephrasing things, and so on. No new scenes or anything like that. Anyway, thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As expected, quite a few people stopped to stare as Harry and 'Nathan' made their way through Diagon Alley and to Gringotts. Some approached them, but neither made any move to stop and talk and just kept walking, though they remained cautious. There was no telling when Dumbledore or someone from the Order would show up. In fact, it was odd that they hadn't already surrounded the two.
Harry and Nathan reached the bank without any problems and were pleased to see that it, thankfully, wasn't very crowded, the man leading the teen over to the nearest available teller.
"May I help you?" questioned the goblin with a sneer, peering down at them from over the obscenely high counter.
"My companion wishes to hear the wills of his parents and godfather," Nathan stated without preamble.
The goblin's eyes narrowed. "Your companion's name?"
"...Very well. A moment, if you will." He dropped down from the counter he was seated behind and vanished from view. He returned a moment later with a second goblin in tow, and told them to follow him.
Exchanging a glance, both Harry and Nathan nodded and did so, following behind the new goblin as they were led through many large, long hallways, before eventually reaching a large stone door. The creature knocked on it firmly, before pushing it open and gesturing them inside. He didn't follow them, instead simply turning and walking back the way they had just come from.
"Welcome, Harry Potter and companion," said the goblin seated behind a desk that was definitely bigger than it needed to be-like everything else around here. "Come. Sit."
They did so, and once more relayed why they were here. The goblin, who had introduced himself as Ragnok, simply nodded when they finished speaking and stroked his short, dark beard.
"I understand you were barely more than an infant when your parents' wills were read," he said, eyeing Harry intently. "That however, does not explain why you did not attend Sirius Black's will reading. It took place only two weeks ago."
Harry fought not to scowl. "I never knew it was happening," he replied somewhat stiffly. "I wasn't told."
Ragnok raised a brow. "The goblins go through each will and inform everyone who is mentioned within. You, along with the others spoken of were sent a summons, and it was confirmed that you would be attending. However, on the day of, we were told you were too distraught to arrive, though we heard nothing from you to confirm this."
"And who was it that told you this?"
The look Nathan gave Harry was a very clear, 'I told you so'. Harry couldn't deny it either. It had been some time before he had last really trusted Dumbledore, but this was just too much.
"Did he ever say anything about not allowing Harry to hear his parents' wills?" Nathan inquired.
"He did indeed," replied Ragnok. "Each time it was brought up, he claimed Mr Potter was too young, and would hear them in time."
"You didn't think that odd?"
"Not in the beginning. It is not rare for children to be sheltered from this sort of thing until they grow older. We asked Dumbledore more than once whether Mr Potter was ready yet or not, and always received a negative answer. We only began to grow suspicious when every summons we sent you was answered by him rather than you yourself."
Harry just frowned again. "I definitely never received any kind of mail from the bank, and no one ever told me about anything related to any of this either."
The goblin inclined his head. "That no longer surprises me." He didn't seem pleased at all, but mentioned nothing more about it, instead bringing out the three wills for the teen to finally go over.
Harry pored over them, and while the whole matter was emotional, none of it was very surprising. He had a lot of money, had hands in some known and unknown businesses, had been left a lot of personal items along with whatever else was in those rather large vaults, and he was never supposed to have been sent to the Dursleys. Yeah, Harry had figured as much.
The only currently important thing that came out of all this was that he now had a legit excuse for not going back to the Dursleys. Dumbledore had the tendency to use his parents' deaths as emotional blackmail of sorts, and Harry wouldn't put it past him to make him return to the Dursleys using that emotional blackmail to guilt trip him into it, just like he did every year.
But now that Harry knew his parents had never wanted him to be sent to the Dursleys in the first place (there had been a good five or six other names that had apparently been ignored), he could use that to argue back, or whatever. Not that Tom was going to let him be taken back in the first place. But at least this helped Nathan's case.
After going over the wills, Nathan suggested to Ragnok that Harry take a Heredity test (as Snape had said he should), and with a nod the goblin left the room to prepare for that, leaving Harry and Nathan alone in his office.
Already exhausted, Harry slumped in his chair and huffed out a tired breath. "Why did Dumbledore not want me to hear their wills?" he asked quietly. He didn't see the point of that. They were just wills. Did he stop other orphaned kids from hearing their own parents' wills? Why stop him them? Harry didn't understand it at all, and the entire thing was just beyond frustrating to him right now.
Nathan sighed softly, as if aware of what the teen was thinking-probably was too. "The Potters have always had a good political standing, Harry. Those titles-those seats, while useless to you for the time being, are very useful for others, Dumbledore included. And now you can add the Black titles and seats to that as well. He wants to use this influence for himself, and evidently has been for some years now. He has been using the position of proxy, and as you were young, no one ever questioned it."
Harry nodded slowly as he listened. "So how can I stop him from doing that?" he asked curiously.
"At seventeen you can take up those titles and seats yourself, if you like, although I understand that is still a year away."
"I don't want to do that, honestly," Harry said quickly. "I don't really care for politics, and don't understand them at all."
Nathan was hardly surprised by that. "If you do not wish to take all of that up personally, then you can assign a proxy of your own. They would do the same things Dumbledore currently is, only with your knowledge and permission, and could inform you on what would be happening on that front. You would be able to give your own opinion, and if you made a particular decision, they would be able to implement that."
"...Huh, yeah, that sounds a lot better to me." That was definitely something he would consider further, because he really didn't know how this whole thing worked and as he had no interest in it, wasn't exactly going to prioritize learning about it all if he could just have someone he knew and trusted do it for him. The only issue was that he had no idea who he would want to put in charge of such important things. But he'd think on the more later on. He still had more to do here.
And indeed, Ragnok returned just a few seconds later, explaining what Harry would have to do for the Heredity test and what were the usual things that came of it. While Nathan remained silent at his side, Harry asked a few questions to clarify things, and then took up the dagger to do as the goblin had said, making a cut to his finger and allowing three drops of blood to fall onto the parchment seeped in goblin magic that lay on Ragnok's desk.
Lines began to appear on it in dark ink, spiraling across the page and forming words-many of them, before eventually coming to a stop. Ragnok glanced over it, then gestured for the teen to pick it up himself. Harry did so, and yet again more that had been hidden from him was finally revealed to him.
There was an inheritance he had never heard of that Nathan claimed likely came from his mother's side of the family (he was going to have to find a family tree or something because clearly his mum hadn't been the only witch in that bloodline). He was also apparently a descendent of Godric Gryffindor, so that was something, and there was a relation to Peverell too, though that last one Harry hadn't heard of either. Part of his magical core had been blocked, though that block seemed to be coming off on its own, which was definitely a good thing. He had and ability called Parselmagic that had Nathan releasing a sound of surprise, that had been fully blocked, and that block was going to have to be removed by the goblins, as Nathan adamantly insisted. And Sirius had apparently blood adopted him when he'd been a baby, which was why he was able to take the title of Black Lord over other living Blacks-or so he was assuming.
After that, the block on his Parselmagic was removed (and it hurt!), though the one on his magical core was left alone, as it was vanishing on its own at a safe, consistent rate. Forcing it off would only hurt his core and his magic, according to the goblin. Harry was alright with that, so long as it did go away, and decided Ragnok likely knew best in this case.
Since Harry wasn't seventeen yet, there wasn't anything he could do about the titles just yet, and with that he and Nathan thanked Ragnok and returned to the massive marble entrance, moving into a shadowy corner where they could speak quietly.
"Now what?" Harry asked the man, still surprised to have not encountered any Order members yet. He and Nathan had been in here for a while now, and they hadn't made any effort in hiding their presence. Had the Order really not been informed about this yet? That was pretty weird.
"We will go to my manor," Nathan replied quietly. "You will be staying there for the rest of the summer. There's no reason to discuss things out in the open here. It'll be safer there."
Harry nodded, the two left the bank, and together, again attracting quite a few stares, they made their way to the Leaky Cauldron and out to the designated Apparation point nearby...
I know it was short, but I didn't see any reason to detail the bank visit since the information is exactly the same as it is in all fics of this basic plot. But hey, it's an update, ain't it? I can't say when the next chapter will be up. Hopefully the wait won't be as long as it was for this one. Anyway, comments? Kudos?
Yo! It didn't take me an entire year to update this for once! What a miracle! Or it would be if I believed in bullshit like that, at least. Anyway, thank you to all readers so far!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The journey to the manor, though quick, was not at all comfortable in Harry's opinion, the Apparating once more leaving him feeling dizzy and nauseous, just like flooing always did. Ugh. But he didn't think on that for long, straightening up and fixing his glasses as he glanced around the room he was in-probably an entrance room or something like that, he figured.
Tom stood by him, watching him silently, as if waiting to hear what he had to say before he said anything more himself. And Harry did speak after a quiet moment, looking up at the man.
"What happens when I go back to Hogwarts in September? If Dumbledore knows I didn't stay with the Dursleys, or even if you say you took me away because of what they were doing, won't he have a problem with that? There's going to be issues there, right?"
"You are concerned over the legality of my taking you away?"
Harry nodded slowly. "Yeah."
Tom hesitated slightly, then said, "Technically speaking, I have no legal claim over you, which means having you here with me now could, in some people's eyes, be considered kidnapping, especially if they feel I coerced you into coming with me. And while it seems like the Dursleys have no claim over you in our law, the same is not true in Muggle law."
Harry frowned. "So...how do we get around this? I mean, it's not like the Dursleys will care or call the police to report what happened or anything like that, but still... I really don't want to risk having to go back."
"There are ways around it," said Tom, gesturing for the teen to follow him through the manor. "Throw some money around the right way in the Muggle world and your custody in that world can be signed over to someone else both quickly and quietly. As you say, it is unlikely that your...relatives will argue against it. Our primary problem comes from the Wizarding world, because here Dumbledore has a larger method of contending against the change."
"What do we do then?" asked Harry, taking a seat at the large dining table in the even larger dining hall. "Dumbledore's not an easy guy to go against, and I'm pretty sure he's got fingers in a whole lot of pies."
Tom sat down across him at the table and leaned back in his chair. "There are no emancipation laws in our world, which is unfortunate considering your current circumstances. As you cannot accept your titles until you turn seventeen, there is little you can do on your own for the time being. The best thing would be for someone else to take custody over you for the next year."
Harry balked. "Wait, I'm not looking for new parents or anything! I don't want someone to be in charge of me! Hell, I don't need anyone in charge of me! I can take care of myself just fine!"
"I understand that, Harry, calm yourself. Whoever would take over your guardianship for the year would be doing so in name only. They need not actually attempt to parent you. You and I both know that you have no need for that at this point. And as I said, it would only be for the next year-until you turn seventeen."
"Then who do you think should do this?" Harry asked curiously. "Please don't say the Malfoys, because I don't want to have to call Draco Malfoy a relative, let alone a brother by any means so long as the kid continues acting like a git."
Tom raised a brow, looking somewhat amused. "You and Draco are the same age-in fact, is he not nearly two months older than you?"
"Not while he's a posh prick, he isn't," Harry replied in a mutter. "But seriously, not them, please."
"...What about Severus?"
Harry blinked. "Snape?" He cocked his head, curious. "Would that be a good idea? I mean...I know he was being kind enough these past few days, but..."
"Well as I said, he doesn't really need to actually parent you. It will truly be an in name only guardianship, and as Severus is also still considered to be on Dumbledore's side, the old man is less likely to argue back, no?"
That...was actually kind of fair, Harry thought. Dumbledore definitely did still trust Snape, at least to a certain extent, and probably thought Snape still hated him completely too. So if Snape tried to become his guardian for the next year, was that something Dumbledore was really going to fight against?
It was possible, of course, but honestly?-it was probably the best bet here. Obviously the easiest thing would be for Tom, or rather 'Nathan', to take that guardianship over himself, and while Harry was wondering why Tom wasn't bringing that up, he figured the man had already thought out plenty of reasons why he shouldn't.
"Then where do we start?" asked Harry. "We should probably do this right away, shouldn't we? There's only a month until classes start up again."
Tom nodded. "We should speak to Severus first, and get his opinion on all of this, I would say."
"What if he refuses?"
"...I would rather not have to force him into this, so if he refuses, then I suppose I will take up the guardianship myself, though admittedly, that is a last resort. I doubt he will mind. As already stated, it will only be for a year, and he won't actually have to parent you in any way. This is simply to ensure you won't get in any sort of trouble for leaving the Dursleys this summer, and won't have to return next summer."
Harry nodded in understanding, and then Tom stood, gesturing for the teen to do the same.
"I will speak to Severus tomorrow-I have other matters to discuss with him anyway. Until then, I might as well show you where you will be sleeping, and tell you more about this manor." He started walking out of the room, and Harry followed after him once again.
"There are certain rooms that will be locked for the time being, less because of trust and more because of danger. I would rather you not attempt to get into any of them. You have free access to anywhere not locked though, including the library..."
The two spent the next little while touring the manor, Tom explaining things and Harry listening. And as this happened, Harry couldn't help but feel a sense of...hope. Tom was speaking as if he was going to be staying in this manor for a long time, not just a summer or two.
Did that really mean that he was welcome here? Did that really mean that he could stay for as long as he wanted? Did that really mean that he would be safe here? Maybe even...happy?
"I'm sorry, Headmaster, but...do you really think this is a good idea? I mean..."
Dumbledore smiled gently. "I understand your reservations, my girl, I truly do, but this is imperative. You must understand how fragile and dangerous he can be without this, especially in his current state of mind It really is just a safety precaution."
"But, if he finds out, then-"
"He must not find out. You know how temperamental he has been recently. I promise you, this is all for the greater good." He stood. "Now, I will take my leave. I do apologize for intruding over your summer break."
"No, of course, it's alright, Sir."
And as Dumbledore left the large, neat house, seemingly satisfied, Hermione watched him go, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. She understood what the Headmaster wanted to do, and understood why too, but...she couldn't help but think that that logic was somewhat flawed.
But he was Albus Dumbledore, she reasoned with herself. He wasn't doing this to hurt Harry. He only wanted what was best for him, right? She should have been greatly pleased that he had asked for her help in this.
He had asked for a lot from her over the past few years, some of which she had done contently, others which she had done with some hesitation. She hadn't ever questioned any of those things she had been asked to do before, never really seeing the need for it. Everything that had been asked of her so far had seemed mostly innocent.
But this... What he was asking her to do this time... Hermione couldn't help but think that it was a bad idea. A dangerous idea. ...An evil idea. One she wasn't quite sure she wanted to have any part of. This was an idea she didn't at all agree with. It was an idea that she refused to follow. And it was an idea that she could never, in good conscience, allow to happen without Harry's knowledge.
She had to tell him about this. She had to warn him.
Now, I previously mentioned possible Hermione bashing, but hadn't confirmed anything as I hadn't thought it through. Going by what I wrote in this chapter, Hermione will NOT be bashed in this fic. I understand that Severus stated earlier that she can't be trusted, but I now know what I'm going to be doing with her. Sort of. ...I also just had deja vu while writing this AN. Weird. Comments? Kudos?